"" Writer's Wanderings: 2020

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Celebrating My Birthday With a Book Sale!!

Was it the luck of the Irish that I was born on St. Pat's day? Hardly. I don't like the color green much--or maybe I'm just tired of it from all the green carnations, green cupcakes, green cookies, etc. I've had over the years.

But it is lucky for you! I'm celebrating by putting many of my Kindle editions on sale and saving you some green and giving you a chance to entertain yourself during this virus scare that has everyone hunkered down and most means of entertainment closed.

So, for the next week, you can buy these books at Amazon for your Kindle for only 99 cents!  RUBY, A NOVEL  IN A PICKLEPICKLE DILLY and FORT LONESOME
















































  IN A PICKLE


PICKLE DILLY

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Green Flash!

Here it is for the unbelievers.

I caught the green flash as the sun set by using the sport mode on my camera. I had to wade through about 25 shots but several had the green color in them as the sun disappeared!

No I did not touch up the photo. I just zoomed and cropped.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Exploring The Night

Several years ago Bob bought a very bright flashlight that we bring with us to Florida each year in order to explore the nighttime waters around our shoreline and dock area. We've found lots of interesting things (besides the glow worms after the full moon). We've also gained the name of "the night watchmen" from our friends here.

A few times we've seen the small neighborhood nurse shark out foraging in the rocky areas for an unsuspecting fish or the leftovers of someone's catch of the day that they've cleaned and tossed the extra into the water. There have been lobster and some shrimp with beady eyes (Bob's favorite find).

One year we saw lots of horseshoe crabs in the shallows. Ant my favorite, the dolphin who had a feeding frenzy among the mullets that make their home around our dock.

This year we haven't found quite so much although we did hear a manatee's heavy breathing one night and saw its snout above the water. Our good find recently was this crab out in the sandy bottom looking for a midnight snack.

We have a few more nights to explore and we've just had a full moon. Who knows what we might find?

Friday, March 06, 2020

A Little Friday Funny

It is not hard to guess the average age of a snowbird, those retirees who travel south for the winter months. Suffice it to say they are usually past or well past age 65.  The first few years we began our migration, we noticed lots of turkey vultures in the skies. They were constantly circling and riding the warm winds.

It didn't take long for the joke to be, the birds are just circling because they see all the old people below.

Now that was a little funny for a while but the other day as we were exploring the bird sanctuary near us, I noticed a sign I hadn't seen before explaining the importance of the turkey vultures in our eco system.

Here are a few facts I gleaned. They have no feathers on their heads apparently which keeps their heads cleaner as they stick them in the carcasses.

While other birds can't smell, vultures can smell carrion from a mile away.

Very corrosive stomach acid allows them to consume disease ridden meat with no problem and instead of Purell, they defecate on their legs to sanitize them.

More than you wanted to know, right?

The best thing I learned is that vultures cannot sense death and do not circle dying animals. So even if they are circling overhead I can rest assured they are only enjoying the ride on the wind currents. Whew!

Friday, February 28, 2020

Friday Funny

One day while fishing with my young teenaged grandson who is a Florida resident we watched as a kayak came our direction. It had a mom with two young children in it, the littlest asleep in her lap. I marveled at her ability to be able to paddle over the top of his head without getting him wet and waking him up.

Behind her a ways was her teenaged daughter on a paddle board. I couldn't be sure if she was on her phone texting or just studying her hands for a moment but she was falling farther and farther behind.

Suddenly she called out in a panic. "Mom! Mom! There's a whale swimming under me!"

My grandson burst into a fit of laughter. I thought he might fall in. We both knew what she'd seen. A manatee!

He was just about done with his bout of laughing when the girl cried out again. "It's okay Mom! It's just a seal!"

Another bout of laughing and then he turned to me. "Should we tell her?" he said, I'm sure dying to impart his knowledge of the Florida Bay.

"Naw," I said. "She'll figure it out sooner or later."

Monday, February 24, 2020

Monday's Mulling

Three chapters of Secrets Among The Shamrocks are begun. I'm just getting into the story. It takes a while to feel the story develop. So far I'm taking you to Ireland--of course! To a town called Dingle, or rather just outside that town to a castle (fictional).

The town of Dingle does exist however and was one of my favorite stops on our driving trip around Ireland several years ago. I posted about our stay there: Dingle--The Town, The Bay and Fungie! I remember our beautiful Bed and Breakfast there that sat up on a hillside overlooking the bay.

I'll let you read the post to find out about Fungie.

While there may or may not be an actual castle outside of town, there is in my story. The castle's name? Shamrock! Oh what secrets will I find?

Monday, February 17, 2020

What Happens After A Full Moon In Florida Bay?

