Archive for July, 2011
We’re now back home in Berkeley missing the grits, hush puppies, and fried dough sundaes.
The photo is the Cape Hatteras light house, the tallest all-brick structure in the world. They once moved it a half a mile over the sand without taking it apart. Wow.
Bye for now,
Jim and Liza
The tide had receded exposing the life-giving black muck and detritus. The sun already climbed three hours above the horizon and had heated the intracoastal on the west side of John D. MacArthur State Park. A tropical wave working up from the south planned to give those of us who gathered here a summer drenching. This was the final classroom session of the Florida Master Naturalist Program – Environmental Interpretation taught by Steve Bass and Kitty Philips and a little downpour wasn’t going to put a damper on our day. The occasional lightening, maybe. The rotten egg smell of sulfur gas wafted upward from each footprint as we walked across the flats to explore the different depressions.
I’ve always enjoyed discovering the life that forms around mangrove islands. Their salt-coated leaves that drop into the brackish water, decomposing into microscopic detritus, starting the food chain. Bits of algae attached themselves to the debris and are soon a meal for filter feeders, small fish, and bottom scavengers.
Often overlooked or mistaken for a sponge, tunicates are plentiful around the mud flats. Hard to believe this is an animal, that looks like a piece of …., you know. The tunicate siphons food down a central chamber, squeezes the water through its body and then back out another passageway scraping the algae off the decomposed matter. This species felt hard when pinched with the fingers. Out of the water it seemed to have a glossy finish and a slime coating. When placed back in its home, a dull sheen returned.
Snapping shrimp are often heard by divers and snorkelers as soon as their heads drop below the surface. A loud, clear snap can be heard yards away when their claws close rapidly. Often this background noise of the ocean sounds like an AM radio station during an electrical storm. To me, the sounds become relaxing and I try to hone in on the creatures. The shrimp’s large menacing claw has the power to bruise or crack a fingernail if carelessly held.
However, the guy that received the most attention was the state shell, a Florida Horse Conch. For some reason, he loved extending his orange foot onto the palms of every lady that held him. Then again, who doesn’t like to be held by the female sex? With his foot suctioned tight on their palms, he dragged his shell across their fingertips. Release his grip, shift forward, and start the process over, headed to their wrist following what palm readers call the success line.
About this time the gray skies hinted at the coming thunderstorm. A few drops here, a few drops there. But no one in the class was ready to leave. Our seine nets still stretched across the yellow, sand lined gulleys. We scooped more fish and bottom dwellers into our rectangular catch basins. Then the rain came down harder. By the time we hiked across the flats back to the crushed shell parking lot, our clothes were soaked. No one seemed to really care. Getting caught in a rain shower on a summer day in Florida is considered normal. Plus, it washes the salt off you.
Let me boldly say here, make no mistake about this, the PCSO, in my opinion, has made every effort they could to find Haleigh Cummings.
Many aspects in the Haleigh Cummings case remain unexplained. Some of these mysteries are self-evident. Where is Haleigh? But other aspects, which are puzzling, could perhaps simply be resolved by the PCSO with the simple release of information not critical to any prosecutorial effort in this case.
The funny thing about criminal prosecutions and the release of information is that this “sensitive information” is being kept only from us the public. If a person is charged with this crime, all of this information will be released to the person charged and their legal team. So why hide it from the public? Perhaps because it makes for better theater in the courtroom.
I have no complaint with the well intentioned hard work of the PCSO investigative efforts. Have they missed some leads? Well, are they human? Still, unless you’re a believer in the “stranger abduction” theory, or the “family kidnapped her” theory (neither of which I subscribe to) then Haleigh’s fate centers around those present at the mobile home on 202 Green Lane, Satsuma, Florida, in the early morning hours of February 10, 2009.
Let’s look at what was going on near 202 Green Lane and 116 Tyler in the early morning hours of February 10, 2009. On Green lane at 202 was the mobile home from where Haleigh disappeared while Misty Croslin was babysitting. At 116 Tyler, just around the corner and a hundred yards down the block sits the mobile home where Misty’s brother, Hank (Tommy) Croslin, lived with his wife Lindsy and their three children.
What time did Haleigh disappear? Maybe we should rephrase the question: What time was she reported missing? The official version of Misty’s 911 call to the PCSO occurred a few minutes after 3 am. The incident report #1325 indicates the report was at 3:27 am. Sometime between 3 am and 3:27 am. Close enough. Really? Well listen to the Youtube video below. It’s an eight minute video but if you don’t want to spend 8 minutes listening to it, drag the video to about the 6:50 mark. Lt. Greenwood clearly says the call came in “at 2:13 in the morning or shortly after two o’clock in the morning.”
