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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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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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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_4769 Despite a cold morning with steam rising off the lake yesterday, the afternoon went up to 76. That’s the perks of living in Florida, that winter sun really tries harder for us!
Carbs the duck was here and I decided to go to Sanford to do a few things and take some pictures, (see those at http://printzandart.blogspot.com )  Had fun with my assistant camera man and son Adam as we saw lots of birds and
even enjoyed a swing on the wonderful long porch swings they have over looking the lake. It is so relaxing I would highly recommend this as “hydro”therapy.
I took some pictures of the green nasty pond near our house, it was pea soup quality: 100_4776 What our own Local government does not recognize is the need for aeration for these ponds. Small fountains using some sort of solar power is what we need, plus I still want my windmills for around the lake, but I am looked at as a looney tune at the mere mention. I just hate seeing stagnant water where algae piles up. It could easily be partially eliminated naturally by constant water movement, plus my lake needs grass carp.  Last night I was fishing amidst the locals:
12409waterbirds-1 and caught a couple bream for the heron. The night was beautifully draped in pinks.

This morning Carbs the duck has disappeared. I don’t see that duck anywhere. Hope it had a nice vacation here, I sure do, everyday — appreciate the little things… have a great day!  100_4819

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dsc03595 For years I have had the most pathetic looking “Chanukah bush” ever.  It was meant just to be a place holder, a traditional holiday tree for the Chanukah/Christmas presents to go around. We celebrate both holidays because there were two traditions with parents of mixed faith. The Chanukah/X-mas bush I put up closer to X-mas goes up in ten minutes being that it is a midget 2 feet high and I slap the trimmings on and the kids make fun of it every year. But it was quick to put up and take down with minimal storage. That’s the logical side of Mom.
Last night an angel visited my house, her name is Andrea Angel and she brought over a Chanukah bush extraordinaire! It was all decked out in golds and reds and she had even used some of my old, little wooden ornaments. My favorites were the glittery fish and gorgeous grapes, and of course, the red beaded birds, WOW! It looks so opulent and flushes the room with warmth. It is a glorious bush! And what generousity to have taken the time to go and buy the tree and ornaments and then take hours to arrange all this!
My little bush went into hiding after this, there is no comparison to my lack of concern for a “token” holiday tree and Andrea Angels, “meticulous attention to each detail”, blow out! But she is like that, Andrea could create beautiful, decorator Christmas trees for a living, her own tree is a 7ft elegant standout. Usually we try and get all the cats together and take their holiday picture under her tree. This year, because they were so closely shaved, none would pose, they are still brooding over their nakedness.
Andrea is so talented, she paints too, the cutest cat pictures! But that will be another blog. For now I just love plugging that tree in and basking in the holiday glow. It makes me feel so special and loved and festive, I feel like running out and buying lots of presents for under the tree to compliment it…OH, now I get it, I understand why people always have so many presents under these bigger trees, they require more square footage, therefore more bounty – and here I thought she was an angel and did it just for me…why that little devil…

comparing-treescomparing trees, get out the microscope for mine, see it? The little green thing? Now look at what I have! Thanks to Andrea Angel  dsc035941

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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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AWK – this is way too much rain all at once. How long before septic backs up? There is no letting up. We are in endless cycle of yellow on the map. This Fay spins and is moving at 5miles per hour, it is essentially going nowhere fast. The rain continues to add up. The lake fills and fills and so do the streets and the property. There are some very heavy wind gusts too.   
  Waterlogged heavy Limbs are falling from the trees, this is worse than if it was a hurricane! For all those we had in 2004, they kicked ass and left! This one is taking her own sweet time and is swamping the state…Is Florida worth staying in when at any time you could be a flood statistic, I’m beginning to wonder…

   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….

  This afternoon at around 4:30pm, the first rain bands arrived, it has been like a typical afternoon thundershower … so far, heavy rain and now nothing, but the sky does look full of things to come. There is no wind, all is quiet for now. The birds are active as always around a storm. They say Fay may be slow to move so there could be flooding, my garage in one corner collects water, so hope Fay hurries through and does not linger.
  And then there is the NEW storm behind Fay ready to slide into the next tropical depression, here we go like 2004, but so far it’s been a breeze, well, no breezes yet….

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!

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.

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