Work songs are traditional songs found in many cultures that coordinate the efforts of people working together. They also provide relief from monotony and form bonds among workers.
I first became aware of work songs as a nine-year old piano student learning to play “The Volga Boatmen.” As a young adult working in a clothing factory and in a printing company, I heard other workers singing along with Loretta Lynne and Elvis Presley as they did their routine work.
Here are some examples of work songs:
Wellerman (Sea Shanty)
Pick a Bale of Cotton
The Song of the Volga Boatmen
(in English and Russian, with beautiful paintings)
For a cautiously optimistic view of saving our planet, go to YouTube and type “Chasing Carbon Zero/PBS/NOVA/Full Documentary.” in the search bar. This worked for me. (When I tried posting the URL, there was a message that the video was unavailable.)
Arctic terns at Ten Thousand Islands, one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. The green shrub on the left is a mangrove, and the green in the distance is a very large mangrove island. Photo by Ellen Maher.
Birds Fishing in the Mangrove Forest
safe perch for arctic terns.
Inches above the waves, they find
Osprey, also called a fish hawk, feeding its chicks. Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash.
green in a sea of blue.
Ospreys soar majestically in
Anhinga, also called a snake bird for its long neck. Photo by Mac Weaver from Unsplash.
to fish underwater,
spreads water-soaked wings to dry in
Great egret flying and two snowy egrets wading in the water. Photo by William Foley from Unsplash.
egrets stand motionless,
fishing in the shallows,
alert, their long, sharp beaks poised to
Pelican in Everglades National Park near Ten Thousand Islands. Photo by Ellen Maher.
at Ten Thousand Islands.
Seeking a little bedtime snack,
Pelican flying near Ten Thousand Islands at Everglades National Park. Photo by Ellen Maher.
This poem woke me up in the middle of the night a few nights ago, so I got up and wrote a rough draft before going back to sleep. You may also have had similar experiences. I would be interested in hearing about writing inspirations from your dreams or those that wake you up demanding to be written. ❤
Please Note: This post was written from my own experiences in Florida. I learned about environmental topics from news and documentaries, and I did some basic research while writing poems about Florida animals. I am not a scientist, just a retired elementary school teacher who cares about the environment.
It’s a big world! Please feel free to provide additional information from your experiences and perspective in the comments. Thank you. 🙂
A bottlenose Dolphin surfaces at Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades National Park, near Florida City, Florida. Dolphins here are smaller than those in the open ocean, and water tends to be shallow, about eight feet deep in most places. Mangrove islands are in the background. Photo by Katey Batavia.
In the Mangrove Forest
Serenely we sail over sparkling seas
under a cloudless, boundless, bright, blue sky.
Aloft, uplifted by auspicious breeze,
above green mangrove islands, ospreys fly.
Calusas in canoes once feasted here;
shell middens at campsites made islands rise.
Homesteaders came, some island land to clear,
but nature soon reclaimed her paradise.
In wakes of boats, the friendly dolphins play,
delightful as they were in olden days!
Shell middens are mounds of shells left behind from Native American seafood meals. The mounds may also contain bones, pottery shards, and other discarded materials. At Ten Thousand Islands, you can identify islands with shell middens by their slightly higher altitude. Trees grow atop the middens, rising above the surrounding mangroves.
Osprey chicks are growing up in a nest of sticks built atop this sign and safe from most predators. Everglades National Park, Ten Thousand Islands, near Florida City, Florida.
These mangrove shrubs spread by extending aerial roots down through the salt water into the soil. In Ten Thousand Islands, mangroves have formed about fourteen thousand islands, comprising one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. Photo by Katey Batavia.
Cattails and mangroves growing along the Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida. Photo by Ellen Maher.
Havana/Miami mural at Havana Spice Restaurant portrays the family’s emigration to the US. Photo by Katey.
Light and crispy fried plantains at the Havana Spice Restaurant. Photo by Ellen.
Chickee hut breakfasts,
stone crab claws, Cuban cafes,
Indian fry bread.
A rooster turns a tortoise into a taxi at Robert is Here.
Geese on parade at Robert is Here.
Goats at Robert is Here seem to be having a difference of opinion, or maybe they are competing for the affections of the cute goat watching them from above.
emus, chickens, geese, and goats
at “Robert is Here.”
We enjoyed the fruit we bought at Robert is Here. Ellen made this fruit platter to go with cheese omelets Cheryl cooked for breakfast back home in Port Charlotte. Photo by Ellen.
Cheryl likes the antique tractors at Robert is Here. Photo by Katey.
Honey, candy, fruit,
antique tractors, kiddie cars
at “Robert is Here.”
Sunset at Gulf Coast Visitor Center, near Everglades City, Florida. Photo by Ellen.
Katey, Ellen, and Cheryl… wet and windblown after an exciting cruise on Biscayne Bay. Visitor center at Biscayne National Park.
of joyous days together.
Back home to Robert.
Katey takes a selfie at Englewood Beach.
Ellen captured this view of the surf at Englewood Beach.
Lunching with Robert
at breezy Englewood Beach.
Great day for a swim!
I wonder what antics the goats are up to back at Robert is Here. Are they remembering Katey and all the romaine lettuce she fed them? Photo by Katey.
Bye, Ellen, Katey…
warm smiles, warm hugs, warm wishes…
Safe trip! Come back soon!
The majority of these photos were taken by Ellen Maher and Katey Batavia with their i-phones. I am not sure who took some of the photos. A few photos were taken by Cheryl Batavia and kind volunteers. Thank you to Katey for emailing the photos to me.
