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"I tried once to open too many doors at a time, it was unproductive and confusing.
I just learned the last lesson, Dad. I'm supposed to open just one at a time, and only when I reach them along the path, this 'hike' we are taking. That's when the key fits, and opens the lock perfectly, every time. Thank you, Dad. I love you, and miss you. I am blessed with an amazing husband now, he holds my hand as we walk along paths too. We are climbing a little steeper now, with more effort, and thinner air. But I'm not worried. I am looking up. I am living in the moment, being now. Because when we get to the next door, along our path, I know, Dad, . . . that key is going to fit, perfectly!"

excerpt from Pony, 6/6/2013 post
© ruth follmann

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License

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Bridal Shower Beauty and Gratitude

Overwhelming emotion and gratitude have me still reeling from the privileged invitation to my eldest daughter and son in law to be, Deirdre & Justin's wedding shower this past July 26th, 2015. It was extraordinary!

My youngest daughter, Tara, is dressed in green on the right of the first photo. Thank you, Tara, for your kindness, for opening your home to me, and hours of patient driving to and from the airport.

Deirdre's beautiful and endlessly giving mom in law to be, Shelia, reserved a charming top notch Italian restaurant for the occasion. The owner of da Baffone, Cucina Italiana, Camille Giangrande, reached out to all as if we were family, as did her staff. The seven course lunch and two choice desert of Italian Spumoni and cake, as well as, house drinks were to die for! My taste buds exploded with delight as we all could hardly keep up with the next choice served us! da Baffone charmed all with enchanting Italian opera songs that swirled about carrying smiles, great conversations, sparkling wine, and smells of delicious food to make this shower unforgettable!

Shelia made sure every detail was exquisitely perfect, showcasing the prize deserving decorated cake, adorned with Deirdre & Justin's wedding colors, emerald and champagne. Sheila also beautifully arranged trays of hand painted cookies, shaped like vintage keys (a theme at the wedding to be) and hearts, as well as, hand dipped decorated pretzels drizzled in emerald green (Shelia made the pretzels herself!). Shelia even decorated the bride to be with a beautiful wrist corsage, and each table tastefully with delicate flower arrangements and lovely Italiano gifts for each guest.

The shower was a room filled with love and happiness for the deserving well-suited couple. One of the pics shows a gift in portrait Justin's aunt, Susan, an amazing and talented artist, drew from a photograph of the two.

Another boasts the bride and groom's differing favored football teams, the Bears and the Packers, by a gift of travel mugs from sister in law, Jaime, smiling behind the couple!

The sixth photo shows Deirdre and Justin seeing one of Mr. Ken's fossil sculptures sent along as a wedding shower gift. Ken crafted shark teeth and other fossils to create a Sea Horse, delicately placed upon a piece of coral Deirdre and her sister, Tara, had found along the beaches of Key West, FL when they were children.

The Bride and Groom to be were very careful, despite the giggles and taunting from the group, not to break any gift ribbons. The breaking of each gift ribbon, according to wedding shower tradition, results in a child for the couple to be after marriage. No ribbons were broken, only one was untied by Justin, the meaning of which was deemed to be unknown as all smiled and laughed. The couple wisely plan to travel and enjoy life a bit after the wedding before starting a family.

Shelia arranged an adorable game where the bride and groom sat back to back in their chairs and raised the shoe belonging to the one they felt best answered a question they were given. The giggles turned to laughter with each question posed to the couple, especially when they had differing answers, shown by raising a different shoe!

I, at times, felt like a sow's ear in a silk purse, being a person of a humble background, (which fork do i use?!?) but Shelia invited me to sit at her table and made me feel quite at home! My sister in laws, Katie and Bridget, Deirdre's aunts, kept me under their loving wings too!

Thank you, Shelia, for orchestrating this never to be forgotten, beautiful wedding shower! You are amazing!!!

The weekend was a chance to reunite with family i haven't seen in years, a gift that unfolded from my daughter's wedding plans that i will deeply treasure. I am so grateful. I regret not having more time to spend with my daughter, Deirdre, the bride to be, to sit, spend time, and talk. Life sometimes affords us small windows of time; we must take them and be satisfied.

My heart overflows with the sincerest gratitude for the dedication, care, and love shown Deirdre from Justin and Shelia during the trying times of Deirdre's two surgeries. Shelia herself cared for Deirdre only two weeks after a surgery of her own. I cannot have found a better or more caring mate and family for my daughter than she herself has chosen. The Cramer family is truly a rare gem, as is Justin. When one catches his glance of the true love and dedication he has for Deirdre, and has had for years, you know these two have found a gift in each other in a marriage to be and as friends.

