Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Spring Visit to P.E.A.R. Park ~ Tuesday 4/11/17

Darn Blogger Auto Save that made me lose the format of my "draft" daily post when I made a mistake, tried to undo it, ended up deleting all the content and then couldn't close without saving because it had already saved!  Arrrgh.

I didn't sleep great, I was tossing and turning a bit (I think the duvet is too hot now, it's comfy and fluffy but I need to put it away) but at least there was minimal cat involvement: Explorer only showed up at about 4:30 a.m. and only for a little while and Princess never showed up. For the first time in a long time, I woke up without any cats in bed with me this morning, nor any in my room. I miss the morning cuddle but honestly, it was nice not to have to share :)

It's cool again this morning, 60F/15.5C this morning at 7:15 a.m. so I opened the windows and came back on the patio. I won't be here long, as I plan on going to P.E.A.R. Park (Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve) shortly.  Last time I was there was several months ago, with Greg.

I'll get to the chores when I get back. Maybe.

  • Defrost meat for dinner DONE
  • Make menu for the week
  • Go library to return book, pick up new one, look for coupon inserts DONE
  • Put CVS and Aldi receipts in my wallet
  • Return items to CVS and Aldi 
  • Enter receipts in all spreadsheets
  • Measure patio table to see if Lowe's umbrella stand would fit under it
  • Clean upstairs bathroom sink and mirror, and toilet
  • Scrub the bathtub 
  • Research state parks to visit this weekend
  • Declutter the printer stand in progress
  • Give a driving lesson to my son with the stick shift - ON FRIDAY
  • Take Youngest Son to get a haircut - Greg is going this weekend, I'll have him take Youngest Son with him
  • Clean bathroom ceiling 
  • Clean hallway ceiling right outside the bathroom
  • Make my bed 
  • Earn Microsoft Rewards credits DONE
  • Input weight into WHBRHC  
  • Set 15 minute timer and try to accomplish as many chores as possible in that time
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Do the dishes by hand, drain/dry in the dishwasher (AFTER DINNER) 
  • Take one mattress and the bed to the thrift store?
  • Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son
  • Back up external drive to its own external drive!
  • Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
  • Do my foot exercises 
  • Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike  (weekdays only)  Took a long walk
  • Clean upstairs litter box  
  • Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine 
  • Inventory the pantry
  • Inventory the freezers
  • Purge the top drawer of the file cabinet
  • Take RaceTrac surveys 
  • Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
  • Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
  • Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
  • Ask PEAR Park rangers about the trees from my backyard or look at the Audubon site that Pixel shared. I didn't see any Rangers today :(
  • Go to airport to cash in my euros - I will go drop off Greg at the airport next month and do it then
  • Mend sliding door window screen - get cat resistant screening material?
  • Plant and water the tree
  • Plant the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant
  • Plant the oregano DONE
  • Track my and Greg's IRAs for the IRS
  • Download all February and March pictures from phone, Canon camera, and Panasonic camera to external drive
  • Reply to blog comments  
  • Purge the dresser in the upstairs hallway
  • Purge the top drawer of the file cabinet
  • File all the pending documents
  • Use brush on fridge coils
  • Schedule maintenance appointment for my SUV
  • Try making yogurt in yogurt maker
  • See if can mend Youngest Son former backpack straps
  • Read a library book in progress
  • Contact Juliet to schedule lunch this month
  • Preserve the  garden vegetables that are on my counter
  • Take cuttings of the basil and root them
  • Take cuttings of the jasmine and root them
  • Ask to take cuttings of the neighbor's hibiscus and root them
  • Sew headphones in place
  • Add bleach to furnace line
  • Order 2nd hose reel
  • Print copy of insurance card and give to Youngest Son to put in his wallet
  • Fold laundry
  • Put laundry away
  • Schedule credit card payments
  • Put trash and yard waste bins out - DONE

  • Youngest Son, as usual, packed a lunch to take to school and I dropped him off at school.  He'll take the bus home as he's not going to go to the AP Study Group.  Shoot, I forgot I meant to have him wait a bit and then practice driving home...

