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2008 in Review
December 31, 2008
This was a long but short year. I can't believe it already over! My
word for the year was Explore. I think I did a fairly good job of 'exploring' but maybe not everything I thought I would do. So, here's a little recap:

I am sad on this art front. I only accomplished this piece and this piece. More diligence is needed for next year!

I made 15 items this year. I am grouping the headbands together. Blankets, hats, two tops for me. I would say I took my crochet far this year!

I went a lot of places this year: Washington DC, Tucson, Bolivia, Texas 3 times, Montana, Sarasota and Jacksonville/St. Augustine. Oh and Apalachicola, but that counts at camping.

There were at least 19 hiking trips, and I am sure I forgot some of them. That doesn't include kayak trips and canoe trips to Fisheating Creek. We also saw the sphinx moth pollinate the ghost orchid. We need to spend more time out there next year. If we get the Canon 5D it has Blueray technology and we should be able to get a really good video this coming spring/summer.

I made two things. The shirt for me which I was dissapointed in and a quilt for Zoe for Christmas. I need to upload those photos and so I will show you those another day.

There were about 8 camping trips but I think there were actually more like 10 and I can't remember a few of them!!!

It was an adventuresome year! So many babies were born, Zoe arrived and I got to meet two of my best friend's babies. I went to my 10 year high school reunion. I am creeping up on 30, but I will let Chris and Michelle go first next September. ;) I need to enjoy 29 first and what is left of 28.

I'm not sure what to expect for this year. I hope it is an awesome year. I am excited that Eliana will be returning from her trip across North America and I can actually hang out with her for once! HAH! I plan to stick to my guns and get some art work done this year. I am done with crocheting blankets for awhile and have nothing pressing so I can actually enjoy making some things for myself. As for resolutions I don't really have any. I plan on continuing my 28 things for 28 and working on those. However, I am dissapointed that it is apparently $150 a person to take a ferry to Dry Tortugas National Monument!! Now, I am not sure that will be crossed off my list! My word this year will be 'calm'. Review things before I get angry, be at peace with where I am going in life and just not stress over things unnecessarily. We shall see how that goes!!

Goodbye 2008 and Hello 2009!! Maybe you bring a really good tomato harvest, complete with my tomato pests miraculously dissapearing.

Tomato Portraits
December 30, 2008
I was perusing The Heirloom Tomato last night and was in awe of the beauty of the tomato. So many varieties and such an interesting history. If the tomato wasn't introduced to Europe until after the exploration of the New World, what on earth did Italians make to eat??? There are particular tomatoes they mention that have been in Italian cusine for centuries, but I was thinking, what did they eat before marinara?

The other day I started making a list of all of the tomato seeds we have and what our stock was like, for future plantings. There were a few that I found only had one or two seeds, some that I'd received in a trade the summer we moved to the house and I think I tried them but I can't remember how they came out. The only one that I've grown all three years has been Arkansas Traveler. I think it will be a mainstay in my garden for years to come. Below is the list:
  1. Amazon Chocolate: Excellent, large and will grow often.
  2. Arkansas Traveler: one of my favorites! Perfect off the vine, cut and with a little salt.
  3. Black from Tula: Had a few last year and am trying this one again. No fruit yet as the plants were started later.
  4. Black Krim: I can't remember how this one fared. I tried it the first year we were here. I think it didn't make it.
  5. Black Plum: Another favorite. Didn't grow it this year.
  6. Ceylon Red: Lovely color and good for salsa and marinara.
  7. Copia: Was too shaded last year and produced only a few fruits. Growing this one again this year.
  8. Everglades Tomato: I grew this the past two years and it grows everywhere! They grow around the south Florida ag areas and you can find them wild. They will also last through our summer heat! I would like to grow them again in order to save enough to give some to the Seed Savers Exchange. I don't think I've seen them there.
  9. Fantom du Laos: Another iffy one from last year but we are growing it again...I think. It was weird, there were some white/yellow fruits on the same plant, when they were supposed to be red.
  10. Fruit and Spice Park tomato: Not sure what this tomato actually is, but I pilfered it from their veggie garden and wanted to grow it sometime. It's cherry like.
  11. Galapagos: Grown the past two year. Very good, very vigorous and good in the heat.
  12. Granny Smith Hybrid: I *love* this one too. My only question, it is supposed to be a hybrid, but I want to save the seeds and grow them again. I am wondering how true from seed they will come up. So, I will try these next year again. Very good for fried green tomatoes and salsa.
  13. Great White: *sigh*. I think I had one fruit last year but it may have rotted on the vine. This year the seedlings just didn't make it, which is why the Black from Tula were started late (and Lemon Boy), because they were put in the GW pot. I doubt I will try these again.
  14. Italian Heirloom: I remember these are being pretty good. I grew them the first year. I think I had some last year too, but I can't recall. It was mayhem last year.
  15. Japanese Black Trifele: My first year with these. So far, so good.
  16. Kellogg's Breakfast: Planted a little late last year to get a good crop in, but I was pleased with what I tasted. This year I grew them again and they verge on 1lb+. I love these and will grow them again!
  17. Lemon Boy: A hybrid but I loved it. I would grow it again, oh wait, I am! ;) I think they came true from seed.
  18. Mariana's Peace: A HUGE tomato! We had a few last year but we are going to have many this year. Not sure on the taste, not any ripe yet.
  19. Opalka Hook/Speckled Roma: We got these seeds from Amishland Seeds last year and she was calling them Opalka Hook because they came up in what was supposed to be the Opalka section. We have since deduced they are Speckled Roma. I can't comment on the taste yet. Very pretty, though!
  20. Porcupine tomato: A non-edible, ornamental tomato. Very cool!
  21. Pineapple Bicolor: Love the flavor on this tomato and it offers a nice constrast with the yellow and orange striping. Grown two years.
  22. Red Brandywine: I think I grew this the first year, but don't recall much about it.
  23. Reisentomate: This is a funky, funky tomato! It is all warty! You can break little pieces off just to eat or make it into salsa. I liked it for the ornamental effect.
  24. Schimmeig Striped Hollow: A new one this year. So far only rotten fruit. :(
  25. Sabre Ukraine: Very cool, long tomatoes!
  26. Stick: An interesting ornamental, but I don't think the fruit was very tasty. Very hard and more for show.
  27. Striped Togo Trifle: We are going to re grow this next year. A mutant variety that came off our Togo Trifle last year.
  28. Stump of the World: Grown this year and last, a lighter pink tomato with good flavor.
  29. Sungold: I miss this one. So sweet and good off the vine. Next year...I may end up with a line of small tomatoes...
  30. Sunmaster: I bought this from Home Depot last year and saved the seeds. It is a hybrid, but apparently Sun Gold is as well, but it has grown true from seed for me! I just found and interesting article that someone in Texas wrote that encourages seed saving from hybrids anyway. Apparently some hybrids are becoming harder to find? So...anyone?
  31. Tiny Tom: A very small plant with very small tomatoes and we saved just a few seeds.
  32. Tlacalula Pink: A super cool and crazy looking tomato! Love this one!
  33. Togo Trifle: Very ruffly and a good tasting tomato!
  34. Tomatillo: what more can I say? Excellent green salsa!
  35. Variegated: We didn't grow this one this year, which I am surprised about, but the variegated tomato is an excellent addition to the garden!
  36. Voyage: like the Reisentomate, but a little bit larger and different!
  37. Yellow Ruffle: A beautiful tomato!
  38. Zapotec: Growing this one again this year. I don't recall the taste, but it is a deep red color.
Now that I have bored you with my list of tomatoes I will show you some beautiful tomato portraits!
stump of the world
Stump of the World. Not the best face forward, but a beautiful one nonetheless.

Samson's Tomato
'Samson's Tomato'. A temporary name for a tomato that's origin is unknown. It is growing in my pineapple bi color pot, but it is not a PB. It is larger than a sungold, smaller than a 'normal' sized tomato. Maybe an inch from top to bottom. Has an orange-yellow color. I'm wondering if something crossed last year? Sungold and Galapagos? Sungold and PB? I plan on saving these seeds and growing them again next year. If I can't find another tomato like it I will name it Samson's Tomato. Sammy just happened to be hanging out with me while I was discussing this oddball with Chris.

Sabre Ukraine 3
Sabre Ukraine.

Sabre Ukraine 1
Sabre Ukraine in the sun glow.

Pineapple Bi Color 1
Pineapple Bicolor. We are having to pick them when they just turn, otherwise they are rotting because the bugs are getting them.

Mariana's Peace 3
Mariana's Peace.

Kellogg's Breakfast 1
Kellogg's Breakfast.

Japanese Black Trifele 2
Japanese Black Trifele

Japanese Black Trifele 1
JBT in the sunglow.

Galapagos 1
Galapagos. Like candy.

Arkansas Traveler 1
Arkansas Traveler. They made the sunglow appearance, but currently two are off with a coworker and another two are cut up in the fridge at work, ready for me to eat tomorrow.

Amazon Chocolate 2
Amazon Chocolate.

Are you ready to grow your own yet???

Colorful Fairchild
December 29, 2008
Eliana & Marc are finally in TEJAS! Which means they are inching closer to returning home from their trip across North America. Which means they are closer to getting their big, stinky, rotten super sweet woggie back. The big butt is laying here on the futon, up against my right leg, wishing he could just put his mug on my laptop. ;) To celebrate their arrival in Texas I am listening to Pat Green, which you can sample on my playlist on the left hand side. The songs are towards the end. Good, Texas country. Add them to your road trip songs, guys!

On Saturday Chris and I made our bi or tri-annual trip to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. We had two free passes because when we joined the American Orchid Society garden it said that we could get reciprocal entry to a list of gardens. Fairchild was on that list, but there was also a stipulation that gardens within a certain distance may not observe that reciprocity. Chris asked, they said no, but sent us two free passes.
blue and gold macaws
One of the first things we do when we enter is head straight to the left of the entrance and check out the ylang-ylang. It was blooming and as we were sniffing away at the fragrance, we heard parrots. We looked up to find five blue and gold macaws flying across the sky. They went over to some royal palms in the lowland area and started gnawing away at the fronds. These are wild parrots in Miami. Wayyyy back during Hurricane Andrew the Miami Metro Zoo lost a lot of birds and other animals when the hurricane passed over. Also, people have let their birds go over the years. Many of these birds are little Quaker parakeets, but occasionally and somewhat rarely, will you see large parrots. Chris said he'd seen some before, but this was the first time I've seen wild parrots! Anyway, here are some of my favorites. A few are Chris' and I will note when those pop up.
chris cute

I should have turned the f-stop up a little on this one to get a bit more in plane. The eye is out of focus, but I like how you can see the hairs on the legs and the grip on the plant.
Chris was ooggling over this flower, which I don't know the name.
milkweed bugs
I think in the past year the garden has really put some oomph into their butterfly garden. It might be one of my favorite spots in the garden, but then I like just about all of the spots! These little milkweed bugs were good for me to pose.

Chris took this little pipevine that was growing in the butterfly garden. No caterpillars on the vine, but these flowers are very tiny!
I am not a fan of the flash, but Chris likes to take photos with the our external flash and he really nailed this one, I think. It is a rhipsalis and I have the species name but I don't recall it at the moment...will have to look through the photos later.
rhipsalis 2
Another of Chris' flash photos. Both were taken in the greenhouse.
water flower
This Zen photo was courtesy of Chris, too.
water lily
The pond was aglow with beautiful water lilies.
baobab tree hugger
And one should always hug the local baobab tree!!!

My friend Christine is currently raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. She will be doing a virtual walk these year, which is a walk on your own time but you record it as having done the walk, and I will more than likely try to join her when she does her walk. Last year I was able to donate to her campaign and this year I need to go the extra mile and do the walk and donate again. Besides Christine, I know of another person, an online friend whose sister has MS, and pending a final diagnosis, a very close person in my life. That is 3 people. 3 people too many. I am sure you know someone who has a disease that has no known cure. If you can't donate to the MS Society, please think about doing a run or a walk for another cause that will benefit the person you love. Thanks for listening!

A Quiet Christmas
December 26, 2008
It was a quiet Christmas here in the Little house. Just me, Chris, Samson, Leo and Baloo.
christmas 2008 006
We managed to not sleep in too late and got up to mosey about the kitchen. Chris started making tomato sauce and cinnamon rolls and we decided to let the animals 'open' their presents. Baloo got a large rawhide, which there is only one end left, and a sock monkey. I made the mistake of buying a squeaky toy and he ripped it apart to get the squeaky part out. He is still carrying it around now, even thought the squeaker is gone.
christmas 2008 018
Samson and Leo got catnip mice and some very tasty treats that were made out of tuna and lobster! The lobster really does smell like fresh lobster! They are soft, food-like treats that I found in the food aisle of Petsmart.
christmas 2008 033
Leo enjoyed playing with his mice on my new messenger bag that my parents got me.
christmas 2008 035
Samson even played with the mice a little bit and then got a little tired and had to roll about on the floor for awhile.

Most of the day was spent lazing about in bed and then making some lunch in the mid-afternoon. The best part of the day was video conferencing on AIM with my family back in Texas. I got to see Zoe 'opening' some of her presents from my parents and from me.
christmas 2008 048
She was fussy for a little bit at the beginning and I found out she is starting to teethe! OWWW! They decided to put her in a Christmas bag and she actually kinda liked it! That's my mom in the middle and my sister in law Stephanie on the right.
christmas 2008 057
I swear, that girl cleaned up! She had stacks of presents! I have fond memories of Christmas too because we always got a good Christmas (even this year!!) growing up.
christmas 2008 062
She was tuckered out! At least she is enjoying her blanket her Auntie made her!
christmas 2008 064
My brother must make a lot of funny faces like this because...
christmas 2008 073
she is in a laughing stage right now! Just giggling and smiling like crazy! And putting her hands in her mouth!
christmas 2008 074
Such a sweetie.
christmas 2008 088

christmas 2008 092
Mmm, this hand tastes yummy!
christmas 2008 098
Leo's other favorite present was the empty box that my messenger bag came in! This rascal loves laundry baskets and suitcases, too.

