Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Uh oh..."

This past Saturday, a crisp, breezy day in the Osceola National Forest, was the first full day my dad and I spent at the Battle of Olustee Reenactment. We had spent the first part of the morning wandering around the various sutlers, walking part of the Florida Trail, and just enjoying the beautiful weather...more on that stuff later. When the time came for the "unofficial" reenactment (the true, historically accurate one is on Sunday), my dad and I wandered over to the battlefield to see some explosions. We got some good pictures (later!), and had some good times, but we had to leave after about a half hour in order to make it to church on time in Lake City.
On our walk back to the campsite, one of our friends stopped us and said we needed to go back to our campsite immediately. He gave us a reason, but for the sake of suspense, I will not tell you right now.
Farther along on our walk (it's about a 1/3-mile walk back to camp), another one of our friends told us the same thing. We were a little worried.
When we got there, we found our campsite taped off and two US Forestry Service officers standing around our tent. We looked up and saw a 3 to 4-inch diameter tree limb hanging by a thread above our car, swaying in the breeze.
We talked the guys a little bit, took some pictures (none of the ones of the tree limb turned out very well), and headed off to church.
When we returned that night after engorging ourselves on Ken's Barbecue (a delicious local restaurant,) we found two tree limbs laying at the base of the tree. Why we did not get any pictures of those, I do not know.
You'll just have to take my word for it :-D
I will be posting about Olustee over the next few days, so be sure to check back for updates and little "journal entries" about our weekend!

Monday, February 19, 2007


Why did the United States Forest Service tape off our car and campsite at Olustee?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Going Away...

I will be gone until Monday afternoon, as I am headed off to the Battle of Olustee Reenactment for the weekend.

Go ahead and read the story about my swamp treck a couple weeks ago, and as you read, keep in mind that Jimmy wrote it.

I hope y'all have a good weekend! Easterners: STAY WARM!!!!

Swamp Trekking: Jimmy's Story

As y'all know, my friends and I recently went out into the swamp so that I wouldn't go absolutely crazy with cabin fever. We had a very nice 2-hour hike, and Ben and Jimmy (both of whom had never been into this swamp) seemed stunned by the natural beauty of the place, and the way it just seems to drain all stress and the worries of everyday life...and people wonder why I love Florida so much!

Also, as you know, Jimmy has a great talent for writing rather strange stories. If you have not read his reflections on square bagels and toilet paper yet, I highly recommend that you do. I was going to write my own little boring story about this trip, but I decided to use Jimmy's more interesting one instead. I will need to edit some parts out and censor some stuff, as Jimmy has some....ummmm....inappropriate comments in his original post. I like to keep things clean here on the Minorcan Factor.

Today seemed to start off just as any normal day would, but any alert teenager would know that this wasn't just a normal day. Today was a very good day. A day commonly referred to (by the commonfolk) as an "early release day".
And it was good.

As the shortened school day came to an end, Phillip, Ben, HurricaneTeen, and I met up and decided that we should go on a magical journey as to avoid the boredom of having an extra two-three hours to sit at home and do nothing.

We went on a journey to destroy the one ring of power.

As we made our way out to the mystical woods of doom, and settling inner conflict, we made mental note of the horrors which we would have to endure on such a journey, and we prepared ourselves mentally (as well as physically) for the task that lie ahead.

Entering the forest, we immediately made our way up the river at a good speed.
After traveling non-stop at a good speed for 3 days, we decided to travel across the "bridge-log thingy of no return" for absolutely no particular reason. But Phil decided to try something really stupid (hand me my camera), and he ended up losing the camera off the "bridge-log thingy of no return". So me and Phil decided to have a duel to the death.

Me and Phil, having a duel to the death.

Needless to say, I won.

Me, proclaiming my ultimate victory and Phillip's ultimate demise.

So we continued on our merry way, and 27 days later, we ended up at the ancient and mystical landmark that has been referred to as *censored* (NOTE: The name of this place is not really that bad, but it could be considered offensive and derogatory by some, so I have taken the high road on this one)

HurricaneTeen at *censored*. That's me planning his ultimate demise in the background.

Me, revelling in HurricaneTeen's ultimate demise, which can be credited to me.

Phillip, coming back to life (not at all uncommon).

At this point, I decided that this story really isn't going anywhere. So I'm going to put in some cool elevator music and a montage to pass the time. Since this whole writing thing kind of hinders my ability to do so, put on your own elevator music and imagine a montage of me, Phil, HurricaneTeen, and Ben running through a forest.

He almost died. ***TRIVIA*** -------> That's not my foot. (HurricaneTeen note: It's mine :-D I put it there for perspective, but it is still kind of hard to see the 5-inch-deep hole.)

This is the huge cypress tree the HurricaneTeen is always talking about.

HurricaneTeen made friends with Phill's family. (Note: That's an inside joke.)

Ben, going on an angry rampage and destroying the forest in a blind fury.

We finally destroyed the ring. Because we were getting kind of tired and wanted to go home.

Then Phil and I got into a fight about whether it should be legal to put stem cells in your breakfast cereal or not (Phil likes to eat them raw for some reason), so we had another duel to the death.

Me and Phil dueling to the death (again).

Ugh... this story sucks.

Long story short, we destroyed the ring of power and then went to Burger King.

Phil, at Burger King. I don't really know if he was hungry or if he was contemplating the best way to get on the slide on the playground.

So uhh... the ring was destroyed... our stomachs were filled... Middle Earth was safe from the clutches of Sauron (again)... and... uhhh...
There really is no point to this story.

