Adventures beyond time

Adventures beyond time

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Color

Each year the red maple tree near our shed in Cedar Key seems to get colorful just in time for Christmas. Most of our other trees are palms and evergreen oaks, so this red and yellow display provides a cheering contrast.

We missed a holiday opportunity with another of our trees. Seedling sand pine trees are always popping up in the yard, and we routinely pull them up with the abundant other weeds. This year we noticed that one of the fast-growing trees had escaped our attention and made it to nearly six feet tall. So, belatedly we removed it. With just a bit of foresight, we could have left it alone for a few more months and had it for a fresh-cut Christmas tree.

Our Red Maple

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dressing up the Cedar Key House

Those who know us well are aware that we tend to be financially conservative and environmentally sensitive. Nor are we big spenders. None of these qualities would appear to apply to people who own a house on a barrier island. However, we do own a house on Cedar Key, Florida, having acquired it more or less by chance. Getting the place wasn’t part of a long-range plan or the dream of a lifetime, but to our surprise over the past five years we have enjoyed it immensely. Once a week or so we escape into a new and alluring world, only an hour away, but far removed from the daily routines and relative bustle of Gainesville. 
This year we have dressed up the Cedar Key house in two ways, just in time for the holidays. 
 First, just after Thanksgiving we took advantage of a visit from Pam and James to install (James actually did the installation) a new lavatory in the main bathroom. The old one was funky and we discovered it even had a pedigree of sorts. After removing it we found a mark on the underside indicating that it was made in 1948. Venerable as it was, unfortunately its style was 40s modern. It seemed incongruous with our claw foot tub and did nothing for our decor. We’re enjoying the new one and keeping the old one for some other use. 

Then this weekend we set up an early Christmas gift—an electric space heater that is also a faux wood-burning stove. It has already served us, last night taking off a slight chill as we enjoyed an otherwise lovely evening.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jake and Walking

Jake with Splint - 2007
Until 2008 our golden retriever Jake was a good walker, often logging six or more miles with us. Then around age eight he suffered a broken foot. He walked less with us in the Adirondacks that year and never regained the stamina we had seen earlier. We suspected arthritis, and since have kept him well-dosed with remedies. 

By 2009, abetted by cool temperatures, he managed the four-mile loop around Star Lake on two or three occasions. However by 2010 his walking had deteriorated to the point that we didn’t even attempt to walk him around the lake, settling for half-mile out-and-back walks. As summer turned to fall and we were back in Florida, he was good for no more than a half-mile in all, often signaling the desire to return home after a few hundred yards. His walking days were over, we believed.
More recently, close to his eleventh birthday (
December 5), Jake surprised us by rediscovering the pleasures of walking. Several times since he has led us on three-mile treks, staying in front and leading us onward (if we had known how far we would be going, we might have worn stouter shoes).
We are led to wonder whether Jake’s joints and muscles have veered between sickness and health in yo-yo like oscillations, or (more likely) can it be our incompetence as dog doctors that is responsible? His physical strength may (like ours) be somewhat diminished with age. But maybe his joints-muscles-bones-tendons-ligaments-etc. are in fine shape, and he just doesn’t like to exercise when it is warm out. We think maybe that’s it; his physical prowess is far better than we believed, and our diagnostic skills are far worse than we imagined. We lament our failings in that department a bit, but are pleased that Jake can again accompany us on long walks—if only when it is cold out and we thin-blooded humans find it miserable.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chestnuts Roasting

We have fun neighbors. Last night Ralph and Chris organized a cul de sac party for us. And, they roasted the chestnuts seen here. Total success. I don't know why roasting chestnuts have that burned smell they have in NYC, but these smelled and tasted delightful.
Earlier in the day, Pam and James, Russ and I hiked the La Chua Trail on Paynes Prairie. Among other things, we saw sand-hill cranes, wild horses, alligators, great blue-, little blue-, and black-crowned night herons, anhingas, ibises and glossy ibises, alligators, turtles, a sora rail, and marsh hawks.

