Find more about Weather in Cedar Key, FL
SUMMER’S ARRIVING SOON…
June 10, 2016

Summer’s arriving soon, and that means heat, good fishing, the occasional tropical storm, and, to some of us, the baseball season.   The Cedar Key Sharks baseball nine did remarkably well in their first year in their new division, but school’s out and the games have ended.  The #1 ranked Gators are just 51 miles down SR 24, but after this weekend’s series with rival FSU for the right to head to Omaha for the College World Series, McKethan Stadium will be empty again until next spring.  That leaves professional baseball, for those willing to travel some distance.  But if you’re planning to visit a major league stadium this summer, you’d better bring money.  Lots and lots of money. 

According to Fortune magazine feature writer Jonathan Chew, two people attending a game this summer, buying tickets, two hot dogs, two beers, and parking their car can expect to pay $77.92.   Our closest MLB team- the Tampa Bay Rays-comes in a bit cheaper at $69.11, but if you’re a family of four, you must add two tickets, many more hot dogs and sodas, and . . . well, you may be looking for a second job when the trip is over. 

Or.  Or . . . you could travel 2:44 minutes down 19/98 and spend far far less watching the Lakeland Flying Tigers, who are playing their 2016 season at historic Henley Field.  The Flying Tigers, minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, compete in the Florida State League, which is Advanced, or “High A Ball” in the parlance of professional baseball.  This means that the players, most of whom are relative newcomers to the profession, are considered very serious prospects whose chance to move upwards towards “The Show’ are better than average.  The Tigers have been coming to Lakeland for over 50 years, easily the longest relationship between a major league team and a spring training venue.  Minor league baseball teams are known for colorful mascot names, and the Florida State League is no exception: the Clearwater Threshers, the Daytona Tortugas, the Brevard County Manatees, the Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Jupiter Hammerheads are just a few of these entries.  So your trip southward to Lakeland will provide a good look at some future stars who play an energetic style of ball in their attempt to impress the organization and enhance their future in the game.


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 TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
 by Gene Benedict
 
  
 
Rough day: a memoir
14 April 2016
 
It had been a tough day. Walking out, I pass through the gate on the way to somewhere. I need to come down, have some quiet time alone, forgetting the rough day. I mount the vehicle and head down the way.
 
I spot this building at the edge of a parking area. No one is in front. I pass slowly around the building. A pickup is parked to the rear, no other vehicles around. I dismount and walk slowly through the door.
 
The place is lit dimly. It has one window. I walk to one end of the bar. A guy on the other side with a towel walks to me and wipes the bar, waiting. I order a beer. He brings me one. He walks to the other end, no talking. Just the place I need.
 
I sit quietly, sipping my beer, washing the day away. Someone else comes through the door and sits down. He gets a drink and nods to me. I look his way and also nod. A conversation of a sort begins. He’s talking, I’m not. He moves near to me, talking about his day, I nod.
 
Someone else comes through the door, moving to the bar. The new guy invites himself into what he thinks is a three-way conversation. I only nod now and then. I look towards the guy who followed me in and now sits next to me. I nod throwing my shoulder towards distant tables on the floor. The two of us leave the bar and go to a table.
 
By now, others were there, some talking. Soft music breaks out and a woman shows up to serve. The place is filling up. Someone tries to join us at the table. I wave my arm around the room and point to toward the bar. The guy gets the point. He moves away.
 
The guy at my table orders another drink. The music is loud. The conversation at the table gets louder. I merely continue to nod. He thinks we are having a conversation. He talks, I just nod.
 
Finally, I rise and head toward the door. He follows me out. “Well, that was a good time. It was fun. Where are you going tomorrow?” He trails me as I go to my vehicle. “I know a place we might meet. This was a good time…”
 
I climb into my vehicle, look back at him with a half smile, and start the engine. It has been a tough day. I need to come down, have some quiet time alone somewhere.
  
I drove off…
 
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 TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
 by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 
A Week for All Veterans
Originally scheduled for the week of November 11, 2015
 
