Tuesday, July 27, 2021

From Paradise to Paradise!

We truly live in paradise! My wife and I are always mindful about how lucky we are to live in Sarasota and to have been raised here. There are so many wonderful, fun things to enjoy all around us and within a short drive and I am happy to share our experiences with you. We just returned from a great short vacation to another paradise...Sanibel Island. If you have never visited there, you must go!

Sanibel is a barrier island less than two hours south of Sarasota and very much worth the drive. It is 12 miles long and 3 miles wide (at its widest point) and is connected to the mainland by a long causeway bridge. As a comparison, Siesta Key is 8 miles long and much wider.

Sanibel is known primarily for shelling and my wife was in heaven. She has a huge shell collection, some of it passed down from her grandmother to her mother. But…she can’t go to the beach - any beach - without picking up shells. Shells have been around for more than 500 million years. People have used them for musical instruments (conch-shell trumpets), spoons, jewelry, and even money. A shell is the protective layer or external skeleton that once surrounded soft-bodied animals. Most seashells are mollusks, a group of animals that includes snails, clams, oysters, and mussels. These animals make shells by growing a thin protein layer over their body, like your fingernail. Then the layer hardens, forming a shell. When an animal dies or loses its shell, the shell may be washed ashore and this is certainly the case on Sanibel Island, more so than most any place in the world. In fact, it has been referred to as the “Sea Shell Capital of the World! Why? It's because it’s one of the very few islands that run perpendicular to the state of Florida, whereas most islands run the same way as Florida, which causes the ocean currents to have the beaches primarily flushing water downward.

As a vacation spot for someone who grew up in Sarasota, home of the world famous Siesta Beach, the slower pace of Sanibel reminded us of Sarasota from years past. And…we love to eat! Surprisingly, there are almost 50 restaurants on Sanibel so there is no way you will starve! Two of the many places we highly recommend are Traditions on the Beach and Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille. 

Doc Ford’s was one of the reasons for the trip. It is owned by one of our favorite authors, Randy Wayne White and we had been wanting to visit for a long time. His books are modern day Travis McGee adventures, which were written by Sarasotan John D. McDonald in the 50’s and 60’s. The main character in Randy’s books is Doc Ford, a marine biologist who lives in a converted fish house on Sanibel and in his secret life, he is a former government agent who still ‘disappears’ on covert adventures. The best part of this book series is all the history of Florida and lots of education about marine life and Florida’s natural wonders.

We also visited J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and viewed the largest mangrove area in the United States…6400 acres, along with abundant wildlife to include 220 bird species! So…lots to do on this lovely little island!  Make plans to visit there soon - it's a great get-a-way for a day or a week!  

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Summer Breeze in Sarasota, Florida!

Happy Summer everyone! 

I am overdue for posting my Blog/Newsletter because I was finishing up some Spring projects, including repainting and rescreening our lanai before the Summer humidity hit. We had the screen company remove all the screens and metal except the support posts and scheduled the new cage and screens for one week later. Then we completely emptied everything so we could pressure wash and paint. Painting a ceiling is fun…not!

Once we finished all of that, we had the new cage and screens installed and opted for what is called ‘picture window’ screens. This means no horizontal metal to interrupt our view of the lake, so we have been sitting on our butts a lot enjoying the fruits of our labor.  That’s my excuse for skipping a newsletter last month! While lounging in the breeze, jalousie windows popped into my head since those were common in Florida before air conditioning.  This also relates to the Newsletter I wrote awhile back about the history of air conditioning in Florida. Along those lines, I recently sold a home to a client in Bradenton that included FPL’s “Net Metering” and I had a chance to learn more about that system. So our topic for this month is about languishing in the breeze and when it gets too hot and humid that it sends you inside, a new program to save energy and dollars on your A/C bill!

So what are jalousie windows you may ask? According to Wikipedia, jalousie is the French word for jealousy. It originated in 18th century France from the Italian word geloso, which means jealous, or screen, as in to screen something from view. Supposedly because of their slatted louvres, jalousie windows protect the interior of the house from jealous peering eyes – permitting one to see without being seen.

