Man of My Dreams

Robert Snyder. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

Man of My Dreams

Wise like a hundred-year-old oak

growing in front of the county courthouse,

witness to the comings and goings

of humankind, a student of history.

Live oak tree. Photo by Iris4me from Pixabay.

Mind as nimble as an otter playing

“now you see me, now you don’t”

among the plants, above and below

the surface of the water.

Otter. Photo by Andreas Schanti from Unsplash.

Honest and forthright as a dandelion

springing up in a manicured lawn,

never pretending

to be a lily or a rose.

Dandelion. Photo by Jan Ledermann from Unsplash.

Conscientious like a honeybee

gathering nectar from summer flowers,

nourishment to sustain the hive

when winter fields lie fallow.

Photo by Michael Coltman from Unsplash.

Playful as a kitten high on catnip

unraveling a ball of string.

Peaceable as a sleeping puppy

with a tummy full of mother’s milk.

Photo by Natalie Spehner from Unsplash.

Reassuring and comforting

like the cycles of the moon.

Warm and loving

like the morning sunshine.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


❤ Happy 74th Birthday, Robert! ❤


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. ❤

Is Death as Beautiful as Love? & A Tale of Lovers’ Leap

Photo by Joao Jesus from Pexels.

Is Death as Beautiful as Love?

“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.”

Photo by Svyatoslav Romano from Unsplash.

A Tale of Lovers’ Leap

Hand-in hand, Darling,

we climb to dizzying heights

above the valley,

where our feuding families

have forbidden us to wed.

Sweethearts forever,

standing on the precipice

above our valley,

hand-in-hand, we’ll leap into

eternity together.

Will they weep for us

down in the valley of hate?

Will the feuding end?

Will they bury us side-by-side

down in a valley of love?


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

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.

Ode to a Young Jatropha

Zebra butterfly gathering nectar from a Jatropha Integerrima flower. Photo by Siala from Pixabay.

Ode to a Young Jatropha

A Florida favorite we revere

delights in winter sun and summer rains.

Jatropha blooms in scarlet splendor here

and blooming daily, honeybees sustains.

Beloved by spritely zebra butterflies,

a cheery view outside our windowpane!

Our balmy winters we gratefully prize.

Jatropha, welcome! May you long remain!

Jack Frost, unbidden, killed you to the ground.

I gave up hope, and soon declared you dead

when armadillos came and dug around,

But Robert watched and watered you instead.

In spring, you rose; in winter, you grew tall.

Jatropha, you were never dead at all!

Photo of an armadillo by Victor Miyata from Pexels.
Our little Jatropha. The shadow is of me taking the photo.
Robert with the Jatropha whose life he saved after it froze to the ground. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

In just three short months our Jatropha grew from the roots to nearly six feet tall and wide. This winter, I will begin to prune and shape it.

Last spring, we planted another Jatropha in the front yard to replace a tree that died in the freeze. The nursery said that it was not uncommon for frozen Jatrophas to regrow. Our little shrub was newly-planted and vulnerable. Older Jatrophas in the neighborhood had minimal damage, and quickly recovered.

The last freeze in South Florida was in 2010. Freezes happen about every 10 years, and most tropical plants do survive. Let’s hope climate change does not make freezes more common here.

Copyright © 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

To my Blogging Friends,

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! ❤

Bipolar

Photo by Ivana Cajina from Unsplash.

Bipolar

Comforting sun that warms

can also burn.

Summer showers cool and soothe,

but lightning strikes sometimes.

The honey bee that captivates

can inflict a painful sting.

Cheery words spoken today

may become tomorrow’s curses.

Decisions are made,

changed, and changed again.

Promises are made

but not always kept.

Friendship smiles today,

but it may weep tomorrow.

As difficult as our friendship is for me,

what hell it must be for my bipolar friend!


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia.


Mental Illness

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.

Bluebird of Happiness

The Bluebird of Happiness given to me by my sister. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

Blue Bird of Happiness

My mother admired the glassmaker’s art;

the Bluebird of Happiness sang in her heart…

mesmerizing, sparkling, azure,

the iconic bluebird was Mom’s treasure.

To me, the bluebird was gaudy kitsch,

not something for which I’d ever wish!

My sister, however, had a different view

of the iconic collectibles in blue.

When the glassworks stopped operation,

my sister stocked up in anticipation

of spreading a lot of happiness around.

She offered me a bluebird; I turned her down.

One morning, having changed my mind.

I told my sister, if she would be so kind,

I would like a bluebird after all.

She certainly wasn’t expecting that call!

My sister sent me a bluebird in the mail,

and every morning, without fail,

like my mother and sister before me,

I hear the bluebird’s cheerful melody.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

My Itty Bitty Ad in The New York Times Magazine

Don’t Worry!

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi from Unsplash.

Don’t Worry!

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.

__Mark Twain

Photo by Alyssa Stevenson from Unsplash.

There will be an answer…let it be!

__Paul McCartney

Don’t worry…be happy!

__Bobby McFerrin

Photo by Jessica Felicio from Unsplash.

🙂 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.

Cheryl Batavia

Ringneck Snake

Florida Ringneck Snake. Photo by Bob Warrick,
CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ringneck Snake

Last year, walking to the mailbox,

something black caught my eye.

It looked like a large earthworm.

“That worm will die on the hot

driveway!” I thought.

As I got closer, I could see

a red ring around its neck.

It was a tiny ringneck snake

warming itself in the sun.

I was glad I didn’t run over it!

This year, going to the mailbox.

I saw a tiny black snake with a

red ring around its neck.

It looked like…a friend.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia.

Florida Ring Snakes

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.

Update

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.

❤ ❤ ❤

Auras of a Proud People:

An Allegory

Photo by N Suma from Unsplash

Auras of a Proud People:

an Allegory

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!


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Update: On the day before it was scheduled, Robert’s outpatient surgery was rescheduled! He is doing OK. I will let you know more in a couple of weeks. ❤

Morning Reflections

Ocean Dawn. Photo by William Farlow from Unsplash.
Foggy Morning. Photo by Yannick Pulver from Unsplash.
Ruella Daybreak. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.
A New Day. Photo by Gordon Beagley from Unsplash.

Morning Reflections

1. Ocean Dawn

Exquisite stillness…

Dawn breaks over the ocean…

Tranquil, bright morning.

Each day a new beginning,

each day a limitless sea!

2. Foggy Morning

Fog obscures mountains.

Burning sun will soon reveal

lofty horizons.

Inspiration surrounds us…

Your mountain is calling you!

3. Ruella Daybreak

Daybreak approaching…

Purple ruellas unfold,

inviting the bees.

Ruellas live for today.

Tomorrow, others will bloom!

4. A New Day

Morning dew sparkles

on spider webs in sunshine,

delicate but strong.

Slender threads of existence

adorned with glimmering hope.

