Friday, October 30, 2015

Otolaryngology and Audiology Visits

On Sunday I woke up with an ear that no longer worked. So Thursday morning I went to a local otolaryngologist to get it checked out. She removed some wax but wanted me to get an audiogram since my last one was in 2007, and that appointment was set for Friday morning at 9:00. Talk about cutting it close--I had stopped into the office Thursday to let them know we would be leaving Friday and they told me that checkout time would be 11:00.

So bright and early Friday morning I went to see the audiologist. It was very interesting to go through a full audiological work up.  My faithful readers know that before retirement I was a speech-language pathologist, and actually was a Speech/Audiology major in undergrad. I had given some of these tests in the past, but we are talking 18 years ago and technology has really changed. I told the audiologist that they have a lot of cool toys and he agreed.

First he looked in my ears, performed a tympanogram to see if my ear drum was functioning, then sat me down in the soundproof booth with headphones. I pressed a button whenever I heard a tone. Then he repeated the test with a hissing sound in my good ear, and again with a special gizmo (technical term) on my head that transmitted sound through the bones of my skull. He had me repeat a long list of words to check my word recognition, then brought me out of the booth to perform an otoacoustic emissions test. This tested the working of my cochlea in the inner ear. I found myself thinking that I was glad I had not gone into audiology as a profession because these tests (to me) are pretty boring to administer and I'd hate to have to do that all day.

The results showed that I have normal hearing in my left ear but a mild hearing loss at 2000 Hz, moderate hearing loss at 3000 Hz, and severe hearing loss at 4000 Hz and above in my right ear. My word recognition was perfect in my left ear and 96% in my right ear. My eardrums worked well. I had an immediate follow up with my otolaryngologist who told me she wanted me to consider a course of prednisone at a very high dose, but unfortunately that would put me at risk for stroke, diabetes, destruction of the hip joint, increased susceptibility to infections and to cancer, stomach bleeding, and cataracts. With the steroid there was a possibility that my hearing would return, but also a possibility of very bad things happening to me.

I  frankly would rather be deaf in one ear than dead or debilitated.

We returned to the campground, said goodbye to some friends, and waved goodbye to the fish in the koi pond.

(Ok, maybe we didn't wave to the fish but I wanted to include this photo I took of them and didn't know how else to fit it in.)

We are at a nice park in Bushnell, FL for two nights and will head out Sunday morning. I am excited to be heading for Texas!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Smartphone Photography Workshop and South Florida Museum

It has been a busy couple of days. On Tuesday I attended the Geeks on Tour Smartphone Photography Workshop for four hours. Now, I take all my photos with my iPhone, and feel comfortable using it, but I learned quite a bit about different ways to use it. The Geeks have been encouraging us to use Google Photos, and if you aren't using it you really ought to give it a try. I love the face recognition in this app and the way it can search for images by typing in a keyword.

John and Kathy Huggins shared their table with me and I got some good shots of them as part of my class work. Here Kathy is being helped by Chris Guld, one of our instructors.
I was happy with the way I caught John's expression.
After the class my ear was really bothering me so I decided to lay low and skip the afternoon social at the clubhouse. 

This morning (Wednesday) Bob and I drove over to the South Florida Museum and Manatee Aquarium. Another $28 saved through our Norman Rockwell Museum reciprocal NARM membership. Don't I just love a bargain. :)

This place had a lot of different things to see.  I loved this statue and fountain. The courtyard is typical old-style Spanish architecture.

The museum boasts an aquarium with four manatees, including the oldest known manatee in captivity. Just look at that face.
Other exhibits included clothing worn by Seminole Indians...

...wildlife dioramas....
 ...and a photography exhibit of images of Cuba, by Clyde Butcher. I was moved by his hauntingly beautiful photographs.
After the museum Bob and I walked along the Riverwalk, on the bank of the Braden River. It was really lovely. We enjoyed dreaming about owning a million dollar boat. Not that I would trade our RV for a boat, you understand.
Tomorrow is our last full day here in Bradenton.  We have really enjoyed our stay, but it is time to move on.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Last Day of the Gathering

Sunday was the "good-bye day" of the Gathering, with coffee and doughnuts in the clubhouse. This photo is from Saturday evening.
We had such a great time chatting with folks and saying farewell. Afterwards Bob and I went to Peter and Judy's Airstream Sky Deck motorhome to check it out. It was way cool. Too bad they don't make these anymore. There were only 12 of this floor plan made.