Jalousie windows maximize natural ventilation by allowing airflow through the entire window area. Historically made only of wooden slats or glass panes, they are well suited to mild-winter climates. With mass production they became very common throughout homes in mid-20th-century Florida, Hawaii, southern California, the deep South, and Latin America. In cooler regions they were rapidly adopted to porches and sunrooms. They were also widely used in mobile homes during the 1950s and 1960s before most manufacturers began switching to sliding and sash windows in subsequent decades. It’s also called a louvered window, and this style consists of horizontal panels, either made of glass, plastic, metal, wood or other window material that sits on a track on the window’s frame.  The operator uses a crank or knob to open and close these horizontal panels, letting in plenty of air. Picture the panels similar to a windowed version of Venetian blinds and its slats, and there you have it: jalousie windows.

The jalousie window first made its debut in the early 1900s. It was originally patented in 1901, but it had a slow start to catch on.  Sometime in the late 1960s, jalousie windows had begun popping up on homes, especially in the south. With the style’s horizontal panels that opened a home up to a passing breeze, these windows were perfect for letting the air-flow inside to cool off or to substitute for the lack of air conditioning during hot summers. Both my wife and I grew up in Sarasota in homes that had no AC and we had jalousie windows all around.

The jalousie window didn’t just hit its stride in the 60s in the southern states.  In the colder parts of the United States, you would see jalousie windows on enclosed porches, gazebos, and sunrooms across the Midwest and Northern U.S.  Jalousie windows also struck luck in the realm of mobile homes. Mobile homes and trailers, strapped with limited space and most with no air conditioning, found that they can benefit from space-saving, ventilating jalousie windows. Almost a decade later, homeowners started to turn away from the jalousie window style.  By the time the 1970s hit, the majority of American homes had air conditioning.  

As much as we may enjoy the natural breeze outside in Florida, the time comes when the humidity smacks us in the face and we retreat inside to air conditioning…and the increase in the electric bill. But there is a way to lower that bill. Net metering allows FPL (Florida Power and Light) customers who connect approved, renewable generation systems such as solar panels to the electric grid, to buy and sell electricity to FPL. When you generate electricity from your solar array for your home or business, it reduces the amount of energy you purchase from FPL, and in turn, lowers your monthly electric bills. If your system produces more energy than you need, the excess power is sold back to FPL’s grid. That amount of energy is deducted from your monthly bill or credited toward a future bill in the same calendar year. In my clients case, the solar array is creating a reduction of 80% off his monthly bill. Not bad! Click here to learn more! 

I'm headed to the lanai with a cold drink in my hand...hope you are enjoying a summer breeze of your own!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Do I Hear Bells?

It’s six in the morning and the sun is breaking the horizon atop Iron Mountain. The morning dew settles, hugging the Spanish moss draped over the limbs of oak trees. Swans glide along the pond and rabbits dart in and out of shrubs. This scene wasn’t plucked from the pages of a fairytale. It’s from Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, a place where serenity is so strong it reverberates through the soul. 

This excerpt is taken from an article in South Tampa Magazine and I used it because I could not have said it better. Bok Tower is one of our favorite places to go for a day trip, especially in the Spring. It's only a two hour drive, and we always take a picnic lunch…and our little doggie, Tiki. 

Lake Wales is home to Bok Tower Gardens, which stands on the highest point in the state of Florida. A Singing Tower with a 60-bell carillon, and a haven for birds, plants and wildlife will entrance you. Built in 1929 by Edward W. Bok, the tower was constructed of pink and gray marble from Georgia and coquina stone from St. Augustine. The tower is rich in carvings depicting the flora and fauna of Florida. 

The tower houses a carillon of fifty-seven bronzed bells ranging in weight from 17 pounds to nearly 12 tons. Surrounding the tower are 157 acres of landscaped gardens. The gardens took over five years to complete and President Coolidge dedicated them in 1929. He called it Bok’s gift to the American people.

