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babycraneinnest32609cropb-1 Ya gotta look hard, but it’s out!!! happy birthday baby crane. I hope to see it here in a couple days! Will keep you updated, will go back later tonight. Sorry pics aren’t clearer but there’s too many weeds between me and the nest!

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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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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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

2509carbsfriendb-122509carbsfriend2a2509muscovyfriendfliesoff-1 Carbs the duck had a visitor this below freezing morning, (the temp was at 30 degress at 7am.).  A muscovy duck came to check Carbs out. It didn’t stay long, kind of strutted around and then flew away. He had a rather punk look to him, (I’m assuming it was a he.)  He just needed some piercings to go along with his stiff hairdo. The duck was larger than carbs, and didn’t seem to find my place to it’s liking. Or maybe it was the white twins who were also here and made a lot a ‘racket’ toward him, those white ducks are big quackers. The visitor sort of listened to whatever they were quacking about and split. I think they actually told him that the lady who lived here loved muscovy ‘foie gras’…

2409manateeheron-a1manatee2409-1dsc02169 Adam and I went over to Blue Springs Park in Deland to see the manatees. When it gets cold, they come to the springs in the park where the water temp. doesn’t fluctuate, but stays around 72.  And boy was it cold, the wind was really whipping around. I think it was about 50 degrees and in the shade it felt much cooler. The water was driven by the wind and because of it, it was hard to take good photos of the manatees. The look like gray patterned rocks in the water. One of the park ranges told us they had counted 170 manatees today. We could see them all along the banks in twos and threes and fives. The gars too were out in large numbers, they were huge. people swim in these springs and I can’t imagine even wanting to swim anywhere near those gars! dsc02090 And WOW the carp! They also were so big and there were lots and lots of them all close to the bottom. Oh if I had a fishing rod! But they have no fishing signs because of the manatees.
The Park is a wonderful place! they have wonderful walkways with lots of viewing areas to see manatees all along the way the long walkway. There was one area, a cove they called the manatee spa, but none were in there. The birds and anhingas especially were abundant. Only saw one heron. I told Adam we must come back again on a day when the wind is calm. The water, spring fed, was so crystal clear, but again, the wind blew so hard it was always moving fast, I can’t wait for a day when I can see the water without ripples and take pictures! What a beautiful park it is and very family friendly, plenty of convenient restrooms and a large playground besides places to launch your boats. They also have a riverboat cruise, though I didn’t look for details.  Being there and looking at that gorgeous crystla clear water made me want to buy a kayak and if I didn’t have remodeling to do, (both of my outdated bathrooms are going to get resurfaced) then I would do just that, but priorities first. though I keep looking in the paper for someone needing to sell their boats.  Maybe some of my artwork will sell… wishful thinking, but maybe one day I will be able to take a photo and tell you I bought some type of water worthy vessel.
This place is off I-4 in Deland, very close to the Gateway Center For the Arts, so I took Adam by the Center on the way home to see how it looked.  When we got in the car, we blasted the heat. We were both so cold. As I write this now, it is much worse tonight as the temperature will be in the 20’s. I didn’t cover anything, what the heck, let it go, something will grow to replace it. All the cats are inside and settled down for the night. I was out earlier giving “Carbs” the duck some seed. I hope he finds someplace to stay warm. The cranes were here and the heron was down by the lake waiting for me, but I was a no show! This is way too cold for me and especially when the sun is going down. I can’t imagine the fishing even being any good, I’m sure the big fish are all at the bottom and not really going anywhere. As for Adam and Mom, we basted in high heat all the way to a sushi restuarant for lunch where I let someone else catch the fish of the day…

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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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Morning brings the cranes flying over for breakfast and fast moving clouds. The southern winds are blowing the warm gulf moisture toward the north. This afternoon the north cold front will clash with this warm mass and BANG, we should hear some activity! I was gardening in front this morning and watched a big otter cross from little Lake Amory into the canal that leads to our lake. I rushed in and waited and waited to see it swimming, but not a sign of it. Oh well, I will shower and look for it later… you know there will be a photo if I see it! Stay tuned

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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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Anyday at the zoo is a good day,  and the Weather being cool, I made my way to Sanford zoo a few miles up the road. Hardly anyone was there so I took my time and roamed around really going over the animals. It’s such a tiny place and I always feel so very sad for the big cats and the elephants who should have plenty of roaming room with vegetation to pick at and there is nothing for Maud and Mary to do. The elephants have been there 20 plus years I think. I would never encourage them to be separated, but I would love to see them go to live out their lives on a big piece of property where they could walk around. They seem like prisoners on the yard!
The zoo has made strides for bigger enclosures for the cheetahs and the kangaroos, but the leopards look so very confined, all one can hope for is to teach children and others about conservation and helping out the wild animal populations. The staff was absolutely wonderful and very helpful. It all gave me an idea for a photo exhibition of my own. Hope I follow through!
to see more pics go to www.http://printzandart.blogspot
www.http://printzandart.blogspot.com

