Friday, 16 February 2018

The More it Changes, the More it Stays the Same

Downtown Tampa in fog
It's February and time to start preparing for turtle season, although you would hardly know it by looking out the window. We were off on a four hour drive to St Augustine on the Northeast Coast of Florida for the annual Permit Holders Meeting.  There we get updated on turtle trends and recent research into marine turtles.

Fog on the beach 8 Feb

Meanwhile up north around the American Great Lakes it looks like this . . .
Glad this isn't me!!

On our drive home, we got some great fresh veg straight from the field.

Love my brussels
We are back to our local activities, including helping with a University of Florida (USF) honors class doing preservation work at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum.

Full meals & drinks at your seat!
A bit 'Wall-E" for me!
Next up we say two 'historical movies' and can recommend both -  "Darkest Hour"  at a normal theatre and "Post at our new cinema - Studio Movie Grill (SMG).  The SMG is a bit "Wall-E" for me - Futuristic happy humans too lazy to walk and living to consume - watch the trailer and see for yourself.

The house, jacked up to move, but collapsing, as I reported in my blog of 20 December 2017, just continues to collapse onto itself! Not sure what the plan is.

Our neighbours jet ski required a tow and more dredging is going on North of us - where exactly I don't know, but this guy has been commuting to work all week past my house.

We were visited by a Skimmer flock right outside our condo - along with a few royal terns.  Skimmers are my favorite (see post of 19 July 2017 for details and close-up pictures)! 

And suddenly the weather warmed up enough to swim in the Gulf on 10th February - amazing!

And that's all the happenings around here for now . . .

Monday, 29 January 2018

Sea Fog & Bombogenesis

Sea fog day one - hovered midair over the Gulf
In early January we experienced the Bombogenesis bringing cold weather to Florida for over a week followed by three days of dense sea fog in the middle of the day.

The initial blast of cold weather brought dry skin/chapped hands, low humidity and a hit for the economy of Florida which is dependent on tourism.

gift of mittens made
for wear in UK not FL!!
How I forgot what winter is like; my blood has thinned!

Next the humidity rose bringing in sea fog; it felt very cold and damp - kinda like Britain in winter.

What is sea fog or sea smoke? It is created by cold air passing over warmer water or warmer air passing over cooler water thus forming dense clouds of moisture. Apparently Sea Fog is also a 2014 South Korean movie thriller about human smuggling.

sea fog heavier on day two - January 11th 2018
envelops the whole beach!

What I have learnt this year is that humidity accentuates the temperature in BOTH directions - makes it feel hotter or colder!

Winter winds have also moved the stone crap traps around . . . these are a bit close to shore, but we have seen dolphins in this area fishing.

these traps are a bit too close to shore - blame the winter winds!

yes that's me hiding behind the turtle carapace (ie shell)
Our work with Sea Turtle Trackers includes educational activities. We'd been asked to do a presentation on loggerheads to the USF course on 'How to Read a Beach' led by our friend Dr. Tonya Clayton.  It was great fun with an enthusiastic group.

Tonya is author of  the book "How to Read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach" which describes the shifting sands of barrier islands amongst other things.

With this cold weather, what's a person to do but get on with whittling down their UFO pile?  First on the list was to bind a sample quilt that turned into a tablecloth for our London home .  .  . then on to some companion 'hot weather' top/bottoms for the outfit I finished in late 2017(see 23 November post).

It feels like a weight lifted getting the dahlia hung (see previous post) and now this done!

There have been some die-hard snowbirds on the beach (wrapped up) and at the pool (in swimsuits!), but just when we thought it was warming up, came another cold front and a wind chill advisory and freeze watch for night of 16/17 January! 

This cold snap cleared out our beach and also brought freezing rain followed by snow and black ice to North Carolina, so my flight was cancelled and my trip [slightly] north delayed.  A chance to catch up on some reading and maybe . . .

finish another type of project ...

<----Do you think this

will become this?  Let's hope so!

cloverleaf basket

Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 Unfinished Business in Weird & Wacky Florida

millions of cerith snails
We had appearances ...

there was the invasion of millions of live snails at Fort De Soto . . .

and disappearances.

One day the iconic Seminole water tower complete with seabird mural. was just gone. It was declared redundant and too costly to maintain..

Famous mural, but the tower is no more!

and finished off a few UFOs (UnFinished [craft] Objects for the uninitiated) - a form of appearance, disappearance and reappearance . . .  none perfect, but at least DONE!!!!

Started 7/2013 in London, finished 12/2017 in Florida

On the off chance you are wondering how I hung a round quilt, well I made a wider binding on the back and threaded some 1/4 inch plastic pipe (from Home Depot/B&Q) through it like so --

and my newest hobby - can you tell what it might be?

. . . drumroll -- Ta Da!!