Above and beyond that, I am forever indebted to Deirdre's generosity to reach out to me and share this important event in her life. The outstanding woman my daughter has grown to be, a successful business banker, a strong community volunteer and event planner to champion a cure for cancer, a loved companion to Justin and family member of his own, a true friend to many by the measure and number of open hearts she has touched who were also celebrating the two on this wedding shower day, is of no surprise. Deirdre has always been a source so strength, friendship, and humor to others since she was very young. She befriended a blind classmate, Laura, and they stayed pals until high school separated them to follow different paths. I remember Deirdre being very ill one day when she was young and saying she had to still go to school to help Laura. She is a tireless, selfless bridge builder. She knocks down walls. She constructs new beginnings.

I am so happy for Deirdre and Justin, and the life they are planning together. I am proud of the woman my daughter has become, despite my happenstance single mom parenting, when she and her sister were young. I am certain the future Deirdre and Justin create will be one that is built on solid foundations of love, hard work, and understanding. That is the only way a marriage survives. My wise daughter knows this before crossing into those vows. I am so very proud of her.

Best wishes, Deirdre and Justin! Ken and I look forward to sharing the event of your wedding day in October! Thank you for that gift in invitation as well. We love you both so much~

A montage of my beautiful daughter, Deirdre, is included in this video created years ago. I couldn't be happier to know she is safely under an umbrella of love and care in her life now, and soon to be, as Mrs. Cramer~

under my umbrella, a dedication to my daughter, Deirdre;=1

link to da Baffone, Cucina Italiana

If you are a Facebook member, check out Justin's band: Pirate Radio! They are an energetic "booty shaking" cover band Mr. Ken and I look forward to hearing in person one day!

Sea Grapes, Sea Nuts, Sea Dog

Last wonderful weekday Wednesday, inspired us to take Ms. Isabelle, spoiled dog extraordinaire, to the Bonita Dog Beach! What fun! We headed out around dinner time, to miss the traffic. Everyone was leaving the beach as we were heading in. The tide was low so what pups and people dotted the sand had plenty of room to romp and walk.

We were greeted by dozens of little hermit crabs scuttling along before us as we walked towards the beach. Izzie immediately made new friends running and chasing fellow canines, as well as, swimming/running up to every person she could find wading in the bath warm waters or walking along the beach. She would patiently wait for a 'little love' and then run back to us to make sure we were ok. Then off she would go again to visit everyone, canine or otherwise on the beach!

It was so much fun to watch the different breeds interact and hear the stories from each owner as to how their dog gives more meaning to life. We couldn't agree more! We met a very nice gentleman, explaining how crowded the dog beach is at high tide and on weekends, when I spied Izzie swimming out to sea! She was headed towards an incoming boat with two poodles bravely stationed on the bow of the boat. Apparently, Iz had designs to meet them as well. We called her back. She turned only after repeated calls and then reluctantly. The boat dropped anchor across a narrow but deep channel to an island within a rock's throw distance from ourselves. It was clear then why these fearless poodles were at the bow. The boaters set these little muppets on the beach and boy did they enjoy a run!

We continued our walk, surveying the beach, to be further intrigued by the elevated sand formations that dotted the entire surface. We promptly named these formations: 'sand squiggles' (ok, i did). Mr. Ken dug down to see what creature might be the cause of these little mounds that appeared as if they were made by left over cake icing, pilled happenstance with sand. He discovered no creature, but we recorded a close up for future research.

Izzie loved swimming in the inlet. A fish jumped near her and she took off in pursuit of that critter too! She had a fantastic time, as did we! When we walked to the platform to spray the salt water off her, I looked up to see nearly a dozen giant spiders who had built webs between two closely run power lines. We found these spiders exibited this 'condo' behavior up and down the power lines that bordered the highway. The mangroves had started spilling out mosquitoes, so the spiders knew exactly what they were doing. Each spider, about the width of a plum, held firmly to the hammock web they had constructed, as it softly was pushed and pulled with tension in sync with the shoreline breeze.

We treated Isabelle to a drive thru plain hamburger once we arrived home. She ate the burger, as she always does, in one piece!

We hope to return to the dog beach, off season and low tide again, for another meet and greet of friends and fur, as Izzie shares her water dish and us great conversations.

