Old Cutler Biathlon

Sunday’s adventure included participating in the Old Cutler Biathlon in Miami. The event started at Cocoplum Circle where the Commodore Bike Trail meets the Old Cutler Trail. We rode along the trail shaded by the fichus trees and banyans that line the road. The numerous roots which ripple the road insured our pace would be leisurely.

Two miles later we parked our bikes and began the walking phase of the biathlon at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden where we strolled through the grounds taking pictures and enjoying the Chapungu exhibit of more than 80 stone sculptures displayed throughout the grounds.

After walking the garden for over an hour we managed to finish the final leg of the adventure riding back to Cocoplum ready for the drive back to Ocala. No competition, no awards, no hurried pace, my kind of biathlon. Maybe next time we’ll tackle the Old Cutler Tri stopping at Matheson Hammock Park for a quick dip!

Prepare a First Aid Kit

firstaid2When we decided to return to camping we purchased a first aid kit…just in case. You know I’ve always been one to carry band-aids, pain relievers, and alcohol wipes to games, meets, and other travels so a first aid kit seemed like required equipment. This weekend as we rode down Old Cutler Trail in Miami I realized I didn’t have a first aid kit on the trail and after last summer’s infamous bike accident…what was I thinking?

I’ve decided to take one of the Clinique make-up bags I received as a free gift and use it as a smaller version of a first aid kit that can be used on bike rides and maybe even hikes. I don’t want something too large or heavy, but it is important to have a few basic items “just in case”. My plan is to keep an EpiPen, aspirin, band-aids, hand sanitizer, antiseptic, eye drops, and a couple other items so it can be easily thrown in the bike basket or backpack. You know I always look at things like umbrellas and first aid kits as insurance. If you have it, you rarely need it; but it you don’t have it, you’ll invariably need it!

eMedicineHealth provides a very simple list of must have items for a first aid kit including: tweezers, hydrocortisone cream,  hand sanitizer and gloves, pain relievers, gauze and tape, band aids, wipes for cleaning a wound, antibiotic cream, and allergy medications. (Of course, you may want to include some personal items and sunscreen.) Pretty basic. Probably things in your medicine cabinet. Put together a first aid kit. Keep it in your car so you’ll have it with you when you go to the beach or biking or hiking or kayaking. You never know when you’ll need it.

Prepare a first aid kit.


Another option – purchase a kit from Target, SAMs, or order from the Red Cross Store.

DAM Font

You already know I love things that are written by hand despite the fact I spend so much time using a keyboard for my own writing. Well, I found a website I think I need to try, writingfonts. If it’s true to its claim, I can have my handwriting converted into a font. I even get to name it!

According to the website for only $9.95 and a few minutes time I can leave behind Courier, Arial, and Times New Roman and replace with my handwriting. A font I’ll name DAM (my initials)…fun!

This looks like a good compromise to wanting the personalization of handwriting and the ease of keyboarding. Another thing I’ve added to my to do list for the summer!


Love is in the air!

Love bugs that is! I remember being fascinated by these creatures when I first witnessed two flying insects moving through the air while attached to one another. As a new resident to Florida, I loved the romantic names applied to an insect and city – love bugs and Kissimmee (of course I pronounced it Kiss-a-me then). However, that fascination was short lived when I swallowed my first love bug. I’m not sure how the critter managed to fly in my mouth but I can hardly think of a more disgusting taste.

The calendar says May so it must be love bug season. Hundreds of dead love bugs litter the porch; and the windshield and grill of the car are smeared with smashed insects. Since we’ll be on the road and driving on the Florida Turnpike this weekend I know what to expect…frequent attempts to wash off the dead bodies of our state nuisance from the windshield. I’ll also remember to keep my mouth closed so as not to experience another love bug tasting experience.

And despite the urban legend claiming that these harmless pests are the result of a University of Florida genetics experiment gone awry, not even I would blame love bugs on the Gators. No, just another annoying visitor to the Sunshine State.


Words of Wisdom – Dr. Seuss Style

This may look like cheating, but while looking for Dr. Seuss quotes I saw this posted and felt I really couldn’t do any better. It’s amazing that Dr. Seuss, like Mr. Rogers, always knows what to say in any situation.

While I think #24 on the list is absolutely indisputable: Teeth are always in style; my favorite: Step with care and great tact. And remember life’s a great balancing act.

What’s your favorite piece of advice from Dr. Seuss?

30 Dr. Seuss Quotes that Can Change Your Life

I’m glad I don’t write only in rhyme! What an undertaking! Thanks Mamiverse for great Dr. Suess quotes!