Moral: Don't argue with Jimmy, because he always wins duels to the death.
Cameras + swamp water = unhappy?

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Finally, I have posted again. It's not been homework or other work that has kept me from posting lately. I've just been taking it easy, enjoying this relatively easy semester of school. So I encourage you to read the post below about Minorcan Knitting.

I need to get ready for school. It's funny how I get up before 6:00 every morning and still sometimes end up rushing to get ready to leave the house at 7:40 to be at school by 8:30.

By the way, I still need to show ya'll that post about our recent swamp adventure. I'll post that later :-D

Minorcan Knitting

Since this past June, I have been taking up the craft of knitting. Yes, yes, I know, this is usually a woman's pasttime, but you men our there don't have to worry about me being a little "sweet." I am here to officially declare: "MEN CAN KNIT, TOO!"

My knitting consists of home-made "needles," straight, uniform whittled sticks, and monofilament fishing line. I know you may be asking Who the heck's gonna wear a pair of socks made out of fishing line?! Well, you know, it's the latest fashion trend in Hollywood, and....

But seriously, folks, men in my family have been doing this kind of knitting for centuries, and their life practically depended on the produce this art during bad times...which were all too common for them.

Yes, I am speaking of that old tool, the castnet. People across the world use castnets to catch baitfish for their fishing excursions, but my family has always used it to obtain food directly. Why the heck catch fish to use as bait and then have to go catch other fish, when you can just catch fish and eat THEM? Castnets were made by master netcrafters for thousands of years until machine-made nets became common in the past century. You can find castnets in any Wal-Mart or megamart or any marine supply store.

So, wait, HT, why waste your time MAKING the castnets when you can buy them in the store? Well, Phantom Reader, to put it lightly, the castnets you buy in the store are steaming piles of alligator dung compared to a well-crafted handmade net. Yes, Alligator dung. Anybody who has cast both kinds of nets and stepped in a pile of Alligator dung (many native Floridians) will tell you that, yes indeed, the machine-made nets aren't worth the water they are cast into.

NOT TO FEAR CASTNETTERS! There are still a few netmakers out there who can sell you a real castnet, a castnet you will use for the rest of your life with minimal repairs. And the net won't have that little pucker at the top of machine-made nets that just refuses to flatten out.

I am learning the art from a man who is considered to be the master castnet knitter in Northeast Florida (quite possibly all of Florida.) He's an old Minorcan Cracker and one of my cousins, Mr. Stuart Pacetti. Yes, you've heard of him before...I've only mentioned him about 3 or 4 times on this blog already. As a restless retired man, this is one of the ways he keeps himself busy, in addition to his involvement in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and his beautiful Florida Folk guitar picking. Coastal Living did an article on him this past June, and you can read it online here. Be sure to listen to the songs at the bottom of the page, too, especially This Land I Love.

Mr. Pacetti giving me yet another castnet knitting lesson at his house last the Friday before last. He is working on my 6-foot mullet net here, using tools that I carved by hand (very badly, I might add) this past summer.

Currently I am making a 6-foot Mullet net with 1-inch mesh to catch those delicious fish that my family has enjoyed for so long. I will post later with pictures of me working this net down, and with a better description of how and why I do it.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Minorcan Datil Pepper Sauce

I did not have school last Friday, so I spent practically the whole day in St. Augustine, doing some of the stuff I enjoy most.

In the morning I stopped by my grandma's (a.k.a. gram gold shoes...named after the metallic gold shoes that she takes a liking to) to visit. She had been almost completely out of Datil pepper sauce, so we had planned to fix up a batch while I was there. (More on where I went afterward is for a later post.)

Datil Pepper sauce is a recipe known by a few Minorcan families in St. Augustine and other parts of Florida and Georgia. These families tend to keep their recipe closely guarded, so as Florida's culture continues to be isolated and destroyed, so does the knowledge of how to make this delicious condiment. Fortunately, I am hell bent on being a Minorcan, so I guess it won't completely die out as long as I am living...And God knows I may really be the only one in my generation who cares [I guess I'll put a whole post about this later.]

Anyway, more about the sauce itself...Each family's recipe tastes a little bit different; some taste sweet as sugar and others will cause every cell in your body to scream "AGGGGGHHHH HOT!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!" Our recipe lies somewhere in the middle, spicy enough for you to get a good kick and to feel it for about a half hour after you finish eating it, but with a nice herbal/sweet type flavor. It can be eaten on pretty much anything except ice cream and cereal, but here are my favorite ways that we Minorcans use them:
  • Fried Shrimp. There is nothing like a nice pile of fresh-caught shrimp breaded and fried up to perfection. Mixing the sauce with mayonaisse makes a perfect seafood dip.
  • Fried Mullet or Catfish. Use the same mixing technique described above.
  • Hamburgers. My favorite burger: Fresh beef (venison will do, too), ketchup, mayonaisse, barbecue sauce, Datil pepper sauce, tomato, lettuce, onion, and cheese. Messy, but the most delicious burger I have ever had.
  • Okra. Okra is delicious dipped in the Datil/mayonaisse mix or just plain Datil sauce.
  • Fried Chicken.
  • Cold or Allergy Remedy. (I guess this isn't really the sauce, but I thought I would share it anyway.) Finely chop up a Datil pepper and spread it on a piece of bread. Eat it, and it will clear up any sinus congestion that you may have. I'm not joking with this one. I have heard stories of a Minorcan doctor that used to prescribe this for a number of ailments...I don't doubt at all that it worked.

Monday, February 05, 2007


10,000,000 Blogger Points if you can guess what we're cooking up here.