I went to the shell show

Today was the last day of the Sarasota Shell Show at the Municipal Auditorium. I went with a friend of mine, Catherine…a fellow birder and Hokie fan. There was an amazing array of shells from all over the world. In the center of the auditorium were displays. Along the side, vendors with their wares and in the back, on stage, entries to the competition.

Jewelry was not represented as much as I thought it would be and, although there was some, I was disappointed with what I saw. I suppose I rely on these shows to give me ideas more than I expect them to be a shopping experience. 

It seemed most vendors were selling shells (which I came for). There were several shell artists with shell decorated mirrors and picture frames.  Some had made flower arrangements with their colorful shells.  These amaze me because they’re so pretty.  I’d love to figure out how to make a flower.  I’d have to give it as a gift because I hate dusting and I’m sure they’d be great dust collectors. 

My favorite was the artful work of Silvia, whose business card was a signed clam shell. She had taken the shells that no one wants, broken shells and the old beach worn pieces, and glued them together to make incredible floral-looking displays. She had table center pieces, Christmas tree arrangements, book ends. From afar they looked dainty and fragile probably because of the holes from being pounded by surf, but up close they looked strong and beautiful. She would probably email you some pictures of her work if you’re interested. She also told us she does private classes. Her email address is allan.aga@gmail.com.

Another artist was Bill Jordan. Bill made Sailor’s Valentines and other miniature displays. His work was astonishing and I highly suggest going to his website, http://www.Sailors-Valentine.com. He showed us some of his tools for creating and pointed us to his DVD which shows, step-by-step, how to make a sailor’s valentine.

Although many artists had shell-decorated mirrors and picture frames, one in particular stood out.  Joyce Arms (Siesta Shell Sensations) had a very unique eye for them.  She took black to grey to white shells and designed a mirror frames and picture frames with them.  Black and White? you ask.  Well yes it was stunning, actually.  And in these picture frames were paintings, by her, of night-time ocean scenery in the grey/blue tones.  It was a really creative look.   We picked up a card and her number (in case you want to see these frames for yourself) is 941-349-5059.

I loved the trip to the shell show. It was inspiring, amazing and fun. I did spend some money; I bought several shells that I’ll either stick in a drawer or actually do something with. I’m very interested in taking a class from Silvia and perhaps I can interest enough friends to go with me. I have a ton of shells in my collection; most sitting in drawers and boxes. I have hundreds of sand dollars, too. I didn’t see anything, aside from a glazed and sparkled Christmas ornament, made from sand dollars. That’s surprising but perhaps its because they break so easily. I’ll have to come up with something to make using my sand dollars, other than a tree ornament.

If you missed the show this year, you had better go next year.  Don’t miss out.  The Sarasota Shell Club meets on the second Thursday of each month at Mote Marine Lab.  Meetings start at 7pm.  www.sarasotashellclub.com


Last night I went owling.

I put the dog out and heard an Eastern Screech Owl in the front tree.  It was dark as could be and I heard strange sounds in the dark across the street but I felt that I needed to go owling.

My interest started when I began homeschooling.  We lived in Hernando, MS at the time on a narrow acre that was wooded on the back third.  I often heard owls hoo-hoo back there late at night and found it soothing.  One day there was a field trip with our homeschool group to a class to learn about raptors, so we went.  We were learning about God’s winged creatures for our science class at home and this fit into our studies.  Andi Lehman, who later became one of my dearest friends, had her wildlife on display in the classroom.  She’s a wildlife rehab volunteer and keeps (with permission) rehabilitated birds that can’t live in the wild for some reason, be it a broken wing, missing eye, etc.  She read to the children the book, “Owl Moon”, by Jane Yolin.  It’s an adventure story of a child and an adult walking at night in the snow, with a full moon overhead, to find an owl.  It is a terrific story. 

Time passed and for one reason or another I never made it out to my wooded back yard late at night to go owling.  No one would walk out there with me and, admittedly, it was scarey to go out in the dark with coyotes roaming and who knows what else.

Last night I was determined to check out this little owl that I heard.  So, I put the dog in the house (so she wouldn’t bark at me), grabbed a flashlight and tip-toed out to my street.  I listened, following the sound, flashing my flashlight.  I did this a handful of times until I finally found my light shining right on the owl.  As sweet as it could be, it sat on its perch and just looked at me.  It scratched its head with its right foot then looked at me again. 

I’m thrilled that I finally went owling.  The adventure may not seem like such a big deal to some but I found great joy in it.  It’s something I’ll remember for a long time.

