May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I'm remembering those who gave their lives and are currently serving in our armed forces.  I hope to honor them by doing my part to stand for freedom and individual liberty.  God bless America.

May 30, 2010

Soccer with a View

It was another beautiful day to be playing on the beach, like these guys on Siesta Key.  I just love the azure water of the Gulf of Mexico in the background.

May 29, 2010

St. Martha's

St. Martha's Catholic Church is one of several churches in downtown Sarasota.  I pass by it  almost every day and admire the stained glass windows and always wonder what the inside looks like.   The church has been in Sarasota since the mid-1920's and at this location, at Fruitville Rd. and Orange Ave., since 1977.   

May 28, 2010

Only Suntan Oil Here

Still not a drop of oil on Florida beaches from that spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The only oil you'll find here is suntan oil! This is Siesta Key beach.  Stunning, isn't it?  That's why every year it's considered one of the  Top Ten Beaches in the world.  

May 27, 2010

J'Aime le Tennis

Well, it's not the red clay of Roland Garros, but it's the best I've got right now:  the green hard courts of Siesta Key.  The courts are well maintained, next to the Gulf of Mexico --- and free!

May 26, 2010

Road Warrior

Seeing mascots and people waving signs alongside the road is pretty common around here nowadays, with business owners trying just about anything to attract customers.  They're a different kind of road warrior!  This guy works for a Mexican restaurant, Mi Pueblo, just down the street from where he's waving.  (I've never been there, but their website looks interesting.)  At least it was only 84 degrees, with the sun setting, when he was standing along University Parkway.  And, yes, he confirmed it's hot in that costume.   

May 25, 2010

Siesta Soccer

I stumbled across a group of ten young men playing beach soccer on Siesta Key beach last night.  While they looked like they were having a great time, I couldn't figure out how they were playing barefoot -- that ball is hard!  (At one point, the ball rolled near me and I poked my flip-flop covered foot at it and could barely tolerate that.)  

May 24, 2010

Aerodynamic Hunter

I discovered this Great Blue Heron a couple blocks from downtown soaring low over Sarasota Bay hunting for dinner.  I love how its legs are fully extended.  Even its claws are stretched to be as aerodynamic as possible.

May 23, 2010

Long Awaited

This is the scene on Palm Avenue in downtown Sarasota.  After years of discussion, construction is underway at last for a public parking garage.  A square, boring box???  Not in Sarasota!  By the end of 2010 this is what will be here:

It was designed by local architect Jonathan Parks.  While you can't really see it from this rendering, the white panels are supposed to be designed to look like sails, to incorporate a nautical theme, since Sarasota Bay is just a couple of blocks away.  The ground floor will be lined with shops, restaurants and outdoor cafes.  

May 22, 2010

Petal Path

You don't have to look too far right now to find fallen Jacaranda blooms.  Under some especially large trees, the sidewalk below is almost transformed into a lavender carpet.   In about a week or so, all these flowers will be gone.  Then, we'll have to wait until mid-May next year to see these spectacular bursts of color once again. 

May 21, 2010

Still No Oil Here!

I'm pleased to report there still is NO OIL on any of the beaches here in the Sunshine State.  News reports of tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico washing ashore in Key West were wrong.  There are thousands of miles of pristine beaches in Florida, including Lido Beach, where this photo was taken.  The seagulls are swooping so close to these beachgoers because the family was feeding them Cheetos (of all things).  I would discourage you from feeding birds on the beach.  They're not used to being hand fed by people and they can become quite pesky.  

May 20, 2010

Fish Tale

I was walking on the Saprito Fishing Pier when I heard a fisherman holler, "JOE!  JOOOOOOE!  It's HUUUUGE!"  This, naturally, piqued my curiosity.  Joe, as it turns out, was about 50 yards away. He also was the shouter's fishing partner and 16-year-old son.  And, his help was needed to reel in whatever was hooked on the end of the line.

So, Joe ran up and took over.  He pulled and tugged and grimaced and reeled for about ten minutes.  Both he and his father were convinced that the mystery creature must be at least 15 pounds and...well...huge!

The fishing line bended and curved until at last the sea creature surfaced for a split second.

It was...

..... a stingray!  
Stingrays are one of my favorite sea critters.  I especially love to encounter them at depth when I'm scuba diving.  So, I was concerned about the well being of this ray.  It was quite big and putting up a heck of a fight.  I didn't want it to die because it chomped down on a grunt which actually was a fisherman's bait.                     

Joe maneuvered the hooked ray and walked it all the way down the fishing pier.   During the 45 minute adventure, the ray continued to thrash and Joe struggled to hold on.

At last he and his father landed it.  They measured and weighed it (57 inches, 17 pounds!) and avoided getting stabbed by the ray's stinger.  Then, they dropped it back into Sarasota Bay, where it swam away quickly.  Yeah!

Not only was it nice to see the stingray released, it was great to see this father-son team in action problem solving together.  Their congratulatory high-five at the end said it all.

Well done!

May 19, 2010

Goin' for a Ride

I spotted this German Shepard eagerly taking in the sights and sounds of downtown Sarasota while stopped at a traffic light at Fruitville Rd. and Orange Ave.  What's there not to love about a hound sticking its head out the window enjoying the fresh air?!

