My friend, Craig, keeps emailing me, telling the temperatures and humidity levels up in New York. Apparently, they’re very high. Just yesterday, he informed me that the temps were in the mid-nineties and it was muggy outside. Today, it was one hundred and “pea soup.” He likes to call it that. Pea soup.
It’s hot. I haven’t been keeping up with the rest of the country, but down here in Florida, it’s about ninety every day. The nights go down to the mid seventies, which isn’t bad. Surprisingly, I think the north has been having a worse summer than the one we’re having, as far as being uncomfortable goes. At least down here, we were able to acclimate early on. When the real heat came, our blood was already thin.
I’m going to start this post off talking about positive things. Towards the end, I’m most likely going to delve into a bit of complaining. I know that people, in this day and age, don’t necessarily like to listen to others complain, but let’s face it – sometimes things need to be said. It’s healthy to do so and just like I told my sister Stephanie yesterday, “If you always look for the good in things, you’re essentially ignoring the bad. The things that, once upon a time, prompted people to act. After all, discontent is oftentimes the primary motivator for change.” I think I heard that somewhere. If someone reads that line here, they can say the same in the future. But first, let’s start off with…
Our plants are getting pretty big out there in the garden cage. Many of the flowers on our tomato plants have fallen and in their places are the fruit that was promised to me. Stephanie said, “As soon as the flowers disappear, you’ll start seeing little green balls.” It’s true, except that the little green balls are might difficult to see when they first develop. It’s generally not until they’re big green balls that they’re visible. I’d estimate that we have eight small tomatoes in all right now. There are tons of flowers, but they still have to do their thing. Next week, I’m sure we’ll get the action we’ve been waiting for with them.
We have two, what are now very large, squash plants. They’ve gone from what I thought would remain somewhat tidy little bush type things into large, overbearing monsters. They’re at the stage of producing flowers and I’m sure the beginnings of fruit is following closely behind. I can’t wait for this one. Hopefully I’ll recoup some of my investment when it comes to harvest time. Lord knows I’ve spent enough putting this whole gardening endeavor together. You know, growing one’s food isn’t all it’s cut out to be. The first year is rough, but I’m assuming following years become more and more streamlined, and not to mention – cheaper.
I know I’ve probably said this enough already, but our fig trees are probably about two inches taller than the last time I mentioned them. Whatever it is down here that’s making these things grow, they like it. It looks like their leaves are small solar catchers of some sort. The trees stand tall all day long with those leaves reaching for the sky. They soak of the rays like it’s their job. My buddy Anthony tells me they should start producing fruit soon. I don’t see anything yet, but if we do get figs, I’ll probably drop dead from sheer amazement. I never, in a million years, thought I’d be growing fig trees.
A few days ago, Laura noticed a dragonfly sitting on one of the plants outside the front window. It would sit, fly about ten feet away and then zoom back to sit in the same spot it just left from. It did this quite a bit, but overall, the dragonfly would sit much longer than it would fly around.
We know dragonflies are excellent models for photography. We’ve taken hundreds of pictures of them throughout our relationship and just recently we’ve come to discover that they’re only surpassed by the anole. I know I’ve told you this in the past, but the anole is simply stunning for photography. You can look at my pictures here.
Anyway, being as good as dragonflies are, we were left with ample chance to get some really great shots of them. Laura has a whole bunch of pictures on her camera and I haven’t even looked through them yet, so what I’m going to post here are the very few that I look. I managed to get a few different angles, which I thought looked good.
Please tell me what you think. I really like these types of pictures.
Snakes & Boots
I’ve been seeing a lot of snakes lately. After that gigantic rattlesnake I saw, I’ve been witness to a much smaller pigmy rattlesnake crawling along the side of the house, a fairly large black racer slithering out of the tree in the front yard and just last night, I saw two, what I think were, rattlesnakes in the road. Oh yeah, we also saw a small black snake in the road one night while we were out walking. Needless to say, snakes in this region are quite plentiful.
What’s a man, who likes to putz around in the back yard, to do? Well, for one, get some boots. As close as we came to that little pigmy rattlesnake, I sure would’ve been happier wearing some sort of protection. At the very least, a pair of tall, light rubber boots. Good thing Amazon had just what I was looking for at a very reasonable price.
