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City Hall at Lake Mary has always wrapped their trees and it is a wonderful look. Tonight I went up there and walked around. Kids with their parents were in awe and they really personified the holiday spirit.  I took a few pictures of course, here’s the Abbesworld view:

Happy Holidays from the Arenson/Eshack family!  From all our animals, (though my cats won’t stand still enough for a costumed photo.)

From Andrea’s cats, Musa, Lola, Coco

And from Sasha,  Happy Happy-Joy Joy!

Yesterday grabbed Adam and went to see Pirate Radio which had a nice vibe, good actors, great music, simple and fun, no thinking involved.  Then up to the Gateway for set up.
100_6777re Had baby clothes, T-shirts, cups, cards, all kinds of things to sell besides framed art.  A cute dog named Lucky was running around trying to help too. He was adorable.  100_6767re 100_6769-1re (don’t ask what setting I had on that last Lucky pic.)
We headed home and Adam took wonderful photo as we passed over the 17/92 bridge

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Diane Miller, head of the Photography club at Gateway who was in charge of getting everyone their placement and making things run smoothly, could not have been kinder or more accommodating.  There were potters, quilters, jewelry makers, fine artists, even an artists who painted on leather. The excitement was building.

This morning I was up at 6:15, at the Gateway by 7:30am. The weather could not have been more perfect for those having tables outdoors.  100_6835re They have a weekly farmers market each week. Outside they had very interesting booths.  A guy named Joe,  did woodcarving and had beautiful wooden mini houses.  100_6838re There was one man who made solar light holders.  100_6844re There was a quilter called Loving Stitches, a man selling things to benefit a border Collie Rescue, his dog Cali was a beaut!  100_6846re And very well behaved dog too.
Of course there were jewelry vendors,  and my good friend Judy Segall and her beau Rob came with the coolest assortment of Asian/African instruments of which Rob was giving  free demos making people smile.
http://www.judithsegall.com
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Inside was an impressive group of artists.  The inside quilter, Paula had gorgeous quilts, and hand dyed scarves and as is a weird 6 degrees of separation,
100_6828re she knows my cousin,  Sue, who quilts under the name of Grannie Suzannie   http://www.granniesuzannie.com/
There was a man who made wooden bowls,   100_6797re And gorgeous abstract art by Nestor Charneco.  100_6788re Next to me was Bob who had hundreds upon hundreds of wildlife photos taken from his many African trips.  100_6799re
100_6795re The giraffe by the lady opposite me was very clever – do not have her name.
Also saw an architect named Don E. Grannon who was new to art, but really had interesting work.  Linda Bishop had well thought out paintings, as did the watercolor artist from St. Augustine beside her.  No more names, I’m sure The Gateway site will have much better in depth photos. Ed Cogle was on the job taking photos, his wife Nan was selling jewelry and both are always smiling.  100_6831re
http://www.gatewaycenterforthearts.org/
The volunteers for the Gateway were so kind, they came to give us breaks by sitting at our booths so we could walk around, stretch out legs, eat some of the wonderful cooking, the tomato Bisque was so thick and full of flavor.  Diane had also organized a room where children could come and pick out donated items from the artists to buy very cheaply.  (My duck photo was rejected, is this the point you give up on trying to sell art when you can’t even give it away to kids????)
The drawback was the attendance was light!  There was no advertisement and this needs to be addressed for future events!  But I thank Sandra Wilson and Diane for their efforts and visions, and a million thanks to the ever ready volunteers!  Plus a big shout out to the bright lights that flash when you look in the room and see your neighbors and friends shining faces!  Thank you wonderful supporters for being there for me! I appreciate it more than you know! Sonja, Dee, Becky, Sandra, you all rock!
By 4pm, I was on the road home with all but two items. Swapped a lot of stories with many people about their sandhill crane sightings.  When I arrived home, I was ready to get everything out of the truck and put it away.  Adam came back from work after 5 and we decided to go grab some Outback food – the timing was perfect! We got right in and I heard about his great time at the midnight showing of Repo at the Enzian, he got home after 3am and was at work 5 hours later. I found out her had plans to return to the Enzian tonight featuring Jewish filmakers with the latest Coen brothers movie.  That kid is a walking movie fest!
I would say that as of tonight, I am not feeling like doing these venues anymore, they are actually depressing.  The one plus is certainly meeting new artists and people. I will try making an Etsy site when I get back from Tampa and see where that goes. At this point, the economy is not lending itself to art for sure. Most of the artists I talked with had sold next to nothing. The ones selling art were the jewelry makers.  One tries to look around and see what sells, how other booths are set up, but this hauling of stuff is really not something I am enjoying. Now it’s time to work on internet sales I suppose and if that goes nowhere, then what the Hell, I give away all this crap and only take photos for blogs, I mean what’s the difference? I am doing that now and it makes me happy, the money would just add a bit more happiness if ya know where I’m comin’ from!

