Thursday, January 28, 2010

devil vs angel

Mary made a devil’s food cake in a bundt pan with a swirl design to it. She added some chocolate chips to the cake mix as a little extra surprise. After it had cooled from baking she drizzled both chocolate frosting and white frosting over the cake. We had some for dessert after supper tonight. It was very good and being a devil’s food cake it was naturally a dark chocolate cake with a real rich chocolate flavor.

But chocolate cake is not what I wanted to talk about tonight. I worked at a hospital in Phoenix, AZ in the 70’s. I worked in x-ray as the supervisor of the evening shift, and there was a gentleman who worked in the hospital with the last name of Wooten. A big guy. He had played football for the Crimson Tide of Alabama at one time. He was very pleasant and he use to come to the x-ray department to chat with us. It was slow in the evenings in the x-ray department and so we would have some leisure time for talking. We got to be friends and I found out that he actually lived only a few blocks from me. I learned a lot from him and have fond memories of him. He was a gentle giant and afro-american. And I was a naive white boy who thought that he knew everything about everything. Well, I learned a lot from Wooten. We started talking about segregation and discrimination one night in the x-ray department. I told him that there wasn’t any discrimination any more. That era was over. He told me that there was still discrimination all around us. I disagreed. He asked me what color devil’s food cake was, and I answered black. Then he asked me what color angel food cake was, and I answered white. Immediately I had the realization that he was right and he smiled because he could tell by the expression of awe on my face that my eyes had been opened and I had learned the lesson that he had taught me. We went on with discussions of “white lies”, black hats vs white hats, and blockbusting which I had never heard of before. I learned a lot that night for which I am ever grateful to him for. I have often wondered whatever happened to him. He was one of God’s good people. Life is a process of continually learning. Lew

Monday, January 25, 2010

ICU Intensive Care Unit

This is Mary’s ICU (intensive care unit) for plants. Here is where they are kept and nourished and pampered back to health until they can be planted back into the ground.

There are such a variety of plants. Even a Venus flytrap plant.

I know that it is hard to recognize the fly trap because it is so magnified. It is now doing much better. I have tried several times in the far distant past to get these Venus fly traps to grow but without success. They are tropical and very sensitive to temperature, moisture, and who knows what else yet here it is in a pot in the backyard in January. Do we have a nice climate in Florida or de we have a nice climate in Florida? Perhaps spending some time in the ICU will be what it needs.

Mary also planted the top portion of a carrot that had started to sprout. It also looks to be doing pretty good.

I wonder if we will get a whole new carrot to eat?

In a sense, we can think of the carrot as the beginnings of our “victory garden” which really can’t start until spring. There is a certain satisfaction in watching the plants grow. Have a good day and instead of planting a tree, plant a carrot instead, or some scallions, or some beets or................
And tomorrow? Tomorrow is Tuesday which is movie day. We are going to go see the movie Legion. Bring on the popcorn and soda and have a good time. Popcorn is free, I have a coupon for the free popcorn. There is more popcorn in the free bag than the two of us can eat. We bring the remainder of the popcorn which is usually a third to a half of a bag for the rabbit who likes popcorn also.

The weather is cool and as the sun was setting I was walking outside and that crisp breeze on my face reminded of early springtime in New York. There would be large patches of snow here and there and as the breeze blew across these patches it cooled the air making the breeze a crisp cool breeze. And yet the bright sun in the cloudless sky was warm. It was a nice time and a pleasant time for me. May all your memories be pleasant memories also. Take care. Lew

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Some of our plants did well with the recent frost and some didn’t do quite so well. Out topsy turvy tomato plant took a beating from the frost but has since recovered. We brought it into the garage to prevent it from freezing but6 it still seemed to be sensitivity to the cooler environment inside the garage. It is a little difficult to see in the picture above.

It is doing well and is giving us a bumper crop of tomatoes. You can see some of them in the picture above. I think that by hanging the tomato vine the insects can’t crawl up out of the ground to munch on it. Plus the nematodes, they can’t attack the roots of the plant because it is not in the ground. Now if plants could think, it would probably be saying “What nut went and planted me upside down? Must have been an Australian since they live on the bottom of the world and walk around upside down all day long anyway.” Now that is just a joke but something that I use to wonder about when I was in grade school.

