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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 –

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

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…

71409abbeat2am-1res 2:37am, no rest here.
Earlier tonight I caught a softshell turtle and had to unhook it, they have quite interesting undersides,  100_2300_res but it looked more like some kind of weird alien than a turtle from that angle. The markings are quite unique really, could this be a girl and maybe the boys have blue rectangles? Don’t worry she or he was fine after they got de-hooked.  They scurried back to the water. I HATE catching turtles!
It was actually quite hot and stagnant and I was hoping to get a shot of the rocket launch, but they scrubbed it again.
In the morning I took a few flower pics, DSC06430res The crepe myrtles are gorgeous. And forgot what this plant is, but loved the red flowers on it also. DSC06421res

The moon was even still out at 8am: DSC06419res

The crow was in the tree singing a morning song
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And I had a nice lunch with friends. Came home and worked on more photos. Oh the days go so fast, summer half over – maybe El Nino will save us from the big storms this year! I don’t know, anymore around Florida all we hear about is people getting struck by lightning. I do have to watch more carefully when I am at the lake as the storms roll in,
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The clouds roll in so fast and the lightning is really getting way too familiar with humans. But the storms are actually so wonderful to listen to, especially to hear the rain on the roof at night.  But not tonight, it is just a quiet one, so quiet, I might have to sneak off and go to bed, good…morning again…

Today was a scheduled maintenance for pumping the septic. Last time I had it done 4 years ago it cost $185. Now, it’s at $230 and that was the cheapest company I could find.
$230? That means crap is worth about the same price as an ounce of gold when you consider it took less then 20 minutes to empty.
They come and look for your tank, and dig around it to open it. I have a ‘slider’ or sectional, it slides open. They didn’t open it as far as the last company.  pumpingseptic1res When they finished, they made me flush all the toilets and gave me the okay. So hopefully that is it for
the septic until another 4 years. I wish they were on public sewer around here. At one point they tried to get all the lake owners to get on public sewer and no one wanted to pay the cost of doing it. It really would have been so much healthier for the lake considering all the sludge is traveling toward the lake in the drainfields on these lakefront homes.
They finish pumping and then slide the section tight and cover it all back again with the dirt they had removed to get to it. It will be a big mud pile this afternoon when the rains come.
The heron came this morning, DSC06224res but quickly flew off when the septic truck pulled up. DSC06225res

The heat is horrible, supposed to feel once again over 100 degrees.
I can see the woodpecker is busy feeding a very noisy crew inside the one tree stump. Tomorrow I will do a more palatable subject…

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…

The heat is bad – “how bad is it?” it seems the lizards are melting – or wearing protection. liz-res
DSC08794res2 The flowers are wilting under the mighty swell of

DSC08786res sun. I went over to the Lake Mary Farmers market which is very shady.  Not many people this morning. This was to be a debut for the artists who wanted to rent a table and I found one artist willing to pay.
There will be a new grocer on the corner of Lake MAry blvd and where the town hall is. It is the same man who has vegetables and fruits in a booth on Saturdays. The name of his place is Morris Market and he opens this coming Friday.
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Yesterday I ventured up toward the zoo and stopped by the marina. Drove back toward the Palms, maybe 1000 feet 100_1972re and to the right of the driveway a few hundred feet to the right is the marina building.

