Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lover's Key

Lover's Key State Park has been my favorite beach since childhood.  I remember fondly the cool mornings when we would sneak in before dawn.  We were on a mission to find sea shells.  You never knew what mysterious gifts the tide would unfurl.  First, you would cross the wooden tidal bridges that connect the key to the mainland.  The sun just a blush on the horizon.  Then, with flash lights in hand you would search the shore for precious jewels.  At least they were to me! 

By the time you reached the end of the key the sun was high enough to warm your back on the return.  I usually had a bag of conchs, tulips and cat's eyes. And the rest of the day to picnic, sun tan and watch for raccoons.  They would steal your lunch if you weren't careful. And the sea gulls would get the rest.

Nature's sculpture

Now days I'm happy to simply photograph someone else's shells. And stroll... 

But Lover's Key holds more than shells and sunshine.  Birds like this osprey love it too.

They were hard at work feeding their young. 

I love the pop up head!

I also love how their head feathers blow around in the breeze.  Majestic.

A white egret standing tough.

Lover's Key has changed over the years.  You probably can't sneak in anymore.  And the old wooden tidal walkways are now wide and strong enough for long trams. It's not quite so rustic and wild.  But still better than a beach lined with condos and restaurants.  The good old and new days.

And I'm giving a shout out to my friend Danielle who was at the beach with us on this day.  Hi Danielle!  We will have to do this again this year! See you soon. Siesta Key this time.

P.S.  I thought I'd share two new links. A Minnesota bird blog.  The blog title says it all. And...

I recently read this book and I highly recommend it for bird lovers. Michele Raffin tells a humorous, heart felt and engaging tale of her life among the exotic and endangered!

Bonus Random 5 Friday tidbits

1) I missed Random 5 Friday!  I love that I can do some creative writing.  Or post what ever trips my trigger.
2)  My birthday is March 1st.  My age?  None of your business. 
3) My father in law Jim and my Dad Sidney both have a birthday on March 10.  Go figure.  Happy Birthday Jim.  See you soon!
4) I have a date with Harry Potter in March.  Do you know where?
He wrote it in sea shells!  
5) My husband proposed to me on the beach at Lover's Key State Park.  We were shelling early in the morning.  I was on a mission to find shells.  Oblivious. Meanwhile, he dropped behind.  Then, on the way back he popped the question.  And look what he did!  He wrote it with sea shells.  He knew Lover's Key would be the perfect place.  It was.

Plus, if you missed last week's Scarlet Macaw photos, don't forget to scroll down!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Squawk Boxes

When I did this self portrait several years ago I was alluding to my sensitive side along with my love for animals.  At that time I'd never encountered a Scarlet Macaw in the wild.  Now I find this illustration humorous.  If I really had a Scarlet Macaw in my boudoir, peas would be the least of my concerns!

They are loud.  They mate for life.  And they constantly talk to their significant other.  Not always of the opposite sex! Well, talking might be putting it mildly.  Screaming is a more appropriate description. Their boisterous voices make it easy to spot them in the wild.  You can hear them coming.  And their voice is unmistakable. Now if I were to do an illustration like this I would paint two Scarlets.  They need companionship to survive.

Sleep (or lack there of) is the theme for

I encountered this Ocelot at the Belize zoo a few years back.  She might not be the Leopard of my illustration, but her markings are so beautiful and similar I decided to include her today.  She was so curious about us I managed to get quite a few good shots.  All of the animals at the Belize Zoo are rescues.

This is my favorite shot.  Because I just love the markings on the back of her ears

We saw plenty of Scarlet Macaws.  This one came right over to greet us.  I don't remember if there was a loud squawk hello.  

But it is even more fun to see happy and healthy birds in the wild.  I just got back from the Osa penninsula of Costa Rica.  It is the Garden of Eden of birds and animals.  Scarlets are an everyday sighting.  How great is that!  We were by the pool one afternoon, and 50-60 squirrel monkeys came flying through the trees.  It was quite a sight.  I later learned that it is common to see such huge packs.

But just because there are a lot of Scarlets doesn't mean they are always easy to see or photograph.  They are busy eating.  And it is hard to believe, but these large colorful birds can easily disappear behind this foliage.

A big chomp.
P.S. I put this photo on facehole and got 7 "likes" No one said what a beautiful bird or photograph.  Why is it that some people can post that they are taking out the garbage and get 20 people to ask, "How often, what kind and do you recycle?"  I just hear birds chirping.  Literally.  Ha!  Uff da.  

