Saturday, August 6, 2016

Wildflower and Butterfly Hike ~ Saturday 8/6/16

Greg had said he might go fishing this morning but he was still in bed when I got up at 7:30 a.m.  I got ready for my Wildflower and Butterflies Hike at P.E.A.R. Park in Leesburg, which took place from 9 to 11 a.m.

It was very overcast all morning, as if it was about to rain, but it didn't. But it was very muggy.

On my way home, I called him to see if he needed anything since I was going to stop by Walgreens and he sounded horrible.  His migraine is back in full force and he's nauseous and just not feeling good at all. Poor honey.

He needed peace and quiet at home, so I just played my Law & Order: Criminal Intent DVDs on my laptop with my headphones on.

To Do List :
  • Crafty/Creative:
    • Finish painting squirrel sign and assemble it
    • Make a lightbox to take better pictures
    • Melt down old candles and make into one or two new candles
    • Make "No Soliciting" sign for front door and another one for the other front door (we have two)
  • Cleaning/Decluttering:
    • Dust the entry room, breezeway, bedrooms (including son's fan)
    • Declutter linen closet
    • Clean kitchen cabinets
    • Clean out the printer stand, including school paperwork folders
    • Declutter the top of the fridge
    • Mend items in mending basket (add Greg's hat)
    • Declutter exercise room (including storage bench)
    • Vacuum the Expedition and the Focus (Sunday)
    • Do the dishes 
    • Vacuum living room
    • Sweep breezeway
    • Sweep and mop kitchen
    • Sweep and mop downstairs bathroom
    • Spray bleach in shower stall
    • Scrub downstairs toilet
    • Vacuum daughter's room - Done
    • Wash daughter's bedding  - Done
  • Cooking/Baking/Preserving:
    • Check on the pineapples to see if they're ready to be cut up and dehydrated
    • Collect dehydrated onions and process them - collected in a jar. 
    • Make Grape Nuts (Sunday)
  • Entertainment
    • Plan an outing to Leu Botanical gardens or Bok Tower Gardens
  • Errands:
    • Take items to the dump
    • Take donations to thrift store
  • Gardening/outdoors:
    • Transplant ferns into bare patch in front lawn to make shady planter
    • Research cone flowers and their care and plant them somewhere - Transplanted them in larger pot.
    • Scrub patio pavers with bleach to remove mildew (this might have to wait until the months when it's not quite so hot!)
    • Fertilize the raspberries - I'm thinking about pulling them and putting more roses in pots in their place.
    • Add mulch to the vegetable garden - I will do this once I have replaced the broken self-watering bins
    • Pull unwanted plants from center "planter" in the backyard, add soil, plant flowers, add edging around it (watch out for large roots that would be in the way). Make planter with other materials if edging doesn't work. (this will have to wait until Fall when it's not so hot and when I can plant wildflower seeds).
    • Divide and repot the aloe plant
    • Plant more okra
    • Trim grass behind the hedge
    • Find fish emulsion and use on plants
    • Check on seed nursery and water as needed
  • Health:
    • Call gyneco to make annual appointment
    • Get back on the recumbent bike! 
    • Do 5 min of strength exercises 
    • Weigh myself  (Monday)
    • Log food into My Fitness Pal
  • Maintenance:
    • See if I still have mildew-resistant white paint for bathroom ceiling
    • Get Greg to replace the ceiling tile in the entry room
    • Test the batteries in all 3 smoke detectors and replace as needed
    • Vacuum fridge coils
    • Greg to call plumber
  • Technology/Paperwork:
    • Caption old pictures that have already been scanned
    • Scan more old pictures
    • Create spreadsheet to track IRA contributions using ALL our old tax returns - Started but need to do more research.
    • Figure out if we should contribute to regular  or Roth IRAs for 2016 and fund them - I guess I need to wait until tax time next year, actually. I'll have until April 15, 2017 to fund 2016 IRAs so I need to work on taxes way sooner than I did this year so I'd have time to fund the IRAs and THEN file my taxes.
    • Download all May-July photos to my external drive
    • Back up my external drive to my other external drive
    • File the remaining loose recipes that I organized already in appropriate recipe binders
    • Purge filing cabinet
    • File paperwork
    • Write new letter to great grand aunt
    • Clip coupons
    • Sort coupons
    • Submit Clearasil rebate 
    • Input receipts into spreadsheets 

  • I brewed a pot of free coffee from Wawa for my breakfast and ate the free jumbo blueberry muffin that I got from RaceTrac yesterday.

