Quotes I like:

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Kayaking and Camping O'Leno State Park





My friend, Beverly, and I spent this past weekend kayaking and camping around O'Leno State Park. This is located near Gainesville, FL and provides for easy access to the Sante Fe River and its springs and tributaries.

We took the little camper which is very comfy and has all the comforts of home, well except tv, Although Bev brought the dish she was disappointed when no signal was available (too many trees)

We spent a chilly night on Friday but were warm with a space heater. I felt sorry for the people who were tent camping as it got down to 37 degrees that night!  Saturday morning Beverly made pancakes and bacon to feed some of the other kayakers who were on this same trip as they came by to warm up.

I layered on shirts and jackets as we headed out to the river as the morning temps were still only in the 40's.  The trip began by putting the kayaks in at a boat ramp near the top of the Sante Fe river. There were approximately 20 people in our group so this was no small endeavor.  Beverly took her dog Tex, a long hair doxie/papillion mix (you can see him in the photo above).  He is a good kayaker!
The plan was to paddle down the river for approximately 13.5 miles. This was my first time out this year and I think that was a little more than I would have liked, but along we went. Here is a map of our route:


The Sante Fe River is really beautiful but the water level was low due to lack of recent rain.  I got stuck on rocks a few times along the way.  We saw hundreds of turtles sunning themselves on logs.
                                   

There are many spring which feed into the river.  We paddled up into a few of them to check them out.  At Lily Springs, we were warned of a local oddity, "Naked Ed".

Naked Ed owns the land adjacent to Lily Springs and as a protest to development in the area, walks around naked. You can find more on Naked Ed in an on line search, we didn't find him on Saturday.

With such a large kayak group, I found it difficult to keep up with the pack and ended up at the back along with a few others.  The paddling was strenuous and my arms certainly noticed the work out.

We did stop for lunch along the river bank before venturing further and visiting Blue Spring.


As you can see, the water is an amazing clear, blue.  The spring bubbles out of the ground near the dive platform shown above.  It was a bit difficult paddling against the flow up into the spring, but worth the effort to see this beautiful water!  Blue Springs Park is a popular attraction and even on this early March day was fairly well attended by swimmers.  The water in the springs stays at about 72 degrees year round which attracts manatees who come in from the colder waters off the coast to stay warm.  We had recently had a warm spell and so no manatees were around.

Leaving Blue Spring was much easier as we floated down the current back to the river.

On the next leg of the trip we encountered some small rapids.  I easily traversed the first set, but got stuck on some rocks near the second and set and in getting off the rocks managed to get turned around in my kayak and ended up being swept backwards into the rapids.  Luckily it was a small set of water and I was quickly sent through.  I was also glad no one was around to see me do that!

We ended the day around 3:00 and were happy to get off the water and back to camp and hot showers. It had been a long day and we were both tired.  We ate dinner and were in bed around 8.

On Sunday, we headed out again, this time to kayak the Ichetucknee Springs.  This was a more leisurely trip, only a little over 3 miles.  The group was taking a longer route (10 miles) but we decided to take the shorter leg of the trip.  The Ichetucknee is another beautiful spring winding through a low land area bordered by cedar trees, palms and some lovely spider lily:
Here are photos of this trip:







Wednesday, January 27, 2016

America's Favorite Comfort Food


Pepperoni Pizza Slice



I just read an article showing that, according to a Harris Poll, the favorite go-to food for your soul is: Pizza. Won out at the top of the list at 15%.

Now, I like a nice slice as much as anyone, but unfortunately, it gives me heartburn. Like nuclear heartburn. Like a volcano has erupted in my stomach. So, for me, I will forgo the pizza.

The second favorite comfort food eaten by us Americans is chocolate followed by ice cream at 7% each. I personally like chocolate ice cream, so maybe with a combined total of 14%, my favorite is right under pizza.

Mac and cheese came in at fourth place with 5% with chips coming in 5th with 4%. I hear Lays is coming out with yet another new potato chip flavor and it could be mac and cheese, so by combining those two things they could edge up on chocolate ice cream.

Hamburgers and steak both came in with 3% each. But really, what is the difference, aren't they really the same thing in different forms?

The list rounded out with a tie for last place (3%) between popcorn, pasta and Mexican food. Not sure what items encompass "Mexican food".  Are we talking tacos? nachos? Everything else on the list is a specific food.  And what about Chinese food? They didn't even make the list? Seriously, I love Chinese food. In fact, when I feel stressed or depressed, I eat some egg rolls and some chocolate ice cream.  Great combo.

