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The National Parks
September 27, 2009

If you are a fan of the US National Park system, don't miss this documentary by Ken Burns on PBS, starting tonight. Ken Burns is a great documentary film maker and I had the pleasure, (ok, it was...) to watch
The Civil War while floating on theTexas Clipper II in the South Pacific because our history teacher made us. It would have been nicer to watch South Pac sunsets, but you know, humming along to Dixie and Battle Hymn of the Republic is just a good...*snort*.

Anyway, don't forget to check it out!

My Michelle
September 27, 2009

Happy Birthday
Michelle. I hope 30 is a fantastic year! Tell me that is a wonderful age so that in 10 months I won't be so sad.

List of Things
September 26, 2009

Garden Candles
September 23, 2009
cassia alata
Cassia alata, Candlestick cassia, on our side yard.

We had another one of these in the backyard but it died. A GardenWeb acquaintance gave us a variegated one once, but it died as well. This one has grown by leaps and bounds and it suits the side yard well. Our window is right by this and I can see the leaves up against the window. Like many in the Fabaceae (bean) family, the leaves fold up at night. I love this little---large plant.

  • The Boo is here! ;)
  • I got to meet Pumpkin today when I picked him up. Reminded me a lot of little Leo when he was a wee thing. Pumpkin has been adopted...or will be soon I should say!
  • More proof that Aggies rock. I don't see any t-sips doing this. ;)
  • Remember our trip to Bolivia and to Inti Wara Yassi? Well, it appears that Parque Machia where we went is in line for being destroyed in order to build a road. There have been some negotiations about trying to purchase the land, moving the road elsewhere and doing an environmental impact study, but apparently people don't care enough about IWY and construction has begun. Not to mention nearly hurting volunteers and animals while they were at it. It's pretty devastating and upsetting; Eliana and I were wishing we had tons of money to donate in order to save the refuge. I always wanted to go back and spent a few months there. Perhaps at Pargue Ambue Ari instead. While at the dentist's office last month I saw a short snippet in Outside magazine about an animal refue in Bolivia. I knew it had to be IWY and I went online and found the gallery. I just now found the article, which I will have to read in full tomorrow, but here it is. I have to say, it was a crazy thrill having a puma rubbing up against your leg. That sure wasn't little Leo.

My mom is here for a few days. We're planning massages, facials, pedicures, lots of food, coffee, relaxing, crafting and some beachy goodness. WOO!

Goodbye Summer
September 21, 2009
goodbye summer
Goodbye Summer. I won't miss you too much. I won't miss the mosquitoes, the unyielding heat that caused sweat to drip from my forehead when I barely did anything outside. Summer, you are too cruel, but Fall, you are beautiful and I welcome you with open arms. Except your little Daylight Savings Time bit, you are probably one of the best seasons.

Around Corkscrew
September 20, 2009
I haven't felt much like doing anything this week. I've drove nearly 200 miles a day three times this past week to get to the other coast for one reason or another. Two of the days were spent at a grass identification workshop through
the Institute for Regional Conservation. My knowledge of grasses is about this much, imagine about 2cm between my thumb and my pointer finger. In college I knew dune and salt marsh plants fairly well, but I work around freshwater marshes and really don't know that much aboug grasses. The typically just run together, or I will think it is one genus and it is something completely different. So, I went to this class for work in hopes I would learn a bit more and it could help out on some of the things I do.

On the second day I really wanted to get up earlier than the already early time I had to get up to get over there by 8am, but I failed miserably. So I spent my lunch break wandering the boardwalk and then snapped a few others while we were in the field identifying plants. Here is a sampling.

scarlet creeper
Ipomoea hederifolia, scarlet creeper.
encyclia tampensis
Encyclia tampensis, butterfly orchid.
strapleaf log
A log of strapleaf ferns.
climbing milkweed
Sarcostemma clausum, white climbing milkweed.
big gator
The gator just wouldn't move! He caused a bit of a ruckus before slipping off to the side.
Peucetia viridans, green lynx spider, just for Sara.

On the agenda for this week: Finish the garden work. I spent 4 hours out in the yard this morning and early afternoon and stopped because I got tired and the mower was out of gas. Hope to wrap it up tomorrow and Tuesday. My mom is coming for a visit later in the week! House and Grey's Anatomy are new! I am also getting An Echo in the Bone delivered by FedEx sometime on Tuesday...yippiee!!! Good stuff!

Both posts were originally written on the 20th, but I got lazy and didn't upload until the 21st.

Pumpkin the Kitten: Up for Adoption
September 20, 2009
Pumpkin!!! Kitty up for Adoption.
Eliana is currently fostering this little kitten and she wants me to help put a PSA out for the adoption of this little gal. If you are local to South Florida, or even up in the Orlando area and are willing to drive to the Miami area, please send me an email.

Here is Eliana's write up about little Pumpkin:

My name is Pumpkin. My kittenhood didn't start out so great; I was dumped outside a store and the woman who took me home kept me in a tiny cage for the last few was very hot and I had no room to move or play as I grew. That made me really sad because I am one of the most loveable, affectionate cats you'll ever meet. But how could I give love to anyone if I was locked up all the time???

My luck changed when I was brought in to be spayed - I must have impressed the staff with what a sweet girl I am because they offered to foster me and find me a forever home. Not to brag, but they actually said that I am probably the most loving cat they've ever come across in many years of cat rescue. Wow! *blush* I've been having a great time at their house, snuggling up to their doggie who loves to lick me all over, just like my mama used to.

I'm really happy now, but they already have quite a few pets so they're looking for a forever home for me! And I'm rarin' to go. I promise to be the greatest cat EVER - you'll love how I love to purr, sleep in your lap, chase you around the house and just be a good kitty.

I've been spayed, dewormed, vaccinated, and tested negative for FIV/FeLuk. I need a home where I will be indoors only and not declawed (ouch!). And most of all, I need owners who will show me the unconditional love that I will freely show them.

Come on, help a kitty out!!

Samson and Leo approved!

September 15, 2009
Chris and I like to play a game, usually while we're hiking or driving in the car. It's called the Who Do You Love More game, as in, "Who do you love more, Samson or Leo?" Throw in Baloo if he's with us. One of us will say Samson and the other picks Leo. We always switch it around. Sometimes he loves Leo more and sometimes he loves Samson. It doesn't matter. Sometimes we say, "Who's the best? Samson or Leo?", and it goes on like that. But, of course we love them both but for whatever reason we are thinking of the lovely little qualities that we see in each of the animals. For the non-animal lovers, or the people with human kids, you might not understand. Our kids are our cats at the moment, and Baloo, too. We often include Baloo even though he is with Eliana now. You can't love one separately or independently, but you love them both the same. It's impossible to love them separately or one better. Of course, I don't have any devil cats, so I don't know how that would work out.

There's two places I'm going with this, so bear with me.

The first is that I just finished reading My Sister's Keeper, which I couldn't determine how much I liked. The story was good, it kept me hooked, but what left me with a bad taste was the mother, Sara's seemingly over powered devotion to the middle sibling and oldest daughter, Kate. Even if you are briefly acquainted with the novel you probably know that the youngest daughter, Anna, is responsible for donating a lot of her blood, cells and marrow to Kate since Kate has a rare form of leukemia. Or, if you've seen the movie, you know the story (which I haven't seen yet). What bothers me about Sara is that while she says many, many times throughout the book that she loves her children equally, it really doesn't seem that way. For one, she's left the oldest kid, Jesse, mostly high and dry. He became the trouble maker of the family, of course because of the lack of attention. Then there's Anna, who is basically the savior for Kate, coming to her aid the entire course of her life, donating this and that, and it doesn't really feel like Sara cares about any of the physical pain that Anna has to go through, even though she says she does. I was just really bothered with her character. I felt like she had it coming to her with the ending, which I won't go into because it was a surprise for me, but it really seemed like she brushed off her other two children because the one was incredibly sick throughout the years. I just don't understand that. How you can not love all of your children equally? I suppose it might be different if your child grows up to be a rapist or ax-murderer, but then, you probably think about the 5 year old you knew, not the 35 year old crazy person.

It was a good book, I suggest reading it, but I wonder if anyone else was left with a bitterness towards Sara. Plus, I just don't see Cameron Diaz playing this character!

The second point I am going to is that I have an incredible little niece, Zoe. I can't imagine loving something more than I love her (and I'm not talking about the love of your parents or your spouse, it's different), but I now have to make some room in my heart for someone else, her sibling. I thought there'd be a few more years to love on Zoe by herself, but I am going to be an aunt again next year! My sister in law said that she couldn't imagine what she and my brother did before Zoe was born and how life must've been boring. I do remember life without Zoe, but it has been so great having Zoe in my life, what little I have gotten to see of her (my fault for living many states away), and so now it is a little hard (but exciting!!) to think that there's going to be someone else that I will love to bits and pieces and will want to bite their little cheeks and cuddle up with and giggle at when they say "veggie". And I will look back at this time next year and wonder how on Earth we could've went so long without him or her. (It's a him, I can feel it. :) )

More Quiet Garden Moments
September 13, 2009
Sep 13 2009_2791
We went up to Jonathan Dickinson State Park with Baloo today in search of pine lillies. It must not be a good year for them in the park because we found three old ones and that was it. Last years we counted upwards of 20+ in the 3 mile walk we did. It was a little dissapointing to leave there without taking a photo. We should have kept walking; I felt bad leaving after only two hours in the park.
Sep 13 2009_2790
That was ok, because we came home and took a good, long nap. I was about to get up at 4pm to work in the yard when I heard a rumble of thunder and shortly after the rain came. So much for that. I did manage to take a few of these shots today.
Sep 13 2009_2777
I saw The Time Traveler's Wife yesterday with a friend. It was a good movie, very sad, and I wish I had read the book first. I think what I loved the most was seeing some early to mid-90's clothes. Sometimes I look around and think that times haven't changed much, until I really look hard at old photos or rewatch Clueless.
Sep 13 2009_2779
My friend also let me borrow a book, My Sister's Keeper, which I started this morning and am already nearly halfway through. She told me it was on her daughter's highschool reading list. She's a freshman. I'm just curious when books like this becamse on the reading list for highschoolers. I remember having to read My Antonia by Willa Cather before 9th grade. Oh, and Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. I just don't feel that My Sister's Keeper is destined to be an American classic.
Sep 13 2009_2780
I think I bought these little metal balls at Bed, Bath and Beyond, in hopes of actually having tillandsia's or orchids growing out of them. We put spaghnum moss in them and I'm fairly certain an orchid which promptly died and now it is a host to these ferns that just popped up. It's pretty anyway.
T. streptophylla pup
This is a T. streptophylla pup from a larger plant that has now flowered. There is another plant in the neighborhood, a few blocks away, that has bloomed but I didn't see a pup on it yet.
Sep 13 2009_2792
This escapee is a Dischidia spp.. The porch is a jungle right now. I couldn't believe how our vanilla orchids have just meandered across the porch in a mass of tangles. I started to think about working it out and then decided it wasn't worth the headache.