This week we celebrate Veterans Day and the Marine Birthday. I’ve written about those days in the past in terms of heroes and notable people.
What follows is a tribute to a Veteran and a Marine I met once, and then, only for a few minutes.
A Watch, a Compass, and the Sun over His Shoulder
         Late in the afternoon a while back, Anne and I were at the Blue Desert relaxing with a brew and an appetizer. We normally sit at the counter down on the other end. Not many people had yet arrived. It was still early. We were debriefing each other as we usually do at the end of the day.
         This older man walked in wearing shorts, a pullover, and a cap which he promptly removed. He sat at the counter too, up towards the other end. We took note of him and continued our conversation. After a modest dinner, the man turned to talk to us. He was from Minnesota and was on his way back from a short stay in Tampa. He’d driven in to Cedar Key a few hours earlier and parked a camper at Sunset Isle. He’d been out to the airstrip and had stopped at the Blue Desert on his way back.
         He was a former Marine, an aviator, a pilot. He’d flown over the Cedar Keys while in training years before and had meant to come back for a look around. He never got here. This time driving his way back from Tampa, he’d come mainly to look over the airstrip. And to remember…
         He’d been to Tampa to pick up the cremated remains of his son who had died days earlier and quite suddenly of a massive heart attack. His son, also a former Marine, left a family behind in Tampa. “My boy had lived in Tampa six-and –a-half years, and I’d never been down to see him. I’d promised, but somehow I never got there. This is one hell of a way to make a visit, and it’s tough, really tough,” said the man.
         “You know, I flew in the Pacific. I was all over. I enlisted in the Marines when I was seventeen. I watched my childhood friend, my life-long buddy, go down over Midway and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. That was pretty tough.”
         “I made it through the war with a couple wounds, but I always made it back to duty. Then I laid my mother to rest, then my father, and one by one, brothers and sisters. Those times were pretty tough. But I made it okay.”
         “I once was hit while flying a mission. My instruments went out, gauges, altimeter, and whatnot. I radioed the flight commander. He told me I had a compass and a watch, and if I put the sun over my shoulder, I’d make it home. Then we broke contact as ordered.”
         “I did, I made it home. After that I had a compass installed in my vehicle and I wear a watch at all times. I’m never lost. I just look for the sun and I’m okay.”
         “Can you imagine, six-and-a-half years and I never made it to Tampa? Never went to visit my boy? My church is against cremation, but in this case it was okay. I guess… I’ll be up early in the morning. We’ll take our time going back home, back to Minnesota. I know we’ll be okay. I have my watch on my wrist, a compass on the dash, and I’ll just put the sun over my shoulder.”
         He climbed off that stool and stood up not so easily with legs and hips damaged by shrapnel over fifty years ago. “Donald, A. C., Sir, United States Marine Corps, retired. Honored to have had your presence,” he said as he extended his hand.
         This former Marine, this wounded combat veteran, this man was hurting deeper than he’d ever known. But he’d be okay. He’d have his watch on his wrist, a compass on the control panel and the sun over his shoulder. And with his boy at his side, he should be back in Minnesota by Sunday. And this year, his son will be home for the holidays.
 
 
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 TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
 by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 
Dennis R. McDonald and Debbie
A couple - three weeks back, a cousin of mine, Dennis, from Kentucky, wanted to take a vacation in Florida with his wife, Debbie. They planned to stop overnight in Marietta, Georgia, drop by Cedar Key and move on to Hollywood, Florida for the bulk of their trip.  I hadn’t seen Dennis for about forty years, and had never met Debbie. Anne had not met them at all.
 
“Sure, come on ahead.” Anne and I set them up for an overnight stay in Cedar Key when they arrived. I didn’t recognize Dennis until I realized how much he looked like his dad. He was unmistakably a McDonald. He was younger than me by about ten years. He looked much like Uncle Ernie, my favorite uncle.
 
As a kid, I spent several summers with him on his farm. I worked hard when I was there. He used draft horses, as he had no tractor. And much of the farming was done by hand. I learned a lot from Uncle Ernie and his family.
 
During our brief visit with the McDonalds the four of us learned a lot about our families. We shared stories of long ago about the McDonalds and Benedicts. Anne was familiar with some of them and she knows my sister, Barbara. She’s heard my stories of my Uncle Ernie and his wife, Virginia.
 
We ate several meals in local restaurants. Dennis and Debbie had their first experiences of the Nature Coast and the Big Bend areas of Florida. We had a great time and as they left, I gave them a copy of an article I wrote in 2000 after Uncle Ernie died.
  
What follows is that article. Enjoy.
  

Uncle Ernie Died Last Week

          Ernie, Ernest R. McDonald, Uncle Ernie, died last week. He was a dirt farmer, a son of a dirt farmer, one of those kind that live so close to the soil, to the ground, that they sort of become inseparable, the earth, the farmer, the soil, the ground. Uncle Ernie died last week.

          He was maybe, five foot ten though he seemed much taller. He had a barrel chest that, after a deep breath, measured maybe fifty-four inches around. He always wore bib overalls over a cotton plaid work shirt and white socks and clod hoppers on his feet, you know, those boots with the leather laces that come up through the eyes so far then go to those brass hooks above to lace as you wished for the work you were about.

          He had a round, red, robust face, and when he laughed which was often, it came from deep in the belly and came out like a rapid machine gun rattle or a hen pheasant forty yards off, too far away to fire that twelve gauge.

          I visited him often as a young boy, sometimes with my younger sister, Barbara, and when I did, I stayed in the old house, the big house, a two story wooden frame with a fireplace and registers to allow the warm air downstairs to reach the bedrooms upstairs. His dad lived alone in the big house. I was a visitor there. It wasn’t wired. We used coal oil lamps for light. It was dim most of the time.

