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Sunday, October 28, 2012

My First Hurricane

We survived our first near-hurricane and have rather enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, as Sandy moved on up the coast, we went to Wabasso Beach to see what we could see.

The surf was up and a couple of surfers defied the order to stay out of the water.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151184381593647

Today, Sunday, it is supposed to be the big surfing day.  The surf is still supposed to be high but the winds less.

The beach has been eroded and the steps to the boardwalk full of debris.
Beach erosion...so much sand brought in after Irene and now gone.
Surfing waves and "pipelines" were awesome!
Be warned!
You can't keep kids from having fun...at least they WERE supervised by adults.
Thursday, October 25, 2012

Witches, Goblins, and Surfers

Today was a day that I would most definitely not call boring.

First came a Halloween party at the Sundown, a restaurant where "Aunt Josie" goes dancing with friends every Thursday. I went with her a couple of weeks ago and thought the party would be fun.

I loved taking photos and no one seemed at all shy safely hidden in their costumes.  I feel absolutely young when I am with all of these merry senior citizens.
Angel Jo and Sister Irene
Front or back...
This is hilarious.
One person who usually sits at each table decorated for the party.
Another decorated table
Pretty and scary witch
Oh yes...a lot of dancing was done even if it was afternoon.
An impending hurricane doesn't keep diners off the deck.
Something about a tiki hut with Halloween decorations just isn't right with me.
Each of the two tour boats has a distinctive carving on the roof.
I think I like this one best.
The ships are safely in and didn't make their Thursday cruises.
Awesome swells!!! 
She is way too close to those waves!!!
Surfing?  Are you SERIOUS?
I guess these are the surfers who know what they are doing.
I was talking to a surfer on the boardwalk the others seemed to respect a lot.  He started by telling me to be sure to cover my lens between shots or I would find it covered with salt.  Then he told me that Sunday would be the best surfing day without the surface wind annoying us, and higher swells.  So I will get over there on Sunday to see.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy
I guess I should look at this unexpected trip South in October as a broadening experience.  I am not at all sure I wanted that to include a hurricane.  This is one projection, the popular one, and it shows some effects on the East coast where we are. 

A few years ago this area was hit directly by Jean and Irene, two hurricanes 22 days apart.  Our town sat in the eye-wall of one for just an hour or so, but 8 hours in the eye-wall of the other one.  There are still signs of the devastation, many years later.  I do NOT want to go through anything like that,  Thankfully, we were North at that time.  It doesn't look like this will be anything like those storms.  A little rain, wind and high surf is all expected.  I will take pictures and post them here.

Nature's Lessons

The first lesson yesterday came while I was swimming.  A rather small spider was balanced on the surface of the water, soon to drown.  I have nothing against spiders...they are great in the garden.  So I brought the noodle up under him.  He clung to it and I gently tapped him onto the patio.  Immediately, a small Anole darted out, grabbed the spider for his dinner and disappeared again.

Natures hard lesson.

Later that evening we were sitting in the approaching evening watching the sun go down and there was an alligator eye-ing us.
It was evening and a bit away so please pardon the fuzziness.  I don't WANT to go any closer!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Favorite Day!

One of my favorite places when we are in Florida is the Eau Gallie Super-Flea Market. 
You can get almost anything there in the huge covered facility.  Some vendors have tables and some have built stores within the building.  Some have been there for just years!  We noticed quite a few empty areas but, maybe when the other Snowbirds get here, they will be filled.  We don't know.  This is all new to us!
This is the "flea market" section of the center...used things...garage sale items...estate sale things.
This is looking the length of the main room.  Other aisles go off like a big letter E.
Entertainment was an Elvis who wasn't half bad in spite of the decorated sweat-suit.
This was one of his "finds" in Melbourne.  I would go back in a heartbeat!
It was mostly open-air, but that is appropriate in Florida!
Inside was decorated with old license plates and kitsch.
Back home with new purses, beads for my charm bracelet, some kitchen supplies, and my favorite...bifocal Polaroid sunglasses.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Just a Day in Paradise

Glassy lake

 When I took my cup of Mocha-Mint coffee to the patio the lake was like glass.  There were no birds, again, but I knew patience might turn up something.  An occasional large fish jumped and disturbed the surface of the lake. When a wind ripples the lake we can't see such activity.

See what I mean?  Mirror with an occasional disturbance

I took a moment to admire the banana grove.
This is the time, when nothing seems to be happening, when I can most appreciate the variety of tropical plants.
This reminds me of my Japanese Brush Painting class in the 60s.  I love bamboo.
Now WHAT was that?

The lone ibis
 All the while I was outside I had the company of one lone male ibis.  I believe the black tail is mating plumage. He would shove that long beak down into the sandy lawn and often come up with something long and wiggly.  It could have been small lizards or something else but I have never seen earthworms here like we have up North.

I watched little ripples start in the lake and wondered since there was no disturbance on the surface of the swimming pool.  But, slowly, the rain made its way to us and just made the warm coffee better.  The Ibis retreated to the shelter of the hibiscus tree at the corner of the screen house where he has been off and on for days.  In the winter the "herd" of Ibises count between 12 and 20.  Maybe the mating feathers are a clue to this lone bird not running with a crowd...yet.