sora rail nearest to you
Little Blue Heron

wild horses

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On the Suwannee River

Yesterday was the Great Suwannee River Cleanup. We stayed on shore, welcomed back all the trash collectors, helped unload the boats, and weighed and recorded the stuff collected. More than 3,000 pounds was gathered in about 3 hours on the water, with about 85 volunteers (all with wet feet, some with wet clothes from falling are jumping in the river to rescue things like boats that tried to float off.) What did we find? Fuel tanks, 55 gallon barrels, chairs, lots of tires, huge pieces of styrofoam (average weight--80 pounds each, shoes, and more expectable, random junk. I posted lots of photos on the Friends of the Refuges site. Check it out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Great Birthday

I had a great birthday celebration yesterday. We went to the Annual Holiday Interagency Luncheon at the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. Many of Russ's former colleagues were there, as well as many of our new friends from the friends of the Refuges.

In the evening, we went to dinner at the Island Room for the Wednesday special. Not only was it a gorgeous, cool evening sitting by the window looking out over the Gulf, but we had oyster stew, roast duck with cooked to just the right firmness veggies, pumpkin cheesecake, and wine for less than $20 a piece! Now that is a special!

This morning we ate waffles cooked in my new WaringPro and read the paper on my new Kindle...well that's an exaggeration. We couldn't actually download over in Cedar Key so that was just an imagined treat for the next visit, after downloading back in the world of connectivity.
Sunset on the way to the restaurant

Celebrating with Jake

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving Day is a birthday bonanza in the family: MaryJo, Mike Gage, and Gramma Mae. Plus Karen and Vic's Anniversary. Lots to be thankful for, before we even start counting what has come our way this year.

We started our Thanksgiving Day with morning walk at gorgeous autumnal San Felsaco Hammock, near home. We took the 5.6 mile loop and enjoyed some Florida-style hills, some pine forest, and some natural grow woods. The weather was perfect; we did not even need long sleeves. The animals were hiding at the beginning. But as the trail warmed up some tree lizards came out to bask, then the woodpeckers appeared, and finally four armadillos, all of whom posed for photos.

Back home we completed the cooking that we'd started on Wednesday. It was a Bon Apetit marathon two-day meal preparation, resulting in our best, most juicy turkey ever; great stuffing made with a three pound mix of Anaheim, poblano, and jalapeno peppers, Monterey Jack cheese, and masa corn bread; maple syrup basted butternut squash; new potatoes roasted with onions and garlic; and blueberry-cranberry pie! Worth all the chopping and sauteeing, and almost all the dish-washing. 
Friday and Saturday we spent in Cedar Key. The Community Tree Lighting and sing-along were Friday at the beach and the Jingle Bell Hop on Saturday. The holidays are definitely here, island style.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cedar Key Gearing Up for The Winter Season

The Artist Poses with Her Work
Cedar Key is always sleepy in some ways, and almost always hopping in others. At this time of year, many seasonal residents are returning and the social scene gears up.

The Cedar Key Arts Center began its 2010-2011 Season Saturday Night, November 20, with the opening of "Mosaic Magic" by Valerie Bretl. She is a local artist and often uses tiles made by another local artist, Amy Gernhardt, to create her works. Valerie has just had a piece chosen for an international juried show in Austin in a few months. Inspired by the beauty and intimacy of our natural surroundings, she has transformed the ancient art of mosaics with her own contemporary style that flows between the real and the surreal. The exhibit featured 20 new creations. Just because we are on an island in the Gulf, and miles from the nearest chain restaurant or shop not owned by local folks doesn't mean we are short of pretty nifty artists.

After the opening, we wandered over to the Black Dog Wine and Tables with friends to sit on the deck outdoors.  The water slapped against the shore and a nearly full moon lite up the Gulf. Pretty good way to spend a Saturday evening.

