Tuesday, June 21, 2016

First Day of Summer and Alone, At Last ~ Monday 6/20/16

The title is a joke because, as much as I enjoy my own company, I always dread Greg's camping trips. The truth is that I enjoy being home alone during the day, but I love it when my family comes home to me in the afternoons and evenings.  So it's always a challenge when I realize that the days stretch ahead of me without them being here. However, this year it's only for 2 weeks and I'm planning on doing fun stuff on my own as well.  I have to admit, though, that at 9 a.m. it is quite lovely in my own backyard, with a cool breeze and birds to watch, so I'm in no hurry to go on any adventure anywhere anytime soon, lol.  It occurred to me that I didn't plan on seeing my oldest sons. Maybe I should contact them and see if they'll be around next week.  Go to Daytona to see Middle Son?  Hmm, maybe.

OK, I need to start making my to-do list again or I'm afraid that I won't accomplish anything. Did you notice that I'm not actually naming this post "Domestic Monday"?  I plan on doing chores but taking the whole week to get the house in order.  That way, I don't lose steam too fast.  I have to go back several days to copy and paste my last to-do list since those things didn't get done anyway.  BRB. Well, I hadn't done a to-do list in 13 days, it turns out!

  • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
  • Finish letter to my great aunt
  • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
  • Scan more old pictures
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew
  • Get new potted flowers for the patio
  • File paperwork
  • Enter some Coke codes into MCR
  • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
  • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns
  • Fertilize the raspberries
  • Trim weeds alongside berm edging
  • Add more mulch to berm
  • Research bird feeders at Ace Hardware. Done and purchased.
  • Download all May photos to my external drive
  • Replace roach traps
  • Inventory supplies for master bedroom painting project
  • Research extension cords for generator
  • Call eye doctor to make annual appointment
  • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
  • Find the cats' rabies licenses
  • Exercise! 
  • Vacuum living room and breezeway
  • Sweep the main stairs
  • Sweep and mop kitchen
  • Dust
  • Look into getting new connecting hose for the propane tank 
  • Study dSLR camera manual
  • Spray oven cleaner on the shower stall walls, scrub it all clean, and redo the grouting too
  • Do dishes. Did one load, still need to do another.
  • Put away laundry  Done
  • Read reply from insurer about son's prescription
  • Prep master bedroom with painter's tape
  • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
  • Refill self-watering bins. Done
  • Declutter breezeway cabinets
  • Declutter linen closet
  • Take donations to thrift store
  • Gather book donations for Friends of the Library and schedule a drop-off
  • Scrub toilets and bathroom sinks Upstairs done. The downstairs bathroom didn't need it.
  • Clean kitchen cabinets
  • Investigate new paint shade for cabinets
  • Move the hummingbird feeders so they're close to the patio. Done
  • Clean the fridge!
  • Scrub the 3rd hummingbird feeder and refill it
  • Harvest the garden Done
  • Harvest and dry old basil plants
  • Harvest lettuce?
  • Collect lettuce seeds
  • Empty out recycling bins by the shed
  • Take items to the dump
  • Inventory seeds for Fall plantings
  • Input all receipts in checkbook and other spreadsheets
  • Put coupons away

It is 10:15 a.m. and I'm still in my PJs on the patio. So much for an adventure, right?  Lol. Or Domestic Anything for that matter. It's so nice out. I should go on a bike ride.

I'm expecting a mysterious Fedex package today and I'm hoping that it's either my $100 Publix gift card or the Sodapalooza cup that I won in two separate giveaways!

Oh hey!  Greg, the Smooth Jazz Despiser, is gone... bring on the Smooth Jazz radio station for the next 2 weeks!  Woohoo!  I'm kidding, obviously I can listen to it whenever I want since he's usually at work during the day anyway, but you know what? Nothing says "Summer Vacation" to me more than listening to WLOQ so that's what I'm doing at 11:45 a.m.

7:12 p.m. finds me exhausted even though I haven't done any housework, pretty much!  I went on a field trip this afternoon, that I didn't think was very taxing, but that must have been more tiring than I thought.

