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Sarasota Summer Circus Spectacular July 31, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Music & Dance, Travel & Leisure.
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As part of my birthday celebration, we attended a matinee performance of the Sarasota Summer Circus Spectacular in the Historic Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota:

An 18th-century treasure in a 21st-century venue, the Historic Asolo Theater is a work of art in its own right. The palace playhouse was created in Asolo, Italy in 1798 to honor the 15th-century exiled Queen Catherine Cornaro of Cyprus.

In the late 1940s, the theater was dismantled and brought to the Ringling Estate in Sarasota.  In 2006, after years of painstaking restoration, America’s only 18th-century European theater was reset in the John M. McKay Visitors Pavilion just inside the historic Cà d’Zan Gatehouse on the Ringling Museum estate.

The Historic Asolo Theater now functions as a performing arts venue, presenting a diverse roster of theater, music, dance, film, and lectures.

The show boasted clowns, jugglers, acrobats, aerialists, and illusionists.

Opening the 2013 Spectacular, Texas Jack Fulbright, the reigning world champion of trick roping, engaged in some whip cracking fun.

We enjoyed the sleight of hand of master magician Rafael Palacis, and the aerial grace of the magnificent “Queen of the  Air,”Dolly Jacobs.

We had two favorite acts during the matinee.  First, nationally-acclaimed Silent Comedian, Robb Zeiser, drew laughter from the crowd on his own . . .


And with the able assistance of children pulled from the audience . . .


Who, upon waking that morning, had been unaware that they would wow an audience by balancing a spinning plate on the head of a spindle . . .


But you’ll have to take my word for it because, just as his miniature volunteers proved their proficiency at passing spinning plates from one to the next, an usher informed me that taking photos in the Asolo was a big naughty “no no.”

Oops.  Mea culpa.  (When I saw her headed my way, I thought she meant to chastise my slouch . . . or my failure to get a proper pedicure before appearing in public.)


The last act, Duo Romanesc, drew appreciative gasps from the audience as this dynamic and nimble duo demonstrated flexibility, strength, grace, and balance.

Ian Laidlaw and Anthony Congdon have performed as a duo hand-balancing team since middle school, when they met at the Sailor Circus in 2007. Coached by the distinguished circus performer Willie Edelston, they have also performed as part of quad and trio hand-balancing teams.

Aah . . . that’s better!

A Rich Spot Of Earth July 30, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Home & Garden, Nature.
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The first 150 donors to contribute $25 or more to EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) by tomorrow, July 31st, will receive this jewel of a book:

 A Rich Spot of Earth is packed with nearly 200 rich, full color images of Thomas Jefferson’s famous gardens at Monticello. Between the images Peter Hatch, Monticello’s master gardener, shares his experiences raising Jefferson’s favorite fruits, vegetables, and flowers over 3 decades—including how climate change has negatively impacted the health of the gardens.

From Amazon:

“Peter Hatch’s vibrant and enthusiastic passion for preserving Thomas Jefferson’s farming legacy at Monticello reminds us all of the time-tested continuity and historical root of this kind of agriculture.”—Alice Waters  (Alice Waters)

“In this fascinating book, Peter Hatch wonderfully weaves together his deep understanding of Monticello’s soil with his scholarly knowledge of Jefferson’s legacy as a gardener.”—Andrea Wulf, author of Founding Gardeners (Andrea Wulf 2011-10-20)

“Peter Hatch is the ultimate authority on America’s ultimate vegetable garden. Learn all about the genius of the place. Hatch’s fascinating account will enrich your garden and your life.”—Amy P. Goldman, Chair of the Board, Seed Savers Exchange (Amy P. Goldman 2011-10-20)

“Peter Hatch brings the horticultural legacy of Thomas Jefferson to life. A Rich Spot of Earth affords us a clear and compelling view into the revolutionary thinking of Jefferson, illuminating for the reader his approach to food, diversity, democracy, and freedom – making the genius of Jefferson, perhaps, as relevant today as at any other time in American history.”—P. Allen Smith, author of The Garden Home Series (P. Allen Smith 2011-10-25)

“Elegantly produced and artfully augmented by stunning, evocative photographs of the estate and the bounty it produces, Hatch’s homage establishes Jefferson as the clear forefather of modern organic and sustainable garden movements.”—Carol Haggas, Booklist (Carol Haggas Booklist)

Anticipating healthy living advice that would be extolled two centuries later, Jefferson wrote, “I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that . . . as a condiment for the vegetables which constitute my principal diet.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

To learn more:  Environmental Defense Fund ~ Claim Your Book Today!

