Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Marvelous Maples

The maples are gorgeous now with their  winged seeds setting blaze to the high and low places in the wet woods.






They float in small rafts on the water and pile up around logs.



I collected some and took to school to show my students. They were amazed to see how they spin and twirl when dropped. I gave two to each child. It just might have been the best toy they had lately!----which is interesting, considering all the electronic ones they bring to school.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eagle Day at St. Marks

We made a run down to St. Marks on Sunday afternoon. When we arrived it was still cloudy and very few people were there, which can be nice. B puts the truck in drive and keeps his foot off the accelerator and we just coast down the road ---at 110mph!---(see recent blog about the broken speedometer) so we can see off the sides of the road. And we saw a lot in a couple of hours!

The biggest observations to share were the eagles. We saw an all time record of nine in different locations and only one at a time. One would suppose that some might have been the same that had just moved, but we definitely saw several different ones. One was a juvenile whose white feathers were not yet in, but its bill and feet and flight were unmistakable.

One was on the nest but I did not get a picture of it either. It is pretty far out for my lens.

This one B spotted and we got out and walked a little closer before it flew.


Another one flew in near the boat ramp and tried to steal a fish from an osprey.

This is my attempt to get a picture us as they flew over us in an impressive “dog-fight”!

(That is the eagle!)

Oh, well!


We don’t think the eagle was successful either, but it circled back around and came to perch in the osprey’s usual dead pine, as though to mock it.



What a day for eagles!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday: The Brush-off


Rock Harbor Paint

As my sister said, “It’s a-peeling.”

(Doesn’t speak well of the paint quality, does it?)

Friday, March 19, 2010


Our kindergartners were on the school bus for a field trip recently. We were driving past some of the preschools where our students had been before coming to “big school.” The kids were excitedly remarking, “That’s my preschool!” I asked the child sharing my seat, “Where did you go to preschool?” No answer. Try again: “Did you go to preschool?” His answer took me by surprise when he said, “Not yet!”


The fieldtrip was to the planetarium which shares a plaza with the Mary Brogan Museum. One of my students was heard to repeatedly call it the “Broken Mary Museum.”


One morning, one of my students asked, “ Why does the box always say a bad word?”

Well, I knew that the “box” was the intercom speaker, but that was where I got lost. So I asked, “The box says a bad word?”

He said, “Yes! It is always talking about who has car doody!”

(In case you were not sure, it is car ”duty” which is an assignment for teachers to assist children in and out of their cars in the drive-through.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

‘Tis the Season To Be Irish

On Saturday we went to the Tallahassee Irish Festival and Parade. Tallahassee has been a little slow in getting on the St. Patrick’s Day bandwagon and so this is what I called a baby festival. It will grow, though, I think.

The music was provided by this local band, with a unique style that was fun and refreshing. I have never heard a rock band with a bagpipe.


It was a breezy---no, WINDY!----day. Looking at this picture now and noticing the flair of the sound guy’s kilt, I may have just missed a shot that might have been a tad more interesting had I aimed the camera just a little lower.

Oh, well.

There was a lively group of Irish step dancers performing.



And then there was the parade.



The spectators were sometimes spectacles themselves.

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There was even an Irish Setter.


And there were Irish Wolfhounds.



I was not really familiar with these large dogs. They were originally used to hunt wolves that attacked sheep herds. These were both females;  the males grow one third larger and weigh 130-160 pounds. These were very gentle dogs.

The festival was worth going out for and nice that it was all free, except for the $5 glasses of beer and other food, which we passed on. I hope the celebration will grow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My First Date Was a Blind Date

My first date actually came before I was 16 which had been set by my parents as a suitable age to begin dating. But because I was with a group that included my sister and her boyfriend, I was allowed to go.

This car is like the one I rode in on that momentous occasion. This was in the late 1960’s, so even then this car was considered a classic.


It was a blind date in more ways than one. The boy was a co-worker of my sister’s boyfriend but we had never met. I was not going to go on my first date wearing my dorky glasses, so I left them at home. Now I am all but blind without them. We went bowling! Only my sister and her boyfriend knew about the glasses and they laughed watching me bowl a pretty decent game when I couldn’t see the pins at all.

Just look at this whole row of similar models! I had on my glasses today so I could see them.


No, I no longer choose vanity over vision.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday: For the Little People

In observance of St. Patrick’s Day:

The setting is a remote wetland where the St. Marks River goes underground and reappears several times, creating a natural bridge in one spot.


Looking closer:


And closer still at the mailbox:


I suppose this mailbox doubles as a bluebird house …..or more likely, a moccasin hideout.

