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It is easy to feel discouraged when yet another school shooting occurs. Please don't surrender to despair. I know how hard it is to stay positive, but we must. In the U.S. we are in the midst of an extraordinary power struggle, a struggle for the soul of America. It is a fight that cannot be ignored and will not go away. If we give up, then evil triumphs. Do something small to affect change. It will make you feel better.

Call lawmakers in your state, or those who represent you in Washington, D.C., and ask for them to vote for gun reform. The people answering lawmakers' phones are professionally trained to be courteous and take your calls. Be courteous in return.

If you are phone-averse, then write a letter. Send a postcard, or an email. Show up for a protest. Donate to your favorite candidate. Join a Facebook secret group to keep informed.  Every little effort matters. Every one of these small steps is an action that will make you feel better about yourself and your place in the world. 

Do not respond to trolls on social media. They are often not even human. Others are Alt-right provocateurs who are posting or commenting based on scripts they have been provided. Responding to trolls only serves to bump their Facebook comments up to the top, which is the purpose of their vitriol. It is best to ignore them.

Don't be afraid of failure. We must try and fail many times before we win. We only truly lose if we give up.



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My grandson turned 6 earlier this month and I had the great privilege of making his birthday cake. He watches a goofy cartoon called Phineas and Ferb. They are two young boys who have a pet platypus named Perry. Perry is also a secret agent, so he has two cartoon personas.  

When Perry is a pet he looks like this:







When he’s a secret agent, he looks like this:

For his birthday, I made a Perry cake that looked like this:









Being able to do these "Grandma things" reminds me of why I moved to Florida from New York State. I made a hard choice that I sometimes bemoan, but never regret. Still, there are things I miss. I think that's fair.

Today I miss iris reticulata, an early spring "bulbous perennial" we grew in NYS. It would not be blooming right now, all things still being covered in heavy snow up there.

Reticulata are a harbingers of spring; a reminder that beauty and love endure through even the coldest, darkest months. 

Our reticulata were blue. Not teal like cartoon Perry, not neon blue like my Perry cake, but the color that passes as blue in the plant world. Aren't they pretty?
 



 
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My husband and I dug up and divided Louisiana Irises this morning.  I was gloriously filthy by the time we were done. The sunscreen I slathered on my face was smeared with dirt and sand. Yes, sand. That is what is REALLY supposed to be on the ground here, sand.  Demon developers came along and dumped dirt upon this land. Then they set about to destroy the primeval beauty of Florida with endless housing developments and soulless gated communities. But I digress. Different post.

Starting again: My blue jeans were covered with dirt and mud. What to do? I simply turned on the hose and sprayed myself down with water. Easy peasy. I'm getting too old to struggle trying to finesse these housewifery things. Jeans dirty? Stand outside and hose 'em down.

After both my showers (...) I went in to check my social media pages. I recently joined a FB group called Crones of Anarchy. Hilarious name, but the site leaves much to be desired before it could truly represent anarchistic crones. I know a few. They could eat these pretenders, baked in a pie. 

Synchronicity being what it is, I found this post on the Crones of Anarchy page:


Stop wearing jeans?  As the song goes, "That'll be the day-ay-ay, when I die!"






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I am tired this week. However, I have been busy collecting quotes for a series called #powerofwords my political FB group has started. If you don't mind, I will share a few here in honor of Black History Month (February).  I promise to rest up and come back with a post in my own words very soon.








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In case you missed Joe Kennedy deliver the Democratic response to Trump's 2018 State of the Union speech, here it is.   My favorite part?  "If that wall is built, my generation will tear it down."  


Watch: Rep. Joe Kennedy delivers the Democratic response to the 2018 State of the Union - YouTube

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I remember a nurse who made a difference in my life. She went that extra mile because she cared, she loved her work, and she was intellectually curious about it.

Once upon a time, I was in hospital for a surgical procedure. At first I was sick from the morphine; however, the nausea and headache didn't stop when the morphine did. I could not get up to shuffle down the hall with my I.V. bag hooked to a walker like the other patients on my floor. I could not keep anything down. I had an excruciating headache. I saw stars. I was not thriving. The nurses were distraught, and I got the distinct feeling they were annoyed that I wasn't getting better.

