Monday, November 30, 2009

Want Legs on Your Pickles?

I have photographed all manner of strange creature, statue and mannequin on my shooting safaris but this was a first. I captured a living, breathing man - sporting wrap-around sunglasses and a goatee - dressed as a pickle. A PICKLE!!

To add embarrassment to hilarity, he's standing at the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Westshore, one of Tampa busiest intersections. Notice, too, that, for a big green pickle, he's properly shod for the occasion.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monochrome Weekly: Beach Park at Sunset (Weekend Reflections #10)

If you love to see your world in black and white, be sure and visit some of the most interesting people and places captured in several countries and many of the United States...always displaying excellent craftsmanship. It's made possible each week by Aileni. Go and experience the incredible photographic artistry HERE at Monochrome Maniacs!

Check out other great WEEKEND REFLECTIONS HERE. James is making this possible through his blog, Newtown Daily Photo. His own reflections image today is awesome. His reflection of storm clouds in the glass of a weathered old window is very cool.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hook, Line and Sunset

The sunset was still almost an hour away but the layers of clouds in the sky and palms at the edge of Old Tampa Bay were all cooperating to form an interesting, late afternoon composition. As the sun slowly set, the temperature dropped into the 50s. Did you spot the lone fisherman making his way off the beach and the chilly air nearer the water?

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Few Extra Pounds

"It's tough to perch here after Thanksgiving. I never eat bird (Yuck!) on Thanksgiving but I did put on a few new feathers with extra helpings of the stuffing, cranberries and a stick of butter. Turkey's not my thing but pass the pumpkin pie, please."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WATERY Wednesday #63

It was gray, solid clouds and steady rain here all morning and then changed into a light drizzle as the cold front moves down across the Florida peninsula. Thanksgiving Day should see some light clouds and nice, cooler temperatures. Today, through the weekend, isn't the best weather for the beach or boating.

Click HERE to see other wet and Watery Wednesday images from around the

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE place for theater, dance, music and more! The David A. Straz, Jr. Performing Arts Center

This scene of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center was taken from across the Hillsborough River and only shows a portion of the 335,000 square foot building. Just renamed the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (click HERE to get more information), after a major gift from the David A. Straz Foundation, the center is the largest performing arts complex south of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Originally built for $57 million, the entire facility is made up of five separate theaters. In over 20 years more than 10 million guests have enjoyed events of almost every size, kind and description including major Broadway plays and musicals, opera, dance performances, television productions, awards programs (such as the Miss Tampa pageant which I was asked to judge one year), films, conventions, and meetings. The Straz Center is located downtown on nine-acres along the river. It's a beautiful place, day or night, and it stays busy and packed. 680,000 guests attended more than 4,000 events during the 2007-2008 season. The complex consists of five theaters, a rehearsal hall, retail shops, restaurants and banquet facilities. The five theaters are the Carol Morsani Hall - 2,610 seats, Louise Lykes Ferguson Hall - 1,042 seats, the Robert and Lorena Jaeb Theater - 292 seats, the TECO Energy Foundation Theater - 250 seats and the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Playhouse - 130 seats. In addition, the Straz Center boasts the Patel Conservatory (HERE), a 45,000-square-feet space for education programs. The Conservatory contains 20 studios for students of music, dance and theater. Although Morsani Hall is where I’ve enjoyed some great music and Broadway magic, the much smaller Jaeb Theater is the most interesting performance and audience space in the complex.

No other performing arts center within a 1,000 miles can match the one right here in Tampa.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alligator Keeps A Watchful Eye

This fun and inventive new children's playground is on the Tampa Riverwalk (see map HERE). It's located between the Tampa Bay History Center, on Old Water Street in Tampa's downtown (website HERE) and Garrison Channel and is at the east end of Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. Thankfully the alligator isn't paying any attention to the children; the pesky photographer looks much more delicious.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

JFK: It Was 46 Years Ago Today

46 years ago, on November 18, 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy arrived in Tampa for a day of public events and speeches. Just four days later, on this date, President Kennedy would ride in his last motorcade as it moved through the streets of Dallas, Texas. His assassination shocked and saddened our nation and people throughout the world. To those in Tampa who had just experienced the excitement and vigor of our young president, his visit still fresh in their minds, it was numbing and especially hard to believe.

