Thursday, July 18, 2019

You Just Never Know

Here's a newsflash---I put on makeup this afternoon! And just how long have you been without, you ask? The short answer is, far too long. The truth is, between the heat and just plain laziness, I've been looking not great lately. I wanted to look better for my darling husband when he returns from his church work. Let's see if he notices!

And while church is taking up a lot of his time, he still managed to finish this for our living room and I could not be happier with the color. Or having the television hanging on the wall.  I can't wait to show Roger, over at Ace, a photograph. Don't know what I'm talking about? Here's a link to my last post in case you missed it.
Speaking of which, have I told you that I'm an administrator for the Lake Pineloch Village Community facebook page? From that involvement I have learned a lot about engagements, page views, reactions, and what have you, all related to whatever I post. For my personal page, I am not privy to all of that information, but I can tell that a lot of regular readers are not seeing my posts. How else to explain no reactions to some of the most interesting photos I've ever taken? The point is, there is a lot going on behind the scenes of facebook, that's for darn sure.

A lot goes on behind the scenes of Days for Girls, thanks to our fearless leader Sharlene, who works tirelessly throughout the year. Monday we packed kits for an upcoming shipment to Malawi. I began the day, along with other volunteers, counting bars of soap. Lots of soap. 700 went back into inventory with the rest packed tightly in boxes for the trip to Africa. Next we filled the shields with liners,
which made their way into Ziploc bags, heading down our assembly line. The bags have five more liners, two pairs of panties, a washcloth, instructions, and an additional Ziploc that the girls use as a washing receptacle. The final step is closing it all up and stuffing into small drawstring bags.
Before long our boxes of menstrual kits will be loaded on a container ship, headed to West Africa where Helen will distribute them. Should this charity interest you, here's a link to their webpage.

Because we finished an hour early (!), I went to see Maureen. It was Bingo day and that is always fun. Although Maureen had three cards, she was not one of the winners. When someone does win, they all sing, B I N G O....
It was the first time I'd seen that young man who is helping the woman in purple hear the calls. He's been volunteering for four years which I find remarkable. Unfortunately I cut Maureen out of the photo! She is adjusting as well as she can to her new life in a wheelchair.

Holy cow...we have a small tomato!
We've no clue if it will ripen in this blasted heat though. Speaking of which, well, it is hot. With rain sometimes. Which is why I try to walk as early as possible. Do you see what I see in the big tree?
Stay tuned...

My Green Heron seems to be hanging around and since he got no love in my last post, here he is again. Of course it could be a girl, couldn't it?
Remember we talked about bird identification and how there is so much to learn? To the casual observer, these two look very similar,
however, the foreground bird is a Little Blue Heron while the other is a TriColored Heron. Now you know.

Well, the nearly grown up Cygnets are changing colors, little by little. This took me so by surprise that it is not very crisp but it does the trick of showing how they are changing.
Speaking of which, another tricky part of identification is the molting stage. This Wood Duck couple looks way more similar at this time of the year. The male is on the left although it is hard to tell given that he does not have his brilliant colors.
Those eyes give it away!

When I've not been out looking at birds, I have been thinking about, or working on the bedroom. I got all of the dark blue done, however, we aren't certain about that soffit.
As you can see, I put some green paint on one wall trying to pick the color for the rest of the room. It is Georgian Green by Benjamin Moore. I painted more of it,
however, Bruce remains unconvinced, voting for the color I auditioned on the other wall. Wyeth Blue by BM.
Input from you would be most welcome!! Next week the crown molding will go in, and then we will actually do the final painting. Hoping to have a decision by then!

One of the projects Bruce has been working on at church is the rehabilitation of the large front porch columns that are in serious need. Peeling paint and deteriorating sentinels is not a good look. He's interviewed several contractors, or at least as many as do that kind of work and put a budget together. In other words, project managing for no pay, and he couldn't be any happier.
While he keeps on working, I keep looking at birds. This morning I saw one of my favorites, the Limpkin picking up a snail.
Apparently, one of many, many eaten in this same spot.
For the most part I've been confining my walks to Lake Davis, mainly because of the shade, but this morning I walked around Lake Cherokee as well. And you know what? Not a swan to be found. Where could they be? Part of the lake is inaccessible as far as sight lines, but once around the houses, I peered through my zoom lens, seeing a little white, but alas, it does not look like a swan to me!
Green, green, and more green! But no swans. Where could they be? I'll keep you posted.

