Archive for: ‘October 2006’

Spirit Journey & Manatees – Part 7

October 31, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

The next day we decided to drive down to Key West and see how far we could get. So into the car we got, early in the morning, after our café Cubanos (yum!), we hit the road.

At mile marker 93.6 at Tavernier we saw the Wild Bird Center, were curious and stopped for a tour.

It turns out that the WBC works with a surgical center in Marathon Key to rescue sick and injured birds, and rest and cure them for return to the wild if possible. Many of the “ambulatory” (or maybe that should be “wingulatory”) birds roam free, such as pelicans, and others who are worse off are caged in huge enclosures.

We were able to enter some of the large cages and see the less severely injured and friendlier birds, like pelicans. We were told about raptors being treated, like owls and hawks, but were not allowed to see them as they were not to be disturbed.

Sean and I wandered around the grounds and found lovely a dog cemetery for the center’s former pets and a really neat pristine little beach. We left a donation for the good work being done there before we left.

We would not have made it very far on this section of Route 1…

We continued with our drive on Route 1, a.k.a. the overseas highway, but only made it as far as Marathon Key, since we had spent so much time at the WBC.

We thought that we could drive there and back in one day since it was only 120 miles, but there is traffic at every island, er, key as well as things to do and see. And it got dark outside. So we stopped to have dinner at a fish place that had disposable plastic tablecloths. Sean had red snapper and I had tuna. We were both very impressed by the freshness of our fish and had a wonderful meal. Sean drove us back to the Hungry Pelican.

The next morning, I took my new wet suit for a test drive off the Pelican’s dock. The motel’s owner was cheering me on. Did I mention that it was a dive oriented Motel?

“You go girl! I told you you’d get into that water yet!” he cheered.

I did and man that water was fucking cold! I was so glad I bought a wet suit. I had my snorkel and fins on and paddled around the dock to see what I could. I could see some crabs and shy fish schooling, but that was all. I swam out a ways, but the larger fish seemed to elude me. It was like a tease. So, I came back to the dock and got out of the water. Tomorrow was our planned dive. I would rest until then. I managed to squirm and wriggle out of my wet suit, always a chore, and rinsed it and my other gear with a hose and hung it outside to dry.

Sean and I decided to take the Motel’s canoe and paddle out into the bay to look at the partially submerged wreck that was just visible from our dock. It turned out to be a tug boat and there were so many fish around it; we were amazed. We wished we had brought our snorkel gear. We hung around out there for a while, seeing what we could and then decided to check out the canals of Key Largo since that was where the manatees went. Maybe we would see one again there.

The canals were peaceful and beautiful. Most had houses and boats on both sides landscaped with tropical trees and shrubs that I just love. We also noticed lots of rental and for sale signs. So we began to talk about bringing our 36 foot motor boat (subject of another post – I promise) down and living on it part of the year and renting it out the rest of the year. The weather was gorgeous and we were alone together, peacefully paddling, dreaming of our happy future together; our own private bliss. We didn’t miss not seeing the manatee.

That evening, we found a sushi restaurant, Sushi Nami, within walking distance of the Hungry Pelican. Service was slow, but the fish was fresh and fabulous. I love eating sushi. I start with green tea. How civilized is that? Then I usually have miso or clear soup. Since I was recovering from sinusitis, hot fluids really were just what the doctor ordered. Then I will order what ever the sushi chef recommends as fresh (though I do not like octopus). The only cooked sushi I eat is unagi (freshwater eel), but I prefer anago (saltwater eel), because they cannot give you parasites. We ate there whenever we could.

Then, we would cross the street to the Baskins-Robbins 31 and get ice cream cones for desert. My favorite flavor was jamoca® almond fudge. Ah, vacation; the only way to live.

Stay tuned for the next post, when I will snorkel Key Largo!

Friday Fantasy – Sculpture

October 27, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

Sometimes I imagine that I am a great sculptor with talents that rival Michelangelo. He had his David. Most artists work from life. Do we doubt for a moment that David was a real young man, or that Michelangelo didn’t enjoy his model’s body to some extent or other? The artist can gather so much more information with hands instead of eyes.

Meet my model, Adonis. Stratis introduced us only earlier this week. I will source my white marble for this work from Carrera in Italy; only the best for my Adonis. FirstI will shape out the block roughly, then get into the more painstaking details. I hope Adonis had lots of time on his hands, as this will take a while. I cannot wait until I get to the part where I need to tilt the head, separate the chin from the neck, carve each ear as if it were a shell, carve out those biceps and shelf-like pectorals, smooth flat that pelvis, make that little vein on his arm stand out. Carving out each abdominal muscle will be pure joy. Then there are his genitals. There I will pay special attention and maybe not just with my hands.