          Uncle Ernie lived in a small house a few yards off built much like what a few years back we might have called a house trailer. It was wired. The farm was somewhere outside of Salem, in Northeastern Ohio, on a dirt road, in the midst of the Amish people with their black horse-drawn carriages. That’s how it was.

          Uncle Ernie farmed eighty acres with two draft horses, work horses with the big hooves, the hair growing long around them, with mechanical plows, rakes, bailers, and the rest, that somehow magically were connected to the yoke behind the horses. His job, that dirt farming, was a tough one.

He was up way before daybreak, shaking me so I dressed and went along, to milk by hand those eleven or twelve milk cows, who spent the night in the lower part of the barn, each of us carrying coal oil lanterns which we hung on nails overhead. The barn down there was steaming and warmer due to heat from the cows and from the decomposing manure, the smell of which you could not escape. That was part of it.

I remember the sound of the squirt, squirt, squirt, as you squeezed the teats, one in each hand, and pulled as you squeezed so as to get the most milk from the utter with each as you alternated left hand then right hand and back up for another grip and yet another stroke, left and right.

          And the sound of the squirt of that warm milk as it hit that galvanized pail held between your knees as you sat on that three-legged stool. And the smell of that milk, that sweet unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk as it built in that pail. And the steam coming up from that warm milk, and the color, much more yellow than that we buy at the Market and much stronger by taste, too.

He had some sows and some pigs that ate the leftovers and the apples picked off the ground from the several acres of orchard on the hill overlooking the house, the valley, the farm. I remember a picnic with Uncle Ernie, his wife, Virginia, my dad’s sister, we called her Auntie, under that large maple tree in the pasture, when one large sow got into the picnic basket and made short-shrift of what was in there.

          Then his dad died. Then one night the orchard caught fire. All the neighbors came to help to no avail. It was destroyed. Then one of the draft horses got sick and died. And the cows were older and not producing much milk. And the silo collapsed. Uncle Ernie, with a growing family that needed providing, took a job with Chrysler a little ways away. He sold that eighty-acre farm that had been in the family for who knows how many generations, for something like seven thousand dollars. He moved to a place on a hill closer to work and eventually retired from Chrysler.

          His last years were spent in a rest home not that far from Salem. He didn’t really belong there. Now he’s back where he belongs, back one with the soil, back one with the ground, as dirt farmers should. Uncle Ernie died last week.

          ‘Till we meet again, be out there looking for Trouble in Cedar Key…

 

 
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BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
11  JULY  2015
 
  
 
       I wrote an earlier article on light and its effects on plants (day length) but some other factors come to mind. What causes trees to change the color of their leaves then drop them to the ground? When the earth rotates light brings warm temps. While darkness brings cooler temps. When the earth moves closer to the sun we get warmer and when it gets farther away we get cooler. These two rhythms are the existence of all life on earth. Plants have been around for millions of years and have adapted to these rhythms (we sleep at night and wake by day). We have created artificial light to work the 2nd. & 3rd. Shifts. We all know about jet lag (I always lag behind but never lag forward for some reason) and what it does to our ‘internal’ time clock.  
 
       Plants are sensitive to light and temperatures and act accordingly, thus when things are right the tree with holds nutrients [sap] and the leaves die and drop to the ground. I’ve been shot at and I know how to drop to the ground. When light gets longer and temperatures rise sap moves up the tree, the buds swell and a new leaf begins to grow. I was raised near a “sugar bush” and in spring with snow still on the ground, holes would be drilled in the trees and taps driven. The buckets would be hung and covered to keep rainwater out and as the sap moved to the top of the tree a small portion would drip into the buckets. I have actually drank sap out of these buckets and it tastes like weak maple syrup. I think it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. I used to watch a working sugar house and the evaporator is amazing.   
 
       Plants react to the changing daytime position of the sun (phototropism) and move accordingly. At my age I don’t like to move much as it usually means work. Some plants like full sun while some like full shade. If you really want to mess up a plant put it under lights 24-7 for 4 weeks and see what happens. In my seedling room I control the photo-period to what is occurring outdoors so when they go to the greenhouse they have no shock. Now that I have kept you in the dark . . .
 
Light your Ligustrum . . . . Broccoli Billy 
Copyright © by Bill Robinson 2015
 
  
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TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
   Those Last Few Harrowing Days
 
      “When, in the course of human events…”
 
     Let’s take a trip back two and a quarter centuries or so to those earlier days. Let’s visit as best we can those last several days leading up to the real reason for this weekend’s celebration, the Fourth of July, Independence Day. That period when those brave men signed what they knew could well be their own death warrants. Those last few harrowing days culminating in the signing of what is known as the Declaration of Independence.
 
    The Continental Congress had been called originally for the purpose of finding common ground for a unified presence of the thirteen colonies and several territories under the protection of the Crown. For that is what it was, thirteen diverse colonies with governors appointed by the Crown and serving at the discretion of the Crown.
 
     A few thousand British soldiers were on the soil, mainly as a message to foreign countries that those colonies in the New World were British Crown Colonies, they were to serve as policemen to keep order. The colonists soon learned that the troops really didn’t want to be here and they wanted to avoid conflict at all costs.
 
