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January 13, 2010

Frigid Florida Kilt My Good Time

By Elaine Viets    Ice 

I want my property tax money back. I’ve been scammed by the state of Florida. I expected the hurricanes, the crooked politicians, the crime and the crazy drivers.


That is the implied contract we have with Florida. As I write this, it’s 35 degrees and I had to dig out a sweater. It itches. My fingers are numb. This is an unnatural state, even in an unnatural state like Florida.

I can hear those of you who live in really cold climates with two or three feet of snow laughing your wool socks off. Thirty-five is a spring day for you.

It used to feel warm to me, too, when I lived in St. Louis. I never liked the cold. It wasn’t invigorating. Sitting in a freezer doesn’t invigorate. Then Don and I discovered Florida. It was warm all year long. The summers were contenders for the Hinges of Hell contest. At worst, we had maybe one or two chilly days. But we didn’t have week-long cold snaps.

This winter is the coldest in more than 80 years. It's so cold the media reports iguanas are dropping out of the trees. (Their blood doesn’t circulate when the temperature is under 40 degrees.) Farmers are struggling to save their crops. Manatees are huddling together around the power plant water outlets to stay warm.

I’m sorry about the crops. We’ll all pay for that loss with higher produce prices. I hope the huddling manatees beat the cold. But I am a firm believer in Cute Animal Rights, so I don’t care if the big lizards all fall down and freeze.  

Besides, I’ve suffered, too. Saturday was the 27th annual Southeast Florida Scottish Festival & Highland Games in Fort Lauderdale. I go every year. I love the sound of the pipes – and the look of men in kilts.

Bag piper Hey, between Hooters and football cheerleaders, I’m entitled to some equal ogling. I don’t embarrass myself by drooling, heckling, or hitting on kilted dudes. I simply stare tastefully behind dark sunglasses and hope I don’t get caught.

Muscular men in kilts are a common female fantasy, a staple of romance novels. Maybe it’s a version of the old idea that women love men in uniforms. And I really do like bagpipe music. Scot romance

Albannach The Fort Lauderdale Festival also brings in offbeat non-traditional bagpipe bands. This year, one was Albannach, http://www.albannachmusic.com/. This Texas-based Celtic hard rock band has wild men and warrior women playing pipes, drums, even an Australian didgeridoo. With their muscles and tatts, the band looks like they’d spend their nights breaking the heads in biker bars, but do they have energy.

The festival had traditional bands, hard-rock pipe bands, Weight Over the Bar and caber-tossing. That’s kilted folk tossing telephone poles and throwing huge metal weights. With a lineup like that, what could go wrong?

It got cold. Thirty-five degrees. Too cold for kilts and muscle shirts. The tattoos were covered with rain slickers. To compound the misery, it rained. Try watching hot men in a cold shower. The caber tossing area was slick with mud. The metal weights were wet and slippery.

Because it was cold, I could see what the guys were wearing under their kilts. And it didn’t have a blue ribbon on it, like the old song claims.

I saw men marching in kilts and long white underwear. Men and women in kilts and jeans. Women in kilts and clam diggers. (Woman up. You’re supposed to be fierce females.) One piper marched in a kilt and pajama bottoms.

I hope his jammies didn’t have feet in them.


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I'm starting a petition about Florida's false advertising. I came here for WARMTH. I have two electric heaters that have run nonstop for 2 freaking weeks. I've been wearing the same three long sleeve t-shirts and 3 long sleeve overshirts for 2 weeks...and I've had to split the wearing time with my husband! And I've had to wear SOCKS!!! SOCKS. My pedicure was a waste of money. My ears hurt when I walk my dogs (no earmuffs...who needs earmuffs in Florida. I DO!)I've had to let my 85 lb retrieve sleep in my bed to keep me warm.

So, who wants to sign my complaint against Florida advertising commission? C'mon people. You could be the next victim of this scam!

