Monthly Archives: February 2009

Casting Call

I found out today that a film is being made this coming Thursday and Friday at Gatorama in Palmdale FL.  If you’re visiting the area or live here and want to be in a film here’s the info:

Gurney Productions (telephone number:  310-271-1197) is holding a casting call for people who would appear in a show being filmed at Gatorama and the Lake Placid area March 5 & 6, 2009.   Anyone interested should send a digital photograph to by Monday 3/2/09.  A fee of between $0 and $100 will be paid for your time depending on the part you are cast in.

This could be a lot of fun.  We won’t be trying out for any parts, however, because we have so much happening right now that I can’t possibly schedule a day trip this week: history/science fair with the homeschool group; 4H projects that the boys are entering into the Sarasota County Fair (; speeches that they need to be prepared for for the upcoming speaking engagements the group, Speakers of Sarasota, is scheduled for; and Cincinnati Reds Family outings (my husband works for the Reds and it’s Spring Training this month…All Cincinnati Reds’ staff and most family members are in town for fun events; go to for schedule and ticket info).   But, YOU should send your picture to the production company and try to get your 15 minutes of fame.  Remember the deadline is Monday the 2nd.  Only two days left.

I looked into Gatorama.  Its located just west of Lake O on Rte 27.  Here’s the website:  We, as a family, love gator meat and you can order it through this site as well.  Yum!  What’s it taste like?  Well, chicken, of course!

Good luck to all who try to get a part and to those of you who do…break a leg!

Are You Being Served?

I don’t enjoy tv all that much but I do like to watch British comedy on PBS. My favorite has for years been “Are You Being Served?”. I was saddened to hear that Wendy Richards, who played Ms. Brahms, died today. She was only 65 and was taken by breast cancer.

From the AP story, her bio:

” British actress Wendy Richard, whose four-decade television career included roles as a sexy sitcom shop assistant and a working class matriarch on the soap opera “EastEnders,” died Thursday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 65.

She had parts in several of the cheap-and-cheerful “Carry On” film comedies, and in TV shows including “Up Pompeii!” and “The Likely Lads” before becoming famous as Miss Brahms, a staff member of the fictional Grace Brothers department store in 1970s sitcom “Are You Being Served?”

Richard was known to millions around the world as put-upon matriarch Pauline Fowler in “EastEnders,” a long-running soap set in a close-knit east London neighborhood.

Richard was diagnosed with cancer in the mid-1990s and again in 2002, and learned last year that the disease had returned and spread.

She is survived by Burns, her long-term partner and fourth husband, whom she married in October.”

Whooping Crane sightings in the Sarasota area

Near the end of January, Whooping Cranes and their accompanying Ultralights, flew into the Dunnellon/Ocala, Florida area from way up north.  I’ve been trying to find a time to make the trip up there and try to spot them.  I haven’t heard any spotting activity and was hoping for some before making the long drive.  But now it seems they’re coming this way.

On February 22nd I read a report, through the SRQ bird alert that I receive daily, that two whooping cranes were spotted heading toward Carlton Reserve.  They were seen just north of 681 in the I-75 vacinity.  Rt 681 is south of Clark Road.   The report said ” they were flying quite low — treetop level — northward just west of I-75 over a cow pasture that lies between the interstate and Thaxton Preserve, north of 681.” 

Then I read another report on February 24th which stated that whooping cranes were spotting flying near I-75 & Jacarand Blvd., which is near Venice, FL. 

I’m hoping that this pair will find a nesting area;one that I can get to.  I’d love to see a whooping crane again.  Before we moved from Houston, TX to Sarasota, we took a trip to Aransas, TX, winter home of the whooping crane.  Before we got there I saw one.  We were soon to arrive and in the median of the highway was a whooping crane.  It took off in front of us, but thankfully not close enough for us to hit it with the car.  It was beautiful.  I was hoping to get a picture of a whooping crane on the trip.  We never saw another the whole weekend, but I have a great memory of the one I did see.

For more information about bringing the whooping crane to Florida go to

I stepped on a sea urchin

Ouch! But when it happened I just thought I kicked a sea shell. When I looked down the tip of my big toe was bleeding. Thankfully I was on land rather than swimming with sharks.

I had 5 purple urchin spine tips in my toe. They all came out easily but one … it figures!

I poked at it once I got it home with tools from the kid’s science equipment and some peroxide. It won’t come out.

