Living in Florida, shells are a common collectible in most people’s homes.  It is also very normal to see dozens of shell stores up and down the major local thoroughfares, especially in the more tourism driven areas.  Shell collecting on the beach is a wholly acceptable act, when the creature that occupied it once has expired and the shell liberated naturally. 

However, there is a side to shell collection that is extremely disturbing, when looked at on a larger scale.  This would be the mass harvesting of sea animals for the shell and dried animal trade.  This is the taking of live animals and killing them in bleach and then sending them through a foreign distributor to the U.S. tourism industry.  What we end up with in Florida are exotic shells and dried seahorses and dried sea-stars from Southeast Asian countries,, some that have little or no regulation on the harvesting and collection of their own resources.

When shopping for seashells, one may come across conch of different species.  If there is a hole drilled in the shell that looks fresh, chances are, it was collected and killed, possibly for meat and mainly for it’s shell.  Around the world, conch species are under seige due to over-harvesting.  The exotic shape and large size of the shells contribute to the desirability of conch, therefore, they are under significant pressure from harvesters who gather as much as can be gotten every year. 

A common sight at department stores is a large cowry shell that has the weak tip drilled into and cut off. This kills the animal inside and then the broken tip is covered over with another snail shell to make it look decorative again.  Only a trained eye can see the detail involved in making the shell look genuine again.  How many get ruined and thrown away during the drilling phase of work? 

Another sea animal under seige is the seahorse.   These underwater beauties are harvested, dried and used for ‘medicinal’ purposes in Asian countries and are sold in tourist shops in the U.S.  This industry is huge and has resulted in endangerments throughout their natural ranges.  These issues are compounded by rising sea temperatures effecting the areas where these tiny, delicate animals need to survive. 

The popularity of the shell outlets in Florida shows how few  people actually see it as being a wrong thing simply because they perceive that the shells in these shops actually come from Florida.  There is no information out there indicating that these items came from a nation halfway around the world with no environmental controls to curb the depletion of natural resources.  Unfortunately, it is seriously detrimental to the future of these sea creatures and the habitats where they reside.  If only the innocent tourists and ignorant shopkeepers really knew the true cost of the industry.

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Fabrique en Chine

Stupid Wal-Mart was founded by Sam Walton, on the principle that Americans should buy inexpensive American made products. Not soon after he passed away, his son, who was the C?O/president/whatever, decided to foresake his father’s dream and ‘rollback prices’ by buying on the cheap from China. The rest is history. So many people shop at WalMart everyday that Walmart now controls 70% of America’s cash at any given time. And (almost) everything being purchased there is Fabrique en Chine. (made in China for the non French speakers)
 Do we wonder why there is an imbalance and why the Chinese are now experiencing a lifestyle that we were once accustomed to?  They keep getting richer and we are getting poorer.  So, every time we walk into WalMart (I actually haven’t for years), we help China.  We don’t help the Mom and Pop store down the street that was closed down because they couldn’t compete with the Big Brother of supermarkets. 

  The next bad situation that this brings to us is if America decides to start importing Chinese built cars.  With Japan reeling from disaster, what better time has there been for China to launch a cheap vehicle that the WalMart shopper would want to buy?  They will undercut everyone, even Kia & Hyundai. Guess who will continue to get poorer?  We are going poor by buying on the cheap.  Astonishing…

I am so anti-Chinese products, it hurts, but it’s ubiquitous and we are all so used to having it that we don’t realize how prevalent they are.  It’s time to come home and help our own economy.  Just buying American cars would help out immensely, not just cars built in America (toyota, honda, subaru -.-)  So – Read labels!  Educate yourself! Think globally, act/buy locally!  Support America!

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Yard arms…

There is something enchanting about the scent of orange blossoms mingling with smoke from a distant fire in the cool night air.  That’s what I arrived home to after work last night, as the wind gently wafted the aromas across the full face of the moon.  So pleasing… 

I need somewhere to plant all my sprouting seeds.  I may have to pot-up and sell some on the next yard sale day.  We are supposed to have a neighborhood sale soon…  Maybe I can get these things moving.  Or I could barter with Maggie’s…  hmmm…  what do I need?  besides more room and raised beds…?