  • I brought an upcycled bottle of tap water and some peanut butter crackers along on my hike.

  • I drove the Focus for better mileage.  P.E.A.R. Park is only 20 minutes from my house and I can take country roads to get there so it was a nice drive.

  • The hike was offered by our county's Park Service and was free.  I discovered new areas of the park that I hadn't visited before. When I got home, I added a monthly visit to P.E.A.R. Park Conservation Area to my calendar.

  • The ranger brought several books about butterflies, grasses and other topics. I was able to flip through them and make a list of books I want to have in my library!
I added them all to my Amazon wishlist.  Even used, most of those are pretty expensive so I'll have to buy them over time, hopefully with some Rewards.
  • I had also picked up several brochures from the ranger. I looked at them once I was home and they're wonderfully packed with great information!
1) The Greener Choices brochure is available for free online as a pdf download
2) The P.E.A.R. Park River trail brochure is available for free online as a pdf download 

The brochure about invasive species confirms that the lantana, while pretty, is invasive and non-native.  For each type of terrain, the brochure reveals which invasive plants to avoid and which native plants to use instead.  I love it!

The River Trail brochure identifies the plants found on the trail with very good, clear pictures.
I'm thinking about laminating it.

Ditto with the Butterflies of Lake County brochure!  I could put them in my string bag and bring them along without damaging them.

  • Right before leaving, I asked the ranger who was leading us on the hike where I could get passionflower vine seeds so she just pulled a vine for me and also gave me a ripe passionfruit. Woohoo!  
This is the host plant (but not the red ones!) for the Zebra Longwing, Gulf Fritillary and the Variegated Fritillary butterflies
  • On my way home I went to Publix to get more ginger ale for Greg.  The Publix brand was on BOGO sale so I got (2) 2L bottles for just $2.14.  I charged it to my Amazon Visa Rewards because that was the only credit card I had with me. So I'll only get 1% back in Rewards.

  • I also stopped by Walgreens.  I got 3 packages of 12-cans of Diet Dr. Pepper for $12 and redeemed $10 in Balance Rewards. I also bought a 3-pack of Walgreens-brand vapor inhalers for Greg.  They were priced at $15.99. I charged the $18.83 OOP to my Amazon Visa card for 2% back in Rewards.

  • When I got home, I have Greg an inhaler, put one in the backpack that he takes to work every day, and put one by his bedside.

  • I set a loaf of bread to rise on my front porch for a couple of hours since it looked like it was going to rain.

  • I planted the passionflower vine where I had spread a package of peat moss that ants had invaded, not far from the bird feeders; that's not the best area since the plant is the host plant for some butterflies but it will spread (hopefully!) and I can transplant some in other spots.
Yeah, I know, it looks like it's dead doesn't it?  It grows in sand so I'm thinking it'll be OK.
  • My lunch was an egg salad sandwich, celery sticks with the rest of the Veggie Ranch dip that I had bought on 50% clearance, half the papaya that I bought on Thursday, and the rest of the iced tea that I had brewed a couple of days ago.

  • A little later on, Greg had a can of soup for his lunch.

  • I received a Visa prepaid card in the amount of $7.29 from Staples (rebate).

  • I put seasons 3 & 4 of Law & Order: Criminal Intent on hold at the library.

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

  • I got scared because my daughter's toilet bowl (which she had left uncovered) was bone dry when I went  into her bathroom and it wouldn't flush!  The water wasn't turned off so I immediately thought it was linked to our other toilet's problem.  But I was relieved to see that there was water in the tank. It was just that the flapper has "melted" a little and was stuck. So I freed it and I was able to flush and the bowl refilled fine. Phew!

  • I did  a super load of laundry with my daughter's bath towels, bath mat and bedding.  She might have washed it all before she left but that was 2 months ago so I thought she would appreciate clean and fresh everything.

