February 28, 2013

Sticker Shock

The day after I posted last month's gas photo, the price shot up 10-cents -- in a matter of hours.  Then, it increased another 10-cents over the next couple of days.  What the heck?!  So, now we're facing $3.89.  That's up 44-cents in one month.  Any guesses what the price was one year ago?  $3.69 --- up 20-cents.   

February 27, 2013

G is for Gown

It's high season in Sarasota.  That means all of our seasonal residents are here, plus tourists, and every social event imaginable is scheduled between now and Easter, including oodles of balls and galas.  Ladies looking for something special to wear to that social event of the season may find themselves here at Foxy Lady on St. Armands Circle. 

When I first drove by this display in the evening, I thought it would be a good photo opp for the letter G.  Not having time that night, I returned later during the daytime.  Ugh --- I was so disappointed!  The windows were not conducive for shooting in the daylight.  My pictures were hazy.  So, I left.   Wouldn't you know it...when I drove by a short time later, after dark, it caught my attention again.  So, I set up my tripod and...voila!  So much better than my daytime attempt.  The lack of sunlight seemed to do the trick.  Naturally...evening shot for evening wear.   (That being said, I think she could use some accessories.)  If you'd like to see how other bloggers around the world interpreted the letter 'G', visit ABC Wednesday.

February 26, 2013

Stealthy Observer

Great Blue Herons can be quite stealthy, especially considering their size.  When I was at the New Pass Bait & Grill recently taking pictures of egrets, I turned around and was a bit startled to see this large guy standing a few feet behind me near a picnic table.  I guess he was patiently waiting for his close-up.  Here you go, Mr. GBH!

February 25, 2013

Going Vertical: 4th Floor

We're now on the fourth floor of the Palm Ave. Parking Garage as we continue our tour of 'Going Vertical', a public art program of themed murals within the garage.  The theme for this floor is...music.  I really like the funky, dazzling display of color in this one.  And, look at that puffy cheek!  It seems as though he's blasting the color right off the wall.  Check out other murals at Monday Mural.

February 24, 2013

Out With The Old

When I posted this photo in December 2011, showing Sarasota Hardware and commenting that it had been a mainstay in downtown for 77 years, who knew it would be out of business within the year?!  Yep, the owners closed up shop this past fall.  Most people suspected "the big box stores" did the family business in.  Au contraire, said the owner.  In a newspaper article he stated it was a lack of development downtown which led to the closing.  Storefronts on Main Street are rarely empty for long.  Sure enough, within a couple of months, another business moved in.  Any guesses?  It's something that's been featured on SDP before....

A Tube Dube showroom is now there.  When I visited the place during a recent Saturday, it was busy with lots of people checking out Tube Dude golfers, sailors, photographers, mailboxes and pretty much anything you can dream up.  Business must be going well for the Tube Dude to open a showroom on Main Street.

February 23, 2013

Tube Dude Pets

Tube Dude artwork has been featured many times before on SDP.  (Click the label below to see previous posts.)  In the past, I've shown the standard smiling stick figures, which are pretty common to see around Sarasota nowadays.  But, these Tube Dudes, located in front of Bee Ridge Veterinary Clinic, caught my eye and prompted me to pull over for a photo opp.  This is Tube Dude waiting for Tube Doggie to take care of business apparently before seeing the doctor.  And, for those who are more feline friendly....

...here's Tube Kitty, having a good stretch on a flagpole just feet away from Tube Doggie.  Very clever indeed. The man behind the Tube Dude creations used to build yachts here in Sarasota but reinvented himself when the economy tanked several years ago. You can read his story by clicking here.

February 22, 2013

Winter Drive

The winter sky was so beautiful last night, I just didn't mind pausing an extra minute for a red light.  I'm linking to Skywatch Friday.  TGIF!

