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.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

On Homesickness...

Dateline: Golden Beach, Florida

An observation...
Whether I'm in Florida or Western New York, despite both being happy places to live, I still get the occasional bout of homesickness for Blighty and the British way of life. Sometimes it can take just a tiny thing to bring it on. Like the time I glanced at the local paper back in Olean and saw the World Cup referred to in minuscule print at the bottom right hand corner of the sports pages, as the Men's World Soccer Championships. OK, maybe that wasn't such a tiny thing.
  This time it was the little word "carolers".

  In Britain, chaps like these are called "carol singers". Here, the expression is just a little bit different. Like "road work" instead of "road works", in the hospital instead of "in hospital" and so on. Yes, the photo is captioned "Christmas Carolers". I don't know why these seemingly insignificant differences have so much more of an effect on me than the obvious  words like "cookie" for "biscuit" , "sidewalk' for "pavement", etc. It's that almost unnoticeable difference that makes me realise I'm a foreigner and we are two nations divided by a common language. And I can't help thinking, "Why can't they just call them carol singers?"  But on the other hand, why should they?
Then I wonder how these little difference came about as the language evolved on each side of the Atlantic. Interesting.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 - What, Already?

The Blog is back in Florida, having spent a splendid family Christmas in Ohio, where there were vestiges of some odd-looking white stuff on the ground.

We've stayed before in this place called  Easton, which has a copious shopping district with a faintly British theme.

If you look very closely, you can see that the street sign reads "The Strand". Bond Street is somewhere nearby too. Though Easton tries hard to be London at Christmas, it somehow lacks the atmosphere of the real thing. It does, though, have an Irish pub (sic).

With an array of football (our kind) shirts and scarves

I didn't notice a Man United one. "Is this", I asked the barmaid sternly, "an ABU pub?" Understandably, she was a bit flummoxed.
 "Anything But United?" I added helpfully.
 Not wanting to lose a customer, she searched for the right answer,
"Of course!"
 Which of course was not the right answer. (Except after today's result I'm feeling a little ABU myself).
   It was in general a harmonious Christmas, though a certain family member, who happens for his sins to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan,  played the devious trick of gifting hubby and me Spurs scarves and taking us off to yet another hostelry, a den of Spurs fans,

to watch the Boxing Day action.

The Ohio Spurs supporters proved to be well-mannered and a little subdued, apart from when Harry Kane scored his magnificent penalty.

Some might say, of course, that they had a lot to be subdued about. (All right, I know, I can't talk.)

  And now 2020's crept up on us like a thief in the night. I notice that some Americans of our  generation have taken to celebrating "English New Year", as in sister-in-law's text, "Happy New Year! We're celebrating it in British time and having an early night!"
  My own Slovene ancestors had a weird superstition that whatever you did on New Year's Day, you would do for the rest of the year. Apart from exceptions like winning the lottery, I would think that it would be safest to stick to routine, boring things throughout January 1st, or you might get a little too too much of what you wish for.
Happy 2020 from Golden Beach!