Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oh, the places I've been in 2011

Oh, the places I've been in 2011.  Places in my work life. Places in my marriage, family, & friends. Places logistically. Places in my head & in my heart.

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away! "

I traveled more than I ever have reconnecting with family & old friends. 

"You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights."

2011 was a fun year for shelling.

"You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest."

With Family & Blogger Friends

i Love Shelling

Snug Harbor Bay

Capt. Brian's Observations on the Water
Shedding the Wolf

Abbey Style Home

Shellbelle's Tiki Hut

I saw sunrises on Sanibel

and Sunsets on Manasota Key.

"You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted.  But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?"

I finished a project.

Schwekie finished a project too.

"You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life's

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!"  - Dr. Seuss

What are we waiting for?  Wishing for you that 2012 will be your best year ever! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Great little One! whose all-embracing birth Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth. ~Richard Crashaw

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
(Matthew 1:23 quoting from Isaiah 7:14)

This precious Nativity was a gift from my parents.  My birthday falls shortly after Christmas and this was  the cake topper on my 16th birthday cake.  I lost a 2nd sheep to the family poodle who thought it was her chew toy.

This Nativity was the 1st one my mother acquired as an adult.  It's probably around 50 years old.

My mother purchased this lovely Nativity at a thrift store.  It is Hallmark and was NIB.  She paid a fraction of the original price.

My mother's Thomas Kinkade Nativity tree follows the Three Wise Men as the follow the star in search of the  newborn King.  There are about 40 hand-crafted characters depicting Jerusalem at the time of the birth of Jesus.  We almost lost it this year when the box it was packed in was mistakenly thrown into the dumpster. 

Glory to the newborn King! 

"I am crucified with Christ:  Nevertheless I live;  yet not I, but Christ lives in me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, & gave Himself for me."(Galatians 2:20)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together. - Garrison Keillor

My family minus me who is taking the picture of course.

As Christmas & the New Year draw near, we all get nostalgic, recalling and anticipating (or in some cases not so much) celebration of family traditions. In my family the traditions have morphed over the years due to death, divorce, & just shear survival.  We started out trying to be like a Martha Stewart version of the Walton's but ended up more like a southern version of A Christmas Story (you'll shoot your eye out).  Now in 2011 with the loss of parents & grand-parents, the addition of new spouses & babies into the family, & the logistical issues of sibling distance our Christmas has settled into new traditions. 

My mother (who lives with me now) loves Christmas & has always gone all out to make it special for me & my siblings. One change in Christmas tradition started about 25 years ago when my mom & dad became full-time pastors ministering to the kids in the migrant camps outside of Tampa.  The holidays were the busiest time of year for them.  Way back then my sister & I were waitresses who always had to work the holidays.  It seemed everyone had places to be & a harried schedule they were trying to follow to appease other family, friends, in-laws & out-laws. So to help ease the stress my hubby & I have Christmas with the family on New Year's Day.  Come on, it's a brilliant idea!  It buys me an extra week not to mention the after Christmas sales are when I purchase the lion's share of my presents. My plans for the holiday so far are:

  • Christmas Eve candlelight service with my church family.  Coming together to hear the Christmas story & take communion together keeps me centered on the reason for the season.  When we sing "Oh Holy Night" I always tear-up because that was my Dad's Christmas solo every year.
  • Christmas Eve shopping in the neighborhood drugstore to see what went 75% off that I probably don't need.  It reminds me of my mother's sisters Aunt Dunnie & Aunt Jewel who who sneak away from the family gathering on Christmas Eve for a few hours only to return laden down with bargain sundries.
  • I have to find the perfect Christmas card to send out.  It has to be beachy and say Merry Christmas not Season's Greetings.
  • At least one shopping trip with Mom.  This year's shopping day was fueled by not only McDonald's sweet tea but a large sweet tea from Chick-fil-A as well.
  • No Christmas tree this year. It was decided to take a year off from our usual live Christmas tree.  I weighed my options with the artificial trees.  They were nice enough but we decided to direct our time & effort in other directions. We decorated our big entertainment unit & hutch instead.  I'm pretty happy about it.
  • Wrapping my gifts with Mary Engelbreit wrapping paper. I found some at Michael's Crafts for &1.99 a roll, that's a steal.
  • I am baking like crazy this year. So far I have made Apricot Strudel, Chocolate Almond Bark, & Cranberry Nut bread.  Since I opted out of the tree I had some energy left to bake.
  • Mom's Rum Cake signals the start of the holiday season.  She made her first one on Thanksgiving & there is another one coming for New Year's Day.  She has a recipe but the cake never turns out the same from year to year.  Thankfully my eyebrows & lashes grew back from the time I checked on the cake in the oven & the amount of rum baking-off caused a small explosion.
Grown men have been known to cry when it is all gone. My sil made this beauty.  She is carrying on the Rum Cake tradition.
No tree this year - I decorated the entertainment unit instead.  Each shelf tells a story.

