December 31, 2010

Behind the Scenes

One last photo featuring Christmas decorations!   This is what you'll see behind the Christmas tree on St. Armands --- Discobolus tossing out 2010 and preparing to ring in the New Year.   

December 30, 2010

Little Green Shoots

One unexpected outcome from our recent near freezing temperatures is that two of my outdoor plants are thriving --- because I brought them inside.  Apparently, the pseudo-furnance I use to heat my Florida abode was pumping out enough warm air to create a greenhouse effect of sorts.  After the first night, this plant sprouted two little green leaves.   Now, there are four.   And, my little palm tree has never looked better!  Unfortunately, I had to break the news to them last night that they are outdoor plants.  They'll be under close observation for awhile.

December 29, 2010

F-f-f-frosty Morn

As far as the eye could see, there was frost on the ground yesterday morning.  In the dozen years I've lived in Florida, I don't recall seeing this much frost.  Ever.  Even though the sun was up, it was 34 degrees when I snapped this shot.  I know that's not cold for my northern blogger friends....but, it sure is for Sarasota.  Let's hope it warms up soon.  People are descending upon Florida for sun, fun, bowl games --- and warmth!

December 28, 2010

Hittin' the Town

Ever since Southeastern Guide Dogs set up shop on Main Street a few months ago, I see adorable pooches like this one going for walks around downtown all the time.  Make no mistake --- this isn't a joy walk.  It's work.  From what I can gather, they walk a four block path and along the way they stop and practice commands (and receive lots of positive reinforcement).  I'm sure this guy is going to make a great companion for someone.  Click here to see some of the other cute canines in the program.

December 27, 2010


Don't you look at me!  I cannot believe you brought me to this place.  You said it would be warm in Sarasota!  Yes, my feathers are ruffled! (It's supposed to get down to 29 degrees inland tonight.) 

December 26, 2010

Caffeine Infusion

For many, the day after Christmas means rushing back to stores to take advantage of marked down merchandise and to return and/or exchange presents.  Of course, that requires energy.  A venti pumpkin spice latte (with whip cream) should do it!  By the way, you're looking at a picture of what very well could be one of the smallest Starbucks stores.  It's on St. Armands Circle and is approximately the size of a shoebox.  And, yet their pumpkin spice lattes are just as delicious as the ones at a regular sized store.

December 25, 2010

Away in a Manger

Merry Christmas!
This beautiful manger scene is outside St. Armands Key Lutheran Church.

December 24, 2010

Dash Away, Dash Away

Watch out!  Last minute shoppers are dashing to and fro...including on St. Armands Circle.

December 23, 2010


This jolly old elf was spotted on St. Armands Circle.  He didn't seem stressed at all about having to load up his sleigh and eight tiny reindeer tomorrow night and deliver presents around the world.  He's one cool dude!

December 22, 2010

Festive Influence

When I strolled by this storefront window on St. Armands Circle, I couldn't help but think of Virginia's post a couple of weeks ago on Birmingham Alabama Daily Photo!  I was greeted by one of the store owners, Sam, who mentioned she was inspired to design the window display after seeing something similar in New York.  I love it...although, I don't know if I could pull off the hat and skirt together.  The store, called Influence, is a trendy boutique.  Sam and her younger sister opened it in March and so far she says business is doing well.  They certainly know how to attract window shoppers.  Here's to influencing a festive season on the Circle!

December 21, 2010

Palm Presents

Twas four days 'til Christmas
and all through Blogger land

Busy fingers type
Hoping to live up to the hype

Photos to be taken
To the butcher for bacon

Stockings to be stuffed
Shoes to be buffed

Grab your loot
And, of course, your point n shoot

Little ones on Santa's lap
Shoppers needing a nap 

Oh, the photo opps to be had 
Sans camera surely you'll be sad 

Merry Christmas to all
And to all happy shooting

December 20, 2010

Kress Christmas

The Kress building in downtown Sarasota used to be a five and dime store way back in the day.  Now, it houses offices and is registered as an historic building.  The storefront windows are large an curved and decked out for the holidays.   If you view this photo in large you can see snow falling from the top of the tree and landing in the upside down umbrella serving as a tree skirt.  Sure conveys the feeling of a good old fashioned Christmas to me!