As an aside, the state has just bought this land because of its historical significance: the Battle of Natural Bridge was fought here during the Civil War. (The North never succeeded in taking Tallahassee.) I wonder if they will leave the mailbox, door and gnome/leprechaun.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pieces of My Kentucky Heritage

Both of my parents were born and reared in eastern Kentucky, where their families had lived for generations. We still have lots of extended family there.


The quilt that hangs on the wall in our living room was made by my paternal grandmother, who died around 1983, after living her entire life in a small area in Kentucky.

The blue vase was made at  Bybee Pottery in Kentucky, founded in 1809. Our family has collected Bybee for decades as it was just down the road from my mama’s childhood home.

The little quilt mat was bought on my last trip to Kentucky, two summers ago. I bought it at Natural Bridge in the charming little gift shop there. The large lodge was built by my first cousin. The mat, I am sorry to say, was made in China, a fact that almost made me not buy it.  But I had already fallen in love with it and after some deliberation, decided that I could live with the fact that it was not locally quilted.

These are just a few of my Kentucky treasures: reminders of who came before me and who I am.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Kingfisher and the Moon



When we go to the lighthouse, we usually see belted kingfishers. Kingfishers are expert teasers. They perch until you get your camera up and then they fly off, laughing.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to capture this kingfisher while it was apparently mesmerized by the full moon rising.

Here is the shot with no zoom lens or cropping. The kingfisher was on the branch to the left and the moon was behind it in the smoky clouds. I guess some distance may have helped me photograph my first kingfisher that was not a blur as it flew off (laughing at me, of course).


Friday, March 12, 2010

At Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center

On Saturday, B took his Boy Scouts to the special (annual) event at Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center in Jefferson County, just down the road a ways from our house. Kids and families could take part in all kinds of activities in the great outdoors for free. Here are a few things we did:

Petted a turkey----takes one to know one!


Rode in a swamp buggy.



Took hay rides.


Shot black powder.


Heard Beau Turner speak.


Heard Tom Miranda (of TV fame) speak.


Watched an amazing archery demonstration by Byron Ferguson.





Admired some of the equipment.


This little run-about was solar-powered. The barn has solar collectors, too.


Here is the webpage for Beau Turner YCC. It is a really cool place.

At the bottom of the webpage is a link to Ecosense for Living: Children and Nature. It is a 27 minute film with interviews with Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods).  It is most likely preaching to the choir, but worth the time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alligator Pictures

Regular readers know that B and I have been going to the St. Mark’s Wildlife Refuge for years and years and go more than once a month. We usually see alligators when we visit. Over the years, I have taken a lot of alligator pictures. Now the term “alligator picture” predates any decent zoom lens that I have had; the term has been used in our family for decades to describe a picture taken of anything that, once it was “developed,” you could no longer find much of the original subject in the photograph. It would camouflage into the surroundings and was, therefore, a poor picture.

For instance, here is an alligator picture from the 1970’s, taken down near the lighthouse at St. Marks. I assure you there was an alligator in this picture!


So this picture is worth a thousand words---or at least a thousand blades of grass---to make my point. And just in case that was not clear, here is another. Same place, same time period.


Well, thanks to a decent zoom, I no longer take as many “alligator" pictures,” though I continue to take pictures of alligators.


The last time we were down at the lighthouse, B noticed how much the skyline of trees look like an alligator partially submerged. The eye is on the right, the tail on the left.


So you tell me: Is it an alligator picture?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Last week, I got a letter in the mail stating that my Camry was one of the vehicles that Toyota was recalling to (hopefully) repair the accelerator that may stick in the down position, creating the likelihood of a crash. They were also making an adjustment on the driver’s floor mat that was blamed for interfering with the accelerator in some instances. So by Thursday, we had taken it to the dealership and it has supposedly been made safe.

I have been trying to sort out just how I feel about this but at this time do not have a lot of definitive ideas. What I do I know is that I am very practical and not a worrier. I know that I feel that my chances of having the accelerator stick were much less than my chances of being killed by someone running the only traffic light I go through every day to work. (I see it run almost every week by vehicles going more than 60 mph.) As far as whether or not Toyota officials knew there was a problem long before they said anything, I don’t think sets the company apart from most other large corporations. Would I buy another Toyota? Yes. Yes, I would.

Now B drives a truck made by Chevrolet. It has recently had the speedometer to go bad. He went on-line and found that it is a fairly common problem that Chevrolet recognizes but has not changed its manufacturing to correct, nor will they fix it (for free) after a certain number of miles on the odometer.

So here we are. We can get it fixed  for something around $500 or just use the GPS to calculate his speed.

I will say it has made our life just a little more interesting.


And for such speed, he gets great mileage!