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( some pictures enlarge by clicking…like the papaya tree.. Oh my)

Dale wants to know why I count everything? Well, clearly I was once an Australian Shepherd—she must not know?

Anyway, I am a counter; I count on good luck, good friends, good times, good weather and good reads. The beautiful thing about being an optimist is I’m never disappointed. Life is a roller coaster and every bottom leads to the top of the next plateau—that”s what I count on.

But what could this have to do with these 48 tomatoes in our kitchen today? (There’s a few more you can’t see…really about 61 in all.)

Well, that’s simple. A few weeks ago I counted over 314 tomatoes in our garden and hoped the crop would make it—note: I refuse to count cherry tomatoes. Anyway, the tomatoes started becoming randomly ripe here or there without rhyme or reason throughout the garden. In that the plants are often over 6 feet tall, I had to hunt for tomatoes as if they were Easter eggs.  Eventually, after boiling down about 31 tomatoes to freeze into 3 or 4 quart baggies of sauce per day, I think the tomato bunny is leaving my yard.

Today’s pick included a 17 green beans, a mess of collard greens and about 18 1/2 tomatoes.

However, please note the six large brown bags on the table behind today’s hunt. These bags are the secret to reaping in ripe tomatoes in Florida’s early heat and before the 4,129* bugs here that use infrared spyware and well coordinated attack plans can sting the fruit…Dang, I dislike everyone last one of them…(NOTE: for the first time in, no joke, 42 and 1/2 years of gardening in North Florida, I haven’t seen but two fruit stinging insects in my garden! I’m not sure if this is due to the air quality improvement, the normal season we are having weather wise here for the first time in ten and 1/4 years or random luck. But, for whatever the reason, I’m getting worried about not seeing the insects I hate to see… so I’m going to a shrink about this,)…

This is our first child and my wife, Dale, back in 1982 in our Micanopy home. The garden is about 27 feet left of her.

Bonus picture: this papaya grew as a volunteer from our compost I spread last August. It’s about 25 feet tall; so far, it has had 33 papaya’s on it. In all, 17 papaya’s grew in the garden from our compost but I transplanted the others thinking, “Who needs 17 papaya’s growing in a veggie garden?” Good thing. Apparently the trees live up to five years.

Anyway,,, back to those 6 brown bags—they held 56 (plus three rotten) tomatoes in different stages of ripening and four papayas… So, the deal is to pick most of the tomatoes in the garden as they just start to ripen, especially if the tomato has splits or rings on its top which means they’re likely to split open or rot on the vine if you leave them outside. There’s a trick to this picking called timing, but why go into that when your mind is already blown by the  128 tomatoes I’ve made into sauce and frozen in 18 baggies so far? Plus, every recipe leaves something out.

Above: 73 tomatoes plus three rotten ones.

The three rotten ones….

Here’s the fifty-six tomatoes from the brown bags.

Of the 56 tomatoes in the bags, 36 were ripe.

It can take up to four or five days for tomatoes pulled from the garden less than green but turning white or red in spots to ripen in the bags. I check them every day as one that goes bad in the bags makes a mess. Some tomatoes may ripen in one to two days,,, it all depends on how ripe they are when you pick them.

I hope this helps. But here’s the thing: you don’t need hardly any space at all to grow tomatoes. You can grow them in pots on a balcony if that’s what you have to use. Or, since tomatoes are the best thing coming out of just about any garden, if you have a 3 foot wide, ten or 15 foot long space that gets at least 1/2 day sun, dig that soil up. Add good soil, put up a straight fence down the middle of that row supported well by stakes that are at least four feet high. Now, buy 9 starter tomatoes from Lowes (if you only have a ten foot row–one planted every 3 feet on either side of the fence) and plant them. Be sure you have a watering source… hose, sprinkler… something….

This type of set-up might yeild you 100 tomatoes…!?!?

One more thing,,, stay away  from Big Boy or Better Boy tomatoes if planting in Florida. They’re size is spectacular to see but the top ridges in these varieties tend to split open in Florida’s heat.  Plant around Feb. 15th or August 15th in Gainesville and cover if we get a weird cold night or two.

And, if you have a backyard, plop a pool in it if you can—there’s nothing like a swim after a day of picking 18 and 1/2 tomatoes.

Cheers from tomato land.

Franque23 is counting on you.

*I will admit to having never counted the insects…maybe.

 


(some picture enlarge when clicked , others don’t) ..working on this.

Hippies, who needs them? Imagine, all stoned and thinking we shouldn’t hate anyone for their color of skin, that pot should be legal and that war should end—a bunch of crazy losers, right?

And Hippies believed women were equal to men, and if they didn’t want to wear a bra, okay…. just crazy stuff…right?

I was home on Christmas break about 1970 watching the Nixon/Nam reports with long hair that reached my shoulders or more. I was a musician at heart and singing the protest songs when I could, but my dad was a staunch Nixon supporter…basically, I was an alien in my own home ideologically, but Dad never leaned on me; Dad gave me space.

As lost I was in those struggles to right the wrongs of humanity I felt sure were the savior of mankind, I never once noticed how much my dad had given me without the back of his hand. No, Dad, to my unsuspecting delight had given the love of flowers, the birds, the trees and love of life to me.  I never knew…

I’d hauled in a gardenia bush for Dad from outside and in upon the season while we lived on Long Island because Dad was crazy. Oh my gosh…that planter got to be a hundred pounds and the plant filled a ten by 8 high room on the window side….What on earth…?

Likewise, Dad had those mysterious asparagus patches…those were poison if eaten—I knew.

His basic replica of mid west apple orchards stood in our 1/4 acre back yard to torture me with the picking… but, I admit, I ate about 4 apples per day at least.

Now, of course, Dad is long gone. The last time I held his hand was in 2001…He passed as I sat near by laughing about old times with my sister and mom. In a second, he died.

 

Now, I grow a gardenia we inherited when we bought our home in 2000. The bush is a monster… about ten feet long and 6 feet high, at least… this year we have had over 300 blooms on it…

I’ve no secret about this bush…it just grows,,, but maybe our neighbor’s friendly chicken, Lucy , who loves to live underneath it can’t hurt?

It makes a great way to reach our front door…I always say “hello” to this bush because, yeah, I love the plant.

In fact, Dad taught me to not only notice flowers, the roses and planting he had around our yard on Long Island, he taught me to love them as he loved me. There was something huge about my Dad I never really understood but somehow took inside.

I’d like to think that all the prejudices that passed so easily among white Americans born in 1911 as he was have not stuck to me. Times have to change. I think I’ve shed those bad marks and raced ahead with the good points. Certainly, the love of flowers has bloomed within me…Go ahead, ask the flowers in our yard who I say hello to as they bloom…they will tell you.

The shrimp plant will spread and fall to the ground unless you stake it—butterflies of all kinds and hummingbirds love it.

There’s nothing like taking a early spring drive out to Alachua north of Gainesville to see the roadside flowers the county hasn’t insanely mowed down:-0

This year, Alachua didn’t mow roadside flowers and as a result there was about 5 miles of beautiful flowers along 331 north see as we drove by…

Here, at home, I plant marigolds along our garden fence line and in the garden to help with aphids…but dang, if the birds didn’t help me plant this beautiful Sunflower!

We just love flowers here.  And the red, single hibiscus, though not as flashy as other hibiscus, is a strong, reliable and hearty bloomer.

There’s nothing like having a papaya volunteer out of the compost we spread in our garden launch twenty five feet high…

yummmm papaya…

I really don’t know if Dad liked papaya… but he would have loved all of this…

Thanks to Dad, I do know how to garden. It was a torturous lesson back then while 14 years of age,,,, but how could I know it would lead me all my life? Dad’s can give us so much when they just do take the time.

It’s been a great year here in North Florida for growing a garden. I think we have seen normal weather patterns for our area for the first time in ten years! Odd.

I have to go; Shadow wants to run after the ball.

And then swim in the pool

You know, energies, knowledge and love, all of it transfers many times in ways we don’t know. Dad, thanks for everything…and for those living in Alachua county who want to grow food, I will come help you do it…

It’s about loving life. So thanks Dad, for all that you hated, you taught me how to love so much more. Born in my time, you would’ve been a hippie. I feel certian.

Franque23

 

 

 

 

 


(Click the pic for a larger view.)

Anyone who knew me as a kid knows it’s an astoundingly, flabbergasting, jaw-dropping, stupefying surprise that I’m a father. Sure, I had a future even a wrong turn could help back then, but it also was clear from the get-go that another planet was, in fact, my home. I lived spaced out most of the time.

Still, there has always been a Father in me.

A fishing Grandpa….who knew?

 

Basically, my kid-self was a walking brain dent.

School was torture, a work around looking to happen, though girls were annoyingly interesting. Sports became my ticket to skate by on in high school. Next came a spin as class VP.  I spent a zillion hello’s on friends passing in school halls like a pseudo-millionaire with no money.

The politician in me continued to thrive through my non-formative years of college.

As a sophomore, the college paper deemed me, Apple Gerry, with a front page picture that showed me ranting about student dorm rights. Soon, I was appointed by the graduating head of , Group X, to be this organization’s next President. Now, Group X had two major agendas. First, our group wanted , ‘open,’ dorms with visiting rights for both men and women 24/7. (Seems my younger interests stuck with me). Secondly, we wanted visiting rights for women in the men’s dorms.  I know, these two agendas seem the same, but agenda two left men out of female dorms. Underlying our two hot pulsing agenda’s were rumors I made sure spread that Group X would host off campus beer parties. It all worked great until those beer parties took effect which is why I don’t remember how long Group X survived and when or why it ended…

Not to be detoured, my free-fallin’, dancing, singing self landed me a membership pre-facto of Phi-Kappa-Phi since I refused to go thru hazing but was made an off-the-record member of the fraternity house anyway. It was a great, wild , short year of being reprimanded by the College Administration. Before our house knew it, women weren’t allowed in our second story where the beds were, so, yeah, we moved all the beds down to the basement and slept there and stuff. This pissed Admin off but it wasn’t until we held a beer-bed floating party in the basement with strippers from Baltimore as hosts that our house got shut down! I mean, completely closed for a year!!! Can you imagine?!?! Of course, I had very little to do with any of this that I remember.

My successful political days weren’t over, but it was time for those college days to fog into post college days of running naked in the Ocala National Forest, jumping naked off lime pits east of Gainesville with 300 hundred others on any given Saturday afternoon and strolling by police cars while at a nude block party on NE 1st street here in Gainesville.  I know, I know, you’re thinking I was a nudist but, no, I wore clothes to job interviews and stuff all the time.

(Clothes on! This is the site of many Bonaparte late night ,’Chunky-dunks,’ but we can’t beat Ireland’s recent Guinness book world record-breaking 2500 nude swimmers at once!)*

All that college,’Fog,’ cleared into pot smoke that guided my way for a few more zillion years as I grew older without growing up. There’s a pill to take for that, but I forget the color!

Next thing I knew, my ears pretty much got too long for my face and my children stole my hair.

I remember waking up one day and staring into the mirror realizing very little.

I’d set down my principles and forgotten where they were unless I tripped over them while changing diapers. It was nifty earning money that was really other people’s money if I made it to the power company on time to keep the lights on. I was consumed with successful failure without notice or care but for my family. I have to say, that bunch got my attention.

I suppose it’s true to say one baby led to another and then another which led to seven others—so far.

(Here’s five of them being still all at once!?!?!)

But through it all I maintained my hat wearing image with uniquely obtuse discernment, a finesse of in-depth leadership and control.

Clearly, this is not me , but a look-a-like! Aaron is, however, wearing my glasses!!! Have you ever noticed children love to wear glasses, but that’s never good for the glasses?

As it turns out, I like to grow things, whether it be debates on issues (have you noticed), babies, grand children, properties, gardens and wrinkles….

Click the pic to see the start of hat construction and the  wrinkle lines I spent hours, days, weeks, heck, years putting on my face!!

I’m not sure what ticket I would have been on if you told me back in high school that I’d end up a  paper bag hat wearing, wrinkled eared, laughing Grandpa. Maybe, the one to the fast train to Berkeley or the over-life sleeper to the deep woods of Canada.

Yep. Throughout the laughs there was a Father in me after all. Man, this is great; a nice surprise, indeed. Who knew I had a plan all along? Me!

(This is my brother-in-law and his wife and me with my wife standing in front of what we believe was the location of my wife’s ancestor’s home. They were hat makers in Denton, England. I was making leather hats in a barn in Gainesville in the 1970’s when my wife first moved in with me! See? That’s called a plan:-)

Franque23

*https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/11/europe/irish-women-record-breaking-skinny-dip-intl/


Bare Ass Pond-the late 1970's. I got dressed for the pic.

Bare Ass Pond-the late 1970’s. I got dressed for the pic.

It wasn’t that long ago…

About 1953 on Long Island outside of our family home

About 1953 on Long Island outside of our family home-the Northeastern’s blew snow in almost every winter.

Okay, maybe it was a long time ago.  For me, it’s a blink of a memory comprised of forever.

I built snowmen without a hint of what was to come,,,and that my generation's great dreams may one day melt.

I built snowmen without a hint of what was to come-great dreams for the earth.

Change started massing energy when the Beatle’s sang on Ed Sullivan-those tunes soon morphed into a mud bath called, Woodstock. There were the teachings of tolerance,,, justice, right and wrong, but I think most of all we were taught to hold within each of us a dignity of spirit. Once these ideas were in place, the new world could arrive.

The musical lines gave the message.

Looking back, the festival announcement that the brown acid was bad made the assumption some listeners were still able to discern brown from white, black, green. purple, polka-dotted or blue. We’d stripped  bare to prove the old ways were gone, basic change was here, as fundamental ways of behaving and thinking were dead and gone. The lines between us all had vanished for good.

Conventional laws were taken off and a new course had begun.

Conventional societal mores were cast aside and a new course had begun. Yes, we got naked…(Woodstock)

It’s easy to wonder why any of us thought smoking pot might help the situation we enthusiastically fought to change. You’d think we might have been savvy enough to vote for change, but we’d given up on that. Millions in my generation decided taking it to the streets was the best if not the only way to make change happen. Were we right?

I sang on stage back in the day all about the message-peace, love, freedom and equality.

Pete and I started singing the message early on in High School( I'm in the background)

Pete and I started singing the message early on in High School.  ( I’m in the background)

First serious guitar in it's first gold color...

First serious guitar in its first gold color…(I’m 15.) Hopin’ to sing the message.

So, my wheel turns way back, runs through the middle of so much history and arrives here in the closing days of 2016. To be clear-I remember dad getting our first TV, a thing still new to everyone on our block. I went to college when there were no computers, no cells phones but, yes, short dresses and pot but no Aids that we knew. I began to work as a Library Specialist 21 years ago when the Alachua County Library District had acquired only a few computers. My reference work for patrons was done entirely out of books or through phone calls in those earlier years. All the while, I prayed for peace along with so many other Americans.

Today, many feel political drifts forecast a turning away from the sun shining in as we all hoped it might in the 70’s, from the environmental concerns many of us have held for so many years, and from our hope for peace.

Home coming parade. Gainesville, 1970

Home coming parade. Gainesville, 1970…hmmm, this wouldn’t happen today.

It was once easy for hundreds of Gainesville’s people to strip naked at lime pits and swim with others.

“The year was 1970, and the band was Mudcrutch. Petty sang and played bass alongside Mike Campbell (guitar), Tom Leadon (guitar and vocals), Jim Lenehan (lead vocals) and Randall Marsh (drums).” This is Gainesville in the 70’s, so it doesn’t matter that there are five names and only four people? The main point was in the music.

We shared the understanding that to find the truth of our existence it was necessary to shed the barriers between us and the earth. Open, accepting, and always understanding-Peace was the message. We wanted the naked truth.

1970-gainesville-fl-uf-univ-of-florida-homecoming-parade-press-photo-rkf19999-8e2e3da9b5a6918fa3b501db221baf90

Now? We need to revisit the messages of my generation, to create a solidarity of purpose that keeps America on the right path.  My generation didn’t want the Nam war to go on and we stopped it. Today, we can stop anything as well. The key is to really try, never give up and work harder.

If not ‘Bare Ass’ time, its bare knuckle time. Environmentalists,  humanitarians and lovers of life, it’s time to dress down our opponents. We have to tune up and sing our song louder than false claims, disingenuous motives and misguided hearts can yell. It’s time to dive in and win again.

Franque23

04980017-2



   Make no mistake about it: the same lands we fought so hard to maintain as wild spaces within the Alachua Forever guidelines are under attack again this Nov. 8th.  It’s the Plum Creek nightmare all over again for our citizens. This first affront to common sense came under the guise of Envison Alachua, a proposal that sought to develop and mine Alachua County’s green spaces.  The Plan’s primary backer was Weyerhaeuser, a company  currently on the US Toxic round-up list, Canada’s Toxic violators list plus the company is being sued in at least three counties in Europe for creating toxic waste sites.

Why do I think Weyerhaeuser is behind the signs placed about town that ask voters to vote against funding Alachua’s Wild Spaces? Basically, the company’s slimy phosphogypsum (more on this later)* foot print is all over the message on those signs, the ones that claim the measure will increase taxes. NOT SO!

   The measure to vote for funding Wild Spaces is a RENEWAL of the same tax measure we, the voters, elected to pass in 2008. It doesn’t represent a tax increase as claimed on the signs, but rather the preservation of Alachua County’s wild spaces. So why the lie on the signs? Why the misdirection? Why the I couldn’t fool you with Envision Alachua last time so I’ll try again by claiming the Wild Spaces measure is a tax increase?

   The rub is mostly about the 37, 495 acres in Alachua County, the Lochloosa Forest. It’s part of Alachua’s Wild Spaces, part of lands kept, supported and maintained by the tax that will be renewed if this measure passes.  Weyerhaeuser and other developers would love this land to be underfunded. Then, they might get it.

Currently, 443,210 acres of Florida are under phosphate mines, and companies that  use and development these and new phosphate mines earned a cool  1.13 Billion dollars in the year, 2000. That’s a heap of cash, and this mining process creates not only thousands of jobs, it renders Florida mountains of problems.

To make it simple, earth containing Phosphate is about 30 feet below ground level.  The earth that’s over the phosphate is called the Matrix, or overburden.  Thing is, once the Matrix is cleared away and the phosphate is extracted from the earth the dirt that’s left is full of  stuff called phosphogypsum-way back when people used to see huge mounds of this dirt near the phosphate mines…remember? Perhaps, if you’re my age, you played on those mounds as a kid.

The EPA came along not too long ago and discovered that phosphogypsum was full of radium, it’s radioactive, and it had to actually be kept in tall stacks-like cooling towers-for public safety. Currently,  over a billion tons of radioactive phosphygpsum is being held in 25 stacks located around the State of Florida. Worse, when the phosphate companies go belly up they walk away from the radioactive towers leaving them for our state to clean up. The cost of cleanup for just three of these towers in Florida recently cleared 160 million tax dollars.

phosphatedragline_5
(Phosphate mine in Florida—they’re no good for hiking.)
   Yeah-no. Alachua County residents have to vote “YES”  on the WILD SPACES measure.
   We love our green spaces, Nature, and we don’t need big business lying to us while trying to erode our support for our environment. We also don’t need phosphate mining in Alachua County.  Those company’s can keep their mines elsewhere and the 140 million they spend yearly on trying to monitor their pollution controls.
    Here’s the dirt on the measure,  Wild Spaces and Trails:

   “The Alachua County Commission has placed a half-cent sales tax on the November ballot to rejuvenate the county’s conservation land-purchasing program, Wild Spaces Public Places. Voting YES on this measure would extend the program for eight years and raise $130.2 million to protect more that 27,000 acres of parks and recreation lands that remain on the acquisition list.

 

These funds would also help pay for Gainesville’s $81 million parks, recreation and culture master plan, and fund park improvements for Alachua County and the county’s nine smaller municipalities.

If you believe saving water and land through Alachua County Forever, and improving our parks, trails, and recreational facilities is important, then vote YES for WILD SPACES AND PUBLIC PLACES on November 8, 2016.”http://www.fcvoters.org/wild-spaces/

    See you around town, or in the woods, parks and trails. Isn’t that nice.
Franque23

Did you know that 5 tons of phosphogypsum is created when just one ton of phosphate is produced? Me, neither-that’s a bad trade-off…


 

Mom takes a look....

Mom takes a look….My first born has her second born….

It got me thinking…

Gainesville back in the day

Gainesville back in the day-you tell me when? Anyway, it was at least a simpler time, call it a slower moving time? in some ways …

Of course, the grass always looks greener-back then there was no internet and maybe three stations on TV. Calls were made through operators; there were no fancy coffees but for Maxwell house which  even Millionaires couldn’t buy …

But some things don’t change…like having babies and keeping that eternal on going string of humanity going, or not… Lots of great people, some we base our thinking upon, chose for whatever reason not to have children—* Way too numerous to list,,we can just remember Newton, Mother Teresa, both Wright Brothers, Beethoven ,Chekhov and Poe to name a few who didn’t have children.  It’s not mandatory that a person have children, but how people have avoided that  DNA driven push to go on I haven’t a clue–I couldn’t.(of course, some couldn’t have children) I was 30ish when a brick like feeling hit my head and said, “Have children,” so I proposed and, thankfully, my wife did have three.

 

Home sweet home-

Home sweet home-way back in the day….(1750)

It was back in 1750 when the man who lived in this castle sired all the Von Franquemonts/ Franquemonts that are in the world today—err, I bear the name. He liked having babies…and his 50  or so kept women gave him plenty. His name was Karl Eugen, and at the time, I guess his legitimate wife(s) didn’t mind the flock.

I’ll be going to this castle soon,,,and then to the outer rubble of what is left of the Von Franquemont castle–something to look forward too.

Thing is, and why this post is about children,, is my first-born just had her second born, Kai Louis Bhaca Shiohira was born yesterday 8/15/16 in Cape Town…He’s our 7th Grandchild.

Kelly and Hiro are still dancing!

Kelly and Hiro are still dancing! Parents for the second time… Maya and Kai are lucky to have them as leaders.

The string of humanity is amazing…and the push all parents make to get children grown up is even more mind-boggling. Children are a worry and love that is never forgotten. It was when our children reached 12ish that I realized,,Hey-this isn’t for 18 or 21 years-this is forever… and it’s  great, the forever.

Trouble is, America completely misses the point. Ruled by most businesses who seemingly care not one iota for life, families, children and education of the young, American’s struggle to raise families with shrinking incomes, devalued dollars and the poorest of Family leave benefits when children are born…

In fact….as my cousin’s son flies through the skies,, his photos remind me that this family benefit/leave policy prevalent in the US is upside down….

32271_1446662118859_4151214_n Ross does a flip in the air.

Thing is, if you look at this world-wide graph of benefits given to new moms and dads, you’ll see American’s get the short shaft when it comes to having time off, paid time off mind you, to bring their children into this world in a loving, home giving environment..

ct-paid-maternity-leave-around-the-world-20160-001http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/ct-paid-maternity-leave-around-the-world-20160815-story.html

So, Basically, America as it is now stands to give no credence to the new family, the new child, the new life-the one the entire world depends upon if we are to continue.

Babies are legacies

Babies are legacies, and so much more,,,the future.

It's a growing world

It’s a growing world..How could the United States be one of just nine countries to offer no set leave time to new moms and dads as a National law?

the generations before and after us are the point

Our generation and the generations before and after us are the point.

The laws in place for Family Leave after birth in America, or more aptly put, not in place, are just sick. Personally, I find this more than appalling as an American-it’s disgusting. Big business only cares for money; why work for them; why support anything they want when they don’t even give a hoot about new life, the life that will push us forward when we are gone?

Here’s to the children, our new hope for humanity. Right now, I hope maternity leave for both parents changes here in America…isn’t that due?

My generation went to Woodstock because we believed in change--when will we get it?

My generation went to Woodstock because we believed in change–when will we get it?

Our family want to know--When will America change?

Our family wants to know–When will America change, and value children-families?

Franque23 loves his children and Grandchildren…don’t we all.?

*http://brianhassett.com/2010/06/people-who-dont-have-kids/


Owning a pool in Florida can bring on a number of problems…

but we haven't had this one, yet.

But we haven’t had this one, yet.(We have had baby ducks…?)

Our in-ground pool isn’t covered, and it features lots of plantings around it as well as over hanging orange trees and palms….therein lies the rub.

lots of plants around the pool

lots of plants around the pool

It’s about the ton of sand in my backyard swimming pool. Ours is an in-ground, standard 10,000 gallon one, and it gets plenty of use. Five grandchildren from ages eight on down have finessed the beginning art of swimming in these waters, and our 2 and 1/2 year old Catahoula Leopard has invented one thousand ways to dive bomb the heck out of the place.

dive bomb 101

Dive bombing,  101

family crowds

family crowds

About that dog-of course-it wasn’t always this way. No, the first year of his life or so he’d run around the perimeter of the pool refusing to so much as touch a toe in the water. Then, the damn broke and now I’m thinking he’s about to learn how to scale the privacy fence so he can take a dip when we’re not around.

And sometimes the our five grand children, the dog and us makes it a bit crowded

And sometimes our five grand children, the dog and us makes it a bit of a crowd

What all this means is sand-the four letter word of pools. Sure, I clean the pool often, skimming, vacuuming, changing filters, whatever, but still, the dreaded sand build up has happened over time. It all makes me glad I don’t have to clean the bottom of Lake Bonaparte up north.

You're hired, fella!

You’re hired, fella!

We have to care for the lake, but not clean it.

Anyway, about the sand at the bottom of your pool, the stuff you vacuum continually and watch as it seeps through your filter basket, your skimmer, your whatever to return back into the water. There’s hope.

simply leave the keys in your front door and walk away--there, you're done cleaning the pool.

Simply leave the keys in your front door and walk away–there, you’re done cleaning the pool.

let the dog have it.

Let the dog have it.

I’d watched that fine sand dissipate and stream through my cleaning basket long enough. This year, the year of the Meme, was gonna be different. download (4)

I immediately called the local pool supply stores or went in person to ask what could be done? Could I sell the fine sand and retire with the profit? Beside the mention of back washing sand filters, something the salespeople talked about as though it was the kiss of death that would , in fact, never work, I came away from my quest with one thought in mind: nothing was gonna help solve this problem.

What to do?

What to do?

I turned to U-tube video’s and began to read links and comments on the subject- that’s always comical. One guy writes,,,,’Problem with sand? Try vacuuming your pool, duh!’ The response was something like: ‘Hey nut-ass, if people could vacuum up the sand, why would this thread exist-you dart brain.’

After laughing, I got back to work and watched several really stupid ideas like buying one million dollars worth of stuff that might do the job. Then, THENNN, I came across this video put out by a Zen like foreign Kung-fu guy. Here was some soft spoken whack-job telling me not to spend anything, just about, and the sand would be gone… Ha haha hahahah….yeah-no, was my first reaction.

taped on hose to rod; floaty cut off for siphon tip end---

Taped on hose to rod; floaty cut off for siphon tip end—

It was only desperation that lead on to re-me watch the, ‘I can solve this sand problem free’ guy.’ Here’s the link.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVusj7KjnI0

I followed his brain dent idea to a tee. Riggin’ up my hose, I first selected the length of hose I thought I’d need to do my pool-it’s seven feet deep on one end. I cut part of a floaty off and taped it to the hose siphon end.

I cut about a six inch piece off

I cut about a six inch piece off

and taped it to the end of hte cut hose to make the suction end...this way I could push it against the bottom of the pool without hurting the  fiberglass.

and taped it to the end of the cut hose to make the suction end…this way I could push it against the bottom of the pool without hurting the fiberglass.

Because I hadn’t paid attention in kindergarten, it took me almost two hours to drop this hose and contraption rigged vacuum end into the pool so it became water full-this was, in some ways, the hardest part of the operation….I had to wait until all the air bubbles were out of the entire length of hose.

Two days later, I had the time to try the crazy free idea out. I screwed on a hose pressure  nozzle onto the the submerged  hose end opposite the rigged up siphon end while it was all still all underwater….I lifted that nozzle end up and out of the pool,,,and dragged the hose out so this nozzle end was lower than the surface level of my pool. I unscrewed the nozzle and the hose started to siphon water.

well, shoot, you can't see how much sand came out of the pool--it was about a pound

well, shoot, you can’t see how much sand came out of the pool–it was about a pound

In a delirious shock, I ran to the pool and grabbed the rod I’d tapped to the siphon end of the contraption. Slowly, the key word, I started to run the siphon over the fine sand and it vanished up the hose and out into the yard. S-L-O-W, that’s the task at hand….move too fast and that fine sand you’re trying to siphon up merely turns to dust and escapes into the pool water around and away from your siphon. So yeah, It took me three hours and about no money to completely eradicate my pool of sand…..

Weeeee, time to dive in!

Weeeee, time to dive in!

How long will this last?

It lasts at least a day. I waited this long to write this glob.

Patients is key

Patients is key

when the time's right-dive in...

when the time’s right-dive in…

Meanwhile, I’ve kept my dog out of the pool and I’m pretty sure he’s called several shrinks in the area, even the dog catcher to see if anything can be done about me.

 but hey, for free but for time and work, my once sand crusted covered pool bottom is super clean....

but hey, for free but for time and work, my once sand crusted covered pool bottom is super clean….

I mean Super Clean....

I mean Super Clean….

so cheers to Florida pool owners who put up with the sand…you can rid your pool of it for about free…go figure.

 

Franque23 loves a clean pool


This is  my birthday weekend, so I spent today spreading red mulch that’s guaranteed to keep its color for 12 months or 12 days, whichever comes first.  It seems I’m always doing some sort of yard work on the days leading up to Memorial Day. Thing is, I love the work-gardening, squashing bugs, planting flowers that will need more water, mowing, trimming fence lines, hauling piles of debris to the front for collection, spookin’ snakes and still not losing weight. Well there’s nothing new these days.

I worked on.

It’s time to open up our pool, 60 days after we started using it, and it’s all very HUGE. The jungle in Florida has a way of either being cut back or eating people-so I cut. And while I toil, I always think of my Dad. He was a Full Colonel. I think of all those who have fallen during time of war and wish none of it was true. “War! Good G-D y’all. What’s it good for?” That’s what my generation sang. The tune went very well with wine and a pocket full of joints.

Of course, there are way too many flowers being left on graveyards this weekend.

For or against, war seems a necessary evil of our time,,,no wait, for all of Man’s history. So, as I work in the yard, enjoying the chickadee, the Cardinal and Red Tail Hawk above, I’m thankful for their music that helps me forget the horror of life, and remember the beauty. I bow my head and pray for all those who gave their lives in battle as I shovel, plant, pick, spread or cultivate my yard knowing , right or wrong, it’s safe to believe the soldiers who died in battle believed they were fighting and, sometimes, dying for us. The saying is- they died to keep us free.

Flowers have a way of reminding us  how short and sweet life can be.

So it seems Memorial Day always finding me messing with flowers, or trying to enhance the small area of the earth I own. Today, the wind blew, thoughts of Dad and other soldiers I know crossed my mind. President Obama praying at Hiroshima rattle my head, and I worked.  The day, the month, the memories will pass, but it all remains tied together no matter what we do. In the end, the more a person does to encourage growth and the beauty of life the better they sleep at night-it’s called inner peace.

My day:

This popped out yesterday, just underneath the bird bath out front

This popped out yesterday, just underneath the bird bath out front

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Our gardenia by the bird feeder is in full bloom. I wonder, do birds like the fragrance?

I cut about ten per day to bring in to the house.....

I cut about ten per day to bring in to the house…..

This rascal orchid lasts about one day -and I was so happy to catch it today...

This rascal orchid lasts about one day -and I was so happy to catch it today…

the pathway in front is a riot of flowers now.

the pathway in front is a riot of flowers now.

The three Amigo's growing under the birdbath are wonderful to see.

The three Amigo’s growing under the birdbath are wonderful to see.

The yellow tea rose

The yellow tea rose

Mr. Tulip

Mr. Tulip…and

and a yellow Daisy face-three amigo's..now you know.

a yellow Daisy face-three Amigo’s..now you know.

It's great fun

It’s great fun

Today's evening silky wind blew this single Hibiscus a bit off shot.

Today’s evening silky wind blew this single Hibiscus a bit off shot.

Here's new one to us! (We don't know what it is of how it came to be)It will be about 6 inches across with many more petals at it's peak...but maybe it 's not so bad being young?

Here’s new one to us! (We don’t know what it is or how it came to be)It will be about 6 inches across with many more petals at it’s peak…but maybe it’s not so bad being young?

Not sure you can make it out, but this lavender and rose colored four o'clock is beautiful...This year , we are invaded with four o'clocks.

Not sure you can make it out, but this lavender and rose colored four o’clock is beautiful…This year, we are invaded with four o’clocks.

The garden grows

The garden grows

 as the Meyer lemons produce and flower at the same time

as the Meyer lemons produce and flower at the same time….

I’m so glad I got to help this life happen; I’m so thankful for that chance… Happy Memorial Day. Take time to smell the flowers if you can. It’s time to give thanks.

Thanks for stopping by.

Franque23

 


April showers have already brought April flowers-(Click on the pics for a much better view)

The red single Hibiscus is a simple reliable bloomer---I find the different varieties of this plant amazing.

The single red Hibiscus is a simple reliable bloomer—I find the different varieties of this plant amazing. The petal is extremely soft to the touch.

With American’s declaring war on about everything, drugs, immigrants, poverty, crime, being fat, too thin, a commie, cop, black man, social security recipient, slacker, rapper or street walker, etc….I thought a reconnaissance of my yard this spring was in order.

Our Hibiscus flanks a walkway now surrounded by twenty foot high Oranges trees, a Valencia, a red seedless navel plus one grapefruit.  I bought these on the same day about 8 years ago….at the time, they all fit nicely in my back seat.

We've nine oranges trees of differing variities but only six are yeilding-three more have to age a bit more.

We’ve nine oranges trees of differing varieties but only six are yielding-three more have to age a bit more.(Shadow stands in for a size comparison.)

I open the front door and love this sight.

The path less taken steps by the bird bath, roses and our Old Man's Beard Tree...currently in full bloom.

The path less taken steps by the bird bath, roses and our Old Man’s Beard Tree…currently in full bloom.

I remember this rose as being a Tea Rose, but the size of this year’s blooms have me scratching my head…..

The not Tea Rose plant?!?!

The not Tea Rose plant?!?!

See?

A handful for a Tea Rose.

A handful for a Tea Rose.

Nearby, underneath the Old Man’s Beard Tree, we have a number of pineapples growing. This year’s warm winter seems to have started the pineapples bearing about 6 months early…

I've nine pineapples coming, but I suspect they may be on the small size-we'll see!

I’ve nine pineapples coming, but I suspect they may be on the small size-we’ll see!

See last years pineapple came in large, and of course, I planted the tops.

See? Last year’s pineapple came in large, and of course, I planted the tops.

Over all yard view….

a bit of trimming and upkeep, but I like the feel. It's a reason to get out and listen to the birds and Hawks above.

It takes a bit of trimming and upkeep. Thing is, I like the feel. Landscaping, planting gardens for food or flowers and random trees to flower or fruit, it’s a reason to get out and listen to the birds and Hawks above.

Our “Victory Garden”* is located to the left of shot above. Beans, tomatoes, egg plants, herbs, yellow squash, zucchini, lettuce. peppers-yellow, green, red-and banana peppers, everything is coming along fine.340

My buddy stays close at hand and helps me routinely patrol the yard for squirrels…

Shadow is my backup,,or am I his,,not certain.

Shadow is my backup,,or am I his,,not certain.

Shadow reminds me each morning to check the pool for snakes or unwanted stray cats.

Shadow reminds me each morning to check the pool for snakes or unwanted stray cats.

Speaking of monring....our yard has several spots where lovely Mexican Juniper blooms appear anew each day,,dropping most pedals by night only to burst forth more blooms by morning.

Speaking of morning….our yard has several spots where lovely Mexican Petunia blooms appear anew each day,,dropping most pedals by night only to burst forth more blooms by morning.(drought resistant)

 I love these, though they last only a few days…the Amaryllis Belladonna, or Naked Lady plant…Great thru droughts, a delicate bloom in clusters. And, at the risk of turning this into a drought resistant plant blog, I have to add the wonderful Plumbago-

Just breaking out in bloom

Just breaking out in bloom

 

It's another no brainer.....a hoax head's up!

It’s another no brainer…..we should ask politicians running for any office not how a subway card works or how well the know how to eat pizza, but what they  know about growing stuff-just saying…

Just the idea of politicians planting more than BS got Shadow running in circles!

Actually, Shadow does this-if we don't run him, he runs himself like a madman/dog

Actually, Shadow does this-if we don’t run him, he runs himself like a madman/dog

 

We've three Myer's lemons planted, and they seem to bloom nearly year round, and yeild often. Plus, we have one Ponderosa Lemon,,,the kind that gives fruit as large as a person's face!

We’ve three Meyers’s lemons planted, and they seem to bloom nearly year round, and yield often. Plus, we have one Ponderosa Lemon,,,the kind that gives fruit as large as a person’s face!

The place would be perfect is I could just keep those roadsters from buzzin' the joint.

The place would be perfect if I could just keep those roadsters from buzzin’ the joint.

three children, all grown up1

My three roadsters long ago.

Now, more about the Ponderosa….

My grandson standing next to a few Ponderosa Lemons

My grandson standing next to a few Ponderosa Lemons

A meyrs next to Ponderosa

Our Meyers’ next to our Ponderosa Lemon

caught my eye this morning.

This caught my eye this morning.

It’s true, I’ve left out a lot, like the Indigenous Jasmine that towers by our front door each year( fifteen feet or higher) to scent the entire yard for months only to die back to the ground every winter,

This unusual clumping bamboo-type Jasmine blasts fragrance over at least a 1/2 acre each night.

This unusual clumping bamboo-type Jasmine blasts fragrance over at least a 1/2 acre each night.

The Mulberry and fig trees,,,you’re welcome, squirrels are very important to us.

We've two figs-the one I water regularly is twice the size of the other....

We’ve two figs-the one I water regularly is twice the size of the other….a huge Mineola Tangelo is in background(honey bell)

The side 1/2 acre features three types of orange trees, a blueberry and several invasive lantana’s the butterflies love.

a look at Shadow's 1/2 acre run, petunia's and a Chinese mandarin and Satsuma in the background.

a look at Shadow’s 1/2 acre run, petunia’s and a Chinese mandarin and Satsuma in the background.

Invasively neat.

Invasively neat. (Can’t leave the mailman out of the fun)

The beauty of Florida is not just the weather, the ocean, springs, lakes and rivers, but what a person can grow  in the smallest of yards if they would like. It’s a jungle out there, and we can nurture it so it nurtures us.

Cheers during Spring in Northern Florida.

Franque23

 

 


Phosphate mines cause cancer……

An aerial view of an open-pit phosphate mine. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is walking away from an area in central Florida where it had raised fears that residents living on top of former mines were being exposed to dangerous radiation levels.An aerial view of an open-pit phosphate mine. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is walking away from an area in central Florida where it had raised fears that residents living on top of former mines were being exposed to dangerous radiation levels. (Shutterstock/B. Brown)http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/epa-abandons-major-radiation-cleanup-florida-despite-cancer-concerns/

 

A thousand year old stand is cut in the USA to build a dam....

A thousand year old stand is cut in the USA to build a dam….

Many think  Nature is not a part of us. I recall reading books and essay’s or hearing opinions that placed Man and the Nature of our planet in juxtaposition. For so long the world of Nature has been thought to be somehow  unrelated to each of us on a personal level. Of course, Nature, and our environment is outside and inside of us on a constant basis throughout every hour, every minute and every second of every day of our lives. The Nature of our planet lives through us as part of our biochemical body, our senses and our understanding.

This is why it’s important for citizens of Alachua county to ask the commissioners to turn down the plum Creek plan. It will allow mining on our county’s East side and that’s not good.

Here, In Alachua county, Florida, the people still have one last chance to turn down a phosphate mining proposal for the East side of Gainesville-It is important for our outer and inner bodies in this county that this proposal to mine, called Envision Alachua,  is stopped. County commissioners will meet this Thursday, Feb. 25th at 5 PM , at East side High School, to hear people’s opinions on the matter and to vote yes or no. This is our chance to make a difference; to protect our environment and help Alachua county’s air quality remain as pure as it is now. If you live on the West side far away, you still will eventually breathe the same air I will or have-it’s just the nature of life and air to circulate.

For more on the huge downside of Phosphate mining in Florida, please read this- http://www.sierraclub.org/florida/phosphate-mining

It turns out the Native American saying, Be one with Nature, was not a suggestion or request, but a fact.

We all get the idea of Body Bubbles. It’s that uneasy feeling we have when someone encroaches our invisible body bubble that tells us this surrounding zone of space really does exist. Thing is, our individual lives extend far beyond our perceived body bubble. Every person, large or small,  sitting, walking or even running consumes on average about  19 cubic feet of air per day. Think of a crowded room, a meeting, someplace you have to be or go that’s full of people, and ask yourself a simple question: whose air am I breathing now?

A full size pine can produce up to 28 cubic feet of air per day....plus they absorb CO2... STill--we cut them down without much thought of how connected we as a people are to their growth and health.

A full size pine can produce up to 28 cubic feet of air per day….plus they absorb CO2… Still–we cut tress down without much thought of how connected we are as people to their growth and health.(Canada-timber company at work)

People are connected in a physical way to the nature of everything that’s around us.

People invisibly move in and out of other people’s lives through the routine task of exhaling and inhaling–we share the  air we breathe with almost everyone we encounter. More, we share our breath with every living thing on the planet. Worse, we share our breath with every non-living thing as well. Rust oxidizes, rubber will eventually break down and then there’s the way that we as a society produce power.coal-power-plant-emitting-carbon-dioxide-smokestacks-three-fired-emit-pollution-60081810 Coal power plants emit 40% of the carbon dioxide  found in our atmosphere…..

powerplant

The importance of curtailing industrial waste and smoke-any type of pollution-should not be over looked. Certainly, we can’t help but to take in pollution as we breathe but we can limited the amount of poisons our lungs are infusing into our blood streams during the process.

The landscape we live in is mapped in our heads every day of our lives.

Central Park is inside every New Yorker's lungs and mind of every day. The planner of this park got that.

Central Park is inside every New Yorker’s lungs and mind  every day. The planner of this park got that.

The planners of this mine in Canada , didn’t get it, or forgot, or maybe they were never told how connected everyone is to everything we do.

Don't look now, but these mines are wrecking our lives.....

Don’t look now,  but these mines are wrecking our lives…..

A phosphate mine is a fairly horrendous thing to our environment and to our sense of well-being. It’s time for citizens of Alachua county to stand up, to Stand by Our Plan as expressed  by the will of 75% of our voters when we passed Alachua Forever last November.  I hope you can make the meeting, or write our commissioners…. Please ask the commissioners to step away, take a deep breath and rethink passing this proposal. Vote it down.

Franque23

 

 

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