February 21, 2013

Sign of the Times

When Blockbuster video merged with Dish Network in 2011, it was announced that 500 Blockbuster stores would close.  Well, we now know this store in Sarasota is one of those and it will close forever next month.  Everything inside is being sold.  When I say everything, I mean it.  Even the bubble gum machine had a 'sold' sticker on it. Truth be told, after 15 years of loathing Blockbuster, due to a billing error on their part (I have a good memory when it comes to bad customer service),  the company finally lured me back a couple of years ago with offers of free video rentals.  I'm not one to watch a lot of movies, so Netflix or something similar just isn't for me.  But, occassionally, I like to watch a movie at home and I don't want to upgrade my monthly cable bill for the option to download a movie on demand.   So, that more or less left Blockbuster.  Oh, well.  Now, if I want to rent a movie I suppose I'll have to use Red Box at my local grocery store, which is fine, except the selection is rather limited.  How do you watch movies at home?  

February 20, 2013

F is for Frankfurter

I found myself behind the eight ball with the letter F.   Both my ideas were only available to shoot during the week in the daytime.   So, there I was yesterday afternoon during my lunch hour scampering around downtown in my business attire searching for an F word (tut-tut...mind your thoughts -- this is a family oriented blog) when I thought, 'F is for frankfurter!' and successfully found Nick.  His hotdog stand is located in front of the post office and not only does he serve up frankfurters but also Italian sausage.  I wish I could have enjoyed one, but, alas my tender digestive system will not permit it.   A happy customer assured me, though, that these frankfurters are delicious.  And, Nick says business is doing well now that our seasonal residents are back in full force.  Thanks for the quick photo opp, Nick!  To see other interpretations for the letter F visit ABC Wednesday.

February 19, 2013

Sybil's Sea-Escape

Lots of art shows are held in Sarasota during any given year.  But, this past weekend was 'The Big One': Howard Allen's Downtown Festival of the Arts.  You can find pretty much anything art related at the show, from oil paintings to pottery to handmade scarves.  My favorite booth, though, was owned and operated by Sybil Nestor who came up with the very creative idea to take old window frames and paint ocean scenes behind them.  She calls her art sea-escape windows.  I've always liked art that incorporates the concept of looking through a window.  Add a vintage window frame, plus a beautiful palm swept view of the ocean and Sybil's work is just delightful.  You can check out Sybil's website by clicking here.

February 18, 2013

Going Vertical: 5th Floor

Let's continue our public art tour of the Palm Ave. Parking Garage in downtown Sarasota.  Today we're on the fifth floor, which has an opera theme.  The Sarasota Opera is adjacent to the garage and many folks attending the opera park there, thus the theme.  Depicting 'Madame Butterfly', this is the brightest and most colorful mural within the garage.  It was painted by two Sarasota artists: Marco Bell and Monica Spain.  Rather easy to remember where you've parked when you see a pretty mural like this, don't you think?  To see other interesting murals from around the world, visit Monday Mural.

February 17, 2013

Living Statue

I've seen a lot of statues in Sarasota, but never a living statue.  And, this one was attracting a lot of attention.

This guy was at the downtown Farmers Market yesterday performing as a statue, which occasionally would transform into a robot which would then play the guitar and sing and then transform back into a statue.  His name is Ralph and he told me with a nice North Carolina twang that this is the third time he's performed at the Sarasota Farmers Market.  He was really quite good...as still as...well, a statue...and he could make robotic whistling and whirling sounds that were right on the mark.  And, his brief singing stints were pretty good as well.  Rather entertaining.  I can't help but wonder, though, what it's like to wear all that white makeup for so many hours.

