52 entries categorized "gulf coast"

On Contentment (and a favorite book for free)


Yesterday, while browsing through the free books available on my Kindle, I was delighted to see that one of my two favorite non-fiction books, a book that started me on a journey of contentment, is free right now! 

I was searching through Just Pure Lovely to see if I'd written anything on the book, Calm My Anxious Heart, and found the below, written in 2008.  It only mentions a quote from the book, but I'd still love to repost it again, as the post below was a great reminder to me! 


The other day, my man surfed the internet for homes and land across America.  He found something far away that sounded fabulous, read the description, and we said, "Oh, that would be great," then he found another even farther away and it sounded so very nice, too, and we said, "Oh, that would be great," and so on.  We did this for quite a while.  We do this often.

As he read yet another description of an even more fabulous place, I thought, why are we never happy where we are? 

Two women looked through prison bars. 

One saw mud, the other saw stars.*

The mud:

Our area has mostly flat land. There are no mountains and very few hills from which to view anything.  The forests are full of tangly vines (think kudzu) and gnarled branches, making them nearly impassible. There is a very thin 1/4" of topsoil, meaning we're really just living on sand, and gardening is tough.  We have very humid, very hot summers.  The sun is hot here.  Very hot.  And we have hurricanes.  Or at least the threat of them.  Some people complain of a lack of seasons. There is no snow, that's for sure.  We have the dreaded fireants in every yard.  They hurt.  Oh, and we have cockroaches.  Not the invading-the-house kind, but the come-into-the-house-occasionally kind that scare you crazy because they are 2-3 inches long.  And some fly

The stars:

Sigh, our beaches: pure white sand, emerald waters.  Close proximity to those beaches might mean an occasional hurricane, but it - and the flat land - means we get sea breezes miles inland.  Lemons, bananas, and oranges grow well in sandy soil.  Our gardens produce  year round, with enough soil ammendments.  We have birds year round, too, the prettiest during winter.  Winter?  Yes, we have our winter, which is cool, not cold.  The sun shines almost every day, through blue skies.  We have miles upon miles of bayous, creeks, rivers, inlets, lagoons, bays and gulf to explore.  Much of the area is preserved, so there are nature trails and forests and beach preserves in all directions. 

I didn't even get around to mentioning the people or the cities, but I could do the mud and stars on both of those subjects, too.  Do you get what I mean?  It's all perspective. 

Thinking all this over, I finally said to my man, "What if.  What if we could find a place in a tiny town on a bay with streets decorated in flowers, within a half hour of the beach, and nestled between two mid-sized American cities with their arts and cultural centers and deep history?  What if the area's shopping and entertainment options were great, yet it also has lots of nature preserves?  What if the weather was mild and we could garden all year?  Oh!  And what if the house was not fancy, but comfortable enough, and situated on a river?!" 

He sent me his smirk. The one that makes me giggle.  But I knew he got it.   I was describing home (and its stars).

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*from Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow.  If you want it, get it while it's free...they often change those freebies overnight. You don't need a Kindle to read it; you can just use the free Kindle for the PC.

Our River

We've been enjoying our backyard river so much lately, with its fine sandy bottom, cypress tress, and clear waters...

image from www.flickr.com

...that I gasped tonight when I stumbled on this picture I had taken of the river in 2005, taken from the same vantage point as the above photo, but shot after Hurricane Ivan had roared through, giving us our own personal tornado to go with his hurricane.  

image from www.flickr.com
I had nearly forgotten.  The river looks like the top, more recent, photo now.  

It's so easy to take things for granted, isn't it?

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Science Class

image from www.flickr.com

Sure, we could just crack open a textbook and look at pictures of fish and plants and water spiders. But when we're already dressed in proper fishing attire,

image from www.flickr.com

why not mosey on out to the river and fish for a bit, while talking about those fish and plants and water spiders we see right in front of us?

image from www.flickr.com

I, the teacher, had to sit against a cypress tree, catching the warm breeze and taking occasional photos. Just as so many say it must be, it's such tough work being their teacher!


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If Once You Have Slept On An Island

image from www.flickr.com 
"If once you have slept on an island

You'll never be quite the same;

You may look as you looked the day before

And go by the same old name.

You may bustle about the street or shop;

You may sit at home and sew,

But you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls

Wherever your feet may go."

~ Rachel Fields, as quoted by Cynthia

(in this book)


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Her First Catch

She's been begging for a fishing pole.

image from www.flickr.com
We haven't come through on that yet, but we did find a spare pole in the garage.   So, in a moment that usually only comes in fiction and fairytales, her grandfather, Popo, took her fishing in the Best Fishing Hole in the World - our backyard river, where we toss hook-less bread to the fish every few days, just to watch them swim.

I feel a bit terrible about this, but she easily - within a minute - caught a fish.

With bread.

