Thursday, July 30, 2009
Years ago we went to Yellowstone National Park.
The kids were pretty young.
I dragged along an aluminum photography case,
a Tenba backpack and a tripod.
In the case was a RB-67, a medium-format camera
and 3 lenses. The equipment weighed a ton.
Tom wanted me to leave it at home.
Why carry all that stuff around?
Yellowstone was a real photographer's paradise.
The scenery was awe-inspiring.
I set up my camera at every landscape opportunity.
Herds of buffalo roamed freely. Tourists were standing
next to the them.
Later, after several hours, we headed out of the park.
In the middle of the road we encountered several buffalo.
We waited for a long time, hoping the animals would
move along. Tom thought it was cool, and kept his driver
side window down.
The granddaddy of all buffaloes suddenly appeared
outside the driver's door.
He had his dripping snout poking part way through
the open window.
His eyes were glassy and steam swirled from his nostrils.
By then, I was smacking Tom to get the window up, quick!
The kids were on the floor of the back seat, screaming.
I was shrieking.
Tom pushed the window button and the buffalo budged
a little from the window, as the window went up.
He fumed a plume of bad buffalo breath, and walked off.
That was a little too close to nature for me
One thing may have been missing from my case--
a blow gun...
Mm mm...butter-dipped, succulent warm meat.
When we first moved here to Naples in 2002,
Jen wanted to celebrate our first night by taking
the four of us to a restaurant, which I won't name.
The advertised special was a 1# lobster for 16.00.
We ordered 4. When the plates arrived, we each
looked at the anorexic lobsters sitting on our
huge white plates--kind of like an island with
only one palm tree...
I was thinking, where is it?
I'd never seen a smaller tail in all of my lobster days--
which amounts to three over my lifetime.
I'd seen bigger tails on shrimp.
I wasn't sure how to attack it.
I wasn't even sure if it wasn't just a faux lobster--
one in disguise, or only the skeleton of one-- minus the meat.
We were all so hungry, so I prodded and picked,
and saw some disgusting green and gray muck that
looked like it came from a space creature's guts.
How would I know that...?
We all managed to get no more than a 1/4
cup's worth. Jen was disappointed, but her
intentions were sweet.
I haven't had a lobster since.
Jen's been in town, from Key West.
She and Paul went fishing for a few days in Stuart.
Her fella, Vince, has a bucket of lobsters from lobstering
in the Keys.
The lobsters are calling, so Jen's heading back
to K W this afternoon.
I'm suddenly having visions of warm, sweet,
We’ve never been camping. Not once.
Tom is the kind of guy
who loves nature and the outdoors.
He’s talked about camping in the Sierras
and in northern Cal.
The reality of spending money on camping equipment,
packing the stuff and setting it up, then repacking
it all changed his thoughts.
The idea of a hot shower and a comfortable bed
is more appealing and a hard notion to give up
in favor of camping.
If you’re really in the boonies there won’t be a
store around for miles.
Seasoned campers know the ropes.
They know how to make a great campfire.
The aroma of hot dogs and beans, or the catch
of the day, drifting through the night air sounds
mouthwatering-- if you ate hot dogs and beans
and lake trout.
Tom likes hummus, kale salads with organic soy
and black beans; plain yogurt, cans of Alaskan
wild caught salmon, pumpernickel bread, almonds,
and hard-boiled eggs; Uncle Sam and Kashi GoLean
cereals, bananas, and California navel oranges.
It’s pretty apparent camp cooking wouldn’t be much
on the ‘to do’ list.
There’s also the prospect of bears sniffing around,
looking for food or a human keepsake--like one’s scalp.
Snakes and spiders could be a problem.
Come to think of it, I have wildlife and reptiles in my own
Camping sounds like fun, alright.
Who’s up for a chicken stir-fry?
*6:10--Wake up, thank God... stretch, groan...
and wonder why I get up so dang early every morning.
*7:00--Brew coffee. It's a new flavor called
La Brea Tar Pits.. what eventually killed the dinosaurs!.
