Category Archives: Family

The Guardian/Earth Island Journal: Where have all Florida’s sea cows gone?

“Karen Hoffman’s dad, Pete Hoffman, and dog, Bubba, check out a manatee swimming past their home by the Intracoastal Waterway.” (Earth Island Journal)

The West Indian manatee is an example of evolution optimizing for one thing: taking time to slow down and munch the seagrass. They have no natural predators, just humans and their boat propellers. Individual animals can be identified by the unique pattern of scars on their backs. Their thick skin has kept them going, but maybe not for much longer.

Florida’s manatees are on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species because “the population is estimated to decline by at least 20% over the next two generations due to anticipated future changes in warm-water habitat and threats from increasing watercraft traffic over the next several decades.”

But even slow or no-wake zones and better boater education may not be enough to save the Florida manatee. Another kind of man-made threat – runoff and pollution – is destroying their seagrass beds. More manatees died last year in Florida than ever before recorded.

I came home for the holidays to South Florida, where my parents live on the Intracoastal Waterway. Every year around this time, we see many manatees go past the house, heading south to warmer water.

But this year, I was puzzled. Where were all the manatees? Then I read about the record die-off in the state of Florida in 2013 – 829 dead manatees, out of an estimated total population of 5,000. That’s more than one in six of all the manatees in the state. And 173 of the dead were breeding-age females, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Institute.

Read more at The Guardian > (Sadly, they took out the picture of Dad and Bubba and replaced it with “professional” AP/Reuters photos. You can’t have everything.)

Original story in the Earth Island Journal >


“I was thinking today, ‘I should probably get some new shoes.'”


-My dad, who stepped in some solvent a few months ago at the warehouse but has been doggedly wearing these ever since.

So you see, I come by this bedraggled state honestly.

Really, the only way I can even appear in public is thanks to my sister, who fortunately takes after my mom in having excellent fashion sense and the additional valuable-to-me habit of jetting off to some distant locale to work in the mud with horses, leaving a closet full of threads at home for me to raid.

Thanks sis.


Sweetpea (1916-2011)

A very young Toots

The one and only Sweetpea, aka Mrs. Louise Marie (Katterfeld Hoffmann) Alexander, my grandmother, passed away yesterday at the age of 95. She would have been 96 in January.

Here’s the official obituary, written in a hurry to get it into the next day’s paper.

But a much better description was written by the woman herself in 1999 for a family directory. Typewritten — she worked the hell out of that typewriter.


Louise Marie Alexander (Also known as Toots, Tootsie, Tootie, Sweetpea /Katterfeld, Hoffmann, Alexander)

Chicago, Kansas, Long Island, New York City

Present Job

Chief Cook & Bottle Washer for husband, Frank Alexander & my wonderful Daughter, Harriet Hoffmann Morgan, & assorted friends & strays.


I’m a people person & like reading, birding, gardening, cooking, sports. Also keeping up with Margie, Freda, Tom & Bill – their wives, Evie and Anna. I have daughters-in-law Nancy Little Hoffmann, wife of son Pete & Nan Hopkin Hoffmann, wife of son Roger. Also grand children, Karen & Sarah Hoffmann. And I do mean grand for all of the above.

A paragraph about yourself (and your family);

In Spring of 1915 my parents Dutch (Ludwig) & Bertie travelled across country by train to Seattle, Washington. Nine months later I was born in Everett, WA. That year Dutch ran for Governor of Washington on the Socialist ticket. He did receive quite a few votes but did not become Governor!

My earliest memories are of Dighton, KS, on my grandfather’s (Dr. Eusebius Pierce Horn & wife Ruby Howe Horn) 2,000 Ac. ranch/mostly wheat. I climbed the ranch windmill at age 2 1/2; broke one whole crate of eggs (from Ruby’s chickens & her spending money source) & assisted sister Freda in setting the prairie on fire! Scared the horses & had townspeople from Dighton put out fire. (We didn’t plan this beforehand).

Meanwhile, our family lived in many places across these United States. In 1937 I married George Hoffmann. (Anna Marie Katterfield is George’s sister). George is the father of Pete, Roger & Harriet Hoffmann. In 1953 [sic] we moved to Atlanta, Ga., (job transfer for George). George died in 1960.

In the meantime I began a 40 year career in real estate as agent, secretary & advertising agent. I retired in 1996 at age 80.

In 1973 I married Frank Alexander, a real Southern born & bred gentleman. (Y’all come see us, heah!)

While growing up I am happy to note that my sisters, Margie, Freda & brothers, Tom & Bill & I grew up in a world without indoor plumbing (for awhile). We had coal oil lamps, well water using hand pumps, wood & coal burning stoves, no T.V. Radio came along a little later. No cars. We had horse & buggy, trains & our feet for walking. We had two caring parents, a big round table for eating, crafts, games, family talks & MUCH READING from Book of Knowledge, other books & magazines.

AS THE FAMED CORNELIA SAID WHEN ASKED WHAT JEWELS SHE TREASURED, she replied: ” My children are my jewels ” I think all of you can say “Amen” to this.

She had style. I think the guy is her friend’s husband.

I personally think that her being conceived on a train had to have somehow traveled down the generations, because I haven’t been able to stay still.

We’ll miss you, Grandma.

Interview with my dad! aka Yellow submarine canvassing sunken piece of state history

[They didn’t spell our name right, but them’s the breaks.]

There’s a yellow submarine in the water off Fort Worden in Jefferson County.

It’s an Everett-based sub that’s mapping and filming a bit of Washington state history: the sinking of the SS Governor in 1921.

As it heads toward a dock at Fort Worden, it looks like some sort of weird jet ski. But what you are looking at is the Blue View, a yellow submarine.

It’s the creation of Pete Hoffman. He built it out of pieces of a North Sea oil inspection sub.

“The opportunity to buy the complete sub presented itself and through a series of mishaps, I ended up with it. I had no money but a 32,000-pound sub in the garage,” Hoffman said.

The sub once was a dinghy mounted at the stern of a Russian super-yacht. But Hoffman says now it’s doing what it should be doing, working with Everett-based Ocean Gate.

(Video at KOMO News)

Urban farm in South Florida opens today

The Urban Farmer

Having successfully convinced my parents to subscribe to a CSA (community-supported agriculture), we headed to The Urban Farmer in Pompano Beach to pick up our first batch of goodies — eggplant, star fruit, arugula, and much more — all picked fresh on this post-industrial plot of land. More to come but just some preliminary photos of the tour we got from the very obliging father of Urban Farmer owner Jessica Padron.

The Urban Farmer

Today, Saturday Oct. 30, from 8:30am to 3pm will be the official ribbon cutting and grand opening of The Urban Farmer. Stop by and support locally grown food in unlikely suburbia!

The Urban Farmer

The Urban Farmer is located at 1730 N. Powerline Road, Pompano Beach, FL, on the east side of Powerline Road about a 1/2 mile south of Copans road.

The Urban Farmer

May 14, 1990

Dear Diary,

Today Chris called me!!!!!!!!!! It was only for homework. I’ll tell you something. I love him. I don’t just like him, I love him. Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I gave Mom a chipped horse pin I painted, a cat keychain, a macaroni necklace, and a card I made in Sunday School. Sarah drew a picture of Mom. It actually looked like her (sort of). By the way, Sarah’s 4. I can’t think of anything else to write.

Bye, Diary!!