Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. ~Author Unknown

I love the sound of rain.  I love the smell of rain. Walking in the rain doesn't bother me in the least. I was awakened by the ping ping ping sound on my bedroom window the other morning. Then a huge ka-boom. Finally, some much needed rain. As I lay in the dark listening to the storm it dawned on me that all that rain would leave behind be coup sharks teeth on top of the sand out at the beach.

One of the best times to look for sharks teeth & fossils is right after a good hard rain.  The water run-off clears the top layer of sand & leaves all those buried sharks teeth & fossils right on the surface. I reached over in the dark & set my alarm for 7am.

 When my alarm went off several hours later the Hubbs was already up and had made a fresh pot of coffee.  As I grabbed my to-go cup & filled it with my favorite Creme Brulee Coffee mate & coffee He just shook his head and laughed. "Going somewhere?" he asked rhetorically.

Rain pounded sand at Stump Pass State Park

Even this stick of a tree celebrated the rain with some green shoots

I started the jar last summer.  Here it is after months of hard sharks teeth collecting.

No two are alike

Monday, March 28, 2011

The greatest wastes are unused talents and untried ideas." Source Unknown

GeeGee was a depression baby who grew up during WWII.  She either reuses, recycles, or saves everything. To this day I'll go through the cabinets while she is out of the house and get rid of 10 to 15 glass jars that she has washed & peeled the labels off of.(I don't throw them all away just the ones that fall on my toes when I try to grab a box of cereal)  They are all jammed in the kitchen cabinets awaiting little dabs of whatever leftover du jour she is saving for another meal.

 "Money doesn't grow on trees!" our mothers & fathers quip about any wasteful use of anything. Well, guess what! Waste all the shells you want because I found out - Shells do grow on trees! Pick up as many as you want. Give them away. Make something pretty out of them. Put them in your garden. Throw a big handful up into the air and yell "Weeeee!!".  Shells do grow on trees. I have proof.
Shell tree on Stump Pass

Lots of shell wishes

Sitting in the shell crush looking for sharks teeth

One of my shell sistahs & new blogging buddy Carla says putting a shell on the tree is like blowing out birthday candles - you are supposed to make a wish.  OK, I wish everyone gets to walk on the beach and put a shell on a shell tree this year.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Growing up Southern is a privilege, really. It's more than where you're born, it's an idea and state of mind that seems imparted at birth. It's more than loving fried chicken, sweet tea, football, and country music. it's being hospitable, devoted to front porches, magnolias, moon pies and coca-cola... and each other. We don't become Southern - we're born that way.

Hey Y'all! (And if there is more than one person reading this - Hey All Y'all!) I don't like to brag but not only do I have the good fortune of being a Florida native - I am twice blessed to be a GRITS (girl raised in the south). Now, all y'all who live north of the Mason-Dixon just settle down.  Northern women have their assets & advantages too but we southern gals seem to slow down enough to really revel in ours.

Southern girls know bad manners when they see them:
Drinking straight out of a can.
Not sending thank you notes.
Velvet after February.
White shoes before Easter or after
Labor Day.

 Southern girls appreciate their natural assets:
 Dewy skin
 A winning smile
 That unforgettable Southern drawl

Southern girls know their manners:
"Yes Ma'am"
 "Yes sir"
 "Why, no, Billy !"

Southern girls have a distinct way with fond expressions:
"Y'all come back!"
"Well, bless your heart."
"Drop by when you can."
"How's your mother?"
"Love your hair."

Southern girls don't sweat... they glisten.

Southern girls know their summer weather report:

Southern girls have more fun than should be allowed.

Southern girls know their vacation spots:
The Beach
The Beach
The Beach

(from the web - author unknown)

Carla & her mom Susan

Sharks teeth found just walking up the beach

Speaking of the beach.... I ran into 2 sassy beach-loving southern ladies on Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs.  Carla is an online friend from the iLove Shelling facebook page.  Carla always finds interesting shells, fossils, & sharks teeth while she is beach combing.  She has a real eye for seeing the treasures in the sand & wreck that other folks just pass right by. Her home is full of her shell creations & now jewelry that she is creating from her shelling excursion finds.
Carla found the sharks tooth & made this gorgeous necklace

Another Carla creation from sea glass her mom Susan found

A few weeks back Carla found an ancient arrowhead  on top the sand under a fallen tree. She told me she literally had to sit down when the magnitude of the find hit her. Her arrowhead has been looked at by an expert and she was told it is 2,000 to 3,0000 years old. She has been sharing pictures of all the cool stuff that has been washing up from the dredging at Wiggins Pass which is next to Barefoot Beach. I drove down to take a first-hand look at what super moon & a -.05 low tide would bring in.

