Treading Open Water

20150630_171647When it is the middle of summer in the great state of sunshine, the possibilities are endless. These are the days of jumping off of a dock somewhere or perhaps you prefer a cool, clear pool. If you travel anywhere near the beach, you are bound to see some visitors from my neck of the woods as we North Georgians flock to the Florida beaches every chance we get. For me, growing up in Frostproof, summer meant more time to fish. I have very fond memories of grabbing a coke and a bag of donuts from Harvey’s convenience store and falling back asleep in a boat as we traveled across a lake to the ‘sweet spot’ where all the bass were expected to be. We would fish until the sun ran us back ashore and I’d watch my dad clean our catch and prepare it for lunch.

Last week, I found a new love for Florida fishing adventures. I took my dad deep-sea fishing off the coast of Clearwater. I had the best time and am counting down the days until I can go again. I was able to learn a thing or two and have some tips I’d like to share on what to bring with you when you go and what can be left behind.

What to bring:

Sunscreen- Most boats have a shaded or inside area where you can hide from the bright rays if necessary. That being said, you don’t want to be stuck inside avoiding Mr. Sunshine while others are reeling in your catch.

Hat- I suggest a ball cap or other tight fitting hat. Even after the boat stops there is usually a breeze that kicks up off of the waves. The last thing you want to do is buy a new summer hat and watch as it sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Snacks- Many boats have food available for purchase, especially all-day charters. This is helpful when you want to sit down for a meal but while fishing, you will probably need a light snack and lots of water. You will want to get the all-clear to bring aboard your own small cooler so that you can have what you need to get you through the trip. I suggest several bottles of water and another beverage of choice. You can pack something light, like fruit and nuts or you can go ahead and fix up some sub sandwiches, depending on your usual appetite. Remember that you will have your hands in bait and hopefully fish as you’re snacking so you may want to consider bringing along a fork or at least some hand sanitizer.

What not to bring:

Your own equipment- These things are provided for you and while you may prefer your own, the crew that will be working the boat are familiar with theirs. If you end up needing help, you will want them to be able to get you fixed up quickly without cutting into your fishing time. *Note- most boats have banned braided line so even if you decide to bring your own rod, check before trying to bring this on board. The concern is tangling issues with your fishing neighbors as you can sometimes find yourself working closely with the fishermen beside you.

A banana- While I am not a superstitious person, many fishermen are. Bananas are considered to be bad luck when brought on-board a fishing trip and will get you a few looks. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, in the 1700s when boats would carry loads of bananas from one shore to another, they would have to move quickly to keep the bananas from spoiling in the sun. This meant very little time for the crews to fish and it was eventually assumed that the bananas were the reason no fish were pulled in. The other concern is that bananas cause your boat to sink. This also dates back to the same time period when many of the frail boats used to carry loads of bananas would sink under the weight, leaving hundreds of bananas floating in the water above the wreckage.

A firearm- Most boats simply do not allow them.

A fishing license- You won’t need to obtain your own license. Charter boats are equipped with all the proper licensing.

For more information about my trip, visit or search for Queen Fleet Deep Sea Fishing. If you have even the slightest interest in fighting a big fish into a boat with you, I highly recommend deep-sea fishing. Give it a try and let me know what you catch!

On the day you were born


Intimate reflection of a mother’s heart so perfectly worded. I’m left in tears.

Originally posted on Bloggin' Billy's:

On the day you were born nothing went according to my plan.

I had read What to Expect When You are Expecting.

I had dog-eared the pages.

I was prepared.


Let’s do this. Let’s gather together and welcome my daughter into this world.

My brother-whom you definitely would want by your side in any emergency situation-was by mine, as was my mother, and my dad until things got bad.

And they did, get bad.

We were known as the miracle birth, because we were both so close to death. I remember the nurse standing on a stool squeezing IV fluid into me . . . fast.

I was cold, so very cold.

I remember the doctor, shouting, “Bring me the baby! She needs to see her daughter!”

He was not my original OBGYN, but a stranger, because we needed-or so it seemed- every available doctor to bring you into this world.

Only you…

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5 Reasons Why It’s Great To Be A Writer Today

Originally posted on Dysfunctional Literacy:

He’s grinning because he hasn’t noticed any of his mistakes yet. (image via wikimedia) He’s grinning because he hasn’t noticed any of his mistakes yet. (image via wikimedia)

It’s easy for most writers to be negative.   It’s tough to make enough money to earn a living.   We’re never satisfied with what we’ve written.  No matter how many people read and respond to our work, it’s never enough.  But even with these challenges, it’s better to be a writer today than it’s ever been.

1. Writing is physically easier than it’s ever been.

Authors used to have to physically hold a pencil or a pen and physically write out each word on a sheet of paper.  Even worse, back in the really old days, writers had to dip quills into ink and then got beaten by monks if they made a mistake.

