Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011 - Making the planet a better place one shell at a time

You might be a shelling addict if....

You tricked-out your Lexus with a big Junonia on top

You modified the earbuds to your iPhone

This is your dream house
This outfit is hanging in the same closet as your Lily Pulitzer's
You spent your money on a tattoo instead of a pedicure
This is in your bathroom
You bring the beach home with you

This is the shirt you wore to your anger management class

You will only cook with shell macaroni

This was your Christmas present.....wait, that was my Christmas present

You hang around lots of nice people who love shelling as much as you do!

Monday, December 27, 2010

“May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door.” - an Irish Blessing

Remember the movie "Grumpy Old Men" where they go ice fishing?  Watching those old guys trudge out on the frozen lake to a little shack to go fishing makes you want to  start shivering.  What kind of nutcase goes fishing in zero degree temperatures? The same kinda of nutcase  enthusiastic person pursuing their passion of shelling that dones mittens, a hooded sweatshirt, winter windbreaker jacket, scarf wrapped around the neck to keep the  hood from filling with 20 degree wind & blowing back and heads out into the night with a flashlight to see what the NW winds blew up on the beach from the  late night low tide.

 It is really cold for SW Florida but I'm not complaining. I don't have to dig my car out before I drive it. Heck, I had to cover up a few plants is all. I haven't even run the heat yet. I love this NW wind that is blowing up shell pile after shell pile on the beaches from Casey Key to the north all the way south to to Stump Pass. The cold weather keeps the beach traffic to a minimum and I get those lovely shell piles almost all to myself. Every so often I'll pass another bundled up sheller on the beach.  We smile the smile only shared by people that don't think it's odd to set their alarm clocks before the sun rises to head to the beach in the freezing cold. It's a minus 0.9 low tide for goodness sakes. I have to fight off the temptation call in sick to work. (Can I speak to the manager on duty....cough cough...this is Karen cough cough....I'm not feeling so good...I'm a little under the weather....  the NW windy, low tide shelling weather)

The video was taken with my iPhone. The wind was blowing sand into my eyes and I had to watch the waves  washing up because I was on my lunch hour and did not want wet shoes.

Beach comber's love the winter winds and here's why
Perfect Whelk
More Lion's Paw chunks to the right
Half of a flat scallop to the left
It just needs a hood & pockets for shells

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's a Shore Thing

The dredging at Stump Pass starts up again on January 4

Word spreads fast among the beach combing community whenever there is any dredging going on. Some of the best sharks tooth hunting & shelling happen where you have a pass between two islands.  Due to wind, tides, & shifting sand these passes tend to close up from time to time. Stump Pass is the southern most tip of Manasota Key. It has become very tricky for boaters to navigate especially at low tide due to the sand bar that has built up over the last few years.

 When a pass closes up it causes lots of environmental changes - some not so good. It can cause the quality of the water to plummet. So the contract has been approved & 3.76 million later the dredging of Stump Pass has begun. They take huge pipes and suck up the sand & shells that have clogged up the pass and spit it out on the beach through big pipes to renourish it. You can only imagine the treasures that big dredge can deposit on the beach. My friend & I took the 1.3 mile walk up the beach to see what was going on. Lots of other folks had the same idea but what a good way to walk off that Christmas dinner.
There is not much beach area to walk on 
The renourishment adds more beautiful beach   (for future tides & winds to wash away)
Lots of sharks teeth washing up from the dredging
The project includes dredging of approximately 332,400 cubic yards of sand and shell from Stump Pass. 
The pass with Knight's Island on the other side
Shell layers from an eroding sand dune
The path back
Park Ranger Bob found his sharks tooth on Stump Pass 7 years ago.  He had a local  jeweler wrap it with the gold wire so he could wear it & proudly show off his find.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

If you have been following my blog for any length of time  you know that besides showing you my adventures at the local beaches, awesome shells and sharks teeth - I also from time to time  share the escapades of my family. After my father passed 10 years ago we invited my mother to sell her huge house & move in with us. My mom or GeeGee as she is called by her grandchildren downsized her life and moved from the town she grew up in, married in, raised her children in & buried her husband of 40 years in and moved 100 miles south to live with us.

 We have a great time living  together and have learned to enjoy our new-style nuclear family which also includes 24 yo niece Pookie. GeeGee had not been feeling well for some time.  After some tests and a heart catheterization they took her immediately to the hospital for emergency open-heart surgery. So 5 bypasses, a new aortic valve and 2 years later she is doing pretty well. But now there are the "every 6 month check-up's" with her cardiologist.

