Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Check This Out!!

For you who haven't kept up with the International Space Station, this is
a must see.

Can you imagine the planning necessary to accomplish this?
I hope you enjoy watching the assembly come together at the URL below.

International Space Station Comes Together!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Miracle of Lost and Found

Last Sunday, my cat Charlie, whom I've had since he was a kitten, disappeared. He is a 18 pound black and white mouser, that rarely leaves the yard. He does have a couple of nearby haunts, but as a rule he likes hanging out at the woodpile watching for mice, or lurking under the front yard bushes waiting for an unsuspecting leg to walk by! I have had cats for many years, mostly indoor/outdoor cats. What that means is anytime they are indoors, they want to go outdoors and anytime they are outdoors, they want to go indoors. Charlie has been with us for over five years, has always come when I called for him, has never been in any scraps with the neighborhood cats, and when he disappeared it was during daylight hours. (I ALWAYS bring him in at night). When he didn't come home that first night, I was frantic. By the second night, I had printed up fliers and stuffed them in all the neighbors mailboxes. I begged everyone to check their garages and sheds, just in case he had gotten in while someone had been doing yard work that Sunday. (The weather had been beautiful and I knew most folks had been outside cleaning up their yards.) When I came home from work at midnight, I walked up and down in the pouring rain with a flashlight calling his name. By the third night, I was resigned to the fact that he was gone. It had been pouring rain all day and night. All kinds of horrible thoughts ran through my mind. We do have a small coyote population here on the Cape. Last fall someone else in our neighborhood was missing a cat. Unfortunately, we believe that a coyote got to it and I was the one who called the Animal Control Officer when I found the remains. I was sick to my soul over Charlie's disappearance. I chastised myself for buying the cheap flea collar that wasn't of the break away design. I imagined him hung up on branches, or even worse. I cried, I prayed, I grieved. Yet, each time I walked outside I called his name. I walked all over the neighborhood searching for him. By the sixth day I was miserable. On the seventh day that he had been missing I received a call from a neighbor of mine two houses down. They had been gone all week, had just arrived home and had seen the flier. She called to tell me that she thought my cat might be in her attic! She wasn't sure, she said, but when she had opened her garage door, she had heard something moving around upstairs. When she went up, she caught a glimpse of fur as it disappeared into the eaves. My daughter and I raced out the door and down the street; hearts pumping, fear and hope coursing through our bodies! If it was him, he had been without food and water for seven days. What kind of condition would he be in? If it wasn't him, could I stand the disappointment? When we ran up to the house, the woman was waiting for us, but instead of just pointing us in the direction of the attic, she wanted to chit chat. Trying not to be rude, we asked her where the door to the attic was, and up we went into the hot, stuffy air. The attic was big, with lots of stuff piled all along the sides of the room. My daughter and I carefully stepped deeper into the room, calling Charlie's name.


"CHARLIE"!!! My heart was pounding in my ears, but I could still hear it....


"Here Charlie, here kitty"!

Out he scooted, from behind some boxes, somewhat skittish and looking for a way out. My daughter scooped him up in her arms, and down the stairs we went into the fresh, cool air. He was alive! We, of course said our thank-yous, then nearly-ran with him back to our house to check out his condition. He seemed fine, just a bit of weight loss, but as soon as he got in the door, he ate a bit of food then wanted to go out! We kept him in, to monitor how he was doing. I was concerned about dehydration. However, throughout the night, he ate both wet and dry food, drank water and had no problems holding it down. He used the litter box and as far as I could tell, he was one happy cat. He rubbed all over us, sucked up the attention we gave him, then settled down to sleep right in the middle of my bed! Can I just say, it felt like the weight of the world had lifted!

My daughter made the remark, "What's with our cats and attics?" It reminded me of how our last cat Whiskers, had done the exact same thing about eight years ago. She had wandered into a house being built down at the end of the road, gotten spooked by the construction crew, and ended up hiding in the eaves. By the end of the day, the crew had finished putting in all the windows and doors. She had no way to get out! I finally found her, six days later, by walking through the neighborhood calling her name. I heard the faint "meow" coming from the new house, and nearly tore off the eaves of a $450K house trying to get to her. When I realized I couldn't get to her, I had to wait until the crew came back to work the next morning to try and get her out. That required permission from the owner. Unable to miss a day at work while waiting for permission, I spent the next eight hours in pure torture. That evening, after the work crew left, my daughter and I entered the house with a bowl of spaghetti dinner, and sat down in one of the upstairs bedrooms. Whiskers was a very timid and shy cat, so it took some coaxing to get her to come out into the open. I'm sure the smell of food did the trick. Another miraculous reunion!

