Let's see, what else am I doing during this time of isolation? Well like a lot of folks I'm back to some things I haven't done in awhile, like puzzles. And I find that I'm playing far too many games of CandyCrush on my computer. So I suppose we could talk about that.....
Not this past Christmas but the one before, Tim gave me a box of 5 separate, 500-piece puzzles. I did three of them right away. Even though they aren't especially large puzzles, they are not easy ones. The colours for each puzzle are very much the same. One puzzle, for example, is of a vibrant pink flower. It's a beautiful picture but wow, with nearly every puzzle piece looking exactly the same. The differences were so subtle that I nearly went cross-eyed trying to finish it. When I finally did it was Woohoo! You would have thought that I climbed Mt Everest by myself, or solved some fabulous historic mystery, or at least cured the common cold by my reaction.
I cannot say for sure why, but that was the last puzzle that I did for over a year. Maybe, subconsciously I was saving the last 2 puzzles for puzzle emergencies? Maybe I was just giving my eyes are break? Or I moved on to something else? But a few days ago, while looking around for something different to do, I remembered that we had two unopened puzzles. Excitement!
It was close to time to start dinner when this all popped into my head, so the first day I only managed to find the box, open the new puzzle, dump it onto the kitchen table and begin sorting the pieces before it was time to get food underway.
I like to not only separate all of the edge pieces, and turn all of the shapes right side up but also group the pieces by colour. Even though the colours in this particular puzzle are all in the same neighborhood, there are some subtle differences. Greys, beige, greenish, purpleish. Those were my colour piles initially. That was Day One.
Day two I saved working on the puzzle 'til I had exhausted any other, more productive, work. Like cleaning, or laundry, or yard work. So once again, it was late afternoon before I began. But once started, the frame of the puzzle began to come together with relative ease. And I was encouraged. This was going to be finished in no time at all.
Oh the lies we tell ourselves! In all actuality, there was one piece, one dang piece, that seemed to be missing. The frame was incomplete. Ratburgers! I sorted through the remaining pieces again searching for the last frame piece to no avail. It had to be there. It was a sealed box! I searched the floor in the immediate area. And then looked outside the immediate area. No missing piece. Well that's just craptastic! I was so aggravated!
I abandoned the puzzle and fixed dinner and refused to even look at the table in the meantime.
The next day, I didn't touch it either. What was I doing I wonder? Punishing the puzzle? Whatever my point was at the time, it worked. The next time I stepped up to the puzzle I immediately saw the missing piece in an innocent pile of similarly coloured but differently shaped pieces. Yahoo!
Once the frame was finished I was excited to get started filling it in. But my refined "puzzle-eye" needed to be sharpened. My guess is that because it had been so long since I had actually worked on a puzzle that initially I saw nothing that seemed to belong anywhere. No pieces that screamed, "Pick me Pick me, I"m the one" (they don't actually scream. I know.) And I was disappointed at how I had sort of forgotten how this works.
But much like the cinnamon buns of the day before, eventually it started to come back to me. As I began to build up a section, while the first forays were very tentative, it became easier and easier. Hurrah. Just the fact that my brain does still know how to do this, but just needed to be reminded that it knew, felt like a victory.
The puzzle isn't finished yet. I still only work on it in that short window before I need to start fixing dinner each day. But that's mostly because I want it to last. I'm pacing myself. I only have one other unopened puzzle remaining after all. And we all know that we have the entire month of April at the very least, yet to go.
Now as to CandyCrush. I was introduced to this game years ago. And I don't even remember who got me started. Initially it was just our big old lunky chunky home computer. Eventually it was also on my phone. When we got a new home computer or I got a new phone, I had to start the game all over again. And I discovered that it was a different version. Then I got a laptop and I loaded the game onto the laptop. Yup, you guessed it, a different version. And of course, once again, when I got a new laptop, I started a different iteration of the game. No matter, for all that they are called different, the game works pretty much the same way.
Sometimes I play it more often, sometimes less often. Sometimes I get hung up on a level and linger there for weeks. Other times I cruise through levels one after the other in one sitting like a CandyCrush savant! There seems to be no rhyme or reason to why I do well one day and terribly the next.
Usually I'm very blase about the entire win and level/lose a level thing. Other times I find it enormously aggravating. But during this quarantine I have learned something very illuminating. Since I have less to occupy my time so if I wanted to I suppose I could devote my entire day to playing the game. I don't of course but I am finding myself playing more often than usual, I have noticed one thing. Regardless of how often or how rarely I actually play, I honestly haven't gotten any better at it. The win/lose ratio remains the same.
In this case, practice absolutely is NOT making perfect. Which flies in the face of everything we are taught.
I don't know about you but the "practice=perfect" adage was hammered into my punkin' head my entire life. And most of the time, it was true. Playing a musical instrument? Absolutely true. Learning to cook? Spot on advice. Anything I've ever had to learn to work? Totally true. But in two cases, not true.
No matter how many years I took math, regardless of how hard I tried, how much I studied, how much extra help I got, I still totally suck at it. Oh I am fine with basic math. Add, subtract, multiply and divide. Okeydokey. I got that. No problems. But as soon as you start venturing out into anything beyond the most basic algebra I am lost. I mean, black cat in a dark room at night with a blindfold on, lost.
And somehow, it also applies to ANY computer type game. Anytime I win a game it was sheer luck. It involved no skill at all.
At one time we had some sort of gaming system at home. And there were two games I particularly liked. One Tim bought me and the other was a gift from middle son and his wife. Both of these games were both tremendously entertaining and horribly frustrating because no matter how much I tried, how many times I played I would get to a certain level and then that was it. The game might just as well have ended there because I couldn't move forward. Someone would have to do that level for me so that I could progress. Until I reached another impossible level and....repeat. Apparently there is something vaguely "mathy" about it all and my brain rejects math.
I honestly think that is what happens. If it isn't the sort of math that is related to cooking or music or totting up a bill, my brain simply refuses to accept it's existence. I see the truth of it all now, I accept it and I will move on.
I will eventually finish this puzzle and move on the that last one. And I will keep playing CandyCrush and win and lose in a random pattern. But it no longer bothers me. Sometimes I will win. Sometimes I will lose. And much like Rhett Butler, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn"
I guess I did it for a number of reasons. First of all, as everyone knows, I love to bake ;) Secondly, I have not made this particular recipe for quite some time mostly because Thirdly , it is rather time consuming and I don't always have a lot of time but Fourthly, right now I have a LOT of time on my hands (as does everyone). And Lastly, because I had some yeast on hand that was nearly expired and that makes it a use it or lose it proposition.
I speak of cinnamon buns. I use to make yeast breads and rolls all of the time. When the boys were young and we lived on a farm, I was kind of, Pioneer Woman-ish. I made my own jams and jellies, planted, grew, harvested and canned a zillion or so jars of vegetables of all sorts every summer and made all of the breads and pastries and desserts that we ate. Which means that I made bread several times every week. And when you do it that often, it becomes second nature.
