Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Beaches, beaches everywhere!

I think it would be hard to visit Florida and not walk at least one beach. We got lucky and visited four.

After Bok Gardens we made a beeline for Honeymoon Island State Park in hopes of seeing the sunset. Traffic through Tampa was brutal.

I’m glad we got to see this.

We barely made it, paying our $4.00 entry fee and rushing to find a parking place as the sun was beginning it’s rapid decline into the Gulf of Mexico.

Time to pack it up and head home.

Lots of people had obviously spent the day at the beach and were packing up for the evening. We didn’t look like beach goers in our shorts and running shoes, but I didn’t care.

Even after the sun was gone these umbrellas glowed.

It just felt good to be near the water.

We had to head north for a bit to find a hotel, but the next morning we went in search of more beaches and a chance for me to put my feet in the water.

We started at Fred Howard County Park in Tarpon Springs. We thought maybe it wouldn’t have a fee. Silly us. I think it was $5.00 to park in their lot all day.

Busy day at the beach!

It was a Sunday and the beach was already crowded when we arrived. Luckily we found a parking space, then wandered down to the water, weaving between umbrellas and blankets. I was a bit disappointed, the shore was filled with old weeds and the beach was overwhelmed with people.

Just ignore all those people over there.

Still, some found their own bit of peace with their toes in the water.

On the other side of the small island there were a whole lot of toys to be rented. I’d never seen the big bicycles before. They were sort of like paddle boats.

Work those quad muscles!

The island was at the end of a long causeway which we walked a bit to see what the fisherpeople out there were catching. Along the way we saw more than one group of people sunning on blankets in parking spaces.

Future dermatologist patients.

Not my idea of a great way to enjoy the beach! By the time we walked back to the car the parking lot on the island was teaming with vehicles circling, looking for a space. We gave our space and ticket to a grateful family and left, looking for longer beaches, softer sand, more space.

We found all that at my favorite beach of the day, Clearwater’s Sand Key Beach.

My first glimpse of the beach made me smile.

It was crowded too, but there was a long white beach with a clean sandy shore just begging to be walked.

The water was so enticing that I was out of my shoes as soon as we arrived.

And the further you walked the less crowded the beach was. Down a ways was a place where people were flying kites. We had to walk at least that far!

I woldn’t mind living in a condo on this beach. As long as I didn’t have to drive anywhere.

We walked a long way, me in the water as much as I could be.

Turquoise water, blue sky, white sand. Can’t get much better.

Eventually we went to find lunch, and then on to our last beach of the day, on our last evening of our trip, to see what the sunset might bring at Madeira Beach a bit further south.

An interesting breakwater caught my attention right away.

We had a longer wait for the sunset than the night before, and it was windier and getting chilly. I looked for things to photograph to keep myself busy. There’s always something.

It was kind of chilly but that didn’t stop these two from having fun in the waves.

The sun was hiding most of that last hour behind clouds. But once in awhile it would break free and light up the buildings further south of us.

The colorful buildings warmed in the evening light for a few moments.

A few other people waited on the beach for the sun to set too. And the balconies of the condos and hotels behind us began to fill up with people, some with cameras, some just watching.

I kind of wish I’d gotten an email for this couple so I could send them the picture.

Everyone waiting for the evening ritual.

And finally it happened. The sun dropped below the band of clouds and lit the sky and beach and water with a golden glow.

For a few minutes everything turned pinky gold.

It wasn’t as pretty as the night before up on Honeymoon Beach, but it was worth the wait.

A little explosion of joy.

And when the sun had sunk beneath the waves we turned and slowly made our way back to the car. The trip was over, nothing left to do but prepare for our flight home.

Another day closes it’s eyes.

It was a good trip, this time in Florida, but we were ready, almost ready, to face the snow and cold in Michigan, knowing that flowers were blooming somewhere, and spring couldn’t hold out forever even up there.

Bye bye Florida, see you next time.

Besides, Katie-girl was waiting. Time to go home.

I’m WAITING people!


