An offer you can’t refuse

I love Italy. The food and sights are incredible. If you have a wad of cash, now you can make a deal with the folks in Italy. Seems like 11 lighthouses are up for grabs in Italy.

I heard they were hard up for cash for restoring historical treasures.

I guess this is one way to get some cash and preserve lighthouses. I’m all for preserving lighthouse—just a little short on cash!

Check out this link for details. Kudos to my son for passing this on.

A River that Runs North


View of estaury

A quiet view of one of my favorite estuaries in North Florida.

I grew up near the St. Johns River that passes through North Florida. It is one of the few rivers that flows north. I have visited its banks, estuaries and tributaries throughout my life.

Painting Death of Fertility.

My painting “Death of Fertility” uses my favorite estuary at Fort George Island as a backdrop.

I have often portrayed it in many of my paintings.

When I wrote a poem about the state of Florida, I paid tribute to the St. Johns River.

As a Jacksonville native, I have often taken access to the St. Johns River for granted. Now I realize how my exposure to the St. Johns River during childhood has shaped my life and impacted my art.

So I was surprised to learn from the Times Union that many poor children in Jacksonville have never explored the St. Johns River.

A program funded by the St. Johns River Keeper, the federal government and CSX Corp. now offers these students a chance to learn about the river’s ecosystem.

The program provides hands on access to the river and creates future environmentally conscious citizens.

Feed Hungry Little Caterpillars


Butterfly on Pentas

I never did find any milkweed. Theses Pentas were a favorite of the butterflies.

A noted entomologist said that people don’t notice anything smaller than a sparrow.

I don’t know about you but I am fascinated by butterflies. I pause when I see one. Seeing butterflies brightens my day.

When I went to Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden or FTBG as my grandson called it, I spent a lot of time in the Butterfly Garden. We also visited the Wings of the Tropics Butterfly Exhibit and Greenhouse. We saw many butterflies including the Florida state butterfly, Zebra Longwing, and Blue Morphos my grandson’s favorite

Blue morpos

At first gland, we didn’t  realize these were Blue Morphos at Fairchild because we only saw their under wings.

I recalled all this recently as I read an article in the Florida Times Union on the migration of the Monarch Butterfly to Mexico in October. It seems some fly as far away as Canada to Mexico.

Since 1990 Monarch Butterflies numbers have plummeted from 1 billion to 30 million. The biggest threat is habitat destruction by Monsato’s Roundup. Roundup is used by homeowners and the agriculture industry as a weed killer.

Monsato also genetically modifies corn and other crops. GM corn and soy are resistant to Roundup which kills all other plants including milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant Monarch caterpillars eat.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced a $2 million initiative to restore milkweed to public lands. In March, Monsato pledged $4 million for the restoration.

Many cities have launched Milkweed Initiatives. Check with the National Wildlife Federation at for more information.

Cooling it in Florida

Morning view of the ocean

A morning view of the ocean from the balcony.

With cooler weather and lower prices, now is a great time to visit Florida.

I’m always looking for a great hotel and a great deal. I found both at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites at Daytona Beach Shores.

It’s a wonderful oceanfront hotel that caters to guests. It is evident that the customer and the ocean were at the forefront when this hotel was designed.

When I checked in I was delighted to find an oceanfront lobby and breakfast area. All rooms are oceanfront as well. My room was equipped with a large flat screen TV, microwave and mini fridge. The room had a table for dining and is appointed with plush pillows, bedding and granite counters in the bathroom. You can catch a view of the ocean from your balcony.

Dusk from the balcony.

An incredible view at dusk from the balcony.

There was a full moon the night I stayed so I watched the waves most of the evening. The room I stayed in was immaculate. The only disappointment was not finding a bible in the nightstand.

Although there was no food for the soul the hotel offers a free breakfast buffet.

If you want to burn off those calories there’s an oceanfront exercise room and pool. You can also walk off those pounds with a stroll on the ocean a few feet away.

Sunset at the pool.

The oceanfront pool at dawn.

My only regret was that I did not stay longer. My hotel room was priced at a little over $100 without taxes. I discovered that the hotel’s website offers the most competitive prices.

Arrive at 3 pm the check in time to get the most out of your stay.

Shelling Out the dollars

While consumers are enjoying record low oil prices, Dutch Shell is paying a tab of billions of dollars. The stubborn oil company refused to listen to the warnings of its shareholders and the pleas of environmentalists.

According to, Dutch Shell’s shareholders questioned why they should support a drilling program that could pollute and contaminate seafood in May.

Undaunted Dutch Shell began oil exploration.

Environmental and activist opposed the decision and Greenpeace occupied the company’s oil rigs in protest.

Dutch Shell ignored their opposition.

