Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just Plane Art

One of our local galleries has an exhibit on now entitled, Planes,Trains and Automobiles.


This full-sized biplane replica fills the tiny front lawn of the gallery, in downtown Tallahassee.




This sign informs the visitor about the work:


100_9702 (Just a pose to give a better size perception. We didn’t really handle the plane.)

Pretty cool!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wrendering Assistance

Predawn this morning, B went out the front door to get the newspaper and a wren that was apparently in the wreath flew into the house, unnoticed by B. Believe me, I noticed it as it came in the bedroom (where I was still enjoying a last few minutes of lazy warmth) and began frantically flitting from lamp to ceiling fan to curtain rod. By the time B got back inside, I had trapped it in our bathroom by shutting the door. To be such a small space, one hyper little wren made catching it quite a challenge. Eventually, B came out with it contained in my long-john shirt from the hamper. No pictures. The light on the porch was inadequate and there was no way we were going to risk letting it get free in the house again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hooked on Speed

I wrote last week about a hike in a new park in the county. The park adjoins the field where radio controlled aircraft are flown. The sign read “Visitors Welcome,” so we visited on our way out. The three guys who were there and flying were very friendly and taught this novice all she knows about radio controlled flying.

This was the one that caught our eye as we were hiking. It is a battery-powered jet, modeled after the F-16. The jet and his control of it were both pretty amazing. He said it was flying at 120 mph in a straight line. But of course, most of the time it was not flying in a straight line but doing all the loops and rolls that we think of when we see such a fighter jet. I did not even try to get any shots in the air!

This jet is made of fiberglass, and very light.

To launch it, he throws it.


This is the control for the jet. It was ultra-sensitive. His fingers barely moved.


To land, he cuts the engine and it glides to the grass.



The red, white and blue plane is made of styrofoam ---and so even lighter.100_9612

This helicopter was pretty cool too. It takes off from the ground.

100_9618 Look at it hovering, upside-down!


While this is a hobby, the flyer of the helicopter told us that because of his skill, he was hired quite profitably to go to Iraq to fly unmanned aircraft for several months.

I asked and was assured that yes, this hobby is very addicting and flyers spend lots of time with their aircraft.

It was a lot of fun to watch and talk to these guys and we expect to keep an eye on the web page to attend an air show or demonstration.

Here is the webpage for the local group:

Here is a page with some video of jets on it:

Monday, December 28, 2009

An Ax to Grind

Younger son, D, wanted a good ax for Christmas. We shopped all around and were not able to find what we wanted. So B took two old ax blades he had in his shed and got them rehung at Grambling’s Seed and Feed store, a quaint little place we have written about before. Here you can see B sharpening the blade.



He even took some leather scraps and made a blade sheath. I called it a “blade bra.”

On Christmas morning, he gave it to D, who seems pleased with it. Here he is working on some fat lighter for his  grandparents.


It is “George Washington” approved:

“Not the fake Christmas tree!”


---Just kidding!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas!


With one son home, we went down to the St. Mark’s lighthouse and refuge for a Christmas Eve picnic. The holly was full of Christmas cheer.

No, really--- FULL!!


There are whole thickets of holly.


Migratory birds were in there having their own picnic.

As you can see, the prickly pears are still showing off their fruits.


D carefully picked and peeled one and we all tasted it. Very similar to the fruit of a pomegranate, it has much juice and many seeds. The juice stained his hand with festive red streaks.


In addition, we saw ….. (Now, sing along!)

5 sunning gators!

4 million robins,

3 bald eagles,

2 calling loons,

And a dolphin swimming in the bay!


Here are a few more pics:

This eagle was facing what might have been posing as the sun on this cloudy day, with its back to the road. It sat preening its feathers and turned its head to check on us. Nice rotation of the neck; rather owl-like.


A lone bufflehead.


It was cool and windy so, we had our picnic in the truck. Grackles came looking for a hand-out. The females are beautiful sable brown.


The males are iridescent blue-black.


