Thursday, January 30, 2014

Just checking in....

Yesterday was a lost day.   The sniffles increased to a banging headache, constantly running nose (I know, I risk TMI) and even a bit of a temperature.    It was a totally lost day to me.   I spent it on the couch, under covers, under dogs, dozing in and out.    I even passed up a taco and margarita evening with Pam and Vic, that tells you how bad I felt!

Today was better, but not great.   The cold, rainy weather didn't help.   If it had been sunny and gorgeous I may have been tempted to stick my nose out of Beluga, but it wasn't and I didn't.

There you have it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lazy - aka BCA

  The humidity was so high this morning that it looked like it had rained overnight!   Everything was dripping wet.   I've been thinking that my increasingly annoying sniffles and sneezes are my allergies reacting to the unrelenting dampness.     Maybe not.   I may be getting a cold, yuk.

We had a lazy morning, then a lazy beach afternoon.   It was sunny and fairly warm when we set up our beach chairs, but after a long walk and a short nap we found that the blue sky had been replaced by a thick, bright fog.   We were chilled by it, so we packed up and went back to Beluga in time for cocktails and dinner.   Here are a  few pictures from our lazy day....

lots of people enjoyed the beach today

we managed to find a nice private spot though
can you see our two blue chairs?

busy American Oystercatcher working the surf

Dave watches the Longboat Key lift bridge raise for a sailboat

Monday, January 27, 2014

Two BCA's

Sunday - BC day to be sure.   Laundry, (semi exciting for us because we managed to score all three washers at once which is quite a coup!   Be still my beating heart) tried a new, healthy shrimp and grilled veggie recipe, watched golf and Downton Abbey.

Monday - BC day also.  Lewis has been acting a little "off" for the last few days, soft sneezes and not much interest in any of the 5 or 6 inside balls available for play.   He has been content to slouch on the chair and look out the windshield.    If it keeps up or gets worse, we'll have to make an appointment to check it out.

my boy Lew is just not his happy self today.

It was warm, overcast and a bit drizzly all day so I was especially happy to see Mr. David's A-1 Freightliner Service Mobile van pull up.   Although we had a mid afternoon appointment  he is a bit temperamental about his working conditions and occasionally balks at working in the rain.   I'm sure he just wants me to fuss over him a bit, but one never knows.

Mr. David packs up the old, dirty air filter.
He always cleans up his mess

After he installed Beluga's new air filter I invited him to stay for a cocktail and then left over dinner,  he agreed.   What a nice man.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

the weekend

Friday was a pretty lazy day for us although we did get to a different beach and walk on different sand.  Yes, it was chilly so there was no sunbathing on this beach but we did enjoy ourselves.   We went to the tip of Ana Maria Island and walked on the historic Ana Maria Pier out into Tampa Bay.  In the distance we could see the  huge, yellow Sunshine Skyway Bridge caught in a beam of sunlight.

see the bridge spires in the distance to the left of the pier?

Don't the the sunny skies in these pictures fool you.    The pier is very long and about halfway out we wondered why we (I) had decided to do this.   The wind was whipping and cut right through your clothing.  Invigorating, right?  Yea, that's right "invigorating"....

There were a few other hearty souls out at the end with us.   A couple of French speaking tourists and a few die hard fishermen.   One guy caught two small hammerhead sharks in a row.    Or perhaps it was the same one, either stupid or really greedy.  

One good thing about all these fronts racing across Florida is that they bring really interesting clouds to show us.   Always look for the good I say.

Saturday we accompanied Pam and Vic into St. Armands Circle and strolled around the St. Armands Art Festival.   I was surprised at how large it was, the entire center circle was packed with white tents and each "arm" of the circle was filled also.   Really lovely and unique things for sale, one of a kind jewelry, paintings, fiber art, not your mama's decoupage, wood carvings and furniture large and small, metal sculptures and plenty of whimsical offerings to make me laugh.

There will be no pictures of the art festival, however.   I was soundly chastised for trying to show you some of the more unusual furniture, so too bad for him - there will be no free advertising from me.

