“Riding With Freddie” remembers Dunedin’s friendliest resident

"Riding With Freddie" painting
“Riding With Freddie” by Meps Schulte. 60×60 inches, acrylic.

Freddie Webb was a Dunedin icon, locally famous for her friendliness, humor, and comical headgear. She cruised the streets in a bright yellow golf cart adorned with teddy bears, inviting complete strangers to ride with her and joking with everyone she passed. As part of the “Love Downtown Dunedin” campaign, the Downtown Dunedin Merchants’ Association commissioned artist Margaret “Meps” Schulte to create a five-by-five-foot painting to commemorate Freddie’s 92-year life in Dunedin.

“Freddie was never afraid to talk to strangers, and she could get away with anything!” says Schulte. “She was a friendship ambassador to Dunedin visitors, and with all her kidding around and teasing, she kept folks in town from getting too serious.”

The centerpiece of the painting is a smiling image of Freddie offering candy to children from her golf cart. It’s surrounded by scenes from her life, including the home where she was born, the tree her sister planted in the 1930’s, and the home where she lived out her 92 years. The painting includes teddy bears, rubber duckies, Freddie sailing on St. Joseph Sound, and her signature hat, which was bright orange and fuzzy. There’s also a scene showing Freddie inviting a family to ride, something she did often.

In the spirit of Freddie, Schulte even delivered the painting from her studio in downtown Dunedin on the back of a golf cart. “It was too big to fit into a car, and it made people smile to see Freddie riding across town in a golf cart,” she said. “She will never be forgotten.”

The painting is available for viewing at Lafayette & Rushford, in downtown Dunedin at the corner of Broadway and Main Street. There will be an official unveiling on Saturday, November 7 at 4 pm at the Mural & Canvas Art Walk & Block Party. The event will be held outdoors, with social distancing and safety protocols, at 730 Broadway. Tickets are available from the DDMA website, lovedowntowndunedin.com.

Love Downtown Dunedin is a new DDMA marketing campaign, targeted specifically towards the revitalization of the downtown Dunedin area. It includes murals and local art projects, events, and merchandise that celebrates the comradery of the community.

Pinellas Trail bench celebrates the art of painted rocks

Painted park bench on the Pinellas Trail

Margaret “Meps” Schulte was selected by the City of Dunedin to paint a colorful park bench, entitled “Dunedin Rocks,” for the Pinellas Trail, an urban greenway used by 1.5 million cyclists, walkers, and runners a year. Placed just north of the intersection with State Route 580, the trompe l’oeil design celebrates the practice of kindness rocks, painting artwork and messages on stones and placing them in public places for anyone to take.

“People who would never call themselves artists are not afraid to pick up a brush and paint a rock,” said Schulte, who lives in Dunedin, a few blocks from the newly-placed bench. “The next thing you know, they gain confidence and start making original art. The practice of sharing these rocks in public places encourages Gifting and Radical Self-Expression, which are two of the Ten Principles of Burning Man.”

The bench is placed between two of Schulte’s favorite restaurants, Eli’s Bar B Que and The Scone Age Bakery. The hands painted on the bench reflect the black and white ownership of the two businesses. The artist said, ” I envision people getting takeout from both restaurants and enjoying it on the bench placed between them. It’s a friendly, shaded spot where you can smile and say hello to people on foot, bicycle, or skateboard.”

Candy. Crushes. Competition.

I am glad to have worldwide acclaim,
In the self-published, dog-eat-dog game,
It’s my title, thank god,
That is prize-winning odd,
Not my writing, my looks, or my name.

BBC entertainment page

The BBC ran a teaser with “Candy crushes competition” as the headline

I don’t know whether to be excited or embarrassed.

When The Bookseller announced that Strangers Have the Best Candy has received the Diagram Award for the Oddest Book Title of the Year, they said there was no cash award, just a “passable bottle of claret” awaiting me in London.  However, their news release said that agents and publishers “are tipping it to be the ‘hot book’ at the forthcoming London Book Fair.” Is this an example of British humour (sic), or are they serious?

Light entertainment

All our plans for the evening were made,
When our friend, Ken, who crews on the Jade,
Made us just chuck them all,
For he gave us a call,
And said, “Come on, be IN the parade!”

Parade entrants gathered on the dock next to ours

Brunswick lighted boats, ready for the parade

You may ask, what were our plans for the evening? We had dressed up in Santa hats to watch the parade from shore! A huge thank-you to Pete, Ken, Deb, and Chuck for letting me practice my parade wave.

The experience brought back memories of the first (and last) time we cruised in a lighted boat parade, in 2003 in New Orleans. I wrote a limerick about that, too — one of my first!

How the West was wet

As the day breaks, a beautiful hush
Hangs o’er breathtaking fields, oh so lush,
But this deceptive green,
Is the most ever seen,
For the rain’s turned the whole place to mush.

Sometimes it’s the colors that tell the real story, and it’s a tragedy. Driving along, enjoying the lovely green fields in North Dakota and Montana, we suddenly realized: It’s not supposed to be green here! And those blue waters? The ones over the road? They’re not supposed to be here, either.

A rancher in Montana yesterday told us about digging a post hole on top of a rocky hill and coming back, two days later, to find it half-full of water. “It hasn’t rained, has it?” he asked his Dad, incredulous. “Nope.” In all their lives, folks have never seen the ground this saturated. Many folks couldn’t plant their crops. The ones who did say their hay’s not forming heads and ripening.

Our pictures show blue skies, puffy clouds, and vast green fields. The news organizations’ photos show tragic flooding and families fleeing their homes. Both capture the truth of 2011.

Here’s where we crossed the Mississippi.
Flooding along the Mississippi

And here’s some of the flooding along I-94.
Water over I-94 in North Dakota
Watch for water on road — yikes!

The following super-green photos were taken at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

Panoramic image of Theodore Roosevelt National Park overlook
Hiking in Painted CanyonThere’s plenty for horses to eat this summer

Pud muddle

We were driving from Durham to ocean,
When we happened upon a commotion.
All the folks in a huddle,
Had been stopped by the puddle,
But it did not impede our car’s motion.

I’d been worried, unable to sleep,
For I feared that my friend’s trusty Jeep,
Might get stranded and drown,
In that flood, murky brown,
But the water was 2 inches deep!

At an ice cream shop in Vanceboro, North Carolina, the woman behind the counter told us she had to be rescued from her house that morning by boat. When we asked about any flooding on US 17 to the south, she said, dramatically, “The water is over the road up that way — and it’s rising.” Concerned, we hurried through our ice cream and got back on the road. We found the flooding, one block away. It was just a big puddle.

Claire's birthday present

Official Barack Obama Portrait
If you think that equality’s great,
And you wish for a world free from hate,
And you have curly hair,
And your first name is Claire,
Here’s your present! It’s just one day late.

Claire’s birthday was the day before the inauguration of Barack Obama. The photo above is Obama’s official presidential portrait, which we’ll be seeing in federal buildings while he is in office. It’s the first presidential portrait taken with a digital camera.

Pitchin' and moanin'

Now there once was a feller, McCain,
And he took matching funds to campaign.
Now Barack has the dough
For his own TV show,
Which makes baseball fans loudly complain.

Speaking of complaining, Barry rolled his eyes and said no more political entries in our Adventures blog. But he just can’t stop me from limerickin’!