Tag Archives: Sarasota County Florida

Author Robert N. Macomber to appear at Bookstore1 Sarasota

Author Robert N. MacomberAuthor Robert N. Macomber, author of the Honor series, will be appearing  at Bookstore1 Sarasota on May 23rd at 6pm. He will be discussing “Freemasons and their 30-year struggle to gain Cuban independence in 1898, and the author’s experiences with their fraternity inside modern Cuba today.”

For more details: http://www.bookstore1sarasota.com/Events.html

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Guest Post: Raising Readers

Like a lot of modern moms, I began reading to Son No. 1 in utero. I wanted to give him every possible advantage on his life’s journey—a head start of sorts—so I read little board books aloud to him as he floated in his temporary home of embryonic goo and poked his elbows into my ribs. I imagined his brain absorbing those words and ideas, his heart calmed by the steady measure of my voice.

When Son No. 1 was eighteen months old, he would refuse to lie down for a nap until I’d read one of his little books. By that time, I was awaiting the arrival of Son No. 2 and was absolutely exhausted more often than not. Sometimes I’d turn two pages instead of one or pretend the story was finished when it wasn’t, and he’d usually catch me and complain vociferously. All that mattered was the book.

While his second-place status meant he rarely had my full attention, Son No. 2 did get to hear me read to Son No. 1 every single day from his crib or from his bouncy seat perched on the kitchen table or from his blanket on the living room floor next to the dog. And he tagged along on wobbly legs as we visited the library week after week, listening to stories read aloud by the librarians and then picking out our own jewels to take home.

Does having that all-important head start make kids joyful, enthusiastic readers, lovers of books great and small? You bet it does, as least in our case! Son No. 1 still loves to read. He loves to read so much, in fact, that he’ll continue to read when he should be getting ready for school or making his way to the dinner table or going to bed. I sometimes have to surreptitiously insert a bookmark and close a book with his nose still in it to make him stop reading.

I’m at home wherever there are books, and I’m the type of mom who thinks hanging out at the library on a Saturday afternoon is fun. And while my boys may hem and haw at the idea of having to set foot inside an actual library during summer vacation, they immediately zoom off in different directions as soon as the door opens before them, Son No. 1 to find the latest Percy Jackson or Heroes of Olympus installment, Son No. 2 to the comics section, searching in vain for a Calvin and Hobbes collection he hasn’t yet devoured.

So what do you do if your son or daughter isn’t a born reader? Every kid has an interest, and every interest, no matter how obscure, has had a book or magazine devoted to it. Is your son begging for a hermit crab, guinea pig, or gerbil? Say OK but only if he first reads up on how to care for said pet. Does your daughter want to learn to water-ski in Sarasota Bay? There’s a magazine for that called—you guessed it—Water Ski.

A Land Remembered Student EditionAnd—oh, yeah—read with and to your kids, no matter how old they are. Last year, Son No. 2’s teacher read the student version of Patrick Smith’s A Land Remembered aloud to the class. Every student loved it. Even those kids who weren’t avid readers enjoyed listening to a simply worded, action-packed historical novel read slowly and purposefully by a teacher who understood the power of a well-placed pause. They could identify with Zech MacIvey, a boy their own age, even though Zech’s story takes place 150-plus years before their own. And they could identify with their patient teacher, who obviously loved the book as much as they did.

Kris Rowland is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader whose clients include Pineapple Press.

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Warm Mineral Springs, Florida

A Florida spring with healing properties

That’s Warm Mineral Springs’ claim to fame, anyway. I’m not sure if that is true, but going there is a lovely way to spend the day. I’ve been there many a time and I do feel refreshed. But, keep in mind that you leave there feeling refreshed in a different way than most springs in Florida.

Warm Mineral Springs is, well, warm! It’s 87 degrees year-round. That’s a really nice temperature for water that you soak in. The other difference is that the water has the 3rd highest mineral content in the world. Because of this, it is a destination for many Europeans and visitors from across the world. That’s one of the fun parts of the springs–hearing many languages spoken around you.

Floating and swimming around the spring is a pretty neat experience. It might not be for the faint of heart–there is a sulfur smell and there is floating algae–but it’s usually enjoyed by all. It’s a great way to relax and meet new people. You can truly say this is not a theme park experience and your northern visitors will have something to write home about.

