Monday, September 27, 2010

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” Henry David Thoreau

My mom is the type of person that justs makes you want to do nice things for her. After my dad passed she lived alone in the huge house they shared for 35 years.  The upkeep and maintenance were overwhelming for her. I lived 120 miles south and couldn't just pop up every time there was a need.  Like the time her neighbor called and said "Hey, your mom is on the roof with a chainsaw".  A family meeting was held and it was mutually decided that mom just needed a base camp to operate out of. She & my dad became ministers late in life. Her heart was to continue working in the migrant camps outside of Tampa so we sold her house or the mini-storage as I call it. She only lived in half of the bottom floor. Most of the house was cram-full of the family's stuff.

 That was a hard process for her. Going through her life and deciding what to keep, give away, or sell. So she moved the 120 miles south and has lived with us for 10 years now.  She had never felt well and the entire time she has been with us has been filled with doctor's visits and tests for this and that.  In 2009 on what would have been her 44th wedding anniversary she went in for open-heart surgery. She is now the proud owner of 5 by-passes and a new aortic valve.  She is doing great except now that she is actually getting oxygen to the brain she feels the pain of her spinal stenosis condition.  She loves the water and going to the beach to shell but is unable to bend of stoop.  This has hampered her gardening also. She loves to putter in the yard like any good southern woman but has to watch the bending and the heat.
The Path

Night blooming Cirrus from the old 
The last time it bloomed

  We grow plants that don't require alot of maintenance. Our little garden area is filled with plants and rocks from the house she sold.  It was sad to me that she couldn't bend over to pick up shark's teeth and shells so each time I come home from the beach I bring a bucket of shell crush and dump it on the path outside our door.  I also dump a bucketful in the garden area.  These areas were already covered in shell mix from the apartment complex but now it has a little bit of our beach right outside the door.  As GeeGee spends time outside watering or chasing the squirrels from the bird feeder she can do a little beach combing right at her front door.
My version of a shell doggie bag

Blooms smell like chocolate
Rick Rack Cactus
Desert Rose

 I remember having a really bad day during the time we were cleaning out her old house.  I was overwhelmed & on a major rant about all the clutter.  I was waving around a stack of papers from inside  a shoebox and questioning the sanity of keeping such crap.  My niece took them from my hand and showed me they were all missing children.  Their pictures came on the back of my mom's junk mail.  She saved them all and prayed over them for their safety and for their return home. That was my last rant about that. I learned from that that everyone looks out of their own eyes and sees the world the way they are supposed to see it not the way I want them to see it. So I am blessed to have my mom live with me.  She walks her path and I walk mine but they pretty much end up at the same place at the end of the day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Too Blessed To Be Stressed

Buttprints in the Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some strange prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."
"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."
"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."
"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."
-- author unknown

It's just been one of those weeks. Lots of drama at work & lots of stuff to do at home. My mantra is "I'm too blessed to be stressed", well that went out the window today. 

 Alot of times going to the beach is my quiet time to just get my head together. Today I ran out for just an hour to chill out a bit. The sky was beautiful, the water is no longer like a hot tub and is so clear & refreshing, & still lots of that shell crush everywhere just full of shark's teeth.

 So as I was sitting in the shell crush scooting along on my behind looking for  shark's teeth this little poem came in to my thoughts. I read it a few years back and got a good laugh out of it. I have never been a Hallmark sentiments-kinda-girl. BTDT- got a whole drawer full of t-shirts.  I like to keep it real. Funny how a good laugh puts everything into perspective.

Guilty...those buttprints are all mine.

The key is keeping our hearts and our hands open

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 2 - The Project

The decisions have been made

Big gull & baby gulls

We are rolling up our money gift inside the treasure map

The blue sand won . She was right. 
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune. ~Graycie Harmon

Let me introduce you to my mom. This is GeeGee.  We follow that long southern tradition of calling our grandmothers something odd. Her mother - my grandmother was called Other Mama.  My mother acquired her grandma- handle because the first born grandchild could not say Grandma Ginny and she would call for GeeGee
Don't let the sweet smile fool you.

