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Archive for July, 2008

Search Lite

It’s a darn good thing web searches are anonymous. I am quite sure many of you whose search ended up at this site would not care to have your names attached to your curiosity. While you satisfy you thirst for knowledge about aging belly button lint, I am left with my head tilted like an owl going “say what?”

 

I understand your search for gold frogs,  Swiss mountains (that’s on my site?) and African iris, but some of you are concerned about hissing critters, meteors in Wolf Point, Mt, excessive ear wax, and Indian women with wings.

 

Fashion is always of interest out there. These fashion terms led you to this site: green polka dot shoes, black panties with white pants, wildlife dresses and helium bras. Would love for you to get back with me with pictures of that wildlife dress. Is that Tarzan’s Jane with animal skin, short cover-up? I guess I’ll never know.

 

Some searches send you on a search: why don’t animals have belly buttons like people? First I laughed. Of course they do—–don’t they? “I don’t think so,” my husband said. I hope there is an answer for whomever out there wanted to know this because now I do, too.

 

Perhaps we should have a contest for the most “out there” search term. Permit me to submit the first entry: CASKET TOOL. I don’t even want to know.

 

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So much hope, so little realized yesterday. Going door to door for our Neighborhood Watch group, I encountered wildlife without my camera, a major sin. As I stood waiting at the door, bushes began to rustle and shake. That was no lizard, but what? Suddenly an armadillo came waddling toward me. That is not what you expect in a suburban neighborhood, even one as wooded as ours. In a bit of a shock at seeing my first live armadillo outside Texas, I ran next door for my camera, for this house was right next door. But he was out of sight when I returned.

 

I walked around the neighbor’s house with the camera, hoping they would not mistake me for a stalker. And then: WHO WHO—WHO WHOOOOOO came a hollow sound from one of the live oaks down by our pond. I am easily distracted and the armadillo was obviously hiding. I followed the repeated bird call. It did sound like he was calling me. When I approached the tree the WHO WHO stopped. I waited and waited. Nothing. Was it a ploy, cooked up by the armadillo and owl to distract me? I’ll never know, but if it was, it worked. I have no pictures to post, just a futile search.

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CAT STORY #1

 

“You want to know how to wash a cat?” my husband said on the phone. “First you need two people. Don’t try it by yourself.”

 

SILENCE

 

“No, don’t use the whirlpool. Cats don’t like to be immersed in water.”

 

This is all being said very calmly with brevity. Then my husband hangs up.

 

“Who was that?”

 

“Haley,” he said, indicating our ten-year old granddaughter.

 

“Did they get a cat? They already have a dog.”

 

“I don’t know,” Jerry said, “I didn’t ask why she wanted to wash a cat.”

 

Now you see, here’s an example of big difference between men and women. Can you imagine a grandmother not asking right off why her granddaughter wanted to wash a cat? Did a strange cat wander into the yard all dirty or greasy and Haley wanted to help? I did that once. Embarrassing story below.* Did her parents finally agree she could have one?

 

So I catch her father on the phone later.

 

“Did Haley get a cat?”

 

“No, she and her friend started a dog and cat washing business. First they set up a table to sell lemonade and candy. Business was slow. Then a neighbor asked if they wanted to wash her dog for $10. Now they have a ‘business,” as she calls it, and have put $68 in the kitty already.”

 

I could not be prouder. At her age I was selling watermelons out front or seeds door to door. I thought this generation had no interest in such enterprises, but Haley is very proud of her business, as she well should be. I think our country is going to be in good hands down the road.

 

CAT STORY #2

 

Last night my youngest son, Jason, called and said he had a kitten. Is this Raining Cats Week? But the story was an interesting one.

 

Jason’s neighbor was given a loaner truck to drive while his was in the shop yesterday. It had a funny sound, like a cat’s mew, but he drove it all the way to Daytona (from Orlando) and back. The truck was still mewing when neighbors gathered to check it out. Jason could hear the sound was coming from the spare tire well up under the truck, so he dove under there. After three hours of struggle, he came out black and greasy, with a coal black kitten clawing his hands.

