“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Moonrise Long Key Florida by JJ

Moonrise on Long Key State Park, Florida by Janson Jones

“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for.” ~ Alice Walker 

Okay, so I’m back. Finally.

Brett’s last day of 11th grade was Friday. Eamonn’s graduation is tomorrow afternoon at 3. I am looking forward to Eamonn graduating, but I am not looking forward to the actual physical aspect of the ceremony. Huge crowd, people all together in the convocation center, hunting for parking. I can feel my claustrophobia setting in already. But it’s all for a good cause.

Brown Noddy Garden Key by JJ
Brown Noddy, Garden Key, Florida by Janson Jones

I told Eamonn that we wanted to take pictures of him in his cap and gown before we leave. Of course, he is not looking forward to that.  Trying to get Eamonn to stand still for five minutes to take a picture is almost impossible. He bitches the entire time. We did pick up his senior portraits, though, and he is quite handsome, if I do say so.

My niece graduates on Tuesday, and my old friend Chris’s son Gordon, who is the same age as Eamonn, graduates on Wednesday. May I just pause here to say how fricking old this makes me feel.

So in an effort to make myself feel a bit better, I gave myself a manicure and pedicure. I’m trying to keep myself from taking scissors to my hair again. One of these days, I’ll be able to visit Cathy so that she can fix the haircut I gave myself. Until then, I hide the flaws with the waves. It’s much harder to see an uneven cut when the hair is wavy and dark.

“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.” ~ Corita Kent 

All of the pictures in this blog are from Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana blog. He spent several weeks back in Florida a few weeks ago, and he has been posting some wonderful pictures.

Crocodile Lake Nat Wildlife Refuge Key Largo by JJ
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Key Largo by Janson Jones

I thought that I would share some selections with you in tonight’s post. The images are from several areas of Florida, and include birds, toads, frogs, moonrise, sunset, and several other wonderful subjects. To see what Janson has posted so far, click on the link.

I love this picture to the left. Everything is so verdant and lush, and there is an air of mystery about the whole location—as if in walking down this path, you are walking back in time, into the wilderness.

Speaking of which, I had a horrible dream last night in which I took my camera and started beating it against a metal porch rail. It was horrible. Actually, the whole dream was horrible, full of betrayals, lies, violence and broken glass. Anyone want to interpret that one?

As always, I told Corey about my dream once I woke up, but it was one of those weird ones where you can wake up and then fall back to sleep, and the dream continues. I always think that when that happens the dream is more meaningful somehow. But how exactly? I have no idea. But I always end up feeling disconcerted for the whole day when I have a dream like that.

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” ~ Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Star Trek: The Next Generation 

In helping Brett to get his work completed for the end of the year, I reread Macbeth and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. One of my graduate classes was a special seminar on Conrad. I don’t remember the exact reason why I needed three credits that I couldn’t get from the regular schedule, but I got approval to do an independent study.

Broad Headed Skink Blackwater Creek Florida
Broad Headed Skink, Blackwater creek, Florida by Janson Jones

The advisor they gave me was J. J. McNalley. He was a character, spoke in quotes all of the time. I liked the man tremendously, but would have preferred someone else for my advisor. J. J. thought that it would be splendid if I did research on Joseph Conrad. I would have preferred Virgina Woolf.

But I digress . . .

“Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.” ~ George Sand

After I reread Heart of Darkness I started to think about Apocalypse Now. So I rewatched the movie. Although, the movie itself is still hard to watch. It is so full of violence and disillusionment. Just like the real Viet Nam war.

My favorite part is still the air cav guy played by Robert Duvall. I think that the Lt. Colonel Kilgore is probably my favorite Duvall role. He plays it to perfection.

Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz is written to mirror Conrad’s Kurtz, but instead of ivory, the movie’s Kurtz is collecting people, souls. The movie plays Kurtz as having a mesmerizing voice, just like the Kurtz in the book. Brandon’s voice is perfect. The epic line, “The horror. The horror,” resonates.

“Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Eastern Six-Lined Racerunner Bahia Honda Key by JJ
Eastern Six-Lined Racerunner, Honda Key, Florida by Janson Jones

Other than that, Brett and I have watched Harry Potter 5 and 4 in anticipation of the release of The Half-Blood Prince. Yes, I like Harry Potter, and yes, I’ve read all of the books, at least three times. I’m actually quite sad that there won’t be any more additions to the series. The characters in the books grew up with each new book in the series, and I really admire the way Rowling made each successive book darker, keeping in mind that her audience was getting older, and the story necessitated moving from 11-year-old concerns to encounters with truly foul individuals, like Dolores Umbridge.

