That would be Joy and I fighting our way through the tall grass while on our photo safari this past Wednesday! To be totally truthful, there was a perfectly good trail we could have been walking on, but sometimes we just find it absolutely necessary to go off-trail for a bit. This clearly was one of those times :)
This most recent hike was, without question, dubbed The Foggy Hike. Man oh man, we just couldn't seem to shake it for more than a few minutes at a time. I woke to some pretty thick fog in the wee hours just as dawn was peeping over the yardarm (I can usually see a few boat masts from the bathroom window and that morning I saw a whole lot of nothin'!). A very short time later when Joy swung by to pick me up we decided that, well the first part of the hike might be a little challenging, photo-wise, but soon enough the fog would burn off and then it would be fine.
But the weather had other ideas! The fog would seem to lift a bit for a little while, sometimes we even saw blue sky and sunshine for a few moments and then, the fog would rise again and it would be swirly grey and mysterious again. Oooooooo. Like being in a spooky movie!
The effect for our photography was interesting and like I said, I like a challenge, but it made it difficult to find some of our preferred subject matter now and again.
Wednesdays foggy photo safari took us back to Oscar Scherer State Park to check on the eagles that we found there about 3 weeks ago. We found 'em. Or at least we found the nest and one eagle. The photos aren't as dramatic as last time, but the fog made it look different if nothing else.
It was the oddest thing hearing birds all around us but not seeing them most of the time. There was a very cool moment when we, again, went off-trail into a rather gloomy copse to track down the birds we could hear and there they were. Robins by the dozens zooming from tree to tree and branch to branch, making such a racket! Between the shadowy dimness and the fog, it was hard to make out exactly what sort of birds they were at first. We kept thinking we saw the colour red and therefore assumed they were cardinals but also thought that they were too big to be cardinals. Which was in fact the case. Eventually we saw one got close enough to determine for sure...robins! I got Zero photos of them but it was amazing to see. Sorry about that!
Saw a few other birdsthat I was able to capture. Let's see what I have here:
And a couple of squirrels:
Here is one of the things about photography in the fog that I learned that day, colours don't show up very well. So while the foggy effect is kind of dramatic the colours do not pop. Everything appears to be softly wrapped in gauze instead. I kept thinking that my lens was dirty and constantly cleaned it with no change. Normally these colours would leap from the page but instead they looked like this:
On the other hand, I FINALLY got some good dew on webs photos! Very excited about these:
But mostly, it was about the fog. And trees in the fog look awesome! Shouldn't we be hearing some weirdly creepy music right about now?
And as always there are the rando-photos that I save for the end:
Regardless of your weather, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Do something fun! I will check in with you again on Monday.
Hugs all 'round
I walked out to the end of our driveway the other morning, as I always do, to bring in our daily newspaper(s) and was surprised to see this sign. "Men Working". Ok. Appreciate the Headzup. But I was curious because I saw no actual men working. Or women for that matter. Or giraffes or otters or any other creatures. I stood at the very end of the driveway, toes against the blacktop and looked all the way to the left and all the way to the right and, nope, nothin'.
For some reason, I'm not sure why, I assumed this meant roadwork of one kind or another. And since I saw no evidence of any kind of work, no trucks, no people, no equipment of any kind, I thought that it must be farther down the road around the corner that I cannot see. I shrugged and went back inside to get Tim's breakfast underway. And I began to go about my morning as per usual. Hum dilly hum. On the stroke of 8 am however, it began. And it was loud. It was Very Very Very Loud. It was the sort of loud that permeates your very bones. Not at all conducive to someone (in this case Tim) trying to work. He might be able to kind of block out the crashing, bashing some of the time but phone calls would have been a real challenge.
As I ran around the house closing windows (a shame on a beautiful day) I kept trying to see exactly what was making the gawdawful sound. It took awhile but eventually I came to realize that there was more than one thing going on. It was both behind us and beside us which is the same neighbor. Let me take a moment to explain.
The street behind us is a private road (excuse the heck outta me!) that ends at the house behind us. I mean literally the road comes to an actual halt at that house. It is a very narrow road with just a few houses, waterfront, on the bay. Very nice. Now as it so happens, we live almost on a corner, like about a half a lot to the actual stop sign. At some point, someone bought the property directly behind us (and remember the road ends at that house) and the lot next to us which kind of straddles the corner and turned it into one cattycorner property that goes front the road behind us to beside us. The main house is behind us, the guest house is beside us. And as it turns out, noisy stuff was happening in both places that day.
Behind us was something having to do with their pool. And the reason I know that is the Lucas Lagoons trucks that we saw. I don't know if you are familiar with Lucas Lagoons. There is a television show, "Insane Pools" which you may have seen, that centers around this company. It's a local (to us) company that builds these beautiful and very elaborate pools, patios and whatever else the client wants having to do with the general pool area. Because these "insane" pools are so incredibly complex, apparently, they require and insane amount of noise to build them. So that was part of the ear assault.
The other part of Project Noise I learned about when I was standing on the guest bed cleaning the overhead fan blades. (Yes occasionally I actually do clean things). While I balanced and sprayed and papertoweled alternately, I caught motion out the window from the corner of my eye. So I stopped what I was doing completely and saw several men standing on the roof of the guesthouse next door with large saws and ropes and other implements of destruction. Ahhhh! That is the other noise! They are tree trimming. Which also means wood chipping and sometimes stump grinding.
Wowza! No wonder we could barely hear ourselves think!
Oh well, if it's gotta be done, it's gotta be done. And perhaps it was good that both noisy things were being done on the same day. Get it over with and move on to peace and quiet once again.
The next day, as I again started my day walking out to get the newspaper I was bummed to see the Men Working sign again. I sighed and returned to the house and just went ahead and closed the windows ahead of time. I knew what was coming. AND I wasn't wrong. Once again, as soon as the hands of the clock struck 8 am the barrage of sound began. which means that despite the lovely weather outside, we were, one more time, inside with the AC on and the windows tightly closed, besieged by constant drone punctuated with occasion crashing, crunching, shouting sort of sounds.