 

Someone gave him kitten food and he took the kitten in the house. Now we are looking for a home. If Jason wants to show someone’s future pet in its best light, I know where he can get a superb cat wash.

 

 CAT STORY #3

*Now for the embarrassing cat wash story.

 

A strange cat wandered into our yard many years back. The poor thing was covered in oil or grease and seemed to be pleading to me to help him. I got out soap, turned on the hose and this poor, strange cat let me wash him all over. I hoped the grease poured on him had not been hot and burned his skin. He didn’t seem to be in pain, but I washed gently. The smell was unusual, not like cooking grease, but I couldn’t place it – not until years later. I was sitting in the stands at a tennis match in Hilton Head. Almost everyone there was slathered with Avon Skin so Soft and the scent was overpowering – and familiar. The cat! But why? The same reason adults apply it to themselves some put it on their animals, I was told, to repel insects. OHHHHHHHHHH

 

 

 

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After four days of patient stalking, Emma (our Persian) finally flushed the wayward lizard from under the stove late last night. Speaking “in tongues” at the foot of our bed, Emma alerted us she had brought her gracious present to us. If the lizard lying by the bed skirt were still alive, it could easily crawl right up the bed covers. Jerry had fallen asleep and had no interest in throwing him outdoors. I tried to go back to sleep, keenly aware a frightened lizard lay between Emma and me. Soon I heard more scuffling at the foot of the bed when Luther, our Pixiebob, joined the huntress. I finally roused Jerry, who cupped the poor reptile in his hands and threw him out the front door.  Jerry dropped right off. The cats assumed the stance of “move along folks, there’s nothing to see here” before heading for bed. Yet I was too revved to fall asleep before 3 a.m.

 

Ah, life with cats.

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I get several hits a day from people looking for news of Legible Leftovers since I wrote of our disappointment after my husband and I found the former used bookstore in Longwood, FL closed. If you have stumbled upon my blog in a search for news of its closing, I hope the column below from Chris Dawson, consumer reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, will answer most of your questions.

 

On July 3, I reported the sudden, unexplained closing of the beloved “resale” (used) bookstore in Longwood. One number for owner Linda Mandelbaum was disconnected; the other just rang and rang. A sad final chapter for the venerable literary outpost. Or so it seemed. A reader tip led me to Borders Books where Mandelbaum now works. I left a message, and a few days later received a call from her in Oregon where she was visiting family.

“I spent any number of days crying over this decision,” Mandelbaum said. “The writing has been on the wall since last fall when I learned the rent was going up. It got to the point where I took a part-time job so I was not dipping into my retirement account to keep the store open.”

Mandelbaum sold the bulk of her stock, about 15,000 books, to a Virginia bookstore for $60,000. She put the remaining 5,000 volumes in storage and kept cards with the names of customers holding trade credits from Legible Leftovers. She wanted to send everyone checks for the credits but simply did not have the cash. Customers are advised not to ditch their “Confederate” credits.
“I would like to put Legible Leftovers at least online,” Mandelbaum said. “Maybe a year down the line, I can open a small shop. And if anybody asks, I took the cats home to live with me.”

I hope the information above will answer some of your questions. We are open to news of other used bookstores in the area. Consider this your personal bulletin board for any information you have for fellow book lovers.

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Ellen Goodman’s article (Self-serve and Slave) in the Orlando Sentinel this morning had my head nodding all the way through. She drew the line at a dinner invitation to a restaurant where they hand you a platter of raw foods and a hot pot. She decided if she wanted to cook her own food she would eat at home. Ellen, we are sisters under the skin.

 

Perhaps I carry it too far. It annoys me to choose what goes on my hamburger. It’s a hamburger! Put everything on it like they do in Texas. I understand the concept of personalized sandwiches, but still don’t like to have to decide on each ingredient in a sub sandwich. I have to make those decisions in my kitchen every night.