Thank you to Ellen for driving several thousand miles on this trip.
Thank you to both of my daughters for making it possible for me to take a trip I could not have taken by myself. They were wonderful company!
The visitor center has a beautiful short boardwalk among the mangroves and superb indoor and outdoor exhibits about the history and ecology of the area.
Also available: backcountry hiking and camping.
Everglades National Park
We enjoyed the Ten Thousand Islands Boat Tour at Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Our guide explained the history of the area and gave information about various plants and animals we saw.
Also available are boat tours at Flamingo Visitor Center, the only place in the park to see flamingos and saltwater crocodiles. Shark Valley Visitor Center features a tram tour and an observation tower. Anhinga Trail and Gumbo Limbo Trail are at Royal Palm Visitor Center. Kayak and canoe rentals and tours are available at several locations in the park.
Biscayne National Park
Most of this park is underwater. We enjoyed a boat tour to Boca Chita Lighthouse. We spent an hour touring the lighthouse and the island, once part of the Deering Estate. Our guide gave a very interesting history of the park and talked about the environmental challenges the park is facing due to rising sea levels. We saw Turkey Neck Nuclear Power Plant in the distance and learned that the power plant is surrounded by warmer water that sustains a population of saltwater crocodiles.
Also available are snorkeling and diving tours where you can explore shipwrecks on the bottom of Biscayne Bay.
Robert Is Here, Homestead, Florida
This is a fruit stand founded by Robert in 1959 when he was six years old. Robert still works at his fruit stand, which features locally-grown vegetables and about one hundred varieties of locally-grown exotic tropical fruits, some from Robert’s own farms. Service is friendly and helpful. They made sure that we had chosen the best fruit and packed it on ice to make sure it got home safely. There is also a huge assortment of raw Florida honey, preserves, candy, and baked goods.
You can enjoy a lunch of tropical fruit smoothies and pulled pork barbecue while you are here. The fresh coconut water is awesome!
On the premises is a large animal enclosure where you can feed giant tortoises, Brahma calves, emus, chickens, geese, turkeys, and goats. Ellen had the emu eating pellets out of her hand. This is the most beautiful animal enclosure of its kind that I have ever seen! There is also an aviary with tropical birds and parrots who like to converse with visitors. Scattered throughout the grounds is Robert’s collection of antique tractors. Tricycles and kiddie cars are provided for young visitors to ride.
Miccosukee Indian Village
Outdoor exhibits are located in several chickee huts and demonstrate traditional Miccosukee life. There is an alligator show and an observation platform overlooking the marsh. There are picnic areas and a small indoor museum of Miccosukeee history. The gift shop displays hand-crafted traditional clothing and jewelry, books, and other souvenirs.
Across the road, you can take an airboat tour of the “River of Grass.” I have taken many classes to visit the village and to take an airboat tour. The guides were always knowledgeable and informative. Here, as in the national parks we visited, you will learn about preserving the natural environment.
Indian villages are scattered throughout Everglades National Park along US 41. There are multiple airboat operators and some small restaurants featuring traditional Miccosukee cuisine. Alligator and Indian fry bread are likely to be included on the menus.
The beach is still lovely, but crowded and noisy. I did not enjoy the loud music, pervasive Jamaican cigar and marijuana smoke, constant racket of small planes flying up and down the beach advertising parties at local night clubs, and incessant chatter of other beachgoers. If you go to Miami Beach, you will see a lot of Brazilian bikinis and maybe some bare bosoms. Be prepared for horrendous traffic and very steep prices. We paid $20 for two hours of valet parking, $20 to rent an umbrella, and $20 to rent a chaise lounge. A large bottle of Pelligrino sparkling water was $9.
If you have a big budget and lots of time to spend, there are many great attractions in the surrounding area. I have listed a few that I enjoyed in the seven years I lived in Miami Beach and at various times in the twenty years since then:
Bayside in Miami, Miami Beach historic art deco district, Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Jungle Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Viscaya mansion and grounds, a gorgeous world-class concert hall and opera house in Miami, Miami Beach Ballet Company, Miami Beach Symphony, Miami Metro Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, and boat tours featuring celebrity homes on the islands. Miami holds an annual book fair which I attended five years ago.
There are glitzy, huge new cruise terminals. If you are a sports fan, you might enjoy Marlins baseball or Miami Dolphins football. If you like to wager, consider nearby jailai or horse racing.
This list just scratches the surface of things to discover in Miami/Miami Beach.
South Florida Restaurants We Love
Triad Seafood Market and Waterfront Cafe, Everglades City, Florida
We ate outside overlooking a lovely water view. Ellen and I split an order of very fresh stone crab claws with mustard sauce. Our hush puppies and sweet potato fries were great! We enjoyed a delicious salad composed of spring mix, walnuts, dried cranberries, red onions, tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing. Katey, not a fan of seafood, ordered a cheeseburger and salad, which she said were very good.
Roasters ‘N Toasters New York Deli, Miami Beach, Florida
Ernie and Richie’s was our neighborhood Jewish deli when we lived in Miami Beach twenty years ago. Roasters ‘N Toasters replaced it and maintains a similar vibe and menu. Katey and I split a delicious Reuben on rye sandwich. My Caesar salad came with a homemade garlic dressing. Ellen’s chopped liver sandwich was intensely flavored and good. The carrot cake with cream cheese icing that we shared had many thin layers and was suitably decadent. The flakey rugelach cookies were made with dark chocolate and flavored with cinnamon. Katey and Ellen liked the matzo ball soup. We all loved the well-prepared latkes with sour cream and apple sauce.