During the afternoon of that second day, while I was ironing in the family room something caught my eye out the window that seemed to be on the corner of the house. So I went outside to check it out. It was tree debris. Lots and lots of branches and fronds and giant seed pods and other stuff, obviously cut from the neighbors trees that fell into our yard. Oh well, stuff happens. So I gathered it up into a pile knowing that our own lawn guys would pick it up on their next visit and take it away for us.
Out the front door was a different kind of tree debris which I addressed toward the end of both days. Dead leaves. Lots of them. Trapped in our courtyard and just waiting to cling to people's shoes so they could be tracked into the house. My favourite. These particular leaves came from Jacaranda trees. I happen to really love Jacaranda trees. We don't have any, but our neighbors do. And I can only assume that when the branches were trimmed and wind carried the very lightweight dead stuff through the air and deposited them into our courtyard where they were trapped by the courtyard walls to live forever and ever, amen, amen.
So I grabbed a broom and began to sweep. And sweep. And sweep. And...well you get the idea. The Jacaranda tree has small, narrow leaves so it takes a lot of them to be impactful visually. Here is just a small glimpse of the issue:
Most of our courtyard is pavered, but part of it is gravel. (And no, I have no idea why. The property came this way. I sept the pavers clean but gravel is another story. It's really hard to sweep gravel. I picked some up by hand, one little branch at a time, some parts were bigger gobs of it so I could use the dustpan to kind of handsweep the upper levels of the pile into the pan without getting too much of the gravel in there.
I did what I could and then walked away and left the rest for me to think about how to address.
Luckily for me our lawn guys came by on the 3rd day and in addition to their usual lawn type stuff, they noticed the dead leaves in the courtyard and blasted it with leaf blowers leaving the courtyard much as it was originally. Nice.
So there you go. The story of the Men At Work sign. Whether you wanted or needed to know it or not. Today, Blessedly, there is no horrible noise, the windows are once again wide open and peace again falls on our little island. Nice :)
The title, as it turned out, of last weeks photo safari, is, The Hike of Hardly Any Photographs. And not because I didn't take any pictures. I absolutely did. As you can see in the photo above, I was snap happy for hours. In the end, I took more than 200 shots! Wow! And once I had edited and deleted to my hearts content there were still a lot. And some of them were pretty good too. But something went awry and before I could write up my usual after hike report, they vanished.
Not joking even a little bit. It was like a really bad magicians trick. They existed and then blink, they didn't exist anymore. I looked every way that I knew how to look and then I called upon my in-house computer help desk (that would be Tim) and nope, the pictures are just gone. It's a mystery for sure.
Fortunately for me, Joy was kind enough to share a few photos with me (I will make note of which pictures are hers - the photo of me at the top of the page is one of them). Also I remembered that had already sent a few pictures to a friend of mine back in Colorado and I was able to retrieve those out of my sent box. Whew! So yes, there are a few pictures to share with you :)
So I guess I will start with the place where we hiked. There is a local hiking spot called Jelk's Preserve that we never visit. Well I suppose we had to have gone at least once, a long time ago because we kept making the intentional decision to go elsewhere every week. But this past hike we kind of asked each other if we remembered why we never go to Jelk's. And the answer was, "Nope".. Neither of us recalled exactly why we avoid that particular place. There had to be a reason, just it had been so long that we didn't know what that reason was. And we felt that was reason enough to check it out.
It was a chilly morning. And I know you guys who live in genuinely cold places keep laughing whenever I say that, which is fair. So I suppose what I ought to be saying it was a Chilly Morning for Florida. Better? It was cool enough that we could see our breath in the air when we talked and there was mist rising off the water. (the mist off the water photo is Joy's)
Because we are kind of crazy, we were wearing shorts! But we were also smart enough to be wearing sweatshirts to stave off the worst of the morning cold. One of these days I need to find a pair of fingerless gloves though. I found myself walking alternating hands in my pocket through most of the early hours. BUT the light was gorgeous. And you know I am a sucker for those pretty light moments. Here's the only one I still have:
Fairly early on in the hike we found a woodpecker squawking at us from the tippytop of a tree. We could only see his bright right head on and off as he circled and scolded and popped up and down. But the camera gods were with me and I did get one good shot of him!
Heeheehee, what a character! There were also some very impressive spider webs that if you stand just right and catch the light coming through at the exactly perfect angle are rather beautiful. Each web is a singular work of art. Just usually they are hard to capture. I got lucky this time.
It was a little mucky here and there and in a few instances water completely covered the trail but someone thoughtfully built some bridges! Some more elaborate than others. This one was a little precarious: (obviously Joy took the photos of me, like this one)
Joy trooped across with no hesitation at all. But because I am not nearly as graceful as she, I took my time and even stopped now and again as I crossed to catch my breath, settle my balance and to take a photo.
There were some rather photogenic flowers here and there and a striking leaf or two that caught my eye. And then my camera's eye.
But what we saw more of than anything was hog sign. And you know how I feel about feral hogs. No Bueno! There were those enormous hog traps scattered about and some sections of the trail that were so chewed up that you couldn't really tell where the trail was. Thank goodness we saw no actual oinkers, but I know that they were lurking nearby. We can feel the lurking. It's a little distracting from the hiking and the picture taking when out of the corner of your eye (and ear) you are always on alert for the actual piggies and not just hog sign.
Despite all of that, we had a good time, it was a good long hike, and yes we took lots of photos but the creepy hog indicators everywhere are probably why we do not hike there. We will have to make a note to wait another four years before returning to this particular preserve.
One last photo for you. This is how Joy and I feel when we are out hiking with our cameras. Here's Joy looking relaxed and happy (and a little chilly):
I'm feeling kind of old lately. And it has nothing to do with the grey/white/silver bits in my hair either. It also has no connection to the AARP crap that comes in the mail faithfully every month - and has since the year I turned 50. I still haven't joined. Wow those folks are persistent. It gets tossed just like the invitations to discuss cremation, wills and 'final expenses' as they so coyly phrase it.
