Been A Slow Coupla Weeks

So I figured I oughta give ya a report from plague central here in SW FL.

Connie was…emphasis on was…getting to be feeling better after her surgery last month and by Friday Feb 24 she was feeling pretty good so they headed out to Date Night…it being Lent and her not really being up to long car rides yet they went up the road to the Tamiami Tavern arriving just a few minutes before they opened…which is necessary if you want to get a seat at the bar. We had a nice evening, ate some seafood, and all was well.

Saturday she had a rehearsal for her upcoming UK choral trip and wasn’t cleared to drive yet so he took her down to rehearsal, met the director who’s leading the tour he’s being the groupie for, and sat in the back while the singers did their thing then they headed home…she was still tiring pretty easily so that was it for the day.

Sunday after Mass/choir they went to Sarasota for the symphony concert…then stopped by Longhorn’s on the way home for dinner and again she was pretty tired by the time we got home…but that’s not really surprising since it was less than 2 weeks post surgery.

Monday they both had appointments with our primary care doctor…and since space was at a premium they put us both in the same room and essentially made it a double…his was just the annual thing and hers was the post surgery followup…all was well on both of those. Tuesday she saw her surgeon and he released her for full activities.

And that’s when the fun started. Tuesday afternoon he started feeling lousy…tired, achey, and maybe just a touch of fever…and looking back afterwards his symptoms really started a bit Monday evening. By the evening she administered one of our home Covid tests and he was positive…so 5 days in Covid jail at home for him followed by 5 days of out with the mask. They really tried hard to keep her from getting it from him…no touching, lot of hand washing…and thought they had dodged the bullet even though she started having ear pain in her bad eustachian tubes Wednesday or Thursday…but by Friday she had symptoms as well and another test revealed that their eradication efforts for her had failed. The good news is that since they were both positive all of the excessive precautions weren’t necessary anymore.

As of this morning (Monday) he’s feeling pretty much better…still some lingering coughing and sinus drips going on and somewhat tired but not exhausted like last week…and she appears to be 2-3 days behind him so she’s still feeling pretty lousy. As a result…she skipped choir yesterday (he was still in Covid jail so was gonna skip anyway) and just did the TV mass instead. She’ll do her Mastersingers rehearsal this evening via Zoom and they’re mostly going to stay home until they feel better. It’s still undetermined whether she’s got an ear infection as well or if that’s just part of her Covid symptoms although it’s not generally one of them but with her eustachian tube issues maybe the blockage of them by the congestion is causing the pain…he’ll take her to the urgent care clinic if she wants but she hasn’t decided to go yet.

In other news…after about 50 years of being eligible…Neil finally got summoned for jury duty today…he’s due to report April 3 for 1 day or 1 trial whichever takes longer…I’ll make sure he takes notes to blog about later.

Other than that …not much is new here. The pond out back continues to get lower as we are in the dry season…it’s probably 2.5 to 3 feet lower than it was after the rainy season and storm seasons were over.


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I Finally Got Him To Do His Job

…that would be processing the photos from their visit to the Venice Rookery back on Feb 2…but in his defense he has been sorta busy with Connie’s surgery prey, surgery, ER visit, hospitalizations, and assorted goings on ‘bout all of that so I’ll cut him a break.

Speaking of Connie…she’s continuing to improve…albeit not as fast as she would like it. She’s still sore some and taking her antibiotics and Tylenol for the soreness and she’s getting tired of hurting. From the outside though…Neil can easily see the day to day improvement…so this is good. She’s got follow up appointments with both her primary care doctor and surgeon early next week so should be released to drive and full activity to do as much as she’s comfortable with then…and full recovery expected in another 3-4 weeks back to normal. That’s good because Neil needs to make the plane reservations for their trip to the UK in the summer…I haven’t talked much about that yet because he was waiting until we are sure that the surgery had no complications and recovery was progressing nicely…but he needs to get the tickets by the first week in March to make the tour people happy.

As sort of an adjunct to her work in the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers…she’s signed up with a tour to London headed up by the fellow who used to direct the Mastersingers. They’ll sing 2 concerts in London including one with John Rutter in Bath Abbe who’s a big deal in the international chorus world and a second one in St. Pauls in London. The tour along with rehearsals and some touristy stuff takes about 10 days and then they’ll spend another almost 2 weeks touring up in the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales districts…if you’ve watched the BBC series “All Creatures Great and Small” it’s set in and filmed in those areas with all the cool stone arch bridges and narrow roads. Both are among the most popular of UK vacation destinations and while we’l see some wildlife there it’s mostly landscapes, buildings and the like…but Neil’s good with that from a photo standpoint. They had originally talked about doing Scotland in addition and then about doing Wales in addition instead of Scotland…Connie especially wanted the two districts and either Scotland or Wales would have extended the trip longer than they wanted for their first international trip in awhile and also turned it more into a vacation speed thing…so instead they’re spending 4 or 5 days in each district to do things more leisurely and then a couple days in Oxford to see some of the sights there.

They did have Date Nite on Tuesday after choir practice…she was amazed that after the hour singing she actually felt better than when she started so they went to Applebee’s down the road…they’ve got a nice outside bar and the food there is actually pretty good. Our bartender was terrible though…surly and screwed up both cocktail and wine orders so her tip properly reflected her performance. They had sat at a high top with a waitress the last time and she was excellent…and had not seen this bartender before so hopefully it’s just her and not a trend.

Ok…on to our photo trip early in the month…but before that a little sad news to report.

As you know…we’ve been following the eagles locally at their nest for years…first with Ozzie and his mate Harriet and then after Ozzie was killed her mating with M15 and raising several subsequent sets of eaglets. As of today…their current brood of 2 is about 50 days old, but Harriet flew off 2 weeks ago today hunting and has not returned to the nest. She hasn’t been seen and no reports of finding her body have been made…but a mother eagle being gone for that long means she’s not returning. She was at least 25 years old and either had an accident or medical issue or fight that killed her it looks like. M15 is doing so far a great job of still providing for his offspring…he’s been joined by another eagle number R23-3 for rogue eagle, third one of 2023. It is not sexually mature yet and since M15 has accepted it to his nest site the eagle folk believe it’s one of his earlier female offspring. At this point…it’s stealing food that M15 brings to the nest and he is allowing it although the eaglets are now big enough that they’re taking pieces of the food from her despite warnings not to do so from her. She’s not old enough to mate and it is likely that M15 will re-mate once this nesting season is over…but whether he and his new mate continue to use this nest is unknown…but if not it is likely that another eagle pair will take possession of the nest next fall. Here’s a screen shot of the eaglets and M15 Neil got yesterday…as you can see they’re almost as big as he is and should fledge in the next month or so. It seems really strange that M15 hasn’t driven R23-3 off…but maybe he’s too busy getting enough food to the nest for himself and the two eaglets so is prioritizing that over defending the nest…or maybe she is helping keep predators and other eagles from the nest as well.

No one has reported any sign of Harriet…so the likelihood of her passing is getting pretty close to 100% at the point…but it is strange that no trace of her has been found…but since eagles can hunt up to a dozen miles or more from the nest that’s a pretty big area to look in and a lot of it is pastureland or otherwise undeveloped. She could have had an accident that rendered her unable to fly but if so she’s likely close to starving to death at this point…but there’s zero information on what might have happened. Eagles mate for life and she is a mother…so obviously something catastrophic happened to keep her from the nest…and so far M15 seems to be defying the odds in successfully raising the eaglets alone…luckily they were old enough when she disappeared that he could safely leave them unattended while he hunts and then again perhaps R23-3 is helping keep them safe as well. I will let you know if any further info on her comes up.


They got up early on Feb 2 and headed for the Venice Rookery. This is strangely enough located pretty much in the middle of downtown Venice…it’s a pond with an island in the middle so the nesting areas are safe from predators…we’ve always been amazed both at how many birds nest there as well as that they would nest in such a crowded urban location. The goal is to get there right at sunrise…which they accomplished…then Neil put the bird lens on the tripod and did his thing while Connie walked around the pond taking shots both of the general environmental sort and some closeups as they presented themselves.

Great Blue Heron with an Anhinga in the background and a Great Egret barely visible on the other side of the island…the pond is. About 300 yards across and the island maybe 30 or 40 yards in diameter.

