Ancients. Elephants in the Sea.

If you're ever in Florida's Venice/Sarasota area and want to try kayaking, or want to get on the water but didn't bring your boat, I highly recommend Easy Kayaking. It's run by a great guy named Terry Brawley who offers both guided eco-tours and boat rental. We did the tour first to get an idea of the area and ground rules and since have rented kayaks and gone on our own. The first time Lee went he got lucky and saw both dolphins and manatees. I went another day and only saw manatees. I say "only" but it was amazing. And I did bring the camera.

Kristiana, you asked me for a photo of a manatee. It's taken nearly a year darlin', but here they are....

Manatee spotting.

The guys in the boat (upper left) shout that manatee are coming our way. At this point, three ancient water dwelling members of the elephant family are little more than a shadowy area below the waves (upper middle of the photo).

Manatee approaching kayak.

I stop rowing and wait. In a few seconds the manatee are swirls and dark shapes in the water before me. Could I be so lucky? They seem to be heading directly my way.

Manatee and calf.

Suddenly they appear... sirenia of the sea... the ancient manatee... three graceful denizens of another world and time! Perhaps they are a family, mother, father and calf? If you look closely, you will see a little one swimming directly below the top one.

Manatees passing by.

They swam directly under my kayak. I am amazed by how innocent naive and vulnerable they are. Now I understand why the manatees are endangered.They are totally trusting.

Directly under my kayak.
Manatee and calf

These manatees are no more than a finger length away. I could easily touch her but don't. The ICW is habitat not a petting zoo. Terry tells us that nearly all the manatees in Florida have been hit and are scared from boat propellers. That just ain't right!

Before my close encounter, I did not know that manatees are the closest living relatives of the Proboscidea (elephants) and Hyracoidea (hyraxes) or that these sirens of the sea... I say mermaids... are thought to have evolved from four-legged land mammals over 60 million years ago. In other words, manatees are a treasure and because this beautiful, ancient, endangered species is by nature so trusting, defenseless and we bare all the greater responsibility to protect and watch over them.


Great Blue Heron's Day at the Beach

Great Blue Heron likes to people
watch when she goes to the beach.

The old man in the blue hat
likes to pretend she's not there.

Great Blue Heron finds this very curious.

Most people stare.

Great Blue Heron also likes watching the sunset.

It is her favorite things of all.


Mango madness

Mango madness

We drove to Pine Island the other day and bought 11 different varieties of mangoes at the farmer's market. We'd never heard of most of them so the grower wrote the name of each mango on its skin. There's a Beverly, a Choc, a Carrie, a Hatcher, a Keitt, Kent, Lancetilla, Tommy Atkins, Valencia Pride, a Wise, for which we could find no description, and a Nam Doc Mai, a Thai mango that is supposed to be the best of all. They will probably all ripen at once. That's the madness.

We also re-visited our favorite hurricane specter, a house in Pirate Harbor that was destroyed by Hurricane Charley back in 2004. More on that later and the manatees.


Amy Winehouse, RIP

Sorry it had to end this way.

Uploaded by RustlingRagazza on Jun 19, 2011

The last song Amy Winehouse performed in concert during her short life. Technically, she performed four days prior to death whens he joined her goddaughter on stage, but this was the last song she perofmed on her own
concert, for a large audience.

These are the original videos (copied many times by many) from Amy Winehouse's last ever concert held in Belgrade, Serbia on 18th June 2011. Rest in peace.


Days like this...

I have about zero energy for doing blog posts these days. Probably it's the humidity. I don't know. But here I am. Habit, I guess. I hate letting the top post sit too long. We have been doing some really neat things but I stop at the thought of putting photos and words together. However, just for the record, I went kayaking the other day and three giant manatees swam directly under my boat. I could have touched them with my finger, they were about two inches below the surface, but it wouldn't have been right. They are so innocent, ancient, and vulnerable.They swept by, graceful giants of another world and time. I did not want to disturb them. I took photos but haven't uploaded them yet. I knew at the time nothing would turn out but that didn't stop me. I'll get around to posting them eventually, along with an explanation so you'll be able make out the wonder.

Other than that, lots of walking on the beach looking for millions of years old sharks teeth. We've both found several. They aren't actually teeth anymore. They are fossils of teeth, teeth turned to stone. I'm told they are from sharks that lived anywhere from one to 25 million years ago. Neither of us has found any of the huge ones, just tiny teeth, but they are cool anyway. And I've been swimming a lot, or rather wading and sometimes bobbing on Pool Noodle. Me/we? I could as well say we because we do it all together but it's my blog so I. Anyway, the water temp. is anywhere from 80 to 90 degrees depending on, you know, the weather.

