Monday, August 31, 2009

Mailbox Monday: The Monster in Devil’s Dip

The neighborhood where we found this dragon-like mailbox is called Devil’s Dip.

Dragon Tail Mail

It is aged (rusted) metal with blue beads and knobs.

Dragon Tail Mail

Dragon Tail Mail

Pretty amazing!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

House Washing

The wonderful thing about vinyl siding is its durability. The not wonderful thing about vinyl siding in Florida is its mildew-ability. It seems that ours never stays clean for very long. We have learned that the kind of mildew that we get on ours is not impressed with mere spraying and rinsing, even with a pressure washer. It requires brush scrubbing. Greased Lightning is our product of choice, but don’t use it on paint or metal. The chimney and some of the really high parts are the most challenging.


100_8183 We both wash the lower parts. For the higher places, B washes and I stay on the ground and pray!

It will look good for a while.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In the Bathroom, Part II

I wrote a while back about chiseling the wallpaper off our bathroom walls and how B had to fill in the corner with some molding.






Well, we got the sage paint up and B did a wonderful job redoing the tile grout and caulking so that it all looks clean again.  After weeks of shopping in town and out of town, I finally found a shower curtain that works. I still want a new waste basket and a switch-plate cover in a pewter or brushed aluminum tone. Here is how it looks now.



Fresh and clean is good.

Friday, August 28, 2009


S & B : thirty-three (at three) today.

Thirty-three years of marriage.

A very good thirty-three years.

We would do it all again.

Well, except maybe the long-sleeved velvet dress when it was a hundred degrees.

And we might rethink the yellow tuxes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Giant Swallowtail

This guy was HUGE.


First it posed on the buddleia….


And then on the mock orange.


I noticed the left “tail” on the swallowtail was a little shorter than the right one. Otherwise, the symmetry seems perfect.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nature’s Revenge

So hear my confession:

After I killed the wasp, I killed a HUGE brown spider that had taken up residency in my school office that I share with an arachnophobic. (She was rather hysterical upon seeing it.) But I suspect that it was the housefly that I swatted with a rolled up paper in my classroom that pushed the envelope just a tad far. That was the final straw. After all, it was three in three days that I had taken out.

Tonight as we walked around our neighborhood, we accidently walked through a tough spider web that stretched all the way across the road, from one side to the other. That really is impressive.  As I was removing the web from my neck, I discovered the webmaster or webmistress as it bit me. It had slipped down the v-neck of my shirt. I got it out quickly but the stinging sensation remains at the site. Now we walk most every evening at a predictable time, so it is not too hard to picture this as a retaliatory ambush.

Hopefully, I will not need to go shopping for a three-cup undergarment.

Ah, yes. Can we can we call it even?


And, no, there are no pictures with this entry!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Nature Lover

Last week, we had to fill in a “get-to-know-you” form for our new school principal. We were requested to put down one word or short phrase answers to describe ourselves. For one, I put down, “nature lover.”

No sooner had I written this when a very small wasp landed on the table in front of me. Without even thinking, I swatted it with my bare hand and killed it. Now the background on this is that one of my co-kindergarten teachers is deathly allergic to wasp stings. (So I may well have saved her life, don’t you think?) Anyway, another kindergarten teacher saw what I had written and, having witnessed what I did, cracked up laughing at the irony.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mailbox Monday: On All Four Legs

How do you know this bear, this horse and this deer are all guys?


Horsin' Around

Check the Male Deer?

Just look for the mail parts!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Pleasant Afternoon Out

We are blessed in Tallahassee to have many nice recreational parks. Today we joined friends for a picnic and a hike at the Miccosukee Greenway park. The day had started out remarkably pleasant with a temperature at our house of 65. This is unheard of in August, so we were relishing every minute of the cooler, drier air. Before we were done, of course, it had warmed up into the 80’s and we were hot from the sun and exertion of walking a few miles, but it was still a nice way to wrap up the summer. School begins tomorrow.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alien Critter

B found this alien critter on his truck Monday night. We have never seen anything like it. We found it extremely difficult to photograph with the camera that we have. But these are the best:


It measured only 8mm long. For those of you less familiar with metric, all of it would fit on a new pencil eraser. So it is similar in size to a  ladybug.

It is covered in light green hairs, having two red spots on its back and more red around the head.


It moves extremely slowly.

