Friday, July 31, 2009

Dragons in the Mist; Dragons in Our Midst

With the adequate rain we have been having, the wild grapevines have been growing rather rapidly.

B noticed how much the growing tips resemble dragons, reaching out and waving in the breeze.



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hello, Good-bye

I recently wrote about saying good-bye to a family who is moving to Oregon. On Monday, I had the pleasure of visiting with another family whose two children I taught in kindergarten. The daughter will begin high school this year and the son will be in middle school.

Their mom used to cut my hair when she was in cosmetology school. She was also instrumental in teaching me how to celebrate the Chinese New Year with my students, a practice I have continued for the past ten years. When she went home to Vietnam, she bought me some beautiful jade earrings that I wear in her honor each Chinese New Year, as well as at other times. She gave me elegantly embroidered silk clothes that her children had worn for Chinese New Year celebrations. This year I took each of my students’ pictures wearing the outfits.

A few years ago, her husband’s job took them to Denver. We have stayed in contact through email and Christmas cards. So when she let me know they were coming to Tallahassee for a visit, we determined to meet. They came here for a while one afternoon. It was wonderful to say “hello” again, though we had to say “good-bye” until the next time.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not All the Buzzards Go To Hinckley, Ohio

You may or may not have heard about the buzzards that fly to Hinckley, Ohio every spring as they return from their winter homes in Florida. This is a little notice about it.

Well, last week, I went to Sunday dinner in the town of Celebration, Florida. It is the Disney village that prides itself in being about as perfect as it gets. So I was highly amused to note a very fine home with buzzards perched on the roof.




Officially, they are of course not buzzards, but Black Vultures.


But anyway, it seems less than the perfect roof adornment. I had to wonder why this particular roof was the one of choice.  Hope it’s not a sign to the homeowners.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buying Big Bolts

Last week while I was visiting with my original family, I went with my brother to pick up a couple of bolts. They had been ordered and had arrived.  I knew they were for a tractor, but the size of them still surprised me.



Yeah, these are serious bolts.

It was nice to read they were made in the U.S.A. How many items do you buy that can claim that anymore?  Kinda scary how few things really are made here---how dependent we have become. Wonder how long before that comes back to bite us on the bolt.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finding More Than Pizza at Blue Highway


For his birthday luncheon, D asked to go to Blue Highway Pizza in Micanopy, Florida. There were five of us who met in Gainesville and then went on down to Micanopy. It is a popular little place and we  enjoyed our lunch.

While we were there, we were surprised by a long-lost cousin of B’s (and of course also our sons’ cousin.) We had not seen her since a funeral about a dozen years ago. We learned that she lives in White Springs and had just finished her own lunch with friends. She came up and said, “You are a long way from Tallahassee!”  

Maybe so: but it is a small world.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cool New Digs for D

On Saturday, we helped our younger son move a few things to his new apartment in Gainesville.  I had seen the outside last month but finally got to see inside. It is such a neat place---so unique, like our son.100_7635

The apartment is the downstairs of a house that the owner has built and decorated himself with a variety of unique materials. It is a very shady and private property in an older neighborhood, where the homes have been remodeled. The house is cedar and other wood and limestone, with beautiful tile flooring.


This is looking out the front door. (Below)


This is coming in the same entrance.


These are wonderful windows looking out on the yard. Notice the Florida limerock under the windows.


We hope D and the Roomba (his robotic vacuum) will be very content there!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacuuming: Jetsons Style


We went to our son’s apartment to celebrate his birthday and saw his Roomba for the first time.

That thing is SO cool!

It has a button on top that when pushed has a nice female voice introducing you to the Roomba while it demonstrates some of its moves.

It fairly quietly moves about the room vacuuming. It has little brushes that help clean along walls and baseboards. It goes forward and when it meets an obstacle, it backs up. It also can detect dirt and go back over it until it no longer detects it.

When the battery starts to run low, it goes back to its docking station that can be seen in the upper right of this picture.


Not sure if it is a comment on me or the Roomba, but it is really quite entertaining.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Holy Green Anole!

I was grooming a potted plant to move it to the deck when off jumped a green anole. It was in the  process of shedding its skin.



It found its way to a rough stem.  Here you can see the white skin hanging off on either side of the stem.


It rubbed itself on the stem to  scratch off the old skin.