Well, I did take one picture.    I couldn't resist.  This guy is either very secure in his manhood, or maybe not....what do you think?

the girls

After a few hours of walking and looking, walking and looking, we all felt the need to whet our whistle, so to speak.   We left the busy circle and headed back to Longboat Key and the Dry Dock Restaurant for a glass of wine (etc.) by the calm, still bay.   Ahhhh, that's better.

We were early for the in-season dinner crowd so we were able to sit right at the edge of the water and enjoy the view and warmth of the outdoor heaters.    We did have some company, but they were quiet.

Later on we had a lite dinner at Euphemia Hayes' upstairs bar and dessert room, the Haye Loft.   Another lovely day - thanks Pam and Vic.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Beautiful day

Yesterday truly was a beautiful day.    The weather was beautiful, sunny and the perfect temperature to sit on bleachers and watch beautiful snowy white horses practice their craft.  Top off the beautiful day with a beautiful dinner with friends.    A beautiful day.

I struggled with what to say about the Herrmann's Royal Lippizan training session we attended yesterday.    Do I give you the history of these powerful horses, describe the conformation needed to perform these "airs above the ground", the origins of these moves, the history of this particular family and their shows (I think there are 3 competing professional shows involving these spectacularly beautiful and talented equines).  

To do so would make a very long blog and probably bore most of you to tears.  I'll just show you some impressions of the day and let you read more on your own.

hahaha, you can see where my interest lies...
this picture cuts off the person but shows the entire horse!

Myakka City is the winter home of Herrman's Royal Lippizan Horses and they are in residence from November through April/May.    They allow the public to watch their Thursday, Friday and Saturday training sessions as they bring new "boys" (as Gabriella calls them) into the act and keep the older guys sharp.  Traditionally only unaltered males - stallions - are used, although this group is trying to bring a few mares into the show.    Perhaps that's because their riders and trainers (family members) are exclusively female...a result of genetics Gabriella laughingly tells us.

 If you're expecting a sharp, tight, perfect performance, this isn't the place for you.    It is clearly a training session.   Mistakes are made, horses act up, marks aren't always hit, Caprioles aren't always done beautifully.    Its the reason I like to go there.   I enjoy watching these horses be horses, it pleases me to see their personalities take over, to see just how hard they try to do what is asked of them, to see that they are rewarded for those efforts.    I enjoy listening to Gabriella (the family's head honcho) speak quietly to them, even when she isn't riding or working them herself.   She can't help herself, she whispers encouragement and disapproval as they pass her.    She chastises them when they don't remain calm and mannerly (they're stallions, after all!), and rewards them with affection and sugar cubes when they do.

I find it amazing that the ring can contain 5 or 6 stallions in very close proximity and that they can keep their minds on their business despite their natural and normal inclination to fight.    I enjoy watching the differences in each horse, in the way they handle the work.    One was totally relaxed and calmly going about the prescribed pattern, one had his ears back and his nose wrinkled in annoyance.  It amazes me how gently they accept the tiny sugar cubes offered, never grabbing or biting as stallions are wont to do.       Testimony to the gentle handling they receive.

Gabriella riding behind the younger horse, hitched in tandom
Lippizans are born dark and gain their white color at about 6 years old so you can see that the front horse is still changing color, thus younger than the ridden horse.

all females riding all stallions

a Capriole attempt

from the net - a properly completed Capriole

a beautiful Levade

from the net - a spectacular Levade done at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna

the next generation of Herrman girls learning to ride

AND, at last, a boy in the family.
He's learning to ride Giovanni, a rescue pony (not a Lippizan)

And, lastly, I enjoyed watching their kids be kids.   These "next generation" kids in the Herrmann  family are having a ball in the empty ring, pretending they're the horses they'll grow up to ride.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Really nice day

We had a really nice day with Pam and Vic.   We picked them up after lunch and took Fruitville Road about 20 miles east of I-75.   Our destination was the Herrmann's Royal Lippizan's winter home and an open training session.

