Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

Tallahassee Is Fun
by James Glaser
May 23, 2008

I never thought I would enjoy living in a big city after all my years in the woods of Northern Minnesota, but the people of Tallahassee are a pretty easy group of people to get along with. The truth is that it is unusual to find a native of Tallahassee. Most people here are like me — they came from some place else.

Wanda, my wife, is from Pensacola, and she is one of the few native Floridians I have met here. I have met people from Germany, Austria, England, Alabama, a few fellow Minnesotans, a guy from Venezuela, Georgia, New York, and just about every other State.

For the last ten years they have said that a thousand people a day are moving into Florida, and I believe it. However in this past year or so the trend is going the other way. More people are leaving than coming. Part of that is the high cost of homeowner's insurance because of hurricanes, and really high property taxes. I have met people who have to come up with $500 to $1,000 a month to cover their homestead taxes. That is on top of two to five hundred dollars a month for insurance. That means your taxes and insurance can be a higher payment than your mortgage payment.

Another factor in fewer people moving down here is that people who want to move here from other parts of the country are having a harder time selling their house, and they are getting less for it.

I moved down, and I didn't buy a home, which I am now thankful for. There are a lot of houses on the market that were on the market when I moved down here over two years ago. And many of the homes that did sell since I came are worth less now than when people bought them. I rent, and when the AC went out last summer, I was glad I rented. The man I rent from loves yard work, and he does everything. He did give me a spot to plant what ever I wanted, but he does everything else. Renting can spoil you, and I am now spoiled. To tell the truth, I don't know when I would have time to work on a house or a yard.

I work hard at the studio and gallery, and it is just out and out fun for me. I get to meet new people all the time, and the people down where I work have become good friends. With about fifty artist's studios within walking distance of my shop, it is easy to find somebody to talk to when I need a break. Also, if you want to try to do something new, there are lots of people around with the expertise needed to get you started.

Yesterday and the day before that I have been painting the north outside wall of the gallery. I finished the window flower box for that side, and so I needed to get the painting done before I could install it and plant.

It has been hot, and people come over when I am working, and tell me to take it easy. Yesterday, the people at the restaurant across the street came over with an ice tea for me when I got down from the ladder. That was nice, but not unusual. People are nice down here and are always willing to give you a hand when ever you are moving something or installing something. It is true though that I announced that I had extra brushes and paint, but there were no takers.

Every month the gallery does a little better, but I still don't make any money from it. When people come in and look around, a good number of them buy something, so I know I have the right things to sell. I just need more people coming in. I guess that is the story for every business. If anybody out there has clever ideas for ways to attract more customers, I would appreciate a note from them. I have ads on the radio, and some people coming in tell me they have heard them. This week my web page on the gallery went up. It is hosted by the Railroad Square. The web page address is

Right now, I am getting permission from each artist whose work I show so I can add photos of their work to the page. Of course with the new web page, I'll have to add that to business cards and my gallery post card.

There is always something to do, and I should be thankful for that, too. I have to admit there was a lot of "down time" in Northern Minnesota. Time when you were watching the snow fall, time when you were watching the snow melt, time when you were watching that bobber at the end of your fishing pole, and time when you were watching the Northern Lights and the stars at night.

Yes, city life is a bit more hectic, but Tallahassee does have rolling hills, lots and lots of trees and a multitude of flowers of every shape and color. After all those years up North, being in the South lets me discover different things: different flowers, different trees and shrubs, different people, and even different birds and animals. Sometimes a change can be nice, and Tallahassee sure was a nice change.

I was at the Gainesville VA Hospital for tests again this week, and while sitting there waiting, this young man came limping in and sat down near me. I asked if it was his leg or hip. He said "neither," he had eight back operations after being medivaced from Iraq after a road side bomb exploded under his truck. The guy was so upbeat, he brought a smile to the whole waiting room. He explained that the doctors wanted him to use a powered scooter like you see on TV, but he felt that if he did, he would never walk again. So even though it looked to me that walking was painful as hell for him, he preferred to limp around.

Another plus about Tallahassee is that it is a college town. There is Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and TCC Junior College. Having young people around keeps things hopping and college kids are always great to talk to. They have inquiring mind and are interested in what you are doing and what you are making. That interaction keeps you young. Staying young is nice, too.

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