January 31, 2012

Another Lucy Moment- OJ

Remember I told you about our bumper crop of oranges this past season?  Well, what we didn't give away, I squeezed and froze so we could have fresh oj all winter long. Bruce wanted to buy some plastic containers to hold the juice but I, ever frugal, decided to use ziplock bags. I figured they would be more malleable and take up less room in the freezer. I was right. It saved room and we did save money. Now for my Lucy Moment. You see, my ziplock bags, filled with golden nectar of orange were so supple and so pliable, they draped themselves over and between the slats of the freezer rack. Why is that a problem?  Because once frozen, their plastic forms would not and could not be pried from the rack. 
What to do?  We could have pulled on the bags and ripped them open, the result being sticky, slimy, half frozen juice on and about the other frozen items.  Remember, as we examine this problem, we are keeping the freezer door open and, thereby, melting everything else that lives in the freezer. Bruce said, "I'll unload the freezer and take the rack outside into the sun for a few minutes until the juice thaws enough for the rack to turn loose of it."

Made sense to me until we discovered the rack was non-removable.  "I'll get the hair dryer!" say I.  I anticipated being electrocuted while using the appliance near the potential wet of the thawed juice.  In order to avoid that, I put on my rubber "duck feet" aka gardening shoes.  There is something about rubber and not getting fried but I never was much for scientific stuff so, I kept the fingers of one hand crossed and ventured forth, dryer in hand.  I aimed at the base of the juice where it came in contact to the rack and flipped the switch to full blast on high heat.  I could feel the cold of the freezer pour out into the room and imagined the whirling cogs in our electric meter spinning like tops at the excess energy expelled for this experiment.  How long would it take to break free a bag or two or all dozen of them? How about 15 seconds?  Yup, in less time than it takes to sing Oh Happy Day, the freezer gave up its prisoners!  The juice was ours! 

Now, what to do with all of it?  Another brainstorm.  Why do I keep getting these brilliant plans of action? I don't know. They just come to me.  The zip lock bags were still 98% frozen, but their bottoms were slightly thawed.  Why not set them on a solid cookie sheet.  Hmm.  The cookie sheet was too big for the freezer.  Instead, I used a double layer of aluminum foil as a solid to keep the bags from draping back through the rack.  Like stacked hamburger patties, I placed a layer of waxed paper between the bags so they would easily pry apart when their time came to be thawed and digested.  So that's what I did. I have triumphed, yet again, over myself!

The Goodbye Lie Diaries
1880s Fernandina, Florida

Peeper writes:

Hoo-eee. I admit, I would've done the same thing with my extree juice 'ceptin' I would a used a lit candle and run it under them packs ta free 'um up.

Grandmother Peeper

January 27, 2012

Everybody Loves Somebody

As you may know, we are down to one kitty now.  We recently went away over night and left Button on her own with bowls of food and water making up two different feeding stations. Our neighbor, Next Door Maggie, checked on her, just to be safe. When we returned, there she was, Button, not  Next Door Maggie, sitting where we'd lefter her but she was not alone. She had found a friend!  Apparently, Button had gotten lonely and went looking for some company. She found some in the form of a small teddy bear in a pink t-shirt with the breast cancer ribbon logo on it, who lived on a branch of my Treasure Tree.  (I'll save the Treasure Tree story for another day.)  It wasn't that the bear was on the couch with Button as in the photo or tossed carelessly on the floor.  No. We found the little bear in Button's bowl of crunchies!  Apparently, she was making sure her new friend had plenty to eat!  Since then, we've seen Button carry her Baby, that's what we call the bear now, from room to room. Not all the time, however.  Since Button is new to this friend/mothering thing, she sometimes seems to forget her responsibilities.  Just when we think she's no longer interested, we get up in the morning to find a soggy, soaking Baby, half in, half out of the water bowl.  We squeeze Baby out, and set her on the window sill to dry.  It must be true love on Button's part because dry, wet or damp, Baby has a home and Button has a baby.  And a fine pair of critters they are.