5. Morning Sun

The day starts slowly,

sunlight building its courage

to face the new day.

Up over the horizon…

Upward to blazing midday!

Morning Sun. Photo by Courtney Cook from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Project News

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.

Serendipity

Photo by Joe Hepburn on Unsplash

Serendipity

Our date

with fate,

improbable, but true.

Dreams long overdue,

serendipity times two.

Talking, our hands clasped,

how swiftly hours passed!

Our commonalities so vast,

soulmates meeting at last!

Forever calls, and heart replies.

Story emblazoned on the skies.

You are everything I fantasized:

Gazing into each other’s eyes,

together growing old and wise.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


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. ❤

Spider’s Psychedelic Masterpiece

This morning I was mesmerized by a spider web constructed very much like this one. Photo by Alexy Demidov from Pexels.

Spider’s Psychedelic Masterpiece

Suspended in space,

densely coiled gossamer disk,

buoyant in the breeze.

Pulsating neon colors

iridescent in sunshine.

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.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Two Poems: “Quoting Mom” & “Antiquated Sexist Nonsense”

Photo by Sophie Dale from Unsplash
Photo by Kenny Krosky from Unsplash

Quoting Mom

So often these days,

I find myself quoting Mom…

proverbs, quips, sayings…

Mom had a real treasure trove

of wisdom she shared with me.

“Treat other people

as you want to be treated.”

That one is golden!

It was Mom who taught me that

reliable guide to life.

Mom was unfailing

in her caring and concern.

She gave great advice,

but, in matters of romance,

was a woman of her time.

Mom’s take on romance

was antiquated sexist

nonsense, best ignored.

Mom’s true advice to follow

was, “Think for yourself, Honey!”

After thirty years,

Dad found a younger woman.

Mom kissed a few frogs;

Prince Charming never came, but

Mom found her inner Princess!

My mother, Marian Nicholson, on her ninetieth birthday!

Antiquated Sexist Nonsense

“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!”

Photo by Jason Briscoe from Unsplash

*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!


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

❤ Happy Mother’s Day! ❤

Show love to Mothers today and every day! Remember to cherish your mother’s wise advice, but don’t forget to “Think for yourself.” 🙂

Veracity

Hypocrites and Liars. Photo by Mohamed Matar from Pixabay.

Veracity

Sometimes,

it is difficult

to determine what is true…

even more difficult…

to admit

when we have been misled.

Outright lies,

deceptive advertising,

political spin…

Ever wary,

we yearn for authenticity.

We yearn to trust.

Insincerity,

insinuation,

little white lies,

half-truths,

exaggeration…

Everyday dishonesty erodes trust.

Speaking truth,

we long to be trusted,

but we are met with skepticism.

We wonder why…

Do we all suspect in others

the faults we harbor in ourselves?


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Environmental Gems & Green Haiku

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse from Unsplash.
Photo by Annie Spratt from Unsplash.
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur from Unsplash.

Environmental Gems

Reduce,

Reuse, Recycle!

Choose organic foods.

Use green energy sources.

Protect wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Stop pollution of the land, air, and water.

Manage forests to control fires and prevent floods.

Maintain public lands and nature preserves.

Use plant-based plastic substitutes.

Develop green energy sources.

Practice organic farming.

Plant trees.

Vote.

Photo by Joanne Francis from Unsplash.
Photo by John Middecoop from Unsplash.

Green Haiku

Create; don’t destroy!

Clean up the messes we’ve made.

Make peace with nature.

Ruins of war, Syria. Photo by Mahmood Sulaiman from Unsplash.
If we don’t work now to save the environment, we may all become as extinct as the dodo!
Photo, McGill Library from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Happy Earth Day!

Go, Little Ladybugs, Go!

Photo of a ladybug by Adryan RA form Unsplash.

Go, Little Ladybugs, Go!

Welcome aboard!

Go, little ladybugs, go!

Please save

our poor little palm tree!

A mealybug feast awaits you…

Bon apetit!

Maybe you can

succeed where homemade

potions and “harmless” pesticides

have failed.

We’re fighting for survival here!

Somebody has to die,

but not the little palm tree, and not

the ladybugs, or us!

It’s a bug-eat-bug world, I guess!

Go, little ladybugs, go!

Our little palm tree before the mealybugs arrived.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Dear Fellow Bloggers,

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!

All the best!

Cheryl Batavia ❤

Welcome, Orchids!

Orchids on the lanai.

Welcome, Orchids!

Orchids…

sunshine yellow,

rosy pink, white, crimson…

old friends reappear and linger.

Welcome!

Orchids

delight my days!

Luminous elegance,

vivid on our shady lanai…

Cherished!

Orchids

encourage me.

When TV news is grim,

I glance out the glass door. Orchids

bring hope!

My favorite yellow orchid has three stems covered with buds, but no blooms yet. Pink and crimson orchids are beginning to bloom.

Allergies limit our gardening and prevent us from having indoor plants, but orchids love being on the shady lanai and bring lots of joy. Orchids require very little care, bloom a couple of times a year, and blooms last for many weeks. In cold climates, they can be grown indoors.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Mirrored Image

Photo by Gaetano Cessati from Pixabay.

Mirrored Image

I like my gray hair.

Wrinkles, age spots, double chin…

I don’t like so much!

My mirrored image looks best

when it’s smiling back at me.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels.
Photo by Mofeda Dabaloo from Unsplash.
Photo by a-m-u-t-o-n from Pixabay.

Copyright © 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Putin, What Will Your Legacy Be?

A recent Moscow protest of the war on Ukraine. Photo by Valery Tenevoy on Unsplash.

Putin, What Will Your Legacy Be?

How did you use

your position, influence, resources?

Did you exercise your power

to enrich yourself,

to oppress your fellow citizens,

to be above the law?

Or did you use your power

to uplift humanity,

to build a world

with opportunity for all,

to be an example

of integrity and courage?

What will your legacy be?

Will you leave behind

roads, hospitals, universities?

What are you known for…

justice, peace, progress?

Or are you infamous?

Are you the one who

invaded his neighbor,

committed war crimes,

ruined his nation’s economy,

silenced protests and media,

ignored pleas for peace?

Do you think

no one will notice?

Do you think

no one will remember?

Eventually, you will be known

as you truly were!


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Two Poems: Storm Clouds & Sunbeams

Storm over Tampa Bay, Florida. Photo by Artturi Jalli from Unsplash.

Storm Clouds

Storm clouds

foster fears.

I view this world

through a veil of tears.

Loss of courage,

lack of trust.

Ashes to ashes,

Dust to dust.

Sunbeams. Photo by Pawel Czerwinski from Unsplash.

Sunbeams

Bright hopes

shine anew.

I view the clouds with

sunlight breaking through.

Summoning courage,

building trust.

Living joyfully

until I’m dust.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Can I?