*7:40--Wonder why I haven't perked up
from the percolator...
my stomach sounds like the water works, however.
*7:50--Get on the computer. Look at the blank screen.
Try to dig something funny from my tired, locked
down brain. Should I tackle bug invasion...again?
*8:30--Voila! Edit my draft blog, upload a picture,
save and publish the blog.
*8:45--Do some internet research.
See an interesting site and unleash a viral nest
of trojan downloaders. Norton kicks in immediately.
*9:30--Head for Books-A-Million bookstore [BAM].
*9:50--Blog some more on my AlphaSmart 3000
word processor. Best thing I ever bought...
gets people wondering what the heck it is! *11:15--Go home, check out the inviting pool which
has invited small, beetle-like bugs, no larger than
an ant, to a pool party.
How they get through the pool enclosure netting
is beyond me. These winged bugs cluster in pods
of 20 or more.
Hmmm...Invasion of the Body
Snatchers comes to mind...
*12:15--Skim the pool and take a dip.
Maybe I can sell the bugs under miscellaneous
weird stuff on Ebay...
*12:30--Cruiser, our resident duck, shows up.
Give him water, but he's on a tortilla chip ban.
He snorts a few times, then leaves.
*1:00--Think about having some lunch.
Eat some of Cruiser's unsalted tortilla chips
with cottage cheese, raw unsalted peanuts and fruit.
*2:00--Watch recording of A M C.
Pine Valley is one dang-interesting place!
Zack is some hunk...
*3:00-start yawning...thinking about what to
have for dinner.
*3:15--Sleep on it...
*5:00--play Some Enchanted Evening by Art Garfunkel while preparing dinner. So romantic...
*6:30--Just in time for Seinfeld.
*8:00-- Get some ideas tapped out for tomorrow's blog.
*10:00--Curtains... Tha-a-at's All Folks...!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Everyone has a junk drawer, don't they?
Mine is the size of Texas on a bad day.
There's a lot of no-name stuff in there.
I open it as if there were something dangerous and
foreboding lurking within the tangled mess of
Walmart receipts, recharged batteries, half-burned
hurricane candles, nails, important lists, a hammer,
It's volcanic in nature--I'm never sure when it's going
to rumble and spew out of control.
The layer of junk is so deep that some things have
jumped behind the drawer to the bottom cabinet.
I've cleaned it out a few times, but it's like spaghetti--
it grows and grows, like a fungus.
Questionable items are thrown into the drawer.
There are assorted wood screws and allen wrenches
that probably belong to something in the house,
like the sink or some chairs.
Tom doesn't say much about the mess anymore.
I know what most everything is in that drawer--
plus, it's convenient.
It's also liberating to know that I have control
over my own drawers...
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I'm always curious about what people
have to talk about all the time on their cell phones.
Everywhere you look, people are plugged
into animated conversations.
Following behind me today was a monstrous
midnight black Hummer.
It looked like it was on steroids, or ran
on something other than gasoline.
It towered behind my timid Camry like Godzilla.
I thought at any moment I'd be swallowed up.
The young lady driving was petite--her head
was barely visible behind the wheel.
I was thinking, this gal needs a booster seat, or
a baby bottle.
Her phone was firmly attached to her ear,
and she seemed totally captivated by the conversation.
Maybe there's a shoe sale at Nordstrom...
Her hand gesturing led me to
think how is she driving that thing?
The Black Shadow maneuvered in and out of lanes
of traffic with ease, but much to the unease
of other drivers. This is senior citizen territory.
I figured she was going 60 in a 45 zone.
She zoomed through the tail end of a yellow light,
and then the familiar wail of a state trooper caught
up with her.
Despite her ticket, the trooper was cute.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I watched my teacher friend,"Mark", have a heart attack
yesterday. He texted me Help. Very sick. Library.
When I arrived, Mark was sweating profusely.
He was wired up to an EKG machine.
