Walking around the Southern Rural Route, I often find in nature things I’ve never before seen despite having lived here thirty years. In mid-August, I found this on our camellia bush.


I figured it was a seed pod but it sure looked like fruit. Research indicated it was, in fact, a seed pod. It seems they ripen in early fall and I attribute our warmer Floridian weather to the late summer ripening.

When the pods are open, you can harvest the seeds but I did not harvest ours.


I think I may have hit the jackpot in the Neurotic Cat Department with my Siamese, Zorro.  When it comes to Siamese, I do have a basis of comparison. I once had a Snowshoe Siamese given to me as a kitten. He had enough “regular” cat in him to have the pretty, rounded head and his temperament was normal. Zorro has a pointed nose and, presumably, more Siamese DNA. Plus, there’s nothing normal about him unless he’s merely missing a few of his faculties.

Zorro in December 2014

Zorro in December 2014


Zorro in October 2016

Zorro in October 2016

I don’t want to overstate my case but he’s been driving me wonky and I don’t need a cat adding to my troubled psychology. In no particular order, let me give you a few examples of his neurotic behavior:

He is a 4 legged alarm clock. The wailing to be fed starts at 6 a.m. You have not lived until you have heard a Siamese cat wail with lungs more powerful than a horse.

He likes to burrow under the covers.

A few hours after I put a new Seresto flea and tick collar on him, he had bit one of the little amber pieces off. Two weeks later, he had chewed off so many of them I removed the collar.

I often clean receipts out of my wallet at the dining room table. If I wad up a receipt and drop it temporarily on the table, Zorro makes a flying leap for it and off he goes. Sometimes it takes days for a receipt to show up again.

Zorro holds me responsible for inclement weather. Every 10 minutes, he wants me to open the door so he can see if I have fixed the weather. Once he becomes deeply discouraged, he runs to the back door and wails because he wants to check the weather on that side of the house, too.

I returned from errands on a day we had a real monsoon. Whiskey was on the porch and Zorro was UNDER the porch, wailing piteously. I think he wanted me to crawl under there and get him so that he wouldn’t get drenched in the rain. Of course, I was unwilling to do that. It’s bad enough that I have to butler both the front and back doors because I allowed myself to become a cat butler. I am NOT adding porch crawls to my list of duties.

Periodically, he goes inside my office closet, climbs up a 3-step ladder to the top and sits there wailing about the indignities of his life.

The day I put flea meds on him, I threw him out of the house because I don’t want that stuff all over my linens. Zorro was not happy being tossed out of the house because he hunts at night and sleeps all day in my bed. Every time he snuck back in, I threw him out. After the tenth time, he was so mad he stood on the front porch steps glowering at me and swishing his tail.

He gets his annual shots at the mobile vet. Right off the bat, the vet wants to know why Zorro is missing patches of fur. I explained that he was enthusiastic about grooming himself. Immediately, the vet diagnoses him as “OCD” (obsessive compulsive disorder). You will be so proud of me. I did not collapse into paroxysms of unrestrained hootin’ and hollerin’. I waited until I got everyone in the car, with all the windows rolled up, and THEN I slapped the steering wheel and hollered “I knew he was nuts!”


As I have previously mentioned, I never know what kind of wildlife I might encounter when I step out my front door. Last week, I was sitting on my brother’s back porch when a coyote ran through the yard.

Last month, in early September, I caught this buzzard feasting on something at the edge of the woods. In Florida, we have two types of buzzards, the Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura, and the Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus. Although my photo is not the best because he was suspicious as I advanced on him to get the photo, this is a Turkey Vulture.

Turkey Vulture on 09/05/16

Turkey Vulture on 09/05/16

I am taking a detour from my usual nonsense to report on an important issue for Floridians and individuals in states that have not yet voted on legalizing marijuana for medical needs.