Each time there is a full moon while we are in Florida we spend the next three or four nights going out for the light show in the waters of the Florida Bay. I've posted several times about this phenomena of nature and I will give the particulars a little later in this post but I did get a couple of good photos this time on my phone. Unfortunately, when I picked my camera up this last time, the battery was too low and I had to give up.

Here's the story behind the little critters that light up in the water after the full moon:

The first time we saw this phenomenon during our stay in Key Largo  was in January as we were walking in the evening after dark and I noticed something that looked shiny in the water. I thought it was a reflection of something or a piece of foil in the water. It went out and then returned a few minutes later and I realized that between a few strands of floating sea grass there was a small worm-like creature wiggling and glowing a bright green. 

Curiosity aroused, I began asking around about the glowing worm and no one seemed to know what it was. In the Bahamas some years back, we saw glowing jelly fish in the water but this was not a jelly fish. It was definitely a worm or very thin fish.
As time went on, we didn't see any more. Then someone else began asking about the glowing worms in the water. At least I knew now I wasn't the only who had seen them but when we returned to look again at dark we found nothing.

Finally one of our new friends found a link to a study about Bermuda fire worms. The description fit what we had seen. It said that the glowing, or bio luminescence, had to do with the mating that took place every month just after the full moon. When we discovered the date of the next full moon, there was quite a group of us gathered on the dock to see the fire worms.

The peek time is three days after the full moon and 57 minutes after the sun has set. The female rises to the surface and emits a bright green mucus that attracts the male who also emits a glowing mucus. The mucus apparently contains the cells necessary for reproduction. The phenomenon lasts only about thirty minutes and then the worms disappear again. 

On the peek night in March, the waters were calm and we could see little worms lighting up all over the place--sort of like the fireflies of summer at home.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mooned By An Osprey!

The Overseas Highway (Rte 1) takes us to the mainland any time we need to pick up or drop off a grandchild. While Key Largo doesn't seem like an island, technically it is and is the first in the line of islands that extends to Key West--all of which are connected by the Overseas Highway.

There is an exit just north of the bridge that spans Surprise Lake you can take to go to the Yacht Club and a couple of restaurants below. We take the ramp down and then continue onto the ramp back up again to the highway but as we do, we slow to a stop and check in on the osprey nest that is visible from there.

The up ramp gives you a view directly in line with the nest and this time of year the osprey pair are either sitting on their eggs or feeding hungry mouths. This year they seem to have built the nest a little higher around the edges so it's a little harder to see if there are any hatchlings inside yet.

Maybe there's a good reason that they built the walls of the nest higher. Perhaps they are tired of being spied on. I know that there are several other people with cameras who stop there on their way up and down the highway. Why do I suspect they want more privacy? Because as I was lining up my shot and just as I pressed the shutter, the osprey stood and mooned me.

Now my fellow photographer, to whom I showed my picture, laughed and said I was lucky I wasn't any closer. I would have been the recipient of more than just a moon shot. Wonder if he was speaking from experience?


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Snow Moon In South Florida?

This is not the picture of the full moon I hoped to get this past weekend. Believe it or not we had three days in a row of cloudy weather when the moon was expected to be full. So I settled for the almost full moon picture I took on Thursday.

I was a bit disappointed. After all this was supposed to be one of those spectacular moons, the snow moon, as it is called. Yes, even in Florida it is labeled a snow moon. Maybe that's to remind all of us snowbirds of what we left behind up north. Of course the three gray days almost had me wondering if I'd returned home somehow--wondering that is until I opened the door and felt the warm air. I was relieved and by Monday, the sun was shining again.

Of course now that we've had the full moon, we will be looking for those bioluminescent little worms that pop up after the sunset for the next couple of days. I love the wonder that God has created.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Books For The Road - Twenty-One Days

Starting on my reading list for 2020. I find I have to list the books I read so that I don't reread one accidentally. I hate starting a book and getting to the third chapter only to realize I've read it before. I also find that too often I stick with the same authors. It's safe. I know I'll get a good read but it doesn't make for a diverse reading list. I have been trying to expand my reading experience and I happened upon a new author for me and a book called Twenty-One Days.

The author, Anne Perry, takes the reader back to 1910 and London and introduces us to a young barrister who is just beginning his career. Coming off a successful case where he's proved a man innocent with a last minute forensic check he is handed a case that also seems a loser. Daniel Pitt will uncover evidence that just may involve his father who is head of London's Special Branch (think CIA-like). He will have 21 days to exonerate his client but the question is will it hurt his father?

It's  great read and one that would be great to tuck into your suitcase or just curl up with on a snowy day.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Manatees Ho!