Nope. My aged feeling is my own dang fault. It was something I wrote so basically I did this to myself. I was writing an email to a friend of mine. Almost daily she and I knock out a quick email to one another, just the blah-de-blah of what's happening in our lives. Exciting things like what we are making for dinner that day, the local weather and something interesting we might have seen on a recent walk. Nothing earth shattering. I was regaling her with the story of our recent and belated Christmas celebration and I found myself writing the following sentence, "We had such a great time that even though we got home late, it was totally worth it." I paused and re-read the sentence. Something was wrong with it but I couldn't figure out what it was. And then I saw it and started laughing. I mean really laughing. Loud and long.
The "late night" I referred to was around 9 pm. Nine. Twenty-one hundred in military time. That is hilarious. And a little sad. There was a time when I wouldn't leave to start my fun evening until 9 pm. And now to me that is unusually late. Sigh.
And that got me thinking about other old people stuff that I say or do now. It was an easy list to come up with. I didn't have to think too hard. Which is a comment all on it's own. So here is a short list of sure fire indicators of my fogey-ness:
1. While I do not dislike current music, I cannot understand most of the lyrics. Which means I can hum along and tap my toes, but I cannot sing along. I remind me of my own mother who, while she never once objected to the music we played, almost never ever got the words right, but sang along, incorrectly, with her beautiful voice.
2. I also do not understand current colloquialisms. A million or so years ago when I was young, I saw Peter Sellers do a "bit" that I thought was a laugh riot. He, a middle aged, very buttoned up Brit in three-piece suit, umbrella and bowler was having a conversation (or trying to) with a much younger man. While both of them were speaking English, neither of them was speaking the same language. You will have to trust me on this, to a young person of that era, the bit was hysterical! "Out of my line of vision" indeed.
3. I find, to my great embarrassment, that occasionally I tell the same story or recount the same anecdote, more than once. Oh gosh that is so humiliating. I hate when I do that. Most folks are kind about it, but I can tell by the look on their faces that they've heard this before and usually that makes me stop and say something like, "...but I'm sure you've heard this before". Red Faced!
4. I've lived so long now that things that happened in my life time are now historic references. Little children are studying in school things that I lived through. Holy cats. And worse, they often get it wrong.
5. Younger people do not understand my music, literary, television or movie references. That one hits hard. The earlier Peter Sellers reference for example. That would have been met by a blank stare. Them: "Peter who?" Me: "No not The Who". Them: "What?" Me: "This is starting to sound like an Abbott and Costello routine" Them: "Who?"
6. Parts of my body hurt. All of the time. My hands hurt, my neck hurts, my shoulder hurts, my knees hurt. Different degrees of discomfort, admittedly, but all of the time. Which means that when I say, "I'm running to the store", I actually mean I'm walking to the store. And frankly, if I say that I'm running anywhere, I am flat out lying to you. Well maybe if hungry tigers were chasing me I might try to break into a trot, but more likely, I would turn and slap the crap out of it for forcing me to try to run.
7. Because of the above I often smell like Icy/Hot. I used to a wear perfume called, "Casual". I went to great lengths to try to find this perfect fragrance. I wore it every day. It became my signature scent and I loved it. Now I smell mostly of a combination of shampoo and Icy/Hot. Super Sexy.
8. I have, sadly, become accustomed to being teased for my not so very Techie ways. Yes I still write my grocery list on paper. Yes I am quite aware that I can do that on my phone but no I choose not to. In a few weeks I will have my very first On-Line doctor appointment. I was assured by the lady on the other end of the phone when I made the appointment that they would talk me through the process and that I would have no problem figuring out how to do it. I responded that I hoped it was so and that I would hate to be their very first patient who was unable to figure it out. I actually love the idea of not having to go to the actual doctor's office for a doctor visit but it feels very Star Trek to me. Not quite real y'know?
In spite of my low-tech ways, I take heart in knowing that while I can operate a computer I also can function without one. And knowing that I am the last generation to be able to both read and write cursive, read both an analogue and digital clock, use a computer and a manual typewriter and know how to use a cell phone AND an old rotary dial phone gives me a little feeling of power there. I am like a human Rosetta Stone. I stand with one foot in each era. From this point forward, my generation is all ancient history.
Like I said, I'm feeling old today.
I don't know what the weather was like at your house this past Saturday but here it was windy. I mean WINDY! Gusty, blowing, chilly, wet,batten down the hatches windy. And for most people that means, a good day to stay inside, snuggied down in your comfiest sweats drinking hot cocoa and reading a good book or binge watching Outlander for the umpti-umpth time, For other folks it means, Time to Go To The Beach!
Mostly because big wind usually also means big waves. And Big waves means surfers and parasailing!
On one hand I think they are adrenaline laced whackadoos. On the other hand, oooooo it's so pretty! Really, it's breathtaking to watch as they loop and jump and spin and turn. Almost like a dance. Water Ballet! Only with higher danger factor.
We weren't the only folks at the jetty watching the show either. The place was PACKED! And most of the cars had out of state plates so sure, I get it. If it's a little too chilly to actually sit on the beach or swim or even just wade in the surf and look for cool shells, then here is an alternate way to enjoy the water.
I always feel bad for the tourists who come here from cold and snow hoping to enjoy a beach vacation, thinking sunny and warm thoughts only to find chilly, grey, wet and/or windy weather. But honestly, the beach and the ocean is awesome regardless of the temperature. Provided that you are dressed for the occasion. If all you brought was your flipflops and swimsuit, yeah, you are going to be chilly. Tip:L There are shops here. You can buy a sweatshirt.
But honestly, regardless of the fact that the beach was red-flagged that day, it was still a beautiful walk. I know because after we left the jetty, we went on over to the main beach entrance which we refer to as the Pavilion (because there is one) and we walked on the shore for a bit.
See what I mean? Ain't nothin' wrong with that. And yet, the beach was nearly completely empty. Silly people! Cold, wet, windy days are Perfect Beach Days! Mostly because there is almost nobody else there. You pretty much have the place to yourself!
