Tuesday, June 11, 2013

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” - Pastor William G.T. Shedd

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

"Spontaneous" is a scary word to some people.  The very thought of flying by the seat of their pants or working without a net breaks them into a cold sweat.  Of course on the  spontaneous meter of life there are two extremes.  The low end would be forgetting your shopping list and grocery shopping without one. Going a little higher up the meter would be the middle-aged woman that goes to the hairdresser for her regular highlights but impulsively decides to go wild & get  aqua blue streaks  instead (you know who you are).  Impetuous tattoos and impromptu  skinny dipping would be on the wilder end of the spontaneity meter. (Note - Adding alcohol of any kind especially tequila can definitely affect your spontaneity.  My sobriety has definitely put the kibosh on my impulsive outbreaks of karaoke. But I can still sing a mean Bonnie Raitt in the shower.)

  When life gets too daily you just have to do something unexpected & fun to shake things up! I fall in about the middle of the spontaneity meter. My friends would probably describe me as reasonably sensible but I have been known to do some crazy shelling.  Monday was one of those days. I had a small window of  free time, made a phone call & was on the road 20 minutes later with my wild spontaneous partners-in-shelling-crime driving 100 miles south to catch the late afternoon low tide on Little Hickory. 

 Go with the flow and ride with the tide.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

Little Hickory is the north end of Bonita Beach on the SWFL coast.  At low tide the entire cove empties and leaves shells as far as the eye can see.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

Almost the entire cove will uncovered as the tide lowers.

100's of starfish were stranded on the sandbar.  Momma Gee takes a closer look at  this huge 9-armed sea star.   If they sense a predator the starfish will drop an arm hoping the predator will take it & run.  They then start growing a replacement arm.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
Wade-ster exploring the tidal pools with his net.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
The colors of the dimming of the day looking towards Ft. Myers Beach with the lights of the dredge in the distance.  Beach renourishment has begun at Lover's Key State Park.

Things are looking good.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

A pile of pen shells washed in by last week's Tropical Storm Andrea is an indicator of treasure below.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

After a little excavating with my shell shovel we uncovered a shell pile left from the storm.  At high tide the pile would have been under 2-3 feet of water.

Taking a break to watch the glorious sunset.

Gee-man perusing the tidal pools.

Found this 16" Horse Conch on the sand bar about 50 yards off the beach.

Intact jewel boxes with some spines not tumbled off by the rolling waves.

My prize - an albino fighting conch.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give." George MacDonald

I so get that these days.  With Manasota Key only 2 miles away it's not unusual for me to pop over for an early morning beach walk for sunrise, come home and do the domestic thing, then head back for some late afternoon sharks toof hunting.  My mom's recent stroke has pretty much put the brakes on my beach combing flexibility. Even the time to blog is a challenge.  On my daily priority list the beach and blogging have sunk to the low end of important things to do.  I hope I don't sound like I'm whining.  We all want to make a difference in the world and sometimes that difference is not on a faraway continent - it is in our own neighborhood or home.  So mom is improving every day and hubby is maintaining.  I'll be vicariously walking the beach with the rest of the cyber-shellers for now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Manasota Key Starter Kit

Tennessee Sister & Mom doing a little pool therapy.

Today marks 2 weeks since my mom had her stroke.  Every day gets a little better for her.  Her movement & balance are improving.  The main challenge was swallowing.  The feeling was gone on the left side of her throat so I had to keep a close eye on her while she ate or drank.  Talking and eating at the same time is a habit we had to quickly break.  Tonight she managed a piece of homemade Strawberry Pie so I am certain she is over the hump.  Thank you to everyone for your prayers and emails full of comfort and encouragement.  I see a beach day on the near horizon for me very soon.

(Originally posted 5/18/2012)
I don't really try to predict what can and will happen with things. Sometimes you think something's gonna be a huge success, and it isn't. And sometimes you pay no attention to something whatsoever, and God just makes it into everything. - Donna Summer

It's Raining Shells!  Hallelujah!!  The rain that rolled over Englewood on Wednesday night rattled some pretty shells loose that washed up Thursday afternoon.

The turtles have started arriving. The yellow stakes are placed on fresh turtle nests each morning as the local turtle patrol make their way up the beach looking for recent turtle tracks.  This seemed like a popular spot.  

I had a newbie sheller with me.  Green Pea hollered that she had found a "pretty Shell".  She scored a perfect lion's paw.

My beach buddy was on the look-out for shark's teeth and had to switch brain grooves to spot shells instead.

Our 2 best finds of the afternoon - a juvenile horse conch  & a lion's paw  (3 inches from top to bottom)

Manasota Key is the kitchen sink of shelling.  You find lots of shark's teeth, fossils, shells, & beach bling.

We chillax'd on a bench to watch the boats sail by.

Thinking of singer Donna Summer who passed away from cancer Thursday morning.  She has a beach house just a mile up the road.  Donna had been a local on Manasota Key for several years.  RIP Donna.

All the fotos were taken with my iPhone 4S.

