I’d Really Rather Not See It, If You Don’t Mind

BurmesePython1

[Source:Wikipedia]

As I grow older and wiser (?), the number of situations I do not wish to take part in, is growing.  For example, I’d rather avoid any conversation with global warming deniers, Holocaust deniers, evolution deniers and anyone, man or woman, who believe it’s the will of God to kill innocent people.

In addition, I do not want to be in a situation in which I just knocked over seventeen Harley’s with my Ford Escape outside a biker bar in Bakersfield, California, admit I admire Martin Luther King, Jr., at a KKK rally or wear fur at a PETA convention.  I don’t want to confront any of the extras in the cast of a typical episode of The Walking Dead or sit across a table from a guy named Charlie who happens to have a swastika carved into his forehead.

Now, having said all this at the top of this blog, I am going to go further and admit (here in front of my readers) that I did not take any of the photos that are used in this post.  I do not want to take any such photos.  I don’t even want to be around the general area when someone is taking such photos.  I don’t really like looking at such photographs.  But, since I’m presently about nine miles from one of the main entrances of the Everglades National Park, I feel the need to write this blog and inform people of a situation they might not be aware of (they may have been living in Lapland for the last thirty years).

I’m talking about the Attack of the Burmese Pythons in southern Florida.

It seems that back in the 1980’s (give or take) some person bought an exotic pet from an exotic pet store.  They purchased a Burmese Python.  Imagine their surprise when said pet got big and unruly?  So, what to do?  Simple.

“Let’s drive down to the Everglades, honey, and let the poor thing loose in a habitat its familiar with.”

“Oh, good idea, sweetie.  I can get my nails done in Homestead while you drive out toward Flamingo.”

“Load Buffy the Snake into our SUV, honey.  We’re off!”

Well, it doesn’t take a Stephen Hawking to understand how this situation ended up.  The number of these alien species has been estimated to be somewhere between 30,000 and 300,000 Burmese Pythons that are slithering around the wetlands of the ‘glades.

BurmesePythonRangeMap

[Source: Google search. See the green dots? I was there!]

The situation is almost comical, except for the fact that these pythons are causing the rapid decline of native animals…they like to eat stuff.  They have been known to eat deer.  They have been known to attempt to swallow alligators.

The Fish and Game people have begun to hold competitions to get bounty-hunters to catch the snakes.  But, a few years ago, with about 1,200 snake seekers sloshing through the saw grass, they only came out with 68 snakes!  These pythons know how to live lives that are very private.  They are very hard to locate.

GuysHoldingSnake

[Source: Wikipedia]

I could go on, but I’ve written enough to give me really bad dreams tonight.

I am sleeping tonight (our last night in the Everglades region) on the 5th floor of the Homestead Marriott Courtyard.  I am hopeful that even these clever reptiles won’t find it tempting to locate me and slither into my room.  Nevertheless, I’m not opening the window tonight.

Like I said at the start of this post, there are some things I just don’t want to see.

Lastly, I have nothing at all against the people or culture of Lapland.  After all, they herd reindeer there.  How bad can that be?  Especially at this time of year?

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The Tree Of Death

 

SONY DSC

SONY DSC [Source: Wikipedia]

The little apple of death hangs from the branches of the tree of death.

On a hot July day in 1521, Ponce de Leon, his body ravaged by agony, rolled his eyes toward heaven and, most likely, screamed his way into the hands of his God.  The man who searched for the Fountain of Youth in Florida,  found the Well of Death in Havana, Cuba.

He had battled the Calusa indians near the Calossahatchee River, not far from present day Fort Myers.  An arrow struck him in the thigh.  Normally, a soldier would survive such a wound–and he did, the wound was not the cause of his death.  It was a coating of sap on the arrowhead, the essence of the manchineel tree that killed him.

It could not have been a peaceful or graceful death.

After the battle, his army took him to Havana where he succumbed to the poison.

The Spanish called the tree the Arbol de la muerte, the tree of death.