We could still see the surfers and parasailers from the where we now were and continued to enjoy the show even as we walked along the edge of the water. The wind blew my hair around but hey, I don't care. And Tim was kind enough, chivalrous enough, to stand between me and the worst of it so that I could get at least these few photos.
It's kind of hypnotic watching the water. Maybe that's why it's so calming. Even on a wild and woolly weather sort of day just watching the ever changing patterns in the waves, the continual ebb and flow of it all, listening to that unmistakable sound of the surf.... it helps me to breath, I can feel myself settle a bit and at the same time feel energized. It's medicinal. Take one visit to the beach and call me in the morning. Hah!
Eventually we left to do the sorts of things that need doing regardless of how spectacular the ocean is every day. But we returned in the evening because we knew, we just absolutely had no doubts at all, that the wave dancers would still be out there.
And we were correct!
I can hear you thinking, "What? Isn't she done droning on and on (and on!) about Christmas yet?" Short answer, No. No I'm not. I enjoy Christmas so much that I could probably think of something to say about it every day of the year. But that would kind of be a one note blog theme and I would rather talk about whatever I want to talk about and not be held to one particular topic.
So today I will talk about.....Christmas! LOL Well belated Christmas because that's what we did yesterday. For the first time in a VERY long time we got together with some of our favourite people on the planet. Yes, my friends, it was Minock Day! YAYAYAYAY!
Back when we were neighbors in Colorado, we saw each other nearly every day. Then when Tim and I moved to Florida it was perhaps, 3 or 4 times a year when Tim had to go back to CO for business and I tagged along. And while better than nothing, it was not nearly enough Minock time. Then they also moved to Florida and we changed our get-together's to once a month! Much Better! Either we made the trek up to their place (about 2+ hours north of us) or they jumped in the car and headed south to us. While it wasn't the same as being neighbors, like the old days, it was awesome to have that get-together day to look forward to every month.
And then 2020 happened and of course it call changed again. Since March of 2020 when the lockdown in Florida happened to yesterday, Minock days have been few and far between, which makes them all the more precious when they happen. And yesterday it happened.
It was our turn to journey north to them. Well partly it was our turn but mostly it was because we SOOOO wanted to see their beautiful new home! And see it we did. We toured, we admired, we discussed and Tim helped put up some photo ledges in the living room. In no time at all, it didn't feel like a new place, it just felt like their place. It truly is a perfect expression of who our friends are. Yeah, we are fans.
And we also did Christmas. Belatedly. And I have to tell you, the only thing better than Christmas, is a belated Christmas. Especially a Minock belated Christmas because they "do" Christmas differently than anyone I've ever known. There is food, of course, good company, naturally. There might be a project involved. It could be involve art or hatchets or anything in between. And there will definitely be games. That's right, I said games.
You see, in the Minock household, they don't just open gifts. Anybody can do that. To open a gift in their house you have to win the opportunity. And it's complex. There are a lot of elements involved. It might involve saran wrap, or brain games, or physical challenges, or dice. Or all of those things. Or other things. Who knows what it might be. All I can tell you without giving it away, is that it is time consuming, hillarious and So Dang Much Fun!!!
The photo at the top of the page is two of the ornaments we came home with. Aren't they justso beautiful? I absolutely Love them!!! Also returned with other goodies, including some of Marsha's home made amazing caramel corn which is the BEST in the entire universe, peanut butter fingers and friendship bread.
It was a great lifting of our spirits. Part of it truly was celebrating a belated Christmas which at their house is a sort of a combination of summer camp and Christmas (two awesome things), part of it was the company and all of it was wonderful.
As per usual, had a great time. Looking forward to the next Minock Day, whenever that might be. Some things, like some people, are worth waiting for.
Well that's us, Joy and I, out there at it again. Photo Safari Time! It is a very rare week indeed when we don't manage a hiking with cameras day.
We left early as we usually do, but this time it was with the intent to beat a rain storm that was heading out way. It was chilly and gloomy and, before we finished, a little sprinkley, but we were prepared. I had some plastic grocery stores bags in one pocket for cameras and phones and a small zippy bag for hearing aids in the other. Joy brought her backpack for anything that needed to be protected. We were ready!
The theme of this hike ended up being woodpeckers. We have never EVER seen so many of them on one hike! Oh My Gosh they were everywhere. They are fast too. They zip by like little rockets. And even once they find a place to land, they rarely hold still. It's all ratatatat, or popping in and out of hidey holes, or hopping around to the back side of the tree only to reappear an instant later, upside-down on a branch. Oh they are tricky little devils.
And still, I have photos. Of course I do. A lot of them. So get ready to be inundated with pictures of Woodpeckers! (each of these is a different bird, I swear!)
Of course we saw other birds too. And to be fair, we did go from one preserve (Deer Prairie South) to another (The Rookery) so we didn't find all of these birds in the same place. But it counts because it was on the same adventure. Well it counts in my book and since I'm the one writing this, well, you see where I'm going.
Anyway here are some of the other birds we saw:
As always, I got carried away taking pictures of trees. Sorry, you can skip this part if you want. I just adore trees.
But then, I'm a big fan of flowers too:
And, as usual, I saved my favourites for the last. The photos that defy categorization:
If I've been remiss in telling all of you that I appreciate you willingness to indulge me in looking at all of my photo safari photos, then shame on me. Thank you! Thank you very much. I genuinely appreciate each and every one of you!
Have a GREAT weekend. Meet you here again on Monday!
My favourite Handiman :)
Today's post will be short. Apologies but I got a late start on my day. Normally I'm a very early riser. But too many nights of not sleeping caught up to me and Tim very thoughtfully just tippy toed around (although I was so totally conked out that there probably could have been a brass band in the room and I wouldn't have heard it). The point is, he let me sleep. He is such a nice man.
Anyway, because of that I am kind of running behind myself if you follow that.
So anyway. The photo above is Tim doing some of the yard work that occasionally needs doing. I'm good about keeping up with most of it. As long as I can reach it, I can deal with it. But the really high up stuff is problematic.