    Sheriffs sprung up and militias came into being, the militias primarily to fend off marauding Indians and the French to the North, not to be in conflict with the Crown. Ben Franklin from New York and later Pennsylvania formed a militia from money from a lottery, the first lottery in the New World, in Philadelphia.
 
    Fifty some odd men, give or take, met to find common ground. The governors and their representatives were invited. The governor’s representatives soon became bored and left. Then the doors closed and the locks came out. The delegates met in private, an illegal assembly sworn to secrecy.
 
   There was Benjamin Franklin, the printer from Philadelphia, the Englishman’s Englishman. There was Thomas Jefferson, the quiet diplomat from Virginia who would rather be back on the farm at Monticello. There was Patrick Henry, some say was from Virginia, who knows? And George Washington, engineer, who would rather lay out the land for development than get involved with politics. And there was John Hancock, John Adams, Sam Adams, and a whole host of individuals who had been in meeting rooms long enough and wanted to get back home.
 
   The delegations from Georgia and the Carolinas were ready to walk out, to leave, to go home to their farms, their families, and that quiet diplomat, Tom, talked them into staying just a little longer. All of them, down to the last, knew they were involved in treasonous activities.
 
   The colonies had been here a hundred thirty and some odd years and were now prosperous and major exporters to the outside world. The Crown needed the colonies to feed their greed. They tried taxes, the Stamp Act, the tax on tea that led to the Boston Tea Party. They tried oppression and they spawned rebellion.
 
   The talk at the Continental Congress turned. The colonies had found their common ground; resist oppression, resist the Crown. Who needs the Crown anyway? Ben argued against it. “Let's’ find a way, we are all Englishmen, we need to realize that.” Pat, the hot head in the bunch and the youngest of the group, kept up his theme, “Give me liberty or give me death!”
 
  George, the engineer, reluctantly began forming plans to raise a super militia, a Continental Army. George wanted to be back in lower Virginia surveying the land now known as the Great Dismal Swamp. And Tom, ever the scribe, ever the writer, ever the thinker, wrote draft after draft, long hand, at night for the group to consider the next day.
 
   Finally in the wee hours on July 2, 1776, the draft was redlined and signed, all fifty-four or so in attendance agreeing, many reluctantly, to sever the connection to the Crown. They knew in the worst case they would be hung for treason. They also knew that any combat would be on their turf and hoped that the British would tire of that quickly.
 
  So now we have it, the United States of America, and it all comes down to those last harrowing days and the finale and those now famous words, “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bonds…”
 
   Thank you, Ben. Thank you, George. Thank you, Pat. And thank you, especially you, Tom, for being the glue that held it all together and for finding the correct words to make it unquestionable. To make it the magnificent piece of World Literature that today is our mainstay.
 
   So on Saturday this coming, remember those guys in that illegal assembly that made it all possible, that made this “the land of the free and the home of the brave…”
 
   Until next time…
 
 
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BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
  MAY   2015
 
 
 
I spend a lot of time on research, as I should, and always discover something new. I’m not a supporter of ‘organic’ gardening and some new information I just learned further supports my position on this subject. I was reading about plant root structure and the different type of cells that there are, to find out these root cells absorb chemical ions of various types.   
 
So let’s say for example I had two gardens; one with chemical fertilizer and one that is fertilized with buffalo chips (no not potato chips as there is a buffalo chip throwing contest out west) along with grass clippings, bone meal, dried blood, and anything else you like. You could even use horse feathers if you wish. Organic nutrients are designed to release their value over long periods of time which is fine for very long term plants such as shrubs and trees. Most of our vegetable crops are short term plants and are grown in a single year. This could imply that not enough nutrition is available and stunts these short term plants thus reducing yield.   
 
Now my chemical fertilized garden allows me to put more than the needed amounts of nutrition. The plants use the maximum amounts needed and disregard the rest. Excessive fertilizer can be toxic so don’t think more is better. My lettuce is a 45 day crop so they demand as much as they need and they get it. The USDA has done extensive chemical analysis between organic and non-organic plants out of my imaginary gardens and no difference is evident! This relates to plants of the same type. 
  
The UF testing lab offers basic sap test analysis of most any type of plant you like. It gives you an analysis of a whole range of chemicals and can even tell you how to adjust you fertilizer to match plant requirements. My first wife wanted me to meet certain requirements and I guess I didn’t do to well. I think that if organic nutrients were different from chemical nutrients it would make the plants different. Now think about that!

 Eons of ions . . . . . Broccoli Billy

 
Copyright © by Bill Robinson 2015
 
  
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TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 
 In the Wake of a Hurricane
 

         Some time back, say about ’70, Allen and Caroline drove to Franklin, VA, near the southeast shore to visit Peggy and me for a few days. You’ve met these people before. Allen worked for “The Atlanta Constitution” as a sports writer. Caroline was his wife, a schoolteacher in Atlanta and sister to Peggy, a legal secretary. Allen and I had a number of interests together, fishing and hunting being two of them.