Yes, the basic story is about good versus evil, but characters like Umbridge are perfect antagonists for students: the teacher with the treacly sweet voice and the imperviousness to common decency. The one who addresses a room full of teenagers as “boys and girls.” Blech! Just thinking about this character makes my skin crawl.

That being said, I’m looking forward to the next installment of the movie version, even though we all know that it has an incredibly sad ending.

Other movies that I’m looking forward to are Inglorious Basterds, with Brad Pitt, and Public Enemies, with Johnny Depp. No. It’s not for the eye candy. Quentin Tarantino directed Basterds (yes, with an e), and Michael Mann directed Public Enemies. I love both directors and am hoping for a couple of good action movies that don’t involve large robots.

I know. It seems that I like both ends of the spectrum, but really, I’m pretty much at the action end unless it involves Tolkien, Star Trek, or something to do with literature. And no, I haven’t had a chance to see the new Star Trek. I’m still debating over that one. It’s hard to let go of the originals, even though I hear that the update is pretty solid.

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Mediterranean Gecko Mt Dora Florida JJ
Mediterranean Gecko, Mt Dora, Florida by Janson Jones

And just let me finish by saying that I don’t have anything to wear to my son’s graduation. Oh, I have a closet full of clothes, but I feel like a sausage in everything that I own, which reminds me of a post that I read on Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezin’s. Zirgar delved into that sensitive area of being overweight.

Perhaps delve isn’t the correct word choice. It was more like broached the subject with a sledgehammer. It did remind me of the fact that I live in an area that is replete with woman in stretch pants, and shall we just say that stretch pants are not the most flattering attire for their body shapes?

Why do people do that? Seriously, why, or even how does a very large woman push herself into purple stretch capris with a cropped top? Now before you get riled, this is not an indictment on people who are overweight. I have no room to speak on this particular issue as I am carrying around more poundage than I like. What I’m talking about are people who choose to wear clothes that are too tight, too revealing, too skanky, too young, and too fugly for words.

I know that ordinary people do not have extraordinary loads of cash to spend on clothes when they are just trying to get by. But I shop in Target. I know that you can look on the 50 percent off rack and find a nice shirt for $7, a nice skirt for $8, a t-shirt that actually fits for $4. If you are going to buy clothes anyway, could you at least buy clothes that fit, or that are flattering, or cover up most of the private parts of your body?

Am I being too harsh? I don’t mean to be. I suppose I just don’t understand certain mindsets. Of course, if you are perfectly comfortable with your body, that’s great. If you are overweight, no one is saying that you have to hide in the house. I have worked with a few overweight people who dress to the nines and have wardrobes that made me salivate.

For me, the issue is not the weight or the body shape. The issue is fugly, ill-fitting clothes. Unless you are Rush Limbaugh . . .

Then the issue is not bouncing on your toes and making your egg-shaped body look like a Weeble (as in “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”).

Great Egret Lower Matecumbe Key Fl by JJ
Great Egret, Lower Matecumbe Key, Florida by Janson Jones

Aren’t you glad that I used this beautiful picture instead of a picture of Rush?

And with that, I shall close. More later. Peace.


Some Thoughts on George Sand and Collecting Shells at Kitty Hawk

“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved” ~ George Sand

“Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.”

Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, first known as Aurore, better known as George Sand is one of my favorite literary figures, not so much for what she wrote, but more for who she was and what she did. For one thing, she had an affair with Frederic Chopin, my favorite composer. But more than that, she did pretty much whatever she wanted to do, which, for a Baroness in the mid 19th century, was quite a feat. Although she resisted the label feminist, Sand’s actions, both deliberate and chance, were quite out of character for her time and her station in life.

A Young George Sand

Sand left her first husband, the Baron Casimir Dudevant, by whom she had two children. However, it was not this separation that gained her notoriety. Sand was fond of dressing in men’s clothing, which she found to be more comfortable than the restrictive clothing that was fashionable for women at the time. In her heavy pants and jackets, she went where she pleased, places where women were often not allowed such as restricted libraries and museums. Waiters were often confused and did not know whether to address Sand as a man or a woman. Sand also openly smoked cigars and cigarettes, another societal custom reserved for men.