Then tonight, at about 5:30 p.m, I decided to water my garden. I hand-watered all the potted plants and then refilled all the self-watering bins. I pulled weeds too.  By the time I sat down on the patio with a cup of water at 6:45 p.m., I felt like I would never get up again!  I was hoping to see the birds at the feeder but they didn't come. I spent 30 minutes on the patio just resting and re-hydrating myself.  There was a lovely breeze again (we were lucky with that, today!) so it felt very nice, like maybe in the high 70s although right now my weather app says it's still 81F at 7:16 p.m. It's going to get hotter the rest of this week too.

Greg texted me at about 6:15 p.m. to say that they had gotten to his daughter's safe and sound. I don't know if he'll call tonight because they have very poor reception up in the mountains where she lives.

It was very nice to have my "cook dinner!" alarm ring at 6:30 p.m. and ignore it!  That's my favorite part of Greg's trip, lol.

When I came back indoors, I was inspired to leave the windows open once again (I had opened them in the morning too) because of the breeze. I made sure that the entry room/cat room and the living room both had cross-ventilation so the cats and I aren't hot. It's quite lovely and doesn't feel humid today.

Plans for tonight?  Well, I guess work on this post (I need to insert all the pictures) while something is playing on TV.  I turned on "Snapped" just because they repeat themselves so much on that show that I can stop paying attention for 45 minutes and still know what's going on, lol.

My daughter called me at about 7:30 p.m.  She's not feeling well and is really tired.  I told her to take some ibuprofen, drink water, and get some sleep.  I think she might have overdone it this weekend with the hiking and today was a difficult day at camp since she's starting to learn Python and she said it was really complicated.  I hope she's OK.  She can only miss 2 or 3 days of camp total, if it comes to that.

  • Greg had a home-cooked breakfast this morning, prepared by yours truly, but our son got up later than he should have and Greg was getting itchy to get going so I suggested he uses a BOGO coupon for breakfast sandwiches at RaceTrac to feed the boy.  The Boy was glad to accept so they left only 4 minutes late :)

  • They were going to RaceTrac anyway to refill their Sodapalooza cups for free prior to heading out.  There are RaceTrac stations in Ocala, about 45 minutes North of here, but then nothing until they come back from Ohio.  I hope Greg packed his 3 12-packs of Diet Dr. Pepper that I got him for the trip!

  • I earned the daily Bing Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks.

  • I selected new MobiSave offers in my app. It's a good thing that I'm going to try not to spend (much) any money on groceries these next couple of weeks because those offers aren't for items I plan on buying anyway.

  • I reused water collected in the showers to flush the upstairs and then downstairs toilets.

  • I enjoyed my home-brewed, hazelnut-flavored FREE coffee (I won the bag of coffee from Wawa last month!) while watching a free show courtesy of my local birds coming to my bird feeder.

  • Do you know what happens when you plant a bunch of tomato plants at the same time? They all bear fruit at the same time.  Fruit that pretty much all ripens at the same time.  I harvested the garden and came back with another bowlful of tomatoes, as well as 4 ripe serrano peppers.  I hope it doesn't rain at dinnertime because I'll be grilling a bunch of tomatoes to enjoy as a side to whatever dinner I will have!

  • I don't know why I didn't think of it before 9:30 a.m. but as I enjoyed the cool breeze and the lower than expected humidity this morning, I decided to open the windows throughout the house and air it out a little.  Yes, I did remember to turn off the AC.  Dang it, I really wish I had thought to do this at 8 a.m. because I won't be able to keep them open very long!  10:45 a.m: I find it curious that the cats, who are cooped up inside, aren't finding the great outdoors very interesting this morning!  Usually they post themselves at the windows as soon as I open them but this morning they're all on a piece of furniture not so close to the windows and sleeping.

  • 10:51 a.m. and I just finished a lovely brunch on the patio: sunny side-up eggs, the last 2 slices of bacon (a little burnt!) that won't go to waste (yay!), a couple of slices of buttered toast. Yum. The sun is inching up on the patio and almost reaching my chair so I suppose it's going to be time to pack it in and head back inside. Still thinking about what my adventure of the day should be. 

  • RaceTrac replied to my Twitter Direct Message from Friday to say that the Sodapalooza cups had indeed been mailed and to let them know if I hadn't gotten mine. I told them I hadn't.