Mark was promptly wheeled out by EMS and taken
to the hospital. I assured him that I'd meet him in
Emergency and not to worry.
I took his cell phone and called his son.
Without a car recently, I told Mark's son that I'd
get his dad admitted to the hospital.
Mark's in ICU after heart surgery.
He was looking forward to three job interviews this week
for new teaching positions in Tampa, Tarpon Springs
and St. Petersberg.
Each university is highly interested in Mark.
Seeing my friend fall ill is a wake up call to
modify one's lifestyle.
Mark played tennis occasionally with his son,
that being his only exercise.
I doubt if his eating habits were very good.
Events like this motivate a person to make positive
changes in health and relationships with family and God.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The beach is tranquil.
The gentle lapping of the waves curling up along the
shoreline, the sea birds chasing the shiny minnows,
elevates me to a calm place in my thoughts.
The soft breezes float salty sea air while I walk
on the damp sand. Shells tumble and swirl onto the shore,
gathering up into mounds, waiting for seeking fingers.
Criss-crossed footprints run along the path I'm taking.
Some are large, others are tiny.
How many of those are first time visitors to this beach...
how many will be coming back?
I don't see some of the older regulars any more...
The sea is ever changing as the day lengthens
into early evening.
The glistening blue water of the Gulf deepens
with fringes of violet and gold, reflecting
the setting sun, today's finale.
As I leave the beach I know new treasures
await tomorrow's encore.
Quit while you're ahead.
How many times have you heard that saying?
I've heard it a few times.
Husbands are often anxious about new enterprises--
they can see the money floating away on something
that they have no control over.
They expect some immediate success--
quit while you're ahead is their motto.
An agreeable amount of time and effort has to
be devoted to what you believe in and love to do--
but why spend more money continuing with a project
that doesn't seem to be paying off?
Most recently I gave up a website.
It was a Pro Account that allowed me to exhibit
and sell my photographs.
My decision to drop the account didn't mean
that I gave up.
I'd rather pocket the annual $149 site fee and use
it for my equipment or enlargements.
I'm working on a new gallery website.
No fee is involved other than a low percent,
per item sold, transaction fee via PayPal.
The downward economy has forced many of us to
reevaluate our options.
Positive changes bring on revitalization.
I'm pumped up and ready to give myself another go.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Cell phones are invaluable when something
arises, like a car breakdown.
What’s lacking, though, is durability.
Why can’t every cell phone have waterproofed seals?
If a few drops of water hit the contacts, Zap!
Submerging my cell recently in a bowl of rice could
not revive it.
Absolutely frustrating, so I bought another phone.
I don’t take the cell outside by the pool anymore.
A few water droplets from my swimsuit dripped onto
the phone a couple of weeks ago.
It was like I’d sent it over Niagara Falls--
electrocuted itself, big time.
I’m certain the manufacturers don’t want
to build longevity into the cell phones.
The phones are all electric-chair worthy.
”Hey folks! There’s a hot new phone called
The Alcatraz Special--comes in cold steel gray and
guaranteed to be a sizzler at 12:01 a.m..”
People should also have cell phone etiquette.
I’d love it if cells came with a universal remote
so other people’s phones could be temporarily
Phones go off at the most inappropriate times:
in church and at the movies.
In a darkened movie theater, people text.
All the cell phones flickering on and off
during the movie looks like a lightning
Most phones have obnoxious ring tones.
My other phone had weird synthesizer tones--
always sounded like a call originating from Planet X.
I downloaded Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville--
really drove my family nuts!
An irksome thing is when a call recipient talks so loudly--
I get a first hand account of their ‘business‘.
Private matters should be kept private, and voices
should be lowered when talking around other people.
People talk as if they're deaf.
I’ve heard everything from divorce talk to Uncle Ned’s
I probably would’ve worn out the remote by now.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
We now own a duck.
Not by choice--he picked us.
I first saw"Cruiser", AKA "Baby Huey", cross
the street. Feet slapping the pavement, the
duck waddled purposefully in our direction, and
made himself at home in the garage, behind
Paul's truck-- flopping himself down like
he owned the place.
