April 19 – The Sailor Circus … “The Greatest Little Show on Earth”

The clear highlight of this past week was our trip to last evening's opening night of the Sailor Circus

with new RV friends from Sun N Fun, Traci and Daniel Wray.

in its new $4.35 million arena.

Celebrating its 70th year and nicknamed “The Greatest Little Show on Earth”, the show featured sixty students (aged 8 to 18) in various stages of training, including just six high school seniors, who have spent years training in the circus arts. 

Sarasota High School got its nickname as the “Sailors” because its athletic teams used to travel by boat to compete against other schools up and down the Gulf Cost.  The circus started in 1949 as a gymnastics class at the school and its history was celebrated in a 1952 documentary short film that was shown in theaters across the country.

Today, the Sailor Circus is the longest-running youth circus in the country, with students training in over 30 circus arts disciplines.  It is considered a sport for students between 4th and 12th grade in Sarasota County schools who train 20-30 hours per week. 

Past editions of the circus have appeared across the country, including on the National Mall in Washington DC, and in several international venues.

The instructors boast a host of well-known performing circus professionals … and graduates have worked for such top aerialists as Nik Wallenda and others look forward to performing with Circus de Soleil.

The music accompanying each act covered the curcus' seven decades since its fonuding.

As you scan through the following pictures, it is important to remember, as we had to during the performance, these athletes are school-aged children! 

 

As each of the acts, without exception, were carried out with near perfect precision.  Again, it was easy to forget these performers were not professional but teens and pre-tens!

 

 

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April 17 – Naples to Visit Wendy Manley

Yesterday we drove to Naples to visit with Debbie's close and long-time friend, Wendy Manley and her friend Brian. 

Debbie rode shotgun in my cart while Wendy, Brian and I played a round of golf at the Esplanade course under a near cloudless sky and 80o temmperatures.  Great dinner of lamb chops and wine capped a great day.  We stayed overnight and drove home late this morning.

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April 14 – Myakka State Park – Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

With scheduled activities winding down here at Sun N Fun, we are increasingly on our own for the balance of the month to do some things time has now permitted over the winter.

Earlier this past week, we revisited Myakka River State Park.

Prior to 1850, the Myakka River was the Asternal River on English maps. A Seminole Indian reportedly told a surveyor in the 1850s that the name of the river was "Myakka." The translation of the word Myakka is unknown.

Between the 1850s and the 1930s, cattle grazed on dry prairie: a vast land of grasses, forbs, palmetto, and other low shrubs with thousands of scattered wetlands. In 1910, Bertha Palmer, a progressive business woman from Chicago, came to Sarasota and bought a vast amount of land. A few years later, she purchased acreage farther inland than her initial real estate purchases and tried her hand at cattle and swine ranching. Meadow Sweet Pastures was located very near the Myakka River, where she introduced fencing and dip vats to Florida ranching. In 1918, Mrs. Palmer passed away.

Shortly after, the Great Depression struck America. President Roosevelt signed into law the New Deal, a government program intended to boost the economy and spirit of the American population during these dark years. One program funded was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Over 17,000 acres of the Palmer estate was purchased by the Florida government to develop Myakka River State Park. Myakka is one of 8 Florida state parks developed by the CCC during the 1930s.

The entrance road into the park winds its way through a tunnel of mostly live oak, many draped with Spanish Moss. 

Despite its name, Spanish moss is not a moss but a bromeliad—a perennial herb in the pineapple family.  Most bromeliads, including Spanish moss, are epiphytes. Epiphytes grow on other plants, but do not rely on them for nutrients. They take nutrients from the air and debris that collects on the plant. Spanish moss has permeable scales that “catch” moisture and nutrients.  Spanish moss was given its name by French explorers. Native Americans told them the plant was called Itla-okla, which meant “tree hair.” The French were reminded of the Spanish conquistadors' long beards, so they called it Barbe Espagnol, or “Spanish Beard.”

