Nurture Your Talents: A Look Back

Yesterday we received word that John’s 91-year-old uncle passed away, so it seems like reposting a blog written in January of 2014 in which I reminded you to nurture your talents.

I’ve always known that Uncle Bud is a talented artist. In fact, one of his sketches and one of his paintings hang on the walls of our house, but when I entered his apartment, it was obvious that creating art brings him great joy.

IMG_2219A painting of three girls caught my attention first, but as I looked more closely, I realized Uncle Bud created much of the artwork on the walls.

Paintings of flowers and scenes from nature

IMG_2222as well as a sketch of his mother.IMG_2221It served as a great reminder that we need to make time to sharpen our skills and share our talents with others.

IMG_2224 Paint, draw, write, sing, dance, play an instrument, take photographs, cook, sew, garden, design. Be like Uncle Bud and nurture your talent.




Parking Headaches

Why have parking meters become so complicated? I’d read articles in the newspaper recently about the confusion caused by the new parking meters in downtown Ocala. My first thought, what’s wrong with these people? Can’t use a parking meter?

Then a couple of weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the new meters. To start, I nearly walked right past it. I exited the car and didn’t notice the meter. When I passed a second meter, it occurred to me that parking along the street in front of Brother’s Keeper is no longer free. I returned to the meter to see a list of payment options. I finally decided that searching for a couple of quarters would be easier than figuring out the other choices.

Upon returning to my car, a woman approached me and asked if I could help her with the parking meter. She’d deposited money but couldn’t determine how much time she’d paid for or if perhaps she’d paid for the wrong space (easy to do since each meter manages two spaces).

Another meter, another problem…this time at Hillsboro Inlet Park. The sign reads: pay with your phone, download the app, pay by web, use apple pay, and warning that if paying with cash, no change would be given.

A couple of years ago, we came across a similar meter in Miami and were happy to download the app, Pay by Phone. This is a great idea. Paying for parking will be so much easier.

But then, on the same trip a different meter required a different app, this time Park Mobile. Grumbling, we downloaded a second parking app, set up another account and paid for parking.

Not long after, another trip, another city, and you guessed it, another parking app, Green Parking. And, yes, we downloaded yet another parking app.

However, when the parking meter required a fourth app, we decided against it. Instead, we dug around the in the car and the bottom of my purse until we found sufficient change to pay for parking.

Of course, the meters at Hillsboro Inlet are connected to an app we don’t have, and we’re done with app managed parking. We now carry a change purse full of quarters.

Going to the beach on Sanibel or Captiva? No app required. And quarters won’t do the job. Instead, pay the $4.00 per hour fee with a handful of one, five, ten or twenty dollar bills ($4.00 minimum, no change) or just insert your credit card.

I really don’t mind paying to park. Just make it easy.

Explore a Different Kind of Corkscrew

In the heart of the Everglades ecosystem, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America making it a worthy stop on a cross Florida road trip.

Located 30 minutes east of Naples, The Sanctuary is home to not only a magnificent cypress forest, but a wide variety of plants and animals. Of course, you’ll see alligators and a wide variety of birds.

But, this is also panther habitat so visitors are encouraged to be on the lookout for prints of the endangered cat as well as prints and scat of bobcats and bears. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of evidence of these mammals.

The 2.25 mile boardwalk winds through the Bald Cypress forest with trees which reach as high as 130 feet and a circumference of up to 25 feet. Their branches are covered with moss, lichens, bromeliads, ferns and even the elusive ghost orchid.

As part of the Florida Birding Trail, songbirds, wading birds, woodpeckers and raptors are visible throughout the trail.

We were even lucky enough to see two young barred owls.

Of course, the cypress trees are the stars, with the Landmark Cypress marked along the trail. Named for environmental heroes, trees bear the names Muir, Roosevelt, Calusa (home of a ghost orchid) and Hemenway, named for Harriet Hemenway who worked tirelessly to convince women not to wear feathered hats.

