Now that it is spring in the morning and summer at noon here in Florida, all three cats choose to stay outside. I have very bad allergies (4 allergy shots each month) and happen to be deathly allergic to cats so I am happy with their choice. Sometimes Big Foot or Zorro choose to spend the night with me.

The two strays, Big Foot and Whiskey, have over-eaten their way into obesity. Now that they are outside, I can’t leave dry cat food in the bowls because it attracts possums and raccoons. I am hopeful these two will slim down.

Big Foot on 5-1-15

Big Foot on 5-1-15

Whiskey on 5-1-15

Whiskey on 5-1-15

Zorro, my baby kitty who is about 10 months of age (based on his adoption date and the age they claimed him to be at that time), is a lean, mean fighting machine. Everything is new to him and he has to inspect it, sniff it, or chase it. Last week, I found a dead mole on the driveway. Yesterday, I pulled into the driveway to find him wrassling a snake. Today, there’s a dead squirrel in the yard on the way to the driveway.  He also likes to chase Whiskey and jump on Big Foot. Warrior kitty.

Zorro on September 17, 2014

Zorro as a baby on September 17, 2014

Zorro on May 1, 2015

Zorro on May 1, 2015

I am hoping Zorro’s nose will turn dark brown again. I’ve had a problem with spring fleas and he has licked a lot of his fur off trying to get at them. I tried diatomaceous earth as a flea preventative (it’s cheaper) but it didn’t work and I went back to Activyl. If any of you have had success with diatomaceous earth for flea prevention, I’d sure like to hear about it.

This is a public service announcement about trying to insure housing in rural areas.

I live in a 1989 custom-ordered Palm Harbor mobile home at the halfway mark of Momma and Poppie’s two acres. It is not luxurious but it has been adequate, affordable housing for 25 years. Following the 1992 massacre of mobile homes during Hurricane Andrew, most mobile home insurers pulled out of Florida including my insurer, Allstate.

My agent placed me with Citizens Property Insurance Corporation which is a “not-for-profit, tax-exempt government corporation whose public purpose is to provide insurance protection to Florida property owners throughout the State (of Florida).” It was the insurer of last resort.

At some point in time, Citizens became the largest insurer and efforts were made to reduce that exposure risk. In October 2014, I received a letter from Citizens that I was being spun off to a brand new, unrated insurance company. If I chose to opt out of going with this new insurance company, I would be subject to “assessments” in the event of another catastrophic storm.

Needless to say, I did not want to go with an unrated company (Mount Beacon) nor could I afford any assessments. I began to shop for other insurance in February 2015. I couldn’t find any company willing to take me.

Poppie’s health took a turn for the worse and I informed my agent, who had been instrumental in suggesting other insurers, that I would be going with the new insurer because I no longer had time to shop. She reminded me of what I already knew – that I would not need to do anything because Citizens would automatically send my file to Mount Beacon.

My renewal date was April 5 but I forgot all about it because of Poppie’s death. On February 12, it occurred to me that my renewal date had come and gone but Mount Beacon had not sent me a statement for coverage. I called my agent who called both Citizens and Mount Beacon. Apparently, neither company wanted to claim responsibility. The agent suggested yet another company for coverage. They politely declined me, too. As did another company my friend, The Mad Tattah, suggested.

At that point, I called my agent back and reminded them that I had been with them for 25 years and they needed to find me insurance without any expense to me or I would file a complaint with the State of Florida’s Department of Insurance.

I was so upset I did that anyway but I named Citizens and Mount Beacon as the scandalous perpetrators of my distress. Having already been dismissed by countless agencies, I wondered if Mount Beacon was tossing some of us in the trash as undesirables and I mentioned this suspicion. The Department of Insurance employee did not know but a lot of consumers won’t take the time to complain. A state can’t fix what it doesn’t know about. Each and every state probably has a Department of Insurance, a Department of Banking and a Chief Financial Officer who oversees any number of issues relating to consumer services, seniors, and unclaimed property.

Right after my chat with the Department of Insurance, my agent informed me that she had written a new policy for me with Citizens and her boss would come by at 1:30 to take photos for the file. He remembered being on the property seven years earlier to get update photos and talking to Poppie because I was at work.

I told him some of the excuses I had received from companies not willing to cover me – that my mobile home was too old and I was not a full owner of the property. I also mentioned my suspicions of another unspoken reason. I then demanded an answer for my inability to obtain coverage. Probably fearing that I might hog tie him and beat it out of him, he gave me an insurance lesson that is likely not shared with insurance consumers.

I learned that I am a “Townclass 10” – the worst rating for insurance because my mobile home is on private property rather than an approved mobile home park and there is no fire hydrant within 500 feet. My agent mentioned a mobile home park west of me and said the average policy in that park was HALF what I was paying.

