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Florida’s flora and fauna have become victims of the new deadzone.
We have frozen, and refrozen and will do it again for a few more nights.  Can the plants survive all this savage winter frost over and over? Even the wildlife is at risk, the manatees are taking over anywhere the water is warmer, they succumb to “cold stress syndrome”, (me too.)  They can’t take water below 68degrees or they can die because apparently their hormonal system is stressed.   Photo care of
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution
And not only are the manatees at risk, the non native iguanas are just falling out of trees onto people in south Florida.  Apparently, being of a reptile nature, they just go into a cold induced stupor and fall over.  Plus, they are saving sea turtles from dying, and pelicans from starving and there’s 4 people in need of every one homeless shelter cot on these freezing nights. It is a winter that I have not encountered since living in Florida back in ’73’  (though we did move away for a few years in the 80’s)  This is not the Florida I love, give me back the heat, I would rather be hot than cold!
The backyard looks burnt out.  This is from Wednesday morning.  Here’s a few more of various plants around the yard:
That’s my passionflower vine all dying a slow death.   my hibiscus and young bird of paradise, kiss them goodbye – they are goners.
The view from my desk window, canna lilies are totally brown!
|    The cranes are fine and I am happy to report the Papa crane is walking much better, his limp is decreasing.  (stock footage from the summer.)  The birds are very active. 
Even the squirrels were trespassing  

around the yard knowing Ringo was inside playing.  
The fox was around,  he’s looking a bit better, and was off in a split second as soon as I opened the sliding glass door to get a photo of him. He sprints around here, then in a minute, he is off through the neighborhood.

The female heron sits around in her less than egg-worthy nest and waits for her lover to appear twice a day. I think he is disappointed in the nest and spends more time with the other female heron at her pad because it is a  better home environment.

Fishing you ask? I have not fished in over a week, the cold is way too cold for me, as I guess it would be for the fish, who are most likely hardly moving.  The lake looks great,  you can see beneath the water quite clearly.   I did see minnows, but nothing bigger.  I remember a few years ago watching bass swim around in specific areas, they seemed territorial. But fishing has not been that great in the past year and a half, when my neighbors moved, the big bass have decided not to be caught anymore.
And back to the weather, I never thought I would say a 50 degree day would be a heatwave!  There might be snow in the morning, how freaky would that be?
So now it is morning, 8:41am to be exact, it has rained, but it is not quite cold enough yet for snow. It looks once again boring and cold, brown and lifeless except for the fluttering of birds at my stump and feeders – DO NOT FORGET TO FEED THE BIRDS THIS WINTER! You will be greatly rewarded by having so much activity around on these days when you feel so sluggish under several layers of clothing and a full length robe. Here’s the latest view :  And I just came in from being outside and it has cooled down a lot! Temp is at 35, maybe in an hour you will see snow, I will be watching, it’s gonna happen!

I did write a story about “fish cubes” — we had a frost in 2008 and I had a dream that the fish were all frozen in the lake and I boated out and rescued them, it’s on my poetry blog –  Go to http://abberantverse.wordpress.com if you feel like reading my surreal view of poetry/prose, I have a strange take on things.
Will keep you posted “literally” when the snow comes – stay warm wherever you are, and gear up for making our utility companies rich via  monstrous electric and gas bills!  Now if America could only ‘green up’ and have a huge manufacturing industry of turbines and solar with the ability to sell our excess energy back!  Energy should be propelling a massive industry for us, where is it? I suppose all one can do to protest for now is to expel excessive energy and fart on the check to the electric & gas  companies before sealing the bill in the envelope, maybe they will get ‘wind’ of our need for change…

A cold front approaches. It’s another gray day, everything looks bland. 
The cranes came , did a rain dance. We are in need of moisture.  The heron was MIA in her nest for 4 hours, maybe she was fishing.   The nest is filling out slowly.
She did come back in early afternoon.  A pair of ibis came foraging for food.
and a pied-billed grebe came by and dove under the water when he saw me.   They are funny looking.

