Thursday, February 28, 2013

Moon

The full moon came up as a big orange ball a few days ago.  A break in the clouds allowed us this treat.

We watched until it went behind the pine tree.

This is the third full moon we have watched this winter and it is always a thrill.  I guess some are easily amused.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Garden Work

I have hired a new person to do the weeding while we are gone for the summer months.  I have a planter in the front that I have been nursing along this winter and there are a few shrubs that I will mulch around.  Still weeds will pop up especially in the rainy season.  I have put in a small herb patch in the back.  The park association hires lawn mowing, but weeding is up to individual property owners.

We hired a woman last summer, but she did not feel she could continue.  I think at 82, God love her, she can retire.  She did a great job, though.  She kept us off the bulletin board of shame.

Honestly, there was someone who went around last summer and took pictures of people's weeds and posted them at the club house.  I thought that was pretty rude.


 
Although...now that I think of it...might be fun to post a display of tacky lawn ornaments.  Where did Mike hide that camera?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday Sojourn

 
There was a fine art show at the Venice Art Center this weekend.  I am always in awe of artists, especially painters.  The selection at the show included oil. pastels, watercolors, acrylics, mixed media, pottery, photography, and jewelry.

I did not linger over the jewelry.  It was beautiful, but I seldom wear jewelry and so I already own more than I really need.  

But, oh, my, there were some breathtaking works on exhibit.  Photographing was not allowed.  I was not feeling very wealthy, but I did get myself some prints.





The matted print was done by a woman on my street who was a crafter for years but then took watercolor painting lessons after a bout of cancer.  Her work is lovely, so filled with spirit.  I plan to take that one home with me.

The beach chair, done by another artist, will go over my computer desk in the Florida house.  The same woman did the wedding pavilion, located at the Bay Preserve in Osprey.  I had taken a picture of that the previous week when I was scouting around.

I also bought this ceramic fish.  I plan to hang it in the kitchen.

 
 
As you can see, I kind of go for the fish motif here at the Florida house.  Here they are swimming on the wall of the lanai.
 
 And here they are in the little cupboard on the lanai.




And on the table.
I had a great day!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Change

It was a cloudy day on the beach the last time Mike and I went for a walk there--at least when we first got there.
 
 
 
Things change day to day, minute to minute.  The tides or a strong storm can carve a whole new face on the beach.  Some days treasures are littering the sand.  Another day there is just sand.  We see a lot more people, especially families with children visiting grandparents, at this time of year...but not today--too early, too cloudy.

There were plenty of pelicans out fishing.  Mike wanted a picture of them, but he always insists on the panoramic view.  The smudges are pelicans, trust me on that.

I tried to introduce him to the concept of changing the lens and zooming in, but some are just naturally more resistant to change than others.

This is another example of change and resistance to change.  Eight years ago this was a dead tree that stood on what was once a roadway.  It was almost exactly a mile from the beach access to the north and a half mile from the beach access to the south.  It became a landmark of sorts and everybody referenced the "dead tree" when setting a meeting place or describing where good sharks' teeth were found and so on.

Then the tree fell over.  Sand has been washing over it.  Some of the branches stick out, but it no longer looks like a tree.  It looks like a dead bush, maybe.  Still,  nearly everyone refers to the the "dead tree."  I am sure it is confusing to newcomers who do not know the history.

It seems that every year there is an effort by some group or another to have this particular section of the beach--by the dead tree--declared a clothing optional beach.  Unless you really consider those bits of spandex thong things clothing, I would say it already is clothing optional, but it is a change that the city council resists making official.

On the whole, that particular resistance is probably a good thing.  This is not where the beautiful people and the spring breakers hole up.  I once heard someone say that people in Florida and other warm climates are in much better shape than the rest of the country because their clothing is more revealing because of the weather and so they make more of an effort to stay in shape.  And maybe that is so, but they are also more exposed to the ravaging effects of the sun.  Not all change is for the better.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Riding My Bike and Ants

As with so many old railroad beds across the country, Florida has converted a line to the Legacy Trail.  Currently, the trail reaches from Venice to Sarasota and covers ten miles.  To the south, it connects with the Venetian Waterway Trail, another ten miles that is divided on both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway.

So far I have covered all of the Venetian Waterway Trail.   I have ridden about six miles of the Legacy Trail, making it to the Oscar Scherer Park, but that is trip in itself just to get to that trail without having to cross major highways.  I doubt that I will make it all the way to Sarasota on my bike unless I arrange some kind of pick up for theway back.