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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dsc00016Woke up this morning and went out to feed critters and no Carbs. I didn’t see him anywhere around the lake. The girls came swimming up about fifteen minutes later, they did not see their man-duck and swam off. Yesterday Elvis had come to visit.
31809ducks-11 He and Carbs and the girls all yakked it up on the bank and then Elvis flew off and the girls left.

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

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

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

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First of all the clocks ‘sprung’ ahead last night, but I got up at normal time. Bella and Ringo the cat and I went out the back door, (actually Bella is about 3 feet behind Ringo being that Ringo is about twelve pounds heavier than Bella and sometimes looks at Bella as a nuisance animal and pounces.) The first thing I saw was the otter swim by so I turned and ran in for the camera and the otter was long gone. Missed that shot. But did see Elvis the duck was here visiting his buddy Carbs. They posed for me.

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My philosophical and wise neighbor Dee always says if you get one muscovy, a lot more will follow. I am hoping Carbs is keeping a low profile and only entertains once in a while. The worst thing is the duck dung, it is all over the bank and where I fish, I can no longer wear my shoes in the house after fishing, they have to be hosed off! Gross!                                             100_0065

The ducks were all at the lake and when we walked down there, I saw one duck egg on the bank. I walked over to go get it and a big black bird swooped it up in it’s mouth and took off! I am going to get out earlier to see if I can find duck eggs. I often see cracked ones so I assume Daisy and Lily the Pekin, Aflac ducks are on a roll, (ha ha ‘cheep’ humor.) I am going to try and hatch one if I find one whole. It just amazed me that crow could carry it off. I wish I had had time for that photo.

The mocking bird was singing away on the chimney as usual. His song fills the fireplace and living room with bird music in the early morning.  He is the reason I am not using the fireplace, too much nesting material up there!100_0072

The mama crane came over and gets more rusty looking all the time  – I looked in on her yesterday and she was sitting on nest so did not see if both eggs were present.100_0079And thats it for the morning at least. I missed two good photo opportunities. One day I will get that otter photo! Maybe it will show up tonight when I am fishing. Well, looks like a gorgeous Florida day with 80+ degree temp, I can dig it! The water level is dropping low, can’t see my small meter yet, but it will show soon if we don’t get any rain, it’s too dry.

One more close up of Elvis the muscovy to go- do you believe in reincarnation? This duck wiggles like Elvis too! Later…
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3609lilblueherona-1Had a little blue heron spend most of the afternoon around the lake. It sprinted from pad to pad and would stop to bend and catch some minnows and then be back on the run.

3609pekinduck-2_edited-1Pekin ducks came to call

3609heronintree-1 of course the heron was there as were both mama and papa cranes each taking their turn on the nest.

3609woodpeckerb-1The woodpecker too. No otter sighting and the
fishing was horrid, caught one fat catfish and he
complained the whole time till I freed it.
I have not check up on the cranes, but will do so tomorrow. I am once again babysitting for Bella the Chihuahua. She will keep me busy as her bladder seems to be a magnet to the carpet! But no worries, I won’t take pictures of the puddles…

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This morning I took camera and even telephoto lens and saw only one egg. I will check later on
and let you know if the other egg was just hidden…. These are todays look so far….