Fire hydrant-6062

With just that one word, “townclass”, I turned to my computer and learned about the Public Protection Class (PPC) that shows up on your home owner’s insurance policy. All over the United States, communities are rated (from 1 to 10) by the Insurance Services Office on the community’s fire-fighting ability. Neighborhoods get classified with a “town class” designation for their proximity to a fire hydrant, fire stations, how well those fire stations are equipped, plus the communications network and telephone system of the town or city’s fire stations. The lower your town class rating, the lower your insurance costs and vice versa. It makes sense to contact your local fire department to find out what protection class you are in. If they upgrade it, you can contact your agent for a policy reduction.

In summary:

(1)    It is no longer a good idea to buy a mobile home in Florida. Any savings in your housing costs will be eaten up by higher insurance policies and an inability to obtain insurance as the mobile home ages. I suspect Florida’s Insurance Department has no idea that some of these insurance companies are “telephone weeding” consumers by first asking them “How old is your mobile home?” Unless we complain to the Insurance Department when we are immediately rejected, they won’t know.

(2)    If you choose to live in a rural neighborhood without a nearby fire hydrant, your home is at risk for fire and it will be more expensive, if not downright difficult, to obtain insurance.

Every spring, the Plant Sale is held in the Mandarin Garden Club’s clubhouse. It will be packed with beautiful plants donated by garden club members, along with garden magazines, books, crafty garden objects, and yard art for purchase. In addition, there are lots of delicious baked goods made and/or donated by garden club members for sale in the clubhouse, and various vendors outside on the garden grounds.

Cunningham’s Herbs will be in attendance with the herbs that are now in season. If you want something in particular, give her a call at 725 dash 3106 or email via locun at att.net to make sure she brings it for you.

The Plant Sale is free and open to the public.



Greeting card from VT-6058


Raise your hand if you can relate to Ernest Hemingway’s quote! My friend Ginny sent me this card saying “you are in that place at the moment.” Sheesh, the gal has known me for nigh onto 20 years and is well aware that my life is always trying to fall apart on me. For the most part, I don’t invite drama into my life. Stuff just happens. Like Hemmingway, I tend to sleep when I don’t want to deal with the drama.

This card hails from shanestock.com. Best of all, it’s recyclable. A perforated left edge allows you to “reuse, resend, reroute, redirect, reconnect [or make a] reply.” I love cards you can recycle but this card’s future will be on one of my three bulletin boards.

This rose bush was just a stick when given to me by a lovely lady at the Mandarin Garden Club.

Louis Philippe rose Photo taken 4/15/15

Louis Philippe rose
Photo taken 4/15/15

Close-up of Louis Philippe RosePhoto taken 6/10/13

Close-up of Louis Philippe Rose
Photo taken 6/10/13

Poppie in red shirt-2504

Poppie went in for back surgery on January 20, 2015. About a month later, he was readmitted to the hospital because he had a 4 inch square knot above the incision that was leaking spinal fluid. He was readmitted a third time on February 27 for spinal leakage. On February 28 he died because of numerous errors in a hospital that has very high ratings despite family members being on hand during visiting hours and one all-nighter pulled by Miss Priss.

Poppie was in good spirits the morning of his death. He was talking and joking with family and friends. He ate lunch and went from feeling good to death in less than four hours. Shortly after lunch, he vomited his entire lunch (Symptom 1). Then he got the chills (Symptom 2). The nurse checked on him, got more blankets and the heat in the room was increased. The chills slowly subsided but he seemed less aware and lethargic (Symptom 3).

Poppie’s demise began when the nurse failed to recognize his changes as something more serious. When I ran to the Nurse’s Station to report that he was in distress, the nurse failed to see that Poppie was turning blue and there were no oxygen “headsets” readily available in the room. I had to point this out and a “Code Blue” was called.

A Code Blue team quickly arrived but they did not know how to operate the resuscitation cart. They had to call for additional help from other parts of the hospital. Poppie never had a chance.

Based on our experience, we offer some recommendations.

(1)    Never go to a hospital on the weekend, if it is avoidable. Hospitals are inadequately staffed by individuals whose primary employment is in another hospital. They are just picking up a shift and may not be trained on equipment.

(2)    Family members are the first line of care, but this is ineffective if you can’t get help. I made two calls to the Nurse’s Station and went down there in person. Still no help came.

(3)    If you do get help, and your loved one develops two or more new symptoms, demand that a doctor — any doctor — evaluate the patient for life threatening conditions. Remember, Poppie died in less than four hours after the onset of symptoms.

We will never know what caused his death. It could have been a heart attack, pulmonary embolism (blood clot) but the symptoms point to septic shock. Any of these can cause sudden death.

Poppie’s memorial was held on March 6, 2015, at 2:00 at Orange Park Presbyterian Church. His two best friends, Tom and Bill, gave wonderful eulogies and Rev. Susan Takis, who is so warm and loving, officiated the service.

