Sunday, April 29, 2007

Secret garden

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When I was growing up in northern climates (read: cold!), I dreamt of one day living in a warm paradise, full of sunlight, azure skies and balmy waters. I had no specific vision of the house itself but one thing I knew for sure - there would be an abundance of cascading bougainvillea all over my garden!

You know The Secret Oprah is talking about? The philosophy that claims that "we create our own circumstances by the choices we make in life. And the choices we make are fueled by our thoughts—which means our thoughts are the most powerful things we have here on earth. So if you really want something, you have to visualize it".

Well, at least in one aspect of my life, The Secret has worked - there is bougainvillea in 4 vibrant colors (salmon, red, burgundy and purple) cascading around my warm paradise...

What's your Secret?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Je déteste!

clothing boutique at the Promenade

Disclaimer: I am a true francophile and love everything French - their country, their language, their food (well, maybe not frogs, snails and pig snouts!), even their much-maligned pop music...

But how can I resist commenting on the latest poll , taken by International Herald Tribune and France 24 TV, on how the French are viewed by other nationals:

14 percent of Germans had a negative view of the French, followed by
25 percent of Italians,
29 percent of Spaniards,
33 percent of Britons and
38 percent of Americans

Oh, yeah, the largest group that dislikes the French, at 44% ....were the French themselves!
Sacré bleu! What do you make of it?

Friday, April 27, 2007

The edge

Waiting for the week-end. De-stressing. Breathing deeply and taking in everything around me.
"Forests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes - every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man."
Orison Sweet Marden

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Do you yoga? I used to...for about a minute. I learned that Yoga is not a competitive sport. If you push too hard, you probably won't enjoy it, and you may hurt yourself. Enough said ;-)

I saw this stone sculpture at the Coconut Point Festival of Arts (mixed media: concrete over clay) and immediately thought of the Cobra position. Why don't you give it a try:

The Cobra - Bhujangasana
Stretches the spine, strengthens the back and arms, opens the chest and heart.
Lie down on your stomach. Keep your legs together, arms at your side, close to your body, with your hands by your chest.

Step 1: Inhaling, slowly raise your head and chest as high as it will go. Keep your buttocks muscles tight to protect your lower back. Keep your head up and chest out. Breathe several times and then come down. Repeat as necessary.

Step 2: Follow the steps above. When you've gone as high as you can, gently raise yourself on your arms, stretching the spine even more. Only go as far as you are comfortable. Your pelvis should always remain on the floor. Breathe several times and come down.

Now, don't you feel completely serene?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Uptown, downtown #7

We've run away from the alligators all the way to 3rd Street, downtown Naples. Aren't those ice-cream colors yummy?

I showed you one of the older buildings in our city in this post, but the Mercantile Co. is the oldest, dating back to 1919. Originally it served as a Seminole (Indian) Market downstairs and a Western Union Telegraph office upstairs. For some reason, this conjures up the image of Robert Young stringing wires through hostile Indian Territory in the movie "Western Union"! (In this regard, the film is not historically accurate - in reality, the installation of telegraph wires was met with no resistance).

Today, the Mercantile Building is home to Campiello Ristorante. It is a fine Italian bistro with authentic food and live jazz entertainment. I personally recommend their penne with chicken, spinach and Gorgonzola...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 21

See that pile of brush on the right? That's an alligator nest, also known as the mound.

In June, the female lays about 40 eggs which take 65 days to hatch (higher temperatures during incubation result in males, while slightly cooler temperatures, result in females). The mother alligator will actually assist the hatchlings to break out of their shells. She hears the baby grunt from inside the shell and lifts the egg in her mouth and rolls it around against the roof of her mouth with her tongue. This cracks the egg and the little one is able to escape.

The mother will stay with her offsprings for several months and protect them from predators, including daddy dearest, who will fed on them ;-).

Today's question: How many alligators can you find in the photo (feel free to enlarge it)?

PS If you are really good, next time I'll describe the alligator courtship ;-)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sarko on top

When I lived in Paris, my apartment in the 7th arrondissement (district) was practically next door to the French Ministry of Interior. In addition to several political manifestations, I witnessed many comings and goings of the Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Once we even came face to face...or should I say face to chest (his face, my chest, since he is rather short).

