February 7, 2016

Wiener Dog Derby

Wiener Dog Derby Since this event originated, I've wanted to check it out.  But, year after year, something has come up. At last, yesterday, I made it to the 6th annual Wiener Dog Derby.   It was chilly and raining, but the races went on as scheduled -- one heat after another with dachshunds dashing lickety split -- as fast as their cute little legs would take them -- to the finish line.  (Of course, occasionally, some of the little participants opted not to compete and either stopped or turned around and walked the other way.)  This shot was taken during the final race --- for the crown, bragging rights, and I presume, a few doggie treats.  Look at 'em go!  Ears flopping…paws mid-air..staring down the finish line.  So cute!

Wiener Dog Derby
This is the grand champion -- Roxie.  I'm told she's 5 years old, the returning Sarasota Wiener Dog Derby champion, and apparently, a national champ as well. She's was proudly holding court after her victory.  Very sweet!  In case you're wondering, this is not an actual sport.  The Weiner Derby was one of many fun events going on at a pet friendly festival called the 'Celebration of Pets'.  So glad I finally made it!

February 1, 2016

Theme Day: Scene from a Coffee House

I really wanted to check out a new cafe in Ft. Myers for today's City Daily Photo theme:  'Scene at a Coffee House'.  Unfortunately, time did not permit.  But, as I dashed out of Starbucks yesterday with a latte in hand to fuel me for the drive back to Sarasota, I thought, 'Well, I can get a quick shot here for theme day…'  And, voila!  It's not exactly what I had in mind…but, I'm happy to be able to participate in Theme Day!

As these folks enjoyed a quiet respite outside Starbucks in downtown Ft. Myers reading their electronic devices, man's best friend in the foreground stole the show.  Her name is Pipi.  While she has an intense stare in this shot, I can assure you she's a sweetheart!  She was content at the outdoor cafe, greeting strangers politely as they passed by, while keeping a friendly eye on a neighboring cocker spaniel.  I'm told Pipi was rescued as a puppy four years ago after being abandoned alongside a road in Alabama.  She seems very good natured and gentle.  And, she must have good sea legs, too….because her owner mentioned they arrived in Ft. Myers via sailboat.  How about that?!  It's common to see dogs at outdoor coffee houses nowadays, and I always enjoy hearing their stories.  To see other interpretations of today's Theme Day -- Scene at a Coffee House -- from other City Daily Photo bloggers click here.

January 26, 2016

Chilly Sunset

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I was hoping the crepuscular rays would become more pronounced as the sun dipped behind the clouds. Instead, the rays just disappeared leaving me standing in the cold.  All day Saturday, gale force winds whipped around Sarasota and the wind chill was down in the 40s (chilly for Sarasota) as the big storm producing all that snow up north moved across the Florida peninsula. Glad the winds have died down!  Hope my blogger friends in the snow zone have been able to dig out.

January 24, 2016

Living in Harmony

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             So...two ducks, an alligator and a great blue heron are all sitting around a cemetery…

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…and up walk two sandhill cranes.
No joke!
This actually happened at Sarasota National Cemetery yesterday.

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The heron was a bit skittish and flew a feet few away….apparently out of respect for the big cranes and to make room for them.   (The ducks and gator didn't move.  And, actually, seemed bored by the sudden activity.)

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  Then, something interesting happened:  they all stayed within a few yards of each other without any incidents….all living in harmony.

January 23, 2016

Wise One

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Believe it or not, I had given up on seeing any wildlife at Myakka State Park last Saturday evening, when I encountered this barred owl. It was a beautiful evening and the park was filled with families, so most of the wildlife had opted to go into hiding. I couldn't have imagined I would have an excellent opportunity to use two new pieces of camera equipment I received for Christmas: a tripod with a ball head and a remote control. 

As I was driving out of the park, an owl flew right over the hood of my car --- and landed in a tree top about 35 yards away in the woods. Yes! By the time I had quietly positioned myself to get a good shot, I realized I was almost directly under the bird -- a perfect situation to use the new tripod.  (It was quite exciting to shoot almost vertically on a tripod.)  To minimize camera shake, I used the remote control.  And…voila!   The owl seemed very curious about what I was doing.  Unfortunately, the fading sunlight resulted in washed out colors.  So, I converted the image to black and white.  Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

January 17, 2016

Calm Before the Storms

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Meteorologists predicted severe weather for early Sunday morning, but there weren't any signs during this beautiful sunset at Myakka River State Park last night.  Then, 9 hours later, I was awakened by a weather alert on my cell phone: tornado warning!  Sarasota was in the direct path of at least two tornadoes as a dangerous line of thunderstorms rolled ashore from the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the night. 

Severe structural damage is being reported on Siesta Key (south of downtown Sarasota).  Somehow,  the storm just grazed the Sarasota city limits, with initial damage reports showing only downed power lines and trees.  Minutes before landfall, the weather radar indicated a possible direct hit on downtown Sarasota by an EF-2 tornado with wind speeds up to135 mph.  Thankfully, that didn't happen.  Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously hurt in Sarasota County.  Unfortunately, though, when a second line of storms cut through the area a short time later, two people were killed in Manatee County just to the north. 

All's well (albeit busy) in the SDP world.  We didn't even experience wind gusts at the SDP Headquarters.  My tremendous respect for Mother Nature continues.

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

SDP 12-25-15A
This neon green sign is iconic in Ft. Myers.  It's been in the front yard of a private residence along McGregor Boulevard, a busy road through the city, since 1943 when George H. Gruesbeck, a devout 7th Day Adventist, put it there.  A couple of years ago, though, the sign went dark.  Apparently, the property was in foreclosure and the owner at the time couldn't pay the electric bill.  Knowing how popular the sign is in the Ft. Myers community, the John E. & Aliese Price Foundation Inc. of Ft. Myers stepped up and made the necessary arrangements for a separate electric meter to be installed just for the sign -- and agreed to pay the electric bill in perpetuity.  At the time, the story made national news.  You can read about it in this USA Today article.  
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Before the sign was re-lit, it was refurbished and an extra bit of text honoring the man behind it was added.  (When the sign was temporarily removed for refurbishing, I noticed its absence almost immediately and started asking around, "What happened to the God is Love sign?")  I've wanted to photograph this sign for quite awhile.  And, it was quite a challenge!  Neon is difficult, isn't it?!  Hope everyone in the blogosphere is enjoying a wonderful Christmas.  Merry Christmas!