One day early, Allen and I set out, boat in tow, to a fresh water reservoir serving Virginia Beach. The boat was a short, V-prow, aluminum Jon boat with a two-and-a-half horse motor. That was the maximum sized motor that was allowed on the reservoir. There were attendants at this lake that would let you fish if you had a freshwater fishing license. There was a modest charge to fish the lake.


 
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TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 
 LOST CREEK
When I was a boy of nine years old up until the age of sixteen, I spent a lot of time around Lost Creek. The creek got its name because part of the route took the creek underground. You couldn’t find the bed, as it was dry. The pools, however, were crystal clear and laden with small mouth bass, rock bass, red horse suckers, and all sorts of smaller fish such as blue gills, minnows and crawfish. 
 
We called the crawfish, crabs, and often would seine for the soft shells. From time to time, we’d look under the rocks in the rapids for soft shells. Those crabs made a good fishing bait for all kinds of larger fish, especially catfish. We’d get the soft shells from the creek and fish them along the banks of the Miami River. 
 


 
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BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
  MARCH  2015
 
 
 
 
In my last few articles I have had a lot of fun and I hope my readers have too. This newspaper column must keep the theme of plants and gardening so be that as it may. Let’s assume I received a phone call at 8 am this morning from a crying young female trying to tell me her prized green plant has yellow leaves on it. She insist that I must come over and find out what is wrong as she can barely speak on the telephone. So I go over to her house and find the plant on the porch with some yellow leaves on it. A close inspection reveals green veins in the leaf with yellow areas between. This condition is almost always chlorosis which indicates a lack of nutrition.
 
I’ve had this condition a number of times in the greenhouse and finally found through some research that there are two major things to consider. The first is obvious, lack of fertilizer but the second one is very seldom considered; improper pH value. These two things very closely interrelate. I’m sure some gardeners know more about their pool pH than their garden soil pH. 


 
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TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 
 
 BARBER LARRY
 
Sometime back, say in the mid-80’s, I first met Larry. Larry was a barber. Back in South Carolina Larry had been a hairdresser. Larry and his wife Cindy moved to Cedar Key. Larry’s wife was a nurse in Gainesville. They bought a house, a cracker house, near the old church that is now Herman Well’s woodshop.  Cindy drove back and forth from Cedar Key to her work in Gainesville. Larry set up a barbershop in the front room of the house.

Larry was a member of the “Breakfast Club” in Don Fansler’s Captain’s Table bar and restaurant on Dock Street. The restaurant opened at eleven o’clock daily. The “Breakfast Club” hung out before hours in the bar. The bar didn’t open till eleven, and the club members were on an honor system, serving themselves.


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
  7  FEBRUARY  2015
 
 
 
When I was growing up I used to help a dairy farmer part time during milking. This man would always turn on the radio real loud so all the cows could hear it. He had a channel that played all the ‘softies’ and claimed the cows gave more milk when listening to such soothing music. If I were a cow I would just go to sleep. This situation may be a fact or it just may not but it does bring up the question do plants grow better listening to music?
 
A friend and I got into just this discussion a while back and he suggested that plants may grow better because of it. He claimed he felt better with good music which made him more vigorous on the dance floor. He said different music created different moods for him (such as down music made him feel down while up music was quite positive in mood).
 
All this led to the discussion of what type of music do plants like? Vivaldi’s Four Seasons has three seasons to many so this song won’t work. Pick‘in and grin‘in might work but plants don’t smile. Bluegrass would work in only Kentucky. Ragtime might work for only cotton but not tomatoes. Rock and roll would cause dead plants to roll over in their graves. Rap would teach the plants bad language and anything played in a dentist’s office would scare the daylights out of any living plant. 
 
So after much debate and incredible consideration the consensus was none other than jazz! Well, let’s think about this for a minute. This music doesn’t have to be loud or played every day as it could be played every other day or in some combination. It could be different artists or the same one. It could be played at night (I do better at night myself).     
 
One thing that I think is for sure, the plants will all die if you play the wrong music. The plants do not make music so maybe its best you don’t either. I got a great deal on a violin which i can’t play but I’ll practice in the greenhouse.
 
Sing to yourself . . . . . Broccoli Billy
 
Copyright © by Bill Robinson 2015
 
  
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TROUBLE IN CEDAR KEy
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 
 
 Vacation at St. Simons
 
Some years past, not that long back, we took a vacation with some of Peggy’s family to St. Simons, Georgia. Melanie, our daughter was only a few months into her life. Allen and Caroline were there with us. We talked before about Caroline and Peggy being sisters. They grew up in the mountains of Virginia. Peggy and I were living in Virginia near the Southeast Coast. We had been there several years. I worked for the papermill in Franklin, Virginia. Peggy was a legal secretary. Caroline was a schoolteacher in Atlanta. Allen was a newspaperman for the “Atlanta Constitution.” Allen, a native of the Atlanta area, and Caroline were newly weds.
 
