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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life's Little Mysteries

At first I thought this was just some repair to the pipes coming up from the lake...pipes to the watering system that uses lake water
However on closer look, and a little thought about that house being empty for 2 years, now, and I saw that these are EGGS. But WHAT would climb the PVC to lay those eggs. Certainly not a turtle. A frog? Some kind of weird fish? I probably never WILL know.
We see a fair number of Anhingas (Snakebirds) in and around the lake, but not so many Cormorants. Early this year we saw a real flock of Cormorants, but none as close as this one today. The old paddle boat is right near the lot line. I didn't even take time to put on shoes and the grass was wet with dew, but it is all about getting the shot, right? I don't have a huge telephoto lens but I was able to sneak close by using trees and poles for cover.
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Out


Our neighbor (full time resident) mentioned a place in Vero that had good pizza.  Yesterday we managed to drive past it without stopping but today, we decided to stop for lunch.
Imagine...OUTSIDE DINING on January 18.  Even after 7 years that is fascinating to me.  
When the pizza came it looked and smelled great.  And it was!

We WILL be going back.



Sunday, January 17, 2010

This is Why We Came to Florida.

The Wabasso Boardwalk
 January 17...short sleeves, sun, rolling ocean, warm wind...what more could we ask.
Plenty of others are enjoying the summer weather, at last.
This is Wabasso Beach just a few minutes from the house.  For the past few years we weren't able to really enjoy this lovely beach  which was pretty well destroyed by the hurricanes.  Finally, last year the county rebuilt the boardwalk and other niceties.  Now it is accessible, and protected by lifeguards.  Seems that the surfers like it, too.
Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hacking at the Jungle Growth

All my life there has been a rhythm to the way things grow.  Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Now there is a winter of facing plants that grow 12 months a year...grow BIG and FAST.  Probably the most dramatic is a big Monstera Philodendron just outside the screen house around the pool.
This is how it looked when we started today.  Weeds underneath had pushed through the screen.  The big leaves of the "Monster" were right up against the screen, threatening to bend it inward.  We had Cloudy and 77 degrees for working.
Here it is after an hour or so of work by us both.  And...
Here is most of the debris.  Thank goodness for curbside pick-up.

This planting bed along the screen house was my "better idea" several years ago but the only plants that survived the freeze are ones I wanted to remove this year anyway.
  Now I am thinking about just removing all of it.  I am so past trying to save every plant.  The reddish/green plants in the foreground is the same plant my mother and I babied as house plants in the North.  I guess I am over that and ready to pull these all out.  Given the sand in which they are planted, pulling them out should take about 30 minutes.
Hard work deserves some perks so we cleaned and filled the Jacuzzi.  I am sure it won't be hot until tomorrow night but ummmmmmmm, that WILL feel good!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Engineer Braces a Tree

So...what happens when a retired engineer decides to brace up a leaning landscape palm?

Well, let's just say that the recipe includes 15 pieces of wood, 15 long screws, 6 long hose clamps, and more tools than I could count.
But it is DONE and that tree will withstand anything Nature can throw at it.  "Bring on the hurricanes", it says.

Not all of the plants survived the frigid week we had.  The Kalanchoe plants that were already blooming and bordering the back flower bed just couldn't survive a week of below freezing temperatures at night.

Just as I started back up the hill to the house she flitted into the palm over my head and I got this shot.  I will hit the books today to try and identify the species.  This appears to be the female.  The male has a yellow chest and more pronounced markings around the eyes and on the head.



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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Little Photo Stroll


It was warm enough yesterday to get out and garden, but the gardening needed me too much to take photos.  So this morning I did a little stroll with the following results.
I love butterflies and was delighted that this one let me get close and snap away.  I need to research what kind of butterfly it is.   It will be some time before we see anything like this back North.
This plant was perfectly fine 2 days ago but several nights in the 20s really took a toll on certain plants.  I THINK this was a "Moses in the Boat" plant.

We protected the two Jade plants in the garage (small one) and with a sheet (the large one we can't lift).
I remember how long my mother babied a small Jade house plant in the North and it never reached anything like this size.
I consider this "The Best For Last".  Maybe it is because the Bird-Of-Paradise  is close to the house and protected by it, but there doesn't seem to be any damage from the cold.  Thanks goodness, because this is R.'s pet plant.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cold Survey of the Area

Back to our old habit of driving along Indian River Drive and sitting at the park watching the wildlife.  When we went past the first time this Osprey was finishing his "lunch".  With the cold weather, the birds and animals are a little lethargic, but half an hour later he was still there so I figured he wanted his picture taken.  Glad to oblige.
We also watched 3 dolphins lazily rolling in the lagoon a few yards off the shore.  Looked like an adult and 2 babies.  No pictures, though.