January 25, 2012

What a Difference a Word Makes

Someone recently asked me, "Were you formerly married to the mayor of Fernandina Beach, Bruce Malcolm?"

I replied, "No.  I am married to the former mayor of Fernandina Beach, Bruce Malcolm."  We all had a good laugh about that one!

on the campaign trail

January 23, 2012

Making the Mark

Mark of a Man Update (Amelia Island, Florida's upcoming historical novel, part of The Goodbye Lie Trilogy, set in 1898):

The five year old boy featured in my story has been called Mac since day one.  A colorful child, mischievous but loving, independent and tender-hearted, this character is one of my favorites. He spouts wisdom and offers comfort with his simple logic.  He was all set in stone until today when I changed his first name. Mac was fine. It was a family name, but I heard another name a few weeks ago and I've been thinking about it and today I hit the "find and replace" keys. From this time forward, little Mac will be called Nugget!  -jmm

January 21, 2012

Space Found

Our family motto is No Space Unfilled.  Is it because we are unable to pass up a sale, we are old and, thereby, have accumulated much or that we are packrats? Some or all may apply, but whatever the reason, at Stately Martha Manor, we kept my bike in the front hall. How many times did we catch our clothes on the handlbar sticking out or the cat, after sitting on the seat, pushed off from the seat, knocking the bike over. And I recall when the downed bike blocked the front door and it was raining and the power was out and the garage door wouldn't open and we got all wet because we'd been on a stroll and we couldn't get in and as we peeked through the windows seeing the cats all warm and toasty... So after we recovered from walking phenomia...

Note bike in top left of photo.
 Oh happy day!

We cleaned our garage!  You don't get it. I mean, we really did clean our garage! We donated many things we no longer needed and now there is room to walk beside the Graciousmobile while it is in the garage. That is unheard of, in our universe. (Notice I'm saying our as opposed to my universe.  Bruce had a broken hammer handle that was taking up more than its fair share of room, so I must include him.)  Bottom line, it came to me at three o'clock in the morning.  Would my bike fit along the wall by the craftshow tent and betweeen the cooler, dragon kite, nylon fish whirly-gig and in front of the sheets of hurricane window- cover plywood?  By jingo, it did!!  It does!  Granted, when pulling the car into the garage, one must exercise caution lest the handle bar rakes the side of the vehicle, but I have experience caution a time or two in my life of flying feet and fingers.

The question is, do I immediately fill the voided space in the front hall with something like the double stacked pine chests in the bathroom or the handmade wooden three legged stool or the flowerdy Bear Chair? Well for now, the space is UNFILLED!   Can't imagine how long it will remain as such but it feels like the house has doubled in size and as
Martha Bear™ says,  "That's a better thing!"
http://www.marthabear.com/ -teddy bear stories for the whole family

January 17, 2012

Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow, an excerpt- McKenna Defies His Captain

The year is 1889, set aboard the passenger ship Coral Crown off the Baltimore, Maryland coast:

   "Report to sickbay if you need to, Shepard, or at least open a porthole and get some cold fresh air in your lungs. It may help you feel better.”
   “Can’t, sir. Too many passengers are down with illness. Some are even lying on the staircases until they can be helped to their quarters.”
   Grey turned around to see there were no more couples dancing. The music had been reduced to one violinist who looked as if stroking the strings with his bow was almost more than his weak arm could accomplish.
   “I will remember your dedication to the captain. Thanks again.”
   “Yes, sir. You're welcome, sir.”
   Intrigued, Grey opened the handwritten dispatch recently delivered to him. Whatever it was, he was glad to be only a mile from shore and able to receive it, despite the snow. The Crown was rolling some 10 degrees or more off center now, he guessed, and he found it necessary to steady himself against the bulkhead as he read.

