I'm 6 or 7 posts behind because I've been out having fun and seeing things instead of fussing about keeping this space updated. Thanks to all 3 of you who are still hanging on after I dropped out of sight for the last week! I just finished writing this very long post about my time in Tampa and then relearned the terrible lesson about always saving your work because I was hit with one of those faux internet virus warnings that are only handled by shutting down everything, including the unsaved blog post you just finished. Let's try this again.
This morning I mailed my ballot and then went off to buy a new memory card for my camera. As soon as I opened an installed the new card I found the old one in the little pocket in my camera bag specifically made for such things. Of course! All that to say that for the next few posts my photos will all be from my phone since I just didn't rally on the camera bit until today. Luckily, the quality is pretty okay.
After Weeki Wachi I went south to Brandon for my first house sitting job. I had some time to kill before meeting the homeowner, so I ended up in one of those warehouse stores (think Big Lots, only...bigger) looking for a cereal bowl to add to my kitchen stuff. The place was packed with acres of things I didn't need, but it was fun to wander around and look at all of the weird stuff.
My first house sitting experience set the bar pretty high for future sits. Greylyn, the homeowner, was very accommodating and super nice. Not only did I get a chance to spend a couple of days with her sweet dogs, I gained a new friend since she was fine with having me stay a night before and after the official house sit and I got the opportunity to get to know her. I find it tough to meet new friends as I get older. I have no kids and I'm an introvert, so friendship takes effort, as it should! Meeting Greylyn was an unexpected bonus that I never anticipated.
Both dogs were absolutely wonderful. Rico is a sweet 17-year-old man who is somehow healthy as a horse and still trucking along. Lady is a tiny Italian Greyhound, basically a very small version of the radar-eared hall monitor I have at home. Both warmed up to me quickly; I got some serious puppins snuggle time and loved every minute of it.
On Saturday I went out to Caladesi Island State Park with Katy. We borrowed a 2-person kayak and paddled out, mostly avoiding sand bars and checking out the mangroves.
Caladesi was originally a ceremonial site and burial ground for generations of Native Americans before it was taken over and used as a fish ranching and seasonal camping spot by the Spanish for about 300 years during the 1500s. The British briefly owned the island around the time of the American Revolution; the Spanish took took the territory back in the late 1700s. The territory was acquired by the US in 1821. A Swiss immigrant built a large homestead on the island in the late 1880s; Caladesi became a state park in 1967.
On Sunday I made time for the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.
From the parking lot the building looks austere, its concrete face rising toward the sky, but as you move toward the entrance there is a meandering water feature and the first of a few huge geodesic windows that pop out of the side of the building, reflecting the harbor and sky. There's a contemplative labyrinth made of tall shrub and a giant sculpture of Dali's mustache on the back side of the museum.
I was lucky enough to be there when the Adria/Dali exhibit was up. Ferran Adria is an avant garde chef who has been compared to Dali; photos of Adria's plates and Dali's works were juxtaposed next to huge screens showing video of Adria at work.
I have always liked Dali's worked, but I now know that every print I have seen lost something in translation. Being able to get close enough to see brush strokes made me a true fan. His later work is weird and wonderful; his early work is very terrible, muddy, self-taught Impressionism.
I dodged the many tour groups and managed to see most of the works currently on display, then I headed down the long spiral staircase to the cafe for a Spanish tortilla and a glass of wine.
I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around historic Ybor City in Tampa.
There was some sort of fundraising event happening, so the main street was filled with classic cars for blocks and blocks. The cars fit right in with the many cigar shops and bars lining the street. The whole place was in party mode!
I ended up at La France, a vintage clothing shop that also sells vintage-style dresses in multiple sizes. The place is crammed with clothing and accessories, all of which is in great condition. Even if vintage isn't your style, this place is well worth a visit! With the help of a very nice salesman I purchased two beautiful dresses. It's been a long time since I bought any piece of clothing that made me feel so good about the way I look.
I spent an hour sitting in The Brass Tap, a bar that opens onto the street, a perfect spot for people and car watching before heading back for one last night in Brandon.