Archive for January, 2012

Dr. Matossian – Relaxing – Recouperating

For those of you who know our friend Cynthia Matsossian, you know she is a very focused person, skilled eye surgeon. and very busy, always.

We were surprised when she called to say she wanted to come for a visit – flying in on a Friday afternoon (into Gainesville) and fly out on Sunday morning – by herself (her husband George, who runs her ophthalmology practice, was too swamped with a number of projects).

So I drove up to get her on Friday and we returned to pick up John and the dogs for a cocktail picnic at the Shell Mound park.

Cindy at Shellmound Park

That part was particularly funny. Because we have a one bench seat truck, three adults and two dogs could not all fit.

So, I laid down in the truck bed, along with Bucks and John lowered the lid — not closed but lowered – and off we rolled.

Buck's eyes may be cloudy - but still expressive!

I wish I could show you Buck’s  when the truck started rolling. Eyes widened, Ears perked, Legs moved to touch my chest, arm. “What’s going on, Mom,” he silently said.

Daisy joined us in the truck bed for another trip

Good thing we were together. After a few minutes, he calmed down and we had a lovely ride, with a different view from the sides of the truck bed lid. It was particularly beautiful when we passed under trees.  And there was a nice massage to my back with the truck vibrations.

John and Cindy on Shellmound Dock

Anyway, that all went well and I made a youtube video on Daisy’s puzzling out the boardwalk to the dock over the water. I posted it on Facebook but let me know if you’d like the link.

Shellmound Dock. Never tire of this view


At the Town Beach -- Birding!

Pitching the ball for Daisy

John and Bucks Catch a few winks

Friday night we dined at the Blue Desert – walked to dinner – and Saturday we toured around the town, ending up on the beach for a late lunch and leg stretch.

A new way to use the picnic table?

"Aren't cha coming?"

Saturday night, we dined at the Island House Restaurant and met the owners: Peter and Gina.

Terrific meal and interesting people we look forward to hosting some time soon.

Gina - owner of THE ISLAND ROOM - good restaurant!

John and Cindy at THE ISLAND ROOM

Then we met our neighbors at the BLACK DOG – a terrific cigar/bar where you can smoke cigars you buy from them inside.

They also have two nice docks on street and bay side.

Black Dog Outside, Dock Street Side

This was our first foray onto Dock Street at night. Don’t know how an establishment makes a living with the scarcity of patrons…..on a Saturday night.

Black Dog Insid

Black Dog - cool chairs

Cindy has an incredible curiosity and was committed to going with the flow so she said yes to nearly everything.

Cindy - checking out the chess match

She also seemed to be checking out this place for future visits — noting what George would like and the pervasive calm atmosphere on the island. She was a terrific guest and friend and we are glad she came.

Dr. Cindy - Relaxing

I am also pleased to share that Cynthia is also being recognized for her professional medical contribution at the international ophthalmology conference this upcoming weekend.  She has created a new technique for cataract surgery that has less impact on the patient, and she is presenting her technique to her colleagues.  I think that is so cool!  It reminded me of the characters and situation in the book CUTTING FOR STONE.  Doctors who love their specialty, constantly drive to improve their craft and skill.  BRAVA CYNTHIA!  We love and celebrate you!

In closing, I must mention that we missed Cindy’s check in time by 5 minutes at the airport – and as she didn’t have her boarding pass printed out, she was stuck – because the desk personnel leave to board the plane at 30 minutes before takeoff.

It was frustrating to see the gate and not be able to go.  Then we find out the only way she can get home that night (for she was due in surgery in the morning) was to fly out of Jacksonville.  So we load up, drive 1.5 hours further and drop her off at the Jacksonville airport and turn around to head home.  We could have called Ellen Emerson or my cousin Kim, but we had two dogs in the house and had to get back. Fortunately we’ve made friends with our neighbors and left a key behind so they let them out for a midday pee.

SEVEN hours later we are home,

Fired up the bar-be and

After a long drive....let there be fire!

mmmmm - hickory smoked

cooked up the chicken I’d been marinating in buttermilk for two days, had a bonfire and got a little toasted ourselves. And I spent all day Monday recovering – rather tired was I!

Keep the conversation burning!

