Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dawn approaches

Only seconds before the sun rises out of the Gulf on this cold winter morning. It was 36 degrees here on the beach when I got up at 5:00 a.m. and winds were gusting slightly over 25 mph.

At last, the first rays peep over the horizon. It was a beautiful and special dawn.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


We simply can't understand why things happen the way they do sometimes. As quickly as Mysti appeared and won our hearts, she disappeared from our lives.

While my mother was away at the store this morning, dogs attacked Mysti and punctured her lung - among other injuries. She passed away around noon today.

Such a sweet little kitten, gentle and full of personality, which cannot be replaced.

Our hearts are broken.

My deep appreciation to Mike Cruz, a family friend and anesthetist, who went to help my mother and see if he could do anything for Mysti since a vet couldn't be reached.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Home again!

Home again from Tennessee! The big news this year was Santa's gift to my mother: a young stray cat that appeared at the same time as carolers a few days before Christmas.

Despite calls to neighbors and checking the paper, no owner could be found for this sweet-natured, skin & bones, well-mannered, long-haired kitten which took up residence on my mother's porch.

After I insisted the poor thing couldn't go nameless after three or four days, my mother thought a Christmas name should be chosen, considering the time frame when she appeared. On Christmas Day she settled on "Chrissy" (for Christmas), but the name just didn't seem to fit. [Look at those whiskers and ear tufts!]

So, may I introduce you to Mysti -- for "this cat is a mystery to me"!

Thank you, Santa.

P.S. The black spot in the lower right corner of the last shot is Mysti reaching out to touch the camera with one of her paws which are solid black on the bottom.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

La Pinta and Nina arrive

Replicas of La Pinta, the fastest of Christopher Columbus fleet, and the Nina (said to be Columbus' favorite ship) sailed into Pensacola Bay yesterday.

Tours on the boats will begin at 9:00 a.m. this morning and continue each day through January 3.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What a difference a day makes!

Ahhhh....this is more like it! Today was sparkling and clear, with fluffy clouds on the horizon.

The water was back to its lovely jewel-tone shades of turquoise and sapphire and I had a great view from my friend's condo in Tower I.

Life is good.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blue skies

Oh how wonderful to see blue in the sky again. Away, drab gray of winter days!

[Hmmm...actually tomorrow is officially the first day of winter, but you could have fooled me.]

Bundled up

Burrrrrrrr! It is cold! According to the Pensacola Beach Elementary School weather station, it dropped down to 38 out here on the island -- with 23 mph wind gusts!

Even bundled up in my old parka, it was cold out there. Still, I prefer our snow-white sand over what many folks are dealing with along the northern coast!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gulf Islands National Seashore: The Treasure of the Gulf Coast

I was very excited to see a comment from Jill Hubbs, Director of Outreach and Educational Services at WSRE-TV, our local PBS affiliate, informing me that their excellent documentary, Gulf Islands National Seashore: The Treasure of the Gulf Coast, is now available for online viewing. Ms. Hubbs was the writer, director and producer of this remarkable film and even persuaded Ken Burns to narrate the piece which serves as a companion to his series The National Parks: America's Greatest Idea.

About 24 minutes into the documentary you will catch a glimpse of someone who was very special to us: Kirsten Dahlen, our Traveling Turtle Girl, who did so much to educate us with her blog, as she releases tiny sea turtle hatchlings into the Gulf of Mexico.

I am so happy to be able to share this special presentation of WSRE-TV with you on my blog and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Rough weather

Our rough weather continues, as you can see. I took advantage of a break in the rain to go outside and take this photo of Santa Rosa Sound being whipped up by the northeast wind.

A front moved through around 3:00 a.m. (I know this because of a whiplash injury at the age of 20 which has turned me into a human barometer.) Winds gusted up to 40 mph in the overnight hours and even now are sustained around 15 - 17 mph on the beach. Although our temperature is 47 degrees at the moment, I'm relieved they've revised the colder temps originally forecast for next week.

At at least it isn't nearly as cold here as it is with some of my blog friends! The Taylors in East Grand Forks, Minnesota are chillin' with 11 degrees this morning, and the Pattersons in Barrow, Alaska are at {{{drum roll}}} -21 degrees, with a wind chill of -40! YIKES!

