Tag Archives: Florida

A Day At The Museum


My grandmother Kay taught me three things…Take an avid interest in your surroundings, never miss an opportunity to visit historic sites (that goes double if they’re free), and never, under any circumstances, allow anyone to photograph you without your lipstick. That last one has come in handy over the years, and the first two were highly useful today when I found myself with two long hours to kill in a small town…

I was in Bartow, Florida, which also happens to be the county seat of Polk County, in Central Florida. There on Main Street, which is the main drag through Bartow, is the Polk County Historic Museum (also the old courthouse). My grandmother would have been proud of me…I walked all around, looked at all the exhibits, and not once did I whine and complain that it was borrrrr-ING. She sure heard that a lot when I was young and was a frequent travel guest of her and my grandfather. I saw a lot that interested me actually–I’ve evolved, I guess. And, I wish she had been there with me today because I saw a lot of of items that would have caught her eye too.

So, from Kay and me, here are just a few of the fascinating things Polk County Historic Museum has to offer…

A Very Vintage Hair Dryer & “Permanent Wave” Machine

An Exhibit About The First Theater In Polk County

America’s Oldest Man, Charlie Smith

And His Letter From President and Mrs. Ford

A BIG Catch…

An Old Fashioned Curling Iron, and a Rather Creepy Hair Braid…

Old Traffic Lights (With No Little Gotcha Cameras Like the Ones Nowadays In Polk County)

Scary, Prehistoric Monster Heads…And One Modern One…

Vintage Law Man Accessories

Women’s History…

And Some Fascinating Florida Trivia…Thanks, Ponce…I Love Those Oranges!

Museum Information & Fees


The museum is located in downtown Bartow at:

100 East Main Street (corner of Main & Broadway)
Bartow, Florida 33830


Tuesday – Friday 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Saturday 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
Closed Sundays & Mondays

In 2011 the museum will also be CLOSED on the additional days listed below:

  • Friday, November 11 – Veteran’s Day Observance
  • Thursday & Friday, November 24 & 25 – Thanksgiving
  • Friday & Saturday, December 23 & 24 – Christmas Holidays


Admission to the museum is FREE to the public.

For Information On Polk County’s Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) This Year, Click The Photo Below…

But What About Caylee?


As I write this blog entry, like most of the nation, I am stunned and disgusted by the verdict that was just read in a Florida courtroom this afternoon. I can think of only one other time I felt like this–back in the 90’s, and the defendant was O.J. Simpson, who very obviously slaughtered two people and had just gotten away with it. I had thought that it would be guilty of manslaughter, with a jury less than enthusiastic to sentence anyone to death without a lot of direct proof and damning evidence. But no…it was “not guilty” on both the possible murder and manslaughter charges, and guilty of only lying to police. Slap on the wrist, anyone? What were these twelve people thinking? 

So, as Caylee’s mother giggles with delight at escaping the needle or life in prison, and presumably plans her next girl on girl dance party session, what about Caylee?

While the defense team has the audacity to stand in front of cameras and take an undeserved bow, what about Caylee? 

As Caylee’s grandparents sit in the courtroom, then go back to their Orlando home which is now reportedly “under siege”, clearly disappointed with the verdict, what about Caylee? 

Tell me, jury, if her mother didn’t kill her, who did? And who will take responsibility for tracking them down and seeing that they are convicted? Someone killed that child, because she didn’t put the duct tape on herself, nor did she bury herself off the side of the road. Who then? And who will see that justice is pursued from here on out? We’re waiting…

It seems like this happens more often than not…people do awful things and get away with them, seemingly, in this lifetime at any rate. Quite frankly, I doubt that any punishment that would have been doled out to the individual who killed Caylee, or at least neglected her to the point that she died accidentally, would have been adequate anyway. But, today, I sure would have liked to see twelve among us at least try to balance those scales…

WittyBizGal Nonprofit Spotlight: Come On Baby And Rescue Me!


Last year, right after Thanksgiving, I made a life changing decision–I adopted a dog! I’d honestly never “owned” a dog by myself before…I’d had cats mostly, and had adopted them from shelters over the years, that is until my youngest showed signs of cat allergy. After that, I was more or less pet-less, although we had a family guinea pig, Nutmeg, a betta fish named Sal, and a family dog we call Sodor. But as for a critter that would follow me around like a furry stalker, and always choose my lap to sit on, nope, not really…

It was my husband’s idea that I get a little dog…one I could keep in the house, take places with me, and one that would be my own little shadow. He suggested that we find a reputable breeder and consider a Yorkie. As I began to look into the different breeds of small dogs, I read that Chihuahuas were fiercely loyal, and tended to bond with one person in the house. That sounded right up my alley!

