Wintering in Florida

Azaleas blooming in January

Azaleas blooming in January

I am still in a bit of shock that we are really spending the whole winter down here.  I used to think that was only for well-to-do snowbirds from way up north — never me!

There was a group of 4 peacocks today, but I couldn't catch them close enough together to get them all in one picture.

There was a group of 4 peacocks today, but I couldn’t catch them close enough together to get them all in one picture.

The affordableness of it is what staggers me!   Just by making it a top priority, the finances just kind of fall into place.

We had both dogs groomed yesterday — a full grooming for Sunny, and a mini groom for Sheba.  Sunny looked so bad, I was ashamed for anyone to see him.  I kept putting the grooming off for him due to his anxiety attacks.  But finally there was no putting it off any more.

Another leaning tree (besides the one I photographed yesterday).

Another leaning tree (besides the one I photographed yesterday).

Also I wanted to get Sheba a sanitary trim so she would be easier to keep clean (and smell better).

While we were in Ocoee doing laundry yesterday, we noticed a dog groomer in the same shopping center.  I asked if they accepted walk-ins and they did.  So I got Sunny and Sheba off the truck and left them at the groomer.

Sunny was already having an anxiety attack from the truck ride.  I give him a Benedryl when he is really out of control and it does calm him down — a little.  But it didn’t do much for him yesterday.

Base of the leaning tree.  Looks like it's not going to be able to support itself too much longer.

Base of the leaning tree. Looks like it’s not going to be able to support itself too much longer.

Sunny apparently was yipping, pacing and shaking during the entire grooming… and got so upset that he wet on the table.  The groomer said he really went ballistic when she tried to trim his face.  This is so unlike the little dog who used to stand statue still for grooming.  Everyone always told me what a good boy he was.  But he even does that now when I try to brush his ears or tail or wash his face.  And he gets aggressive if I keep trying.

Resurrection ferns on the leaning tree.

Resurrection ferns on the leaning tree.

So I think that might have been his last grooming.  I will try to keep his hair from getting too bad myself.

Sheba, on the other hand had ticks that I had missed in her thick fur.  So the groomer hand picked them off and gave her a dip.  She also got a haircut and it is amazing how much neater and cleaner she looks (and smells).

So the bill for having my two difficult dogs groomed was $115 plus tip! But it was worth every penny to us.

Sunny's haircut

Sunny’s haircut

There is another couple in a Casita here.  They parked next to us for a couple of days, but had to move today as another person had a reservation for the site they were in.  So they moved across the loop from us.

Ron has spoken to the man, but I haven’t had a chance to speak to his wife except for a few words.  They are constantly going and doing.  They did ask Ron if he would close their windows (from the outside) if it rained today.  But we lucked out with no rain.

Sheba

Sheba

We are an odd sort of snowbird, I guess.  We aren’t much for going and sightseeing.  Instead we love to choose beautiful places to camp, then spend our time there observing the marvelous details of nature around us.

What matters is that Ron and I are content and are loving our lives as they happen day by day.

Sheba showing off her haircut

Sheba showing off her haircut

 

Awesome Glimpses of Nature

An ant tending a herd of aphids

An ant tending a herd of aphids

We are still catching up with yardwork after our last trip, and I’m gearing up to install the Fantastic Fan in the Casita next week.  Still need to run the wiring and cut the garnish for the

Roadside flowers before the storm

Roadside flowers before the storm

fan down to size.  I’m also rebuilding a new mount for it because I’m not happy with the one I made.

So — in the meantime, my sister Hope emailed me a treasure trove of pictures taken at her home in north Florida.  They are way too good to keep to myself!  I hope you enjoy them!

Hope captured some great shots of ants herding aphids and stroking them with

Another shot of ants tending their aphids

Another shot of ants tending their aphids

their antennae to milk the sweet honeydew.  If you’ve never heard of that before, you can read about it here.  The ants protect their herd from predators and move the aphids to better food sources when the host plant becomes depleted.  Some ants will even take aphid eggs to their nests and store them over the winter to restock their herd the next year.

Ladybug eating an aphid

Ladybug eating an aphid

She also got a couple of shots of ladybugs eating aphids.

She had another series of photos showing a spider eating a moth (and losing a leg or two in the conflict), and another one of the spider that turned out more foreboding-looking than the first.  I felt too sorry for the poor moth to post the photo of his demise.  🙂

As a Florida native, I’ve seen thousands (at least) of lovebugs.  Usually flying in

Another shot of the ladybug eating the aphid

Another shot of the ladybug eating the aphid

mating pairs and smashing against my windshield and the front of my car.  But I had never seen how they looked up close.  Again, Hope captured that with her camera.

