Monday, December 31, 2012

A Night To Remember

Sarasota, FL      High:  74    Low:   67

Sparky's daughter, Kelly, has a great musician friend by the name of Steve Arvey. Steve is an accomplished musician, and when we were here in Sarasota last year, he played at Ocean Blues, a wonderful bar and grill in downtown Sarasota. They have terrific entertainment there. He rocked the bar--he's a great blues, rock, and everything else guitarist and singer.  Steve is one of those people who are a straight shooter. He's genuine, warm and friendly, and a big teddy bear of a guy. He is very appreciative and supportive of our servicemen and women. Kelly has known him for several years.

So when Kelly found out that Steve was back performing in the Sarasota area, she wanted to bring her family to hear him. She didn't have to twist Sparky and Eldo's arm, we knew he puts on a terrific show. He so gets into his music. Sparky loves his expressions on his face as he plays his guitar as smooth as smooth can be. He makes his guitar talk and sing!

What was cool about last night was, you can bring children to Island Time, a restaurant on Anna Maria Island in Bradenton, FL. It has panoramic views of the gulf with inside and terrace seating. So Kristi, Eldy's daughter, and Brian and Lori and their two kids Cate and Trevor were able to come with us to hear the music. Now you need to know that Cate is a Beatles fan, a HUGE Beatles fan. She asked for everything Beatles for Christmas. (She got a Beatles beach towel for starters.) Kelly requested a Beatles tune for Cate as soon as we got there. Steve promptly complied with "Fool On the Hill." Cate beamed.
Cate, Eldy, Brian and Trevor
The night continued...Steve and his band were playing from 7:00-10:00 PM. They rocked the house with some great tunes and then a second Beatles tune...."I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends". Cate grinned even bigger. We were rockin' at the table...Trevor was playing a mighty air guitar...Cate was singing all the words....Kelly, Kristi, Lori and Brian, Trevor and Cate, Sparky and Eldo--we were practically dancing at the table. Yet, another Beatles tune..."Come Together".  Cate was texting her friends that she was having an "AWESOME" night! Finally, the next to the last song, Steve launched into "Dear Prudence" with an incredible guitar performance. What was even more remarkable was that the band--a bass player, the drummer and Steve, had never performed this song before together. It was amazing and a testament to fantastic musicians who can go with the flow and sound like they had practiced the set thoroughly. This was one of the longer Beatles songs, and Steve and company ended our evening with a fantastic tribute to the Beatles that all started with Cate's wish to hear a Beatles song, which sent the band in a completely new direction for the night. Afterwards, Steve came up to the table, talked to the family for awhile, telling us how appreciative he was with the request, giving him and his band a chance to perform new material and liven up HIS night! Then, to top off the night, Cate had her photo taken with him.

Thank you, Steve Arvey, for a memorable night!

Happy New Year, everyone!

On New Year's Day
and the whole year through,
I hope the kindness
you've given to others
returns many times to you.
May hope, love, and warmth
be in your heart's possessing,
and may the New Year
bring you and yours
many blessings.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Beachy Keen Day

Sarasota, FL      High:  73    Low:  46

We headed to Siesta Key Beach today with the weather looking not too favorable for a beach day, but it was relatively warm, and we wanted Connor to experience the ocean. He hadn't seen it since he was a baby. The kids got in and waded and jumped the waves, having a ball. Connor decided to bury Trevor in the sand. His family helped...
His mom was in charge of getting sand out of his eyes...
Ya think Trevor is ready to get "unburied"?
While Sparky was taking pictures, a couple came up and the lady asked, "Are you Sparky?" "Why, yes, I am!"  Sparky was shocked that somebody knew her. It turns out that Dwight and Mary McKenzie (sorry if I spelled that wrong) follow our blog, and when they saw Connor's mohawk haircut at the beach, they figured it might be us! They are staying at Sun 'n' Fun! Nice to meet you folks!