Carillons are typically found in towers or churches. The historic Bok Singing Tower is 205 feet tall. And then there’s the carillon. A carillon is kind of like an organ, but powers the bells which will serenade you several times a day. A keyboard and pedalboard are connected between key and bell clappers that respond based on the amount of force applied. The carillon plays concerts at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily and brief digital performances fill the garden every 30 minutes. Be sure to view the video below for a close-up look at the bells, the carillon, the tower and the gardens.

At Bok Gardens, something is always in bloom. Among its many resting spots, shady recesses,

sweeping lawns and meandering paths, there are acres of flowering foliage, such as camellias, azaleas and magnolias. I can barely get my wife away from the plants. Liz has even emulated the air plant display they have (see photo) and the 'living screen' hangs on our lanai. 

It’s easy to walk the gardens and they also have a shuttle. The gardens are paved or mulched, and the are broken into nine unique zones:

  • The River of Stone
  • Pollinator Garden
  • Kitchen Garden & Outdoor Kitchen
  • Endangered Plant Garden
  • Window by The Pond
  • Wild Garden
  • Exedra & Sunset Overlook
  • Reflection Pool
  • Peace Lantern

Bok said his goal was to create a place that would “touch the soul with its beauty and quiet.” The end result, Bok Tower Gardens, is considered by some to be among the nation’s most inspiring and uplifting attractions, one where time seems to stand still. “This is nature’s show, not ours,” reads a sign outside the Window by the Pond observatory. To fully enjoy the garden’s beauty, one only needs to sit still long enough to smell the grass, listen to the wildlife or stop and smell the flowers.  

Gardens may or may not be your thing. You may not have a burning desire to explore them, but you would be making a mistake if you don’t. Every inch of the garden is pristine. The colors pop out, and the sweet scents pierce your nose. Everyone will appreciate the design, and for sure, you will feel a calmness. It’s not just about a tower. It’s a historical landmark, a sanctuary, a park, and most important, it’s divine. Well worth the admission cost and well worth the drive to Lake Wales. If you’re a Floridian like me, and you’ve not visited, shame on you…GO!!

Click Here for info about visiting and definately take a look at this great video about Bok Tower Gardens! Happy Spring!



"Make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it."
-------Edward W. Bok





Monday, March 15, 2021

No Sinking Feeling Here!

Are you thinking about buying a house in Sarasota, Florida and becoming a snowbird or a full-time resident?  Maybe trading in your snow shovel for a beach umbrella to plant in the sugar sand on Siesta Key?  Or giving up skiing and trade that for boating along the West coast of Florida?  Whatever your goal, whether it be a full-time or part-time Florida resident, looking for a home in any new location requires that you become knowledgeable about your environment in very different ways.

When I meet with a new client who has never lived in Florida, they usually ask about things like hurricanes, alligators, sharks and the like. When you read about real estate in Florida, you may also worry about sinkholes and one of the good things about the Sarasota/Bradenton Area is that you don’t have much to worry about.

Look at the map of the sinkholes in Florida - notice the pink areas which indicate where the fewest sinkholes have been reported. On the West coast there are very few below Tampa.  This regional map depicts sinkhole locations that have been reported since 1954 by the Florida Geological Survey Series No. 110. It does not show all sinkhole activity in Florida, but you can get a pretty good idea of how widespread this problem…but not in our area!

So exactly what are sinkholes? For more than 60 million years, ancient shallow seas covered what is now Florida. Factors relating to the chemistry of the water and the chemistry of the plants and animals that lived here resulted in limestone being deposited beneath these ancient seas. Eventually, the seas lowered to where they are today, leaving a base of predominantly limestone bedrock covered with sand and clay for us to live upon.

Sinkholes are part of the slow, natural process of erosion in Florida’s limestone terrain that occur over thousands of years. These common geologic phenomena generally occur where the limestone is within a few hundred feet of the land’s surface. Sinkholes can form anywhere in Florida, but the highest activity level occurs in west central Florida because of the limestone environment. There are several influences that increase the risk of sinkhole activity such as long-term weather conditions, heavy acidic rains, and drought-like conditions.

It’s been almost 10 years since a notable sinkhole has occurred in Sarasota - this one was in Venice and prior to that one, another in 1989. Despite all the problems sinkholes produce, they are a natural part of the ecosystem. Historically, although not a guarantee, the Sarasota area has had a significantly lower occurrence of sinkholes than other parts of Florida, particularly in the Tampa and Orlando areas. Feel better?