To identify it, I sent an email to the UF entomology web page contact. They were most helpful! Even without the pictures that had not attached, based on my limited description (because I was expecting they could see the pictures) they narrowed it down to a slug caterpillar, in the family  Limacodidae. With the pictures attached, they knew it to be an Isa Textula.

I was not able to find much online information about this little critter, but IFAS did confirm what we suspected: those hairs are for chemical defense. In other words, they STING. I also learned that they live in the Eastern part of the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere) and that they eat oak, basswood, hickory and elm leaves and become a rather plain-looking brown moth. Thanks, Lyle!

So today our son (with the nice camera) was here and gave a shot at trying to photograph this critter. He tried a cool trick of reversing the camera lens to magnify the shot. It has its limitations, but I was thrilled with his results. Thanks, D!



I told you it was an alien! Pretty awesome, isn’t it?

Friday, August 21, 2009

All Grubby in the Garden

I was cleaning out an amaryllis bed last week and came across this chunk of wood.  I could just barely see the white of this grub deep within. As I walked to the deck with the wood, it (the wood) began to fall apart in my hand. You can see its tunnel where the grub’s body makes the bottom of a U.


It crawled out of the wood and onto the deck.



I do not have small hands. This was a good-sized grub.


I went back to gardening and it went back to whatever grubs do.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Growing a Deck

We live in a 16 year-old home and we assume the deck is the same age. The deck boards are beginning to show signs of needing repair from standing out in the weather all this time.

We have had showers most days—outside!  B and I shower inside, every day! What I am trying to say is that it rains a little most every day, just enough to keep the deck wet. This wetness has promoted the growth of these small fungi.


While I was focusing on the fungi, there was another fun guy watching me: a large skink.


Notice how it has lost its tail and has re-grown it. I have read the re-growth never looks quite as full as the original.

While this picture is not the one we were aiming for, the texture is pretty nice. And those toes are amazing!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Crazy Cardinals

We have lots of cardinals in our yard. The other day, I could see six at one time. Right now, the immatures are getting their new red feathers and losing their baby gray ones. Like children, they grow and develop at their own pace. So now, they are conspicuously in different stages.




The poor guy below is really pretty comical. His head looks bald.





The pictures are taken through the window glass, so they are not as sharp as I would like, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Are You Smarter Than a Squirrel?

Again, the current answer for us is: Maybe.100_8289

There have been a number of times when I have planted seeds in the ground, only to have the squirrels dig them up. So here is our latest seed flat. It began by being covered with an old aquarium screen cover but the sunflower seeds in here quickly outgrew that height. B replaced it with a hardware cloth cage, held in place with bungee.


Here’s a potential thief.


So far, so good.

After squirrels learned to climb our “squirrel proof” bird feeder and even chewed the roof up….


B added a large plastic jar that once held animal crackers, interestingly enough.


Since then we have not seen them in the feeder, but they do get in the baffle.

It is not like they go hungry. We have a platform feeder that is open to all, but squirrels seem to like a challenge. Time will tell whether we are smarter than a squirrel.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

As Claudette Arrives

After church, we grabbed a picnic lunch and our usual gear and headed south to the lighthouse.

Now we are not storm chasers and when we left home Claudette was still Tropical Depression #4 and there was no rain yet on shore.

It did make for an interesting trip, though.

Claudette Sat

The sweebay trees were our first visual reminder of the rising wind. The leaves were wrong-side out, looking very silvery from a distance in the gray light. It made the red seedpods all the more noticeable.


The contrast of the dark sky and the white painted lighthouse was striking.


As we got closer to the bay shore, the east wind continued to strengthen.

Palm branches were shaking themselves loose and crashing into the road.


In the bay, we could see the first band of heavy rain moving in and the wind had blown the water up pretty high already. High tide was about 11am and it was about 1:30 when I took this picture.


We were glad to see the boat trailer parking lot was for the birds only. Everyone had already come in.


“Hey, Henry, did you hear about the storm that’s comin’? We better go check the radar soon!”


This wind’s enough to “tern” your stomach!”


We saw lots of ospreys—three over one pond!  This osprey was having some difficulty maneuvering.


B called my attention to the waterlilies. The wind had flipped them up on the windward side so that their garnet undersides were showing across the pond.




This was a few miles inland but it was the hardest wind we had. By the time we left, the wind was getting crazy, as in over 30mph. 100_8331


It started to rain as we were getting into the truck. It was time to go home.

The drive home took us through some heavy rain for a few miles, but then that was it and when we got home, it had not rained at all.

That is when we learned Claudette has been named.