Thursday, December 31, 2015

Celebrating Family Time at Grand Isle, Louisiana

Last year, Gary and Connie invited all of the family to a reunion on Grand Isle. They live there and so of course everyone who could jumped at the invitation and arrived before or after Christmas. We all looked forward to Connie and Gary’s hospitality and of course Connie’s cinnamon rolls.
Breakfast brunch was one of the many feasts and the one with cinnamon rolls was also highlighted by cranberry bread, and make your own breakfast burritos. On the side of the burritos my brother Mike had brought his home made salsa!
Another evening Mike made his taco soup and everyone agreed that the heat was just right! Other meals included a seafood bouillabaisse, buffalo burgers, and of course a seafood platter feast. Besides the local shrimp, flounder, and oysters, we had a special treat as one of their friends had given Connie frog legs! Things were jumping to say the least, (sorry but I couldn’t help myself), however not everyone was brave enough to try the frog legs.
Gary also took the nieces and nephews hunting for treasure and everyone came back home with a bag of sea glass and pottery shards. Ben and Louise also found a large assortment of fossil horse teeth and bones. They also went fishing but the fish didn’t cooperate.
Meanwhile I went to a new place and caught two large black drum on two successive casts. There is nothing like fishing on Grand Isle when it comes to fishing and catching large fish! We always love our time here and this is one of the places where we could easily spend a lot of time!
As any reunion lots of time was spent talking about old times, family members who are no longer with us, and all the special memories from growing up.  It is interesting to hear my family’s memories as they don’t always jive with mine and by no means are mine necessarily correct.
We would like to give a special thank you to Connie and Gary for hosting the reunion. Some have already left and we ourselves will head off to Texas on the second. Winter shows, time with friends, and time in the rock shop all await! There is so much to learn and so little time.
We would also like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Clear skies

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Treasure Island Boat Parade, 2015

We spent thirty years in northeast Wyoming and every year we had the same Christmas traditions. In early December we would  head up the Bighorns in search of the perfect tree. Using our cross country skis we would ski the forest and snow closed roads, keeping a careful eye for mad moose, before selecting and cutting the Christmas tree.
Afterwards we would sled the one of the gentler mountain slopes and surprisingly no one was ever seriously hurt, even thought we did occasionally encounter rocks. Then on Christmas eve we would load up the truck and cruise around the town looking for the most beautiful yard decorations.
Here on the Gulf Coast is quite a bit different as the lights come to you. The temperatures are in the eighties and now we drive to Jen and Eric's place on Treasure Island. There we go out on a friends balcony and watch the Christmas flotilla pass by. This year the boat parade was the largest we have ever seen. While all were colorful and unique a new one stole the award. It was a large sea turtle design followed by a smaller one at the stern. The display really stood out as the flippers moved up and down!
The boat parade contained the patterns of sailboats, yachts covered head to stern encased in lights, and we even saw one in which the bow was crowded with dolphins. We had seen the dolphin pattern before however this year the dolphins were stationary, (Last year the dolphins were jumping).
As usual it was a fun time watching the boats pass by and making new traditions. Where ever you are and whatever your traditions we wish you a Merry Christmas, and know that you are in ours hearts. Clear skies

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dress Day

There are special days in every one's life and one such day is the day when a mother and daughter go out to find a wedding dress. Monday was that special day for Renita and Jenny. They got together with Jens , Maid of Honor, Brandy and the first dress they saw was Renita's.
We had carefully carried the boxed dress to Florida,(stored after our wedding forty four years ago), in a forever box. It was supposed to resist all outside influences and it hadn't been open in all that time. Opening it up, there were a few small spots, but the dress still looked as beautiful as the day Renita wore it.
Examining the colors and materials they came up with some ideas to incorporate into Jen and Eric's wedding, (August. 2016). Then after taking some pictures I said goodbye and wished them luck as they went off to several dress appointments. I did hand Renita a box of Kleenex as crying was a prerequisite for the days activities.
Five hours later I got a call form Renita. They were at a beach bar resting after the days successful shopping expedition. They told me stories of all the dresses Jennifer had tried on and of course I could only nod my head as I had no clue as to what they were talking about.
It was all good however as they told of how Jen had found the dress. How she had looked great in many of the dresses she had tried on but how her eyes had shone when she found the one. No I never did see it and they hid it from Eric as he joined us for dinner.
Now I can only imagine and  I so look forward to that special moment in time when I walk my daughter down the aisle, (and I must not cry). I have been truly blessed. Clear skies

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fellow Escapees: A Day at Fort Desot0

