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
Eve more bizarre were several large wooden cases. Each was a moneto mori.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.