  • Our son walked to the park for his daily exercise and swingapolooza :)

  • It started pouring at 4:15 p.m.  I promise, Bless, that I'm trying to will the rain to move to Southern California next!

  • I used my homemade glass cleaner to wash the mirror in my daughter's bathroom. Since it's made with vinegar, I also used it to clean her sink and spray and scrub the painted floor of her tiny half bath.

  • Walgreens emailed me some digital Balance Reward point offers to upload to my Walgreens Rewards card.

  • I added several upcoming nature hikes in local parks to my calendar. I will ask my daughter if she wants to join me before making a reservation. All of them are free :)

  • Greg and I watched episode 6 of season 3 of The Great British Baking Show on PBS while we ate our dinner.

  • I lowered the AC to 74F in the living room, hoping the drier air would help with Greg's migraine (I also closed the curtains for him in the living room so I've spent the afternoon like a vampire in the dark, lol).

  • Since it was raining, I put all the laundry in the dryer.

  • Greg was starved after eating soup for 2 days so I went to get us dinner from McDonald's.  I did use a BOGO coupon from my app for Artisan chicken sandwiches. but there are 3 of us and we all wanted large fries... so my OOP was $18.99 and I charged it to Amazon Visa for 2% in Rewards.

  • I should have done 2 transactions at Walgreens but I didn't think about it. Because of their customer-UNfriendly policies, you cannot earn Balance Reward points on transactions if you redeem BR points.  So I didn't warn any points for my purchase today. Arrgh.

  • I was hoping that refilling the bowl of my daughter's toilet would perform some kind of plumbing physics magic and that it might have helped the upstairs toilet on the other side of the house to start flushing properly again. Alas, it was once again confirmed that I just plain suck at physics.

  • Attended the Wildflower and Butterflies hike
  • Ran errands
  • Planted the passionflower vine
  • Baked bread
  • Put DVDs on hold
  • Vacuumed my daughter's bedroom and half bath
  • Flushed her toilet
  • Washed her bath towels, bath mat and bedding
  • Cleaned her bathroom mirror and sink
  • Scrubbed her bathroom floor
  • Added a Renuzit cone to the tiny landing outside her bedroom
  • Corresponded with my daughter via texts
  • Noted all upcoming hikes that I want to participate in on my calendar
  • Went to pick up dinner
  • Bookmarked Lake County brochures available online

  • For a free passionflower vine plant and seeds!
  • For not being migraine-prone.  I feel really bad for those of you who are.


Wildflower and Butterflies Hike, P.E.A.R. Park

As I noted above, the weather was overcast and muggy.  There were about 20 of us taking the hike. Most of us were adults and there were 3-4 teens and a young boy of about 6 or 7.

The ranger was extremely knowledgeable about insects and wildflowers. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to understand that none of us in the group were. So she would "quiz" us on plants and butterflies but none of us knew the answers, yet she would prod us to give answers and explanations for the answers. I felt like I was in class but I hadn't studied for the test! She was very nice and passionate, though.

She also walked pretty fast.  There was an older gentleman in the group who had physical challenges and didn't walk as fast. Unfortunately, she didn't wait until the group was gathered to start speaking,  and with the size of our group (about 20 people), it was hard to gather around her on the narrow trail.  Consequently the people at the end (like the older gentleman) mostly didn't hear anything of what she said.  I started by walking in front of the line so I could hear what she was saying. but I fell behind while trying to take some pictures so I missed most of what she was talking about.  And then most of my pictures didn't turn out because I felt rushed and my camera wouldn't focus very well, probably due to the humidity.

