WPC From Lines to Patterns: At Green Cay Nature Reserve.

On Saturday we decided to visit one of our local Florida nature reserves. I was looking for alligators to show Phil, but they must have all been sleeping in the reeds, for we didn’t see even a tiny one. We did however see some wonderful birds which I’ll show you in another post. I was thinking about the ‘Lines to Patterns’ challenge as we set off along the boardwalk. As we walked along the lines of the wooden boards, I could see the pattern of what looked like rain clouds in the sky.

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A fellow nature lover was coming towards us, and as we drew level with one another, she stopped and pointed at something in front of us. “There’s a lion right there,” she announced. Now. a lion was certainly not something I was expecting to see in Florida, but sure enough, right at our feet was a knot in the wood which closely resembled a lion’s face. I’m sure I would have just walked right on over that lion if she hadn’t told me it was there.

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I loved the pretty pattern of these wild flowers amongst the lines of the surrounding grasses.

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The majestic palm trees had many lines on their trunks, leading up to the lovely pattern created by their fronds.

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This one even had an extra bit of pattern.

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We enjoyed a bit of welcome shade inside this Chickee hut. As you can see, the dried palm fronds have been made into thatch to create this interesting roof pattern. These huts have quite a history. They were invented in the early 1800’s, when the Florida Seminole and Miccosukee tribes were chased into the Everglades by American troops. As they needed to be always on the move, they required shelters that could be easily constructed and taken down at a moment’s notice. Chickee is the Seminole word for ‘house’, and these huts consisted of thick cypress posts which supported a thatched roof, and had a raised wooden platform. In 1990, the Seminole tribes were granted the right to build these huts wherever they could find business, regardless of zoning and without special permits. They are now a reliable source of income for the Seminoles and can be found at some of the finest Florida resorts and private homes.

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As we neared the end of our 2km walk, i noticed how the straight lines of the roof on the Interpretive centre, contrasted very nicely with the pattern of fluffy clouds above it.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my lines and patterns for this week’s challenge.

Glimpses of Amsterdam, and then home to Florida.

Today I’m at Heathrow airport, as we are flying back to our home in Florida. We’ve had a wonderful month, what with Mom-in-law’s 100th birthday celebrations, a week’s visit to beautiful Cornwall, and the fabulous Rhine cruise last week. On Sunday, we docked in Amsterdam, and had a couple of hours before our flight to England, so took a short walk around some of the streets of Amsterdam. I bet you can’t possibly guess what I saw there. :)

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Whilst dodging the ‘flying’ cyclists who don’t slow down or stop for anyone, I saw even more bikes. Can you see the hundreds more stacked up across the canal?

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Can you just hazard a guess as to what is the most popular mode of transport in Amsterdam?

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Ah, here’s one guy who doesn’t seem to have a bike.

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The owner of this one obviously likes to pretty things up a bit, judging by all the colourful flowers on the spokes.

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I think this one must also belongs to a female. :?

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Many workers travel to work by train, but as you can see, they leave their bikes outside the station. I wonder how they identify their own bike out of this lot.

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You want a coffee? Just ride your bike over to Starbucks.

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Every canal is lined with bicycles.

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Now I have to ‘get on my bike’ and head down to the boarding gate. See you all on the other side. :)

 

A word a week: Zoom

Sue of ‘A Word in Your Ear’, has asked us to share some of our pics where we have used a zoom. I’m not very good at zooming in, unless it’s on an airplane to some exotic destination. :) This morning, I was sitting on the sofa, perusing the blogs whilst drinking my mug of green tea, when I saw what looked like fire in the lake outside the window. “What’s that?” I asked hubby. He was drinking his coffee, reading the South African news on his laptop, and was sitting at the wrong angle to see what I could see, so I dropped everything…….gently, and went to grab the camera before the phenomenon disappeared.

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I thought I’d like a closer shot, so fiddled with the zoom a bit, as a little duck paddled in to also have a look.

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It obviously didn’t like what it saw, and quickly disappeared back to cooler, non-fiery waters.

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My final attempt at zooming in on the burning water, yielded this pic, which I think is quite pretty.

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All the while this was going on, Mr. Grumpy Blue Heron, stood passively staring into the distance, probably waiting for the fire to disappear before going in search of his breakfast.

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When hubby saw the pics, he said that it was just the sun reflecting off someone’s window. I was disappointed with such a boring explanation, and my tea by this time, was stone cold, but I drank it anyway. The sacrifices we bloggers have to make! :mad:

To see more bloggers’ interpretations of Sue’s theme, just click here.

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What a fun week we all had.

