Archive for ‘Observations’

Worth the Trip

A good friend visiting from North Carolina was the extra incentive needed for me to make my first trip to St. Augustine. The warm and sunny weather was perfect for wandering the historic city’s streets.

While we only had part of a day to explore, we covered a lot of ground and it was a great overview. More importantly, we had a lovely time catching up. I know I’ll return someday for a more thorough exploration, though definitely not on a weekend (talk about crowded).

End of an Era

This past weekend I bid adieu to my trusty companion of the last ten years. After traveling 164,000 miles across this country (through all of the lower 48 states excepting New York and the ones up in New England) the house battery in my 2012 Prius finally gave up.

After careful consideration, I decided not to spend the several thousand dollars to replace it. Instead, I purchased a new hybrid. I’m hoping my Kia Niro will be as reliable and long-lived.

And yes, for those of you who know me, she does already have sand in her. That’s life at the beach for ya…

Back in the Day

Took advantage of the sunshine this past Monday and wandered through the Manatee Village Historical Park in downtown Bradenton. Thanks to the foresight of Manatee County back in the 1980s, this site preserves 14 historic buildings along a stretch of brick-paved Manatee Road.

Only the visitor center, which occupies the old Wiggins Store/Hotel Dixie Grande, is original to the site. All the others were relocated from various locations across the county.

According to their signage, the town of Bradenton owes its existence to a storm. In 1865, Captain John Fogarty’s fishing vessel was beset by wind so he turned up the Manatee River for protection. The natural harbor and thick woods enticed John to move his entire family from Key West.

The family claimed 132 acres and established the Fogarty Boat Works. Boats were in high demand at the time for two reasons; the consequences of the Civil War and waterways were Florida’s highways. The rest, as they say, is history…

Kayaking Downtown

I joined a local ladies meetup group on Facebook last May, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve yet made (besides the one that landed me here). Not only have I met some amazing women who inspire me (looking at you, Katie) but I’ve taken part in some fun adventures along the way.

Last night’s sunset kayak in downtown St. Pete was one such outing. One of the members of our group Christine (owner of Wandering Adventures a kayak rental/guide company), hosts this monthly paddle at the municipal marina.

It was a bit breezy which kept us close to shore since there were some novices in our group. The sunset’s afterglow was stunning, the conversations were fascinating, and we were escorted around the bay by a couple of dolphins. What a fantastic way to spend an evening!

Silica Transformed

Spent a chilly winter day exploring the Imagine Museum in downtown St. Petersburg this past weekend. Not only was it a perfect respite from the weather but it was a sensational experience.

The museum is the brainchild of Trish Dugan (a glass artist) who spent decades acquiring glass from influential artists around the world. There are over 1500 pieces in the collection, and it’s still growing.

I have some familiarity with glass art; my sister designs stained glass, I toured Dale Chihuly’s “The Nature of Glass” exhibit with her and my aunt, and the Oregon coast town where I lived is famous for the local, handcrafted glass floats.

Even with those experiences I was blown away by the creativity on display. I am naturally drawn toward items styled in a more natural bent and, of course, ones in shades of blue. The hyper-realism of Matthew Eskuche’s Trashglass series gave me pause, what a disposable world we live in.

The display that absolutely mesmerized me was Portal Icosahedron by Anthony James. It is a modern recreation of a mathematical experiment in unity by Plato, “twenty identical triangular facets…an ideal compositional system of perfect symmetry in three dimensions.” Every step I took around the piece offered a completely different view.

Looking down into a seemingly infinite portal I was reminded of the One in a Million scene from Star Wars: A New Hope when Luke Skywalker does the “impossible” and fires the shot that destroys the Death Star. Hey, I grew up with those movies, what can I say, they made an impression.

There will be a new exhibit opening soon and I will definitely return to explore some more!

A-door-able?

I’d like to introduce you to my new dining room table. This project began when I replaced the front door, the first week of October 2020 (yes, that’s over a year ago – don’t judge).

As a single female, I didn’t feel comfortable with that much glass in the front door. Add in the incredibly disconcerting fact that the door was hung inside out, meaning the hinges were on the outside. In case you don’t know, any door can be easily removed with a hammer and a screwdriver as long as you have access to the hinges (you just tap on the screwdriver to push the pins up and out). It wouldn’t matter in the slightest if you had the deadbolt engaged or not.

So, before I moved into my house I replaced the front door. The old one had so much character though that I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. Not only was it solid wood but the glass inserts are molded in the shape of bamboo – I’m sure it was a very expensive door (best as I can tell the door would’ve cost at least $1000 new).

So, I kept the door and eventually it occurred to me that I would need a new dining room table, one that was a better match for my house than the country-style set I had purchased used for my little rental. I hadn’t rushed into buying a new set because I lacked a clear vision (and I thought the prices were ridiculous).

One day a neighbor placed an old brass and glass storm door out by the curb for trash day. Knowing that I would need a glass top for my table (since the inserts are inset in the wood), I walked over and carried the storm door home. I leaned it up against the old door and ignored them both for a couple months.

I couldn’t decide on how to assemble my table so the project sat on the back burner until late this summer (and I was busy with other projects, too). Inspiration comes to me in the strangest of ways, I saw some bamboo poles for sale on Facebook Marketplace and realized that those would be perfect for table legs since they’d mirror the glass inserts.

Finally, with a design idea in mind I started working on the table: I stripped off the multiple layers of paint, cut it to fit the glass from the storm door, sanded (and sanded and sanded), and painted. Once I was satisfied with the outcome, I repeated much of that process with the legs.

Since bamboo is mostly hollow (except at the growth joints) I screwed PVC plumbing end caps to the table. The bamboo slid over the caps snugly and were glued and screwed into place. I repeated a similar process on the bottom and attached felt pads to the feet. In addition I mounted brackets to each leg for extra support. To highlight the glass bamboo inserts, I hung mini lights on the underside of the table.

As I was nearing completion of the table it occurred to me that I’d need things to sit on. A few days later I picked up 4 metal chairs for free. A bit of paint, some new cushion and fabric and I was in business.

Shortly before Thanksgiving I sold my old dining room set (for $10 more than I paid for it) and moved the new table into place. Total project cost: $40 (I had to buy the bamboo, lights, brackets, PVC, and fabric – everything else I already had or was free). Actual cost? Priceless! I’m delighted with it and it is definitely one of a kind!

Note: I will be making a bench for the far side of the table (again using bamboo legs) at some point in the future.