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I’d call it a day of nostalgia. I had connected with a long lost friend on Facebook two days ago and it got me looking at old photos today which spiraled into  ‘mind-reversal’ thinking about the past.
Earlier I had to go into my Safe Deposit box at the bank looking for a Title and came across my great-grandmother’s wedding ring dated 1879 inside. So I took it home and put it on my Papa’s gold watch chain that I always wear around my neck. ring_edited-1 I get a lot of memory ‘tread’ thinking about my Nana and Papa, Louie and Rose who were the most fantastic grandparents in the whole universe!  They don’t make them like that anymore.  AND suddenly I got hungry thinking about my Nana’s cooking, that woman made gourmet food all the time. Oh, if only I had paid attention and watched her cook, oh never mind, I would weigh 400 lbs…

Later while fishing, my mind was directed away from the mooching turtles and onto the lone Pekin duck who sat on the bank looking for her long, lost twin sister. It seems the other twin female duck has become a groupie for the Band of Brother mallards. Poor single girl left behind, she is so missing her sister who was last seen following the mallards to places unknown. But all is okay as the missing Pekin twin and the BOB entourage will be back in the morning, they always seem to come back for breakfast. 13009ducktwins-1res

Looking at the duck sitting there watching the lake for a sign of her sister, I thought about how I miss my only sister too,  DSC07931poster-1_edited-1 it’s  not really fair when someone close to you commits suicide. I am still angry more than sad. Yep, I still want to kick her ass for being so selfish and yet I know she was just desperate.  I am sorry for what what she will miss though.
As for me, I am very content right here on earth, I’m not anxious to follow in my sister and mother’s path, plus I don’t have their addictions. I am so lucky to have about everything I want, the best kids, supportive family, terrific friends and neighbors and a camera that screams for me to take photos. Now if I could only win a big lotto and not be such an insomniac I’d almost have it all!
I have a better appreciation for what can be taken away by the many losses I have experienced over the years, and there have been a lot. But that’s enough of the crappy nostalgia, lets focus on better things.

sundown6909_edited-1 WAIT —  let me  back up again to around 6pm tonight when there was a knock on the door. A man about my age stood there and asked if I was me. yes, I said, so he handed me a phone number and told me to call my best friend from High school back in Ohio as she could not get a hold of me, (I recently changed phone numbers). I asked who he was and he was someone she dated years ago and had remained friends and happened to now live in Sanford. So I took the number and called but she was not home. So of course I do what I normally do at that time, go fishing.
I stood there thinking back to high school and beyond. Fond memories flooded over me! I just smiled at all the different things I thought of.  But I grew bored of fishing–not a thing was biting except mosquitos and white flies — oh, yes, and of course the turtles, they are such pests. But as I was about to go inside, I saw the sun getting lower and thought I’d do a sundown chase. So put my stuff away, grabbed the dslr and hurried over to Kohls where my vantage point is. I drove through the back of the parking lot and parked. Tonight I saw a funny sight, someone was grilling food right outside the back door of Kohls. People would pop in and out the door and fiddle with food on the grill. I must admit, it smelled divine. The grill fumes and the feel of about 90 degrees made for more long lost summer memories.
I took some shots of the sun as it began to leave.  wallof clouds_edited-1 And it was quite dramatic as this wall of clouds looked like a curtain half open on nature’s stage. It was really breathtaking.  Then I looked up to see the clouds and noticed one in particular that kind of scared the crap out of me. mushroom clouds_edited-1 Whoa, that looked like a mushroom cloud!  It made me think about life in the early 1960’s. I can remember watching some show during that time showing a little girl looking out her window and a nuclear blast occurs complete with actual stock footage. The father grabs her and they venture out. It showed the grocery stores being ransacked and there was no food, so I suppose there was no good ending. As kids of that era, we would have ‘drills’ in school in case of war. We were told to sit under our desks covering our head with our hands because this was how we would survive a nuclear bomb. Today we simply use duck tape to survive, (ha ha).  REMEMBER FOLKS DON”T LOOK TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR HELP!  That was a scary time with Kruschev beating his shoe on the desk of the UN and the Cuban missile crisis.

After leaving the parking lot. I went out on the road neat the Bentley Elementary school and saw Derby Park. The sign pretty much said it all. DSC05366_edited-1 They actually hold weekend soapbox derbies. Now growing up in Akron Ohio, that was the big event each summer, though I am embarassed to say I never saw a Soapbox Derby race except on television, but I did see the Goodyear blimp– ah, more memories.     As I made my way home I smiled a lot thinking of various stages of my life so far as I approach 59 – WHOA where does time go? I really can’t complain about much except I lost some people too fast and some not fast enough.  All the crappy things that have happened actually do make one stronger, and being ‘mature’ you can be obnoxious and people forgive you because “you’re old”.
When I got back inside the house again I found some other photo albums and melted away into fun times. I was so focused I forgot to call my friend.
Every now and then, you just have to go back, think hard and analyze all the things that have happened to make you you. (is that too confusing?)
One day I will have to organize all these photos and put them on CD’s, that’s the way to really preserve for posterity.
And look at the time, 3:38am and I am still lost in retropsective thoughts about retrospective thought, wonder what I will dream about tonight, or actually, what will I dream about this morning? Either way, day dreaming or regular, I am enjoying it. I’ll end this with some good Lewis Carroll quotes, because I adore his thought process…
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.
Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things  before  breakfast.