Outdoor stuff to do in SW FL this March

Attention all you folks that love to support wildlife, learn about the environment and just do stuff outdoors: here are some things you can do in SW Florida. I belong to a yahoo group called Environmental Voice of SW Florida and this list was a post this week. I’m sharing it because it has some really fun sounding events that I know I’d like to find out about if I was wintering in the area. Hope you have fun…maybe I be there, too.  And check out the yahoo group…you might want to join.

Upcoming events in Southwest Florida:

2nd Sat, 3rd Tues every month. Volunteer Work Days@ Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park: http://www.friendsoffakaha tchee.org/ volunteer. php

Feb 14 – 15 Jammin in the HammockCollier- Seminole State Park’s Annual Bluegrass Festival,10am -8pm, http://www.floridastatepar ks.org/collier- seminole/ default.cfm

Feb 14 – 16 “Muck About at Clyde Butcher’s Everglades Gallery. Reservations online at: http://clydebutcher .com

Feb 17 Wing It! A Beginning Birders Workshop: 8 to Noon, Join Randy McCormick to learn the basics of birding and a field trip. Rookery Bay: 239-417-6310, http://www.rookeryb ay..org/

Feb 17 Dilemma japonicum, a new bivalve species 11 am at Naples Preserve, Dr. Jose Leal from the Shell Museum presents. Lunch to follow.239-213- 3020

Feb 19 Orange-barred Sulphur Butterfly: 1pm Dr. Gary Pettit´s Naples Pier. Look in the pier area just before you pass the restrooms and showers.

Feb 21 Burrowing Owl Festival in Cape Coral, 10am – 4pm, http://www.ccfriendsofwild life.org

Feb 23-26 Marjory Stoneman Douglas Festival: Everglades Museum, Everglades City. 239-695-0008 or curator11@att. net

Feb 24 Places to Play 11 am at the Naples Preserve.. Roger Clark, Lee County Parks & Recreation. Lunch to follow.239-213- 3020

Feb 26 Black Skimmer: 1pm Dr. Gary Pettit´s Naples Pier. Look in the pier area just before you pass the restrooms and showers.

Mar 7An Environmental Education Meeting for Latinos in Arcadia – Everyone is Welcome9 am to noon All speakers fluent in Spanish & local professionals. FREE Materials & lunch. Call (239) 533-7506 or visit http://www..CHNEP.org

March 14 – 21FLORIDA PANTHER WEEK: http://www.fws.gov/ floridapanther/ panther_week. html

Mar 14 Community Conservation Celebration 9- 2pm, Spend a fun day on Marco Island´s Mackle Park with educational exhibits and activities! No reservations needed.

Mar 15 Save the Panther Week Kick-off at the Naples Zoo 9:30 – 4pm
Spend a fun day at the zoo with educational exhibits, ask questions to a Panther Biologist and enjoy kids activities like face painting! Organizations that are uniting to protect the Panthers will be there: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge, Picayune State Forest, Crew, the Conservancy, and more! No reservations needed.

Mar16 Swamp Walk at the Fakahatchee, with Mike Owen 10 – 1pm
Explore the “Amazon of Southwest Florida” with Mike in the swamp! RSVP March 9-15 by calling 239-353-8442 x 239 or email: events@floridapanth er.org

Mar17 Naples Preserve hosts a Panther Presentation 11am & 3:30pm
Adult presentation from 11am then enjoy a FREE lunch! From 3:30, an after-school program (ages 7 – 11) “Panther Activity Day” on the Naples Preserve. RSVP by calling 239-261-4290 or email: PreserveCaptains@ aol.com

Mar18 “Panthers in Peril” talk at the Conservancy 6 – 8pm Featuring Conservancy Biologist. Dave Shindle. Enjoy one-of-a-kind photos from field research in the Florida panther´s territory. Free for members, $35 for non-members. Must RSVP. Call Jean at 239-403-4207 at http://www.Conservancy. org

Mar 19  Hiking Deep Lake at Big Cypress National Preserve 9am – 12pm
Rangers from Big Cypress take visitors out on a nature trail that teaches you about plants, animal signs & more! RSVP Call Lisa Andrews at 239-695-1164.

Mar19 Fakahatchee, the Amazon of North America by Mike Owen 1pm Mike´s commentary will entertain and teach, as he shares photos and his 15 years of experience in Clyde Butcher´s Everglades Gallery $25/person with 50% donated to Friends of Fakahatchee. RSVP at http://clydebutcher .com

Mar 20 Cycling Bear Island Grade 9am – Noon Bicycle the Big Cypress National Preserve (a 14 mile trail) & learn about Panthers from the Rangers. Call Lisa Andrews at 239-695-1164 for more info & to reserve your spot.