My husband said when his dad stepped on a sea urchin the doctor told him that whatever was left in his foot would eventually dissolve. He was ok with that. I’m not. Do I turn into an echinoderm? Do I turn purple? Do I have to eat seaweed the rest of my life? Actually, that wouldn’t be so bad, ’cause it’s tasty.

I did a Google search and found out the doctor was right. So here is what you should do if you step on a sea urchin.

Don’t panic! I didn’t. It’s not so bad. It hurt, and I know my kids would freak if it happened to them, but its not so bad.

Use a tweezer to get the spines out. The one’s I got out had broken off above the skin so I was able to pull them out. You can gently squeeze the sides of the spine with your thumb nails, too.

Be aware … the spines are made of calcium carbonate and they’ll crumble and stick in your skin.  (I guess I got my dose of calcium today!)

As soon as you can apply an antiseptic.  Soak the affected area in a bucket of very warm water with Epsom Salts. Do this several times a day for the duration of the injury. This helps with the pain and softens the skin for spine removal. It may even encourage the spines to either dissolve or be expelled. Apply an antibiotic ointment. If your injury is really painful, take some pain killers (like Goody’s Powder…my favorite because it works so quickly), and elevate the wound.

It could take several weeks for the spines to expell themselves from your skin. Your body may have a hard lump around the injured area, because as it heals, skin cells are reacting to having the foreign object in your body. It will go away.

If the area gets infected go see a doctor.

And last, if there is any purple dye in your foot, don’t worry. That will go away, too.

I also saw a webblog where someone had used duct tape on the injury for several days and the spines eventually surfaced.  I’m opting to treat my injury using the above rather that duct tape.  But good for him that it worked.

I’m going to Sear’s tomorrow and purchase some water shoes at Land’s End. I’ve been thinking I should have some anyway. It is a nasty feeling walking around sea grasses off South Lido Beach, but we love going over there looking for critters for the fish tank.

Today we got 2 shrimp, 2 purple long-spined urchins (I’ve never seen these before and they’re not in my Florida Beaches book), another hermit crab in a fig shell, an apple murex snail and lots of shells and seaweed.

I’ll let you know when this sea urchin spine falls out.

Edited March 24: Ok, so its been a month now.  I haven’t turned purple and spiny so I’m relieved at that.  I did lose a little bit of the spine that was really stuck.  I think there’s more to come.  The tip of my toe remains a little pointy where the spine is.  There’s a tiny piece of scar tissue but I pick it off.  I also still have a scab where I plucked the other spines out; I guess they’ll go away soon.  So, what I’ve learned is…be careful around sea urchins.  I’ve also learned that a lot of people step on or trip over them as well.  This is my top post and is visited daily by a ton of people.  There’s a fishing forum in west Florida that included my post on their site and a lot of referrals come from there (most likely to read about the stupid lady that wasn’t careful on the beach), but many many people just search “how to get sea urchins out of my foot”.  Makes me feel not-so-stupid after all.  LOL.  By the way, we still have the white hermit crab in the fig shell. You can read about his adventures in my post “Salt Water Fish Tank part 5”.

4H Demonstration Speeches

Today my boys gave their demonstrations for 4H competitions. Travis demonstrated how to make a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate fudge icing and confetti sprinkles. Austin gave a talk on collecting Pokemon cards.

They both did amazingly well. As you can tell I’m proud of both of them.

Travis handled every part of his presentation easily. Even at one part, when he had a hard time opening the cake mix bag, and then finally did, he stayed composed. At the end, he cut some pieces of cake for the judges. It looked like they had been getting samples all morning.

Austin, who speaks softly, held his voice at a great volume and spoke clearly. He handed out cards for the judges to look at while he explained what to do with them.

We’ll find out by the end of the next week what their scores are.
The scores will determine their eligibility to go to the district level with their speech. It will also determine, combined with a visual presentation at the county fair, their status as a superior exhibitor. They’ll have to earn 2 blue ribbons for that.

We will be too busy this week to sit on pins and needles waiting for scores. Next project to finish is our homeschool support group’s Science and History Fair on March 2.

Their speeches are on their blogs: and

A girl’s best friends

Dixie is my sweet black lab/chow mix.  She looks likes a small black lab with a black tongue.  She just turned 3 years old.  Dixie is sweetly submissive, happy and loveable.  She enjoys greeting people because she knows she’ll get lovin’ back. 

She makes friends easily.  In our neighborhood her best buds are Molly, Luke, Charlie, Homer, Abby and Sam.  There are a ton of other dogs she thinks are her best friends as well, but here is the core of them.

