Monday, September 30, 2013

Jaws! Part One

Brendan and I were invited aboard an unnamed 19-foot fishing boat the other week.  She is captained by Michael Johnson of Wesley Chapel and is the son of Ed Johnson of Peoria who you will remember is a high school classmate of mine.  When Ed was down from Illinois last year he and Michael stopped at the Three Birds Tavern and met Brendan and I.  What was supposed to be a couple hour get-together turned into a 6 hour beer-fest.  Along the way it came up that Michael had a boat and would be inviting us on her at some point to go fishing.  
Not everyone follows through with buzzed social chit-chat, but darned if Michael didn't call a few weeks later and firm up a date.     

This is the wonderful boat that Michael owns.  With a couple coolers, fishing tackle, a beautiful sunny day full of high hopes and dreams of a great haul, we set off from Fort DeSoto marina.

Brendan and Michael on the lookout for a good spot to dip some artificial worms.  Michael is a teacher and this was his last day of summer vacation before heading back into the classrooms.  He also coaches football and his day's of bachelorhood are dwindling. He has a lot of things going on and I was impressed that he still thought of us and followed through with his invitation.  Nice guy.

This is an area east of Fort DeSoto and just west of the Skyway interstate heading south out of St. Pete.  In a picture coming up you will see just how shallow this area is.  

A freighter heading north to Tampa under the Skyway Bridge.

Coolers full of sandwiches soda and adult beverage, although Captain Michael DID NOT have any alcohol that I am aware of.  (I'm not always aware of everything.) As for myself fishing was on the back burner.  I much preferred the relaxing in a nice comfortable seat, cool beverage in hand just looking out over the water.  

Good conversation, and beautiful way to spend a day.  I need me one of these.  Can you get boats through Kickstarter?

The only ones having any luck with the fish were these diving birds who followed us wherever we went, then mocked us by catching the fish we should have been reeling in.  

Being an able bodied cushion potato allowed me the ability to take these pictures.  Fishing looked like too much work for me.  

Actually, I did attempt a few casts, but unfortunately and embarrassingly,  I got the line tangled in the reel and decided to do resume my photograph.   This is Brendan doing a reasonably good impression of a seasoned saltwater angler.  

This is a picture from the bow looking into the water.  Amazing, right?  Clear out there in the middle and it is probably no deeper that 4 or 5 feet.

Alas, the fish weren't biting so we headed over to the Skyway bridge area.  I think Michael was mortified at the results, but I wasn't.  A bad day on a boat with nice guys and a cooler of beer and food beats about any other day.

The next couple of videos were of those crazy cormorants or whatever they are that bird-dogged us wherever we went at first.  They would swoop in and start diving and bringing up all the fish we were supposed to be catching.  These videos are of them eating the fish .  It may be too intense for younger viewers.  Or too gross for older ones.

But it is like I always say, life feeds on life.  The creatures in nature are constantly on the hunt for food.  

Wednesday, Part 2 of our adventure on the high seas.  Don't miss it!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Flashback Friday

Here we are again, dutifully posing for Marj, before school on some unknown morning.  Picture taking wasn't necessarily a frivolous spontaneous event like it is now.  There had to be some sort of reason why she would have taken it, and I am guessing by the summer-type apparel, that it is one of the first, if not the first day of school for this year.  My guess:  first day of High School.  If it was Junior High we would have taken the bus.

There are some interesting things to glean from this picture.

  • No one looks particularly happy to be posing.
  • Mark (R) seems to be unencumbered by books.  
  • He also is showing no pretense of even trying to acknowledge the event with a smile, or any kind of facial action.
  • I see Phil has three books, probably part of his con job on the folks.  By looking studious he was able to get them to buy him a nice 64 Chevy and 68 Camaro convertibles.  What a suck up.
  • Marj was no longer able to dress us alike, after Mark and I staged a rebellion against conformity.
  • Looks like I was in a growth spurt, I'm going to need longer pants soon.
  • I would give almost anything to hear what Phil is yelling to his mother, or telling us. 
Its funny how you take a milli-second out of time, the amount of time it took this picture, then all parties continue about their way.  Phil, since he had wheels, was responsible for taking us to school in Aledo.  I recall fondly those drives.  We would listen to WLS Radio in Chicago or KSTT 1170).   Besides the tunes we would usually catch snippets of Howard Cosell's, "Speaking Of Sports", a 10 minute rundown on all the happenings.   It was a time before cell phones so we actually talked to each other, if there wasn't anything interesting on the radio.   

