Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"I think I'll go kill someone with my car..."

Deciding to
Kill with Your Car

“I think I’ll go out and kill someone with my car.” ~ Said by no drunk driver ever . . . before they got behind the wheel and did just that. Most of them probably said some variation of, “I’m okay to drive.”
Tears filling the empty places of lost loved ones and names etched on cemetery stones are a heart-rending indication that, no, it was not okay to drive.

                                             * * * * *

Drunk drivers killed 9,878 people in 2011, according to data released on December 10, 2012, by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Every day, an alcohol-impaired driver kills almost 30 people in the United States in motor vehicle crashes. That’s one death every 48 minutes.

A Bit of the Boy Remains in the Man

A Bit of the Boy
Remains in the Man
The Loveliest Flower of Them All
He braved the waterlogged, weed-choked ditch
to present me the most precious gift.

Hundreds of flowers fill my yard. Some are exotic, like the orchids I tend with care. Others are native to Florida and provide food for butterflies and bees. Some are seasonal, and I anticipate their buds and blooms with each calendar change. Still others might be considered ordinary, those annual garden staples that nonetheless smile at me with their petals, scent, and upturned, colorful faces.
Yesterday, I received the gift of the loveliest flower of them all. While walking the dogs, my son braved the waterlogged, likely mosquito-larvae-choked ditch on our semi-rural road and picked the most precious flower to present to me. He’s 20, but when he handed the flower to me, part of his eyes and soul reflected the boy he once was.
Today, the petals are wilted and the color faded, but what remains is the sweet, tender love of a boy who is now a young man.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

You've Got to Hide Your Time Away

Hiding Time
Sometimes, You’ve Got to
Hide Your Time Away 

I wish it were possible to go an entire day without noting the time, but a 30-minute stretch is a beginning.

Time, time, time. Do I have enough time? What time is it? Where did the time go? Will I be on time? What’s the time? Where is the time? Will you bide your time? Ain’t nobody got time.
Yeah, yeah, we’ve each got the same 24 hours each day. We’re admonished to use it or lose it. Used time and lost time.
Time is everywhere. From where I sit, I see it in three places: my monitor, my phone, and my wrist. Too often it rules me, as it does everyone. My first waking moment has me peering at the clock across my room. What time is it? It it time to get up? If it’s not the right time, then do I have time to go back to sleep?
However, when time starting ruling my exercise, I knew it was time to add an additional move to my routine. I know my workout takes about 30 minutes of time. But rather than just exercise, I found myself glancing at the time. What time is it? Do I really have the time to exercise today? What time will I be done? Will that be in time to write, to work, to start my day at a reasonable time? How much more time do I have to sweat and lift and stretch and work those abdominals until I’m done this time?
I knew I had time to work out. I also knew from the stage of the routine about how much time remained. Nonetheless, I continued to check the time, until I decided to hide the time.
It’s not a complicated move; I slid the Hungarian tapestry from the top of the clock to cover the numbers. Each day before I start exercising, I slide the tapestry down to hide my time. For these 30 minutes each day, I use my time, not question my time nor bide my time. It was necessary, but helpful, to just hide the time.

                                               * * * * *

In what ways can I/we take the time to hide our time away?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Flinging Fritillary, Funk, Fungus, and Frogs

Flappy Friday Foibles
Flinging Fritillary,
Funk, Fungus, and Frogs

Flubs, Funnies, and Flailing Through the Week
. . . and Flowers

Friday, oh Friday! Fritillary, fungus, frogs, and flowers. Friday in Florida is funky because folks in the Central and South areas of the state are feeling the effects of little sun, too much rain, and fungus taking over our flowers and other flora. Flappy Friday has arrived and I’m ready to note the previous week’s flappiness. Fortunately, I didn’t flap far or frequently this past week.

Fritillary caterpillars are feasting on my passionflowers. They stripped one and are focused on stripping another. My anti-Fritillary move is to use this dandelion-digging tool to fling them far away. It’s a fine maneuver, but the next time I fling a caterpillar onto my shin, I will not mindlessly flap and smash the caterpillar/my shin using said tool.