Photo by Dayne Topkin from Unsplash.

Can I?

Can I hope?

Can I dream?

Can I believe?

Can I see

the future?

Hope I can.

Dream I can

Believe I can.

See, I can!

Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Sunflowers

Photo by John Ramsdin from Unspalash.
Ukrainian flag. Image from Pixabay.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers of Ukraine,

the world turns toward you in admiration

as sunflowers turn toward the sun,

always facing the light.

A president, refusing to retreat to safety,

fighting side-by-side with his fellow citizens,

delivering eloquent messages of brotherhood

in the face of brutal attacks.

Civilians…men, women, and children

shine the light of courage and patriotism

into the darkness

of violence and aggression.

Young and old serve their country

standing in unarmed solidarity

in front of advancing tanks…

Fearless sunflowers!

Citizens making and stockpiling Molotov cocktails.

Civilians, men and women, learning to shoot guns.

People delivering food to brave soldiers…

Patriotic sunflowers!

A little girl giving a Russian soldier an earful and a slap!

The soldier turns and walks away…He knows he is

an unwilling puppet forced to attack his Ukrainian neighbors.

He can see that she’s a sunflower!

Men welding together roadblocks

from scrap metal and rebar.

Women constructing camouflage nets

to conceal Ukrainian tanks!

Babies being born in hospital basements,

into a world of devastated neighborhoods

and schools in ruins…

the tiniest sunflowers!

Ukraine, the nations of the world

stand with you in your fight for freedom.

We mourn with you the loss of loved ones.

We support you.

The sunflowers of Ukraine

shine brightly in this dark time,

always turning their faces toward the light…

Freedom-loving sunflowers!

Photo by Fabio Fisterol from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

At One with the River

Photo from Pexels/Pixabay.

At One with the River

Time of river…

River of dreams

blissfully reflecting

sky blue, trees green.

Feeling peaceful,

gently flowing past

heron sentinel,

sunshine in mind.

Consciousness of stream,

underwater wonders,

fish inquisitive.

Joyful making memories.

At one with the river, time flowing by…

Memories making joyful.

Inquisitive fish,

wonders underwater,

stream of consciousness.

Mind in sunshine,

sentinel heron,

past flowing gently.

Peaceful feeling,

green trees, blue sky

blissfully reflecting.

Dreams of river…

River of time.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

This Little Boat

Man rowing, Finland. Photo by Joakim Honkasalo from Unsplash.

This Little Boat

In all honesty, man-to-man,

I am rowing this little boat as fast as I can.

Courage, friend, as forward we go.

If you keep bailing as I row,

we may reach the shore, I think,

before our little boat begins to sink.

Photo by Mina A from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Quest for the Holy Grail

Painting of Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper from a mural by Leonardo DaVinci. Photo from Pixabay.
Holy communion bread and wine. Photo by James Coleman. The holy grail is the communion cup used during the last supper. Many adventurers have searched for this holy relic, but it has never been found.

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Alexander Pope

Some adventurers engage in one one risky venture after the other, unprepared, trusting in luck, giving up too soon.


Quest for the Holy Grail

Upon our worthy quest, the fates will smile.

We venture forth in faith and confidence.

Our fervent zeal inspires each lonely mile,

and hearts sing gratitude to providence.

With compass and a map, we chart our course.

At night we have the stars to guide us there.

We endure for better or for worse,

through rough terrain and weather foul or fair.

We tire of questing for the holy grail.

Our hopes are dead, our dreams all turned to dust.

This foolish enterprise is doomed to fail.

We doubt the grail exists…In gold we trust!

Now seeking pirate wealth from days of old,

we’ll share with God our glory and our gold!

Photo by Tim C. Gundert from Pixabay.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Shakespearean Sonnet Written for D’Verse https://dversepoets.com

Bat in the Afterglow

Photo by McKayla Crump from Unsplash.

Bat in the Afterglow

Last night, we stepped outside

into the gilded light of the sunset’s afterglow.

A bright crescent moon graced the twilight sky.

Beneath it shone the evening star.

Silhoutted against a sky of muted blue,

a bat flew toward the rosy horizon and back again,

looping in circles above the quiet street,

a moment of pure delight right outside our door!

Fruit bat in flight, Maldives. Photo by Ishan seefromthesky from Unsplash.

We’ve never seen a bat on our street before.

Maybe, little bat, you live near one of the canals.

I will be watching for you in the evenings.

A hearty welcome to our street!

Where do you sleep all day, little bat?

Hanging upside down under a dried palm frond?

Rocked to sleep in swaying Spanish moss?

Or do you live in a condo under a canal bridge?

Do you dream of flying, as I often do?

Pleasant dreams, little bat, wherever you are.

I hope to see you again on our street,

dining on mosquitos in the afterglow.

Roosting bat in Denmark. Photo by Nils Bouillard from Unsplash.


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia

Hurry Up and Wait!

Many good things in life require a lot of waiting!

Hurry Up and Wait!

Traffic passes

like molasses.

We must wait.

Can’t be late.

We must accelerate.

Hard not to stress,

wondering why, I confess,

we’re in this mess.

Early departures avoid distress.

What terrible angst it creates

to be five minutes late!

Waiting…Earth we could circumnavigate.

After endless wait, we celebrate.

Good outcomes justify the wait!


Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Robert’s cataract surgery went well yesterday, and he has started to see improvements in his vision. Thank you to my fellow bloggers for their encouragement and good wishes. It means a lot to me. ❤

I wrote this poem to distract me and pass the time while I was waiting for Robert’s surgery to be completed. The form is a ZIGGERAUT: two lines of two words each, three lines of three words each, four lines of four words each, and five lines of five words each. The rhyme pattern is aa, bbb, cccc, ddddd.

A Desert Rose

Cultivated desert roses in a garden. Photo by Meggie from Pixabay.

A Desert Rose

Our little world envelops us in love,

transcending chaos that surrounds us now,

safe haven from earth’s dark duplicity,

a green oasis, peace in desert heat.

Affection in your eyes, my hand in yours,

a gentle word, a loving touch…encouragement

along our earthly path’s uncertainties.

Your inner strength sustains my fainting heart.

When threats of war surround on every side…

vile pestilence, pollution, and unrest,

ambition fades, possessions matter less,

but love endures and blooms, a desert rose.

This poem is dedicated to Robert, who fills my everyday life with happiness and joy.
Robert in a park on the Myakka River. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.
Desert rose in the African Sahel. Photo by bory67 from Pixabay.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Like the Shakespearean sonnet, BLANK VERSE is a sixteenth century form of poetry written in iambic pentameter. Unlike a sonnet, blank verse is unrhymed. It was used extensively by Shakespeare in his plays and is found in the work of John Milton and other poets of that time.