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Let’s explore Bok Gardens and Pinewood Estate

We’re back home in snowy, cold, shades of white Michigan this evening. But I have so much more to show you from sunny, warm, colorful Florida, so let’s pretend we’re still there, shall we?

The front of Pinewood Estate.

I last left you with a tease about Bok Gardens, a wonderful place full of magical gardens, a winter mansion and an amazing bell tower. I don’t want to leave you hanging, so here we go!

We wandered under huge trees enjoying the azalea bushes that were in full bloom.

Bok Gardens is a 7 acre slice of heaven, including several types of gardens designed by Olmstead brothers landscaping company (the same that designed the gardens at Biltmore in North Carolina, and Central Park in New York City), a new children’s play and educational area, what seems like acres of azaleas, a Florida desert trail, and towering live oaks covered in lichen and ferns.

I’ve never seen red sugar cane before.

The home, built in the center of all of this beauty, was the winter home of industrialist Charles Buck (not Bok, I know, it’s confusing) from 1932 to 1945. After that it was purchased by a couple of families before being acquired by Bok Gardens in 1970.

The house from the back.

The house, with over 12,000 square feet, feels much more intimate than many of the seasonal homes of the wealthy back in those days.

Dining with color everywhere.


The rooms were smaller, and many had lower ceilings.

One of several bedrooms.

There wasn’t gold gilding, unlike many homes of this vintage, but there were plenty of wonderful details.

An ibis acts as a doorstop, holding up the heavy and intricate door.

Tilework acted as wainscoting throughout the first floor, and ran up the stairs to the less public rooms.

Beautiful tile covers the risers on the front stairs.

The floors on the main level were covered in handmade red tiles, each room with it’s own pattern.

One of many patterns of these tiles.

The docents told us the gardens were put in first, and then the house was built so that each area had a different garden view. Pretty spectacular.

Magnolias, azaleas and camellias were all in bloom.

And then there’s the bell tower, with it’s huge carillon and sixty tons of bells which are played regularly. It is absolutely stunning.

Glimpsing the tower through the trees.

There were two concerts the day we were there, one we heard as we wandered the garden, and another that we purposely sat and listened to.

Details of the top, the colors are beautiful.

Bok Tower Gardens is located between Tampa and Orlando, and I think time spent there is well worth the admission for you and your family. Kids can play in the kid garden and run on the lawns up by the tower.

Stonework at the entrance to the childrens’ garden and play space.

Parents can let the beauty wash over them…and I guarantee everyone will smile.

And after all that, we made it over to the Gulf for the sunset.

A pretty ending to a very good day.

I’ll post more about the beaches in another post. We did spend a bit of time walking those white sands. After all…it’s Flordia.

Door knob detail.


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Baseball and nature

It’s always a great day to be a Tiger fan.


Baseball and nature – not really related, but that’s the way we’ve spent the past couple of days down here in sunny, hot Florida.

Friday we took in a Tiger game at their Lakeland spring training facility. Have to say it’s a pretty impressive stadium, and run really professionally, with lots of volunteers handling everything from checking bags, helping with seating and answering questions about the building and the team.

Field lights and palm trees.

We had great seats right behind the Tiger dugout, too bad the Tigers didn’t play very well.

Miguel made it to first base with this swing.

The second pitch of the game the New York Mets player hit a home run, and it was downhill from there. Miguel Cabrera, one of the Tigers star players came up to bat three times, managed to get on base once, but never scored.

He didn’t seem happy, and ran rather slow, just back from an injury that kept him out of the game most of last season. Still, it was cool to see him up close.

Not such a great
day.

The Mets just had better pitching, the score ended up 7 to 1.

Looks like another one of his 98 mph strikes. Sigh.

The one run Detroit scored was a homerun. That was fun to watch.

Giving thanks for the home run.

It would have been more fun to see today’s game against the Atlanta Braves. We hear the Tigers won 7 to 4, and Miguel hit a home run in the 5th inning.

Sigh.