 Eating healthy around our house is a challenge. Because of various work schedules & activities meal times can be catch-as-catch-can.  Pookie is a self-styled -organic eater who still indulges in Checker burgers. Hubby eats mainly Breyer's Butter Pecan ice cream, chicken noodle soup, & shredded wheat. With my crazy work schedule I eat whatever is left in the fridge or oatmeal. GeeGee tries to eat healthy for her heart but still uses Paula Deen as her cooking inspiration. GeeGee's last doctor's visit sent her into something of a tail spin - She must lose 30 pounds or else. Oh good Lord and it's the holidays. Her traditional Christmas  treats of homemade Chex mix, Rum Cake, & other southern butter-based specialities are on the banned list. No Lindor truffles - no egg nog - no butter. Her holiday spirit has gone on a diet. I found this little ditty that has some how brought a little smile back to her face & recovered a little Christmas joy.

Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy . Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6 Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

So, the plan is: Enjoy the Holidays because January is bringing new eating habits for the entire family, aquatic exercise for GeeGee, & hopefully lower weight & cholesterol levels for all of us. But most of all -don't lose your sense of humor - keep laughing - keep your Christmas joy level up. Like the ultimate wise man King Solomon says "A merry heart does good like a medicine"(Proverbs 17:22)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of the car window" - from a bumpersticker

I really don't know what all the fuss is about. Word leaked out at my work that I motor down to Venice Beach and spend my lunch hour shelling. It's possible my wet shoes & trail of beach sand by my work locker gave me away too. The jokes & snickering from my co-workers is getting a little annoying. Funny, most of these people would go to a Bucc's football game and sit in the rain or cold and not give it a second thought. But the idea of hitting the beach in 40 degree temperatures to look for seashells - well the point eludes them.

 I just love shelling. I love everything about it.   When the NW winds, low tides, & moon phase all co-operate it can be magic on the beach. I'll go shelling night or day - hot or cold if all those factors line up. Come on - I'm the person who shelled Blind Pass on Sanibel during Tropical Depression #5 this summer for crying out loud. 

So lunch time on the beach again today but a little farther south. Becky of Beachsnaps was out on Venice Beach today too. She agrees it was a tad chilly. About 25 yards south of Sharky's Restaurant on Venice Beach the tides brought  in a huge line of shells.  I even went back after work for some more shell time & stayed after the sun went down with my trusty 230 lumens LED flashlight. It seems there are some other passionate shellers burning the midnight oil out there.Clark & Pam from I Love Shelling went night shelling on the newly formed sand bar at Redfish Pass on Sanibel last night. 

The goodies are still rolling in

More pieces of lion's paw - I feel a mermaid mosiac coming on
Angel Wings - they will look even prettier when I clean them up with a little bleach

Yes...another piece to the Junonia puzzle

I once read on a bumpersticker "Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of the car window". Well, that dog probably understands why we shell.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now quiet! They're about to announce the lottery numbers." - Homer Simpson

I hate it when work interrupts my beach combing. It seriously hurts me to miss a good low tide or to hear about the shells rolling up on the new Redfish Pass sand bar and dang it...I have to go make a living. But I have my ways to circumvent the circumstances. It requires timing, mental toughness, & a St. Arbuck's Caramel Brulee Latte.

 As I lay in bed Sunday night listening to the wind howl all I could think about was -It's blowing NW. I'm checking my tide app and it is looking good for an early low tide. I was due to work at 8am...ratz! Not enough time to hit the beach before work. My work is 2 miles from Venice Beach - just over a bridge really - sooooo..... I skip eating lunch &  skeedaddle out to Venice Beach to take a peek at what the winds blew in.

Venice Beach Monday afternoon
A line of shells streched about 100 yards
See the Lion's Paw up front - it's my first
So many nice tulips
Scotch Bonnet, Lion's Paw, & ABC Cone
I love Horse Conch's
Lordy, it was cold. I had on a hooded sweatshirt over my nice dress shirt. Then I had my lined winter coat over that. I had to tie a scarf around my neck to keep my hood from filling with wind and blowing back. It was so cold my eyes were stinging - my nose was running but no pain no gain.  I didn't even bring a bucket because I was just going out to take a look.  I wasn't planning on filling every pocket in my coat & sweatshirt  with shells and coral.  I know it sounds crazy - no lunch - freezing cold - go back to work smelling like the beach with wet shoes. Some how, it just make perfect sense to me. 