May 18, 2010

Old Herald Building Revealed

Here's the wide shot of the old Herald Building, which I promised last week after posting this close-up.  The building dates back to the 1920's and is located in the Burns Square district of downtown Sarasota.   And, I discovered it's rather challenging to photograph, particularly since it's at the apex of an intersection surrounded by street signs, curbs, shrubs and tables.  (And, the sun didn't help me either.)  So...'s another view.  This angle is from Pineapple Ave.  The close-up actually was taken from the other side of the building.  It has such history and character  --  I'm so glad it was preserved.  By the way, the yellow umbrellas are outside the Citrus Cafe, a popular lunch spot.

May 17, 2010

Happy Rain Dance

We received some much needed rain yesterday.  After the last storm passed through, I went for a stroll and came across this white ibis who appeared to be absolutely delighted with the standing water in a ditch along a busy road.  He looked like he was laughing, kicking up his heels and doing a happy rain dance. This scene is a preview of coming attractions for Floridians, as we're approaching the raining season.

May 16, 2010

Four Flags

You'll find these four flags flying outside City Hall in downtown Sarasota.  From left:  State of Florida flag, American flag, the POW/MIA flag and the City of Sarasota flag.  Yep, that's the Statue of David on the Sarasota flag.  The city adopted David as a logo years ago to emphasize the community's love and support of the arts.  (The structure in the background is the Bank of America building.)

May 15, 2010

Water Plant Water Fowl

I noticed this great egret last night tiptoeing through this lilly pad and algae filled retention pond next to the city's water plant.  It was feeding time and it was nabbing all kinds of goodies from beneath the green goo.  While it's not unusual to see egrets in Sarasota, I was a bit surprised to see this one here because it's right next to a fairly busy intersection.  Perhaps the best part of my stop, though, was that a city utilities worker made a point to stop me and tip me off to an eagle nest about a mile away.  Can't wait to check it out!

May 14, 2010

Old Herald Building

This is the kind of building that attracts my eye with its old, quaint facade and surrounding vegetation.  It's the historic Herald Square Building, situated in the Burns Square neighborhood in downtown Sarasota.  It's one of my favorite buildings in Sarasota not only because of the architecture, which dates back to the 1920's, but because it sits right at the apex of Orange Ave. and Pineapple Ave.  (Triangular buildings are eye catching to me.  At some point, I'll have to post a wide shot of the front of the building.)   An assortment of boutiques and a popular cafe are now located in the building.

May 13, 2010

Art of Meditation

While I was en route to take a photo of a car, I was distracted by this meditation garden which I've wanted to visit.  It's just one block away from the hustle and bustle of St. Armands Circle, tucked behind St. Armands Key Lutheran Church.  The surroundings are quite pleasant with tall foliage, lovely statues and a well manicured lawn.  It really is an urban oasis where you can take a moment to rejuvenate your spirit.  When I strolled through, about a half a dozen others were doing the same, including the guy in the orange shirt in the background  -- who, believe it or not, actually appeared to be meditating.

May 12, 2010

NO Oil Here!

There is NO oil on the beaches in Sarasota!  None.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  In fact, there's no oil on any beaches anywhere in Florida.  Unfortunately, all the attention with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is giving some tourists the wrong idea.  I took this photo early this evening on Lido Beach.  People were having a great time sunbathing, wading along the shoreline and collecting seashells  -- with no oil in the water.   I sure enjoyed the evening getting my toes wet!  To keep tabs on the daily beach conditions in the Sarasota area, check out Mote Marine Laboratory's online beach report  -- it's great.

May 11, 2010

Almost Done

The new Sarasota Police Headquarters is almost finished after nearly 20 months of construction.  It's been fun watching it go up in downtown over the months.  It's not every day a city has a new police building open, so this will be exciting for Sarasota; plus, it's a unique looking structure.  The current police building is right behind this one and is 50 years old -- pretty antiquated for today's public safety standards.  To pay for the new $40 million building, voters overwhelmingly approved a property tax increase a few years ago before the real estate market crashed.

May 10, 2010

Spring Splendor

Every spring I look forward to seeing the jacaranda trees in bloom -- the lavender petals give the skyline a wonderful infusion of color.  I spotted this tree on my way to work and made a point to capture it during lunch.  The flowers bloom only for a few weeks.  By the end of May they'll be gone and the tree will be so stark you'd never guess it could produce such stunning flowers.

May 9, 2010

Sunday at Selby

Nothing like a glass of champagne on the lawn of Selby Botanical Gardens while enjoying their concert series!  Every Sunday in the spring there's a wonderful concert under the sprawling Banyan tree.  The music and ambience are always wonderful -- definitely a spring highlight for me!  The Gardens, located right on Sarasota Bay, opened in 1975 and are named for Marie Selby, a Sarasota philanthropist.  

May 8, 2010

Unconditional Surrender

"Unconditional Surrender" was created by world renowned artist J. Seward Johnson in 2005 and now stands along the bayfront in downtown Sarasota.  It was modeled after Alfred Jorgensen's famous V-J Day photo of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square.  At 25 feet tall, it attracts plenty of attention in Sarasota, particularly in such an arts minded community.  While opinions on the piece are mixed, you can always find tourists taking pictures next to the statue, re-enacting it.  What do you think of it?  To see more "Unconditional Surrender" photos visit my Flickr page.

May 7, 2010

Ringling Bridge at Sunset

It was a perfect evening in Sarasota when I captured this photo of Sarasota Bay and the Ringling Bridge. The bridge was very controversial when it was initially proposed several years ago.  Now it is an iconic landmark which is enjoyed by drivers, bicyclists, runners and walkers alike.