But I can’t dwell too long on what we didn’t see, because today we saw an awful lot of beautiful. We went to two parks; the first was Hollis Park which is in Lakeland and sits on a beautiful pond in the middle of town with lots of water birds.

Just getting a drink.

And today it also had lots of runners as there was a 5K and 10K road race going on when we arrived.

It was already way too hot to be running, even early in the morning.

This little park is a gem sitting in the middle of town. Lots of beautiful flowering things…

Messing around with depth of field.

…koi in a fountain…

Looking for a hand out.

…and some very unique sculpture tucked away amidst the plants.

Sunshine made it glow.

It’s a wonderful little park, and there’s more to see than what I’ve shared. Maybe I’ll put together a slide show of the things that didn’t make it into this blog.

A green space filled with color.

For sure I’ll do a separate post about Bok Gardens, the stunning garden we visited in the afternoon, complete with a carillon and a winter estate home built in the 1920s with wonderful winding paths through azaleas and camellias, and huge mossy live oaks.

Enter here to see the 1920s home.

And then we made it over to the Gulf of Mexico just in time to see the sun set.

Another beautiful day comes to an end.

I’ll share more about all that in the next post. Right now it’s time to get some sleep, tomorrow is our last day in the sun.

Better rest up!

Enter here to see some beautiful craftsmanship. Next post.


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Florida ramble

Stormy weather.


How do you picture Florida? Sun, swaying palms, white sands, blue water, attractions filled with laughing crowds and roller coasters, poolside drinks, pulsating bars, sunscreen and colorful umbrellas?

Sounds good.

But if that’s what you’re focused on then you’re missing an awful lot of authentic Florida.

Early morning light makes the moss glow.

My husband and I are visiting relatives in a quieter part of the state. We have been staying at a fishing camp on a beautiful lake north of Tampa.

A good place to spend a few days.

Each of the past three mornings I’ve gone outside early in the morning to see what the sunrise had to offer. This morning’s was the most colorful, but Monday and Tuesday morning were softly pretty too.

Good morning world!

Yesterday we walked the neighborhood and enjoyed the moody skies just before a thunderstorm rolled in.

What this lake probably looked like in the 1940s. And today.

This place has the feel of old Florida, when times were simpler and small things got noticed. A time before Disney World and all inclusive resorts.

Lots of open land with cattle grazing. Taken with my phone from the back seat of a moving car.

As my husband and I enjoyed the company of an extended family we let the crazy world go on by, kept the TV off, didn’t read the news, and sat into the evening telling old family stories and enjoying good food.

Not a bad way to begin a vacation.

Tuesday’s sunrise.

Tomorrow we’re going to see a baseball game at the Tiger spring training camp and then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do next.

Contemplating deep thoughts. And bubbles.

Not to say we’re entirely ignoring those white sand beaches and blue skies. No, I think at least a peek at the Gulf is on the list.

After all, we are in Florida.

This is Herman. He likes to steal fish from fishermen’s buckets.


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Coasting down Michigan’s western shore

Last Sunday a friend and I drove north and west to see Point Betsie with it’s lighthouse in winter. We were hoping to see some waves and some ice, and we saw a bit of each.

Taken by my friend, look how she caught that wave action!

On Monday we meandered under a blue sky down the western coast of Michigan, enjoying the shore and beaches at several parks along the way.

Lake fog danced on the relatively warm water in the single digit air temperatures.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to show you some of the beautiful sights we saw. There are so many it’s hard to choose what to share.

The view was worth the climb!

We stopped across the river from Frankfort early in the day and admired their tugboats…

Tugboats waiting for spring.

…and the lighthouse against the dark sky.

The white buildings pop against the darkening sky.

Then we drove up to a bluff overlooking the harbor and the sun came out. I was a bit scared to drive up the steep, snow covered road, but the view was absolutely worth it.

From up on the bluff.

The early light made the lighthouse glow out there in the blue lake.

Further down the coast Ludington’s shoreline held lots of lovely sights. Even with all the wonderful white snow and blue water, this was one of my favorite shots:

Shadows mimic fence.

And this, the ice on the railing, deserves some attention too.