Now, I haven’t been there since the new owners took it over. So, I truly can’t speak for the atmosphere now. But the many visits I made in the past were highlighted by the food. A quick look at the menu shows me the food is a little different, but I see the pierogies on there. I hope they are the same! Try them! The rest of the menu looks updated and more spa-like. I bet they worked hard to create a menu that went with the healing properties-it looks healthy. Let me know how it is.

It’s also worth the time to read about the history surrounding Warm Mineral Springs. Ponce de Leon thought it was the Fountain of Youth and archaeologists have found cool stuff there. Some of the history is detailed at the springs and some also on their website. Don’t miss reading up on this unique aspect of the springs.

Warm Mineral Springs is a unique Florida experience. Check out their website to learn about their hours and prices. I’d love to hear about your experience, don’t forget to share by posting them on Twitter and doing an @pineapplepress. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Wildlife Rescuers—Responding to Human Impacts

A guest blog by Bonnie Nickel, author of Those Mischievous Monkeys.

There are wildlife rescue groups throughout the state of Florida and beyond, including our own Wildlife Center of Venice, started in 2004. Ours, like many, operates solely on donations from the community, receives no government funding, and is staffed almost entirely by dedicated volunteers.

The facility sits just outside of town and on my research trip, all was quiet with the exception of the rustling wings of a flock of opportunistic vultures looking for a free handout. By mid-day, breakfast had been served and the sick had been tended to. When I arrived, one of the founders and licensed rehabilitators, Linda, was feeding the newest drop-off, a young southern flying squirrel, mauled by a domestic cat.

Young squirrels, rabbits, and birds are frequent patients of the center. When asked, center volunteers said that keeping domestic cats indoors would prevent many injuries they treat. Birds in particular are well-represented at the center. A variety of injuries, from golf ball strikes and fishing line entanglements, to a direct and deliberate strike by a kayak paddle (no kidding), land birds at the center. Over half the birds recover and can be released to the wild. The scores of orphaned squirrels, raccoons, and other mammals have a higher release rate and are often released in the groups in which they have been raised. Occasionally, a rehabilitated but unreleasable bird or animal will be sent to another facility to provide companionship for another unreleasable critter of the same species.

On the day I visited, the center housed herons, anhingas, pelicans (including the unreleasable blind pelican hit by a paddle), eagles, a hawk, a northern gannet, a frigate bird, an owl or two, a purple gallinule, a sandhill crane, 30+ raccoons, an equal number of squirrels, and a tortoise. Since the objective is to return wildlife to its habitat, encounters with humans are minimized and the center is only open to those dropping off injured wildlife.

After years of work, the infrastructure of the center is really taking shape. Donated metal shelters for raccoons replace older wire and wooden enclosures. Eagle scouts have constructed several individual structures for squirrels and large birds. Plans are being hatched for a new hospital structure and a 100-foot flyway for rehabilitating larger bird species. The latter project is next on the to-do list and will be accomplished with help from the Sarasota Bay Parrot Head Club—they are hosting a Casino Night fundraiser on January 20, 2012 with donations going to the Center.

Any wildlife center is, by necessity, a community effort. Besides frequent fundraisers, and dozens of volunteers, our center relies on professionals in the community for veterinary care, and local businesses for food and services. The center participates in a program with the local community college allowing students to earn course credit while volunteering at the center.  This is an excellent opportunity to develop the next generation of wildlife rescuers and enthusiasts.

The center counts 20 volunteers among it wildlife rescuers—those that actually trap or capture injured wildlife. Some of the most effective rescuers are former hunters. They have the skills required to trap an injured bird or animal and a mindset now focused on conservation. The thrill of the chase still exists but the stakes are higher. For the bird with the fishing line wrapped around its beak, or the fledgling eagle that has lost its parents, the rescue can be a matter of life or death. And the rescuers are persistent. One rescuer responded over 15 times before conditions were just right to trap an injured bird. The great blue heron required a foot amputation because of ever-tightening fishing line around its leg. So far, it is responding well and will likely be released.

One of the center’s few paid employees (funds donated by a local foundation) fields 30-60 calls per day. Not all are rescue requests. Some callers seek information about wildlife in their yard giving the center an opportunity to educate residents about local fauna. The staff and volunteers view community education as one of their critical missions. A little curiosity about our natural surroundings, along with the knowledge imparted by wildlife enthusiasts, can go a long way toward adjusting our actions in ways that will prevent many of the injuries seen at the center. Small actions like properly disposing of fishing line, keeping domestic cats indoors, and refraining from feeding wildlife are simple and effective. Oh yeah, and don’t hit birds with your paddle.

