day to day rambling...

Real and not always exciting adventures in life.

Location: Maryland
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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sunshine and blue water...

We left Miami on Monday morning to head down to Key West. On the way we stopped at John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, FL to do some snorkeling. The wind was a bit brisk that morning, but the water was clear and 75. We saw some amazing fish, including a barracuda. We then headed south and stopped at a beach in Marathon. The water was warm. We just stopped for a few minutes so that we could see a lighthouse that was in the distance. Here is a photo of the beach at marathon.

We finally got to Key West in the late afternoon. We went down to the tourist area and walked around. Each night at sunset, Key West has the Sunset Festival. It is filled with vendors and street performers. We watched a beautiful sunset and then headed off for some dinner at a Cuban restaurant. I have actually started to acquire a taste for Cuban coffee. I have had one each day, but one so far. Key West has some beautiful buildings. In the old section most of the homes are over 100 years old. Another neat thing about Key West are the wild cats and chickens that roam the city. At dinner (we sat outside) we saw three different cats and a baby chicken at the restaurant. The animals just hang out. We went to bed late and were woke up by the crowing of a wild chicken some time around 3:00am. This sucked, because we had to be up at 5:00am to catch the ferry to go out to the Dry Tortugas.

We got to the ferry at about 6:15am. We were going to camp overnight out on the Dry Tortugas, so we had to be there early. The boat did not leave until around 8:00am. For those of you who don't know about the Dry Tortugas, here is a brief discription. The Dry Tortugas are located about 70 miles west of Key West. The are a 19th century fort and two lighthouses located there. The only way to reach the islands is by boat or seaplane. The islands are home to many different kinds of birds and fish.

We arrived at about 10:30am and were greeted by the official greeters of the Dry Tortugas. It was great to see these pelicans when we arrived. I have never seen a pelican up so close before.

We spent a good part of the day snorkeling and setting up camp. Here is the view from our campsite.

As I have already stated, there is a 19th century fort on the island. This was great fun to explore. We had fun walking around and taking pictures. This is actually the biggest fort I have ever seen. It was never comepletely finished, so there are some areas that seem to be in ruins. Here is a photo from the top of the fort looking down on Bush and Long Keys (the fort sits on Garden Key).

Garden Key is only 16 acres in size and 11 of those acres is occupied by the fort. So needless to say the fort is everywhere. Here is a view of the fort from the beach that was out in front of our camp site.

There is a moat that goes all the way around the fort. The top of the moat is as wide as an ordinary sidewalk. This is a great way to explore around the fort. Inside the moat is off limits for swimming, so the water in there stays very clear and calm. We saw several different kinds of sea life there. We saw many fish, conchs, sea slugs, a nurse shark and some starfish. I have never seen a starfish in the wild before, so this was really awesome. He/she was probably about eight inches across.

After walking the moat, we started to make dinner and then waited for the sun to set. One of the main reasons why we decided to go here was to see the two lighthouses. One is on Garden Key and is part of the fort. The other is on Loggerhead Key, which is about 2.5 miles away. Since we did not have our own boat we had to enjoy it from a distance. Here is a picture of the sunset with the Dry Tortugas lighthouse off to the left of the sun.

After the sunset we went back to our campsite and noticed that there were tons of hermit crabs crawling around. The largest we saw was about 4-5 inches across. So Bob and I went around the camp ground with a flash light looking at hermit crabs. It was a great way to end a fantastic day.

Unfortunately at about 2:00am it started to rain and rain and rain. It rained until about 11:00am or so the next day. When the sun finally came back out Bob went snorkeling again. I did not, because I thought the water was too rough. Bob said he saw better fish than the day before. I sat by the beach and just looked out at the water. I was thinking about how great it will be to take Sophia there some day. The ferry left the Dry Tortugas at 3:00pm. I really hated to leave. Next time I want to stay for a few more days. Let me know if you want to go, too! The boat ride back was pretty rough. I am sitting here right now feeling the waves that we felt on the boat. It was the worst boat ride I have ever encountered, but if I could go back now I would do it again.

After we got off the ferry at about 5:00 we went to our car and drove back to Miami. It took about four hours, but we did make a few stops along the way. It is now about 1:00am on Thursday and I am beat. It has been a whirlwind tour of south Florida. I think we are going out to Miami beach in the morning to hang out for awhile.

I hope you are all well.

Have pleasant tropical dreams!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Miami baby...

