December 26, 2011


SDP 12-26-11
We're enjoying holiday leftovers here at SDP! I showed you two portions of this display before Christmas: sailboats and blue and green scullers. For our encore presentation, the SDP staff presents red scullers and a sailboat heading to shore. The entire display includes three sculling boats (all of which are animated -- very cool!) and two sailboats.  Hands down, this is the best non-residential display I spotted this season.  By the way, I agree with Jack at Hartford Daily Photo: the Christmas season continues for several more days!

December 25, 2011

Joy to the World

SDP 25-11
I spotted this nice nativity scene in front of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Ft. Myers.  I hope everyone is enjoying a peaceful day with family and friends.   Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2011

'Zat You Santa Claus?

SDP  12-24-11
The low lighting on yesterday's Santa photo may have been what prompted several people to comment that he looked a bit creepy. This one, on the other hand, looks like a member of the paparazzi caught the Big Guy having a jolly 'ol time on someone's balcony, waving to revelers below. I sure hope Santa is well rested for tonight!

December 23, 2011

Special Guest

SDP  12-23-11
Imagine driving down the street and seeing a life-size Santa standing on a front porch.   I did a double take when I spotted this jolly guy.  He's quite realistic at a glance.  Ho ho ho!  Is everyone ready for Christmas?

December 22, 2011

Still Dropping

SDP  12-22-11
Well, this isn't a very festive photo (although there's plenty of red and a hint of green), but I'm committed to posting a picture every month showing prices at the same gas station in Sarasota.  During the past month, we nudged downward a smidge more  -- 4 cents -- to $3.27.  Santa, I'd like $2.49/gallon gas. (Please?!)  To see gas price trends over the past ten months, click here.

December 21, 2011

Colorful White

SDP  12-21-11
Who doesn't like a splash of color on a white picket fence this time of year?

December 20, 2011

Captiva-ting Santa

SDP  12-20-11
If you're on the west coast of Florida this time of year, a must-stop is Captiva island. It's located less than one hour from  Ft. Myers with not a lot to do but relax -- and enjoy the Christmas decorations. They usually go up by Thanksgiving and I'm always excited to see Santa scaling this palm tree next to Tween Waters resort. I'm never quite sure what Santa is up to: picking fresh coconuts for a tropical drink...conducting reconnaisance in search of chimneys...or scanning the Gulf of Mexico for frolicking dolphins. Whatever he's up to, I love this jolly 'ol elf!

December 19, 2011

Lighten Up!

SDP  12-19-11
I spotted this message at some tennis courts in Punta Gorda, just south of Sarasota, and had to return with my camera to snap a pic. When I saw it, I immediately thought of a few less than friendly drivers I had recently encountered on the roads. Sheesh! 6 days 'til Christmas...enjoy!

December 15, 2011

Palms & Presents

SDP  12-15-11
Back to Christmas decorations! These palms and presents are situated in the middle of a roundabout at a retail development near me. Actually, it's the same development that has the really cool Christmas rowers and sailboats, but this display is across the road.  Anyway, all the decorations are new this year.  Traffic was heavy going in and out of the mall when I was out shooting this picture last night.  Maybe all the festive lights are putting people in the shopping mood.

December 14, 2011

Indy Hardware

SDP  12-14-11
Sarasotans like independently owned businesses. Off the top of my head, I can think of five independently owned bookstores. And, then there's this business: Sarasota Hardware. Located on Main Street in the heart of downtown, it's been part of Sarasota since 1934 -- that's 77 years! Quite impressive for any business! With regard to this photo, I like the reflection of the parked car. It just seems to add to the small town feel of the scene.

December 13, 2011

Rowing into Christmas

SDP  12-13-11
Row, row, row...and, ho ho ho! This Christmas display of scullers rowing presents to their destination, while very cool by itself, probably is better understood and appreciated with a little backstory. It's located at a retail area created by Benderson Development. (On the same retention pond where I showed you this sailboat with gifts.)  Across the road is a relatively new park called Nathan Benderson Park, which has been hosting popular rowing events.  Sarasota County recently agreed to invest $19.5 million in tourism funds to help transform the park into a world class rowing venue for tournaments.   Row, row, row!