I managed another mile jog today, with some walking of course. But my legs felt better as did my breathing. Keep on swimming, as Dory says.

A few notes:
Chelle: No the stinky plant hasn't bloomed again this year. The Amorphophallus only blooms every other year or so once they are to blooming size and only last a day or two. So, no stinky plants for us right now. I think it's a fun addition to any garden, though! ;) As for gardens for Texas, start looking into bulbs. Fall is the time to get them in the ground for spring. And I think bluebonnets are sown in the fall for spring as well. I would look at Wildseed Farms, plus you can buy maroon bluebonnets. JP will love you. ;) Then, there is always the wonderful Aggie Horticulture site, and here's your region. Maybe I'll do a garden site roundup this week.

Chris & Kris: Hi, nice to 'meet' you! I would love to email you back or see your website, but you don't post it when you comment. Please let me know who you are so I can say hi! I am guessing you are in S. Florida because of your Fruit & Spice Park comment. :) Thanks!

Everyone else: Thank you for your comments. :) I always love reading them. I have resigned awhile back that comments are my 'life' on the blog, but they sure do make it fun. So, I continue to write, comments or not.

Happy Rainy Sunday!

The Dog and the Garden
September 10, 2009
the boo
Someone is here!!!! We stole him. Ok, we borrowed him for the weekend. And he fits in like he never left. Although, you should have seen Samson's face when I opened the front door to let Baloo in before I went back to get my stuff out of the truck. It was a look of dumb amazement. Baloo whizzed by him to get to Chris and Samson stood wide eyed, turned his head and if he could talk he would have asked, "Why on Earth is this dog back?" The only bad part about this arrangement is that he isn't allowed to get on the bed or futon. He wasn't originally supposed to get on either one when we got him to dogsit a year and a half ago, but after a few months he became part of the family and just ended up on the bed all the time (sorry Marc!). Drat. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion that is where he will be while we are away at work tomorrow. Stretched out on the futon. All I need to look for are the dog hairs he leaves behind.

You should see him now; he's stretched out in the computer room floor, legs out, one ear perked up and a little green ball he loves just beside him. I miss the boy. I'm glad he's back for a weekend sleepover!!

Since Baloo was out in the yard I went out to putter around, to see what was blooming. I'm such a neglectful gardener these days. I'm planning an autumn cleanup this weekend. Lots of weeding, plant listing and repotting a few things.
A symbol of Fall, beautyberry, Callicarpa americana. I love this plant!
blackberry fruits
The blackberry lilies, Belamcanda chinensis, are setting their beautiful little fruits. Such an easy plant to sprout from seed.
pallens flower
This is a native passionvine, Passiflora pallens, that Chris tracked down online. We've been growing it for several months and there are a few fruit on it.
Sweet little fruits, almost grape-like.
Necklace pod, Sophora tomentosa, a plant that needs to get in the ground and a native. It is almost constantly blooming and I have a zillion seed pods.
white succulent
I'm not sure what this succulent is, I think I got it in a trade. It grows on a straight, tall stalk and is mostly green, but the top turns into white with some pink essence.
My okra is still doing quite well, but I haven't harvested any in forever so most of it is just turning brown and will be good to harvest for seeds. Oh well.
close okra
A nice closeup of the okra. I would like to draw this one.
dill umbel
These tiny little firework-like flowers are a dill umbel. Everything is starting to set seed for the fall. So dreamy...
banana water
We've had a lot of rain the past few days and the banana flowers are evidence of that. Our little barrel pond is full for once.
After a few years of many, many male gac flowers, Momordica cochinchinensis, seen here, we finally seem to have a female flowering plant on our back fence. Yippie! That means we get to hand pollinate them soon so we can get some fruit!
variegated chalice
And finally, a close up of a chalice vine, Solandra maxima, the variegated version. This plant had been taken over by all of the vines on our western fence and I thought it might not make it, but new leaves are coming out.

I haven't really taken photos in a few weeks, so walking around the garden this evening felt good. I hope to share more when I get the yard cleaned up a bit this weekend.

5 Years and 25 Lbs
September 9, 2009
I remember when running was easy. Or easier. It was never 8 minute mile easy, but it was comfortable. I tried to run today and my calves hated me, burning and aching to be at home. I could only run/walk the mile. I know, it won't take long to build back up, I just have to keep at it. I'm not sure why I became so lazy with my health habits. I remember looking forward to my runs, the neighborhood passing by me, the mp3 player blaring. Now I can find reasons to stay indoors, which is pathetic.

The last two years of college I put on a good amount of weight, at least for me. I was athletic all of my life so, it was different for me. Let's just call it my pint of ice cream and Friends time, or my Whataburger meals after work time, or the share an entire dish of brownies with my roomate time. Not too good. But, I got married and I dropped all the weight and then some and I felt great. I kept it more or less of until the past three years when I slowly just let it creep back on, the majority of it being this past year. How easy it has been to say that it was ok because I could still squeeze into my jeans. That was until this summer. This summer I was forced to buy new jeans. Well, I had long ago given up my super skinny jeans from six years ago, but my I'm 'ok' jeans were fine. Now, they are not and I'm pretty dissapointed in myself. I just feel very unhealthy.

See, the progression? The last photo was taken last week at Eliana's. I'm very rolly-polly. I wish I could be back at that 2004 photo. Lots of running in those days. I felt great, too.

So, my goal is to be very steady with working out at the gym each morning followed by a mile run/jog/walk in the evenings until I can accomplish more than a mile again. I hope in a month I can say I've actually made it somewhere and am on track. Is anyone else into a Fall fitness challenge???

Let's roll!

PS: Happy Birthday to my Dad! :)

September 7, 2009
We walked ~32 miles this weekend.

My feet hate me.

And I hate them.

The goodnews was the sockliners I bought last week were miraculous---mostly. The bad news is that my ankles decided to give me fits. Something I've not had happen in the past. We walked from Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest to Juniper Springs, north of there on Saturday. We had the gps which had a map of the Florida Trail on it, and apparently the trail has moved since the map was made. Like an extra five miles out of the way. So, the approximate 12 miles we thought we were going to walk ended up being probably 16 or 17. When you aren't mentally prepared for it, past your last water source, and really, really pissed off, it sucks.

But, we took it easier Sunday, doing about 8 miles and then this morning another 8. I could barely move on the last three miles. Samson could walk faster than me. In fact, we joked that Leo would've been at the car waiting for us had he been with us.

It was good. Except for my feet. They prevented me from being two steps behind Chris when he saw a momma bear and cub. #@*#*#*. I still haven't seen a bear in Florida. We heard two moving animals in the bushes on separate occassions and saw very fresh bear scat this morning near one of the noises. They were there; prints were commonly seen.

So, my agenda is working my ankles up. And putting the Super Feet from my old boots into my new boots. And trying to learn not to look down so much to see where I am stepping, so that my neck isn't killing me. I see lots of calf and ankles raises at the gym, followed by some running.

I'm off to pick the rest of the ticks off me. We have a video (and one from last weekend) that we will put together later on. No bears on it, though.

Art in the Afternoon
September 4, 2009
Yesterday after my dentist appointment I made a little trip to see my favorite doggie!
Look, isn't he cute!!??! He remembered me (duh, I would hope after a year and a half), gave me tons of sweet licks and let me bite his cheeks. He's learning a new trick, howling on command, but it is a trick in progress.
When I review this photo after I took it I was very glad I caught his lick in the mirror!! I miss the woggie.
art day 1
I haven't sat down to a conversational art day in a long while. I used to go to scrapbooking crops and those were always fun, talking the entire day, creating and relaxing. It was great this day, too. Something I need more often!
art day 5
Eliana hard at work for a birthday present for Marc's dad.
And Desi, a very sweet but very mean cat. Very sweet to us, mean to the other cats. Let's just say, spoiled rotten. A very good cuddling cat.
tree 2
Here's one of the trees I brought to them. The hole for this was a pain to dig and it took all of us alternating to dig through the nasty limestone fill. We don't have 'dirt', it's fill and it sucks. But, it got dug and now the tree is happily in the yard and hopefully the baby guava's on there will hold and ripen up to eat.

I now have to share with you a poem that Marc wrote and Eliana sent to me this afternoon.

The Meow Mobile is traveling thirty miles,
To arrive this Sunday in Sunny Isles!

Four hundred cats have been fixed this summer,
If we don't hit five hundred it will be a real bummer

Lindsay, Suely, Sylvia and Charlene
And all of the rest of the cat-trapping team

Will be setting their traps on the beach late at night
The cats will stroll in and the doors should close tight!

We'll make a big difference in the cat population
So let's all chip in and promote sterilization

If you are interested in bringing a cat for neuter or spay
Please call the phone line and don't delay!
-Marc Kramer

Eliana and Marc both work for The Cat Network. They spay and neuter cats from all over Miami-Dade county and they are busting their butts to do this several times a week. Eliana sent me this very sad, depressing email forward this afternoon, which had me nearly bawling at work. I would copy it here but I couldn't find an attribution to it and nothing on snopes, but let me tell you, it would have you running down to your shelter and Animal Services to save every animal you could. It always makes me sad to think that Samson was in the Cocoa Beach Humane Society for two months before we adopted him. Two months!!! I know it was because he was older, 5 or 6 at the time. Anyway, I thought it interesting that in my feed a few minutes ago I saw this post at Our Little Acre about feral kittens. Spay and neuter your animals, folks!!

Fall Crochet and Garden Work
September 3, 2009
granny square 1
There's something about Fall that makes it crochet time. I tend to put the crochet down in the summer, though not always. But, now I am envisioning a really beautiful granny square afghan made out of all of the leftover yarn I have, the acrylics. I am planning on squares of this style and then the traditional granny square as well, appending some of the ones that my grandmother had started and adding on to them. A good combination, I think.
Granny Square Favorites
Some of my favorites on Flickr that I've saved. The colors are very drool worthy, don't you think? Like beautiful bits of fiber candy.