Robert’s cataract surgery is scheduled for February 1st, and the hectic schedule of appointments begins. I may be very erratic on WordPress in February. Thank you to all who sent good wishes to Robert.

Beyond Earth

Astronauts walking on the moon in 1969, Planet Earth is in the sky. Photo by Joe Han from Unsplash.

Beyond Earth

Hidden by the moon

are stars brighter than the moon…

our earth-perspective.

Beyond the boundaries of earth,

we explore wider vistas.

This morning I woke with a poem I wrote when I was about sixteen years old running through my mind. I wrote the tanka poem above, paraphrasing the poem I remembered from nearly sixty years ago, an update for today. I don’t have a copy of that old poem,”Stars,” but I have reconstructed it from memory and posted it below.

Full moon and stars. Photo by Josh Miller from Unsplash.

Stars

Hidden by the moon

are millions of stars

brighter than the moon.

Because we are small,

it is so.

Because we are wise,

we understand.

Space suit worn by a Russian Cosmonaut, Moscow museum. Photo by iman_os from Unsplash.

When I was eight years old, Russia launched Sputnik, the first satellite, and the “space race” began. Antique relics from early space exploration are on display now in museums. In 1969, when I was twenty, Americans landed on the moon. For the first time, there were photos of the whole earth taken from space.

Planet Earth from space. Photo by NASA from Unsplash.
International Space Station. Photo by NASA from Unsplash.
Space Shuttle. Photo taken in Mexico by Ivan Diaz from Unsplash.

Now, in 2022, fifty-two years after astronauts landed on the moon, unmanned spacecraft routinely photograph distant planets and send the images back to earth. Satellites are used for spy missions and international communication. They show us hurricanes from above, and help to predict weather. Commercial Space travel is in its infancy. Drones are used in warfare and by amateur photographers. Many dead satellites and other “space junk” orbit the earth.

Andromeda Galaxy seen from Russia. Photo by Tengyart from Unsplash.

Humans have much bigger dreams for future travel in space. Before us lie some important lessons about restoring and protecting this beautiful Planet Earth and living in peace with our neighbors. If, in the future, we settle in new worlds, we need to remember those lessons, respect and preserve those new environments, and live in harmony with any civilizations we discover. Star treks, yes…star wars, no!

Sunset in Goa, India, one of the beautiful places on Planet Earth. Photo by Ashutosh Saraswat from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2022 by Cheryl Batavia


Dear Fellow Bloggers,

After two failed root canals, a tooth extraction, and extensive testing of his eyes with different eye drop prescriptions, Robert has finally been cleared for cataract surgery. Numerous appointments have been scheduled for February. I may sometimes be absent from WordPress in the weeks to come. We look forward to Robert’s pre-cataract vision being restored. Many thanks to all of you who have expressed concern for Robert.

Kindest Regards,

Cheryl Batavia

Thoughts on the New Year

Setting Goals for 2022. Photo by Trent Erwin from Unsplash.

Thoughts on the New Year

1

Twenty-twenty-one…

Goodbye! Goodbye! Good riddance!

I won’t miss you much!

2

I am used to you,

twenty-twenty-one. You are

the devil I know.

3

What is worth saving?

What needs to go in the trash

as we move forward?

4

A shiny new year,

like a new diamond ring…

So full of promise!

5

Time to reflect…

Welcome twenty-twenty-two!

Time to turn the page!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


It’s time to pause, to reflect, to write, to make New Year’s Resolutions (or not). I will focus on these objectives from now until 2022, and may not be as active on the blog as usual.

Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!




Photo by Kimson Doan from Unsplash.

Happy New Year!

Much to enjoy.

Much to be thankful for.

Much to hope for.

Much to work toward.

We find inspiration

in the love of family and friends,

in the courage of everyday heroes,

and in the vision of those

whose new ideas

lead to brighter tomorrows.

We move forward

in joy, in gratitude, in hope,

and with the will to persevere.

Wishing You a Bright 2022 !

Much Love,

Cheryl & Robert

Then Days Will Lengthen

Stonehenge. Photo by Jonathan Ridley from Unsplash.

Stonehenge is a Neolithic monument on the Salisbury Plain near Wiltshire, England. Human remains and evidence of prior construction at this site date back to about 8,000 BC. The monument, whose ruins we see today, is believed to have been built from about 3,000 BC to 2,000 BC.

Stonehenge is a popular tourist destination, and every year, thousands of visitors celebrate the summer and winter solstices here. Stonehenge has religious significance to modern Pagans and Neo Druids. It is one of the most important historical sites in Europe.

Source: Wikipedia. There is an excellent article on Stonehenge in Wikipedia, if you are interested in reading more about it.


Then Days Will Lengthen

Forgotten are the venerated trees,

the winter solstice rites of yesteryears.

Neglected are the ancient mysteries.

Our sacred groves are drowned in Gaia’s tears.

Beloved traditions once so highly prized,

now, tattered vestiges of olden times.

Our cherished ambitions, half-realized,

faint echoes of the ancient, mystic rhymes.

A wreath of evergreens adorns my door

for winter solstice, the year’s longest night.

Observing festivities as before,

we’ll dance around a bonfire’s blazing light

and celebrate the cycle of the year.

Then days will lengthen, bringing us good cheer!

Photo by Hans Isaacson from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia.


This poem was written for Ingrid’s “Festive Sonnet Sunday” at https://experimentsinfiction.com/2021/12/19/festive-sonnet-sunday

Please check there to read Shakespearean Sonnets by many poets. Thank you, Ingrid, for sponsoring this wonderful event!

Photo by Christian Mercado from Unsplash.

Happy First Day of Winter!

(December 21st)

Christmas Delights

Photo of a nativity scene by Alexis from Pixabay. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25th.

Christmas Delights

Christmas

smells delightful…

fresh-cut evergreen boughs

aroma of cookies baking

hot cider with cinnamon sticks

roses on the table

festive dinner

warm fire

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels.

Christmas

sounds beautiful…

carolers caroling

crusted snow crunching underfoot

“Merry Christmas!” heard everywhere

Santa’s big “ho, ho, ho!”

children’s laughter

church bells

Photo by from Unsplash.

Christmas,

a lovely sight…

colored lights and tinsel

boat parades with Santas aboard

people dressed in their party clothes

lighted pines and palm trees

evergreen wreaths

holly

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Unsplash.

Christmas

is delicious…

candy canes, fruits, and nuts

Christmas dinner at Grandma’s house

kisses under the mistletoe

snowflakes cold on my tongue

steaming cocoa

fruitcake

Photo by Raspopova Marina from Unsplash.

Christmas

is heartwarming…

sitting on Santa’s knee

surprises in Christmas stockings

Christmas baskets given away

cookies left for Santa

cards from old friends

goodwill

Photo by drz from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Visits Then and Now & A Tribute to My Daughters

Katey and Ellen visit their brother, Joe, and his dog, BABY, on their way home from my house.