December 12, 2011

When Gators Fly

SDP  12-12-11
Without question, this is one of my favorite Christmas displays in Florida: a team of five alligators pulling a sleigh between palm trees. (Gosh, I wish the fronds were lit!) It's so clever...only a Florida Gator would think of it! Truth be told, this display is down the road in Ft. Myers. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing it every year. Dash away...dash away...dash away Gators!

December 11, 2011

Fast Life...Fast Controversy

SDP  12-11-11
What do you think of this mural? It has become a bit of a controversy in Sarasota. As part of the Chalk Festival, an international artist, simply known as MTO, agreed to do some work elsewhere, including on this building where the Tube Dude company is based. It happens to be located in a transitional part of town and many people immediately were incensed with the message 'Fast Life' and the hands displaying what appear to be a gang symbol. To make it more palatable, a local artist connected with the festival added the words "It's A ..... Let Love Express It'. Well, that seemed to attract even more attention (and controversy). So, the building owner announced that in the spirit of not offending the community, he would paint over the mural within 72 hours. And....that's when the other side came forward and pleaded for it to stay.  According to news reports, the owner now says it will remain for the next month as he tries to figure out how to make it acceptable for all.  I'll keep you posted.

December 9, 2011

Lighting the Way

SDP  12-9-11
These beautiful Royal Palm trees are lighting the way to lots of retails stores. (Wouldn't want Christmas shoppers to get lost, would we?!) The trees are so pretty lit up, I wouldn't mind seeing them like this year-round.

December 8, 2011

Sail into Christmas

SDP  12-8-11
A shopping development down the road from me really kicked it up a few notches this year with Christmas decorations, like this sailboat in a retention pond. It faces a major highway, so it attracts a lot of attention with passersby. It sure grabbed my attention! And, I wasn't the only one to stop for a photo opp. Who doesn't like to see Christmas presents loaded up on a festive, glowing sailboat?!

December 7, 2011

And The Winner Is...

SDP  12-7-11
The City of Sarasota is now the proud owner of this sculpture, known as 'Fractured Migration'. It was created by local artist Dennis Kowal and was one of 12 sculptures in a popular public art campaign. The intent was to display the pieces for one year and then purchase one for the city's permanent public art collection --  and this piece was selected as the winner. It's particularly popular at night when it resembles an ice sculpture. (Click here to see 'Fractured Migration' in the daytime during the kick-off event.)  It will remain right where it Selby Five Points Park (where all the cool colorful lights are).

December 2, 2011


SDP  12-2-11's what's for dinner! Upon further review (thanks to my neighbor and fellow blogger Ernie), I have determined this fisherman (shown plunging yesterday) is a little blue heron sporting its breeding colors.  an unknown bird.  But it is a bird!  Honestly, there are so many different herons and egrets here...I give up trying to identify this one.   On a different note, for those of you who like Christmas music, I encourage you to visit Ernie's blog ErnieNotBert. He collects old vinyl Christmas records throughout the year, then rips them, scans the covers and shares them on his blog. It's a great way to find little known renditions of holiday classics.  One of my favorite shares from last year is an album of Christmas songs from an Irish pub. Good stuff!

December 1, 2011

Theme Day: Action Shot

SDP  12-1-11
I believe this is a tri-colored heron on a fishing expedition in Sarasota Bay next to Ken Thompson Park. I had just bumped up the shutter speed in hopes of capturing the bird popping up with a flailing fish. Turns out, I really like the water drops frozen in mid-air, which depict the quick force of the bird shoving its beak into the water. It also shows action...and, that's today's theme in the City Daily Photo community. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.  And...check in tomorrow to see what the heron caught for dinner!