TO: Chief Engineer Grey McKenna
Carolena not arrived. Want no police or family worry. Too infirm myself. Please  come.            Dresher

   Grey’s response was immediate. He grabbed one of the foul weather capes hanging near the exit and put it on. Wailing wind and ice-spiked snowflakes attacked when he opened the door and stepped over the three-inch high threshold.
   He reached for the rail so as not to lose footing and through squinted eyes, took in the sloshing salt water on the teak deck. He found Captain Rockwell in the pilothouse, checking weather conditions and shouting orders loud enough to be heard over the gale, sounding only mildly less loud than outside.
   “You’ve got the particulars, Mr. Wolfe. Follow them to the letter.”
   “Aye, sir,” the watch officer yelled back, immediately conveying the order to the helmsman fighting the wooden wheel.
   “Mr. McKenna,” the captain said when he saw his chief engineer. “I’d hoped you’d be leading the dancing though I don’t imagine there’s much of that going on anymore.”
   “No, sir. None.”
   "Why did you come up here? You know the standard drill for rough weather. We drive the bow into the wind and take the waves head on. I just pray this weather passes by sun up so we can pull into Baltimore’s harbor then.” Checking his pocket watch, he read twenty-one-forty hours. “It’ll be a long night.”
   “Captain Rockwell, may I have a private word with you, sir?”
   “Aye, Mr. McKenna. Certainly.” Without pause, “Mr. Wolfe?”
   “Aye, sir?”
   “After I confer with Mr. McKenna, I’ll be in the Grand Salon, should you need me.”
   “Grand Salon, aye, sir.”
   “Shall we step into the passageway or would you prefer my office?”
   “The passageway will do, sir.” Grey caught the door for his superior when the roll of the ship would have slammed it closed.
    Rockwell nodded his appreciation and then listened.
   “First, I want you to know Steward Shepard is himself sick and tending the passengers despite it.”
   “Noted. Anything else?”
   “Yes, sir. I have just been handed urgent word from our Aqua Verde office on the Baltimore shore. I must ask for a leave of absence. It’s an emergency.”
   "What is it, Grey? Family?”
   Although he felt as if the Dunnigans were his kin, in truth, they were not.
   “No, sir.”
   “I must have a reason. I don’t need to tell you your presence is crucial to the running of this ship, especially when conditions are poor. Without a solid reason, I’m afraid your request for immediate leave is denied. You will have to wait until we dock in home port in a few days.”
   “I appreciate your thinking me valuable, sir. However, I assure you my second engineer is plenty capable. I mean no disrespect, but I cannot give you my purpose. I’ve been asked to keep it private. If I wait to depart on my mission until we return to Fernandina, I will be squandering precious time retracing wasted miles. I must be in Charleston as quickly as I’m able.” He was caught between his concern for Carolena and his loyalty to her family’s passenger line.
   “I repeat. Without a sold reason, I cannot give you leave.”
   By this point and in any other circumstance, Grey would have peppered his response with cursing. Determined to control his temper because they were professional sailors and gentlemen, he said, “Then I regret what I’m about to say, sir, yet say it, I must. You can transfer me, furlough me, or fire me, but short of locking me in the brig, I will disembark the moment we pull into Baltimore, hopefully at first light.”
   Although his demeanor was still unruffled, Captain Rockwell’s words were grave. “Great God, man. I can charge you with disobeying a direct order, dereliction of duty, and anything else I can come up with. Even more, I can let it be known far and wide that you left your post without permission. You’ll never find a position on any private line of consequence again. Are you willing to surrender a fine career for this objective?”
   Unwavering, Grey answered, “I am.”
   “So be it, Mr. McKenna. For the sake and reputation of this ship, I will not make a disturbance. You have been forewarned of the consequences of your impending actions. I hold you solely responsible. Is this clear between us?”
   “Aye, sir. I understand fully.”
   “Very well then. Send for the second engineer, and I will inform him of the situation.”
   “As you say, sir.”
   “How long do you expect to be gone?”
   “I have no idea, sir. I will report to you as soon as I’m able. At that time, you can proceed as you see fit. Just know I’m doing what I feel I must. I’m sorry, sir.”
   “I am, too, McKenna. Very sorry.”
   Grey touched his fingertips to the brim of his cap in formal salute. The captain returned the same. No more said, and the two turned, stiffly parting, each to his chosen course...