I made yeast breads of all sorts, white breads, oat breads, wheat breads, rye breads, rolls, coffee cakes, donuts and my own personal favourite, cinnamon buns. But those days are long gone and we don't as eat nearly as much bread nowadays (trying to avoid carbs - mostly) and it would be a shame to work that hard to make beautiful bread only to throw it away because it had gone stale. So I buy bread. Just ordinary bread. I mean decent quality of course. But nothing fancy. Which means, I've kind of lost my touch with making bread. I just don't have the bread-making confidence that I used to have.
So when I came across the short dated yeast packets in the pantry, my first question was, why do I have yeast? Then when does it expire (or did it already)? Then it was...what shall I at least attempt to make because I don't like to waste anything!
So I scrounged up my old favourite cinnamon bun recipe. I read and re-read and re-re-read the the instructions to make sure I had it all firmly in my head before I began. Just so you know, it came out pretty well.
I photo documented the process:
I think part way through muscle memory took over because I noticed that I wasn't reading the recipe anymore, I was just making cinnamon buns, just like the old days. We ate most them already (oink!) which is a really good reason, most of the time, to NOT make cinnamon buns. We have no resistance to them. But me oh my, not to toot my own horn here (beep! but they are yummy!
I will, most likely finish eating them today because, well, cinnamon buns are really good and I like them and there are only two left. One for me and one for me.
If you should also happen to have some yeast in your pantry and are interested in this recipe, just let me know. I'm happy to share.
I leave you with this:
Joy and I actually managed 3 hikes this week. Tuesday we went back to Curry Creek and man oh man, what a bust. There was almost nothin' worth snappin'. We had a nice walk for sure but photography wise it was a complete opposite from our previous visit there. Dang. We think part of it was that there was a nearby road crew trimming trees which is a seriously noisy job. No matter how far back into the trails we got, we could still hear the constant buzzing noise. But that might not have been it at all. It could just have been a crappy photo day, but hey it happens.
Here is the rather pathetic evidence
On Wednesday, instead of hiking a preserve, we just walked around the island. No particular destination, just a nice walk. And of course we took our cameras. Naturally. We actually saw more photo-worthy things on our little walk around town than the preserve walk the day before. Sad, very sad. And this time we were talking more than paying attention so it's especially crazy. I guess we kind of went for a talk rather than a walk. The blue jay photo at the top of the page was from this second walk But here are a few more: (and yes, it's a little squirrelly, heh)
Ok so both days were kind of a bust photo-wise. I mean the pictures are fine but not "wow", y'know? We are always looking for the big "Wow" pictures. Or even a little wow would be nice. So we headed out again Thursday. This time back to the other side of Sleeping Turtle. Or Yertle the Turtle as we have come to call it. Finally found some of those extra special shots we were looking for. There was a little bit of everything:
Which just goes to prove, I suppose, that if you wait long enough, and keep looking, eventually you will find it.
Well since today if Friday, I suppose that means the the next two days are the weekend. Although during these weird times of quarantines and social distancing, it doesn't mean quite what it used to. Still, I will take those two days and try to make them feel as much like a "weekend" as I can.
I'll be back here on Monday my friends. Wishing you all safe and well.
Last Sunday Tim and I did both a walk AND a drive. We cannot go to the beach but we can drive by and so we did.
We drove down a particularly pretty road that runs along the water one town north of us. Casey Key. The homes on this road are mostly very large, very beautiful and have water views. Some have two, the gulf on one side and the bay on the other. Really nice!
I leaned out the open window enjoying the sun and the breeze and snapped photos of anything that caught my eye. Sometimes it was flowers
Sometimes it was architectural details
And of course the water which we could see but not touch coz remember, the beaches are closed. The boat ramps however, are very obviously still open. Or at least they were that day.
We saw lots of folks out on boats in the water as you can see. Probably the best example of social distancing because really when you are in a boat you can only get so close to anyone else. There were boats large and small, sail and motor, kayaks and canoes. That felt dangerously close to a Dr. Seuss book. heh.
Then it was time for a lunch break! We are trying to, now and again, use take out or delivery meals from local restaurants. Well we always did but especially now as a way to support our local businesses! And Sunday, that meant a visit to Mad Dog's Hot Dogs was absolutely necessary. It's a drive-through and therefore perfect.
Then afterwards we went for a walk. Just 'round town, looking at this 'n' that. And again, taking some photos. Of course.
There were more pretty flowers, some just along the streets, others in the parks
We visited all of the animal statues in Blalock Park and the lions in Venezia Park
And photographed as much "wild life" as possible
So ok. The beaches are closed. For now. As are the State Parks. For Now. And then as of yesterday any sports parks are closed for now. That includes playgrounds.
But obviously, there are still some pretty awesome things to be seen. My Nana, a very wise woman, once told me that you find what you seek. "If you look for the bad you will surely find it for there is plenty of it out there. But if you look for the good, you will find that too. It might take a little longer sometimes but I promise you that it is there"
Good Advice, Nana. I'm looking for the good.
And I'm finding it too.
Hmmmmm what shall I do during this time of Quarantine? How shall I occupy myself while poor Tim slaves away at his job? For Tim Monday through Friday during the day hasn't changed much. He is still at his desk workworkworking away. He really only is aware of the shut downs on the weekends. I, however, have no museum job, no library job and my time is my own. And the question is, how to best spend this time of relative soltitude.
I say relative because at least twice a week Joy still drives down from Sarasota and we hike. But the other days?
It occurred to me that perhaps once or twice a week that could be a blogpost topic. What to do to fill the time during these days of "Social Distancing". So that is our topic today!
One of the things I'm doing is working out at home. Yeah, you probably don't care (and I don't blame you) but I'm impressed with myself frankly.
Normally I do not have the kind of self-discipline required to do a real workout at home on a regular basis. Oh now and again, I will knock out some work with bands while watching TV or throw down a couple of planks. But a REAL workout? One with reps that I am actually counting? Not so much. But this time I am actually doing it! Wow!
My Pilates instructor, bless her, sent a list of exercises for us to do from home AND a chart to record our progress. In theory at least, we will connect with her every Friday for a new list and report what we are doing, ask questions, seek validation and support, whatever we need. That Is So Awesome! At least in theory.
Historically, I would say that I'm going to do it and then not do it. The precedent has been set I promise you. I have a laundry list of excuses why not (including doing the laundry) But this time, to my great surprise, I actually am doing it! At least so far.
So there is one tiny portion of my Quarantine day. Working out! Yay me!
Well I rescued a frog this morning. That took a little bit of time.
When I went out to get the newspaper early this morning, I noticed.........something on the door. It just didn't look quite right. So I went and got my glasses (yeah, my close up vision is that bad), knelt down and looked closer. Sonovagun! There was a frog trapped between the screen and the mesh kickplate. What?
Ok I see some backstory is necessary here. Some previous owner of this house decided to have both a real door and a screen door on the house. All fine and good. The real door is mostly wood but with a big glass window. Nice. The screen door is a full screen with a metal mesh kickplate across the bottom. The screen door is also not exactly the correct size. Well it's the right width but the wrong height. It is probably an inch too short for the door frame. Dang. Which means that even on a beautiful gorgeous day, we cannot leave the real door open to allow the breezes through the screen part because lizard, bugs, and apparently also frogs, can fit under it. Replacing the screen door is actually on our list of things that need to be done. But it's pretty far down the list.
