Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gator Glen

My brother has a rather unusual and interesting job. He's a licensed trapper for nuisance alligators. The other day he helped trap two. One was 8 ft. long, discovered in a sewer drain by city workers. The other was a 10 ft. long gator in a canal. If you go here you can see the news report and video. Be sure to watch the second video, it's the coolest! He's the guy sitting on the gator's back at the end.

You may notice the mouth is taped shut. Guess who taped it? He doesn't kill the gators unless they have killed a person - this one is headed for a gator farm in Lake Placid. He used a boom box playing baby gator sounds to attract the gator in question, then uses a loop to catch it, or sometimes a gaffe gun of some sort. Once he wrestles the madly fighting alligator to shore (they roll over and over, once breaking his finger in the process!), he has to sit on its back and tape its mouth shut. Then he can load it on the truck.

It's not that surprising that he would end up doing something like this. His first camping trip was when he was one month old, as you can see above. My sister and I are 9 and 12 in the picture. We hiked, swam, fished, canoed and camped and he was always included. I remember once my step-dad (his dad) asked us if we wanted to see an alligator when we were near a swamp or pond, probably in the Everglades. We said sure, so he began making soft "unh, unh, unh" sounds that he said were the sounds baby alligators make when they are in distress. Then he got a wicked little gleam in his eye and said to my mom, "Hand me the baby! If I dangle his tender little toes in the water, the gators will come right over!" She squealed and held my brother tighter and my step-dad grinned from ear to ear.

His dad taught him everything he needed to know to be an outdoorsman, and he always has been comfortable in the great outdoors. He hunts, both with gun and bow, fishes (and cooks an incredibly delicious fish dinner with his fresh fish, even though he doesn't eat fish himself), canoes, hikes, and camps.

And now he's added gator trapping to his repertoire! Kinda cool, don't ya think?
He wants people to know that what makes an alligator a nuisance is feeding them! I have been swimming, fishing and canoeing with gators, but when they are wild they mostly leave people alone. We had a gator in the pond near us that people wouldn't stop feeding - my son used to go stand on the bank and when the gator headed his way, he'd bean it between the eyes with a rock. That way it didn't know whether it was going to receive food or pain. It's possible he saved a few neighborhood kids that way! If you are concerned about alligators hurting people, or even if you are concerned about the gators themselves, the best thing you can do for them is leave them alone. People are killed by gators all the time, so you could save lives by not feeding them. Not to mention that the gator will have to be destroyed if it eats someone!
Luckily if someone has a problem, they can just give my brother a call!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Go, Sierra!!!

Sierra Minott is a beautiful girl from our church, who just happens to be the reigning Miss Florida. She's sweet, intelligent, talented and a wonderful Christian young lady - she's also competing for the title of Miss America tonight in Las Vegas. This will be aired at 8 o'clock tonight on TLC. We wish Sierra luck and know that she will be a wonderful role model for the nation's girls!

Update: We had a big "Miss America Party" at church to watch the pageant. Every time Sierra made it through another level, the cheering would be so loud we could never hear what she said! She did really well, though. Sierra was 4th runner up! We are all very proud of her.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'd Like to Thank My Producer, Caterer, My Mother...

A while back, I received this lovely award (above) from Sparky, having to do with how blogging makes us feel close to each other (Proximidade) and friends with people we may never meet, but get to know just the same.

About the same time I got the Lemonade Stand award from Sassy Granny, also in the name of friendship and community, and I think it is really cute.

Around Christmas, I collected the Christmas Award from Merle and Sparky, but I was supposed to say what I love about Christmas. Well, what's not to love about Christmas?! I love it all. The lights, the carols, the nativity scenes, the parties, the food (sugar, sugar, sugar!!!) - especially the way everyone is so loving and gentle and compassionate with everyone else. I was too busy enjoying it all to tell about it, but now you know, I'm big on Christmas! What could be better than celebrating the birth of our Savior? I think the award is really classy looking and pretty.

More recently, my friend Ruth passed on this Friendship Award, below. Isn't it darling? I love hearts. And friends!
I really like awards. They make me feel special and happy, and they make my blog look pretty. But I am dreadful at following all the rules, linking everyone, passing them on in a timely fashion, and getting them posted before the givers give up on me! So I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all my lovely friends who took the time to bestow these lovely awards on me. Please forgive me for not taking care of them in the manner in which they (and you!) deserve. And anyone who visits here who really, really likes one of them, I want you to have it, in the time-honored tradition of sharing the bloggy joy!

Thanks again!