Today, I feel like myself again. Good thing. Planing a dinner for some new friends who are about to leave.

Maura: You were right.

That’s all for now.

xo Laura


Each Year, at the CEDAR KEY RV PARK, the Tin Can Alley touring group of Vintage Recreational Vehicle owners gather to relax, give tours of their pride and joys, and have a good time in a beautiful spot.

We biked over from our house Saturday afternoon, long after the official tours were over, but never-the-less (love that phrase), we got to see some sweet mobile pads.

Terry and Bob were originally from Rye NY but are now full-time FL residents.

Terry said she was initially dead set against moving to FL.

But she tried it … First year, two month – next year four months – then six months – and when she found a good artist community in the Ocala area, she gave thumbs up to the full-time move.

Their sweet gig centered around a small pull trailer that is swathed in 60’s glamor. . .  as were they.  Fun and happy.

interior of LOST IN THE 60's Trailer

Next door to them was a different kind of pop up.

We grew up with a pop-up tent trailer – whose sides pulled out to become beds. But this one just pops straight up, with hard walls. Kind of nice so you don’t have the wind resistance when pulling it along.

Whose eye can resist a winged micro trailer?

And look at this doll’s mobile home!

Dolls Mobile Home

Everyone we spoke to did their own work — and the stories as to where they found the trailer were just as colorful.

Interior of Surf Shack 1

Like a Rolling Stone Home!

interior of surf shack 2

All the details of the period included

Vintage Accessory!

Riding home, we stopped by the LOW KEY INN’s Tiki bar – on the back side, facing sunset —

Low Key Motel Signage

What a cool bottle-cobbled building. While we were checking it out, a group of people swarmed in, carrying snick-snacks of all sorts.  Friends from near and far, gathering for the sunset ritual!

The room swelled with happy-happy-joy-joy.  Wish we could have joined them.

Low Key Motel Tiki Bar on the Bay

Sunset from Low Key Tiki Bar

But our destiny that night was set for downtown supper and pub crawl.

Catch you up on those antics soon.

xo Laura

Laura-Don-Jean PLUS Talapia Farming

A few more shares of our Don and Laura Visit.

We also met our neighbor Jean – a friend of our landlord.

A former NYC lawyer, she is now full-time retired in Cedar Key.

After our boat journey, she joined us at the park beyond the cemetery – where the board walk ends and people come to fish, picnic and play.

The Gates of the Cemetery - leading to the park

Fishing the Bay

All good things come to he who will but wait (and keep the faith)

Don and Laura were finally able to open the Champagne they’ve been holding –
waiting for his deal to come through.

good pals

What a happy thing to celebrate!

Picnic into Sunset

Sunday morning, we met with Denny Voyles and his wife Karen to make a connection between Don and Denny.
Denny and Karen met in Minnesota – at a state fair – and clicked instantly. They knew about Cedar Key from one of their parents, who’d retired there.  Then they decided to raise their family on a farm outside Cedar Key b/c they didn’t want to retire someplace they didn’t know anyone. (that’s a pretty good idea – live where you’d like to retire!)  Karen worked in TV news back then but now is a journalist with the Gainesville Times
Besides being a fishing guide, Denny teaches many subjects at Cedar Key Middle school and is embarking on a tilapia and Greens farming project, which our friend Don knows much about.  It’s a closed loop system where the water of the fish tank is recycle into micro greens and then filters back into the fish tank – each feeding the other as they both grow to edible size.

Captain Denny and Karen Voyles

He gave us a tour of his school and projects –

Future Farmers of America Awards

he’s won so many future farmer award, the ribbons are stacked up on the shelf.

A bin of fish they are raising in the classroom

He is a model teacher, the kind you never forget, if you are lucky enough to have one of such skill and passion.

He left two of these fish in the summer, and came back to a clan!

Location for the talapia farming - back of the school

and his passion for the tilapia project is driven by the desire to show the kids how they can grow their own food as well as to supply the local food pantry with protein and fresh greens – much better choices than the boxed pasta that is the usual fare.

Hydroponic Planting Project

Good use for an old boat!

A Family Tree of Heritage

After that very enlightening visit, we walked about town

Bicycle Art!

Stone Crab! Yum!

and then returned home to share a final meal of  stone crabs.