Poor Auggie has been left alone in the motorhome every day for the last week, so Monday was his day. We brought him to Fort DeSoto Park, about 45 minutes north of Bradenton,  where they have a "Paws Beach."
This is the only beach we have been to where dogs are allowed to run on the beach off lead, providing they are under voice control. As a trained service dog, Auggie stays within a few feet of me at all times. Boy did he have fun making new friends!
He is not a fan of the water, but he didn't seem afraid of it at all. Auggie has been to a beach in Portsmouth, RI so this was not a totally new experience. I loved seeing all the dogs enjoying the day.

Unfortunately, there are also little pricker-type burrs that required me to pick them out from between the pads of his feet. Ouch!


Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Gathering, Day 4

Saturday was our fourth day, starting with a session by John and Kathy titled "Lessons Learned." Good information on mishaps and how to avoid them, with lots of audience participation. The Geeks presented a seminar on Google Maps, and taught us how to plan multi-stop routes and save the maps for future reference. Great stuff!

We had a cookout on the island with burgers and dogs (Bob was one of the grilles and did a fabulous job!) that was so much fun.

Then the highlight of our day was a presentation by Al Hesselbart on the history of the different types of RVs, starting in 1896! Did you know people were RVing back then? The very first RVs were horse-drawn wagons with tents on them. Later on, with the advent of the automobile, people built their own trailers and truck camper-type vehicles. In the 1930s RVs were built for the wealthy and were driven by chauffeur. The poor driver was often exposed to the elements as he drove, and slept in the back of the car. One early fifth wheel had a maid's quarters!

The first motorhomes were called "house campers" and were not called "motor homes" until 1958.
 
Al showed hundreds of slides and they were fascinating. I asked when air conditioning started to be used in RVs and he told me that while "swamp coolers" we're used in the 1920s, true AC units weren't used until the 1970s.

We went out to dinner with Kathy and Randy, Cheryl and Bradley, to at Poppo's Taqueria. I tried the chicken quesadillas this time and it was as good as last time. Fun to share this place with friends!

At 6:30 we had door prizes and Bob won a week's stay at this park. We can use it for our next year's Gathering--yay! We also won two $5 gift cards to Dunkin Donuts for doing well at Travel Trivia. Our Gathering, we are proud to say, raised over $1,000 for Wounded Warriors through the nightly 50/50 drawing and the chinese auction. Whoo hoo!

Auggie has been more and more frantic when we return to the coach, so he will be glad when we are able to spend more time with him. This morning (Sunday) we have a farewell breakfast, and then the Gathering is over. Except for a class I'm taking with the Geeks on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Gathering, Day 3

Auggie is not enjoying this week at all. We leave him before 9:00 am, return for a walk at noon, leave for an afternoon workshop, return for a walk and to feed him his dinner, then leave for a few more hours. We hear him howling when we leave but it doesn't last. Poor lonely guy.

Yesterday we skipped the 8-9:00 coffee time, starting our day for the first workshop by John and Kathy on Workamping. That was followed by the Geeks with a good session on Google Photos before grabbing a slice of last night's pizza from the fridge for lunch and heading back to the pets. In the afternoon we attended a workshop on Wi-Fi by Eric Johnson, returned to the RV to bake some mini quiche bites for the evening's potluck, and had a great barbecue chicken potluck.

Bob and I each won books for door prizes. I got Terry Russell's excellent cookbook "Miss Terry's Kitchen" and Bob won an autographed copy of John and Kathy's "So You Want to be a Full-Time RVer?"

