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Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

I am spoiled. For almost thirty-seven years I’ve enjoyed a bucolic view from my large living room window. Behind my solid wood, vine covered fence another home has for that time either been occupied by quiet people or vacant and crumbling. No more. Now it hums with chain saws, thuds with hammers, vibrates with rap music.

Did I mention the Vegas light show? Okay, they aren’t neon and don’t flash, but new ones seem to go up each day, as do out buildings. Another new roof is taking shape today. Soon, there won’t be an inch of lawn in that plot of almost an acre. The trees are long gone.

The first construction was an eight foot solid wood fence for all but a small strip right behind my house. Next a screened pool enclosure. Some time in there the private dirt road leading to the house was paved. The road dead ends at the fence in my side yard.

I gave their landscaper permission to cut the limbs on my trees that hung over the fence. It’s the law, so I get no points here. I did allow him to come in my yard and cut the errant limbs back to the trunk. He kindly offered to pull potato vines and take down a little bamboo. That sounded fine until I see about a fifteen or twenty foot swath of cleared land this side of the fence. But this is bamboo. That won’t last long. I’ve always hated the invasive stuff, but now am happy for a buffer.

I know they got the house for a song, but somebody has money to burn. It needed a new septic tank and water supply for starters.
Who are these people? I don’t know. I see people on the roofs a lot, but don’t know if they are workers or live there. Property records show it owned by an LLC, which owns property all over the U.S. and the Cayman Islands. So no name to call, no way to discuss things unless I climb an eight foot fence or scale the solid electric gate that blocks their drive. This is a compound.

A cop early on stopped them from throwing trash over the fence. Then a couple of weeks ago I called again. I refused to be run out of my house a second time because of a loud party. That day the music was loud enough for to hear over the leaf blower a guy was using on the roof. Guess he never heard of earphones. My house was vibrating so badly with the rap beat my cats hunkered in the hallway as they do for a thunderstorm. Earlier neighbors two blocks away told me they were hearing the music. I don’t think the sound lowered when he finished with the leaf blower. It stopped abruptly, though, about 9:15 p.m. when the cops arrived and I haven’t heard it again, but who knows.

I should be happy they have fixed up the abandoned property, and cleaned up the mosquito breeding pool, but I long for the day I looked over the fence and saw only trees, heard only birds and the rustling of leaves on the trees.

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Our Thanksgiving dinner spread the length of a couple of tables near a stand of moss covered oaks and cypress. The thought of not sitting at a table with china and silverware at first seemed odd, but then I thought back to the first Thanksgiving. Our setting was much more in tune with the Pilgrims and Indians. This arrangement had an unexpected bonus, too, the chance to meet new people.

The camper in the next site saw the bald eagle as I was moving closer to get a photo. When it flew back into the trees he thought he saw where it landed, so we moved farther into the grove as he told me he had never seen a bald eagle in Florida. He was in his thirties, olive skinned, and his dark eyes lit up at such a sighting. Unfortunately we didn’t see the eagle again. The only birds above us were a flock of buzzards. They didn’t mind having their picture taken.

Do you have any idea how much you can learn about a person in a few minutes while you walk back to camp?

“See that small tent?” he said, pointing to a dark green, small pup tent by the larger one. I’m working on a design for a bear proof tent. That one is much stronger than our large, commercial one, but not strong enough.

“My next one will be made from high tensile strength airplane cloth.” This is where he got really excited. “With that cloth you can make a hole only if you really hammer something into it, and then to rip it takes 600 pounds of tensile strength.”

I took it word for it that that was really strong.

I asked what he did when not designing bear-proof tents. He had been a pilot for a cargo company before the economy went down. Now he buys and sells cars. That led to a discussion of the economy and presidents’ effect on it. We were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but discussed the influence of Obama, the Bushes, Clinton and Reagan, agreeing on some points while remaining a chasm apart on others.

