Ok, so the title is slightly kitchy, but it came to me as Belinda Carlisle was singing to me on the way home from work today. Sanibel is heaven on Earth. It is one of the places that furthered my interest in marine biology growing up. We went to Sanibel and Fort Myers beach for vacation a few years when I was growing up and we loved it. I always thought when I moved to Florida that I would be living over there, but we never have. I hardly ever get to go, maybe once a year; it’s a good two hour drive from the house and we are often doing other things.
But, Sanibel is what beaches should be like—full of sea detritus waiting to be explored and poked through. I know I am one of the few, and I do know of others, but I love the smell of things rotting on the beach. Sargassum washed up—-yep, love it. Poking through dead sea urchins…oh yeah! I know, I’m weird, but it is such a good smell. It’s the ocean. The ocean doesn’t smell all floral and pretty, it’s raw and untamed.
The ocean has some beautiful treasures.
And because you are in the jumping mood, you know you wanna watch this:
When we left Marc and Eliana’s house on Friday night we decided we’d meet them at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at 7am on Saturday morning. From our house it is about an hour and a half drive and from theirs, add at least another forty-five minutes.
We weren’t exactly bright eyed and bushy-tailed when we got there. It was early.
Chris and I arrived first and hit the boardwalk after I downed the majority of my coffee since disposable materials aren’t allowed on the boardwalk. He set out for the cypress dome and I wanted to see what I could come up with in the fog that had rolled in across the open prairie. I wasn’t too successful with the fog but I did get some shots that I enjoyed.
Marc and Eliana are birders, something which Chris and I aren’t very good at. Well, we aren’t good at the little birds like finches, warblers and the like. They are pretty good at noticing the calls and it helps that their iphone has a spiffy app for bird calls so they can double check to see what bird it is. I think we racked up a bit of knowledge that day!
We saw a minute amount of wildlife, mostly at the first half of the trail. Eliana and I spotted two Big Cypress fox squirrels in some cypress trees, chewing on the cypress balls. I haven’t seen very many of these squirrels—they’ve been replaced by the more common grey squirrel. They were fun to watch for awhile and I know Chris got a few good photos. As we were going up to tell Marc and Chris about the squirrels they told us about a very docile red shouldered hawk that was being kind enough to sit still for photos. We switched places and started taking photos of the hawk.
This is the area where the super ghost orchid is located. Since it is out of the blooming season we had a bit of a time trying to point out just where it was off in the distance.
I think this is where Marc was looking for the yellow crowned night heron. A volunteer had set up a scope at the pond to let visitors check out the birds. This time of year is peak birding season here in Florida, when all of the migratory birds head south to stay cozy for the winter.
Stay tuned for the rest of the trip….
Does anyone have any good podcast recommendations? I’m looking for some podcasts that are free but of a high caliber. It can be gardening, outdoors, crafts, photography, well, just about anything that you can tell that is of interest to me. Send it my way!
…still doing the Sanibel Stoop.
We had an awesome weekend that continued from Marc and Eliana’s house over to the west coast at Sanibel and Cayo Costa State Park. I have so many photos to go through—I’ll have plenty to write about this week!
Christmas day started off a little bit on the wrong foot. A door was left open or didn’t get closed entirely when Chris left to do an early morning photographic expedition down at Everglades National Park, and three of the cats at Marc and Eliana’s escaped. We only knew about it when one of the cats, Desi, ended up in a fight with a neighborhood stray. I thought he was fighting with another cat in the living room until Eliana knocked on the bedroom door and got me out of bed to look for the third cat, Timber, that they couldn’t find.
It was a long day of walking the neighborhood, putting up some fliers, talking to neighbors and calling the cat. We took a long break after lunch, knowing the cat would lay low in the middle of the day. Around 4:30 Eliana and I were several blocks over when Chris comes zooming up in the car and letting us know that they found the cat in the front yard of the house directly behind them—probably where she’d been all day. *phew*. A huge weight was lifted. I had a feeling she hadn’t gone far, but still, knowing she was out there made for a long day.
Christmas Eve was nice, a quiet evening of pizza, drinking wine and sangria, playing Cranium and listening to Eliana repeatedly sing George Michael’s Last Christmas. Seriously, that song and not something like Carol of the Bells or Oh Holy Night or even Rudolph. Needless to say it ended up in our heads!
