Man’s good intentions often end in nature’s disaster.

May 7, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Books, fishing, Reading | 7 Comments
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The

The “lone cypress” was used as the navigational aid to help boat captains find the mouth of the Caloosahatchee canal on Lake Okeechobee.

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how things used to be. The Geezer took Mrs G and me to a place that figured prominently in Florida history. It isn’t a site of a battle, or the first fort-school-etc. The sign in the picture above doesn’t commemorate a disaster, though one took place here.  However, what was done here changed the states future and continues to impact it today.

Say South Florida to most folks and they envision white sand beaches, tourist attractions, and a retirement Mecca. Before what occurred at the spot pictured, South Florida had a very different reputation. An army major serving during the third Seminole War described the land as, “Much like Hell with insects replacing the flames.” Half the year the flat land was inundated with “sheet water.” Sheet water is the result of the lack of change of elevation; rains flood the ground and they sit moving at a snails pace in any direction that’s a few inches lower. The land becomes one gigantic “river without banks.” It’s what creates the Everglades. This also was what served as a super incubator for mosquitoes, deer flies, and countless other pests. It was malaria and yellow fever’s home town. The fertile land beneath it was unusable in what was still an agricultural country.

Someone thought, “Why don’t we drain it?” The whole story of how Hamilton Disston was drawn into this enterprise as a result of a Florida fishing trip is a fascinating but long tale. The Disstons led by father Henry had become fabulously wealthy as a result of their development of saw technology. Drastically shortening the story Disston and the state of Florida played lets make a deal in the early 1880’s. Disston was to get half of the lands he drained. (An area the size of Connecticut)

The picture  above is the site of one of the primary results of his efforts. He dug a canal from Lake Okeechobee to connect to the Caloosahatchee River. The “lone cypress” marks the spot where the canal empties lake water into the river. It served as GPS, channel marker, and signage for the early water-born trade that helped develop this section of Florida. He dug additional canals on the south lake shore. His efforts resulted in the partial drainage of the land, the opening of rich agricultural areas, and eventually the Florida land boom … and bust … that added more to the unsavory reputation many Disston contemporaries bestowed on the “Sunshine State.”

The cypress and sign are located in the town of Moore Haven. It remains an agricultural area and a heaven for bass fishermen (and ladies). Ironically, the town’s growth promoted by the canal, proved deadly. In 1926, a hurricane killed 400 and was a precursor to an even worse storm. The 2nd greatest storm related loss of life in US history occurred when the 1928 hurricane killed more than 2500 a few miles east along the lake shore in the Belle Glade area.

The 1928 hurricane figures prominently in DL Havlin’s book, Blue Water, Red Blood. If you’d like more information on the storm and, how through some fantastic coincidences, the disaster helped win World War II, it provides a good read.

The canal historical marker is pictured below.

The historical marker in Moore Haven.

The historical marker in Moore Haven.

Today the canal remains controversial. Much of the pollution of the surrounding rivers, Everglades, and the costal estuaries are a result of Disston’s efforts to improve life in the area. Human’s are slow learners. We canines understand that screwing “Mother Nature” can result in creating a baby that turns out to be a monster.

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What happened here? …… Read the signs …..

May 4, 2015 at 2:42 pm | Posted in Books, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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A roadside historical maker - take the time to stop and read them and learn a lot about what made the US.

A roadside historical maker – take the time to stop and read them and learn a lot about what made the US.

The Geezer is at it again. The old boy has been working on this for four years. He’s deeply immersed in research for another book. He calls what he’s writing a “near-history novel.” His fictional characters accompany historical individuals as they relive their lives on the pages of his book. This one is titled, The Claytons: The Wild, Wild East. It documents the formative early days of Florida starting with the Battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina during the Revolutionary war and ends with Florida’s disastrous 1928 hurricane. The Claytons flee the colonies fearing retribution because of their loyalty to the English. They migrate to Florida where they hope to restart their lives. The family settles in an area and time that is one of the most violent in American history. Political intrigue, Indian wars, anarchy, civil war, unscrupulous leaders, greed, and a hostile environment test generations of Claytons ability to survive and their character.

Usually, when he searches for historical facts, I get left at home. Au contraire, mon amie. This time he stretched his meager human mental capacities and decided he’d take me along where my keen canine intellect would add depth to his observations. With the exception of certain museums and county records offices where there is still a bigoted bias against canines, he said he’ll take me everywhere.

The Geezer believes in visiting the historic places he writes about. It may look completely different than it did at that time, but he doesn’t care. He says he wants to develop a relationship with the place and visualize what it must have been like. The Geezer won’t admit it, but I believe he thinks he can establish a bond with the souls that lived there.

We visited a number of sites in the last couple weeks. I’ll be telling you about them in my next few posts. One thing is for sure: If you want to learn about a place, start by reading the signs.

Here I am, pointing the way to the next historical site. Note the royal pillow the Geezer provides for my head.

Here I am, pointing the way to the next historical site. Note the royal pillow the Geezer provides for my head.

