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I’m thinkin’ this was the entire clan in 2014?(Click on pics to enlarge.)10253849_10152642095434254_1132655158881258983_n

It was an arousing, disturbing time, a tale of two camps fraught with desperate devotion to the diversity of character. But, before the frolicking could start, there were reading lessons to give.

Our plan was to work slowly with the new readers, first by way of picture and really large print.

Our plan was to work slowly with the new readers, first by way of picture and then really large print.

The Kingdom, the king and queen,  had serious business to consider.

Blue Jeans were new to the realm so I wore the pair to perfection.

Blue Jeans were new to the realm so I wore the pair to perfection.

But would the Ne’er do wells learn? We sent out our number twelve and one half scout….

12 &1/2 scout who in truth was our number beaver and a bunch of other things.

12 &1/2 scout who in truth was our number one beaver and a bunch of other things. He’d get to the bottom of the mug.

The place was crawling with bounty hunters……

Black as night and under a full moon sometimes ,too.

Black as night even under a full moon. They call him, Ben the Mysterious.

And dang, we had to work around the cops, too. The Northern kind, cold, cunning, always cooking up something.

A badge toting hash slinger....

A badge toting hash slinger….

There were stories about those who could not read, the cops, the ‘body’ hunters….they all to be told to those who might listen.

Only a few, like one, believed it all.

Only a few, like one, believed it all.

Of course, in the middle of the grueling learning process, there was the , “Everyone Stand on a Boat Trailer,” day..

Exactly what?

Exactly what?

..All hands were on deck, but for the few snookered pirates who wore dangerous hats.

Don't ever let the grin beat cha....

Don’t ever let the grin beat cha….here or from the other wanna be dangerous hat person.



We set our sails out to see what the he*l?

Ship off and drink up, though maybe it's the other way around, not sure.

Ship off and drink up, 2014, though maybe it’s the other way around, not sure.

And who could remember, trying so hard to forever forget, the famous, “Wear a Sticky Note on Your Nose,” day?

The Universe is full of mystery.

The Universe is full of mystery.

Very little had been planned, but still subjects lined up to walk the plank/dock?10547644_10152641130119254_2725586665697732552_n

The Princess called for a retrieve…we had a dog.10527489_10152641107679254_3109956687433018332_n

A woman named Rachel plotted on how to escape-but could she make it?!?!?!10527338_10152641098749254_5162423330591262251_n Shadow and bearded wonders came in one fall of a swoop to do even less than anticipated.

Shadow, the life guard.

Shadow, the life guard. And two wonders with beards….

completely saved the day

completely saved the day

Order had been restored in a pantry.

Order had been restored in a pantry.

If truth be known, I took every order from a person so important that to this day there shall be no mention of him…..

He who will be never mentioned....

He who will be never mentioned…. So wise; so inspiring….

No this doesn’t end it for 2014, the Bonaparte Mistake. There are so many other pictures I meant to leave out!  Here’s to Meagan,,a random guest who secretly took the pictures….

Every load of disaster has worth-here, in 2014, we learned that the kayaks really belong in the water. There was the testing process, hard to the knee work, rowing, rowing, rowing…..whew!

bright side---we all learned a thing or not about boats and water.

bright side—we all learned a thing or not about boats and water.

For now from then until we meet again, I squish you ado. For now from then until we meet again, I squish you ado.

Franque23 loves the lake-


Often, learning a bit of history can teach an ear -full.

Often, learning a bit of history can teach us an ear -full.

Henry Ford wanted a car in every garage and cranked up production to make that possible for most, as long as they had a job, garage and home. Thing is, a lot is being discussed today about  what color of life matters and Americans’ are slinging their prejudices around as if those thoughts were snow balls, or water balloons or bastions of truth. No one cares who has a garage, house, or job.

After World War II, not much was different.

Troops came home to waiting wives and began in earnest to create the baby boomer generation. Children sprung from bedrooms within cheap housing as if they were flowers blooming in May. But this time in American history wasn’t a spring time in the life of many Americans, even for those who had fought in the war and returned home victorious. The trouble was, many of our returning Vets were Black, and in truth they did matter but it was how they mattered that really was the point and poison of Life in America. The attitudes and actions taken back then have created so much of the radical tensions American’s feel today throughout our society.

The housing plans marketed and sold by Bill Levitt back in the 1940’s, community systems known as Levitttown developments, had much to do with the segregation that exists in American communities today.

The need for housing was urgent after the war and the plan was simple.

FDR had established much earlier (about 1930ish)a government sponsored mortgage lending company that would enable vets to buy homes with little down and affordable mortgages. Later on, massive Levittown building sites could make the American dream of owning a home come true for all those who wanted to take that golden step up in society. Of course, by Levittown specific purchase agreements only Whites could buy into any of their homes-the Levittown’s were segregated for Whites Only, a widely celebrated fact among the White middle class. Even though segregation in housing had been outlawed as far aback as 1917, still the Levittown , White only, purchase agreements stood in court when challenged in 1955.*

This Levittown was built in Pa just after the war.....

This Levittown was built in Pa just after the war…..

Oddly, I have personal experience with this, “No Blacks  in our community,” law. 

I was born and raised in Roslyn Heights, South Park, a Levitt built community. The first Black family moved in around 1964. My dad had been one of the lucky soldiers to buy into the community and we along with our neighbors  were all as happy as claims living in our white shelled housing.

My fmaily in our South Park, Levitt built home,,about he year the Black family moved in-1965ish

My family in our South Park, Levitt built home,,about the year the Black family moved in-1965ish

A community meeting was held to try to stop the action when news broke about the first  Blacks buying one house in South Park. I can still hear my dad complaining that by strict deed he’d bought into a White only neighborhood. But times had changed since 1955 and the courts were now trumping those segregated agreements-but only for those Blacks lucky enough to have risen high within the earning structure. Beside the Levittown restrictions, Blacks also had to fight against rating mortgage systems that gave White only communities the toughest standards for approval, while Black districts were rated very low making easy to get mortgages plentiful for those areas. As I recall, this Black man who did move in was a doctor….The scuttlebutt over this Black family moving into South Park dissipated once fears of too many cars, an unkempt lawn, run down shutters and street garbage proved to be unfounded-that, however, took awhile.

Basically, Levittown’s all over the Northeast created 70,000 home communities that stood for thirty years or longer as icons of White only, safe,  well-kept neighborhoods-White only areas where middle class families could prosper and live the American Dream. For Blacks? The hard to get mortgages and outright segregated communities helped to  create the Ghetto, mostly Black housing areas many Americans now point to and exclaim how shameful those developments are today.

In truth, most of the trash talk about Black Ghettos started after WW ll with the government mortgage restrictions and Levittown’s exclusive White Only purchasing policies….

Yes all lives matter, but back in 1945, at least, the lives of Blacks and their families, even the lives of Black vets mattered less than their White counterpart’s lives-and most White people back then thought this fair. Exclusion of Blacks into White communities after the War helped lead to feelings of contempt for Blacks at the time. Those feelings of contempt for a race branded as not good enough has , at least in part, bred the ever-present hatred for Blacks that is so prevalent within American White society today. Those long ago cast feelings are an anchor to progress for American society today, and we must as a people break those chains and move on.



*From a google article on Levittown history…..

Originally, the Levitts’ racist policy was enshrined in the lease itself, which stipulated that “the tenant agrees not to permit the premises to be sued or occupied by any person other than members of the Caucasian race.” 10 That provision was later struck down in court as unconstitutional, but Bill Levitt continued to enforce racial homogeneity in practice by rejecting would-be black buyers.
Activist groups across the U.S. and even individuals within Levittown, who united under the Committee to End Discrimination in Levittown, protested the Levitts’ racist policies. In 1955, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sued federal mortgage agencies which had helped future homeowners finance the purchase of homes in the community, basing the suit on the denial of six black veterans from purchasing homes. Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer who had successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education, represented the plaintiffs, but a Philadelphia court dismissed the suit after ruling that the federal agencies were not responsible for preventing housing discrimination.
Though the Levitts made it an unofficial policy not to sell homes to minorities, they could not legally prevent an existing homeowner from reselling their home to black buyers.

We can help a young South African school aged child by donating as little as ten dollars to this link:

This post is about helping school age children who live in South Africa.  47% of the schools in many

districts have no (5)


Kelly Shiohira is organizing this effort through seeking donations from family and friends. Me? I wanted to tell you, my glob-blog readers, about this task at hand … and why I believe that with your help the effort will succeed.

But who is Kelly Shiohira?

Kelly Shiohira is organizing an effort to help students of South Africa. Kelly is dedicated to improving International Education by finding  teaching methods that might better help students assimilate knowledge. I’d imagine there’s nothing like asking a child who speaks the “clicking language” to learn from a text-book printed in English or in any other language as well!

Kelly has her hands full of challenges, but that’s always how she has liked life to be. I know.

Kelly is my  daughter.

Kelly has been in South Africa for over three years now, and before this time she taught English in a Japanese High School for five years. She’s a keen knack for devising well thought out plans and effective ways that might bring vision and intention into action.

As a young child, Kelly took an interest in music.


I rocked with my first-born at an early age. At 17, Kelly’s classical playing abilities earned her the highest rating given by an international review board


Kelly has thought big from the get-go, and has always seemed to be a bit larger than life…

While in college, Kelly continued her childhood fascination and love for  horseback riding by winning a U.S. Southeastern Hunt Seat Championship, and ran an entire stable of horses, giving lessons , etc., while earning her BA at the University of Florida.

One with her horse, Toby.

One with her horse, Toby.

Soon, her quest to learn the hardest language she could think to learn while at University of Florida  led her to go abroad to Japan.

Whle teaching in Japan, Kelly decided she'd like to wander around in the Himalayas with one other person....she did-

and, oh yeah, Kelly passed the official, Japanese government run test to show fluency in the Japanese language while teaching English to Japanese children…

During her time teaching English in Japan, Kelly decided she’d take a trip to the Himalayas with one other person.”Is this safe? Love, Dad.” She went-

And then there’s that annoying trait of hers to always want to be on top of things-the very top.

Really, Kelly? Love , Dad.

Really, Kelly? Love , Dad.

This inner drive is also what landed Kelly earning her black belt in Japan with the guys, breaking this bone or that in the process.293311_10151109849187020_138221013_n

Then came that one year at U of Penn where she was invited to join the Philomathean* Society founded in 1813 for the purpose of founding a society for the advancement of learning. Kelly soon landed a husband and then the two of them packed off for Africa after she’d earned a Masters in International Education, .

That’s really where this post starts and where you and I come into the story.

Why should we donate?

Working in Jo-burg, South Africa, for an educational firm was an eye opener for Kelly. She traveled the bush-land, Swaziland, and other remote places seeing first hand how the rubber meets the dirt roads of education in South Africa. Now, several years later, she is working in absolutely rural areas outside of Cape Town. For many, what Kelly has encountered along her way in this new region might make looking away or closing those opened eyes a reasonable choice, but not for Kelly. She opened her eyes wider, and took a hard look at the logistics and needs of the educational system in the region.

Somethings Kelly has seen there are difficult to read about, and nearly impossible to imagine if you are like me, a working American. I hate to add–in the past 30 days within Kelly’s working region, a 4-year-old child and a 6-year-old child, both in different schools, drowned in toilets that gave way while the children were using them. See? It’s all hard to imagine.

Kelly’s note is below, it explains more, and posts links to where you might help her endeavor to create healthy, working, learning environments for the children in her region. She’s asking for as little as ten-dollar donations….Two links are below, and I note that Kelly thinks the  PayPal  link is a bit harder to use, especially if you don’t have a PayPal account, where the second link is easy.

(the easy link to use to learn more and donate, )

If you know anyone who might help her in this regard……please forward the post…and I hope you now have a good idea of why and how I think this effort will succeed-Kelly’s in the driver seat.

From Kelly Shiohira:

“Hi everyone,

After a long year of working in the most rural of rural schools in South Africa, a friend and I are working hard to set up a charity that will address some of the challenges the children we interact with routinely face. While they are struggling to improve their circumstances and move out of poverty through investing time and energy in education, their lives are endangered by poor school infrastructure and their future success stymied by lack of quality education.

Our plan is to set up a charity in early 2016 with the following objectives:
1. Placing USA and UK Mathematics and Science teachers and students in rural schools in South Africa during their holidays as part of a culture and knowledge exchange.
2. Periodically engaging in community-based development projects such as maths and science Olympiads, local festivals, etc.
3. Helping the schools build safe, eco-friendly toilets and other infrastructure supports desperately needed.
We hope to have our first batch of teachers in place during the Northern Hemisphere Summer holidays, so more about that later. But in the meantime, we thought that we would start with objective 3 and try to raise money over the Christmas period amongst our friends and family to help some schools build safer, cleaner toilets. We would like to ask that instead of sending a Christmas card (I know you are all rushing to the Post Office to send me one!) you might be interested in donating money through  this link….. This is an easy link to use for donations.

We have calculated that £250 / $380 will be enough to build an eco-friendly toilet. The communities will assist in the building but require the material.

To contribute: Please follow this link if you want to use PayPal!

or this one if not….

We will ensure that the money we receive will be placed in a bank under the charity name (which…ideas and suggestions welcome!) and you will have access to the balance, and we will supply you with the details of how/what we purchase and how it is used.

We hope you will join us!” Kelly Shiohira.

So this is it in a nut shell.

I bought a fast food hamburger combo this past week that cost about $6.50. It’s odd to think about how so little of all that we have here in America can do so much in another country.

Cheers, and please help Kelly help the students she’s come to know and love. Help her make it over this next hurdle in her life. If you do, her vision and dream for a better education for African children will come true.

The children are counting on us, and don't even know it.

The children are counting on us, and they don’t even know it.





Life is bigger than any of us.

My foot falls beat a rhythm upon wet leaves strewn along the path, or through dusty sands dried by a rain-less week. Wind rattles leaves as though chimes hang from every branch; the Florida panther, Jaguarundi, bison, wild horse, fearsome gator and grunting bore live nearby. The massive Pileated Woodpecker laughs from high above as the mid-size tanager hangs perpendicular from a massive oak trunk, its expansive call echoing through the woodland. Nature’s music owns the air.

The long-eared owl silently watches, its large eyes blinking, it’s head swiveling left and right. This is no time to feel alone, but a great moment for recalling the past and looking ahead to the future while so intensely immersed in the present. Time ticks on another clock, not here with the scurrying ants, buzzing insects, the birds, trees, land and running rabbits.


This moment owns forever.


There’s a bluff that Chief Micanopy had walked so long ago, before he was overcome, conquered. The prairie below this bluff, now an expansive grassland traversed by creeks and dotted by ponds, had once been a sizable lake crossed only by boat, and then prairie once again, or rain flooded marsh; change the only constant. In this order, the majestic clouds, or severe blue skies, the morning mists full of rainbows and ever vast starlit sky follow along with the prairie as calendar pages turn, as the years pass. The changes come year in, year out, life moving forward or gone.

It seems the true measure of a person may be the shadow they leave behind, one they’ll never see.

The shadow we make lingers, stretches, expands through others that follow our lifetime. The winds will always blow-the sailor knows this as sure as the winged will balance by claw and the black bear smell a man’s breath from twenty miles off. Nature has its way of surviving. The true nature of us will survive, too. A life lived full of good intention will be a peaceful memory as all of us take a last breath, a last look around, and then say goodbye to all of it, the hurry, bustle, stress, the appointments we’ve kept and those we’ve missed. In the end, I’m certain what we have most is who we have really been. As true as the wind blows, that truth will rush through our senses with an undeniable rigidity in our last moments.

This is why I walk. I want to think about who I am, and what I’ve really done. Life is long, but never long enough-ends will be left hanging, but that doesn’t mean there could ever be a turn-down day, a reason to lose focus, to give up. Somehow, I feel the life around me, us, is always calling for us as a society to do better, to make the ends meet, and to find peace with our place on the planet.

I think of Isis, and how in my mind’s eye I’d like to hug each member and tell them I feel their pain, but it’d be foolish not to realize those same people would cut my head off. The world faces a difficult, blood soaked time ahead, but has it ever been any different? So many more civilians were killed in WWII than were soldiers, and when we speak of the deaths, we seldom think of the wounded, the transformed forever by the blasts of war, the loss of limb, or parents or siblings. My feet hit the earth as if each one is recording a massacre of life that has happened in our history on the planet.

That’s when the owl in all its wisdom hoots. How? Why? What is all this for? Walking-

Even the sperm race to battle and penetrate the egg. Is life then just a battle from its beginning, one we are meant to endure? Of course, I don’t know. I only know I love the woods, the life it holds, the life I see around me, and I want the killing to stop.


I’ve a trilogy, The Avatar Magic series , out on Kindle now….here’s the three links to each book..I do hope you’ll spread the word and enjoy these writings.

Bk one

Bk two

Bk three


Did I always love hats? How do I know? But I do remember way back, and loving those ear flap hats my mom plopped on my head during winter…. At work we sometimes wear hats to help cheer us up, or maybe scare patrons so they tow the line…”No running!” Said the Library person in the weird hat.(BTW-don’t miss link at bottom to a bunch of hat sayings..*)10431400_10204057350304255_8831791732302296920_o Hats serve many functions. Here, below, a woman is hoping to help the bee and bird population. 3-Fashions-For-Spring-Washington-D.C.-1952f This woman may feel there are too many birds-can’t tell. But she needs wide doorways which is good carpenters.

Day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse Featuring: Atmosphere Where: Ascot, United Kingdom When: 19 Jun 2013 Credit:

Day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse

Back in 1916 in Union Square-every man,woman and child wore hats…..What the hell happened to all those hats? I know. Sometime, a while back, a cowboy lost his hat and the sun burned his brain. Thing is, since he was the only one not wearing a hat, women went wild over him and had a bunch of his kids. Those kids had others, and before you know it, no one was wearing hats! This is a history most don’t know. You are welcome. emma-goldman_custom-582dd7d26710d1cc8524e8f94667bc36a1fdbf96-s1100-c15 (1) I love hats, and may have gotten this love from my mom who always looked great in hats-even silly hats. My wife’s mom was no stranger to hats, as well. Mom and Annette My supervisor has a knack for hats, too….( I have to write this-she’s my supervisor.) 1965012_786280751406619_7639099478551129472_n Me? I’ve worn a lot of different hats in my life,,,but that’s another bunch of stories, some already in this blog over the past 6 years.. 58070002 (500x427) I think people look good in hats. Hats can make a man hungry. !B9R9zD!EWk-$(KGrHqJ,!hYEze!PSTv6BM5VspRw1w--0_35 Maybe, crazy. Who wants mustard on their hot dog hat–that is just nuts. Funny_hat Boys will be boys like hats……Oh boy! Can I wear one of those? bearskin-hats They fit almost any fashion and attract attention. 6a015391975ac3970b015391e715db970b Men and women look good in hats…… al-capone some better than others. My workmates kill hats, Boom, excellent hat people. I love it! 10500375_842057679162259_7780775909333439958_n Some hats mean a lot….. 550728_10151712308875548_543007003_n Big Wigs gave way to Tall Hats Isambard_Kingdom_Brunel_preparing_the_launch_of_'The_Great_Eastern_by_Robert_Howlett_crop This is a special hat I bought in the Bahamas…It’s made of paper, and expands to any shaped head…The wind passes through it so it stays on any head, shades, and it’s very light weight…plus, it almost passes as a sculpture. 10438149_785794914788536_8051223962885830439_n Too bad I look like cow dung in it. Gotta love that hat. And a small collection others to my right. Told you-I like hats. securedownload (7) This is a gentleman’s hat, a beautiful hat, but this pic doesn’t do it justice. However, catch the stove top hat I made from paper on left of shot…. securedownload (8) securedownload Some hats just work. lisa-fonssagrives-lilly-dache-hat-irving-penn-vogue-feb-15-1950 Please don’t back up into me….. 10003197_10202770694244049_1669300592_n Another normal hat extravaganza at work- mom on the lake Told you my mom looked good in hats… snowmanwithdad Everyone should have a hat, saith the snow man. Even my brother loved hats, and he was super smart.1385356_10151989437744133_493973661_nHats about it for now….cheers to you and your hat. By the way, there’s a book called, The Man who Thought His Wife Was a Hat..(I think)..but it’s not so funny, since he really did. Anywho….byeee. Got any pictures of you in hats.? I mean, not just in hats-please. And, now that I brought this up…why is this last picture coming up on google when I search for people in hats?????-Bonus(or some other word here) picture,,,download (9) Honest,,this came up in images under the search….so I keep looking for a hat in the picture…looking,looking,looking-no hat?

Franque23 is a hat guy


here are links for both of my books in the Avatar Magic Series:
Book one, Avatar Magic and book two, The Code of Avatar Magic are on kindle now.

Okay, let’s get down to it. Mother’s Day is really about Mom’s Incredible Expanding Center.

Twelve basketballs later, this mom was still eating!

Twelve basketballs later, this mom was still eating!

Women have this thing going on that can’t be normal. It’s called nature, but  I say it’s all freaky. There isn’t a guy on the planet that ever plans on expanding to twice their size to deliver-not gonna happen. Here’s why-it ain’t normal.

That’s right.  Somewhere way back during evolution Mother Nature got it wrong and decided children should be born.

Children grown on trees is a much better idea.

Random idea for this post:

Huge pegs don't fit thru small holes......

Huge pegs aren’t meant to go thru small holes……

See below? There’s a large glob of baby that’s hoping to fit through a small opening….

Look at the phyisics...nothing is working.

Look at the physics…nothing is working.

Heck, just ask any mom how that birthing process goes pain wise and you’ll know it’s all wrong. And what ever happened to the pleasure-pain principle of running or staying put!?!? You’d think women would never sleep after all this birthing history, at least not in beds. No, if evolution held true, women would all be track stars or astronauts by now. (Remember , there are also twins, heck even six-packs of newborn siblings come along sometimes).

Eons of not learning.

Eons of not learning.

It’s important to tell a pregnant woman how nice she looks, since everyone knows people were never meant to resemble bowling balls with feet.

“You look lovely.”

“Oh, thank you.”

“Just how many of you are there, anyway?” Asked no living guy.

There’s usually about fifty pounds of an expectant mother you just can’t miss. But it’s okay-very weird-if women want to be three times the size of any other living person. Whatever—this expand-o-max routine works especially well in plane seats, movie theaters, narrow hallways, cars and couches. Nature has it all planned, for elephants. Thing is, there’s an idea or two missing when it comes to women giving birth.

For one, everyone knows babies need nourishment but Nature has that screwed up for people, too…

Eat up mom!

Eat up mom!

Who ever said size doesn’t matter never gave birth or had to walk around a pregnant woman.

Try to stay off your feet until after the baby's born.

I keep thinking about those things society used to use called phone booths. “I’ve got to call the hospital; the baby’s coming!” How did that work?

It’s all a bit screwy. Other animals have this  worked out-they give birth to small things that triple in size almost over night once they’re down and out the shoot. Not people. No, people like to give birth to babies with huge heads, and that part comes out first! “Perfect!”, said no mother during delivery.

All this should be happening on a children tree.

All this should be happening on a children tree.

People, every one of us, are freaks of nature. Maybe, that’s the problem with Mankind. God, or the Gods, placed bets that none of us would ever happen. When we did, they just threw up their hands and began to drink heavily.

I guess we’re all miracles, and most of all-Mother’s.

I hope you have a huge, Happy Mother’s Day.


here are links for both of my books in the Avatar Magic Series:
Book one, Avatar Magic and book two, The Code of Avatar Magic are on kindle now.

As I see it, no one remembers him, only the booze, the drunken swagger, and slow drawl that crept out from beneath his handle bar mustache. They remember him old, defeated, not so much more than a has been from a more than forgotten time.  Thing is, that time was our time.

We laughed together as kids maybe more than you ever will. That’s a fact I can’t prove but the words speak for themselves. Things got exciting when Grady came to the lake. We were young- there were a million boats to ride and hillsides to climb. Later on, when we got cool, there’d be booze, of course, but much more humor. Ideas would flow between us as my cousins, Robin and David, gazed with Grady and I at star light or the flickering flames of a fire that needed one more log. The heat from our fires back then was unreal, and it always dispelled any notion we might have had that good times could ever end, that things could ever change, and even be forgotten. Grady had the spark we’d  waited to see all day though few who are alive today could ever believe it, certainly never know it, or think that possible-he was a drunk. I suspect that’s what people will say, or think now.

Like my cousin Robin, or David, who bowed down to the power of booze, Grady was no different, but for his name, his life, and his spirit. Thing is, anyone who only reads the last chapters of a book and then claims to know what the entire story was about is wrong. Grady’s ending belies his life, a life attested to by so much that still stands today by our lake house,or, actually, inside it as well. His life stands inside my heart, too. You see, more than the painfully perfect rocks walls that Grady built along the road way to our camp, and those rock walls are a challenge to any who ever built one to try a do better, the dry wall of our camp loft and more were meticulously done by Grady. Forty-five years later, not a seam of tape is showing in those joints, and the fittings have always been perfect.

Grady, I owe you. Not just because my parents loved you so dearly, but because you gave so much when you could.

It gets down to this: I loved this guy. I loved hearing his unique voice, a raspy, deep woodmen’s sounding one, and the twinkle in his eye. When he spoke, people listened; and when he laughed the world did too. His rock walls at the lake will always be wonderful to see, a fond remembrance. Of course, only my cousin,Robin, may have drunk more, I don’t know. My cousin David may have taken a close third place. All are gone now. That is painful, but what really matters to me is that I will miss all three, and often hear their voices, their laughter, in the wind as it comes off the lake.

We had it all for a moment as we grew up together during our summer time spent at the lake camps-we were so young, and it was so much fun. Sunlight glimmered just for us.

Grady, I may be one of few who know how much you did for my parents, and for the beauty of the East Shore road up at Bonaparte. I may be one of the few left who remember you as a kid, with eyes shining bright and laughter so light. Thing is, I want you to know-I miss you already. You were honest, a friend during the years I wish I had back. I’d guess, most anyone who really knows you feels the same.

Goodbye Grady. I wish I could see you again. We’ll have to wait and see about that. We always wondered what would happen. Sometime, when I pass, we’ll know.


I raked off the winter cover-not too many weeds to pull-at first....Shadow knows a job is at hand.

I raked off the winter cover-not too many weeds to pull-at first….Shadow knows a job is at hand.

I’ll use the wood stalks seen here above Shadow as climbers for pole beans and tomatoes–they’re from our indigenous jasmine that grows 14 feet high a year during summer, and then dies off in the winter.

These are the only two tools I'll use to plant this garden-my dad's 65 plus year old , American made rake and shovel.

These are the only two tools I’ll use to plant this garden-my dad’s 65 plus year old , American made rake and shovel.(Broccoli in background is from fall planting, and still yielding.

Being thirty-five is sooo different from being 65. I was always in such a hurry back then-“No time to play kids, I’ve got to garden!” Now, Shadow makes a game out of shoveling, raking and, yes, it screws me up, but this is so joyful!

He's gonna get that rake if it's the last thing.....

He’s gonna get that rake if it’s the last thing…..

Whew! First time through the garden--all the top weeds have been pulled

Whew! First time through the garden–all the top weeds have been pulled

I timed the process-It has taken about 1 and 1/2 hours to get to this point…..

The soil's been turned once by shovel, and now the bags of top soil /composed are laid out

The soil’s been turned once by shovel, and now the bags of top soil /compost are laid out

Turning the garden over shovel-by-shovel is laborious… It took about two more hours to get this part done. (3 1/2 hours total to this point)There’s a rhythm to that task though, and it gives me time to think about the beauty of our world as I go. Red Tailed Hawks circle above; Sand Hill cranes fly by: I listen to their calls and the soft sound of my shovel turning the earth over.

You might wonder-why not a tiller? It would do the trick, but also it would be loud, and heavy-not me at all, and I think I’d lose my spiritual connection to the earth that the old-timey method of hand shoveling brings to mind.

AND-there’s this. A tiller would chop up the weeds I’ve missed during the first weeding-those underneath the ground as well.This first shoveling helps me unearth the problematic roots (Florida Betony)….How many roots?  Here’s the collection and their weight after this first shoveling.

25.6 pounds of Florida Betony root pulled i none shoveling---they'd be about 3 times that much if allowed  to grow through spring.

25.6 pounds of Florida Betony root pulled in one shoveling—they’d be about 3 times that much if allowed to grow through spring.

Next, I shovel the rows, quickly flipping earth into raised lines—this took another 30 minutes.(4 hours total now)

The rows are ready

The rows are ready- I once asked my squash and zucchini seeds and they said they like rows as well as they like mounds.

I hitch my shovel under my arm and pretend I'm a plow horse as I drag it over the rows to flatten their tops.

I hitch my shovel under my arm and pretend I’m a plow horse as I drag it over the rows to flatten their tops. I sometimes neigh, if I know the neighbors aren’t listening-that could be bad.

It took ten minutes to flatten the tops of all the rows

It took ten minutes to flatten the tops of all the rows-Whoa boy!

All my victory garden needs now is seed holes, seeds, sun and water….

I use the top of my shovel to make the seed holes.

I use the top of my shovel to make the seed holes.

The holes take about ten minutes to make--but dropping seeds in takes another 30 minutes, at least.

The holes take about ten minutes to make–but dropping seeds in takes another 30 minutes, at least.

There’s more to do,( It’s taken about 5 hours so far) but for now I’ll wait for the plants to sprout, and then use mulch neighbors from all around have conveniently raked and bagged and put along the roadside for my taking!(actually for the garbage pick-up.) The mulch will go between the rows, and I’ll use about 30 bags I manage to find curbside over the next two months.-Stop, load those bags into my car whenever I see them, and drive away….

Thank You for raking....

Thank You for raking….

There’s more garden fun coming—-stay tuned and enjoy your time outside, growing food.

In all, by the time I first got the tools out, did the deed, and then cleaned up and showered off, it was about 7 hours later when I sat down and smiled….


here are links for both of my books in the Avatar Magic Series:
Book one, Avatar Magic and book two, The Code of Avatar Magic are on kindle now.

(click on pictures to make them larger.)

No, the country didn’t land in our lap, our daughter and family flew in from Johannesburg, South Africa to help pick and eat our oranges.  My daughter has been picking oranges all her life, starting with my dad’s trees in Satellite Beach, Florida. She’s an absolute pickin’ pro, and when she heard about our crop this year, she had to come( She may have had one or two more reasons for making he two-day flight.) About that orange crop in our yard this year! Boom! Smash, whoa-what a doozy, who could count all of them? Well, me-almost down to the last orange-those are still left to pick.

We've picked over 1200 oranges form our property since Nov. 1st*

We’ve picked over 1200 oranges from our property since Nov. 1st* This tree has about 200 more on it, the Valencia will ripen now through February …

We have so many oranges, I’ve started throwing them for Shadow to chase instead of using tennis balls—it’s all good!

Shadow knows I might throw an orange or two when I pick a bunch,,,he waits bye

Shadow knows I might throw an orange or two when I pick a bunch,,,he waits by.

Then, I fling an orange and wait for its return.

At first, I didn't think Shadow would pick up an orange. Ha! This is Shadow-he who eats anything....

At first, I didn’t think Shadow would pick up an orange. Ha! This is Shadow-he who eats anything….the oranges are fine to use after double tasking as balls

Speaking of eating, like I said, Kelly and her family came to eat.

The plane flight was worth it

The plane flight was worth it—-her daughter didn’t fall far from the tree! She’s not letting go of that orange.

But, it wasn’t all about eating oranges. Reading was a foot!

the cousins had the best time, and Dale kept the pages turning....

the cousins had the best time, and Dale kept the pages turning….Shadow, however, only wanted to watch his ‘T.V.’

Fun Times in Bookville...

Fun Times in Bookville…

Of the 1200 hundred we’ve picked so far, only about 55 have gone to waste, thanks to our daughter’s families appetites, our neighbors, church groups and workmates got bunches, too. Heck, even our doctors got oranges.

Our trees inside and out were covered with oranges.

Our trees inside and out were covered with oranges.

So it was an orange you glad to see me kinda of Holiday this year. Next season-who knows?!?! It’s mostly all in the weather.

It was so great to have Kelly and her family visit form Africa this year, and see the cousins and sisters get together.

It was so great to have Kelly and her family visit from Africa this year, and see the cousins and sisters get together.

It’s such a joy to see family, and to grow food, too.  See one another whenever you can, and plant those trees and seeds as well.

Cheers from Florida! Franque23

here are links for both of my books in the Avatar Magic Series:
Book one, Avatar Magic and book two, The Code of Avatar Magic are on kindle now.

It’s a big house, we have so many rooms.  They all seem full. Our daughter and family from South Africa will stay for many days, but never enough.  Added, we have more family visits-a montage of cousins, their parents and relatives happily shuffle in and out. Some days, I cook for thirteen, other days, just for  five.

rockin- around the Christmas tree...rooms full of crumpled wrapping paper, toys and people.

rockin- around the Christmas tree…rooms full of crumpled wrapping paper, toys and people.

Of course, the stay means more than just having numbers of special people in our house. My two daughters and their children light the moon and beyond with their glow. My ears hear their laughter and the children’s mischief-rocking, rolling, young ones banging against banisters and struggling to open outside doors we have locked for security.

The ruckus really starts outside. So many riders-rolling plastic look-a- like cars, peddle pushers and simple gliders-wheels roaring down our block of a hill as our grandchildren swift by while beaming smiles through their cheeks and eyes.

(I think if you log into FB you can watch this one minute clip.)

There’s no sense of urgency; no bills to pay; no time to keep. Today is forever. For a brief moment, my daughter from Africa can share a face to face laugh with my daughter who lives a mere thirty minutes from our house. We can can make faces, laugh, and even touch one another.

There is a world full of sand to discover and mold in our hands!

There is a world full of sand to discover and mold in our hands!

Cousins  best teach one another how to slide through life!

Cousins best teach one another how to slide through life!

Heaven arrives in many unexpected ways.  Now, part of that light is gone. Our house, the halls and the rooms feel empty, maybe forgotten?

Our oldest daughter has left for Africa.

It's time to cross another bridge.....(Kelly and Hiro in Africa)

It’s time to cross another bridge…..(Kelly and Hiro in Africa-Swaziland , I believe.)

The company is gone, and my wife and I are back to two.  We sit tonight in such a house, full of empty halls and unused bedrooms.

It was a great Holiday for us.....

It was a great Holiday for us…..

Our home feels as empty as my work place a few days before the holidays.

Tonight our home feels as empty as my work place was a few days before the holidays.

The road doesn’t thunder with the sound of fun that should never stop. Life, or maybe the lack of it, is back. My wife and I sit together as two grandparents on a couch once more…waiting; loving; hoping; and praying for safe journeys.

Safe travels as our loved ones take off into the sunset or motor back home.*

Safe travels as our loved ones take off into the sunset or motor back home.*


*This is Cassie Anderson’s first acrylic painting. She gifted me this painting. It depicts my cousin and I fishing in the sunset-a favorite pastime of ours.

here are links for both of my books in the Avatar Magic Series:
Book one, Avatar Magic and book two, The Code of Avatar Magic are on kindle now.

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August 2019
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