As to the weather, the sun and warmth seems to have disappeared across the US, even here in Florida; I spotted this winter coat wearer on the beach today! It feels "raw"  and damp like a British winter day so those new mittens will come in handy even here in the sunshine state. Last year it was a record 84F/ 29C.

We are under a Wind Chill Advisory of 25 to 35 Degrees F (-4 to 2 C) this afternoon/overnight; the sky has gone a London winter's day grey with a temperature of 40F/4.4C this evening!! Time for some quilting to finish another UFO. :-)

Happy 2018 to all!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A Florida Christmas

Christmas in Florida!  Here's a Christmas tree decorated with oranges and advertising panels/branding from old-time Florida orange crates. Need I say more?

Driving around there are lots of lights and decorations.  One guy even plays Christmas carols and has mechanized statutes that move to the tunes.

But more frequently one hears the sound of an air blower (like a big fan) to keep inflatables of all sorts upright.  Weirdly, most only run their blowers at night, so during the day the decorations are a deflated blob on the lawn.

So here's the deflated decorations - an orangeish blob in the yard with a hard plastic Santa looking on.

And here's an exception to the rule - a fully inflated Santa almost as tall as this two story house - inflated during the day (complete with noisy blower and, out of picture, animated blow-up reindeer drinking from a trough)! Go figure . . .

But the best bit was a tour of 1920s homes in the section of St Petersburg known as 'the Old Northeast.' The homes are decorated inside and out for the holidays. For us, that kicked off a run of 6 Christmas parties in 8 days.
Serenaded by hand bells on the home tour

I even made the front page of our local paper. And have had more fun making little Christmas ornaments -  a good break from cleaning up the second water leak in 6 months (from the unit above this time). It took a specialist 3 hours to find the leak - thankfully not much damage, but lots of hassle moving furniture, pulling up carpet, repairing drywall.

Today Duke Energy turned off our power at 10:3 am to finally replace the wooden light pole that caught fire last summer (see post of 6 August 2017).

At 5:00 pm we heard a big bang and saw sparks as, having finished installing the new pole, they tried to restore power. At 8:06 pm with 5 Duke Energy trucks on-site our lights finally came back on! Felt like a hurricane rehearsal - let's hope not!

And for some more Florida fun, here's a local mishap.; it had been propped up for several weeks looking like it was about to be moved to a new location, and then one day . . .

. . . not sure how the house move turned into this disaster, but the plot of land is for sale.

See the back of the building up in the air and the front crushed?

Our weather has been all over the place - as cold as 45F (7C) and as warm as 82F (28C) with lots of wind. Tuesday morning we had heavy fog. But many beautiful sunsets.  

Hubby's sent out some Christmas letters, but I haven't managed to address any - yikes. But I do wish you all Happy Holidays!

I expect on our beach we will find a fir tree decorated with ornaments on Christmas Day. It's never dull living on the beach!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

MB "Downtown" or "City Center"

OK, quirky quilting friends in London asked to see what my "downtown" looks like - I think they are hoping for 1950's beach charm - what is known here as "Old Florida" but often means beachy version of slightly run down American wild west.

Here's our new modern city hall building and 'downtown' Madeira Beach (click for map) - don't blink and don't get too excited! We also have a new fire station, small library, chemist (AE=drugstore) and grocery store within walking distance.

Very quiet and breezy on Thanksgiving Day at a'chilly/damp' 73 F (22 C).

Madeira Way
Periodic Craft Market on Madeira Way

here's our beach 'Snack Shak' at Archibald Beach Park

1.5 miles down the road is out 'tourist shopping area' known as Johns Pass (in 1848 a hurricane blew through and separated MB from Treasure Island creating a break in the sandy barrier island first noticed by fisherman John and hence known as Johns Pass - so hence the 'fishing village' tourist area is known as Johns Pass).

That's it folks! But keep reading for my holiday 'taking a break' blog post below.

2x Happy Holidays

We have returned from the 1st Annual Sea Turtle Trackers End of Season Celebration Cruise (a record year for sea turtle nesting here in Florida) to Roatan, Honduras and Cozumel, Mexico and now ...

... it is what mini me calls the 'Silly Season' here in the USA with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the run-up to Thanksgiving (always the 4th Thursday in November with Friday as a day off as well) and Christmas. Two major family holidays so close together means it is hard to get most anything done other than conspicuous consumption of food and material goods!!

For my UK friends: Since Thanksgivig is the only 4 day holiday in the USA (where 1 in 4 move home long-distance in any given year), it is also the busiest travel weekend as many people have family get-togethers for this holiday. Each year some American asks me if Thanksgiving is celebrated in the UK and I gently remind them of the origins of the holiday.

So mini me has been busy crafting charity pillows (only 100 this year) and gifts. Now is the time for taking a blogging hiatus/rest!  Happy Holidays and all the best for 2018!!

Table topper /hot pad

wine bottle cozy