Welcome to my "Florida" blog

Being a third generation Florida native, I'm completely enamored with the diverse beauty of this gorgeous peninsula. For most of the year the weather is divine which makes exploring its unlimited nooks and crannies fun and easy.

Wherever I go I appreciate nature and the world around me. Come along with me as I share the places I visit and perhaps a few other amusements I find interesting along the way.

(FYI: Every post prior to January 1, 2009 was previously published and imported from my garden blog)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shorebirds, Herons,Terns, and Allies

You might remember the last time we went to the beach. It was several weeks ago. My how time flies. Too much going on to get this post up before now. All these photos are from that trip.

Long walks on the beach allows for some great photo opportunities with the birds that gather together. It is a delight to watch them forage for food and play along the shoreline.

I hope you like birds as much as I do. They are fascinating creatures. My I.D.'s are not always correct so if you notice any of mine that are wrong please, please let me know. It's always fun to learn and I'd hate to mislead the innocent. :-)

Black Skimmer

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where Am I? Revealed: Tarpon Springs

It is one of our favorite things to do any time of the year. We hop in the car late on any given afternoon and drive over to a place that is like being transported to another world... and it's only 30 minutes away.
Admittedly, it isn't the sponges we are off to enjoy in Tarpon Springs. But, that said, there's something about just knowing we are right in the midst of the little city considered the sponge capital (I believe there's a spelling error on that sign??) of the world.

So unique it is in so many ways. The main hub of activity makes one feel a bit like you're stepping into a miniature slice of Greece. I say that for several reasons. The Greeks have an amazing respect for the elder members of their families. Even to an outside onlooker that sense of honor and respect pervades the Greek locals milling about there. Speaking of the locals... the Greek folks sitting around in the restaurants and at the outdoor tables and on the park benches still mostly speak their native language.

It could also be the live Greek music drifting out of some of the pubs and eateries. It is definitely the feeling one gets from the O-pah's and hand clapping that can be heard above laughter and singing.

Our favorite seafood restaurant there is at the end of the main street where we can sit outside overlooking the water. We go to Tarpon Springs to EAT... at least that's what we do there first!

It's also very pleasant, on a beautiful Florida evening as the sun is beginning to drop, to take a stroll through the quiet streets and peek into some of the shops. I'm not too tempted to "shop" but it is an experience all its own just to walk down the sidewalks and take in the ambience of this quaint little town.

The bakeries are full of fresh homemade Greek goodies. With individually owned bakeries at a minimum these days it is like an old timey experience to stand in line, pick out the sweets you want from glass encased trays of calorie packed desserts. Can anyone say authentic baklava!

On our most recent jaunt to Tarpon we were joined by our youngest son and his wife. The breeze off the bay was perfect that night. With coffee in hand we all sat on the park benches that line the water. We relaxed and chatted breathing in the goodness of the salty air, taking in the sights and sounds of boating life until the beautiful sunset was gone from the horizon. A great time and a great memory.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Where Am I?

Okay... pretty sure a certain someone is going to jump right on this one.
For all you Florida enthusiast and even those who have an occasional interest in my beautiful state... here's how this works:
I thought it might be fun to occasionally post some of the random photos I've taken from my romp-abouts in Florida and then let you guess where I was when I took the photo... or where the scene is that the photo represents (whichever applies).
If you'd like to include your thoughts (experience) about the photo or the area it represents I'd love to hear about that, too.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Horse Country

It was a busy few days of family activities and Mother's day celebrations.

Over the weekend some of the family (including three generations of moms) made a little road trip north together to Ocala to meet up with some other members of the family.... some from various parts of Florida.... some from Tennessee visiting here.
One of my nieces and her husband are reining horse trainers at Reinwater Ranch there.

If you've ever been through this part of Florida you probably find yourself oooooing and ahhhhing at the visual display of rolling hills, acres and acres of horse ranches one right after the other along every long country road. Each ranch is bordered mostly by miles and miles of railed fencing that is so picturesque it is breathtaking. That is, if you like that sort of thing. Which I happened to be one of those that do.

It's been a while since I've been around horses. There were mama horses with their babies close by.

And all that beautiful, big farm equipment just makes me want to crank up an engine and get some work done.
All the children were enthralled with so many farm animals especially the pet goat, Ariel. My niece is an animal lover from birth and has managed to accumulate quite a variety of them now that she lives out in the wild blue yonder with so much land.