Visits Then and Now

A couple of years ago,

when my daughters visited me,

we were on our way to swim with manatees…

All tours were cancelled!

On the road, we found

restaurants serving only carry-out.

Two hours before we arrived at our hotel,

the dining room closed…

The museum we had planned to visit

had closed the day before.

We walked around the city

for two days, eating carry-out.

Beaches had closed near my house.

My daughters caught

one of the last flights home to Texas…

Covid had arrived!

This year my daughters visited…

vaccinated, masks ready, restaurants serving,

beaches open, manatees waiting…

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving sunset at Blind Pass Beach. Photo by Ellen.
From my beach chair, I watched Katey build this sand castle with a moat connected to the Gulf of Mexico. Ellen, meanwhile, was swimming enthusiastically in the cool water. She came out just in time to photograph the sunset and Katey’s sand castle.

A Tribute to My Daughters

My daughters, Ellen and Katey, visited a very elaborate Pumpkin Patch near their home in Texas.

A Tribute to My Daughters

Ellen and Katey volunteered at their church to help with Vacation Bible School, online this year because of Covid 19. They are standing in front of one of the sets they helped to build. Ellen was also involved in writing and other aspects of the project. Church members wrote the script, composed and performed original music, and videotaped the episodes with great skill! It’s a big church with a lot of talented volunteers.

Eve Ellen

makes her mother proud…

ambitious,

creative,

dedicated. Her life is

a labor of love.

Katey and Ellen frequently help out at a friend’s horse barn and enjoy riding the horses. All types of animals gravitate toward both of my daughters.

Katey Marie

makes her mother proud.

Her joy is

contagious!

Horses, dogs, friends, family…

life shared in photos.

Ellen and Katey enjoyed the sights and the rides at the fair.

Emails, calls…

My daughters have their

far-away

lives to live.

Times spent together, precious…

cherished memories!

Rez and Vibe love to cuddle. Vibe, in the foreground, is on his way to becoming a huge dog!
Vibe and Ellen. Vibe loves the pool…Rez, not so much! Vibe also enjoys kayak rides, but I am afraid he may already be too big for that.
Katey, Cheryl, & Ellen in front of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” a mural at the Ringling Circus Museum. The museum visit is one of the wonderful memories of our trip.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


This is the final post about my daughters’ visit during Thanksgiving week!

The second poem is my attempt at writing sharadomas, a form of poetry featured on David’s blog, “The skeptic’s kaddish of a son.” The poem, “Warm love or: Glowing memories” was posted on December 7, 2021. Sharadoma stanzas have a syllable count of 3/5/3/3/7/5. I didn’t attempt a cleave poem, although David’s was lovely!

Animals at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park & Poems about Some of the Animals

My daughters, Katey and Ellen in front of Pippa, the Hippo’s, cage. Pippa is the only exotic animal at Homosassa Wildlife State Park. The beloved sixty-one-year-old hippo was granted official Florida citizenship by the governor of Florida when the zoo transitioned to a wildlife park for Florida animals many years ago.

The majority of the animals at Homosassa Wildlife State Park are rescued animals that are unable to survive in the wild: manatees injured by boat propellers being rehabilitated in the manatee rescue center, animals who were hit by cars, birds unable to fly because of impaired vision or injuries to their wings, endangered squirrels and other rare animals raised illegally in captivity and confiscated from their owners.

The whooping cranes were from a program to reestablish these endangered birds in Florida. The female whooping crane has impaired vision and cannot fly. The male found her at Homosassa Wildlife State Park and joined her in her enclosure. He could fly away, but he stays. Whooping cranes mate for life, and this is a very touching pair!

The tropical bird enclosure, like most of the enclosures, is open at the top. It has a stream running through it and is shaded by lovely trees. I saw egrets, once hunted almost to extinction for their mating plumage, flying into and out of the enclosure. They are free to visit, or maybe they are choosing to live there.

The marine fish seen from the underwater observatory under the main spring migrate seasonally, as do the manatees in the Homosassa River near the hot springs. Public boat travel is restricted in this area to protect these migratory animals.

American flamingos, extinct in Florida for over 100 years, were discovered about ten years ago living in the Florida Everglades. No one knows for sure how they got there, but they probably came from Central or South America. We are thrilled to have them living in the wild in Florida once again. I don’t know if the flamingos in the tropical bird enclosure are rescues or are part of an effort to reintroduce them to their former range.

Alligators, hunted almost to extinction for their hides, are now protected and are once again plentiful in Florida. Programs now collect a few young alligators from their nests, raise them to a size where they can defend themselves from predators, and release them to ensure their continued success in the wild.

The black vultures, handsome lively birds, live at the park by choice, but they are a welcome clean-up crew. We saw them stealing what appeared to be fresh-cut grain from the hippo after they ate the insects from his back. We saw them visiting the black bear and perched in the trees.

The red wolves are endangered and are part of a captive breeding program to reintroduce them into Florida.

Florida Panthers, proud symbol of Florida, are endangered and seriously inbred. Panthers from Texas were brought in a few years ago to refresh the gene pool. Along Route 75, “Alligator Alley,” that runs from east to west through the Florida Everglades, high fences have recently been erected to protect panthers from traffic.

The aging dike at Lake Okeechobe has undergone extensive renovations this year. Nutrient-rich water released from the lake has caused red tides in the Gulf of Mexico and blue-green algae overgrowth in our rivers, sickening people, killing fish, dolphins, endangered manatees and endangered sea turtles. From now on, water will be released from the lake into bodies of water in much smaller amounts. The water from Lake Okeechobe will once again flow into the Florida Everglades as it was intended to do. I think Wildlife numbers will increase there due to this restoration.

I hesitated to provide detailed background information in this post. After all, I only spent half a day walking around the park and reading signs. That is the source of most of the information given about the park. I am not a biologist or expert on the environment, just a retired elementary school teacher and amateur poet who loves animals and cares about wildlife and the environment. I have done some research on wildlife to write my enviromnent-themed book series about Florida animals, Hanging Out with Wild Animals. You can read more about the books on my website.

It is tragic that so many animals have been injured and driven to extinction by human settlement and human activities, but the animals who live at Homosassa Wildlife State Park, though disabled, help to raise public awareness of wildlife and environmental issues. As the sign says, they are “ambassadors of wildlife.”


Animals at Homosassa Springs

Wildlife State Park

Endangered whooping crane. Photo by Amber Langeloni from Pixabay.

Love Birds

Male whooping crane joined

flightless female whooping crane

in her enclosure.

He could choose to fly away,

but he loves her, so he stays.

River otter. Photo by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay.

River Otters

You’ve got to be quick

to capture river otters

with your camera.

Appearing, disappearing

through plants on water’s surface.

Bald eagles. Photo by Jonathan Cooper from Unsplash.