I had a bike in Vermont, but I was not particularly heartbroken when it was stolen years ago.  Vermont is a whole lot hillier than Florida.  Also, it is so much easier to breathe at sea level, I swear!
I am getting a lot of use out of my bicycle purchase.

 
Dona Bay

North Venice bridge
 
 
 
I did make a mistake, though, by stopping along a creek where they say roseate spoonbills roost.  I did not see any spoonbills, but I did notice that fire ants were marching up my left leg as I was locking up the bike.  I got out of there as fast as I could, but let me tell you--those are nasty biters, those fire ants.


I looked 'fire ant bites' up on the internet.  It is important to not scratch them and burst the blister like lesions.  Oh, well, too late for that.  I have been dabbing the sores with hydrogen peroxide in hopes of avoiding infection since I did scratch the heck out of the bites.   I swear, I was scratching in my sleep. 

Speaking of ants, we have had no white-footed ants this year.  Apparently all the treatments we contracted moved the entire colony on to the next door neighbors.  They are not too happy about it either.  I hope their contracted treatments send then on down the street, not back our way.

Sometimes we think we are in Paradise, but no place is pefect on this earth.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Out and About

I have no idea what kind of ducks these are.  Anyone?  They seem to be wearing yarmulkes, but I can only speculate as to their religious leanings.


The other day the swan came right up to me.  Obviously it associates people with food.  Of course when I had the camera with me, it ignored me and stayed on the far side of the pond.  (Probably remembered that I did not have a camera or food with me the last time.


a bottle brush tree
 

a Floirda moonflower
 
This is a view of the Venice high school from the Intracoastal Waterway.  It is huge.  I snapped this picture because school was in session.  I could hear kids out in the yard.  AND...I was not responsible for a single one of them.  Aw, retirement.  



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sunday Sojourn

The Venice Rookery is an island in a small pond where many birds nest.  Last Sunday, there were white egrets, blue herons, and anhinga.  There is a resident alligator, but I did not see him that day.

 
You can probably see why I had camera anxiety.  Me, with my Nikon Coolpix set on auto focus--I stayed out of the way of the big boys.

 

These three guys were having some kind of disagreement, but they managed to work it all out.
 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Problems Continue

My computer problems have continued...oh, the drama...oh, the pain.

A technician came to the house and installed a new hard drive, which was fine but Of course I did not have a back-up so I lost everything--ten months of stored writing, pictures, files.  I know that my brother-in-law would have been able to at least try to retrieve some of that stuff.  I should have tried to entice him to travel down here!

Now I have no software.  I was sent a disc, but no instruction about how to use it and neither Mike (who is ususally very competent with that stuff) or I (who am hopeless) could get it to run.  That meant another call to Dell Support.  The guy I talked to was very nice and he did not try to sell me anything.  (There is probably a notation next to my name in their files.)  However, the connection kept crashing and we were unable to download anything.  Same thing the next day.  There was a problem with the wireless system used in the park.

I suffered serious withdrawal symptoms not having a computer.  I used Mike's laptop, but it is just not the same--his computer is so old and so slow.  Really, I did not realize how addicted I had become.  The shakes have stopped now and I should make a firm resolution to not get so dependent on a machine again...also to back up files on a regular basis.

Maybe today...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ACK!!!

Oh, no!  Oh, No!

My computer crashed.  The hard drive is down or done or whatever.  It is not working and someone has to come to the house to fix it.

I only learned that someone would have to come to fix it after spending a frustrating 45 minutes on the phone with Dell "Support."  I use that term loosely because they were far more interested in selling me various warrenty plans for software, hardware, and maybe even my underwear.  I was so very frustrated that I was in tears.

I usually don't have so much difficulty understanding accents, but, with not being at home, I was using a Skype phone that dropped the call and then my cell phone.  On the other hand, I do have very little tolerance for be given the sales rush.

I am so cranky right now!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finished


I finished up the scrap quilt I was working on.

DSCN2375It is made with fabric scraps and uses blocks from the 2012 Block of the Month Class on Craftsy.

Another view:
DSCN2377

I backed it with flannel so it it quite cozy.  We sure don’t need it here in Florida this winter.  Guess what the grandkids are getting for Christmas this year.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Days


I have re-adjusted my computer table so that I can look out the window.  I don’t know if that will work out.  I can see a clear blue sky and palms waving in the wind.  I have not gotten much writing done at all.