It was a short trip over to school from Seaton,  and then we would separate for the rest of the day and usually took the bus home after school.   A mere milli-second.  It vanishes just as fast, but if you are lucky you have a picture that lasts a whole lot longer. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Inane Inanities

1.  Have you noticed how obituaries are getting smaller?  They used to be long, extremely well written things and even threw in adjectives for the deceased that they probably never enjoyed in life.  Nowadays they are a paragraph and contain a sentence that attempts to encapsulate who the person was.  That sentence I despise.  Invariably they throw in "life long (insert favorite sports team) fan" and I even saw one that had the person was a member of AARP.  You cannot tell who someone was with two activities they peripherally participated in.  Better not to say anything at all that diminish them with nothing more than trivial banalities.

Jane, here, did something I totally agree with and hope we can learn from.  She wrote her own, and did it with grace, humor, thanks to many and a sprinkling of the facts. 

Jane Catherine Lotter

One of the few advantages of dying from Grade 3, Stage IIIC endometrial cancer, recurrent and metastasized to the liver and abdomen, is that you have time to write your own obituary. (The other advantages are no longer bothering with sunscreen and no longer worrying about your cholesterol.) To wit: 

I was born in Seattle on August 10, 1952, at Northgate Hospital (since torn down) at Northgate Mall. Grew up in Shoreline, attended Shorecrest High, graduated from the University of Washington in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Aside from eight memorable months lived in New York City when I was nineteen (and where I worked happily and insouciantly on the telephone order board for B. Altman & Co.), I was a lifelong Seattle resident. 

In my professional life, I was a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader. Among career honors, I received a First Place Society of Professional Journalists award for Humorous Writing for my column Jane Explains, which ran from 1999-2005 in the Jet City Maven, later called The Seattle Sun. Also won First Place in the Mainstream Novel category of the 2009 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest for my comic novel, The Bette Davis Club (available at I would demonstrate my keen sense of humor by telling a few jokes here, but the Times charges for these listings by the column inch and we must move on.

I want to thank Mrs. Senour, my first grade teacher, for teaching me to read. I loved witty conversation, long walks, and good books. Among my favorite authors were Iris Murdoch (particularly The Sea, The Sea) and Charles Dickens. 

I was preceded in death by my generous and loving parents, Michael Gallagher Lotter and Margaret Anne Lotter (nee Robertson), and by my dear younger sister, Julie Marie Lotter. I am survived by my beloved husband, Robert ("Bob") Lee Marts, and our two adult children: daughter, Tessa Jane Marts, and son, Riley William Marts. Also my dear sisters Barbara Lotter Azzato, Kathleen Nora Lahti, and Patricia Anne Crisp (husband Adrian). And many much-loved nieces and nephews, in-laws, and friends. 

I met Bob Marts at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square on November 22, 1975, which was the luckiest night of my life. We were married on April 7, 1984. Bobby M, I love you up to the sky. Thank you for all the laughter and the love, and for standing by me at the end. Tessa and Riley, I love you so much, and I'm so proud of you. I wish you such good things. May you, every day, connect with the brilliancy of your own spirit. And may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.

I believe we are each of us connected to every person and everything on this Earth, that we are in fact one divine organism having an infinite spiritual existence. Of course, we may not always comprehend that. And really, that's a discussion for another time. So let's cut to the chase: 

I was given the gift of life, and now I have to give it back. This is hard. But I was a lucky woman, who led a lucky existence, and for this I am grateful. I first got sick in January 2010. When the cancer recurred last year and was terminal, I decided to be joyful about having had a full life, rather than sad about having to die. Amazingly, this outlook worked for me. (Well, you know, most of the time.) Meditation and the study of Buddhist philosophy also helped me accept what I could not change. At any rate, I am at peace. And on that upbeat note, I take my mortal leave of this rollicking, revolving world-this sun, that moon, that walk around Green Lake, that stroll through the Pike Place Market, the memory of a child's hand in mine. 

My beloved Bob, Tessa, and Riley. My beloved friends and family. How precious you all have been to me. Knowing and loving each one of you was the success story of my life. Metaphorically speaking, we will meet again, joyfully, on the other side. 

Beautiful day, happy to have been here.

XOXO, Jane/Mom 

I AM STARTING A CAMPAIGN. WRITE YOUR OWN!  Grab a drink and do it alone or grab some friends, go to the local pub and let them help.  Then make sure your family pays the necessary funds to have it published in the paper.  Why cede control in death to folks who may or may not remember your real loves, your birth date or your real passions.  I'm doing mine, do yours, too.

2.  It is fascinating the way things change.  Used to be a daily newspaper was one of the real bargains in life.  You could get all the news, entertainment and everything else that was included for a quarter.  At the same time, photography was expensive:  rolls of film and processing cost money.  Polaroid photography was grossly expensive.  Now, a daily newspaper down here in Tampa Bay costs a dollar, and photography is virtually free.
3.  Spotted these guys on the front walk the other week.  Now, I'm no expert on mollusks, but I'd say these guys were having snail sex.    
I tried moving them off the sidewalk so no one would come along and squish them, but they were pretty well glued to the spot.  

