Catfish, Honey

June 25 was declared National Catfish Day (for farm-raised catfish) by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Farm-raised catfish doesn’t fish well by us, coming from Louisiana, near Lac Des Allemands and Spahr’s Restaurant on Highway 90, in the heart of the Catfish Capital of the Universe, so decreed by Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards in 1975. Where else can you nosh on some of the sweetest catfish you will ever taste other than in a converted gas station that overlooks a picturesque bayou filled with alligators. Des Allemands, LA is the place and home of an annual Catfish Festival to go along with their “out of this world” catfish title.

A St. Cloud, Florida restaurant gives wild catfish a very good try, no farm-raised catfish here either. Their catfish are imported from Lake Okeechobee and other local bodies of water. The restaurant, like Spahr’s is a throwback to another era, but they boast a long list of famous people who have dined there. Our names did not make the list.

We were in the area to purchase local honey from 3Beez Honey Farm, from their small storefront off Grape Avenue in St. Cloud. 3Beez, in oBeeur opinion, has the purest, best tasting honey in the area.

On the way home after the honey buy, we stopped at the St. Cloud restaurant for lunch. Catfish entrees were half price in honor of National Catfish Day. We hit a small jackpot with the size of the restaurant’s abundant portions, bringing half a meal home to our refrigerator.

We reminisced about dear friends now living in Georgia who love this restaurant.

Pass the catfish, honey. It’s been a good day.

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Just Enough

Just Enough

Your heart melts, looking into her beautiful green eyes watching her lift each of three young friends to the table to choose a donated danish, cinnamon roll or chocolate chip cookie. She is nine years old, but acts more responsible than some adults. She steers another child to the front of the line, “She’s new. She doesn’t know what to do,” she says. Nine people are in her family. We give her a loaf of raisin bread dusted with powdered sugar to make French Toast. Walking away, she is smiling. Your heart melts a second time.

Today, there was just enough bread and pastries for everyone. A woman, a regular, was missing. We wonder where she is. Has she moved?

“You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, Common English Bible)

You are the Light

You are the Light

A green-eyed child taking care to see that other children get a sweet treat on a hot Florida evening is a light in a dark world. Her light shines in spite of the darkness of poverty around her. Just enough good things shut out darkness.

Do You Know Patsy Ann?

Do You Know Patsy Ann?

When you live in a tourist town, expect company. How sweet it is when family members visit. The theme of a recent issue of Alive Now magazine was Hospitality, our hospitality to God. How are we extending His hospitality to others?

We get to pick up family from the airport or pick them up at their hotels, and have lunch or dinner with them at theme parks or local restaurants. We get to put hospitality into practice with our family, guests and strangers we may meet. The story of Patsy Ann has been on my mind, maybe because a friend is traveling on her second trip to Alaska in a few weeks. Patsy Ann left a deep impression on me when I first saw her statue in 2002.

Official Greeter of Juneau

Official Greeter of Juneau

*”I think about the story of an English Bull Terrier born in 1929 whose name was Patsy Ann.  She lived in Juneau, Alaska.  Patsy Ann was known for enthusiastically greeting every ship that docked in Juneau.  In 1934, she was named “official greeter of Juneau” by the town’s mayor.  Born deaf, and intended to be a gift from a father for his two daughters, Patsy Ann chose to make her home along the Juneau wharves and at the longshoreman’s hall.  Though unable to hear, it was reported that she could sense a ship’s whistle a half-mile away and would run to the wharf to greet passengers.  On the 50th anniversary of her death, a statue of her was dedicated by The Friends of Patsy Ann organization.  The statue sits with Patsy Ann facing the waters of the channel where she greeted Juneau’s visitors.  The organization bearing her name raises scholarship funds to promote ‘understanding, respect, kindness and compassion.’  Those words sound like love to me.  Patsy Ann knew her passion and lived it despite being deaf.  I imagine what she looked like, her wagging tail and big eyes smiling, greeting the passengers disembarking from a ship… One could say that Patsy Ann flourished in her job as official greeter.  Today, all that remains of the stray dog named Patsy Ann is a bronze statue and a plaque summarizing her story…”

I like to think of myself as an official greeter in the name of Christ, at an airport, in a grocery store, or at a turnstile to enter a theme park. I strive to exude the enthusiasm of Patsy Ann, to promote understanding, respect,  kindness and compassion. I am grateful for family and friends who have extended amazing love and warm hospitality during their visits.

“…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)

To see more of the story of Patsy Ann, click here.

*Excerpt first published November 25, 2011 by St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

 

Marching Orders

“What time will you be home? I would like to leave right away to avoid school traffic.” Taking a brief trip to Vero Beach, I received my “marching orders” on Sunday.

What time will you be home Tuesday? He’s ready for the hustle to accomplish his mission, finding nesting turtles. My Tuesday mornings start in a Centering Prayer Group made up of amazing men and women who s-l-o-w down to listen for God’s voice.

Inside I chuckle. He is on a mission to discover nesting turtle sites. I’m the laid back observer, taking it all in, seeking the Spiritual signs around the Atlantic Ocean waters, in the wind and on the sand.

Part of his planned itinerary, “We’ll go to Ocean Grill for dinner Tuesday night.” Okay. Centering Prayer is a disciplined practice that encourages “Letting Go” of the chatter, noise, sometimes chaos that impedes our ability to hear God. To quote Thomas Keating, “God’s first language is silence.”