No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise. Lewis Carroll
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DSC05328res Woke up and the sandhill cranes had come for a visit. Keep in mind the baby is just about 12 weeks old and he is a monster!  (That’s him in the middle.)  His head is so funny as he is losing his baby fuzz. DSC05218a_edited-1 He’s going to tower over the father. The funny thing was how he loves the water.  The baby crane saw the ducks at the lake, DSC05244res and hurried in their direction to assert his machismo. He scattered them off and jumped in for a bath. I followed from behind and watched the baby as he had the best time waving his wings under the water and making the drops scatter. He would groom and then wave those wings and dunk his head. Then finally about ten minutes later he came ashore spreading his massive wings to dry.
For all the other babies we have had on the property over the years, not one would go in the water deeper than it’s knees if it did not have to. Usually just to drink and of course when they were too young to fly and would swim across the lake. but never have I seen one that spent time having fun like this. Plus he is already flying, it took the other baby cranes much longer to fly, a lot longer! But I will let the photos speak for themselves…
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It’s hot out there, really hot, but felt like running up to the used bookstore in Sanford.  Wanted to rumage around the shelves and see what was new. I stopped by the marina to see if anything was floating around, water was flat and nothing visible, not even ducks swimming. So I went toward the businesses up on the “island”.  I can’t figure out how this concrete slab is considered an island, I have been to Sanibel, that’s an island, but then again in Florida, we call drainage ditches “ponds”. Anyway, the familiar ducks were out and about and do seem to stay all together. I saw the one with the hair standing up, DSC04937resiz and I saw the baby ducks which have grown. 6209ducklings-1_edited-1 I also saw a duck walking around with a broken wing.  6209brokenwing-1_edited-1 It looked kind of pathetic. When I walked up to where the ducks live, suddenly it looked like a mass march toward the human. DSC04932resiz When they realized I had a camera and no food, they ignored me. I still did not see one muscovy anywhere, even at the pond that is across the street.
The City of Sanford has built quite an elaborate exercise track and have lots of new playground equipment.
The osprey in the nest are flying now. 6209ospreyleavesnest-1_edited-1 I took a few minutes to watch
them fly from post to post.
Upon returning home, I checked the little mother moorhen on her nest. She has at least 5 eggs now,
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I got a bit worried as the crows began to gather, and they were digging away on the property.  About five crows bossing each other around. One was digging and digging and I watched  to see what it would extract.
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DSC04979res Turtle eggs! They had found a hole,  DSC04981resize

and I shooed them away and took the shovel and got the only two remaining eggs and buried them in the garden so the birds would not bother them. Those birds were rather snippy about that, and finally left. Now I am going fishing. I hope something is biting, last night didn’t catch anything, if fact, I put down my rod and my son and I went for a walk. Now ask my son how annoying it is to seriously walk with someone who wears a camera around her neck, he will gladly tell you…(wait, when I look at that hole, it looks more like snake eggs, might have to let the crows have their raw omelets)

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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

churchresize This is the last photo I took of Church just two nights ago. He would come out and share the cement with Ringo watching me fish.  He was old, perhaps 17-18 or even more. He was a stray when we found him hungry in our driveway as we were about to move in 1995. We packed him up along with our stuff and our two other cats. I had him immunized and neutered and brought him into our new home where he fit in just as if he had always been there. The vet thought he might be 4 years old back then. He was the cat that resembled “Church” in the movie Pet Cemetery, so that’s how he got his name.
In the past months poor old cat has been shrinking and acting old. Last night he did not eat and he is usually the first one talking in the morning for the food. This morning I put the food out and he had no interest, didn’t even meow. I took chicken to him and he ignored it and went back to the corner and curled up. I knew it was time to take him in to the Vet.
I got there at 8am when they opened and when I signed in the clip board, they ask the reason you are here. I left it blank and could not put even the word, was it death? Termination?  The guy at the desk asked me why and I told him the purpose.  He put us in a room to await the vet who was not due in till 9am. I sat petting the drooling ,old, purring cat as the clock over the door ticked away each agonizing second of his remaining life.
The smells of the vet perk an animal’s interest and they know instantly they are not in a normal environment. Church looked up at every door closing, at each bark, at the noise of the techs behind the doors and still he purred and rubbed his head hard against my hand. We spent that time reflecting on old times, he let me do all the talking. We laughed about his old nemesis Terra the bull terrier and how they would get into big spats and Church seemed to know just when Terra was going into the show ring and the day before the show and he would make sure Terra had some nice big scratches on Terra’s face and nose, the cat had a sense of humor.  Church was a good “mouser”, he liked bringing a gifts home.
He leaves behind his adopted sisters, Miss Sealy and Frankie, (also strays) and his brother Ringo. He leaves behind Abbe and Adam and the memories a good cat should. Church was a gentleman at all times, even when Sealy would smack him repeatedly, he always let the girls have their ‘opinions’.
A good cat will never be forgotten, and neither will a bad one, we have had our share of both, but for a stray, he came into our home with respect and love and we will miss our Church. fishingbuddys-1resize