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Great Blue and Great Egret disagreeing over landing rights.

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Great Egret in breeding plumage…they’re really a white bird but at that hour with the sun just barely over the horizon they end up looking more orange due to the light.

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Great Blue Heron family and chicks…mom and dad are having a little PDA here.

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Dang those chicks are ugly at this age.

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Great Egret coming in for a landing.

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Green Heron.This first one was down in the water fishing and Connie got a better picture than he did…he was too close to the bird and looking right down on it with too much lens installed while she was a little over on the side for a better angle.

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This is actually the same individual but he flew over their heads and was up in the sun. The shot above she had the sun at her back and the bird flew about 20 feet towards them an over their heads and about 20 feet to the right based on the picture above. This is a nice illustration of what us photographers call Golden Hour because of the character of the light.

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Male Anhinga.

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Black Crowned Night Heron…again in mating plumage which for him is just the couple of white feathers extending backward behind his head. He flew around a bit and Neil got a couple of shots before he landed.

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Incoming Great Egret.

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And he landed with some unhappiness by the Anhinga in the background.

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Another Great Blue brining in some nesting material.

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Meanwhile…Connie was on her walkabout and came back to show Neil this Red Winged Blackbird she had snapped…while he really liked it he did ask her to find him one with a better looking perch than a chain link fence.

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She also got this Mockingbird.

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And some very strange looking birdhouses ‘round the far side of the pond.

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I told you the island was crowded…this is probably about 10% of the total island mass and the entire thing is this full of birds.

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Then the Black Crowned took off on another circle around the pond but landed on the other side afterwards.

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Great Egret breeding plumage again…but different individual.

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Male Anhinga bringing in some nesting material for his mate.

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Really excellent flight shot Connie got of one of the Great Egrets…caught the pose just perfectly for feather and wing detail.

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Black Bellied Whistling Ducks…Connie caught this flock of them as they went by.

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She was kinda smug when he brought him this second Red Winged Blackbird…said how is this for a better perch? He agreed that it was quite excellent.

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And finally…another male Anhinga drying his wings out after fishing…we saw a bunch of males but no females, guess they were all brooding eggs or babies I guess, and none were on the side of the island towards us.

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By this time they were getting a bit tired from standing…gotta bring beach chairs next time I guess…so they headed home.

Interesting things found on the net.






This kid understands politicians very well at an early age.





And finally…words of wisdom from Confucius.



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It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Yeah…I know that Yogi said it first…but it works here so Ima borrowing the phrase from him.

After our almost 12 hour overnight stretch in the ER Connie was admitted again and made it to a room shortly before Neil got to the hospital to visit about 0900 or so on Friday…and the surgeon decided to keep her at least overnight for some IV antibiotics…they put her on a broad spectrum one to kill whatever bugs were in her system.

Saturday morning her white blood cell count was back down to normal, no fever, and the surgeon stopped by about 0900…he told her that he was going to discharge her with oral antibiotics. They finally made it out of the hospital a bit after 1400…the hospitalist said that he and only he could discharge her and the surgeon didn’t have anything to do with that step…sort of a who’s is bigger pissing contest between the doctors I guess…but I digress. 

Just after we left the hospital we got the notification from Walgreens that her oral antibiotics…Augmentin which doesn’t tear up her stomach nearly as much as some of the others…was ready so we picked that up along with both of their cholesterol drug refills on the way home…and she’s happy to be resting in her recliner…again.

Hopefully it will stick this time…but with 10 days of antibiotics that should make sure that whatever it was is gone. She’s already got her post op appointment setup with the surgeon and her PCM wanted to have an appointment with them as well…Neil’s already got his annual scheduled and since Connie can’t drive yet they scheduled hers at the same time as his so only one trip over there will be needed that day.

Still havne’t gotten him to do the images for me…but in his defense he has been sorta busy…so I’ll cut him some slack I reckon.


Posted in Homebody, Medical | 5 Comments

And I spoke too soon…

And I spoke too soon…

Well, not about the surgical success…that is still valid. 

But after getting home from the hospital about 1900 Wednesday night…Connie’s fever spiked to 101.6 in the late afternoon Thursday and per instructions from the surgeon we called them for direction. They said to go to the ER. So Neil finished cooking the potatoes he was going to mash for dinner and put them in the fridge along with the steak and we got to the ER about 1700. Got taken back to the Overflow in the hall seating/treatment area about 1030 and they had ordered a CAT scan. She had some blood work done before that and her white cell count was 15. Normal is max 10 and it was 12 before she was released and 15 a day later…that means some sort of infection. She had to drink another 28 ounces of contrast and wait 2 hours for the scan…which happened about 0130. The scan showed nothing abnormal and the Anastomosis which is the place where they sew/staple/glue your colon back to the discharge orifice after they remove the broke piece wasn’t leaking. Still though…the surgeon said that bowel surgery is…messy is the word he used…even with the prep the inside still has bacteria and some of that leads out during the surgery…so obviously she had a post op infection. The ER doc said it was minor as did the radiologist and the surgeon had her admitted and started on IV antibiotics. At that point…it was about 0300 and they told her that she likely would stay in the holding room in the ER until the morning shift came in to move her to a room…so Neil headed home and slept in the recliner dressed for about 2.75 hours before getting up, getting the house ready for today’s maid service cleaning, and headed back to the hospital. She dozed a bit in the ER and was moved to the room by the time he got there. 

But both of them were pretty toasted…took a nap in the afternoon and he came home about 1545, cooked the previously thawed steak and had part of it and some of the mashed taters for dinner. I think both of of them will have an early night of it…he’ll be up at 0600 or so for Bike Day and then head off to be with her again.


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Surgical Success

Just a quick update…as I noted in my last post Connie needed surgery to remove a bad portion of her colon that causes her repeated bouts of diverticulitis. So after spending the weekend doing the bowel prep for it…a feat that makes the colonoscopy prep look tame…we arrived at the hospital at 0500 Monday morning for her 0700 surgery. She got checked in, pre-op’ed, and got some happy juice via her IV and headed for the OR with Neil adjourning to the waiting room. She was out of the OR about 1100 and in the “wake them up” room (it’s got some cool medical name but he never got told what it was) and then she was moved once she was awake (well, she actually might have appeared to be awake but that was just a trick) they moved her into the PACU or Post Anesthesia Care Unit. After she was in there a couple of hours they brought Neil back about 1300…he had gotten a call from the surgeon about 1100 with details of the successful and pretty much normal surgery results. After an hour or so in there…they needed the PACU spot for another patient but her room wasn’t ready yet so they moved her (thanks Kevin) over to the pre-op section again. While in there she got a dose of oxycontin to go along with her IV Tylenol and that was the only narcotics she had. Another hour or so later they moved her (thanks again Kevin) up to her room and Neil stayed with her until about 1800…by that time they were both falling asleep so she did so and he went home and did so.

Tuesday he went down, walked with her through the day, and came home about 1900 or so.

Wednesday they had her back on real food again…and finally about 1600 she accomplished her last remaining goal before she could be released…the repaired bowel needs to produce output as they say before you can leave. That milestone reached…they figured that she would probably get released Thursday AM…until about 1800 when the nurse with the surgeon on the phone with her said she could go home tonight…she said SOLD!!…and 90 minutes later we were on the road home.

So…60 hours after major surgery she’s up and about and actually feeling pretty well. They gave her a scrip for oxycontin if she needs it but she’s been taking just Tylenol so it’s unlikely she’ll take any of it. Best of all…she’s home and has her recliner and her bed and is back to eating our normal food with a few restrictions until she sees the surgeon again in a week or so.

Neil’s got a bunch of cool medical stuff he learned about the procedure she had and surgery and anesthesia over the past couple of days…but he’s too tired to tell me ‘bout ‘em right now and being a bear Ima not a mind reader so that part will have to wait.

He does have the first cut done on the 800 images they shot a week and a half ago up at the Venice Rookery…deleted about half of them as being bad shots (pretty normal), and of the remaining 350 or so he picked the 100 or so blog candidates. He need to go through them again and whittle them down to 15 or 20 before doing the post processing for the blog…but between all the surgery prep and hospital visiting time just hasn’t gotten it done yet. But there’s hope now that she’s home and I’ll keep after him to finish up so I can put ‘em up for ya.

