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Staying home with the babies…

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As it turns out, Lucy and I are spending this week in two different places. She is staying at the Bradenton KOA (Kampground of Armstrong) and I am home, mostly alone, at the Crowes’s Nest (beach house). I am very lonely when we aren’t together so … what’s up?

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“Mostly alone” because AVA is with me. 

Daughter Alicia, is attending a week long real estate sales seminar, so “Mimi” Lucy is doing school bus driver, housekeeper, grandmother, duty. She loves being helpful and spending time with the Armstrong’s…

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Daughter Alicia and granddaughter Alana always make Lucy feel special…

As it turns out it is a “win-win-win” situation. Lucy gets to spend quality one-on-one time with the Bradenton family, the kids get to spend quality time with their Mimi and Lucy gets a break from hanging out with me 24/7. Our reunion is always spectacular. Lots of hugging, kissing and………..

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Six year old granddaughter “Lucy Jo” turned her bedroom over to Mimi. Here is the welcome sign that Lucy made for her grandmother. Wonderful memories for sure…

So………… why am I not with them? Good question. I too am performing “childcare” duties. Difference is, all of my “Children” are GREEN. Lucy and I have planted lots of edible plants and they need daily care. Watering, weeding, tilling, mulching and feeding. I am also in charge of our hardworking earthworms… Even the worms, in their cozy worm towers, need care. Our practice of Vermiculture is dependent on the care and feeding of our two towers of European Nightcrawler’s.

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We spent a lot of time and energy turning the ugly ornamental planting bed into a vegetable garden. I installed a nice paver-path and the screened in pool cage helps to guard against unwanted insects. You can watch a time-lapse video of the family effort conversion here. Please; Like, Comment and Share…

We have planted quite a variety of veggies and we hope to have enough to share with family…

Here is what I’m up to.

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Our patch of “Golden Bantam” sweet corn is doing great. Already waist high. We have interplanted zucchini squash. It will grow under the corn stalks, protected from the hot sun. The squash will help to eliminate weds by shading them out.

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Our watermelon plants are doing fantastic. They are planted under the baby Gumbo Limbo tree that I planted in our front yard. Companion planting is a proven method of increasing vigor in all plants. I started the tree from a branch pruning.

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Our watermelon plants are already in bloom. With luck, these five plants will provide lots of, big, fat, juicy, sweet, melons. It takes a few months for them to grow to edible size – we will be anxiously waiting.

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Our micro-greens, planted in a repurposed water softener tank, are already providing tender greens for our daily salads. Succession planting will help to insure a ready supply.

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Our well tended nursery is full of babies waiting to take their places in our various garden spaces. In these cribs; cucumbers, kale, dill, egg plant, yellow and green peppers.

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This area of our garden contains; two kinds of radishes, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, tomatoes and Kentucky wonder beans. It is our “Three Sisters Garden” spot.

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In these pots, three different varieties of fig trees. There are also three purple sweet potato slips that will be transplanted into our main garden spot. Lucy loves figs and I love Lucy.

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We don’t plant many ornamental varieties, but this young Frangipani tree sure ads a nice visual accent and a marvelous aroma…

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In these rows, Lucy’s favorite “Sugar Snap Peas” are joined by purple tomatoes and Easter egg radishes. All are doing well. 

It is a pleasure waking up each morning, pouring myself a cup of fresh coffee and walking out to see ll the growth in our Victory Garden. It is even more fun when sjhared with my sweet spouse. I am missing her mucho, but grateful for the time she gets to spend with our family.

What are you growing this year? I would love to read in the comments and see some of your photos. Until next time remember;

“It ain’t easy being green.” Kermit the Frog

I lost my MoJo…

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I am not sure when it started, but my verve and zest have left…fishing rodWhen Lucy and I moved here to Fort Myers, in 1999, we were always happiest when we were doing something. Staying home was boring…

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We sold our farm, bought our fifty-seven foot Chris Craft “Constellation” and moved aboard. From our home port in the Fort Myers Yacht Basin we enjoyed traveling to many new locations and participated in lots of great adventures…. That’s Lucy on the “Tide-Ride” boarding ladder. She had just returned from her gig as a guide at the Edison Ford Estate. Lucy really enjoyed that job and the visitors loved her. She even got to dress up in period costume as “Mrs. Clara Ford”. The marina was close enough to the attraction that she was able to commute by bicycle…