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weatheredit The rain became wind driven once it hit about one am. Coming hard from the east mainly.  No lightening or thunder, but the rain is pelting the east side of the house as we speak and winds up to 20mph. All night as I slept off and on, I was aware of the sound. Got up at 5am to make sure garage floor didn’t have anything that could be wrecked by rain coming in. They say we could get up to 7 inches today and I believe it. That’s great news though I don’t understand why mother nature has to throw it down all at once, it’s almost like Fay last year.  These weather patterns are so odd anymore. I’m sure there will be a lot of flooding all around Florida. When it gets light and stops raining so hard, I’ll take a picture of the water meter. Yesterday this is what it looked like around 10am. monday8am The rain had just begun to really hit. When I took a photo last night after fishing, the water was up to the 130 number gaining about 2 inches. I fully expect it to be around 135 when I see it next this morning.  Frankie the cat had sense and came in last night. Old Church toughed it out on porch and came in this morning only to pee and eat and ran back outside to the wet porch again. I think I have the only cat that comes in to use the box and goes back out! I don’t see Ringo, but I know he is high and dry somewhere. Later…

guage519 8:am, the water gauge is up past 160, that’s 4 inches of rain! And if you notice, the small meter is back under the water once again.  The birds must be sleeping in the trees as there is not one that has come for breakfast. At least for now, wind and rain have slacked off which gives it time to absorb in Florida’s deep sand heap!
Now it’s 7:35. meter reading is at 1.80, that means we have had 6 1/2 inches so far! 51909meter-edited-1_edited-1 It clearly was a day for the ducks! 51909duckinrain-1_edited-1

and as for Ringo, he was asleep inside the whole time! ringoyawn-1 more cats at http://offshoot2.wordpress.com

WAIT, it is now 12:35am and we are having wrapping rainbands and winds just like we are in a hurricane! outside the trees are swaying hard and the wind is pushing things around out there. I can constantly hear my loose porch door. The rain is coming at a slant and very hard. We are back in a yellow band of full force water. I bet when I get up tomorrow and can go out, I bet we have 5 more inches. We are getting slammed. weatheredit There were a couple tornados not too far away.  It’s hard to sleep with all this noise of nature. There seems to be a low pressure area mixing with the cold front and it is in some twirly mood circling around the middle of the state. We had our electric go out once, but came right back. I do have our flashlights ready.  I am always happy I made the decision to take the trees out that hung over the house, too risky having those huge pines that close.  I can’t imagine that my toilets will flush, will be able to tell that later.  The winds are very very active, at one point I thought it might break through, in fact it is doing it again as I write. Maybe I better think about getting this out and looking for a safe place… will write later…

Went to visit my son’s good friend and his wife as they have a beautiful new baby.  Of course it is always a treat to see  their friends grow into adulthood and begin families of their own.  After that we went to my son’s friends’ brother’s ranch and go see the clydesdales.
We drove the short distance and walked through the wonderful stable to see chickens and goats.
51709goatandbaby-1_edited-1 The baby goats were adorable. We then came upon a very handsome and alert paint stud. He was very macho and quite an anxious horse. His eyes were amazing, blue on the left side, brown on the right.  He liked attention.  may172009 216edit_edited-1 As we doted on him, the friend went to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs. Suddenly, from way out back of the field came a pack of 4 horses and a cow running hard, thundering
through to where we stood.

may172009 212size The young cow was out in front leading the way and believe me, with all that weight you could feel the earth vibrate beneath as they came closer.  They stopped before us and let us rub their faces, (well, not the cow, he stood way off to the side).  There were two clydesdales and they were huge. I don’t technically know how many hands they were for a measurement, but the one male was very tall.  edithorse My son is 6’2″ and look at the height of the head of that horse! The ankles of those horses are covered in long hair.  They are terrifically muscled and
may172009 246edit look how a real work horse should look. The male paint on the other side saw the female horse and got extremely excited and sounded like he might come over the fence to join her and the others.  may172009 224edit

