Saturday, August 29, 2009

under the sea...

The other day my husband came home from his summer Life guarding job at our city beach. It had mostly been an uneventful summer, which is good if your a lifeguard, no rescues, safe beach!
This day he told me a man had been "hit".
My heart sank. I asked "how bad?" "Pretty bad, through the ankle, just like you. He needed an i.v. for pain on the beach" . Oh dear.


Can you guess what we were talking about? It's the Stingray. A cousin to the shark, very beautiful to look at and even good to eat in some parts of the world. But you never want to come in contact with it and it's razor sharp barbs. In the above photo you can see how the stingray settles itself down to rest and feed on the ocean bottom. Sometimes they are covered entirely. So even if you were looking you might miss one and step on it. Which is what happened to the man the other day...and a few years ago, me...

map of stingray territory, they prefer warmer water
It is not my intention to scare anyone, I only want to share with you what I know. It's a simple and easy thing to protect yourself at the beach, there's something you can do, it's called the stingray shuffle. Have you heard of this? You simply shuffle your feet on the ocean floor (or stamp them). The idea is to give warning to the unsuspecting stingray, he'll leave after feeling the vibration announcing your arrival. He really doesn't want to sting (stab), it's only his defense mechanism at work.

In 1999, my husband, then boyfriend, and I went for a paddle, here in the seaside town where we live. After kayaking north for about a mile we decided to beach our boats to have a swim and a rest in the warm sand. I was first to the beach and so I was the first back out in the ocean for a dip.
It happened so fast and with so much force at first I thought a shark had got me. I was in waist deep water and blood was already rising to the surface. I looked towards shore and saw Chuck lying there in the sand. I tried to call him. Like in a bad dream, my voice wouldn't work. I was sure by then if I didn't leave the water immediately, I would be eaten. With a throbbing ankle and in slow motion I finally made it to the shore, fear my only motivator. Chuck took one look at me and said "Stingray" and then he said "We've got to get back". He looked at the boat and said "Can you paddle?"
At this point the poison had worked its way up to the top of my thigh. Blood had completely saturated a beach towel we'd wrapped around the injury. I was NOT going back in the water, therefore, I would NOT be paddling. Chuck had no patience for me since we were trapped and there was no other way out. He insisted I get back in the water, by now the waves were coming up and I prayed I wouldn't tip over as I pushed through them, by now in shock. As soon as I got past the break line I waited for Chuck to catch up to me. He tied our boats together and paddled us into the wind, towards home.

Chuck carried me into the E.R., I remember the nurses saying I looked like a mermaid. That would have been great in another situation, but I don't think my new boyfriend was impressed, I've never been in so much pain in my entire life. And I've had babies. With no medication, one even born at home. It was unbelievable. We spent hours at the emergency room, my leg first sunk in a big bucket of scalding water. The heat deactivates the venom. I wanted it hotter. Later, I would have 2nd degree burns on part of my leg, but that was nothing for the pain of the stingray poison. I was hit so hard that the barb went in one side of my ankle and nearly exited the other side. It was complete agony when they had to clean the wound to remove any lurking barbs that may have broken off. That's when we discovered how deep it went.
"The stingray's spine, or barb, can be ominously fashioned with serrated edges and a sharp point. The underside may produce venom, which can be fatal to humans, and which can remain deadly even after the stingray's death. In Greek mythology, Odysseus, the great king of Ithaca, was killed when his son Telegonus, struck him using a spear tipped with the spine of a stingray."

It was a long recovery. Infection set in. I guess this is common when unknown bacteria enters our bodies. Weeks of crutches, limping, pain... I remembered from my childhood, (when I first learned the shuffle) my Dad had told us about the dangers of a stingray encounter. He used to spend alot of time in Baja, Mexico, with his diving buddies. He told us it was the only time he'd ever seen a grown man cry. They had no cure then, the poor guy could only ease his pain with whisky or tequila.

Finally I had to have surgery. That was a bit of a problem right there since no one knew just what to do, some didn't even know what a stingray was! If I didn't have permanent damage (nerves and such, the ankle is a complicated place) this would be a fun story to tell. Well, it's still fun and maybe the reason it happened to me is so I could tell everyone Shuffle your feet! It took me a long time before I would go in the water again. I shuffle without fail nowadays.