February 16, 2013

Spring Dreams

Major League pitchers and catchers reported for spring training this week.  When I was a little girl, I loved (read: LOVED) baseball.  It was always a bit of a mystery how I became a such a fan. Photography, on the other hand, was easy to pinpoint.  That comes from my mom's side of the family, skipping her.  But, back to baseball.  Spring training symbolized fresh hope as players prepared for the new season.  I was a loyal Detroit Tiger fan.  Mark Fidrych, Jason Thompson, Steve Kemp, Ron LeFlore, Aurelio Rodriguez, Rusty Staub, John Wockenfuss...those names rolled off my tongue like  they were my best friends.  While most girls were playing with Barbies, I was studying ERAs and batting averages and reading Ron LeFlore's autobiography 'One in a Million' (One of the best stocking stuffers I received as a kid).  Unfortunately, back then, the Tigers were cellar dwellers in the standings. But, every February, there was renewed hope that maybe, just maybe, this would be their season to win the pennant.  When the season got underway in April, and it was rapidly apparent this would not be the Tigers' season, I still would listen to all the ballgames on the radio.  If it was a night game, I'd tuck my little transistor radio under my pillow to catch all the action, while the rest of the house thought I was sound asleep.  The west coast games were a killer -- 10 p.m. first pitch.  I remember waking up on more than one hot summer night at 3 a.m., long after the game had concluded, wondering why muzak was emanating from my pillow, and more importantly, dying to know the score.  So, it's 35+ years later, and I live in the thick of spring training.  I really don't follow baseball anymore...but, I always attend some spring training games. There's nothing like that feeling of wiping the slate clean and knowing sweet dreams of victory on the diamond are waiting to become reality.  Play ball!

February 15, 2013

New Pass Bridge

If you head under the New Pass drawbridge to the west, you'll be on your way to the Gulf of Mexico.  New Pass, as it's cleverly called, was a new cut created by Mother Nature during a hurricane in 1848.  That's Longboat Key, where the sun is starting to sink; if you cross the bridge in the other direction, you're in Sarasota.  I snapped this from a fishing pier on City Island earlier this week.  For as many visitors as we have right now, I was surprised to have the place all to my self.  Not another soul around.

I thought some of my blogger friends enduring the cold and snow, who wished they could be in a toasty climate, could use a warm pick me up like this.  That being said, we're expecting a cold front through the weekend, so most of us who live here year round are pretty excited about the possibility of wearing sweaters for a few days. (When I say "cold" front, I mean high temps in the 60s and lows in the 40s.)  It started raining yesterday afternoon and continued through most of the  night.  Oh, boy...bring on the chill!   Hope everyone has a terrific Friday.  I'm linking to Skywatch Friday.

February 14, 2013

Eagles & Elephants

Time for an update on Ozzie and Harriet, the bald eagles nesting in North Ft. Myers. I visited the nest last Saturday and was pleased to see Honor (the first born) sitting up and looking inquisitive while papa Ozzie stood guard. Honor is just 1.5 months old and is nearly the size of his/her parents. Remarkable. I was told by other photogs on scene that Harriet had been away from the nest for hours and she was expected back any time. After well over an hour, Ozzie grew weary of waiting...

 ...and noiselessly took off for a nearby pond. The pursuit was on! Quiety, I walked as quickly as my feet would carry me, and another photog stealthily joined me. Ozzie was sitting at the edge of the pond resting, preparing to enjoy a drink or perhaps take a bath. But, we'll never know because after I snapped just a couple of photos, another photographer ran up making so much racket she could have been mistaken for a herd of elephants...and Ozzie flew away. (Nature Photography Etiquette 101: Do not scare the wildlife.)

He went to one of his favorite perches: A tree 35-40 yards away from the nest. There, he basked in the late afternoon sun, no doubt wondering when his other half would return.

When Harriet arrived, it was at sunset and without fanfare. She quietly flapped her way into the nest with most of us noticing just as she landed.  So, the pack of photogs packed up their gear and left.  But, I had a feeling I would miss something if I left, and I always go with my gut.  So, I stayed for another 10-15 minutes...the only photographer set up.  And, that's when I saw Harriet move something large and dark.  She had delivered something to the nest!  A shirt? (Well, it could be a shirt, I thought, since a plastic bag was in the nest recently.)  No...it was a mystery dinner!  Turns out those watching the live webcam lit up Facebook trying to identify the mystery meat.   It's difficult to discern through this photo, but I'm fairly certain it was a river otter.  Those eagles sure do have a diverse if not disgusting menu. 