December 19, 2010

Sunset Landing

Two sandhill cranes coming in for a landing at the celery fields in Sarasota County.  If you look closely, to the lower right of the birds just above the tree line, you can see five more in the distance making their approach.  I never tire of seeing this!

December 18, 2010

Glowing Goodies

Extra large Christmas goodies for all the extra good boys and girls in Bloggerland.

December 17, 2010

Guard Duty

A soldier watches over a giant stocking, which was hung with great care, next to the Zenith building in downtown Sarasota.

December 16, 2010

Fowl Eviction

The last time I updated you on the rebuilding of Ed Smith Stadium, the new spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles, the Florida State Supreme Court was preparing to hear a case about whether back room deals were brokered between local government and the ball club, without the public's knowledge. The high court ruled favorably for the local government.  Construction continued --- and the stadium really started looking incredible.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, news broke that two bald eagles, which are a protected species, suddenly took up residency in the right field lights.  There was talk about what would happen to the construction site.  The birds didn't mind the construction -- they showed up during the drilling, pounding, beeping and other loud building noises.  A Florida Fish & Wildlife official said they would monitor the situation, but they weren't too concerned because the birds were a good distance from the actual construction.   It was speculated if the eagles had chicks, there just wouldn't be any night games at the stadium.  So, when I snapped this shot of one watching over the construction workers at sunset, I thought he looked like he was having the last laugh.  Not so fast.  Within two weeks, Florida Fish & Wildlife suddenly moved the eagles' two eggs to Tennessee for incubation --- and, destroyed the nest.  A wildlife official was quoted as saying the birds are upset, of course, but it's in their best interest not to nest in such an urban area.      

December 15, 2010

Under Cover

Meteorologists are forecasting a hard freeze this morning in rural Sarasota.  That means temperatures are expected to stay at 27 degrees (or lower) for at least 3 hours.  That's enough to damage or kill many of the tropical plants, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.  So, when Mother Nature gets like this, many Floridians go on the offensive and cover their plants and trees with sheets and blankets -- anything to protect them from the direct cold.  I spotted these plants already covered at lunchtime in downtown.  Hopefully, it'll be enough to protect them.

December 14, 2010

Frozen Like a Statue

Facing plummeting temperatures without their winter attire, they huddled for warmth under the Christmas lights on St. Armands Circle.

December 13, 2010

Florida Freeze

Weather forecasts are calling for possible freezing temperatures in Sarasota tonight.  The last time it snowed in the Tampa Bay area, as I recall, was in 1977.  These decorations might have some competition with the real thing!

December 12, 2010

Palm Present

A gift wrapped palm tree under sunny blue Sarasota skies for my blogger friends in colder climates to enjoy.

December 11, 2010

Up On The Rooftop

If Santa is delayed, check the chimney!  

The entire SDP staff is pleased to report all is back to normal with posting.  No more cell phone pics.  The staff member responsible for the snafu has been counseled and is concerned about the possibility of receiving a lump of coal in their stocking.

December 10, 2010

Perched Poinsettias

No other flower says 'Christmas' like the poinsettia.  These are perched in the lobby of city hall.   Those things that look like floating ice cubes in the background are part of a permanent art display ---  kinda cool, especially next to the poinsettias.   It seems like a wintery scene up north.   By the way, it's warming up quite nicely here.  High of 70 today.  But, another cold front is heading this way next week.  In the meantime, here's something to daydream about.