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A couple of years living aboard was enough. We sold “Southern Cross” and drove to Fort Valley, Georgia to buy our next unconventional home – a Bluebird “Wanderlodge”. This big, luxurious Motorcoach served as a wonderful rolling home to Lucy and I and our youngest daughter Aimee. We called it home for three years and enjoyed every minute. We had our 1972 vintage Airstream “Overland” stored nearby. We towed the Airstream to many, many campgrounds around the sate of Florida and had a ball…

IMG_3658Our current pool home here on Fort Myers Beach is where I started to “Lose it”. I haven’t been on my bicycles – mountain or road in two years…

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Bicycles (and people) start to decay if they aren’t used. For some reason I just can’t get my energy up to swing my leg over the saddle and hit the rail. I don’t know why…

1052228_10203935608939634_9070195427082874003_oLucy and I have been avid kayakers since 1976. We have paddled thousands of miles in our pointy boats, but in the last two years they have only been in the water one time…

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Yes, this is my last “Lost MoJo expedition”. I just wanted to see if I could still sit in it without capsizing. we can launch right here from our dock, drive two miles to Lover’s Key to launch or trailer to any number of streams, creeks or rivers – but we haven’t. Why why why?

IMG_3485The view from our beach house is incredibly beautiful. The big house is nicely furnished, air-conditioned and has a big two car “Workshop” for all my pending projects… I just never feel like leaving…

421832_10200725603211497_1930133870_nLucy – my much younger spouse – still rides her bike quite frequently and always asks me to accompany her. I don’t. Why? No MOJO. It’s ridiculous….

IMG_3621Lately, I have become expert at: Napping, Cooking, Baking, Floating in our pool, Watching hours of Netflix, amazon and YouTube on our big flat screen TV. I am getting NO EXERCISE, NO ADVENTURE and NO MOJO…

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I have stage four CKD and two symptoms are “Muscle Wasting” and “Fatigue”. I am seventy years old and I have lived a very busy life – until now. Lucy loves me – June first was our forty-eighth anniversary – and she wants me to “Live long and prosper”.

If you have any suggestions to help me rekindle or reignite my MOJO, please post up. If you are feeling the same as I am, please share. If you think I am a big, whiney baby, who just needs to suck it up and get a life – tell me that too… Well I have to sign off. It’s time for my nap and I have to go in the kitchen and check my soup…

The evils of “WEED”

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I don’t know why, but during the summer Lucy and I let the weeds take over our garden spot.

I am sure it was a combination of; “dangerously high-temps, too much rain and very few vegetables will make it through the summer heat.” So, now it’s time (actually a little past time) to plant our Fall garden…

First step was to set up an oasis in the backyard.

At age 67, with several annoying health issues, I have to take it somewhat “Slow and Easy“. Having a place to get out of the sun for a breather and a drink of water, is a must. My EZ-UP shelter, folding camp table and plastic chair worked great. Of course, I have NPR playing on my radio. My even older friend “Sahadeo” from Guyana always says “Don’t fatigue head.” Even at 78 he is a very hard worker.

The grapes of wrath…

One end of our garden has two struggling grape vines. It was hard to see them because they were completely hidden by the much more aggressive weeds. I had to be very careful to prevent injuring them as I dug up the “bad plants”. Of course there really aren’t any “bad plants” just some that pop-up in the wrong location…

Our honeybees are just as excited by the pollen and nectar from a weed as they are about an ornamental…..

The next step will be to set up string lines to define the garden borders. Once borders are up, will remove all invasive species and begin to mulch and amend the dry, sandy soil. We use a ton of natural mulch in the form of chips from the utility crew shredders. Sometimes we get lucky and they will dump the entire load in our yard…..

We will do a little each morning and a little each evening. Mid-day temperatures are just too hot to work in. We will post follow up blogs as the garden comes together.