Sand enjoyed flouting society’s traditions, and abhorred the double-standards for men and women: ” . . . people think it very natural and pardonable to trifle with what is most sacred when dealing with women: women do not count in the social or moral order. I solemnly vow–and this is the first glimmer of courage and ambition in my life!–that I shall raise woman from her abject position, both through my self and my writing”  (Sand writing in a letter to Frederic Girerd, 1837).

Sand enjoyed affairs with many lovers, including Jules Sandeau, with whom she collaborated on some writing projects and from whom she adopted her pen name, George Sand. Other lovers included Alfred de Musset, a poet and dramatist; Jean Pierre Félicien Mallefille, a novelist and playwright; Chopin of course, and she corresponded with Gustave Flaubert. Sand also had an affair with the Parisian actress Marie Dorval, and in correspondence identifies Dorval as her one true love.

Sand was known as temperamental, bitchy, hard to get along with, a terrible mother, moody, loving, possessive, spirited, and ahead of her time. Sand was a prolific writer, producing several short stories, eighty novels, including Indiana and Lélia, and twenty plays. Lélia is often considered to be one of her most important works. Written in the first person, the character delves into deep introspection, eventually coming to lose respect for the men and society in which she lives, as well as losing her beliefs in love and god.

Sand is often considered to be the most gifted female writer of the 19th century, breaking new ground for women, especially in the area of writing novels:

“The world will know and understand me someday.
But if that day does not arrive, it does not greatly matter.
I shall have opened the way for other women.”

Unfortunately, Sand’s popularity did not extend much beyond her lifetime. Her books were overshadowed by her male counerparts: Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas. And Sand is best remembered as the female writer who wore men’s clothes and smoked cigars.

“Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.”

Magic Hour

A few posts ago, I wrote about how Corey and the boys and I used to go the the Outer Banks for day trips. Well, I thought that I had written a poem on one of our first trips down there together, and I had. I found it, and I thought that I would post it as a companion to my piece on George Sand since she was such a believer in being in love, even though she never had much success in long-term relationships.

Collecting Shells on the Beach at Kitty Hawk, N.C.


As we stand together at the shore,

searching for stones

and the smallest of shells,

the outgoing tide pulls the sand

from beneath our feet,

steals our balance,

shifts our perceptions

of what we believe we know.

I catch you watching me,

although you pretend to see

something beyond my shoulder, past

the waves. You comment idly

about the warmth of the water,

the hurried race of the sandpipers against the tide,

the tiny crabs that scuttle past your toes.

I smile inwardly

at your forced air of nonchalance,

for I recognize the charade

for what it belies:

Shades of fear that tug at your heart,

tell you, too soon, too soon.

But I am unafraid,

for I already perceive

what your casual comments cannot conceal.


I have not really come to this place,

where salt water meets solid sand

to sift through the sea’s detritus

for nature’s hidden pearls.

I am here to watch the sun

dip low in the western sky,

to catch the striations

of the rays’ pinks and reds

as they are absorbed by your eyes.

I want to see my reflection

bathed in rich ruby hues,

as I would have you see me,

sensuous and aglow,

so that you will know,

so that you will attend what your heart tries

in earnest to hold at bay.

I want to tell you what I know to be true,

but you must arrive at this epiphany on your own.


This denial is futile—

You cannot stem what cannot be contained.


I was once told

that in the seconds before the sun

gives way to the moon,

in that coming twilight

Ondine arises from the waves,

and casts her magical net on the waters,

hoping to capture her one true love.

And those unaware of what they have seen

will be kindred souls,

mated throughout eternity.


I watch the final band of crimson

dip low on the horizon

and I feel the warmth of your hand

as you lay it gently on my back.

Perhaps, at last, you too

have heard the seduction of the sea nymph’s song.

It is not too soon to heed the call.

The enchantment surrounds us,

dances on the tips of the waves

and pulsates in the air about us.

I think about the legend,

and whether the magic is real.

I pray the sea revealed her soul mate

to Ondine, in the mists of the gloaming

as I have discovered mine,

here, among the pebbles and the shells.


July 19, 2001


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