My guess is the frog hopped under the screen door, thinking maybe it was a cave? And then when he couldn't get back out tried going up instead, right between the screen and the kickplate and got stuck. Poor froggie.
Ok then. How do I get him back out? I tried prying the kickplate and screen far enough apart but I wasn't strong enough. I'm not wonderwoman or supergirl after all. So next up was remove the kickplate. It is only attached by a couple of screws but it's an old door and the screws are rusty. No matter. I have to try! It is now my mission!
It took two different Philips screwdrivers to finally loosen one side enough to reach up and gently gently remove the frog. I cooed supportive and reassuring things to him the entire time. And eventually he was free! Hurrah!
He just sat, stunned on the patio while I secured the kickplate once again. I patted him gently a couple of times and then watched as he slowly slowly hopped toward the garden. One hop and then a rest, another hop and a rest. I watched to make sure he made it all the way into the safety of the garden.
Sam Humphreys...frog rescuer!
Made my day : )
I've told this story before but when we lived in Colorado, our house two big window wells on the north and south sides of the house. This allowed for great light in the basement but unfortunately it became a landmine for bunnies. Crazy young bunnies would hop madly around the yard, careening left and right, zigzagging and zooming and often, hop over the edges of the edging into the window wells. Every single day one of my jobs was doing window well check. And every single day, Tim would rescue the bunnies.
I tried, I really did. But the bunnies didn't trust me. They did trust Tim. They would just sit still and allow Tim to pick them up, cradle them gentle, walk all the way back upstairs and be released into the yard and the fields behind the house. It was a daily chore for him. He didn't seem to mind.
I believe that he was a hero to the bunnies and that they sang songs and told stories of the giant who rescued them. But now, maybe the frogs will write Odes to Sam the Frog Rescuer and sing my praises around the old lily pond.
That's kind of cool.
So there you have it. Pilates and Frog Rescue. That's two of the ways I'm passing time these days.
They closed the beaches as of last Saturday morning at 6 am. It was the right thing to do. The smart thing to do. But of course my daily beach visits are the thing I will miss the most during this quarantine.
As soon as we got word of the closure, which was late Thursday afternoon, we knew that we would be heading over after dinner for one last sunset. And it did not disappoint. Almost as if it knew that this one was going to have to tide us over for a bit, the sunset show was exceptionally spectacular!
The ocean is still there. As is the beach. The birds, the fish, the shells, everything except the people. Which, frankly, is probably good for the water, the sand, the birds and the fish. But it's kind of a tease to drive by and see little snippets of it out the car window and not be able to go there, to walk in the sand, to wade in the water, to leave my little heart notes for my mom.
But I understand. I completely totally and entirely understand and support the decision. But that doesn't mean that I can't be a little wistful about it.
There were other folks around, probably for the same reason that we were. All of us keeping that healthy 6 feet of distance from each other. We silently watched until the sun disappeared completely all the while knowing that sunset was going to have to hold us over for an unknown period of time.
So we took a few photos of ourselves to commemorate the event.
We are smiling, not because we are happy about the beaches being inaccessible for awhile, but because whatever happens, we know that we are going through it together, side by side, supporting one another, as life partners always should. And that is the lifeline we are holding tightly to through this crisis.
Whoever you are holding onto during this time, hang on tight. In the words of the late, great Bette Davis, "It's going to be a bumpy ride".
Sooooo obviously Joy and I are still hiking. Last week we hit two different preserves. One, Walton Ranch Preserve, was new to us. So new in fact that neither of us had ever heard of it before. The other one, an oldie but a goodie is a local (to me) preserve, Curry Creek.
Both of them were excellent hikes! The above photos we took, just being silly, at Walton Ranch. As we were hiking along last Tuesday, we found this enormous log frame and Joy said it looked like a picture frame so naturally, we used it as such!
At least part of this reserve is still actually used for cattle. Not joking. See the sign?
We got turned around on the trails more than once but still managed to capture a few photo worthy things. Didn't actually see any cows. But then, we didn't see any feral hogs either, so I'm fine with that.
We really enjoyed our time there, but it's probably a one and done. As nice it it was, it was kind of a long drive to get there and well, we found just as nice photo opportunities a lot more local.
For instance on our Thursday hike to Curry Creek right here in Venice. We've hiked Curry Creek many times but there is one section we had never seen before because the trail involves crossing a very mucky looking creek with no bridge, no log, no powers of levitation and Scotty refuses to beam us up. This time however, the creek was nearly dry so we were able to avoid the boggiest parts and walk brand new (to us) trails! Yahoo!
I'm not certain why it was such a spectacular hiking day. Maybe because we were there a wee bit earlier than usual? Maybe it was the new trail? Perhaps the planets were just in the proper alignment. Don't know why, don't really care why. But it was a great hiking week for sure.
We are eager to get out there again this week and see what else we can see. I am so grateful that Tim bought me this camera. I have always enjoyed walking/hiking. The camera just adds another layer of pleasure in it for me. Anyway, we had fun. Thanks for coming along!
I am so far behind on staying current with my blogposts that this was from last Sunday! Before I forget what we did that day, I guess I should write this one up!
Sooooo Last Sunday for the Sunday Walk, Tim searched high and low for a new place for us to go. We didn't want to drive for hours to get there (because then you have to drive hours back only dirty, sweaty and tired). But he found a place near the Myakka Forest. Up until then I had no idea that Myakka had a forest. I am well acquainted with the river and the aptly named Mayakka River State Park but Myakka Forrest? I was intrigued.
It took awhile, but eventually we got there. Not to the official forest but to a nearby trailhead.
It looked like a very promising hike! We were the only people there, the trail was nicely cleared and well marked. And we saw things that captured our interest right away. I was snapsnapsnapping photos like mad. Very Fun.
But we were probably less than a mile in when the trail was blocked with the sign indicating that there was an eagle's nest ahead so we weren't allowed to go any further. Dang. I like Eagles. I like them alot. And I certainly wouldn't bother them or their nests or their babies. At least not on purpose. But perhaps my mere existence hear them is bothersome. I wouldn't know. I'm not an eagle expert. So with a sigh, we turned around and headed back to the car.
But we were ready for a nice hike! Where should else should we go? It turns out that we weren't that far from Juan Ponce de Leon Park so we headed there next.
It's an interesting place with a very small beach that has beautiful white sand, boating, kayaking and a surprising number of people all trying to do the same thing at the same time :
There is also a boardwalk that take you through the mangroves which is a whole other world.
They also have a wildlife rehabilitation center there. What a wonderful thing. Injured wild creatures are brought to them and they are cared for until they can either fend for themselves once again in their natural environment or they live their lives at the center, cared for with love.
Most of the animals were in very large cages so I had to shoot through through the wire, so please bear that in mind when judging these photos. They all looked very well cared for. None of them appeared to be depressed or sad. Though to be fair some were sleeping. Here is a sampling:
Well, eventually we left there and went home (by way of Sonny BBQ where we ordered to go). But once we had eaten our dinner we were ready for another walk. This time we just went to our own beautiful beach.