Thank you for looking, “Spokesman” Dave

The Only Woman… (Day one)

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The invitation said; “Family event” suitable for man, woman and child…

When I told Lucy about the “Florida Land Rover Club” get together planed for a weekend to off-road around the Citrus Recreation Area… she was all in. Turned out she had a wonderful time even though she was the ONLY woman in the woods. Needless to say, she was treated like a very attractive queen…

Lucy and I don’t like to hurry- unless we have to. In this case a sedate, leisure pace was in order. Stops to prowl around were allowed. We weren’t expected to arrive at the campground until late afternoon…

… We like to “travel light” (tongue in cheek) so we only loaded the “bare” essentials… As usual our oldie but goodie 1996 Land Rover, Discovery, was the ideal vehicle for our varied needs. The vehicle is wonderful, both traveling at seventy miles an hour on the interstate and crawling along at five miles an hour on the nastiest trails we can find…

We drove several hours before our first stop just North of Lakeland, Florida in Polk County.  Gator Creek Preserve is a clean, well maintained park with some awesome hiking/biking trails and a large covered pavilion. Perfect to enjoy a couple of Lucy’s delicious homemade sandwiches. Sierra the wonder dog was ready for a break too…

Since this was to be a four-wheel drive off road adventure we did not carry our mountain bikes or Nordic trekking poles. It was really to hot to hike anyway. I set a waypoint in our Garmin 276C GPS for a return trip to explore the entire trail system… Due to the recent rains from tropical storm Debby, everything in the park looked lush and green…We finished our midday meal, saddled up and resumed our trip. Sierra went right to sleep…

It took a few minutes to explain to “Sierra” the wonder dog that she had to ride in the back. Once she was settled back on her fluffy bed – she fell right back to her normal travel routine – SLEEP. While often taken for a Spitz or a Pekinese, Sierra is actually an American Eskimo Dog. She is the perfect size and personality for us. She has a wonderful spirit for adventure. As long as she does not lose sight of Lucy, she is a happy dog. (Sounds like me)…

As luck (and our GPS) would have it, we were routed right past Lucy’s favorite hot-dog restaurant “Coney Island Drive Inn“. This wonderful eatery is located in Brooksville Florida on Highway 41. Lucy lived in Brooksville with her parent and spent her senior year of high school at Hernando High. Lucy and I married in 1968 and our first trip to Coney Island for a delicious foot-long Coney Dog was in 1968 – go figure. Nice people, and a dog friendly patio. Sierra even got her own bowl of ICE water…

Since we didn’t encounter any more – must stop – food joints… we finally arrived at Holder Mine. Trip organizer Aldous Cosmo Gitles was already set-up in a prime campsite and we settled in right next door. Beer was on ice and the huge Oak trees made setting up in their stately shade quire pleasant… “Cosmo” as his numerous Land Rover friends call him, is always the perfect host…

Turned out old friend “Jeep Jockey” Don and his sweet little dog “Maggie” were set up nearby. Don recently bought his new Heartland Edge and a gorgeous fire engine red Jeep to tow it with. Don is a commercial crabber from Largo, Florida and he surprised with some hot, fresh, just out of the fryer soft shell crabs. Deeeeeeelicious. Thanks again “Donmeister”…

Since Lucy was the “Only Woman” I had plenty of assistance setting up camp. Lets just say she never had to ask for anything more than once… The “Guys” made her feel right at home and much “loved”.

Everyone was anxious to hit the trail. Soon as our “City” was built and gear was stowed… Cosmo yelled out “LINE EM UP!” and we were off in a cloud of dust…

It only took a few minutes and a few miles, before Alex stuck his Rover. Then the real fun began. It’s why we all came. ;O)  Tree straps ready, winch grinding and he was quickly and efficiently underway again. A fantastic bunch of guys driving some incredible British Iron and some of the best trails in the state. It’s on………..

The rains had the trails in excellent condition. Dust was minimal. Another great, FLRC trail-run complete, we returned to camp to prepare our evening meals. Great food and big a big fireside planning session for our next full day of off-road adventure…

Our campsite was fantastic. A constant breeze and tons of shade. The night time temperatures were so cool we actually slept under our covers. The moon was bright, the fire flies were abundant and the stories around the campfire went on and on… Another great day and—– I got to sleep with “The Only Woman”

Spokesman, Dave

To be continued:

My Secret Patio

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Serendipity…

Shortly after moving to our modest home in Olga, Florida I accidentally discovered a hidden “secret patio”, buried under six inches of leaf litter and dirt. A bit of hard work with my shovel and a long forgotten treasure was uncovered and developed into a wonderful place to relax.