In 1964, by unanimous vote of Tampa City Council, the road which was originally Lafayette Street and later Grand Central Avenue, was renamed John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Part of his visit that November day to Tampa took him on Grand Central Avenue, past the spot where I took this photo. The sculptor Bernard Zuckerman created this statue in honor of Kennedy. It stands in a small plaza designed by architect Cesar Alfonso on the campus of the University of Tampa and faces the boulevard that was renamed in honor of the slain president.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Zombie Works for Flesh

This was supposed to be a photo of a statue dedicated to the former, two-term mayor of the City of Tampa, Dick A. Greco (1967-1974, 1995-2003). The bronze statue, showing him lifesize, and sitting casually on a park bench, is located at the Dick Greco Plaza Transportation Center, part of the TECO Line Streetcar System. It's located at the western end of Old Water Street between Franklin Street and Florida Avenue. The glass and steel dome plaza faces the Tampa Embassy Suite Hotel, the Waterside Marriott Hotel and the Tampa Convention Center - a very visible location, popular with tourists and quite busy at times. When I walked up to take a photo of his honor, the mayor, this zombie was sitting at his side and enjoying a conversation...and displaying his sign: Undead. Will Work for Flesh. Please Help; and the flip side, Zombies Were People, Too. Don't even ask for an explanation. I did ask him what the mayor would think of him sitting there, and at that the zombie moved closer to the statue, but uttered not a word. And, no, I have never seen another zombie in our fair city. Ever. (There is a first time for everything. Even the undead.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

SKYWATCH Friday - Season 4 Episode 19

The blue sky and clouds over downtown Tampa looking out across the Hillsborough River from Tampa Preparatory School. The Cass Street Bridge,shown to the right in the open position, is undergoing a months-long maintenance and refurbishing. Media General and the tower of WFLA News Channel 8 can be seen past it.

Visit Skywatch Friday to see the beauty and wonders of the world's most magnificent skies. It's always an amazing show brought to you by Skywatchers from all over the planet.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why'd the cow cross the highway?

Standing with their backsides to me, these two bovines refused to turn and pose for my camera. Not even a smile.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stuff a lowrider in a stocking?

This isn't just any lowrider but an extremely custom pickup with actual, operable gullwing doors. Is this what you're hoping will be waiting for you under the tree on Christmas morn?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Turned to solid stone

I must confess that our Pekingese is a good dog, 99% of his waking time. Dr. Eliot Porter or simply Porter to family (friends?) is a typical Peke. This photo isn't a perfect likeness but it comes close. This stone statue sits proudly in front of a Chinese restaurant on North Dale Mabry. It was a very busy parking lot at noon hour as I tried my darnedest to get one shot of this figure. It’s pretty big, probably 4-feet tall without its base, and very detailed. Called the Foo Dog or Fu Dog, it was created in ancient China using dogs like our Peke. They are the ancient sacred dogs of Asia who guard Buddhist temples. They were made to represent what the Chinese thought a lion looked like. Because at that time the Chinese had never seen an actual lion, they looked to the closest animal in the palace that they thought from descriptions must be close – the Pekingese, also called Lion Dogs, the fearsome canine creatures running through the palace and entertaining royals.

As I twice wrote about our dog Porter in the past (he complained once that he’d never been featured in the blog, HERE, and proudly (?) wearing his yellow rain slicker during a Florida downpour, HERE), they are independent little dogs, assertive and very stubborn. They have a strong sense of territory and will protect it against all threats (that includes adorable Halloween trick-or-treaters, mailmen, UPS deliverymen and neighbors looking for a glass of wine.) After their initial fury and bearing of ferocious teeth, they become itty-bitty babies who sleep away most of their day. But stubborn and bull-headed? Oh, yes.

It struck me as I pondered the ancient transition of these lovable imperial household pets into huge lion-like statues, that it is possible, even likely, that in some period in Chinese history that smart and brave Peke keepers would sternly warn the herd that if they grew too bullish, misbehaved or snippy (I wonder how to say that word in Chinese) that they would be turned into stone. That’s it. I’d had a Eureka moment. It became abundantly clear that my frustration at times trying to argue with our too-smart for his britches, pint-sized Peke - you know, an intelligent and all-too-human conversation with an imperial dog whose ancestors were all raised in palaces from Peking to London – might result in his transformation into a statue standing guard outside a Chinese eating establishment. Do you think that the next time he stops dead in his tracks and absolutely refuses to budge a centimeter, and gives a look of utter disdain, that I should pull out a photo of this stone Foo Dog? I could fire a stern, verbal warning shot over his head (which wouldn’t be hard to do at 10-inches off the pavement) he’d realize his mistake and stop pretending to be a 1,500 lb. water buffalo?? I’m considering my course of action. The next time he acts like a member of an imperial household, I may mush his face up to my computer screen and show him, SHOW HIM, this stone statue. Yep, that’ll change his ways.