Been slowly getting the yard to come around.  So many leaves, so little time.  And they are leaves from trees that don’t belong to us.  It’s a shame you can’t ask your neighbors to cut their trees down, especially at their expense!  Plus, I like the wildlife that collects around trees, and not having wildlife disturbs me.  We are so fortunate to live in an area that is still well inhabited by wild animals.   We have a lot of different birds and the morning is always filled with a chorus of calls from all around.  This reminds me of the mockingbird from a few years ago who learned how to imitate Scott’s car lock chime.   I hope the folks next door never sell and that orange grove stays around forever (yeah, right…)  It’s an important place for the neighborhood birds and other critters. 

Need Mr. F to set me up with the supplies to repair the irrigation issues.  I want that head that points at Gloria’s yard fixed.  It’s been messed up for years and he keeps avoiding it, and I am tired of it trashing her yard.

Nice to see the RM win at the Calderon.  Arse tied.  So did Lyon, which is ridic. 

Everyone wants to blame Gourcuff whenever Les Gones lose now.  The kid can’t catch a break.  For the ChampsLigue match, he comes back from geting his toe nail jacked up and can’t shape the ball well, so his set plays are criticized.  Even when he was out there making great runs up to the area, creating angles, running into space,  yet, nobody was sending the ball to him.  He had to fight for everything, and he really did try to get the ball to the net, unlike Licha, who sat back almost on defense, because he had to with RM’s amazing midfield speed.  So, Gourcuff gets criticized, even though they were playing a totally top class team.  X.Alonso’s sole role when they play each other is to hold Yoann, so that’s one of his biggest problems…  And I did detect some sniping between Gourcuff and Gomis at various points…  So things don’t seem to work in his favor recently.

MLS is back!  Charlie Davies scores TWO coming on as a substitute for DCU.  Keep it comin’ kid! Stewie Holden was stretchered off yesterday after getting his knee lacerated open.  Hope it’s not going to keep him out for long.  The Deuce scored his 10th goal of the season for Fulham (an American record in EPL), in a game that his friend, Timmy Howard, ended up winning with Everton.  It must be bittersweet to score against your friends.  So the European Americans are doing well recently.  Go Boys!!!  Giuseppe Rossi has been contributing a lot at Villareal, but it doesn’t really count until he starts playing for our NT.  slightly douche-like.

MLB Opening Day is coming!  Can’t wait to have games constantly on XM.  I wish that XM would play reruns of the games the way they do the EPL matches.  Some people can’t be in the car when the game is on.  I guess they can use their cells to watch these days.  I am so behind the times on all of these apps…  There is probably a Red Sox live game app that I could pay for and watch whenever I wanted.  Oh yeah – and Tivo, and DVR.  So, yep, I am behind the times.

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Spring is Forward…

with sunny skies, temps in the mid 70’s, the orange trees are smelling up the place…  daylight savings time is back!  What a gorgeous weekend.  It doesn’t get much prettier here.  Had Saturday off, then worked this afternoon.  Wish I had called out…

RM had a win this weekend, Barca tied, narrowing the differential a tad.  Lyon got a win on Saturday, Lille on Sunday, so that doesn’t change anything.  Lyon currently lies in 3eme place.  Les Dogues are formidable this year.  Les Gones need to step it up these next few weeks if they are to overtake the top two.  They have the pieces…

Scott actually liked the paver/rock design I made in the courtyard.  It’s too bad everything else looks like crap around it.  And it would appear that I severed irrigation pipe when I moved around a bird of paradise last year.  Ooops.  Guess I gotta fix that. 

My heirloom tomato seeds have started sprouting!  I can’t be happier about that.  It’s nice to see that come at least partial circle.  The proof will be when I pick and eat the first one, before an insect or animal. 