  • I'm doing an experiment: after coming back inside, I closed the windows and turned the AC back on but I set the AC to 78F throughout the house. We usually keep it at 75F, 74F in the kitchen if my daughter is home.  Since I'm alone, I won't be moving much and 78F downstairs should be bearable. It'll be hot upstairs but my daughter and Greg are gone and the bedroom that is now mine actually stays cooler than the others. I'm hoping to save some money over the next 2 weeks like this.

  • I had told my daughter she could have the free samples the Walgreens Beauty Counter lady had given me, but she left before I could do that, so today I took them out of the bag and added them to my stash of samples. I'll try to use some of them. They're mostly for skincare products so it'll be a new experience for me since I don't use those kinds of products, usually.

  • I should be decluttering and not adding more stuff to my piles of stuff, but the gift bag that the samples came in is perfectly good and will do in a pinch if I have to bring something to someone.

  • Just typing this reminded me that I forgot to share what I finally found last week, both with you and with Jodie (my BFF).  Look.
It was in a very obvious place all along but somehow I had completely missed it the first few times I looked there!  And all this time she and I were trying to remember whether I had lent it to her or not, as I meant to, and looking for it like crazy!  I AM crazy, maybe.  I texted her to share my discovery. She was amused, I'm relieved to say :)

  • Since I had taken my favorite, ancient and half-busted pedestal fan up to my bedroom, I got a small desktop tower fan that my son and I had gotten for Greg on Father's Day back in 2010 or 2011 and that he's not using, and set it up on the arm of the futon so it blows on my face. It's a little noisy but will do in a pinch when I get hot :)

  • Since Laura mentioned how enjoyable it was to sleep on clean sheets, I considered washing Greg and our son's bedding today. However, since I'm also going to be keeping the house warmer than usual, I decided to do that on the day of his return so they truly have fresh bedding to sleep in. They'll appreciate it since they're planning on camping the last 2 or 3 nights of their trip, for sure.

  • I checked the new offers on my McDonald's app. I don't plan on going to McDonald's. but if I do, I'll try to save money by using some of those.

  • I drove the Focus on my field trip today, as it has much better gas mileage than the SUV and it's fun to drive as well (stick shift!).

  • I stopped by RaceTrac to get a free diet soda refill with my Sodapalooza cup and I also redeemed a free survey reward code for a free blueberry muffin.  I wasn't hungry since I had had a filling brunch so I kept it for breakfast tomorrow morning.

  • P.E.A.R. Park, my field trip destination, was only 20 minutes away and completely free.  I like free :)

  • Greg called me at about 2:30 p.m. as they were getting off the main roads and taking small roads all the way to his daughter's. He said he had stopped at several RaceTrac stations and gotten free soda refills.  Woohoo!

  • On my way home, I stopped by the library to donate 2 magazines. 

  • While I was there, I grabbed 2 coupon inserts from the donation pile.

  • Then I drove to RaceTrac to get another free refill of diet soda.

  • When I got home, I found the package from FedEx on my doorstep: it WAS my new Sodapalooza cup from RaceTrac!  I had won it via Twitter a couple of weeks ago. I was surprised that they actually paid FedEx to ship the cup itself instead of just sending me a voucher to redeem at my local station for the cup.  Also, this one didn't include the awesome coupons that the ones that I purchased in store did, but hey, I'm not complaining at all. Just an observation :)  I will be able to load up on sodas for my day trips over the next couple of weeks (it's hot and there aren't RaceTrac stations all over the place!) and then I'll pass it along to Greg so he can double load on soda for his work days.

  • I reused water from the rain barrel to water the potted plants.

  • I mixed a new gallon of Susan's Super Duper Weed Killer and poured some on the weeds growing between the pavers on my patio.  I found a baby guest basil plant that was growing there too so I pulled it and replanted it in a nice big pot with its older siblings!

  • I harvested 2 more tomatoes that had ripened during the day.

  • The green collards look like they're coming back from the dead!

  • I moved the pole with the 2 hummingbird feeders closer to the house.  Do you know how hard it is to remove a pole that's been coated with Vaseline from the ground?  LOL.  I did manage, though.  Those ants are never going to get into those feeders!

  • One of the hummingbird feeders was empty so I refilled it with the rest of the nectar I had made and kept in the fridge.

