Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Earth Cruiser

About two weeks ago, I came out to find my rear tire on my bike flat. From the "flatness" of it, I knew that the tube needed to be replaced, not just needing air. With all the holiday hustle and bustle, replacing the bike tube took a back seat. This morning, it was on my list of things to do. After going through all my wrenches and sockets, unable to find one that would fit the nut on the wheel, I decided to bring the whole bike over to Chris at Beach Bike Rentals. He had replaced the tube for me once before, about a year and a half ago. I have been told by many (men) to learn to change it myself - that it's not that difficult. I have also been advised that Beach Bike is a "rip-off" - that any one in town would do it much cheaper. If I don't even have a tool to remove the wheel, I certainly don't have a tool to remove the tire. Besides, I will give Chris my business whenever I can; here's why.

I ride my bike to work everyday. It's a very short ride, and it takes me through the parking lot of Chapel by the Sea Presbyterian Church, which is right next door to Town Hall. Chapel by the Sea conducts a program they call "God's Table" which feeds the homeless. Each weekday morning, they provide showers, medical aide, breakfast and a bag lunch to area needy. This program is controversial because it does not offer any rehabilitative services, and according to some, encourages vagrancy on the island. Many of the "needy" take the free trolley from town to the beach, have free meals and clothing, and then trespass on many beachfront properties.
Each morning I bicycle past the "food line" out on the porch of the church. Each morning, I place my bicycle inside the front door of the Town Hall, where a small bike rack exists. One afternoon, I was leaving Town Hall, and my bicycle wasn't there. I called Lee County Sheriff's office and a deputy came out and took my information. I had the serial number, the bill of sale and all the paperwork for this bike, and gave the information to Deputy Schwing. George Schwing was born and raised on the Beach and knows it extremely well. He went to Beach Bike Rentals and asked Chris if he'd seen a bike that fit the description of my beach cruiser. As a matter of fact he had. Chris would often fix up bikes that the homeless would pick up out of the trash and give them a few dollars for it. Well, Chris said, ole Mickey brought in a bike fitting the description of my bike, and he knew it was too nice of a bike to have come out of the trash, figured it must've been stolen, and refused to buy it.

George is a smart cop. He got up about half an hour earlier than his normal shift time, went into Matanzas Pass preserve (which is behind Chapel and Town Hall) and there in the mangrove swamp was ole Mickey, sleeping like a baby - with my bike. George called me, met me at Town Hall, handed me my bike, and hauled ole Mickey downtown.

I am grateful to Chris for helping save my bike, so I give him my business. This morning, I took my bike over, and said I needed a new tube in the rear tire, and asked - if I were to leave the bike, could he - and for how much - repair the (missing) kick stand, chain guard, grease the chain, and basically give it a fix up. He put the bike on his stand, and quickly identifed a bad rear wheel. We talked candidly and frankly, and the bottom line? It's not worth fixing. "It's had a hard life" Chris said. I asked him if he could use it - he said he might be able to use the front wheel... I wished him luck and came home without a bike.


Of course I immediately logged on and googled Jamis Earth Cruiser and found the nearest dealer. I was ready to drive down to Naples, but it's Sunday, the sun is shining, all the tourists that fled the great white north are on Fort Myers Beach and traffic is horrendous. I think I will think about this for awhile. My brother, Ken's bike is here, and I can ride that while I decide what to do to replace my beloved bike.

May she rest in peace.

Friday, December 26, 2008


I woke today with the delightful knowledge that I have nothing to do today. That is I have nothing I HAVE to do today! It was a knowledge that forced a smile from ear to ear. I got up, took Gracie out briefly and poured a cool glass of white grape juice. Gradually I began picking up the pieces of ribbon and gift boxes that were scattered about. I put some opened gifts back neatly under the tree, and took the paper and cardboard out to the recyle bin. Lauren had given me a number of custom made CDs (she said, you play the same cds over and over! she's right!) and I'm listening to a mix of Norah Jones.

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Sarah came over at about 10:00 in the morning. We exchanged gifts while sipping coffee and eggnog. After all the presents were opened and explored, the girls went over to visit their father, and I walked Gracie and watered my garden. We were expected at my brother's house at 1:30 for dinner.

Compared to other years, it was a quiet gathering. Without my mother, it was very different. My brother from the east coast didn't come over, and my sisters and brothers from up north didn't call, but we were eight all together and it made for a nice dinner party. Mary Anne and Norbert outdid themselves! The table was beautiful in seasonal colors complete with pointsettia-style napkin holders and gold-rimmed plates. The first course was lobster bisque! Followed by ceasar salad (with anchovies!) with warm, crusty bread. The main course was surf and turf - lobster tail broiled perfectly, and filet mignon on the grill. Norbert is an expert griller. Baked potato with sour cream and chives and green beans and roasted red peppers rounded out the meal.

After dinner we strolled down to the beach to catch the sunset. Shortly after, friends and neighbors came by and we brought out the deserts. I made a black forest cake that looked quite festive on a pedestal cake stand. Mary Anne made a chocolate cheesecake with fresh strawberries, Ollie brought a flan, Nancy brought cookies, Wendy brought fudge and suddenly there were deserts all over the place!

It was nice to gather with friends. Nancy and Phil used to live just a few houses down from my brother's house. They moved into town probably 14 years ago. They have two daughters the same age as my two daughters. Although no longer "beach kids" their daughters stayed in touch with my daughters, and Phil and Nancy would come out to the beach on occasion or invite us into their house for special occasions. Now, their younger daughter and my younger daughter are roommates in Tampa and both attend USF! Nancy made the comment, "I'm glad we do this every year!" Having friends for Christmas desert, a tradition that my brother and his wife have carried.
Ollie, Mary Anne, Moi, and Nancy
Today is clear and sunny and warm. I should wash my car, but I think I will go to the beach and get some florida sun while opening the pages of a new book!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

holiday bling!

Got Her Bling On...

How much is that doggie?

Crazy Gracie....

and Michelle wishes all a Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Charlie Brown Christmas (from Delancy Place)

In December 1965 came A Charlie Brown Christmas, the most successful special in television history. In a simple story from Peanuts' creator Charles Schulz where Charlie Brown looks for genuine meaning in Christmas while Snoopy and Lucy revel in its glitter, the show defied convention by using real kids' voices, no laugh track, sophisticated original music and uncluttered graphics:"

No one was more ready than Charles Schulz to write a parable about commercialism when [his agent] Lee Mendelson telephoned one Wednesday in May 1965 to announce that he had just sold a Christmas show to Coca-Cola. ... He brought in Bill Melendez, the Disney animator who had earned Schulz's respect by not Disneyfying the Peanuts gang ... [by] changing their essential qualities, either as "flat" characters or as his cartoon characters. ..."[Schulz left] Lee and Bill to audition some forty-five kids, ages six to nine, then train the cast of seven principles, some of them too young to read ... [to deliver] their lines with startling clarity and feeling. ...

"Schulz loathed the hyena hilarity of canned merriment and rightly judged that an audience would not have to be told when and where to laugh; Mendelson countered that all comedy shows used such tracks. 'Well, this one won't,' said [Schulz] firmly. 'Let the people at home enjoy the show at their own speed, in their own way.' Then he rose and walked out, closing the door behind him. ..."On the subject of scoring and music, however, Schulz put aside his own tastes ... [and his producer hired] Grammy Award-winning composer Vince Guaraldi. The catchy rhythm of 'Linus and Lucy' ... became the centerpiece of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and eventually a pop music standard. But it was the slower, mixed-mood, improvisational pieces in Guaraldi's jazz suite, especially 'Christmas Time is Here,' that elicited the unarticulated emotions lying below the holiday's joyful surface. ...

"Lee and his wife had read Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Fir Tree' to their children the previous year, and when he suggested that the show somehow involve a comparable motif, [Schulz] seized upon the idea: 'We need a Charlie-Brown-like tree.' ... [And Schulz] insisted that the season's true meaning could be found in the Gospel according to St. Luke, and they agreed that the show would somehow work in the Nativity story. ... When the script was finished in June 1965, Lee Mendelson made a stand against Linus's recitation of the Nativity story, insisting that religion and entertainment did not mix on television. '[Schulz] just smiled,' Mendelson later wrote, 'patted me on the head, and left the room.' ...

"In a screening room at network headquarters in New York, two CBS vice presidents watched the show in silence. 'Neither of them laughed once,' Mendelson recalled. When the lights came on, the executives shook their heads and shrugged. 'Well,' said one, 'you gave it a good try.' 'It seems a little flat,' said the other. 'Too slow,' said the first, 'and the script is too innocent.' 'The Bible thing scares us,' said the other. The animation was crude--couldn't it be jazzed up a bit? The voice talent was unprofessional--they should have used adults. The music didn't fit--who ever heard of a jazz score on an animated special? And where were the laughs?"

David Michaelis, Schulz and Peanuts, Harper Collins, Copyright 2007 by David Michaelis, pp. 346- 358.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I think that I shall never see...

Growing up, we always had a “real” Christmas tree, until after all the kids were moved out, and mom finally got her way with a “fake” tree. Now, with my own family, we always get a real tree. One year we even had a “Charlie Brown’ tree that we hauled home from the Ocala National Forest. It was a scrawny thing, but it was beautiful in that we’d tromped through the forest, over patches of crusted snow, to select, cut down and haul home our very own tree.