Totally Random Update: 1)We are enjoying our bookcase. Our son lent us a couple of very cool display shelves for the other side, too! 2)After reading my football comments, my friend Ruth sent me a Woman's Guide to Football she wrote, with the basic basics, so now I have a "cheat sheet" to use during the game (I got it out this weekend when the announcer mentioned a blitz and I couldn't remember just what that was!) Ruth might be persuaded to publish this handy-dandy guide in time for the Super Bowl; let's encourage her to do that. Husbands everywhere will thank her! 3)I remembered the other anniversary destination we killed. Well, wounded, since it has since reopened. But there is a lovely little resort on Sanibel Island called "Song of the Sea," (isn't the very name beautiful???) where we went for almost a week to celebrate our 25th anniversary! Such a romantic, beautiful spot. Hurricane Charley put quite a hurtin' on it the summer after we were there. I know a lot of the trees have been destroyed entirely, which would definitely change the ambience. 4)As for the wedding photo I showed for our anniversary where I'm peeking out the door - I had heard my beloved's voice and laughter and had to sneak a peek! My mother made the dress, from a picture in a bridal magazine of a dress I wanted. Well, actually, my hubby to be chose it, which I thought was incredibly romantic! I don't know how she did it. She cobbled together a pattern out of other patterns and newspaper. It turned out beautifully. The veil was the one my mum-in-law-to-be had worn and she put new lace and, but it had her original orange blossoms... 5)Last but not least, I finished Pilgrim's Regress. It was pretty good, but I recommend reading C.S. Lewis' afterword FIRST because I think it helped with understanding it. Next, I am supposed to read, per my son's request, "The Great Divorce," also by Lewis. (Ok. It's over. You can go home now :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Totally Random

This bookcase for the den is our latest project. My husband designed and built it, and like the old Shake and Bake commercial, I helped! I sanded some, painted all, and helped fetch and carry. We built it in the driveway and brought it in piece by piece, but with 11' long boards, that's some big pieces! We really, really love it, though, and we'll also have good memories of building it together. As you can see, we are bookaholics.
See how big we grow our grapefruit here??? Seriously, it is called a pommelo. I don't know what that word means, but what it IS, is a really big grapefruit! It tastes really good! It's also a blast to feed to cows! I threw half of one to the cows, and that is a show. They fight over it, and whichever one gets it, turns and bites hard, spraying all the others with juice! It's so funny to watch. (on the back right is a normal grapefruit).
In other news, my husband is teaching me football. We play it in the den - no, really, we watch it in the den, and he explains it. Which I think is really nice of him. To his credit he's tried to teach me before, but I was a half-hearted learner. When I was in college getting a Business degree, one of my assignments for Marketing class was to watch the Super Bowl commercials. Well, I got really bored in between commercials and starting asking my husband a lot of apparently very silly questions about football. During the game. No, he didn't really appreciate it. He was seriously contemplating having a talk with my Professor. But now I really want to know what in the world those guys are doing out there, and the explanations are starting to make sense. I actually understand the difference between the four quarters and the four downs! Never got that before...

We killed another anniversary destination! For some reason, everywhere we like to go for our anniversary ends up closing. We used to go to the Naples Dinner Theatre. We actually saw several really good shows there, like "Show Boat," "South Pacific," "The King and I," and "Fiddler on the Roof." But they closed. Then for a couple of years we went to a restaurant called "Casa Lupita," but it closed too. So we started going to the smooth jazz festival, Jazz on the Green. It is isn't dead, but definitely wounded, in that it wasn't SMOOTH anymore! But it might be recovering. Then the other day, we went to Smokey Bones for an anniversary dinner - it had closed 2 days prior! I am getting very concerned about Sea World...

I am currently reading C. S. Lewis' "Pilgrim's Regress." Our youngest son asked me to read it; he'd read and enjoyed it, and we like to discuss books we've both read. It is something along the lines of "Pilgrim's Progress." Only different, of course. Oh, just an aside, but if you could never quite get through "Pilgrim's Progress" and wanted to, there is a book called "Little Pilgrim's Progress" that is much easier to read and still gets the point across nicely.