Shake and Fold

For Earth Day I encouraged you to go green. Lots of tips on ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in an effort to use fewer resources. Well, I found a strategy to reduce the use of paper towels that I feel can’t wait until April 22, 2014. I hope you’ll watch this short video. I’ll never forget this paper towel lesson.

Of course, Mr. Sam, the docent at the Silver River Museum always taught the fourth graders to dry their hands like the early inhabitants of the area. No paper towels. Super simple. Just shake.

Weigh In Wednesday: Week 20

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Excuse one: Betty cake for Emily’s birthday. Excuse two: Cheesecake for Meghan’s birthday. Excuse three: Danny’s graduation party. Bottom line: gained 1/2 pound.

I’m really no match for special events two birthdays, a graduation party, Mother’s Day, and key lime pie at Monday night’s Circle meeting are too much for me to resist. I keep thinking I’ll get a grip on holiday/special event eating, but not yet. I have a long way to go!

Here’s to week 21! No birthdays! No parties! More exercise! Working toward my new goal.

Bike to Work – Be a Kid Again!

IMG_0918Did you know that this is National Bike to Work Week? And this Friday, the third Friday in May, National Bike to Work Day? Well, it’s not too late. You still have three days to participate in this event, but since it’s also National Bike Month, you could ride any day this month and for that matter any day can be Bike to Work day.

In the summer of 1979, South Florida experienced a gas shortage with long lines at gas stations. This motivated John and me to bike to work for an entire summer. Our afternoon commutes in South Florida in June, July, and August were not particularly pleasant, but the mornings were wonderful…truly a great way to start the day.

Then in the summer of 1990, I rode my bike to South Ocala Elementary where I taught summer school. I didn’t ride every day, but I squeezed in a little exercise by riding a couple of days a week.

Since this week is the annual Bike Rodeo at Eighth Street Elementary, John’s riding his bike to work. With this morning’s temperature a cool 46°, it couldn’t be a more perfect time for a bike ride. Of course, since he has his bike at school, he’s able to participate in the bike week activities with students so he’s having a little fun at work as well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes biking to work a regular activity. Maybe you should try it.

i before e except after c

charlotteswebAt the end of the book Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur asks Joy, Arania, and Nellie – Charlotte’s three daughters who stayed behind in the barn, “Are you writers?” referring to the skills of their oh so famous mother. Their reply…”No, but we will be someday.”

While I wouldn’t call myself a writer, I think Granddaddy, who WAS a writer would appreciate the fact that both dad and I have made an effort to preserve family stories in writing, and we value the written word and feel it’s important to send written messages at times. (Can you believe that when your dad and I were first married we would respond to Granddaddy’s letters by writing on the back of the envelopes his letters came in?  He couldn’t understand how teachers could live in a house with no paper.  I must admit that I now agree.  We were really pathetic!)

The written word makes it possible to preserve memories, provide instructions, and present yourself to others. Charlotte’s important messages in her web were life-saving, and you may remember she was always concerned that she used just the right word to convey the message. She also checked spelling so her message had the intended impact.

While you may not need the reminder, I want to make sure you pass on these skills to future generations as well as keep them in mind as you write. So  I’d like to share some basic writing tips relating to spelling, grammar, and such. If you’re going to take the time to write, don’t let readers miss the message due to sloppy writing skills.

Top Ten Writing Tips:

1)  Watch your spelling. This is where the title of this week’s memo comes in. The rule states: i before e except after c and in words that say “ay” as in neighbor and weigh (the next part I added) and in words that are weird, like weird.  (I know this is a tip that Meghan has shared with others.) Many people don’t like this rule because they say there are too many exceptions – but I find it pretty useful and when all else fails, use a dictionary or better yet, dictionary.com.

2)  Know your purpose to decide what style to use. This is a weakness for me. Who needs capital letters, punctuation, and standard spelling when texting? Only crazy perfectionists like me. Texts, tweets, and email, or Facebook messages to friends should be written in the quick informal style. Just be careful not to let it carry over to more serious writing.

3)  Be careful with words that are homophones. Principal or principle? Stationary or stationery? Praise, prays, or preys? Maybe the best plan is to just “pray” that you’ll use the right (not write) word, but (not butt) if in (not inn) doubt – look it up. A mistake with one (not won) of these words may be (not bee) the difference between getting a job or (not ore and not oar either) being passed (not past) over.

4)  Understand when to use an apostrophe. This may look like a continuation of the homophone tip. It’s = it is while its=belonging to it. They’re=they are, there=a place or point of action, their=belonging to them. You’re=you are while your=belonging to you. I’ve been a frequent critic of WESH news for their inability to use these words properly and on a trip to Wakulla Springs it became apparent no one knows how to use its. (Sarah can verify this is true.) An apostrophe is needed in a contraction (which should be avoided in formal writing anyhow) and in possessive nouns. These are some of the easiest mistakes to make so always double check.