Then the sky began to get very dark out over the ocean. Time to think about heading in, boys...
Trevor and Connor in the ocean
We had plans for the evening to hear some great entertainment. We'll tell you all about it tomorrow...It was a terrific night and an especially memorable one for Cate.....

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marvelous Myakka

Sarasota, FL      High:   73     Low:   64

We took some of the family to Myakka State Park today. The park was full of visitors on winter break. The bridge, where you can usually see alligators was packed with gawkers on both sides. We were worried we weren't going to see any alligators as it was one of the coolest days since we have been here...But no worries, mate! Not only did we see alligators--a duo sunning themselves on the bank...

We saw one biggie move around, grab a bite to eat, chomp it to pieces, and heard the bones crunch!

You should have heard the grandkids--"AW, THAT'S COOL! Did you see that?" You should have heard Sparky say, "DID YOU SEE THAT??!!! Did you hear that?!!!" She was just as excited as the grandkids!

That was the FIRST thing we saw...hard to top that! On to the birdwatch observation deck, hoping to find some roseate spoonbills...None were there today, just a huge flock of white pelicans. Some of the observers were trying to guess what kinds of birds they were looking at, and one guy had the NERVE to try and tell Sparky that a flock of huge white birds were not white pelicans! You can't tell a full time RVer  of a couple of years after multiple trips to Florida, multiple tours, and multiple park volunteers' identifications of birds that there are no white pelicans in this part of Florida! (You mean you can't tell Sparky she's WRONG! explains Eldo.) Sparky will admit to being wrong once in awhile, but she knows a white pelican when she sees one, that's for sure! Here's Brian's family at the bird boardwalk...
Trevor, Lori, Brian, and Cate
We saw several wood storks from a distance, a carcass of some sort right up by the viewing stand, (COOL! said the grandkids) and then we went to the canopy walk, which they loved.......The young grandsons were amazed at the huge palms that had been bent over by previous windstorms and hurricanes and couldn't believe that trees could still grow bent over like that. They are used to seeing tall, straight trees in Indiana. Sparky played teacher and told them about epiphytes or "air plants".

The park was really really busy today...the canopy walk observation tower had a little bit of congestion.   There was a steady flow of people going up and coming down. The tower definitely was feeling the crunch of people and had more movement than normal, which made Kristi, Eldy's daughter, nervous. It didn't help that the grandkids were bouncing up and down on the suspension bridge as she crossed over it! As we were climbing the tower, a guy coming down said, "Check out the wild boars in the green patch of grass." Wild boars? How lucky can we get!? Four of them, totally black, feeding... Eldo said he could see some tusks.... As Judy would say, "Cool beans!"

It was a MAH-vel-ous day at Myakka State Park today....Sparky thinks this is one of our favorite state parks thus far of anywhere in Florida. So much to see and do there! And we didn't even get in the Myakka River to canoe or kayak today. This little guy was marveling at the height of the tower he had just come down from......

On the way home, we saw a dead wild boar at the side of the road. Now that's something you don't see every day! Glad it was a boar and not a black panther......

The week with family is coming to a close....tomorrow we go to Siesta Key Beach....See you there!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Being a Grandparent is Hard Work!

Sarasota, FL       High:  66    Low:   48

A cold front and stormy weather blew through Sarasota today...Which is just as well, because we were on the road to the Tampa airport picking up remaining family members.   Hint:  He's little, he crawls and now stands up, and his mom gave him a great name. Can't say any more than that, for privacy reasons and his mom's wishes....Aunt Kelly is really enamored with him and he with her. Aw-w-w-w.

Seems like the day was spent on the road in bad weather, mostly...We got back, got settled and got everybody organized and ready for dinner.

So why are we so exhausted!? We didn't work out, we didn't hike, we didn't spend all day at the beach getting dehydrated, we're just pooped! Guess all the excitement, figuring out who's going to be where and when, who's bringing what for dinner, the organization of a big family and what we are going to do the next day wears old people out! Being a grandparent is hard work but lots of fun, too!