This website shows a couple of the art pieces:

This one is the featured artist:

And this one is the artist whose tiles are sometimes used in the mosaics:

A Cedar Key Evening 11-20-2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fall Decorations in Cedar Key

It seems as if we just put up our fall decorations and it is already time to think about when we will be packing them away and getting out our Christmas finery. The term "finery" may be a bit overblown because our recent practice has been to retire some of our less favored ornaments and migrate them to Cedar Key. This seems to us to be a good match because we think cottages and funky decorating seem somehow to go together.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cheese and Random Ferments!

Drum roll, Please!!!! Today we are rolling out a new blog...Cheese and Random Ferments. After The Summer of a Thousand Cheeses was published last June, we thought our cheese journey would be essentially complete. Wrong!

We keep meeting new cheesemakers, finding new cheesemongers, trying new cheeses, learning new ways that America's cheese revolution is contributing to, and building on, new food attitudes among Americans. Until it is time for a second edition of the book, or a new book, we are sharing these people, places, and discoveries on Cheese and Random Ferments.

What fun it has been to get started. We are eager to hear your reactions to the posts...and to the design (colors, text size, placement of links, tone of voice) of the blog.

As it turns out there are some stories fermenting in our lives that are not about cheese. Those are the "random ferments" referred to in the blog's title. We love them too, and so have given them their own sub-blog called Random Ferments. It is easy to link from any of our four blogs to the others. Comments are more than welcome, they are eagerly sought!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seafood Festival 2010 in Cedar Key

Pam and James came for Seafood Festival and the weekend. Great fun. We went to the Neptune Bar for the live music Friday and sang along with "We Love This Bar," the favorite of the audience. We helped set up the tent for the Friends of the Refuges booth and volunteered there for a bit. We bought cool craft offerings from the vendors.We hiked the Dennis Creek Trail and took a Tidewater Tour to the Suwannee River. Best of all, we sat on the breezeway and enjoyed the beautiful evening weather and good company.

Celebrating with Aunt Pat

I had a wonderful visit with Aunt Pat for her 90th birthday celebration. She and I and Carol hung out in Dallas for a few days, then rode with Karen and Vic to Ellen's in Austin for a super party, featuring Trent's brisket (cooked outdoors for 12 hours), and a groaning board of other delightful foods, plus 16mm movies in the backyard after dark.

Aunt Pat, Ellen and Trent, and Karen and Vic's son Tony (in his party hat) are in the photo below. At he bottom is a photo of the a part of the back yard in its party attire.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kayaking to Atsena Otie

Russ and I joined about 20 people for the Hidden Coast Paddling Week kayak trip to the island of Atsena Otie. It is a 2.7 mile paddle. We started on the beach in Cedar Key, paddled over choppy waters to the beach on the island and took a break to swim (me...too many mosquitoes inland for me) or hike (most of the other folks) and have a little picnic time. Then we paddled around the island and back through even choppier waters to Cedar Key. As you might imagine, we waited to take pictures until we were past the waves and safely near shore, in the flat water. 

Atsena Otie is the original site of the town of Cedar Key. When the town was washed away by a hurricane in the 1890s, it was rebuilt in its current location on an island closer to the mainland. The day was sunny and lovely...and wore us out! There have been other paddling events all this week on the Suwannee River and various creeks. Maybe next year we'll do more than one day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hoh River Trail in the Sunny Rain Forest

My definition of an awesome day might be: Sunny, 60s for hiking, blue sky, puffy clouds, snow capped mountains in the distance, not too steep hills along the trail. Bingo.

Today we drove to the Hoh Rain Forest, and it did not rain. Perfect weather. Fantastic trail. We hiked a bit more than 6 miles after having stopped at Kalaloch Lodge for wonderful brunch. The first photo is at Kalaloch, on a cliff over the beach/shore. The rest are along the trail at sunny Hoh Rain Forest.