Ranches and horsebarns conjure up the smell of hay and leather and there's that wonderful breeze that blows through the center of the barn stalls which all bring back so many memories of motherhood past.

My youngest son grew up training, riding, and reining his own horse. For most of his childhood years we were in and out of barns, pastures, arenas, and horse shows. In his junior year of college we had to make a tough decision to sell his horse.
His passion for riding has never gone away. Someday he'll have his own horse again.

He drove down from north Florida to ride like he often does. Ocala is almost half way between us. It was great fun for me to watch my cowboy man-child ride again.

It's quite possible there is another cutie-wootie cowboy in the making.

Thank you, Esther and Brad for a very fun-filled day with lots of good food, family reunions, wild rides, puppy love, and hugs for a happy Mother's Day weekend outing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Beautiful Day

This year we celebrated Mother's Day in many ways. Several different days of being together with family was in order. But yesterday it culminated for dinner at my sweet daughter in law's and eldest son's house with all the grand youngins' present, too.
Mr. Meems knows how to please my simple heart with a drive down Bayshore Blvd. on the way home. He loves his Bayshore and for the past 30 plus years I've loved it with him.

Thank you, family, for another beautiful memory. You always remind me of the most important things in this life. I am so grateful for each one of you. Thank you for your love, your grace, your kindness, your good character, for being fantastic moms (and dads - but hey, it's not your day) all... for good food and good simple fun together... especially the family games of Sequence at the end of the day.... my teammate rocked... Yay

I've turned off the comments for this one... just enjoy the scenery.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Best Gulf Coast Beach in Florida

It's the same little beach house we've been going to with our kids since the late- 80's.
Charming and quaint... but want to know the best part of all? It is very "old Florida" style with a screened porch and creaky wooden floors. The kind of place like so many that have been leveled by developers to build high rises.

There are three other cottage houses on the property. All are under the shade of palm trees and Australian pines. Tall condominiums or mega hotels just will not suffice for us. We happen to like lots of privacy and quiet, restful accommodations and beaches. The original family still owns this property so it happens to be tucked in between a mostly residential section of the key. Residential=Quiet.

So here we go down the pathway to the most beautiful beach on the Gulf coast. It draws one beyond the shade about 100 yards to white, sugary sand and crystal clear green waters like none other. I'll give Captiva Island a close second as beautiful beaches go and then St. George Island in the panhandle my third place assessment.
Okay so there you have it and I know --that's just me. And my bold opinions are based on the peaceful kinds of activities we prefer. If you have another beach (in Florida of course) that really makes your heart swoon I'd love to hear about it.

Mr. Meems had the great idea to head south to"our" Long Boat Key for a few days. It was not an idea I was likely to shun even though it meant a quick adjustment in the regular routine. He is keen to the fact it is my absolute favorite get away haven for renewing and rejuvenating my soul.
Until the last couple of years we spent two weeks in May every year soaking up the glorious wonders of this very place. Now days, on occasion we've been known to rise before dawn, jump on the motorcycle and head down to the key for breakfast and a morning of photography and reading at this little spot of heaven. But this time we were going for several days.

Worthy Florida April days blessed us the entire time. The weather was stellar. Cool in the mornings and evenings. No humidity. Cloudless blue skies.
We had our 3 year old grandson with us. Our home is like his second home. We have an entire bedroom devoted to the grand kids. It is full of all things that belong to them for comfy days and nights at Mimi's and Papa's. They each call it "my room".
But taking this little one to another location for several days without his parents was something we weren't exactly certain how he'd handle.
I have to give him props (which I'm never ashamed to do) ---he never skipped a beat. At first mention we were going to the beach he was only excited and intrigued. He played his little heart out in the sand and surf for hours on end.
Our little guy was ecstatic with the freedom he experienced when playing in his own little river. The evening the drifting tide left shallow waters for short legs to easily romp about he entertained himself endlessly.
There is nothing like those tender, pudgy fingers grasping tightly in the safety of an adult hand for walks down the shoreline. All the while chatting away with the curiosities of a 3 year old. And then there was running through the water's edge and jumping the waves and shoveling copious amounts of dirt and feeling the coquinas wriggle through our toes and learning about the birds and baseball and Frisbee and absolute enchantment for every bit of it.

And each day we delighted in every single minute of every little bit of it until the sun went down.

And when the last of the sun's glow dropped behind the horizon we'd say goodnight to the beach and drop into bed for a solid sleep filled with worn out little boy dreams.
Oh, how we adore that child! Thank you, Mr. Meems, for a great idea and a great time.