I'm off today for the dentist, so this morning I did some yard work beforehand. Thank goodness the growing will slow down and I can catch up. It's always like this every summer, the rains just bring so much growth that I can never keep up and the heat prevents me from wanting to do a lot outside. I am giving two trees to Eliana and Marc because their backyard is pretty barren now, and all of our trees are in containers and deserve to be in the ground. So, I fought with a cypress and guava for about thirty minutes, trying to hack away at the roots that'd gone through the pots and into the ground. I had to find the largest kitchen knife that resembled a machete and chop away. Finally, I had success! I'm afraid to find out what the other pots look like. I can't wait until I have a place to actually plant things in the ground. *sigh*. I was a pretty muddy mess when I finished, and if I didn't have to head to my appointment I could have stayed out in the yard the rest of the day catching up, pulling grass out from between pots, repotting, and beginning a plant list that I've been meaning to do for years.

A gardener's work is never done, right? I think next week once I get everything cleaned up I will take a wide angle of the entire yard and show you before and after photos.

Five Things Monday
August 31, 2009
fleur de lis
Fleur de lis on a building in St. Paul, Mn. August 2009

  1. I'm trying to debate which Mr. Darcy I love better. I just finished the BBC Pride and Prejudice and while I adore Colin Firth's Darcy, I am now watching the 2005 Pride and Prejudice and think that it is probably the more beautiful of the two. The scenery, the music, and I think Matthew McFayden's Darcy is much more moody and enticing. There seems to be more interaction between Elizabeth and Darcy in the latter. You must know... surely, you must know it was all for you. You are too generous to trifle with me. I believe you spoke with my aunt last night, and it has taught me to hope as I'd scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on. ~Mr. Darcy
  2. An Echo in the Bone is pre-ordered. I luckily had $5 in Border's Rewards to use towards it and so I made off with a fairly cheap purchase. I am very interested to see how they work out the ending of the last book, to see who stays where and for how long. I don't want to spoil anything for those who may be reading it.
  3. The signs of Fall are coming but the heat of Summer is still with us. We went backpacking this weekend and the humidity had to be nigh on 100% because we were drenched. And when I say drenched, you should really say it like Mrs. Harris, Anne Shirley's minor nemesis in Anne of Avonlea.
  4. I really wish we had formal dancing, still. It really is a shame. For one, just getting up and "boogie-ing" isn't really all that great of a past-time. Slightly embarassing unless you've got a nice wine buzz going. Honestly, we should bring back dances that men might even enjoying dancing. Like say, the quadrille, or at least some good swing dancing. Plus, it would be a great excuse to dress up in fancy dresses from time to time.
  5. I am feeling the crochet bug again. I am thinking a really large afghan is in store, using up a lot of the spare/stray yarn I have.

"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us." -Mary Bennett, Pride & Prejudice

The Last of the Season
August 27, 2009

Chris and I went out to
Little Slough to check on the last of the ghost orchids for the season. We weren't sure if there would be one in bloom, but we found this one, a re-bloomer of an orchid I posted here a month or so ago. The one Eliana took a photo with. There's another one further up the tree that is in bud, but unfortunately we didn't make it around the rest of the area before the thunder started getting too close for comfort. We got out in time to see a lot of lightning in the area. Our next trip out there will probably be in a few months, when the cypress and pop ash have lost their leaves and the slough will be much brighter.

I am so ready for Fall. I am actually aching for it, the cooler weather, the different light. Fall feels so much easier than summer.

The Active Ingredient
August 26, 2009
Growing up, our pediatrician was just south of downtown Ft. Worth. We lived in the northeast portion of Tarrant county so it was always a bit of a drive to get over to the doctors office when we were sick. The big treat when we left the doctors office is that we usually drove right past the
Mrs. Baird's bakery at the corner of Henderson and I-30. The smell that came from the bakery was a yeasty goodness that made you wish to curl up in a chair and eat divine baked good the entire afternoon. I suppose as kids we probably wondered what the inside of the plant looked like, and how they made the bread, but now I just think of a cozy afternoon with lots of rich, baked foods and something warm to drink. At least, that is what the smell of bread makes me think of.

Now, I do have a bread maker and it can churn out some respectable bread from boxed ingredients. I suppose it would make great homemade bread as well, but I haven't gotten around to it. The bread machine is good for setting to bake three hours before you wake up, enticing you to wake up even earlier as you smell the yeast doing its work and rising the bread. But, I ventured into the art of handmade bread this weekend. I'd read a recipe in Mother Earth News several issues ago and put it in the back of my mind. Then I'd seen this video on another blog several months later and loved it. Again, I filed it away in my head. Finally, I decided I wanted to try the Mother Earth News recipe out and when I went to Google the recipe I found it was the same one! Sweet!

Easy No Knead Bread
Sunday around noon I started the the dough and Monday at 9pm I was able to slice into it and eat it! Now, this is a super simple recipe. It honestly takes very little effort, just patience. I ended up letting mine rise nearly 30 hours because I had started it at noon and cooking it in the morning before work was out of the question so I just kept it going. You do a few small steps, let it rise two more hours, then pop it in a very hot oven and let it do the rest. The recipe calls for a 6-8 quart Dutch oven or Corningware, but I didn't have that so I just used a 2.5 quart oval Corningware and it came out beautifully. You have to heat up the container for 30 minutes before putting the dough in it, and as soon as I flopped the dough in the dish it started sizzling from the heat!

I love this bread! It is great for just eating plain with butter, but I think it would make for good sandwiches and great dipped in olive oil and herbs. The crust is crusty and chewy and the middle is full of beautiful holes, is soft and smells divine! I'm already planning variations, maybe an oatmeal crusted one with a bit of oatmeal mixed in it, the list could be endless. Chris liked it but he said I should have cooked it a bit longer, though I followed the directions. I think that is just how the bread is supposed to be. So. Go try this recipe this weekend! It is very much worth it!

Pecan Butter
August 23, 2009
pecan butter
I've been reading on several health food blogs about making your own nut butters. I had the food processor out to make more faux Lara bars today so I decided to pull the bag of Texas pecans from my fridge out and make use of them. It is super simple to make your own nut butter! All you need are nuts and a food processor.

I didn't use a lot to begin with, unsure of how this all would work. I threw the pecans in the processor and it made a racket at first but then it slowly started chopping it into little pieces, almost a dust. Then, a few more minutes and it started to thicken up. I've read online that some people will add a little oil to it, but I think that defeats the purpose. I could have kept going and it might have gotten a bit more creamy, but I stopped since my purpose of use is to add it to oatmeal in the mornings, maybe a smidge in a Green Monster smoothie. Anyway, it is that simple! I put it in a container and into the fridge!

My other culinary adventure for the day was to begin making Easy No-Knead Bread. It isn't quite ready to start preparing to bake yet, so I think I will have to wait until tomorrow to do this. In the future I think I can easily start it in the morning before work and then bake it when I get home. We shall see! I'll have photos tomorrow. Hopefully a full, happy tummy to go along with 'em.

I've needed to stay home for a day to catch up on some things for awhile. I didn't quite accomplish everything; I never made it outside to work on the yard, but I did get a lot done. One of the items was to go through my books and some storage containers in a closet in the computer room. The books were fairly easy to do, mostly books I read once or ones that I picked up at book sales and never read. I still have magazines to donate to freecycle, though I know there are some I will want to keep. The books, I haven't decided where they are going yet. I thought about trying to sell them on Craigslist in a bulk situation, the last thing I want is to become my own bookstore and sell single books to everyone in South Florida. I just want to get rid of them. But, I may just donate them to Goodwill, too. The stuff in the closet was a little harder to go through. We still had some college notebooks and binders and in the end I was pretty tough and got rid of a bunch. It was hard to toss the Invertebrate Zoology papers because I put in some serious time for that class. I came out with a C, but so did most everyone. An A meant you had no life. So, C's were nearly A's, or at least that's what we all thought. I took notes, re-typed them, highlighted them, and had memorized phylogeny of all sorts of marine life. I snorted to myself as I re-read some of it, not knowing half of what I wrote, not 8 years later. I kept some things, papers that got a good mark, threw out the bad stuff. I mean, I do want my great-great grandkids to think I was a brilliant mind, not a procrastinator like I was (am). In 10 years it will all probably be gone, just thrown out because it was taking up space.

I found more stuff from highschool, things I thought I had thrown out years ago. Some things were older than highschool, movie stubs, little curious that I'd kept for one reason or another. Most of it I couldn't remember why I kept. I did keep my old student id's, the papers that I got when I got my drivers license, items of that nature. I also had a pile of newspapers that I know I'd gone through once before because I'd remembered that we had more than what I found. I kept all of the Bonfire and September 11 papers. I also had several YM, Seventeen, and Teen, but after a quick flip through to see Melissa Joan Hart pre-Dancing with the Stars contestant and a hunky teen Prince William, I threw them out.

Crazy how we carry pieces of our lives with us in boxes.

August 20, 2009
A little meme stolen from
Oh She Glows, 'cause I am not feeling the creativity right now.

I Am - siting at the airport in Minneapolis, my flight delayed two hours.
I Want - my stomach to stop hurting. Not sure what is going on there.
I Have - too much time before I get home. I want to be in bed!
I Wish - for a lot of things...they are secret.
I Hate - flight delays!
I Fear - not saying what needs to be said but never know how to say it.
I Hear - rolling carts along the hallway.
I Search - for a way to get motivated and productive.
I Wonder - what the weekend holds.
I Regret - not going to grad school. Yet. I might be 50 when that happens.
I Love - my Chris and that Zoe recognizes me now.
I Ache - for happiness in a career.
I Always - get frustrated with myself.
I Usually - think positively, but I often don't.
I Am Not - always nice, I can be quite a bitch.
I Dance - in my to lots of songs and in my head, I'm quite an accomplished dancer in my head.
I Sing - even though I can't.
I Never - honestly can't think of anything here.
I Rarely - let things roll off my back. I dwell on them too much.
I Cry - easily, but not often.
I Am Not Always - confident.
I Lose - at arguments because I can't argue well on the spot.
I’m Confused - why the health care debate is so heated. People think too much of themselves and don't understand that others need health care too.
I Need - a bed.
I Should - set a schedule on getting things done.
I Dream - of working for myself in some manner. Or doing something I love.
I Hope- that tomorrow goes smoothly and the weekend is good.
I Feel- like reading the book I bought for the flight.
I Appreciate- first class seats, even though I am sitting in steerage this time around. It really is better in first class.