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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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For every day I wake to these wonderful images, I find it hard to read the top stories in the news. In my small ‘kingdom’ on Lake Deforrest where the sun shines and nature is plentiful, (even if the money isn’t), there is still peace and freedom and plenty of nature to enjoy.
This morning I came across the story about the Taliban in Pakistan bombing over 200 schools since before July. They are fighting to eliminate educated minds so children will not know there is freedom of thought and “critical thinking” .  dsc05172 The Taliban seems to be targeting girls so the females can stay ignorant and keep breeding more uneducated masses that think the same depressed way the Taliban do. The terrorists have suspended school  for anyone above the age of 7, (seven). If there  is an attempt to broaden the mind, then this is how the school ends up… dsc05173

How do we reach them? How do we not let children under the Taliban stagnate and waste their formative years being told that education is just a western waste of time and sinful? How do you stop the Taliban from telling girls to stay home or risked being lashed or killed publicly? The Pakistani army seems unwilling to go against the Taliban. How is it we can reach the minds so needing to be shaped into peaceful and informed citizens? It is so hard to know the world is in so much turmoil. Watching violence and radical religion used as a harness.
The reality that surrounds these children is one of suppression and despair. One of learning a way of life that only perpetuates hate and violence.  One more generation that we will have to fight and why? But with our own resources badly exploited, and even as our presence inspires more hatred in some parts, how many wars can we wage on how many fronts? There is a need for  a world police that sets a standard for education and at least enforces it, something way more engaging than the soft United Nations.  We should set a world standard where teachers from around the world are pooled and paid well to do a years work somewhere around the globe under safety and protection. Encouraging children and teaching them religious tolerance, basic math, reading, language and computer skills so there is a chance for the next generation to rise above the domination of despair. In America we finally rose above slavery, an embarrassing time of kidnapping and tearing families apart while keeping the slaves uneducated to be at the disposal of the plantation and farm owners. Somehow there must be pockets of resistance created where children under the Taliban and other dominant ‘juntas’ can learn how to rise above this era of being held as chattel and pawns.
I long to read the headlines where things are right with the world, to not hear of all the repercussions of a village full of people being bombed, or hear of the thousands being brutally maimed and murdered because of government militias vying to hold all the power because of  big egos.
I guess that is far too much to ask. How naive to wish that children should go to bed at night secure enough to dream the dreams of the innocent. To be able to wake up and even be to complain about school is such a luxury we take for granted. I want for us all to live in peace, to live in harmony, to live the life that happily exists in Abbe’s world, is that too much to ask?

100_3969100_3975100_3987100_3978 The day started out completely fogged over. You could hardly see the lake — the anhinga was shrouded in the mist too. Then the sun came up and burned it all off. It was 81 for a winter Florida day — not bad at all! When it came time for fishing my heron was waiting. Then it became a battle of dominance by the sandhill cranes who kept chasing the heron off. Finally the crane family left and the heron has his visitor come down and they eyed each other with all their head feathers up, and then the visitor left.
The fishing was not too bad, caught 5 fish, but no bass. The heron stayed with me as usual till it got dark and the mosquitos came out to ‘vampire’ me. What a terrific way to end the day with so much fun watching bird wars. Thank goodness they are only bird brains can cannot bomb each other because of their differences. We humans have too many brains, not enough time for pleasure and too much stress. Not me, I like my life the way it is, fishing daily is the best way to drown any worries!

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We needed the air conditioners on today – it was into 80’s and very humid. Thought we might get massive rain, but only a short shower and it seemed like Sunday all day for some reason. But the scenery was wonderful and all our birds were around us. Though I left to go to a dinner at a friends and wonder if the heron was waiting for me at his usual time of 4pm. He is usually walking up to my house from the lake by then so he can escort me back to the lake.
The family and I had a terrific day except my youngest who works in a grocery and says they were slammed all day and came home too exhausted to even care about opening his gifts and went right to sleep!

