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!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Simple Sunday- Island Style

Though the beaches are the best thing about Anna Maria Island, there are also a lot of other fun things to do. We spent Sunday just driving around, shopping, people watching and strolling about. Anna Maria Island is a mere seven miles long and has three small towns- Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.  

We walked down Bridge Street on Bradenton Beach...

The first bridge from the mainland to the island connected to the historic Bridge Street, though the current bridge now connects to Gulf Avenue several blocks north of Bridge Street.

*Note- to see photos full size right click, then click open in new window*

After browsing through the shops on Bridge Street we drove to the northern end of the island to visit some of our favorite shops in the city of Anna Maria. Our first stop was at Ginny’s & Jane E’s which is a combination cafe, bakery and shop. They have some original art by local artists and lots of interesting resale items, a great little cafe and amazing baked goods. They have some of the best cookies I've ever tasted from a bakery. We always bring home a bag cookies for ourselves plus a few peanut butter and molasses cookies for the dogs.

Another favorite shop of ours is the Sand Dollar which is also located in the city of Anna Maria.

So many pretty items with a beachy theme...

I didn't notice the woman in this photo when I took it. But when I was editing the photos after we got home I had to do a double take because she looked so much like my mom a few years before she died.

Before we headed home at the end of the day we stopped at the Anna Maria City Pier to take some photos. Anna Maria City Pier was first built in 1911. Though the buildings built on it have long ago disappeared, the pier has been repaired and rebuilt several times after being damaged by numerous tropical storms over the years.  The restaurant and bait shop on the pier has changed hands many times, but have long been a favorite of locals and visitors alike. The first time I was on the island was when I came down to visit my mom and we ate at the pier restaurant. Their grouper sandwiches were her absolute favorite. Her ashes were spread several miles out from Anna Maria Pier.

And that's how we spent our Sunday. We have a simple life, but damn, I love it!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Bitch Knocked Me Flat On My Ass

 ROM took the day off work Friday and we ran away to the beach. The Gulf was feeling quite feisty and there was a strong rip tide. Sadly we've had two children visiting the island drown due to rip currents this summer. Unfortunately, I saw several young kids out in the water by themselves in spite of the rip tide warnings. But no drownings Friday, thank goodness. I got knocked down a couple of times and sand up my butt- maybe I'll crap a pearl?

Three new sea turtle nests! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Giant Threatening Peckers and Tropical Storm Dorian

Yesterday we loaded the dogs up and took them for their yearly vet checkup and shots. It was late in the afternoon and we were the only ones in the waiting room. Isabella was her usual cowardly self cowering between my legs but Emmy was hyped up and wanting to sniff and explore everything. ROM made her sit on his lap and thank gawd he did. As we sat there waiting the door flew open and some guy came in with the biggest pit bull I've ever seen. He had the dog by the collar while dragging an attached 20 foot tie out chain. And of course the big bruiser immediately fixed his eyes on Isabella and started with a low rumbling growl. For some reason she's like a magnet for aggressive dogs, as if they sense her timidness. She has been chased and attacked at the dog park, and even attacked by a neighbor dog as we walked down the street while she was on lead. I ended up with torn knees, ripped clothes and a broken finger, thank gawd Bella wasn't hurt. But back to yesterday and the monster dog... 

