Saturday, March 31, 2007


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Well, you didn't expect another downtown photo, did you? It's the week-end, for Pete's sake, and I'd like to enjoy some R&R (rest and relaxation) at the Hyatt Regency. Soak up in the jacuzzi, cool off in the pool, work on my tan and sip some umbrella drink...

I'd like to do all that - but I can't.

'Tis the season in Florida and my place is full of visitors from the North. So this week-end, I'll be cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring, while my guests will be soaking in the jacuzzi, cooling off in the can fill in the rest ;-)

Hope your week-end is more relaxing.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Uptown, downtown #3

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We are back in old Naples and it's approaching lunchtime. Since this is Friday, what do you say we indulge a bit, maybe some Italian?
Il Posto Cafe in the Plaza oozes that Mediterranean charm and the menu looks promising.

"Hailing from northern Italy, Il Posto specializes in cuisine from that region and lists among its more popular specialties a very flavorful veal rack piamontese that is prepared with porcini mushrooms, white truffles, white wine and a bit of veal juice. They also make excellent homemade pasta. The cavatelli is supreme and is served with extra-virgin olive oil, mushrooms and white wine sauce. Il Posto's desserts are shipped directly from Italy from a company called Fruta di Bosco, which makes beautiful and fine-tasting fruit tarts. Beer and wine is available, giving you a great excuse to sit and sip a little longer at your cute cafe table topped with fresh flowers." Naples City Guide

Anyone want to share a fruit tart with me?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Close encounters

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A couple of days ago, Nathalie entertained a hairy spider in her home office. Soon after, Dave was greeted by a scorpion at a friend's house. The next day Wellspring fought off a 2-foot (!) cockroach in her kitchen.

This morning I went out to get the paper and had my own encounter of the scary type - the black snake in my driveway. Before you inundate me with your comments on how beneficial and harmless black snakes are, let me just reiterate: I am half-asleep and bare footed - this is not the best time for a nature wake-up call!

But I can't complain, considering...My neighbor went out to her garage one morning, raised the garage door and was greeted by a 6-foot alligator in her driveway, smiling ear to ear (they have ears, don't they?). She quickly lowered the doors and waited for the gator to mosey on, which he did after about 10 minutes. When she told me the story I asked that if it happens again, could she take a photo for me, before fleeing. She looked at me as if I was a few French fries short of a Happy Meal...

Clearly, she's not one of us ;-)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Uptown, downtown #2

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Americans refer to Wednesday as "hump day" - that little bump in the middle of the week that you have to get over...I'm hoping this particular photo will help you do just that ;-)

This famous building, dating back to 1921, is one of the oldest in Naples (I can hear all you foreign visitors laughing out loud!). Since its inception, the landmark served as a movie theater, church, city hall, development firm, county library and an ice cream parlour. That certainly gives me pause: what kind of imagination is needed to walk into a church and decide "yes, this is the perfect place for an ice cream store"?

This week, for some inexplicable reason, the front courtyard is filled with water fountains and pool sculptures. Any of them catch your fancy?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 17

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If it's Tuesday - it must be the Quiz! I believe that this one will be a challenge, which makes me
tickled pink ;-). As you know by now, nothing makes me happier than stumping you (which happened once here).

Today's question: What the heck is that thing?

Update: It is a dead "air plant" . For more info see "comments", for a look at a live plant, please click here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Uptown, downtown #1

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Well, it's Monday. New work week begins...Seems like good timing to start my downtown Naples series, just to give you and the alligators a break ;-)

This is Third Street South in Old Naples, which abounds in rich landscaping, attractive courtyards and parks that blend Mediterranean, European and Caribbean influences.
The area is filled with art galleries, restaurants and exclusive shoppes.

Downtown attire: very casual. That's how we do "corporate" in the Tropics ;-)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The fan

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Strelitzia, a native of South Africa, is one of the most unusual and attractive members of the banana family. This popular South Florida plant bears a unique flower that resembles a brightly colored bird in flight, giving it the common name, Bird-of-Paradise. Two of the blue petals are joined together to form an arrow-like nectary. When the sunbirds sit to drink the nectar, the petals open to cover their feet in pollen. Pretty clever for a plant, don't you think?

