Thursday, January 31, 2019

Excitement All Around

My friends, there has been all sorts of excitement going on around here. I suspect you can guess that some of it is bird related, can't you? Sick of them? I sure hope not! Otherwise you will probably have to go elsewhere for some light entertainment because I don't see MY fascination with all things birdy diminishing anytime soon. :)
Let me just tell you that when I spotted the distinctive white head of a Hooded Merganser on our lake, I was absolutely thrilled. Times like these is when I wish I had a longer lens like many of the folks I know that are bird nuts like me. Lately, I'd seen a few local photographs and hoped they would come to me, and sure enough, they did.

It must have been that same afternoon when a Wood Duck surprised me by flying into the tree outside our door.
What you really came here for is a kitchen update isn't it? On Monday, Pete and Victor prepared the kitchen for painting with paper completely covering the backsplash,
as well as the floors and appliances.
And then nothing happened until Wednesday when Troy arrived to begin spraying inside this.
Yup, there is our two plastic plates and wine glasses, you know the important stuff. In another first for me, (think Publix sub), during this time with the kitchen completely shut down, I bought some Chinese food for lunch, and was it ever delicious. Way too much of course, however, that worked perfectly because Bruce had it for dinner while we could still get in our refrigerator. Nice Dave lives a few doors down where he heated it. And here we go...coat number one.
I told you it was exciting! 

Before that happened, on Tuesday while Bruce was gone to the plane, I took a walk around Lake Davis to enjoy a little sunshine. Chilly, but nice. I saw the Ring Necked Ducks,
as well as the Blue Teal, hanging out with some American Coots. I am no smart cookie when it comes to bird identification making me ever so grateful for Google.
If you the the slightest bit squeamish, you may want to skim past the next series of photos but, if you are like me and are interested in how nature works, by all means, keep reading.

Oftentimes I see the Anhingas on our lake, well, not technically our lake, but for our purposes, let's just call it that, shall we? Moving on, what I see is them catching and eating fish, however, I am usually many feet away. On this day, I was not, and it was so interesting watching how they eat a fish.
It swam over to a stand of Cypress knees, probably to reposition the fish.
What actually happened is that it kept slapping it on the knee to, I presume, kill it. Probably ten times at least. Now you are wondering how it gets down that skinny neck, aren't you? I was too.

It was kind of a juggling act with the fish being thrown up in the air a bit,
Now that's more like it....
And down it goes...
Jan and I got to talking the other day about how all the shore birds gathered around the lake while the Cormorants were here and I think her explanation seems like a good one. She thinks the birds in the water are stirring things up, making fish more available to the shore birds. Does that make sense to you?

Another thing I did that same day was make the thrift store rounds looking for more vases for my shelf, not that I'm so knowledgeable about that, but Google is. Walking into the Salvation Army store on West Colonial, I had a little start when I saw these two prints up high on the West wall of the "showroom".
And, just why would that be Gail? Neither Bruce, not I, could exactly remember too many details, but we had these very same prints in our bedroom for years and years, having bought them at Jordan Marsh, our then favorite department store. Maybe 30+ years ago? I bought nothing, but seeing those and sharing them with Bruce was worth the trip!

And the excitement just keeps coming because we had an invasion of American Robins on their annual migration!!! Walking outside Wednesday morning the first thing you noticed was the sound of chirping birds, seemingly everywhere. At our home they used to come through to feast on our neighbor's Camphor tree, however, here there are countless Camphor trees and they make good use of them. Hundreds is my best guess, although the sky was dull and gray making it hard to make them out. I walked the complex and finally got a couple of shots.
My Vancouver friends will shrug their shoulders at this because they are so plentiful there but for us, seeing them is always a big treat.
I can tell you that the ground is littered with hundreds of dropped berries!

If one Merganser Duck is good, two is even better, as seen another day!
For a week with mostly gray and chilly weather, it has been very exciting indeed.

The best news of all is that Troy is hanging the doors and the inconvenience of not having a kitchen for four days will soon be a thing of the past.