All in all, a great day. Not at all what we anticipated but we know how to adapt and adjust. If not plan A then plan B. Or C. or any other letter necessary.
It was another great Sunday Walk. Wish you had all been there to enjoy it with us
Our Census stuff arrived so naturally I have a few thoughts about it. And it's probably not what you are thinking either.
First thought: On the front of the envelope it says very clearly, in large bold lettering that filling out and sending in the census information is not optional. It is required. And It Is The Law. Literally it reads, 'Your Response is required by law" only in all caps. Ok. I knew that. But inside, on the accompanying letter is says in regular ordinary font that I am being invited to participate. Actually it says, "This is your invitation to respond". Well which one is it? Am I invited to participate as if I was invited to a party? And if I don't want to attend the party I can RSVP my regrets? Or is it a law and mandatory? (Oh I know the answer. I have to fill it out. It just feels a little passive/agressive y'know?)
My second thought was my surprise at how few questions were asked and how incredibly boring they are. Not offensive, not intrusive, not even interesting. Our names. Our birthdays. Our phone number. Our race. That was pretty much it. There was an opportunity to fine tune our race if we wished though. That was at least a little bit interesting. As Tim and I are both white (as far as we know anyway), that is the box I ticked. But underneath there was a line where I could have chosen, English, Irish, French etc.etc.etc. Because we are both descended from multiple different backgrounds I just left it at white. They didn't have a box for "mishmosh".
The reasons the simplicity of the questions was a surprise to me were twofold.
First I heard a lot of chatter about people being horribly offended by the questions on the form. I saw nothing offensive. Nothing. Maybe my phone number is offensive? I assume that there is just about zero information about me that the government doesn't already know. I have a birth certificate so they already know my name, birthdate (and place, and my parents names for that matter - info which wasn't requested by the way). I have a social security number so I know they know that. Which means if they wanted any banking or employment information about me, they certainly have access to it. Our phone number is public record as is our address (which they know because they mailed the form to us) We pay taxes so they know everything on that form. Tim was in the Marine Corps so his life is an open book to the government. I mean if they really wanted to know it, I'm sure they could find out pretty much everything about us with little effort. So while I had no issue with filling out the forms, I'm fairly certain that they probably already know all of that stuff about us. And more.
The other thing that surprised me about how basic and boring the questions were is kind of because of my Dad. He was really into genealogy. Which kind of got me interested in it too. And I've seen Census records from the early 1900's and they were, frankly, a lot more interesting. Questions like, your occupation, your primary language, your birthplace. There was even a column for literacy, as in...is the individual in question literate. Those kinds of questions. Way more interesting stuff.
Every ten years since 1790 I believe, a regular census of the population has been collected in this country. And I also believe that every year, the questions asked are a little different and this year, I think, is the easiest, shortest, most benign list of questions yet. Easy Peasy.
But in the future, when generations ahead are seeking information on their ancestors, unless they can key into, what will then be really really old technology, they won't have a clue. Isn't that funny to think about? That the latest and greatest and amazing technology that is at our fingertips and wowing us right now will be as useless and old fashioned to future generations as a butter churn is to us now.
I laughed out loud the first time I read that children are no longer being taught cursive in our schools. Because that means that the only people, just one generation from now, who be able to read our diaries will be linguists who specialize in the ancient language of "cursive". Teehee.
Ah well, that is for future generations to sort out. For now, maybe we need to create some sort of "Rosetta Stone" for our great great great great grandchildren so that they can learn about those who came before them.
Apologies for the late Blogpost today. I was up and out super early trying to buy a few groceries and track down the ever so elusive toilet paper this morning.
But now I'm back and writing about Joy's Birthday Celebration which was last Friday. Y'see Bob is out of town taking care of other business and so we took on the mantle of official Birthday Celebration Providers!
Tim had already planned on taking the day off on Friday so we had the entire day to play. We offered her a lot of ideas of things to do such as seeing a play, going shopping, visiting a museum (this is all before the closings by the way)...lots of ideas. But her choice was visiting model homes. See! It's not just me! It might be a genetic thing. And since the Parade of Homes was still going on, that's exactly what we did.
We picked Joy up around 10:30 and headed out to the first set of houses in a community called, "Artistry". There were six homes to visit just in that neighborhood and it takes us awhile. We don't just breeze in and out, we really look at every room. We "redecorate" it to suit our own tastes and mentally place our own furniture. We each chose our favourites and then we moved on to The Lake Club in Lakewood Ranch. I think we saw 4 different gorgeous homes there before we set out for the last community, a little further north in Ft Hammer. It was called, The Islands on the Manatee River. Long name, pretty houses, beautiful area.
Hard to believe I'm sure but that took nearly all day. It was dinner time before we realized it. Joy couldn't decide where she wanted to eat to Tim decided and took us to Stonewood. Joy had never been there before so that made it a little more special. And a surprise which is a bonus. Joy and I had excellent cheeseburgers but Tim had Prime Rib. All of it was excellent. They offered a dessert menu but we had another idea in mind.
Cheesecake Factory! YUMMMMM! We were all way too full to eat right away to we made our selections to go. Tim chose lemoncello cake, Joy chose strawberry shortcake (which I had no idea they even offered) and naturally I decided on a slice of cheesecake. I don't remember the name but it was something complicated and decadent that had pecans and chocolate and caramel. I ate it much MUCH later that evening and it was heavenly.
We drove back to Joy's place and went up to just sit and visit awhile and play with the kitties, Charlie and Winston. They are always very entertaining.
To be absolutely fair, Joy, Bob, Tim and I all four of us went out to dinner the week before to begin the birthday week celebration and I gave Joy her gift then. (she is wearing it in the top photo). Yes it was a little bit early to give her the gift, but sometimes, you just gotta.
I think a full week of celebration is just the perfect amount of birthday-ing.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOY!
I'm back! It was a nice little break but I am back with photos and stories to share. I hope all of you are staying healthy and happy and adapting as best you can to this new temporary (we all hope) normal!
Yes, yes, things are closed everywhere...restaurants, theatres, museums and more. Events are cancelled and we are all trying to be smart and be safe. But luckily for me, they have not banned hiking or picture taking. We are still allowed to read and play games. Puzzles are ok as is conversation. And personally I am taking advantage of this extra time to do some major (and much needed) cleaning!
Speaking of hiking and taking pictures, as you can see, last Thursday Joy and I were at it again. (That's Joy with an Iris in her camera sights above)
This time we headed to another unknown (to us) preserve called Deer Prairie South. If that sounds at all familiar to you, it's because I wrote of the feral hog encounter Joy and I had earlier this season at a different Deer Prairie preserve. Thankfully, not this one. But I will say that due to the similarity of the names I was more than a little hinky as we walked along, always looking for the revealing fresh hog sign.
It was a lovely walk, quiet and beautiful. And I got what turned out to be one of my all time favourite photos here! Woohoo!