The manchineel tree (Hippomane manchinella) is (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) the most dangerous tree on the planet.  To stand under it in the rain will cause your flesh to blister and fester.  If you stand in the smoke of a burning manchineel, you will likely go blind.  If you ate the little apple-like fruit from the tree, you would most likely die a painful death caused by your stomach lining being dissolved, like a salt crystal in warm water.

The indians of Meso-America, who knew of the trees potency, would sometimes tie their enemies to the trunk–ensuring an agonizing demise.

The toxins of the tree are complicated and hard to pronounce, but are spectacularly effective.

I sat on a tour boat in the Buttonwood Canal in the Everglades National Park and snapped a photo of the tree not twenty feet from where I stood.  To even brush against the leaves will cause a painful eruption of fistulas.  From the description of the effects, I thought that this tree would make poison ivy seem like a mosquito bite.

Manchinell Tree

[The Manchineel Tree]

For over ninety minutes, I heard about alligators, crocodiles, water moccasins, rattle-snakes, coral snakes and vultures.  This is a landscape of death–these Everglades.

But hearing about the dangers that lurked and slithered around the roots of the mangrove trees, I still found profound beauty and nature in its most elemental form.  I only regretted that the Everglades were so plundered, assaulted and raped by the developers and agribusinesses that only a fraction of the original ‘glades exist today.

Objects of beauty often come with lethal attachments.

Buttonwood Canal

[The Buttonwood Canal]

 

After Dinner/Up In The Sky

JetTrail

When we were kids we called them vaportrails.   Now, I call them contrails.  Those streaks across the sky made from the jet engines of jet planes.  Either term is okay.  It’s simply the condensation of the water from the exhaust of the plane, turning into visible water vapor.

It wouldn’t be incorrect to say they are true clouds.  Water vapor that is normally invisible, now is seen as a white trail.

When we were kids, the contrails were not seen as often as they are today.  In the late ’50’s, there wasn’t that many flights in the sky at any one time.  Now, they often obscure the “real” natural clouds.  Near cities, the streaks, linear and white, criss-cross the sky like a spider web.  When I lived in Manhattan, I would look up and wonder how so many planes could avoid each other when you consider that there are three major airports nearby…Newark, La Guardia and JFK.

I remember in the days following Sept. 11, 2001, the airspace over Manhattan was closed.  I stood in Central Park and saw a sky that is rarely seen…totally absent of those contrails…the only exception was the F-16’s that circled the island.

Now, I look up from Fort Myers in Florida and see a flight heading due west.  It’s too high to have taken off from the Miami airport.  Where did it originate?  Europe?  Africa?  Where was it destined to land?  The west coast?  Dallas?  Atlanta?

Who sat in the seats and drank the free wine in 1st Class?  Who was watching a movie with earphones?  Who was playing Scrabble on their iPad?  Who was listening, with expensive JVC headphones to “Christmas of the Heart” by Bob Dylan?

“How’d you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?”

Who was trying to sleep while a baby cried?  Who was crying inside their hearts because they were missing someone already?  Who were the anxious ones that fidgeted in their narrow Economy seats until they landed and were in the arms of someone they loved?

Who was heading home for Thanksgiving?  Who were confused about where they were going, on this afternoon?  Who was trying to figure out their place in life?

Who was happy?  Who was sad?

Who was thankful for what they had in life?  Who was thankful for life?

I hope everyone who reads this knows how fortunate they are.  If you are prone to the holiday blues, remember, a new year is coming…

 

A Stroll On Estero: Encountering Sand Sculptures One Grain At A Time

Sand2

We decided that we would give Sanibel Island a rest for a day.  Besides, we’d save $6.00 for not taking the Causeway Bridge.  No, it was time we crossed another bridge (free) from Fort Myers to Fort Myers Beach.  When we did, we found ourselves in another world.  This wasn’t Wal-Mart country.  This was the Gulf Coast version of Wildwood, New Jersey.  The young and the restless were here–strolling along the boulevard and taking up a blanket size spot on a very large beach.  We drove slowly.  We had to because of the frequent pedestrian crossings and road construction barriers.

