Swamp Chickens

I spent a while watching this Common Gallinule (Gallinula chloropus) family at a nearby park earlier this week. I was hoping they’d swim closer but the parents were careful to keep their brood away from the shore where potential predators might lurk.

Formerly known as the Common Moorhen, this bird can walk atop water plants, climb into trees, and, despite lacking webbed toes, it is a good swimmer. But it is a lousy flyer (hey, it can’t be good at everything).

Compared to its close relative, the American Coot, the Common Gallinule sports a jaunty splash of color; from its yellow feet (the second part of its binomial translates from Greek as yellow foot) to the bright red shield and bill on the adult birds.

Note the small spur on the outstretched wing of the chick in the second photo. It is used to help the young climb through vegetation.

Permanent Vacation


Treasure Island, Florida March 2020

This is the view on the beach that is two blocks from my house (and the camera on my phone doesn’t do it justice, trust me). Right now it is exceptionally blue and stunning but even on its less vibrant days it is still beautiful. I’m really happy to be here (in other words, this doesn’t suck).

So even though I have to work, living here feels like I’m on a permanent vacation. Which happens to be a line from one of my favorite Zac Brown Band songs, Knee Deep (featuring the original beach bum, Jimmy Buffett).

“Mind on a permanent vacation,
The ocean is my only medication…”


Black Creeper

Though this bird was rather shy (and I failed to get a decent photo) I was fortunate to see the namesake coloration on the underside of this Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). According to the Audubon website this species is well-adjusted to city living, taking special advantage of public parks, which is where I found this one.

The generic name, melanerpes, was derived from ancient Greek and translates as black creeper. An apt description, as all 24 members of this group have black and white markings and they “creep” along tree trunks foraging for insects and other tasty morsels.


Bees of Spring

During my afternoon stroll at a nearby park I noticed a good many bees buzzing around this tree. My first thought was that perhaps there was an active hive inside. Upon closer inspection, I found instead that they were busy slurping up sap from holes in the trunk.

I presume the holes were drilled by a very efficient sapsucker, though I did not see one in the vicinity. Ever curious, I tried the fluid myself. I was not impressed by it, not surprisingly, it was primarily a tannic flavor.

I Have Seen the Chicken


Chick with Her Chicken in the Bar, Treasure Island, Florida March 2020

I knew it was time to head home when I spotted this girl and her pet chicken in the local pub Saturday night. At first, I thought perhaps I’d had too much to drink and was merely seeing strange things (kind of like in the old Tom Waits song, “The Piano Has Been Drinking” – though I prefer the version by Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, give it a listen below). But nope, it wasn’t a weird vision, it was an actual live chicken. In the bar. Yep, time for me to go!

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!