Bald Eagle, National Bird

It’s been a long time

since these two injured eagles

soared Florida’s skies

American flag above ,

they watch as life passes by.

A school of snook viewed from the underwater observatory at the main spring of Homosassa State Wildlife Park. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Migrating Marine Fish

In the wintertime,

marine fish, like manatees,

migrate to hot springs.

Manatees and marine fish

thrive in seas and fresh water.

Florida bobcat. Photo by Meg Jerrard from Unsplash.

Bobcats & Florida Panthers

Florida bobcats

now coexist with humans

in suburbia.

Florida panthers, pride of

Florida, are endangered.

Flamingos in the tropical bird area. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Egret and roseate spoonbills. Photo by Kurt Anderson from Pexels.

Tropical Birds

Sparkling waters flow

through green paradise,

home of tropical birds.

Pink flamingos and spoonbills,

night herons, and sleeping swans.

Red wolf. Photo by Lucie Sa Vi from Unsplash.

Red Wolves

Endangered red wolves

roam a spacious enclosure,

delighting humans.

Procreation their purpose…

red wolf repopulation.

American alligator. Photo by Katey Batavia.

Alligators

Alligators live

in a pond that’s metal fenced…

Visitors are safe.

Prehistoric predators…

fearsome reptiles captivate.

Black vultures. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Black Vulture Family

Handsome black vultures

choose to live at the preserve…

welcome scavengers!

Perching on the hippo’s back,

they eat insects, then share his food.

Pippa, the hippo at Homosassa State Wildlife Park. Photo by Katey Batavia.

Pippa, the Hippopotamus,

Age Sixty-One

Grandfathered from days

when exotic animals

were in residence.

Citizen of Florida,

world’s oldest captive hippo.

American black bear. Photo by Katey Batavia.

Ambassadors

of Florida Wildlife

Most animals here

are unable to survive

living on their own.

Protected, they now serve

as ambassadors of wildlife.

Rare, endangered squirrel now unable to live in the wild because it was illegally raised in captivity. Photo by Ellen Maher.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


For more information:

floridastateparks.org

Find a Park:

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

The Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida & A Young Boy’s Circus Dreams

Photo by Cheryl Batavia

My daughters, Ellen and Katey, on the bayfront terrace of Ca’D’Zan, the 1920s Venetian-style mansion of John and Mable Ringling. They lived and entertained in this home for 90 days a year during the winter. Sarasota was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus for many years. A luxury private railway car, The Wisconsin, was John and Mable Ringling’s home for much of the year as they traveled around booking acts for the circus. The car, complete with stained glass, can be toured in the Circus Museum.

The mansion features stained glass windows, hand-carved, hand-decorated ceilings, and antique furnishings. My favorite room is the ballroom with its beautiful wide plank floors and gorgeous ceiling depicting dancing couples from different eras. The main room of the mansion is several stories high and has a view of Sarasota Bay through pastel-colored stained glass windows. The room has an ornate grand piano and a pipe organ that cost $25,000 in the 1920s.

Mable Ringling’s wagon wheel-shaped rose garden has approximately 1,250 antique roses, many from the 17th and 18th centuries, and is surrounded by statues of courting couples.

The sixty-six-acre estate has numerous other gardens and several museums. We spent about half a day exploring the mansion and the Circus Museum on this trip. Multiple galleries feature priceless circus memorabilia. There are elaborately hand-carved and painted antique circus wagons, calliopes, gorgeous vintage costumes made of silk and embroidered with faux gems, old circus photos, and informative and entertaining videos.

There is a 31-gallery art museum famous for its world class collection of old masters. Besides its permanent collections, the art museum hosts various exhibits. I have visited the art museum several times in the past. You could easily spend a day there. There is also an historic theater which hosts live performances.

Katey takes a selfie in front of one of the fourteen banyan trees on the estate, a gift from Thomas Edison, who raised several types of banyan trees at his winter estate in Fort Myers, Florida. In the photo: Katey, Cheryl, and Ellen.

Unless stated otherwise, photos in this post were taken by Katey Batavia and Ellen Maher.

Sculpture above the entrance to the Circus Museum.

A scene from the Howard Brothers Model Circus, which recreates an early 20th century circus. Howard Tibbals, a retired circus performer, created the 44,000-piece display by hand over a fifty-year period. The display occupies 3,800 square feet in the museum.

Multiple acts took place simultaneously under the big top.

Animal acts and the menagerie allowed many people to see exotic animals for the first time.

The menagerie.

A circus parking lot filled with beautifully-crafted vintage cars. Schools and businesses shut down on circus day so that people for miles around could attend the circus.

There were side shows where people could entertain themselves with novelty acts as they waited for the circus to start under the big top.
The circus train carried the circus from town to town. When set up, the circus was like a small city. It took over a thousand workers to set up the circus and take it down. They could set the circus up in four hours for the day’s performance. Then they would tear it down and set up again in the next town. Most performances lasted only one day.

Young boys and girls all across the country loved the glamour and excitement of the circus. Many had big dreams of joining the circus someday.

A Young Boy’s Circus Dreams

Photo by Jeremiah Lawrence from Unsplash.

A Young Boy’s Circus Dreams

I’ll join the circus!

A ringmaster in top hat

and tails, I will say…

“Ladies and gentlemen! Children

of all ages! Welcome!”

I’ll join the circus,

ride an elephant bareback,

and teach bears to dance.

Lions and tigers will purr

when I crack my whip and grin!

I’ll join the circus,

a goofy clown…folks laughing,

watching me fall down.

I’ll honk my red nose, driving

crazy in my tiny car!

I’ll join the circus!

Wearing flashy spangled tights,

I’ll walk the high wire,

and catch flying girls from my

high trapeze…Crowds will go wild!

I’ll join the circus

and see the world from a train…

each day, a new town!

I’ll come home for vacation…

fish all day…eat Mom’s peach pie.


Ellen in a tiny car in the interactive exhibit.
Katey, trick rider, interactive exhibit.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


May All Your Days Be Circus Days!

Upcoming posts will feature more adventures from our travels during Thanksgiving week. It was so good to see my daughters again, and we had a fabulous time!

For more information about The Ringling Museum, visit their website, ringling.org

“A Great Miracle Happened Here!”

A Poem about Hanukkah, a Jewish Holiday beginning this year on November 28

Jews celebrate the eighth night of Hanukkah. Eight candles burn in a menorah. The ninth candle in the center is used to light the other candles. Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels.

“A Great Miracle Happened Here!”

Hanukkah menorah lights burn bright.

Just one candle is lit on the first night,

two on the second, three on the third…

On the last night, all eight are burned!

A woman gambling for Hanukkah gelt, spinning a dreidel. The letters inscribed on dreidels stand for, “A great miracle happened here!” Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels.

