July 30th, 2021
Yesterday was hiking day so today, once more, I'm posting the Photo Safari Report! Are you ready? Then, let's go!
I'm calling this one the Rainy Day Hike. Because it was. Yeah, I know, we normally hike on Wednesdays but since Wednesday was a very rainy day, we postponed the hike to Thursday. When I woke up on Thursday morning it wasn't to an alarm clock but to a thunder boomer. Dang! I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen window to look out and saw steady rain. This was NOT in the forecast. Ratz. Joy and I rapidly exchanged texts and we were (fairly) certain that the rainstorm would be done by the time she arrived. It was not.
As Joy pulled into the driveway, I dashed out through the rain with all my gear and jumped in the car. We discussed the situation and the decision was made to drive back to Sarasota (where Joy started her day - poor thing drove back and forth multiple times that day) to hike Celery fields because the rain had already stopped up that way. Ok. Off we went.
Celery Fields is so named because at one time the area was precisely that. Fields of Celery. Now it is a park and a preserve. There are marshes, ponds, an 85 foot hill which is very likely the highest point in Sarasota, gardens, trees and therefore, also wildlife. We passed on the hill but set out to view the gardens straight away.
As it so happens, Big Cat Habitat is right next door to the gardens so as we snapped and viewed and ooooh'd and aaaah'd we heard lions roaring for their breakfast! A little unnerving.
Still, the gardens were beautiful, as gardens are. Everything was wet of course, but we knew it was going to be. The flowers and butterflies didn't care a bit. And bcause it was a fragrant garden, there were butterflies everywhere we looked! Did you know that a group of butterflies is called a Kaleidoscope?
Having finally exhausted all photo ops in that area, we moved on to the base of the hill. Joy had heard stories of barn owls living in a nearby falling down barn (where else would barn owls be?). We found the barn but saw no owls. They were probably there though because they are masters of camouflage so I'm not at all surprised that we didn't see them. So instead we took a few other pictures:
Next we moved onto the marshy/pondy area across the street which is the bulk of the preserve. There are also canals, boardwalks out to pavilions and a path that goes alllllllll the way around it. So of course, that's where we went!
We saw dragonflies everywhere, swarms of them sometimes! Their little wings glittered gold in the sunlight.
The boardwalks that go out over the ponds and marshes usually offer up a few good photos too:
As did the canals that we walked along. One of my favourite moments was seeing the little duck family. So Cute!
There was something to see in every direction as we walked and my eyes are trying to go everywhere at once! It was pretty awesome.
We just never know what is going to happen on Photo Safari Day! And honestly, that's one of the best parts about it. Each one is an adventure! Thanks for coming along ;)
July 28th, 2021
We all have them. Those kind of days y'know? And all you can do is roll with it. No point in trying to fight it because the day is going to win no matter what you do.
Recently I had one of those days and I knew that it was from the start. I suspected it when, in spite of how tired I was, I still was wide awake at 3 am. And 4 am. And so forth. I had an inkling it when I ran out of conditioner in the shower. I was pretty darned sure when I found that the pants I was going to wear were missing a button. But I was positive when I went out to get the newspaper and found that our delivery person had (unintentionally I am positive) tossed it directly into a large puddle whereupon it drowned never to be revived. I brought it inside and threw it directly into the garbage.
This was immediately followed by me dropping and breaking one of Tim's favourite coffee cups (sigh) I knew without even checking in the mirror that my hair, that day, would look more like a really cheap bad wig (and it did). And I was not at all surprised to learn that when I gave myself a long over due pedicure and then waited an hour before putting on my socks and shoes, that it wasn't quite dry and my polish now had a texture that wasn't at all the look I was going for.
It was the kind of day when I would not be surprised to hear that a favourite TV show had been cancelled or some food I had recently purchased had been recalled or that alien's had landed in my back yard. (none of those things happened, but I if had been informed of such I would have nodded and said, "Sounds about right")
Even very small annoying things seem bigger than usual on a day like that. I went to get my 2nd Pnuemonia shot at our local pharmacy on Monday which means that I spent a significant amount of time there. On the drive home, I got a text from them saying that my auto-fill prescription was ready for pick up. ARGH! I was just there! Now I have to go back. It's not a horrible thing to have to do. It's certainly not difficult but come one...I was literally just there. I left Minutes Ago! Which means that while I was getting the shot, someone else was filling that prescription!
It's the kind of day where a planned hike gets rained out. Or worse, appears to look like a great day but half way through the hike, the sky opens up and then we are hiking in muck, soaked through to our bones, with wet cameras and worse (even more expensive) hearing aids!
The sort of day when I accidentally use baking soda instead of baking powder in my biscuits. Never a good outcome. It's the day when immediately after I finish vacuuming and washing all of the floors, someone drops a glass of orange juice. Which is probably also the day when I drip spaghetti sauce onto a white blouse. Why always onto something white? Never fails. White blouses must have some magnetic property that calls to anything red that stains. Only if it stains. If it doesn't stain, then no, it will never drip.
When those days happen, and they do, to everyone, eventually, I don't shake my fist at the sky and curse. I just keep moving forward. I clean up the mess, I change my plans, I live with the ruined nail polish for a few more days, I throw out the biscuits and replace the broken mug. I put my hair in a ponytail and rewash the floor and say Howdy do to the Aliens in the backyard. One of the first best lessons I learned about life, is how to roll with it. And I learned it pretty young too. I remember doing the shrug and sigh in elementary school. It was California so it would have been before the 4th grade. Even way back then, little bitty Sam knew that all you can do with a really bad day, is to get through it. Move on to the next day.
I always feel a little like Scarlett O'Hara when I say it, but it's true. "After all, tomorrow is another day."
Hope You are having a great day! I will have one tomorrow ;)
July 27th, 2021
And the Sunday Adventure Continues with Part Two! If you read yesterdays post, you saw that Tim and I visited the Sunken Gardens in St Petersburg Florida on Sunday and had a wonderful time. So good in fact, that we weren't ready for the day to be over yet. Tim read about a pretty park just a few blocks away from the gardens called, Crescent Lake Park. (photo above)
Be forewarned though, do not confuse Crescent Lake Park with Crescent Lake. Because those are two completely different places. In this case, Crescent Lake is north of Orlando and about 195 miles north east of St. Pete's (about a 3 hour drive). This is Crescent Lake Park. Completely different. Yeah, I know, it's all kinds of crazy. But when you live in Florida you learn pretty quickly that crazy is normal :)
About Crescent Lake Park, way back in the early 1900's a very nice man named, C. Perry Snell owned this area, about 48 acres, which he envisioned as becoming a city park. He sold it to the city at a very low price, with the stipulation that it be used as such in 1919. The city also purchased a few adjacent acres thus growing the park to it's current 56 acres and voila, a lovely city park was born.
There is a baseball field (which by the way, once upon a time was the training field for the New York Yankees. Think Babe Ruth!) , large grassy areas, so many lovely trees and benches and a paved walkway that circumnavigates the entire 18 acres lake. A good sized playground sit on one end and an old water tower, circa 1923, which an artist has painted to look like an aquarium sit on the the other end.