I tried my hand at macro, but wind was blowing and the focus was almost impossible. But did get a few pics in to show.  So here’s a few…

Someone told me that those are some sort of beetles mating and not lady bugs.
Ringo the heron and I fished,    but the wind was whipping and the drizzling rain was getting cold and miserable, so I had to come in.  The heron was in her nest and it was waving in the wind.   Ringo came to the back door and decided to come in and dry off.
Right now Frankie is in my lap and my legs have lost all circulation,    ugh, I must get up and move.   Oh, I was looking at my match holder and realized I must get a chimney sweep to clean out  the fireplace.   For now, that’s it, and I’m sending a rose to Tabbie to let her know I am thinking about her and hope she is feeling better.
And here’s a video from Tampa, a bit shaky, but hope you enjoy anyway…     

It’s Friday,  this morning there was a fog over the lake 100_4139-res But that did not stop the cranes and Carbs the duck from looking for birdseed.  The other birds were busy too, lots and lots of cardinals today. 100_4155res I bet there were about 7 at one time!
When it was time to go fishing, the cranes were still here rooting around the yard. The sky was very dramatic.  100_4171-1res 100_4177res across the lake there was this wonderful rainbow patch just above the treeline.  The sky was full of storms to the east.
Most of the day I had been working on my garden. I think I am going to let more than half of it go back to being grass. The weeding is Hell.
That overgrown patch beyond the crane in the first photo is the garden and I have not weeded in a few months. I am really losing interest in keeping it up. The weeds grow the best, so essentially I have a garden of weeds. and maybe I should just let the whole lawn go to weeds and just mow one three foot area going down to the lake?
Anyway, it was time to fish so I chose a lightning rod,  100_4167res and ran to the lake because there was a great full moon last night. DSC01091res How can I ignore this magnetic call from the lake. I did catch two fish, bream,  100_4169res they are really very pretty fish with rainbow colors on parts of them.  The sky continued to turn blues and I could see the rain coming down a few miles away.  DSC01102-1res The cranes finally gathered on the hill and I grabbed my camera. Excuse how messy the image is as I had messy sticky, gooky fish hands and was trying to touch the camera without holding my hands on it too much. But when I saw the cranes all standing straight in a row waiting to take the cue from the father to leave, I wanted to try and get
a video of them flying practically over my head.
I did give up fishing as the turtles were once again making it impossible to throw the bait out without having a turtle charge right for it.
As I looked up, I noticed how beautiful the sky was, it had melded into pinks and blues, and orange my favorite look.  100_4194res 100_4190res It’s one of those moments you wish you had someone out there besides a duck and cat. The colors were spectacular. So, that’s about it. I came in and Frankie was hogging my desk and had knocked over all kinds of paperwork as she sprawled out.  100_4186res And that’s it for today – where does a day go? Where does the month go? Where does a year go? Can it all just slow down for a while, life is just passing by way too fast…. Tomorrow I will report on the garden

WOW! I have had trees removed years ago, but I was impressed today! My neighbor had SAIASI TUIKABA Tree Service (phone # 321-422-9994) come to take down 2 dangerous looking pines. These weren’t just small pines, they had to be over 100 feet tall. The crane operator pulled up and maneuvered through to the backyard and they successfully avoided all the flowers on the property. crane1resw
They extended the boom and the climber got on the ball and away he went to the top of the pine that is only feet from Kim’s house. landsintree3res