If I wanted a burger of any kind or price, this was the place.  If I wanted a Marguerita, this was ground zero.  I was amazed at the number of open-air bars and vacation rentals.

I noticed that the Periwinkle Motel had hourly rates.  I wondered why someone would want to do that.  Aren’t motels for sleeping and resting from the rigors of long road trips?  I’m still thinking about this…

Slowly I drove, inch by inch, yard by yard.  This place was the stuff of my beach dreams that I forged in life.  Then we saw the sign: Sand Sculpture Competition,  we simply had to check this out.  It didn’t come as a total surprise to me that this event was happening.  I had seen a brief article about it in the local newspaper, the one I read while I enjoy my iced coffee at the Java Cafe in the Outlet Mall.

When I was a child, we used to go family camping in the Adirondacks of New York State.  Some summers we would spend a week or two at Golden Beach State Campground on Raquette Lake.  Now, I’m no stranger to building sand castles.  I did it all the time.  What kind of competition could this be, here in Florida?  How hard can it be?  All I ever needed was a Tupperware container, a little bucket and a Dixie cup.  I could build Camelot, Buckingham Palace or the Kremlin with those simple childs tools.

After no small amount of difficulty, we found a parking place.  It was at the Wyndham Hotel.  They sponsored the contest and it was their sand that was going to be used in making the little castles.  (It would require us to patronize the hotel bar after the beach, but we could manage that.)

As we approached the entry gate, a woman who was heading to the parking lot slipped Mariam a paper-like bracelet and said: “Here, save yourself $5.00.”  We accepted the freebie from her.  I decided I would struggle with the ethics and morality of this later.  I tried to calculate the number of years in Purgatory I would get for stiffing the Competition for five bucks.  Mariam doesn’t believe in Purgatory, so this whole thing would fall on me.

Later, I thought.  I’ll deal with this later.  I paid $5.00 for my bracelet and entered through the little tent-like entrance.

It had rained heavily during the night and there were large wet patches and pools in the sand.  I was a little put off by this.  I didn’t come to the beach to get my feet wet!  Then, I looked around me.  Wait a minute.  These weren’t sand castles at all.  This was the stuff of high art and imaginative skill that made my head spin.  I worried about the warnings I was getting on my iPhone about the approaching limit to my storage.  I wanted to take a hundred pictures.  Not that there were a hundred sculptures here, but I wanted to capture the objects on all sides.

And, here is where my brain began to overload.  I’ve taken a few art classes when I lived in New York City, but it was all 2-D, like water colors and chalk sketching.  This stuff was all 3-D and it was astounding.

Sand1

I didn’t know what to photograph.  I was split between worrying about my iPhone storage and how they got the sand to stay put.  Everything I built on beaches as a child always collapsed.  Yet, these figures defied gravity.

Sand3

Walking through this display was both amazing and enjoyable.  At the same time, I thought about when the day would come when rain or wind or people would cause these pieces of art to crumble–and turn into a beach again.  What is the lifetime of a sand figure?  I didn’t know, but I did know it was finite.

Someday, I might walk along the beach behind the Wyndham Hotel and find no trace of the dragon or the faces.

CastleArch

I stood looking at one that depicted a man being drawn into a gear wheel.  He seemed to be clutching a mound of something that was labelled SAND.

GearsInSand

For some reason, I felt connected to him.  I think I understand what the artist was trying to say.  That’s more than I can do with a canvas by Picasso.

We drove back along Estero Boulevard.  We passed the bars and burger shacks.  There were a few tattoo parlors.  I made a mental note about the location of one.  I think I’ll come back here and get a Henna tat.  After all, it washes away in a few weeks.

It’s not like it’s permanent or anything.

[Photo credits are mine. Also, the Periwinkle Motel does not have hourly rates.  I don’t want that on my conscience too.]