In between, is that pretty lake and all of the creatures that it attracts. I understand that back in the 1920's one of the critters it attracted were some monkeys but we saw no signs of those. Didn't see the alligator we were warned about either. But we did see people relaxing and reading and even snoozing under the trees, kids playing on the playground and families riding bikes. Dogs of all sizes were walked and hammocks were strung in between trees for a nice afternoon nap. There was fishing and picnicking and space for kids to just run around being goofy.
The surrounding neighborhood is adorable with nicely kept houses and tidy yards. There were a few "for sale signs" and of course I looked them up. While most of the homes are a little older, they all seem to be as beautiful inside as out. What a wonderful place to choose to live, right across from this gorgeous park, only a few blocks from the Sunken Gardens and restaurants and shops and well, we were utterly charmed.
I got a few photos of the area wild residents too. Some on the water, of course:
Others preferred the greener areas:
One showoff (it's always the Anhinga) living the fence life:
A dragon fly and several very entertaining squirrels:
And what I call, The Showdown! There was a bird and a turtle both trying to go opposite directions on what was clearly a one-way bridge. When they met, face to face in the middle, I could hear the music from, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly playing in my head. We had to just stand and watch to see how it all turned out.....
There was no end to the entertainment found at Crescent Lake Park on Sunday. But the day was growing later and we still had the drive home so reluctantly, we headed back south. Perhaps we will return another day.
Oh and I neglected to tell you yesterday, something that I only just learned. And I absolutely love it. A group of Flamingos is called a Flamboyance! Isn't that perfect!! HAHAHAHAHAH!
Have a great day!
July 26th, 2021
Yes We Did! Tim and I did visit the Sunken Gardens yesterday. And it was absolutely lovely. The Sunken Gardens are north of us, up in St Petersburg Florida, roughly an hour away. We've been to St. Pete's a few times now, and always enjoy our time there. It's an unexpected delight of an exit off of a madly busy multi-laned highway after driving along, crazy busy, zooming traffic, big city skylines, and of course that is after driving over the big bridge.....
.... suddenly, I can relax and breath again. It's quieter and gentler and absolutely charming. It's an older, more laid back, quirkier part of the greater Tampa/St Pete's area and I really love it. But while I had heard about the Sunken Gardens we had never been here before.
It's unexpectedly, right in the middle of everything. There we were driving down a city street, seeing banks and restaurants and nail salons on both sides of us and in the midst of all of that, suddenly there it is.
Originally, back in 1903, a gentleman by name of George Turner, a plumber by trade, bought 4 acres of land. He built a home and drained a pond on the property which now revealed wonderful, yummy, rich soil which is like catnip to a gardener. Luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Turner were both avid gardeners. The level of land behind the house, including the now empty pond, gradually dropped by 15 feet below the street level, hence the "Sunken Garden". Mr. and Mrs. Turner began building their garden with fruits and exotic plants from all over the world which thrived under their care. By 1924, the garden was attracting visitors from all over and Mr. Turner began charging guests a nickel to walk through which they gladly paid. In the 1990's the gardens were designated a Landmark and are now owned by the City of St Petersburg.
It was an absolute delight. First of all, there were mostly shady and interesting walkways winding slowly down and through layer upon layer upon layer of towering trees and beautiful waterfalls!
There were blooming hedges and fern covered rock walls and arbors of every sort:
We walked past lily ponds and unexpected sitting areas:
I'm sure you noticed the large Koi in the photo of one of the ponds just above. Well as it so happens, we learned that quite a few birds and other creatures call the Sunken Gardens home. It was a surprise to us!
Some of the others birds that I did not manage to get pictures of were parrots, macaws, cockatiels and kookaburra! All of them are beautiful, some of them are very VERY loud!
Green things, in an infinity variety of shades of green, abounded. Trees, plants, shrubs of every shape and size. Many with fancy patterns on them:
And of course, the stars of the show, the flowers. So Many Flowers! So many in fact, that I think I will group them by colours! Bear in mind that this is just a sampling of what this place has to offer.
First the Yellows and Whites:
Then Reds and Oranges:
Now Pinks, Blues and Purples:
It was a wonderful way to spend our day and actually that wasn't the end. After we left the Sunken Gardens we moved on to a wonderful park that was only about two blocks away in an adorable residential area and whiled away an hour or so there as well!
But that's a story for another day. So I guess you will have to wait until tomorrow for Part Two.
Meanwhile, suffice it to say that Tim and I had a wonderful Sunday! The smiles tell the tale:
July 23rd, 2021
Clearly Joy and I were out there once more, cameras in hand, with steely gazes and noble hearts, prepared to face (almost) anything in our quest for good photos! Yes indeedy, it's time for another Photo Safari! Aren't you excited? I'm calling this one the Blue Jay Way hike. Why? Take a look:
Look at all those blue feathers! Ok, Ok, they aren't Blue Jays. They are actually Scrub Jays. But the Beatles didn't write a song called, Scrub Jay Way now did they? Let's agree to call it poetic license and let it go at that.
The things about the Scrub Jays is that not only are they easy to spot due to their bright blue feathers, but they are also a very bold bird. They are not the least bit intimidated by a human presence so they do not hide. As Joy and I were walking along the trails, they were everywhere around us, in the trees, in the shrubs and even just on the trails alongside us. A few times we had to back up to get a particular photo because they were just too dang close!
Now other birds, such a cardinals, are a lot more skittish and shy. Even though the male cardinal has those bright red feathers which you would think would make it impossible to hide successfully, they are masters of finding hidey holes in their favoured thickets. And they are definitely not trusting of human-kind. At one point we came upon an area that was home to several dozen cardinals but to photograph them, we had to be silent and absolutely immobile. And even then, they moved quickly and continually. So the photos are not spectacular.
There were of course, a variety of other birds all around as as we hiked. Mostly birds I did not capture (ratz) but a few that I did:
Initially I thought this was going to be a floral themed hike because there were so many flowers! I love when there are flowers :) And sometimes, when there are flowers, there are also bugs or bees or dew drops or, well, you just never know
And speaking of 'you just never know' to quote myself, one of the coolest things we saw was animal tracks. At one point we were hiking down a trail that no human been on recently. And we know that because it was loaded with very clearly defined animal tracks! All Sorts of Animals! I have the advantage of hiking with a former Ranger so Joy is able to ID any footprints that I cannot. We saw bunny prints and deer, loads of different sorts of birds, a few snake prints, a few other critters AND one big cat! Oh yeah. That was pretty awesome. He (or she) trotted right down the center of the trail with no worries about anything or anyone. That cat is definitely the "big dog" at the park. And lest you doubt the veracity of my claims about the size of the kitty in question, here is a paw print next to Joy's shoe. Big Kitty.
We saw other creatures too:
And, my favourite category, once again, the Rando Files:
It was so hot, so humid, so filthy out on the trails and we were exhausted by the time we returned. But we would (and will) absolutely get out there and do it again. It's all a part of the adventure.
July 21st, 2021
I just won an award with this photo. I'm not saying that to brag, honestly I'm not. I just wanted to talk about photography a little bit today, since I am still (and forever) learning. And I think maybe I might have gotten something a little bit right.