I bet all those poor folks snow bound in their homes are having a hay day on the comfort food. In fact since the giant blizzard arrived just in time for the final play off games to determine who will go to the superbowl,  the pizza delivery places made bonus cash won the lottery type cash.

Um, now I'm hungry, Catch you later.

Monday, January 25, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


 Today I am laced up with happy New Year 2013 typography & some ...


As always, I am behind the times in wishing you a Happy New Year, as most people do so on New Year's Eve or Day.  It takes me a bit longer to traipse into the new year and by now--toward the end of January, I start to feel the new year has truly begun.

Today the outside Christmas lights finally got taken down. (too cold/rainy beforehand);  the garage got cleaned out and re-organized (well somewhat). and things have been made right in my little corner of the world (well mostly).

I always like to use January to get organized for the new year and throw out a bunch of stuff. I tend to be a tosser rather than a saver.  Must come from having moved so much in my life--approximately every 3-4 years.  When you have to move everything you own around, you start to reduce the load.  Of course the moving itself helps you to get rid of things as they get broken, damaged or just plain don't work in the new place.

The days are again growing longer and I love seeing the sun a bit longer each day.  I know that spring will be here soon because in my part of the world it arrives around March.  The days will become warmer and life will be renewed again.

This time of year also seems to find me in a reflective mood.  I guess as you get older, you tend to look backward more than forward on your life.  It surprises me how children have grown up into adults and how friends have gotten so much older looking.  I wonder if I look as old as they do? Probably.

It seems that some of the time life is flying by so fast and at other times I can feel time stretching back like a slinky pulled to its furthest reaches.  Sometimes things in the past seem so long ago and at other times, like only yesterday.    Time is a funny thing, no one can own it.  We can use it, dread it, anticipate it, plan for it, but we cannot own it. We cannot make it move on any schedule other than its own.  It continues to march on, listening to its own drummer, of its own accord.  The only effect we can have on it is how we use it.

Welcome 2016!  I will try to use the time allotted to me in this year as best I can.  It is a diminishing resource at this point in life and so becomes more precious.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Very Crappy Christmas






Well, of all the things you might wish for from jolly old St. Nick, a sewage back up probably wasn't one of them.

I went to visit my daughter and her family for the holidays. The live in the country and have a septic tank rather than being connected to city water and sewer.  I have never fully understood how septic tanks work. I know the basics, things that go down the drains in your house wind up in the septic tank and somehow they work themselves out from there.  It is one of those mysterious things in houses that, when working, require no thought and when not, require panic on my part.

While we were in the midst of enjoying all the usual pre-Christmas preparations including planning our Christmas Eve dinner, my daughter decided to do a load of laundry.  Upon entering the basement, she noticed a lot of water on the floor. Unfortunately, it wasn't just water. There were, um, other things floating around in the water. Ugh. She came upstairs to announce to her husband that there was a problem in the basement and he proceeded to take a look and try to fix it. I have to say that his value in doing this went up quite a bit in my book. I would have taken one look and called for an air strike. He tried to clean up the mess and determine the cause of the problem and decided he needed to clear the line to the septic tank. Not having a plumbing snake, he went to borrow one from family nearby.  Upon his return, snaking of the line commenced, but the problem remained.  In the meantime, we were all told under NO circumstances to use the toilets or to run ANY water whatsoever in the house.  I began to have thoughts of a worse Christmas than when the Grinch visited Whoville.

About 3:00 PM, it was decided that professional help was needed and we made numerous calls to local plumbing contractors. As you might imagine, these companies were all closed for the holidays. While emergency plumbing service might be readily available in a big city, local plumbers in a rural area apparently don't work on holidays.

I was beginning to think that we would have to find hotel rooms for the long weekend and have Chinese food for dinner a la "A Christmas Story". I had visions of Chinese waiters singing FA RA RA RA LA to us while we ate roast duck. I dashed off a quick note to Santa requesting a plumber for Christmas and including a provision that if he could supply one, I'd forgo all other gifts.

Time was dragging on as it only can when its Christmas eve and you have a basement full of raw sewage. Repeated calls to plumbers were becoming fruitless when a true Christmas miracle occurred. One of the plumbers called us back to say he would come out.  I was ready to sing the Hallelujah Chorus about this time and at 7:00 PM our savior appeared to cleared the drain.  We proceeded to cook dinner knowing that we would be able to wash up afterwards and joyfully danced around celebrating the vision of a crap-free future.

