Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcome to 2011

For all the dreams, hopes and wishes you may have reached for in 2010, on my 100th gallery post, I wish you the chance in 2011 to achieve them all..

Welcome to the year of new beginnings! Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Merriment

Christmas took on added significance for me this year as I remembered those who were no longer here to share it and enjoyed the presence of those who were.

I developed a little video of our family day and thought I would share it.

May each and everyone of you experience your share of joy this season and into the New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I took a moment to visit the window display of a local flower shop to help get into the spirit. As usual click each photo for a better view.

I was not the only one. I always smile when I see children in the crowd because I remember the excitement I felt as a child during this time of the year.

There were soldiers... I heard one little girl shout with joy "The Nutcracker!"

There were angels...

A Christmas dog, which really fit the bill because I now had one impatiently waiting in the car...

penguins to really set the mood...

A wondrous Christmas tree , for all those expecting presents...

And finally the baby in the manger.

I would like to take this moment to wish all the best of the season and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gardens of Sarasota

I mentioned in an earlier post that there was so much to see in Sarasota that I decided to divide my photos into separate sections, and today I'm featuring the gardens of Sarasota. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

Sarasota has a humid subtropical climate and is lush with all types of foliage. You can understand why John Ringling covered the grounds of his mansion with every type of plant one could imagine. Above is a shot of the gardens in the Ringling Art Museum.

The rose garden for the mansion is huge as you can see from this shot. There was every kind of rose plant you could imagine, but the one below called "Double Blush" I thought was particularly beautiful.

And, especially interesting were the Banyan trees that doted the grounds. the guide told us that Thomas Edison gave Ringling nine trees and this is what they have now become. They are a sight to marvel at because the tree grows so high and then the branches begin to send out roots that make their way to the ground and appear almost like stalactites in a cave somewhere.

This statue in the tree is a major feature of the tour.

There is something to be said for being nice to the people you encounter during an adventure. We went by the Sarasota Garden club on Sunday only to discover it was closed. But an officer of the club drove up to make some copies and gave us a personal tour. I found these "Pitcher plants" quite curious. I later learned it is in the Fly Trap family!! And, the Purple Pitcher Plant is the floral emblem of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

The back view is just as other worldly!

For those of you in the area considering a wedding, the courtyard resembles a tropical island that would make a great setting.

These shots give a real sense of just how tranquil the location is.

And next, the Selby Botanical Gardens. they are noted for their extensive Orchid and Bromeliad collections.

I particularly like this shot below because the Spanish Moss (which is in the Bromeliad family I found out) almost appears to be water flowing from the fountain.

And finally, as our day came to a close we spent a little time having a bite to eat sitting by the inter coastal. But have no fear, there are still photos from the Ringling Art Museum for a later date...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ca'D'Zan: The Greatest Show on Earth

I mentioned in my last post that John Ringling lived large and Ca'D'Zan, his Venetian Gothic palace, lived up to his slogan for the circus: "The Greatest show on earth." It is an imposing landmark in the Sarasota area.

I say that because it is a monument to all the excesses of the Gilded Age where several families made huge fortunes and then spent a considerable amount of time acquiring things to show off their wealth. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

Ringling took this approach to a new level and the term excess does not begin to describe the size of the mansion and the grounds surrounding it. This aerial shot of it from the 1930's gives a view of the amount of land that was a part of the grounds.

Every inch inside and out is literally covered with very expensive tiles, stained glass, or very dramatic paintings. Notice the ceiling on a balcony (right) near the front of the house...

or the stain glass facade that faces the dock to the mansion...

and the gilding around Ringling's desk in an office complete with a Japanese gong.

It is as if John and Mable Ringling thought that more was better in the race to out-shine all the other millionaires and every room is stuffed to overflowing with every expensive item one could imagine. The Living Room is a perfect example of a room being almost crowded with expensive things...

and then your eyes move upward to the second floor. There is opulence on top of opulence.

Make a 180 degree turn and there is the inside view from those stain glass windows facing the dock a few pictures above.

Take a few more steps and the ceiling in another portion of the Living Room again overwhelms you.

The Dining Room is more of this overwhelming opulence.

It is almost ironic that the only room that is not overwhelming to the eye is the bar. You know that the items in the room are expensive, and yet the decor is tasteful and seems pleasantly calm in relation to the rest of the mansion.

