Friday, November 25, 2005


Well, even dial-up can handle Blogger, so I'm not completely and entirely offline.

We've had fun with Cathy's family here. Her father Bill and his wife Judy are visiting from Illinois; her brother Jim and his girlfriend Debbie have 20 acres, 5 horses, 3 cattle, 1 donkey, and 3 dogs (plus a small gator in the pond that spills over the dirt road leading to the gate). We've shopped together and eaten together, including Thanksgiving dinner with even more relatives. Today we drove to Dunedin, near Tampa, to take a ferry to Caladesi Island, where the kids and I swam in the Gulf of Mexico, their first salt-water experience.

So all in all, a nice trip and it's only half over at that. But we've already had the high point: the golf cart. Debbie's parents John and Julie were here yesterday. "Grampa John", though no relation to my kids, was a big hit with them, and eventually he offered to take them on a ride on the golf cart up to the main gate. I enjoyed the quiet... and half an hour later, here came the three of them back again, but walking with pants rolled up and carrying their shoes and socks. Sally Ann had been steering, with John operating the pedal, when they had run the cart half off the dirt track while crossing the underwater portion.

We all had a great laugh, and Jim and Deb took a pickup to haul the cart back up to the house. But a little while later, off they went again: John took the cart up to a gate, intending to drive around the back pasture (which is all above water). Since I was standing right there, I opened it for him, pushing one of the horses out of the way in the process (Marshall, a Tennessee walker). I followed the cart into the field, intending to watch the kids drive around; but Marshall decided that that game was fun, and began pushing me around with his neck, then bending down to nibble my shoe. I petted and shoved him a little and made my way around the field to the other side of the house, with other grownups laughing from the back porch as Marshall continued to plod along behind me, every now and then giving me a nudge to get me to play some more—concluding with a good bite on the back of my calf (that didn't hurt).

I got back into the yard as we all continued to have another laugh. PJ and Sally Ann took turns steering wildly around the pasture. Then they all decided to come in, passing from one field to another through an open gate. But the horses have worn so much traffic through that point that the grass is gone, leaving only deep sand (the entire state of Florida, it seems, has no dirt—only sand). And the cart bogged down, spinning its wheels whether forward or back.

I went back out to push them out, and eventually everyone managed to come in and get cleaned up for Thanksgiving dinner. But that's how, in the space of one afternoon, Sally Ann managed to drive into a gator swamp and into a sandpit and I managed to get bitten by a horse.


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