Saturday, April 30, 2011

Getting a Boot Job

Some women who go through mid-life crises go for plastic surgery  or buy fancy cars or take a cruise. I've just had a boot job. No, I spelled it correctly.

A number of years ago my sister was going to go hiking with a boyfriend and some of his friends. She didn't want to wimp out and so in preparation, she bought some VERY nice water-proof hiking boots. Long story, short: the boots lasted longer than the boyfriend and she ended up giving the boots to me. I have thoroughly enjoyed them and have even loaned them to my daughter-in-law for mountain trips. They fit me better than they do her and she eventually bought her own.

Well, recently, I noticed that they were beginning to lose their soles. This is not going to keep the water-proofness, now is it? So I took them back to the store in town where they came from---in their original box with the store's name on the price sticker. With little said, the owner shipped them back and the company replaced them with new boots. When I asked how long it would take to hear back from the company, the owner said about three weeks. I joked and said, then I would  have "Easter boots." Sure enough, they came back just in time, so we took this picture of my Easter outfit and my new boots.

 

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Friday, April 29, 2011

We Have Issues

Apparently, the new software for blogging and photo editing is  not "what you see is what you get." Honestly, that alligator had a head when I  posted it!

So, in the meantime......I will be saving drafts.

SNB

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wildlife On the Wakulla

While the manatees were definitely the highlight of the trip, we did see other wildlife when we went paddling last Saturday.  We only saw a couple of alligators, but we also encountered four snakes----two of which were moccasins, one was a dead rattler and the other was unknown (and unseen by B and me.) Of course, there were plenty of turtles, in sizes from plate-size to tiny.

 

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A deer came down to the river to drink.  There was the expected variety of birds. We heard many prothonotary warblers, and I thought I saw one (in bad light) fly down the river for a  bit before it disappeared into the dense vegetation that lines the banks. Several anhingas were drying their feathers in the sun, including one that marked its territory with a serious squirt that landed right between two of our canoes when we were having lunch. (His tactic worked and we promptly relocated the canoes out from under "his" tree.) There were red-shouldered hawks screaming in the woods. Once we heard a  barred owl. There were some ducks that looked like scaups to me.

The water was clear and we could see mullet and bass;  one bream was caught.

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We also saw sheepshead and a blue crab.

It was a beautiful day: one to remember for years to come.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Manatees!

Our sons and their girls were home for Easter weekend. I over-planned so we did not get to all of the activities, but we still had a great time. On Saturday morning, we loaded up the canoes and went to the Wakulla River.

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I chose that river in  hopes of seeing manatees and we did see four in the few hours that we were  out.

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These were  not the biggest manatees we have seen, but it is always a thrill to see them. The first ones we saw were a mother and young one.

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Then we all saw another single one.  You will often hear them blowing before you see them.

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We try to be careful to not be over them but sometimes the wind, current and their own movement makes this a little difficult.

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B and I also spotted one on the river bottom.

 

We were amused by this little manatee-lookout on the front of this kayak. It had its own little PFD.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Seedy Situation

We were working in the garden when I noticed this odd-looking bit. 

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On closer inspection, I found it was a sweet gum ball that had sprouted several of the tiny seeds still held in it.

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There are not any sweet gum trees close to our plot. Because of the lack of chlorophyll in the new growth, I have to wonder if it was in a bag of yard mulch that was brought out to the garden.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bee-ware!

We went out to the vegetable garden and there were swarms of what looked like bees. There were dozens and dozens of them but they were not aggressive as our son and I took pictures of them. They were coming and going from bee-sized burrows in the soil that we assume they had made.

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A week later, there were noticeably more burrows (they were into a third row) and they seem to be deeper, considering the amount of red clay deposited on the surface. But there were fewer bees seen.100_4062

This one is looking at the viewer eye to eye.

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Here are some other views.

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I sent some pictures to our son, who in turn sent them to an entomologist he knows. His reply was that they  “appear to be members of the family Andrenidae.  This is the largest family of bees with nearly 1200 species in the U.S. alone.” As to whether or not they sting, was not known but  a query was sent to some who specialize in this family of bees. If we hear back, I will certainly share the information.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

They Are Already Bugging Us

B and I went out to our vegetable garden the other evening and enjoyed the perfect temperatures and gentle breeze that had followed the early morning’s gentle rain.

Everything is coming along pretty well. We have realized we are a full month ahead of last year’s garden when we first began leasing the plot. That should help some with the insect pests, but the nut grass is worse than last year, by far. We cannot account for that.

We were getting ready to come home when B discovered a potato plant in the Scouts’ garden that was completely defoliated. (Trust me! There used to be a potato plant in that nut grass.)

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The culprits were on two of the plants beside it: larvae of Colorado potato beetles. There were at least a couple of dozen of them.

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We collected them all by hand into a plastic bag.

We also found eggs on our eggplant--ironically enough!-- that look suspiciously like potato beetle eggs. Also note the chewed leaves—probably the mama left her calling card.

100_4068crop We scraped off the eggs.

So the fight has begun and we are greatly outnumbered. And it is only early spring.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Buck’s Pocket

We visited this park on our trip into northern Alabama. Buck’s Pocket is on Sand Mountain.