Our entertainment for the evening, Gid Pool, got his dates mixed up and arrived about an hour late, but put on a good show. The guy's 70 years old--I can understand forgetting what day it is!
Saturday is the last day of the Gathering, and again we have a full docket.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Gathering, Day 2

It was a full day on Tuesday, starting at 8:00 am for coffee and doughnuts with announcements and social time. At 9:00 John and Kathy hosted an introductory session on full time RVing, followed by Chris and Jim Guld of Geeks on Tour. The Geeks, as people refer to them, discussed Technology for Travellers and gave us an overview of things that can be done with their favorite apps.

Lunch was on our own, and we had time to walk Auggie before heading back for Eric Johnson's session on Electrical systems in the RV and indispensable products from Techno RV.

A roundtable discussion at 3:00 and a wine and cheese tasting in one of the three model homes in the park were a fun addition to the afternoon...followed by all you could eat pizza in the clubhouse. Bob and I helped serve over 200 slices of pizza in record time.

Then my favorite part of the day--watching a live podcast recording of an episode of Living the RV Dream, with audience participation.
It was a great show, and the hour just flew by.

By 8:30 we were back in the motorhome, tired but happy. And Friday it all starts again!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Gathering, Day1

Today was the day of registration for the Gathering.  I helped out by checking people in and giving out badges. It was fun meeting everyone! We had a good turnout, with about 55 rigs and some walk-ins... Over 100 people.
Afterwards we had a short program with John and Kathy Huggins, our hosts...
Kathy looks great, by the way. If you have been following the LTRVD podcasts you are aware that she had some serious health problems this year and almost died. But she has bounced back and she looks and sounds like she did a year ago before all of the health issues. She worked as hard as anyone  this week.

Then the presenters were brought on stage and introduced. Eric and Tami Johnson from Techno RV will be discussing getting the most out of campground free WiFi.
Geeks on Tour Chris and Jim Guld will be covering technology for RVers and various Google apps.
Al Hesselbart, former historian of the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, IN will be discussing the history of RVs.
And Greg Gerber, Editor of the RV Daily Report (and keynote speaker) gave an excellent overview of trends and statistics in the RV world. 

Tomorrow we start at 8:00 am and Go until 9:00 at night. It will be a fun packed day.

Fun Fun Fun

It has been pretty hectic around here, the last few days, as we make new friends and help out with the Gathering. On Monday I went over to the Clubhouse and joined a group of women for another craft session, and I finished weaving a quick scarf. I will post pics when I have had a chance to twist the fringe and wash it.

Monday evening Bob and I went out to dinner at Anna Maria's Oyster Bar and had a great time. There were thirteen of us and it was such fun.
The food was good (I had coconut shrimp and Bob had Yellowfin Tuna.) Both were excellent! And the onion straws were divine.

On Tuesday, Gathering activity started to ramp up. I spent a nice time helping with organizing materials and door prizes with the group, then the rest of the day was spent socializing with new friends. Rig after rig pulled in, including this one--a 2005 Airstream Sky-Top motor coach. It has a roof that opens up for parties!
When moving, the railings and seats disappear and the roofline is smooth. There's a stairway inside that leads up to the deck. I sure hope we get a chance to go up top.

The next few days are going to be jam packed with Gathering activities, so I will try to post when I can. Registration starts today and I can't wait!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bike Ride

On Friday evening we met at John and Kathy Huggins' site for a social hour, and enjoyed getting to know some new friends who will be joining us for the Living the RV Dream Gathering. What a nice bunch of folks. We learned about a dog park that as close enough to bicycle to, so on Saturday we decided to do just that.

It was a perfect morning for a bike ride. The skies were blue and it wasn't too warm to pedal. We made it to the park after a rather long ride (and some tricky spots to maneuver on a bike) but it was worth it. This park was probably the largest we've ever visited besides the dog park at the SKP park in Yuma, AZ, but it had the advantage of grass and a shady area to sit. Auggie had fun making new friends and chasing dogs around the large area. We met a woman there who told us she was an attorney for abused children. Tough job! She enjoyed hearing about our care free lifestyle, after telling us about a case she is working on involving this missing girl in the area. Very sad. That evening we saw the details of the story on the news. I don't think I could sleep if I had to deal with low life child abusers every day.

