Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cat Food...It's Not Just For Cats Anymore!

One evening, after dark, The Colonel was on his way to the garage to lock it up for the night and he came upon Trevor (a toad that lives around our house and named thus by Yam...a Harry Potter thing). Trevor was eating the cat food that the cats had left behind after their evening snack. Who knew toads liked cat food?

Trevor isn't the only one who also likes the cats' food.

The other morning The Colonel was again making his way to the garage and when he came back in the house said he just saw the strangest thing...a hornet wrestling a piece of cat food. I had to see this.

Upon closer (as close as I dared) inspection, I saw that the hornet was actually eating the cat food. He would flit from the food on the porch to the food on the plate.

Now don't think the hornet finished off the cat food, the two cats helped and I am sure Trevor will show up eventually and partake of his share.

We sure are getting a bang for our buck when we buy the cat food; three species dining on our dollar.

The bag should be labeled Cat, Toad and Hornet Chow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yam's Sophomore Move In

This afternoon we moved Yam into her new college dorm room.

The Colonel's parents came down to help. Thank God, because G-pa's truck carried the Lion's Share of Yam's stuff. His truck bed has a nice cover over it and that came in handy when it spit rain as soon as we pulled out of our driveway. It did not rain long or hard.

We had dry skies on the 45 minute drive south until we pulled onto the campus. Again it did not rain long or hard and when Yam was checked in and ready to start moving things into her (second story) room there was no rain at all.

Yam has three roomies. Their dorm complex is made up of a common area, a small kitchen, two bathrooms and four individual bedrooms.

The common area. The girl in the blue shirt is Yam's friend and R.A./roomie. The girl in the purple shirt in Yam's friend and roomie. The tall guy is a friend of Yam and her roomies and the others in the room are Yam's grandparents and The Colonel.

The kitchen (sorry about the poor quality photo). The kitchen has a full size fridge, an electric stove and dishwasher.

The two bathrooms. There is a tub in one room and a shower in the other.

The hallway to the bedrooms and bathrooms. Yam's room is the first door on the left.

Yam's room.

When we got back home I called Yam to let her know we got home safely.

She was still unpacking.

Here's to wishing you all the best in your sophomore year Yam!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pi in the Sky and Walt Disney's Long Lost Brother

Yam goes back to college later this week, so today we ran some errands that needed to be done before she leaves, like a dental appointment and a haircut.

After I parked the car and as we made our way towards the dental office, Yam stopped and pointed to the sky and said, "Hey look, Pi in the sky!"

Then she said, "I wish I would have brought my camera!"

Of course I had mine with me...I never leave home without never know when blogable material will present itself and need to be photographed.

Remember, one of my nicknames is "Rainman", given to me by The Colonel since I began blogging, because I always have my camera with me and I snap away at what seems to him, the most mundane things.

So, I gave Yam my camera and she captured "Pi in the sky".

We both knew this would end up as a blog entry.

Seeing the unique cloud formation got us to thinking about the origin of the saying, "pie in the sky".

I "googled" it when I got home and this is what I found out.

In 1911, a Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) named Joe Hill (born Joel Hagglund) wrote a song called, "The Preacher and the Slave". It was a parody of the Salvation Army song, "In the Sweet By and By".

The song's chorus follows:

You will eat, by and by
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

He wrote the song because he did not like the way the Salvation Army was more interested in saving souls rather than feeding the poor with the money that was placed in their pails.

The Salvation Army's "Pie in the Sky" equaled, the promise of Heaven, while continuing to suffer in this life.

Later, in 1939, the term would mean, a prospect of future happiness during this life, which is unlikely to ever be realized. FDR and his administration had much to do with the change in meaning.

Our last errand of the morning was grocery shopping. We decided to shop at Publix.

Publix grocery stores can be found in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The first store opened in Winter Haven, Florida in 1930.

Mr. George W. Jenkins is the founder of Publix.

There is a picture of Mr. Jenkins hanging above the water fountains in the store.

Yam and I have always thought Mr. Jenkins could pass as Walt Disney's long, lost brother.

