Monday, March 25, 2019

Romany gals!

Romany gals, won'tcha come out today,
come out today, come out today,
Romany gals, won'tcha come out today,
And dance on Jamaica Bay?

Thanks to Gianni for the photo and Lori G. for getting some folks together for a trip around the Pol!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dead Horse Bay news feature

Note - Reposting this, from a while back, as as soon as I have time to blog again (it's March, always rough) I'm going to be posting about a hike Sebago did here last weekend, and a wonderful afternoon book talk by the author of a really amazing work of historical fiction set in the same area. 

Bonus Dead Horse Bay post:

Yesterday, my friend Jeff K shared a ABC News Feature about Dead Horse Bay in the comments on my post about our Black Friday hike there. I watched the feature last night and had to share. It give details and angles that are quite new to me (for starters, I'd never heard the Robert Moses aspect before, and I never in a million years would've imagined that there was any issue with beachcombing there). It's completely fascinating, and I particularly enjoyed it when a familiar face appeared on screen - there's an appearance by Ranger Lincoln from Floyd Bennett Field, who led the excellent Historic Aircraft Restoration Project tour that Sebago members
joined this summer.

Click here to view.

Thank you so much for sharing this, Jeff! 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Calm Before the Storm Paddle, 3/3

click for a better view. SO calm! I put up more photos from this lovely day in a Flickr album, link at the end of the post.

Well, to use a useful Norwegian phrase Steve the Paddling Chef likes to use - uff da! I've been meaning to do this post on my lunch break since I posted one photo from the paddle midway through last week, but work blew up on me as it tends to do in March and there just weren't lunch breaks, there was just reporting reporting reporting. Anyways, finally home at a decent hour tonight so quick quick, before there's another fun Sebago Canoe Club activity to report (and we have a great one planned for tomorrow, in fact!), here's my March 3rd paddle trip report.

The paddle before, when I went to the airport and watched the planes take off, I ended up going on my own. I decided on an antisocial paddle for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I was just getting over a cold and I really didn't know how my energy level would be. Well, I got on the water and it felt great and I ended up doing another 13 mile paddle, so when I looked at the weather for the 3rd and saw a similarly pleasant and placid weather window in the afternoon before things started kicking up later as the weather that was supposedly going to dump 3 to 5 inches of snow on NYC started moving into the area, I decide to call for pretty much the same paddle. The currents more or less switch directions each weekend, so this time it was going to be better to head out towards Coney Island, but other than that, all the same. 13 miles or so, moving at a steady clip, water/tea/snack breaks in the boats, no shore breaks unless somebody really needed one. Just a good exercise paddle. Move some water under the boat and put some fresh air in the lungs.

I'd posted it the day before and was totally ready to go on my own if nobody could come at such short notice, but it turned out that clubmate Larry and a friend from the Long Island City Community Boathouse had had a Sandy Hook seal paddle fall through on them at the last minute and had decided to go out in Jamaica Bay instead - Mike had only been out on Jamaica Bay once and that had been much earlier in his paddling career, when he'd come to one of our all club invitational day, so he was definitely ready to come see more. Larry saw that I was looking for company and let me know their plans, so we all met up at the club. They hadn't had anything specific in mind ("Just get the blades wet", Mike said), so we went with my plan to just ride the ebb out of the bay and turn around after the flood got going. Their loss in losing out on the seal paddle was my good fortune, it was great paddling with them.

It was absolutely gorgeous. It got up into the low 40's, the wind died down to pretty much nothing by the time we passed the Marine Park Bridge and the lower harbor was an absolute mirror for a while. I was looking and listening for the first oystercatcher of Spring, but if they're here they weren't where we were, but there were some nice winter birds - the usual brants, a pair of grebes just inside the bridge, and then as we got out from under the bridge we started hearing long-tailed ducks calling to each other - we were hugging the shore and they were further out, so I didn't see them, but their three toned, four note call (ha, ha-ha-ha, with the first two notes the same and then raising in pitch) is so distinctive (and quite lovely, to my ear). There were also some loons, no photos of them either but they were easy to spot on the lake-like water and their laughter punctuated the distant longtail calls.

We kept going at a steady pace out to Kingsborough Community College, just outside Sheepshead Bay, pausing there to admire the lower harbor before we headed back. We all had some tea, and Mike brought out some muffins he'd brought along (much better than the Kind Bar I had in my life jacket, so that's back in the snack dish at home), and then we headed back to Sebago.