  • After I was done in the garden, I was parched and really tempted to drive back to RaceTrac to get another free (and cold) soda refill, but I talked myself out of it.  I saved the gas, and drank cold tap water instead. It was very nice!

  • In the mail today, I found a $5.99 Visa Card from Staples (rebate), and some coupons.

  • I turned off the AC again at about 7 p.m. and opened the windows in the entry room/cat room and the living room. The outside breeze is helping keep the house cool and it feels very nice.  Before I opened the windows, it was 78 in the house and the AC had kicked on. It's now 79F in the house but it feels cooler than before I turned off the AC, lol.  I'm sure Bless and Susan would love for their house to be 79F right now. I'm doing this in solidarity with them AND also to save money :)

  • I'm not cooking dinner because I had an early dinner at about 4:30 p.m. when I came back from my field trip: the last fried chicken wing and some potato salad (also left over from the fried chicken dinner on Saturday night) and a big piece of chocolate cake with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

  • I was able to score a free print subscription to Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine from Freebizmags, thanks to a post from CouponPro. Woohoo!  You know that I had been thinking about getting a subscription so I could stop printing the articles from the free issues that I can access online via my library (but that I've been too lazy to read since... February!). But I was too cheap to spend $5.99 on a subscription and I'm glad that I was :)  Hopefully this will put me back on the path to learning about investing, etc.

  • I researched bird feeders on the Ace Hardware website, as I wanted a different one to add to my collection. I found a blue one, which is what I wanted, that had a promotion through today whereby I could get a free 8-lb bag of bird seeds AND they were both available at my local Ace Hardware store so I didn't have to pay for shipping AND I earned 260 Ace Rewards points and about 26 SB since I went through the Swagbucks Shopping Portal.  I will go pick them up tomorrow. I charged it to one of the Visa prepaid cards that my daughter had won from the Optimist Club and that I had bought from her.

  • My daughter gifted her June coupon for a free 32 oz fountain drink from RaceTrac to Greg via their apps... however, he will be out of the RaceTrac network range until after June so I emailed him to ask to regift it to me.  However, he called me tonight and said that the coupon didn't expire for another 30 days so he's keeping it :)

  • I was hungry at about 8:30 p.m. so I made myself an omelet with some diced ham that I had defrosted last week but never used, 4 tomatoes from my garden and some fresh basil from the garden as well. I also had a pear since my son didn't finish them before leaving.

  • I took a RaceTrac survey and earned another freebie :)

  • I was planning on going to Bok Tower Gardens (over an hour away from here) tomorrow and use my pass from Leu Botanical Gardens, but I decided to go to Discovery Gardens instead (about 20 minutes away). It's free and local.  I will swing by the landfill too, which is kind of on the way, to drop off the stuff we can't throw away in the trash.

  • I closed most of the windows at 9 p.m. more because I don't like the windows open when it's dark, but decided to leave the AC off for tonight since it's quite comfortable at 79F in the house and the temperature will only drop anyway.  I might change my mind once I go upstairs, if I'm hot! I'm leaving some of the windows open in the living room for now.

  • My oldest son will be performing with the Orlando Jazz Orchestra on July 18.  I thinking about going to the performance but I was hoping to go with someone.  Darn it, I'm not close to many people anymore and even fewer who enjoy jazz.  My BFF would come, I think, if I invited her and she was free, but now that she is looking for a new job and possibly a server job, who knows what her schedule will be on July 18 and I think I should buy the tickets very soon.  Well, I decided to see if his girlfriend would like to have dinner with me first and then I'd take her to the concert. I'm quite sure she was already planning on going and one of my projects this year is trying to get to know her better.  She's very reserved and my son told me I terrified her (what?! I swear I am not someone who terrifies people!) so it's been a challenge. But they're very serious about one another so at some point she will become my DIL and I can't imagine having a stranger for a DIL.  That would suck. So I emailed her and we'll see if she replies and what she says. The concert tickets are only $15 each so it's very reasonable.

  • Gas for my field trip, which was only 20 minutes away.  

  • Gas for Greg to drive to NC!

  • Lunch for Greg and our son at Wendy's.  I hope they've fixed their security problem because they got hacked a couple of times this past year...

  • Water to refill the self-watering bins.  The mourning doves came to keep me company!  They are my new pets, I think.
I was very close to them and they didn't budge.