You can click on the photos to enlarge them if you’d like to see more detail.

Lovebugs up close

Lovebugs up close

Spider - missing a leg or two

Spider – missing a leg or two

He looks a lot more menacing here

He looks a lot more menacing here

Not sure what this little creature is.  Maybe an immature grasshopper or cricket?  His head looks kind of like a seahorse's head.

Not sure what this little creature is. Maybe an immature grasshopper or cricket? His head looks kind of like a seahorse’s head.

After the storm

After the storm

Autumn Splendor in the Woods

The forest floor decorated for fall

Most of the woods in the area are carpeted with predominantly brown leaves.  But while I was out walking today I passed an area where the fallen leaves were just blazing.

Maybe people farther north are used to colors like this, but this is breathtaking for Georgia.

I had not felt very well the past couple of days.  I decided to go for a walk to see if it would help perk me up.  Seeing those incredible colors was just the medicine I needed.  My energy level soared!

Last evening I saw one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen.  The sky looked like deep, molten flame, and the reflection on the lake was so intense that it looked like an extension of the sky.  I took over 30 photos trying to capture the colors — and not one of the pictures captured a fraction of the majesty.

Nature outdoing herself!

Seeing these gorgeous leaves today made up for last night’s disappointment.

The mushroom season is winding down.  All I’ve found lately are various amanitas, (poisonous) a few small ones I didn’t bother trying to identify, and an occasional suillus (edible, but mediocre).  And one more puffball the other day.

I haven’t found any hen of the woods (maitake), chicken of the woods (sulfur shelf), oyster mushrooms or the coveted bears head (hericium).  I guess it’s the drought… or I’ve just not been looking in the right woods.  This has been the most disappointing fall for mushrooms for me.  I read on the mushroom boards that people in other areas are finding them plentiful.  Maybe I’m just losing my touch!  🙂

The half-eaten mushroom is probably a russula.

I didn’t notice it today due to the constant wind, but the two previous days while Ron and I were out walking, we have gotten occasional whiffs of the most heavenly scent.  Something is flowering, and I have no idea what would be blooming in the woods in the fall with such a sweet, evocative fragrance.  Hope we are gifted with another whiff or two before we leave here Sunday morning.

What Does Camping Mean to You?

For all you fans of extreme traveling, Waldseilgarten mountain resort in Bavaria, Germany might be the destination for you. How does camping in a tent hanging 6,562 feet in the air sound? Waldseilgarten resort offers a variety of camping options from the top of a Bavarian mountain summit. From enjoying a good night’s sleep while dangling off a tree top or cliff to sleeping in a hand built igloo, this resort should provide the right fix for any of you adventurous thrill seekers.
http://enpundit.com/extreme-camping-in-germany/

As I wait for our next camping trip, sometime after Labor Day, I’ve been pondering over all the different types of people who are attracted to the outdoors.  Some of us seek the thrill of adventure, yearning to push our boundaries and conquer the unknown.

I get a severe case of vertigo just looking at this picture. But it’s apparently a thrilling adventure to this guy! http://myfavouritestuffs.com/extreme-camping/13067

Others seek to escape the frenetic pressures of modern living and escape into the peace and serenity of natural surroundings.  Still others hope to meet new friends among the very special people who share their love of the outdoors.

Some of us like to boondock in the wilderness alone.  Some of us need the feeling of security that camping near other people provides.

Just for fun, I did an image search on camping this evening and found the following photos that cover many different camping styles.

The kind of camping our grandparents might have enjoyed. http://www.scenicreflections.com/download/385130/Camping_Wallpaper/

Snoopy and Woodstock sum it up for me. 🙂

What style camper are you?  🙂

Summer Fruits and Flowers & Ukulele Update

Plums are beginning to ripen

Despite the brutal heat wave, nature continues her eternal cycles.  Late in the day, when the yard is in shade, is when I enjoy getting outdoors and enjoying the display.

Our plums are beginning to ripen.  We’ve already picked half a dozen.  Soon we’ll have more than we know what to do with!

An ant enjoys the half plum that another critter nibbled on and discarded.

The figs, and wild blackberries and wild black cherries are also maturing nicely.

Wild oxeye daisies are blooming.

And another year is almost halfway gone.  That’s a significant milestone when your hair is silver.  🙂

I am REALLY enjoying my ukulele.  I’m working on combining simple picking and chording for the most elementary introduction to fingerstyle playing.  It is so rewarding.  I also do a lot of soft chording and singing (HAH!) after Ron is in bed in the evenings.  It’s my special time in a very special dimension where music is the only language that is spoken.

Baby figs

Blackberries just beginning to redden.

Wild black cherries beginning to color

Hazy sunset

Ox eye daisies

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