I also discovered in looking up snail porn on the Internet that the University of Iowa received a $878,562 grant to study what the benefit is for snails to have sex.  Seems the little shelled creatures can have little shelled creatures asexually or doing it the old fashioned way.  Scientists are studying why they would choose the real thing rather than a more efficient asexual way.  Gee whiz, scientists need to get out more.

I didn't see them squished the next morning so I am assuming they did their deed and went on their way, slowly.  

4.  A pretty cloud formation. 

5.  Imagine being called Athole your whole life.

This stone is at Candor Cemetery in Seaton.   Athole was apparently a name given to girls.

6.  A Vietnamese restaurant here in St. Pete. 

Sometimes the languages don't translate smoothly.

7.  More proof Florida is the dumbest state:

8.  Football is back.  This is the time of year where on Sundays we can watch every third commercial with one of the Mannings.

9.  This from reader and friend Russ Foust in Nebraska who has had many Jerry's pizzas from his days at Iowa Wesleyan:  

"And just seeing the Jerry's pizza pieces kicked in an entire sensory memory.  I could see the square pizza (including the grease that had to be wicked up with a napkin on the pepperoni pizzas), I could hear the hub-bub and noise of the place (I remember the one on the town square the best) I could smell that disctinctive Jerry's Pizza smell (that which called the pizza moochers to come out in a shark-like feeding frenzy).  I don't know how they developed that smell, but it was part crust, part cheese, part warm cardboard - you are right, there was and is nothing like it.  And finally that pizza taste.  It was not simply something you experienced with you taste buds - it was a tactile experience as well with the crisp crust yielding to the initial dental attach, then becoming muted as the cheese and toppings were finally masticated.  Ahh, the memories...   As I recall, our fellow Brother Phi, the now deceased Keith Pierson claimed to be allergic to all milk products, but he could eat Jerry's pizza, which he did in great quantity.  Kind of makes me wonder exactly what their "secret ingredients" were."  


This ever-hopeful bird was patiently waiting for garbage to arrive behind the "El Cap" burger joint here in St. Petersburg. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Skyway Fishing Pier

Just down the road is I-275 that takes you across the Bay into the Bradenton-Sarasota area.  The Skyway Bridge is fairly new, having been constructed in 1987.  The former bridge was destroyed by a ship that rammed one of the pylons causing 35 people to plunge to their deaths.  Remnants of the old bridge remain as fishing piers for local anglers.  For $4.00 you can get a pass onto these northbound and southbound ramps and spend the day drowning worms, although, from what I saw,  you'd likely be hooted off if you used worms here.  More appropriate are fish heads, and larger live bait.   

This old vacated ramp still stands and is one of two which were used for Northbound traffic.   The only ones to use it now are the myriad birds that keep vigil over the humans in case a snack would come their way.

Crumbling away from disuse this is a road to nowhere.

I can't get enough pictures of he weirdest ugliest thing with wings, my old flying buddies, the Pelican.

Spotted in the water was this crab who had a fondness for french fries.

The Skyway.  Built to resemble sails, the likelihood of another accident has been mitigated by the large round bumpers in front of the pilings.

There is a bait shop and restroom facilities on both piers.  

A clothespin helps a fisherman to organize his lines.

A nice catch for this fellow who seemed to have difficulty getting the hook out.  

This poor fellow was swimming around and appeared unable to take flight due to fishing line wrapped around his wing.  See it trailing behind?  

Leisurely swimming around was this large crab.  Rather graceful swimmers from what I saw.   

There isn't any perspective to this fine old fellow as far as size but his shell was somewhere around 3-4 feet long.  Now that is a huge turtle.  I felt pretty lucky to have gotten these pictures, since his time up getting oxygen really wasn't all that long.   This looks to be a loggerhead sea turtle.  They average about 3 1/2 feet long and weigh 250 lbs. but some can get to be up to 800 lbs.   They can also live to be 50.  I'm not a herpetologist but I play one when I'm at the Fishing Pier.

Leave the fishing pier and you can wind in and around the area on sand roads.  People come here during the weekends and pitch their tents and camp out for the day.  These guys were playing grab ass with their Ski-Doo's and one was floating around attempting to make their girlfriend scream with his driving.  From what I could tell it was working.  

This looks like a painting, but it's not.

But perhaps the best idea I saw were these two simply out in the water with their favorite adult beverage.

Superboy was a 1988 TV show that apparently didn't last long.  They inexplicably used footage of the new Skyway being built with the old one next to it before its demolition.  And yes, the opening few seconds clearly shows the span that was rammed by the Blackthorn.