Well I made it. I am here in sunny Florida. I have to admit that I was very scared to fly and to leave Sophia. I was proud of myself though, I only got a bit teary eyed when I left her at the airport. TSA was so backed up that I thought I would miss my flight, so I had no time for tears. That was probably the best thing that could have happened.

I got on the plane and was waiting to see who my seatmates would be when a man and his almost two year old daughter sat down beside me. He apologized and said that he would try to get another seat. I told him that I was glad to have his daughter sit beside me, because I left my daughter at the airport. I made friends with the girl and she sat on my lap part of the flight so that she could look out the window. It is funny how this little girl helped me through the flight. She fulfilled my mothering need. At the end of the flight I helped the girl's father carry some things through the airport and met up with Bob. The father told Bob that I had been his savior. I guess I helped the father as much as the daughter had helped me.

The first day down here we went to Key Biscayne to see the light house and to swim. It was georgeous there. On the way back, I got a nice view of the Miami skyline. In the evening we went down to South Beach. The air was warm, the moon was shining brightly and the sights and sounds were mesmerizing. I have never seen such beautiful people in my life. Even though I felt a bit out of place it was hard to leave such a wonderful place. Here is a shot of the moon over Miami Beach.

On Saturday we went to Miami Beach for the day. The water was warm and beautiful. There was a sandbar about 75 to 100 feet off-shore which was a great place to just sit and watch people and talk to Bob. We found some really cool shells to take home for Sophia. The beach here is so much different than they are in Maryland. First of all, you see alot of people in thongs and many women lay on the beach topless. I have only seen that in Punta Cana, but I am not very well traveled. Secondly, the water is very calm and clear. I could have stayed in the water all day. It is also great to see the palm trees running up and down the beach. Here is a picture of the beach.

Saturday evening we went and walked around Coral Gables. The buildings and houses in this area are beautiful. This is the Biltmore Hotel.

That brings me to today. For most of my life I have loved animals and nature. Today I fulfilled a lifelong dream of going to Everglades National Park. It was so different that I had expected. The plant life was amazing. There were swamps, forests, and areas that looked like African savannahs. There were ferns and moss growing on trees. We went on a boat ride and were able to see some crocodiles. They are not as common as the alligator. Our guide said that there are about 40,000 alligators in the Everglades. On one trail we saw at least 25. Wow, what an amazing day. The only bad thing that happened was that I did not wear sun screen and am now beet red from being out for about an hour or so. I hate to be sunburned.

Tomorrow we are driving through the Keys down to Key West. On the way we are going to check out some lighthouses and go snorkeling. On Tuesday we are taking a ferry to the Dry Tortugas. I will tell you all about that when we get back. I think I will have a good bit to tell you about.

I hope you are all well!

Have a wonderful night!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Warm and fuzzy...

Today was a great day! Sophia and I went to visit my aunt up in Pennsylvania. The sun was out and it was warm, so it was a very nice day for a drive.

My aunt's son and his girlfriend just had a baby last week. Her name is Madison. She was born on my birthday, which was an awesome present. Her dad is ten years younger than me, but I have always loved him as a brother. Even though we don't talk much I still have this wonderful feeling for him. When he was a little boy, I used to take him with me every place I went, when I visited his house. I have had a good number of adventures with him. Madison was a sweet and very good natured baby. She reminds me of her father when he was a baby.

My aunt has always been a bright spot in my life. Since my home life was always a mess, her home was a place for fun and sometimes a bit of trouble. You could always count on my aunt for a wild time. She has always loved animals and to this day she has two dogs, two cats, two pot-bellied pigs, three ducks and numerous chickens. She also has a pond with fish and frogs. Needless to say, Sophia had a ball at her house. It seems like my aunt's house will be fun for her, too!

I am glad that despite my detachment from my parents that there will be somebody in my family for my daughter to love, my aunt. I am very thankful to have her. Even though we have had our rough times, the good definitely outweighs the bad. So when I feel sorry for myself over my parental situation, in the back of my mind, I know that my aunt will always be there for me.

So for now I am once again counting my blessings.

Have a wonderful night!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


OK, so I know it has been a few days, but cut me some slack, it has been a long week. We have been dealing with this car insurance nightmare.

Last week we were told that the car could be fixed. This morning I received a call from the adjuster who says that the car is now being totaled. For the amount they want to give me to total my car, I can not replace it. How crappy! Bob called back and started to haggle, so now they are back to possibly fixing the car. We should know something tomorrow. I basically just want this all to be over.

