Friday, February 19, 2021

A Duckpond on the Beach

 Mercifully GB wasn't named on a recent survey of  the Ten Best Local Beaches. Good. People can go south to Caspersen - plenty of room there, or the dog beach if they're so inclined. We like our peace and quiet here. There are no cafes, fitness areas, interactive displays, souvenir shops, no, not even any lifeguards. But, guess what? There is a duckpond!

A duckpond on the beach! That was a surprise. The channel that goes out into the Gulf has gradually changed position and is now mostly closed in. I walked past and had a look at it the other day and did a double take. 

If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck....

It's very definitely a duck!

And there wasn't just one but several. 

I've seen ducks swimming off the beach in the sea once before, looking incongruous among the seagulls and pelicans. But now they have their very own pond. Wonders never cease.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Little Green Shoots

 Of hope - metaphorically speaking. The passion flower vine, which was ruthlessly decapitated by hands unknown last year, is making progress, painstakingly crawling its way along our ricketty wooden fence with an occasional spurt of glorious colour.

And amazingly the politically incorrect Confederate jasmine has thrown out a couple of blooms. Does it know it's February?

The chilly weather of the past few weeks has warmed up, though it's still very windy.

And, wonder of wonders, hubby and I got the Phonecall, (and the Text and the Email) all buzzing and beeping and ringing and vibrating in a simultaneous cacophony to present ourselves for our first Covid jab, or shot, as the Americans say.

  It was one of those days when I breathed a prayer of thanks that we're in the United States of America. After all the uncertainty and chaos of trying to sign up in all kinds of different ways, the event, when it happened, exemplified so much that's good about this country.  We drove to a redundant shopping mall,  requisitioned for the purpose - there was a natty little video on the website showing you exactly where to go - and joined a long, long queue that snaked all the way around echoing corridors, surreally interspersed with the remnants of happier days, shopping trolleys,  a former children's play area, signs pointing to stores long closed down. But the queue shuffled steadily forward, never stopping, everyone dutifully six feet apart. Every few yards we were met by a cheerful volunteer - Florida driver's licence? Great, awesome, now you can put it away - we shan't be asking you again. Consent form? Thank you - now just go that way, to that desk. Here's a number, someone will tell you what to do next and so on. And everywhere someone did. One woman was a discrepancy - evidently one of those who regularly turn up at the end of the day hoping for a left-over jab. A jolly paramedic explained patiently that, no, we don't do that. Then at the last stage in a vast warehouse of a room, stripped bare of all its tills and display racks,  we sat in neat ranks of socially distanced chairs that emptied themselves in strict order - Your turn now - go to number four - until finally a reassuring nurse in blue latex gloves holding number four aloft,  next to her serried rows of syringes of precious Moderna. She must have already done it hundreds of times but still ran through all the questions again with a smile and dispensed advice about moving your arm afterwards so it wouldn't ache. Then she wrote down the exact time the needle went in so we could sit in yet more neatly placed socially distanced chairs  for exactly fifteen minutes. 

  It couldn't have been done better but the weightiness of it struck me - that we were in the middle of a  - well, not quite horror film - but some dystopian dream. That is mass vaccination. Thank God for it but what times we live in.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Cup Final American Style

 Super Bowl Sunday is coming up, as I often say it's sort of the equivalent of the Cup Final. With the Buffalo Bills out, I suppose we will root for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - well they do have the same owners as Man United and they do have Tom Brady, currently one of the few American football players whose names I know. He is no spring chicken at 43 but handsome and said to be pretty good. (I admit that's a little like saying  Lionel Messi is said to be pretty good.)

  Tampa Bay is sort of  our local team, being an hour and a half or so up the coast. Hence this display in the supermarket.

And that wasn't all. There were chocolate butterfly cakes in the shape of footballs. 

And in different colours too. 

And if that isn't enough, you can eat a whole chocolate football. Yum. It's the 55th Super Bowl, hence the Roman numeral.

And here's a pie in the shape of a football pitch, I mean field.

I think they are expecting people to have a lot of Super Bowl parties at which I'm sure they'll be socially distancing.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

It's a Bird World

 Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

A gorgeous morning on the beach - chilly by Florida standards but who's complaining? In Cattaraugus County it's 19F and scattered snow showers. 
I ambled along picking up some pretty shells, looking at fishing boats on the horizon and then spied a typical Florida beach scene.

The hopeful heron was waiting for handouts - as they do.

He had no luck while I was watching but stuck around patiently,  completely ignored by the fisherman, for whom, no doubt, it was old news.