As for the gift cards, I decided to buy several items. Last night I bought a table top easel with a drawer on the side from Jerry's Artarama. Today I ventured out and about and bought two books at Barnes & Noble, The Heirloom Tomato, which I found out about in a seed catalog, and another book that I hadn't intended on getting until I saw it, Liquid Land: A journey through the Everglades, which looks fantastic from what I started reading in the aisle. I really started drooling the minute I saw the tomato book and then I searched in the garden section to no avail. I went to the cooking section intending to search for canning books and I found the tomato book! Score! Just from skimming it looks fairly good! After all of that I went to the big outlet mall and I shouldn't have even gone in. CROWDED! I really wanted to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond to see about some cookware and/or sheets and then detoured through Target to pick up some photos and it was downhill from there. I managed to find a few small things at BBB and then found sheets at the JC Penney's outlet and then had to come home for some sleep!

I have to get some yard work done this week. We need a new lawn mower so I am sure that is on the agenda. I've decided I will probably end up buying some plants for the vegetable garden. I haven't watered enough and most everything is still very, very small. And depressing looking. It's just too hard to get outside when I get home from work. I hate darkness at 6pm!!!

Catching Up
December 22, 2008
I'm trying to think of where December has gone. In fact, where 2008 has gone. There is still a little over a week left of December but I feel like it is speeding on by. Dad has gone home and it is just Chris and I for Christmas. I didn't quite finish everything I wanted to make for Christmas and I am ok with that. I decided not to stress about it. I will make them middle of the year presents! I did finish one present for my Secret Santa that I arranged with a few of my friends.
ocean granny
I put together this granny square blanket from some yarn that I had in my stash and I am happy with the color combination.
ocean granny 2
I have one other item I made but I can't show it until I Christmas day when it is opened by my cutie niece. ;)

Dad and I went to see a movie last night, Rachel Getting Married, last night. I was worried at first because the camera shake was making me a little nauseous, but it cleared up and the movie was really good. I recommend this movie if you are looking for something different during the holidays. I would like to watch a few more movies over the next week, so if you've seen something good, let me know.

Look at these pretties!. I am coughing at the price, but those are pretty! Speaking of pretties I have $125 in gift cards to spend...any idea of how I can spend them? Books? Music? Movies? Clothes??? I can't decide.

Blowing Rocks Preserve
December 20, 2008
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 033
Today Chris and I took my dad up to Tequesta to the Blowing Rocks Preserve. Chris and I had tried to go last September but we had Baloo with us and dogs are not allowed on the beach. It seemed like a great idea to take Dad to this little place, especially since we hadn't been there before. We started off by walking south along the beach.
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 171
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 040
The rock outcropping is called Anastasia limestone and is very cool and unique for Florida.
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 127
The waves come in from the Atlantic and sweep up under the outcroppings and cause these loud crashes. We dodged a few and ended up with wet pants as we tried to escape the waves.
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 171
After we went back to the car to eat lunch, you can't bring food on the beach, we walked around the boardwalk on the lagoon side and then came back to see the waves at high tide. They did get bigger as they day went on. Right when we arrived and had started walking down the beach I spotted a sea turtle. Not too long after we started to notice many more turtles coming up for air and diving back down to the reef that was right off the beach. How cool! I have never seen anything like that before, turtles swimming along the shore. My first encounter with a sea turtle was when I was, I think in highschool, and we were vacationing in Port Aransas, TX. We were jumping waves like normal and something surface two feet in front of me. At first I thought it was a sea snake because of the head (not realizing we didn't have sea snakes) and then I comprehended it was a sea turtle! Aside from my sea turtle internship and seeing nesting turtles on the beach, I have only seen two other sea turtles in the water while I was swimming. So, we're oohing and ahhing the sea turtles when I notice a very large olive colored object in the water. I was thinking a massive loggerhead and then it surfaced. A manatee!!! This is another first for me! I have seen manatee's in creeks and rivers and even in Biscayne Bay if you count that as the ocean, but not in the open ocean on the beach front! That was pretty darn awesome! Chris wasn't nearby with the camera so no photo from him and my dad tried to snap a photo with his little digital but I don't know how well that came out.
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 250
Once Chris was done with the camera I put on the 300mm and decided to sit in the chair and wait for the turtles to surface. I had been watching two of them, which had surfaced at the same time once, and knew I could get a photo if I just waited. And boy was that difficult! My arm started cramping and we could tell about how long they took between surfacing and this was the first photo I got. It was blurry, which is a dissapointment.
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 262
I got a couple more 'ok' photos and then we decided to walk down the beach for awhile because the two we'd been following seemed to have moved elsewhere.
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 284
The waves started picking up more and more and Chris told me he'd found one outcropping that did not get wet.
My Little Friend
And then we started seeing two little juvy turtles swimming around. This was the best one I got out of that round of photo taking. Chris had his polarizing sunglasses on and was able to tell when they were about to surface, but I was having a slower reaction time and I missed a few good shots. I am happy with this one!
Blowing Rocks Preserve 12-20-08 317
Chris was able to get a few good ones as well after I nabbed my money shot. ;) Then we noticed one of the turtles came up fast and then took off and we thought it was because it saw us.
There is a shark in this photo.
But, it was really because of this shark that swam by! Yes, there is a shark in that photo! Look hard! Chris thinks it was a bull shark, but we can't be positive on the identification. It cruised on by to the south and we headed back to the car.

If you are looking for a good place to go in Florida, I highly recommend this park. It is $2 a person to get in and I don't think you will be dissapointed!

My dad is here for one more day and leaves on Monday morning. We've been having a good time so far! I am blogging from my spiffy new laptop (that isn't an Apple, much to the dismay of Marc & Eliana)! A very nice present from Santa Claus. ;) Chris gets to use it too, but it is fun to be able to be wherever in the house and not tied down. It also has a video camera and I got to talk to Marc and Eliana via AIM and they got to see Baloo. I also got to talk to my mom and I hope I can see Zoe tomorrow when she goes over with my brother and sister in law to have Sunday lunch at my parents house.

Well, that's about it for this week. I am going to just relax for the rest of the week with a few days of work at the beginning. I have more tomato seeds to add to Etsy and hope to get those up soon. Granny Smith, pineapple bicolor, Amazon chocolate and Sabre Ukraine. Happy Saturday!

The Christmas Tomato
December 17, 2008
stump of the world
We're beginning to experience the rapid onset of tomato harvest here in SoFlo. The point where no mater how dark it is about to get when you get home you must go outside and pick tomatoes or the bugs will get them the next day. This one is called 'Stump of the World' and though it isn't the finest specimen of the plant, it is a very nice tomato.
galapagos tomatoes
The Galapagos are going crazy as well. I hadn't expect such a flush or color on the plant and had to pick a lot.
the harvest
This is what I picked yesterday. The green ones are called Granny Smith and stay green with a slight tinge of yellow/amber and are very solid. They are supposed to be great fried green tomatoes. I made green salsa with them the other day and tonight as well. I threw in some tomatillos to go along with it. My mom sent us a canner this year so we will be canning all of our salsa instead of freezing it. We hope to make a lot of spaghetti sauce too!
tomatoes today
Here is yesterday's harvest intermingling with today's harvest. You can see the Amazon Chocolate in the middle background, and to the left of them are some pineapple bi-color and in front is a better fruit of the Stump of the World.

My dad is coming in tomorrow for a long weekend! I am excited! :)

Cuddly Love
December 14, 2008
See, dogs and cats can get along! Aside from Samson leaning away from the stinky dog, they are cozy aren't they? Hehehe! And Samson should have had his eye boogies picked before getting his portrait taken, but oh well, I was asleep and Chris was snapping shots. Samson has the worst eye boogie problem! I am constantly getting them out of his eyes! The three of them were all being cute the other day on the bed but one of them got spooked and moved and the whole herd got up. *oh well*.

I am feeling better today. I took a Claritin and some cough medicine I found from last spring at the allergists and took that last night. I still have some congestion and my ears are not quite open all the way yet, but I am working on recovering! Thank goodness! I was worried it would drag itself into Christmas. I managed to make it to Bobby's birthday party (see my Thanksgiving posts for cute Bobby photos!) and had a good time hanging out with friends at the party. And eating. I am so dissapointed that I only got to use two days of my trial gym membership last week. Coming down with the cold ruined going later in the week so my workouts are off.

My caching friend Jenn made this super cool ornament and I got one last week when we were at Cacheapalooza. She should open an Etsy shop!!! *hint hint*!

Speaking of Etsy shops I have had a lot of sales lately for seeds! This is awesome for me! ;) I am at 75 sales and I can't believe it. I know it souns like practically nothing but for me it is huge. I was going through my seeds tonight and trying to get them into pre made packs so I don't have to sort when I am getting an order in. I am also planning on hitting the art hard in the new year and having some smaller pieces up for sale. I didn't renew my pencil drawing of the tillandsia because I wanted more art work to go with it, so I need to get cracking once the holidays are over.

I'm about halfway through with Breaking Dawn and am loving it so far! It might be my favorite of the series. I will have to get back on that when I finish, though! I have one more Christmas present to make and I am done. I got 3/4 of my cards in the mail and have to finish the rest tomorrow. I am ready to relax the rest of Christmas time!

December 13, 2008
I'm sick. And I don't feel any better. The glands are hurting, the nose is dripping, the ears are closing up. *sigh*. I think I will end up at the urgent care place later today. Mr. Robitussen just isn't doing enough but put me to sleep.

In happier news I am trucking along with my
December Daily album. It is so easy to just print the pictures, glue 'em on and then add a few more embellishments if you want. WOO for simple things! Here are a few....
album 2
I bought that mug in Fernandina Beach. It is exactly what I was looking for in a holiday mug!
december daily album 006

december daily album 008

You can see the rest of the album so far, here. I would definitely go with this approach again with an album. I rarely scrapbook now and I am glad I will have an album at the end of the month! I also like adding the writing in Photoshop prior to printing. I will do about four or five days and then go get them printed so that I don't have a back log of photos to add.

A couple of things to note:
  1. A few months ago Chris won a backpack off of for a photo contest. We don't actually need the back pack. It is in brand new condition. It is a Lowe Alpine AirZone Centro 45+10 in cobalt/granite. It is worth $180 and we are asking $100 plus shipping of about $9 via UPS ground. If you are interested you can contact me at oceanicwilderness at gmail dot com and we can coordinate how you can paypal money to us. This is a great backpack for a weekend or a short trip.
    For sale! $100

    For sale! $100

  2. I need some prayers for a few friends right now. I can't really elaborate at the moment, but they really need some support. Thanks.
Today is full of chores, catching up on writing Christmas cards, a work Christmas party for Chris, the doctor, and watching the rest of A Christmas Story later today.

Caching in the Pinelands
December 9, 2008
A long time ago, really up until about two years ago, we
geocached a lot. One late summer we got turned on to it when Chris' dad read an article in the newspaper about it. Chris looked up some caches nearby us in Melbourne and it started a good three year addiction. We moved to South Florida and though we cached for about a good year down here, we slowly tapered off only doing some caches here and there and placing just a few. We stopped being the die-hards we were. It was very different in those beginning years. Numbers were a big thing, but at the same time it was also about the hunt. If we had continued caching like we had initially we should have well into the thousands, but we are still lingering in the 500+ range that we've been in for three years. At least since Hurricane Wilma, because our 500th was a caching race event that our team won. Only crazy cachers would go several hours up state to do a an event and have to drive back the day before the hurricane comes to put the shutters up. (we went six days without power after.)

So, this year we went to the third annual Cacheapalooza at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. We mostly go to see old faces that we knew back in our hey-day and do some hiking and lazing about. This year it was even bigger than the previous two years. The point of all this is Chris and I actually found three caches and were first to find on two! Being first to find is an amazing feat, especially in a high competitive cacher area. Chris would go out way after dark when we were in Melbourne to be FTF on a cache and would usually run into someone we knew trying to do the same thing! I miss those exciting days! heh! Our first cache is actually still active! I used to run at Turkey Creek all the time.
cacheapalooza december 6, 2008 032
Baloo wasn't very good at helping us find a cache, but he sure did like being off his leash on the further parts of the trail!
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We had more fun with sticks...
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And trying to catch pinecones in the air.
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The pine beetles have really attacked this park and it makes for some interesting photos, but it is also depressing. The front area near US 1 is the most depressing with sticks of pine trees composing the forest. Baloo turned around at the perfect time for this one.
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You can see a little bit of the moon in this one.
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In a part of Jonathan Dickinson is an area called Camp Murphy, which used to be aan army radar training school in the 1940's. There are bunkers underneath the the dunes and our friend found an entrance to one of them. Chris and our friend ended up going down the treacherous ladder into the bunker so they could explore! This is what they saw...
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There were several rooms in this bunker and it even had a bathroom!
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I thought about going down but then I looked at the photos and decided that that was plenty enough for me. Plus, it smelled musty and really old. Blech!!!

So, the past two days I've been to the gym. I LOVE this gym and I hope I can get a membership. The problem is, I don't know if I want a year membership. I mean, I do a lot outside in the summer, but they do have a pool and racquetball courts. I'll have to see. Anyway, I am motivated again!!