We took a poontoon boat ride

out on the lake

but the sightings of alligators was minimal as it was extremely windy which kept the gators mostly hidden from view, with only occasional glimpses of their eyes and noses.

However, there were other sightings including hundreds of vultures,

Great  Blue Herons.

Egrets,

Killdeer,

and a Rosette Spoonbill.

The lake is also a playgournd for fishermen, both traditional

and net casters.

From the lake we could see stands of cabbage palms (note the dark lines at the base of the trees which represent how high the water gets during the summer rainy season.  The staining is caused by the heavy concentration of tannin in the water).

In the distance, we saw the smoke from the controlled buring which was taking place in the north end of the park.

We then took a "train" ride

through the uplands areas of the park.

Although much of the park's areas were once cattle pastures, only around 100 acres still reamin open.


Today, most of the park is covered with live oak and a variety of species of plams … there is only one small area where pines grow.

In some areas evidence for prior controlled buring was apparent..  It was interesting that many of the trees which show signs of buring at the base were very much alive above where the flames had apparently reached.

It was on this excursion that we got our first real look at an alligator

as well as many deer,

wild turkeys,

red shoulder hawks

and even wild pigs

which they try to trap our as they are an invasive animal which can do considerable damage to the forest floor.

 

This afternoon, we joined Debbie's brother Dick and wife Kate at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens where The Hydramatic,

a local band playing soul, funk and R&B with a unique style and arangements all their own was performing for several hundred in attendance..

We parked ourselves in a open gazebo about 100 yards away from the performers but close to beautiful views overlooking Sarasota Bay.

As during past visits to the gardens, we were able to enjoy the diversity of flowers, trees, cactus and other flora.

While a relatively tame location, we did spot some wildlife.

Anole

Tri-colored Heroon

Gulls soaring over the Bay

Black racer snake

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April 10 – Dinner with Sandy and Jeff

This evening, we had dinner wit Sandy and Jeff

at a great and intimate German restaurant

 

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April 7 – A Brief Surprise Trip Home

April is always a busy birthday month for us:  Scott (2nd), Doug (4th), Jake (9th), Jason (10th) and Taylor (19th).

However, as Doug is turning 50 (where have the years gone?) we made a last minute decision to fly home and surprise him and fly up on the 3rd.  We discovered the Frontier

flies out of Ft. Myers to Trenton, NJ, just five miles from our home.  And, although the Ft. Myers airport is a bit futther away than going to Tampa, there is infinitely less traffic getting to Ft. Myers where parking is much better and the airport, itself, smaller and more pasenger-friendly!

Our flight path took us along the New Jersey side of the Delaware River where we had a great view of Philadelphia.

Our next-door neighbor, Gilles Vanesse, was kind enough to pick us up.  Once home we discovered Debbie's car battery was dead.  However, another next door neighbor, Phil Kauff loaned us a battery charger.

With the car running, we headed for Doug's in Bala Cynwyd, just west of Philly … where we totally surprised him!

With unusually warm weather,

we enjoyed spending time outside with Doug, Meg, Calleigh and WIll.

Thursday was Doug's birthday and lunch with he and Meg while the kids were still in school.  Later that afternoon, it was time for presents

Will watching dad open his cards

Doug listening to an exceptionally long audio card from Will

The birthday boy reading a beautiful and emotional poem Calleigh wrote

Red Sox-Phillies baseball tickets from Meg

and after dinner what else but a cake.

Beginning to look like a bonfire atop the cake

Friday we bundled up (temperatures hovering in the mid-40os) and took a walk … passing several historical buildings and

The General Wayne Inn, established in 1704, it was previously named the William Penn Inn, Wayside Inn, Tunis Ordinary, and Streepers Tavern before being renamed in 1793 in honor of American Revolutionary War hero General "Mad" Anthony Wayne who had once stayed there.

