Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Loving Opera@TheWaterfront in West Palm Beach

Palm Beach Opera held a community event Saturday, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The event was billed as Opera@TheWaterfront. Ninety minutes of live opera music outside on the lush lawn of the Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach -- what's not to love?

The weather that Saturday was postcard-perfect, as if someone called Central Casting and ordered blue skies, a breeze that swayed the palm fronds and a temperature in the low 70s.

My favorite tenor, James Valenti, was there, along with the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra and its Chorus. And the whole thing was free!

People used the fans, which listed the afternoon's music schedule, to
shield their faces from the bright sun.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Exploring Sandi Land in West Palm Beach

I was supposed to go to Clematis by Night event on Thursday when West Palm Beach would light its 600-ton sand tree, but the downtown was mobbed. The  closest parking was about a mile away from the waterfront. My friends begged off and chose CityPlace instead for our Girls Night Out.

So I had to wait until Saturday morning when I usually drive up to West Palm Beach for yoga at its library and veggie shopping at its GreenMarket. The 35-foot tall sand sculpture was awesome.

The sculpture was decorated with a Christmas tropical theme.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Smelling through West Palm Beach garden

Sunday was a beautiful but blustery day here in Palm Beach County.

Wouldn't it be great, I thought, to photograph wind in action. I decided to drive up to Mounts Botanical Garden, across Military Trail from Palm Beach International Airport. It would be a veritable wind tunnel up there, with palm fronds swaying in the wind.

The planes were noisy as they landed and took off from the airport, often making the butterflies scatter. But I was soon lost in the garden, entranced by its fragrant blooms and brilliant hues that I forgot about my idea of photographing wind.

Here are five plants that caught my eyes and nose:

1. Bourbon rose

When the double white flowers of the Boule de neige (ball of snow) are opened
fully, the outer petals roll back at the tips giving the blossom a rounded, snow-
ball-like appearance. The flowers carried a moderate damask rose fragrance. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Feeling grateful in Lake Worth

I remind myself daily to take time to be grateful for life's blessings. I live in a charming small city, have a dog who reminds me not to forget about her and work enough hours to keep us in spinach, dark chocolate and dog treats.

Even so, I find it hard not to get caught up in the drama of everyday living. The inadvertent social slights, juggling bills and added stress brought on by the holiday season take their tolls on my psyche. So I am pausing to list five reasons why I am grateful, mindful of Thanksgiving.

No. 1 reason

Free beach parking for one year after paying a $40 fee. The beach has become
my place to relax and put my problems in perspective. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bonfires return to Lake Worth beach

Bonfires on the Beach are back! As a Lake Worth resident, I love this freebie presented by my city. 

The bonfires bring the crowds to the Lake Worth Beach every other Friday evening, once turtle-nesting season is over. The city's lifeguards build and staff the bonfires, which begin about 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. or so. The shops and restaurants stay open late to serve the onrush of customers.

Friday was the first one of the season. By 7 p.m., several hundred had gathered to toast marshmallows and enjoy the bonfires listening to the waves lapping on the shore. And it wasn't even the peak time -- between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. In past years, as many as 1,500 would gather for the bonfires. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day in Delray Beach

Sgt. Thomas E. Smith
My dad died 10 years too soon.

As a member of the Greatest Generation, he had served in World War II as an infantry sergeant and tank commander of Company B 805th Tank Destroyer Battalion. He chased Gen. Erwin Rommel through the North African desert where my dad's tank was blown up in February 1943.

He then spent six months, lying on a board floating in water. Patched up and because the U.S. Army was short of men, he was shipped to Italy. The Allied Forces were battling the Nazis in Operation Shingle for four months in early 1944 at Anzio Beachhead.

He was injured there, too, by shrapnel that stuck in his spine and supposedly he would be paralyzed. His separation papers state that he "was in charge of a battery of 4 guns 76mm anti tank. Directed fire and led platoon into combat action mostly in Italian campaign."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Exploring LagoonFest in West Palm Beach

The first ever LagoonFest was a smashing success at the West Palm Beach waterfront Saturday. Various vendors showcased the restoration work more than two decades in the making and costing more than $76 million for this large estuary, often mistakenly called the Intracoastal Waterway.

The estuary is known officially as the Lake Worth Lagoon, which is about 20 miles long and up to a half-mile wide. I know this because I used to supervise the environmental reporter at The Palm Beach Post. And he taught me about all things eco-related.

I was ready to explore the vendor area and take a water taxi to the South Cove Natural Area. I didn't, though, expect to see a pig in my walk through the exhibit area:

Man squats down to pet pig brought by a woman and he asks
the question I was thinking: "Why a pig?"