Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rewriting The News Dear Miss Mermaid Style

Perhaps the sign hanger shouldn't have alcoholic beverages either. 

Sometimes I want to rewrite the boring news headlines.  Such as:

Anderson Independent Version:

Trooper says amputee had cocaine fitted in prosthetic leg
By Mike Ellis 
Anderson Independent Mail 

My Version:
Drug Dealer Doesn't Have A Leg To Stand On

Associated Press Version

Post office closings would make long hikes harder 
(An article about potential closings of rural post offices along the Appalachian trail where hikers often pick up their pre-mailed food supplies)

My Version
Hikers Moan, Stomachs Groan

Associates Press Version

My Version
2 Million Coke Didacticts

Now a bit of fun with my pictures...

Blue Ox Plows Nicely

 Maintenance employee claims work-order read "Deliver picnic table to lake" 

Cat burglar surrenders to police. 

Cat burglar  caught with missing TV. 
Claims he only "borrowed" it to watch Animal Planet. 

Sorry, got to run now folks, my neighbors are hosting a drop-in and I don't want to be late for my plane.

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Signs of Life

Some more of my photographs of SIGNS OF LIFE...

Speeding a problem on Daytona Beach?  Just put a few cops in "plain clothes" to slow down the traffic. 

I believe there is such a thing as too many signs. Especially when they are  negative signs. This bucolic scene in a campground was marred by these excessive signs. 
In case you are wondering what all those signs say, the first one reads:
"REGISTERED GUESTS ONLY".  This was rather redundant.  The pond was in the very back of the campground.  You had to enter through a gate at the distant front driving over numerous speed bumps down narrow one way roads, creeping past the office, to even reach this pond. I hardly think any "unregistered" guests would make it this far undetected. 

"FISHING $1.50 PER POUND WEIGH UP ON THE PORCH".  From the size of the pond, one wonders just how big the fish can get. This campground was rather pricey, out of my usual budget. However, I was dead tired, and it was basically the only place around.  The porch at the office was a long hike away. 

Times must be really tough if the owners have to charge extra for fish caught in such a small pond. 

"CHILDREN MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT".  How many children go camping in an RV park without an adult?  I suppose it's a safety sign for our litigious society. Ditto for "NO SWIMMING".  

Actually, I was close enough to Florida, that if you really don't want someone to swim in your pond simply put up a sign "DON'T FEED THE ALLIGATORS".  That typically repels children, swimmers and fishermen. 

These signs below, frankly puzzled me, but they were found on a 4 lane highway in Ohio. 

I suppose this old country home has seen its share of changes in the name of progress. I wanted a cool picture of it, but it is marred by numerous electric lines and signs. Apparently, sign installers don't seem to care if their sign posts are straight or not. 

This is a closeup of the above signs. I love the bewildering compass choices and the redundant highway numbers. 

What's so special about a crooked handicapped parking sign?  When you look at the big curb below, you wonder how anyone could manage to knock this sign post askew. 

However, that handicapped sign was located in the "truck only" parking lot (below). 

When was the last time you saw an 18 wheeler with handicapped tags?  

How can someone be healthy enough to manage a 40 ton truck but handicapped enough to require special parking?  

I was thinking that maybe the sign was for a handicapped mega RV, but the sign to the far right reads "TRUCK PARKING ONLY".  By the way, it is strongly recommended that RV'ers and campers never ever use designated truck parking lots unless it is a horrific emergency.

There is some sound reasoning behind this ban. First of all, an RV is not a truck. Big trucks are for commercial use, RV's are for personal use.  Sounds like snobbery, as if your RV isn't big enough or impressive enough to park in the trucker's parking lots. But actually, the truckers are bound by numerous laws including required rest times per 24 hours. RV and camper drivers are not bound by this law at all. 

Truckers know where the big rig parking lots are, they often time themselves down to the last minute before they stop for their required rest period. They can get pretty testy if they show up to park and rest, per the law restrictions placed upon them and the truck-only parking lanes are full of RV's and campers. So if you travel by RV, be a Good Samaritan, do not park in the truck-only parking lanes at all. 

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lost, Frazzled and Bedazzled

Some days my mind is all a frazzled and bedazzled. 

I took all these pictures, some from when I lived in the Caribbean and some while traveling getting lost  in my wheel estate motorhome. 

 I was driving my motorhome in the middle of nowhere, when I came upon these bewildering signs. I wish I had a better shot of them. But if you look closely, there are 13 signs in this picture. There was a long line of traffic behind me, just as confused, or I would have stopped to figure out which way to go. (And taken a better picture!)

