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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Happy Birthday, Vanessa!
March 13, 2008, 10:42 am

To my dear sister,
who has rocked this world for 17 years now,
happy, happy birthday!!!

Birthdays
EPCOT Roundup
March 12, 2008, 2:22 pm

Well, I did it - I took Marianna to EPCOT and we both had a great time!

So many pictures were taken I decided to load them into the Photo Gallery rather than one incredibly long post. So Click Here and enjoy!

The New Feature
March 8, 2008, 2:03 pm

So when the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen popped up today did you like the music playing or not?

Hal and I had a great time this afternoon making playlists for our respective blogs, but are torn on whether people like to have the music thrust upon them when they come to a blog or if people would prefer to push play if they choose to hear music to sail by. Afterall, there is a stop button to shut the music up if it is not to your liking at that particular time! Simply go to the sidebar and push stop, or select a different song by double-clicking on it. I've tossed quite a variety up for the first trial. All have the overarching theme of Sailing, of course, just from different genres!

So tell me -
1. Yes, keep the music on when the page comes up.
2. Let me start the music.
3. No, it's altogether too annoying.

You won't hurt my feelings either way, so tell me truthfully...

El Laguno del Espiritu Santo
Everglades Week
February 29, 2008, 6:00 am

El Laguno del Espiritu Santo

Not knowing what to do
with the map of South Florida,

impenetrable expanses of water and blades
that were not gold, not silver, not anything

valuable, those Spaniards dismissed it,
named it for the holy spirit, moved on.

I wade into high sunlit grasses. Order
stirs in the sawgrass prairie wind.

A wood stork sails its cross over me.
In the slough, the anhinga dives

over and over, then spreads its wings
to dry. Water is

the sacrament. A gator lies still,
the turtle in his teeth.


by Anne McCrary Sullivan, AIRIE poet, 2002

The Poetry Friday round-up is at Kelly Fineman's today.
Lots of Leap Day Poems...

Poetry Friday
The Pinelands
Everglades Week
February 28, 2008, 9:50 am

Shorter, quicker post today - we're off on a bit of a cat sitting adventure!


Palm Fibers


Everyone thinks of the Everglades as a River of Grass, miles and miles of gators, er, grass standing in water flowing slowly to the sea. While this is true, there are "islands" in this river, hummocks of soil where trees and other plants can take root and grow. The Pinelands is one such location.


Scottish Thistle


Other, exotic though equally beautiful, plants also grow here, and it made terrific farmland for early settlers and even earlier Indians.


Tree Snail


With the isolation that comes from being an island each hummock developed its own rare Tree Snail. Tree Snails are fairly large and very colorful. They hibernate (for lack of a better word right now) during the dry season by sealing themselves onto the bark of a tree.


Very Rare Tree Snail


They have become a species of Special Concern due to 2 reasons: Over collection by collectors who would gather a few from each hummock and then torch the island to drive up the rarity of their prize, and hurricanes.

And because that is a very depressing note to end a post on, why don't you go color a Liguus Snail over at Panther Habitat Coloring Book!

How do little kids turn out such great looking pictures on that??? I'm way too spastic for that! I guess I need to get in touch with my inner 3 year old...

ETA: Or 13 year old. Marianna sat right down and adjusted the dot of paint from Great Big Blob to Perfectly Daintly Dot and turned out a superb Tree Snail. Hmmph.

Nature Study
Gators: And A Report by Marianna
Everglades Week
February 27, 2008, 9:50 am


A telephoto lens is my new best friend.


You didn't think I'd actually get this close, did you?


Here's a gator.


There're two gators.


He's not hungry, is he?


What's he laughing at???

************************************



Perhaps I should have let Marianna write this post - she actually adores reptiles.

I don't know where she gets it from. Not my side of the family, that's for certain!


************************************



Here, I'll let her at this topic:


So do you know if this is an Alligator or a Crocodile? No? Read on!


To tell an Alligator from a Crocodile is very simple! An alligator is a crocodilian of the genus Alligator in the family Alligatoridae. The name alligator is another form of the Spanish el lagarto meaning the Lizzard, the name is what early Spanish explorers and settlers in Florida called the alligator. There are two species of living Alligators today: the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and the Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis). Here is the Scientific classification of the Alligator.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Alligatoridae
Genus: Alligator

Here is the Crocodile.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Crocodilia
Family: Crocodylidae
Genus: Crocodile



The one that most of us know is the shape of the snout. The Alligator has the "U" shaped like a shovel. The Crocodile has the "V" shaped snout. Each has it's own purpose. The "U" snout is very powerful and capable of handling large amouts of stress like trying to break a Turtle's shell. The "V" shape is not as strong but is still very powerful. The slimmer shape is more capable for catching a fish than a Turtle!


The Alligator is often thought to be more docile than the Crocodile. It is so in some species. In some cases though, it is not so. Some Alligators are more docile when put beside a Crocodile yes, but the Alligator can grow to be 14-15 feet long. That is larger than some Crocodiles, like the African dwarf crocodile which grows about 4-5 feet long. The biggest Crocodile is the Salt Water Crocodile 17-18 feet long but there are some old ones that grow past 20 feet long! So a general rule that Crocodiles are more aggressive can't be made.