Hoping your weekend is as lovely as our outing was~ peace to you and yours

Bonita Beach Dog Park link:

Lee County Alliance for the Arts Dog Days of Summer Member Exhibit Opening Reception and downtown Fort Myers Art Walk

Mr. Ken scored another first in his dive into the art world. As a new member of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts, Mr. Ken was excited to participate in the Dog Days of Summer Member Exhibit.

Yesterday's opening reception swirled with summer/dog themed art to include: photography, sculpture, quilting, mixed media art, and great conversations, wine and snacks.

Ken and I enjoyed meeting several of the other artists. Lisa is a talented artist who uses painting and other mediums to make her works literally jump out from the canvas! She is as energetic and charming as her painting! We enjoyed meeting her husband, Stephen, as well. Lots of smiles!

We were joined by Bob and Odette, Ken's brother and sister in law. The four of us picked out our favorite pieces, besides Ken's sculpture of course. Odette and I both chose Lisa's bright sunset sailboat painting, with the sailboat jumping from the canvas, as our favorite. Bob chose a dusky evening boat bow moving through Florida reeds that was not for sale. Ken found a black and white enhanced vintage photo that reminded him of his childhood home in Chicago with a stone garden wall fronted by a dog watching over a toddler in shorts with suspenders.

What a fantastic time to see, after all of Mr. K's hard work and dedication to his new talent, the beginnings of the honor he deserves! Mr. Ken let his work stand for itself to be seen. At other times, he was showered with questions, photo ops, and compliments as he was recognized as the sculptor, with his tell-tale Megalodon shark tooth necklace and shark tooth fossil studded cowboy hat! I was happy to see him enjoy this balance.

Everyone marveled meeting my favorite version of Ken's Mega Mouth series to date: 'Jersey'! I nicknamed this shark 'Jersey' because he is 'Jersey tough'! There were lots of ooo's and ahh's in seeing this tough looking shark tooth fossil sculpture~

We finished the reception with a walk around downtown Fort Myers. The first Friday of the month sports an Art Walk downtown with streets blocked off to showcase local musicians and artists. The galleries were open, with streaming customers, karaoke, live music, open shops, and pouring wine from within the galleries.

Mr. Ken and I were taken in as the blond petite directer of 'Arts For Act Gallery' (owned and operated for abuse counseling and treatment services) entertained the crowds with her sultry voice singing vintage blues. Beautiful!

She was the backdrop to an artist I stood next while he painted by streetlight cosmic outer space scenes, one with a brilliantly colorful rain forest frog comically resting on a planet of his own size! Outstanding! Mr. Ken has been invited to display in the Arts for Act gallery soon.

Being a 'teetotaller' (annoyingly due to medication) I indulged my olfactory senses, to lead our steps to the door of a New Age Mystic stone and incense shop, 'So Mote It Be'. We were delighted to meet Patty and learn about these little charcoal biscuits that can be lit and topped with pantry herbs and spices to infuse the air. Patty was burning allspice and dried lavender. Amazing!

What a wonderful evening to satisfy all the artistic senses~

We look forward to Ken's show this October with the Alliance, 'Fall for the Arts', where he will be able to display his collection and offer historical background into his medium, fossils, by an educational presentation. Mr. K is also scheduled to participate in the Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, Cape Coral, FL.

Cheers to Ken and wishes that your weekend is just as delightful as our began!

Lee County Alliance for the Arts:

Lisa Freidus, Artist: Acrylic, Mixed Media, Monotype, Watercolor

Arts for ACT Gallery, Fort Myers,FL

Patty of 'So Mote It Be'
2267 First St #15, Fort Myers, FL 33901, In the Historic Arcade

Cape Coral Festival of the Arts

had to add our own Isabelle pup for her own Dog Day's of Summer contribution~

"By the Sea" - Sweeney Todd : The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) - Helena Bonham Carter

Time to Hit the Salt (water that is)

Mr. Ken has transitioned again this 'rainy season' from fresh to salt water fossil hunts. With the creek waters now covering even earlier walking paths, Rockman joined his fellow fossil hunters on board a charter to try their luck in 5 to 15 foot visibility in Gulf waters, a mile and a half off shore of Venice, FL.

The trip included three separate dives. Mr. Ken saw two yellow angel fish, with long tendrils trailing, as they swam side by side. He also spotted a small ray.

A nice sized Mako shark tooth, a horse tooth, turtle shell fossils, a beautiful whelk shell (not live), and various mammal bone fossils were among Rockman's finds.