My lovely family returned to the cold of New Jersey, yesterday. We had such a great time together, and it was so special to see the three children again and watch them having fun. Much of the time was spent playing in the pool at the club, and Sienna went to the golf and tennis workshops, which were organised for the children. There was live music and also games for the children by the pool. Sienna came joint first in the hula hoop competition, and got ‘$100′ bill, which bought her an ice cream at the restaurant. :) I was so impressed at how she just kept that hula going, even when she had to jump, wave her arms in the air and then go down on one knee a few times. What a granny’s girl! The guy organising the games realised that these two girls could go on ‘ad infinitum’, so decided to award them both. Sienna is the little one on the left.

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Three-year-old Taylor was more interested in hogging the microphone, and was given her chance to make announcements, which she did with great gusto.

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Here are some pics of the fun times, this past week. Just click on any photo to get a slide show.

This morning, breakfast for two instead of seven, was a very quiet affair, except for the sound of the washing machine working overtime. Hubby and I are now off to the gym, before coming home to tackle the myriads of tiny, sticky hand prints on the glass doors and mirrors. :)

Wishing you all a great weekend.

Back in the Sunshine State, and kitchen remodel pics.

Yesterday afternoon, we arrived back at our home here in Florida, after two weeks away in New Jersey. I was so happy to see my first “Florida” road sign along the way and to know that our three day journey was almost over.

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The drive was good, and we didn’t encounter much traffic, but when we got to Jacksonville, we saw that a truck had jack-knifed on the other side of the highway, blocking the entire road.

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The traffic was backed up for literally miles and miles., and I was so thankful that we were going in the opposite direction.

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On Wednesday we’d stopped for lunch at ‘South of the Border’, a very colourful rest stop on the border between North and South Carolina.

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Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go in and see the Great White Shark.

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The weather started getting much warmer, the closer we got to home, and it was great to be back in the land of palm trees, blue skies and sunshine, and as soon as we got in, it was off with the warm clothes, and on with the shorts and flip-flops.

This morning, we both headed for the gym, and did a great workout. We’d been away for almost two weeks, and really missed the exercise. Some of our friends were there too, so there were lots of ‘Happy New Year’ wishes flying around. One elderly lady came over to inform me that she had a new great grand…..wait for it…….DOG! I was in the midst of congratulating her on the new great grandchild, when I heard the word ‘dog’ instead of son or daughter.  Different :)

When we got home, hubby resolved, with a little gentle persuasion from me, to move the light fitting in the kitchen, to centre it over the island.

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After he did the remodel, it was totally in the wrong place. This entailed going up in the roof of course, but he did it, and whilst he was up there, I had two phone calls for him. “Sorry he’ll have to call you back, because he’s in the roof.” I’ve got quite used to saying this over the years, as he has spent quite a lot of time either in or on the roof at our various houses, whilst doing renovations. Finally it was done, and I took a couple of photos to show you the new kitchen. We still have to do some tiling on the walls, and crown moldings around the top of the cupboards, and also install the stainless steel kick plates along the bottom of the cupboards, but that can only be done after we’ve laid the wood flooring which is nicely stacked in the study at the moment. We will start this tomorrow, and there is about 1,200 sq ft of it to lay right through the living area.

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Anyway, I did promise to show you some pics when the kitchen was finished, so here are the before and after pics.

This was taken last year, shortly after we moved in, and before all our furniture had been delivered.

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This is what it now looks like. Hubby did it all by himself, with a little help now and again from me. :)

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We leave for a week in Belize next Thursday, so I don’t know if the floor will all be down by then, but we can resolve to try.

To see more posts on the WordPress ‘Resolve’ theme, just click here.

Dead ‘Gators in my Thursday’s Windows.

We had a beautiful sunny Florida morning with 21C, as we started our road trip up to the family in New Jersey. After a couple of hours driving on the Interstate 95, I espied a sign, proclaiming “Last Starbucks for 146 miles, coming up Exit 176.” 8O Oh horrors! A quick detour was definitely called for, and I happily consumed my favourite chai latte and sun-dried tomato, mozzarella and basil Panini, before we continued on our merry way. Sitting at a table outside the window were three old men, one of whom was wearing a rather scruffy Santa hat, which rather curiously said “Happy Birthday” on the front. :)

We stopped to refill the tank at a gas station just outside Palatka. Here there were many stalls displaying fresh oranges, pecan nuts and beautiful shell ornaments.

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I realised that we must be in the heart of  ‘gator country, when I looked through the window of the souvenir shop, and saw this.

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Walking around to the other side, I saw even more of them.