So if they total, I have to go through the awful process of locating a new car. The bad thing about that is that Bob leaves for Miami on Sunday, so we would have to finalize all this stuff before he leaves.

Buying a car sucks. You never know if you can trust the salesperson. In the back of your mind you are always thinking, "this guy is trying to screw me over." Why does it have to be that way? I guess you could go to Carmax or some place like that (no haggle prices), but their prices are generally higher. So basically they are screwing you, too!

So no matter what the situation in a accident is, your fault or not, you get screwed. The insurance companies try to give you too little for your car and if you do get a good amount then you are screwed by the car dealership for your new car!

So the moral of this story is, don't get into an accident.

Good night!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

What if...

My vacation is officially 11 days away. I am so anxious to go, but at the same time, I long to stay here. I have never left Sophia for this long before. She is usually right by my side. She once left me to go to the beach with her grandparents and I have left her at their house to spend the night, but I have never left her at the airport to board a plane. While I am not afraid to fly, I have been feeling apprehensive about going. Someplace in the deep recesses of my mind I think "What if?"

What if my plane crashes? Will Sophia know how much I loved her? Will she have any remembrance of me? Will the people who are left to raise her teach her what I would want her to know? Will they love her like I do?

These are all questions that I have tossed around in my mind for several weeks. Every time I think I am comfortable with the answer to one of the questions, another one comes rolling along to fortify my doubt. It is hard for me to explain how I feel about these questions, because even though I love my husband, I have never experienced the love and devotion that I have for my child. She is what I think about when I wake up and what I think about before I go to sleep.

I am a firm believer that there is no greater love than to be loved by a child. They love you unconditionally. Sophia trusts me and loves me no matter how I look or what I say. This is truly a wonderful thing.

While I know that I am lucky, I know that Sophia is lucky, too! She has many adults around her who love her and encourage her. I wish that I could say that for all children, but there are many out there who have don't even their most basic needs of life met. I want her to know that it is important to give of oneself whenever possible to help somebody in need. I want her to realize that the world is a wonderful place that is meant to be cherished and not squandered for future generations. I want her to go to school, so that she can make a difference. Most of all I want her to be kind and compassionate, so that she can take her many blessings and use them to the best that she can to help others.

While I know that this is no small order, this is just in case. So if something should happen to me, please make sure to pass this along and if not for Sophia for some other child who desperately needs your help. It is a wonderful thing to help a child!!

Good night and dream of unconditional love!

Friday, April 08, 2005

What a long strange trip...

It has been a long couple of days. My back, neck and chest still hurt from the accident. I had a follow-up with my regular doctor this morning and was told that I should start feeling much better over the next day or so.

I have been dealing with insurance companies quite a bit. I had to get a little nasty with one of the insurance adjusters to get a call back. He was really starting to irritate me, because the accident was not my fault and all I wanted was to get some info on getting a rental car. After leaving him a very frustrated message (3rd call to his office), I finally got a call back within 15 minutes. Thankfully, from that point forward, there has been very good response.

I was told this morning that it appears that my car can be fixed. Even though it looked pretty bad, the damage was not as extensive as it first appeared. This makes me extremely happy, because you never really make out when your car is totaled.

I would like to say that I have been productive over the last few days, but honestly I just have not been up to it. I should have used the time to read, but I mostly sat in front of the tube. At this point, I can not even tell you what I have been watching. What a waste. I did have Bob tape the Pope's funeral this morning, but I have only watched part of it. I will probably finish watching it tonight.

I really don't have much else to say. I have been wrapped up in my own little world counting my blessings and being thankful that Sophia was not hurt (thank God for carseats). I have thought a bit about the other driver. According to the police and the insurance adjuster, she was very concerned about Sophia and me. I was glad that she and her grandchildren were not hurt. She seems like a nice lady, so I hope she does not feel too bad, because accidents do happen. Like Amanda said in response to my previous post, a few seconds more or less could have changed everything. It just so happens that on this occasion time was not on her side.

Thanks for the kind words that you left. It means a great deal.

Have a marvelous evening!!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Life is precious...

Life really is a precious thing. I know this, but I honestly don't think about it all that much. Today I was given a shocking reminder.

I had been out shopping with Sophia and was on the way home. A black Suburban pulls out in front of me. I knew instantly that there was no way that I could avoid hitting this car and instantly hit the breaks. Then time slowed way down, it was sort of like an out of body experience. Before I knew what was happening my airbag had deployed and Sophia was screaming from the back. It took a few seconds to get out of the car to get to Sophia. I pulled her out of her car seat and held her close. I was just so scared that she was hurt.