Not long after I’d been there Eliana ushered me into their computer room to give me a present. I didn’t have any idea what it was since she said it was for both of us until she started getting all giddy and I saw the size of the box—then I guessed. Glo Bars!. From Oh She Glows.
Then somehow Eliana conned Chris into running out to find a Chia Pet. You see chia seeds are all the rage in the health food world right now and I’d never put two and two together to realize that they are the same plant…duh! Apparently Eliana had been wanting one and had been looking but never found it. So, at 6pm on Christmas Eve we went to Walgreens for a Chia Pet.
Our Christmas meal was quite non-traditional, a butternut squash pesto pizza. One vegan (vegan cheese—which actually wasn’t bad) and a regular one. Honestly, one of the best pizza’s I’ve had! Really good recipe to try.
After dinner and some relaxing we ended up playing with light painting and photography again and then some crazy jumping in the front yard, but all of those photos are on Chris’ camera and he doesn’t feel like processing them right now. I think there are some very cool shots in there!
Stay warm my cold, snowy friends!
We’re here at Marc and Eliana’s house for Christmas Eve and what has turned out to be an extended Christmas Day because a door got left open this morning and a cat has gone missing. We had a late night playing Cranium and doing Eliana’s Colombian tradition of staying up until midnight to open presents. We also tried a butternut squash pesto pizza for our dinner and a vegan apple tart cake for desert.
Rarely do we get blessed with such great clouds. The strong wind on Saturday brought rippling effects to the clouds and the sunset for our hike made a beautiful ending to the day.
Which one do you like best?
Growing up, I always thought Christmas would be the same. There would be lots of presents, good food, lounging around and lots of laughter. After I got married, Thanksgiving morphed into one of my favorite holidays and Christmas was pushed aside. Part of this was the whole sharing of families deal that comes with any married couple. The only good part about that was the families were separated by three counties, not three states. The bad part was that we had to fly out there and shuffle around.
So, as I’ve gotten older Christmas has changed. Part of it is that instead of it being grey and the landscape mostly dead, everything is green and more times than not it can reach 80* during the day. We went home for our first two married Christmases, Chris was in grad-school and I had a job that was flexible with holiday time. But, the weather up in Melbourne was cooler and it tended to feel a little more like Christmas.
Once we moved to Miami, Christmas changed. It was hot. I was wearing shorts, we didn’t have a tree and since we both had jobs that were relatively new we couldn’t go home. Honestly, that was probably the suckiest Christmas ever. I know, I know, there are suckier Christmases in the world—I could’ve been starving or poor or who knows what else—but, for me, it wasn’t Christmas.
I don’t think I’ve been home for Christmas since that last time when we lived in Melbourne, mostly due to work circumstances, but if we go home it is for Thanksgiving.
The other big thing that I didn’t realize would change is the presents. There is nothing to give! Everyone has everything! It’s annoying to have to wrap up a shirt or something of that manner and not have a gift that is meaningful to give. Presents have morphed into a bigger gift such as buying a new SLR camera a few years ago or this year when we bought two photographs from some photographers we really like and enjoy. But, it isn’t the same. The only good part of this is that my niece Zoe is getting to be of the age where I can get her things she will enjoy. I was terribly tempted to get her a bunny costume a la A Christmas Story but dad got me out of the idea. I mean, I did want to be that aunt! At least she’s a girl and not a pre-teen boy, right?
A few Christmas memories that stand out:
- Getting tennis rackets. Dad took my brother, Curt, and I to the old tennis courts at my old high school (then my future high school) and we played some form of tennis that involved hitting a ball across the court. Oh, I also remember my dad finding some teenage love note stuck in the wire fence around the court and then didn’t let us read it!!
- Opening up a box and finding out that I really did get the leather jacket I’d been eyeing at the mall. My parents really tricked me on that one! I honestly thought it was a lost cause. I wore that sucker until it had a hole in the left sleeve.
- Watching my brother set up this race track and then helping him play with it as the cars as went round and round and I think we made loops and tried to get them to fly off.
- As we got older we always got one big movie of the year. I’m sure at first they were VHS and moved to DVDs later, but as we started opening presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day we would open the movie and then watch the movie that night as we snuggled down on the couch with our dog Sandy. I’m sure we fell asleep mid-way through sometimes.