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The sun reflecting on the window was too much for a decent photo, so an inside shot was called for. I think even Phil would agree that this one is quite a large specimen. I couldn’t help wondering why there were so many baby ones for sale. Do people actually go alligator hunting? I checked this out, and read that Florida is the alligator hunting capital of the world, and 5,000 permits are granted every year which entitle each hunter to catch and kill two of these unfortunate creatures. The season runs from August 15th to September 1st, so for those two weeks, there must be feverish activity in those marshes. We did buy one of the tiny baby ones about four years ago, for our grandson in South Africa, but today, we just stole a few pics.

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Then it was back in the car, and before we knew it, we were at Jacksonville, almost out of Florida and into Georgia, and not a palm tree to be seen.

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I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on part of my journey, and looking at what I saw through these windows. To see more Thursday’s Windows entries, just click here.

I have very patchy internet, especially through the rural areas, so although I’ve managed to visit some of your posts, I still have hundreds of your emails in my inbox. I’ll try to catch up as soon as I can.

Thoughts on Peace, and Christmas decorations.

“Peace on earth is rarer than an oyster’s pearl, as conflict around us continues to swirl.”  ~ Roger Hollander, human rights activist.

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Last night I was thinking about the message of Christmas supposedly being “Peace on earth, goodwill to all men.” This time last year, I wrote a blog on my old site, and part of it went like this,

“On Sky News this evening, I  saw the dreadful news coming out of Baghdad and Syria. So many people dead and injured in the latest terrorist attacks. Families devastated in Baghdad as a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle, blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption. Reports from a human rights group in Syria, tell us that more than 6 200 people including hundreds of children have died in Syria’s crackdown on an anti-government revolt. At least 40 people have been killed and 100 injured in two explosions at security bases in Damascus, which according to state TV, were the work of terrorists.”

I does seem to me that we don’t seem to have learned anything in the last year, because we still have the carnage going on in Syria, and families are still being torn apart by the ongoing war there. So many people throughout the world are suffering because of greedy men fighting for power. I believe that the concept “Peace on earth” is sadly as elusive as it ever was. My heart goes out to all the innocent people caught up in these terrible situations. Because of man’s inhumanity to his fellow-man, for many people, these last days of 2012 have been filled with shock, grief and trauma, instead of joy and celebration.

“We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.”  ~William Gladstone

For all of us who are fortunate enough to be spending this season with family and friends in a peaceful environment, it’s an opportunity for us to give thanks for our many blessings. I for one am so very grateful that I’m here, and not living in one of those strife-torn countries.

I would like to thank you all for all the congratulations and good wishes expressed on my last post. You are such a lovely bunch of bloggers, and I really appreciate this caring community. On Thursday we leave for our road trip up to New Jersey to spend Christmas with our dear son and his family. On Thursday, we’ll be staying overnight in Savannah, and on Friday, in Richmond Virginia. I’m so looking forward to the drive up there, and have so much present wrapping to do today, before I start packing. I hope I’ll be able to do a couple of blogs whilst we’re away.

Let me leave you with good wishes for the holiday season, and a few pics of some of the decorations I’ve seen around Florida in the past few days. I’m hoping to be able to go into NY city to see all the Christmas lights, especially the huge tree at the Rockefeller Centre.

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My son sent me this photo last year, from the Huffington Post. In New York, people try to outdo each other with their inventiveness for decorating their homes. This homeowner had to dismantle his efforts, after this scene almost caused road accidents, when people screeched to a halt to rush to this dummy’s assistance. He said, ” A 55-year-old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder and almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.”

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“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
~ Mother Teresa

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

I don’t have too many photos with interesting reflections, and I had used most of them for Jake’s Sunday Post  ‘Reflections’ challenge, but here are just a few more that I found lurking in my photo file.

No prizes for guessing where this one was taken. Of course it’s owned by the guy with the most famous comb-over in the world. :) When it was completed in 1983, this 58-storey skyscraper on 5th Avenue Lower Manhattan, was the tallest building in the world. Donald Trump lives in the penthouse of course, and other residential parts of the building are occupied by some of the wealthy elite of New York.

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In complete contrast to Mr Trump, here is another duck, although this handsome fellow would rather be called a Great Egret. He is usually the first bird I see every morning, as I look out of my bedroom window.

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Here is some of the a lovely countryside, on our journey from Umhlanga to the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa.

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This one was also taken in the same area.

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This image taken in our Jeep, shows just how hot our South African summers can get. Thanks goodness for air-con.  I can’t make out the weird reflection, but I suppose it must be me taking the photo. I don’t usually look like that. :)

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Lastly, I was looking through some photos of our son’s wedding at Lake Tahoe, and found this one of me about to make my ‘descent from the clouds’ into the garden where the ceremony was to be held. I had never noticed the sky reflection before. :)

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If you’d like to see what other bloggers have come up with for the theme, just click here.