3 Down; 10 To Go

Our third adventure from our 13 in 13 list occurred during a Spring Break trip to Fort DeSoto. It didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but flexibility is one of our strengths.

Our plan: camp at the state park on Wednesday and Thursday night, enjoy the beach, go out in the boat, ride bikes.

Our reality:

1) We launched the boat and had a picnic on Sand Key Preserve. The cool temperatures in the 60s with 15 mph winds eliminated the possibility of bathing suits or beachwear. In fact, we dressed in jeans, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, and I had a blanket wrapped around my legs to stay warm. With the increasingly rough water, we returned to the ramp after only a couple of hours on the water – a cold but good start to the trip.

2) We rode our bikes from the campground to the beach and on down to the pier. No one ventured into the water and only a few people walked on the beach. After about an hour and a half we headed back to the campground.

3) We relaxed at the campground reading and lounging in the hammock (wrapped in a blanket) before going to dinner at Billy’s Stonecrab, Seafood, and Steaks. We stopped along the way to take some pictures of the sunset but almost missed it since we sat in the car waiting until the last minute to avoid to cold.

 

4) We celebrated John’s birthday with a gift certificate from some of his coworkers and feasted on bang bang shrimp,  grouper sandwiches, and pineapple upside down cake – all delicious!

5) As a result of the cold temperatures and the weather report we saw while at dinner predicting record lows in the mid thirties with possible frost and winds of 20 mph, we made the decision to return to the campground, pack up, and return to the lake. Last year when we decided to begin tent camping again we agreed that these trips were for fun. We said if the weather was bad (we were thinking too hot or rainy), the mosquitoes unbearable, or if we weren’t enjoying ourselves, we wouldn’t stay. A cold night in the tent followed by a day too windy to go on the water…why stay?

6) We packed up the tent, sleeping bags, hammock, bikes, and the boat while listening to the snores of a camper in a nearby site.

7) By 1:00am we climbed into bed ending adventure number 3 on our list. Not exactly what we expected, but we had a good day and prepared for a good night’s sleep.

Hopefully, adventure 4 proves more successful!

 

Thanks, John! Writer’s Block Solved!

As I sat on the porch trying to write something to post today, John came to my rescue. After only about 30 minutes of fishing, he returned to the house and called me to meet him downstairs. I noticed that he was holding his hands in front of him so I wasn’t sure what to expect. A fishing lure dangling from his right thumb greeted me when I stepped outside.

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He preceded to tell me that he needed me to wrap a piece of fishing line around the hook and then quickly yank on it to dislodge the hook. Me…the one who passes out when someone merely mentions they know someone who was hooked…the one who lies on the floor of the kitchen when her daughter splits open her forehead so she doesn’t pass out…the one who breaks into a cold sweat at the mention of blood. I’m proud to say I did not pass out. I did not run to the bathroom. I did not lie down. I also did not pull out the hook.

Sure, loop fishing line around the hook and jerk it out!
Sure, loop fishing line around the hook and jerk it out!

After several attempts to get the line at the right angle, John decided that it would be wise to first remove the lure from the hook embedded in his thumb. This would reduce the possibility of a being hooked a second time while in the process of removing the hook. My job…take the pocketknife and open the ring on the lure so it could be removed from the portion lodged in John’s thumb. Surprise…success! Now we were back to the looping line around the hook.

At this point I started looking up addresses to the nearest walk in clinic so someone else could remove the hook. John Googled “how to remove a fish hook from your finger” and the number one method was indeed wrapping a piece of line around the hook and then firmly jerking to remove it. With renewed confidence, John took the matter into his own hands (or should I say hand) looping the line, pulling tight, and then rapidly jerking to remove the hook…no problem!

My only responsibility: open the band-aid and apply to his thumb.

John put the lure back together so he could go back out in the boat. His plan: catch fish and eat them for dinner as a payback for the injury to his thumb.

What a great husband! Willing to shed a little blood to unlock my writer’s block!