After the dog park we headed towards home and stopped at a thrift store. I found a toaster and a rolling pin that I needed. I. Sure I was quite a sight tootling down the road with a toaster on my bike! But I was all set in case I had a sudden toast craving.
Today we are going to see The Martian at the movie theater--can't wait!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mini-modifications

One thing that I wish we had more of in our coach is electrical outlets. Since I spend a fair amount of time in the passenger chair, I like to have everything close at hand. I've been using an extension cord that snakes across our new cabinet, just to plug in my reading lamp. So today Bob finished up installing a new outlet next to my spot. Here it is:
He used the cord off of our old printer that was going to the dump. He then purchased an outlet box, cover plate, outlet, and wiremold to control and conceal the wire. Bob spray painted the wiremold and box black, then wired the outlet to the cord. He installed it so that the cord enters the entertainment center overhead through one of the vent openings. We can now plug in the GPS when riding down the road without having the cord stretch across the walkway to the door. And I can plug in my phone charger and my lamp from IKEA that sits in the cup holder that I never used.

Another quick improvement was to use Command Velcro strips to attach this little pen box to the wall under my window next to the chair. I can keep my reading glasses handy, too. This used to stick on our refrigerator but I like it here much better.
How about using mounting tape to hold a magnetic knife rack to the tile next to the sink? I found some 2# heavy duty mounting tape and a knife rack from Target--works great, even when bouncing down the road!

Two more improvements that we did early on, but I will include here, are the magnetic doorstop that we use to keep the bathroom door open for the cat to use the litter box...

...and the curtain I made for the bathroom window. For some reason, every other window has a privacy screen except the bathroom window, so one was needed to allow the window to be opened when desired. This is a piece of fabric from the bridal department of JoAnne Fabrics, and to hem it all you need is a pair of sharp scissors to cut carefully around the lace design, which gives you kind of a scalloped edge. The fabric was inexpensive, too.

So there you have it!

We have had a nice few days here. Bob went fishing with his friend, Brent, and brought back a sea trout for dinner. We grilled it that night and it was so good.

This morning Bob and I went to coffee hour at the clubhouse and sat with John and Kathy Huggins, having a nice time visiting and doing what RVers love to do: Sharing favorite places and eating!

Auggie's head is getting swelled by all the nice emails and phone calls about his story from earlier this week. Thanks to all for your kind comments!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Aggie's Early Days, part 3

The first couple of days living on the streets were so bad I hate to even think about them. It was summertime now, and the weather was very hot. I was terrified that Rocco would find me so I watched constantly for a man in a black baseball cap and hid when I saw one.

There were a lot of places to hide. Summertime in the city is building time, so there are construction sites everywhere. It was easy to find a hole in a pile of building rubble and dig my way in, so I could sleep at night. Every morning I would follow my nose to a restaurant and sit out front, begging for food. I wouldn't let anyone get too close, but oftentimes someone would toss me a taste of something. I also had to keep my eyes open to watch for Rocco, and so many men with black baseball caps walked by that I never felt safe. And a lot of people tried to chase me away, calling me names. Some even told me to "go home," as if I ever would!

One thing that made my life pretty miserable was my coat. My hair mats really easily, and Mia had never bothered to brush or groom me. So by now I was almost a solid mat of fur all over my body.  And the fleas! I was being tortured by them in this heat. 

I met a lady who felt really sorry for me.  She would bring me food every morning and speak kindly to me, calling me Bam Bam. I wouldn't let her get too close but I really wanted to! She would hang out for long periods of time while tossing bits of bread and cheese to me. I started to allow her to get closer every day, until finally she was close enough to pick me up.

"You are really a mess, aren't you?" she told me as she scratched my chest. Oh that felt so good!  "I wish I could keep you, but my place doesn't allow pets. I do know a place that will help you, though." She held me in her arms as she walked down the street and into a building that she called a "Humane Society."

'Oh no, I don't think I like this place at all!' I thought to myself. I could hear dogs barking and cats meowing, and none of them sounded happy. The nice lady told the man at the desk that I was a stray and my name was Bam Bam.  I was then put in a cage by myself and I sat there day after day while people walked past me. No one stopped for long. I was allowed in a run twice a day, but in between times I had to pee and poop on the paper in my cage. The mats of my fur soaked up the urine like a sponge. I was miserable.

After days and days went by, I overheard a couple of people talking about who was on the list to be "put down" the next day. "That Bam Bam, he's got a one way ticket out tomorrow," joked the man. "No one wants him."

"Let me see that one," replied a woman. "I'm with Burlington County Animal Alliance." She opened the cage door and patted the front of the cage. "Come here, baby," she said to me. How did she know my name? I wagged my tail and came closer. "My, you need a good grooming, but you look so young--how would you like to come with me? I think I can find you a good home." I licked her face. Yes! Take me out of here!

She brought me to the home of a really nice woman who had lots of dogs in her house.  I was in heaven!  My name was changed again, to "Sugar," which was fine (just don't call me late for supper! Hah!) I now had lots of doggie friends to play with and a big yard to roam. I even let them groom me, and I felt so much better with all that hair gone. And no fleas anymore!
Auggie on Petfinder.com, after his mats were shaved off.

A few weeks later a bunch of us dogs went to a store (Mom later referred to it as a Petsmart Adoption Day,) where lots of people oohed and aahed over us. And that's where I met Mom! She told me that she knew right off the bat that I was her dog.  She and Dad changed my name to Auggie, but sometimes they call me Sparky, Snuffy, Mr. Wiggles, or whatever comes to mind. I think that's funny!  I have had so many names.

I was a little nervous around Dad for a few days, in case he decided he had to wear a black baseball cap and turn mean, but it's been 7 years and he never has been anything but loving. I still watch for Rocco, though. Sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of him and I have to bark and warn Mom and Dad, but they have promised to keep me safe and so far, so good.

Other things that have changed for me, too. It took a while but I now know that getting up on the table is a big no-no. I go outside to "do my business," too. I still don't like to be brushed, but Mom trims me regularly and gives me lots of baths, so I stay neat looking. I get to meet lots of dogs in the campgrounds where we stay, and the view out the window changes often.  Life is good. I have even made my peace with that cat, KC, who lives with us. Sometimes I chase him just to see him run, but he's not such a bad guy after all.

Thanks for reading my story! I won't say "The End" because there's still lots to live before my story is really done.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Auggie's Early Days, Part 2

It wasn't all bad, living in that run-down apartment in Philadelphia. Mia would head off to school in the morning and her momma would go to work, so Booger and I had the place to ourselves. We would roughhouse and play so hard some times that things would get knocked over. Poor Booger took the blame for those accidents because he was so big. Although, truth be told, a lot of times it was my fault. Momma would yell and throw things, often sending him outside for the night to fend for himself.  Sometimes it was really cold, and Booger would drag himself back in the next morning with icicles on his fur. After a night like that, he shivered for hours. I would curl up next to my friend and try to warm him up. I was so much smaller that I don't know how much warmth he got from me, but at least I kept him company and he let me know how much that was appreciated by licking my face.

My life changed one night, though. Rocco had come over with a pizza and beer, and was hanging out with Momma. Mia had forgotten to feed me again, and boy was I hungry! So when Rocco sat down in the living room with his beer, I hopped up on the table to see what they had left us. And, SCORE! There was almost half of a pizza on the table. I grabbed a slice before Booger stood up on his hind feet and took one for himself. Maybe I got a little greedy, because I was so hungry that I didn't want to share. I lifted my leg on the rest of the pizza to show him that it was all mine.

"What the f*ck!!!" I heard from the doorway. Rocco came in, just in time to see me marking my territory. "I'm gonna kill that f*ucking rat!!" Rocco grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and slammed me against the wall. Mia heard the commotion and ran into the room. "Don't hurt him! Don't hurt my Baby!" she shouted as she tried to get around Rocco to pick me up. Rocco gave her a shove and her body hit the floor hard. I cowered in the corner, wishing I could do something to keep Mia safe. "Rocco, get the h*ll out of here NOW!" I heard Momma say, but Rocco ignored her. He kicked me, over and over, until everything went dark, the shouting faded, and I stopped hurting.