February 13, 2013

E is for Egret

Although birds of a feather, these egrets did not want to flock together last night at Sarasota Bay.   They silently strutted by, giving each another the cold shoulder.  This picture begs for a clever 'Far Side'-type caption.   How about:   'Esther stifled her annoyance.  She couldn't believe Edna dressed like her again.'      What caption would you suggest?

I'm linking to ABC Wednesday.  To see other takes on the letter E click here.

February 12, 2013

Pine Level Cemetery

Isn't it interesting how you can drive by a place many times before you 'suddenly' discover it?  That's what happened to me with this cemetery.  It's called Pine Level Campgrounds Cemetery and a roadside marker indicates that it was established before 1850.  It's located off the beaten path near the town of Arcadia, just southeast of Sarasota.   Having never heard of Pine Level, I did a little bit of research and discovered it's an honest to goodness ghost town.  In the 1860s, Pine Level became the county seat for Manatee County.  Then, it became the very first county seat for DeSoto County when Manatee County was divided.  But, shortly after the town was declared the county seat for Manatee, the railroad was built and bypassed Pine Level.  And that spelled the beginning of the end for Pine Level.  After just 18 months, the county seat was moved to Arcadia where it remains today.  I'm linking to the latest Taphophile Tragics blog.  (Thanks, Jack at Hartford Daily Photo, for letting me know about it.)  Click here to see more interesting cemetery scenes.

February 11, 2013

Going Vertical: 2nd Floor

There were mixed reviews on the murals I shared last week from the Palm Ave. Parking Garage in downtown Sarasota.  Most people liked the concept of artwork in the garage, especially to help locate their car, but didn't care so much for the particular murals showcased.  So, this week we're moving to the second floor, also known as the dance floor.  This ballerina is my favorite mural in the garage.  It was inspired by the Sarasota Ballet and transformed a dull, grey concrete wall into something quite interesting and appealing.  It's also a bit of a trompe l'oeil.  It looks like you're looking down on the ballerina on the floor, when fact this is what you see when you're climbing up the stairs.   The mural is actually on the side of a wall, it's not on the floor.  I also really like the illusion that the ballerina is casting a shadow.  Pretty cool perspective.  To see other Monday Mural submissions click here.

February 10, 2013

The Race

They may have thought they were walking fast at Red Bug Slough, but those behind them were flying.

February 9, 2013


Some bloggers in the CDP world have talked about how a mistake ended up becoming a photo they liked enough to post.  I wouldn't categorize this shot as a mistake as much as an experiment which came out oddly interesting.  Recently, when I was visiting Myakka State Park, I saw the location where a group of wild boar crossed the road from the woods into marshland.  So, the next time I was there I returned to that same location after dark, set up my tripod and put my camera on the 'bulb' setting.  Then, I patiently waited fully expecting the piggies to trundle across the road right in front of my camera and... *click*...it would be a fabulous photo.  Well, my patience quickly transitioned into annoyance as I swatted at mosquitoes and transitioned further into mild boredom.  To occupy the time, I tested my shot by randomly pointing the camera down the road.  It was completely dark with no lights on the park road whatsoever, so I really couldn't see what I was focused on.  Then, I pressed the shutter.  *ta-dah!*  Pretty cool.  The winding road gives it a mysterious feel while the dangling Spanish moss adds a creepy element.  (Although, not a wild boar in sight.)

By the way, for those who expressed concern about the safety of the SDP staff as we attempt to photograph the wild pigs -- thanks!  I have a tremendous respect for nature.  Having survived a riot, two near-death scuba diving adventures, a bloody tangle with a 100 pound pitbull that was attacking my Mulligan, a battle with breast cancer and 20 years in the news business...I'm ready to take on the park piggies at a prudent distance.  Oink!

