Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter Color

My working title for today's post was something along the lines of "All the Colors of the Rainbow, and then Some," however, after looking at my photographs I realized I was short on indigo, so "Winter Color" will have to do.

Not very exciting I realize, but outside it is very exciting indeed. Color everywhere. Everyone I talk to thinks the weather is unusual, but I don't think so. Yes, it's been warm, but what's a few warm days  here and there when it is interspersed with gorgeous 70+ degree days? Unlike some years when we've had a rash of freezing temperatures, to date I think the lowest it has been is around 40 degrees. Woo Hoo! This is the kind of weather that has caused millions and millions of folks to pack up and move to Florida! Well, I guess Disney World didn't hurt...

Everywhere you look some kind of blooming is going on. In the summer, not so much, but the first few months of the year are filled with color, color, color! Let's see what there is out there, shall we?

For a few weeks, this vine, with fantastic orange blossoms, covers poles, trees, and in this case utility lines.
Mostly it is gone now, and I suspect people who have it on their property aren't so fond of it, but when it is in full bloom, this orange lover goes crazy!

Many times before we've seen the tabebuia tree display, but to my eyes it never grows old.
How would you like to have that view out your front door? The yellow ones are beginning to bloom here and there, however mine has shown no signs to date. At the end of Appleton, there is a beauty:
I've got a little yellow in my garden, a  delicately stemmed perennial whose name I've forgotten.
Perennials are the ticket aren't they?

Some of the trees are getting their new leaves in that beautiful, almost chartreuse color:
Purple, let's talk about purple for a moment. It used to be I had no opinion one way or another about purple, but these days, I'm kind of mad for purple. I know at least one member of my audience is as well!
Gorgeous right? Then another little beauty:
Angela is mad for red, and at one time, I too liked it pretty well. Lately, I'm ambivalent, however, I still appreciate it in nature. How cool are these blooms on a succulent in Regina's yard?
Red berries are always nice this time of year on the Nandina:
I do think the camelias bloomed a little early, but if you look, you'll still see some beautiful examples around town:
Although, not technically a color, the white orchid trees coming out now are pretty darn spectacular!
40 feet trees covered in white blooms--oh yeah!

While chatting with Matthew on FaceTime yesterday afternoon, who btw, is heading to India on Sunday with Tom for a two week vacation, I told him one of my least favorite activities as a gad- about who happens to sell photography, is self-promotion. Yeesh! Hate it, but I must now send out an email to folks reminding them of FAVO tomorrow night. What do I keep getting myself into?

Happy day my friends; I hope that wherever you are you can be cheered by some winter color, either in person or while viewing my photographs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Daily Ride

I must tell you that the last 100 miles have been harder to come by than the previous 900. Currently I'm at 972, however, my busy schedule, coupled with some iffy weather days, has kept me from my daily bike ride more than I prefer. Nonetheless, I'm back in the saddle, and today let us look at a few things I've seen along the way.
It's been quite a while since I photographed a bottle brush tree in bloom, but I could hardly resist the bright red color. I can remember once I dodged so many bees I was sure I would get stung while getting the shot. Not surprising, there is a little bee in the air on the top left!

Yesterday I went to check on my eagles--you notice I call them mine--however, they were not there. Riding home along Gatlin Avenue, I took this shot of Lake Gem Mary, and although you cannot see our house, you can see our tall pine trees!
 My friend Maureen's front porch and door is "picture perfect!"
How do you like another neighbor's porch swing? Fantastic--right?
Who wouldn't love the color?

This morning it was foggy when I set out:
 This is another neighbor's boat house and dock with duck houses on the sides. Perhaps the ducks were just coming out for the morning?

Today was our final art salon group meeting, a fact that makes me a little sad because I've met some wonderful artists, as well as learned a few things while attending. Driving there today I saw a black cat sitting lakeside:
Of course I had to pull over and make my way down to the lake during which time Mr. Black Cat took off running.
Every now and again I take a picture that makes me laugh, and this one definitely qualifies!

Also, lakeside, there were a few snowy egrets and a couple of wood stork. Now, I do love birds of all types, but the wood stork has one of the ugliest heads ever created.
Up close, it is prehistoric looking! The head may be hideous, but when they take off in flight the beautiful black tipped wings and tail feathers are something to see!
Last week, while driving home with my prints along Ferncreek Avenue, I saw this wonderful reflection, necessitating another pull over.
I knew my sister Lisa would love the little turtle on the log who promptly jumped into the water after I took this!

