Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Roots Run Deep in South Georgia

First, let me thank all of you for your kind words on the death of my cousin, Herbert. I was again saddened a week later when my cousin Reggie also passed away. Although they knew each other well, Herbert and Reggie were not related. Herbert came from my paternal grandfather's side of the family and Reggie from my paternal grandmother's. They both led long lives and they both made an impact on mine.

While reading your thoughtful condolences, I noticed a number of you referred to Herbert as my uncle. This is probably because in my post I explained that Herbert's mother was sister to my grandfather. If you haven't delved into genealogy, this is a common mistake. I didn't understand the whole relationship thing until I started working on my family tree a number of years ago.

Ah, genealogy, the hobby that ties you to your roots. The thing that can make other family members run when they see you coming. It can also be the tie that binds you together with family members you either haven't seen for many years or those you never knew existed.

Herbert and Reggie were my first cousins, once removed. Simply put, this means they were my daddy's cousins, the once removed means that they are also my first cousins with a difference of one generation between us. To my children they were first cousins, twice removed, because there are two generations between them.

Herbert and Reggie's children are my second cousins. Have I lost you yet? I know it can be so confusing, don't you think? This explanation from might help clear this up a bit:

Cousin (a.k.a "first cousin")
Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.

Second Cousin
Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins
Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.

When the word "removed" is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations.

So, there you have it, a little genealogy tip from me to all of you. If you've never researched you family roots, I encourage you to do so. The stories, photos, memories, family events and love that have been shared are so precious to me, so if you've ever thought about researching your family, I encourage you to do so.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rest In Peace Loved One

Herbert Batten
October 31, 1926 – June 16, 2011

My cousin Herbert was born in Douglas, Georgia and remained there his entire life. As a young man he took his bride to live on the land where his mother Eunice had been born. Eunice was sister to my grandfather and they had both been born there in a little log cabin on the land their daddy had turned into a farm in the 1880s. That cabin, though a bit shaky, still stands on that land and across the road is the family cemetery where my great-grandparents and my grandfather are buried. It is here where Herbert will be laid to rest, amongst other family members who have passed over the years.

Herbert with his wife and two daughters. He also had a son and five grandchildren.
Here I am a few years ago with Herbert and Doris
The Cook House. Herbert built this many years ago and it is where close to 100 family members gather at Thanksgiving.

Herbert never threw anything away and in the Cook House you'll find his collection of Ball jars and cooking implements, along with all kinds of other goodies.
Can you see those two racks of cast iron skillets on the back wall?
Goodbye Herbert, I will miss you so much. Thanks for all the family stories you shared, including the one of my grandfather when he fell out of the second story window right after the family moved from the log cabin into the "Big House" when he was just about four-years-old. I also want to thank you for the love you showed and for opening up your home when I came to visit.

Rest in Peace

Please excuse me while I take some time to mourn this loss. I will be leaving for Georgia in the morning to be with family.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thank you from the ocean to the shore — we did it!

WOWZA! I can't thank you enough for making my World Oceans Day Online Beach Party a HUGE success last week! I was blown away by all the wonderful bloggers who linked up such thoughtful, beautiful posts to share their love of the sea and passion for ocean conservancy.

To tell you the truth, after all the problems we were having with Blogger, I was afraid the turn out would be disappointing. Just in time, it seems the powers that be in Blogland, got most of our blogs up and running.

I also want to thank my friend Cris of Here and There and Everywhere for hosting the 3rd Annual Oceanic-Blog-a-thon in honor of World Oceans Day.

Most of all, I want to thank our readers for taking the time to read so many fabulous posts. I hope each of you learned something new, I know I certainly did. That's what is so incredible about blogging — the sharing of knowledge. I love those "aha" moments, when a lightbulb goes off in your head and suddenly something becomes clear and you gain insight into a subject; in this case the importance of protecting our oceans from harm.

I'm going to be announcing the winners of my WOD giveaway soon, between the Blogger issues and the party itself, I am a bit behind on my life. Oh, and something else really through me for a loop…

I Got A Job!