Popo said he never caught a fish with bread before.

image from www.flickr.com
Always eager for a teaching moment, I asked our little gal if she'd like to learn how to clean it and grill it, but she knows how much we'd enjoy watching it swim.  Popo tossed it back.   And so the fish lives on to feed or catch another day.

With bread.

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The Mama Wren

Who's there on my dirty porch column?

image from www.flickr.com
Oh boy, can I ever identify with this gal...

image from www.flickr.com

Four hungry mouths, all crying at once, all of them needing me at the same time.   This mama house wren's overwhelming task took me back a few years when I was as twittering as she.

image from www.flickr.com
Hers flew out of the nest sooner than mine, though.  (I'm not jealous of that.)

If you're a young mama still in the Thick of Things, hang in there and train your babies well.  In just a few years, your training will have paid off:  They'll make their own food, you'll have time to feed yourself (yes, really), and with the leftover time you can do all sorts of nonsense like blog about birds. 

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A Morning on Perdido Bay and a Net Full of Fish

The children and I were blessed to go on a boat called the Bottom's Up one April morning a year or two ago.  The boat dragged a net along the sea floor of Perdido Bay, the bay that joins Florida and Alabama so that you don't know which state you're in while you're on the water.  The netload of fish was dumped into a trough on the boat, where the children could feel and ask about each live animal.  Soon, the animals were tossed safely back into the water to swim away.  Below are photos of our one netload of fish. 

image from www.flickr.com

Red Snapper on Perdido Bay  Robin Fish of Perdido Bay image from www.flickr.com

Blue Crab of Perdido Bay 

Bat Ray in Perdido Bay

Lizardfish of Perdido Bay 
Blue Crab and Flounder  image from www.flickr.com

Red Snapper on Perdido Bay
flounder in Perdido Bay

 image from www.flickr.com  

Male and Female Crabs of Perdido Bay

image from www.flickr.com 
 When we went on this boat tour, we were excited and thought it was interesting and fun, but we also thought it was something we could do "tomorrow," and "next summer when Nana comes." 

Oil arrived in Perdido Bay last week.   

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A Gulf Coast Girl's Perspective on the Oil Spill

When a hurricane is on the horizon, it's the talk of the town.  You can't go anywhere without hearing someone chat about it.  The grocery store shelves are emptied of the things you'd think:  matches, lanterns, gas cans...and the things you'd not think:  strawberry pop tarts. 

When oil is on the horizon, it's not the talk of the town.  There are murmurings here and there, of course, but mostly, everyone is talking about something else...anything else.  The grocery stores are full, the wind isn't blowing, the skies aren't grey, so no hurricane is brewing and yet....and yet we have a storm of oil coming?!  It's unbelievable.

Katie Couric showed up unannounced at our little airport today when our kid (the tallest one) was at his Civil Air Patrol meeting:

Brenden katie couric

Obama rode our local ferry and ate at our local restaurant today. 

We don't want them to have a reason to come.  We don't want to be on the news. 

We want to be like you, just living and enjoying life, shopping for pop tarts and matches like a normal person would (once a year, right?). 

If we talk about the spill, we'll either scream or cry.  Scream, because why, tell us why is the oil even coming ashore?  Why is it coming into the bays, inlets, bayous, marshes?  There has been over 50 days to create a plan!  It's hard to understand why we are waiting on BP to protect us.  They have a well to cap.  We know these shores.  We can protect this spot, if Americans will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us and if our government will let us.

Now that I'm done screaming about that, here's what makes us want to cry:  Stop for a moment and think about your favorite place on Earth.  Your favorite outdoor place; your little nature paradise. It's a place that you're sure is a glimpse of Heaven.  It's the place where you find God.  It's the Great Cathedral and Adam & Eve's only church building.  You can hear nature praising its Creator there. Now, imagine all of that dying.  Imagine if it disappeared in a black tide.

This is what we love...

2008_01_15 Beach in Destin (13)
2008 destin sunset

We work here, we live here, we love here.  That's so cliche, but it's so true.  This is where we live.   It's what we know and what we take for granted.  The Gulf of Mexico is our backyard.  It is our glimpse of Heaven.  And now it is so polluted that we aren't allowed to even touch the water. 

That's what makes us want to cry.

But, you know what?  We don't cry.  Instead, we volunteer by the thousands and look for oil spill jobs by the hundreds.  We're tough.  We've lived through hurricanes, for heaven's sake.  We don't complain or ask the government for much.  We don't ask for rock concert benefits or Katie Couric to visit.  We're not asking for anything. 

We just want to keep what we have. 

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Gulf Coast Critters

I think my softies,  if they were as animate as our 7yo thinks they are, would want us to do whatever we can to help out the critters of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. 

So. Is anyone up for some bird watching?  Audubon has asked us to help out by counting seashore birds.  I cannot think of a more lovely way to spend a day in June, can you?

Softies at the beach

(taken on the last day of 2007 when oily beaches didn't cross our minds.  The softie in the middle is an original creation of our then-4yo, the now-7yo who still thinks her sea turtle can move & talk)

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