Friday, January 13, 2017


When I was about 9 years old, my 2 older sisters were the first and second lead in the play Carousel at their high school.  They both had beautiful singing voices;  the oldest played Julie, the lead female character and was a senior that year, while the next, the middle sister, played Carrie, the girl that has a safe, normal life.  That sister was a sophomore that year.  

I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade and witnessed the flurry of year long practice to learn lines and vocals.  We already had lots of classical music and show tunes for our record player, and Carousel with Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae was one of those records.  The tryouts were in September at the beginning of school, and the play was probably in April toward the end of the year.  I think both sisters lost weight from nerves, especially the oldest.  I was in awe of both of them.  I would stare at the pictures on the album cover and think how beautiful Shirley/Julie was, and how handsome Gordon MacRae/Billy.  They both had two of the most beautiful voices on Broadway, or anywhere for that matter.  Gordon MacRae reminded me of my dad in looks and voice, and Julie was the heroine.  I was so romantic at that age, so pulled in by the story and so disappointed at the unhappy ending.  I literally cried when I saw my sisters on stage because they did such a tremendous job that they became those characters to me during their performance.

If you don't know the story, it is about 2 young girls who work in the New England cotton mills on the Maine Coast in the late 1800's.  One girl is very intense and thoughtful and quiet - Julie, and the other, Carrie, has a beau who is in the fishing business and has great plans to marry her and have a fleet of boats and become rich.  One evening in the summer they go to the traveling fair that is in town and they ride on the Carousel.  Billy Bigelow, a rough, but handsome and charming barker works at the carousel.  Julie falls for him immediately, and although he fights it, he falls for her.  Carrie goes back to the mill house before curfew, but Julie stays out with Billy and that means getting fired from her job and getting a bad reputation.  Billy marries her, and doesn't think twice about slapping his wife, or cheating on her.  Julie's loyalty and steadiness draw him in, but irritate him at the same time.  He knows he isn't good enough for her, and, when she gets pregnant, he begins to fantasize about his son.  Suddenly he realizes it could be a girl, and reality hits him.  It is one thing to marry a willing girl and give her a bad life, but to bring an innocent child into a tawdry life is another.  He vows to provide for this daughter and get money any way he can.  He falls in with a criminal, Jigger, who has a plan to rob a large amount of money from someone carrying it to the bank.  Billy is desperate and goes in with Jigger.  Of course they get caught, Jigger escapes and Billy gets shot by a policeman and dies.  Julie is now alone, and the story skips ahead to her grown daughter, now a teenager.  Carrie's children are smug and pretentious, they know they are rich and spoiled.  They make fun of Julie's daughter, and she is an outcast because of her father.  She is lonely and intense like her mother, but she also has her father's sass, which makes her unpopular with adults.  Billy is in heaven and wants to come back to tell his daughter that he loved her, and is given one short day to somehow get this across to her without her seeing him or knowing he is there.  She senses his presence and is changed by knowing she was loved and that her father wasn't a creep.  Julie had always told her about him in loving terms, but she knew his reputation and why he died, and felt betrayed.  The movie ends with her graduating from high school and going out into the world with confidence in herself instead of the shame she had carried all her life.

The tragedy of a man who was raised badly, had lived unscrupulously and wanted badly to become legitimate and to be a good father, but doesn't know any way to accomplish this in time for the birth of his daughter, was so unbelievably sad to me.  It seemed so, well, tragic.  And then he dies in his attempt to make good, albeit robbing someone is not the best idea.

That play has never left me, especially the music that Rogers and Hammerstein crafted.  The songs are beautiful and haunting, and sung by Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae, they were the epitome of beauty to me.

I can still recall all the words to the songs to this day, and I am now 61 years old.  My favorite song from the entire production is Billy's "The Soliloquy" where he walks along the ocean shore and fantasizes about his relationship with his son, and how he won't let Julie make a sissy out of him.  And the whole tone changes when he stops suddenly and realizes it could be a girl.  "My Little Girl" is the second part of the Soliloquy and is unutterably beautiful.  I can sing that right through from beginning to end and see Gordon MacRae in my head in the scene from the movie.  

That story, that play, that music, and my sisters, both beautiful, playing and singing the female leads was magical to me, and it has engraved itself on my heart and my memory.  I can still feel the pathos of poor Julie making such a sorry decision as to fall in love with a roustabout, and that roustabout trying to beat the odds of his whole life to be a better man and a father.