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work, the red cabbage didn't seem to have bothered his stomach last night so he's getting some more in his lunchbox today.

  • I set some chipotle chicken sausages to defrost. I'm going to do Mock Zuppa Toscana for dinner tonight. I need to remember to set the bread maker on so I can make bread to go with it. Or perhaps corn bread in the oven tonight...

  • Kellogg's emailed me a bonus code for 25 KFR points.

  • Swagbucks never replied to my complaint about the videos not earning SB from this past weekend, but automatic videos are back in my line-up this morning so I'm running them. Hopefully I'll remember to leave my laptop on when I leave for the park so I can keep earning (if it earns at all!).  I did the Daily Poll and checked the Deal of the Day for 2 SB. First goal is 70 SB. Update: the automatic videos are crediting but only 1 SB today so I'll be happy if I even get 20 SB.  Update: I had only earned 13 SB total when I came back from my walk!

  • I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

  • When Greg got to work, he realized that he had forgotten his backpack at home. It contains: his laptop (he had a PC at work so it's not critical), his exercise clothes (oh well) and his lunch.  Arrgh. He'll have to buy lunch today.   I put his lunchbox back in the fridge.

  • Greg's going on a business trip to Europe next month and the country he'll be visiting doesn't take euros so he'll have to change cash at the airport. Since he's leaving on a weekend and coming back on a weekend, I told him I'd just drive him and pick him up, and would exchange my Euros back into dollars at the same time, instead of making a special trip just for that (I suppose he could have done that too but I'd rather take care of it).

  • In talking to my daughter recently, she wasn't sure if her high school would be recognizing in any way the fact that she will have earned her A.A. at the same time as her high school diploma.  This morning, I saw an announcement on the website congratulating a student who won a scholarship. It seems to be those announcements are at the mercy of whichever teacher/administrator who happens to know about those.  My daughter, like me, isn't big on promoting herself.  However, I'm big on making sure that people who should be recognized, are.  So I emailed the Guidance Counselor for her grade, asking what, if any, recognition is planned for her. I understand that there might be only 2 high school students who are graduating with their A.A. next month from our high school! Not only that, but perhaps a website announcement might provide the inspiration and information needed by some kid who might not be aware of the dual enrollment program.  So I hope they do something for her.  Update: I heard back from the Guidance Counselor that she had left "numerous" messages on our home line (the one that's turned off and I almost never check the messages) to invite my daughter to a "Top Scholars" luncheon at the end of the month! Oops. She's allowed 2 guests. I texted my daughter to let her know and ask what she wanted to do.  She said she wanted to attend and would like to bring me and her dad as her guests.  Woohoo, free lunch, lol.

  • I drove to P.E.A.R. Park, which is about 12 miles away from my house.  No tolls, no admission fee. Sweet!  I took my time walking. I had a bottle of water and a pack of peanut butter crackers, thankfully, because I got hungry halfway through it!  I spent an hour and a half there, but only 1 hour walking (well, 59:21) for 3.63 miles.  As you can see, I stopped a lot!  Mostly to try to see birds in the trees (hard!) or to take pictures (easy!).  I had a great time!

  • On my way home, I stopped by the library, returned the book that I hadn't liked, picked up 2 books that were waiting for me, along with some coupon inserts from the donation box. Yay!

  • The Teen librarian asked me when my son would be able to conduct his D&D club this summer because she wanted to print flyers this week so go present the programs that they're planning at the local middle and high schools before the end of the year.  So I texted Greg to find out when he wanted to take his camping trip and he said he would work around the D&D Club. So the D&D dates are firmed up and also the camping trip dates are now. Woohoo! The librarian was thankful.

