Published in the Rains County Leader on Tuesday, May 14, 2019:
Florida requires that, when developers put in new subdivisions, they leave a certain percentage of the land in its natural state. We were blessed to have a retention pond right behind our house and a screened-in porch – better known as a lanai by the natives – where we could sit and watch the wildlife. Some of the wildlife, like the alligators, was a little too wild, but the large variety of birds was fascinating.
One in particular caught my eye. It was a rather large black bird with a long neck. It would dive under the water and stay for a long time. Then it would surface and stretch its neck straight up so it could swallow whatever tasty bit of marine life it had snagged before disappearing into the water again. When its tummy was full, it would climb out of the water and sit on a log or rock where it would spread its wings and sit for a spell before flying away.
No one in our household of transplanted Texans could shed any light on this bird and its unusual habits, so I went to the Internet. I found a wildlife site that had a place for questions, and I described our visitor. I received a prompt reply that I was watching an Anhinga or Snakebird. The reason it spread its wings after a swim was that, unlike other aquatic birds, it didn’t have any oil on its feathers. It had to spread out in the sunshine so it could dry off enough to fly.
I have felt somewhat like a Snakebird lately, especially Wednesday of last week. It has been so wet this spring that everyone I know is checking their feet for webbing, and companies that make mildew removers are making a fortune. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 30, 2019:
“All roads lead to Rome” is a proverb of unknown origin that has come to mean that everything you do and everywhere you go will eventually lead you to the center of things. In the days of the Roman Empire, this was true because all the empire’s roads radiated out from the capital city.
In present day consumer-driven American society where trends come and go at the speed of teenage whimsy, it’s almost impossible to determine where the center of things lies from moment to moment. However, I believe I have verifiable evidence that, at least during this past week, this small town was that center and that, indeed, all roads did lead to Emory. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 19, 2019:
When I say that Kitty keeps us straight, I don’t mean that she keeps us on the straight and narrow. What I mean is that, because she is a curious cat, and she always wants to be where she’s not, we have learned to put things away and batten down the hatches.
Like most cats, Kitty enjoys batting small objects around the floor before knocking them under the grandfather clock or between the refrigerator and cabinet. Then, she stares mournfully after the lost toy until I put my laptop aside and retrieve the toy. She thanks me by either knocking it back into hiding or marching away with her nose and tail in the air. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on February 12, 2019:
Kitty has been in a strange mood for the last several weeks. I know you’re thinking How could you tell? – and that’s a valid question. Let’s just say her behavior has been a different kind of strange.
I’m not sure what put her into her latest tail spin, but I have a couple of ideas. A week or so ago, we were getting ready for bed, and I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from the kitchen.
“That sounded like Kitty jumping on top of the cabinets,” I said to David. He agreed, so I went to the kitchen to investigate. Sure enough, there she was, staring down at me from the cabinet above the refrigerator. I retrieved the squirt bottle and proceeded to try and convince her of the error of her ways. By the time she made it back to the floor, she was pretty wet, and I didn’t see much of her for the next few days. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 29, 2019:
This past week was pretty busy for a retired lady. The one thing I did notice is that the days more or less ran together. Several people had told me to expect that phenomenon, but I didn’t expect it so soon. If it hadn’t been for several appointments and a couple of regular events, I might have lost track of time altogether.
Monday was a holiday, so the Senior Center wasn’t open. David and I spent the day in house pants and sweat shirts and watched a lot of TV. I did clean out one kitchen cabinet where an avalanche of koozies and “go” cups threatened to fall on my head every time I opened the door. I filled a box with the extras and took them to the Good Samaritan Thrift Store later in the week, and we still have plenty to choose from. In the process, I found several measuring cups and a funnel that I didn’t know I had. Later in the week I cleaned out my side of the closet. I’ll spare you the details, but I can now stand in the closet without kicking empty hangers out of the way, and I have to make another trip to the Thrift Store. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 15, 2019:
One of my favorite Christmas presents this year is a blanket or, more accurately, a throw. The love seat where I usually sit in the living room is in one of the colder spots in the house, and I always have an afghan or other cover within reach in case of a sudden chill. Kitty has a fondness for warm covers, but she generally prefers them to be neatly folded and on the end of the couch where David sits – until now, that is.
The new throw was given to me by Pastor Jason, my soon-to-be ex-boss, and his wife Stacy. They said I might need it to keep me warm while I spend my free time either reading or writing a book. It’s microfiber with a soft plush finish on one side and a woolly look on the other, and it’s very warm.
Kitty didn’t pay any attention to it at first, so I had it all to myself until one night last week. I couldn’t sleep, so I went into the living room to read. Kitty followed me and made the rounds of her usual roosting spots, looking out the windows into the darkened yard to be sure there were no intruders. Satisfied that her kingdom was safe, she came over to see what I was doing. She sniffed my book and rubbed her whiskers against the edges until she lost interest. Then, she discovered the blanket. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 8, 2019:
January is the time when everyone goes on a diet – or at least talks about it. Even the grocery store ads focus on items that have “Lo” in the description. I have to admit that, as the calendar rolls over, I have thoughts of eating better and exercising more, but circumstances usually conspire to derail my plans before they’re even made. Here are just a few reasons why the scale probably won’t go down this year, at least in January.
- I still have brownies, chips, and a few other goodies left from the holidays, and I was raised not to waste food. After all, there are starving children all over the world!
- I visited the close-out sale at Emory Food Mart where I found Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, a Mrs. Smith’s Peach Cobbler, and an Edward’s Key Lime Pie for half price. Bargain shopping is good for the budget – right?
- January’s schedule includes Volunteer Dessert Day every other Wednesday at the Senior Center, Home Group Dinner and Bible Study every Friday night, a fund-raiser lunch after church on January 20, and the annual family celebration of Aunt Fay’s birthday at AJ’s Fish House.
- One of my retirement projects is to organize recipes I have collected over the years and others that I inherited from Mom. I know that, in the process, I’ll come across recipes I want to make because I didn’t have time to try them when I was working and others I’ll make because I remember them fondly from my childhood.
- I was excited when the new Anytime Fitness opened in Emory, but then I discovered that my health insurance doesn’t have the Silver Sneakers benefit. I know I could buy a membership, but since I’ll soon be unemployed…
- You might ask why I don’t use the perfectly good treadmill a friend gave me a few years ago. Well, it’s wedged into a corner in the middle bedroom that we euphemistically called a storage room, and I’m claustrophobic.
- Some people also mention that we live on a circle that would be a perfect place to walk. True, but there are several dogs that roam loose in the neighborhood, and I don’t run fast enough to get away from them if they should decide to give chase.
- David and I plan to spend more time on the road when I’ve retired. Part of the fun of taking your kitchen with you is cooking – and eating – all your favorite dishes.
- I always get at least one pair of new jeans for Christmas. My new Lee Riders are a size larger than normal, and the extra comfort gives me a false sense of thinness.
- Instead of going to the gym or walking, I plan to edit two books and write another one. All that sitting at the computer will probably lead to a writer’s spread and another size larger on next year’s new jeans.
So there you have it. I once figured out that, between ages 20 and 60 I put on an average of five pounds per decade. I managed to hold steady while I was in my 60s, but since I hit 70, I’ve been losing the battle. I know the most effective exercise when it comes to weight control is pushing away from the table, but that’s not much fun. If anyone out there has a miracle diet where you can eat the goodies, sit in your easy chair, and keep the pounds away, please let me know.
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