Saturday, April 28, 2018

Walk in the Garden

Time in Florida would not be complete without a trip to the Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota.

Even the gift shop is a treat:

Just a fraction of what there is to look at in the gardens:

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Magnolia blossoms

I adore having a sense of smell most of the time.  I stop to smell the roses, the lilacs, the magnolias, the gardenias.  I love to have an essential oil infuser working in my home.  Certain soaps and the aroma of baking bread take me right back to my grandparents' house.  I think life would be so much sadder without the sense of smell.

Which is not to say I don't understand that scents can be an irritant resulting in severe sensitivities.
I get sick to my stomach just walking by a candle store myself.  But I would hate to live in a scent free world.  Even noxious smells tell us something -- stay away.

I don't douse myself with perfume to go out in public.  I don't need my sheets and towels to  smell like detergent for weeks. Warm air and sunshine work for me.

On the other hand, if you object to the smell of  orange or eucalyptus in the air, best stay away from my house.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day, 2018

Today is Earth Day, 2018.  Did you know that we have former President Nixon* and the 1970 Congress to thank for the original Earth day?  They also created the Environmental Protection Agency that same year.

The focus this year is plastics, specifically ending plastics pollution:

From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival.

One small step suggested-- give up plastic drinking straws.  (Actually, this will be a huge step for me.  My grandchildren have actually accused me of owning my own straw manufacturing plant. 😞)

Our consumption of plastic straws in the United States alone equals enough straws to  wrap around the earth's circumference 2.5 times a day.  We are smothering the planet.

I recycle and compost religiously but I can do better, especially as I grocery shop and sip my fruit smoothies.

* Good to be reminded these days that no one is all bad, so thank-you Richard Nixon.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Signs Along the Way

There are new signs at the beach.
From what I can observe rules do not apply across the board though.
Some people reserve the right to walk and dig where they want and let somebody else worry about the erosion on the beach.

But to be fair:
Most of this erosion was done by Mother Nature for reasons of her own.  A couple of years ago the dunes extended out to the end of this walk way.  Thee were a number of picnic tables to the left.  Far longer ago there was even a pavilion. It was destroyed in a hurricane and never rebuilt because so much of the land was lost.  Now the distance from te gulf and the intracoastal waterway is less than the length of a football field.
And nature is discouraging anyone from walking on what is left.

This sign is not at the beach, but beside a pond I pass on a frequent walk/bike I do.Never been tempted to feed alligators or snakes.
I know they have to eat to, but I think they can manage on their own.

I did come across this on the beach.
I thought it was pretty interesting.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

On the Beach

The weather -- yikes.  The gods must be crazy.  But in Florida -- granted a bit cooler than one expects for this time of year -- still, pretty close to perfect.

The first glimpse of the gulf water, and it is always hard to  believe it is real:

It doesn't matter how you get to the beach.

It's beautiful

Looking up

or down.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

A little Painting

I had planned to take some more painting classes this year but I somehow never got around to it.  I have signed up for an afternoon workshop entitled "Painting Your Destiny."  No previous experience or talent required.

I have been dabbling a bit though.

It is on my list of to do for next winter -- take some classes.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Florida Traffic Rules

It's almost time for me to make my return trip to Vermont and I haven't yet railed about Florida traffic laws yet.  Well, let me correct that now.

I don't know that these are official part of the Florida traffic codes.  In fact I am pretty sure they are not.  And yet there are a few things that I observe routinely.

1.  Perfectly okay to drive while blind.  I kid you not.  I am not a very social person and I don't have a huge circle of acquaintances, but I know four people whom I know for a fact to be legally blind.  And they drive.  I have to believe that if I know four such people, there are a lot more out there.

2.  Most places have right turn on red, but why not add a little adventure to your life and try left turn on red -- regardless of whether or not there may be oncoming traffic.  I've seen that more than once.

3.  Pedestrian crossing signals are put up only to dare pedestrians to attempt crossing.  They have no implications for drivers.  In fact most of them are set up so that cross traffic drivers would not even be aware that they are there so those right on red folks and those left on red folks -- they are free to make their turns into pedestrian crossing.  In fairness many drivers will slam on brakes when they notice that there are people waling in the crosswalk.  They will make rude gestures for sure, but they will try to stop.  Just be aware that the Rule #1 drivers are out there. Walking is generally discouraged.  Drive  to a park and walk there.

4.  Stop lines -- this picture isn't from Florida, but you do see those stop lines painted on cross streets. Sometimes.Be aware that they mean absolutely nothing.  The accepted procedure for making a stop on a cross street is to slow down but keep rolling through the stop line, through the crosswalk, nosing into the intersecting street.  Any pedestrian in the area is there at his or her own risk and only deserves any rude gesture you happen to have in your repertoire.

5.  Speed limits--it's fairly rare to see police enforcement on the major highway.  The posted limit is 75, but confident drivers seem to have no problem with doing 100.  I believe more caution is advised at the end of the month.  Follow the posted speed limits near golf communities, unless you are a resident there.  Then you will pretty much know the enforcement schedule and work around it.  Be sure to tailgate and roar past anyone actually following the speed limit on other days as they are advertising that they do not belong there and are probably lost. When school zone lights are flashing, drive 15 MPH.  It is in the FL traffic laws that you will be ticketed at 16MPH.  I have never seen anyone break this school zone rule.  (We have yet to make schools safe from shooters, but the kids are safe from speeders so that's a start.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

New Mailbox

The Florida climate is kind of rough on mailboxes.  I had been noticing rusted bits of bolts around my mailbox and then on Saturday the door fell off.  I went to the local hardware store and picked up a new one.