At the center, there are always animals to feed, laundry and dishes to be washed, buildings to maintain, wildlife to capture and transport, events to plan, presentations to give, articles to write, the list goes on. No skill goes unused. Hands-on help, donations of supplies, monetary donations, or attendance at fundraisers like the Casino Night are all helpful. Check the website of the center nearest you to see how you can help.

This is critical work, but in the end, are we just tinkering around the margins by rescuing individual birds and mammals? Maybe, but until there’s a sea change in how we treat nature, wildlife centers help maintain endangered, threatened, and keystone species that may otherwise disappear from the planet. The individuals who engage in this noble work deserve our deepest thanks and whatever support we can afford.

Good news on the global conservation front has been scant lately. I ask myself, is it worth itemizing the good news when it’s vastly outnumbered by the bad? I think so. It’s that little thing called hope—focusing on the good bits while we work on ways to negate the bad. Fortunately there’s been some good news around the world lately about reassessing human priorities. Success in this area may translate into good news for the natural world. In the meantime, here are some glimmers of hope:

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Guest Post: In Search of Good News by Bonnie Nickel

Bad news is easy to find. Whether it’s the economy, the environment, politics, or general societal gloom and doom, you don’t need to search far—it’s right there, in your face.

If you look hard enough though, it is possible to find good news.  It may not top the news stories, and you may need to turn over a few more rocks, but it’s out there. So that’s the challenge I’ve set for myself (and you, if you’re willing)—to find good news in bad times. And since I spend some of my time working on animal conservation issues I’m going to start there.

Tuesdays at dawn you’ll find me on the beach in search of sea turtle tracks, big and small. Early in the season it’s all about tracking the mama turtles to find the nests. Later in the summer we’re thrilled by the sight of tiny hatchling tracks winding their way to the water’s edge. I volunteer with the Coastal Wildlife Club (more about them in a later post) and the good news is that nesting numbers are up this year! Well, yes, there’s a caveat. They’re higher than last year, but lower than 10-15 years ago. But it’s still good news.

My small contribution pales in comparison to the work of others. Some turtle patrollers are out there 2, 4, even 7 days a week! That is good news.

There was good news for one sea turtle in another part of Florida last week. Andre the green sea turtle was given a second chance at life in the wild. You can hear the story here.

In this part of Florida we also have a fabulous wildlife rehabilitation center. The volunteers are amazing in their dedication and tireless in their work. We also have a hard-working group protecting shorebirds on our local beaches.  I’ll share more about both groups in a future blog.

And beyond Florida the good news just keeps coming…a Mexican bird park is re-establishing endangered species; Happy Feet, the wayward emperor penguin that washed up on the shores of New Zealand has 120,000 internet followers; researchers have a new tool to help document animals in their natural habitat (more details of this photo study can be found here);  and finally, new species of monkeys are being discovered—from titis in the Amazon, to snub-nosed monkeys in Myanmar.

There are people working tirelessly to protect and conserve species all across the globe. Yes it’s true that we’re the reason these animals struggle to survive. Whether it’s habitat destruction, air and water pollution, or repercussions from a warming planet, we are the problem. The bad news sneaks in anyway but I see it as another reason for each of us to participate in the solutions.

I’ll be spotlighting some of our local (and not so local) conservation groups in future blogs. In the meantime, take a look around your town. There are definitely people hard at work there too. We’d love more good news, so tell us what’s happening in your area. Maybe you’ll pique someone’s interest and we’ll create another champion for wildlife. It’s worth a try, don’t you think?

Bonnie is the author of Those Mischievous Monkeys (coming January 2011). She teaches people about conservation and sustainability—how to use less water, electricity, fuel, and other stuff—so that humans, animals (including monkeys!), trees, and plants can all share the planet and pass it along to the next generation. Originally from Canada, Bonnie now lives in Florida with her husband Jim and their two mischievous dogs, Cooper and Joie.

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The Beach on Anna Maria Island, Florida

I’ve been to a lot of local beaches, but Anna Maria Island‘s is one I hadn’t visited much until I met my husband. He says that his family went there a lot when he was young. It’s nice because it has a playground and bathrooms nearby. The water is really close to the parking, which is great when you are toting a lot of stuff. We went there this weekend and last, at two different spots along the beach.