Spin the dreidels…Their message is clear:

“A great miracle happened here!”

Tell the Hanukkah story, please,

of Jerusalem reclaimed by the Maccabees.

Drawing the Star of David. Photo by Cottonbro from Pexels.

In Jerusalem, the temple’s rededication

was cause for joyous celebration.

They had enough oil to burn for only one day…

but for eight days, the temple lamps blazed!

Photo of a violinist by Cottonbro from Pexels.

Bring out the latkes, sing the songs.

Hanukkah celebrations are eight days long!

Love of religious freedom is heartfelt,

holiday memories as sweet as Hanukkah gelt!

Hanukkah gelt, chocolate coins covered in foil. Photo by Rodnae Productions from Pexels.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


The events commemorated by Hanukkah occurred about 167 BCE. The history of the period is very complex, but well worth learning more about. I especially like the story of Judith, a spy who helped win the war to reclaim Jerusalem. Hanukkah is generally viewed today as a celebration of religious freedom.

For a poem about Hanukkah as celebrated by our family when our children were young, see “Eighth Night of Hanukkah.” https://gulfcoastpoet.com/2020/12/02/eighth-night-of-hanukkah/

Happy Hanukkah!

We Are Thankful

by Ellen Maher

Photo by Brad West from Unsplash.

We Are Thankful

We pilgrims are thankful

For what you have brought us

We were strangers in a land that was not our home

With your help we have made it

Through the barren winters

We know in the cold to come, we’re not alone.

I thank you for what you have done

I thank you for the rain and the sun

I thank you for the seeds to sow

I thank you for the way you make it all grow

Photo by Suzy Brooks from Unsplash.

We pilgrims are thankful

For the foods that feed us

For the time to be together

The harvest is here now

And the food is gathered

You have made us ready for any kind of weather

I thank you for what you have done

I thank you for the rain and the sun

I thank you for the seeds to sow

I thank you for the way you make it all grow

Ellen Maher and Katey Batavia

LN Maher

©1996 Echoes of the Lion’s Roar

http://lnechoes.blogspot.com/


My daughters, Ellen Maher and Katey Batavia will be visiting over the Thanksgiving week, November 21-27. I am so excited to see them for the first time in almost two years! I will be off WordPress to spend some time with them. A swim with the manatees at Crystal River is planned. It was canceled last time because of Covid 19. We are eagerly looking forward to the trip.

The poem above was written by Ellen. She is an ordained Baptist chaplain and a teacher and administrator in a recovery program that deals with issues such as grief, addiction, and illness. She also volunteers for many special projects at her church. This year she helped to produce a video for a virtual Vacation Bible School during the pandemic. Ellen writes religious poems on her blog, Echoes of the Lion’s Roar.

Happy Thanksgiving!

West Indian Manatee. Photo by Maegan Luckleish from Unsplash.

Message in a Bottle

A Fantasy

Photo by Scott Van Hoy from Unsplash.

Message in a Bottle

A Fantasy

A barefoot wanderer on the sands of time,

moment to moment, no reason or rhyme,

searching for a message in a bottle along the shoreline,

but pebbles on the beach were all I could find.

Looking for the light of my life, year after year,

I sang along with the music of the spheres,

seeking someone to sing with me as we embark,

two-by-two onto an archetypical ark.

I rowed my small boat…on dry land I planted my feet.

Miracle of miracles, soon we were dancing cheek-to-cheek!

All was bright where once were darkness and strife.

I smiled at you, the light of my life!

From each rising sun to the next rising sun,

on top of the world, under the gun,

or tossed by capricious seas, we’ve had a good run.

We’ve sailed life together, and it’s been fun!

Hand-in-hand on the beach we walk as before;

a message in a bottle washes up on the shore.

With hearts aflutter and chaos of mind,

we uncork the bottle, unsettled by what we find.

With the music of the spheres our hearts are attuned,

but the message in the bottle portends impending doom.

It says, “Tis a short voyage from cradle to tomb.”

We face an epic tidal wave…The end has come so soon!

Photo by Kampus from Pexels.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Valued Possessions

Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash.

Valued Possessions

Forest

fire! Flames creeping

down the mountainside.

Air smells smokey in our yard.

We load our car with our treasures…

Fifteen photo albums,

our life story…

valued!

Forest

fire extinguished!

Smoke and fear dissipate.

We unpack our car with smiles and

new insights of what we value…

Family history,

daughter’s childhood…

valued!


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


One Saturday about forty years ago, when my husband was at work, my young daughter, Ellen, and I watched fire and smoke moving down the mountainside toward our house. We packed our car with something irreplaceable…our photo albums. My fifty-two-year-old daughter still has those albums, memories of her childhood.

An Album of Childhood

Photo by Joice Kelly from Unsplash.
Photo by Romina Veliz from Unsplash
Photo by Josh Applegate from Unsplash.
Photo by NeonBrand from Unsplash.

Photo by Deb Dowd from Unsplash.

Photo by Prince Abid from Unsplash.
Photo by Robert Collins from Unsplash.

Little Human vs. Global Destruction

In Response to the Climate Summit

Photo from Pexels.

Little Human vs. Global Destruction

Global Destruction, a villian

about as bad as they come,

believed his evil takeover plan

was too big to be undone.

“What do I care, little human,

for your miniscule potential?

Do what little you can;

it’s quite inconsequential!”

Joy sprang like a weed

in the little human’s heart.

He knew humans could succeed

if they all did their part!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Flimflam World

Homebuyers talking to a real estate agent. Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.

Diogenes carried a lamp through city streets in the daytime “looking for an honest man.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute!” P.T. Barnum

“I believe that people are basically good.” Anne Frank

“Trust but verify.” Old Russian Proverb


Flimflam World

The longer you live, the more crooks you will find

bound and determined to rob you blind!

They do so many things that just aren’t right.

which makes me wonder, how do they sleep at night,

these con artists, schemers, and scammers,

charlatans and flimflammers?

Call Center. Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.

The world is crawling with dirty dealers,

false advertisers, chiselers, and cheaters.

Swindlers make promises too good to be true.

Fly-by-night tradesmen are targeting you.

Annoying junk mail and phone soliciters

are high-pressure hucksters and time wasters.

Hacker. Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.

There’s no end in sight for white collar crime,

false advertisers, identity thieves online,

snake oil salesmen, online quacks,

weight loss gurus, and computer hackers.

Dressed for success are those insider traders,

predatory lenders, and pension fund raiders.

Photo of an incarcerated man by Rodnae from Pexels.

On social media, conspiracy theories confuse.

Questionable sources proclaim, “Fake news!”

Who can we trust to make criminals stop?

Not corrupt politicians or crooked cops!

With so many people who intend to deceive,

how can we ever know what to believe?

Photo by Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash.

My suggestion of the place to start:

Make sure you, yourself, are pure in heart!