"Came down the sky
To sit amidst the garden greens
Haiku by Meenakhsi Madhur

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Feline folly

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door mat at Tin City in Naples

How to Give a CAT a pill:

  1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
  2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
  3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.
  4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
  5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from yard.
  6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.
  7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
  8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.
  9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
  10. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with rubber band.
  11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw tee-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
  12. Call fire department to retrieve the friggin' cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil-wrap.
  13. Tie the little bastard's front paws to rear paws with twine and bind tightly to leg of dining room table, find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.
  14. Consume remainder of Scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.
  15. Arrange for Humane Society to collect mutant cat from hell and call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

How to Give a DOG a pill:

  1. Wrap it in bacon.

And that is why I am a dog person ;-)

Friday, March 23, 2007


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at the canoe park

Do you remember your first bike? When you first learned how to ride? When they finally let go of the seat and you flew solo? The utter terror...and total exhilaration?

It was my 6th birthday. My grandma took me to a bike store and let me pick the coolest, the shiniest, the fanciest looking bicycle they had (at least in my 6-year old opinion ;-)
My older brother taught me how to ride - it took less than half an hour - and I was flying up and down our hilly neighborhood. Do you remember that feeling of absolute power and freedom? I don't think I ever felt like that again...

"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Come along! #7

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This is the seventh and final installment in the week-long series, where you can join me on a daily walk through my community. Comfortable shoes - mandatory! Floppy sun hat - optional ;-)

Hurray! We've made it to the end of the line. Our 5-mile loop through the community terminates at Redfish Point in the Florida Mangroves.

Thanks to all who participated and as a reward, those of you who never whined or complained, can join me on a boat ride to the Gulf of Mexico, on to Florida Keys and maybe even to Cuba! Who's to stop us?

The rest of you - and you know who you are - just have to walk home ;-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Come along! #6

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This is the sixth installment in a week-long series, where you can join me on a daily walk through my community. Comfortable shoes - mandatory! Floppy sun hat - optional ;-)

Well, I can see that some of you are getting tired of all that walking...The signs are pretty clear: Kate whines, Nathalie is cranky, Chris & Deb are too hot, Pastor Rick wants to hitch a ride on a golf cart and Pat didn't even show up on Monday! What a sorry bunch you are...

So today I'll let you rest a bit on this bench at the edge of the boardwalk and just enjoy the view.
To the right is Spring Creek which we can navigate all the way to the Gulf of Mexico (via Estero Bay). On the left is the golf course.

OK, now that you've caught your second wind, we are ready for our final stretch tomorrow. Be there...or be square ;-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 16

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Yesterday, as we passed by Hurricane Golf Course, we all noticed this vehicle on the golf trail, didn't we ;-)

Today's question is: What is this peculiar cart doing on the golf course?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Come along! #5

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This is the fifth installment in a week-long series, where you can join me on a daily walk through my community. Comfortable shoes - mandatory! Floppy sun hat - optional ;-)

Well, you finally showed up! I've been waiting patiently, tapping my sneakered foot to the beat of Motown. All set? We are curving to the left, passing by the estate homes (this one's about $5M) and the golf course (watch out for errant balls!).

This is a good time to dispel some misconceptions about Southwest Florida. Look at that deep blue sky - do you know what is signifies? Yes, it is dry here today. As a matter of fact, our dry season is from October till May. Low humidity, no bugs, not many days above 85°F/29°C. Why do you think Florida is so popular during winter?

Summer...well, that's a whole different kettle of fish ;-)

Sunday, March 18, 2007


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Hope you don't mind this little detour from our walking series, but it was St. Paddy's Day yesterday and who does not love a parade? So after a short drive to downtown Naples, we joined the thousands of old and young for some Irish cheer and warm green beer ;-)

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Himself arrived with a bit of a scowl...

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...but Molly was all smiles despite walking miles...

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...and even Chris O'Columbus could hardly miss the party.

