Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Life... is not simply a series of exciting new ventures. The future is not always a whole new ball game. There tends to be unfinished business. One trails all sorts of things around with one, things that simply won't be got rid of. Anita Brookner

Now, I don't like to point fingers. I've got my share of unfinished projects. There is a box full of shell pieces that are destined for a wall art mosaic as soon as I find the right frame.  I've been looking for that frame for 6 months. I have several storage tubs in my closet that if I would just unpack I could actually walk into my walk-in closet. But, I'm sorry if the procrastination kingdom has a king - I have found him.

(Overhead at a small home in Englewood)

"Look Honey! I bought a sailboat!"
"But Darling, you don't sail"
"I know, but I'm going to learn"

(Overheard at same Englewood home 1 year later)

"Sweetheart, I'm going to take the sailing lessons as soon as I fix the hole in the boat"

(Overheard yet another year later)

"My Love, I made you a new planter in the front yard!"

I drove around the block to get a second look. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

“The best things in life are unexpected - because there were no expectations.” Eli Khamarov

Ranger Betty of Stump Pass State Park
I have exciting news!!  There was another spectacular junonia find. No.... Not on Sanibel Island.  Not on Captiva Island.  Not even close. I told you about  Ranger Bob from Stump Pass State Park a few months back.  He's the one who found a huge megalodon shark's tooth on the beach at Stump Pass.  Bob had the shark's tooth wrapped by a jeweler and proudly wears his necklace to work every day.
Ranger Bob has recently added another large sharks tooth to his hat

 Recently Ranger Bob went garage sale-ing and bought a box of shells for $2.00.  Not a bad deal right.  Guess what was in the bottom of the box....that's right a huge perfect junonia.  Ranger Bob had given the junonia to his fellow co-worker Ranger Betty. I finally got a picture of his find. 

 Ranger Betty told me a cute story.  Since Stump Pass is a state park they close at sundown.  The rangers cannot go home until the last car is out of the parking lot.   Ranger Betty was impatiently waiting for a straggler to come off the beach  after sundown so she could go home. As the dilly-dallying sunset offender made their way to their car she offered up an apology to Ranger Betty for her tardiness. Ranger Betty said she held out her hand and she was holding the largest most perfect junonia she had ever seen.  All was forgiven.   Now Ranger Betty has a junonia of her own -  from a garage sale but a junonia none the less.
Ranger Betty took a break from the long line of cars waiting for a parking space to show off her gorgeous junonia
Scaphella junonia
(Lamarck, 1804) 

PS- If you would like to see a little more on Stump Pass visit my shelling sistah Carla's new blog Love Letters From the Sea.  Carla, her mom Susan, & I had a very successful sharks tooth day there on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm Just Saying.....

Come On!! You gotta love a doctor with a sense of humor. My Gyno has come up with a solution for those delicate moments that you are flat on your back being poked & prodded.  This is the  ceiling directly above the exam table. She has covered it with jokes & cartoons to lighten up an awkward moment (No I didn't take this picture during the exam - that would be tacky....I snuck & took the picture after it was over)

Looking at the ceiling from the exam table

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to. But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough. Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them. ~Victoria Glendinning

Hoya carnosa

I know that the love of gardening is not exclusive to those of us GRITS (Girls Raised In The South). Women from all 50 states have a love for all things green & growing.  It just seems that it is expected of us who are from the south to have a garden or at least grow a tomato or two. Like any good southern woman I appreciate a pretty garden. My grandmother  was a florist who loved to garden. She had a huge glass greenhouse back in the 50's. She had a compost pile & raised earthworms before anyone had to encourage her to go green. I did not inherit that skill. I garden vicariously through Southern Living magazine or HGTV. While my mother, sisters, & nieces  putter outside in their gardens  I can be found in the lazy boy watching Curb Appeal spruce up some ugly yard.

 I do have plants but I only grow the species that thrive on neglect. (We will not entertain the psychological ramifications of that at this time)  If the plant needs more than dew or rainwater it won't last long with me. But what I lack in green thumb I make up for in longevity. I have had my  Hoya plant for 15 years . The delicate flowers caught my attention and I remembered my grandmother had one she called a wax plant. They are in the milkweed family so I guess that makes them a weed of sorts. Hey, my kind of plant. Hoyas are a vine and mine is climbing on an obelisk I bought from Lowe's clearance for $2.00. I know Spring is in full swing when my Hoya plant blooms.

My Hoya plant is loaded with blooms

The blooms before they open

Almost ready to bloom

When you touch a flower they feel like velvet

The flowers are loaded with nectar that keep the bees happy 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. Thomas A. Edison US inventor (1847 - 1931)

Well the planets  lined up again.   My friend Lil Shorty (pronounced Shawty) & I finally had a day off on the same day. Lil Shorty is my partner in sharks tooth crime.  After a few texts back & forth it was decided that we would walk the second leg of our unfinished beach hike. We had walked from Englewood Beach north to Blind Pass Beach back in February. That was a spectacular day.  The weather was crisp & the water was crystal blue. Once you get past the public beach & onto the beach less travelled the shoreline is teeming with sharks teeth. 

Looking south towards Blind Pass Beach in Englewood, FL

The beach was packed.  Snowbirds, spring breakers, & beach umbrellas as far as the eye could see. We started walking north and left the crowds behind us. The people of Englewood are just crazy about picking up sharks teeth. I had a lady stop me and ask what all the fuss was about.  I tried to muster up an answer with some significance but she wasn't converted.  Shaking her head she walked away not comprehending our fascination for the little black teeth hidden in the sand.

