Monday, December 16, 2013

Burrrrrr.....



MOM: 21 DEGREES, WINDCHILL 10.

ME: BURRR… 81…. FEELS LIKE 84. :-)

My mother has entered the world of the smart phone. She has been keeping me abreast of the weather in Lubbock, Tx, through texting… where I will spend my Christmas week. They have been having some very cold weather lately, as low as 10 degrees. Wow, I don't own a coat, and only one long sleeve shirt. Guess I will spend most of my time in the house, or borrow a coat. I do hope my brother will take me for another ride on his motorcycle while I'm there. Last time I went riding with him, it was in the low 30s, and I was bundled up enough that I didn't get cold. That, or I was just having so much fun that I didn't notice I was cold. Either way, it didn't scare me off of riding in the winter.


When the temperature is 83 degrees, and you can lay in the sun and tan, it just doesn't seem like Christmas is almost here. That's okay, because I will have my one week of winter, and it will come at the perfect time… Christmas week. I can then return to the tropical weather of Key West, FL.



A couple days ago, my daughter sent me a photo of her and her husband, coming from the beach, with Frosty in the background. What's wrong with this picture?! NOTHING!!! I love it. Most of Key West is draped in Christmas lights, and it's very festive. One of my co-workers won first place in the "Best Decorated House", and it glows. Reminded me of the Chevy Chase movie.... Christmas Vacation.


Chuck asked me the other day, "Are we going to put up a Christmas tree?" Since neither one of us will be in Key West during Christmas week, I didn't think it necessary. As far as my shopping is concerned, I am almost done. I believe I have done better this year, picking out the perfect gifts. Some a little unusual, some practical, but I believe all will be appreciated. The only one I am stumped about, is for Rocket, my 18 month old grandson. He is too young to fish or snorkel... so fins and rod & reel are out. He does love balls. I think he will be the athlete of the family.

I accompanied Chuck to Marathon for a Children's Christmas Fair, where the Mason's provide a free child ID service. Christmas music and dance programs from the local dance studios played on the stage. Everyone was sporting their shorts, flip-flops and Santa hats in the 84 degree weather. Just doesn't feel like December to me. Life is different in the Keys.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

EXPLORING


My bike has felt a little neglected. It's been too long since we took a ride, and I was feeling restless. I had not explored all the roads in Chuck's neighborhood, until today. I found a quiet little beach that probably only the locals know about, because it's tucked away far off the beaten path.



The road is barricaded to car traffic at the beginning of the beach. It appears that maybe past hurricanes have not been kind to the road, so it was closed. However, bikes and pedestrians can continue on... so I did.


Then the overgrown road ended, there was a path that led on down the shoreline. Me, being the "wonder what's around the corner" type person, I continued on foot.


Along the path was this fence with various types of shoe. I suppose this is the lost and found?



This took me by surprise... but I continued on. What?! I had to see The Stone House!




It wasn't quite what I expected, although, I don't know what I expected. It looks like it is a dead tree that someone used as a cornerstone for a "fort". Remember those structures you built as a kid and played make-believe in all summer? This is the adult version. Actually, it was kinda' cool. My amateur photography skills couldn't capture the ambiance of the place, or show the rooms very will.



Left of one of the entrances, is the bow of a small fiberglass boat. Nets and other washed-up parafanalia decorate the house, inside and out.



Past The Stone House, the path became more rocky and wet. My leather flip flops are not appropriate footwear for water, so I turned back. I did however, notice a couple people taking advantage of the designated "clothing optional" area. Next time, I will wear my water shoes and explore farther down the coast. Hummmm... I have always wanted no tan lines....


Monday, November 25, 2013

GATOR'S TOY


Gator's favorite toy is a coconut, and there is no shortage around here. The cut-out collects them with every flood tide. Gator's first stop when he goes outside, is the cut-out. When he sees a coconut, he looks at me. Yes, he has me trained... I go down and get them for him. He will spend days chewing on the outer husk until he has it peeled.


The other day, I was outside trying to work on Scoot-Scoot (no, I haven't totally abandoned Scoot-Scoot). Gator got down to the fruit, and had it cracked. I took it away from him before he totally destroyed it, so I could finally see a fresh Florida coconut. With the help of a screw driver, I pried it in two. I tasted the milk... tasted a lot like wter to me. Not much flavor. I let Gator have the rest of it, and he seemed to enjoy it.


