Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Flowering Florida

It is 12/12/12 and the maximum twelves have already disappeared from my calendars 
without any inconvenience.

In appreciation: summer scenes from my back yard.


"To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees."
~  Paul ValĂ©ry

~ ~ ~ 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Good Neighbor Wall

     It is December in Florida 

and signs of the season are hanging brightly on the fence between me and my good neighbors to the north. Arnas, Holly, precious baby Lexi and a tribe of dogs live on the other side of the vine-covered fence that stands between us.

Virginia Creeper (parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a gorgeous, climbing vine which is native to much of the eastern United States. It also enhances the neighborliness of the sixty year old wooden fence on the north side of our house.

"Thank goodness for the vine" some people say because it seems to be holding the fence in its present vertical position. "Thank goodness for Virginia," I say as I pull out my iPhone camera, "because she blesses my eyes and soothes my mind."

When Virginia Creepers' small green flowers mature in the fall season, they turn into purplish-black berries which are toxic to humans (oxalic acid)  but provide food for wintering birds.  A variety of colorful, musical birds appreciate Virginia's bounty also; mocking birds, cardinals and blue jays feast here.

The weather is a bit warmer than normal this year and not all of Virginia's berries have matured yet.  Many berries remain green, round and hard as they progress toward an edible food source for birds. The dryness of the summer has also enabled other vegetative species to join in this good neighbor wall.

No matter where I look along the northern fence line I see an incredible, edible display of natural color, shapes and textures. Yes, life is good. And I agree that a beautiful wall makes this good neighbor happy. 

~ ~ ~

Friday, November 30, 2012

On The Thingness of Space

     I've been working in my old home-office for the past few days.  In spite of the junk issues with this space, it feels good sitting here at this old computer     

     Cleaning off my old computer desk and side table, I found abandoned notes made several years ago while cleaning out the houses of people who had died without heirs.

     One should not be surprised by what they see or smell or hear while working alone in the thingness of a house whose people have passed, never to return.

Today I resuscitate and probate three of these scenes, with voices, below.


A man falls heir to a collection of hats.
He picks through a dozen of them and
finds two that fit his head 
in a style
most becoming.


The public radio news assails him for getting fat.
His nose hairs are attracting too much attention.

The man has trouble sleeping when
someone sends him a cruciform butt plug.

He has stopped shaving his face in the morning.
He is becoming one of the hairy gray old ones.


Today he is a black crow
spotting shiny objects
in the wake of someone's being.

Eyes brighten and fingers grasp like claws
at scissors and hats and colored glass things,
small objects that make him feel good.

~ ~ ~

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween in Two Parts


The Costume Party: October 27, 2012
On the Saturday evening before Halloween, as Hurricane Sandy was rambling up the east coast of Florida toward New York and New Jersey, Pam and I hosted a Costume Party in Sarasota, Florida.  

Front door scare crow

Party night was windy enough (gusts of 40 - 60 mph) to keep the scare crow's hat tipping into his face. But, otherwise, the east coast hurricane offered few minor problems for us wind-wise 
southwestern Floridians.

Our handsomely attired guests arrived promptly .

Not all guests tendered simple questions.

But soon enough, as often happens in Florida, 
all questions were forgotten and the fun began.

That's when Mr. Everything's Hot Red Pepper
 grabbed a couple of beauties.

Our sober young chaperone seemed amused
 by the buffooneries of average senior citizens.

Some of us ate like we were in Paradise. Others ate not.

God knows how we enjoyed munching the finest of finger foods

 Until certain guests began begging for
 a second scoop of kitty litter cake

with party graces strained
or bombed
bed time came early...
earlier than usual 
here in Florida.

And our guests departed. 
And everybody got home safely.

All Hallows Evening: October 31, 2012
We don't see many young Trick and Treaters celebrating Halloween in this neighborhood of southwestern Florida. We received a scant 9 kids at our front door begging for treats, see all 9 below. 

