Tuesday, November 15, 2022

A Different Kind of Shelling at the Sanibel Community House

Many years ago, maybe 20 or so, Hubby and I went to the July 4th parade on Sanibel Island. A float in the parade passed by us and a sweet lady handed me a beautiful little flower made out of seashells. It had a tag on it that said Sanibel Shellcrafters. I was immediately intrigued as you all know my love for seashells! I still have that beautiful simple flower, and have joined this wonderful group, and yes have participated in 2 parades walking with the float and handing out Shellflowers that I have made!! I have probably been an active member about 7 or 8 years now...(that's just a guess) As a member of this group, we have a group email, and I received one of these emails when we were on our way down to Fort Myers. It was from the director of the Sanibel Community House, (this is where we shellcrafters meet every week, and all of the proceeds from the crafts we make go directly to them.) The email asked if anyone nearby could come and store some of the products the Shellcrafters had made in an Air Conditioned place. They were able to save quite a few arrangements and Crafts, and felt like they needed to be stored in a safe place as the Community House took about 5 foot of water inside during Hurricane Ian. A lot was lost, but a lot was saved also!  I contacted her and offered our guest bedroom to store these treasures. So she came by on Saturday and picked me up and took me to there....

The drive there was very similar as it used to would never guess that this causeway was broken in 5 places!!

They continue working on it daily....

Coming onto the island is instantly very different, no longer the lush green tropical paradise we all know in love.

Most of the tall vegetation is gone and what is left is thin and brown. I actually just sat there looking at it all, and didn't think to take pictures! I had seen so many on facebook and from friends, it truly looks like a war zone, except for the fact that there is work going on EVERYWHERE! I have wanted, ever since Ian hit to come down here and help....anyway I could! Just help!

So Teresa (the director of the Community House) took me there, from the outside it isn't readily apparent of the damage inside, there are a few tarps on the roof, vegetation around it is also in bad shape....

But inside is a different story....

This is the front part of the community house, the historical part, so it doesn't have the standard concrete pad, it had pillars and Hardwood floors that all had to be removed, they are trying to save as much of the original building as possible and restore it!

This is looking at the front door ( the historical area is to my left) as you can see the sheet rock has been removed above the water line....

Looking toward the kitchen...

These are the Shellcrafters supply racks, shells, projects people were working on, supplies....they have worked very hard to save all they could, keep in mind, it was salt water from the gulf that came in here, so they have been cleaning everything! What a job!

A lot of the completed crafts were on shelves above the waterline, we carefully loaded those into containers and then into Teresa's car...
then into my house...

There were a lot saved, now safely stored in my guest room. 

Teresa has been very short handed as several people had to quit due to losing their homes, so I offered to help all I could, and she accepted! So finally I get to contribute! She has picked me up all this week to take me out for the day(you have to have a hurricane pass to go onto Sanibel, only given to residents, business owners and contractors). 

My job is not glamorous but I believe it's helping. I have been working on the Shell Fossils that were stored in an outer building...which we affectionately call the garage.. 

It looks like the water got much higher in here as it is lower in the parking lot.... It's hard to see, so I put a red line on the water line here above my head (I'm about 5'8)! 

It apparently got this deep and then went down to about 4 feet and stayed at that level for a while

These fossils were stored on these shelves, in cardboard boxes, in these bags...if you look closely, you can see that the water stopped just short of the top shelf...look at the difference in the bags!

The bags on the lower shelves still have sea water in them, notice the containers on the left (next to top shelf) are still full of water!

My job is to pull each one out, and clean them to get the sea water off of them, it is toxic so 2 layers of tall gloves is a must!

and we found out that each shell is in a ziplok bag!! so it's very time consuming and it's important to be careful with these shells!

There's no power or water inside so we are working outside, I found a nice shady palm tree to work under....

So this is the shelling I'm doing this time, I hope to work a few more days, then back up North around Thanksgiving. 

If you want to help, they sure could use all they can get!! Contact the Sanibel Community House!!

Stay tuned!

::Shelllady Hugs::

Sunday, November 13, 2022

A Little work and Play...

We had another Hurricane....Have you heard? Nicole (Cat 1 for a short time) came in on the East Coast and then turned North, adding insult to injury to Florida. We saw very little, a day or so of off and on rain and a little wind. So again, we were lucky here! We got the garage door fixed, it was only minor. I worked on getting the cardboard boxes out and replaced them with plastic boxes and cleared half the garage of stuff....and Hubby got it cleaned up while I was on a shelling trip!! So we are progressing back to normal pretty quickly. 

We also celebrated our 25th Anniversary, we weren't able to head out to Sanibel, where we went for the first time on our honeymoon... but we are close! It was a nice quiet day, we spent it together and then went out for a nice meal at one of our favorite restaurants! Perfect!!

Before I came down, I found out from Jolene that she had booked a shelling trip to Keewaydin on Veteran's Day. Keewaydin is an island that is reached by boat, from Marco Island, about and hour south of Fort Myers. So I called and booked it too, I barely got in as the boat was full! We've been on this trip before, but following the latest 2 hurricanes, Ian and Nicole, we were hoping that the shelling would be great! We stay out of the water, as the water is full of bacteria from the storms, but there is a lot of beach to shell!!!

We book with the Hemingway Water Shuttle, great company, Family operated business and

I highly recommend them if you ever have the opportunity! They start out at Rose Marina in Marco, a BEAUTIFUL morning...

and It's just a short ride to the island...

This is Jack, the first Mate....He greets everyone as they board, and is the first on and off the boat!!

There were several areas like this with just clusters of have to look very carefully so you don't miss any treasures, 

Everyone tends to rush to the same area, so I usually find my self rushing through...I finally slowed down and began to find stuff...Like this Alphabet Cone peeking out of a pen shell...

and this colorful Nutmeg! Look how dark it is!!

There were several live shells also, we don't take live shells, so it's important to check this BEAUTIFUL Rose of my favorites!!
But Alas, it was alive....

So into the Gulf it went!

But it paid off! I found this one also!!!

and it was not alive!!!! Wahoo!!! Score!

This Horse Conch, my favorite size, was hugging onto this pen shell, obviously alive...
But this one was not!! Score...again!!
I tried to save this little Pygmy Octopus, but I don't think he will make it, there was very little movement but I did get him into the water.

Another great find of the day, and a first for me is this Cabrits Murex!!

It has a small hole in it, but if you look closely it's still a little pink on the top! This is what they look like. I'm tickled with it, it will be kept someplace special!

Here are all the finds for the day! 

and my Favorites....
From the left, A Florida Cone, Rose Murex, Cabrits Murex, Lace Murex and Horse Conch, at the bottom is a mini Alphabet cone! Some who have been since the storm, including Jolene said it was not as lucrative this trip as it has been, but I can't complain... after all, it's beach therapy!

Stay Tuned!

::Shelllady Hugs::


Monday, November 7, 2022

Post Hurricane Ian

I am finally back at our paradise in Fort Myers. It has been over a month since Hurricane Ian came through here. I have to say, we are so very lucky and feel very blessed. Our place lost LOTS of shingles, some siding, and we had river water in our garage....only up to the first step. No water in the house. We have a cracked window and our garage door needs some work. We still have all our belongings, we just have some cleaning up to do, a window to replace and a garage door to fix. Again, we are very lucky....Our neighbors did a lot of the work for us, since we weren't here....Neighbors helping Neighbors....I'm hearing a lot of that in all of this.

My heart is aching for so many others here....I have many friends who have lost absolutely everything, all their belongings, cars....but they all have been so resilient, ready to tear things out and start over. If you know me, I'm a fixer, I just want to fix it all for them, obviously I can't, but I'm going to do what I can, whatever that may be. Our beloved Community House took quite the hit as well, It has been gutted and walls removed and ready to start again. Some of our Shellcrafter supplies and things we made were saved, but so many of my friends, the workers may not be able come back, and if we do, when? The Shell Show has been canceled for this year, and so many are just trying to make their homes a home again, a place to live and a place to start over. I'm afraid some won't, they may just walk away, broken hearted! My heart just aches for them all. Hoping they can find that something special among the rubble to give them some hope....any hope! I've spent a lot of time messaging and/or talking with them, trying to find the words....of comfort,

This part of Florida will come back, but it will never be the same, I just have to believe it will come back better ....and stronger!

I have a blog buddy, who I have never met in person, we follow each others blogs and have communicated for years... he talked about the loss of paradise in his last post (RC is Me), the whole post really spoke to me but especially his last paragraph:

"So for all of you that may be feeling a little like paradise is lost at the moment remember those memories that made you fall in love with her in the first place.  While none of us will be here forever the memories we pass down can.  Given time to recover and heal she’ll welcome us back again."

I'm sure I will have some adventures to share while I'm here, I will keep you posted....Until them, hug your loved ones, and appreciate every thing around you!!

::Shelllady Hugs::

I took these on Sanibel, my last day there in August...something told me to turn around and take these pictures.... 

This is borrowed from a post on facebook, taken since Ian....

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Apple picking in SW Florida

 Hey there everyone! I know, I know it's been a very long time since my last post. Let me just say that life got in the way, and this is the day before we head back to Virginia, so it will be a while before the next!! I'll try to do better, I promise!!

Jolene and I decided to go find some Apple Snails & Ramshorn shells, based on a trip a friend of ours took recently, and found a nice stash of both. I've been only once, and it was on a walking path and only found Apple Snails, and to be honest, I didn't even know that Ramshorn shells were something from around here! ...They are freshwater snails, not in the Gulf. This is real life Apple know, along ponds, in the boonies, as our friend put it, very little to no shade, no bathrooms, very little breeze...HOT, while watching for gators and snakes,  Let me just say, we saw neither, and were very careful to stay in areas without tall grass and along the ponds where the water is clear! It's about an hour drive from my house in Fort Myers. It was pretty but very secluded so I recommend you take a friend!

Like anything else I do, it takes me a bit to "see" these guys, in fact, Jolene noticed them before I did!! We walked right by a few in the grass!

They also are floating in the edge of the water...

Of course, I went and got some highly recommended 'tools' by our friend....I'm not reaching down and grabbing these guys with my hands!!! They are mostly muddy and gooey and can contain ants & spiders are known to crawl inside!

Jolene and I both filled up a 2 gallon bucket twice....

and unloaded them into a 5 gal bucket we each brought and left in the car.  The Ramshorns were a little more of a challenge, first, they aren't as abundant and they hide, mostly buried.... I circled one in this pic...

They don't look like much here, but they clean up to be do the apple snails, so many different colors!

here are the ramshorns all cleaned up!

Here are some in my hand to give you a size reference....of course the size varies, but we were looking for the biggie apples!

If this is something you want to try, you should realize that each individual shell has to be rinsed inside and out to get rid of the mud and gunk....and you will be a mess too by the time your done, and you have to clean EACH ONE....something to consider when you get this many!!! LOL!

We didn't see any gators or snakes, but Jolene picked up what she called "Beggar Leeches" which she had to pick off her shelling socks....I wasn't lucky enough to find any of those!!! It's a lot of fun that everyone should try at least once!!! 

I know, what will I do with these?? I'm thinking of trying to paint some cool designs on them....we'll see how it goes!! I'll keep you posted!

I may post one more time right away with pics from my trip this time....the shelling not great but the beach therapy is always amazing! 

Stay Tuned!

::Shelllady Hugs::