Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Land Baroness

Darling Sister-In-Law (DSIL) has become a local land owner, a Local Land Baroness, if you will. She has purchased a lot in town here. Both the location and price were right so she took the plunge.

She likes the small town we live in and wants to retire here in a few years. Now that she has the lot she is starting to decide what kind of house she wants to build eventually.

She also wants to plant some trees on the lot. She would like to plant fruit trees now so that when it comes time to retire, build and move in, the trees will be mature and producing delicious fruit.

The gentleman who owned the lot before her had planted fruit trees, but back in 2004 hurricane Charley destroyed many of them as well as the house that was there.

There is a tree that is still alive and producing fruit; it is a tangerine tree.

DSIL gave The Colonel and I permission to pick the fruit (by the looks of the tree some of the neighbors had been helping themselves to it as well).

The ripest tangerines were higher up in the tree (apparently the neighbors could not reach them so they tree-ripened longer which made them sweeter). The Colonel and I used a ladder to pluck the upper tangerines.

We must have eaten two or three each as we plucked away. We ended up picking about 40 of those little orange balls of Florida sunshine. We gave half of our harvest to our friend Louise who said they were so good she might not share them with her husband.

I don't have a fruit tree in my yard yet, so it sure is nice to know someone who does and is willing to share the fruit. Being related to the tree owner helps too. Thanks a bunch DSIL.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Aqua Vitae

Aqua Vitae...Water of Life.

The human body is roughly 60% water.

Nearly 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water.

We all use water every day, many times a day and when it isn't there at our fingertips, it can throw us for a loop.

Case in point...

Monday evening I rinsed a glass to put into the dishwasher. I turned on the cold water tap and watched in disbelief as the water pressure grew weaker and then the stream of water completely disappeared. Dang, I had more things to rinse and I wanted to run my dishwasher later, but alas I would have a few dirty dishes in the sink when I woke up the next morning.

I had no bottled or jugged water on hand (usually a hurricane supply item and it is not hurricane season currently, but you can bet I will always have some on hand now, as well as Handi-wipes or diaper wipes) so I began to worry, nay, darn-near freak out about no showers, teeth brushing, flushing toilets and washing hands before bed that evening, let alone all of the next day's water usage issues. It hit me how dependent we are on having our clean, running water on demand and at our fingertips.

I called The Colonel over to the sink. What the heck?!?...Great.

Out the door we went to check the well and its supporting equipment. We checked the water lines, filter, conditioner and pressure gauge. The lines showed no leaks, the filter was clean, the conditioner was running smoothly, but the pressure gauge read zero. The Colonel said he thought it could be either the well pump (major buckage and time in repairs) or the pressure gauge malfunctioning (less buckage and time in repairs). We could do nothing but speculate and refrain from using "sentence enhancers" (cursing) while contemplating our bad luck, so we decided to turn in for the night.

Before we went to bed I scribbled a note for Spud, 'Water is Off', and placed it where he would see it when he woke up the next morning. The Colonel suggested we put some ice cubes in a pitcher so that they would melt over night and then we could make our much needed cups of coffee in the morning. Excellent plan.

The next morning with cups in hand containing coffee made with glacial-like, crystal clear water, we made the appropriate phone calls that would facilitate in ending our "dry spell".

Two hours and forty-five minutes later the repairman showed up like the cavalry. He looked at the equipment and quickly determined it was the pressure gauge. YESSS!! He broke out his tools and proceeded to fix the problem.

Forty-five minutes and $50 (thanks to our homeowners maintenance agreement) later, Bob's your uncle, he was finished with the job.

It was a relief to know we had water again.

I hope to never take running water for granted again, but people being creatures of habit and comfort that we are, I probably won't even realize I have taken it for granted again until it is not there (God forbid).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where There's Smoke...

Smoke on the horizon is almost always a harbinger of bad news.

The Colonel and I had just pulled into our driveway when we smelled acrid smoke on the breeze as it swept into the open windows of the truck. At first we thought it might be the engine of the truck, but when we jumped out the smell was all around us and not confined to the truck's engine. Satisfied that the truck was not going to burst into flames, we went into the house, still wondering where the smell was coming from.

Not two minutes later we heard sirens and saw flashing lights turn onto our road. The firetruck raced past our house and then we raced outside to follow it. We got back into the truck and hit the road.

We kept our eyes to the horizon as we drove, spotted smoke there and wondered which neighbor's house was on fire. Each house that we passed that was not aflame brought us relief from concern over that neighbor and their possible misfortune.

The house that was burning belonged to a family we do not know personally, but we have driven past their house on numerous occasions. Their immediate neighbor, who returned home from work to make sure the flames did not affect his house, told us that the fire department had been to the burning house yesterday. It seems there had been a small fire then which was thought to be contained and put out. Apparently the fire had still been smoldering somewhere inside the house. Scary to think that the fire was smoldering as the homeowners were slumbering in their beds last night. I do not know that I would have gotten much sleep that night if it were me. I don't believe anyone was in the house when the fire broke out again today. I think they were all away at work.