Stone Crab Nose Ring

Laura learned young how to use humor, no matter what the situation, and always finds the funny in things, crab claws are no exception.

Is there more?

What Daisy Wants Most B-A-L-L

A wonderful visit -all in all!  Til Next Time xo, Laura


A few posts back – in our “walking about therapy” – we spied a unique fire pit cooker in the backyard of Laura and Jerry Beckham. She told us it was made by a man in Chiefland – a welder –  on rt 19, north from Chiefland to Fanning Springs.

So last Wednesday, after our chiropractic appointment – and the walmart shopping -in the sheeting rain, we ventured north, seeking out the Hogan Brothers and a Cowboy Cooker of our own.

“THERE THEY ARE!” I called out,


sighting two of the cookers on display behind a chain link fence at the front of a complex of buildings,

It was strewn with boats, golf carts and large equipment and forges and anvils and a collection of dogs and

Larry Hagan

LARRY HAGEN – the custom designer of a Cowboy Cooker.

What a face!  What a Jolly, Engaging fellow.

Turns out, it was his son who first started making them – based on ones he’d seen out west.

Iron Well Cap - Repurposed

The base is the iron cap of an oilwell pipe – the top of the cap becoming the bottom of the fire pit – where Larry added a lever to open or close the draft — I now finally understand:  OPEN the draft to increase oxygen and HEAT!  CLOSE the draft to reduce heat.

Extra Feature: rig for the coffee pot

Larry and Laura

Larry Fashioning our hooks

Larry considers his cookers a work of art and an improvement over his sons design -who has since moved on to greener pastures.

Larry pointed out the unit’s features – such as the legs – “I could-a used a smaller gauge pipe – but these legs will last your lifetime and I bend ’em myself.”

Each cooker is a unique inspiration: deciding  how much he twists the iron on the pokers and hanging bars and the number and placement of the real horseshoes on the unit.

The beauty of this unit is the swing. Both the grate and hanging bar swings out.  He even has a rig for the coffee pot to hang over the fire – so you can pour a cup without removing the pot,  —“just tip it over and pour it out” (extrapolated from “I’m a little tea pot”)…Also the grate can be raised and lowered by a pneumatic lever to accommodate cooking temperature requirements!!

Well – we looked at each other and knew we had to have it — crazy as it seemed – to buy a 150 pd grill – when we’re renting for two more months – but we had to have it!  It made us giggle.  And in an odd sort of way, it was our throwing down the gauntlet – our declaration that we want to put our footprint down in Cedar Key. So for the price of a day’s fishing trip and a dinner out, we could take it home!

After the confirming handshake, Larry got busy making us a few more hooks for hanging the pot and gathered up the log turner and meat turners and told us to throw some hickory wood in our trunk as well, to get us started.

He is a passionately spiritual man, sharing stories of learning from a horse whisper about how a horse feels his rider’s energy – and then grabbed my hand -“You believe in the spirit? Close your eyes and tell me when  you feel my hand is over yours, just grab it!” he said with shining eyes.

Fish and Croc in larry's Shop

Larry Finishing off the hooks

Larry makes his living making boat props

Standing Anvil

Another Larry Heater

Larry's Workshop

We reorganized the back of the truck so Larry and I could slip the cooker  in on its side (the swing arms are welded to the pot)

“Heck, you can drop this in the road and it won’t break” Larry said as we bungied the truck lid (fortunately the rain had subsided) and off we drove.

Talk about giggles — placing this cooker in the back yard continues to bring us smiles. Our own horseshoe print – declaring our commitment to coming back. (Like the guitar at the end of the movie: The Goodbye Girl)

With the rain, we had to wait a day to try it out – and it was torture!

But on Thursday — after an early morning appointment in Gainesville for  John’s back,

Light 'er up!

We gathered round to light our first fire on a cool afternoon.

I had to go off to my Art Therapy class at 6 but John continued to enjoy the fire – relaxing him – and by the time I got home (8:30) he was sacked out on the couch.  Outdoor fires do that!

But now, the ultimate test.  We wanted to roast oysters on it. So on our way back from Gainesville on Friday (for John’s second cortisone  injection), we stopped by Jeanne Beckham’s place – just off Rt 24 – following the red OYSTERS sign, painted on jagged planks of wood – leading to a simple long, covered loading dock, framed by an office, work shop and large, walk in cooler – where we bought a PECK of oysters (1/4 of a Bushel) in a burlap sack for $10.