I was outside at 11pm and noticed how bright and broad Venus is – it sure looks like a huge bright star and I guess many mistake it for the northern star. I have not used my telescope in a while, it’s actually broken and the mirror is always falling off. One day I will get a good one as it there is nothing like seeing Jupiter and Saturn and knowing how far away they really are. It is really “spacey” pardon the pun!   And of course we must include visiting Bella the chihuahua, she’s all smiles in her festive gold bow. She’s all smiles when she has all our attention, but she is not all smiles when she comes across the cats, she is smaller than they are, but thinks she is the boss over them! The cats accomodate her noisy tirades by tormenting her as they sit looking outside the sliding glass door where they can stare in and Bella can keep banging her head repeatedly into the glass trying to get them as they smuggly look on, cats are sadistic like that.

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122108heronnestinga-1_edited-1100_3715100_3719 The herons are finally nesting. My heron came down to my shoreline this morning and had a mouth full of branch. It stayed long enough for me to take a picture and then took off. I watched it soar up up into the familiar tree and stand with the branch until it disappeared into the thick tangle of branches. I love it when they nest, I was hoping maybe they would opt for my pine, but it is just too barren.  Oh well, it does not matter as long as they keep building a colony of family. Since I have lived here there have been at least a dozen baby heron. It’s really fun when the folks are teaching them to fly. But that is about three months after they are born. So looks like we will have new years babies in about 27 days!  Look forward to keeping your eye tuned to the sky!
P/S – I have since learned that my heron that comes down while I fish is NOT one of the nesting herons!

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Ringo the cat is known around the neighborhood as “psycho kitty”. His moniker comes from him doing crazy things, like acting as if he really likes that you are petting him and then suddenly he turns on you and claws and bites. I have seen him jump on the back of a German shepherd being walked down the street. Ringo appeared from nowhere and jumped on the rear end of the dog and then jumped off before that dog could react, but Ringo kept harassing the owner and the dog by following them up the street and threatening to do it again.
Ringo loves to kill birds, kill snakes, and maybe he thinks he can take on the cranes. Well, tonight as we were down at the lake doing our nightly fishing, the heron was there and so were the cranes. The cranes chased the heron off and suddenly set their sights upon Ringo who was watching my bobber while sitting on the concrete blocks. next thing I know Ringo looks like he will be blinded by 3 eager sandhill cranes. Ringo is flat, ears pressed tight against head and he is ready to be the Kung Fu master who kicks crane butt and fights to the finish like Bruce Lee.
I have seen Ringo fight and it is not pretty, though he does not fight with his adopted brother and sister cats in my household, (remember the neighbors left him with me when they moved north, but each day he goes  next door to perfect his ‘whoop ass’  on the neighbor’s cats!  Tonight the cranes got in Ringo’s face and I had to do a fast intervention and stand between the two warring factions and chase the cranes off. I was afraid Ringo might have a couple loose eyes had I not moved in between them.
By the way I never saw that German Shepard being walked up this road again…
Some around here would say Ringo deserves it, (especially my neighbors who own cats that Ringo beats up on,) but it’s just like being the mom of the kid that everyone can’t stand and yet the mother ignores it and can’t admit that her child is a monster. And that is how it is with Ringo, now that he is ‘my son’, I don’t see anything but those beautiful, loving blue eyes.  My Ringo?  He is an angel, well, maybe the arch angel of the underground….ringofishing120808-2

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Today it is gray and this morning the heron appeared down by the lake, so I thought I would toss out the old line early to see if I could catch it some breakfast. Well, as soon as I walked down near the lake that heron flew off and my regular heron flew up. The other heron was the biggest one, he remained on the shore in the yard to my right, and suddenly another heron came and landed in the neighbors on the left. The heron in my yard promptly chased that one off. I didn’t catch anything, but I laughed at the game of musical herons, one would land, one would chase it off. I see there is a three heron hierarchy within this group. I thought my heron was the smallest, but the one it chased off was smaller. At least i got some nice pics, they will be on http://printzandart.blogspot.com later today, after I go get some lunch, all that chasing made me hungry…