The Albatross And The Vulture

Albatross

What’s it like to float upon misty air?

Way up there upon winds of turbulence,

where your wings tame them, 

as a cowboy does the wild Stallion.

–Dara Reidyr from “On Flying

Four hours ago, I was finishing my iced coffee at the Java Cafe in the Outlet Mall.  Even with the AC, the plastic cup was dripping on the article in the local Fort Myers newspaper.  I was totally absorbed in a breaking story about an 18-year old guy who was arrested for roughing up his girl friend because she refused to go out and buy him some “clean” urine.  He was on probation and he apparently needed to pass a random drug test.  The water drops from my coffee obliterated some of the story, but not the part where he pushed her head and then threw bananas and a metal comb at her.  More wet newsprint.  Then the story ended with his breaking down in the kitchen, crying, and grabbing a carving knife, threatened to kill himself.  It seems that a friend captured the whole thing on a cell phone.

It’s good to have friends.

Now, I was in the pool at the RV Resort where we are staying.  I was leaning back with my head against the rim.  I was intent on getting some exercise one way or another, and since its way too hot to go bicycling, the decision to go to the pool wasn’t hard.  I was doing a peddling motion with my legs and practicing the scissors kick.  Nearby, at the shallow end, there were a dozen seniors doing water exercises.  A woman’s voice was telling them what to do.

“Now, turn around and lift your left leg–that’s right, just like that.”

“Okay, now run in place–do the best you can.”

I looked at each person in the group trying to identify the speaker with the tiny headset microphone.  I couldn’t find her.  She seemed to be joking with someone in the group.  I looked again and still couldn’t find her.  Then I spotted a cable from an outlet.  It led to a small boom-box that was placed on a pool chair.  Everyone was listening to a tape.  But, how could she banter with the group?

I was puzzling over this when I looked directly across the water and noticed that a man was staring at me.  He had on sunglasses, so I couldn’t be sure it was me he was watching.  He looked exactly like Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC.  Same hat.  Same white goatee.  I would have bet my last fiver that it was the Colonel himself.  I didn’t place any bet– there was no one to place it with and besides I remember that Colonel Harland D. Sanders died of leukemia in 1980.

The clouds were slowly thickening.  The forecast called for late afternoon showers.

I looked up.  There, in the pale blue of the sky was a soaring bird.  I looked at its wings.  It wasn’t an eagle–it was a turkey vulture.   Both are built for soaring.  Both are symbols–metaphors to us.  So is the Albatross.TurkeyVulture

I looked over at the seniors who were busy treading water and then back to the turkey vulture, making slow circles above my head.

You do not want to know what goes through my head at times like these.

I’ve always found the Albatross very interesting and enigmatic.  I’ve never seen one in the wild but from photos, they have an outstanding appearance.  But, the poor bird is cursed by being a symbol of  “a burden”.

“Oh, he has to carry that Albatross around his neck–too bad for him”.

We have Samuel Taylor Coleridge to thank for that.  One of my favorite poems is “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.  In case you don’t remember your 10th grade English class, a sailor shoots an arrow into the sky and kills an Albatross.  This brings really bad luck to him and his crew.  He is condemned to carrying the dead bird around his neck while the voyage of his ship wanders the seas.

DoreArrowAlbatross

He is the ancient mariner who stoppeth one of three…

Sometimes, I feel like I am like the pitiful sailor–condemned forever to carry the wrongs and sins of my youth around my neck.  It can depress a recovered good Catholic altar boy like me.

AncientMariner

However, there are many times in my life that I’ve felt more like the Albatross and not the archer/sailor who killed without thinking.  These great birds (some with a wing span of twelve feet) are designed to soar–to ride the thermals–for unbelievable lengths of time.  Some say that these birds can go weeks (or longer) without landing.  They eat by swooping and catching the unfortunate fish who came too close to the surface.  They don’t need much food because they don’t expend much energy.  Their wings are engineered by nature to lock in place.  When you watch a skein of migrating geese, they flap their way from horizon to horizon.  The Albatross hardly ever uses its wings, except to stay aloft.