I’m not sure that ever really happened because there’s no ancient video footage of monks beating writers who made mistakes.  If there’s no…

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Writing to a Picture Prompt

Picture Prompt

I very much enjoy writing to a prompt. It is refreshing to narrow down your options a little and let creativity flow within the confines of said prompt! At our last Dalton Area Writers meeting, we all shared a picture that we had chosen and written about. I chose this photo for several reasons that all boil down to….because I liked it. I wrote a poem which is not my normal genre but I am working hard to stretch myself a little. I wanted my readers to feel as though the lady in the photograph was simply desiring to jump into the cool waters when in reality, she was speaking of jumping to her death. My purpose was to bring awareness to the hearts of those around us. Enjoy!

The water before me, just out of reach

Poetic refreshment, it whispers to me

I long for its depth, to know how it flows

I follow its moves, it carries so free

I stand upon the rocks

Its movements entice me

It grasps at my soul

We dance like we are free

I’m left with desire, the need to jump

The void inside, I beg now to fill me

Waiting. Wanting. Not yet completed

Pull back limitations, set us free

On the verge of fiendish iniquity

Will it open to receive me

I glance down at my objective

And leap just to be free

Submerged in its refuge

It now completes me

But soon awake to realize

My dream can never be

Gardening Tips from a Florida Girl: What NOT to do!

I’m talking about what NOT to do because I have yet to figure out what TO do. You see, I knew very little about gardening as a child. I knew that people grew flowers, like my grandparents, who had the most beautiful rose bushes growing in their front yard. I also knew that the neighbor down the street spent the start of every summer digging up row after row in his backyard and sometime later, leafy plants would appear. I also remember being at a particular friend’s house and seeing canning jars full of veggies swimming around in icky wetness but I just assumed her mother shopped at some kind of fancy grocery boutique.

Fast forward 25 years. Now living in Northwest Georgia, such ignorance is simply unacceptable. Walking the aisles of Wal-Mart about this time of year is when you start hearing things like,

“Have you got your tomatoes planted yet?”

“Naw, I hope I can still get a good bunch of em’ before the first freeze this year.”

I am completely lost in a conversation such as this and find myself hiding behind my canned tomatoes. Or a casual church conversation which goes about like,

“I sent some corn over to Betty. I had way too much and you know once that stuff starts poppin up, it just keeps on comin.”

“Yeah, I know. My garden was overrun with squash and beans last year. I darn-well couldn’t keep all the critters out for the free food layin around out there.”

Now, I can honestly say that I’ve never had free food laying around in my backyard but being a thrifty shopper, this sounded heavenly! Thus, I decided that if I wanted into this way of life, I was going to have to dig in and learn some stuff. I started asking my friends questions, visiting garden centers and local feed stores, and stopping by Farmer’s Markets to listen in on conversations to see if I could pick up any free tips. I have tried everything from a raised garden, to container gardening, to just throwing out a bunch of seeds to see what pops up. I have yet to pull anything edible out of the ground but I have learned a lot about my methods and why they don’t work. Here are some of my gardening life-lessons…

1. Seeds like to be babied.

I have tried starting seeds and have discovered that this takes way too much effort for me. My first attempt at growing seeds into plants was a disaster. I bought a cute little seed-starting greenhouse. All I had to do, according to the directions, was throw in a few seeds and watch em’ grow. I carefully placed 2-3 seeds into each little soil lined compartment and made sure they were nice and damp. I then was to spend the next month transporting these seeds out onto my back deck for the proper amount of sunshine each day while being sure they did not receive too much or too little water. Now, this doesn’t sound difficult but take a container which holds lots of soil and soak it all in water and what you have is a very heavy container. By the end of my treacherous month, I had dropped it twice and most of the seeds were eaten out of the container by birds who spotted them as they rose to the surface of the soil. I finally chunked the entire thing over the side of the balcony one day and made the hour-long trip to Costco to stock up on canned veggies.

2. Bugs suck.

I think that I could have had a good bit of something growing a few years back but my season-long toil quickly turned into an all-you-can-eat buffet for bugs. This wouldn’t have been so devastating had they eaten everything before I began to see some signs of life in my garden but they did not. They let me get my hopes up for almost an entire month. I started to see green leaves with little buds forming. I even caught a glimpse of a yellow pepper peeking through its little green flower petals. I sat back in my chair and marveled over my yummy success. I started planning my meals and preparing my dishes for all the vegetable goodness that was to come. But those meals would never appear on my table. Instead, they would fill the belly of a greedy insect and allow him to go on for another day.