The starfruit is ready to pick...but not in the rain.
 The only sounds were the rain and the serenade of a mockingbird.  This one has a totally different song than the fellow around here the last two years.  DO they learn different arrangements of song?
This fellow has a very pleasing arrangements of "Mocking" songs.
The rain is getting harder and it is time to go inside.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Winter "Residents" Slowly Returning

Every winter since our first in 2003, we have watched a pair of Osprey.  In February of 2003 they built their first nest (as far as we could tell).  They both spent days and days bringing large twigs and pieces of plant life weaving a huge nest VERY high on the cell tower across the bay from us.

In 2004 they raised their second family in the same nest while we watched through binoculars.

In January 2005, after the hurricanes of September 2004, they rebuilt the nest and raised another family.

In 2006, a pair of Great Horned Owls grabbed the nest before the osprey could defend it and we watched a family of owls hatch, grow and fledge from the nest.  The owls never returned and in 2007 through 2012 the Osprey successfully raised two young each winter.

The Osprey have been here and nesting every year before we arrive (in January),  This year a family situation has us in Florida in October...a whole new ball game.  The first week we saw NO BIRDS!  None at all!!!  In the second week we started to see an occasional early migratory bird or three.  This included ONE Osprey.  The one Osprey flew once or twice near the nest but seemed busy fishing in our lake.

Osprey Pair at the Nest--can you see BOTH birds?

Finally, today, I saw both birds flying together and "screaming" (not as annoying as it sounds).  I took a few photos but it was hard to focus on them.  They went to the nest and flew around it.  Then I saw the female flip over and sort-of fly upside-down under the male and I knew they were mating.  I assume when we return in January there will be a nest of babies for us to watch again.
Friday, October 5, 2012

2012-10-05 No-See-Ums

Can you appreciate how small these monsters are?

Four nights ago we went out on the patio at dusk to enjoy being in Florida, albeit unplanned.  The neighbor complained of being "bit up" in spite of being in a screened-in enclosure.  Later when I came in my ankles started to itch and ITCH!  Big welts were starting to show, although I didn't remember feeling anything biting me while outside.

The first couple of winters I didn't know WHAT was wrong with me.  Silly pharmacist didn't recognize NoSeeUm welts and was no help except to recommend a Benadryl cream that didn't help. 

Tonight we went to sit by the lake...big mistake.  I was wearing shoes and socks but it seems I was bitten again, or maybe that is just the previous bites.  How can something so tiny leave such welts and cause such itching that lasts so long?

"Biting midges can be a nuisance to campers, fishermen, hunters, hikers, gardeners, and others who spend time outdoors during early morning and evenings, and even during the daytime on still, cloudy days. They will readily bite humans; the bites are irritating, painful, and can cause long-lasting painful lesions for some people.
A common observation upon experiencing a bite from this insect is that something is biting, but the person suffering can not see what it is. Biting midges are sometimes incorrectly referred to as sand flies. Sand flies are insects that belong to a different biological group and should not be confused with the biting midges."
Thursday, October 4, 2012

2012-10-04 A Little About the Weather

.
There! In the West. Dark thunderclouds punctuated with streaks of lightening. 
You go outside and look in all directions. 
Clouds to the North are white and towering, beginning to flatten threatening the coast beneath them. To the South are more black clouds and the thunder is louder. 
 East over the ocean the clouds are scattered, but high with thready wisps skimming over them.

So you bring in the chaise cushions, check for stray cups and glasses, unplug the computers, and wait.

It passed you by! 
The Mockingbird is laughing at you, Silly "Snowbird". 
That is Florida in October!
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

20120-10-03 Surprise, Surprise!

I should be posting the garden clean-up in the North but instead I am looking around Florida in October due to a family emergency.  This is a brand new experience for us, having never been here at this time of year.  July, yes, twice.  Winter, of course.  But October here is strange to us.

As we drove the second day down I-95 from St. Augustine we noticed the clouds and sun mix.  One minute  you were in bright sun and the next it was raining.  Because of this, we also noticed rainbows...double, bright, and complete over the Indian River once we left the expressway.
Hard to photograph from a moving car
I went to the grocery store the next day and was amused by people shopping in shorts and sleeveless tops, right around the Halloween displays.  It will take some getting used to, for sure.


One of our neighbors

I had packed summer-weight slacks and tops but I also packed a sweater and light jacket.  So far the temps have been 88 to 90 degrees each day.  At the last minute I grabbed a swim suit and am I glad!  Swimming has been excellent.  Most of the winter I just look at the pool until late April or early May.  Even "He" is getting in the pool!
Lush greenery...no birds
The first few hours in Florida I noticed the lack of birds and it seems even more remarkable in our own area.  In winter we sit by the lake and spend the sunsets watching all the wonderful big birds.  I even have a great bird "app" on my Kindle for identifying the birds and their calls.  Not going to use it this trip.  Maybe a Mockingbird or two, but that is about it.

However, there ARE plenty of active alligators.  In winter we don't see them until the water and air warm up a lot.  One big fella came opposite us last night and looked us over...sizing us up, as it were.  We were in the screen house and he was just off the seawall.  The lake water is so high from the very rainy summer that he could get out of the lake at any of several places where seawalls have broken down, and banks where they can climb out and sun themselves.

We were in the screen house with the mistaken idea that it would protect us from the "No-See-Ums".  I will be wearing socks from now on.  You can't even SEE these little biting bugs and they come right through screens.  The welts and itching last for quite a while, too.

 There are a lot of dragon flies, big ones, but I haven't been able to get a good photo of one yet.
I never saw the bloom of the star fruit before.  This will be next year's crop.
I think the star fruit will be ready to take home when we go.

Only a scattering of Jasmine blooms.
Plumbago is in bloom all over the place.

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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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