Holiday Baking
December 7, 2008
This morning Chris got up well before dawn to go hunting with some of his friends from work. Pig hunting. The wild pigs in Florida aren't native and are very habitat destructive so we figured that it was 'ok' for him to go hunt. Ok, I wasn't making this decision, but he figured it would be ok to hunt pigs. In his research of hunting regulations he found out that you can still hunt bobcat and otter here. Seriously. That seems like the dumbest thing I've ever heard. The otter population is very sparse, at least in my non-population study based opinion, but they aren't common. Bobcats are the same, they are around, but you don't come across them much. It's just very weird. So, Chris went hunting and I stayed in bed with a doggie that actually slept until 9:30 with me. We went to a geocaching event yesterday and he did some hiking and had an overall good day of licking every person who walked by, and an an exciting encounter with a not very disciplined pit-bull that didn't like him too much, so I think he was just exhausted.

We had a leisurely breakfast and then I sat down on the bed to watch Christmas Child while I finished up a present I was making and did some gift wrapping. The movie is really good and I bought it a few years ago because Megan Follows is in it. I haven't watched it in awhile and it was a perfect movie to wrap up the morning. I debated what to do afterwards, my list of things to do definitely not going to be completed in one day. So, I sat down to sew for awhile after I had a bite of lunch. Then it was off to the mall to get my hair cut and do some browsing/shopping. I love the mall at holidays, but it wasn't as busy as I expected. Lots of sales going on, some very low prices in many stores and great deals if you are looking for one. I bought some black boots for half off at Sears and stopped in Bath & Body Works for their 3/$10 soaps they have a few times a year.
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Chris still wasn't home when I got back at 5, but he returned shortly after with no pigs. Apparently the pigs were smart and have headed to an adjacent property during the season! I ended up making some white chocolate pretzels. I was supposed to use almond bark, but we only found Baker's white chocolate and I should have bought at least two more packages because this is all it made. I dug out some cookie sprinkles and then I also crushed up a few of the soft Bob's candy canes to dip them in with the chocolate. Yum!!! I will go back for more chocolate or almond bark later this week, but it made enough to be a nice treat for us for the next few days.

This week will be full of wrapping up Christmas gifts I am making, doing some other miscellaneous crafting and heading to the gym. I am trying out a one week trial membership to a gym near me and hope it kick starts me to working out. The memberships aren't too expensive at the moment so I think I'll probably sign up. More holiday baking to come!

St. Augustine
December 6, 2008
I know, I am a week behind, but I still wanted to blog about our trip down to St. Augustine when we went to Jacksonville. On Saturday morning the boys went fishing again and so the girls drove down to St. Augustine to start some shopping and see the historic city. We ended up meeting the guys for lunch there and then walking around
Castillo de San Marcos an old fort that is located in the oldest European settled city in North America. Walking around this city it is hard to think you could find buildings this old in Florida. Florida is so new and most old buildings are only 100 years old, if that, and most are torn down for rebuilding. Anyway, here are some of the photos we took.

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Randy had to test out the accommodations...not too comfy.
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When you are a 300+ year old fort you are bound to get graffiti over the years. Apparently a Chris & Mistie (notice the e there) happened to pen their names in this turret so it was appropriate that a Chris & Misti took their photo in there. ;) Thanks Kathy for doing the honors!
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One of the gems was a reenactment, where they shot some of the canons. The main actor states what they will do and then proceeds to do it all in Spanish and with the actual formality that it would have been done.
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An old sail boat happened to be sailing by as it was taking place!
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Cover your ears!!
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Kathy hated this room, which we found out was a storage room and not a jail, but she got the heebie-jeebies from it. I felt fine in that one, but we walked into one room, which led to another, and then to a smaller room which led to a passageway you had to crawl through and into this very dark room at the end of the fort. THAT was creepy.
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After we finished with the fort we meandered through Old St. Augustine which is full of shops and curisosities. Some of the shops were too touristy, some were interesting and the best was the Authentic Old Drugstore. Kathy and I ended up buying several bags of loose leaf tea, which are very good!
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Lots of Christmas lights decorating the streets...
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That's about it for St. Augustine. I'd like to go back and go through more of the shops and head over to the beach area, but that will have to wait awhile.

O'Christmas Tree
December 5, 2008
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Guana State Park
December 2, 2008
Before we had our Thanksgiving dinner we all went out to
Guana River State Park to do some pre-food hiking. The drive down A1A was beautiful and reminiscent of the drive from Melbourne to Sebastian Inlet, very peaceful and full of dunes. We arrived at the state park to find many others with the same idea, either pre or post Thanksgiving meal hiking.
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The walk to the river was about a mile and it was a gorgeous walk full of oaks and pine trees. Chris tried to help me climb a really cool oak, but we had a balance issue that resulted in me falling and scraping my knee. I swear I saw the most armadillo's ever in this park! They were all over and any rustling in the leaves was bound to be a 'dillo.
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At the river was an old shell mound that was made by a tribe from long ago. We walked along the shore looking at the plethora of shells and some of them had fun skipping shells on the river.
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Between Chris, me, Randy and Kathy we documented the entire beach! Hah! There were so many little scenes to take photos of.
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Anyone want to go sailing?
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The late afternoon sun was twinkling off the small inlet that moved between the river and the marsh.
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The marshes up here remind me so much of Texas. I love salt marshes. I! There is so much going on in these areas that I love to poke around and see everything. Plus, they are a beautiful area full of birds and sea life and it is much prettier to see them than all of the building around here.
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Kathy found a super tiny little crab in the mud! I couldn't believe how small it was, it was almost microscopic!
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On the way back we took a side trail and we found several clumps of the green fly orchid, Epidendrum conopseum. We were surprised to find many in bloom, too!

Around the house I am just trying to work steady on Christmas presents. I am dumbfounded at how quickly it all snuck up on me. I worked out yesterday! I've decided to keep cardio to weekends when I actually have time for it, and the daylight, and weights and some indoor cardio/circuit stuff. I can really feel how out of shape I am and I am noticing my back hurting again since I stopped doing the pushups several months ago. The fact is, I have to work out to feel good. It isn't about the jeans fitting, though it is part of it, but it is also how sore and rickety I started to feel. So, out with that an in with working out again. *strong*!

And following in the footsteps of Robin I created a Christmas mixtape! ;) Enjoy!

The First of December
December 1, 2008
Oh Thanksgiving. It was a whirwind weekend up in Jacksonville. We made it up there on Wednesday night despite a detour in Melbourne because of an accident. Our friend's Robert and Michelle recently moved up there to put down roots. I had been to Jacksonville a few times when my friend Stephanie lived up there to go to grad school at UNF and liked the area then. When we got to their neighborhood and we were still unloading the truck, Chris told us to come outside because there were two foxes running down the road! Sure enough they were there and they were very quiet. They hung around for a few minutes before, of course, we decided to get the camera and they dissappeared. *sigh*.
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Baloo had a good time up there and loved the back yard. The backyard backs up to this wooded area, so he was in heaven.
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Bobby is Michelle and Robert's one year old. I remember seeing him when he was just a few weeks old last year at the reef club Christmas party. He has grown up a lot! Baloo and Bobby got along for the most part, but Baloo was a bit too excited with him and so we tried to keep Baloo in the Florida room while Bobby crawled around and then let Baloo in when the baby was in the playpen or up being held by someone. Bobby liked Baloo so much we was able to say 'Boo' after a short while hanging with him!
Their house was awesome! I never thought I would drool over a laundry room, but it was a large walk in with space for hanging clothes and then it had its own sink!! Yes, I wanted this house! The Thanksgiving meal was quite good, a deep fried turkey with lots of very good sides. Stuffing, macaroni(which I didn't eat...:( ) and awesome artichoke/spinach caserole, wild rice, bread, gravy, oh I could keep rambling on. It was quite good! Of course we were all stuffed to the gills afterwards, but that's the point.
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This is Chris' cool aerial shot. The only people missing are Robert, top left, Chris and then Michelle's mom who would be in the bottom left.

The entire weekend was great. Lots of shopping and sightseeing. The guys fished a lot and the girls went to Amelia island on Friday and then on Saturday we all went to St. Augustine. There are a lot more photos to share and so I will space them out over the week. St. Augustine was beautiful and very cool! I really fell for that whole coast up there. Forests and quiet, but a little bit of city, too.

Today I am starting my December Daily album and I started off with a photo of the small tomato harvest we had today. We came back to find several plants laying over due to some high wind over the weekend and so we had to stake them before they broke off.
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I had the Arkansas traveler for dinner (the big one). It tasted just how it should and I knew that it was an Arkansas traveler. Mmmmmm!

Happy December! The rest of the posts are in the archives. I am going to rework the archives soon so they are easier to go read through. They need to be broken down into pieces.

November 26, 2008
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And so, I think my NaBloPoMo is ending. We are going up the state to spend the weekend with friends and I don't think I will be able to blog while I am away! I am amazed I made it this far. I had a few days where I really didn't want to write, but it has pushed me to think a little bit more about writing in here. I hope to keep it up a little bit more than I used to, several time a week instead of once or twice. Anyway, have a beautiful holiday and I will see you in December!

November 25, 2008
On Saturday we went up to the
American Orchid Society gardens in Delray Beach and were delighted to find an orchid sale/exhibition going on as well. I didn't get the names of any of the orchid that I have photos of, but a few that I know because I have them or have seen them before, but here are some photos of the beautiful flowers we saw. Some are by Chris and some are by me.

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10 point for someone to guess who took which! ;) Ok, maybe I can actually find something to sweeten the deal, but the person who gets the most right will get a little prize. Probably some seeds from my stash, but you know, something fun!

Bought Eclipse tonight. ;) Surprisingly it hasn't been cracked open yet.

November 23, 2008
I am in my head right now. When I get involved in a series or just a really good book it is incredibly hard to come out. Just thinking over scenes, words, moments. One of those times that you ruminate over it for a week or two and then it will slowly pass. I saw the Twilight movie today and that didn't help any, it just made it all the worse. It made me want to pick up New Moon and start it immediately. I am trying to hold off until I get a few things done. When I was young I got grounded from my books. It sounds awful, grounding someone from reading, but if that is their pleasure source, what they will go to instead of doing chores, it works. I hated it. There was nothing better than cozying up in my corner in the room and reading for hours on end. It was much more fun to pretend you were the character in the book than to come back to the reality that seemed so much more mundane.

Here are some of the books and series that I have enjoyed and will stay on my bookshelves forever.
  1. The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery and anything else written by her. I come to these time and time again, finding new things out every time.
  2. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. These thick books will take a few months to get through, but they are very well written and so awesome.
  3. Anything written by Francine Rivers, particularly The Scarlet Thread, Redeeming Love, the Atonement Child, and the Mark of the Lion series.
  4. Just about anything by Phillipa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl in particular, but anything about the Tudor history is great.
  5. The Color Purple. It makes the movie even better.
  6. Harry Potter. 'nuff said. Book 7 is the best.
  7. The Mists of Avalon. I read it before I saw the movie.
  8. Eat, Pray, Love. A must read non-fiction.
There are more but I will save them for another day. Clive Cussler is another good writer.

24.5 hours later...
November 22, 2008
I finished the book! I don't know if I can recommend it to anyone, you just have to either be into vampires, teen novels and like reading a series. Lots of lust and love, too. Not the best novel or writing in the world, but definitely worth reading if you want something to take up your time for awhile. It's always good to be wrapped up in something like that. Find yourself a cozy spot for a few days and get settled! I plan on seeing the movie, even though I am afraid to, and getting the second book tomorrow. I am trying not to let it interfere too much with my Christmas craftings, but we'll see how that goes!

We had our first tomato harvest the other day. What you don't see in the photo is a little Galapagos tomato that I ate. ;) The tomatillo's were made into a salsa for our taco's tonight! And actually, these were handmade by Chris as they are the ones he planted and maintains. The little tags I got when I traded in some other name tags that I had. I have no idea where they came from but I had them sitting around awhile and on the back they said you could trade them in for any name. So I went online to see if the company was even in business, the labels looked really old, and sure enough I emailed and they said I could send them back in! Then, the other day they were in the mail! Sweet!

Other than that I am relatively boring tonight! Sorry! Too engrosed in my own thoughts to write anything down.

Orchids and Twilight
November 21, 2008
Well, I was actually going to post something decent. Instead I am now sucked into
Twilight. Yes, it is that good. This should have been around 10 years ago. Edward is going down into Mr. Darcy-dom. And Jamie Fraser-dom. Hello fictional hotness. So until I reemerge in probably only a days time (I'm already on page 200 and started at 7:30 tonight. It's 10:21 as I type.) I will post a pretty orchid photo for you to enjoy. :) Chris took these on the Potts Preserve up near Ocala several months ago. Prem (see sidebar) gave us a lead on where to look for them and Chris and his friend Rick made a blitz trip to the preserve one day and to Triple N Ranch on the way back. The orchid is Pteroglossaspis pottsii.

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Oh Etsy, How Do I Love Thee???
November 20, 2008

Everyone is all about Etsy right now on the blogs. That is my 123 subscriptions on Google Reader. The worst thing about Google Reader is their discover new blogs feature, because there is always another new blog to discover! So many beautiful crafting blogs, art blogs, running blogs. Sometimes if I get behind on the reading I hit 'mark all read', but in general I read the 10-20 that I love right off the bat and then filter through the rest. So, Etsy is a renewed addiction for Christmas. So many beautiful little items, some affordable, some not. I mean, I can find some awesome paintings that are a few hundred dollars and wish I had lots of places to display them! I get annoyed when I see shipping prices, some are marked appropriately and some aren't. I don't like how people can't seem to adjust their 'if shipped with another item' option to actually being lower than their intial shipping price. That right off the bat will deter me. Not that I am an intense Etsy shopper, but in general. *sigh* Etsy is so good.

My friend from college, Katie, participated in a
beach cleanup in Hawaii. You will not believe how many fishing nets were pulled from the beach! These are nets that fisherman use and have drifted throughout the ocean killing who knows how many animals. This is a good reason you should make responsible seafood choices! She's quoted at the end of the article and I wish I had her guts to do the no plastic challenge! I may try for a day, but a year. It would take some planning and alot of saying 'no'.