North Country
August 19, 2009
Tonight is my last night here in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is my first trip to the state and though I have only seen the bit from the airport and what I've walked through St. Paul, it has been pleasant. Fall is already creeping in here. I could have used a jacket this morning and afternoon. This morning I woke up to a drizzly, grey day. At lunch, which was an hour and a half, I had an hour left to lounge in my room. It was so cozy sitting on the pristine white hotel bed, the plush pillows enticing me in for a nap. However, I had more training in the afternoon. During one of our afternoon breaks we were interrupted by tornado sirens. Having lived in Texas for my first 22 years I grew up with monthly tornado siren tests and tornado drills in which students milled out of classrooms and into the hallways, ducked up against the wall and covered their heads with their hands. However, I don't think I've ever actually heard a tornado siren that was for real. Of course, we all stood outside and looked around and saw nothing, but I went back in the conference room and went online and sure enough a tornado warning had been issued. They didn't say where the tornado had been sighted, but I guess it wasn't in St. Paul. The siren stayed on for a good 10 minutes or so and then went off. About thirty minutes later another one came out and of course I checked again, another tornado warning. It appears that we're in for more nasty weather tonight. As long as my windows aren't blown out from a tornado, I really don't mind. Aside from some noise outside, I feel tucked away and cozy.

I've seen the Mississippi River from states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee, but never from my hotel room and in the state it originates. I wish I'd rented a car so I could drive around the state a little bit and maybe have ducked into Wisconsin to tack on another state to my list, but I didn't. St. Paul has a really neat SkyWay system, with walkways between all of the downtown buildings. It's similar to the underground areas of D.C. and I would assume maybe NYC, but it has offices, hair and nail places, restaurants and other shops. After class I walked quite a ways east, thinking I was going north, exited an apartment building and wandered around the northern area of downtown. I ended up finding a Thai restaurant and eating pad Thai for dinner before meadering back to my hotel. Still restless I walked over one of the bridges over the river to take some photos. There hasn't been anything too exciting, mostly urban scenes, but it's better than nothing.

I had been re-reading A Breathe of Snow and Ashes but I ended up staying up late last night to finish it. I'm a little dissapointed now that I have a month to wait to start the next book when it comes out. It has been on my mind all day, wondering what was going to happen next. I get attached to characters and storylines, especially this series. Frankly I feel a little lost now. Ok, I feel lost a lot lately, not just with the book. As for lost, I mean, creatively and mentally stuck.

On the bright side I hear that I've been assigned a name, by Zoe, for the time being. Apparently I am, T/Ti/Tee, however you want to pronounce it. It's a start!!! Woo!

Tomorrow I'm bound for home, one day of work, then the weekend. Where'd August go?

Passiflora Pollination
August 16, 2009
I've been thinking about writing this up for awhile and decided to go for it today. I can't quite be sure on the species of Passiflora, (incarnata?) that I am showing here, but I know it works for this plant and for edulis. We've done it quite a bit since they don't get pollinated very well on their own by the local insect-life..









This is my last summer with a bunch of edulis. Our vine was severely cut back this spring by our neighbor who didn't know any better so I haven't even seen a flower on it this summer. 'Tis a shame. I love that fruit! Try it with smaller passionvines and let me know how it works! I just don't have a high success rate of pollination in the garden letting nature takes its course, so manually pollinating will produce a lot more fruit!

Do you think you could be this brave, showing the world what you look like a year after a tragic plane crash? I only hope I would be half the person of who Stephanie Nielson is.

Summer Seed Sale
August 15, 2009
summer seed sale
It's the end of summer and I want to clear out my seed stash a bit. Help out, would ya??? ;)

Today we've been waiting for our new washer and dryer to arrive in the beautiful time window of 1-5pm. It's 4:26pm and no one has come by yet. Hrmph. I spent most of the afternoon snoozing. I'm coming down with a cold (hopefully not Swine Flu/H1N1) and it was a good afternoon to relax because we've had rain from a tropical wave all day. It appears Tropical Storm Ana will be here by Thursday, followed shortly by TD 3/Cat 2 Storm. It was a nice, quiet summer. I guess not anymore. The only upside is that we won't have to worry about keeping the aquarium alive, just making sure our roof stays on. I'm wondering how bad the storm will be Thursday because I'm supposed to be coming back home Thursday evening. If not, I have a layover in DFW so I know of a couch to sleep on there!

Free Stuff: Scrapbook Junk
August 14, 2009
Since I hardly scrapbook anymore, the last time being this past Christmas for the December Daily album, I went through my scrapbooking stuff tonight. There was a lot of paper that I didn't want/forgot I had. Why I bought it, who knows. I must've went through a paper frenzy six years ago. Anyway, the photo below shows what I have to give away. Put your name in the comments if you are interested. I will draw a name Sunday evening (a few days later if I get no takers...) and send it out to you next weekend. I'm out of town this week or I'd do it sooner. Sooooo.....
scrapbook crap

I made a Green Monster this morning with banana, soy milk, spinach, flax seed, a smidge of soy yogurt and it was yummy! I am going to throw in some cucumber tomorrow and maybe a plum. I highly recommend it! You can't even taste the spinach! Go for it!

Green Things
August 13, 2009
My brother wouldn't send me home with his kid, so he packed up some fresh veggies from the garden.

cucumbers 2
The cucumber at the top, definitely the biggest one I've ever seen. It's Texas everything is bigger!
cucumbers 1
They are very tasty, or at least the smallest one was in my salad! Yum!! The rest will probably be made into pickles this weekend.

okra 1
Since I've been a lackluster gardener this year I've only picked a few handfuls of okra. Curt supplemented me and now I have a bag and a half in the freezer waiting for when I have time to cook it. Mmmmm, fried okra! Or gumbo. Hrm, both sound good!

The Cove via The Cleanest Line. Once upon a time I thought Sea World would be my destination in life, mind you I was 13, but I quickly realized along with every other marine biology freshmen that you didn't need a degree to train dolphins. I believe aquariums are beneficial in many aspects in education as well as in rehabilitating or housing injured animals, but I don't think there is a need to go out and capture animals just for them to do tricks. The movie looks interesting; maybe I will find a showing around here.

Is anyone else annoyed lately by the lack of good content on many popular bloggers? I speak of some creative bloggers as well as some food bloggers and to some extent garden bloggers, in that it seems to be one big ad post after another. Too many giveaway's and sponser posts, or recycled content. I am half tempted to unsubscribe to some of them. I think giveaway's have their place on occassion and are fun, but wow, some people are going overboard. I like more ad free blogs or just simple indie type ads on the side, but not blatant post after post with sponsers.

I've decided to try a Green Monster tomorrow morning for breakfast. I bought some spinach and banana's and will have a go at it. I bought a premade one at the store today and it was pretty good, so I am willing to give it a try at home. I'll keep you posted!

August 11/12, 2009
If there is one thing I learned this weekend it was that my idea of having twins one day is hilariously ridiculous. See, my reasoning was that it would only be one pregnancy to go through and that was it. Ta-da!!! Two kids and I'd be done. But, after chasing after Zoe for the past two days I've since re-thought that idea. If you can get her to lay in her crib while she naps then you get an hour or so to do something, but other than that she is into everything these days. I think I've also learned the Veggie Tales theme song, though the other ones they sing are almost unintelligible, to me at least. Zoe loves Veggies Tales and will dance and sing along and she even says veggie. It's really cute!

I'm actually very impressed with her vocabularly. She knows a lot of words and can imitate some sounds, knows what body parts like nose and eyes are and can point to them most of the time at least. Then she'll say a sentence, full out, without any prodding, but you can't get her to do it again. The cutest thing is when she claps for herself when we've told her 'good girl', and the brilliant smile she puts on.

I'd intended to do more while I was here, I'd dreamed about going to downtown Fort Worth to shoot some b&w shots, but that never happened. I'd thought I'd see more friends but didn't have the time either. Sunday morning my dad, brother and I went to the Ft. Worth Nature Center to do a hike. I brought my camera but left my SD card in the laptop at home, so no photos from that trip. We ended up hiking about 5.5 miles and it was a nice morning out there. Sunday afternoon was filled with my dad's brisket and chicken and eating Sunday lunch with the family. Later on we went to Old Navy and Tutti Frutti, a fro-yo place, and then finally, because we were kinda restless and the wine tasting place wasn't open, we ran to the grocery store to get some brie, havarty and wine for our own wine tasting at home. I picked out a good Texas wine, Peregrine Hill, that tasted pretty good and I think I turned my SIL and brother onto brie and havarty, but mostly havarty.

Yesterday was a Zoe day, playing out in the backyard in the kiddie pool and swing and then over an hour in which she fell asleep on my lap and I couldn't move her. A few errands in the middle, seeing my grandmother and then dinner and REI. Today was mostly the same except for now I am at the airport waiting for my flight to Houston and then on to Florida.

The next day...hahaha...

I made it back late. My bag was the third one out, but I had to wait on the shuttle to my car. Got home late. Went to bed. Woke up. Went to work. Had to be a field day, of course. Blech. Not that it was bad, but some days you just want to hibernate. Downloaded the rest of the photos. Love the one I'm leaving you with.

zoe grace
I think she said "misti" on the phone today, but then again maybe not?

I brought Haloscan comments back because something has messed up my comments with intense debate. It is importing older comments and I can't figure out how to fix it; it appears to be a glitch according to their website's forum. Who knows.

Zoe's First
August 8, 2009
Zoe's official birthday was on the 4th but today was the day to celebrate the day with family and friends. She's changed so much, ambling around ably, most of the time at least. She has her 'drunk baby' moments, the times when she stumbles around, feet stepping on each other, bouncing back and forth between forward and backward with the ocassional fall on the diaper cushioned bottom. But, she always picks herself back up to continue walking around, usually with a book in her mouth, sometimes a sippy cup.

Grandpa, my dad, and Zoe show her new 'trick', of showing how old she is. She was very giddy about it today, knowing that the decorated living room and kitchen was just for her!

Curt Misbehaving.
I love this photo because of the mischevous nature of my brother. Plus, the mid-air capture of the cake frosting is pretty fun to see.

My sister in law made this cake with homemade icing. Very tasty! A lot of work was put in this cake! The good thing is, there are leftovers for Sunday lunch!!

cake girl
My brother had to put some of the frosting on her face since she was a little hesitant to dig right in. The colors of the icing on her face are pretty!

Grandpa, Mimi, Zoe

My mom, Mimi, dad, Grandpa, and little Zoe. Mom broke her hand a few weeks ago so she's been dealing with the cast, but has mastered picking up Zoe practically with one arm, in a scoop-like fashion. That's Gizmo there on the bottom left, sneaking into the photo.

I played with the video setting on the new camera and it turned out pretty well. I was a bit worried about zooming in an out but it seems to have worked ok.

It's hot here. It's a different hot than Florida, more like sitting in front of a heater for the heck of it. Blech. We made it to see Julie and Julia tonight and it was great! My mom and Stephanie were cackling throughout the movie with the antics of Julia. Oh, it was great! I sense an Oscar for Meryl Streep.