Horses are so cool, their faces and reactions are interesting.  As there was a young colt in that pack, the mother would not let us near the baby and tried to bite my son’s friends hand!  The beauty and strength of their bodies was impressive.  We fed them all a bit of hay and I enjoyed petting those long noses and thick necks.
When we left, my son looked around and wished he had some acreage and a horse. When he was very young we lived in South Carolina in the small town of Camden which holds the yearly Camden Cup. He took riding lessons when he was four and I have movies of him with that tiny body on top of an adult horse as it jumped. He looks like a little doll in a helmet and riding pants and now I squirm when I see it!  I loved having property and when we lived in Davie, Florida when my children were toddlers, we had a house that was surrounded by ranches with horses on all sides of us. We always had horses at our fence and fed them carrots – the neighbors gave us use of one of their horses to ride and one of our neighbors collected Amish buggies and would give everyone rides around our neighborhood on Sundays. So we have fond memories of horses.
Later we got home and watched the Preakness Stakes and cheered the filly winner. But I’ll tell you one thing, that little     may172009 229edit cow might be able to give Rachel Alexandra a run for the money and my bet is on the cow!

http://offshoot2.wordpress.com for more pics

That was fun being among tanks of floating things. It constantly reminds one of how “grounded” humans really are.
The Tampa Aquarium was packed on Saturday and I got in free for being a mother,  that was a good deal! All around that place was glass with a vast world beyond it. Tanks and tanks of beautiful swimming life.  jellyresize Jelly fish, sharks, dragon fish, sea horses, alligators, otters and much more. Each floor is loaded with visual excitement.  I loved the large round tanks loaded with yellow trigger fish. Of course the salt water fish are so full of color and beauty and the freshwater seemed so dull in comparison.
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The shrimp were festive, the many sights prove to remind us there is much in this world to care about and try and preserve.  The world below sea level inspires one to think that we humans also started out in that gravity free, ‘floaty’, state moving about on an umbilical leash tethered inside the ‘womb tank’.  Then rudely enough, we are pushed out and dried off never to have that total aqua suspension again. Oh sure, we can swim and we can dive, but we visit the wet world as a foreigner. Nothing wrong with being a foreigner exploring new land, (or water or sky) — it sure gives us places to visit that normally we wouldn’t see, but then we must go home again.
An enormous aquarium like this gives us a view into the nooks and crannies of wet places many of us would not have an opportunity to experience.  We need places that educate us to what an extraordinary world we have.    My favorites were these big silver looking fish, 5909silverfish-1edit

they looked like they had been freshly plated, all shiny and sleek. Plus there were more than just fish, there were nesting birds up on the third level with the freshwater tanks and comedic turtles, both sea and fresh water.
Maybe the most interesting creature was the last one I saw as we were getting ready to leave,
the mermaid was wearing items I bet never touched anything but a dry cleaners…

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Ran around getting ready for art ventures today. Outside it has gone from feeling comfortable to feeling like the Sahara desert in a matter of 6 days, It was 96 degrees two days ago and today was 94. No rain in over a month and the lake continues to evaporate. My second meter is now rearing it’s ugly wooden head.  Everyday I am filling the bird bath only to have the thirsty sun drain it by nightfall!  There was not much wildlife around here today, it’s like the heat had made all the birds and critters stay somewhere else in the shade.  I did see one vulture standing around by the side of the road looking perplexed.  vulture51109-1_editedEverything around looks parched and confused as we all breathe in the smokey, hazy air hanging over us from all the wildfires burning around the state.  Even tonight before I was going to fish, I saw a funny sight.. 51109church&raccoon_editedChurch and a raccoon stood a couple feet apart and Church was giving it the “Pet Cemetery” stare down. The raccoon left. It has to be the weather. We are left once again ‘rainless’ with burnt lawns. You can tell the people around here who violate the ‘watering restrictions’, they are the ones with the green lawns, while the rest of us who adhere to the restrictions have no grass.
Tampa was much the same as Orlando. They have not had rain on over a month either.  The pond behind my son’s townhouse was a couple feet down since the last I had been there.
When I was visiting, we stopped at the Tampa Hard Rock Cafe.  The place was packed last Saturday and everyone around looked to be about my age. So you ask, what was everyone doing? Was it a concert? A speaker? Lecture? No! It was gambling! All the baby boomers and seniors are sitting around gambling away their social security. What can they lose when they hardly have anything in their stock portfolios? I was amazed at all the people sitting at the slot machines putting in quarters and dollar bills one right after the other losing losing losing.  DSC06873

