Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pickle Ball, Air Show and Lots of Birds in the Yard.

On Top of the World (OTOW) is a very active 55+ community. Everyday, there are so many activities, it's hard to choose which ones to attend. Last Thursday, we went to a Get-Acquainted Coffee and heard a presentation on Pickle Ball. Neither of us had ever heard of it before - but we decided to go to the beginners class in the afternoon. Pickle Ball is a cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis. It is played on a badminton court with a tennis net. The balls look like plastic wiffle balls and you hit them with a wooden paddle - slightly larger than a ping pong paddle. We had a great time, got some exercise, and met some very nice couples. This morning we were back to practice our serves and volleys.

Yesterday, the OTOW RC Flyers held their annual air show. The turnout was phenomenal. Golf carts from all over the complex were parked in nice neat rows facing the flying field. Some of the flyers have built racks on the back of their carts to transport planes - but Bill will have to make do with his ManVan II for now. (ManVan I lives in Colorado.)

After about 3 hours of watching the giant (wingspans over 80-inches) gas-powered planes fly, they allowed the spectators onto the field to see the planes up close. They were amazing!

This bi-plane was one of my favorites.

So far, Bill flies only electric (battery powered) planes, but now that he has such a nice work space, maybe he'll try one of the gas-powered ones. His Delta needed some repairs after a not-so-smooth flight.

His other planes are hanging from the ceiling of the garage. Please notice the toilet to the right of his workbench. We replaced the toilet in the master bath and this is as far as the old one got. I kid Bill that now he has everything he needs so he can work out there all day.

The bird population here is very different than that in Fort Myers. We don't see the shore birds, heron, egret and ibis, but we do see - and hear - lots of beautiful smaller birds. Love is in the air and the males are sporting their colorful breeding plumages.

The Bluebirds are regular visitors to our feeder in the backyard.

This Bluebird looks more like a hummingbird here. Usually, they look for seeds on the ground under the feeder. His dinner companion is a finch.

The Goldfinches are also regular visitors. Sometimes we have dozens on and around the feeder.

This male is further along in his spring breeding plumage and is showing the black cap. Click on the image and you can really see how the bright yellow feathers are growing in replacing the duller winter colors.

At first, I was sure this was a Chipping Sparrow - but they don't have streaks on their breast, so I looked at Song Sparrows - but they have a central spot on their breast, which this bird lacks. One of my pictures shows yellow on his belly - which led me to the Palm Warbler. He should have more yellow on his face and breast - but his markings are closer to the Palm Warbler than any of the other birds I checked.

Next week, we head back to Fort Myers to spend time with my oldest grandson, Zachary, over his Easter vacation. We are really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blogging From Ocala

Here I sit in our new house in Ocala - the first chance I've had to blog in a couple of weeks. It's really starting to feel like home now. Bill loves his garage and is busy setting up storage for his planes. The last of the furniture we've ordered - a comfy recliner - should arrive tomorrow. There is still lots to do, but the rest of the big projects - and purchases - will have to wait until we return next year.

We will make just one more trip back to our condo in Fort Myers - to spend Easter week with grandson Zachery - before packing the last of our things and closing it up for the summer. The condo is for sale and people are looking, but no offers yet. To help it sell, we planted a statue of Saint Joseph in the yard - upside down and facing the building - but Bill broke his head off in the process - so that might delay things just a tad.

We had a nice visit with Bill's sister, Terry and her husband, Ray. I took this picture at Lover's Key. After a couple of standard posed pictures, I told them to do something fun and Terry decided to hug Ray. He looks startled - but it's a great picture of Terry! Ray scoured the beach for interesting shells to use in his art projects and jewelry.

Naturally, we took Terry and Ray to all of our favorite places. This young Yellow-crowned Night Heron has just snagged a tasty morsel for lunch at the Ding Darling Preserve on Sanibel.

My but that was good!

This is either a Common Merganser or its near twin, a Red-breasted Merganser - the first time I've spotted one on Sanibel.

There are lots of these beautiful Meadowlarks on Cape Coral.

This Florida Softshell Turtle is one of the oddest creatures I've ever seen! Look at his snout!

I always enjoy the cardinals. We have lots of them in Ocala - but we don't often see them in Ft. Myers.

This is the Ovenbird that lives at the Corkscrew Swamp Preserve. It's a terrible picture - but at least it proves I actually saw it!

Last year we saw quite a few Florida Scrub Jays - but they have been more illusive this year.

Bill and I are starting to think more about the mountains in Colorado and plan to head north towards the end of April. We might have to stop along the way for the annual Fayette Flyers RC Show.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Epcot and Ocala

Okay, okay - it's been over a week since my last blog and my "regulars" are getting antsy -- well at least one is. You know who you are.

And quite a week it's been! A week ago Friday, Bill and I met daughter Pamela, husband, Orlando and my handsome grandsons, Gabriel and Sebastian, at Epcot for the day. Bill earned his ticket volunteering at The Bridge - a non-profit center for at-risk youth in Fort Myers.

Gabriel had his face painted like a tiger. He was very proud and scary.

He really wanted to make sure the artist did a good job and I was exceptionally pleased that he sat so very still the whole time she was working. Afterwards, we went to lunch and he found a mirror in the restaurant. He kept going over to see how he looked. It was very cute!

Pamela and Sebastian. I wish it had been warmer but the kids didn't seem to mind the chilly weather. Pamela is wearing Gabriel's "ears." They just did not go with his tiger face!

Sebastian was a little young for most of the rides but he seemed to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park anyway. Bill got him to take a short nap while mom and dad went on the rides with Gabriel.

Here we are - Pamela with Sebastian, me, Gabriel and Orlando. Mickey and Minnie are in the background - along with an unnamed couple who was in the wrong place at the right time.

We had a great day and enjoyed the kids before heading north and dropping off another load of furniture at our storage unit in Ocala.

On Monday at 11:30 a.m. we made settlement on our new house in Ocala. At 1:00 p.m. Stanley Steemer came to clean the carpets, at 2:00 p.m. the guys arrived to measure the floors for new carpet and flooring, at 2:30 p.m. Jeremy arrived to set up the Internet and after that our new bedroom furniture arrived so we could spend the night in our new house. It has been non-stop - buying, fixing, adding, assembling new, etc. ect. We actually made friends with our sales-person at the furniture store and purchased some new furniture she had stored in her garage. I'm waiting for the last of it to be delivered any minute.

This is an endangered fox squirrel and we took this picture across the street from our new house. The locals call it a raccoon squirrel because of the dark face mask. It is the largest species of squirrel in the U.S..

One of our priority jobs was putting up a bird feeder in our open backyard. Our first visitors were Bluebirds followed by Chickadees - lots of Robins, Cardinals and Blue Jays. This is going to be fun!

This is our new bedroom...

And living room...

eating area in the kitchen...

and Florida Room. A Florida room (I learned) has both screens and windows under air and heat. We had a lanai in Fort Myers - which is an outdoor room with screens. In Colorado we have a patio. Regardless of the name - it's where we spend most of our time.