You see, there can be great joy in being a sculptor if one has the right model. Don’t you think?

The very best thing is that when your stone sculpture is complete, it will be around for the ages, for you to touch and fondle, as well as for others. It will feel exactly like the model did.


October 23, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

Laila playing with Gus, the neighbors beagle/basset mix

Jenny on her favorite chair

MORAL: Never get two female dogs.

I learned this the hard way. I got Laila and Jenny, and Lili before them, because I prefer female shepherd dogs for smaller size, more even and loyal temperament, and prettier looks. But, never again will I get two female dogs.

It all started innocently enough when Laila was 2.5 years old and we got Jenny as a little puppy. Jenny was our little princess. She was a little upstart because she was half Belgian Malinois and that breed is known for being aggressive and needing to be number one. But since Laila was so much bigger and older, she was able to put Jenny down with no problem. We have never been able to feed them in the same room as Laila is food aggressive and we have always supported Laila as our alpha female.

Matters became more serious when Jenny turned 2 years old. Jenny made a serious play for dominance (read: they fought) and Laila gave Jenny a serious gash about 2 inches long that required stitches on her foreleg ($329). Our usually obedient dogs had turned into uncontrollable monsters overnight.

The veterinarian told us that some people had to give one dog away to solve this problem, but this was never an option for us. But then we spoke about our dog containment system. We use a radio fence that sends a beeping noise and a vibration to the dogs’ collars at a certain distance, and if they proceed, actually gives them a little (or not so little) electronic jolt. One of the options the system offers is a remote that the owner can use to modify a dog’s behavior. So, we bought one. Now, when I took them outside, I had the option of beeping Jenny or zapping her if she was bothering Laila. (Laila did not need to wear her collar any more as she was fully trained to stay in the yard and never would have bitten Jenny if not attacked.)

But, then I saw that Laila was taking advantage of Jenny’s being unable to come at her by pestering Jenny. So, I ended up putting collars on both of them.

However, Sean did not keep up with the program. He had both of the dogs out with him in the garage and they began to fight. Laila gave Jenny a gash on her abdomen near her flank and it was back to the vet for more stitches ($410). Oh well. At least that made him into a believer.

Time went by and all was peaceful. We were lulled by the peace and had stopped using the remote. Jenny mounted another attack and I was completely caught off guard, as was Laila. Laila lost that one and suffered a small gash on her foreleg. Back to the vet for more stitches (only $183!). Mind you, each time we go to the vet it costs us cash as the “losing” dog has to undergo anesthesia, receive antibiotics and then have the staples removed.

We went back to using the collars. By now the dogs are 7 and 5 years old. I would have thought that this entire struggle for dominance crap was over. But NO. I was wrong. I was on my way out to feed the koi; a very exciting time for the dogs. For some reason they got into it. I didn’t have the remote on me, just the friggin fish food, which I dropped. All you can really do is command the dogs to stop by saying, “No!” and pull on their tails to part them. But with only one person it is just an exercise in futility. That is just what I did. I tried to pull on the aggressor dog’s tail. Then that dog would fall down and the other dog would become the aggressor. I would run around to the other side and pull on that dog’s tail. Meanwhile I screamed for Sean’s help. But, we had just put up the storm windows and he was in the house watching a loud program on TV. I screamed at the top of my lungs to no avail. Ever have one of those dreams where something horrible is happening and you are screaming for help and no one can hear you? That is what it was like.

I thought the dogs were going to kill each other. Thank god they have thick fur around their necks because that is where they were biting at each other. Jenny would be on top of Laila worrying Laila’s throat, but only getting a mouthful of fur. I remember seeing Laila’s snarling snout, her nose soaked in her own blood. Meanwhile I pulled on Jenny’s tail and managed to pull both dogs along the lawn, straining the muscles in my legs at the same time. They only stopped fighting when they were tired. I know I was exhausted.

Jenny had a puncture wound on her left lower foreleg, large canine hole outside, and small canine inside. Her face was smeared with Laila’s blood. Laila must have had a cut inside her nose, because it was bleeding fairly profusely from there, but she also had a deep scratch on top of her nose and a swollen left lower foreleg. Her nose stopped bleeding almost immediately. Five minutes later, we were all sitting in the office peacefully licking our wounds as if nothing had happened. At least we didn’t have to go to the vet again. My nerves were jangled to say the least.