Getting the old mailbox off was a piece of cake.  Getting the new one firmly affixed -- more like trying to chew a piece of old shoe leather.

First of all, the new one was just slightly wider than the old so it did not fit nicely on the board that was there for mounting.  And no mounting hardware, no bolts, nothing, actually came with the new mailbox . . . so a trip back to the hardware store.  They are very helpful at the local hardware store, but they did not have the correct mounting bracket in stock.  I had to go to one of those big box stores.  Grrr.

I found the mounting bracket but when I got home I discovered I do not have a long outdoor extension cord.  I was going to have to use the drill.  Fortunately, my neighbor found one in her shed. She helped me mark the places to drill.  Of course I used a drill bit that was too big the first time, but we figured that out and made adjustments.

Okay, the mounting bracket is finally firmly in place.  On to bolt the mailbox to the bracket.  The bracket came with a large number of screws and bolts of various sizes and some very inscrutable instructions.  Even I was able to figure out the pointy screws went into the wooden post and that the smaller bolts would probably be used to mount the mailbox.  The long bolts -- no clue.  The rubber spacers -- no clue.  If you need such things, let me know and I'll send them to you.

SO, final step -- bolt on the mailbox.  Easy, peasy.  Except -- what the heck?  Something is wrong with these nuts.  They don't fit!  There are plastic rings inside or something and the nut only fits on the very end of the bolt.  This befuddles me.

What to do buy return to the big box store to complain about there being defective nuts in their stupid mounting bracket kit.  Well, isn't it wonderful that no matter how old you get you can still learn something new?  Nylon locking nuts -- who knew.  So I had a little lesson on what they were and what they were for and how to tighten them and I went home and finished the job.

Total time to complete this chore, three hours and a few clean up minutes.  I returned the extension cord and told my neighbor if she needed her mailbox replaced in the future, she could give me a call.

I used to share an office with a woman who would get all flirty and say, "Ooo, we need a man with tools," every time there was the least little problem -- a light bulb in need of changing, a loose desk drawer handle, etc."  This drove me absolutely batshit crazy.  But now, I confess, I wish I had put this on the list of fixit chores I had for Don's visit.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Epic Battle

i have been engaged in an epic battle -- woman against the forces of nature.

Anyone who owns a home knows there is always something in need of urgent attention.  This week it was war waged on an infestation of white flies.

I had been noticing that an orange-scented jasmine that I have growing in the side yard has not been thriving.  I was thinking it was due to the dry season we have had and I was including it on my watering schedule, but it just seemed determined not to thrive.  I decided to cut it back and in that process i noticed the dead tips of branches and looked up possible causes.  Based on what I had read, I checked for a couple of likely pests.  Sure enough, i found white flies.

I sprayed with soapy (Dawn dish detergent) water.  I sprayed the next day with neem oil.  It seemed the white flies were no longer lurking under the leaves, but then I noticed that they were rising up out of the surrounding grass, so I started spraying the lawn as well.

This shrub has not flowered at all this year.  I love the orange scent of the blooms.  I hope it survives but it does look quite poorly at the moment.

There is another orange-scented jasmine on the other side of the house.  This one seems healthier but I will have to keep an eye on it.
I trim branches away that touch the siding.  Time to get out there and do that and I hope I don't encounter more white flies.  It does hide the AC unit so I would hate to lose it even though it does bother me that it always wants to reach out and touch the house siding and window.

We shall see what my water bill will be this month.  It was not only the spraying shrubs and lawn, it was the multiple very long showers to get rid of that creepy crawly feeling form imagining white flies settling allover my hair and skin.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Drum Circle

  Several area beaches sport drum circles.  This one from last Sunday took place on Venice Beach, FL.  The photo was taken as the drummers were setting up a medicine wheel.

Typically, people gather to drum in drum "circles" with others from the surrounding community. The drum circle offers equality because there is no head or tail. It includes people of all ages. The main objective is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves. To form a group consciousness. To entrain and resonate. By entrainment, I mean that a new voice, a collective voice, emerges from the group as they drum together.      --Mickey Hart, former drummer for The Grateful Dead

The crowd begins to gather closer to sunset and some people enter the circle to dance or perform while others watch.  For some reason, belly dancing and hula hoops are popular.  At he drum circles I have been to, a conch shell is blown just as the sun sinks into the horizon.

Sunday, April 1, 2018


I feel as though I have been on vacation for the past week.  My gentleman friend from Vermont was here for a visit for his vacation and so we were doing vacation things. It was his first visit to Florida.

We were lucky to get tickets to a spring training game between the NY Yankees and the Tampa Rays. Spring training was coming to an end so it was definitely not the A Teams out there, but it was fun to be in the crowd

Don is not a big beach lover, but you can't come to Florida and just tour Harley dealers!  We did stop at some Harley dealers . . . four I think .  .  .  but the beach makes a better picture.

I take anyone who visits me to Myakka State Park.

It's pretty much guaranteed that you will see an alligator there.
We saw one alligator that was being very aggressive, slapping his tail and chasing other alligators out of his territory.  I'm guessing the one he let stay was a female and he was going to take advantage of mating season.

We spent and afternoon at the Bay Preserve.

It's a good place to take some sun without getting covered with sand.

We sat on an observation deck on the Intracoastal Waterway.

We went out to eat and out to listen to music.  We spent one evening on the beach for the sunset drum circle.  I didn't have my camera for that, but I did find an older YouTube video.  There were many more drummers there when we went and the sunset was spectacular.