Mar 21 “Save the Panther Day” Panther Refuge Open House 8 am – Noon
Share a fun day with your family, while exploring the Panther Refuge by swamp buggy or by walking trails. Bird Walks, plants & orchid tours, & of course, look for the wild panther! Learn more about what YOU can do to help save the panther & its habitat. RSVP Starting March 9 – 20 Space is limited. Sign up by calling 239-353-8442 x 239 or email: events@floridapanth er.org

Mar 21 CREW Benefit Concert & Art Contest 7pm – 10pm Enjoy an evening of Bluegrass & make new friends at Estero Community Park. A fun family event! Tickets cost $20 towards CREW. Call 239-657-2253 or bthomas_crew@ earthlink. net

Mar 27 CREW Wildlflower Power Point 7pm – 9pm Festival kickoff with a slide show & presentation on wildflowers by local authors Glen Stacell and Gary Schmelz at Bass Pro Shops in Gulf Coast Town Center. No RSVP needed.

Mar 28 CREW Wildlflower Fest 8:30am – 2pm Grand opening of a new trail system, & celebrating CREW´s 20th Anniversary with guided wildflower and butterfly hikes! A suggested donation $3 for members/$5 for non-members. RSVP call 239-657-2253 or email: bthomas_crew@ earthlink. net

My new vegetable garden

We’re not farmers and don’t pretend to be.  We can keep tropical plants alive (outdoors) and have had gardens before.  The last time we tried to grown vegetables was in Hernando MS the year before we moved here to Siesta Key.  We had bird feeders and grew (unplanned) beautiful and huge sunflowers.  So, I thought, why not something else.  I planted pumpkins on the southwest side of the house.  There was a faucet nearby for watering and plenty of sunlight.  The vines grew long.  We watched daily as they grew, constantly turning them back toward the house or along side the house to the back yard.  We didn’t have huge fruit or very much, but we had some and we had a lot of fun.

Before that, in Myrtle Beach where the soil was all sand (like it is here), we had several huge containers on the back patio (southwest facing).  We grew tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, carrots.  The only thing I remember eating were the cherry tomatoes.  But it wasn’t an easy task (container farming) and we didn’t do it again.

Here on Siesta Key, we’re trying the container garden again.  This time with smaller pots, which I think will help them stay watered.  I bought a “self-watering pot”.  It has a reservior at the bottom and I can see the water level.  I asked around to my 4H friends what would be the easiest of the expensive vegetables to grow.  Hands down, broccoli won.  So that’s what we planted today. 

My husband and I already grow basil, mint and rosemary.  He’s in charge of those plants.  We talked about what else to grow.  Perhaps we’ll try tomatoes again using this reservoir pot that our broccoli is in.  I looked up “how to grow broccoli” and “how to grow tomatoes” on the internet.  For simple advice I went to www.ehow.com.  I looked further into growing tomatoes and found a site explaining that you should have very little leaves on your tomato plants in order for the plant to produce an abundant crop.  Sounds like a science experiment to me, so we’ll try one plant with leaves and one without.  I don’t have a hypothesis so we’ll just see what happens.  Hopefully either way, we’ll end up with lots of tomatoes for salads, guacamole, and all those other things you put tomatoes in.  Yum.

Siesta Fiesta Craft Fair February 2009

I just got back from my walk through the Village. Siesta Fiesta Craft Fair was a lot of fun. The artists have incredible talent and I applaud them all. This isn’t the original Siesta Fiesta, though…that one is in April.  See my post: https://lifealongthegulfcoast.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/siesta-fiesta/ for the April 2009 info.
I always enjoy art/craft fairs because I’m artistic, although I have spent more time on raising my children than “doing” my art. I love looking at other artist’s work and thinking in my head, “how can I do this”, “can I do this”, “what would I do differently”, “should I just abandon all ideas of artistry and just raise my kids”?
Well, this year I went with my neighbor, Sandy (the Sunshine Everyday artist) and we picked and scrutinized and discussed and decided we’re just going to have to take a beading class together. We’ll have to brush up on our painting skills together (no pun intended). We’ll have to be crafty together (Ok…that pun was intended). All of the art was so inspiring.  Keep checking back to see what we’ve been up to…you just may want to purchase one (or more) of our creations.
In summation: Fiesta was great, put it on your calendar for next year and bring lots of cash.