Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Open MRI

To show you what I meant by "Home Office," here is one also on Sunset Drive in South Miami. This medical practice's office is occupying what clearly was a single home. There are many like this on this street. Now take a close look at the convertible car passing by. That's a Honda 2000. The driver is a woman and she's on her cell phone. This drives me nuts!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Camaro RS

Look at this shiny classic American muscle car, a Camaro RS (i.e. Rally Sport.) This car must be of either 1967 or 1968 vintage and it is obviously restored to the hilt. During that time period, the size of the engine is specified in cubic inches, and this one has 327 cubic inch of displacement inside its cylinders. A car kept this well, if sold, can demand a hefty sum of cash. Curiously, it has a California license plate in the front and that is unusual. In Florida, automobiles are only required to carry a rear license plate. Unless this car has a Florida plate in the rear, it cannot be driven here legally. What you see across this parking lot are the Datran centers One and Two. If you pay attention to the reflections in this car, you can make out the silhouette of South Miami's Dadeland Village.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A. scholaris III and IV

I felt the urge to check on the Alstonia scholaris trees in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) and returned, probably a week or two too late. The seed pods have all but gone on both trees. However, the ground around the bigger tree is a fertile place for a seed hunt. If you know what to look for, and that is tiny brown grain sized seeds with furry hair at both ends, you can find them. I got a handful and they are now safely awaiting germination under a well drained moist soil, about 5mm deep. If all goes well, small baby A. scholaris will emerge in about 3 weeks. I am determined to grow an A. scholaris, and it will be done.

On this trip to FTBG, I found two more Dita bark trees at the entrance of the garden! I may be the only person in Miami who knows that there are four A. scholaris here. Obsession does pay off, don't you agree? This shot is taken at about 10 AM and you can see that the tree to the right still has long seed pods. The one on the left is adjacent to the fence and the scent of its flowers at midnight should be pervading this area in October. The beautiful broad leaves in the foreground are that of the Monstera deliciosa, a creeping vine native to tropical rainforests of southern Mexico south to Colombia. This plant has long corn-like fruits that, when ripe, taste like a cross between banana and pineapple. I had Monstera deliciosa living on my oak trees and I used to eat their fruits one row at a time: delicious!
Hoa Sua III and IV

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Couroupita guianensis

This cannonball tree is in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. It is in its peak and has many flowers that are very beautiful and pleasantly fragrant. Couroupita guianensis, whose common names are Ayahuma and the Cannonball Tree, is an evergreen tree native to tropical northern South America and to the southern Caribbean. After setting, it produces many brown cannon-ball-like fruits. Cannonball Tree flowers do not have nectar, and these flowers are mainly pollinated by carpenter bees in search of pollen. In its native environment, the mature fruits fall from the tree, crack open when they hit the ground, often causing the sound of a small explosion.

Amazingly, many if not all the exotic flora have inherent medicinal properties used by the local inhabitants and often confirmed by scientific research. The Cannonball Tree is known to possess antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic and analgesic qualities. It is believed to be useful for colds and stomach aches. Juice made from the leaves is used to cure skin diseases, and tree parts can treat malaria. The inside of the fruit can disinfect wounds and young leaves ease toothache. My plan is to come back here, get a few cannonballs and drop them from a high coconut tree to hear the loud bang they make. That would be fun. But inhale or ingest any part of this tree to cure disease I may have is probably not something I would do.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Miami Dolphin