December 9, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

My mother will start to worry...Beautiful, what's your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor....Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I'd better scurry...Beautiful, please don't hurry
Well maybe just a half a drink more...Put some music on while I pour

No fireplace roaring or toddies being poured when I snapped this pic (with my phone).  When I pulled out of the garage, the temperature in my car registered a pleasant 63 degrees.  Within minutes of driving down the road, it plummeted to 39 -- that's unusually cold for Sarasota this time of year.  I like the chilly weather for Christmas shopping but....let's bump it up a bit. 

December 8, 2010

Captain Frosty

Frosty looks so happy captaining this boat along the bayfront.   I spotted him last night with my cell phone  -- **(sigh)** -- at Marina Jack.  The annual boat parade is this Saturday.    People decorate their boats with lights and cruise Sarasota Bay playing Christmas music.  It's lot of fun.  So far this week, the overnight lows have been in the high 30s.  If those temps stay for the weekend, it certainly will look and feel like Christmas.  

December 7, 2010

Pub, Grub & Nativity

Ya gotta love a pub with a nativity scene!  This is Lynche's Pub on St. Armands Circle.  Shopping might be a a little more relaxed after a stop here for some Christmas cheer. 

December 6, 2010

Go Green

This ornament was spotted on someone's tree in Sarasota. Coincidentally, college football bowl selections were announced last night.  #7 Michigan State University will head to the Sunshine State for the Capital One Bowl right down the road in Orlando on New Year's Day to take on Alabama.  The Spartan nation and love for Sparty extends around the globe including right here at SDP.   It's anticipated the entire SDP staff will be given the day off to partake in the Spartan festivities.  Go Green!  

Editor's Note:  Due to forgetful SDP staff leaving a key piece of computer equipment  80 miles away, this photo was taken with a primitive cell phone.  Darn.  The Quality Control Division of SDP is launching a full investigation into matter.  Meanwhile, efforts are underway to minimize the impact on the CDP community.  

December 5, 2010

Griswold House?

Sparky Griswold, are you in there???  'Christmas Vacation' is one of my holiday favorites along with 'A Christmas Carol' and 'It's a Wonderful Life'.  I love the scene when Sparky Griswold, who is desperately trying to have the ultimate Norman Rockwell Christmas with his family, lights up the exterior lights on his house.  Aah, the fun, frivolity and laughs ensue!  With that in mind, I look forward to seeing this house in Sarasota every year.  There's so much to take in:  gingerbread men, reindeer, toy soldiers, candy canes --- and, of course, Santa.  I live about a half-mile away and I think I can almost see the glow lighting up the evening sky.  I love their enthusiasm and over the top Christmas spirit.

December 4, 2010

Abominably Adorable

When I first drove by this display I wasn't sure what it was.  Then, when I looked closer, it quickly became one of my favorite Christmas displays so far this year.  It's the Abominable Snowman  stuck in a tree snarling with a cute pooch standing guard below.  Homeowner Mike was assembling other decorations when I was there.  He says by the time he's done he'll put up about 15,000 lights.  This one display is great.  How cute is that Abominable Snowman?!

December 3, 2010

What's in the Box?

I give a gold star to the festive folks who wrapped this present in front of their condo.  They were particularly creative because unwrapped..... looks like this:  an aesthetically challenged utility box.   The cheery Christmas makeover is perfect!  Although, I wonder what the Florida Power and Light crew would think if they had to unwrap their box to get into it.

December 2, 2010

Christmas Catwalk

Is it me or does this look like a Christmas catwalk?  I can almost see Santa and Mrs. Claus sashaying down the walkway draped in this season's North Pole haute couture. This festive display is lighting up  the neighborhood just minutes from home.  Oh, it's going to be a holly jolly SDP season!

December 1, 2010

Theme Day: Time

This clock has been located at Five Points in downtown Sarasota for a very, very long time.  So, for today's theme day, I thought it would be fun at dusk to use a slower shutter speed to give the illusion of the sports car zipping by while time is standing still.   City Daily Photo bloggers from around the world are participating in today's theme day.  Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

November 30, 2010

Santa Manatee

A sure sign Christmas is right around the corner in Sarasota is the appearance of Santa Manatee.  Ten-and-a-half-months out of the year, he's just a sea cow holding a mailbox.  But, immediately after Thanksgiving he tosses his pilgrim hat aside and transforms into Santa Manatee, which (of course) makes me smile on my way to and from work.   So, now the entire SDP staff is being dispatched to locate (and photograph) the most interesting and unusual Christmas decorations in Sarasota.  Ho...ho...ho!  