After quite a Friday night of lightening, thunder and rain, I woke early to a very calm Bay with the wispy sky of dawn displaying a pink and purple tinge that indicates the sun is rising oceanside behind me. I love these kind of mornings especially when I am blessed to glimpse some of the busyness of nature in front of me.

As I was reading, I caught movement in the water out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was just some rogue waves from a passing boat of fishermen but a few moments later I realized what it really was that caught my eye. Manatees!

We usually see them in passing as they go by our dock area in search of greener areas of grassy seaweed. They survive in brackish water by managing to find fresh water springs that feed into the saltier water. Here's a link to another post I did a few years ago about manatees and one that actually played with our kayak.

It was a bit of a blue/gray morning with rain expected to return but I decided to go down on the dock and sit and watch as the manatees spent their morning feeding. It was very relaxing. I could hear them exhale as they surfaced to take another breath and then disappear again. I would see a nose and sometimes a head pop up. I finally counted five different ones when they all surfaced almost together. I think one may have been a little one.

When rain threatened, I headed back inside, thankful for my peaceful morning encounter.



Thursday, January 30, 2020

My Clever Grandfather

There is a commercial for a Lincoln SUV featuring Matthew McConaughey that starts with him setting the temperature in the SUV at 78 and then going out onto a frozen lake and cutting a hole in the ice to fish through. He sets up a gadget with a pole and then opens the back of the SUV to sit just inside on the tailgate. Quickly there is a flag on the pole on the ice that pops up indicating that there is a fish on the line. All of this happens while The Andy Griffith Show theme song whistles in the background.

Clever yes. But so was the system my grandfather used for fishing. Grandpa was no slouch. He worked in his garden and out in the yard at the house my parents had on Lake Erie where he stayed most of the year. He would take his fishing pole to the dock and cast the baited hook and line out into the water. He would then secure the handle of the fishing pole into a pipe he had affixed to the dock so that the pole would stand up. At the top of the pole, just where the line came through the last eye on the pole, he would tie a piece of ribbon to the line.

As Grandpa went about his work in the yard, he would keep an eye on that ribbon. If the ribbon was pulled down, he knew he had a bite and maybe even a fish hooked on his line. With a big grin on his face he would reel in either a nice perch or bass or he would mumble something about a fish who'd stole his bait--often in his native Bohemian.

Fond memories. Not only might we enjoy his catch which he often smoked in the little smokehouse he built but we'd have some nice veggies to go with it as well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Dreaming Of A Cruise?

Most of the country right now is experiencing winter. Some are getting colder than others and some are dealing with more snow than others. This is the time of year many begin to dream about a warm get away like a nice Caribbean cruise. There are always some bargains to be had but be aware there are also many add-ons that could add on to your cost.

Some of the bargain basement cruises may almost double when the cruise taxes and fees are added on. A lot depends upon where your cruise is going and how many/which ports you visit. Each port tacks on its fees for the ship's use of the port. It's a per person charge that is paid for by you when you book the cruise. Leaving from the US will also tack on fees. So be aware that the sale price you see for your cruise will not be the bottom line when you book.

Gratuities are another automatic charge now with most lines. They add up to about $12-15 per person per day. It your sale price does not say that it includes gratuities, you will find them charged to you per day.

Most of the other extras for your cruise can be handled with a little self control. Most cruise lines charge for specialty coffee drinks, sodas, bottled water and alcoholic drinks (including wine if not mentioned in your contract as included). You can save some by buying a drink package but only if you are a big consumer of your drink package. We find it's better to buy as we go. We can't drink enough soda to cover the cost of a package.

Meals of course are included but remember that specialty dining is not. There will be a service charge and may even be an extra charge for some of the things on the specialty dining menu.

Spa packages and services are extra. A mani/pedi will cost you at least twice as much as on shore.

Some onboard activities will cost a little extra as well and of course onshore excursions are almost always an extra cost.

Bottom line is read your contract and/or question your TA so you understand what your cost will be initially so you aren't surprised when the bill comes due.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Sunset Community

Every night at sunset in our condominium people gather together at the shoreline to watch the sunset hoping that it will be as beautiful as the most spectacular one they've seen in the past. Everyone sips their drink of choice and sometimes enjoys a treat supplied by someone. The questions are debated. Will we see the green flash? Will the sun set behind the clouds? Will the sunset cruise sailboat pass in front of the setting sun just in time for the perfect picture? Will the afterglow be amazing?

The sunset questions are just openers. The conversation can take many turns often involving activities of the day or coming events,. New people arrive and get acquainted with those who have been there for some time. Where are you from? What's it like back home?

I love it when we meet people who love to travel as we do and we can share places we've been and be encouraged to see places yet to be visited.

