Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Going Out on a Limb

At the risk of raising scorn amongst my readers, I have to admit that I am one of those old fashioned folks that still believe in creation by God. As stubborn as I am, no one can convince me that this beautiful bird appeared from a big bang.
The last time I was through the peacock neighborhood, most of the males had yet to get their gorgeous tail feathers, nor were those beautiful scale like things completely filled out. Scale like things--getting all technical there. I do love the tail feathers, but the symmetry and colorations of those things get me every time. Looking them up just now I could not find them specifically labeled, so I assume they are feathers as well. Then there are the tips, oh my!
Let's put it this way, the male peacock is a marvel of creativity and engineering! Then too, most people think the spots look like eyes, however to me they look more like fat little hearts. Perhaps because I am a romantic?

The ladies who do the flowers at church outdid themselves on Easter Sunday, as did the pastor, and the choir. Beautiful service.
We went to Hawkers for lunch, following the service, and since Bruce was wearing a white shirt and dark pants, when we pulled up, I asked him if I could get a photo of him next to the bright orange wall on the building adjacent to the restaurant. I've been thinking a lot about using contrast in art and quilting of late, knowing he would embody that concept against the wall. He's so sweet to work with me on my photographic experiments.
He then asked if I wanted my picture made, and of course I said no, as I look horrible in photographs, however, he insisted, and since I told you I was wearing a springy dress, I thought I'd show it to you.
Naturally I am talking while he's taking the photograph! Let's just say growing bangs out is not for the faint of heart....yeesh! Then too, I've not been able to rid myself of the plantars wart on my toe, thus the sandals, as anything with much of a heel kills me. The dress on the other hand, a gift from Bruce last year, is pretty as can be.

On the way home, I asked him to pull over and let me photograph this amazing display of sunflowers in front of a house just off Mills Avenue.
Woo hoo!!! Interestingly enough, years and years ago, I pulled over myself to photograph a flower on the side of this very house that proved to be very popular with buyers. Because I'm no longer selling myself, here it is.
At the time I did not even know it was a dahlia, mostly being drawn in by the gorgeous color. Getting back into the car that day, which was gray and gloomy, I might add, I heard the song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and a title was born for this photograph. Not the diamonds part ,but I thought of Lucille Ball, and since I'd laid down on the ground and taken it against the sky....well, it only seemed fitting. People often wondered how I came up with titles and now you, too, know my secrets.

Every single year I seem to take this same photograph. One because I love the old chairs, and two because with fallen Tabebuia blooms surrounding them, I cannot resist. My neighbors are accustomed to me roaming in their yards.
Speaking of the outdoors, as I am wont to do, this little guy was entertaining as heck to watch at the feeder. Very aggressive, he kept flinging seed to the ground as he ate.
For those of you who like knowing more, I'm pretty sure this is a Hairy Woodpecker, but don't quote me on that. Or maybe it is a Downy Woodpecker?

I do know that these are ibises and they were patrolling our street for food the other day. I'm pretty sure it is breeding season for them, which apparently causes the beak and feet to be much redder than normal.
The leader of the pack broke off, following another group across the street. Perhaps looking for love?
While chatting with Jonathan and Alissa on Sunday night, I asked if they'd seen my posts with the eagles? Of course they hadn't! They are thirty-somethings, they are far too busy to read Camera Crazy! I mentioned that because I could not find the owls, I was having to watch eagles and eaglets instead. Not that I was complaining or anything....it is a good problem to have. Anyway, I saw a call coming through from Pam so I asked him to hold on a second. She exclaimed----"good news, we saw the owls and their babies on our walk tonight!!!" Unbelievable. Getting right back to my call, I had to retract the owls not being anywhere in sight.

As it turns out, they moved this year, nesting in a back yard about four doors down from Nell's house. Naturally, at first light on Monday, I rode right over scanning the trees. No luck at all. About to concede defeat, I finally spotted one of the parents high above me.
Another gray and gloomy day, so the photo is not my best, but merely documentation. I went back later in the day with the same result. I went back yesterday morning, more of the same. All was not lost because I stopped by for a chat with Nell who is still working in her beautiful gardens at 80. The blooming Nun's orchids are divine, as is the yellow orchid she cleverly planted in the ground.
Aren't they something? While we were visiting a ladybug appeared, not something I see very often.
More rain and gloom around here, but I'm thinking today we will once again have some sunshine, or so I hope. One thing though, sewing is a good way to spend the gloomy days inside.

So, here's what I'm thinking about creation....because the Bible says we are made in God's image, all of us are creators as well, whether it be with wood, paint, words, fabric and the list goes on. Some folks find their creative talents early on, some later in life, but I believe the urge to create eventually surfaces. What is your outlet for creativity?