I'll share a few of my favorite blogs from my reader:

Quiet Wednesday
November 19, 2008
Kirby Sorter Board Walk
Photo by Chris Little at Kirby Storter Boardwalk in Big Cypress National Preserve.

Feeling ick tonight. Think I am getting the cold that everyone around me has. Off for a shower and early bed. Wishing I had hot chocolate.

Remembering on a Tuesday evening
November 18, 2008
I was thinking today and a few days ago that something was coming up. I had to check tonight to make sure. And it was.
9 years ago the Aggie Bonfire fell. It is hard to believe it has been that long. I remember Chris' mom calling his dorm very early in the morning before we had class and telling him that the bonfire fell. When he told me I thought it was the one on East Beach, the one the SeaAggies put on. Chris and I were planning on driving up for this bonfire, to actually see an Aggie bonfire burn. And we never got that chance. There was talk in the spring and summer after, of reviving it, trying to save this tradition. Aggieland is steeped in tradition. That is something I love about the campus. The little rituals and things that make you feel part of the family. But, where would these 12 Aggies be if the Bonfire had not fallen? They would have jobs and families and a life, nine years later.

We saw the site a week later at the A&M/Texas football game. It was full of somber as you walked around looking at the signs on the orange fencing, looking at the logs haphazardly laying in a pile. There really aren't words. Just remembrance and sadness.

November 17, 2008
13:25. That's how fast I ran a mile tonight. It was painful getting through it. I get bored half way through and yearned to stop. My legs were screaming, my ears hated me for not wearing a hat to keep the cold breeze out of my ears. I have a horrible sensitivity to wind and cold and my ears will hurt for awhile afterwards. Eliana has been harassing keeping tabs on me with our weight loss plan. I failed miserably last week because I was just darn lazy. I don't count out Saturday because I did walk around a bit and yesterday was full of yard work, but if I want to see results it means working hard. And working hard when it is dark when you get home is miserable. For now I think one mile runs will be it until I get better endurance again and also until it stays lighter outside. That means weights and some cardio circuits inside. It is good to have some accountability, though. Eliana will be losing tons of weight and I will still be rolly polly. We can't have that, can we??

Today I taught school. Sorta. Today was
GIS Day, (technically on Wednesday but we had something else to do), and so I took all of my GPS equipment, maps and posters, and a presentation to the school to give a talk on GIS and what we do with it where I work. I had more fun with the middle schoolers because they were a lot more responsive to questions and in general had fun. The highschoolers...not so much. The moment they came in I was instantly intimidated. I don't know why. Some talked, but I felt like it was very boring for them, and even if it wasn't, they didn't say otherwise! I even decorated some cookies and had some cool little 'toys' to give out, globe pencil sharpeners, erasers and GIS day pencils. So, maybe next year I will target the younger crowd??? It definitely made me rethink any idea I had about teaching. I always thought I'd enjoy teaching highschool science, marine science in particular, but I am not so sure, now! It was overall good and I would do it again, but I think I would prepare on some other things, more interactive games and such.

The holidays are upon us. I am a little put-off with the Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Especially on more than one station. I want to enjoy it but am afraid of being annoyed with it before December. I am already working on two handmade items. The one I showed you, the drawing for Kylen, and I am working on something else for a swap I am doing with some friends. I also have in the works something for little Zoe, but I haven't focused hard on it yet. I had intentions of doing at least two other handmade items but I haven't figured out if I will have the time or the initiative to do them yet. Even so, I will buy handmade for many items. I already bought a few small things on Etsy. I was viewing Etsy's search local section the other day and was oogling too many items. So many things I want but I can't find a good enough reason to buy them. I did buy this calendar for my desk at work and I was very happy with it. She shipped it so fast. I ordered on Friday and I think I had it on Monday or Tuesday. Like always, I am at a loss of what to buy Chris. I think we decided we'd buy a new tv. Our tv is from the late 90's and was mine in highschool. It is fuzzy and you can't make out some menu's on DVD's! I do know some things I want....such as....

  1. Kal's Love Life book. It's on sale and in Canadian dollars (which is better than US dollars, now, right?). Seriously. I want this book.
  2. Acid Tongue, Jenny Lewis' new album.
  3. An easel. I don't really 'need' it, but I keep trying to figure out what I can have that is expensive since Chris is spending money on a nice camera. I mean, it will be our camera, but you know. Oh wait....I know...
  4. I could totally go for one of these!! Blogging from bed...ah, what a nice thought!

I think this week sometime I will showcase some of Chris' photos. Sometimes I post them, but I try to stick to my photos. Chris got some good photos this weekend while he was using the Rebel and he took some orchid photos a few months back. He has some good stuff!

Dinner Island in Black & White
November 16, 2008
These days I don't seem to get the Canon too much when we are out hiking. It isn't that Chris won't give it to me, but half the time it isn't worth prying it from his hands to shoot a photo. So, I take the Fuji and hope for the best. I love how the Fuji takes black and white photos so I focused on that yesterday. (If all goes well, the Rebel will be mine in a few short months. Chris is selling his aquarium and getting a 5D. I really want to use that camera, too, but I will have to play with it when he doesn't have it glued to his hand).

We set off later in the day and our friend Randy came along with us. His wife came the last time we went back in the spring but she was sick this go around. Dinner Island is a fairly remote spot in the central part of the state, north of the Everglades and south of Lake Okeechobee. It is in the middle of ranching and farming land. Yesterday happened to be a family hunt day so we weren't alone, compared to the last time we were out there, and plenty of hunters were wandering around in camo and blaze orange. Good thing it wasn't deer hunting because the deer were out in the open and completely vulnerable! I also noticed we didn't see one turkey, which I think is odd.

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Hide and Seek
Look close...there is an animal in this photo.

Without a Top

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The Parting Shot
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When we first got to the dilapidated house we were about to head back to the car when we heard an owl hooting. It was in a barn behind the house so we circled around and walked through the barn, which was a little creepy, but full of good photo opportunities. The owl was sneaky and flew to a tree or wasn't in the barn to begin with, so we never saw it until the second time we came back late in the day.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Also, if you have a minute, check out the cover of "Jet Liner" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals on the playlist. It is really an awesome cover. Also, "Acid Tongue" by Jenny Lewis is phenomenal!

Cutie the Armadillo
November 15, 2008

Like my little friend??? We stumbled upon him at Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area today. The animals were mostly hiding today due to a family hunt day which involved hunting the wild hogs. We did see one hog late in the day and we told him he'd better take cover before morning!

More photos of Dinner Island tomorrow.

Friday Ramblings
November 14, 2008
TAMUG just posted their spring 2009 schedule since they will be reopening the campus up after Ike for the spring semester. The MARB schedule is here. MARB is short for marine biology and we used to say we were Marbie Barbies, or at least my freshman year. The schedule is bringing back memories. It is nice to see Dr. Rooker still teaching Marine Ecology and so I think about the field trips seining and collecting for lab. I'm highly disappointed that Dr. Harper is not teaching Invert (Invertebrate Zoology) because if you came out with an A it meant you absolutely had no life that semester. No, seriously. You had no life. I came out with a C and I studied my butt off. You try remember the tiniest bit of information on some little Family or Sub-Order. And all of the tests were comprehensive. Pure torture, but the kind of torture you only revel in later because you went through it, suffered through it and were all the better for it. A little trip down memory lane.

I was in the middle of watching Order of the Phoenix when Chris told me there was a shuttle launch tonight. So, we watched the first few seconds online and then dashed out front to see it light up the sky. Sure enough, directly north of us was a bright light in the sky going off over the Atlantic Ocean. I miss watching launches from Melbourne. That was even more fun because we were only 30 minutes away from Cape Canaveral. The launch was nice and bright and we saw the boosters fall off and then the shuttle was on its own.

Speaking of Order of the Phoenix, wow, that is such a good movie! I saw it in the theater and am in a Harry Potter mood right now. Technically we should be fawning over Half Blood Prince right now, but unfortunately we have to wait until next summer. Bah Humbug! The scene where Voldemort and Dumbledore are fighting is very reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader fighting in Star Wars Ep I. I am really looking forward to Mrs. Weasley fighting Bellatrix LeStrange in Deathly Hallows. I can't wait to hear, "Not my daughter, you bitch" as she waves her wand and kills Bellatrix. I can already hear the thunderous roar in the movie theater! And apparently you can get a t-shirt that says it! Ha!

sleeping leo

Leo says goodnight!

Not a lot to say
November 13, 2008
garden rose
Chris and I were talking about Flickr the other day, how there were so many good photographers out there. It is hard to make it in a business like that these days with everyone being able to save up for a DSLR and to eventually perfect their photography. I haven't decided how I feel about some of it, though. There are the truly beautiful and talented photographers that have had years of experience, have an excellent eye and the creativity to back it up. Then, there are the people who rely too heavily on Photoshop. Now, I Photoshopped the above because I was lacking a photo for today and I just like to have a photo with my writing for some reason. Now, it is obviously Photoshopped, which is fine. Photoshop is fine...sometimes. I get annoyed with it is overly done in order to just try to make something look better when you should have taken the time in the camera to do it. I realize I may be alone in my opinion, but I think the better photographers know how to get the shot in the camera and do minor tweaking in Photoshop. What I am really not fond of is the blatant removal and replacement of things. Like people. And objects. This drives me nuts! By minor tweaking I mean adjusting the ISO or your white balance a little, but again you should be trying to get those correct in the camera. Of course there are circumstances that call for fixing these things, like the fly by the seat of your pants photo that you just had no time to adjust because the opportunity was there and it was breezing by. Ok, fine. I just wish it was acknowledged more.

In my photography class we discussed Photoshop and how some consider it a tool like the darkroom was a tool to film photographers. Sure, like I said about balancing. But it really peeves me a little to learn about the movement of objects within a photo and not acknowledge you altered it. To me that turns photographer into art, which by that I mean, a sort of mixed media/altered art. In art you can draw what you want, where you want. You can option to leave something out if you are drawing from a photograph. That's the liberty of the artist. But to me, photography is seeing an image from the camera how it really was. I don't even know if what I said makes sense. What I mean is that I want to see how you cropped it from the camera, how you turned the shutter speed up so less light would come in in order to make the image a little bit richer in color, or how you turned the f-stop up to blur an action. I want to see how you work the camera, not how well you can Photoshop. I love some of the actions out that that make things look antique. All I did for this photo was turn down the saturation and then alter the different colors one by one for saturation and hue. Actions are what make things look antique or polaroid'ed, the ones that turn a photo from today into something that looks like it came out of your photo album from the 70's. It's artsy, sure, but if you really wanted to keep that look why aren't you still using your film 35mm and throwing it into a photo album for 30 years? And every single photo. Why, oh why????

I realize half of what I said may not be coherent but it kinda drives me nuts and well, I am getting blogger's block. So, if you have an opinion, I'd love to hear it. Again, I'm not against the use of Photoshop, I just wish it was acknowledged more. I wish people would say, hey, I turned up the saturation in this like crazy because it really wasn't this golden. Or I used such and such to make this look more artsy instead of taking it for face value. And that's my rant for today.

My question for today is: Do I jump on the Twilight bandwagon? I seem to come into books and TV shows wayyy late (think Outlander, Alias, Grey's Anatomy, Harry name it) and now Twilight is about to come out in the theaters. Is the book that good??? Do tell!

The 5 o'clock tank
November 12, 2008
My modeling skills aren't that great, but here it goes!
5 o'clock tank 007
I took photos with just the tank and with a shirt underneath. This thing is heavy. Definitely not a summer top!
5 o'clock tank 002
It is long also. I haven't decided if I am going to let some of it out and make it shorter. I like the idea of a tunic but I am afraid I look even squattier than I already am.
5 o'clock tank 008
I bought the white shirt at Target and they had a green one that I may go get to just to see if it looks alright with it. Again, decisions. I like the shirt under it as well, but this would make it even warmer and only wearable for cold fronts and movie theaters.
5 o'clock tank 011
So??? What do you think?
5 o'clock tank 012
I am hoping the top areas that are curling will stop curling eventually. I had to block it again because it was curling really bad. The Tunisian crochet is very tight and the ends will roll. To answer Michelle's question a few posts ago, I use the towel underneath when I pin it so I have something to stick the pins in, otherwise it would be the table. Plus, the garment is wet and I don't want my table wet!

I am happy with it for the most part, but not as happy as I was when I finished the babydoll top. Part of it is the length and part of it is how I feel in it and I feel super chunky.

Eliana and I are embarking on a workout plan together. We're aiming for 4 lbs this month. This is a long distance plan...she's still on the west coast. Somehow I must get the energy up to workout.