February 8, 2013

Sushi Flight

Spending time at the eagle nest in North Ft. Myers, I've learned you constantly have to look up and around for Ozzie and Harriet.  When they arrive on the scene, it's usually out of the clear blue sky and with little or no warning.  That was the case in this photo.  I just happened to look in the right direction as Ozzie appeared nest-bound.  If you look closely, you can see the fresh catch of the day dangling from his talons.   It must have been a sizeable fish to see it that well from such a distance.  What a sight!  I'm linking to Skywatch Friday.  To see other submissions click here.  Happy Friday everyone!

February 7, 2013

Preoccupied Piggies

Well, the SDP Editor in Chief has issued an edict to the entire staff.  When visiting Myakka State Park we are to do everything within our photographic powers to capture a picture of a wild boar clearly showing a snout.  I watched this family at a distance for quite awhile (as an owl hooted and a red shouldered hawk cawed nearby -- what ambiance!), but to my dismay the boars wouldn't look up. They were preoccupied snarfing dinner.  They kept their heads very low, grazing away, never lifting their snouts. No matter how much I willed them under my breath, it didn't happen. I shall take this wild boar assignment seriously.  Be prepared to see snouts.  One of these days.  On the bright side, it's very cool to see wild boar wandering around the park oblivious to humans.

February 6, 2013

D is for Deer at Dusk

Those who follow SDP regularly know how much I enjoy visiting Myakka State Park in Sarasota, especially at dusk. The wildlife here really likes to come out and put on a show in the early evening, from wild boar to birds of prey to deer.  When I spotted this deer standing alone near the river getting a drink, the scene seemed almost too perfect. Serenity at dusk.  To see other submissions for the letter D visit ABC Wednesday.

In other news, I heard from Lexi the goldendoodle's human yesterday.  Good news -- Lexie got her stitches out already.   Apparently, neither the stitches nor the cone slowed her down.  Way to go, Lexie!  They're already planning their next trip to Sarasota with lots of beach romping and rock chasing for Lexie.

February 5, 2013

Circus Sarasota

I know...I can just imagine what you're thinking!  This is just part of living in a circus town.  Our hometown hero Nik Wallenda did such a great job promoting Circus Sarasota last week, I ended up attending the evening performance this past Saturday.  Since I had never been to Circus Sarasota before, I wasn't really sure what to expect, except that the show included some performers from other countries and  Nik would be on the high wire with his family.   Gosh, it was a terrific show...every entertaining.   The feats of strength, balance and concentration exhibited by a Bulgarian man named Encho Keryazov were mouth dropping.  (Imagine a svelt gymnast doing a handstand with one hand on a small stack of blocks 15 feet in the air.  Incredible.  I found a good You Tube video of him --- check it out here.)   A talented ventriloquist made me laugh harder than I have in a long time.  And, the aerial dancers were captivating.  But, the show stopper, naturally, was Nik.  He walked forward and backward on the high wire before laying down on his back on that itty bitty wire.  And the amazing feats continued until the grand finale when he and a young relative rode bicycles on the wire with a chair balanced above them -- and Nik's sister actually stood on the chair.  Unbelieveable.  You could have heard a pin drop in the big top.   (By the way, that's Nik on the right.)  All of these mind boggling yet impressive stunts, of course, were done without a net about 50 feet in the air.  Wow.  It almost makes walking over a major road to a building seem rather tame.  Check out this video to see what this year's Circus Sarasota is all about.  I highly recommend the show.