As we neared our camps I wondered about his wife, still sitting in her camp chair. Did she have these conversations with him—or with strange men she wandered into the woods with? And was she hot sitting there wrapped from head to foot in a long garment with a scarf around her head? So yes, you can learn a lot in a short walk in a campground, but you can also end up with a lot more questions than answers.

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Note: I have added a link to Sherry’s Salon web page in the last paragraph. I think you’ll find it is not your typical salon page.

Are we becoming England? I mean that in the best way. I think of the English as animal lovers, almost to obsession. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I am seeing the U.S. moving even more in that direction. Take one simple hour in my life today.

My hairdresser is located at a marina. Beautiful views of the harbor and the St. Johns River are right out the window. Even better is waiting for your appointment on the deck overlooking the river. But water ways with fish are magnets for stray animals. One poor pregnant cat showed up one day and gave birth in the shop (but that’s a secret). The kittens were quickly placed with customers from the shop and the diner next door. Mama kitty was spayed and was snoozing on the deck today.

Her pictures are displayed all over the shop. Today there was another picture, a digital frame flashing photos of a tiny squirrel and another cat. The shop owner took me through the story of his life beginning with the day her cat brought the tiny newborn through the cat door. That was over a year ago. The frame chronicles his move to the screened porch and finally to the outdoors, where today he has tiki bar, porch swing, picnic table with corn to share with his friends. There is even a whirligig to shoo away the hawks.

I had hardly begun my personal beautification when a guy walked in with his two-month old shitz shu puppy. We oo-ed and aw-ed over him, then talked of spiders and bats we have known in Florida.

I used to avoid going to “beauty parlors” because I felt so uneasy with the gossip and one-upmanship going on around me. You won’t find that at Sherry’s in Sanford, Florida http://www.sherryturnersalon.com/ , but you had better love animals.

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As Hurricane Alex was swirling into Texas I had a vision from my childhood. In it Daddy is stepping up his pace, with focus showing in the set of his jaw and his shoulders. He climbs into his yellow Texas Highway Department pick-up truck heads into the storm. He’ll check for washouts at bridges and flooded spots in the roads. He’ll put up barriers and flares before anyone can drive off a bridge or into washed out pavement. And he likely won’t be back until the storm has passed.

I am aware he is getting a real adrenaline rush from being able to do something in a crisis, and actually enjoying his role. But Mother? She’s getting a different kind of rush. Now she is alone with three kids in a house she is certain will be either blown away or struck by lightening. For us kids the biggest fear is the embarrassment of Mother following through on her repeated threats to move us to the courthouse for safe shelter. No one ever invites us to go to the courthouse as far as I remember, but Mother feels welcome there just the same. Her courthouse vision kinda reminds me of the farm Lennie was always going to in “Of Mice and Men,” except the courthouse is real — stone and marble fortress real.

I don’t know it, but I am receiving good training for my future in Florida during hurricane seasons. From Daddy I am learning to take the bull by the horns, to prepare and help avert tragedies.  From Mother I learn situations are seldom as bad as imagined. To Mother’s consternation, my siblings and I also learn how funny over-reaction can be. It’s a wonder we aren’t sitcom writers.

I have a vision of a particular storm that shouldn’t be treated with gales of laughter, but is. This time Mother tells us we’ll be safer in our car with rubber tires to protect us from lightening strikes. She is even more afraid of lightening than the wind, but we suspect she has ulterior motives. So we run to the detached garage and pile in our ‘39 Chevy. We are thinking: This is it! We are on the way to the courthouse where workers will stare at us and point and laugh. If that is her intention, the Gods interfere. As we crank the windows up and lock the doors we hear a crack and the ground shakes as the mesquite tree crashes across the driveway behind us. We aren’t going anywhere.  Who needs canned laughter?

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I thought the day would never get here and now our trip to Savannah is over.