Crafty Tuesday
November 11, 2008
art corner 1
I couldn't think of anything else to talk about today so I will show you the little art area that I do my crafty stuff. I take up an entire wall. ;) Ok, the door takes up a 1/4 of the wall, but you know. The top drawing is a little painting Chris did when we started dating. It had been in a frame for awhile but it had been resigned to my desk drawer out of the frame. I pulled it out yesterday to frame it again and saw that I hadn't framed the bottom photo, yet, either. This is from backpacking with my dad and brother last month in Texas. Some of the postcards that stick out are the ones I like to keep in my French boards. I have a zillion others that I stored in photo albums, but I keep these out for good reminders. The one about the elevator I got from my 11th grade English/History teacher who, I think, sent them out after our AP exams. She was a rockin' teacher with a PhD. Not too many PhD's around in high school's teaching and she was an awesome one.
art corner 2
This is really the miscellaneous shelf wall. I have some photos on a top one, the middle and bottom one you see here. The little fish eye is what I painted last spring, and in that photo is my mom's graduation photo! The tiara is from the night we got engaged and the basket is the basket I made for my flower girl at my wedding.
art corner 3
Another view of some of my boards. Christmas cards, postcards, little bits of different things. Fun things to stare at when I get lost in what I am doing, a reminder to get back with it.
art corner 4
What I spent most of the day doing, scrapbooking. Rather, putting a book together. I am going to do the December Daily Album, and so I decided to put it together today. Eliana, I used that blue scrapbook you gave me, and then I basically put in all the pages by using green, red and a off white/brown color as the base. Then I went back and tore pieces of patterned paper to layer on. Next was ribbon and then I did the page numbers. I ended up ending the album on Christmas day since I only had one more page in the album after that. Next, I am going page by page adding accents and spots for photos and journaling. If I don't finish tonight I will finish tomorrow. Then I will have to just take photos every day in December and print 'em out! I am excited about this because it has been almost two years since I have seriously scrapbooked. The backlog of items to scrapbook is scary. At this point it isn't even photos, but memorabilia and things of that nature. I am tempted to just glue them in a book and be done with it!
art corner 5
And finally, when I finish up the scrapbook and my Paper Adventure, I plan on finishing this little drawing. This is for Kylen, Michelle's daughter. I started it before I left for Texas and thought I'd work on it there and I didn't. But, I really want to finish it in time for Christmas. Shhh, don't tell Kylen, Chelle! ;)

Other than that I didn't do much else today. I made it out to Hallmark for some Christmas cards because I had a 30% off my total purchase coupon. They have these neat packs of 5 cards for $5 which you can mix and match and so I bought 5 packs of those. It turned out they were buy 3 get one free and then with my 30% off, I saved $10! So, that was a pretty good deal for the price. Then it rained later on in the day and I didn't get any yard work done. I will have to work out there this weekend. Baloo must have been tired this morning because he didn't wake me up for food. Instead, he stayed curled next to me until 9am. Very odd. Right now there is a snuggly bunny on the desk and he is so sweet!

Happy Things on Monday
November 10, 2008
Today's Happy Things:
  1. Chick Fil-A. The new restaurant opened up by my house, finally! The only ones in SoFlo are in the mall's and I found on in the middle of Doral one day and that is it! Until now. Oh, hello morning chicken biscuits! Now, if I can get a Sonic.
  2. Shopping in Target while talking to my mom and Zoe.
  3. The kitty cat that stayed on the porch from 9am until after 3pm. Sunning himself like a happy bunny should.
  4. A clean house. Well, almost there. I still have a little bit left to do.
  5. Having time to make a decent dinner. And making zucchini banana bread for desert. Very yummy!
  6. A flower bed that has seedlings growing in it!
On the left are carrots, the middle is basil and/or radishes, and the right one are various greens. YAY for a harvest in early 2009!
November Tomatoes
Sometime soon these are going to change color and I will be ecstatic! I tied some of the more unruly stems to the cages tonight. It is going to be a full harvest!
tomatoes two months
The tomato farm area. Search back for Labor Day's post and you will see the difference!
white beautyberry
The white beautyberry. I love this plant.
Halfway through my bromeliad wreath. The fireball Neoregalia bromeliads are from someone at work. There were huge bags full. We already have some of these in the yard but I thought a wreath would be fun to do. I'll finish it tomorrow.
licky dog
My garden companion for awhile until he started trying to eat too much grass. He's a goob.

Honking Ibis, Slithering Alligators and Quiet Waters
November 9, 2008
We went back to Fisheating Creek again today, this time we took the livery service up the river eight miles to Burnt Bridge. We got up to our natural alarm clock (Baloo), which went off at 5:20am. We made it to the creek at 8am, but not after a frustrating 20 minutes at McDonald's because they weren't ready for breakfast yet. Hrmph. I was interested to know the way to the drop off point and found that only those going to FEC were allowed to go through the private land to get to the drop off point. Burnt Bridge was apparently that, as there were several rotting poles sticking up barely at the surface. We were dropped off with six other kayakers and made our way down stream. When we went a few months ago we only paddled around 2-2.5 miles upstream and then back, so this was a longer day for us. It was beautiful day, too, with the November sun beating down to warm us up after the cool morning. There were a lot of alligators on the creek this time around. I will let the photos speak for themselves. We didn't get quite as many good photos this time and we thought midway through our camera was going to give out on us and have to be repaired, but it miraculously decided to work again. A terrible scratching noise when the shutter clicked and buttons that wouldn't work caused near panic for both of us! We still don't know what caused it.
cypress bend

cypress glow

on the creek

cypress desat
A little de-saturation and Photoshop play in this one. Just for fun!

misti and chris

Sand, Cypress, & Sky 11-9-08
I am posting this one larger than the others so you can fully appreciate it. Chris did this one panorama style, and stitched it together in Photoshop. It turned out awesome, I think!

It was a long day so it will be early to bed for me. I should have been more productive yesterday so I could prevent spending tomorrow cleaning and doing errands and instead do some crafty stuff. But, I have to have a clean house to get going. Such is life. The Fluffy Bunny says "meow, good night!"

A Super Lazy Day
November 8, 2008
I was so lazy today. The reason for this was last night Chris went to bed early and so I was resigned to finish my tank in the computer room. I finished it and then proceeded to surf
Ravelry for awhile and someone mentioned in a Jane Austen group a mini-series called Lost in Austen. They mentioned episodes were on YouTube and so off I went to check them out. Sure enough there was practically the entire series on YouTube, not in its entirety because some were shorter than others and they were leaving scenes out, but it was enough to reel me in for the next two hours and sit at the computer to watch. If you've ever wished you could be Elizabeth Bennett this is the show for you! You can start her and click through the episodes and parts!

So, needless to say I didn't get up until 10:30 this morning and then went back for a snooze at 11:30 and finally made it out of bed at 12:30. I took Baloo to the dog park where he had fun running around, playing in the water and meeting other dogs. Then I came back and bummed around for awhile. The only thing I managed to do was take another nap when Chris came home in the afternoon, do a load of laundry and mow the front yard. How's that for productivity???
Now I am sipping some peppermint tea, having a Lindt truffle and will go back and work on the tank. Just tying up loose ends. I will post a photo on Monday or Tuesday!

The Hungry Hippopotamus
November 7, 2008

Baloo thinks with his stomach. Food is always on his mind! Treats are always on the top of the list, next to water. He loves his water!

And Eliana, he does remember you. He just likes to talk on the speaker phone better than the other phone! I promise he remembers you!

Closer to Finished
November 6, 2008
This blogging every day thing is fun! The only problem is coming up with topics on a daily basis, or at least trying to spread them out instead of cramming it all into one post. So, I ran out of yarn on my tank that I have been crocheting and ordered it on Sunday and it came yesterday! Score for speedy yarn delivery! Now I have quite a bit of yarn left so I need to figure out something small to make out of it, probably a scarf. You can never have too many scarves in Florida (insert hahahahah, here). Hey, we do get cold weather sometimes! And we're going to dodge a hurricane here this weekend! Score for November cold fronts pushing away November hurricanes! (I think I will insert some more exclamations for you!) The yarn came and away I worked last night while 'watching' Pride and Prejudice. Really it was more like listening because I've seen it so many times. We watched Bridget Jones the other night and I was almost quoting it verbatim.
tank 1
Someone had to scope out the tank after I had just blocked it on the table. Ignore the messy background, Chris is in the middle of a project...which is another story for another day. I had to make sure he got off quickly because there a lot of pins.
tank 2
This is the part I am concerned about. It mostly matches the diagram in the book but the little 'tab' at the bottom doesn't. I am making it for a bust size 36 c/d cup and so that was the directions, but I am scared! Where does this go? I emailed the person who wrote the pattern and she has been helpful on a few other things I've had questions over and I hope I can get something on this as well.
tank 3
The front left side. The little part I just showed goes behind it on the right side.
tank 4
A closer view with the pins. I should be able to put it together tomorrow night, barring now crazy changes.
baloo cute
I am not sure what is up with Baloo these days. He really has had a hard time with the time change and is still getting up at 5am every morning to knock the bed for food. Last night he tried to jump on the bed to sleep several times, which is very odd. He will come up in the evenings when we are awake, but not at night. Leo was a meowing maniac lately, too. Animals are nutty!

On a slightly funny political note, The Onion has a funny video to which I can relate. Seriously, what am I going to talk about now?.

Election Day
November 4, 2008
Unless you've been with your had in a hole, or are in a war torn country where all you care about is eating and drinking clean water, you know that today is Election Day here in the US. I was thinking tonight as Chris and I were having dinner at a local Italian place (I had a craving for calamari tonight...) where I was the night I voted the first time. I was in Galveston and went down to the courthouse to vote and then went home and watched some of the news with my roommate Connie. I remember going to bed and Florida was going for Gore. And we all know what happened after that!!! In that election I voted for Ralph Nader because Texas was obviously going to go to Bush and even though I liked Gore, he had no chance of winning Texas. Fast forward to four years ago and Chris and I voted after work, there was some line but nothing major, maybe a thirty minute wait and then vote, and we were done before the polls closed. I think we knew that night that it was obviously going to Bush again. And tonight, I hope tonight that things finally sway my way. I've been waiting for 8 years, 8 years ago in my apartment in Galveston, for some forward thinking on the environment. Yes, this is a primary issue for me, along with education, but I really love what Obama has to say about where he wants to take the country on the environment. I am so excited for his energy policy and think that it is about time we started moving forward. It is going to be tough transitioning, but we have to do it sometime. I know many people have naysayed this whole talk of 'hope' and 'change', but it is such a peaceful feeling to listen to those words than to hear negative attitudes and hateful speaking. Come on, even McCain was talking 'change' there in the past month. And so, I know I haven't elaborated much, but this is why I voted for Obama. I'm not up for arguing over who is going to be better, but if you do have an opinion you are welcome to share it, but please, don't be spiteful or disrespectful. It just makes you look bad and it makes anything you stand for look even worse. That doesn't matter which side or party you are going for.

So, I stand full of hope tonight, in anticipation that we will have an exciting night and a wonderful next four years. I hope that we can solve some of our issues, get rid of some of this national debt, be progressive on our environmental stance and energy policies, and lead the world again.

The sign was from our neighborhood. I love that there are signs at the exit to every neighborhood reminding people to vote for at least two weeks prior to election day!

Stay for Tea!
November 3, 2008
I hope November stays around longer than October did. October just went by so quickly! I was thinking that it was a year ago that I was in South Dakota, and I can't believe that! I have been recuperating from crafting by reading a book, which is what I seem to do when I've been working hard at something for a few months. I decompress with a book for a few days, absorbed in that, so much so that I can't even comprehend doing anything but finish the book! When I was in Texas I picked up Eat, Pray, Love while searching through the travel section of Half Price Books. I had been wanting to read it for a few years but it just never made its way into my hands. I finally picked it up last week sometime, I can't remember why now, but yesterday I was in Italy drooling over the discussion of pizza in Sicily and tonight I was being healed by traditional Balinese medicine in Indonesia. What an awesome, awesome book! I related to the author in so many ways, especially her feelings of life passing by and not being at whatever appropriate moment that we feel we should be at this particular time in life. The feeling of not being contented in the current moment and being caught up in your own thoughts that eventually you make things so much worse than they are that they come spilling out in a mountain of bawling when the one little thing triggers it. It made me want to travel, to commit to learning French (she learned Italian and Sanskrit), and to learn to meditate, though I really don't like Yoga too much after the class I took last spring. If you are looking for a good book to read, grab this one!! Find it any way you can!

Reading aside, I am ready to tackle some crafty projects. I have to catch up on my Paper Adventure mini book and it is a good thing that Elise is even behind on challenges or at least not doing them weekly or I would be at least three months behind! I think I'd say I am nearing two months behind at this point. Then there is the December book that I want to put together so that in December I can take daily photos, print them out and have a spiffy album for the last month in 2008. And then (and then, and then, and then..) there is the drawing I need to finish, Christmas projects to start, headbands to get up on Etsy. The good news in this is that I miraculously have a four day weekend next week. Veteran's Day happens to fall on a Tuesday this year and we got a very nice memo last week stating we would get Monday off as well! How awesome! So, now I have some time that I can devout to crafting. I just need to make sure that I don't sleep until 10, laze about on the computer until noon, eat lunch, take a nap, and then decide to get around to something at 3pm. Yes, this is sometimes, well, a lot of times, what happens when I have a day off work for a holiday and Chris has to work. Which is fine and dandy if you don't have anything your agenda to accomplish!

My person (Grey's reference there), Michelle, has a blog now! Ok, she had a blog like five years ago but abandoned it (still can't believe it!) and was in the land of the non-blogger for a long time. But now she's back and showing off her cute little daughter and talking about various things going on in her life. So, if you would, drop on by and say hi! :) Also, my friend Heather, that I've 'known' for, holy cow, eight years now, and she started a blog, just in time for NaBloPoMo. She's a sophisticated, smart chica and always has something interesting to say. ;) Very insightful! So, check her blog out, too!

What are you doing to enjoy November??? And oh yeah...

I'll remind you tomorrow too, but go vote.

Don't Be Doggist
November 2, 2008
don't be doggist 006
"Do you like my Christmas collar? Friend Misti found it for me at Target today!"

