Big News!

Well, the time has finally come. After living in four states over the past four years, I’ve found a place to settle down. I started looking for a place to buy after deciding I liked it here enough to stay.

The parameters I gave my agent were a bit challenging; I drew a circle on the map of the area I was interested in living in and a fairly low price point but I reassured him that I wasn’t afraid of a little hard work. I’ve restored two fixer-uppers before, I figured I could do it again.

It took three months of looking and I’ll be honest, I was starting to despair, but then a little block house popped up on the market. Built in 1954, this two bedroom, one bath (with a Florida room – a bonus room of sorts) had been partially renovated. While it was filthy, and obviously in need of quite a bit of elbow grease, the bones were good. Plus, it’s located on a large, fenced, corner lot on a cul-de-sac in a quiet, little neighborhood just ten minutes from my old apartment (and the beach). ‚Äč

I closed on it the last day of September and after ten long days of work I moved in this past Saturday. Which explains the lack of activity on this blog, I’ve been too darn busy! I still have a great deal of work to do but the house is clean and livable.

Before photos: Note the lack of trim/baseboards as well as the orange and industrial grey paint scheme – blech!

After photos: I have yet to tackle the Florida room, the guest bedroom, and the kitchen but the main living area is at least clean, freshly painted, and livable.

Exterior photos: Needs to be painted and some landscaping work. All in due time…


Tuesday afternoon, I chased the last light of day around J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. It was a wonderful “golden hour” as there were plenty of animals out and about. Most (like the invasive Green Iguana, the native Marsh Rabbit, and the colorful Roseate Spoonbill) were seeking out their last bites before heading to bed. While the Yellow-crowned Night Heron was out early, presumably hungry after a day of fasting.

The most charismatic diner of the evening was this massive alligator. A fellow photographer and I estimated it was close to ten feet long. Thankfully, it was so engrossed in its crab dinner that it ignored our presence (though I did not turn my back on it, I know how wicked fast they can be).

Chomp, chomp! That’s one happy gator!

Sanibel Island

I had a free day so I hopped in the car and headed down to Sanibel Island for a visit. I have a long list of places to explore here in Florida and Sanibel was near the top.

It was a blustery, but sunny, Tuesday afternoon and thankfully, the island wasn’t very crowded. I started at the historic lighthouse on the eastern end of the barrier island. Built in 1884, the open, iron skeleton tower gives this lighthouse a unique look (compared to others I’ve visited).

While I strolled the beach looking for shells, I wasn’t as intent as the others who were practicing the “Sanibel stoop” (bent over, peering at the shell piles, hoping for rarity). To be honest, I was mostly just enjoying the beauty of the day.

The only imperfection was the brown water in the bay. According to a recent news report, the tea-colored water was the result of releases from Lake Okeechobee. The excess rain from Tropical Storm Sally raised the water level and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted to reduce strain on the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Overall, a wonderful introduction to a popular location!

Strange Fruit

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, St. Petersburg, Florida September 2020

This caught my eye across the boardwalk so, of course, I made a beeline for it. Turns out this strange fruit is the nonnative Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia).

While it originated in India, this edible fruit is now grown throughout the tropics. Though this is the showy stage, according to my research, the fruit is actually best consumed when green. With a texture like a chayote the flesh has a slightly bitter taste, hence the common name.

What I found most interesting is the medical potential of the plant. It is being studied for its hypoglycemic effect as well as possible cancer prevention and even infection fighting. Not just another attractive face!

Mystery Photo Revealed

Six Baby Gators (Numbers are to the left of each head)

I only noticed the three “swamp puppies” on the small hummock on my return trip down the trail. Once I spotted them it was relatively easy to find the other three floating nearby. I thought this view would make for a good challenge.

I felt comfortable being that close and spending time capturing their portraits as I was on a raised boardwalk. I did keep an eye out for momma, as I know she had to have been close by, though I never did spot her.

Spreadeagle Atop Siblings