While leaving I decided to go a different direction and am I glad I did. You just never know what you will see, and in this instance, pulling the car over to the curb, I hopped out because, by golly, there was a pelican on Lake Davis. (not there during my initial walk around the lake)
Now that I've had time to do research, I've discovered it is a juvenile who, apparently does not know that she should be closer to the ocean. Watching from the shore, I knew when some ducks came into the picture,
that the Pelican would do something. It sure did!
Took off, flying towards downtown.
As an aside, so wondering what the SunTrust tower will become when the sale of the bank goes through. Anyway, I kept my eye on the bird and sure enough, it came back for a fish, plunging headfirst from the sky. As they do.
By now I knew I had to get going, having errands to run. As I walked back to my car, who should I see but Harris sitting on his big front porch. We chatted, and it was he who said, "you just never know" what you will see on a lake. Isn't that the truth?

your friend,

Gail

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Painting Projects, and Unsurprisingly, Birds

I checked out another excellent book from our church library, one filled with all kinds of bird goodness. Don't let the name fool you---How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes, is a primer on how to bring birds into your life, enjoying their beauty and diversity, without having serious knowledge about birds. And while you may think I know a bit about birds, I'm totally in the bad birdwatching camp because I can't tell calls, nor can I identify age or sex. That is for good birdwatchers!

Allow me to share just one paragraph. Skim over it if you want, but I think you will enjoy it if you don't.

"Once you start to look at birds--once your eyes follow the flight of a passing crow or a bunch of starlings whirling across the road without any conscious decision having been made---than sooner or later you will have a sight of such wonder and perfections that you will always be a birdwatcher. This is nothing less than a statistical certainty."

When I began taking bird watching somewhat seriously, I can't tell you, but it is now a pretty big part of my everyday life, whether out the window or elsewhere.  Not watching birds when they are present is now not an option. Most of you do not fall into that camp, but I've heard from a few readers that having seen so many bird photos in this blog have more of an interest in birds than they ever thought possible. Really, it is about celebrating the wonder of life every single day. 

So, without further ado, let's get to some of those birds and painting projects!

Where shall I begin? With birds, naturally.

As you know, I'm trying to make more time for walking, preferably in a place that I can both watch birds and walk. Lake Davis fits the bill perfectly. Most people I encounter are far more serious about the walking aspect, but I frequently venture off the path, sometimes to my detriment. I was so fixated on watching this scene unfold that I soon discovered I was standing in an ant bed with the lingering bites to prove it!
This was the straggler in the group of five ducklings!

It wasn't the same day, but another, that I happened to see an Anhinga with a fish. A common enough sight, but Mr. Barnes suggests that no sighting should be taken for granted. As a photographer, this time my common sighting became somewhat uncommon. As you know, these birds, unlike the wading birds, dive deep for their food. With no waterproofing on their wings, the feathers act differently than other water birds.
All those wet feathers remind me of a  billowing skirt on a woman's bathing suit. Humor me, okay? So, I saw her coming in towards the shore. Now it has been a mystery thus far as to how they get that fish down their skinny necks, but now I somewhat understand. You will too.
Isn't that so astonishing??? Who knew they had an expandable pouch?? Now what, you wonder?
From our trip to Lake Apopka, I now know that this one is a female juvenile because of the coloring. What I had never seen before is how after snagging the fish, apparently they spear it, perhaps to kill it before consuming? Or does it just make it easier to get it down the hatch?
Gulp!!
Pretty neat, huh? It's not so often that I see a Green Heron. To tell you the truth, it is hard for me to keep all of the herons straight.
On June 26, while Bruce was with me, I showed him a Mottled Duck nesting in a big Oak tree. Or so I think that is the species, however, it is probably a Mallard. So confusing!!
On subsequent visits I would walk by, say hi, and wonder when her eggs would hatch. Two days ago, I began walking and was dismayed to see she was off the nest, leaving eggs behind, as well as two broken ones on the ground!
Walking around the lake once I saw no evidence of brand new ducklings. BTW--there are gobs and gobs of water fowl in the lake right now!
From where I stood I counted way more than 50 and that did not include the swan family. My photograph shows only three juveniles, but all four are doing well. Aren't they big???
Just when I was getting discouraged on my second lap, I think I may have spotted them. At least that is what I'm hoping.
And while I would apologize for showing so many bird photographs, at least there is some variety unlike so many food blogs that show about sixteen photos of the same dish! Tom and I were discussing that very thing when I was looking for the Thai Noodle Salad recipe which I'm including here because it is scrumptious!   (I lied, there are only eight in that one!)

Tired of birds? Here's something different...
Talk about common....we have so many brown anole running all over the place, it ain't funny. The green version, not as much. Floridians have seen so darn many that we tend to ignore them, however, just like the British birds that Mr. Barnes describes, to him they are an everyday occurrence, yet I've never seen a Great Tit. Very soon, I, too will see one in person while visiting Matt and Tom in London!

I seriously don't understand how the author of Where the Crawdads Sing has the main character collect feathers because, surely she was aware of the law I told you about banning feather collections. This explanation is for Jan who was puzzled by it.  Click on the link for more info, but one thing I gleaned from it is that there is a $100,000 fine for having an Eagle feather!!! Good grief. And why am I so surprised about her inclusion? Because, according to this, she is a wildlife scientist!!

Anyway, we have finally arrived at the home decorating portion! To begin with, I was so blah about our bedroom because, well, in my haste while getting the condo ready, I picked another dud. The paint name says it all. Nonchalant White is dull as can be. Thus, while Matt was here we chatted about painting it another color. And while at the time I was thinking a dark green, instead I went with a very dark blue. First though, I took the paint chip to the fabric store for curtain fabric, finding a lovely floral, then I purchased the paint. Here's an amazing happening. I laid out the fabric on our bed, turned to my dresser and, oh my gosh, this painting by Jane, Tom's mum, matches it perfectly. Amazing! I wish I'd used it for an "inspiration" photo! Not really....I am so over all of that and don't get me started on "influencers"!
While Bruce went to Ace to get paint for his project, I had him get a sample can of Waterloo by Sherwin Williams. I began painting a small section, eventually covering the whole wall behind the bed.
It is anything but nonchalant, right? Bruce, while he likes the color, is not sold on a whole room of it, thus I'm back to the drawing board on wall color for the rest of the room. Oh wait...I have a painting for inspiration!

In my last post I showed you the new television which is working nicely. But, I was way over the brown cabinet. While looking for the post about B painting the dresser for the entryway, I came across this post about buying this very space!  Can't find it, but the gist was that we both really liked the Dark Teal paint color so let's just use that again. Plus we still had a can! He put some on the drawer and deciding it too dark for that part of the room, could he get the next shade lighter?
Taking the doors off for sanding, he painted the cabinet in the color I selected.
Hmmm......At the same time he cut holes in the wall to fish the wires through, making it look really sleek. Okay, the paint.....not so good. Way too turquoise, not to mention bright.

If there is one thing that Bruce dislikes, and there are not that many, it is backing up. But back up he did, offering to repaint it if I would go get the paint. Once there I explained to Roger, the paint guy at Ace, my dilemma and he said if I brought the paint back, he would see what he could do. At $30 a quart, I gladly drove home. Studying the formula, he came up with a new color and now Mr. Peck is in the process of toning things down. It is drying much darker and BETTER!
He's gone to help Bill but if he gets home early enough, no doubt he will get it done today!

Such a wonderful man to live with, and he even shares my bird watching fascination. How, all those years ago, did I ever get so lucky?

your friend,

Gail

Monday, July 8, 2019

Soaking in the Heat

Whereas I am sick to death of being hot, the same does not hold true for our visitors from London. Orlando delivered the heat in spades. And a few of those days we experienced the full force of the Florida sun. But before we get into that, one of the things Tom was most hoping to see was the otters. Day after day, primarily when he and Matt had left for a bit, I saw the group of three, both in the water, as well as rubbing off on shore, as is their custom.
They rub and they roll, what for, I'm not entirely sure, but I've seen them make these moves often. Finally, while we were out, he saw all three of them frolicking in the water. Or so he says! Just kidding....actually, it made me so happy. Now he can add that to his owl and alligator sightings. You would think he'd gone to visit his in-laws in the country rather than two miles from downtown!

A week ago Monday we braved the heat to visit Leu Gardens.
While making the obligatory lake visit, turtles swam below.
A fairy door exhibit brought in loads of kids following maps and squealing with delight when they found one. This was our favorite.
My lens did not allow me to include all five doors which reminded us of GOT, shorthand for Game of Thrones. There are some mighty fine specimens of oak trees dotting the gardens.
One of the guys spotted this amazing grasshopper chilling on a post. We wondered, and this is kind of gross, if that little dangle was waste product. What do you think?
Beating the heat was our mission on Tuesday when we went to Cocoa Beach, arriving early before the sand gets blazing hot.
Perfect water temperature for swimming, and eventually body surfing. Eventually because I kept trying, watching while Matt rode the waves to shore, while I rode them for about a foot. Finally, I got the hang of it, only wishing the waves were bigger.

It was fun watching the surf camp just down the way.
We never could figure out exactly what was wrong with this crab aside from having one eye completely coated in sand.
While we were in Vancouver, I kept thinking the seagulls were much larger than the ones we are used to. I still think that is true.
A visit to the nearby Ron Jon's was fun with Tom getting sunglasses while Bruce and Matt came home with t-shirts. As you do.  After a Publix sub in Merritt Island, while driving on 520, a warning light came on the dashboard signaling some sort of problem with the coolant. As a precautionary measure, Bruce turned off the car AC, driving home cautiously. The bad news was that they could not look at it until Friday. The good news is that it is now fixed.

While home, Matt and Tom kept working on the puzzle.
Crazy hard, they said it was a good thing I did not attempt a 1,000 piece puzzle and I tend to agree.
Wednesday evening was our Lake Pineloch party for the 4th of July with hot dogs and hamburgers,
cooked by Burch in the front, suffering from a sinus problem btw, and David. Unfortunately we had some rain, but the good news is that it was not enough to cancel anything. Michelle stood with her umbrella over the paper goods, while others gathered by the covered bar area.
When will I learn to position myself better for fireworks photos?
A potluck complete with loads of different dishes, desserts, and PLENTY of watermelon. We danced the night away....

On the 4th we went to Winter Park to attend their celebration,
along with several hundred others,
many of whom brought their own chairs. Because we did not, we snagged some seats on the bleachers, both a good and bad decision. Good because we had somewhere to sit, bad because it was blazing hot in the sun!
Next year we will know better. One thing though, they did everything possible to make folks have a good time, including giving out free water, old fashioned fans (worked great), hot dogs and watermelon. Pretty amazing.

And then there was the patriotic music provided by the Bach Festival, conducted by Dr. John Sinclair from our church. The keyboard player was none other than Lynn Peghiny who, get this, played the organ for our wedding when she was 13 years old!! Pretty amazing, right? 
After lunch we spent a few hours at home before going over to Matt's old friend Liza's parents' home in Belle Isle for dinner, fellowship, and fireworks. Oh, and giant bubbles too!
 Mike, Liza's Dad, made up some bubble mix that kept both adults and kids entertained.
It was so hot and humid, the smoke from the fireworks hung in the air. I had not seen Clara, Liza's oldest for ages, and what a delightful young girl she's become, although it does not surprise me in the least coming from such fine parents as Mike and Liza. Here she is writing her name with a giant sparkler.
Generally, when Matt comes to town, we get him to help us with technology. Do you do the same when your young folks come home? Bruce got a new laptop that he mostly set up himself, using the provided voice commands, a genius idea! Matt did some tweaking on the computer, and then, on his 43rd birthday, he helped us both buy and set up a new smart television, something that the kids had been encouraging us to get for a while now.
Matt did the technical part while Bruce did the hanging it on the wall part, something I've been wanting for a while now. He put up a spiffy hanger that allows us to turn the television any which way. Good stuff.

Then it was Saturday evening and time for them to head back to London under ominous skies.
One last photo,
and we left them to head to their gate. We drove over to Lisa and Oren's to gather with our friends for, what was meant to be, a pool party. Although rain was predicted for the whole week, mostly it came when we did not want it to, and Saturday night was no exception, causing their flight to have a delayed take off and the pool party to move indoors.

A few hours later then planned, they arrived home and dry to catch up with their non-holiday lives. In about six weeks it will be our turn to go to London, and instead of soaking in the heat, we do so hope we will be soaking up just the opposite! Two weeks into August, and I will be losing my mind....

your friend,

Gail


You Just Never Know