Before meeting with my group today I hung a few things in our FAVO space, although really I should just let Bruce do it as he is much better at that sort of thing. Earlier, the artist who sketched me and my friend Todd during last month's event, posted the drawing on his blog here.  Ray and Jane Flude may find it particularly interesting. Well, not just them, I hope you will check it out as well!

If you will excuse me, I'm taking the rest of the afternoon off to read my book, The Bird Sisters. You're not surprised are you?

Monday, January 28, 2013

This is Why We Live in Florida

You've heard me bemoan the weather while doing a show often enough, haven't you? Well, for a nice change, I am praising the weather up, down, and sideways, it was that good this weekend. Perfect hardly does it justice, what with a beautiful bright blue sky overhead, a cooling river breeze, and temperatures in the middle to upper 70's all three days. Jealous yet? Seriously I can hardly believe how lovely it was.

To say that I'm grateful also doesn't do it justice because I worked for nearly two weeks getting ready for the show. Of course, not every moment of every day, but you understand. Not only does that mean the miserable ordering part, but I re-did my website, wrote all new price tags, cleaned everything, new baskets, new labels, new stuff. Well, at least some of it was new--others are those that I know usually sell because, after all, that's why we go to the trouble of doing a show--SALES!
Indeed, everything received a make-over. My worktable looks pretty good doesn't it? That was before my final paper print order came in at 4:30 in the afternoon on Thursday. Picking up about 85 prints, it took me until 10PM to finish signing and packaging. Meanwhile, Bruce changed his red-eye flight to an earlier one, arriving in Orlando long after I was fast asleep.

As you know, this is the first time I've done a show that began on Friday, and it wasn't bad at all. Leaving the house around 9, after packing it all in like a sausage, we made the easy drive to New Smyrna Beach, picked up our artist package, and found our spot which was super-duper, a lovely view of the river on the back side of the tent. Because we were there early, we took our time, making the very best display that we could. As in, more than 3 hours time!

Then, it was showtime!
I had Bruce re-hang the one wall exactly as it was at the market because I was so happy with his arrangement. Mostly it was retired folks, as pictured above, on Friday afternoon, as it was the first time ever that they extended the time to three days, and many locals were unaware of the change. Proves that retirees have more time on their hands to mosey any day of the week. Soon it will be us doing the moseying! Stay tuned.

We had great neighbors on either side, Mark and Wendy from Springfield, IL,
who make very intricate jewelry, and Terri from Manhattan, also a jeweler with a very interesting life, that's for sure!
Using that tool in her lap, she twists wire into fantastical shapes and designs. That's one of the nice things about doing a show, if you are lucky, you can wile away some of the downtime with your neighbors. I said Terri has an interesting life, so much so, that when selling jewelry on the streets of SOHO, she was once arrested for not having a license. There's more to that story, but that's the most dramatic part.

Out of 700 entrants, our friend, Mrs. Rachel Whited-Smith was the winner of the $500 drawing on Friday! Amazing right? Saturday, returning to the show with her mom and dad, sister, and new adorable husband Will, she shared the wealth between them. Too much!

Overnight, a local Boy Scout troop patrolled the grounds, sleeping when they could in pup tents.
Because we stayed in NSB, we went to the Saturday night artist dinner which is when they announce the prizes and there were a bunch, none of which were given to me. No worries, I never expect one.  Mark and Wendy decided not to go, and missed hearing their name called out for a $250 prize.

Using Bruce's motel points, we stayed at a brand new Hampton Inn on Flagler Street, about five minutes from the show site, just across the North Causeway bridge. What a great spot with many restaurants within walking distance, as well as the beach if you are so inclined. It is so nice, both Bruce and I can't wait to return when we are not working!

Shows always tire me out so we kept to our early bedtime which in turn means an early rising. Waking up around 6, I dressed and drove the few blocks to the beach for the sunrise. Drove? Yup! It was pretty chilly that early in the morning and I knew I was ahead of the sun's schedule!
Still pitch dark when I arrived. My sunrise photos were sadly, unremarkable.
What was super cool though is after parking in front of the motel, I saw the full moon setting over the river.
On the left is the drawbridge tower.  Neat, huh?

Aside from some nice sales on Sunday, the highlight was a group of drummers in terrific costumes. Before they appeared I thought surely there was a parade underway somewhere nearby, and I guess it was a parade of sorts,
because, as you can see, they had a full crowd dancing behind them!
Phone cameras everywhere! Later in the day, they came back by my booth, this time with two pint-sized drummers leading the way:
What do you think the chances are of me taking a crowd photograph and having not one, but two men wearing camouflage clothing? With stripes no less!