Our friend Cheryle, who once tells me she killed a fake plant, now has a garden that is a feast for the senses, with blooming plants everywhere. Having lived in an apartment most of her life, she'd never really gotten into gardening until she and David bought Lois's house with blooming gardens already in place. Cheryle, though, has taken it to an entirely different level. That said, I took this yesterday, while over there discussing her next move doing outdoor art festivals, and while there is not a bloom in sight, the texture of the leaves caught my eye.
While trying not to be too negative, I did tell her all of the difficulties involved with selling art out of a tent; things I learned, sometimes the hard way! For me, I am ever so grateful to be out of that business even if I do sometimes miss chatting it up with folks from around the world!

Back to my sewing machine,

Gail

p.s. Yesterday was Matt and Tom's two year anniversary. Time really does fly the older you get...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Some Serious Soakings

April showers bring May flowers? How about some late March showers? We knew we were in for some serious rain from these clouds on Thursday night.
Two inches fell, mostly in a very short time period; the rest came down softly throughout the night.

Fortunately for the cupola raising, the rain held off until around 6. Bruce worked from home so we could head over there by 1 PM, however, due to the terrible traffic we encountered on our way to Winter Park, it was already in full swing when we arrived. (no pun intended!)
Lifted by a skilled crane operator, the contractor is up there trying to make it fit just right.
New England Avenue was closed off for both safety and storage reasons. The copper dome was to go on next.
Except, the first structure had to be re-raised to get it on perfectly.
It was then that we decided to get some lunch on Park Avenue, a bad move on our part. Not only was the sandwich not so good, but the service was slow as well. By the time we walked back, the copper was in place. Soon thereafter, they raised a bucket to put on the finishing touch.
One last bucket raising with the pastor, the project manager, and the church administrator to bless the raising and it was complete.
With the storm clouds moving in fast and furious! Because we were so close, I asked B if he'd mind if we headed over to Kraft Azalea Gardens a few miles away. When you are a photographer, people are always suggesting places for you to go, for which I am grateful. Two friends made the KAG suggestion, so who was I to argue? The snowy egrets nest there, putting on a show year after year.
Because it is mating season, they sport the green mask you see by the bill. That said, there are plenty, and I mean plenty, of nests already, with parents keeping watch ,while others show off right next to them.
Spanish moss drapes from most every tree, both cypress and oak alike. Generally I don't think too highly of the anhinga, but this shot of one made me rethink that.
They too, are nesting in great numbers, generally higher up than the egrets. Did I mention how noisy it is with so many nesting birds? I should have, although Bruce napped in the car the whole time, so not enough to keep him awake. :)

Riding through Southern Oaks the next morning, the rain did a curious round up of all the fallen oak leaves on the streets, leaving them scrunched up like an accordion.
Then too, the rain did a number on all of the flowering trees, leaving carpets of blooms on both driveways and roof tops.
The blue sky you see was short lived, as more rain fell on both Friday, and Saturday. No drizzles here--driving rain totaling another two inches. The good news i,s after such a long dry spell, this should be great for both our parched lawn and my newly planted flowers.

Michelle brought us a sweet little Easter basket, the only candy to be found in this household!
Isn't it adorable? So cute, I hate to eat it!

About two weeks ago I decided to make a quilt for Fallon. Not for any special occasion really, but I know how much she loves the one I made for Bill a few years ago., loving to snuggle with it while watching television, even if it is not her colors. Knowing she likes all things blue, I began putting my fabric choices together, ending up with 23 different fabrics, many of which I've used in projects for others. After making all of the blocks I discovered it was getting way to big for this novice to quilt on her machine, so I had some leftover blocks that I put together in a baby quilt size. I began quilting and in a happy accident, I ended up with a quilting look I like. Really, I should tell you it was a dumb mistake on my part that I ended up being happy with.
Two lines of quilting adjacent to each other, followed by a space, which I'm sorry is not all that evident from the photo.

Finally, on my way to Wandering Stitches yesterday morning, I decided to check on the horses, finding only some cows. Now, before you think anything about my decision to post a cow photo, let me explain. In years to come, if anyone stumbles upon this blog, I've no doubt they will be hard pressed to believe that in the year of our Lord, 2016, cows were still present amongst us in Orlando. With the improvement in the economy, there is very little open land remaining. So there.
And you thought I only post bird photos! Well, cattle egrets don't really count, do they?

Happy Easter my friends! He is risen, He is risen indeed.

Not in my Easter bonnet, but a springy dress, in spite of the gloomy skies,

Gail

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spring Sightings

I hardly know where to start I'm so excited about so many things...