After basically being out of work for most of this year, I finally found a position that I think is going to work out quite well. The fact that it came just a few days before World Oceans Day was quite a surprise. I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong, but after carefully planning my WOD beach party since January, it was definitely a bit distracting to start a new job, especially when it meant I also had to…


Yeah, throw a party, start a new job and move all in the space of a couple of days — I can do that…


Luckily, I only had to move thirty minutes away and my daughter actually moved with me. This left my granddaughter in the duplex. I told her that typically when a child gets their first apartment, they are the ones that move, not the parent. She's thrilled and helped us with our move. Things went smoothy and quickly. As I look around my new space, I see mounds of hastily packed boxes and lots of work to get to. I had to take a breadth and let all of you know what's going on. I still work at home, which is a good thing, but I now have a bedroom, an office and a studio all to myself. Yes, I think this is going to work out just fine. Keep your fingers crossed for me — I know I am!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

World Ocean's Day Online Beach Party!

Happy World Oceans Day 2011!

Today, people around the globe are gathering together to celebrate World Oceans Day. There will be coastal clean-ups, educational trips to aquariums and zoos, lectures, interactive displays, nature walks, sustainable seafood festivals, and the list goes on.

Scientists will be at events worldwide, speaking on the vital role ocean research plays in the lives of each of us.

Concerned citizens will be making commitments to lifestyle changes that will have positive effects on our shared ocean. You can join them by taking The Seven Cs Pledge to Protect our Ocean. While there you will learn how you can make a difference in your lifestyle choices.

Then there's folks like us, who belong to a HUGE online community through our blogs!

I want to personally thank each and everyone of you for coming by today to celebrate our mutual love of the ocean. Some of you have been waiting for this day and have prepared posts that you can link up at the bottom. I can't wait to see what you've shared with us! I know there will be stories, facts and photos around our community today that will show us your love of the sea and shore. Others have come by to read and learn from us. Together we can make a difference and I am humbled by your commitment to this cause.

In January of this year, I wrote three back-to-back posts on a grand piano that a 16-year-old boy dumped onto a sandbar in Biscayne Bay here in Florida, saying that he thought it was, "Cool and artistic." I ranted about how destructive this was to our environment, but it got me to thinking — here was this one story that was making headlines around the world and while it did bring attention to the importance of ocean conservancy, it wasn't showing how art and the environment can come together in perfect harmony.

I started researching artists who have made positive, environmental impacts and believe me, there are MANY! Then I came across one artist who brought a whole new meaning to art as an environmental tool and it is his work I want to share with you today. I've been holding onto this research until now, because I believe what he does epitomizes what celebrating World Oceans Day signifies to many of us. The organizers of World Oceans Day say that it is about "making lasting change and it's up to people like us to rise up and be the voice for the ocean all year long." For me there is a voice I've now heard and I am deeply moved by his commitment to protect our ocean.

Without further adieu, I am honored to introduce you to the work of

You can click on this image to see amazing detail!

What Taylor created, sea life has continued to build upon.

The work evolves and will for generations to come!

Let me back up and show you an overview of this incredible work of art soon after its installation…

Underwater Sculpture Art of Jason deCaires Taylor, Vicissitudes, Grenada, West Indies.

From Taylor's website I learned that "in 2009 a monumental underwater museum called MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) was formed in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc."

"To date the underwater museum comprises of 4 installations; La Jardinera de la Esperanza, Coleccionista de los Sueños, Hombre en Llamas and The Silent Evolution all created by Jason deCaires Taylor. The Silent Evolution, his most ambitious work to date, is a collection of over 400 life-size figurative works, forming a vast gathering of people aiming to define a new era of living in a symbiotic relationship with nature."

By now you're probably shaking your head and asking yourself why I would be so excited about someone dumping installing something in our ocean, even it is "artistic and cool."

Let me explain, these are not ordinary statues. In the words of the artist, "The sculptures are designed to become artificial reef units. The cement used is a special type of marine-grade cement that's engineered to attract corals; corals adhere to it, they grow, they make different formations, that in turn encourages fish and other marine life."

“Coral reefs attract an array of marine life (such as colourful fish, turtles, sea urchins, sponges, and sharks) and also provide enclosed spaces for sea creatures to breed or take refuge… One of the greatest benefits of artificial reefs is that they have lifted the pressure off natural reefs which, over the past few decades, have been over-fished and over-visited. By diverting attention to artificial reefs, natural reefs have now been given a greater chance to repair and to regenerate.”

Just a few months after the more than 400 statues were installed, they were already attracting schools of fish, lobsters and algae.

"With scientists predicting a permanent demise of 80% of our natural coral reefs by 2050, The Silent Evolution illustrates a potential symbiotic relationship between man and the life-systems of the underwater world; one that is critical if our grandchildren are to have the opportunity to see these beautiful habitats for themselves."