As to rumors that he has taken to riding on a Golden Retriever with a custom leather and silk saddle, well, I ask you, where’s the proof?

I am so pleased to welcome
a new follower
s to Tampa Daily Photo.
Sumedang Daily Photo provides a fascinating window into the colorful world of Indonesia. Be sure and visit his site for an intimate glimpse at the people and places of his homeland. HERE

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bright afternoon sun kisses beach grasses

This is how we're supposed to spend the end of a busy day. Kicking back and enjoying the delightful salt air, soft breeze and a warm afternoon sun as it grows tired and the shadows grow long. Cypress Point Park is thick with native Florida palms, plants and grasses undergoing restoration along the beach and pond. The park is inviting and relaxing and has windy walkways, sand dunes and covered shelters for outdoor dining with a beach and water view. It’s a quiet place to stroll, get sand in your toes or walk the Peke...that is if he wants to walk. (OK, OK, hound dog, I'll carry you.) Now, what was I saying about a relaxing stroll?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vicente Martinez Ybor: His legacy lives on

For a man who played such a significant role in the success of our city, whose vision and business acumen put Tampa on the world’s map, you would think that his grave, an above-ground that is more commonly found in New Orleans then in Tampa, would have more “bells and whistles,” or a bit more flash. But it doesn’t, and maybe that’s the way he would have liked it. I don’t know. It is still well maintained in Tampa’s St. Louis Cemetery, but it’s not on any Map to the Stars Gravesites or visited very often; Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris this is not. Vicente Matinez Ybor was born in Valencia, Spain on September 7, 1818 and immigrated to Cuba in 1832. He found work in the thriving Cuban cigar business that would propel him and the entire industry into the stratosphere. He founded his own company in Havana, Cuba in 1856 and began manufacturing his El Principe de Gales - the "Prince of Wales" cigar brand. The brand quickly became popular, and Ybor's factory was soon producing 20,000 cigars a day.

In 1868, war broke out with Spain as the Cubans fought to win their independence from Spain. Even though he was a Spaniard, Ybor took the side of his adopted country and was accused with providing funds to Cuban rebels. To avoid imprisonment he sailed to Florida in 1869 and made Key West his new home. Ybor built a new cigar factory and kept making top quality, handrolled cigars employing many fellow Cubans who also left their homeland and the war with Spain. Though his business did well, he began having problems with the factory workers.

His search for a new home for himself and his cigar factory lead him to Tampa. The Tampa Board of Trade (today’s Chamber of Commerce) wanted Ybor and his business interests and sweetened the offers to him until he agreed and purchased 40 acres of land just east of the city in October of 1885. He moved his factory and workers and named his new town Ybor City. Vicente Martinez Ybor’s business flourished as did the town. The Ybor City cigar industry grew to more than 250 cigar factories with 30,000 employees. Tens of millions of cigars, handrolled and later machine-made, were manufactured and sold generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Tampa’s reputation and renown as the Cigar Capital of the World was well deserved. When Ybor died on December 14, 1896, the man who put Ybor City, the town named for him, and Tampa, on the map left a proud and lasting legacy.

See the original cigar factory Vicente Martinez Ybor built in 1886 HERE.

If you love
your world in black and white, be sure and visit some of the world's most interesting places and experience the incredible photographic artistry of Monochrome Maniacs!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beach grass soaking in the setting sun

The sun sets over Old Tampa Bay and the beach grass can't get enough of the waning rays. The end to a glorious November day in Florida.

Friday, November 13, 2009

SKYWATCH Friday - Season 4 Episode 18

This was Tampa's sky at 3:00 this afternoon. Not even a hint of a cloud...not even a whisper. This shot, taken from Bayshore Boulevard over Hillsborough Bay toward Davis Island is as exciting as our sky will get today and probably through the weekend. After Tropical Storm Ida left the state and moved up the eastern seaboard, high level winds pushed down and over the state and took everything in the sky with it. The whole Gulf coast of Florida is left with incredibly blue, BLUE skies. (And, very near perfect weather. Thank you!!)