I am a lifetime Sarasota resident and have never filed a claim for hurricane damage...or a sinkhole! So when you get tired of the cold weather and decide to head south, Sarasota, Florida is a great place to buy a home. Give me a call and I will help you stay on stable ground! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

TOUCHDOWN!

 

We did it. WE WON! 45 Seasons.17 Years between Super Bowl wins.  WE MADE HISTORY as the first team to win on tour home field!

My wife and I love football and we were Miami Dolphins fans until the Bucs came to Tampa and now we are die-hard Tampa Bay Bucs fans…through the good, the bad and the ugly, this Super Bowl was worth the very long wait between Super Bowl wins! Even though we didn’t get to celebrate with all our friends this time due to the pandemic, we ate just as much junk food and consumed as much wine as always. Did you know that the Super Bowl is the second-largest day for U.S. food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day? In addition, the Super Bowl has frequently been the most-watched American television broadcast of the year. 

If you are a football fan...read on! Here’s a bit about the history of our favorite sports day of the year and about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to Wikipedia, the NFL officially formed in 1920, but the Super Bowl didn’t happen until more than 40 years later. In 1960, a group of businessmen who wanted to own football franchises—but were denied by the NFL—decided to launch an alternative league, known as the American Football League (AFL). For several years, the NFL and AFL were gridiron rivals, competing for fans, players and support. Then, in 1966, owners negotiated an agreement to merge the leagues by 1970.

The first Super Bowl took place on January 15, 1967, and included the NFL’s Green Bay Packers against the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. The game was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and even though ticket prices averaged just $12, it was the only Super Bowl that didn’t sell out. (We were offered tickets to this 2021 game for only $10,000 each!) That first Super Bowl game aired on two different networks and drew in an audience of more than 61,000 fans. The Packers outperformed the Chiefs, winning 35-10. The next year, the Packers decisively won again in Super Bowl II, defeating the Oakland Raiders 33-14. Many began to question whether the AFL teams could hold their own in the NFL. But the next year, the AFL’s New York Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Super Bowl IV was the last game played between the two leagues, and the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings, 23-7. The popularity of the event continued to grow after the leagues integrated. With the rise of cable TV, the Internet, and other entertainment options, the country rarely pauses to watch or follow the same event, except in cases of national tragedy. But the Super Bowl is an exception.

According to Britannica, The Buccaneers were established in 1976, and they posted a lousy 0–14 record in their initial season in the NFL. After playing their first season in the American Football Conference (AFC), the Bucs moved to their current conference in 1977. The team’s losing ways continued in the NFC, as Tampa Bay did not record the first win in franchise history until December 1977, and its 26-game losing streak remains an NFL record. These early Buccaneer teams were notable for the presence of future Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon and for their charismatic head coach John McKay, whose many quips about the team’s failures endeared him to football fans nationwide.

Led by quarterback Doug Williams, in 1979 the Bucs, to the surprise of most of us, won 10 games and qualified for the postseason, where they advanced to the conference championship game but lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Tampa Bay went on to playoff berths in both 1981 and 1982, before falling back to the bottom of the conference standings with a 2–14 record in 1983. The 1983 campaign began a dubious streak of 12 consecutive seasons that saw the Buccaneers post double-digit loss totals. 

We began to turn it around in the late 1990's as head coach Tony Dungy built one of the best defenses in the NFL, featuring tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, and defensive backs John Lynch and Ronde Barber. The Bucs made four postseason appearances in the five seasons between 1997 and 2001, but the offensively limited team scored fewer than 10 points in each of its four playoff losses in that span, and Dungy was fired in early 2002 despite his regular-season success

Then the Buccaneers hired head coach Jon Gruden to improve the team’s offense, but it was our top-ranked defense in the league that helped the team post a 12–4 record in 2002 and upset the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game the following January. At Super Bowl XXXVII the Bucs soundly defeated the Oakland Raiders 48–21 to capture their first championship. 