So…no pictures tonight…but just a couple of…you guessed it.

Interesting things found on the net.

You’ve probably heard about these large cats called Black Panthers…but they’re actually just regular cats (leopards, jaguars mostly) that happen to be black…but if you get real close you can still see the spots in them. Here’s a shot that looks like a leopard and it’s shadow…but in actuality it’s just a female leopard and her black panther (which is really just a leopard in disguise) mate.


Ima just wondering’…how do you sample this?


And in celebration of Groundhog Day a week or so back…






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Been A Sorta Slow Week

Yep…not much really happening ‘round here but I’ll go with what I got I ‘spose.

We found out just before my last post…but it was under blog embargo until she wrapped her head around it a bit more and we told the human kids…turns out that Connie needs some surgery which is scheduled for next month. She’s had diverticulitis off and on for 30something years and it’s almost always been on the left side…typically a bout every couple of years the past 5 or 6 years but had one in August when she was in the hospital a couple of days and then again late in the year. And her gastroenterologist retired so she transferred and registered as a patient with the gastro doc in the practice that’s the primary care physician for both of us…and after reviewing her records and having a first appointment with him…he wanted her to get a surgical consult since she had 2 bouts in the past few months. And the surgeon said that the standard of treatment is after 3 bouts of it they do a colon resection and take out the part that’s got the diverticuli in it…diverticulitis are little pockets in the intestine, diverticulosis is the advance of those so that they’re deeper/more likely to be a bother and then diverticulitis is when they get infected.

Anyways…after some thinking about it and doing a bunch of medical research she’s decided to go ahead with the surgery as an elective rather than waiting until it is an emergency…that’s because as an elective it’s done laparoscopically with a couple of tiny incisions via robotic surgery and if it becomes an emergency they can’t do that since at that point the abdomen needs flushing out to get rid of the infection that escapes…which means that they gut you like a fish to make that happen. So…it’s still surgery but less cutting, less bleeding, and less chance of any complications…which is a good thing. She’s going in mid next month…waiting a week after the first available opening so she can do her Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers concert beforehand…they’re doing the Vivaldi Gloria which is one of her favorites and she doesn’t to miss it. They tell her she’ll likely be in the hospital just 2 nights, then be sore and a bit limited for about 2 weeks and completely recovered after 6 weeks…at which point no more diverticulitis which she’ll definitely be happy about. 

She also had her first practice with the new choir director at church…the new pastor (well, he’s been the pastor for about a year and was the administrator for a year before that so sorta new I guess)…anyways the day after New Years he summarily fired the choir director and then watched her as she packed her stuff for security purposes…she had been the director since the parish founding and that seems like a lousy way to treat a long time employee…but he’s the boss so he gets to do whatever he wants. It pissed off a lot of the choir members and somewhere between half and most of the better ones then summarily left for other parishes due to the lack of consideration given the old director and the complete lack of information about any of it given to the choir either before or afterwards. The new guy…migrated from NYC…apparently has these grandiose ideas to have a normal choir, an audition only choir, and a children’s choir…despite the fact that there are few to no children in the parish and it’s a bunch of older folks to boot.

Neil went to the first rehearsal Tuesday to see how many of the choir members actually showed up…17 or so out of the 30ish full time members and 50ish when all the seasonal members were here…and it’s now the season so that’s about all they’re going to get. Connie actually likes the type of music he wants to have (and that the pastor obviously wants) better since it’s traditional Catholic music and less of the more modern kum-ba-yah church music that’s been mostly in vogue the past few decades. The first 2 weeks without the choir it was a lot of the hymns we used to sing back in the 60s and early 70s…and she likes that a lot. He also is a lot less uptight and regimented than she thought he would be which is good…and from Neil’s perspective sitting in the back of the church he’s much more hands on this is rehearsal so leave your socializing elsewhere for the next hour than the old one was…which again she likes as it makes the rehearsal much more efficient. And it looks like there are 6 or 7 cantors instead of the 3-4 they had before (although some are seasonal so it might be worse once they all leave in a couple of months)…which makes the scheduling less concentrated due to the larger numbers.

And yesterday…the file server and main photo processing computer puked its guts up…Neil was doing an update to the latest version of the OS and something went amiss with it. He spent an hour or so on the phone with Apple trying various sorts of fixes that did not include a nuke and pave install because that’s harder…none of them worked so he erased the drive and reinstalled the OS…which means he needs to reinstall all the apps and data and such. Luckily…he’s got cloned drives and backups and macOS has an automated routine to restore all of that…it’s currently wrangling through the restoration process and things will be better in a day or so…mostly because the restore software has to sort through all the various versions of files that have been saved in the backups and there were about 4 million of them to sort through…and the backup drive is the spinning rust type rather than the solid state SSD type that are now prevalent…he’s going to get an SSD and switch at least some of the backups to it as a result of this issue. No worries though…he’s got the photo app stuff on his laptop and the images for today were done there…he’ll just export the catalog and import it into the main one later once the restoration is done.

That’s about it…but I do have a few photos for you he got out back this week…it’s mating season for the birds here in Florida so they’re all dressed in their “choose me for mating” breeding plumage finery and that’s a good thing. And our local eagle pair Harriet and M15 have hatched a pair of li’l eaglets…you can check them out at Fort Myers Eaglecam…the eaglets are about 3 weeks old so they’re already 3-4 times their size at hatching. 

Snowy Egret…taken early in the morning and looking to the east across the pond so the breeding plumage is highlighted…really nice.

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Great Egret…different morning and about the same place across the pond, it was a little later so not quite as much highlighting as Mr. Snowy above.

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Double Crested Cormorant…they don’t get much breeding plumage but the orange color up near the head is accentuated in the mating season and the eyes seem to always be greener this time of year as well.

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Here’s a really, really cropped version so you can see the orange and greener eyes a bit better…sorry ‘bout the lower image quality but this is about a 10x or 15x zoom in from the full frame and even starting with 45 megapixels out of the camera you just get fewer of them cropped in this much.

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Interesting things found on the net.

Before I get into the images…lemme tellya a li’l story.

We’ve all heard…well, at least everybody Neil and Connie’s age has but I imagine that even youngins have probably heard of him too (at least the human kids up in Midlothian have so that means probably most everybody has as well)…of a cartoon character named Popeye the Sailor-man. He always has a pipe in his mount, has big arms, eats spinach before bopping opponents in a fight, and has a girlfriend named Olive Oyl.

And like most people…Neil and Connie figgered that Popeye and his cohorts on the cartoon were just figments of some cartoonist’s imagination (it started as a comic in the paper) before transitioning to the Saturday morning cartoons on TV. And that’s partially true I guess…but as Paul Harvey used to say…here’s the rest of the story.

There was this fellow named Frank “Rocky” Flegel who was born in Poland in 1968 and immigrated to a small town named Chester IL with his parents. He finished school and joined the Merchant Marine sailing ships around the globe for 20 years before retiring and returning to Chester…where a local bar named Wiebusch’s Tavern hired him as a bouncer…which means that he tossed out drunk patrons…a job he was well qualified for after 20 years or brawling as a sailor. Rocky quickly gained a reputation as not a man to be trifled with on the job and although he won the fight most of the time he suffered an eye injury which caused one of his eyes to be sort of popped out a bit. Always had his pipe in the side of his mount and talked out of the other side…and in his spare time he would regale the patrons with his tales of life on the Seven Seas…this term is a figurative description of all the known seas from ancient times…North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Southern (or Antarctica) seas or oceans. Or alternatively…back in the 9th century the Arabs and their near neighbors had a different seven seas…all located in or around the Indian Ocean since that was where they sailed…but I digress so lemme get back to the story. 

Turns out that a young man named Elzie Crisler Segar in Chester had listened to Rocky’s tales for years as he grew up…apparently there wasn’t a nobody under 21 in the bar back then…and then the young man grew up and became an aspiring cartoonist…and decided to do a cartoon about a sailor. The only sailor he knew was Rocky…so he asked Rocky if he could name his main character after him and use his likeness…Rocky was flattered and agreed. Then when the sailor needed a wife…Elzie asked Dora Paskel who was the owner of the town grocery store…if he could model the sailor’s wife on her and the way she dressed and spoke…again she was agreeable. 

