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Archive for August, 2007

Anyone interested in our Orlando Sentinel 50th anniversary article and pictures (way back then and now) may click on this link:   http://orlandosentinel.p2ionline.com/celebrations/ss/index.aspx

NOTE: This listing is no longer online. Sorry.

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Pigeon Poop

Your planet’s immune system is trying to get rid of you.   Kurt Vonnegut 

Who would have thought the planet’s immune system would take the form of pigeon poop? But that is what some are investigating as a possible contributing factor for the Minnesota bridge collapse.  Since I am constantly on the lookout for immune system incursions, I am on the case. The droppings might, just might, have been a factor. They aren’t saying that’s what happened; just that pigeon guano must be looked at. When water gets in and combines with the salt and ammonia in manure, it creates small electrochemical reactions that rust the steel underneath. So dung is capable of creating the tragedy we saw in Minnesota. I would go on, but can’t think of another word that hasn’t been used in news reports for poop, manure, droppings, guano and dung…

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Fifty Years

staugustine-0431.jpgstaugustine-0311.jpgstaugustine-0461.jpgAugust 16th was our 50th anniversary. We thought that happened only to old people, but we were obviously wrong. I kid. Of course, we are old and that’s a good thing. I will write more on that subject later. Today is for reveling in celebration of a milestone.

I’m experiencing jet lag, having just arrived back in the 21st century from the 17th.  That’s what spending a few days in St. Augustine, FL will do to you. Our bed and breakfast, St. Francis Inn, is the oldest inn (built in 1791) in the oldest city in America. We were a few houses down from the oldest house, occupied since the 1600’s. Quaint, charming, comfortable—it was all that with a staff of truly hospitable hosts. With breakfasts, happy hours and deserts all complimentary and rooms decorated like a home, I have to wonder why we ever stayed at hotels. Bikes were there for guests’ use, and the Inn even provides a beach house complete with towels and all you needed for a day on the ocean. With the trolley stop just up the street, Jerry and I had transportation all over the city without parking problems. Parking is severely lacking in a city built for another time, so that was the way to go. The St. Francis Inn is unique in that it has a parking lot, too. Oh, I can’t forget the Inn Cat, Zeke. How perfect was that? (Courtyard & St. Francis Inn pictured above)

On arrival the desk clerk slid a note across the desk. It said: Happy 50th Anniversary from your loving kids – We have paid for your room, breakfast in bed and a carriage ride. There was more—champagne, snacks and a big bouquet. We aren’t easily shocked, but that did it. The staff told us several times what wonderful children we have. Can’t argue with that.

We took the full trolley ride while waiting for our room to be prepared and learned a lot of history while choosing places to return. If you go, you’ll want the Old Town Trolley Tours (called Green trolley). You can get special prices online and print out your ticket ahead of time. You’ll really be glad you chose this one when others wait and wait for their pickup and yours arrives every twenty minutes at all locations. Seats are hard, of course, and entrances are rather slim, but this is still the way to go.

When we struck out the following day first stop was—what else?—The Fountain of Youth. After a lecture in the spring house I asked the whereabouts of the fountain. “Oh, would you like a cup?” the docent asked? Was she kidding? Jerry and I each got a cup, some I drank, poured some on me. “Anyone else?” she asked. Not a one. We were a little dumbstruck. Were we the only old people? Is this the same crowd that emptied the trolley at the winery the day before? Some questions don’t get answered.

St. George Street is the only place we had spent time before and we were very disappointed. It seemed more like a flea market with designer sunglass knockoffs and Hawaiian goods.

This trip we did get off at San Sebastian Winery. We learned quite a bit about wine and enjoyed the first tasting. Subsequent ones were too sweet for our palate. We had laughed when told we could dump what we didn’t like into the bucket in front of us, but made liberal use of it. Perhaps we just didn’t get to try the right wines, but it was a good experience nevertheless.

Our getting off stop was the oldest house, just doors down from our B&B and it was the highlight of the tour I would have to say. The docent was knowledgeable and interested in what she was saying. We could imagine the hard life they lived here, though the house was probably a place to covet during its time. There was still a rustic beauty inside and in the gardens. Not to be missed. (Middle photo above shows the painting-like quality of downstairs room.)

We waited till night for our carriage ride. It was far too hot to take horses out in the sun. Driving the carriage is a full time job with the added chore of entertaining guests. We could have done without our driver telling us as he pulled from the curb how dangerous it was and that passengers had been killed. We just put our trust in Benjamin the horse and enjoyed the ride.

Dinners at the A1A Ale House and Columbia were great, though we still want to try Raintree Restaurant next trip. And there will be a next trip.

Now if you aren’t my husband you may talk among yourselves while I end with just one private message. 

Jerry, you’re still the one.

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When someone wanted to steal a jelly bean from my pile all they had to do was say, “Look over there!” Deflection worked great when I was a little girl. Now, not so much.

