Friday, November 27, 2009

The two Most Interesting People in the World - or How we Spent Thanksgiving Day

Well, here it is, December 12th and I'm finally getting around to posting November 27th - Thanksgiving Day.  We put the boat in a slip in St. Augustine, rented a car and drove to Live Oak, Florida to visit the two most interesting people in the world; Jimmy and Cherry Carter.  This post is mostly about them and only incidentally about our Thanksgiving.

First, I'd like to introduce Jimmy:

This is Jimmy Carter.  He was never President.  But he ran once.  Seriously.  He had no campaign funds, he received no votes, except mine as a write in.  Here he is modeling his 'Road Kill Hat.'

Here is a better picture of the 'Road Kill Hat.'  That long curvy thing on the top is a raccoon penis.  Odd? Perhaps.  Interesting?  To me, yes. I know Jimmy.  To others, maybe a little 'turn-offish.'  But stick with us here.

Jimmy is also an accomplished artist.  A little story about this picture:  11 or 12 years ago, when we had our boat at Fort Pierce City Marina in Florida (before the hurricane blew most of it away) I came down the pier and saw a small crowd of people were gathered and watching something.

I approached to get a better view and there was Jimmy, sitting on a small stool with his easel in front of him painting the details of this pelican.  Next to the easel stood a pelican.  Next to the pelican was a fish.  On the fish was tied a string.  The other end of the string was tied to Jimmy's toe.  When the pelican would go for the fish, Jimmy would move it, adjust his easel and stool and continue painting.  Both the pelican and Jimmy were seemingly oblivious to the crowd they were gathering.

This is a photo of the finished product.  If you'd like to see more of Jimmy's artistry click here.

Jimmy also plays guitar, sings (beautifully, I might add) and plays the saw (also, beautifully) and writes music.  When we were in Ft. Pierce, Jimmy and I would get together and play and sing together.(I also play guitar and sing -well, a little.) When Jimmy would start playing his saw, the haunting melodies would travel across the marina and in no time we'd have a small audience.

Here's a picture of me with Jimmy trying to teach me how to play the saw.  I didn't do too well.  While he plays haunting melodies, I played daunting maladies.

This is Jimmy and Cherry's water buffalo herd, listening to Jimmy play.

This is Jimmy and Cherry's Water Buffalo herd listening to me play.  More about the Water Buffalo herd later.

More about Jimmy.  We first met Jimmy just before he had met Cherry.  He was living on a small sailboat at the marina.  Jimmy does not know how to sail.  He does not know anything about boating.  He asked us how we hinge our mast so we could get under bridges.  It was his next project.  We explained about opening bridges and he abandoned his project.

At the time, he had just finished living for a year as a homeless person.  Just so he could see what it was like.  He lived under bridges and the other homeless taught him how to find food - the schedules when restaurants were tossing out perfectly good food.  He didn't need to be homeless - he had a job.  He just wanted to see what it was like.  I never found out how he managed to shower and get dressed for work each day, but Jimmy is always resourceful.

As you can see from the sign above, he has learned from his past experience of running for president, he's starting at the bottom this time and not the top.  I think he would have made a good president - he never 'lusted in his heart', was never attacked by a killer rabbit and never encountered a UFO.

Now a little about Cherry.  Cherry was educated as a nutritional-anthropologist.  A mouthful, so to speak.  That means she studies people's cuisine, not digs through ancient garbage piles, that would be a nutritional archeologist.

During several trips to Mexico, she spent a lot of time back in the 1980's traveling to Mayan villages which were far beyond modern roads where the Mayan Indians lived much as they did 600 or 800 years ago.  The research she did resulted in a cookbook, which is as much an anthropological study on the ancient Mayan culture as it is a cookbook.

This is the result of her  research.  It makes a fascinating read.  Though it is out of print you may purchase a copy of your own through Amazon - click here.

Here is a photo of her which I copied out of her book - I hope she doesn't sue me for copyright violations.
Interesting story she told us which happened while she was there. She was planning on getting married -to husband # 1, I think- and wanted a Mayan Shaman to perform the ceremony.  She hiked from one village to the next, talking to the shamans and asking but each refused - until one shaman, thinking like the others that this was just an American trying to be trendy, challenged her.  He told her if she could find the traditional roots and plants used in the Mayan marriage ceremony that he would do it, feeling sure that she would have no clue.  "Not a problem," she responded, "I have them in my tent."  She went and got them, returned and presented them and he had no choice but to perform the marriage.  And he did.

This is a sketch she made of the home she lived in while she was researching the Mayans.

Not only is she a talented artist, as you can see, her writing style is also very evocative. She opens her book with,

"There is a magnetic ambiance about the land: miles and miles of sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and blue-green lagoons give way to a sweeping tapestry of gentle jungle green.  Dusty sage, subtle olive and apple jade trace the boundaries of well-tended fields.  The jungle throbs with mystery - lost cities, buried treasure and strange mythical creatures.  This is the land of the Mayab - a magical place for me."