The weekend before last we went to a spot that is to the right of the City Pier. Our timing was perfect, because the tide was really low and we could go out pretty far in the water—which is perfect for the kids. The water was really calm and warm and there was hardly anyone on the beach. We found lots of neat shells in the water too. This past weekend we went to the spot that is to the left of the Pier, between Rod & Reel and City Pier. This is the more populated side of the beach and it was pretty crowded. The water is a little deeper, but that’s great for the adults in the group. You can see the Sunshine State Skyway from both places, but this second spot gives a view of it and Egmont Key and Fort DeSoto. It’s pretty neat to see all these places in one spot. You can even see the glint of the light on the Egmont Key lighthouse as it slowly turns.  I wanted to take some pictures of this lovely spot but was afraid of losing the camera in the water.

The Rod & Reel has some great food, according to author Bruce Hunt (@BruceHuntImages). He’s taken some photos of the area and has some nice history and related places to visit in the area in his book, Visiting Small-Town Florida Third Edition. Next time I visit I need to go into some of the neat shops that you find along the way to the beach. I think it would be a great place to vacation as I saw many people on rented bikes and scooters.

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Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, Florida

This past weekend I visited Myakka River State Park. Myakka has this rambling scenic drive that is really nice, especially on days with low park attendance. It was perfect for this weekend since it was so hot! This visit didn’t yield a lot of animal sightings along the drive, but we did see some turkeys. There were groups of them on both sides of the road.

We tried the Canopy Walk which is a really popular part of the park, but didn’t make it all the way to the bridge and tower part because I mistakenly left the mosquito repellant behind. If I had been prepared, it would have been the best part of the visit. This is a terrific part of the park for kids because they all love the bridge which sways when people walk on it. The towers seem like they stretch high up into the air forever, and it’s hard to make it all the way to the top sometimes.

I did take a stroll along the Bird Walk though. In the right season, many interesting species of birds nest and congregate there. It’s really popular with birdwatchers, artists, and photographers. We did see a duck and some run of the mill birds, but nothing too spectacular this time. I would like to go back when it’s full of birds so the kids can get the full effect. The coolest thing we saw the whole trip was at the boardwalk though. A baby alligator! It was pretty dry out there, but we saw him slithering along and that was super neat.

Overall, Myakka State Park has been one of the best state parks I’ve visited. We publish a book by the park’s naturalist, Paula Benshoff. She’s a wealth of information and you’ll never meet someone who loves her job and its location so much. Here’s a link to that book, http://new.pineapplepress.com/myakka.html

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Conceptual editing for fiction, by June Cussen


Conceptual editing for fiction

There’s much to think about here. You can certainly make the artistic case that for fiction the editor must give a much freer hand to the writer. We are, after all, speaking about Literature here when we speak of novels. (Say: LIT-ra-chuh.) The writer is creator here, the God role. Who dares edit? We’ll keep that issue in editing fiction in mind as we go, letting it temper big decisions, being humbly aware that the editor did not have to face that blank page.

As always, I start with the reader. And these hard days you have to think of the reader as buyer. Who will buy this book? We covered that in earlier acquisition ruminations, but that too must be kept in mind by the editor as juggler. Three balls in the air: writer (Father), reader (Son), editor (humble ghost). So, as the editor considers the overall story of this piece of fiction, she must consider what reader it is aimed at (age, sex) as well as what genre it might be placed in. If it’s a literary novel, the writer may be more likely to prevail, if a genre novel like a Western or a romance or a mystery, the reader usually reigns. Of course there will always be the unclassifiable, and here the editor must step carefully, first considering that most authors feel that their work is beyond categorization. But I tell them, yeah, but librarians will do it anyway. Be prepared.

Keeping the reader in mind will help the editor make sure of consistency. This becomes more of an issue in copyediting where we have to remember to keep a character’s eyes blue all the way through the book if they start out that way. But even in conceptual editing, consistency rears its hobgoblin head. The tone cannot jump from deep to whimsical, serious to silly—unless of course that is part of the author’s design and it works within the context of the whole.

Story: that’s what a novel tells. Aristotle had it right with insisting on a beginning, a middle, and an end, with rising action, a climax, and falling action. The editor needs to make sure that the tension is created, holds, and is released. Beginnings are always hard. The writer has to establish the characters, the time, the place, the feel, and get us hooked into what’s going on without boring us before we get to the real action. Some writing guidelines tell the author to do that by first having a walloping action scene before anything else. Well, maybe. Sometimes that works. But I’ve read way too many manuscripts that start out with something either preposterous or truly awful in the attempt to hook us in. I’m usually just put off and don’t even want to read the rest.