Below is the song Carrie sings about her beau followed by "If I Loved You" with Billy and Julie, and "Soliloquy":

Billy and Julie fall in love:

  The Soliloquy:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve morning.  Up early to read my Bible, Handel's Messiah playing softly in the background.  Such quiet moments as these are precious.  Even the cats are subdued. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

La Victorio Arduino

I've been reading articles on the internet about history, theology, politics, the human condition.  For hours.  Then I clicked to a page that had this image:

Something about the picture arrested my attention.  The man appears to be very well heeled, leaning dramatically out of a train that has stopped for a momentary break at a Victorio Arduino Espresso machine.  With cup in one hand, our gentleman holds onto the train with the other hand via a cloth band attached to the ceiling for the purpose of steadying one while moving.  He is leaning precariously out, needing that bright cup of red to be filled with aromatic and potent espresso.  It is a lovely 1920's art deco piece of bright colors set against a black, night colored background of a steam-breathing train on glowing tracks.

If I could, I would find a way to get this print and frame it and hang it in my kitchen.  I love it.  You'd think I'd find something more momentous to write about, but this morning?  This picture says everything I want.

What is a Victoria Arduino Espresso Machine?  Feast your eyes on their web page.

This is coffee porn.  You've heard of auto porn?  There is a show that the BBC cancelled for expression of incorrect political thoughts, so the stars came to the US and have renamed it "The Grand Tour" that is the perfect embodiment of auto porn (it is available on  Glossy, streamlined, metallic machines with engines that men fantasize about are driven under various conditions by the 3 stars.  Anyway, we're talking about coffee porn.

Look at this:

This is from the Victoria Arduino web site.  It looks like every possible coffee flavoring known to man at a steel countered diner for the rich and coffee addicted.  It is art deco in black and white like a vintage movie with Nick and Nora, except Nick would demand liquor in his coffee.

And then there is this:

I believe this is their "Venus" line.  They are works of art.  I can only imagine a machine like this in a home with a kitchen that is the size of a normal home, with lots of sleek appliances in black and more than one cooking island.

Feast your eyes and then return to reality.   Victorio Arduino's web site is eye candy and fun to peruse.

On a completely different note, this is what is roosting in my backyard trees at night......

An iguana who is rather large.  How he balances and sleeps on those thin branches at the top I have no idea, but he does survey his "kingdom" rather well.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday Afternoon and Saturday Morning

Yesterday was Friday and it was a beautiful afternoon.  Blue skies, cool and breezy for South Florida.  I am a creature of habit and guilt.  There is almost always a voice in my head telling me I need to get home and clean/do laundry/cook/crochet/make items for Etsy/WORK IN THE JUNGLE YARD, etc.....but I resisted.  I told myself it is a good thing to do on a Friday afternoon to take one's camera and head for a lesser visited park.  I had no agenda, no special birds to look for, just perhaps to pick up some more Live Oak acorns for my tiny tree reindeer ornaments.

Since I have a sedentary job, I don't walk much, and, at 60, that is not good.  Use it or lose it.  So I put on my sneakers, grabbed my 40 pound collection of camera and lenses, and headed out to Long Key Nature Center and Natural Area.  This is a part of Pine Island Ridge, an area that protruded from the Everglades waters back in the 1800's, and where Seminole Indians took refuge from the soldiers who could not follow them at that time.  Back then this area was deep in the glades and hard to find.  There are lots of beautiful trees, mostly Live Oak, along this ridge which is now bisected by Flamingo and Hiatus Road.  In the 1950's this area was made into a kind of Indian village/old west tourist attraction.  Then in the 1970's, the Kapok Tree Restaurant was built there in all its' Greek Revival glory.  There are white Greek pillars around the grounds of the park today although the main building of the restaurant is long gone.  Native trees and bushes have been encouraged to grow, and there is a lovely nature walk among the Live Oaks.  

First I looked for acorns, but it seems the critters had been there first and I didn't find much at all. I guess it is a bit late in the acorn season.  

The air smelled so fresh and the sky was an intense blue with lots of fluffy white clouds.  Since it was about 3:30pm, the afternoon sun made everything brighter and more vibrant.  Below are some pictures I took as I meandered and played with the camera settings.  I'm a total amateur while my husband is much more knowledgeable about photography.  I try to master the magic triangle of aperture, ISO and shutter speed.  I understand the concept, but translating that into the many buttons and knobs on my Canon is a challenge.

This morning - Saturday - I heard the call of exotic parrots heading for our Wax Myrtle tree which is in seed.  Every year around this time, Blue Crowned Parakeets come to our yard to crunch (you can literally hear them all crunching on the berries - sounds like popping popcorn) on Wax Myrtle berries.  Today is was about 2 dozen birds.  At the bottom, below the pictures from the park are some pics of the beautiful parrots.
Below is Beautyberry - a prolific native plant that is edible for humans and a favorite of birds.  The berries are a beautiful shade of purple/pink.

