Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Grasshopper and the Ant, an Exhibit by Jennifer Angus

My brother had disappeared into one of the exhibits and his daughter Melania had to call him to find where he was at. He came out of the exhibit, and almost stunned and said, you have to see this, there are jar after jar of bugs”.
All of us entered the exhibit, “The Grasshopper and the Ant, and Other stories”, by Jennifer Angus and I was transported back in time. I remembered my brother patiently killing bugs, by placing them in a killing jar, and then taking them out, pinning them, and then identifying each one as he added them to his collection.
He was enrolled in an Entomology course at the University of Northern Iowa, majoring in Biology, and he was working on his assignment. Our whole family was used to his obsessions by now, and his collection was simply added to the jars of organisms floating in formaldeheyde.
Now here were jar after jar all each filled with a colored fluid in which a large insect had been placed. Passing through the collecting room we entered the main gallery where giant locusts, beatles, moths, and leaf hoppers had been pinned to the walls in geometric patterns.
Many of the bugs were from Asia and Central and South America, (many were as large as your hand), and many were farm raised for collectors. I may never 
write thoughts and prayers again! The walls were covered in large spirals and swirls much as one would expect to see on a quilt and Jennifer Angus is a textile artist, (Do any of my quilter friends feel inspired to make a quilt of bugs)?
In another room more spirals but there were eight glass covered domes in which each one contained a diorama with a large bug inspecting a microscope slide. Calling cards were placed around the rooms with appropriate quotes from different animals.
In another section a large table was set in the style of the meal in Alice in Wonderland, but this table contained stuffed animals including a large diamondback rattlesnake.
A squirrel was eating a nut and I was reminded of our friend Jim who has taken on a large squirrel trapping and relocation program).
Eve more bizarre were several large wooden cases. Each was a moneto mori.
The tour guide opened some of them and showed us that each contained a theme story complete with more insects One of the stories was of the large beetles paying homage to their queen, again perhaps inspired by the aforementioned book.
Many of the stories told of the destruction of the rain forest and the worlds wild places. They all lamented the extinctions. They told of the effects of climate change and the fools that did not believe it was happening.
Renita asked to see the drawer with her birthday year and inside were insects staring at dying flowers. I was afraid to ask to see my drawer as perhaps it contained a nightmare, and Mike and I both had strange dreams that evening……
If the exhibit was meant to move us, it certainly did. One wonders at the brilliant minds that coexist with us and the strange and different thoughts that we all have. Luckily most of us do not act on them referring to them as temptations.
There are good obsessions and I think this exhibit had to be created by a textile artist. I know I will never look at my quilter friends again without remembering the bugs and I will certainly never turn my back on them, especially if they have a large pin in their hands.
Clear skies and sweet dreams…….

ps all of the bugs colors are natural

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Treasure Island Boat Parade 2019

The Christmas boat parade had been canceled once before and with the high winds forecast, we really didn’t hold much hope for it to occur.
However, Jen called to let us know it was on and we drove to their condo to watch the celebration.
We could see several boat’s lights, but it wasn’t until the lead boat, a police boat headed our way that we knew the parade had started.
The boats spread out, or at last appeared to as they followed the channel up from Blind pass.

As they neared, we went down to the waterfront and found a bench out of the wind.
The wind wad still strong and it reminded me of the times I had climbed Devils Tower, (for all the English teachers out there the “s” in Devils Tower is not hyphenated).
If the wind were strong enough it would blow straight up the Tower and when we threw our repelling ropes over the edge, they would blow back up, That how strong the wind was during the parade!
(on those occasions you had to have the first person down coil the ropes around their body and uncoil them as they went descended).
As the first boats went by, I wondered if I could even get an image as the wind was pushing the boats!
The captains however did a great job of maintaining control and they kept a safe spacing and maintained their heading.
There were about thirty boats in total and some of the images were blurred but I did get some good ones.
Enjoy the decorations, excuse the poor images and enjoy the parade.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Second Week in Florida, Beaches Family, and Friends