Havana Spice Restaurant, Homestead, Florida
This is a really wonderful Cuban family restaurant with fun, funky decor. We ate there twice. Ellen and Katey enjoyed Cuban coffee and expresso. I ordered my favorite, lechon asado (Cuban roast pork.) It is marinated with mojo (bitter orange) sauce and slow-cooked with onions. I also liked their maduros (fried ripe plantains.)
The second time we ate there, Ellen and I shared a big plate of sliced fried plantains that were unbelievably light and crispy. I tried guava cheesecake, which was very sweet. I wished I had gotten my favorite, flan (baked egg custard.) It looked great in the dessert case!
*Having gained several pounds on our vacation, I have returned to my usual low-carb diet.
My daughters, Ellen and Katey, will be visiting from Texas, March fifth through the eleventh. Our eagerly-awaited four-day road trip will take us through Everglades National Park to Miami Beach and Biscayne National Park.
We have planned two boat tours, a day at the beach, a visit to the Miccosukee Indian Village, and a walk across the saltwater marsh that I once enjoyed nearly forty years ago. We look forward to encounters with alligators, dolphins, and colorful tropical birds. Local seafood, Cuban cuisine, barbeque, and matzo ball soup are also on our itinerary.
I will share stories and photos of our trip when we return.
Ongoing Effects of Hurricane Ian & Other Disasters
I think the internet is finally fixed! Monday the technician tightened a loose wire at the central box! Our internet, TV, and house phones were off for five days, the third such outage since the hurricane shook things up. Robert is out $250 for a modem the internet provider had recommended. It didn’t solve the problem, and Robert returned it, but they said they had never received it and refused to refund the money.
I got up one morning last week and discovered that a tree had fallen from the wooded lot behind us onto the power company right-of-way behind our house… five months after the hurricane!
It cost $1, 200 to get this large oak tree cut up and removed. The new roof, wall repairs, and previous tree removal are covered by homeowner’s insurance, but not this tree!
What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world
and loses his own soul?
Bible, New International Version, Mark 8:36
No good deed goes unpunished!
A corrupt quartet
sought profit from others’ loss,
but karma stepped in!
Inflicting loss on others,
without gain, they sold their souls.
On Saturday afternoon, I was shopping at Publix supermarket when a woman, who apparently spoke little English, came up from behind me. Saying “Please,” she pointed and gestured for me to reach a product on a high shelf for her. Two times I tried, and she shook her head, but the third time I handed her the item, and she said,”Thank you.” When I went to the checkout a few minutes later, I discovered that my wallet was missing.
Suddenly, I realized the significance of my encounter with the woman and told a manager what had happened. Publix security cameras clearly showed a man acting as a lookout, a woman distracting me by asking me for help, and another woman removing my wallet from my tote bag in five seconds! The theft was recorded at 3:59. At 4:15, before I even missed my wallet, the security camera at the Walmart across a four-lane highway recorded the thieves trying to use my credit cards to pay for $504.94 worth of drinks and other groceries.There must have been a fourth person filling the cart at Walmart while the other three were robbing me.
All the cards they tried to use were declined because the credit card companies’ records show that I rarely spend more than $100 at the grocery store. All the four thieves got for their trouble was $8 in cash and incriminating videos in two stores. I hope they are caught and can never again do this to anyone else!
The wallet contained my drivers license, voter registration card, insurance and credit cards, checkbook, and my $450 car key fob. I will never again put my key fob, check book, and every card I possess in my wallet. I will never again leave my wallet in a tote bag, but will carry it in a small cross-body purse or a fanny pack. You are never too old to learn to do things differently!
A Publix Manager said that in the seven years he had been at the store, no customer had ever been robbed. Lucky me…I am the first! After I waited for two hours at Publix for the police, The manager gave me my groceries for free, and one of the Publix employees took me home and brought Robert back to pick up the car. I soon had to return to the store to fill out a police report. Finally, late that night, I got a chance to cancel my cards and order new ones.
The next three days were spent at Motor Vehicles (twice) who wanted proof of residence, the bank (twice), who needed my driver’s license, and the bureau of elections. I had to change my checking account and online banking and call Social Security and insurance companies about changes in my direct deposit. I contacted Medicare, AAA, AARP…The details are endless, but I am gaining on them. Though everyone has been unbelievably helpful, it has been an ordeal!
I don’t know how I could have managed without Robert’s help! While I was waiting at Motor Vehicles and the bank, I wrote a Valentine poem for Robert and later made it into a card.
Yesterday, we went to the car dealership to replace my key fob and reprogram Robert’s. When we returned, there were eight roofers on our roof installing new shingles. Robert and I were nervous about the shingles we had selected, but we are very happy with the finished roof! The next thing we have to do is hire someone to repair the numerous hairline cracks in our walls that appeared in the weeks after Hurricane Ian…
Robert followed up his recent pacemaker surgery with a cardiologist last week. Many tests are scheduled, some this week, some after Robert’s daughter visits in a couple of weeks. Then my daughters are coming in March, and we are planning a road trip. I will post the photos!
No need to worry. I promise you, I will not be bored anytime soon!
It was the “sixties” and I had just entered my teens. My somewhat older peers were becoming “hippies,” “turning on and dropping out,”marching for civil rights, and burning their draft cards. I remember causing quite a stir on the school bus with my newly self-inflicted “Beatles haircut,” and was clandestinely reading my cousin’s Mad Magazine, learning guitar chords, singing Joan Baez songs, and telling “knock-knock”and disgusting “green hair” jokes with my friends.