November 30, 2011

Doorway Wednesday: Carefree

SDP  11-30-11
This doorway along an alley near Central Ave. caught my attention because of the name: "Carefree Design Center". It sounded so inviting...just a carefree place to create whatever you want to create. Well, as it turns out, behind this door beautiful walk-in closets (and other storage spaces) are designed and manufactured.  Check out their website.  Very interesting!  I never know what I'll find when I'm out wandering around.

November 28, 2011

Five Points at Night

SDP  11-28-11
When I posted this photo of Selby Five Points Park last week, a few SDP followers were kind enough to request a nighttime view with the tree lights aglow. Alors...voila! The lights alternate colors every few minutes and last night I caught them midstream between red and orange. Pretty cool!  By the way, this isn't just for Christmas. The trees are lit year round.

November 25, 2011

Downward Trend

SDP 11-25-11
Gas prices have dropped 12-cents here over the past month, with a nickel of that in one day just before Thanksgiving. Any chance we'll see $2.99 by New Year's Day? To see an archive of my monthly gasoline reports, click here.

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

SDP  11-24-11
It's officially Thanksgiving when Pilgrim Manatee arrives on DeSoto Road! I hope you're enjoying a relaxing day and pause a moment to reflect upon all your blessings. I've already logged a 5K walk this morning --- gosh, I'm so thankful just to be able to do that! There's so much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving. May your day be filled with family, friends, food (preferably turkey...NOT manatee), football, parades --- and a nap. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2011

Teddy Bear Run

SDP  11-21-11
Not an image you expect to see on the road, is it? This biker (and his fuzzy friends) was part of the 14th annual Teddy Bear Run yesterday morning. Hundreds of motorcyclists roared down the road, complete with a police escort, as they delivered stuffed animals for a charity event benefiting children with cancer. There's something about a burly biker with a cuddly Pooh bear that makes me smile. And, knowing it's all to help sick kids...makes it even better. What a special delivery.  To see more of my pics from the event click here.

November 20, 2011

Full House

SDP 11-20-11
Recently, I was shooting a construction site near downtown when I heard really loud chirping emanating from a tree in a busy parking lot. So many house sparrows were tucked inside, hiding on the branches, the tree was actually shaking! It took awhile, but I managed to get this shot (above)...of what I believe to be a female house sparrow. And also this photo...
SDP  11-20-11a
...which I believe is a male house sparrow. (Apparently, he was going out on a limb to see what I was doing.) I was staring at that tree for probably 20-25 minutes in a fast food parking lot, and believe it or not, not a single person inquired what I was looking at. They all just walked and drove by, oblivious to   nature's abundance in that tree. 

November 19, 2011

Lights at Five

SDP  11-19-11
5 o'clock....and Five Points Park in downtown, that is. It's almost been a year since the park was renovated and colorful decorative lights strung through the trees. It looks great year-round and is especially inviting this time of year --- even before the sun goes down.

November 18, 2011

Employee of the Month

SDP  11-18-11

I did a double-take when I saw this reserved parking sign at Sarasota Architectural Salvage. That's a faux police mugshot identifying the employee of the month.  It seems the store owner has a good sense of humor as he goes about acknowledging a job well done.  Very amusing!  For the record the "mugshot" indicates Pennenga G. is the employee of the month.  Congrats!

November 16, 2011

Autumnal Nuptials

SDP  11-6-11

I'm back! I enjoyed a getaway to Mt. Dora, a quaint little town northwest of Orlando. Besides oodles of charming B & B's, and a good old fashioned downtown (filled with American flags for Veterans' Day), Mt. Dora hits the spot for me because it's just far enough north for the mercury to drop in the fall. was sweater weather! (A very exciting change for those of us who live with 70-degrees plus most days.) While I was relaxing on a balcony overlooking downtown, this wedding party trotted into my viewfinder. Could this be any more quaint?!

November 10, 2011

Less Talk....More Chalk

Chalk Festival
As promised, I'm posting more photos from the Sarasota Chalk Festival. This is Pineapple Avenue, where most of the artists were performing their magic on the pavement. Including...
Chalk Festival
...this very cool 3-D piece of a boy poking up from a tall bookshelf, which probably was my favorite. I believe it was created by a team from Brazil. It really popped off the pavement. And, then, there were pieces with incredible detail...
Chalk Festival
...animal as well as...
Chalk Festival
...human. Some made you feel like...
Chalk Festival could walk on water. And, I continually had the feeling...
Chalk Festival
...I was being watched. It was another great event. 24 hours after it concluded, the street sweepers came through, and that was it --- until next year! After posting nine photos in the past two days, SDP's editor in chief is giving me a few days off. See you next week!

November 9, 2011

Pileated Woodpecker (aka: Woody)

I've mentioned before that I see a lot of amazing winged creatures along Fruitville Road, a busy 2-lane road. As I was cruising along in heavy traffic last week, a splash of red caught my eye. Actually, two splashes of red --- on a utility pole. After turning around, parking and stalking, I saw this eyeball peering at me. And, then, the creature cautiously poked its cute little red head out to see what was going on.
SDP 11-9-11
This is a male pileated woodpecker. The males, I've learned from my trusty Birds of Florida field guide, have an extra red stripe along their jawline. While he was peering out, his mate swooped in from seemingly nowhere... 
SDP  11-9-11b
...and poked her head in to see how things were going at the homestead. Clinging to the side of the pole... 
SDP  11-9-11c
...she seemed to ponder her options.  (Or perhaps she was shocked at what she had seen inside: 'He could at least tidy up while I'm away hunting for ants.')  I think Mr. Woody Woodpecker warned the Mrs. about the creature outside with the really long beak (aka: photographer) and shooed her away, because she suddenly left and he ducked inside. ('No more photos, please.  Thank you...and, good day!')  Now, whenever I see a gaping hole in a utility pole I can't help but wonder what's going on in there.  (My cartoon brain seems to shift into overdrive seeing pileated woodpeckers.)   What a fun encounter!  By the way, tomorrow we'll return to the Chalk Festival, as promised.

November 8, 2011


SDP  11-8-11
I see you! I was so excited to see this guy peering at me from inside a utility pole. Any guesses as to what it is? I'll reveal more about my chance encounter with this handsome yet shy creature tomorrow. (Hint: ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hahahaha!)

November 7, 2011

Chalk Festival '11

The 4th annual Chalk Festival was held in Burns Square this weekend. I went yesterday afternoon and all I can say is 'WOW!'  The word is out that this is a terrific event. The number of visitors skyrocketed from last year, which is more or less what the organizer said when I bumped into her and she said the Chalk Festival has gone viral. Renowned chalk artists from around the world were here for the event, and many locals participated too....including this guy who I believe is from Sarasota. He happened to be "applying lipstick" on Pineapple Ave. when I saw him. Between that and the amazing faces he created, how could I not select this to be my first post from Chalk Festival '11?  When I have time later this week, I'll post more. Very cool!

November 5, 2011

Bikin' Tube Dude

SDP  11-5-11

Look! Up in the air! It's Bikin' Tube Dude! I showed you photos of Tube Dudes when they first started popping up around Sarasota. Well, the concept has really taken off. (Click here to read about the founder who went from building yachts to creating Tube Dudes.)  I spotted these colorful ones high over the Sarasota BMX course recently.  In September, the company received a $100,000 economic incentive grant from Sarasota County with the stipulation it has to create 44 new jobs (although, I don't know over what period of time).  Who might see Tube Dudes in your area some day.

November 4, 2011

Ushering in Christmas

SDP  11-4-11
I attempted to be discreet while documenting this scene with my phone in the grocery store: eggnog already stocked on the shelves the day before Halloween! I love, love, love (read: LOVE) eggnog and Christmas, but...before Halloween? Perhaps we should dispense with the dates and seasons and just celebrate year round.  Green eggnog for St. Patrick's Day anyone?

