Written by Captain Mary on Sunday, September 23, 2012

A surprise party for my sister Cheryl, started over 10 months ago. I was contacted by my sisters husband, Joe, who wanted to make her day very special. The planning and keeping this a surprise was a big event. I must admit that I almost slipped up a couple of times, but it remained a surprise to the very last minute.
We took off on the Carnival ship Paradise for a trip to Cozumel, Mexico, but most of the adventure was aboard the ship. The sunrise marked the first full day at sea and the real beginning of fun. With Dad as my room-mate and some of Cheryl's friends we had a group of 8. The first day at sea we spent most of the time lost, but met up at events. We played Bingo, we went to comedy shows, we danced on the deck with the stars above. We even put on a Hip-Hop show, where Dad and Joe spent most of their time laughing at us. I must admit that I couldn't remember the moves at all, which made it all the more fun.
Woke up to a rainbow and everyday I wished my sister a Happy Birthday. I wish I could do this more often, that is, spending time with family, where the only objective was to enjoy each other and have fun. No worries about getting anywhere or having to cook or clean. Everything was taken care of by the staff. All we had to do was enjoy ourselves from September 13th through the 17th.

Our shore excursion was to see a beach and the ruins of Tulum, where the Mayan people once lived. A step into a long lost history. Of course, we had to stop off at a Tequila factory for some samples first. My first step into history had to be the fall off the tour bus, I think it had something to do with Tequila. I landed hard on my knees and heard a clunk of my camera hitting the pavement. The only thing I thought about was my camera, not the fact that I was laying on the ground still. I got myself up only after checking my camera. I am still sporting the bruises from the miss-step.

The guide at the ruins was very verbose, so I began wandering off to see the ruins on my own. As I began exploring I noticed that my sister had the same idea. Cheryl tried to wave the others over but they stayed and listened to the guide go on and on. We began our adventure and completed the entire tour alone. The Mayan people do have a lot of alters for their sacrifices. We continued our walk through the jungle that seemed like miles and finally caught up with the others at the gift shops.
After the tour we headed to a beach marked with sticks, they were protruding out of the ground all along the shore. The sticks were marking turtle nests, according to our guide there were 7 different kinds of sea turtles that made this area their nesting grounds. All along the shore I could see tiny tracts leading to the sea, where some of the turtles had made their way to the ocean. The water was beautiful and blue almost matching the sky. I only wish that we had more time to enjoy and explore, because the water is where I find myself the happiest.
Back to the ship for our journey home. We enjoyed our last day and night at sea. What a celebration for my sister. Fun was had by all in spite of the crazy tourist now and then. The weather was just perfect and our time at sea was smooth. As I drove home from Tampa after the cruise, I couldn't help thinking about my family and how perfect they really are. So many different personalities that make dysfunction fun. All I know is that there really isn't anything in life more important!
Now is time to plan the next cruise, more than 10 months from now, but as we all know time flies when your having fun.


Written by Captain Mary on Sunday, September 09, 2012

A couple of days ago, I went to check on the fish in my pond and noticed that more than half of my fish had been killed. Some with heads torn off, others gasping for air from poisoned water. I immediately flushed out the water and saved what I could. I could only think that a predator had been looking for something to eat.

I suspected that it might be a raccoon, but with no evidence it would be hard to prove. Last night I caught this rascal climbing through the dogie door on to my patio, where he made himself at home eating the cats food. My cats sat on the table next to him just looking with confusion. I scared him off and he returned, again and again, in spite of one of my cats swatting him in the face. I finally sent in the dogs and that seemed to scare him off for the night.

I can only assume that my dense landscaping made a great home for him. Plenty of places to hide and climb. All the key ingredients for the perfect home, water, cover and plenty of food. I see advertising that says a home owner should make an environment for wildlife, birds and small animals, a perfect place for butterflies and a peaceful environment in the middle of the brick homes and manicured lawns. Of course, they didn't mention that I would also attract the larger animals, that damage the once peaceful environment. I think the advertisers should also mention the side effects of all the hard work to make this landscape environment into an Eco-system. All I can say is that I made a successful environment for animals, but how do I get rid of the raccoon?


Written by Captain Mary on Sunday, September 02, 2012

Less then two years ago, I ate a delicious avocado. I think one of the best, the qualities of texture, nutty flavor and it was big and beautiful. I decided to grow a tree from the seed. Sticking tooth-picks along the side and put it into a glass of water. As the days went by I would watch it on the window sill and anticipated the growth.

I had an avocado tree once that bore two kinds of avocados on one tree, it was an amazing and a great producer of fruit. Hurricane Katrina knocked it over, but with much effort and help with hydraulic jacks, we somehow got her back on her feet. Then along came Hurricane Wilma  and down she came again. It was too much of a shock for the tree and she was cut up and discarded. I missed having avocados and now it was an opportunity to try again.

As the weeks past the seed sprouted in the little glass on the window sill, leaves appeared and it was finally time to pick a location in the yard to plant the seedling. It was too big for the window, yet not big enough to stand alone in the yard. Planted my new seedling in a pot with my composed soil and waited.

You may ask why I get so excited about planting seedlings, well my yard is a jungle with a canopy that rises above the power line, perhaps 40 feet in the sky. When I moved in my house there was only a few plants, very few. Almost everything I planted as young plants or cuttings and now it is a jungle with vines, orchids, bromeliads and staghorn ferns among the now large foliage. If you look up my house on google earth you will see a jungle in the mist of an ordinary neighborhood. I began this jungle in 1998. It seems like a long time, but the joy is watching things growing into a vision I had in my head. Now my vision, even though, seemingly complete is a never ending challenge to make more dense.

Now that the little avocado seedling has reached a size that is ready to stand in its place in the jungle. It began to grow, in less than a year and a half it had reached a size of 15 feet. The blooms began and I was thrilled, but didn't think for a minute that this very young tree could produce fruit. Much to my surprise as the blooms fell to the ground, I noticed a single avocado. Very tiny and my thoughts were that it could not survive the wind and rain of the summer. I was wrong, the little avocado grew and grew, and only when the threat of thunder storm Isaac's did I pluck it from the tree. Not long after,I got to taste the most wonderful flavor of my new edible plant. My avocado stands among the other edible plants in my jungle. I have a Sicilian white fig, bananas, ginger, chives, monstero deliciousa, coconuts, and palm fruits.