Saturday, January 30, 2010


Most Blog writers create pseudonyms for their family members.  I thought I would do the same, especially since it isn't fair that people they don't know read about them.  

I already made my daughter City Girl, but my husband's nom de guerre was a little more challenging.  First of all he is the most private person I know, so just the idea of me writing about him makes him very uncomfortable.  I told him that I liked the reference 'Rennaissance Man', but he didn't.  Seeing that ignoring me on this issue wasn't going to work, he picked RetroMan.

Mostly because RetroMan likes old things.  Nothing we have is new.  We have an 80 year old house, old cars, a 70s moped, tools made in the 20s.  The furniture in our living and dining rooms was made in the 30s.   His idea of fun is antique shopping or going to the Pawn Shop (mine too).

This is our kitchen refrigerator.

You get the picture.  

He throws nothing away because it might be useful someday.   I have to admit that he generally uses it all.  Or intends to....  

You can't fit a hamster in our garage.  

Everything works, but maintaining it is practically a full time job, and he can fix it all.  Of course this is because he has every tool known to man.

Here he is working on one of the many chain saws we have.

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

Going to Home Depot is a last resort for him, not the first.

He is a person who does not lie, who tells you what he thinks (whether you like it or not), who is trustworthy.  A man of his word.  A meticulous man.  A moral man.  Someone who can always be relied upon.  He never talks about anyone behind their back.

In this world of navel gazers, he really stand out.  Men with his character were more often found in days past.  There aren't many around in today's times, and I worry for our daughter.  At 16, she doesn't appreciate him very much, but I know that will change some day.

He likes quiet, target shooting (though I always beat him), boating, welding, and Ratrods.

He dislikes crowds, the growth of government, watermelon.  And cold, which is why we live in Florida.

He is an awesome cook.

He wants to be a Tree Farmer, though he doesn't know much about trees and doesn't like cutting them down.

So that's RetroMan.  He required a little introduction, since I know that many of my blogs will be about his view of the world, which I love, and will be the subject of more than one blog.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's All Marie's Fault

10 years ago my co-worker, Marie, told me that she and her husband were going to sell their 1970 Pop-up camper.

My husband and I decided to buy it, thinking that we'd had enough city and needed a bit of country.  We could take our kindergartner and our dog camping and get some fresh air on the weekends.  Some true, quality family time.

Don't you just love the decor?

Little did we know that campgrounds have become kind of like frat parties, what with all the people, the sites crammed together so tight you can see each others' butt crack, the party lights strung up between the palm trees, the alcohol, radios, TV sets, and guitar circles.

And I can't forget to mention the raccoons.  

As we pulled up to our first campground spot with the Retro Camper, a racoon jumped into the truck bed, flipped open our cooler, stole a loaf of bread, dashed into the trees, and began fighting with a posse of other raccoons.

Well, you catch my drift.  Maybe it's just campgrounds in Florida, I don't know.  It seemed like we were the only ones looking for peace, quiet and solitude.

So after numerous camping trips, we decided that we should look for some of our own property to camp on.  It took us 10 years to find it, and it wasn't cheap.

As soon as we bought our piece of paradise, we realized we needed other things.  Expensive things.  Like another truck to pull the camper, since we sold the first truck during the 10 years we never went camping.

After going to the property a number of times, we also realized we would need something that could get me around the property that was smaller than the truck, since I can't walk very well.  We started out thinking a golf cart would be a great idea, but one day in August, I found a used 2004 Polaris ranger 2x4 with 240 hours at a dealer on the internet.   Of course it was at a price we couldn't refuse.  We didn't have a trailer, so the dealer let us borrow one to get it to our house in the city.

We figured it wouldn't take us long to find a trailer, but low and behold we'd run out of money having bought all sorts of "things" we "needed" now that we had a "Property".

And there it's been sitting while we've been saving.  And saving.  And saving....

Isn't it cute?  It even came with horse-chewed cup holders.

I'm thinking someone spilled some Coke in those cup holders.

Yesterday my husband went to give it an oil change, since we've just about saved enough money to buy a trailer, and we'll finally be able to use it soon.

But it wouldn't start.  He was totally bumbed out thinking he would have to give it a carb clean.

Fortunately, it was just a stuck selanoid.

So in the next month or so, we hope to buy the trailer, to haul the Polaris, with the new-to-us truck, so I can go explore our new Tree Farm that we had to buy because we bought a Pop-up.

Thanks Marie.  If you didn't sell us that Pop-up, we wouldn't know how much fun we were missing.

Livin In The City #1

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What In The World Is It? #1

The only thing we know about our Farm is that it's beautiful.  Beyond that, all we have are questions.

Like what in the world is this?

The picture looks very strange after Blogger loaded it, but it is a mound of sand about one foot around.

The mound can be found near other mounds, often in what appears to be a crooked line.  Here is a picture taken in May.

Another taken a year ago.

At first we thought they might be ant hills, but then you would see ants and there are none.  