Because I was in the hospital so long with nothing to do, I eavesdropped on the nurse conversations in the hallway. They gossiped, bitched, moaned and laughed. They didn't realize patients could hear them and I sure wasn't going to tell them! It was better than a soap opera.

They made fun of one nurse for being over-the-hill and old fashioned. I had not yet met her when she walked into my room on day three and introduced herself. She looked old enough to be my mother, and I NEEDED a mother! She placed her hand on my shoulder, bent down to me and said quietly but firmly, "You've been real sick, honey. Now we're going to get you well." 

I'm not sure if it was the non-invasive touch, or her words of hope that moved me so completely. Or maybe it was the reassuring gray hair and the deep laugh lines? Anyway, I cried like a baby. I knew the worst was over and, like Mighty Mouse, Hero Nurse had come to save the day.

She went out and brought my anesthesiologist back with her. Like Hero Nurse, he had a passion for helping people. Also like Hero Nurse, he thought outside of that stupid, damn box. He asked if I was a heavy coffee drinker? I replied I was, but was unable to drink it since the surgery. He diagnosed me with caffeine withdrawal. He hooked my I.V. up to a liter of caffeinated fluid and had me drink cans of Coke. Within a few hours, I was well. 

Ostensibly, the reason for this story was Hero Nurse. However, I DO want credit for having mainlined caffeine. Many fantasize, but few actually do it.
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I know these devils creep many of you out; however, they fascinate me. During this excursion, we only saw 9 alligators at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, from the safety of our car. The most we have seen on this beautiful 2 hour (very slow) drive was 36. These were taken with my super duper long range, zoom lens, and then cropped. Don't be afraid!

This was far from me, I zoomed and cropped like crazy for this closeup




This was a fat one!  They are all unique


















The drive was closed in late September because of extensive damage from Hurricane Irma, and it was only reopened on Christmas Eve. With all the development in Central Florida, this (and the state parks) are some of the only wild places left where you can see the real Florida, in all her swampy, brutal, primordial glory.
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We had company last weekend, and took them on the "alligator safari" on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  Here are some highlights from that drive.  The alligators will have to wait for another post.

First a great egret passing the time in a rather graceful manner:

























Next a few great blue heron pictures:



In her nest - so great...









































And a red shouldered hawk (I think)




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I am in love with martini glasses and I'm not ashamed to admit it. If they weren't so small, I would drink every liquid I consume out of one. I could use a bigger one, but the small martini glasses are the ones that I admire. Visually, they are nearly perfect. They are elegant to hold, easy to sip from, and make me feel like I am misbehaving. That's always a great feeling, right? Trust me when I say it is especially potent after one has reached a certain age. 

Actually, I like all bar glasses and tools. I once owned a vintage glass shaker that one of my sisters bought for me at an antique store. It was the embodiment of 1950's cool. The glass shaker had measurements marked off in red and black. It was topped by a battered metal top and required a separate strainer to pour the cocktail through into the glass. Of course, I broke it. Now I use a stainless steel shaker that I also love.  I won't break this one. 


Yeah, I drink pink, girly drinks.  So what?

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I dislike talking on a phone. My working years were filled with jobs where I had to use a phone on a regular basis. I adjusted, I endured, but I never got over my aversion to picking up that "thing" when it screams noise at me and I do not know who is on the other end.

The worst is actually initiating a call. I really have to force myself to do that. Left to my own devices, I won't.

We had a landline the first 2 years we retired; however, Central Florida is a wild and woolly place. The number of strange calls one receives on a landline during the day is alarming. Especially when the bad guys figure out you are retired. They want your money, and they are willing to nag and negotiate all day, every day, to trick you out of it. Even if I didn't pick up, I could still hear the rings and messages. I finally blew up and had it disconnected.

Now I use my cell phone. I hate talking on that even more than a landline because I figure it will give me a brain tumor. Plus, you can't tuck a smartphone between your ear and shoulder to talk. You have to hold it, and you have to hold it for a long time. Consequently, you are complicit in giving yourself a brain tumor.

Actually, I rarely answer my phone or check my messages. Dodging a phone call is both liberating and delightfully perverse. Good times!

I am happy to make arrangements to chat with loved ones. Family and friends have learned to text me first to let me know when they will call. With advance warning I WILL pick up the phone, although I have to find it first.




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