The home of John Dickinson (1732 – 1808), was a solicitor and politician from Philadelphia known as the "Penman of the Revolution" for his twelve Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,  published individually in 1767 and 1768.  As a member of the First Continental Congress where he drafted most of the 1774 Petition to the King, and then, as a member of the Second Continental Congress, wrote the 1775 Olive Branch Petition.

When these two attempts to negotiate with King George III of Great Britain failed, Dickinson reworked Thomas Jefferson's language and wrote the final draft of the 1775 Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms. When Congress then decided to seek independence from Great Britain, Dickinson served on the committee that wrote the Model Treaty, and then wrote the first draft of the 1776–1777 Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.

He also wrote "The Liberty Song" in 1768, was a militia officer during the American Revolution, President of Delaware, President of Pennsylvania, and was among the wealthiest men in the British American colonies.  Upon Dickinson's death, President Thomas Jefferson recognized him as being "Among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain whose 'name will be consecrated in history as one of the great worthies of the revolution.'"

Together with his wife, Mary Norris Dickinson, he is the namesake of Dickinson College (originally John and Mary's College), as well as of the Dickinson School of Law of Pennsylvania State University

The only remaining tracks from the Philadelphia & Columbia Railway, one of the earliest railroads in America and the first in the world to be built by a government rather than by private enterprise. The contracts for the work were granted by the Canal Commission, under whose supervision the line was operated. Considered a public toll road, individuals and companies paid tolls to the Commission for use of the rails. They also supplied their own horses, rolling stock and passenger or freight facilities.

The Philadelphia & Columbia Railway finally became operational on September 1832, with carts and wagons dragged by horse power on a 20-mile section which began in Philadelphia (at Broad and Vine Streets) and ended at Green Tree Inn, west of Paoli.

The first passenger cars were constructed on the same general design as the stage coaches and were nicknamed “fireflies,” so designated because of their brilliant red color. They were drawn by two horses, recruited from the Conestoga wagon traffic.

When the idea of locomotives was first conceived, there was great opposition on the part of those who either used the railway or lived near it. They declared that the engines would destroy the value of their property, and that the sparks from them would set fire to their houses and barns. It was not until April 1834 that the first train was drawn from Philadelphia to Lancaster by a locomotive, named the “Black Hawk.” Not until 1836 did locomotives finally displace horsepower. The Baldwin locomotives worked the best. The English ones, while well built, were found too light for the heavily curved and graded American tracks.

Eventually, “The Main Line” expanded from the Philadelphia & Columbia Railway to include the Eastern Division of the Canal (from Columbia to Hollidaysburg, 172 miles); the Allegheny Portage Railway (from Hollidaysburg to Johnstown, 36 miles, crossing the Allegheny Mountains); and the Western Division of the Canal (from Johnstown to Pittsburgh, 104 miles). This network carried passengers, but its primary purpose was freight.

The railroad was a major route for escaping slaves crossing the Susquhanna River from Maryland.  As the freight cars passed the nearby Meetinghouse, several Quaker families who operated "safe houses" placed food and water in the cars for the escaping slaves.

This section of tracks is laid upon the original "sleeper stones" which were uesd to support the rails.

Saturday we watched Will's baseball game

and then Calleigh's softball game.

From there we drove to Oceanport, NJ to see Scott (who had celebrated his 48th birthday earlier in the week), Krista, Kira and Sean.

Sunday morning, it was back to Langhorne to drop off our car at the house afterwhich Irv Perlstein was kind enough to give us a ride back to the airport in Trenton.

On our climb out we were unable to see our home but I was able to spot Makefield HIghlands where I play golf when home.

We arrived in Ft. Myers ahead of schedule and were back to our motorhome by 6:30 PM.

 

 

 

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March 31 – Friends – Winter Activities Winding Down

I thought I'd add periodic challenge to our travel updates.  Below is a close-up photo of a (current or one-time) familiar object.  See if you can guess what it is.

