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100_4582-1res Unless you are putting your car on the train, or picking it up, there’s really no need to go to the Sanford Amtrak Auto train Station.  But I wanted to see some trains and I have only passed by the train station two times in all the time I have lived in this area, (since 1985) and do love trains, so I figured, why not look up close.  The original station opened in 1971, and was taken over by Amtrak in 1983. This new terminal was dedicated in May of this year.  The colorized photos below are of the old abandoned station in the old location not too far from the new one.  I took several photos of it last April for a show called The Abandoned Florida exhibition at The Gateway this year. This is how the old Amtrak Station used to look.
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The new station is smaller and not much to look at, but first, I had to get someone to let me have permission take photos so they didn’t think I was doing something sinister. They have signs warning people that Amtrak is monitored 100_4587res and it is, the area is not large, they can easily monitor crazy, older ladies with a train fetish, or someone worse.
I started at the waiting area, 100_4580res a clean space under a tent.   So if you have to wait for your car, looks like you won’t have a problem finding a seat. At one time Sanford did take regular passengers, but they quit that a few years ago I guess to become the ‘auto-train” only station.  There is a gift shop too, and a very nice lady was busy with her work.
100_4581res I don’t know the arrival and departure times, but I did see one train come in with all the red flashing light, horn honking pagentry a train deserves upon arrival.
100_4577res 100_4591res I saw a funny sign  — was it for the passengers or the trains?  I guess trains are quite romantic when coupled, haha. 100_4578res

There were a lot of wonderful angles and lines in the shots. — Trains have such a wonderful feel and symmetry to them don’t they? To see more photos or ‘artsy’ trains, check out
http://offshoot2.wordpress.com
Later I stopped at Hobbyworld in Sanford and took photos of their wonderful train display that is very old and belongs to the owner, but by accident I deleted them. So tomorrow I shall have to pop over there and put them up tomorrow. It was quite an impressive display.
So Monday morning was fun feeling the largess of Amtrak trains and the tiny details of models. And thanks to the Amtrak people for letting me take pictures.  Now, I wish they would go all the way to Key West and I would hop on board!

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Amazing how fast the years go by – it’s already 8 years since 911. I watched the whole historical footage on the Today show with Katie Couric – it still evokes the same emotions, I got goose bumps and choked up watching that second plane hit. Published two old poems written years ago after 911, they are on http://abberantverse.wordpress.com
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It is also my late sister’s birthday, the whole family misses her dynamic personality, her warmth and love.  That’s me front in blue and her behind me in white, (and cousin to right). In the bottom shot, she is in the front, I’m behind. We were always close, she was the ultimate best friend and ‘confidente’!  So it is a day to remember I don’t have her here anymore and miss her bunches.
It was a good day to escape the confines of this ‘BOX’ I am enslaved to and go to the marina and enjoy the view.
I stopped by Veterans Memorial Park and saw someone had put red roses near the flagpole.
100_4468res It added color to the rather blue day.  I was the only one there. It was so very empty.  The wind driven water was really whipping up against the sea wall.
100_4478res As I drove up to the duck pond, I could see a number of birds standing in the shade of the trees. I pulled up and could tell right away, these birds are used to getting fed!   
I’m sure they were disappointed that I did not come armed with bread.
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I always enjoy seeing the different colors on the pigeons and cross breedings of the mallards.
Again, there was not one muscovy duck up there. Forgot to mention that Carbs has also been gone four days now. I assume he will show up again soon. The Band of Brothers has been coasting around the lake lately.
Back by The Palms, the birds and ducks were all quietly sitting in the shade. Did not see any crows, but did view a few grackles.  100_4438res 100_4446res
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I came home after watching the waves for about ten minutes.  It was very calming.
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I came away with a nice sense of peacefulness.
I stopped by my friend Sonja’s.  She told me that her chimney had been struck by lightning. I guess because trees cover part of her house when I fish, that I didn’t notice it. So I had to go take a few pictures.   100_4406res Her pergola too had wood missing from the porch where the chimney had collapsed on top of the beams. She has work to get done. It affected some of her electric too.  So I guess knowing that her house is just acres away, was struck by a bolt, I won’t sneak out during those random thunderstorms to film.
And back at home, what is the best remedy for the 911 blues? Brownies! Warm brownies packed with a cut up Snickers Bar! So long for today –

