Thursday, March 28, 2019

And Then There Were Three

It is an age old question, isn't it? Do animals, and in this case, birds, have feelings? What must this mama duck be feeling?
It must have been on Monday afternoon that as I was sitting at my "desk" I noticed the Cormorants were back; naturally I went out back to investigate. What to my wondering eyes should appear but ducklings! And not just a few, but what seemed to be a bunch, as reported in my last post that, according to my statistics page, largely went unread. That often happens because when I have time to write and post, others are busy, and so on. But I digress--- yesterday, after heavy rain storms, the sun came out briefly allowing me to check on the ducklings. Who knew how painful it would be to see them all but disappear in just a few days?
Although the lighting is not the best, when I first discovered them, there were, get this--13!!
Tuesday morning while taking my shower, I saw them through the window, immediately hopping out, throwing on my dress and flip flops, out I went only to discover there were but seven.
What will today reveal? Will any survive? After dinner Tuesday, David came for a visit because Nancy is in town, and when I asked him to guess how many were left, he did so correctly because he's seen it time and time again having lived her a long while now. Apparently, large turtles in the lake make a meal of them. Boo hoo!! To be continued......

I also wrote about getting a small kayak of my very own. Bruce can be a man on a mission when he wants to be, thus we went to two sporting goods stores, choosing a Pelican brand from Dick's.
Bruce also has lots of practice with kayaks and ropes, so because this one is light he was able to hoist in on the car and off we went. Before long it was in the water, which is pretty warm at the shoreline, btw, because I too stepped in it to get into the boat for my first solo experience.
 Bruce did take a photo of me in said kayak, however, it was too small for my liking, so as soon as I get a good one, I'll let you know. It was hot, sunny and fun. I brought my camera but took only a few photos of the water lilies that are blooming in many areas of the lake.
At first we stayed fairly close to one another, allowing me to get this shot of Bruce catching a fish right in front of someone's lakeside home.
The angle isn't the best for showing how large it was before he slid it back into the water. So, you can't really see how big this Large Mouth Bass is, but the woman who lives in the house did, coming right outside to remark on the size. That was fun.  Sunday afternoon we went out again, and I did so on Tuesday afternoon by myself while B was working at the church. Nice! Good exercise too. If this 65 year old woman can learn to paddle, I suspect anyone can.

Something else exciting occurred on Sunday afternoon. Ready? The cardinals have arrived!! I'd come in from the lake to make a tomato tart for our usual Sunday get together, using tomatoes and basil from Pam's garden. When Bruce got back, joining me in the kitchen, before long, I spotted them through the kitchen window. Again, a lousy photo, but at least something to back up my statement!
The female hung around longer..
Now that they have found the feeders, they've been back with Nancy seeing them too. One day I saw the male feeding the female along the top of the wall, but they did not hang around long enough for a photo. Let's just say I am delighted with this turn of events.

A lovely sunrise on Lake Willisara,
not as dramatic as some, however, that rosy glow attracted me, as did the notion that the sun had risen again with possibilities for anything on the horizon.

Oh my word, have I been blessed with sympathy cards and for those who took the time, I thank you for your kindness. You will be happy to learn that I spoke at length with Hank on Tuesday and he is doing fairly well. Crying times, but he, like the rest of us, console ourselves with the fact that Carol is now at peace. Their dogs are adjusting too. Maureen is showing some slight improvement, with the stitches finally removed, the wound is healing. Now the debate is whether to take the chance of yet another infection from a third surgery, or to learn to live in a wheelchair. My vote is the wheelchair, but we shall see.

Bruce skipped lunch while working at the church, and with Nancy hungry after her long drive, we had an early dinner at home, then walked down to the lake for sunset.
Isn't it downright remarkable that no two are alike? Sometimes, the reflection, or refraction, of the sun on the clouds is the best, don't you think? While I could look that kind of fact up, I think it will remain a mystery to me. With Google at our fingertips, there are very few mysteries in modern life, don't you think?
That would be Nancy and Bruce under the rooftop.

Look at sweet Grace Kelly, wearing a cone to help that scab heal! Dog play is the culprit.
Because we see David walking her most days, I'm happy to report that it looks even better now.

Lots of celebrations in the next few days. It is amazing to think that Matt and Tom have been happily married for five years and I've got a blog post to prove it! Seriously, if you missed it when we went to London for the wedding, click on that link for some heart warming photos. Plus, Bill and Dave turn 40!!!

Life can be so good, can't it? Make every day count dear ones.

your friend,

Gail

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Spell of Exceptional Weather

The weather this past week is why millions of people visit Florida in the springtime. Glorious, with bright blue, mostly cloudless skies, gorgeous shades of green, and very low humidity. The key, by the way. Come late May, the humidity will be high, the sun blazing hot, and the following six months mostly miserable. But that is then and this is now.