I could almost hear it say, “Ahhhh. That feels so good!”

While I watched it grabbed pieces of old skin ---and ate it! So that is why we don’t find lizard skins about as we do snake skins and insect shells!

It was almost done in this last shot. Perhaps the sunshine felt good on the new tender skin. Perhaps the rays are needed to complete the process. I wonder.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Walking With Wildlife


Barred Owl and Little Bllue HeronThere is just something magical about finding a feather. The blue-grey one I recently found floating on the river as I kayaked. The Wacissa was full of Little Blue Herons that day and so I am guessing it was from one of them.  The other feather I found on my morning walk around our neighborhood. This is a Barred Owl feather. We hear Barred Owls several times a week. We love  them and love to hear them, especially in the early spring when they are calling for mates and make quite the ruckus with their variety of eerie sounds.

I have been seeing quite a bit of wildlife as I walk this summer. If I am a “good girl,” I walk in both the morning and evening when school is out. This also increases the chance that I will see interesting things. In one day last week, I saw a grey fox (in the morning!), a Barred Owl and a deer. This was my fourth sighting of the fox, but the other times were in the evening. It was my first ever sighting of a deer in our neighborhood, though I have seen deer in areas around our neighborhood and with as many woods and wetlands as we have around here, I knew they must occasionally come into our neighborhood. The deer was in  the backyard of a house, browsing on the branches of a large oak that had come down in a storm. It was about 7:30 in the morning and I was downwind and we were both startled by seeing each other. She ran off and I walked on.

We have seen armadillos. Raccoons are common. There are always Red-shouldered Hawks and, in the summer, the Mississippi Kites are very visible, nesting in tall pines. Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Great Crested Flycatchers are commonly heard but rarely seen. One morning, I was surprised to see a Cattle Egret picking bugs out of a lawn.

So with all this entertainment, who would ever want to walk a treadmill?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saying Good-bye

Saying goodbye is part of being a teacher. Students come and students go. Sometimes, I have been known to tell my kindergartners who are reluctant to leave the security of the known, that “I have taught you everything I know. And now you have to go to first grade to learn some more.” I am, after all, their school mama.

In my school, I have been blessed through the years to have had multiple children from the same families. It is a good thing to have already established a rapport with the parents, so then you only have to get to know the child. And the parents like knowing what they are getting, so to speak. Usually, these parents have actually requested me for the younger child.

So it is that I have taught a girl who is now ready to enter high school, her sister who is entering third grade and I was fully expecting to have the youngest sister this coming year. Sadly for me, they are moving to Oregon to begin a whole new adventure. Actually, it will begin with their cross-country drive to their new home. I am very excited for them ---and quite disappointed for me because this is one of my very favorite families and I have watched as the two younger ones grew from newborns. The parents are both natives of Japan and have trained their daughters to be exemplary students and a joy to be around. These gifted parents have highly gifted daughters.

Tuesday, they came to our house (at my invitation) for ice cream and a good-bye visit. They brought me a lovely plant, called a Kanga, Pink Kangaroo Paw. It is a new, patented plant and a new-to-me plant.


While saying good-bye may be part of being a teacher, it is never easy.  Sometimes, it is really hard.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Brilliant Bromeliads

In the spring, a parent at school brought me some spare houseplants she had. In the mix were two bromeliads. We had not grown them before, so I was a little skeptical that they might go the way of African violets and orchids, which have not thrived in our home. Well, at the beginning of summer, they started really growing and changing and…..blooming!



Allow me to zoom in. I think this is an amazing bloom. The colors!! The radial form!


Wow! Is that not a show-stopper??

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Girls—And Aren’t They Koi?

B has always referred to the goldfish in our little pond as “the girls.” Truly, we have no idea of their gender, but that is their official name, collectively. We have never named fish individually.

We were recently offered some new fish by a couple whose fish had multiplied a little more quickly than desired. When we arrived at the house, we were shocked to find koi the size of my size-8 feet swimming in a large, elaborate pond.


We had originally said we would take 10 but backed that up to 6 when we saw the size of even the small ones. Because the man had recently given away as many as 50, the remaining ones were skittish and it took some doing to get the six.


But he finally did.


We took them home to be the big fish in the small pond instead of the other way around.


100_8000  Our original fish that were the large ones, became the small ones. I said I guess they will have to figure out a whole new pecking order.

