Friday, May 29, 2009

Cocoa Beach

Thanks to Karen's OPI polish collection and her sweet gentle hands, my toenails look pretty nice as I gaze over them and view the ocean. My cousin Julie spent two nights, and she brought two wonderful lounge chairs, set them up with Mark's big umbrella. So we sat side by side, enjoying a sunny beach day. We took photos of each other, but neither Julie nor I would ever approve of putting those pictures online for the world to view.

Chicago Tour Group

I took the smallest group ever through Chicago; a 24-year old band director, 3 adults, and 19 students. Add the bus driver and me, and we had a total of 25 people. I am usually not excited to do a small group, because they get too cozy with me, asking a lot more than a group would and should, but this group was great! It was the last group of the season for me, and the best group ever. It has been a great Spring! Here's what we did in three days: Shedd's Aquarium, Navy Pier, Gino's Pizza, Millinium Park with "The Bean" (Cloud Gate), Blue Man Group, Hancock Building's 94th floor,dinner and a show at Midieval Times, Six Flags theme park, and our bus was hijacked by the "gangster" Big Julie for a Capone-Era gangster tour of Chicago.

Taken just outside of Shedd's Aquarium
looking at how huge Lake Michigan is

Photographing their reflection at The Bean

Looking much like an empty bus, the girls were bored with heads down, tapping away on their cell phones during the gangster tour - but the boys heads were up!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sniff Sniff, I Smell Smoke!

A few days ago, we stepped outside and smoke choked our lungs and burned our eyes. Tiny white flakes of ash rained down on us like snow. With Florida's current water restrictions and the potential for fire damage, it didn't seem like the appropriate time to plan a woods fire, but there was either a prescribed burn or a campfire gone awry. My guess is the latter.

Yesterday I slipped through the barbed wire fence that seperates our back yard from the Wekiva State Park, hiked in a mile or so, and did my own inspection. If it was a campfire, the park made quick work of it and kept the fire under good control. I've seen prescribed burns that didn't go this well. This picture shows the burned woods, seperated with a fire break road, and the healthy woods on the other side. I enjoy the recovery from a burn. Deer come out of the woodwork to enjoy licking the ash and, after mimicking a natural wildfire, the forest is clean of the natural tangle of underbrush. The advantage of a prescribed burn is, control, and at the most opportune time. And the advantage of a forest fire is, IF a wildfire occurs, dry tinder that feeds the fire is minimized.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Momma's Fig Tree

The fig tree in my parents' back yard is gorgeous! Just a bunch of bare sticks in winter, but in the spring, leaves as big as my hand appear. A few weeks later brings the beginnings of little figs. Last year I bought some fig preserves in North Carolina. The flavor was delicious and there was a satisfying little crunch from the many teeny seeds. Hopefully I will get back up to Jacksonville at the peak of fig season and try canning some for momma. It'll be fun!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Doctor and Dog Parks and Chicago and Pennsylvania

I have been sick since I left Chicago. I was so sure it was an allergy to the many gorgeous tulips blooming all over the Chicagoland area, but the "allergy" continued. Perhaps it was all the night blooming jasmine that bloom all day and night here. Regardless, it evolved into laryngitis, followed by chest congestion and finally the last straw was a bad sinus headache yesterday. I dragged myself to the doctor. "What's wrong?" "I have green goop oozing from my lungs and sinus." "You have a sinus and a lung infection!" My doctor is a genius. A handful of antibiotics, and I'm on my way. I woke up this morning with severe foot pain (arthritis), but it was a good thing, because the days before I woke up because I couldn't breathe. Do antibiotics work that fast??

The dog park is a fun place to take Juliet, as she is so extremely playful and always has a ball. The last couple of times, though, she has been spooked by the "greeting party" of dogs that rush up when a newbie arrives, and she heads out. Out, meaning through the crack in the closed gate, through the crack in the second closed gate, across the road (cars!) and to the parking lot. This has happened three times, each just as frightening as the first. This time I stopped in the city recreation office nearby first to show my dog off to my friend there, but to also ask that they weld on an extension to block the opening. Yesterday I met someone with two young dogs that had the same experience and we noticed that folks with smaller dogs had quit coming to the park. An email was sent, but I placed a follow-up call today to be sure the email was taken seriously.I called the manager today to see if something can be done and they'll check Orange County code and fix it. Yay!

Another group heads to Chicago May 21-25 and I am going to accompany them. I love Chicago, have I mentioned that?? This time, instead of visiting my sister-in-law again, I will fly to Pennsylvania Dutch country to visit my niece Karen in Lebanon PA from the 18th and fly straight to Chicago O'Hare on the 21st. Works for me. All I had to do was pay for one flight and the company pays the rest. I'm looking forward to seeing Karen and family so much!! What a great life - - after that - Chicago!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More of Chicago

Typical row houses downtown, the "L" underground station, Tapping for Tips - Columbia University students, and Michigan Avenue at dusk. I love the way Chicagoans dress, and I love love love all the tulips in the spring.