I'm not absolutely certain why black and white photography is calling to me, but it kind of is. More and more often, as I am literally snapping a shot I am also making the decision whether that particular photo would be better served in colour or black and white. And often, recently, the answer is black and white. I have the photo above in both B&W and colour. And honestly is it eons better without the distraction of colour. I will show you.
Here it is in colour:
It's the exact same picture. But my eye is going everywhere in the colour photo, the various levels of back ground (layers: fence, trees, boats, buildings) and those wonderful repetitive patterns in the shadows, chairs and fence are almost lost. It's not a bad photo in colour, it's just improved by removing the colour.
Though I suppose I could argue that grey, black and white are actual colours. But it's referred to as black & white. Ok, let's say that rather than a photo without colour, it is a photo of limited colour.
I'm not saying that every picture is better in black and white because that's simply not true at all. Here is an experiment that clearly shows the colour photo is the better one:
In the instance above, while the black and white picture is, ummmm, interesting, it's the colour photo that has life. The colour photo is very obviously the better picture in this instance. But there are very definitely times when less (colour) is more.
At first, I didn't know why I preferred one b&w photo over another. But I studied on it, considered it, thought about it, analyzed it, ruminated over it and eventually actually started doing some reading about the topic (when all else fails, read the directions eh?). Here are a few of my better black & white pictures:
Turns out that my instincts were correct. There were very clear reasons why some of my attempts at b&w photography were more satisfactory to me than others. There are guildlines to this kind of photography (as there are to every kind of photography). And what I seem to have learned here is this:
1) The light needs to be clean and strong to create the impactful shadows that are make-or break 2) The subject needs to be simple and specific. If there is too much going on, it's just a mess with no central theme. 3) Sometimes black & white photography affords a fun vintage feel that is one step beyond what you would have with the same photo in colour. 4) Good Strong Contrasting elements are important. Here are examples of me doing it correctly:
and then incorrectly. Clearly less successful photos:
I still have SO MUCH to learn. But that's part of the fun.
Ok I'm done talking about photography for today. Class dismissed.
July 20th, 2021
Hey, I don't think I mentioned I'm back working at the museum! That's a picture of it up top.
It was nice to be back. But wow, it's been awhile. And in fact, when I checked (Naturally I was curious, wouldn't you be?) to see when was the last time I logged into the museum computer, it turned out to have been almost exactly 17 months before. Wow!
So last Tuesday, which was my first day back, I was more than a little concerned about how much I would remember, or perhaps it was more concern of how much I had forgotten. I knew that some things had changed in the interim of course. There were some protocol and procedural changes which would be new to all returnees. But how much of the facts & figures, how much history, how many important bits of information have fallen off the memory shelf in my brain?
Well, as it turns out, I was right to be concerned. The first thing I forgot, right off the bat, was my log-in password. Dang it! Passwords are the bane of my existence. I was hoping that muscle memory would kick in, that the simple act of sitting at the keyboard in the museum, after typing in my name the password would just automatically follow. It did not. Ratz.
All of the new P&P have been written down of course, so my first course of action (once past the password debacle) just involved reviewing the new information. But the "cashregister" which was fairly new just before lockdown, was a vague and distant memory. The first guest who made a purchase last Tuesday had me drawing a complete blank. And so I did what all the greats do, I faked it. On the outside I was all smiley and pleasant and began to engage her in conversation. On the inside I'm thinking..."Hmmm that looks like touchscreen...let's see what happens if I.....oh yeah!" And I did that all the way through the process. It worked!
Answering questions was......interesting. Some things I actually remembered exactly perfectly and correctly (YAY). Other things I remembered well enough that I could be fairly vague and still accurate while pointing the guest in the correct direction toward various displays and/or pamphlets. And luckily, the one question asked that my answer would have been dead wrong (dang!) my boss was in the room and answered for me. Whew! Clearly I need to study up again!
I muddled my way through the first day back similarly to the way I muddled my way through my first day ever. And way back then, I improved as I went so I can only assume the same will happen this time.
Oddly some of the biggest things I'm having trouble remembering have nothing to do with the museum directly. But remembering how to Dress to get back to work has been tricky. I haven't had to dress nicely since March of 2020. So remembering which top goes perfectly with what skirt or trouser? Which shoes did I wear with that? What earrings? And, just to add another layer of complexity, it's always a little too cool for comfort inside the museum so while it's hotter than aitch ee double hockey sticks outside, I always must remember to bring a sweater or jacket to wear inside. But which ones go with which outfit? Frankly, it's a mystery whose solution involves spending a ridiculous amount of time trying and discarding clothing each work day.
Then there are there other little things I have forgotten like, What time do I need to leave home to arrive when I expected? Where the heck did I put my ID badge? And how on earth do I put makeup on properly? It's been awhile.
I'm sure, in time, it will be smooth sailing again. Hopefully soon, I will know the answers to our guests questions. And if I don't know the answer, I will at least know where to look for the answer. I will be able to dress in under an hour and look halfway decent when I'm done. I will remember my ID badge and my password every day. And mostly importantly, I will once again develop the knack for putting mascara on my eye lashes and not also get it on my nose, my forehead or my cheeks.
It's good to be back and in a few weeks, it will be even better.
July 19th, 2021
Happy Monday to ya! How was your weekend? Ours was delightful! In fact it was so good that I think today I will have to do a little product promotion. And we will start with the awesome food that we had on Saturday down in Ft Meyers at Capone's. "Pizza so good it ought to be illegal" is their tagline. See photo above. Oh yeah, it is well deserved.
Capone's totally embraces their name. The inside smacks of an old speak-easy with a lot of woodwork and Capone-era decor. There is a glass covered floor safe and it's surrounding room on view, and photographs of Big Al himself. I cannot speak to the Men's room of course, but they keep the theme going right into the ladies room which is quaintly old fashioned. Well, except for the small flatscreen that plays a continual loop of old newsreels about the prohibition era.
The food, oh my gosh, the food. As soon as we walked in the door I took a deep breath and was transported to happy happy pizza land. Of course they also had pasta, soups, sandwiches and some deserts that were very hard to resist (though we did). I think the only bad thing to say about Capone's is that is' too far away from Venice. Totally Worth the Drive!
Let's see what else. Ah! Do you remember last week when I wrote about having cut my fingers? Well I've been having one heck of a time getting it to heal. For several reasons: 1) I am ridiculously clumsy and I keep accidentally whacking it, which re-opens it and then it starts to bleed all over the place again - ick and 2) it's a nasty cut to begin with. In retrospect I probably should have had stitches, oh well. also 3) it's in a difficult place to bandage properly. It always takes two band-aids. One around the circumference of my finger and another over the top.
Wearing a bandage helps of course, but it's so awkward. At the museum last week I accidentally hit the wrong button on one of the tv's because of that bulky band-aid. I had to go get someone to help me right the wrong and while ultimately it was squared away, it should never have happened in the first place. Also while bandages protect an injurty, they aren't particularly absorbent so when my cut begins to bleed (again) it isn't long before the band-aid needs to be replaced (again).
Consequently after accidentally knocking my finger into something while we were out and about over the weekend and then in a panic frisking the car for an old tissue or napkin or SOMETHING to stop the bleeding once again, Tim got the brainiac idea to stop at a nearby Walgreens to get some New Skin.