Passover Seder

For the past several years Kay has invited us to join her for a Passover Seder. Monday, the first day of Passover, nine of us gathered for the Seder, the central ritual of Passover. The Seder refers to the carefully ordered Passover dinner. Everyone enjoys food, wine, and the reading of the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

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The Seder plate with the ritual symbols that retell the Exodus story served as the centerpiece on the Seder table.

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We read from the Haggadah. The text retells the story of the Jewish liberation from slavery described in the Book of Exodus in the Torah.

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Our meal started with Matzo Ball Soup, a food traditionally served at the Passover Seder.

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The main course of the meal: prime rib, but the charoset is my favorite Passover Seder dish. Charoset is one of the symbolic foods that Jews eat during their Passover seder every year. It represents the mortar that the Israelites used to make bricks while they were slaves in Egypt. Kay agreed to share her recipe for this sweet dish made of fruit and nuts.

Choroset

Ingredients:

  • 6 lb red delicious apples
  • 1/2 to cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 2-3 cups silvered almonds
  • sugar (to taste)

Peel, core, and coarsely chop apples.

Add and stir together the remaining ingredients.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

This dish is better if made at least 24 hours ahead.

I’m glad we’ve been included in this celebration. It’s been a wonderful way to understand the traditions of Jewish friends and better understand the story from the Old Testament.

 

 

 

 

Survive and Advance – FGCU Style

basketballWho expected Florida to be the best represented state in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen? With the Hurricanes, Gators, and basketball nation’s new Cinderella team, Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles advancing to the next round of the tournament there’s a lot of basketball excitement for fans in the state of Florida. Yes, I’ll be watching; but for those who don’t share the love of the tournament but don’t want to be left out of the March Madness, watching the following ESPN 30 for 30 episodes may be a good alternative.

The newest episode with a basketball theme, Survive and Advance, is airing tonight and throughout the next several weeks so there are ample opportunities to view this story of college basketball highlighting events from the tournament 30 years ago. While I remember the Wolfpack run, I’d forgotten much of the drama surrounding their remarkable win. The ESPN documentary presented a great look back at a terrific story. The description from ESPN:

When the 1982-83 college basketball season began, Jim Valvano and his North Carolina State Wolfpack faced high expectations and high aspirations. But with 10 losses for the season, the Wolfpack’s only hope of making the NCAA Tournament was to win the ACC Tournament and earn the conference automatic berth. Nine straight improbable wins later over the likes of Sampson, Jordan, Olajuwon, and Drexler, North Carolina State had “survived and advanced” its way to a national championship.

…the dream fulfilled..(it) explores what at times has been a tragic and heartbreaking aftermath in the thirty years since. -ESPN

Not a Valvano fan, The Guru of Go documents the exciting play of the Loyola Marymount basketball team or the life and sudden death of Len Bias is the subject of Without Bias, both rebroadcast in the coming weeks. I didn’t see one of my favorites, There’s No Place Like Home listed on the schedule, but it’s worth checking out online or through Netflix. There’s No Place Like Home documents a story everyone can enjoy.

Sotheby’s auctioned of the most important historical document in sports history: James Naismith’s original rules of basketball. There’s No Place Like Home is the story of one fan’s obsessive quest to win the artifact at auction and bring the rule “home” to Lawrence, Kansas, where Naismith coached and taught for more than 40 years. -ESPN

Join the basketball conversation. Watch the tournament or a couple of the ESPN 30 for 30 episodes about the game. Who knows, maybe FGCU will be the subject of a future “Survive and Advance” story.

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 13

scaleSo I lost four pounds this week! I’ve finally learned the secret to losing weight, and I want to share it! Since we’re spending Spring Break at the lake I decided we should take the scale to the lake so I can continue my daily weighing routine. Imagine my surprise when I weighed four pounds lighter the first day. I thought I should move the scale to the hall…maybe the bedroom floor wasn’t level. I still registered three pounds lighter. Then I moved the scale downstairs on concrete slab…definitely a better surface. I’m still nearly three pounds lighter. So clearly the best way to weight loss…move the scale…keep moving until you get the best reading and record!