Today I walked out to feed the birds and Carbs was gone. I wondered if the BOBs had chased him away. The yard was busy, especially down by the lake where many many dragonflies and bees flew all over the yellow blooms down by the stump of my fallen oak. In fact so many bees were there pollinating, the air was humming.  DSC00669resbee
The fungi growing in the wet grass even looked happily like a cute couple. DSC00664res

The cranes flew over and the baby was quite intimidated by the step-father crane who kept bullying him. The baby would fluff all up and crouch with it’s head  down when it was near the male.  82709babycranefluff-4-1res It knows to try and stay away from that dominant beak.

A titmouse was continually banging itself against my window. DSC00680res I will go into that in a day or two. The butterflies were all over the place, DSC00692 copy 4 DSC00652res and the roses were young and tender.  DSC00687res
The brown thrasher was the bossy bird this morning. DSC00704res The bird was happily having fun splashing and cooling off.
82609thrasherinbathA-1res DSC00551res and then a dove decided it was it’s turn to get wet .  DSC00705res The thrasher was wildly twisting and jumping and I suppose the dove thought it looked like such fun, it decided to join the thrasher.  Except the thrasher wanted no part of sharing the bird bath and screamed at the dove and sent the dove flying off. The thrasher fly up on top of the feeder.
Finally it ate enough seed and flew off. DSC00504res
I ran out to my Free lunch at Don Pablos. I won the free lunch for 4 by putting my business card in a bowl about two weeks ago. 100_3688res I took my good artist friends who have been so helpful and nice to me, Pam, Judy and Leslie. The service was great and the conversation too. Judy, Pam, and Leslie are always inspiring to listen too, always have irons in the fire. Leslie is a published writer who should have another book out sometime soon. She writes about film, (movies) and does a very detailed and thorough job of research, she also writes poetry and reads it at local venues. Pam has been juried into many shows, I think she said 8 or 9 this year alone, her infrared photography is a standout. Judy has a super group, she started the Womens Caucus for Art branch here in Orlando and really took pains in getting it to a non profit status. So I am the slacker of the group, well, actually I have one piece, a photo I did of Jimmy Hendrix, to be put on display for a month as part of an interior design show downtown. Tomorrow I have to go pick up the work at RT Art. Just one email and Roger said he’d have it for me so I could get it framed this weekend, that’s service!  sales@RT-Art.com
On the 8th of September, I will have 3 pieces at the Gateway in Debary for a month. So things are not that bad for s struggling artist getting her feet wet just like that brown thrasher, enjoying the exposure, lost in her abandon of the arts and the wonderful natural view in front of her window…
P/S, carbs came back and is still here…

Had a great time in Tampa. Did see my nutria, DSC07535res,  81409nutriaB-1re also there was tilapia in the condo pond – how they got there — who knows — they are certainly not native.
81309carpA-1res Also on the condo pond were many female mallards with beautiful faces, and all had different markings. mallardres

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Other than some long distance birds that I get over here. the wildlife was quiet.  I didn’t go anywhere interesting to take pics this time. Just quiet family time. My Bella and Sasha were there to be my bed mates.
81309sashares Then it was back home to reality, two tropical storms about to turn into hurricanes with one as a fairly substantial one. Both could impact us.  tsana The first is tropical storm Ana due to possibly hit Florida between Miami and Port Canaveral so far. It will be a rain maker they say, winds around 70mph, that’s not too bad. The other one is worse, will be a Category 2 hurricane. That one is following behind the other one. So far it is TD #3. I went this am to stock up on food and water just in case.
100_3088res Will be watching closely. Don’t plan on leaving home, will be here to monitor and blog. I can’t imagine leaving my ‘box’ unless it is possibly Katrina big.  Meanwhile, it’s always good to be home. Today went to the flea market and got Orangeblossom-oak flavor honey, ummmm, delicious! I also bought a suet feeder and something is eating the whole block of suet in one gulp over night. I will have to remove it nightly. I do have a lot of cardinals and jays lately.  81409cardinalB-1 91409cardinalA-1
jayres One last thing, I was at a garage sale that had dept. store dummies, a few male torso and legs, if you need any, call Katy 407-690-2929
torso legs