And then, the final irony. For a man who had such wealth during the 1920's, the 1930's were not kind. The stock market crash and the following depression wiped Ringling out. He was removed as the head of the circus corporation, his wife Mable who helped him acquire so many of the things shown in the house, died in 1929. The mansion was the only asset he retained. The man who once was one of the wealthiest men in America died with only $311 in his bank account and he willed the mansion to the State of Florida. It was as if a cruel joke had been played on Ringling and the mansion now stands as a glimpse of the excesses of the roaring 20's.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sarasota And The House Of John

No trip to Sarasota Florida would be complete without visiting the Ringling Museum and Mansion.

John and Mable Ringling wintered in Sarasota beginning in 1909 and in 1927 moved his circus to the Sarasota area during the off season. The Ringling Museum looms large in the city. As usual click each photo for a better view.

The grounds are divided into exhibits that highlight the Ringling Brothers Circus, John and Mable's mansion, and the Ringling Art Museum which houses the couple's art collection. There is so much to see that I decided to divide the photos into to two parts: the Circus followed by the Ca'D'Zan mansion and grounds.

The exhibits of the circus cover such items as costumes, colorful trailers,

and the mobile cannon(the one the man was shot out of under the "big top.")

There is a special section for one of my childhood favorite clowns, Emmet Kelly. I never liked clowns but Kelly was different. "Weary Willie" based on the hobos of the depression was somehow lovable and sad at the same time.

His popularity spanned generations and that lovable sadness is evident in the picture shown here.

The circus could almost be considered a traveling city because there were so many people involved in producing "The Greatest Show on Earth."

Ringling developed train travel into almost an art form in terms of the organization that was required to pack up and arrive at the next city. So much so that during WWII the army came to study how they organized the transport!

On a personal level, John Ringling was able to bring sheer opulence to his own travel by train as he followed the circus. His personal car measured 79 ft long, 14 ft high, and 10 ft wide, which allowed him to include all the amenities of a traveling millionaire.

The pictures of his bathroom (with a full size tub)...

and lounge car illustrate that he wanted for nothing and had all the comforts of home, just on rails!

John Ringling was a man who lived large! And, we will see just how large when we view the mansion Ca'D'Zan...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Even the Best Laid Plans...

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Sarasota, Florida and I have to admit in my haste to get out the door for the three hour drive, I forgot my camera. Not to worry, Alex had a small spare camera that he carries to take quick shots and I was able to use it to get highlights of the area.

But, even the best laid plans can sometimes have a flaw... the adapter to download them is at another location. So you wonderful travel fans will have to wait a day to allow me to download and add them to the blog.

Adding to the level of anticipation, I have posted an aerial shot of the city above and stuck in this "under construction" sign!

And who says I don't have a sense of humor?!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day in the Life...

Today is Thanksgiving, a national day when Americans are supposed to stop and give thanks. It is usually a day when families gather from all over the country for a large meal of turkey and sometimes tense togetherness. I started my cooking last night so while waiting as the turkey bakes, I decided to give you a glimpse of the lead up to the big day. As usual click each photo for a better view.

Alex has taken the week off and we are enjoying the unhurried feel of each day. Over the weekend we spent some time trying to decide what to do. But, Sunny-Girl who has now become an important part of the family, was a consideration. While she slept we pondered where to go and what to do.

We decided on St Augustine but then Sunny-Girl woke up, gave Alex the "puppy look", and we decided to change our focus and enjoy why you live in Florida... and planned to go to the beach!

Sunny-Girl is a miniature Dachshund and it was a little cold but we wanted her to enjoy her first outing near the water, so packaging was a concern. First we tried a carry bag. She fit but had a look that said "You have got to be kidding!"

Next came our final solution. It was perfect! She could see, sit or stand with a little warmth, while we still had some control. We laughed and laughed at the look of that little head peaking out of the bag.

And so, we were ready to go. But, we were pleasantly surprised that it was warmer than we had anticipated and all our preparation was unnecessary as we watched Sunny-Girl run off down the beach. We spent our time taking pictures of the sail boats off in the distance...

and following Sunny-Girl down the beach. She might be a dog but every now and then she knows how to direct her owners to enjoy a good thing when it presents itself!