Sorry if you are confused. I am not talking about the Miami professional football team. They are the "Miami Dolphins," and they are NOT this fish. The fish you see here is in the Mariner Seafood in South Miami. It is on Red Road (SW 57thh Avenue) just a block south of Sunset Drive. If you want to have excellent fresh stone crab or fresh fish and you live in Miami, you must come here. Now about the fish you see, its common English name of dolphin causes much confusion. Kids, when they are told to eat dolphin, they all think they are asked to eat "Flipper" and they would refuse to do so. This fish is not related to the marine mammals also known as dolphins (family Delphinidae, aka "Flipper.") There are two species of dolphinfish: the common dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) which is this fish; and the pompano dolphin (Coryphaena equiselis). Both these species are commonly marketed by their Pacific name, mahi-mahi. Mahimahi means very strong in Hawaiian. Note that the hyphen is not used, which is the original spelling of this excellent fish to eat. In Miami, almost every restaurant serves this fish and I love to have it in a sandwich. This fish is beautiful swimming in the blue ocean out in the Gulf Stream. Its colors are dazzling: golden on the sides, and bright blues and greens on the sides and back. Sadly, once it is caught and off the water, almost immediately the colors vanish to become a dull greenish color. This fish like to swim in large group and that is a great sight to see.

Friday, February 24, 2012


TGIF is well known for Thank God It's Friday. It's Friday and Scott's Landing in Coconut Grove is getting crowded. Here are the docks where customers are picked up or dropped off for lunch at the popular open air restaurant. Life is so tough in Miami, don't you think?
Boat Docking

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Home Office

Sunset Drive, equally known as Southwest 72nd Street, is an east-west street in Miami. Sunset Drive has been declared a scenic drive in South Miami and recently given an additional name to honor Marjory Stoneman Douglas, an American journalist, writer, feminist, and environmentalist; well known and respected defender of the Florida Everglades. West of US-1, it used to be zoned only for private homes (residential area) but for a few blocks, zoning changes allowed the former homes to be converted into office space. Many of these offices provide medical services. Do you see the mango trees in bloom in the background? The mango season has officially started. Yeah!
Residential Office

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Graduate

This Alfa Romeo is spotted in Coconut Grove, near the Scotty's Landing restaurant. This is not quite a classic automobile, but close. Its year must be sometime between 1985 and 1990 and must be at least 20 year old. This is the third series of the famous Italian Spider cars, the first of which appeared in 1966, assembled by the fame Pininfarina in Grugliasco. The Spiders ceased production in 1993.

This car has a very interesting history, and it bears a very distinctive name "Graduate." If you are a movie fan, this name may ring a bell and you may remember the 1967 movie "The Graduate." In this movie, the main character Ben (played by Dustin Hoffman) drove the first series Alfa Romeo Spider. The first Spider car, the Duetto was designed by Battista "Pinin" Farina, founder of Pininfarina. In 1967, a Spider cost US $3,950! In the movie "The Graduate," Dustin Hoffman's Spider ran out of gas on the highway.

Fast forward to the 80's, in the US, a Spider model dubbed the Graduate was added in tribute to the car's famous appearance in the 1967 film, The Graduate. It is that car that you see here. The Graduate was intended as a less expensive "entry-level" Alfa Romeo in production 1985 - 1990.
Mrs. Robinson

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I'm In Love

I think I'm in big trouble... because I think I'm in love! Last night, I couldn't sleep... and all night I thought about a new love that I met yesterday... I can't wait to go there again to try a new taste. Her name is Yogurt Bar, and I met her at Menchie's.

I never paid any attention to Yogurt until my curiosity made me go inside Menchie's. While inspecting the different flavors available, I asked for a sample and I am now hooked! I've got to have her... I'll go there tomorrow. It's Sweet Coconut, the third dispenser from the left. So yummy...

My plan is to get about 8 ounces in a fresh waffle bowl... No topping, please! Now let's see: Serving Size: 1/2 Cup; Calories: 168, Total Fat: 0.5g, Carbs: 37g, Protein: 4g... What the heck, it's only 300 calories and 1g of fat... I can handle that. Let's go! Wait a minute... 8 times US $.44 = $3.52 + $1.00 for the waffle bowl = $4.52 + 7% tax = OMG, it's $4.83 ... Help!
Sweet Coconut