November 3, 2011

Take 2

SDP  11-3-11
This is what the parking meters look like in downtown.  Although this is my third post on meters, this is the first time I've shown you what they look like.   I posted this photo just before the meters were unveiled last May.  And, then, I showed you this shot when the meters were temporarily bagged after being operational for six weeks.  Well, now they're back.  Based on community feedback, the program was overhauled, including moving meters to different streets, modifying the cost (cheaper during off-peak months) and providing more signage for users. Now, the meters seem a bit more palatable to business owners and customers.  In fact, today marks one month since the take 2 do-over and it seems business as usual downtown.

November 2, 2011

City Kitty

SDP  11-2-11
Meet City Kitty. She lives under a building in downtown Sarasota and has been cared for by an employee for years. Usually, City Kitty is shy and it's a rarity to see her. But, recently, I've spotted her several times. Word on the street is that an opossum moved in to her dry, warm space under the building and now she's forced into the elements (sun, rain, wind) when the pointy-faced marsupial decides he wants to be there. I was surprised to hear an opossum lives downtown, so I did some research and learned the following: (1) opossums are short lived -- just 2-4 years; and (2) their predators include cats. Either City Kitty needs to get a bit more aggressive or wait it out. (Too bad there isn't an opossum relocation program.)

November 1, 2011

Theme Day: Fences

SDP  11-1-11
'Awww....Don't fence me in!' That's what crossed my mind when I was trying to get this shot last week. Not only was a cattle fence in my way, but also a prickly looking barbed wire fence. It's theme day in the City Daily Community and we're all fenced in...or out!  Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

SDP  10-31-11
Gotta love the Headless Horseman on Halloween! Isn't this a terrific yard display? Can you imagine being a kid and approaching this house trick-or-tricking?! Have a safe and fun Halloween, and remember: Halloween is nothing to lose your head over. ((Boo-ooh-aaaah-aaaah))

October 30, 2011

Whatcha Doin'?

SDP  10-30-11
Seeing this happy, inquisitive face at the gas station made filling up a little less mundane. What a cute fuzzy mug. Looks like he's livin' the good life!

October 29, 2011

Modelin' in Downtown

I'm used to seeing some interesting vehicles around downtown Sarasota. For example, earlier in the day, I saw a Rolls Royce cruisin' around the City Hall parking lot and a Ferrari zippin' down Second Street. But, it was this little old Ford parked along Main Street, pretty as you please, which grabbed my attention. Someone on Flickr speculated it's a 1928 or '29 Model A.  Very cool.
This tote bag was hanging inside, with little American flags that were so faded and weathered they could have been vintage with the car. I love it! Definitely something out of the norm here.  By the way, for the record, I also encounter a lot of Smart cars, buses and scooters downtown.

October 28, 2011

Majestic From Afar

SDP 10-28-11b
At first glance, there really isn't much to see here. Or is there???? See the dark blob sitting atop the pole to the right...???  (Lean in close to your screen.)  And there's an even teensier blob on the pole to the left.  With my long lens and ISO bumped up to 1600 at dusk, I was able to capture this guy....
SDP  10-28-11
...a bald eagle!  Two nights ago, I was stunned to see two eagles sitting side by side atop a cell tower next to Fruitville Road, a bustling roadway.  I was thrilled when I returned last night and found them again --- albeit very far away.   As I was contemplating hopping a cattle fence to get a closer view, a rancher pulled up in a truck and gave me what can only be described as a grim stink eye.  Even when I pointed to my camera and excitedly declared 'Shooting the bald eagle!' he gave me one last look before leaving without a word.  I got the hint...and stayed put.  Anyway, I'm very, very excited about the two eagles living so close to an urban area.  And, I can't wait to watch them and capture even better pics.