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.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Football Test

 People in Britain used to talk about something called the "cricket test" (a controversial phrase coined back in the day by Conservative politician Norman Tebbit) suggesting that if you were an immigrant and supported your country of origin instead of England at cricket, you were deemed in some minds not to be really British. Well here we have the football test, as exemplified by hubby yesterday. The Buffalo Bills were playing a Florida team, the Miami Dolphins, in a match the significance of which was unclear to me but evidently extremely important. "Who are you going to support?" I asked him. He looked at me as if I was mad. "The Bills of course, what did you think?"  And he spent the afternoon deliriously thumping the air and screaming "Yessssssssss!!'  Observe the numbers below. The Bills earned 56 points! 56! Wow! Even I know that's one for the history books (The fish (sic) did get a few more later but the Bills still won magnificently.)

I'm happy for the Bills, who have some of the most loyal supporters in the country, who turn out to cheer them on in the most evil western New York snowstorms. They haven't had much good fortune over the years, though at least they were saved the ignominy of being sold to Canada. Now Bills fans can dare to hope that they might - just might, reach the Super Bowl. There are still some obstacles on the way but explaining them is above my pay grade.

So I can't blame hubby. I'm not about to start supporting the Tampa Bay Rowdies instead of the Red Devils either. Of course we're talking about proper football there. Those two sides are never likely to play each other. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year from the Garden

 New Year's Eve has sort of crept up on us - with no socialising to speak of,  I almost hadn't realised we were there - just time to stick a bottle of bubbly in the fridge so I can sip it in solidarity with friends far away. No one around here has had time to do much else in the past few days than sit grimly 24/7  at their computer screens waiting for possibly mythical vaccination appointments to free up. Florida, in its wisdom, sprang the news on us that, unlike most other states, it had some vaccines available for us of a certain age group. One friend was inordinately lucky to grab an early appointment before too many people heard about it. They are using a system normally set up for booking tickets to pop concerts and like pop concerts, the vaccination events (sic) have so far sold out in thirty seconds.  We will probably still be sitting pathetically glued to our screens this time next year.  But let's forget about that for a bit and celebrate a little horticultural lookback over the past few weeks. (I confess the garden's been a bit neglected of late - well it has been chilly, though not up to western New York standards.) 

Florida is different. There are weird and wonderful things in the garden I'm only just beginning to get to know. Witness this collection of bizarre fruits. Top left a balsam pear - normally attached to a ratty-looking but tenacious vine that inches its way everywhere it's not meant to be. Followed by a ripe balsam pear with lurid red seeds, like something out of a sci fi film. And to the right, two calamondins, far too sour to eat raw but they smell delicious and if you stew them with some sugar for a while make powerfully-flavoured preserves. 

Out of the blue, a monarch caterpillar perched on Florida's version of milkweed. He disappeared after a couple of days. I like to think I saw him fluttering past.

The new blue sky vine threw out one gorgeous flower - in December.

(It actually has a few more now and is going great guns.) And one of the team of giant lilies my friend kindly donated a couple of years ago suddenly brought forth.

Sadly the flower had a brief life. Too heavy for its stem, I found it lying forlornly on the ground. Some kind of support is in order should its companions follow suit. It did survive for a bit in a vase.

Though after a while the strong, strange, slightly-off scent drove us to ban it from the house.

Less spectacular but perhaps even more of a delight was this little thing.

That had somehow grown out of concrete but still looked pretty chipper. That's the spirit! Let's hang on to it for a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Let's Have a Fun Florida Christmas

 Let's count our blessings. The lady at the checkout at Publix supermarket said "Merry Christmas" not "Happy Holidays".  And unlike Easter, we'll actually be able to get to church, although we had to make reservations way ahead of time, have to get to the Cathedral half an hour before and stand in line, masked up,  to be checked off, sit where we're told to sit and so on. But it's so much better than doing it virtually.  

  Sadly no big family Christmas, though there'll be enough zoom sessions with various sets of relations to make it seem almost like a string of parties.

   We actually got our tree in time this year so didn't have to make do with a straggly one.

Here it is, being strapped on top of the Volvo. What Volvos were made for of course, though they wouldn't expect 80 degrees and palm trees.

Having said that, the local paper is threatening "polar chill weather" (60 degrees or so, going down to, horror of horrors, 38 overnight) for Christmas Day, so we probably won't be having a picnic on the beach but we might manage a walk. That's after roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (turkeys are so last month) and wonder of wonders the German deli not only stocks  British bangers  but also goose fat - roast potatoes! Hurray! But sadly no chipolatas.
 And of course, here, Christmas has its own Florida touches. Though where Santa on an elephant comes into it I'm not sure.

Someone must have sold the street a job lot. A couple of houses down...

There was another one! 

Around the corner, he'd arrived by helicopter.

But a bigger fad this year seems to be Santa flamingos.

They are everywhere, including the city arboretum.

And by gosh, they're saying Merry Christmas! That's Happy Christmas of course, to my British friends. Have a good one!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Essential Workers?

 So the vaccines are going to come rolling in soon - let's pray it all goes smoothly. I fear an unseemly row over who deserves to get one first. I can't help thinking of people wrangling over the too few lifeboats on the Titanic and wonder if this might be replicated in the long lines that will undoubtedly form at CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies. (Especially if they prioritise over 65s. That's most of Florida's population. Well almost.) These sort of things can bring out the worst in people. I note that a certain 30-something Congresswoman had herself filmed getting her vaccine on social media. Well good for her - no one wants anyone to get seriously ill. But hang on a minute, did I get that right? Who should the first, precious vaccine shots be going to? Elderly, vulnerable people in nursing homes?  Nurses and doctors and carers?  Homeless shelters?  Essential workers? All those people without whom daily life couldn't go on and who willingly put themselves at risk - bus drivers,  teachers, workers in food factories and supermarkets,  police, politicians.... politicians?  I suspect there are those who take the view that there are few less essential workers in this world than politicians. But it seems they are first in the queue. Perhaps they think they are setting a good example. Oh dear, with some people that might have the opposite effect. I hope there won't be a backlash.