P.E.A.R. Park

The weather warmed up as soon as Sister Barbara flew north.  Andy and I decided to take a walk in P.E.A.R.  That stands for Palatlakaha Environmental & Agricultural Reserve.  It is a fifty-acre park adjoining our neighborhood. I’ve taken you there before.  This time we drove in a different entrance and parked by the garden plots.

We struck off toward our neighborhood on the far side of the Palatlakaha River and the tree line. It felt so good to get outside in warmth and sunshine after that week of nasty weather. This walk reminded us of some of the prairie walks we have taken in Wisconsin.

We discovered another pavilion.  It has a circular walkway around it with spoke-boardwalks radiating out from it.  There are butterfly gardens between the boardwalks.

The underside of the pavilion has a delightful passion-flower vine sculpture on it.

We explored the area around the pavilion and then continued on the trail we had started.  This pavilion was at an intersection of several trails.

This magnificent live oak is close to the river.

We then walked to the riverbank where we could see the construction equipment in our development, clearing land for more houses.  It really is hard to call this tiny bit of water a river.  I can barely think of it as a creek. It is still lovely to walk along it though.

This pavilion is an overlook for a marshy pond. The grass on top also reminds me of Wisconsin and the prairie.

Here is the view out the other side.  We only saw two small ducks in the distance. This view is very similar to much of the countryside around here.  There are ponds and lakes everywhere.


Sister Barbara Visit

My sister Barbara flew down from Maryland, thinking she would soak up some of our Florida sunshine and warmth between school semesters.  Wrong. She brought the cold with her. We picked her up at the Orlando airport on December 31.  One of the things she said she wanted to do was go to the beach so we drove immediately to Port Canaveral since we were already part way there.  We ate lunch overlooking the cruise ships.  Then we took a nice walk along the cold, windy Atlantic Ocean.  Someone offered to take our picture.

Then the weather turned colder, windier, and wetter. We mostly stayed in the house except for a couple outings to stores. Finally, as her week here was ending, the weather warmed up to the fifties.  Barbara also wanted to see a manatee.  She was in luck there.  When it is very cold in Florida, the manatees head up creeks and rivers to warmer water at the springs.  They also adore the warm water outflow from power plants.  I did a bit of research and learned that there was a herd of manatees in Blue Spring State Park.  Hundreds of other people had the same idea.  We were in line to get into the park for about an hour.  It was worth it.

Of course, living on the boat all those years, we have seen manatees many times. I don’t recall ever seeing more than ten at any one time though. There must have been hundreds of them in Blue Spring and the stream to the St. John’s River.

The manatees were milling around in the water or just hovering in one spot. I could not capture a larger scene.  All those gray things in the water are manatees and this is only a small portion of them. They were thick up and down the stream.

Of course, we had to get the picture with the manatee statue. Note, it was a warmer day but still required a parka.  In Florida.  Barbara was offended by the weather greeting she got.

Here are a couple closer shots of manatee families in the spring.

Well, I am guessing they were families anyway.

Christmas in Wisconsin

I met Sherree, a neighbor, in the grocery store and invited her over for coffee the next day. We chatted amiably for a while and then the subject got on to missing family.  She told me that she flies to Minnesota to visit her grandchildren every month or so.  Right then and there I decided that I needed to go to Wisconsin to visit my grandsons.  When I called to say we were visiting for Christmas, Son-in-Love George said, “Come earlier, for Cam’s birthday”. We drove.  It is a two-day trip from central Florida.  I love to drive.

It started snowing when we crossed the Wisconsin border. Driving into the small village of Thiensville at night, in the snow, with Christmas lights was magical.

Cam turned four on December 16. George had already suggested presents to me.  Lego’s are a big hit in that household.  At six years old, Owen is an accomplished Lego-set assembler.  Cam will be too, but not yet.  He concentrated mightily and studied the instruction photos. Andy offered suggestions.

Daughter Jennifer laid out a beach blanket to contain the many small pieces.

Big brother Owen could not contain himself and just had to step in and help out.  Mama told Owen not to do it for Cam, but to help Cam do it himself.  That worked out fairly well.

Darling, snuggly little Cam had a snotty nose. I knew I was in trouble immediately. I caught the cold. That didn’t stop me from going to the nursery school Christmas program where Cam wore and penguin hat. One of the songs they sang had something to do with penguins.

They served a pasta dinner after the program.  Here, Owen was watching the goings on in the room.  He has changed from a little boy into a boy this year.

George and Jennifer were both off work for the week between Christmas and New Year.  On Christmas Eve, George decided to work on the treehouse he is building for the boys. It was snowing.  But, he was off work and had time to work on it.  At one point he came in and asked Andy and Jennifer to go outside and hold the ladder for him.

Despite the cold and snow, George worked on the treehouse for most of the day.

Actually, it is a stump house.  They had two trees cut down at the edge of the woods behind the house. Both were left as tall stumps. George is going to use both for the “house”.  I am excited about it.  The plan is to build it to look like the Drum Point Lighthouse at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland (near our home).