Sorry about the kilts watching, Elaine. Sounds like something I'd really enjoy. See you in a couple of weeks in Cocoa Beach at Space Coast conference,

Ah, kilts. Those of you keeping track for when Hank broadens her data-mining to the backbloggers, take note: in high school, I qualified for the bagpipe part of a drum and bagpipe corps, dancing the 'sword dance' in a kilt! Much as I agree with Elaine that Florida should not do a bait-and-switch weather promise, I do not blame the kilt folk for wearing longjohns, pj's, or whatever else it took to stay warm.

Sorry you Floridians have suffered the freeze, though! Hope it gets better soon.

Sympathy on the low temps, Elaine. We actually had snow here in Sacramento a few weeks back. It was the 3rd time that's happened in my nearly 56 years.

I don't blame the kilt wearers for having warm clothes underneath. I won't wear my kilt unless the temperature is 60 degrees or higher.

And I've got to say, I'm kinda worried about the iguanas & gators & exotic birds & animals of Florida. I hope they make it through this cold spell.

Elaine, this winter is quite different then from the one when, while in Florida, I fell asleep on the beach and got terribly sunburnt. Despite a relative severity of my sunburns I was kind of excited about them as in my country that time of the year the temp was something like – 31 F.
Anyway, get warmed and in the meantime get warmly dressed (as kilt wearers), because as we say: there is no bad weather, but there are bad clothes.

Don't feel all alone, Elaine! Here in Houston, last week it was 17-18-19 degrees. Today, as I sit here, we're at 36... and the morning newscasters are happy over that!

It all depends on what one is used to. You're right, for the northeast, this is Spring, but they screech if it goes over 78 in the summer, while we don't scream until it breaks 100. This is TEXAS, fer crissakes, and it's not supposed to be this bloody cold.


Good grief, it hits 35 degrees and the men need longies under their kilts?? They must be Italian-Scots. The whole point of the kilt is that the yardage keeps you warm!

I gave a kilt to my 17 mo-old grandson at Christmas. If he keeps growing taller at the same rate, he may be able to wear it to his aunt's wedding next new year's. His dad wears his kilt anytime a tuxedo is called for. Very elegant. And no long johns needed!

Elaine, Elaine - tease me with new music and I find the band has temporarily shut down their store. ::g::

So kilts and cabers in rainy cold weather? Sounds like Scotland to me. Heh. Definitely not South Florida, though. Brrr. Hang in there!

It's raining in Los Angeles as I write this. Let me get back to you after we've all slid into the Pacific and climbed back out again.

Okay, we're back.

What I want to know, Elaine, is this: have those invader pythons curled themselves into animal-print bowling balls?

It could hit 40 here this week. People are getting out their shorts and sandals.

Kathy, we have idiots here in Rochester who simply refuse to believe this is winter (with temps in the 20s). Twice last week I saw people in the grocery store in short sleeves and shorts. They have to be nuts!

LAaaine, I am indeed taking notes. We could, actually, have the Lipstick Chronicles Marching band! You've got to admit, it could be pretty great. And next year, we can march in Nancy's parade, or perform at the Fort Lauderdale festival.

But only if it's not cold.

Maybe there's a bait and switch lawsuit, Elaine? Big bucks for the frozen tourists?

FINE I hit post instead of preview. Grr. We need a remove. Is there a remove? I meant:

Laraine, I am indeed taking notes. We could, actually, have the Lipstick Chronicles Marching band! You've got to admit, it could be pretty great. And next year, we can march in Nancy's parade, or perform at the Fort Lauderdale festival.

But only if it's not cold.

Maybe there's a bait and switch lawsuit, Elaine? Big bucks for the frozen tourists?

I feel your chill. Look at the bright side. You probably had the sweater and a jacket. I think the state does owe you a one week refund on the taxes.

Molly and I honeymooned at Walt Disney World. We were married on January 1. Our guests struggled through 2" of slush to attend the wedding. The next day we were in Orlando for a "cold spell" It was 60. We wore short sleeves. We met another honeymooning couple, they were from Minneapolis, they were wearing shorts. We had a good chuckle at the Disney employees in winter coats, knit hats and mittens, all matching.

I tossed a caber in college, but not in a kilt, sorry. We did attend the St. Louis Scottish Festival one year. It is a blast! Good food, Scotch tastings, and... Well I forget things after a few Scotches.