The conceptual editor will have to make sure the whole story gets told, that bits don’t dangle at the end (unless this is a series and you want to hook readers for more). This is particularly true for mysteries. We have to find out whodunit, and it has to be consistent with all the details all the way through.

Character: They are people and must feel, think, and behave like real ones. Real ones aren’t always consistent, but in a story they need to be consistent enough to make the action work. The editor will note if a character suddenly does something out of character just to make the plot work. There’s always that tension between character and action. The editor will see that one does not exist merely to serve the other.

Editing fiction is a pleasure—the icing on the editorial cake—not that editing botanical keys is not tons of fun (wherein you spend days checking Latin names and learn the meaning of words like dentate and scandent). And working with fiction authors is usually a pleasure too, unless they take the God role too seriously.

Here’s my animal photo today. It’s turtle hatching season around here on the Gulf coast of Florida. This little loggerhead is heading toward the water. If you live near the beach, be sure your outside lights are off at night or little guys like this one will head the wrong way thinking your light is moonlight on the water.

Leatherback turtle

June Cussen

— June Cussen, Pineapple Press

@pineapplejune

www.pineapplepress.com

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Ca’ d’Zan Mansion at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

This is the last post in a series on the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

Did you ever see Great Expectations with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke? Then you’ve seen the Ca’ d’Zan mansion at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The movie portrayed it in quite a state of disrepair, but the real thing is gorgeous! It simply must be on your itinerary list if you come to Sarasota, Florida.

The Ca’ d’Zan represents Venetian Gothic architecture and sits right on Sarasota Bay. It’s an impressive sight with its beautiful orange hue and gorgeous colored windows. There are 56 rooms (41 rooms and 15 bathrooms), all with lovely furnishings and artwork. The construction on the “House of John” began in 1925 and the home was modeled after many sketches and photos that Mable Ringling had saved over the years. In 2002 it was carefully restored to its original splendor. There are tours at various times of the day, but you can always step onto the back terrace to catch a glimpse (unless there is a private party). The view of the bay is also wonderful from the home and they’ve spiffed up the area surrounding the house so you can sit on a bench or take a stroll near the bay.

Leading up to the mansion is the fragrant rose garden, always filled with lovely blooms. (At one time they held the Medieval Fair on the grounds of Ringling Museum, and I always fondly remember that the rose garden was a meeting spot during field trips.)  None of the original plants from 1913 survive, but there have been many wonderful varieties planted in their place. There are beautiful reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and purples bursting all over it! It’s definitely a fun trip to walk in the rows and read the funny names of some of the roses.

I note that the website mentions the Secret Garden. I’ve never noticed that specifically, yet another thing to take a look at in another trip. I hope our series on the museum entices you to visit soon.

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Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

This is the second post in a 3-part series about the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. 

My first post on the Ringling Museum was about the spectacular Beyond Bling show. But the museum has tons more to offer! I think it must be fairly unique in that it has a well-stocked traditional art museum, a circus museum, gardens, and a historic home on the same property. I’ll cover the art and circus museum in this post, followed by a post about the home and gardens next week.

John Ringling, of course, was an owner of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. The winter quarters for the circus was at one time in the Sarasota, Florida area and Mr. Ringling and his wife eventually made it their home. He had some fabulous art pieces, so he wanted his own museum to showcase them. After his death,  he bequeathed the art museum he had built to the state of Florida. Thus, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art was born. For more information about this, visit http://www.ringling.org/ArtMuseum.aspx

Today, the Ringling Museum houses wonderful paintings by Rubens, van Dyck,  El Greco, and other artists. In addition, there are sculptures and other priceless items such as furniture and vases on display. The Museum also features traveling exhibitions that span many time periods and subjects.

The Circus Museum was created in 1948 and touts itself as the first museum of its type in the United States. On display you’ll find costumes, posters, tools, wagons, memorabilia, and more. I always enjoy the large display of circus posters. It’s fun to see how they changed over the years. The exhibits also pay respect to many of the important clowns and performers, like Emmett Kelly, and there is a planned expansion in Fall 2011 that will showcase them even more. One of the other popular parts of the Circus Museum is the The Howard Bros. Circus Model. This is lots of fun–very musical and magical.

Something I don’t recall seeing is the private Ringling railroad car on display. Sounds like I need to plan a visit this fall when the expansion opens to see all the new sites!

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