Still, I learned some interesting facts.  I couldn't take notes so I'm going to try to recollect a few things here:
  • Baby hummingbirds eat small insects. (I can't wait to get my new Discover Rewards so I can order the book about hummingbirds that I thought I had already ordered from Amazon!).
  • The Tufted Titmouse, Great Crested Flycatcher and Red Bellied Woodpecker are all cavity nesters (I didn't realize that).
  • The Hercules' Club is the host plant for the Great Swallowtail Butterfly.
  • Butterflies have specific host plants where they lay their eggs (on new tender growth only so the baby caterpillars have something soft to chew on) and different plants that they use for their nectar.  The chrysalis will usually only hang from safe spots (sometimes from under your houses' eaves so don't pressure wash your house without looking for those first).  Caterpillars can hide in mulch so be careful when you go to spread more mulch around.
  • The weed that I call chickweed that's basically our "grass" in the backyard and that the bees loooove, is what she calls "Mexican... something" (aargh, I've forgotten!). She said it was an non-native, invasive species and that despite the fact that pollinators love it, she tries to get rid of it.  I tried to get rid of it once upon a time but now we just mow it because yet, it is invasive and it's everywhere. But the bees and wasps absolutely love it, and it gives them food in the summer when I don't have a lot of flowers to offer them!
  • Butterflies smell with their feet!  They have sensors that help them determine what plant they're on and how old the plant is.
  • Female butterfly will only lay 1 egg per plant, usually, and will make sure to lay the eggs only on new growth because old leaves are too tough for the caterpillars.  This is why you might see butterfly flying very fast from plant to plant.  That's usually a female looking for a good spot to lay her eggs.  If you see her moving her abdomen forward. it means she's laying an egg.
  • Male butterflies often land on rocks or pebbles for a few seconds at a time: they're collecting various minerals that they need to make the pheromones that will attract the females.

So it was a mixed bag, especially since very few of my pictures turned out.  Oh well, I will be buying some of the books that the ranger had brought along and studying them.  I also added a monthly visit to P.E.A.R. Park to my calendar so I can see the park's flora at various times of the year.

Look at what I found, flipping through one of the books!  I think I'm going to be
partial to this butterfly, the Nathalis iole, lol. It's a yellow butterfly. Kind of ditzy, like me :)

Looking for butterfly eggs on a passionflower vine

Talking about the partridge pea, a legume, that is the host plant to another butterfly (and I have forgotten which one). Legume plants are annuals but excellent at fixing nitrogen in the soil so you do want to plant some in your yard.  The bugs love them.

A closer look

The ranger called it an orb spinner but I think this might be a Black-and-Yellow Garden Spider.

The fire bushes were very busy with butterflies (Gulf Fritillary), bees, wasps, bumble bees... someone even spotted a hummingbird.

Gulf Fritillary

Walking to "Pete's Meadow".

Swallowtail Kite.  They love to eat the large grasshoppers and lizards.

Informational panels about the meadow.  P.E.A.R. Park used to be an agricultural research facility with lots of turf.  The land is now being leased by the county from the state of Florida and is being restored to native habitats (sand dunes, meadows, etc.)
I'm not sure what flower that is :(

The Hercules' Club trees is covered in thorns (trunk, branches).  It is from the citrus family and the leaves smell very good when crushed.  It is the host tree for the Giant Swallowtail butterfly.

She broke open a couple of passion fruits (fruit of the passionvine) and had us smell. Some of the group tasted it too. I didn't think it smelled like much.  You eat it like a pomegranate, sucking the jelly around the seeds and spitting them out.  You can make juice and jelly out of it too. I didn't try it because I was chewing mint gum anyway.  I'm hoping to grow some in my own yard!

The little boy spotted a centipede so she picked it up and had it crawling all over her.  Ewww. I think those are gross.  She explained that they stay underground usually so they're beneficial in the garden, like earthworms, because they aerate the ground and mix the nutrients.  When threatened, they emit very foul and poisonous chemicals that look like iodine (her hands were stained with it).  There is a predator (a wasp?  I didn't catch what it was) that has developed an immunity to them and will bite the centipede behind the head, paralyzing it, and will come back later to eat it. But usually the chemical glands are still intact even after the (wasp?) has eaten all the insides of the centipede.

It's kind of lucky that my camera wouldn't focus properly, if you ask me :)

A view of the meadow.  Not a great picture, I felt rushed. I want to go back on my own :)

Prickly pear. Looks like someone picked the prickly pear fruit, though.

Can you see the stick bug?! I wouldn't have noticed it if the ranger hadn't pointed it out!

Walking through the meadow. I was all the way in the back by now...