5)  Use punctuation and capital letters. Again this relates to number 2 above, but writing in all lower case letters was unique and creative when e.e. cummings wrote this way. In fact, it was his trademark but now many people have decided that capital letters and punctuation are no longer necessary. Not true for formal writing! Save this for a fun, informal or creative purpose. (Emily’s  business cards would be a good example of an appropriate use of using lower case letters exclusively to present fun and creativity. If you haven’t seen them yet, ask her to share.)

6) There is no such word as I’s. I must admit that I had never seen this word(?) written until two years ago when a parent sent an email stating that “her mother and I’s concern…” to which I laughed my head off. And then just recently I received a tweet stating that “my husband and I’s weekend…” This time I wanted to cry because it seems this is becoming an epidemic. If you’re ever tempted to use I’s to show you own something, think of another way of wording the sentence so you can use the word my or mine.

7)  Proofread your work. This is my least favorite thing about writing, but it’s by far the most important so you should probably do it more than once if it is an important piece of writing.

8)  Ask someone else to proofread your work if it’s really important. It doesn’t matter how many times you read your own writing, you’re still likely to miss something because you know exactly how it’s suppose to sound. Someone else will see your work with fresh eyes.

9)  Don’t depend on auto-correct or spell check features on electronic devises. In fact, I hate auto-correct. Sorry, but my iPad is NOT smarter than me. I know what word I want to use. Let me check myself. And while I love spell check, it makes me lazy. If a word isn’t identified as misspelled by the computer, then it must be correct. But I know that’s not true. See tips 2 and 3.

10)  WRITE!  Don’t be so worried about making a mistake that you don’t write. Your words are infinitely more important than your use of conventions. Share your thoughts, memories, feelings, and write. Write notes, write cards, write letters, write blogs, and write emails. Write texts.  Write reports and recipes. Mostly though…just write. Be like Charlotte and Granddaddy – real writers! (Thanks so much for writing thoughtful messages in my Mother’s Day cards…best gift of all!)

BTW – how many writing mistakes did you find?

Permission Granted

This was originally posted in November 2012, but I thought it was appropriate to post again on Mother’s Day.

After reading an article in the local paper on Mother’s Day, 2011, I asked my daughters what bits of advice I’d imparted through the years had been the most helpful. Sadly, they could not respond. Of course, when they turned the table on me asking what words of wisdom my mom shared with me, I too, drew a blank.

In the following weeks, I tried on several occasions to think of advice I’d given or should have given, even making lists of these little pearls. Finally I resolved to send a weekly message as a way to rectify my failure to provide that motherly advice. My Mother’s Day Resolution – write a message every week for one year,  and thus, Mom’s Monday Memo was born.

Since these messages belonged to Meghan, Emily, and Sarah, I asked their permission before posting on a blog. (Although I must admit I bought the domain name and set up a site before sending the email that follows.)

Over the past 75 weeks (now 100 weeks) I’ve written Mom’s Monday Memos to you. These have only been shared with the three of you. Dad even complains sometimes that he’s been left out and accuses me of writing bad things about him!

However, after attending the Sanibel Writer’s Conference, I’d like to do more with these messages. I’d like to use them as a basis for a blog, Mom’s Monday Memos. The blog would pretty much be just a compilation of these messages – posted weekly. Although I do have some other ideas that could be included since the blog workshop encouraged posting daily! I would not be able to use all of them – no one wants to know about your family health history – but I would use many of them. Of course, you’ve just seen the rough drafts since I would have to polish each piece to actually publish it on a blog. I would also carefully edit references to you, although I don’t think I’ve said anything in any message that would be hurtful or embarrassing – if so, I’m sorry, that was not my intent.

Before, I pursue this idea further, I feel I should ask your permission to continue with this project. After all, these were suppose to be just me talking to you. If you allow me to use these pieces on a blog, please feel free to add comments and suggestions. For example, do NOT include #?…or these are my favorites…or you really should change this part…etc.

Let me know what you think!


A few minutes later, Meghan responded:

Go for it.

I got a tweet from our friend who was at the SIWC who said he saw you’re on twitter and thinks he unknowingly met you yesterday. He asked if you write us regular memos. I said yep, that’s her. We’ve received one every Monday for over a year now.

Shortly after, Emily sent this message:

Blog away! I think this is a great idea. Plus, I’m pretty sure we were all planning on publishing these in a book after you died anyway.


This way we won’t have to fight over the royalties. 🙂

Then Sarah chimed in:

Works for me.

So now with permission granted, Mom’s Monday Memo has found its way to the web.

My question to you: What’s your mom’s best advice? I hope you’ll share by leaving a comment.