These are called, “Tingley Men’s Economy PVC Knee Boot” and cost around $20. Not bad to keep the snakes and scorpions that Pete just happened to mention a few days ago away. And the boots are good. They fit very well and are comfortable enough to wear while mowing the lawn. Now, I’m well aware that people are going to look at me funny as I cruise around outside, sporting my sun hat and new rubber boots, but I’m not all too concerned with what people think these days. It’s one of the perks of getting older. The fashion show stopped after I graduated from college. Now, it’s just bliss, darth vader sun glasses and elastic that holds my jeans up instead of a belt.
I was on the phone yesterday, talking with Craig, looking out the back window, when I saw something walk by. I swear I almost choked on my tongue as I yelled, “The blobclat isll backll.” What I meant to say was, “LAURA, THE BOBCAT IS BACK!!!” Hold cow, I couldn’t believe it.
Walking right through the backyard, in plain and very clear view, was the bobcat. Again, I’ll tell you I couldn’t believe it. For the very first time in my life, I’ve seen a bobcat in what I like to call, the wild. I called Laura, she showed up and we both were able to soak up a nice long view of the thing. She suspects this one was smaller and skinnier than the cat she previously got on camera, but to me a bobcat is a bobcat. Craig kept telling me to get the camera, but at times like these, one must make a decision – enjoy the fleeting moment or try to record it digitally? This time, we decided to sit and enjoy. I know he’d run away the moment I focused my lens on him, so I didn’t bother getting up. And I was right, because after just a few moments, he ran in the rear of the neighbor’s house. Laura says that he came back to walk along of the canal in back, but I didn’t see him. Craig was talking about something or other and stole all my concentration.
Okay, this is the part of the post where I start complaining. Well, perhaps “complain” is the wrong word. Maybe “question” is more appropriate.
Here’s the thing – I use Facebook to post, for the large part, entries in my Jiu-Jitsu blog. I write a lot on my other blog and Facebook has a crowd that likes to read what I say. I’ve made many Facebook friends who have much in common with me and we share comments and writings almost daily. It’s decent and sometimes a simpler and faster route to get things in front of the eyes of those who care.
But other than that, I don’t use Facebook. Although, I do watch what other people are doing on this site.
I read something the other day that kind of hit a nerve. It said, “There aren’t more stupid people in the world, it’s just that we now have access to them.” After giving myself a quick “LOL,” I stopped to think a bit. If you know me, you know that I constantly question the state of humanity and I constantly conclude that we’re sliding down the tubes at an ever increasing rate. What I used to enjoy about people – their in depth knowledge of a topic, has transitioned into a somewhat perpetual grumpy state of trying to wade through the lazy 140 character “updates” on people’s existence. I ask myself, “What happened to us? What happened to the work and pride that was once put into our daily lives?” It seems that much of what we do has turned into quick one liners.
“Hold on Jay, let me just upload this baby picture to my Facebook page and I’ll be with you in a moment. I’m looking to get at least 20 likes before lunch on this sucker. By the way, check out this orange cat.”
I mean really? Is this what we’ve turned into? Is this why we were born? I’ve noticed that folks out there struggle to read a short novel, but can spend countless hours online scrolling through utter junk. Updates. I’m getting discouraged about the whole thing because honestly, as a whole, we really don’t need to be updated about 99% of the stuff that goes on in this world. We really don’t.
I remember when I was a kid in elementary school, I’d say something stupid. Immediately following my statement, my teacher would look at me and tell me to keep my mouth shut. I would and all the stupid thoughts that would’ve flowed through my lips following that, stayed in my mind. For the remainder of that day anyway. Even my mother would tell me, “Jay, nobody wants to hear it.” The problem with today is that stupid statements abound. They’re everywhere. If I turn on the news, I hear the words of idiot reporters, if I turn on the computer, I read the words of idiot people. And the worst of it is, if I mention these things to anyone other than my most negative of friends, I’m scolded for being negative myself. That I’m “not looking for the good in people.” It’s just that it’s getting mighty difficult to find the good in a twelve year old who’s yelling at a forty year old via a Youtube comment about snowmobiling in Maine. I can’t get away from it and it takes its toll.
Facebook is a treasure trove for people who should keep their thoughts to themselves. Much of what one writes on Facebook induces an eye roll on the other side. What shouldn’t have been said, is now said. The act of “liking” something, doesn’t excuse someone from either meeting a friend face to face, or picking up the phone to have a conversation with someone. Facebook causes us to not miss each other anymore and is creating a fast paced, addicted society with no soul. I swear, the goodness of “us” is failing. What once was is no more.