Visit Skywatch Friday to see the beauty and wonders of the world's most magnificent skies. It's always an amazing show brought to you by Skywatchers from all over the planet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Your Sport Fisherman wants to play on Tampa Bay

If this fine sport fisherman boat was yours you'd be all set for some of the finest game and eating fish in the world. Tampa Bay offers both great game and sports fishing opportunities, such as record-size tarpon, plus delicious eating fish like the indescribable taste of fresh caught grouper. Catch snook, tarpon, redfish, trout, kingfish, shark and grouper right from your boat. And the scenery isn't bad either. (I have to leave my favorite delicacy from the sea, SHRIMP, to the pros out in the Gulf of Mexico.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A grateful nation honoring the known and the unknown: Veterans Day 2009

I took this photo on a cold, crisp morning in December of last year. This stark and simple monument, on the eastern plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery, commands a breathtaking view of our nation’s capital. The city of Washington, in the District of Columbia (my birthplace), can be seen in the distance. Known as the Tomb of the Unknowns, the white marble sarcophagus has three Greek figures, representing Peace, Victory, and Valor, sculpted into the east panel which faces Washington. On Nov. 11, 1921, the Unknown Soldier from World War I was interred at the site. President Warren G. Harding officiated at the ceremonies. The Unknown Soldier was meant to be symbolic of all service members who lost their lives during World War I, “The Great War, the war to end all wars.” In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to pay tribute to the unknowns of World War II and Korea. The interment of these unknowns took place in 1958. After a final selection process, each received the Medal of Honor and they were placed beside their comrade from World War I. On Memorial Day in 1984, President Reagan presided over the presentation of the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown and interment. (After the Vietnam remains were identified in 1998, it was decided that the crypt that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant.)

Veterans and their family members, representing our nation’s wars from the American Civil War to today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are all buried here. Covering 624 acres of rolling Virginia hillsides, more than 300,000 people are buried in Arlington.

Later today, President Barack Obama will come here to take part in a ceremony honoring all of our nation’s veterans. This day, Veterans Day, is the anniversary of the end of World War I. Originally called Armistice Day, it is celebrated as a federal holiday each year on November 11. The name of the holiday was changed in 1954 to Veterans Day to honor those who died in all American wars.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simply blue as dollars go missing

I stumbled upon this abandoned building while out driving on Rocky Point. I was intrigued as I saw the formal and imposing archways and classy-looking logo amidst decay and a trash-strewn driveway. Rocky Point is an island of offices, restaurants, hotels, apartments and condominiums located less than a mile out into Tampa Bay via the Courtney Campbell Causeway. (It is not a place I would want to be when the hurricane enters the bay from the Gulf of Mexico.) There has been a lot of investment and development over the years that has seen tremendoust success. Its a beautiful place to work and live and many large corporations have Rocky Point addresses. It's also a delightful place to dine and enjoy the water view.

But at least one project, the Blue Meridian, never got past the opening of its preview sales center. Conceived as a 14-story, "luxury resort," residential community, it was to sit on 3 acres of Rocky Point, a "paradise" of island living with 108 residences ranging in size from 1,500 to 4,300 square feet. Its marketing copy claimed it would be where "city life is balanced by the relaxed elegance of island living." Cost per unit would go from $600,000 up to $3 million. Whether this project ever gets built I haven't a clue. But, stuck smack in the middle of a new waterfront Hampton Inn Rocky Point and the new Westin Tampa Bay, are the remains of sales center for the Meridian,
once an elegant and luxurious preview of fine living. Why it now stands empty, practically crumbling and overgrown, is a good question. And it is a substantial structure that I'm certain was designed to impart the kind of "paradise" the developers were trying to sell. Today, the only thing that remains of the project is BLUE. As in depressing and ugly. Vines are overtaking the building, weeds have grown up through the parking lot and drive, and the once lush plants are trying to survive on drops of rain water, even as the huge terra cotta pots crack and topple over. It is all terribly sad and blue.

Monday, November 09, 2009

This is the Sunshine State?