I thought about breeders and going for a pure bred dog. There are certainly advantages to that, such as a better chance of getting particular traits that suit you and your needs, and I don’t fault anyone for wanting a pure or “real” version of any dog. That’s a personal choice. But for me, I just kept thinking about all the animals, dogs, cats, etc. that are destroyed each year because they are unwanted. There’s usually nothing wrong with them such as being overly aggressive or sick, there are simply too many of them and not enough people who want them…or perhaps not enough people who know how to get them.

I began to search online for shelters in my area, and my internet queries quickly pulled up a nonprofit organization in my region—Florida Little Dog Rescue. I was intrigued! This place obviously dealt in little dogs, and I’d actually be “rescuing” a dog. Quite honestly, I didn’t really know what that meant, but I assumed I’d be saving a dog from certain death, or maybe a fate worse than death. This sounded like a plan!

9 Out of 10 Hot Vets Agree–Rescue Rocks! 😉

And so it began…in a process that smacks of online dating, I searched the little furry faces on the page, and as I read their biographies, tears welled up several times.  A lot of them had been rescued from abusive situations, abandonment, and puppy mills—there seem to be an inordinate number of monsters who were all too willing to keep animals in deplorable conditions, forcing them to give birth to one litter of puppies after another, all for profit. Ugh…sometimes I’m really embarrassed to be a part of the human race…

Anyway, as I browsed over a few days, looking for the best friend that was just right for me, I saw many pooches that were strong candidates. They were all small, cute, and their stories tugged at my heartstings. And then, along about day 3, I saw her—the one. She was a Chihuahua, mostly anyway, and in her photo she just had this attitude…you know, not a bad attitude, but she was staring proudly and looking straight into the camera as if to say, “I’m cute, I’m sweet, and I’m the one for you! Why wouldn’t you want me???” And those ears…let’s just say, Peach (that was her name) could have auditioned for the lead in the canine version of “Dumbo”….just sayin’…In fact, it was those amazing, no apologies, Look at me world!!!, ears that sealed the deal for me. They gave, and still give her, character and personality.

I called about Peach right away and arranged to go and visit her at her foster home, which was over an hour’s drive away, after my application had been approved. They told me that I could either adopt her right on the spot, or go home and think about it. I dragged my family out on a Sunday afternoon, because I was sure that my dog would get snapped up by some bogus person if I didn’t go right then. As mentioned before, I’m impulsive like that. Sometimes it works in my favor, and sometimes not.

When we arrived at the foster home, she came right out to the car and started wagging her tail. Her “Foster Dad” stared in disbelief and said, “I can’t believe she’s not barking at you guys…she barks at everybody!” This turned out to be a highly prophetic statement, as my Peach, who I renamed Coco, is the terror of the neighborhood on our nightly walks. She especially hates other dogs (aside from her adoptive brother Sodor), and bicycles. The guy who rides his bicycle while trailing his little dog on a leash alongside really makes her foam at the mouth. Oh, and she’s doubled in size, more or less growing into those ears. 🙂  She has several quirks, some of them cute, some of them annoying, but she’s mine. And she’s perfect for me! She also definitely has those loyal Chihuahua traits too—she’s bonded pretty strongly with me, going wherever I go. She’s a good car rider…likes to stick her head out the window and bark at bike riders and anyone else who looks suspicious to her.

As a nonprofit organization, Florida Little Dog Rescue has a smart, efficient business model. In order to keep overhead low, they do not maintain office space, and business is conducted mostly by phone and online. They also rely heavily on foster homes for rescue dogs, which consist of animal lovers in the region who are willing and able to open their homes to the animals until they are adopted. This is actually a big part of what makes Florida Little Dog Rescue unique, because the foster environment allows foster humans to assess the temperament, personality, quirks, and housebroken status of the dog in a home setting. That way, the foster family or individual can communicate directly with the potential adoptive family or individual about the realities of adopting a particular animal, thus ensuring a better dog/human match, and hopefully a stable, lifelong home for an already traumatized doggie.