Each year, the tree buying exercise made me weary. My husband and kids had to look at every tree in every tent and then on to Home Depot and Target. I am particularly fond of the Frasier firs, with the short needles - they make a fuller tree. But other than that, a tree is a tree. So some years, I tried to get out of going tree shopping, but my husband would guilt me out. The first couple of Christmases after divorce, my daughters would go with me for the tree, and I’d basically stand there with the credit card and nod approval at whatever they chose.

Yesterday, Sarah was at doggie beach with her new pup, and Lauren was …sleeping. (When Lauren’s not studying or hanging with the boy, she’s sleeping.) So Gracie and I went for the tree. Earlier I had seen a Rotary Club tent set up selling trees, and decided to give them my business. They had a large inventory of trees, most all were still wrapped. I found the 6-7 foot Frasier firs, and stood wondering “what the heck do I do now.” A Rotarian came up and offered to help. I told him what I wanted, and he offered to unwrap any tree I wanted to see. I pointed to one, he unwrapped it and held it up. “All I care about is a straight trunk” I said, as he spun the tree for me to see all sides. “It’s beautiful” I said, “I’ll take it.”

I never did understand all the fuss everyone makes over picking “the perfect” Christmas tree. This tree is beautiful, a nice straight trunk, and full healthy branches. Just wait ‘til it gets its bling on!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the twelfth day of Christmas

The cold front came through and the skies are crystal clear and the air is a crisp 56° at 10:00 AM. I will buy my Christmas tree today. I love the holiday season, but this year it’s really snuck up on me. I have bought few gifts; the bulk of my shopping remains. I asked my daughters what they want, and Sarah answered, “a boat!” . (well, I asked! What was I thinking…?!) I told her to talk to her father! “Boat” was Sarah’s first word: while other toddlers are babbling momma and Dada, Sarah was saying, “Boat!”
Lauren wants “to go somewhere.” She wants a trip - cruise, air fare - travel. She should be wanting new eyeglasses, new tires for her car, fix the CD player in her car, ….but those are all “boring.” She commented that she wants to “go shopping!” that she hasn’t been shopping in a really long time! What happened to the days when she and Kelly would go to the mall and come out with hands full of shopping bags!! I was quick to remind her that that was when she was in high school, and had a job! When you’re in college and DON’T have a job, mall trips are few and far between.
So today I will buy my Christmas tree. This will be a challenge with a new puppy. I have to constantly watch her to keep her from chewing things other than her toy and her rawhide. (Yesterday, after we’d been outside for a bit, we’d had lunch, and I was cleaning up the kitchen while she sat on the living room floor. She had a fresh rawhide and was busy chewing away at it. Then I heard a “crunch” that sounded nothing like a rawhide. I looked in to see my prescription sunglasses firmly in her mouth! ) So, Christmas bulbs and lights and presents under the tree may all be fodder for a teething puppy. We shall see!

mele kalikimaka

Mele Kalikimaka (A Hawaiian Song) with a Florida twist

*pronounced meh-leh kah-lee-kee-mah-kah

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Floridian Christmas Day
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Florida’s way To say "Merry Christmas to you."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bedroom Windows

I have two windows in my bedroom: on faces north, the other faces west. When I get out of bed in the morning, I slide back the outside layer of sheers to allow the sunlight to shine through. Each morning as I slide the shears, the same song pops in my head - the song is from a children’s program that my daughters watched when they were pre-school age.

Open up the windows
Listen to the wind blow
Pardon us, the Garden is where we’ll be
Come along
If you please
Sing a song
Bumble bees
Me and you, You and me
One big happy family
So you and us together
Happy as the weather
Spinning ‘round and up and down away we go!

This morning, remnants of a recent cold front lingered in the morning sky. As I drew back the shears over the western window, a different song sprang in my head:

A winter’s day,
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing through the window
To the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock, I am an island.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vet Visit

Gracie and I went to see Dr. Patterson today. She received her third and final set of "puppy shots" which included rabies. She's done with shots for a year, except when it's time to spay and micro chip, which will be Valentine's Day. She weighed in at 21.5 lbs., a gain of 5 lbs in a month. I think this vet is wonderful. I told him of my frustrations and "issues" and when I told him that things improved when I stopped training a dog and started raising a puppy, ..he liked that... After he finished examining her and prescribed the heartguard and frontline, he said that he is very impressed with Gracie, that she's an extremely healthy dog, her coat is beautiful, her muscle development is outstanding, and she is incredibly well behaved. He said often times he sees weim pups that won't even let him examine them - won't let him look at their teeth, their eyes, ears. He congratulated me on what a good job I've done (lol) and repeated how impressed he is! (Okay, so... I guess I'll keep her!). He said she'll probably be 60 lbs. at 10 months.

So, I guess she won't be going North anytime soon - at least not without me. I'd love to take her on a road trip. I got the rabies papers to have with me for those park and campground visits.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Today is Sunday, November 30. This is the last of a week-long vacation from work. Much of the first part of vacation week was spent preparing for Thanksgiving Day - family coming in, shopping, cleaning, baking. Thanksgiving Day was wonderful. We gathered at my oldest brother's home. He and his wife know how to host a dinner party.

We started at 1:00 in the afternoon with cocktails of pink Florida gulf shrimp, creamy brie and crackers and a toast of sparkling champagne. Eighteen of us seated on the patio at a table beautifully decorated in seasonal colors. Norbert had smoked a turkey and a ham - which requires the usual comment, "I'll bet it was hard to roll.." followed by the usual groan. Mary Anne's stuffing or dressing - which ever you are accustomed to calling it - was EXCELLENT. The stuffing is the only thing I do 'seconds' on. I grew up on my mother's giblet and sage stuffing, and have never known anyone to make it even close to Mom's - except me, of course - and Mary Anne's was just as good. We had the traditional green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, corn and peas. And sweet potatoes. I'm not sure what this dish was called, it was a new recipe - which was orange shells stuffed with mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Interesting, tasty, but a little too sweet for me. We talked about past years, always trying to recall "was that the year that..." followed by who was here, wasn't, where we ate, the games we played - "no one can leave the table until they've told a story". (this was done to keep the then younger ones from leaving the table too soon). Gradually the chairs emptied, and “dibbs” on the couch echoed through the house. Father and daughter as bookends!

The food was covered and stored, the table cleared, dishwasher loaded and it was about 4:30. We grabbed sweaters and jackets, beach chairs and a beer or wine or spirits of choice, and walked down to the beach. The annual group shot:

Then the kids teamed up for some touch football.

Gradually the sun dipped below the horizon:

We trickled back to the house and sliced up the Pies! Two pumpkin, two pecan and two apple, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I had also made some orange glazed pecans which were unusually tasty and quite well liked by one nephew in particular. Every Thanksgiving when it’s pie time, the story is told about a girlfriend of brother Ken’s who was a guest at my sister, Debbie’s house. When the pumpkin pie was served, she was the first to taste it. She loudly exclaimed, “ACK! That’s AWFUL!” It seems that the second pie missed the sugar, and Debbie quickly admitted it. But we all never got over how Jeannie reacted, thinking that perhaps she could have been more tactful!

Post pie had several gathered around the dining room table with cards and chips playing Texas hold’m

After several rounds, and various players, the trivial pursuit came out. It was about this time that I went home. A full day, a full belly and a desire to slip into my bed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

...for the birds....

Gracie. Isn't she a beauty?

So I was outside marveling at nature, when the birds decided to visit the bath:

and then LO and BEHOLD!

A Pileated Woodpecker!!

A lovely Day!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Of pecans and pet and other things

My employer gives each of us a personal day and birthday off each year, and it's a "use or lose" condition. Every year as my birthday approaches, I remember I have two days that need to be used. Offices are closed Thanksgiving and the Friday after, so with the addition of one vacation day, I have this whole week off. Today is Tuesday, and it's difficult for me to remember that. Saturday I got up early (too early for me!) and donated items to a charity yard sale. The rest of that day was most uneventful. Sunday was very productive, accomplishing many household chores. Yesterday was relaxing with a nice mix of puttering in the garden, surfing the net, power walk on the beach and shopping for pie-making stuff. ( We'll have thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house, but I'm the pie baker - 2 pumpkin, 2 apple, 1 pecan and 1 chocolate pecan.) Last night I made frosted pecans and orange glazed pecans.

A note about pecans. First, do you say, "PEE-cans" or "peh-CONS"? All my years in the south, I say PEEcan. My daughter dated a young man who grew up in south Georgia and his folks had a pecan farm. He says "peh-CONS". After his last visit to GA, he brought back several gallon-size bags of pecans, semi-shelled. I popped them in the freezer, for such a time as this to enjoy baking with them.

Today is off to a lazy start. The weather is to die for gorgeous. My brother gets in late this evening driving from NY. My daughter gets home from Tampa this evening, break from school. Part of me wants to shop for an outfit to wear on Thursday - in the mood for something new to wear. That is most unusual for me, as I am not a clothes-shopper... not a go-in-a-store-and-try-on-clothes shopper. I shop via www. click move to shopping cart and check out. I sit here looking out at the brazilian pepper trees with their bright red berries, and I want to buy wreath frames to make holiday decorations. I am also sitting here looking at the paleness of my skin - when was the last time this body saw any real sunshine?!!