***************

Cheryl flew in on Sunday to help decide what items she wanted to have moved back to her home on Cape Cod.  It was so good to see her.  We spent considerable time with her during her one week stay.  Debbie and I will be coordinating the actual move when the trucker arrives on April 8th or 9th.

We also had a chance to get together with my cousin Chip and Debby Burt, also RVers staing in Ft. Myers. 

Unfortunately, we didnt get a photo of the four of us … so an old picture.

With some disappointment, Debbie's Line Dancing

and Belly Dancing classes have ended for the season.

Check out the balanced sword on her head

Water Aerobics is still continuing, however.

Last Friday, dinner at Sandy and Jeff Fitts … with whom we always have a great time.

This past Thursday, Debbie was sitting on our patio knitting and watching TV when the 15-20 MPH wind dislodged a dead limb from the Live Oak which provides our site with welcome shade this time of year … which fell right down on her.

Fortunately her cuts were superficial and she is OK.

While our Photography Club finished its classes mid-month, the weekly field trips have continued.

Celery FIelds

The location of the site, the large number of diverse bird species, and its public ownership by Sarasota County make the Celery Fields an ideal location for wildlife watching and passive recreational use.  The 360+ acre site is also the County’s primary storm water collection zone, allowing it to serve a dual purpose of public safety and recreation.

Wetlands restoration of 100 acres is now complete at the Celery Fields. More than 200,000 aquatic plants and trees have been planted, and two boardwalks have been installed where 210 species of birds have be identified.

Common Gallinules

Egret

Grackle

Great Bllue Heron

Ibis

Immature Ibis

Loggerhead Shrike

Osprey

Red-wing Blackbird

Rossette Spoonbill

Stork

New College of Florida

The College is situated on a beautiful 110-acre campus in northern Sarasota County.  The main Bayfront Campus lies along the Gulf of Mexico.  The elegant, early 20th-century College Hall is the former home of circus magnate Charles Ringling. 

It offers a gracious fireplaced living room

with curving wrought-iron staircase,

enclosed portico overlooking the bay

' and wood-paneled music room with high, fresco-timbered ceilings, burnished wood floor and grand piano.and organ.

The iconic Ringling arch and canopied Dort Promenade, connected by a colonnade opens onto a vast lawn

and Sarasota Bay,

a favorite gathering spots for studying, resting, photography

and sunsets.

Located on an abutting property is Ca' d'Zan, a Venetian Gothic residence in Sarasota, Florida, was the winter home of the American circus owner, developer and art collector John Ringling and his wife Mable.

After dinner at Captain Brian's, one of our favorie seafood restaurants, we stopped by the campus again.

John Phillips, the planner/scheduler hopes to continue the field trips thru the end of April.

Yesterday, we took a trip to the Red Barn …

a massive flea market.  Upon leaving, we appeared to be the only people not carrying any purchases.

Meanwhile, Sunday sailing continues for one more week.  Two weeks ago, I won my first two races with Helen's yellow-hulled No.8  boat.

This week, another three wins using two different boats.

After two-plus weeks off while my right hand healed from from recent squamous carcinoma surgery (almost can't tell I had any stitches at all), I managed to get a round of golf in on the Bobby Jones "British" golf course here in Sarasota. 

Oh yes … any ideas what you were looking at the beginning of this blog post?

Hammond Typewriter Co., Model 12 , circa 1910

We ran across it at the Mansion on the Hill, Ogallala, NE

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March 16 – A Busy … But Also A Very Sad … March

Over the course of the past two weeks we seem to have found ourselves busier than ever; Debbie (Walking, Classical Stretch, several Line Dancing classes, Belly Dancing and Water Aerobics) and I (a Morning Walking Group, Photography Club, Woodshop, Petanque, RC Sailing, time at a local driving range and a weekly round of Golf  with Tom Briggs {a friend from PA and Venice}, updating my political commentary Blog {www.thelegacyof1776,com} and working remotely on projects for our Rotary Club).   Then, there is always the inevitable maintenance which living on an RV entails.