And we've been riding our bikes around South Venice these perfect summer day type days, days that feel endless because, you know what I mean, they are the way life really is at heart, slow sunny blue sky low key warm moist overgrown green and full of birdsong.


Murdoch and Media as Empire and Circus

Just watching the Murdoch media inquiry live on CNN and writing the blog post included below when someone shoved a shaving cream pie on Murdoch's face. LOL


Rupert Murdoch is the P. T. Barnum of the News Internatio­nal/News Corp media circus plus Mafioso boss. In case you don't know who Barnum is, he's the Barnum of the Ringling Bros/Barnum Bailey Circus and the guy who said, "There's a sucker born every minute"

Murdoch's formula of tabloid spectacle, fake news and propaganda backed by bribes, intimidation and criminal activity proves that that is still true, and here in America Roger Ailes, the head of News Corp, Murdoch's operation in the US, proves it with Murdoch's FOX NEWS. For too long these crooks have had the power to run politician­s, law enforcemen­t and play King Maker.

It is time to the flush this scum out of the system. They replaced truth and integrity with lurid spectacle and propaganda. Sadly, yesterday whistleblower Sean Hoare, the man who set the ball rolling on Murdoch Co., was found dead (murdered?) at his home. How many more victims have to fall before the public demands an end to this empire of thugs and clown henchmen?


Tropical Storm Bret is passing through the gulf tonight. It was pretty intense for awhile but, at the moment, has settled into a steady, moderate rain, rolling thunder and lightning. Seems we are adapting to the heat and humidity. We turn off the air at night and open up the house. It's hot but, other than a few windless nights, we're sleeping okay. They say that in August things really heat up so that will be the real test.

Full moon on Alligator creek.
But so far, I am really loving being in Florida. It's beautiful here. I am out taking photos all the time. And birds are everywhere so automatically that makes this my kind of place.


Barkie's Bad Night

Barkie in better days.
Poor Barkie. A bunch of humans got into a huge fight at his house last night. He probably hid under the bed the whole time they duked it out, threatening each other, screaming, yelling, crying. They were so loud I wouldn't be surprised if they also disturbed all the birds in the area as well as the raccoons and opossums. Opossums are especially timid. And surely Frida Kahlo the squirrel did not appreciate the ruckus though it didn't bother us. We were out on the deck staring over at his house through the dark like naked ghouls but Barkie, the poor bastard, was trapped in the house with those maniacs.

Finally the fight poured out into the street where we could see, whenever the fluky streetlight flicked on, several teenage girls circling each other as some guy yelled in a very loud voice.... "One punch. You get one punch. ONE!". Unfortunately at that point the streetlight flicker off again so we couldn't see who punched who but then one of the girls cried out, "Where are we going to sleep tonight?" and he yelled back, "At my house. Everybody into the car. Come on! Get in. Now! NOW!" The streetlight flicked on just in time for us to see them drive off. We haven't seen or heard Barkie this morning. I hope he's okay.


One down, now what about Murdoch and Ailes?

Just read this morning that immediately after the FBI announced an inquiry into allegation that victims of the 9/11 attacks had their phones hacked by reporters at News of The World, Rebekah Brooks, chief executive at Rupert Murdoch's News International, resigned her position.  Good, fine for a start but the bitch should be in jail.

But even that would not enough. The only way to slay this dragon is to cut off its head. If Rupert, Roger and James don't go to jail then, in spite of all the underlings who fall (are pushed) onto their swords and all the mea culpas of lesser underlings­, the Disinforma­tion Monster/Ki­ng Maker machine they have spawned will continue insinuating itself ever deeper into the heart of global media, government­s and society at large.

China to Tawan

Here's a fun one. 

Type China as your starting point

Type Taiwan as your destination

Read Step 48

Also, it's pretty funny that all 69 driving directions begin in English but the navigation points themselves are in a Chinese script.


Morning Peanut

The morning janitor has come sweeping through the theatre of my mind and requested that I move along so here's a new top post just to honor the passing of time and our incessant need for something new.

Frida Kahlo enjoying a morning peanut.


Rainy rain

Florida, and after some delay, it seems that the rains have finally begun.