Monday, February 20, 2012

Coconut Grove Arts Festival

Today is the last day of the 49th Annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival scheduled for February 18 - 20 of this year. Because this is US' Presidents Day holiday (George Washington's birthday,) many have the day off and the Arts Festival is jam packed. I was thoroughly impressed with many of the art displays. The Coconut Grove Arts Festival is among the best of Miami’s annual arts and cultural events. It has more than 150,000 visitors each year who come to see and buy the works of over 330 artists who come from many countries. Many are oh so talented and their works of art have price tags in the tens of thousands of dollars. Beautiful, creative and some exquisite, many are quite expensive but their displays are truly a feast for the eyes that is well worth the admission price which was $10.
Coconut Grove

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Miami Weekend

This is a typical look at the light traffic early morning on a weekend in South Miami. This is Sunset Drive at SW 62nd Avenue. It is now the trend for bicyclists to rule the streets here on weekends and thankfully, motorists do look out for them and do not run them over, knock on wood! The driver of the car on the left clearly is going to park and ride the bike that it carries. And... of course you see an expensive convertible. It's the norm here.

The new yellow building just behind the Executive National Bank is a medical office building. It's full of medical doctors of all walks of life. Baptist Health conglomerate is taking over South Miami. The pink building on the right is part of it. The last modern white building on the left is at the metro rail station. It has been mostly empty for years and now it has a new tenant. Guess whose name is on it: Baptist Health. Remember... if you are in or you live in the US, try not to have any serious illness. It will break your banks.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Farmers' Market

I managed to get to the South Miami Farmers' Market this morning. This is in the parking lot of South Miami's City Hall, on Sunset Drive. At about 9:30 AM, there wasn't a lot of activities and I am not sure if it will get much more crowded. To be perfectly honest with you, I can't tell these products from the ones I see in the grocery supermarkets except these look smaller. The sign says "local organic produce." There were return customers who come here regularly to buy so this seems to be a small friendly community. To belong, I bought a coconut from a man with a tiny stall. He had a long machete with which he chopped open the coconut he sold to me with a straw to drink from. Let me tell you... I don't think this coconut is any different from the ones I had from my backyard although the sign says "organic." The price was US $3.00 but I think it's worth it because I do not want to climb my coconut trees today to get a nut to drink. There wasn't much inside to drink... perhaps a small cup... may be it's really organic, come to think!
Local Organic Produce

Friday, February 17, 2012

Street BBQ

This is a very small scale street vendor. His chicken and rib smell delicious, but do not look too reassuring. I almost bought a piece from him, but my instinct told me to walk away... which I did. Good thinking!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Strongylodon macrobotrys

I had this beautiful jade vine for quite a few years then it was killed by a nasty cold spell. Every now and then, I look at the place where it lived with the hope that somehow it has returned... and here it is today! Of course I am kidding... this is tog's Strongylodon macrobotrys. Only he can grow this vine this way. But you wait and see... someday mine will resurrect.
Jade Vine

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It didn't take long for Miami to return to its habitual "hot" weather. Today is actually hot! The thermometer is supposed to climb to the 80's and may be we'll have a mini "cold" front on Sunday to drop the reading to the "great" 50's. It's more like it, and I like it.

But look what was in the sky this morning: a jet trail! Do you know what it's called? Contrail, short for condensation trail. Jets flying in high altitude leave white trails, called contrails, in their wakes. The simple reason is purely physical, the same as we see our breath on a cold day... like a few days ago in Miami, which, mercifully is not too often. The hot and humid exhaust jet engines mixes with the low pressure and cold high altitude atmosphere condenses and freezes to form a cloud exactly like what you see in the photo below. But... wait a minute...

What about chemtrails? That's an abbreviation for chemical trails. In 1996, a "chemtrail conspiracy" theory was started and it held that some trails left by aircraft are actually chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for purposes undisclosed to the general public in clandestine programs directed by government officials. The accusers said that the US Air Force was the culprit, "spraying the US population with mysterious substances" from aircraft "generating unusual contrail patterns." Behind this was a pipe dream of mastering the weather to gain advantage in a war. Yeah rite! I think that's bunk! You can't ever, ever control the weather. Dream on! As it is the case with conspiracy theories, there was a song composed for this phenomenon. It was called "Chemtrails" by Beck. "Chemtrails" was premiered by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 on May 19, 2008. It was available to download on June 22, 2008, and a day later in the United States in his album called Modern Guilt. The lyrics are typical and it says "I can't believe/What we've seen outside/You and me/Watching the jets go by..." This song is not that good so I won't bother to let you hear it here.

What I see beyond this contrail is the two mango trees. A Zill in the foreground and a Haden in the background. I am salivating just looking at the flowers on the Haden and can't wait until June... The Zill looks like it needs some cheering to push out more blooms... Go Zill!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

High Noon

On this special day of love and kisses, there is a fierce battle going on in the streets of South Miami. You can see it right here at high noon. Mud has been flying in the political battle scenes of the city of South Miami for a while and today is the day of reckoning: the citizens of South Miami are going to the poll to vote and elect a mayor and two city commissioners.

The odd is fifty-fifty for the mayoral job (two opposing candidates) and five candidates hustling for the two available seats: that's high level political drama at work. I don't know why, but all elections in the US take place on Tuesdays. Why Tuesdays? Why not on weekends? And today of all days when people I am sure would prefer to share heart-shaped chocolate with a lover than to go cast a ballot.

Looking at this, you may be able to have a feel for the effort to get elected in the US. This is a tiny local race but all these signs and posters and the people to carry them outside the voting place are a must have to have a chance to win . Very colorful, don't you think? Wait until Tuesday (yes, it's Tuesday) November 6th of this year. It's the BIG one: the US president job is at stake then.
Vote for Me

Monday, February 13, 2012

Get Off That Cell

I really want to get off this subject, but I can't help it... while driving around Miami. It seems like every other person has the cell phone glued to his/her ear in dense traffic! I was next to this white car and we were waiting for the light to turn left. I was very nervous watching this woman who was on her cell the entire time. She had no idea that there are other cars surrounding hers, let alone that there is a guy to her left who was petrified that she will turn her car into his!

There was/is a drive making it illegal to use cell phones inside automobiles. Where is that petition? I'll sign it in a minute. Call the police, call 911... Arrest this insane person... or better, fine her a thousand dollars on the spot! Hand me my shotgun...
Miami Drivers

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Miami Cold Dawn, Very Very Cold

This morning, I was foolish enough to be up and out at 6 AM, braving the 48 degree F weather of Miami, feeling like -20 with the wind chill factor to get to Key Biscayne. To do what? Well, to catch this Miami dawning. You probably have a hard time to believe it but that's true. This is a view due East from the entrance to the Rusty Pelican restaurant in Key Biscayne that parallels the Rickenbacker Causeway, the only road to feed the island that is Key Biscayne from Miami. The body of water in view was used for boat racing at the now defunct Miami Marine Stadium. Now sail boats are allowed to anchor in this water at a fee, I am sure. The sun was still under the horizon and I was too frozen to wait for it to peek out. I went back home and resumed my sleep and unthawed. Too darned cold for me, not good... but this weather may be what my longan trees need.

Did you notice the two bright yellow streaks of light on the right? They were the head lights of my car that was parked there.
Miami Dawn

Saturday, February 11, 2012


It's getting ugly outside and I am not getting out of my house today, now that I already sneaked out quickly to take this shot. This cold front is here and the temperature is dropping steadily. It's down to 68 degrees Fahrenheit now from a balmy 72 just a few hours ago and it will get down to be 48 tonight. The photo is that of my Ok Rong mango tree in its best behavior with full bloom. With this cold front that arrives just at the right time, I think we'll have lots of Ok Rong mango in July. What I am watching is my longan trees. They need to have temperatures at or below 68 degrees Fahrenheit to fruit. All the trees are flushing out new growths and it is going to be below 68 degrees F, just what the doctor ordered. If the new leaves decide to make longan flower buds, I'll let you know. All my friends are counting on that.
Cold Front

Friday, February 10, 2012

My One And Only

We have a cold front coming tomorrow and today, a big but brief precursor storm dumped a lot of water then it quickly dissipated, leaving behind this beautiful rainbow in the sky. At 3PM, the sun is still high in the sky so the rainbow's top is pretty low. Do you know that a rainbow is a very private and personal object that belongs to only one person, the observer? This rainbow, although you can see it in this photo, was my personal rainbow. It was my one and only. Even if you were standing next to me, you would have seen your own rainbow that would have nothing to do with this one of mine. Figure that, your own rainbow.
My Rainbow

Thursday, February 9, 2012


In my blog, how many times did I tell you that Miami's automobile (and motorcycle too) drivers are very very bad? Today, I want to add another very to become very , very, very bad drivers. Look what happened to the left side of this car! Another young driver (should I say female???) made a big dent like this using the right front end of her car. Of course she was very upset and claimed that she was hit by this car. She was making a left turn into this car, and in Florida, making a left turn has to yield the right of way. You think that young person knew that? I think the probability of that is quite low.
Bad Drivers

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


The Ficus mysorensis I showed you before is no longer. It's a pity! I did not notice but since May of last year, this tree was already in trouble in the way it listed to the left. The reason being it was affected with a serious rot inside its core. Because the danger of this tree that may be toppled in high wind, it was cut down! You can imagine the amount of work involved to reduce that beautiful tree to the state it is today. You can now see the large hollow space inside its trunk. Soon, the entire root structure and the remaining stump will be disposed of by a thorough grinding job. Good bye beautiful tree. Rest In Peace!
Good Bye Tree

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

School Zone

Today's morning is wet due to scattered early showers. Forecast calls for rain on and off the entire week this week. The local weather service is getting pretty good and they are generally quite reliable. This is traffic at about 8:30 AM on Red Road (SW 57th Avenue) where it intersects Old Cutler Road a bit further down. There are a couple of schools here and the speed limit is 15 MPH (miles per hour) enforced by the presence of this police officer in red rain gear directing traffic. The Northbound side on the left is congested and the commuters are getting to work at the University of Miami or downtown Miami, which is a long and slow drive away. If you don't know Miami, you may want to learn that we heavily depend on our cars here because of our practically non existent public transportation. You can't live without your cars here!
School Zone

Monday, February 6, 2012

Home of South Miami's Wild Parrots

This is a slow bland Monday morning in Miami and standing here, I wonder where are the wild parrots when you need them to make life more exciting. But let me show you a great tip if you ever find yourself in Miami and you have the urge to witness and hear a large band of rogue wild parrots. This is their neighborhood. This view is from the Publix market's parking lot near the Datran center. The pink office building in the background is the Northernmost building of the Dadeland Towers office complex. Behind that building you will find a huge tree that is the home base of a large colony of very vocal wild green parrots. They behave as if they own this airspace and fly around in large groups squawking loudly when they feel like it. They like to hang around the windows of the Dadeland Towers buildings. The territory of these birds is quite substantial and it covers many square miles. This is the home of the wild parrots of South Miami.
Wild Parrots

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sunday

One day every year, a Sunday like today is Super Sunday when the US of America if not shutting down, is slowed down considerably from about 6 PM to 10 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) because a majority of Americans wants to watch the ultimate last American football game of the season, the championship game, called the Super Bowl. This year, this takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. The effect is felt everywhere in the US and Miami is no exception. Here is my most favorite Italian restaurant on US-1 across the South Dade metro rail station, the Trattoria Luna. It is closed today! The owner knows better and he chose to close his restaurant because he knows it will be mostly empty tonight. The favorite meal tonight is a barbeque at home to watch the game on the television; or at sport bars with huge television screens.

I don't think my photo has enough resolution for you to read the menu posted on the door, but you can visit Trattoria Luna's web site if you are interested. To test your eye sights, try to read the notice on the door about the restaurant is closed to accommodate Super Bowl night. I am supposed to eat lunch here in a few days, and if I can remember to take a few pictures when I am inside, I will blog it.