And then there's Gracie.

Y'know I just love her, but she's a bother. She's really just a baby at four months old. Constant. even though she has her own bed, she prefers mine. And not just my bed, but she has to be RIGHT ON TOP OF ME. We're still working on the housebreaking... with minor success. She sort of gets it - sometimes. She is a very good rider in the car, which is surprising. When I went grocery shopping yesterday, I took her with me and she sat quietly. I of course was nervous that the teething puppy would like the BRAND NEW LEATHER SEATS of my brand new Honda CR-V. But she behaved, thank goodness! She is quite willfull, I'll give her that. I've raised and trained several dogs in my lifetime, never one with such a strong will as this little girl. This is my first Weimaraner - maybe it's the German in her...

One thing is for certain, nothing is getting done with me sitting here, so it's off to get the day underway! Enjoy yours!

Monday, November 17, 2008

MannHeim SOO Fine!

As I began easing into this past weekend, my conceptual plan was gardening. Since FPL removed so much vegetation out back, it’s really quite sunny and I’ve been wanting to take advantage of the western exposure. I was going to move most of my potted plants, whack down the stickers and stretch out / repot some plants. Then I began reading some subscription e-mails I get, and one was from concert I”d had it several days or a week, and decided to read it instead of just delete. There it was: Mannheim Steamroller The Christmas Show Saturday November 15, 2008 8:00 PM Broward Performing Arts Center. I bought two tickets for will call, and went on and ordered up a room. Just as I was buying the tickets, Lauren, Kevin, Sarah, Brent and Kelly showed up here, and it was Brent’s birthday and we had tequilla and fun. Sarah has a new puppy, and so does Kelly! Both Labs - Sarah’s is yellow and Kelly’s is chocolate. So it was a puppy party. I had scheduled an appointment first thing Saturday morning in town to get the windows tinted on the CR-V, so I figured I’d figure out the logisitics later.

Saturday morning I went in to town along Metro Parkway. There’s a stretch along Metro that is as close to an industrial zone/park as Lee County has (imho). I walked into the shop that was to tint my windows, and it was obvious they did not have a waiting area. The shopkeeper mentioned a café just a few stores down, and I took him up on it.

These folks are smart. It’s called The American European Bakery. The Bakery is behind the café. The front showcase was full of baked goods, the coffee corner was to the left and there were several tables and booths and several diners. It was 10:00 AM and I grabbed a menu. I say these folks are smart because all the shops along this stretch of Metro are auto repair, tools supply, flooring, etc. So many folks like me need a place to wait while “stuff” is getting done. I ordered the smoked salmon bagel and a cappucino. It was absolutely delicious, more food than I could manage at a super fair price and the café was doing an excellent business. Smart.
Windows tinted, I got back to the Beach around noon thirty. Mind you in my mind I was asking myself what the efff.. did I do last night, buying two tickets and a hotel room… I proceeded with the plan, though, asking Lauren and Kevin to care for Gracie. I put some outfits in a bag, printed confirmations and google-mapped directions.

I love my car. I have to say that because I have not loved a motor vehicle in a very, very long time. I love my Honda CR-V. And now with its new shades, I’m ready for the TC striping… We cruised over the Alley as if we’d caught the tides just right, coasted into the self-park, checked in, and headed for the ice machine.

I showered and dressed, while the TV played the History channel with an episode on the antichrist. Most interesting, actually. I left the hotel 7:15-ish and with google maps in hand, headed to the concert. I followed the directions and found myself next to a driveway and a sign that said something like Event Self Park and pulled in. $12.00. (I read that online the night before). The funny thing is that part of my plan was to use valet parking (only $8 and a tip more) because of being a single female, a stranger in a strange land and in high heels… But I self-parked and merged in with the flow heading to the Performing Arts Center. It was a four or so block walk - no big deal, glad I wore the shoes I did. Will Call was clearly labeled, without any significant line, and I got my tickets within minutes. Inside it was really quite gay with the bar stations , the souvenier and food sales. I bought a small pack of warmed cashews, found my row number, and headed in to the auditorium.
If One was the most expensive and Five was the cheapest, the tickets I bought were a Three. Haha. I was surprised when I walked in, that I had an aisle seat, left of center. The Center was packed like sardines, yet the section in which I sat - had a dozen or so empty seats. I felt special - in an aisle seat, with a great view ,and no one to crowd me!!

Not only was I “by myself”, but I was clearly, “by myself!”. I sat in row LL and there were two people in row JJ, noone in KK,, me in LL… and later two people in MM…
As the music began, I sat through each song recalling how I know each song in my head, as I’ve listened to these tunes over and over again for 20 years. Each performance was so perfect that I found myself focusing on individual musicians/instruments/ performances to see if they were indeed playing, and it was not pre-recorded music. They were, indeed, playing and it was magnificent.
When I returned to the hotel,it was shortly passed 10:00. I went quickly to my room, although I would have loved a nightcap in the lounge. I watched stupid TV for a couple of hours and then called it a night.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eleven Eleven and Other Events

Today is Tuesday, 11.11, Veterans' Day. I had a friend who once told me that whenever I see 11:11, to know that I am loved. It was a priceless sentiment, that brings me joy usually twice a day. Today by virture of its date is very special.
Being veterans' day, I visited my vet, Dr. Patterson. Time for Gracie's second set of shots, and a first good check by her vet. He told me that blues tend to have a skin problem...great. I've decided that Gracie will not! Her coat is beautiful and shall stay that way!

Being an employee of the public sector, today is a recognized holiday. I am so anxious to return to some normalcy. With the upcoming holiday season, it may be very difficult to acheive anything resembling normal, but I shall try.

The weather is beautiful - cool in the early morning, with the high noon sun warming enough for beach goers. We truly do live in paradise. I'm caught between have-to's and want-to's... I have housework and homework to do, and I want to garden or go to the beach. I have a book I'm anxious to finish and some quiet time on the beach in this warm Florida sun, with Gracie snugly by my side...
sounds ideal.
We shall see what the day brings!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

catch up...

What happened to October? Where did it go.. October has traditionally been a very active month for me - most recently active in not-necessarily-enjoyable-events. It seems the last I recall, it was late September and I was preparing for company from up north, and a trip to St. Augustine as part of my career development. The day after returning from st. Augustine, mom was taken to the ER. That was October 12th. The venitlator was removed on October 14, and we were fully prepared for her to pass within hours of that. She died on October 28. What makes the Spirit "decide"? What did mom do for two weeks - in her mind, her spirit - her other world. She spoke of demons and angels, of not knowing what to do, of not being ready or of trying very hard...of calling for help, asking for prayers, asking for mercy.
I am one of ten of her children..number seven (the seventh child of a seventh child). The fifth child, Mary Beth, was murdered in 1981, and in mom's last days, she spoke to her - so they were together in spirit. The remaining 9 of us gathered for her viewing, catholic service, cemetary and then back to her house after the service. Emotions ran high. We're all very strong willed and opinionated. I bit my lip, gritted my teeth and walked away ...frequently. Six of the nine do not live locally. One of the three of us who does - is - mentally, physically, and emotionally challenged. That leaves me and brother Norbert. Trying times, indeed.
I would like to tell you about the "airing of the quilts." and hope that I can put it together for a later entry. In brief, Mom was a master quilter...award winner, featured in Quilters Magazine, TV appearances and many ribbons' winner. Mom had nearly a hundred quilts, wall hangings, various handiwork that she left. We "kids" decided that her estate would be sold and divided nine ways, but that the quilts would stay in the family. We put nine slips of paper in a dish, numbered one through nine, and each seniority. And then we chose quilts until all the quilts were gone. My sister, Debbie, coined it: "The Airing of the Quilts" and it's touching, indeed, and I will write it, complete with a photo or two.
Until then, I wanted to add an entry as it seems i've neglected my journal.
Have I even told you about Gracie!?!
She's a love ! I need to submit photos!!
Until I can rally again,
Thank you my friends for being here for me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our Matriarch

This evening, the family will gather to pay our respects to the life of Kathryn T. DeMars, who passed away on Tuesday, October 28, 2008.  Mom was 88 years old.  She is finally at peace after nearly three years of battling alzheimers, pneumonia, hip fractures and steadily declining health.  Mom wanted a traditional funeral.  This evening visitation will be from 6-8 PM at Memorial Gardens Funeral Home.  Tomorrow at 10:00 AM will be a Catholic Mass at St. Cecelia's, followed by burial at Memorial Gardens.  I've never had to go through this process before... buying a casket, a cemetary plot, a grave stone, picking out an outfit, prayer book and cards, writing an obit, selecting prayer readings and hymns...
Tuesday evening, brother Ken arrived from New York; yesterday, my two eldest sisters arrived from Columbus OH, last night brother from the east coast of FL arrived with his kids, and this morning brother from PA arrives. It's a command performance. The last time all the siblings were together was July 1997, when dad passed away.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball

What a roller coaster ride this past week has been! I returned to work Monday and it was full throttle all week. Midweek, the aides determined that Mom had "plateau -ed" - no regress nor progress. So it was time to move her to a nursing home, which they did on Friday. My Tampa kid came home for the weekend, my niece from Orlando came down, and I had a nice visit Thursday evening with my two daughters (21 & 19) and two nieces (25 & 21). We made strawberry margheritas and nachos, looked at old pictures and laughed so hard we cried! When I returned to work Friday after a late lunch, my desktop computer was completely different from when I had left it - (Mark in IT was installing a DVD software) icons that I'd never seen before and files I had placed on my desktop just that morning were gone. I tried to open Outlook and it started taking me through reconfiguration. I knew that wasn't right, so I decided to restart. When it booted back up, my password was incorrect. I looked around for IT and couldn't find him, so I went back to my office and fired up the laptop... couldn't get on the internet and couldn't access most of the network files. I muttered a few four-letter words and walked in to the break room and pulled out the daily newspaper. I rarely read the newspaper, but when I do, I always scan the classifieds for weimaraner pups for sale - so rarely do you see ads for them. Lo and behold! Weim pups for sale, $650. I tore out the ad, put it in my dayplanner and went back to work. Friday evening, I spent several hours reading everything you ever needed to know about weimaraners and about training a puppy. Mind you, I've raised several puppies over the years - all labs - and I've read everything about weimaraners over and again. Then I pulled out the ad I'd clipped earlier and called the number.Saturday morning, my daughters and I drove to NW Cape Coral and bought a beautiful, 10 week old, blue female weimaraner. My life will not be the same. We brought her home, and since I had to go to Naples to co-sign on an auto loan for Sarah, Lauren agreed to stay and "puppy-sit".  The car thing took longer than I hoped, and I kept thinking about Gracie and noticed that across the street from the auto dealership was PETCO (Where the pets-go). When Sarah drove off in her Honda Element, I headed to PetCo.  I bought a kennel. (Vets and experts all say that's the best way to housetrain a new pup) I bought her brand of food, I bought chew toys, a stainless steel double feeding dish,  a bright blue collar and leash.  (ching-ching!!) When I got home, Lauren was sitting on the couch, with Gracie sleeping right next to her! (Lauren! I don't want her on the couch!! I know, but she's so little! she's not hurting anything!) Sheeshe....Gracie doesn't want any part of the kennel. Don't force her, experts say. Dogs like to have their own "den", experts say.  Well, I guess Gracie never read that stuff, or experts don't know Gracie.  She ended up in my bed last night (I know, I know...). This morning we went for a brief walk.  She's wonderful at following close at my heels.  She is not used to wearing a collar, and frequently scratches at it, but the leash?  NO WAY.  She just stands her ground, or sits down.   I have alot of work to do!  How I'm ever going to be able to go to work tomorrow morning is going to be quite a challenge, indeed.  But Gracie will be a wonderful companion.  It really is wonderful to see my dreams come true.  I made a point to speak of that to my daughters, so they will know that dreams really do come true, and to never lose faith or stop dreaming.  Lauren commented something about "Mom finally got her weimaraner!" to her friend, and I just smiled a knowing smile!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The night watch...

After a brief supper of California Pizza, I returned to Hospice house around 8:00 PM. Mom was sound asleep. My brother Norbert and his wife, and my brother Mark were there. Mary Anne and I chatted loosely while the guys watched baseball. I find TV offensive under the best conditions, sports tv offensive under most conditions. I was having to control my irritation. Mom can't turn over on her own, and because of the tendency to develop sores, we asked that she be turned every couple of hours. It was 8:30 and she'd been on the same side since about 3:30 that afternoon. The staff was unusually busy, with new admissions. They'd been incredibly wonderful - attentive, supportive, kind and compassionate. We hated to "press" them, so we waited and watched the clock. Shortly after 9, a nurse came in and she and I repositioned mom on her back, slightly elevating her head and feet, and added an extra blanket. She looked more comfortable than she had so far. She slept peacefully.
Norbert and Mary Anne left around 11:00, and Mark was snoozing in the lounge chair. The TV was still delivering pitches and play by plays - to no one. I sat patiently. Mark opened his eyes, and sat up and I suggested he go home. Reluctantly, he kissed mom good bye, telling her to "hang in there". Mark is emotionally challenged, and no matter how many times we remind him that it's better to "allow" mom to go when she's ready, and not ask her to "hang in there" - he doesn't get it. We all deal with dying in our own way.
Mark left, I turned off the TV, readjusted the room lighting, and sat down with a book.
The cooridor sounds carried occassional beeps and buzzers, chatter among the aides. Mom's breathing was steady with occasional gasps or gurgles. I would glance up from my book, observe the rise and fall of her chest or the twitch of her mouth then return to my book. I sat with my eyes closed, thinking about my first memory of my mother. I am seven in the line of ten children, and there wasn't much individual time. I remember being four or five and falling on a sharp object and putting a gash in my right knee. I limped crying into the kitchen where mom and my sisters were washing the supper dishes. My memory is of mom's white apron strings as she stood at the sink. "Go on in to the bathroom and I'll be right there" she had said. I was sure I was going to bleed to death before she came in and patched me up.
The nurse popped her head in the door, asked if all was OK, I gave a nod and a smile and she left. Eventually, I readjusted the lighting, pulled a blanket from the drawer, repositioned myself in the lounger and dozed. Mom would gurgle or mumble, bringing me conscious, only to be assured that she was fine and return to my dozing. Around 3:00 AM, mom's mumbling became more aggressive. She began what I call looped language, repeating incoherent phrases over and over. This time is was "please please please... " and then inaudible mumble and then "please please please.." I sat up, held her hand and stroked her forehead. I reassured her all was OK. The nurse heard her and came in. I was being soft spoken, to keep her calm. The nurse, however called her name strongly: "Kaye? what do you want? Kaye? can you hear me?" Mom responded, so I put the lights up. "Do you want some water, Kaye?" the nurse asked. "That would be fine" she replied, so we positioned the straw in her mouth. She drew a little. "She likes ice cream, doesn't she?" the nurse asked. Mom's love of ice cream was well known. "Do you want some ice cream?" the nurse asked "Oh I always would like that!" mom responded. We gave her a few spoonsful, until she said "no more right now" She drifted back to sleep, and so did I.
From my light sleep, I heard a familiar voice in the hallway. It was my brother Mark. "Is Shelly in there?" I heard him ask (he's one of the few that still calls me Shelly - if you ever call me Shelly I may have to hurt you!! ). I looked at the clock and it was 6 AM. I brought the lights up, and sat holding mom's hand. Her eyes darted wide open, just as bright as could be. She began talking incessantly. "I don't know what to do" she would say "Help me" she would plead. I stroked her cheek and said, "Mom. It's Michelle. I"m here..." she said, "My Michelle? OH!" and smiled. It warmed my heart to tears.
Mark came in like a bull in a china shop. Because of his physical and emotional disabilities, he's very indelicate in his movement. Right away he began fidgeting about, placing photos in mom's line of sight, fumbling with a quilt her brought from her home, kissing her on the forehead with such strength that she grimaced and said "stop stop!" Be gentle, Mark! I urged. He immediately took it personally and turned away near tears. I hugged him, told him we all know how much he loves her, and now that he was here, I'd go home.
I'm about to head back in. My nephew from Washington State comes in this evening. Who knows what the day will bring. These are indeed stressful times.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The dying process

The dying process is underway. Mom, who is 88 years old, was unresponsive in her care facility sunday afternoon. The aides did what they are instructed to do - call 911. The EMS immediately put her on a ventilator when it was determined that she was not breathing. She was taken to the ER, and then to ICU. After a series of tests, it was determined that there's "nothing wrong" other than she stopped breathing. The aides in her care facility "interrupted"the dying process. So then the decision is on the family to remove the ventilator. Mom bore 10 children, one of which is now deceased. That leaves 9 to weigh in on the decision.
Mom has a living will, and being artificially sustained is against her wishes. The decision was made to remove the ventilator. We were fully prepared for her to expire once the tube was removed. That was nearly 24 hours ago. She's still breathing on her own.
They moved her out of ICU and into a hospice house. No IV's. No needles, no tests, no tubes, no noise. Peace and comfort. It's just a matter of time, now.
Mom mumbles, gets anxious, loops language, calls out. She mentions names that we can associate with family members who have passed.
I have never feared dying, only the pain that might be associated with it. We asked mom if she was in pain. The nurse was ready with a shot of morphine. Mom said no. She's a tough old bird. Her maiden name is Kessler. Give a clue? She's a stubborn german!!
The dying process. Transition. Passing. All terms and expressions that have little meaning until you are thrust in the middle of it. What do we hold on to, and why?
This is a life-changing event. Undoubtedly. It will change the lives of all my brothers and sisters and of many people who have been brought together and kept together because of one frail little woman called Kathryn Therese DeMars.
May God Bless Her and Keep Her.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

There's no place like home

The only thing constant is change. I have so much constant change in my life, that to change my online journal is just another one of those things. Something else to learn... anew.

I just got home about an hour and a half ago, from St. Augustine. The ride home was far more enjoyable than the ride up. I guess knowing where one is going does wonders for your psyche. Clerk school was good...overall. Florida municipal clerks are a great group of people. The profession is unique, and in florida, with the sunshine laws as stringent as they are, and the overwhelming restrictions, it requires a certain personality to be able to be successful in this type of job. I did my 40 hours of class (woo hoo!!) and submitted my "Ideas to Action" report. Now is the waiting game, to get my certificate of accomplishment, to submit to the International Institute of Municipal Clerks for my designation of Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) . Three long, hard years......