Carla found the arrowhead on the other side of the tree 

This arrowhead has been estimated to be 2-3,000 years old. It is spectacular  with glints of the crystals still intact (picture by Carla )

   Carla's mom Susan is originally  from Georgia. She shares Carla's love of the beach. Susan told me she feels southern women find more treasures on the beach because our pace is slower. We are not in such a hurry to get anywhere. With that being said she turned & sashayed up the beach to keep looking for goodies in the low tide sandbars.

The tide is just going out & look at the sandbars starting to emerge

Barefoot Beach is what SWFL beaches are all about. Laid-back & preserved in their almost natural state

Looking at Wiggins Pass in Naples  across the channel to the south

Susan took our picture.  Carla told her mom "Don't cut our heads off". It's a southern-thing. All our mommas cut the heads off.
All the birds like to come south too!

Just kidding... Susan took a great pic of us

I'm just saying...........

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Creation is a drug I cannot do without" - Cecil B DeMille

The most popular souvenir t-shirt sold in the little town that I now call my home says "Englewood - a small drinking town with a fishing problem". Yes, we are a coastal community with with 7 miles of spectacular beaches. Everyone here either has a boat or goes fishing on beautiful Lemon Bay.  The official local pastime is hunting for sharks teeth on the beaches.  But I really think the t-shirt should say "Englewood - a small creative town with an artist problem". 

 You cannot go anywhere in Englewood and not see something creative. There is even a street called Artist Avenue with cross streets named for various artists like Van Gogh Road & Pablo Picasso Drive. The historic downtown Dearborn Street is a perfect example of how creative people with lots of paint & ideas can bring life back to a tired business area.  There are murals reinventing walls on old buildings. The businesses have funky decor and there is lots to look at. The main culprit behind this creative energy is a group called The Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay
The adirondacks were painted by local artists & donated for a silent auction fundraiser

One of the things that catches your eye as you drive the main street through the downtown Dearborn Street business district is that every corner has a park bench. Each bench has been painted by an artist from the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay (AALB). Part of  the AALB's mission statement reads - 

"The vision of the Arts Alliance of Lemon Bay, Inc. is to afford the opportunity for artisans to come together in support of one another. To work towards the enhancement of the community both in a social and economic manner."

Click on the picture to enlarge

The shops were closed so I indulged in some window shopping

This ice cream /coffee shop has live music on the week-ends. The cafe doubles as a gallery of local  artists. 
Mermaid's can get their hair done
Local art is the best art

Historic Dearborn Street is where the Englewood 

community gathers. Thanks to the Arts Alliance of 

Lemon Bay we have somewhere beautiful & creative to

 sit a spell and enjoy our main street.

Monday, March 7, 2011

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base. ~Dave Barry

In the pursuit of a more fulfilling relationship with my hubby I read that book "Women are From Venus Men are from Home Depot" or something like that.  I did what the book recommended. I waited for the opportune time to talk. He was relaxed on the couch after a nice dinner. No sporting events were on the tv.  I asked him "Honey, How are you feeling?" He looked over at me, decided it was not a trick question and replied "What do you mean?" I took a deep breath, "I mean Sweetheart,  How are you feeling?" (I'm thinking that book is so stupid). So He answers "Well, I'm not hungry.  I'm not tired.  I'm feeling pretty good." OK, can I get my money back for that book now.

I'll let you in on a little secret of mine. I ended alot of frustration in my relationship with my hubby by using this one little trick (no deception intended) Don't worry.  He doesn't read my blog. He just looks at the pictures every few weeks and tells me he thinks I'm doing a good job.
My Sweetheart of 28 years

 We have been married for 28 years. 10 years the first time & going on 13 years this second (& final) time. That 5 year gap was a "growing" time for us.  It's all good.  Well God is good anyway. Ok back to my secret technique. Based on the theory Men are hunters and Women are gatherers - I have learned that if I give my hubby a mission he is more inclined to stay engaged while doing things with me such as walks on the beach, shopping, or anything revolving around helping my mother.

  As long as he has something to hunt he's totally involved.  For example when we take a romantic sunset walk on the beach together I am meandering over to the wreck line then over to the surf line looking for shells. I look up and he is 40 yards ahead of me. He can't understand why I am looking at shells and stuff.  Aren't we walking for crying out loud? All the other beach walkers are beating us!

Based on men are hunters,  what I started doing was asking him to help me find something, a certain type of shell for example.  "Honey, I need this purple stripey shell for a project. Can you help me find some? I also bat my eyelashes for subtle effect. He usually asks if I got something in my eye.  Anyhow, it works.  It works at Target. It works at Books A Million.  It almost worked at the Sarasota Shell Show but thats another story for another blog.

I found it works on the young male children of my girlfriends.  As we were on the beach yesterday, I harnessed all that young male energy by asking them to help me find shell whorls for my friend Shellbelle who needs them for a shell craft. The hunt was on. Spears raised in the air or maybe it was their shell shovels. They were on it. Three 10 yo boys inundated me with shell whorls. I came home with a whole bucket full. 