Life On The River July 30, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Travel & Leisure.
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Last Wednesday, we attended a lecture, Life On The River, featuring alligators, turtles, and Great Blue Herons.


Before the presentation, BFF and I wandered through Palmetto Historic Park ~ a recreated village of buildings dating from the late 1800’s, each moved to the site when faced with demolition by “firing squad.”


The buildings (post office, cottage, school, and church) gather in a congenial circle, alongside the Palmetto Library and the Agricultural Museum.


The post office, built in 1880, still operates one day a year (on its anniversary) for people who want to mail letters with its historic post mark.


The one room schoolhouse started life as the first kindergarten in town.


The Agricultural Museum, a barn in its past life, sits ‘neath swaying pines, content in its reincarnation.


Except when breezes refuse to stir, leaving trees and windpump still.


The Museum outlines the history of the citrus, farming, and fishing industries in Florida with photos, tools, boats, and antique trucks.


Seeing the following diorama caused my imagination to take flight:

Henny Penny (after hearing the Farmer say something about “a chicken in every pot”) becomes a stowaway and makes a clean getaway en route to market.


Later, spotted crossing the road by paparazzi, Henny becomes flustered by the question, “Hey, Chicken!  Why did you cross the road?”

Chicken-Little-PosterInstead of reading the News Release prepared using her alias Chicken Little, Henny mumbles, “To get to the other side!” before darting away, like a chicken without a head, while screaming at the top of her lungs:

“The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!”

Everyone believed her  . . . except the Boy Who Cried Wolf (voiced by Arnold Schwarzenegger):

“Been dere.  Done dat.”

In the meantime, this little piggy stayed home, living high on the hog and making a complete pig of himself.

Instead of accepting Henny Penny’s invitation to “go on the lam,” Mr. Piggy ended life as a ham.


And a rasher of bacon.  Smoked, not fried.   (“I’m S~M~O~K~I~N~G!”)

Okay . . . back to Life On The River.

IMGP1545 (2)

Did you know that alligators snap snapping turtle shells in half as easily as we scarf down tacos?  Or that turtles reciprocate by eating baby gators like sushi?

Kids absorbed those juicy tids and squishy bits amid great grins and giggles.

After presenters spoon-fed a few more morsels of knowledge into eager upturned faces, the kids split into teams for the Great Blue Heron Relay Race.

Frowns of concentration alternated with peals of laughter as they took turns fishing for lunch ~ while walking on tip-toes and picking up snakes, fish, and turtles with “chopstick” beaks.


Let me clarify that sentence . . . rubber snakes, plastic fish, and paper turtles.

Aah . . . that’s better!

An Open & Shut “A to Z” Caper July 29, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Humor, Life Balance, Word Play.
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Attic Rat sniffed around the corners of the trap.  Baited with banana and Snickers, the trap beckoned.  Cautious by nature, Rat sat, wondering why he smelled a rat.

Downstairs, Two-Legger got up to feed hungry Cat.

Enticed by fragrant banana and chocolate, Rat decided to follow Nike’s advice, “Just Do It.”  Front paws with leggy claws stepped from the foamy insulation onto the trap’s smooth hard surface.  Grinning at the aromatic prize, Rat leaned further forward.

Hunched over his food bowl in the kitchen, pampered Cat inhaled breakfast.


Inching forward, Rat reached for the baited breakfast with bated breath. Just a bit more and he’d take a big bite of banana.  “Kind of Two-Legger to think of Rat up here in my humble attic domain.”

Licking his paws and rubbing his face and ears, Cat gave himself a quick bath.

Motionless, Rat sniffed the redolent air.  No danger apparent.  Only a hint of something pricked the edge of Rat’s consciousness ~ an intuitive warning?

Paws curled under his chin, Cat readied for morning nap . . . number one.


Quiet as a mouse and quick as a flash, Rat craned his neck to snatch the bait with sharp pointed teeth.  Rats!  Steel jaws clamped down, trapping him with a SNAP!

Tense Cat, startled from slumber, ears alert, heard trap snap Rat’s neck.

Unseeing, Rat breathed his last.  Vaulting up the ladder, Two-Legger peered into the stuffy attic and spied Rat, dead in the trap.  “Well, that’s that.”

Xenophobia had attempted to save Rattus Rattus from the baited banana trap, but Rat failed to heed the whispers within.  Yawning, heavy head on soft paws, Cat returned to morning nap . . . number one, determined to stay on schedule.

Picture 002c

“Zip-lock bags,” thought Two-Legger, “are perfect for disposing of long-clawed Rats caught in steel traps with a resounding snap.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  WP Daily Prompt ~ A to Z (Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.)

A Fairy Tale Tribunal July 28, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Music & Dance.
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We live in a litigious society . . . when even fairy tale characters are put “on trial” for their perceived transgressions.


This week, in Character Matters, the island drama camp convened a tribunal (Humpty Dumpty, Cinderella, and Rapunzel) to mediate a series of disputes.


The Four Dwarves (downsized from seven) accused Snow White of lack of appreciation for saving her life.


And expressed indignation at Snow for not even knowing their names.


In Ms. White’s defense, when asked to divulge their names, the Four Dwarves refused . . . for fear of a trademark infringement suit by Disney.


Three Billy Goats charged the Troll with being a bully each time they crossed his bridge.  The Troll entered a plea of nolo contendre, but claimed he now wanted to be friends with the goats . . . not eat them.


The miller’s daughter tried to renege on her contract; Rumpelstiltskin stomped his feet and insisted on specific performance of the “iron clad contract.”


The Princess (of “And the Pea” fame) received an award and trophy from Little Red Riding Hood for being posh and polite while visiting her intended’s family.


The wolf, the woodsman, and Red Riding Hood’s grandmother did not attend the award ceremony or send proxies in their stead.


Hansel and Gretel accused the Witch of inviting them to dinner . . . as dinner.


Her response to this extreme breach of etiquette . . . “My bad.”


The Ugly Duckling sought injunctive relief from her step-siblings ~ two fluffy ducks who poked fun at her appearance and “looked at her funny.”


The ducklings agreed to cease and desist in their cruel mockery . . . but only after flapping their wings about in mock indignation.


During the production, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall off a wall as a result of negligent maintenance of said structure by the Fairy Tale Forest Commission.


Due to Humpty’s extreme discombobulation (i.e., scrambled wits), Rapunzel offered his seat to the Pied Piper.


Disgruntled by the perceived slight, the rats claimed discrimination against all and sundry.  Rumpelstiltskin offered to represent them “pro bono.”

The play began and ended on a high note.


With all the Fairy Tale Characters reminding us that Character Matters.


Aah . . . that’s Grimm!

Related post:  WP Prompt  ~ Life Without A Computer -> Real Life Drama!

Fresh Off The Vine July 27, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Home & Garden, Vegetarian Recipes.
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Tomatoes scream . . . IT’S SUMMER!

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato. ~ Lewis Grizzard


If you have a bumper crop of vine-ripened beauties sitting on your counter, here are a few serving suggestions:

* Check out Andra’s simple and elegant Caprese Salad.  Tomatoes also brighten up Cobb, Caesar, and Chef Salads.

* Serve Shrimp Cocktail in a martini glass on a bed of shredded lettuce and chopped tomato seasoned with a lemon vinaigrette.

 A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins. ~ Laurie Colwin

* Make a Tomato Pie or a super simple Bruschetta.  Or liven up a Welsh Rarebit with sliced or diced tomatoes.

* Slide tomatoes into sandwiches and wraps.  Or whip up a batch of Tomato Cheese Spread for crackers or bagel crisps.

* Dice tomatoes into pasta salad, couscous, or rice salad.  Or toss hot buttered noodles with roasted garlic, tomatoes, and crumbled feta.

* Stuff tomatoes with rice and cheese.  Or risotto.

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad.

* Make homemade salsa or pico de gallo to serve with tortilla chips, quesadillas, burritos, or tacos.

* Whip up a batch of tomato soup or Bloody Mary mix.

* Combine diced tomatoes with fresh corn kernels, black beans, and scallions to make a colorful Fiesta Salad.  Toss with oil, vinegar, lime juice, and Tabasco.

* Make a Tomato Sandwich or a PBLT ~ Peanut Butter, Lettuce, and Tomato.

A medium tomato has 35 calories. lots of vitamins, and virtually no fat or sodium.


* Lecsó, a spicy Hungarian dish, puts summer-ripe tomatoes and hot peppers to good use.  Serve over rice or noodles.

* Add a chopped tomato to a Spinach Rice Casserole.

* Tuck a slice of tomato into a Grilled Cheese sandwich or Panini.

Aah . . . that’s better!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy tomatoes at the peak of the season?

Change Your Mind . . . Change Your Life July 26, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness, People.
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Broccoli-Mocking-StewieMarie (Love is the Answer) mentioned Dr. Joe Dispenza to me a few months back.

He makes a lot of sense.

Our beliefs are powerful stuff.  When we learn to control our thoughts, we are in a better position to rein in the emotions that flow from those thoughts.

As we change our thoughts, we change our life.  Among other things, we no longer over re-act to the broccoli heads we meet.

Changing the channel is simple . . . but we must remember to do it.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Own It.  Name It.  Change It.  (Awakening to Your Story) * Our Response To Others Say More About Us Than Them (Candid Impressions)

Pass (On) The Avocados, Please July 25, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure, Vegetarian Recipes.
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Six days a week, Greg and Katherine serve up enticing tidbits and refreshing libations on Rufus’ Food & Spirits Guide.

Like Blueberry Bramble:

On the seventh day, they take a break from culinary endeavors and create a Sunday Supper menu from past posts.

Like Spinach Ricotta Fritters:

There is always something on the menu that appeals to me.

Well . . . almost always.

Last Sunday, I scrolled down the Sunday Suppers: Tapas Night menu and found nothing to drool over:

Lamb Meatballs
Mushroom, Capers, and Anchovies
Calamari Salad
Marinated Eggplant
Stuffed Mushrooms

What!?  No dessert?

The bread accompanying one of the dishes looked good.  But nothing else held any appeal.

Greg and Katherine enticed me back the next night with a delicious Scottish dessert ~ Cranachan (Whipped Cream, Berries, and Whisky!):

That’s the nice thing about cyber entertaining.  Greg and Katherine never have to worry about guests going away hungry.

But their recent Sunday Suppers: Tapas Night menu reminded me of a get-together planned a few years ago with someone I hadn’t seen since childhood.

Our hostess, Gwen, the daughter of one of my mother’s closest friends from college, grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She moved to St. Thomas in her twenties.  Our paths converged on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Gwen owns a home in Sarasota (about 30 minutes from our villa) but is rarely there.  As a traveling nurse, she accepts assignments for six month stretches throughout the continental United States and beyond.  Her assignments have included Alaska (in the winter!) followed by a stay on a Native American Indian Reservation in New Mexico (or Arizona, I can’t recall which).

Anyway, Gwen e-mailed to say that she would be home for a week and wanted to get together for dinner at her house.  We knew she was a vegetarian but knew nothing else about her food preferences.  Nor she, ours.

Our (somewhat) short list of verboten vegetarian items we do not want in our mouths or bellies includes:  mushrooms, eggs, eggplant, and avocados.

Standard fare for many.

After accepting her invitation and asking what we could bring, I decided to give her a heads up about these four foods we do not wish to eat . . . ever.  Not even if invited to do so by, say, the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace.

At the precise moment I tossed out our list of dislikes via e-mail to Gwen, I received an incoming e-mail from her, giving us directions to her house and asking about food preferences:

I was thinking I would make an avocado salad I love and not sure what else @ this point. Any allergies or hates?

LOL!  I replied back:

That’s funny ~ I just sent you a short list of things we do not like to eat.   Unfortunately, avocados are on that list!