My finds of the afternoon.  I call this a Manasota Key starter kit -  Shells, shark's teeth, fossils, drift shell fragments, & flotsam.

Manasota Key on Dwellable

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May the flop be with you.

(Credit:  http://www.oceanstyles.com)

Well, I guess everything has a shelf life.  Yesterday was a doleful day for me.  My favorite Havaianas flip flops finally bit the dust.  As I was shopping in the grocery store I felt my flip go flop.  The thong snapped clean off - not fixable - no way - no how.  Not my favorite hot pink, glow-in-the -dark Havianas, Wah!  I got them in a Beall's clearance rack at 70% off and I loved them from the first time I wore them.  Just squishy enough, comfy between the toes & glow-in-the-dark too!  Come On! 

 Dang! Now I'm walking barefooted on the yucky grocery store floor as I finish up my shopping.  I had placed my busted flip flops conspicuously in the basket so people would not think I purposely came in barefoot.  Kids & teenagers can get away with that tackiness in our little beach town but when you are over 50 - not so much.  As I checked out I whined to the cashier about my broken flip flops. Really, I was letting the entire line know that I really did have shoes on when I came in the store (like they really care right). The cashier sympathized  "Well Honey, at least you don't have on pajama pants.  I can handle barefoot, it's those pajama pants in public that are so uncouth."  Thank the Lord I don't even own any.  My fashion sense is still somewhat intact.

So the search begins for new flip flops.  Of course I have back ups and spare pairs but they are not the same.  OK, don't make that face at me again or I'll slap you with my flip flop.

You served me well dear flip flops.  I couldn't bear to throw them away at the store.  They are still in the back of my truck till I figure out a respectful disposal.

My favorite Havaianas on a better day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

M-O-T-H-E-R "M" is for the million things she gave me, "O"means only that she's growing old, "T" is for the tears she shed to save me, "H" is for her heart of purest gold; "E" is for her eyes, with love-light shining, "R" means right, and right she'll always be, Put them all together, they spell "MOTHER," A word that means the world to me. --Howard Johnson (c. 1915)

A spur of the moment trip found me on Captiva Island this past Tuesday.  The pictures on facebook of a huge shell pile were too tempting for me.  I hurriedly packed a bag, jumped in the car & drove the 2 hours south to Captiva for the 6pm low tide.  I had been digging my way through the monstrous shell pile when my phone rang.  It was Hubby.  "This better be good" I thought as I stopped excavating my way through the mass of seashells.  "The ambulance is here.  I think your Mom is having another stroke." He said soberly.  So, 10 minutes later I am heading back home to Englewood trying to keep calm & not let the thoughts in my head take over.  You know, the "what if's" and the "should have's".  "I didn't even hug her good bye", I thought to myself.  I just ran out of the house thinking about the stupid junonia that would have my name on it in that big shell pile.

Now, 3 days later, she is recovering from her 2nd stroke in 2 years.  This time there are swallowing issues & walking challenges.  As I watch her struggle to work with her nurses & various therapists I can't help but admire her courage.  No one wants to get old.  Certainly, no one wants to face illness of any kind.  Watching my mother be gracious, brave & trust the Lord in the midst of the storm that has just blown through her cerebellum is extremely humbling.  It makes me realize how thankful I am for every day we have together.  My Mom has peace in the storm because she knows who is sleeping in the front of the boat.

As Mom consumes the jello her nurses bring her to keep her nausea at bay, she reminds me how she taught me that trick some years back.  I balked at her offer of jello after my surgery 8 years ago and she insisted I eat it because "It would coat my stomach". Oh. All. Right. As I ate the bowl of jello she forced on me my stomach slowly settled and the nausea went away.  "You were right Mom.  You were right".  You are right about a lot of things.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.  It's true - Mom really does know best.

(Re-posting from May 7, 2011)

My 74 yo Mother (GG) has not embraced technology although she is winking at it from a distance. GG had the cassette tape-thing down pat then I threw her a curve ball by gifting her a cd player. After several sessions of me instructing her she got pretty adapt at playing her new cd's except for one incident where she listened to the same song over and over and over all night long because she hit the wrong button.

 She has a cell phone that she forgets to charge and a tv that has 3 remotes.   I set her up a facebook account so she could keep in touch with her grand kids & some old high school friends but she never uses it. Just like the email lesson we had previous to  facebook she thinks if she hits the wrong key on the keyboard she will blow up China. 

GG has taken a shine to one perk of using the Internet - Bill pay.  GG hates to pay a bill any earlier than she has to.  I think she just doesn't like giving up her money any sooner than she has to. On the day of the bill's due date She usually races out the door to drive to the post office trying to get her envelope out on the last pony express to Discover or Allstate hoping it at least gets postmarked on time. This all changed the first time I offered to pay her bill online.  Click, click, click tap click - all done! as GG stares in wide-eyed wonder over my shoulder. She now pays most of her bills online vicariously through me. Happy Mother's Day GG. You know how to pick your battles.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day. It is a blessed baptism which gives the first waking thoughts into the bosom of God. - HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

Walking out to the Boca Grande Pass for the morning sunrise show.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.  I invited  a few of my girlfriends to meet on the beach to watch the sunrise.  Now, as I am laying on my bed checking the alarm I set for 4:30 am and the back-up alarm for 4:45 am on my phone for the third time I am wondering if I really thought this all the way through? I love making my way to the beach well before dawn to watch the sunrise - by myself.  Inviting and coordinating girl friends is now overwhelming me and starting to feel similar to herding cats.  I have already packed a beach bag with lemon-poppy seed muffins, bananas, & coffee essentials. I've checked the weather and the tides.  My clothes are laid out.  I'm ready to hit the road at 4:25 am and pick each friend up in 15 minute intervals as we make our way out the 11 miles to Boca Grande Island for the sunrise.