It won’t be long before these green tomatoes will be great big red luscious tomatoes gracing the top of a salad. They look like twins. For those of us who can remember the “victory gardens” of world war II, then this can be our victory garden for the high price of tomatoes in the store. Now to grow some lettuce also. The topsy turvy is actually performing a lot better than I thought that it would.
Let’s all enjoy the week-end with leisure activities that make life enjoyable and fun. Lew

Thursday, January 21, 2010

tropical birds

Where else but in Florida can you walk out your front door and see a flock of tropical white egrets in the driveway. Utah? Nope! Long Island? Nope! Florida? You betcha. The birds were poking around in the ground with their long beaks for some bugs to eat. They were quiet. No squawking or other birds noises. No noise at all.

The birds have very long, slender, and curved beaks. The birds with those beaks remind of an ibis bird which happens to be the mascot of the University of Miami.

I noticed one bird preening the feathers of another bird. Communal grooming similar to what monkeys do. The flock of tropical egrets hung around in the yard and the driveway for about half an hour before leaving. And when they were gone, I discovered the little presents that they had left me.

Little white spots on the driveway. Lots of them. Well, it is suppose to rain tonight and these spots will get washed off the driveway and into the grass where they will help the grass grow. After all, every cloud has a silver lining.
What do you think? Comic book style blogs? So many pictures that reading the blogs is like reading a comic book with all of its pictures?
Hopefully these pictures will help give them thar' blue bellied yankee’s an idea of what Florida is like. Wait a minute, I am originally from New York and so I guess that makes me a transplanted blue bellied yankee. As I type this, the air conditioner is turned on and is cooling the house a little because the temperature is suppose to get to 81 degrees today. For you northerners, that must be hard to imagine as you stand knee deep in snow shoveling out the driveway (been there, done that). I walk around outside with a short sleeve shirt on and I am quite comfortable. Very pleasant. Have a nice day and enjoy the snowball fights and sleigh riding down the snow covered hills. Me? I will be sitting outside in my lawn chair watching the hamburgers cook on the grill. Have a very nice day. Lew

Friday, January 15, 2010


I think that the snowbirds are here. Not the tourists but the real snowbirds, robins. I think that there was a flock of robins in the backyard today. They had real orange chest feathers which is as I remember as a child the robins to be. I remember when I was young and living in New York that they also have the prettiest blue eggs. Yes, blue eggs, like the blue colored eggs at Easter time. The robins were eating the berries from the camphor tree in the back yard. The berries look like blueberries. The berries must have been tasty to them because they were eating them like crazy. There was a whole bunch (approximately 20) of the birds in the camphor tree eating the berries right off the tree and a whole bunch (approximately 30 or 40) more eating the berries that had fallen on the ground.

I had noticed the cat earlier sitting in the back door of the garage looking up at the camphor tree. I thought that she was watching the leaves falling down from the tree. I discovered that it wasn’t the leaves that she was watching but the birds. As the birds constantly flew in and out of the tree they kept knocking the leaves off the branches causing a nearly constant trickle of leaves coming off the tree. But not to worry, Tammy the cat is so well fed that she is not the kind of cat that eats birds. Her food comes out of a “fancy feast” can. She doesn’t have to work for her food, but just meow for some fancy feast.

I didn’t notice at the time that I took a picture but evidently one of the birds was protesting rather angrily at my disturbing them from their feeding. It is difficult to see but it is the bird on the right. Most of the birds ignored me but not this one. Such a protest.

Also one of the birds was just taking off as I took the picture. If seaside had taken the picture, the bird would not be blurry. Her camera is very fast and she gets excellent freeze-action pictures.

A very large flock was in the back yard feeding. I don’t know if they were finding insects or grass seeds. They very slowly migrated across the backyard

Curiously, there was a red-headed woodpecker on the ground feeding. I guess that he was getting some insects. He would look at the ground for a few seconds and then suddenly peck the ground as if he had spotted something.

Now it is time to say goodbye to all of you and my fine feathered friends. When I was a child living in New York I always liked the return of robins in the spring. And I would always try to be the first one to spot a returning robin because it meant the beginning of spring. Have a nice day and look around at all of the life around us. Pretty soon it will be spring and “time to smell the flowers”. Be kind. Lew

Thursday, January 14, 2010

red eye vs. yellow eye

When I take a picture of the rabbit his eyes are red, just like people have red-eye when I take their picture. But with the rabbit, the whole eye is red and a very bright red. When I take a picture of the cat, the eyes are yellow.