Tomorrow we're up for a hike, then delicious Texas brisket and chicken in the smoker with my homemade potato salad and possibly a water balloon fight. Curt bought balloons for the party but we didn't really get to use them. Not sure about the rest of the week, but I leave Tuesday evening so time is short.

Just loving on babies, doggies and family.

Quietly Here
August 5, 2009
The longer you don't blog, the harder it becomes when you sit down to write. I think of many things throughout the day that I want to touch upon but I have lately felt the urge to write flee the moment I flip the laptop open. There are photos I still haven't shown you and it will be at least a week now before I can get to them.

I was pleasantly pleased when I opened my email yesterday morning to see an email from Barnes and Noble with the name Diana Gabaldon in the title. I had resigned myself to the fact it probably meant another side novel of hers, not the next sequel in the Outlander series as I'd been wishing for, but to my happiness it really was!
An Echo in the Bone is due out in late September! I started the series about six years ago when I had seen The Fiery Cross around. I found out it was a series so I started at the beginning and it took me several months to get through each of the approximately one-thousand page tomes. Then I was left until A Breath of Snow and Ashes came out four years ago and promptly bought it the day it came out. Now, I am re-reading it in preparation for the next book. I've just finished re-readingHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to sate my Harry Potter tastes for now; I mean, the movie just left me wanting the rest of the story. It was excellent the second time around and refreshed my memory on the long line of characters that die. I'll leave it at that for those who don't enjoy spoilers.

7/31/09, 10:42 am: The Sonic Boom Ghost Orchid
This is the photo I was shooting at 10:42 am last Friday when we heard the sonic boom from Endeavour. Not the best, but it will carry a good memory!

Blogging from Texas this weekend...expect lots of cute baby photos. I would like to get out and do an around town post, but we'll see how much time I have. See ya in Tejas!

Happy & Sad
August 4, 2009
Zoe's First Birthday. How time has flown.

The Doggie has gone home. No longer BooBoo, but BooHoo. A year and a half well spent.

Catching Up
July 31, 2009
Triple N Ranch WMA
I'm here. Sorta. It's been a busy week. Chris' mom came into town Tuesday evening so Monday evening was spent cleaning up and then every other night we've been busy doing various things like eating out, relaxing and catching a movie. The photo above is from Triple N Ranch when we went while we were in Melbourne a few weekends ago. I have a few more up on Flickr, just click the photo and it will take you to our photostream.

I'm going to do a run-down of thoughts in bullets:
  • Patagonia has a blog, The Cleanest Line. I love it so far, gear reviews, hiking articles, environmental stuff. Worth a read if you have a chance. I love Patagonia to begin with, though my wardrobe isn't necessarily all comprised of their clothes, but I love their environmental and work ethic. So, while perusing their site I came across Freedom to Roam. Awesome!

  • I finished reading Julie and Julia on Wednesday night. It was a great, easy read and made me think about having a project of my very own. That project is to be determined, but something to actually focus on. I will probably see the movie next weekend while I am in Texas; the author is a Texan, too. I thought that was very interesting. Though, if you want to read about other Texans in New York City, there is always Homesick Texan. Come on, writing about the glory of Rotel will just make you happy...ok, it makes this Texan happy. And of course King Ranch Chicken, which was a staple at my house growing up.

  • Taylor Swift's Love Story meets Coldplay's Viva la Vida

  • Today Chris and I both took the day off to spend the day with his mom, but we had to go out to Little Slough to pick up a camera that had been doing another time lapse of a double flowered ghost orchid opening. It was almost out there for two weeks. Anyway, we both wanted to get photos of the double so we let his mom stay home to do some errands and we spent the morning out there. Around 10:42 ('cause we looked at the watch right after), we heard a really loud boom, Boom! Boom!, twice in quick succession. In about a two second span of time we'd looked at each other and I thought thunder, then gunshot (which I looked around the slough for a series of men with large rifles), then atomic bomb (not that I know what an atomic bomb sounds like other than in a movie, but I thought maybe one was dropped on Miami), then I got my sanity again and we were discussing the possibilities when I remembered reading that Endeavour was supposed to return home today. Yep, it was the sonic boom from the shuttle re-entering the atmosphere over Florida. If you check that landing time at the Cape, it was five minutes after we'd heard the sound. Talk about flying through the air! It was probably just as loud or louder than thunder that occurs when lightning strikes very, very near you, in fact, probably much louder than that. I mean, we were standing there in the peaceful summer morning, not much making noise other than some locusts and some far off airplanes, when we heard it. So, talk about an interesting morning.

  • We went down to the Fruit and Spice Park this afternoon, in the dreadful heat, but it was quite nice because we got a personal tour instead of a tour with lots of other visitors. We'd lingered longer at stops to take photos, and she gave us a huge bunch of longan's, which are much like lychee, just not quite as sweet. Yum! The park is in a state of transition, in that they are working on building a new pond with some huge Victorian water lilies, but also that they are severely lacking in staff and there is some major weeding and planting needing to be done. However, it appears that the county parks department (Miami-Dade) are currently working on downsizing, probably not unlike California. Several months ago Florida was talking about closing several of its parks temporarily or on a part time basis, but I believe this was not voted for in the legislature. It really is a shame, because the Fruit and Spice park could be a super awesome park. I almost felt like weeding a bit, but my own yard needs to be weeded and I am ashamed of how awful it looks. Alas, summer is almost over and I can get back out there again, soon.

Well, I think that wraps up my rambling. I have photos galore to post, but like always it takes me a decade to get around to it.

Five Things Sunday
July 26, 2009
  1. I only managed to lose 1lb this week, much to my dismay. The workouts, I only did three at the gym, then a walk with Baloo on Wednesday and a walk yesterday, but I thought I'd been really on with my eating. Perhaps I was and just need more oomph.

  2. I prepared salads for us last week to eat at lunch with whatever else we were eating. I tend to eat leftovers for lunch and Chris usually picks something up unless he's in the office, but sometimes that can change. Sometimes I'll do soup, but I am usually hungry an hour after eating soup so I have to have something with it. I made a really good sandwich yesterday afternoon that I think I will have to recreate later: Ezekial bread, two slices of turkey, sprouts, feta, onion, and a smidge of Catalina dressing since I don't have light mayo or mustard. I sense another trip to the store tonight or tomorrow. So, I guess the main point of this is that preparing really helps. And having healthy snacks handy has really helped as well. I used to be really good at eating my midmorning snack but for the past year I know I have pushed it off and by lunch I am starving.

  3. Baloo and I didn't get the best walk in yesterday. We drove over an hour to Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Jupiter hoping to get a 3-4 mile hike in and to see if there are any early pine lilies, but I encountered rain on the way and then it was pouring when I got there and luckily slowed to a drizzle that was walkable with a rain jacket. We were about to turn north on the trail when I noticed more prominent lightning and I decided against prolonging on hike and turned around. We ended up only doing, I would guess 1.5-2 miles roundtrip. But, Baloo got to play in the mud, swim in the deep puddles like last year, and had a grand old time. I did see three deer where I parked the truck and then another on the drive out. The walk in the rain was pretty peaceful; however I was talking to Baloo a lot.

  4. I bought Julie and Julia and am loving it so far. I needed a good book to escape in.

  5. Chores call. No photographs this weekend, no art work, just chores and maybe I can get an hour or two of reading in tonight. I feel ready for Fall for some reason.

Leo in a Box
July 24, 2009
leo in a box
Leo wanted to pop out and say hello! He's such a cutie! I love this cat! My favorite thing about him is his little head butt-kiss thing. He lowers his head and reaches out to me and I'll kiss his head. We can keep that going for awhile. Yesterday he was frustrated that I wasn't paying enough attention to him while I was drawing (he likes to sit on the desk with me) and he started head butting my face, desperate for some attention! Little squirt!

The Pink Banana
And here is the little drawing I did last night. Pastel pencils on claybord, I think 4x6. I 'matted' it in Photoshop. It looked weird on the computer cropped close and unmatted. Of course I came in this evening and started finding lots of things wrong with it, but Chris is convincing me otherwise. Why am I such a harsh critic? I keep seeing little things I'd like to change. It's already sprayed so I will put some glassine around it and stow it carefully. Or maybe put it up somewhere in the computer room to display it.

Baloo and I are going to spend some quality time together tomorrow doing a little hike. He will be leaving us next week. Eliana and Marc found a place to rent and are moving in Monday. I am not happy about this. Ok, ok, I'm happy they are staying put for awhile, but I am not happy that Baloo is leaving us. He's my other son in this animal household. He's one of the boys and I love it when there are five of us piled on the bed. As much of a bed-hog that he is, I will miss his bed-hogginess. I will miss coming home to dancing dog, once that waltzes to the tune of a hungry stomach. The dog that has the smelliest farts, but sits there like he didn't do anything in the world. The dog with the best cheeks to bite on. The one with the cutest little face and eyes, the ones that loves you even when you are mad at him for misbehaving. Stinky Baloo. Stinky Eliana. Why'd you make me fall in love with your dog???!!! Crap.

July 23, 2009
Still sifting through photos from two weekends ago. In the midst of that I am reorganizing our backup hard drive into better categories so that is taking my time as well. I managed to only find about one moonrise photo that was any good to share. Since I didn't have my tripod I was laying on the sand and using the backpack as a balance. Very difficult. It was a very awesome moonrise as there were clouds on the horizon. I only wish some of the initial ones came out. This is ISO 400, which might actually produce a decent quality 5x7 print. I will have to test it out at Target sometime.

I've been battling a painting for awhile now. I posted it on Flickr for some critiques and then started working on the suggestions, basically redoing the entire painting, or repainting all of the pieces, really. Then, I get to the problem petal. It was all I could do not to just crumple up the canvas and throw it in the trash. I decided against that and will wait until I get a breakthrough on the technique of doing it. Sometimes these things just come to you, you get the feeling and idea of how to do it. This isn't something I can really explain, but it's more of an Aha! moment. Then, everything flows and you are at peace with the painting again. Who knows, maybe I will never find the peace with it.

I've been really wanting to draw or paint again and I wanted to blow it off, to focus on something else, but it was just itching at the surface. So, tonight I pulled out a small pastel-bord and started drawing with some pastel pencils I bought several months ago at Michael's with a 40% off coupon. Ah, it felt so good! I actually finished the piece in about an hour! Normally I take breaks, let it sit and simmer inside me. Yes, this is incredibly hard to say, but sometimes pieces have to sit and think. It's mostly so I don't overdo it and either mess it up or do poor quality work. But, today, it just flowed. Yes!!! Of course, it has to sit overnight to settle in my head before I can share it with you. I will probably do a few small touchups, spray it, photograph it, and then post it tomorrow!. Finally, a complete piece, small as it may be!