I was raking the ground underneath our shady Banyan tree, thinking it would be a good lawn chair area. I was in a bored, “ho hum” mode of raking. Suddenly, the tines of my rake scraped concrete. I felt like an Archeologist who had just uncovered the “Missing Link”. The thrill of discovery filled me with a new sense of purpose and high level energy. I raked like a woman possessed until I had reached the outer edge of the hidden twelve by twelve patio. I stopped raking when I located the perimeter and excitedly ran to tell David of my discovery. It took hours to reveal the entire hidden treasure… David shared my joy and interjected “Keep digging. Maybe there is a swimming pool under there too.”

Elephant Ears

The creek that borders our property is filled with varied sizes of healthy, beautiful, naturally occurring Elephant Ears. My love for this plant probably stems from my mothers huge Elephant Ears. Hers occupied a prominent corner of our home.  As a child, I was in awe of their huge, verdant, green leaves. Their broad leaves towered above my head.

I enjoyed playing “make believe” games under their shady interior. I also feel a kindred spirit with their namesake, the Elephant – I have a compassion for the animal that fills my soul. As a focal point, I transplanted some of the wild Elephant Ears into a corner of my secret patio. They have grown magnificently into the same friendly giants I remember from my childhood.

A Blank Canvas

I continue to paint my canvas with varied colors, sizes and textures of plants. Each is given a special place to enhance it’s beauty and add to the masterpiece that is my intimate patio environment. Some were found on our property- carelessly placed by the previous dwellers; others were potted plants I brought with me. Still others come from cuttings I innocently snipped from public places. (I learned the little “freebie” plant trick from my sweet Mother.)

We continually gather cast off wood around our neighborhood and always have a fully stocked wood pile for the fire pit. Our grandchildren have joyously toasted many a marshmallow and roasted fat juicy hot dogs on a slender stick held just above the flames. It’s all for here to be enjoyed by family and friends alike. The patio garden continues to evolve. Relaxing in my “Secret Patio” truly is a ZEN experience… I hope one day you will come and sit by the fire.

The “Secret Patio” has become “ground zero” for many of our outdoor activities. In this photo David is preparing to brew a delicious cup of coffee using his Kelly Kettle and Aero-press coffee maker. It is the perfect location . Warm in winter and cool in summer…

 

Typical pile of free wood. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.

“On our frequent walks through our neighborhood Lucy and I often discover scrap wood or yard waste that is perfect for our cozy fire-pit” mentions husband David…

Wildlife Haven
I have enjoyed watching the harmless Black Racers that inhabit our yard. I like the fact that they eat rodents. Three sides of our property are vacant and grow wild. I cannot count the numerous times I have sat in my Secret Patio, just “being in the moment” and seen one of our resident snakes chasing a lizard across the yard. If I ran to tell David, I always scared them away. At other times, I have enjoyed observing them as they hunt.  I have seen several of them extend half of their bodies, a couple of feet in the air. They attempt to stand straight up to reach a low branch on our Macadamia nut tree, They sway gently, looking exactly like a slender weed in a breeze, until they stealthily complete their hunt.

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Realizing I had let the patio turn into a bit of a shambles, I began to cleanup the overgrown weeds and organize the wood pile. David had just mowed the lawn; everything else was manicured except my “secret patio”.


As I approached, with tools in hand, to clear the weeds under the Banyan tree, I saw the tell-tale color of iridescent black indigo snake in the grass. Fearing discovery, the beautiful, iridescent snake, slid deeper into the weeds. I decided to abort my “Weed Removal” mission, “Keep the weeds and let nature be.”

A fondness for snakes had never been in my nature. I have killed several in the past. Somehow, I was charmed by the harmless, innocent, reptile. Should I destroy their habitat for my selfish need to preen and manicure? Who am I, but one of Gods creatures just as they are.

Most of my friends think I have gone a bit over the edge. What are your thoughts and experiences with snakes and the environment?

Happy Memorial Day and best wishes from “Spokes-model” Lucy

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