I’ll provide an update on this project in July.

Christmas day was a delight.  We had cinnamon buns for breakfast, emptied stockings, and then opened presents under the tree. This is how it looked before opening them. Note: Jennifer made the very cool star atop the tree.

George got a t-shirt from one of his siblings.

Jennifer got one too.

Owen loved the Lego set we gave him. Oh, I should have taken a picture of that train in the background.

Cam got a watch and studied it intently.

I was sick most of the time.  The cold turned into a sinus infection. I went to the doctor while there, as I had developed bronchitis after my visit last July. I keep it delicate and just say the antibiotics wreaked havoc with my gut.

It was ten below zero the morning we headed south.  We had planned to stay longer, but Sister Barbara called with her schedule to visit us in Florida.  We were happy to run from the cold, but it followed us.






December 8, 2017 – Tree Moving

The family room has taken shape and now looks “lived in”.  Note Teddy on the sofa. I got him for Christmas when I was five years old.  Old bear.  One of his eyes had fallen off when I pulled him from a box in the garage.  I found the eye in the bottom of the box and will get around to gluing it back on soon.

The purple flower shrubs in front of the house have finally started looking good.  All three are loaded with buds.

We saw a tractor dragging a tree on the golf course.  I went out to investigate.  It was apparently leaning too far toward another house on the golf course.  Instead of simply cutting it down, they decided to move it next to our house, in the spot where another tree had succumbed to the hurricane.

I was quite a struggle to get the root ball into the too-small hole they had dug for it.  Another tractor arrived to help.

It didn’t look like enough root to survive to me.

Here is the status of the garage.  Sigh.

We Have Downsized to a New (to us) Recreational Vehicle

We decided that, with a house, we didn’t need a large motorhome.  I have been looking around online for a month or two and told dealers what I wanted. A salesman at Lazydays called to say he had the van that met our criteria.  That is the mega RV dealership where we bought Stochastic and Sao.  I wasn’t ready – emotionally.  I loved Sao and had never seen another motorhome, of any age, condition, or price, that I liked better. We drove to the Seffner dealership, near Tampa, and looked it over. It is not the brand we had in mind (Roadtrek) but was exactly what we wanted. Here it is:

It is a Winnebago Era.  It is really small even when not comparing it to Sao.

The cab and seats are comfortable.

The kitchen has a two-burner stove and a small sink.  It is odd, but there is a television on the kitchen counter.

I call this the living, den, kitchen.  That two-butt seat is for watching TV and eating at the table.  The front seats swivel around to face the table too.

Next, is the refrigerator, then a small cubby that holds a bed section to add to the little sofa.  The bathroom is behind those bifold closet doors.

It is a tiny bathroom with no cabinets or drawers.  You draw a shower curtain and the whole thing is the shower stall. I guess that means the sink and toilet are in the shower.

The bed has an insert to make it a large bed, but that would be too hard to climb in and out.

I think Andy was watching the television.  That metal plate next to his foot is the base where you set the pole/stand for the table top.

This will be our picture window headboard.

We named it Scamp.  That sounds little and cute.


November 2017

I took a blog break.  And a Facebook break.  It was a good thing to do. I also took a personal paperwork break.  That was not such a good idea as I am now so far behind, it is going to be stressful to catch up and get ready to prepare our tax returns.

These photos represent the situation in November.

This is my garden plot just outside the window to Andy’s office.

We have our camping chairs out on the lanai.  I found a glass table in the garage that I bought for our kitchen table in 1980.  Daughter Jennifer was a newborn.  I still remember carrying her around the store that day.

Here is the progress on the house three lots over from us.

This is the house down the street past our house and across the street. This is the first day of block laying.  They finish that job on the second day. You can see a fire in the background.  They are clearing and grading the area beyond the end of the street for more houses.

Here is Andy standing in our driveway, watching me take pictures.

I got four Mexican heather plants for my birthday and put them along the front walk. They are covered in tiny purple blooms

I forgot the name of these shrubs.  They were loaded with buds in November. The plant and the blooms are so delicate.

We met a couple at karaoke the week before Thanksgiving.  I was chatting with Cynthia and mentioned that we were not doing anything for Thanksgiving.  No children coming to visit and we were not going to visit any of them.  She invited us to Thanksgiving dinner at their house. I had a wonderful time with three generations of their family. That is Cynthia at the far end of the kitchen (buffet) counter with her arm raised.  Larry is on the far left.

There were twenty-two of us.  The old folks sat at the dining room table.  The younger adult generation sat around the kitchen counter. That grandchild generation sat outside on the patio. They had gathered from a distance and were having a grand time getting together.  I just enjoyed being in the midst of a big, happy, and gregarious family celebration.

We watched them put up the trusses on the house three lots over.  We missed that at our house.  They had the job done before we arrived that day!

It goes really fast.  The crew on top of the house has the trusses secured before the man offloading the truck can get the next truss up there with the crane.

And that is all the news from November.  Or rather, that is all the news I remember because those are the things I took pictures of.  Yes, I have a photographic memory.