 No one in our family calls her by her given name which is Virginia. She is known on her side of the family as Aunt Tootsie (pronounced Ain't Toooot-say). GeeGee comes from a long line of crafty women - crafty in a nice way (most of them) Her mother was a florist, tatted (not inked for you youngin's) and crocheted, and off the subject could out fish any man. 

 GeeGee's Aunt Annabelle was the first woman in Clearwater in the 1940's to have her paintings shown in a "real" gallery.  Aunt Annabelle was a shell crafter as well. All my sisters either collect something, grow something, or make something. Over the years my mother still has it - you know the "touch".  It just takes her longer and she is slightly indecisive. I like to say "she pole vaults over mouse poo". 

Her Xmas display

My mom's idea of an all natural b-day cake when I wasn't eating sugar - Macadamia cookie crust, a layer of cheese cake, fresh fruit drizzled with apricot jam

We are heading to North Florida on Saturday  for the social event of the fall season in our family - my cousin's 25th wedding anniversary.  We are all giving them some cash for a trip they are taking.  I saw this  candle display vase on sale at Ross and had a brilliant idea.  My Mom & I can make them a keepsake gift together! That's easy, right?

$7.99 at Ross - Sweet deal.

We have already had 3 discussions on the type of sand for the bottom.  She wants store-bought sand because it is "sterile". I want to use crushed shells from the beach (which I will wash to get any critters out).  She wants this big plastic gull. I have 3 little sweet gulls that I want to mount on driftwood. The discussions have ended for the evening. She took her crossword puzzle and gave me the look. I think we just need to sleep on it.

Yikes - blue sand.

The 1st of many craft tubs to appear from under GeeGee's bed
Stay tuned for the ongoing saga of My mom, my craft, my goodness what was I thinking.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm just saying....

This was the vehicle in front of my parking space at the beach today

Come on! 

My finds from Manasota Key Beach tonight.

(added 9/20/10) This is the jar I'm filling up with shark's teeth.  It's about an 1 1/2" deep. It took me a month the fill it this far.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment. ~George Eliot

Sophia & Vito

I swore I'd never have a dog. Too much responsibility, too much money.  Well that all changed when the hubby came home with our first little fluffer-muffin. He was so tiny & it was love at first sight for me. I never had kids so  Vito was my little baby. He loved to play with his ballie. He loved to play hide & go seek with me. We'd sit together on the couch eating House Special Fried Rice. Vito would always wait his turn for his little nibble of pork.  He really didn't know he was a dog until after 3 years I found Sophia and brought her home. 
Sophia loved her little food bowls

Vito's favorite place - right next to the fridge

A good little alpha-female, she taught Vito real quick who was boss and what dog life was all about. Those were the best 12 years of my life, even the last 2 while  we nursed them both through their heart problems. Sometimes the everyday trials of  life have a way of shutting our hearts down.  Those 2 precious creatures brought me so much love and joy that they pried this weary heart of mine wide open again. It's ironic that 2 critters with such hearts full of love had hearts that failed them. 

Well, it happens. I've lost count of my family and friends that have lost their dogs in this last year. We just have to love them everyday while they are with us.  We have to learn from them &  live like they do.  Live in the moment and love unconditionally.

Even after a year I couldn't get rid of their toys and other belongings. A few months ago, I finally took their bed to a local no-kill shelter to donate it. It was still in very good condition.  The manager of Englewood Animal Rescue Society (EARS) was so nice but said she could not take it. They only had an old washer that couldn't handle the bigger loads.  The poor old washer had seen better days.  It just broke my heart to see these people loving and caring for these unwanted cats and dogs but not having a good washing machine. I left the shelter but determined in my heart to try to find a way to fix that situation for them. 

 A few days later I got an email at my work that our company was giving each of our stores some money to use for any project that would make our community a better place. Well, I waited for my team to volunteer some ideas and I was the only person to turn in a project.  Yay, I got my project approved and EARS now has a new washer & dryer. 

It's amazing what a small thing like a washer and dryer can do to make a volunteer's life easier at a place like EARS.  They are wonderful people.

 I don't know that I could ever have a dog again. Maybe.... I just don't know but I happily support any organization that is rescuing, spaying/neutering, & volunteering their veterinarian skills for free. 

