Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

I Have three gripes to file under STUPID STUFF this morning:

  1. I am in Key West on business for a few days. Yesterday, on the drive down, I stopped at a Shell station in Florida City before hitting the keys, since gas prices rise 30 cents a gallon the minute you leave the mainland. slid my credit card through the reader (I think that “pay at the pump” is one of the marvels of the modern world) and filled my tank. At the end the display asked me if I wanted a receipt. Since this is a business trip, I pressed “yes” and was rewarded with the following message on the display: “Your receipt is at the inside counter.” This happens to me about one every ten fill-ups and it infuriates me. I sighed, locked up the car, went inside, and waited in line for the cashier.”I’m on pump 4 and it says to come inside for a receipt. Why does it do that? Is it just out of paper?” I asked.”No, for some reason it does it every time someone wants a receipt,” the cashier replied.
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I readily admit that my family has always referred to me as “THE KOOK.” You see, I’m the only one who moved away from Beloved Illinois. I’m the only one who never had children. I’m the only vegetarian in our family. I’m the only one who thinks nothing of slapping a backpack on and flying off to some remote part of the world where I don’t understand the language don’t know a soul – usually without an advance reservation. And I’m the only one who passionately believes in alternative things like acupuncture, kinesiology and all forms of energy work, like Reiki (I am, in fact, a Reiki Master – but that’s another story).

As you may have gathered, Illinois is NOT my favorite place but, because my family is there and I love them dearly, I make the trek back to the Midwest every Christmas. This is always accompanied by a trip to the grocery store immediately upon arriving because none of them have anything in the house I can eat. My family’s idea of nutritious food is Iceberg lettuce – which, in addition to having no nutritional value whatsoever, tastes like cardboard. It’s not all their fault, though. Even the Read More

Check out the rest of my photo tour of Sarasota. The building below sits on the boundary between the Rosemary District and Gillespie Park, neighborhoods located just to the north of downtown. It houses the Rustic Grill Restaurant, which is reputed to be a great dinner spot. They’ve done a great job with the outside of this building – the adobe, the paint job, the landscaping, etc.

The Rustic Grill Restaurant in the historic Rosemary District

The Rustic Grill Restaurant in the historic Rosemary District

Architectural details at the Rustic Grill Restaurant

Architectural details at the Rustic Grill Restaurant

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Some days my creative juices abandon me and I can’t think of a thing to say. Other days I am so overflowing with things to say I hardly know where to start. Since today is one of those ‘overflowing’ days I decided it would be better to let my photos from the past week tell the story for me, so here goes – enjoy!

Sarasota News and Books

Sarasota News and Books

One day earlier this week I decided to veg out at a wonderful little bookstore – Sarasota News and Books – downtown on Main Street in downtown Sarasota, Florida. Not only do they have a great selection of books, they also have a delightful cafe with cute little tables and cushy sofas where you can enjoy a decadent dessert and a Cappuccino while you get lost in a novel.

The delectable little dessert below had a hard chocolate outer shell and was filled with layers of creme custard and chocolate mousse. I know I shouldn’t have, but I just couldn’t resist!

Deeeee-licious chocolate desert from the cafe in Sarasota News and Books

Deeeee-licious chocolate desert from the cafe in Sarasota News and Books

Several days this past week I’ve done walking tours of the Rosemary District, which is just north of downtown (where I live), as well as Gillespie Park, just east of Rosemary, snapping photos all the way:

One of the many sidewalk cafes on Main Street, downtown Sarasota

One of the many sidewalk cafes on Main Street, downtown Sarasota

Main Street facades are adorned with lively colors.

Main Street facades are adorned with lively colors.

A beautiful old building on Main Street that has been totally restored

A beautiful old building on Main Street that has been totally restored

Art Deco Door in downtown Sarasota

Art Deco Door in downtown Sarasota

Another old door in the Rosemary District

Another old door in the Rosemary District

I found this intriguing door knocker on an interior design shop just down the street from my apartment. I shot it with deliberately low contrast....

I found this intriguing door knocker on an interior design shop just down the street from my apartment. I shot it with deliberately low contrast….

....then used Photoshop to posterize the image. I love Photoshop!

….then used Photoshop to posterize the image. I love Photoshop!

More tomorrow…..

On Friday, January 19th, St. Petersburg, Florida officials raided a community of homeless people who had taken up residence in tents under the I-375 overpass. Ostensibly this was due to concerns about fire code and health and safety violations: people smoking and cooking inside their tents, tents located too close to the street, and the lack of permits. To remedy this situation police and fire officials showed up with scissors, knives, and box cutters and slashed the tents to the ground, in some cases with the inhabitants still inside. The whole operation took less than ten minutes. Watch the graphic video below:

This, however, was not the first time that the homeless made the local news during the past week. St. Pete is still reeling from bad publicity over two homeless men who were recently shot and killed in broad daylight in two separate incidents, just 30 minutes apart, two days prior to the raid. The murders shot fear through Read More

I was sitting at a little table on the sidewalk in front of C’est La Vie French Cafe and Bakery yesterday, enjoying a cup of coffee and minding my own business, when a couple of women sat down at the table next to me. Usually when I am eating alone I have my nose buried in a book and I am fairly oblivious to what is going on around me. But in this case I just couldn’t ignore their conversation. The woman who monopolized the conversation (I’d be surprised if her lunch partner spoke more than a dozen words the entire time) was VERY loud and VERY British with a VERY proper accent. So although I was eavesdropping, there was no way around it. I’m sure the people across the street could hear her. As I am fond of saying, all things happen for a reason because it provided the subject for today’s post.

Eavesdropping at C'est la Vie in downtown Sarasota

Eavesdropping at C’est la Vie in downtown Sarasota

She told a story about coming to America and trying to fit in. She had heard that Americans like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so whenever she had guests, she served them in all varieties: plain peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and jelly with bananas, peanut butter and jelly with marshmallow creme, etc. Each time, her food went uneaten and she noticed that her guests were casting sidelong glances at each other or whispering behind her back as she brought out the serving tray. Eventually, someone took pity on her and asked about the sandwiches. Apparently, in the UK the word jelly refers to Jell-O. I just about choked on my croissant trying to hide my laughter. Something was definitely lost in translation.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a bunch of Yogis during a retreat in Thailand a couple of years ago. We were all sitting around after dinner discussing the different meanings for the same word in different cultures. Most of these people were from the UK and Australia and almost all of them had traveled to the US, so every one of them had funny stories Read More