GeeGee added her holiday touch to the shell hutch in the kitchen area.

One of my oldest tradition's is wrapping with Mary Engelbreit Christmas paper.

This might sound corny & cliched but now that I am officially on the sunny-side of middle age, my favorite part of Christmas is all the family & friends that I get to spend time with or talk to or am reminded of.  My hybrid holiday traditions   are my touchstone to them all.
Wishing You a Beautiful Holiday Season
With Every Happiness in the Coming Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

“There's more, much more, to Christmas Than candlelight and cheer; It's the spirit of sweet friendship That brightens all year. It's thoughtfulness and kindness, It's hope reborn again, For peace, for understanding, And for goodwill to men!” - Unknown

Overheard somewhere on the beach......
Are you going to the swanky Christmas soiree at Stump Pass?

Ssshhh!  I don't know if they are invited.

Was this dressy or just Florida casual?

Let's head for the buffet table.

This is the freshest seafood ever.

Hey, that's disgusting.  No double-dipping!

Oh no Gurlfren! You did not just swallow that whole.

Christmas parties are the best!

Why wasn't I invited? 

Fa la la la la la la la la ...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit. ~John Updike

"Royal Palm Manatees" painted by Scott "Scooter" Thompson.

My first home was a boat.  My birth father was a frustrated fisherman who worked for the phone company during the day but fished every other waking breathing moment of his life.  We lived on a small charter boat that he finagled a slip for at a small city-owned marina in Clearwater back in 1958.  I learned to swim before I could walk.  For reasons beyond my control I have always had an affinity for the smell of diesel fuel, bait buckets, & men that...shall we say.. have potential.  Between Jesus & Dr. Phil I pretty much have all those issues under control except I just can't pass by a marina full of boats without stopping and taking a look around. 

Imagine my delight at stumbling upon this little treasure right in my own backyard.  I was told by an Englewood resident that the restaurant Zeke's had the best hamburgers in town.  You just have to find the darn place.  Zeke's is located in the back of Royal Palm Marina so the first time I tried to find it I didn't drive far enough to the back of the complex. I have now eaten there at least once a week for a month but not just for the food. 

 Zeke's Bayside is a little hole in the wall of a restaurant but a treasure of a hole in the wall.  The views of Lemon Bay & the Intercoastal Waterway are spectacular.   The ambiance is quaint old-Florida charm.  But my favorite thing about Zeke's is the seawall that wraps itself around 3 sides of the building that has been divided up by local artists and nautical murals have been painted on each 7' slab.  What a great idea for a contest and where was I?? So Zeke's is my new favorite eatery where I can get my diesel fuel & bait bucket fix and have a nice relaxing lunch with the Hubbs. (who btw does not fish) 

Some marina's just paint everything a bland marine gray but not the Royal Palm Marina.

Every artist was assigned a 7' slab of seawall that contained the accouterments of any marina - pvc drain pipes, fire extinguishers, ect.

Artist Deborah Teachout Bailey captured the camaraderie of the local redneck yacht club.

Rows of redfish, snook, mullet, & tarpon were Artist Nichole Moranda's first attempt at an outdoor mural.

Those junction boxes just blend right into the mangroves.

The fish's eye is actually a pvc drain hole.

This mural is entitled "Boca Grande Treasure".  Artist Kelly Reark studied art & biology.  Her mural captures the look of the water with a fisherman's eye.

The walkway is skinny so be careful backing up to take pictures.

Artist Linda Lancaster had to incorporate a length of pvc drain pipe and the seawall is missing a big chunk on the top left.

This mural is titled "Feeding Time".

"Pirate Sunset" by Artist Melody Wright smack dab in front of the bait tanks.

Notice the water feature on this mural. "Dolphins" by Artist Sally Milne

"Sophie's Song" by Artist Cindy Reynolds

Zeke's is a dog-friendly restaurant.  "Dog Days at the Royal Palm Marina" by Artist Marsha Banas.

"Turtles" by Artist Michelle Walker sits below the bike rack.  Royal Palm Marina is within walking distance of the Historic Downtown Dearborn shopping district.

Untitled mural by Artist Devin O'Sullivan.

The Royal Palm Marina welcomes you to visit anytime they are open to view the seawall murals for yourself.