I'll only show you a few pictures right now because I'm sooooo stuffed from our dinner at Eat Here that I can't manage to gather my thoughts.     Tomorrow's another day, burp.

outdoor arena waiting for today's practice session

Vic, Sue and Dave waiting
(don't ask where Pam is)

he's waiting
they're waiting

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Follow up

Yesterday Judi thought Sasha's picture made her look like she was plastered and sleeping it off.  Well, here is how she looked at second cup this morning, still drunk?  What a character she is, comfort is all there is as far as she's concerned, she cares not how she looks.    We should all take a page from her book.

This afternoon Dave had his follow-up eye appointment.    Good news, the abrasion is healed and he needs no further treatment - Yes!    It was a very beautiful, albeit cold, day so when we left the Eye Specialists office we decided to just drive around and see what there was to see.   Its something we always enjoy doing in a new area.    We found ourselves on Palma Sola Causeway (Manatee Avenue/Route 64 and the beach along both sides of the road were completely empty.   I thought it would be a great place to give the dogs a bit of off leash exercise and convinced Dave we'd only be out in the cold wind for a few minutes.   Lewis and I played ball back and forth on the sand.  Dave and Sasha strolled along sniffing every inch of the sand and bordering grass.  After a few minutes of that she walked slowly but very deliberately into the cold water up to her neck, stood there for a minute and then turned and walked just as slowly back out - who knows what goes on in her little brain.

Back home we warmed up and I made steak fajitas for dinner.   We could hear the music coming from the pool deck, but it was just too warm and cozy in Beluga to venture out and socialize in the cold.

Last night I snuck outside around 9 and managed to get a picture of Flat Stanley with his eyes open.   Today I think I found out who he is....a Cuban Tree Frog.    I hope I'm wrong, however, because if he is, he's in big trouble.   Evidently Cuban Tree Frogs are an invasive species here and all the websites I consulted gave great detailed information about how to "humanely" kill him.   Urged me to kill him, humanely of course.   Don't touch him, they cautioned me, he'll give you itchy scratchies, make you sneeze, keep the dogs away from him.   Sheesh!      I hope he moves on because I certainly won't kill him.    Hmmmmm, or maybe I'll put him on our crabby neighbor's door step while he's listening to the music over at the pool.....shush, don't tell him it was me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Flat Stanley and Bad Lewis

Lots of our friends have really neat "visitors" to their campsites.    Bears, Sandhill cranes, deer, even fellow bloggers.    Here in Cortez, we have Flat Stanley.   Thats what we call the small frog that turns up in various places around our site.

I think he's dead but when we're not looking he moves to another spot just to prove he's not.

Today we indulged ourselves in a caloric breakfast/lunch across the street at the Cortez Cafe.  I love their waffles and only allow myself the pleasure once in awhile.   After filling our faces we went back to the Garden store to get one more spot of color for Beluga's outdoor space.   It was sunny and clear as when we entered the garden center, but just as I was deciding between two pots of flowers outside,  the sky opened and the ensuing rain thundered down on the metal roof above us.   I used the rain imposed inside time to wander around their greenhouses taking pictures of the interesting flowers and foliage.

we thought of you Hans and Lisa!

The rain pulled away as quickly as it came.   We were soon back outdoors and made our selection from the imaginatively designed pots.

Bad Lewis

Tonight, as Dave was grilling our steak, a neighbor was out walking his dog behind Beluga.  He said, quite loudly, "thats a bad dog"...meaning Lewis.   Dave asked what he meant and he said that it wasn't right that Lewis should bark and run at our fence when his dog walks by, that he was a "bad dog".   Dave tried to explain that Lew was a harmless chicken man, but the guy would have none of it.  Sheesh, now we have neighbor troubles.    Get me to the desert and away from all these peoples!       In the morning we'll try to reconfigure our fencing to give the worried little guy (the neighbor, not Lewis) a bit more room and see if that helps.    I hate things like this.

Sleeping Beauty
I wonder what how he'd react if he ever met our vicious man eater Sasha face to face!