Your luggage will stand out from the rest with these pretty crocheted flowers!

I made these cute flowers to attach to my luggage to make it more identifiable on the airport carousel. You could probably also use them as key rings, attach them to sneakers or jacket buttons, etc. Whatever your intentions, you’ll enjoy making them! They’re quick to make, and a good project for beginners.I found this great pattern for Travel Blooms at the wonderful Fiber Flux blog: http://www.fiberfluxblog.com/2013/06/free-crochet-patterntravel-blooms.html

To make mine, I used Bernat Handicrafter cotton in different colours, then sewed a little pearl in the center to embellish.

Memories of my many trips to the island of Curacao

curacao hut copyIsland Dreams

I’m in a seaside paradise,
where my heart is light and free,
where palm fronds wave and whisper
in the breezes from the sea.

Days of idle frolic
on dunes of sun-bleached sand.
Evening skies ablaze with stars,
moonlit strolls, calypso bands.

Sunsets stain the turquoise sea,
liquid gold dips silent, slow.
The sky is splashed with grenadine
and garnished with an orange glow.

curacao tropical colors copyThe bustling waterfront market
is rich with handmade wares.
Tourists spar with merchants
to barter prices fair.

Where sea meets blue horizon,
distant sailboats bob and weave.
I breathe the salty, spicy air,
and I never want to leave.

I travel often in my mind,
daydreams suffice for now,
until I can return again
to the isle of Curacao.

curacao beach copy

Alas! All good things must come to an end

Holiday’s over.

I’m back home now and let me tell you, Toronto, Ontario is no Naples, Florida! The warm talcum powder sand that my bare feet became accustomed to has now been replaced with snow, snow and more snow. From flip flops to thermal socks and fuzzy slippers!

Ugh. Whaa whaa. Woe is me. Boo hoo. Suck it up, Donna.

No more whining. Instead, I’m going to warm up with a pictorial walk down vacay memory lane by sharing some of the photos I took in beautiful Naples.

What I love most about travel is the opportunity I get to experience an entirely different view of nature in all its glory: birds, animals, and vegetation unique to the area I’m visiting—daily portraits of a lifestyle that so contrasts with my home in northern climes.

There truly is nothing more exciting than leaving behind the everyday familiar and breaking out of the ordinary to give yourself the gift of a change of scenery. Travel is the tonic I crave. I wish I could do it more often.

In Naples we stayed at a house that backed onto a river. From the deck, we watched all sorts of turtles, fish and birds as they swam, foraged and played. Here are my backyard bird pictures:

Anhingas: These birds are such fun to watch. They swim in the river—body submerged, long neck bobbing above the water’s surface (at first glimpse, you think you’re seeing a snake rising from the water). Then they dry off by perching in a tree or sitting on land with their wings spread open in the sun. Every evening at around 6:pm, one by one they fly in to find their perch for the night in the trees on the other side of the river. Most of them have beautiful turquoise eyes.
Anhingas

 

 

 

 

 


Great Blue Heron and Little Blue Heron
: I only saw the Great Blue a couple of times but a Little Blue could be seen foraging along the river at some point every day. I guessed he was gobbling the tiny minnows in there.
Herons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossy Ibis and White Ibises: Also seen foraging along the river were both types of Ibises. The Glossy is a rich burgundy colour and the White Ibises seem to travel mainly in pairs or groups. You’ll see them roaming around just about everywhere—in parking lots, on lawns, at the seaside. Their beaks remind me of tweezers!
ibises

 

 

 


Little Egret
: I think that’s what this bird is. Though I’m not positive.egret

 

 

 


Muscovy Ducks
: These ducks are everywhere. They’re quite tame and can even be pesky if you feed them. But they’re pretty, especially the black ones whose feathers shine like a metallic rainbow in the sunshine.

ducks & sunset on the river

 

 

 

 

 

 
Sunset on the river was always such a peaceful time, a perfect ending to every day.

Home of the Gator: The Florida Everglades is home to LOTS of alligators. We saw this handsome guy in a pond at the Big Cypress National Preserve, where we went for a hike.
alligator

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous trees and plants: I love tropical vegetation, particularly the palm tree, of which there are over 2,500 varieties, believe it or not! My absolute favourites are the Bismarck Palm with its silver fan-shaped leaves and the Royal Palm with a trunk that appears as solid as concrete and fronds that look as soft as Ostrich feathers. I discovered one called the Pandanus Palm, with round fruit that looks like small pineapples. I’m not sure if the fruit is edible but it is pretty.

vegetation1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, being in Florida we passed a number of farms with orange groves when we went for a drive inland. We also saw orange trees growing in a few neighborhood yards.

I saw an interesting tree at Big Cypress, as well as at the Naples Zoo and at Lowdermilk Park called the Strangler Fig. This tree seems to wrap itself around another tree as it grows, while still allowing the other tree to grow as well.
vegetation 2

 

 

 

 
Yards in Naples are beautifully landscaped (fortunate for them, it’s summer all year round) and there are so many gorgeous varieties of flowers and shrubs to plant. My favourite has always been the Bougainvillea but there are so many splendid blooms; if I owned a home down there, I know there would be an explosion of colour in every corner of my yard!
vegetation3

 

 

 

Beaches, beaches and more beaches: With Naples right on the Gulf of Mexico, there are endless miles of beaches to enjoy. My favourite is Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, though they’re all pretty breathtaking. The draw for me at Delnor-Wiggins is that it is a seashell-collector’s paradise. Is there such a thing as Seashells Anonymous? If so I need rehab because I have a serious addiction!!! It doesn’t matter that I have a cupboard loaded with shells I’ve collected from past beach trips, I simply could not walk past a beautiful shell without scooping it up. Of course I am back at home with yet ANOTHER carton filled with shells. Looks like I have some more shell art projects ahead to work on. 🙂
beach and birds1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from collecting shells there was no end of entertainment in the form of wildlife antics. I often felt as if I were watching a live documentary unfold—big pelicans and snowy egrets hanging around all day in the sand beside the fishermen, waiting patiently for a morsel of bait to fall off someone’s hook. It’s pretty funny to watch the fisherman who forgets to tighten the lid of his bait pail because the minute his back is turned, one of these birds will sneak up and attempt to steal the contents.

beach and birds2Very often between about 4:pm and sunset, we would catch sight of dolphins playing in the surf. It feels like magic, watching these amazing creatures leaping and rolling like little kids right there before your eyes. At times they were only a few yards away from shore. It was a spectacular sight to behold. I got a picture of a fin but was too mesmerized watching them to capture any more than that.

dolphin fin

At the end of every day spent at the beach listening to the waves washing up on the sand; collecting shells in the sunshine; observing the birds and sea life; watching the sun dip behind the horizon, turning the sky into a plein-air canvas awash in hot pink and fiery orange, soft violet and glowing ruby; I would return to the house with the deepest sense of calm and well-being. Who needs a spa? The seashore is the most rejuvenating place on earth.

end of day

 

 

 

 

 
My last set of pictures were taken while sitting on the backyard deck. This little lizard, which I think is called a Brown Anole, is the size of my little finger. He would pop out from under the deck every once in a while to soak up the sun.
lizard

 

 

 

 

lizard 5.so long

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So long, Naples.

High drama alert: Fight on the beach!

During a stroll along the beach while vacationing in Naples, Florida, I stumbled upon a melodramatic scene of what appeared to be intense marital strife.

A group of terns were gathered quietly on the sand while one tern proceeded to “rant” at another poor tern for a good fifteen minutes straight. Whenever the recipient attempted to turn away, the noisy one would follow and get right up in its face. The other terns just sort of sidled away and kept their distance. It was hilarious. So hilarious, in fact, that several other beachgoers ambled over to watch.

It was a no-brainer that the one ranting just had to be the wife and the one being ranted at was the husband, who had obviously done something heinous enough to warrant the degree of beak-lashing that ensued.

So here’s how it all went down:

10.terns_angry wife in middle

 

 

That’s tern-wife in the middle of the group, screaming at the back of tern-husband’s head.

 

11.tern wife

 

 

Tern-wife: “You old crow! How DARE you look at HER that way in front of all of our tern-friends?”

 

12.wife gives hubby crap

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “I demand an apology right now, you old buzzard!”

 

13.wife waits for apology

 

 


A heavy silence looms between the crashing of 
the waves as she waits for a response. No response is forthcoming.

14.no apology forthcoming

 

 

Tern-wife: “You yellow-bellied sapsucker! Did you not hear what I just chirped? YOU OWE ME AN APOLOGY!”

15.hubby looks for escape

 

 

 


Dead silence. Tern-husband looks around for an escape route.

16.there is no escape

 

 

 


There is no escape! Tern-husband
 prays for the tide to roll in and wash his tern-wife out to sea.

17.wife pissed off

 

 
Tern-wife: “Have you no thoughts whatsoever in that birdbrain of yours? You look me in the eye when I’m talking to you…you SCUMSUCKING SEAGULL!”

18.hubby has audacity to leave

 

 

 


Hubby takes a deep breath and makes a run for it.

 

19.hubby gets an earful

 

 

Tern-wife: “WTF! You CHICKENSHIT! You DARE to tern away from meIsn’t it just like you to run from our problems!” (Notice the tern-friend nearby covering his ears with his wings.)

 

20.ripping hubby a new one

 

 

Tern-wife: “You get your tailfeathers back here and face the birdsong!”

 

21.wife is on a roll

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “I am at the end of my pier with you. You are nothing but a lame duck!”

22.hubby turns away again

 

 

Tern-husband peers out to sea longingly. He wonders if he has the strength left to hold his body underwater long enough to get the job done.

23.uh oh

 

 

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “I have a mind to rope you to a conch shell and toss you out to sea!”

 

24.someones still in the birdhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tern-wife: “No response to that either, huh? Ok. I’ve had enough! I’m done! We’re over!”

25.wife waits for apology

 

 

 

 
Tern-wife: “You’ll be hearing from my tern-lawyer by sundown.”

 

It was at this point that I “reterned” to my lounge chair with the full realization that all men have an innate aptitude for tuning out their women, no matter what species they belong to.

Going to the beach can be such an educational experience.

 

 

The sea and me

Being down here in Naples, Florida gives me daily access to one of my favourite forces of nature—the sea. Is there anything more soul-cleansing than sitting in warm sand, contemplating the body of water that stretches out before you to touch the horizon? Water is life and it doesn’t matter if I’m looking out over the sea, a lake, a river, or even a pond. Any body of water is the most beautiful sight to me.

In a salute to all my past seaside adventures as well as the one I’m on right now, here’s a poem.

The Sea1.delnor-wiggins pass beach

The sea draws me
Like a breath draws air.

I travel to destinations
Contingent upon the sea
Being steps from my room.

The sea is my anesthetic.

Its indigo expanse spreads
Like a rich swath of dark velvet7.very shelly beach
Beyond the airplane porthole.
The velvet is patterned
With tufts of white,
Like pulls of thread.

And then it changes—
Crystalline zircon shallows rising up
As the plane glides downward.

The sea is life. 

It fills and conceals4.pelican friend
The earth’s nooks and crannies
For as far as the eye can see.

It curves its back at the horizon
To meet the warmth of its companion
The sun.
Its mood changes from moment to moment,
Day to day.

Our emotions are connected,
Mine and the sea’s. 3.lots of waves today

Calm today, it mirrors
The slow rise and fall of my chest
As I breathe in
Its sweet saltwater scent,
Rest in its soothing whispers.

Tomorrow, it releases its displeasure
In a churning, foaming fury
That explodes viciously35.pelicans
Against the shoreline rocks.
Once spent, it laps relentlessly,
Quietly onto the sand,
Apologizing in gentle murmurs.

Sometimes, under a grey
And tired sky,
The sea attempts to shrug itself5.little egret on fisherman's bait pail
Into a mighty swell,
But nothing comes of the effort
And the surge abates with a sigh.
For the sea loses its sparkle
When its friend—the sun—
Departs.

The sea is eternity.

It existed long before us,
And will exist long after we’re gone.

 

I love love love the ocean

In yesterday’s post while talking about my friends’ summer trip to the East coast, I got thinking about how pretty much every trip I have ever taken was contingent on being near a sea or an ocean. I feel alive and joyful any time I’m able to gaze out over a large body of water. Maybe I’ll come back as a mermaid in my next life? For now, I’m content with seaside trips whenever I can afford to take them. Here’s a poem I wrote that captures my feelings about the sea/ocean.

The Meaning Of Contentment

Nothing compares

 

To the gentle chafing

of powdered grains

underfoot

as scarlet shadows

tiptoe quietly

across an umber sky.

 

 

To the scent of salt

as the ocean sighs

and sends her mighty breath

to kiss my neck

and caress the fronds

of silhouetted palms,

bent in humble servitude

before their

omnipotent mistress.

 

 

To the whitecaps

as they wave goodbye, then—

 

with a tender push,

send their young

to ripple out on their own,

 

washing themselves

upon my toes

like frothy liquid joy.

 

 

 

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