An ocean … of flowers!

April 30, 2015 at 9:01 am | Posted in Books, dogs | 2 Comments
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A golden sea complete with waves near Trenton FL

A golden sea complete with waves near Trenton FL

My humans visited close friends in northern Florida last weekend. On their trip Mrs. G snapped this photo of a field of wild flowers. Undulations in the terrain create the illusion of waves rolling across the ocean.

The Geezer and Mrs. G’s friends live on the Suwanee River near the town of Bell. North Florida is a historically rich area that’s wild beauty is still in evidence. This picture was taken from Florida Highway 26 between Trenton and Newberry.

An unexpected bonus the trip provided was the accumulation of valuable historical information for his novel, The Wild, Wild, East. I’ll have lots more on this in my next post.

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It’s that time, the birds, the bees, & the manatees.

April 14, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Posted in Books, dogs, life, publishing, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing | 3 Comments
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A baby heron stands in front of its nest.

Tis the season. Spring time brings birth in SW Florida. We now have eight night heron nests, two green heron nests and a kingfisher all nesting in the mangroves across the canal. Up higher a red-tailed hawk pair is raising their young. The young night herons are about ready to leave the nest with the others all a little behind. There are seven Osprey nests scattered through our neighborhood, we wake up to their screaming every morning.

The manatees have returned to the canal to have their young as they do each year. We’ve only been able to identify one “baby” this year. There are seven who are spending most of the time in our canal. They come and go. But mom and little one stay there; it is a lot safer than braving the propeller blades they’d face in Charlotte Harbor or Pine Island Sound. Hope you enjoy the pics.

 

This years crop is ready to leave - adult colors are in place

This years crop is ready to leave – adult colors are in place

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Mom Heron is friendly and comes within a few feet to stand on our dock pilings.

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Mom Manatee and baby – BIG baby!

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Papa Manatee out for a cruise on Sunday PM

Spring has sprung!

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Advice – They’re talking about me … So what!

April 6, 2015 at 11:56 am | Posted in Books, Cats, life, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Secrets? Oreo & The Geezer in conference

Secrets? Oreo & The Geezer in conference

Do you ever get the feeling that people are talking about you? I saw Oreo my feline friend and The Geezer in a secretive conversation yesterday. I watched them whisper back and forth, glance around the room, and exhibit all the signs of two individuals engaged in a conspiracy. My vantage point was from under the dining table, a place hidden from their probing eyes.

I just KNEW they were talking about me! What had I done? What was wrong? Had I rolled in something more offensive than normal? Was my breath bad from the garlic on the left-over Italian steak scraps? Was I snoring in my sleep again? Then I considered that it might be something my human could be planning. Was he and Mrs.G going off on a trip? Leaving me behind? Would the pet-sitter be my only companion? For how long? Were they taking me to the vet? Shots? Did I have a mysterious malady? Was it Serious?

After their conversation broke up, I began to stew and fret. What disaster was about to befall me? I spent a sleepless night. This morning I looked at Oreo and the Geezer suspiciously and gave them the silent treatment. To my chagrin, they didn’t seem to notice. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more. I cornered Oreo and asked, “Old Buddy, I know something is wrong – tell me, I can take it.”

Oreo looked puzzled. He asked, “What are you talking about?”

“I saw you and the Geezer talking about me on the stairs the other day.” I tried to be contrite. “I sorry.”

Oreo laughed. “We weren’t talking about you. The Geezer was asking for suggestions. He’s looking for ideas for things he might give Mrs. G for their anniversary. He said he’d asked you also. You have a case of Canine Paranoidus?”

I remembered he had and I said, “Oh.” Where was my red rubber nose, my pointed hat, huge shoes, and clown make up? I felt foolish.

The Geezer wrote a piece of advice in one of his books that one of his characters gave to another – “It’s not important what others say or think about you as long as you’re happy with what you say and do. You can’t control their judgment … you can only control your actions that they base those judgments on … and, most importantly, only to the degree to which you want.” I have to remember that.

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Ever listen to TV ads? Are humans THAT stupid?

March 28, 2015 at 10:53 am | Posted in Advertising, Books, Current events, Media, TV, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Sandy says - Really?

Sandy says – Really?

 6 is > than 1

Really?

Anybody know how much a thirty second spot costs on national TV? I know they’re expensive even if they aren’t shown at the same time as the super bowl. Just a guess, but it’s probably at least in six figures. I’m sure some unbelievably smart human devises these brief messages composed to indelibly  etch a message on the viewers mind. But really? Are humans that stupid?

A couple of examples should suffice. Let’s start with the one that intends to enlighten it’s human audience about a product you stick up your nostrils. It’s supposed to do wonders for those with nose problems. It has six active ingredients, though the ad doesn’t spend much time saying what they are or what they do. What message does this bit of TV magic leave you with? My goodness – 6 is greater than 1! What a revelation! I assume the Madison Avenue geniuses fashioning this ad believe the majority of humans hunkering in front of their TV’s never made the third grade. Maybe they thought that college professors are teaching elementary schools and those students are learning nothing just like those being taught in universities. Whatever IQ level you assign canines, we know six is greater than one. Who wouldn’t want six treats instead of just uno.