Hope you enjoy your Sunday break, but tomorrow bright and early we are hitting the trails again. See you then...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Come along! #4

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This is the fourth installment in a week-long series, where you can join me on a daily walk through my community. Comfortable shoes - mandatory! Floppy sun hat - optional ;-)

We are at the half-way mark - how are you holding up? Another sip of water, perhaps?

We are in luck, the golfers are finished for the day, so we can use their trail to walk around the lake. Although missing today, this is the usual spot for my favorite bird...and the alligator. Like I said, we must have the luck of the Irish* today ;-)

*Happy St. Patrick Day to all the Irish and those who feel Irish today!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Come along! #3

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This is the third installment in a week-long series, where you can join me on a daily walk through my community. Comfortable shoes - mandatory! Floppy sun hat - optional ;-)

We are passing now by my favorite lagoon. Let's slow down (don't stop!) and take a peek, just in case there are any gators, herons, golfers or other wildlife I can capture for you (on camera, that is).

This is also the area where I spotted a Florida Panther one evening last year! I never realized how fast I can run...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Come along! #2

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This is the second installment in a week-long series, where you can join me on a daily walk through my community. Comfortable shoes - mandatory! Floppy sun hat - optional ;-)

The boardwalk from yesterday's post winds through the spills onto this pathway. The lady in the photo is well known in the community for her unorthodox behavior - she walks at a very brisk pace...while reading a book! (see the book in her left hand)

Boy, if that was me, I would trip, fall into the pond and end up as alligator's lunch...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Come along! #1

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Cedar (not mahogany!) boardwalk at the canoe park.

This is the first installment in a week-long series, where you can join me on a daily walk through my community. Comfortable shoes - mandatory! Floppy sun hat - optional ;-)

Whenever life throws me a curve, I don't waste the opportunity to learn from it. I step back and ask myself "Am I on the right track?"
This theme song from the movie "Mahogany", sung by Diana Ross, gets to the point, by simply asking:

"Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to?
Do you know?
Do you get what you're hoping for?
When you look behind you there's no open door
What are you hoping for?
Do you know?..."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 15

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"What the heck is that?" you are asking yourself as the page loads. Well, that's exactly what I want you to tell me (People, what do you expect of me, I just had dental surgery!).

Today' s quiz question is: what does this picture show?

Update: The answer is - spent Bougainvillea petals floating on water.

Monday, March 12, 2007


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Guess what I stumbled upon, while beachcombing on Big Hickory Island? A Bald Eagle nest! Again, I must apologize for the lack of zoom on my antiquated Kodak digital, but you keep ignoring my pleas ;-)

He or she (one way to determine the sex of an eagle is to examine its beak - hello! do I look crazy to you?) let me creep up pretty close, but as you can see, was clearly concerned, so I did not overstay my welcome.

What I found fascinating reading up on our national bird is that:

1. They mate for life
2. They use the same nest year after year, ergo...
3. ...Over the years, some nests become enormous, as much as 9 feet in diameter, weighing two tons (2.75 meters and 1800 kg)
4. While on the nest with very young eaglets, parents move about with their talons balled into fists to avoid accidentally skewering their offspring.

Aw, how sweet is that?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Finding inspiration

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Seeing those disappearing footprints on the beach of Big Hickory Island reminded me of the famous poem that was always attributed to Anonymous. However, after a lenghtly legal battle, it was established recently that Mary Stevenson wrote it as a teenager in 1936.
There are many versions of it circulating around the world - which one do you know?

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson Footprints in the Sand

Saturday, March 10, 2007


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...and to finish up my hibiscus series, here's la pièce de résistance! It comes from the same garden as the white one but with such a showy combination of yellow, orange, lilac and burgundy, and so evocative of Georgia O'Keefe's flowers, that people decided (OK, I did) it belongs in a museum. See if you agree here.

Admission's free on week-ends ;-)

“Most people in the city rush around so, they have no
time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not."
Georgia O'Keefe

Update: Due to popular demand (?) I have created a poll. Please cast your vote, if you are so inclined ;-)

Should the lady on the right wear a thong?