Kind of spooky, isn’t it? I don’t understand why the rabbit and the cat should reflect the light so differently. The cat likes to sit in the window of the living room looking out onto the “goings-on” in the world from her climate controlled perch. A lucky cat.

somebody watching me

Paranoia. Or is it? I was outside in front of the house one day and had the feeling that I was being watched. No, couldn’t be. Just getting paranoid. Or was I?

I think that I see something in the window, something looking at me.

I can relax my fears. It is just Tammy the cat watching me. Work fascinates her. She can just sit and watch me work for hours. Isn’t there some poem or Bible quote about Lilies of the field that might apply to this situation?
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.” I guess that Tammy the cat must be like that in a way.

Speaking of Lilies of the Field, how many remember the movie Lilies of the Field starring Sidney Poitier. It is one of my top 10 favorite movies, I can’t remember exactly how many times I have seen it but I know that it is way over 20. I am one of those people who can watch a movie over and over again from time to time because they enjoy it so much. And how about the catchy music in the movie. The music makes the movie. An all-time great movie.

Lilies must be perennials. Alongside the house in New York that I grew up in, there was a small bunch of white bell-shaped flowers. The whole plant was about 3 or 4 inches tall. The flowers were small and drooped over so that they were upside-down and looked like a little tiny white bell. I was amazed at how delicate they looked. My mom liked the little group of flowers also. She told me that they were lilies but I am not sure if that is what they really were. Both of us would check on them from time to time. Winter would come and the snow would cover the ground but each spring they were back, so small and delicate. We had such an abundance of varied and beautiful flowers when I was growing up. I was fortunate.

Carpe Diem . Enjoy life to its fullest. But most of all, be kind to others as well as yourself. Lew

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

goodbye frost

With the rise of the temperatures, this will probably be the last of the frost for a while. On Saturday it is suppose to be 79 degrees.

The covers over the plants will be coming off today and will not go back on again for a while. The plants will be happy to get some sunshine.

The gardenia bushes took a hit from the frost as they do each year. Each year they look as though they could never recover but each year they do.
Today for lunch we are having burritos to warm us up. And don’t forget the extra sauce, grated cheese and sour cream on top. That makes it a grande burrito deluxe. Has anyone ever had deep fried balls of ice cream? I have heard of them but I have never had one. I would like to try one sometime just out of curiosity. Stay warm and only make half a pot of coffee instead a full pot to stay warm. After all, the temperature is suppose to get up to 61 degrees today. Have fun. Lew

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Does anyone know what nation this flag represents? I have looked but can’t seem to identify it.

The red colored cross in the blue square is a Christian cross. Could this flag belong to an organization? Any help will be appreciated.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Naranja. I believe that is the spanish word for orange. Having grown up in rural New York, on my trips to Florida with my parents on vacation I was always fascinated by orange trees. I assume that southerners may well have been fascinated by the apple trees where I lived. But the oranges were always so colorful.

And those little roadside juice stands advertising all of the orange juice that you can drink for ten cents or a quarter. It was fresh squeezed orange juice also. Squeezed on the spot right in front of use. Oranges taken out of a cooler, cut in half, and placed into a large hand press with a very long handle for leverage with the juice trickling out of a spigot into the waiting glass. Now isn’t that what Florida is really all about?

Well this is the year of the big freeze. Here is an orange tree where the oranges turned black on what looks to be a dead tree.

The red object in the middle of the picture is a sprinkler for trying to save the oranges. The water from the sprinkler froze into a lot of ice at the base of the tree.

There were numerous young trees in this orchard and they were surrounded by ice from the water being sprayed on them by the sprinklers.

All of the tree had the ice around their base from the sprinklers. I wonder by how much the price of orange juice will go up? I don’t drink the orange juice that often. And besides, when it comes to orange juice I only like the “not from concentrate” type. I find the frozen orange juices to be a bit acidic. Besides we are growing our own orange tree in the backyard. In a few days the temperature will be back up into the 70’s and I will put on my shirt will the palm trees on it and start humming the tune Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet. I just wanted folks in places like Long Island and Logan to know that they aren’t the only ones having cold weather. It’s just that in a few days they will probably still be waist deep in snow and I will be sitting in the back yard in a lawn chair with my sun glasses on watching the hamburgers cooking on the grill. Isn’t Florida great? Now if only I could get to the beach. Lew

Saturday, January 9, 2010

icicles galore

What a surprise. I went out to the mailbox around four o’clock (the hottest part of the day) and to my surprise there were lots of icicles hanging from the leaves of the grape vine.