And that's enough randomness for one post!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


One year ago today I began this blog. I had been talking about starting one; talking but never doing. Finally my husband sat me down in front of the computer and said it was time. We both felt it would be a good bridge to more disciplined writing habits. Even though I'd been thinking about doing it, I'd never really thought out the details, but it was crunch time. I decided to name it All About Whatever so I wouldn't be locked in to one subject. The next day I discovered my header verse, one I had always liked, but now the 'whatever's' jumped out at me. When my husband asked me what my screen name would be, for some reason a conversation with my son about a rose bush came to mind. I have a McCartney rosebush that has large, fragrant and prolific pink blooms. If I had known this particular rosebush had ambitions to take over the world, I would not have planted it so close to the walk and the porch, but I had no idea it would get so big. It is at least 8 feet tall as well as wide. I nicknamed it "Rosezilla" and my son joked that he kept Round-Up in his room in case it snuck in to murder us all in our beds some night! I had a perfect picture of a double bloom from it that I chose for the Profile picture, and I decided to use the psuedonym Rosezilla for my blog, with the whimsical idea in the back of my mind that it would be as if the rosebush had it's own blog. I didn't really think anyone would be reading anyway. I had no idea I would meet so many lovely people, so many new friends all over the world who honor me by taking the time to read what I am writing, and who write such interesting things of their own. Following is one of my earliest entries, written in January of last year. But it's just as true this January!

Winter in Florida

The sun is shining down like a benediction from a flawless sky, sapphire-blue and cloudless. A variety of small birds sing their hearts out from sheer happiness. Several larger birds ride the wind currents, strong and powerful daredevils breathtaking in their freedom. Squirrels are clowning around on the power lines like tiny performers in a circus highwire act. Butterflies flutter by, weaving among the roses in tantalizing flashes of orange and yellow. The roses lift their faces to the sun, perfect buds in pink, red, white or yellow slowly opening, gently releasing their soft perfume into the beauty of the day. It is winter in Florida once again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dance Lessons (True Story Time)