Ten Dollars.  For about 40 oysters. Think about that when you next order oysters at a restaurant.

Pick a Peck of Pickled Oysters!

Of course…there’s some prep work for serving oysters as well.  I’ve got the slits in my thumb and index finger to prove it.

Gloves and a proper oyster knife will soon be purchased.

But what a joy there is in the process.

Now --- here's the strategy

Martin Shucking the Raw Oyster

We invited Lonna and Martin, our neighbors, to join us, and he shucked fresh ones and then showed us how to steam them –

Steaming Oysters

placing the oysters on a piece of corrugated tin and topping it with burlap –

Direct Roasting

We also roasted them directly on the fire.

And everyone was satisfied. 

Lonna waiting for the steamed oysters

Now clams will be much easier – but then, clams are not oysters!

Can’t wait to get another peck and test out what I’ve learned!

Iron Pot for beans, stew, pot roast

In the meantime, I plan to make a pot roast in the iron pot we got to cook over the fire pit!

Got a pot to cook in?

How much fun is this?!

(so long as I keep a handy supply of band-aids)

till next time – xoxo Laura



Saturday Jan 21  2012.  Sunny and Bright.70’s.  Heading for the 80’s on Monday. Soon we’ll  wear  lighter weight clothing without layering.

This post catches up with our visit from Don and Laura Wood — Sarasota friends .

Don, Laura, John, Laura Sarasota Circus 2010

We first met Laura in New Hope and discovered she grew up in Glen Rock – a few years ahead of me.

Then Laura met Don, who hails from Texas and Colorado.

Laura’s been pushing for us to come winter in Sarasota and was skeptical about our decision to roost in Cedar Key.  Her friends called it “the place to recover from a nervous breakdown”  She also wondered about the house we would be in – would it have good beds?


As a realtor, she has a skilled eye for property value and as a bon vivant of the world, she has cultured a certain level of taste and style preference. She is mad about her “pretty little city by the sea”

and her condo overlooking the bay, with sunset views

and the lovely span of bridge over to Long Boat Key.

Laura and Don's sunset view condo




Sarasota Harbor - some pretty big boats!






But for a get-away place, I do not have her tolerance for traffic noise, of which there is a lot in Sarasota,

– on both the streets and  water.

Nor do I desire an abundance of concrete and buildings.

We went to Gainesville the last two days (for John’s Dr. appts.) and I found I still don’t miss that  jungle style – not one-eye-ota!

(whoever first lets me know where that expression came from, and how you spell it, wins a peck of Jeanne Beckum oysters.! But ya gotta eat ’em in Cedar Key)


We were sure Don would love the area, but we really didn’t know if Laura would like our little world on this island. . .

We did, however, know she loves boats (and Vinegar and Salt potato chips), so we booked Captain Lloyd and packed a lunch for the day.

Laura Pearson Wood and Captain Lloyd Collins










The waters surrounding Cedar Key are magnificently beautiful,

with many islands, oyster bars and wide open views unobstructed by any buildings.








And on this day we were treated to the bounties of the sea beginning with the pod of dolphins who followed our boat for a bit





and then white pelicans, clustered on an island.







White Pelicans are communal. They hunt and eat together.

I wonder what makes one species cooperate while another operates individually and competitively?

I suppose the same question applies to our human species as well.

Are we naturally communal but have it driven out of us for imposed cultural requirements?

Or is it in some DNA but not others?


Captain Lloyd then headed out to the Shell Mound area,

Approaching the Shell Mound Inlet area

which is the beginning of the national bird sanctuary –

and the location of the indian shell mounds —

an enormous mound – hill – small mountain, actually

-created by discarded shells of the indians – over a period of 3500 years.

John's on the second level of the mound (two more above him)













Higher Shell Mound Hill: Bottom to Top

The highest shell mound - top to bottom shot












We’d previously visited it on the land side -it looks like a watery African Savanna.

View to the water from the shell mound


From the observation/fishing deck at the Shell Mound areas water edge










Laura's Eyes were Satisfied by the Beauty that day










Captain Lloyd then motored along the coast, heading south,  back toward Cedar Key, pointing out the islands of his youth.