Gorgeous salvia! I want to have some of it in my yard!  The hummingbirds love those.

Black widow. It was way smaller than I expected a Black Widow to be.  Thankfully it was very fearful as it ran away as soon as the lady next to me moved a little too close to take a picture. I was safe and just zoomed as much as I could, lol.

Grass-roofed bird blind building, overlooking a marsh where birds can be observed.

The marsh

Some kind of duck on the pond, I think. I used the 40x digital zoom so it's hard to tell.

Woodpecker. Not sure if it's a Red Bellied or not, it was too far away.

Butterfly emerging from its chrysalis

Informational panels about the wildlife that can be found in the marsh, painted by a local artist.

Caterpillar. Once I buy some books about caterpillars of Florida, I'll be able to determine which it is!

I love how their rain barrels are hooked in succession. We need to do this at our house since
I only have one downspout.
 When was the last time you visited a local park?


  1. You are so lucky to have these fantastic nature trails and parks available to you. The fact that these guided tours and seminars are FREE is icing on the cake. I am so jealous. The printed handouts are another bonus. Once you have read that information and take another tour on your own, you will learn so much more.

    I can relate to being grateful for not being susceptible to migraines. I think any head pain (like tooth aches or headaches) is a terrible affliction I would not wish on a single living being. I rarely get any kind of headache, but I feel for anyone who gets migraines, especially. Yes, I feel gratitude.

    Congrats for receiving a free passion fruit vine to plant in your yard, for your $25 gift card for completing Swagbucks, and for your daughter coming home tomorrow.

    1. I'm ashamed to say that I never realized just how much was available all around me. I guess because none of it is really exciting when you have little kids and free admission to Walt Disney World, as I did. We did explore some local parks but the kids preferred playgrounds. So now I'm really happy to be discovering all of this on my own, although I'm hoping my daughter might want to join me on some of the hikes since they're over the weekend. I've put 4 or 5 more on my calendar from October through December!

  2. Yuck that black widow is disgusting! Love the butterflies, I'm not sure about the other bugs though!

    Glad you had a nice morning. I guess its a good job Greg didn't go fishing as he was feeling so poorly I hope he feels better soon.


    1. You're right, he had a horrible night and morning and he didn't go. He feels better now and I hope it lasts.

  3. Sorry to hear Greg's migraine came back. Hope he feels better, soon.

    Thank you for all the pictures you took of the nature walk. I feel like I went along on the walk with you! Too bad the ranger walked so fast and didn't wait till everyone had gathered around to speak. But nice that she gave you a free passion flower vine and the fruit for seeds.

    Hope you are having a lovely day, today.

    1. LOL, I was thinking that maybe I could find a blogger who takes pictures as she exercises and then I could feel like I have exercised along with her :) Do you think you might find a park to go on a "hike" to observe nature once your health is back to normal, Bless?

      Greg's currently feeling better and we're hoping that it lasts...

    2. Actually, there are several parks with trails for hiking; my daughter goes with her friends, sometimes. I haven't gone since they are mostly hilly trails and I am too out of shape for that! Let me know if looking at pictures of someone exercising works! I'll join you! :D

  4. I've never seen a black widow spider except in photos, which may be a good thing. I love the picture you got of the orb weaver - their webs are fascinating with the zig-zag line. Isn't it great that we have so many fantastic parks in Florida? I really should go more - such a great resource.

    I love passion flowers (taking pictures of them). Just today, I got a picture of a red one! Did you know that passion flowers were/are used as medicine by American Indians and people in Europe to treat anxiety and insomnia?

    1. It's so hot right now, but in the Fall I really want to explore more locally and even a little further.

      My passion flower vine doesn't look like it's liking the transplantation... hopefully the seeds will germinate but I have to harvest and plant them first! Oooh, a red one! I wonder why the 2 local native butterflies will use the purple passion vine as their host plant but not the red one... I had no idea it was being used to treat anxiety and insomnia! More reasons to try and grow my own, eh? Thanks for the link, I'd go explore it.

  5. Hope Greg feels better soon. And it is very nice to have so much beautiful nature around you. That black widow is freakylooking though

    1. Thank you and I agree about the spider!


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