This turtle was in the driveway a while ago. Maybe it was looking for a place to lay eggs, maybe it was looking for the lake and got sidetracked, or maybe Ringo lured it over just to tease it? The thing is, it was slimy and shiny, very black and wrinkled. He looked like something that crawled out of a septic tank after living there for a few years, YUK.  At least it was patient as I took it’s picture numerous times, but I don’t like big turtles, they look germy and hiss when you pick them up…so I don’t.

to see more colorful photos  go to     http://printzandart.blogspot.com

I heard it before I saw it. I was out on the porch and this high pitched sound was flirting with the sky, the wings soaring above the lake, suddenly it decided to land on a branch. I ran and got the camera and tried to get close as I could and damn if an airplane, (I am on the landing flight path toward Sanford International airport) didn’t come right over the tree and startle it and off it went, but there’s the beautiful proof…

(Click on any picture for a close up shot)

I don’t know how you sleep, but mainly, I don’t and that’s okay with me because it leaves me with the dark hours of creativity. I usually have to stay busy when I can’t put my mind to bed. That gray matter is absorbing too many ideas. Ah, if only one would make me the big big bucks!

The past few hours I have had ballroom dancing international on and the dancers are amazing with their agility and endless energy. Put me in heels and I crash to the floor — my balance sucks! I must have a light and wobbly core of gravity, could my mother have been a ‘weeble’? Anyway, I admire how these people drift around the floor. This is one image from the contest. The costumes are amazing, they look like birds of paradise in flight when they all swirl about.
For more pics, go to my blogsite as I am trying to finish a small series:
http://printzandart.blogspot.com
I would love constructive criticism good and bad, anything you say makes me think…

   Today was one rain band after another associated with Gustav they say. So I went to meet an artist at the Lake Mary Historical Society which is about 5 minutes away. The Society is having local artists show their artwork. There were several very talented painters and my new acquaintance, Madeliene who also is a new member  of Women’s Caucus for Art. She makes adorable boxes with all types of themes and will be teaching a class on how to make them.
   The historical society itself is loaded of cool of photos of the days when Lake Mary was forming. To think of Crystal lake with lovely white sandy shores and a large facility that rented out towels and rowboats is hard to imagine. Even my little lake was once pristine in the 70’s, all clear and people swam and boated around it. Today, no way would I even stick a toe in these lakes. probably because  of all these years of discharge from outdated septic systems and fertilizer run off especially from the nearby golf course whihc has mostly ruined the quality over the years. The whole eco system is different now. Two years ago the algae atop the lake was so thick, you could take a glob of it and wring it out like a sponge – YUK! (Note photo at top) It looked horrible. The toll of excessive fertilizer on the lake is horrible, but people want green lawns, they don’t care about the consequences of that stuff washing down into our water.
    It has stopped raining, might go back and throw a line in. Two years ago I had to wear rubber gloves to fish because I didn’t want to touch that algae on the line with the fish, thank goodness it has not gotten to the point where I am catching fish with two sets of eyes or tumors, not yet anyway…

  It’s monsooning right now, rain rain rain slashing sideways – I talked to my son in Tampa and he is on his way to play golf under complete sunshine, that’s Florida for you! My neighbors house is inbetween two drainage ditches, he might be completely underwater by 5pm!  The rain gauge says it all, up another couple inches and at five pm, I will update again.
  In between rain, I caught a little butterfly braving the water and some blooming passion flowers. You have to find something in between this “flushing”….

   This morning (9:ooam) water gauge is up to 1.28, so it has risen over 3 inches since Monday. We are still getting rain bands coming through, but really they are more wind bands than rain. Another gray day, have not seen birds this morning. The cranes came last night and then took off.
   We were spared any tornadoes and large rain amounts of those to the east of the storm down along the Atlantic coast. Some places flooding up with up to 15 inches. I would not be here to write if that were the case at my house. I would be swimming out  of here.
  As for Fay, she is near Cape Canaveral and trying to gain her momentum again so she can hit us as a hurricane up the coast between daytona and Jax. She is persistant and so very very slow. This is the slowest tropical storm I ever saw. We may be feeling these effects through Friday then must watch another system trying “its’ wings” out in the Carribean.
   update later in day….

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”.

They say you can tell alot about the quality of a lake from the dragonflies. My lake must be very healthy despite all the excessive hydrilla. Dragonflies are all over, buzzing about,  some in pairs, some solo, and some riding piggyback! I see eggs clustered on lake plants to assure the future of these beautiful and intricate creatures. They zip from point A to point B, then quicky decide on another location. Somehow they never seem satisfied with their choices. I usually find a few stuck on the porch screen, I cup them in my hands and sometimes they bite, which is really a cute little pinch of hello, and sometimes they sit for a minute as if to say thank you. So I in turn will thank them for their lovely interludes.

    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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