St. Augustine was fun. It is the oldest city in the nation. The cobblestone streets, and historic structures, forts, and just the city's history is enjoyable. One evening, I joined about 30 others on a tour called the "ghosts and gravestones" tour, where actors dress up and take folks to the "oldest home" the "oldest drug store" the "graveyard"... it was hokey, but gave me the opportunity to see sites that I may not otherwise see.

I have some pictures I'd like to share, but I guess I need first to figure out how to post them to this new blog. (If you know and care to tell me so I don't have to

Until we meet again,

Nice to be home.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Oh Help Me

I imagine it seems that the moment AOL announced that journals were closing, i stopped with journal entries.. That's  just a coincidence.  Truth be known, I"ve been incredibly busy.  Now, I'm at the Renaissance Resort at Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida for the Florida Association of City Clerks' Career Development Institute. 

The resort is gorgeous, sumptuous, opulent.  I'm an internet junkie, and t hey want $12.95 a day - noon to noon - for internet access.  not that I'm cheap, but i couldn't even figure out how to connect.  I got bored with that.

Tomorrow, we're taking a tour of 'old town" st. augustine. ..Lots of history.  Lots of good people.  I can't believe it's only Monday night.

I'm bored.

The sessions are boring.  Our afternoon session ended an hour early, because the program coordinators feared a mutiny by the attendees because it was SOOO BORING...!  Project Management <<yawn>> by a monitone presenter who literally read his power point handout to us.... <<double yawn>>. 

Thank goodness for my trusty black berry...even playing "rooster" during boring sessions affords some relief....

Michelle welcomes e-mails to keep her entertained...


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Good Advice

To  my friends who enjoy a glass of wine . . . And those who  don't.

As  Ben Franklin said: 
In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water  there is 
bacteria. In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have 
that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the  year we would 
have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli,  (E.Coli) - bacteria 
found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1  kilo of poop. (that's over 2
However,  we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum,
whiskey  or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification
process of  boiling, filtering and/or fermenting. 
Remember:  Water = Poop, Wine = Health 
Therefore,  it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water
and be full of  shit . 
There  is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm doing it as
a public  service .--

Dreams and Drizzles

Today is drizzly, like a "northern" day.  Growing up in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, we often had days on end of "drizzly weather" - overcast and without a good hard downpour - constant drizzle. 

I did something this morning that I have not done in many many months.  I brewed a pot of coffee! Imagine the novel of it! It smelled so good brewing, that I immediately wondered why I hadn't done so sooner.  A quiet, drizzly Sunday, strong aromatic brew, and correspondences with friends. 

I have some errands I want to run today, but yesterday, my daughter's boyfriend washed my car - what a nice young man!  So, I don't want to take it out in the rain!  (what a woos I am! ) Perhaps later if the skies clear I'll venture out. 

Last night in my dream, I was with co-workers and a few of the town's "whistle-blowers" and I was concerned that we would run out of cream for our coffee.  (Do you think my dream influenced my desire to brew a pot of coffee this morning?) My favorite dream book says Coffee indicates hospitality (I spent time yesterday readying Lauren's bedroom for company); energizer; stimulator; to produce active thoughts; a psychic food.  Of Cream it says, Indulgence.  Furthering in the dream, I left the meeting place (confident there would be enough cream) and was walking down a hallway, when a woman coming toward me greeted me by name and with a sincere, broad grin, approached me, hugged me strongly (so strongly it caught me off guard) and said how happy she was to see me.  I greeted back, and asked if I knew her?  She responded no, but she knew me and was happy to see me.  I replied, "It's nice to meet you, too." And we parted.  Her appearance was common, yet she had a brightness to her - an aura, or glow that was uncommon. I don't recall her mentioning her name, yet I have this thought that her name is "Linda".  It was a very encouraging gesture - perhaps she's a guardian angel. 

In cleaning my daughter's room yesterday, I came across something she had written down:  Pain is inevitable - suffering is not.  I don't know whether  it's original, but it was impressive and memorable.  It also demonstrates an advanced thinking.

   I will leave you with these thoughts for a blessed Sunday - a drizzly, sleeepy lazy Sunday for thoughts and dreams and ruminations. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Slow start to a Saturday

          I awoke this morning after a night of very active dreams. I first woke up at about 5:15 AM, got a drink of water, and quickly decided to go back to bed. My dreams continued. When I opened my eyes again, I could see it was daylight, but either just daylight or it was an overcast day. I got up and went into the kitchen and saw my landlord’s truck pull up out front. It was 9:15! Immediately, he knocked on the door. The “termite guy” was here for a warranty follow-up from a treatment last spring. Of course I hadn’t made my bed and I wasn’t exactly ready for company, but…hey …it’s the bug guy. He came in and did his inspection, and then went next door. I threw some clothes on and went outside to talk to Dana (landlord) about pressure washing the outside, and maybe cleaning the windows. He’s a pleasant man - “a good ole boy” . In addition to co-owning several rental properties throughout the beach (this place included) he runs a tractor business. We talked about the economic down-turn county-wide and he said his business is off about 95%. That’s very sad. “no new construction, no reconstruction - nobody’s spending money unless they absolutely have to” he said.

          With all of that, much of my night of dreams has faded away. Some images remain, however. I was in a hotel. A great deal of my dream involved this hotel - housekeeping knocking on the door, and I answered, saying I’d be checking out at 9:30, to come back then. While we were talking a grey cat with head wounds came in and wouldn’t leave (note: Mr. Needs was a grey cat with head wounds that eventually went to Animal Services…. L ) I recall walking through the lobby interacting with a group of people. Then I found myself standing in a long line. This was check out. When it became my turn , I was signing the folio, however it looked like a standard greenbar servers’ check, and it was multi-paged with carbon. To make matters worse, the counter top was like a bar, and had spots of water so the “check” was wet. I recall my room number, though, and it was 355. It seems to me those numbers have come up in another dream at another time. Then the woman at the counter said, “You need to get the documents from Molly before you leave” and I was puzzled. What? I asked, and she pointed to a woman standing a few feet next to me. “Go see Molly” and I walked over, very puzzled, wondering what could be wrong. She handed me a piece of paper and told me to go see Barbara. I took the paper and walked over to Barbara who said, “ You’d better get busy! You don’t have much time…” and then spread out a poster with all kinds of pictures and headlines and starbursts. “..Because you’ve won a trip to Nevada!” I cried out in surprised pleasure!

          So here it is 10:30 AM and I need to get on with the things I’d decided to do today - last night - before sleeping late and talking termites….. On ward with a smile!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

It’s a most wonderful time of the year!

        Yesterday evening, when leaving work and pedaling my bicycle through the parking lot of the chapel next door, I noticed with astonishment and enjoyment the number of dragon flies in the air. There were so many, that it was really a swarm - a thickness. There were hundreds! I know I said “dragon fly” but that was for the benefit of those that may not know what I would mean should I say, “Skeeter Hawk”. Hundreds darting about just a few feet above my head and higher. I enjoyed them, although at times I felt I needed to duck and be sure to keep my mouth closed! I coasted briefly on my bike while I enjoyed the high speed wings and seemingly erratic darts about. Then I noticed something else: the air was lighter. The heaviness that we experience in the “dead” of summer, the thick, humid air that hangs over us and the pressure that seems to bear down on us during the months of August and September, and during “storm season”… that heaviness was gone. It was an uplifting revelation. I felt confident that the hurricanes of 2008 are behind us.

        This morning, when I first awoke, I noticed that the air conditioning had not kicked on for some time. A check of the thermostat showed it set at 80 degrees. I left this morning, dressed in long pants and a long sleeved shirt, and as I pedaled my bicycle to work along the sneaky/ hidden path and through the chapel parking lot, I felt a breeze. Not just any breeze, but actually a cool breeze! Change is in the Air! I walked into Town Hall and greeted and was greeted by fellow employees and various personnel. In an exchange with one person, I mentioned how pleasant the temperature was, and he said, “Even better tomorrow - they say lows in the low 70’s, 68 inland.”

        Many people comment on how living in south Florida denies them the ability to experience “seasons.” I’ll admit that I love fall - I love leaves turning crimson, the smell of wood stoves, apple orchards and the crispness that fills the air. But after thirty years in south Florida, I see the seasons change… not just the tourist season! or the snowbird season! Last evening, and today, is the seasons’ changing. Change is in the air and it’s beautiful. “northerners’ do spring cleaning. “southerners’ do fall cleaning - when the A/C gets shut off and the windows are flung open and the cool clean air comes through.

        It’s a most wonderful time of the year!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Michelle's Appliance Repair Shop now open for business!

Had to borrow the nut driver from Brother Norbert. I don't know how to use the
sockets with my cordless screwdriver..kept dropping them down inside...maybe that's another YouTube video!

I tested it - it heats, it tumbles! I"m in business!!!