It has also been said that they only land to rest briefly, on a calm portion of ocean.  And, more importantly, they need to alight on a solid surface to find a mate and procreate.  The Albatross generally mates for life.

But, to soar above it all–only coming to the ground when necessary–seems like an amazing way to spend a life.  I feel the need to wander, sometimes far from home (like Florida), but I’m held by gravity to the surface of the earth.  Yes, I can take American Airlines to Puerto Rico, if I choose, but you get my point.

To soar above the aches and pains and heartbreak of life–to dream with your eyes open–of faraway lands and people who fill this world.  To soar and day-dream about the minute life below me and the sky, so blue and intense, above me, is enviable.  I would make an extra circle high above that red-haired woman who is crying on the empty beach.  I would make two extra circles around the Eiffel Tower and hear the cries of the Parisians.  I would soar above the lonely man, broken by war, meandering a boardwalk and thinking of ending his life.

But, I would make sure that I soared low enough so that the dim eyes of an old person could see me.  I would soar slow enough so the children, playing in the fields, would stop and point at me.

All this I would do, If I had the wings of an Albatross.  I wonder if that is what death is like–we can soar around the heads of the loved ones left behind?

All this I would do, even knowing that I would never be totally unencumbered and without the dreams that live in the living.

Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?

–Bob Dylan

[Images: Google search]

Holiday Time In Fort Myers/Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan?*

“I don’t know Doc, I just seem a little disoriented lately.  Maybe it’s the time of year?  Maybe I should stay away from the egg nog…”

–Notation in the files of Dr. Hugh Roebottom, Psychiatrist, on the recent session with Patrick Egan.

wreath

It’s a pretty Christmas wreath.  I’m looking a one of the prettiest plastic Christmas wreaths I’ve ever seen.  I snap a photo of it to include in my “How I Spent The Winter” slideshow on my website.  There is an iced coffee in my free hand.  The condensation from the plastic cup of iced coffee has covered my iPhone with drops of water.  It’s not easy taking pictures with an iPhone and a dripping plastic cup at the same time.

I turn around and snap another photo.

mall lot

The PA system at the Outlet Mall is playing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”.  I’m supposed to be seeing snow on the ground and happy shoppers with bundled children walking through the falling flakes.  Where are bundled children, the red scarves, the woolen caps and the bright blue mittens?  Where do the children make “snow angels”?

kidatoutletmall

It’s not happening.

Then I remember.  I’m not in my hometown of Owego, NY, or shopping in Binghamton in a snow storm.  I even remember that I’m not a child anymore.  I’m a senior citizen.  Here, I’m surrounded by senior citizens, and golf carts and adult tricycles.  No, I’m in Fort Myers, FL trying to escape the cold and snow.  Thanksgiving is next week.  Soon it will be December.  Soon, it will be Christmastime.

I go up the steps to the boardwalk at the Outlet Mall to think things over.  This is a little surreal to me–being here this time of year.  Even just being in Florida, for me, is a bit out-of-character.  I have Celtic blood in my veins.  It’s thick and doesn’t do well in sub-tropical climates.

Sipping on my iced coffee gives me a chance to digest the last seventeen days since we parked and unhooked our r-Pod. In the shopping centers I’ve seen Salvation Army Santas in teal colored shorts and Hawaiian shirts ringing the little hand-bell.  At least they have a red fleece Santa cap on their heads.  (They must be sweating under that cap.)

This place called Florida, this place where the Bush/Gore drama played out years ago, this place where Disney and Spanish culture collide like a bad I-95 accident, is a study in contrasts.  There is profound beauty in the Mangrove swamps and mind-bending varieties of shells on Sanibel Island.  The mosquitoes bite and the sunsets amaze.  The ants crawl on the cement and the storks take wing alongside the herons and egrets.

shorebirds

At the same time, the RV resorts and hotels and private marinas have taken the rawness out of the landscape.  I did a Google search on local beaches–I found a list under the link of au natural.  Thinking this was a place where I could walk naked, without shame, along the shore, communing with nature like Adam.  I checked one particular beach on Sanibel.