  • While I was at the library, an alert from the McDonald's app announced that the McDouble was only $1 today. Oooh, I was so hungry and the library is very close to McDonald's, so I swung by, I was in the drive-through lane, feeling guilty about being about to spend money when I was 2 minutes away from home, when I realized that the line was long anyway so I got out and went home. Woohoo, again!

  • Oh no, wait. I didn't go straight home!  I went to RaceTrac and redeemed a survey reward code for a free medium caffeine free Diet Coke.  I needed it!

  • Back home, the kittens were happy to see me. I was going to go sit outside to eat lunch, but then realized that I'd rather sit in the AC for a while so I fixed myself lunch and went to eat in the living room.  Lunch was a chicken salad sandwich, a side salad, and 2 clementines.

  • I was checking Twitter to see if RaceTrac replied to me (they didn't) and saw that it's National Library Workers Day today!  Happy Day to all the library workers who read my blog!  You are the best! I emailed my librarians as well :)
I replied to the tweet, praising my local librarians :)
  • I spent the rest of the afternoon looking through the more than 400 pictures that I took during my walk and deleting the ones that didn't turn out.

  • I started reading "$2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America".

  • For dinner, I made mock Zuppa Toscana. I used chipotle chicken sausages, the last 4 Russet potatoes that were getting a little soft, some collard greens, and some whipping cream from Trader Joe's. It was my last container, so I need to make it to a Trader Joe's soon!

  • Greg and I watched a few episodes of Seinfeld after dinner.

  • Sunpass: $25 (Greg's tolls, his Sunpass account replenished itself)
  • Cafeteria: $9.62 (Greg's lunch)

  • Coupon inserts from the donation pile at the library
  • 2 books borrowed from my library (free entertainment!)
  • Medium fountain drink from RaceTrac (with redemption of survey reward code)
  • Daughter invited to a free luncheon

  • Fed the kittens
  • Prepped Greg's breakfast
  • Packed his lunch
  • Drove my son to school
  • Put the trash/yard waste bins out for collection
  • Worked on Rewards programs
  • Trimmed a jalapeño pepper plant
  • Sprayed hibiscus for aphids
  • Talked to Greg on the phone
  • Put his lunch back into the fridge
  • Closed the windows and turned the AC back on
  • Left a note for my daughter
  • Replied to a blog comment
  • Emailed my daughter's guidance counselor
  • Drove to P.E.A.R. Park
  • Walked for 3.63 miles
  • Returned book at the library
  • Firmed up D&D Club dates for summer
  • Stopped by RaceTrac
  • Cuddled with kittens
  • Texted my Daughter
  • Fixed lunch
  • Went through all photos and deleted bad ones
  • Clipped coupons
  • Did the shredding
  • Started decluttering the printer stand
  • Cooked dinner


It almost 8 a.m. and I haven't spotted any hummingbirds in the backyard this morning. Yesterday it's almost all I saw :)

There was a brown bird in the crows' "nest" this morning for a while, singing its heart out, and then the crows returned and the brown bird flew off. I'm not sure that there is indeed a nest up there, but if there is, I hope it didn't kill the baby crows.

I couldn't get a great shot of the brown bird, you can barely see it at the top there, under the bare branch

Uh oh, one of the parents has returned!
It's strangely quiet in my own backyard, although I'm not spotting any stray cats.  The birds are singing but further down in the neighborhood.

Yesterday I spotted a volunteer tomato plant in the bin where the volunteer basil plant grew last year! Maybe I'll get a few free tomatoes this summer after all? Maybe in the fall. It's late for a tomato plants to grow. Here we start growing them in January.

I also saw a volunteer basil plant in the next bin over.

I had forgotten to trim the dead branches off the jalapeño plant that still hasn't died, yesterday, so I did it this morning.

Then I realized that my hibiscus was covered in nasty aphids, so I got the hose out and blasted the crap out of them. I don't use pesticides hardly ever, but the water method is very tedious and kind of ineffective as I'll have to do it all over tomorrow, probably, and the next day after, etc, etc.  I wonder if my neighbor ever worries about his hibiscus...