So, we had a good day today. Got up early because Baloo can't tell time and doesn't understand the time change and so demanded food at 5am instead of 6am, and we went to eat breakfast at the Original Pancake House (we found one in Florida!). I spent the morning lazing about a little and then we took Baloo to the dog park. The dog park was busy and full of doggies getting their energy out and Baloo met a lot of friends. No problems here. Then we went to Petsmart to stock up on food for him and to see if they had a new harness in Large. The past few times they have been out, but today we were in luck. So, we were headed towards the entrance and Baloo was making a beeline for the door when off to the right there was a man with two kids, one he was carrying and the other holding his hand. He said loud enough for us to hear, "Don't go near that dog". Ok, the dog wasn't even going towards you, dude, and Baloo would lick your kids and your kids would smile. I really wanted to say something but didn't and next time I will tell someone to not be doggist. Baloo is a pit bull. He is a really SWEET pit bull, just a big fat baby. Yes, sometimes pit bulls are bad and it is because they are mistreated to begin with. Sure there are stories about people's dog's snapping and going berserk, but you never really get the full story. What was the whole provocation? Baloo has shown me how prejudiced people are against breeds. There are several breeds that get a bad rap, and I always feel sorry for them. Sure, there are times when you can obviously know that a dog is not to be around, but when you are walking into Petsmart where there are many other dogs and people, I don't think you need to freak your kids out. *rant over*.
don't be doggist 008
"Dogs are meh. As long as they don't sleep on my spot on the bed and don't steal my sunshine, this fluffy bunny is happy".
don't be doggist 014
"Dog? What dog? Cats rule, dogs drool!"
don't be doggist 018
"Baloo was right the other day, wasn't he? This is my little blanket!"

Turner River
November 1, 2008
First a blog note. It was brought up to me that a comment did not appear on a post. I do not censor!! It is my comments! Sometimes (and you can ask Robin) Haloscan, my commenting service, goes bonkers. Sometimes they got awol. I write comments on Marc and Eliana's sometimes and they get spit back as an error. *so*, no censorship on this blog!! I would only censor spam comments...and I *luckily* haven't had those! Anyway, just wanted to say that!!

Secondly, I am going to do
National Blog Posting Month. That means sometimes I will have a post of substance and sometimes I will post a photo and that'll be it! This could be tough because we are going out of town for Thanksgiving, so...we shall see!

Thirdly, we went kayaking today. So far this week I checked off two more on my list, canvassing for Obama and voting for president and today I nabbed a third. We did the Turner River in Big Cypress National Preserve. We got up and had to drive two cars over there, one for the drop off point and the other for the take out point and we finally got on the water just after 10am. This is supposed to be a day kayak, but it takes around 6 hours, so starting early is good if you plan on doing photos and stopping a lot to explore.
turner river november 1, 2008 004
Our first test was going underneath the Tamiami Trail bridge, in which we had to lay down in our kayaks and pull ourselves through by holding onto the bottom of the bridge. First test accomplished!
turner river november 1, 2008 006
The next test was to navigate through some sawgrass and into some aquatic weeds that were clogging the trail. We ran into some Fish & Wildlife folks who were pulling it out in their canoes and dragging it back to shore! We made it through that and coasted along.
turner river november 1, 2008 009

turner river november 1, 2008 011
This photo doesn't show you how good the red maples are right now, but they are downright maroon!!
turner river november 1, 2008 012
Early on we ran into two people from Holland that were here on a three week vacation and they pointed out some baby gators for us to photograph. Not too much further we heard a series of grunts coming from the bushes and knew some gators were talking to each other.
turner river november 1, 2008 018
We entered our first mangrove tunnel and really enjoyed it. This one was well traveled and other than abandoning our paddles in order to pull ourselves along the mangroves, it was great! Very quiet and shady.
turner river november 1, 2008 020
Somewhere along the trail we ran into some leafless orchids, bent spur orchids, and at first, from a distance, I thought they could be ghost orchids since they are known to be on the trail somewhere. One of the mangroves was covered in this orchid and it was nice to see them in bloom!
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We paddled/pulled along some more and eventually we came to the end of the tunnel
turner river november 1, 2008 044
and into a sawgrass prairie. We turned a few bends and corners and met up with the old canal, the Turner River Canal, which is now plugged, and kept paddling through the open river. We saw a snail kite flying in the distance and enjoyed the sites as we crossed old airboat trails and then continued to the next mangrove tunnel. Or what I prefer to call the Spider Web Tunnel of Hell (SWTH for short). SWTH was, well, obviously the point in which not many people continue paddling. It appears that very few go down that trail on a regular basis. We only knew we were on the right path by the rudimentary maintenance signs of chainsaw work and piles of debris. Other than that, it was the spider's lair. They weren't mean spiders, just the pretty garden spiders with the black stripes and iridescent green and red, but I wasn't fond of running into them and having them crawl on me and they were everywhere! Chris was the spider-knocker-downer person and so I tried to follow his path but this path wasn't as clear as the other so there was always and occasional bump into a mangrove leg or a piece of wood and that sent me crazy!

Then we ran into the wider area of the river that leads to a series of lakes, as my little video points out. This was about three miles of paddling and there was quite a bit of running current so we were able to coast along with the wind at our backs. The water was a tannin colored but very clear and even though it was so cold and alligators were seen on occasion, I wanted to get in! This is where the sun started beating down more and I now have some nice Keen sandle outlines!
turner river november 1, 2008 064
The best part about this was that there was no one else on the river!! At some points it was very quiet and not a sound but the wind and the slight whoosh of our kayaks on the water. No trash... nothing! Just beautiful, beautiful water!

We finally made it the three miles and ran into the four way intersection that was noted towards the end of the river. This is where you can make the paddle longer and go right and take "Left Hand Turner River", stay straight to exit or go explore Huddle Creek to the left. At this point Chris said it was about two miles to my car and as you can see the movie boats navigate this area a bit.

We rounded a few more bends and I was surprised to see the bay and Chokoloskee in the not too far distance. All we had to do was navigate around some oyster mounds and cross the channel.
turner river november 1, 2008 077
This is an Indian mound, a shell mound, which is basically a trash mound if you will. Where the Indians would stash their leftover shells after they ate. This one was really tall! We've seen a few in other areas before, too. Basically, if you see any 'high' points in South Florida, it is an shell mound, (or a public dump!!!). We crossed the channel and it didn't seem like two miles and before I knew it we were there! My knees were very sore after from being in the sitting position so long and so I ambled to my truck. We were loading up when a park ranger came to ask us some general information about our trip and if we had fished and he logged it down on sheet of paper. Very friendly guy!

I highly recommend this trip! If you have a day to spare and want to see some backcountry, this is where you should go! I would totally do it again in a few weeks (Christine!!!...Eliana and Marc!!!) and it isn't that difficult of a trip. Just battling some spider webs a few times, and then end there is more paddling than the beginning, but what an absolutely great day!

PS: Get your butt out and vote if you haven't already. I don't (well, I do, but what am I going to do about that at this point?) care who you cast it for, just exercise your rights!

A Smidge of Politics
October 28, 2008
october 28, 2008: 5/14
You're looking at an Obama volunteer! I did it! I went and canvassed! I tried last Thursday but was rained out and so I went today and picked up the information sheets and subsequently ran into an older lady who was going out and she went to a few doors with me, or rather I with her, learned what to say and carried on my own! This is a big thing for me. Without even going into political lines and who supports who, I think everyone should get involved sometime in their life with a campaign of their choosing. Seriously, it is invigorating! Ok, and a little scary! I mean, knocking on those doors at dinner time! I hate answering the door when kids come by selling stuff, and believe me I left quite a bit of fliers to some 'not home' folks. But, it wasn't too bad! I did feel sorry for a few people, some who weren't citizens and couldn't vote and a guy who had a felony that wouldn't allow him to vote. The funniest bit was this little girl, probably around six to eight years old that start jumping up and down, arms in the air, when I mentioned Obama to her dad. It was really funny! I like to see kids involved and knowing what is going on when they are young. It means their parents or their school has involved them in the campaign! I remember when Ross Perot was running against Clinton and Bush back in 1991/1992. We had mock elections in sixth grade and everyone knew who Perot was because he dropped out and got back in! Plus, he had a funny name and we liked to say 'parrot' or 'pe rot' instead of the correct way.

Alas, I am going again on Thursday. Tomorrow is an Obama rally and I really want to go. I am going to try to get off work early but I've heard the last time he did a rally the crowd was a mess and the lines were huge, so I have a feeling I will be in the nose bleed section! Anyway, I promise I won't rattle on *much* about politics for the next week, and come next Wednesday there will either be an ecstatic post or a very sulky one, but I am just glad I got out there and did it! I know, I know, it is such a little thing, canvassing people, but reminding them to vote, getting their early voting information to them, and talking to the ones that were glad I stopped by, it made it worth while.

Oh, before I go, there is another article about the Nielson family that I wrote about a few weeks ago. The couple are coming out of the woods slowly and surely and the article is very touching. You can read it here

I really do suck at sewing.
October 27, 2008
Hello there! I am Baloolooo pants, also known as the garden digger, under foot thing-a-ma-jig, and treat beggar. In this photo I am trying to steal attention from this...
Friend Misti's new shirt! She doesn't like it much on her, but thinks it looks good on the hanger. She also said she is such a bad sewer, so bad that she nicked a small hole in the sleeve when she was trimming the frays on the inside. It was one big headache for her yesterday. Friend Christopher helped her with the elastic in the neck, it was driving her craaaazy! And you think I am crazy when I want a treat?
cute baloo
Do these look like the eyes of a crazy doggie??? No way, Jose! These are cute, I love you eyes! Ok, ok, sometimes they are crazy-beggin'-for-a-treat eyes, but you know, how can you resist?
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I also helped Friend Misti make this table cloth for the table. Really, it is just a big blanket for Leo because he lives on the table! Actually, it was a blanket for me, because it hung off the sewing machine edge while she sewed and I curled up in it! Oohh, fun fabric for me!!!
Can you believe she sews at this old thing??? She is not a hip chick! I think she belongs in Avonlea with Anne Shirley and Marilla Cuthbert!
yawning baloo
Well, I'm tired! Oh, before I go you have to look at my cute bandana that Friend Grandma Gayle gave me! My Friend Cousin's Mitzi and Guinness shared theirs with me! This will probably be my Halloween costume because the bumblebee costume Friend Misti and Chris got me was too small. I liked it though!! Well, good night!! RUFF!!

A Bit of Gloominess in October
October 26, 2008
We've had clouds for about five days now, with rain on most of those days. Today it appeared to look like rain but so far it has just been full of grey clouds and looks like it should feel about 20* cooler out than it does. It is good for a Sunday at home, though. Yesterday we went to the zoo and it started off fairly nice, and then by the time we left we were soaking wet because it rained on us. I haven't processed those photos yet because I am sorta lazy at the moment.

Chris made bacon this morning and since I had gone to the grocery store last night I had some fresh strawberries and some soy milk to go with my coffee. It is always so nice to have a full fridge and cupboard. I like that word, cupboard. Sounds a bit old fashioned. What also goes well with gloominess are brownies, even if they are from the box. Ghirardelli brownies at that. Chris says they are too rich, I say no way! Perfectly moist, delicious and chocoately! We wanted to go vote today but right when the polls opened at 11 the wait time online said 2.5 hours for both of the closest early voting places. It is starting to drive me nuts! I am just worried that it will be the same way on election day and I will be sitting there in line! I may have to get up at 5am and sit at the library where we vote to just get in line! I did want to vote early, so it is a bit frustrating.

I have been trucking away at my sewing today. And now a few hours after I wrote that I can officially say I finished the shirt. And it looks a little 'meh'. The sleeves are too fluffy, I think. I'm not sure what the problem is. I still have some trimming of ends and such but it is in the wash and I will iron it tomorrow and maybe take a photo. I am glad I am through with it! It was a lesson in patience and direction reading and frustration. Wow, that thing frustrated me to no end. Easy! HAH! That was not an easy pattern! I hate to see a hard one! I am not sure if I will ever wear it out and about, but at least I can say I made it! Now I can look forward to the rest of the week and working on other little projects around here. I am almost done with my crochet tank, though I am afraid I will run out of yarn. I am hoping my local yarn shop has it in stock so I don't have to order it. I hate that I will end up having leftover yarn, but I suppose I can make some headbands out of it! Speaking of headbands, they are on my list to update this week. Good stocking stuffers! (can you see I am not a good shop promoter??)

I will leave you with a few photos I took on Friday at work.
wild boar


buck 4

Until tomorrow...where I will hopefully blog again! I am debating NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. Instead of doing NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, I might just blog my butt off in November. I tried NaNoWriMo a few years ago, like five or six years ago, and didn't get very far. I think it takes a lot of planning and initiative and someone who doesn't have plans to make things for Christmas presents!

Miscellaneous Thursday
October 23, 2008
Well, I tried to get something knocked off my list tonight, but I was rained out. I tried to volunteer with the Obama campaign. They called three times while I was home in Texas and I had to tell them to wait to call me this week. So, I decided I would go out and canvass neighborhoods with them and went to the captain's house tonight, which is in my neighborhood, but it was raining when I got there and of course no one showed up. But, I did learn what they do and what they say going door to door and right now they are encouraging early voting. I don't know how it is in your state, but here in Florida lines are 2-3 hours long for early voting. I am thinking of voting early this year instead of election day like I normally like to do, just *in case*. I am also going to read up on the amendments so I know if I really should be voting for or against something. I hate how they word those things! It sounds like I should be against it but really I should be for it, or vice-versa. So, doing some research this time around. Plus, the local elections I want to know if I want to keep the incumbent in or get fresh blood in. So, I will have to wait until next week to check off that one. I was really debating if I was going to even attempt to do it, but I decided that I should try hard to accomplish it instead of being lazy.

Speaking of lazy, I still have 15lbs on that list and there haven't been any shed. I better get busy!

