Saturday, May 31, 2008

Green Earth

I've been trying to go 'green', save the earth and all that good stuff. Well, apparently, I've gone grey. I installed rain barrels on all of my downspouts. Florida is suffering from a drought. I can use the saved water (when it occasionally rains) for my plants.

Today I am dipping water out from one of the rain barrels in the side yard to water my drought tolerant plants. They were brown and ugly looking. I see this furry grey thing floating in my rain barrel. It had a long tail and a point nose. OMG!!!! A rat. A dead rat. Fouling up my precious rain water.

I have a cat and a dog. Why didn't they chase this vulgar critter into some neighbors yard? They are not doing their job. I should write them up for that.

My rain barrels all have lids - secure lids. How did this disgusting rodent get into my rain water? Did he run along the roof and somehow get in the gutters? My theory is - where there's one rat there is bound to be more.

I have a doggie door and they possibly could get into my house. YIKES!!!

So, my going 'green' has turned into going grey and furry. I will not let this roadblock deter me. I will still try my best to be earth friendly and work with the environment.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Going Green

'Green' products are everywhere. They are the 'thing' to purchase. Many 'green' products have been around for a long time and have been overlooked for many reasons - some being the cost or the convenience. In general we seem to be more aware of our environment and our future. Why did it take us so long?

Many business have sprouted the 'green' tag. "Green is everywhere.

It's good to see so much 'green' - but is it just a hype? To sell more products, to increase the cost of products or make us all aware of our fragile future?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Words of Wisdom

From Christopher Robin to Pooh.

"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shoes of Soldiers

I walk across the dry brittle grass burnt by the long hot summer and lack of rain; it crunches beneath my new black suede shoes. As I move my heels slip slightly into the parched soil. A North wind blows softly over the field and floats through the gathering crowd. The blue sky is littered with dark ominous looking clouds. Birds chirp with enthusiasm as if their world has not collapsed, like ours. The noonday sun splashes a rainbow of colors against the stark grayed headstones in the old part of the cemetery. My world has become shrouded in disbelief. I amble slowly toward the new section.

I stand alone in my sadness surrounded and almost suffocated by family and friends. Rampant thoughts swirl inside my pounding head. The heat warms my skin but does not remove the coldness inside my heart. A heart heavy and cold pulsates inside my chest. Anxiety, fear, sadness, anger and remorse surge uncontrollably within my veins. I feel lost within a crowd. I am a trespasser in a foreign land. I am diagonally parked on a parallel planet. I make room for absence. I trample a dandelion with my new suede shoes.

The fresh pile of dirt covered discreetly by fake green carpeting smells musty. Stale air permeates under the temporary canopy. Cold metal chairs are transformed into soft cushy parlor chairs. The camouflage does not work because the chairs still feel cold like my heart. More fake green carpeting covers the recently ravaged earth. Immortality is present. My steps across the carpet are without noise matching the crowd. I look down at my new shoes and see wayward dirt encasing my heels.

A gigantic flag is removed and folded with expert precision like the work of a talented tool and die maker. The craftsman lies silently but peacefully within a beautiful carved vessel with the wood shined and buffed to a brilliant sheen. It looks so like one of his fantastic creations. He would have approved of this finely crafted ship that takes him beyond away from his loved ones. It has his stamp of approval, a truly divine piece of art for his solo departure from this place. Eternity prevails. Memories of him trudging through the yard with faded leather boots encrusted with dried mud flash through my mind.

A delicate ribbon has been secured around the handle of a small white plastic shovel. The tool sits atop the vessel. I gaze at the shovel and I can see him digging away and doing what he loved to do. I blink and come back to reality. He will dig no more, only in my thoughts. When I smell the musty odor of dirt I will think of him and remember. I look at the dusting of dirt on my shoes.

