Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Key West... Where a chicken can cross the road and his motivation will not be questioned!" ~ Cheryl Casale Huftalen

Last week, Bruce and I made a few day trip to Key West. We had never been to the Keys before, and this was a true treat. I admit that I had the wrong idea of what Key West was like. I was envisioning a sleepy, Caribbean type of town. Wrong! Key West reminded me of New Orleans - loud and very walkable, and Provincetown - funky and very walkable. Not a bad combination, but it took me by surprise. I am going to break our trip up into two blog posts, with part II coming next Wednesday.

One of the first things that we did, once we settled into our B and B, was to take a trolly car tour around the town. This was well worth it. We then visited the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. This had been recommended by a friend and it was amazing! Bruce and I agreed that it almost felt like we were in a Disney World attraction, but everything was real.

"Walk Among Hundreds of Living Butterflies and Colorful Birds! Take a stroll through a tropical paradise... walk through an exotic and inviting environment filled with hundreds of the most beautiful winged creatures in nature -- butterflies.

During your breathtaking journey you will experience an impressive collection of flowering plants, cascading waterfalls and trees that set the stage for the “flowers of the sky.” Witness some 50 to 60 different species from around the world, as well as varieties of colorful birds, all under a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed habitat.

Our butterflies are not collected from the wild. They come from butterfly farming operations. The captive breeding of butterflies is well suited to tropical regions and can be an environmentally beneficial endeavor through the release of excess production into the wild and the culture of native shrubs, flowers and trees as host and nectar plants. You will have a unique opportunity to observe butterflies and birds in a tropical setting. The diversity of size, shape, color, patterns and behavior make these delicate winged creatures a delight to see."

There are two resident flamingoes. 

A "Turaco"

One thing that we found out very quickly is that chickens and roosters are EVERYWHERE! We heard "cockadoodle-doing" all day and night!

Even under barstools.

On our second day we went to the Hemingway House.

"The Hemingway home was built in 1851 in the Spanish Colonial style, and was constructed of native rock hewn from the grounds. The home was in great disrepair when it the Hemingways took ownership, but both Ernest and Pauline could see beyond the rubble and ruin, and appreciated the grand architecture and stateliness of the home. The massive restoration and remodeling they undertook in the early 1930’s turned the home into the National Historical Landmark that thousands of tourists visit and enjoy today." 

"The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 40-50 polydactyl (six-toed) cats. Cats normally have five front toes and four back toes. About half of the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but they all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, which means that the ones that have 4 and 5 toes can still mother or father six-toed kittens. Most cats have extra toes on their front feet and sometimes on their back feet as well. Sometimes it looks as if they are wearing mittens because they appear to have a thumb on their paw.

Ernest Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. Key West is a small island and it is possible that many of the cats on the island are related. The polydactyl cats are not a particular breed. The trait can appear in any breed, Calicos, Tabbies, Tortoise Shell. White, Black, etc. They vary in shapes, sizes, colors and personalities."

Some of Key West's vibrant foliage.

 Next week - I never knew there were so many shades of blue!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Sometimes, the most beautiful thing to do with a guitar is look at it." ~ Tom York

I have been somewhat negligent in sharing the most recent episodes of Raw Craft. Since Bruce and I are in Key West for a couple days, this seems like a good time!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

"Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it." ~ Rumi

Mom is safely back in Central New York, and as promised, I'm bringing you some photos of one of the last excursions we did while she was visiting us here in Florida. 

The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens are located about 45 minutes south of us.  We had a perfect day to visit.

The History:

"Visitors are surprised to discover a century-old connection between Japan and South Florida. It is here that a group of young Japanese farmers created a community intended to revolutionize agriculture in Florida.
In 1904, Jo Sakai, a recent graduate of New York University, returned to his homeland of Miyazu, Japan, to organize a group of pioneering farmers and lead them to what is now northern Boca Raton. With the help of the Model Land Company, a subsidiary of Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railroad, they formed a farming colony they named Yamato, an ancient name for Japan.
Ultimately, the results of their crop experimentation were disappointing and the Yamato Colony fell far short of its goals. By the 1920s the community, which had never grown beyond 30 to 35 individuals, finally surrendered its dream. One by one, the families left for other parts of the United States or returned to Japan."
The Gardens:
"The 16 acres that surround Morikami’s two museum buildings include expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, our world-class bonsai collection and lakes teeming with koi and other wildlife. The wider 200-acre park features nature trails, pine forests and picnic areas.
In 2001, Morikami completed a major garden expansion and renovation. The new gardens reflect major periods of Japanese garden design, from the eighth to the 20th century, and serve as an outdoor extension of the museum. According to the garden designer, Hoichi Kurisu, each garden is intended to express the character and ideas of a unique counterpart in Japan without attempting to duplicate those gardens, and seamlessly flow together as one garden.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, with its unique gardens and collections, is one of Palm Beach County’s most treasured cultural attractions. Located in a tranquil natural setting, Morikami invites visitors to explore its many facets and discover Florida’s heritage and its connection with Japan."

Bamboo Forest

Bonsai Trees

Blue Heron at the Koi Pond


Japanese Classroom

This Cattle Egret (I'm pretty sure that it is a Cattle Egret, despite his brown feathered head) followed Mom like he thought she was his mother.

He would stop whenever she did, and start following again as soon as she began to move! 

Finally distracted by a gecko, he stayed behind. 

We concluded out visit with a lovely lunch, and were able to view a swimming alligator from our table.
It was great to have Mom here. I imagine that we could do another trip to the Morikami Gardens again next year!