Christmas morning! After all the presents had been opened and the candy eaten, Mom told Leslie and me that we had one more gift. "You are going to begin dance lessons," she said.
“Dance lessons!” squealed Leslie. “Ballet?”
“Ballet if you want, or you can take tap,” Mom answered.
“Whoopee!” I yelled, jumping up and down. “When can we start?”
Very soon the day came. After school we went to Studio Bochette. Through a large picture window, we could see girls in leotards and tights practicing in a sunny room. Some stood at a barre, watching themselves stretch in a mirror. Those girls had toe shoes and were learning ballet. Another group of girls, in tap shoes, waited their turn.
“Okay, girls, what’ll it be?” a cheerful lady asked us.
“We haven’t decided yet,” answered Leslie with dignity. “But we think we want ballet.”
“Well, while you think about it, come look through these toe shoes,” she offered, leading us to a small room with a large box of ballet shoes. We dug in eagerly, but all of the shoes were so big! After trying on every pair, and feeling like Cinderella trying on her step-sister’s big shoes, we gave up. The lady looked at mom and said, “Well, I know we have tap shoes to fit them.”
That’s how we decided to take tap dancing. We went in to a small dressing room and changed into our leotards and tights. They were both black, and so were the tap shoes. These shoes weren’t soft like the ballet slippers. They were like dressy church shoes, only they had heavy metal taps affixed to the bottom front. After we got them buckled on, we went into the studio with our class. The wood floor shone softly, polished by generations of dancing feet. We all stood in a line, wiggling with anticipation. Our teacher began our lesson.
“Watch and then do,” she instructed and she moved her leg quickly, flicking her foot and producing a tapping sound like a shod horse on cobbles. We all moved our legs quickly and all our shoes made sounds too - like a herd of elephants on steroids.
Laughing, the teacher showed us again, slower, and this time we sounded better. We learned to point our toes down slightly and “scuff” our feet quickly, almost floppily, against the wood floor. Every movement of our foot produced certain sounds, some heavy, some light and soft. Sometimes we moved quickly, sometimes slowly, toe, heel, toe, turn! This was fun!
All too soon the first lesson was over. And then we got a serendipity! We took our shoes off, but then our teacher said, “Come in here!” and led us all into a new room, one with mats on the floor. We got to do tumbling, too! Now we had two new teachers. They showed us how to tuck up like a cat and roll forward down the mat. I felt like a bowling ball as one teacher held me together and rolled me gently toward the other. I thought I could do it by myself. First I rolled off to the side and then I came undone, but they patiently tucked me back together and I rolled along straighter this time. After a bit of practice, our lesson really was over. We changed to our regular clothes and rode home with Mom, bubbling over with excitement and eager to return.
The next couple of lessons improved our technique. At the end of the third lesson, the teacher began talking about a recital. We learned we would wear costumes, like little Hawaiian girls, with flower leis and grass skirts. We began learning the steps, tap, cross the feet, turn. “Good, now your hands,” the teacher exclaimed. “As you cross one foot over the other, reach up, as if you are picking flowers off of a tree, and then gently put them in your imaginary baskets. Gracefully, girls!” Very gracefully she demonstrated, her hands moving gently. We practiced over and over, adding the hand motions as we tapped our way across the floor.
In tumbling we were learning to do back rolls. Leslie was much better at tumbling than I was. She could tuck up tighter and roll straighter. I wobbled more. I resolved to do better the next week.
But when the next week came, the phone was ringing as we rushed in from school. It was Mama saying she couldn’t leave work. “Oh, no!” we moaned.
“Listen,” she soothed, “it will be fine! I’m calling a taxi to take you to your dance lesson. When the taxi comes, go out and get in. The taxi driver will know what to do. Then I’ll be there to pick you up after your lesson.”
Wow. We were impressed. Neither of us had ever been in a taxi before. We heard a “beep-beep-beep” and looked out to see that the taxi had arrived. The driver was a very big man. If I’d been by myself I know I couldn’t have gotten in to that taxi, even if I had to miss dance lessons. I don’t know, but I think Leslie felt the same way. She looked at me and I looked at her and we looked scared. The taxi driver was in a hurry. “Come on, you girls, your mom said to take you to the dance studio.”
Well, he knew where we were going. That was reassuring. We got in the back seat and that helped some. We sat very close together. The taxi driver ignored us and that helped too. Then we were stepping out at the familiar small, white building and we were happy again. “We rode in a taxi cab!” we bragged to our new friends.
“Hurry, girls,” our teacher admonished, “you’re late!” The other girls were already going into the studio. We hurried to change and hurried out to practice. I looked at Leslie and she looked fine. But the teacher looked at me, and she laughed! Then everyone looked at me and they all laughed. I was bewildered. I tried to decide whether or not to cry.
“You hurried so fast you came out backwards!” the teacher explained, showing me the inside seams on the outside of my leotard. In the mirror I could see the tag sticking straight out on the back. The teacher took me back in the dressing room. She very kindly helped me to get my clothes on right side out. When we came back no one laughed at me anymore. Our music started and we worked on our routine. We knew what we were supposed to do, now. We had to tap, tap, toe, heel, reach slowly, turning all the way from one side to the other, all together.
I began to feel like a small Island girl. I could feel the sea breezes on my skin as I moved. The fragrance of the exotic flowers wafted to my nose as I gracefully picked them, placing them gently in the basket I’d woven from palm leaves. I couldn’t wait to wear a grass skirt.
Tumbling was still a challenge. We were learning to do a backbend. Leslie could do it by herself. She would stand with her legs slightly apart, arms up above her head, and lean her head back. Slowly she bent back until she could see the ground beneath and behind her. Gently she lowered herself backward toward it, palms stretched out. Over, over she’d lean until her hands were flat on the floor and her body made a bridge. She could walk slowly on her hands and feet, then bring her head and hands back up until she was standing! It looked fascinating - until it was my turn. At first the teacher helped me by holding me, her hand on the small of my back. But sometimes, when I leaned back, my feet would come up off the floor! I kept working until I learned to do a back bend too.
As the weeks passed, the recital moved closer. Now we practiced at home too. Our costumes were being made! Tumbling continued as well. We were learning cartwheels. I never quite mastered cartwheels, but Leslie could do them if she held her mouth just right! I could do about 3/4ths of a cartwheel. But you should have seen me do forward rolls! Even backward rolls. And I never put my leotard on wrong-side out again.
Finally the day came when our costumes were ready. We had to put them on and do our entire routine in them. This was called a dress rehearsal. Now we were as ready as we’d ever be. The night of the recital arrived! We didn’t go to the familiar studio. We went to the local High School. That’s where all the big productions were held. We had gone to rehearsals there for community plays in which Mom and Dad acted. Then we were waiting around, getting into mischief, learning “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” on the piano, watching Mom and Dad in plays like “Fireman, Save My Child!” and “Charlie’s Aunt.” But this time Mom and Dad would be in the audience and we would be performing on stage! We had our costumes on, our flowers and our tap shoes. Giggling, we waited for our turn.
Teacher came and lined us up, reminding us that it was time to get serious. We were all in a line, smiles pasted on, when the curtain rose. It was a big, heavy, red, velvet curtain. As a man pulled a long cord, slowly the curtain went up. We could see rows of people looking expectantly at us. Where was Mama? Before we could find her and wave, our teacher was making “Phtt, phtt” noises to get our attention. We all looked at her and our music started playing - the same music we had practiced to over and over at our lessons. We began to tap out the rhythm of our routine. Tap, tap, toe, heel, reach high, turn. We smiled, danced, picked the imaginary flowers and placed them deep in our imaginary baskets. We were concentrating so hard, trying not to make mistakes. We danced our very best, trying to make our audience feel the ocean breezes of our island home. As we took our final positions, our music ended. Everyone clapped and cheered. We took our bows. We were dance recital stars!
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