There is a slight hush as the last few seconds of the sun's appearance for the day fades from view. Cameras and iPhones capture the event.

We linger. There's always a little more conversation to be had. It's a wonderful sense of coming together. A community. It's a beautiful thing--as beautiful as a spectacular sunset.


Friday, January 24, 2020

The Magicians Of The Sea

Well, they may not be the magicians of the sea but they certainly are the magicians of the Florida Bay where the dock is that I fish from. I'm pretty sure it's the clever little grunt fish. If you do catch them, they make a funny grunting sound while you're taking the hook out. (I have a catch and release policy so hook out, fish back in the water.)

While fishing with my grandson this week, the little magicians performed their trick of stealing the bait from the hook before the bobber in the water ever indicated that they were even there. The ones that are well practiced get a good meal of shrimp from me. The other ones. . .

I did manage to catch a few who weren't as quick or hadn't practiced their tricks enough. As a matter of fact, I did pretty good for the morning.

My grandson caught a snapper that swallowed the hook really well. He was having trouble getting it out and asked for help. The fish had its jaws clenched tightly. Now normally I would just pry open its mouth with my fingers and I tried that. A little too late my grandson warned me that there were a couple of teeth there. Two pointy "incisors". One of them pierced my thumb. It was like pricking yourself with a needle. We lost the hook when the line broke off but my grandson assured me the fish would eventually spit it out. Okay, if you say so. We tossed him back in.


Thursday, January 23, 2020

South Beach

South Beach, the southern tip of Miami Beach is an iconic place to visit. When one of our sons visited recently, he wanted to see SOBE, a nickname for the place. We decided we would stop on our way to take him to the airport in Fort Lauderdale.

Thankfully it was a cooler day and there was a beautiful breeze blowing off the ocean as he was dressed to return to Seattle. It was difficult to find a parking spot since there was some sort of sidewalk festival going on for the weekend but we eventually found a place that let us park for $10 for an hour. We left the car and headed for the sand.

There is a nice stone and cement boardwalk that runs a good length of the beach and we started out on that dodging bicycles and early morning runners until we found a spot where we could walk out onto the beach. Even though it was early morning, it was already filling up and the spot we chose to view the beach was in front of a hotel that had all its umbrellas set up and ready for beach goers.


Swimmers were already in the water bobbing up and down and the smell of sunblock permeated the air. The sun was already warming the sand and we started back for the shadier boardwalk.


We hadn't been able to drive down Ocean Drive, the street that borders the park along the oceanfront because that's where the street fair was set up. It would have been nice if we had because then he could have seen more of the iconic art deco buildings that South Beach is famous for.

The sun was heating up the pavement of Ocean Drive so we abandoned our walk along the street fair that had a variety of vendors and food booths. We headed closer to the beach where we still at least had a breeze as we found our way back to our car. 

It was a short visit but now our son can say he was there. I don't think it impressed him enough for a return visit to stay longer. He was really searching for a less densely populated beach. That will never be a way to describe South Beach.



Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Everglades In The Rain

In Florida, rain is usually sporadic. It rains for five minutes and then the sun comes out. So when our son who had never seen the Everglades came to visit, we decided to take him there. The forecast was for a chance of rain. Okay, we thought, probably a chance here and there, we can do that.

We set off and as we got closer to the park, dark clouds were visible. As we neared the information center, a heavy misty rain all but drenched us on our way in. We decided to explore the center and watch the introductory movie until the shower passed.

When it was obvious the shower had stopped, we hustled out and drove to the Royal Palms nature center where there is a neat boardwalk that has always provided lots of entertainment from the wildlife. Well, the sun was usually shining on the other visits.

We started down the walk and found very few birds where they usually abounded and put on quite a show as they fished in the water. At one end of the walkway where there's a little shelter and we always find at least a half dozen alligators, one lone alligator was in the tall grass not moving a muscle.

As we started around the loop of the boardwalk trail, the rain started again. There hadn't been quite as much of a dry stretch between rain clouds as we'd hoped. We saw a few birds but no more gators. The rain would ease up but only to a mist and then get heavier again. Not really a downpour but enough that we were pretty wet through and through. On the plus side, it was a warm rain as long as there was no breeze.

On a chance that we might have missed some and as the rain let up a bit, we retraced our steps to the little shelter area again. Nope. Still only one in the grass but as we walked back toward the car, A couple stopped us and pointed to the little channel of water that runs alongside the walkway.

An alligator was swimming slowly along and pushing the lily pads aside as he went. My son got his video of a gator in action and we hustled back to the car as the misty rain got heavier again. I guess the inhabitants of the glades hunker down when it rains.


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