As soon as the dog saw Isabella he started struggling with his owner and began to slip out of his collar. Bella, sensing things may be going bad, pressed herself back as far as she could between my legs shoving the chair against the wall. Even Emmy was taken aback for once- she's usually ready to tangle with anything regardless of size. I was so glad she kept quiet, stayed on ROM's lap and didn't challenge this big ass dog. As the dog struggled to get it's head out of the collar, the owner bellowed something in Spanish, grabbed the dog by the neck and gave it a stern shake and pulled the collar back down around his neck. He continued to bellow at the dog in Spanish and the dog settled down but never took his eyes of Bella. As the guy firmly held the dog he told the receptionist he didn't have an appointment but wanted something to repel mosquitoes. As she nervously asked the guy to tighten the dog's collar, she went on to tell him they didn't have any products to repel mosquitoes and to try Petsmart. I sat there keeping an eye on the aggressive dog, while I held on to Bella's collar and tried to keep her from crawling through the wall behind us.  Then suddenly, never taking his eyes off   Isabella... the bruiser's nasty red pecker suddenly poked out- ewwwww! I didn't know if he wanted to breed her, kill her or both.  Of course she's spayed but that didn't seem to matter at all to this big brute. By the time the guy dragged the dog back out the door I thought both Isabella and I were going to need to be sedated. Now I'm not one to think all pit bulls are bad and should be banned, but this particular pit scared the bejezzuz out of me!  The guy is obviously an irresponsible pet owner to not even have an appropriate leash and collar on the dog. It's owners like this guy that give pits such a bad name. 

I can't tell you how relieved I was when the scary dog left, and the rest of the visit was a breeze. After escaping possible rape and carnage, Bella surprisingly settled down and got through her exam, shots and blood taking without a whimper. And the snake-killing-tough-as-nails Emmy? She cried like a baby when she got her shots and spent the entire evening in her bed acting like she was dying. We left the vet's office over $700 poorer with a year's supply of flea/heart worm prevention and a new script for Bella's drug of choice- generic Xanax. I thought it was hilarious that Walgreen attached a warning to not mix her Xanax with alcohol or to drive after taking it. .

And she just may need that bottle of Xanax. Hurricane season is from June 1st and Nov. 30th. During hurricane season I always start my day off by checking the NOAA website to see if anything is brewing in the Atlantic or Gulf. This morning I saw that there is a new named storm churning it's way west across the Atlantic. The yellow circle doesn't concern me because it's so far north, but we'll have to watch Tropical Storm Dorian to see where he decides to go. Isabella has never gone through a hurricane.  If Dorian comes to visit I bet she'll want martinis with her Xanax and I'll have to remind her of the warning not to mix the two. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

And Then The Sun Came Out...

While the east coast roasted from the searing heat, here on the south west coast of Florida we were cooler than usual due to the clouds and rain we had all week. Good lord, we had rain- day after day of rain. Our sump pump under the house worked overtime, Isabella spent the week shaking, my tan faded and the grass grew like it was on steroids. But the cooler temps were a nice reprieve from our usual summer heat.

Saturday morning the rain and clouds moved on and the sun came out. And it was hot hot hot!!! Not to mention humid- so gawd awful humid. And we had to go to an outdoor birthday party, sweet jezzus it was sweltering. I lasted two hours and by that time I felt like a big ol' oil slick. I swear even my toes were sweating. I was never so glad to get home to the air conditioning and a cool shower.


We spent Sunday at the only place one should be on hot summer days- the beach.

This guy was standing guard to make sure no one disturbed the dunes...

This mellow gull was hoping to enjoy the day lazing on the beach ...

But a little boy had other plans for the gulls. He tirelessly chased the gulls all frigging afternoon. I was waiting for one of them to pluck his eyes out or at least crap on him.

Lots of colorful umbrellas dotted the beach...

And a new sea turtle nest had been laid since our last visit to the beach...

And to finish the weekend off I indulged in sheer hedonism by spending Sunday night eating huge amounts of orange sherbet ice cream as I watched my favorite shows- True Blood, Dexter, Ray Donovan and The Killing. Life is good...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tortellini and Broccoli Salad Recipe Perfect For Hot Humid Weather

Seems we're finally out of the drought mode in SW FL. We haven't had a summer with normal rainfall amounts in years, but this summer looks like we're finally getting back to normal. I woke up to rain this morning and storm clouds to the east...

Storm clouds to the west...

A soggy side yard...

And toadstools in my front yard...

The rain was long gone by noon and then it was just hot and humid. It's that time of year that heavy foods just aren't appealing so I looked thru my summer recipes and decided a chilled tortellini and broccoli salad sounded good. I'm going to take the basic recipe and make it a bit more interesting by adding some pine nuts, cheese, bacon, and black olives. I think we'll have this over the weekend with a hunk of good bread. It will be the perfect supper after a day at the beach (or after sitting on the lanai watching it rain all day- you know the quote "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men"). Can't control the winter but I can make a yummy Tortellini and Broccoli Salad...