July 22, 2009
Pull up a towel, sit under the umbrella, sip the margarita/pina colada/soda/water/lemonade, and enjoy the view.


Out to Sea

Along the Shore

blowing rocks 4

Blowing Rocks Preserve, a couple of weekends ago.

Peach Banana Sherbet
July 21, 2009
Yesterday I posted the recipe to the
banana soft serve. I tried it last night and it was heaven! I think I would have added a smidge of cocoa powder to sweeten/flavor it up. Tonight I thought I'd try out a peach with it, so before dinner I cut up one banana and a peach and froze them. It tastes like sherbet or a sorbet! You have to try this out! I might throw some more exclamation points in for more emphasis....!!!!! The only downside is I will be washing my food processor a lot more often. Tomorrow I will try banana, strawberry a smidge of cocoa powder.

That is all. Go. Enjoy some blended frozen fruit!

July 20, 2009
You know you have to change when you can't find clothes to wear. It's pathetic, really. I can't believe I let myself go back to how I was 7 years ago after college. Practically at the same weight and not able to wear the clothes in my closet. I haven't pinpointed the culprit yet, but this time it isn't pints of ice cream with a side of Friends, late night trips to Whataburger after work, or splitting the dish of brownies with my roomate. It boils down to reduction of exercise, overeating at times, some ice cream (oh, dear Blue Bell, why did you come to Florida?), letting soda's back into my life and probably a smidge of a medication change. Crap! So, I have now have two pairs of jeans that I am rotating during the week and of course I spilled food at lunch on the ones I'm wearing so I will have to toss them in the wash tonight. This is not good.

The plan? Actually getting my ass back into the gym every morning during the week, two runs a week with Baloo, and preparing my snacks and lunches better. Oh, how easy it is to eat whatever is given to me at work. Cake? Sure!!! Big pile of spinach dip? Heck yeah! Gimme that pulled pork and chicken wings with a side of whose ever birthday it is. Yeah, that's how it happens people! You give in!! It was easy to just say, yeah I've gained a little weight but I can still wear my clothes...until you can't wear your clothes. I bought cold brew iced tea for work to drink at lunch. I drink water most of the day but I like a little something different for lunch and I had started grabbing rootbeer's and Sprite's. I actually envy myself in this case. I envy myself of two or more years ago. Le sigh.

So, I started reading health food blogs, which are great. I'm not quite into the whole juicing thing yet, but it does look tempting, or at least they make the green bubbly goo they drink in the mornings look good. There are also some good raw food blogs that look interesting, not something I plan on taking up, but you know, for trying new things out. I was on a forum yesterday and someone posting a link to a blog that had homemade Lara bar recipes. I love
Lara bars but rarely buy them as they are pricey and I usually cannot find them at a convenience store. For the uninformed, they are pretty much vegan, whole food, dairy free, gluten free, delicious goodness. Just think of a fruit bar with some nuts all rolled into one. Anyway, I can't find the link to the one I used, but this blog, Enlightened Cooking pretty much sums it up. Very, very simple! Of course, I had no idea dates had seeds in them so I had some seeds in a few of the bars until I figured out they had seeds, but they taste great! I made a bunch up with almonds, used some leftover cherry and blueberry dried fruit mix and then also used some dried mangoes in another. My next experiment is this: banana soft serve. Several blogs have raved about it, so I will try it for desert tonight. If it rocks, it's going on my desert list for awhile!

Here are some of the blogs I have liked so far:
Heather Eats Almond Butter
Choosing Raw
The Fitnessista
Kath Eats Real Food
Oh She Glows

Storm Behind the Dunes: Blowing Rocks
I took this at Blowing Rocks last weekend on our way home from Melbourne. I still haven't processed any of the other photos. I started looking but I am overwhelmed with it all. I did like a few of the shots I took of a storm coming up behind the dunes. This was originally in color, and while I did like it, I decided to change it to black and white. More soon hopefully.

Swamp and Dog Park Adventures
July 19, 2009
Eliana came over yesterday morning so we could take her out to Little Slough to see ghost orchids. She and Marc had been with us at another location before we went to Bolivia to find ghost orchids but they were out of season and none were blooming. Then they went on their
cross country adventure and missed last season. They were doomed to miss this season as well, but Eliana decided to come over and try her luck. We ended up finding the one we saw two weekends ago still in bloom!
There's another right around the tree that is going to have a double flower in a few days so Chris set up the time lapse on it.

On our way out there we spotted a plane flying low. It appeared to be the panther tracking plane, but we weren't sure. It was on our minds as we were entering the slough that maybe there was a panther or bear in the neighborhood. Of course, I completely forgot about it once we got into the slough. Once we sat our bags down I was immediately hit with shakes and I needed a snack. I've consulted Dr. Google and I think I am hypoglycemic. This isn't something new that I've thought about, but it makes some sense. Since I had stopped doing the dairy thing this past year it has helped with my throat and asthma problems, but I had been bringing it back into my diet at different occasions. Well, I think I am eliminating bagels and cream cheese for breakfast now and working on something better. It was bad enough that I couldn't hold the camera still and there was plenty of light to get a good photo, but they were blurring.

After I ate a granola bar I was still feeling a bit ick but walked back over to Eliana and Chris when we heard a low growling noise. My first thought was it was a gator since we were thigh deep in water. I looked around and didn't see anything. Then we started thinking it was a panther or a bear and Chris started scrambling to his bag for our whistle and we were making loud noises to scare it away, but we kept hearing this low growl. It would stop and then start and I really started to shake then. I was ready to high-tail it out of there. We obviously weren't going to get anywhere fast walking through the water so we stopped and yelled more and then listened closer. It was fading. It was an ATV. I swear, though, it really sounded like a growl and we all thought so. Chris was approached by a bear last year and managed to get it to turn around and go away, but he was pretty freaked out, too. I can't even imagine, here I am freaking out over an ATV-panther-bear and it wasn't even real.

After we got our wits about us again we started looking around the swamp again.
fishing spider 1
Here's a closeup of a a fishing spider, I think it's Dolomedes okefinokensis. Eliana put her hand on the tree and narrowly missed the spider. Not long after it started spitting white fluid, which she said she got a shot of. Ick. They are pretty cool looking, crazy fast, too.
caterpillar 1
These cute little caterpillars are everywhere right now but I have no idea what they are. Anyone?

After the slough we came back and took Baloo to a dog park. He loves the dog park because he knows there are two watering holes that he can play in!
Shake a bit..

I cut the water in half by magic!

Nom, Nom, Nom
He's such a goof ball! :)

Quiet Little Flower
July 16, 2009
turkey creek morning glory
I have yet to sort through last weekends photos. I've looked at them, obtained an idea of what they look like, but haven't really sat down to decide which ones worked out best. I did love this little morning glory at Turkey Creek Sanctuary. Morning glories are a vine that I'd love to have a collection of, along with passiflora and maybe a corner of bougainvillea that would never be touched because of the thorns. The boughs of bougainvillea in the Keys are beautiful, creating arbors to driveways and entrances of tucked away homes.

I'm working on redoing some sections of the site. I am taking down 2003-2005 archives. Blogging was different then, I had a smaller audience, (not that I have a huge following here...I'm not Dooce afterall), and my writing and goals were different. I will keep that for me here and hopefully if you've been tortured through reading it, thanks for being patient. I'm also working on making the art section different. I am adding a photography section with galleries and if I can ever get productive and produce some art, eventually put it in galleries as well. I would like to have them available here and on Etsy, but I am not sure how I will work that out yet. Once I get the layouts going I will start sorting through photos more. I have some in mind, but I need to find the really special ones. The all-stars.

A few things from 'round the net:
  • If I lived in Canada I would be very interested in Keri Smith's house for rent. Click on the photo tour and look at the winter shots. They are very Avonlea. Well, now I feel an Anne marathon coming on.
  • Via my brother, this blog 100 Days in Glacier. Beautiful daily photos of scenes around Glacier National Park.
  • Zoe walking and 'talking'...can't wait to see her in a month!
  • Bridget Jones #3. I can't wait and hopefully it involves more Colin Firth! "Well done Bridge, 4 hours of careful cooking and a feast of blue soup, omelette and marmalade!"
  • Speaking of Bridget Jones, I enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Jones onscreen at Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. In all the movie was good, but it was a bit slow at the beginning. There were some backstories that seemed to be thrown in, specifically phrases most often, that seemed to come out of nowhere. I also think they changed the last big scene, and I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet. Or read the books. I remember an Invisibility Cloak in that scene...anyone else? I was a bit let down at the end because I wanted it to continue. I think I will have to read the last book again soon so I feel little more content.

Summer Music
July 14, 2009
There are songs that are the epitome of summer. The songs that remind you of being a kid growing up, the grass between your bare feet, the smell of the summer evening permeating your body...(ok, that's just sweat). There are the songs that remind you of roadtrips, or the beach with tinges of Coppertone throw in for good measure. My top 5 summer songs are, in no particular order:

  • Sunset Grill by The Eagles. This song says Texas Coastal Bend all over it. It reminds me of Coppertone tanning oil that my dad used to lather himself in, tar balls on the Pt. Aransas and Rockport beaches, and driving down U.S. 77 the 6 hours from Ft. Worth to Rockport.
  • Boys of Summer by The Eagles, yes again. I love the Eagles, what can I say?!? Total beach song as well, it reminds me of flip flops and snow cones.
  • Love Don't Live Here by Lady Antebellum. On the weekends we typically listen to country in the morning on a way to a hike or wherever we are going for the day. This song played a lot last summer so it goes on my list.
  • Southbound 35 by Pat Green. Even though I didn't listen to it during the trip, the summer of 2001 I drove from Galveston to College Station, to Austin and then up to Ft. Worth visiting friends all with a car that didn't have air conditioning. My car was black and it was definitely 100* and I remember it being very dusty. Pat Green reminds me of driving around Texas even if I wasn't listening to to him at the time.
  • Learning to Fly by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Many summer evenings growing up were spent on the back porch eating dinner with my family with the stereo cranked to one of the classic rock/rock artists that my dad liked. Corn and ribs is coming to mind as I think of this and my dog Sandy.
What are some of your summer songs???

Tomorrow evening is reserved as Harry Potter time. Oh, Dumbledore. I miss eagerly awaiting the books, cautiously reading each page, careful not to read ahead, and finishing in a day or two the 800 pages. I suppose the only one left is An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon.

I also really want to see Julie and Julia. Perhaps I could read it before I see the movie. Meryl Streep looks to play a great Julia Child!

