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Sunday, May 08, 2005


Today was a day that filled me with deep gratitude.

The weather was perfect, sunny, and breezy enough to keep the no-see-ums away. The Gulf water was emerald green and calm. The girls let me sleep late, but not so late that I missed the manatee poking around on the flats just offshore. After he swam off, Gracie and Elle then joined me on my deckchair at the end of our dock mesmerized by a large school of mullet weaving their way among the pilings in the super clear shallows of our bay. Small woodpeckers hammered away at the pines and giant pileated woodpeckers were seen cruising the skies. A large splash on the shoreline caught our attention and we were stunned to see an otter. His shiny body undulated a few times on the surface before he disappeared into the mangroves. Shrieks of delight brought out Dad and Sarabelle. The girls then giggled and whispered, jumping on and off the boat, colluding on their Mothers' Day surprise which had been hidden onboard overnight. An exquisite Phalaenopsis orchid was presented to me and now graces the tank of the toilet, where it will thrive in the damp, filtered-light condition of our island bathroom.

When we arrived at Dock 99 1/2 Saturday night, a note was tucked into our front door announcing a covered dish party at the neighbors'. We had decided to be spontaneous and rough it, figuring we had enough supplies at the house to feed ourselves for one whole day, but never figured on having to assemble any kind of presentable meal for company, so this afternoon, after I returned from a few hours playing at the beach with the girls and hiking through the bushes chasing a black snake, and after Jorge had some quiet time alone to finish his scaled drawings of the orange house for our architect, he took the girls out for a boat ride to Uncle Henry's Marina on Boca Grande where they have a gourmet convenience store.

It was during this lull that I found a great sense of peace. I had my book, relaxing in the hammock on the porch, having a wonderful dialogue in my head with the book's author, thinking of you moms I know virtually and in real life, contemplating how unlike most of the mothers in the book I'm reading we are, and sending out silent wishes that you all were having as wonderful a day as I was, the palms were chattering in the breeze, and then I was easily and happily distracted by a passing gopher tortoise who stopped by for a visit on his gastronomic journey across our yard. I watched him tear up patches of grass, mechanically devouring leaves nearly as long as his body. Not an easy thing to do when you can't use your arms. I was intrigued to see what attracted him and what he passed up in a yard luxuriant with new growth, brought on by unseasonably wet weather. We made eye contact. We understood each other. I found myself thanking God, Jorge, my lucky stars, for bringing me to this place and for giving me the family I have. Never have I felt so in the moment.

Jorge and the girls returned. He quickly transferred his purchases to our own bowls then popped them into the oven to heat up, perpetuating the illusion that we had been slaving over a hot stove all day.

We were really glad we made the effort. When we arrived, the older couple was alone, looking rather disheveled. They cheerfully invited us in and told us to make ourselves at home. Nobody else had arrived for their party. Neither of them even mentioned it. Uh, oh, I thought, maybe these are the first signs of Alzheimer's manifesting itself. After some pleasant conversation and several quizzical looks between Jorge and myself, Phyllis asked us to come out back and see the firepit they had been fixing up for the big party next weekend. Huh? "Next weekend, the 15th, didn't you get our invitation?" Uh, yeah, we thought the party was today. "Didn't you see the date? It says the 15th." Yeah, but we thought today was the 15th. Jorge tried to pin it on me, but hey, like I already you, without Outlook, I'm admittedly lost. Isn't he the one with a day/date function on his watch face? Wrong again! His good watch has been temporarily retired awaiting a new band, the cheapo substitute only has the two basic hands.

When Elle started acting up, I put some of The Epidemic's disciplinary techniques to the test and took her back to the house. She had a little time out on the couch until she regained control and then I called her out, with a warning to be quiet, as a junior raccoon rustled his way down the side of our coconut tree. We followed his progress as he waddled away through the mangroves along the waterline.

Back at the Punta Gorda house this evening, the kids presented me with more special items including artwork made from Q-tips and a certificate of appreciation in recognition of "Her Royal Momliness."

Thanks for a truly great day.

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