Category Archives: Florida Friends

Instant gratification

Right off the bat, you guys delivered. THANK YOU! And, along with the sheer pleasure of giving to a most wonderful cause, comes your reward: the first chapter of The Scooter Diaries. Seriously, this will be your new favorite blog and the best part is Ken has left absolutely no place to leave comments so you can just go, read, laugh and feel great. He says he has no interest in online networking, beyond sharing his adventures and raising money for the school. But he did send me a nice list of donors via my place here- including my daughter who called in the midst of a panic attack last night. She donated 25.00 on Paypal, which is a LOT for them and then, was instantly terrified that she had pledged 25.00 per mile for the entire 2500+ miles. Ah, me.

Go. Enjoy. Oh- and Bob? The ashes of one of Ken’s good friends, along for the ride.

My friend, Ken

…is one of the more colorful friends I have. I wanted to post a bit about him today because tomorrow he is getting ready to ride his Vespa scooter all the way across America, from Florida to California, to raise money for the children of Canoa, Ecuador. A few years ago he got involved in building a school there, in a small village without a school. They have been building La Escuela Bilingue los Algarrobos, one classroom at a time, each year trying to raise enough money to buy books and uniforms, and pay a meager salary to a teacher. You can read all about the school, the children and the village HERE.

(Here is their little school and the entire village of young children, teachers and EcoSurf volunteers.)

I can’t remember ever asking you guys directly to donate to a charitable cause and I can’t imagine a time when I would ask you again because, you know, everybody has plenty of charities they favor and not so much money right now. But here is the top ten list of reasons why you should go HERE and sponsor a few miles.

1. No matter how little money you have, you have more than they do. The school needs your help and you get a LOT of bang for your buck when you donate to them.

2. Ken adopted Stretch, the screech owl, at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve and is providing his food for a whole year.

3. Ken volunteers every single week at The Christmas Toy Shop here in St. Petersburg, repairing donated and discarded bicycles and at Christmas time, he gives them to all the families in St. Petersburg who can’t afford to buy them for their children. He is a curmudgeon with a big heart.

4. Ken bought a screech owl box at Wildlife Weekend and hung it in his tree. When our not so favorite neighbor attacked a honeybee hive, high up and bothering no one, out on the easement, with a can of hornet spray and insulation foam, the bees moved over to Ken’s owl house. As much as he wanted screech owls, he is letting the bees stay as long as they please.

5. Ken fought, long and hard, through the most miserable war, for his country. That would be you.(Scoot and Ken stop to see airplanes along the way. Ken flew helicopter rescue in Vietnam and went on to become a commercial pilot so he has interest in planes.)

6. Ken will write funny posts every day about his trip. They are funny because a) spelling is not his long suit and b) since it is just him and Scoot, he posts funny photos of Scoot doing things like admiring flowers, talking to policemen, enjoying a beer at a local diner. You can follow along with Scoot’s diary.

7. This is a ridiculously long trip for a 60-something guy to make on a Vespa Scooter and he needs all the encouragement he can get.

8. These photos of the first graduation at La Escuela Bilingue los Algarrobos illustrate the power and pride of education. When we help educate the children of the world we make it a better place for all of us.


9. Ken would do it for you. That’s a fact.

And the number one reason you should sponsor a few miles along Ken’s way:

He loves chickens!

We have no idea how long this trip will take. Ken thinks it will be about a month, give or take. We’ll keep his wife (the other Vicki, who helped me plant the new garden) company while he is gone, although she seems to do just fine on her own. They lived on a boat for a dozen years and half the time Ken would be flying off somewhere and she managed to entertain herself. Still, I know she will miss him.

Anyway, I think you should support Ken’s efforts to build the next classroom for the school. Death Valley and Bakersfield, California are already spoken for but you can sponsor as few or as many miles as you please through paypal or anyway you want, HERE. And then follow along as Ken and Scoot make their way across America.(Now that I think about it, he does sort of look like James Bond.)

Learning curve

Rich is off doing his annual guy bonding thing- for the 32nd year in a row the same four men have gone to Myrtle Beach for four days of golfing and catch-up. Despite time and changes in circumstance they insist on doing it just as they did in the beginning. For a number of years they stayed in the same hotel but then that one got torn down and they had to start searching for another one with the same ambiance. I can track his reunion activities by signing onto our online bank account.

Denny’s: 10.46

Tupelo Bay Golf Center: 11:43

Big Daddy’s Roadhouse: 22.91

Damon’s Oceanfront Hotel: 18.93 (his half of a 32.00/night room)

Four days of golf with your guys: Priceless

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After teaching the young folk on Friday, I’m taking this time for a little continuing education of my own with girlfriends. Saturday, I spent the whole day with Cathy taking a torch-fired enamel class at the Morean Art Center. One of the perks of teaching there is that I get a class for every class I teach and I had heard rave reviews about this one. Barbara Lewis, torch fired enamel guru, teaches the class and she was marvelous.(You can find her wonderful blog, Painting with Fire, here.) Artists who teach learn quickly that the key to running a good intensive workshop is organization- having everyone’s supplies laid out and ready and having a scheduled project plan in your head helps make it successful for students. You really only feel good if, at the end of the day, people take home a completed product and a knowledge base that lights their fire. Barbara’s workshop was all of that and if you ever get a chance to take a one day workshop from her, jump on it. It was everything I hoped and more. In stark contrast to my glass blowing experience in Chicago a couple years ago, this is something I can do. You probably don’t remember but I found the combination of weight, coordination and massive glowing furnaces overwhelming. Back in that class the rest of students were college age and the instructor was a burly strong experienced glass blower who kept yelling “DON’T get that molten glass on the edge of the glory hole!!”