Display Poll Results

Friday, March 9, 2007


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After yesterday's post, a little bird (OK, a big bird) told me that I can find a white hibiscus right in my neighborhood. So I dropped everything (the things I do for you...) and rushed right over. And voilà! Isn't it stunning? The lizard's included at no extra charge ;-)

"People from a planet without flowers would think we
must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."

Iris Murdoch

Update: In your comments, some of you questioned the authenticity of the lizard. Let me assure you - the lizard is real (not photo edited-in, not a trained pet (!), not a figment of your imagination). As soon as I whipped out my camera, he scampered out from under the petal and posed for me, smiling ;-)

Thursday, March 8, 2007


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This is hibiscus, currently blooming around my house in four lovely hues of yellow, peach, pinkish purple and red. You can say a whirlwind of color...

The Chinese hibiscus, a native of China, was introduced to Florida by way of the South Pacific and Hawaii. Most hibiscus varieties have one-day flowers; the blossoms open early in the morning and wilt late that afternoon, however, the flowering season is nearly all year in southern Florida!

"I want real flowers, perennials which not only grow and
change and die, but also rise again and astonish me. A garden shouldn't just
bloom and look pretty; it should develop like the rest of life. Otherwise it,
and we, live only to be spaded under."
Emma L. Roth-Schwartz

Apparently, the only color I am missing is white. Has anybody ever seen a white hibiscus flower?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


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I know how queasy you get by some of my alligator posts, so I intend to exploit it fully ;-)

Here we have another pair of Moorhens frolicking only a few feet away from the gator. This handsome fellow looks to be about 6 feet long (the largest alligator ever recorded in Florida was 17 feet 5 inches long or 5.3 meters) and seems totally disinterested. All tuckered out? Full tummy?

Or maybe, with Spring in the air he's more interested in love than war...

Update: Some of your comments made me think - human deaths caused by alligators have increased in recent years (11 people were killed by alligators from 2001 to 2006).
If you want me to continue bringing you these extreme (!) photos, may I suggest that you take up a collection to buy me a camera with a zoom lens, so I don't have to jeopardize my life each day for the cause ;-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 14

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Calling all naturalists and would-be botanists (Mimmu, you are excused;-). This photo was just taken at my neighbor Bob's garden. Seems like a straightforward question today:

What is this? And for an extra bonus: why is it crying?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Hooked on fishing?

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Let's see... So far, we've discussed several attractions Naples has to offer: culture, art, shopping, dining, beach and golf. Another reason to visit us here is the fishing.

Yes, the temperate waters of the Gulf of Mexico provide a good year-round environment for fishing, whether your preferred technique is fly, spin, plug or bait. You can explore on your own (there are plenty of marinas and tackle shops for boat rentals), you can fish without a boat (on our many rivers and at the Naples Pier), you can fish the canals (especially when the tidal currents are strong) and even the beaches (most productive at dawn and at dusk).

But should you decide to charter a boat for a 3-hour fishing trip, like the one pictured above, make sure there's no Gilligan on board ;-)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

It's not easy being green...

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This special Sunday post is for all you kids, big and small. Look at this green lizard (inspecting the wasp nest in the eaves of the roof) and put yourself in his position: would you want to be green?

If you feel compassionate, go ahead and sing along with Kermit, but I must warn you - if you do, you'll be humming this tune all day long ;-)

"It's not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold...
or something much more colorful like that.

It's not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ord'nary things.
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out
like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky.

But green's the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain,
or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be."

From "The Sesame Street Book and Record"

Saturday, March 3, 2007


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Psst...Please don't mention it to Chris & Deb but it is so darn hot in Naples lately (close to 90°F/32°C), we need to use this misting fan to cool off at the pool. I know, poor me...And no, it is not my fan, it belongs to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, previously featured here.

Have a brings you comfort weekend!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Washing day

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The striking anhinga, black darter, snakebird, water turkey - whichever name you call this bird in your part of the world - is a frequent star on this blog. He might not be the most graceful looking bird but his personality makes up for it ;-). Check out my previous posts here, there and yonder.