Sunday, September 21, 2008

More than I ever cared to know

Saturday morning chores are a habit that developed early in my life and has stayed with me.  Yesterday was typical.  Laundry was at the top of the list, so I sorted and threw a load in the washer and went on with dishes, etc. The first load went in the dryer and another load in the washer.  I was well into chores when I realized that the load in the dryer was not "drying" - there was heat but no tumble.  A quick text message to brother Ken "is the dryer shot?" to which he responded, it's probably the drive belt- pop the top and see.  OK. I popped the top  (much easier than I imagined) and there it was - a broken drive belt.  How in the heck do you put a new one on?  Googled DIY clothes dryer drive belt and found a great video that showed step by step how to remove the top, the front, pull out the drum and replace the belt.  Simple enough.  I called the local hardware, "Do you carry belts for clothes dryers?" He said, Bring in the old one and I'll match it up" Hopped on the bicycle with the old belt.  "Nope" he said as I walked in,"we only carry (I didn't understand).  Sorry. The closest place would be Ace Hardware."  OK. So I get the car keys and drive up to Ace Hardware (about 8 miles up the road).  I walked ALL around Ace Hardware until finally, two clerks were standing in the aisle and asked if I needed help finding something. Yes, a belt for a clothes dryer.  "Oh, we dont' carry those."  The man speaking was about 6'4" maybe 150 lbs. and well into his 70's.  He had some very poorly made false teeth that overwhelmed his mouth. "Where you want to go is, keep driving up to Cypress Lake Drive, and turn right, then go to 41 and turn right...." and he continued on. I was only seeing those over-sized false teeth, and growing irritated with "turn right" instead of "north, east, south or west" Alright. I had to go to All Appliance Center on 41 in town.  (I hate going into town).  Back in the car, I find All Appliance, pull up in front, and see "Saturday 9:00 AM to Noon.  Of course it's 1:00 PM.  (expletive deleted!).  Practically across the street is Home Depot.   I drive over to Home Depot and walk ALL around Home Depot.  Finally, I ask a clerk.  "No. We don't carry those. You have to go to an appliance center.."  Been there, done that.  So I drove back home. Googled "parts for a clothes dryer", found a site, found a Whirlpool, found the exact belt, added to shopping cart, and went to check out.  "Orders processed before 3:00 PM will ship the same day".  I looked at the time:  3:20 PM. (story of the day, I'd say).  Oh well.  Ordered the belt, paid the $12.00, and took my wet clothes to the laundramat.  I now know more about clothes dryers than I ever cared to know.  When the belt arrives, I'll let you know how it goes fixing the stinkin' thing!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Yesterday, I was fed up with my hair.  Haven't had a haircut in - best I can guess, a year and a half.  It was really looking rough.  So I called my friend's shop, and she had an opening today (thursday) at noon.  I grabbed it. 

Ollie has been cutting my hair for 25 years or so.  (That is, when I actually get it cut).  I have rather good hair - it grows thick, has a natural wave. I don't color it, perm it, rarely curl it and rarely use a hair dryer.  I'm hair lazy, I'll admit, but usually can get away with it.  It was Ollie that first colored my hair:  I remember the day very well.  My younger daughter Lauren was maybe six weeks old.  (She's 19, now).  My parents were visiting and they babysat Sarah and Lauren while I went to Ollie's shop for a cut and color.  I recall my dad's astonished remark that I needed to color my hair "at my age!".  ( I was 33 - my mother was completely grey at 35 and I was close behind).  Ollie told me then that I was "more than 50% grey" and would need a permanent color.  I was reluctant, but I tried it.  I colored my hair for several years but grew real tired of it.  Finally, I said, "enough" and just stopped.  It looked pretty bad as it grew out - using temporary color for awhile.  Anyway, Ollie is a friend and neighbor as well as a salon shop keeper.  She's Portugese and very gregarious.  She understands my hair better than anyone,and that's why I keep going to her.  She knows me, my lifestyle and my hair. 

Well, today she got me.  I would say she removed six inches of hair.  When I say "she got me" I mean that I pretty much let her cut it how she wanted to cut it.  And she did exactly that! She does great work, it's a great cut - conforms to the natural waves my hair has - but it's shorter than I've had it in several years.  The irony, though, is that so much of the length was damaged, that I was usually pulling it back, pinning it up, etc.  Now, this cut is a length of healthy hair, and few people recognized that it's been cut! 

My friend Theresa told me that my cut looked "vibrant!"  Well!! I'll take Vibrant! 



Monday, September 15, 2008

Way station

These words have come to mind:

Reflection    Image     Focus      Mirror

Have you see n Yourself?

Is it the Inner Being

Or is it the Selfish Self?

Another Being can see

your Inner Being

And provide

A clear reflection.

If that Other Being

Has managed to ascend

To where selfish self cannot sustain.

How do you recognize the selfish being ?

Selfishness separates us

from the Universal Consciousness.

Distracts us from the One.

How do you know ?

Guard your every thought. GUARD!

We lock possessions and guard our hearts

When we must micromanage Thought

As it will be your will.

Halt each thought

Identify its motive

Its credentials are kindness, harmlessness,

sincerity and compassion -        

 and unconditional love.


I Love You.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

It was you, wasn’t it? I could barely look at you, my heart was so electrified. I was stunned at your appearance, your presence. I was speechless. You said hello I said hello and I froze.

I knew right then it was you, but I babbled on to the attendant at the counter.

You were as I have pictured - as I had hoped and dreamed.

I was frozen. How would I should I respond?

It was You.

Are you the teacher, or the student?

Am I, the teacher or the student?

It is you and me. When will I see you again?


Friday, September 12, 2008

I Feel for Texas

                                     With IKE aimed at the gulf coast of Texas - a storm the size of the state of Texas - pushing enough water to create a tsunami - a wall easily 20 feet high and as wide as the coast. I went to Google Earth and had an aerial tour of the Galveston and Houston area. This is a very powerful storm and I feel for everyone and thing in its path.

                                  I will be interested in seeing how the “experts” assess the post storm conditions on a “managed beach” or an “unmanaged beach”. From what I saw, Galveston has a hardened structure (the seawall…) the length (or near length) of the island. That alone would make it a managed beach, I think. That’s a hot topic for the Town of Fort Myers Beach. There is a beach (re)nourishment project that has been on the table for over ten years. Many officials and residents are in favor, and many are against. The feds and the state and the county want to move forward, but beach residents have concerns. Anyway, didn’t mean to get into local issues, but I am interested to hear from the coastal engineers, FEMA, etc.

                                    From my Google aerial tour, Galveston has a shape and size similar to Fort Myers Beach. A discussion today with a co-worker, I mentioned that FMB is sometimes called FL’s safest beach, because of how we sit along the gulf coast, a direct hit from a major hurricane is rare.

I feel for Texas.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Only if you’re standing still

I took some moments tonight to sit in my garden . Lately, I ‘ve been working Late- and often get home after sundown. Tonight, I was home by 6:00 PM. So I watched the evening news, which, I haven’t done in a very long time, then I sat out in my garden.

The air was heavy. I made that observation leaving Town Hall on my way home. Today was the first patch of real blue sky in several days. The winds were high, the air was thick. Ike’s debris.

Two twenty-something girls rent next door to me, and we share stairs, porch and parking. They have many young friends, some who ride motorcycles.

As I sat out, a twenty-something man came out and fired up a motorcycle.

I waived hello.

He waived back and we exchanged “how are yous.

And he said, “enjoyin’ a nice night out?

And I said, Yes…

…except the No-Seeums are bad.”

And He said:


“Only if you’re standing still.”

You've Won!

I woke around 5:30 AM and remembered my dream: 

 I dialed a telephone number as a response to a radio announcement to call to win.   I hung up before the call connected.  Then the phone rang, I picked it up and said, “Hello”  A man asked “Is this Michelle?” And I said, “Yes” and he said, “You’ve won!”  "$10.00~!"  and then he asked, “Which sweepstakes were you entered in?” and I replied, “Publishers Clearinghouse, $5,000 a week for life”  and the man then said, “You’ve won $392.00 from our Virginia office, and you’ll be hearing from Louisiana.” 


Then I woke up. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

no techie here...

I'm giggling at the way these hurricane images update themselves.  I dont' have techie knowledge of how that's working.  I right clicked and copied, and pasted and there it is.  But it's great fun now to see the progression!  After the storm dissipates, what will display?  ..watching and waiting, I guess.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

..This Much!

When I look at this forecast, I'm reminded of Maxwell Smart:  "Missed it by this much...!"

Relieved to be out of the "cone" prayers to Texas ....

Saturday, September 6, 2008


i am interested in hearing opinions from you as to the theory that NASA is experimenting with weather control, and failed experiements are resulting in monster storms - Katrina and Rita, and possibly Ike. 


Watching and Waiting

Friday, September 5, 2008

fema sux

Today, we “stood up” the ICS (incident command system) as a result of being in the 5-day cone for Hurricane Ike. I’ve spent two years preparing for a role that was pulled out from under me by nameless personnel, and now I have a new role - one most unclearly defined. I see it as being set up to fail.

I don’t need this. I can happily and merrily (a favorite adverb of mine!) engage in other forms of gainful employment. But I like my job - for the most part. Until all this goofy ICS / aka role play army games crap comes in. I have no tolerance or patience for it. But that’s the FEDs. That’s FEMA That’s the way it is… IT IS WHAT IT IS.