Lil Shorty has a good eye for the sharks teeth. You've heard of the Sanibel Stoop? We do the Englewood squat.

Her first find of the day
I get a kick out of all the homemade apparatuses that people make  to help find the teeth.  The most common is the sand flea shovel that every Walmart sells in our area. It seems there are many golf clubs from the Goodwill or garage sales that have been modified with spoons, wok ladles, & other kitchen utensils. Seriously, there are some inventive people out there.

A visitor from Wisconsin

A slotted kitchen spoon on a wooden broomstick handle

Homemade wooden shovel

His & hers

This contraption comes with the matching visor

Well I guess you could call what we did walking.  It was more a meandering over to this shell pile, then over to that shell pile, then over to that rock, then over to that surf line.  One tends to lose track of time as the sun, salt, & sound of the waves  take over your senses. 
Looking north up the key towards Manasota Beach

That tree has survived a few storms

Not the best pic but it was amazing to see this momma Osprey .  Her chick was in a nest close by.

Where the is a bait bucket a Egret is usually close by

Nearing the end of our walk Lil Shorty's bag was heavy with sharks teeth and so were  my cargo shorts which were starting to droop down from full pockets.  After a quick phone call to our chauffeur (my sweet hubbs) to alert him that we were nearing the end and he could leave whatever he was watching on net flicks and come get us so we picked up the pace & made it to Manasota Beach. The Hubbs' timing was perfect.  He pulled into the beach parking lot just as we walked up.  
The end of our walk - Manasota Beach

Our chauffeur was easy to spot in his ever present Gator blue & orange (The adult man's version of garanimals)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton

My Miracle Man & Me.

My beach combing exploits have been temporarily  interrupted by my Hubby who decided to have a heart attack on Saturday night. I was watching some tv in the living room when I heard him call my name from the bedroom.  "Oh for goodness sake, what does he want now" I thought to myself & continued to watch tv.  After a minute or so my conscience elbowed me hard & I walked back to see what he needed.  I found him gripping the sink & in extreme pain from his jaw to his chest. We live 3 minutes from a hospital so I hustled him outside to the car & off we bolted off to the ER. 

That was Saturday night & he came home Tuesday afternoon with a stint in his LAD.  The doctor assured me someone was looking out for Hubby because blockage in that artery is usually non-negotiable. I asked the doctor "Isn't that artery called the Widow Maker?".  "Yes" he grinned "But I don't as a rule use that term with the spouse".  My last year has been spent caring for his various ailments that range from back to lungs to heart. I'm so thankful that things turned out the way they did.  My Heavenly Father showed up with His goodness & mercy from the  capable doctors at an award-winning hospital to VA covering the bill.

 I told the Hubby that if I would've had to pick out a headstone for him it would have said "I told you I was sick".  I've given myself a swift kick in the mental rear end and made some minor adjustments in my attentions towards him.  I hope you enjoy a post I did last Easter.  I pray that the Lord would be with you this Passover & Easter season.  That His Face would shine upon you & your family and be gracious to you in this season as we celebrate New Life.

(Originally posted April 9, 2011)
 "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church, I keep it staying at Home - With a bobolink for a Chorister, And an Orchard, for a Dome." ~Emily Dickinson

The moon & Orion's Belt to the right

I was talking to a fellow fossil hunter on the beach the other day. The conversation had turned toward the existence of God. He confessed to me that he was not religious.  I smiled at him and said "Me neither". I spread my arms out as if to embrace the amazing blue sky we were standing under -  "This is my church" I said. 

 Now I do have a local church  that I am a member of.  I call them my tribe. My tribe knows me well enough that if I lead a prayer meeting it won't be inside the building. It will be outside under a huge oak tree on our property. I am also prone to prayer walk-abouts.  I have a beach fellowship and our patron saint is St. Sharks Tooth & St. Arbuck's. There is something about sharing some time on the beach with friends, listening to the waves, and soaking up some sun that builds friendships. I'm into relationship not religion.  I think most people like the fossil hunter I was talking to don't have a problem with the existence of God.  They just don't get some of the people that say they know Him. 

I guess because Easter is upon us I've been thinking  alot lately about Jesus living in a town on the Sea of Galilee. I bet He took tons of beach walks. I wonder what kind of shells He picked up? Probably calico scallops.  I wonder as He was looking up at the sky at night if He pointed out constellations to His friends.  "Look Guys, there's Orion.  See the 3 stars in the belt. Wait till you find out what that means." It was on the beach 40 years ago sitting under a star-filled sky that I had my first God encounter.  My heart was just suddenly overwhelmed  with the beauty of creation and somewhere deep inside myself I just knew that I knew that I knew.

 After 40 years I know enough about Theology to be dangerous. Over the years I've listened to preachers & teachers. My hobby is studying early Church history.   I've read all the latest books on how to know God till my head has been swimming in information. I always go back to that starry night on the beach 40 years ago.  My heart always knows God in a way my head can not.  It's pretty simple really. The famous Sermon on the Mount that Jesus taught in His huge outdoor cathedral on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea 2,000 years ago can be summed up in 4 words. Love God - Love people.  Works for me.

(Credit: www.turtlejournal.com) 
A sand dollar shell looks sort of like a round white coin, which is where it gets its name

The skeleton of a Crucifix Catfish
 Sciades proops 
(Valenciennes, 1840)
Scallop shell, stained glass, St Andrew's Church, Chelmondiston, Suffolk. The scallop shell is the symbol of St James the Great, one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ. Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem collected scallop shells as souvenirs.