“Are you joking?” said the guy who was tying up the trash from a can in the parking lot.

I found that au natural basically meant that attendants didn’t pick up the litter and the driftwood stayed where the falling tide left it.

Yes, it’s a different world here for a small town Yank like me.  I’m going to miss the bleak grey skies of Thanksgiving and the snow of Christmas.  Most of my friends from high school are retired now and many have moved to the Carolina’s or here, to Florida.  I can’t speak for them, but I suspect that leaving behind the snows of yesterday with all the attendant activities, was a little hard.  Maybe not.

I remember being in New York City years ago.  They had just finished filming a scene from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on 5th Ave. and 59th street.  The set was made to look like Christmas in New York, and the Hollywood magic worked.  When I saw the film later, I was totally convinced Macaulay Culkin was indeed in the city in the heart of winter.  In truth, the scene was filmed in July or August.  An entire corner of Central Park and the plaza in front of the Plaza Hotel was covered in fake snow.

On my drive back from the Outlet Mall to our RV resort, I turn on the clearest FM station I can find.  I expect something, some song, that speaks to me in mid-November.  Instead, I hear the song: “Have You Left The One You Left Me For?”, it was quickly followed by “I’m Old Enough To Know Better But Young Enough Not To Care.”

They were kind of catchy.

There will be no family gathering for dinner next Thursday.  There will be no Christmas parties for us.  We are going to exchange presents, but there will be no tree to decorate.  It’s hard to hang lights on a palm tree.

New Year’s Eve?  No noise makers or funny hats or those things you blow into and they unravel.  (I never knew what they were called).  We’ll be going to bed early with everything packed and road-ready for our departure from Siesta Bay Resort on New Year’s Day.

On Christmas Eve, when I wrap the gift I already bought for Mariam, I will be singing a song inside my head–to myself–to the memories of my childhood.  I’ll probably have a CD in our player of Bing Crosby holiday music, but it’s the music in my head that I’ll be listening to.

I don’t know about the PA system at the Outlet Mall, but I’ll be quietly singing: I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

palm sunset

Happy Thanksgiving!

[* “Where are the snows of yesteryear?”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listless In Fort Myers: The Harsh Realities Of Wintering In Paradise

ADplane

I’m sitting on the wooden walkway, on a green metal bench, sipping an iced coffee.  I’m watching a Cessna single-engine plane pull an advertising banner across the slightly blue hazy sky.  The banner is telling us to shop at the Tanger Outlet Mall.  I look around and realize that this is the mall I’m in right now.  Wow!  Is that a coincidence or what?  I’m grateful for this bench, because it’s located in front of the main entrance to the Polo/Ralph Lauren store.  Every time someone enters or leaves, I get a free blast of cold air.

It’s one of the few free things you can enjoy when you’re this close to Sanibel Island.

As I watch the Cessna fade into the humid air, I wonder why I’m spending my valuable time sitting alone at an outlet mall in Florida.  People flock here this time of year (we did) to escape the winters of the north.  How was I to know that we were arriving in the middle of one of the more memorable heat waves in recent years.

“This is very unusual for early November,” everyone says.  “Just wait, it’ll get better.”

I am very reluctant to cross the parking lot, get into my car, and drive back to our RV.  I know when I step off this deck and into the sun, I’ll pay dearly.  Yesterday, I looked at my indoor/outdoor thermometer that I mounted with Velcro on the wall just above my head where I sleep…if I sleep.  It displayed triple digits.  I began to worry about the propane canister that is attached to our L.L. Bean grill.  There was a warning on the label about exposing the little tank to…..degrees.  That part of the label was torn.

Was my cooking propane tank going to explode while I was at the Outlet Mall?