My uncle, who had served in World War II in Europe, described, with his usual drama, people making cider by pressing apples through straw. He thought that was pretty unsanitary. Inspired, I wrote this cheery little song to “gross out” my brother and sister and our friends and to annoy our parents.
After a frustrating week with no internet, I am posting this little ditty I wrote in high school. You have been warned!
I will be trying to catch up on my emails, and I look forward to reading your blogs. ❤
Christmas Tree, Dnipro, Ukraine. Photo by Valentyn Cherretskyi from UnSplash.
Envision Peace on Earth
Tears are falling still.
Destruction and death drag on.
Love of country remains
in the hearts of the people
who fight and die for Ukraine.
Photo by Sebbi Strauch from UnSplash.
work, endure, celebrate life,
smile, laugh, play, sing, dance!
They light the candles of hope,
envisioning peace on earth.
A protest in Japan. Photo by Breakify from UnSplash.
Our war-weary world
preserves the rights and freedoms
deeply cherished by ourselves.
Protest in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Dea Andreea from UnSplash.
Dictators may rise,
seizing control over nations,
ending human rights.
Tyrants may try to dominate…
even your country or mine.
Ukrainian flag flying in Norway. Photo by Anastasiia Dudnyk from UnSplash.
The world remembers,
“Eternal vigilance is
the price of freedom.”
Ukraine, you are not alone.
We share your vision of peace.
Children’s paintings on display in Prague, Czechia. Photo byYura Khomitskyi from UnSplash.
Protest at the White House in Washington, DC. Photo by Gayatri Malhotra from UnSplash. Demonstrations in support of Ukraine have been held in cities and towns across the USA.
“Eternalvigilance is the price of liberty.“
This famous saying seems particularly applicapable in our times. In various forms, it became popular in the early days of the United States of America. Variations are attributed to many people, including Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. It is thought to have originated from an earlier quote. “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.” John Philpott Curran, Dublin, Ireland, 1790
Bumper Sticker in Seoul, South Korea. Photo by Lenny Honn from UnSplash.
The photos in this post show some of the many countries that support Ukraine.
I wish I could show all of them!
Poland has sheltered huge numbers of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. A demonstration in Poland. Photo by Eugene T Kachenko
Protesters in Lithuania. Photo by Dovile Ramoskaite from UnSplash.
Calgary, Canada. Photo by Ahmed Zalabany from UnSplash.
Photo by Ahmed Zalabany from UnSplash.
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia. Russian citizens have suffered as a result of the war against Ukraine. Protests in Russia have been suppressed, and many protesters have been arrested, jailed, or have disappeared. Large numbers of young Russian men have fled the draft into neighboring countries.
A Demonstration in France. Photo by Cedric VT from UnSplash.
London. Photo by Ehimetalor Akere Unuabona from UnSplash.
A protest against atrocities comitted against Ukrainian civilians. London, England. Photo by Andreea De Santis from UnSplash.
Zimbabwe. Girl supporting Ukraine. Photo by Ben Masora from UnSplash.
Vienna, Austria. Photo by Tetiana Shyshkina from UnSplash.
In peacetime, Ukraine supplies food to many countries. There are food shortages in some countries due to the war. Ukrainian wheat field. Photo by Polina Rytova from UnSplash.
“Another Year Together” was written for the holiday card I put in Robert’s Christmas stocking this year. We have had a very personally challenging 2022: sickness, surgeries, extensive dental work, unexpected expenses, and family visits cancelled by weather and illness. The whole world has had a challenging year: wars, violence, storms, fires, floods, famine, supply chain issues, inflation and financial distress, a continuing Covid 19 pandemic compounded by widespread outbreaks of several other viruses…and on and on and on..
Robert and I have met the challenges of 2022, including Hurricane Ian. Although we are a little tireder and a little older, we have survived! We have also savored the pleasures of everyday life and the blessings that came our way. Our hopes are high for a better 2023, both for ourselves and for everyone worldwide.
We wish you courage for your journey, strength to meet the challenges you encounter, hope in your heart, and peace of mind. We wish you fair weather and good fortune. May you be inspired, creative, and productive. May you be surrounded by the love of family and friends.
A couple of weeks ago, we found undiscovered hurricane damage to our house. Dealing with the insurance company, roofing companies, and contractors is consuming a lot of time and energy, and I have had to put my planned projects on hold. The insurance company has approved a new roof, payment for tree removal, and some needed repairs. Contractors are very busy with all the damage to properties here, and ours is not an emergency, so it may be some months before the work is completed.
our life and strength and gifts that nature brings.
Restoring Our Connection to Nature
On small family farms like the dairy farm where my mother grew up and in home gardens that were the pride of my grandmother and my father, there is a profound connection to nature. People work in cooperation with nature to provide for themselves and their families.
In the time of large corporate farms, most people do not live on small family farms and raise all of the food they eat. Many people may have lost the connection to the land and to the changing seasons.
Whatever our work, wherever we live, we are a part of the cycles of nature. We can help to preserve and renew the environment. We may not be able to do everything, but there are things each one of us can do to renew our connection to the natural world.
Nearly every culture has celebrations incorporating light. Bonfires, torches, lamps, candles, fireworks…all light the way to our best selves and a better world. Diwali is a beautiful and joyous festival, but what seems extraordinary to me is its universal message…nine simple words with the power to transform the individual and the world:
Ian was the largest Florida Hurricane on record. Slow-moving, it dropped huge amounts of rain and had storm surges of up to eighteen feet in coastal areas. Flooding was extensive. Wind speeds of up to 155 miles per hour and gusts of up to 190 miles per hour were recorded.