And people wonder how I get lost so often. 
 I was on Virgin Gorda in the Virgin Islands, waiting on the ferry, searching for a public restroom when I found this one. Problem though, it was locked up behind a fence with a peculiar sign on it:  

Um...what corner???

This grocery store had an electrician with a sense a humor. 
Too many signs get me confused when I am driving my motorhome on narrow streets with bewildering signs.

And you wonder how I get lost so often...

On Joe's Hill in the Virgin Islands, was the only seatbelt sign in the entire island at that time. 

Truth be told, Joe's Hill is actually much steeper than the truck picture indicates. Just ask anybody who has lived through a drive up or down that road.

And it's curvey too. 
By golly, I finally found the national park!  

 Don't be littering here (but it's OK to bang nails and signs into the trees.)

This scene has an unfolding story.
First off the owner of this seaside bar was extremely proud when he decided to install a public restroom for his guests. 
That is, his female guests. (Men, take a hike!)
The sign painter was supposed to paint "HERS ONLY" but he forgot what he was painting and put "HENS ONLY".  
Just in case that was unclear, he added "GIRLS ONLY".
And just in case, if the women were really confused, another sign was added on the left:

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Homemade Hummus Recipe

Note: All links are underlined or shown in a different color such as blue. 
Homemade Hummus Garnished with Dried Parsley
Homemade Hummus is the absolute best. You can make your own for a fraction of the cost of the store bought hummus. Best of all, when you make your own, there are no hidden chemicals, sugars or preservatives. I prefer organic natural ingredients whenever possible. 

This recipe only takes 2 days to make, but believe me it's a lot less trouble than elephant dip, which takes a whole month just to chop up the elephant.

The secret is to start with dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas). You can use the canned beans, but there is a huge difference in taste. If you do decide to use canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse before adding to the recipe.  

Basically this  Hummus recipe is only 5 minutes of work and 48 hours of thumb twiddling.  

It's much speedier than elephant dip which takes all week, just to cook. 

Yields about 3 Cups

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
2 bay leafs
4 cups water

3 teaspoons cumin
5 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 big juicy lemon squeezed)
3 tablespoons Tahini (A thick paste made from ground sesame seeds)
3 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos (Natural Soy Sauce Alternative)

Wash and rinse dried beans thoroughly in cool water. In a crockpot, combine beans, water and bay leaves. Cook on low for about 24 hours, until the beans are super soft. Let cool or rinse in cold water in  a colander to speed up cooling. Drain beans, discard bay leaves.

In a food processor or food chopper, combine beans with the remaining ingredients. Process until the beans are pureed to the consistency of soft mashed potatoes or peanut butter.

For the best flavor, store in a covered container refrigerated for at least 24 hours before serving. This allows the flavors to commingle and fully marry. 

Hummus keeps about 2 weeks refrigerated.

On the other hand, elephant dip takes 5 days to puree. 

I use a 1.5 Quart Crockpot. It's the perfect size for cooking 1 cup of dried beans. Most beans will cook on low in 8-12 hours, but garbanzo's are especially hard and take longer. When cooking dried beans in a crockpot, there is no need to presoak the beans.  If your crockpot is larger, you can always do 2 cups of dried beans, then use half in the Hummus Recipe and half for something else.  

Garbanzo beans make a tasty ingredient in salads.  To use in salads, after cooking, drain the beans, rinse lightly with cold water, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  Toss on salads as desired. Sometimes I toss my salad beans with lemon juice before storing. 

I prefer to use organic beans and spices, if you can't find them at your grocery store, Amazon delivers numerous organic items, often with free shipping. 

I use this small two-speed 3 cup Black and Decker  food chopper to make my Hummus. For my mini-motorhome, this chopper is just perfect. It only takes up 5 inches in diameter. If you have a tiny kitchen, you know how counter space is a premium.   The nonskid bottom pops off and snaps tightly on the top as a lid. This makes it very easy to store in two sections in a cabinet or drawer.

While you can toss it in the dishwasher to clean, I prefer to add a cup of water with a squirt of dish soap, then whir the processor for a few seconds. This gets the blades and bowl super clean, just rinse in hot water and dry.

My Black and Decker  food chopper was a treasured gift from an angel. I use it for numerous recipes plus chopping or mincing vegetables and herbs. 

It can also process a cup of liquid, making it ideal for homemade dressings or smoothies.  

Because the chopper is small, I divide my Hummus ingredients in  half, then make it in 2 batches. If your chopper is smaller you may need to make it in 3-4 batches. If you have a full-sized food processor, you can puree it all at once. 