After finally falling asleep I woke to the first Big Ben bells chiming rudely as the  alarm went off.  I looked over in the dark at my hubby who never moved a muscle in all the racket.  I quietly slid out of bed, grabbed my clothes and proceeded to get this show on the road. As I mentally double-checked my gear I was hoping that all my friends were on time.  If just one was one person late or a no-show that sunrise was history.  Then, just like clockwork, they were each at their appointed pick-up spot just as we had planned.  Just like Hannibel of the A-Team says -"I love it when a plan comes together".

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
The daybreak sky is a changing watercolor of pastel hues.

The weather was a surprise.  With a high surf advisory for Charlotte County, the wind was blowing  a strong cool blast from the NW.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
Photographs can't do it justice.  An island sunrise will take your breath away with it's beauty.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
Anglers get a jump on the day in "The Tarpon Capital of the World".

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
The reflection of a hungry sandpiper washes across the wet sand.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
The Gulf of Mexico is usually a pretty calm place but with the convergence of rising tide, pass currents, & strong winds it does have it's turbulent moments.  

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
The water is actually warm at 77 degrees. Even as stirred up as things are we saw dolphins, a manatee, and A SEA TURTLE!

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
Tossed ashore by the blustering surf, a tulip egg casing attached to a pen shell came in for a landing.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

The chilly gusting wind only added a special ambiance to our coffee and conversation.  That's me in the purple shirt holding on to the empty chair so it doesn't blow away.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

Up the beach for a little exploring.  

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

The water was slightly calmer on the south side of Boca Grande Pass. This starfish was rescued and photo-documented before we threw him/her back.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)
The sugar sea star came ashore wrapped up in the seaweed.

(Photo Credit:  Momma Gee)

Thanks to the stormy sea lots of flotsam washing up on the south end of the island.  Closer inspection of the seaweed finds shells, star fish, and other sea goodies.

Somethings are so worth the extra effort - getting up at the crack of dawn, good friends, coffee on the beach, sunrise.  So worth it!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My soul is full of longing for the secrets of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me... - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Photo Credit:  Meghan McCarthy / Daily News File Photo)

While most people follow the traditional spring, summer, fall, & winter seasons;  Here on Manasota Key we observe two seasons - Lights on and Lights off.  May 1 is the official start of Lights off or better known as Sea Turtle Nesting Season.  Most beach side Manasota Key Motels, condos, & homeowners have already made the annual move to shield all outdoor lights visible from the beach.  Sea turtle hatchlings have a natural instinct to move towards the brightest direction. On a natural beach, the brightest direction is most often the expansive view of the night sky over, and reflected by the ocean.  Environmental lighting on the beach such as street lights, outdoor lighting on buildings, and even a lamp shining from a living room window can confuse the mother coming ashore to lay her eggs and the baby hatchlings some eight weeks later looking for their way to the sea.

Sea turtles not only have to get past lights, beach furniture, and predators to survive.  The weather has to be dealt with as well. Coastal Wildlife Club, Inc. who manages the turtle patrol of Manasota Key had counted 1,988 turtle nests up to week #9 of last year's turtle nesting season when Tropical Storm Debby blew across SWFL and sadly most of the nests were lost.  The 2012 season's final count was 7,030 turtle nests on Manasota Key of which 4,000 of those were false crawls.  A false crawl is when a sea turtle comes ashore but for some reason gets startled or unhappy with the area and returns to the sea without making a nest or laying her eggs. 

A few years back I got the surprise of my life.  As I was sitting on Blind Pass Beach (located in the middle of Manasota Key not Sanibel) sorting through a big pile of shell crush looking for sharks teeth a lady came running up the beach shouting that turtles were hatching about a 100 yards up the beach.  It's unusual for baby turtles to hatch during the day but it does happen.  I had been making a video about looking for sharks teeth so my camera was already out.  As I scurried up the beach to see what was going on I was met with 100's of baby turtles making their way to the water.  I was also met with a flock of seagulls trying to scoop up the determined marching babies.  Turtle patrol experts will tell you to stay back and quietly observe.  When the sea gulls started swooping our little gang went into turtle rescue mode.  They say only 1 out of a 1,000 turtles makes it to maturity.  We wanted the odds to be as good as they could get.  I was in awe of seeing the turtles hatch for days.   

For more information on what you can do to prepare for the 2013 Turtle Nesting season click here.