Almost every day a flock of Nanday Parakeets fly by our condo. They are a gregarious bird and the flock contains about seventy-five birds. You don’t have to be watching for them as their raucous calls are easily heard from inside.  I have tried to take pictures with our best camera but as soon as they hear the door open the whole flock flies away.
We have continued our daily walks on the beach, and we have walked more steps and miles than in the last two months combined. There are a lot of sponges that wash up on the beach and a lot of shells, but there are also many early bird shell collectors who beat me to the beach, at least so far….
Last weekend we drove to Stuart, Florida where we stayed at Nancy and Jim’s new condo,(not one of those pictured). They are full time rvers like us and finally decided to buy a place to spend the winter. Like us their rig, after twelve years is aging and they both want some quiet time to rest before the summer travels, (if you look at our blog list you will see their blog, Running Down our Dream).
One of the most wonderful things of traveling by rv, is meeting so many nice people Jim was a junior high teacher and a basketball coach in Washington, Pennsylvania, while Nancy worked in an office. We have crossed paths on the road and whenever we get together, it’s always a special time.
They invited us to stay with them and so we made the drive to Stuart, about two hundred miles. They have a beautiful place and they have done a wonderful job, (Nancy especially although Jim also takes part), in imparting their lives in their new home. While there we took a walk on Ross Witham beach and besides shelling, we got to dip our toes in the Atlantic Ocean!
At dinner we were joined by another couple George and Nan. Nan was a former art teacher who also makes jewelry and has sold some on Etsy.
We also walked around their complex and it’s the first time we have had an iguana encounter. Besides the iguanas there are also quite a few different lizards of which most are alien invaders.
The second day they took us to downtown Stuart. Vender booths were set up one of which was a silversmith who did beautiful work setting stones she bought in sterling silver. It’s rare to find someone who saws, grinds, and polish their own stones and that gives us an advantage.
Stuart has a long boardwalk and we strolled along identifying birds and watching brown pelicans diving into the water after the schools of mullet. We also saw American white ibis that have picked up an unhealthy habit and swoop down on tables eating leftover people food.
We ate dinner at a sports bar that had more TVs than any place we have ever been in, too many in fact, and I had to take out my hearing aids as the different voices were deafening. I made it a late night, ten pm, as we stayed up sharing stories of our times on the road. Its always a pleasure to meet fellow bloggers, and when you follow a blog its like you have talked to them every week.
The next day, they fed us great omelets before we packed and headed back to Treasure Island. On the way we passed a landfill and here, because of the high-water table the dump becomes a vertical mountain, on the flat Florida landscape. We also passed mile after mile of orange trees and stopping is against the law!
It has been another great week in Florida! Thank you, Jim and Nancy, for letting us stay with you, for your great hospitality, and for showing us around in Stuart, Florida. Clear skies

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Our First Week at Sunset Beach, Treasure Island

As its name suggests, the sunset views here are spectacular. While we cook dinner, we can look out our window and watch the colors. It reminds us to go out and photograph the sunset. We have also been busy taking daily long walks on the sandy beach. visiting Jen and Eric and getting our cars windshield repaired.
It hasn’t been any problem getting our daily steps. All we have to do is cross the narrow street, walk over the dunes using the boardwalk and then turn either left or right. If we turn left, we walk down to Blind Pass. It got its name because it appears to be a blind dead end instead of a large pass allowing boats to travel protected behind many of the barrier islands.
The walk takes us about an hour, and we pass two groins which are rock jetties built to keep sand from washing away. One day we watched a s a school of blue fish surrounded bait against the rocks and then feed as only bait fish can do. We watched several fishermen as they fought the bluefish before getting cut off from their razor-sharp teeth, (we don’t know how to correctly cook blue fish as we have no grill available here and they are an oily fish).
If we turn right, we can walk a little further, up to the Biltmore, a large beach front motel. There the remnants of the sandcastle competition still stand even with some rain and heavy winds. There was some damage to some of the sculptures, but the sand sculptures are actually cemented with a glue and water mixture to preserve them
Every day we are visited by a large flock of Nanaday Parrots. They were introduced to southern Florida and now have established a successful breeding colony. They announce their presence with loud harsh calls and they all seem to be talking to each other st the same time!
Another day Jen and Eric invited us over for dinner, and Jen grilled steaks at their condominium. We didn’t fish but we had already spent a day catching fish after fish along their seawall. Its fun catching the small fish even though we don’t eat them and every time we catch one, we usually don’t know what they are. Several we small groupers and they fight light a really large bass, (By the way we used an Fish Bites which worked great as the fish quickly stripped the squid off of our hooks and I do not mention any product unless it really impresses me as we get nothing money wise from our blog)
We decided to get our windshield repaired at a nearby Subaru dealer and the service department told us to call an independent windshield company. They also told us to be sure to use Subaru glass as OEM glass did not have the correct tint so the safety cameras would not work. The repair took place in our condo parking lot and two days later the cameras got calibrated by the dealer.
It cost a lot less than we expected and now everything works as it should. So, we are relaxing and enjoying it here and we do have several trips planned, including one hunting for fossil sharks’ teeth!
Clear skies

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thanksgiving and A Long Drive to Florida

We had hoped to leave for Florida sooner than we did, but I still needed to have my staples removed and so we were able to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast at our rv park. Alan and Zita are the activity directors and they and others prepared six turkeys, while the rest of us brought our favorite fixings.
Suffice it to say I ate too much and skipped dinner.
The next morning found us at Urgent Care and the Nurse Practitioner said that she had seen a lot of us lately. She quickly and painlessly removed the staples and we left for Florida. Strong winds blew us toward Florida which then turned into strong cross winds. It was not a fun drive. Added to that were the traffic jams on I 75.
We spent almost two hours patiently waiting to get by both accidents, (the jam of cars was about twenty miles long, we will never travel on Thanksgiving weekend again).
Finally arriving at Treasure Island, we found our rental condo and after unpacking, Renita pulled out the chairs and we sat on the balcony and watched the surf as we relaxed and waited for Jen and Eric to arrive. They live three miles from where we are staying, and Jen told us of different walks we could take.
As we waited, ten rain birds soared over us. Normally they stay out to sea but with the approaching front they moved inland. They are actually named Magnificent Frigate Birds, but they are called rain birds on Grand Isle as they are an omen of a strong front and stormy weather.
This is as close to the beach as we have ever stayed, and the condo is small but nicely updated. Now if the weather would cooperate!  Clear skies.