Brilliant! Instead of going broke buying box after box after box of band-aids on a regular basis - I am a frequent flyer - A swipe of this liquid over the cut and voila I am completely protected for a least half of the day whereupon, I simply swipe a little more.
Initially the feel of it was a little weird. It feels almost like scotch tape on my finger tip. Ok that's not exactly it. Hmmmm. Ok here it is, when you were a kid, did you ever quickly dip your finger into hot wax? That's the feeling without the heat, of course. New Skin is a funny name. It's not skin. If we could buy actual new skin, I wouldn't have all these wrinkles and freckles! But it does work amazingly well and it's not bulky like a bandage and there are a LOT of applications in each bottle.
The only negative I can think of is that the bottle is glass. In my hands that is an accident waiting to happen. Still a great product.
Another highlight this weekend:
We had dinner from Chipotle last night! Woohoo! First time in more than 5 years. I do not recall the last time we ate at a Chipotle, but I know it was in Colorado. Why have we waited so long? Well, the nearest Chipotle to us is in Sarasota, which is about a half hour away, so it's not the first thing that comes to mind when we think about eating out.
Then too, there was an eating out intermission for the past, what? 17 months or so, so that must be taken into account as well. But we were up in Sarasota yesterday and mid-afternoon we happen to drive past a Chipotle and I said, "Oooo Chipotle, yummy". I said it rather softly and actually only to myself. But since there were just the two of us in the car and Tim's hearing, unlike mine, is very good, he picked up on it. "Are you in the mood for Chipotle?" he asked me. Well I wasn't quite sure so we finished what we were doing up that way and before we headed back toward home he asked again if I wanted Chipotle for dinner. It had been sooo long since we had it that I decided Yes! And Tim pulled into the parking lot.
We approached the restaurant only to find big signs on their door saying that they are only taking on-line orders. It is still not an eat-in restaurant. No Big Deal. Tim down loaded their app onto his phone, we placed our orders, waited about 10 minutes or so then Tim went in to pick it up. He said no one spoke to him. They have it worked out so that they fill the orders, bag them and then staple the receipt - with the purchasers name on it and set the bags in a pick up area. So we literally picked up our order and drove home.
It was as good as I remember and they filled the order exactly as we requested. Yay! I wish that could be said of every restaurant but alas, that is not the case. The only downside being that it was a 30 minute drive back home so while the food was warm, it was not hot. Still awesome but if we could have eaten in house, it would have been piping hot and even better.
The last product I will rave about today had to do with yesterday being National Ice Cream Day. You probably already know that every single day of the year is National something day, right? I am In The Know more than a lot of people about all of the national whatever days because Middle Son writes a usually funny but sometimes sweet little blurb on FaceBook every day about whatever the National Day is. I love reading his blurbs but sometimes the declared days are ridiculous. Recently there was a National Yellow Pig Day and not just any yellow pig but yellow pigs that have 17 eyelashes. I don't understand it but it's a fact. How does one celebrate that?? Other than by shaking my head and chuckling a little over the absurdity, I mean
But occasionally there is a National Something Day that especially appeals. National Donut Day used to be a huge one. When we lived in Colorado, one of the doctor's I worked with was a big fan of donuts. Although she was very athletic and super fit and frankly, gorgeous, she had a passion for donuts that is unparalleled. Tim always dropped off at my office a huge box of locally made donuts with her in mind on that day. It's in June sometime I believe. We have also celebrated National Cheesecake Day before. Usually with a trip to the Cheesecake Factory where the most difficult decision is what flavour to get!!
But yesterday was National Ice Cream day. Originally I was thinking of maybe stopping by DQ to try out a small version of the new Toll House Cookie Blizzard. But by the end of the day, when I realized that I was still not full even after glutting on my Chipotle, but I was too lazy to go back outside into the rain for ice cream, instead I checked the freezer in the utility room. I wasn't certain if there was any ice cream in there or not. Turns out I was in luck. There was!
The last time that Ben & Jerry's was on sale (BOGO!) at my local grocery store, I came across a flavour that was new to me. S'mores flavour. Hmm interesting. I decided to take a chance, bought it (and Americone Dream - Yummy), put them in the freezer and promptly forgot about them.
I'm not usually very adventurous with food. I have the things I like and I tend to stick to those tried and true items. But this was intriguing. Who doesn't love S'mores, right? But in ice cream? There are so many ways that could go wrong. So as I unwrapped protective cellophane and lifted the lid, I wondered if I had made a mistake? Only one way to find out. I dipped my spoon in and.............................................bliss!
Marshmallow flavoured ice cream - Brilliant! This is why these guys are so successful. Genius creativity. Add the chocolate flakes and graham cracker swirls and it was heaven. It was so good! I enjoyed every single bite. Only down side? There is no downside. I refuse to feel guilty over any calories consumed yesterday. Only yummy upsidedness :)
So there you go. Four specific product recommendations in one blog post!
July 16th, 2021
It's Friday which means hey, most of us are starring down the barrel of the weekend! YAY!
The photo? Oh it has nothing to do with the weekend per se. I didn't have a "weekend" photo for this post and I liked this picture. That's all :) Oh I suppose I could have stretched it and said something about how most people feel very strongly about the weekend, they either love it or dread it, it's a very Black & White issue. (hence the black and white photo). Or perhaps a connection link to how the bird, appears to be starring down at his own reflection and here we are "starring down the barrel of the weekend" as I wrote in the opening today. But I try to always be honest and honestly, I just didn't have a good header photo for today's blogpost.
Anyway, do you have any plans? The only thing I know for sure are that tomorrow we are going to Costco so I guess we have a Saturday plan. I am a huge fan of saving money and there are some things at Costco that are very definitely money savers! Of course buying in bulk means making sure you have room for the Large Economy Size of everything purchased there. So customers do have to take that into consideration. And we do.
When we set up the utility room we intentionally denoted a specific spot for bulk paper products. It's so handy to have paper towels, toilet paper, laundry soap, zippy bags and so forth in large quantities so they are always on hand. And bonus those things are almost never on the weekly grocery list. Big money saver! BUT when buying in bulk these are items that take up a great deal of space. Ours is a small house, which means limited storage. We definitely put thought went into all of our storage solutions. Especially Costco related storage.
Hey do you remember the olden days when Costco always offered samples of stuff? All kind of different foods and drinks in nearly every aisle. You could walk through the store tasting things you didn't even know existed, while replenishing your supplies of paper goods and coffee pods, get a decent amount of exercise (it's a HUGE place!) all the while saving some money. Good Stuff.
I also like how quick and efficient check out is. No matter how busy it is, how long the line is, check out goes pretty darned fast. I am absolutely in favour of that. I don't think anyone really enjoys standing in lines forever, right?
They have such a wide variety of items to buy there. It's not just food and paper products! They have furniture, linens and clothes too! We've never purchased electronics or jewelry there though it's fun to look at, but we have picked up other odd items that we might nor ordinarily buy in a grocery store, like hats or Christmas decor and once I bought a sweater there which leads me to something I am not a fan of at Costco.
My least favourite thing about the place is how freakin' cold it is inside. Tim of course loves it. But here it is, the middle of July in Florida (which means hot) and tomorrow I will bring my denim jacket with me because if I don't, in very short order my teeth will be chattering and I will have chill bumps on my arms. Which is why that one time, I bought a sweater there! I know, I know, most people don't mind the cold at all and this time of year probably find it refreshing. I'm just weird.
