26.2 With Donna 2013: Get An Early Start


Jacksonville Beach was beautiful, but cold. Courtesy of http://photos.jacksonville.com/mycapture/enlarge.asp?image=40224843&event=1413823&CategoryID=10519

If you have ever considered tackling a marathon the 26.2 With Donna is a great race for a worthy cause. Traversing Jacksonville’s beautiful shoreline and winding through a variety of neighborhoods lined with supportive folks sharing not only their support but also their bacon, Bloody Mary’s and an assortment of fruit, the physical pain and effort is easily overcome by the sense of community and purpose. OK, “easily” is a poor user of the language, especially if you are not a seasoned distance runner. You will hurt but when surrounded by those running in honor of loved ones they have lost or those presently fighting to survive, your pain is a little less relevant.

My first “Donna” was this past year and while my responsibility was the first leg of a relay team (I along with my friend Vicki Schoonmaker tackled the first 5 miles), hearing the stories told by those who had run it in the past of how beautiful the experience is, I had to continue beyond my task. Gutting out 15 miles, roughly 7 beyond what I had trained for, left me aching through a good portion of my lower extremities. Adding to the pain was the unseasonably cold Jacksonville day which never topped 36 degrees during the run. Having run a New Years Eve 5k in Vermont where the temperature was 8 degrees the cold was not a shock. The wind was another story, especially along the beach where the tranquility of crashing waves illuminated by a cloudless sky fought hard to mask numbing breeze.

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Two Tuesday Quotes: Maslow and Garnett Thomson


To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.

—Abraham Maslow

Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.
—Virgil Garnett Thomson

Saturday the 4th of February: Thou Shalt Glean and a Review of Last Saturday


The weather in North Florida is beautiful. Per this morning’s weather report we are just close to 10 degrees warmer than last year, apparently due to the occurrence of El Niño. That being the case our time to glean stats a bit brisk but ends with a short pants and t-shirt afternoon.

This past Saturday found us in East Palatka at two residential homes to harvest the most grapefruit I have ever seen. The second house specifically had two large trees that allowed us to climb them to reap the benefit of its production. Unfortunately I had to leave prior to harvesting a fourth house (while we were at home number two-part of our group was at another house) so I cannot report how much fruit we saved from going unused.

Amidst the success were two huge failures on my part: 1) no pictures and 2) trying to clip fruit resting on a power line. For the latter I am grateful I am not dead as my partially rubberized gloves would surely have not saved me from electrocution. Beyond that was the continued gardening tips and education as to the different varieties of citrus. The new orange, I believe, is from the Seville family though I cannot recall its name. It was small and we ate it peel and all. Not real sweet and it stayed with you for hours. The home owner told me it is very good for marmalade and liquor.

As always Sandi Newman was a gracious host and my companion, Jane Marchand, was a welcomed passenger for the scenic ride. A tall Americano from Starbucks along with a sausage/egg breakfast sandwich and Jane’s bag of pumpkin bread helped fuel the positive energy.

This weekend we will again traverse 95 South to US 17. Our destination is a small family grove, just a bit further down the road from our first stop last week–it’s at 477 U.S. Hwy. 17 South in San Mateo. As always your presence is welcomed and the Tahoe has more than enough room to fill. Please contact me with any questions.

Your First Gleaning Update for 2012: Who Will Join Me?


Happy New Years to everyone! I hope 2012 finds you in good spirits in spite of any hardships or obstacles. The holiday was less hectic than I expected and time away with family served to purge and refocus the brain. A late Christmas gift was Sandi Newman’s email regarding gleaning opportunities in January. Hopefully you can join me for at least one of these.

Wednesday, January 4–8:30 a.m.–Murray Hill, Westside Jacksonville
Grapefruit gleaning

Saturday, January 7–8:30 a.m.–San Marco, Southside Jacksonville
Grapefruit, orange gleaning

Saturday, January 21–9:00 a.m.–Satsuma, Florida citrus gleaning
Grapefruit, oranges, tangerines
1 hour south of Jacksonville in the town of Satsuma, located south of Palatka

Making Christmas Real: Clara White Mission Families


The Clara White Mission is a great charitable organization which does more than just offer solace. They offer vocational training to help people help themselves out of their condition by giving something money cannot buy: Integrity and self-worth. It has been our privilege to be even a small part of their continuing work in Jacksonville, FL.

My wife, who coordinates this every year, sent out her official email detailing the three families that are in need of a Christmas miracle. Is miracle too strong? Maybe, but for those of us for whom life has not been as difficult (regardless of fault) it might be near impossible to fathom a season absent  of hope. A gift from a stranger speaks to something greater than the gift itself and quite possibly could tilt the eyes up. A little known fact: when eyes raise they bring with them the heart, mind and spirit. Crazy how the body works!

So here is her email. Beyond anything that could be bought, gently used books also make a nice addition. Clothing is not an item that has been requested. I know many of you may already be making Christmas special for someone in need but for anyone who can help here is an opportunity. You can respond to this post or contact me via Facebook/Twitter.

I am sending this to you as a Christmas request for help for families who have so much less than most of us do. If you are able to help, please let me know.

Clara White has shared three families that are in great need for Christmas. If you would like to purchase some items we are trying to get at least two toys for each child and a $25-$50 food gift card for each family as well.  We are shopping on Wednesday afternoon at Town Center Target and delivering what we can to Clara White Mission downtown on Thursday at 1:30p.m. I would be happy to wrap any donations, if you can drop them off to my house by Wed. night.

Simpson Family

Ms. Buffy Simpson, 35 years old, single mom, 3 kids

Nicholas, boy, 8 years old

Mariah, girl, 15 years old

Tengen, girl, 12 years old

Bennett Family

Margaret and David Bennett, wife 37, husband 41 (security officer)

struggling to make ends meet, new baby in the house

Victoria, girl, 3 years old

David, boy, 7 weeks old baby

Simmons Family

Andrea Simmons, 38 yr old single mom, 3 teens

Makarri, boy, 17 years old

Alicia, girl, 15 years old

Jasmin, girl, 10 years old

If you would like to pick a particular name/age and buy for that child, that would be great.

Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends


Image courtesy of http://www.cbc.ca/sevenwonders/

One of the difficult things about being a cynic are those moments of beauty which, like a religious experience, cannot be explained away. The moment washes over you and even upon reflection the desire to redefine it is absent of any appeal. When this happens the cynic can only smile and appreciate the hope which on other days would escape him. How can the mirror serve as a companion after this? Has it not become a judge which silently interrogates him at every glance? The poor cynic must forget, falling back on the comfort of his doubt and turn his gaze from every reflection.

And still his friends stand their guard.

This is a small celebration of their solidarity. This is a thank you. From the hallowed walls of Facebook, my timeline reads these. Some are direct or funny while others have a history or underlying meaning which requires explanation.  For example, when you read Chris Gandy’s it must be within the context of a fellow cynic returning the cursed blessings of the abyss we call Facebook. That he returned and “friended” me was a comical sigh of relief. Wade Baugher’s is one which has a nice depth to it.

Don’t get me started on the great pictures!

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