Southwest Florida was hit very hard, but fifty-seven of Florida’s sixty counties were affected before the storm moved up the East coast of the US.
Hurricane Ian Information
Today is twelve days after Hurricane Ian. Most of the information here is from various sources, such as personal experience, observation, and word-of-mouth, though I watched hurricane news until the power went off on Thursday afternoon, 9/28/22. Our out-of-town relatives looked up news for us on the internet and gave us information over the phone after the phones started working.
I will be happy to get more in-depth hurricane news since our internet and TV came back on tonight. I know that much of the news will be tragic. Many people have had their homes and businesses damaged or destroyed, and over 100 have lost their lives. Of course, there will also be stories of people helping each other and stories of hurricane heroes.
Surviving Hurricane Ian
Nine Haikus and a Tanka
storm shutters, propane, water,
ice…Are we ready?
Both we and our house survived
the wrath of Ian!
Downed trees surround us.
Homeless birds are house-hunting…
Children play outside,
jumping on their trampoline,
full of joy and life!
No power, no phone service.
Internet is down.
Neighborhood kids wade
and row an inflated boat
down the flooded street.
Grown-ups are working
to bring order to chaos,
helping each other.
Heard in the distance,
generators and chainsaws,
fumes of gasoline.
Faint smoke in the air,
smells of wet wood burning and
supper on the grill.
A tiny flashlight
illuminates my paper
as I write tonight.
At last, loved ones’ calls connect.
“Yes, we are fine!” we tell them.
Knowing we might not have running water, we filled the bathtubs with water for flushing the commodes and gallon jugs with RO-filtered water for drinking. We froze jugs of water to keep food cold in case of power outages. We also bought a bucket to carry water from the water tank outside.
Some items that are always in short supply during hurricanes are batteries and paper products, so we keep them on hand. For cooking on the lanai, we have a propane burner, tanks of propane, and matches in a waterproof container. We also have flashlights and a small battery-operated fan.
Gas shortages and long gas lines are common during storms, so we filled up our car’s gas tank. We fully charged our cell phones and have a charger in the car for backup.
We didn’t put our storm shutters up because predictions until the last minute were for a storm with maximum winds of 46 miles per hour. We don’t have a generator; the noise and the gas fumes are a problem for us.
Charlotte County, Florida
Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22
Traffic has been extremely heavy. There have been long lines at gas stations, and some stations were out of gas. Grocery stores sell out of items such as ice, meat, eggs, milk, and paper products faster than they can restock the shelves. Some restaurants are open. They have faced shortages, but they have adapted and are serving large crowds. Schools are closed until further notice. Mail deliveries resumed after a few days. Garbage pickup will resume soon.
We had no electricity or running water for over a week at our house. Power returned on Saturday, 10/8/22, and the internet came back on Sunday, 10/9/22. About 95% of customers now have power. Cell phone service was off for a day, then was erratic, but has gradually improved.
Major roads were quickly cleared and traffic signals were in service. Secondary roads are mostly clear, but not all traffic signals are operational.
Floods in our neighborhood subsided in a day, but there may still have been flooding elsewhere for a while. We think the numerous canals in our neighborhood overflowed. Robert found a dead fish in our yard after the water went down. Phew!
Cardinals & Other Househunters
Oh, bright red bird perched on a scrap of vine
amid trees fallen in a hurricane,
your chirping reaches from your heart to mine.
Oh, little homeless bird, I feel your pain!
The female cardinal soon joins her mate.
Now side-by-side in silence, feeling calm,
their top priority is real estate.
Away they fly in search of their new home.
Although the cardinals are out of sight,
their joyful melodies drift in the air.
May their new treehouse be exactly right!
I hope that they are safe and happy there.
May displaced humans, squirrels, and raccoons,
and all househunters find their dream homes soon!
Cleanup & Recovery
Thursday, 9/29/22-Sunday, 10/9/22
There are several staging areas nearby. Electrical crews from many Florida counties and multiple states, Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, Rubicon volunteers, The Florida National Guard, sheriff’s deputies, and state police from many Florida counties are some of the people working here.
All of the cleanup and recovery efforts have been well-coordinated, and the various agencies have accomplished an amazing amount of work in less than two weeks since Hurricane Ian struck. A Rubicon volunteer I talked to told me that they will be here until Thanksgiving, clearing roads and assisting Floridians with emergency repairs.
A huge thank you to everyone for their efforts to return Florida to normal after Hurricane Ian!
I Remember Grandma Washing Clothes
The second day
after Hurricane Ian,
with no power or running water,
while it was still cool outside,
I set up a table on the patio.
Carrying water in a bucket
from the water tank,
Robert and I filled and refilled two basins,
one to wash and one to rinse.
I washed twelve pairs of underwear,
and two pairs of socks.
I hung the clothes on hangers
to dry in the sun and the breeze
Then I watched the clouds
forming in the sky.
If it rained,
the clothes would have to finish drying
on the lanai.
It took me a couple of hours
to wash the clothes.
All that time, I thought of Grandma
making soap from lard and lye,
and boiling it in a big kettle over a fire.
About 1956, I watched Grandma do laundry.
She washed her clothes
in a wringer washer in her basement,
then hung them outside to dry
on the clotheslines.