The long pointy thing that Tim is using to trim palm trees (I honestly don't know what it's called) is just too unwieldy for me to safely use. You just know that in my hands that thing is not a tool but a weapon. It would just be a matter of time before either a window gets broken or the tool gets broken or I get broken....... so I happily handed this chore off to Tim.
When I try to use it, I look awkward and uncomfortable and the overall image is perhaps, "cumbersome". Yeah I think that is the word. Or perhaps, "Dangerous" is a better choice. If I was going to pick two words, those would be the two.
But Tim makes it appear as if the thing is merely an extension of his hand, or maybe a pen or a wrench. It's impressive to watch really. He would walk around the trees, find whatever needs to be gotten rid of and *bing* before I had a chance for it to even register, it's done and he has moved on to the next thing. Wow!
He was done in less than a half hour leaving me to do the stuff I do well. Which would be scurrying around picking up what was chopped off and hauling it around to the side of the house for the lawn guys to take away. Teamwork baby!
The trees look better and I'm sure they feel better. Everything I've read says that it's healthier for the trees to be trimmed. So we did a good thing.
Two more photos for you: one is one of the chopped off things falling from the tree (still practicing tracking moving objects with my camera) and the resultant pile of chopped off stuff!
At any rate, it's a job well done and one more thing off the gotta do list! yay!
The top of this hill may be the highest point in Florida. Or at least Sarasota County.
For those of you unaware of the topography of Florida, it's flat. Very Flat. Not flat in the way that a desert is. I remember, as a kid, riding in the car as my dad drove across Texas toward California and seeing the mountains in the distance, literally days before we reached them. So it's not the sort of flat where you can see for hundreds of miles ahead of you. Nope.
And it's not flat like Kansas or Nebraska where after harvest, suddenly you can see straight across the fields to your neighbors house in the distance and before harvest all of the cornstalks are the same height. (I once described driving across Kansas as being: corn, corn, corn, corn, wheat, wheat, wheat, wheat, cow, cow, cow, cow house! repeat) So it's not like that.
Florida deforested would look very flat, but Florida has trees galore. All sorts of trees. Trees of every shape and size and colour. Some filled with fruits, others with birds. And because of the forests thick with greenery, you might not notice the relatively small changes in elevation while driving from Point A to Point B. And if you are in a city, all of the tall buildings might distract you from realizing how, mostly, level the ground beneath you remains. The fact of the matter is that the land that is Florida is, by and large, flat, level, even-steven however you prefer to describe it.
I actually just now looked it up. The highest point in the state of Florida is Britton Hill in Walton County. Britton Hill stands a whopping 345 feet high. Whoa! Having moved to Florida, as Tim and I did, from Colorado that is hilarious. The Colorado town that we lived in stood at 5,589 feet and went up from there. That's over a mile high, folks.
My point, I guess, is that when we drive past a 'hill' like in the above picture, we notice. And we've driven past this hill many times. Each time I say the exact same thing, "I really want to climb that hill". But we are always on our way somewhere and don't have the time. Sunday, we stopped the car, got out and we climbed that hill! Woohoo!
It's been awhile since we've had to climb anything higher than the stairs to the Venice Island bridge so this was a good way to find out exactly how out of shape we are. Turns out, not as bad as we feared! yay!
There were choices for tackling this climb. There was a dirt path that went straight up. No foolin' around, asking no quarter, just a get it done direct route. And then there was a 'round and 'round path that gently circled the hill slowly raising the pedestrians, gradually, to the top. We were full of sass and vinegar I guess because we chose the straight line, right to the top.
We charged that hill as if we were going on attack, Full Speed Ahead, Damn the Torpedoes! We hauled arse upward not slowing down for a second. Also not talking. We saved our breath for climbing (and panting, I confess). About 2/3 of the way up I asked Tim between big gulps of air if his legs were screaming at him because my thighs were objecting strongly. He shook his head no and said, "Butt". Ahhh the old glute muscles. Yeah they are not big fans of that sort of climb either. But HAH! We kept going, same speed as when we began and then, suddenly, we reached the Tippy Top!
We walked around admiring the view and trying to catch our breath. Wow! What a view! And to our surprise, more paths to follow! We followed one of the paths that circled the edge of the top of the hill for awhile, then eventually walked down (not on the path) the opposite side then circled back to the beginning around the base of the hill. Here are some of the things that we saw:
So that was fun! Now instead of saying, "I want to climb that hill" when we drive by I can say, "Hey remember when we climbed that hill?" Ahhh Memories
One more thing checked off the list of things I want to do. Cool.
What a mess! My desk should be declared a disaster area. I'm not sure what happened. It used to be so tidy and now...well...it's completely out of control. Which means I have a big project ahead of me! It took me awhile to figure out how to fix this. But this is what I came up with.
First let's take a closer look at the players involved:
This is my desk. Well as you can clearly see it's also the back of the kitchen peninsula. Which means it's right there where I'm cooking, baking, where we eat but also where I blog and work on my photo sites and compose emails etc. It's probably where I spend the biggest part of my day. And since it's open to the living room it's also where we might sit and talk, or read, or do puzzles or all sorts of other things. So it behooves me to keep my area tidy. I like tidy. And right now it's really really REALLY not. And that is a problem.
The reason there are stacks of books on my "desk" is because I was fortunate enough to be gifted a good many books this past Christmas. And these are the ones I haven't yet read. I keep them separate from the ones I've already read just for my own convenience. But there are also magazines I'm part way through, my camera because I never know when I might have an immediate need for one, countless notebooks for various reasons (grocery lists, blog post ideas, notes to self etc.) my calendar because everything I need to know about upcoming birthdays/anniversaries/appointments/etc is on there, and a paperweight because I like open windows which means breezes.
Most of it can be dealt with easily but those books. I absolutely must come up with a better system yes? Well some of my new books are cookbooks (squeeeee!) And I have an official place for cookbooks. It's this little two shelf bookcase right there in the photo above. As you can see, it's pretty full. No change that to Very full. My new cookbooks will not fit. Dang.
