Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel

The other day I was wondering why, with all the millions of birds in the world, you never hear of anyone being splatted with bird droppings. Maybe people have always talked about this and I just never noticed. Or maybe by thinking the thought I released some kind of fowl energy. Whatever, since the moment I had the thought I’ve been bombarded with bird talk. Take, for instance, the conversation of the folks at the table next to me this afternoon at the sidewalk cafe:

“It’s a hawk,” said the man.

“No, it’s a pigeon,” argued the woman.

“Hawk.”

“Pigeon.”

Pigeons roost wherever they can find a nook

Pigeons roost wherever they can find a nook

This went on for some minutes while I scanned the sky for said bird. No sign of it. I checked out the roof of the building. Nothing. Mind you, I was trying to be unobtrusive and act like I wasn’t listening to their conversation, so I didn’t want to look directly at them to determine WHAT bird they were talking about. Finally, out of the side of my eye I realized they were looking up. Everyone knows that it’s impossible NOT to look up when someone else is craning their necks, so of course, I looked up too. Perched in the tree directly above me was the biggest darned Pigeon I have ever seen.

I wasn’t even surprised when it happened. Splat! A direct hit on the big toe sticking out of my sandals. I did the best to wipe it off with the crumpled up napkins left over from my

lunch and headed off for my afternoon hike around town.

Birds on a wire

Birds on a wire

Within a few blocks my toes stopped feeling squishy and I resumed taking photos but at every turn I was confronted by birds. The building in

the above photo apparently has been fighting a battle of the birds for a long time. Every eave and gutter is lined with spiky metal prongs designed to deter the birds but it didn’t stop this Pigeon from making a tidy little nest – look at him checking me

out as I snap his photo, almost as if he is daring me to come up there and chase him out.

A little further along I chanced on this scene, straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” Getting WAY too freaky now – I think I’ll just go home and think happy thoughts the rest of the evening.

All this time I thought I was the only “Kook” in my family. Then my niece, Kelly, sent me this photo of her bedroom wall (probably a bad description, since you can’t see the wall for the photos). In case you can’t make it out, her bedroom wall, which is located in north central Illinois, is plastered with SURFING photos. Seems I created a monster… let me explain.

My niece's artsy bedroom

My niece’s artsy bedroom

About a year and a half ago my sister and her fiance visited me on the Outer Banks, where I lived at the time. My niece, Kelly, came along. Naturally, we spent a lot of time at the beach, so I threw my 8′ mini-longboard into the car, figuring Kelly might want to take a crack at surfing. I haven’t used the thing for years – not since my knee got so bad that I had to have surgery on it. It’s been sitting around the garage gathering dust and taking up space and I was just glad that someone would be getting some use out of it. Read More

On my way home from Key West yesterday I stopped for a late afternoon meal at the Lazy Days Restaurant in Islamorada. While the food is not the best (or the worst) I have ever tasted, they have outdoor seating on the rear deck, with a view of the ocean that just can’t be beat.

Islamorada Waterspout

Islamorada Waterspout

Islamorada After The Waterspout

Islamorada After The Waterspout

I glanced up from reading when the sun suddenly disappeared and saw an ominous-looking front rolling in, complete with a razor-edged eye wall. I grabbed my camera and had snapped two or three photos when this amazing waterspout reached its bony finger down from the skies. If you look closely you can see the seas being whipped up where the end of the spout makes contact with the ocean. After the storm passed the seas turned the most incredible shades of azure and turquoise.

One of the first things I’m going to do when I get home from Key West is go to the Opera. I’ve made the acquaintance of a couple of the musicians who play for the Sarasota Opera every year. I met them because my house-mate, Joan, is away for two months visiting her mother in Louisiana, so she’s rented out her bedroom to Sascha Jacobsen, who is the bass player for the Opera.

Sascha Jacobsen, bass player for the Sarasota Opera

Sascha Jacobsen, bass player for the Sarasota Opera

This is the second year that he’s roomed at Joan’s place and I have really liked having him around. Aside from the fact that it’s nice to have a man around (he takes out the garbage and fills the bottle for the water cooler – it’s a requirement for men), the house is often filled with music and he’s brought some of his fellow musicians around to meet me – like Kelly, who plays the violin for the Opera. So given the fact that I have never seen an Opera I have a sudden curiosity about it. Read More

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