Archive for February, 2016


It was a little chilly in Florida today, but a beautiful sunny day. I wanted to go for a bike ride; Tim wanted to hunt for shark teeth. We compromised and biked to the beach at Fort Clinch State Park which has the reputation as being a shark tooth haven.

We had not been on the beach for one minute when I heard, “I got one”. I mustered a smile and said “great”. A minute or two later I heard, “I got another”, quickly followed by “Bingo”. I stopped looking up. Not only I am pretty competitive, I’m also a poor loser. Or is it sore loser? I’m probably both.
I had employed every trick that seasoned and successful shark tooth hunters have told me about.
Low tide…Check

Search at water’s edge…Check

Walk so that my shadow is behind me…Check

Wear expensive new sunglasses…Check

Search without sunglasses…Check

Look for matte triangles of darkness; not glossy ones…Check

Dig a little bit into the sand as shark teeth are heavier than shells…Check

Still no teeth for me. As Tim yelled, “bingo” yet again, I told him he had to use a different exclamation the next time he found one.
Discouraged, I wandered off by myself and sat amongst a pile of washed up shells. I was thinking about giving up searching for shark teeth and decided I’d start looking for John Grisham instead. He has a home here right next to a beach access, so he shouldn’t be too hard to spot, right? And it’s much warmer here than in Charlottesville where he also has a home, so maybe he’s in town. I had it all planned.
Tim walked up to me, and seeing my long face, asked if I was ready to go. I said yes and as I was getting ready to tell him about my exciting new plan to search for John Grisham instead of shark teeth, I swiped my hand across the top layer of shells to my side. Wait! What did I spy? A curved sliver of fossilized darkness…could it be…wait…it was! A tooth! My biggest shark tooth find to date! WooHoo; this is fun! Who said anything about leaving?

Tim found four teeth in this goldmine.

We ended up being on the beach for about an hour. I found one more tooth along the water’s edge; Tim found a total of eight (with one eureka and three more bingos). We talked to a lady who usually finds 100 a day. No wonder I have such a hard time. If others weren’t so greedy…

Tim declared the tooth I found is the largest one any of us has ever found. I decided to change the rules of the family competition. Instead of He With The Most Teeth wins, I think it should be She With The Largest Tooth is the winner.
Sorry Johnny G., you’ll have to wait til another day to meet me. And if you’re lucky, I’ll have my big tooth with me.

               Can you spot my big tooth?

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I’m So Proud of My Cousin


imageBeau Palmer is my first cousin on my father’s side. He was born and raised in southern California; I am from Virginia. Although we met several times as children, we did not get to know each other until we were adults – when Tim and I moved to Southern California in the mid-198o’s. In my mind, Beau was a real California dude. He was a vegetarian, drove a VW bus, and referred to interstates as “the 5” and “the 10”. To add to the cool factor, he was also an opera singer. During our nine years in SoCal, we had many opportunities to hear Beau perform. It was always a treat.

During the next few decades, Beau traveled around the world singing as we moved across the country and then to Bulgaria where he visited us. In 2001 he got married and ‘retired’ from the opera to Montezuma, Georgia. He and has wife had four children who are now ten and nine, plus eight year old twins. Well, things don’t always work out as planned and his life took some unexpected turns. With shared custody of the children (who mainly reside with their mother about two hours away), Beau decided to go back to school to get his Master of Music at age 50. Now, nearly two years later, he is almost finished. I had the opportunity to attend his graduate recital earlier this week at Mercer University. I had not heard him sing in years, and was really looking forward to his recital. He did not disappoint. He sang a varied program – to excellent reviews I must add – in French and German. The last set consisted of three songs in English that he wrote – and composed the music – for his children. I’ve met his children…four bright, inquisitive, lively, creative, curious and rambunctious sweet kids. I could picture them as he sang all three songs. I have his permission to publish these lyrics. You probably had to be there to fully appreciate this southern gentleman’s approach to this song, but believe me, it was terrific. You can see for yourself on YouTube at
Fast forward to 2 mins and 15 secs to hear this song.

All that’s left for Beau are the comprehensive exams. As he has a 4.0 so far, I’m not worried about him.

Oh yeah…one more reason I’m proud of him. He recently gave up wheat (partly in solidarity with one of his sons who is gluten-intolerant) and as a result, has lost 50 pounds. Go, Beau!


From Songs For My Children…
When At Table
Dear children, there are just a few things you should know
Before out into the world you go,
I tell you all the time, and I know you’ll do fine,
But there are rules of etiquette for when you dine…

Get your elbows off the table
I am quite sure you are able
Do not shout, do not bounce
And put your feet in front of you
Do not belch, do not poot,
Eat your veggie and your fruit
And this would be so great
If you would eat over your plate.