Seriously, I have no idea if I’ve gained or lost weight this week. I’ll weigh in next week after Spring Break.

No Lose It badges. No accurate weigh-in. No schedule. This week I’ll just try not to indulge too much, remember to exercise, and stay on course.

A Walk in the Park

CarneyIsland2I’ve been a regular at Carney Island, a Marion County Park, since the boat ramps opened several years ago. In fact, Carney Island is the reason we purchase an annual pass to the Marion County Parks each year; but this week marks the first time I’ve visited the park for any other reason than to use the boat ramp to launch a boat. I know that ramp well and complain about the difficulty of seeing the boat as I back down such a steep ramp…a ramp we use more than a dozen times each year.

We hiked the Fox Trot Loop, one of three loop trails ranging in length from 1.1 to 3.2 miles.
We hiked the Fox Trot Loop, one of three loop trails ranging in length from 1.1 to 3.2 miles.

 

This week when we entered the park, we bypassed the boat ramp and parked in the area designated for picnic, playground, beach and trail use. John and I hiked one of the three trails at Carney Island, the 3.2 mile Fox Trot Loop on the peninsula. On the farthest point of the loop you can view Lake Weir although lake access is not available from the trail.

Fox Trot Loop provides views of Lake Weir from farthest point along the trail.
Fox Trot Loop provides views of Lake Weir from farthest point along the trail.

We spotted numerous deer tracks along the trail, but early afternoon isn’t prime time for spotting wildlife. We were pleasantly surprised to encounter wild turkey at two points along the trail. We need to schedule an early morning or late afternoon walk in the near future for better wildlife photo opportunities.

Wild turkey crossed our path on the trail on a recent afternoon.
Wild turkey crossed our path on the trail on a recent afternoon.

Give Back

One way to have a better day is to give back or do something for someone else. It’s easy to get caught up in day to day life going to work or school, cooking dinner or doing laundry, grocery shopping or paying bills. Then you need to find time for friends and family while trying to take care of yourself. There seems to be so much to do and so little time.

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However, it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a difference in the lives of others. Of course staying in touch with family and friends is a good start especially when you know that someone is dealing with a stressful situation. Making a phone call, sending a text, bringing over a meal, or providing some R & R can make a world of difference. Even when you don’t know what to say or do, just knowing that you care can brighten someone’s day.

But beyond helping family and friends there are so many ways you can help others. One way to do this is to make a donation to support a cause you believe in. You may want to help the American Heart Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, St. Jude’s, or any number of organizations that support medical research. You may donate to the United Methodist Children’s Home, Salvation Army, or the American Red Cross. Participating in a run, walk-a-thon, or some other activity is a terrific way to support a cause. You can even become a member of your local NPR or PBS station or make a donation to your alma mater. Worthwhile organizations with financial needs seem to be endless.

Remember you can also donate things other than money. Donate clothes, furniture, or other household items to the Rape Crisis Center,  the Humane Society Thrift Store, or Dress for Success. You may also donate food to a local food pantry or to an organization like the Boy Scouts who organize a food drive. And if you’re very brave, you can donate blood. I was rejected on my only attempt to give blood, but I’m determined to give it another try.

Finally, you can donate your time to an organization you want to support. This type of “giving back” certainly can be the most rewarding. You can give a few hours of your time participating in a one day event like a river clean up or serving a meal at a homeless shelter. This is probably the most practical way to volunteer since there are so many opportunities to participate in one day activities. Or you can devote time weekly or monthly to serve a need you are passionate about. Of course you can volunteer at your local library or hospital, with a youth group or a political campaign, the choices are endless.