Florida Little Dog Rescue is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that is a division of Big Dog Rescue. The organization supports its efforts and operation solely on charitable donations. If you would like to make a donation to the general operating fund of Florida Little Dog Rescue, please click on the picture of Coco below:

If you are interested in adopting a little dog yourself, please start by filling out this Adoption Application so that your eligibility may be assessed. Please Note: Adoption is only available to Florida residents at this time!

To view the photos and read the bios of little dogs currently available for adoption, click here: I’m Looking For My New Best Friend

If you live in Central Florida and would like to become involved in fostering rescued dogs, go here: I’d Like to Open My Home to Rescue Dogs

To follow Florida Little Dog Rescue on Facebook, where adoptable dogs are featured along with their eventual rescue success stories, click here: Florida Little Dog Rescue on Facebook

And finally, if you’d like to donate to save a specific dog that is scheduled to be euthanized by Animal Control this week, click this link: Save Me, I’m Worth It!

No Way Out On The Road to Cougartown


Yesterday, my family and I decided to visit Sarasota for the first time since we’d moved to the state of Florida a little over a year ago. We’d heard it was a beautiful place…gorgeous coastline, funky artist colonies, amazing food, great shopping, etc. A real Jimmy Buffet-esque paradise. So, we used our cell phone to give us directions–you know, the one with the creepy computerized voice? We set out from Winter Haven and unexpectedly came upon a toll route. Fine, we thought, we have cash for the tolls…so we proceeded on. As we drove along peacefully on our short journey to the real life Margaritaville/Cougartown, I spotted a sign a few feet down the road that read, “EXACT CHANGE REQUIRED”.

My heart skipped several beats, which is more than a little scary since I was behind the wheel of a large sports utility vehicle, and I began to yell to each of my passengers, “Oh my god! Does anyone have any change???” I’d assumed my boys were holding out, because they always find change on the ground (I guess because they are closer to it than I am) and tuck those quarters away in pockets and shoes for later use. But, no such luck….there I was, trapped with no way out…no way to turn around…and no way to magically transform a $20 bill into quarters. Most of all, I was in the throes of a full on panic attack, with no Xanax or even a new tube of lipstick (see previous blog) to be had.

As I approached the toll booth, and stopped at the red lighted stop sign, I knew I had to make a choice. Being the sort of person who, when pushed too far, has been voted most likely to jump off that cliff, guns a’blazin, into the abyss, I did not just sit in my Jeep and cry like a lot of women would. Nor did I try to back up and go the wrong way on the highway, like a suicidal psycho would. No, I did what Thelma and Louise did…I drove right on through, leaving in my wake a chorus of buzzers, bells, whistles, and flashing lights as a highly public testament to my rogue criminal nature…

Oh, and a droll Floridian in a pickup truck who followed me closely just so I would roll down my window long enough for him to shout, “You know, that’s a $100 ticket you got back there…” Uh, yeah…thanks, buddy….

Take another road to a hiding place
Disappear without a trace
Take another road to another time
On another road in another time
Like a novel from the five and dime
Take another road another time

Name Your Pest…Then Throw A Party In Its Honor


Two amorous specimens on the side of my house the other day…

For the past couple of weeks, I, along with the rest of my fellow Central Floridians, have been living with our yearly visitors—Love Bugs. They are so named because they stay…er…”coupled” for days at a time. They even fly around that way, walk around that way, and if you see a single one flying or walking around, it’s likely because he just hatched, or maybe he’s just doomed, like a lot of people, to be unlucky in love.

Love Bugs are more or less harmless, and kinda cute. That is, unless they are in a large swarm around your car on the interstate—literally to the point that they obscure vision and make driving dangerous. That happens quite a bit here in Florida, because the little critters are also attracted to car exhaust so they swarm around the major highways and byways. In droves, they tend to last about 3 weeks, then they mysteriously disappear. Although sometimes they do come back for round two sometime during the summer…

As you can see, the little darlings can make quite a mess…oh, and here’s a tip: if you don’t wash them off right away, their tiny corpses will eat your paint right off!

When I was growing up, I lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our pest was the infamous Kudzu. This vine like plant was introduced from its native Asia, into the southeastern U.S. to be used as ground cover. HA! The joke was on us, because it proceeded to cover the ground—everywhere, and take over small cities, such as Chattanooga.