Frogs, oh frogs! These guys play acrobat on my patio all night long. I’m grateful for their feasting on various bug life, but I wish they were less flappy and didn’t break so many plants.

Fungus is thriving in Florida’s high humidity and tropical rains. I’m taking a laissez-faire approach toward the algae creeping across the patio. It’s a rather appealing shade of green. The zinnias thrive in spite of their spotted leaves, which are easily trimmed for indoor bouquets. The basil is only a few inches tall and the mold is chasing its leaves. Fortunately, the cilantro remains green.

Fritillary flicking my shin isn’t quite enough to fulfill my commitment to sharing flappiness for the week. Fortunately, I have an example from an earlier week. Just because something fits into the washing machine doesn’t necessarily mean it is washable. This once-fine rug was flung—into the trash.

Friday flowers again ease the funk of this week’s foul weather and isolated bouts of flappiness. Here’s to another week of not knocking over the vase.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Mind-Less Monday, High-Volume Love Songs, and Baby Bananas

Just Listen
A Memory of a
High Volume Love Song
On Mind-Less Monday 

On this Mind-Less Monday, I am grateful for my choice to mind less one day last week. The white car pulled into the gas station pumping lane next to me. Music blasted from the car door the young black driver left open when he went inside the convenience store.
“Ugh,” I thought. “Now I have to listen to his loud music while my son pumps the gas.” I started to close the car windows, but noted that the song was no angry rap with bass booming. Instead, I was caught by the love song’s lilting, lovely melody. I left the windows down and gently swayed to the rhythm, minding the volume less and less.
I caught a glimpse of another customer heading to the convenience store, an angry look on his face as he looked toward the music. When the young black man walked toward his car, our eyes met and I smiled at him. He beamed. I continued to listen, and when the song ended, I got out of the car and walked toward him. My son looked at me and said, “Don’t!” I shook my head at him, ignored him, and walked toward the driver of the white car. He looked at me, puzzled. I leaned toward his ear (because another song had started) and said, “Thank you for this beautiful song. It reminds me of someone special.” His smile radiated. I went back to my car, got in, and continued smiling.
When he finished pumping the gas, my son got in the car and looked at me. “Huh?” he asked. “I’ll tell you later,” I said. When I did, my son smiled, too.
Feed me!
Back to the present Monday and what I will mind less. I will mind less that I didn’t edit over the weekend and must put in mega hours this week. Instead, I spent time in my garden and with my family. I traded hours of editing for the joy of feeding my baby granddaughter bananas.

I will mind less that the nonstop rains have brought some fungus, bugs, and uncontrolled growth to my yard. I can’t keep up with the ever-present, ever-growing weeds, but I am grateful that the bamboo loves the moisture and thrives in the heat and rain.

I will continue to mind less those weeds and uncontrolled growth when I delight in the explosion of flowers the rain and sun bring every day—not just Mondays.

I will mind less that I missed the first moonflower bloom last night. Instead, I’m grateful that I went to bed early, slept well, and woke rested and energetic. It helps that the vine has several more buds, so I will dance my senses in the scent of a moonflower another day this week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fabulous Flubs of the Week

Flappy Friday Foibles
Flubs, Funnies, and Flailing Through the Week
. . . and Flowers

Friday, oh Friday. Some weeks you come too soon. Others, not quite soon enough. Flappy Friday is today, being a day in which I note the previous week’s flappiness. Flappiness? Yes, indeed. Flappiness is part of my persona. Loosely defined, to flap means to flutter ineffectively; to beat or pulsate wings or something suggesting wings (that would be my arms, sometimes my legs, and far too often, my brain), to wobble, come undone, or dither.
I don’t know if it’s simply a part of who I am, or if I just flap as a result of not paying attention to my environment, or if I don’t pause long enough to calm those fluttering wings and focus what I’m doing. I know that part of my flappiness stems from my excitement about doing something and not thinking about my next flap, err, step.
Flapping right through the past week . . .