My neighbor's hibiscus
This lizard found a "cool" place to chill!

The first hummingbird showed up at the feeder at 8:45 a.m. but I spooked him by grabbing my camera. Oops. Don't worry little bird, I'm about to leave anyway. The backyard is about to be all yours!

And it was... later on this afternoon, Princess asked me to open the drapes in the Exercise Room so she could look at the feeders.  This little guy was there already... and stayed there for a long time, just sitting there and flitting his tongue in and out of its beak but without actually drinking any nectar!

The screen on the window made the picture fuzzy...

So I moved to the sliding door.  I observed him sitting there for 4 full minutes and, as I said, he was already sitting there when I opened the curtains!  I guess he was super tired.

Ah, there goes the neighborhood cat...

Tabby Kitty taking a nap.  LOL at his totally relaxed position!  I need to find the photo of him in the same position when he was much smaller...

Princess greeting my Daughter home.

Explorer, inviting me for a belly scratch!


The last time I was at P.E.A.R. Park was when I took Greg there on September 10th, last year.  So far, I'd only visited it in the summer and fall, and I was itching to see it in the Spring.

So let's talk about expectations and reality and the disconnect between the two, sometimes!

My expectation: P.E.A.R. Park was going to be covered in wildflowers in the Spring.  Reality?  It wasn't. We're having a drought!  I'm sure that has something to do with it.

Hmm, last year the path was covered in passion vine flowers!
 The only colors I could see were the blue of the sky (not a cloud!) and the green of the trees and some grass.  "Crap!", I told myself, "this is going to be a boring walk today!".

Then a little further down, I started hearing a bird.  I looked ahead and its red little body was flowing in the sunshine!

Boy, was he loud!  But gorgeous and happy.  So I started looking around a little more and suddenly spotted some yellow in a sea of dead grasses...

A closer look:

Lanceleaf Tickseed

 And then suddenly, my expectations started ramping up again!  And I wasn't disappointed. I saw lots of flowers. Not carpets of flowers, as I had expected, maybe that will be in May. But lots of variety:

Indian Blankets 

The first passion vine flower of the year!

Eastern Prickly Pear

I started thinking that perhaps I would see a bunny and a snake too.  The first time I went to P.E.A.R. Park, I had seen a rabbit crossing the trail right away but couldn't take a picture of it. And I had never seen a snake, despite the ranger warning me that sometimes they like sunning themselves on the trails.

Another little red friend showed up to sing me a song.  I love those cardinals, not only their color makes it pretty easy to see them, but most of them today perched themselves in leafless trees, unlike the myriad of other birds that I could hear but not see.  Cardinals are my new best friends!

The butterfly garden was full of volunteers hard at work so I didn't stop because I didn't feel like talking to anyone.  The path stretched ahead of me, and at the end of the road, a small forest bordering the Palatlakaha river.

The paths, just like last year, had a ton of huge ant nests who were pouring out of each nest.

And the passion vine seedlings were numerous on the paths too, and will produce those beautiful purple flowers that were everywhere last June.

The oaks are busy flowering too.  Better there than over my car, like in my driveway!

There were huge patches of sandberries.  This bug seemed to cover the large pink one.

Now I had reached the forest. I could turn left and follow the "River Trail" but I knew there probably wouldn't be much to see and there was quite a bit of noise coming from there. It ended up being maintenance work on the golf course bordering the property beyond the river.

So I decided to turn right and follow the inner circular trail around the property instead.

There was a breeze from time to time and it wasn't too hot, so the walk was enjoyable, despite the lack of spectacular views.

A millipede crossed my path. Those things are fast!

I put a stick across its path to see if it would climb it, but he elected to walk around.

The river and the woods were on my right and I could hear lots of birds.

There are several bird nesting boxes on the property, each protected from snakes by a special guard casing.

Carolina Desert Chicory

To my right... a sea of dead grasses and a few trees.