February 4, 2013

Going Vertical: 3rd Floor

You'll find these murals on the third floor of the Palm Ave. Parking Garage in downtown Sarasota.  Just over a year ago, the City Commission approved a public art project known as 'Going Vertical'. Immediately following the Chalk Festival some well known artists stayed in town to participate in the project, including a French artist simply known as MTO.   Themed murals were painted on each floor of the parking garage near the stairs and elevators.  Not only do visitors have something creative to look at, but it helps them remember where they parked their car.   This is the movie floor.  Over the next few weeks, we'll explore dance, theatre and others.  By the way, these murals by MTO haven't created any controversy, as opposed to this mural he painted on private property which ignited such a ruckus eventually it was removed.  To see other Monday Murals click here.

February 3, 2013


I decided to take a quick drive across the Ringling Bridge to Bird Key Park last week after work. It was a gorgeous evening on Sarasota Bay, but this adorable goldendoodle (golden retriever-poodle mix) was only interested in the water. More specifically, something submerged. After staring at the bay with a concerned look for a moment or two, she plunged her head...

  ...and emerged sopping wet proudly clutching this prize: a moss covered rock. She had her human trained well.   He would toss the rock just far enough into the bay to make it fun yet challenging to fetch it. (That's the golden retriever in her shining through.)  They were visiting from Atlanta and really enjoying the area. But, the story doesn't end there.  Somehow, Lexie cut her rear leg while frollicking, perhaps on a cluster of barnacles.  Although she seemed oblivious to it, the open wound was bleeding enough to cause her humans concern.  They thought it would be a good idea to have a veterinarian check it out.   I suggested a terrific 24-hour clinic on the other side of town, but naturally, couldn't remember the name of it...or the exact road it's on.  I drove off hoping they would find a good clinic and that Lexie would be okay. Well, imagine my surprise when I received an email from her human, Ken, the next day informing me that (somehow) they found the clinic I recommended -- and Lexie ended up needing four stitches.  The vet, he said, was wonderful.  How nice and considerate to email me!  Lexie is now wearing a cone temporarily.  Poor girl.  Here's to a speedy recovery, Lexie,  and a healthy future full of chasing rocks, quite possibly in Sarasota.   

February 2, 2013

Feeding Time

While visiting Ft. Myers last weekend, I stopped by to check on Ozzie and Harriet and the little ones. Gosh, they're getting big!  And, based on what I'm seeing via the live webcam, they've grown substanially just in the seven days since I took this photo. Their growth spurts are amazing. The two eaglets now have names: Hope and Honor, based on a poll conducted on Facebook.  Each time I visit the nest, there's something interesting to watch. This time I got more than a sneak peek at Hope (the slightly older and larger baby).  Just before sunset, one of the parents (I believe Ozzie) started feeding Hope.  Ever so gently, he encouraged her to open her beak, then he dropped a bit of unidentifiable food down the hatch.  At one point, he offered a bite way too big for the little one to handle. He seemed to contemplate the situation for a moment, then gently exchanged that chunk for a smaller, more manageable one.  What a captivating sight.  If the sun hadn't gone down, I would have stayed a lot longer enjoying the dinner show.

February 1, 2013

Theme Day: Umbrella

The subject for this month's theme day, for those of us in the City Daily Photo realm of the blogosphere, is 'umbrella'.   Of course, I instantly thought of rain, which led me to think 'Well...it's not the rainy season here'.  (That would have been rather pedestrian anyway.)  For those enduring a cold and snowy winter, I really wanted to brighten your spirits with a beautiful shot of a colorful beach umbrella firmly planted in the sand along Lido Beach.  But, alas, I haven't had the time to be beach bound.  So, instead, I offer this pleasant slice of life photo.  Lots of restaurants in Sarasota have outdoor seating.  Even in the "cooler" winter months here, it's nice to have a table umbrella to block the sun while you're enjoying a meal.  This is an Italian restaurant called Salute located on Lemon Ave. in downtown.  I've eaten here a couple of times and it's been quite tasty.  The Farmers Market was going on last Saturday when I snapped this photo, so it was especially busy.  To see how others interpreted 'umbrella' click here.