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!

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.)

Snapshot #241

For some reason today’s post magically disappeared from my WordPress site. Thank goodness two of my blogging friends had already liked it, so I could copy from my notifications.

Be sure to click on the link for the story–I kind of had nightmares last night.

https://nananoyz5forme.com/2019/06/14/snapshot-241/

Is 62 Too Old for Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights? Asking for a Friend

For Mother’s Day, or our anniversary, or some other holiday Studly Doright bought us tickets for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando. He knew that would thrill me more than just about anything else. Even at 62 I still enjoy such foolishness, and I hope to enjoy it for many years to come.

Tonight (Friday) will be our fourth trip to HHN, and each time has been a hoot. Think of the scariest, most elaborate haunted house you’ve ever experienced, multiply it by ten and add another 50 on top of that, and you’ll get an idea of how incredible Halloween Horror Nights is. The makeup, the costumes, the vignettes–all are based on movies or television shows and are incredibly realistic and spooky as hell.

Tough guy Studly gets every bit as scared as I do. And if there are fake snakes involved, he really freaks out, and I get to be his protector.

Hopefully I’ll have some photos for the blog tomorrow. If we survive, that is.

Peace, people.

Wakulla Swim

On Tuesday morning I took our granddaughter, Dominique, and her friend, Sophia, to Wakulla Springs. Sophia had never seen an alligator outside of a zoo setting, so we had high hopes for a sighting.

When we first arrived at Edward Ball State Park rain was falling, and tickets for the boat ride weren’t being sold yet due to the possibility of lightning down the river. The girls donned their hoodies so we could go exploring.

That’s the diving platform above.

The small blue markers strung across the river are the only demarcation between swimming territory and all manner of wildlife including gators, manatees, and snakes. According to the park rangers the only real thing keeping wildlife out of the swimming area is the presence of people.

Occasionally an alligator will cross the line and have to be removed. While the girls were swimming I watched two other swimmers each pull a snake from the water. They assured me that these snakes weren’t venomous, but eeek!

Around noon we were cleared for the boat tour. The rains had cooled everything off, so while we saw a good many gators, they were all in the water.

And I managed to fail at getting a photo of anything other than my fellow passengers, trees, and swampy water.

After lunch the two Texas girls swam in the Florida sunshine for over an hour.

Meanwhile I reclined on my brightly colored blanket and read.

The girls slept all the way back to Doright Manor, while I sang along to the 60’s channel on Sirius/XM. Now, I need a nap!

Peace, people.

My Morning View

Our little piece of the lake behind Doright Manor is my happy place. From my favorite spot on the sofa I watch the day unfold.

If you look closely you can see one of two fairy houses in the bottom right hand corner. The fairies are stealthy, though, and we only get glimpses of their daily activities.

Occasionally a snowy egret sweeps low over the lake. A pair has nested here every year since we moved in, and most likely long before that.

We haven’t spotted an alligator yet this year, but I’m always watching for the telltale bubbles.

Fish jump, turtles perch on logs, and frogs, who are quiet right now, have a concert scheduled tonight and every night this summer.

Lizards provide entertainment for my cats. They climb the window screens, secure in the knowledge that their furry nemeses are stuck inside on this late spring morning.

Oh, let’s not forget the snakes. We’ve seen a few this year, but the birds and the squirrels give us warning. I click to the squirrels and whistle to the birds.

Who’d have ever thought a girl who grew up in the dry, dusty Texas panhandle would ever get to live in such a place? Certainly not me. It’s heaven.

Peace, people.

Take That, Emily!

I went out to fetch our mail last Thursday afternoon enjoying the brief walk up our driveway. We had one catalog and a bit of junk mail in the mailbox. No bills were in the mix, and that’s always a good thing. 

The melodies of dozens of birds mingled on the breeze, and I spoke to a squirrel. They seldom speak back, yet I never give up hope. 

As I headed back to the house I noted a curious clicking noise, perhaps one squirrel scolding another. Instead of going in through our garage I walked around the back of the house, hoping to surprise whatever critter was click clicking. 

The instant I turned the corner I realized what was going on. A big, fat black snake slid away from me, and the birds had been warning one another. I should learn to speak Bird.

For the first time in my life I did not jump or squeal at the sight of the snake. Shouldn’t there be a medal for such an impressive show of bravery? Or at least a round of applause. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Oddly enough I’d had Emily Dickinson’s poem, Snake on my mind this morning, so I snapped a photo of it from the website online-literature.com.

  
I will never be Ms. Dickinson’s equal in the art of poetry, but I calmly faced a snake. Take that, Emily!

The visitor looked much like this guy.  I believe he is a Black Pine snake. Handsome, isn’t he? And quite polite. 
Peace, people!

Things That Make You Go “Ewww!”

I ran over a snake this morning.
Ewwwwwwww!
It made me think about other things that bring an ewwwwww to my lips and face and mind:

Things That Make Me Say “Ew!”
(To the tune of My Favorite Things)

Spiders in thick webs and
Baby poop in diapers,
Roaches in corners and
Squished bugs under wipers
Moldy foods in Tupperware
And stinky gym shoes
These are the things that
Can make me say ewwww!

Snakes underneath tires
And hair in my salads
Stepping in dog poo
and John Tesch’s ballads
Splattering sneezes with
Snot infused goo
These are the things that
Can make me say ewwwww!

When the kid pukes
When the farts smell
And I hold my nose
I simply reflect on these
Grossest of things and
All I can say is Ewwwwww!

  
Peace, people!

Nekkid and Skeert

Picture this: A man and a woman, strangers to one another, agree to try to survive in a harsh environment for a period of 21 days. Naked. While being captured on film. 

This is an actual television series in the U.S. 

occasionally participants construct crude clothing; other times they just get blurry in their privates. It’s a disease, I think.

Each participant is allowed to bring one tool or accessory to facilitate their survival. I’d bring a gun to kill the huge snakes in the dark jungle. So far no one’s done that. Perhaps guns are against the rules, or perhaps bullets would count as a second tool.

Typically each couple experiences extreme dehydration, epic weight loss due to starvation, and emotional angst at being naked with a stranger. 

Ok, I made that last part up, but I imagine my attempt at being on Naked and Afraid might go something like this:

Nekkid and Skeert

Stranger Joe: So, what tool did you bring?

Me: A book.

Joe: A book! That’s not a tool!

Me: (Whacks Joe upside the head with my book) Oh really?

Joe: Ok! I guess you made your point. I brought an axe. 

Me: I guess that’ll work. Just don’t ask to use my book. Guess we need to dispense with our clothes. You first.

Joe: (strips) Your turn.

Me: (strips)

Joe: Ha! Ha! Oh my gosh! Can’t Unsee THAT!!! (Drops axe on foot; loses two toes)

Medical crew steps in and takes Joe to the nearest emergency room.

I wander in the wilderness for 21 days, reading my book and munching on berries, occasionally fending off snakes and lizards. In the process I lose 22 lbs. and find my inner goddess.

Peace, people!