Nachos. I love nachos. What nachos would be complete without salsa? It is, however, important to make certain distinctions just before eating said nachos. For example, reading jar labels helps when eating nachos versus eating pasta. I failed to make that distinction earlier this week. Scraping pasta sauce off nachos can be done.
Why jarred salsa and pasta sauce? I prefer to make my own, but I was sick earlier this week, which brings me to Monday’s flap. I was in bed and not feeling at the top of my game. At such times, it’s important to carefully reach for the Post-it note to mark an important passage in a book. I neglected to do so and spilled an entire cup of coffee with dark chocolate almond milk. Following a brisk cleaning session on my hands and knees, I realized if I had that much energy I was well enough to go to work, which I did.

Fish on Friday takes on a whole new meaning when Friday is fertilizing day. Flappiness rears its head in fine form when I fertilize. Careful as I am, I rarely avoid smelling like I just stepped off a boat after a week of commercial fishing.

Friday flowers ease the funk of the week’s flappiness. Today, I reminded myself to cut some and bring them inside. Now I must pay attention so I don’t knock over the vase.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mind-Less Monday and Ruby-Eyed Frogs

Just Notice
A Ruby-Eyed Frog
Beckons Me
On Mind-Less Monday

On this Mind-Less Monday, I want to mind less that I’m sick and almost every word springing forth from the keyboard must be retyped to fix the misspelling, the typo, the frenzied phrases that spill forth. I write to quench my yearning to do something other than sit in bed, tissues, honeyed hot tea, Cold-Eeze, and a pile of books at my side.
When I ventured outside to look at what’s blooming today, I noted with dismay that the magnolia blossom lasted only three days before its white waves turned brown and despairing. On closer inspection, an unexpected jewel caught my eye. The ruby-eyed frog perched inside the brown curtains looked back at me, and I reminded myself to notice, to mind less that the once-snowy flower is now brown, to pause and find the precious gem perched upon the bloom’s withering glory.
Continuing to mind less that my weekend was spent inside, away from my loved garden, missing friends, family, activities, my eyes were brought to the lavender swirl of the first calla lily to open its face to greet mine.

I am reminded once again that by focusing on what I don’t have—a snow-white magnolia, a weekend being well—I miss what is in front of me—a ruby-eyed frog and a calla lily stretching its arms to show me its amethyst finery.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Little Girl Fell Out of a Tree—July 11, 1985

Time Passes But Love Remains
Twenty-Eight Years Today
Lexie on Captiva Island, Florida, May 1985
Can it possibly be twenty-eight years since Alexa fell out of the tree—a rhetorical question if ever there was one. It can be—it is.
That day—etched into my psyche—like birth, death, Kennedy’s assassination, September 11. Where were you when you heard President Kennedy had been shot? In the cafeteria at Spring Park Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida. Where were you when you heard the Challenger exploded? In my kitchen in Greenacres, Florida. Where were you when you heard that two jets had crashed into the World Trade Center and a third jet crashed into the Pentagon? In my 1998 Subaru Forester on Route 2 in Acton, Massachusetts, listening to NPR. 
Where were you when the babysitter called and said Alexa fell out of the tree? Eating lunch with Ken in my office at the corner of Military Trail and Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was only a few minutes’ drive to Lake Clarke Shores to get Lexie and drive her to the nearest hospital—Doctors in Lake Worth.
Nothing simple like a concussion resulted from her fall. Rather, the fall was the result of a spontaneous bleed (hemorrhage) caused by a malignant tumor pressing against Alexa’s brain.
July 11, 1985, wasn’t the day Alexa was born—March 22, 1979—nor was it the day she died—November 2, 1986—but it was the day that began our journey through her illness until its devastating end.
That journey was marked by fear, by anguish, by a grief no soul should ever experience. That journey also was marked by peace, joy, hope, courage, perseverance, and an acknowledgment and expression of love of which I never knew I was capable of giving or receiving.
It is the remembrance of that courage and that love—both given and received—that has carried me through the last twenty-eight years. On the wings of angels, I was lifted through illness and death and into and through what has become—in spite of anguish and loss—a life marked by a determination to continue to express and carry that love.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stand Your Mango--The New Castle/Mango/Peach/Potato Doctrine