Aaron and I walked around looking at the walls covered in rock icon photos, paintings and rock guitars. The place was room after room of slot machines, black jack, poker tables, expensive poker tables, and more and more. People were smoking and concentrating.  The smoke inside was as bad as it was outside!  And it is quite dark and cold. hardrockedit-1 But the beauty was the guitars and artwork all over the walls. DSC06860edit DSC06878edit DSC06863edit DSC06876edit
We had a nice stroll around, looking at the indian themed gift shop with faux coon skin caps, and real alligator stuffed heads with their mouths gapping.
We didn’t stay too long, didn’t even try a slot machine. I have never been to Vegas so I suppose it is more of the same only on a much grander scale out west.  In Orlando at the Hard Rock they have music venues all the time.  I can see the Tampa Hard Rock doesn’t need the music except for the “ca-ching” that the coins make hitting the slots and the noise of the screen as it tumbles with different fruit that does not seem to match up often.
Later we went home and watched big time wrestling,  bella&sashaA-1edit bella&sashaB1edit

And went through fishing gear while  Aaron cooked us lobster tails for dinner. I was still perplexed that all those people my age and older would sit for hours upon hours and throw away money into those machines. “All the lonely people, where do they all come from…” Paul McCartney was way ahead of his time. It seems all the lonely people come from the casinos, (then go home and return the next day to try and win their money back again.)  Not me, give me the camera and a branch with a bird, a cool sunset, or a lizard, and the wonders of things to take a photo of and one can never be lonely, I guess everyone has their own cure….

On my second official nature walk where I am supposed to be exercising, I find myself walking on parts of Mayfair golf course which is full of mature live oaks.  mayfairgca-1_edited and sometimes

the hawks and other birds are within a good photo range. What I really want to see are more of what everyone says are fox squirrels.  Well what I thought they were fox squirrels, but according to wikipedia and other sources, fox squirrels are pretty common  gray squirrel looking squirrels.  foxsquirrel So now I had to go pull up squirrel mugs and see what I was really looking for.  The squirrels at the golf course are unique – the first time I saw them I thought they were either prarie dogs or ferrets jetting across the greens. They are larger than normal squirrels, and they have very interesting faces. When I finally got my first photo of one, it had a mushroom stem in it’s mouth and looked like it was smoking.  foxsquirreld-1Today I found two that were quite a distance and I tried to make my way over close to where they were and not get whacked in the head by some golfer, (I heard that more sandhill cranes down here are killed by golf balls than anything else. )  42809foxquirrelsstanding The fox squirrels just might be called Sherman’s fox squirrels, which technically makes them still fox squirrels. I will research further. They certainly were not wanting their faces photographed, one took off and one started climbing a pole that was not too close, so I did the best I could in capturing it’s image.  42809shermansfoxsquirrela-1resix It says they can get up to 27″ long and I believe it, they are big. The funny part is, I only live about a half mile away and they don’t seem to cross the road. They seem to like it on only one side of Country Club blvd. It would be so cool to see these animals in my yard. But then again, if I had all my wishes for wildlife in my yard, there would be a mini Africa around here and probably no room for me.

This morning began with a walk, if you call it that when one takes their camera. I decided I need to try and get some ‘legit’ exercise, (yawn). I used to walk at a good clip, but kept getting heal spurs and then of course, you don’t walk. But I thought today might be the day to start again so I put on the shoes and stopped about 200 feet away to take a photo of a tree hugging another tree 100_1113resizetree.  I stopped a few more times to take photos of wonderfully bucolic scenes.

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I saw a hawk preening, squirrels everywhere, and heard plenty of birds. It is good to go out and really look around as you walk taking in all the sights. (I am not sure if it is effective exercise, but it’s good for the heart and peace of mind).
The trees around here are old and stately. I saw a staghorn fern growing on an oak, it was gorgeous, but my friend Dee has a wonderful huge staghorn fern she artistically hung in her own back yard that is quite beautifully displayed.  42609staghornfernb-1resizefernontree_editedresize
After coming home and finding that my Adobe photoshop was not working, I was in a panic. It really put me in a bad mood. Then the band of brother ducks were here mooching
at the stump so I chased them and came to a quick stop when I saw a really long yellow rat snake.  It was a mean one too, you could tell by his expression. I felt like I was trespassing on my own property, I got as close as I dared as he was in full striking position. I will have more pics on  http://offshoot2.wordpress.com (later) .
The baby heron also visited twice. He shows off his flight techniques which are improving. The baby comes to the area where I fish at least twice a day now. He still has the baby coloring, but is larger than his father! What is in the water in this lake?
Also today the newer cranes came to eat seed off the stump, they were wandering around the yard when out of the blue, the old rusty couple came to claim their stake. They left the baby at home I suppose. I have not seen the baby in a while. After they chased the young couple away, they flew off.  dsc02944heronresize
My son and I finally got the Photoshop working so later I will add some pics to Offshoot.
The wind has been tough for 4 days now, it blows like a ‘noreaster’ at times off the lake, no fishing and the Mama
heron hasn’t bothered to come and see if I was going to fish or not lately. I tried tonight, but I threw the line out and it comes wobbling right back in a matter of seconds.
The point of the blog today is get your mind working as you walk, take in the surroundings like a dirty voyeur, take pleasure in hugging trees, bad ducks, mean snakes, birds that fly over head and squirrels on the ground. You are not alone out there, so turn off that ipod and listen to the birds sing, the wind blow and even the snakes hiss, their music is a reminder to yourself that sometimes you must slow down and hear what others are saying – it’s the universal language of love and renewal.
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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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The baby crane was left alone today, but only for a few minutes. The folks had come to the stump to eat some seed.
dsc02483cranefamily-1resize the baby found some crevices that it could stick it’s head into and find seed for itself. They are now coming very regularly as before. I so love when I see them coming.
And as the heron and I fished, the papa crane came and ran toward the heron charging at her and sending the heron flying off for a while.  The male crane also threatened Ringo the cat too, but Ringo knows better and gets out of the way.
The crane parents must have had some nostalgia to visit their old nest in the little marsh just off my property. The water was lower last year, low enough that they hatched a baby there over a year ago.
The Papa crane flew over first and began looking  at his ‘old digs’, then the Mama followed him.    dsc02528-1parentsresize