You can not fill a food chopper to the top, basically you fill it half full, then process. So a 3 cup chopper will only process about 1.5 cups of food, at a time. 

Hummus makes a great hearty dip or spread. I prefer to serve mine with a decorative pate knife for spreading rather than dipping. 

Traditionally Hummus is served with toasted pita points and kalamata olives. 

Hummus makes a great spread on crackers but for a healthier treat, use slices of raw vegetables such as cucumber, zucchini and summer squash in place of crackers. 

For a hearty salad you can eat like a sandwich, spread hummus on a tortilla or wrap. Top with finely chopped salad ingredients, roll up and devour.

Garbanzo beans are high in fiber. One cup of garbanzo beans provide 25-50% of your daily protein and iron requirements. They are a remarkable food in terms of their antioxidant composition. While containing small but valuable amounts of conventional antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C,  E, and beta-carotene, garbanzo beans also contain more concentrated supplies of antioxidant phytonutrients. 

Garbanzo beans are a health bonanza for diabetics. Studies in which participants consumed as little as 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans per day, still witnessed better blood sugar control in as little as one week.

This book compliments the material on the website with innovative new ways to maximize the nutritional value of the world's healthiest foods.  

Nutrient Analysis of Garbanzo Beans
What's New and Beneficial about Garbanzo Beans

Bon Apetite!

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wiff My Wittle Paws

My pet parent is busy, so I am writing today's column wiff my wittle paws. Bear with me, my typing isn't paw-fect. 

Speaking of bears, my favorite teddy bear is blue.  Since it was raining today, I decided to be a good little doggy and play  with my toys while my pet parent was working. The green barbell is a squeaky toy and I do so like to play tunes on it. If I squeeze it repeatedly in different places, it puts out different notes. 

I am sure my pet parent enjoys hearing me play tunes for her with my barbell while she works. 

I was playing toss with my new brightly colored football, but then I got curious. What's that thing made of?  So I ripped open the ball, then pulled out all the innards. Hmm, I guess it's just made of fluffy stuffing. 

The funny thing is now, my football is rather deflated. I bet my pet parent will be thrilled to see what that football was made of.

Now she  is giving me strange looks. I have no idea why. She started a game of tug of war with the deflated football, but I won, as usual. 

Ut oh!  Here comes that little square box she likes. Snap!  Flash!  I have no idea what that little box is for. Some kind of toy that makes her happy I guess. 

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grow Up

Grow up?  

We're supposed to grow up? 

I don't think I got that memo...

What the heck...

Life is Short.   Make fun of it! 

A friend once said to me "You always have lots of projects going on...You waste your time wisely." 

I never think of myself as having a lot of projects going on until I look at my "To Do" list, which is overwhelming. If I posted my "To Do" list here, it would overwhelm you too.  Some days it frightens me.  It's on my computer, because the endless paperwork around here is driving me batty. It's somewhat organized and ultra depressing at times. 

I decided to write down my typical daily activities:

  • Wake up alive
  • Do workamping duties (that pays the rent and some utilities)
  • Patch up body (self-doctoring)
  • Write thank-you's (So much to be thankful for!)
  • Write blog
  • Write articles (freelance)
  • Write stories/chapters (future book)
  • Write/Photograph recipes (future cookbook)
  • Promote book, designs, sponsors etc. (not very good at this)
  • Read/Research for current/future projects (mind boggling)
  • Help someone (requests come in and I try to help out, or I run into a situation and I try to be a Good Samaritan)
  • Shoot Photographs
  • Look for freelance paying work, do work and pray they pay (some don't)
  • Repair/Upgrade Old RV (in the past this has been old boat, old jeep, old house, old cabin, old me... something is always falling apart, I try to fix all I can without outside expense, so repairs take a loooooooong time while I study or try to figure something out)
  • Exercise/Walk/Stretch/Dance
  • Cook/Make/Eat healthy foods to get well (takes longer than you think)
  • Feed friends if they stop by (rarely, but uber fun!)
  • Meditate to get well
  • Do alternative treatments
  • Organize lifestyle
  • Make lists/Label Stuff (helps my battered brain get better)
  • Clean up mess (a busy life is really messy!)
  • Train puppy
  • Play with puppy
  • Walk puppy
  • Pray Often
  • Look for a miracle
  • Smile
  • Be Happy
  • Battle the Bank (I owe them for a ton of medical mess)
  • Balance the erratic budget (nearly impossible, but I make it happen more or less)
  • Answer emails
  • Paper chase (too much paperwork weighing down my motorhome!)
  • For fun, I mostly chit chat with a friend on the phone or occasionally in person, but not daily, lots of solitude here, sometimes I go all week without talking on the phone 

And people wonder why I don't have a TV...  When would I ever watch it?  

