Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good-bye Tree

jacaranda_med.jpg (180×180)The Jacaranda trees are blooming early this year.  It was a warmer than usual winter here in Florida as well as other parts of of the country.  A Jacaranda in full bloom is a lovely sight, but some trees are more lovely when they are not on your property.

There was a very large Jacaranda tree in our yard.  When we arrived in December, we met our neighbors on the other side of that tree.  They had already trimmed a lot of branches off, which needed to be done, but they asked if we would be willing to just take it down completely.  They really hated that tree!

I was quite hesitant at first, but over the next couple of months I could see that it was a nuisance for them.  Black seeds covered their car port, roof, and rain gutters.  Little trees took root in their completely clogged gutters.  Then long spiky things started falling off the tree and covering the lawn--a walking hazard if wearing, as one typically does here, sandals or flip flops.  The tree was situated in a place where we had to make an effort to see it.  We agreed to have the tree removed just before it started to bloom.

The guy they had come do the work had it down and cleaned up in no time so I hired him to come back and take care of the thorny bougainvillea and also prune the grapefruit tree.

So we lost a tree in our yard, but we made the neighbors happy.  Life is a balancing act.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cleaning Up

On a recent post, MerCyn wrote about house cleaning before taking a trip.  I happen to agree with her fully.  God forbid a burglar breaks into our house and has to cart off a dusty TV set, and I am quite sure the house sitters wear white gloves to test for dust on the door sills.

Since we are planning a return trip to Vermont soon, I have started the housecleaning process.  Yesterday I dragged a step ladder in and took down each ceiling lamp (twelve of them), wiped out the bugs, washed and dried them, and put them back up.

All the speed cleaning and efficiency advise says to go room by room, circling to the left and dusting, wiping, polishing, scrubbing, sweeping as you go.  But if there is an efficient way to do things, I am bound to think of a more cumbersome and difficult method, then stick to it like glue -- or whatever that patch of foot-trap is on the floor between the refrigerator and the sink.


I do one job through the whole house and yesterday it was the ceiling lamps.  Most of them had dead ants in them -- go figure -- but there was an occasional fried spider as well.  So no home invader is going to look up at my ceiling and wonder about what kind of slobs live here!

Today is dust and wipe down the wood work day.


I would like to thank Arkansas Patti for inducting me into her Persnickety Club.  Really, I have no clue as to why she made a determination like that, but I am honored nevertheless.

 P.S. I am really not at all worried about someone stealing my television.  This baby is about thirty years old.
(No sense in popping the extra bucks for HD!)  It ways a ton. 

One of my chores will be to move all the furniture to vacuum under, but this behemoth is going nowhere.
I can be flexible.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


It's hard to pick an absolute favorite flower, but I do know that the iris has to be up there.

It is certainly one that I take pictures of over and over again.

The second picture is the only I took recently.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Feel Free to Comment

i hAveb eencon templiNg MY motivatIon for bLogGin.
ITs fin tu vIrtully conVerseZwith SmAny DiffeNt pEOpl.

OopS.  Your entry did not match the word verification.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ant Wars

One of our friends here in Florida has been inundated with guests this year.  It's one thing when your children arrive with the grand kids for a week, quite another to have a constant line of in-laws and neighbors from the the north keep arriving to be entertained and fed for one week after another.  We, too,  have been bothered by unwanted visitors in our Florida home this winter.  We wouldn't mind a few human guests, but what we have is white footed ants.

White footed ants are an invasive species that hitched rides here from Japan thirty years or so ago.  The have now reached full on pest status here in Florida and definitely in our yard.  They live in colonies that can reach into the millions--yes, millionsss.  They appear to have no shortage of troops to send on scouting trips into the kitchen.  They love sweets.  Miss a cookie crumb, a tiny drop of orange juice, when wiping the counter and in they march.  Fail to rinse off a plate that served lemon pie before putting it in the dish don't even want to know.  Find and spray a colony and there are escapees who just set up shop in the next tree.