At that time (2003) I wrote to my family back in the States, that I just met the next President of the 5th Republic.

Fast forward to April 22, 2007. M.Sarkozy, the Conservative candidate garnished the most votes in the first round of the Presidential Elections in France. Whether he will win the second round in May (against the Socialist Ségolène Royal) and whether he will prove a worthy President, only time will tell.

But I just love bragging to everyone "I told you so!" ;-)

PS This statue of a short, stout gator with a big mouth, in front of the Yabba Island Grill Restaurant downtown Naples, has nothing to do with M. Sarkozy. Or does it?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day 2007

Today we celebrate Earth and her (sorry to say) dwindling resources. A lot will be said and written, before the day is done, about the sad state of affairs and what we can do to save the Planet.

But as I've gotten to know my visitors (you!), I realize that most of you are already Green (environmentally aware and active) - riding bikes, practicing vegetarianism, recycling, being vocal about polluters and other I will refrain from preaching.

As I was deeply in thought about which photo to post today, and even deeper into Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream (in a recyclable container!), I sensed a slight movement within my field of vision. I peaked through the glass panel out my front door and discovered the reason my flowering impatients look so...well...deflowered!

So here's my small contribution to the environment - I feed rabbits! Well, technically it's a self-serve, but you know what I mean ;-)

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
-Margaret Mead- 1982

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What's green and red and blue all over?

in the 'hood

If you regularly visit Christophe in Bastia - and you should, his photos are so eclectic! - you know that all his Sunday posts sport the same laconic commentary: "bon, ben c'est dimanche alors...". I can actually visualize him, giving us the famous Gallic shrug, a little curl of his upper lip and the characteristic hand gesture: "hey, it's Sunday, what do you expect?"

So here's hoping that he won't sue me for plagiarizing, but hey, it's the week-end, what do you expect? No hand gestures here whatsoever ;-)

Peaceful week-end, everyone!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Into the night

photo taken last evening

"Oft did I wonder why the setting sun
Should look upon us with a blushing face:
Is't not for shame of what he hath seen done,
Whilst in our hemisphere he ran his race?"
- Lyman Heath

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Doing wheelies

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OK, so you don't feel like taking the Historic Trolley when touring Naples. You prefer to get up-close and personal with all the beautiful natives...Well, here's another alternative - a Segway Human Transporter! This self-balancing,two-wheeled Segway sports a high-tech gyroscopes that automatically respond to your body's movements, "sensing" when it should speed up and slow down.

You stand on a small platform between left and right wheels as you hold onto handlebars at a waist height. The Segway handles the balancing for you, so that you're always upright as you glide through the city.

And if you fall * in love with this form of transportation - you can take one home with you. For the right price, of course ;-)

*see the fall of Bush

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


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"Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on the other side of despair."
T S Eliot

in Memoriam

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 20

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Today marks my 20th consecutive Tuesday quiz post! I'm sure I deserve some kind of award! Oh, yeah...your participation is a reward in itself. Honest ;-)

This is Phoebe. She is full grown and pedigree. We met her at the Farmer's Market on Saturday, and while we spoke to her "mom", she was trying to make herself comfortable amidst the peasant loaf, sack of oranges and a bagful of zucchini.

Today's question: which dog breed is Phoebe?

Update: After 25 guesses you are not even lukewarm ;-). So here are some extra clues: Phoebe can sniff out a good cigar, and she might've been great friends with F. Puss...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Murder at dusk

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evening sky from the lanai

"The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind."
- Carly Simon

Sunday, April 15, 2007


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Please forgive the quality of this photo - I lack both the equipment and the know-how of Abraham, the Nature Guru.

But this Pileated Woodpecker's hammering the palm tree outside my window reminded me of the famous animated cartoon - Woody Woodpecker - and how he came to be. Apparently Walter Lantz, the Hollywood producer, honeymooned in Sherwood Lake, California with his wife Gracie. A noisy woodpecker outside their cabin kept the couple awake at night and when a heavy rain started, they learned that the bird had bored holes in their cabin's roof ;-) Gracie, bless her heart, suggested that her husband make a cartoon about the bird, and thus Woody was born.

