Saturday Night Serenade–Take Back the Power OR That Took A Dark Turn

It’s the second weekend of March, and we’re ‘springing forward’ tonight.  Don’t forget.  And if the Florida legislature has their way, this will be the last time Mr. R and I have to change our clocks.  They’ve voted to remain on Daylight Savings Time from now on.

Which, on the one hand, is great.  My feeling is, just pick one time and let me know.  On the other hand, however, when everyone else ‘falls back’, the entire state of Florida will be all jacked up.  The 6:30 national news will come on at 7:30.  The Times Square ball will drop at 1:00 am New Years Day.  Everything will be all wonky.

But who am I to complain?  Just a lowly taxpayer.  The state legislature also came up with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which Gov. Rick Scott signed, in response to the outcry following the horrific events of a few weeks ago.  While far from perfect, it’s a good start, particularly from a Republican governor to whom I usually refer as a dick with eyes.

The legislation limits gun sales to persons over the age of 21, among other things.  It also allocates serious fundage for mental health initiatives.  And it sets aside money to beef up school security.

Of course, there are those against the plan.  The NRA is even suing the state, citing 2nd Amendment violations.  I hesitate to wade into politics.  Everyone is so hateful.  But I’m for a little reform.

Some will call me a liberal.  Go ahead, if that makes you feel superior.  I’m neither Republican nor Democrat.  I’m a registered Independent voter.  I just look around for somebody who makes sense.  And I have guns in my home.  Nobody’s trying to take away your guns.  We’re just trying to keep kids safe.  I’d hope that, at least, is something we all have in common.

I’m feeling all punky tonight.  So this little song from The Interrupters speaks to my soul.  Wherever you fall on the issues, I hope you take a moment to see it from the other side.  And hugs your kids tight.  Because some parents in Parkland can’t do that tonight.

Happy Saturday night!

See Ya Later, Alligator

If you live in Florida, or have spent any time here at all, you know that alligators are a fact of life.  You find them anywhere you find fresh water–lakes, ponds, canals, water-filled ditches, large puddles (maybe not, maybe).  I personally find them cool.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to get up close and personal with them, but over there, they’re fascinating.  They’re like living dinosaurs.

Nothing galls me more than a report on the news that tells me some yee-hah found a gi-normous gator that was about fifty years old and all he could think to do with it was to kill it.  Happily, there are like-minded folks out and about.  The Palm Beach Zoo is having an alligator event on Saturday.  If you’re around, you might want to check it out.

The following is copied and pasted from a press release by the Palm Beach Zoo in West Palm Beach.

Alligator Alley Gets Guests Up Close and Personal

at the Palm Beach Zoo


WEST PALM BEACH, FL— At the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society’s Alligator Alley dedication this Saturday, guests are invited to get up close and personal with Fred and Wilma, our American alligators when we open our renovated viewing area. The first in a series of redesigned and reimagined habitats for the current Florida Region exhibit, the new, up close, viewing platform, provides a panoramic view of the lush habitat our alligators call home.


The public is invited to come help dedicate this new exhibit on August 22nd between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Guests can meet and greet two of our juvenile alligators, Cypress and Myakka. Crafts, games and giveaways will be available in our Fountain Plaza and our 10:30 a.m. Storytime will feature, “Three Little Gators” by children’s author, Helen Ketteman.



 Fred, the Palm Beach Zoo’s American Alligator drifts by the new Alligator Alley overlook

 At 12:00, our dedication will include a ribbon “untying” ceremony with the ribbon to be recycled for future use, in keeping with the Zoo’s sustainability mission and a special Zoo Keeper Talk. Zoo Keepers and selected member guests will provide special enrichment for our alligators.


With hundreds of guests expected, the event will help raise awareness of the plight of these fascinating reptiles threatened by habitat loss and sea level rise. A special preview of the new habitat will be available on Friday night, August 21st from 5 – 9 p.m. for guests attending our popular Safari Night Series – this week’s theme is dinosaurs and alligators.