It's a Bluebird! I assume you've heard that a bluebird is a sign of happiness, right? Well I tell you getting this picture surely did make me happy :)
And it wasn't the only bird picture I got either. Usually I have trouble snapping birds because they move really fast and I am not good at tracking or anticipating their actions. However, I must have been having a stellar bird-day because I also got these:
There was a dam on one side of this preserve with a trail on the other side but of course we had no idea how to get there, other than wading through the water or balancing along the top of the dam. We opted to do neither and found the second, far more accessible, hiking trail wwwwaaayyy on the other side.
As always, there were some very sweet little posies along the way
And because apparently this is the season for it, a few dragonflies
And a few random things that are impossible to otherwise categorize;
We were out there for hours and still didn't cover all of the trails. We will most definitely be making a return visit. Hopefully soon. And the best part was the relief I felt when I saw zero wild hogs. None at all. Yay!
At least not until we were driving out of the preserve. Then of course we saw this:
Why does a wild hog cross the road? Well it could be just to unnerve me. But it's probably just to get to the other side.
This past Sunday, after errands and all of the other falderol that constitutes checking things off of the gotta-do list, Tim and I drove to Shamrock Park. With St. Patrick's Day coming up, it seemed timely ;)
Shamrock Park is in Venice, but off island and a bit south. It's a good-sized park tucked into a rather large neighborhood. It's trails connect to a slightly confusing network of other area trails, one of which, the Legacy Trail, is currently more than 10 miles long. Shamrock park also has both tennis courts and basketball courts, a very nice playground, a nature center and, to my surprise, a pretty little garden.
We don't go to Shamrock often to be honest, but either the garden is very new or I am totally oblivious because I honestly never noticed it before. But once found, I could not resist it. I spent some time just walking through the garden before we set off on our real walk. The flowers are all identified, which is very nice, (although I remember the names of exactly none of them) and of course I took photos. I am not positive, but I think this is supposed to be a butterfly garden. Lizards of course, are always welcome too.
Once we hit the trails, we found that we had lots of choices. Which way to go? So many forks in the path! We made our choices completely arbitrarily and somehow still ended up walking along the water. Almost always end up there. Maybe because we are both Cancerians our internal compass points us that way automatically? That sounds silly so that's probably not it, but still that is exactly what happened.
There were lots of interesting things to see and wildflowers to admire, birds, rocks, shells and other trails to wander. We found high spots and low spots and surprises around every turn.
There were so many things blooming that by the end I was getting a little sneezy. But this is spring, the sneezy part of the year. I don't care. I just love the green and the blossoms and the fragrance in the air. I think a little sneeziness is a small price to pay for living in such a beautiful place that has an early spring.
I really love our new habit of the Sunday Walk and I especially like that we find new places to walk every time. Hope you enjoy coming along with us ;)
Just so's you know's, we are taking a long weekend. So enjoy the next few days. We can catch up next Tuesday!
Hugs all 'round
This is unusual for me. Generally, I make a point to choose to write about tralalala things rather than topical, political, current event, news sorts of things the vast majority of the time. Why? Well you have already read about, heard about, watched and discussed the scary stuff ad nauseum. You don't really want or need to read about it from yet another source.`
Also I believe strongly in the "balance in the Universe" concept so here in my space, I like to provide a little balance: Funny Stories, photos of pretty things, happy events and quirky random thoughts. The other side of the coin so to speak.
But today, I am writing about the thing that everyone is thinking about, talking about, reading about, and if the media is correct, the one thing that we are terrified by - the Corona Virus and any of it's morphed cousins. Why? Because I am noticing that my usual happy countenance is a little dented lately and I attribute it to the constant barrage of fear mongering that surrounds me. Usually I can dust it off and go about my life being smart and cautious without succumbing to negativity of any sort. But I have just about had my fill.
In yesterday's newspaper, in just the first section, there were 10 articles about the virus. Three of them on the front page. Articles about how to properly wash your hands. Articles pointing fingers at whose fault this all is. Cruise ship lines be sued by the people quarrantined. Ettiquette questions about cancelling weddings or at least wedding receptions due to the virus. And of course the public outcry for school and other public venues to be closed for the duration.
When I tried to go grocery shopping, while there was plenty of food to be had there were enormous sections of the store with empty shelves. Completely empty.
Alcohol wipes of course, but also bottles of Isopropyl Alcohol and Witch Hazel (?) were all gone. Hand soap , bleach and Swiffer Pads were all MIA. The paper towels and toilet paper sections were ravaged.
We've been hearing about this virus for roughly 3 months now. First in far-away China of course. The first case identified in the US was January 20, 2020. This is March 11th. Nearly three months later and it's still dominating the news. Even over the upcoming Presidential Election and the circus that surrounds that.
I just would like us to keep this in perspective. As of this morning there have been a little more than 1000 cases identified in the US. And sadly, 30 people have died. Any death is a tragic loss. I am not trying to diminish that.
But let's think about this a second.
There are currently 327.2 million people in the United States of America. 30 people have sadly passed away from this virus. Out of 327.2 million. Let's compare that to just the regular old flu. The one the we are all supposed to get shots for every year. Between October of 2019 and February of 2020 there were 49,000,000 cases of the flu and 52,000 deaths directly related. I don't see the headlines screaming that at us for 3 solid months.
And of course I have no crystal ball. I have no idea how long this Corona virus will go on, I have no idea how many folks will get sick or, sadly, how many will lose the battle against it. But I"m pretty sure that preventing our friends and neighbors from buying toilet paper is not the answer.
And by the way, to everyone hording hand soap, it's not enough for you to have germ free hands, everyone around you needs to do the same. But if they can't buy any because you now have a life-time supply in your basement, you are still at risk.
I'm not suggesting that we should stick our heads in the sand and pretend that it isn't happening. That would be foolish and doesn't change the fact that, apparently, this invisible enemy (the virus itself) it out there lurking. I'm just saying that a little dose of common sense is advisable.
Don't allow the media hysteria to think for you. You have a brain of your own. Use it. Use it wisely and use it often.
Don't horde products. It's rude, it's inconsiderate and it's ineffective. Buy only what you actually need. (I just cannot imagine where people are storing all this stuff? Do they have an entire unused room in their house that is now just chokablock full?)
Don't allow this current topic to dominate your thoughts and your life. There honestly are other things going on in the universe, the world, your countery, your state, your town and your own household that deserve your attention.
Do be smart. If you are sick, stay home. Don't pass your germs around.
Do be considerate of other people.
Do take the normal precautions that you would during any flu type season. Wash your hands, wash them often and thoroughly.
Ok I am done lecturing. It's been on my mind. I won't mention it again. I promise.
Despite my best efforts, it has happened again. I speak of course, of Daylight Savings Time dagnabbit! I voted no. In fact, I voted a really LOUD no. And yet once again, it is upon us. I object. I object vociferously!
The TV, the computers and our cell phones all adjust to the new time perfectly fine. However, I do not. A lot of people do not. Nor does the clock on the stove, the microwave and the bedside clock do not. Those must be changed by hand. And as you can see, there was some operator error involved in that.