The big reveal upcoming soon.

your friend,

Gail

Monday, January 28, 2019

Bruce in Action

There is not a whole lot that Bruce cannot accomplish if he sets his mind to it. I am, of course, the beneficiary of his efforts for which I am most grateful. While some may have worried that he would not find enough to do in retirement, so far, so good. He's stayed very busy in the last week making our new house a home, in part because the airplane was still in the paint shop and so he was only there for one morning, leaving him free to tackle home projects.

Before we get started with all of that, more ducks just for fun.
With that out of the way, let's look at some of the ways in which our home is becoming more livable every day. Perhaps that is the wrong wording. You decide.

The newly worked pantry with linoleum tiles on the bottom shelf for easy cleaning, along with a terrific place to store my baking pans!
He rearranged the shelves making it far easier to access what I need. Before all the baking pans were stacked one on top of another which was anything but convenient. Furthermore, because we have so few drawers, I had my food wraps in a basket that required me to constantly remove more than I needed looking for just the right thing. This photo was taken before we got the top shelves straightened out, but they are now good as well.

My frying pans! I know, I've got a whole bunch, but they all get used. I also know that I got by with only two in Vancouver, but that was then, and this is now.
The tiles, which he also put under the sink, are peel and stick and work very well. Because the lazy Susan was emptied, he decided to cover the shelves, but how do you do that when it is round and has a cut out? Here's how:
Without a large enough compass, he went about devising one of his own. After drawing the circle, he measured in enough to make the cut out.
This area was a bit of an eyesore before, having ripped shelf liner, exposing the original install instructions, but now both are covered, and will lay flatter once all of the cans and such are in there.
Avid readers will recall that I was bemoaning the lack of shelves in our new home. I now have two little ones in the kitchen to hold some cookbooks!
I could not find any bookends in a store so instead used my little piggy bank that stores my laundry money, as well as an antique box from Bruce's parents. The rooster came from Matt, the "God bless our home" also came from Bruce's parents. The creamer and sugar bowl came from Carol. You get the idea--everything has meaning to me.

During our little Christmas party, one of the fellows asked me about the vases and such I had over the sliding glass doors. Actually, he asked me why they were only on one side? That got me to thinking and when I saw a fantastic deep teal vase at the thrift store, an idea hatched in my little brain. I still need a few but last week I managed to accumulate some others.
When the sun comes through in the morning it is fantastic! (The only rule I have is that they are used)
A few weeks ago, David remarked that perhaps the painting over our kitchen table was a little much, as in super intense and dark. The more I looked at it, the more I agreed. In our home, it worked great because it was a much larger space with natural light from both a skylight and a glass door. It may sound corny, but there just wasn't enough room for it to breathe. (YIKES!!Did I really just type that?)

A gallery wall came to mind with smaller, more personal pieces. While at IKEA we looked at frames that look good, but have thin plastic instead of glass, and as I said to Bruce, "they look pretty good, but you and I both know, they aren't all that good." So, I began going to the thrift store, looking for frames. Consulting the internet, I learned what I could about gallery walls. One other thing Dave said is that, "The good thing about these condos is that there is a lot of wall space. The bad think is that there is a lot of wall space." So while I may not have shelves here, I do have some pretty big walls to fill. Before Bruce left for Habitat on Saturday, I had him take the painting down to get a sense of the space.
And then we went on an airboat ride in Kenansville, Florida. Say what? Yup, one of the fellows here organized a trip to Wild Florida and twelve of us did something we'd never done before.

Unfortunately, unlike our typical lovely January days, the weather was, well, very Vancouver-like, with complete cloud cover and chilly. About 10 degrees warmer than there, but very chilly to a Floridian. Nonetheless, the trip was super good. It was Steve's idea.
And our sweet David drove us along with another couple. Their tagline is in the middle of nowhere and they are not kidding!
Mr. Peck wearing the ear muffs to block the crazy loud noise made by an airboat.
The boat we were on was much larger than this one we saw during our ride.
I took a whole bunch of photos that mostly were just okay, and if you are interested, here is the link, with Eagles, a huge flock of Sandhill Cranes, and other birds. Unfortunately, as we sat in the boat underneath the two Eagles, it began to rain. Not a hard rain, but OH MY GOSH, being in an open boat going super fast, was no one's idea of fun. It felt like little needles poking you in the face!