The parents left the baby standing on the seawall crying out. It was so upset and ran back and forth shades of that sad heron baby, and this baby is way too small to be able to  jump off the steep seawall to the water below. It was distressing to watch. It’s big black eyes were frantic as it looked at me and its’ little high voice was peeping away a mile a minute.

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That seawall has seen it’s share of bird trauma, guess I might as well refer to it as the “wailing wall” instead. The folks finally flew back and the baby’s demeanor changed in an instant.  I was rather surprised that the parents would fly off and leave the baby crane so close to Ringo, but I kept an eye on the cat, and Ringo was preoccupied with his eye on the fishing pole. The fishing was great, lots of small fish and even a couple small bass. The heron, the Pekin ducks, the anhinga and even some osprey were keeping me distracted tonight.  The water was flat, no turtles and the air was a calm 80 degrees. It did look like clouds were coming in and the strong odor of smoke was thick about an hour later. Again like last year there are some wildfires close by  and the wind was blowing smoke in this direction.   As it got darker, the cranes went back to their nests, the Pekin twins went to sleep on shore possibly dsc02556resizedreaming that Carbs would come back and be with them again. Meanwhile the female heron waited for me to leave the water first, she’s polite that way.  When I walk back to the house clutching my camera bag, tackle box and 2 rods, the heron will follow me sometimes, she seems to be upset when I am going inside, but then she turns around and flies back to her nest where those two big heron brats are. Tomorrow I will address the heron and their overgrown babies who refuse to leave home. Certainly in these times, the kids ARE coming back home to live with the folks, but these big big baby herons seem to know a good thing when they see it and don’t seem to have ambitions to take off. Again, these birds are all very smart and calculating.
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I think we might get rain tomorrow, I sure hope so, the lake is way down again, the little water gauge is still covered by the water, but should be visible in a week or so if no water comes. My lawn is still mostly
dead weeds, but that’s fine, I don’t have to water dead weeds. As long as the lake is there, the wildlife will be abundant. One problem is that our county just a permit to pump 5.5million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns River. it sounds like a quick fix that might in the long run ruin the upper part of the river and bring more sea water intrusion down the road and not only that, but it sounds like the next thing you know, other Florida counties will demand their share of the water. Our fresh water is a a precious commodity and our commissioners are very easily swayed like many politicians, by things that benefit them and their pockets. The suits should hold it up for a while I assume. It is great we have strong environmentalists who go out and protect our resources. People should be made to pay a higher amount for water, especially the golf courses and big estates who have way too much grass that demands too much water usuage! At some point during the decades to come, one wonders what will happen to our water supply. We take for granted we have water at our disposal. One day there might be serious rationing, thats the way things work, they never have the foresight to figure things to conserver, only when it gets critical!
There are ways to have gorgeous landscaping without so much grass. Too bad in Florida we do not strive for making that mandatory now, that subdivisions and their developers should be required to put in responsible landscaping that does not require constant watering. Also instant hot water in every house so people don’t have to waste a gallon before it is warm!  There must be ways we can do much more to conserve!