100_1976mres The building looked pretty quiet and the little business building next to the Palms Resort had ‘ for rent’ signs. A sign of the time for sure. Ususally I see birds there, but nothing was there. I wanted to photograph crows and there wasn’t one in sight. I decided to go to the zoo.
waterfrontre The drive along Lake Monroe was quiet, even the water seemed too tired to wave, (that was a joke).
zoo-1 I turned into the zoo which is a few miles from the marina. Surely there would be some crows at the refreshment stand.
The zoo had a lot of small kids using the water park. The snake room was air conditioned and a refuge. They keep it colder so the reptiles will look perky.
snake1 But outside, the alligator was not anywhere to be found and the croc was hidden beneath his water hole. The cats looked like my Frankie, panting and hot. DSC08860leop After I made the rounds I stopped and got a pretzel and drink and sat down. I made small bits of the pretzel and tossed a few out and waited, nothing, no birds came at all. I stayed ten minutes enjoying the shade and drink, but not one bird took me up on my food offer. I walked back to my truck and came home. The birds are staying to themselves these days. The sun is singe-ing their feathers.
Back on Abbe’s lake things are quiet except for my moorhen, a couple of her eggs have hatched. Will save that story and pictures for tomorrows blog.
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53009carbs-1 CARBS! Carbs the duck was by the stump this morning looking for seed. What a surprise! It was good to see him, he ate then waddled away not even waiting for the Pekins who were not far away. Hope he will come more often. I will have to go by the marina to see if there are more muscovy ducks up there now.
I had another surprise last night — a moorhen has built a nest in the cattails and tall grass about twenty feet from the bank. She used bent cat tail leaves as the base or kind of platform  and built it up with nesting material. 53009moorhennest-1 52908moorhenonnest_edited-1

It holds two ‘hen-size’ eggs that I can see, though they say usually there are 5 or more. I only see two. It takes about 27 days to hatch so I will keep an eye out.
Outside it is HOT and it is only morning. When I was out at 6:45am it was already humid and hot and when the sun breeched the homes across the lake, WHEW! That stare down was no competition, I got out of the suns way!
Today I might get the boat my neighbor does not want anymore. I am so hoping I get it, my son and I have big weeding projects for our area of lakefront.  And that’s today so far, got a long way to go yet and temperature is supposed to hit 93!!! I will be in most of the day!  And here’s a face that popped up last night while I was fishing – the mooch turtle face with feather – oh, that’s a duck feather stuck to its’ chin. then there is always Ringo and how he deals with the heat… ringotakessnooze

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…

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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For some reason I was drawn to the marina yesterday to see what action was going on. I parked the truck and walked around by the boats. The gators were gone, but I saw weird patterns in the water
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then I saw this dsc03297resiz

and I knew I had found buried treasure! Manatees! 4 of them swirling around.  But, trying to catch their faces was another story.
These ‘baked potatoes’ of the sea would rarely put their whole face out of the water. I did manage a few and you can go to
http://offshoot2.wordpress.com or just type in offshoot2 in the search bar to take you there.
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I saw plenty of mallard type ducks – but not one muscovy.
I even asked a few city workers I saw if they had seen any muscovy ducks and they thought about it and said not recently.
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There were baby ducks, ibis, small herons and turtles, but no muscovy. Have not even seen Carbs or Elvis in about 5 days.
Haven’t seen baby crane either in over a week.

But seeing the manatees was a treat. There was one with a tatoo of A-5. Lots of scarring on the backs of those bodies.. I stayed over 2 hours watching them frolic from point A to point B and everywhere in between.  I wondered if it was mating season as there was a lot of manatee kissing going on, big wet ones… As Paris Hilton would say, “that’s hot”! (well it was about 87 in the shade)
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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.

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

41009gatorb-1_edited-1 This morning went to marina hoping to find those weird cat fish. There in the water was a huge gator just looking
placid. In no hurry, the gator basically sat still letting the waves wash against it.  I bet it was about 10 feet long, it seemed so long from a distance.  Glad to see how low the water level was as I would not want to see that gator near a shore line.

41009gatorinmarinaa-1_edited-1 This was the second gator swimming around. It also looked quite long just measure it in relation to the boat!
It must be gator mating season, or they know it is Easter weekend and they have a sweet tooth for marshmallow peeps?!
41009fishfaces_edited-1 The catfish or carp type fish were there with their snouts up and sucking the air. If anyone knows what they are, email. They are most interesting to watch as they come up and down. Sometimes there is a fin that will slash through the water. 41009gapingmouth-1

There were very few birds around at all, hardly any ducks, wonder if that is in relation to having gators raoming the waters? I did find one female mallard with her buddy and she kept  bobbing ‘bottoms up finding something of interest at the bottom.
Who knows what it was, but it must have been good. I suppose the best way to bring this to an end is to say
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check out more photos       http://offshoot2.wordpress.com