Molly is a golden retriever pup, probably about a year old by now.  She lives up the street.  Her owner, Sally, has become a great friend.  Sally will occasionally sit for us when we go out of town.  Dixie doesn’t get kenneled anymore because something always happens to her.  In her first year she contracted kennel cough from a neighboring guest at a pet resort in Houston.  Dixie had her shot, the other dog didn’t.  I was told that the shot does not prevent getting the sickness, it just minimizes the symptoms if your pet does contract it.  Dixie has also had the exit bath that another pet resort required all of its guests.  Well, that bath cost us over $200 in ear infection treatments.  So, when we travel without her, she stays at home with a neighbor keeping an eye on her.  Sally and Molly visit  several times a day when we’re gone.  They go out for long walks and for a run around the sand pile at the corner of my street.  They always come back sandy, tired and thirsty.  When we come home I can always tell Dixie had a great weekend by how much dirty sand is all over my tile floor.  I’m actually happy to see it…I know she was loved when we were gone.101_2371molly-dixie

When Sally and Molly walk in the morning, Molly runs up to our door looking for her friend.  Sometimes Dixie is out front and they play “catch me” with each other.  Once in a while they end up racing each other across the street and down by the canal.  How do we get them back?  “Treat!,” we yell, and they come running.  Of course they both have to get a treat at that point but we’ve got them both back at home.

Luke lives around the corner.  He’s a fluffy shepard with the cutest face ever.  Its like the cutest puppy-dog-in-the-window-face…big happy eyes, huge smile with a tongue sticking out.  He’s like a little bear, so hugable.  Dixie really likes him.  Occasionally his owners, Bob and Catherine, will come by to hang out with us and bring Luke.  On his first visit he found that Dixie had some yummy rawhide knots lying around so he claimed one.  No one has ever taken anything of hers before and she didn’t know what to do.  She stood slightly back but over him as he lay on the floor chewing this thing.  She’d look at him, then at me, back and forth.  She just couldn’t relax and get another knot to chew on.  It was comedy.  We sent him home later with what was left of the knot.   101_2537Since then, on walks, Luke will make a bee-line for our door looking for, oh I don’t know, maybe Dixie, maybe another knot to chew on.  The two dogs do have fun playing together. Lately, since they now know where each one lives, they make a beeline toward the other’s house when on a walk: always looking for treats.

Homer lives next door.  There’s is a high, wooden fence between us but the dogs can see each other through the vertical slats and sometimes run along the fence together.  Homer has tried several times to dig under the fence.  The hole right now is almost big enough for him to climb through.  Dixie will sometimes sit there and just peer through the hole.  The daughter of Homer’s owner is a young teenager and she had watched Dixie one weekend.  She’s very sweet and takes good care of my pup.  When school is out and we take a trip again, I’ll call on her.  For now, our long weekends would interfere with her school schedule. 

Abby, Charlie and Sam live behind us in 3 different houses.  They’re all sweet dogs and Dixie likes to greet them in the back yard.  Sam lives up north most of the year but when he comes down with his owner,  he and Dixie like hanging out together.

That’s the neighborhood as it relates to Dixie.  Maybe I’ll write next about the neigborhood from her point of view.  I’ll take some notes on our next couple walks.

I went to the shell show

Today was the last day of the Sarasota Shell Show at the Municipal Auditorium. I went with a friend of mine, Catherine…a fellow birder and Hokie fan. There was an amazing array of shells from all over the world. In the center of the auditorium were displays. Along the side, vendors with their wares and in the back, on stage, entries to the competition.

Jewelry was not represented as much as I thought it would be and, although there was some, I was disappointed with what I saw. I suppose I rely on these shows to give me ideas more than I expect them to be a shopping experience. 

It seemed most vendors were selling shells (which I came for). There were several shell artists with shell decorated mirrors and picture frames.  Some had made flower arrangements with their colorful shells.  These amaze me because they’re so pretty.  I’d love to figure out how to make a flower.  I’d have to give it as a gift because I hate dusting and I’m sure they’d be great dust collectors. 

My favorite was the artful work of Silvia, whose business card was a signed clam shell. She had taken the shells that no one wants, broken shells and the old beach worn pieces, and glued them together to make incredible floral-looking displays. She had table center pieces, Christmas tree arrangements, book ends. From afar they looked dainty and fragile probably because of the holes from being pounded by surf, but up close they looked strong and beautiful. She would probably email you some pictures of her work if you’re interested. She also told us she does private classes. Her email address is

Another artist was Bill Jordan. Bill made Sailor’s Valentines and other miniature displays. His work was astonishing and I highly suggest going to his website, He showed us some of his tools for creating and pointed us to his DVD which shows, step-by-step, how to make a sailor’s valentine.