So…as it turns out…Popeye the Sailor-man and his girlfriend Olive Oyl were essentially real people. Here’s a picture of Rocky from back in the day…an amazing resemblance to the character from the cartoon as anybody who’s seen one of them will agree. Elzie kept in touch with Rocky over the years and gave him a small percentage of his earnings from the strip. 

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Looks just like the cartoon character…don’t he? And Connie sez that the picture of Rocky above looks just like her Uncle George.

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Rocky died in 1947 at the age of 79 and is buried in Chester…


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And now you know…the rest of the story. Go ahead and sing along with the below…you know you wanna…

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man

I’m strong to the finich

Cause I eats me spinach

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man


I’m one tough Gazookus

Which hates all Palookas

Wot ain’t on the up and square

I biffs ’em and buffs ‘em

And always out roughs ‘em

But none of ’em gets nowhere






This one seems especially true with all the old people driving around down here. As Neil says…old is a state of mind and has nothing to do with the milage on your body…and some people are just old despite being 20. When he goes out bike riding…once he gets out of the neighborhood it’s a bit more than a half mile to where the paved bike path starts so he has to ride down the shoulder. He deliberately rides opposing the traffic instead of with the traffic because that way he can keep an eye on them and bail out to the grass if they’re not paying attention while they’re texting and driving…and a good thing he does. He bailed 4 times all last year but this year he’s had to avoid morons turning into him 4 times already and it’s not even the end of January. Nobody looks before they turn…and for all 4 of them he was past the ride on the shoulder portion of the ride and was on the paved bike path separated from the road. He keeps his head on a swivel at every street crossing, driveway, and any place that cars can possibly be because…in a car/bike incident the bike and rider always come out on the worse end. And sho’ nuff…4 times this month already. Morons…well, he uses a stronger word but I try…mostly…to keep this blog kid and work friendly.


This one requires thought…



Posted in Blast From The Past, Critters, Homebody, Photography, WIldlife | Leave a comment

People Are Well…Just Plain Stupid A Lot

Yep…some days these posts just write them selves.

‘Afore I get into that…lessee what’s been goin’ on.

We haven’t really done much…Neil took both cars (one at a time obviously) down to the Mazda place for oil/brakes for Li’l Red and oil only for Sporty Red…it was time. Once they were done he had to reset the time and mileage counters in both cars for the next maintenance to what Mazda says is the correct interval…the dealer always sets it for less time and far less mileage than the maintenance specs call for…that way they make more money I guess.

Connie had lunch with the outgoing choir director and most of the choir one day last week…the director was unceremoniously fired right after New Years…apparently the pastor wants to “take the music in another direction…and stay tuned” were his words at Mass. The new director is from NY and they’re having the first meeting between him and the choir members next week…we’re staying tuned but since the meeting is on Tuesday and it’s Date Nite…Neil is going to go with her and sit in the back to watch the fireworks and also because doing that will get Date Nite underway about at least a half hour faster since she won’t have to change clothes for Date Nite after getting home from practice…she’ll be ready already (except for the perfume, she doesn’t wear any to practice, choir, or her chorale things since some people are sensitive to the smell) and they’ll just head out from the church…that saves 10 minutes getting home and however long changing outfits takes.

A lot of their typical Date Nite haunts are still not open after hurricane Ina…so they tried this place north of us towards Punta Gorda again…it’s called the Tamiami Tavern and is about 10 miles north straight up US-41 with only 2 lights in between here and there and the speed limit is 65 most of the way so it’s a really easy spot to get to. Owned by a British fellow who also has a place in Fisherman’s Village in downtown Punta Gorda…it has a lot of the vibe that an English pub does. One thing they discovered…it opens at 1600 and ya better be there before 1600 or you won’t get a spot at the bar. The first time they went it was after choir practice and Connie changing for Date Nite so it was a bit after 1700 when they got there…with exactly one seat at the bar. Connie sat in it and Neil loitered near her…luckily there was a group of 5 or 6 that were just paying their tab before heading to a table for dinner and they were able to get a seat. Tuesday they got there about 1606 and the bar was already 3/4 full but they snagged seats and will be there even earlier for future visits. The food is really excellent…they’ve had Tuna Nachos which were the best nachos they have had in a long time…this time they both had Beef on Weck which is thinly sliced beef with horseradish and au jus for dipping along with sweet potato waffle fries with maple syrup…Weck is short for kummelweck roll which is kinda like a bagel except it’s not boiled before baking…relatively soft and has salt on the top. The sandwich is a western NY state thing. Connie originally ordered Tuna Tacos which are much like the nachos they had the first time…seared Ahi tuna with what one would call a tropical sauce I guess…but they had no tuna tacos that night…apparently there was a kitchen injury, one of the cooks got burned by a pot of potatoes and headed to the urgent care clinic but with short staff they limited the menu. The bartender that was there is there on Tuesdays and at the owner’s other place the rest of the week…best bartender we’ve had in many a drinking establishment. Working hard and quickly but all you had to tell him when you needed another drink or to order was “put us in the queue for when you get to us” and when he got to you in the queue you quickly got an order in and drink served. Food is a little slow arriving but not really unexpected as busy as they were…and you just take that into account when ordering.

OK…back to the stupidity…

We heard today that Alec Baldwin and the armorer on the film Rust will be charged with involuntary manslaughter out in New Mexico…him because he pulled the trigger and her because she failed to ensure the weapon wasn’t loaded on the set. Funny thing though…they’re each charged with 2 counts of the crime…that seems kinda strange to me since there is only one dead person as a result of the shooting. The stupid part is Baldwin’s lawyer issuing a statement saying

“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”

Nope…the gun was in his hands, has been verified to not have a malfunction by the crime lab (and presumably the FBI as well), so the only logical conclusion is that he pulled the trigger. Any idiot knows that one should assume…well, any idiot that understands firearms anyway…that every firearm is loaded unless you’ve have personally verified that it is not loaded…and that even if you know it is unloaded it should never, ever be pointed at anything you don’t intend to shoot. In this case…a movie set…realism probably demands that the second rule be disregarded but only after verifying, double verifying, and probably triple verifying that there’s no ammo in the weapon. That’s just plain common sense but obviously Mr. Baldwin doesn’t have much of that. 

The problem is that he’s a pretty progressive Democrat…and thus hates weapons…and thus probably never bothered to learn about or execute any safety precautions…he decided to duck responsibility for that and blame it on everybody and anybody else.  (Editor’s note…I see later in the article why there are two counts. The first is involuntary manslaughter which requires proving “underlying negligence” under New Mexico law, the second is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, and requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death. I’m more likely to think that the armorer will be acquitted than Baldwin since she was not in the area at the time of the shooting and thus other than being “in charge” as the armorer on the film she has less responsibility…but it could be that standard film industry safety precautions/policy/guidelines or governmental regulations required her presence anytime firearms were being utilized in which case she was negligent legally (probably…Ima a bear, not a lawyer).

Then there’s Representative Santos who…supposedly, according to an affidavit from a drag queen down in South America…participated in a drag queen cross dressing pageant down there she 15 years ago…and this is supposedly a good reason that he should not be in Congress. Now there are probably a bunch of actually good reasons that he should not be in Congress…like lying on your resume and all the other falsehoods he’s pronounced…but much like the former President, the current President, the current Vice President, and Representatives Schiff and Swalwell…all politicians lie and while I could quote the instances of each of the above with their lies (along with many others)…so obviously lying is not disqualifying from being in Congress. Pretty obvious it isn’t since the Constitution specifies the requirements for being in Congress and several SCOTUS decisions over the decades have concluded that states may not institute any other requirements. Now Congress can kick out members once they’re seated…but that become political and if they start with kicking Representative Santos out then there’s a whole bunch of them guilty of the exact same t things.

But really…the man claims to be gay…although we have no actual proof of that so perhaps not…but whether he’s gay or straight…being in a drag queen cross dressing pageant isn’t against the law…and it was 15 YEARS AGO…so who cares.