We're having a ball with the kids, and they are so appreciative of being here...

Sparky got to babysit for her little grandson for awhile while her daughters went and got pedicures together....He sure is a strong baby! Yesterday, he pulled a kitchen chair over on top of himself. Scared the heck out of him, but he was ok. He crawls with his little back legs up in the air, not using his knees. He's like a little crawling, moving tripod. He LOVES books and Grandma read him a couple of stories today. He likes to look at your lips while you are reading and finds that VERY fascinating.

Grandma finds HIM very fascinating and had a ball playing with him today with rolling his little weighted ball back and forth. He studies everything you do with intensity and determination to figure out what the heck YOU are doing!

The family has lots of plans for the next couple of days...A trip to Myakka State Park, a trip to Siesta Key Beach, the Ringling Brothers Museum, and more....

See you later somewhere in Sarasota!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fun at Sun 'n' Fun Continues

Sarasota, FL      High:  73   Low:  51

We had a wonderful Christmas....Eldo and Sparky went to each of his grandkids' cottages to make an early morning visit..Eldy has a custom of giving each grandchild a Lifesaver's Book. Eldo looks excited because he sees a whole bunch of candy on the floor that Santa left. We should have bought some candy for us! But we were good and didn't!

And Kristi looks tired this Christmas morning. Don't all parents of young children after Santa has come?
Brian's kids were up at 3:00 AM!  When Sparky was a kid, her dad made her and her three brothers and one sister wait until he was up, had shaved and had his morning orange juice! Then we had to sit at the top of the stairs and wait until he turned out his floodlights to get ready for a movie of us running down the stairs only to be blinded by the floodlights. We couldn't see our presents for the first few minutes!  Our Christmas family movies show consistently squinty eyed kids every year blinded by the lights.  :-)

Sparky cooked Christmas Day today! (It's another Christmas miracle! exclaims E.) Well, don't get too excited, it was a spiral pre-baked ham, Sparky made mashed potatoes because she had to show the kids you didn't need a mixer to make lump free mashed potatoes, the gravy was courtesy of Publix grocery store, and Lori, Eldy's daughter-in-law made green bean casserole. Kelly helped Mom Sparky get everything ready. Eldo peeled the potatoes, that was his contribution.
Eldo sat at the little kids' table to keep an eye on those rambunctious grandsons....

Sparky is working hard on getting Ted, Eldy's son-in-law to smile on family photos, but it sure is hard work! And he has such a great smile when he does. But not quite today....He's holding back...Sparky has to tease him to get him to smile just a little....Connor is cracking up, Ted, almost.. C'mon, Ted! You can do it!

Sparky and Kelly took Moxie for a long walk.....After another long day at the pool, the young grandkids crashed early.....
Cate and her mom
Eldo and Sparky crashed back at home....It was a wonderful Christmas Day spent with family.....Hope yours was wonderful, too! Bye for now......

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Let the Fun Begin Part 2

Sarasota, FL       High:  77    Low:   55

Hey, Papa! Let's go to the pool!

With little grandsons, it doesn't take long for them to hit the pool....

They spent about seven hours in the pool today.....Papa, a.k.a. "Eldo", was in the water with them for four of those seven hours....You can tell Connor hasn't seen much sun! Eldo, much more so! What's with rabbit ears in every photo with little boys?

Trevor had a lot of fun drumming on Papa's bald head....

How-to-use-pool- noodle instruction is a SERIOUS business!
Sparky got in the water and gave Connor some swim instruction, but we didn't capture that for posterity. :-) Sparky taught swimming lessons for many years, all the way through high school and college, so she really wanted to work with him and try to help him learn to swim. Connor decided he had enough lesson for the day after ten minutes and Sparky wanting him to put his head in the water!