Bruce, after checking out of the motel, came to both work on his computer, and help me when needed. I was mighty glad he was there when I sold a big canvas and was doing my best to wrap it up quickly! Just as we were packing up, a woman came in to our booth, began looking at the vegetable prints, and told us she owns Casey's, and a new restaurant off Flager, called Cafe Verde where she would soon be displaying the five new prints she purchased from me. :)

Although I had a small amount of anxiety over how we could get the car to our space for loading, it all went perfect. Packed and ready to go just after 6, we arrived home an hour or so later, leaving the unpacking until today!

To tell you the truth, I'm a little tired this afternoon, but would I do it again if I'm accepted? You bet! All that product I was signing to sell? Check! 97 items for the show. :) I'm a lucky gal, aren't I?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two Blinking Lights

Really, that's all I saw of White Springs--two blinking lights on Highway 41. There may be more, and I bet there is, but my little visit was confined to that portion of WS. According to this article, the population in the previous census was 809, although a slight increase of population has been duly noted.

It wasn't always that way. My goodness, it was once quite the hot spot, and as I said yesterday, historic, or at least that is what the water tower claims. Here is why it once boasted 14 grand hotels:
Yes, you read that right- claims that either bathing, or drinking the water, would cure most anything, from arthritis to dandruff. Insomnia? You were at the right place. Is it any wonder I'm such a skeptic of the current health claims? I have no doubt that 100 years from now, people think we are just as crazy!

The structure is still standing, although there are no examining rooms, nor flowing water for that matter.
What was once a flowing spring, to the tune of 47 million gallons a day, is now merely a stagnant pond. Apparently it took about 30 years for :springs as a cure-all" to fall out of favor. But, while they were still a hot ticket, hotels for the throngs of tourists were built, and a few of them are still standing in the historic district.
The above house appeared to be vacant, as was the hotel, pictured below, most recently used as a bed and breakfast.
I wish the light were better on this one, but I was shooting towards the sun with no other options. At any rate, it is one odd structure, what with the rocks, bricks and the top being copper. Ugly, some might say.

You won't see this sight just anywhere:
The lady on the scooter was doing her best to keep up with, I'm presuming, her grandson on the skateboard.

Just across the street from this Monday afternoon Coke run, stands one of the oldest buildings in White Springs.
Recently straightened, and obviously scraped, it no longer does business as a general store. Instead it houses a museum of old things, the hours of operation I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is that when I walked around the corner and saw this:
I most certainly had to investigate. Look closely and you'll see a man in a light blue shirt with his back to the camera. Walking through the open gates, I called out, asking if he minded if I took a few photographs. Asking me what kind, art perhaps?, I said yes, something like that. Lo and behold, he said, "let me open the museum for you--we are working, but you are free to roam about." Hell yes, I said. Not really! Thanking him, I followed him through the big door, and he turned right around to get back to his work. Well now, what did I see?
Yup, all manner of gas pumps, signage, barber chairs, household stuff,
and, what I'm presuming was the old soda fountain:
Please note the health food claim on the PET ice cream sign! This was one of my favorite signs
because I always thought gas stations offered restrooms! A service indeed. :)

It was jam packed with other stuff, all of it interesting, and a good reminder of the adage: there's only one constant in life and that is change!

I was checking my watch for two reasons--I had not eaten since my bagel stop, and then too, Bruce was expecting me at the jobsite by 3:30. My visit to White Springs had to be cut short. I got back on the highway, traveling back the way I came. Any other day I might dream up a detour, but Monday I was on the straight and narrow.

On the outskirts of town I saw this place and figured that the owners of the realty sign have their work cut out for them:
Along the roadway, right near where I am standing, is a locked box accepting old toys and clothes. Someone had the nerve to leave this Care Bear and friend out in the cold!
My drive once again took me into downtown Lake City where I hoped to try another of the local establishments. Goodness knows there aren't many to choose from. I decided to see if The Cafe was still serving lunch at 2:30 in the afternoon. Please forgive the glare on this shot of their sign:
I would not have posted it EXCEPT for the fact that it was anything but what they claimed. I walked into a large room with some tables scattered about, a stage for performers, and at the end of the room a smallish bar which is where I headed. If not for one young man using his computer, I would have been the only patron. Originally the proprietor handed me a wrinkled, tri-fold, homemade menu, then decided perhaps I'd like a fresh one. Why, thank you. I chose a BLT on toast please. He said his son would make it for me. So far, so good. Then the man said he would be back soon, had to run home to get his wife. Okay. Waiting on the sandwich, I began reviewing some of the photos on my camera.  After a fairly short time, out came the, pale as can be sandwich, minus both the browning and mayonnaise. It was cheap though. I'd have preferred some mayonnaise, however, I shut up and ate. Hunger will do that sometimes.

