Options for New House

This was a long, busy, work day.  We met Jamie, our sales rep at 0930 and she took us to a nearly completed home of the model we chose.  It helped to walk around in it and think about the floor plan.

Oleander Model
Looking Toward Front Door

This is the kitchen. We opted to have a curved countertop on the family-room side.


We spent a long time going from room to room and talking about what we liked and what we might want to change, subject to budget limitations, of course. Then we went to the lot we had selected from a map. It is on a crook in the golf course, between a green for one hole and the and tees for the next. We were happy to see the grove of trees that will be right behind our house.

Lot 745

Then it was lunch time.  We met a couple looking at the neighborhood for the first time and another couple who live here.  They invited us to visit them after our day in the design center.

There were many options for everything in a house.  There were a limited number of “standard” options that would not cost extra.  There were many more options that could cost a boat-load of money.  I’m sure we’ll end up cutting corners to meet our budget.  But here are some of the selections we made.

The outside will be gray with white trim and a dark gray door. The house is a lighter gray in real life and the white is whiter. There is another, lighter option on the roof color; we may switch.

Exterior Colors

This is the bathroom countertop and faucet color.  Our chosen faucet will have three pieces with no base plate.  They will be farther apart and, therefore, easier to clean. The standard from bathroom countertops is Corian. We only made a slight upgrade, sticking with the Corian rather than going with marble or granite or whatever other exotic materials they had for even more money.

Bathroom Countertop and Faucet Style

Bathroom cabinet hardware is the same as the kitchen, but a different color.

I had to choose an upgrade to get white kitchen cabinets. I am still wavering about the floor tiles.  The light gray on the left is too close to the cabinet color.  The darker tile on the right is too brown, I think. They are both called gray.

The wall color is the left, gray in a frame. Then the white cabinets and charcoal countertop.  The tiles in the foreground are for the wall behind the stove, counter to cabinet level.

Kitchen Colors
Kitchen Faucet
Kitchen Handles and Knobs (bottom left and top right)

And so it went. Light fixtures, door knobs, and more. When we were done for the day, we stopped in to visit Mary and Terry.  What luck!  Their house had the same exterior colors that we had chosen.  We could see it live.  They also had the same light gray interior walls.  She had white kitchen cabinets. Seeing it all life-sized confirmed my decisions for me.  She had upgraded the countertops and had something more like I had in mind, but was not willing to pay for. We stayed for a while and really enjoyed our visit.  They are our first new neighbor friends in the community.

Back at our AirBnB, I read bedtime stories to the two little girls. (The Cat in the Hat again)  They are so sweet; it makes me miss Owen and Cam all the more.

Drive to Leesburg, Florida

Florida is a really long state!  Of course, we do not travel in a rush so it took us all day to get from Marathon to Leesburg. I had a nine o’clock appointment with Dr. O’Connor.  Then we drove to Costco in Kendall so Andy could buy new glasses.  (Their prices are very good.  I don’t know why we have not shopped for glasses there before.) We ate a Costco hotdog for lunch and were finally on our way to Leesburg at one o’clock.

We decided to forego the Florida Turnpike took Rt. 27 through the middle of the state.  It was mostly a very pleasant drive.  Once out of the greater Miami area, we were in sugar country.  The terrain around the Everglades is perfectly flat and you can see for miles over the sugar cane fields.  They are mostly bare this time of year.

At the small town of South Bay, Rt. 27 turns a bit west and we skirted Lake Okeechobee, that huge blue spot in the center of a map of Florida. Then Rt. 27 heads more northerly through a series of small and medium-size towns between innumerable lakes.  Outside the towns is cattle country.  Eventually, cattle country faded into orange grove country and the terrain changed from flat to rolling hills.  Miles and miles of groves full of citrus lines both sides of the highway.  We saw many truckloads of oranges and grapefruit on the highway.

By the time Rt. 27 crossed Interstate 4, and hour or so southwest of Orlando, the traffic became very heavy.  There were shopping centers, RV parks, and housing developments lining the highway. There were also myriad traffic lights. I was dismayed with all the development and began having second thoughts about buying a house in the region.  Fortunately, all that development ended and we had a long stretch of nothing until we reached Leesburg.

We are spending the next three nights in an Air BnB.  Our first time.  It is in a sprawling home in one of those developments.  What a delight!  They have two little girls, aged six and three, and a six-month-old chubby boy. The excited little girls gave us a tour of the house.  They both played the grand piano for me in the music room. Then, after they had their bath, I read them “The Giving Tree” and “The Cat in the Hat”, two of my favorite books. Their delightful parents own the Montessori school in The Villages.

I’m going to have a great stay!


A Day of Wildlife

This morning, we sat out back on our patio overlooking the mangroves drinking our coffee, as usual.  As a reminder, here is our towing dolly, on a rack behind the motor home.  It is tucked neatly out of our way for the winter.