Gopher holes were our next guess, but there is no hole at the top as we saw with gopher holes out West.

If anyone has a clue, please leave a comment.

Mystery Solved:   Many thanks to Alan from Suwannee Refugee who figured this one out.  It is a Geomys pinetus, or Southeaster Pocket Gopher.  Also known as the "sandy-mounder" or "salamander".  As Alan indicated, more information can be found here.

Not the most cuddly animal I've ever seen.  Yikes!  Eeeww!

Hmmmm.  This may not bode well for future gardening endeavors.  According to the article they depend on "herbaceous" plants.  That's garden plants, right?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Something To Smile About

I went to lunch yesterday, began to eat my salad, and this was looking up at me.  Every time I look at this picture, it makes me smile.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"I Can't Believe I'm going to the Country With Bumbling Idiots And A Stinky Dog."

So said City Girl as my husband threw Sammie into the van and closed the door.  She is at an age where exaggeration and understatement have no problem existing in the same sentence. 

"EEWWW! He's got shrimp breath!", she said as she begged us to open all of the windows.  We were eager to comply.   Sammie's breath could drop an elephant.  He’s had this problem before.

My husband and I were happy, because this was City Girl’s first trip to the Tree Farm.  I knew the idea of being trapped in the car with her parents for 12 hours was nothing short of torture.  But she had run out of other important things to do, and we bribed her by saying she could drive on the highway.  

It was late by the time I guilted my husband into giving up the Football Playoffs to take our only daughter to the country for the first time.  

We didn't leave until noon.

I commented that the traffic was light.  "That's because the only people on the road are women buying wings and beer for their men for the playoffs right now", my husband said.

City Girl did really good driving on the highway, alternating between "What do I do?" and "I'm not stupid. I know how to drive".  Well, mostly "I'm not stupid.  I know how to drive".

Thankfully, we made it to the Tree Farm in one piece. 

As soon as we got there, we appraised the view from the future Shelter looking toward the dry pond.

God I love Florida.

City Girl seemed to like it too, and started taking pictures with her iPhone right away - a good sign.

Until she caught me taking pictures of her.

Whereupon she ran back into the Van and stayed there for the next hour.

My husband grabbed a burger before he and I went for a walk.

Notice Shrimp Breath would do just about anything for a bite of that burger.

We found some blackberry plants just waiting for Spring.

I couldn’t find any flowers on this trip, but I have been admiring this plant.  In trying to identify it, I found some great websites for Florida plant identification:

Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
Florida Wildflower Foundation
Florida Wildflowers and Butterflies

Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out what it is.  Perhaps someone reading this might help me out.

I also don’t know what this is, though it looks like some kind of Yucca or something.

On our walk we came upon what I think is a Gopher Tortise hole.

Just as I was thinking how cute it was that Sammie discovered the hole too, he nearly disappeared into it.  He has no tail, so I had to drop the camera and grab him by his hiney hairs to keep him from going in.

The woods were beautiful.

Sammie got a little carried away and decided that there were more interesting smells far in the forest now that there was no chance of burger.    We scared every animal away within a mile of us yelling for him to “Come” and “Get over here”.

We couldn’t pry City Girl from the Van because it was starting to get cold, and since it was getting late, we decided to leave.

On our way out of the property, my husband wanted to check out the dry pond.

Here’s what it looks like from the center of the dry pond looking towards the first picture in this blog post.

We had City Girl detour on the way home to a quiet 10 mile country dirt road we like.  About 4 miles into the drive, we came upon one of my favorite spots: an 800 acre cattle ranch.

We kept going and suddenly City Girl let out a squeal, stopped the Van and jumped out to take a picture of this 3 foot alligator.

Followed by this deer shaking its tail at us.

There would have been more animal sightings I’m sure, but I was in the passenger seat trying to look through a windshield full of City Girl’s toe prints.

Back on asphalt, we passed one of my favorite farms planted in what I think is Winter Rye.

The daylight ended just as we crossed the bridge near Inglis.

Sorry for the long blog.  I like to read blogs with lots of pictures and hope you enjoy them too.

Fortunately we all made it home in one piece, still talking to each other, and we didn’t lose the dog.

I asked City Girl if she like the Tree Farm and she said “It’s nice”.

Ah, just the words I wanted to hear.

Just don’t tell her I said so.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I'm Really a Normal Person Except When I'm Nuts

There are very few things that really get me mad.  I'm a really even -tempered person.  Just ask anybody. 

Ok.  Since none of you know me, I'll explain how normal I am except sometimes.

If you wake me up as I'm about to fall asleep, you are taking your life in your own hands.

There have been many a time on the evening of the Fourth of July that I've had to be restrained.  I've been willing to go out there in my pajamas (whether or not I was wearing any) and with my hair askew, tell those kids (grown-ups, drug dealers, whatever) that they need to knock it off!  It's time for sleep for Pete's sake!

