May 26, 2017

Memorial Day, They Are Not Forgotten

Slow down.  And I mean you ... and me, too. Why should we?  Memorial Day is a holiday!  We don't have to work.  It makes for a long weekend and we love it!  Sure, everybody hangs an American flag on the front of the house or raises the flag on the pole in the front yard to show patriotism. I think it's wonderful because I do the same thing. 

It's the meaning behind Memorial Day that we, and I'm including myself, don't stop and honor enough. Preach, preach, preach.  We've all heard it before. We should remember those who gave their lives for our country. Easy words to say, but not always practiced.  This is big kid, serious stuff and it is important for us to teach the meaning behind the holiday to our children and grandchildren. 

Those saints in Heaven, waiting for us, and they are, indeed, saints,  ask nothing of us, but I believe we can do so much better than nothing for them.  So let's turn off the TV, the phone and the mindless music, find a quiet place in the midst of our chaos and offer recognition and gratitude to those men and women who, over generations, have cared enough about the United States of America to die so we might have these long holiday weekends. When the saints glance down upon us, I'm thinking their smiles will broaden as they see our heads bowed in sincere thanksgiving for their gift of freedom to us. 

(photo of Spanish American War graves taken at Bosque Bello Cemetery, Fernandina Beach, Florida)

#MemorialDay, #gratitude, #USA, #grateful, #AmeliaIsland, #Fernandina, #holiday, #longweekend, #cemetary

May 22, 2017

Possible Aunt Noreen Quote

Aunt Noreen
See if you agree that Aunt Noreen, less than lovely neighbor to the Dunnigan family on Amelia Island, Florida in the late 1800s, and a major player in The Goodbye Lie series, might have said the anonymous quote below. Let me set the scene:  

Think back to 1882. You are on Amelia Island.  Relax as you imagine the soft sea breeze blowing off the water onto the shore.  Ladylike, you are sitting on a blanket as the sun begins its descent into the cool waiting ocean.  Your mother would not approve of the novel you are reading. She thinks it is a book of poetry.  You are glad she is a few yards down the beach, sharing the shade tent with her sister-in-law, old troublesome Aunt Noreen.  You are also glad you are not in that same tent, enduring the chatter of said aunt.  As the sea rolls, the gulls are calling. You are lulled to near sleeping until your mind snaps to attention, jarred as it is by Aunt's gruff blurting.  
   "I do not repeat gossip,
so pay attention the first time."

in E-book and Paperback

#gossip, #AmeliaIsland, #novel, #beach, #island, #AuntNoreen, #Irish, #Victorian

May 15, 2017

A Squirrel's Best Friends

Doctor Pete
The following story I wrote is reprinted from Fernandina's News-Leader newspaper published May 12, 2017.

Let me tell you about a gray squirrel named Pete. Raised from an infant by Ray and Kay O’Rourke, the veterinarian clarified Pete was a girl.  Ray told me, “Well, if Johnny Cash can sing about a boy named Sue, we can call our little girl Pete.”  After eleven wonderful years thriving in a loving and safe home, Pete went to Squirrel Heaven, the happy Land-O-Nuts.  And so here, I recount just a few of the highlights Ray shared about his best furry friend.

A neighbor found a baby squirrel those eleven years ago and gave it to the O’Rourke family.
Pete and Ray
Every four hours, Mrs. O’Rourke bottle-fed the bitty thing.  The vet explained that her spine had not fused in three places.  Kept in a tiny box to restrict movement, and encourage healing, after three months, Pete was up and ready to run.  Being a Fernandina native like her human parents, by this time, the family had grown quite fond of her and didn’t have the heart to let her fend for herself in the wild.  “If we'd have let her go,” Ray said, “she’d have probably only lived a year.  In captivity, her life expectancy was nine to fifteen years.”
They got a huge three tiered cage and kept it lined with fresh newspaper. Pete shredded the top layers of newspaper and carried them down to the bottom, to make what her parents thought was a nest.  They also discovered she liked to sleep in a pair of rompers, sized 3-months.  Heavy dungaree material lasted far longer than cotton, which the squirrel chewed to pieces, in short order. Always thinking of their baby, the O’Rourkes even brought home four pairs of rompers from a trip to Berlin, Germany.  With the rompers hanging by their straps from the top of the cage, Pete would put up, as Ray called it, unsalted peanuts in the shell, stashing them in the pockets.  Mrs. O’Rourke sewed the legs shut on the romper suit and the squirrel would sleep inside the shorts. 
Pete much preferred the small Fernandina acorns versus the larger, fancy acorns, Ray explained.   She loved her sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes and fruits and veggies, too.  She ate no meat and drank just water, no beer.  They took her out of her cage at least two hours a day for good “quality time.”  Fingers gave fine scritchy-scratches, but what Pete really loved was to be massaged with a four-prong massage-thingie.  “She would lift her front arm for better access,” Ray remembered with a grin.  She was not afraid of dogs and cats and like a cat, Pete never had a bath.  No matter, she was a girl of good personal grooming.  Oh, she travelled in a camera case with grommet holes.
Pete in her Tux