The icicles looked like elongated drops of water but when I felt of them, they were solid ice. I was so cold taking these pictures that it made me a believer that we could have icicles here in Orlando. Poor tourists. I am sure this cold weather is not what they expected.

All of the leaves had icicles on them. The temperature in the house is around 70 degrees but the thermostat is set on 75 degrees. The heater of the central air is barely able to hold the house temperature at 70 degrees at 5:00 in the afternoon, I worry about what will happen later on this evening. The big thing on the news is that stores are sold out of electric heaters. The temperature tonight is suppose to go down to the 20’s, but it won’t bother me because I will be asleep nice and toasty under the electric blanket. It is hard to imagine that the temperature will get back up into the 70’s in a few days.
The hot chocolate this afternoon was good, especially with the miniature marshmallows on top. With enough hot chocolate, hot coffee, and hot tea we will make it through this cold weather. Of course, a little hot chili would be nice too. Is that an oxymoron (hot chili)? Have a warm evening and dress warmly the next couple of days. Lew

sleet in Florida?

We had some sleet here in Orlando. I could see the small balls of ice on both of our vehicles. Can you see them on the roof of my truck? They are very small and not very dramatic.

Here you can see the sleet better. It was not exactly beach weather. Just pity the poor tourists who spent a lot of money to fly to Orlando for vacation and this is what they are experiencing. They probably could have stayed at home and seen sleet and ice.

The rain froze into a thin sheet of ice on the truck. You can see it here as a mottles effect in the lower left corner of the above picture. By Monday it is suppose to be much warmer here in Orlando which will make the tourists happy. I can remember going to the beach in cold weather. The water was warmer than the air and so once in the water, I didn’t want to come out into the cold air. The ocean is nice and I miss it. I use to carry a bathing suit and towel in my car and sometimes I would stop at the beach after work. In the late afternoon, most people had left the beach and the sun had heated the water nicely. I use to like to lay in the shallow tidal pools because the water was so warm from the sun. Of course it helps to listen to some Jimmy Buffet music in the CD in the car on the way to the beach. It would definitely get me into the tropical mood. But right now, even Jimmy Buffet music can’t make the rain and sleet go away. But summer will soon be here and I will be able to go to the beach listening to Jimmy Buffet on the way. Unfortunately, I am in central Florida and the beach is on the coast so it is a hefty drive. But Seaside’s pictures are tempting and I will probably say “What the heck, surf’s up”, grab my swimsuit and beach towel and head for the beach, waves, and sand. Stay warm with a nice cup of hot chocolate (and don’t forget the miniature marshmallows). Lew

Thursday, January 7, 2010

shiver me timbers

Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any colder, it seemed to be colder this morning. Actually it wasn’t any colder but the frost made it seem cooler. I wrote the word “cold” on the hood of Mary’s car with my finger.

Even the water in the birdbath was frozen. And I don’t mean just a thin coating of ice. It was thick because I wrapped the ice hard with my knuckles and it didn’t break. It actually sounded quite solid.

It is very difficult to see the ice in the picture because the ice is absolutely clear. But it is there and either solid or very close to being solid. Poor birds, they will have to wait for the sun to warm everything up to melt the ice so that they can get a drink of water.

I lightened the picture and if you look real hard you can see the surface of the ice. But it is so clear that it really doesn’t look frozen. I don’t want to complain about the cold weather too much because this is what I had looked forward to during the hot steamy days of August. Besides, we don’t want to scare the tourists away. And at least we don’t have several feet of snow piled up on the ground like those poor folks in Long Island and Utah.

And of course, don’t forget the poor gardenia bush. It always suffers from the winter cold each year. Some of the leaves have already turned black and I am sure that there will be plenty more to follow. But no matter how bad it gets, it always “kicks back” in the spring and send out shoots of new leaves. It as perennial as the .............. (I don’t remember the rest of the saying. Does anyone know the ending?)

"Shiver me timbers." Pirate talk, at least that is what the pirates always use to say in the movies. By the way, I always liked the actor Robert Newton in his portrayal of Long John Silver in the television series of the same name. Whenever I think of pirates, the image of Robert Newton comes to mind dressed up in all of his pirate clothes. Stay warm and enjoy a fun day indoors. Lew

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a bad day

This blog is a departure from my usual style of blogs. Let me know if you like it or prefer the old style.