We have had the pest control people here three times now.  They did say it would get worse before it got better, and it did.  I have ant nightmares.  The pest control guy said, "Tell me about it!  I don't even have to be asleep to have those nightmares."  I am hoping we have turned a corner now.  I wiped the counters a dozen times yesterday, but I only had to sweep the floor once and I have yet to see an ant today.  (Fingers crossed.)

White footed ants don't bite or sting and they don't really do any structural damage, but boy, oh boy, are they annoying.  So even paradise has its problems.

Night blooming jasmine touching the outside wall is not a good thing.
It got a major haircut.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More of Spanish Point

 The Sunken Garden was built about a hundred years ago and has been restored.

 At one time this portal framed a view of the cove.  It is a beautiful lawn with several kinds of palm trees lining it.
 Spanish moss.
 The water garden has not been restored.  That is not pond scum, but tiny leaved duck weed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spanish Point

Spanish Point, in Osprey, Florida, is an historic site and museum preserving some of the life and death of indigenous people who lived in the area over five thousand years ago, the pioneer settlers, the early developers, and the native plants, and the coastal landscape.  It makes for an interesting mix along the walking tour.

This is the pioneer cemetery for the Webb family who arrived in the 1860's.  The land juts into the Gulf of Mexico and is raised by a large burial ground and shell middons that were created by the detritus of daily life from earlier inhabitants thousands of years ago. Graves on top of graves.  The fuzzy looking log is covered with resurrection fern.  When it rains, the ferns turn a bright green.

A glimpse of the packing house, where the Webb family who farmed this area for many years packed the citrus fruit for shipping:

The dock from the packing house:

Mangroves in the cove:

A gnarly tree near the old boat yard.

Farming must have been fairly good to the Webbs.  One of the children built this house with her husband.  It has been restored to reflect it 'pioneer' flavor.  It was built in 1901 and the couple rented rooms to early snow birds--winter residents.

Monday, March 19, 2012


While Linda of  A Slower Pace has been working on her sock and baby hat knitting, I have been up to a much smaller project.  I guess you could say I made two little hats, but they are much too small for a baby or even a doll.

Each of the bathrooms has a mirrored medicine cabinet to the right of the sink and a larger wall mirror over the sink.  I would sometimes open these cabinets with a bit more vigor than was really called for and I would hear a disconcerting "CLINK."  Since I am well known for my propensity to break glass things, I decided to take a proactive step.  So I made little covers for the knobs on the medicine cabinets to cushion any future blows.  Sometimes I just astound myself with my creativity.

I just read Star Island by Carl Hiassen, a Florida writer.  His book, Sick Puppy, which I read the first winter we came to Florida made my laugh until tears came out my eyes.  Actually, his books make the same points about greed, corruption, and the shallowness of our celebrity-driven culture that have been made in more serious types of books, but so much more fun to read.  This one did not disappoint.  So maybe a book that can make the reader both think and laugh is not so frivolous after all.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Finished Book

I have finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall.  I really enjoyed it and thank the bloggers who recommended it to me.
Having been a special education teacher for thirty plus years I wasn't necessarily shocked by some of the incidents described.  Still, it is sad to remember and think about the conditions of some people's lives.  Some of the stories in this memoir are pretty bleak, but they are told without whining and self-pity.
There is no shortage of tales of gruesome childhoods.  Sometimes I have to wonder if that is what it takes to become a writer--an abused or neglected background.  This author is a natural story teller, though,  and I particularly admired her writing style.
Now I am off to the library to look for something in the mind-candy genre to give my heart a little rest.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Night Sky

Albert Einstein
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.

We were able to see the planets after sunset last night--Venus and Jupiter in the western sky and Mars, looking quite red in the east.  I had just started reading a book that has been on my list for a very long time--The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wall--and was at the part where her father gave her Venus for a Christmas present.