"Clyde Stewart, 72, said he didn’t know what hit him when he was fishing for bait near Balgal Beach, AU on Tuesday afternoon.
A stingray came out of nowhere and skewered him just below the knee. He looked down all he could see was blood pouring out of his overalls. The barb tore through Stewart’s heavy-duty industrial overalls, hitting the bone. Ew.
He was taken to Townsville Hospital for surgery. Stewart said the pain was so excruciating that doctors could have just cut his leg off and he wouldn’t have cared." http://www.swimatyourownrisk.com/

Here is part of my collection, I have stuffed stingrays, wooden stingrays, stingray bookmarks, stingray cards, even a stingray charm. I am sorry I stepped on that stingray that day, I must have landed on him pretty hard for him to have got me so good. I used to worry if I hurt him. Do you think he tells his side of the story? The day he was stepped on by a mermaid? ;)


♥ lori
p.s. don't forget to shuffle your feet...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
p.p.s. This morning I came across an article in Audubon magazine, I had to add:
" The cow-nosed ray is armed with a venomous tail spike, as Captain John Smith learned in 1608 when he stabbed one with his sword near the Rappahannock River (Massachusetts). The ray stabbed back with a very palpable hit to Smith's shoulder, causing such intense pain that his crew dug a grave for him. By evening, however, Smith had improved enough to eat the ray for his supper. The scene of this duel is still known as Stingray Point."
yikes.

47 comments:

  1. I am afraid of all sea creatures. Even little fish. I dont know why. I have some odd phobias.

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  2. What an amazing story, Lori. I have never heard about the shuffle - but I know about it now! They really cause a ton of damage, and then have a venom too. Wow!

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  3. That must have been awful! If I ever get down that way I will be sure to shuffle my feet! I did step on a jelly fish in Cape Cod when I was little. That wasn't to pleasant.

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  4. Lori,
    I have heard of the stingray shuffle and have done it a couple times. I'm glad you are fine.And who could forget... poor Steve Irwin? Sting Ray through the heart!

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  5. Wow, Lori!!!!!! How scary! I guess Chuck has a thing for mermaids eh? Good advice, thank you Darling.xx♥

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  6. I knew there was a reason I don't like swimming in the sea!!!
    Wonderfully told story, was engrossing.
    xx

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  7. Lori, you poor mermaid. When I was 18 I think I stepped on a catfish while swimming in a Minnesota lake and that hurt. I'm sure it doesn't compare to a stingray barb. I'll remember the stingray shuffle from here on. Now I'm grateful that the sea around Ireland is so cold.

    It was interesting to find out that we share the experience of a home birth. I had my last child at home in Ireland.

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  8. You're right - it turned out to be a great story to tell. Don't you find that some of the most difficult situations we encounter - at the time they are occurring are horrendouse - but afterwards they make the best stories to tell. That is something I remind myself of when I find myself in a miserable situation. Thanks for sharing Lori Mermaid -- not only was it a delightful tale - I think you may have helped prevent someone from being injured. I didn't know about the shuffle!

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  9. I wish I could see the faces of the other stingrays when they hear HIS story! "You were stepped on by a mermaid? They have no feet, silly!" haha. You are right Lyn, these awful encounters make the best stories! Poor Bonnie Mermaid Lori, what all have you been through! You seem to never run out of new adventures to fascinate us with!
    And I always thought California was the land of my dreams! But with stingrays on the beach, doubt comes creeping in! We only have the occasional harmless jellyfish and sometimes a cute ladybug plague!

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  10. dear mermaid, ;-)

    thank you for the lesson (shuffling)
    will keep in mind.

    what a wonderful delivery, Lori,
    so glad we decided to visit today.

    though the subject is not a happy one,
    hope the guy recovers well and soon,
    your story-telling is in full swing,
    kept us interested and wanting more.

    thanks again for sharing with us.

    ..
    .ero

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  11. Fascinating! Now I understand more about how this creature got Steve Irwin! My word, you really had a tough time with this.