The Zoo’s just completed renovations include the all new Keeper Talk & Presentation Platform, 360 degree viewing of the Alligator Habitat and an off-exhibit Alligator Holding Area. This project has been made possible by long time donors, Michele & Howard Kessler. Their generous support has helped continue to provide quality care for Fred, our 12.5-foot long male and his mate, 8-foot long Wilma, both born in 1988.


 Alligator Alley at the Palm Beach Zoo

 “Thanks to the Kessler Family’s generous support, the alligators not only have more room to roam, and a peaceful holding yard when work is being done on their exhibit, and our guests have improved views in and around the exhibit,” said Jan Steele, general curator for the Zoo. “This has enabled us to increase our alligator keeper talks to a daily schedule so our guests can get up close and personal with Fred and Wilma.”

Native to Florida, the American alligator is an example of a species that has recovered thanks to careful management and conservation efforts. By the middle of the 20th century, American alligator populations were severely depleted and in 1967, were listed under the Endangered Species Preservation Act.  The Palm Beach Zoo is proud to be a part of this effort and continue to educate and inform people about these magnificent creatures.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  I love the wearin’ of the green.  I love to spend part of St. Patrick’s Day in an Irish pub listening to Irish music.  Last year, Mr. R. and I were in one of our favorite places, Ybor City, the old historic Cuban district of Tampa.

I know what you’re thinking.  Spending this, the most Irish of holidays, in the Cuban district of Tampa?  To which I would say, yes.  There’s the nicest bar there called the James Joyce Irish Pub where Mr. R. and I snagged a table and were there for about six hours, no exaggeration.  The atmosphere was friendly, the food outstanding, and well, the tiny little green shots, of which I had several, did not suck.  They had live music the entire time we were there and while I cannot recall the name of the band, they were terrific.

I love Irish bands.  I’m a huge fan of Dropkick Murphys, and I know, technically, they’re from Boston and not Ireland, however, they play great Irish punk.  Another of my all-time favorite jig-punk bands is The Prodigals.  I first saw them when they came to Irish Fest in West Palm Beach and after that, I made sure we saw them every year.  I even scheduled our March wedding around Irish Fest, but alas, they no longer make their annual appearance.

I did, however, have the amazing opportunity to see them play at their home pub, Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar on the lower east side of Manhattan.  If they’re in town, they play late Friday nights, 11:00 or later.  Paddy’s is a tiny hole in the wall pub on 2nd Ave. and 29th, and it’s everything you’d expect to see in an Irish pub.  It’s narrow with a big bar down the left side and narrow seating on the right side.  Just past the bar is a tiny stage and beyond that is a back room with billiards.  And when The Prodigals play there, they don’t turn down the sound just because it’s a small room.

I’m including this video of The Prodigal’s Open Reel.  It’s long, nearly eleven minutes, and the drum solo at the beginning is exceedingly long, but if you hang in there, it will be worthwhile.

And so I give you this little Valentine to St. Patrick’s Day.  Yes, I’m mixing my February and March holidays.  So sue me.

And when I see some of you little buggers limping…I’ll know.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

October Stories–I Just Wanted to See Hemingway’s Chair

I took the folks down to Key Largo for a couple of days this past summer.  Before heading home, we drove south just to sightsee a little.  You can’t get that close and not cross the Seven Mile Bridge, right?  Mr. R. missed the trip because of work, but he recommended that we stop and check out an outdoor store in Islamorada called World Wide Sportsman (which is actually operated by Bass Pro Shops, but that’s neither here nor there).


Aside from being a cool place to look around, as are most Bass Pro Shops, this particular store had something that interested me.  According to Mr. R. the store had a fishing boat that is the twin of the one used in the Keys by Ernest Hemingway.  Okay, it’s not his boat, but it’s one just like it.

And so it is that we stopped in at World Wide Sportsman.  We found the large shop fairly uncrowded and sure enough, the Pilar was sitting smack-dab in the center of the place.  Again, the Pilar is not Hemingway’s boat.  It just happened to be built at the same Brooklyn shipyard and is a twin of the more famous one that is supposed to be in Cuba these days.  But I was curious all the same.