I am trolling my older garden photos on Flickr. This is a very pretty salvia that no longer exists in the garden. Who knows how long ago this photo was taken (or I could just look on Flickr and see).
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Samson says 'meow'. In December we will have had him six years, which will make him either 11 or 12. He's starting to get those warts/moles that older animals get, or at least my dog got when she got old. He's still feisty though. He has still been making his place outside in one of our half whiskey barrels that used to house our tree fern. The tree fern ended up dying after a few bouts of spider mites, but that doesn't deter him from sitting in the dirt, basking in the glow of the sunlight on the porch. Leo has been trying to help me sew lately, jumping up on the machine table and thinking he is helping me out, but I have to move him because his tail is in the perfect position to be sewed up! He likes to hang out behind me in the chair when I am drawing, so I think he enjoys sitting beside me wherever I go. I like that about my animals, including Baloo. They follow us around the house, generally, hanging out with us in whatever room we choose to be in. In the mornings, mostly previously to Baloo being around, they would both follow me into the bathroom in the mornings and then to the kitchen as I made coffee and got my food ready for the day. Samson will sprawl out on the tile and Leo will meander around the kitchen table until I break open the Winnie the Pooh cookie jar that houses their treats. Then I have to give equal amounts of treats to each, carefully watching Leo so that he doesn't steal treats from Samson. Once I caught Baloo sneaking treats from Samson and I felt so bad because Sammy doesn't fight back. He's such an old boy, but I love him.

If you want to see a monarch coming into the world you should check out this post from Our Little Acre. I have seen many chrysalises (chrysali?) in our yard and we almost caught one emerging, but it was completed and gone by the time we returned from our errands.

Until tomorrow...the three sleepies (or five depending on the species) say goodnight!

Weeding Therapy
October 22, 2008
Last night and tonight I spent the evening in the backyard, pulling weeds. There were a lot of them, too! But, I am almost done with the weeding part and then will move onto the part where the demon dog decided to dig in the flower bed. Yes, Eliana, your dog is bad!!! I had started vegetable seeds about two weeks before I went home and things were coming up. Squash, greens, you name it. Then I started noticing Baloo had very dirty feet after going for his morning pee's and then realized he was making himself at home in the flower bed. AHHH! There isn't much left, so we are going to start over and put a fence around it.
pride of barbados
The good part of the yard exploration was finding my pride of Barbados in bloom! We started it from seed awhile back, a year and a half ago, and here it is in its blooming glory.
It is also good to be back to my SLR!! I wuv you little Rebel!! ;) Sorry Chelle, I am back to some nature photos again! I don't have anyone to photograph! Or else, it could be a cat blog!
arkansas traveler first tomato
The tomatoes are starting to bear fruit. All of them are doing good except one pot of mine which is really non-existent. I started 'Great White' and the seedlings died and Chris planted more of another variety and those haven't come up yet. I will try something else this weekend. These are Arkansas Traveler and we have some Galapagos that are fruiting as well. I am so super excited!
I am glad it is Fall. I was reluctant to leave summer behind, but being able to work in the backyard without sweating buckets is very pleasing for me. I have been sipping a lot of tea lately in the afternoons at work and at home. There's something about hot tea that is very Fall-ish. I've also renewed my interest in A Fine Frenzy and their cd from last year. I bought it this time last year and to me it is very much a Fall cd. So, it is back on my playlist. I've also been listening to Rosemarie's cd, her band's cd, Hip City Cruz. They did an amazing job and it is so fun to hear her voice singing on the cd and then her sax jamming away in the middle of a song! Their MySpace page doesn't show all of their songs, but the entire cd is great!

I have determined that sewing is not going to be my hobby, or at least a major one. Wow, what a bunch of work!!! Holy cow! Plus, me and the sewing machine like to have fits together. But, I am trudging away at a shirt I started last week with my mom. She was helping me accomplish one of my goals on my 28 for 28 from a pattern. I should have done a purse, but I chose a shirt instead. It isn't bad, but I am wondering if I will wear it in public! LOL! Give me a square of something to sew any day.

Tomorrow I hope to accomplish another item on my list...I'll report then!

Back in Florida
October 21, 2008
Home again...the two weeks went quickly, though now the week already seems to be flying more now that I am home. So, I will recap the wedding a little bit...lets just say it was absolutely *so* good to be with friends. Rosemarie, Michelle, Stephanie (the bride) and I were all roommates/suitemates in college. Alisa /AJ I met during a preview weekend my senior year of highschool and then she went on the summer school at sea with us and we all later became good friends. Nicole is Stephanie's good friend from middle school.

  • After mom dropped me off at Stephanie's in Dallas on Thursday, Chelle, Steph and I hung out until we had to pick Rosemarie up. It had been six years for me seeing her, probably eight since Michelle had seen her and though Steph saw her last Christmas, previously it was five years. She just holed up in California and made herself at home! Plus, her family is in the Austin area so our paths just never crossed if we were home for the holidays.
  • It was a very happy reunion and felt just like we had never left! Lots of catching up to do, but it was just like B Dorm again.
  • Lebanese food is pretty good. Similar to Greek food...
  • A limo for a bachelorette party is an excellent idea.
  • Apparently Deep Ellum is no longer 'cool' in Dallas...!
  • La Bare's is much more fun when you aren't the bachelorette! It is much more fun to watch instead of being the, um, person of interest in the whole affair.
  • Michelle is a super fast get-out-of-the-car-and-open-the-back-door-person...;)
  • An air mattress at 4am is very comfortable.
Girls Night
  • Breakfast at the Original Pancake House....mmmmmm! Lunch at FREEBIRDS!!!!!!!!
  • After a day of nails and the rehearsal/dinner we had an awesome suite at the Crowne Plaza! Thanks Steph!
  • You can totally pretend you are 14 when you are 28. The good part is you are legal drinking age...!
  • Banana's dipped in chocolate fondue tastes awesome!
  • I am a new fan of hair straightening!
  • A good nights sleep!
  • I *heart* my girls. *hugs*
Wedding Girls
  • The evening light was perfect for the wedding. Dappled sunshine through the trees...
  • Realizing that you have to say goodbye to a few people that night, again for awhile.
  • Dancing around and doing silly things
  • Slipping out of high heels and back into the soft slippers
  • Getting 'doodied' up. ;) (if you've not heard this word, it means getting dressed up and/or putting your face on)
The Bride
  • Wishing happiness to the newlyweds!
On Sunday I had an early afternoon flight and so Rosie and I got up early and went with my inlaws to the pancake house again to meet JP and Michelle for breakfast. I am so glad we did! I almost caught Michelle's case of bawling and had to hurry and leave in order to avoid it. I ended up catching it when I said goodbye to my parents after we ate Mexican food near the airport. I had to get my last dose of Zoe in and then Chris' mom and step-dad took us to the airport. Rosie and I mostly breezed through security and then she was nice enough to sit with me while I waited for my gate. She had a bit more time than I did and my plane was even delayed a little. I tried hard not to think that it could be six more years before I see her again. Even as I type I am trying not to. And so, we hugged and I told her to skedaddle before I started crying again and then I crawled on the plane. Luckily I slept most of the way and before I knew it I was in balmy Florida again.

It is nice to be back and I am glad that it is Fall. The sun setting earlier now has come at a good time. I have about an hour to enjoy when I get home from work and then I come in and am trying to catch up on creative things. I managed to fix a purse last night and still have a pile of sewing stuff, crochet and art to do. One at a time.

The Crosstimbers Trail
October 14, 2008
backpacking texoma 001
On Friday night, after a good dinner of Tex-Mex, Curt, Dad and I headed to Lake Texoma to backpack for the weekend. The trail we did was the Crosstimbers Trail and it was a bit rough for me! Friday night we pitched our tent about 200 yards up the trail and settled in for the night. Curt and Dad slept under the stars, brave souls. We slept well until sometime in the night we heard a weird barking noise, that wasn't quite dog but definitely a little creepy. Since I just saw I Am Legend I was thinking all sorts of scary thoughts and the animal moved around closer and further away throughout the night and at times I thought it was going to walk right down the path to our camp! We never did figure out what it was, even though I spent some time Googling animal sounds. The only thing I might deduce it to be was a really strange sounded racoon, and they sound higher pitched than that sound was, a fox or a coyote. We did hear a coyote relatively close to us near dawn and it howled across the lake to another pack.
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We started off at Juniper Point and our destination was Eagle's Roost, about 6.5-7 miles away. Our first destination was to a marina about 2.5 miles in to stop and get water.
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The terrain was rougher than I expected, with some steep hills and my calves were getting a good workout. Even the slight terrain of Apalachicola was not what this ended up being!
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Lake Texoma is a dammed lake from the Red River, which runs between Oklahoma and Texas. In the distance of the photo is Oklahoma (hi Kasie!).
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It was nice taking in the different ecosystem and looking at the oak leaves and other trees that I don't recognize.
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We met a turtle friend along the way and Curt saw a snake that slithered away before we could see it.
dad's texoma set
We finally made it to 5 mile camp for lunch and while Curt and Dad downed some nasty tortilla with canned chicken and/or tuna combo, I had my 1.5 pb sandwiches. Ahhhh, food. The small packs of Pringles were gone quickly, too! Then, Curt and I took a snooze.
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After lunch I wasn't feeling too swift and had some nausea and a hard time going up the hills, but before I knew it we had arrived at the 6.5 mile mark at Eagle's Roost. We strolled in on a flat surface! WOO!
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But, we made friends with an armadillo first! We had another one walk about 50 feet up the path from our campsite later on during dinner.
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After we set up camp we walked down to the lake and Curt made water for us. It tasted pretty good considering some of the water Chris and I have made out of little ponds in Florida.
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Curt made dinner as well, two chicken breasts and some of that Lipton noodles. Turned out so good and enough for seconds all around! A great dinner for the end of the trail!
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After dinner we sat around the non-existant campfire and talked for awhile and waited for the sun to set. Dad had a little chair he brought, this cool thing I am going to have to buy for backpacking, and Curt and I got sore butts while sitting alternately on the ground and the wood that was around the camp.
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Sunday morning we rose early to see the sunrise over the lake and so we could get back on the trail early in order to arrive back at home for lunch. I am a little dissapointed in the turnout on this photo, a bit too blurry for my camera, but I still like the essence of my brother looking out at the sunrise.
dad's texoma set
Down at the second ledge there was an older couple who took our photos for us while we were sipping our coffee. Another excellent idea, little coffee pouches.
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A cactus...
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The sunrise back at 5 mile camp. Not too long after passing the camp we ran into a boy scout troop, some appearing to be on their first campout. It was kinda funny to see them carrying so much stuff on their packs and my brother and dad were reminiscing about their boy scout days!
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I made it back down the trail a lot faster and easier than the day before, even though my calves and feet were starting to hurt some. I took it slow and steady back up the 'up's' and sailed down the 'down's'. Before we knew it we were back at the marina for a snack and water break.
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An Texas flora knowledge is not good!
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Getting closer!!
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Again..another I dunno!
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We got back to the car in almost 3.5 hours! It went fairly quickly, too! We had a great weekend and I wish I would have had my SLR to take some macros. I saw a few monarchs and I could have zoomed in on the armadillo too! oh well! I was surprised we didn't see any deer. We finished up the journey by stopping at Sonic for some drinks and grub before our hour and a half drive back. On the way back we saw gas for $2.65 in Gainesville! Keep on dropping!

Well, I think this will be my last post for a few days. I am off to Dallas for the wedding this weekend and will be hanging out with some of my bestest friends from college. One of them I haven't seen in 6 years! Lots of girly fun time! If you are looking for some good reads, you can check out some of the links over to the left! I promise they are good! ;) Off to enjoy the Fall weather before I leave to the humidity again.

The Impressionists
October 12, 2008
On Friday Zoe, Mom and I headed out to the
Kimbell Art Museum to see the Impressionists exhibit. I love this period of art history and many of my favorite artists are in this group. I was able to see some Wyeth paintings at the Greenville Museum of Art two years ago, and his watercolors were darker than I expected. Many of the artists on exhibit here were different than I expected as well.
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First, we started off getting breakfast at Rise and Dine a local diner that was very delicious!
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After Zoe got her lunch we finally made it to the west side of downtown Ft. Worth and into the cultural district. I love going to this area!
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Although it said no flash photography and I could have taken some photos with my camera, I didn't. It was very busy inside and Zoe slept for the first part of the tour and then she ended up waking up! I walked around telling mom about some of the artists, Manet at first and then onto Renoir. You can tell a Renoir almost immediately. His style is very unique, I think. There were some Manet's that I liked but overall I was dissapointed with his work. I do find it interesting how the paintings look so glossy up close, though you can see some cracking in many. You have to go up close to see the brush strokes, tight or loose, and then step back to see it all put together. We got to the Renoir area and looked at Two Sisters (On the Terrace) and I really enjoyed it but then was distracted by the older girl's arm and the ribbon that goes in that space. If I could get beyond that it was a very remarkable painting. I really enjoyed what he had on display! Eva Gonzales had some paintings that were beautiful and I loved the brushstrokes on her paintings. I think the cherries in Girl with Cherries were interesting and I kept thinking of all the still lifes that I have looked at on WetCanvas! Around this point Zoe got a little bit upset and wanted a bottle, so we escaped to the terrace that was conveniently located!
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This statue is the only photo I took 'inside' of the museum. The little area was great for relaxing a bit and I think some coffee would have been perfect. We meandered on for a few minutes before she started babbling a little and to be sure she didn't start crying in the crowd Mom took her back outside while I walked around a little bit. In the middle room was the highlight of the whole installation, I think. It hasn't been a piece that I have always favored, but when I realized how large it was (HUGE!) I was smitten. It was Paris Street;Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte. I have seen the work before but am not that familiar with the artist and I stood and stared at it for awhile. I didn't even realize the woman has a slight veil on, which you can see once you absorb the whole piece. That was a very cool piece! On an adjacent wall were Neo-Impressionists of the likes of Seurat, Pissarro, Cross and Signac. I absolutely love their styles, the brush strokes and the colors! There was a small oil study of Seurat's La Grande Jatte and I wished that I could have seen the real one. I remember looking at this painting when we were learning stippling back in middle school art. It is still amazing how he created it. Unfortunately the original can't be loaned! *sad* I was also struck by a painting by Pissarro that had a woman bathing on the side of a creek and the light coming in on the painting was absolutely fabulous. It reminded me a little of the The Lady of Shalott by John william Waterhouse. She had long hair similar to that and the light and style in that one were similar. I realize those two artists are completely different in style, but it just reminded me of that painting. Mom came back in and Zoe was happy again so we wandered into the Gaugin and Cezanne paintings. I have to say, I am highly dissapointed in those two. I used to like them, but I guess I don't like their style so much. I, however, still love Gaugin's friend Van Gogh. Oh my goodness, there was a Van Gogh self portrait and it was freakin' awesome. I mean, it was like seeing an old friend or something! I love his use of color, the brush strokes, everything. I even noticed that his paintings almost seem like oil pastels. Very thick. The Bedroom was also on display and that was just awesome to see! Now, if Starry Night had been there I think I might have had to go back just to look at it more. So, seeing some famous paintings was pretty incredible! We saw some more Gaugin and I was not impressed and then we moved on to the majority of the Monet's, saved for last! And oh, yummy goodness. My faith in Monet has not strayed. heh! The entire Stacks of Wheat series was there, which is pretty incredible. Very pastel like again. More like soft pastels, though. Three of the water lily paintings were there and all were beautiful. I was struck by this very pastel purple reflection painting that I can't remember the name of. It was gorgeous and I wanted it! Monet...he was good.