Nope, this is not a black and white image. It's just a mighty gray day in Florida, the state that's much better known for its clear blue skies, blazing hot sun and sandy beaches. This shot was taken at 2:30pm as the winds kicked up and a storm sky moved in. I can just imagine what every tourist arriving on this flight is thinking at this very moment, just as the cheery flight attendant welcomes them to Tampa International Airport... Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tampa. It's not as warm as your travel agent promised, and there is a chance it will rain all day. Winds are increasing and you may feel the affects of Tropical Storm Ida which is moving into the state in the morning. Put away your tanning lotion, put on a light wind breaker and enjoy your stay.

As all of us who live in Florida know very well, the bright blue sky will reappear before your very eyes. Just wave your magic wand and toss a bit of fairy dust. Abracadabra, it's the Sunshine State again.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

MONOCHROME Weekly: St. Louis Cemetery

This giant Cypress tree intertwined and pushing up a fine old headstone is in the middle of St. Louis Cemetery. This cemetery is located at the northern end of Oaklawn Cemetery. Oaklawn was established in the 1850s, is owned by the city and is Tampa's oldest burial ground. St. Louis Cemetery is owned by the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, and both are surrounded by a stone wall bounded by Harrison, Jefferson, Morgan and Laurel Streets in Tampa's downtown. A fence that once separated the two is gone but markers delineate the two. Vicente Martinez Ybor, the man for whom Ybor City is named, and who brought the cigar industry here from Key West - and made Tampa the Cigar Capital of the World - is also buried here. (I posted other monochromatic images of the cemeteries in August HERE, and again in September, HERE.)

If you love
your world in black and white, be sure and visit some of the world's most interesting places and experience the incredible photographic artistry of Monochrome Maniacs!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The PiperJet dives on the Meridian

Today was the last of a three day annual conference of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. (Yeh, no more airplane photos from Frank for a year!!) They estimated that as many as 10,000 aviators were here in the city for the Aviation Summit held at the Tampa Convention Center. (The AOPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to general aviation. It was begun in 1939 and has grown to almost 350,000 members.) I spent my time at Peter O. Knight Airport out at the end of Davis Islands touring the prop and jet planes on display, watching take-offs and landings and enjoying the beautiful weather. This Piper Meridian was parked in front of the Piper semi-trailer and I thought the PiperJet swooping in made for a good backdrop to the single-engine, six-passenger turboprop. The Meridian, which costs about $2,050,000, has a 25,000 foot ceiling and cruises at 260 knots.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Season 4 Episode 17

By early evening today's clear blue skies, without a hint of clouds all day, gave way to these light and wispy clouds appearing from the outer bands of Hurricane Ida. Ida, which hit Nicaragua with 75 mph winds, is expected to be in the central Gulf of Mexico by midday Tuesday as a tropical storm.

Visit Skywatch Friday t
o see the beauty and wonders of the world's most magnificent skies. It's always an amazing show brought to you by Skywatchers from all over the planet.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lockheed Electra L-12 Junior: Hilary Swank's ride in the film "Amelia"

Over the next three days Tampa plays host to the first-ever Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Aviation Summit. They estimate that as many as 10,000 aviators will be here in the city and headquartered at the Tampa Convention Center. The exhibit halls will feature aviation products, seminars, updates and general information related to the industry, and the popular and growing flying community. The AOPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to general aviation. It was begun in 1939 and has grown to almost 350,000 members.

One of my favorite places to shoot in Tampa is what is known as the Seaplane Basin. The basin area, which includes the Davis Islands Yacht Club at the very end of Davis Islands, was designed initially for seaplanes. It sits at the very tip of the islands. Part of the dream and 1920's development by David Paul Davis of Davis Islands - that began as nothing more than sand spits off of Bayshore Boulevard and Tampa's downtown business district which he dredged up into today's islands neighborhood. Peter O. Knight Airport, Tampa first airport, was built in the 1930s by workers of the Works Progress Administration. It was named for Knight, an attorney and prominent Tampa businessman. After World War II, Tampa's main commercial airport was relocated from Davis Island to the area of Drew Field, a U.S. Army Air Corps base during the war. Peter O. Knight Airport's runways were too short for larger passenger planes following the war and could not be lengthened to accommodate the newer and larger aircraft. The airport is now used by many private aircraft owners, and an assortment of news helicopters. Peter O. Knight is the host airport for the Aviation Summit and has a display of roughly 100 airplanes and even some helicopters. I saw everything today from balloons to jets, sport and vintage aircraft, and a U. S. Coast helicopter. They even have radio-controlled planes. The day’s weather was perfect. Perfect, and it was fun to watch the take-off and landings of everything from vintage biplanes to small personal jets. (Tampa newest fireboat, which I posted on September 29, HERE, was even docked in the basin for tours.)

This plane is the star of the show. The Lockheed L-12 Electra Junior is an eight-seat, six passenger all-metal transport originally designed in the 1930s for smaller airlines and private owners. It’s a scaled-down version of the Lockheed 10 Electra, the plane actually flown by Amelia Earhart on her last flight before disappearing somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. The L-12 Junior, made its initial flight on June 27, 1936. (You should know this plane: an identical L-12 starred with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 film Casablanca.) A total of only 130 Electra Juniors were built. It features two Pratt & Whitney R-985-48 radial engines, each with 450 horsepower. Its maximum speed is 225 mph, and has a range of 800 miles (1,287 km). It flew at just under 23,000 foot.

Hilary Swank is known to movie-goers for her Oscar winning performances in “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby.” In her new film biography, “Amelia,” Swank plays Amelia Earhart, the accomplished pilot, aviatrix (I love that word…sexy!), who vanished in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world. Swank spent quite a bit of time with this very plane and even signed the cabin door (see insert left). If you want to read more and about Swank and this very plane, click HERE. In a word, the plane is spectacular! (And I bet the movie is pretty good.)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

WATERY Wednesday #60: Little Blue Herons and their population decline

The Little Blue Heron, or the Petit Heron Bleu in French, is a waterbird I see along the shores of the bay. They are usually walking along very slowly and deliberately looking for morsels of food. (I was within 6-8 feet of the bird when I got this shot.) Although I posted about one back in July (with a crustacean of some sort in his beak), I thought I saw them with some frequency. After capturing this one, I Googled him to see what more there was of interest that I could share with you. I was surprised to discover that they are listed by the National Audubon Society as a Common Bird in Decline on a list of twenty birds. They state that the “long-term success of these herons is limited mostly by their food supply. They forage for fish, crustaceans, and frogs in shallow water in saline, brackish, and freshwater habitats, areas that are very vulnerable to declines in water quality.” The outlook for them in the southeastern United States requires “quality shallow water habitats …, so their fate depends on our protecting the quality and quantity of these habitats.” Unlike the National Audubon Society’s Watch List, they are not in immediate danger of extinction, despite the fact that their population, now at approximately 150,000 worldwide, is a 54% decline in 40 years.

According to the National Audubon Society, “Little Blue Herons breed along the Atlantic coast from southern Maine to Florida, with concentrations from South Carolina southward. Breeding across the Florida peninsula, this egret is distributed unevenly around the Gulf Coast and coastal plain, with the greatest densities in Louisiana. Little Blue Herons also breed up the Mississippi River valley into Illinois and through eastern Texas into Kansas. Wintering territory shrinks back to the warmer coasts. Little Blue Herons also occur throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and South America as far south as Uruguay…. Today, the loss of feeding habitat seems to be the greatest limiting factor for this dark heron.”

Having all this information, I think I will pay a lot more attention to the Little Blue Heron in the future and treat each sighting with a bit more awe and respect.

Click HERE to see other wet and Watery Wednesday images from around the

I'm pleased to WELCOME Beth Niquette of Independence, Oregon. Beth has four blogs, but start with Expect the Unexpected HERE for spectacular photography of one of America's most beautiful and scenic places. Starting out with a love for photography and the darkroom (many of us well remember the chemicals, noxious fumes and GraLab timers), she says, "With the invention of the digital camera, I was set free to capture the amazing, unusual and the unexpected.." You'll like Beth's world.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

That's My World! Tuesday

I took hammer, drill and some brass screws and skillfully performed some DIY (Do It Yourself) projects in the backyard today. None were finished when I called it quits but just handling the finely-made brass screws made my day. And, to be honest, I didn't really display any "skillful" handling of the tools or the project at hand, but it still was kind of fun and relaxing. (Especially because it's not 90+ degrees.)

Funny about the brass screws. Do you ever buy the wrong items or thingamajigs at the big home repair stores and then not return the wrong purchase...ever? I do it all the time and have accumulated my own warehouse full of hardware and tools that may never be used. BUT, when a new and unexpected project rears its head, those mis-purchases sure do come in handy. I have no idea why I bought the half pound of fine, 1 1/2" brass wood screws, but they came in handy today. Now I have to try tomorrow to finish what I began today. But, that's not 'til tomorrow.