Mesclun is also starting to sprout, but I think it may be too late in the year.  Afraid it may all be too bitter to eat when I get around to harvesting.  The kids can just nibble away at it all when it gets big enough, like they do now.  I am really looking forward to a good result with the carrots and San Marzanos.  Onions too.  The scalllions are growing very well, but not the reds.  I may have flooded all the red onion seeds out be accident.  They are the only ones I don’t have going right now.  I lost a couple of cilantro plants by not watering their tiny pots, but that’s ok.  The kids don’t seem to like it that well, anyway.  There is plenty of other stuff to keep them occupied.  

Less birds in the feeders yesterday and today.  The nyjer is getting low, but I have plenty of my main mix to go around.  I am wondering if they all headed north?  The goldfinches showed up very nicely for a few days there.  Chipping sparrows were profuse. I couldn’t tell what other sparrows may have been visiting.  They all look so alike!   

I am having a speedometer problem in my truck and for the last few days I have been registering 115 miles per hour, at an actual 55 mph.  I took a pic on my cell, will find a way to download.  115 just kind of looks cool when you are driving, and the kids enjoy joking about how we don’t look like we are going that fast.  They also tell me to be careful.  So smart of them.

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March is coming in like a Leon…

After a week of what can be described as absolutely delightful weather, March 1st has come in with a brisk wind and a bit of rain.  We need the rain, as always, so that’s actually a happy thing.  Most people hate the rain, but we love it here.  Am currently collecting it in several different ways, but I would like to improve upon that infrastructure.  Cisterns should be a requirement on all new building, everywhere.  Personal water storage is the next great/ancient technology.  One only has to look at the elaborate storage of the ancient world to know that they understood the importance of good, clean water.  People these days just take it for granted.  Shame.

The fabulously warm air (80 deg F!) has brought out the green thumb, so, I started the garden!  So far, 9 pots are filled with plants, and seeds are popping on a daily basis.  In pots, thus far, purple sage, walking onion, chives (garlic; ‘Gigantic’; normal), thyme, mustard, cilantro (2 varieties) Swiss chard, vidalia onions, mints (candy;choc; pineapple), Zucchini, marjoram, arugula, garlic, lemon balm, dill, salade burnet, celery, lettuce, endive.  Coming from seeds, we have carrots, assorted tomatoes (San Marzano, cherry, asstd heirlooms), mesclun, cilantro, ital. parsley, papaya, red onions, green onions.  Need to bring in oregano, and some more vining veggies.  Planning a run down to  next week.  There should be some interesting items there to fill in the blanks.  San Marzano, French filet bean, Roman mini zuch and artichoke plants from Tasteful Garden have arrived.  🙂  Can’t wait to see how they go.  Really wish that I could closely simulate the growing conditions on the side of an Italian volcano.  How to procure volcanic ash and decaying olive detritus?

This all gets me thinking about composting, much to Scott’s dismay.  He’s never been a huge proponent of anything that he see as adding to his work load.  I could build it.  He would just have to mow around it.      

Scott has been asking when I am heading back to Maui.  Not soon enough!  We think that taking a child this time would be a really good idea.  It’s figuring out which child will accompany me that’s the hard part.  Choosing from your children is the hardest thing to do.  They need to make the choice for me.  I would really like to take Angie along, as well.  I have such a hard time asking her if she would like to go.  What is the big deal, Em ?!  I am such a dork.  It’s like I am asking her out on a date or something.  :-\ Anyway.  I am sure her guys would be more than willing to make an accomodation for her to venture out to the islands for a week.  I am just so sure that she would get tired of me by the end of the week.  Would have to be on my best behavior.  Stupid self-esteem…  oh the drinking we could do…  She would definitely have a good time with the Hopkins family.  Sue could take us on the bonus level ride out to Hana.  That would be da kine, brah!!!  Seven Pools, rain forest, Haleakala, Iao, Kapalua.  We would def have to work on our tans before we left!  We be pale chix.  Need to make a plan…

Very sad to see Arsenal knocked out by Barcelona in Champions League.  Next important match is Lyon at Madrid next week. 

