Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Mating Swans and More!

Well, well, well.

Generally I write about things in order, but since the title is so provocative, let us begin with the swan photos. Monday morning we took a walk around Lake Eola for fun. As most of you well know, I spent eight plus years there, selling photography at the Sunday market, taking hundreds of photos while there. Maybe thousands? Who knows? At any rate, never once did I see what we saw which began with a hunch as I noticed from afar, two swans swimming quite close together.
There was just something about them that caused me to wonder if they were a couple, and sure enough, as we drew closer, indeed, I was pretty certain that some sparks would soon begin to fly.
By the way, there are a number of photos of this event upcoming. Video probably would have been better. Anyway, it isn't everyday that swans behave like the above, so I kept my camera focused on the two of them who put on quite the show. Before long, he climbed on her back,
At one point she was really pinned down, keeping her head underwater. Before you go wondering how birds procreate, here's a brief explanation by some experts.  For the record, we were not embarrassed, merely fascinated watching the wonders of nature so close. Once finished, it was even more fun seeing them,
then they did this,
followed, soon thereafter, by swimming apart and preening. Pretty cool, right? It is times like this that I am so delighted I carry a zoom lens around!

Backing up, Saturday morning, there was a lovely gathering of women at our church, organized by Lisa in the pink gingham shirt.
Sixty women, which is a lot considering the size of the congregation, listened to inspiring speakers after a delicious breakfast. From there I went over to visit with Maureen who, I was delighted to discover, was sitting in a wheelchair, fully dressed. Let's go outside Maureen! Her first taste of fresh air in over two months happened last week when Lisa took her outside. Can you imagine?
Before long though, she was ready to return to the 3rd floor for lunch. We came across an empty spot at a table with two ladies and I asked if we could join them. Please do! One lady was 95, and aside from hearing loss, seemed quite competent. The other, at 90, was a little less so, but what really struck me during our conversation is the surprising number of people living into their 90's these days. Not a one of them can really say why they have lived so long. Such a mystery.

The youth of our church put on the Sunday service and wowed us with both their capabilities and their decorations. I later learned the colorful garlands were tie-died coffee filters.
Much to my surprise, the fellow on the left side of the photograph came to greet me. And who is he you ask? A former market vendor! I had not seen him in years, and was happy that he and his partner were visiting the church.

Although it was blazing hot Sunday afternoon, I took a walk during which time I remembered why it was so easy to walk in Vancouver---no heat! Our normal winter temperatures are about as hot as it gets there. Nevertheless, I carried on, coming upon an Osprey having lunch atop a light pole.
Oops, I forgot a couple others from Lake Eola I wanted to share. New bike racks:
Ducklings, although it is hard to tell with all of the fallen oak leaves!
Neither of us can figure out if this purple paint was intentional or not, but we are pretty sure the little stool things are intentional. Neither should be as far as we are concerned.
The fountain resembles a candle wax covered Chianti bottle, while the blue color is just plain ugly.

But, I did see some breeding Egrets as evidenced by their green mask and tail feathers.
Fear not, in my next post there will be some closeup shots of Egrets at Kraft Azalea Gardens.

If you've been wondering about the inner workings of a range, wonder no longer!
The Whirlpool repair guy was great, asking me if I had further questions and in fact, I did. Teach me about cleaning the dishwasher filter please? It was easy as can be once I was shown what to do and how often. Once a month, he said. Apparently we are his first customer that have Sunset Bronze and he was thrilled seeing them in place. Me too.

Ruthless. That's the word we are using to describe how we will have to behave if we are ever going to be able to give up our storage unit. While not terribly expensive, the rent is more than our utility bill. We paid a visit on Tuesday morning, bringing home some boxes including one large box labeled, "Matthew's Mementoes." I'm presuming he left this collection with us when he moved to London. My goodness! Annoyingly, I sent him photo after photo showing him things, and wondering what he wanted to keep. Most all of it was his response.
The large box is on the nearby table. Somehow, I managed to fit a good bit of it in the pictured tub that once held my photography prints. :(

One way that happened is because I threw away all of his negatives and empty rolls of film, consolidating all his photographs into a few large envelopes. It got me thinking of how much life has changed, even for a young person, a relative term I know, but when you think that Matt will be 43 in July, compared to Lorraine (95) at Westminster, he is young. I, too, was once young, as evidenced by a letter I came across that I wrote to Matt while he was a sophomore in college, signing it, "your almost 40 year old Mom"

I bought myself the cutest birdhouse imaginable at Ross yesterday.
Now you can see why it was irresistible! As our the sunsets here. It is hard to get enough of them. Those sun rays!
Not tonight though. The clouds have moved in and rain is expected shortly.

Please continue your prayers for both Maureen and Carol. No good news to report.

your friend,

Gail

p.s. If you want to see some incredible nature photographs, click here and prepare to be amazed.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Limping Along

Sitting down at my computer yesterday afternoon, while waiting on the appliance repair guy, I was all set to write a blog post, however, my photo library decided not to cooperate, with every action taking far too long. I finally gave up. And yes, you read that right, an appliance repair guy. Unfortunately, this is the second brand new appliance to require attention, beginning with the washing machine that needed a new computer board, and now it is my range that needs the same. My old appliances may not have looked so great, but darn, they worked. Reminds me a bit about life in our modern world--- technology that has entered every part of our lives can be both horrible and wonderful. Would you agree?

I saw something remarkable as I was leaving Days for Girls on Monday afternoon, reminding me that one should never be without a camera because one never knows what one will see. A favorite bird of mine is a Sandhill Crane with their tall bodies, and that wonderful red patch shaped like a heart on their heads.
Oftentimes you will see them in parking lot islands, yet I had not for quite a while, so I immediately parked my baby car, hopping out for a photo shoot. I followed it around a bit, watching her while she watched me.
Do you notice anything unusual about the legs? Thinking to myself, that bird is limping, was I ever surprised to see that she was missing one of her feet, thus that larger thigh.
While I don't know that the enlarged thigh relates to the missing foot, it makes sense to me. What do you think? This was definitely a first for me.

I came home to a very nice surprise, more storage! This is a window seat that Bruce has now turned into a home for my rarely used dishes and other kitchen equipment!
Should you be wondering how he did it, well, he made the drawing below:
I didn't understand how it was going to work, however, over the course of two or so days, it became clearer. BTW--he found beer cans in there too!! First he cut the hole, followed by making a brand new top that he attached over top of the existing one with a piano hinge to open it. New paint inside and other structural improvements along with a rug to provide a soft landing for all of that glass. Below is not the best photo, but you get the idea as we began filling it up.
Pretty darn awesome, right?

Because it has remained ridiculously hot all week, I thought to look at an old blog post from the same date two years ago. Well, I did not mention the heat, but I sure did mention the exciting news that we were moving to Vancouver! If you bother to click on the link you will see that my blog subject matter really doesn't change very much. 😁

We have had some tremendous celestial activity of late as in a rising moon to write home about!
That would be an incoming plane on the left side of the photo. Next morning the sunrise was not too shabby either.
Unfortunately there is not one good thing to report regarding my sisters. Continuing the old photo reveal, here's one that is undated, but my best guess it was taken more than 30 years ago.
From the left, arranged by age---Lisa, Nancy, Carol, Gail, Maureen and our Mom. That would be Bruce's dad heading into the kitchen on the far right. Maybe Lisa is pregnant? That hair of mine!!!

One day Bruce had an errand to run in Maitland so I went along for the ride. While waiting for his work to be done, we went to the Sewing Studio to shop around. There was a wonderful display of old machines in the window, as well as this awesome one in a cabinet near the front door! Those colors!!
Not having done much sewing of late, I am on a fabric diet, however, I found a tiny bit in the bargain area where Tina does the cutting. I overheard one of the other workers calling her Tina Turner!
We had a little chat and she told me she has never once seen snow in all her 77 years! I recommended that she find a way to remedy that as soon as possible.

More fun with the gang, this time at Aardvark for dinner Wednesday night. The gang range in age from late 50's to early 80's which is one thing I like most about living here.
Speaking of age, we had gone to bed the other night when Bruce's phone rang; the caller was a nearby neighbor who needed help getting her groceries upstairs. Sadly, this woman in her late 70's was in a car accident a few years ago and has never been the same since. Bruce met her one day in the parking lot telling her that if she ever needed his help, just call. We are glad she took him up on the offer.

Before the heat set in yesterday morning we took a walk down Mills where we passed the new Boone auditorium still under construction.
It happens but once a year folks.
Pam used to have a big Tabebuia tree and it was as fun seeing all the flowers on her driveway as it was seeing them on the tree. We are both just sick about what is going on with our friend and guild member Mary Whitaker, and the problems at UCF. What a mess it all has turned out to be.

As we walked back into the complex, I finally got a chance to photograph this lovely bougainvillea that grows in a pot near the entrance. That color!
Boo hoo! I heard from my Vancouver friend, Jackie with the news that her beloved cat, Mr. Bates, has passed into kitty heaven. As far as health problems, for both animals, and people, this has not been the best week.

