(See below). My friend tells me that if and when you actually get the thing to open up, you can take as many papers as you want. America is obviously a very honest country. I finally plucked up the courage to try one again and sure enough I could reach in and collect a pile of papers. The only trouble was, they were last week's. I extricated the only current one from where it was stuck to the window. I suppose it's OK to do that but I felt a little guilty.
There it was, in the sandy dust which passes for soil next to our drive.
But who made it?
A flock of ibises had descended on our street and were busy rooting around in the grass and chuntering to each other in tones vaguely reminiscent of those funny robots in Star Wars. With their long legs and long curved beaks they look excitingly exotic - one of the things that makes Florida a different world. Anywhere else, it would be pigeons but these seem so much more glamorous, even when photographed through one of those filmy windows that's supposed to keep out the sun.
Proof no (#) 946577348 that I am a foreigner. I finally plucked up the courage to use one of these machines (actually not these very machines but the one outside the YMCA) to buy a newspaper. Americans, of course, have grown up with them. Literally, if you look at the state of some of them.
It should be easy. You put in four quarters (the largest coin and simple to spot) and you get your paper. So that's what I did. The money all fell in with a nice clinking sound but then I found my nemesis.
"Pull" it said. But what do you pull? Is it the knob or the handle? I made a poor choice, as Americans say and pulled the knob. Wrong. By the time I realised I should have pulled the handle, the thing had seized up. It happily swallowed my money and no amount of pleading, begging, banging and kicking would make it cough up the paper. And yes I did check to see there were actually papers in it, as a friend suggested helpfully afterwards. I was able to work that out for myself.
Determined not to be cheated (a dollar is a dollar after all and it's the principle of the matter) I marched into the local newspaper office, which immediately made me feel nostalgic for my old days as a hack. They were very kind and gave me a paper. I asked if there was any way I could get the paper by some other means, apart from having it delivered, which wouldn't make sense as we aren't here for long enough. Were there no corner shops or newsagents in America? The receptionist said there were such things as "convenience stores" that might sell newspapers. I will have to seek them out as I'm now phobic about losing any more of my money to the maw of the yellow peril. My friend consoled me with the interesting information that lots of Americans find the things sometimes seize up on them as well. They are obviously more patient than I am.
This little egret in the supermarket/grocery store car park/parking lot looked a bit lost and forlorn. As a foreigner in a strange country I often feel like that too. And I know just what it feels like
It was the Epiphany yesterday. Well not really of course, as the Epiphany is supposed to be on 6th January - the twelve days of Christmas and all that. As I have remarked previously our local cathedral, which is coincidentally called Epiphany Cathedral, should be able to work that one out if anyone can. But no, Americans have been deemed too lazy to go to church on a weekday, so they've bumped the feast to the Sunday. To be fair, they do this sort of thing in Britain too.
After the Mass, everyone shoots off to the French bakery, where there is some unseemly jostling - queues tend to be long and since the advent of the French bakery, no one in this bit of Florida bothers to make their own pudding or pastries any more. The goods on offer grow ever more delectable, though the delightful owners know their clientele and offer some things, such as alligator-shaped bread, which you probably wouldn't find in most parts of France. Sunday saw the customary display of French Epiphany tarts, the Galettes des Rois.
And we haven't quite missed all the Christmas lights. Florida, in its own Florida way, is good at Christmas lights, if you can suspend a little disbelief. Here are the palm trees along Venice Avenue, all decked out in strange, headless wonder.
Sadly, though, the light display at the arboretum had been turned off for the season. Remember it from last year? I was sorry to miss that and thought it a bit of a poor show to turn it off the day after New Year. But never mind. I discovered another interesting display, which seemed to be concentrating on the wonders of the natural world.
With special emphasis on Florida's own beloved fauna
And various things sea-related
The blue water was a nice touch
Maybe this is meant to be one of the notorious Burmese pythons currently laying waste to the Everglades
And of course there had to be one of these - but what's that behind it?
See below. I'm not sure where he fits in but this chap is more like it.
Here's a little taste of the New Year's Eve fireworks on the beach
I found a nice peaceful spot to watch, in the company of a grandma and two small boys excitedly blowing party trumpets. We got chatting and one of them looked at me earnestly and asked, "Did you arrive from a foreign country".
Meanwhile, here's another shot of the headless palms.
And a classic Florida front garden Christmas spread.
At least in this one, Santa isn't wearing beach gear.
And here's a rather lovely crib scene in someone else's front garden.
Make the most of it. Soon it'll all be gone and time to get ready for the next big seasonal extravaganza. Though if we're talking about Easter, we've got plenty of all-too-real bunnies here, busily munching on my flowers. They're worse than the western New York deer. If it's not one thing it's another.