I woke this morning to see the sun in it's usual just peeping around corners position. That is how the inside of the house looks nearly every day when I wake up. So I was in no rush. I yawned and stretched and relaxed a moment, assuming that I had plenty of time to get the day underway. Tim however, got up and into the shower and zoomzoomed as if he were late. What the actual heck? So I got up to start his coffee (coz I'm a nice person sometimes) said something like, 'What's the rush' or something terribly clever like that. Only to find out that it was an hour later than I thought it was. Dang!
All day long now I will feel as if I am running behind myself.
It's sneaky, that's what it is. The morning felt like every other morning. The sun was in it's exact same spot as it is every day when I wake up..all on my own...no alarm clock necessary (most of the time) but somehow, some way, an entire hour of my life has been stolen from me! Gasp! Thief! Robbers! Who do you call for that kind of villiany? I'm pretty sure that 911 is not prepared for this. The police have no recovery team for stolen time. Pinktertons? Magnum P.I.? Ghost Busters? Maybe I would have better luck calling one of them.
Well that's what it feels like to me anyway. As if sixty minutes of my life were taken from me without my permission. And in fact completely against my stated wishes! Grump Grump Grump. I believe it was two years ago, but perhaps it was even three, the state of Florida decided that it didn't want to participate in this foolishness every year anymore. And they told the Federal Government so. That is a necessary step. For some reason, the federal government has to give states the permission to opt out. And they have not done so yet.
It's been kind of a long wait but I naturally assume that have been far too busy with other things to deal with our petty problems. Instead they've been doing other things like passing the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act and the National Flood Insurance Extension Act, both of which I know are very important. Fair Treatment and Flood Insurance. I'm on board with both of those things. But it seems to me that this particular issue wouldn't take a lot of time or debate to pass. Not really. What are they going to say, 'Hey, it looks like Florida doesn't want to participate in Daylight Savings anymore. What do you guys think?" "Sounds like a smart idea to me. Pass!" I cannot imagine any convincing arguments against it. It's not as if we were the first state to make this request. A precedent has already been set.
But alas, the issue apparently isn't urgent enough to be under discussion for the past two (or is it three?) years. They are much too busy with the Reauthorizing Security for Supreme Court Justices Act of 2019 and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Designation Act both of which, I'm certain, are of great value. And I say that with no sarcasm whatsoever.
I'm just wondering how many more years we have to literally Turn Back Time and spend a week or so walking around in a blur trying to adapt to an artificially created clock only to, six months from now, do the same thing in reverse.
Come on guys, squeeze this issue into your schedules. I'm pretty sure it won't take up much of your time to address it. Maybe if they had that extra hour that was lost over the weekend, they could have dealt with it then? I'm not getting any younger here. Every hour is precious.
I figure the government owes me 66 hours. One taken from every year of my life. Wow! That's a lot of hours. . I want them back.
Hope you are adapting better than I clearly am.
Happy Daylight Savings to ya!
Another Dragonfly Photo? Yup! Got this one last Thursday when Joy and I managed to carve out time in both of our crazy lives to hike twice in one week! Woohoo! And the second time we did a duet. That is two separate parks on the same day! It. Was. Awesome.
First of all, it was a gorgeous day. Sunny but not hot and not humid. And then of course, the photo worthy shots were abundant. I took nearly 300 pictures that day and Joy took even more. Wow! Of course once I got home and started going through them I whittled it down quite a bit. I am probably the most critical person that will ever judge my work and I get a little delete happy sometimes. Oh well.
Joy had seen my post on the visit Tim and I made to Ollie's Pond Park and, as it turns out, she had never been there so that was our first stop. There was only one other car in the parking lot so we assumed that we would be very much alone. We were not just wrong about that, we were wrongity wrong. Apparently, the people who live nearby walk over and enjoy it too and we don't blame them a bit. But we did get a lot more questions and conversation with strangers than we usually get. So that was new.
But it was all good. Have you ever recommended something to someone because you ate it or saw it or visited it and thought it was awesome, and then the person who recommended it to did it (on your recommendation) and hated it, thought it was terrible and now thinks you are crazy? That is always a concern at the back of my mind when I specifically recommend something. And it was when we went to Ollie's Pond Park especially since, at first, there really wasn't much to see worth snapping. And in my head I'm thinking...Oh Crap. I didn't want Joy to be disappointed with a place I thought was so amazing.
But then suddenly, every bird in the area showed up. Holy Cats! I even saw my very first stork. I mean in person. They look nothing like the cartoons of them by the way.
We spent a very long time walking around this pond. It's only a mile and we were there for over an hour. But there were so many things that we had to just stop and watch. One of my favourites was the birdbath.
And then there was my favourite photo of the day. Sssshhhh! He's sleeping.
We walked, we stood, we crouched and we peeked into shrubbery. We peered up into trees and peeked over deadfall and squelched through the wetter areas. We hid in the undergrowth and sometimes just sat on the ground to get our photographs.
Ollie's Pond Park turned out to be a big hit! YAYAY!
But we weren't done. We continued on to a park that was unexplored by either of us. Audubon Pennington Nature Park was only a few miles away so that was our next stop.
The two parks couldn't have more more unalike! Audubon Pennington was like a forest primeval. The trail was wonderful, very nicely kept with rustic and very clear markers that smacked of about the 1950's.
I have never seen so many ferns anywhere and they were enormous. Some were taller than Joy!
We saw Cypress Knees in the swamp which are just the craziest-coolest things ever
And a bee swarm! I have never EVER seen that before. We were in no danger. The bees were not remotely interested in us.
And all sorts of other coolio stuff:
We were gone for hours! It was a great duet of hikes, we got some terrific shots and had the chance to spend the marjority of a day together talking, laughing, walking and making the most of a wonderful day.
All too soon Joy and Bob will be heading back to Yellowstone again so we will take advantage of every opportunity we can get until then.
Since Spring has already sprung here, I thought I would try to help ease you into your weekend with a few random flower photos.
I hope your Saturday and Sunday are exactly what you want them to be!
See ya'll again on Monday :)
How do I feel about the telephone? It's complicated. On the one hand, it has been a boon to communication for sure. I mean, pre-computer era, other than a face to face discussion, it was the fastest and best method to communicate with family, friends and businesses. On the other hand, it often irks me to no end.
Let's not even take into account the fact that, with my hearing challenges there are some phones that are fairly useless to me. At the museum (where I am a docent) for instance, unless the room is dead silent - which almost never happens - all I hear on the other end is mmmph mmmph mmmph. I don't even bother answering the phone there anymore. I either let it go to voice mail or someone else picks up. It's sad. Very Sad.
I struggle a little bit understanding what people are saying when I talk on my cell phone but it's definitely better than the museum line. Our landline phone I do pretty well with usually. So i'm happy happy there :) Yay. Except that, the majority of the phone calls that we receive are crapcalls. Meaning, robo calls. Sooo annoying. Luckily we have caller ID so I know to not bother picking up the phone if it's not a number I recognize. Still, I do have to listen to it for 3 rings before it cuts off. Three really irritating rings. Grrrrr.
But the time the telephone annoys me to most is being put on terminal hold. Yes Yes I understand you are very very busy. But so am I! So are we all. Who has time for this balderdash?