Article below just in case you would like to read:

Seminole gets OK to pump from St. Johns

PALATKA – Seminole County is ready to forge ahead with construction of a $90 million plant that will siphon 5.5 million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns River, having won the last permit needed Monday night.
The governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District approved the controversial plant on a 5-4 vote over strong opposition from Jacksonville-area residents concerned that the withdrawal of water will harm the quality and quantity of water downstream. Hundreds of people packed a meeting in Palatka to oppose the project, and thousands more sent e-mails in opposition.  The Yankee Lake facility, to be built near Sanford, could be expanded to pump 50 million gallons of river water a day, potentially making it a major water source for Central Florida.
Joe Forte, Seminole’s deputy county manager, said several cities in Volusia and Seminole counties could take part in a future expansion. For now, the county will focus on getting the plant up and running. As early as Wednesday, the county will begin preparing the project for construction bids. Seminole’s plans for pumping from St. John’s:

“This is the big move, the big step,” Forte said of Monday’s approval. “And this now gives our partners more hope the project will be a reality and we can move forward.” Decision seen as difficult Susan Hughes, chairman of the St. Johns district board, said it was the most difficult decision she has had to make as a member of the nine-member board but said this won’t make it easier for other river projects to follow.  “I don’t think it’s a free-for-all or the river is open game. That is clearly not what the board said,” Hughes said. “Every project will have to be reviewed on its own merits.”
Water managers have long warned that the underground river known as the Floridan Aquifer cannot be the sole source of drinking water as Florida grows and that utilities must tap into other water supplies. Florida’s largest river, the slow, north-flowing St. Johns, is considered a key future source for Central Florida.
Seminole County now pumps 21.7 million gallons of water a day from the aquifer for 109,000 customers. The county requested a 20-year permit that includes the additional water to be pumped from the river, starting in 2013.

However, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, a nonprofit grass-roots organization, several environmental groups and Jacksonville and St. Johns County led a legal challenge to the water plant.  Reviewing the evidence and testimony from a long, trial-like hearing, an administrative-law judge earlier this year supported Seminole’s bid for the plant, finding that the county had given “reasonable assurances” that the quality of the river would not be harmed by the withdrawal.  At the point where Seminole County pipes into the river, the St. Johns flows at an average rate of 2 billion gallons a day.  Attorneys for Seminole County told district officials Monday that the board doesn’t have much leeway to veer from the administrative judge’s findings. Hundreds showed to oppose plan.  Still, hundreds of people packed Monday’s meeting, urging the board to reject the permit. Many opponents drove from Jacksonville and northeast Florida, complaining that if Seminole County can take water away, it will harm them downstream by reducing the river’s flow. Several people pointed out that the lower river flow allows more seawater to push through the mouth of the river at Jacksonville, harming the ecology of the river.
“The public interest of a large portion of this state is being trampled in order to provide water that is the easiest and cheapest for a small part of one county,” said Katherine Van Zant, whose husband, Charles Van Zant, is a Republican state legislator representing Palatka.  Many of the 100 people speaking out against the project also said approval of the plant will make it easier for future projects to tap into the river. However, the current permit would allow the withdrawal of only 5.5 million gallons a day.  The water district received thousands of e-mails, the vast majority of them in opposition. Because the project is tied up in litigation, district officials blocked the e-mails from voting board members but did announce during the meeting that more than 19,000 e-mails had been received.
Opponents may push the issue back into court with an appeal, said St. Johns Riverkeeper leader Neil Armingeon. His organization will be discussing legal options with its attorneys. “We have pledged to protect the river. We take our mission seriously,” he said.

Of course I feel quite honored as the folks brought the baby by, hard to believe it is almost a month old. I don’t have to add much, will just show the photos:  But look to my nature photography blog to have many more today, link below

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For a much more in depth look, come to my photo blog:
http://offshoot2.wordpress.com

The storm left us with an extra inch of water in the lake, a beautiful blue skyand temperatures in the upper 70’s.  So what does one do? Go fishing of course. By 6:00pm my heron waits to escort me down to the lake. We caught a few bream, but the turtles kept getting in the way as I cast. They follow the bread and it becomes such a pain avoiding them. But tonight none got hooked.
While I fished, who should come swimming up but Carbs!  I thought at first it was Elvis, but it was Carbs.  41509carbs-1resize

He saw the Pekin twins and all was exciting, the Pekins were so happyand it looked like they had all missed each other. I looked around the lake and the Band of Brothers were nowhere in sight. I gave up fishing and took a few pictures and left Carbs grooming and chatting it up with the Pekin twins. I came inside to blog about having him back. Then I heard a commotion and I see Carbs near the stump completely pinned down on the ground by one of the band of brothers, with the other two taking cheap shots by biting poor Carbs on the neck. I rushed over and chased the BOBs into the water and that gave Carbs time to run the other way. I got good exercise chasing the BOBs to the left and right off the property as they kept trying to come back up. Carbs was bee-lining through the neighbors yard and avoided further confrontation.