 

But forgetting about food, Goodman recalls all the jobs we have to do for free now that stores once paid workers to do. We’ve been distracted by jobs sent overseas and don’t see how many jobs have stayed right here—but shifted to us – the ultimate free labor.  Ramming that first nozzle into our gas tank was the “gateway drug to self-help.”  Before we knew it, we were conducting our bank business with an automated phone or the Internet, storing our own medical records, copying and delivering reports, picking up scripts because our doctor stopped calling them in, analyzing our own prescription drug plan needs, weighing and slapping a price tag on produce, even checking out our own goods at Home Depot if we were so sappy, etc. etc.

 

Now I am picturing our parents or grandparents, poor as church mice by our standards, some living through the Depression, yet in many ways they were treated like royalty. Grocers kept a running tab for them, bankers knew and looked out for their finances, mechanics knew their car as well as their own, milk was delivered while they slept, clothes  brought to the fitting  room, doctors came to their home, long-time insurance agents advised on every aspect, and on and on. Sure they had to make many of their clothes, grow and can much of their food, share a family car, but the niggling little “unpaid jobs” that add up to a whopping weight on our shoulders were not present. They used that energy to help neighbors—and got help the same way.

 

You hear so many older people say they never knew they were poor. Maybe it’s because they weren’t. Maybe they were our rich ancestors.

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Perhaps this photo deserves a note. The yellow African iris was a gift from a friend (thank you, Abbe) from her yard. She has several plants growing since the 40’s or 50’s, planted by original owners. If they are not heirloon, they seem to be. Others have seen my yellow iris and asked where I found it. Apparently most out there are white. I know, you can’t tell after my manipulation of the photo. There is a reason for it. The feature that thrills me most about this flower is its proud self-esteem. If it had a chest it would be swelled as it stands as tall as possible and reaches toward the sun. I was trying to capture that effort, that movement. I hope it comes through. Enjoy.

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These little golden Cuban tree frogs have taken up residence on our broadleaf milkweed plant. In a rain shower they moved to use the petals as an umbrella, but otherwise have posed for my camera for two days. I think I am supposed to put them in a plastic bag and freeze them. It is the humane way to kill them, I’m told. There is a reason for this. As this species has taken over in Florida, they are eradicating our native green tree frogs–which were also very beautiful. What to do, what to do.

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It felt a little freaky finding our street and our house in living color on a Google map. I was simply mapping the route to a new restaurant from our home and clicked on the little green blob indicating our address. Suddenly the green blob was standing in the middle of our street and looking with my eyes to the intersection. I clicked the curved arrow to the left again and again, until the green blob was looking at our front door! There was our car, the firebush plants, the Roman baptismal fount (don’t ask). Spinning on to neighbors’ homes, it was possible to set the time somewhere in the last six months to a year. During that time a neighbor built a sandbox, another started bringing home a work van. But it was before we painted the house and trimmed the trees.

 

 

Where were we while someone stood in the middle of the street and videoed a 360 degree shot of our homes? No privacy was breeched, no secrets given up that I know of, but now I kinda know how the woman felt who discovered a view of her home so clear one could almost hear the cat purr from the window sill inside her living room.

 

 

If you haven’t checked your address out, you might be in for a surprise. Some homes I searched for were there, others not—YET. Just a warning if you’re not on Candid Camera as yet: careful how you bend over, keep your stomach sucked in, and for heaven’s sake, don’t have any visitors you wouldn’t want the world to know about. Just in case.

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Quite by accident we ran into Linda, from Legible Leftovers today. She is working at a major bookseller, the job she had taken to keep Legible Leftovers afloat, along with tapping her retirement account. I know many of you are distressed over Legible Leftover’s closing and just wanted to bring you up to date. It’s very difficult to keep a used bookstore afloat today and we should be thankful we had this very special one as long as we did. 

 

Oh, the cats are at Linda’s home and well cared for.

 

Any solutions out there? I would love to have a place where book lovers could bring and take books on the honor system as is done at some offices around town. All that is lacking is a space. Perhaps there is a coffee shop, or lunch or tea room that would draw in customers with just such an innovative use of their extra space. How about it? Any takers out there?

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