Your shirt is not a napkin
Nor is it a towel or mop,
Gently lower yourself to the seat
For heaven’s sake don’t flop,
And please take my advice,
For it isn’t very nice
To make others shoot milk through their nose deliberately.

The world doesn’t need to hear
Each and every single thought that comes to mind,
Especially the ones that are not kind,
But where others fail you surely must not
If you haven’t anything nice to say
Don’t say anything at all.

Keep your lips closed while you’re chewing
Keep the food inside your face
Keep the chair on all four legs
Because that is its proper place
And please do not pick your nose
For it is very, very rude,
And for the love of God my child,
It is not food.

Do not carve in the table
with the tip of your steak knife,
I tell you this quite frankly
For I value your life.
Oh, my dear children, how glorious,
if only you’d obey!
Then we’d all live to see another day!
I really mean it!
We’d all live to see another day!

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A little history on shark teeth…

Sharks like warm and shallow water, and there’s a lot of that in Florida. Also, ten million years ago, Florida was submerged under water teeming with sharks. As the water subsided, many species of sharks died out.

Sharks can lose between 20,000-25,000 teeth over their lifetime. They are constantly losing teeth and growing new ones. When a tooth falls out, it gets covered in sediment which protects it. Then, permineralization replaces the inside of cells with mineral crystals. The silica, calcites, etc. in the minerals determine the color. The black teeth are about 10,000 years old. Those are primarily the ones we find, and a lot of them are from prehistoric sharks. That continues to amaze me!

Both last year and this year are supposed to be good “hunting ” years as there is off-shore dredging going on. I’ve read differing accounts on the dredging…one us that they do it to deepen the channel in the St. Mary’s River for the submarines going to and from Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base. Another is that it’s done to replenish sand on the beach. I like to think it’s done for the first reason and the beach benefits from it. The work is done by the Army Corp of Engineers and costs millions of dollars. It might be worth it if I could find a few more teeth!

Ashley’s veteran shark tooth finding friend texted her a photo of six teeth she found this morning. I asked Ashley to find out where she found them and her friend replied, “Just off Reefer Street”. I asked Tim to Google Reefer Street. He did, but didn’t get any results. Finally it dawned on us that if you have to ask where Reefer Street is, perhaps you don’t belong there.

Knowing that Ashley was home with a sick child, Tim and I took off on an expedition without telling her. Well, it didn’t pay off as we didn’t find a single tooth. I’m not telling her that either. She might say we got what we deserved.

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At least that’s how I would have described my day about 2:00. Whiney grand kids, things not going the  way I wanted…yes, I’m a brat.

We’re in north Florida having an extended vacation mainly to spend time with our daughter, son-in-law, and precious two older grandsons. Today we picked Liam, the younger of the two, up from school. He wasn’t too happy that it was us there and not his Mom, but he made the best of it. We brought him home and had fun until his Mom got home; things went downhill from there. He was whining, so Tim and I left to get Jackson from school. He was happy to see us, but his mood quickly changed when we told him of our plans to go shark tooth hunting at the beach. More whining. “The beach? It’s so boring”!

Despite complaints, we went to the beach anyway. I was excited and very optimistic that I would increase my shark tooth haul from a total of two teeth last year. (We have a friendly family competition, and I’m the big loser.) I thought I had a new secret weapon. My optimism quickly evaporated as Ashley spotted a tooth right off and then Tim did, too. Nothing for me. My secret weapon – expensive new prescription bifocal polarized sunglasses – didn’t help.  To add insult to injury, a random cute guy walked past and gave a tooth he had found to Ashley – who was right next to me. She said, “oh thank you. I’m going to give it to my Mom; she never finds any.” At this point I’m thinking “I hate this family activity” in the voice of a six year old. My mood change from good to bratty. The boys’ moods changed, too…from bad to good as they took their shirts off to run through the cold waves.

After an hour or so, we started thinking about going home. Then a friend of Ashley’s and her daughter appeared. Shannon, the Mom, a veteran shark tooth hunter, excitedly told us that she found 20 teeth yesterday, and ten this morning. Her daughter was excited Jackson and Liam were there to play with; how could we leave now?  The kids played while the adults bent over, scouring the sand for those magical little triangles of darkness. I found one! A brown one! No way am I leaving now! Dinner can wait. And then another – my tiniest find ever! Wait…what! Another one?! In less than 30 minutes I surpassed my total from last year. I like this activity!

Cathy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? No way!


Finding a tooth is like finding a needle in a haystack. Don’t tell me if you see one in this photo.

image image



Tim’s find included a Susan B. Anthony coin.




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