Fortunately, we have also found time to get together again with Dick & Kate and Sandy & Jeff as well as catching up with Frank & Lynn Fowler

long-time friends we initially met during our winters in Naples who we met in Ft. Myers for lunch at Pinchers on the waterfront.

However, it is with great sadness that on March 5th we lost our best friend, Ken Grenier, after a long battle with Multiple Myeloma.

We met Ken and Cheryl on June 11th, 1966 when we were all traveling to Bermuda on our respective honeymoons.

After spending a week with them exploring the island, our bond with them grew stronger over the intervening years even during those, when due to work, distance and raising children meant not seeing much of each other.  Fortunately, over the course of the past 20 years, we have been able to spend a great deal of time with them both on Cape Cod and in Sarasota.

Ours has been an amazing and extremely valued 52-plus year friendship with Ken and Cheryl and we will miss him for the rest of our lives.  Just last week when leaving the golf course I began to pick up my cell phone to give Ken a ring … as he was always interested in how I played … and then realized such calls would never happen again.

Meanwhile, in our local travels, I have continued to add to my collection of photographs of mailboxes and mailbox posts across American and Canada … which I have been photographing for years and now total several hundred.

Last weekend, the Sun N Fun Honor Guard sponsored their annual Veneran's Luncheon, which both Debbie and I attended,

I assisted with setting up "A Place Setting ofr One", paying tribute to American veterans still listed as POWs or MIAs,

The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of our prisoners of war and missing comrades has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War.

The table is decorated in a manner which is full of special symbols to help us remember our missing brothers and sisters in arms.

The POW/MIA table is smaller than the other tables, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against his or her oppressors.

This table is separate from the others and can be set for one to five place settings to represent each service participating in the event.

The Sumbolism for the table and items placed on it

The Table itself is round to show that our concern for them is never ending.

The White Tablecloth draped over the table represents the purity of their response to our country’s call to arms.

The Empty Chair depicts an unknown face, representing no specific Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine, but who are not here with us.

The Bible represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our country, founded as one nation under God.

The Black Napkin stands for the emptiness these warriors have left in the hearts of their families and friends. 

A Purple Heart medal can be pinned to the napkin.

The Single Red Rose reminds us of their families and loved ones. 

The Red Ribbon represents the love of their country, which inspired them to answer their nation’s call.

The Yellow Candle and its yellow ribbon symbolize the everlasting hope for a joyous reunion with those yet accounted for.

The Slices of Lemon on the bread plate remind us of their bitter fate.

The Salt upon the bread plate represents the tears of their families.

The Wine Glass, turned upside down, reminds us that some of our distinguished comrades cannot be with us to drink a toast or join in the festivities of the day or evening.

Leaving the luncheon, I was off to Sunday afternoon remote-controlled sailing … finishng third after the day's races.

For the second year, I was asked to be the "official" photogrpaher for the Sun N Fun Chorus' annual concert.

 

Last Tuesday, I had a fairly deep squamous carcinoma removed from the back of my right hand, followed a day later by some 15-20 stitches which will be in for a week.  This has limited any golf, petanque and other activites which invovled more than very limited use of my hand in order to ensure the stitches do not pull out while the hand heals properly.  And, showering, while possible, proves to be a bit awkard and cumbersome.

Yesterday, we had an opportunity to Facetime with our grandaughter Calleigh,

our small way of helping her celebrate her 11th birthday, even if only remotely.

Today, I had several pictures shown Sun N Fun's annual art show, the first such event in which I have participated.

.

 

After sailing, we are planning on getting together with my couusin and his wife, Chip and Debby Burt for an early dinner tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, Cheryl will be flying in to Tampa tomorrow to see her dad and begin the process of closing up her home and preparing it for sale.  We are really looking forward to seeing her after the extremely challenging caretaker role she had to undertake during the past year..

 

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February 28 – Rainbow – Circus Sarasota – White Pelicans Other Water Fowl at Cortez

Wednesday

With Nancy and family off to the beach … we've yet to get there yet this year … we ran a couple of errands but not much else.

