Friday, October 29, 2010

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." John Muir

The good news is my vacation is coming up and I am heading to Sanibel to go shelling.  The bad news is....the conch kill just across the harbor on Bonita Beach. There are 1,000's of fighting conchs washed up on the shoreline. There is alot of speculation as to what has caused it.  Some say an algae bloom, others say the oil spill is the culprit.  There is a rumour that all the political commercials on tv caused an overload of radio waves to attack them & send them fleeing for their lives.. ( Believe it or not I just jumped up to answer the phone for yet another recorded plea for my vote)

 Whatever the cause - it sucks. A blogger friend from Sanibel Island Pam from has some daunting pictures on her blog from a shelling blogger friend that lives close to Bonita Beach and saw the conch kill firsthand. My Englewood paper is reporting conchs washing up on Boca Grande which is just north of Sanibel. So, I'm going to keep a close eye on things. I'm not worried about my vacation - we'll roll with it.   It just breaks your heart to see such a loss of animal life of any kind. I have an idea.  Why don't all the politicians take a break from the phones & the media and head out to Bonita Beach. The one that cleans up the most conchs wins the election.

One sad stinky mess

Monday, October 25, 2010

Roses are Red - Violets are the Shell Shop

Going shelling is so much fun but if you don't like getting sandy & wet beach combing it is probably not for you. But guess what, I hit the beach today and didn't even have to put on sunscreen. There are lots of beach shops along the Gulf coast of Florida.  Most sell imported seashells, cheap manufactured souvenirs, and mass-produced t-shirts. For almost 50 years The Shell Shop in Englewood, Florida has been selling local sea shells, hand-made shell art, & sharks teeth. 
The Shell Shop located at 10 Crestview Dr & 776 in Englewood, Florida. 
I moved to Englewood 2 years ago. The more I meet people around town the more I started to realize that everyone in Englewood  is either related to, went to high school with, or is the ex- of someone I know.  Take the Shell Shop for instance. The business shares half the building with a cousin who runs his family's barbershop. That cousin & his wife are friends of mine. I met them at church. His cousin Brandi Woffard runs the Shell Shop. Her great grandma is Violet who founded the Shell Shop in 1965. Her grandma is Violet Betty. Her mother is Violet April. Brandi is ...well Brandi but her sister is Violet Betty Eve. The 5th generation is Gabrielle Violet Michelle who is Brandi's 12 yo niece.
Brandi was so nice to this lady who was on vacation from New Mexico. Brandi told her the history of the shop and shared a few sweet spots with her to go shelling.

The Family Wall
Shell Shop founder Betty Shook
Every Englewood old timer has a sharks tooth story.  It usually starts with something like "Well I'll tell you what.  I remember when the sharks teeth were so thick on the beach you didn't even have to bend over. They just jumped into your bucket." I have personally seen a 5 gallon water container at a home in Venice (the town next door) full of sharks teeth from back in the day.  There are still plenty of sharks teeth out there for the taking you just have to put a little more effort into it. Brandi told me that her grandma Betty picked up almost all the teeth they sell in the shop. 

All local sharks teeth found on Englewood beaches
Betty bought this huge Megladon from a diver.  It can be yours for $500
Lots of local gulfcoast seashells
There is always something to make out of a sea shells
Need an idea for Christmas?

Betty has authored many shell craft books - all for purchase at the shop. The shop sells other local authors as well.
They have a nice selection of fossils
Large not so perfect sharks teeth
The American spirit is alive & well in Englewood - Baseball, apple pie, & sharks teeth
Top shelf has some gorgeous horse conchs
Nice idea
This went home with me.  Brandi bought it at a garage sale and tweaked it with some shell art of her own.  I love it.

Brandi also shared with me how her grandmother Betty would take her to the beach as a kid. They would go just to pick up litter & trash. Her grandma gave her a stick with a nail on the end and away they would go on their own coastal clean-up day.

 I have fallen in love with my new hometown. I am thankful for the families like Brandi's that over the years have taken care of their little pin on the map & given each generation a love for the planet and the treasures that wash up on it's beaches. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. -John Muir

Sssshhhh....Don't tell my hubby but I have a huge crush on another guy.

He's a hottie in that Grizzley Adams/ZZtop-kinda way

The niece CaseyCakes introduced us to free NetFlix. Our family loves documentaries about history, biographies, & anything by National Geographic. We are all big-time armchair travelers.  Netflix has these in abundance for free. If it's for free - it's for me. While watching a documentary on Yosemite Park I was introduced to John Muir (1838 - 1914)

I have heard his name before but never really paid any attention to who he was. As they read quotes from John's writings - his journaling really, as he wandered through the wilderness of Yosemite, I really felt a kindred spirit with this guy. I've always been drawn to people who walk  off the beaten path. My hobby is studying early church history - my favorites being the early desert fathers/mothers. Jon Muir had eyes to see more than majestic  scenery. His eyes saw the Creator in all of creation from the smallest wild flower to the tallest Sequoias.
He described himself as a "poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc." 