If have 5 minutes to spare, take a look at this 1975 episode "Under the Counter Spy". If not, just listen to the opening credits and his famous "Heh-heh-heh-HEH-heh!" laugh. Tell me if that does not take you back to those early Saturday mornings in front of the TV set...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Alligator 101

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Seeing the many posts here about our resident alligator (Al), my friend Rauf from India, sent me this photo of his oft seen neighbor, the crocodile.

For those of you still unclear about the differences between the two, this should make it easier:

- crocs live mostly in saltwater, gators in freshwater
- crocs are found in Asia, Africa, Americas and Australia, gators only in the USA and China
- crocs have pointy snouts, gators round
- crocs are aggressive, gators...well, look at that goofball Al, sunning himself like a contented cow, smelling the flowers, daydreaming of some hot lady alligator...

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But the biggest difference between them is their feeding behavior. If you were unfortunate enough to become their meal (hey, stuff happens!), the croc will rip you apart and feast on the pieces immediately, while the gator will grab you, drag you underwater and wedge you under a rock to marinate for a few days...He will be gentle not to make any teeth punctures in your body to prevent other gators from smelling your blood and stealing his stash...Alternatively, he can fold you and hold you in his mouth until you deteriorate to the point where he can swallow you whole. Lovely thought, isn't it?

And this entire post was sparked by the recent news item, where a Taiwanese veterinarian had his arm bit off by a crocodile. For the full story, and some (WARNING) gory pictures, click here.

Class dismissed!

Friday, April 13, 2007


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The week-end's approaching - take time out to enjoy the view ;-)

...The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:-
-But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
Lines Written In Early Spring by William Wordsworth (1798)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Uptown, downtown #6

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OK, I'm willing to concede; your city might be bigger and older than mine, with more history and tradition, with more museums and statue studded parks, with more cafes and street markets. But, how many of you have a concierge in the middle of town, huh?

So think of Naples as an upscale hotel - we'll feed you, bed you (easy on the jokes there!) and provide entertainment ...No tipping required ;-)

(In case you ever wondered if we have seasons in Florida, here's a photo of the same place in the depth of Winter!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imitation of art

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Last Thursday I bemoaned the fact that I cannot paint. But technology being what it is today, I wonder if it's even a valid point anymore...For example, I tinkered with this photo, taken at the Brooks Lagoon last week, and voilà!

A veritable painting, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 19

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This photo was taken in my community, but I cannot tell you exactly where - it would clue you in...and I know you are much too proud to be handicapped in any way ;-)

Today's question : what is this contraption?

Monday, April 9, 2007


Unlike United States, most of Europe celebrates Easter Monday. In some Eastern European countries - Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary - it is called Wet Monday. The name comes from the custom of boys dousing girls with buckets of water early in the day. The tradition dates back to pre-Christian times and alludes to a pagan fertility ritual.

I am happy to report that in modern times, girls retaliate with a vengeance and it has become a day long water battle carried out on the city streets. So be forewarned: if you ever find yourself in Eastern Europe on a Wet Monday, remember to carry your umbrella!

This photo is the closest I could come to spraying you…oops, I hope I did not get any water on your keyboard ;-)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Mellow yellow

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hibiscus in my garden

Yellow is the color of sunshine. It's associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.

Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates muscle energy.

Bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this color.

Yellow is also a color of Easter.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Canine fancy

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Easter photo op at the Promenade

"Get off me, you filthy beasts...I am not a chocolate bunny!"

Friday, April 6, 2007

Uptown, downtown #5

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This is one of the prettiest storefronts in town. A Mano ("by hand" in Spanish), is a unique boutique offering handmade decorative items, mainly from France, Spain and Italy.

I find this photo very appropriate for today - in addition to all the pastel colors associated with Easter, I overheard this mother explaining to her little girl about the rebirth of the flowers in the storefront garden...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Art muse

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Coconut Point Festival of the Arts

If ever a Genie offered to grant me one wish, I would not hesitate for a second! I'd wish I could paint! My entire family is very artistic - painters, sculptors and designers. I am the only misfit - I can not draw a circle...And sadly, I do not have any other talents to compensate for it ;-)

I was musing on the subject this week-end, while attending the Art Festival at Coconut Point. The pure talent and the creativity of some artists is astounding. But in the end, what drew me the most was this booth; it was the only one that stirred a myriad of (private!) emotions in me.