On closer inspection, you can see this lizard sitting on the tire.  We don’t know our lizards well enough to name them but think it is the same one every time.  It seems like a nice, safe place to hide out.  So, Andy has named him Louie.  Then, after a few more minutes, Andy noted that “When we leave, Louie will have to retire”.

This moth landed on a mangrove leaf and rested for a while.  This is a black mangrove leaf.  Black mangroves are very interesting.  They grow in the tide zone and are sometimes in the water and sometimes on dry land.  That is salt water here on the ocean.  They suck up the salt with the water and, later, extrude in on the backsides of the leaves.  Here, you can see the salt on the top of the leaf.  It is very salty, like a potato chip. When we gave nature tours at Crane Point (here in Marathon), we would have the tourists pick a leaf and lick it.  They were always surprised at the saltiness.

We noticed this very small spider in the mangroves.  I think it is a male orb weaver as the female is very large. This is its belly.

This gecko regularly hangs on this dead tree.  This is the first time I’ve gotten a good picture.

In the afternoon, we walked to the waterfront to check the ocean. Several cardinals were flitting around and I got a picture of one. Too bad the focus is not good.

This osprey was perched on a stick that marks the channel out to the deeper water.

This little warbler was also flitting about in the mangroves.  It barely sat still long enough for me to get a picture.

It is spring break season.  Not exactly wildlife, but two boatloads of college boys came in.

They are the Clemson variety, as I determined from the orange and purple flag on the second boat.

A small barracuda was hanging about next to our vantage point.

This hermit crab was scurrying about.  It is amazing how fast it can go carrying a shell.  It may be the same one I saw a week or so ago.  I have no idea how far afield they travel.

And, lastly, there were horseshoe crabs.

Yes, it was a wild day alright.



It Looks Like a Boring Walk

We drove to Key West this morning for our annual eye exams. Our first stop was Cooper’s Paint, Body, and Glass Shop to get a new tire.  It was to have been done with the other repairs but, the tire was back-ordered.  It only took a few minutes for them to replace the tire and we were on our way.  It was too early for the eye appointment so we parked along South Roosevelt (A1A) to take a walk along the waterfront.

South Roosevelt

Not much going on there except the road and the Atlantic Ocean.

We did walk under the path of planes landing at the airport. This could have been the Lone Ranger.

The airport is hidden behind a couple of hotels.  You might not even notice it except for this sign.

The next point of interest is the East Martello (small fort) museum.  We have been to the West Martello but have not visited this one yet. I see from the sign that it is a Civil War era fort.

East Martello Key West
East Martello Key West

There were a good number of people out walking and riding bikes along the wide sidewalk.  The sun was shining and there was a good breeze blowing.  The temperature was in the 70s so we did not get hot.

Walking Back to the Car

Refreshed from our walk, we headed to our appointments.  It may not be particularly interesting but, it was a great walk.

Spring is Bustin’ Out All Over

The way I can tell that it is spring here is when more flowers bloom. I’ve posted these before but, since I love them so much, here they are again.  These Frangipani are next to our community clubhouse.

Pink Frangipani

A neighbor gave me a piece of frangipani that had two leaves on it.  Both have fallen off.  Hope springs eternal and the fleshy stalk looks as though it might put out another leaf.  I can’t wait to see what I’ll get. Any color in beautiful.

Pelicans Fishing

Our first walk of the day was at Oceanfront Park. Before walking, though, we watched the pelicans fishing.  Today I took more pictures.

When we first walked to the waterfront, we thought this kayaker had caught a big fish.  It turned out that his line was snagged.  Eventually, the line broke.

Kayaker Fishing

The pelicans were having better luck. They fly over the water looking for fish and, when they spot one, they dive straight down.

Pelican Splash

You can tell when they catch one.  They pause with their beak/bill still in the water.  This must have been a big fish; they don’t usually have it in this far.

Pelican Caught Fish

This is more like it.  It must be a really big fish.  Pelican is tipping over.

Pelican Holding Fish Underwater

After holding the fish underwater for a moment, they throw their heads back and swallow.  This one was a little tougher to swallow than most.  It sure looks awkward. It does remind me of Ogden Nash, though.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week

Pelican with Fish in Pouch

I’m not sure why the wings are partially up.  I usually take that as a sign that the pelican is about to take off.

That was a big bite of fish.  You can see it is still in the pouch.

Fish Had Not Gone Down Yet

I’ve never seen one with its head so far underwater while holding a fish.

Headless Pelican

This is how they normally look when they pause before the swallow.

I lost count of how many they caught.  I don’t know how they could fly with all that fish in their bellies.

Pelican with Pouch Full of Fish

I seldom get a good picture of pelicans flying. This one isn’t going to win any photography awards but, it is the finest in my Bird Butt Collection.

North End of a South Bound Pelican