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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This week on the Gulf Coast.. not one of our finest


Kathryn Donovan was an artist. Deborah Tillotson had just started to work for Donovan in her home-based business as an office manager. Chad Reed's dad was a volunteer firefighter... his early exposure to helping people led Chad to become the Dixie County Sheriff's department Captain of emergency services at the ripe old age of 24.

All were victims on Thursday to a gunman, John Kalisz (Donovan's brother) who killed the two women at his sister's home (she had accused him of molesting her daughter) and wounded two women seriously...the daughter's early stage pregnancy was terminated and her fetus was killed in the shooting. Kalisz shot Reed later in the afternoon, when he was surrounded by law enforcement after attempting to flee.

One of those cases where Kalisz planned to go out in a blaze. Kalisz was 55 and it is hard to find any contributions he made to society in those 55 years. With criminal convictions in 7 Florida counties, Connecticut and Colorado, Kalisz lifelong problem with intoxication had ruined other lives, not just his own. Kalisz had plea bargained the charges stemming from the assault on his niece to 6 years of probation. He was frequently seen around his property brandishing his 9mm Beretta. With his record, how did he keep that? All of the women in his life lived in fear of him.

He lives. For now. With one murder being that of a law enforcement employee, Kalisz will most certainly earn the death penalty. But it is the hell on earth he created that will live beyond him.

There is too much of this in Florida. Too many lifelong criminals walking around through and around the cracks in the system.

One of Donovan's works is featured above. Her work featured color analysis.


We set a record here in Tampa Bay, with 24 DEGREES (ARGGHH!) on Monday. This was the culmination of 8 days of record cold. None of us are prepared for this much cold and for this many days. The electric companies had to keep shutting grids down, because we don't have enough electricity at this time of the year to heat like we needed to during this period. From balm to cold...well, we're all sick. I had three people out sick this week. On Monday, I had an ear infection. On Thursday, I followed it up with a crippling gastrointestinal flu. Holy crap, no pun intended. When coming back from the doc on Monday morning, I couldn't get in to my house. Garage door go. Touch pad for garage go. I figured out then that TECO had probably shut my electric down (my grid was down three times last weekend). I fished out my front door key, but when I went to the gate (open in the pic below):

it was frozen shut!!!!! I had to scale that little half wall you see there, which is about 3.5 feet. Talk about the cow jumping over the moon. I banged my shin and inflicted a serious gash. Went to the door and ooops... locks frozen. I worked desperately (I had to go to the bathroom!) and finally got in at 9:30. Whew. Then I huddled in blankies, called TECO and found out the heat would go on at 11:30. At 11:45 when it DID go on, I was a popsicle in a 50 degree house. Good for ear infections.

The weather hurt the citrus farmers, but their crops were nearly to market, and much was untouched. Our poor strawberry farmers, however, harvest in February; Plant City, a suburb of Tampa, has the largest harvest in the United States. It was a race to save the strawberry crops. The traditional method to save the berries is to water them all night, preventing hard frost -- and if the berries do freeze, the method usually saves the second and third harvest from the same plants by keeping the plants alive, even if the red fruit has to be discarded. They try to keep the berries at 32 degrees... the crop is destroyed at 28. A delicate balance:

As the farmers water and water, they change the level of the groundwater in the surrounding area, causing that perfect Florida mini-disaster, sinkholes. There were 2 major sinkholes that shut down large portions of I-4 this week, and and least 8 houses severely damaged as the earth gave way under them in the Plant City area. Man's inhumanity to man? Crops or homes? A difficult situation, to say the least. One of the largest:

The sinkhole, more than 90-feet wide and 50-feet deep, is located behind a home at 1624 CR 630 West, east of Tampa in Polk County. It swallowed most of Bobby Greenway's backyard. His well was destroyed. In the ensuing 8 hours, the house, which is outside the sinkhole, experienced foundation, walls and driveway beginning to crack. 3 houses close to the sinkhole have been evacuated, since experts believe it will continue to deteriorate.

Nothing, of course, like Haiti, but still, misery caused by the weather and man's inability to come up with appropriate response or safety in case of this type of weather.

Football is always in the news here. This week it is college... locally, after much speculation (and the fact that the University ALMOST took the only good coach the Bucs have), we got us a Holtz for USF Football. Charismatic Skip Holtz (son of the #@%!!&% Lou) has joined us and will probably heal the big division in the city after the firing and "fight back" of former Coach Jim Leavitt (see crazy Jim in my "Ego"post from January 11).

