Monday, February 21, 2011

Once upon a time in the land of Books...

The time between creating copy and producing a finished books was often measured in years, rather than months, weeks, days -- or in the case of e-books, minutes -- a little while back.

I'd bet more than even odds many of today's readers; and quite possibly writers outside the print 'n ink production business, had anything beyond a rudimentary grasp of the process.

I hope this "clunky" version from the past, when dresses were long and haircuts were short, will entertain and amuse you as much as it did me.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Allergies in the Air - Spring Break is Here!

This is 'Gator country!
Not just for the the University of Florida's Gainesville-based football team, but the original occupants of the land - ALLIGATORS!

This beaut was catching a few rays one March a couple years back when I cruised Dunn's Creek, a tributary off of the "upside-down" north-flowing St. Johns River. The unusual body of water runs "uphill" from a marshy section of central Florida, deepens to a depth which allowed a Civil War Naval Battle to take place near Sanford (North-West of Cape Canaveral)and enters the Atlantic Ocean near the Georgia state border.

College kids from around the country usually flock to Florida for a Spring Break, round about now, after going cabin-crazy on snow-bound campuses throughout the rest of the USA - Canada and few European. For years, Daytona Beach was a partying mecca, with white white-sand solid beaches where cars can be drive.

But for those who headed into the state's wilderness areas in search of sport - or on a "funny" mushroom hunt - could bump into one of Florida's living symbols, catching a few rays.

Always, with one eye cocked for any pale snacks which might splash his way!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

True Love Lasts Forever

These old friends share a true love which outlasts frippery and frolics of the Hollywood variety, beyond retailers boxes of chocolates, geegaws and cute cards meant to stimulate trade.

The applied lipstick, transfered to a slip of paper, left an impression of "The Perfect Kiss" - mebbe!

They entered the fun and feel of the day as a time of exuberance, far beyond the conventional sell-by date, to captured its spirit with a sense of companionship and competition.

They made MY day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another Day In Paradise

Nothing quite spices up the morning when, stooping to retrieve the paper from the driveway, a succession of pistol shots are fired nearby.

Pop-pop. Pop-pop-pop-pop, pop-pop, pop.

The possibility of one's neighborhood being featured as the headline in the next day's newspaper, suddenly becomes very real.

It happened in my neighborhood yesterday, shortly before 7am when the steady thrum of rubber tires on asphalt from the nearby four-lane highway, drowned out the sounds of bird-song and cockerels crowing. Yellow school bus diesel engines purred in concert, collected in a convoy as they neared the small community's single traffic light at the cross-roads, readying to turn toward the Middle and High Schools.

Dogs of all varieties, in, out and under a cluster of mobile-homes scattered within sandy and wooded lots bordering washboard dusty roads, yelped and barked.
Not a soul was to be seen except a cluster of scared-looking parents and children gathered, waiting for the later Bible School bus. Safety and curiosity tugged, briefly, before caution overruled and retreat to the comparative safety of the cedar-frame and tin-roofed Victorian house, won out.

The 911 Emergency Operator said she was already aware of the gun-shots, thank you very much, click!

Its very unsettling knowing one's active imagination has NOT transformed the backfiring of an old clunker, somewhere in the distance, to the reality of lethal gunfire nearby.

The instincts of a lifetime on the front lines of police reporting, pen and camera pushing toward the greatest source of activity to determine who did what to whom, when and why, were strong. However, as a “civilian” one has the right to pay pay taxes, call on the law when necessary, but otherwise, stay below the radar. Also, with maturity comes a realization of personal vulnerability and likelihood of becoming an innocent-bystander victim caught in a collateral collisions between good and evil. The certainty of invincibility dissipated along with hair and original teeth.

Dozens of scenarios race through ones mind: a domestic dispute, a drug-deal gone sour, feuding neighbors or an early celebration of an unknown Latino holiday. That last was cruel but real. Seems there can be no event, whether its the birth of a newborn, the outcome of a football/soccer game, or heralding the New Year, without fireworks and gun-shots.

As any student of Newton's Law of Gravity knows, what goes up must come down. And bullets, after peaking at their trajectory, have a return rate to earth of 32-feet per second per second.

There was nothing about the shoot-out on any of the area television newscasts. Apart from bickering, babbling and preening for the cameras – always a a split-second after the angle changed – the studio clowns joshed their way between an avalanche of commercials, weather reports, traffic updates and canned network newscasts,

No sense calling the local newspapers during the current economic crunch to get a recoded message stating: “You have reached an unoccupied desk. If you wish to leave a message call...” following by a string of gabbled numbers no one unfamiliar with could possible retain.

A day housebound, at least until the sound of sirens in the distance; patrol cruisers, emergency vehicles, fire-trucks fade away for good.

The laundry, file sorting, bill paying, tasks set aside for a rainy day loom as an immediate time filler until its deemed safe to venture out to the bank, post-office and grocery store.

All doors and windows closed and locked, while the mighty-mouth AM radio jockey babbling in the background, just in case a listener with a police monitors calls in an up-date.

The Middle-East is in turmoil, there are two wars being waged overseas, airports are combat zones with frisk and squeeze security scans, terrorists with bombs in their skivvies fly the friendly skies overhead, and some nutter is firing shots in the neighborhood.

And, as someone with the ear of the nation was wont to say as he signed off his newscast: “That's the way it is.”

Can't wait to pick up tomorrows newspaper and find out what happened – but not holding my breath of any explanation.