The anhinga is a water bird, a close cousin of a cormorant. It does not have oil glands for waterproofing its feathers like most water birds. So after a quick dive underwater to get a fishy snack, it must spread its wings to dry in the sun.

"The cormorants
hang their feathers
out to dry -
black velvet rags
showing threadbare
in the wind.
Like old women
living in the past,
they tend their
tattered finery
with talon fingers
and black
remembering eyes."
Rita Summers Washing Day

Thursday, March 1, 2007

March 1st theme day: Men at work

Do you recognize this logo? Do you know its mission? Habitat for Humanity is working to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the face of the earth by constructing and building adequate and basic housing. Their actions are for the ultimate purpose of putting shelter on the hearts and minds of people in such a powerful way that poverty housing and homelessness become socially, politically, and morally unacceptable in our nations and world.

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Man and woman at work - Matt and Jill.
I am a proud volunteer in the HH project in my town. In a partnership with generous donors, and deserving homeowner families, volunteers like me build simple, decent homes. Our goal is to eliminate poverty housing from Lee County.
This is the toughest job I ever loved...

65 Daily Photo sites are participating in the 1st March theme, "Men at work", please use the links below to visit them.

1 (Porto (Portugal) ) -2 (Greenville SC (USA) ) -3 (Hyde (UK) ) -4 (Tenerife (Spain) ) -5 (Albuquerque, NM (USA) ) -6 (Stayton, OR (USA) ) -7 (Rotterdam (NL) ) -8 (Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) ) -9 (London (England) ) -10 (Richmond, VA (USA) ) -11 (Sydney -Sally (Australia) ) -12 (Newcastle upon Tyne (England) ) -13 (Constanta (Romania) ) -14 (Evry (France) ) -15 (Lubbock, TX (USA) ) -16 (Szentes (Hungary) ) -17 (Villigen (Switzerland) ) -18 (Mumbai (India) ) -19 (Tel Aviv (Israel) ) -20 (Twin Cities, MN [USA] ) -21 (Jakarta (Indonesia) ) -22 (Houston -Candice & Megan, TX (USA) ) -23 (Budapest (Hungary) ) -24 (Singapore - Zannnie (Singapore) ) -25 (Dubai (UAE) ) -26 (Singapore -Keropokman (Singapore) ) -27 (Madrid -Dsole (Spain) ) -28 (Mazatlan -Kate (Mexico) ) -29 (Nelson (New Zealand) ) -30 (Vantaa (Finland) ) -31 (Kyoto (Japan) ) -32 (Tokyo (Japan) ) -33 (Joplin, MO (USA) ) -34 (Auckland (New Zealand) ) -35 (Sequim, WA (USA) ) -36 (Menton (France) ) -37 (Minneapolis, MN (USA) ) -38 (Istanbul (Turkey) ) -39 (Sydney -Nathalie (Australia) ) -40 (Sharon, CT (USA) ) -41 (Seattle, WA (USA) ) -42 (Anderson, SC (USA) ) -43 (Monte Carlo, (Monaco) ) -44 (Milano, (Italy) ) -45 (Grenoble (France) ) -46 (Wailea, HI (USA) ) -47 (Guelph, ON (Canada) ) -48 (Melbourne - John (Australia) ) -49 (New York City (USA) [Ming_the_Merciless] ) -50 (Cebu (Philippines) ) -51 (Bandung (Indonesia) ) -52 (Antigua Guatemala (Central America) ) -53 (Hamburg (Germany) ) -54 (London -Jonemo (UK) ) -55 (Hong Kong ) -56 (Stavanger (Norway) ) -57 (Paris (France) ) -58 (Naples, Florida (USA) ) -59 (Saarbrücken (Germany) ) -60 (Shanghai (China) ) -61 (Quito (Ecuador) ) -62 (Zurich (Switzerland) ) -63 (Joensuu ( Finland ) ) -64 (Aliso Viejo, CA (USA) ) -65 (Cheltenham (England))