The Bucs missed out on the postseason the following two years but returned to the playoffs after the 2005 and 2007 seasons, both of which ended in opening-round losses at home. A late-season collapse by the team in 2008—the Bucs lost four consecutive games to close out the season which led to the firing of Gruden and a massive coaching, management, and roster turnover in an attempt to rebuild the franchise from the ground up.

Although the Bucs won 10 games in 2010 (but missed out on the playoffs), that rebuilding effort ultimately proved unsuccessful. The team followed this with a surprise hire of college coach Greg Schiano, who was fired at the end of the 2013 season. The Buccaneers rebuilt around young quarterback Jameis Winston, and the team posted its first winning record in six seasons in 2016 (9–7). However, that revival was short-lived, and the team posted consecutive 5–11 records in 2017 and 2018.

The Buccaneers shocked the football world in the 2020 off-season when the team signed old man quarterback Tom Brady in free agency, ending his 20-year career with the New England Patriots. Brady immediately showed that the Bucs’ talented roster was simply missing solid quarterback play, as Tampa Bay won 11 games to earn a playoff berth. In the postseason the team ran off three straight road victories to advance to the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. The Bucs SOUNDLY defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl to win their second championship!

We hope next season brings back our tailgate parties and many more wins...and who knows? Maybe another Super Bowl win! GO BUCS!

Monday, January 18, 2021

I Surrender!

 


  • "Unconditional Surrender”
  • Artist: Seward Johnson
  • Aluminum, 26 feet tall
  • Originally displayed in Sarasota in 2005 as a temporary exhibit
  • Purchased by late World War II veteran and Sarasota resident Jack Curran from the Sculpture Foundation (now Seward Johnson Atelier) and loaned to the city for 10 years
  • Formally became part of the city’s public art collection in 2020
  • ‘Surrendered’ (relocated) in January 2021 to an area of Bayfront Park between O’Leary’s Tiki Bar and Grill and Marina Jack to make way for the construction of the roundabout at Gulfstream Ave. and US 41.

I recently sold a condo on Palm Avenue and spent a lot of time around the Sarasota Bayfront leading up to this sale. One day I witnessed a 'strange' sight! As most of you recently read in the local news, the iconic Unconditional Surrender statue located at US 41 and Gulfstream Avenue was just moved in anticipation of the construction of a roundabout, set to begin this February. That was the sight I witnessed!

Each time I drive by the Sarasota Bayfront, it reminds me of how much the area has changed throughout my lifetime in Sarasota. My wife Liz’s family goes back almost four generations in Sarasota and Manatee County and she remembers old family stories of a yellow house which belonged to her Uncle Zeke, just south of Church of the Redeemer. This was long before that WWII sailor kissed the dental assistant (no, she was not a nurse!) on V-J Day in 1945. Of course Uncle Zeke’s Florida cracker house has long since been replaced by a high-rise condominium…across the street from Unconditional Surrender!

J. Steward Johnson’s giant kissing statue parked alongside U.S. 41 has been beloved and despised in Sarasota since it first appeared in that spot for a temporary visit in 2005. The 26-foot-high statue depicting George Mendossa, a World War II sailor kissing a woman, Greta Zimmer Friedman, on V-J Day in 1945 and inspired by an iconic photograph, has had its detractors but it’s undeniably popular. 

Sarasota's Bayfront Park has had the "kissing sailor" statue has surrendered their spot several times. In 2012, a car struck it, knocking a hole about the size of a microwave oven out of the sailor’s foot. The anti-statue folks got a few months’ reprieve before the repaired smooching duo were returned to their prominent pedestal. Tourists and locals alike flock to it, passing their cameras off to someone who can capture their efforts to replicate the giant figures’ pose. The statue has also been the backdrop of many protests and marches, including the 2016 Women’s March, which saw thousands gather at the Sarasota Bayfront park. The “Unconditional Surrender” statue has also attracted the attention of vandals. On April Fools Day in 2015, someone added a pink substance, made to resemble chewing gum, to the heel of the woman. 