Has anybody seen or heard all but the barest reporting on the meeting between the heads of Canada, US and Mexico that was held this week in Canada? I was poised to learn what the three amigos had cooked up in the name of the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership) and what happens? Bush makes an “off-hand” disparaging remark about al-Maliki and the press is off and running with the emphasis shifted from whatever the three North American heads of states were cooking up for their citizens to the punctured ego of al-Maliki. I think someone just stole my jelly bean.

To find out what really resulted from the meeting I had to go to the SPP website  http://www.spp.gov/index.asp. You see, everything is right out in the open, the NAFTA Highway, Cinta-Zachry,  Kansas City inland port or SmartPort, etc. For instance, they tell us that goods coming from the Far East through Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico , will not be inspected until they get to Kansas City, so that should be no surprise. Don’t ask me what happens if they decide to take a side road somewhere in Texas. The information they aren’t hiding goes on and on. Yes, much of it is out there, but we as a nation are not being giving a cohesive picture.

But there are miscreants with mouses out here trying to pull the pieces together—and trying to keep an eye on our jelly beans.

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This new music video tells the story of a successful man who strays from the path of religion. He smokes, flirts with women even though he’s engaged, and he no longer prays. Things slowly start to go bad: He has a flat tire and problems at work and his fiancé leaves him when she sees him talking to another woman. He then has a serious accident while recklessly driving his motorcycle. After he recovers, the man starts to pray, stops smoking, wins back his fiancé and excels at work.

Okay, in which music section do you look for this at WalMart? No. You would be wrong. It’s not Country. This is the theme of Saudi Arabia’s first music video, set to air on the Middle East’s satellite stations this week. Despite fears among the Saudi clergy over the corrupting influence of music videos, the clip had implicit government approval. The fiancé wears a black burka, but changes to white for her engagement party. The purpose was to use music to send a positive message without sex and profanity, a laudable goal, I’d say. 

It is apparently a big hit with Saudis who have seen it. And why not? It has everything but the dog dying and the pickup being repossessed.

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Cat Snips

emmaweights7-7-0051.jpgFrom time to time I’ll be dropping little snippets (or snips) of cat lore or tips. You might think of them as catnip for cat lovers. Let’s hope they won’t drive you as crazy as catnip does Luther or leave you as nonplused as Emma is around it. I just want to share what the kitties are teaching me. So, Snip #1:

You have just enough time to get to the vet’s office for your cat’s appointment. He is under the bed, the middle of the bed, too far to reach, and not budging. What to do? Try what worked with Luther this week; get out the vacuum cleaner, plug it in and call a backup cat catcher. Ready? Now turn on the vacuum. I hope yours will shoot out as fast as Luther did. We threw the harness on and Jerry wore him around his neck all the way to doctor.

(That’s Emma in the picture. She couldn’t do another set.)

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This Rocks

fountain-0111.jpg    There Jerry and I were in Sanford, Florida in the middle of a Pebble Junction, an open air rock supermarket. We tell the man behind the counter what we are looking for, small stones to go in the bottom of our cascading fountain so the birds won’t drown when they bathe or drink. It was like asking for toothpicks in a lumber yard. They not only didn’t he laugh, but pulled out a large brochure and checked off one possibility after another. The number, name of the rock and aisle were all there. We grabbed a sturdy wagon and headed to aisle 4. Outlining the aisles of smaller stones were much larger stones, then displays, then mountains of gravel in different tones. We’re talking stone wonderland. The natural beauty gathered in one place was overwhelming. How do you choose among such jewels? I promise you I never felt this way in a jewelry store, but these gems were manly chunks of the earth, unpolished, unadorned, just raw beauty.

The small irregular, but rounded stones with sparkling quartz caught my eye and I fingered one after the other. “You know rattlesnakes would love any pile on this property,” my husband murmured, looking around. I pulled my hand back, but only for a moment.

One of the workers who had overheard us interrupted to point us to the multi-colored river rock. I hated to leave the sparkles, but we did. The multi-colored were pretty and one looked like a red heart. Wait. Another couple was rifling through our sparkling rocks. There must have been an acre of rocks and they were at mine! So we go back. They wanted large ones; we wanted small, so a truce of sorts took place.

Jerry thought we had enough with the two types, but I had not tried on every shoe—-uhh seen every rock — but I agreed to check out. I suddenly realized it was about 100 degrees in the middle of a rock farm. At the end of the aisle were Glacier Green , the most beautiful stones I have ever seen, looking like chunks of an iceberg. We arrived at checkout just before a couple of guys came dragging boulders.  We looked at our wagon, then theirs and said, “You go ahead.” Now I am not accustomed to buying rocks and the guys in front of us rang up a bill in the hundreds, so I felt for my card. The clerk weighed our loot and said, “$2.62.”  I had to ask twice.  Cool.

The stones are now resting beautifully in the solar fountain Jerry gave me for our wedding anniversary.  It is the most amazing gift I could imagine. And if the fountain is not enough to impress someone I can always say my husband gave me a four-pound rock for our 50th.

If you would like to learn more about the facinating rock store, check out www.pebblejunction.com.

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