Three of the Legend Cypress

It’s hard to call a visit to the Corkscrew Swamp a hike. With the numerous stops to view the flora and fauna, take pictures, and learn about the Landmark Cypress, it’s more likely to be a stroll through the forest.

This Audubon Park is open seven days a week from 7:00am to 5:30pm and is well worth the admission price of $14 per person.

Thanks to John for sharing his pictures.


We did what?

Continue reading “We did what?”


As a high school and college student, I remember feeling I’d missed out on the excitement and activism I’d watched on the nightly news in the 1960s. By the late 1970s when I graduated from high school and college, the Civil Rights protests had ended and the Civil Rights Act passed, the Vietnam War was over, President Nixon had resigned after the Watergate scandal, 18 year olds were given the right to vote, the Endangered Species Act and Environmental Protection Agency were established and we even celebrated Earth Day and took actions to clean up pollution.

Only the Equal Rights Amendment still drew attention from activists, but I’m afraid citizens became weary of marching, protesting and other political activities after nearly twenty years, and the work on ratification of the ERA fell by the wayside as most people erroneously believed the amendment was not really needed since women already had equal rights.

Wish I could have joined Shelby in DC for the Women’s March.

I’m sorry to say I was wrong about missing all the excitement and activism of the ’60s. The past week has illustrated the need to renew our enthusiasm to act. For my entire adult life, we’ve been lulled to sleep that everything was fine…ignoring the problems of poverty, homelessness, pollution, energy, women’s issues, low wages, corporate greed and net neutrality. Just to name a few.

But this past week, Americans have come out of hibernation and begun to act.

Brunch and postcards-friends write to legislators at Meghan’s.

It looks like the activism I missed out on in the 1960s, I’ll get to participate in in my 60s. We’re all learning or relearning that democracy requires more than voting, paying taxes, serving jury duty and obeying laws. It’s our responsibility to voice our opinions, protect the less fortunate and guard the rights guaranteed in the Constitution.


  • Speak out.
  • Contact lawmakers.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Support organizations with your time or money.
  • Be kind.

But whatever you do, don’t give up. Act.



BBQ Baby

One year ago, we joined Emily and Brian in Lakeland for the city’s annual BBQ competition, PigFest. But before we could sink our teeth into a plateful of pork, we were presented with a bag of gifts announcing we’d be grandparents in a few months.

What a wonderful surprise!

This year’s PigFest was even better than our first.

Not only did we graze on pulled pork, baby back ribs and strawberry shortcake, but we were joined by the granddaughter whose birth we started planning for last year.

She enjoyed her first of what I’m sure will be many trips to PigFest, and she’ll always be our little BBQ baby.

Don’t Worry About the Gators

When Meghan heard we were going to Lakeland to spend some time with three month old Gracie, she sent me a text: Please tell me you’re not taking Gracie to Circle B Bar Reserve.

The Circle B Bar Reserve is the location of one of the most watched videos of the past couple weeks. You know, the one in which a massive alligator crosses the trail with onlookers gawking in the background.


Meghan knew we’d recently explored this area on visits to Lakeland and have even said it would be a great place to take Gracie for a walk on a future visit.

The Reserve is a great place for bird watching, and we’ve enjoyed walking on several of the park’s nine trails. It’s also an area with bicycle trails, fishing and picnic facilities so there are many reasons for a return visit; but rest assured, while we’ve been known to wander in swampy areas with gators bellowing in the background, we would NEVER let Gracie or Johnny get too close to a gator. (Close encounters with gators, moose and bison with our children will not be repeated with grandchildren.)



TBT: 16 in 16 St. Petersburg Daycation

As part of our 16 in 16, we decided we wanted to go on more day trips. Short daycations within a couple hours of home.

The first of these trips took place in St. Petersburg. On a warm and sunny February day we rode the city trails and visited several of the museums, starting on the trail behind the Morean Center for Clay. Since I “don’t do traffic”, I was somewhat reluctant to ride in the city. Fortunately, a concrete barrier divided the trail in the city from the traffic, so it was no problem.