Perhaps a good place to start is the pink Tabebuia blooms?
And really, why not because they are so beautiful, and before we know it, they will be gone.? Now it seems as if I've given short shrift to the yellow blooms, which are actually my favorite of the two. I wish this were a photo of my tree but, alas, it is not. Mine is still puny with nothing like the profuse blooming of this tree.
What I love so much about the yellow is how garish it is, as in really, really, intense yellow, unlike any other bloom that I can think of. My sister Carol once taught me that contrast in art is the key, and I believe that holds true for nature as well. What is noticeable about the pink blooms is the yellowish/orange center, whereas the yellow are just plain yellow, through and through.

Trees that are not found often in Orlando are Dogwood trees, but every year I seem to scout out a few to photograph. I like them for their soft nature.
Speaking of flowering trees, Matt and Tom are going to Japan for a vacation soon, and you know what that means...cherry blossoms! Lucky guys.

Sunday, after church, I convinced Bruce to go to a dive bar for lunch, or that is what we assumed it was. You don't suppose I would go there just for the heck of it though, do you? Somewhere I'd read that The Hideaway was pretty good, and we found out that is indeed the case. The hamburgers, priced at $6, were some of the best we've eaten at a restaurant. A very nice surprise.
Keeping the restaurant theme going, Sherry called on Tuesday afternoon, asking if we'd like to meet her and Jo at the nearby Johnny's Other Side for dinner. Because I'd been so busy, I'd not seen Sherry for ages, so we quickly agreed. While waiting for Bruce to come home from the job site, Bill called and when I told him our plans, he said it was half price on Tuesdays and it would be super busy. He was not kidding!
With a live band, and packed house, it was a lively evening. Plus, the weather was perfect!

Yesterday morning, instead of eagle watching, I had to take something to Bruce at the job. Remember I told you they were taking that corner of the mall apart? Well, here you go...
I talked Bruce into letting me get a photo of him in his hard hat, something I've not see in quite some time.
That is an old hat, one from his days at Waltree Construction where he worked about twenty five years ago, back when we had a full house of boys. Here's another look at the hoarding, as well as their website.
The outdoor patio will soar over the top of PF Chang...the left side of the photo. From the drawings I've seen, it is really going to be something.

What caused me to turn my car around when I saw this building,
is the paint color, which is pretty darn bold. Once I had a closer look, I got a laugh at the sign which says, The House Brothers. Think they are trying to ride the coattails of the popular HGTV show, Property Brothers?

Our new neighbor, in Angela and Matt's old house, told Bruce he saw us on television again last night. I'm sure he was impressed with all the "Wows" we said. NOT!

This morning I went out early to see the almost full moon in the morning sky positioned over the lake. Yesterday when I got up I was looking everywhere, at least from the backyard, and because of our big trees, could not figure out where it was. Somehow this morning I did see it, and went to have a closer look.
It was just before sunrise so I rode over to Lake Gem Mary, facing east, and the sky looked like this:
Those same clouds, or more of their ilk, began moving over the moon.
I so wonder what that red line was....

After getting some breakfast for Bruce, and because it was not too chilly, I decided to go do a little eagle watching, and was not in the least disappointed. Oh my! When I first arrived, one eagle was standing guard, which was all I could hope for. Having the second one swoop in with a fish, was even more so. Unfortunately, I was unable to capture said swooping, however, two white heads was good enough for me.
Which now leads me to believe that there are indeed two eaglets because we have seen two black heads in this post. No sooner had the one flown in, then it flew back out.
Don't you just wish I could do a better job? I sure do!

Oh my gosh...I nearly forgot to show you something that was very exciting for me. The other day, after a fruitless rime searching for an eagle, I was riding home down Waterwitch and saw a flock of birds fly from one side of the street to the other. Because they weren't all that close, I had no idea what kind of birds they were. Once I unloaded my camera card, I was thrilled to see that they were Cedar Waxwings, a bird I'd only seen before in a guide book. I know it is hard to tell, but believe me there are a whole bunch in this tree.
An old friend, Peggy, commented on my last post...have camera, will travel. That's for sure!

Because the job is so complicated, with problems arising seemingly every day, Bruce has set up an office in the space to better solve the little problems before they become big problems. Today, however, he is working from home, and in just a little bit we are heading over to Winter Park to watch the crane raise the cupola onto the top of the church. Doesn't that sound neat?

Mailbox money just came--always a good thing.

Happy Spring,

Gail

Monday, March 21, 2016

Getting the Inside Scoop

Blogging Friday morning, a text came in from Pam about her sewing machine tension...could I help? Sure, I'll ride over on my bike. After checking the machine and setting things straight, I asked her, "do you want to see a nearby eagle's nest?" How would you answer that question if you were the curious type? I thought so.

Off we went, riding down Ferncreek. It is always great fun showing someone a nearby neighborhood that they've yet to see, and this time was the no different. As we rode down Waterwitch, on our way to the cut-through to Harbour Island, and yes, that is how they spell it, I spotted an eagle in the usual spot in the tall pine tree, lakeside. That is how things started...