For example early last week Tim and I got postcards in the mail reminding us to make our annual eye appointments. Well that was a thoughtful reminder. Thank you! The postcard directed me to call their number (which was listed right on the card - also thoughtful) to make the appointments.
It was Friday before I had time to make the call. No biggie. So around 9:30 am, giving them time to open their doors, check in the first patients, listen to voice mails and otherwise get settled in a bit, I dialed the number. Once through the system, (Press 2 for the Venice office) (press 4 to make an appointment) (Press 3 for Dr. L) a very pleasant voice suggested that I have my calendar and insurance card handy. Ok, good idea. I pull my insurance card out of my wallet. My calendar and pen area already right there. I'm ready.
And then a very pleasant voice assures me that my call is very important to them and gives me the option of leaving a message or continuing to hold. (If I wish to hold, press 2). I don't want to have to wait by the phone all day for them to call back...I have other things to do! So I press 2 to hold.
I will say that the 'hold' music is better than average. I danced a little bit in the kitchen while listening to the music and, because like everyone else I'm a busy person, I made good use of the time and emptied the dishwasher while I waited.
By the time all the dishes were put away, new dishes loaded in, the counters wiped down and the sink washed out, the voice interrupted the song once again to remind me that my call is very important to them. (Press 2 to continue to hold) Ok I pressed 2 again.
I didn't want to stray too far from my calendar and insurance card so I checked the progress of the laundry and found the dryer and washer were both done. Coolio. I loaded all the dry stuff into a laundry basket and dumped it on the kitchen counter then moved the contents of the washer into the dryer and started a new load of wash. While I waited, I danced a little more while folding the clean dry laundry. By the time I was surrounded by stacks of lovely tidy clean stuff, the voice once more reminded me of my importance to them. I pressed 2 one more time and put the laundry away.
When the laundry was put away, I grabbed a broom and..well it was a little awkward but I managed to keep the phone tucked between my shoulder and my chin while sweeping the front hall, the kitchen and my general desk area. I moved on to the other hall, the guest room and the family room before the voice once again soothingly told me of what a VIP I am in their eyes. I pressed 2.
I was no longer dancing to the music now. I started washing the inside of windows while waiting but I was getting a crick in my neck from holding the phone with my shoulder so I switched out to answering emails on the computer while I waited. By the time the voice interrupted the music again, I was deep into a computer game of Candy Crush. I moved on to dusting.
At the 35 minute point of waiting, the entire house was dusted and I was seriously giving thought to leaving my number and hoping for the best when I heard the clickclick of my call finally going through! Hurrah! I'm saved! I can make the appointments and move on with my life! Which was followed by a bigger click and the buzz of a closed line. I had been disconnected.
After a 35 minute wait, disconnected. Dang!
I did not call back until earlier this week. And while I was still on hold for a long time, ultimately I got to talk to a real person and the appointments were made. It's all good.
It's important for you to know here that in my paying gig, I worked for a group of Audiologists and my very first position there was front office so I do understand how it works. I was that voice on the other end of the line. And it's certainly possible that I may have accidentally hung up on a patient in my time at the front lines. The difference is, it wasn't the terminal hold disembodied canned voice that hung up, it was me. And I immediately called the patient back with a thousand apologies and took care of whatever caused them to call the office in the first place. And I never EVER left a patient on hold for 35 flippin' minutes. NEVER! And in fact, if it seemed that the patient was going to have to wait for an unreasonable amount of time, I would excuse the first call for a moment, connect with the waiting patient and ask if I could call them back. They almost always said yes. It's just polite.
I am not a fan of this situation, as you can see. But there is something that bugs me even more.
One of my doc offices contacted me recently by email. The email told me that there was a very important message to me from my physician in my patient portal. My what? My Portal? I have a portal? The old TV show 'Time Tunnel' immediately came to mind. The message went on to tell me that I had to call the office to get a current "token" to access my patient portal. A token? Is this a bus ride? What is this bit of rubbish?
Ok. Everybody wait a minute. Let me make certain that I understand this.
They send me an email. Yes. To tell me that I need to go online to read a Very Important Message from my physician. Yes. And this information is in my personal Patient Portal. Yes. But to get this message I have to first call the office. Yes. And go through the phone tree pushing all sorts of numbers. Yes. And then wait on hold. Yes. So that they can give me the secret handshake/code. Yes. To go back onto the computer. Yes. To access my patient portal. Yes. So that I can read the very important message from my physician. Yes.
Stop. Are you hearing what you are saying to me? I have to make a phone call to get the token that allows me to get into my patient portal on my computer to then read the information?
When I call to get the token, why don't you just tell me the information then? I mean, I'm already there on the other end of the phone!!!!!
It takes twice as long, easily, twice as long, to do this stuff than it should. Remember when computers were supposed to make our lives easier?
Ok I'm done. That's it. I was aggravated when I started but I'm better now.
After a two week break because our doggone schedules refused to match up, Joy and I finally got to get back out in the great wild for another Photo Safari! YAYAYAYAYAY!
For absolutely no reason whatsoever, we struck out for Sleeping Turtle Preserve. It's one that we don't often do, not because it's a lousy trek, because it's not, it's great. But because they have no bathroom. Not so much as a porta-potty. Dang. But we felt both brave and slightly dehydrated so off we went.
When we arrived, we were a little mystified when we saw a group of people crossing the road. There really isn't anything on the other side of the road except a very plain wooden fence. Right? I mean that's all we ever noticed. Lots of trees and a fence. A fence to me indicates private property. It's not ours, it's not public, it belongs to someone else. That is what a fence says to me. And we respect that. And yet, here was an entire group of people crossing the road toward the fence? Perhaps this need to be checked out further, was our thought.
Once the car was parked and locked and we had ourselves and our equipment all sorted out we decided that we ought to check it out. If it's just your basic fence, then we know for sure that we don't belong over there and we will just cross the road and come back. No big deal.
There isn't much traffic way out there. It's just a simple two lane road and as we headed down the other side into the unknown, lo and behold, look at that. I'll be darned. There is a trail! Or at least a series of trails AND a trail map so obviously yes! We are allowed to be there. What a terrific surprise! Woohoo! We love to explore a new trail. Well new to us at least.
This wonderful path turned out to be the hike of a zillion dragonflies. Oh me, oh my they were EVERYWHERE! Joy was able to capture so many more of them than I, but I managed to get a few of them;
I have no idea why there were so many of them but they were literally everywhere around us the entire hike. It was incredible. And very cool.
But now that I think about it, there were also lots of birds and butterflies and bees and....well perhaps it was actually the hike of many flying things?
And then we came across this sign. We were filled with a wee bit of trepidation as we tiptoed through this section.
I don't know if you've ever had the misfortune of being stung by a yellow jacket or not. Well, I have and let me tell you from personal experience, it freakin' hurts so bad! Definitely wanted to avoid doing that again. Yellow jackets to build their nests in the ground and they are mean buggers so believe you me we were super dooper careful where we stepped through this section. We greatly appreciated the warning!