If you read our blog you will probably recognize Jim and Nancy. They are fellow Escapees, who like us, who sold their house in 2007 and headed off on the road. The Escapee group then, was called the Class of 2007, and it has dwindled over the years. Some have grown tired of the road, some have grown sick, some have run out of money, and some have passed.
Jim and Nancy are still full time travelers, and Jim chronicles their adventures in their blog, Running Down Our Dream, (It’s listed on the lower right reading list). So when they contacted us and told us they were nearby we planned a day together to relive memories, talk about visits with mutual friends, and share stories.
Our favorite place here is Fort Desoto and so we loaded up and headed out for a day of walking and talking and just having a good time, (we last saw them at Betty’s Rv Park in Louisiana). Our first stop at Fort Desoto was a drive through the campground. While we would love to stay there the cost is really high, much higher than our budget permits. It’s also a campground with overhanging trees, not a place for our big rigs, (we are 13.2 feet high).
Our next stop was to Fort Desoto, the actual Fort itself, and we strolled along the top of the embankment, before walking along the batteries. The mortars are twelve inches in diameter and lobbed huge shells as far as six miles away. One sign said that the guns recoiled twenty eight inches after being fired and I can’t imagine the noise and fear such a shot would produce.
As we strolled along the top, a large number of osprey’s wheeled above us. Usually solitary birds they seemed to be performing, at least for each other, and, enjoying the strong winds, soared back and forth across the width of the island.
North Beach was another place we wanted to show them and we walked the beach to Bunces Pass. It’s always a good day when you stroll on the beach and we were joined by a pod of feeding dolphins. I showed them where we had caught the sharks and where I had caught a large flounder last year. Jim shared stories of their favorite beach, Cape Hatteras national Seashore in North Carolina.
Noticing a tire was low, we still stopped at the fishing pier. Nothing much was happening. but there was a gigantic school of greenbacks, greenies, that probably numbered in the millions, (not an exaggeration) Such a monstrous ball of bait surely must attract larger gamefish As we walked the pier common terns dove into the massed fish, but no fished slashed through the resting biomass.
After Fort Desoto we ate a nice seafood place called the Brass Monkey. We both opted for the broiled lemon pepper grouper and with such good food and pleasant waiters it’s a restaurant to which we plan to return, ( some of the seafood places here serve basa, a Vietnamese catfish. Just what I don’t want seafood from Asia in a restaurant along the Gulf Coast).

Returning home we discussed our travel plans for 2016. Every day is a blessing and we were blessed to spend time with such nice people. One of our fears about being full time rvers was that we would not meet new friends. However that has not been a problem and we now have friends scattered all over the United States! Clear skies

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Day at the Ringling Art Museum: The Chinese Exhibit of Fifteenth Century Burial Objects

One of our favorite things to do, while here in south Florida, is to make the short drive from Pinellas Park to Sarasota. There we always visit the Ringling Art Museum and always on Monday. Monday is a free day and all you have to do is state your zip code and you can enter the grounds allowing you to walk the beautiful grounds and visit the museum.
We were especially excited this year as the Searling Gallery, a small part of the Museum was exhibiting Chinese fifteenth burial objects. No photography is allowed in this special wing and so we can’t show you any of the displays but they did not disappoint us.
Right away the first display case contained gold artwork containing cabochons of precious and semiprecious gems. The gold work was exquisite and the cabochons, polished stones, had been finished in their natural shape. This was the preferred method then, unlike the domed and faceted shapes we make today.
Case after case contained more bracelets, hairpins, and hair crowns set in gold. Most of the work contined rubies, emeralds, beryl, topaz, and even agate. Many of the objects had some empty settings where the stones had been plucked,(perhaps by grave robbers?), the story might have added to the exhibit.
Several cases contained nephrite jade carvings, and that was particularly interesting to us as we work Wyoming nephrite jade. The objects themselves were beautifully shaped, however the shine done on the jade was less than that which we can do today.
Also the jade was a lesser quality than our Wyoming jade and then the British Columbian jade we have collected during our travels. There were numerous surface flaws almost as if the jade pieces had been made from what we call heel pieces, perhaps a lesser jade was used for burial pieces?
The Chinese carvers ran out of the nephrite jade in the seventeenth century and started using imported jadeite, (nephrite is a member of the pyroxene mineral group and jadeite an amphibole). Maybe the reason for this was the shortage of nephrite, another untold story. Regardless the carvings were beautiful and something we have only played with. Again I wish we had started working stone many years ago. Where would our art be now?
Finishing the exhibit we stopped for a snack at the enclosed courtyard and anyone who has been there will remember the bronze and marble works that highlight the space. A copy of Michelangelo’s David dominates the wall and peers down at all the statues and castings below.
In other areas we stopped and saw Rueben’s Paintings, German silverwork, and Italian rings in a style close to ours. One room contained glasswork by a modern American artist and it amazed us how such work could be made without fracturing such a delicate media.
Such visits always leaves us inspired to return to our own work and returning home, to our fifth wheel, we lined up some of our own jades pieces. There is so much to do and so little time. If you are in the area we strongly recommend the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum. Clear skies