Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Reporting on the Landscape Project

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places ...
Psalm 16:6a

"Before" (picture taken on Memorial Day)

Another goal with regard to this house has been crossed off the "To Do" list. 

painted lines made by the contractor

It continues to be an interesting study for us to compare how things are done by Florida homeowners in comparison to Colorado. Climate, cost of living, and lifestyles make a significant difference. Season of life (i.e. young newlyweds versus the retirement years) also plays into decisions made. 

orange paint lines outlining the proposed patio
Like many of our neighbors, we decided the two-car driveway was a little too narrow. And while we were pondering that, the walk up to the front door was small, too. 

It's also popular around here to have concrete curbing installed a couple of feet out from the foundation of the house with mulch or rock up next to the foundation. It's a tidy look and is very low-maintenance for retirees who are looking for simpler ways to keep the outside looking good at all times.

The back yard needed a patio, too, so we wouldn't be stepping directly onto the grass when exiting the screened-in back porch. 

Beloved got estimates from three contractors and chose the one who seems to be most popular in our community. He wasn't the lowest bid, but we could see his work is excellent and his crew dependable. 

It appears we "chose wisely" (smile -- I'm quoting a phrase from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). 

creating the curb around the back patio

The process for creating the curbing was interesting. The man in the center of the picture above would shovel the concrete mixture (already tinted to the shade of our choice) into the hopper of the machine. The man on the left would slowly pull the machine (called "Lil' Bubba") toward himself while the perfectly-formed curbing came out the back -- sorta like making sausage!  The man on the right followed along with a wagon holding more of the concrete mixture.

curbing around the front of the house and along the north side
While creating the curbing, they made drain gutters, too. The curbing started at the front of the house, went alongside the north side to the back, around the paver patio over to the south side and then back to the front of the house again.

I've added clip art hands to iindicate the design we chose
While the concrete curbs are still wet, an impression is made with a design of our choosing to add texture. 

south side of house

We had them swing out farther from the foundation on one side of the house to accommodate the heat pump and bushes. We had a Bottle Brush (Callistemon) bush planted outside the guest room window for added privacy.
(Internet photo)
One of our neighbors has planted a Bottle Brush alongside his house, positioned so I can see it perfectly from my kitchen window. We also had a much taller one in the backyard of our house in Jacksonville. It's a beautiful bush/tree (depending how you trim it) with the most gorgeous bottle-brush shaped deep red flowers that are as brightly-colored as big fat strawberries. I just love them!

completed paver patio in back yard with curbing and mulch
We brought a hot pink Geranium with us from Jacksonville (red pot) and will gradually be adding more large pots with flowers for both the front and the back areas.

a beautiful purchase from Home Depot's garden center
We've got Begonias and Caladiums transplanted from Home Depot into large pots we brought from the previous house. I'm loving all the color!

"After" picture taken last weekend
We are very pleased with what our contractor has done for us. Widening the sidewalk with the pavers just looks more welcoming.  

In this picture you can see just one milky white Magnolia flower on the tree outside of Beloved's study window. But upon closer inspection you would see many more flowers and new buds. 

Magnolia trees do very well in this part of the country. They line the mile-long median of the street entering our community and then  the rosy pink Crepe Myrtles take over as we approach the entrance gate. Once through the gate, the median is covered with the intoxicating scent of white-flowered Jasmine and more tall shade trees. To me, Jasmine (and Gardenias, too) smell like falling in love!

view of our back yard from the screened in porch with a dense row of Cedar trees providing privacy
Before I close this out, I should mention our back porch buddies. We no longer have live pets but I don't mind the statuary kind (not too many, however). Porch Puppy guarded our front door at The Brown Bungalow in Colorado and in Jacksonville. Now he sits on the bench Beloved made for me on the back porch. By the way, if he looks familiar, we bought him from Lowe's in Castle Rock. The sign hanging from his mouth says, "Welcome." I see more of his kind from time to time when I'm shopping.

My rooster is on the other end of the bench. He came from Hobby Lobby in Jacksonville and kept watch on our back porch. When we packed up to move, I positioned him carefully in one of the large plastic bins that held Christmas decorations and then promptly forgot about him! 

We had been in this house for two months before I realized he had not been unpacked. I looked for him high and low and finally remembered he was in our storage locker with the Christmas stuff, just waiting for me to come get  him!