Allen’s family owned an old home in St. Simons for use by family members and their friends. Allen and I had fished together many times. We were anxious to get to the fishing spots. Neither of us had a boat. So we walked to fishing spots or drove one of the cars to others further away. Our first day we walked to the Coast Guard Station and beyond to a beach that often washes away in storms.


 
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Trouble in Cedar Key
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 

Fall, Winter, and the Holidays

Sometime back, we witnessed the fall and the transition to winter, even a preview of the winter itself.  Seasons correspond more to weather and natural changes than to dates on the calendar.

We really have been in the wintertime for several weeks. We have no way of knowing how long winter will last. The weather has been cold for quite sometime. Fall leaves with their bright colors came early. The hardwoods have pretty much shed their leaves as have the cypress. The coastal oaks are still green but they are thinning noticeably.

We just passed the time when gum trees have darkened considerably. We had a number of cold, windy days. Fogs have been passing through for some weeks. Cold, misty days are here. We haven’t experienced many sunny days lately.

Winter officially starts around December 21. By the calendar, we just entered that period called winter. The shortest day of the year has past as has the longest night.

Many of us know that winter started many weeks ago. Does this mean that spring is not that far away?

One thing for sure, the holiday season really started before Thanksgiving, and we are still in Season. We will remain there for some time. This time of year, there are a number of holidays, many of them religious.

The grey, drabness of the fog joins winds in the pines and the palms. Sounds of the gentle rain collected by the leaves fall on the green. Cars going by on the wet pavement, the tires unzipping from the roadway, contrast with sound from the holiday music. Voices, instruments and holiday music make a festive mood.

Notice the colors that emanate from decorations both inside and out. It is nearly possible to turn these colors into smells and tastes associated with the cookies with green, red and others. And experience the colors of beets and cranberries, nuts, sweet potatoes, breads.

And see, smell and taste the colors of, turkey, pumpkin pie, chocolates, cheeses, casseroles, and salads. And add the smells, the candles and textures of oranges, apples, pineapples, shredded coconuts. Mix all of these seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, feeling festive.

And then again think of the hazy, rainy, foggy, greyness and know that as the winter goes on, these things will change and the outside will get brighter and the stars and the moon and the planets will contrast against a black sky.

And another year will be upon us. Notice. Use all your senses to observe this coming year. Blend the colors and the taste and feel and smell, and experience this year as you have not done before.

Celebrate life and become one with it.

 

E-mail Gene at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 Copyright © by Gene Benedict - 2014
 
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Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
  28 NOVEMBER 2014
 
 
 

Let’s go on a journey together, with a new version of Thomas Jefferson’s Lewis &Clark expedition. Our president has just commissioned Mr. John Star and Thomas Dust to take on the tremendous task, which is known as the “stardust” expedition!    The goal is to establish a food producing facility on the moon as a supply for interplanetary space travel.

Let’s imagine what this facility might be like, as this requires a big imagination. Our so called greenhouse would have to be underground to temper extreme heat and cold.    We might need a nuclear reactor (perhaps the size of a 5 gallon bucket to provide electricity and controlled heat) for our operation. Water being very heavy on earth is a problem so we need sister ships to supply it in multiple trips. All internal structures could be mostly of carbon fiber which is light and very strong and made here on earth. 


 
GeneBenedict-xp
 
 
 
 
 
Trouble in Cedar Key
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
  

Thanksgiving On The Road

         This weekend, Thanksgiving Day Weekend, is the most heavily traveled time of the year. Whether by train, plane, bus, car or whatever, many people are on the move to spend the Thanksgiving time with loved ones. Fortunately for most folks, the travel involves a short trip of a few miles or an hour or so, but for quite a few, the distance traveled and time spent are substantial.

Until just the past couple of years, I've been one of the latter most of my life. It feels good not to have to do all that traveling just to be with family and loved ones on Thanksgiving weekend. For many years, I was a professional person on the road driving as part of my occupation. Drivers of those eighteen wheelers are in this group. Thanksgiving was one day, a Thursday. Most often, Fridays, Saturdays and even Sundays were considered workdays.

No professional driver likes to be traveling when there are so many other drivers outnumbering you who only do distance travel a few times a year. Many of them are oblivious to the ways of the road, and the professional traveler has to watch out for them and to be courteous and helpful to them while he is on his own mission. That can be a real chore.


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
  16 NOVEMBER 2014
 
 
 

It would be a dark world without light and so it has been over eons of time.    The rhythm of light and dark effects all life on earth, both plant and animal, disco lights, effected my night life years ago and is a powerful force.    We have internal “time clocks” as daylight tells us to wake up (don’t count alarm clocks which I hate) and darkness tells us to sleep.    When I retired I destroyed all my alarm clocks even though I didn’t have any C-4 plastic explosive handy. 