It's too bad that I don't like coconut, because I would have an unending supply of fresh coconut. When I go back home for Christmas, I will take a couple for the family. Gator's job is to shuck them for me. He will gladly do it.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

FOUR WHEELING AGAIN


For the past couple of months, I've been having issues with my joints. Started with my neck, then traveled to my major joints; hips, knees, shoulders and elbows . It progressed to the point that it was painful to get out of bed in the mornings, and simple tasks brought tears to my eyes.

Chuck felt that the four mile bike ride to work was causing, or at least promoting this pain. He offered the use of one of his vehicles, and I graciously accepted. It's been nice showing up to work not drenched in sweat. A run to the store is quicker, and I can get EVERYTHING I need without sizing up my purchase and figuring out if it will all safely fit on my bike.

How am I feeling now? I finally went to the Urgent Care Clinic, Naproxen Sodium 550mg was prescribed. That has helped, but not taken the pain away, just made it bearable. The test that were done came back normal. This next week I will see another doctor, and hopefully he can help me get back to my old active self. I HAVE TO... I've got adventures in my near future!!! You will hear all about it soon!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

JUST ME AND GATOR

Nick and his baby rabbit.


When Chuck goes out of town, I dog-sit Gator. Every dog is famous for something. My childhood dog, Nick, was famous for bringing baby rabbits to the house. My son's dog, Rant, is famous for stealing food off the table and kitchen counter when not watched. She knows it's wrong, but thinks it's worth the punishment when caught. Gator is no different, he sank one of Chuck's boats. (Click here for story.)

I dropped off Chuck for his early flight, and it was only 5:30, still dark, and I was sleepy after waking up at 3:32 am. I go to Gator's house for another four hours of deserved slumber. Upon waking and entering the living room, I see Gator laying on Chuck's leather couch. He casually raised his head with a look as if to say, "Sup?" I came unglued, because Chuck has jokingly said that I spoil the dog, I surely didn't want to be accused of promoting this behavior. My reputation is on the line here! I yell at him to get down. Gator jumps down and I throw his butt outside. Within five minutes he's at the back door barking to be let in. Seriously! He gets yelled at again for barking, and I didn't heard a peep out of him again. He spent most of the day outside. Meanwhile, I cleaned the couch, camouflage blanket and Superman pillow that Gator was laying on.

Spending the day outside with his favorite chew-toy... coconut.

My reputation as a softy is not welcomed. I can't be the "good-guy", only playing with Gator, I have to wear the disciplinarian hat too. We'll see how this plays out. Gator will push as far as he can to find the edge. He better be careful, you can fall off that edge.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

CONCEALED HANDGUN LICENSE


For several years now, I have thought about getting a CHL (concealed handgun license). This has been a year of new adventures for me, so I thought it was fitting to get it this year. Last Saturday, I took a handgun safety class and will apply for the CHL.

The first half was the classroom lecture. It was given by a friend of Chuck, and was very informative. Lots of safety stuff and a general lesson on the different types of firearms. Then came the fun part... the gun range.

My .38 Special.
I have been to a gun range a few times, but not shot much in the last thirty years. Most of my shooting was aiming at a hay bale behind the house on the farm. I started shooting at an early age. My parents would let me take Dad's .357 out and shoot. Man, did it kick! Later, when I was a hairstylist, and carried my bank to and from work, my mother bought me a .38 special. We both took a class for women only, to learn the legal ins and outs of personal protection; in the home and when you travel. It was very informative.


I was very nervous about the shooting part of this class, because I expect a lot from myself. I wanted to do better than average. I took my revolver, the .38 special. Tom, the instructor, did an inspection and then fired the first shot. He set the revolver down and said, "The sight is perfect." I stepped in the box and saw the hole in the very center of the target. Wow, I was impressed.
Five inch circle from 20 feet.

Shooting my revolver again was fun. I love the adrenaline rush I got when it fired, and the pride I felt when the instructor told me that I did very well. I feel certain that I will go shooting again soon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

FANTASY FEST 2013

Here in Key West, Halloween is celebrated a little differently than other parts of the country...we have Fantasy Fest. I am, however, thankful I no longer work on Duval Street, the party street. I was wondering how awkward it was going to be with practically naked people in our store. Let me explain: Fantasy Fest gives people the liberty to paint their body, wear skimpy costumes, and parade drunkenly down Duval Street.

photo by Rob O'Neal
This is my first time to experience Key West's Fantasy Fest. It is a 10 day event, with many different events everyday. A co-worker asked me if I would take off my shirt and paint my body. That got me to thinking about all the people here that do exactly that. Many come from the mainland thinking that they can go wild here and nobody from home will ever know. Haha, before camera phones and YouTube, that may have been true. With advanced photography technology at our fingertips, anything can end up online. If you don't believe me, go to YouTube and search "Fantasy Fest, Key West". Dare you.
          This is the Zombie Bike Ride.                                 photo by Rob O'Neal