It took about an hour and half, but finally the wonderful plumber ascended from the basement announcing that he was finished and all was well in septic tank world.  We would have idolized him and gazed fondly on him pronouncing him a true man among men, but some how his countenance, covered with suspicious brown speckles all over, was a bit tarnished.  My son in law, ever grateful that someone else handled the problem, gladly paid the double time rate charged and in his appreciation gave the plumber a box of chocolates for his troubles on a holiday eve.

Now instead of visions of sugar plums, I had visions of that plumber driving home raiding the box of candy with those brown speckled hands. Ewwww. But he did save Christmas for us and I sent up a little thank you the man upstairs and also the one who drives the sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.

I hope your holiday was truly wonderful and did not involve plumbing disasters of any kind.


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Year I was Very Bad


When my daughter was quite small, before she could read, she and I celebrated a Christmas alone. I was recently separated, we had moved into a new place and I was trying as hard as I could to make a nice holiday for her.  This would be the first Christmas we were ever alone just the two of us.

For weeks prior to Christmas, I had purchased toys and gifts for her and hidden them in the attic of our house in anticipation of Christmas morning.  Being a single mother was a challenge as money was tight, but I had carefully planned how to spend what I could and still get her the special things she wanted that year.

We bought a tree at a local Christmas tree stand and brought it home and decorated it.  On Christmas eve, she carefully hung her stocking up after I assured her that Santa would know how to find her in our new home.  We set out the traditional milk and cookies for Santa along with carrots for his reindeer and I tucked her into bed where I hoped visions of sugarplums would dance in her head.

That evening, once she was sound asleep in bed, I pulled the attic steps down from the ceiling and crept up to retrieve the gifts I had hidden.  Most of that night I spent wrapping presents, tying on ribbons and bows and carefully placing them under the tree.  I think it was about 5:00 am when I finally laid my head down on my pillow to sleep.  Not too much later a very excited little girl awoke me with cries of "Santa's been here!". I pulled my bleary eyed self out of bed and we made our way into the living room to the wondrous sight of a beautifully light tree with brightly colored packages arrayed underneath it.

She quickly set to work pulling package after package out from under the tree.  She had to keep asking me to read the tags to her so she would know who the gifts were for. (Of course they were all for her).  Eventually she exhausted the pile and turned to me with a very odd expression on her face.
Looking strangely at me she declared in a solemn voice:  "Mommy, you must have been awfully bad this year, Santa didn't leave you anything!".  I was thunderstruck when I realized that I had failed to put any gifts under the tree for myself. I guess I thought she wouldn't notice and then I felt terrible as I wondered what awful things she might be thinking I could have done to warrant not receiving any gifts.  I felt as low as George Bailey standing on that bridge.  I managed to cover by suggesting that Santa just forgot me. An already sad Christmas was made even sadder by my small child full of the wonder of the holiday and fear that her mother was, actually, fallible.

There would be many more Christmases, wonderful memories and very happy times to come, but that year was particularly poignant. I have never forgotten that morning and you can bet the next Christmas I remembered to put some gifts under the tree for myself.

Wishing you the joy and wonder of a small child this holiday season! I hope you behaved yourself and that there will be gifts for you from Santa.

The 20%





Whether you are part of the 99% or the 1%, if you were born into the "Boomer" generation, there is a good chance you either are, or soon will, be part of the 20%.  In the next fifteen years, Americans over the age of 65 will reach 20% of the population.  The Boomer Generation is aging a rate of 10,000 people turning 65 every day.

I'm not sure why this is big news. We called well in advance to let everyone know we were coming. Yet when we show up at the door, we are met with surprise and, even disappointment. I have heard constant bellyaching that we are going to bankrupt social security.  I have to wonder how this is considering that I have personally paid about a million dollars of my salary and my employer's share of my salary into the system but have yet to remove one red cent.

Apparently, we are also bankrupting medicare.  Again, having worked for a good long time, I have contributed toward medicare.  And as I previously pointed out, we 'boomers' were not a surprise. Heck we've been creating havoc since the end of World War II.  By now I would expect that the so called experts employed by the government could do some fairly simple math to figure out how much needed to be set aside to allow the wave of boomers to collect their social security, which they and I PAID into.

I wonder what the next complaint about the boomer generation will be? I can only imagine a headline like:

       "Elderly population dying at an increased rate-shortage of caskets and cemetery plots".