spot prawns – spot on

Okay, so I was a little nervous about the spot prawns after reading about the roe, planning them for my turning 69 birthday dinner and all that. No pressure, right? Well, check out the photo. I froze the shells for later and can tell you that the prawns were beautiful, absolute perfection. I only sauteed them about 20 seconds each side in a little olive oil and butter, then put them into a bowl, added lemon, white wine, Thai basil, red pepper flakes, capers and garlic to the pan. Wow. Served with tomatoes, whole wheat thin spaghetti, and asparagus. Maybe a glass or two of white wine. The prawns were tender and sweet.

These beauties came flash frozen as an add-on in our monthly box of wild fish from Wild Alaskan Company.

Baby Bunny in the Pool

Some time or other we all hop in the wrong direction and land in deep water. If we’re lucky, we find a place to huddle and hope for a hand and not a hawk. This wee bunny was huddled on the molded ladder step of our swimming pool early this morning. I fetched thin slices of carrot, shredded a bit of lettuce, found a small container and lined it with a soft towel, then slipped out the sliding glass doors, leaving Lou Lou Belle inside. I wanted to be sure it really was a baby bunny and not a woods rat. I knelt on the concrete and peered over into the recessed space. Bunny. Sitting in about a half inch of water. I tried to offer a bite of lettuce, but it floated away. Not good. That bunny needed to get out of the pool, but it was tricky. Luck was a major factor — I was able to get a decent hold on the now struggling bunny, who leapt out of my hands as soon as it was on dry land. Immediately hopped over to a clump of grass and began nibbling. Whew. I looked out to the edge of the woods where I have been seeing two adult rabbits the past few weeks. Sure enough. One of them, maybe Mama, was watching. “Here’s your baby. Right here. I’ll take Lou for a walk to the gate. You come get your baby while I’m gone.” Lou and I took a good long walk. Baby’s gone. Mama’s vanished, too. It’s going to be a really good day.

simple stay home supper

When I ventured to the grocery store recently, there was one little fresh cabbage left in the bin. It was missing most of its outer leaves. I picked it up. Put it back down. It reminded me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. I retrieved it and took it home.

I braised the little cabbage in a bath of chicken broth. It fed us well last night, along with a baked sweet potato and garlic-roasted pork tenderloin.

We are grateful to be in a place of comfort and relative safety here in the Longleaf woods, but our hearts are breaking for New York and the other hardest hit areas.

egg and spinach

Worth a post? Probably not. But damn, it was good. Pretty, too.

Note: I’ve avoided frozen spinach for years because of experiences with rectangular blocks that, when thawed, was coarse, tough, and unappealing. I keep trying to think of ways to get more leafy greens into our diet without having a refrigerator full of stuff in various stages of turning into a science project. So I decided to try a bag of Publix’s Greenwise brand chopped spinach. Well, now, this is a whole different animal than my rejects of decades ago. It’s tender, sweet, chopped into tiny bits, and delicious. Perfect as a base to bake an egg.

if you own a house or vacant land . . .

Make a note to yourself to call your local planning and zoning authority and make sure that what you think is your zoning really is your current, effective zoning. Ask questions like: are there any overlays on my property? Is it within the footprint of a master plan? Is my normal county zoning the same as my effective zoning? (In other words, if I am in a low density residential zoning category (known here as LDR), does it mean it can be developed with 4 dwelling units per acre, which is in the Land Development Code for LDR. Or is there an overlay put on it without my knowledge or consent that reduces that number to 3 dwelling units per acre, plus requires open space design, meaning 50% of my land must be severed through a legal instrument and never, ever be developed, and requires mandatory clustering on the remaining 50%. Even if, like is the case with our neighbor’s land, there are zero wetlands — it is an old horse pasture — she would be required to give up half of her high and dry upland property. That is the essence of our challenge to the unfair overlay and our request to opt our land out of it and keep our normal low density residential county zoning.

The county put their public notice signs out Friday. We expect the files, including our applications and their staff analysis, to go online sometime next week. And then, before we know it, it will be showtime for everybody.

dreams deferred

“Patsy” and “Doc” will have to wait. Luckily, I wrote down enough of the dreams when I first staggered out of bed yesterday morning to fix the memory in place. Buck and I spent most of yesterday preparing for and briefing some of our local officials on our property rights issue coming before the planning board February 4th. Today is for reading the fine print on some ancient scrolls (old meeting transcripts) and a luncheon of the Pensacola High School class of 1955, Buck’s graduating class and a group of folks I have come to love. I’m always the “babe” in the room because of my relative youth (only 68), but they seem to like me okay anyway. We meet at a little local Italian restaurant called Franco’s. They make a mean minestrone soup. Hang in there, Patsy and Doc. I’ll tell your story soon.

blow down

Longleaf Lou and I walked our usual path from house to gate this morning. The short 1/3 of a mile gravel road was nearly covered over by small twigs, leaves and pine needles. I picked up a dozen or so branches and threw them off the road and into the woods.

My hair turned into a dark cloud of humidity-saturated frizz. The silver lining to living in a damp Florida forest is that it’s kind to aging skin. Hair not so much!

Birds, wasps, and other critters are not immune from losing their homes in a mid-winter rain and wind storm.

Wasp nest on gravel road.
See the circle that used to be some critter’s front door?

ready or not, here comes change

Buck bought the first sixty acres of thick pine woods we call Longleaf in 1974. The only access was a dim road, a hunter’s trail, paper company land on three sides. He was a man of many hats even then: corporate executive, husband and father to three young teenagers, community volunteer, part-time farmer, and entrepreneur. I was five years out of high school, married and living 350 miles east in Florida’s capitol city. We had not yet met.

Who could have imagined that by 2020 Buck’s first wife would be dead? His middle son dead. My first husband dead. That next month we will have been married for 35 years? That I would have no natural children, but two beloved step-kids who are my good friends, seven grandchildren and three great-grands.

Or that our county plans to build a road through the middle of the now ninety acres of Longleaf where we built a home and have lived since 2000? Or that we would learn the county approved an overlay on top of our land and that of many of our neighbors that would diminish its value when the time comes to sell? Of course we are working to remove this cloud. It has taken more than a year of research, but we are ready. Our case will be heard by our local planning board on February 4, along with three of our neighbors. Should be quite a show.

As for the road, we support that, even though it changes forever my morning walks to the gate and the total privacy we have enjoyed all these years. We and our neighbors need the road. The current one is narrow and way below basic county standards, with multiple blind ninety-degree curves. It has become the corridor between new businesses and subdivisions at one end and a new elementary school and existing middle school at the other. More than 50 school bus trips a day run the gauntlet. We cannot in good conscience oppose it. So. Two different issues. Both presaging major change.

2020. Shaping up to be a barn-burner. My “word” for 2019 was FLOW. This year’s is READY. I told Buck about my word. He chuckled and said, “Mine is MOVE.”