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Today my good friend Sonja picked me up because she does monthly articles for the Sanford Herald. She is researching a piece about Sanford Florida’s produce heritage.
Sanford Florida was the first place to pack produce on ice and ship it north.  But I will leave the story for her to tell and you can buy a copy of the Sanford Herald in a couple of weeks.
Personally, I was trying to pull off taking a photo to accompany the article. Actually it was just fun taking produce pics.  After checking out the old Farmers Market, we stopped at a small produce market on 17/92 right next to the newer Farmers market.  100_0435 It had no name, but when you walked in, there was beautiful produce that looked well selected.   There were walls and bins full of interesting packaged spices an many other food stuffs. It was all so colorful and happy looking. Some veggies and fruits were swaddled as sweetly as if baby Jesus were a mango in the manger.      The cukes looked green and they had tiny potatoes and lovely persimmons. (look for my pictures later at   http://offshoot2.wordpress.com 100_0425

After all that produce and of course buying some fruit for later, Sonja and I went to one of her Mexican favorites,   100_0445 Tortilleria La Mexicana.
We roamed the aisles in the grocery side looking at all their produce,
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they had a wide variety of peppers and fresh quesa cheese and there was also a meat counter.  We ventured over to the restaurant and had a very filling lunch for $5.95 each. I had two quesadillas filled with cheese and veggies with rice on the side, YUM! They were so fresh. Sonja had tacos with cactus and other things I could not think about eating, I have no sense of adventure for spicy food. We both agreed it was a piece of Mexico in Sanford!  100_0449We wandered further and landed up at the old Sanford Amtrack station that now looks like a crack house. 100_0441 100_0442 .  The new station has a shuttle service that offers people the option of going into downtown Sanford if they have a long layover time.
the new station is now only basically an auto-train depot. 100_04431

We looked around Goldsboro and side streets, the Bettye D. Smith Cultural Arts Center where I would like to see if I can organize an art showing.
All and all I encourage you to get in your car and go explore your city, or one near you. It is amazing what you learn and our little Sanford is full of history. Plus Sonja and I love to talk ‘smack’ about our own old history being as we are close in age and have many common denominators. We aren’t quite the ‘Golden girls’, let’s just say we can remember the days of college in the 60’s:  riots, Tricky Dick, war, love, Woodstock  and peace and the good old days. We worshipped at the altar of Led Zep, and Jim Morrison. Loved Bob Dylan before his electric guitar.  Sonja married her man who graduated Harvard and played in a band with the Allman Brothers. We were the hippie generation. Sonja stayed in school and went on to get her Masters  and I dropped out of college after hurricane Camille blew it away.
How’s this for a photo out of 1969? Abbe and the father of her kids captured in time.
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100_0333 When I arrived at the nest this morning, Papa crane was in the water looking bored. The egg sat alone and Mama crane was gone. The male seemed quite annoyed and after about five minutes, he started screaming for his mate. She would scream back at him and I bet they were not but a few hundred feet apart.

100_0338He was very anxious for the female to get there. And when she appeared, he flew off fast toward the south.

100_0366 She rotated the egg and then sat down

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The male looked like he had had enough today, sick of babysitting the egg. I saw two snakes near the lake, black racers that were too quick to photograph. I must talk a walking stick down there as I am afraid a mocassin might intrude and scare me – or worse yet, bite me!  On my way out I found a bee, we used to call them queen bees, they are fat and annoying.
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and at last, the shuttle launch

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Lots of things in the sky and on the ground, the launch was beautiful, The shuttle flew like spectacular comet, and I caught nothing for the heron except this photo.31409ringoherona-2_edited-1

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

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

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

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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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?

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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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There is some serious pupation going on here. Went out this morning to take photos of some cardinals, and as I looked up there was an odd shape dangling from almost the middle of my screen door frame. Upon inspection I found a monarch cocoon. This  small, exquisitely decorated ornament dangled proudly for the sun to catch the light on the tiny gold dots making it sparkle. How lucky to be able to watch it’s progress in plain view.
I have repeatedly told my friend Beda, ( http://anhinga.wordpress.com ) that she was so lucky to have monarch pupas. She gets a lot of them. I see the larval stage, but never the chrysalis. So now I get to watch firsthand, the progression of the pupa that should take two weeks.
good source for info: http://www.kidzone.ws/animals/monarch_butterfly.htm

So I am feeling a bit excited watching my proud dangler. And of course, the updates will be here… Oh, and here is my handsome cardinal!