Out in NM…seems like a popular spot for stupidity today…there is a state representative candidate that’s been arrested. He…Solomon Pena…is a far right Republican who ran for the NM legislature in…you guessed it…a heavily Democratic district. Not surprisingly, he lost by 50ish points last November but afterwards he visited three county commissioners and one state legislator (all Democrats) to complain about the “massive voter fraud” that caused him not to be elected. As in most of the other voter fraud claim cases…he presented no evidence other than “I say so” for his claims…so those 4 people essentially ignored him. His response was to hire four people to go shoot up their houses. Well…he’s been arrested and can sit in jail with Mr. Baldwin I guess.

Meanwhile…back east in Atlanta…funny story about Georgians…apparently there are only two places in Georgia…because if you ask one of them where they’re from the only answers you will get are…Atlanta…and…right outside Atlanta.  But I digress…apparently the Atlanta Police are working on building a new Public Safety Training Center on 80 acres of currently wooded land and there’s a group called Defend the Forest Atlanta that is…naturally…against building this compound because it is…according to them anyway…going to be built in “one of the few remaining forests in the city”. Now having been to Atlanta numerous times…I don’t recall seeing any forests there…there are some wooded areas and green space and such but forests…I don’t think so. Anyway…the activists are entitled to their opinion…but so are the police, city council, and zoning/building permit people…and apparently all of those regulatory bodies have given approval.

Unfortunately…the woods were occupied by a bunch of homeless people who camp out there…and they were given numerous warnings to move out and go elsewhere so the clearing and construction could start. Naturally…some of the homeless folk and their political supporters ignored these warnings so the police sent in some officers to evict both groups. Protestors were arrested…a clear violation of their civil rights according to the protestors but not to the city government and courts…and one male in a tent started shooting at the officers, wounding a state trooper. Naturally…opening fire on the police resulted…as any idiot should understand…in the police shooting back and the armed gunman was killed. Whether the armed gunman was an actual homeless person or one of the activists depends on which article you read…I wasn’t able to find any definitive answer on that one.

Nonetheless…an Antifa related group named Scenes from the Atlanta Forest…who claim to be a subsidiary of the Defend the Forest Atlanta…a claim denied by the parent group who say that they’re a loosely organized group and disavow the Scenes from the Forest group…has issued a tweet calling for a “call for reciprocal violence against the police and their allies this Friday to honor the memory of our fallen comrade”. Given the term comrade in their statement, that lends credence to a protestor being shot and not a homeless person…and evokes memories of communism to me…but what do I know I guess. The Scenes group claims that the police are lying and preemptively opened fire on an unarmed peaceful protestor…and that they refuse to release any body cam footage. Don’t know about that…but Ima guessing that the wounded state trooper kinda disproves the unarmed peaceful part of their description. They also claim that the wounded trooper was hit by friendly fire during the unprovoked attack. 

Now I understand that the group might not like the police building more facilities, and that they want trees to remain trees…but shooting at the police or threatening them with violence seems to be…choosing poorly as the aged knight said in the Indiana Jones movie. For an illustration of how not to get shot…I refer you to this Chris Rock YouTube video from 2007…but be warned, before you click the play button on that link remember that (a) this is Chris Rock and (b) he’s pretty free with the F-bomb and other indelicate language…but it is a funny piece and his point is correct despite the profanity.

Our local congressman down here in Lee County…Representative Steube…well, he’s in the hospital as well…he fell off of his roof while home doing some maintenance. Apparently…he’s not very smart either as falling off your roof ought to be your number one priority while you’re up there doing whatever you climbed up there to do.

The Russian government today announced that victory for them in Ukraine was…inevitable was the word they used…because of their military and industrial might. Ima gonna take that one with a grain…well, many grains I guess…of salt as we’ve seen that their military might is…not so much is the word I would use and their industrial might isn’t much better. In fact…except for the fact that they have nuclear weapons Russia is right up there with Ethiopia or Singapore as far as waging war goes…their equipment is terrible, training almost non existent, and leadership either absent or clueless from what we see. The US and Russians provided security guarantees to Ukraine to persuade them to give up the nuclear weapons that Ukraine inherited with the Soviet Union collapsed…if Ukraine had properly told the US/Russia to get stuffed then it is unlikely that the current invasion would have happened, or the 2014 annexation of the Crimea.

Speaking of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell…both of them are on the record saying that their exclusion from their former committees is “political retribution”. Well…of course it is…while I don’t think much of Representative Taylor Green and the members that were nominated by the Republican minority in the last congress to the Jan 6 Committed are a little too much enamored with “stolen election” than actually having an unbiased investigation…their exclusion from committees and the appointment if virulently anti-Trump people to the Jan 6 committee was clearly political as well…and as Senator McConnell told Senator Reid when he abolished the 60 vote requirement for judges except for SCOTUS justices back in whatever it was…what goes around comes around, you won’t always be in the majority, and payback is a bitch. So…yes, of course it’s political retribution…and while I ain’t interested in debating whether it is or isn’t…if partisan political maneuvering by one party is just fine…then partisan political maneuvering by the other side is just as fine. Both sides seem to have the idea that whatever they want to do is just peachy keen…but if the other side does it back it represents an attack on democracy.

Last one…Jacquin Guzman…also known as El Chapo…he’s the Mexican drug cartel leader that broke out of jail twice and was extradited to the US afterwards, convicted, and given a life sentence at the SuperMax prison in Colorado. Anyways…at that prison you spend most of your time in isolation and get just an hour a day sorta outside…there’s a reason it’s called SuperMax ya know…and he’s apparently unhappy at his treatment there, and sent an email to the President of Mexico that he doesn’t ‘have adequate access to sunlight, visits, good food or medical care…although he’s got the same levels of those that every other criminal in the place has…and he wants the Mexican President to “bring him home to serve his sentence in Mexico”…the President says that he is “considering it”. The trouble is…the President of Mexico has zero ability to grant this wish…the US does have an agreement with Mexico that low level offenders can be repatriated both ways to serve their sentence in their home country…but the head of the cartel is probably not a low level offender…because he is in SuperMax. The agreement specifies what circumstances the repatriation can happen under…and his case does not fall into them…so the answer from our side is going to be…No. Just…No.

So…what is it with all this stupidity? I dunno, makes no sense to me.

Neil got a couple photos of a Snowy Egret with breeding plumage yesterday while he was grilling the chicken and onions/peppers for our taco dinner.

Ah…those golden slippers, one of Neil’s fave birds.

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He/she was fishing across the other side of the pond but kept flying back and forth between this area and right behind our lanai…I think beau it was late in the afternoon it preferred outside since there were fewer reflections but every time Neil went in our out to cook it flew across then back to our side as soon as he came back inside. He saw at least a half dozen attempts at grabbing dinner over 20 minutes or so but it was never successful that he saw.

A swing and a miss…you can see the water droplets from this failed strike.

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It then flew about a dozen feet ahead.

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And almost immediately struck again behind where it landed.

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Missed again.

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Flying to another spot…he got distracted by cooking and didn’t see any fishing attempts after this and then brought dinner inside to eat as he was done cooking. The tacos were…excellent…and he had the leftovers for lunch today while she was at a Ladies of Elks thing.

Interesting things found on the net.



Speaking of situational awareness…they saw another good proof of that the other night on Life Below Zero which chronicles the lives of a bunch of different people in Alaska…our favorite is Sue who runs a hunting/plane refueling camp at Kavik about 50 miles south of the Arctic Ocean. She said a bunch of years ago that she always went armed outside because you never know when a grizzly with a Sue tag would happen by. Anyway…Andy and his lady friend Denise live in Eagle over near the Canadian border on the Yukon River and they were out hunting for Denise’s first bear kill…she’s a new lady friend in the past 3 seasons or so. Anyways…they were stalking the black bear for her to shoot it for meat supply for the winter and as they approached it disappeared into the forest. They looked around and there was a different black bear about 200 yards from them…coming up from behind…they weren’t being stalked by the bear it just happened to be passing by…so she shot it and it rolled all the way down the hill to where their boat was beached…that makes getting the meat back to home a lot easier. Connie and Neil talked about situational awareness that night.