I look over and realize that the car that I had hit contained a grandmother and two grandchildren. Thankfully, they were not hurt. The police officer who had arrived first called an ambulance and when they arrived they checked out Sophia and she was fine, but since I had a pain in my chest, I had to go to the hospital in the ambulance. I had to be on the board with a neck brace, until the doctor could check me out. It is strange to be wheeled around only being able to see what is directly above your head. Thankfully, I am fine with just some bruising from my seat belt and air bag. I was lucky.

My car looks terrible. The whole front is smashed in and the lights were hanging like an eyeballs out of their sockets. The radiator had a whole, because the engine coolant spilled all over the ground. When I look at the car, again I feel lucky. It could have been much worse.

The accident was the other driver's fault. She received a citation, but from what the officer said, her main concern was that Sophia and I were okay. I felt really bad for her, because I am sure she felt the same way that I did, just glad to be safe.

Maybe time slowed down during the accident so that I could ponder the beauty of being alive. Maybe it was so that I could have one last thought of Sophia, just in case something really bad was going to happen. I will never know, but hopefully it will make me think more often about the wonderful gifts that I am given each day.

Ponder life a bit today. Think about how you are lucky. Be sure that you buckle up. The life you save might just be your own.

Good night and pleasant dreams!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Day with Mom...

As I stated yesterday, I was going to be spending time with my mom today. This is usually something that I regret doing later. I told my mom to meet at my house at 10:00. My mom shows at 9:30 and I am not ready. My mom has always had this habit of showing up very early, which drives me nuts. She is also one of those people that will call you at 7:00 on a Saturday morning.

My mom wants to go to the cemetery where my grandparents, great-grandparents and other relatives are buried. This is not an uplifting way to spend the morning, but I go along (well I actually drove). She has a plastic bag containing two plastic flower wreathes for her parents' grave. It was breezy so she is concerned that they will blow away. She messes with the one wreath so badly that the stand is very bent and the Styrofoam wreath that holds the flowers is broken. It took me a few minutes, but I was finally able to convince her that they are fine and we leave.

She then wanted to go to lunch at a nearby restaurant, but because she wanted to leave my house so damn early the restaurant is not open yet. So I suggest another place and it, too is closed. So finally we decide on Ruby Tuesdays. This is a fine decision, because I am a vegetarian and they at least have a salad bar if there is nothing appropriate on the menu. We start placing our orders. My mom orders an appetizer with meat, so I figured she was not sharing. So my mom who has told me how fat I am for years, eats an entire appetizer, an entree and a dessert. There is always weirdness when the check comes, because my mom has had so many financial problems that I always am ready to pay, just in case. So even though she invited me for lunch I paid my own way.

For years now my mom has been paying my 29 year old sister, Jennifer's bills, because she is a loser. She has two kids that she could never afford in the first place, but had them any way. The reason that I bring this up was because during lunch my mom tells me how she is taking my shitty sister and her kids on vacation. Now if she would have said that she was taking my niece and nephew I would have been fine with that, but why Jennifer. I just don't get it, I take care of things and I get treated like crap, Jennifer does nothing and the red carpet is rolled out for her. Believe me when I say that there is no love lost between my sister and me.

Since it is my birthday on the 5th and my mom's is on 7th, we exchanged birthday gifts. I never know what to get my mom, she never really shows any kind of emotion when you give her something. My mom can be a bit flashy, so I got her some bright summer time clothes. While I can honestly say that I have not received a gift from my mother that I have liked in years, I do know that it is the thought that counts and I give her credit for that. This years gift was no different than any other year. She gave me this shirt that has this crazy print on it. I am a very basic jeans and t-shirt person and have been for years, so why is it that the woman who gave birth to me can not figure this out. I pray for gift cards each year to no avail.

After lunch we go back to my house. So far my mom has not let her crazy side out. I lay Sophia down for a nap and then spend some time with my mom watching TV. We watch the Pope being moved from the Apostolic Palace to St. Peter's basilica. This prompts my mom to start asking a bunch of Catholic questions. I try to answer her questions as best as I can and even call Bob at one point for some more info. Then it happens, the thing I have been dreading all day, my mom starts to talk to herself. Every time I see her, she has at least one of these schizo moments. Today this was the only one. I have asked her to see a doctor about her imaginary friends, but she just gets mad.