Wouldn't it be nice to see sunshine! Even though I wouldn't dare go to the beach when the winds are this high, it would be nice to look out and see sun sparkling on the water again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lighted Boat Parade

It was so very cold and windy during our Lighted Boat Parade on December 11th, that I didn't take many photos. But I decided to go back and show you a couple of my favorites that I took with a long exposure.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pensacola Beach Christmas Parade

Although both the Pensacola and Gulf Breeze Christmas parades had to be cancelled on Saturday due to rain, the weather (and fog) cleared just enough for Pensacola Beach to proceed with their parade Sunday afternoon! Yippee!

Sandi Johnson, the current Shaker Queen, is one of the sweetest ladies you'll ever meet. She raised over $1,000 for various charities and not-for-profit groups such as the Pensacola Beach Elementary School and the Humane Association during Shakerfest this year.

The newly crowned Queen Sugah of the Woolyboogers, was accompanied by a couple of cheery elves!

Attention hound!

Pensacola Beach loves parades and floats and throws...just in case you hadn't noticed.

And nobody dresses up their big-girl tricycle better than Ms. Kimmie!

Most adorable of the parade were the little dancers who hopped, skipped, and kicked their heels all the way from Avenida 10 to Casino Beach.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Pensacola Beach!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I'm happy to report that my blogging mojo seems to have finally returned and I'm back at it again. I was a bit hesitant to say it out loud for fear it would disappear again, but some of my faithful blog followers, Ryan and Alli Taylor, and their 'Poppie' Dale, held a special mojo party for me in Minnesota this week and it seems to have done the trick!

Four-year old Ryan is a real pro at helping me out during the hurricane season. If you don't remember him, you can check out A story for Ryan on my blog last year.

Thanks, Ryan, Alli and Dale! You're the best!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ya gotta have friends!

Two of my favorite friends here on the island are Jim and Lila Cox, who came as a 'Naughty Claus' and Ebinezer Scrooge to the Lighted Boat Parade this evening.

Great disguises because they are two of the nicest people and most valued volunteers on this island. If there is any event for Pensacola Beach, Chamber of Commerce, our Elementary School, etc., you can count on them not only as the biggest supporters, but the hardest workers to make things happen.

Thank you, Jim and Lila!

Christmas ornaments

I thought you might like to see my favorite Christmas tree ornament. Isn't it a beautiful sea turtle?

My favorite island store, Island Style, carries the December Diamond collection and I try to get a couple of the new aquatic themed ornaments from them every year. Below is another photo of it using flash. It spoils the glow of the Christmas tree, but captures detail of the ornament.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Ft. Pickens reopened (again) this afternoon and we discovered our own version of a winter wonderland!

Tons of sand cleared from Ft. Pickens Road following Tropical Storm Ida and a subsequent winter storm, made it look more like we were driving through a ski resort than Gulf Islands National Seashore.


Ft. Pickens reopens...again

The Ft. Pickens area of Gulf Islands National Seashore has reopened after thousands of tons of sand dumped onto the road by Tropical Storm Ida and a late season winter storm were cleared enough to allow traffic back into the park.

I took several photos of giant sand dunes created by the front loaders, but the beach was so pretty today that I wanted to share this photo with you first.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pensacola Beach Christmas Ornament

I received a note from a blog visitor this afternoon who reminded me about our Pensacola Beach Christmas ornament which is available again this year! He grew up in Pensacola, but now resides in Texas. Seeing the beach sign made him a bit homesick, so he called and ordered two!

I'm sure Santa would love to place one of these on your tree this year, too.

I called Island Style to make sure they have plenty in stock, and they do. The photo above is of the ornament when it is turned off.

When it is plugged into your Christmas tree lights, it duplicates the flashing of the iconic neon Pensacola Beach sign itself. It is awesome!

The ornaments are $17.99, plus shipping and handling. Island Style can take your credit card info over the phone, so if interested you may purchase them by calling 850/934-3100.

Tell them Barrier Island Girl sent you!

Sea Oat Honey

I was very excited when I received a gift of 'Sea Oat Honey' from Mr. Morrie Drees this week and, as you can see from the jar, I've already been into it a couple of times!