Moss hanging from a tree

 A view of the pond by the entrance of the park

On the nature walk among the trees I spied this small group of ferns and grasses growing out of a hole in a tree trunk.

Another pond farther to the northwest of the park along a horse trail

Yet another pond with a large white heron in the distance fishing for dinner.

Possum Haw holly

Muhlenbergia Capillaris, better known as Muhly Grass, a popular landscape plant.  The lovely reddish color of the grasses in the sun is one of my favorite sights.

Unknown seed pods - I wish I had picked some.  They didn't look like much until I saw them through the camera lens.

A small jungle around the ponds area.  There is literally no path through this and it is very dark and overgrown with all kinds of vines, palms, bushes and trees tumbling over one another.

South Florida has some BIG spiders, like the beautiful Golden Silk Orb Weaver.  They build their webs from tree to tree, but this nest is not one of theirs.  It is messy and is full of tree litter and dead leaves.  No spider in sight.  The Golden Silk Orb Weaver stays right in the center of his web and is always visible.  Don't know what made this huge messy web.

Unknown plant with tiny white flowers getting ready to bloom.

This tiny flower was in muddy wet ground.  It was so small I barely saw it. 

Gotcha - vine reaching out and grabbing a branch.

And now for the Blue Crowned Parakeets AKA Blue Crowned Conures.  I took a bunch of photos and a lot didn't come out.  Enough did, however.  I am sure going to miss this aspect of birding when we move to Idaho next year.  Boy will THAT be a change, but one I am looking forward to - provided everything works out as planned.  Often that doesn't happen, so I'm keeping an open mind. 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pictures Around Home and South Florida

Finally the weather is cooler and drier and pleasant.  Yesterday we went out into the Everglades via route 27 to the left turn at Holeyland and Rotenberger Wildlife Management Areas, then through the Seminole village on 833, the to route 835 and finally into Clewiston for some ice cream cones.  Then we drove home.  We got a few pictures, not to mention the critters in our back yard.  First is an immature female Belted Kingfisher - they are notoriously hard to photograph because they are so skittish and fly away before you get a shot.  This one was in some bushes and I spied her because the sun shone off the little white spot on her chest.  She thought I couldn't see her - no matter how I pointed my camera and got a bit closer, she was convinced I couldn't see her. 

Next pictures are from about a week ago when a beautiful cardinal who must be migrating stopped in our yard for a day.  I so hoped he'd stay, but I was glad he stopped and let me take some pictures.

I didn't know they eat peanuts, but he came nearly up to my porch door to drag a peanut away to a safe place to eat.

Our resident Mockingbird.  She loves the dry non-fat suet.  We buy peanut flavored.  If there is none out there, she will haunt the porch area until we see her and put some out.

The jewel of the finch set - the Painted Bunting - male.  We have one male this year and about three females.  The females are green and are affectionately called, "Greenies".  Quite original, eh?

About two weeks ago when it was still quite hot and sticky, we persevered and went to Long Key Nature Center.  I tried to capture this large Pondhawk dragonfly hovering in mid air.  

We have a Queen Palm in our back yard.  She is flowering beautifully and the wheat color of the flowers would be a beautiful wall paint shade I think.

These little Sparrows seems to be hanging about their "porch" looking out.

In mid October I went up to Lake Placid, FL to visit my mother.  On the way back, I took a detour from route 27 to 78 just before getting into Moore Haven.  I remembered that at that time of year there are a couple of fields full of Tickseed flower that are absolutely beautiful about 10 or 12 miles down the road toward Okeechobee.  I was not disappointed.  There were storm clouds in the distance.  I have always loved the summer clouds of Florida.  They are overpowering in a flat landscape and so dramatic.  The fields of Tickseed bloom in mid October every year and are in a protected area along one of the Fisheating Creek loops.  The road you turn down to see the flowers is Banana Grove Road and it is not paved.  Traveling north on 78, you make a left onto Banana Grove Road.  There is some growth on either side of the path, so you have to drive far enough down where you can see into the distance.  The golden field is breathtaking as you'll see below.

This is Tickseed.  Imagine fields filled with these yellow flowers.....

In the distance you can see the yellow filled land.



Right there.

So many bees and butterflies and other pollinators hovering over and among the cloud of sweet flowers.

Little brown face surrounded by brightness.

Some unidentified berries on a log.

And lastly, yesterday after we got home from our jaunt into the Everglades, there was a pretty iguana sunning himself in the Queen Palm.