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I am getting ready to leave for higher ground, the toilets aren’t flushing, the garage is flooding, it is supposed to rain about 8 more inches tonight, I can’t stay here, too hard to deal with. Many roads are flooding. All I hear outside is slashing rain and frogs,. lots and lots of frogs. My neighbor Dee says we have gotten 12inches of rain from her gauge! I hope my cats can find the tables and counters. I am afraid that when I leave, it will be very bad when I come back. No time for pics, too dark – gotta leave and go tend to window leak at my daughters… her upstairs window is leaking like crazy, one more thing to worry about. I will have no computer tonight, but I will be up and in misery waiting this out.
so long for now, gotta run, I mean swim…

will update during the day – this photo at 7:30, light wind and misty rain, can see bands coming from south, but moving toward east. We are now on west side of storm which “they say”  is less dangerous than being on east or north.  Moving 9mph, come on Fay, show us whatz ya got! Give the lake a big drink!
8:30amUpdate under tornado watch till 4pm – rain off and on, but a light rain so far…
1:15pm – some wind, a little rain, but not much. Very overcast. The wind comes in sideways from the east as does the rain. They say Fay is not falling apart, but has even strengthened a tiny bit. And they also say, she could leave the coast neat Cocoa Beach and possibly come back in and get us in central Florida, this is one whacky storm. the cats are taking in in stride. So are the turtles and the great white heron who stopped on shore to say “Hey”.

This is the lake level this morning, (1.03) on tall gauge. Look just beyond that to see top of smaller gauge that is finally disappearing beneath much needed rain water that has been continually filling the lake during summer thunderstorms. We still have a long way to go and with Fay threatening to do a “Charlie” – Charlie was our first hurricane in 2004 that rammed into the west coast and followed I-4 through the middle of the state. So I am getting a bit prepared, have gas for generator, bread and peanut butter jelly, cat food, bird food, etc. I threw loose stuff into garage and did put up only two plywood boards over my bedroom window because there is a tree right there. But I won’t bother with the others unless Fay turns into a category 2. 
    This will be a 3 part series about how it is to get ready for hurricane, the day of the hurricane and after the hurricane. I will take the same pictures the gauge and marsh on Wednesday. 
    Wonder if this will be like 2004, one hurricane almost every two/three weeks or if it will be a dud??? The rain bands will probably hit us which is good. The lake has lots of room for now.  The news channel 13 is always on to watch the progression and on the computer, we go to NOAA to watch the progression and water vapor and the details they offer.
   We can’t take it too lightly, as with Charlie, both neighbors got trees through their roofs. I am hoping this won’t be such a big event, but there are also possibilities for tornados. We will wait and see and I will update you on what the storm looks like and how it effects us. I may add photos today just of wildlife if anything fun is running, flying, swimming around….

 Looks like we might get some rain today. The sun bloomed, and then the clouds tackled it! It’s gray, but no rain yet. the morning did bring out the ‘regulars’.
A young cardinal was curious about the camera. The blue jays move fast, they take their food and fly, the others are more leisurely. The anhinga flies in, but if he sees me taking the pictures, he spreads his wings and threatens to leave, but he didn’t this morning. On a gray day like this you really appreciate how the flowers stand out, sometimes mother nature just likes to brag…

Ugh, weeding! It has been too long and I have let the weeds get too numerous, and under a summer Florida sky it’s brutal! But yesterday the sky grew thick with clouds and I went out under a shaded summer heat to try and get a few beds weeded.
   The first thing I saw were the big bumble bees loving the yellow flowers, gyrating into each bright face.  Head first they rammed themselves into the blooms. Having a bee high! Drunk on pollen. 
   Birds flew all over the place, cardinals, blue jays, hawks, and finally I heard a lot of complaining and looked up and saw a baby woodpecker with his open beak calling for some room service. And in just seconds, the father bird appeared with the grub. The baby still cried and cried for more and more. The father obliged and finally left the baby alone to complain. About 3 years ago after the hurricanes, I had 7 trees removed from my backyard as my neighbors on both sides of me had pine trees through their roofs after a terrible season of 4 hurricanes dropping by. I was spared, but had the trees closest to the house removed. I left 2 of them sheared off at the top to encourage birds. I now have woodpecker condos. They bore holes inside the trees and raise their babies. So as I was out there sweating and cussing at the weeds, this baby woodpecker made it fun. In fact, I had to go inside, get the camera, and interrupt the momentum. But, that’s okay, it’s good to have an excuse to let the weeding go till October and enjoy the wildlife around the backyard…  Weeding still sucks!

    Today they kept saying would be wet. It threatened a lot with thunder and lightening off and on, but
I am still waiting for the big rain. In the meantime, because of bolts of electric zapping across the sky, I didn’t think it a good idea to take my fishing rod and go fish. The sky looked very convincing with it’s mean intention.
   The sky this morning at 6:00am was wonderfully rich with color, and the birds were active all day, as they seem to be when rain is coming. I would look outside and see beautiful flurries of blue and red and gray crossing paths to eat bird seed.
   The winds carried the songs of birds wrapped inside, what a gift for a quiet Friday…

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