    Another reason I have a great respect for the sea. I'm not the biggest fan of swimming in it.

    xxx

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  12. In the Little Mermaid, they sing "Everything's better where it is wetter, under the sea". . . methinks not

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  13. You are a well of adventurous stories, Lori!

    Wow, I had no idea things could get this bad with sting rays. You actually had to get surgery, that's amazing.

    I have "Shuffled" ever since I can remember. Summers spent on the Amalfi coast meant watching out for sea urchins hidden in the rocks, or jelly fish floating about, but whenever we'd change locations and go to the local sandy beaches around Rome, wading in knee-high water always entailed shuffling.

    I have never heard of sting rays around these parts (although your map says otherwaise), but the great danger were weeverfish. The poisonous spines on their dorsal fin and gills cause horrid pain, the venom turns your blood orange. They too, like sting rays bury themselves in sand, so shuffling is a must.

    I love your drawings and journal entries.
    ~Lola xx

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  14. Good grief! I had no idea a stingray was that dangerous! Shuffle on, dear woman ... shuffle on!

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  15. Dear lifestudent,
    I have phobias too, oh yes! although i've tried not to let the stingray be one,I love the ocean!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Nancy,
    Well, now I am relieved, i do not want you to step on one!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Lorac,
    they can be found in many places, I know they prefer warm water. I think it's good to know.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Hi Misty,
    Your right, Steve Irwin was the extreme example of just how dangerous they can be. On the other end you can just get a little nick (the venom is still excruciating) but in a day or two be back to normal.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Natsy, thank you, sending big hugs your way, will email you later. xoxoxo
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Mandy,
    Oh I didn't want to scare you, only inform, beaches won't put up signs since that wouldn't be good for tourism. I like to know.Thank you though for the kind words.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Aden,
    I hope i don't step on a catfish now! It sounds painful. I wrote a post about my son's homebirth, one of my best memories ♥ I can't believe it was 27 years ago!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Lyn,
    Yes, I completely agree. I do the same thing, in the moment, it's hard, but what else can you do? thank you so much for the kind words.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Geli,
    haha! i was thinking of the little mermaid, you know where she changes into a person, but still a mermaid. No no! please don't think any differently, it IS the land of dreams I think,and stingrays are found everywhere. We have ladybugs(i know you like these) and jellyfish too!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Bare eyed Sun, thank you and your welcome. I hope for the man's speedy recovery also! sometimes it's much less tramatic, after a day or two (once the venom leaves)it's back to normal.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Janet,
    It's interesting you say that. After Steve Irwin was tragically killed I had so many people say to me OH THAT'S what you were talking about! Even here at the beach people don't know. I can only think that even though they are out there, it's not that common to get stung.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Lola,
    the surgery was to repair tendon and nerve damage. I was on the extreme end of what can occur. The surgeon told me had just removed a barb that had migrated up a persons leg! ugg. thank you dear for the compliment. Did you make your U.S. journal? i will email you.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dear Helen,
    from now on, believe me! and if i can see them, i stay on the beach!

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  16. What a crazy story and one thing that sticks with me is that it is the sharks cousin.

    By the way you didn't tell us you could draw so wonderfully.

    Thank you for the love.

    Love Renee xoxo

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  17. I'm beginning to think that walking down the street with you could become an adventure. If you were a cat, how many lives do you suppose you have managed to escape with? Without a doubt, Chucks quick and persistent actions are one of the key reasons you are here to relate these adventure to us. One can only imagine the blinding pain you must have been in that day. I hope the fellow on the beach is also recovering as well. Another one of the sea creatures to watch out for along the waters edge are the almost invisible Jellyfish. I came very close to interfering with one of those guys off the coast of Maine. Fortunately for me, somebody grabbed me from behind at the last second. Hope your other ailments are on the mend.

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  18. Dear Renee,
    your welcome dear ♥.
    The funny thing is I think your chances of an encounter with a stingray are more than with a shark and everyones afraid of sharks!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Bogey,
    thanks, I do hope the other guys encounter was less severe and he's now feeling much better. As for me, it was entirely my fault, i did not do the shuffle! oh, did you know meat tenderizer works wonders on jellyfish stings? just in case!