I watch his children overcome with grief and sadness. Their loss painful and unbearable pushes them into a dark abyss. Each one absorbs the enormity of the situation in their own way. I see them empowered by the misery and it’s like watching a volcano erupt spewing hot molten lava across the earth paralyzing everything in its path. Their sorrow seems like the horrific force of hurricane winds whipping across the land, bending, breaking and destroying precious memories. The sky has fallen; the earth has tipped and collided with an alien planet leaving a lifetime of emotions exposed and vulnerable. The heels of my shoes slip slowly into the dirt.

His wife stands like a proud soldier, indestructible, powerful and determined. She really is an imposter made of delicate porcelain ready to shatter at any moment. If she stood in the noonday sun she would melt like a Popsicle and if the wind were to blow she would be swept away. Oblivion shrouds her every thought and movement. She accepts her new unwanted singleness as she accepts the sun rising in the East. Her emptiness is bountiful. The eyes once a brilliant shade of blue is awash in despair. She is suspended between here and there. She is a lost soul in the valley of helplessness. Shining through the darkness her love for him shines as if it were a beacon on a lighthouse.

The priest standing at the head of the vessel his tall frame bent with age begins his farewell speech. I watch his lips quiver but I hear nothing lost within my sorrow. His hands flutter through the air as he reaches for the white plastic shovel tied with a bow. I can imagine what he is saying but I am off to some distant place and I only hear my heavy breathing. I wonder how well the old priest knew him. Had he ever watched him shovel through enormous banks of snow? Did he see him erecting his numerous stone walls? Did he taste any of the vegetables from his prolific garden? Did he watch him dig by hand with a garden shovel three ponds? I can still see him toiling away; sweat dripping from his brow, his shirt stained with soil and always a hint of content surrounding him. The priest holds the white plastic shovel in the air and then lays it with honor upon the casket. A slight breeze ripples the ribbon tied to the shovel. The priest bows his head and recites a prayer. I hear the words, “dust to dust”. I lower my head and look at my shoes.
The mourners disperse in a quiet solemn march back to their vehicles. The September sun beats down scorching more of the dried grass and wilting the fresh flowers. Salty tears melt into the beads of sweat upon my upper lip. I wipe away the telltale signs of anguish with a damp used tissue. The silence is unsettling. People are moving, car doors are shutting and vehicles drive slowly away but still the hush

Monday, May 26, 2008

Make Way For Ducklings

I went down to the pond today to feed the ducklings. They are no more. 12 little fluffy ducks - disappearing so fast. I guess it's survival of the fittest? In the suburbs - life is not kind to wild things. I will miss them :(

Friday, May 23, 2008

Caladesi Island, Florida

Step back in time to a peaceful place, where beauty and solitude are in an abundance. The beach clean, pristine and missing crowds. A place years ago where a family struggled against the harsh elements to carve out a living and where a young lady rowed a boat across the pass everyday to attend school. A place for pirates and wild life to co exist together. One of the best beaches I have even walked upon. A beach so close to urban sprawl but so close to nature.

It's an assessment that Stephen P. Leatherman would agree with. Leatherman, a Florida International University professor dubbed "Dr. Beach," picked Caladesi Island as the best beach in the 2008 ranking for his annual list.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Vile Bile

It was time to purchase a new area rug for the bedroom. The old one smelt like dog. We chose a dark beige soft pile rug bound in chocolate brown velvet. It looked lovely spread out on the bedroom floor. It complemented the decor perfectly. That was on Saturday. Early Monday afternoon it sported a new bright yellow cat vomit stain. You know that nasty smelling yellow bile that animals like to disperse throughout the house.

I scrubbed and scrubbed but the yellow stain would not budge. And of course it had to be right in the middle of the rug. Not on a corner or on the edging - right smack in the middle. A blemish for everyone to see. How are animals so precise when the release their vile yellow bile? She could have hit the tile floor, the wood floor and been accommodating and gone outside and barfed in the grass. Oh no!!! Not our kitty.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

3 Easy and Inexpensive Ways To Promote Your Blog

Getting traffic to your website is crucial. I don't seem to have the time or the patience to do 'lots' of Social Networking. I know that's the way to go - some say. I have resorted to my own ways to grab attention. Good or perhaps not so good.

Three Easy and Inexpensive ways to promote your website and or Blog.

