Monday, September 23, 2013

From the Sarasota Suburbanite to The Delta Swamp Rats

Well, technically, I live in Bradenton, but I was thinking at one point of changing my "off the road" blog, "Millie's Girls" to Sarasota Suburbanite. I just liked the sound of it. We spend a LOT of time in Sarasota, and still do, even though we're off the road and living in Bradenton now....

Went to Ocean Blues a couple of nights ago...It was wonderful as always...They have a new chef, and the food is even more terrific than ever for bar food. We had "Meatball Lollipops" which isn't the greatest sounding name, but it was delicious! Delicious meatballs on buffalo mozzarella cheese with fresh basil on crostinis and shaved parmesan on top. Sorry for the blurry photo..need the new iPhone 5!

Steve Arvey, our favorite blues/jazz/ and miscellaneous anything and everything guitar player was there with Tony Smith, a fantastic harmonica player. The name of their group was the Delta Swamp Rats. Steve was playing a cigar box guitar. Cigar box guitars go back to the late 1880's. They were really made from cigar boxes and had fewer number of strings. Sort of the poor man's guitar back in the day. There's been a resurgence of cigar box guitars and a devoted following of musicians. Steve had a couple with him tonight.

Did you know you can call a harmonica player a harpist if you so choose? I did not know that. Tony was fantastic...He had FIFTEEN harmonicas on stage with him and they were all keyed to a certain note, so all he had to do was pick up the right one to play with Steve.

Together they made fantastic music, lots of Mississippi River/Delta blues or as Steve says...

a mixture of low down dirty blues of the 20's and 30's with modern Mississippi Delta Funk sounds. Cigar Box Screaming Slide Guitar with Big Tone Fat Sounding Harmonica mixed with a Heavy Drum Sound producing a unique sound that entrances people. 

Steve has a wonderful, chameleon like voice. His voice changes for the music that he plays. He's got some high ranges, man! He was the gravelly voiced blues singer this particular night....AWESOME! This duo is so great, they won a contest to represent the Suncoast Blues Society and are going to Memphis for the 2014 International Blues Challenge. We're excited for them!

We had a wonderful time chatting with musicians this evening, and getting to hear Steve and Tony at Ocean Blues was just icing on the cake.......

Saturday, September 14, 2013

News From Florida....

"RECORD GATOR CAUGHT!".....Holey Moley! This one's a humongous one! With an ugly mug for sure! BUT, it wasn't caught in Florida, it was caught in Mississippi. Oh, well, you know Sparky loves gators so she just had to share this gator news with ya! Over seven hundred, twenty-seven pounds and thirteen feet and three hours to land him....
Speaking of gators, did you know that truckers refer to blown tire debris as "gators"? The #1 road debris is blown tire pieces on our nation's highways. "Gators" are shredded remnants of 18 wheelers' truck tires. You can see why they call they call them gators after seeing the photo above, can't you? Most of the blown tires come from retreads or capped tires, news sources say. Since a new truck tire can cost 600 dollars or more, and a retread is around 200, you can't blame the truckers for purchasing the cheaper tires. Does it seem like there are a lot more "gators" on the roads these days? In our travels, it sure seemed that way. We've had a couple close calls from tires being blown right as we drove by a rig or two. Trying to avoid road debris is the cause of over 25,000 accidents a year in Canada and the U.S.

Other news....A young man was caught on a passerby's camera, messing with a turtle's nest here in Sarasota. Someone nearby saw him uncovering the nest and taking turtle eggs! He said it was an older nest and he was going to take the eggs home and release them later. Yeah, right, buddy. SHAME, SHAME! There are warning signs posted all over the place. He's a Florida native, he should know better! But, thanks to social media, they found him and fined him. Messing with sea turtle nests is a third degree FELONY, you can receive a fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail time of one to five years in prison. With only one in 1,000 baby turtles surviving birth and the arduous trip from the nest down to the water's edge, it's a miracle they even make it at all. Seagulls swoop in for the kill as the hatchlings make their way to the water if they don't manage to head in the wrong direction or the eggs and hatching babies get eaten by raccoons, fire ants or ghost crabs.

If you missed Sparky's post about the video of sea turtles hatching, be sure to check out her Facebook timeline page where the video is posted. (find me under "Jeannie Sparks") When you see how these little newborns struggle to get over little sand mounds to make their way to the sea, you will be all the more amazed at that they make it at all. No wonder turtle researchers and volunteers who work to help  them want people to fill in their sand castles and digs if they are near the nesting grounds.

OK, this is not really Florida news, but have you seen the cute Chevy "Spark" model cars? They come in Florida colors, at least this one is...Why does it not surprise Sparky that it is mauve? (The color EVERYWHERE in the house we bought!) And look at those pretty multi pastel houses just beyond the car. This was on Anna Maria Island, one of the hottest growing tourist destinations these days and a very charming, beautiful community.

Sparky has heard that pink is passé, and now the new color in vogue for 2014 is "Grape Ice" for this model. She'd be able to find her car in a parking lot a whole lot easier with this one! Jalapeño lime green is another choice for these cute little cars....(Oh, boy, hope she isn't thinking about a new car! says E.) Nope! Just got the Honda paid off, so gonna wait for awhile...Unless the car starts having problems which usually happens when you get the darn thing all paid for, right?
Back to gators again...Eldy just told Sparky that one of the subdivisions not too far from us, Heritage Oaks, sent out a newsletter to their residents to check the community pool before jumping in. Apparently, an alligator thought one of their pools looked very inviting, and decided to go for a swim!
Our community pool is safe, so Eldy went for a swim....a rarity!