I must admit, I fall into bed pretty exhausted.  I never get enough done, but one day I hope to feel like I do.   

I have some movies I sometimes play on an old failing ancient laptop computer in bed at night. It takes me 3-6 nights to complete a 90 minute movie, because I can't stay awake. The laptop turns itself off and sleeps in the corner of the bed.  Puppy sleeps in other corner, my feet and head take up the two remaining corners, at an angle. 

I also sleep with 7 pillows to ease my aches and pains.  

My version of a padded cell!

I miss traveling. I rarely get to go anywhere lately, but sometimes a friend takes me to the stores for food and supplies, or I bust up camp and drive the motorhome there.  Weeks go by with me only traveling by foot in the immediate area, doing my workamping duties.

LIFE IS GOOD!  All we really need is food, shelter, companionship, clothing,  (humans aren't built very well to run around au naturale like wild life).  

But grow up?  I'm supposed to grow up?

I don't know when I can make time for that...

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Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Technical Difficulties, Blog on the Way

Blogger ate my blog post.  

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Friday, July 22, 2011


 I am workamping at a recreation area on Hartwell Lake located on the Georgia and South Carolina border. A maintenance crew comes around once a day to haul garbage and tidy up the park. 

Harley dog and I were out walking when the crew asked me  what in the heck happened here yesterday?  We were surveying the ten thousand pieces of destroyed tree scattered around the parking lot and road. 

Harley was looking as innocent as can be. So I said "I swear, we didn't make this mess!"

I told them I thought we were hit by a mini-tornado. They said they hadn't seen anything like this at the numerous other stops they make on the lake.

Indeed I found out from a park ranger that my camp site used to be rather shady, then a storm hit, taking out the big oaks. It is still surrounded by tall trees, but none with the big overhanging branches like shady oaks provide. 

Bless those confounded squirrels. Someone has wildly esimated that 3 million trees a year are planted by squirrels that forget where they hide their nuts. I find that hard to believe. But I hope it's true!

Mini-tornados must be drawn to this area for some mysterious reason. I just read up on dust devils, but they don't happen in the rain. Maybe we had a dust devil then the rain hit. Hard to say. 

Then I discovered a new term; Gustnado or Gustinado. I prefer Gustinado, as that is fun to say. I also think I should rename Harley to Gustinado.  That might that describe him better than his nickname of "Monkey-On-A-String".

A gustinado might be exactly what hit this area.  The National Weather Service gives this definition:

(or Gustinado) - A gustnado is a small, whirlwind which forms as an eddy in thunderstorm outflows. They do not connect with any cloud-base rotation and are not tornadoes. Since their origin is associated with cumuliform clouds, gustnadoes will be classified as Thunderstorm Wind events. Like dust devils, some stronger gustnadoes can cause damage.

So that was one strong gustinado that scattered the mess in the parking lot for sure. No pictures yet, I am having technical difficulties, but I dug these two pics out of my archives. 

Last July I was at this bucolic swim lake in Coolville, Ohio

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Magic Whats

Drink plenty of liquids during the heat waves.  I went through about 3 gallons of iced green tea in 2 days. I think there is a hole in my foot. It just all drains out when I am not looking. 

We went from cool weather to heat wave to  mini-tornado to cool weather again. 

At least I am guessing it was a microburst or mini-tornado. It looks like a tree exploded somewhere, but I can't find the tree, just ten thousand pieces of greenery decorating the boat ramp parking lot. A good bit of it was a pine tree complete with green rather than brown pine cones still attached. 

Luckily my laundry survived on the clothes line, but it's soaking wet now. It wasn't quite dry, then this deluge hit with no notice, soaking it all. Ah that rain fresh smell.  Hopefully it will dry overnight.  

The 13 and 17 year cicadas are in full force. They play a symphony each night as they try to woo their potential lovers. They are aptly called Magicicada.The name sounds more like a happy drug than  animalia. 

For the first 13 or 17 years of their life, they live underground in total silence without even moving around. One day they emerge by the thousands.  Hours later they become rowdy flying adults. They are the loudest insects known on earth. 

Their mating and dating is rather short lived, as two months later, they simply drop dead. I find them all over the yard and patio. But they leave behind a legacy of eggs.  These eggs will hatch to become a new underground generation, living in complete secrecy, silent and immobile until it's time for them to spring forth loudly crooning for a mate 13 or 17 years later. 

I have no idea what determines if they emerge in 13 or 17 years. 