Alas, this too shall pass, albeit painfully.

your friend,

Gail




Sunday, February 17, 2019

Past, Present, and Future

Another oldie, but a goodie!
I told you I found some good stuff the other day and this one is no exception. The twins must be around 5 or 6, Jonathan, probably around one year old, making Matt around 9. I can't recall who the woman was that took this photo, but I've always loved it foremost because of how adorable the boys are, (Bruce is darn good himself), and secondly, because it shows off the wonderful play space Bruce built. With a sandbox underneath, he built a walkway connecting it to the swing set. Many wonderful hours were spent here until we finally decided we needed a larger home. The house we purchased when we had one son, over time, was just not working with four little Pecks in the house. The folks who bought our home put it into the contract that the playhouse had to remain in the backyard. Sadly, we agreed, only to see the entire house torn down a few years later. A bittersweet memory.

So, that is the past segment, and here is one example of the present. The promised rainbow.
I don't know about you, but this was the first one that has ever come right to me. I ran in to get Bruce telling him to hurry because they generally do not last for long. Count me wrong. Lord, have mercy, this rainbow, soon thereafter joined by another one, was brilliant in the sky for about 25 minutes, leaving me flat out astonished!
While I stood lakeside behind our home, Bruce walked down to the big lake with his fishing pole. Standing on the shore, he caught this beauty, captured on his phone by a passing acquaintance.
He immediately set it free to get on with its life. The luck he's had has been remarkable and for his sake, I hope it continues.

Oops, glad this isn't in front of our place.
Since observing this a few days ago, the hole has remained the same size, so pretty sure a sink hole is not in the offing.

This week I've been trying to get more walking done, some days around the complex where there are plenty of flowers to admire.
Azaleas are blooming on many streets with these bushes being some of my favorites because I just love the colors and abundance.
Gayle, the head of our landscape committee, told me they don't have much luck with hibiscus and that may be true, so I'll enjoy the ones I do encounter.
The photo below is a good example of how you can see something pretty, admiring it, and think not much more about what you've seen. Recently David told me that a few years ago, during a hurricane, this beautiful Orchid tree blew over, exposing the entire root ball. No ordinary tree, it was planted in memory of a resident's Mother. With work they saved it and he also told me that it has never bloomed for so long and so beautifully before. I call that a blessing.
Susan, the president of our condo association, has been putting me to shame by walking over to Lake Davis, circling not just that lake, but Lake Cherokee as well, followed by walking home. I have been driving over and doing the lake walk. She does it faster because, well, everyone walks faster than me. It doesn't help that I am continually stopping for photographs when either the light is good,
or something, like a bit of new Spring growth catches my eye.
Then I might see some turtles and think of how much my sister Lisa loves them. So, another break in the already slow action.
So it was that I was walking and snapping when much to my delight, I ran into Angela!!! After exchanging warm hugs, we turned around and walked back the way I had already walked, chatting all the way. There is no good reason we can't pick up the phone and call one another, but she's been busy, and presumably, I have been too. Lily has been good company for Angela since Matt died. Lots of drama on her side and of course, lots on my side as well. So much to say, not nearly enough time.
Here's something very crazy that happened on Friday afternoon. Bruce and I spent the morning in search of some nightstands for the guest room. Used is always my preference, however, it was tough sledding for most of our search. We went to Atomic Junkies on Edgewater Drive, followed by a stroll over to "Top Drawer", another store that recycles furniture. Walking around seeing nothing to our liking, I remarked to Bruce how much art they had for sale. Soon thereafter, he says, "well, look at that!"
I laughed and laughed seeing my photo, "Primary Colors" hanging on the top right. A mixture of the past and the present. Small town we live in.

My visit to see Maureen yesterday was a frustrating one. Her wound seems so slow to heal and she's got a host of other things going on. Not life threatening by any means, but darn, life is so hard for her, being totally dependent on others for everything. Then I learned the clothes I'd previously purchased have been misplaced. I decided to take a walk to clear my head, walking from Westminster Towers to Lake Cherokee, walking in reverse what I'd done two days prior. Much busier on Saturday, I came across this,
run by these folks. That business name is good.
An artistic touch in front of a lovely home; the neighborhood is rich with them.
The mother in the shot below passing me as she was running with her little boy in the stroller. Most folks don't seem to know that throwing bread to birds is not such a good idea, albeit interesting.
Looking up, there was Susan doing her Saturday walk, dressed more appropriately than I. Wearing a light sweatshirt, I was indeed sweating as it is warm as can be. Thank God the humidity is low!

Returning to the towers, after not finding her clothes anywhere, it was back to the thrift store for me. A good thing that clothes there are very cheap. (I search for top brands at rock bottom prices and wash them at home) On our way home from church we spent time with her, I showed off her new clothes and fed her lunch. If it is making me depressed, can you imagine what she feels like?

Oh how I hope there are sunnier days, and nights, in her future!
your friend,

Gail


p.s. The bird enthusiast side of me wanted to post more bird photographs. The smarter side of me said, "don't!"

Long Beach, CA