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!

Snake Eyes

I never met a snake I couldn’t hate. Venomous, non-venomous, short, long, infant, adult, it doesn’t matter. They give me the willies. If I can see one well in advance of initial contact I can handle a snake’s presence, but the thing about snakes is they tend to lurk, hidden among the leaves and undergrowth, offering apples to unsuspecting naked people.

Tallahassee, Florida, is basically a hilly jungle. We have oak trees, magnolias, mimosas, pines, sweet gums, palms, and a host of other trees all, apparently, on steroids. In addition we have millions of shrubs and bushes and flowers. A profusion of plant life populates this part of the Florida panhandle. It’s beautiful. And it’s home to five different kinds of venomous snakes: the Pygmy Rattler, the Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin, the Timber Rattlesnake, the Coral Snake, and the Copperhead. These snakes love to hide under fallen leaves. Guess what? Lots of trees mean lots of leaves.

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Above: water moccasin

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Coral snake

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Pygmy rattler

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Copperhead

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Timber rattlesnake

Recently due to an increase in snake bites among the local populace, the “Tallahassee Democrat” ran an informative piece on the venomous snakes in our area. How kind of them. Since then I have barely stepped foot into our forested backyard. Every single snake named in the article enjoys hanging out in fallen leaves. I look out my back door and all I see are trees surrounded by fallen leaves. When I do go out I have this ritual dance. It’s part flamenco, part ninja, part karate. Think John Belushi in “Animal House.”

They tell me cats are good snake repellant. I have two, but they don’t want to go outside either and I’m not sure how much good they are doing as mere spectators.

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A while back I wrote about super powers I’d like to have. I need to add one: Super Snake Dominance and Avoidance. This power would instantly cause all venomous snakes within 5 miles of me to be rendered inanimate and harmless. Indefinitely. I’ll give the non-venomous ones a break as long as they do their living outside of my direct line of sight. They just need to heed my ritual dance.

Peace, People!