When they were dry,
she carried them upstairs
and sprinkled them with water
before she ironed them.
There were no steam irons then,
and there was very little wash-and-wear.
Grandma did her laundry
in many steps,
and she climbed many steps too!
Grandma was born around 1903.
She and Grandpa
purchased and remodeled
her childhood home
when she was in her fifties.
When Grandma was living
in that same house as a child,
they pumped well water
with a pitcher pump in the yard…
no wringer washer
in the basement,
no indoor plumbing,
and probably no electricity.
that Grandma was very proud
of her collection of antique flat irons
made of solid iron,
the ones that you heated
on the woodstove
before you ironed your clothes.
She probably used those same irons
as a child living in that very house.
How Grandma would laugh
if she could see me now,
carrying well water in a bucket
and washing clothes outdoors
Positive Notes on Hurricane Ian
Farewell to Trees!
Although we didn’t put storm shutters up, and trees blew down against our roof and windows, there is no damage except for some minor gutter repairs. It truly was amazing, and definitely terrifying, to watch Hurricane Ian slam into our house for about eight hours!
The Power is On!
One result of living through Hurricane Ian is a new appreciation for electricity. Nearly everything we do requires an innovative approach without power. I was so happy to take a shower! No more carrying endless buckets of water! No more schlepping ice! No more writing poems by flashlight!
One great development is that Ian ushered in beautiful autumn weather…sunny days, cool mornings and evenings, and the bright harvest moon!
Cardinals have been the predominant birds in our immediate neighborhood, but since the storm, I have seen several mockingbirds. I love both birds, but the mockingbirds are wonderful singers. Today the weather was gorgeous, and I had lunch on the lanai. For nearly an hour, mockingbirds performed a concert for Robert and me. They have a stunning repertoire!
There are two large oak trees on the other side of the vacant lots behind our house that survived Hurricane Ian. I think the cardinals may have found a new home there.
We have also seen a colorful blue jay a few times.
I hope they all stick around!
Helping Each Other
One of the nicest things we have experienced during the aftermath of Hurricane Ian is people helping each other, both their neighbors and total strangers.
Our neighbors are very busy and hard-working and have plenty to do, but they have offered to help us. Our kind neighbor replanted two Jatrophas that the storm ripped out of the ground. We are watering them and hoping for another miracle.
What an inspiring family!
Spending Time Together
Robert and I have enjoyed working together to overcome the challenges we have faced from Hurricane Ian. We liked chatting on the lanai over our morning tea in the cool mornings and talking about the events of the day in the evenings. Having a few late lunches together in a cool restaurant was pleasant when we had no air conditioning at home.
Occasionally, we took time out to play a game of Scrabble. A couple of times, I even won! At night, we played by the light of a tiny flashlight hung from the ceiling fan with a piece of string.
It’s great to spend time with the ones you love in the good times, but it’s especially great in challenging times!
A lot of people are probably wondering whether the intensity of Hurricane Ian is the result of climate change. I believe it is, and I think that we will continue to have increasingly severe weather events if we fail to reverse global warming. We all need to do our part.
Wherever you are, I send you best wishes for health and happiness. Be safe, and remember that life is a little sweeter when people help each other. ❤
Robert is making steady progress after his pacemaker surgery twelve days ago. The strips of tape sealing the incision will come off in two more days. We thank everyone for your good wishes and encouraging words. ❤
“Death is as beautiful as love.” I vehemently disagree with this closing line from a poem I wrote in high school. I tried hard to remember the rest of the poem and understand what was meant, but unfortunately, that is the only line I can remember. I will tell you right up front that I think there is nothing that is as beautiful as love.
Seeking insight, I tried to imagine what a beautiful death would look like, perhaps stepping in front of a bullet intended for someone else or dying in defense of your country. Those are selfless and honorable ways to die.
Making a living will ensures a peaceful death when there is no hope of recovery and provides an end to the sufferings of family members. That is a responsible and loving way to die.
Maybe it would be beautiful to die holding the hand of the one you love and plunging to your death from one of the many famous “Lovers’ Leaps.” Well, maybe that kind of death isn’t beautiful, though it might be preferable to being forced into a loveless marriage. Having heard tales as a child about a “Lovers’ Leap” in West Virginia, this is the sentimental favorite among the candidates for a “beautiful death.”
Death is natural and something we all will experience, but we shouldn’t expect it to be beautiful. I believe that what is beautiful is the love that motivated the people involved in the scenarios mentioned, and not the death itself. As I stated at the beginning, I don’t believe that anything is as beautiful as love.
Going forward, since I couldn’t reconstruct the original poem, I decided to write a poem that included the line from the original poem, “Death is as beautiful as love.” After many failed attempts, I settled for writing a poem about an imaginary young couple at Lovers’ Leap, a sort of “Romeo and Juliet of the mountains.”
Personal Note: I began writing this post in the hospital waiting room while Robert was undergoing emergency pacemaker surgery on Wednesday. He came home on Thursday and is recovering well. I may have been thinking some dark thoughts as I wrote, but the sun is shining now! A full recovery is expected in four to six weeks.
Before moving, my son spent ten days with us. During his visit, I spent too much time outdoors in the heat. What started as an allergic reaction to soil molds became a sinus infection. Though I almost never have a headache, I experienced five weeks of severe daily headaches, some days all day. I also suffered extreme fatigue and brain fog.
When I realized I had a sinus infection, I called my doctor’s office for an appointment. My doctor wouldn’t see me and sent me to the walk-in clinic because my symptoms resembled covid. I was in the clinic for three hours being tested for covid and the flu. Both tests were negative. I got some antibiotics, and I am finally over the sinus infection and recovering my energy.