See what I mean?

We’re a hearty lot, however, with twisted, bawdy senses of humor for the most part, so Chattanoogans celebrated this pesty plant each year with the annual Kudzu Ball, held on the same night that Chattanooga’s social elite hold the Cotton Ball. It was a chance to display that tenacity that keeps all Southerners going through the best of times, and the worst of times…”If you can’t beat ‘em, make a party theme around them.” Oh, and the opportunity to mock our snooty “betters” is just a bonus…

Since I moved away from Chattanooga in my 20’s, I have lived all over…I mean ALL over. And you know what I noticed? Each region of the country, each city and townlet usually has some sort of unique pest to call their own.

For example, in Central and Northern California, you often get smelly and slimy, not to mention loud sea lion invasions….

Southern Oregon, specifically Klamath Falls, has these little guys—neon green Midges, which swarm around during the warmer months, much like our Love Bugs…

Wherever you live, you probably have your own special pest. It annoys you to no end when you live there, but you know what? If you really think hard about it, it (whatever it is) adds character to an area and you sorta miss it when you move away.

Wonder what my current neighbors would think of organizing a Love Bug Ball? Maybe with a Valentine’s Day tie in…hmmm….

Wild Kingdom Off The Beaten Path


The Circle B Bar Reserve

Just this side of Disney World, and a relatively short drive from whatever overpriced, overcrowded theme park resort you might be staying at in Orlando, is a tourist’s treasure that is so off the beaten path, so under-publicized, that it is known mostly to Central Florida residents. It’s the Circle B Bar Reserve, an environmental freshwater marsh and swampland reserve that is not only a total kick in the pants to visit, but unlike your favorite theme park with their marked up souvenirs and $50+ burger and fries lunches, admission is FREE. Special guided tours are available for a fee, but you really don’t need one to see what there is to see at the Circle B.

Walking at the Circle B, Down Alligator Alley

Obviously, the infamous American Alligator is the star attraction at Circle B, and you will be treated to plenty of them in their natural habitat in the reserve’s Lake Hancock, and also in the open swamps that line your walking trails. And no, there is no barrier between you and them—this is raw nature at its best! It’s safe, for the most part, as long as you don’t do anything stupid and make sure to keep your distance if you happen to spot one of our reptilian friends on your walk. There are even signs on the trail advising tourists to turn and go another way if a gator happens to be laying on the walking trail. Visitors are warned to not attempt to walk around the gator. The scary thing about that to me is that you know that sign is there because somebody at some point was dumb enough to try. Oh, and by the way, gators can outrun us, so don’t think for a minute that you have the upper hand because of your big ole human brain. If, despite your best efforts, one does take a shine to you, this guy seems to have some pretty good gator attack and avoidance advice: Israel Dupont; Living With Alligators. I heard a rumor somewhere that you can always try to sit on their back and clamp their mouth shut, at which point they are rendered helpless. Er…no thanks, I’ll pass…

Look Closely–On the left-ish side of the photo, you’ll spot a baby alligator, covered in green swamp muck!

Just to let you in on a little Florida Insider information—here in our state, if you see a standing body of water anywhere, including lakes, rivers, drainage ditches, swimming pools and bathtubs, it’s best to just assume there’s a gator in it, because chances are, there is. This little fella moved into the small pond just a few yards away from my house last Spring. I named him Al.

Al, The Neighborhood Gator

For serious nature enthusiasts, there is much, much more to Circle B than just alligators. The reserve’s website boasts of a “tremendous bird population, including a variety of wading birds, waterfowl, ospreys and bald eagles”. For butterfly lovers like me, there are several gorgeous fluttering specimens which may be observed in their natural habitat as well.

And they’re friendly  too…

As if all of this wasn’t enough, the reserve has a very nice, air conditioned Nature Discovery Center which is open Tuesday – Saturday 9AM -4PM and Sunday Noon-4PM. There you’ll find lots of educational information and exhibits, as well as friendly folks who can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about Florida wildlife and wetlands!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit this Florida treasure! You’ll probably want to leave your mouse ears back at the hotel though. I can just hear it now…

Lounging Gator #1: Hey Fred, juicy giant rodent at 3:00!

Lounging Gator #2: You can have him George, that last one gave me heartburn…

Oh, and one more thing…PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED at the Circle B, for obvious reasons!