1. Office supply stores sell adhesive letters and they are weather resistant. Depending on the size 3/4 inch to 6 inch the price is around $3.00 - $6.00.
Put that web address on your bumper or back window.

2. Office supply stores sell 'make your own bumper stickers'. Create your own, add flair, color and the price is around $12.00 for 14 stickers. Water resistant.

3. Order online from a print shop your web domain name/address for a professional look on your rear window. Some local print shops also provide this service. The cost is between $10.00 and $20.00.

I have printed my own bumper stickers and printed extras for friends and families. This only works if your family is supportive of your endeavors. Guilt will also help push them into compliance. I also have asked neighbors with a business to help promote my scheme. The lawn man was eager to place my bumper sticker on his trailer. I now walk his dog twice a week. The pool guy proudly displays my bumper sticker on his truck bumper. He gets sweet tea every time he comes to the neighborhood. The plumber, the cable contractor, the hairdresser, and the real estate agent also display my bumper stickers.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Summer Sangria

When life gives you lemons make lemonade. Such a silly statement. Mine is more better!!!!!

When life gives you lemons make Sangria.

1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
1 Lemon cut into wedges
1 Orange cut into wedges
1 Lime cut into wedges
2 Tbsp sugar
Splash of orange juice
2 Shots of gin
1 Cup of sliced strawberries or raspberries (may use thawed or frozen)
1 Small can of diced pineapples (with juice)
4 Cups ginger ale

Friday, May 16, 2008

Back Off

It was a long day at school so perhaps my mind was in another place or time - who knows? I was on information overload - that's my excuse. Why do we always need excuses? I was not paying attention to my surroundings.
I started - VERY SLOWLY - to back up in the parking lot. There's a cap on the truck so visibility is somewhat distorted. But I was doing a snails pace. I did look back. And then out of the corner of my eye I see a little pink and grey. I stop. The pink and grey moves to the side of my truck and behold it's some old lady. Not that there is anything wrong with being old! And her lips are moving like a runaway train and the hands are shaking in the air like an earthquake. Directed at me. She comes closer to the side of my truck - yelling.
So I assume she was near the back of my truck when I was SLOWLY backing up. The good news is - I didn't run over her. And it is a parking lot and I was going slow. I could see the anger pasted across her face. I waved and backed around her and drove away. I looked in the mirror and she's still shanking her fist at me and yelling. What is your problem? She should know parking lots are a dangerous place. I have been face to face with 'near misses' many times.
Yes, I felt bad. When on the road we always have to watch out for the other guy - I tell my kids that all the time.
So, the next day, I drive to school and try to find another parking lot. The old lady has me worried. I can't find any. I back the truck in to my same old spot and get to classes. After class I walk to my truck and see a ticket under my wipers; apparently the school doesn't want vehicles backing into spaces. Whatever, It was just a warning ticket.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Make Way For Ducklings

An update on the ducklings from the local pond. Yesterday I went down to the pond to feed the ducks and the turtles. As soon as I walked near the pond four little ducklings came waddling toward me - quacking up a storm. It's like they were telling me the latest gossip. They have grown and there fluffy down is getting darker.
Three were coming at me at high speed and the fourth was lagging behind. The last one seemed lost and alone and in a world of his own. He was not being a team member. I tossed them some food and their cackling grew louder.
Mom was no where to be seen. The little duckies were on their own - fending for themselves. Life in the suburbs for wildlife is cruel and harsh. Where is mom? Where did the rest of the babies disappear? Do I really want to know? Probably not. I wonder how many ducklings will survive? I wonder if they are old enough to survive on their own?
I remember the book - 'Make Way For Ducklings', that I read so many times to my children. It touches my heart to know I am living the book - somewhat.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Mayor of Briarleaf

