Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Between Day and Night

In the solitude of a brilliant orange sky, nestled in that moment between day and night, a young couple pause to share a kiss in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The salt air, gentle breezes and glowing waters can provide that special moment, an ambiance that captures all the senses. Like a fine restaurant, the surrounding environment often is just as important as the food it serves.

But it only can come into its highest expression when the experience is shared with another.

- Grant Jefferies

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What Fathers Will Do For Their Flock...

  Perry Haley, a local agronomist and PACE volunteer, ferries his bounty of rescued rubber ducks on Saturday, after the wind and the current conspired to hijack the start of Saturday's annual Lucky Ducky Race for PACE.  Thousands of rubber ducks veered off course and the mighty Manatee river threatened to carry them out into the great unknown.
  Hilarity ensued, and like something out of a scene from Sesame Street's, "Do De Rubber Duck," a cast of would-be marine rescuers swung into action, wielding nets and taking to the river in anything that could float.
 After the initial panic and confusion died down, piles of ducks were safely returned to the starting line, and the race resumed.
 To be fair, there was some grumbling from the spectators. Fingers were pointed. A few gasps arose from the sidelines. Each little duck was, after all, inscribed with a number which could guarantee a small fortune in free groceries - the driving force behind the fundraiser.
 But in the end the stars of the day were not the ducks themselves but rather the volunteers - and chiefly among them the crew of husbands and fathers who endured, without complaint, the frigid waters and rubber ducky-hijinks to help bring a beloved fundraiser to a successful finish. 

~Paul Videla

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Keep your eyes on the ball!

Baseball season is finally in bloom.

Fans of all ages are gathering to take part in what has become known as America's favorite pastime. Whether playing the game or just watching, it is a sport like no other.

Just holding a baseball in one's hand brings back memories and creates a sort of magic that is unique to each individual. It is amazing that a baseball in the hand can never be still. Feeling the smooth hide automatically causes the fingers to twirl it around.

Then there is the toss in the air, catch and smile, bringing a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment in catching the stitched-rawhide ball. So it is no wonder that Pittsburgh Pirate infielder Chase d'Arnaud was captured in this very process recently during a spring training practice at Pirate City in Bradenton. And being a “professional” he is able to toss two baseballs at once.

The moment captured also brings to mind one of the classic utterances barked to young players by tough weather-worn coaches from the beginning of time, baseball's No. 1 rule... 'Keep your eye on the ball!' or in this case, both of them.

And there will not be a shortage of balls to watch. Pat Hagerty, minor league equipment manager at Pirate City, ordered 10,800 baseballs for use during the Pirate's month-long spring training season. So "Play ball!"

-Grant Jefferies

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pawprints on hearts will never fade away

Just off the heavy traveled highway of U.S. 41, a two-lane road cuts through Rubonia, a small town that can be missed in a blink of an eye.

There, a small quiet plot of land is filled with small monuments marking the burial sites of  loving big hearts. Not of aunts or uncles, or even grandfathers or mothers, but of four-legged family members. Their small bodies may be laid to rest, but their memories are still alive.

Companions Memorial Park and Pet Cemetery, 7777 Bayshore Road, offers pet owners a palate to express their final good-byes. Some simple, like Misty's, pictured above, “A Loving Friend,” to Fish Glass's “She wiggled her tail with happiness.” Others include “Good Boy Rusty,” “Hey Bubba we love you,” and “See you at Rainbow Bridge.”

Too many to mention here, but each expresses the emptiness left behind with the loss of a loved pet. A tribute to two small dogs, Kiyu and Miko, may say it all, so to Venny, Gismo, Rufus, Jasper, Sugar Bear, Winky Dinky, Sam I Am, and the countless others, “You left footprints on my heart that will never fade away.”

-Grant Jefferies

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A red moon rising

An orange glow highlights our closest celestial neighbor, the moon, as it rose last week above the horizon in Palmetto.

The dim light of the full moon was filtered by the earth's atmosphere, allowing only the red and orange spectrums of light to show forth to us earthlings.

As the moon rose higher in the sky, the reddish orange glow transitioned to a brilliant white, casting shadows on the ground even in the darkness of night.

-Grant Jefferies

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fountain of Fun

Floating in the air was the unmistakable scent of meat sizzling on hot grills.

Sounds of music blended in with the drone of hundreds of finger-licken' barbeque enthusiasts attending the fifth annual BBQ Cook-Off on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.

While others were captivated by the cuisine, 2 year-old Lennox Briant was drawn to something different; the water fountain on Main Street. As columns of bubbling water burst into the air Lennox erupted in smiles and laughter. In a short time the foamy water receded, and so did the laughter.

The smile turned into a look of inquisitive wonder as the dancing liquid disappeared beneath the surface. In moments the flow of water and laughter again burst forth bringing another smile to the young girl's face.

The cycle was repeated over and over until the irresistible lure of the barbeque drew her dad, and Lennox, into the nearby crowd.
 -Grant Jefferies

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lizzard takes a ride

It was a nice sunny afternoon as I was riding on a Ford 150 down Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. No problems, just enjoying the ride and the warmth of the summer sun.

As I was stopped at a traffic light I peered through the windshield and noticed I was not alone. On the other side of the glass a strange shape caught my keen eye as I gazed at a massive form approaching my personal space. It was some weird fellow contorting himself into strange shapes while holding a square black object that made clicking sounds.

Leaping lizards, it's a blasted camera!

In my little brain I knew this guy was not normal. Doesn't he realize that the nearby motorists are staring at him?

So before my temper escalates into road rage I am going to scurry on and catch a more peaceful ride, maybe that school bus over there. I always did like yellow!

-Grant Jefferies