Saturday, January 24, 2015

Florida Memories

We've been home a week. Back to snow and work and play and regular life.

I finally downloaded some photos from my phone (my phone! Who'd have thought that a decade or so ago?) 

The Husband, walking through sea breeze mist.

Classic old downtown Daytona. Note the heavy growth of air ferns on the palms.

The Gang of Ponce Inlet.
Brown pelicans enjoying a mid-day gossip, looking for opportunities to steal bait.
Also watched dolphins placing in the inlet just to the left of here.

Cruising on the St Johns River with an excellent pilot/wildlife guide named Rebecca.

Alligator. Just a little one, but still - a wild alligator.
Viewing tip - look for something that looks like tire tread.

A Manatee! One of my goals, to see wild manatees.
This one is in Blue Springs State Park,
waiting out the cold temperatures with a few hundred (yes, hundreds)
 other manatee plus tilapia and other warm-water fish.

Kennedy Space Centre. What's not to like about a place with BIG rockets?

The original Cape Canaveral command centre, relocated in the Saturn 5 rocket building.
So cool for children of the Space Race era.

A true OMG moment - an original, all-there Saturn 5 rocket. Words fail me.

and yes, THE Atlantis space shuttle, the one that flew so many missions into space.

Ponce Inlet lighthouse, tallest in Florida and ALL BRICK.
We did not climb to the top.

Lighthouse lamps, including the original Ponce lamp on the floor to the front right.
These two big ones are 16.5 ft high. I think this exhibit was a highlight for The Husband.

Final morning view from our balcony. What's not to like.
Next move, I'm finding a place by the ocean.

It was nice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

palmetto thoughts

So today we went on a cruise on the St. Johns River. Saw manatees, alligators, snowy egrets and much more.

And when the guide asked us (half the passengers were Floridians) what the official state tree is (because they were all along the way) I was the only one who knew it's the palmetto palm.

What's up with that? I'm not even an American!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Office Wildlife Wrangler

There's a steady snowfall taking place outside this morning with what I can only conclude is Nature's attempt to bury our valley.

And so naturally I'm thinking about spiders.

We have a spider that's taken up residence in our en suite bath for the winter. I have no problem with that as she (all spiders are 'she') is unobtrusive ... well, other than being a black speck against an off-white surface that I can see even without my glasses on because I tend not to wear my glasses whilst in the shower. In fact, I'm not even sure what kind of spider she is, as per the sans glasses thing. She's a bathroom spider.

I don't know from spiders except in the general groupings: orb spiders, grass spiders (the most glorious webs in the fields, bejewelled with dew in early autumn mornings), wolf spiders, jumping spiders, trapdoor spiders (all three of which the children and I took joy in teasing, I'm somewhat abashed to admit), kamikaze spiders (I'm sure that's not the real name, but we called them that when they left silk threads trailing down from the 18 ft ceiling in our log house up north) and basement spiders.

One spider I do know the exact name of and can identify at sight is the black widow spider. Apparently its preferred habitats are the fuse panel cabinet and women's lavatory of our office building, so we've become something of experts on that particular species.

I had to kill one at work the other day. It was lurking near the floor in the side entrance - a small passageway where the doors to the office in the front, the press out back and the editorial department upstairs all meet.

I'd seen it there several days before. What with the cold temperatures and all, it wasn't moving very fast. Perhaps it had come out of its hidey hole seeking whatever relative warmth the passageway had to offer. Anyway, Stephanie spied it enroute to editorial and let out a shriek, standing paralyzed with fright in the door way.


So I went to save her from the big bad spider. Unfortunately I didn't have many options: they are reportable because of their venomous danger (probably won't kill you but you'll be very sick), and putting it outside would have been killed it as quickly as I did ... with my shoe.

I am the office Wildlife Wrangler.

Shortly after starting work at the newspaper, I not once but twice removed mice from the office that had trapped themselves in waste baskets ("Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" - old joke from a Lifeline commercial.). A stern lecture to the pretty little thing who regularly left alarming (and often odorous) amounts of food waste in her trash container resolved that problem. On the plus side, I'll probably never again see the speed and agility with which a woman can sprint in 7 inch heels. It was awesome.

 I was also required to remove a sweet Little Brown bat from the aforementioned passageway a while ago. Some renovations were in progress and the wee fellow found entrance through a temporary space left at the top of the door. Both male and female voices cried out in alarm.

People - get a grip.

He was agitated enough by their attempts to knock him down (and do what with it then? Hmm?) that I figured he'd bite me if I tried to pick him up with my hands, and I didn't have my leather work gloves with me. So I found a little cardboard box, tore off a piece of the flap and gentle corralled him in the box, then took him to the back of the lot and left him there. A few minutes later, when he'd calmed down, he took flight and that was that.

They really are sweet. I adore bats. And I greatly appreciate their place in the ecosystem.

I'm looking forward to the day when an elephant wanders into the press out back.