As I am able, I will begin spending more time on WordPress. I am glad to be back! ❤
Mental illness occurs in many forms. It can be very difficult to deal with someone who is mentally ill, but I believe they deserve our empathy and compassion. We may need to maintain good boundaries for the sake of our own sanity. It may help us in dealing with those who suffer from mental illness to remember that their illness is not their fault, and they may have little control over their feelings and behavior. They deserve professional help, and they deserve our understanding and support.
My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes;
most of which never happened.
__ Michel de Montaigne
I have been through some terrible things in my life,
some of which actually happened.
There will be an answer…let it be!
Don’t worry…be happy!
🙂 Good News! 🙂
Robert has undergone a new treatment and is doing well enough that his surgery was cancelled. Yay! The doctor said he could reschedule the surgery if symptoms recur.
My son’s rent had nearly doubled in the last two years and is going up again. There was very little available in Florida that he could afford. He was approved for an apartment, and he and his service dog, BABY will be moving in August to Louisiana, where rents are more affordable. I had hoped that he would be able to live near me, but it is good that where he is moving is within a couple of hours of his sisters. My son will be stopping by for a few days on his way to his new home. I will be happy to spend a little time with him.
❤ Thank You! ❤
A heartfelt thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for your concern and support during this difficult time. Robert and I will always remember your kindness.
Florida Ring Snakes are about 10-14 inches long, and are harmless to humans. They are so small that it is nearly impossible for them to bite you, but in the unlikely event that they do, their venom is too weak to harm you. Some people keep them as pets. Their coloring varies from gray to black, and the ring around their necks may be white, yellow, orange or red. Some of them don’t have any ring. Their underside may be a vivid yellow, orange, or coral. When they feel threatened, they curl the ends of their tails. Too small to prey on rodents or amphibians, they live on worms and insects.
This poem was written a few years ago for my Hanging Out with Wild Animals series, but I didn’t use it. Like all poems in that series, it was inspired by my real-life encounter with a Florida animal.
For over a week now, I have been apartment hunting online for my son. His current rent has nearly doubled in the last two years, and he is looking for something affordable that will accept his dog, a pit bull. The search has been a challenge! Next week, Robert will be having his surgery. I am behind on my emails. Thank you for your patience. ❤
Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Robert found a successful treatment, and he is so much better that his surgery has been cancelled. The doctor said it could be rescheduled if symptoms return. Joe was approved for an apartment today. He will be moving to Louisiana where rents are more affordable.
Thank you for your support during this difficult period. It means a lot to me.
A heroic leader had inspired his people to fight valiantly to save their homeland from takeover by a much larger aggressor. That leader, Peter, was heartened by the bravery of his people and by their remarkable victory, but all around him, he saw the tragic devastation of his beloved country. Peter was deeply saddened by the suffering of all of those who had been wounded or who had lost their lives in the fighting. He wanted to help rebuild his country and bring the refugees home.
One night, Peter, in low spirits and exhausted, fell asleep and began to dream. In his dream, he was sitting on a park bench among green trees and fountains when he noticed that a very old man was watching him intently from a nearby bench. Peter smiled kindly at the old man. “How are you today, friend?” he inquired.
The old man, in a strong, quiet voice replied, “The sun is shining, and our country is free. I have survived on this earth for one hundred years, so I am doing well, but I see profound sadness in your eyes.”
Peter replied, “I, too, am overjoyed that our country is free, but I grieve for the many courageous men and women, and even innocent children, who have died or been injured. Our country is in ruins, and we need outstanding people to rebuild it, people of vision, skill, and determination.”
The old man’s face began to glow, and auras of purple, pink, green, blue, and white outlined his aged body. “You are a good man, Peter,” he said. “Tomorrow, when you awaken, I promise you that you will be able to find the people you need to fulfill every task.”
The old man rose to leave. “Who are you?” Peter inquired, but the old man did not reply. He smiled, then turned and walked away. That night, Peter enjoyed a deep, restful sleep. When he awoke, he went out into the street.
As he walked around the city, Peter was astonished to see that all the people he encountered were surrounded by bright auras of many colors. He went looking for the beautiful park with the green trees and fountains where he had talked to the aged man, but he could not find it.
Finally, Peter sat down under the cool shade of a tree and fell asleep. Soon, the hundred-year-old man appeared and sat on the green grass nearby, waiting for Peter to finish his nap. Gently, the wise old man spoke to Peter, “Peter,” he said, “You now have the gift of seeing auras, the colorful energy fields that surround all living things.”
“That is wonderful!” answered Peter with a smile, but how can that help to rebuild our country?”
The old man returned Peter’s smile and began his explanation, “If you need a person of imagination and creativity, look for someone with an orange aura.”
“Green and pink are colors of the heart. If you need someone with empathy and compassion, look for a person who has an aura of green or pink.”
A blue aura is the sign of a powerful mind. A person with a blue aura possesses unusual intelligence and insight.”
“If you are seeking someone endowed with confidence and charisma, choose a person with a yellow aura.”
“A purple aura signifies empathy, intuition, sensitivity, and great emotional depth.”
“If you meet a person with a red aura, you have found an individual who exemplifies honesty and boundless energy. That person has a burning desire to be the best at whatever he does.”
“A white aura, though rare, is evidence of a quick mind. People with white auras are in touch with universal energy and oneness and have a strong connection to something greater than themselves.”