The statues themselves are life-size casts of actual people,

the oldest being a 70-year-old nun…

and the youngest, a sweet-faced girl of three…

This next one is of Charlie and in the image on the right you can see
the transformation after six months underwater…

This next image is of The Silent Evolution as it looked on land…

during the installation

and finally underwater

The fish seem to be happy with the results…

very happy

As do many others critters…

including the tourists

I did tell you that this is an underwater museum, didn't I?

Well, what's an grand opening without a ribbon cutting ceremony…

According to the museum, the third stage of the museum commencing in 2011, will involve commissioning local and international artists to contribute further sculptural installations and host special underwater cultural events celebrating the Arts and Science.

The installation won't ever really be finished, since the marine life will keep adding touches for centuries to come.

MUSA can be viewed either by scuba diving, free diving, snorkeling or from a glass-bottom boat.

Taylor is currently founder and Artistic Director of the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) in Cancun, Mexico.

I could go on and on (and on) about Taylor's art, but there's a party going on and I don't want to take up all your time. I will encourage you to visit Jason deCaires Taylor's website at a later date to learn more about his work and see more photos. I suggest you start here and click through all ten pages if you'd like to learn more about the subjects of his work. Trust me you don't want to miss reading about The Archive of Lost Dreams, where a male registrar collects bottles containing messages from all over the world. Oh yeah, he's a statue and the bottles are REAL.

A special thanks to Jason deCaires Taylor for not only creating magnificent art, but for using your incredible talent to help protect our oceans. Thank you for bringing people around the world and other artists together and showing the rest of us that man and our environment can live in harmony in a mutually beneficial manner. You are amazing!

You can "Like" Jason deCaires Taylor on Facebook to see more photos

and keep up with the latest news.

The sculptures we've seen today are beautiful and we've learned that they do provide a service to our oceans by creating artificial reefs that are benefitting sea life, but the question you may be asking yourself is,

"Why should I care about coral reefs?"

Often, many people only become involved in a cause when they see how it directly impacts their lives. I'm here to tell you that you'd be hard-pressed to find someone whose life is not impacted in some way by coral reefs and the overall health of our ocean.

Because of their structure, coral reefs provide shoreline wave protection from tropical storms and hurricanes.

Much like wetlands on land, coral reefs act as a nursery for the sea, providing space for fish and other marine life to spawn, hide and feed.

More than 70 percent of the world’s oxygen supply comes from phytoplankton in the ocean. Every two or three breaths, remember to thank the ocean. Earth Gauge

Oceans provide us with food, cycle our water, generate most of the oxygen we breathe, balance our climate, supply us with medicines and much more.

One thing I've learned over the years is that when you introduce critters to folks, they are apt to become more invested in saving them. For that reason I just had to share this photo with you…

This pygmy sea horse is no bigger than a little fingernail.
Kapalai, Sabah, Malaysia. ©Scubazoo

Now don't you want to Save Our Seas for this little guy?

Thank you again for coming to my party and remember, everyone who links up their ocean-related post between now and midnight on Sunday will be entered into a drawing to win a special box of goodies from Shellbelle's Tiki Hut. It's not too late to write a post or even link one that you've posted recently, it just needs to share your love of the ocean with the rest of us. The Linky tool will be open until Midnight Sunday EST. I will be placing a permalink to this post in my sidebar for future reference. I hope you all get a chance to visit everyone who has participated and no, you don't have to do it all today, we'll all be here waiting to show you why we love the ocean so much and why we feel it is so important to protect her.

You can also join my friend Cris in Spain for the 3rd Oceanic Blog-A-Thon. This will be the third year Cris and I have blogged together to share our love of the ocean. The first year I wrote about the importance of Mangrove Trees and last year I did the same for Oysters. I LOVE celebrating our world ocean!

Todays Ocean Fact: Although they cover only two-tenths of one percent of the ocean floor, these complex tropical ecosystems rival the rainforests in terms of biodiversity, supporting nearly a quarter of all marine species. They provide food and income to millions of people worldwide, and they protect our coastal communities from damaging storms and tsunamis. Constructed by living organisms, coral reefs are home to some of the most fascinating plants and animals in the world.Coral Reef Alliance

To add your post, click on the blue Inlinkz button below, add the permalink to your blog post  (that's the link that goes directly to your post, not just your blog), and follow the instructions to select a photo. If you have problems adding your post, just email me your permalink or a link to your blog and I'll add it for you. Thanks for posting for the ocean!

Friday, June 3, 2011

What kind of birds are in your yard?

