Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SOMETHING ELSE MIGHT BE BETTER

Waltzing Waters: Amazing in concert

I don’t always get what I want. Thank goodness.

We are visiting the Edison Ford Estate in Ft. Myers, FL,  on a special night to see the mansions decorated for Christmas. The massive estate preserves the winter homes and workshops of famous good friends Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and, as such, preserves a ton of history about the  pair.
The Vagabonds' chuck wagon
The ticket guy says we don’t need the $30 guided tour tonight. For $20, he says, we see all the same things. I’m game.

We start with the museum —  a marvelous, account of the men’s lives, including their extraordinary vacations with their other good friends, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs. These men “camped” in style, with servants and even a president of the United States or two. (https://thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-resources/popular-topics/the-vagabonds/)

We leave the museum and head over to the mansions, where we are shut out. Not allowed in. Only the $30 tickets get inside. What? $20 can peer through the windows. Like peeping toms!

I am miffed. But peep we do.

 And, it is just perfect.

Edison mansion all lit up for Christmas
All of the windows are open and we enjoy the same view as the $30 ticket holders without the bumping and elbowing of the crowd. We  listen to the tour guide discuss menus for the holiday meals and talk about guests who may or may not arrive for the evening. 

And we can leave the crowd behind when we want, and move on to the next exciting thing. Like the beautiful, colorful Waltzing Waters, a synchronized spraying of water fountains, where we find front-row seats. Under the stars. The waters dance to Christmas carols. It is lovely. 

On the way to our truck, we pass a pack of $30s being led by a guide, who is talking fast, spewing facts but not stopping to enjoy the lighted gardens or watch the dancing waters.

So yes, sometimes, I don’t get what I want. Thank goodness.
\
Allen, in lights
Even the famous banyon tree is lighted for the holidays







Room inside Edison mansion (taken through the window)

Monday, December 11, 2017

More than a meal



The food in a word: Remarkable. The waitress? Sublime.

That we happened upon this delightful eatery?  By Chance. And our good fortune.

We stumble upon the cafe (Boca in Sarasota, FL) by chance because it’s between our parked truck and our destination: Penzey’s, a chain of herb-and-spice stores (also remarkable and sublime). 

On our way to buy Vietnamese cinnamon, orange extract and za’atar, we stop to read the menu. And find things we’ve never heard of  (“Cowgirl candy” — pickled sweet jalapeƱos)  and cleverly named entrees (OMG Burger, served with parmesan and truffle fries … yum.) Both hook me as a customer; Allen, a finicky eater with simple tastes, takes the bait, too (surprisingly).

So we are seated inside a deep box of a room with activity everywhere, from a flame-fired brick oven to a huge chalkboard with the names of the farms supplying today’s fresh food. On the wall to my right is a huge perpendicular hanging garden of herbs and lettuce greens. On my left is a bar. And everywhere people, young and beautiful, and old and beautiful.

Now here is our fortune: Meeting Chelsey. She’s our waitress and she understands immediately Allen’s preference for Wendy’s (she says it was hers, too, before coming to work here). And my need to avoid dairy (I get no avocado sauce with my ahi tuna because it’s made with cream.) 

Don’t know how the conversation lands on pets. But it does and she enjoys showing us pictures of Chance, her 6-month-old pit/lab mix, who lived his early months with a homeless woman in car. Until Chelsey rescued him.

Now Chance colors Chelsey’s world. And she’s excited to let us know her boyfriend is just outside, with Chance, so we can meet the doggie.

And we do.

Sweet Chance. He still loves to ride in a car. Still loves people. But it it clear who makes his life colorful.  

And that makes everyone smile. Sweet Chance and Chelsey. Meeting you was our good fortune.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

A GALLERY TO SEA ON THE GULF


We’re driving up the South Padre Island beach in southern Texas on a particularly gray day when suddenly our path is squeezed by a fallen tree. Stop. Wait. What’s on that tree?




I get out. And look.



I see a collection of children’s toy boats balanced down the limb toward the Gulf of Mexico. Wow. It’s amazing the wind and the waves have failed to claim these toys. I walk closer. And learn why. Each plastic boat is attached to the tree by a galvanized screw. It’s intentional. It’s beach art. I feel blessed by beach art.I climb back in the truck  and we continue our journey (skirting the installation, of course, dipping our tires into the waves). Not far down the beach I see another piece of colorfully adorned driftwood. Stop!






I get out and walk closer. It’s the same concept — toys screwed to the tree — but the toys are different. They’re ravaged.  It’s not just art. It’s art from objects found on the beach, left behind by tourists or washed ashore by waves (anything that topples overboard into the Gulf of Mexico eventually washes up on Padre Island. It’s just the way the currents go.




SO I feel twice blessed. Take tons of close-ups and stand for a long shot. That's when I see them. In the distance. Behind the dunes. Other pieces of art. Jutting up from the sand. A gallery of beach art hidden behind the dunes. I walk closer to each one. Examine the media. Take pictures. Holler to Allen to come look.

 A missile, ready for launch. 


It's made from 5-gallon buckets and their lids.





A Christmas tree.




Its base decorated with lost cigarette lighters and toys.



Lost shoes form its boughs.





I found this thingamajig. Looks like a failed torpedo, striped with spent lighters.



A little garden gives the sand a pop of color.



Soon, we hop back in the truck and continue our journey. STOP! More beach art. This one is spectacular. An abandoned diving bell decorated with beer cans, seashells and plastic toys. AND, a sense of humor and design. 







And finally, we see this. 



Allen says it's not art. Because it lacks intent. I say art is in the eye. Snap the picture. Then we continue on our journey.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Things that make me laugh


I laughed out loud.

It was a sudden, burst of a single HA. The kind that makes you look around, to see if anyone heard you.

Here’s the story.

The beach at South Padre Island is salted with wee bitty crabs about the size of a quarter. They skitter sideways, cleverly dodging trouble (birds, waves, human feet) by slipping down little holes in the sand.

As they grow, they move up into the dunes and build wider, deeper hideaway holes.

Today, I encountered one of those bigger crabs, about the size of a clamshell phone. Predictably, he skittered down the nearest big hole. 

Here’s where I laughed.

He immediately shot up out of the hole, followed by the claw of an even bigger crab, about the size of an IHop pancake.

What to do? Where to go? In an instant, he recalculated his life-saving escape and skittered sideways away.

For the rest of my walk home, I thought of the life lessons those two crabs taught me. Feel free to add your own:

1. Always call first.
2. Sometime size does matter.
3. Don’t go where you are not wanted.
4. Don’t panic.
5. Don’t be an old crab. :)