I tried chasing Cruiser to the lawn, hoping he'd go
back where he'd come from.
We chased each other in circles--all the while,
Cruiser emanating snorts of displeasure, and
trail markers. I gave up and went back into the house.
Sitting at my desk, I caught sight of something bobbing
along the window--Cruiser was heading to the back yard.
By now, Cruiser had elicited attention from Paul, who had
already developed an attachment to the hapless duck.
Paul set out a bowl of cold water since the heat index
was already 105.
Cruiser lapped the bowl until the water was gone.
So now, the duck has adopted us.
Cruiser is programmed to appear in the morning, afternoon,
and often, in the evening.
Paul's discovered Cruiser likes unsalted tortilla chips.
Cruiser won't win any beauty contests, but he's won this game.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Nothing much has happened with Florida's weather
this summer--it's been hotter than a witch's
butt these days. The National Hurricane Center
forecasts a "near normal" hurricane season for
the Atlantic, with a 25% chance of above-normal
outbreaks and 25% chance of below-normal outbreaks;
overall, forecasters expressed a greater degree of
uncertainty this year than they have in past years.
NOAA predicts a 70% chance of the following:
- Named storms: 9-14
- Hurricanes: 4-7
- Major hurricanes: 1-3
When we first arrived in Naples as new residents,
the thunderstorms came like clockwork nearly
every afternoon--tremendous "crackers".
The storms were so terrifyingly exciting, we
We looked forward to the skyward electrical displays.
I also kept a hurricane diary.
In August of 2004, we had our first hurricane.
Charley was frightening. Talk about Friday the 13th!
Paul and I watched the leading bands creep
up from the south until the early morning hours.
It was eerie and heart palpitating.
Charley finally hit with a force around
1:25 p.m., uprooting two trees from our front yard.
The back yard and the street was a lake.
We've been through at least 4 hurricanes
since Charley; the last two years have
been very quiet, except for a few tropical
The weather has definitely changed, not only
in Florida, but in so many other regions of the country.
I'm looking out from the top floor window in the
The gulf side is dark with a few lightning streaks.
Looks like rain may be coming after all.
Friday, July 17, 2009
“There’s a spider in the bathroom,” Tom yelled from
the back of the house.
“Get rid of it,” I said, entering the room.
Spiders in Florida can be anything from a docile
daddy-long-legs to a wolf spider or tarantula.
Since Tom was brushing his teeth, I grabbed a Kleenex and
gently picked up the harmless spider, its body no larger than a pea.
In our home, I’m The Obliterator. I’ve had plenty of previous
experience in our former home in California, killing things.
The biggie for me was a rat [I think] that had invaded our home
from the garage. We lived on a hillside, so critters
would sometimes find their way into the house.
Its evidence was of course, droppings, but also, long claw rips
in my clothing. The rat must have trapezed across the rack of
clothing--it had laid a series of Jack The Ripper scars along the
fabric of several of my jackets and blouses.
His adventuring was short-lived.
It’s funny how a spider elicits a “kill” response, yet if
a deadly and venomous snake is found in the garage or
yard, like the recent juvenile Eastern Diamondback,
the response from the men in my family is ”Don’t kill it!”
The snake had a definite attitude, but it was removed with a broom.
The juvenile Eastern Diamondback found a week ago in
the garage, may have been the same one that was found dead in
the gutter a few days ago. Someone had whacked it .
There’s probably many more juvenile snakes from that snake’s
family which are waiting to slither onto our property.
I’ve been told for every quarter acre in our community,
there are at least 200 coral snakes.
I killed my first, and I hope last, coral snake almost a year ago.
As long as there's a reptile or arachnid that has the potential
for a deadly attack, I won't bat an eyelash killing it.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I’m wary of some sale items that are priced
at 60% off or better, like electronics or kitchen appliances.
There’s got to be something wrong with it in the first place.
I bought a TV once that died 1 day after the warranty expired.