Poppie’s survivors – me, my brother Bubba and my sister Miss Priss – have been having a very hard time dealing with his untimely passing. I think it would be easier if we could get an email from the other side that he’s having a grand time on a cruise ship in the Great Beyond but God calls on us to believe in everlasting life (John 3:16).

We have all complained of being in a “fog”. For me, the fog is most noticeable when I get in my car. My mind checks out. I tried to meet up with a friend at St. Johns Town Center, never saw my exit and found myself at the beach.

A few days later, I headed out with my Mapquest directions which required me to go over the Buckman Bridge. Mind you, I hate driving the Buckman because, over the years, at least three people and their cars have gone over and into the drink. I am so paranoid about that bridge I drive over it with the window rolled down. So what happens? One of the stays in my bra waited until I was on the Buckman to break with a pop loud enough to convince me someone had shot at me.

Mapquest never gives you the easiest, most direct route to get somewhere, either. It had me turning right on Mandarin Road and winding narrow roads through the woods and, to add insult to injury, a tree in front of the street sign where I needed to turn prevented me from seeing the sign. Even without bread crumbs, I managed to get out of those woods and went to the garden club to see if anyone was around who might have the phone number of the gal I was meeting. I had remembered my camera and the Mapquest directions but not phone numbers. Mary was the only one there and she had the phone number but my friend’s phone was turned off. I must have had an odd expression on my face because Mary asked if I was alright and I was soooooo not alright. I was operating in a fog, standing there with a broken bra, and absolutely no idea how to get where I needed to go. Angel that she is, Mary got in her car and led me to the subdivision. When she got me to the street I needed to be on, she got out of the car and we consulted my notes. Well, of course, we were in the 12000 block and I needed a house with a 2200 address. I finally found the place, believe it or not, and they couldn’t hear the doorbell so I had to go to the sides of the house and holler through the fence for my friend. Can you imagine how well that would have gone over if I was at the wrong house and the occupants were swimming nekkid in their pool?

After these misadventures, I decided to venture no farther than 5 miles from home. A few days later, I made a practice run to the library. If it went well, my next trip would be to the mall to see about some new bras that didn’t shoot at me.

Even the library is not safe. I was at the self-checkout minding my own business when some woman behind me said, “God bless you!” I politely thanked her and offered her the same blessing but she kept talking. I finished my check out and walked to the door. She followed. We stood outside a few minutes chatting and I tried to excuse myself by mentioning my bad knee.  She decides I need a Reiki healing. Right there. In the parking lot. That was the moment I KNEW I should have stayed home. When your mind is slipping, all kinds of strange people tune into your erratic frequency. Forget the bras. I’ll do without.

Here’s one for the baby boomers. An old-fashioned sprinkle bottle for ironing.

sprinkle bottle-6012

I found it among Momma’s fabric stash in her craft room closet when we finally got emotionally strong enough to go through her possessions. Priss, being 6 years younger, might not remember the sprinkle bottle but I certainly do.

Back in the 50’s and early 60’s, everyone used a glass soda bottle with a sprinkle top that came from the five and dime store. This bottle is imprinted with DRINK DIXIE BEVERAGES. From my internet searching, I assume Dixie Beverages is now Dixie Riverside Beverage Company who bottles 241 drink products such as A&W Rootbeer, 7Up, Sunkist, and RC Cola. Remember when people would snack on an RC Cola and a Moon Pie?

The sprinkle bottle allowed just the right amount of dampness to saturate the fabric for later ironing. Oh the flood of memories that came with finding the sprinkle bottle. I can remember filling the bottle with tap water, sprinkling my purple dress and placing it in a bag in the refrigerator (to keep the fabric from souring) until I was sufficiently moved to do the actual ironing. This was before spray starch and irons with misting nozzles.

I also remember the clothesline, the clothespin bag and the standing laundry hamper that would fold shut. Even those wire stretchers Momma stuck in each leg of a pair of pants to help dry them with less wrinkles so she didn’t have to press the iron so hard. And how about all those “rules” for hanging your clothes on the line so the neighbors couldn’t peek at your unmentionables?

In the early 80’s, when Poppie and Momma moved to the ancestral property I now live on (the Southern Rural Route) she still had a clothesline. As the shade of water oaks hid it from the sun, it fell into disuse and was eventually taken down. Momma had Poppie fashion a makeshift clothesline stretching across the back porch where she would hang a shirt or rug. I don’t have such a line on my porch and sometimes I wish we still had that old clothesline.

Momma also had a collection of flat irons that had been passed down in the family. The pair you see here were “preserved” with a coat of black paint because Momma had a thing about giving everything “a fresh coat of paint.” I can’t imagine being an old washer woman having to iron all day with these things because they are heavy.

antique iron-6018

I believe this next iron was used for ironing ruffles. Momma really got carried away with that fresh coat of paint when she got hold of this itty bitty iron. She made it cute as punch but ruined the antique value of it.

antique ruffle iron-6019

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