3. Onions like to breathe.

I love onions. Despite my children’s protests and picket signs, I put them into everything I cook. Last year, I decided that I needed to learn to grow them. With my previous seed experiences, I chose to forgo that route and just bought bunches and bunches of plants. I figured that I would like to have about 30 onions to put away in the freezer so I would need 30 onion plants. I figured this one was easy. A no-brainer. I dug 30 holes, about a half-foot deep each and tossed in my onion plants. I was about a month away from the most glorious crop of oniony goodness anyone had ever seen.  Later that day, a friend stopped by to see my work.

“Where are the plants?” she asked.

“In the ground,” I replied.

“In the ground?”

“Yes, in the ground.”

“All the way? Like, you buried them?”

She assured me that they would pop up eventually. I waited and waited. I watered and watered and waited some more. The soil began to move and crack and my hard work and dedication began to pay off. I started to see the tops of my plants, poking through reaching for sunshine. But the onions never came. Days passed, weeks passed, months passed.

Winter seemed to take forever so when spring rolled around, I was ready for some sunshine. I decided to give this gardening thing another go. I would need to dig around a little, let my soil breathe and enjoy some sunshine before throwing in something new to kill off. But, much to my surprise, there was more than soil sitting under the top surface of my garden. In fact, there were 30 somethings sitting in there and boy did they stink! I knew growing onions would carry a smell through the neighborhood but 30 rotting ones was so much more than I could have prepared myself for. Three bottles of Febreeze later, I’m pretty sure nothing is going to grow in there again….and all of my neighbors hate me!

So, if you are thinking of starting your own garden this year, by all means, consider taking a class first. And if you have some great tips to share, email me!

Now, if you’ll excuse me…..I’m off to Costco….

Suess of the South

Born in 1904 in California, Seuss had a very successful writing career. Hated his work to be described using the word ‘whimsical’ and kept much of his life private while suffering from stage fright. His death in 1991 left a hole in the hearts of Seuss fans everywhere.

Growing up with a bookshelf full of Hop on Pop and Fox in Socks, I often re-read these classics and enjoy the way the words seem to roll off of my tongue so effortlessly. I can’t help but to imagine how these books might have sounded with a different catapult behind them….say….a southern one.

You can’t imagine what I’ve discovered living on Mulberry Street….Mulberry Street in Alabama, that is. There is plenty to see from yonder to me and you won’t quite believe what your mind will conceive. Front porches with hound dogs spread out across mats, only moving when needing to chase away gnats. Big fat aunt Berthas with moon pies in hand, wearing curlers and a moo-moo, kids playing in the sand. “Get yerself inside, do sumthin with yer hair…don’t make me get my switch and come after yer tail, hurry up and get in the car, Piggly Wiggly is havin a sale.”

You’ll see cats running wild and an occasional goat, the one on the corner always standing in a boat. He’s got nary a tail cause the bull chewed it good but he’s great entertainment for all the kids in the hood. On Saturday night you can try for 8 seconds….but little Billy counts slow, for his numbers, he don’t quite know. One second, two seconds, three seconds, four….but by then that billy goat done knocked you to the floor. Next time you’ll win it cause you got a plan….nail handle bars to those horns , the rules say you can!

And the visitors that visit cause quite a stir; often leaving reminders of visits and the things that occur, like the Cat in the Hat all covered with fur. He arrives in a Buick with camo-colored seats, his fur flyin out the windows, smoking cat-nip treats. Adjusting his overalls, he struts up to the house; a dip in his mouth, the size of a mouse. Behind him a box brought along for the ride, with a bright yellow sticker that reads “rednecks inside.” He opens the box and what do I see, two tiny little cowboys as tall as my knee. With belt buckles large, what was I to do? On those buckles I read “Redneck One and Redneck Two.” They were cussin like sailors, tobacco they’d spit and I was soon to discover that the little one bit. They let themselves in and started looking for food. They made quite a mess and were extremely rude. They plundered through the cupboards looking for the Spam, but all that they found were some green eggs and ham. “Were’s the mustards and cabbage?” they started to shout. “Fry up sum cornbread n taters,” I started to doubt….that this mess they were making would ever come clean, then that Cat in the Hat produced a bright shiny machine. “It’s a clean-a-nator 2000,” he pushed it my way….and as it turned on, I had nothing to say. That thing was here to hopefully save the day. It sucked up the rug but I didn’t mind, it was just an old one, a flea market find. That machine was a cleanin, fast as Nascar, it ran quicker than Lil Billy, that time he was kicked out of the bar. Soon that old trailer was nothing but shine and that machine headed out, it seemed just in time. But before it was gone, it did just what it had to do, it reached across the living room and sucked up Redneck One and Redneck Two.

