Thursday, February 27, 2014

Are You Older Than Sliced Bread?


 I thought this was really funny when I read it.
Betty White is older than sliced bread.
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Sliced bread was introduced in 1928 by inventor Otto Frederick Rohwedder. Before this moment, bread was sold in whole loaves as bakers didn't trust sliced bread couldstay fresh. Betty White was born in 1922 and spent her early years not eating sliced bread. But White recently celebrated her 92nd birthday, which means she's been able to experience the first "greatest invention" much longer than most of us.
And quite frankly there are days when I feel older than sliced bread.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sometimes It Pays To Be Old

While trolling through the local newspaper recently I read an article about why the county was raising our property taxes.  Seems that a couple of years ago they had given seniors a break on their property taxes so now they needed more money.  Wait, we're seniors, we're older than dirt, would we qualify for the tax break or was there an income qualification?
So today off through the rain we went to the tax assessor's office to pick up the paper work, they wouldn't send it and we couldn't access it online.  But that's ok, they printed the document out, we carried it downstairs, waited in line and the cheerful lady who took our paperwork said that there was no income qualification just age, so beginning with this year we'd save almost $1000 on our property taxes.
Boy we're two very happy old f***s.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Desert Island Books

A few days ago CroMagnon wrote about the 8 books he would take with him to a desert island, as opposed to records.  He asked what we'd take and I had to do a bit of thinking about this as  he had chosen both books from his childhood and adult reading.  I went upstairs to study my bookshelves, that's where I keep my forever books, books I'll never give away, there are 3 cases of them and I had to whittle it down to 8 books.  Hard, hard work.
Here's what I came up with:


1.Skystone by Jack Whyte
       
He has written the best books about King Arthur and this is the first in the series, can't remember how many times I've read it, but I know I'll read it again.










2.  The Conquering Family by Thomas B. Costain
The first in a 4 book series about the Plantagenet rulers of England.  Again a series I've read numerous times and it still fascinates me.











3.  The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson  His interpretation of how English came to be.  I'm utterly fascinated by the etymology of languages.











4.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll  I read a lot of fantasy as a child, but this is the on that sticks with me and I find it more of an adult book than a childs.














5.  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen  I love all of her books, but chose this one because of its theme, what's more important our emotions or our intellect.















6.  Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey  I've read a ton of books about Richard III, but this is the one I keep returning to, just a slim little volume, but so enjoyable.








7.  Dreams Underfoot by Charles DeLint   He has written a number of books about urban fantasy and this is a particular favorite of mine.








8.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern  Because tales of magic will always fascinate me.










Which 8 would you take with you?

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Book Review, A Movie Review and a Tool Review---Kind Of

The book is House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, obviously not a new book.  I take my time reading classic novels having had far too many of them shoved down me when I was  way too young to appreciate them.  Having read her  Age of Innocence and really liking it  I decided to read House of Mirth, it was free for Kindle so nothing to lose.  Well  I'm so glad I got it, I liked it even better than the previous book.   She writes so well, drawing dazzling pictures of the gilded age and the persona inhabiting it, old New York and the rich families who ruled society.
It's the story of Lily Bart whose only "coin" is her beauty.  She must trade it for a life of wealth and security, yet each time she has an opportunity to wed she finds she can't do it, that it would destroy the core of what she really is.
Society is most unforgiving of young women of limited means and they must take pains to protect their reputation.  Through a series of misunderstandings and bad luck Lily learns who her true friends are.
Not a house of mirth at all, but rather a very sad one. I liked it so much I ordered another of her books. I won't be deleting this one  from my Kindle, I foresee me returning to it and reading it many times.

 The movie is My Afternoons With Margariette starring Gerard Depardieu (Germain) and Gisele
Casadejesus (Margeurrite).  A wonderful  little French movie about the unlikely friendship between a not so bright handy man and a lovely old lady (in her 90's).  They meet at a park where they both count the pigeons and he tells her the names he has for them including one named Margueritte and she tells him that's her name too.   From there grows their friendship and she begins to read him books  (Camus no less) .  Along the way we see flashbacks of his life, meet his Mother and his friends all of which goes a long way towards explaining him as a person.  It's not a spectacular film, but rather a sweet one.  Neither of us are particular fans of Depardieu, but found him quite good in this film and the actress playing Marguerrite was wonderful
Ravioli Maker
My "tool" review is of my ravioli maker.  For years I've been trying to make raviolis without much success.  I was given a pasta maker, it was hard to use, almost took 2 people to operate it and never made the dough like I wanted.  Someone suggested just using a rolling pin so I decided to try that.  I also had a ravioli maker that I'd been given, so I found a recipe on Pinterest, followed it, let my dough rest, read the directions on the ravioli maker and attempted to make raviolis.  What I made was a most spectacular mess.  I give up.  The dough stuck to everything. My ravioli making days are over and my  tools are now listed on ebay,  I'll buy my ravioli.
Pasta Maker