When we first met Cherry she was living on a sailboat, a Tayana 37, at Ft. Pierce City Marina.  She, like Jimmy, didn't know how to sail.  She also doesn't know how to swim.

The first time we saw her was from behind as she walked down the dock toward her boat.  She was a tiny thing with a bouncing blond pony tail.  We thought she was very young and told our daughters who were with us at the time that they should go introduce themselves to someone near their own age.  It turned out that Cherry is actually older than we are, though at the time she looked much younger.  How she came to live on a boat was another interesting story, her husband, I don't know, number 3 or number 4, wanted to go cruising on a sailboat.  He didn't know any more than she about boats.  But they bought a Tayana 37 and hired a Captain to bring it down the Intracoastal Waterway with them to Ft. Pierce  (If I remember correctly they bought it in St. Augustine.)  Anyway, they ran aground several times, and scared the bejabors out of Cherry.

Sometime between that incident and when we met Cherry her husband went bonkers and was arrested while taking pot shots at people from a hotel room.  He's either in jail or the loony bin. We don't ask about that.  So that's how she ended up living alone on a boat.  With her entourage - a parrot or three, a cat, a dog, a rabbit, and the occasional iguana (no exaggeration - an iguana  - later, actually two.)

That's when she met Jimmy.  A perfect match.  Jimmy eventually moved aboard with her.  Jimmy was doing diving to supplement his living.  He cleaned bottoms of boats and collected tropical fish - he had a large aquarium on the dock by their boat.

We left Ft. Pierce and occasionally kept in contact with Jimmy and Cherry.  Suzi called once and talked to Jimmy for 15 minutes or so when he said, "I really should get going, I've gotta get dressed.  Cherry and I are getting married in half an hour and I've got to sing her down the aisle."  He had written a song for her as I remember.

We saw them again in St. Augustine about four years ago.

And we didn't see them again until this Thanksgiving.  They had moved off of the boat and sold it.  Another (!) interesting story - Cherry's family owned an island in Belieze (a central American country for you geographically challenged) and they sold it a few years ago to, get this: Leonardo DeCaprio and either Robert DeNiro or Robert DuVaul (she can't remember which).

Anyhow they bought 40 acres near Live Oak (central north Florida) and started a farm.

Not your ordinary farm with ordinary animals.  Not Jimmy and Cherry, are you kidding me?

They raise exotic birds - these, I believe, are cockateils. (No clue how that's spelled)


I don't even know what this is...


Some other kind of big white bird with a plume...


Cats who don't know that they're cats and get along well with birds.

inside dogs...

and outside dogs...

Dogs that hug...

little dogs that herd cattle, like this one who is

mother to these and several more whose eyes are just opening.  These are outside dogs  and the mom is raising them in a hole she dug under a pile of bush and grass clippings.

A young highland cow.  Jimmy and Cherry recently returned from a trip to Scotland where Cherry fell in love with the Highland cows and just had to have one.  When fully grown, the forehead hair will have grown like bangs to cover the eyes.

And goats.  Now you know where the term goatee comes from.  Maybe you already knew that, but I can't take chances with the growing extent of ignorance in the world.


And, of course, last, but not least, a small herd of water buffalo.  We aren't sure how many head of water buffalo that they have because we're not sure how to count...

this one.  Hmmmmm....

Thanksgiving dinner was delightful.  A friend of theirs brought over a very large turkey which he had raised on his farm.  The wing kept falling off anyway, so they cooked it along with many, many other sumptuous items on the menu, all of which we're grown by Jimmy and Cherry or friends and neighbors of theirs.

Here's Cherry performing a special incantation over a large kettle of her father's recipe for mashed potatoes, including bacon, green onions, goats milk (fresh out of the goat) and it was Ummmmm good!

You might think that Cherry loves cooking - once you see her kitchen.  Double oven, double refrigerator, huge (room sized) pantry. And much more.

Suzi helped Cherry in the kitchen.

Jimmy and friend John (who brought the turkey) digest.

While friend Scott admired their parrot.

And made friends with it as well.  The parrot usually will not allow men to touch it but Scott had no problem.  Cherry cast allusions about his manhood, but all was taken in good humor.

Even I made friends with one of the smaller ones.  This one is teaching me the proper use of human fingers as he walks from one to the other.  He tried to bite me, stupid little pecker, but I'm tough and it didn't hurt much.

Cherry always cooks with wine and liquors.  Sometimes she adds some to the food.

Besides the farm, Jimmy and Cherry host the Ravens Roost Ranch and Retreat - as it says on the sign on the side of their car.  Jimmy took us on tours through the retreat area as well as showing us his farm duties.