- One year, in highs school, my friend Erika and I went and sat on Santa’s lap. My mom had been lamenting that we hadn’t had a Santa photo in a few years and how it was sad we were growing up so I surprised her with a photo of us. She cried happy tears!
- At least once, maybe twice, my Grandad took my brother and I out to go shopping for our parents at the Parks mall in Arlington sometime during our two weeks off before Christmas. This is (was?) a big two story mall that had a ton of shops. I remember walking all around the stores, I’m sure Grandad was entirely tired, and Curt and I would pick out gifts to give to our parents. The only thing that I remember buying was a clay coffee mug with a bluebonnet on it for my mom. I’m fairly certain dad got a shirt or maybe something Dallas Cowboys related. I also remember buying a lot of candy in the candy store for my brother.
- Oh, how could I forget…Babysitters Club books. I think I read books 1-4 and 9-12, the two sets I got, by the time I returned to school. I still have them, tattered covers and all. That was 5th grade, I think the real turning point of my bookwormishness.
Those are just a few things that I can pull out of my brain right now. I know there are others. Putting tinsel on the tree. Mom, Curt and I decorating the tree while dad was t.v. in the evening. Going to my grandmothers house in the afternoon for more present opening and eating oh-so-delicious turkey and dressing.
Ah, that is Christmas.
Ahh, it is so nice to be writing again! My brother has me up and running enough to post, but we still have to work out the widgets (ie: the side archives and categories) and I’ve put everything up until this past week in the archives up there at the top. I’ll eventually re-work my banner, but until then this is what I’ve got. I will also try and fix the font size and color; I already tried to change the visited link color but it hasn’t worked yet.
On Saturday, a day after my dad sat indoors while it poured the entire day and Chris and I had to work, we got outside to stretch our legs and hit Jonathan Dickinson State Park. I know, it seems like we go up there all the time, but we like it. Only this time we didn’t see any animals, just a ton of prints in the wet sand—coyotes, pigs, deer, raccoon, crawfish.
We had a freak two days of rain, heavy downpours and localized flooding. These trails were dry three weeks ago and were now puddled. Dad forgot to bring his hiking boots so he had to carefully traverse the sides of the trail.
We stopped at Kitching Creek for a break and I tried to snap some shots of Dad and while he was talking about how I should get the shine of his bald spot I noticed Chris in the background trying to take a photo, too.
The wind is hard on my ears—sensitive ears to just about any kind of cool wind. So, while I warmed up after some walking, the wind started bothering my ears. Which is why it seems odd to wear that buff in mild Florida, but that’s why.
We went to the old steam engine we found a few weeks ago to find that the area had been burned by a controlled burn. The place was scorched with burn marks up the sides of the pine trees and the palmettos ghostly with their charred trunks sticking up. I think I’ve read that the growth rate for these plants is 1′ per 25 years! So, if you see long trunks, know that those plants can be several centuries old!
A few weeks ago on Flickr I saw someone post a photo that they panned the camera with, creating a painting of sorts with the photo. It was so cool that I remembered it Saturday and tried it myself. I had to turn my f-stop up to I think 22 which was the highest it goes on for ISO 100 and that lens I had, then lowered it to a slow shutter speed to blur upon movement. I had to test it a few times before I learned a quickly flick up was all I needed.
It was a great outing with a day that ended at a steak restaurant filling ourselves from the caloric deficit of the day and watching the Cowboys beat the Saints!
I have my brother on WordPress Duty, except he just got called to head to evening church so for now, the blog is lookin’ a bit funky. I updated my feed to the new feed and it switched over super quick, which means that I should stop having so many problems with feeds updating. AND that means you can do email subscriptions now. Phew!! I know a lot of people wanted that awhile back and it stopped working and I couldn’t figure out Feedburner to get it fixed.
My dad is heading back home tonight; now I’m not looking forward to a work week. Blech.
I found out today that one of my best friend’s dad passed away suddenly yesterday morning. My personal phone has been dead for the past few weeks when some water and humidity got into it so I have just been checking messages every so often. I missed two of her calls and had to find out when my mom called to tell my dad today. And then seeing the Brittany Murphy death on the news, well, it has made for a depressing day.
Well, when I get everything up and running again I’ll let you know so you can come check the digs out. It should look very much the same, but with an easier blogging platform! WOO! I’m keeping all of my other pages so that will be easy to change, but no more writing in Notepad and uploading for my blog!