B’s feedin’ the girls!


Hope they don’t grow TOOOOO big.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spending Way Too Much Time in the Bathroom

All I really wanted was to freshen up the master bathroom with a coat of paint. We have lived here a dozen years and have been slow to make changes. The wallpaper is not bad, but it was certainly nothing I would have ever selected. So of course in order to paint, we had to remove the wallpaper. We had a hard time when we took it out of the other bathroom a few years ago, but the kitchen paper had come off in long sheets. This came off only by chisel.

The work has begun.

100_7987 100_7986

Eventually, we determined that in addition to the shower and towel rods and tissue roll holder, that we needed the toilet tank out, because there was even wallpaper back there. So Monday morning, I spent sitting on the toilet----just sitting on the tank in the tub while I scraped caulk and some grout.


Once the paper was finally off, B applied some drywall mud. I sanded it the next morning.


Sanding drywall mud is very dusty work.



So the mudding/sanding, mudding/sanding took two days and then there was the corner to deal with.

Who knew that under the corner wallpaper was only air? That’s right. The builders did not join the two sheets of drywall, but left it open. B found a strip of molding to fill in the gap: cut it, nailed it, caulked it and finally after some other caulking, the painting began.


Yup! We’re goin’ green. Sage is the color. B finished the painting on Wednesday afternoon. Now there is the grout/ caulking for the tile; replacing the toilet tank… that will be nice to have two of again. And putting back the racks and switch cover.


I am shopping for a new shower curtain, though the old one will still work in the meantime. It is just that-- believe it or not-- we have had that shower curtain for more than a dozen years and I am just SO ready for a change. The problem was that it went with the wallpaper and the floor, don’t ya know, in a way that no other one ever would. I have found that sage is a popular color to use in shower curtains.

So, overall, I am very pleased with the project and I’ll have to let you know if I can ever get all that drywall dust out of the house. It is fine, fine and it flies everywhere!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Group Camps in the Pisgah Forest Near Brevard

B is always on the lookout for some place to take his scouts: so on our trip, we visited four camping areas designed for groups. All of the sites are quite beautiful.

This one and its twin (North White Pines) just up the forest road are smaller and close—maybe too close---to the forest road. There are fire rings, a hand water pump, picnic tables and stinky outhouses, called vault toilets. Port-a-potties can be made not to stink and I have been in non-flush toilets in mountain camps that were not offensive even in the summer, so I am not sure what needs to happen here but it was the same in all four of the camps. Also there are not showers, but for $3 you can use the ones in the campground where we stayed. His troop has two different shower set-ups, so that could be worked around.


These rent for $50 per night and can accommodate  twenty-five folks, though not that many cars. There is a nice stream that runs by it.

The two larger camping areas were twice the price and huge areas with the same amenities. These were the ones we found the most attractive. They can accommodate 100 folks. This was at Cove Creek. The road to these was far enough off the main roads and had a locked entrance to keep out unwanted traffic.

This was a large, church-affiliated group from Florida. We never saw a soul as we walked up the road, but we could hear them having a blast down in the creek in back of these trees.

Cove Creek Group Lower Camp

Cove Creek Group Lower Camp

The road between the two camping areas:

Cove Creek Group Upper Camp

Cove Creek Group Upper Camp

We bet the stars over these large fields would be fairly spectacular on clear nights.

 Cove Creek Group Upper Camp

The creek provides a great sliding rock for swimmers.

 Cove Creek Group Camp Slide

To get to the campground you must ford Cove Creek with your vehicles. If you are in the top camp, you ford it twice.

Cove Creek Group Lower Camp Ford 

Cove Creek Group Lower Camp Ford

Because I knew we were going to hike a bit, I had changed out of my wet wading sandals and into my dry sox and sneakers. And doggone it!--- here I have to ford a creek with no reliable-looking stepping stones.  So  I took them off again and waded across barefoot which was a might uncomfortable as the current and glare kept it so I could not really see where I was stepping. I was in the process of putting my shoes and sox back on when D found the foot bridge tucked away upstream. Doh!! I was ready for the next ford, though, and found the footbridge on my own.

Cove Creek Group Lower Camp

We think this is a really nice group camping area as far as location is concerned. With a little improvement in the plumbing, it would be even better but we think we could work around what is there now. Supposedly, reservations fill up fast for all of these group areas.