“Beware of black or very dark auras. They are associated with fatigue, stress, depression, and mental illness,” the old man said, concluding his instruction on a cautionary note.
Then Peter began to speak,”When I was walking around the city today, I saw many people with bright, multicolored auras. Why do some people have auras made up of such an array of colors?”
The aged man’s face glowed, and a colorful aura shone all around him. He said nothing, only smiled and rose to go.
“”Friend, asked Peter, “can you stay and help us meet the great challenges that lie ahead? At least have some supper with me. We can sit and talk, and you can share with me some wise advice.”
The old man only smiled one last time and disappeared into the distance.
As Peter walked home through the streets of the battered city, he noticed many people with colorful auras. He began to feel that so many capable people working together could surely rebuild their country. Although the task was monumental, he was sure their efforts would result in a glorious success!
As Peter stepped into his home, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the hall mirror. He saw a man surrounded by a shimmering rainbow-colored aura, and he was suddenly filled with confidence!
It may be that Peter saw the one-hundred-year-old man and all the colorful auras only in his dreams, but history will record the very real accomplishments of Peter and his people. They banded together, fought bravely, and saved their country from a powerful empire-building invader. From the rubble of war, they rebuilt their homeland better than before.
Today, the sun shines bright on the rippling fields of wheat and the green forests of a free and independent nation. There are cozy homes, excellent schools, renowned universities, beautiful houses of worship, state-of-the-art hospitals, well-stocked libraries, magnificent museums, and impressive public buildings. Businesses prosper, and ships come and go at the bustling ports. New airplanes fly in and out of modern airports.
Happy children laugh and play once more in playgrounds and parks. At school, they study hard to learn the skills they need for a successful future. People enjoy an abundant life with healthful food, comfortable clothes, convenient transportation, reliable independent media, and quality entertainment.
Peter and his fellow citizens are a proud people. Their love of country, courage, and devotion to democracy will forever be legendary!
One of the projects I am working on is submitting my five self-published books to traditional publishers through an agency. The Company is launching two new magazines and sponsored a literary contest.
This poem, “Morning Reflections” as well as the last post, “Serendipity” were entries in a magazine contest that did not get published. There is one more poem which won a special mention and will be published in the magazine soon. I will share the poem after it has been published. I entered a short story contest in the other magazine, but didn’t get published. I will post a story on my blog in the near future.
Another exciting thing is that a small ad for my book, Hanging Out With Wild Animals, will appear in an upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine. I will share it with you after it comes out. My books will be featured in a variety of other media outlets in the US.
I will post updates about future developments. I am also working on a book series of poems from my blog. That is a long-term project, and I don’t have any plans to publish those books any time soon.
In addition to Robert’s ongoing dental appointments and the ultrasound therapy I am doing for him at home, Robert is having outpatient surgery on Wednesday, which will involve a couple more appointments and a few days of recovery time at home. I think I am too old for all of this activity! I am still trying to keep up with emails, but may continue to be somewhat erratic for a while.
Hello, fellow bloggers. I am still involved in some longterm projects, so am not responding to as many emails as I would like. I will be sharing some results of these projects soon. Also, there are some technical issues to deal with. I know I am not the only one with this problem! Please be patient with me. Thank you so much. ❤
In the morning sunshine, each damp strand of the spider’s web became a tiny prism, shimmering in the breeze. The colors of the web were vivid like those in this soap bubble. As the web dried, the colors slowly faded. I wish I could have captured the moment in a photo. Maybe one of the photographers out there has such a photo. I found only pastel-colored webs online.
“It’s a man’s world,” was the mid-twentieth-century consensus.
My mother passed several of the following outdated gems along to me:
Always let boys win if you want them to like you.
Act helpless. Let a boy be your hero and lift heavy objects for you.
Play “dumb.” Laugh at all of his jokes. Always agree with him.
Pretend to enjoy doing all the things he likes to do.
Don’t chase after boys. Make them chase after you!
Play hard to get. Never be the first to say, “I love you.”
Hide your passions. You don’t want him to think you’re “easy.”
If you “give in” to a boy, he’ll “dump” you and “kiss and tell.”
Go to college to find a husband, even though you know
you will be a homemaker after you marry.
A woman must never make more money than her husband…
His delicate pride can’t handle it.
Let a man think he’s boss…
Use “feminine wiles” to get what you want.
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach…
Cook all of his favorite dishes.
Men are like little boys…They like to be told
how handsome, strong, and smart they are.
Make a habit of paying exaggerated compliments to men…
It builds their fragile egos.
Men are unable to control their impulses.
Women must be the guardians of morality.
If a woman wears a short skirt and gets assaulted, it’s her fault.
Sex is something a wife must endure for the sake of her husband.
Fortunately, I never fell for any of this antiquated sexist nonsense!
Sorry, Mom, but I don’t believe in playing games.
I was paying attention when you taught me to be honest and to
“Do unto others as I would have them do unto me.”
With respect to this poem’s dubious advice, I quote Mom,
“You might as well laugh as cry!”
*Cautionary note: Some of the antiquated advice in this poem may appear to work in the short term, but some of it could come back to bite you later! Authentic relationships tend to be based on honesty and mutual respect. How long would you be willing to pretend you are enjoying a food you actually detest? How would you feel if you found out that someone was playing you? Better to be real!
I just purchased a new email with Word to use on some writing projects. I will share those projects on this post at some point in the future. For the moment, I am struggling with a learning curve and technical issues. I will try to be present on WordPress as much as possible!