More Junonia pieces

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Art strives to express; craft strives for excellence. Good art has good craft, good craft is artistic. Within every craft there exists artists. Within every artist there is craft." -Ralph Reichenbach & Doug Madill

A girl's gotta get her holiday bling going on

How are your holidays going so far?
 With 12 shopping/baking/wrapping/decorating days left till Christmas most people especially women are starting to feel the crunch. Most of us don't have time in our schedule to fit one more party or shopping outing into our calender. I Know! That's why I am going to take you on a virtual road trip. Even though this is sunny Florida grab your coat & scarf because it is in the low 40's with wind & fog. We are going to the Placida Saturday Arts & Crafts Market located off of Gasparilla Rd (CR 771) just a tad south of the entrance to Boca Grande Causeway. 
The market is located at the Historic Fishing Village of Placida. This is an array of little houses relocated from the local area and nestled right on the edge of Gasparilla Sound creating a wonderful place to experience old Southwest  Florida.  The village is the home of Margaret Albritton Gallery & The Fishery Restaurant. Margaret's gallery  is the ultimate art eye candy  for tropical beachy original art, crafts,  & home decor.

 The Art Market happens in the common area outside of the gallery. They have created an opportunity for any artist & craftsman to come and display their work at no entry fee. That is for free. Come on! And for the public who attend there is no parking fee & no admission fee. I always say "If it's foe free - it's foe me!" So are you ready? We're here and I got a great free parking spot right up front. Let's go stroll the art market.
My niece Pookie loves any kind of outdoor market

The fog is lifting but it is still about 55 degrees and windy

At our first stop we were greeted by a very festive looking Linda Fudala-Tucker. In her best story teller broad she read us a portion of her  self-published book " 'Twas the Night of Nativity". The illustrations are by her sister Mary Fudala Stillwagon. I bought  one for my mom and the author kindly offered to sign my purchase for me. Very nice considering all our hands were frozen from the cold.
Local author and journalist Linda Fudala-Tucker
Maren Thompson of Woodsedge Pottery
Suzanne Martin of Damselfly Creations
Shirley Campbell of Shirl's Art Works
Personal Gardener Debbie Lutman
Pretty planters
Debbie picked this chair up on the side of the road  resourced this chair.
Jody & Julie of Glitter Girls on the Gulf
The Glitter girls were just charming to chat with. Jody told me she had recently found a Junonia on the beach where she lives on Palm Island. Both ladies have turned their lanai's into temporary art studios much to the chagrin of their husbands.

What a great way to add some glitz & glamour to your holiday buffet

Designer Zella Austin of Zella's Treasures
Deborah Teachout Bailey of Bailout at the Beach
The wood sculpture below was a creation of Deborah's from her college days.  When she needed a display for her jewelry she re figured her sculpture with dowels for hanging. Her necklaces are made from beautiful shell pieces found on local beaches.
Deborah's re purposed sculpture from her college days
Artist Beverly Post Ketterer sells aprons for shelling on the beach. She got the idea from seeing people using Home Depot nail aprons.
Artist-Designer Tico Williamson from Sarasota
Artist Linda Soderquist 
Lisa M Leydon and her handblown glass Natulis
Michele Cotty Loger of Cotty Designs
Kristen of Kristis Creations
The folks from G-Bone's were barbecuing pulled pork and serving up samples of their pickled swamp cabbage
G-Bone's of Fort Ogden, Florida (863)494-3332
There was so much to see. Pookie & I braved to cold for 3 hours as were cruised the outside booths. We also stopped into the on site galleries.  You must visit the Hatch Gallery. Jon Hatch has taken beachcombing to a new level . He takes the lowly piece of driftwood and transforms them into incredible creatures of the sea and air.

I apologize to the many artists that I failed to get pictures of. I am blaming the freezing cold and frozen picture snapping fingers. 
Please visit Artist Marsha Banas
Also  Photographer Ed Brickfield who had some stunning photographs.  His motto is "life is art and art is life".

The stage where they hold special events like the Placida Reading Festival & Rotary Club's Annual Seafood Festival
Fresh Fish is not that far away. Miss Cindy's located right in the village

So there is talk that this adorable little village could possibly be bought and razed for yet another condominium complex. What a stinking shame. The shop owners have barely survived a new bridge that was just completed.  Due to the construction on the road out front their traffic was cut  by 50%. The annual Placida Seafood Festival will be held here March 19 & 20 in 2011. There is alway a hub in a community wheel that friends, family, & tradition revolve around. The Historic Placida Fisherman's Village facebook site says it all -

 "Placida Fishing Village is a small very special place, reflecting a calmer & slower pace, a bit of old Florida & the way things use to be. 
Come & Enjoy the View, the Food, the Orchids, the Shops & meet the Artist!"

If you enjoyed our virtual trip I hope you will plan to visit for real. After you cruise the art market you are only 10 minutes away from the world class beaches of Boca Grande & Englewood, Florida. Hopefully, this historic treasure will be here for years to come for our kids to enjoy with their families.