You might not be a native, but your landscaping can be!

We all want our gardens, whether we have a multi-acre spread or a pot on the balcony, to scream FLORIDA!
Well, here’s local folks to help, and to get native plants from. And their advice is wise, easy to get, and free. It’s available one day only, though.

Courtesy gulfcoasthomeguide,com
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Gonna make me some per-loo

You can’t get more Florida Pioneer than making some pilau (pronounced “per-loo”) for dinner, supper, or a get-together potluck.

So what, you might well ask, is pilau? It’s really any meat and rice dish, and here’s what some historic figures have to say about it:

In the 18th century, naturalist William Bartram wrote of eating squab “made in pilloe with rice” while he was traveling through South Carolina. Of course he hadn’t gotten to Florida yet, but I daresay there were more cooks in South Carolina than in Florida at that time. And all that good Southrn cooking found a welcome home in Florida!

“Pilaus,” wrote Florida author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in 1942, “are almost a sacred Florida dish. No Florida church supper, no large rural gathering, is without it. It is blessed among dishes for such a purpose, or for a large family, for meat goes farther in a pilau than prepared in any other way.”

Pilau is truly an international dish just as Florida is the place where all nations meet: there are Ugandan, Kenyan, Indian recipes readily available online or in your favorite cookbook. What’s so wonderful about it, besides stretching the meat as Rawlings mentioned, is that you can make it your own. Some folks call it pilaf (well, I admit I did before I got to Florida), and some folks use poultry (see Bartram’s remark above), some use beef, sausage, pork.

I can never decide so I use chicken AND sausage. Over in St. Augustine they make a Minorcan version with shrimp and datil peppers. You can even start with a rotisserie chicken from the market (although I wouldn’t.)

You can even say it in your choice of pronunciation. Or call it paella, risotto, jambalaya.

Just don’t call me late for supper!

“Learn everything good and throw away the bad”

We’ve spent the last several years comparing the COVID-19 pandemic to the 1918 Spanish flu* and people have been complaining about tearing down buildings since, well forever. (What was there before they built the Colosseum? Kew Gardens? The Great Wall of China?) Have we never had a boom/bust cycle before in the History of Mankind** and what will we learn about soaring land prices this time around?

Now we’re in the midst of ever more expensive gas. Might they lead to shortages as in the early 70’s? Click to read more about how those shortages actually changed America.

Of course, nothing’s ever exactly the same… but every little insight we have by learning from history will help us cope, correct, and withstand future events. Keep on learning.

* Yes it wasn’t Spanish but that’s what it was called when it happened.
** Okay, Humankind.

Wouldn’t a new History Center be WONDERFUL?!

“Your penny at work.” That’s the slogan of the campaign asking voters to approve, in November 2022, a continuation of the county 1% sales tax. Many wonderful things have been financed by this income since it was first authorized in 1989, but never before has the history of our county been addressed. Understandably, we history lovers would be thrilled if some of that tax income could give a state-of-the-art home to not just the actual history archives (which is part of the county library system), but public space for gatherings and perhaps even exhibits. While the vote is not on how the funds will be spent… we need to vote for the “penny tax” to be renewed so that funds are available. Continue reading for a message from the President of the Historical Society of Sarasota County:

A “Common Cents” initiative that all friends of history can endorse

Since 1989 when it was first adopted by voters of Sarasota County, the 1% sales tax has improved the quality of life for everyone. The tax has been used to invest in schools, libraries, parks, water, the environment and more. 

The tax is up for a vote again in November of 2022 and all friends of history are excited about it because one of the priority investments is a new 30,000 square-foot History Center, which will be the repository for all our precious documents, maps, photographs and objects that are central to understanding and honoring the history of our county.  This is the first time that our history has been directly addressed with the one-cent surtax. 

 At the Historical Society of Sarasota County, we say it’s about time. Anyone who has recently visited  our center for archival material, realizes that it’s been too small for too long. It’s time we treated our history with the respect it has always deserved. 

We support the extension of the one-cent surtax and are looking forward to a new History Center. 

Marsha Fottler, President

For complete information from the county government on the penny surtax and how it could be spent, including FAQs and other projects being considered, see https://www.sarasotacountysurtax.net/

A question that nags at all Floridians, native or new.

A nagging question that I never really articulated… but the answer popped up on my internet browsing one lazy Sunday afternoon:

Are flamingos really native to Florida, and if so, why don’t I ever see them?

Well, it turns out, I just wasn’t looking hard enough. Details? Lots.

A sight I hope to yet see. Credit Courtesy Jerry Lorenz / Audubon of Florida

John James Audubon himself saw flamingos in 1832 near Indian Key, an island off Islamorada, in the Upper Keys.

Far away to seaward we spied a flock of Flamingoes advancing in “Indian line,” with well-spread wings, outstretched necks, and long legs directed backwards. Ah! reader, could you but know the emotions that then agitated my breast!

Flamingos as Tourist Center Motivators

Is the flamingo your spirit animal? (I promise, I am not rolling my eyes. I lie.)

Flamingo Plastic Taxidermy.

Flamingos have been made into chandeliers, poolside beverage coolers, and ceiling fan pulls. I saw one as a carousel “horse” and another as a toilet paper roll holder. Flamingos are happy birds.

For a much wittier “look” (well, “listen”, it’s a podcast) here’s the incomparable Craig Pittman talking with flamingo researcher Tony Pernas.

So, I guess it’s as simple as ABC… Flamingos are as native as you and me!

Bertha’s Been Busy Baking Brownies

Kate Holmes as Bertha PalmerOne of our most popular “spokespersons” from the Speakers’ Bureau at HSoSC is Bertha Palmer, here shown as presented by Kate Holmes. Having done over 300 appearances as “The Queen of Chicago/ Sarasota’s Legendary Lady”, Kate tells us that the two most-asked questions she gets are “Where did you get that great dress?” (Answer: On the Internet of course!) and “Can I have the recipe for Bertha’s most famous invention, the Palmer House Brownie?”

So here’s the brownie recipe. Kate says the secret’s the apricot glaze, so don’t skip that step.

BTW, you CAN get Bertha’s Brownies at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago… or, if you’re very lucky, your local group/ club/ HOA will invite Bertha to appear before your group and one of your members could be talked into baking these! (Save one for “Bertha” to take home for her hubby…)

US FLAG – Half Mast

Half mast flag on a fixed pole at the Historical Society of Sarasota CountyYour Historical Society will be putting our flag at the proper half-mast whenever we have a proclamation to do so. We have purchased the black ribbon to put on our flag to be doing it correctly.

FAQs on flying the US flag at half-mast

How to fly your flag at Half Staff depends on what sort of flag pole you are using

When raising the flag to half staff on a vertical pole, always raise it briskly to the top of the flagpole for a moment before lowering it. When taking it down for the night, raise it to the top of the flagpole again & lower it to the bottom.

With a telescoping flag pole it is acceptable to put the USA flag on the second set of rings instead of the top set. In this case the top set would be left empty.

When the United States flag is flown at half-staff, State & other flags should be removed or flown at half-staff too.

For flags that can’t be lowered, such as those on many homes including our historic Bidwell-Wood House, the American Legion says that attaching a black ribbon or streamer to the top of the flag is an acceptable alternative. The ribbon should be the same width as a stripe on the flag and the same length as the flag.

Photo from here.