Last Saturday, when the annual St. Patrick's day party was to happen, the weather was not nearly so lovely, with dark clouds rolling in, the fear of a wash out was high. I am on the resident relations committee, recruited by Michelle, I might add, and my task for the party was cabbage. Lots of cabbage.
As a girl if you'd mentioned eating cabbage, I would have run for the hills, however, now that I've learned to cook it without boiling, it is one of my favorite vegetables. Not more favorite than broccoli, but pretty high on the list.

Although there were indeed a few sprinkles, it was a good crowd,
who enjoyed the Irish band,
as well as a whiskey tasting put on by folks who really know how to dress for a party!
Speaking of which, some friends in green.
Continuing our series on what will I see next behind the house??!!
That was on Sunday afternoon, however, I've yet to see them again.

(This post was interrupted for another unexpected event....Bruce came home from Habitat and said, "let's buy another kayak for you." And so we did, spending yesterday afternoon on the lake. Pictures soon!)

Okay, where were we? That's right, Days for Girls on Monday during which time a young man (purple scarf) joined us while he worked on hours for his Bright Futures scholarship.
Pretty remarkable really as he'd never used a sewing machine before, not to mention it was a thirty minute bike ride to get there, however, he picked it right up, and plans to return next month. His goal is to be an accountant and I hope his dreams come true.

Here is a picture of a seriously dirty window.
Improved somewhat by the new glass mobile and the view. You think?

Recently Connie asked me what kind of bird was calling for so long and loud each morning? Darn if it isn't a Cardinal who refuses to come to the feeder!
Instead he sits in this big tree taunting me each and every morning.

Because the weather has been delightful, it is hard to stay indoors for too long, thus I've done some exploring on foot, watching Spring unfold. Not the kind of spring I experienced last year, yet lovely all the same. Even lakeside weeds look good this time of year.
Walking around Lake Cherokee, I came across a huge oak tree that I thought might be a good place for an owl to hang out. No owl, but a pretty little Woodpecker instead.
He was digging in a cavity, presumably looking for bugs.

Around here there are Ibis aplenty and I do mean aplenty! You can find flocks of twenty or more, either digging in yards for bugs or lakeside foraging for frogs.
Note the extremely red feet and beak which represent breeding colors. Once home, I looked out back and my goodness, there were a bunch of them right behind the house, many in the trees.
I also saw some ducklings, only two which leads me to believe many did not survive as about a dozen is customary.
Just yesterday afternoon, I am thrilled to report, that I saw a Mama Wood duck and her ducklings on our lake! The pictures are on my camera still, but you can well imagine I will be sharing them soon. Wood Ducks are exquisitely colored, even more so during breeding season.
One of these days I'm bound to get a better shot ,but for now this will have to suffice.

We also bought two new toilets at Home Depot and had them come do the installation which went smoothly with a skilled plumber. As this was our first time doing something like this, we did not know what to expect but the plumber they sent was professional and did not lose his cool when he discovered both toilet lids were broken. He hopped right in the truck, went and got two more and we were set.
Although ours were still functional, it was time to replace the 30+ year old models. Perhaps you already knew this but we were quite surprised to learn that toilets are not subject to sales tax. How about that?

It is really nice having the maintenance guys come and do this sort of thing, as requested by our downstairs neighbor Jane Lou.
Although she and her husband John spend a good deal of the year at their home in Alabama, while here in Orlando, she gets things done, to our benefit I might add.

Another month, another Super Moon, however reportedly it was the last of 2019.
It has been a week with sadness as well. Our friend Carolyn's father died, an original resident, Bill Whitaker died, and we learned that a young man we used to go to church with, the same age as Bill and David, died. Whew! Although we did not know Mr. Whitaker as well as others, David used to describe him as the original John Morgan; if you live in Orlando you know what that means.

We finally checked out Claddagh Cottage on Curry Ford Road and found it quite tasty.
Finally, on Friday, because the weather was so fine, we checked out some kayak launching places in Seminole County. Katies Landing,
is on the Wekiwa River off SR 46 near the Seminole and Lake County line. Bruce chatted with a family fishing along the bank and they'd not caught a thing.
Bruce, on the other hand has been catching fish in Lake Pineloch like nobodies business. It was so good that Anne happened by when he caught a huge fish, probably six or more pounds, and took his picture before he gently released the fish. Was he ever excited, made even more so because not only was Anne a witness, but the Happy Hour gang was as well, cheering him on throughout.

Exceptional weather. Remind me of this time when June rolls around, will you?

your friend,

Gail

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Time Keeps on Slippin, Slippin...