LIES, LUST, DEVASTATION - Carolena Dunnigan witnesses the unthinkable and her safe, secure life on Amelia Island, Florida turns to ashes. Vowing to save her siblings, she seeks work and is lured to Charleston, South Carolina. Lust, love, and decades of lies do fierce battle, driving her into Pennsylvania's deadly Johnstown Flood of 1889. It scours away secrets of the past, but will anyone survive the churning undertow of it all? Amelia Island's Velvet Undertow by Jane Marie Malcolm is available in:

Paperback at http://www.graciousjanemarie.com/

Kindle  ($3.99) at http://www.amazon.com/Amelia-Islands-VELVET-UNDERTOW-ebook/dp/B0069SB4XY/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326860125&sr=1-1-spell 

Nook (j$3.19) at  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/amelia-island-s-velvet-undertow?keyword=amelia+island%27s+velvet+undertow&store=nookstore 

January 16, 2012

Move Over MacGyver

My phone died today and I fixed it! I admit, it took me a full three minutes to figure out how to get the back off without cracking the plastic case.  A paper clip and nail file helped in that effort. Hmm. The square thing, I guessed, was the battery.  I lifted that off and, by jingo, it was a battery, or so I thought.  I did take note that writing was on the underside of the battery- so I could put it back in the right way after I performed surgery on the corroded, now partly green, three springy metal prongie thingies. A tissue, the letter opener, a pencil eraser and a little spit, cleaned those prongs.  I put the battery back in, snapped the case closed- well, that took another two and a half minutes- and I tried the phone.  It worked,--for about ten seconds then cut off.  I opened it again, made sure all was right side up and turned the phone on again.  Hmm.  It turned back off in short order.  With my letter opener, I pressed up from the bottom edge of the battery, holding it tight against those gold prongie thingies. The back still off, I turned on the phone and it stayed on. What could I use to keep the battery tight against those contacts? Why two thicknesses of envelope, of course.  Slipping/jamming the paper between the case and the bottom of the battery, I was successful in stabilizing said battery in the perfect position to power the phone. After all this practice, I handily snapped the back casing on in a record two minutes time, dialed my husband, Bruce, and proclaimed my victory! Perhaps this fix will last a few minutes or a few hours.  All I know is that any day I don't have to go shopping for a new phone is a great day!  

January 7, 2012


During Christmas, we were fortunate to visit the breathtakingly beautiful 250 room Biltmore mansion, begun in 1895, on 8,000 acres in the mountains of Ashville, North Carolina. I've seen it on Home and Garden TV, but in person, like most things, it is so much more wonderful. While others we were with toured the interior of the home in two hours, Bruce and I trailed behind. After lunch in what was once the stables, we returned for a couple more hours, as we continued listening to the information on the self-guiding audio tape, plus asking questions of the staff, as we soaked in every inch of elegance. 

Since Biltmore is still family-owned and self-funding, we didn't regret one penny of what we spent because it all goes to their coffers to keep the place going. Had we the time, we would have stayed a second day to enjoy the massive gardens, winery and shops plus so much more. Watch a few videos and get a taste of Biltmore at http://www.biltmore.com/, and if you're ever nearby, stop for at least a day. Anytime of the year there will be a wonderful time of the year there.

Jane Marie

PS  We were not permitted to take photographs inside the mansion but I learned in museum docent training to always look up with regard to architecture. These are just a few of the details I found! 

January 1, 2012

Please Pay Attention

Forget my husband, Bruce Malcolm, is the former mayor of Fernandina Beach, Florida, and local politics is major in our lives. Every four years, I devour presidential politics.  I listen and watch and read all about it. No matter who you want to win, and I will refrain from saying who I like, please pay attention. Get to know the players and the process will grow on you. Listen, listen, listen and learn, learn, learn, then vote, vote, vote. It's not too early to start this process because we are the adults here and owe it to our kids!

God bless America and Happy New Year!