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The park brochure tells of several legends concerning this remote 2,000 acre park. But the one referred to on this sign is that politicians would gather here to lick their wounds after losing an election. As I picture this, there are big stogies, moonshine and guns on the table.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mailbox Monday: Country Chicken

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It’s lost a few tail feathers, but you can see someone put some heart into “purtyin’ up” the mailbox.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don’t Let the Cat Get Your Tung!

Don’t be fooled by the large, heart-shaped leaves.

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Or the striking flowers, that I think resemble miniature hibiscus blooms.

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100_3950Or the apple-like fruit. In the pictures above, you can see the young fruit just getting started. This one below is from last fall, so it is not green but almost black.

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All parts of the tree are poisonous. But the leaves give some people rashes similar to poison ivy, while ingesting just one seed can kill an adult. Tung trees (Aleurites fordii) are natives of China

Tung oil is derived from the seeds of this fruit. It has been used for thousands of years in paint and water-proofing coatings. It is a component of India ink. I read that teak oil is actually refined tung oil and that in World War II, the Chinese used tung oil as motor fuel because it was so plentiful. I have read that it was also used in airplanes in the United States during that same time period.

For a few decades in our area, many acres of tung trees were grown and several refining plants were in operation. There was a community that is now known as Capps, that used to be called Tungston. Here is a picture  from the Florida archives of a worker in the mill at Capps in 1946. This machine pressed the oil from the nuts.

c005500 This picture from the 1930s shows a parade float at the Tung Oil Festival in Gainesville.

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I know of no production of tung oil in our area now, though the trees are scattered about on this end of our county and the adjoining Jefferson County.

Some folks still plant them as ornamentals but I have been hesitant as it does not seem easy to have just one tree: they pop up everywhere.

And then there is that whole toxic thing.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Creepy Crow and Sparrow

We passed this dead crow hanging in a pecan tree. There was a stiff breeze and the stiff crow was swinging.

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We were puzzled as it seemed to have been placed there. So I went home and Googled it and learned that it not such an uncommon practice to hang dead crows as scarecrows. It rather creeped me out!

Further down the road, B pointed out this paper wasp nest. This was not close and I could not get close even if I wanted to. So wonderful photography this is not. But as I looked at it…..

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Jack Sparrow? Is it just me? Or do you see it, too? Dreadlocks and all.

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Whatever.

Friday, April 8, 2011

I Like IKEA

When we were in Atlanta, we went to IKEA for the first time. I had heard of it for a while and I was anxious to experience it for myself. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was huge;  you don’t just run in and run out. You stroll through the whole thing on a guided tour, as marked on the floor.

We only made a few small purchases of things that were obviously better-than-usual buys on things we buy anyway. One of these was a 6-pack of wine glasses for just about a buck a piece. They are very basic glassware but the best thing is that the bases fit in our wine glass rack that B gave me for Christmas. (It had been such a surprise to discover that our glasses did not fit the rack.)

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Hooray! They now fit in a space that was wasted before.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bookcase With Books, At Last!

Here is the newly painted wall, ready for the new piece of furniture. (It is a prettier green than it shows on my monitor.)

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I took this picture through the window as B was preparing to bring the “big boy” inside. Without the shelves, it was do-able for the two of us.

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Once inside, B mounted it to the wall studs for safety reasons.

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As a footnote, there was not a spare half inch between the  fruit-picking ladder and the end of the wall! It fit perfectly.

I added the brackets and shelves.

The first books in were those of my mom and dad.

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We are happy with it.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Bookcase, In Work

A while back, we found and ordered an unfinished solid wood bookcase that I hope will be large enough to have all of our books together.

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B sanded it, stained it and applied polyurethane in the garage.100_3665

Meanwhile, we observed a couple of curious visitors. This little brown moth in the corner had perfect camouflage, don’t you think? ( I am puzzled as to why the light made the stain look so much darker on the left. It is not so in other light.)

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Another morning, there was this little spring peeper peeping.

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It has a bit of a wood grain, too.

Enjoy it while you can, guys. When it comes inside, you have to stay out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I’ll Taste Your Slice of Paradise

We had such a wonderful trip to see our sisters. At my sister’s in Atlanta, the crabapple tree had carpeted the front walk and steps with pink petals.

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The window sills were sprinkled to match.

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There was a lovely courtyard in the back with beautiful plantings.100_3888

100_3887Even better, there was lots of glass on that side of the house for enjoying the view that includes deer, grey squirrels, chipmunks and a large variety of songbirds that come to the bird feeders. In one morning we saw, wrens, chickadees, titmice, blue jays, bluebirds, cardinals, goldfinches, juncos, and probably others that I am not remembering.

We also got to take a look at our niece's yard. She generously shared plants with us that we do not see in Tallahassee gardens.  Time will tell, if they are not suited for here. This lovely little bulb that we think is a wood hyacinth was shared with us in both blue and white. They were naturalized throughout their woodsy backyard.

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We also got some red columbine and some large purple irises and some lamb’s ear. It is all in the ground. As I said, time will tell.