Although many artists had shell-decorated mirrors and picture frames, one in particular stood out.  Joyce Arms (Siesta Shell Sensations) had a very unique eye for them.  She took black to grey to white shells and designed a mirror frames and picture frames with them.  Black and White? you ask.  Well yes it was stunning, actually.  And in these picture frames were paintings, by her, of night-time ocean scenery in the grey/blue tones.  It was a really creative look.   We picked up a card and her number (in case you want to see these frames for yourself) is 941-349-5059.

I loved the trip to the shell show. It was inspiring, amazing and fun. I did spend some money; I bought several shells that I’ll either stick in a drawer or actually do something with. I’m very interested in taking a class from Silvia and perhaps I can interest enough friends to go with me. I have a ton of shells in my collection; most sitting in drawers and boxes. I have hundreds of sand dollars, too. I didn’t see anything, aside from a glazed and sparkled Christmas ornament, made from sand dollars. That’s surprising but perhaps its because they break so easily. I’ll have to come up with something to make using my sand dollars, other than a tree ornament.

If you missed the show this year, you had better go next year.  Don’t miss out.  The Sarasota Shell Club meets on the second Thursday of each month at Mote Marine Lab.  Meetings start at 7pm.


Last night I went owling.

I put the dog out and heard an Eastern Screech Owl in the front tree.  It was dark as could be and I heard strange sounds in the dark across the street but I felt that I needed to go owling.

My interest started when I began homeschooling.  We lived in Hernando, MS at the time on a narrow acre that was wooded on the back third.  I often heard owls hoo-hoo back there late at night and found it soothing.  One day there was a field trip with our homeschool group to a class to learn about raptors, so we went.  We were learning about God’s winged creatures for our science class at home and this fit into our studies.  Andi Lehman, who later became one of my dearest friends, had her wildlife on display in the classroom.  She’s a wildlife rehab volunteer and keeps (with permission) rehabilitated birds that can’t live in the wild for some reason, be it a broken wing, missing eye, etc.  She read to the children the book, “Owl Moon”, by Jane Yolin.  It’s an adventure story of a child and an adult walking at night in the snow, with a full moon overhead, to find an owl.  It is a terrific story. 

Time passed and for one reason or another I never made it out to my wooded back yard late at night to go owling.  No one would walk out there with me and, admittedly, it was scarey to go out in the dark with coyotes roaming and who knows what else.

Last night I was determined to check out this little owl that I heard.  So, I put the dog in the house (so she wouldn’t bark at me), grabbed a flashlight and tip-toed out to my street.  I listened, following the sound, flashing my flashlight.  I did this a handful of times until I finally found my light shining right on the owl.  As sweet as it could be, it sat on its perch and just looked at me.  It scratched its head with its right foot then looked at me again. 

I’m thrilled that I finally went owling.  The adventure may not seem like such a big deal to some but I found great joy in it.  It’s something I’ll remember for a long time.

Outdoor stuff to do in SW FL this March

Attention all you folks that love to support wildlife, learn about the environment and just do stuff outdoors: here are some things you can do in SW Florida. I belong to a yahoo group called Environmental Voice of SW Florida and this list was a post this week. I’m sharing it because it has some really fun sounding events that I know I’d like to find out about if I was wintering in the area. Hope you have fun…maybe I be there, too.  And check out the yahoo group…you might want to join.

Upcoming events in Southwest Florida:

2nd Sat, 3rd Tues every month. Volunteer Work Days@ Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park: http://www.friendsoffakaha volunteer. php

Feb 14 – 15 Jammin in the HammockCollier- Seminole State Park’s Annual Bluegrass Festival,10am -8pm, http://www.floridastatepar seminole/ default.cfm

Feb 14 – 16 “Muck About at Clyde Butcher’s Everglades Gallery. Reservations online at: http://clydebutcher .com

Feb 17 Wing It! A Beginning Birders Workshop: 8 to Noon, Join Randy McCormick to learn the basics of birding and a field trip. Rookery Bay: 239-417-6310, http://www.rookeryb

Feb 17 Dilemma japonicum, a new bivalve species 11 am at Naples Preserve, Dr. Jose Leal from the Shell Museum presents. Lunch to follow.239-213- 3020

Feb 19 Orange-barred Sulphur Butterfly: 1pm Dr. Gary Pettit´s Naples Pier. Look in the pier area just before you pass the restrooms and showers.