 
GeneBenedict-xp
 
 
 
 
 
Trouble in Cedar Key
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 
The Cusp of the Year
 
Some days back, the autumnal equinox was upon us. Length of the day from sunset to sunrise was the same as sunrise to sunset. Days were getting shorter and nights, longer at similar rates. The season was passing through fall and approaching winter.
 
Changes were happening rapidly. Green trees were changing to colors of red, yellow, brown, and colors in-between. The air was drying and outside temperatures were cooling. The feeling was one of crispness. The smells were passing through moldy and damp to sharper, more pungent, characteristic of the fall.
 


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
  4 OCTOBER 2014
 
 
 
From time to time I get into discussions about greenhouses which many times leads to watering with rain water. I have many times drank out of trout streams in the Adirondack Mountains without becoming ill. I certainly do not suggest anyone do this as it is a sure route to sickness. Rainwater is a different story in a number of ways. Thinking that this type of water is somehow pure, guess again! Disease bacteria are everywhere along with fungal spores and fuel residue from our airliners. Sulphur Dioxide from cars and power plants is still certain, all of which can be found in rain water.  


 
GeneBenedict-xp
 
 
 
 
 
Trouble in Cedar Key
by Gene Benedict
 
 
 
 The following article originally appeared in the Cedar Key Beacon in 2011.
 We hope this Gene Benedict 911 Remembrance article will be passed on by the author and reprinted by other news media every few years as a reminder to us all.
 
 
September 11, 2001
 
That fateful day in September, ten years past, Anne and I were on a trip up the coast. The plan was to spend two weeks at our leisure on a journey, sightseeing, exploring, thinking, writing, doing our art.
 
Not much went toward our intentions. As the days unfolded, I recorded them and published some of the thoughts and observations in the Cedar Key Beacon. Much of what follows was printed there:
 
A Transition from Positive Expectations
After a false start costing us a day, we were on our way. We got as far as Hershel’s at Otter Creek. We stopped for sausage biscuits. The TV was on, a crowd glued to it. A second plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center and they had watched it just moments before. One man there couldn’t even talk, couldn’t get out of his mouth what he had just seen.
 
Stunned, we climbed back into the car and headed on across the State and up the coast. We stopped for the night at Jekyll Island. The weather was closing in. Many places weren’t open. People were checking out. We checked in.
 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
  13 SEPTEMBER 2014
 
 
 
Just before I started this article we had a real “rip-doosie’ here in cedar key. I could hear the air separate as the lightning struck many times around me with torrents of rain. I was in the greenhouse harvesting parsley and even though it doesn’t rain in there I took cover. I bet we had two inches of rain in 30 min. While I mentioned parsley, let’s go there. This distraught, under rated, shunned herb is only thought of as a nonedible garnish to decorate our plates. I say, I don’t think so! Parsley is a culinary delight and my dad grew it at home while I was growing up. It adds wonderful flavor to soups and stews as well as meat dishes.    I have been known to add wonderful flavor to the heart of the party.
  


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 31 AUGUST 2014
 
 
 
Containers and flats (cell trays) is a large and varied topic of discussion. Volumes could be written and rooms could be jammed full but I promise only one article for now. I find containers to be a matter of choice and plant size. Plant size is a major concern and larger plants require larger pots if they are to grow and develop properly.    One thing I do when buying a nursery plant is to remove the pot to look at the roots and if those roots are going around in a circle I would suggest you don’t buy it. Not everyone wants to “step up” their plants as time and some money is involved as a good potting mix should be used. When the roots have gone “round & round” that’s called ringing (no it’s not your telephone) and should be cut at least once vertically the full height of the root ball before repotting. This encourages new roots which will spread out.   


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 17 AUGUST 2014
 
 
 
 Now is the time for me to introduce three friends of mine: Rosie, Adrianna and Lollo.   They are all family members and are quite stately as Rosie has a red blush, Adrianna has a green evening gown and Lollo wears a frilly red dress. There parentage is of course “Lactuca” which is the lettuce family. Rosie and Adrianna are Romaine lettuce while Lollo is a Lolla Rossa variety of lettuce.    One thing I do is grow specialty lettuce for restaurants that would not be seen in most grocery stores. I also grow a Bibb-Butterhead lettuce named Skyphos that earned my lettuce growing reputation. 


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 10 AUGUST 2014
 
 
 
You might ask what’s going on in my greenhouse. I might say the summer heat is winding up with my growing season winding down which is correct. I do not have coolers to go through the summer as some do, so I have a summer shutdown which is very welcome after eight months of work. This year I'm doing testing in the temperature control room. One of my weak points, among others, is to grow flowers from seed and I do mean the difficult types. Most of us let the pros do this and we buy them in the stores as transplants. I 'm partly doing this as amateur research and partly for my love of flowers.


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 3 AUGUST 2014
 
 
 
I would like to ramble on about a dirty subject. One which we can't do without starving to death. There is nothing like a good scandal to stir things up. The scandalous story of dirt. What is it, where does it come from and what are some of the things that are in it?
  