We like to go up and down every single aisle and see what's there. It can be different, week to week. And sometimes they have the strangest things and I find that so much fun. We will point things out to each other, sometimes stop and read the packaging and every once in awhile, something finds it way to our carriage. It's not on the list but hey, gotta have some fun too.
I know that they have discounted cruises and window treatments and other unexpected thing such as: musical instruments and playscapes and saunas! You can buy barns (not joking), very cool kitchen gadgetry and even vending machines through Costco! And at Christmas time, it is a go-to place for decorating and gifts for a LOT of people!
We've been Costco members for a long time. I cannot remember if we joined in Connecticut or Colorado, but I do recall checking out several relatively local shopper club kind of places such as BJ's, Sam's Club as well as Costco before settling on Costco. Frankly I have no recollection at all about why we decided on Costco over the others. But I'm so glad we did.
Tomorrow is Costco Day! Yay! No idea what we're doing on Sunday but Yay for Sunday anyway!
Hope you guys all have a great weekend too!
July 15th, 2021
Joy and I went hiking yesterday so today, of course, would be the Photo Safari Report! I am calling this one, the Hike of Four Trails. Because, instead of just doing one long hiking trails (or series of trails) we actually visited 4 different parks!
We left extra early and drove about a half hour south to Port Charlotte and Ollie's Pond. The last time we visted Ollie's, the water was very low and there wasn't much going on. This time around, the water in the great pond was nice and high and you could hear birds everywhere around. But the greenery has grown so high and thick that we could only actually see a small fraction of them. That's ok. We saw enough:
I captured a few pretty flowers, a dragonfly and of course the pond itself as well:
The most unusual part of Ollie's pond was a turtle that we saw. He appeared to be trapped in an overflow retainment pond. We were worried about him so I looked up the Port Charlotte Parks department and emailed them about the poor turtle. They actually contacted me today (how nice!) and explained that the turtle actually can get back out via an access under the path. Whew! What a relief:
Poor Joy was being eaten alive by mosquitos so when we got back to the car, she applied copious amounts of bug bite cream followed by even more copious amounts of buy spray before we moved on to the Audubon- Pennington Preserve which is in the same town.
It's a completely different space. It's sort of a peninsula surrounded by water and very very VERY green. Not a lot of flowers or birds but other interesting things for sure. It's very beautiful and peaceful, but a little swampy here and there and the muck we had to trek through proves it. Ah well, sneakers are machine washable after all. Here is a mish-mosh of pictures from Hike Two:
With wet feet and muddy shoes we got back in the car and headed north, back toward Venice. And along the way we stopped at the Senator Bob Johnson Landing, more commonly know as Senator Bob Park. It's not very big but it does have the tremendous advantage of a large, clean, new bathroom. Also a canoe launch and small, but pretty park. Since we were there anyway, we stopped to take a few photos:
The last stop was the Rookery. Not as many birds as usual though the water is higher, thank goodness, which means, other than by the bat houses (and they have quite the condo-complex of them now) which stink to high heaven, the rest of the area smells much better now. When the water is low, dear lord, the smell could curl your hair. For now, here are a couple of birds and a few flowers from yesterdays visit.
As always we had a great time, it was a very fun day and we look eagerly forward to next week. Who knows where we will go or what we will do then!
July 13th, 2021
Do you notice anything different about our cute little courtyard? You've seen picturesof it before of course. But something has changed, can you tell? It's not a trick question really but it's kind of a trick photo. Let me show you from a different perspective:
Ok this photo is from the driveway, outside the courtyard. Is that any better? Do you see it yet?
No? I will try it from one more direction. I'm sure you will see it this time:
Here you go, from inside of the house. See it now? Yay! You got it! We have a Sail Shade! Woohoo!
We love our courtyard. It's like having another room on the house. An outside room to be sure, but still living space. It has a nice seating area, pretty plants, the wall for semi-privacy and it's cozy and charming. In fact, it was one of the things that endeared this particular house to us when we were on the great Venice House Hunt a little more than 5 years ago.
But in the summer time, holy cats is it hot out there! With no overhead cover, the sun just beats down relentlessly. The rest of the year it is an absolute delight. But summertime? No Thank You Very Much Please! Instead of being another room on the house, all summer long it's merely part of the passageway from house to car and back again.
Then there is also the rain issue. I don't know if you've heard but it rains here in the summertime. It rains a LOT. So much so that what you and I call the "summertime" Floridians call "The Rainy Season". Don't get me wrong, the rain is a good thing. It's why this state is so very green and flowery with lots and lots and LOTS of trees. And because there is a lot of green grow-y stuff, there are also birds and butterflies and bees and critters of all sorts! And it's at least part of why the air smells so good. And the ponds and rivers and streams are full which means there are lots of fish and well you see what I mean. It's one of those domino effects except this is a good one.
The only disagreement that I really have with the rainy season is that it especially likes to rain in late afternoon and evening. Exactly when I might be preparing dinner. And especially during the summer, I like to grill. Partly because Tim just likes things prepared on the grill but also because it keeps the house from getting heated up. The AC already struggles against summer temps, let's not make it any harder than necessary, eh?
As you can see in the first photo, we tucked the grill up under the eaves of the house. So that's great for the actual grill and the food being cooked upon it. Unless the rain is coming in sideways (and sometimes it does), the grill doesn't get wet. But I do. Only the grill is under the overhang, not the griller. (that would be me) I do not especially enjoy standing in the rain while cooking. And I have tried juggling an umbrella while flipping burgers but, alas, I am not graceful or coordinated enough to be proficient at that.
We considered all sorts of solutions over the past five years. We knew that there had to be something that would work. Originally we had a big patio umbrella that, if maneuvered just right would cover at least one person sitting in the sun or part of whoever was grilling (one or the other, it wouldn't do both). But it wasn't so good in the rain because, at least around here, if there is rain there is also an uptick in wind. Open umbrella plus wind means that I will spend at least some period of time chasing the umbrella down the street. So while it was sort of a solution for the sun issue, it did not solve the rain issue.
The Sail Shade definitely is a Terrific Solution for the sun issue. Everyone who is seated outside is shaded, instead of just one person. It isn't rain proof but, unless it is an absolute torrential downpour, the Sail Shade is an improvement. Well, just the fact that it is truly moored and will never have to be chased down the street in a bit of a breeze is an improvement right there!
Tim is the one who came up with the idea, together we chose the colour and he installed it yesterday. It can barely be seen from the street. I daresay that anyone driving or walking down the road would not notice it at all. And that is just fine with us. It's not an art piece, it is a functional piece. And as far as function goes, so far, it's aces!
We had a lot of sun most of yesterday and the sitting area of the courtyard was beautifully shaded. Check! I didn't use the grill yesterday so I cannot speak to that part yet, but it appears to cover that area - no check on that part yet but it is a presumable check. We did have a pretty good rain late yesterday and while it did not fully prevent the rain from watering my potted garden, the area under the Sail Shade was certainly drier than the surrounding area. Check again!