Pam was freaking out at how cool it is in Harbour Island, with all of the old trees shading much of the road and beautiful homes, saying she could not wait to show the area to Glenn. I can't say as I blame her because it is a very special place, right off Orange Avenue, that is like being in another world altogether. Before we got to the eagle house I saw a girl a little ways away taking a photograph with her mobile, and I knew that something neat was going on. Indeed it was...this hawk sat and stared at us until I started moving closer, and off it flew.
If you are keeping count, that is two raptors so far. We rode down to the house and were disappointed that there was not an eagle in sight. Boo hoo! After a bit, I said let's ride down this way and I'll show you around a little more. We came across these beautiful bushes filled with blooms that Pam could not immediately identify, although she did guess that perhaps it was a mango.
Anyone who knows Pam's garden prowess knows that her guess is generally an educated one, and indeed she was right. Fragrant as well.

Not quite ready to give up, we rode back to the nest, hoping in the interim something would have changed. We ran into John Mears, (of Mears Transportation for my Orlando readers) while he was walking his two Boxers. We chatted. He'd not noticed the nest until he saw me looking at it, but now his eyes were glued to the tree. Lo and behold, he said I think I see something moving. Sure enough....
Not great, but still exciting. Following the sighting we went on our way, with Pam and I splitting up at the entrance to her neighborhood, but not before we saw yet another hawk fly into the tree canopy over Pershing Avenue!!
Set against the new Spring green leaves it was so pretty, eventually putting on a bit of a show for me. Remember, I am not a nature photographer, only a nature lover!
Wouldn't that have been an awesome photograph without my movement due to my excitement?? Not long after he/she took off toward my side of the street!
And now you know why it is called a Red Shouldered Hawk! Pretty neat, huh? You would think this hawk was accustomed to people as I got yet another photo when it flew onto a hedge.
No eagle, but wow...two hawks in one morning and that is not counting the one we saw way high on top of an Australian Pine out Pam's back door. Amazing, really.

Friday evening we went to a charity event with David and Michelle, sponsored by the Junior League, of which Michelle is a member. It is not often I get a photo of Bruce and one of his sons.
I only wish the elder Peck would have been looking more at me! Held at the former Peabody Hotel, it was a night of fun and bidding on silent auctions. More another time on that topic!

Saturday morning, while Bruce was at the job site, I rode over, once again to the nest. I told you I was in real danger of becoming obsessed! I was so excited when, yes, Mr. Eagle was on the lookout.
Let me put this into perspective for you...
Way the heck up there for sure!

While I was milling about, the gentleman, whose back yard contains this tree, was out working in his front yard, and you won't be surprised to learn that I struck up a conversation. Mr. Joe Stine could not have any nicer had he tried. Oh my goodness, we had such a nice visit, with him filling me in on the eagles, who apparently have been using this nest since 2006!!
Don't you just bet he's been wearing his hair like this for decades? I do. Well, anyone, again Orlando folks will find this crazy interesting, Mr. Stine used to run Harry P. Leu Inc., the business founded by Mr. Leu whose story you will find HERE. If you've ever been to Leu Gardens in Orlando you won't want to miss it. Joe took over the business from his own father, who has a neat mention in this article from the Orlando Sentinel. You may not know it, but mostly I write this blog for myself, learning as I go. I'm fairly confidant most of you never go to the links I add, but I keep adding them nonetheless. How else was I to know that Joe's dad was originally from Charleston, SC? Must be where he got his Southern gentleman manner. He and his wife Joan have lived in this house since the island was developed in 1974.
He pointed out a number of camellias in his yard that came directly from Mr. Leu before he turned the property over to the city! He recounted tales of playing on the grounds of what we now call Leu Gardens. You can imagine I was giddy with excitement! He also told me that generally the eagles only have one eaglet; should there be two they would fight like mad for food. While we were chatting up popped Mama and baby.
As you can see, the sky became overcast during our conversation, making photographs more difficult, however, we did see both parents fly to and fro before papa took up guard once again.
Should you be curious about the dark heads, I've learned, and perhaps you already knew that the eagles generally get their white heads around age five.

Apparently, in 2005, the year of three major hurricanes, the island lost one third of the old trees including a previous nest. We are seeing the latest model. :)

Now you too, have the inside scoop!

Speaking of perspectives, last week when I went to the cemetery, while chatting with some folks, one of the women picked up a pine cone, marveling at the size. My friend Sue loves giant pinecones, so I asked if I might have it for her. Absolutely, she replied. Putting it alongside one of my hibiscus blooms gives you an idea of just how gigantic it is.
Isn't that something?

Are you tired of birds yet? I hope not because this little guy visited recently and I could not get over how RED he is. Come August he won't look anything like this beautiful!
Had enough for today? Watch this space for the next installment which may or may not include some birds.

In bird heaven,

Gail

Long Beach, CA