  • No failures today aside from the fact that I still haven't received my $100 Publix gift card. I emailed them.

  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Did a load of dishes
  • Fed the cats
  • Aired out the house
  • Texted Middle Son to see if he was free next week (no answer)
  • Emailed Oldest Son's GF to see if she wanted to have dinner and attend oldest son's concert with me (no answer)
  • Collected recycling throughout the house and brought it to the main recycling bin
  • Cooked myself a lovely brunch!
  • Harvested the garden
  • Made my bed
  • Put away my laundry
  • Scrubbed the upstairs toilet and sink
  • Sprayed bleach on the bathtub mat
  • Cleaned the mirror in downstairs bathroom
  • Texted BFF to reassure her that I had found the missing DVDs that I thought I had lent her. Doh.
  • Went on a field trip and got some exercise too
  • Dropped off magazine donations at the library
  • Mixed weed killer and treated the weeds on the patio
  • Pulled weeds from garden and pots
  • Hand watered garden and refilled self-watering bins
  • Moved hummingbird feeders closer to the house
  • Refilled one of the hummingbird feeders
  • Researched bird feeders on Ace Hardware website
  • Aired out the house again
  • Talked to my daughter on the phone and gave her medical advice :)
  • Took a customer service survey
  • Fed the cats
  • Talked to Greg on the phone

NATURE: In my Backyard

The birds are truly enjoying the "staging area" that the old swingset is providing. Greg moved it there when he mowed last week, just to get it out of the way for a minute, and forgot to put it back in its place. It's much lower than a regular swingset frame, because I had him cut it down so I could use it to hand my Topsy Turvy tomato planters, several years back, when he had taken down our old playset. Now I'm thinking I might leave it in that position since the birds are enjoying it so much, and it's providing me with good picture opportunities!

It was busy again at the feeder this morning. The mourning doves flew in first and boy, either they were starving or they have a bulimia problem but they stayed at the feeder for a looooong time. One of the fledglings came with them too.

Arrgh, it came out all blurry!  Male cardinal and mourning dove fledglings, waiting for their turn at the feeder.
Later on, several cardinals flew in.  At one point there was a male and a young female at the feeder. She was kind of flapping her wings a little and making small noises so I thought that was odd, and then they looked like they were kissing?!  Well, it turns out he was feeding her!  Awwww.  The dad was feeding his baby girl!  That was so cute.  I filmed it a little and then he flew off and she just stayed there at the feeder and she didn't seem to know what to do. LOL.  Then she flew off too.

I was able to photograph some other birds too...

Red bellied woodpecker

Turkey vulture


Greg asked me yesterday why I had put the 2 extra hummingbird feeders so far away (they're in the back of the yard) because we can't see very well. He's right. I just put them there because I had just pulled the plum tree so I planted the support pole in its place, but I think I will move it to the berm so we can indeed enjoy the sights a little more...plus it'll be better to take pictures since I still don't have a better lens for my dSLR and my little Canon's digital zoom produces slightly blurry pictures.

The big lizard that had lost its tail is still around. Today I noticed that his tail is regrowing, but he ducked out of sight before I could photograph him. So here is a molting lizard instead.

It wouldn't be Monday morning if the darn dogs from a few yard away weren't out and barking.  Sigh. No, I can't say that I enjoy that at all.

There is something to be said for leaving the flowering weeds (that make up most of my backyard!) alone... butterflies feed from them!  I have "edge the berm" on my to-do list but now I'm feeling guilty.

I did pull these weeds, although I did like their blue flowers. They were very tall.

Butterfly enjoying the chickweed flowers.

FIELD TRIP: P.E.A.R. (Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve) Park's Wildlife Conservation Area

I left my house just before 1 p.m.  P.E.A.R. Parl is only 20 minutes away but I had never been there.  I took a country road that meanders among pastures and fields. Unfortunately, most of those are slatted to be turned into a giant subdivision pretty soon. I'm quite pissed about it although our city's leaders tout the fact that our sleepy little town is the 2nd fastest growing city in Florida like it's a great thing. It's not even a good thing.  I hate urban sprawl.