The Sox have not been performing great this pre-season.  The big boys need to bring it on.  They may be getting a bit old, though.  Not a good feeling.  Speaking of that, worked a long evening tonight.  Feeling it in my bones.

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Closing in on the finish line…

The third week of kitchen work has come to a close.  All but two of the cabinet doors have been re-hung and I just need to make a jig for setting the door knobs.  Easier said than done.  I reckon I will spend Monday morning working on that.  I actually didn’t touch any paint today.  That’s a good thing.  After being elbows deep for three weeks, It was nice to take a brief break.

  Scott has actually talked about re-doing all of the doors with a different, new paint.  Neither of us likes the texture of the current new finish.  The latex enamel that he selected dries more quickly than the oil based type.  There is no chance for the paint to ‘run together’ and form a cohesive layer.  The brush marks are very pronounced.  So, he wants to change it already.  Aaaaggghhhhh!  That will mean removing all of the paint I just laid down.  I don’t know about all of that…

The new refrigerator is in.  It’s a KitchenAid with three front doors – two up top and one on the bottom for the freezer.  It’s sweet.  It’s got a touchscreen where you can ask it to perform different functions.  There is a USB port for loading photos that show up on the screen.  It will do conversions and dispense specific quantities of water.  It’s pretty neat..  Stainless…

Scott was picking up the matching range and while the men were loading it onto our trailer, one of them lost control and broke the cook top.  hmmmm.  brain surgery it’s not…  so that is now delayed while they order the new cooktop for it.  Can’t wait ’til everything is up and running.  Our current skinny oven has been a sore spot for me for years.  The new one will fill in perfectly.. 

The weather these last two days has been beautiful.  The ‘Smiths let the boys spend the night last night and then took them across the river to Cousins Rest. by boat this morning.  78 deg. is not all that bad for a February day when the rest of the states are pretty miserable.  Except, of course, for Maui, where it is always beautiful. 

Scott was talking about me heading back out there to see the family.  The notion of me flying with one of the children has been bandied about.  We would have to draw straws to see who would go first since we can’t do all of us at the same time.  I really want for them to experience the air there.  It’s just so… perfect.

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Kitchen- Week 3

Somebody remind me why I am doing this…  Oh, yeah… I’m the only one in this house capable of doing it.  At least, to any degree of skill and completion.  The end is close, though.  Should be the next couple of days or so.  The new reefer arrived on Saturday.  Kitchenaid.  Next will be a stoven to replace the Jennair downdraft/stove/grill top.  I hope we get another indoor grill setup.  That is THE BEES KNEES!  I don’t know if I can part with that.  I can live without the dead lower oven…

Juneteenth Pageant…  I wonder just how interested Martha is in this, now that she sees that it’s going to be ball gowns and tiaras.  Allison would probably pay her own entry fee just to be a part of the action.  That’s a lock…

The MLB is Baaacckkkk!  Pitchers and Catchers reporting this week.  I am getting the itch to make a spring training run to Ft Myers or Tampa.  Red Sox Nation!!!  Bring the noise!!!

Real Madrid was albe to come out of El Prat with a victory, even after seeing San Iker sent off in the second minute after a challenge on a 50/50 ball.  Unbelievable call.  Mourinho actually praised the head official after the game.  Hmmmmmm…  The win came on a miracle goal from Marcelo.  Adebayor had numerous chances to add on, but the Espanyol keeper was lights out.  I missed Ramos, but at least they showed a little bit of him on the bench, and his hair was beautiful.  Arsenal put together a nice win on the back of Robin v. Persie.  Toffees lost (poor Timmy) to Bolton (yay Stewie!), Liverpool tied Wigan.  Chelski plays Fulham tonite – C’mon Deuce!!!  Bring the noise!!!  And our boy Carlos Bocanegra scored for St Ettiene, who couldn’t hold off O. Lyonnais, 1-4.  Gourcuff looked good…


his play, that is…  he had some nice feeds into the area.  Who wouldn’t mind him feeding into their area?

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