Category Archives: Journals I Enjoy

Wherein I have plastic surgery in Ecuador and the cycle of life comes full circle

Busy, busy. And then I discovered I was even busier than I thought. I had been racing around entertaining guests, teaching workshops, caring for raptors and I was driving home from the aviary thinking, “phew! Night off, getting in my jammies and reading.” As I walked in the door Rich announced that he wanted to go to some live radio theater recording of his baseball buddy’s new one-act play and it started in half an hour, so hurry. (It’s complicated but remind me to tell you about Rich reliving his second childhood, playing fast pitch with the famous Half-Century league. I keep tripping over bats, mitts, sports cups, #27 shirts…) Almost as an afterthought, he commented, “Remind me to give you a check to put in the joint account. We must be overdrawn.”

“Huh? That can’t be.”  I had just checked it yesterday and there was enough for another week in there, plus there’s overdraft protection linked to the account that has ALL of the Asheville remodel funds in it.

“Nope. I was in Panera’s and they looked at me funny and said my card was no good. Must be overdrawn. But hurry or we’ll be late for the play.” (This very comment gives you some idea of how casually out of touch a certain person is to our personal financial affairs. He’s a top notch bread winner but not the person to mind our store. I, on the other hand, have my pulse on every penny around here and notice if even one is moved. We make a team, of sorts.)

I had to walk past the laptop on my way out of the shower and to the closet- it was on the bed-so standing there in the altogether I clicked on the online bank link and AYYYYYEEEEEE!  Okay- don’t think about the visual. Just imagine the sound of me shrieking, panting, hissing and barking all in one breath. Because that was when I discovered that, in a madcap dash through South America, I had leased a Mercedes, bought two computers and a very high-end sound system, bought a whole new designer boutique wardrobe and- wait for it- had multiple plastic surgeries at the Clinica Estetica in Guayaquil, Ecuador. And then, a short half hour later, I stopped for McDonalds right there in Guayaquil.Now, you might think that after the abdominplastia, the blefaroplastia and the mamoplastia de aumento I would be in too much pain to start pounding my head and race around the bedroom in little frantic circles, but no.

Calls and hours later we discovered that our credit card had been “skimmed” at a seedy 7-Eleven in Tampa when Rich made an emergency stop for gas on an airport run. I guess this is a device they put right in the pump and it reads all of your info and then sends it off wirelessly to credit card fraud artists and before you can say “big titties” someone is having fun at your expense. So that was exciting. I will say, as much as banks get bad press, J.P. Morgan Chase gets beaucoup points from us for taking care of this in relatively painless fashion. So far, they have removed all the charges except the double cheeseburger with fries. Good bank.

Some of you already know about all this from my facebook page and you’ve even seen my new look.You like? I mean, it’s one thing to say, “make me look like Jean Harlow” but only in South America can you get the owl implant.


Eagles go and Eagles come

Down at Boyd Hill we’re all still feeling really crummy about the absence of Spirit and in fact, we’re having a little ceremony celebrating her passing tomorrow evening, complete with some Native American representatives. But then yesterday there was a little bit of “goes around, comes around” when we got the call that a new baby eagle was in need of a foster nest and our nest had been chosen. Well, it’s not really OUR nest, but the one that Boyd Hill aviary folk monitor. It was chosen because it’s already home to a youngster the same age- which we know because we monitor it. Anyway, this new juvenile came from a toppled nest near Okeechobee and was one of a pair. His sister was also relocated a few miles away in another nest but I guess you can only sneak in one youngster before the foster parents, who never signed up in the first place, go WTF? Because really? These are not small babies.Here is the Audubon person from the Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland getting ready to stuff the six-week old in a zippered duffel bag so he can be sent up to the nest. He was quite testy: bit her on the cheek. I’m telling you, eagle wrestling, as noted in previous posts, is not for sissies.Here he is, being dumped into the nest with the current occupant saying, “Hey! Get him the hell outta here!”Bird in a bag

Just to give you perspective. The nest is WAY HIGH up. It took the tree climbing bird guy a long time and a lot of negotiating to get all the way up there. Once he was in position, newly banded baby was unceremoniously scrunched into a gym bag and sent up a rope pulley. This was all done right around dusk and you know how birds quiet and calm down in the dark? Well, in this case, not so much. This was clearly not a case of slipping him in unnoticed and hoping that mom and dad would wake up this morning and think, “huh! Look what the eagle fairy brought!” They were very cranky while all this was going on and circled, swooped, darted and called the whole time.

Over the next few days we will keep constant watch to make sure the new addition to the nest is well cared for and fed and not pushed aside or injured. But eagles, by and large, make good foster parents. Spirit the eagle is gone, but we still have lots of eagle spirit about the place.Dad, watching over the human shenanigans in his nest. (Photo credits: Barb Walker)


If you had a pig and posted pictures of your pig on your blog and someone left comments like “Some pig” and “Humble pig” and signed them ‘Charlotte’ wouldn’t you catch on? Apparently not.

REROUTING! Make a legal U-turn!

(Hannibal shows off his pantaloons in hopes that Mrs. Hannibal has her GPS fully functional and will show up soon. He has the love nest all ready…)

Lord, sometimes I hate Gladys. And, apparently, she’s not so nuts about the mountains around Asheville, either. It’s always a bit scary in that Big Brother kind of way that she can pick me out in a parking lot here in flat Florida and even know which direction I’m facing to direct me left or right. She can do this even if she’s down in the side pocket of the car door. But take that phone demon into mountain terrain and she starts hemming and hawing and goes into stall mode. Apparently she has more difficulty finding a direct line to her satellites. Maybe that means, in a doomsday disaster, we’ll be a little harder to hit than say, Chicago.