Mike and I stopped again for a little while just after the bridge - as we were all paddling along, a merganser started to take off, then stopped and settled back onto the water. I thought she'd just decided we weren't that scary after all, but Mike though he'd seen something hanging off of her. We went back to look and she tried to take off again, and sure enough she had some fishing line or something tangled around one of her feet, so we spent a few minutes trying to see if she would let us catch up to her and help her. Well, she wasn't having any of that - she couldn't fly and she couldn't dive as well as a merganser usually can but she had absolutely no problem evading us in our relatively poky boats, and it didn't seem like just chasing her around until she was exhausted was the right way to do it. Sad to leave her like that but I'm friends with one of the Floyd Bennett Field rangers, and there's also a club member who volunteers for Audobon as a wild bird rescuer (I found that out after I posted about finding a poor stunned woodcock on Broadway one night and chasing all over downtown Manhattan trying to find someone to help her, until eventually she recovered enough to just jump up and fly out of the crook of my arm where I'd been carrying her around - Jeff saw my post about that and filled me in on what to do next time I might find a stunned bird, it's unfortunately common in NYC) and I let both of them know about the bird when I got home. At least we tried.

So that was sad, but other than that, another absolutely splendid midrange paddle. This time, about 13.5 miles in 3 and a half hours. Beautiful day, good company, good muffins - can't ask for much more.

Very happy with how the paddling has been going so far this year - hope I can keep at it and pick it up more as the weather warms up and the gear gets less bulky!

More pictures, of course - this time enough that I put them up in a Flickr album. Click here to view, hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, March 06, 2019


OK, there were no oystercatchers on Sunday and it's 22 degrees outside right now but DOGGONE IT, WE GOT DAFFODILS. Come on, Spring!

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Idaho concerns clarified

So I Vaguebooked (vagueblogged?) in my February reading post about being upset by some legislation proposed by a relative who's recently joined the Idaho legislature. I'm working on some month-end close stuff so otherwise probably wouldn't be posting tonight, but I thought I would put up a quick clarification for anyone who wondered what I was going on about.

Click here to read the thing itself, straight from the source. Don't miss the FAQ's, they're charming...apparently they aren't quite ready to put women under house arrest to stop them from getting an abortion in another state (how nice for those with the means to do so, right?) but they can't quite bring themselves to say straight out that no, it's not going to affect birth control - "likely not" is the best they can do.

The good news is that it seems it's not getting considered this year. Just found that out tonight, and I'm quite pleased. They do say they'll give it another shot next year, fingers crossed that it gets the same treatment. 

BTW At least one of these legislators is not a Trump guy, either, I can't speak for Rep. Scott but my relative is smart enough to have figured out Trump for the con that he is pretty quickly. One lesson I am seeing in this is that for all Trump's emboldened the alt-right, him going away wouldn't stop things, in some ways maybe he's just a symptom. I knew that, this just drives it home. Have to keep marching!

Note slightly later: Well, this is disturbing. One of the FAQ's on Rep. Scott's site is: "Is the goal of the AHRA to punish and imprison women for abortions?" And the answer begins: "Not at all." But here's Cousin John addressing his Kootenai County Republican friends. Listen to what he has to say

Note the next day - this was my response to a FB friend wondering how we got here (she'd just shared a interview in which the Florida House Speaker referred to pregnant women as "host bodies" 5 times) - I'm just both startled and sad to find myself saying this: "It's nuts. I've been thinking about how I was raised and the high-quality science-based sex education I got (at an Episcopalian school no less!) and the easy access I had to health care and (when the time came that I chose to become sexually active) birth control and how all of that worked together to let me live life as I chose. And I'm a bit of an odd bird in that I never wanted marriage or kids, so that choice has been SO important. Now my head is just spinning with the idea that -- well, was I raised in the golden age of women's rights?" 

I see what's going on now and I am SO grateful that I was given such freedom. 