When I finally came to, I was in a cardboard box and as riding in a car. The car pulled to a stop and I heard Rocco talking.  I also heard a lot of barking in the background. I stuck my head up over the top of the box to look around.  There were large dogs, covered with scars, barking at Rocco and at each other. These were scary dogs and I could tell I was in trouble. Rocco was telling his friend that he had a "bait dog" for him. This was not good.

I climbed stiffly out of the box and waited by the door of the car, and when the door opened I shot out of there like a flash. I was free! I could hear Rocco swearing and yelling at me, but I was not going to let him catch me, oh no!  I rounded the corner and kept running.

Next time: alone on the streets of Philly.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Auggie Tells About his Early Days, Part 1


I don't like to think too much about my early days before I met my Mom and Dad. But Mom has been urging me to tell me about them, so here is my story.

I was born in Philadelphia in the back room off the kitchen of a small apartment, with 2 other littler mates (one boy and one girl.) It was pretty cold in that little room; the door to the outside opened right up into our space and people kept their boots next to our area, which was an old playpen. I remember snuggling up with my mother and pushing my siblings aside so I could nurse. Later as they got bigger they would push back! We had a lot of fun times wrestling, but I don't remember too much more of that time. I was pretty young, of course.

When I was 6 weeks old the woman who lived in the other side of the house got a notice saying that she was breaking some kind of law by having so many dogs in one apartment. So she put the three of us in a box and took us outside to the local grocery store.

How can I describe that first time outside? I remember it was cold, and the sun was so strong that I had to keep my eyes almost closed. The cardboard box kept most of the wind off us, and we huddled together.  We couldn't see too much but those sounds were scary--there was honking of horns and loud voices.  I heard the words "free puppies!" over and over, and people stopped to look at us. My brother and sister were both taken away, and I cried out for them to come back. But they didn't return. It seemed like I was in that box forever, all by myself.

Finally a little girl came by and stopped to look at me. She picked me up and I tried to show her what a good puppy I was by licking her face, which made her laugh. She talked with the woman, then stuck me inside her jacket. It felt so nice being out of the wind! "You're my baby, now!" she told me.

The girl took me to my new home. She carried me up a lot of stairs. It was smelly, as if people had been using the hallway as a bathroom. 

Inside the apartment I was surprised to see another dog. The girl called him Booger, and he was big and brown.  I loved him right away. The girl's mother made a face when she saw me. "Mia, what's that?" she asked the girl. "It's my puppy! A lady gave him to me--I'm going to call him Baby, because he's my little babydoll."  "You'd better keep him away from Rocco--he ain't gonna like him," she warned. "And you're taking care of it--don't ask me to do that. I don't have time for that sh*t."

"I will, Momma," replied Mia.

Living with Mia was fun most of the time.  She put newspapers down in the corner for me to use as a potty, and I used them most of the time. Sometimes she hit me when I made a mistake, so I learned to dodge that rolled up newspaper. At night I slept in her bed and that was so nice. Mia sometimes forgot to change the papers for days, and it would start to really smell, until her momma got after her to clean it all up. 

As the weather got nicer she sometimes took me down the street to a vacant lot and let me play. Sometimes there would even be another dog there and that was so fun!  I learned not to tug too hard on the leash when I was walking, because Mia didn't like me to pull.  But most of the time she let me do what I wanted. And there was always Booger to play with--we were best buddies.

It felt like I was always hungry, though. If I was fast I could eat some of Booger's food before he finished it. Other times I had to wait until Mia and her mother left the apartment, then I could jump up on a chair and then the table to drink milk out of the cereal bowls they had left (for me, I assumed!) If I was lucky there was a crust of toast or a piece of a doughnut, too. I mostly got scraps after dinner.  Mmmm...Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonalds, Burger King...I ate some good food! There wasn't always enough, though, and sometimes I went to sleep dreaming about having all the french fries I could eat.

