Sunday, March 20, 2011

off to "the ding"

One of our favorite things to do while on vacation in Sanibel is to visit the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. We try to plan our visits to coincide with low tide, and a low tide near sunset is even better. The many permanent-resident and migratory birds fly in to feed on the exposed sandbars and then nestle into the branches of the mangroves to roost for the night.

I caught a shot of this large, white beauty flying toward me:

and was delighted when it came to rest nearby.

We drove along the shell-packed road at under the 15mph speed limit, stopping frequently to take pictures of the birds enjoying their dinner-time. The sun was setting in the west and it was time to return home. Another beautiful day in paradise.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

room: a novel

Vacation means lots and lots and lots of time to read. I love to immerse myself in wonderful books and travel to places and times both familiar and unfamiliar. Holding a book, turning the pages, letting my imagination go and "seeing" the characters and locations in the book is truly one of my most favorite pleasures in life. And sitting on our lanai, listening to and seeing the waves splash up onto the shoreline, makes reading on vacation in Sanibel even more delicious.

Sanibel is not a big place, but it has the most wonderful library - up to date and chock full of recently published books. Renewing our visitor's library card ($10 annually) is one of our first stops on the island. My record for books read on Sanibel is 15 in 4 weeks. I just finished book #11, with a week left to go.

Book #11, recommended by my friend, Wendy, who works at the library, was Room: A Novel, by Emma Donoghue. Wendy and another library employee both raved about this book and said I had to read it. What a treasure! This book quickly took my heart and is now one of my favorites. Here is the book's description, as taken from the jacket cover:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world.

It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack's imagination - the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe below Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held since she was nineteen - for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation - and she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Told in the poignant and funny voice of Jack, Room is a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child. It is a shocking, exhilarating, and riveting novel - but always deeply human and always moving. Room is a place you will never forget.

If you love to read, this is a book you should put at the top of your list.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

on the job!

Yes, we're on vacation, but I am on the job! Today was my annual trip to the Bonita Bay Promenade for the March Bonita Springs National Art Festival. As you can see from the above photo, the weather was perfect - low 70's, with blue skies and abundant sunshine. The crowds were also abundant - I had a hard time finding a parking space and I got there 5 minutes after the gates opened.

Security was out in force, but this guy was already sitting down on the job. Watching all the shoppers go by can be exhausting:

Actually, the security guard is a life-size polyester and resin sculpture! Pretty amazing.

Jewelry artist Jayne DeMarcay was again at the show. I love her work, but unfortunately, she only sells retail through art shows:

I did discover a husband and wife jewelry-making team from Springfield, Illinois who work with stones and laminated glass, creating interesting pendants and necklaces. We'll try to bring them in once we have some space available, perhaps in the summer.

Meanwhile, I purchased a fun shadowbox collage for myself, entitled "Cowgirl Rules":

The RULES state that cowgirls

  • tell the truth
  • cry when they need to
  • are true to their partners
  • ride fast
  • shoot straight

Love it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

breaking news from nana

Nana is happy to report that "boy parts" were seen during Katie's 20-week ultrasound this afternoon and that everything looks good. Paddington now weighs about 11 ounces and Katie is finally beginning to show a bit. She's feeling fine and she and Brian were off to Costco to do a little shopping.

Nana decided to head over to Zulily to see what was available for little boys today:

It's all about cars and trucks and fire engines...

Oh boy! this is going to be fun!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

it's a beautiful evening

The sun is setting in the west. The beach is deserted - even the birds seem to have left. It's a beautiful evening.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

a trip across the pond

While we're currently on the west coast of Florida, I decided to take a trip across the (Atlantic) pond to 1912 England, via PBS and Netflix. I'd heard wonderful things about the recent PBS Masterpiece Theatre series, Downton Abbey, and was able to see it through instant play on the laptop.

I was transported. The plots, characters, costuming and sets are all magnificent. The oldest daughter is probably about the same age as my grandmothers were in 1912, which makes the time frame much more personal for me. My maternal great-grandmother, known as Mommie to succeeding generations, was also a larger-than-life presence in her family, much the same as the character Dame Maggie Smith plays in the series. And while the series is all historical fiction, it is so beautifully produced that it seems quite real.

If you love to be transported to another era, get a copy of Downton Abbey and take a trip across the pond. It's not to be missed.