Most never leave Mulberry Street; this is something that I know. But those that escape, oh, the places that they’ll go!! Most head up north cause the ocean is down…and they know they can’t swim and don’t

want to drown. Some head for the mountains and some for the hills, some end up in Arkansas, working in mills. Some try to fit in with folks from the city but they don’t drink sweet tea and that’s just a pity….one boy I know ended up in New York City. He tried drinking pop and reading real books…the kind with no pictures that are published on Nooks. He started combing his hair with a comb, very fine, and on days he felt fancy, he gave his tooth a great shine. He mended his undies and washed all his socks and put away all his collection of rocks and began collecting stamps, of which he became very proud, and burning his rebel flag brought in quite a crowd. He traded his truck for a nice Land Rover and found him a lady which he tried to win over. But his roots started showing whenever he spoke, when he told her bout momma and how she could toke. “She had learnt it in prison after she killed my dad, he had been kicked out of the circus and come home real mad. He got to fussin at maw and she had enough, she grabbed up her skillet and come at him rough. She gave him some whacks and a woop-ly-doos, and before he knew it she knocked him right out of his shoes.” Needless to say, that boy’s story was rejected and he headed back to Mulberry, just as I had suspected. As he rode into town, he looked up to see….an old oak with no branches, his family tree. He stopped and he smiled, he had made it back home. Where old cars lined the property and every yard had a gnome. Where you could spend your days counting one fish or two and if you got lucky, saw one in red or in blue. Where if you paid close attention Yertle the Turtle was near and if you listened real close you knew what Horton could hear. Where kids hopped on pop and visited Sam I Am and pockets were filled with wockets and little boys say yes ma’am.

Yes, God

There are countless records of God speaking to humans all throughout the Old and New Testaments.  In Daniel (5:5-9) God spoke a message of doom to Belshazzar using words written on a wall by the fingers of a man’s hand. In Jonah (chapter 2) God sends a clear message of correction to Jonah through the belly of a big fish. And in Genesis (32:22-32) God spoke to Jacob through a wrestling match which caused Jacob to have a displaced hip! But perhaps the sweetest, most amazing account was when God used His angel, Gabriel, to give Mary a message that would change everything, for all of humanity.

Luke 1:26 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”  Mary was young. Mary was poor. Mary was female. She was starting off with three strikes against her when you consider the society in which she was living. She would not have been seen as someone who God would use to bring into the world the most precious gift He had to offer. Yet He did choose Mary. Why? Perhaps because God saw into her heart and knew she was just the one to carry out such a heavy plan. Or perhaps He wanted to show that He can use anyone, even with strikes against them. Perhaps He knew that one day you would sit and read these words, feeling like a hopeless mess that isn’t any good to God. He isn’t looking for perfect. He isn’t looking at your education or your human abilities. He is looking for a sweet spirited Mary with the willingness that she displayed in verse 38 with the words, “Let it be to me according to your word.”

There isn’t any doubt in my mind that Mary’s mind was all over the place. The Bible shows her willingness but it never says her nerves were calm. She was at risk for losing everything.  Her peers would ridicule her and Joseph could very well have her stoned to death for committing adultery. The journey ahead of her would be one like no other mother in history until then or since has ever had to face. Her son; the little boy that was birthed in a lowly manger, peering up at her with the clearest of eyes, latching hold of her finger as he pierced her heart with his infant perfection; she would one day watch as he was mocked and beaten. She would watch him flinch under the cattails attached to a whip. She would see his body collapse in pain, no longer able to carry the cross he so undeservingly was sentenced to. She was there as he called out to God for the forgiveness of the very men who were putting Him to death. And she watched her beloved baby boy draw in His last breath before He gave up everything on a dark, gloomy hill as He swallowed up man’s sin once and for all.

But in that moment, as God’s messenger stood before her, Mary pondered what she knew. She knew she had a purpose. She knew that God wanted to use her. She knew that no matter what, He would be right there with her. God speaks to us and gives us what information we need for the moment that we are in. Mary knew that God had called her for something extraordinaire, something so much bigger than anyone could have ever imagined. And when God spoke to Mary, in her humble and willing heart she answered, “Yes, God.”

Here Are Some People to Inspire You to Write


I can always use a little inspiration!

Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:

We’re nearing the end of National Novel Writing Month and entering the season of giving thanks, so I thought I’d share a few presentations by writers to inspire you.

These are TED Talks – short (~20 minutes) inspirational talks you can find on YouTube for just about any topic you’d like.

Writing books: Elizabeth Gilbert – your elusive creative genius (author of Eat, Pray, Love)

We’re all creative.


Storytelling: Andrew Stanton – clues to a great story (Filmmaker – Toy Story, WALL-E)

Greatest story commandment is “make me care.”


 Poetry: Billy Collins – Everyday moments, caught in time (former U.S. Poet Laureate)

Bugs Bunny is his muse. <smile>

From poem &quot;Budapest&quot; From poem “Budapest”

Storytelling (~4 minutes): Joe Sabia – the technology of storytelling

You’ll remember the name Lothar Meggendorfer after this video.


Enjoy the videos! I hope they inspire.

Have a great week!

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor…

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