Sure, a photograph might preserve the moment, but only a painting can safeguard the

Update, in response to many of your comments:
Well obviously, I did not express myself well enough, as happens often ;-).
Undeniably, I can be moved by viewing a photo as well as a painting. But I am talking about the creative part of it - by taking a photo I capture the moment, but if I was to paint the same scene, I would put my own interpretation into it…my own feelings…my own spin on it...Do I make sense?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Uptown, downtown #4

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When you visit Naples - and you will ;-) - do not expect me to chauffeur you around town. I have a life, people, I am much too busy: the alligator needs his teeth flossed (there are bits of turtle stucked between them), the snake has to be oiled for easier slithering, the lizard needs his claws clipped and the anhinga has to be towel dried (poor thing can't take off).

So I offer you an alternative solution. Take the 2 hour sightseeing tour on the Naples Trolley.
This is just one of their many stops throughout the city. See the best of Naples on board a vintage trolley and enjoy their fully-narrated tour, covering over 100 points of interest.

Then give me a call, and we'll do lunch...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Quiz Tuesday part 18

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The dog day's of summer? I guess you can say that - we've been in the 80's (30°C) for many weeks now...But we've been warned today that a cold front is approaching; next week-end the temperature will only reach the mid 70's (24°C) ;-)

Today's question: what is the lady offering Fifi?

Monday, April 2, 2007


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Just in case you are suffering from withdrawal symptoms after overdosing on mail boxes's one more ;-)

This was my alternative post, but I could not come up with a good story to convince you that this stork (OK, egret) just delivered my mail...Well, you accused me of having a pet alligator, snake and lizard...why not a trained stork?

So, would you believe...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Theme day - A Public Mail Box

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Oops! I thought you meant "a public male box" ;-)

April Fool's Day!*****Poisson d'avril!

64 Daily Photo sites are participating in the 1st April theme, "A Public Mail Box", please use the links below to visit them.
London (UK) -Grenoble (France) -Rotterdam (Netherlands) -Greenville SC (USA) -Hyde (UK) -Villigen (Switzerland) -Albuquerque NM (USA) -Mazatlan (Mexico) -Montréal (Canada) -Stayton OR (USA) -Shanghai (China) -Jing -Arradon (France) -Sequim WA (USA) -Newcastle upon Tyne (England) -Seattle WA (USA) -Kim -Bastia (Corse) -Minneapolis MN (USA) -Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) -Joplin MO (USA) -Sharon, CT (USA) -Cottage Grove MN [USA] -Houston, TX (USA) -Candice & Megan -Singapore - by Keropokman. -Guelph, ON (Canada) -Menton (France) -Monte Carlo, Monaco -Naples, FL (USA) -Kyoto (Japan) -Tokyo (Japan) -Aliso Viejo, CA (USA) -Cape Town (South Africa) - Jakarta (Indonesia) -Kitakami (Japan) -Tel Aviv (Israel) -Vantaa(Finland) -Guadalajara (Mexico) -Auckland (New Zealand) -Nelson (New Zealand) -Tuzla (B&H) -Brussels (Belgium) -Anderson, SC (USA) -Lubbock, TX (USA) -John, Melbourne, (Australia) -Stavanger (Norway) -Tenerife (Spain) -Stockholm (Sweden) -Boston, MA (USA) -Not Strictly Seattle, Susan -New York City, (USA), Ming the Merciless -Paris [Eric], (France) -Ampang (Selangor) -Sydney (Nathalie) Australia -ailea , HI (USA) -Manila (Philippines) -Sydney (Sally) Australia -Cork (Ireland) -Saarbrücken (Germany) -Saint Paul MN (USA) by Carol -San Diego, CA (USA) -Mexico [POLY], (Mexico) -Budapest (Hungary) -Singapore (Singapore by Zannnie) -Madrid [Dsole] (Spain) -Nottingham (England) -Bandung (Indonesia) -London - Jonemo (UK) -