I think the thing I took home from the exhibit was to not compare myself to others. All of these people were such excellent artists in their own right and all battled their own demons around art, but they were Masters. There is no right or wrong way to do art....though sometimes some of those 'modern' art pieces get ridiculous.
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Out behind the Kimbell is a beautiful park that I know the Impressionists would have enjoyed painting.

That is about it for the museum. This weekend I went backpacking with my brother and dad at Lake Texoma...14 miles round trip. On hills. This Texan-Floridian isn't used to hills! That adventure tomorrow...

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
October 8, 2008
The past few months I have been mostly following my new recipe a week plan, though the past few weeks I have slacked. I am going to try and make up for it while I am home and have time to mess around in the kitchen and today I got on and filtered through the recipes for awhile. It didn't take long to decide on making
pumpkin swirl brownies. My mom was a little amazed that I was making it from scratch because when I lived at home you couldn't find me cooking in the kitchen at all. But, I do make things from scratch and I prefer desserts made that way, though a good box of Bettie Crocker will suffice when a chocolate craving is at hand.
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The whole recipe worked up fairly well. The only thing I didn't pay attention to was the bar of bittersweet chocolate. I needed 6oz and the bar was only 4oz so I supplemented with a bag of 60% cacao chocolate chips that were in the freezer. If you can get past the stick of melting butter with the chocolate and where it will end up, the whole things worked out great.
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The other problem I had was my mom did not have a 9x9 glass dish to bake them in so I improvised with the Corningware, and thus had to bake it an extra 20 minutes to get them completed.
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Despite some hesitation because of the added chili powder (cayenne pepper) that was listed in the recipe, the brownies were a hit! My mom decided it was better than the pumpkin cheesecake I made a few years ago, also a Martha Stewart recipe.

They are very moist! I highly recommend this recipe if you are looking to mix up your fall baking!

Today we had Zoe all day long and went out to Walmart for our outing. She slept the entire time! Tomorrow we are going to eat lunch with my Grandad and then we are going out to the cemetary in the country where my great-grandmother is buried.

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Can you smell the baby goodness??? I try to contain myself and keep from eating her up!!

October Sun
October 7, 2008
Pecan Sun
It was a crisp Fall day today. Mom and I spent most of the early afternoon at my grandmothers house where I did some crocheting, political talking and listening and napping. We came back to meet up with my friend Erika and also to get Zoe from her other grandmother so we could hang out with her for the evening.
Back Side
I did finish the back half of the 5 o'clock tank! I was so happy to be working on the straps and it worked up very quickly once I got to that point. I still have to finish the bottom half of the front side and then begin the top part. The Tunisian crochet is a time consumming section of this tank, but I am very happy with the progress of it so far.
Tunisian and Shell
You can see the difference in the stitches here. The top part is worked in, well, the best way to describe it is similar to knitting. You use a long Tunisian hook that you gather loops onto the hook, however many you need, and then you weave it back across the way you came and you get a very dense fabric. It is hard on the hands! The bottom part is a variation of a shell pattern and it is very simple to follow, with some increases along the way.
There are pecans all over my parents yard. They are lamenting the squirrels. The squirrels are stealing all of the pecans and are apparently food wasters, only eating half of the pecans and then leaving them. Daisy likes to try to chase them up the fence or the trees, sometimes jumping several feet in the air.

These little birdies have made their nighttime roost in my parents shade on the porch. There had been one and last night we saw a second in there! Marc, any idea what these may be? Are they juveniles?
October Sunshine
I am missing my DSLR. :( I took the Fuji with me but it has a lag and by the time Zoe does her cute face the camera catches up and Zoe has moved on. *sigh*. It is reliable at least! I am also working on some art while I am here. I started a drawing before I left on claybord and so far I am liking the smoothness of the board but am unsure of the drawing. I have a lot of the day tomorrow to work on it and maybe I'll do a preview tomorrow. Next week I want to go to the Kimbell Museum of Art and see an Impressionist exhibit. Monet, Van Gogh, Pissaro...oooh yeah!

Check out my art friend Kasie's new website. She's an amazing artist and has some beautiful pieces up!

October 6, 2008
  • Watched I Am Legend last night. I miss having cable, though I am glad I don't or I'd be glued to the tv too much. Good movie...better than I expected.
  • Slept in, made coffee. Woke mom up. Ate my Lucky Charms and Soy milk and enjoyed the dark, cool weather outside. Rain and coffee...a good morning.
  • Took care of some minor work things via email.
  • Got my dress altered. Am mad at the cost. Grr!
  • Sent my car keys to Chris. Apparently we only have one set of the new ones we got a few years ago after my purse and keys were stolen out of the apartment. Thanks to the chip that is in the key, the key is expensive!
  • Sonic. Ohhhhh, how I miss Sonic. I am stoked we are getting a Chic-Fil-A finally in SoFlo, but Sonic would put me on cloud 9.
  • Zoe! Zoe!!! Pumpkin cheeks!!
  • Took a nap on the floor with Zoe. Perfect afternoon.
  • Until she got cranky because of either her tummy or her shots this morning. :( Watched the rest of Mansfield Park while Zoe slept on my arm. Good movie. Mmmm that Henry Crawford was yummy, but such a scoundrel!
  • Erika came to visit with Kayla! Two babies! WOO!
  • Dinner with Erika, Kayla and Stephanie at Cheddars. Fun! I miss my friends.
  • Kohl's with Mom. Found shoes for the wedding. $7!!! Score! And they were Vera Wang!
  • Contemplating a run on the treadmill. I need it!
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See, cuteness!!! :)

The Reunion 1998-2008
October 5, 2008
This weekend was my ten year highschool reunion. It is hard to believe time has passed so fast and yet it does feel like so long ago that I was in highschool. I was anxious to see some people and a bit nervous and intimidated. On Friday night I basically dropped my stuff off at the house and went to downtown Ft. Worth where the first part of the reunion was, at the Fox & Hound. I walked into the bar and found my way upstairs and luckily after registering I ran into one of my best friends, my oldest friend (since first grade!), Stephanie. WOO! Someone to talk to! I got a glass of wine and it was almost immediate finding people and starting up conversations. I recongized most people, though there were the people I knew of but didn't 'know' and was surprised when some talked to me because I didn't think they really knew me! There were some blasts from the past and a few people I really wanted to see that I didn't get a chance to talk to very long. I was closest to my art class friends and my softball friends and there were not a lot of them there. I think listening to what people do, the kids they have and the overall general agreeance of intimidation and nervousness about the whole thing. Of course a few drinks in us all, we all loosened up!
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Stephanie and me hanging out at the Fox & Hound. I stayed out late this night, mostly by surprise. I honestly thought I would be home before midnight but I ended up having so much fun and then several of us decided to go to IHOP at around 1am or so and I ended up in bed at 3am. Yep, not something I am used to! I nevertheless paid for it yesterday because I didn't sleep in and ended up at my friend Erika's house to walk up to the picnic at the park by her house. Afterwards I went over for some Zoe lovin' and ended up falling asleep on my brothers couch for two hours!
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In the evening the main part of the reunion was going on down at the Stockyards. I didn't feel as nervous going into this one and got there in time to see Stephanie and mingle with some other people.
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I was happy to see a few of my softball friends and two others that I knew through other classes. It made me wish I was playing still, at least in a co-ed league. It is hard to find fastpitch league when you are an adult! Maybe I will look when I get back to Florida.
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This is Stephanie and me with our friend Krista. I met Krista in fifth grade and she was a gymnast and I immediately started learning fun things from her. We used to do all sorts of flips on the bars and I remember getting rips on my hands from the constant action on the bars! She was also one of my art friends and now does advertising.
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On the left is another art friend and someone that I have recently gotten to know via the wonderful world of MySpace and the internet, Sara. She's such a vibrant person and an inspiration! This is someone that I would love to get to know better and I decided that reunions are a little like weddings. You just don't have enough time to get to talk to everyone like you would really want to. A few minutes here and there and then before you know it the times has flown by.
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This photo doesn't look great because I tried lightning it in Picnic and it did a fairly poor job but I will try it again in Photoshop when I get home. I ended up winning most interesting job, which is kinda cool, but a little odd, and also the person who traveled the furthest. That resulted in a nice bottle of champagne! WOO! Bubbly! The end of the night came fast and I didn't get to say goodbye to a few people which made me sad. Thanks to the WWW I will hopefully stay in contact with a few but it could be 10 more years before I see them again. *sigh* More photos here.

So, that is how things are going so far. I have other thoughts but can't quite put them down. I just feel a little sad that we're meandering through life and people are going on about their lives as I am.

Some Zoe and Kayla love today...:) I will have cute baby photos tomorrow!

Apalachicola Wildlife
October 1, 2008
I meant to get a post up last night but for the past week we've been having internet issues. We've had to reset the modem a zillion and a half times and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and often times we will have internet for an hour and then it goes 'poof'. Chris has been on the phone with Comcast at least three times and all three times they gave difference explanations. Alas, internet is a bit spotty so I am going to break the Apalachicola trip down a little bit. Plus, it is easier to do it this way. I find blogging big trips so time consuming, though rewarding because I get it all written down, but the fact of choosing photos, processing them for Flickr and then writing about it all...a chore! Do I need more chores in my life? Heck no!

Today I am going to focus on some of the wildlife we saw on the trip. We drove up last Friday and took the slightly longer route of going along the coast once we arrived to Perry. I highly suggest taking that route if you are looking for off the beaten path. The couple of counties around the bend of the panhandle are called the "Forgotten Coast" because about 10 or so years ago a travel magazine completely forgot to put them in the magazine. I would also suggest it is because it is sparsely populated and not a mega tourist destination like Pensacola to the west or any of the southern cities. It is definitely a different coastline, too, with pine trees nestling the beach front areas and the woods snuggling up to the homes.

We arrived in Apalachicola National Forest in the late afternoon and found our way to the Camel Lake campground. It is a first come, first serve area with just a few campsites, maybe 10-15. Perfect! We picked our spot overlooking the lake and set up camp for the weekend and then took a walk around the lake. On Saturday morning we were planning a long hike of around nine miles and so we got up early and downed some oatmeal and got on the road. The Florida Trail was less than 300 yards from our site so we picked that up and walked about two miles until we took a spur loop off to the east to take us back south to catch the southern end of the trail again. The woods in this area are very different than what we are used to, with the decaying pine needle aroma and the
titi swamps that came at just the right time to refresh Baloo's thirst. In all the trip was about 8 miles, with some discrepancy in the signs that were posted versus was is in our Florida Trail guidebook. We walk about 2 miles an hour so we figured out the approximate mileage from that, including our stops for water and lunch. We were lucky to have a large pond, complete with a gator, to refil our water bottles halfway.

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When we arrived on Friday evening we set off down one of the forest roads, and in case you didn't know, state forests have a zillion jeep/logging roads going through them, and found a little butterfly oasis. There were a ton of butterflies sipping nectar from the liatris and other wildflowers that were blooming.
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hummingbird moth
This is a super cool photo of Chris' that he took while I took a nap on Saturday after the hike. He went back to that spot and found a hummingbird moth drinking nectar as well. This is such a cool photo and he printed it out for our photo class tonight. I can't get over how shrimp-like the body looks!
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Camel Lake Pygmy Rattler
On our hike Baloo was running fifty or so feet in front of us, checking out the trail and just being excited that he was off his leash, and twice he just walked right over a snake. The first was probably a black racer, as I only saw half the body and the rest was buried in the brush, but the second was this pygmy rattlesnake! Chris narrowly missed stepping on it and then got excited that he could get some photos. It was still really cool that morning so the snakes hadn't warmed up yet and Chris was able to manipulate the snake with a stick in order to curl up and pose for him! I had to put Baloo on the leash and stand a 100 or so feet ahead on the trail so Baloo would go up and play with the snake!
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There were more butterflies on the trail.
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One of the main reasons we went up to Apalachicola is because the carnivorous pitcher plant lives up there. Well, there are many species, but one of a larger species lives in this area. This is a lynx spider chilling on the top of one of the pitcher plants.
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camel lake sunrise

I will try and post again tomorrow with some of our excursions on the way home. We stopped at two other state parks. Then on Friday it is off to Texas for me for two weeks! I am excited to be going but a little nervous at the same time. Two weeks without Chris and the animals! :( My 10 year highschool reunion is this weekend and I hope I get to see some people I haven't seen since the last day of school. I didn't go to graduation...I was out at sea! And then backpacking the next weekend with my dad and brother and then finally the original reason I was going home was to be in a wedding of one of my best friends. So, busy, busy for me!

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