The only really bad times were when Rocco came over. He and Mia's momma would sit around and drink beer for hours, and sometimes smoke some stuff that made me want to cough. Those were the times that I learned to hide. Rocco was a big guy and always wore a black baseball cap. He hated me, calling me a "barking rat", and giving me a kick every time I got too close. "Get that f*cking rat away from me, Mia!" he would yell. "God, I hate little dogs. I gotta friend who could use him, though." Mia would pick me up and put me in her room then. "Stay away from Rocco, Baby, he'll give you to his friend who has those fighting dogs. They'll kill you." she would whisper to me. It made me shake just to think about it.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ringling Museum Day 2

Yesterday we had so much fun at the John and Mable Ringling Museum, that we decided to return to see the art museum, which is Florida's state museum of art.

The weather was again lovely and we passed The Dwarf Garden on the way to the Art Museum. It features statues of little people that ring a circular garden full of banyan trees and dark corners for the fey folk to hide.  We found the thrones of the king and queen, hidden amongst the shadows.
A short walk later we had arrived at the Art Museum, which features European and American Art and antiquities from the 16th to the 20th century. We were fortunate to arrive on the day that the Ming exhibit opened, and saw beautiful 15th century gold jewelry, paintings on paper, sculptures, clothing, and dishes which are being displayed in the US for the first time.

Another exhibit featured the works of Mark Messersmith, which feature three dimensional works with vibrant colors and interesting iconography.
Bob and I enjoyed the formal gardens that are surrounded by the museum.

The Ringling Museum is set on 62 acres of land, and has so much to offer visitors.  We will be back to see it again (but probably not this week!)

I finished my double-hole heddle pickup band yesterday, and am pleased with the way it came out.  What do you think?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL

One of the places that we have been told is a must-see around here is the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL. On Thursday we went to visit it, using our Norman Rockwell Museum pass with NARM reciprocity to get in (and saving a cool $50 in entrance fees--yay!)

This place is amazing. I took so many photographs that it was really difficult to narrow them down for you.  Here are the highlights.
The first building you walk to houses the most incredible diorama I have ever seen--the circus in all its glory.  The size of this thing is immense, and the man responsible for it has been adding to it since the 1950s. It takes you from the train station, past local businesses, to the big top and all of the other tents in a circus, the animals, and the performers, all recreated in tiny detail. There are supposedly even tiny tickets and dollar bills in cash registers.


My photos really don't do this justice, because one camera shot cannot contain even a fraction of this display. Something you really have to see for yourself.

In this building you can see a bandwagon (as in the expression "get on the bandwagon") and other actual circus cars.

 I showed off my equestrian skills by doing some bareback riding.
Bob wasn't at all afraid of this big guy!

The next building we visited featured a woodcarver's shop. This camel has been a work in progress for 6 years. The detail on this camel is amazing! The shop reproduces vintage woodcarvings that are featured on circus wagons and carousels.


The wagons were gorgeous!
This one made me want to eat animal crackers, for some reason.
 Here is the vehicle which was used to shoot the human cannonball.
The train car here was used by John and Mable Ringling on their honeymoon and to travel the country.  It is very luxurious and features separate state rooms for John and Mable, a kitchen and rooms for the staff, a dining room, and an observation room which was a large salon, used for entertaining. Clarestorey windows with stained glass bring in light to every room. Visitors walk along a deck outside the train to peer inside the rooms.
The museum features a huge poster collection.

Next we walked to John and Mabel Ringling's mansion. They only lived in in a few years, unfortunately.  It is over the top in opulence.
 The home sits on the Sarasota Bay, in a lovely location.
The main salon is lit by a massive skylight, which provides an abundance of natural light.
 It features a tap room....
 ...and the first residential elevator in Florida.
The tile of different types of stone outside on the veranda is beautiful and ornate.

We were not able to see everything, and may go back tomorrow to see the art museum. Stay tuned!