Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vicious Attack by a Manatee!

Pam and I decided to get out and enjoy some of this wonderful Florida sunshine, so we hied ourselves over to a local marina and rented two kayaks.   It was the first time I'd kayaked since we lived in Stamford.  I didn't know how I'd do with my weak right arm, so we only rented them for half a day.   As it turned out, two hours was enough.   I barely made it back to the marina, and a worker there gave me a hand up getting out.

Pamela was the official photographer today.   I didn't want to bring my Nikon in the kayak.  Pam's is small and fits nicely in a zip lock baggie.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a flock of turkeys.  I swear one of them said "gobble gobble, ya'all".


Even for a Wednesday, folks were out and about boating and picnicking. 


Cormorants.


Redneck fishin' boat.


Up the grotto.


Turtle on a tree.


Dave and the turtle on the tree.


Turtle on a log.


He seemed kinda stuck up.


Scene of the vicious manatee attack.  We paddled down to the end where there was a large section of water lilies.  Pam noticed the manatee signs first, which were bubbles and swirls in the water.   I  could have a 1,200 pound manatee tap dancing with a 1,000 pound Sasquatch and I wouldn't notice it.  Truth.  Ask Pam.

Anyway, we just sat quietly there watching this huge manatee.  Then we noticed it's baby swimming near it.  Both would rise to the surface every few minutes to breathe.  Then the momma swam towards us.  It got under my kayak and rose, giving it a bump.   It was a warning to go away, so we did.



Pamela took a photo of a hawk.  I looked everywhere but I couldn't see it.  It must be behind that owl.



We paddled down the river and then up a small creek.   We went quite a ways.  There was no current so I'm guessing that it dead ends somewhere, but we didn't reach the end.


Eagle.


Great Blue Heron.


On another totally unrelated note, we had F16 fighters buzzing all around.  Its been going on for days now.  They're flying very fast and very low.  Yesterday one buzzed over the tree tops, shaking the RV.   I wonder what's going on?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lighter Wood

In a previous blog post, I wrote about lighter wood.  Lighter wood, also called fat wood and other names, is long leaf pine that has been struck by lightning, driving the pine resin deep into the tree, according to local lore.  It is used to start and maintain fires, which is a good thing since live oak burns like crap.

This is a live oak bonfire, fueled by lighter log.


The log with all the flames is the lighter log.  The smoldering logs underneath are live oak.  The lighter wood burns like it is drenched in oil.  More accurately, pine pitch.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Long Leaf Pine

Last weekend, Florida neighbor Denny invited me to a guy weekend at the National Guard post Camp Blanding.  Joining us were Jesse and "Poor Boy".  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew it would be a good time.

I've never served in the military.  I tried to enlist in the Army in 1971 but was turned down because of my extreme nearsightedness.  I am unfamiliar with all things military.

After each of us presented photo IDs, and because Denny is a retired Army guy, we were permitted on the base.  We checked into our cottage and then took off to look for lighter logs and walking sticks.   I'll explain.

First, we drove past live ammunition shooting by guard troops.  Just past them, Denny pulled off the road.  Everyone but Denny, a retired Army Sargent who spent decades here training troops, was a bit nervous about which way they were shooting.

We hiked into the woods and Denny found a lighter log.  A lighter log, or lighter wood, is a long leaf pine that was struck by lightning.  This supposedly drives and traps the resin in the wood.  Long leaf pine is very dense and very slow growing, and very heavy.  Denny asked Poor Boy to drive his truck in to get it.   Don't worry about scratches.  Tas can fix it.


This was a great find, according to Denny.  Lighter wood is used to start fires.  It ignites easily and burns very hot.  Only very small pieces are used.   The piece below can start a hundred fires.


On the way out of the woods, I passed a latrine.  Not much privacy.  There is also no men's and women's latrines.  The new ones probably do, though.  I hope anyway.


Jesse cuts the log into more manageable pieces.


The pic below is a long leaf pine.  Amazingly long needles.


We also looked for trees with "knots", which looks to be some kind of disease or malformation.  


Denny looked for just the right length and size, and cut them with his machete.


This collection will be made into walking sticks and given to friends as presents.  Denny gave me one.   The bark is stripped off and I've started sanding it.  It will be stained and polyurethaned. 


We found an entire lighter wood log!  We cut it up and brought it to Denny's.  Since only a small piece is needed to start a fire,  This should be a lifetime's worth.


And finally, a beautiful sunset.  In Bleecker, we're blocked to the west by a mountain, and in Florida by tall trees.  I miss these low country sunsets.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Glass Bottom Boat

Pam's Aunt Lynn is visiting here in Florida, so we decided to do a tourist thing.  We went to Silver Springs and took a ride on a glass bottom boat.

Silver Springs is fed by a series of natural springs that pumps 850 million gallons of 72 degree fresh water into it every day.  Because of it's warmth and beauty, it has been the setting for many movies and television shows.  Six Tarzan movies have been filmed here, as well as The Creature From the Black Lagoon, I Spy, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, the Jack Paar Show, Arelene Francis, and a raft of others.


Just in case the glass breaks, there is a wall around it that reaches above the waterline.


This pointy nose fish is a gar.


It is winter here still, but some of the trees are budding.  Spring is right around the corner.


Turtles!