Then there is an ad for something – I think it’s for a car, but the ad missed its mark with me. Maybe with you. If you’ve seen it, can you tell me who the manufacturer is? It’s about a bunch of humans cringing in an office building afraid of drones hovering outside. One human gives advice and, of course, everybody does just the opposite. They run – the drones attack – chaos – but why? The Department of Justice isn’t allowed to use drones to attack us like they said they wanted to, or so they claim they won’t. The superior smart ass in the ad rides off into the sunset as his car’s technology, the car whose name I can’t remember, outsmarts the drones’ technology.

And they pay humans to invent and produce those ads? It’s a wonder the low intellect species has survived this long. But, you can’t cheat evolution. Watch TV news – the way things are going, humans will be extinct in no time.

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Take this Poll … I know it’s early … Animals vs Humans for President in 2016

March 10, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Books, Current events, dogs, Elections, Humor, News, TV, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Geezer & I share a Christmas kiss

By word (or treat) of mouth – my choices to out run the front-runners.

Didn’t we just go through the modern version of the Spanish Inquisition? An election? The ballots haven’t had a chance to mold and the news media is consumed by 2016. Humans should revolt and burn down the TV news networks and newspapers and give us all a rest. The idiots incorrectly labeled “journalists” remind me of Shakespeare’s witches in MacBeth … huddling around the caldron chanting “Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, Parties Burn and Nonsense Bubble.” Instead of the caldron, their instruments of evil are microphones, word-processors, and polls.

Like their Shakespearean counter-parts they’re up to no good, trying to keep the populace angry, divided, and misinformed. Half the population wants to cut the other half’s throats and all are ready to burn Washington. (That might not be a bad idea if all the politicians and bureaucrats are there at the time it’s made into ashes.)

The information these news folks put out sounds as though it was gathered at a sixth grade sleep-over. It sometimes is a series: one side dares the other, the other side double-dares the first, and the first side double-dog-dares the second, and so on. Think … the tongue-froze-to-flagpole scene in the “Christmas Story.” Of course those actors were more mature. But, remember, we’re talking about humans.

Then there are the polls. You know, those things the media says measure your thoughts, but are designed to shape them instead. They try to make one candidate inevitable and one mission impossible. Well, I’ve decided to give my readers a chance to pick animal competitors for the 2016 Presidency against two of the front-running human candidates. Take the poll and encourage others to do so. I’ll send the results to the TV networks.

Meet the Manatees – my wet buddies …. Their reality show screen test

March 4, 2015 at 10:38 am | Posted in Books, dogs, Humor, life, publishing, Reading, Writing | 5 Comments
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    Meet some of my big wet friends, Mathew and Matilda Manatee. They just stopped by to say HI! Some facts about my friends … they live in the warm tropical waters around Florida and in the Caribbean. Mat and Matilda eat vegetation varying from sea grass to mangrove leaves. An adult can reach eight feet in length and weigh 500 pounds or more. They’re mammals, but can slow their heart rates to less than a beat a minute allowing them to stay submerged for long periods of time. They come into our sheltered canal each spring to make more manatees. You know – the birds and the bees thing.

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Words of wisdom from Dogfucius

February 27, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Books, dogs, Humor, life, publishing, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing | 8 Comments
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Words of wisdom from my canine cranium

Words of wisdom from my canine cranium

My human, The Geezer, often tells me how important it is to share our knowledge with others. As a respected member of DOGSA, I’ve decided to impart canine wisdom to my human readers in the hope of advancing that backward species. I will quote the great canine philosopher Dogfucius from time to time.

Dogfucius says – “Human men never complain about rain or snow at a football game, but cannot tolerate a light dew when cutting grass.

Dogfucius says – “Human women have great memory for everything that has been done to offend them, but can’t remember their weight, their age, or the last time they got a traffic ticket.

Dogfucius says – “”It is no coincidence the human spelling for big-shot and big-shit is almost the same.”

Dogfucius has spoken.

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It’s that time of year — in Southwest Florida

February 25, 2015 at 10:33 am | Posted in Books, dogs, life, publishing, Reading, Writing | 1 Comment
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The Herons have returned!

The Herons have returned!

It’s that time of year in Southwest Florida. Our nesting season has started. All five nests across the canal have been reoccupied by our expanding family of night herons. We’re interested to see if we have an additional nest of offspring who return to the mangroves where they were born. We’ve increased our rookery by one nest the past three seasons. Two pair of green herons are sprucing up their lodges interspersed in the same mangroves. We have two pair of Osprey that are building nests that are also visible from our porch. The strong winds over last few days severely damaged one nest, but mom and dad Osprey have reconstruction on full-tilt. I’ll snap some pics for you as things develop.

For all you shivering in cold climates, there is hope. Our high today is supposed to be 78F and it’s on its way toward you. Well, it may take a while…….

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