Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Nature Coast

I love visiting the fishing villages on the Gulf of Mexico. We decided to try and find the closest Gulf Beach to Ocala. This is Fort Island Gulf Beach in Chrystal River in Citrus County.

This picture was taken from the fishing pier.

I don't know what they were fishing for - but they sure were working hard at it!

I spotted this Zebra Butterfly as I walked along the wooden boardwalk towards the beach area. There were dozens of them enjoying the beautiful wild flowers.

...and this is the small, but clean beach. There is adequate parking, clean rest rooms and picnic tables. It's just a short nature walk to the pier. The birds are Black Skimmers.

It's Dragonfly Season in Florida! There are thousands of them flying everywhere - often in pairs. This red beauty is a Carolina Saddlebags Skimmer. Judging from my pictures, this one is the most common.

I believe this is a female Roseate Skimmer. The males have more color.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just another day at OTOW

We have two bird feeders hanging in the Oak Tree in front of our house and several more in back of the house so we have lots of visitors. This is a Loggerhead Shrike. They are fairly common here in Ocala, but, until this year, not common at our feeders.

I don't think he comes to eat - he just perches on top waiting for a tasty grasshopper.

Bill took this picture of an American Kestrel that was sitting on top of a pine tree in back of our house.

He was quite a distance away, but easily identifiable as a beautiful adult male.

Speaking of adult males, many of them who live here at OTOW spend a lot of their time at the RC flying field. Bill is numbered among them.

This is one of his new planes and he actually invited me to come along one evening to watch him fly - as long as I brought my camera.

I tried to stay focused on the planes - but it was difficult with all the little birds playing in the grass. This is our most common Fall warbler - a Yellow-rumped (probably a first-year male).

Bill and Bud deep in aeronautical discussions. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Christmas in Ocala!

I've been working on a couple of Christmas projects. The first picture is a reversible tablecloth that I made for the table on our lanai using left-over material from the quilt in the second picture.

The quilt is a gift for good neighbors who watch our house over the summer.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Re Do

Last winter I made a quilt for my newest grandson Leandro with some adorable frog material I found. The pattern is a variation of Sarah's Roses from the Stack and Wackier book. I was happy with the quilt until I tried to machine quilt it. I had no idea what I was doing and thought I ruined it. After my sister visited and spent time showing me the proper way to pin baste and machine quilt, my attempts were much better - but I had already put this one aside.

Last week I decided to fix it so I removed all the machine quilting and began a do-over. I'm much happier with the results and Leandro may finally get his quilt!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thirty-four Hundred Miles Later...

We left Colorado early on a beautiful September morning. Pikes Peak was adorned in majestic shades of purple. Fall was in the air and we both had over-shirts on with our short pants.

Our first stop was just south of Kansas City. Actually, that statement is not quite accurate. We make frequent rest stops along the way - usually at McDonalds for coffee or State Welcome Centers for hotel coupons. We try to stretch our legs, clear our lungs and empty our bladders every couple of hours.

Driving through Eastern Colorado and Kansas, we saw signs of the drought - stunted corn, brown fields and dried-up crops. Bill actually let me drive through Kansas where the roads are straight and there's not much traffic. By this time I had to dig out the long pants that I had packed in the bottom of the suitcase that I hadn't planned to open until we reached Florida. I grabbed a sweatshirt while I was routing.

We arrived in Shell Knob, Missouri early on our 2nd day for a short visit with our good friends Mike and Mel. They are such gracious hosts! We always enjoy our time on Table Rock Lake. Mike took me fishing and I caught a couple of Bass.

Mel took these pictures while we relaxed on their boat. Note that I have long pants, an over-shirt AND a jacket!

This was really fun!! Thanks Mike!

They just had part of their back deck enclosed so our bird watching was insect-free and temperature controlled. Thank you  Mike and Mel for your wonderful hospitality. We are lucky to have you as friends!

Now that's a long tongue!