Here are some of their ducks and chickens.  Either that or its a Senate Committee meeting.  How would one know?

But Senators need to be fed and Suzi got the honors.  While I took a picture of her cute butt.

Next, Jimmy gathered the goats for milking.

and prepared to milk them - and iodine solution on the teats, he explained.

Some food to keep them quiet on the noisy end...

while he milks the udder end.

with those suction gadgets that you slide up and magically clamp on.  It doesn't seem to bother them - maybe they even enjoy it.  I have no idea - I don't know much about goats, though I have been accused on occasion of being an old one.

A stroll around the grounds reveals Jimmy's artistic and unique taste.  Here he hung what I think was a piece of driftwood as a decoration.

What could be cuter than a baby duckling?

Two baby ducklings.  Exactly twice as cute.  You do the math.

Somehow, the skull of Richard Nixon came into their possession.

Other deceased politicians' skulls grace their garden.  Both macabre and beautiful at the same time.  I'd feel badly if they were the skulls of regular people.   Did you know that there are many more dead people than there are live ones?  So, statistically, the odds are good that you're dead.

I have no idea who or what this is.  So instead of talking about it I'll give you another one to ponder:
The vast majority of people on the earth have greater than the average number of limbs.  (Again, you do the math.)

Some birds don't like flash pictures.  Interesting factoid.

Cherry is a practicing Buddhist (more on this a little later) so there's this monk guy in her garden.  He must have taken a vow of silence, even though I posed many intriguing and philosophical questions to him, he remained totally mute.  A tribute to his deep religious training and convictions, no doubt.  Or maybe he was stoned.

These guys were just funny.  I mean they knew how to tell a joke.   I didn't get any of them though, cause I don't speak the language - but I could tell that they were funny.

Jimmy took us on a tour through the retreat - there are many stops with colored globes that represent different shakra - and they have healing properties in different areas.  Jimmy said this one was good for backache.

This one was supposed to be good for pains in the feet and lower extremities.  But I tripped over it and Jimmy said it may not be working right and he's planning on sending it somewhere to have it looked at.

Here's another picture of their parrot.  I forget its name, but I think it should be Alfred Dimwiddy Snopnoodle.  The have one that says "Good Morning" repeatedly all morning.  Then in the afternoon he stops (how does he know?)  In the afternoon he screams, "Let me outta here!"  I am not kidding.

Continuing our tour we come up on this pile of rocks.  I think it supposed to be good for ailing memory.  I really can't remember.

There are two sinkholes on the property.  Florida is famous for sinkholes.  Well, maybe it's really famous for sunshine, but they do have a lot of sinkholes but that's not why people come here.  But it's why Jimmy and Cherry chose this particular property.  Cherry didn't care so much but Jimmy said he always wanted to own a sinkhole.

We came across several of these butterflies - native to the area, actually native to Jimmy and Cherry's forty acres.  Jimmy said this one is gay.  The other ones I saw didn't look that depressed, so I'm not sure how he could tell.

Another ball on the path.

And another.  I don't know what they do.  Hell, I don't even know what mine do for sure, but I know it's important to have them.  Maybe they keep the forest from speaking in a high-pitched voice.

These are two of the worker chickens. They're standing on their tool bag.  I didn't see them actually working - they were on break when we passed, but you could easily see that they were doing a good job.

And now we get to my favorite part.  The herd of Water Buffalo.  The one on the left is Mary, that's Jake on the right.  They don't really have names - at least they didn't until right this moment, but I felt that they were really good conversationalists and deserved to have names.

Anyway, I was regaling them with tales of the sea - they feigned rapt attention and my tales were so interesting that several others joined in.

I wondered what the chuckles were about - I wasn't at a particularly funny part of my story - when Mary mentioned quietly to Jake, "You know, he's standing in a big pile of water buffalo poop.  (hee hee hee.)
I had paused to catch my breath and heard the comment.  I tried to take it good-naturedly though - it's a farm after all - and we all had a good laugh.  They, more than I, because I knew I was going to have to explain the odor later to Suzi.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Suzi took this photo of one of their pieces of art - purchased many years before in South America.

And that concludes our visit with the World's Two Most Interesting People.  If you still don't think so, here's another interesting tidbit:  Cherry, while researching for another anthropological cookbook, toured Nepal and the Himalayas, traveling by Yak and other exotic means of transportation.  She met the Dalai Lama and stayed for two days with him.  (Remember I mentioned she was a Buddhist - this is the 'more on that later' part.)  She was given the same room that Richard Gere had slept in (he also being a Buddhist).  Her dilemma - there were two beds in the room - so she slept in one one night and the other on the second night.  Just so she could say she slept in the same bed as Richard Gere.  She said hopes her timing is better next time - he wasn't there.

If you know anyone more interesting - please introduce us.

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