I must have that  Lucy Van Pelt look that invites people to stop and engage me in inquiry or conversation.

Most of the time when this happens, I have no prior knowledge of the person or circumstances involved. But often, after just a few words, people seek my advice, rely on my counsel or alter the course of their lives based on our discussion.

Like the woman who confessed to me on a flight from New York to St. Louis that she was going to Dallas to marry a man she did not care for. When I asked her why, she poured out her story of woe. I told her if she had such reservations, she should reconsider this life changing event.

Apparently, she took my advice. After we landed in St. Louis, she boarded a plane back to New York.

Sometimes however, people disregard my advice and seem downright offended.

Just the other day a woman stopped me at the mall (well, I was not actually in the mall as is my policy, just on the outskirts, walking with Sydney and Kate.)

This woman was clearly in a big rush as she interupted our conversation and demanded directions to a local restaurant. Since I knew where it was, I told her just go down the escalator and turn left. She looked at me somewhat annoyed and further demanded to know where the elevator was!

When I confessed I did not know,  she mumbled something under her breath, abruptly turned and left in what appeared to be a major huff.

“You’re welcome.” I said. There is just no pleasing some folks.

Then this morning I stopped to get gas.

As I was walking around to the pump a man stood at the adjacent pump,  just staring at me. I was beginning to get uncomfortable, so I acknowledged him with a nod and started to fill my tank.
“Going to be another hot one”, he offered.
I responded by saying, “Oh, I don’t think it will get over 104 today.”

Ignoring my attempt at hot humor, he continued,

“Well I just gassed up.  We are going to the mountains in Colorado. I don’t really want to go but my wife insists we go.

I want to go to Germany. but my wife says she does not want to see old stuff.”

“Well, there is old ‘stuff’ in Germany, and Colorado is new”, I agreed,  wondering where this conversation was headed.
“Yeah, I  want to go to Germany and buy a car there.” the man continued.
Deciding to push my luck,  I said,

” Well, it seems to me that you’re going to Colorado to please your wife, maybe she should go to Germany with you.”
“Oh, she won’t do that. ”

“Well, then go without her.” I suggested.
“I don’t think that would be possible”,  he said with a little fear in his voice.
“Get a backbone and go to Germany!” I  advised him as I got into my car…” and have a nice day!”


rain or shine

July 24, 2012

It is easy to get beaten down and depressed when for days and weeks the temperature soars and heaven’s eye is ever-present with its searing heat.

The current drought in the midwest is causing many to wonder if it will ever rain again. Perhaps this is part of some new Exodus and the plagues of the midwest are upon us.

Fortunately, in 21 century America, we have the ability to know and see what is happening just a few hundred miles away. We can even travel to better weather in a couple of hours if we wanted to see for ourselves that this drought has not taken over the world, even as it remains hellishly hot in the midwest.

In southwest Florida, for example, the summer rainy season has arrived and with the precision of a Swiss watch, clouds gather and the rains arrive nearly everyday about 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  The storms last for an hour or so, refreshing the flora and cooling the earth.  We have been getting about 3-4 inches a week.

Oh, what a superhero I would be,  if I could only provide some of that rain to the farmers of the midwest.

Since tropical storm Debby broke Florida’s dry spell in June, we have had more that ample rain and the orange and vegetable crops have benefitted.

Here the oranges are are almost the size of tennis balls and hang like bunches of grapes. They will ripen and turn orange in November.

The rains have also brought relief and comfort to the cows adjacent to my orange grove.

Here is one old girl up to her shoulders in a pond that just did not exist a month ago. She is ruminating on the tender aquatic plants while the cooling water helps keep the annoying mosquitos and deer flies at bay.

Happy Oranges, Happy Cows…Happy times in Florida.

Independence Day, 2012

July 3, 2012

Happy Birthday America!

You are 236 years old today. At 64 years myself, I have been with you for over a quarter of your life and I am pleased to see we are both still going.

I know in the past, we celebrated together with picnics and firework displays, but I am cutting back this year.

Dr. Zorro tells me not to eat a lot of hot dogs and the drought is too bad to mess with fireworks, so as I sometimes do, I think I will have a Water Mitty moment this 4th of July.

Just imagine George Washington, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson arriving at my front door, having been transported by some magical time machine from the eighteenth century to the present.

After the amazement of me seeing them and they seeing me subsides, I invite them in. It is 95 degrees outside so they are delighted to experience the air-conditioned comfort of the house as they enjoy a cool beverage from the refrigerator.

Following a brief catch up of the last 200 years or so, I back the car out of the garage and take them for a ride. First to the mall for some new duds. (I usually avoid the mall, but this is a special occasion!) Those triangle hats and worn buck skin pants need to be replaced with something a little more comfortable. Along the way we pick up some iPhones at the Apple store.

Then it is off to the family eye care center for a new pair of bi focal contacts for Ben. He likes them. After that a quick trip to the dentist to replace George’s wooden teeth with some shiny new titanium implants. Now he can smile for his portrait!

While riding, all three guests enjoy playing with the car’s GPS and satellite radio… as well as their new iPhones.

After pulling a few strings, I secure a Gulfstream 5 and we take off to see America.  The wonder in their eyes is magical as they try to take in all that is America at 35,000 feet. Both George and Tom are embarrassed to see all the fuss made over them with Mount Rushmore and the monuments in Washington, DC. Ben seems pleased with his Philadelphia remembrance statues. He is especially fond of the one of him sitting on the bench. He says it makes him look devilishly mischievous. Everybody was awe-struck by the Grand Canyon.

Later, all three of these great men are saddened by the urban blight and decay they observe in America’s cities. They seem genuinely distressed at the lack of civility and common courtesy they witness.

Ben is especially distressed at the lack of emphasis on math and science learning for the country’s youth.  Tom is shocked at the size of the Government and its far-reaching intrusion into citizens’ personal liberties. And George is unhappy with how the country’s politicians are treated as royalty compared with the ordinary citizen.

Arriving back home the three come up with a plan to fix America’s problems and set it on a new path for the next 236 years.

I poured them each a glass of Sam Adams ale and we settled in the living room. Just as Ben started to speak, fireworks exploded and the sky lit up. We all looked out to see the rockets red glare.

When I turned back to look at my guests… they were gone. Their glasses of ale untouched.

Searus Maximus

July 1, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor, Rick,  the nurseryman accross the lane, dropped off a half a dozen flats of flowers.

He said, ” Put these in your front beds, they will add some color.”
Trying to sound appreciative, I countered,”Rick, I can’t take care of what I have!”
“Have your guys put them in, they will be fine.”
Well, Fabiel and Paco put the flora in the next day and things seemed, “fine.”
Then the heat from hell hit and every bit of hell did indeed break loose.
Strong searing heat moved in, and for the last week, temperatures have been in excess of 100 degrees each day.
OK, so now, I am running water like a madman. Not even Goethe’s sorcerer’s apprentice could keep up with these plants thirsty demands. In addition, some of my young dogwoods with shallow roots are beginning to look piqued and even birds are dropping from the sky… too hot to stay that close to the sun, I guess.

Assisting the perfect fire storm, a couple of irrigation zones gave up and we had to drag out the hoses and drag and drag.

Now you could ask, why bother? Just let nature have her way. It is after all summer.
The trouble with that is Rick rides by everyday and sees the plants in my garden. The same plants he grew from seeds.

I can’t let these children of Rick wither and die while he watches.
Just drag the hose and pray for rain.


Even the vegetable garden residents seem happy to come inside out of the heat.