Black Point Island

At Black Point he said there used to be several house, with a beautiful natural spring, and when he’d visit his friend there – he’d bring buckets to haul back the delicious water.

Now the islands are empty, bought up by the federal government. But the pools around the point are good holes for trout and redfish.








We each dropped a line and Lloyd tried to teach us, showing us were to cast –

but the Lauras both missed nibbles and the captain was the only one to catch!

Laura Pearson Wood & Captain Lloyd



Buttermilk soaked baked chicken, celery & carrots & hummus and Chips!










With a nice lunch on board – even the captain liked the buttermilk soaked, baked chicken

– we had the most lovely cruise as our eyes were bathed and quenched with unending beauty.







sandy deserted islands











The first night, we took Don and Laura to our local restaurant (Blue Desert)

more of the Blue Desert Collection










And on Saturday and Sunday we feasted together with marinated ribs and stone crab claws (a tradition with the four of us)

– – and toured the town









. . .where we endlessly pointed out houses that tickled our senses and Laura pulled her funny faces


We were also so very pleased to be with Don when he got the call of a long-time-waiting deal that finally came about.

Nice to witness his relief and joy.

By the end of the trip, Laura had picked out the B&B room she wanted to stay in upon their return.

And on their way out-of-town, they picked up a bag of 150 clams for $15 (it costs $30 in Sarasota)- and had a feast with their friends  who got an earful of what the NATURE COAST has to offer.  Don called and said they were planning a caravan return trip!

Good thing we found were to buy a bushel of oysters and the right cooker to roast them on….(next post)!

xo Laura


WEATHER REPORT, SATURDAY  1-14-12: As Chicago finally revels in their first snow, the cool airs have permeated the south as well. Heat’s on, gloves and socks donned.  But it is gloriously sunny and bright today. SUNDAY: Warmer, Fresh, Bright.

I write to rocking music, listening to my PRINCE station on Pandora – via our roku TV connection. Some new technology, I love!

CURRENT NEWS: As John’s back mends, he has good and bad days. We were relieved to hear the chiro say the herniated discs would be self healed in about 6 months with proper rest and exercise. So on Friday, after pressing into feeling bad as he sat outside reading, John declared: “If I’m going to die, I’m going to die walking!” and got up to scour the neighborhood on foot. On Saturday we retraced his steps.

“Walking,” he declared, “is such a different experience from driving around.” I shot him a sidelong glance and smile, to which he added “I think you said that last week sometime.”

Strolling the sidewalk along the bay, waving at Moe Beckham selling his wares (mullet dip, shrimp, stone crab claws) at a makeshift stand on the corner, we got to see the egret mamma and baby,on the hunt for – what type of food is in that mud there?

Teaching the young-un how to hunt

Stairway to Heaven? Uncle Toms Ladder?

and wonder about the ladder leaning on the post

Soft, Whispering, Giant Pines

and touch the softness of the towering pines clustered together.

Across the street he found a curious circle of homes, most of them facing the water.

A grouping you’d never see just passing by.

Old Florida Style Home

Old Florida Style Home

Most of them facing the water – tucked away,

Continuing East along 24 –


We passed Sandy at her Th-Su Produce Shop – with 150 clams for $15

And spied the Saturday fishing along the bridge, as the tide came in.

Note the miscasts, witnessed by the filliment caught on the wires

fishing casts lost

Many were breaking open oyster clusters – for SHEEPHEAD Fish.

clusters of oysters

Why they are called that, no one could tell me, but later on, at the bait shop,

Doug at his Bait Shop

Doug told me they are tricky fish to catch -“you have to pull them up before they bite” — now how do you know to do that. “Like I said – they are tricky fast”

John had explored several bait shops along his walk but some of them “talked too fast”.

Doug and Wendy's Bait Shop

We like Doug and Wendy’s shop.

We’ve been hankering for an outdoor firepit and came near to buying a metal chimenea – like the one we have in New Hope.

But then we saw the right idea:

Gerry and Laura Beckham

at Laura and Gerry Beckham’s home right by the bridge. Gerry’s a clammer – “I got the second lease!” and Laura move to the area from Ct after a divorce – “couldn’t stand the cold anymore”.  They met when she was selling clam seed for a South Carolina distributor.

THE fire - grill pit!

But the point of this story is their fire pit-swing grill!  Made up in Chiefland by the Hogan Brothers – it uses iron horseshoes and the cooking grate moves up and down and swings out — perfect!  It will cost a lot more than that chiminea we passed on but – oh, what versatility.

Garrett - WHAT A LOOK! Love it

As we were talking with them, Garret came by. Look at those white boots. I think a pair of them will have to be in my closet soon!

Island Girl Cakes

We tried to stop by ISLAND GIRL Cakes but she was out to lunch. But we loved the sign at her door.

Other side streets led to a source for blue crabs.

crab cages

After his walk on Thurs, John went to town and stopped in to see Nancy at DeJaVu Consignment, who had promised to loan him her cocktail shaker – for our three month stay!  Bless You Nancy.

kiss kiss for cocktail shakers

He then drove into town (3/4 mile) and checked in with Deb at the bank, thanking her for all the good advice she gave when we met her at the Welcome Center. And met a woman on the beach who was travelling from Oklahoma with her 90+ mother – taking her to Datoyna Beach to see her sister.  Then he saw Patty and Captain Lloyd at the motel – checking in with them before stopping by Andy’s at the auto repair shop b/c our truck door locks have been acting up. “Its only about a 40 dollar part, if that and a lot better to fix it now than get stuck and wait”

He came back tired but rejuvenated. “You know, walking about this town is a lot different from driving,” he said. Amen to that,baby.


There is an art cooperative in town, which we joined in support.

Thursday, we stopped by to see two exhibits – One was of quilts. Wow, these people made some beautiful fabric art: check it out. (click to enlarge)

Maura Dress

All squares are images of Cedar Key

The other was a photographic exhibit of WATER WOMEN and FISHERMAN.

Mermaid quality

The photographer created magic.

Joan Beckham - Oyster Woman

Reminds me of Jennifer

Then, on Thursday night, I went to the first of an ART THERAPY class, where we are drawing andallas each week, expressing our feelings.

The Mandallas are a universal symbol and a woman named Joan Keller (I think that’s correct) has identified universal themes and meanings in the color, shape and placement uses.

There are six women and an art therapist in the class which will run for 6 weeks.  I had no idea what I was getting into but you had to attend the first class to attend at all. So, since it was free, and a nice way to meet people, I showed up.

The women represented quite a range – All current or recent locals except me.

A cook who is works with her husband 24/7 – who sent her to the course so she had no idea what it was about – a mother earth former cook (missing it) who has lived all her life on Cedar Key, a busy mother with a family biz in aquiculture (who actually had art skills), a professional woman who seemed to have a psychological background and another local who loved all things jungian and a 90 year old woman – sweet as a button – who came because the instructor told her to and was a bit uncomfortable at the start – as we all were.

Then we got to drawing.

Sandy - the instructor

While I am ever fascinated by psychology – I feel gun-shy about therapy – b/c I’ve experience and witness too many people getting caught in their head – and paying a therapist to listen to it with out providing a way out. I’m not a big therapy proponent.  My mandalla began with some shapes I like and then turned into a journey picture – with hills on the left, leading to the blue islands and large, festooned birds and some sort of snaky, orange island on the right — circled by the blue cosmos and the orange souls who watch over us – and the unknown pink matter inbetween.

What it means? I don’t really care.  I’m loving the place and this adventure. Anyone else’s interpretation is just not my business.

In the meantime, I’m going with the flow and seeing where it leads.

Happy Sunday!  xo Laura

Chiropractic, Shopping, and Manatees

Today’s Weather: Leggins, Socks, Sweater, Vest, Gloves – Clear and Sunny and Cool. High 50’s forecast.

Wednesday took us up to Chiefland, where the closest shopping is, to see a chiropractor and do a bit of shopping.

Thursday we hung around the hood – while I put in a good six hours on my client’s website – and then rolled into town to check out the art and give Daisy her run on the beach.  That night, I joined an Art Therapy Group! in-between – lots of new people and info.