We love you Precious Ones - Sheldon Latte, Pender, Kayla, Bare, Star, MacGiver, Lady, Tyler, Vito, Sophia , and Cody (added 9/19/10) 


This year, The Pedigree Adoption Drive is raising awareness for homeless dogs by donating a bowl of food to shelter dogs for everyone who becomes a "Fan" or "Likes" The Pedigree Adoption Drive on Facebook. So far, more than one million bowls of food have been donated!

And get this: Pedigree will also donate a 20 pound bag of their new dog food (Pedigree Healthy Longevity Food for Dogs), to shelters across the country, for each blog post that mentions this adoption drive-wow!

All that you have to do is take a few minutes by September 19th, to do two things:

Become a "Fan" of The Pedigree Adoption Drive on Facebookright here
Write a short post on your blog that highlights The Pedigree Adoption Drive. Feel free to use Pedigree's tagline, "Dog's Rule".

Pedigree's search engines will automatically pick up these key words and, presto, the food will be donated!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

8 Questions

This is a first for me. I never take the quizzes or questions that friends and family send me on my facebook. I have been known to rant about farmville, yoville, & whateverville from time to time. (It's not lost - It's not a real cow - get over it!) 

Being new to the blogging community, it has been fun to follow all the interesting blogs and kind of get familiar with each of you and your creativeness. Debbie from Love of the Sea has been so nice to comment on my posts that I decided to go out of my comfort zone and try to answer her 8 questions.

Hey Y'all
#1 - Do you consider yourself a city girl or country girl?                                                                                       Well, I'll tell you what, I am a country girl but not a redneck. My people are from Tennessee & came to Florida in 1945. I love all things about country living but have no patience for small mindedness or intolerance. I'm not a hunter or fisherman although I love to watch the fishing shows on tv. I grew up watching the Opry so I  love Bluegrass & old country music. My hubby is a New Yorker but I corrupted him. He loves beans, greens, & cornbread and has been heard saying "y'all" once or twice.

My idea of roughing it
#2 - Besides where you live, where is the one other place you would like to live?  Why?                                                                          Northern California because it is so beautiful. I'd love to live on Lake Shasta on a houseboat. The seasons there are spectacular.  Plus it is close to Napa & the Pacific coast - nuff said. 

#3 - What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?                                                            If I am not working then I  am attending my church's contemporary service on Saturday night. I have a wonderful church family that I have been hanging out with for 8 years.  I love to see the young people have a good time with their music.

#4 - What is the best movie you have ever seen?  Why?                                                       Crimes of the Heart with Sissy Spacek, Jessica Lange, & Diane Keaton. A true depiction of southern sisters and it reminds me of mine.  The climax of the film is littlest sister Babe (Sissy) trying to kill herself over some troubling events happening in her life. She tries to hang herself from a vintage chandelier and it rips out of the ceiling.  She goes downstairs with the chandelier on it's rope still tied to her neck plopping behind her and heads for the gas oven. She turns on the gas, opens the oven door and jams her head in but forgot to take the racks out. Ouch - her sister finds her on the floor and realizes by the smell of gas and the rope around her neck that Babe was trying to take a permanent solution to temporary problems. When she asks Babe "Why, Why are you trying to kill yourself?" Babe answers "I don't know, I'm just having a bad day". I always remember that scene when I'm having a crap day - this too shall pass and it always does - sometimes like a kidney stone but pass it does.                        
Sisters in 1966 - Kelly, Kimmie, & Karen (not in picture is lil sis Stacey) 

3 amazing actresses

#5 - What is the one habit that you really want to break but know you never will?                                                                                                                  Biting my fingernails. I am getting better but still have my moments.

Love has a face
#6 - If you could spend the day with one famous person, who would it be and why?                                                                            Mother Teresa - I would hope some of her love and compassion would rub off on me.

#7 - What is your favorite pastime or hobby?                                            Hello - beach combing baby! 

#8 - If you could choose any place in the world to go to - all expenses paid - where would it be?  
OK, how'd I do?  This was actually harder than any posts I written thus far.  Thanks for including me Debbie, I heading to St. Arbuck's now.  I deserve a Pumpkin Spice Latte  after that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Silly

"I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily – like a hermit crab. But I do not. I find that my frame of life does not foster simplicity."  - Anne Morrow LindberghGift from the Sea

There are many different publishings of this book - This is my favorite cover
Little gift books have never interested me. You know, those books that people buy  you for your birthday when they can't think of anything else to get you. That's why when I saw my first copy of "Gift From the Sea" I passed it by.  It just looked cheesy to me. 