Holtz turned the Connecticut program around and has had amazing success at East Carolina. Although I think Lou is similar to a cockroach, he does know football. And apparently Skip knows it, too. In a bit of irony, although his contract is shorter than Leavitt's was (5 years) he actually makes more per year; nearly $2 million...(there goes that tuition going up again!) ....After a great start, Leavitt had stalled in the Big East, where his record was 17-18 in an average conference. And I don't like bullies either. Here's Skip in green and gold:

And, while not directly connected to Tampa, I must mention the perfidy of that jackass Lane Kiffin, who threw Rocky Top over to go to the west coast, taking his dad, long-suffering Monte Kiffin (a local hero) ... Monte's hauling his 70 year old ass to USC in LA, a place where he'll truly be a fish out of water, because his defensive genius is the only thing that stands between Lane and disaster. Lane can't coach himself out of a brown bag. He'll have a head coaching job as long as Monte's around, no later. I can't help but wonder if Vols fans breathed a sigh of relief to see the perfidious Lane kick up dust on his route west. Here's the last of Monte in Vols Orange: Monte... we miss you in Tampa!


Marion said...

Holy Crap, indeed! Wow, you've had a rough week. I thought the cold was bad here, but at least we had heat. Sheesh, girl! I hope you're feeling better by the time you read this. (I was very, very happy that our Saints won yesterday....I'm praying for the Cowboys to LOSE because that rivalry {LA & TX} is way too close to home for comfort!) Take care and drink lots of water and juice. Sending you hugs and 'poor baby's' galore. Blessings!

Bob said...

Ok lots to comment on here. The tragedy you lead off with is unspeakable. So incredibly sad.

I hope you don't mind that I laughed when reading about your scaling the wall and remember I am laughing with you, not laughing at you . . . pretty funny though. Hope you are feeling better.

24 degrees in Tampa?! Unbelievable.

As to football, we disagree and agree. I'm a big Lou Holtz fan. As to Kiffin? Well you can imagine all the hubbub around these parts.

Yes Monte is apparently a good guy but he obviously missed something in raising his son -- good manners, loyalty, tact, humility -- the list goes on. Lane Kiffin is a first-class jerk and was only biding his time at Tennessee while he waited for the next best thing.

Of course after the 2008 season the Vols kind of treated Phil Fulmer the same way Kiffin just shafted them. It's all "What have you done for me lately" in college football these days. If I didn't love it so much I'd give it up.

Kelly said...

Wow...what a post!! First of all, I was already admiring the artwork at the top of your post before I saw who the artist was. What a tragic story.

I hate that Florida has had so much cold weather, too. Especially for the growers. Have to admit I was laughing with Bob at the description of you going over the wall. Not funny at the time, I'm sure, but oh, the visual you gave us!!

Hoping things will warm and improve for south Florida!

Kelly said...

Guess I should have specified "Gulf Coast" rather than saying south Florida! Sorry about that.

quid said...

Thanks guys....

Further note on Lane Kiffin for Bob.. talk is that the young man was somehow spoiled to no end in the Kiffin home, even though Monte knows what to do to make football players men...he somehow missed it all with Lane, who is a big spoiled baby.

Marion, I'm for your Saints, too. It is a hard choice. The Vikings went down 4 times in Superbowls and never won. I did root for them today; which was really hard because I HATE BRET FAVRE. But now that they've knocked Dallas out, I had picked the Saints to win it all this year and so, I hope, they shall.

I did get a good story out of my frozen house refusing to let me in, did I not?


Donna said...

Such a horrific tragedy. My heart goes out to the survivors.

Yes, you did get a good story out of your frozen gate wall hurdle!!

Cold weather - very bad and painful for me. Bad! Bad! Bad! And my heater broke on the third night. Bad!!!!

Monte won't be around forever. The best thing he can do for his son is to let him figure it out by himself, even if it means failing. Oh well.

I can't deny that Bret Farve has had an incredible year. I wouldn't have complained if he fell flat on his face, but he shined on the field. I'm rooting for the Saints next week! It should be a good game. I'm having a tough time rooting for the Jets ... YES, I'm New York born and raised, but I'm a Dolphins fan and Dolphins and Jets don't mix. LOL!

Anonymous said...


First, this immensely shocking and horrific tragedy. The victims and survivors are in my heart.

However like Kelly I appreciated Kathryn Donovan's artwork,

Here in The Netherlands we heard about the cold weather and I had to think of you and Donna. I am sorry that you had such a rough time because of the cold and not feeling well at all. How are you feeling now? I also hope that Donna's heater could be fixed.