Our Halloween Party costumery got me thinking about our personal Halloween differences; about how we have seen ourselves through the years, how we chose how to project ourselves into and through this world, and how we might possibly be seen by a world of others

I'd guess you can assess Halloween based on numerous childhood experiences. You may recall the insane delight/disappointment of returning home with pillow cases full/empty of candy. Or maybe your memories come from such thrills as soaping windows or lighting stink bombs on front steps? Or perhaps you think first of that special Halloween costume you chose to wear.

Do you still favor that special appearance? Do you still get more than you give?

But, costume wise and otherwise, just look here at some differences in presentation and decorum 
a few years of accumulated Halloweens can make here in Florida! 

Our precious young neighbors!
~ ~ ~

Friday, October 26, 2012

Big Gifts in Small Packages

I've been ignoring this blog for too long. But now that Fall has arrived in Florida (a good motivating excuse?) I must reapply myself to the posting of those small, everyday things that give me pleasure and revive a sense of appreciation for being here, alive, on planet Earth.

Some days you have to rely on old friends to motivate you. This is one of those days and Poppi Poppadum is one of those motivators today. She is my big gift in a small package.

When I look at, listen to, talk to, stroke and feed my feline friend, Poppi, I am reminded that she is a Gift. Poppi was literally a gift from neighbors (who we value dearly as kindred spirits despite the fact that they left us here in the States and returned to England ; ^ )

Poppi becomes a very vocal gift when I hear her crying for her doorman to let her into the house in the early morning. She moves my lazy butt out of bed and in her direction because we are dear friends and she is always hungry for something. We always start the day together with a gift of greeting.

Poppi is a gift to all neighbors in our fruit-tree-laden neighborhood; she is a huntress who has controlled the fruit tree rat population here quite well. She prefers to spend her nights, like other nocturnal felines, climbing trees and scouring storm drains for rats. Fewer winter attics around here rustle with the noise of nesting creatures these days.

Of course she has brought home several birds and a baby squirrel, but all of these creatures arrived via soft mouth and were returned alive to our neighborhood. Only lizards and rats fail to escape her attentions. She continually reminds me of the natural order of life and death in this universe we occupy together, a gift least I forget who I am and what I am doing here. 

Poppi is a gift in that she beautifies the yard and the interior of this house when she appears. A Bengal breed, supposedly 4 generations removed from a tiger and a domestic cat, she was judged not to be pretty enough for cat shows. HA! My good fortune! My gift of beauty and affection.

Ancient Egyptians reportedly believed that Cats were the guardians of the Soul. If she is not a guardian of my soul, she must be a guardian of my body. This I do believe, particularly since Poppi has been uncharacteristically attentive to my lap lately, settling in while I am drawing. And when she climbs onto the bed and settles between my legs I definitely get the feeling that she is prescient and concerned for me. The recent diagnosis of my prostate cancer only confirms my belief that Poppi is a concerned guardian and a Gift.

~ ~ ~

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Pam and Gerry Zeck are pleased to announce:
We will have multiple pieces of fabric art and photos on exhibit 
at the Manatee Art Center in Bradenton, Florida.

Opening Reception

Thursday, October 4, 2012
 5 to 7 pm

We hope you can make it.

If you cannot attend the Opening,
do not despair; the Exhibit will remain up from

October 2 through the 26th, 2012.

Manatee Art Center
 209 9th Street West
Bradenton, Florida 34205


 ~ ~ ~ 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

At home with Isaac

Tropical Storm Isaac passed my Florida home without too much disruption. The storm brought a few inches of rain and gusting winds that cleared some dead branches out of our hundred year oaks.

In our front yard, tree squirrels and a nest of mocking birds were inconvenienced and had to cope with Isaac's gusting into warm rain squalls. Birds flew away to hunker down in thick bougainvillea or in low spots near the inner banks of the creek. The squirrels spent much of the night and day huddling on the lee ward side of the tree.

As usual, during the passing of hurricanes, 
rain came in bands of showers attended by gusting winds.

A huge storm, Isaac intensified into a Hurricane picking up a gazillion more tons of water in the Gulf than fell here in Sarasota. So, again we were spared and Isaac's additional rain will help refill our reservoir in the celery fields.

But hurricanes have always been kind to us in Southwestern Florida.

Tropical storms that slip past Cuba tend to travel north- and northwest-ward on their way to the northern Gulf Coast visiting the Panhandle of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans. They very, very seldom turn back into SouthWestern Florida.

Isaac, it will be said, did not do too much to promote the local economy. A few batteries were sold, a few popcorn poppers went to the preparation conscious and a rush on at-home movie rentals occurred before the strongest winds appeared.


Peering out the kitchen window during the height of the storm, I spied a wonderful tea in the brewing: numerous natural blessings from Isaac were floating in the pool.

Here were gorgeous bamboo leaves, delicate vinca or periwinkles,  dead leaves from the young orange treea few drowned bees who rarely fare well in pools, miscellaneous bugs, vegetable fibers and a small raft of dead ants. The pictorial collage presented by Isaac seemed endless.

A few of the visual blessings wrought by Isaac.


Yes, how fortunate I am to be living here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Isaac Effect

When I walked out of the house this morning I could feel Florida getting moister in a soft, subtle way. 

Even the front bumper of my car could sense the impending arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac.

Isaac is on his way. Tomorrow Isaac will be moving through the Caribbean Islands and heading North  to arouse mobile Jimmy Buffett fans as well as much of Key West .

Then, passing through an expanse of alligator wallows and small towns settled by dry Texans with cactuses, Isaac will bring us a number of blessings: I call these blessings "The Isaac Effect".

First blessing. There has been a drought in Florida for seven or eight years. Our sand needs water. Isaac will bring water, possibly lots of it. So we begin to prepare for the arrival of more moisture.

Second blessing. We haven't had a good blow in western Florida for a number of years. Palm trees need cleaning and a strong, persistent wind can do the job. Also, my hundred year oak is filled with small dead branches and my arthritis is too raw to climb and clean these days. Isaac can do it for me.

Third blessing. Our beaches will change their profiles. Some people who should not have built on the Gulf of Mexico coast line will receive messages as to why. Other desiccated residents will rush to the beach, wade through the water, timidly surf the waves, take photographs, scream into the wind, and enjoy the sheer exhilaration of remaining on their feet in the face of such power.

Fourth blessing. Isaac will bring increased business to our depressed economy. Things will fly and things will break. Roofs will leak. Trees will fall. Repairs will be needed. Insurance people will cough up minimal amounts of money before they raise premiums again.

I'm preparing my cameras for the beach now.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Metamorphosis 2012

A few years ago
I felt a nudging from change
so I dug a hole in my back yard
filled it with water
and added
a few gold fish

the tiny goldies grew
to a remarkable size 
they didn't stick around for long
since neighborhood raccoons
love fish too

So I left the pond to Nature
wouldn't you know
almost overnight 
a thousand tadpoles

I love tadpoles like
kids love transformers
like I love 

Tadpoles are like plaster saints to me

of possibilities
that come along
with being human
like jumping with joy
naked vulnerability

A view through the papyrus

Today my frog pond is bursting
with little jumpers
hundreds of baby frogs
venturing forth
into the incredible and
the edible world 

Setting aside
the thought that
some thing or some one
in this world
will eventually
eat you

Amphibians lounging in Papyrus.

The miracle of
glues me here
at the edge of the pond
where the flavors of life
begin anew

We are a far cry
from the Nile Delta
where papyrus
recorded thoughts
yet Change continues
in the decline of paper

So today I salute
another metamorphosis
wherein the electronic age
brings words and pictures
from my pond
to your monitor.