A big clue to that purchase should have been when the
salesperson took the TV's remote from a basket of remotes which
was kept on the floor.
I've returned a number of items that have had quality issues:
Clothing whose seams have not been sewn properly,
or the fabric has faded drastically;
toasters which have toasted one side and burned
the other side of the bread.
Tom says I'm probably on store hot lists by now!
Some infomercials say if you call in the next 10 minutes
you’ll receive a second set for free!
Is that because the first set only lasts for a week?
Maybe a month?
[I'm slightly intrigued by the shaver blade sharpener].
We bought a car several years ago through a car club,
saving a good chunk of cash.
It was factory delivered to the local dealership,
and we picked it up.
It was also the El Nino season in California.
Driving home I rolled up the windows, or thought I did.
The windows wouldn't work, so I went back to the dealer.
That was the beginning of a long list of malfunctions.
The only lemons I like are in my iced tea or in lemon meringue pie.
All Sales Final is another catch phrase.
That’s supposed to mean something?
Suppose I buy a product and it bites the dust within 30 days
of purchasing? What, I can’t return it?
I bought an All Sales Final Southwest style love seat
years ago which was significantly reduced.
The love seat was delivered the same day and
looked very nice.
After a few minutes of sitting on the love seat, things started
hopping around--from the sofa to me--bite, itch...hop, hop.
I’d bought my own flea circus.
I complained about this problem but the salesperson said,
"All sales are final, lady."
I stay clear of most promotional gimmicks…
you can’t get something for nothing...
or can you…?
Cereal crumbs settle at the bottom of a cereal box--
a lot like married couples who’ve lived together for years.
Couples let it all hang out and soon peculiarities and
odd habits are revealed.
Everything has settled after 37 years. One gets used to being
married and sort of lets their hair down.
Sometimes, too much.
Over the years quirks and habits become a part
of everyday living. I’ve gotten used to towels being
strewn about the bath room, and the foyer being used as
a pit stop for his beach gear and work clothes.
Tom likes his stuff accessible.
We could move the “pot” into the room, too!
The clutter gets quickly picked up when neighbors
or family pop in.
I keep some of my artist equipment by the bed on my
side of the bedroom: An easel and a storage drawer unit.
I keep on top of it so it doesn’t get in the way.
My walk-in closet is another storage area for my photo
equipment and supplies.
I’m pretty neat, always stowing things back where they belong.
Granted, nothing stays the same--except my weight.
I’m only 7 pounds over from the day Tom married me.
I still have a full head of hair. Tom’s pants slink off
his shrinking waistline.
His diet is pretty healthy, though something calorie-filled
wouldn’t hurt him in the least.
I fondly remember when he used to eat cookies and birthday cake.
I try to avoid sweets, except for my once a week
guava danish I get from Whole Foods.
After two kids and a long marriage, gravitationally, things will settle…
the ladies out in cyber-land know what from where I speak.
Doing housework almost naked is an attractive option,
especially in hot and humid Florida.
I wear a swimsuit so I don't scare the dust bunnies...
Monday, July 13, 2009
*Movie videos with previews.
*Fluctuating airline prices on different days of the week.
*Going to a drive thru and getting the wrong order-after paying more for it.
*Telemarketers:I tell them to please hold...while I continue with what I was doing.
*Online email forms which require everything about you before information can be sent to you. Maybe they'd like to know my blood type, too?
*Being served in a bookstore cafe by someone who has facial piercings.
*Healthy foods that taste like tree bark.
*Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day, and spending most of the day making "pit" stops. If I had a camel hump, I'd store the H2O in it.
*Ordering a "medium" hamburger and getting a burger with horns still attached to the meat.
*Online catalog shopping where the "store" is actually a mailbox in a dark alley.
*Finding a suitable mate--harder than eating ice cream in Death Valley. *When husbands talk about replacing spark plugs...I won't go there.
*Check out your potential mates underwear drawer: if they're hanging by a thread, Run...