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  19. Oh Lori, how beautifully you write - I was wincing in sympathy all the way through. Ow ow ow! I'm petrified of sea creatures/fish etc etc. My sister enjoys scuba diving; I can't imagine doing it. Although I do love Nemo :)

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  20. I did not realise you'd been stung by a sting ray. I used to stand over the beach in Castillo and watch them hover by the rocks at low tide. We also used to barbecue their wings. No one that I can think of has ever been caught by one in Castillo I guess they must already feel a lot of vibration from the tourists and not settle too close to the beach

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  21. Oh my... this is very scary. I think I will hit the water shuffling if I ever go for a swim in the sea again!! They are quite amazing creatures, aren't they? very worthy of respect..

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  22. Lori, when I told my daughter about this post she got so interested on it and we searched for many other sea creatures that could hurt . She loves the sea and water but now she knows that she has to respect and be careful too.
    How scary it was for you, the only "not so good" thing I guess is that you do have a great experience story to tell .Take care Lori Mermaid!

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  23. Hi Lori

    as I paddle on my board around the water ways I see many stingrays and give a little shudder knowing how one took Steve Irwin's life so quickly...

    Has your ankle fully recovered...

    I think we might be wonky ankle sisters...

    Happy days

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  24. oh lori ann, this is an incredible story. i could not stop reading, which says everything about your writing ability.

    after spending most of my summer bobbing in the atlantic ocean, i will now add shuffling to my routine and i will think of you with every shuffle move!

    xo
    kj

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  25. You lead such an adventurous life. I always learn interesting tidbits from your posts. May you laptop (and you!) stay healthy.

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  26. oh my goodness!! reading that makes me want to hurl! thankgoodness your husband was able to get you to the ER fast. holy crap! thank you for teaching us the shuffle...something i will now remember.

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  27. Oh my dear lord... This kind of story scare the 'you know what' out of me...Arghh!!! It makes me think of Steve Irwin... it was such a shock when he passed her from a stingray barb...

    Big love to you my friend,

    M

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  28. Jeannie,
    I agree, scuba is not for me either, but you know this can happen in very shallow water as you walk along the beach. I really don't like to scare anyone, but I think it's good to know. It's good to see you posting again.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sammi,
    Yes, usually they'll shy away from populated beachs, where there is less vibration, but not always! do they taste good?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Karen,
    good,shuffle! they are really beautiful creatures, so graceful in the water. It's a shame the sting is so intense.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Mina,
    That's so lovely that you could take it as an opportunity to teach your little girl. It's always good to learn respect as well as awe for nature.

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  29. Delwyn,

    What has happened to your ankle? No, my injury is permanant, too many severed nerves and tendons. Some days it hurts worse than others, but i've gotten good at ignoring it!What happened to Steve Irwin was such a shock, such a tragedy, so sad.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Thanks Kj,
    I hope you keep happiliy bobbiling and never have to meet up with a stingray! I know for a fact that none reside at Blogland Lane!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Pat,
    Thanks! I'll be right over, since losing my laptop, i lost many contacts, i have you again!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sorry Kavita!
    at least i didn't post a pic of my ankle all sewed up! now that would have really made you hurl, haha!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sorry Maithri!
    I know, it's not the kind of thing we want to hear, I know that Steve Irwins death, so tragic, made people aware, and that was a good thing.

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  30. Ciao again,
    I'm here because Gmail is down tonight. Just as I was sending you a 12pg reply, it went down- I was wondering if you got it...

    Thanks for the love, mermaid.

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  31. Very well-written post. I have always been fascinated by stingrays. Thanks for sharing this.

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  32. Wow, the shuffle is really good advice, a bit like making a noise when you're in the bush and snakes may be lurking. Sounds like an horrific experience though - and as Misty says, who could forget poor Steve Irwin.
    In the Maldives they feed the rays for tourists and let tourists feed the rays too - you can see they're quite friendly, docile creature, but like any creature, give it a fright or upset it in some way and it will do what comes naturally - and defend itself. Just glad you were eventually okay after your encounter! xx

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  33. Wow, the shuffle is really good advice, a bit like making a noise when you're in the bush and snakes may be lurking. Sounds like an horrific experience though - and as Misty says, who could forget poor Steve Irwin.
    In the Maldives they feed the rays for tourists and let tourists feed the rays too - you can see they're quite friendly, docile creature, but like any creature, give it a fright or upset it in some way and it will do what comes naturally - and defend itself. Just glad you were eventually okay after your encounter! xx

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  34. aha! speaking of blogland lane, when are you coming? how will i know it's you?

    sometimes anticipation gets the best of me.... :)

    xo

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  35. Dear Lori,
    I am so happy you are okay! My goodness the Stingray is an amazing creature.
    Thank you for telling me about the shuffle...I live far from the beach but I do love to travel. From now on when I beach walk it will be the beach shuffle...
    Wow amazing story...
    Sherry

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  36. whoa-- as we're Great Lakes folks heading to the ocean in a few weeks, this is a very good reminder! I'm so sorry you ever went through such pain, but I do have to say, your notebook illustrations of the whole ordeal are lovely...;)

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  37. Lori you should seriously be doing art because your colours and everything are so beautiful.

    How are you feeling dear friend.

    I keep worrying about you and the kids with the fires over there.

    Remember when the kids were away and I worried about them all week when you told me there was a fire there.

    Love Renee xoxo

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  38. OMG. Lori!! What a terrible story, told so beautifully with images and words. I'm so sorry that happened to you. YIKES.

    I'm shuffling my feet right now and I'm nowhere near an ocean.

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  39. Oh my, what a story/encounter you had. You are truly a survivor mermaid, Lori, lived to tell the story.

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  40. My goodness, I was there with you. Thank God your husband could think quickly and get you out of there, will your ankle ever be OK again, perhaps with better informed care?

    I am so sorry and can't imagine the pain. Thank you for actually sharing this warning with us, from one who loves the ocean too, this shuffle is new to me.

    How sweet of you to think of the stingray after all that? God bless you, love, x.

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  41. Hi Lori, I promise I will always do the Stingray Shuffle. Fantastic informative post. I am sorry that you had to suffer so much to write it. I've been thinking about you a lot lately and wondering about your mystery ailment. I hope things have improved.

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  42. I'm shuffling Lori, I'm shuffling, I know I'm not actually in the sea, but I'm still shuffling...!

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  43. Lola, ♥
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Des,
    i'm glad to know I could share a little information! don't forget to shuffle!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Nicky,
    I know about those stingray feeders, I really want to know whats up with that. Like snakes, your right. I love them all from afar!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ah kj,
    i'm getting my energy up for the move, wait'll you see my little tiny home!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sherry,
    I'm glad to know I could help. They do love the shallow, warm water...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Thanks Kate!
    Chances are you'll never meet one, I think it's just good to know. Enjoy your trip to the sea!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Renee,
    you know I love you?

    don't worry for us, we are in Santa Barbara county and the fires are in L.A. But we can all say a prayer for those poor folks and animals. They suspect arson. terrible.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Reya,
    that's funny. I can picture you. hottie shuffler. ;)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Rosaria,
    thank goodness. And i hope I don't meet anymore.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Clarity,
    I'm glad you know now, even if you never need to use it, it's better to be aware i think. I've tried everything, my ankle is permanent i guess. The pain is like a distant river, i'm aware of it always but it doesn't affect my life, really. thank you ♥
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Hi Jeri!
    thank you, i'll be by for a visit soon. We're getting closer to ending this mystery...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Joanne,
    oh we must do this shuffle for life musn't we? there are so many things to avoid, I hope you only step in rosepetals now my friend.

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  44. Wow... I'm so pleased that you are alive to tell this tale!

    It's making my ankle hurt :)

    x Ribbon

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  45. Great story Ms. Mermaid. Sorry for your pain.
    LL

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  46. i will shuffle from now on!!! yikes... i just read your comment on my blog from the yarn along - thank you - your minutae are adorable! then i became interested in your blog because i am a native to southern california - a UCSB grad - and a carpinteria lover. read the shark article and then this one... i worry about sharks and other sea creatures here. thanks for this great info. excited to have found your blog via yarn along too! will have to look some more - your knits are wonderful!

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  47. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (even if they're dating somebody else now) you have to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Why your ex will NEVER come back...

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xoxo lori