On the off chance Nancy wanted to take in the circus this evening, Debbie prepared an early dinner … in retrospect a very wise move, as Nancy went on-line and purchased tickets for tonights performance.  Shortly before it was time to leave, we had a brief rain shower followed by a spectacular double rainbow.

Heading for circus site at University City, the western skies put on yet another colorful show.

While we'd driven by on many occasions, we'd never been to

where Nancy had purchsed six ring-side seats.

Nancy, Jason, Jake, Taylor and Debbie

Each year, Circus Sarasota boasts an impressive roster of international artists who test human boundaries and leave audiences awestruck. This year’s performance, titled Ovation , honors the 250th anniversary of the modern circus and those who have impacted the artform.

In 2017, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shocked the circus world when it announced the closing of both traveling units of The Greatest Show on Earth after 146 years of entertaining the masses. But less than two months after Ringling’s closing, the Smithsonian Institution honored “Circus Arts” as the theme of its 50 th Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institution turned to The Circus Arts Conservatory (CAC), the country’s only combined professional circus, youth circus and training center, to anchor the 10-day event. The festival drew more than two million patrons and was a boon for American circus arts.

Now, The CAC and Circus Sarasota returns home with a renewed fervor for fearless entertainment, bringing the best circus artists in the world to their red and white Big Top, helping to guarantee a bright, innovative and prosperous future for circus arts for another 250 years!

The show was excellent and far more fun than we'd anticipated … although I had a very difficult time shooting due to unusual and changing lighting.

Ringmaster

Juggler from Russia

Balancing duo from Italy

The show actually didn't go to the dogs

A comic from Portugal

who then selected a random member of the audience

our son-in-law, Jason … son Jake laughing and loving it

where he had to copy the comic

and then face off in an OK Corral pantomine

Jason did such a great job, after the show severl members of the audience wondered if Jason was part of the show

A tremendous highwire act

Teeterboard acrobats from Sweden

An incredible lady with a hoop from Canada

An amazing pair of sister acrobats from France perfomring feats of balance and strength typically done only by men

In the finale, the ringmaster took center stage

Heading home, the lit roadside palm trees refelcted in the water.

Thursday

Today, Nancy and family headed for Busch Gardens in Tampa and its 335-acre African-themed animal theme park with rollercoaster and other rides which they love.

With the promise of lunch, Debbie joined me on our photo club's field trip to Cortez to photograph the white pelicans.

The obvious difference is the color of these large fishing eating birds but there are other differences too. American White Pelicans

are larger than Brown Pelicans with a wingspan of up to 108 inches and a weight of around 16.4 pounds.  The upper mandible is yellow to pinkish and the pouch is yellow with hints of orange near the base, the bare skin around the eyes is yellow and the legs and feet vary from yellowish green in Definitive Basic plumage to orange-red in Definitive Alternate plumage.

Brown Pelicans

have a wingspan of about 79 inches which is about 2½ feet less than American White Pelicans and Brown Pelicans are also about half the weight of American White Pelicans at approximately 8.2 pounds.  The pouch of Atlantic Brown Pelicans is a grayish and during breeding season Pacific Brown Pelicans have a reddish orange pouch closest to the face and grayish green towards the tip of the bill. The feet and legs of Brown Pelicans are gray to black depending on age and season.

American White Pelicans forage cooperatively and will often display synchronized movements while foraging.  They dip their bills into the water, scoop up the prey into their pouches and then raise their bills horizontally to swallow the prey.  They forage from the surface of the water

Brown Pelicans plunge dive for their prey

and it can look quite dramatic at times.  They fly over the prey, fold their wings and plunge head first into the water.  They then surface with their bills close to their bodies and allow the water to drain out of the pouch then they swallow their prey with a toss of their heads.

Other water birds we watch included Cormorants,

Franklin Gulls,

Glaucous Gulls,

Laughing Gulls,

and Yellow Feet Egrets.

As promised, we had lunch out at

As with most of Florida, Anoles are found everywhere … with restaurants being no exception!

 

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February 26 – More of the Same – Nancy & Family Arrive – Mote Aquarium

For much of the past ten days, we've continued with the same activities we've been enjoying since arriving in Sarasota.

We did have a chance to view a "super moon".

Our photo club's assignment was "action at Sun N Fun".  My shots captured Archery, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Pentanque, Shuffleboard, Pickleball, Lawn Bowling and even the work in the Woodshop.

Debbie was invited to be part of the group doing the make-up for performers in Sun N Fun's three-night annual talent show … and had a ball doing it!

I continue to sail on Suday afternoons and took an overall second this past weekend, sailing the No.8 boat.

The photo club took a field trip to see a practice session of Hermann's Lipizzaner Stallions in Mayakka City.

The Lipizzan, or Lipizzaner is a breed of horse originating from Lipica in Slovenia. Established in 1580, the Lipica stud farm is the world's oldest continuously operating stud farm. It is also closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, where they demonstrate the haute école or "high school" movements of classical dressage, including the highly controlled, stylized jumps and other movements known as the "airs above the ground." The horses at the Spanish Riding School are trained using traditional methods that date back hundreds of years, based on the principles of classical dressage.

The Lipizzan breed dates back to the 16th century, when it was developed with the support of the Hapsburg nobility. The breed has been endangered numerous times by warfare sweeping Europe, including during the Wat of the First Coalition, World War I and World  War II.  The rescue of the Lipizzans during World War II by American troops was made famous by the Disney movie Miracle of the White Stallions. The breed has also starred or played supporting roles in many movies, TV shows, books, and other media.

Today, eight stallions are recognized as the foundation bloodstock of the breed, all foaled the late 18th and early 19th centuries. All modern Lipizzans trace their bloodlines to these eight stallions, and all breeding stallions have included in their name the name of the foundation sire of their bloodline. The majority of horses are registered through the member organizations of the Lipizzan International Federation, which covers almost 11,000 horses in 19 countries and at 9 state studs in Europe. Most Lipizzans reside in Europe, with smaller numbers in the Americas, Africa, and Australia. Generally gray in color, the Lipizzan is a muscular breed that matures slowly and is long-lived.

Most Lipizzans measure between 14.2 and 15.2 hands (58 and 62 inches).  However, horses bred to be closer to the original carriage-horse type are taller, approaching 16.1 hands (65 inches). Lipizzans have a long head, with a straight or slightly convex profile. The jaw is deep, the ears small, the eyes large and expressive, and the nostrils flared. They have a neck that is sturdy, yet arched and withers that are low, muscular, and broad.

They are a Baroque horse, with a wide, deep chest, broad croup, and muscular shoulder. The tail is carried high and well set. The legs are well-muscled and strong, with broad joints and well-defined tendons. The feet tend to be small, but are tough.

Lipizzan horses tend to mature slowly. However, they live and are active longer than many other breeds, with horses performing the difficult exercises of the Spanish Riding School well into their 20s and living into their 30s.

Aside from the rare solid-colored horse (usually bay or black), most Lipizzans are gray. Like all gray horses, they have black skin, dark eyes, and as adult horses, a white hair coat. Gray horses, including Lipizzans, are born with a pigmented coat—in Lipizzans foals are usually bay or black—and become lighter each year as the graying process takes place, with the process being complete between 6 and 10 years of age. Lipizzans are not actually true white horses, but this is a common misconception.  A white horse is born white and has unpigmented skin.

Until the 18th century, Lipizzans had other coat colors, including dun bay, chestnut, black, piebald and skewnbald.  However, gray is a dominant gene.   Gray was the color preferred by the royal family, so the color was emphasized in breeding practices. Thus, in a small breed population when the color was deliberately selected as a desirable feature, it came to be the color of the overwhelming majority of Lipizzan horses.  However, it is a long-standing tradition for the Spanish Riding School to have at least one bay Lipizzan stallion in residence, and this tradition is continued through the present day.

Late Sunday afternoon, Nancy and family arrived to spend a week with us at Sun N Fun and escape what is turing out to be a frigid week back in New Hampshire.  When we arrived at the park model we'd rented for them, I tried to help them unload their car.  Entering throgh the unlit lanai, the door into the bright living ronom looked inviting and open.  Unfortunately it was not … and I damn near knocked myself out as I hit if face first!

Monday, Debbie took Nancy and Taylor

for a manicure while Jason, Jake and I went to the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training park

where the club's general manager, Neal Huntington, one of Doug's best high school friends,

Neal, Jake, Jason and Dick

arranged for a tour of the facility and then spent an hour with us before the game against the Red Sox (Jason and Jake are avid Boston Red Sox fans).

Today, we visited Sarasota's world-famous Mote Aquarium

Jake, Nancy, Taylor and Jason

While Debbie and I had visited the Mote once before, it was a new experience for Nancy and family.  Some of the many excellent exhibits included:

American Alligator (above) and Camain (lower)

Camain

American Alligator

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Carolina Diamondback Terapin

Green Sea Turtle

Loggerhead Turle

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

Manatee

  Jellyfish

Playful River Otters

Sandbar Shark

Epaulette Shark

Cownose Ray

Yellow Stingray

Horseshoe Crab

Garden Eel

Starfish

Seahorse

Pregnant Male Seahorse (YES, the males carry the embryos)

Spiney Lobster

Ghost Anemone Crab

Striped Burrfish

Ocellated Frogfish

Ribbon Seadragon

And untold varieties of tropical fish

No sooner did we get back to our car than the heavens opened up … and a monsoon deluge enveloped our car. 

For most of our 12 mile drive back to Sun N Fun, the visibility was less than 1/4 of a mile.

Large puddles of water accumulated along the edges of the streets

and in some places the water was as high as car doors!

Still raining as I write this evening!

 

 

 

 

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February 16 – Still Not Missing the Northern Weather!

We are staying so busy … seven days a week it seems … we marvel at how we ever had tme to work.

Last Sunday back to RC sailing races which I continue to love … and thanks to Canadian friends Luc and Helen Gloutney I am generally able to sail one their boats in each race.

That evening, we treated my cousing Sandy and Jeff to dinner.

Monday, back in the woodshop followed by Petanque (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s9BpxOsOY4) in the late afternoon. 

Meanwhile Debbie, as on most days, can be found at classical stretch, line and belly dancing, water aerobics and even knitting

Tuesday, I had a scheduled check-up with my Sarasota dermatologist … who zapped me in several spots and then exercised a suspicious looking "growth" on the back of my right hand … waiting for results of a biopsy.

Thursday, Valentie's Day and the 54th anniversary of our enggement, I was able to finish the reworked piece, since the rosewood bowl I was working on for several weeks cracked and then broke due to a natural fracture in the wood.

This evening we had a Valentine's Day dinner with Joe and Jeanne Warwick at Sun N Fun's Boondocks Restaurant.

Yesterday, Karin McElvein, a high school girl friend visisting her sister in Tampa, stopped by and joined us for lunch, the first time we'd seen her in some 40 years although we've kept in touch by email.

This afternoon, Sun N Fun hosted its annual 50th anniversary luncheon,

recognizing those couples who were married in or prior to 1969. 

The seating was arranged with four couples at each table all of whom were married the same year, giving us a chance to meet more people, inclduing a lovely 89 year old woman on her second marraige and who has been coming to Sun N Fun for thirty years.  The after-lunch musical entertainemnt was very enjoyable.

While we will be reaching our 53rd anniversary in June, one couple at today's luncheon is celebrating their 68th anniversary this year.  Just 15 more years to go for us!

 

 

 

 

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