Do an honest day’s work, treat others fairly,

and set an example of honor and integrity.

Don’t value leaders above ethical beliefs…

Charismatic leaders may be liars and thieves.

Don’t believe everything you read or hear!

Consider all opinions until the issues are clear.

Avoid anything that seems too good to be true.

“Trust, but verify!” is a motto to pursue.

Crooks are vastly outnumbered by honest folks.

Believe in yourself, and don’t give up hope!

Photo by Gabriel Chrismariu on Unsplash.

Copyright © 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

I Remember Rainbows

Photo by Harry Quan from Unsplash.

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all

Emily Dickinson

Many people are wondering whether it is too late to restore the environment to health. I don’t know the answer, but I HOPE that it is not too late! The poem below is the last of my three environment-themed Halloween Sonnets.


I Remember Rainbows

I live today on earth, a shabby place,

in dreary post-apocalyptic haze,

but I remember glowing rainbow hues,

and sunny skies above, quite clear and blue,

and even if my skies are grey today,

lush rainbow colors flood my dreams always!

No fish are swimming in polluted streams;

in dreams, clear rivers flow to shining seas.

No birds are singing in the leafless trees,

but dream-birds nest in trees of verdant green!

Though even weeds can’t bloom in sterile clay,

I dream of vivid flowers every day

where dream-bees feed in joyous, playful scenes,

and I remember rainbows in my dreams.

Photo by Angelo Casto from Unsplash.
Photo by Nuno Antunos from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia

Pact with the Prince of Darkness:

A Halloween Sonnet Fantasy

Photo by Gursimrat Ganda from Unsplash

Pact with the Prince of Darkness:

A Halloween Sonnet Fantasy

Forlorn, undead on dying planet earth,

humanity extinct, I curse my birth.

Alas! I sold my soul and cannot die!

For eons, I have roamed the earth and sky

by noxious seas that drowned the firmament,

beneath vile haze that cloaked earth like a tent,

all now restored to lucid sea and sky.

Though void of life, the new-formed land is dry.

Millennia have wiped all stains away.

How slowly life evolves until the day

when humans walk this precious world again!

I dread the evil deeds I must do then,

to serve the Fiend who bought my worthless life.

O Gods, please pardon me and let me die!


Copyright © 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Satan, Beelzebub, the Fiend, the Devil, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness…There are numerous names for the personification of evil. Many classic myths and stories portray a character who promises to serve the Devil in exchange for granting them a favor. In this case, the character sells his soul to live on after all other human beings become extinct. The poem also tells a tale of the destruction and regeneration of the earth.

At approximately age five, I remember marching in a Halloween parade wearing a Devil costume, red with horns and a tail, and carrying a pitchfork! My siblings subsequently grew into the costume.

Photo by Mikail Nilov from Unsplash.

Alone in a Lost World

Burned-out boat on display at Bombay Beach, a ghost town by the Salton Sea in California. The Salton Sea is a dead body of water that is slowly drying up, and the town is now a sort of art museum. Photo by Design Class on Unsplash.

Alone in a Lost World

Bright rainbow hues have faded now away;

I waken in a world of cheerless grey.

Accursed, I walk beside a stinking sea

where once the dolphins came to swim with me.

From heights I view the valley that was home,

a city veiled in haze, a silent tomb.

Bereft at night beneath a blackened sky,

I seek in vain the twinkling stars on high.

No plea restores the music of the night;

the crickets sing no more! I curse my plight

and long for kindred souls to share my days.

I pray to rise on wings and fly away.

Beloved spirits smile and beckon me

to Heaven in the world that used to be.

Photo by Dottie Maybry from Unsplash.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


Halloween Sonnet Festival

Ingrid’s Halloween Sonnet Festival inspired me to learn to write sonnets. Few things scare me more than the impending doom of global warming, climate change, deforestation, species extinction, and pollution. We need to change our ways NOW if we hope to prevent the ubiquitous doomsday predictions from coming true.

Check out the Halloween Sonnet Festival on Ingrid’s blog, experimentsinfiction.com!

Security Guards at the Masquerade Ball

Masquerade Ball. Photo by Michael Cochran on flickr.

Security Guards at the Masquerade Ball

At masked balls, Mack, the guests all look a fright!

Look sharp for party-crashing thieves tonight.

A movie star! We can’t arrest Charlie Chaplain!

Now, Sherlock Holmes has seen us watching him.

It’s hard to tell about the yeti; he smells okay!

There’s Cleopatra, wearing a wig, I’d say.

I’m sure Dracula’s no genuine vampire;

he’s with the Queen of Hearts beside the fire.

King Kong, right there, is getting pretty tipsy.

Look how he’s dancing with that buxom gypsy!

Saint Nicholas may be our man, eh Jack?

Let’s go and see what’s in that great big sack.

He’s pinched some fruit and wine off the buffet.

Ho, ho, ho, Santa! No crime in that, I say!

Masquerade Ball. Photo by Michael Cochran from flickr.

Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


This is my attempt at a Halloween Sonnet suggested by Ingrid at experimentsinfiction. Ingrid is sponsoring a Halloween Sonnet Festival. Sonnets are not my forte, but I thought it would be fun to participate. Thank you, Ingrid, for a bit of Halloween fun. 🙂


Thank you to all of those who kindly responded to that test post from WordPress! ❤ It was intended to track down an email of a post that WordPress sent me. The test post was not supposed to be visible. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Ghosts of Halloweens Past, Reblog

Photo by Taylor Rooney from Unsplash

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Cauldrons of magic potions steaming,

Black cats awakening from dreaming.

Cardboard witch astride her broom

cackles under the harvest moon.

Disney princesses in jeweled crowns

are panhandling all over town.

Frankenstein’s monster is resurrected.

Roaming mummies have been detected.

Blow-up ghosts hover mysteriously,

orange lights twinkle in shrubbery.

Hanging from the live oak trees,

paper skeletons dance in the breeze.

Photo by Conner Baker from Unsplash

Spooky music is beckoning,

roving children are threatening,

“Trick or treat! Trick or treat!”

on every suburban street.

Little pirate brandishes a toy sword,

winning him a sweet reward!

Cat Woman says,”Thank you.”

Neighbor says,”Have fun, you two!”

Jack o’lanterns glow,

grinning at the passing show.

Flickering candles beneath

backlight their jagged teeth.

Vampires in windswept black

pantomime a plastic-fang attack.

Howling werewolves with hairy arms

induce us to pretend alarm.

A little troll walks with a giant bunny.

Funny thing is, he calls her “Mummy!”

Diminutive dragons are holding hands

with a Cat-in-a-Hat they call “Dad!”

Wolfing down all the candy they can eat,

Halloween’s children fall blissfully sleep.

Mom chews bubblegum. Dad eats M & Ms.

“Oh no! We can’t stop! When will it all end?


Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia