Posts Tagged ‘Cowboy Cooker’

FEBRUARY – OFF TO THE RACES


Whew – whirl-winding our way through a short month makes it go all the faster.

Painting Buckets All Ready to Go at the Art Center

Painting Buckets All Ready to Go at the Art Center

I know many people feel, and dislike, the warp speed of modern living – our days whipping by, our time not our own, our moments blurring one to the next with barely a breath to appreciate.

How did it get this way? I remember hearing my parent’s friend’s converse about how “fast time goes”.  Still a little girl myself, I was anxious for those days to come upon me.  As a child, life went so slooooowly, sitting on the curb, trying to think up something to do, waiting until I turned xteen to do whatever.  Everything took soooooo long. But I don’t think my parent’s and their friends were operating at the break-neck speed our time seems to require. Is it technology driven?  Despite having more options to communicate – most seem to do less, having no time for tea, a chat, an evening together, a phone conversation, a hand written note, letter, thank you.  We just keep speeding along.

Even here, in little Cedar Key, the pace of doing can create a slippery slope of too much.

Too Much Doing.  — Never thought I’d hear myself say that – because I love doing.

However, it has become very apparent the the right kind of doing is essential for balanced maintenance.

tree in balance

tree in balance

Take Yoga, for example.  A wonderful woman named Kathy conducts free yoga classes on the island. They are wonderful. They have a devoted following.  I wanted to be part of that following but the Festival work truly sucks up all my time.  I can’t seem to break away at 2 for 2 hours (yoga is an hour and 15 – but on CK – the pop-up conversations extend the time commitment.  The last time I went was in late January – I know because when I decided to pop in again last week, I discovered a folder in my yoga bag with some important papers that had gone missing. Fortunately it all worked out fine – but it was a good reminder to keep a balanced doing – and I’m happy to report we’ve “done” a few fun things over the past month.

SEAHORSE ISLAND TOUR

The first weekend of Feb we toured Seahorse Key = a gorgeous island off Cedar Key with a LightHouse. It only open 2x’s a year – because it is a bird rookery – where the sea birds nest undisturbed – and the cottonmouth snakes lie beneath their nests, feasting on the fish that gets dropped – while keeping away the rats and racoons who would raid those nests, if they had a chance.  They say there are nearly a 1000 snakes on that island. We saw not a one. (However, I did nearly step on one during our walk in the scrub one day — and I’m told I made quite a LEAP over it.  Both the snake and I were terrified)

Seahorse Island Light House

Seahorse Island Light House

Up the tower steps

Up the tower steps

One Way

One Way

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Classic

Classic

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cacti growing in the chiminey

cacti growing in the chiminey

Lemon Trees on the Island were FULL and we were welcome to pick

Lemon Trees on the Island were FULL and we were welcome to pick

Finally met up with Captain LLOYD at the Island!

Finally met up with Captain LLOYD at the Island!

Jeff's Happy at the Top

Jeff’s Happy at the Top

top view

top view

top view

ART OPENING – MOSAICS

That same day we also popped into the opening reception for the Art Center’s monthly exhibit – this time featuring  Mosaics . OH, WOW.  beautiful and  stunning work. I had no idea mosaics could be so painterly.  We scored the mosaic that is the FESTIVAL DESIGN selection at the art auction last month.  Now I see more work that makes my heart pitta-pat.

Winning Mosaic!

Winning Mosaic!

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SARAHS CLOTHING

Also on exhibit was Sarah’s Clothing Art. Sarah is a full time resident who loves to create with fabric.  She works part time at the consignment shop and has first pick of the cool stuff – that she then reworks into even more cooler stuff.  I felt MORE WOW! She epitomizes the spirit of “Gotta keep creating to have a happy life”.

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AIRPORT

While at SEAHORSE ISLAND, we met a couple who were oddly dressed for the island trip: big leather handbag, italian loafers, but we got to talking with them and discovered they had just flown in from the PALM COAST in their two-seater CHINESE WAR PLANE.  They were with 5 other planes and would be taking off on Sunday – flying in formation around the island before heading back for home.  Sunday morning, I suggested we go over to the airport and check out the planes and I’m glad I called it when I did because when we arrived, they were all getting ready to take off.  1950’s Chinese War Planes – 2 seaters – circa the Korean War – very interesting and they they took off, giving us a great air show as they fell into formation and circled around Cedar Key several times before flying off.

Our friend Martin told me he saw one of them earlier in the morning, who had left before the rest of the group, as he flew by his house.  But then the pilot circled back after he saw Martin’s HUGE American flag – the one he got from a battleship (sorry, I forget which one) he’d been stationed on. The flag, which Martin only flies on Sundays and Holidays – caused the pilot to swing back around, maneuvering his plane to cause the flag to “dip”.   A way of showing R-E-S-P-E-C-T  …. Tell you what it means to me …..

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TIKI BAR COCKTAILS

After nearly two months here, we finally got to the cool, funky, handbuilt out of lumber and old bottles TIKI BAR – which is attached to the Low Key Motel, where the best sunsets are caught.  They now have a full liquor license and made some nice martinis to go along with the sunset.

 

STARGAZING HAYRIDE

We also enjoyed a “Hayride” though the scrub for a star gazing tour.  There is an annual, weeklong event where serious stargazers gather in Cedar Key and part of their program includes a ride through the scrub with a star expert and a naturalist.  Although it was a cloudy night – and there was no hay (only molded plastic boxes), the clouds parted, we saw stars and had a good time.  Nice to get out into the wilds at night yet still feel safe.

We also went to the Valentines Dance on the 14th , followed by an impromtu dinner at our house  on Friday the 14th with Lonna & Martin and Linda and Chris Reynolds, followed by a date to the BLACK DOG CAFE for dancing at the 3rd year anniversary (John and Linda made a hit on the dance floor!) followed by a peek at model T fords from a group that came to town, followed by a big blow up between John and me – we were very raw and tired out from all and everything – but we worked it out – and it was a good stress relief!

“WAY DOWN UPON THE SUAWNEE RIVER, FAR FAR FROM HOME”

Getting out onto the water is what it’s all about here for us.  So when Bill Roberts suggested we cruise down the Suawnee River – having lunch in the town of Salt Creek at the mouth of the Suawnee – there was nothing to say or do but GO!

So Jeff and Suzanne Krieble joined us on that wide, wild river.  We saw one small alligator.  That kind of put a damper on it for me — all that wonderful water but no swimming??!!  Someone later said the alligators don’t bother you but I’m not sure I want to find out, personally. We were also told that GIANT STURGEON is the real hazard in the Suawnee.  They pop up and out and have caused many a boating accident and even death – because they are huge and come flying out of the water, knocking people out.  Didn’t see any but would love to catch one.  Have you ever heard John Matson’s story on catching a sturgeon in the Canadian wilds? That’s a good one – ask him!

Captain Bill Roberts

Captain Bill Roberts

Suzanne

Suzanne

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Suawnee Area

Suawnee Area

sights along the water

sights along the water

SLIDE into Alligator water

SLIDE into Alligator water

Suawnee Man

Suawnee Man

TENT TIME

Last year we were given a great pop up tent by my brother John and sister-in-law, Lisa. While my John resisted it for a while, once it was up, he was delighted having a tent over his outdoor office table.  But it got crushed in a pop up storm (remember that from last year’s blog? The very night of a big party we were deluged by sudden rain and wind – ripping apart our backyard set up and then disappearing just as quickly – leaving us to reset up and enjoy the evening)

Anywho … so we (I) researched tents whenever I could squeeze it in – finally settling on one that balanced cost and strength.

Now my husband is the most brilliant strategist and thinker I’ve ever met. But as an engineer – not so much.  So I was delighted when Jeff volunteered to help.  Whew – a good way to avoid marital squabbles. The Kernel (as I call him – completely spelling it wrong on purpose), came over with his ever-present cigar and took charge – in such a nice way – and up the new tent went – taller than last years, with screens and RED!  The Kernel likes to call it the party whore house.  But I want to tell you all the ladies love the color, so there you have it.  We are up and ready for the month of March when three sets of friends are swooping in for a CK visit.

Jeff and John (Kernel & Thatch)

Jeff and John (Kernel & Thatch)

Kernel Jeff

Kernel Jeff

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My Hammock

My Hammock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOAT BUILDING

The Kernel likes to call John “Thatch” …. short for “Mr. Thatcher” as he is always having to accommodate his life to my work schedule.  One of the things he is doing is actually building a model of a boat he admires.  Billy Mac gave him that model kit year ago and I gave John grief for bringing it down, sure it would sit around here as it had in New Hope. But he is proving me wrong – albeit cursing the directions at the same time – an building this thing.  It may be tossed in the ocean at the end – but I’m proud his is “getting it “done”

Da Boat!

Da Boat!

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taking a break

taking a break

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“YOU SAY ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY”

Feb 19 is my day to reflect – and on this year, my 58th, I feel a bit sanguine.  Due to some shows we’ve been watching and some books I’ve been reading,  it is front and center how my personal if isn’t what one would call “significant”  That’s the term a woman on HOUSE OF CARDS used to describe her ambition.

Don’t take me wrong – I don’t feel my life has been insignificant.  I can feel its value, created by caring about life, people and an authentic journey that still has me feeling whole and true. A far, far better feeling than I witness in those (on TV and real life) who squander their own integrity to “get ahead” to become “significant” or “powerful” or rich at any cost.

In the world I live in, I am not a “player” – by choice.  Somehow, I recognized that many of the superior things one can achieve in life come at a cost to one’s very soul – and that was not my goal this time around.  I have never been one who strives to be a politician or kingpin who use power OVER others, to gain control.  Yet that is what seems necessary to get celebrated in life.  Those people — who hoist power over others, to have their own way,  rather than sharing power with others for mutual benefit — seem to get all the attention.  While all around I see many more people who live life true and quietly and honestly – and uncelebrated.  I’ve never wanted fame – but I do hope I will yet have the opportunity to bring attention to the heart-centered life, rather than the head-centered ego-busting-BS that gets passed off as “success”. That is my wish for this Birthday.

We celebrated quietly – starting off with a lovely painted sign waiting for me when I opened the back door. Sweet Johnny.

And a nice coconut cake, my favorite

And a shopping trip to Gainesville where John kept getting me to try on clothes (which I hate to do) but he is so good at picking them out!

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WOK THIS WAY

One of the downsides of WORKING the Art Festival is the inability to enjoy our Cowboy Cooker. Making a fire to cook dinner outside is just too time consuming in the schedule right now – but the other day, I stopped by the local RV and picked up some wood so I could make dinner in the new WOK that Larry had made for me.   It felt so good to build the fire and prep the food and wok it into deliciousness.  It was what I was missing in our Cedar Key life and it felt so good to be back at it.

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Cocktails and Dinner continue to be a very important part of our day – and we make delicious ones nearly every night.  But it is the reason why I get up so early to get things done …. so when the day’s done, John and I can settle in with each other over drinks and a good meal.

Hamsteak dressed up with Blue Moon Acres Micro Greens!!

Hamsteak dressed up with Blue Moon Acres Micro Greens!!

SUDDEN STORM

On Tuesday morning (feb 26) I heard rumbling around 6am and rose – to increasing winds sheers that eventually burst into a drenching storm – cracking off tree limbs and crushing a dock and generally reeking havoc.  I watched our tent sway – but fortunately it was not in the path of the crushing whip of very bad weather that cruised past the front of our house.  The tent stayed strong as the puddles piled up.

drenching!

drenching!

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Afterwards, I walked Daisy and took some shotsGEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

— glad to share with you the Osprey fledglings who are making such a noise these last few days as they test out their prowess in the sky.

split cedar (smelled so nice)

split cedar (smelled so nice)

Also a shot of the WIKI boat around the corner from us.  I just love the look of this boat – a cross between the African Queen and My Little Tug Boat.GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s off to March now — MARCH FORTH! – where we will have John Pascoe and Cindy Matossian & George Saunders and son-in-law Scott stopping by for a visit … as the days speed toward the April Festival!

Hope spring tickles you all soon.  Happy to have you in our lives.

xo  Laura & John & Daisy.

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RAIN PARTY


Sat Night – we’d planned a feast – our last one for this trip –

Johnny in the kitchen

It began with Laura and Don and Susan and Faru – all from Sarasota (COUNT 6) – and then it kept growing to include Jeff and Suzanne from Indiana (they are leaving Tuesday) and their daughter Lauren and her sweetheart Andrew,  (COUNT 10) and of course we had to invite our neighbors Lonna and Martin (COUNT 12) and Shari from NY and Jean, our other neighbor, and if Linda and Chris got back in time…. (COUNT 16!).

Well, What the Heck!  We certainly had enough food: We were going to serve oysters (Fresh Shucked, Steamed, Roasted) and Pulled Pork (which I cooked all day, outdoors on the cowboy cooker on Thursday) and Spare Ribs (marinated for two days) and Chicken (also marinated and baked)
And everyone was helping with Coleslaw(Lonna) Decorations (Lauren) Dessert (Suzanne) and Wine and Beer (Laura, Don, Jeff, Susan, Faru)

Everything was going nicely – the pork was pulled and seasoned, the garden looked lovely with extra tables and chairs and tablecloths and flowers and stations for shucking and drinks and yacking —

John shopped for candles and rope lighting to illuminate inside the shade tent and it looked lovely — Sure there had been some rain throughout the day but nothing major.  Thunder rumbles and a shower here and there….

And then it hit!  Hurricane Rain – just before 7 – when everyone was to arrive.

Hurricane Rain

Sheets and Sheets of it – obliterating the view, sweeping rivers down the street… and eventually the tent, too  = crumpled by wind and crushed by water.

As the rain began

CRUMPLED TENT

CRUSHED TENT

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It was a long, hard  rain with no break between the drops – just one long strand of unending water. GPS’s were refreshed minute by minute – how long would it last? would there be a break to dash to the car or the house? When was the next cell going to hit?

In the middle of it all, the guest arrived – sprinting across the flooding backyard with trays of tarts in one hand and the umbrella in the other.

Let me in, let me in!

Holy Cow!

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Daisy Greeting Suzanne

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Laughter reigned too, as each person pushed innto the small front porch, shaking off the water and entering the house.

What else was there to do?  Sure the  Coats, Shoes, Shirts were Soaked. But a mop of a towel and a refreshment in hand and some noshes on the table, and we were good to go.

Reconfigured DR Table opened up the room - chairs scattered against the wall

The Living & Dining area had already been re-arranged to accommodate the party indoors.  Not ideal, but doable.

Susan and Faru enjoy a nosh on a clam dip and a salsa dip

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Lauren and Mom Suzanne look Great! Despite the torrents.

Laura Pearson looking for wine "Oh stop wining!" "NO!"

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Lauren and sweetheart Andrew (such a great couple!)

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Then it ended. The curtain – the solid wall of water – moved past and left us cool, fresh air and a mess in the backyard.

Tent Uprighted - no one touch it or blow on it!

Maaaaah-tin - a great friend, neighbor, man

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Martin and I investigated the tent and began bailing water out of it, hoping it would stand erect when we pulled it back up.  It Did!  A bit wobbly and battered but standing!

John bravely plugged the lights in .  Viola!  Illumination.

What about a fire?  Could we get one going? Yes, again, thanks to Faru and Martin, – who went home, got a board and a vice grip, and attached the board over the cowboy cooker in event of future rain….which was forecasted by the GPS — another cell coming our way in about 20 minutes.  We paid no mind to that matter.

It Is FIRE!

Wipe Down and Re-set up! Let's do it!

John got out more towels (thank heavens Tom and Boyd have such a well stocked place) and wiped down the tables and chairs, lit the candles and we were in business!

All we needed were the oysters by the shed – which Don and Faru had to cross a river to get!.

The water sat on the sand like a pond and then – suddenly – disappeared.

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I began shucking oysters(which was supposed to be over and done with an hour previously) as the fire was gathering strength. to steam the oysters open.

Lauren – what a trooper – grabbed another knife and shucks away too. EEE GOD, we have a bushel of oysters!!!

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220 OYSTERS in a BUSHEL (now you know)

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.At a certain point, I suddenly felt pain in my haunches from standing, hunched over the oysters, and had to sit down.

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Laura P heating up the pulled pork! LifeSaver!

That was around 8:30, as John remembers, and Laura Pearson stepped in, pulling together the rest of the meal and getting all hands on deck to get it served – outside – the second rain had skirted us – under the tent – and it was done.

Laura, Don, Faru and Susan (sort of) Finally eating dinner!

We ate, drank, talked, shared, laughed, and appreciated the beautiful night around loaned tables and chairs, in glowing candlelight.

It was good. . . . . .

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Lonna - who made a delicious coleslaw - family recipe

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Mom and Daughter - extraordinary!

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Artist Shari! Delightful conversationalist

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Bucks keep an ear on the party just inside the back door.

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Dessert Time! Key Lime and Cherry Cream Tarts from the Island Girl Cake shop. YUMM!

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TARTS!

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Daisy gets a manicure (or would that be pedicure?)

Saited and Seated

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Lauren and Andrew

Jolly Jeffrey

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.We didn’t eat half the oyster … and I have a large casserole of pulled pork and half as much chicken still … but because everyone pitched in, the kitchen wasn’t a disaster and John and I silently worked to pull it together before we collapsed at midnight.

John always does more on the clean up than me, always. Bless him.

I’m glad we did it but just for the record: I’m never doing it again!  ; >

Ahhh - now to bed!

ROMANTICISM DEFINED


Osprey Nest

ROMANTICISM — now that’s a word I feel akin to — conjuring warm feelings and blue eyed notions. Yet I often hear it dissed with a negative spin:

“Oh, you’re such a (foolish) romantic.”  “That’s just a romantic ideal”

So the other day I was surprised to discover the actual definition of Romanticism.

It was in my book about the history of language. (The Horse The Wheel and Language – David ANTHONY)

“The Romantics wanted to discard the cold, artificial logic of the Enlightenment (1650-1700)  to return to the roots of a simple and authentic life based in direct experience and community”

Which led to looking it up on Wikipedia:

Romanticism (or the Romantic era/Period) was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe and strengthened in reaction to the Industrial Revolution.[1] In part, it was a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature.[2] It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography,[3] education[4] and natural history.[5]   The movement validated strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble, made spontaneity a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu), and argued for a “natural” epistemology of human activities as conditioned by nature in the form of language and customary usage.

Our experience in Cedar Key is very much aligned with a Romantic point of view – not as romance (albeit it cultures that) but in the way we live here: Simple roots, authentic life, based in direct experience and community.  So is New Hope for that matter.  And when I look in the rear view mirror of my life, I see that most everywhere I’ve lived has those elements. (maybe because: wherever you go, there you are)

This past weekend, we had house guests to share this ideal Romanticism: Matt (an old HS friend) and his new girlfriend Pam.

Hurt Osprey

When visiting the cemetery on the first day, we saw an osprey in his nest. He flew off  but later on, walking back from the cemetery park, we found the same osprey in the grass, unable to fly. As we continued our driving tour of Cedar Key, I made dozens of phone calls, hoping to find someone who handles such things.

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Pam and Matt - off to bike the trail

Our search brought us up to the Wildlife Refuge where we dropped off Matt and Pam to bike a 9 mile trail while we went to the refuge office to see if they knew what to do.

Well, the direct experience of community on that score came from the new head of the refuge (Andy – direct from Washington DC) who said: “we just let nature take it’s course – otherwise, we’d be overwhelmed”  mmmnnnnmmm.

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Daisy Enjoying the RIde

He’s got a point — but I was glad to make the calls and at least try. The next day, we met another couple who’d also seen the fallen osprey – but found it gone, later on. I also learned how to capture one from one of my  calls  who left a message, (blanket over their head, gather in the wings, pick up from behind, put in box). Now THAT would be an Authentic, Direct, Experience +  Community = a Romantic way of life.

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my Johnny

While waiting for Matt and Pam at the bottom of the nature loop, we took a walk along the road….. It is a hard packed, one lane, dirt road that’s usually empty. A few weeks ago, we attended a lecture about the refuge and they explained about the controlled burns they create  to keep the landscape available for a wide range of creatures. The thick underbrush prohibits certain species from thriving, so they conduct regular burns — section by section – every 3-4 years. As we walked along, we had direct visuals of the process:

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BEFORE BURN — AFTER BURN  — PLANTING OF GRASSES IN BURN AREA —- A YEAR AFTER BURN

BEFORE BURN: Thick Brush - something in the bushes Daisy likes

It’s a very dramatic difference

But as this area is also the lightning capital of the world – or at lease florida –

it is a natural phenomenon.

Recently Burned Area

One Year after Burn

Grasses planted after the burn

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Then they have volunteers help plant the grasses

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Pam and Matt complete their 9  miles and we head back to cedar key – in search of oysters and other such goodies.

First Stop:  ATKINS to buy oysters.

With no one at the counter, we wandered around back and found the OYSTER SHUCKING MACHINERY —

Shuckers in Action

INSIDE: a line of people whacking shells, scooping out the oysters and sliding the shells down a shoot to a conveyor belt leading to an every growing conical mountain of shells.

Shells on conveyor belt

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That’s where we found Miss Joan, the owner, working alongside her workers.

Miss Joan

Usually, Miss Joan has on beautiful western attire – but not today.

She sold us a half bushel of oysters and gave us the box and ice to transport them home.  Right friendly!

Off we set again, headed for MOES famous mullet dip –

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MOE, as you may remember, is our neighbor who is in his 80’s and fishes and preps his smoked mullet dip (yum), selling it from a roadside stand every weekend – along with shrimp and stone crabs.  (Note to self: You want a long, contented life – find yourself something to do that you enjoy.)

Moes Seafood Stand

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Matt was very hungry and bought out the stone crabs

Mr. Moe

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Back home — it was a feast, AGAIN!

Matt could barely stop to breathe in his rush to crack and eat the crabs And then Pam got to shucking oysters for the first time and found out she was really good at it.

Stone Crab Claws are so pretty

Stone Crabs bring out the creative in everyone

Pam seizes the shucking

Proper Gloves and Knives make all the difference

WhackaWhacka

Fresh Shucked Oysters

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Laura and Matt mug for the Camera while cleaning oysters

The evening continued on it’s bacchanalian theme –

Shucker Extraordinaire

Cooking them up on the grill - with garlic butter!

This slup says it all -- YUM

The next morning – Feb 18 –  ooooo, the kitchen floor was disgusting.

After a clean up, we rented kayaks for three hours.  Nice paddle in the back bay.

Then Matt and Pam rode their bikes around town,

They returned and fired up the grill again – for there were more oysters and stone crabs and steaks and sweet potatoes and rice & beans to consume.

I have to admit, I almost lost it that night.

One thing I’ve learned is that oysters and darkness is not a good combo.

Being the organized hostess I am, I’d already made a plan for the sequence of cooking events.

Raw Oysters first, followed by a few open-face on the grill, followed by the steaks and while we are eating the steaks, the rest of the oysters can roast on the grill top.  But instead, our neighbor Martin came over and decided to show Matt and Pam how to steam oysters.  That threw the schedule off – into the darkness – and we don’t have a bunch of tiki torches to rage against the dying of the light.

dinner by lamplight

Well, I didn’t lose it altogether – I just removed myself from the cooking process  –  found extension cords and a standing lamp and pierced the darkness with it!  Alls well that ends well — and I FINALLY got my roasted oysters – which I like very much, indeed!

"Its so romantical"

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Happy Birthday Dear Buckaroo!

BTW- THAT night was Buck’s official Birthday -13 dog years!  (91 human years!)

He sleeps a lot but still has a great appetite, solid poops and walks about and is a lovely cuddlebug.

After Dinner on  Sat Night – we went over to Martin and Lonna’s – who have a deck and open sky – to view the stars.

I let everyone go ahead so I could spruce up a bit —

(sweep and give the floor a quick wash — sand tracks in – ugh)

And took this shot of the empty but lit campsite. (smile)

Ahhhhh

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Matt had his telescope, Martin had one too, and there were blue binoculars too!

stargazing equipment

Ipad Star Watch App - a great learning tool!

but the best thing for John and me was Lonna’s I Pad with the Star Watch App — how much fun it was to hold it up to the sky and actually see the shape of the creature or personage the cluster of stars represent.

I now actually see the shapes —

My Mom would have LOVED that App.

Enough for now.

Must prep house for Greg Andriate arrival this afternoon — and if the weather holds – a fishing trip on Saturday on an Airboat!  yeeeeha!

This Romantic Life is a delight.

Thanks for checking in! xoxo  Laura

POT ROAST ON THE COOKER!


I’ve been wanting to cook a pot roast over the cowboy cooker for a while now.

But every day something thwarted my objective.

Basically, you must have the day to build and tend the fire —

and I had no idea how long it would take to cook the pot roast.

So around noon, I built the fire base out of palm fronds, kindling and a fire starter square.

It took off and I kept feeding it until it was strong enough to sustain a big chunk of hickory.

Then I put the pot on to heat it up.

When we used this cast iron pot on the stove, it took a long time for it to heat up.

But outside on the fire – not so much!

It was time to sear the meat and that went quickly as well, given the heat.

Then I poured in the citrus marinade and canned tomatoes and let it cook for an hour or so.

The pot hung not far from the flames and, in retrospect, I think that was about 375-425 degrees because the meat was nearly done in 75 minutes.

Of course that makes sense, because what cowboy would be willing to wait 3 hours for a slow cooking potroast after a day on the trail.

Then I put in the potatoes and onions but I raised it too far from the flames – and I had to make further adjustments.

All throughout this, I was having a blast.  Really!

Then a new friend came by and joined us for supper and a long into the night stimulating conversation.

Our New Friend Shari

About Angels, and the end of the world and an earthquake on March 12 and where the waters will go and other solar systems that have sustainable life and why aliens heads are so big and what do they want with us and the intrigue of the art world and life on Cedar Key for a New Yorker, through and through, who came here temporarily – a year ago.

Cheers!

Our Neighbors, Chick and Marsha (we amuse them)

Anyway, IMHO, it was a great and interesting day and I can’t wait to try something else in the pot over the grill.

xo Laura

Bushed after a long, fun day!

COWBOY COOKER and OYSTERS


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,

THE COWBOY COOKER

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

PS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BILLY MAC!

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