We settled on a menu which did not include avocados, mushrooms, eggs, or eggplant.  I’m glad I spoke up.  If I had remained mum, the menu might have looked something like this:

Mushroom Omelette (or Quiche)
Eggplant Caponata
Avocado Salad with chopped Eggs

{{Shudders at the very thought}}

Here’s to good times, good friends, and . . . GOOD food!  Cheers!

Aah . . . that’s better!

What say you?  Any extreme dining likes and dislikes?  Do you speak up and share your preferences with others . . . or hope for the best?

Or do you eat a snack before you dine with someone new . . . just in case?

Life Is Fired At Us Point Blank July 24, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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* That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet. ~ Emily Dickinson

* I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning. ~ J.B. Priestley

* Tomorrow’s life is too late. Live today. ~ Marcus Valerius Martialis


* Why wait?  Life is not a dress rehearsal.  Quit practicing what you’re going to do, and just do it.  In one bold stroke, you can transform today. ~ Phillip Markins

* The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. ~ J. Pierpoint Morgan

* Let us live while we live. ~ Philip Doddridge

* The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  The gift of life is yours.  It is an amazing journey and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. ~ Dan Zadra

* We are here, and it is now.  What else is there? ~ Kobi Yamada


* I want to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are going to be here for only a short while. ~ Carlos Castaneda

* Make each day your masterpiece. ~ John Wooden

* We cannot put off living until we are ready.  The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, “here and now” without any possible postponement.  Life is fired at us point-blank. ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset

Aah . . . that’s better!

Did you notice the face in the clouds?

Related post:  Don’t Put Off the Good Things Until Tomorrow (Love Out Loud)

Fake and Forced Fun is No Fun July 23, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Music & Dance, People.
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gallery1birdbeatSuzi wrote a post a few weeks ago about music being the universal language.

I agree.

With whole heart.

Music pulls us together, whether it’s a jazz trio, a drum circle on the beach, or an entire symphony offering a shared experience.

Attending concerts, especially outdoor concerts, is relaxing and energizing.

I seldom need an invitation to start dancing.

In fact, I sometimes dance in the ice cream aisle at Publix while perusing the freezer cases for buckets of Blue Bell Pralines and Pecan.  But only if there is a really good song playing over the loudspeakers.

Music connects us to the shared heart beat of life.


Except when it doesn’t.

A few weeks ago, we attended a Jimmy Buffett deck party at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar.  As we sat on the Halftime Deck celebrating our 29th Anniversary, we listened to Buffett tunes and watched people “trying too hard” to have fun.

One over-zealous party animal circulated through the crowd, clapping her hands in people’s faces, while encouraging them to reciprocate.

No luck.


Another card-carrying parrot-head started tossing a beach ball around the crowded deck while screaming, “Let’s get this party started!”

Blank stares.


Have you ever tried to play catch with a cat who isn’t in the mood?

You toss the ball (or beach hat).  The cat stares at it.  Then at you.  Without making any effort to retrieve the proffered toy.

To continue playing, you must be both tosser and tossee.


That’s what happened.

Mr. Party Enthusiast tossed the beach ball, hoping to having someone bat it back to him.  When no one did, he retrieved the ball and tossed it again.  And again.  And again.

A third party-goer tried tribal screams:  “Margaritas!”  (Nada.)  “Tequila Shot!” (Nothing.)  “Cheeseburgers in Paradise!”  (Bemused glances.)   “Searching for my lost shaker of salt!” (No Response.)  “Landshark!”   (Zilch.)

Our FREE Anniversary Appetizer arrived . . . pretty as a party on a plate!


I sipped my FREE Sangria and nibbled my FREE Anniversary Appetizer while grinning at the tireless trio’s efforts.

The more desperate the trio became to create enthusiasm, the more fake, forced and phony it felt.

No Fun.


Sometimes sitting & sipping on the sidelines at Halftime beats forced frivolity.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you ever witnessed people trying too hard to have fun?

It’s a big pile of AWKWARD, isn’t it?  :mrgreen:

Jazz Trio by Barbara Hines ~ Island Gallery West