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Poor Garden

Coastal Georgia is subtropical and we grow many plants that don't do well in a cold winter.  That's usually ok, but not this year.  Too many sub-freezing days, too much frost.  Our orange trees were really burned and I'm afraid my Gardenias may be beyond redemption.  Usually our Camellia is blooming at this time of year, but alas what few buds that were on it have fallen off.  I'm worried about my Snowball tree, it looks very sad.  All my Asparagus ferns that I've had since the first year we were here are all burned and will have to be cut back--hopefully they'll grow back.
I've been looking at plant catalogues, but I'm afraid to order anything, I have a feeling that spring will be late this year.  I have daffodils  and paper whites growing inside and I guess I'll have to get more indoor plants if I want to see any flowers.
Last week at this time our highs were in the 30's and 40's, it is supposed to be around 80º today.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Domestic Violence

No, not that kind, it's the kind where dirt and grime get attacked and hopefully removed.  Mac,  in a seek and destroy mode decided to take down my antique jugs, give them a good cleaning, spray them with a clear coat to keep grunge from sinking into the pottery and then cleaned the tops of my cabinets.
It wasn't a pretty sight, but it's looking better now.
Meanwhile I Swiffered up enough fur to make a new cat, I wonder how much of that makes its way into our lungs.
Time to get lunch going, we're having pork schnitzel, noodles (instead of späetzle) and fresh green beans.
Doing lots of housework always makes me feel like a Putzfrau---a German cleaning lady---so German food seemed appropriate.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

                                                                       Round here  Roses are red and frozen
                             Violets are blue and cold
                             But the man I have chosen
                             Sees to it that I have chocolate to hold

Well, actually to eat, I love chocolate,  as I've said in the past I'd eat anything covered in chocolate, ants, grasshoppers, a '56 Chevy, doesn't matter, if it has chocolate I'm eating.  And Godiva chocolate is my favorite.  So thank you Mac!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Everglades III

Everglades Gulf Coast Visitor's Center
Each day as we sat down in the evening I'd say, "The airboat ride was the highlight of the trip."  Or, "The boardwalks were the highlight."  But at the end I have to say that it was the guided boat ride through the mangrove swamps that truly amazed me.
We left from the Everglades Gulf Coast Visitor Center around 3 in the afternoon.  The boat could carry 6, but there were just 4 of us, Mac and me and a couple from China, plus the Captain.  We headed out through the Estuary, a very shallow bay that was  often only 6 feet deep, and at times we had to go very slow because we were entering manatee areas.  Never saw any, but we had to go slowly anyway.
Our Boat for the Guided Trip
From the estuary we headed towards the Turner River and the mangrove forests.  There are 3 types of mangroves, red, black and and white. They all look very much alike though.   Mangroves are very distinctive because of their prop roots spreading every where and looking "snakey" as all get out.  They provide stability for the tree and take in extra oxygen.
Heading Into the Mangroves
Click to see the "snakey" roots
While heading towards the mangrove tunnels, where the trees would grow so thickly they'd form tunnels that our boat could barely navigate, we saw osprey, one feeding on a fish it had caught and one near its nest which was huge.  We also saw a bald eagle, but the osprey drove it off, they're very territorial.  We also saw shell mounds left by the Calusa Indians (also known as the Shell Indians because of their use of shells and and mounds they left) who use to inhabit this area before the Spanish came.  They were a rather warlike tribe that were eventually descimated by war and disease.
Shell Mounds
Once in the tunnels we saw Tri-color Herons, alligators (though only a couple) and flocks of Ibis that would take flight as we moved slowly through the water.  They couldn't fly high because of the enclosing branches and it all looked like highlights from a National Geographic special.  I was totally in awe.  Mac started snapping pictures with our camera and I grabbed my i-phone and stated clicking away.  It was incredible.
Osprey Nes
Heron

Mangrove Tunnel

Ibis in flight

More Ibis
Osprey
The whole trip took nearly 2 hours and I would have done again the next day if we'd had time.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Everglades II


The next day, because it was already in the 80's, we decided to get our walks in early and headed to Big Cypress Bend Recreation area along highway 41 (the Tamiami Trail)  to do a boardwalk----there are numerous boardwalks throughout the park and this was one of the longer ones.   The boardwalk is about 2 miles round trip and leads you deep into a cypress swamp.  Along the way we saw a baby alligator, a snake sunning itself on a log, a pair of nesting bald eagles and so much more.  This area is home to 44 species of orchids and 14 bromeliads (airplants).  We didn't see any orchids, but we saw numerous bromeliads and some of them had started blooming.
The Boardwalk
The Swamp
Strangler Fig
Baby Alligator
Bald Eagle to left, Nest to Right
Bromeliad





From there we drove to a smaller boardwalk for alligator viewing and they were huge!!!!
Then it was to the Kirby Sorter boardwalk that leads you from dry grasslands to deep in a cypress swamp.  It was full of birds and very atmospheric.