We made another trip to Myakka State Park today.  Mike's 19 year old grandson is visiting so we wanted to show him some alligators.  He was lucky and found a really big shark's tooth at the beach on Monday.  He had French fries for lunch.  That's about it for spring break excitement here in Venice, but at least he can truthfully say that he was in Florida for spring break.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sprung Forward

Do you have difficulty adjusting to the time change?  What is the purpose of this fiddling around with the clocks again?  They say it is a lost hour.  Well, it's a heck of a lot more lost time than that.  Every single *%#@ electronic appliance has a clock on it.  The car clock needs to be changed.  Then, of course, there are the actual clocks.  Every single one of these time pieces has a different method of modifying the time.  Some are pretty obvious, others require finding manuals and then locating the time setting procedure somewhere within.  No wonder I feel a bit wobbly and lost today.

Fortunately for us, we are the organized types who know exactly where to find the owner's manuals to everything we have in the house.  Unfortunately for us, we will have to go abut setting clocks once again when we get back to Vermont.

I am the queen of three ring binders and plastic page protectors.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thorny Issues

This bougainvillea has been in constant bloom since we got here in December.  I have pruned most of the rest of the bushes around the place, but I am not prepared to tackle this one.  I'll need long-handled lopers and lots of protective leather clothing before I attempt a haircut on this baby.

Now that Mike is on so much medication, including blood thinners, I hate to even allow him to help with these pruning tasks.  One little cut and he looks like that old Saturday Night Live skit about Julia Childs.  (She cuts her finger and blood is spurting everywhere, if you haven't seen it.)  I did just read in the local paper, though, about a product--I think it was called Wound Seal, but don't quote me on that--that is a powder that you pour onto a cut and it forms an instant scab to stop the bleeding.  I'm thinking I will get myself to Walgreen's down the road and stock up on some...just in case.


I was severely irritated to read this in an article in Woman's Day (April, 2012):
"Say  middle age and the first thing that may come to mind is a host of health issues."
Seriously?  That is what defines middle age now?  I mean, health is an important issue at any age.  Something about that opening statement just made me mad.

I liked what "Everyday Cheapskate, " Mary Hunt had to say about what's more important than money?
Answer:  Purpose in Life, Knowledge, Compassion, Personal Growth, Self-Reliance, Health, Faith, and Friendship.  Then it occurred to me: these things become important only if you have the wherewithal to have the very basic needs of food and shelter taken care of.  I have a widowed neighbor here who has a host of health problems.  She really needs personal assistance, probably should be in an assisted living situation, but she is "on the list" for home-based services that could take weeks, months, or even a year.  

Also, although she  has a difficult time bathing and dressing, she still has a car and continues to drive.  This is an aspect of Florida living far scarier than snakes and alligators.
Human services are cut to the bone.  Still, there is money to loan $10 million to developers who are buying up  foreclosed properties.  Compassion?  More important than money?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Talk

I have just finished reading:


Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World by Lisa Bloom.

I have to admit that I did not know who Lisa Bloom was.  In my defense, I don't know who the Kardashians or Speidi are either.  She's been on Dr. Phil's show.  Perhaps that is why she hasn't appeared on my radar.

Anyway, there were some thought provoking issues discussed in this book.  It's a worthy topic.  I would have loved this book and slept with it under my pillow if it had been written by someone else.

I didn't care for the style of writing and I thought there were quite a few disconnects and inconsistencies--the least of which was her perfectly air brushed face, with gleaming white-toothed smile on the cover.

But, like I said, it has worthy topics to consider--the anti-intellectual bent of our culture,  the pandering to the lowest common denominator, the truly awful conditions in the lives of far too many of the world's female population and the misogynistic cultural and religious beliefs that allow/encourage those conditions.  It's a place to start.  It will make you think.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What an invention...

For years and years I have burned my fingers getting things in or out of the oven.  I've written about that before.
Well, why didn't anyone ever tell me about this handy little kitchen thingy:
It pulls out the oven rack or pushes it back into the hot oven.  Genius!! I pulled out some baking ravioli to sprinkle on some cheese, pushed it back in to brown, pulled it out again...AND never once burned a finger.

It's the height of strawberry season here in Florida--although, in truth, we have been eating Florida strawberries since January.  We get nice, sweet strawberries in Vermont.  The season lasts about three weeks.  And usually they do not get to monster size.