Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Blog of Death (or Florida 2010, Series 2)

Overtired this week, frustrated with the outcome of the previous post, and reading in my spare minutes snatches from another book about the generation who attended Oxford in the 1920s, I was going to confess on an extravagant scale the truth that the day a person starts a blog is the day he has conceded that he has given up on life and is henceforward counting down the hours until the grave is finally reading to receive him, but, while I do think this is to a certain extent true, I have had a couple of hours to think it over and have decided not to take such an extreme line today.

My frustrating experiences, especially in recent years, in trying to compete against others in mastering ideas and perceiving the reality of events and situations in the real world has convinced me that I will never be able to do so, and has caused me to retreat into trying to find a framework by which to live ever more in forms and patterns, of writing and language, of traditions and stories, of aesthetics, of logical systems that are adaptable to my individual level while still remaining inspiring as well as possessed of meaning...Enough for today. Baby steps. My meanings will reveal themselves blatantly enough in time.

This is a Zoo/Park Featuring Exotic Animals. I will spare you more pictures of these, though there are some nice pictures of tortoises, my son holding a baby alligator, and so on. They Have a Shrine at this Zoo. Inside those windows are plaster dioramas featuring scenes from the life of Christ. I have a weakness for that kind of display, though these dioramas were especially amateurish as well as in need of some kind of cleaning/restoration.

Boat Tour of Lake Myakka, Myakka River State Park. This is a very pretty and well-maintained park about 20 miles inland from Sarasota. I think this lake might be man-made, though I forget. Though it is quite big, it is only 6 feet deep at its greatest depth. The Myakka river drains into it. The evil imported tilapila have totally infested it and have choked off the native aquatic life. The recent cold spell (note the attire of the people on the boat) meant that the edges of the lake were clogged with dead tilapila. The day that we went the sky above the lake was darkened with the circling of vultures all around it.

Alligators Out in the Sun. I saw more alligators elsewhere but it wasn't convenient to stop and gawk at them.

A Three (Five?) Story Tower Gets You Above the Treetops. This structure is buffeted terribly by the wind, so I didn't care for it too much. I'm gussing by the shadows this view is facing south. Good illustration of Florida's flat terrain. The state's highest elevation, which is up in the panhandle near Pensacola and all that, is I believe 381 feet, which I think is the lowest high elevation of any state, even Delaware! (Research confirms that this is true. The high point in Delaware is 448 feet. Florida's is actually only 345 feet.)

Probably a Hopeless Cause, But Trying to Add Scientific Activities to Our Repertoire. So far I have been moderately successful in focusing the moon clearly for about a half-second or so. The most satisfying use I have gotten from the telescope so far is turning it on distant buildings such as churches, old houses and such and examining the details of their roofs and upper storeys. We'll have to get it out in Vermont this summer and try to work on the sky again.

We Say Goodbye to the Beach. It would have been a good day for kite flying.

It Doesn't Look that Bad, But it Must Have Been Cold. Usually there are people walking back and forth up and down this beach all day.

Dinner at Sonny's Bar-B-Q Pit. More chain fun. I sort of excuse myself because for years we didn't actually have all this stuff in New England (and they still don't in Vermont) so it was kind of like seeing the real America. Sonny's isn't the best food, but my three year for some reason has developed a great love for the idea of it, so we stopped there for him. The two times I've gone the waitresses have been the kind of sensible, healthy, unpretentious and good-looking All-American girls I like, so I guess I'll have to go back until my luck runs out.

This was in central Florida on the way back. According to conventional wisdom, while the coasts have been colonized by affluent east coasters and the panhandle in the north across to Jacksonville is still the redneck south, the center area, especially away from Orlando, has been settled by people from the midwest, which accounts for that area's being friendlier and less bombastic than the rest of the state. I don't know if that is true, though I am willing to believe it, but I do like the way the center still retains a little more of an old fashioned look, more orange groves, more train tracks, more one horse towns and farms and so on. There are some older sights there I mean to get around and see some year if I can ever plan my time properly. I wanted to visit the Bok Tower Gardens, which is a large preserve left by Edward Bok, Dutch immigrant, editor of the Ladies' Home Journal and author of the once-classic but now forgotten autobiography The Americanization of Edward Bok, to the state when he died in 1931. The site is not especially well known either--I only read about it in my 1962 encyclopedia--but it's still there, still kept up, and people who have been say (on the internet) that it's really a great place. So maybe next year I'll get over there.

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