And so it does. The brave face I wore all week fell apart this morning during the church service, however, I've now got my wits about me and so I carry on. Rather than this being a sad post, let us celebrate life instead. Shall we? And what better way than to show you this Opposum I saw roaming behind the house yesterday? Before you think I've made a spelling error, I've learned that indeed this is the correct spelling because a Possum is a whole other animal in parts of the world. Care to know more? Click here.
Before our unplanned trip to California, I'd written that in my next post I would show you the owl that came to visit, and I mean that seriously because when first I spotted what I thought was an owl, turned out there were two way high in the tree.
Don't know if they understood me when I had a little chat with them, but before long, the smaller of the two flew down on a branch just behind our place, staying there long enough for not only a photo shoot, but I had time to go and get Bruce so he could say hello!
Bright sunlight, so not the best for a photograph, but fun nonetheless! I've not seen them since in case you are wondering.

Springtime, the season of renewal for most living things, is in evidence everywhere I looked this week. Not yet in your part of the world? Keep the faith my friends, it is coming! Can't be stopped really.
 March in Florida means a glorious time for azaleas, some like the pretty little tree by the tennis courts, and some bushes covered in blooms.
Bougainvillea bushes are exploding everywhere in vibrant color.
We may not have Cherry trees but we are blessed to have other lovely flowering trees including my favorite yellow Tabebuia that leaves a yellow carpet on whatever the surface is below, including grass,
and you guessed it, the lake behind our house.
The tree from which they fell cast a remarkable reflection on the lake too.
During our time away though, most of the blooms have fallen but there's always next year to enjoy the show, or so we hope. That's about all we can do, isn't it? Speaking of trees, I've yet to show off our new little tree Bruce planted in our garden area.
Called a Japanese Fern Tree, the only thing about the name that is authentic is the tree part. It is neither Japanese, nor a fern, but I will say that it is cute and I expect it to grow quickly. And why is that Gail? With a floodlight on the second floor beaming on it all night, well, 24 hours of light can't hurt, right?

Soon after our return from California last Saturday evening, Dave and Michelle arrived bearing gifts, including this lovely orchid along with about seven different single desserts from Lucky's Market.
An orchid is such a thoughtful gift because it truly is the gift that keeps on giving, blooming time and time again. That said, I was delighted too with a lovely bouquet of colorful flowers that Bill and Fallon showed up with later in the week.
Pam invited me to a sewing expo in Lakeland, saying she would drive and with an offer like that, I could not resist.
Turns out, unlike quilt shows I've attended in the past, this one celebrated all things needle related which made it very interesting indeed. We saw so many lovely and inspiring things, including this cool work done by a Tampa guild. Wall hangings with silk squares on hand dyed fabric, they were beautiful to behold.
Initially skeptical, as we toured the entries under the theme of our National Parks, our skepticism soon turned to downright amazement at the creativity and skill of the work we saw. Using all sorts of different techniques, this artist made a mosaic with tiny squares of fabric to depict a scene from one of the Alaska parks.
 Sadly, my photograph does not do it justice, but you get the idea. Fabric anyone?
Instead of braving the nightmare that is I-4 for our return journey, we took to the back roads which took a bit longer (or maybe not), and enjoyed a stress free ride. Heading down to Lakeland we saw traffic heading into Orlando backed up for miles and miles and miles. No thank you!

If that weren't enough stimulation for the week, Mr. and Mrs. Peck went to the Winter Park Art Festival for the first time in years. Something of a miracle that we found a parking place right off late Friday morning. I am a sucker for glass, although not so much as willing to spend $1,000 + for any of these beauties.
Arriving at church this morning I felt sure I was going to have to turn around and go home because all of the parking spots were filled everywhere I looked. My Sunday miracle is that, with diligence, I found a spot, or maybe it was divine intervention? What with a big group of the men, including Bruce, working at Boggy Creek Camp, and the art festival, our pastor joked that there were more folks in the choir than the congregation!

I needn't remind you that over the past eleven years I have taken a lot of photographs. In all those years I can think of one other time that I was photographing something and ended up with more than I expected. One such time was a day while in the "peacock neighborhood" and I took a shot of a male and female peacock walking down the road. Lo and behold, when later I looked at my images, there was a raccoon running across the street the other way in the shot! Loved that image, although I probably can't find it now. Anyway, the other day I walked down to the big lake on my way to deliver some beans to Susan. Not just any beans mind you, but KC Masterpiece beans that are hard to find and scrumptious. Anyway, I was looking for the white pelicans who were nowhere to be found. Sadly, I think they are gone for another year. Nonetheless, as I stood lakeside, I began hearing a loud bird call. Scanning the tall pines for a bird, I freaked out when I saw a bald eagle on a branch, presumably eating a fish. I did what I typically do as I walked closer, taking shots in cases it flew off. Well, I got fairly close, at least within my camera's range, and got what I hoped would be good enough. Surprise!! I was stunned when I looked at the image later on because,
I never even noticed the juvenile eagle!! I guess it just goes to show you that it is easy to focus on one thing while ignoring the wider picture. You think?

When a loved one dies, it is hard to keep going as if nothing has happened,  however, it is what we must do isn't it? Sunrise to sunset, day after day after day.

"Time and tide wait for no man." (origin uncertain)

your friend,

Gail

Three Days in Copenhagen