Across the street at Tom and Cathy's, we found the missing hummingbirds. Numbers are reportedly down - but not there! They have numerous feeders and all were a bee-hive of activity - but they told me there were twice the numbers the week before we arrived!

I think these birds are discussing politics - and the one in the middle is out-numbered.

Next stops: Muncie Indiana and Dayton Ohio. We visited two museums; AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics - RC Airplanes) and the Air Force Museum. Both were fabulous and I highly recommend them.

The Air Force Museum is HUGE. Hanging from the ceiling is an unmanned drone - or as Bill likes to say - a remote controlled (RC) airplane.

This one was my favorite - Air Force One. This was Kennedy's plane and the one that brought his body back from Dallas. Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as his successor on this plane.

Time to head east and see the kids - but first we had to tackle the Pennsylvania Turnpike. That road is an embarrassment! It's the only road where we had to pay a toll (over $20!!) and it was by far the worst road we were on. The speed limit is low and lanes are closed because it is under construction. It's been under construction since it opened in 1940.

My grandson Dylan is quite the baseball player. His mom Lisa is a baseball mom - cheering him on and running the snack bar. We went to two of his games and watched him play

Dylan and Grandmom, before the game.

...waiting to steal

Look at that swing!

Dylan, my wonderful daughter-in-law Lisa, my handsome son Rick and me. Rick is my oldest and I'm proud of the man he has become. He's lucky to have Lisa by his side.

My first grandson Zachary. I hadn't seen him in over a year and couldn't believe how tall he's grown! Nice, nice young man!

Me with my daughter Laura. She is currently in school working towards a CRNA - Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Zachary says she is an over-achiever because she studies so much! I delivered a quilt to Laura and her wife Cheryl (who had to work the day we visited).

Their colors are blue and brown and Cheryl loves birds.

A close-up of the quilting. I think they liked it.

Zachary will be 16 in January. I'm so proud of him!

After a wonderful visit with my two older children and their families, Bill and I went to Lancaster County to meet up with an old friend. I haven't seen Sally since High School, but we have become friends again via Facebook. Sally is a beautiful quilter - and a beautiful person. Life hasn't always been kind to Sally - but she has an amazing, gentle strength and sunny, upbeat attitude. She also has a really neat hubby and Bill & I enjoyed our visit with them.

Then it was off to Silver Springs, Maryland where we visited with daughter Pamela, her husband Orlando and their three sons Gabriel, Sebastian and Leandro. Gabriel is on the right - baseball practice with his buddies.

He had to reach - but he caught it!

I delivered another quilt. My grandson Sebastian seemed to like it. Our visit was short - but it's always comfortable at their home. I loved that Pamela arranged for me to have special time with Sebastian and Gabriel. The day we left Gabriel was throwing-up but I think we escaped before catching anything!

Our last stop was in Fort Mill, South Carolina where my youngest son, John has recently moved to be closer to his girlfriend Megan and her two sons, Riley and Andrew.

This is Riley. He just turned six. Too cute!

Me surrounded by John and his new family on the steps of Megan's home. John's townhouse (where Bill & I stayed) is just steps away. Andrew, who just turned 11 is on my left. I absolutely loved seeing John interact with the boys and I think he's finally found the right girl for him. Megan is fabulous! (The weather was finally getting warmer)

Andrew likes his computer games, so we spent more time with Riley. He and I were working on a special picture.

They have a playground close by.

Hamming it up for the camera.

We all visited the Carolina Raptor Center in Charlotte, SC where they rehabilitate injured hawks and owls. The ones that cannot be released back into the wild live at the center. They have an excellent education program and we had a nice walk through the woods.

By this time we'd been on the road for 17 days and driven 3,400 miles through 13 states. We were ready to be home!!! Temps have been in the 80s every day and the long pants are again packed away. The pool is beautiful and we're enjoying the Bluebirds, Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Warblers and Hawks. Life is especially good!