If you think football is a "he-man" sport, check out caber tossing.

And Elaine, you are not the only one who checks kilts. Some of the women were wearing really short ones.

I'll join the TLC marching band if I get to play the tamborine, a fine Scottish instrument.
I'm sorry for the tourists, because we need you (and your money). But the locals are living in what northerners would consider summer homes -- little or no insulation, lots of windows and minimal heat. It's cold.

I'll join the band! I can be a pom-pon girl (have some experience at that) not one of those wimpy flag flutterers.

I already have a routine for Doo Waa Diddy!

Can I just say that they don't make Scotsmen like they used to? Jammies under kilts?!@ Whoa. Clearly, they don't know what real cold is, like the bone-chilling wet cold of the Auld Sod.

The bitter disappointment of not seeing men's knees under swinging sporrans would make me ask for my money back. You can have the beach. My eyes are usually seared for life because of some horrendously inappropriate swimsuit violation, anyway.

My daughter who lives in South Miami has been whining incessantly about the cold. That's all I'm going to say about that. lol

Sorry to all the Floridians regarding the unexpected cold. I have been doubling up on the gloves due to the cold!

But as for true Scotsmen. Aaaah, I just saw Angus in December. He came to work (although he has been retired for years) to play his bagpipes for us one last time at the site as it will be closed this year, ending a 50 year tradition. Angus has the brogue and everything...

Doc and Tom, iguanas, monitor lizards and pythons are not native to South Florida, so we're not too worried about them. They eat the local fauna and have no natural predators. Now Mother Nature will get them.
The birds and exotic fish are having a hard time and we're hoping they make it. A tropical fish farm near Miami froze solid.

Hey Pam -- don't be dissin' the flag flutterers! My daughter did 9 seasons of Color Guard -- 4 summer parade; 4 fall Marching Band; and one Winter Guard (just the flags inside a gym on a painted mat) and those things are weighted and many hours are put into creating the flags and costumes -- okay off my soapbox (can you tell I supported my daughter's adventures wholeheartedly)

Back to the "COLD" -- In Minnesota it is now a balmy 28 and by the standards that keep our brains in permafrost, it is warm enough to bicycle, wear shorts and t-shirts, but the sandals don't keep the snow plops and melted goo out of the toes, so the favorite is those plastic shoes that come in colors not found in nature (and the one thing Tim Gunn wishes were never designed)

AND our fair state just built a new outdoor baseball stadium -- we have below zero windchills in April and snow in October. It's gonna be interesting, that's for sure.

Stay warm everyone (and be thankful you don't have black ice to contend with -- that's when it's so cold the vehicle exhaust freezes on the ground and you can't see it until it's too late)

We had a huge downpour of rain early this morning in Los Angeles. I woke up and asked my husband "Is that rain? Is that rain?" He sprang to the bathroom window, opened it and shouted "Yes!" Wow. We got really excited. It seems silly but we don't get much rain here and when we do it's a BIG event.
I love bagpipe music. When we traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland we were treated to bagpipe music and Men In Kilts. My husband's grandparents are from Motherwell, Scotland.
Elaine, I hope that it warms us soon for you in Florida. When I think of deep-freeze in Florida I think about the oranges and other crops which we so dearly love.

A dear friend asked me to work with her one summer in her flagmaking business. She did color guard flags from April to October, making 10's of thousands of flags for high schools and colleges. I never worked so hard in my life, she worked long, long hours back then. And made six figures for her labor, too.

It's a fascinating business. They had to know the music, and worked closely with the guard and band directors so the colors, textures, patterns, and how the flags "fly" worked with the music, and with the choreography. One of her most spectacular creations was a "flag" the size of a basketball court times two, in the shape of a piano keyboard. This was pulled up by our high school's color guard, which then ran through the band, essentially floating the keyboard over the entire band, as a dramatic end to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". It was amazing.

I've seen a YouTube of a much smaller version of this, and without running through the band. Nothing like our band's performance.

I feel for you folks down south, honestly I do. I feel warm. Here in Vancouver we have been hitting 50-52F everyday for almost a week. Sure there has been some rain but who cares, warm and rainy in January, we'll take it.