Every neighborhood and community has one - some have more than one. My little area has two. The self proclaimed mayors. They watch the comings and goings of all residents and know when an unfamiliar car drives through. They keep a running tally of how many times UPS stops at your door.
They quietly mention that you watered your lawn on the wrong day. Reminders of the regulations are dispersed without any effort or malice. Gossip is a big thing with the mayors. The government mess is another great subject they like to discuss.
They are always there to help or supervise installments of the basketball hoop or edging. Cars are studied with determination and gas prices become a hot topic.
So this week when I go outside to walk the dog there is no figure walking up and down the sidewalk. There is no one to greet me and give me the latest updates on foreclosures and homes for sale. There is no one to offer child rearing advice or spout off about the new Walmart.
I see no one standing in the shadows watching cars drive by and writing down their license numbers. I hear no voices yelling over fences. The quiet in the neighborhood is troubling.
The second mayor in charge seems to be shirking his duties. The other day two of his dogs were roaming the streets and I had to urge them back home and lock the gate to the fence. Where was mayor two? Most likely at the hospital visiting mayor number one.
With both mayors absent from their self proclaimed duties I feel vulnerable and exposed. Once, an action I felt annoying, I now feel lost and actually miss the two mayors. Life in the cul-de-sac actually felt a little safer with the mayors watching over us.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Walking with the Enemy

Sand spurs and bigfoot - what do they have in common? Well, these sand spurs are HUGE and they HURT. Big time. Bigfoot is HUGE and very elusive. Sand spurs in Florida don't hide - they lurk for any passerby. They especially grow where they know we all go barefoot.

There really is no relationship with sand spurs and bigfoot - except for the fact they are both HUGE.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island State Park is perched on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. It has a beautiful stretch of beach, a dog beach, trails, picnic areas and marshes. You can catch a ferry from the park to Caldesi Island.
This is one of my favorite Florida Parks.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Florida Cooter

This is 'Cooter', he is one of my 6 turtles. He is a Florida Cooter and the friendliest of all my turtles. He eats from my hand. Al is a red eared slider and he also eats from my hand and is the oldest of all my fluffy pets.

I love watching them and the interaction they all have with each other. It's more relaxing than watching fish.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

How many times have we walked by a weed and not seen the beauty? Starkey Park is a county park filled with wildlife, trails, pine forests, open fields, drying ponds and beautiful weeds. I am always amazed at their beauty. And the price for an exciting stroll through this natural park is free.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Skimboarding on the Gulf of Mexico at Green Key. Low tide seems to be a better time to skimboard, lots of exposed beach. According to this expert the bigger the board the better.
Skimboarding has been around since 1920 starting in California. At local beaches on the gulf skimboarding seems to attract the younger crowd. The waves are mild and predictable. Most of the sport is done along the shoreline.
Four tips for skimming.
1. Wax your board
2. Run don't jump
3.Stand correctly
4. Practice, practice, practice

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Salt Springs

Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park is tucked away in Port Richey, Florida. It looks small and unassuming but in reality it's huge and inviting. It hugs 4 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico. Inside the park you will find pine forests, salt barrens, marshes, wetlands and mangroves overflowing with prone Buttonwood. On a recent walk we discovered Wilson Plover nests. High tides flood the salt barrens and salt accumulates. Vegetation in the salt barrens have to be very salt tolerant. Black needle rush is bountiful and sharp. Cord grass and saw grass also survive in this area. Once you have obtained a grass cut you will never forget the experience. Mangrove trees are sensitive to frost and grow horizontally in the barrens.

The Salt Springs Alliance, a volunteer group conducts a 'Sounds at Sunset' walking tour.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Several weeks ago a Muscovy duck hatched 13 babies in a pond near my home. 13 - a bad number? Superstition says so.
Most nights I ride my bike down and feed them. They are unafraid and so cute. The other day they were down to 10. Yesterday they numbered 7. Tonight they are a half dozen.

It's seems like a safe area and it is rather secluded. A great place to raise your brood with all the neighbors feeding your babaies. I wonder exactly how many will survive to adulthood? And do I even want to know why they are disappearing a few at a time? Probably not!

Survival of the fittest. Then life in the burbs for any wild animal is tough and filled with dangers. But - yet we continue to take their habitat with total disregard. Is 13 a bad number? I'm betting momma duck is thinking that right about now.