Did he just misspeak? Normally one would chalk his declaration of the call coming in at 2:13 am to a “slip of the tongue.” So why not just say so? As far as I know the PCSO has been silent on this issue. Why is this important?
It’s important because of what you’ll hear next. Here is a link to the PCSO radio traffic broadcast that occurred in the morning around 3 am after Misty’s 911 call.
There are substantial portions of this call that apparently have been redacted by the PCSO. I suggest you right-click on the link below, open it in a new window, and read my transcription as you listen to the actual calls.
But at the 3 minute 48 second mark in this call you’ll hear the second of the two female officers (1256) on the call say, “I’m available at 116 Tyler.” This is less than 5 minutes after Misty’s 911 call began. I’m guessing the 911 call may still have been in progress at this time. The 911 call gave the address of 202 Green Lane. Why was she already down the block at 116 Tyler, the home of Tommy Croslin?
The next radio transmission is from a male officer who asks the same question I’m asking, “What’s going on at 116?” We don’t get an answer to that on this tape. Less than half-a-minute later, female officer 1256 says, “10-8 from this location, going back to Green.” Going back? Normally “going back” would mean that she’d already been there. Was she there before the 911 came in?
Next, the most startling part of the PCSO radio log is revealed. At 4 minutes and 25 seconds into this tape (remember the time may be longer because portions have been redacted) our responding female PCSO deputy 1256 says, “She was seen within the residence, about one to one and a-half hours ago.”
How does she know that? And who told her? Misty always said the last time she saw Haleigh was around 10 pm. One to one-and-a-half hours ago would be around 2 am in the morning. About the time that Lt. Greenwood says the first call came in. Not 3 am when Misty made her 911 call. Coincidence? What do you think?
Here’s what I know. I know that Tommy Croslin was at 202 Green Lane sometime between midnight and 2 am. I know that for a fact and not just because Tommy told me, which he did. This statement he has never retracted. I have documented outside corroboration of that portion of his statement.
I know that Tommy would often leave his bed and go out on the porch or in front of the trailer when he couldn’t sleep and smoke. He’d do it out there so as not to wake Lindsy or the kids. I also know that Tommy’s pit bulldog would often bark late at night and in the early morning hours. Neighbors complained often and he was cited for his barking dog. Documented facts.
I suspect that there may have been a barking dog complaint between 2 and 3 am and the female officer was responding to that and was speaking to Tommy when the 911 call came in. Or not. I don’t know. That is conjecture on my part. Another reasonable theory—officer 1256 was responding to the 911 call and saw Tommy out front smoking at 116 Tyler. She would’ve had to drive past 116 Tyler to get to Green Lane. She stopped to talk with Tommy, asking him if he’d seen anyone or anything suspicious. He responds “no” and she tells him about the 911 call. Tommy, not thinking too clearly responds, “Well, I know she was in the home an hour to an hour and a-half ago. My sister Misty is babysitting and I saw Haleigh there about then.”
If you don’t like any of my explanations, then you explain how Officer 1256 can say at 4 minutes and 25 seconds into the radio log, “She was seen within her residence, about 1 to 1 ½ hours ago.”
What does this all mean? It means that sometime around the time of the 911 call from Misty, Female Deputy unit 1256 was at 116 Tyler and spoke to someone that said they’d seen Haleigh 1 to 1 ½ hours before. Mysterious and more mysterious.
In our endless quest for the perfect dessert I tried deep- fried cheesecake; it’s a big hit at the New Bern I-Hop. Liza refused to even look at it. Oh well, all the more for me.
I know you’d like to try it. First y’all roll a New York cheesecake in tortilla dough, then pop it in a deep-fat fryer for one minute and thirty-eight seconds exactly. The trick, the cook told me, is not to leave it in too long–makes it gooey–or pull it out too quick–leaves the dough uncooked. There’s an art to deep-fat frying.
Mine was perfect. As I savored every morsel, Liza sat across the table mumbling about artery plaque.
You can take the woman out of California, but you can’t take California out of the woman.
Anyway, I know y’all are dyin’ to hear about Croakerfest. The big thing was funnel cake that you make by frying pancake batter in a deep fryer for about one minute and thirty-eight seconds and cover it with powdered sugar. They had booths selling all kinds of things–hot dogs, sausages, pizza with an inch of cheese, fried fat (called hog back)–but funnel cakes were the biggest hit. Liza told them just a dusting of powdered sugar, please. But most folks at Croakerfest liked their funnel cake with sugar about an inch thick. Some put chocolate sauce on it, too. These people know what good eatin’ really is.