In 2019, the statue made national headlines when someone spray painted ”#MeToo” across the man’s legs the day after George Mendosa, the sailor depicted in the photograph that inspired the statue, died. Although the original image of Mendosa kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman has long been heralded for epitomizing the joy shared throughout the world upon the ending of hostilities in 1945, it has come under scrutiny, with many accusing Mendosa of assault. But in a 2005 interview, Friedman’s son said the kiss was nonconsensual, but that his mother understood it was a “jubilant act,” telling the New York Times that she did not view the kiss as an assault at all. On that day, they threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square!

So whether or not you think our kissing statue is art, it is certainly popular…maybe more so than the road construction of new roundabout which caused its latest move! And if you would like a bird's eye view of Unconditional Surrender, I can help you find a great condo on the Sarasota Bayfront!

Here is a great video about the kissing couple and how they ended up on the cover of Life Magazine!



Sunday, December 20, 2020

12 Days of Christmas Humor


With all the craziness of this past year, I thought that it would be a good time to revisit this hilarious holiday post. I don't know who the author is, but it brings a smile year after year...and we sure do need that smile about now! 



12 Days of Christmas Correspondence

Dearest John:

I went to the door today and the postman delivered a partridge in a pear tree. What a delightful gift. I couldn't have been more surprised.

With dearest love and affection, Agnes

***

December 15th

Dearest John:

Today the postman brought your very sweet gift. Just imagine, two turtle doves.... I'm just delighted at your very thoughtful gift. They are just adorable.

All my love, Agnes

***

December 16th

Dear John:

Oh, aren't you the extravagant one! Now I must protest. I don't deserve such generosity. Three french hens. They are just darling but I must insist.... you're just too kind.

Love Agnes

***

December 17th

Today the postman delivered four calling birds. Now really! They are beautiful, but don't you think enough is enough? You're being too romantic.

Affectionately, Agnes

***

December 18th

Dearest John:

What a surprise! Today the postman delivered five golden rings. One for each finger. You're just impossible, but I love it. Frankly, John, all those squawking birds were beginning to get on my nerves.

All my love, Agnes

***

December 19th

Dear John:

When I opened the door there were actually six geese-a-laying on my front steps. So you're back to the birds again, huh? Those geese are huge. Where will I ever keep them? The neighbors are complaining and I can't sleep through the racket. PLEASE STOP!

Cordially, Agnes

***

December 20th

John:

What's with you and those birds???? Seven swans-a-swimming. What kind of joke is this? There's bird do-do all over the house and they never stop the racket. I'm a nervous wreck and I can't sleep all night. IT'S NOT FUNNY.......So stop with those birds.

Sincerely, Agnes

***

December 21st

OK Buster:

I think I prefer the birds. What am I going to do with eight maids-a-milking? It's not enough with all those birds and eight maids-a-milking, but they had to bring their own cows. There is poop all over the lawn and I can't move into my own house. Just lay off me. .

Ag

***

December 22nd

Hey:

What are you? Some kind of sadist? Now there's nine pipers playing. And do they play! They never stopped chasing those maids since they got here yesterday morning. The cows are upset and are stepping all over those screeching birds. No wonder they screech. What am I going to do? The neighbors have started a petition to evict me. You'll get yours.

From Ag

***

December 23rd

You Creep!

Now there's ten ladies dancing - I don't know why I call them ladies. Now the cows can't sleep and they've got diarrhea. My living room is a river of poop. The commissioner of buildings has subpoenaed me to give cause why the building shouldn't be condemned. I'm sicking the police on you.

One who means it, Ag

***

December 24th

Listen Idiot:

What's with the eleven lords a-leaping? All 234 of the birds are dead. I hope you're satisfied, you rotten swine.

Your sworn enemy, Miss Agnes McCallister

***

December 25th (From the law offices Taeker, Spedar, and Baegar)

Dear Sir:

This is to acknowledge your latest gift of twelve fiddlers fiddling, which you have seen fit to inflict on our client, Miss Agnes McCallister. The destruction, of course, was total. All correspondence should come to our attention. If you should attempt to reach Miss McCallister at Happy Dale Sanitarium, the attendants have instructions to call the police on sight. With this letter, please find attached a warrant for your arrest.

Merry Christmas.