Tuesday, January 30, 2024

January 2024

Crystal Beach Florida

Hard to believe that January is nearly gone.  The "good news" coming out of the month is that we saw our primary doctor, and we both had better results (blood test, etc) than last year.  I still have high blood pressure, Marcia still has high Cholesterol.  With me, it is more a case of "white coat hypertension".  My doctor in Arkansas realized that when he would visit with me for a good 15 minutes and then take a second reading (nurse gave the first upon my arrival) and each and every time it dropped.  Not that I don't have high blood pressure, I do...but not as high as the 'test' says when taken when I first arrive.  At home, my pressure taken by my wrist pressure kit, is normally pretty good, so I took my wrist pressure kit with me just to see if there is a difference and show results I had from the previous 10 days.  There was a difference, the wrist test showed even a higher one than the nurse got...so at least I know my pressure kit is working, perhaps a little on the high side.

Crystal Beach Florida

I will be seeing a Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine specialist in two weeks.  Both of my knees are hurting, with the right knee being the worse.  Hope NOT to have major surgery, but this is my first visit to a Orthopedic Doctor, so let's wait to see what he says.

Pond at the Public Library, full of birds.

Our weather for January has been fairly typical.  We had a low one night in the upper 30's, although where we live it may have only got down to 40 or 41.  Our highs have been in the 70's and low 80's during most days, with just a small number where they were only in the high 50's and into the 60's.  

Wood Stork

Blue Heron

Wood Storks

Great White Egret

So far we have not had any sicknesses to speak of.  A few mornings we were a bit more congested than normal, but it did not amount to anything.

Mom, on the other hand, had another UTI, which is the third or fourth since she had the Antibiotic Infusion treatment back when we were still in California.  The doctor FINALLY has put her on a daily antibiotic pill, and we are hoping that this works.

In 1993 Joe Montana was traded to KC.  Being a 'loyal' Northern California boy, my football teams were the Raiders and the Niners, and among the 'hated' teams were the Rams, the Coyboys, the Steelers and the Chiefs.  This gave me a bit of a dilemma, because mom and dad moved to the Kansas City area in '92 or '93...so I relented and made KC one of my favorite teams.  In 2020 they Both were in Superbowl 54, Kansas City won.  Now they play again in this year's Superbowl, and my heart is with the Niners, but if KC wins, all is good.


Friday, January 5, 2024

Epiphany Celebration

Tarpon Springs hosts one of the largest Epiphany celebrations outside of Greece.  So, what is this Epiphany celebration all about?

Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs has more Greeks per capita than any other American city. The Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs dates back to 1906.  It's the largest Epiphany celebration in North America and draws more than 20,000 spectators, about as many people who live in Tarpon Springs.  My guess is that half those in attendance are residents, the other half are visitors.

The period between Christmas and Epiphany is called Dodecameron, or the Twelve Days. It is considered one continuous festive period and is where the term “Twelve Days of Christmas” is derived. Epiphany, also called the Theophany (meaning “appearance of God”), celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist. The first account of an Epiphany celebration is attributed to Clement of Alexandria (d. 215 A.D.).  (Information is from the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral website)

Above is this year's schedule.  From the night of the 5th through the night of the 6th it is a very busy celebration.

What most non-Greek people think of the most when they say "Are you attending Epiphany this year?" is the tossing of the cross into Spring Bayou.  20,000 or so people line the banks of the Bayou.  At the appropriate time, the highest Ecclesiastic Authority in attendance, typically an Archbishop, reads out of the holy book the Baptism of Jesus by John, he blesses the Cross and the Waters, a Dove is released by a young lady, and then he tosses the Cross into the Bayou.  The boys, ages 16-18 years old, jump into the water to find the cross which sinks down into the water. The Cross is 'found' and raised up out of the water by the young man who has probably fought off others who try to take it away before he breaches the surface.  They all swim over to the platform where the Archbishop is, and the young Cross bearer is blessed by the Archbishop, and then he is raised on the shoulders of the other swimmers and carried back to the Church.

Note:  The pictures above were taken by me in past years.  The pictures below are from news sources of previous Epiphany Celebrations.
The Dove is Released.

The Cross Swimmers are headed to the boats which are in a half circle...

...the cross is tossed into the middle, they dive into the water and the fight is on.  Note the boys in diving position on the boats waiting for the Cross Toss.

 The Cross is retrieved and held high into the air.

The young man who retrieved the Cross is carried back by the other swimmers to the church with Cross and Trophy in hand.  This young man is "SUPPOSED" to be blessed for the rest of the year...but the reality is that with some of the young men it has been more of a curse...but we won't go there...

The celebration moves over to the Sponge Docks where food and music are made part of the festivities.  That night the Epiphany Ball is held and there are unofficial fireworks and celebrations until the wee hours of the night throughout Tarpon Springs and the surrounding area.  (Yes Indy, you will have to deal with some fireworks tomorrow night, but it won't be too bad here in our neighborhood.)

FYI:  We do not attend any of the celebration, but have watched the Cross Toss via live television which includes four or five helicopters and numerous news people scattered all over the celebration area.