They had booths with people passing out political stuff. Everyone, it seems, is against taxes and for guns. Democrats run on the platform “I never vote with the party leadership and I have not voted for a tax hike in this millennium.” The Republicans want to cut all taxes. I said to these young Republicans, “Gee, you got to have some taxes. I mean, who’s gonna pave the roads?” and the next thing I knew I was being chased across the parking lot by a rock-throwing mob screaming I was a Berkeley pinko.
We’re supposed to go back in the water on Tuesday, that’s Tuesday North Carolina time, so we can’t be sure. If we do get in the water, we might actually get in some sailing. The wind is up. The channel–that was supposed to be dredged in April. Got dredged last week so now we can get out into Pamlico Sound.
I spoke to a member of the Free Will Baptist Church. I wanted to know what was the difference between them and other Baptists. “Dang if I know,” he said. But the waitress at the Hog and Claw said the Free Will Baptists believe you got your free will to backslide once you been saved and become unsaved. Regular Baptists believe once you been saved it’s forever, there’s no getting unsaved no matter what you do.
By the way, Pamlico County has lost like 8% of its population in ten years. The young people leave here as soon as they finish school. Locals tell me there’s a good reason they take off–no jobs. Most folks blame the liberals in Raleigh for this: environmental laws, cheap illegal Mexican labor, crackdowns on marijuana growing, making white lightning.
By the way, the pace of life being slower here, it keeps down the artery plaque. Nobody’s had a heart attack here in years, they tell us. Since before the War of Yankee Aggression.
We did get our boat in the water on Tuesday, North Carolina time. That’s Wednesday in the rest of the western hemisphere.
That’s all for now.
Jim and Liza
Ten Snowy Egrets lined themselves along the shore at the rocks at Peanut Island, waiting. Instinct reminding them to be patient. Then something, possibly barracudas or needlefish, spooked the bait fish and the finger-sized silversides rushed along the shore, jumping high into the air to escape their predators. The sky proved no safe haven. Each egret plucked a fish in mid-flight. Satisfied, the birds backed away from the water. Thus started my snorkeling day at the park.
Captain Randy Whidden of Captain’s Joe water taxi (www.captainjoeswatertaxi.com) ferried us from Riviera Beach Marina to the park and we arrived at peak high tide. The 4th. of July crowds had not arrived due to the morning rains thus giving the snorkeling area to my wife, Kitty, a neighbor, Richie, and me.
The best area to snorkel is at the four rock piles on the eastern side of the island that faces the inlet. At high tide, the maximum depth is waist deep, earning the nickname, the Kiddy Pool. But, I’m probably the only one that calls it that. In less than an hour, Kitty counted over 50 species of fish. This is a wonderland to explore. And the best way to do that is to lazily fin around each rock pile, going no faster then a finger tip-toeing speed. The fish accept you as a non-predator and come out of the crevices and dance around you. Many times I’ve been engulfed in a school of hundreds of silversides, brushing up against my mask.
Liza and I are working on our boat Defiant at Wayfarers Cove Marina in Arapahoe, North Carolina, home of high humidity, temps in the 90’s, and grits. The food is great if you like deep fried. They even fry the pickles. For desert, fried ice cream.
The mosquitoes are huge, we spend our evenings picking them off with an old Colt ’45, or just throwing a rope around them and riding them around the saloon. They got huge lizards and snakes here, you can fry up a mess of ‘em for breakfast if you like. Yummy.
The most interesting thing about this place is they way they recon time. “Ah’ll be over tomorrow bright and early to halp ya with your hull job,” means “see ya in August or September sometime.” There are 3500 people in the county and 4,000 churches–or thereabouts. One on every corner. There are a lot of plain Baptist churches and Free-Will Baptist Churches. Just what a Free-will Baptist church is, we have yet to find out. Best we can come up with is “they have more of the Spirit in them.” The best food in town is at church pot-lucks. The near-by Free Will Baptist Church is having a pot luck tonight. Maybe I’ll find out what free will means.
“Ya-all” means “You All” and technically should be only used when referring to more than one person, but they often will say “Ya-all” when just talking about just you. Like “Y’all have a good-one.”
This week-end at the nearby town of Oriental is the annual Croakerfest. Everyone is all excited. You sill might have time to make if if you fly into New Bern and take a cab forty miles.
We don’t know exactly what the fest is celebrating, but we aim to find out what a croaker is. We also aim to find out what a grit is, too. This is such an educational trip.
That’s all for now. Y’all have a good one.
Jim and Liza
On the Hard in Arapahoe