A few flew right into the truck bed and on the rails and tailgate.


Here are a couple of a good-sized gator; we guessed it was about 7 feet, but it was so close that we  stood in the truck to take it’s picture.



What a great way to wrap up our Christmas preparations!

What a gift!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday’s Hike

On Sunday afternoon we went with a friend to Apalachee Regional Park, a new county park that is very near our home. The hiking/cross-country running trail winds around open fields and through woods and by Lake Lafayette.  A kayaker went by on the cypress-filled lake as we walked near the shore.

This ancient vine caught our eyes. (Sounds more painful than it actually was!)


Apparently, the wild hogs are creating their usual havoc with the land, and so traps have been placed in an effort to eradicate them.


While we saw evidence of their existence in there, we thankfully did not see any in or out of the traps. I find wild hogs interesting from a distance and prefer to view them from within the relative safety of an enclosed vehicle.

It was a nice trail and with its close proximity, we will, no doubt, go back. One word of advice if you go: find a map online and print it and take it with you. There is little in the way of trail marking and no maps available on site. It is not a huge area and it would be hard to get lost for long considering the boundaries, but still I like to know where I am going and approximately where I am.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter Solstice Sunset

Quite a show!




Less than Ideal: I was in a parking lot by a major thoroughfare, so there are streetlights and power lines, but you get the picture, so to speak.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A First On the Twenty-second

There are sixty-something school districts in Florida. Four of them decided that it would be a fine idea to have school in session this, the week of Christmas. Guess we are just lucky to be one of the four. I discovered today when we started to put up the calendar piece that I have never needed a December calendar piece with a 22 on it before. We have never been in school on the twenty-second of December. We had to make a new calendar piece.

As you can imagine, it has been a wild (and exhausting) couple of weeks in elementary schools here. However, my kids were actually better this week than last, (thank goodness!) and better today than yesterday.

On Monday morning we had what was forecasted to be the coldest morning in 2009. I am not sure if it lived up to that, but it was definitely cold standing out at car duty for thirty minutes.

The frost was heavy.

We don’t get snow here, so I like to get the kids to bundle up and take magnifiers and go examine the frost crystals before they melt.





Of course, sometimes the grass is whiter on the other side of the fence.


Here is a lovely crystal-coated plant called hen-bit.


And isn’t this little spider web stunning?


I guess if we had not been in school this week, we would have missed some of this.

On the other hand, I would have done at least some holiday baking by now and have my shopping completed.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday: Merry Mailboxes

My sister went for a drive around Key Largo and sent me a BUNCH of cool mailboxes. Here is a sampling:


The little flamingos are hard to see, so….



Last September, I found this old candy-striped one.

Candy Cane Mailbox

Merry Christmas to all!

Or whatever YOUR big holiday is!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finding It Hard To Leave

The little maple has put on a beautiful show for almost two weeks.


But now the tree has its bare-bones, winter look.


On Saturday, B and I sat eating lunch and located the last live leaf on the tree.

100_9602 It is still there today.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Slacking Scarecrow?

Remember the scarecrow we put up at Halloween?


Well, bless his little pinestraw heart, he has been standing out there protecting us from all manner of fearsome things ---as well as a few dogs and people---all this time. He had appeared to do a good job.

It’s not that I intended for him to be on duty for so long; it’s just that the rain kept getting him all soggy. I would wait for him to dry out only for the next soaker to come along. Well, finally on Thursday, it was dry enough before the rains were due (and delivered!) on Friday. B and I got out after an early supper and took him down.

The first piece to be removed was the neckerchief. As soon as I began to loosen the knot, I saw what it was hiding: a very large wooly bear caterpillar.


Then I saw the hickory nut that a squirrel had stashed under there, too.


My first thought was: For shame. I guess he must have missed the line in his job description about wooly bear and squirrel scaring. Squirrels, in particular.

Of course, he could have been merely enhancing his image by adding a boil and a hairy mole to the back of his neck. That’s something to think about. (But not for long.)