It is always terrible to see a disaster like this happen to anyone. A lifetime of things gone in a fiery flash. These events should serve to remind us that the real things that matter are not things, but people. People cannot be replaced like a Sanyo stereo or a Prada pantsuit can.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

King's Dream Lives On

This is my friend John. I met him three years ago when the Colonel and I started volunteering for a local African-American museum. He will be turning 80 this week.

John is warm-hearted, kind, witty, well-read, generous, quick to smile and wise. His wisdom comes from his many years on this earth and from the challenges he overcame in his lifetime.

He has lived through the Jim Crow Law years of "separate but equal". Separate bathrooms, restaurants, public transportation and schools. There was segregation in the military as he served his country during the Korean War. (John was in the same Air Force squadron The Colonel would be commander of roughly 50 years later.)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 abolished the Jim Crow Laws. Changed laws did not always equal changed minds as the history books have shown us.

John was a local civil rights leader. He fought for and became the first black mailman in this town and he started the first NAACP chapter here and was its president.

Some people might have become hardened by their experiences of racial injustice, especially in the south, but like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John does not judge people by the color of their skin, but on the content of their character and is a peaceful man.

The Colonel, Spud and I are invited to attend John's birthday party. We will be in attendance, as will a large majority of the people of this town...proof that John is well known and well loved by many different people.

I count myself blessed to have met John and number him as a friend.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Frosty Morn

I woke up today to another cold and frosty day. The Colonel took Spud to the bus stop in his truck this morning, so I did not have to scrape my car windows again.

The frost covered everything. The top of the hot tub looked like it was dusted with snow.

The tops of my yard lanterns were frosty. Looked pretty up close.

I am so ready for our normal seasonal temperatures (mid to upper 60's) to return.

I do not like the cold
I do not like it with Jell-O in a mold

I do not like layering with lots of extra clothes
I do no like how it gives me a chilly nose

No, I do not like the cold, Sam I am
I do not like it worth a damn

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Florida Snow Day"

When I was in school I would sometimes pray for snow days.

My school rarely had snow days. Spud's school does not have snow days; it has hurricane days.

Usually the hurricane days happen when school starts in the fall. Hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th.

The school called this evening. Florida Power and Light is performing a load test which will take down the entire school system's power for many hours.

Looks like Spud is getting a "Florida Snow Day" day tomorrow.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Flight Path

Today was a cold, wet, gray day; very winter-like. If I could fly, I would have gone some place warmer. I would have joined the flock of Robins that was in my yard earlier today.

Just after breakfast (I had that delicious grapefruit) I looked out my window and saw the Robins. There must have been nearly 100 of them all around my yard. I was unable to step outside to get better pictures of them without scaring them away, so I took the photos from my windows (sorry about the quality).

These Robins may have been on their way to central Mexico where they winter; they also winter in Florida.

As cold as it has been, is and will be for a few days more, I recommend the Robins just keep on heading to Mexico. Adios Muchachos.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fruits of Our Labor

When I was in the second grade I had a text book and one of the pages had a drawing depicting the four seasons on it. The picture was of a backyard in Florida. I thought it was exotic.

The seasonal changes were not greatly varied in each section of the picture. The orange tree in the backyard had blooms on it in one seasonal depiction and then perfectly round and very orange, oranges in another. I was enthralled by the orange tree; I thought how wonderful to have your very own orange tree in your backyard so that you could eat an orange or drink its juice whenever you wanted. I think it was then that I knew I wanted to live in Florida one day.

I do not have my very own orange tree (or grapefruit tree)...yet.

My mother-in-law brought us some Ruby Red grapefruits that she had gotten from a neighbor whose friend has a tree of their very own. The Wal-Mart bag was near to bursting with them. I would hate to think how much they would have cost if we had bought them from Wal-Mart.

The Colonel and I sectioned and juiced the Ruby Reds. We tasted them as we worked. The jewel-like grapefruit flesh was the sweetest I have ever eaten.

I know what I will have with my breakfast tomorrow...chilled, fresh squeezed, Ruby Red, grapefruit juice.

Maybe I should plant a handful of these seeds in hopes of many future breakfasts accompanied by my very own fresh fruit and juice.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program

Usually one would see a Wordless Wednesday photo here, but this Wednesday I felt compelled to write a few words (that is if my frigid fingers can navigate the keyboard).

An Inconvenient (fill in the blank) Mr. Gore! I live in sub tropical Florida where when I woke up this morning the temperature was a bone-chilling 31 degrees!

I had to take Spud to the bus stop this morning as he was in uniform and it was bitter cold out.

I bundled up to walk out to my car, then I had to scrape the windows! SCRAPE I say!! I don't even keep a scraper in my car! I had Spud search in The Colonel's truck in hopes of finding one as I used my Sam's Club card as a scraper. He found one.

Where is this 'Global Warming' I hear so much about? Again I (fill in the blank) Mr. Gore!

Friday, January 1, 2010