Way up at the top, he tightly bound the straps to the tree and lowered himself to go for the cut. Once he made his notches with the chain saw, the tree was lifted away by the crane. firsttree4
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firsttree9res Then of course, after the crane lifted it very carefully and expertly over the house, it was put down and two more sections were cut and belted and in a matter of 45 minutes, that tree was just a stump to be ground. The second tree was just as smooth, I was a bit closer on that one. This 6′ plus guy was power lifted again.
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2ndtree5res 2ndtreeresize Again he followed the same steps, knew where to notch and the crane operator was right in lock step with the climber. It was flawless.  Each tree was cut into 3 sections. They lowered each section to the ground and another man began the task of dismantling the limbs. There is still quite a lot of tree to be cut into log pieces.
We neighbors watching on the ground all felt like applauding after the ballet between the coordination of the crane operator and the climber. And look closely at the photos, it’s like finding Waldo up there — he looks so small.  I didn’t use the longer telephoto because I wanted to get better perspective using the shorter lens. But one thing for sure, this tree service was completely professional and fast.  They will begin clean up tomorrow.
Some of the neighbors like keeping all their trees. They feel if the tree goes down during these storms and hurricanes, , well, that’s what nature does sometimes and that’s why we have insurance.  Not me, I saw the houses around here where these huge pines had fallen right through roofs and luckily no one was killed. But why not do a preventative maintenance? It makes you feel so much more secure when you know that a ton of tree won’t come through your ceiling while you wait out a hurricane.

For you tree huggers, we here in Florida get trees coming up wild all over our property. I had 7 trees removed 3 years ago and now have many new trees coming up to take their places, (no more pines ever.) We have the option to buy another tree of some type if you want to replace the pines.  I have lots of new crepe myrtles,  camphors that I love, but are not native. And I planted a red maple and lemon tree near the lake.  Those of you who love trees, but frown on taking healthy trees off your property, I am glad you are braver than I am through the hurricanes. I love trees too, but when these weapons of mass destruction wave their weighted boughs over your house with the raging wind, and the rain saturates the roots making them weaker,  then to me it’s a no brainer,  put more trust in you doing the right thing — sometimes Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor…    P/S – Must make mention of another very effective  and competent and caring tree Service, Davey Tree Service – they also do mowing.  (407) 331-8020 – call and ask for Chuck Daum-  Davey was kind enough to donate their services to the Audubon society this past June:
MAITLAND, Fla. — …A local tree service pitched in to help the Audubon Society on Monday.

The chainsaws were roaring out front while the bald eagles calmly perched in the back.The Audubon Birds of Prey Center is a champion when it comes to the rescue and rehab of Florida’s feathered hunters, but tree-trimming work is not part of its expertise.At about a month into hurricane season, clearing out vulnerable trees and branches is important.”We have all native plants and very old oak trees on our property, so it helps us to be prepared,” Katie Warner of the Audobon Society said.”Couldn’t think of a better organization to support,” Chuck Daum said.Daum, a manager with Davey Tree Service is an Audubon member. After he saw tree trimming in the organization’s newsletter as a wish list item, his company donated a crew for the day.”Some of the groups don’t have the budget to do this kind of work, so it was a perfect fit. I’m looking forward to making it an annual event,” Daum said.

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Okay, going a little stir crazy around here! No fishing again! Here we are at the end of daylight, (8pm)  on Sunday and officially the rain total is 19 and 1/2 inches of rain since last Monday AND  it is raining outside as I type. We did get some sunshine outside earlier, but the sun was so blinding and hot, I could not fish. And as it got later, the rains with flashing lightning came in too close and socked us AGAIN! I am thankful that we do not have the flooding many places in Daytona and up the coast had. Saw too many homes with water inside houses and streets that were mini lakes.
The worst thing is the fireants! They have made piles all over the place. I was putting bird food on the stump and my foot and ankle became surrounded and I was taking lots of bites before I could wipe them away. Even when I stood down at the lake, fire ants were everywhere. They bite you putting their whole body into action and leave red dots all over your feet and ankles and I have even had them crawl up my pants and bite me on the thighs! They are little and angry and pack a big punch in their mandibles!  Let’s hope Monday is better – even my sunflower looks like it has had enough being battered for a week by almost 20 inches of rain… 52409burntoutsunflower-1_edited-1