Then it's, "adios amigos".  And they are on to the next tree.  And the next...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Scarlet Macaws are perfect for this holiday.  They mate for life, are red and eat flowers!

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Doesn't this look peaceful?  We discovered this idyllic lot in Costa Rica in 2012. Sunshine, nature and the ocean hugging the cliffs in the distance.  Heaven. We visited this empty lot several times.  In the morning for sunrise.  And in the evening for sunset.  We'd bring up an imperial and celebrate another day of pura vida.  Flash forward to 2015.  It's still available!  Who could resist this beauty? Who could resist this stunning view?

Well, there is a down side....This location in Dominical combined with the perfect storm of elevation results in a roaring symphony at night.  A cacophony of cicadas.  All screaming at the same time.  It is unbelievable really.  You have to hear it with your own ears.  Or not!  Ha!

chestnut mandibled toucan

white faced capuchin

I couldn't resist posting my cicada illustrations from my jungle journal full of illustrated poems this week for noise.  The theme.  Boy, nothing can prepare you for the deafening screams of a Costa Rica cicada. Somewhere between the elevation of 1,000-3,000 feet, the cicadas go hog wild.  Like I said, we drove up to our Costa Rica lot again this year. Just like old times.  It was still deafening.  Hmmm.  I wonder why it is still available.

"Sorry dudes!  All this fuss over little old me?"

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bok Tower Gardens

We stopped by Bok Tower Gardens on our trip to Florida last winter. I finally decided to share the beauty and brighten a cold Minnesota day. This is the famous Singing Tower (60 bell) carillon. Bok Gardens was founded by the successful publisher and author Edward W. Bok.  His grandmother told him to, “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it” 

And indeed he did.

The morning light in the gardens was so pretty.  They were first resurrected on this sandy soil in 1921.  And it opened to the public in 1929.

Let's sit awhile...

And wander around...

It's also a bird sanctuary. There are 126 bird species here.

I think this species looks goofy!  It must be his eye ball.

A lovely painted bunting.

The majestic golden door of the tower.

Bok Gardens is on one of the highest points in Florida at 298 feet.  It's worth a visit for the beauty, birds and the chocolate muffins at the cafe! 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jagged Little Toes

I thought my Yeti tracks might be a fun choice for jagged.  The theme this week.  Do you ever wonder who creates the unique patterns on the bottom of tennis shoes? How much does a shoe designer get paid for this? Are the patterns as unique as fingerprints?  Actually, that might be kind of cool.  Designer shoes with our own finger print soles. It could bring new meaning to leaving a paper trail.  Burglars beware!

That's why my Yeti has shoes on.  So his familiar foot prints don't give him away.  I hope this idea isn't too big a pill to swallow. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Passion Fruit

I feel a certain amount of passion for a good mango.  Not a Minnesota mango.  But an ugly black spotted but perfectly ripe one picked right from the tree and purchased for peanuts.  I ate a mango just like that in Costa Rica this month.  Thank you Uvita farmer's market.  I paired it with a fried egg sandwich. The bread for that was purchased from a snooty french bakery in Ojochal.  The eggs were bought in a store.  But when you taste them you know they are snatched from chickens that live the pura vida lifestyle.  Well, obviously I enjoy a good breakfast.  And when you eat it on a warm morning by the ocean in Costa Rica it's all the better.

Passion is the theme this week.  I painted this years ago.  In fact, the passionate fruit admirer is part of an advertisement.  I don't use images like that anymore.  The melding of woman and ocean is all me.  My favorite part is the mango that is a sea urchin.  Hmmm, come to think of it that is one culinary delight that I have yet to savour.  Someday...maybe.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cloud 9

I can't imagine a more imperfect day for ziplining.  Cold, windy, rainy and cloudy.  I guess that is why they call Montverde the Cloud Forest of Costa Rica.  I nicknamed it Cold Forest.  But when you are inside a cloud I guess it is to be expected.  On the other hand, it was the perfect lighting for some surreal photos. I've always thought this photo series from my Costa Rica archives looked photoshopped.  The bird looks placed on the branch.  But it is real.  It was right outside the Selvetura ziplining station.

The drive up....

Moths clung to the side of the building.  They didn't want to get wet either. The variety there was stunning.

The drive down...

 I'm ending this post with another wet jungle bird photo.  This was not a good day for adventure.  But these bird shots are some of my all time favorites.

P.S. I had 9 photos in this series that I named cloud 1-9 in my saved photos file.  When I got to number 9 I thought what a perfect name for this post!