Once again Carbs is bullied off by the mallard/mix.  41509carbsreturns-1 Poor thing, he just wants to come back here and be my duck and the BOBs keep ruining it.  What is so amazing is how the BOBs respect Elvis. It makes no sense?  Why do they hate Carbs and dominate him?
duckselvisresizeElvis walks around the mallard/BOBs and the brothers do not make one aggressive move toward him.  They seem to know not to mess with ‘The King”. It sure is a strange society these ducks have. (Elvis in photo with BOBs – the other photos are of Carbs)

So for now Carbs at least escaped more harassing by the BOBs, I wish the BOBs would fly away and find another lake.  Anyone want three mallard mix ducks? I will gladly ship them to China if anyone there is hungry – though I bet their meat is tough!

Bye sweet Carbs, for now.  carbsy-1

Waiting to get pounded – under tornado warnings. All around us are straight line winds and maybe some hail. Outside it is as dark as night almost.   resize41409meter

We are now getting pounded, lots of rain and wind battering down. No thunder, no lightning. The aluminum roof over the porch is singing with the rain. The heron was here earlier as I had mowed and I’m sure she thought I was going to fish also. She sat in a tree for a half hour grooming.

41409heronb-1resize The woodpecker too is snug in his tree hole. earlier he was watching the sky. I fully expect to lose electricity anytime before I am through. I am hoping there is no tornado coming out of this, but maybe I should unpack the linen closet just in case, it’s our only safe room here that has no window or sky light.
Now the lightning has started. Ripples of competing thunder trailing close. The television news blaring reports.  Sounding like the war of the Gods out there! Lots of thunder in all directions, but rain has slacked off a bit.   Feel really bad for anyone in a car stuck in the middle of one of the cells they show on television. Funnel clouds have been sighted west of here. Will publish for now and hope to be back a little later, cause I’m not going anywhere unless I am blown away, literally…
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P/S — It’s almost 11:am, the storm seems to be fizzling out, but can feel a slight coolness to the air. The bulk of storms are now headed east. Still have storms around us, but weather nothing like what is headed toward the east coast! The rain is falling at a  perfect rate for absorption and boy do we need it. Will do a comparison meter at very end of blog tonight!
I should take a cue from the cats and go take a nap, they are not the least concerned, and are still on the porch, don’t seem to care about coming in. Sometimes I think the wisdom of cats is a better predictor than the weatherman.
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And of course, the damn Band of brothers is skirt chasing the Pekins at the lake.

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The female Pekin ducks have been hanging around
the males too long. Now they are emulating the same
behavior. This morning after the male mafia had been
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they all consorted with Elvis and followed the Pekin twins around, (no eggs so far this morning).
And after the males left, the girls were swimming and one  jumped on top of the other and
waterboarded her repeatedly for about a minute and then both came on shore and were BFF,
(best friends forever). This domination ‘game’ is crossing genders and I guess the females are
prone to acting out for showing who is boss of who just as the males do. I don’t know if Lily was
the boss or Daisy, but they have been corrupted by those mean mallard-mixes who use waterboarding
as normal domination we are discovering.
The baby heron was out this morning sitting on the trunk of my dead tree, I tried fishing a bit,
but he wandered off.
The day looks gloomy, supposed to make it to 90 degrees possibly. The humidity is already making my hair
frizz like the bride of Frankenstein, next thing I know there will be birds nesting in my hair as I fish!

Gotta go get ready to start the day….. Here’s a happy photo, a bee doing the right thing… not stinging me!
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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….

Okay, I think I told you I found two duck eggs the other day near the bank of the lake. One was already broken into, but the other was okay so I brought it in and padded it with a paper towel and put it on the porch. I found out that it can be “candled” on the third day and you will be able to see a beating heart or if it is clear, then it is not fertile. Tomorrow night I will let you know the results. And if it is fertile, then what? Do I raise a Pekin duck? Another duck? Am I quackers? I read that you are supposed to keep the egg warm and place under a ‘broody’ hen or muscovy if one is convenient. But since it’s mother is one of the Pekin ducks and neither has any interest in this egg, I guess this psuedo nest will have to do with the fake chicken sitting on top.  eggchurch

Maybe I can trick one of the old cats around here to share the warmth, they are old and sleep a lot and probably would not notice a lump beneath them, well Church, the one on my computer printer might, he’s a poor sleeper. And you can’t trust Ringo, we all know that!
As for the cranes, they seem to only have one egg now. (maybe I could sneak this Peking duck egg somehow under the crane and she could raise it?)  I looked back at the archives and saw that last year the ‘colt’ , sandhill crane baby was born on March 23, 2008.  Wow, that’s almost a year to the date of when this one should be born, (the 25th I am thinking). Those birds are quite the mathematicians! Who says all these birds are birdbrained???

frankie-egg As for cats being ‘broody’ surrogates, I’ll let you know ‘eggs-actly’ how long it took Frankie to notice she had an egg attached. From the looks of her, she’s ‘egg-statically’ asleep….

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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!

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