72709babycraneA-1res Baby crane was here this morning with his family. They ate bird seed, groomed, wandered around yard poking the ground and then lined up and took off like paragliders sailing over the lake

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Yesterday it was storming off and on when they came. At around 11 am. it got really dark.  DSC06820res the sky blackened and let loose with a nice rain and lots of thunder. The cranes don’t like the noise, they were quite suspicious and kept looking around to see where the thunder was originating from.  It was raining hard for a while and I noticed even a softshell turtle came out of the lake and rested under my lemon tree.
DSC06832res The water was just dripping off the cranes.
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I enlarged to see the rain coming down. Even my waterbarrel was gushing from the excess.
Last week we had no real rain, it would cloud up and threaten and the lightning is getting to be way too lethal around here. A guy was gardening the other day and a bolt came from nowhere that hit near him and he said he passed out, and one of his legs didn’t work and he had to crawl back to his house and was hospitalized. That’s why I am paying more respect to the lightning gods lately as they get closer and seem to be picking out a lot of people to play their games with. I look at the sky and turn on local news before I fish to see what is moving where. But the sky is so amazing around Florida, that’s one of the assets is the constant movement of wind and clouds and rain. Sometimes it comes from the Atlantic, sometimes from the Gulf and when they collide – whammo, fireworks. Like I have said before, it will be sunshining in the front, and raining across the lake. Usually by the time it is almost dark, the sky makes peace and all is pink and quiet.
Today so far it is one of those voids where the sun is hiding, but the sky is gray/white! I need to go out and weed whack while the sun can’t fry me and the lightning is still asleep…
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72509desk1This is my desk at 12:51am – maybe I need a blog that shows my desk at different times during the day just for effect! It looks a little messy, but there is a method to my madness. And breakfast at Tiffany it’s not- but that box of POPS was a great deal at the grocery today, 21.4 ounces for $2.50!  Can’t get get perfume per ounce for anywhere near that, not even stuff like nuts, makeup, or even other cereal!  It’s the biggest box of cereal I have ever seen – how could I turn it down? Right now it’s keeping me and my stomach company. I can see how insomniacs gain weight, this box weighs 1 and 1/2 pounds, I should weigh 5 more at the end of the week. Ha ha – just kidding, I don’t intend to eat it all, Adam is about ten feet away and he has been dipping his hand in the box pretty good himself.
Right now I am looking at the huge tree frog on my window, it showed up about an hour ago. 72409frogC-1res I will have photos later at
http://offshoot2.wordpress.com
Yesterday it seemed like I got a few visitors pictures of things around here. First of all Ringo, because he starts my day with a smile. I see his big face and hear him meow and see him flash those big blues and that is a good sign. 72409ringo-1res Out on the porch was a busy anole running around chasing off the other lizards.  72409anole-1res Went out in the yard and there were a lot of butterflies on and off. Two were flirting for a long time.
72409queenbutterflies-2 There even seemed to be a few monarchs trying to find some milkweed.  72409monarchA-1res Behind the large hibiscus bush I have a tree stump that had a fresh snake skin across it, so a nude snake is somewhere around. DSC09823hibres DSC09822snakeres And later on, just about the time I was getting ready to fish, the clouds came in for a visit and they did not look happy. lastnightcloudsres Even Papa Crane was keeping a close eye on “weather” or not I would be down at the lake. And I wasn’t, we had a lot of lightening, but no rain.  I took many photos of the changing sky and will probably post them tomorrow. But for now, I am finishing this and getting ready to post tree frog pics at the other blogsite –
Sweet dreams – don’t let the tree frogs bite…