Here it is at 7 weeks and it is going to be the biggest crane I can think of – it is growing like a corn stalk in July!
So I will let the photos speak for themselves
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I would say if Sonja’s garden were to be a song, it would be written by Joni Mitchell.  We are Joni’s Ladies of the Canyon, I am Trina, she is Annie. First you go there and you are greeted by her sweet dogs. Oscar is my favorite and he hates having his photo taken, but I tricked him.
small-oscar She has cats here and there and lots and lots of citrus which she gives to you “for free”.  She has now grown her own garden with all sorts of “vine and leaf are filagree” ; peas, green beans, cukes, squash and it all looks lovely and orderly like someone who knows that they are doing. gardena-smallThe plants seem like soldiers standing at attention, guarding their terrain.  I wonder if Sonja goes out at night and sings them a lullaby? They are truly pampered plants like her animals. And because of it, they have so much to give back. She brought over wonderful snap peas and dip, ummm, they were fresh and organic and I, the not a bigtime vegetable eater, loved them!  Sonja is trying to practice what she preaches about buying local produce and being a “locavore”. She wrote a terrific article in the Sanford Herald about needing to get more local farms working and getting fresh fruits and vegetables to our own local markets. We went to the produce docks one day and  on the docks where pallets of food waiting to be loaded to be shipped off.  We saw nothing except peanuts from the USA! The pineapples were from Costa Rica as were the bananas, the green peppers — Hondurus and on and on. We were both disappointed that our Florida soil isn’t used much for other things besides citrus and developers.
The backyard at Sonja’s is so inspiring,  besides the luscious squash, squash

there’s zuccinizucciniand wonderful lumbering trees just as calm as Sonja.  She has sentimental plantings around yard and her home is  just as luminous as she is. She brings me “apples and cheeses”, we chat about life and writing, and she is one of the brightest people you’ll ever meet.  Even when she is away, (which was a lot last year)  and…. she is not like me who goes to Tampa and feels that was a huge feat! No, she ventures down the Amazon, has hot cocoa in Switzerland, and loves climbing the hills in Greece. And she is always considerate of others and always spoils me with little things she brings back. The best was the chocolate from Switzerland, hint hint.  I am so lucky to have such a friend who puts up with me, and I am smarter just by being around her and learning so many things. There is always something fun going on in Sonja’s sharing garden.
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dsc00016Woke up this morning and went out to feed critters and no Carbs. I didn’t see him anywhere around the lake. The girls came swimming up about fifteen minutes later, they did not see their man-duck and swam off. Yesterday Elvis had come to visit.
31809ducks-11 He and Carbs and the girls all yakked it up on the bank and then Elvis flew off and the girls left.

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Carbs has taken to jumping up on the stump and eating the bird seed, he doesn’t care a ducks ass about Ringo hiding to sabbotage the birds.

Will let you know if he comes back, maybe he is visiting Elvis??? It’s only 10:am – Do you know where Carbs is???

Now it’s 5pm, Carbs has a hiding place underneath the fallen tree, I called and called and finally went to the waters edge and saw a little red duck head peek out when he heard me.
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So he is still here, enjoying life in Abbesworld, and I’m
so happy he still likes it here, enough to hang out and be a duck model….

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That’s what my fence used to look like for three years. Loaded with red and purple pasion flowers. They made everyone happy. My neighbors on the other side of the fence loved looking at the blooms and would tell me that often. Today I had to go out there and perform a Paul Bunyon with my trusty shears. all the vines were dead and full of debris. I hacked and hacked and pruned and pruned and this is now what it looks like 100_0194

My grass, (what grass?) is just weeds and everything froze back. I need one of those natural no grass kind of lawns, (xeroscape) oh wait, that’s what I have, weeds have taken over and the backyard looks like crap. To make it worse, my son ran into the realtor whom I bought the place from and she gave me the old photos from the listing. The grass was so lush and green. Thank God the old couple moved 3000 miles away. He would be mad, he took a lot of pride in in yard. It’s not that I don’t, I just don’t feel like wasting water for asthetics. I need cactus and stone or something instead of grass, and a pot of gold to finance a total undertaking of what to do. I might have to consult some my ‘yardless’ friends who have let natural nature take over and have yards requiring little care. I am totally tired of weeding and pruning, I need a gardner who likes to work for free, oooo, that’s me, and you can see what a lousy job I am doing!

