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Plan A Staycation November 25, 2015

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

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).

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

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

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


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.

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.


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.”


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.

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.


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?

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.

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.

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

A Safari @ Lowry Park Zoo June 4, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Art & Photography, Travel & Leisure.

Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa is a family friendly place with animals, rides, educational shows, and splash fountains for kids.

“I kid, you not.”

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We went a few weeks ago to talk with the animals.

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First stop, the Safari Explorer to ride through the Savannah.

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We saw giraffes and zebras.

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Rhinos and elephants.

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Turtles and tortoises.

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We saw curious critters.

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And others more standoffish and aloof.

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We saw animals napping.

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And eating.

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Or waiting to be fed.

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“Lettuce lets us help ourselves.”

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We walked the Florida Boardwalk and saw otters, bears, and deer.

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And sunbathing reptiles.

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Decorated for Zoominations, pathways overflowed with colorful balloon elephants.

Some large.

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Some small.

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All guarded by lions.

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The Blessing for Fortune and Safety

These elephants and their lion guards represent a world of peace and harmony which we wish to express to you all!

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We saw Dragons and Peacocks.

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Flowers and Fish.

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And more.

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As soon as we got home, we showered.  We felt a bit “gamey” after hanging around animals all day.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Moon Under Water April 27, 2015

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

In March, we drove to St. Pete for lunch at Moon Under Water, a quaint British Pub with sidewalk service.

To learn the intriguing story behind the name, click HERE.

I ordered the Feta Taboule Salad with black olives and red peppers, served in a tortilla shell with Hummus and Pita.

A bit too much green and not enough grain for my tastes.

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BFF opted for Fish & Chips with a side of Tikha Masala Curry which tickled our “Tikha” . . . and our tastebuds.

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After lunch, we went in search of a Small Craft Taps and Casks House ~ The Ale and The Witch.

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We chuckled at a posted proverb but didn’t have a chance to sample the Witch’s Brew ~> the taps aren’t tapped at quarter past two.

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Next time we won’t arrive before the Witching Hour.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Virtual Reality: Travel January 24, 2015

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

Earth_Eastern_HemisphereAs I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder. – John Glenn

America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked. – David Letterman

If God had intended us to fly he would have made it easier to get to the airport – Jonathan Winters

The best cure for sea sickness, is to sit under a tree. – Spike Milligan

Donald-Duck-DrivingYou know you’re a redneck if your home has wheels and your car doesn’t. – Jeff Foxworthy

In hotel rooms I worry. I can’t be the only guy who sits on the furniture naked. – Jonathan Katz

The first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone. – George Roberts

Aah . . . that’s better!

Source:  e-mail from unknown author (sent by Granny1947)

Back to the Bush at Busch December 22, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Travel & Leisure.

On a sunny Sunday, we went back to Busch Gardens to wander around the Edge of Africa.

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On the way we spied some American Alligators emulating Nile Crocodiles.

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This cheetah slowed down enough to let me capture his spots.

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We saw giraffes feeding at elevated stations.

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With flamingos pausing and reflecting in the foreground.

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The expanse of blue sunny skies framed the scene better than the rain on the plain puddling into the train on our first visit.

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I don’t know where the zebras hang out.  We didn’t see any.

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We did bump into one of BFF’s cousins.  “My what L~O~N~G arms you have, Gus!”

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Overhead, roller coasters screamed along twisted rails.

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While brave riders flailed their arms with glee.

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We saw a few bizarre sights in the bazaar.

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And also some intriguing portals.

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And lanterns ensconced in the branches like ensnared parachutes.

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Or tiny UFO’s for Pod People.

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This meerkat sentry was on high alert.

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Perhaps due to the proximity of a pride of lions.

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Elephants loitered about, swinging their trunks.

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As they laughed out loud at inside jokes!

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Flamingos strutted their stuff in shades of pink and peach.

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While this tiger topiary unsheathed its claws.

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And bared its teeth!

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Shops dotted the landscape, bedecked in “bling.”

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And poinsettias added festive cheer to this zebra drawn sleigh filled with elves.

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Flower filled boats drifted through the lagoon keeping time with a festive holiday tune.

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Beside a tree blanketed in a sea of poinsettia.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

The Wonderful World of C~H~E~E~S~E December 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure.

On Saturday, we attended a Cheese Tasting presented by The Fresh Market at the Main Library.

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We had the opportunity to try 10 cheeses from the Eight Cheese Familes:

1. Fresh Cheeses ~ Goat Log and Cilegene (fresh mozzarella)

2.  Soft Ripened/ Bloomy Rind ~ Ile de France Brie

3.  Washed Rind ~ Chaumes

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4. Pressed Uncooked ~ Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar

5. Pressed Cooked ~ Kaltbach Cave Aged Gruyere

6.  Pasta Filata (Stretched Curd) ~ Armenian String

7. Blue Veined ~ Buttermilk Blue

8. Specialty ~ Wendsleydale cranberry and Cran Le Roule

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Each table of four tasters had all cheeses within arm’s reach which enabled us to compare and contrast the tangy peppery goat log with the rich Brie with the sharp Buttermilk Blue.

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Karen LaBonte, the cheese specialist, brought Raspberry and Apricot preserves to pair with the White Cheddar and the Buttermilk Blue.  The Apricot preserves raised the Blue to stellar heights.

2014-12-13 14-46-30_0007Karen also brought a fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds for us to sample, amid squeaks.

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Following the tasting, the Manatee School for the Arts put on a short Holiday Concert.

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Giving attendees a chance to cleanse their palates with cookies and punch.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Are your favorite cheeses Mild or Sharp?  Nutty or Tangy?  Are they Stinky, Aromatic, and Pungent? Peppery, Grassy, or Musky?  Silky or Crunchy?  Citrusy, Earthy, Sweet, or Salty?  Elegant and Rich?  Or Rustic and Barn-yardy?


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