Another thing. To go east in Asheville you go west. To go north you go south. The east-west highways run north-south. And because the city has grown rapidly, although the downtown area remains charming and full of aging hippies, there are many 4 lanes and highways running around the periphery. Any natural sense of direction one might have goes right out the car window and soon, between Gladys and having our intuition hopelessly screwed with- well, Cathy and I spent a fair amount of time on the 3rd day cranky in the car. Not to make excuses, but by then we had clocked about 14 hours in the tile and cabinet stores, I had spent many hours in deep conversation about HVAC, Rheems, seers, ducts, ampere,  tempered, trusses, and braced framing and bearing walls and I was on circuit overload, ready to blow a fuse. The worst thing that happened was I yelled f-you at Gladys and pitched her hard into the back seat, rendering her silent.

From there Cathy and I finished our trip with visits to the Folk Art Center and the Southern Craft Guild, galleries in downtown Asheville and finally, dinner at Doc Chey’s. My, but they have some fine ethnic restaurants in Asheville. We ate well the whole trip.

The house remodel will pick up steam but for now I am rerouting back in sunny St. Petersburg, with classes today, nuno-felt workshop on Saturday and then the pleasure of a visit from our favorite Chicago friends. Naturally, it’s supposed to cool off by the time they get here so it won’t be in the mid-70s. Still mid-50s and sun has got to be better than the unrelenting 20s and gray that they have had for a spell now. I missed the opening of The Artful Table exhibition where I have a couple of pieces (and my name on the wall). Several people went and sent me e-mails that, to a one, read: “The opening was wonderful. Your work is beautiful. OMG! THE CHOCOLATES THEY SERVED!” I think I missed something good. I’ll swing by today and take a few photos to post here.

A final note on good friends. I am incredibly excited to see our friends, Donna and Larry, this weekend when they come to visit from Chicago. We miss them very much; having them in the condo unit just in front of us, passing everyday by each others courtyards, walking and dining and catching up on each other’s week on Saturdays and Sundays- we miss them. Although I worry that I won’t have good friends out there on the mountain, I probably will. I’ve made good friends, the kind who remain long after you move, in every place that I’ve lived. Here in this blog neighborhood I also count myself fortunate. My friend, Wren, yesterday posted some nice photos of Mystic, the owl at Boyd Hill and you should go look. (Ooo! I just noticed that she updated and has photos of Wheezer and me! You did that exactly right, Jane. Thank you!) I love visiting her site and I’m not ashamed to admit that I like seeing my name on her “life list” of bloggers she has met.  Bonnie, who no longer keeps her delightful blog that many of us remember, continues to stop by and on a lucky day, I’m gifted with a bit of her clever and saucy poetry in my comments section. She was the first blogger I met in person and we both thought we were vaguely nuts driving to meet some virtual stranger until we sat down over lunch. I’m one of the lucky bloggers who has met that Cracker in north Florida, one of the nicest, most consistently informative, interesting and upbeat bloggers around. I’ve met the delightful and irrepressible Miz Mary, who talks (and thinks) sassier than she really is. Keri? I feel sisterhood with that midwestern woman. I’m most certainly the only blogger, anyplace, ever, who had the pleasure of sharing a room at the Bellagio with Ol’ Hoss, Gene Maudlin. His final post is still up and well worth the visit. The list goes on. You are all good friends. And in the coming year, I have big plans for a few more of you as I get geographically closer. Those of you who say, “Oh! Can I visit when you get on that beautiful mountain?” I’m holding you to that…

This past weekend I traveled with Cathy, a fellow blogger who lives just south of the Sunshine Bridge, about 20 minutes from here. She writes a blog that always starts with a bible passage and she writes about her faith in God as she moves through her everyday life. That bible thing may put off some people from reading her smart, often humorous, always thoughtful posts and I think that more people read than comment there. But here’s the thing: I know she writes that blog for herself, as a true journal. She’s not writing to entertain us. If we happen by, well that’s fine, but she’s doing that for herself. We’ve developed a close friendship; we share interests, family issues, love of similar things. One of the nicest things about Cathy is this: she NEVER makes me feel like the relatively godless person that I am (I know full well that she is actually praying to herself that we will get through TSA without incident while I am muttering and throwing death stares at the guy getting a good x-ray view of my underwear). She never judges me and her gentle and kind, calm manner calms me down inside. In other words, she lives her faith. Oh, and she makes me laugh, a lot. Having her as a friend and a traveling buddy is a real blessing indeed.

(As to your last comment, Bonnie:

Point taken, now I pore.
And you? never a bore!!
Your little ditties light up this place,
Bring a first thing morning
smile to my face.

Wildlife galore roams those mountains
Bear, wolves sip from flowing fountains
There’s a Tiger there, too, not far away
As the crow flies, less than a mile, I’d say.

It’s his FIRST! the billboards proclaim
Will we have Woods, despite the shame??
Rich cares not for the folderol
All that matters to him is hitting the ball…)


Oh, and a really final chuckle: Late Saturday night, back in the hotel room, Cathy and I were finally unwinding from three days of tearing around Asheville. We were watching a bit of the Olympics when, over in the corner, from inside my purse a voice chirps: “Rerouting! Make a legal U-turn!” We looked at each other and didn’t stop laughing for quite some time.