It's hard to believe that one week ago, I was here:

That's a picture of Anya at Cocoa Beach, off the Atlantic coast of Florida. Last week I had two performances with my friend and singer par excellence Dr. Julia. She teaches at Rollins College in Winter Park (a suburb of Orlando), and we gave a concert there and another one at a swanky retirement center near the college. When we put our program together last summer, I suggested that we do our Florida performances in the winter so I would have an excuse to leave the cold north behind for a few days! She was happy to oblige, fortunately, and I managed to make the trip into a working vacation.

I brought Anya with me. I would have liked to bring the whole family along, but Stuart didn't have the vacation days and Daniel would have missed a whole week of school. Anya got the prize of traveling with me because 1) she's only in half-day preschool so I would have had to hire a nanny for at least 30 hours, which would have cost as much as just buying her a plane ticket and bringing her along, and 2) I had to be in Florida for an entire week and that is a really long time for the two of us to be apart. It turned out that I had a lot of down time between rehearsals and performances, so it was nice having the company.

And anyway, it's no fun going to Sea World by yourself. Because yes, we went to Sea World. No, we did not go to Disney World. Anya is really anti-princess and doesn't much care about Disney stuff, which is a-okay with me. I consider myself extremely lucky to have dodged the princess bullet, at least for now. In any case, she was excited about Sea World because there are sharks there and indeed, we walked through the tunnel aquarium with manta rays and sharks. We saw the cheesy trained animal shows with seals and dolphins and killer whales...

...and got monstrous blisters from walking around in new flip-flops. It was fun, and I'm glad I did it once.

Anya's favorite part of the trip by far was going to the beach. We went twice: once to Clearwater (on the Gulf coast)...

...and once to Cocoa Beach (on the Atlantic side):

Daniel tasked us with collecting seashells, which we were able to do at Clearwater. He is proud of his collection and spent quite a lot of time washing each shell carefully, sorting them by size, and arranging them for display on some blue paper plates. He loves those shells. (I still feel a little guilty for not being able to bring him along...I've already promised him that next trip, it's his turn to come along.)

Oh, and as for the whole reason I was in Florida in the first place, the performances went well. Very well, in fact! It's even possible Dr. Julia will invite me back for another recital sometime in the next couple of years, though I certainly don't want to get ahead of myself. 


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