John Muir's family were Scottish immigrants who settled in Wisconsin when he was 11. His father was legalistically religious and forced his son to memorize almost the entire Bible. John spent his childhood either looking for bird's nests or fighting on the playground. He was a restless spirit. 

While at college in Canada he spent much of his time wandering the swamps around Lake Huron studying plants and trees. He made his way down to Indiana where he worked as an industrial engineer. It was there that in the style of Forrest Gump he took off on a 1,000 mile walk south to Florida. 
He had no specific route except to go by "the wildest, leafiest, and least trodden way I can find. "He made it to Florida where in Cedar Key he contracted Malaria and had to stop.  Upon recovering he decided to sail to California and ended up in the port of San Francisco. It was from there he ended up at Yosemite to explore the wilderness for the next 30 years.
One of his sketches

Quotes from John Muir -

"Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. "

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn."

"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. "

If I ever get asked that question "If you could have dinner with any famous person living or dead who would it be?"  No hesitation, dinner for 2 - me & John Muir.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm just saying...

The only rule is don't be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.
Paris Hilton
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Would you smell this for me?

This was the -.01 low tide on Englewood Beach today about 10am
EEWWWW! What. Is. That. Smell? That is the most common reaction to low tide.  Your average beach-goer probably could care less if the tide is in or out when they head to the beach.  Most folks just want to know is it going to rain? (Hello - It's Florida.  It probably will)

 I have always loved low tide. I even love the smell. (Just so we are on the same page - I am talking about low tide not red tide.)  To me that first whiff of salty, muddy, sea-weedy air brings back memories of going cast-netting with my Dad & brothers on Dunedin Causeway. Low tide smells like my PawPaw who was a bridge tender on Clearwater Pass in the 60's & 70's.
 Whenever I would return home from a road trip, I knew I was getting close as that salty smell blew through the car as I would cross over Tampa bay on the causeway. 
My Grandpa was the bridge tender on the  old Sand Key Bridge on Clearwater Beach.  

Some women read gardening  or fashion magazines - I read tide charts.  It's the first thing I look at when I read the paper.  I even have a tide chart app on my iPod.  Couple that low tide with a full or new moon and BAM! Emeril! - we just took it up a notch. 

What a sheller lives for are those -minus tides. Today was a -.01 which is good but I hit a -.05 back in August that was a shelling bonanza.  It was a new moon also and an entire little cove was uncovered for my nieces and I to pick through.
Tide so low Casey could walk across the inlet but watch out for Rays.  She stepped on 2 that day but thankfully no stings.

This is a -.05 low tide with a new moon - only about 12 lows a year like this.
Everyone has their shelling strategies.  For me, I like an early morning low tide. I like to get out there early before the crowds show up. In a couple of weeks I'm heading to Sanibel for a night shelling trip.  There are a few really low tides at 4am & 5am. You are probably thinking "That's crazy talk, it's going to be dark".  I know! that's why I have a head lamp, LED Q-Beam, & a tri-pod LED flashlight. (I hope you are smiling) Hey, some people base jump, other people drive fast cars - My bff Shellbelle & I go extreme shelling. So, the next time you get a whiff of low tide let it lead you to some awesome beach combing.

                                                          JAR UPDATE
My jar is almost 1/2 full
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

“I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights. "Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories"” - Dr. Suess

We see plenty of these

What a gorgeous day today.  I got the grocery shopping done & made a pot of spagetti sauce. It was only 4pm so I drove out to Blind Pass Beach for a few hours of shark's tooth hunting.  My intention was to make a video of how I have been finding so many teeth on the high surf line in the shell crush.

 There were several other ST hunters with their shell shovels looking in the water.  The tide was going out and it was very windy so I plopped down on my pile of shell crush and proceeded to shoot my little movie.

  All the sudden this woman is yelling she found a baby turtle.  She had spotted him heading for the water when a seagull tried to nab him.  Let me say right now seagulls are now my least favorite bird. That being said I grabbed my camera and ran over to where she was watching one  baby turtle.  Well, his brothers & sisters were marching right behind him to the water.  There were little baby turtles everywhere. 

What determination these little dudes have.  The nest was at least 40 yards from the water and these guys were just plowing forward. We did help a few that were getting off course because of those awful varmit seagulls. I have seen plenty of nests but never seen one hatch. AMAZING!

What a determined little guy

They are climbing out a tiny hole and over the grass.  See all the little turtle tracks.