Here’s the report. (click photos to enlarge)

Chiefland is about 40 minutes away, on back roads, rolling past signs for fish and plants and oysters…

Green Fields for Cattle to Carouse

.with wide grassy plains with cattle and tall spiky pine forest farms – with small houses

Pine Forests

clustered in-between.

Shopping in Chiefland is minimal but adequate.

We began the day with an appointment with Dr. Richeson, a semi retired chiropractor who was fabulous.

Dr. Richeson in Chiefland

He moved me in ways I’ve not been moved in years and he had all the tools to read John’s MRI’s and bent him over on a cart, having him raise and lower his back like a cat.  Big difference in my body

Ah, what's that?

Wal-Mart – as we’ve discovered – has everything and the prices….well, we all know the pro and con reality but….Hasn’t every society gone through the push-pull of changing economies of scale.  Think of Sears & Roebuck Catalogues and how they changed our societies shopping! Of course, the classes have been catalogue shopping for over a century – overseas!

I recently found an old, beautifully bound book that was the catalogue of a high-end goods store in England (the same one Princess Di shopped at, I believe).  It was the across-the-pond resource for high-end households.

I’m very glad I don’t live 15 minutes from a Wal-Mart but I’m also glad it’s close enough to reach. I posted on Facebook how astonished I was to find that my dog’s diabetes meds was 1/3rd the cost as I’d been paying at CVS and other pharmacies. 25 vs 80 bucks.  Every month that adds up. And it was the very same manufacturer.  nuf said.

Besides the Wal-Mart and Winn Dixie (where every 50 bucks gives you points for cents off gas – and we got 40cents off on our last trip – we stocked up for guest –

KIPS - like the 202 shop

there are also several thrift, consignment, second-hand and antique shops. We’ve checked them all out.


At the thrift shop, I picked up my new favorite comfy fleece pull over – huge in size, odd green in color, textured and lovely for banishing the chill — on the water, on the walks and stilling around outside. $1.50.

heavy cotton fabric

John got a cool yellow shirt, great fabric, barely used – $1.50.

Carafe - 5 bucks! perfect

Kips is a great shop for household goods. It’s where John picked up two heavy, crystal, sea oat etched highball glasses for $3.  And I scourged though the .93cents shelves to find

Lynn who owns Kips

fabulous Tupperware and other such containers to make our home work even better – including two nice carafe!  It’s fun, inexpensive and green!

Ginger Snips!

Pretty Dull Road - 19 through Chiefland

On our way home from chiefland, we’ve been taking side roads,

Which Way is Which?

to explore the vast stretch of wilderness along the Suwannee River  – one is Manatee Springs.

walkway to boat ramp on Suwannee

A campground,

boat launch,

Walkway end at the Suwannee

walkway to the Suwannee and

swimming hole where the Manatee come in the winter to birth.

land along the water - stub like growth - eerie

We didn’t see a one, but we met a woman who was there last Feb and she said she waded right into the spring pool area to pet them.

Last January they recorded 441 manatees.

John caught a sturgeon once - prehistoric looking creature

One of the birds on our birding list - also waiting for the Manatees

What can be created out of Spanish Moss? So much of it!

I think I’ll call ahead in the future – as it’s a 6 dollar entrance fee.  Only paying to see the manatee, thank you.

Campground amphitheater - John Presiding

The conduit for the Manatees into springs

We wiggled on back roads from the Manatee Springs to 347 – finding a few other boat launches –

Suwannee, how I love ya..

Someone's Dream Machine

And then drove the 9 mile trail through the woods, where birds are supposed to gather.

Nature Drive in Federal Park along Suwanee

Not much action. Best to come back and park, to walk or bike.

On the way home, we stopped at a place for oysters.

OK – 12 Oysters for 5 dollars.   Wow. And there were more than 12 – as many were stuck together in twos and threes.

Tower of Oyster Shells - what do they do with them?

Harvesting Oysters is all they do – witnessed by the shell tower.

Workers relaxing at end of day

We roasted them…


.first unsuccessfully on the grill and then in the oven.

But even then, in the morning, after leaving them to soak

so I could use the shells in our soon-to-be fire pit,

I found 6 more we missed on the clustered ones.

I think that’s enough for one post.

I’ll get onto writing about the art stuff for tomorrow’s post.

Have a great meal tonight!  Happy Friday! Love, Laura

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