Sunday, March 03, 2019

The Paddle In The Calm Before The Storm

Sneak Preview. Glorious afternoon out there.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

February Reading

There's more Florida to come (next up - a really amazing birdwatching day at the Myakka River State Park, shown above) but first, continuing on with my plan to keep track of my 2019 books, here's February's reading:

Barren Island by Carol Zoref: This was a find through the Sebago Canoe Club, one of our members read it and suggested a one-off book club type discussion. I would call it a coming-of-age story, it's about a young girl whose family immigrates to NYC and ends up being part of a tiny community whose men work for a rendering plant on Barren Shoal, a tiny sandbar of a place located off of the real-world Barren Island. An excellent fictionalized slice of history in the years leading up to WW II. PS - excellent teacher character!

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Loved this poetic ode to the life and death of Martin Luther King and the inspiration he left behind, with wonderful illustrations. Teacher friends - Great additional history and suggestions for classroom use at the end. I absolutely inhaled it, as I sometimes do when I'm hypnotized by a book, as I'm writing this I think I need to go back and take a little more time with it sometime. 

Island People: The Caribbean and the World, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro: A travelogue with intensive history. When I went to The Strand to see if they had Barren Island (they did, yay!) this was out on one of the theme tables, and it caught my eye because my Brooklyn neighborhood has a very strong Caribbean presence and I know some pretty remarkable people (friends, co-workers, and one really great boss back in my banking days) whose roots are in the Caribbean, so I have some sense of things I've learned from them, and this looked like a good book for learning more, which It was. It reminded me of Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes in that this someone who's not from a place (in Jelly-Schapiro's intro he refers to himself as "a white kid who'd grown up in snowy New England") but has taken the time to learn about it and now wants to share. It gives an interesting sense of the distinctions between the cultures of the different islands. This one was a slow read, it was interesting going from inhaling Marting Rising to this one, because this is very much a book that says "Slow down, there is a lot to learn here", and whisking over, say, the development of the political parties on an island on one page leaves you somewhat at sea a few pages later. I was able to get myself into the right careful-reading frame of mind fairly quickly though and did learn some interesting things, as I'd hoped. I think the next step would be to go back to that same Strand table and find something by someone who IS from there, for a more local take.

That's NOT what happened by Cody Keplinger: This is the March reading for the Scholastic employee book club. This is a story about 6 school kids who witnessed and survived a school shooting and how they come to terms with the mythology that sprang up in the aftermath - a mythology that left one of them a "hero" and one of them demonized. I'm a WTC survivor so this was, uh, shall we say, a highly accessible premise for me (see also Facebook every September 11th...always interesting feeling the nerves get going at the patriotic memes when it's still so real and personal for me and the myths are a really flattened version of my sense of the day). Loved it, looking forward to the discussion.

Finally - Ruff vs. Fluff by Spencer Quinn. My cousin Michael first told me about Spencer Quinn and then Scholastic started publishing kids' books by him. YAY! Tons of fun, crime stories with kid heroes, told from the point of view of their pets. I loved the Birdie & Bowser books I was able to get my paws on and this new one with Arthur the Dog and Queenie the Cat is also great. And that was February.

Right now I'm nosing around in a book of Grimm's Fairy Tales (not the Disney versions) and then with all of the anti-abortion stuff in the government, including some absolutely horrible legislation a relative who's just joined the Idaho legislature is working with a more experienced rep to try to push through (I've never prayed so hard for family to fail), I'm thinking it might be a good time to revisit The Cider House Rules.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Saturday Paddle to JFK

Saturday paddle to JFK and back. Just what I needed after a rough week - a few hours to myself on a quiet bay. This is exactly what I picture when deadlines collide at work. Such a good feeling to point my bow out from under the Paedergat Basin bridge and know that I didn't have to be back by any particular time except when the sun goes dow. And that time constraint was just because I didn't bring my lights, otherwise there's a good chance this would've turned into a Broad Channel Island circumnavigation.

The mental jangle from the week took a long time to clear, but eventually quieted and I found myself just thinking how good it felt to be in my boat. I pushed along against the ebb, first hugging the shore then following the JFK security zone buoys until I got to the ruined pier that juts out into Jamaica Bay from JFK (not shown here, the structure in the last photo is the old pier at Canarsie Pol, which our resident ospreys will reclaim from the cormorants and gulls in mid-to-late March), then turned around and rode the current home to Sebago.

 Once again, only 2 other boats all day - one motorboat, and one of the Sebago racers doing laps in the Paerdegat. No spring birds yet, and more soft grays than the sparkling blues of some winter days on the bay, but Manhattan still clear in the distance. A winter day that's quiet and warm enough to allow a jaunt like this is truly a gift, and it was just lovely to be out there enjoying it.