November 29, 2010

Roseate Spoonbill

One of my favorite birds in Sarasota is the roseate spoonbill.    Maybe it's the goofy looking beak, the white-pink feathers, or those bright red eyes...but I think they're really cool.  I don't see them as often as I'd like, so when I do it's a treat.  I spotted this guy hanging out with some other spoonbills at the celery fields. 

November 28, 2010

Drum Circle

Should you find yourself on Siesta Key beach at sunset on a Sunday, first you'll hear these folks in the distance.  Then, the hypnotic pulsating beat of the drums will draw you to them  -- the Drum Circle.  Nothing seems to be choreographed.  They just show up and bang their drums on the beach.  Some free spirits dance and others twirl neon hoops.  It's definitely something fun and different to take in --- if only for a few minutes.  

November 27, 2010

Landing Gear Down

Did TSA pat down those stick legs???   This feathered in-flight beast is a wood stork with its landing gear down approaching the celery fields.  Watching it wobble through the air, making corrections with the wind currents, I was impressed with its smooth uneventful landing.  He's a natural!

November 26, 2010


And look at the birdie.  I spotted this little cattle egret sitting atop the traffic light pole at a very busy intersection next to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  It seemed to be enjoying the view, completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle below.

November 25, 2010

Dinner Time

No turkey for this wood stork.  Instead, he's opting for a sushi dinner (and no pumpkin pie).   Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2010

'Tis the Season (Already)

Yep...the bird hasn't even been cooked and the Christmas decorations are out ---- and lit up.  I spotted Dionysus under a neon bow Monday night on St. Armands Key.  When I noticed the crews putting up the decorations in the afternoon, I wondered whether they would wait to light them.  Now we know the answer.  Dionysus seems to be quite festive this year.  For those of you who don't recall, this is what he looked like at Halloween

November 23, 2010

Sand, Castles & Dragons

I showed up right at sunset on the last day of the master sandsculpting competition on Siesta Key over the weekend.  Wow...what a great time to be there!  About a dozen sculptures were created by artists working in teams of two.  This one, made by two guys from Texas, was my favorite.  They say the texture of the sand on Siesta is perfect for this kind of art.  I'd say you can't go wrong with that sunset either.

November 22, 2010

Start 'Em Young

I met 2-year-old Eliyah Keller at the Sarasota Naturally street fair.   He was sporting a t-shirt that said, 'Be green. It's cool!'  Start 'em young.  Growing up in the '70's during the energy crisis and inflation, I was taught  when you left a room you turned off the lights...and fans...and radios...and TVs.   You never left the refrigerator door open.  And, living in Michigan, we always turned the heat down when we left the house.  It was all about saving money.  Amazing how behavior like that sticks with you.  Years later, I still follow those rules. 

November 21, 2010

Peaceful Morning

This is the First Baptist Church steeple on Main Street in downtown.  Whenever I'm near it with my camera, I always have to take a picture.  Between it being alabaster white and the sun being so bright here, it's challenging to capture a good shot.  So, I keep trying.   This time around I like the wispy cirrus clouds.

November 20, 2010

Bottoms Up

What a sight...just ducky!  There must have been something really good to eat in there for those mallard ducks to maneuver their way through that thick layer of lilly pads and then submerge themselves vertically.  They look like big brown feathered bobbers.   This is a retention pond located on a busy intersection, right next to the city's water treatment plant.  Almost always, I see wildlife here.  When I stopped, I originally planned to take pictures of the lilies -- until I spotted the ducks having so much fun.     