I very, very seldom have a technical manual in one hand and a keyboard in the other when I write these articles, though I will do it now.


 
Trouble Mug xc
 
 
 
 Trouble in Cedar Key
  by Gene Benedict  
  4 August 2014 
 
 
 
Mermaid Dave
 
There was a wooden dock in Cedar Key at the end of the old railroad. That railroad bed eventually became what is now known as Dock Street. For years the wooden dock was a place where sponge boats moored and where the spongers cleaned and off loaded the sponges. The spongers sold the booty and hung around Cedar Key ‘till they ran out of money. When broke, they headed back again to the Gulf to dive, walking the bottom to fill the boats with sponges. While in port, they had a great time. 


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 27 JULY 2014
 
 
 
I'm going to go right to the point so let's talk about sex. This might be the best topic to get reader attention. I'm referring to the sex life of the cucumber aka “the cuke.” Cucumber is a member of the cucumber family (cucurbitacea] and is a vining plant. Such plants as pumpkins, squash, gourds, melons etc. I'm sure, there are many more that I don't know about in nature but we will talk about these for now.
 


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 20 JULY 2014
 
 
 
I would never in an online newspaper reveal anything about my love affair . . . or would I? My editor would never approve such a personal topic to go to print . . . or would he? Destiny calls so now I must divulge my 16 month love affair with . . . the pineapple! If you think this is juicy now just hang on as it gets better. The pineapple belongs to the bromeliad family and is the most well-known of this group. There are different bromeliads all over the island in many ornamental Gardens. These plants will rival any orchid in outright beauty. Maybe these are fightin’ words to some people. I went to a plant show years ago at the ocean center in Daytona Beach (bromeliads plus others) and could not believe my eyes. I have been stunned by beauty before (I won't go into that] that only the tulip festival in Ottawa, Canada would defeat!
 
I would bet 95% of my readers have not seen a living pineapple plant. I would wager 99% of my readers have never seen a juicy, scrumptious, delicious, golden pineapple sitting on top of the mother plant (see how juicy this is getting). The aroma of a golden pineapple could easily rival a sweet smelling melon. Combine a small amount of pineapple, banana, and cream of coconut along with a very large amount of rum and you have a tropical drink that you will remember for at least two days.
 
The pineapple plant propagates in three different ways, by seeds from the peel, planting the crown, and planting the pups that grow around the mother plant. This is a 16 month venture from planting the crown (you may need many tropical drinks) so time is necessary. Take the cut off crown and remove any remaining pineapple then at the bottom with a sideways hard pull remove the lower 1 inch of the leaves. As you peel off these leaves you may see small roots, if not don't worry. Some, might have rootone powder around so dust the bottom l inch with it even though rooting powder is not required. Place in a filled 3 gallon pot so transplanting is not required and wait for new leaves to grow from the center. During this waiting part have a few more tropical drinks (30-60 days). Please keep in mind this is a very dizzying procedure!
 
So - so - so in con - con - conclusion good luck!  
Prepare you pineapple . . . . Broccoli Billy 
 

Copyright © by Bill Robinson 2014

*******
 
Trouble Mug xc
 
 
  
 
 Trouble in Cedar Key
  by Gene Benedict  
  15July2014 
 
 
 
Fathers Day in Saint Augustine
 
A few weeks back, my daughter Melanie treated me to a weekend in Saint Augustine. Melanie lives in Atlanta. It took her about seven hours to get there. The trip took about three and a half hours for me. I arrived at Saint Augustine prior to Melanie.
 
We stayed at the Best Western on Avenida Menendez, on Matanzas River and across the street from the Castillo de San Marcos. We were on the edge of Old Saint Augustine. Most of the time we were outside in the rain, but that didn’t deter us. We spent about three days in the area touring around.


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 15 JULY 2014
 
 
 
 
Organics-Dishwater! Organics-Dishwater! Organics-Dishwater!
 
What a topic! I will have plenty of enemies after this article is completed. I often hear the chatter of this topic and think of pure idle chatter. I have visions of people going through their garden with a full glass of isopropyl alcohol picking off bugs and drowning them in such a solution. Wear heavy boots so you can stamp these bugs to death or crush them in your fingers. Get out your finest dish detergent and give them a bath as they will love it.


 
Bill 0259xe
 
 
 
 
BROCCOLI BILLY in Cedar Key
Bill Robinson
 06 JULY 2014
 
 
 
Often I get into discussions with fellow gardeners and every once in a while I will mention bacteria. Everyone gets a stiff spine, has an ice cold stare, and thinks I am committing an act of WW III when I use bacteria as an agent on plants. Then when I mention that I use multiple strains the entire ceiling falls in with dead silence. After a while things calm down and reason starts to prevail. I go on to explain some things that we do not think much about such as; the human body is covered with bacteria; some antibiotics are derived from bacteria, cheese, beer, yogurt, bread and vaccines come from bacteria. 


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