It was then that the "son" began talking to me, and boy did he talk, except he had a bit of speech impediment hampering my comprehension. What I did get from him is this:

  • 19 years old
  • Has lived in about eight, or so places
  • Has never met his "real father"
  • Quit high school, but is working on his GED
  • Thought the population of Florida was 100,000
  • The reason for the moves was, I think, his older brother's dad was running from something?
  • While living in upper Michigan, he claims they could see the smoke from NYC on 9/11
  • He was bullied by the kids at school
So, all in all, a pretty sad life if you ask me. Along with his speech problems, everything was spoken in a monotone. He agreed to a photograph, thanking me for not using a flash.
"The Cafe", has only been open since October, so maybe they are still working out the kinks. Let's hope so, for all of their sakes.

Mr. Bruce, as is usually the case, still had more work to do when I arrived leaving me with time to read the newspaper. Offering to let him take over the driving, he claimed it was pretty nice having a chauffeur. We pulled into our driveway about 6:45 after an uneventful trip home.

While I was fixing some supper Bruce turned on the television, settling on Paladia. First there was a rock and roll show, followed by, At Home with Daryl, or I think that is the name. His guest happened to be Rumer, a female British artist, who it just so happens is on my iTunes, courtesy of Matthew. Great show, and just when we thought we both couldn't stay up for one more minute, Sade's latest concert came on, and was it ever super my friends. Cherish the Day for sure!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Richard Gere Visits the Market!

Have I got your attention yet??

I took this photo of my friend Ken during Sunday's market, mostly because I thought it was unusual that he was wrapping soap at the market, rather than at home. Actually I took another one first, but he asked for a shot to remind him of his youth:
Jim and Ken began selling soap, first at the Winter Garden market, followed by Lake Eola, only about a year ago. To say they are successful is an understatement. So, what does that have to do with Mr. Gere? Well, I sent the photo on to Jim, who answered on Monday. I'll let him tell you what happened:

By the way, we had a celebrity customer Sunday.  Richard Gere and his wife bought some soap.  I thought I recognized him but wasn't sure.  And, he realized that I did.  His wife, actress/model Carey Lowell was with him.  She had gained some weight.....not fat, but just a bit chunky.  I googled them this morning and Miss Lowell is quite beautiful when trim.  Mr. Gere had a great physique, was wearing a NY shirt (small logo of some NYC boating group, very discreet).  But, they both look so average that they easily blended in with the crowd.  He loved the soap but his wife was only mildly interested.  He asked for our card and asked if we would ship to NYC.....of course, we will.  (By the way, he bought our "Florida Sunrise" soap, which is our top seller....essence of orange)
  
Apparently, we have arrived and I missed it. According to his follow up email, it was around 2:30 in the afternoon so it's a good possibility I was making a bathroom run about then. Drat--that could have been fun.

I read that email on my phone Monday afternoon while touring about White Springs, Florida, which is a very small North Central Florida town with a big history. I'll share that tomorrow because the morning was so busy I don't want to get ahead of myself.

So, after doing both markets over the weekend, I had the great pleasure of driving my husband to Lake City where he has both an Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse nearing completion. There are practically no words to describe the differences between Lake City, FL and Santa Monica, CA that's for sure. How he's managed to work in both states is a subject for another day.

Leaving the house at 6 in the morning, the 150 mile drive was pleasant, especially after the sun came up. These old eyes are not happy driving in the pitch dark! Driving along it dawned on me that I probably wouldn't be getting much in the way of landscape photographs because there is a lot of brown going on after a few cold snaps, but in Lake City there isn't a whole lot more to photograph so what's a girl to do?

Dropping him off at the job site, I made my way to the little downtown thinking perhaps I could find a local to tell me what there is to see. Quite a long time ago someone told me that there were some tobacco barns located in Lake City covered in graffiti that I might find interesting. Lo, and behold, as I was driving Highway 41 towards downtown I saw them off to my right on a side street. You be the judge of whether I was interested:
Not so much is the answer, however, the portable potty was intriguing.

Parking along Main Street, I went into Rupert's Bakery,
where I was greeted by Tom, who unfortunately was missing two of his bottom teeth. It was a serious time warp for sure. Even this mannequin was a bit weird:
At any rate, I met Beverly while I was having a cup of tea and a bagel, which, despite asking several times to have it toasted very dark, was pale as can be. 