P.E.A.R Park is a large park (318 acres) that is located in Lake County, along the Palatlakaha River. I'm going to transcribe the introduction from their brochure verbatim: "The park is divided into two distinct sections, consisting of the passive Wildlife Conservation area, and the "Gateway", which is a combination of Active Recreation and natural areas.  In the past, the land was used as an experimental agricultural station operated by the University of Florida, beginning in 1929.  During its 71 years of operation, the center conducted numerous studies on plant breeding and pathology, including the development of several new varieties of watermelon, grapes, and pumpkins.  Although most of the agricultural activities have been discontinued with the land being restored to its native ecosystems, the Orvel J. Walter Heritage Grape Arbor, consisting of Alahua Muscadine grape and other varieties, remains."

Today, I visited the passive Wildlife Conservation area.  It has a separate entrance from the "active" recreational area. To get to it, you take a small road that goes alongside a manufactured home community, located just adjacent to the park. This will be significant later.

I parked next to the building housing the Nature Center and went to look at the kiosk that featured a map so I could decide which trail to go on.  As I was walking toward the entrance of the trail, a county worker on a large mower was coming toward me and stopped. He was very friendly. introduced himself (Ron), shook my hand, and proceeded to tell me about the park and also suggest 2 other parks in Lake County that he said I would enjoy since I liked watching birds.  One of them had been on my list, it's the preserve where I wanted to attend that Herp Hike that I missed.  He told me that the next time I wanted to go, I should call the Ranger that morning to see if anyone cancelled. He said that actually. a lot of times people will book a hike and then never show up, and that he didn't think anyone had shown up for the Herp Hike.  Awww. Now I feel bad about not having gone, although I didn't make a reservation anyway. Anyhoo, Ron and I chatted for a bit (he has a 14 year old son as well and is homeschooling him). He told me that he had seen 3 corn snakes this morning and also Cow's Whips (a snake with a black head but gray body that I have never seen myself) but that as long as I left them alone, they would leave me alone. Good to know! I asked what was in the Nature Center building and he said it was closed but that he could open it for me whenever I wanted, and that there would be a volunteer meeting at 2 p.m. so I could come in and look around during the meeting.  From what he told me was in the center (honestly, I forgot what he said), it didn't sound like it would be very interesting to me, but probably to small children, so I declined to go inside and went on my hike.

Most of the area looked like an abandoned grove that had been left to return to his natural state.  A sandy trail is maintained by mowers. It's quite wide.  Right away, I noticed vines and flowers that were of interest to me.  As I walked into a shoulder to take a closer picture, I heard a rustling in the dry grass and I started to think that maybe it hadn't been very smart to walk in there in my sneakers since I had been warned about the snakes... but it was only a rabbit that ran across the trail, too fast for me to get a picture.  Drat.  I'm going to ruin the suspense here and tell you that it was the only animal that I saw, apart from bugs, caterpillars and a couple of fish.  I saw one bird and I didn't get a picture of it, nor do I know offhand what it was.

What I did see, though, were flowers. Specifically passion flowers.  They were everywhere!  I think I took a picture of almost every single one of them, lol.  Just kidding, because there really were a lot of them, but I did take a lot of pictures of them.

I stayed for over an hour.  The trail I took made a loop of only about 1 mile, but I stopped a lot. It was hot but also actually quite breezy so, surprisingly, I wasn't hot at all.  Now that I'm home and typing this, my forearms have started to itch because I didn't feel the need to put sunscreen on but I must have gotten quite a bit of sun nonetheless.

The trail featured a butterfly garden, then I was able to walk in the forest bordering the Palatlakaha River and even get close to it, the Heritage Memorial Grove, where I was able to finally identify the type of oak growing near my bird feeder, and then I visited the Community Gardens that are located near the Nature Center.

Note: it's very late (past 11 p.m.) as I type this. I don't know a lot of the flowers' names so I will come back through the week and update the post as I research the names :)

The trail I walked on. I was all by myself the whole time I was there!

The view from the trail

Common green-eyes without its petals

Common green-eyes losing its petals

I think this might be what they call "Florida Rosemary"

It kind of looks like rosemary but doesn't smell like anything.  Butterflies are supposed to love it.

I did find a pupa or chrysalis on one of them.

The passion flowers were everywhere!