Here are some photos from the day - click on any photo for a slideshow view. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Going On An Early Bird Hunt

Still got my usual bit of post-cold asthma cough after last weekend's cold, but it's a beautiful, quiet, and relatively warm day out there so I'm going to go see what kind of a paddle I can manage. It's still February, and I ordinarily see the first oystercatcher of Spring (robins stay in the city all year, so it's oystercatchers that are the harbinger in my book) in March, but a few years back I was with a Sebago hiking group at Jones Beach when we saw one in February. Something to watch for!

This is the unusually elaborate doodle I did after seeing an oystercatcher in the snow one March. It started out as a cartoon on a post-it but then I got a watercolor set and decided to play. Oystercatchers return well before the possibility of the last snow of the year and I always wonder if they're thinking any regretful thoughts about the tropics they just left when the northeast throws some spring snow at them. It does seem like animals handle bad weather way better than we do, but still...

:D />

Evening update: No oystercatchers, just the usual winter mix of brants, buffleheads, and a couple of loons. Very nice paddle though, this time out to the ruined old pier that's attached to JFK airport and back, with a short pause to watch the planes take off and drink some hot tea. 13 miles again - that seems to be my favorite midrange cruise distance this winter! Photos tomorrow. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Frogma in Florida The Rest From Day 4 (not 3, 4) at The Ringling

Well, phooey, I'd had hopes that I would have a President's Day paddle trip report, but a very nasty cold put the kibbosh on that. Fortunately there's more Florida!

The Howard Brothers Circus was, I would say, the main attraction at the Tibbals Learning Center, but the bandwagon above (ever wonder what that bandwagon people are always metaphorically jumping onto looks like? Well, there you go!) marked the entryway to another section, where they had some great interactive and video exhibits about circus life and traditions.

Here's another glorious bandwagon - little dog barking is that Tibbals touch of not just building a thing but telling a story at the same time:

Same bandwagon from out in front, with its 24 horse hitch of magnificent matched grays

And another wagon from the Grand Parade vehicles and marchers up on the 2nd level of the exhibit, where you also get the overview of the full circus model. I was starting to rush a little bit because my sister and I had planned to meet at 4:30 so that we could squeeze in a stop at Trader Joe's on the way "home" to our VRBO, so I didn't get the whole story of how this fits in with the big model on the ground floor, but it was an amazing array of beautifully detailed wagons and floats with musicians and glamorous performers aboard, clowns with pony carts, and assorted attendant marchers. This one just went on and on! Glorious. 
There was lots more to see in the Tibbals Learning Center after this and I put the camera away because the interactive nature of the exhibits made me want to spend my remaining time actually interacting! I fell off the tightrope, I couldn't get my foam stand-in for a human cannonball into the net (note to actual human cannonballs: if I ever apply for a job as your trajectory plotter or whatever it's called, don't hire me), and I didn't even try to squeeze into the replica of the famous clown's tiny clown car (this isn't the gag where a dozen clowns come out of the car, just one extremely tall clown folding himself into a vehicle roughly the size of a Li'l Tykes toy car), so I'm clearly not cut out for the circus - but I did really enjoy all of it. I think my favorite may have been a video of another famous clown (sorry I didn't get names, bad blogger, boo) applying makeup, explaining how each traditional paint marking served a very specific role in helping him telegraph his clowning expressions to the farthest bleacher seats. That was kind of fascinating to me because we all know what a clown looks like, right? But I never thought of why and it was really interesting to hear a professional clown explain it, with so much respect for the tradition he followed.

At 4:30, I went out to meet my sister, and only then realized that OH NO, I had never set foot in the ORIGINAL Circus Museum! The way the Tibbals Learning Center was laid out, I'd thought that it met up with the original, but the minute I stepped outside I saw that the 2 buildings were completely separate. OOPS. Karen had also not realized that (and in fact she'd missed a lot in the Tibbals building without realizing it either, there's just so much to see at the Ringling) so we decided to ditch Trader Joe's and take a quick swing through here. Fortunately the original museum is a little more amenable to a quick run through, with more original circus vehicles, including the prize of the whole collection, the Wisconsin, the Ringling's private rail car. Fun to see, sure looked like a nice way to travel. 

 There's also a great woodcarving shop attached to the museum, where carvers are recreating the same styles of beautiful and whimsical decorations that made the circus's visit so glamorous - beautiful!
Tiger, tiger!

And then over in a space carved out behind the Wisconsin, there are desks for people who help build and maintain the Howard Bros. Circus. What a neat thing to do!

And now this is going out of order a little bit. John and Mable Ringling became great art collectors as the circus' success grew, and that tradition is solidly showcased at the Ringling. In fact, if I make it back there someday, there's an entire art museum for me to see - we did not get on the road very early and by the time we got there, picking and choosing had to be done, and I opted to focus on the circus aspect. However, I did visit one art display, the most newly opened feature at the complex, a gallery of art glass. This was actually just outside of the entryway so we stopped here first. Gorgeous! The first one, the dress, was intended as a meditation on the interplay between clothing and the human form it covers, and I just loved the way the body showed beneath the soft folds of the garment.  

Horse caught my eye because I love horses...

Tons more beautiful and often thought-provoking art there. 

And then of course - also slightly out of order - but LIFE BIRD! It's so funny, I don't think of myself as a serious birder, but I was aware of this "life bird" concept through my real birder friends, and all of the sudden I was very aware of that in Florida. "Life bird" = seeing a kind of bird for the first time. I did just go sneak a google peek to see what the restrictions are and I now know that the smews, whistling swans, and mandarin ducks that I saw at the Prospect Park Zoo last weekend aren't technically, 'cause they were zoo residents, but this pretty little heron is a Tricolor Heron and I had definitely never seen one of those before! This guy, the mergansers (we have those in Jamaica Bay) and the Great Egret were all hanging out in the pond behind the entrance. Because Florida is cool that way. Just wait for Day 5!

For more information about visiting The Ringling, visit 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Florida Day 4 Part 2 - The World's Biggest Miniature Circus!

Still on the grounds of Ca D'zan. We'd gone straight to the mansion for the basic ground floor walk that was included in the price of admission because the timing worked out really well. After that, my sister and I agreed on a meeting time and place and my next stop was the Howard Brothers Miniature Circus, which my friends who'd taken me paddling the day before had raved about over lunch. Valerie had explained how the way it's set up to walked you through the events of a day when the circus comes to town, from the trains pulling in right up through the crowds cheering the amazing feats of daring and antics of the clowns under the Big Top. I had a hard time picturing how this was going to work in a model - a model is static, how is it going to show events unfolding over the course of a day? - but that's exactly what happened!

There's a walkway that runs around the perimeter of the 3,800 square foot exhibit so you're looking more closely at one section at any time. You start out in the train yard where the cars of the circus trains have pulled up and are being unloaded; a sound track hissing steam, the whinnies and clip-clopping hooves of workhorses, and general clangor of a busy rail yard helps set a scene of focused hustle and bustle for your imagination. As you move on around, you see the cook tent, the dining tent (everyone had their assigned seats, with place settings of china and glass), and various other "backstage" tents - this really was a self-contained mobile town, with everything residents would need for their day to day lives.

The townspeople gather on the midway, where they buy cotton candy and balloons, are tempted by the sideshow touts and games of skill, and awed by the strange creatures of the menagerie. The performers dress for the show in the dressing tent and queue up with the show horses and other performing animals for the Grand Parade, while the work horses that will go back to work hauling everything back to the trains at the end of the day rest and munch their feed in their own special tent.

 Every few minutes the "sun" dims and bright electric lights glow in the dusk, making the scene even more magical. Finally it's time for the big show under the Big Top, and one of the many signs describing the scene has you imagining the advance squad of the circus already on their way to the next town on the tour, where they'll plaster the brilliant posters showing the coming delights on every flat surface they can find.

Howard C. Tibbals started building this in 1956 and as far as I can tell he's still working on it - in fact in my next Florida post I'll show some desks where some of that work is being done.

I found an article where Mr. Tibbals shares some thoughts on life and one statement of his directly addressed one thing that really struck me about this amazing model:

"When I first started working on the model, I learned I couldn’t just build a bunch of objects. I had to tell a story. My goal was to show what it was like when a traveling circus came to town." Click here to read more.

He succeeded in that so well - and it isn't even just the overarching story, every scene you see has little vignettes of its own that reward you for spending a little more time there. What an imagination this guy has to dream up all these stories to tell in 3/4 inch to a foot scale! I would definitely go see this again, I went through in a little bit of a hurry because there was more I wanted to see and even at a quick pace there were so many fun little details -- I expect a slower visit would be so rewarding.

All photos from here, click for a slideshow view. I was really missing my Lumix and zoom lens here, I try not to check bags if I can help it and I did manage that for this trip, even with a pretty wide range in the forecast, but when I came down to the last bit of space in the bag, I ended up facing a choice between adding in a better camera (Optio is tiny so that was already in there)  or a shorty wetsuit for paddling. Went with the wetsuit and I was glad but if we do this again (and it was such a great family trip I think there's a good chance of that) I would definitely try to add the better camera. I'm happy enough with the photos I took with the optio but there were a lot of tiny details a little too far away to get with that. Another time, I hope.

For more information about visiting The Ringling, visit

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Frogma Goes to Florida Day 4 - Ca D'Zan, the Ringling mansion in Sarasota

Tuesday and Wednesday were our coldest days in Florida - all the way down in the low 60's (brrr break out the sweaters!), so a great day for some historical house/museum-seeing. Unfortunately our mom had ended up having a bout with food poisoning overnight (pretty sure it was the portobello burger she had for dinner because we'd been doing a lot of sharing of food during the day, that was the only thing she'd eaten that nobody else had tried, and the rest of us were fine), she'd been up all night and although she was through the worst by the time my sister and I were getting up, she was too wiped out for sightseeing, and our dad of course wanted to stick around to keep her company while she recovered. They'd both visited our day's destination, The Ringling, on other trips to visit the old friends whose invitation had brought us to Florida, so of all the things we did while we were there, this was actually probably the best day for them to take a quiet day at the lovely little VRBO on the canal while my sister and I visited John and Mable Ringling's glorious winter home and some related exhibits.

I didn't know ANYTHING about the relationship between Sarasota and the Ringling Brothers, but I do remember that there were 2 things that caught my eye just as we were leaving the airport - a wood stork standing by a drainage pond (5 minutes outside of the airport and already a cool bird!) and then just few minutes later a GIANT CIRCUS BIG TOP! A quick Google tonight after recalling that finds that that's the home of the Circus Arts Conservatory, and this is part of a major tradition in Sarasota, which calls itself The Circus Capital of the World. Hmm, interesting, I googled that too to make sure I was getting the phrase right (I was thinking it might be "of the USA" but then if it's the circus it's gotta be superlative so of course it's OF THE WORLD, duh!) and apparently Peru, Indiana also lays claim to that...well, I'm not going to chase that down tonight but there may be 2 circus-related books I need to read sometime - one about Peru and then a biography of John Ringling. Haven't picked one out yet but I don't think I've ever come away from visiting one of these open-to-the-public historic mansions with near as much interest in learning more about the lives of the people who had it built.

It was just so much fun, over the top, and loudly gorgeous. I bet there were plenty of rich people at the time it was built who looked down their patrician noses at the Ringlings and their Gulfside Italianate palace (I can just imagine some dusty old corners of Old New York sniffing "Hmph! Circus people! Gaudy!") but at the same time all but the snootiest must have had some little corner in their heart that maybe envied the Ringlings for the sheer verve they had in the way they spent their money. Kind of like Malcolm Forbes Sr. used to do with his motorcycles and his hot-air balloons - I do think income inequality is a problem in this country today, but for all that, I have a certain admiration for somebody who has that much just flat-out fun with their money. Not so much "If you've got it, flaunt it" as "If you've got it, ENJOY it". Know what I mean?

The glory days of "The House of John" were long gone when John Ringling passed away, but I'm so glad that the mansion was restored and remains open to the public today. We of course also went to the Circus Museum and the astounding Howard Brothers Circus Model (the world's largest miniature circus) but I'll save those for another day. Here are a few shots of the exterior of Ca D'zan. The roses and the  banyan tree other day were all from the grounds here. Like to read more about the place and how the Ringling Brothers became such a household name? Here's a good piece about that that I found while looking up some stuff for this post. I think you'll see why I'd really like to read a biography of John Ringling - it's quite a story.

Only photos after this, click for a slideshow view. Sadly, no photos allowed inside (worth googling if you're interested though, a search for "Ca D'Zan interiors" will find you plenty). Enjoy these, though!