Beverly was a large woman who came in after me, stooped and walking in a fashion that is hard to describe. I learned she has 19 grandchildren, many of whom are in their school bands, that Sunday evening they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, and in bad news, has both a breast lump and frequent urinary infections. I'll spare you the rest of the details, however, I did learn about Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park located 14 miles outside of town. Now, I had a destination....

Except, knowing me, you've probably already figured out that I took some side roads along the way, never actually making it to the park. My first detour was to a small park called, Falling Creek Falls Park, which was pretty well deserted. Hopping out of the car, I made my way down the boardwalk to see the falls, except there were no signs and when I came to this, I didn't know which way to go:
Deciding on the right hand pathway, I did come across the falls, though believe you me, they were not much. As there was really not a soul there but I, my time there was brief! Bruce is always warning me to be careful in these kinds of situations and his words ran through my mind. 

What turned out to interest me more was directly across the street; a tiny cemetery from the 1800's:
I had to see it up close! I told Bruce later how nice the headstones were, which is slightly puzzling to me because I've seen much newer headstones in much worse shape than these. 
Of the twelve or so markers, about six of them were for children who died anywhere from one day to nine years after their birth. Thinking about S. C., wife of D. J. Rivers, I couldn't help but think of just how young many people died back then. Here I was, aged 59, standing in front of a 41 year old woman's grave. Need I say more?

Back on the main highway, I saw a sign for "Little Shoals", which I couldn't resist. Pulling onto the property I discovered there was a 3.5 walking trail leading to the little shoals which seemed a little more than I had time for. Instead, the helpful worker told me I could drive up the road to the "big shoals" park and hike to see the whitewater from there. Much better....

You know how it is when you are going somewhere new and the road seems long? Well, the sandy road leading to the park seemed that way to me, carved as it is between a pine tree forest. Parking my car in a nearly empty lot, I read the signage, finding out that the yellow marked trail, approximately a mile and some change would take me to the whitewater which, frankly, I was anxious to see. 

I set off amongst the trees and palmetto--actually the trail is called the Palmetto trail, and for good reason, as they are everywhere. 
By now those unfamiliar with the area may be wondering just what the heck I was going to see. Well, here's what I was going to see:
The Suwannee River is famous for being the theme of our Florida State Song, which has come under some serious scrutiny in recent days. There are some who find it insulting, and want it changed...I'll let others decide that controversy!

As you can see in the above photo the water is indeed very dark, actually not black, but deep, deep brown which if you're still with me later in this post I'll show more clearly. As I walked in the silent woods I came across this which I found quite interesting:
It is hard to imagine this river getting so high as to wash away a bridge, because, it is, by Florida standards, down there pretty far!

Surprisingly, I saw only a few birds, mostly circling vultures in the distance, as I walked along. The only sounds at that point were my shoes rustling the leaves and the sound of my jeans rubbing together. It was that quiet! After a time though, I heard the rushing water, long before I saw it. When you are walking in the woods, it is like time stops. I had no idea how far I'd walked until I actually came to the viewing area.
And, here are those Big Shoals:
How in the world alligators could hang around this area is beyond me...they like water at a much slower pace!
Actually it was quite thrilling to see the only white water in Florida, plus the sound was glorious!
The above photo is an attempt to show you how far down it was from where I was standing. Fascinating to see, in this closeup, just how much the water changes color with movement:
Duh! They don't call it whitewater for nothing! The only people I saw on this little excursion was this family across the river:
I wonder if the little boy was searching for fossils, which, apparently, are fairly common in this area?

Mostly on my way back I couldn't wait to use the bathroom--I definitely should have used the facilities before embarking on my little journey!

After that was out of the way, I walked over to the canoe launch area. Many, many years ago, Bruce and Jonathan took a Suwannee River canoe trip with some other men. Bruce told me later that they in fact did canoe through this area, carrying the canoe along the shore when they came to the rapids, pretty much where the people are standing in the above photo. The definitely did not launch at the Big Shoals area, and after seeing it, I wondered just who would want to carry a canoe down these steps,
Followed by these steps to put their boat in!
You'd have to be mighty strong to accomplish that! 

Heading out the way I came, I got back on the highway to the little White Springs downtown, or whatever they call it....

Tomorrow, I'll show you what I saw there--some really interesting things, however, I'm sure by now you've had enough for one day!
Just thought I'd throw in our State Bird for good measure! :) Not quite a movie star but....

You Just Never Know