So let's see how this thing measured up. It is reasonably priced, easy to install, also easy to uninstall in case of hurricane preparation, provides much needed shade and while it isn't rain proof, it is a bit of a barrier and I will take that!
All in all I say, Thumbs Up to the Sail Shade! Highly Recommend!
July 12th, 2021
Cake. Birthday cake as a matter of fact. Specifically carrot cake and that was by request, as it should be. More about the cake later. It's a little crazy.
Wow! What a terrific birthday weekend! Tim surprised me by taking Friday off, which was my official birthday. So my special day began with breakfast out at Skillets which is an awesome way to start any day. My day was filled with wonderfulness including phone calls, cards visits, emails, texts, IM's.....pretty much any way that a person could be wished Happy Birthday, I was. Made me feel pretty darned special!!
We spent much of the day at Selby Gardens which is a beautiful botanic garden in Sarasota. No matter what time of year it is just the most beautiful place to be. It was a little busier than we expected for a weekday but no matter, it was still entrancing! Here are just a few of the beautiful flowers that we saw:
There were also lovely vine covered arbors:
There were also some beautiful birds and a few other critters:
There were marvelous pathways and scenery and surprises around every corner:
My selected birthday treat was a LARGE drumstick blizzard from Dairy Queen and you know I enjoyed the heck out of that! It was Heavenly!
So as Friday was nearing the end, I was still bugging Tim to decide on HIS special birthday treat. So at long last he choose. His birthday treat was going to be carrot cake. Hurrah! Now I could get to work. I shooed him out of the kitchen and began creating my masterpiece~
Carrot cake requires a lot of chopping and shredding. And here is where the story gets stupid. While chopping the top off of a carrot, I somehow managed to also cut my finger. Come on, you aren't surprised are you? We are talking me in the kitchen where sharp things live.
Carrots are round and once peeled they are also slippery. We have brand new, very sharp knives. It was an accident waiting to happen. Well of course, immediately I bandaged it up, then returned to the kitchen to thoroughly clean the knife and the cutting board. The carrot got thrown away and replaced with a fresh, new, unsullied carrot.
But I kept bleeding through the band-aids which meant starting and stopping to replace bandages over and over. Dang! Finally I gave up on band-aids and just wrapped my finger with paper towels. When it soaked through, I would replace it with another paper towel. It was slowing me down, I tell ya, working with one hand. But I absolutely didn't want to risk ruining the cake with any - unexpected - ingredients if you know what I mean. It was a nasty cut.
Finally I got to a part when I simply could not figure out how to work with just one hand. I tried and tried and just kept dropping and spilling and getting more and more frustrated. Eventually, even though I really didn't want to, I gave up and had to ask Tim for help. He immediately came in and did everything I needed him to do and eventually the cake was in the oven. By the time it came out of the oven to cool, my finger had calmed down sufficiently that Tim was able to staunch the flood with the application of not one, not two, but three doggone band-aids and I was able to finish it up myself.
Do you get the implication of this stupid story? Tim had to help make his own birthday cake! That's crazy AND completely against the birthday rules! I was complicit in Tim breaking the actual Birthday rules that I Wrote! Dang! I am so ashamed. Somewhere along the line I absolutely need to make that up to him.
But life goes on and so did the birthday weekend. Saturday was yet more visits and phone calls and emails and so forth. In short, we were very very well celebrated! :)
And then on Sunday, which was Tim's actual birthday, I made French toast to start his day off exactly as he likes. And then we headed out on a pretty drive which ultimately ended up being seeing a lot of model homes, just coz that's something we enjoy doing. Actually we thought about going to the movies. We haven't been in a movie theatre in a few years, I mean, pre-pandemic! So that would have been a great surprise treat, except that there wasn't anything playing that sounded like something we wanted to see soooo......nope.
But we did have dinner out at Tim's restaurant of choice, Miller's Ale House and then came back home for dessert. The infamous carrot cake which was totally worth the aggravation and chopped finger.
So there you have it. Tim is continuing his birthday today by taking the day off, which sounds like an excellent plan to me! Another wildly successful, mostly birthday rule compliant truly awesome birthday weekend!
July 09th, 2021
So this is me on my 68th birthday! Happy Birthday to Me!
I am very fortunate to know a lot of people who care about me. So much so that I don't seem to celebrate just one day as my birthday but several! Throughout the week I've already gotten birthday wish phone calls and cards and the day before my birthday Joy came over to celebrate me with a special lunch and sparkly card and cookies (!!!) and a gift! Wow!
And now, here it is, the actual day. Funny, I don't feel any older than I did yesterday and yet, it seems that I am an entire year older today. 68!!! How on earth did that happen. I cannot believe how freakin' old I am. The time has flown by (as every older person has told me my entire life would happen) But it's been 68 great years and therefore, I have no reason to believe that my 68th will be any less awesome than the first 67. Woohoo!
Still, it is my birthday and as tradition holds, today's post will be of the Birthday Rules. I believe strongly in the Birthday Rules. Always Have and Always Will. So while I go do whatever I choose to do to celebrate my birthday, I will leave you with a list of the Birthday Rules just in case you are unfamiliar with them. Everyone have a wonderful day please, birthday or not!
1. Number one and most important on this hit parade: It's all about the birthday person. It really is. No exceptions. If it's your birthday, everything that day is about you. Period.
2. Of course, to be absolutely fair, I am not a person who really likes being the center of a big crowd of people. But a small, comfortable, familiar crowd is fine. In fact it's awesome. A small group of people that I really care about it absolutely perfect. If that group consists of me and one other person, sometimes that is the best group of all.
3. And there should be at least one treat that a person rarely has, like cake. Or ice cream. Or cake AND ice cream. And for heaven's sakes, if a person is going to indulge, it should be the good stuff. The real deal. No fake, crappy substitutes. And speaking as a person with Lactose Intolerance, if I'm going to suffer later, I want the suffering to be worthwhile, which means the ice cream must be primo.
4. There should be a few cards, some of them should have sparkles, some flowers, some funny, some touching or maybe thought provoking. I like cards. I set them up on top of the big display cabinet in the living room and admire them for far too long afterwards.
5. There should be some sort of contact from people far away, whether it's phone calls or emails or texts or facebook posts or telepathic thoughts, heaps of good wishes from folks far away makes a birthday extra special. To think that all of those people bothered to take the time to acknowledge your existence on your birthday shows that you matter in this life. That's important.
6. There should be no chores on your birthday. Not one single solitary gotta-do should be done by the birthday celebrant. Those things can either wait a day to be done, or someone else needs to do them. I'm immovable on this fact.
7. The birthday person gets to choose what or where to eat for dinner. And no matter what they choose, that's what dinner is. Doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It is the ONE day of the entire year where nobody else's likes/dislikes/or personal opinion should take precedence regarding food.
8. It should be a happy day. Only positive comments and thoughts please. It should be a day of smiles and laughter. If there is something negative or sad that needs to be said, keep it to yourself for one more day. Not even boredom is allowed.
That's it. Those are the Birthday Rules and I stand by them. And then on Sunday, when it's Tim's birthday, we will do it all over again for him :)
Have a great weekend Y'all. Hugs all 'round
July 08th, 2021
I thought perhaps it was time for an update on our woodpecker. Well, I suppose, it's not actually our woodpecker but the nest is in the tree in our courtyard so if nothing else I guess it's kind of like a new neighbor move in next door?