Every night they play a loud raucous chorus. I love the sound. 

Recently I had a visitor for a few days who claimed to have never heard these in their entire life. 

The heat wave left with the storm today. I have my windows open but I am using artificial wind because I am so used to the constant trade winds of the Caribbean, it's hard for me to get used to non-wind. 

But the winds today, sent this bird's nest flying.  It landed pretty as you please, right on my patio with a near silent whoosh. What's even funnier, some of my long hair appears to be part of the nest's building materials. 
I'm going to look pretty strange bald headed. I have a big lumpy head. I so love to wear large brimmed summer hats, but finding one big enough for my head is always a problem. 

My DNA was donated to nature. How cool is that. 

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

118 Minutes and 90 Cents

Just to let you know I woke up alive. I've been terribly weak, but I am sure it's just temporary. Matter of fact, today I was beginning to feel more frisky, so I decided to tackle lots of work. 

I am trying to learn newfangled stuff. Heaven help me!  

I think of the infamous Dolly Parton quote
"If there is a heaven, I hope to hell I'm going there!"
I had a package to mail. So, today I tried to print postage with a shipping label, pay for it with my credit card  at

It took me 118 minutes, 5 emails, and 2 phone calls to complete the transaction. Of course part of that time was spent cajoling the printer to grudgingly accept my loaded paper.  Remember tractor feed paper printers? They loaded and printed in a snap. My printer requires constant hand holding, coaxing, magic wand waving, numerous button pushings for settings plus a few choice curse words for it  to finally haltingly spit out the desired label.   

Are computers really saving us time?

In that amount of time, I could have driven to the post office, stood in line, paid the clerk, mailed the package, come back home and still had enough time leftover to take a shower, make lunch,  and enjoy a siesta.  I know because I had already been to the post office to mail off packages. But when I got home, I had an email notice, to mail off another one. So I decided to utilize the computer. In the end, I did finally end up with a barcoded prepaid preaddressed label. (That's a mouth full to say!)

Of course I had to use my scissors to trim the label, then Scotch tape to affix it to the package. 

It used to be I could just hand the package to my secretary.  In about 3 minutes time, she would weigh the package, address it by hand, look up the postage fee, stick a bunch of stamps on it, then set it out for the mail carrier to pickup. 

That was back in the good old days, when folks like me not only had a secretary, but had a private office , with real walls, doors and windows.  

Now they issue you a computer and a cubicle. 

If your're lucky. 

Some folks work elbow to elbow at workstations with no cubicle at all. I think I would slit my throat if I had to do that. (But I understand, you can only slit your throat on your coffee I mean comfort break, not on corporate time.)

Crime has been bad around here lately. 

Someone stole the red flag off my street mail box. Is scrap metal fetching a princely sum these days?  

Just how many mailbox flags do you have to steal and resell to make a living wage?  

The mailbox doesn't belong to me. It came with the workamping lot. It is a rather large heavy metal box on a thick wooden post. I so hate to bother the ranger with such trivial stuff as reporting my red flag was stolen. 

So I made a new red mailbox flag  out of white flimsy cardboard, then colored it with a red magic marker. I taped it to the side of the mailbox in the up position in hopes the mail carrier will see it tomorrow.  (I sure hope she is impressed with my crafty work!)  Once she picks up the package, I plan to remove the flag (but I shall save it for reuse.)

At the USPS.Com I was able to log back in after fighting with the internet browser for 10 minutes, then switching to another browser (and battle) so I could request a pickup at my location. This is so the mail carrier will know I have a package to mail. The instructions online finished with something like "Place package in mailbox, if it will fit, raise red flag for the mail carrier."

Isn't technology fun? 

Growing up, I wrote lots of letters and postcards. Sometimes I ran out of stamps. I would put the letters in the mailbox on the street, with a stack of coins.  The mailman (we called them mailmen rather than mail carriers) would pick up our letters, take the change, then affix stamps on the letters for me. If I didn't have exact change, he would leave the change  due back,  in the mailbox. 

I so wanted to just stick the package and $5 in the mailbox and let the mail carrier deal with it. But those days are just a distant memory. Long ago and far away, when life was simpler. 

Harley enjoyed the walk to and from the mailbox. He lifted his leg in salute, watering the weeds and rocks around the post holding up the mailbox.  

Oh, and the BIG news. I found out I saved 90 cents by doing my own thing at over going to the post office. I guess I should be thrilled at my clever thriftiness. 

That and the dime I found while out walking, make a whole dollar. For one dollar, I can buy Harley 3 foam footballs. Ain't life grand. 

Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid