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A “Catwalk” Through A Cypress Swamp May 23, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
38 comments

When we lived in NC, we spent many wonderful weekends camping and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smokies.

Blue hills

We loved to pack a picnic and hike to a waterfall where we could park our butts on a big boulder mid-river to enjoy the rushing water (and an adult beverage, or two).  Here, there is plenty of water but waterfalls are few and far between.

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BFF misses our mountain meanders ~ not enough to hike the Appalachian Trail, but enough to wander in the woods and set a spell.  We came close earlier this month.

Wanting to fit in another road trip before Florida temps rose from warm to steamy, we headed to Sebring for a short visit.

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Emphasis on short.

We enjoyed a quick peek at Lake Jackson . . .

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And strolled around the Circle Shops, stopping to visit a pottery studio, before bidding adieu to Sebring.

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With Sebring in our rear view mirror, we headed to nearby Highland Hammock State Park to do some hiking in the woods.

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Our first hike started out as an easy flat walk along an elevated boardwalk.

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High above the muck and mire.  Just the way I like it!

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Without warning, our easy hike turned into a balancing act along a narrow “catwalk” suspended over the murky Cypress Swamp.

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The catwalk had a handrail on one side and NOTHING between us and the swamp on the other.

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The people who built it must have had a good laugh at the one-sided structure they left in their wake.

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To make matters worse, stuff kept falling out of the tall tall trees because a big storm had blown through the  night before.

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Every time a big limb dropped with a CRACK, we jumped.

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Especially after seeing the creature from the black lagoon rising from the swampy soup.

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To claim the boardwalk for lunch.

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We didn’t see any gators or snakes.

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We were OK with that.

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We did see some interesting hoo doos.

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And pixies hiding among the primordial ferns.

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Eventually the canopy gave way to blue sky and we climbed down from the catwalk to terra firma.

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Happy we lived to tell the tale, we readied ourselves to hike another trail.

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Which turned out to be a very gnarly one.

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After meeting up with this wise old oak . . .

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We continued along the trail until we heard “a bear” crashing through the forest in our direction.

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Deciding we’d had enough nature for one day, we fled the trail.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

 

Bagels On The Beach May 19, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
32 comments

In early May, we went to Einstein Bagels, bought a big bag of bagels and had bagels on the beach at Siesta Key.

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We loved the beach improvements made since our last visit ~ this walkway leads up to the second-story snack bar and concession stand with an amazing view and a diverse menu.

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Siesta Key is proud of its beach . . .

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For good reason.

In addition to miles of powder white sand, it’s “user friendly” . . . with rest rooms, changing rooms, and 800 FREE parking spots (which fill up quickly on sunny days).

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And it boasts a fun and shady playground for tiny tots tired of too much sand, sun, and surf.

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After beaching it for a couple hours, we walked around Siesta Key Village and grooved to fun live music at the SKOB ~ good tunes from the 70’s.  Including Pure Prairie League!

After getting the “munchies” from the college tunes and Woodstock sounds, we chowed down on some mini donuts ~ still warm from the fryer, baby!

No.  I didn’t take a photo of them.  We were too busy eating.

We stopped in Southside Village at Morton’s Gourmet Market.  After sampling some delicious blue cheese from Wisconsin, we bought a chunk of cheese and a bunch of bananas and headed home.

Relaxed and happy.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

What’s your favorite music from the 70’s?

Shakespeare In The Park May 15, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Music & Dance, Nature, Poetry, Travel & Leisure.
22 comments

On a day that threatened rain, we headed to Bay Preserve in Osprey for an Asolo Repertory Theatre performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night . . . with a modern twist.

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The setting for this “in the park” production balanced well with the play’s set design of a summer camp.

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The cast worked magic with Shakespeare’s timeless comedy of unrequited love, pride, pranks, and self-discovery.

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And the rain held off until after the play and reception ended.

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“If music be the food of love, play on.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?

¿Cómo se dice? . . .  May 5, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Travel & Leisure.
38 comments

fotostockchameleonAt the library book sale, I picked up some colorful books on Mexico.

As I flipped through the warm and vibrant photos, I wondered what life might be like in Mexico.

Here, it is easy to fill my days.  I have more than enough to do without juggling languages.

I enjoy being near a supermarket that speaks English (even if I can’t always pronounce all the ingredients).  Shopping for groceries that are yakking at me in French, Spanish, Chinese, or Russian would be a challenge, to say the least.

Food is far too important to our health and well-being to take any chances on mixing up essential ingredients.  Imagine requesting a bar of chocolate and getting stuck with a head of cauliflower.

Quelle Horreur!

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Just in case I get caught on the other side of the looking glass . . .

¿Cómo se dice? . . . chocolate cake?

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¿Cómo se dice? . . . bagels?

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¿Cómo se dice? . . . quesadilla con salsa?

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Oh, right.  Quesadilla con salsa.

Well . . . one out of three ain’t bad.  Good to know I won’t starve, but what about intellectual stimulation?

I enjoy lectures at the library, but if speakers spoke any language other than English, their thoughts would fly right over my head.  I would miss all the lovely nuances.

And, speaking of talking, I enjoy chatting with people I meet on the street, in stores, and around town without peppering every other sentence with ¿Cómo se dice? . . .

IMGP3167bI expect I would feel cut off and disconnected from reality if every conversation around me took place in a language foreign to my ears.

¿Cómo se dice? . . . mad as a hatter?

Even flipping through channels to find something to watch on TV would be far different.

Of course, watching TV is one way to learn a foreign language.

A contestant on Jeopardy this season moved to the U.S. from Russia as a child.  He learned impeccable English watching MacGyver.

He also learned how to make a bomb out of vinegar, baking soda, and duct tape.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

Are You Smarter Than A Librarian? March 3, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People, Travel & Leisure.
51 comments

Tiggers-R-UsA few weeks ago, we played a trivia game, Are You Smarter Than A Librarian?, at the Central Library in Bradenton.

Seven teams competed, responding to 31 questions:

Three teams got 20-22 correct.
The top three teams scored 25, 24, and 23.

BFF and I came in last!
We got 17/31 correct.

3D-ApeOur last place finish didn’t bother us since the other teams had 4 or 5 members searching their collective gray matter for answers.  We were the only 2 person team competing.

Plus, the questions we missed addressed things we never knew, not stuff we knew but couldn’t recall.

For example:

# What does the “VSOP” on Cognac bottles mean?  We got as far as “Very Special Old” . . . but the “P” stumped us.

# We didn’t know the month & year Osama bin Laden bit the dust, but the fact that we lacked that fact doesn’t bother me a bit ~> what matters to me is that he, like Jacob Marley, is “deader than a doornail.”

# We missed questions about the TV series “Scandal” and other TV shows we’ve never watched.

Donald-Duck-Baseball# We were way off base when asked how many singles the Beatles released in 1964.

We guessed “6” ~> not even close!

None of the groups landed in the right ball park on this question.

The correct answer: 29!

Mickey-OKDespite our last place finish, we had a blast.

And lots of laughs.

So, even if we are NOT smarter than a librarian, we’d play again!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Plan A Staycation November 25, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Sustainable Living, Travel & Leisure.
48 comments

AirplaneInstead of taking out a second mortgage to travel halfway round the world on a gas guzzling jumbo jet (AFTER a heated argument with TSA agents about what constitutes unreasonable search and seizure), consider playing tourist in your own town.  Staycations can be a fun and budget-friendly way to explore the beauty of your own backyard.

Plus, you don’t have to pack, unpack, or endure TSA pat downs by Frisky McFrisk.

Not sure what to do?  You could . . .

* Seek out local tourist attractions, walking ghost tours, or cultural events.
* Catch up on reading or take a class.
* Try a local ethnic restaurant.

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* Hold a family talent show . . . with prizes!
* Pursue an old hobby or a new interest.
* Plant a backyard garden (or hang out in a hammock).

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* Take tap-dancing or limbo lessons.
* Dust off your accordion and perform at an “open mike” night.
* Snap shots on a nature walk.

Reflections
* Take a picnic to the park to explore scenic vistas.
* Take your bike for a spin around a lake.
* Play Scram Scrabble or charades.

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* Volunteer for a favorite cause or help with a friend’s project.
* Watch movies. Pop popcorn.
* Build a snowman.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you ever “spent your vacation” at home?  Did it feel like summer break as a kid . . . with late nights and lazy mornings?

Does the idea of a Staycation hold any appeal?

Old Goats September 26, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Travel & Leisure.
53 comments

A group of Americans were traveling by tour bus through Switzerland.  At a cheese farm, a young guide led them through the process of cheese making, explaining that goat’s milk was used.

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She showed the group a lovely hillside where many goats were grazing.

“These,” she explained, “are the older goats put out to pasture when they no longer produce.”

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She then asked, “What do you do in America with your old goats?”

A spry old gentleman answered, “They send us on bus tours!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source:  e-mail from unknown author (sent by Joe M.)

Quick Quiz: Retirement July 25, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Travel & Leisure.
58 comments

grumpy_thinkingHere’s a Quick Quiz about Retirement.  See how many you get right:

1. When is a retiree’s bedtime?
A. Three hours after he falls asleep on the couch.

2. How many retirees does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Only one, but it might take all day.

3. Why does a retiree often say he doesn’t miss work, but misses the people he used to work with?
A. He is too polite to tell the whole truth.

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4. What do retirees call a long lunch?
A. Normal.

5. Why don’t retirees clean out the basement, attic or garage?
A. If they do, their adult kids will want to store stuff there.

6. What do retirees call someone who refuses to retire?
A. NUTS!

7. What do retirees consider formal attire?
A. Tied shoes.

8. What do retirees do all week?
A. Monday to Friday, nothing. Saturday & Sunday, they rest.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source:  E-mail from unknown author (sent by Joe M.)

Bok Tower Gardens June 25, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
47 comments

Early May, we drove across state to Bok Tower Gardens, a national historic landmark in Lake Wales.

