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Erin

I coddiwomple through life, guided by my love of nature and insatiable curiosity.

Night at the Dalí Museum

Earlier this week, after a tedious day of running errands, I decided to treat myself to some culture. I headed downtown to the Dalí Museum, which stays open late on Thursday evenings for a reduced price.

While I’m by no means an art aficionado, I am curious and certainly admire anyone’s ability to create. The Dalí exhibition I visited in Vienna after graduating from college left quite a lasting impression on me (and no, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was). So, I was eager to explore this Dalí collection, the second largest in the world.

The museum presented his art in chronological order: from his early impressionist works, to his most well-known Surrealist ones, to his later exploration of religion and science in his Nuclear Mysticism phase.

I was entranced by the concept behind one of his recurring themes, the melting clock. As our tour guide explained, he depicted it that way since you can’t stop or hold onto time, it just slips (or melts) away.

An astute observation, which challenges me to think about what I’m doing with my time. I’m pretty content with most of my decisions overall, but it’s still good to stop and reconsider once in awhile. Never know where wisdom is going spring from, thank you Dalí!

 

03-13-2020 Update: A Dalí print, Purgatory Canto 24, was recently discovered at a thrift shop in North Carolina and sold for $1200. It makes me happy that the artwork was recognized and not accidentally cast aside.

Wolfgang Puck Cooking Demo

I was fortunate to get a last minute invite to attend the Wolfgang Puck Cooking Demo at the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa this past Saturday. I barely made it in time since I worked during the day and hard to shower and then drive over an hour to get there.

It was well worth the rush, since the food was delicious and Wolfgang was surprisingly entertaining. My favorite dish was the seared beet and goat cheese salad, but the salmon and caviar pizza was also tasty. Though I’m not much of a sweet eater, the chocolate cake was a light and fluffy surprise.

Best part of all, I don’t think any item required over seven ingredients. The simple and unfussy preparation really let the flavors shine (plus, the recipes should be somewhat easy to replicate).

It was refreshing to hear Wolfgang talk so openly about his career. Several times in the early stages he was kicked out of kitchens and told he didn’t have the ability to make it. Thankfully, he’s a stubborn character and he obviously found a way to persevere in his chosen path. During the closing Q&A session he urged us all to “Stay Curious” as an antidote to aging. Cheers to that!

 

Music on the Bay

Shortly after moving here I became a member of the Tampa Bay Parrot Head Club. I had so many good experiences last year in Texas with the Parrot Heads of Port Aransas that I knew I wanted to continue with it.

The tagline of Parrot Head clubs is “Party with a Purpose” and they are a bunch of people that get together to enjoy music and raise money for charity. Last year’s Music on the Bay in Tampa raised over $62,000 for the local Shriner’s hospital, which is pretty impressive!

Unfortunately for me, I could only attend on Friday as I had to work the rest of the weekend but it was still a great event. I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite Trop Rock performers on stage again – I think they have as much fun as the audience (if not more)!

I just love Donny Brewer’s bluesy version of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville!

Throughout the day, lots of talent hopped on stage, including Paul Overstreet (he wrote Diggin’ Up Bones, among many other hits).

Alone Again

Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius)

This Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius alticola) is the larger of the two subspecies. The smaller one, Vireo solitarius solitarius, migrates down to Mexico for the winter before returning to breeding grounds in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Canada.

As you can guess from my photo, the former chooses to overwinter along the Gulf Coast, a super long commute from their home territory in Georgia. Why go the extra distance if you don’t need to?!

As the binomial suggests, these birds do not flock together. At least not with their own kind (though they can occasionally be seen hanging out with sparrows).

 

 

 

Be. More. Specific.

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Play Money, Rockport, Texas December 2019

During the week before I moved from Texas I made it a point to re-visit my favorite places. One of them was a peaceful, little cove on Copano Bay with stellar sunset views. It was such a relaxing spot that I made it a point to swing by there at least once a week.

On my last trip, I espied this green rectangle from a distance and though it looked a little funny I was hopeful that I would get my wish and find a bunch of money. Technically, it was $100,000 (which is a lot of money to me). It just happened to be play money.

Once again, I was reminded that though the universe conspires to help me, I need to be a lot more specific with my wishes!

Western Palm Warbler

 

I encountered a few birds during my recent foray to an inland park. I first spotted this one hopping on the ground but missed a shot at it when a some kids ran by and flushed it. Disappointed, I turned away and was distracted by a nosy squirrel.

(By now everyone should hear the word “squirrel” in Dug’s voice from the movie Up.)

But I digress. I was given another go at this bird when it flew up into a nearby tree. I didn’t get great shots and from this one I would’ve had difficulty identifying the little bugger.

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Thankfully, the ensuing shot caught a different angle which simplified it for me, as the yellow undertail coverts are distinctive on a Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum). One of the many reasons I take so many photos when I’m out and about, I just never know which snap is going to give me what I need.

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Palm Warbler, St. Petersburg, Florida February 2020

Turkey Wing Shell

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Turkey Wing, Treasure Island, Florida February 2020

Commonly found on my beach, the Turkey Wing Ark Clam (Arca zebra) averages about 2 inches long and was named for its resemblance for a couple objects. The first part of the name I understand, with the brown and white stripes it does somewhat resemble an outstretched turkey wing.

The ark part is more of a reach for me. Apparently, the long flat section near the hinge reminded people of the deck of an old wooden boat, like Noah’s ark. Umm, yeah, I’ll have one of whatever those people were drinking!

Rosary Pea

A bright flash of red caught my eye as I wandered a nearby park this afternoon. Upon closer inspection, the hard, cardinal-colored seeds reminded me of those from a plant I grew up with in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona; Coral Bean (Erythrina flabelliformis).

The Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius) and Coral Bean do have a couple similarities;  both are legumes and the interior of both their seeds is highly toxic. A major difference is that the Rosary Pea is not native to the states and the level of toxicity far surpasses that of the Coral Bean.

In fact, the abrin contained within is twice as potent as ricin (the chemical weapon of choice for assassinating people critical of the Russian government). As such, abrin is listed as a controlled substance under the Terrorism Act.

This should come as no surprise, but in 2014 a Florida man was arrested for selling abrin on an underground, terrorist website. It makes me wonder, do Florida men take an oath or something? “If it ain’t insanely stupid it ain’t worth doing!”

Now, how does something so dangerous get an innocuous sounding name like Rosary Pea? Well, it is quite attractive and the seeds have long been used for human ornamentation, including rosaries. In the West Indies the seeds are still worn to ward off evil spirits. Another, more utilitarian usage has been as a standard weight measurement since the seeds are so consistently sized.

As you can see, I collected a few (for decorative purposes only, I promise).