Ice interest.

So many pretty things to see, I put together a little slide show.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our last stop was Muskegon State Park where the views weren’t as stunning, but still very interesting.

A lonely tree on a lonely beach.

We had such a fun time wandering the coast of Michigan even though we didn’t get it all done. That just means we have something to anticipate some weekend when the sun shines and the lake glows.

Oh, and just for me, we stopped along the way for a photo of a barn.

Every road trip needs at least one barn.

I’m looking forward to our continued adventure. It’s nice when you can make something out of a cold winter weekend in the north.

Colors out of this world.


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Check it off the stupendous list

Visiting Point Betsie during the winter is on my list of stupendous things to do in 2019.

Tucked into the sand dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Today I had the opportunity to do just that — and it was beautiful.

At home we had snow yesterday, the most we’ve had in one day so far this winter season, so a trip across the state was in question.

The path down to the beach shows the first glimpse of the turquoise lake.

But by this morning the falling snow had stopped and the sun made it glitter as a friend and I took the chance and drove across the state toward Lake Michigan and Point Betsie, a little over four hours away.

The wind was flinging waves over the breakers.

Though there was little new snow falling, the wind was brisk, and the temperatures were in the single digits. I don’t even want to think about about the wind chill.

The sun tried to break through but ultimately lost out to the clouds.

Trust me it was cold. I could barely get the car door open once we arrived at the lighthouse. We sprinted down to the shore – the lake was it’s typical turquoise.

The lighthouse was beautiful, but the ice coating the land around it prohibited us from exploring too close. That and the chilling wind howling off the lake.

The view looking south, away from the lighthouse, was stunning too.

To the south the light was diffused, the colors muted.

We stayed on the beach for only a few minutes before we ran back to the car, fingers frozen.

My friend heading back to the car, I was right behind her!

Was it worth it to drive over four hours to spend less than 10 minutes enjoying the view.

You bet it was!

Safe and sound at the hotel.


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I could use a bit of heat, light and holiday spirit

It’s been almost a week since I posted last. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it and all of you. Ideas for posts have slipped through my mind. Bits and pieces of stuff most instantly forgotten.

Fleeting morning light.

I’m distracted and I don’t know why. Could be that it keeps snowing and it’s cold. Could be that we haven’t had more than a few hours of sun in over a week. Maybe it’s the 7 day forecast which shows more snow coming.

And did I mention the cold?

Winter arrived early.

I have no plans for Christmas other than to take the dog for a walk somewhere fun. Unless it snows. Or maybe because it snows. She likes snow.

Me? I don’t think I like snow all that much any more. I remember as a kid having fun building snow forts and sledding down hills and ice skating on the lake. But these days I hurry the dog along on her walks and when she’s outside doing her business.

Quit being a drama queen mama, it’s not that bad.

It’s cold.

Why is it that when you’re traveling and it’s cold it’s fine, it’s part of the adventure. But when you’re home and scraping ice and snow off the windshield in the early dark morning it’s just about too much to bear?

Sometimes snow, sometimes fog. Sometimes both.

Alabama calls me.

But I’m trying to be a responsible adult and I have commitments here in Michigan that I need and want to honor. The most pressing of those being the Christmas concert I’m playing tonight at a local high school. I made a commitment at the beginning of the season to play a certain number of concerts. The dates were provided at the start.

To bolt for warmer temperatures now would be wrong.

Katie says she likes the cold and I should get over it. Katie doesn’t scrape the windows of a car whenever she wants to go to the park.

Can we go play now?

Maybe I should work on my Christmas cards to lift my holiday spirits. On the other hand so far we’ve received only three cards, one from our stock broker, one from Katie’s kennel, and one from an exceptionally organized friend.

It’s possible I’m not the only holiday spirit deprived, disorganized and distracted person out there.

Holiday spirit from another year.

If you need a holiday boost and you’re local, stop by the Clarkston high school tonight about 7 and hum along to some music in a warm auditorium.

I promise any snow you see there will be fake, but the holiday spirit will be real.

Happy Holidays!