And then there is this issue:
\This huge microsoft bag that sits on the floor next to the bookshelf, right in the way of my feet is filled with the stuff that normally would do in desk drawers. Pens, pencils, paperclips, tape, note pads and staplers. All of the stuff a regular office would need, I still need but have no place to put it. So there is sits looking lumpy and dumpy and definitely in my way! But there really is no other place for it. Dang.
So as I was thinking this through it occurred to me that cookbooks are books after all. Maybe I can just dedicate a shelf to them in one of our other book cases. Yeah, no. That's not going to happen. While it's true that we do have two other books cases (and good sized ones too. They go from the floor to near the ceiling) they are full. Completely totally and entirely full. Ratz. Well the obvious solution there is to cull out the books. Go through and decide, seriously decide, which books do I absolutely HAVE to keep. Which ones will I read again. Which books need to stay and which books can go.
So I prepared myself to be merciless. I ruthlessly pulled books from the shelf and filled an entire large rubbermaid container that I will never in a million years be able to lift (so what was I thinking?) And this is what I was left with:
An entire rubbermaid box is now filled with books and it barely looks as if I've touched the bookshelves. Sigh. Clearly I have a lot more work to do.
Here is my plan. I will get tougher, meaner, crueler and get rid of a LOT more books, donate them to Good Will most likely. Then I can move the cookbooks to one (or more) of the the big shelves. Which will leave the little two shelf bookcase by my desk empty (a wonderful thing!). I will get little bins that fit on the shelves and put all of the "desk" contents on those bins. And perhaps I will even have room leftover for things like notebooks and other desk top "stuff".
It's an ambitious plan people. And Ii fully expect that tears will be shed as I do the sorting.
I can get rid of clothes with no problem. I can give away furniture without a glimmer of remorse. Almost everything we own, while I like it very much, if it disappeared I would shrug and move on. But my books? That's a completely different story. (no pun intended) My books are like my friends, like family members. When one of those is gone from your life, it leaves a hole. boohoo ;(
BUT still my tidy genes demand satisfaction! This Will Happen. But it will take awhile. Stay tuned. When the project is complete, I will share new photos.
Wish me Luck!
On My Goodness! Wednesday Photo Safari was so good! It was a complete 180 from the previous week. We headed up to Oscar Scherer State Park because we needed a change of pace. Our thought was that even if there was nothing photos worthy (again), at least our hike would be on different trails than usual.
The clear and obvious theme of this last hike was Birds. Lots and Lots of LOTS of birds. They were everywhere. They were up high, down low and hanging around the middle. The were flying, hopping and sometimes even holding still (for a change). You couldn't go but a handful of steps without seeing more birds. They squawked and chirruped and screeched and they sang. They flew around us, over us, in front of us across the path and seemed oddly happy that we were there. I say oddly because on other hikes, on other trails, the birds seemed intent on hiding from us. The little feathered stinkers.
But these birds seemed to love having they photos taken and even took to posing. Seriously, that is exactly what it looked like. And It Was Awesome! I'm not even going to make you wait. I'm going to start out with the most exciting part right off the bat. We saw eagles. Plural. As in more than one eagle. Here you go, the eagle and the eagle's nest all in one shot! Excitement!
Also saw hawks. Not as unusual to see but still a dang impressive creature with a little bit of attitude. He's gorgeous, he knows it.
And woodpeckers. This is four different woodpeckers by the way, not four photos of the same one.
I only got a photo of one jay. I'm not certain if it was a blue jay or a scrub jay and I suppose it doesn't really matter. The bird knows what it is
And a ton of other little birds that I have no idea what are but they are just so adorable. Here is a just a small sampling of the variety:
The little birds seem to have the prettiest songs. The bigger ones have louder and less pretty calls. I am beginning to recognize some of the bird songs. Very few but it's a start. The longer I do this, I suppose, the better I will get at it. Though remembering their names doesn't seem to be something that will happen. Joy tells me, patiently, over and over and I promptly forget it, over and over.
There was only one spot where the trail was overtaken by a large puddle and we were able to carefully slog around the outside.
There were a few photos of birds in flight (if you want a giggle). I keep trying to develop the skill of tracking a bird in flight and capturing it with my camera with varying amounts of success. I keep trying but you tell me if you think it's working so far:
I'll keep working on that.......
And of course there were a few other random photos which are, always among my favourites of the day:
So there you have it. The Birdie Hike. Totally worth the $5 price of admission.
"Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day!"
That was a big thing when I was growing up. We heard it in school, at the doctor's office, and, naturally, at the grocery store. It was in newspapers and magazines, especially that category of magazines referred to as 'Women's Magazines'. I speak of Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Womens' Day and the like. I'm not sure any of them even still exist, do they?
And that meant a full breakfast. Fruit, eggs, bacon, and toast or perhaps fruit, pancakes and hashbrowns. On a special occasion there might be fried ham and eggs with toast and jam. Or perhaps something more decadent like cinnamon rolls or coffee cake (with the apparently requisite fruit and eggs of course)
Anyway it was one of those things considered to be, 'common knowledge'. Like putting butter on a burn (don't do that). When I was a kid, it's what you did because everyone KNEW it was true. Except of course that it wasn't. At least not in our house.
My mom must have been way ahead of her time because she never once suggested putting butter on a burn and she absolutely didn't force us to eat breakfast. Encourage, yes, force, no. And what's more, breakfast was pretty much a do it yourself proposition. And I have no issue with that at all. It was a good step on the road to becoming self-reliant.
There was always food available. If Nana was in residence there would for sure be baked goods. If she was not, well there was always cereal. Help yourself. And so we did. In my mind, there was little difference between a jelly topped toast and cookie, sooooooo cookies for breakfast? Sure, why not? And when I explained my logic to my mother, she agreed. Leftover pie, similar to a jelly filled donut. Chocolate cake is close enough to coffee cake. Are you following me here? It was an easy transition from there to having ice cream for breakfast, animal crackers for lunch and cream cheese and jelly sandwiches for dinner. Not the most well balanced of diets, but delicious :)
It isn't that my mother didn't love us kids, because she did. She loved us to bits and pieces. But food just wasn't her thing. She wasn't interested in cooking it, shopping for it, serving it or eating it. So it was hard for her to understand anyone else's interest in it. She made sure that food was available to us if we wanted it as long as she wasn't actively involved in it's creation.