These underwater statues were put here for the TV show I Spy.


One of the springs.



Egret.


It was just another beautiful day in Florida.  Livin' the dream!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Strawberry Chocolate Cake and the Horse Trailer

No, those two things aren't related.

First, I wanted to post a pic of the strawberry chocolate cake that Pam made the other day.   It looked so good that I had a piece, and I'm not big into sweets or desserts.


With Pam, her mom Judi, and Pam's Aunt Lynn (who is visiting from Wyoming) it didn't last long.

A question came up about the 1950 Ferguson tractor.  I thought I had mentioned it, but maybe I forgot.  When the guys and I went to pick it up, I decided to give it to them.   The guys are all retired and spend most days at Denny's (a neighbor) fixing and restoring old cars and trucks.  They take their time and do a really nice job.  Denny is an ex-boilermaker and welder.  Tas paints and spins wrenches.  Glen, who goes by the nickname "poor boy", does a bit of everything, including sandblasting.   Since we're only here part time and they're year 'round residents, I gave it to them.  If they get a back blade for it, they can use it to maintain our dirt road.

Pam asked if they would sandblast the rust off her trailer, and if Denny would weld up some holes.  No problem, they said.  Poor Boy works for beer, and Denny works for a pineapple upside down cake.   

They have the trailer now, and I walked over to see how it was going.   This is Poor Boy's truck.  Its a beast.


This is Denny's backyard.  Yep.  He as one of everything.  Sometimes two and three.


Poor Boy sandblasting.   Sorry for the flare.


Tas has been customizing an old truck for a few years now.  It is getting close to being done.   The interior is painted camouflage,  and Tas is going to camouflage the Chevy bow tie.


The outside of Tas's truck is black, not camouflage.   Do you remember when camouflage trucks were all the rage?   Steven Wright, the deadpan comedian who delivered his monologue,  rubbing his forehead like he had a migraine, had a great joke.  It went something like this.

"Every time I see a truck painted camouflage, I want to run into it with my car.  Sorry.  I didn't see you."


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Men in Monkey Suits

Until I found this hand print on the back of my car...


I was skeptical off anyone reporting seeing a Sasquatch.  I thought they were crazy, drunk, or misidentifying what they were seeing.   Now, after considerable studying of the subject, reading Dr. Meldrum's analysis of this North American ape, and a casebook with thousands of reports dating back to the 1700s, I have come full circle and  I'm convinced that they exist.

Like deer during hunting season, they think of humans as a threat and are very elusive.  They live where there is considerable forest for cover, such as the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and the Pacific Northwest.   So while you may find evidence such as hand prints and foot prints, getting a photograph or video of one is rare.  The following is what some consider to the be the best recent footage thanks to everyone having smart phones.


Many in the Sasquatch community think the last clip of a Sasquatch grabbing a dog is a hoax.  I do not.  My three dogs watched me put on a gorilla mask from a Halloween costume and went nuts, barking their heads off.  I think that dog was paralyzed with fear.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

From Ape to Adam

I decided that since I am now the world's foremost Sasquatch expert, it was time for me to take a break and read something different.   I looked over my assortment of books and picked up From Ape to Ada:  The Search For The Ancestry of Man by Herbert Wendt.  OK, this might be good.

The first thing I do with any book is to see when it was written.   No, I don't know why.  This was 1972.  It is an old book, but we're talking evolution here.   I don't think we've changed much in 53 years.

I read the introduction...  I never used to read introductions, but now I'm retired.   I also watch all of the special features on DVD movies.   And then I read this, right at the start of chapter one...

"A silver bowl from an Etruscan grave is the earlist evidence we have today of an encounter between civilized man and his nearest relations in the animal world.  It was found in ancient Praeneste, in Latium, and according to the archaeologist Ludwig Curtius is part of a whole series of dishes of Phoenician and Carthaginian origin.  Its outer frieze consists of an almost cinematographic series depicting a most remarkable being, which can be seen most clearly in the illustration on the right.  This creature walks on two legs, is clothed in hair, is solidly built, and has a massive skull.  It is carrying a stick in one hand and is throwing a stone with the other.  The artist seems to have known this being well;  for both its physical proportions and the typical attitude of attack leave no room for doubt that it is a great ape, perhaps a gorilla, which is depicted here."


The Etruscan period was from about 700 BC until 300 AD.

The text goes on...

"Similar figures are portrayed in the work of other ancient cultures, such as the killing of a 'wild man' on a dish from Cyprus, a Babylonian terracotta of the demon Chumbaba,with the head of an anthropoid ape, and many representations of man-like ape-gods from ancient India  That the great apes, at least, were considered not animal but half-human in the ancient Orient is evident from a report written about 525 BC by the Carthaginian mariner Hanno, which is the earliest authentic but by no means sole evidence  we have of encounters with such creatures.  Hanno tells how he came upon 'forest people in animal skins' on the coast south of the present-day Cameroons, 'among them many women with shaggy heads whom our interpreters call gorillas'.  The legend of the furred man Eabani in the Epic of Gilgamesh, has its significance too.  The demi-god Gilgamesh kneads Eabani out of a forest animal and goes on to conquer the world with him as a companion."

Look at the photo above.   Sasquatches are thought to look like that, and whack things with sticks (or, in my case, with a tree) and throw rocks.  Just like that.