Heading for home.
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I finally put my camera down to just experience the moment.  So this is what I have to share with you. The video quality is shaky due to me running off those blasted seagulls.  The audio is fuzzy because of the wind. I wish that you all would be able to one day see this like I did .  It was amazing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Green (Pea) With Junonia Envy

North Jetty Park in Nokomis,Florida or as the locals say "no shirt, no shoes, No komis" - hey it's a fishing village

Some things never change.  I have never been an early riser. I can do it but it is physically and mentally painful. I am definitely not a morning person. I'm not crabby just not really conscious.  I call it "climbing out of the cellar". As a kid my mom would have to drag me out of bed for school.  Now, if we were going somewhere good...... like Disney World.... I wouldn't even need an alarm clock. I'd be up, dressed, & sitting in the car ready to hit the road.

 My work schedule rotates my days off.  Every once in a while I have to work 9 days straight.  The good news is - you have the week end off! The bad news is - your schedules bump together and you won't have a day off for 9 days. So, as I left work last night at 10:30pm and squealed out of the parking lot, I had every intention of going home and getting some much needed rest. I can sleep in as late as I want tomorrow, Yay!

I tried. After staring at the ceiling for  an hour with sleep eluding me,  I reached over in the dark and grabbed my iPod touch. Laying in bed I checked my email- caught up on my favorite blogs - looked at Facebook - checked my tide chart app......whoa Nellie! hold on. Low tide @ 6am.  My favorite. The sun is not up yet so no one has really walked the beach and snagged all the goodies. 

 After seeing this green pea sheller on the i Love Shelling blog that found a Junonia at Blind Pass on Captiva, I was hankering for some shelling action.  We have a jetty in my neck of the woods similar to the jetty on Captiva except the North Jetty in Nokomis is a fishing jetty and much longer but it faces the same way. There is usually a big shell pile this time of the year at low tide. 

So I set my alarm for 6am. When it went off I jumped out of bed, got myself ready, and was out the door by 6:15am.  A large Dunkin Donuts Coffee and coffee cake muffin later I was at the jetty. 
Sunrise at the North Jetty in Nokomis, Florida

 I took a scouting walk first before I carried all my stuff out. I didn't want to load myself down like a pack mule if there was nothing going on.  As soon as I walked out and spotted that huge shell pile I turned on my heels and skedaddled back to my truck. I grabbed my big bucket, shell shovel, and my garden digging tool.
Big honkin shell pile

Another month and this pile will be loaded with goodies
The temperature was actually kind of cool on the beach. There were several  people fishing but the shell pile was all mine.  The combination of sunrise beauty, huge shell pile, sugar, & coffee actually had me quite euphoric. I was actually kind of dizzy as I starting digging through the pile. 

 No junonia for me today but in the light of the early morning sun I was actually sending Green Pea good thoughts and wishing him yet another great day of shelling on Sanibel.
The tide was rushing in quick about 9am
Going, going, almost gone till the next low tide
Nice orange scallops for GeeGee's crafts
Calico Clams were the shell du jour
The tulips are broken but a sign of what is yet to come in winter
Nice pieces of coral
Just need the perfect jar

Monday, October 4, 2010

Life Is Just A Chair Of Bowlies

Awww, Mary Engelbreit has been sick.  I have admired her work for over 20 years. I recently started following her blog.  Mary is currently writing from her home where she is resting & recovering from a "weird form of pneumonia". Sending blessings your way Mary - get well soon.

Funny, how we are each drawn to different types of art or collectibles. Anything ME has been a passion of mine that has never waned since buying my first little card of hers years ago.  The quotes she chooses are always inspiring, her illustrations touch my soul, & her decorating style makes you want to snuggle down and never leave home.

The 1st print that captured me as a collector
I have picked up most of my ME collection from garage sales & thrift stores.  They mean even more to me when I can get them at a bargain. I had one wall in my house that I had left blank. I just didn't want to hang any ole picture there just to fill the space.  I wanted something special.
An anniversary present from the Hubbs

 Meet my little sea shelling girlie. I love her vintage swim cap and the way her little tummy pooches out as she is dumping out her bucket that is filled with Florida shells.  Mary had a vacation home on the beach just north of me. By her choice of the shells from the bucket I can tell she did a lot of beachcombing.  Notice the shell in the sand is a Junonia. It actually cost me more to frame it than the lithograph cost me including shipping. 
My "All Mary All the Time" shelf 

I have a ME shelf for all my books. Her Xmas book is the centerpiece of my holiday vignette. I get a new ME calender for Christmas every year. I give each woman in my family a ME recipe box for a wedding shower present. If my friends get a ME card they pretty much know it's from me.
I have almost every edition of Home Companion Magazine
Her expression says it all
This week I will be heading up to my storage closet to pull out all my holiday stuff and I can guarantee most of it will be ME. So, Thank you kindly  Mary for all the inspiration you have provided over the years. Every time I am shelling on Casey Key I will keep a look out for you.