Of course the winter Olympics could be a bit slushy at this rate . . . The base of Whistler Mountain has been on the plus side of freezing for over a week as well. Hopefully it chills up before the skiing events because even fake snow won't stay if it is warm enough.

Drama Choros at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota -- women wore long skirts, men wore kilts. One day, waiting for our bus, the men found out what women in short skirts suffer in -30 degree weather. We women were sympathetic enough to form a circle around the guys, saving their bare knees from frostbite. ;-)

For the TLC band so far we have, Hank, Larraine, Paulina, me. Karen will help with the fluttering flag. Any other volunteers?
Alan, want to toss a tree trunk for old times' sake?
Pam, on behalf of the state of Florida, I apologize for the cold weather.

I won't speak for Floridians, but I was definitely feeling miffed when, the night before I was to leave on my FIRST EVER cruise -- to the Bahamas, no less, my husband noted that it was supposed to be in the 60's in Miami the following day. Now, I actually love 60-degree weather, but NOT when I'm expecting to lounge on deck sipping fruity drinks that sport little colored umbrellas. Or snorkel for the first time in my life.

I'm just glad we got back before it got really cold -- and returned to our usual lovely 40-degree-and-breezy weather.

And Elaine, I completely understand your disappointment about the kilts. I've seen precious few men who look bad in those . . .

Sean Connery looks especially fine in a kilt!

As I've stopped being a Mel Gibson fan, I do have to say he looked mighty fine in Braveheart.

Elaine, add me to the band - as a flag flutter. (

And, I'll add that my flag was made of fiberglass and was 7 foot long. I tell ya, no wimps twirled those suckers in a parade or 1/2 time - especially in the rain.)

Marcia, you're in. And I'm impressed. A 7-foot flag is something to wave.
Pam, forgot to add you to the list as a pom-pon queen.

Even these guys look good in kilts:


This is in honor of my thrice-widowed mother's 80th birthday today. She'd LOVE this clip!

My parents live in Port St. Lucie and I'm pretty sure my mother is regretting ever mentioning that she missed winter. I'm just glad I'm not down there visiting right now--I'd be so disappointed.

Happy birthday to your Mom, Karen. Hope I get to hear the Wicked Tinkers on my 80th. What a spectacular sound.
Heather, you would be disappointed.Port St. Lucie is even colder than Lauderdale. And did I say I was a fan of your books?

I don't flutter, pom-pom, or play anything - but I bet I can march. And I'll show off my tats, as long as it's not too cold :) May I please join????? Pleeeeeeease?

Kerry, I misread "tats" the first time. I thought, boy, she really is eager!

I can't play or flutter either, and don't even have tats, but I'd love to be in the parade.

I'm sorry about the cold in Florida. It was a little depressing the last couple weeks, looking at the national weather map, and not seeing ANYPLACE warm. We're going up in the 40s this weekend, and can't wait. I hope the oranges and strawberries make it through.

I LOVE Albannach! Their live music is electric. Or is that because of the kilts......

Laura: Eager, yes, but not so much that I want to scare off the spectators :)

Please don't hate me: it's been in the 80's here.

We're all going to flock to CA to escape the cold, and send it into the ocean.

Laura and Kerry, of course you can march and show off your tats or anything else. Well, you might want to save the anything else until it warms up a bit.

I live on the Northern California coast. We complain when it's below 50 (!?!) and above 75. We're a little spoiled. I've been hearing about the damage to Florida's businesses-citrus, and tropical fish, etc. and am really sympathetic. Also the damage everywhere due to weather--and earthquake--is very disturbing. Good luck to all.

For those who wanted to see more Albannach, here's one called "In Bed with Quinsey." I don't remember tonsilitis being being so savage. Maybe they mean Quincy.

Maybe the marching band can march to CA...

The band sounds terrific. I imagine that California can bear the challenge of having y'all come visit/march/show off tats/twirl flags.
Seriously, warm up, Florida . . . a little cold is good for tulips, but enough is enough.

The fact that your blog entry here just uncovered some of the coolest new knowledge and online social trends in one go. How cool is that!

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