 Tortellini and Broccoli Salad

6 slices bacon
20 ounce bag o frozen cheese-filled tortellini
3 heads fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1 c. pine nuts, chopped almonds, chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds
1 red onion,  chopped
1 c. diced celery
Sharp Cheddar cheese- cubed or shredded or crumbled feta cheese
Black olives
cherry tomatoes
Seasonings of your choice

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Any dressing of your choice- Italian, creamy cucumber & some fresh mint, Greek dressing, blue cheese.

1. Brown bacon until crisp, then crumble.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook tortellini in boiling water according to instructions on bag. Drain, and rinse under cold water.

3. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar to make the dressing. Or a dressing of your choice

4. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, tortellini, bacon, celery, cheese, sunflower seeds or nuts, black olives, cherry tomatoes and red onion. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Chill

If you make this, let me know what ingredients you used and if you liked it!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Weathering the Storms, Whether Emotional or Weather Related

The last few weeks have been a blur - family drama, stress and illness. The torrential rains and storms we had in the first week of July were symbolic of the crap going on in our lives. As the sump pump in the crawl space under our home sucked up mucky storm water and sent it into the sewer line, I imagined it sucking out all the unhappiness that had descended on us in late June.

Most of our family has passed, and we have distanced ourselves from the ones who are still alive due to their love of drama and never ending life problems of their own making. There's a price to pay for being stable and functioning, and we've paid it over and over again. We've repeatedly been the go to people for loved ones who get themselves into messes, and once again the phone rang asking for our help. Even though I swore many times in the past that we were done, that we are not a rescue service for dysfunctional people and that our home and checkbook were closed, we got sucked in once again by a desperate story.  And once again it ended up biting us in the ass. To make a long story short, after a week of chaos, lies, too many tears and lots of money, we sent our loved one on their way with a plane ticket and enough money to get themselves set up far away from us. And once again I said I'm done, no more... only this time I changed my phone number and deactivated the email addy this person always used to contact me.

And then I got sick- ugh... Good lord, I look like a sister wive with that updo, don't I? My only excuse is that I was sick, damn it!

I spent an afternoon at an urgent care clinic the last day of June where they injected drugs into my fanny, gave me a breathing treatment and sent me home with hundreds of dollars worth of meds.  Between the meds and ROM keeping me in a steady supply of Panera soup, I eventually kicked the shit out that stinkin' pneumonia and sinus infection.

By the 4th of July I was finally sure I was going to live so I made some of ROM's summer favorites- deviled eggs, potato salad and baked beans. The rains continued on the 4th and we had to broil our brats inside but, hey- it wasn't soup!

To say we were needing a beach day is an understatement. Yesterday we finally had a rain free day and headed for the island. Though clouds moved in and out throughout the day and there were moments of light rain, nothing could ruin this day on the beach for us.

The beach was a bit messy with lots of seaweed and shells washed in from the storms the previous week. It reminded me of years ago when I lived in IL. A girlfriend and I decided we absolutely had to  do seaweed wraps (I now can't even remember why)  and spent a small fortune obtaining it. And here is all this seaweed for free-LOL

This woman with her little leopard print bag must be from New Jersey...

I love how in the summer the laughing gulls get red in their beaks. Looks like he dipped his beak in can of red paint...

Lots of shells...

I wonder what she's reading? I need to find a good summer beach book...

Lots of seaweed...

Look at this exquisite tiny shell ROM found...

On our beach walk we saw this turtle nest, far enough back that it should be safe from any tropical storms that may visit us...

Bea, I took this pic just for you. Notice the name spelling on my shoes?

I watched this little snowy egret for at least an hour as he stalked the shoreline looking for yummies to eat...

And this gull gave him the dickens when he got too close... which I plan on doing if anyone tries to crash our happy home again ...