July 13, 2009
We went up to Melbourne this past weekend for my birthday. The shuttle launch was supposed to be on Saturday but ended up being postponed until Sunday, then today and now Wednesday. That's ok 'cause I really wanted to go see sea turtles. The two summers that we lived there we really enjoyed going to the beach, especially on full moon nights, to watch the sea turtles come up and nest. Once we were lucky enough to find two babies that had hatched and we watched them go to sea. They were named Chris and Speedy. I hope they are still alive out there, somewhere!

Sea turtles do nest down here, just not in the abundance that they do up there. We have many more condos and traffic, plus manicured beaches that the turtles necessarily like. In a few weeks we will do our annual trip to Haulover Beach in North Miami to see sea turtles released. I actually have photos and video from last year but I haven't even uploaded them!!! I know, for shame! We go to the release with the aquarium club down here, the one Chris used to be really involved in.

Anyway, we went out to the beach and walked our old route. The moonrise was supposed to be at nearly 11pm. When it is pitch black on the beach it is incredibly hard to decipher if what you see is really a turtle. Shadows and vegetation can play tricks and really the only way is to walk down to the water line and look for tracks. We peered into the sand for a few minutes with a shadow, decided to walk down a little, realized it was a turtle and went back about 50 yards to sit and wait. If you spook a turtle while she is coming on shore she can easily turn right back around and not dig a nest and lay her eggs. This is called a false crawl. Sometimes they do it because they didn't like the sand, maybe it was too compacted, or an animal spooked them. So, beach walkers have to be careful to wait until the sand stops flying and she's laying her eggs to even get close for a good look. Don't forget, no lights or flash! This is why it is better to wait until a full moon so you can get a decent look at the turtle. We tried to take photos with long exposures and were mostly unsuccesful. I think Chris may have had better luck because he had a tripod (apparently there was another in the car for me...hrmph...) but this is what I managed to get. These are ISO 3200 and set on 'Bulb' for shutter speed, which means you hold it down for an unlimited amount of time. Then, I photoshopped the hell out of them so you can even see the turtle. We saw three loggerheads Saturday night.

Momma Returning to Sea

Momma leaving her mark on the world...babies in about 60 days.

Summer 2000---ridley
Someday I want to see an arribada of my favorite turtle, Kemp's ridley.

In other news if you are interested in wild and open lands in South Florida you will be interested in a proposal to open some areas of Big Cypress National Preserve to Off Road vehicles. They are called the 'Addition Lands'. Sun Sentinel article. I really hate the misnomer of preserve. When Chris and I hiked from Tamiami Trail to 75 and from the Seminole Reservation to 75 we saw many buggy trails, with the majority in the middle section. They criss-crossed in a lot of locations and they are incredibly destructive to habitats. The quotes in the article that are for the vehicles are ridiculous. I've been on a buggy for work, trust me, they are loud and you can hear them. I've even left them on so I could find my way back from doing work in the field, yes, you can hear them and so can the animals. Ugh, and to be able to get within walking distance of where you want to go...what is that distance? 500 feet? 1 mile? 5 miles? I agree with having more points of entry along Alligator Alley, but I think there should be more backcountry hiking trails from some of the current buggy trails and old levees, with decent camping spots. There is a public meeting for commenting, but I will be out of town. I do plan on writing a letter about this. Chris and I were lamenting about the lack of decent hiking stores down here and hiking options in general. I really think that if there were more blazed trails in Big Cypress with camping spots and it was publicized more people would get out and see the 'glades. They don't all have to be long trails, there could be 1-3 mile loops from some of these spots.

/End Rant. ;)

Tropical Jungle
July 10, 2009
I lazed about the early afternoon debating what I wanted to do. I really wanted to paint but the backyard was on my mind. Since I started working on it earlier in the week it was time to finish the job. Grass grows up between the containers and weeds start taking over inside the pots as well, so it was first time to weed and then mow everything. There are two roses that I've decided to just put in the ground as they are getting too heavy for their containers and I hate to just keep putting them in larger ones. Roses deserve to be in the ground. I ended up spending two hours outside and luckily it was overcast so the heat wasn't unbearable. Baloo kept me company for awhile, but he got hot and I was tired of him eating all the grass I was trimming and tossing. Plus, when it comes time to mow, I think he would try to eat the lawnmower like he tries to eat the vaccum. Here's a few shots from the yard today:

T streptophylla
Tillandsia streptophylla. I got this off of Etsy probably two years ago and it is blooming now.
Banana bloom.
butterfly pea
Butterfly pea. It is in a hanging basket that I put on the ground because I am really bad at watering hanging baskets so everything wilts in the dry season. I've had what I thought was a dead pot several times only for the sweet potato vine and butterfly pea resurrect itself. I love this vine!
Aloe flowers.
One of the roses to go in the ground.
I need to sit down and id this passiflora; it gives yellow fruits. I wasn't sure if they were edible, but a few weeks ago I ate from one of the ones we'd pollinated. Very tasty and a little more sour than the Passiflora edulis, but worth eating!

I took the day off work and slept in, ate breakfast and then went to the gym. It was quite busy for 10:30 am and I couldn't help but wonder what all of these people were doing here and not at work. I suppose they could work on a different schedule, but still. They can't all be taking Friday off! Then I went to Publix (grocery store) and twice I heard people honking at someone in front of them because they were waiting for someone to back out of a spot. Hello, where is your patience? People are so rude here!

I think I will spend the rest of the evening doing a little painting and hanging with my four boys. One is on the porch, one is sprawled on the floor, another is chilling in Chris' lap and well, Chris is watching fishing videos on YouTube.

5 Things Thursday
July 9, 2009
Thursday already?

  1. I think I drove in the worst storm ever, today. It's Florida so afternoon thunderstorms are very common. NPR noted that there was a severe thunderstorm warning in the direction we were going, but I was hoping to avoid it during the commute home. Not quite. I'm fairly certain that it was tropical storm force winds, which are 39-73 miles an hour. More than 40, but not 73. There was definite pushing of vehicles by the forces of wind, rain blowing in sheets, sideways, and watching the wind carry these long strands of rain across the road was incredibly creepy. In fact, I swear there was rotation at one point. I honestly thought we might have been in the middle of a tornado, or close to one. It was quite a white knuckle ride home, but I got through it, made it onto the interstate from the other highway, when the wind shifted and the storm was making a beeline for the drop off spot where I meet my carpool. I got in my door about five minutes before it started pouring at the house. Ugh. I had another bad rain drive last week, no wind, just the kind of downpour that causes you to go 40 on the highway and I swear there was puddling of water on I-75. I'm ready to become the passenger again in these carpools!! All I have to say is that if those winds were occurring during a tropical storm warning, no one would have been out in it. The palm trees looked like they deserved to be on the Weather Channel with Jim Cantore talking about the devastation as a palm frond flies across the screen.
  2. I've fiddle-farted around for the past year with actually working out hard. And if you like that phrase, my mom used that a lot when I procrastinated growing up. So, here I am procrastinating, doing measley little two day workouts, not really pushing myself. Well, the tipping point has come. I can't wear the majority of my pants and shorts!!! I squeeze into a few and the shorts I can wear, well, they tend to be workout shorts with elastic. Yeah. It sucks. It's not like I don't know what to do. It's more of a mental motivation, something I haven't found yet, or at least grasped ahold of. I just lack major self discipline at the moment.
  3. Since Heather sent me seasons 6,7 and 10 of Friends it has been non-stop watching. I've decided I need to go to NYC sometime and sit in some coffee shops for awhile, preferrably with my friends. I also decided I need some of Rachel's haircuts and I really love her long hair episodes. Then she cuts it off all of a sudden with no mention of it being cut off! And Chandler, poor, poor Chandler! Watching it all in a row, you can see how they refer back to earlier episodes with particular phrases or mentions of occurrences, something I wouldn't have caught seeing them when they originally ran. I don't know what I will do when I have to skip seasons 8 and 9; maybe find them on Craigslist.
  4. Eliana told me something devastatingly sad today. She's going to take Balooloo back by the first of August probably. To that I say, HAH...'cause he's mine! Ok, ok, not really, but he is such a good doggie. I mean, I have had him almost a year and a half now. I'm not sure what I will do without a dog that dances when you get home, waiting to be fed, or without a dog that hogs the bed. Sucky, sucky. Maybe Eliana will decide she has to go to Madagascar for important Madagascar hissing cockroach research. No?
  5. I was just now thinking of how I want to spend my last day of 28 and it made me think of what I was doing 10 years ago on my last day of 18. That was 1999 and I have no idea what I was really doing, but I do remember working at least three jobs at one time that summer. I was working at my then insurance company in the mornings, answering phones and data entry, going home for lunch, then going to a job that I'd worked at for a couple of summers doing data entry and other office assistant type work, and finally I would go to work at an MJDesigns that was closing down and working the register. I'm not quite sure why I was working that much. I guess I was saving money for during the school year? I know I didn't work every evening, but still, that was a little odd.
    18, almost 19 (whereas, I am 28, nearly 29)
    Here's a photo from that summer. Yep, petting a pig! I was out with my friend Becky at the Ft. Worth Stockyards. I have some goofy photos of us with cowboy hats on, too. Makeup, check. Dolphin tail earrings, check. (ooh, now I need to go find those!) Bushier eyebrows, check. That shirt is long gone. Note the camera back; I was still using film. Oh, those were the days. I could have done hella better in Invert lab if I'd of had a digital camera back then.
And so ends today's rambling.

July 8, 2009
Not much in the way of edible left in the garden other than this okra I picked and some onions. A few collards, too. I made the okra with some other okra we bought at a farm stand in Homestead two weekends ago. Tried my hand at gumbo! I hope it tastes good, it's on my agenda for lunch tomorrow!
This dog is way too spoiled! Oh, I also found out he'd be a great musher! I put on my rollerblades last night and took Baloo for a 'blade around the neighborhood. I was a bit afraid at first because he has his spots that he enjoys stopping at, but he quickly figured out I was going to keep going! For the first half mile (we did a mile) he did a great job of running and if I didn't break a few times he would have kept on going! Oh, but by the end, I actually had to work. Go figure!

Hanging with the Ghosts
July 6, 2009
My friend Sara, the music queen, will probably think I'm insane for this next bit. So, one of my favorite weekend afternoon chill movies is Center Stage. It's a movie that makes me wish I'd taken ballet as a kid and I can pretend to be a very groovy dancer while I fold laundry. Anyway, one of the main songs at the end of the movie is a song that I really never even knew who sang it. Honestly, I thought it was just something that was made for the movie or an indie song. On my Google Reader yesterday someone mentioned it in their blog, so I clicked the link and followed it to this. I am such a dolt! Hello, Jamiroquai is a hugely popular band! Anyway, Sara would know these things! I am so very low on the music totem poll. If you want to see the Center Stage part with the song click here.