Eventually we got back to the dock, by which time the rain ceased falling. We all agreed that we wished we had gotten there early because we were only able to spend about twenty minutes going through the fantastic animal park. We definitely plan on returning another day. A Red fox!
From there we, or should I say, David drove us to Saint Cloud where we had a wonderful dinner at The Catfish Place, a restaurant that has been serving good food for 47 years. Delicious!

It began raining not long after we came home and only just quit early this morning. I am going to guess that is a record as rarely does it rain for nearly 36 hours straight! In any case, once home from church and following Bruce's nap, it was time to get that gallery wall together. Bruce had already dreamed up a layout which was waiting on the bed.
And how do you make something like this work? You have a Bruce around! Just kidding. Sort of.

He began the layout like this.
Lots of measuring is needed. Eventually the box was determined and he began hanging stuff,
And now it looks like this!!
Should you be wondering, that plastic branch thing came from an antique shop on Mills. The back is dated 1967, and it is by Dart Industries. The crazy painting of the couple is from the thrift store for $2, and although it is not normally my taste, I kind of like how it brings some cheer into our space.  Other photos are by yours truly. But the real work was done by my amazing husband who never lets me down when I have an idea that I cannot personally implement. :)

And now I leave you with the sound of cabinet sanding in my ears!!!!! Oh happy day.

yours truly,

Gail


Thursday, January 24, 2019

This and That

Me: "Honey, will you take my picture?"

Bruce: "Sure, but you hate to have your picture taken!"

Me: Indeed, but I really want to show off the shawl that Matt spent countless hours creating and it is finally a little cool enabling me to wear it to church. The colors in my dress are so similar! I just won't look at the camera."
Later on I mentioned that perhaps I should have sat on something a little plainer, except it was then that I remembered that there is not much plain in this house! Not that I don't go through spells thinking it should be plainer, however, those spells last but a nanosecond, and I return to patterns and color because, well, I just can't help myself.

Following church, I finally had B drive me by the Habitat house in Winter Park.
Apparently, the Winter Park/Maitland chapter has built 55 homes to date which seems very impressive to me. Note the vertical sticks on the left side of the door opening because, that is one job Bruce and his helpers have been doing for some Saturdays. That, my friends is done by nailing it on the concrete which is no easy task for anyone, let alone an older gentleman. Most Saturdays he comes home pretty whipped and I mean that in a good way.

Because, with the kitchen soon to be in upheaval, we knew we would have to eat out a lot, we skipped our Sunday after church lunch. The weather was quite nice allowing us to have the doors open and cool breezes filled our home. I was super anxious for the Blood Moon slated for a few hours later. I kept going out back and admiring the Wood Ducks, of which there are currently many on our little lake. Plus, I think there is some mating going on!! Excitement ahead.
Saturday night I'd seen the big moon rising at around 5:15, so I kept going out to check. No moon, no moon, and finally a big fat Moon! From 2015, this post during another Blood Moon.
Sunset and clouds occurred about the same time as the rising, however, those clouds eventually rolled away, making for quite the show. Honestly, aside from it looking so huge, one of the coolest things is the bright light.
In our part of the world, the eclipse was set to begin around 10:30PM, a time when you will usually find me fast asleep, however, we watched the football game which kept us up just long enough to see the beginning. Bruce set the alarm for 12:30AM and having slept in my clothes, I went out front to see the Moon turn red. Even B came out to see it which is very unusual as normally his enthusiasm for this sort of thing is pretty minimal. Unlike the last time I saw this phenom, I did not take a single photograph, merely gazed and went back to bed. Amazing, right? That said, there are photos all over the web that would far exceed anything I can do, so it just seemed silly. Plus, I was in the parking lot in front of our place, rather than in a robe in my back yard the last time! From reading this article, I was able to know what I witnessed early the next morning.
 Unless you are an astronomy buff, you will have to check out the article to learn more about it!

For all sorts of reasons, I'd not been able to return to Days for Girls until Monday. How great to see my friends, Susan and Leslie.
Leslie, on the right, is a whiz with all things related to DFG, whereas, I'd nearly forgotten everything I knew. We met in a new place, Summit Church, out on Lake Underhill Road where we had loads of space to spread out. You might note the dog who was there because the man and wife come all the way from Deltona to help out.
Talking to Bruce on my way home, he said he was washing his car and to stop by and he'd do mine too. Very nice that we have a dedicated place to wash cars at the complex.
Another thing that has surfaced in the last week was a tub full of photos that I used to display in various parts of our home. I got to thinking about it and realized that I had either sold, or given away, almost everything that used to do that task. I had shelves in the kitchen, a mantle, three end tables, and room with wide shelves on three sides. Now what? Here's what:
The photo quality above is pretty lousy, but you get the picture, no pun intended!

Taking all of the doors and drawers back to his shop for sanding and spraying, Troy did come on Tuesday, leaving my kitchen looking like this:
With everything in plain sight, Bruce took it upon himself to devise some new storage solutions and off we went to the Container Store to see what we could see. We saw a lot. We bought a lot. On the way home, on Conroy Road, whoa Nelly! We both agreed, we'd almost never seen so MANY birds so close!
Speaking of birds, while showering yesterday morning, I looked out the window and saw several Egrets along the shore which could mean only one thing. Dressing as fast as possible, sure enough, the Cormorants were back.
At the same time, in the blink of an eye, I saw the otter come up for air, something I've not seen for quite some time. Darn if she ever resurfaced. A Great Blue Heron keeps an eye on the Cormorants.
As I approached, this happened.
Being in a hurry, that was that. No telling what I missed, but we had something more important to attend to. Jeff asked if B would change out some lights in his house before he returns from rehab.  Of course! We drove over to his place, off Howell Branch Road, and assessed the situation. Replacing bulbs in track lights, 12 feet in the air is somewhat daunting, however, after a trip to Lowes, while using a six foot ladder, Bruce made it happen. Other lights were either changed, or replaced.  Leaving Jeff's neighborhood, I was surprised to see some Spring Green on one of the Oak trees.
You know how much neither of us enjoys driving in the horrible Orlando area traffic, however, we needed to return to the Container Store at Millenia for a few more things. If you don't live here that will not mean a thing. If you do, you feel our pain of driving from nearly Oviedo to Millenia.  By now it was 2:30 in the afternoon and what I really wanted was a McDonalds hamburger and some fries. A Coke goes without saying. We stopped at the one near the corner of Colonial and Primrose which has been remodeled, however, they have retained the Golden Arches. We go to McDonalds about twice a year, but when that's what you want, that's what you want.
Apparently loads of other folks were feeling the same. Not only has there been remodeling, but taking a page out of Wawa's book, they now have kiosks to order although it seemed to us that despite now having three ways to order, online, in person, or a kiosk, rather than making it faster, it was decidedly slower.
We sallied forth, bought our stuff, and came home to this.
Bruce has re-worked the pantry, moving pans, amongst other things, and in general, things are looking quite good.
We've got a few other ideas cooking for the kitchen which I will show another day.

Before I forget, for weeks now we had these little moths flying around the house, mostly in the living room, but not entirely confined to that space. Slow moving, they were easy to kill by clapping them between your palms. Not ideal, but with no explanation, that's what we were doing. Now, however, I do have an explanation provided by none other than my darling husband. Putting something away on the top shelf of our laundry area, what should he discover but a bag of bird seed filled with moths!! Gross out. Mystery solved.

Lastly, Maureen was quite rude to me the other day causing me to abruptly leave her bedside. I'm working on simmering down.

yours truly,

Gail


Limping Along