Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Funny Old World

I sometimes miss the good old British sense of humour. A friend from Blighty sent me an extract from a phone-in programme that involved a man going on about chocolate mint biscuits and never getting to the point. It's far too complicated to explain in a few words but suffice to say I laughed till I cried, loving the sheer British-ness of it.  
   It's not that Americans don't have a sense of humour - we can laugh at each other's jokes - but it's not quite, not completely aligned with ours. I can't put my finger on what's different - perhaps a sense of irony, a certain subtlety, I don't know. Possibly American humour can be a little too obvious and in-your face. I sometimes have conversations with American friends and make an off-the-cuff remark that's intended to be ironic and not at all serious and find they've taken it literally and are giving me worried looks. 
   I don't know if Americans would find the biscuit sequence funny - well for one thing, they wouldn't understand "biscuit". To an American, a biscuit is akin to a giant mutant scone. But then a lot of them do love Monty Python - plus here I go again, generalising, as hubby is at pains to point out. "Not all Americans think the same way!" He understands British humour but he's an honorary Englishman. (And he laughed at the biscuits too.)
  Having said all that, I was strolling down our high street, aka Venice Avenue and saw this sign.

Now that made me chuckle. But then it was outside the Irish pub.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Time to Cool Off

 And here's Bree having her shower. Interesting that even Florida horses grow fuzzy winter coats - not as thick as those up north but still fuzzy. So they tend to get sweaty. This winter has had its warm spells - the photo was taken back in January although we repeated the process yesterday - and Floridians are shaking their heads and saying there have just been too many of them for the time of year. And this week it looks as though summer's returned again.

 It is however a blessing for people coming from up north for a few days' sunshine. You can't please everybody.  Here's someone else at the stables finding her own way of cooling off.

 The problem with year round summer is that you're never completely off the hook when it comes to gardening. The weeds are still growing, though a lot of trees are bare, so it's not true to say there are no seasons at all. But I do sometimes find myself missing those bright, cold, mornings in England, a walk across frozen fields, crunching underfoot. Then I think of shivering at bus stops and the quay where I used to pick up the Thames river boat to take me to work and I think, yes, sometimes I miss those mornings but not often. And as for shovelling snow in western New York, the less said about it the better. That I don't miss at all.

Friday, February 7, 2020

After the Storm

Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

**UPDATE!** Definitely a lump of coral, as I'm told by our local expert. A nice specimen, he said. Well in Slovenia there is a saying "the blind chicken finds the grain.."  I just call it beginners' luck.

A hit-and-run storm blew in last night. Blink and you missed it,  though it caused a lot of damage in "the south" (that is north of us!). Fortunately the worst that happened to us was the outside dustbin blowing over, though the rain came down like Niagara Falls. 
  The beach this morning was exhilarating

The surf doesn't look that spectacular, though it made a lot of noise and the wind nearly blew my ears off. And it was mercifully free of dog walkers, though pelicans and seagulls were enjoying being blown about by the gusts. Various debris had ended up on the beach, including several coconuts

And this mysterious object

 It was about 6 inches long and weighed quite a bit. Here's another shot of it sitting on our drive.

And here's the underside.

A lump of coral? A bone? A fossilised mushroom? Who knows?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Last Day of Christmas

Well in some traditions it is, 2nd February being Candlemas. It's an excuse to include a Christmassy photo, which I forgot to post before.

The crib at Epiphany Cathedral (now dismantled, alas) I noticed was in the style of an old Florida farmhouse, with sloping roofs over a porch to keep cool in pre-airconditioning days. I don't know if that was deliberate.
  We have finally had a big dump of rain, so we can get in a wintery mood for a few days. It's funny how permanent Florida residents greet colder weather with statements like,  "Great! At last I can wear jeans/a scarf/ a down jacket/ a woolly hat!" People up north would think they were mad.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Good Beach Walk Spoiled

Dateline: Venice, Florida

It was an idyllic early morning on the beach, sea and sky mingling in perfect muted colours. The pelicans were flying 

Bouncing around on the water

 And busily scouting for fish

 There were shells for the taking, a gentle breeze, hardly anyone around until....

Oh no - not again.These dog walkers were even more brazen than usual -

Me: "Do you know dogs aren't allowed on the beach?"
He: "Yes"
Me: "Do tell me because I'm interested. How is it that rules apply to other people and not to you?"
He: "Lady you sure are having a nice day aren't you?"

  It's the sort of thing that puts me in an extremely bad mood.  There is a dog beach very close by which anyone can use.  But a few people think they are entitled to special privileges.  I would love to be so entitled - be able to park wherever I want to, ignore the speed limit, for example.  There are so many dog owners in our town - if they all decided to flaunt the rules, where would we be? I've got nothing against dogs but sometimes it's good to know that the beach is one place where you can get away from them. The implication of my conversation with the chivalrous dog-walking gentleman this morning was that I should just smile and laugh and let him get on with it - a good neighbour in his eyes. But sometimes being a good neighbour isn't just turning a blind eye.  There is a woman I've seen many afternoons, sashaying along the shoreline in her bikini with her little dog running around and and I'm always the only person who says anything. And she always responds, "Thank you", and just keeps going. Because she knows perfectly well that no one is going to do a darned thing about it.  What on earth is the point of having a rule if it can't be enforced? So the brazen few continue to get away with it. OK so people taking their dogs to the beach is not of world-shattering importance - but still, it's the small things that make for harmonious living.  I find it hard to understand their mentality. I would be so ashamed.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Cheeky Ospreys

 Our feathered friends in Florida seem to have an inflated sense of their own importance. Yesterday morning I looked up at the - well, not sure you can call it a spire - of Epiphany Cathedral

 And noticed it was under occupation.

 I know you can't see them too well from my phone camera but I can assure you that the penthouse suite has been taken. Mr and Mrs Osprey were looking snootily down at the parishioners trying to avoid bumping into each other getting out of the car park - as happens in church car parks the world over. I don't know if the ospreys are long-term tenants but there's something amusing about birds just taking for granted that some structure has been built especially for them. It's also wonderful how they've adapted to the modern world.
  Florida birds seem to be particularly presumptious. Whole flocks of ibises, the size of chickens  frequently descend on the garden and last night I was kept awake by a screech owl annoyingly hooting just outside the bedroom window like an extra in a horror film.  No, we're the ones who ought to get out of the way. I read recently that, some hundred years ago, the Florida bird population, particularly the snowy egrets,  was greatly depleted because people were hunting them for their feathers, feathered hats being big business. When the fashion for plumes filtered down to the less reputable classes, the upper classes stopped wearing them - as tends to happen.  Which was very good news for the birds. Perhaps they're now getting their own back.

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Golden Beach Pea-Souper

Dateline: Golden Beach Florida

 You expect to see fog in western New York and of course there used to be a lot of it in London but a pea-souper on a Florida beach is something special. This was a morning a couple of weeks ago. Is there a Gulf of mexico out there? 

 It didn't deter this lone fisherman. Good of him to wear red.

You couldn't even see the fishing pier.

The waves were putting on a good show though.

And the wind had blown the sand into interesting patterns.

 In the fog, everything seemed more mysterious, like the footprints in the sand.

Yea? So what?

The fog crept over the land too.

Florida is full of surprises. But one thing you can be sure of - at least it wasn't freezing fog.