She’s nesting all right, but I can’t find where. The male, Papa crane has been coming here alone for 3 days. I see him all by himself at least 3 times a day. I want to follow him, but don’t want to go marching through the neighbors yards as he wanders.  dsc00450

Carbs the duck is still here with his ever visiting harem. Those Pekin ducks are adorable, I keep waiting to hear them say AFLAC.  This morning there was a feeding frenzy at the stump, lots of blackbirds, then the crane, then the ducks and cats,  dsc004821

There is certainly a ‘pecking’ order, or ‘clicks’, (or “clucks”)  around here. Sometimes the ducks are mingling with the coots, sometimes they are near the crane or heron, though both the crane and heron have no use for the ducks and chase them off if they get too close. The cats don’t bother the ducks either. This morning that funny male Muscovy was here, well, as I look out, he is still flirting among the girls.  dsc00487

Last nights fishing got too cold with the northeast wind blowing over the lake. The sky had a fish-scale pattern to it.  dsc00437 And there were heron wars again – the larger heron came down, but my smaller heron did not put up with it! Will blog about that with photos tomorrow. As for today, it is gorgeous and sunny and a perfect day for nature photography, ummm, where to go….

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I saw this weird thing on shore at my son’s Tampa townhome in the “waterfront” backyard, (wait, is that an oxymoron?)        You know how the developers work, they dig a big drainage ditch and call it waterfront in Florida. The water is pretty yukky looking, but there is action out there.
My son had told me about the nutria inhabiting his back yard, and there is a big nutria population around Brandon Florida close by where he lives.  It’s a South American import, (the nutria, not my son.)
The nutria, a species of rodent /beaver were introduced into Louisiana during the 1930’s for their fur, but somehow many made it into the swamps where they love and thrive upon the plants. Apparently they really dig in and destroy the wetlands. Maybe the past administration could have ‘scape-goated’ the situation with Hurricane Katrina damage by blaming the problems with flooding on the nutria’s destruction of Louisiana wetlands, a perfectly ‘ratty’ excuse! But it really was the greedy Louisiana fur trappers and their eager beaver European, fur wearing consumers demanding pelts for coats, who caused the problem. When the muskrat ran low, the furriers imported nutria. These nutria have damaged thousands of acres

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by chomping away whole eco systems for meals,  they call these “eat outs”.  And somehow, they were introduced here in Florida too where they lounge about in drainage ditches and love golf courses, (it must be the greens – ha ha). The nutria are blamed for making sink holes by burrowing deeply into the sandy golf courses.

The British had a problem with nutria eating their marshy vegetation too, eventually they shot and trapped them and rid the British shores of this nuisance animal over a ten year period.
In Jefferson Parish Louisiana, they have been so abundant that the Jefferson Parrish swat team used nutria for sharp shooting target practice.  In Florida in the past, there have been nutria night shoots at golf courses infested by the rodents. They are not well liked. And don’t try and pet them either, many are infested with roundworm and you can catch the larva from them and get the ‘nutria itch’ – yuk!
Some zoos feed them to snakes. I guess gators must be happy having them close! These are a strange breed of animal! BUT, the idea light just went off!!!!   If I could have a couple sterile nutria, that might be the solution to my over weed choked lake. HEY!!!! Anyone up for trapping some nutria and then sterilizing them? I’ll bait the trap, you can sterilize!  If we get a lot of them, there are other options, the new “soylent green”! Or how about a restaurant chain: The Nutritious Nutria!  Can’t you see it? The cook-offs! How about this one and it IS legit!

Nutria Chili  from: http://www.nutria.com/site16.php

Recipe by: Chef Enola Prudhomme
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds nutria ground meat
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup tomato paste
4 cups beef stock (or water)
1 can red kidney beans (opt.)

In a heavy 5-quart pot on high heat, add oil and heat until very hot. Add nutria meat, and cook and stir 10 minutes. Add salt, red pepper, chili powder, onion and both bell peppers. Cook and stir 15 minutes. Add tomato paste and 4 cups stock. Cook 30 minutes; reduce heat to medium. Add red kidney beans; cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot!

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