Invest 96
Invest 96 is currently moving through the Gulf. According to  Weather Underground it has the potential for "tropical development". Here that meant all night rain and, before dawn, frogs, cicada and numerous other wonderfully bizarre sounding creatures singing their little hearts out. This morning the front of our swamp house on stilts is toe deep in water. Florida is in the sub-tropics but today is humid enough, misty steamy and gray enough that, combined with the magic of euphoric recall, it feels like one of my favorite rainy season days in Costa Rica.

It began clear and sunny, a great day for a hike, so we decided to go to the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge on the Caribbean, our goal being a certain secluded beach at the south end of the reserve. We biked to the trail head and launched on what turned out to be a grueling trek on coastal jungle paths. We had to backtrack a couple of times when trails died in impassable ravines and, once out of that fray, we slogged for miles up and down a gutted logging road that rain had reduced to bogs of mud and impossible slicks of red clay. Very slow going. Finally, after a testy little discussion on the merits of reaching the beach, we took a break on a pile of hand-milled teak slabs protruding from the vegetation. It seemed to be the site of an old manual sawmill. After lunching on mosquito, peanut butter and banana sandwiches in the gray afternoon light we, at least partially, returned to our senses and agreed that time had run out. Just after we started back it began to drizzle.

Cicada preparing to sing
By the time we got to our crappy rental bikes it was nearly twilight. Halfway back to Puerto Viejo it began raining.Then it got dark. Then the rain turned into a first class tropical downpour. The closer we got to town the harder it fell and the more crowded the road became. A few miles out, it was a circus of slow moving trucks and fast moving cars weaving through bicycles and buzzing mopeds carrying two, sometimes three people. Like us, they were dodging the trucks and cars while also weaving around hand carts and pedestrians hurrying through the rain. Everything and everyone was soaked and steamy. Luckily, headlights from passing vehicles illuminated the potholes and pools of water as well as those of us on foot and bicycle. It was so overwhelming that finally there was nothing to do but surrender to the exotic, insular, dangerous beauty of the storm. Then it was actually fun being a part of it. Of course, it helped that we made it back to the hostel alive.

As for Florida, I think we are finally acclimated. The temperature is in the 80s and it feels a bit cool. Barky isn't too happy today. It's the damn fireworks. People are still setting them off. Poor guy. He's a wreck.


Feliz Cumpleaños Frida Kahlo,104

In honor of the 104th anniversary of the birth of the very excellent surrealist painter Frida Kahlo, I hope you will enjoy this video montage of her work.

Frida Kahlo, July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954

Gracias siempre, mi amiga.


Battle Royale

Frida Kahlo savoring a peanut in her favorite palm tree.
The Great Peanut War of 2011 is currently raging here in our tiny dead end hamlet along Alligator Creek. I suppose it's my fault. After we settled in I started sprinkling peanuts around the base of the pineapple palm for Frida Kahlo and, at first, all was good. She came, ate a few and tucked the rest around the yard for later. Diego Rivera showed up shortly after I started putting out a seed mix designed to attract red-headed birds. No surprise. Squirrels love sunflower seeds. Then, of course, the very passionate Leon Trotsky made his appearance. A couple of days later we worried that he had died in a fall from the porch after a failed assault on a bag of peanuts. I'd foolishly left them by an open (screened) window. Since then we've watch him fall several times more, once after attempting to hurl himself through a screenless (closed) window. Perhaps another assault on my peanut stash, now in the laundry room, but who can know the mind of a squirrel? That time we heard his little claws scratching the glass as he slid down and into the bushes. Another time he miscalculated a leap after a rival and again launched himself into the bushes. He is a tough little dude.

Most recently the notorious clowns Larry, Moe and Curly joined the show. Now all five chase each other up and down the porch screens, drain pipes, over the roof, along electric wires, through the trees and around the yard but Frida Kahlo pays no mind. She comes when there are new peanuts under the pineapple palm, chooses one, licks it all over then scampers off to stash it in its own, unique secret hiding place. I don't know if she remembers where she puts everything but she repeats the ritual until all the peanuts are tucked safely away. As for the jokers? They are too busy fighting to notice.

Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky, Larry, Moe and Curly at it again.


Lemon Bay outtakes

I have a thing for

mirrors on the ground


that is where I found it.

You expect me to believe that?

And that is were I left it. Anyway...

I also have a thing for the letter H, aka h,

legacy of an acid trip in my 20s.

so I thought the Lemon Bay Cemetery

was pretty cool. It even provides moorage

for the H. H. Bill Anger.