With my camera in hand, Yam covertly snapped a picture of the picture, while feigning the need for a drink from the fountain.

Mr. George W. Jenkins. (Maybe the "W" stands for Walt, a family name?)

Mr. Walt Disney.

If they are long lost brothers, what explains the name difference? Perhaps they were separated when very young, and a kind, childless couple (Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins of Winter Haven, FL) adopted little George. Winter Haven is southwest of Orlando, where Walt would one day build Disney World.

You never know what you'll see and what may become a blog post when you are running some errands...don't forget your camera!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Perfect Pineapple

There is nothing like a fresh pineapple...NOTHING. The fresh pineapple we had for our dessert tonight was perfect. It was a homegrown pineapple from our octogenarian friend, John.

Spud and Yam went to John's house to help him hook up some electronic equipment. He wanted to pay them in cash but they said that was not necessary, they were just glad to help (The Colonel and I must be doing something right). John said he could not have them leave empty handed, so he had Spud cut one of the pineapples in his front yard to take home as payment.

The kitchen smelled fruity and sweet as The Colonel and I came back from our Home Depot trip and it was all due to John's little pineapple sitting on the counter.

The smell of the pineapple told us that it would be nothing short of Ambrosia.

After we ate our dinner The Colonel cut the pineapple and handed out pieces of the golden fruit.

That first bite (as well as all those that followed) was indeed worthy of the palates of the Greek Gods.

John's pineapple was many times more sweet and delicious than any fresh pineapple I have ever purchased from the grocery store.

I called John after we ate the pineapple to let him know that it was the best pineapple we had ever eaten.

He said our pineapple was a descendant of a pineapple that he bought two years ago from the grocery. After he ate the grocery pineapple, he cut the top off (along with 1 to 2 inches of the pineapple attached) and planted it. He told me to do the same with our pineapple and in about two years we should have another delicious one. So I did.

John and I agreed what made this pineapple better than the grocery ones was that this was ripe at the time Spud harvested it and the ones at the grocery are picked when they are still unripe. They have to be picked early for shipping purposes.

John said he didn't give his growing pineapples any special treatment, as a matter of fact, he said he doesn't have a green thumb. I was thrilled to hear that, because I don't either and if John can grow a pineapple worthy of Greek Gods and their palates then I have a decent chance at doing the same.

I am counting down the two years until I have another one of these on my counter top.

Maybe we don't have to wait two years...John did say he had two more growing...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Spud the Senior

School is now in session for Spud. Yesterday was his first day as a senior.


I know this year will fly by. I can already see him in his cap and gown, walking across the stage and taking his diploma in hand.

Yam's walk across the stage is still very fresh in my mind and she will start her second year of college in two weeks.

It is our tradition to take pictures of the kids on their first day of school (college excluded).

This year's picture of Spud.

I am thinking back to the days when my siblings and I would get ready for our first day of the new school year.

When we were in grade school we did not have to agonize (mainly my sisters and I, it's a girl thing) over what to wear on that first day. We went to a Catholic school and therefore had a uniform to wear (except the boys, which I thought wasn't fair and still don't). You had to pick out your book bag or back pack and lunch box and that was cause for some excitement and maybe some angst. I remember my aqua colored book bag and H.R. Puff 'n' Stuff lunchbox.

After grade school we went to a public Jr. High and high school. No uniforms.

Now came the time to worry about and pre-plan our first-day-of-school outfits. It was crucial what outfit you put know, first impressions and all. The current fashions played a big part in what you would decide to wear. Bell Bottoms, Gaucho Pants, cowl neck sweaters, etc.

Your hair and makeup had to be flawless (I never seemed to be able to achieve perfection in either).

Once you had on the perfect first-day-of-school outfit with perfect hair and makeup, it was time to wait for the school bus to arrive.

There were always butterflies in our stomachs as we waited. I had one sister in particular whose gag reflex was set on hair-trigger that day due to her nerves. Many of my siblings, me included, have sensitive gag-reflexes. Just the mere mention of, let's say, a hair being found in one's dinner can bring on a strong gag. I am trying not to gag as I type this.