It actually rained! (A little bit.) There was water falling down and things getting wet!  The air smelled earthy and clean and smoky too from all the burning acres about 15 miles away. In fact, the smoke really blew in heavily for a while on Sunday. It’s  dry and so much timber available to burn and if no humans were around, some of this would be a natural cycle and the land would just be clearing itself out. But when people and their dwellings are in the way, it gets to be scary.
The day was very gray when I woke up, a nice surprise. The birds were all over and Carbs and the sandhill came by to eat seed. I checked the nest twice today and no baby sandhill crane yet, maybe tomorrow.
After running errands I went to the marina in Sanford and took some pics of the sky and the birds and boats. Nothing exciting and new, but it is always fun to look out over the water and to enjoy a dramatic sky.
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I saw a bunch of snouts breaking the water, some at the same time and looked through my lens and saw they were cat fish all standing vertically and bobbing to get whiffs of air into their lungs. The wide mouths open and receiving the breeze. There were a lot of them all together. I had never seen catfish doing this before. Earlier I asked one of the fishermen if he had caught anything and then we proceeded to have a nice conversation about the variety of fish he caught there. We talked of catfish and I told them when they were caught they complained a lot and wanted to be let go. The guy laughed and said he didn’t care about any complaints, he just wanted them for dinner. So later, even though that guy was still fishing on the other side of the pier as I looked up, I did not disclose this treasure trove of a meal just about fifty feet from him. (He had a bucket of enough fish he had caught for dinner.)
Another thing that is outstanding are the gorgeous colors on the mallard ducks. They have the must beautiful blue/purple on a spot of their wings. the pigeons are also quite beautifully colored with pinks and purple hues and the males are always on parade. dsc00269

the sky was beautifully moody, the Florida sky is like that, clear, then full of clouds that change from one minute to the next.  dsc00350How lucky to
be able to enjoy it!

Watching the people fishing, the birds flying and swimming, the catfish gulping air, the water chronicling the moods of the sky was a wonderful way to clear out the cobwebs in the old brain. It is always sad to see the many homeless who wander about with all their lives contained within their pockets and grocery carts. How spoiled I am to be able to take those same moments in which they are trying to find something to sustain themselves for the day, and take my photographs without worrying about finding food or having a home. Life is sure an odd lottery — so far the numbers have been right for me and I have been lucky. But luck can always change, or maybe I have just seen way too many blackbirds today…
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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.

31809ringocarbs

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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The otter was sooo close tonight! Under my fallen tree I heard a huge splash. I thought maybe it was a turtle, until I saw it’s face in the grass where the cranes had nested. I slowly put down my fishing rod, and got my camera, but the otter noticed and went under and I did not see it again until it was half way cross the lake. That’s his face surfacing from a good distance. I love watching them. They are so big and long. It’s more fun when there are two, they have quite a time playing.
Fishing was not the greatest, but look at this  3209gar-1_edited-1

This bad boy is a gar. The gars have a long mouth like a gator with long sharp teeth. This gar did not appreciate being caught and was like landing an enraged pit bull. I have no idea how it didn’t break the line. They are pure Hell to unhook, it is quite a manuver to keep the body still while a chomping mouth tries to take a good piece out of you.  This one was about 3 feet long and feisty. As soon as I unhooked it, it rolled right back into the water without any prodding.

The other thing tonight was the noisy baby heron. I tried to get as close as I could to take a picture, but that baby is way up high and he must have been hungry cause he was screaming his pterodactyl rampage in all directions for his folks. My small heron who had been with me must be its’ mother as she eventually got tired of all the screaming and flew up to calm her baby down. She didn’t stay too long as she knew I was near the lake. I stopped fishing to go try and get a photo of the screamer. I only saw one baby in the nest and it was a big one.  Look hard, the baby is standing to the side of the nest looking forward.
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The day was very cold, only in fifties, and when that sun left the shore, I could not stay out as it was way too cold for me in my 5 layers. But being out there for a while was fun. I encountered egrets, the heron, the ducks, a gar, the daddy crane, the baby heron and the antics of the otter. How can you have more fun in a matter of a couple hours…

With

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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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