It’s all a part of Government. Government has been very good to me, and my family. Government can continue to be good to me, but perhaps - not in the peninsula of Florida!?

I am venting. I am frustrated, irritated with the whole Fed influence, bureaucratic red tape. And it’s only just begun. I know.

Take me back to simpler, more peaceful times.


Today was another 12-hour day. No rewards, no atta-girls. Suck it up and switch to emergency mode …and when we “stand down”…? ..get your work done in triple time, at lightning speed. if the storm didn’t exist.

I am bitter. I am frustrated.

But. What difference does it all make?



Thursday, September 4, 2008

Silly Season

I worked hard today. My shoulders and neck ache from a full force day. I got home last night after a Council meeting at about 11:30 PM. Wednesday was a 16 hour day. Today started bright and early at 8:30. I woke to what I determined would be a successful day. My head was swarming with “to do’s” for today, some with imminent deadlines. We’re in what our Finance Director calls “silly season” - budget adoption. Florida law has very strict guidelines on how municipalities adopt their annual budget, the forms, timing, even the advertising, down to the number of days between public hearings, the position and placement of the ads, even the size of the font of the title line. With an aggressive Council and a relatively new, and aggressive Town Manager, the budget calendar was set months ago. To fit into the statutory guidelines, staff had a matter of a few short hours to make the recommended changes in the tentative budget and get it to the paper for print. Initially, that was my top priority: meeting budget ad deadline.

The day was one fraught with interruptions, hiccups, challenges. But I persevered, and despite all the other sideline issues, managed to click “SEND” at 11:57 AM…three minutes under the deadline.

Then came Ike. I used to almost enjoy hurricane season - that was before Katrina. Katrina was reason for the feds to institute their bureaucracy in the form of forms and systems and red tape, known as the Incident Command System. Now, if the Town is within the five day cone, we have to stand up the ICS. Of course forecasters are so skittish, that the entire state of Florida is often within the five day cone. It’s tiring playing army. I am so deep in my normal job duties, I don’t have time for war games.

I got home just after sundown, nearly 8:30 PM. That’s a 12 - hour day. Lunch was Chinese delivery for many of the staff - budget time is, truly, silly season. So is hurricane season.

One moment of levity from one of the Town’s more colorful staff members, Ike may be a real bad-ass - look what he did to Tina Turner.

Aw jeeze…


Monday, September 1, 2008

Big Cypress Muck About

Today Theresa and I joined folks on the Muck About in Big Cypress National Preserve.  Following is a series of photos I took.   It's really awesome!  I had a GREAT time!  The water never got over waist high, (my waist, that is - and I"m 5'7"tall) .  Enjoy the photos, and I'll write more later.





Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Quiet Sunday

It’s unusually quiet this morning. Being the dead of summer, nearly every window is shut against the heat and humidity. It’s wet. Weeks of rains and high humidity. No children are outside playing. No birds are merrily singing. The drone of each neighbor’s air conditioning unit occasionally is heard. Feeder bands from Gustav stir the trees into a whirl with brief bursts of rain slammed against the windows. Then all is quiet again. My clock flashes 2:37 - reminding me it wants to be reset after the power outage last night. Stormy weather. A distant rumble of thunder, a swirl of the trees and then stillness. The only sound I hear is the click of my keyboard.

Perhaps I shall stay in bed this morning. I enjoy the soft rosy glow of the Indian Peach walls, the salmon colored shears and the golden flicker of the cypress rose scented candles. They add to the pink blush of my crisp cotton bedding. There is a warmth to this room that doesn’t exist outside of these four walls. I feel very safe.

Friday, August 29, 2008

ONE - Self

After I posted my poem, Self, I sent it to my brother.  He replied with a poem of his own, titled "One" (below).  I asked him if I could post it here in my journal, and he said,

       Sure, it belongs to you and you may use it as you wish. You may want to add a disclaimer that makes reference to the fact that the author has spent the past month on cloud nine.....

I liked it, and I hope you do too...


The caterpillar does not die
It grows into the butterfly

A person's need is not all greed
It is the spark that makes the growing seed

Living life with caring indulgence
Is a life that celebrates abundance

A person with an open heart
Grows to know she's not apart

Just as dust grew to be the sun
We grow to learn we all are one


Wednesday, August 27, 2008


An overshadowing loss,

A feeling described as blue

A mourning is taking place

What else could I do.

Sacrifice the selfish separate self

Deny indulgences and greed

Put away the denials

Suppress the carnal need.

I close my eyes with anticipation

Searching each evening dream

Looking for guidance - perhaps a clue

For a glimpse into the unseen.

The morning comes; I’m not ready

But life goes on, and so must I

I go through the day reminded

The selfish separate self must die.

Your Selfish Separate Self tho’ tough,

At thought of Death, is terrified,

And can quite frighten you,

When looked straight in the eye.

Reflecting back as carnival mirrors,

The master of deception

The Selfish Separate Self will fight,

To maintain its position.

A conscious conditioning

With each spoken breath

To speak my truth with clarity

Put Selfish Separate Self to death.

Speak one’s Truth with Clarity

Is not easy to learn

When bombarded with negativity

Around each daily turn.


-Michelle DeMars Mayher-


::Within and Without

Torn Between and Against

Mirrors on ALL sides

Split Inside and Out

Again and again

Thus is the Ignorant SELF::*

*The Children of The Law of One - The Lost Teachings of Atlantis”


Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting back...

This is somewhat like an overdue response to a correspondence from a friend; the longer it gets from the time you last responded, the harder it is to get to responding. So much to say, so much going on. My last entry was a fairwell to Fay. It looks like now we have to pay attention to Gustav.

Post -Fay, I managed to get caught up on the work that ‘s supposed to be done when we’re not in “Threat level 4” for emergencies. My younger daughter started her second year at the University and I’m enjoying the empty nest - again. She certainly has had an excellent summer vacation!

The weekend was a good opportunity to get back to focusing on MY needs. I decided to do a “detox”. I spent Saturday and Sunday on juices, and for lunch today I began with “Raw”. It’s kind of fun, actually, except for one bad “experiment”. Yesterday afternoon I juiced a whole bunch of stuff: I felt I was getting more fruits than veggies, so I added some spinach and some romaine to some carrots and half of a large beet. I love beets - cooked - even the greens in a salad, but this was my first experience “juicing” one. Wow. Wear gloves , for sure. The experiment probably wouldn’t have been too bad if I’d skipped the romaine, and used about one third of the fresh ginger. It was a struggle to finish it… but I did - not about to waste all that nutrition. A hot cup of lemon tea was quick to chase those lingering tastes. This evening’s meal was a salad with assorted greens, but the tasty part was half of a perfectly ripe avocado with fresh lemon juice. I topped it off with an excellent peach and apple juice, with a touch of ginger. (It was lick-smackin’ good!). We’ll see - not sure I can truly identify my motives… health, discipline, a need to clear my head… all of the above and more.

I have had very interesting dreams lately and I had this nagging feeling that the Universe was trying to get a message to me. That was reason enough to “detox”. So far, my dream clarity has “diminished”! It may be my body actually resting instead of being jolted with caffeine, alcohol, sugars and fats. However “communication” is a key theme for several days, now - and the number “5”. Not quite sure how it all will pan out, but I”ll be sure to let you know.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Good day, Fay

There is barely a occasional drizzle of rain.  It's 6:00 AM and Fay should be beating our beaches.....

hmmm.  unpredictable as weather, Fay's as flighty as a feather....

I just checked out the radar image (btw..there are some wonderful weather sites: is good, is good and is good) it looks like the east coast of FL is getting hit much harder ...harder than we are and I'd venture to say, much harder than the weather folks predicted.

As I stated in a previous post, I've been living in hurricane country for a lot of years.  I don't profess to be an expert, but I've been just as good at reading hurricanes as any layman.  I laugh at some of the local meteorologists.  yesterday, one fellow who looked to be about nine was on the TV with his maps and clickers, and he said "If Fay goes west, we'll have high surf...blah blah...  if Fay goes East, we won't.." Oh spare me. And he gets' paid for that crap?!! 

Yesterday, a local newspaper reporter was in Town Hall and said, "We're ground zero." When I asked what he meant, he said, "We're the main event.  There's national news crews all over the island."  So I asked "Where's Jim Cantori?"  If you follow Jim, you know what the weather channel calls ground zero.  Jim was in Naples, which is just south of us here. 

The last word from the boss yesterday was "don't come to work until I call you."  He's probably up by now, and watching the radar, waiting for Fay to move on by.

Some are disappointed when it's a "non event." Like my neighbors, who are new to SWFL (from Nebraska or some crazy place).  I heard them having a hurricane party, and complaining that this is the worst storm they've ever seen.  I see it as another learning experience. ..and another one down, and another one down. Another one bites the dust...


Monday, August 18, 2008


This fickle thing called Fay

I have lived in South Florida for thirty years. I have been through hurricanes. No two are alike. I have approached hurricanes on a personal level, until recently. In my position as Town Clerk for the Town of Fort Myers Beach, I become, the Public Information Officer..(PIO) within the Incident Command System (ICS). This system is required by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in order for municipalities to get federal aid…aka…reimbursement.