If you should ever happen to have the misfortune to see this falling from the sky, you are going to have a bad day. This is a picture of a Mark 17/24 thermonuclear hydrogen device. It’s explosive force was around 15 mega-tons of TNT which is 1000 timew as powerful as that dropped on Hiroshima. The purpose of the parachute is to slow the descent to give the plane a chance to get away before the explosion. Fortunately the cold war has long since passed and no nuclear conflicts occurred. I am confident that civilization would have been thrown back into the stone age and the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome style of civilization would have become a reality. For one, I like my electricity, going shopping at the mall, and all of the other perks of our modern way of life. I happened to see an old newsreel clip of president Kennedy giving a news conference during the height of the Cuban missile crisis. He said that any attack on the western hemisphere would be considered an attack on the United States resulting in a full retaliatory strike against Russia. I wonder if by “a full retaliatory strike” meant emptying our missile silos? That would have definitely resulted in a nuclear holocaust. I was attending the University of Miami at the time of the Cuban missile crisis and the college campus seemed abandoned as parents around the country recalled their children home. Of course, since I lived in Miami at the time, there was no place for me to go but Miami. But then, why would anyone launch a missile onto a tourist spot with nothing but palm trees and sandy beaches. So I felt relatively safe. I was in the air force reserve officers training corps at the time and got to see the air force base south of Miami which was loaded with planes and armaments. I think that president Kennedy meant business, but thankfully we never found out.

Pardon the pun, but have a “bang-up” day. And try to stay warm with a nice warm cup of Boscoe chocolate drink. (As a child I hated the taste of that stuff and refuse to even try it as an adult.) Behave and be good because Christmas is coming once again in 350 days. (Credit card bills in 350 + 30 days.) Lew

think tropical, think hot

Tammy the cat has found a solution to the cold weather. Instead of going outside into the icy cold weather, she prefers to sit on a window ledge in a nice warm house and look out at the freezingly cold air. I guess that she is what you would call a domesticus felinis because she definitely likes the domesticated life with all of its good food, warm environs, and numerous other amenities that she gets that the wild feral cats outside don’t get.

It is so cold that Mary and I are staying in the house most of the time, venturing out only for shopping or the library. It doesn’t make sense to try working around the yard and end up getting a cold and feeling miserable. The electric blanket on the bed sure does help a lot with the cold nights. But where can I get some Ovaltine or Boscoe to mix in a nice warm cup of milk? LOL. Actually, I didn’t care for either one as a child. What is good is the Carnation chocolate malted milk powder mix. Spoon that into a cup of hot milk and you have really got yourself a treat, but oh my, the calories.

We have a water softener and I have been keeping track of how often I put salt in. I thought that it was around once every three weeks. But to my surprise, it is actually a 40 pound bag of salt once every two weeks. We are on well water which has iron in it and so we really do need to soften the water.

So try being a little hedonistic and turn that thermostat up to a nice comfortable setting and enjoy life. As they say “life is too short to drink cheap wine” or to be cold. Lew

Friday, January 1, 2010


Today was a rainy and drizzly day. However, we did get to take down the Christmas lights running along the eave of the house and the bushes. For dessert after supper Mary made a cherry shortcake using cherry pie filling. With the whip cream on top, it was decadent (very good).

Tomorrow Mary and I are going to a large flea market just south of Mt. Dora. Did you know that Mt. Dora was used as a model for the sci-fi novel Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank who lived nearby in Tangerine. We do have colorful names for towns and cities in Florida. Since the rain has passed through, the weather has turned a lot cooler. I will be turning on the electric blanket tonight to make the bed nice and toasty and warm. I wish that they had electric blankets when I was a child but they didn’t exist back then. The best that my mother could do was to put flannel sheets on the bed which helped a lot. But today, with the magic of the electric blanket, I can wrap myself in warmth. Is there anyone who doesn’t have an electric blanket? I think not. Have a warm and toasty evening and during the day tomorrow. For those living in Long Island, Delaware, and Utah, what can I tell you about the cold weather except move to Florida where 68 degrees is considered chilly. Seaside’s blog Turkey Talk has some really good pictures of what Florida is like. Especially living near the seashore. There is always something which is so relaxing about watching the oceans waves break on the shore. I always like the sounds of the pounding surf.

Turn up the thermostat and stay warm with a cup of hot chocolate. Lew