Most of you know that last weekend I apartment-sat for my sister while she and her Red Hat group went to St. Augustine for Memorial Day Weekend. I showed you a photo of the little manmade lake that is in the middle of their courtyard that she had on her computer. I thought I'd show you a bit of a better photo today…

The lake is just about 15 steps from her front door.

The view from her front window

When this is in "your" yard and because there are no children around to frighten them away, many of our native birds also call this home. They are so well-treated by the residents, that they are comfortable with you walking amongst them. If my darn ankle wasn't still giving me problems, I could have really gotten some great shots, but I will share what I did take.

Anhinga posing

I've got all my gulls in a row

Bath time
Black Skimmer

Cattle Egret
Common Moorhen
Great Blue Heron
Great White Egret
The Heron getting his morning sun and the Egret stopped by for a visit.
Laughing Gull
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard
Mallard Ducks
Muscovy Ducks

Thought a bird was flying overhead for a minute, lol.
Roseate Spoonbill

White Ibis
They would walk right along with me and were very polite.
Whose coming over to say hello?
A Wood Stork - the only breeding stork in America.

Now you're probably all thinking I was feeding these birds to get them to come up to me, but you'd be wrong. While there are a few residents who do feed them, I am against feeding any kind of wildlife unless you are providing them something that is a natural part of their diet. I've yet to see a bird feeder that holds fish, insects or the aquatic vegetation that is the diet of most of these birds. The lake provides them with their needs, after-all, that's why they moved here in the first place. Besides, the Muscovies are known for eating mosquitoes and that's just what we want them to do!

The birds also get along very well with other wildlife that have set up housekeeping here…

Luckily, the squirrel population here is very limited. They are cute and fun to watch, but too many squirrels and they just become annoying. I know all of you with bird feeders in your yard will attest to this.

There's also another species who is quite comfortable here…

Slider turtles are very shy and will quickly swim away when approached, but this little guy poked his head up to check out what I was doing; maybe he knows I love turtles.

In Florida we have Yellow-bellied Sliders, which are native and Red-eared Sliders, which are not. Red-eared Sliders are the ones you see most often in pet stores and are not supposed to sold here except for educational purposes. Unfortunately, the powers that be don't follow through on this law and you see them sold everywhere, not only in pet stores, but also at flea markets and on street corners. People buy them because they are so cute and if they manage to survive, they grow too big and are let loose in our ponds and lakes. You can read more about each species on Wikipedia by clicking on the above links, if you're interested.

When I was talking on the phone with my sister before going to her home, she told me that one night a turtle came up and dug a hole in the little garden area she has by her front door. She said she kept looking out her window and then said it was crazy, because the turtle dug the hole and then filled it back in and left. I explained to her that what had happened was the turtle dug the hole and then laid her eggs. My sister said she couldn't believe that the turtle even put the mulch back in place. Here's a photo I took of where the eggs were laid…

Now would you have ever guessed there are turtle eggs buried in between those two garden statues? If Sis hadn't seen it with her own two eyes, we would never have known they were there. We'll keep an eye on the nest and try to save the babies when they emerge, with so many birds around they don't have much of a chance without our help. My sister was not able to identify what kind of turtle was in her garden, but she did say it was about 2-feet long, which would indicate it was not one of the sliders. She also said it had a pointed nose. This means it could have been a Florida Soft-shell Turtle, which are common and are natives. Only time will tell, so I may have an update in about three months.

Florida Soft-shell Turtle - Image via Wikipedia

Update (Friday Night): I just got off the phone with my sis to tell her I had posted these pics and we got to talking about the turtle. She said she had posted a pic of it in the water on FB. Went, checked it out and "shore 'nuf" it is a Florida Soft-shell Turtle…

It makes me very happy when our Florida natives are thriving, so we'll be keeping an extra eye out for these hatchings.

My time at my sister's was nice and relaxing, I enjoyed the birds, other wildlife and the sky…

So, the question of the day is what kind of birds are in your yard?

Reminder: It's only 5 more days until my

I hope you'll be joining us and linking up your ocean post!

My friend Diane of Lavender Dreams put up a post today of the sea life her and her hubby came across on the Cape Canaveral National Seashore earlier this week. You never know what you'll see here Florida, check out her post here.

Today's Ocean Fact: Whether you live near the coast or further inland, rainwater washes litter from the street into storm drains, where it can flow into you local river and, eventually, the ocean. You can help at home by throwing trash in proper receptacles or organizing a trash cleanup in your community.Earth Gauge
I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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