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Established in 1929 by Edward W. Bok as a gift to the American people, the 50-acre garden was designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.

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The acres include ferns, palms, oaks, pine, flowering foliage, fountains, and wide expanses of manicured lawns.

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This flower waved at us from its shady perch . . .

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This plant’s radiant spikes caught our attention . . .

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Here’s some perspective on the size of its spikes . . .

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In the midst of the greenery stands the 205-foot-tall marble and coquina Singing Tower.

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Each day, a carilloner climbs into the tower to present a concert on the 60-bell carillon.

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The bells range in size from 22,000 pounds to 12 pounds.

After the tower’s construction, the bells got lifted into position through an opening now filled with this sundial.

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The grounds include a Visitor Center and Museum with changing art exhibits and a 9-minute introductory video about the Tower and the Gardens ~> an air-conditioned oasis on the HOT day we visited.

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The gardens are quiet, peaceful, and contemplative, especially when the carillon’s peals ring out from the Singing Tower.

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The site also includes Pinewood Estate and Gardens ~ a one-of-a-kind 1930’s Mediterranean style home surrounded by rolling hills and crowds of blooms.

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Wandering a remote path near Pinewood Estate, we found a baby scrub jay out of its nest.

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After giving it water and building a lean-to to shield it from the sun, we returned to the 20-room mansion to alert a director ~ she hoped to find someone knowledgeable enough to save the baby bird.

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Also on site ~ a Gift Shop, a Plant Shop, and the Blue Palmetto Cafe.

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After admiring the sights and sounds while walking 2-3 miles around and around the grounds with the blazing sun beating down, we climbed into our air-conditioned chariot for the ride home.

Aah . . . that’s better!

And now a few quotes for the Three Quote Challenge (thanks, Sylvia!):

* The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. ~ Alfred Austin

* My family lived off the land; summer evening meals featured baked stuffed tomatoes, potato salad, corn on the cob, fresh shelled peas and homemade ice cream with strawberries from our garden. With no air conditioning, the cool porch was the center of our universe after the scorching days. ~ David Mixner

* If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

If you want to play along, consider yourself nominated.  Then swing by Another Day in Paradise to see how many rules I failed to follow.

Sun Temples and Druids June 17, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, People, Travel & Leisure.
30 comments

In 1979, my grandfather pondered the mysteries of ancient settlers in the New World, including Druids in Vermont, after receiving America B.C., by Barry Fell from my father for his birthday.

While the book has its critics, my grandfather enjoyed exploring the subject matter:

3/2 ~ “I have received the America B.C. Book. It has a good picture of the South Woodstock Temple “dirt cellar.” It is evident it is an ancient settler building. The markings are a dedication to (Gel) Sun God.”

Intrigued, my grandfather gathered a group to visit the Temple in South Woodstock in May (after the snow melted and the mud dried):

5/1 ~ “I had to write a little to inform you that a group of us, namely Leon and Marjorie, Al & Judy, Margaret and I, attended services to the Sun at the Temple.  We ran into the owner of the land and told him what we were looking for. I took 2 flash pictures inside with the party standing about. It is a sizable room. Mr. Reeves knew me by sight from Town Meetings. There is a fire place near the Temple structure. It is also of ancient origin, I think. The road was pretty fair and dried out. The symbols of fertility have been moved to a museum for safe keeping. Chapter 14 in America B.C.

A few weeks later, he shared his photos with Joseph B. Johnson, who had served as 70th Governor of Vermont in the 1950’s:

6/25 ~ “Another event of the year is past. The Parade of Springfield Alumni. Lucia took Margaret and I to the Johnson’s at 10. An open car picked us up at 10:30. Joe was in front and Margaret, Virginia and I were in back. We are now the second car of old people. A doubtful honor for us.

“I took along a picture of the South Woodstock Temple. It was news to both Joe and Virginia. Joe may get a copy of the book. Margaret is OK after the parade. It is nearing dinner time and we have berries. So I am all set. The sun is out and porch livable. And so we drift into Summer.”

The next year, he expanded his reading to encompass the Druids of the Old World:

1/14 ~ “It is about time I wrote thanking you for Christmas gifts. Margaret is reading the book on the Druids. They were a secretive sort of religious people. The So. Woodstock building seems to match other buildings in Europe, Scotland, and England.”

That’s one of the delights of reading.  The end of a book need not be the end of the inquiry.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related articles:  The Mysterious Stone Chambers of New England (The South Woodstock complex consists of stone chambers, standing stones, and cairns in a natural bowl surrounded by hills and ridges. Besides having close proximity to waterways connecting with the Connecticut River, the beehive structures would have been interconnected by an intricate network of footpaths.)

Related posts re dad’s dad:  The Other Side of Retirement * How NOT To Cook A Turkey * Pragmatic Thoughts on Life & Death * Wry Observations on Dry Politics * Flying Squirrels & Other Silly Bits * Quaint Colloquialisms * DIY Projects, Work Bees, & No Cavities! * Until The Worm Turns * A Real Straight Shooter

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