Every week bloggers from around the world show you THAT'S MY WORLD. Visit others to glimpse at the fun and get a taste of our bit of earth at "My World Tuesday."

Monday, November 02, 2009

Florida’s Autumn Colors Ablaze

OK, so this scene does not feature any of nature's traditional autumn colors...or any sign that fall has arrived on Florida's delightful Gulf Coast. But, the evening IS cooler by ten degrees and there's a light breeze. Delightful. Yes, that's the word to describe our small corner of the world. Is it any wonder why I thoroughly enjoy your posts from New England like John's from Newtown, Pennsylvania, Lori and her Skoog Farm Journal from Western New York State (and your kitchen fireplace), Sunny at Barnyards and Barnacles in Massachusetts, Brattcat living in Brattleboro, Vermont and Don and Krise calling Olympia, Washington home. Even the high desert of Santa Fe is seeing the change in temperature and colors in the sky and trees. Lois in Tallahassee, Florida, our state's capital, is far enough north to feel a completely different autumn or at least is having more fall-like weather. (Hey, Jacob, in Ocala, are you getting out the wool sweaters and stacking the firewood yet?) Thanks one and all for living in such places of beauty....and seasons.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

DOORWAY to History and Higher Education

This is one of three massive and ornate doorways that lead from the West Veranda into the original lobby of the Tampa Bay Hotel. Henry B. Plant’s railroad cars would pull up to the steps on the veranda and arriving guests would be greeted by the luxury and ornate splendor of the Moorish-styled hotel. Looking today very much as it did when the Victorian-era resort hotel opened in 1891, the lobby is used day and night by students of the University of Tampa, which has a 99-year lease on the building from the City of Tampa.

During the Spanish-American War in 1898, Colonel Teddy Roosevelt was a guest of the hotel while preparing his Rough Riders for their embarkation for Cuba. Other illustrious guests during the lead-up to war with Spain were Major General Joseph Wheeler, General Nelson A. Miles, Colonel Leonard Wood, General Fitzhugh Lee, General William R. Shafter, Richard Harding Davis, and other newspaper correspondents from the United States and Europe. The Henry B. Plant Museum occupies part of the building and preserves and showcases the hotel's historic place in our city's and nations' history.

The private four-year university began to use the empty and unused hotel in 1933, and has graduated thousands of students over the years. Along with the famous and not so famous, thousands of current students, from almost every state in the US and several foreign countries, will go on to make history in the years ahead. All have passed through this doorway. First when it was a main entrance to the hotel, and now as a part of the university, this doorway has welcomed men and women from all over the world and from every station in life: the rich and the illustrious; famous journalists; decorated military officers; and sports figures whose names are enshrined at Cooperstown. Tampa's elite party here regularly and many worthy non-profit organizations have benefited from social events held here with some frequency. Alumni of the university include Pete Peterson, U.S. Air Force pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam, former U.S. Representative and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam; former Secretary of the Interior of Mexico Juan Camilo Mouriño; actress and wrestler Joan Laurer; author Dennis James Kennedy; and Major League Baseball players and Baseball Hall of Famers Tino Martinez and Lou Pinella. Major sports figures in baseball and football passed through this doorway. Florida’s House of Representatives and Senate, along with Tampa’s city hall, all have had UT graduates among their distinguished membership. Even former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich attended UT for two years. Author Connie May Fowler and Robert “Bob” Martinez, former mayor of the city of Tampa, Florida governor and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H. W. Bush, all graduated from UT.

Other notable hotel guests included John L. Sullivan, Stuyvesant Fish, William Jennings Bryan, Sarah Bernhardt, Clara Barton, Stephen Crane, the Prince of Wales and the Queen of the United Kingdom. Babe Ruth even stayed at the Tampa Bay Hotel. Throughout its years as a private university, the rich and the famous who visited have included politicians including two visits by Senator John S. McCain in his 2008 campaign for the presidency.

Today, most students pass through this doorway on their way to class and never once imagine the historic events and personages that have gone before them. But, very likely, many of them will return one day as proud, accomplished, or even famous, alumni.

The September theme for City Daily Photo bloggers from all over the world is DOORWAYS. Be sure and visit the other sites to see how creative and imaginative my fellow CDP bloggers are:

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