I thought about that for a minute.  There would be a fairly large explosion that would likely affect the trailers nearby–and that wouldn’t be hard because the distance between lots is quite small.  (I can sit in our attached tent structure and watch CNN in the RV next door.)  I pondered the damage of such a fire storm–the cylinder is new and full of propane.  The mushroom cloud alone would attract people in the pool or the Shuffleboard courts.  The fire truck that would arrive would block the narrow street we lived on and the people in the golf carts would have to make an extra block.

I hope our propane doesn’t explode.  I don’t even know if we’re covered by AAA for something like that.

After I dumped the watery iced coffee into a bright green trash can, I drove home.  I switched on our AC and immediately began to worry about how much electricity it would cost to get cool me off for ten minutes.  Mariam was working today–she does everything by phone and computer–so she’s over in the “library” taking advantage of one of the two “hot spots” for the WiFi in our resort.  I tried going to the “library” to do some writing and thinking but I found it very distracting.  Every few minutes someone would come in and borrow a Nora Roberts or John Saul book.  My concentration would be broken.  I’m trying to work on a novel, but a “real” writer needs time alone.  Even amateurs like me need a place to think things through in peace.

RV flower

I guess I’m just listless in Fort Myers.  The humidity would tire anyone out, even perky people like Rachel Ray would begin to stir more slowly than usual.  I feel like a hostage to the weather.  Starbucks?  Too far away?  McDonald’s?  They won’t give me skim milk for my iced coffee unless I buy a half-pint container.  I don’t even have the energy to attend the Grand Opening of the new Walmart just a mile away.

My mind begins to wander as I lay back on our bed.  One possibility, you might suggest, is to go to one of the famous beaches and just sit under the umbrella and read or write while the ocean breeze comforts me.  But, they want $4.00/hour to park at these beaches.  And, besides, I’ve tried this approach but neither of us could get our umbrella into the sand deep enough.  The answer: I had to go to the nearest Publix store (they’re everywhere) and buy an auger so that we can drill a hole deep enough to support our shade-providing umbrella.  We’ll have to wait until our next beach visit to see if that works.

The other issue on my mind is that unlike most other places, we’re paying more for ice than for gas.  That doesn’t make sense to me.  Water isn’t shipped from the Persian Gulf and refined in New Jersey!  Crude oil is.  This is just water.  Ice runs around $2.50/bag (and lasts about a day).  Gas is about $2.09/gallon.  I did some mental math and came up with the fact that if we use a bag of ice a day, the cost will be $75.00/month.  You could rent a small room in a nice home in a tiny town somewhere in Ohio for that kind of money.

I’d like to look forward to our quiet little dinners in our tent attachment, but that presents yet another issue.  We sit at a little table that we bought at an RV store.  It has a surface texture that is very slippery.  When we used our new Corelle plates, and tried to cut a slice of fish, the plate slides around the table-top, nearly knocking over our plastic wine glasses.  I consider putting two adhesive Velcro patches on the table and on the bottom of the plates.  They would stay in place for sure.  But, if we both picked up our plates at the same time, we’d pick up the table as well.  Then the plastic wine glasses would surely fly–as well as the pepper mill and citronella candle–possibly burning a hole in our polyester rug.  Or worse…

I’m still laying back on the bed.  I’m still a little lethargic, a little listless and more than a little discouraged.

The reason I’m so down is that I recently checked my stats on my WordPress blog site.  My readership is falling.  I get three or four “likes” on the site.  I’ve looked at other bloggers and they get forty or fifty “likes” for writing six sentences on the shoes they’ve chosen for next Friday night.

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Soon, I’ll have to turn off the AC ($!) and when I do the temperature will start to climb in nanoseconds.  I guess I’ll go out and sit inside our tent.  I’d like to put an ice pack on my head to keep cool, but ice is too expensive.  And, besides, it would slip off my hair when it begins to melt–which would be immediately.

Maybe if I used Velcro on the ice pack…

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