And finally…




Posted in Critters, Photography, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

Circle Bar B Preserve

I think this week we reached peak stupidity on the part of the educational system. Up at Hamline University in Minnesota…it’s a private liberal arts progressive institution of ‘higher learning’ (at least they claim to be such) that has a now former adjunct professor named Erika López Prater. She is a teacher of art history and her course for the just completed fall semester was on the history of religious paintings. In this course she and the class analyzed various…religious paintings…including a portrait of the prophet Mohammed, Buddha, and several others. It’s important to note that some…perhaps even the majority…of people of the Muslim faith consider visual images of their prophet blasphemous. Now Ima not Muslim…remember Ima a bear so I have no religious leanings at gall…but looking at Wikipedia and doing a quick google I can see that this isn’t a universally held belief by folks in that religion and it’s the more fundamentalist conservatives in the religion that believe this. Nonetheless…going back through history…there have been many paintings of the man done…and many of them are hanging in mosques…and likely most of them were done by painters of the faith itself.

A little background…as
seen in this article
…the professor is both a person of color and is seems to be of the faith herself since her hair is covered. Nonetheless…she realized that visual images of the man are controversial to some in the faith so in her syllabus she indicated that paintings of him would be analyzed and that anyone with concerns should contact herd. None did. When it came to the time in the class when the painting was to be displayed…she again emphasized the possible controversial attitudes about the piece and invited any class members to depart for that portion of the class…and I presume that their grade would not have been affected if they chose to do so. Again…none did. 

Then after the fact…one…count ‘em…one…student complained to the university that she had displayed this islamaphobic painting. The universities response…she was fired, they announced that she was undeniably islamaphobic, stated that “respect for Muslim students overrides academic freedom”, and that they condemn the hateful abuse on the students as a result of this controversy.

But…a slight problem with that interpretation. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) stated in a subsequent article that while it strongly discourages visual representations of the man…there is a clear difference between analyzing them for academic purposes and using them for offense or hatred…and that she should to have been disciplined. I also saw several other opinion pieces…all by Muslim authors…who stated that the man himself would have had no issue with the paintings and that he had suffered far worse Islamaphobia by his contemporaries than was evidenced by the painting.

As of this writing…she remains a former adjunct professor but I’m pretty sure that Hamline University is going to lose the lawsuit for wrongful termination she will likely file.

Nuts I tellya.

Anyways…after their night at the Holiday Inn Express in Lakeland they headed off early Friday morning to Circle Bar B Preserve arriving just after dawn and headed off on their morning’s photography exhibition.

Heading toward the trail…Neil got this shot of early morning dew on the vegetation.

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They spotted a Red Bellied Woodpecker…yeah, I know the major portion of red you can see is the top of his head…but an actual Red Headed Woodpecker looks like his whole head got dipped into a can of paint…the Red Bellied has the red top of his head but gets its name from the sorta reddish brown color on his breast. Like many other woodpecker species…it gathers food during the summer months and stores the acorns, nuts, or whatever in holes it’s poked into the bark of a convenient tree. Then sometimes…they move them from one place to another as seen in this sequence. It is pulling one out in the first shot, then the second and third show it flying about 4 feet to another tree before stashing it again in the last shot. Maybe it’s moving it from the pantry to the food prep area…that’s what Neil says anyway.

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Early in the walk they spotted this pair of Sandhill Cranes sorta hunkered down in the grass.

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Connie spotted a couple of something or other warblers…they generally call these things taunty birds as they just hide in the brush and taunt you by calling but are too well hidden to find.

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This one was actually on the same tree the Red Bellied Woodpecker was using before.

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They spotted a Red Shouldered Hawk…they think, it was pretty far out and they couldn’t decide for sure.

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This is what the path through the Preserve looks like.

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Great Blue Heron.

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Double Crested Cormorant…they probably took 3 dozen shots of this individual from about 10 feet away…but the only shot Neil thought worth posting was this one from Connie.

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The hawk flexing his wings…or maybe just having trouble keeping balanced on the little twig it was sitting on instead of the fatter branch just below it.

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This was one of a pair of Sandhill Cranes that flew right over their head.

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No real flowers seen that day so she shot some Spanish moss instead.

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And a Little Blue Heron…again her shot was better than his as he didn’t get one that wasn’t with a partially obscured head.

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They got a little closer to the Red Shouldered Hawk as they switched to another trail.

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Connie spotted this White Ibis in the tree.

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And this Moorhen just underneath it.

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Off the trail a bit they spotted this Harrier…it really blends into the trees for camouflage.

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Male Anhinga.

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This is the most people habituated wading bird we’ve ever seen…it’s a Great Egret that was (a) apparently eating insects off the plant or the plant itself instead of fishing…maybe it’s a vegan egret instead. It then walked right by them on the path close enough that they could have reached out and grabbed it if they wanted to. Really nice breeding plumage on this individual.

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 On the way back they saw the same pair of Sandhill Cranes in exactly the same location…so it is very likely that this is Mr. and Mrs. Crane sitting on the nest and brooding eggs. Once they hatch…the young are not known as cranelets…they’re called colts…and don’t ask me why, I dunno.

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With that their day was done…so they headed off to St. Petersburg for the final leg of their expedition on Saturday morning. After a wonderful dinner at a tavern Connie found…they were up early and headed down to Fort DeSoto State Park only to find it closed…they did get a couple shots of an Osprey and a nice sunrise over the bay but were otherwise disappointed so they headed home.

The good news is that once they got home there was some activity out back at the pond.

Snowy Egret with breeding plumage…this one was right behind our lanai.

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And a Wood Stork…we’ve seen plenty of these down here but this is the first one ever seen at our pond…and we saw it the next couple of days as well…and like all Wood Storks…it’s got a face only a mother could love. No feathers at all on its head. They’re pretty big birds as well…both it and the Sandhill are bigger than the Great Blue Heron which is normally the largest…well, tallest anyway…species we see.

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Interesting things found on the net.

More math nerdery…Gelfond’s constant named after…you guessed it…Aleksandr Gelfond…it is defined as e to the pi power…and like both of it’s progenitors (well, pi we’ve discussed here before and e is actually named Euler’s Number which is the base of natural logarithms (ln) as opposed to regular old logarithms which are based on the number 10 (log). I googled a bit and could find no actual use for  Gelfond’s constant beyond the definition.

297743 custer s last stan







And finally.



Posted in Critters, Photography, WIldlife, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

Black Point Wildlife Drive Fun Stuff©

As I teased in the last post with the 2022 wrap-up…the humans spent a couple days up in central FL last week getting themselves some nice photos of wildlife, landscapes, and flowers. Then then went on over to Circle Bar B Preserve the next day and the third day was an aborted trip ( there was a half marathon foot race we didn’t know about the closed the park until 0900 and by that time the nice golden hour light is gone to be replaced by much harsher and less pleasing mid day sun and most of the birds have vacated the feeding areas to roost by then anyway) to Fort DeSoto State Park. Neil had about 1,500 frames to sort through and he spent an hour the other day culling out the out of focus, clipped wings, what the heck was this frame of and other plain old bad shots and that got it down to just under 1,000 split between the two destinations. He spent another hour or so this morning working on the Black Point images and decided he had enough for a post and wasn’t interested in post processing the remaining 450ish from Circle Bar B so that will be another post.

Before getting into that though…a couple of stupidity examples from the news.

Down in the state of Alabama where Neil hails from…after the recent decision by the SCOTUS on abortion which reversed the erroneous constitutional right granted back in Roe v. Wade in the 70s and tossed the issue back to the legislative side of government…which is really where it should be anyway. Congress has had plenty of opportunity over the past 50 years to codify abortion legally with anywhere from none to a lot of restrictions…and there have been numerous instances when it could have passed …but b both parties were far more interested in keeping it as an election issue to raise money on than in actually coming to some sort of compromise that everybody could support even if neither side got all they wanted. With that congressional inaction…and the constitution saying that all other powers are reserved to the states…then naturally the various states are going to make their own laws on the issue and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that a conservative leaning state is going to have harsher requirements than a liberal leaning state. That’s all fine and dandy…and in Alabama the legislature passed and the governor signed a law making it illegal except for the health of the mother. The state has the right to pass that law and if the populace doesn’t like it then the people can elect different people that will repeal the law…and all of that is fine and dandy and the way things should work.

