Friday, May 31, 2013

Shell Point Beach, FL

Shell Point Beach, Florida in Wakulla County. Actually calling it a beach is a little misleading. It is where the bay water meets land, a very small amount of sand and a lot of oyster shells. For the residents of Tallahassee and some surrounding areas it is a quick drive and can provide a relaxing place to get away. If you wanted to stay over night keep in mind there are no hotels at the beach, there is a Best Western about 10 miles away off 98 or there are some rental houses at Shell Point.

We have a multi-generation family beach shack on the canal. It doesn't look like much but you don't really need much when at the coast, just a place to shower and crash at night. I have many wonderful memories of summers spent there, fishing with my grandfather, windsurfing with my dad and terrorizing the neighborhood on the golf cart with my friends as a teenager. 

Me and my Dad windsurfing
As an adult it is a wonderful little weekend get away. We bring the dog and spend the day relaxing on the porch or getting a little sun on the beach or taking the dog on long nature walks. Just down from our place there is a long dirt road that cuts through the swamp. We always see lots of birds and animal tracks (alligator, turtle, crabs and snakes). Last weekend we saw a bald eagle and a baby gator. This weekend we saw a Cotton Mouth snake, I could have done without seeing that one.

Gator Tracks

There is a small island just a little ways off shore that has been nick named Bird Island because of the amazing quantity and variety of birds that are there. My mom and nephew are avid bird watchers and love to take the boat out and sit just off shore with their binoculars. I prefer to take a boat ride to the shoals, a shallow area about 10 miles out that is a wonderful place to snorkel.

Bird Island

Bird Island

The beach area is managed by the county and you have to pay $2 to park. There is a large pavilion and several small ones with picnic tables and bathrooms as well.

The Wind Ceremony under the pavilion

The Shell Point Sailboard Club rents an area at the very end of the beach. It is a windsurfing club and my parents were some of the founders about 30 years ago. They don't windsurf anymore but are still very active in the club and all of their best friends are members as well. It is like a big extended family. They have regattas there several times a year and many more impromptu beach gatherings.

Steven C Smith Regatta 2012

Steven C Smith Regatta 2012

Many years ago there was a small marina and store and a restaurant but that is all gone. There is no boat ramp, gas or food at this time. The closets gas station is at the corner of 98 6 miles away and as far as food there is a Walmart in Crawfordville and a few restaurants within driving distance. St. Marks has three restaurants and the Spring Creek Restaurant is not far either.

So, if you decide to head down remember to fill up your gas tank, pack a cooler and don't forget your sunscreen and bug spray.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We Needed A Little Rhythm

We have added some Rhythm to our lives.

Rhythm at 12 Week

We decided about a year ago to get a puppy and started looking around at the local shelters. We definitely wanted to adopt but we also definitely wanted a boxer or boxer mix young male puppy. I thought it would be easy, puppies are everywhere, right? Wrong. We looked everywhere but could not find the right one for us. Twice we found what we thought was the right puppy at the shelter and tried to adopt them but twice the adoption fell through and I was very upset and sad for days. I scoured Petfinder and CraigsList and the other shelter websites. We went to all the adoption fairs and told our friends to "keep an eye out" for us. It turns out our puppy wasn't even born yet. In February I got a notice from Petfinder that a male boxer mix had come available at the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society in Port St. Joe, FL. Excited I open up the info and pictures only to see that the three puppies we all brindle, not a pretty color in my opinion so I closed my email and went on with my day. The next morning I reopen my email and looked at the puppies again, hmmm, just didn't know that I wanted a brindle. I noticed in small type at the bottom of the page that there were also three females available. I didn't get a notice about them because my alert was set up for only males. I really didn't want a female either (don't know why) other than I had always had male dogs in the past. Just out of curiosity I opened the link to the female puppies and OMG there she was, my puppy! There were three beautiful fawn boxer mix females but one stood out. I called the shelter and they still had her but people were interested and she would go fast. I showed Ken her picture and told him that she was the one and we had to go get her. The problem was the next day was a Friday and I had a funeral to go to. My awesome husband called in sick to work and took my nephew with him and drove to Port St. Joe (about two hours) and got her. Her name was Rhythm and she was perfect! The irony is that Ken grew up in Port St. Joe and is a rhythm guitar player, it was meant to be.

Yummy bone

We are pretty sure she has some hound dog in her. Look at those ears. She has a hound dog howl too.

Preparing for take off

Sweet girl

She was eight weeks old and 15 pounds of love when we got her. She is 5 1/2 months old and 46 pounds of love now. She keeps me up at night, chews, digs, chases the cat and is all puppy but we love her. She keeps me active (lost 5 pounds) and keeps me laughing (just look at these pictures). 

Snuggles on the couch
Sleeping in my shoes (9 weeks)

Is that really comfortable?

My favorite reading chair is her favorite chair too

The only time there is peace

She can sleep anywhere

Her famous Super Dog pose (5 months)

She is spoiled rotten but I wouldn't have it any other way. She sleeps in the bed or on the couch or where ever else she wants to as you can see. She comes to work with me everyday. We take her everywhere we can and plan our weekends around doing stuff with her. We know most of the dog friendly restaurants in town now and I just don't understand why I can't take her grocery shopping with me. 

She loves my niece and nephew

She has lots of nick names, Crazy Paws (she whacks us in the face with her paws while squirming around in the bed), Doodle Bug (cuz she so cute), and BLT -Big Lots of Trouble (self explanatory). 

Well, at least it was junk mail

Mud puppy
We look forward to planning and sharing our dog friendly travels in the future.

She loves splashing in the water

Sunset at Shell Point Beach

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A New Love Of Pottery

A few months ago I saw where Lemoyne Art Gallery in Tallahassee was having a wheel throwing class. I have thought in the past that taking a wheel throwing class would be fun but never found one that worked out for me. They are usually at the senior center during the day when I am at work. I took an intro to pottery class in college and they touched on wheel throwing for a few days along with hand building but I can't say that really counted for much experience.

The class at Lemoyne was two hours once a week for eight weeks in the evenings. I immediately fell in love with it. The instructor showed the steps from wedging the clay, prepping the wheel station and then centering the clay on the wheel. Then he gave a few demonstrations on making some basic shapes...cup, bowl, etc. From there I worked somewhat on my own and he was there to help or answer any questions.

I find the whole process of centering my clay and making my pieces to be a very introspective and meditative experience, almost sensual. You have to be in a centered mind set, calm, attuned to the feel of the wet clay sliding under your hands. You can close your eyes and feel the clay even more. Watching my instructor or other experienced potters on YouTube makes it look so easy but it is not. If you don't get your clay perfectly centered from the beginning it will quickly flop. If it is too dry it will grab and tear, if it is too wet it will become weak. It is all too easy to get thin spots and thick spots in your walls and your piece looks lop sided or leans.

The glazing process it difficult as well. The glaze is thin and runs and yet it is very easy to get it too thick as well and it cracks. It is all pasty and gray no matter what color you are choosing. You have to go by the color description or the little swatch piece.

I thought my pieces were mediocre at best before they were glazed and fired. I was completely surprised at their transformation afterwards though. I didn't even recognize them and had to look for my initials on the bottom to confirm they were mine. I have to say I was very tickled at how good they looked. My family and friends want to know if they are getting any as gifts. I don't think so, I want to keep them all for my self.