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