Stand Your Mango
New Florida “Law”—The Mango Doctrine

Stand Your Mango
It’s no accident that while the George Zimmerman trial for shooting Travon Martin festers away in Sanford that I’ve been thinking about the Castle Doctrine. It’s a law in more than half of the states in our country and it is simple: You don’t have to leave your home if said home is being attacked. Florida and other states step a bit past the Castle Doctrine and have the Stand Your Ground, Line in the Sand, or No Duty to Retreat laws. Those laws mean that if you are somewhere you have a right to be and an assailant presents him/herself, neither must you retreat nor do you break the law if it becomes necessary to use deadly force to protect yourself or your property in said place.
I’ve made up my mind regarding how I feel about Zimmerman (he’s guilty of murder), but I haven’t quite made up my mind about just how far the Castle Doctrine should go—and just how far citizens should go when enforcing the law to protect themselves and their property or to suit their own purposes.
A case in point was presented to me on a recent walk to a neighborhood park in Vero Beach. Across the sidewalk, that doctrine question reared a rather ugly aspect of its head. The sign in the front yard was clear: Mangos 4 Sale. The tree wasn’t lush with mangos weighting the branches. Few were even visible. But the property owner made it clear that mangos were for sale. I had no trouble translating the Spanish No and Nada. I figured Toca was a variation on take. In other words: Don’t steal the mangos. If you want one, buy it. The 357 Magnum text (for which I needed no translation) underscored the Don’t Steal the Mangos message and made it perfectly clear that Toca would not be tolerated.
I don’t know much about guns, but I gather that a 357 Magnum is a powerful weapon. I’m clear that it’s powerful enough to kill someone. And that’s where I have a problem with this property owner’s Stand Your Mango Law, or what I call the Mango Doctrine. I know about growing fruit and vegetables and flowers. I’ve been doing it for years and became a master gardener in Massachusetts. I understand the frustration a grower feels during that early-morning garden check when it’s obvious that the deer have once again eaten half of what I’ve planted. I understand that anger when I see a once ready-to-bloom sunflower minus the top eight inches of the plant. I no longer feel the “Oh, look that the pretty deer” sentiment when I see them frolicking in a field. All I think about is the incredible amount of damage they can do to a garden, a field, a backyard. I also think about the carnage they inflict on the highways when they blast in front of a car that doesn’t have enough time to stop before dashboard meets deer. But not once have I felt the need to pick up a gun to solve the deer problem.
Instead, I had males mark my garden territory. I left my dogs out as long as possible at night during the growing season. I wished for a fence—a tall, sturdy fence. When none of the above worked, and because I wasn’t desperate to feed my family with my garden, I left the deer alone and bought my seasonal veggies at a farmer’s market. Should I decide to garden again for food, I will build a fence, because even my meager attempts at a food garden in Florida have been digested by other creatures in the night.
I don’t like my gardening efforts stolen or otherwise taken, but I believe a 357 Mango Magnum (or even the threat of one) is extreme. I cannot imagine that a mango is worth any human life. If a mango is worth a life, then I imagine Florida could add several new laws to its Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground Law: Stand Your Mango, Stand Your Orange, Stand Your Grapefruit, Stand Your Tangerine, Stand Your Strawberry. Other states could follow suit: Georgia—Stand Your Peach; Washington State—Stand Your Apple; Vermont—Stand Your Maple; Maine—Stand Your Lobster; New Jersey—Stand Your Tomato; Louisiana: Stand Your McIlhenny Tabasco Sauce; California—Stand Your Carrot; IdahoStand Your Potato. The only way such violent aspects of such proposed laws would end is when a life ends. The existing laws have merit, indeed, and I’m for protecting my home and myself, whether within or without my castle. But that protection extends to the walls and to my personal space. If someone wants a mango of mine enough to steal it, they can have it.