And that's all the Florida news that's fit to print for today.....Bye for now....

Love this plant! It's called the Bird of Paradise -- seen all over our neighborhood

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wanna See the Baby Turtles Hatch?

Sparky wishes she could say that she saw them come out...We headed over for a third time to Coquina Beach where there are at least six marked turtle nests. The last time we were there, all six nests were dormant but the signs were still up, so we knew they hadn't hatched yet. This morning, about two weeks later, we were over to the beach early early, before sunrise. Three of the nests had already been hatched. The signs had come down, we knew the babies had come and gone....They usually come out at night, so our chances of seeing them in the early dawn were slim to none.

Somehow, a guy over in Vero Beach happened to be on hand when some baby leatherback turtles started scratching above their heads. He saw the sand moving, trained his camera on the spot, and he caught the very first wave of babies. Here they come! You've gotta watch this, as it's just about impossible to be on hand for an amazing event such as this, and he captured it from start to finish...Thank you, Rick Bryant for sharing with your friends whom in turn, shared it on Facebook and it made its way here. ..Here's the link:

If that link doesn't work, you can go to my timeline page and see it there....I've watched it several times now, and it is just a wonderful thing to see....Jeannie Sparks

What else is new with Sparky and Eldo? Not too much...we've been going to estate sales AGAIN, and looking for bargains...Sparky saw a pair of "lawyer" bookcases yesterday, for 80.00. The bookcases had the lift up glass windows that slide back so you can get at your books and knickknacks, or stuff, and thought a pair of those would be great for fabric storage in the craft room. Back we went today, thinking we'd catch them at half off, or marked down a bit, but Sparky missed the sale by minutes. SOLD! to another person. Phooey! Oh, well...another bargain might come up again one of these days....Saw a huge jigsaw puzzle that was all about the different kinds of palm trees. Sparky hates jigsaw puzzles, too much concentration required on those 500-1,000 puzzle pieces . so she passed it by, but not before taking just a couple of photos of the box front to learn about some of the palms that are here in Florida. Eldy says he saw somewhere that there are over 2500 species of palm trees and just about all of them can be grown in Florida!

A trip to Hobby Lobby to stock up on fall greens and fall flowers to make wreaths....Finished my daughter's copycat hat from Etsy. Here it is on the original model. She was selling this hat on Etsy for 90.00 but it's no longer available, so I thought I'd try my hand at recreating it for Kerry.

And here's my version. It's barely on my head as my head is too big for it.

Turned out pretty cute, but it will look a lot cuter on her! Hope it fits! And that's all folks, for now.....

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Breakfast at the Tiki Hut, Anna Maria Island

Sparky had heard that there can be lots of dolphins seen around Anna Maria Island's piers, about 30 minutes from our house. It was a free fishing day, so we thought there might be LOTS of action both from the fishermen and the dolphins hoping to snag something. Off we went to Anna Maria Island....The first pier is sort of a historical one, but part of it has been shut down due to a restaurant failure and some remodeling issues. Some fishermen still come out to the pier part that's open and they fish...It's a beautiful setting, early in the morning.....We saw one dolphin in the distance....
We went to a larger pier next....The Anna Maria Island Pier...It has a working restaurant on the premises, and the prices were very reasonable. We were too busy looking for dolphins and talking to fishermen to stop and eat there today, but we'll try it another day....Did we see dolphins? Yep! One going down....
And one coming up....

Always interesting things to see and hear on the fishing pier...Not sure what these folks are looking for, but there's SOMETHING down there catching their eye.
If you're lucky, you might hear the latest fishing yarn of the one that got away...Or the one that gave you a fight...Eldy talked to a young man who had caught a small shark last night. The guy was somewhat wasted, wasn't watching what he was doing, and the shark promptly latched onto his wrist and bit him! The guy's friends had to pull the shark off his arm, leaving bloody bite marks.

As it was, walking around the pier, if you are not fishing, you gotta watch out for the arm back, ready- to-cast-swing from all these people fishing. Wonder if they ever hook somebody behind them? Everybody seemed to be careful today, on not hooking a really BIG catch, like Sparky!
reflections from the restaurant window, a safer place to stand!
By this time we were getting hungry..We thought we would eat at the Gulf Drive Cafe...It's totally tiki huts! A big giant one for a big seating area, another big one for the bar, and then individual ones out on the beach. What a setting!

You can eat inside the restaurant, on the boardwalk beside the restaurant, or on the beach. Naturally, we picked the was GREAT! Food was nothing out of the ordinary, but VERY reasonable prices for breakfast considering the setting. Most places we would have paid double for what we got and for being right out on the beach, your toes in the sand.

We watched the divers out a ways in the water, looking for the remains of a sugar boat down below in the waters...jet skis, paddle boarders, and the birds....
A beautiful morning, a beautiful day...and Sparky got to see her dolphins...And Eldo got to see some bikinis...Although not as many as he would have liked.   :-)