By the way, Super Bowl XLVI (that's 46) was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion New York Giants to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2011 season. The Giants beat the Patriots 21–17. I got the score from my email news break because I did not watch that game.
Super Bowl

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Flowers of Ok Rong

Do you know that mango is the dominant tropical fruit produced worldwide, followed by pineapple then papaya and avocado? In Miami, we find all four in abundance, especially the mango. It is now the time that the mango trees are getting busy to conceive fruits. This year, my Ok Rong tree shows up first over a whole host of the other types of mango, and it is breaking out with flowers on every single branch. Typically, mango trees begin to produce flowers in dry weather conditions, which is the case for Miami this year. The danger is that the pollen may be washed away under heavy rains and less fruits will be set. There lies the randomness nature of a given crop in a given year. You never can tell if you can expect a bumper crop until you see it. If you are new to Miami, make sure you know that mango belongs to the Anacardiaceae family which include poison ivy and poison sumac. The sap of the mango tree and the skin of its fruit contain urushiol that causes skin irritation that will remind you of the times you encountered with the famous poison ivy or poison oak.

Mango flowers are visited by fruit bats, flies, wasps, wild bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, ants and various bugs seeking the nectar. Strangely, the honeybees are not particularly interested in pollinating mango flowers. Go figure why! My yard does not lack the insects enumerated above so we'll have a few Ok Rong this summer for sure. Come and get it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Excuseeee Me

This morning, I was in Miami's morning traffic going South on Red Road (SW 57th Avenue) trying to cross US-1 when this young man signaled and asked to cut in front of me. Of course, you go right ahead, I'm in no hurry! This is a very young man and I wish I knew what he did in life to be able to drive this kind of car. Like I said before, Miami has tons of cash running around its streets. This is my kind of car too, but not my kind of wallet!
Cutting In

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No King of the Road, Please

In Miami, the sun is always up there (except when it rains very hard) beating on us and I need some new eyeglass to fight back... so I came to this local Visionworks that specializes in eyewear of all sorts. This is a large chain that has over one hundred stores in several southern, east coast and midwestern states and this store is on Bird Road at the corner of SW 67th Avenue, close to Miss Page to whom I still owe a visit when I get enough courage and money to pay her.... but I digress... I need eyeglass.

After talking to a very nice, sweet, knowledgeable and very very persuasive sales lady, I think I got two pairs of eyeglass that I probably do not need. I know a little bit more, but the more I know, the more I get confused and scared. Are you ready?

You are first overloaded with different frame styles to choose from, then you realize that you need all kinds of protection without which you may have eye damage beyond repair. You are told that damage from harmful UVA and UVB radiation is cumulative; that you can have special treatment to your lens to reduce glare. I made a big mistake telling her that 1/ I stare at computer screens day and night; and 2/ I drive a lot with the top down. She immediately said "Oh boy! Do you need us!" I got off her hook after I told her that I really do not need (read cannot afford) the King of the Road Dynamic Sunwear Drivewear brand that changes color from green/yellow to dark reddish-brown on its own; nor do I need the BeBe, Guess, Gant, Candie's, Rampage etc... frame styles. But I still left a lot poorer than when I came in.

I should have gone to the Eckerd next door to get two pairs of plastic glasses for US $7 each. In retrospect, plastic filters UV from the sun much better than glass that is transparent to UV. Besides, the harmful stuff can get around the eyeglass to damage your eyes anyway... Oh well, too late to reconsider!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

No Pets

The Kendall campus of Miami Dade College recently renovated this track and field and it looks sparkling new. To make sure that lasts, they posted this sign that I am sure upsets some people who love their pets. I am guessing the true purpose of this sign is to prevent people to take their dogs in here to run lapses with them. Do they know that animals also comprise human beings? Beware what ambiguities of languages can do to you.
No Animals