I think this is narrow-leaved sunflower


It was windy, which made it hard to photograph flowers since they were always swaying.  I have a lot of blurry photos!

Butterfly garden. I saw a few butterflies but the garden was kind of sparse compared to the Leu Botanical Gardens Butterfly Garden, for example.  Probably because they only use native species at P.E.A.R. Park.


southern flea bane

Not sure. Might be Partridge Pea but the flower doesn't look right...

This might be Hollow Goldenrod

Tar Flower

Fire bush?

Unknown. Hard to tell because it's all wilted.

Pink phlox

Purple phlox

Trumpet honeysuckle?

Beauty bush

Beauty bush close-up

The beautiful metallic sculpture under the butterfly garden's pavilion!

The artist who made and gifted the sculpture

Prickly Pear?

Stinging Nettle (Tread Softly?)

Heading into the forest...

The Palatlakaha River, although it was very low at this point. You can kayak on it closer to Clermont.

This fish was hiding under a branch.

Beauty bush (again!)

Greg called me as I was crossing this bridge...

But soon I reached the end of this trail, so I had to backtrack and get back on the main trail.

Red blanket lichen

A very pretty tree: pond cypress

Close-up of the pond cypress's round cones

There were on a few passion flower plants...  Wikipedia states:
  • Maypop (P. incarnata), a common species in the southeastern US. This is a subtropical representative of this mostly tropical family. However, unlike the more tropical cousins, this particular species is hardy enough to withstand the cold down to −20 °C (−4 °F) before its roots die (it is native as far north as Pennsylvania and has been cultivated as far north as Boston and Chicago.) The fruit is sweet, yellowish, and roughly the size of a chicken's egg; it enjoys some popularity as a native plant with edible fruit and few pests.

So I guess those weren't ripe yet but some animal found this one tasty nonetheless!

The white roof was where my car was parked. It was only about 1/2 a mile away.

I saw a lot of those holes and thought they might be snake holes?  But at least this one was a red ant nest.

Dotted Horsemint. These kind of look like orchids, don't they?


Caterpillars devouring passion vine leaves.

I thought this bush had red flowers, but it was only a few leaves that were bright red.

Close to the end of the trail, there was this interesting landscaped area  where most trees were labeled.

This looks a lot like the three trees growing around my bird feeder, that I had been unable to identify so far.

This is the name of the tree. I will have  to compare the trees to the photo above tomorrow to make sure they're the same thing: Sand Post Oak.
The final area that I visited was the Community Gardens. Ron told me that you could rent a plot for $20 a month.  I found most gardens very neglected.  I think that the renters might be snow birds who were gardening in the Spring but went back up North for the summer (this is a theory based on the fact that the community right next door to the park is a manufactured home community, in an area where there are a lot of snowbirds).

A view of the community gardens as I approached.

Ingenious... I should try this for my tomatoes!


They had those berries on them. Not sure if asparagus produce berries?!  A lot of the plots had those.

I was kind of glad to see that most of the tomato plants looked as bad as mine currently do!

These people were smart, put a tarp over their whole plot, weighed down by a lot of containers filled with water.  I'll bet they did that to control the weeds until they return in the fall/winter!

Abandoned cantaloupe

This was a HUGE rosemary bush and it was flowering like crazy!  I'm thinking that maybe I should plant mine in ground!

Huge and beautiful banana peppers

Enormous kale!

Lots of veggies here, The beans were mostly dried out, though.

This okra pod had to be at least 10 inches tall!

Yard-long beans?!

Green collards... much neglected


All those Japanese eggplants were left to wither on the plants!

Huge pumpkin

But another one was left to rot.

Beautiful rainbow chard but it was all wilted :(

The same plot had gorgeous eggplants... but it didn't look like anyone had been in the plot recently.

Another pumpkin!

They use overhead watering.  Darn it, how do they get their veggies to be so prolific?!
I'm glad I went to P.E.A.R. Park today. Next time I head out that way, I'll check out the Northern end, where the "active" portion of the park is (dog park, recreation, and more trails).