However…earlier in the week the state Attorney General put out a since walked back policy. For background…states with less restrictive abortion laws instituted interstate delivery of the two drugs that are used for about 54% of all abortions with delivery by mail after obtaining the proper drug prescription via either their doctor or a doctor that worked in the less restrictive state. Under federal law…this cross border prescribing of drugs is legal and the Postal Service issued (after being asked to do so by mail carriers) a ruling that delivery of those drugs was legal under both constitutional and legal precedence. In response to this…the state AG announced that he would prosecute any person who obtained abortion drugs via mail from another state…obviously he had not carefully thought that through since it was walked back to “only abortion providers” the next day. I guess his legal staff explained to him that he was gonna lose that court case or something.

Then there’s the recent discovery of classified documents in not one, not two, but three different locations used by the current President. The first of those was found 6 days before the midterms last November but I guess they carefully kept secret until after the election for political purposes…but then I’m somewhat of a cynic about politicians. The 2nd and 3rd were discovered this past week in both the President’s garage in a box in a storage area and in his library in the house in a locked cabinet. All of the documents were…according to the White House…returned to their proper custodians and that no further action was necessary.

Naturally…the supporters of the former President howled about how this was an egregious double standard and demanded a (now appointed after the 2nd and 3rd discoveries) special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute.

Let’s put the politics aside and talk about the realities of the situation…anybody with half a brain probably realizes that every President, Vice President, SecDef, and a whole bunch of other senior people work all the time with classified documents…and that they stick them in their briefcase and take them home over the weekend to read. Technically…this is against the regulations unless they have an appropriate storage space at their home…and the requirements for that space, any included safe, any required alarms or guards and several other requirements depend on the level of classification of the documents to be taken home. Now in both the President’s and former President’s cases…some of the information was classified at the Sensitive Compartmented Information (or SCI) level (according to the news at least…) and I’m pretty darned sure that neither Mar a Lago or the President’s home in Delaware is certified as a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) which is where you have to store those sorts of documents. So…technically it seems that both of them probably violated the law…but one must consider the circumstances in both cases. For instance…both have (again according to the media) denied they knew the documents were there…and for at least some of the documents in all cases they were packed in boxes in storage areas ever since they were packed when they left office and had their offices cleaned out. Thus…the claim of no knowledge seems at least somewhat reasonable. However…also in both cases some of the documents were locked in file cabinets or desk drawers in offices…and the claim of no knowledge there seems a lot more dubious. In addition…the former President claims that he declassified the documents anyway. Technically and legally…any President has this right as long as they are in office…and while there are administrative requirements that are supposed to be followed to remove the classification markings and log the declassification details…those are administrative and not legal requirements. The former President has said that all a President needs to do is think about it and they become declassified…which seems like a stretch but if he told an aide or sent an email or somehow notified the staff then technically he’s correct and the documents are declassified. So any sort of prosecution of either of them seems a bit dubious to me…especially as the prosecution has to prove *intent* beyond a reasonable doubt and they also have to prove beyond that same doubt that the President never said they were declassified…and even with no paper trail stating they were does a President’s statement that he said they were provide reasonable doubt? Dunno…but I personally think that the former President won’t be prosecuted over the classified document kerfuffle anyway because (a) it’s really hard to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, (b) finding an unbiased jury of his peers is nigh on impossible since pretty much every person in the US has already made up their mind one way or there other about the man, and (c) and this is the biggest reason…any prosecution would have to be approved by both the US Attorney General and the President (despite the frequent statements from both that the special prosecutor has total authority in this matter…anybody with even a fraction of a brain knows that the special prosecutor isn’t going to make that decision without the approval of his boss and his boss’s boss). In addition…the difficulty of proving the case beyond that sticky reasonable doubt threshold and the political damage of both filing the charges in the first place (it will be blasted by the other side as a political witch-hunt) and the even larger political consequences should they lose the case make the whole idea of prosecution over these classified documents unlikely. Either the former President or the current one could be charged over other things…financial crimes, influence peddling, seeking quid pro quo deals for themselves or their families, etc.

I really find it ironic in all of these cases which have a lot of similarities…the classified documents thing, the nepotism thing, the investigation of the President’s son Hunter and the former President’s family members…that each side claims that their people are victims being unfairly singled out while the other side’s are evil incarnate.

I find it disgusting that in all of these cases the media approach is that the former President and his party are obviously guilty of everything they’re accused of while the current President and his party are completely above board and their cases are “different”. Nah…if nepotism, classified document mishandling, and influence peddling (and we know that every politician does that) are bad for one side…they’re bad for the other side. And if the brouhaha on Jan 6 at the capital was an insurrection and not a protest that turned violent…then the occupation of entire city blocks and federally owned buildings in Portland and Minneapolis were also an insurrection and not a protest that turned violent. The rules should not change depending on what political party you’re a member of or what race, ethnic group, or whatever you’re part of.

Anyway…Black Point Wildlife Drive is up at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge adjacent to the Cape Kennedy launch installation…and one must always check the rocket launch schedule before scheduling your visit because the drive gets closed for launches just in case one of them falls out of the sky before it gets out over the ocean. You can see the Vehicle Assembly Building and several of the launch complexes from the drive…they’re between 5 and 9 miles away depending on where in the NWR you are. They did the drive and once they were done they had some extra time before they needed to leave for Lakeland (didn’t want to get there too much before check in time at their hotel) so they ended up going on another couple of roads along the beach and an area named Mosquito Lagoon for obvious reasons…they mostly kept the windows up on that part in the car to keep the bugs out.

Male Anhinga gathering some nesting material…Neil got the first shot of it in the air due to the 20 frames per second his Nikon Z9 shoots and Connie got the admittedly much better pose second shot with her 1/4 the price Nikon Z50. Despite the price differential and the megapixel in the sensor differential (45MP vs 20MP in the Z50)…for screen display purposes 20MP is really plenty…the larger sensor lets you crop more in post production to artificially zoom in past what the lens can do on it’s own without reducing the number of pixels on target that reduces the sharpness and detail but for a mostly full frame output 20MP is just fine. And Connie refuses to carry more than about 2 pounds of camera gear anyway so she’s quite happy with her consumer level Z50 and it’s pair of  kit zoom lenses.

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Breeding Little Blue Heron…you can tell by the red hued head…again this is one of Connie’s shots and it with the water droplets and ripples from the failed breakfast grab made it a better shot than any he got of the same bird.

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The first of the three…yes, three…different Belted Kingfishers they spotted during the drives…normally these are really skittish birds that rarely sit still for long so that getting (a) close enough for a good shot and (b) the bird not taking off before you achieved the closeness doesn’t happen much. However…they’re skittish about people, and not so much about cars. On the drives you basically use the car as a blind so the critters don’t think you’re a person and don’t take off. This one was shot about 20 feet away maybe and through the open window of Neil’s Mazda 3. The bird looked at him first and then turned its head for a nice profile.

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Connie’s shot of the same individual…it was on her side of the car and the two above he shot past her head. Again…for the same distance shot and about the same focal length of lens…despite the huge reduction in weight and dollars it’s just as good of a shot. The Z50 is an excellent walking around camera because of those things despite it being overall less fully featured.

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Tricolor Heron…this was actually the first critter they spotted right after sunrise.

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Grebe…Connie really likes these. We’re pretty sure this is a juvenile Pie Billed Grebe but the color doesn’t quite match what Peterson’s Birds of North America has so I dunno…but the Pie Billed is the closest match.

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At the midway point of the drive there’s an outhouse that we always stop by because ya only rent coffee ya know…and we always walk around a bit because Green Herons are common in that area but the first thing we found was this Snowy Egret fishing by one of the pond over flow areas. It never moved from that spot…the first one you can see the water drops from a failed strike and the second one it has a minnow from a follow up strike 30 seconds later or so.

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We got a couple of nice photos of a Great Blue Heron that took of from the water and landed in a nearby tree…Neil got the landing and Connie the approach.

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Connie got this flower while Neil was getting the Snowy above.

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And just before we left (or maybe a bit down the road, can’t remember exactly) we spotted the third Belted Kingfisher of the day…this one wasn’t as cooperative in staying around. Connie’s shot first then Neil’s

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Also near the mid point stop Neil spotted a different Snowy…this one in all it’s breeding plumage glory…one can see why their population got very small back in the days when they were killed by the 10s of thousands for the breeding plumage feathers for women’s hats.