We rode past Tropicana Field, through downtown, to the bay  toward Treasure Island until we reached an end of the 17 mile trail.

But we did more than go for a ride, we stopped at the Chihuly Collection at another of the Morean Arts Centers located on the city’s waterfront. A 20 foot sculpture located outside the center ushers guests into the building that was specifically designed to display the glasswork.

Our bundled ticket included a visit to the Morean Galleries as well as to the Glass Studio and Hot Shop which turned out to be an especially enjoyable part of the day.

A day of bicycling and art…just one of many successful daycations of 2016.

And a visit to St. Petersburg made our list for 17 in 17. This year it’s a visit to the Dali Museum. Who knows? It may turn into another daycation.

16 in 16:

  • Jackson Browne Concert
  • St. Petersburg Daycation

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

I gave John a hard time the other day when he tried to remind me to be careful when walking through parking lots when entering or leaving stores. His mistake was not his message but the use of the word elderly in explaining I could easily be targeted.

That one word turned an important reminder into a joke, but he makes a good point. Any of us could be the victim of a thief, purse snatcher or car jacker; but by being aware of our surroundings we may be able to avoid a potential problem.

John often retells the stories of two times that his mother’s quick thinking prevented her from an attack. On one occasion when she realized she was being followed, she called out to a man entering the building (a stranger) asking if he would wait for her. When he turned to respond, the man who had been following her changed his course so a problem was averted.

Another time as she was backing out of a parking space, a man reached in the passenger side window to grab her purse on the seat. Without missing a beat, she pushed the button to roll up the window catching his hand in the door as she hit the gas to get away. Fortunately, she lowered the window enough for the would be thief to escape, but I bet he thought  long and hard about targeting a woman in this manner again.

Children can make you a target since you have your hands full. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.

There are many things you can do to reduce your chances of being the target of a thief.

  • Before leaving your car, observe your surroundings. Look for anyone loitering nearby who could present a danger.
  • Walk purposefully. Don’t text or talk on the phone mindlessly. Look up. Watch where you’re going and make note of where you parked so you’re not wandering in the parking lot looking for your car when you return.
  • When returning to your car, again take note of others. If you don’t feel comfortable, take advantage of the offer to accompany you to your car with your groceries. In fact, always let someone carry your groceries after dark or if you are with children. Of course if leaving a store or mall without employee escorts, you can wait for others exiting. There’s safety in numbers.
  • At night park as close to the door as possible and in a space that’s well lit.
  • Get your key in your hand before leaving the store and be prepared to use it as a weapon if necessary. With keyless entry, you don’t have to worry about fumbling for keys but is there something else you can use to protect yourself or distract an attacker?

You don’t have to be “elderly” to be a victim of crime. Listen to your Dad. Be safe. Take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.



17 in 17

16 in 16:Trips with daughters and sons-in-law

For the fifth year, John and I spent New Year’s Day developing a list of things we want to do this year. In 2013 we felt the need to make a list of fun things to do during the year because we were spending so much time working we lacked the much talked about “work life balance”.

16 in 16: Sunrise/Sunset – Miami and Key West

The list we created was meant to add some fun into the year by trying new restaurants, taking short trips and making use of our limited free time. Little did we know that this would become a well loved tradition.

16 in 16: Biking

Just as we’ve done the past four years, we sat down with the lists we’d developed to negotiate what 17 items would make the list in 2017. Since there’s no longer a work schedule to plan around, our list includes many more extended vacations, but it also includes several things that have become much loved annual events such as family weekend, our annual sunrise/sunset trip when we catch the sunrise over the Atlantic and the sunset over the Gulf on the same day and our version of a triathlon in which we take part in a biking, hiking and water activity over the course of a day or two.

16 in 16: Camping – Iceland and the Florida Keys

Camping, trips to National Parks, museums, a play, baseball and biking all made the list this year. Of course, we’ll be squeezing this year’s adventures between visits with grandchildren so it’s going to be quite a year.