Isn’t government such Alphabet Soup!!?! Acronyms acronyms!!

Friday afternoon, the boss sent an e-mail alerting key personnel to be available by cellphone throughout the weekend.

Saturday morning, the boss called and said I needed to be in the office at 10:30 Sunday morning.

Sunday morning, we were in standup mode.

We had a staff meeting today (Monday) at 8:00 AM. A Town Council meeting at 9:00 AM, to declare a state of local emergency. A “division commander” meeting at 10:00 AM ( I loved this! This is where the “men in uniform” come in… the fire chief, the police captain…haha! And the police guys “touch their guns” when they make statements! (and the fire chief has chewing tobacco in a can..yuck!”)

My role was pretty much to contact the county EOC (acronyms, again…that would be: Emergency Operations Center), establish a communication with the county PIO (that would be, public information officer) and scribe advisories, alert the media, etc. We (as a municipality) are committed to ‘speak with one voice” and so squelching the staff members who feel empowered when approached by the media was a constant housekeeping function,.

I put out advisories on our web site, (if you’d like to see my work: ) on our phone system: 239 765 0202, our hurricane hotline: 239 765 0919 extension 140, and we have a system called Code Red, that auto dials all FMB residents who have registered a phone number with us, to receive a recorded message regarding an emergency situation.

Dr. Steve Lyons is on the weather channel. I love him. He’s the best. Fay is a fickle thing, for sure. The 8:00 advisory has little wind, not too much storm surge… a heep of rain, maybe, but I think we’re outta the woods….

We dodged another one….

So far, so good!

P.S.:  Just for <<fun>>  ! read this:

and realize how crazy storm tracking really is....

welcome to my world....




Thursday, August 14, 2008

About a year ago, Lauren was shopping with me at a Bed, Bath and Beyond, and she stopped at a display of bathroom scales, and said, “ We need a scale.” That was enough for me, so I bought one. I have been overweight by the AMA’s charts since middle school. But lately, I have been losing weight, and it’s quite an interesting study.

About a year ago, I took up kayaking. I did it in order to have a recreational activity that wouldn’t strain my knee. ( I eventually had knee surgery in December 2007). What I found was how many other muscles of the body are used with kayaking. I began to notice how more defined various muscles of mine had become. Then, people began commenting on my body image. One day, the letter carrier came in to the lobby at work. I have known this man for 25 years. He looked at me and said, “ You’ve lost a ton of weight~! “ I was at a meeting for a civic organization, and some friends commented, “ …well, you’ve lost weight….” It was not a conscious effort ,and that’s the beauty of it. Oh it’s not some awesome success story ! Not by any means. But last night I ordered a jacket for myself from a catalog that I have frequently shopped. I’m comfortable with their clothing fit. Recent purchases have been returned for a smaller size. So, last night, I had to force myself to trust that this jacket would be a better fit in a smaller size. That’s the surprise.

From about a year ago this date - give or take a month or so each way - I’m down about 20 pounds, and have decreased body fat and increased muscle, and, have dropped about two clothing sizes.

My dietary habits have changed very little. I use less mayo and more mustard, I go more for proteins than starches - never did and will never eat mammals…

One thing I did…I started about 8 or 10 months’ ago…. Every morning… I have a mantra… It includes various “ I AM….” but relative to weight loss, I say daily, “…Every time I have a bowel movement, I lose body fat.” …..That is the power of Manifestation.

(no sh*t)


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dream Notes

I was standing on a porch of a single family home – not sure whose home…the porch was about four feet off of the ground with a wooden railing.  I was looking out over the lawn which was bordered by tall grass and low trees and bushes (no sidewalks or streets).  I saw several deer – a buck a few doe,  fawns, all huddled together like a nest or den.  I exclaimed “Oh! Look!” and went inside the house and grabbed my camera.  The camera was plugged into the charger.  I grabbed it and ran outside and set the lens view on the deer.  The deer were under water – completely clear, calm water.  This factor was not unusual to me in the dream  (but rather unusual awake!) . I focused on the deer and clicked the shutter, but nothing happened.  Then I noticed there were no batteries in the camera.  At that moment, from the left of the lawn, came a large feline.  It was the size and shape of a lioness, with the spots of a leopard.  It was stalking and stealthily approaching the deer.  I ran inside, grabbed the batteries and ran back out, fumbling to put them in the camera and get a shot.  I dropped them over the railing and was afraid to leave the porch because of the lion/leopard.  I stood on the porch looking at the batteries in the grass below.  Someone… I don’t know who in my waking state, but I knew him in my dream was standing to the right of the porch, but on the lawn and offered to get them for me.  Then I awoke.


I see huge symbolism in this dream, but haven’t put together a possible message or meaning.  If you are reading this and are savvy in dream interpretation, I would welcome any input. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

And in the End.

Somehow I just can't seem to get a grip on "early to bed, early to rise" .  Vacation can be exhausting!  One full work week behind me, and then of course this past weekend's road trip, and I'm plumb tuckered out! It feels good, though, to get through my personal to do list - sell the house, take a vacation to the Pacific NW, buy a car, buy my daughters a car, ...and Some of the fun weird things on my list include taking dance lessons, taking weekend camping trips, figuring out how I'll get a road trip to the Smoky Mountains this fall for the flaming foliage.

But for now, I think it wise to end this day feeling fulfilled, accomplished, happy healthy, wealthy and wise!

OH...P.S,.:  Am I the only one disatisfied with the "mood" choices? 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good times

I just returned from a little weekend getaway.  I drove over to the east coast (of Fla) to visit my brother, Robert and his kids - they live in Dania, which is just south of Fort Lauderdale (he's about 15 minutes from Port Everglades). 

I had several reasons for taking this trip, and not in any order of preference.  I wanted to visit with Robert, and I wanted to do it in a way that he could relax and not be constantly tending to his children.  I wanted him to be able to enjoy a cocktail without worrrying about driving.  Usually, Robert comes over here - to visit Mom, to visit my other two brothers who live here in Lee County.  I used to live in Broward County - in another life - and wanted to see the old stomping grounds.  And I wanted a ROAD TRIP  for the New Car!! 

Last week I bought a 2008 Honda CR-V... "Nighthawk Black Pearl" with "Ivory" leather interior.  SUH -WEET!   I'm just silly-happy with this new ride! 

You who know me, know that I don't drive much. I'm a wimp on the interstate.  Perhaps it's from so many years of being married to a man that always "had" to drive , and did so very aggressively.  Add to it the fact that I live very close to where I work, and bicycle to work.  ..I don't drive much and so when I do, I'm wimpy.  But I decided that I am ready to expand my horizons, and I'd better just get back in the saddle.  With a brand new, fuel efficient vehicle, I have no excuse for road paranoia. 

The ride over was a breeze.  It's about 160 miles or so, Interstate nearly all of tthose miles, with 70 mph speed.  I love driving over Alligator Alley.  I remember when it was a narrow, dark two lane road with no rest areas or call boxes.  The speed limit was 65 daylight and 55 nighttime.  The panther crossings weren't in place and the fencing along the canals didn't exist.  The alligators basked all along the shores and frequently wondered onto the highway.  Now it's pretty super duper.  There are four lanes, with several rest areas,  fences, call boxes, all the modern conveniences.  The toll now is $2.50 (one way) and well worth it.  From toll booth to toll booth it's about 80 miles. I popped in some fave tunes, set the cruise control at 70 and just hummed along. 

The other side of the alley scares the crap out of me.  595 is a nightmare.  There's sometimes six and seven lanes coming from all directions, cloverleafing all around.  And those crazy east coasters drive like coke freaks.  Seventy miles an hour is crawling, and if you don't change lanes every ten seconds you're an old fart.  Several times I touched my bracelet and reminded myself "Courage". 

It was great visiting with Robert.  He was relaxed and candid and we shared a couple of bottles of wine and ate shrimp and chips and dip. We visited with a neighbor who is having a rough go of things, as his wife just left him with a five year old.  Bob's boys are something to see - they're 19 and 17 and probably six foot four and three hundred pounds.  But it was fun - they got to 'show off' their "ride(s)" and the woofers and tweeters or whatever. 

On the return trip across the alley, I hit some torrential rains.  Traffic slowed to a four-way-flashers speed of about forty for about five miles.  The rain over the 'glades is breathtakingly beautiful.  The darkness over the green sea of grass is nature at its finest.  Having cleared the rain and resumed to normal conditions, I was on cruise control, listening to Eric Clapton and feeling all groovy, when suddenly there was a car in front of me that was backing up across the two north bound lanes! WHAT AN IDIOT!  I slammed the brakes, of course, but was ever watchful of the semi that was on my ass.  All ended well, by the grace of God, I imagine. 

On several occasions, cars would be pulled off to the side of the road.  I recognized the signs of motorists with small children that "had to go!" and they'd be pulled over with the doors open to act as shields.  (no trees!)  Occasionally there'd be a vehicle broken down, some with drivers, a few without.  Then I saw a really strange sight:  A white pickup truck was pulled off the road with the passenger side door open.  I saw two people next to the door and as I got closer, I could see that they were Dancing!  He was spinning her and they were dancing.  ...One can only imagine.  (must be those crazy Miccousukees! )

Good trip, good time.