I was recently made aware, through interests I follow, that Carol Jenkins Barnett, daughter of George Jenkins, the founder of Publix Super Markets, donated $800,000 to Drug Free Florida to fight Amendment 2 in the 2016 election. This donation was made through the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust to make it “personal” rather than on behalf of Publix. Regardless, Publix is answering customer inquiries on the subject. According to Erin at Healthnutnews.com, this response was given by an employee named Sasha:

“Carol Jenkins Barnett has long supported efforts to protect Florida’s families and children against the perils of drug abuse. As such, she feels that Amendment 2 would usher in an unprecedented era of legalized marijuana in Florida as opposed to only helping those who suffer from debilitating illnesses.”

Ms. Barnett first donated $500,000 in 2014 to Drug Free Florida who, in turn, spent $6 million on scare-tactic campaigns prior to the election. Amendment 2 fell two percentage points short of the 60% needed to become state law.

The 2016 Ballot Summary specifically prohibits non-medical use:

BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not immunize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Debilitating medical conditions were defined as follows: “Cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

Read the full text of Amendment 2 here:


One has to wonder if Ms. Barnett did ANY of her own research before writing that $800,000 check to Drug Free Florida. I particularly liked the YouTube video entitled “Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Weed – CNN Special Documentary,” published March 11, 2015.

Cannabis was actually prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies prior to 1937 when it became illegal because of our first drug czar, Henry Anslinger. The video barely touched on this history but I found an article adapted from Johann Hari’s New York Times best-selling book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.  In short, Anslinger knew cannabis was not a problem but after prohibition ended, the Department of Prohibition needed a new purpose and he sensationalized the dangers of cannabis to justify the existence of his department.

In the video, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, M.D., a neurosurgeon and an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and Associate Chief of Neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, interviewed numerous individuals and medical doctors. The most heart-wrenching of these was Charlotte, a 5-year-old girl who was “out of options” for treatment of epilepsy and finally found relief with cannabis oil.

In this video, marijuana was said to be made up of two ingredients:

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component

CBD (cannabidiol) is the compound with no psychoactive components.

Both THC and CBD have medical benefits. It depends on the condition you are trying to treat. Ironically, at the time her donation was given to Drug Free Florida, Ms. Barnett, age 59, announced that she was leaving the Publix board of directors because of an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  She is now facing her very own “debilitating illness.”

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a 2014 preclinical study about very low doses of THC slowing production of beta-amyloid proteins. These proteins are believed to be a key contributor in the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, the Salk Institute of La Jolla, California published a June 2016 article about cannabinoids removing plaque-forming Alzheimer’s proteins from brain cells.

With a net worth of $1.72 billion, Ms. Barnett can afford to chase down any promising relief for Alzheimer’s but the rest of us without such spare change need to do our own research before speaking out or voting against medical marijuana. A lot of people worked very hard collecting enough signatures to get medical marijuana on the ballot. I remember being approached in 2014 at the public library by someone collecting signatures.

Take the time to watch the thought-provoking video with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He has the background to express an informed opinion on medical marijuana. Ms. Barnett does not. Nor do the other top donors to Drug Free Florida – Mel Sembler, chairman of a retail space development company, and Sheldon Adelson, a casino owner.

I do not want recreational use of marijuana legalized any more than Ms. Barnett but I do not believe an “unprecedented era of legalized marijuana in Florida” would occur unless placed on the ballot and voted on by Floridians. You may one day need medical marijuana. Please don’t shoot it down out of ignorance.


Jacksonville natives, make plans to attend the Mandarin Garden Club Trash to Treasures sale this Saturday, October 1, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Furniture, glassware, household goods, toys, everything but clothing will be on sale inside their Clubhouse at 2892 Loretto Road. Stop by to nab an irresistible treasure, have a free cup of coffee, and visit the Garden Cafe for homemade baked treats.


Foodscaping: Practical and Innovative Ways to Create An Edible Landscape by Charlie Nardozzi (Cool Springs Press 2015) is, for the most part, a “picture book.” It has page after page of colorful photographs and only four chapters:

  1. Ways and Places to Grow Food
  2. Foodscaping 101
  3. My Favorite Foodscape Plants (the largest section, with about 40 featured plants)
  4. Plant, Grow, and Harvest

Nardozzi suggests starting small but have a plan – plant the right plant in the right place and grow what you like to eat.