Sean and I checked all of the batteries in the remote and collars and the dogs are wearing them today. This morning I had to beep them once. Guess I’m going to have to warm up to the idea of having a male dog in the future.

Friday Fantasy – Another Day, Another Dollar

October 20, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

I had flown out of my usual airport, and after running with my carryon bag to make my two too close connections, finally made it to my destination city, someplace in the middle of who knows where. I rented a car at the airport, and drove to my hotel. There was no valet parking in this god-for-saken little city and I had to park in the lot. I walked up to the check in desk and got my room key. God, I hate travel for work. It just gets so old so quickly.

I rode up to my floor and walked down the hallway to my room. I entered my room, closed the door behind me and heard the shower running. Instictively, I entered the bathroom to turn it off. This is what I saw.

Maybe the trip wouldn’t be that dull after all. What would you do in this situation?

(Now, don’t tell me you would call the manager and say the room was double booked, because this is a fantasy after all. Go away fantasy spoilers!)

Spirit Journey & Manatees – Part 6

October 18, 2006 Posted by fairviewsue

I spent the next couple of days recovering on a chaise lounge on the dock of the Hungry Pelican motel. The owner regaled me with stories about how the snowy egret came to the motel the first time and never left after he was fed, and how the “hungry” pelicans came and never left, and how the pair of red shouldered hawks came to nest in the large pin oak at the motel. I could hear the hawks screeching above, just like our Cooper’s Hawks at home.

Red Shouldered Hawk

I watched as the owner fed the egret and pelicans twice a day. I got used to his routine. He would go into the freezer in the motel office, grab a frozen block of bait, and let it defrost. Then he would fill two buckets and carry them out to the dock. He would sit on a certain chair that was “his”, like a throne under a palm thatched roof. Each bird would take its own position on the dock prior to feeding time. From there, he would feed the birds by throwing the fish out singly to each bird at his own position on the dock and criticize them if they stole from each other, which happened pretty often, especially when the gulls came around. No one stole from the egret, however, all the birds kept their distance from him. The owner kept a good sense of humor about it though, chuckling to himself. It was amusing to say the least.

He also told me about how when hurricane Andrew came in 1992, all of the water was sucked out of the bay towards Florida and he knew that something really bad was going to happen. He was told to evacuate and decided to stay anyhow. It was really bad, but Homestead was hit the worst. When the water came back, it covered Key Largo and they lost some trees. Smaller keys, like Soldier Key (15 miles south of Miami Beach) were inundated and all but wiped clean of houses, trees and structures by the hurricane in no time. (See before and after photos below.) But it could have been worse, far worse, if Andrew had hit Miami.

Soldier Key Before

Soldier Key After

While I was on the mend, Sean was out exploring. He found a Cuban Café right next to our motel that served café Cubano and other Cuban delicacies. When I recovered, we went there daily for our morning fare.

Sean went to Silent World Dive Shop, which turned out to be only a block or so from our motel, and arranged for us to go on a dive with them later (I would be snorkeling) in the week. They were having a half price sale on wetsuits, he had one and I didn’t, so I needed to go try one on. So, one day when I thought I was feeling up to it, we went there and I went into the dressing room with the suit. If you have never donned a wetsuit, they are not easy to put on. I had broken out into a full sweat by the time I wriggled and wrestled myself into the thing on and zipped up. But, it fit like a (rubber) glove, so we bought it. By the time I squirmed my way out of the thing, I was completely exhausted and we went back to the motel for me to hit the chaise and see the pelicans get fed some more.

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was just across Route 1 and down and the road a piece from our motel and they had two short hiking trails there, so we decided to test my energy level there. The trails were beautiful, winding their way through the mangrove swamps, with tamarind trees and glimpses of gorgeous beach and kayakers. I was energetic at first, but then got so tired that I had to sit on the elevated board walk for a minute to rest. That was not a good sign. I guess we were going to have to take it easy for a couple more days before we hit the water.

We could see folks snorkeling off the beach, but we never had the time to do this. Another reason to go back.

The elevated boardwalks were to protect the environment. We didn’t get to kayak either.

A mangrove cuckoo. We didn’t see one, but we could have…

So, it was back to the chaise and the hungry pelicans. The owner was disappointed to see me back there and gave me some words of encouragement.

“You’ll get into that water soon, Hon!”