From Points of Light website: www.pointsoflight.org
From Points of Light website: www.pointsoflight.org

Over the years, I’ve volunteered with children’s programs at church, coached, assisted with fundraising drives, and helped sports leagues. I’ve volunteered at runner’s club events, cross country and track meets, and have been a perennial driver for various teams. However, I haven’t consistently volunteered. There have been times when I should have done more to give back. Now that I’m committed to giving back regularly, I know I’ll always be involved in volunteer activities. I’m sure the organizations will change over the years, but giving back is now an important part of my life.

I know each of you are giving back, but I just wanted to remind you that these acts are important and make your communities a better place. Thank you for helping others and remember as your life gets more hectic, continue to find time to give back. You can and do make a difference.

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Mom

Spring Break with Siri

siriIn October I finally replaced my well-loved Blackberry with an iPhone4s…not an easy decision. I reluctantly gave up a keyboard for a touchscreen, the feature I most feared. Fortunately, it hasn’t been as traumatic as I expected and in fact, I’ve particularly enjoyed having a quality camera available everywhere I take my phone.

After nearly five months, I think it’s time for me to get to know Siri, the most hyped feature of the phone. The Verizon representative spent a great deal of time demonstrating the wonders of Siri, but my interests were in making calls, texting, emailing, and searching the web. All the talk about Siri and the marvelous apps fell on deaf ears.

That's what I want to know!
That’s what I want to know!

Now that I’m hooked on the camera and several apps, it’s time to give Siri a whirl. I plan to spend Spring Break with Siri. I intend to learn how Siri can assist me in doing the basics like making calls, sending texts and emails, and searching for information on the web, but I also have my eye on some of the features like tracking weather, setting reminders, getting directions, and checking sports scores. I’ll start on the Apple website, but with just under 1.5 million YouTube videos on Siri, I don’t think there’s any shortage of information on the topic.

Look for me relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors with Siri this Spring Break.

Honeymoon at Pete’s Pier

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Last Saturday when we pulled in the parking lot of Pete’s Pier in Crystal River the first thing I saw – a car with a “Just Married” sign plastered across the back. As I looked past the car to the pair of green Port-a-Potties I thought, “Why would anyone spend their honeymoon at Pete’s Pier?”

 

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Then a few minutes later as we pushed off the dock and headed toward Seven Sister’s Spring I realized just how much I take for granted. Sure, Pete’s Pier isn’t anything special. Small boat ramp. Primitive bathroom facilities. No restaurant.

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But what a beautiful piece of Florida. Clear water. Sunshine. Warm weather. Surrounded by wildlife. People come from all over the country, no, all over the world to visit a part of the world only an hour from home.

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Approaching the spring area, the tour boats packed with divers lined the river…a reminder of how popular the river, springs, and wildlife, especially the manatee, of the area are to the thousands who visit each year.

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What a great reminder that our backyard is someone else’s paradise! And, a perfect place for newlyweds to spend their honeymoon.

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(Meghan, thanks for the great manatee pictures!)

Frog Legs, Gator, and Fried Green Tomatoes

YearlingSignConnie, Maureen, and I started our meal at The Yearling in Cross Creek with the Cracker Sampler Platter. I’m not usually an adventurous diner but felt I had to at least taste the foods that have earned The Yearling recognition as one of the best restaurants in Florida by Florida Trend Magazine.CrackerSampler

I can’t say I’d order frog legs, gator, or fried green tomatoes as my main meal, but I’m glad I tried them. They’re all better than they sound, and the frog legs were a pleasant surprise and the catfish sandwich…delicious.YearlingExterior

Time stands still at The Yearling. The rundown building made me wonder if our fifty minute drive was a mistake. I expected rustic, but this makes biker bars look good. Inside, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings memorabilia as well as other “old Florida” touches decorate the restaurant, and on the day of our visit, there was even a fire in fireplace of the dining room in which we ate…you really can’t judge a book by its cover!YearlingInterior

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We topped off our meal with a slice of sour orange pie, a yummy treat similar to key lime pie but with a tangy orange sauce. Step back in time and check out The Yearling.SourOrangePie