In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memories of My Crime Family's Summer Heists

No beach for us this past holiday weekend. We always avoid Anna Maria Island on holiday weekends- traffic and parking is a bitch, and the island beaches are always overrun with people. So we hung around the house watching movies and gorging on grilled guacamole burgers, sweet corn and root beer floats.

As I was a cleaning the sweet corn I remembered the corn we ate when I was a kid. I hadn't thought about our strange corn ritual in years and was laughing so hard I could barely speak as I shared the story with ROM the other day. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I come from a quirky bat shit crazy family.  As strange as the corn story is, it's actually one of the tamer tales from childhood. But I don't want to overwhelm you with the wilder stories, so I'll stick to the corn story today...



Sweet corn was a staple of summer meals for people who lived in the Midwest. There were even sweet corn themed summer festivals and competitions for those who grew it in their gardens. Of course my family couldn't do something as normal as having a summer garden, oh hell no! Instead of growing our own sweet corn or buying it from the grocery store or vegetable stand, we stole ours. Not from a grocery store or anyone's garden. We stole field corn... not sweet corn but actual field corn that was to be used for livestock feed. If you've ever taken a summer drive in IL. you've seen  miles and miles of corn fields stretched out as far as the eye can see. And soybean fields. And stinky hog farms- gawd, I hated that smell that would fill the car as we'd drive by them with the windows open. But back to the corn...

Field corn is only edible for a few weeks during the growing season. My mom would plan out our corn foraging well in advance. She was the Don of corn stealing, carefully planning out our yearly crime spree. Long before the corn had grown to the size suitable for eating, we'd take drives to find and stake out fields that were easily accessible from the road with no houses near by so we wouldn't be seen- after all we were stealing. Once Mom found  a field suitable for our thievery, we'd make numerous trips back to the selected spot so she could detect the perfect time for the heist of our ill gotten corn. When she deemed the corn ready she'd give us each a bag and send us into the field like we were the freaking Children of the Corn.  For several weeks Mom would stuff us with corn like she was fattening us up for market. I remember that we all thought it was delicious, but suspect its tastiness had more to do with the butter and salt we slathered on each ear rather than the quality of the corn.

I can't remember exactly when or why our strange summer ritual started- wish I had asked my mom about this before she died. I know it wasn't because we couldn't afford to buy real sweet corn. I mean come on, it isn't some expensive luxury item, especially in IL. where sweet corn is plentiful.  And we bought lots of other fresh summer veggies so surely we could afford corn. Maybe her family did it and she continued it? I'll never know...

As I approached my adolescence I came to realize how crazy it was to steal field corn and refused to participate in the corn capers.  It was only later in life that it occurred to me we were eating food that had been drenched with herbicides and pesticides like DDT (which was used until the early 70's). Between consuming chemical saturated field corn and attending schools in buildings built with asbestos it's a wonder I'm still alive.

I assure you we paid for the organic sweet corn we ate over the holiday weekend. And though we didn't enjoy the island this past weekend, we did have lovely sunsets right outside our back door...




Monday, May 20, 2013

Water Calls To Us All...

People universally seem to be drawn to bodies of water...  streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and oceans.  As a kid I remember spending many summer days playing in the neighborhood creek, swimming at the local summer camp lake and water skiing on the Mississippi River. Now I'm blessed to be just a few miles from the Anna Maria Island beaches. 






This guy was close enough to ride his bike to the beach...





Even birds are attracted to water like this cute little sanderling that flew in to feast on critters that wash ashore and hide under the sand ...





And this hungry Ibis...


And of course kids love water whether it's a kiddie pool in the backyard or the Gulf of Mexico






Love of water doesn't abate even as we get older. This grandpa was teaching a little girl about fishing...



Even cowgirls love the water...








At the end of the day we had to wait for the bridge to go down so we could return home. If only I had won that big Lotto last Saturday night, I wouldn't have to go across the bridge to get home. I could just walk in  my back door... maybe next week...


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Beachy Weekend...

Another beautiful beach weekend- warm, breezy and sunny. The Gulf water is now around 80 degrees and perfect for swimming. Summer has arrived in SW Florida...

I love seeing the beaches, dunes and sea oats rebounding from the damage TS Debby caused last June. Even though TS Debby destroyed many sea turtle nests, it still turned out to be a record year for our shelled friends. And the first turtle nest of this season has already been buried under the warm sand. Hopefully no storms will destroy this year's turtle nests. 


As I walked down the beach this guy was buried in the sand, but when I walked back they had switched and the little girl was the one buried. I've often wondered if any one has broke their leg walking the beach at night and falling in one of the many holes left by kids. 




These two guys were interesting. I'm assuming the stocking caps are part of their culture or religion? I can't think of any other reason someone would wear dark colored stocking caps when it's almost 90 degrees and the sun is beating down.



I never grow tired of watching little kids playing on the beach. No whining, tantrums or pouting at the beach... just laughter and joy.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Surfers, Tiny Beach Beauty and Cranky Gulls


Not a cloud in the sky Sunday, but it was sure windy with rough water. There was a riptide warning so most people were staying on the beach sun bathing and reading. A couple weeks ago a little 6 year old  boy got caught in a riptide and drowned. So sad that some people don't heed the warnings. I have to admit that when we first moved here I ignored the warnings until I got caught in a riptide. It sure made a believer out of me. 





The Gulf water usually doesn't have the kind of waves needed for surfing, but these women were taking advantage of high waves Sunday afternoon...




See this gull cocking his head, looking up as another gull was coming down to land by him-




I think he was wanting alone time because he turned his back on his visitor-



And he squawked out a "good riddance" after the intruder flew off. 



A man proud of his Scottish heritage..,


This young woman looked like she was shooting a shampoo commercial. She was sure flinging her hair around and doing some great poses. 



I was totally captivated by this little girl. Such a tiny beauty! She was lost in a world of her own as she discovered treasures under the sand. She didn't need anyone to entertain her, just the beach and her own imagination. 


After carefully examining each treasure, she returned them back into the Gulf to someday wash ashore again to fascinate yet another beach lover.