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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


What happened to SPRING? The wind is blowing, an osprey or bald eagle is hunkered down in an old nest in a cypress snag across the water, the creek has receded and look pretty normal - though the watermarks are still visible. The ground is still damp and holding water in some places. The ponds are full, thank goodness, but it's cold out this morning. I set my tender plants out two days ago in warm sunshine. I wanted to take a paddle and check out the new dam or lodge the beavers had begun up the creek. But it's too darned cold. (Like ROFL, do you know what FMAO means?)

Redbuds tell me the other side of the story. The photo here was taken minutes ago in the wind.
They know so much more than we arrogant humans!

I'll put together a little slideshow to show you the "flood". No flooding here. I believe I am at the dizzying elevation of 14'. No wonder I get lightheaded on a stepladder. I've lived the life of a flatlander too long.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

For the naturalist...

I'm spending Sunday morning, February 23, doing research for an article on fungi. "We" in NW Florida have just experienced the Flood of 2008. With rain and rot comes fungi to help decompose plant and animal matter to nutrients and return the host to the soil. I just found the most amazing site. Here it is:

It is easy to navigate. But please, unless you are absolutely educated on the gathering of mushrooms, do NOT ingest them. Cooking won't help you if you have eaten a poisonous mushroom.

Further down on the home page, I found Pamela's Mushrooms, another terrific site. Pay attention to the large icon she uses for poisonous mushrooms. She's not kidding, and neither am I.

That said, I'm going back to my article, which I'm writing for JPG Magazine.

My father often told me the story of the family he knew who gathered mushrooms on Staten Island, as they did at home in Italy. They gathered their last when some poisonous mushrooms got into their basket and killed the whole family. Don't know if they used Cousin Anthony's method below - no one was left to ask!

Here's a note from my paisan (or, as good as a relation) Anthony, from his childhood. His grandparents and mine were friends from the old country, and found their way to Staten Island together. One sponsored the other, I think. But anyway, here's what he remembers:

For the mushrooms, I remember my father and mother putting a silver coin in the frying pan with ''picked mushrooms'' from the woods on Staten Island. If the coin turned black it was poisoned and discarded. Our olden days were ''teachers''.

Incidentally, I got some good photos this morning, including an Anhinga in one of my favorite trees. I'm getting closer to the perfect shot of those rascals.

The creeks and canals are inundated. And so are some of the waterside yards. Whoever was responsible for releasing the water from the Deer Point dam was asleep. We almost lost the dam because of it. A new post with a slideshow will be posted sometime this week.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Photography Links

How many of you have grown up with National Geographic Magazine? You might get a kick start from this link when you're out with your camera. Don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter.

In a similar vein, but maybe a little unusual, is my FAVORITE bad boy chef's blog from the Travel Channel - Anthony Bourdain.

Some favorite videos from YouTube.

This one's for my daughter-in-law who loves dolphins.

I raised and rehabilitated ravens in the California desert. Here's a raven from England who talks!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A couple of neat writing links,

and an introduction to some interesting writers.

First, here's the link I just found. Freelance writing for many of us is a hit or miss effort in a terribly competitive field. Every link helps.

The poetry site I love the best is Coffee Press Journal. You can browse the current issue at -

Dan Case's "Writing for Dollars" site with good links for freelance work -

Angela Hoy's website offers a newsletter, a POD service called Booklocker, her blog, publications, etc. Good site - I've found it useful many times.

Invaluable to any writer of any genre is the site, Preditors and Editors. Before you submit, check out the publication, publisher or editor through this site. This is a must-use site for any writer.

New Pages has a nice selection of markets - literary magazines, reviews, and other news for writers and poets. There's a nice clickable link on the magazine icons that brings you information like submission guidelines - always dear to the writer's heart!

The Write List is full of information and writing jobs. You need to subscribe to it for rounding out your freelance work.

Writers Chatroom is fun. I've participated a few times, mainly on the topic of POD. You'll like it , too.

I'll be listing more, so check back.

Recently I've had the pleasure of "meeting" several authors whose work I really enjoyed through Amazon Shorts. I've reviewed one piece of their work each. You can find them at and they have kindly reciprocated with reviews for one of my shorts, "Paradise".

If you need a review for your work, please contact me by leaving a comment.
You can view all of mine on

Allyn Evans -

Carolyn Howard-Johnson -

Kathe Gogolewski -

Judith W. Colombo -

Chris Meeks -

That infernal racket you're hearing...

Which is the musical accompaniment to the butterfly and wildflower slideshows, can be shut off
by clicking on the little speaker at the bottom of each. You hear them once - that's ok. But
constant noise - NO WAY!

So, though I've tried to make them both entertaining, you may not like it. I was quite proud of myself, actually.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

February 12, 2008. I told you Spring is nearly here!

Been out paddling a few times lately, and the creek banks are coming to life. See? Winter is just a period of well needed rest for the earth. I never think of winter as a time of death; just a time of
renewal. We all need to sleep in one way or another, and when you think of earth as a living thing - the soil is alive, under our feet, the lava boils. Life, action, mysteries.

The trees are beginning to bud and flower. Aquatic plants are reaching for the sunlight. I saw two waterlilies in bloom today. Egrets in pairs, signs of a new beaver dam being built, Coots - too many to count, wood ducks in pairs flying. Wasps, I found, inhabit a huge cypress snag - it stands tall and straight...and full of wasps! Tiny little turtles come to sun on exposed stumps. Carolina jessamine vines are beginning to flower.

A swallowtail butterfly fluttered through the yard. Robins have eaten the pyracantha berries.

The Four and Twenty Club are here again. They are a huge mixed flock of visiting Redwing Blackbirds, Common blackbirds and grackles who raid my squirrel and bird feeders. It's ok with me. I love to hear them.

Wait a minute. Did I say, "butterflies" here? If I get it right, there will be another album of butterflies and moths common to this area. Most are on native wildflowers. Can you tell me which are which? Of course you can! They're labeled! There are a couple that are unique because they are visitors or rarely seen here. The Harvester is the only butterfly with a carnivorous caterpillar. Some are camouflaged with eyespots; bright colors ward away predators as unhealthy to eat. Our butterfly season starts in August and runs through the last of October. By November, the migrant stragglers stop off for nectar but the migrations are over, for the most part.

I love my butterflies, and I encourage everyone to leave a spot in the garden for the weeds and wildflowers. And that is the purpose for this slideshow. All the plants are natives. (Weeds are wildflowers, too.) As I correct this entry, it is February 15. The redbud is full of tightly closed buds, but showing pink, anyway. Just an update!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Reflections on the shot that got away...

can be found in the Stories section of JPG magazine. Please click on the link.