Monsters Inc, Alachua

Based on predictions that tropical storm Nestor would bring buckets of rain and high winds to the Tallahassee area on Saturday, Studly’s golf course closed for the day. I envisioned a lazy afternoon of watching college football while snuggling on the sofa with him and the cats. Studly, on the other hand, envisioned driving to Gainesville, FL, to look at, and perhaps purchase a motorcycle. At least he invited me along for the ride.

When we left Tallahassee´┐╝´┐╝ the skies were threatening.

The winds hadn’t begun blowing yet, but I certainly questioned Studly’s sanity in his decision to travel so far from Doright Manor and into the belly of a storm.

“Relax,” he told me. “It’s not going to hit until this afternoon.”

As it happened, he was right. What’s that old saying about even a broken clock having the correct time twice a day? I think that applies here.

Gainesville is about a two and a half hour drive south and East from our home, and thanks to gps we easily found the place where the motorcycle was being stored. Within a few minutes the bike was loaded into the back of our pickup truck, and we were headed home.

We were both ready for some lunch, and while Gainesville has hundreds of restaurants we opted to drive north to Alachua. I’d never been there, but Studly promised that the little town had a terrific Main Street with several good cafes. He was right again! I’m going to have to start reconsidering that broken clock analogy.

We ate at Conestogas Restaurant where everything seems to be fried, and vegan options were practically nonexistent.

I had a baked potato stuffed with bell peppers and grilled onions, along with a salad, while Studly enjoyed a chicken fried steak with gravy. Obviously he wasn’t concerned about the lack of vegan fare.

After lunch we walked along the street, and inspected the town’s Halloween decorations. It didn’t take us long to discern this year’s theme:

On nearly every corner we encountered characters from Monsters, Inc. If there’s a contest for best design, I vote for the one directly above. The door clinched it for me. Studly, who’s never seen Monsters, Inc., wondered aloud why the door was part of the display.

“The door doesn’t seem all that scary to me,” he observed.

Of course I had to fill him in on the importance of collecting screams and the implications of having a human child follow one of the monsters back through a door.

Still he asked, “Couldn’t they at least have painted the door orange and black and put spiderwebs or something on it instead of flowers? That would be scary.”

“But that’s not how the door looked in the movie,” I said.

“Their mistake.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m conversing with a tall toddler.

There were a few non-Monster, Inc. themed decorations, as well:

Perhaps those in charge of decorating these storefronts had never seen Monsters, Inc. either.

After our walk we continued the drive home, encountering heavy rain just as we neared Tallahassee. We’ve needed the moisture, so tropical storm Nestor did our area a favor. Studly and I spent the evening watching college football and snuggling, so I got what I wanted out of the day, as well. That’s a win-win, right?

Peace, people.

Politics and Funerals

On Sunday Studly Doright and I drove south for about three hours to attend a Celebration of Life service for a man I’d never met, and who Studly only knew superficially through business contacts. We went more to support friends who’d known the man well than for any other reason.

The service was held at Silver Springs State Park near Ocala. I’d visited the park a decade or more ago and it’s lovelier than I remembered. When we entered the park a family member of the deceased directed us down a winding path to a rustic pagoda with raised seating and a view of cypress trees rising out of the swamp. The October sun filtering through the surrounding foliage created the most perfect spot on earth that day. We found our friends and sat together as the service began.

From the photos around the pagoda one quickly surmised that the man being honored had been rather remarkable. There were photos of him at the summits of several major peaks including the Matterhorn. He’d also been a deep sea diver and an astronomer. I wished I’d had the opportunity to have met him.

Then one of the pastors officiating the service spoke about the deceased saying he’d disliked Democrats and hated lawyers, and that if the man could speak from the grave he’d tell us to never vote for a Democrat. A smattering of laughter accompanied by a few groans resulted from his statement. I looked at Studly and he put his hand on my arm, most likely to keep me from saying something I’d regret. I’m no idiot, but I must say words bubbled in my mind.

The second pastor then went on to tell us how the deceased had loved the environment and sought God in all the faces of nature. But he’d hated Democrats and lawyers. Now, I’d say the dearly departed thought he was looking for God, but quite honestly never really cared about the meaning of God.

Listen, when I die, I don’t want any mention of politics. Such talk doesn’t belong at a funeral. I wouldn’t mind being eulogized in the sacred forest of Silver Springs State Park, though. Surely the trees will cleanse the air of any negativity.

Peace, people

Day Tripping

Studly Doright took Friday off work, and we drove to Destin, Fl, to hang out with his sister, and her husband from Texas, and friends of theirs who are vacationing in Destin with them. While the men played golf we ladies went to see Downton Abbey. Here’s where I admit that I’d only seen an episode or two of the television series before yesterday. Shameful, I know, but I enjoyed the film. The costumes and sets alone were worth watching for two hours.

From left, Angie, me, Michelle, and Lori, waiting for the movie to begin. I’m secretly wondering if there will be light sabers used in the film. Spoiler alert: Nope.

We shopped for a bit after the movie, but I didn’t buy a thing. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of this little guy playing with the water at a splash pad in the shopping center’s courtyard.

After the guys finished their round of golf, we met them at Margaritaville for dinner. I took these photos from the dining area while we waited for our meals to be served.

We drove the two hours home after dinner and went straight to bed. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Great day, though. I might have dreamt in a British accent.

Peace, people!

Snake It Off

Since my close encounter with a cottonmouth snake (below) I’ve been hyper aware of anything serpent related.

News stories about invasive snake species in south Florida interest me:

https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2019/04/13/florida-invasive-animal-species-wrecking-native-ecosystems-non-native/3456294002/

And I look for opportunities to learn more about snakes just in case there’s a next time.