Friday, February 7, 2014

There and Back Again

Our Cabin and Rental Car
After 10 years of saying we really should go, we finally went down to the Everglades for an exploratory visit and fell in love.  It was wonderful, more spectacular than we'd ever imagined.
We had rented a cabin on the water with its own dock in Everglade City; it had to be on the water because Mac loves to fish (strictly catch and release).
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Monday afternoon after a relatively painless flight from Savannah, picked up our rental car, a quick stop to buy groceries and we were on our way.  We drove along I-75, also known as Alligator Alley, and soon were driving along the water and everywhere there were flocks of birds----I don't mean little song birds, I mean flocks of Ibis, Heron, Cormorants and Ahingas.  I had never seen anything like it.
Our Dock
As soon as we got to the cabin Mac set his fishing up  and started a working relationship with all the pelicans that sat on the docks and were floating in the water.and then we walked across the street to one of the entrances to the Everglade National Park.  This was a water entrance meaning the park on the Gulf of Mexico side is only accessed by boat.  We talked to the Park Ranger and were given maps and information about what was available at all the Park stops along route 41 (a short drive from us).  We couldn't wait to get started.
Mac's Fishing Buddies
At check-in the  lady at reception had also given us maps and made a few recommendations and so the next morning we took her advice and went in search of an airboat ride.  I've always wanted to do this, Mac says it's from watching Flipper as a kid and seeing people flying around in these boats.  Anyway we found the recommended site (Wooten's) paid our fare, checked out the huge, and I do mean huge alligators lazing around and were soon on a 10 passenger airboat zooming through the Big Cypress National Preserve, absolutely wonderful.  We alternated between speeding and going slow so we could have a good look at things.  Lots of alligators, many ibis, just incredible.
Airboat








These Were All Taken on the Airboat Ride


From there we drove to the Shark Valley Recreation area because we wanted to rent bikes.  It was about a half hour drive down route 41, lots of stopping places along the way with trails and wooden walkways to explore---but that was for the next day.
Made it to the recreation area, had to wait for a parking spot (very limited parking), but not too long and we chatted with the Ranger while we waited.  Once inside the park I rented bikes while Mac made a pit stop.  Now I haven't been on a bike in about 15 years, but Mrs. Micawber. whom I read every day,  is an avid bike rider and one doesn't really forget how to do it, so I wasn't worried.  Fell off as soon as I got on, got back on, figured out the steering was really sloppy, had to be careful about oversteering, and off we went down the bike path.

Now we have alligators here in Georgia, nearly always have one living in the lagoon out back, but Florida has ALLIGATORS , they were huge, lounging all over the place and we're not talking tame animals here, in fact I had to sign a release of liability before we could take the bikes out.  The real highlight was having a LARGE alligator cross the path and then lay down next to her young alligators.
Soon it was too hot for more riding so we headed back to the beginning.
Baby Alligators
Lunch was had at a roadside cafe on the Miccosucki reservation (Tippy's) where huge hamburgers we consumed and even bigger alligators were observed.  The Indian villages, and there were a number of them within the park all had houses, both old and new that roofs thatched with palmetto fiber
Miccosucki Style Building
.  So cool, reminded me of English thatched cottages.
Back at the cabin Mac fished and I just watched.  What an incredible day.
Tomorrow will be boardwalks and a boat ride through the mangrove swamps.












Alligator Joins Us For Lunch




Sunday, February 2, 2014

Good Bye January

....and don't let the door hit you in the back as you leave.  I know that Puxatawny Phil has decreed that we'll have 6 more weeks of winter,  having seen his shadow, but I don't care.  It's glorious here today, well up into the 70's and into the 80's tomorrow.  January was awful, the worse one we've seen in the 10 years we've lived here.  Just thinking about the electric bill (we're an all electric house) gives me nightmares.
We got through the winter storm last week with very cold temperatures, but no snow or ice, just some rain and sleet.
I had doctor's appointments on Tuesday, one with my retina specialist to make sure that all was still stable, and it was.  The other appointment is one I hate, dread, put off as long as I can and then worry until I get the results.  You know the one I mean, where they put part of your body in a vise, smash it flat and take pictures, yep that test.  Well, it's over and done with for another 2 years (I decided I only needed that much excitement in my life every 2 years) and the results were fine.
Mac always buys me a gift when I go for this appointment to cheer me up and this year's gift brought a big smile to my face---how cute---artichoke tealights.
Late in the week he also got me a bonsai tree and more Paperwhites in an adorable pink "pot".  My other Paperwhites are already blooming and smell heavenly.
So good bye January and hello February, let's make it short and sweet.