Okay, we're done with the landscaping tour!

Until next time... Oh wait! Read on, please!

My proofreader (Beloved) just informed me that I forgot to include pictures of the driveway with it's pavers.  So here it is:

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Glass Bottom Boat

On Saturday of Father's Day weekend, there was a break between thunderstorms that allowed us to visit Silver Springs State Park, here in our new hometown of Ocala, Florida. Long before Disney, Sea World, Universal, and all the other giant parks began drawing in the crowds (and money) to Central Florida, Silver Springs was Florida's first tourist attraction. 

One of the largest artesian springs in the world is right here in our back yard (so to speak; to be accurate, it is 20 miles from our front door, on the opposite side of town).

harbor for the glass bottom boats on the Silver River
At one time there was a man-made amusement park on this land with a roller coaster and such, but after  businessmen brought in the more flashy entertainments to Orlando (about 90 minutes to the south), the tourist dollars abandoned the natural beauty and that part of Silver Springs deteriorated and eventually was removed.

Cormorants in the trees
Maybe that was just as well for the residents of the park, so they could live in peace. It's also an excellent respite from the more fast-paced venues.

We had been advised to visit the park's glass bottom boats on a sunny day to insure the best view of fish and the natural springs.

sign above the ticket booth

The prices are reasonable. You can enter the park for $2 per person (slightly less for seniors) and walk the wide, paved nature trails. There are lots of benches and roofed areas for resting in addition to the shade of the massive Live Oak trees. 

one of the several glass bottom tour boats
There are two tours. One is for 30 minutes and the other is more like 90 minutes. We opted for the shorter one this time but it was packed full of information, amazing sights, and a comedian for our guide. It was great.

looking through the glass

If you've not been on a glass-bottom boat before, there's a big window in the middle of the floor of the boat with bench seating on the two long sides. You take your seat and rest your knees against the frame of the window to look down in front of yourself. The ride is a pleasing glide through the water, not noisy.

looking through the glass bottom to the bottom of the river
The tour gave us a clear view of the sea grasses, fish, turtles, and limestone springs where fresh water is continually rising up. We even got to see a bird (a Cormorant) dive from the air into the water and then swim underneath our boat! Watching a bird swim under the boat -- I thought that was pretty amazing.

one of two gators we saw that day; this one about 10 feet long from nose to tail tip

Our boat captain explained the history of the park, directed our attention to much wildlife both above and below the water, as well as some sunken boats that have been there for a very long time. 

lots of well-maintained walking paths
After the boat ride, we walked some of the paths to enjoy the gardens, trees, and more wildlife. We also marveled that a lot of movies have been made there. Most notably,  Tarzan with Johnnie Weismuller, as well as some of the Sea Hunt television serious with Lloyd Bridges, and even something with Burt Reynolds  and others.

a helpful sign
We did not see any of the tree monkeys leftover from the Tarzan movies, which is just as well. I hear they do not have good manners at all.

my collage of the flowers
While I don't know the names of most of the flowers, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them up close. These are the ones that were easiest to photograph.

arbor used for shade and wedding pictures
I do know from a previous visit here in early spring that this structure is covered with Wisteria, which was even more stunning when in bloom. The gnarled trunks of the vines wrapped around the support posts was a fascination to Beloved.

a Cormorant on a log over the water
Cormorants are comical to us. This one was so busy preening himself that I finally had to just take his picture and move on. When they aren't diving into the water (to swim under the glass bottom boats), they will stand on a log for long periods of time with their wings outstretched. They look like they are drying out their armpits! That makes me smile. 

chicken lettuce wraps
In addition to the boats, walking paths, and so much nature to enjoy, there is a long building with a restaurant, an ice cream place, an educational learning center, a gift shop, and large very clean rest rooms. Picnic tables are in the sunshine, under the huge shade trees, and under porch roofs. 

the restaurants and shops
When one wants to see "Old Florida," as the locals call it, this is the perfect place to visit. 

Until next time ...

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Men in My Life

(left to right) Beloved, Gray Beard, Web Designer, and Surfer Boy
(aka) my husband, our son #1, our son #2, and our son-in-law

Another Father's Day weekend is here. What I can say that I haven't already shared? 

Pictures. I'll share fun pictures of some of the men in my life.  