I love it. I’ll be in my own space, working with whatever comes along, searching for nesting turtles. He’s on a mission. I will be open to where the Spirit leads.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10, NIV)

Above one of the doors at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Orlando, FL

Above one of the doors at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Orlando, FL

 

Buy Local

Buy Local

A trip to Port Canaveral last Friday included lunch at a restaurant featuring fresh Florida fish. Both of us scarfed down the delicious Cobia (lemon fish) sandwich on a pretzel roll. Locally caught, very fresh fish. The trip’s purpose was to scout out my husband’s planned fishing trip on Wednesday.

A fresh fish market at Port Canaveral

A fresh fish market at Port Canaveral

Buy Local.  Question your Supplier

Buy Local. Question your Supplier

A few days after our Port Canaveral trip, I stopped at a specialty market to purchase fish for dinner. I purchased tuna imported from Indonesia. I avoid farmed fish, salmon, talipia (aka Frankenfish), catfish, and any other farm raised fish which drives my husband slightly crazy. The store was offering a deep discount for “fresh frozen” wild salmon though by 1:30 in the afternoon, they were sold out. I asked for a rain check for the “fresh frozen WILD King Salmon.”

Most intriguing was a sign on avocados at the store. “Fresh from Mexico” it read. Living in Florida, I wonder why grocers don’t offer more “Fresh from Florida” avocados?

Fresh from Mexico??

Fresh from Mexico??

Perhaps Florida avocados are being flown across deep waters to international destinations. I succumbed, buying two “organic fresh from Mexico” avocados because the price was right and an avocado’s skin is tough enough to keep out pesticides, plus, you don’t eat its skin.

I am thankful for country of origination labeling however, I am an advocate for local produce and fish. While living in Louisiana, we often purchased fresh catfish from the “Des Allemands Outlaw Katfish Company,” at Lac Des Allemands, Louisiana. It was a well worth a drive for fresh catfish from the waters of the bayou.

What are your thoughts and preferences for local produce? For fish? Do you have a local grocer of preference you would like to share?

Have You Written a Thank You Note to God Today?

 What Will You Thank God for Today?

Our great-nephew arrives Tuesday to spend part of his senior year Spring Break with us. He is a Disney “zealot” whose life goal is to work for Disney. Of course he wants to visit the parks. My husband’s ticket allotment allows three guests to enter the parks. What were we to do? We weren’t going to waste a three guest admission for our beloved nephew. He understood.

“People say they have tickets they haven’t used. I’ll check around. No one wanted to give up tickets because of block out dates,” my husband said. There is lots going on in the parks these days.

Working parking at ESPN Wide World of Sports during Atlanta Braves Spring Training one day, a woman had locked her keys and cell phone in her car.  My husband stayed with her in the empty parking lot. The locksmith company had come once, couldn’t find her and had left. My husband contacted the company, leaving his cell phone number, waiting with the woman till the locksmith arrived.

My husband impressed the woman with his care. At the time, he didn’t know that she was a fellow cast member. She asked, “Is there something I can do for you?” He told her that he needed two park admission tickets, asking her if she might know of someone who may have tickets they wouldn’t be using. Three days later, the woman told my husband that she has more tickets than she can use, handing him two e-tickets for park entry.

In the meantime, our great-nephew contacted us, telling us that Grace (imagine that name) would be visiting her grandparents during Spring Break. He could join her family to visit the parks. We met Grace when we brought her to her grandparents from the airport during last year’s Christmas Break.

One of our thank you notes to God is, “Thank you for Grace. Thank you for the generous woman who gave us two admission tickets for our great-nephew to enjoy during his Spring Break.”

What will you write in a Thank You Note to God? 

 

Dining Around

Dining Around

Our route would take us on a few of Florida’s less traveled highways. The plan to stop at a Starbuck’s en route never materialized. Instead, plan B took us to a breakfast cafe in a tiny town’s historic district. I was unsettled about the looks of the place before I opened the car door. No, I don’t think I want any coffee as I watched my husband pour something white into his coffee that came  from a foot-tall plastic blue bottle straight from a wholesale store’s shelves.

Checking in to the resort, the desk assistant’s attitude was a trite unfriendly. I whispered to my husband, “We’re not at Disney World® anymore.” Our room wasn’t available. We headed to lunch over roadways packed full of tourists like us. There was a long waiting list for a table at Gramma Dot’s Seaside Saloon. My husband remarked that he didn’t think there was a person under 60 years old in the restaurant besides the staff. The grouper sandwich was worth the wait. We split a slice of homemade key lime pie.

Back at the resort, we checked into a spacious room, heading immediately for the screened private balcony. A clear sky and the sun’s rays lent a warmth to our spot 12 floors above a marina.

That evening, we dined at the resort’s poolside restaurant. The waiter brought my husband’s white wine in a giant sized plastic communion-looking cup. My husband waited for a clean wine glass, telling me he would not be pleased if it were plastic as he poured the wine into the stemmed glass… it was plastic. But wait, we were poolside. “They’re not going to give you glass barware by the pool,” I remarked as I sipped my club soda from a plastic hurricane “glass.”

At Doc Ford’s the following day, we noshed on my husband’s favorite, Yucatan Shrimp. My husband kept saying, “They don’t taste like yours.” There’s no jalapeño in the shrimp at Doc Ford’s.

Sanibel Island, Cape Coral, Tarpon Point Marina and Bowling Green

Sanibel Island, Cape Coral, Tarpon Point Marina and Bowling Green