So that pattern was set for years. Eventually I was old enough and smart enough to realize that regardless of the strange food attitudes that I grew up with, I was old enough to make better choices for myself. And I did. (with the exception of my passion for M&M's which will remain with me until the day I die)
I eat so much more healthfully now. Soups and salads are a regular part of my daily bread and oddly enough, very little bread actually is (despite how much I love it). Baked potatoes and veggie pastas, stews and roasts and every once in a long while, a really good burger. When the boys were babies I made their baby food. Nothing store bought for my kidlets, no sirree!
I made my own bread, grew our fruits and vegetables and made made sure that every meal was healthy and well balanced. They had great appetites' and rarely pushed away anything I brought to the table, including vegetables.
And now the kids are gone, it's just Tim and I and I have come to learn that I am not a fan of breakfast at all. While I am up and about, fully functional and energetic very early in the morning, my tummy is still sound asleep. My appetite doesn't start to wake up until closer to noon. So I guess I'm more of a brunch girl. Oh yes, I can eat a good brunch. Omelets and fruit salads and waffles, Oh My!
Brunch doesn't really fit in to a normal regular ordinary daily workweek though. So I often skip breakfast entirely and instead thoroughly enjoy an exceptional lunch. When I do eat breakfast it's something on the smaller side. Something more like:
All things that I can eat on the run. Yogurt I can leave here at my desk with a spoon and take a little spoonful as I walk past it, Belvita crackers (one of my favourite thing) I can actually stuff in my pockets and munch as I go. Cereal I usually eat dry, so again, it's munchfood, grazing food, snackfood really. I have been known to have leftover biscuits or cornbread for breakfast which, while perhaps not the usual, it's not horrifying. Oh I also like those little cottage cheese cups? Have you seen those in the grocery store? They are adorable.
And then there is my most favourite breakfast in the world:
Leftover pizza, cold, right out of the fridge, oh yeah. And don't even try to convince me that it's not a healthy breakfast. There 's veggies and cheese and crust. Protein, vitamins and carbs. No different than an omelette with toast. I'm not certain what there is about cold leftover pizza that I love so much, but I do, I do, I do!
Whenever we get take out pizza, I always ordered a medium specifically so that I have breakfast to look forward to for at least a few more days.
So I guess the question is, was the original topic sentence true? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? I think maybe it depends on what you have for breakfast.
The weather this past Saturday was gorgeous. No wait, what's better than gorgeous? Sublime :) Sublime. That's it. The weather was sublime. Not too hot, not too cold, not too humid, not too dry. A teensy little breeze, blue skies and a few big puffy clouds. Much too nice to be inside.
We had both slept late which is always a treat, then had a lazy breakfast. It was one of those rare days where we had no errands to run, no obligations to fulfill, no place we had to be at any specific time. There were no holidays or birthdays or anniversaries immediately ahead of us to be cognizant of so, for a change, there was no pressure of time, committment or responsibility . Honestly, it was a beautiful thing.
The only question was, what shall we do with this beautiful day? After a wee bit of discussion, it turned out that we both felt like hiking but we really wanted to find some place new to us. Some place we've never been. Tim was on it! He found a nature trail in a town a wee bit more than a half hour south of us. All right! We hopped in the car and headed out.
We've been to and through this particular town many times before. It's an adorable smallish town right on the water that has a beautiful water front park and an astounding number of murals. But we had no idea about this nature trail. Cool! The surprises didn't end there.
We followed the directions easily and pulled right in to a parking space. The first surprise is that instead of being like most preserves.......kind of off the beaten track.....this one was right in town. In fact, it's right beside a fire station! Surprise!
The next surprise, and a very nice one at that, were the beautiful gardens in front of the trail head. I have never, ever seen that before. It was a marvelous thing. They had nice little benches to sit on, animal shaped topiaries, a butterfly garden, trees, grassy areas and flowers galore!
Eventually I had my fill of the gardens and we moved on to hit the trails. There were two; the trail proper and the trail extension. We did both. I will say this. The trails were nicely cut and maintained, there weren't a lot of people out walking (always a treat) and they had a surprising number of adorable little bridges.
We could hear some birds but didn't see any of them so I have zero bird photos. And I will blame that on very clever and camera shy birds hiding in the trees and overgrowth. But I have to take complete blame myself for the missing photos of: fiddler crabs (there were quite a few), butterflies (there were several), the giant spider or the mysterious and beautifully fragrant flowering shrub that I was hoping to identify later. I tried to get all of them. No Bueno.
I did get some interesting foliage shots though so that will have to do:
Oh and Tim captured a lizard for me. This lizard was so patient. The entire time I kept trying to bring the shot into focus over and over, he just quietly waited. Finally out of frustration I handed the camera off to Tim. Clearly I should have done that earlier. Tim got the photo and then the lizard left. Very kind of them both I thought.
It turned out to not be a particularly long hike, I think I spent more time prowling through the garden before hand than on the actual hike, but still, it we were glad we checked it out.
We stopped on the way home at my new favourite pizza place Bocca Lupo for take away pizza and wings. And it wasn't much later that we were stuffing our faces with awesome pizza (veggie for me and carnivore pizza for Tim) while sitting on the sofa in the family room watching TV, and reflecting a little bit on what a great day it was.
All in all, it was a great start to a new year!
Here we are 4 days into the New Year and I've managed to put Christmas 2020 completely away. Yup, it's true. Yesterday we packed up the lights, the tree and the wreath. Every ornament, every stocking and every snowman was lovingly, carefully, wrapped and packed. And then summarily stuffed into every dank, dark, crevasse Tim and I could squeeze out of the utility room. Tim moved a few things in this direction, I wiggled a few others in that direction, we both consolidated some other things and eventually we managed to find space for it all. Not certain where it all fit last year, but it's somewhere else this year.