Yesterday was warm, but so, so windy.  I worked for a bit on my quilting project and made a trip to the library to restock my reading supply.



We joined some friends for salad and pizza supper and that was fun.



There was an article in a recent AARP magazine about healthy habits.  These included:
  • socialize
  • spend time out doors
  • take a nap
  • have sex
  • eat chocolate
  • drink a glass of wine or a bottle of beer.
I guess that our Florida lifestyle is a pretty healthy one for us then.  I try to work all those things into my week.

I can’t say I am missing the VT winters.  The romance of huddling by the fire while a Nor’easter batters the outside only lasts a short time.


Monday, February 4, 2013

More of the Alligator Creek Trail


DSCN2357When I first started my ride down this trail, I thought it was pretty wild looking—even though I could clearly hear traffic noise no far off.

There were homes across the creek, though.
DSCN2356
DSCN2358The ornate door here was just a decorative back drop to the deck.  I just loved seeing these docks and wondering about what life must be like in this jungle-like setting right in the middle of town.
DSCN2370DSCN2372This hammock terrain just says rural Florida to me.
DSCN2368
DSCN2361 Forbidding, isn’t it?

DSCN2360

Bike Ride


Oh, well, I missed the super bowl.  Mike has even less interest in football than I do.  I usually know what teams are playing although even that went by me this year.  I tuned in for Downton Abbey though.

It was a gorgeous day here on the Florida west coast—cooler than it has been and I took advantage with a great bike ride.

DSCN2348I noticed this trail off the neighborhood road I was pedaling along so I went down to explore.  I could hear traffic.  This little park is very near the overly commercial strip of Route 41 and very near the large shopping center in South Venice, but it looked like a slice of rural Florida.

I spotted an egret and a little blue heron along the creek shores.
DSCN2352 
DSCN2353Neither one was at all interested in having its picture taken.

DSCN2355I also saw a chenille plant, but the picture did not come out or I deleted it accidentally.  This is a Brazilian pepper plant that has become, like so many species of both flora and fauna, a Florida invasive. DSCN2374The sun was really bright.  I am pretty sure this white flowering vine that you can hardly see is a moon flower.  The terrain was certainly right for it,
DSCN2359I also came across this Turk’s cap.  At the end of the trail there was an enclosed alligator pond.DSCN2363I later learned I had been stopping to snap pictures along Alligator Creek.

There were many dog walkers using the trail so I don’t imagine there is too much alligator danger in the area.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Do Not Call

Mike signed us up for the "Do Not Call" list as soon as he heard about it.  He has been diligent about renewing that request as needed and about registering every phone we have added or used in the past several years.

Apparently there is a way around it now.

A while ago I was out and Mike took a call from someone who claimed I had filled out a survey.   He told the woman to call back at nine the next morning since he knew nothing about this survey.  He told me about it and I couldn't recall filling out a survey.  I may have and just did not remember???

The woman called promptly at nine and informed me that my husband had given her the time as a good one to call.  I am sure he thought we would both be out for a walk by then.  When I asked about what kind of survey, the caller got very vague and hung up!

Then it happened again...and again.  Tonight there was a call on Mike's cell.  "Congratulations!  You filled out a chance to win a Caribbean cruise..."  I hung up.  There is not a person in the entire world less likely to want to win a cruise of any sort.  He always says he got all the cruise experience he ever wants during his years in the Navy.

So this must be some kind of loophole.  It the caller claims right away that you basically asked for the call the  
"do not call" rules no longer apply.

What took them so long?



And where should we send our complaints?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mousse


My absolute favorite cookbook is Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.  It has been around for nearly twenty years.  I own two copies—one at home and one here in Florida. 

Mousse

This dessert takes advantage of the Plant City strawberries that are plentiful this year.  I have adapted the recipe a bit—cutting it in half for one thing because we would eat it all if I made the eight servings as described in the cookbook.

Strawberry-Ricotta Mousse
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 pint fresh strawberries
1/4 cup strawberry fruit spread
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 T confectioners’ sugar (optional)
  • Beat the ricotta with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
  • Rinse the berries and cut into small pieces, saving a few whole ones for garnish.
  • Fold the strawberries and the fruit spread into the cheese.
  • Whip the cream and sweeten if desired.  Fold into the fruit and ricotta.
  • Refrigerate for at least twenty minutes.  Serve in individual cups.

It is a pleasant combination of richness and lightness.