I'm still on the fence about restricting Charlie to staying in the house. I want to do what is best for him, but I'm not sure just what that might be. I would really appreciate your thoughts and opinions. For now, we will keep a close eye on him and try to take our cues from his behavior. The knucklehead.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Florida Part IV

While driving through Bradenton, we stumbled upon a sign that directed us to the Desoto National Memorial. On a whim we decided to check it out. I'm sure glad we did!

In May 1539, de Soto landed nine ships with over 620 men and 220 horses
at the present day Shaw's Point, in Bradenton, FL. He named it EspĂ­ritu Santo after the Holy Spirit.

The ships brought priests, craftsmen, engineers, farmers, and merchants; some with their families, some from Cuba, most from Europe and Africa. Few of them had ever traveled outside of Spain, or even their home villages.

This guy is a cardboard cut-out that sits back in the woods. Pretty life-like huh?
The first extensive organized exploration of what is now the southern United States by Europeans is commemorated here. de Soto had come to the new world with a license from the King of Spain to explore, colonize, and pacify the Indians of the area known as "La Florida".

Located at Marina Jack in Sarasota is the statue of great controversy!
It is a replica of a famous photo taken in New York 1945 when Japan announced it's unconditional surrender.
Many people don't like the statue, calling it cheesy and feel it's out of place in the "classy art community of Sarasota".
But I read somewhere that the locals really love it and find it fascinating watching us tourists pose with it, and try to look up the skirt of the nurse!
Apparently this colossal statue is movable, as it did some time in San Diego.
Lots of folks were happy to see it return to Sarasota. However, if they want it to stay, they'll have to fork over $700,000. No one seems to know where it will be going next.

While we were at Marina Jack, we booked a ride on a beautiful 41' sailboat named The Enterprise.Enterprise Charter is owned by.... get this....Capt "Kirk" Harden!
The fellow in the photo is First Mate Bob. He made our trip around the harbor very comfortable and enjoyable! He is very knowledgable of the surrounding area.

The John Ringling Causeway Bridge was opened for the first time in 1925 by John Ringling himself. The purpose was to get buyers from the mainland to the barrier islands to buy land he had for sale.
The John Ringling Causeway Bridge has been a unique part of Sarasota's history for more than 80 years.

These condominiums, we were told, cost anywhere from $1 million - $3 million each!

Here is just one of thousands of multi-million dollar estates that sit on the waterfront all along the bay. First Mate Bob did some name dropping... I guess Jerry Springer, Valerie Bertinelli,Tom Cruise, and Steve Tyler have homes here.

This is another charter that we saw while sailing gracefully in the harbor. It had palm trees on top and a giant mermaid in the front of the boat. Quite the ride!

I laughed at this sign.... I'd never seen one before and it cracked me up! My companions were quick to say that the signs were not a novelty. I still found it photo worthy!

Well folks, that's it for the Florida trip! Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I had doing it! Thanks for all the wonderful comments too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ed Freeman

You're an 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded, and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam . Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8 - 1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in.
You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it.
Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come.
He's coming anyway.
And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board.
Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the Doctors and Nurses.
And, he kept coming back.... 13 more times..... And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Ed Freeman,died last Wednesday at the age of 80, in Boise , ID ......May God rest his soul.....
I bet you didn't hear about this hero's
passing, but we sure were told a whole
bunch about the presidents new dog in the White House.
Medal of Honor Winner
Ed Freeman!
Shame on the American Media

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Florida Part III

We were very lucky to be able to stay in Florida for seven days. My previous vacations were short bursts...lasting only four days, two travel days and two days to explore and visit. This time, having seven days to do whatever came to mind, made it more relaxing and easier to decide on what we wanted to do with our time.

On the ride down to see my Aunt and Uncle who live in Englewood, we stopped at Stump Pass Beach
and got out long enough to take a quick walk. The day was chilly for Florida, (low 60's), the wind was whipping; a perfect day to do a car tour of the area. The visit with my family was wonderful. Lots and lots of talking, eating, and being merry! My uncle makes stained glass art and I took some photos....

aren't they beautiful?!

Another adventure we had was visting the Mote Aquarium located on City Island just a few miles outside of Sarasota. I especially liked the up close and personal with the (barb-less) Stingrays. They seemed to like the attention they were getting, swimming up close so folks could touch them. They feel incredible, not slimy, but sort of "spongy". The two resident dolphins

were not especially active, save for a moment or two when one of the handlers came out to the pool. One of the dolphins became quite excited and circled the large pool at great speeds, then favored us with a couple of jumps. Once he realized he wasn't getting food he calmed down a bit. Both dolphins were rescued from stranding and came from two different areas of the country. For whatever reason, the feds refused to allow the aquarium to re-release them after they had been rehabilitated and that is why they are now permanently located there.

I revisited the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, having discovered them on my last trip. It was Easter Egg Hunt day, and the park was full of children carrying baskets, searching for the treasured Easter eggs! The exhibits were great, and when we came upon the Flamingos,

we stopped long enough to feed them. They have a funny way of eating. I think their bills are upside down(?) so they have to lower their heads and turn them upside down to get their food down into their throats. It's quite the maneuver! My favorite part was the visit we had with the Birds of Paradise.... you are allowed to pick out a bird that you'd like to hold, and the trainer brings it over to you and places it on your arm. I held a little Sun Parakeet,

brilliantly colored with yellow and red feathers. My brother decided he wanted to hold a Cockatoo, so when the trainer brought it over, he held out his arm, and then `whoosh`!

The bird ran right up his arm and latched onto his ball cap! The bird apparently did not like the hat, tried to take it off of his head, and the trainer had to pry it out of the bird's beak!

It was hilarious! Hope you enjoy the photos!

I have two or three more adventures to share with you .... but I'll have to save them for the next post. Duty calls!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We Now Interrupt This Broadcast......

My brother just sent this to me in an e-mail. I'm still giggling!

Florida Part II

After lunch, we returned to Sun N Fun, where we were greeted by a very friendly staff. The paperwork signed and keys obtained, we headed to our home for the next seven days. Sun N Fun is exactly what it says it is. If the following sounds like an advertisement for them, well it's for good reason. We had a beautiful mobile home, practically new, (you could "smell" the newness when you walked in), extremely clean, fully equipped with brand new appliances, linens, cookware, silverware ,dishes, glassware; you name it, we had it.

I especially liked the little outside deck, where we ate most of our evening meals.

The park is huge (177 acres) and there are so many mobile homes and RV's it's impossible to count them all. The first thing you notice about the place is how friendly everyone is.
Most of the residents live there for nine months out of the year, some, like us, come for a week or two.

There were older areas of the park where people had owned their homes for years, knew their neighbors and created a community within the park. Everyone we passed as we walked about, spoke to us, said hello and were willing to help and answer questions. They made eye contact! They were smiling! It was awesome! People were comfortable and secure there, that was evident.
Although one could drive a car throughout the park (10 mph please!), there were lots of bikes and motorized scooters; but the favorite means of transport seemed to be golf cart. Lots and lots of golf carts. Not just your ordinary golf cart....
souped up/decorated golf carts,

golf carts painted like Nascar racing cars,

even a Model T golf cart!
You could always tell when the pool was crowded by the number of golf carts and such parked in the lot!
Speaking of the pool, it was enormous.
It was clean.
It was HEATED. It was heaven! There were two large hot tubs,
a Tiki Bar and a kids pool
and a Tiki Bar, oh and did I mention the Tiki Bar? Everything was well kept, clean and bright and the staff provided outstanding service. We had occasion to do laundry during our stay; yes that dull, boring chore, but right next to the laundry-mat was a rec room with nine giant pool tables, free to play! If we had been allotted more time to stay, I believe we would have tried our hand at horseshoes and the mini-golf course, perhaps taken a woodworking class or participated in the morning exercise class held in the HEATED pool. So much to do, so little time! There are several lakes and ponds suitable for fishing and boating, but we just didn't get a chance to do it all!

After we were unpacked and settled, had gone grocery shopping for the week, we decided it was time to take a ride down to the beaches. We drove out to Long Boat Key, just in time for a glorious sunset walk. I'll leave you for now, with these photos. More later.