Feb 21 Burrowing Owl Festival in Cape Coral, 10am – 4pm, http://www.ccfriendsofwild

Feb 23-26 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Festival: Everglades Museum, Everglades City. 239-695-0008 or curator11@att. net

Feb 24 Places to Play 11 am at the Naples Preserve.. Roger Clark, Lee County Parks & Recreation. Lunch to follow.239-213- 3020

Feb 26 Black Skimmer: 1pm Dr. Gary Pettit´s Naples Pier. Look in the pier area just before you pass the restrooms and showers.

Mar 7An Environmental Education Meeting for Latinos in Arcadia – Everyone is Welcome9 am to noon All speakers fluent in Spanish & local professionals. FREE Materials & lunch. Call (239) 533-7506 or visit

March 14 – 21FLORIDA PANTHER WEEK: floridapanther/ panther_week. html

Mar 14 Community Conservation Celebration 9- 2pm, Spend a fun day on Marco Island´s Mackle Park with educational exhibits and activities! No reservations needed.

Mar 15 Save the Panther Week Kick-off at the Naples Zoo 9:30 – 4pm
Spend a fun day at the zoo with educational exhibits, ask questions to a Panther Biologist and enjoy kids activities like face painting! Organizations that are uniting to protect the Panthers will be there: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge, Picayune State Forest, Crew, the Conservancy, and more! No reservations needed.

Mar16 Swamp Walk at the Fakahatchee, with Mike Owen 10 – 1pm
Explore the “Amazon of Southwest Florida” with Mike in the swamp! RSVP March 9-15 by calling 239-353-8442 x 239 or email: events@floridapanth

Mar17 Naples Preserve hosts a Panther Presentation 11am & 3:30pm
Adult presentation from 11am then enjoy a FREE lunch! From 3:30, an after-school program (ages 7 – 11) “Panther Activity Day” on the Naples Preserve. RSVP by calling 239-261-4290 or email: PreserveCaptains@

Mar18 “Panthers in Peril” talk at the Conservancy 6 – 8pm Featuring Conservancy Biologist. Dave Shindle. Enjoy one-of-a-kind photos from field research in the Florida panther´s territory. Free for members, $35 for non-members. Must RSVP. Call Jean at 239-403-4207 at http://www.Conservancy. org

Mar 19  Hiking Deep Lake at Big Cypress National Preserve 9am – 12pm
Rangers from Big Cypress take visitors out on a nature trail that teaches you about plants, animal signs & more! RSVP Call Lisa Andrews at 239-695-1164.

Mar19 Fakahatchee, the Amazon of North America by Mike Owen 1pm Mike´s commentary will entertain and teach, as he shares photos and his 15 years of experience in Clyde Butcher´s Everglades Gallery $25/person with 50% donated to Friends of Fakahatchee. RSVP at http://clydebutcher .com

Mar 20 Cycling Bear Island Grade 9am – Noon Bicycle the Big Cypress National Preserve (a 14 mile trail) & learn about Panthers from the Rangers. Call Lisa Andrews at 239-695-1164 for more info & to reserve your spot.

Mar 21 “Save the Panther Day” Panther Refuge Open House 8 am – Noon
Share a fun day with your family, while exploring the Panther Refuge by swamp buggy or by walking trails. Bird Walks, plants & orchid tours, & of course, look for the wild panther! Learn more about what YOU can do to help save the panther & its habitat. RSVP Starting March 9 – 20 Space is limited. Sign up by calling 239-353-8442 x 239 or email: events@floridapanth

Mar 21 CREW Benefit Concert & Art Contest 7pm – 10pm Enjoy an evening of Bluegrass & make new friends at Estero Community Park. A fun family event! Tickets cost $20 towards CREW. Call 239-657-2253 or bthomas_crew@ earthlink. net

Mar 27 CREW Wildlflower Power Point 7pm – 9pm Festival kickoff with a slide show & presentation on wildflowers by local authors Glen Stacell and Gary Schmelz at Bass Pro Shops in Gulf Coast Town Center. No RSVP needed.

Mar 28 CREW Wildlflower Fest 8:30am – 2pm Grand opening of a new trail system, & celebrating CREW´s 20th Anniversary with guided wildflower and butterfly hikes! A suggested donation $3 for members/$5 for non-members. RSVP call 239-657-2253 or email: bthomas_crew@ earthlink. net