I stayed away from most of the craziness, but felt the need to experience Fantasy Fest, so Chuck and I made our way down for the parade on the final evening. Since my blog is G-rated, I will not publish photos of the many bare-breasted females that roamed Duval Street, along with the reported 60,000+ spectators for the parade. This is our biggest event of the year.

photo by Andy Newman
Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, who recently swam from Cuba to Key West, rides atop the grand marshal float.

photo by Andy Newman

Every Fantasy Fest has a theme, and this year was SUPER HEROES, VILLAINS & BEYOND.
On Sunday, there was a carnival for the kids.


There were many booths of food and fun games for the children. The stage featured many group performances from the dance schools and musical talents.

Amy brought all three kids out for the festivities, and Aiden enjoyed a couple of the rides.












Child ID Program was available for anyone at no charge. This is a great program and Aiden took his turn. We hope it is never needed, but a great tool if it is.

Another Fantasy Fest is in the books, and next year's theme was announced: Animeted Dreams & Adventures. Chuck and I believe it is more fun to be a part of the parade, rather than a spectator. Next year, we will watch the spectators from a float.





Monday, October 21, 2013

STONE CRAB SEASON IS HERE


Like most eatables from the sea, stone crab has a season, and it began Oct. 15th. Stone crabs are popular in the Keys, but I had never heard of them until I moved here. Only the claw is eaten, and only the larger one is harvested and then the stone crab is thrown back in the water… they will grow another claw.

Crab traps.

Chuck loves stone crab, and he has six traps that will be set soon. Yummmm, another fresh dinner straight from the sea. Around here, we celebrate everything, including the opening of a season. Saturday, there was a stone crab eating contest, and we (Chuck, Stan, Gail and I) were in attendance. I was not a contestant, but Chuck and Gail were. This was the 3rd annual competition at Key's Fisheries in Marathon, fifty miles up the road from Key West. Veronica, the winner of the first two years, was a young woman that works at Key's Fisheries. Unfortunately, this year she was disqualified when she couldn't keep her last claw down, but her record still stands. 

Chuck talked Gail into competing in both the singles and the team competition. It was a lot of fun to watch, and all the contestants walked away with a full tummy. Needless to say, Chuck was not hungry come dinner time. 

video


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If your boat has more horsepower than your car,
You're in Conch Country.


Monday, September 30, 2013

CHUCK TAKES AIDEN FISHING

Aiden, my grandson, turned five years old last week. I gave him a fishing rod for his birthday, and Chuck was to teach him how to use it. Sunday was that appointed day. The boat was loaded with rods, chum, bait, and we headed out for the open water.  Chuck knew just the spot for Aiden to have a positive experience for his first fishing trip. We anchored, put the chum bucket overboard, and there were many hungry yellowtail fighting for their fresh meal. Chuck rigged Aiden's Spiderman rod with hook and bait, threw it in the water, and immediately got a bite. Aiden pulled in one after another... so many that we lost count! All but one were under-sized yellowtail, but one fish was a keeper.
His first fish


Aiden took us home.


Chuck lead Aiden in his initiation into the world of anglers. Aiden will be a tournament champion in no time. I can see many more afternoons with a rod and reel in Aiden's hands, and Chuck by his side.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

FOUR GENERATIONS


Four generations.

Mom & Dad meet Presley.
On September 22, 2013, my grandson, Aiden turned 5 years old. There were balloons, cupcakes, gifts and... a 'bouncy house'. The theme was 'super heroes', with an emphasis on Spiderman, because that is Aiden's favorite super hero. My parents flew down for this event, and to meet the new addition to the family, Presley. It is rare that the four generations are together, it was a Kodak moment. However, I couldn't get my mother in the bouncy house with me. Chuck, Bill and Amy did though. As safety conscious adults, it was our job to make sure it was safe for the kids. What gift did Aiden receive from me? Well, a Spiderman rod and reel, of course. Chuck gave him his first fishing lesson after the party. From the other room, I heard Aiden yelling, "Reel that baby in!" Chuck is teaching him well. Soon, Chuck will put real hooks on his line, and Aiden will be reeling in a real fish.

Rocket and Nana in the bouncy-house.