November 19, 2010

Pretty in Pink

I met Taylor the Welsh Corgi recently in downtown Sarasota.  Not only do I love those adorable big bat-dog ears, but those expressive eyebrows, shiny schnoz and pink floral kerchief.  She's ready for a day on the town!  Taylor just moved here from Scottsdale, AZ (along with her humans and doggie brother Tucker).  Pace yourself have a lot explore and sniff (and herd) here in Sarasota.  Welcome to SRQ!  

November 18, 2010

Gallery of Patriots

The Gallery of Patriots is located within Gillespie Park in the heart of the Sarasota.  It's been here since 1977 when the Hispanic-American Civic Association donated it to the community. The gallery consists of about two dozen busts of prominent political leaders in the western hemisphere, like Uraguayan Jose Artigas in the foreground and Honduran Francisco Morazan in the background.  Americans featured in the gallery include Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

November 17, 2010

And the Answer Is...

...(to yesterday's question) photograph birds!  Specifically, sandhill cranes.  Congratulations to my blog buddy and fellow ornithologist Dina at Dina's Wildlife City Adventures who answered correctly! Check out her blog ---her bird photos are amazing.   When I took this shot during a recent sunset at the celery fields, I counted approximately four dozen sandhill cranes.   The best part is watching them fly in.  Their wing span is amazing.  Hopefully, I'll capture a nice in-flight shot soon to share with you.

November 16, 2010

Photo Opp

What would attract oodles of photographers with their long lenses on a Sunday evening to eastern Sarasota County?  Thoughts...guesses?  Anyone??  Bueller?....Bueller???

November 15, 2010

Doggone Adorable

Walking down Main Street, I noticed a sign outside Southeastern Guide Dogs announcing 'Puppy Hugging 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.'  Who could resist such a sign?  Through the storefront window I could see about a dozen happy canines playing.  Again, who could resist?  This was the first chance I had to visit the new Sarasota office of Southeastern Guide Dogs since it opened in downtown two months ago.  The little one on the left (I believe that's Brenna) is 18-weeks-old and is in the seeing eye program.  By the time she graduates, when she's about 2-years-old as I recall, she'll know 40 commands and will be able to assist her human.  All the others in the photo are therapy dogs who visit nursing homes and hospitals.  I just love that!  The facility is spacious with a play area for the dogs, an education room (presumably for the humans) and a gift shop.  As it turns out,  they have a 23-acre campus in Palmetto (a little north of Sarasota) and give tours.   If you can't visit either place in person, check out their Puppy Cam  --- it's irresistible.   There's lots more info on their website:

November 14, 2010

Sarasota Naturally

I was downtown yesterday afternoon and stumbled across a street fair called Sarasota Naturally.  It was  busy, which really wasn't surprising since Sarasotans typically are into all things green/natural.  What was surprising was the above scene:  hoop dance.  I had never seen it before -- or heard of it, for that matter.   Bonnie Brown was giving very cool demonstrations (which seemed to be a bit of a workout) and I couldn't help but notice she seemed quite happy, smiling the entire time. As it turns out, her business card says, "You simply cannot be unhappy while dancing with a hoop."  Apparently, hoop dance is growing in popularity and she offers lessons.   A group even gets together on Siesta Beach every Tuesday night at sunset --- and hoop dances.  Who knew?!  You can learn more on her website:

November 13, 2010


Meet Imhotep!  Since he's a basenji like my Mulligan, I had to say hello when I saw him at Bird Key Park.  Like any good basenji, he was typically cat-like and aloof, more interested in sniffing the wind and grass and scanning the horizon than anything else.  Basenjis are curious barkless hounds from Africa.  So, his owner told me, he's named Imhotep, after the first architect of pyramids.  I don't know about buildings, but basenjis are always designing a plan.   They're so playful....they can design and hatch a plot before you realize what's happened.  Usually the plot has something to do with gleefully shredding paper --- a favorite basenji past time. (Strange but true.) Hmmm...I wonder what Imhotep was contemplating when I snapped this shot.