I think they call it coexistence.
Meanwhile, a few days ago, I heard raucous screeching and looked up.

To see a bunch of parakeets partying on the cable. That surprised me. I thought they were all in southern England.

It appears to be nesting season here and the cathedral ospreys are making themselves comfortable again on the conning tower - sorry, spire.

And the ibises continue to land where and when they want, in this case strutting along the pavement on Venice avenue.

I like the way they cluck contentedly to themselves, happy in their own world.
As to the question of who runs Florida. I can tell you it's the birds.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Wild Surfing Scenes

Dateline: Golden Beach, Venice, Florida

  Rewind to last weekend and a sunny but spectacularly blustery day. We had driven up to the jetty to watch a sailing race and got caught up in a queue of cars shuffling their way along. There was no sailing race - they would have been crazy to leave harbour - but the surfers were out and everyone wanted to see them. The sea was thundering over the end of the normally tranquil jetty.

And the surfers were like so many ants in the water. 

 There were kitesurfers

and even a daredevil windsurfer racing back and forth.

Ever hopeful, ever prepared, a perpetual eye on the marine forecast, they had no doubt come from far and wide, jumping into their campervans and identical black wetsuits and like an army of commandos converging on the tiny jetty car park where waves crashed against the (probably imported) rocks in a most un-Florida-like scene.

Word had got around - it wasn't California exactly but impressive for the Gulf Coast version  of Venice.

Afterwards the surfers hung wetsuits out to dry, swaying quaintly from a tree.

No doubt happy they'd seized the moment. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Moonlighting Lawyers

A funny thing happened the other day. You know those absurdities you get confronted with when you read a paper online? In amongst the real news, what there is of it, you get ads for all kinds of things like cures for constipation and nail fungus (what is it with nail fungus? It crops up everywhere.) Plus lurid doctored photos of celebrities with captions on the line of "You'll be amazed to see what she looks like now!" or alleged holiday snaps with, "This woman was taking a photo when this happened..." Of course they want you to click to feed your insatiable curiosity about what "this" was and then of course they've got you. I don't usually look very hard at the photos but this one caught my eye. The caption was "The most successful lawyers in Nokomis" - Nokomis being a town just to the north of us, here on the Florida Gulf Coast. 

  What a miracle. We all suspect we have doppelgangers. Well here were dead ringers for the Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) and his assistant Michael Carrick. Well, on closer inspection, the photo  actually was of Carrick and OGS, with their wives Lisa and Silje. So far as I know, none of them is a lawyer and I doubt any of them frequents Nokomis, Florida. The admen must have just dredged the internet to find a suitable photo. Do they know they've been rumbled?  Don't they know even Florida has Man United fans? The Glazers come from up the road in Tampa. The lads had better watch out. They'll soon be wielding calls about dodgy accident injuries from litigious Floridians. 
  There might be an explanation forthcoming if I click. Perhaps the foursome have day jobs after all.  Perhaps they are getting their undercover law degrees in the pic. But I am not going to click.

 While on the subject of the lads above. I can't resist appending the following: 

As I said to hubby, we probably have just 24 more hours to enjoy it.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Let's Be Grateful

 Pretty scenes at the jetty yesterday on a chilly January day by Florida standards. There was one diehard surfer in the water, paddling along in a wetsuit. The sky was like a design magazine, full of trendy grey and yellow. A few people who'd hoped to come to Florida for some winter sun were in denial, braving the elements in shorts and T-shirts.

But there are worse places we could be. Even if we still can't manage to get in line for vaccines, the places all being taken by Canadians - so my neighbours grumble. The governor having made the mistake of doing an Angela Merkel and virtually saying that anyone over a certain age is welcome to get a vaccine in Florida. I wondered why there were so many private jets landing at the airport at the weekend. The latest villains are the gamers who allegedly have faster internet connections (and faster wrist action) than normal people and are snapping up all the appointments. But we have to look on the bright side. How about a selection of good things about the present situation?
1) We are not in Washington DC. The sky has not fallen in. Our rubbish is being collected and we're getting our mail, even if it's three weeks late. And that includes Christmas cards so we can have an extended festive season.
2) My neighbours are so shocked at recent events that no one is even mentioning politics.
3) I Zoomed the other day with distant relatives I hadn't seen for 40 years. It was wonderful. If it wasn't for all the Covid business,  I probably wouldn't have done it. 
4) The days are getting longer. Allegedly.

5)  (Best of all) I can talk to myself while walking around the supermarket in my mask and no one notices. let's be grateful for what we can get.