Most interesting was the lack of pelicans.  Terns and seagulls were flying and active, but there are usually hundreds of pelicans, especially around the fishery.  The news mentioned that with the cold the pelicans were starving and stressed, but the wildlife resources are stretched thin, as it is, with the fight to save the green turtles and manatees.  I will be watching the news tonight to  follow the fight.  The manatee are flocking into warm streams and springs but there isn't enough food for them in those huge numbers and it is against the law for people to feed them.  Fortunately there are a lot of environmentalists in Florida and they are mobilized in huge numbers this week.
Next we went over the Wabasso causeway to take a peek at the ocean.  We are so happy to see the causeway rebuild is finished.  Even more happy to use the new beach boardwalk.  I HAD to take these two pictures showing that it is perspective.  Both were taken in the same 5 minute period and at the same place.
Surfers will surf any time!
On the way back to the mainland we passed an entrance to a beautiful community with some awesome landscaping at the entrance.  This time it was all pink geraniums and, I think, Phlox.
Saturday, January 9, 2010

Did We Really Travel All That Way? For 23 Degrees?


Our trip from Michigan to Florida started in snow.  It was light but enough to cause the salt trucks to be working at 6:30 AM.  For the next 550 miles snow was the least of the mess as salt and road sludge splashed onto the windshield making good wipers and lots of washer fluid imperative.

Our first stop was in West Virginia for gas at Ravenwood, a pretty little town just off the main highway.  Still lots of snow on the ground and coming down.   We finally saw dry pavement in Virginia.   By North Carolina most of the cars were clean and shiny, but we knew right away when we were near another "Snowbird" by the salt and road sludge on their car.  Such was the case at the motel in North Carolina when we met the couple in the next room by comparing cars.  They were from Pennsylvania and had passed through deeper snow than we did.  We even had breakfast with them the next morning.  He was a retired teacher, too.
I saw this once-gorgeous-lodge on the property next to the motel and had to take a couple of shots.  It was for sale but it would take a LOT of imagination.
This is the car in Cocoa Beach, our first chance to get it washed.  Since Virginia, a lot of the salt and road sludge had blown off, but enough remained that the couple who owned the car ahead of us recognized another "escapee".  They were from Greenbay and said their drive had been the worst trip they had ever taken.
I guess we were lucky.  It only took the detailers at the car wash forever to clean the outside of the truck.  They had some kind of special solution to counteract the effect of the salt on the car body.

When we got to our winter house there was only time for a quick walk around outside.  Everything was overgrown, but we expect that.  It doesn't look like we lost anything over the summer.  The next morning I was even able to go down to the lake and watch 5 Cormorants diving in the lake. 

It seems as if most of the birds are still in their winter flocks.  I think they will soon split up and start their nests.
By Friday I noticed some damage from the cold that has descended to Florida.  The Papaya trees are probably not going to survive.

This is just sad.  I wonder what else will succumb tonight.  We brought in the potted plants that survived the heat of summer but might not survive tonight's 23 degrees.  We covered some of the plants we worry about the most with sheets.  It rained all day so ice is a possibility.
More later. 
This is just sad.  I wonder what else will succumb tonight.  We brought in the potted plants that survived the heat of summer but might not survive tonight's 23 degrees.  We covered some of the plants we worry about the most with sheets.  It rained all day so ice is a possibility.
More later. 
Saturday, January 2, 2010

Still Watching Birds in Michigan

It was just an idle drive through the Erie Metro Park to kill a little time before an appointment.  As I drove into the picnic area parallel to the Lake Erie shore line I began to make out a LOT of birds in the water just off shore...SWANS.  A couple of other cars were in the parking area but they looked like they belonged to some walkers and runners on the trails.  I grabbed the little ELPH camera out of my purse and strolled over to the rocks that line the shore.  A few birds close to shore began to paddle away but most paid no attention to me.  I took a couple of pictures and a video.
I loved the huge freighter on the horizon heading into the upbound channel toward Detroit
I can't upload the video but several thousand from far right to far left is the estimate.  It is a sight AND SOUND!  The noise was deafening.

Here is a closer shot of the swans, these on a mostly-submerged island.

The next day we drove over there together with the bigger Canon camera and a couple of lenses.  It seemed awfully silent.  I looked and looked again...NO BIRDS!!!  Where could a couple thousand swans hide?  They might have been migratory but ducks, geese (and swans) tend to stay here all winter where the water from the power plant keeps Lake Erie warm and flowing.

It was as amazing as the original sight to realize they were gone...bag and baggage.

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Laura Lou
Michigan/Florida, United States
I am a retired Middle School Science teacher from Michigan spending 4 months each winter in Florida and learning about a whole new world.
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