For a recap, in early spring of this year, right around the time that Tim was going to cut down a dead palm tree in our courtyard, we noticed a woodpecker clearly building a nest in that very tree. Because we are both animal lovers, the tree cutting was postponed and we have had a lovely time watching the progress out the kitchen window every day.
I read up a little bit on woodpeckers and it seems that the dad woodpecker is the one who actually makes the hole in the tree. It was clearly a lot of work and it took him quite some time to finish it. But once it was done, the mom woodpecker checked it out and apparently she approved because she moved right in. From that point forward, we noticed that, generally, the Mrs. gets the day shift and the Mr. gets the night shift. Interesting.
So we had new neighbors, but they weren't bothersome at all. They were relatively quiet and we worked out a routine. Anytime I was in the courtyard I was say hello and she would sing back to me. Seriously, every single time I called out good morning, she would do that trilling, purring chirruping thing that they do! It was very cool.
Eventually I found myself referring to her as Mama. Tim calls her Mama Woody. If she didn't respond to me when I called out, I would say, 'Mama where are you?" and then I would hear her song from a nearby tree. This just became part of our routine. Like friendly neighbors who aren't really friends, just exchanging hellos. And things went on like that for quite some time. Just the two of us exchanging howdy do's.
Then came a few times when the woodpeckers were going crazy with noise. I heard it from inside and our of curiosity I went to the window to see what was going on. Well it was a miserable old crow perched on top of their tree, trying to get into the nest. The woodpecker mom and dad were dive bombing the crow and making quite a racket. I ran outside and chased off the crow. Another time, Tim and I were coming back from our walk and we could hear the frantic woodpeckers again dealing with a rascally squirrel. This time Tim was the one who scared off the intruder. Apparently the unfriendly wildlife took Tim far more seriously than they did me, because they haven't been back. At least not that we have seen.
So life went on, as life does, hum dilly hum, each day pretty much the same, exchanging hellos and nothing more with Mr. & Mrs. Woodpecker and then one day as Tim and I were leaving the house, Tim happened to glance toward the tree. He softly called to me and he pointed at the entrance of the nest. I looked and saw nothing. But Tim told me that he thought he saw a baby woodpecker. I didn't see it, ( Ratz!) but now I knew it was there. How exciting!
So I put my camera on the kitchen table so it would be close at hand. I checked out the window a zillion times a day for many days and eventually, I saw this little guy peeking out. First I could just barely see his little beak
And then his whole little face:
And then after some time, he got really brave and started kind of leaning out of his doorway:
Sometimes he would lean so far out that I was seriously afraid that he was going to fall. Yikes little guy! Brave is one thing, but don't be foolhardy! Go back in, go back inside!
Luckily Mama was nearby and swooped down to set him straight! KIDS!
Later on both Mom and Dad were on hand, getting ready to batten down the hatches and prepare for the hurricane. Hang on to your feathers, Mama, I said, there is a storm brewing!!
I was concerned for how the woodpecker family fared during Elsa, but this morning when I called out Good morning Mama, she called back to me, so I assume they are all fine. I haven't seen Junior today but then, despite what it seems like from reading this post, I actually do have other things to do on an average day besides take photos of woodpeckers.
Anyway, that's the story so far. I look hopefully forward to maybe getting some picture of the little one taking his first solo flight! So stay tuned for that.
I know that eventually they will move on, and Tim will cut down the tree as needs to be done, but for the time being, I am enjoying our little bird/human friendship such as it is. They are wild creatures of course and I would never interfere with that. But, there is no harm in being a good neighbor.
July 07th, 2021
My Apologies. I don't usually post on Wednesday because generally I'm out hiking with Joy but that was cancelled, dang it. And I put all of the blame solely on our visit from Elsa:
No, not that Elsa, silly. This Elsa:
Yeah, we had a bit of a "weather event". That's what the weather people call it. First it was a Tropical Storm, then a Hurricane, then a Tropical Storm again and then a Hurricane again and back and forth over and over. Yeah, I know that traditionally it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind, but geez, Elsa. Make Up Your Mind, Girl!
It's always hard to predict exactly what is going to happen with any storm and this one was no different. So we just did what we always do, minus the sand bags, really didn't see the need for those (and we were correct). I covered the grill and moved the potted garden out of harms way and since we already had plenty of water, food, flashlights and fresh batteries and the cars were gassed up, well all that's left to do is wait. So Tim went to work as per usual and I tried to get as much done in the house as possible, just in case we lost power.
I did sneak in a walk over to the beach just before the storm started. Other than how few people were there, it didn't really look any different than usual. That pigeon by the way, was the ONLY bird anywhere in site. None in the water, the air or on the sand. Which is highly unusual. And a pigeon? Seriously? Don't' we have enough other birds? Now we have pigeons too?
Made it back home with only a slight lift in breeze and a tiny sprinkle of rain. Ok, maybe this "storm" idea is nothing at all. Around 11: 30, Tim and I set off for our usual noonwalk since nothing was happenng outside. And of course, that's when the skies opened up and it began to pour. Of course. So we came back home, showered again, changed into dry clothes and got back to our usual stuff. Me just before leaving all the wet clothes in the utility room. I know you cannot really tell from this photo but we were soaked straight through to skin.
So no big deal. The rest of the day was largely watching it pour outside, I mean real gullywashers too, staying in contact via text with other Floridians (what's happening in your area? Everybody good? Do you still have power? - things like that) Mostly a very wet but normal day. Right up until I was making dinner. Sure, in the middle of creating fettucini al fredo, the power went out. Dang! It was only out for a short time really, but just long enough to ruin a perfectly good al fredo sauce. Ok no big deal. Shift and move forward.
The wind and rain in the dark always sounds scarier than it does in the day so sleep was, elusive shall we say. I think there was more dozing going on than actually sleeping. But eventually morning came, as morning often does, and we got up to gloomy skies still, a forecast calling for yet more rain and thunder/lightening storms, but dry for a short while.
I took advantage of the respite to clean the yard. We do a good job of keeping trees, shrubs and shorter palms trimmed, but the really really tall ones? Well, we cannot reach those to trim them. We planned on contacting a professional to come take care of that particular job, just hadn't quite gotten to it yet. Which means...fronds down! They were on the lawn, in the driveway, tangled in the jasmine...just everywhere. And here's the thing, the fronds on the really tall trees aren't just delicate little fan yourself with it fronds. Nope. These things are as long as a car. Think I'm joking?
No matter, it's all sorted out now. I collected them all and hauled them around to the side of the house where the lawn guys will dispose of them when they arrive. Done and done.
And then, our of curiousity, I dashed over to the beach to see what was happening there. A little more action than the day before. A few more people, still no birds at all but more waves:
Now all that remains is putting the potted garden back out and waiting for the rest of the storm to pass by us. Not too bad for the first storm of the season. At least around here. But those of you on the east coast, be forewarned. It is my understanding that Elsa's path takes her across the panhandle, through Georgia to the coast and then she will roll right up the right side of the US. Elsa a quirky one so get ready for that.
Ok back to my regularly scheduled, but hike-less, day.....