And then suddenly, in a bend... BAM!

Phlox!  I'd been seeing it in ditches for several weeks now and really wanted to take pictures of it because I just love phlox and the fact that it grows wild in our ditches in the spring. I love their colors!

This tree reminded me of a Christmas tree with candles on top!

I was desperate to spot any birds.  I could hear their calls, it was driving me crazy!  The trees seemed alive with bird calls!

So when I saw this "detour" to the River Trail, I decided to go explore under the canopy.

Right after I took this picture, a lady came walking on the River Trail. I hope I didn't scare her too badly as I don't think she expected to see anyone. I sure didn't!

I did see a bird under the palmetto saw but it moved before I could figure out how to focus on it...

The river was covered in algae. So what's new?!

When I looked up, I saw woodpecker.  Cardinals, woodpeckers, just like being in... my own backyard!

So I could continue on the River Trail...

Or I could go back on the trail I had been following.  I decided to do that.

But I could veer to the right back towards where I had parked,

Or continue the way I had been going, around the park. I decided to do that.

More phlox!

Southern Fleabane

I heard a couple of hawks call up abpve so I tried taking their picture but the sun was high in the sky so it didn't pan out...  I had been so busy looking up, that I didn't notice the snake that was crossing my path!  I just saw the end of its tail disappearing very quickly in the brush on my left.  I'm just glad I didn't step on it!

No I don't get tired of taking pictures of phlox!

White phlox!

There were people at the observation pavilion so I skipped it.

Trumpet Honeysuckle


Indian Blankets

I wonder what's in the pods! Updated on 8/25/17: It's definitely "Pinewoods Milkweed"!  Thanks to those of you who pointed me in the right direction! (source: Florida Wildflowers, a Comprehensive Guide, p 157)


Florida Green Eyes

I wish I knew what plant this is!
 I finally reached the northern end of the park, where there are pavilions...

Tennis courts...

Several dogs parks (in the back!)

A playground...

A soccer field...

Part of the trail allows dogs on a leash. Of course, I ran into someone with their dog OFF its leash.

At that point, the trail was running parallel to US 27 and the noise of traffic was kind of loud.

But then it became wooded again.

I heard more bird calls and stood there for a while, trying to spot them...

Arrgh, why can't I see anything?!

 Finally I spotted something... it was another woodpecker!

 The trail split in two again and I decided to go left.

This little copse of trees ended up being Hercules Clubs.

And then I finally saw a "different" bird!

Eastern Prickly Pear

Aquatic Milkweed

What can I say?  I was hungry!

I finally got to the area where there are several specimen of trees, most of which are identified. I was hoping to be able to identify the 3 trees growing in my backyard.

I had brought a branch from the trees in my backyard. I compared it to a Southern Magnolia.  The leaves are very similar but are not dispersed in the same pattern on the branches at all.  So I'm not sure if it's a different type of magnolia or a completely different tree.

A flock of small birds landed in this tree, but I couldn't see what kind of birds they were... and they flew off when I approached.

I decided to keep walking a while longer.

This black and white bird had the most beautiful and varied song. It would perch itself in a tree, sing, then jump up in the air, land in the tree again, and continue singing. It was hysterical!

I think it was a Northern Mockingbird

Then a small palm warbler landed in the palm! But it moved so my picture isn't great.
The bird is in the bottom right corner, in case you were wondering. It has a yellow bottom.

Eastern Phoebe?!?

I reached the butterfly garden. All the volunteers were gone.  There weren't any butterflies there, though!

Detail of the roof of the butterfly garden pavilion

Northern Mockingbird. I think

The rain barrels outside the other butterfly garden area, near the parking lot.

My thoughts, exactly!
It really was a lovely walk. I was surprised that I didn't break 4 miles, though. I guess I stood around listening to bird calls much longer than I had realized!