Train station in Savannah

My long time friend Pat and I took the Amtrak there, and despite our trepidation, we were five to ten minutes early both ways. Another guest at our B&B who came a day later was held up an hour while a bridge near Jacksonville was inspected. For bombs? structural problems? No one knows.

Azalea Inn & Gardens in the Historic District took us back in time with its period furniture and heirloom garden.

Azalea Inn & Gardens

Dining Table

The dining table was elegant. The walls were painted with beautiful murals all around. Oil paint even covered the switch plates! This is where we had gourmet breakfasts and lively conversation with folks from N.C., OK, NY, GA, Washington State, England and Australia. I have probably forgotten some. Oh yes, a few more from Florida.

Happy Hour with with a few very congenial guests

I had a lot of fun with the Joe Biden look alike in left corner. He was a good sport and had been mistaken for him on several occasions, especially just after the election when he was in Bahamas at same time as Pres. Clinton.

Pat

My friend Pat below sitting on our private balcony. We had two bedrooms and a bath upstairs in the carriage house where birds sang at window level as a wakeup call.

My bedroom

This will have to be Chapter I. Next post will be on the beautiful city of Savannah.

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Continuing my year of new things in the new year in lieu of resolutions, I give you Buddy the gecko, native to New Caledonia. Though I am partial to reptiles, having lizards crawl on me has been a long standing no-no. But this is a new year and Buddy, the neighbor kids’ pet molted yesterday was so soft.  He did  not appear threatening.  With instructions worthy of Jack Hannah the oldest put the gecko on back of my hand.

Later we let him play on a tree truck (which they assured me he loved). Buddy is hand raised and doesn’t care too much for grass, though. Once he touched the lawn he just stared at me as I sat cross legged, then inched closer.

“He’s going to jump on me, ” I said.

He moved forward again and then leaped onto my knee, all the time staring at me with his unblinking eyes. To be fair, he has no eyelids.

“He likes you,” the kids assured me, “We’ve never seen him do that with anyone.”

Considering I had brushed with mint toothpaste to encourage nose kisses from the cats, it didn’t seem a good idea to get in Buddy’s face.  So we let him play on the tree trunk a while and then his outing was over. Let’s hope he enjoyed it as much as the kids and I.

Buddy, Gold Crested Gecko (dalmatian harlequin)

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When the freeze warnings hit Florida I knew the location of two Monarch chrysalises, which created a dilemma. The last time this situation came up the freeze was shortlived, and most important, I had my husband and granddaughters in the house that night. That was important because, as some of you know, I would be scared silly (yes, silly) with butterflies flitting around in my house. No worry as long as I had someone to take the Monarch out if it hatched overnight. It did. The broken branch was in a vase in my closed office so the cats would not harm it. That morning I opened to door to find him hanging onto the opened chrysalis. I quickly woke H-1 and she grabbed the branch and ran it outside to finish drying and fly away. We did not know where it was in this process. It was not far from flight as it turned out.

So back to the present. Not only did I not have aid, the freeze was to last almost two weeks. Releasing a fresh hatchling into that kind of temperature would probably have been sure death anyway. That fact salved my conscience as I covered the plants and reconciled the butterflies’ plight with nature.

Over the course of a week, I peeked at the one bright green womb with the brilliant gold crown. It had darkened and continued to darken long past it’s due date. Nature had taken care of the situation. Or so I thought. . .

This morning I spot a bright flutter in the driveway. It couldn’t be. It was. The Monarch was still wet from birth and the rain that had just stopped, but was trying to dry out. He looked fully formed and perfect. I was shocked. The sun was shining and wind blowing strong, so he would do just fine.

And now to check the freeze browned plant for signs of life in the leaves. There were a few green ones left at the bottom, but the real sign of life was another chrysalis, darkened and ready to soon release another butterfly. This is long past their normal gestation. I can only surmise that nature held onto the little creatures until the weather was hospitable. Now the challenge is for them to find a proper plant to live on. That is going to be a challenge for sure, but they have gotten this far so I have to think they’ll make it.

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