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Last night as I fished with the heron and Ringo, an amazing dramatic sight grew out of the east, out of the horizon came this huge gold ball emerging from the trees going up and up like an ascending balloon. All I could do is put my rod down and watch as the swollen satellite emerged above the lake with it’s twin below it. It was just amazing and also cold. Our weather since that rain front (that never turned into the squall) brought us low 40’s again last night.
The moon framed in green palm leaves was taken before 7am and the moon was still big and gloating, and ready to rival the sunrise, though the sun has not challenged it quite yet.
The other night, Thursday before the cold front, the moon was full and I went out at about 2am, the sky was so bright and the clouds were moving very very fast and as I looked up, it felt like I was moving with it, being swept away, like when you are on a fast boat and watching the sky above , the puffy white clouds were busy racing. It almost was enough to make me dizzy… or maybe that was just being moonstruck

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Weather radio cocked and ready, so where is the big squally storm? The other day we were on alert too and nothing came, a few drops. We need rain badly and there is a very nice soft rain falling now, so only hope that will last for a few hours. My lawn is parched, many dry spots.

The birds are out there, I hear them, but the only thing visible are the cranes. They always make my day happy. The photos are the baby, he will be gone soon. He has learned well from his parents, he is very alert, a great groomer and digs furiously in the dirt for bugs and worms. I will miss this baby, but know he is well able to defend and care for himself.  Too bad he can’t fly me over to the end of the rainbow to get a pot of gold, then to the Mall to holiday shop…
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Here’s the rest of story, my chrysalis as you can see from last night was looking really cool. I could see inside of it and that was amazing.
This morning at 8:30am I came out to find it had just emerged from the shell and was trying to right itself and I could not resist having a butterfly on my wrist. The wings as you can see started a bit rumply, but they relaxed as you can see in comparison with the  poor crippled butterfly from yesterday who still has sad, wrinkled wings. I can only hope the poor thing can still remain viable. It is on my milkweed plant so I can watch it’s progress or decline for as long as it remains.
As for ‘my’ butterfly, it is still in the bushes waiting as the sun dries off it’s wings. It looks very healthy and seems to be waiting for it’s moment to glide with the wind.  It will probably be gone soon, just the way it’s supposed too, I raise them right you know…ha ha

P/S  – the healthy butterfly is flying all over the garden in complete joy – the other is gone, don’t see it anywhere, let’s hope for the best…
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My chrysalis has not hatched yet, but you can see the monarch inside. Kim next door had one also, it was a day older than mine and hers has hatched, there is the broken sac. To see more, go to http://printzandart.blogspot.com

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Sunday morning and very bright, better hit the 70’s today so I can take my reptilian self and come out of the heated house.
Fishing sucked last night, the heron and cranes were fighting over territory, the cranes always win. The baby crane is due in another month to be exiled, I keep watching for the signs that the parents have had enough of him. I am always happy to see the new babies in the spring. What will I do today….

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BRRRR, it’s in the fifties and my fingers are so cold from being outside and taking heron pics. The heron is up in my pine tree. I only wish it were building its’ nest there like a couple years ago. I loved having baby herons making so much noise! The herons should be nesting now. But I have not seen them in their main tree they always nest in. Usually by now we notice herons grabbing branches for their nests. Once they begin building they are relentless in getting sticks and material to build the monster size homes. But I don’t notice this one doing anything except watching the water. With a cold front going through, I doubt the fishing would be good. Maybe it’s bad for the heron too and that is why she has come to call, hoping it will get me to bring out my pole and catch a bream to throw her. This heron is the smaller one, the other one is larger, that’s why I think it’s the female.
I don’t know, I came inside and am watching the stock market tank, the recession grow darker, maybe soon my portfolio will totally tank and I will be fishing for the both of us…

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