He suggests substituting foodscape plants for ornamentals. His small list of substitutions for ornamentals included only a few edible perennials. Nardozzi also provided substitution lists for plants with seasonal color, interesting leaf color, and dwarf varieties suitable for containers.

In the acknowledgments, he gave a nod to Rosalind Creasy as the edible landscape trailblazer. Her 1982 book, The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping, still resides on my garden bookshelves. Her book is probably more complete than Nardozzi’s but has mostly drawings and only a handful of photographs. All those photographs in Nardozzi’s book show how it’s done.

The young cashier at the butcher’s shop made a remark about my shiny penny collection as I dug in my wallet. It prompted the guy in line behind me to give me his shiny penny. I tried to demur, of course, but he was insistent. It was so seldom he could make someone happy for a penny.

Outside in my car, I sat for a moment. I needed to let my brain slow down before I tried to drive off. I was amazed that the cashier remembered that shiny pennies make me happy. It meant that I had dug in my wallet for ugly pennies enough times for her to associate me with shiny pennies.

Why would this make my brain spin? Simple. My penchant for bright, shiny things was becoming memorable. How long before someone gave it a name like Old Crowitis and assigned the disorder to senior citizens? My fellow senior citizens have a lot to worry about – body parts going bad, outliving their money – without me adding weirdness to the list of things attributed to old folks.

Old Crowitis creeped up on me slowly. It started with shiny, copper pennies and my sister’s bling. Not being hip, I don’t think I knew what bling meant when Priss started showing up in t-shirts and sandals adorned with metal brads, rhinestones, and sequins. Priss was already afflicted with Old Crowitis. I, on the other hand, kind of wanted a bling shirt but not if I had to go shopping for it. My shopping occurred when I was with a friend who wanted to “just pop into” some store we were near. If it weren’t for my friends, I’d never get into any serious shopping trouble. My Hawaiian shirt with magenta sequin flowers was acquired during one of these friendly shopping trips. It didn’t cost a lot of money and I was bling-happy for several years.

At the beginning of 2014, my Old Crowitis sped up when I acquired a handbag with lots of metal brads and fringe. Oh my stars, the fringe! I was beside myself. I was in love. Once again, I was with friends but I was suffering through some lean years and they bought the handbag for me. Truth be told, I would have eaten cat food for a month to acquire that handbag.

2014's fringe handbag

2014’s fringe purse

The fringe handbag was made of “PETA-approved cruelty-free vegan” fabric. This probably means imitation leather made from polyurethane. I absolutely hated it. The shoulder strap deteriorated and by the Fall of 2015, Priss and I were out shopping for a new handbag I had seen in a magazine. It had beaded fringe and better quality imitation leather.

2015's beaded handbag

2015’s beaded handbag

I still couldn’t part with the original fringe handbag and its tattered strap. The new, beaded handbag went in the closet. This probably wasn’t a good idea because I think it was emitting Old Crowitis signals that ate into my brain. By 2016, my fascination with bright, shiny things went off the rails.

I began to buy beads, charms, and beading tools with the idea of sewing bling onto clothes since I couldn’t find any to buy that were already blinged-out. In craft stores, rhinestones and sequins literally stopped me in my tracks.

This was followed by cheap rings and watches with dazzling cubic zirconia. Lunch dates with other old crows were made for the express purpose of wearing all our “jools.”  The other old crows always had real jools but I was fine with my fake jools until the gold-plating wore off the ring in the first two weeks. This was so unacceptable to my Crowitis, I ended my online purchases of costume jewelry coming out of China. In short order, better jewelry was purchased and, once again, only because I was out with a friend who was shopping. This purchase fired up the “outliving my money” thoughts and, finally, the shiny penny incident at the butcher set off clanging alarms in my brain. Alarms that whispered  — you might have a problem.

Please understand that I have not confessed all of 2016’s bling events but I’m starting to wonder. Is there a 12-step program for old crows?


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