A few weeks ago, I was in Lowe’s shopping for a blueberry bush. I needed a mate for the one we already had and was unable to find the type I was looking for. On my way out of the garden area, I noticed a family of four walking by. The (what I suspect was the) husband, said, “Oh, I can get this!” His wife said something and his daughter remained silent. His son, who was about eighteen and very tall, trailed behind the family, staring at his cell phone. He was typing away and had no clue as to his whereabouts. He was either playing a video game or texting his friends. I remember looking at this kid telling myself that we’re all doomed. He could have tripped over something, fell flat on his face and not have even noticed. He’d keep that phone glued to his nose as he typed away. The next morning, he’d wake up and wonder why he hurt all over.
I had a long conversation with a friend the other day about video screens in cars. We think along the same lines – that while popping a movie in for the kids to watch is helpful in keeping them out of your hair, it’s doing absolutely nothing for a child who needs to see what the world looks like outside of their bedroom window.
When I was a kid, my family and I went camping every summer. We’d camp as far away as Vermont, Pennsylvania and Virginia. We had really great camping trips and I enjoyed riding my bicycle through a new area of forest every time we went. But what I enjoyed most about the camping trips I took as a kid was looking out the window of our car on the way to our destination and back. To this day, I can remember watching the sun come up as we were traveling south on 81 through the Virginia mountains. My father was the only other person who was awake in the car. He was driving and I had my eyes pegged outside my window, learning how the sky turned more and more orange with every passing minute. I remember thinking, with my limited vocabulary, “This is really cool.”
I see these kids with cell phones these days and I wonder how its all going to work out when they get older. They’re using Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and who knows what else to distract themselves from everyday life. It’s horrible and what’s even worse than that is the parents who let this stuff go on enable them. The kids don’t get it, but the parents certainly should. Under the guise of “safety,” a parent purchases and pays for children as young as ten years old to have their vigor and curiosity torn from their very being. I’m not sure, but I think I have the right to question these types of activities when I’m one of the adults among us – one of us who’s supposed to be offering up ideas for those who are younger – ideas on how to have a better life.
I’m nervous, but I do have a few thoughts. If asked today by someone who’s in, say, high school, about what actions they could take that may lead them to what they made deem as a worthwhile life later on, I’d say these few things:
1. If your parent comes home one day with a pretty new smart phone and tries to hand it to you, tell them no thank you.
2. If you have a Facebook account, close it. Rest assured that it is possible to meet and talk to people in real life.
3. There’s no need to record everything you do. It’s okay to go to the farmer’s market, enjoy it and then leave. No one else needs to know.
4. If you ever get the urge to leave a comment on Youtube, Facebook or any other social network, stop, think and then keep your thoughts to yourself.
5. Turn off the TV.
6. Don’t eat junk food and stay out of the inner aisles of the grocery store. The food in those aisles is there to make you sick.
7. Stop talking and listen.
8. Don’t stare at the sun.
I’ve seen two highly entertaining commercials lately that I thought I’d bring up in this more “honest” section of my post. One’s put out by some bottled water company and the other is put out by some sandwich company. They both claim they’ll make you healthier.
The first commercial shows two rather useless looking males (father and son), sitting on a couch, drinking soda and watching television. The useless looking mother, who’s sitting at the kitchen table clipping coupons, glances over at her husband and son and tells herself that she needs to protect them from the evils of “sugary drinks.” She says that by “reducing just one sugary drink per day and replacing it with bottled water, something magical will happen.” I forget exactly what will happen, but the point of the whole thing was to get your family to stop drinking just “one” sugary drink per day.
Seriously? Reduce by one? How many sugary drinks are these people drinking? I don’t know anyone who drinks soda, much less more than one per day. What in the world is going on out there?
The next commercial offers a six inch (healthy) sub (sandwich) for a certain price. It’s not the greatest deal, but when you add a twenty one ounce soft drink to things, it gets pretty sweet. Yes folks, a twenty one ounce soft drink. Need I say more?
I don’t know. I think this has been building up inside of me for way too long. Every day I wake up, I wonder to myself how I can live a “classic” lifestyle. One where I enjoy the creations of others. One where I can respect history and honesty and value. I think it’s a noble goal and one I may eventually achieve, but I’ll confess that it’s becoming more and more difficult to navigate a world where people bring one year olds to Disney World and where parents allow their kids to watch DVDs in the car. I can’t even count the times my mother told me to get off the couch to go outside and play. “No son of mine is going to be sitting on the couch all day when the sun is shining like it is. Get the hell outside you handsome little devil.” But today, for some reason, it’s all okay. No one says no. No one says stop. No one says save your money. It’ll all work out if we just stay on the path we’re on. Well, I have a question: What if it doesn’t?