  • Being able to do 100% as I please for the next couple of weeks!
  • Being able to enjoy the sounds and sights of my garden. I think we take our senses for granted sometimes. I was reminded of that when Bless explained that her sense of taste had been altered by the chemo.  I may need bifocals but I'm grateful that I can see
  • Bifocals!  Thanks to whoever invented them.  It must have been awful, before glasses existed, to have poor eyesight. How debilitating.
  • A relatively cool day with a lovely breeze this morning
  • Fresh tomatoes!
  • Nice parks, preserves and gardens to discover in my own county


  1. Glad to hear that Greg and your son reached Greg's daughter's place safely. Hope your daughter isn't coming down with something and feels better by tomorrow.

    The flowers with the yellow edged reddish petals might be Indian blanket. The fern-like plant with the berries are asparagus. The neglected/abandoned community garden plots break my heart! Someone went to all the trouble of planting them and isn't there to harvest anything. Some community group should be allowed to harvest the produce and take to a food bank type place.

    1. Thanks, Bless. I have my Audubon Field Guide to Florida in hand and I'm going to be investigating those flowers right now :)

      Oh so they ARE asparagus! I suspected as much, but I just have never seen the berries on them. How cool. The ferns were very tall. I was thinking the same thing yesterday about the waste in the gardens, I don't know what the procedures are. You'd think there would be a coordinator who could be in charge of picking the produce and offering it to some food bank but maybe that's not in their contract? I don't know how community gardens work. I was thinking, though, that even if someone had walked by and offered me some of the produce, I have no room in the freezers to keep it, lol. I was kind of jealous to see how bountiful the gardens looked. I wish someone had been around to pick their brains on what type of soil they use, whether they used pesticides, how often they water and for how long, etc.

  2. This is going to sound really bad, but I'm excited for you at the thought of two weeks on your own. I think its because I am never on my own. I was thinking ooh if I was on my own I'd systematically clear out each room selling everything I don't want. I would eat salads for dinner (only myself and daughter like salads so we don't have them often).

    I hope you do have a nice time Nathalie.

    I'm glad Greg and your son arrived ok, and I hope your sons girlfriend replies to you, you get on so well with your other sons girlfriend.

    I could happily sit bird watching in your garden for hours. Relax my dear friend and enjoy the peace xxx

    1. Thanks, Tara. It's going very well so far. I love not having to cook for anyone else than me, lol. However, salads probably wouldn't be my first choice for dinner! I do need to declutter and clean a lot but right now I don't feel the urge to spend hours doing that.

      I hope you have a good week too. Has the rain stopped yet?

  3. I find that just being outside in the heat can be most tiring. Even though you say that you didn't do much, just going on the short hike in the hot sun can be enough to tire yourself out. Maybe your daughter got too much sun this past weekend? Hopefully, she will recover quickly. I love having a fan blowing over me during the night as I sleep.

    Congrats on receiving one of your prizes. One down...one to go. Glad also that you found your missing DVD. Jodie is off the hook now. *laugh* I'm also happy to hear that you scored a subscription to Kiplinger's. I much prefer reading a physical copy of a magazine.

    Hope you can find someone to go with to your son's performance in Orlando. I agree. Some things are better when you can share the experience with someone else. I'm sure your son's GF will appreciate the invite.

    Hard to believe, but I think your photos are getting better and better. These close-ups are stunning. These wildflowers are very exotic looking. I still appreciate you taking us on these excursions with you. Where are we going next? Ha.

    1. Hi Susan! My son's GF did reply late last night that she thought it was a great idea to go out to dinner and then to the concert so I'm happy that we'll be doing that together. I hope to get to know her better.

      You're very kind about my pictures. As you noted in your own photo of your bean plants yesterday, it's hard to take pictures in the sun because you can't really see what you're photographing with the new cameras, until you have them on your computer! I took over 200 pictures that day and many of them were too blurry. Good thing we don't pay for film and film development anymore!

      Where are we going next? Well, probably nowhere again today... or even the next few days. It's supposed to be much hotter than it was on Monday and I'm quite comfortable at home so I may just stay here and do some chores, watch a little TV, read a little... I don't know. The thing is I have been enjoying my mornings on the patio so by the time I'm ready to go anywhere, it's already past noon and much hotter. I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to the heat, even after close to 30 years here. Like you, I enjoy a fan blowing on me at night. This is one of the reasons why Greg and I sleep separately now: he's always cold and I'm always hot! And THAT misery doesn't like company :)


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