Saturday afternoon, Chuck took us out on the water. We had two manatee pay us a visit while we were still at the dock. We headed out on the water, Chuck and I did a little fishing. We didn't catch anything, but Mom and Dad enjoyed watching us try.

It was a great weekend, full of fun and laughter. Many memories were made, and will be cherished forever.

Aiden turns five!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PROUD MOMMA

Sean sailing 'Scout'.                          photo by Kiko

I feel like that mother that gave up her child for adoption. I will always love that child and watch her blossom. Instead of recitals and graduation... I will be watching for those reports and videos of sailing the different waters of the world. Okay, maybe not the world, maybe the adventurous sailing events like the Texas 200, the Everglades Challenge, Sail Oklahoma...

Yesterday, 'Scout', formerly TARDIS, was taken out for her second sail. The winds were 20+ knots, but a Paradox knows how to handle it. Sean is still getting used to the lug sail, but it won't take long to get the hang of it.

Sean had a friend video the sail, and Sean put together an amazing video. Yes, I did tear up, but nobody was in the room, so it was okay.

To follow Sean and Scout's adventures, visit Sean's blog: FullnBy.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 14, 2013

TARDIS GETS WET

photograph by Sean Mulligan

Okay, I know her name was changed to "Scout", but I will always know her as TARDIS. When I checked my email this morning, I found an email announcing a new post on her guardian's blog: FullnBy.blogspot.com. I have been following her progress as Sean gets her ready for her first sail. Reading of her splash and seeing pictures of her floating, tears of joy and jealousy, streamed down my cheeks. This was my baby that I created and nurtured, and I never dreamed I would feel such emotions seeing her in someone else's hands. But, I will get over it, life goes on.

Scout is in good hands, Sean will take care of her and take her on all those sails that she was built for. I hope she treats him well and gives him years of fun.

Someday, I will see her again.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Little Sailboat



My friend Chuck, has several boats, and one is a Precision 23 sailboat. When I saw the boat, I didn't see a name written across the transom. I asked about her name, he replied, "She doesn't have one. I just call her 'the little sailboat'." I told him that she needed a name, but I don't believe he thinks that's very important, so I will name her 'THE LITTLE SAILBOAT' until I come up with a better name.

Her mainsail was ripped, and in need of repair. I kept my heavy-duty portable sewing machine, so I took the sail and fixed it, now she's ready for another romp in the Atlantic.

Many homes in the Keys have canals behind the house, and Chuck's home is no exception. How convenient is that! Yesterday, Chuck and I decided to take 'THE LITTLE SAILBOAT' out for a sunset sail. We got the jib on, mainsail cover off, drinks and chips aboard, motor warmed up, cast off and headed for the channel. Once we got to the channel, the motor would die when we tried to give it gas and get on down the channel, so we slowly crabbed toward #2 marker. Once pasted #2, we turned to port and raised the sails. We barely had any wind, which was probably a good thing. Not sure of the swing keel's position, Chuck pulled up on the line, but the keel didn't fall back down. Okay, now we don't have a keel, the motor is not reliable, we decide to head back to the dock. Luckily, it's down wind and with the current, so off we go.

It was nice to be back on a sailboat, even if it was not a very successful sail, it was fun for me. I will make a list of repairs that need to be done so she can go out and have fun in the warm waters of the Atlantic. Sailboats are not Chuck's favorite mode of transportation on the water. She has spent most of her time at the dock, but I hope to change that now. :-)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

LABOR DAY 2013



In past years, I've had some fun Labor Day Weekends. However, this one was very different from any other. This day was spent looking at the landscape of the Atlantic. The weather and water was perfect, the most bright and beautiful turquoise you've ever seen, and calm. It was a perfect day for diving.

With six aboard the boat, we shoved off about mid-morning and headed out the canal and into the Atlantic. Our objective was to find lobster. Lobster live under rocks and coral. How do you find these rocks and coral? Someone wearing fins, mask, and snorkel is pulled slowly behind the boat and looks for these lobster condos. When a promising location is spotted, they drop off and go down to investigate. If lobster is seen, the location is marked, the boat anchored, and everyone goes in.
This is how it's done in Conch Country.
Our first stop was right in Chuck's backyard, a spot that has been labeled "rock pile" on the GPS. Only one legal size lobster was found at this stop, we then moved on out about 3 1/2 miles. The water was clear and we anchored at about 25'.


There is a completely different world under the water's surface, and I am in love with it. I am trying to learn all the different fish, and have heard a lot of talk about the hogfish.
Hogfish
Wikipedia says:
Hogfish is a commonly targeted species for many spear and reef fisherman and is regarded highly by many for its taste and food value. 
 I saw my first hogfish, and can now identify one. For now, I will be the spotter, and let Chuck use the speargun. But, someday........