The little boys had a LOT of fun in the pool today...The big boy did, too!  :-)

The families spent some time at the pool well into the evening...Cate, Eldy's granddaughter, had an app where she put her iphone to your forehead and it would tell whether you were naughty or nice. Just about all the grownups were naughty, especially Eldo.

The families enjoyed their first full day at Sun 'n' Fun and are really appreciating their digs....Here's the inside of one of the one bedroom cottages...The rentals are really modern and bright and cheery....
We're looking forward to more fun in the next few days...See you later!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Let the Fun Begin!

Sarasota, FL      High:  77    Low:  66

We're off to a fantastic start with family....On Kelly's second day here, we managed to get her over to the Siesta Key Drum circle....She loved it! And Sparky loved that we ran into David and Sherry Boyd, of In the Direction of Our Dreams.... David was seriously ill earlier this year as most of you who read blogs regularly know if you have been reading them. He is well on the way to recovery and maintaining good health once again.  It was very gratifying to see how wonderful David looked. He looks terrific and says he is feeling about as good as it gets. Sherry looked great, too, and Sparky was just so glad to run into them that big hugs were in order! Unfortunately, she didn't have  the presence of mind to snap a photo. Phooey!

The drum circle was awesome as usual....

The preparations took place as usual, with a little more holiday spirit...

This guy performed quite a bit of ritual and symbolic gesturing before the regular drumming started and as it just got under way....Sparky wishes she knew what he was doing exactly and what significance it has in the whole drumming arena.

Sparky's favorite drummer is the guy with the dreadlocks..He's a regular....

Not as many professional hoop ladies doin' their thing.....But this gal does more than just hoop dance...

She balances a sword on her head and dances around with it on her head....Sparky THINKS it's the same lady, then again, maybe it's not?

Sparky and Kelly watched the sun go down.....

It was a beautiful night, but it got chilly very quickly....Time to head home......

Monday, December 24, 2012

She's Here!

Sarasota, FL     High:  63    Low:   41

While waiting for Kelly to arrive today, Sparky and Eldo headed to downtown Sarasota just to look around. Sarasota has THE KISS....a really big 25 foot statue you can't miss....There's some controversy behind the statue...some say it violates a copyright of a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt's couple kissing on V-J Day published in Life Magazine in 1945. This Sarasota statue is based on another photo of the kissing couple by Victor Jorgensen, another photographer whose photo is in the public domain, so no copyright infringement. Sparky thinks it's still cool, but some Sarasotans think it's tacky.
We took a walk around the park downtown. It's a really nice park with lots of waterfront views almost all the way around. There was some artwork in the park...

We looked at the boats and sat on the park swings. We watched the boats in the harbor for awhile and speculated about who owns the big yachts and if they are charters or not. We looked at the gnarly trees and roots and wondered if they were banyon trees....

We ate a burger at O'Leary's Tiki Bar and Grill, a fun place. They have steel drum entertainment a couple times a week. We definitely want to go see that.....

And finally, the moment arrived....KELLY and Moxie....They are here and settled in.... Yay!

Tomorrow, more family arrives....We'll see you later.....IF, for some reason, Sparky misses a blog, it's because things got really hectic around here....But she shouldn't miss more than a day here or there, as we catch up with family and show them the ropes around Sun 'n' Fun....

Buddy, the Elf, showed up at Sun 'n' Fun's Bar and Grill last night. He was so in character, he was a riot! He was a resident of the park dressed up like actor Will Ferrell's Christmas character, Buddy the Elf.
Will Ferrell in the Buddy, the Elf movie
He pranced around the dance floor, flirted outrageously with the ladies, and had everybody in stitches. A great way to introduce Kelly to Sun 'n' Fun!

By the time you read this, it will be Christmas Day, so Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Season's Greetings, everyone! We think we are going to follow Buddy's example of how to eat on Christmas Day....NOT!

Have a wonderful day today, folks! We'll see you tomorrow...