The trails were very well marked and well tended. There was dappled shade/sun throughout. It was just so lovely. And to our surprise, that other group of people that we saw earlier that tipped us to the existence of this set of trails at all? We saw no sign of them the entire hike.
What we saw instead was beautiful huge trees, pretty flowers, the dragonfly convention, some extremely pretty spider webs and fascinating things down every interesting twist and turn of our path.
This is most definitely a trail worth repeating! We actually didn't even do the entire thing. Around trail marker 18 we decided that we were too thirsty and hungry to continue that particular day. So instead we called it a day, and went out to celebrate with Pizza! Yum!
But we will absolutely return to hike again on the other, surprising and unexpected side of Sleeping Turtle Preserve. This time it was the hike of a zillion dragonflies. I wonder what it will be next time?
As everyone who reads this blog is aware by now, we live on an island. It's really only an island by virtue of the fact that the entirety of the east side of our island is separated from the "mainland" of Florida by the Intercoastal Water Way. The entire west side is ocean. So we are surrounded by water. It really doesn't matter if it's Intercoastal water or ocean water, it's still water. Water that is too deep and too wide for a car to just drive through with a mighty splash.
This means that any time a person enters or leaves, they must go over a bridge (or swim or boat I suppose).
There are three different bridges to get on and off Venice Island. One on the north end, one roughly in the middle and one on the south end. And all three of them are Draw Bridges.
Which means that, from time to time, as you are merrily driving along intending to get on or off Venice Island, you may be faced with the above.
First there is the blasting of the warning horn. And believe you me it is loud! Then the "thou shall not pass" bar comes down with that dingdingding sound that I associate with a train coming down the tracks. And then ever so slowly, the bridge separates in the middle and rises so that tall masted boats or just tall boats, can pass beneath.
And that means you are going to have to wait until A) the boat(s) goes through B) the bridge has come up and gone back down and C) the "thou shall not pass" bar has gone back up. It's really not very long and there are things to look at while you wait, other cars, pedestrians who somehow think that the STOP only applies to cars so they walk up anyway and then are surprised that they also have to wait (that's always amusing), birds and of course boats.
Those of us who live here, even part time, are accustomed to this and factor in extra time for the drawbridge.....just in case...whenever we leave to go somewhere. Visitors however, are not always so sanguine about it all. In fact some of them kind of lose their minds a little bit. They huff and puff and honk their horns (because everyone knows that honking your horn helps - not) as they rest of us, turn up the radio, sing along, have a conversation and just relax for a minute. Island time people! The Drawbridge is part of that whole dealio.
Venice Island isn't the only place with a drawbridge entrance here. The state is lousy with them. Most of them are very similar to the one above. But some you have to pay to go over like the bridge to Gasparilla Island. And at least one that I know of is a one way bridge so only one car at a time can cross that would be the bridge at Blackburn Point.
But not every bridge is a drawbridge. There is the magnificent Skyway Bridge that we cross on the way to Tampa for example
If a boat cannot pass beneath this bridge, it's just too dang tall! This particular bridge is occasionally closed due to high winds. Yeah. Think about that. Then you have to take the long way 'round. Plan B.
Then there are the little bridges that you probably don't even notice. You know the ones. They just go so smoothly over a creek or other small waterway that if you didn't read the sign you didn't even realize it. And then there are over passes. Effectively bridges over other highways. I don't care for those. I'm not afraid of them but I confess they sometimes make me uncomfortable. Unless we are driving into a big city, like Tampa, we don't have to deal with those often. It's just a general feeling of discomfort, not a full blown phobia.
And by the way, Gephyrophobia is the anxiety disorder or specific phobia characterized by the fear of bridges. As a result, sufferers of gephyrophobia may avoid routes that will take them over bridges. People who suffer this particular phobia should probably not live on the Florida Coast. I do not think there is anyplace you can go on either coast of Florida that doesn't involve some sort of bridge.
I wonder how people with the bridge phobia feel about piers? Generally we walk across them not drive, but still it's crossing and it's high up and, hmmm I am curious. Anyone know the answer?
And then there are the adorable and picturesque covered bridges in the North East, although I believe there are fewer and fewer of them as the time goes by. I wonder if those impact bridge phobic folks too? I mean it's kind of enclosed.
Or train trestles? I mean if they are travelling by train. OR subways? Or...well that's enough of that I suppose. I'm just curious.
I would never EVER make fun of somebody's phobias. I know that they are real and very serious things. Lord knows I have plenty of my own! But luckily for me, considering where we live, the bridge thing is not one of them. Whew!
Meanwhile, the rest of you who are unaccustomed to waiting for a drawbridge, it's part and parcel of being on the coast of Florida. Take a deep breath and relax. Being upset about it isn't going to make the bridge go up or down any faster.
Sort of a public service announcement
We had quite an adventure on Saturday!
I should begin at the beginning. The most important part. Saturday was Minock Day! YAYAYAYAYAY! And it was decided that we would meet at Solomon's Castle! A Castle! I love castles.
Well they are calling it a castle anyway. It certainly appears Castle-like, right? I mean there are turrets and stained glass windows and even a few cannons and knights in armour. It wasn't very shiny but it was armor. Or much like the castle, armor-like. Close Enough!
What is this "castle" thing all about? Well I guess I need to back up in the story a little further.
Way back in 1971, a man named, Howard Solomon bought 90 something acres in Ona Florida. Ona Florida is rural. I cannot stress quite how rural it is. Cows, fields, cows, orange trees, tractors, zero cell service and cows. It was a pretty drive but it was out there. We saw a whole lot of this:
The late great Howard Solomon was a unique artist whose medium was whatever was at hand. He was, I suppose, a recycler before recyling became a "thing". And he was also a very Punny guy. The sort of puns that start you out groaning and end you up giggling. Some of his art is even Pun art. Like the gun that shoots a plunger for "flushing out perpetrators" or the car with the V-8 engine which is made out of........... Yes you guessed it, and endless pile of empty cans of V-8 juice! HAHAHAHAHAHAH!
His art is showcased all over the property beginning at the entry gate
But the majority of the collection in housed in the castle itself.
The grounds are lovely, with flowers, some of them fairly punny too like the flower bed which is of course:
But some of it was just lovely with big trees, lovely paths, flowers, a covered bridge and a few whirly gigs just for fun.
Oh! And Mr. Solomon wasn't satisfied with just building a castle. No, indeed. He also constructed a spanish galleon, a lighthouse and a replica of the Alamo. Why? He just did as his artistic muse instructed, I suppose.
The Galleon, or as he referred to it, The Boat in the Moat, (and there is an actual moat around the ship) is also a restaurant. Most of the tables are outside between the boat and the lighthouse. There was a singer/guitar player while we were there, a gift shop and a few cats roaming around as well.
And speaking of roaming, we wandered the grounds ourselves for a bit and discovered a few of his workshops. Intriguing bits of this and that every bit of which made me wonder what else he had planned.
Sadly, Mr. Solomon passed away 4 years ago. But his legacy lives on. From the crowds gathered that day to admire his life's work, I don't think that will change anytime soon.
It was a Great Adventure! And of course, we look eagerly forward to the next Minock Day! Woohoo in advance!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.