  1. Hi Nathalie - Long time since I last commented. I do enjoy your posts everyday, but I don't often comment on many of the blogs I follow. Referencing the question about the pods - I wonder if they aren't a type of milkweed? We have milkweed here in Minnesota, but the pods are not smooth - they have little prickly points on them, but google showed smoother pod milkweed in Texas, so maybe? As you may already know, the milkweed is necessary for Monarch butterflies. The caterpillars eat the leaves etc. Much of the landscape has changed over the years so milkweed is not as prevalent as it used to be which is of much concern with regard to the Monarchs. When I read your posts, I often think we are sisters from another mother, as you share things that I totally relate to. I love all the pictures that you post. Especially from your backyard and the various walks you and your husband go on. Really long post today and really enjoyed your pictures. Have a great day. Ranee (MN)

    1. Hi Ranee! Wow, I was just thinking about you not so long ago, wondering how you were doing! How are things in Minnesota? Are you having spring weather yet?

      Hmm, I didn't think of milkweed. The one I had in pots at home didn't look like that but it could be a different variety. I guess I'll have to go back in a few weeks and try to see if I can find it again to see what flowered!

      I'm so glad to hear you're enjoying the pictures! I wish you had a blog so I could look at your pictures too, lol. Still don't want to start one?

    2. Ranee - I finally confirmed, with a new Florida wildflowers guide, that you were right and it was indeed "Pinewoods Milkweed". Thanks so much for pointing me in the right direction!

  2. Hi Nathalie - I loved this photo-filled post! It looks like you spent a beautiful day out in nature :)

    1. Hi Daisy! I'm glad you enjoyed my walk as much as I did!

  3. A friend brought back some passion flower seeds from CA for me if I wanted to plant them at my old place. However, after I read about how badly then can spread, I decided against them. Enjoyed your pictures. You're becoming a regular nature photographer.

    1. It really do seem to spread and drape itself over other plants. It is a vine, after all. Down here, they're the host flower for the the Zebra Longwing and the Gulf Fritillary butterflies.

      The ranger at P.E.A.R park gave me a plant for my garden last year, told me to just plant it and that it wouldn't really need anything else but it didn't survive the transplant. I've a horrible black thumb when it comes to flowering plants :(

  4. Those pods look a lot like milkweed pods; if so, then they'll be filled with seeds and their silky filaments. That was a nice walk! I'm glad you found lots of flowers to photograph and I loved seeing all the photos. Thank you for sharing them with us. I feel like I went on the walk with you!

    1. Wow, well you're the 2nd person to say "milkweed" so it probably is. The leaves look nothing like the milkweed that I bought at Lowe's, but since there are several varieties of it, it doesn't mean anything I guess. I hope I get to see what plant it was once it flowers! I kind of remember where it was located on the trail...

    2. Bless - You were right! "Pinewoods Milkweed", according to the Florida Wildflowers guide that I just borrowed from the library this week! It has almost the exact same picture as mine so I'm sure. Woohoo! Thanks for your help in identifying this. I had never seen such milkweed before.

  5. Now this book sounds intriguing...2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America. Let us know how you like it and what you think of it!

    And I agree, your walk sounded like it was much longer than it ended up being. I wish I had your knowledge about all the birds and plants here in central Florida!

    1. I dis read it 2 nights ago and talked about it a bit in yesterday's post (4/21). Like Susan mentioned, I thought it would be a book with tips about living frugally, but it was actually a book about abject poverty in the USA and the history of welfare. Interesting but a tough read.

      As for my "knowledge", you know I've very forgetful. I can look up a flower's name dozens of times and still don't remember what it's called when I'm in the field, so to speak! So I snap pictures and then use my reference books to figure out what I took pictures of. When I'm too tired, as I was after this particular walk, I just skip captioning the pictures or I take a guess (but then note that it's a guess). The 3 books I use the most are the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida (I think you mentioned previously that you had it as well), "Wildflowers of Florida Field Guide" and "Birds of Florida Field Guide".


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