Actually I know exactly what happened. We bought a second fridge. I know, I know. We are super spoiled. When we lived in Colorado, we did a lot of entertaining and we came to realize fairly quickly that having a second refrigeration was very handy! So, way back then, we bought a second one and put in our garage. The garage in Colorado had 3 bays so there was plenty of room for it in that third bay. Naturally when we were getting ready to move here to a much smaller house, one of the MANY things that did not move with us was that second fridge. ( I think we left it in the Colorado house for the new owners)
And why? Well, first of all, this house, our Florida house, is much smaller so space is at a premium. And yes, of course, we knew that ahead of time. This Florida house was not about big and fancy. This house was about location. We wanted to live as close as possible to the ocean and if that meant living in a much smaller space then we would just find a way to live smaller, make better use of whatever space we had and ruthlessly delete anything unnecessary in our lives. Secondly, this house has no garage. I know that sounds crazy (no garage?) but again, not really necessary. There is no snow here, no ice here, no freezing and subfreezing weather to worry about. And, I suppose, we figured that we would just entertain as dictated by available space. And that all sounded like a terrific idea. It made perfect sense. We were determined to follow through on all of our down-sizing plans.
And it mostly worked. Most of the things that we got rid of, we don't miss. But boy oh boy did we miss having that extra fridge. Room for Costco sized food purchases. Room for cases of cold water. Room for cookies after cookie baking marathons. Space for fancy desserts, for cold-cut platters, for giant watermelons, for popsicles, for extra ice. (while we don't have to worry about snow or ice anymore, we do have to survive hot, humid summers!) The extra fridge also means fewer trips to the grocery store and I am always in favour of that!
So we cleared out a space in the utility room (as opposed to a non-existent garage) for the new refrigerator. When considering where it would go we knew that the second fridge had to be close to the outlet for the cord(of course) and it would be nice if it was fairly close to the kitchen door for speed and efficiency. Tim and I stood in the utility room debating where the new appliance would go while eagerly awaiting it's delivery. Hmmmmmm. The most logical space was the exact spot where all of the Christmas decorations were stacked up in bins and bags and boxes. Oh well, it was almost time to decorate for the holidays anyway, so we hauled everything Chritmassy into the house. The new fridge fit perfectly, I mean PERFECTLY in that space and all was well with the world.
Until I undecorated. Hmmmm. Now we needed to find a new spot for all of this stuff! Yikes! Ok this was the time for me to finally fulfill my long-standing promise to myself to sort through all of the decorations and get rid of anything I wasn't using. I narrowed my eyes, hardened my heart, cracked my knuckles and began. It took a very long time. I had to stop and consider every single Christmas related item we have collected for the 27 years we've been married plus all of the crap I already owned and couldn't bear to part with before that.
In the end, I found that I was able to throw away the broken, ratty looking, falling apart things without mercy or hesitation. A little harder was setting aside for donation other perfectly fine things that had absolutely nothing wrong with them but somehow I just have never used. Naturally there were a lot of things that I simply could not get rid of. Too many memories, guys, too many memories. Still there was a fair amount of success. .And in fact, I was successful enough in my heartless decision making, that we were able to get rid of two bins. TWO! Ok I just impressed myself.
It's hard sometimes to let things go. It's a chore and not an easy one. But in the end, I'm really happy that I finally just got down to it and made it happen. Garbage pick up was this morning so the throw away pile is safely gone. I only need to stop by Good Will one day soon and all of the rest of it will be forever part of someone else's Christmas memories.
And you know what? I feels pretty darned good. Next up will be sorting through books. And getting rid of them will be even harder!
Wednesday was Photo Safari Day! And I must say that while it was a beautiful day and a nice walk in wonderful company, it was not an especially good photo day. Nothing interesting or exciting happened. There were no feral hogs to run from, no olympic leaps over unexpected bodies of water or home made bridges built over the same. We saw no deer or raccoons or rare birds. We did not stumble across brand new surprising trails or even rescue bicyclers with bike issues or lost hikers. We were not surprised by finding giant log frames or old shacks or a congregation of alligators. It wasn't freezing cold, we did not have to fight off hordes of killer mosquitos, there were no waterfalls or horses or cows. We did not get lost or dehydrated, I did not break my glasses and nobody was attacked by a mean spirited vine and fall down. (All of those things have happened to us though!)
Instead it was a nice but a rather uneventful and even ordinary walk. Ho Hum.
I did get a lot of tree photos. Sometimes I am just so wowed by how beautiful trees are that I snappyity snap them and miss other things. (this time though there really weren't any other things to miss) The thing about taking tree photos is that they always look so much better to my eye than to my camera eye. I'll share the some of the photos but I promise you that they looked ever so much better in person:
For the majority of this hike we saw no birds and heard very few. We were wondering if they all were on vacation. And then suddenly we came upon this one curve that was birdie central. So Many Birds! They were chattering and hopping and flying back and forth and hiding in the branches and in general making it very difficult to get their pictures. I got a few though ;)
Ok that part was really cool. We could have just stood there and taken shot after shot after shot of birds. But our necks were getting sore from shooting UP and I was getting a little dizzy from tracking them as they flitted from thither to yon and back again. So eventually, we moved on.
There were no more bird photos but I did get a few wild flowers. Just a few.
We decided a couple of things. First that we need to hike some other preserves and parks for a little while. We know the ones here in Venice too well and need a change of pace. Also we think we need to start the hike a little bit later. Apparently in the winter months, the birds sleep in. And one of the things that helps to make a good photo an even better photo is light. Winter light doesn't really warm up as early as we've been heading out.
So that's kind of it. Still had a great time because we always do. But next week we will have an even better time because we will be hiking a different preserve! I'm exciting at the prospect of finding something NEW and possibly even exciting!
Don't worry. You know I will share. Whether you want me to or not! teehee
Have a great weekend!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.