This past weekend the Tallahassee Museum held an informative session for folks like me. Well, mainly for folks 12 and younger, but I didn’t let that stop me.

I listened earnestly and watched carefully. The most important thing I learned was to let snakes be. Leave them alone. Give them space. Don’t crowd them. If it’s a snake like my cottonmouth (aka water moccasin), don’t get between it and a body of water. Even if you’re positive the snake isn’t venomous, don’t pick it up. Non-venomous snakes can have nasty bites that might takes months to heal.

If you’re bitten by a snake, stay calm. Try to snap a photo of it for identification purposes and then get to an emergency room. Don’t apply a tourniquet! That just exacerbates the injury.

Most of this wasn’t new information to me, but it never hurts to have a reminder. And, oh, the snakes were cool.

Look at these Banded Water Snakes

Note that the one on the right is digesting a big meal.

That’s an Eastern Indigo Snake above. These guys are endangered and non-venomous. I’m fairly certain that this is the type of snake we have living in our front garden area. Sure glad I saved him from the guys repairing our driveway!

Watch this guy, an Eastern Diamondback, who seemed as interested in us as we were in him.

This pretty guy below is a Gray Rat Snake. These are non-venomous and fairly common. They blend in perfectly with the bark of oak trees, so there’s no telling how many I pass right by every day.

So, I’m still no snake expert, but I did know the answer to one of the instructor’s questions when none of the other kids, I mean, participants did. She said that some snakes move in a concertina style and asked if anyone knew what a concertina was.

I played it cool,

But soon it was obvious no one else knew the answer, so it fell to me.

I didn’t get a gold star or anything, but that’s okay. Just knowing I was right was reward enough.

Peace, people!

Now This Storm

All the night things were fooled by the glowering skies. In the hushed anticipation,

Frogs began their nightly chorus as crickets laid down a steady beat, echoing into

this false dusk, punctuated suddenly by stabs of frantic lightning, bombarded by the

rolling of a timpani, mallets on skin, presaging the arrival of a downpour, the

outpouring, the deluge. We hunker down, my cats and I, after a sharp crackle and

concussive reverberation. Too close for comfort. The lake creatures have gone mute,

given up on their futile choruses, now that the storm has come.

We had a lightning strike a couple of minutes ago that might have topped anything I’ve ever experienced. It was close, the thunder immediate, and my heart is racing. Wish I’d still had the camera going, but the audio would have needed censoring.

See that bare spot on my lawn? That’s still fallout from last year’s Hurricane Michael. And we’ve got a potential hurricane heading this way as I write this. I’m not ready for another storm season.

Peace, people.

Snapshot #245

I’m calling this one, Fox, no Henhouse.

This little lady padded across my backyard yesterday morning. I tried to get a better shot, but this is it folks. My cats weren’t impressed, but they did watch her closely to make sure she didn’t try to steal anything belonging to them. I do love living in a forest.

Peace, people!

Storm Approaches; Storm Recedes, and a Turtle Trudges On

The leading edge would

Have us jumping at each flash

Of tensile lightning

Flinching at thunder

Cowering ‘neath the covers

Yearning for a pause

Rumbles grow distant

Downpour tapers to sprinkles

This storm fades away

(Found all the photos on Pinterest)

I’m always fascinated by the flow and rhythm of a storm–The light and sound parade that precedes the rainfall, the tapering off of rain followed by an encore of the opening chorus. I get chills when I get to be a witness to the greatest concert on earth.

During an intermission of the storm I’m watching a small turtle make its way across my yard.

Looks like he/she has an appointment.

Peace, people

Lessons Learned from a Snake

I do not hate snakes. That being said, I’d just as soon not encounter a venomous one in close proximity to my home, as I did one day last week.

The night following the encounter that cottonmouth occupied my dreams every time I closed my eyes to sleep. In my waking hours I mentally retraced the steps I took prior to noticing his presence next to the garage and realized I’d likely come within inches of stepping on him. It was a sobering thought.

I’ve changed some of my habits after my snake experience, and I thought the lessons learned might be worth sharing. If nothing else, they’ll help me solidify what I gained from the experience.

  1. Don’t walk and read simultaneously. The mail can wait to be sorted once you’re in the house. What a sad tale it might’ve been if I’d stepped on a viper while perusing a Talbots mailer.
  2. Not all bad guys give a warning. If my snake friend had been a rattlesnake, chances are I’d have been warned off from the start. This guy lay silently, coiled and waiting for some clueless broad walking and reading a Talbots catalog to blunder into its sharp fangs.
  3. Scan your surroundings. There’s a mnemonic acronym motorcyclists use to help avoid accidents–SIPDE. That stands for Scan (keep your eyes moving), Identify (note possible hazards), Predict (make an educated guess as to what the hazard might do), Decide (plan a course of action), and Execute (make it happen).
  4. Please note that we Executed the snake. That’ll teach him.
  5. Don’t trust your eyes, but scan anyway. He was camouflaged fairly well in his driveway matching color coordinated way. Look twice, then look again.
  6. Always carry a bazooka. (Note to self: buy a bazooka.)
  7. Don’t assume a snake is asleep just because it doesn’t respond to outside stimuli. It’s probably playing possum in hopes that you’ll be lulled into complacency. Or that you’re admiring a skirt in a fashion catalog.

I’m sure there are other lessons to be gained from my interaction with the snake, but thinking about it too much gives me the heebie jeebies.

Peace, people.

(I found the photo directly above on twitter in order to show off the cottonmouth’s cotton mouth.)