Some years ago, I read an interesting novel by Michael Palin (yes, that Michael Palin, the one from Monty Python) called Hemingway’s Chair.  In the story, a mousy postal worker with a fascination for all things Hemingway learns that Papa’s fishing chair is about to be sold at auction and he schemes for ways to make the chair his own.

And so, having left the others browsing for souvenirs and trinkets, it was with curious interest that I climbed aboard the Pilar with hopes of snapping a photo of Hemingway’s chair.  And there it was.  Right on the stern of the boat.  But it was unlike any fishing chair I’d ever seen.  It was made of highly polished wood and sat low with a beam that jutted forward from the seat parallel to the deck with a footrest at the end, so that if you were in the chair, your legs would stick straight out in front of you.  As I puzzled over the unexpected style and how best to capture it with my trusty phone, a couple boarded the boat and the wife plunked herself down into the chair and began mugging for her husband’s camera.  Seriously?!

Annoyed, I took myself below deck, if only to escape the rampant dumb-assitude.  There, in the dimly lit cabin, I found something I liked even better than the fishing chair.  There was a vintage desk complete with typewriter and chair.  I know.  It’s not Hemingway’s typewriter.  But it was cool.  Plus, I thought it was the perfect illustration for one of my favorite Hemingway quotes: Write drunk.  Edit sober. 

So I snapped four pictures in fairly rapid succession.  I hurried, figuring Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum  would undoubtedly be down any second.  I had to use a flash in the murkiness of the room and I couldn’t actually see what I was getting, but I hoped that at least one photo would be good enough to post with the quote.

It was not until later when I wanted to choose the best shot that I saw something interesting.  I’ve arranged the photos in the exact order in which I took them.  In the first and second frames nothing seems out of the ordinary.  In the third you begin to see a hazy little anomaly to the left of the typewriter.  The anomaly is clearer in the fourth photo.

What is it?  I don’t know. Like I said before, I’m not really a huge believer in the whole ghostie thing.  But I’ve lived long enough to know that there are some things you simply can’t explain.

Before October is over, I’ve got another couple of weird stories for you.  Stay tuned…

Oooh! Velly Scelly! (translation from Transylvanian: Oooh! Very Scary!)

Scary States


We bring to you this report snagged from yesterday’s local news:

Apparently, Florida is the scariest of these fifty states. 

This is according to Estately Blog, which lists the factors which were considered in order to make this determination.


Factor number one is bears.  Yes, bears.  One lady in Orlando gets dragged out of her garage by the head and everybody loses their minds.  Okay, that is kinda scary.


The second factor is clowns.  Seriously, clowns?!  It’s not our fault that the winter quarters of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is in Venice, Florida.  So we have more than our fair share of clowns (not even counting those Bozos on the road, but I digress).  Does that actually make our state scary?


Number five is hurricanes.  I would point out the fact that (knock wood) we haven’t been impacted by a hurricane in several years, and haven’t been clobbered since Andrew over twenty years ago.  Other states can’t say the same.


Factor six: shark attacks.  Okay, you’ve got us on that one.  But hey, stay out of the water and you can avoid that one.  I personally have never seen a shark at the beach.  Once years ago I took my boys to the beach and while they were out in the water paddling around, I saw a barracuda.  After it was safely past, I made the kids come back to the sand and we went home.  I think they still have some resentment about that.  You know what else they still have?  All their fingers and toes.  Bam!  You’re welcome.

The list goes on to mention spiders, snakes, lightning, and volcanoes (to my knowledge we have no volcanoes in Florida).  The report falls short, in my opinion, by failing to mention the scariest thing in Florida, fire ants.  Generally speaking, I am a ‘live and let live’ kind of girl, but these spawn of Satan have absolutely no reason for being other than to make people miserable.

fire ants

So maybe Florida really is the scariest state.  Let’s tell the Snowbirds that, anyway.