The first day of Jr. High and high school was usually great fun. It was good to see your friends again, met your teachers, become familiar with your schedule, your route through the hallways and your new locker (which would later feature in many inadequacy dreams for everyone...not finding your locker and when/if you do, not remembering the combination).

Spud said the first day of his Senior Year was a good one.

My wish is that the rest of his Senior Year will be too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Giving Birth to Baby #3" or Being a Midwife to a Gator

I am two years into beginning my second decade as a Floridian. I have visited some of the "touristy" places that Florida has to offer and I must admit, the ones I enjoy the most are the old roadside attractions.

I have visited Weeki Watchee Springs and watched the Mermaid shows there. Loved it! (See previous blog entry).

Roughly two years ago I visited another old roadside attraction...Gatorama. This roadside attraction has been around for 52 years.

DSIL was in town for a visit. We wanted to do something fun and different while she was here. Gatorama sounded like the perfect thing.

Our visit to Gatorama would coincide with the roadside attraction's Hatching Festival. Excellent!

For $10 (plus the price of admission) you could reserve a spot, when the time came, to help hatch a baby alligator by hand. That had my name all over it.

We had time to tour Gatorama and watch the feedings before the Hatching Festival began. The 15 acre attraction is nestled in a natural Florida setting. There are palm trees and giant oak trees along the water's edge, the 1000 foot covered walkway and the wooden bridge.

Ambling down the walkway and bridge we saw many animals. We saw alligators (naturally), crocodiles, panthers, bobcats, raccoons, peacocks, ducks and geese.

From the bridge we watched as the alligators in the lake were being fed. A man would dangle raw chicken parts, by hand, over the water and huge alligators would almost leap completely out of the water to snap the chicken out of his hand.

It was nearing time to hatch my baby gator and I was beginning to get nervous. Before we could hatch our babies we were given a little tutorial, what to do, what not to do, what to be careful of (like the baby gator's yolk sack that would still be attached to the baby gator, that was what made me most nervous).

I began to doubt my gator "birthing" ability. Then I thought to myself, I've given birth to two babies (without the aid of epidurals), I can do this...I was still was that yolk sack that worried me.

Those of us who paid to participate in the Hatching Festival were asked to approach a kiddie swimming pool filled with peat moss. We were given disposable gloves to wear and once they were donned, we were handed an egg. Que even more nerves.

The egg was a little larger than a chicken's egg and slightly oblong. The shell of the egg felt a little soft and leathery. I could feel the baby gator move inside the egg and hear it make little grunting noises. Baby alligators have an egg tooth on the end of their snouts and they use it to help tear out of the shell. I could see a tiny hole in the egg that was handed to me and my job was to gently tear away some of the shell to make the hole larger so that the baby alligator could emerge. I have nerves with nerves of their own by now. I am edgier hatching my baby gator than I ever was giving birth to my two children.

I start to make the hole larger and I can see the tip of the baby alligator's nose. I keep making the hole larger, slowly, gently. I see a little blood on the shell....

Oh my God, I've killed my baby gator! I was careless and ruptured the yolk sack for sure. I alert the Gatorama people.

"No, Ma'am that's normal, you're doing fine."

I breathe a little easier, but still worry about watching out for the yolk sack.

A few more little tears of the shell and my baby gator slides out of it's shell, into my hand (yolk sack in tact) and into the world.

She was about 8 inches long.

I say "she" because the owner of Gatorama said this clutch of eggs more than likely produced females due to the temperature of the eggs while they were incubating.

A proud new "Hornback" (the name given one who has hatched an alligator).

After the newborn photo op, I said my goodbyes and placed my hatchling in the moss-filled kiddie pool along with the other hatchlings.

Those of us who participated in the hatching were given a scoot and alligator teeth to take home with us. A scoot is a bony plate on an alligator's back.

(If you visit the Gatorama website you will see pictures of me on their Hatching Festival and Photo Gallery links)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010