*People who tell you to "chill out"--usually they're the ones that got your feathers ruffled to begin with...
*People who tell you you can't always get what you want. So why are they driving a Porsche?
*Tele-Evangelists wearing Armani asking for donations-just behind them are pictures of them in their yacht.
*Having your cake and eating it too-then exercising to get rid of the 10 pounds you put on.
*Smile and the world smiles back at you--great if you have a full set of teeth!
If you are a first time visitor to South West Florida,
you must visit the Loop Road in the Big Cypress National
Preserve in the Everglades National Park.
The Loop Road begins at the junction of 41 at the historic
The entire length is approximately 26 miles;
most people turn around after the first 7 miles, since the main
bird sanctuaries [Strands] and prairies are within the first 6.5
miles of the Road.
The Loop Road shares a history with orchid poachers, pot
farmers and good old moonshiners.
The ghost orchid usually blooms in late July, pending the
right conditions. It's prolific in the Fakahatchee Strand
State Park and it can also be seen growing along the Loop Road.
The book, The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, is a
The gravelly road is sometimes exasperating: you may
find a gape mouthed alligator leisurely crossing the road,
or one that has decided to sunbathe smack in the middle
of the road. It's an exciting adventure to come face to face
with a gator, but one that should be approached with caution.
Travel speed of an alligator is 35 mph, though short-lived since
he tires easily. You definitely don't want to test his speed!
The Preserve is a blissfully peaceful area: the prevailing
sounds of alligators slapping in the water, the symphonic
rhythm from the crickets, frogs, herons, egrets and night herons,
echo through the cedar hammock forest.
It's a welcome elixir from city noise.
Pythons are an unwelcome inhabitant of the Everglades.
The Fish and Wildlife Service crews drive the roads nightly
capturing Burmese Pythons.
It's been said that the python population has reached upwards
of 110,000 within the Everglades Park.
Other deadly snakes inhabit the Everglades: the pygmy
and the cottonmouth to name two.
Panthers inhabit the forests and are sometimes spotted crossing the roads.
Info from the internet:
Everglades National Park magnets: wheelchair accessible walkways at Anhinga Trail, Gumbo Limbo Trail, Pahayokee Overlook, Mahogany Hammock, and West Lake Trail.
What will I see? Birds and alligators at Anhinga; tropical hardwood hammock at Gumbo Limbo; an overlook of the River of Grass from Pahayokee's tower; a subtropical tree island with massive mahogany growth along Mahogany Hammock; and a forest of mangrove trees on West Lake Trail.
For a short visit: Flamingo's Eco Pond provides for waterside wildlife viewing.
With more time: Shark Valley lets you combine the quarter-mile Bobcat Boardwalk (looping through sawgrass prairie and a bayhead) with the 1-mi-long round-trip Otter Cave, allowing you to steep in subtropical hardwood hammock.
Want a tour? Pahayokee and Flamingo feature informative ranger-led walks.Take the Swamp Walk, an impressive tour given by Clyde Butcher, renown Everglades photographer. Info can be obtained from his Gallery below.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Not only have I not had a green thumb over the years,
but my track record with pet longevity has been just so-so--
especially with goldfish.
When Paul was about 8, he wanted two gold fish.
So off we went and bought a couple of very cute fish,
which Paul named Junior and Goldie.
We wanted to do things up right to give Junior and
Goldie the best advantage of a long life.
After paying the cashier for Junior and Goldie,
a proper size bowl, food, and a water filtration system,
we got home and set everything up.
Junior and Goldie were as happy as two fishes could be…
for a couple of days.
The fish either didn’t like their existing accommodations,
or we were lacking something in the care and feeding
department. Paul thought a toy in the bowl would give
the fish something to swim in and out of.
A diver and a piece of coral later, Junior and Goldie
sort of perked up…
for a couple of days.
The glint in Junior's and Goldie's eyes had dimmed.
What was wrong? Had we failed as fish caregivers?
Paul tried his best to get his fish back in the swim of things…
But they were out of one bowl and into another…