Shell whorls for Shellbelle

To make these beauties

They were hunting for sharks teeth too
This hunter totally lost focus.
Hunters are fast runners. (Look at those faces)
Me & my Honey. Together. Happy

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sometime I wish the aliens would abduct me and crown me as their leader. - George Noory

This was the packet of shells that came when you paid admission to the shell show

People give me a quizzical look when I tell them I am heading for the mothership.  My friends & family know that means I'm packing the truck up with my shelling gear & heading for Sanibel Island. On one of my first pre-dawn drives down as I was crossing the San Carlos overpass that leads to Sanibel the lights reminded me of the spaceship in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I start laughing every time I cross that overpass thinking it's transporting me to close encounters of the shell kind. 

 I live 2 hours north of Sanibel travelling by Interstate. Now, if I had a boat Sanibel is just 30 miles south of me as the seagull flies. But alas no boat so I must drive.  I usually get on the road early - about 4am.  That puts me on the beach before sunrise. Early morning shelling is the best.  As the sun rises I get to  watch the beach wake up.  Not to mention I have the entire thing to myself unless another crazy sheller got up as early as me. 

Can you believe with all the beachcombing I do that this was my first Sanibel shell show or The 74th Annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show 2011 to be exact.  The show consists of an outdoor Shell Fair which had shell crafted everything for sale.  Shell flower arrangements, shell mirrors, shell critters, shell jewelry oh and just plain old shells for sale.  There were past shell show winners/artists doing demos of their crafts like sailor's valentines & shell critters. There were live shell exhibits by the junior members of the club. There were fossil shells & a display of apple snails and how they were cleaned. There was popcorn, smoothies, & BBQ. I haven't even gone inside yet.

Inside The Community House is divided into 2 rooms - one for the scientific displays and the other for shell craft & art. I wish I could convey how overwhelming to the senses the Shell Show is. Since I was there on opening day it was packed. There was no apparent flow to the foot traffic so you just had to keep moving.  I just snapped pictures my first time through. I went outside and found a nice quiet spot and chilled out for a bit then dove back  in for a second go-through. 
This was my favorite
Sally Webber  made her own t-shirt from pics of shells from her own collection.  She is a past winner from 1999
The Shelling Queen of Sanibel Pam (right) of i Love Shelling blog with the queen mum (left)

I spent about 3 hours there soaking in all that shelling mayhem. I bumped into Pam of i Love Shelling.  She has some great stuff on the show on her blog. Also Fine Shell Art blog was there.  Her pictures are much better than mine. Local shell guide Captain Brian was there too. 

Enough, the Sanibel sandbar is calling my name. Low tide was at 5:30pm so it was a perfect time to get out to the sandbar and start looking for goodies. Now, I usually park at 5 am not at 2pm in high tourist season & on opening day of the social event of the Sanibel season. After circling 2 parking lots 3 or 4 times each a spot finally opened up - Thank you Lord! I loaded up my wonder wheeler beach cart with my cooler, shell gear, & chair and found a prime location right in front the sand bar. Yep the only thing between me & that sand bar is about 100 feet of cold water. I'm gonna get wet - that's for sure.

Sometimes as a blogger you can get so caught up documenting things for your blog that you can miss actually "being" somewhere.  Opperative word - being.
So that's why I don't have pictures of the current in the water as it rushed out between the shore & the sandbar. Or the swimmers laughing & floating with the current like it was a lazy river ride at a water park. No pics of me eating the perfect Publix sub and drinking an ice cold St. Arbuck's vanilla latte.  No pics of me having the sand bar entirely to myself except for about 3 or 4 hundred sea birds. 

 I don't have pictures of the nice couple from Lutz who I chatted with about their shelling adventures. Or the momma whose daughters begged her to swim out to the sand bar with them.  She went to her car & got the boogie board.  They held onto her like little cubs as they swam the 100 feet across. I watched them as they frolicked on the sand bar. That momma just made a memory forever in her daughter's hearts.  They were beaming when they got back and came over to show me all their finds. The shell show was awesome but the real action is always on the beach.
You have to swim to get to the sand bar
The tide was going out so you have to be careful of the current
Lots of fighting conchs, nutmegs, and another blasted piece of Junonia
Juvenile banded tulips, horse conch, & true tulip
Lots of nutmegs
So save the date - 2012 is the 75th Anniversary Shellabration.  To kick off the festivities the Shell Fair committe is organizing an event for the Guinness Book of Records. They want to assemble 1,000 people doing the Sanibel Stoop on the Causeway Islands. We will all be wearing 75th Shellabration t-shirts and there will be an arial picture taken.  COME ON!  See you there!