After losing billions of dollars, being fined for air position, the company has halted it’s oil exploration efforts in the Alaskan Artic.

A day late and a dollar short.

Bad News Bears

It’s open season on Florida black bears. After 38 years of state protection the Florida black bear was removed from the state’s endangered species list in 2012 according to the Huffington Post. That’s old news but the trend continues with reclassifications being sought for the Florida manatee and panther.

Florida’s beloved manatee who is now classified as “endangered” by the US Fish and Wildlife Service is being targeted for reclassification by business groups.

According to the Associated Press, boaters and businesses claim federal boat speed restriction harm fishing and tourism on King’s Bay, a popular manatee wintering spot.

Business groups are also targeting the Florida state animal, the panther. NPR states some officials, ranchers and hunters in the state are concerned about the increasing number of the Florida panthers. Now nearly 200 range southwest Florida.

After a decade of protecting the panther, the official state animal, state wildlife officials say they want to adopt a new policy toward the endangered panthers.

That seems to be the downward trend in Florida.

The Impressionists Were Right

Self portrait of van gogh

Van gogh’s self portrait is in the Art Institue of Chicago.

I just heard on the news a company is planning to launch a site like Yelp that gives reviews on people instead of businesses. It got me thinking…I wonder how many “likes” the Impressionists would have gotten?

Looking at Van gogh who only sold a couple of paintings in his life time, probably not many.

And the other Impressionists incurred the public’s wrath.

Their first exhibit was called “Salon des Refuges” or “Exhibition of the Rejects.” Society is often wrong when evaluating people as was the case with the Impressionists. The Impressionists were passionate about what they were doing and not slaves to public opinion.

They thrived on controversy which often, by the way, is a great media tool. Donald Trump can you that, if nothing else. Living one’s life for approval leads to frustration and is idolatry.

I thought about this when reading the Creative Issue of Intouch magazine. An article said that when artists focus more on applause than the Almighty it is idolatry.

Fall in Love with New Smyrna Beach


A view of new Smyrna Beach

A view of New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

After discovering that New Smyrna Beach was a thriving art town, I packed my bags and sketchbook for an art trip. My first stop was the Visitor Center. I gathered information and maps for the day. The lady at the Welcome Center gave me a welcome gift and provided useful tips. She told me about Canal Street Historic District, Flagler Avenue and the Annual Jazz Festival (Sept 25-27). On the fourth Saturday every month, there’s an Art Walk on Flagler from 10am-5pm.

Canal Street Historic District.

There’s lots to do on Canal Street Historic District.

I made my way to Canal Street Historic District. I visited Arts on Douglas and saw am impressive array of art. The featured artist was Christine Peloquin. Her exhibit “Drawn to it” had stunning fabric and paper collages. The exhibit ended Sept. 26. In the gallery’s Alternate Space, Richard Heipt presented “Looking +Seeing: Anatomy Pairings 2005-2015.” This exhibit concludes Oct. 17.

Artist studios

Visit artists’ studios at The Hub.

At “The Hub on Canal Street” I browsed artist studios for affordable art and hand-made crafts. I saw paintings and Giclee prints for under $100.

The New Smyrna History Museum

Check out the New Smyrna Museum of History.

I stopped by and chatted with the folks at The New Smryna Museum of History nearby. They were promoting The Night at Museum on Oct. 2 called “Brews and the Blues” for $30 from 6-9 pm.

I relaxed a few minutes at the “Old Fort Park.” I read a plaque that explained the Greek origins of the city’s namesake. I did a few sketches in the area.

Flagler Beach sign.

A sign beckons visitors.

After visiting the Historic District, I drove across the causeway for Flagler Avenue. Touristy and funky, I strolled past restaurants and shops once there. I met an artist owner at Ring Gallery. The gallery store has his amazing photographs and novelty items for sale. At the Tada Gallery I picked up a nautical ring. The space is small but jammed packed with affordable jewelry and a few pieces of art.

A car on the beach.

I was expecting sea shells on the beach.

I ended the day by walking down Flagler Avenue to the beach. I was startled to see cars driving along shore. I reasoned that it was a beach for car enthusiasts because Daytona is only 15 miles away.

If you decide to spend the night there’s a Hampton Inn and the Inn on the Avenue Bed and Breakfast on Flagler Avenue.

For more information on New Smyrna Beach, visit

Run the Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha's Vineyard.

Gay Head Cliffs at Martha’s Vineyard.

You don’t have to be the Road Runner nor Wiley Coyote to make your mark at the Gay Head 10k Race.

The third annual Gay Head 10k race is set for Sunday, October 4 at 10am. The cost is $30 and registration ends October 2 at 11:59 pm.

For more information and to sign up, visit