Before Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004, Mr. and Mrs. Drees lived on the sound-side of the island, near the Beach Community Church. It was there that he kept a hive of honey bees which drowned during the storm. Luckily a sealed five gallon container of the honey survived by floating to the top of a confined area during the surge. As you can see from the container he gave me, it is still clear and has a lovely rich amber color.

Mr. Drees said that for honey to have a varietal name it must have 60% of a certain source, for instance, "orange blossom honey" must have 60% nectar from orange blossoms. So although he can't assume his is from sea oats, it surely tastes wonderful and I love the name!

Thanks, Mr. D.!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Jake and Santa Claus

This weekend I participated as photographer for the Santa and His Paparazzi event on the Boardwalk. It's a sweet and special occasion to see the children interact with Santa. They always surprise me with their questions and comments to Santa. Some are shy, some are very excited, some come prepared, but there are a few who fall into a category all their own, which brings me to 3 year-old Jake.

Jake's parents said he had been very excited on the way to see Santa, but suddenly was not such a happy camper when he got actually got on Santa's lap. His older sister, Ashley, thought perhaps Jake had a flashback to all those times he'd been reminded to be good...and had a teeny, tiny problem.

His parents, Brent and Tara Belongy, had talked to Jake on the way over about what he was going to ask Santa to bring him. Jake said,"Everything on the commercials and in the magazine!" But now Jake slumped rather dramatically in Santa's lap and couldn't be persuaded to talk at all.

Santa did his best to get Jake to confide in him, but nothing helped.

Finally we realized Jake actually seemed upset with himself, though no one could figure out why.

His mom and sister talked to Jake and eventually discovered why he was so inconsolable...

It was because...he hadn't brought his list! Now this may not seem a big issue at first, but when you consider that Jake wants "everything on the commercials and in the magazine," that's a lot of pressure for a little fellow to handle when he's sitting on Santa's knee and realizes he left his list at home.

Jake's dad, Brent, leaned over to reassure him that it would be okay and that they would e-mail the list to Santa when they got home. At this point Jake firmly told his dad, "I'm tired and I need a nap!"

I'm not sure that Jake will get everything on his list this year, but I think his family definitely will when Jake receives his first Oscar for lead actor in a comedy.

I requested permission from Jake's parents to share the photos of his visit to Santa with you, and they generously agreed. His mom shared with me that when they left the Boardwalk his sister Ashley carried a tired little Jake all the way back to the car, whereupon he asked his folks if they thought a trip to McDonald's would recharge his batteries.

Uh, Santa, could you add a recharge to Jake's list.

[Note: Jake might be upset if I didn't let you know that he will turn four on December 21 - but that's another list.]

Monday, December 07, 2009

Island SOBs

The SOBs (which stands for Sisters of the Beach) traded in their tiaras for Santa hats yesterday afternoon during their annual luncheon at Flounders. Although I had a few stops to make at other events, I definitely made time to stop by and capture some of the fun with photos. Bunkie Hewerdine and Paulette Provost (First Mate of the Krewe of Wrecks this year) were so festive!!!

Mimosas, champagne and frequent toasts.

Melanie Waite is one of my fellow sea turtle patrollers in the summer. This year she earned a beautiful gold pin for 1,000 hours of volunteer work with the sea turtle program.

A gator girl at the party!

Chrissy Cook found an inventive way to keep her booted foot safe after recent surgery.

Amy DePew believes in Santa and has the sweatshirt to prove it!

Gwen & Danah Gibson with Sharon Mattair. I think everyone who has ever met Danah thinks she should have her laugh marketed. You can't hear her laugh without laughing along!

Jayne Drees Redmond sported some high antlers! Jayne was so nice to help me out at the Mardi Gras parade earlier this year after I became the photographer for the Krewe of Wrecks.

Karen Hagford and Elaine Mitchell. Elaine is current Queen of the Nereids! Remember the Nereids incredible mermaid costumes at the Mardi Gras this year and their choreographed dance after the parade! Wow!

The ladies made sure their wait staff at Flounders knew how much they were appreciated after the luncheon! I actually thought I saw some of them blushing!

One of my favorite shots from yesterday! Bunkie's 4" heels (or were they 5"?) finally got the best of her, so Gwen helped transport her to the group photo. You must click on the photo to see those incredible shoes in detail -- and see if you wouldn't have been in the same boat!

Check out the next issue of Island Times to see a group photo of the SOBs!