(I’m going to spend some time today combining some of these with felted beads and see where that goes.)

In this class,  we worked with torches and beads, heating the metal to a glowing hot red and then adding the powder enamels- essentially ground glass- and refiring it repeatedly to get the desired colors and patterns. Six hours of it was a bit exhausting, partially because of the heat factor: 12 torches firing fulltilt for 6 hours made the room overly hot. But then I had a lovely dinner with friend, Cathy, and then it was home to bed.

Yesterday it was down to Worden Farms in Punta Gorda to learn about goat ownership and cheese making. I went into it thinking I’m ready for a couple of goats and the class was especially persuasive in letting me know that I am NOT ready for that. The more she talked enthusiastically about the joys of worming, fencing, protecting your goats and potentially toxic landscaping from each other and needing to breed them (duh) to get milk production but needing to keep bucks separate from does (two fenced enclosures! It’s getting harder by the moment to hide these hoof stock from the homeowner’s association!) the more I knew that what I really need is a source of good clean fresh goat’s milk. The cheese-making portion of the day was super. In short order she demonstrated and we tasted mozzarella, paneer and my favorite, chevre. Easy, pretty straightforward and delicious, especially with a few herbs tossed in here and there. I can’t wait to start making cheese-I like to think of it as Daniel bait; he comes for fresh chevre- and there’s a farm with dairy goats a short mile walk from the house in Asheville.

Okay- back to online price comparing pop-up drain assemblies. Torch firing enamel, cheese making, plumbing parts- so much to learn and so little time. Have a great start to the week!

Linky Goodness, for better and worse

I’m in a rush today because I have a workshop of too many women to teach tomorrow. It will be nuno felting, wool on silk, a skill that requires a certain “touch” more than anything else, so there’s a learning curve that can be hard to gratify in less than 4 hours. Times eight. Ah, me. But I enjoy teaching so it will be a fun challenge.

Lots and lots of stuff drops unannounced and often times, unwelcome into my online mail box (I’m managing to circumvent a fair amount of hard copy mail by moving around; hopefully by the time we move to Asheville a walk down to the mailbox will result in a piece or two of meaningful mail, rather than 12 trees worth of junk.) During the past week several good things have come across this virtual desk and I wanted to share them with you.

First up (and funniest to me, you may well have seen it), FC over at Pure Florida posted something about his manly man and barely Bear successful fix of the refrigerator door. I, personally, used to love the SNL skit with the  superhero “Middle-Aged Man” who donned his cape and flew around the neighborhood with his pot belly and spectacles armed with every owners manual known to mankind. Me, who never reads directions and dumps those asap. Anyway, speaking of manly men, this ad is winning awards right and left in the media marketing world (of which we know something in this household).

In the “Awwww, unbelievably cute and endearing wildlife department” is this, again from the Brits and National Geographic. (Remember the thermal imaging of the arctic owl hunting that I shared with some of you? Those folks.) All I know is that to be this happy, you are a creature of God and discussions about my relative godlessness aside, I want to come back as one of these guys.

Finally, in the no news is bad news department- brace yourselves. I know I’ve been bracing myself since this incident originally happened and I wrote about it. Spirit, our resident bald eagle at Boyd Hill has-had- been making a remarkable recovery from a broken leg, complete with titanium pins. Truly, for a 24 year old bird, it was simply stunning what was happening, between her true Spirit and the care, skill and love of many rehabbers from here to Alaska. The last two days have not been good. We got her out into her own new mews, with perches a mere 8 inches off the ground and she seemed well and recovering right through Monday when she ate a full diet,  had normal mutes (poop) and horked a healthy cast (pellet). Tuesday morning found her curled and unresponsive in the corner of the mew and she has been in intensive care and guarded condition ever since. She is back with our incredibly gifted, kind and wonderful avian vet who is nourishing her, sedating her and giving her appropriate medication but still, she has had seizures and is not very responsive. Personally, the moment I heard about the break I thought, “That is too much for that old gal. Too much trauma, too much handling, too much anesthesia, too much surgery…” and my heart both broke and braced itself back then. Then I allowed myself to hope for the past couple of weeks but still…I am now back in brace mode. I haven’t gotten this morning’s update yet but I can barely write the end of this post, as it is. I love that bird. A whacky, whimsical, graceful, magnificent creature who greeted me with head thrown back and the high-pitched warble of the American Bald Eagle each and every time she saw me or heard my voice. I haven’t cared one whit that our relationship is based on either the hand that feeds her mullet or the copacetic bright white pate that we share; I love her and she has been my friend. How lucky can a person be to have a bald eagle in their circle of close and good friends. And so, my final link this morning is to Wren, who shares some photos of Spirit in better form, including one of my better photos of her. I’ll keep you posted.

Okay, now that you have been on a roller coaster of emotions (in short, the way my brain works constantly), you  may continue your day. TGIF.