Here are the questions that I ask each member:
1. Please tell us about yourself. (ex.: your past, your professional status, now, where you grew up, where you live now and the zone, etc.)
2. Do you garden besides growing orchids? Tell us about it.
3. What is your favorite music, films, books, quotations, etc.
4. What other hobbies do you have? Tell us about them.
5. Tell us about your interest in orchids and how it progressed.
6. What is most important to you? Who are your heroes?
7. What are your dreams and aspirations?
8. What makes you laugh?
Jim, thank you so much for agreeing to become our second interviewee!!!
I was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We were fairly poor but no one realized it. My childhood was in no way traumatic so I became a rather normal kid. I graduated from Northside High School in 1963 and went on to Indiana State University. I was always little and knew early on that I would have to earn my keep by being smart. I studied math and geography and did quite well. At graduation, I accepted a job with the Defense Mapping Agency as a cartographer, primarily because they said they could keep me out of the military draft. A year later, I was off to basic training and a scenic tour of Vietnam. Upon my release, at the age of 25, I found myself poor, single, unemployed and somewhat bedraggled.
My first car and boyhood home:
Dad, mom and me with dog Tico:
My only choice was to go back to the Defense Mapping Agency in St. Louis and try again to build a life. I worked hard and took advanced math and computer programming classes at night. I finally earned the attention of management and was selected to go to Purdue University Graduate School to study photogrammetry and geodesy. It was difficult but I did well and it proved to be a career boost. I was offered a position with the Inter American Geodetic Survey in Panama to write and install mapping software for almost all of the countries in Central and South America. Thus began my travels and it is where I met my wife, Patty. She was a secretary in the Peruvian mapping institute while I was living and working in Peru. We were married in 1984 in Lima and this is a picture of the newlyweds:
Must have been the wine:
After 8 years of living, working and traveling in Latin America, I was chosen to be the liaison officer to Southeast Asia and we were off to live in Jakarta, Indonesia, for 3 years. We were first sent to a one year Indonesian language class at Monterey, CA. While living in Indonesia, I also worked in Thailand and Malaysia and traveled throughout Asia including Australia and New Zealand. I very much relate to Ursula when she speaks of her travels. Someday I hope we can sit down over a glass of wine and compare notes about all the places we've been. I finished my career in the northern Virginia where DMA, now called GSA, is headquartered. I cut my career short when my father passed away in 1997, and we moved to Florida to take care of my mother.
We had a home built on a one acre lot in Odessa, FL. Odessa is a nice community in the northwest suburbs of Tampa. We are located on a small lake that channels into a much larger lake so we can live in serenity yet be amongst the big power boats when we desire. Here are a couple of pictures that give an idea of our surroundings.
I have always loved plants and my travels have peaked my interest in tropical fruits. I especially like trees and roses and Florida living has pushed me into slightly different directions. The tree bit has expanded into palms and cycads and the spraying required to maintain modern roses was too much and thus I found orchids. My tropical fruit interest has blossomed and I grow a wide variety of citrus and other tropical fruits. I took the Master Gardener training in 2003 to exercise my mind and to learn about Florida gardening. I just love it and find it a great way to serve the community. I give lectures at garden clubs and public libraries, work plant shows and answer the help phone at the Extension Service. All of this keeps me on my toes. I like the odd and weird plants and my little "botanical garden" is full of them.
I like a wide variety of music. If I am relaxing in the house, I almost always listen to classical music. Nothing is better. I am a bass in the church choir and I just love the old four part harmony gospel music. I can listen to the Gaither Homecoming music for hours. I am in a couple of groups that entertain nursing homes with the old hymns most are familiar with. I also like soft, urban funk style jazz. In college, I made my spending money playing in a rock band but like the old time rock better than the new stuff. Here is a picture of me playing the accordion and trumpet at the same time:
Apart from what I have already mentioned, I mentor a class for the University of the South called Education for Ministry. It is a four year, graduate level course of study on the Bible, church history and theology. I also work in a soup kitchen a couple of times per month and have done some Habitat for Humanity work. I'm a bit of a handyman and enjoy that sort of thing. Then, in order to keep my girlish figure, I go to the gym at 7:00 AM, 5 days per week and do both weights and cardio. Thus is my life.
I would rather investigate than read. Therefore, my list of books is short but give me a subject and I will research it to death. That is why I am good a producing garden presentations and giving the library talks.
When I finally gave up on hybrid tea roses I started to play with orchids. I wanted just one of each of the alliances that do well in Florida so I could study and learn about them. Well, 4 or 5 soon became 20 or 30 and then Kathy sent me a pair of her buying shoes and then I found Apopka. The light at the end of the tunnel was turned off and there was no going back. Now, life is good but expensive.
My only real hero was my father. He was a wonderful man who taught me excellent values and I love him dearly. The most important thing to me is to leave the world just a little better than I found it. After all, we are only here to love God and to love each other. My favorite quote is the Golden Rule.
I think I am living my dream. I have far more than I deserve and I know I am blessed. Now to give a little back and to help others seems like a reasonable goal.
What makes me laugh? Just about everything. I can remember being in boring meetings back when I was working. I used to imagine myself floating above the table, taking it all in and realizing how silly and futile it was. Then everyone would look at me and wonder why I was grinning. That reminds me of another favorite quote: "Don't worry about the small stuff and remember, it's all small stuff".
So, here I sit, enjoying the day. Thanks for letting me expound a bit. I hope it was as interesting for you as it was good for me.