So overall this was not a terrible visit. The fact that only one crazy moment happened was a plus. While I didn't care for her gift, I will send her a thank you note for it and probably donate it to charity. I wished today like I do for all of her visits that she will get some help for the voices that she is hearing in her head, but until she acknowledges that she has a problem, there is nothing I can do to help her.

I hope that you all have a wonderful evening.

Good night!!!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I hate losing things...

I know that I have said on several occasions that my house is a mess. Today I found further evidence of this fact. I am constantly losing things, like my cell phone and car keys. I always hate the thought of having to possibly replace these items. Yesterday we had to go to a birthday party for one of Sophia's playmates. We got home around 3:00 or so. By the time we left to go to mass at 5:30 my keys were gone. Keys are a pain in the ass to replace. The key for my current car has some kind of anti-theft chip in it that can only be replaced at the dealership at a cost of $60. or more. Today Bob and I spent a good deal of the day looking for the keys. I started to think that Sophia may have taken them and stashed them someplace (this has happened before). Finally around 11:00 this evening I found them under a pile of papers that Bob and I thought we had each looked under.

I am as usual a victim of my own messiness. I have no idea what causes me to be this way. I have tried to figure it out, but I guess I am just plain lazy. I was raised to be neat, but sometime after I left home, things went horribly wrong. I hope that Sophia will be blessed with a neat streak, but somehow I am doubting that.

I am sitting here watching the Yankees, Red Sox game. I am really not a fan of either team, but can appreciate the spectacular team history of the Yankees. I unfortunately have been an Orioles fan since I was a kid. I was born in Baltimore, but grew up in Pennsylvania, so I always thought of them as my hometown team. What a crappy team to like. I have not really watched baseball faithfully for many years, but the beginning of the season always signals to me that spring is finally here.

It has been so nasty out the last few days. I keep thinking that this rain will be the rain that magically transforms the outside world into a blanket of green. I went to a plant nursery the other day. I am usually mesmerized by the plants that are available. I love to plant flowers and herbs. I am definitely not what you would call a gardener, but I wish that I were. Practice might help, so hopefully the weather will clear up soon so that I can get to work.

I am going to lunch with my crazy mother tomorrow. We both have a birthday this week, so we are getting together to celebrate. Being with my mom is always a chore. We have nothing in common, so decent conversation is always lacking. I always think that I am talking over her head and that I really have to struggle to keep conversation going. It is hard to be in the car with somebody you have known your entire life and have absolutely nothing to say to them. The silence is deafening. She is not close with Sophia either. She never asks to hold her. So I get a little irritated when I see her so detached from Sophia. Maybe, maybe, maybe tomorrow will be different, but don't hold your breath.

Well I am outta here.

Have sweet dreams of a warm spring day!!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Pope...

It is about 2:45 in the morning. I am sitting here awake, because my stomach hurts and Sophia is awake. I am in my living room watching Headline News waiting for any new news regarding the Pope. He is dying and it is strange how the death of this man will affect many around the world.

I was not born into a Catholic family, but converted shortly before I was married. I was raised in a Methodist home and attended church weekly, but was never really comfortable with the "Peyton Place" attitude of the people who attended my church. After leaving home at 17, I stopped attending any kind of church service. I met my future husband when I was 19 and started to attend Catholic church with him. I found the service to be beautiful and inviting. I never really felt that way about the church that I grew up in.

The Catholics were always a mystery to me. It was my lack of education that made me feel this way. Other Christian religions looked on the Catholics as "bead rubbers" and "idol worshippers". I find this to be hilarious. The "idol worship" refers to the fact that many Catholic churches have statues of saints. I try to explain to outsiders that these statues are there so that you can pray for that particular saint's assistance. They are not worshipped, but spoke to like you may speak to somebody important to you that has passed away. They are sort of like a friend who is looking out for you. This can be very comforting if you are feeling alone with no place to turn.

I won't bore you with a history of the Pope, because I feel that we will be inundated with info about him over the next few days. In my mind there are no appropriate words to describe the greatness of this man. I know that I am not alone when I say that his death will be greatly mourned.

Well it is now 3:20 and I am tired. Sophia is still awake. She has been waking up the last few nights. I hate this. I am one of those people who needs uninterrupted sleep to feel well rested. Between her and this stomach crap, it has been days since I have slept good. I should not complain, because some people never get a good night's rest. I guess I have been extremely spoiled.

Well I hope that you are all sound asleep and dreaming wonderful dreams. Hopefully, I will be soon.

Have a great morning!