September 11, 2012
Greetings from Gita
We hope everyone is doing very well. It’s been a while since our last Newsletter and now that we’ve passed Labor Day and are heading into the Fall we thought it was time to bring you up to date on our activities. I apologize for abandoning you all this summer. Gita is alive and well but we decided that after nine years and 109 consecutive dinners we needed a vacation. So we’ve taken a few months off from Gita and have been working hard at Real Estate, Title Insurance and moving.
We started Gita in May nine years ago at the Italian American Civic League in Wilton Manors and we’ve held a dinner meeting each month since then. In fact, we celebrated our 109th consecutive dinner at Primavera in May. That’s a lot of dinners and we thank all of you for your wonderful support over the years. Many of you have been coming since the beginning and we’re extremely appreciative of your support. It has been a lot of fun and you’ve all been terrific. We’re happy that the bridge, opera, and dance groups and the Italian Language Classes continue to thrive and attract new followers and thank Ron Webb, Jack DeCrescente, Dominic Bisignano, Tony Janik, Mario Petri, Bobby Caruso, John Ritter and many others for their efforts in starting these groups and keeping them going over the years. But, as we said, although we needed a vacation we have every expectation of resuming the dinners in the Fall. Stay tuned.
Since the beginning of the year life has been pretty hectic for Juan and me.
Last winter we decided to downsize. When we bought our home many years ago one of our main concerns was to be able to accommodate my mom who was no longer able to live on her own. Since her passing we realized that as comfortable as it was we really didn’t need or want a four bedroom home. As the real estate market picked up we noticed that because of a lack of inventory our house was worth quite a bit on the rental market. There is a shortage of good rental properties of all types. When we checked the MLS we found that there were only three houses of any size for rent in our neighborhood and none had four bedrooms. So, we figured we’d rent our house and move to something smaller. The “something smaller” turned out to be a sailboat.
We reasoned that a sailboat would give us a cozy place to live and also provide the opportunity for us to do some traveling one of these days. When Juan and I first met back in the ’80’s I was living on a sailboat so returning to that lifestyle was not a totally unknown endeavor; at least for me. We originally thought we might get away on the boat for the summer but that turned out to be a bit optimistic. Not only did we need to find the boat and get our house rented but we also needed to keep pace with the all-of-a-sudden brisk and resurgent Real Estate Market. And on top of all that to prepare for the boat I decided to get my Yacht Captain’s License. So, in the Spring I took a bunch of courses at the local Sea School and passed the rigid Coast Guard exams and now have a Master Captain’s License in the event we decide we’d like to do some chartering or sailing classes.
So, the Xtreme downsizing began – from four bedrooms into 40 feet. Little did we realize what a huge job we had undertaken. It took months to find the right boat and then many more months to clear out the house to make it suitable for tenants. We did flea Markets, yard sales, Poverello, Craig’s List, give to friends, etc. It was not until the beginning of August that everything came together and the tenants moved in and we moved onto the boat in Fort Lauderdale.
Moving onto a sailboat presents a challenging learning curve. My first sailboat was 30 feet long and had a small gasoline engine, a radio, a compass and not much else. The new boat is only 10 feet longer but is packed with a million things that can go wrong or make your life a lot easier when they go right. From electronics to generator to solar panels to refrigeration to running water to air conditioning, to a myriad of hoses and and small electric motors, to sails and rigging, etc. Hard to imagine how they cram it all in, but they do. And as a mariner, it’s important that you understand everything about the boat, in the event you’re in Shangri La and one of the something or others stops working. The other thing about living on a sailboat is that it’s very physical lifestyle. Lots of climbing or leaping from the dock to the boat deck and over the gunwale down into the cockpit and then climbing up and down the companionway into the main salon while hauling yourself this way and that. Makes you feel like a monkey but it’s more convenient than joining a gym.
So far, we’re getting very limber and liking it a lot.
And during all of this time the real estate market continued to take healthy leaps forward. Juan and I became very busy showing properties to folks who were looking to make some sound investments. He is particularly helpful with the International shoppers. It doesn’t take much to improve on the skimpy interest rates that people are getting on their money these days. Buying rental properties is just one way to do that. I presume you’ve heard it before but there really is a lack of inventory in both the resale and rental markets. Sellers are occasionally even receiving multiple offers on their properties.
So, if you’re looking to invest in the real estate market or looking to sell your property or, at least, find out how much it’s worth, or if you just want do talk “real estate” don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d be more than happy to help. And if you’re looking to refinance we’d like to save you some money on your title insurance.
Additionally, as I turned 70 last month and Juan and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary, I admitted to myself that I don’t have quite the energy level as I used to. Consequently, we decided that it was time to retire from the restaurant business so that we could once again have a social life and could concentrate on real estate, title insurance and sailing full time. The past three years at Primavera have been terrific and although it’s a tough business it’s easier when you’re young. Thank you for letting us host your parties and celebrations.
And, finally, it is with great sadness that I report the passing of our truly beloved professor of the Gita Italian Language Classes, Il Maestro, John Ritter. For the past three years John volunteered his time and talents hosting the classes at his home. He was a gifted and entertaining teacher who was able to draw on his multi-cultural experiences from the years when he owned a restaurant in Rome. We are truly grateful for having benefited from his talents and will miss him enormously. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his loved ones.
Thanks to all of you for your continued support.
We have not had a dinner meeting since May but plan to return in October. Stay tuned.
The Opera Group generally meets on the fourth Sunday of the month at the Pride Center at Equality Park to view operas. For more information or to get your name on their email list you need to get in touch with Dominic Bisignano at [email protected] or Tony Janik at [email protected]
Tony reports that starting with “Wagner’s Dream” at 9 PM on Monday Sept. 10th WXEL (Channel 42) will be broadcasting the Met’s new “Ring Cycle” for the rest of the week. If you enjoy Wagner and missed it in the theatres, here is your chance to view it in the comfort of your own home.
The Ballet Group generally meets on the 2nd (second) Sunday of the month and the Opera Group meets on the 4th (fourth) Sunday of the month. The Ballet Group also meets at the Pride Center at Equality Park.
Quick Tricks Duplicate Bridge Club meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 and Saturday afternoons at 12:30 at the Fort Lauderdale Bridge Club, Holiday Park, 700 NE 6th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale Florida 33304.
All games are charity games, Masterpoints are awarded and a portion of the entry fee is donated to Tuesday’s Angels. Quick Tricks games are sanctioned by the American Contract Bridge League and the entry fee remains $6.00 for members $8.00 for non-members and membership is $10 for the first year.
ITALIAN LANGUAGE CLASSES
We’re definitely seeing some positive movement in the real estate world. While buyers have had all the best of it for some time now the decrease in real estate inventory has given sellers some encouragement. Your home is probably worth a bit more than it was a year ago.