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If you use an old anchor for a doorstop, 
you're in Conch Country.
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

PARADISE

When most people think of Paradise, they envision a tropical island with lush forest and white sand beaches. A place too far for them to ever reach.

In reality, Paradise is not a place, just a state of mind. Many years ago, someone told me that you can be happy anywhere. You choose to be happy, or sad and depressed. If you don't like something in your life... you have the power to change it. Don't be afraid, you only have one shot at life, make the most of it. Find your passion, and have fun.



The longer I live here in Key West, the more I love it. This is a peaceful place... the water, the tropical foliage, it's beautiful. When you stand at the water's edge, and look toward the horizon, all you see is water. But there is a whole other world just beneath the surface, and I have had the pleasure of entering that world. I have so much to learn, and I want to learn it all.












Last friday, when I checked my email, I experienced another first. In the past, I have always quit a job, but this time, the job quit me... the doors of Swirlicious will be closed and locked for the last time on August 30, 2013. I pulled out the calendar, and saw I was given a one week notice. The job hunt is not my favorite activity, and this is the worst time of year in Key West to be looking for employment, as we are coming up on the slow month. Tourist are few, so some businesses close up shop and take a vacation during September.


Last March, in my search for employment, I also interviewed at Strunk Ace Hardware, the locally owned hardware store. I was told that several people had been hired the previous day, but he thanked me for coming in, and would keep me in mind if they needed someone else. After I accepted the job at Swirlicious, I was contacted by Andy Strunk and invited to join their team. Since I had already started my job at Swirlicious, I decided to stick with them.

Yesterday, I stopped by Strunk Hardware, and check to see if they are hiring. The cheerful lady behind the counter said, "I don't know, but I'll call someone that does." Two minutes later, Andy Strunk came around the corner with a big smile on his face and said, "I already had my business card in my pocket, and I was coming to see you today and offer you a job." It seems that he had been in Swirlicious the day before and learned of the stores closure. WOW, this is great, the spending freeze that was imposed, can be lifted now. I was dreading the financial strain I saw in my future, but truthfully, I was not worried about it. Once again, God is watching out for me. A hardware store is more suited for me than wiping up melted yogurt all day, although, my daily diet of frozen yogurt will be greatly missed.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"If your spare bedroom has a waiting list, 
you're in Conch Country."





Thursday, August 22, 2013

TWO WHEEL ADDICTION

A couple days ago, while riding Scoot-Scoot home, it stalled on me four times. I was praying, while sitting on the side of the road in the rain, "Lord, just help me get home." I have come to the conclusion that the fuel line might be clogged, or the carburetor may need cleaning. This is something I can learn to do. The oil leak may be a little more difficult to fix, but I'm sure I can fix that too.


I was wanting to get another bike at some point, but it was suddenly moved to the top of my "things I want to buy" list, when Scoot-Scoot got sick. The first place I looked, was the store where I found my other bike. Unfortunately, there were no used bikes, and a new Kona, would put me back almost $400. So, this is my new set of wheels. I'm sure it will be fine for a few years, or until I'm feeling rich and get a Kona.

Orange is not my favorite color, but Chuck said, "I like the orange one. You would be seen." This is true, and it would also be quick to spot at the bike rack full of black bikes. I hate to admit that there were times when it took me a little bit to figure out which black bike was mine, in a sea of black bikes.

My new bike is not the only new addition, I have a new grandchild, Presley Jameson Vile Junod, 6 lbs. 4 oz. of precious. She is beautiful, just like her mother.




Dad and Rocket watching Presley. Rocket just starred at her, not sure what to think yet.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was wandering the hallway, when a nurse asked if she could help. I told her my daughter just had her baby. She flipped through the papers she was holding, and asked if her name was Amy. Okay, it's a real small hospital, and I didn't see any other patients on that floor, so Amy's baby was the only excitement this morning. I was told, "Bill and Presley are in there", pointing for me to go into this room where Presley was laying under the heater. A little later, Bill's mother and Rocket entered also. We could go anywhere, that was cool. But I digress.... :-)

The other day, as I was riding Scoot-Scoot, it dawned on me... a moped is the gateway drug to motorcycles. I have caught myself pretending I am on a motorcycle as I lean into a curve. I notice every motorcycle that crosses my path, looking to see what kind it is. I have entertained the thought of owning a motorcycle. Will I give into this weakness? We'll see.