July 06th, 2021
How was your long holiday weekend? Independence Day! Woohoo!
We had a great time. But then, we always do :) Somehow, with no intention at all, we ate out more than usual all weekend and that's always a treat. In fact, we ate at several places we'd never tried before - all good by the way. Chef Tim made some ribs last night that smelled amazing! He said they tasted good too. We spent time with some really fun people both in person and on the phone.
We got some things done around here and ran some errands, took some walks and, since summer time is traditionally TV re-run time, decided to old school it and found a 15 year old TV series that I had never seen before (though Tim had) and suddenly I am watching the Ghost Whisperer for the first time. I guess that makes it an old new show to me.
But of course the capper on the weekend was, finally, once again settling in on the beach to watch the firework show this year! YAYAY! Last year of course was Covid Cancelled. The year before got rained out. Somewhere on this blog site is my post about that. The previous year, I believe was the year one or the other of us was sick enough that we didn't go. But the year before that was our first summer here and it was a wonderful fireworks experience that we were delighted to repeat. Just didn't know it would take so long to see a second show! Seems kidn of crazy when you realize that we are walking distance away!
Ok the fireworks on the beach show report:
First of all, there were roughly a zillion people in attendance. Ok not a zillion but a lot. More people than we had EVER seen on this beach at one time. Even on a holiday during tourist season. No Joke! Masses of people! Good thing it's a really big beach eh? But, and here is the important part, everyone was happy. Everybody was having a great time. It was kind of a carnival atmosphere, but without the neon.
Some people clearly had come for the entire day and stayed for the fireworks. There were canopies and umbrellas set up with coolers and beach chairs. Even as the sun was setting folks were still splashing around in the water, reluctant to give in to darkness. Kids were throwing footballs and kicking soccer balls back and forth. There were foot races and tag games going on. Somebody was flying a drone over head and someone else near us had music playing. And, here is the thing, nobody was getting pissy about any of this. In a time where some people seem to be super sensitive about everything, nobody was getting upset about anything at all. And that, in itself, was a pleasure.
Nothing fancy was happening as we all awaited. There were no famous or even semi-famous bands playing, no glitter, no Special Effects extravaganza going on. There were no vendors of food or souvenirs, nobody campaigning for anything at all, no soapbox lectures or anybody asking for money. Just a beachful of people, sitting on the sand looking skyward and waiting for the show to begin.
Fireworks is a long time honoured tradition that is world wide. It is believed that the very first fireworks were created in China somewhere around 400-600 AD. By the 13th century they had made their way to Europe and of course came to the US by the earliest settlers. It's not a new thing. It's a wonderful magical very old thing. And maybe that's one of the things I like most about it.
At any rate, as we waited, the sunset wasn't as spectacular as usual, probably because it didn't want to outshine the fireworks show.
As compared to:
It was awesome! When it was done, everyone clapped and hooted and whistled their appreciation, just as people have always done.
Then we folded up our chairs and walked through the darkness back home, listening and watching private fireworks shows happening all around us all the way back.
Great ending to a great day. Hope yours was just as good, if not better.
July 02nd, 2021
Tim and I will be enjoying a lovely 3-day weekend this holiday!! I know that isn't the case for everybody but for those who are...yay you! Enjoy enjoy! Hope you have plans for something fun!
I have no idea how we will spend our weekend but I'm sure I will be reporting on it next week. And one thing you can count on, whatever we do, we will have fun doing it!
I realized, late yesterday, that I never posted the pictures from a short hike Tim and I took last weekend. It was impromptu, which is typical of us. Out doing a dozen other things and then suddenly get the urge to do something else!
In this case, as we were driving along, Tim spied the sign to the Rookery and, without a second thought, boom, turned in. Lovely!
The Venice Rookery is in the most unexpected place. It's just off a major road with lots of traffic and noise and businesses. It's behind a government building with it's own big parking lot. The road winds past all that, snakes through some sort of construction that's going on and another building and then suddenly in the midst of all of that mess, there is a covered area of picnic tables and benches facing a pond. That pond has an "island" in the middle of it and a narrow footpath around it. That is "The Rookery".
When we arrived there was not another person in sight, just the way I like it. We slowly walked our way around the pond, I took photos of course, and Tim responded to all of the bird calls. It was surprisingly peaceful, considering the proximity.
There wasn't the usual huge variety or volume of birds that we usually see there. Not sure why. But we enjoyed it just the same.
So now I guess we are all up to date with all my photos and reports. Taadaa!
Y'all have a wonderful Independence Day weekend however you spend it. Have fun, be safe and I'll be back on Tuesday!
July 01st, 2021
Are you ready for another Photo Safari Report? Here we go!
The rainy season was delayed here in Venice, but once it arrived, it came with a vengeance. I'm not complaining, understand, We need the water, but many of the preserves that Joy and I usually hike are by rivers. And right now, they are full to over flowing which means flooded trails and loads of mosquitos. Neither of which appealed to us yesterday, so we opted for the Caspersen Beach Hike instead.
It's been awhile since we hiked that particular trail. It's not literally on the beach, but it's right next door. And in fact, if you follow any of the side trails that go west, you will find your, eventually, on the beach. Never a bad thing.
If you follow the side trails that go east, suddenly you are perched on a "cliff" high above the Intercoastal Water Way. So unless you have a collapsible boat in your pocket, ala Inspector Gadget, there is only one primary trail in which is the same trail out. Impossible to get lost. I like that in a hiking trail.
And that is why I am calling this one Another Caspersen Beach Hike. It's been at least a year since we hiked this particular trail and so we were curious. What's new? What's different?
Well for one thing we saw more cardinals than I think we have ever seen on a single hike. I very nearly called this the Cardinals Hike but alas, while we saw literal flocks of them, I only captured a few in a manner that was worth sharing. Mrs. Cardinal was particular elusive. Camera shy perhaps, she managed to be partially hidden in every single picture I took. Clever girl.
Mr. Cardinal, however, was bolder, braver and well perhaps he likes having his picture taken?
There had been so much rain the night before and we arrived so early that we were able to get a few really nice raindrop photos. It also means we had damp shoes the entire hike but at no point did we have to wade through water or build "bridges" or double back due to a flooded trail. So we can put up with a little dampness and some sand in our shoes.
There were other birds of course. And I even managed to get photos of a few of them. Sometimes I am so captivated by what I'm seeing that I forget that I'm standing there holding a camera ........ and then it's gone.
One of the coolest things we saw had to do with turtles. Sea turtles I mean. This is sea turtle nesting season and you can see nesting sites marked all over the beach. But this time we saw the actual tracks of the mama turtle (unfortunately not the actual creature) as she made her way to the beach and then back out. So clearly we only missed seeing her by a very short time.
There were also tortoises. We only saw two yesterday. The first one we saw just as he was sliding back into his little house. The other one, just calmly watched us walk by. It was very clear to him that we did not pose a threat. Good!
I am happy to say that there were some lovely wildflowers, most of them fragrant, which I love, and many of them being visited by various sorts of insects.
Some of the side trails, that I mentioned are picturesque all on their own. They look mysterious and compelling and maybe a little magical?
So the only thing left is the rando photo category, which as you all know is my favourite:
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.