My sensible husband has always restrained me, called me an old bag, telling me to let them have their fun and to go back to bed.

Ok fine.  So I've never used a firearm because of a firecracker.


Smoke detectors are another story.

This morning I was writing the funniest blog ever about our summer camping trip to the Tree Farm, enjoying the quiet darkness while my husband and daughter slept in, sipping hot coffee, wiggling my toes in my warm slippers.

Then I decided to get some breakfast. 

I put some bread in the toaster oven, and when the timer dinged, I made my favorite breakfast - cheese toast - and started into the living room to continue my hilarious soliloquy.

Then I heard something chirping.

It got louder and louder and louder. 

My mind raced backwards - is that the smoke detector? Yes.  Did I burn the toast? No.  Will my husband and daughter believe that I didn't burn the toast?  No.  Have I pretty much ruined their morning sleep in?  Yes.  Will they be mad at me?  Yes.  Will there be much yelling?  Probably.  Will I be able to peacefully continue writing my prizing winning blog?  No.

My logical mind knows that smoke detectors are good things.  But in my experience, there's never been a real fire when they've gone off. 

They only alarm when I am cooking. 


I guess the only other thing that gets me insanely mad is when I'm sleeping in the middle of the night and something wakes me up.  

Then I hear it.   The faint chirp of one of the five fire alarms in our house going off every 5 minutes to let us know that they need a new battery.

Just waiting for that next chirp makes me want to..........

Do irrational things.

It really is a miracle there are no shotgun holes in the ceilings of our house.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Off to the Woods - finally!

Our daughter flew out of town to visit relatives this week, so we put our dog, Sammie, in the car and headed to the Woods. 

There we all were - on our way!  Finally!  We hadn't seen the woods in over a month!  It was cold out (relatively speaking, I know) so we had the heater cranking, and then WOW!

We tried to figure out what the smell was, and realized it was Sammie's breath.  What on earth could smell like that?

It was a tie between cat butt and road kill.  Not that either of us know what cat butt smells like, but it just seemed right.

We briefly considered dropping him off at the next Truck Stop, but we love our Sammie.  So we traveled down the road with the windows down and the heat blasting, and that worked.

On the way, we stopped by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' old homestead in Central Florida.  Her book, Cross Creek, is one of my favorites.  I happened onto her web site, and found that her barn looks exactly like the kind of barn we like. 

We measured just about every aspect of that barn, despite odd looks from the proprietor.  It is a little small, but with a some modification, it should work out just right.

The barn needs to hold:
  1. A tractor
  2. Farm equipment/tools
  3. The All Terrain Wheelchair (ATW) on a trailer (A Polaris Ranger)
  4. A future ratrod
  5. A work bench
  6. A place to sleep, since the pop-up camper will probably not make it another 10 5 years.
  7. A bathroom/shower/washer/dryer

The plan is to build the shelter this year and put the very old camper under it.  This should do for a couple of years.  Then we want to build the barn, which will be the next step toward actually having a real cabin to sleep in.

We liked the benches that were under the barn overhang.  These would be nice around the fire pit, which will be located about 50 feet in front of the shelter.

After an hour or so we kept going to the Woods.  The picnic table was still there and looked great!  Sammie was feeling better and made himself right at home.

Sammie wears a cone because he has a habit of biting himself, especially when he is nervous.  As much as he loves car rides, they make him nervous.

Here's what he looks like without it.

He is a 15 year old Schipperke, and still acts like a puppy.  I will tell the story of how we came to own him another time.

He and my husband went for a walk in the woods.

And then we focused on our main job for the day - trying to determine the slope of the land around the place we want to put the shelter so we could level it properly.

We put stakes in the ground, and, using our newly acquired level, figured out that one corner was about 6 inches higher than the other.  Hmmmmm.  It seemed like more than that with the naked eyeball - like maybe a foot and a half.  

It could be that our surveyor's skills need some work. 

While we were double-checking our figures amidst much yelling, our friend Ron stopped by.

He pointed to the logs we were drying.......


..... and said "I don't mean to burst your bubble, but you weren't going to use those logs to build with were you?".  

Um, well yes, we were.   He said they "wouldn't last but 6 months in the ground".  

But the man at the hardware store told us all we had to do is paint some copper on the ends that would go into the ground.

"No, you need to get yourself some pressure treated poles."  

So that's what we'll do.  Everything Ron has told us has always turned out to be right.  He has lived there for 30 years or so, after all.

He left before we remembered to ask him where in the world we were going to find 11 and 13 foot pressure treated poles, but that will have to be another day.     

My husband was very disappointed that we couldn't use the trees off our land to build the pavillion.  Me?  Well, I wasn't so sad, since we had such trouble picking out trees to actually cut down.

Meanwhile, we took our level, our dog, and went back to our house in the city to think about how in the world we were going to get 13' poles to the property once we found them.

And before I forget, Happy New Year.  2009 was not a bad year for us compared to many.  I hope that 2010 will be even better.