Yesterday after Chris dropped his dad off at the airport we went out to Little Slough to see how our ghost orchids were doing. I am so used to the area being dry that I can walk around and know where I am while it is dry, but when it is wet...I'm lost! Or at least for a few minutes until I get my bearings and can find a landmark tree. The problem is that year after year branches will slowly break and things do change. The water was thigh to near waist deep in most areas, though we tried to stick to the perimeter. A few months ago we went out and it appeared that the season might be slow in our swamp, but it appears that it has picked up a little, with the ghost orchids being late bloomers this year. I kept a red filter on my 18-55mm lens and shot in black and white. I really like using that filter; it produces some good effects.
little slough 2

little slough 5

little slough 6

ghost orchid 2

ghost orchid 6
I'm still experimenting with flash, so some of them that are darker in the background are the ones I used a flash.
ghost orchid 4

ghost orchid 9

Lots going on this week. I started weeding the backyard and that will now be at least a two more evening job. Eeek. The rest of the interviews I planned will have to wait because I'm a slacker and haven't written the questions and sent them out! I'm still trying to find the 25th hour in the day.

Afternoon at Sweetwater
July 5, 2009
sweetwater strand 8
We drove down to Loop Road yesterday afternoon to see what was going on out there. Not much. The water is up, flowing and the alligators and mosquitos are out in force. Chris and I got in the water on the east side of the culverts at Sweetwater Strand, which felt really good, but we had to dodge the mosquitos at times. Large claps of thunder got closer and closer, threatening a downpour but delivered only a light shower.
chris at sweetwater strand

sweetwater strand 6

sweetwater strand 2

sweetwater strand 1

Today we're heading out to Little Slough for a quick peak of what is going on out there.

I have two new blogs for you to check out. Marge emailed me about my post on Melbourne to provide me with two links for some Space Coast blogs. They are really awesome and are bringing back some memories. The first is Space Coast Beach Buzz which is filled with oodles of sea turtle stuff! Yay! The second is Space Coast Eco which chronicles the many parks and natural areas in the Brevard area, many of which Chris and I got to know well while geocaching. And speaking of geocaching, if you are a Florida cacher, you might recognize the person in the Malabar Scrub post!

4 on the 4th
July 4, 2009
  1. Happy 4th of July to everyone here in the US! Elsewhere, I hope you are having a grand 4th of July as well, even if it isn't spent waving a flag and watching fireworks. Not sure what is on the agenda here for celebration, but we are going out for some photo adventuring today with Chris' dad.
  2. DSCF1948
    It's Eliana's birthday today...she's 29!!! Eliana would love it if you could donate a smidge of money to the The Cat Network where she and Marc do a lot of work. They offer low cost spay and neutering services and that can only be done when there is money available to help pay for all of the medical equipment and services that are needed. Help her reach her $400 goal by donating here. Please note in the donation that it is in Eliana's name.
  3. We made it to Butterfly World yesterday. I took over 500 photos...half are at least deleted. Those butterflies are quick! It was well worth the money!
  4. fisheating creek
    Chris took this photo the other day at Fisheating Creek. Loving it!

5 Things Thursday
July 2, 2009
I'm trying to write here more. To actually post more than photos or just of trips. To post more thoughts and actually write more substance. So, here goes 5 Things Thursday. Let's see if I can actually keep up!

  1. I discovered there were actually two dove babies today.
    Ohh, there were two!
    Mom had been sitting on them for several weeks and only last week did I see that a baby had hatched. Mom flew away to grab a bite to eat at the Wormy Bug Cafe so the babies were out in the open. The one up front was very protective of it sibling, trying to stand and wanted to defend itself against the big bad lady with the weird black thing in her hand.
    Momma with the babies
    Momma came back later and is obviously pressed for room. Now, if she'd just picked better real estate a couple of hanging baskets down, she wouldn't have to sit on half of her offspring.
  2. Chris has been trying to do another time lapse of of an orchid on the porch. I was out taking pictures on the porch when I came inside, looked out the kitchen window and noticed something purple from behind a fern. There's so much stuff on the porch we miss a lot of things blooming because some other plant is covering the bloom. I went out to find a cattleya had bloomed. This orchid was from Walmart when we first moved to Miami five years ago and was living out its life in the aisles of Wallyworld in a plastic bag. We put it in a hollowed out coconut and, finally, five years later it has bloomed.
  3. Chris and I were arguing about who wanted to go where this past weekend. We were down a car so he had to borrow my truck, but he had plans to meet people in the swamp. I really wanted to go to Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter to try to photograph sea turtles, but he didn't like that idea. We tried to make an effort to find common ground and I remembered that I wanted to go to Redlands down in SW Dade to take photos of some of the farms and old houses. Chris went along for the ride, but I wimped out because I thought it might be a little odd for random people to be taking photos of peoples homes. Chris told me he thought the idea was weird to begin with. I should have just taken photos anyway and not worried about it, or rather, I should have gone to Blowing Rocks like I wanted and not worried about whether Chris wanted to go or not. Alas, the only photos we got were of a sunflower field and we ate some Mexican food in Homestead.
  4. I've been reminiscing about our time living in Melbourne lately. I think about how much I enjoyed going for runs at Turkey Creek Sanctuary. Or even runs in the neighborhood. The ease of going to the beach that wasn't crowded with condos and hosted sea turtles for several months each summer. I also think about my job where I worked in a microbiology lab for an orange juice company. I miss living there and I miss the job. I miss the people, too. I was thinking about writing a lot then. My coworker got me a subscrition to The Writer for a year and I still have all of those issues. I don't think I will ever throw them out. Someday I plan on digging out my inner writer from in between the inner artist and doing something with her. The inner artist has so many ideas right now and just can't figure out how to manage it all. Now, if I could only find my inner workout queen again...
  5. I just bought a ticket to go see her for her first birthday!!!

Summer Interview Series 05: Robin at Anything but Ordinary
July 1, 2009

I've 'known' Robin for about 9 years. The internet is a funny thing, you can know a person, but not know them in person! What brought us together was this red-headed girl from Green Gables. In 2000 Kevin Sullivan released Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, complete with a website that hosted a forum. The forum was a mecca for L.M. Montgomery fans and many people became fast friends. That forum branched into the Avonlea forum which branched into another forum, but in general over the past 9 years many people have become friends in real life. The 'net still felt young 9 years ago, and here it is now with bloggers and other groups meeting in person all of the time, but back then, meeting in person was not as common. Over the years I've been able to meet a few people from the Anne forums, but I have never had the chance to meet Robin, but maybe one day I will make it to Michigan!

You have the cutest little house! You and your sister have spent time decorating it over the years. What is your favorite room in the house? Your favorite item? And describe some design inspiration.

Thank you so much for the lovely compliment! A lot of hard work has been put into our little bungalow. It's always a work in progress, even after five years of being here! I'd say out of all the areas in the house, the living room is my favorite. It has a lot of old things and new things mixed together which makes it one of a kind. I'd say my most favorite item is a side table that my Dad inherited from his Aunt. It's almost a hundred years old [if it's not already] and so beautiful. Most of the design inspiration for our house started way back with Trading Spaces on TLC. It was really motivating to see the designers use a small budget and turn a drab space into something totally different and fantastic. I also happen to have a sibling who is majorly obsessed with HGTV, and has incorporated many ideas from a variety of shows into our house.

You've been blogging about as long as I have. What keeps you going and how do you stay motivated? And how the heck can you blog day after day for NaBloPoMo???! That's excellent discipline!

What's kept me going for this long is really very simple. I always seem to have a story to tell! Just living life and being out in the world is great motivation. As for NaBloPoMo [National Blog Posting Month], the first couple of years were really difficult, I won't lie! Thirty days of blogging seemed like torture, and at times, it was! Last year I finally came up with a rough draft system. I started to think about what would make a good topic several days in advance; that helped a lot. It's an annual tradition now that I look forward to!

The past year has been tough with you on the job front. How have you been able to cope and if you could pick the perfect job, what would it be?

Being laid off from my job after seven years was definitely very difficult. As much as I tried to prepare myself for it, it was still a shock when it happened. I miss my job [and even my crazy coworkers] more than I thought I would. The best way I cope with all of it is by keeping myself busy. I started babysitting for my cousin's daughter a couple of months ago. That's five days a week, so it's like I'm working again. I'm actually busier now more than ever! My absolute dream job would be having my own bakery. I love the fancy cakes that have the fondant and gum paste; they're amazing!

My cat Leo and your cat Mango are bff's via the 'net. Ok, we're just two crazy cat people, but have you ever thought about getting a dog?

They are indeed internet bff's! Crazy cat people unite!! ;-) I have thought about getting a dog, definitely. With three cats in the house right now, it's not something I'm thinking about anytime soon. Maybe one day though...

What has been your favorite story to tell over the years? There have been some great, laugh out loud ones! Which one would you recommend to people new to your blog?

Again, thank you for the compliment, Misti! I'm not even sure what a favorite story of mine is. I definitely had a lot of crazy work stories! One of my favorite posts to recommend is not a story, but a variety of excerpts from my childhood diary aptly named: "Dear Diary"

Do you excercise a lot of self censorship on your blog, or is most any story up for the telling? (Do you have any feelings about blogging and self censorship? e.g: judgement from people you know?)

Pretty much everything is up for telling. But at the same time, I sometimes feel like I water down my posts a bit too much. It's always in the back of my mind that I have to watch myself because "so and so" may get upset. It's a bit of a double edged sword that way. What are some of your favorite blogs that you think we all should know about?

Two that I check out most often are: Dooce & Bitchypoo

Dooce is a hilariously, brilliant writer! Her pictures are fabulous as well. Definitely worth checking out!

Bitchypoo is a blog I've been reading for about six years now. When I first started reading, she lived in the suburbs with her husband, daughter and their six cats. They now live on a farm with over a hundred chickens, two pigs, two dogs and ten cats. She tells great stories, and shares a lot of wonderful photos of all the animals.

You've started a photography blog in addition to your regular blog. Have you been taking a lot of photos lately and what inspires you?

My poor photo-blog has sadly been very neglected. Even though I don't post much on there, I do enjoy photography quite a bit! I carry my camera with me almost everywhere. Sometimes I take a lot of photos, and other times not so much. I think I'm most inspired by architecture. Last month I went all around the city of Detroit taking pictures of old buildings. I had so much fun with it. I only wish I had more time!

All images courtesy of and copyright of Robin at Anything but Ordinary. Read her stuff, I promise it's good!

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