Fossils are searched for and found much differently in the ocean than in the creek beds. Saltwater searches can stir up 'silt' on the ocean floor and disrupt the 'vis' (visibility). A waving motion of the diver's hand (known as fanning) moves the silt to disrupt the surface, and hopefully the current clears the water for fossils to be seen more easily. The areas to 'fan' are ones where broken fossilized bones and shells are seen.

One of Mr. Ken's first salt water Megalodon fossil tooth finds came with the assistance of a sunbeam through the water to outline the large shark tooth before him as he combed beneath the waters at Venice.

This trip included a routine visit of a 'free-loader', according to the boat's captain. An Anhinga bird, comically named 'Dave', took his perch at the bow, as he does regularly at this dive spot according to the skipper.

What a great mid-week fossil trip, Mr. Ken! So glad you shared your time with us when you 'hit the salt'!

Serenity of the Peace

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Mr. K is disappointed that water levels from the now arrived 'rainy season' have limited his fossil hunting trips. As you can see from the end of our 'dry season' pic, the shovel handle is nearly underwater while hunting in the river stream. The added risk of gators also makes the decision easy to go to beach instead of the river. Sleep tight, little fossils. Rockman will be back to nudge you to daylight in the fall~

see what Mr. Ken is creating with his fossil finds at:

He has been accepted into two galleries, and is awaiting fall art shows to participate with as well.

Calusa Heritage Trail ~ Pine Island

Mr. Ken announced last Sunday, we were going to go out and see some of the beautiful Florida that surrounds us. Wow, did he pick a great spot!

Armed with lots of insect repellent, we toured the Calusa Indian Mounds at the Randall Research Center on Pine Island, about thirty minutes from our home.

The Calusa built mounds of shells, higher ones for Indian royalty, surrounded by a series of canals. The highest mound, Brown's (annoyingly named after people who built on mounds, decades after the Calusa were driven from the area) is 29.5 feet high. What a beautiful view in the Florida mist before the rainstorm we dodged!

Smith Mound, named after a Captain Smith who preserved the mound, is made of sand. It is the sacred burial mound the Calusa built.

Mr. Ken is pictured standing in front of a white lead tree (Leucaena leucocephala). The pods were gigantic and had a hard woody exterior. It is a type of evergreen.

We also spied a beautiful Dogwood tree, sporting bright red fruit. The island had many mango trees with fruit ready to ripen on the branches.

The medicinal tree of the area, utilized by the Calusa, was the Gumbo limbo. It has a beautiful shiny cocoa brown trunk and branches that appear to be artistically carved and twisted into living sculpture.

What an amazing walk with my loving husband who appreciates the same important things I do, historical anthropology, the beauty in nature, and trees.

links for more on the Calusa Indians: Sites in Southwest Florida

Lizard Lecture at the Leaf Lectern

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Mr. Ken and I took a 'walk about' on Pine Island at the Randall Research Center on the 'Calusa Heritage Trail'.

Amazing pics of the Calusa Indians' shell mounds (ancient hills built of shells) to come.

When finishing our walk, in keeping with my bad habit of looking down that my Father always teased me about, I spied this Reptilian Orator to be!

This little Chameleon Chatter was at his 'Leaf Lectern' ready to commence a speakin!

We had to giggle as this little guy never moved a muscle from his photo op spot! What a grandstander!

Keep looking up! (or in my case, down~) :)

thinking of you, Dad, as you would sing Froggy Went a Courtin when we hiked.

'Hoo' wants to go fossil hunting?

Mr. Ken and friends hit the creek again, this time under a pair watchful mother's eyes! (she really was napping~it's tough being a mom!) How fitting for two days after Mother's Day!

This Barred Mother Owl was cool and calm, nearly bored by the fossil hunters. Her youngster nearby had an eye popping expression of intrigue at three guys digging in the creek! Beautiful birds!

Veteran fossil hunter, Kyle, pulled a mammoth tooth out of a bank like a cookie from a jar! This hunter has the 'Midas Touch' lately! Great job, Kyle!

First time fossil hunter Eray unearthed a generous amount of various shark teeth and turtle shell fossils. He even scored a horse tooth! Welcome aboard, Eray! He promises to be back with friends.

Mr. Ken did some delicate sifting to find a coyote tooth. He also discovered a partial deer antler!

All finds were approved by the lazy lizard, also taking in the trio's activity!

Great day, guys! Keep the fun and pics coming~

'Raising Arizona: Way Out There: by Carter Burwell