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The rest of the Black Point Drive was pretty sparse of wildlife…but then the second part always is but since they had the aforementioned extra time they wandered down another couple of dirt roads.


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A couple of different Glossy Ibis.

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Reddish Egret with breeding plumage…well, actually the pink bill is about all that changes for it.

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Green Heron.

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Unknown moth or butterfly.

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Osprey…again Connie got luck and got the only decent shot…Neil was looking at the Reddish Egret when she spotted this one and while he took a couple frames all it was doing was sitting there with wings folded for him.

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Cattle Egret.

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Buzzards (actually Turkey Vultures) in a dead tree. Neil actually likes the high contrast black and white dead tree with dead animal eaters perched on it better.

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This is the road down the beach at the Mosquito Lagoon.

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Red Shouldered Hawk…again the car makes an excellent blind for wildlife as this one was maybe 15 feet away maximum. It was just sitting there but apparently wasn’t very confident in its perch as it kept flapping its wings to restore balance. It eventually flew off into the thicker wooded area.

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Semi-palmated Plover.

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And a nice shot of Florida’s most common critter I think.

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By this time it was getting on to mid/late morning and they had about 3 hours to Lakeland so they headed off via a stop for lunch at a pub Connie found…named the Crave and Copper in Auburndale FL. Neil had a Maple Pecan Porter which was the best beer he’s had in many, many months…Connie had an American ale named Blood Hound Ale and they split an order of cheese fries for lunch before continuing on to Lakeland for the evening. They were still full at dinner so after checking into the Holiday Inn Express they walked over to a place named Cheddars in the same parking lot and had a light dinner before chilling out for the evening in preparation for Circle Bar B the next day.

Interesting things found on the net.







And finally.



Posted in Critters, Photography, Reality Based Blogging, WIldlife, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

2022 Wrap-Up — Part II

Last tie we had covered up through April visits up in central Florida so today we’ll pick up there and go on.

Before that though…the humans left Wednesday morning for the first trip of 2023…they stayed overnight in Titusville before visiting Black Point Wildlife Drive over on Merritt Island again and then they went to Lakeland for the overnight. Friday morning it was Circle Bar B and the drive down to St. Petersburg for a planned Saturday morning visit to Fort DeSoto State Park.

They had a really great dinner out Friday evening…the Three Birds Tavern…Connie did her DLETC thing and got them a hightop outside bar reservation rather than sitting inside…it was semi-open but had roll down walls and gas space heaters to keep it warm as it was down in the low 60s by sunset when they arrived.

After a dinner of grilled peppers and some chicken wings they finished off with Bananas Foster Cheesecake…which was decent and they ate it all but it wasn’t what they envisioned. Their thought was that it would be cheesecake with Bananas Foster sauce but the bananas and foster were swirled in the batter before it was baked then topped with whipped cream. Really good though…just a bit more than they expected. They had a cocktail and wine and then with their dessert they got a couple of Amarula…that’s a cream liqueur similar to Baileys but with a bit of a citrus tang…the alcohol comes from the fermented and distilled fruit of the Amarula tree…it’s a South African product that they found quite tasty.

They were up early this morning and went down to Fort DeSoto…paid their $5.35 daily parking fee…drop up to the gate arriving just about sunrise at 0720…and found the gate closed with a cop car and flashing lights behind it. Park was closed until 0900 for a half marathon foot race…and he was most unsympathetic to Neil’s plea that the birds would be gone by then. They turned around and headed home but did take a few shots of an Osprey and the sunrise before leaving.

Home before lunchtime…a bacon sandwich and then a nap before Mass this afternoon. The choir director got unceremoniously fired the day after New Years and there’s been absolutely zero information coming out of the administration about choir, music, cantors, or anything related to the situation. The new choir director did the cantering himself this afternoon and the pastor introduced him with no words about the previous director and no actual information beyond…stay tuned.

Strange indeed…

Anyways…back to the 2022 wrap-up.

A few shots here and there of birds around the lanai…

Red Bellied Woodpecker.

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Blue Jay.

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Then a trip to Corkscrew.

Swallow-Tailed Kite.

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Better shot…you can see it’s swallow tail here.

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Roseate Spoonbill in really low water and a pretty huge gator.

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Barred Owl.

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Nice plant with excellent lighting by Connie.

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The Kite again with something to eat.

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In May…a trip to see the kids in VA and then stopped by Charleston SC for a couple of days. There are a couple of their fave eateries there and despite living there for 6+ years they had never been to Fort Sumter out in the harbor where the first shots in the Civil War were fired.

Dinner at High Cotton.

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And Fort Sumter with a boat ride the next day.

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We were on the first trip of the day so got to raise the flag on arrival.

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Connie and one of the fort’s artillery pieces.

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The fort as we departed…it was actually obsolete by the time the war started as its walls were not designed to withstand the rifled shot fired by late 1800s artillery…they surrendered after 30something hours. They’ve been in a lot of forts over the years and it was pretty small but was adequate to defend the harbor when it was designed and built.

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In May still…a trip to Indiana for a couple of things. First up was the Benjamin Harrison Presidential site with a tour of his house.



Then it was on to Connor Prairie…a historical park sort of place that was once the homestead of another of Neil’s ancestors…William Connor…4th great grand uncle according to Connie…he was the brother of Henry Connor who was the translator and negotiator for the Ojibwa (AKA Chipawa) Indian treaty. William had both an Indian wife who left and went back to live with her tribe and a non Indian wife after that.

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Looking out to the front of the homestead…the trees in the background are on the levee that now controls the flooding but this whole area flooded in the spring and boats could come right up to the bottom of the hill.


The back side of the house.


The front of the house that faces the river 2 pictures back.


Then it was over to Vincennes IN which was one of the places that Neil’s Cody Kidney Stone incident cancelled back our last year traveling in the RV. 

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And the George Rogers Clark memorial.

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After that they headed down and spent a couple days in Louisville KY…drinking bourbon at various distilleries of course.

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Their final stop of the trip was in Cumberland Falls KY to see…naturally…the waterfall there.

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By then…it was summer and just too hot to do much so we all just stayed home. In the fall we did get up to Daytona Beach for a Ladies of Elks thing…each incoming president of the state LoE chooses an icon for their year…this year the president chose a rocket. So…naturally while we were out celebrating at her President’s Reception…SpaceX helped out by launching a Falcon 9 headed north up the coast during the reception.

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A close in shot of the booster and second stage (far left) after they separated with the booster landing on one of their drone ships offshore. Sorry ‘bout the crappy noisy picture but it’s a ridiculously cropped iPhone shot instead of being taken with a camera with a telephoto lens. You can see the 2nd stage exhaust at the far left as it heads left towards or bit and to the right of that the booster starting to head back as well as the fairing halves that cover the payload until it is out of the atmosphere. Altitude here is about 70 or 75 miles, it’s about that many offshore as well, and speed about 5,000 mph at this point.

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Neil took a trip back to Black Point Drive one morning during the convention…it was only 30 miles away or so…

Little Blue Heron.

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Reddish Egret.

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Green Heron.

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Different individual Green Heron but you can see here how long its neck actually is, it just keeps it retracted most of the time.

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Then…one final trip was planned after the Daytona Beach stop…well, actually it was a continuation of that trip. They were supposed to go to Tuscaloosa AL for a Saint Saens Organ Symphony performance, then stop by NC to visit friends Bill and Linda, then the kids in VA, then Connie’s 50th High School Reunion before heading back home. Notice I said supposed to…what actually happened was they came home from Daytona and put up the storm shutters to protect against Hurricane Ian.

Ya can go read the gory details about the storm back in the entry from Sep 30 in the archive section on the right side of this blog…but basically we had a couple trees down, a couple of lanai screens blown in and that was about it. The generator kept the fridge cold and the freezer frozen for the 3 days we were out of power. It took until the week after Christmas to actually get the trees completely gone, trunks removed, sod planted, and the lanai screens replaced but we’re pretty much back to normal now.

And that’s it…a complete recap of our entire year.

Interesting things found on the net.







Posted in Blast From The Past, Critters, Food, Nature, Travel, WIldlife | Leave a comment