The Alligator's teeth are also different than the Crocodile's teeth. The Alligator's snout is so big the top part covers the jaw. So the teeth on the jaw set in special grooves in the upper jaw so the upper teeth are all that's visable. The Crocodile's teeth are all able to be seen since the upper and lower jaw are the same size. The teeth interlock with each other when the mouth is closed. The nostrils of the Crocodile are slightly modified because of the large fourth tooth on the lower jaw and must have a large groove for the tooth. Another difference is that the Crocodile's tongue has functioning salt glands on it. This makes Crocodiles more adapted to life in saline water, including sea water in some species like the salt water Crocodile. It also suggests that Crocodiles have a more recent marine ancestry, the ability to migrate across wide bodies of salty water, and even live there for extended periods of time. That would definitely explain their current wide distribution across different continents.


If you look closely at this Alligator's jaw (very clear in the front snout) you can see little black dots. These are capable of detecting small pressure changes in water, and assist in locating and capturing prey. They were originally called ISOs (Integumentary Sense Organs) although recent research has renamed them DPRs (Dermal Pressure Receptors). The Alligators only have those on it's jaw while the Crocodiles have them all over their body. We don't know why the Alligator doesn't have them but it is very useful to tell which skin is which.

So now that you've read all this, you know that we only saw Alligators in the Everglades.



************************************



Ummm...yes. What Marianna said.

Further thoughts from Mom -

Regarding their ability to migrate across wide bodies of salty water: That would be why I'm not thrilled with you playing in the salt flats!!! Hello! They closed the runway down the other day because a croc (not a gator, my dear, but a potentially more aggressive crocodile) decided to sun itself on the lovely hot pavement beside the jets.



Oh, for the days when we'd look for these "cute" reptiles for our compost heap! They didn't want to eat anything but worms!

Nature Study
Soakin' Up the Sun
Everglades Week
February 26, 2008, 2:30 pm



Isn't this beautiful? At this point on the boardwalk through the Everglades I know I had my telephoto lens on the D40x which just may be my favorite lens of all time so far. Just one problem with it, I am addicted to macro shots and taking macro shots with a telephoto is in actuality, impossible. The camera won't do it. Taking upclose shots of a gorgeous anhinga's back from 3-5 feet away, however, is possible.



Anhingas, being the true Floridians they are, love to sunbathe after swimming.



You'll see them stretched out with their amazingly patterned wings held high simply soaking up those rejuvenating rays.



Rearranging a feather here or there as daintily as any South Beach socialite. But don't you dare try to overshadow them.



These birds are fully capable of throwing a hissy fit to rival anything that goes down on Lincoln Road.



This dull little cormorant had the audacity to think about stretching out a beach towel just a shade to close to that beautiful hussy.



"Take your earthy little self outta my sight!"



I think her feelings are hurt. Don't you?



Sometimes it's best to let sunbathing beauties lie.

Nature Study
Birds of the Everglades
Everglades Week
February 25, 2008, 1:40 pm

Having returned from the Everglades recently and since I'm simply dying to share my photos of the trip (So many good ones! Gotta love my D40x!) I have decided to declare this last week of February Everglades Week!

The focus (ha-ha!) will be on the photographs and first up is a lovely collection of various Birds of the Everglades.


Cormorant



Cormorant



Vulture and Wood Stork



Little Green Heron



Anhinga



Anhinga



Great White Heron



Great Blue Heron



What'd ya think?

Nature Study
Miss... ???
February 21, 2008, 9:01 pm

We are pleased to announce the addition of a new member to our family -

Chorus:
Driving in my car
driving far
I'm a movie star
Driving in my car
vroom vroom vroom
Driving in my car
driving far
I'm a movie star
Driving in my car
vroom vroom vroom

I've got my sunglasses on...

Chorus

I've got my scarf 'round my neck...
And I've got my sunglasses on...

Chorus

I've got my hat on my head...
And I've got my scarf 'round my neck...
And I've got my sunglasses on...

Chorus

I've got my poodle dog next to me...
I've got my hat on my head...
And I've got my scarf 'round my neck...
And I've got my sunglasses on...

Chorus

I've got the radio turned on...
I've got my poodle dog next to me...
I've got my hat on my head...
And I've got my scarf 'round my neck...
And I've got my sunglasses on...




You get the idea. It's one of those totally fun add-on songs. You can find it and many more at Songs for Teaching: using music to promote learning.

Now for the important part. What do we name our beautiful new car that was won on EBay on the night of a lunar eclipse that was overshadowed by rainy clouds? We've considered Storm (kinda boring), Eclipse (hippy, hippy car model already), and are fondest of Tempest so far. The Mel Fisher Museum is currently featuring this work of Shakespeare's and we've been contemplating reading it next...

Miss Tempest, our beautiful midnight blue car.

It has a nice ring to it but other suggestions are needed! And I really am curious, what do you call your vehicle? Our last Grand Am (the white one) was Miss Turbo, she was really a peppy gal and will be missed greatly.

The Poetry Friday Round-up is over at Big A liitle a today. Go. Enjoy.

Poetry Friday
Fishin'
A photo essay by Marianna
February 19, 2008, 9:52 pm
















Nature Study

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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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