Archive for February, 2017
We’re still finding plenty to do – how can you be so busy even when you’re retired?!
Walking and wandering
The weather has been warm and sunny nearly all the time, so we’ve had plenty of opportunities for walks. Even when we go to places we’ve been before, there are often new things to see. When at South Lido Park (by the beach, at the southern tip of the island) a family of racoons ran right across our path.
We often see wildlife (especially pelicans and other birds) at the beach; human activity can be interesting too! We saw more birds when we went to Nathan Benderson Park for the first time. A large lake (used for international rowing competitions) occupies most of the park, but there is a footpath which goes all the way round.
We’ve always said that we cannot walk to the beach from our condo, but last Monday we proved this statement incorrect. For the second time this year, we walked across the Ringling Bridge to St Armand’s Circle; from there it is not far to Lido Beach, so we decided we might as well do a short stroll to the northern tip. It was an enjoyable afternoon, and proved we can walk to the beach – but of course we would not want to do so carrying our beach chairs!
A cat for a week
On Sunday 5th February Sandie was finally able to do her ‘foster training’ at the Cat Depot. She learned that foster carers are usually required for litters of very young kittens. This may involve bottle feeding at all hours – something we did not feel very keen about! In any case, ‘kitten season’ has not really started yet. But the following Saturday, to her surprise, Sandie had a phone call asking is she could foster an adult cat who was convalescent. She said yes, of course, and a couple of hours later Dimitri took up residence at Central Park 2. He was a stray who had been badly injured; skilful surgery had left him with one eye, and wearing a cone. We understood that we would have him for two weeks: after one week we’d need to take him back to Cat Depot to have the stitches removed, but then we’d have him for a further week to ‘build him up’.
Dimitri was friendly, affectionate, and settled in amazingly well. One regret about our present lifestyle is that we cannot have a cat, so it was lovely to have one around, if only for a short time. However, it was even shorter than we expected. When Sandie took him to have the stitches out, the vet announced that he was thriving, had put on weight and was ready for adoption! So she had to leave him there and return home alone. Still, she is able to see him on her regular visits to Cat Depot, and last Friday he was looking good (minus cone). He’s popular with the staff and volunteers, and we hope that he’ll find a good ‘furrever’ home soon.
On St Valentine’s Day there was a ‘sock hop’ at our clubhouse, i.e. a dance with music from the 50s and 60s. The band was good and it was great fun.
We continued our tradition of Friday night ‘pub crawls’, and added a couple of new venues to our itineraries: Towles Court (in central Sarasota) where there are lots of art galleries which open late on the third Friday of each month, and Walt’s Fish Market, which is south down the US41, and so popular we had to wait an hour for a table.
On Saturdays we usually go to the theatre, or the cinema. On Feb 11th we were back at the Asolo to see The Originalist, the next play in their ‘American Society’ series. The main character was the late Judge Scalia, about whom we had previously known very little. But once again it as a brilliant play, really gripping. We were less enthusiastic about Big Fish, which we saw the following week at the Players: the plot was weird and the music instantly forgettable.
A day in Venice
Yesterday, we spent the whole day, not just the evening, at Venice. Our Italian teacher, Sebastiano, had recommended the ‘Italian Feast and Carnival’, organised by the Italian-American Club there. He also told us that he was giving a talk on the ‘Art and Architecture of Venice’ that morning, and we were able to combine both events with a visit to our friends Sue and Ed. First stop was the Art Center, where Sebastiano gave his talk and then led us outside to visit one of the buildings he’d mentioned.
Next we went to the Italian festival, with Sue and her sister Alice who had arrived from Atlanta two days earlier. There were lots of food stalls (not all of them Italian!) and we watched the Tarantella Dancers perform.
Later that afternoon we went for a stroll around a park we’d spotted in the morning, close to the Art Center. Then we went to a dinner with Sue, Ed and Alice, at their community hall. There was music after the meal, but no room to dance, as the hall was packed. Finally we returned to the festival, where we danced to a band called Uptown Express, took photos of the funfair and watched the fireworks. A full day, but everything fitted in very well.
After our cruise to the Bahamas, we landed in Miami early on Monday 23rd January. As we were not in a rush to get back home, we decided to drive up the Atlantic coast before crossing the state. We had plenty of time for a stop on the way.
Better luck this year
We visited Jonathan Dickinson State Park in February last year, on our way back from Central America. But we were rained off – there was a heavy storm just after we arrived in the park, so after looking round the Visitor Center we had to leave. We decided to give it another try this year, but on our way north the clouds grew very dark and we thought we would be thwarted by the weather again. By the time we arrived in the park the sun was out again, but it was extremely windy.
Last year we bought a bumper sticker which said ‘I climbed Hobe Mountain’. This amused us because Hobe Mountain – said to be the highest point in southern Florida – is 86 feet at the summit. But we did not make it because of the rain, so we were determined to do so this year, and we walked up the short boardwalk, despite the wind blowing a hooley.
Next we took photos of the Loxahatchee River, then started on the Kitching Creek nature trail. At that point there was some rain, so we took a shortcut back to the car park. But then the weather improved again – so we completed the whole trail at the second attempt.
Back in Sarasota
We’ve continued the usual round of activities, including several short walks.
Strolling along Siesta Beach one morning we saw a most unusual sight – a sailing boat run aground. According to our local paper, the owner’s navigation system had crashed, and they were awaiting a high tide to tow the boat back out to sea.
We also enrolled for a basic Italian class – now there’s a clue to our plans for summer travel! – at the Suncoast Technical College, a few miles down the road. There are just five sessions, and we’ve had two so far. We’re impressed by our teacher who makes the sessions enjoyable and entertaining. Hopefully we’ll learn something too!
On Friday 27th January our friends Ruth and Robert from South Carolina came to visit. They were travelling from the Keys to the Panhandle, and an overnight in Sarasota fitted their plans. We showed them around our complex, including the bayou which is just behind one of our buildings. Ruth was very excited to spot three manatees in the water! The rest of the time we spent eating, drinking and talking – it was great to catch up with them again.
An artful weekend
On 3rd February we did our usual Friday night ‘pub crawl’. At least, that’s how it started. We walked to the Bayfront and had cocktails in Marina Jack’s. Then we headed up Main Street, thinking of having another drink in one of the bars there. But reaching Palm Avenue we bumped into some friends, who reminded us that on the first Friday of the month the art galleries there stay open late and offer music and drinks to people visiting. So why pay for wine when you can get it free? We looked at the art on display in four galleries, all very close together. In one we heard three singers from Sarasota Opera perform some famous arias. We then went back to the Bayfront to get something to eat!
On Saturday nights we usually go to the theatre or the cinema – there are plenty to choose from in Sarasota. This week was somewhat different – we went to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center to hear the Sarasota Orchestra perform ‘Tchaikovsky to Tüür’. Tüür is a contemporary composer from Estonia; in fact this was the US premiere of his symphony, and he was present in person. We are not music buffs (far from it) but we preferred the Tchaikovsky.
On Sunday morning the Sarasota Music Half Marathon took place. We walked part of the route in the hope of seeing and encouraging some friends who were taking part. We spotted Lynda and Kevin just as they reached the finishing line. Now a half marathon may not be considered art, but on our way back home we visited an art and craft exhibition which had been set up along the bayfront. All in all, it was a very cultural weekend!