When it came to fashion, Pete was all over it, and the photos are proof.  From doctor to Santa to tuxedoed squirrel-about-town, she was patient and proud to model her different doll costumes. Some clothes were a gift from her Godparents who wore badges reading: I'm Pete's Godmother and I'm Pete's Godfather! In her later years, Pete slept with an oxygen tube in her special box, just to make her life extra comfy.

Santa Pete
Well, Pete is buried in the O’Rourke back yard, in a pair of dungarees beneath an angel stepping stone.   If the smile on Ray’s face and the tears in his eyes tell me anything, it is that there is a particular little squirrel with angel wings now watching over her beloved parents here on earth.  May we all know such love from and for one of God’s creatures.  
                                                 -Jane Marie

#Amelia, #best friend, #bottlefed, #gray squirrel, #O'Rourke, #pet, #squirrel, #graysquirrel, #beach, #animal

May 12, 2017

The Lone Flower

As I thought of what to write for Mother's Day and looked through my photos, I found this picture. It is a single blossom, like a wild petunia, if there is such a thing, in full bloom.  All alone on the hot sand of our Amelia Island,  I snapped the shot on the way home from church one Sunday morning. I thought how pretty and proud it was at the time and how very strong it was to endure the blistering sun.  I didn't know where I would use the picture on this blog until now. 

It reminds me of my mother, Marie, but not only my mother. To me, it represents all mothers.  The white of it is her purity of heart.  And oh, how a mother does adore her family-  This flower stands strong and alone like happens so often.  Mothers can and often are the ones who must remain power-filled when others collapse from the strain of life.  The matriarchs hold us together for a mother is ever dependable. The vine in the picture is her lifeline to family and friends. The green leaves represent her children and husband and parents and siblings and relatives. It doesn't take a lot to satisfy a mother. Like this flower, no luxurious soakings in spring water and no expensive food or fertilizer is needed to keep her going. She is beautiful without all the frivolity because her beauty comes in the form of kindness, caring, reliability, generosity and pure love. 

So what does your mother want more than flowers or jewels or her favorite restaurant, all of which are lovely gifts, don't get me wrong.  I dare say, as a mother, and speaking to other mothers, what we want is our family about us.  Everybody is busier today than they were yesterday.  That is the way of the world. And often many miles separate us. Still, we all think of our mothers on and off throughout the hours.  When we do, stop a moment and call to say hi. Dash off a text or, what is better, if you can't be with your mom, hand write and snail mail a note to her. She will prize it forever.

Living or gone home to her God, treasure her in thought and deed. Take that straight path she taught you to follow as a child because every day is Mother's Day, or should be, if you think about it.  

Thank you, Mom.

#Mothersday, #holiday, #snailmail, #AmeliaIsland, #celebrate, #love, #parent, #mom, #thankyoumom

May 5, 2017

Tire Tribute

I spied these fun and fabulous tire planters hanging on the wooden fence of our Amelia Island Montessori School.  Of course, I asked a teacher if I might take pictures of these cleverly repurposed items, to share with you.  Permission granted, she said they got the idea from Pinterest. These days, where else?  So, don't throw away that worn out tire. With a little spray paint (meant for rubber), dirt and colorful flowers, you can fancify your gate or fence or wherever you want a shabby chic/country garden kind of look.  Happy Spring and Summer to you all!  And thank you to Montessori, too!

May 2, 2017

Precious Portrait

Jeremy, a young man we have come to know and care about, drew this portrait of my husband, Bruce, and me.   A smidge wrinkled by way of snail mail, that doesn't matter.  We have framed it and it is sitting on the marble-topped table in our parlor. For someone to take seconds, minutes and hours out of their life to create this gift, touches both our hearts. 
     In my thank you note to Jeremy, I tried to express our gratitude for his wonderful work.  I closed my note with the words, "Not only are you such a good artist that we look like humans, not aliens from outer space,  I can never draw faces, myself, but I will remain forever young.  Bruce and I will treasure it always."
     Thank you, Jeremy.  I just had to share with you, my friends.

#portrait, #AmeliaIsland, #framed, #art, #treasure, #alien, #goodbyelie