Monday, March 19, 2018

Divas, dolphins and ducks

Dunedin, FL – More adventures! On Wednesday last, Fawn and I were fashion models for a special luncheon at the park’s clubhouse, to raise funds for a local shelter called the Home Empowerment Project, or HEP. While the women enjoyed a light lunch and tea, Fawn and I and half a dozen other volunteers scrambled in and out of outfits in a cramped back room before prancing up and down in our finery for an appreciative audience. With the admission tickets plus tickets purchased to bid on various donated prizes from local businesses, HEP did well by the $1200 plus that we raised.

The following day, we got to go on a cruise around Clearwater and into the Gulf of Mexico to see dolphins. The trip had been canceled the week prior due to cold weather and rough seas, but this time the water was calm enough for us to venture out, though it was by no means warm! One guest appeared in a knitted toque and scarf, which made many chuckle quietly at first, but then look on with envy when the cool air was further chilled by wind velocity.
Our captain and his mate were primed to follow any dolphins that might appear, but we passengers had to keep an eye out as well for the black fins that dart out of the water and quickly disappear. On our way to the mouth of the Clearwater harbour area, we passed a nest of ospreys, perched on a navigation marker in the channel. The eggs had just hatched a day or two earlier, and Captain John slowed as we passed so we could catch a glimpse. Mama and papa osprey kept a steely eye on us, but we did see a couple of downy heads bobbing above the rim of the nest before we left them in peace.

Just as we entered into the wider gulf, someone called out “dolphins!”, and we sped toward the spot. The dolphins love to play, and often will come behind a speeding boat and frolic in its wake. This bunch was not interested, or was too far away, and there were whitecaps out in the open water, so we turned back toward more sheltered water.

Moments after we passed the osprey family again, Fawn shouted “dolphins!” and Captain John wheeled us around in hot pursuit. In no time, two magnificent creatures were weaving in and out of our foamy wake, popping up for air from time to time to great cheers from the passengers. It was wonderful to see them so close up!

Water creatures of a completely different ilk garnered cheers yesterday in our own RV park’s swimming pool. It was the first annual duck race! Scores of yellow rubber duckies, individually numbered, bobbed in the water while one team propelled them toward a narrow passage with water guns, and another squirt gun team on the other side of the finish line tried to keep them out. Whoever had put money on the first duck through was the winner of $55. Spectators, many of whom were dressed in St Patrick’s Day green, quacked and cheered, and wayward squirts of water from pool side upped the fun factor. Our duck, Number 64, did not win any of the five races, but amazingly, Number 4 won twice in a row! What are the odds? Guess it was the luck of the Irish.

Monday, March 12, 2018

No moss gathering here

Dunedin, FL – It has been a challenge to find time to record all our doings for you avid readers. For that, I apologize – but here’s a bit of a catch-up. In the month of shamrocks and pots of gold, I’ve had a streak of good luck: two weeks ago, at the morning coffee meeting, I won the 50-50 draw of $62 to my great surprise. That night, at Bingo, I won another $20! Then, the following Monday morning, mine was the winning ticket for the 50-50 draw again, with a haul of $67 this time! And, that night at Bingo, I won another $5. This morning, at the coffee meeting, someone actually came to sit at my table in case my luck should be contagious! (And no, I did not get the prize this time; but there’s always Bingo tonight….!)*.
Fawn and I rode our bikes to a craft fair last week, and enjoyed our stroll past rows of stalls where jewelry, art work and other handicrafts were on display. Among those attending was Gail, decked out early in her St Patrick’s Day finery of glittering green! She kindly let me take her picture, which I’m sharing with you. She said she has Irish blood, and always dresses up in March to honour her family heritage.

Our friend Cam offered to take us in to St Petersburg a few days ago to visit his favourite bookstore, Haslam’s, which has been in business for decades and boasts a huge inventory of new and used books. We had a wonderful browsing session and came away with half a dozen books. Haslam’s reminded us of the now-extinct Highway Bookstore on Highway 11 just outside of Cobalt, Ontario, a wonderful rambling old building stuffed to the rafters with books of every type and vintage, which we visited every time we were up there.

After treating us to a delicious lunch at the Lucky Dill, Cam kindly offered to hunt down the Palm Tree Arboretum that I had read about in some tourist literature. The park displays palm trees of every size and colour – apparently there are some 500 different varieties of palm trees – in a lovely setting just next to the city’s harbour.

Back here in Dunedin, we’ve been making almost daily visits to Honeymoon Island State Park to stroll on its gorgeous beach. Every time we go, something is different – the tide is coming in, narrowing the stretch of packed sand, or it’s out, offering a wide expanse where thousands of shells crunch under our feet and seagulls and sandpipers vie for morsels of food. Lately, there have been more beachgoers because of the March break; it’s great to see the little ones with their pails and shovels, building sand castles.

Last Saturday the women of the park got together at the clubhouse to make Mardi Gras masks. Of course, Fat Tuesday was a while back, but they made it a moveable feast! The masks will be worn this Wednesday when we have our fashion show in aid of a local women’s shelter. We had a great time, combing through heaps of feathers, ribbons, beads and glitter, to create our masterpieces.                        [*News flash: I won $30 at Bingo!]