Sometime later  I was reading an article about The Lindbergh's - Charles & his wife Anne. Charles is the famous one you always hear about. Mention was made of Anne's amazing accomplishments for a woman living in a time long before the equality of woman was popular and that intrigued me.

 Anne was college graduate, an aviator, a writer, and married to the most famous man on the planet and all before 1930. The kidnapping and murder of their 20 month old son in 1932 blasted her into the public eye. During WWII her husband's popularity took a nose-dive for some not so popular opinions on the war.  This woman needs a vacation!
One of the original ‘Tween Waters Inn cottages on Captiva Island in the early 1900s.

 Anne Lindbergh wrote "Gift From the Sea" on Captiva Island in 1955. She took a month long vacation in a little house on the beach - no electricity, running water, or (yee gads) a/c.  She was actually journaling but it turned into her most famous book.   Each chapter uses a shell as a metaphor for each stage of her life. Reading this book changed my life in so many ways. The biggest was deciding to simplify my life  like the hermit crab she talks about in Chapter 2 - The Channeled Whelk. As a woman who was spinning many plates - the job plate, the marriage plate, the taking-care-of-my- parents plate, the what-about-me-plate, ect... This little book spoke to me deeply.

I still find this  book in thrift stores and garage sales all the time. I have given so many away to friends and family because it's little story has impacted me so deeply. The used ones I find almost always have a loving (to - from)inscription on the title page. 

If you've never read it - you must. If it's been a while since you have read it - read it again.  I re-read it every summer. It's my little tradition.
Anne Lindbergh was the first woman to be certified a celestial navigator
"But I want first of all – in fact, as an end to these other desires – to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact – to borrow from the languages of the saints – to live "in grace" as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, "May the outward and inward man be at one." I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God."  (from Chapter 2 - The Channeled Whelk)
The inscription on the inside page of my personal copy reads "To Me, On my 40th birthday because I deserve beauty in my life."

From Chapter One - The Beach - "But it must not be sought for or – heaven forbid! – dug for. No, no dredging of the sea-bottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea."

Here is some information on the Lindbergh's Captiva visits

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Business in the front - Party in the back

It seems I have turned into a real beach bum these days. I am just loving the weather, it was mean low tide,  and I can get to Englewood Beach in 5 minutes from where I live.

 I decided to try a part of the beach I usually stay away from. The reason I avoid this part of the beach is that all the teenagers hang out here. There is a big volley ball net.  All the kids here skim board so this part of the beach can be dangerous.  You either get beaned by a wayward ball or run over by a skim boarder in full run. But school's back in baby and it's safe again.

 This part of the beach is bordered by condos and believe it or not a trailer park. That area of the beach  was basically deserted which as any good beach comber knows is less competition for any goodies laying around.

The Round-a-bout at Englewood Beach

I used my shell shovel on the surf line and was having some good results.  There was alot of this shell crush at the high surf line that caught my attention. I walked up to take a look. It was packed with shark's teeth just laying on top. I had it all to myself.
Shell crunchies at the high surf line
Lots of teeth just laying on top
I found all these in 1 hour
Time to head home. I've passed this place a million times and never stopped.  I love love smoked mullet. Mullet is considered an inferior fish by alot of folks.  It has a lot of bones and can be kinda fishy if it is not dressed correctly after it is caught meaning you have to break their necks to bleed them out.  I could never do it as a kid cast netting with my dad.  My little sister had that job. So 20 bucks later and I'm heading home with some mullet right out of the smoker.
I Heart Smoked Mullet
Not this mullet!
Yummy Smoked Mullet
The mullet was super good. The Island Court Seafood folks used just the right amount of seasoning and the smoke was just enough.  Grandma washed all my shark's teeth for me and laid them out.  Nice haul for 2 hours. Just so you don't think all I do is lollygag around the beach and eat smoked mullet - I do have to work tomorrow.
Good teeth day
Lots of nice ones