My son and I had gone to the model train exhibit at the Lake Mary Historic Museum and when I came home I was gearing up to fish. I opened the door on the porch and saw Ringo in one corner and heard a ‘bang’ of the aluminum being struck and thought Ringo had a bird cornered. Upon closer observation, I saw a cottonmouth striking at Ringo.  snake-1
I grabbed a hoe and had my son grab Ringo and I tried guiding the continually striking snake toward the porch door. He was a devil too. I finally got him headed out the door, but he might be hiding in the bushes next to the porch. Now I am rather paranoid to step out on the porch without giving a good look in all directions! If that snake comes back on the porch, he will be toast!  Ringo is way too bold, he’s like Ricky-tickki-tavi. But it just takes one poisonous bite to make him really sick or worse. Ringo is guarding the door.  DSC09609res Thank goodness Frankie was already inside. I worry more about her being bit than Ringo. She thinks she is as agile as Ringo and also as bold.
Meanwhile, the Historic museum in Lake Mary had a few tables set up with model trains. Old model trains. There were a few young children and their eyes were bright as they watched the trains round the tracks and whistle.
It is on display Saturday afternoon too. Here’s a few photos,
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They had old railroad lanterns,  DSC09594res and postcards. Some stamps and other memorabilia. So if you have a fetish for history and model trains,  there you go. The museum itself is a small yet interesting place of all history relating to the tiny city of Lake Mary.
When we left we noticed that in the tiny and I mean tiny downtown of Lake Mary which encompasses only a couple intersections with no traffic lights, there were 4 beauty salons, so apparently the people of Lake Mary like to stay looking good.  DSC09580res There is also an auto repair on that same side street as the Barber shop and there was a cool looking old truck /thing  sitting in front.  DSC09578res
The city hall and Events center are both beautiful new buildings, but downtown Lake Mary is still stuck in a time warp for now. There were also a few empty store fronts for rent   DSC09606res
on both sides of the street, a sign of the times for sure. None of these spaces looked like good places for an co-op art gallery, too small a space, not enough wall area on all places that are available. Traffic is also pretty non existent. The signs of hard times are all over. The biggest sign of a hard time will be the axe waiting for that snake if it thinks he’s coming back for a visit!

Looked out at a dark sky crawling in from the west, then went about getting desk cleared off while trying to get bills in order when I glanced out and saw some weird ‘birds’ flying up on cut off tree tops.  BBwd1res Ran out to take a few pictures and luckily they did not fly off as my camera lens immediately fogged up when going from air conditioning to the really humid heat.
DSC06111res Came in and Googled ‘Florida ducks’ and found them to be black bellied whistling ducks, I had never heard of them or seen them.  They were so cute with their long, baggy pink legs and soft gray colored heads.  They looked like book ends on my cut off pine tops.
Then they just flew off, they stayed long enough for their publicity shots, then turned toward the east, away from the storm and headed over the lake and were gone. Oh they made it look so easy to just decide to fly away and go visit another lake,  There was no traffic, (unless you are flying high enough to tangle with airplanes,)  and on a dull day like this, not many flying birds going places.
DSC06114res The wings moved like the mallards as wobbly propellers.
So even though it is dark and rainy, it is always another fun day bird watching while paying the bills in between noticing the ‘bills’. I did see those black bellies, but maybe next time they will stay long enough so I can hear them whistle…

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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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…

This is a peek at the start of the day — will add more later RAIN BEAUTIFUL RAIN –

51809waether_edited-1 518rainbarrel_edited-1I bet Beda is outside watching her rain barrel filled, mine is splashing out of the top – full to the brim, looks like night ouside right now at 10:26am, glad I have nowhere to go this morning…

The afternoon slid by and now on the evening is still just a blur of hazy gray with soft rain, enough to add about 2 inches to the lake today.  shadowplane-1 The birds were quite busy, mostly blackbirds that looked nasty.  51809wetcrow-1_edited The woodpecker and bluejays all jockeyed in for positions too. The birds always seem active during moderate rains.  And yes, crazy Abbe did go out and try to dodge the rain and fish. The turtles were out in full speed mode, and an anhinga sat in the tree. Last night I had 3 anhinga on the pine where I fish.
3anhinga-1_editedTonight, there was one who is very distinct in her coloration.  51709anhingaA-1_edited

I finally gave up the water fight and came in and the anhinga came down, sat a few minutes and then took off.anhingaedited

51809anhingaflies-1_edited It was a wet one today and if it continues as it is supposed to, maybe we will have a half a foot added to the lake and my lawn will even green up. I don’t see any negative downside to this, except trying to keep my camera dry when chasing wildlife in the rain…

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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