First, of course is the very first man to hold my heart, who taught me the basics of life and launched me into adulthood...

Daddy walked me down the aisle
After a few boyfriends in my teen years, I met this one just out of high school ...

Beloved: then

He did the math to convince my daddy we could afford to get married before he completed his Bachelor's Degree and the rest is some pretty wonderful history.

Beloved: now

Also there was my father-in-law, a man who was humble and kind.

(L-R) my father-in-law, us, my parents
With the college years behind us and Beloved's new job as a Lieutenant in the Air Force, our family began with Son #1...

Son #1
I call him "Gray Beard" on this blog because ...

stuffing his birthday money into his beard
He can grow a pretty hairy face when he wants to! He's a lot like his dad in some respects and has also become an extensive  world-traveler.

About two years after his birth came Son #2 ...

Son #2
This son shares some of my interests such as cooking and artsy creativity. I refer to him on this blog as "Web Designer" because that is one of the many things he and his wife do with their home-based, free-lance careers.

Web Designer and The Lil' Red-Haired Girl
He has also become a horseman through the influence of his wife.

our son-in-law
Surfer Boy married our daughter and created a happy place in  our hearts. We love him for the way he cherishes our daughter and their children...

Surfer Boy with his son, our Grandson #4
and because he is an all-around nice guy!

There are many more good males in my family (a host of grandsons, a nephew, three nephews-in-law, and my two brothers-in-law) but I don't have enough really good pictures of all of them to do them justice, so I'll just quit here and say I am one very blessed woman to have so many good men in my life.

My prayer for every one of them is from Psalm 37:23 (NIV)

The Lord makes firm the steps 
of the one who delights in Him.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A Saturated Saturday

My homemade soup and grilled cheese by Chef Beloved
a perfect lunch for a rainy day
We woke this Saturday morning at 5a.m. to HARD rain on the roof, thunder and lightening. What blessing it is to have no particular place to go when the water is gushing down like that. I love Florida rain storms (except when there's a dangerous hurricane involved, of course). 

Most of the time we don't get hail, which is one of my most-disliked kinds of weather. We've been through some bad hail storms, one in particular on my son's birthday in July when the ice was so big it sounded like hammers falling all over the roof of our house. The baseball-sized hail smashed and shredded my Shasta Daisies in the front yard, dented Beloved's pick-up truck in the driveway, and necessitated a new roof on our brand new house. That was in Colorado Springs and it's just something you learn to live with in that part of the country.

Moving back to the current day, our landscaping company came out this week. After verifying the plans with us, orange paint was used to designate the work areas:

I call it Lawn Graffiti. Due to it's temporary purpose, our HOA allows it. (smile) The next day they came back to dig up grass, which was an interesting conundrum for us. Apparently our lawn has picked up a fungus that is pretty common around here, possibly from the blades of our lawn service equipment.... (sigh! Let it go Barb,  let it go). 

But as Beloved observed, a lot of the grass that got dug up this week was the good stuff, and the infected parts are still there. He asked if maybe they could replace the bad with the good, but that would involve more time and equipment, manpower, etcetera so, no. Can't do that. Ah well. We had already lined up another professional to deal with the problem after this current project is behind us.

Due to the rains that began late yesterday, work outside is at a standstill. We have a mote all around our house, filled with rainwater that is expected to fall in heavy amounts for the next ten days or so. Not sure how much progress will be made during that time. But we needed the rain, so it's really okay. Let's go inside.

My regular readers will remember the plate rack in our family room. Although I've been satisfied with the deep red dishes found dirt-cheap at the thrift store, this week I decided they were a little small. The quick fix for that was to place my Christmas stoneware behind them, hiding the lovely poinsettia but relying on the red border of the larger plates to supply a pleasing backdrop for the smaller plates. Much better. I like that.

Then you see that blank wall area under the painting from Good Will, to the left of the plate rack. That is just above the couch. Blank areas call to me, asking for embellishment. While buying a wall shelf at Hobby Lobby the other day, I came across the perfect solution for that blank portion of wall.

The wording is Vinyl Lettering Wall Art. I've used this product in our last 3 houses and love it with the notable exception that after it is [very easily] removed from a wall (as in when one has sold the house and is moving away), the lettering is not re-useable. Yes, one could use stencil paints (and before my terrible shoulder injury ten years ago, I was a stenciling queen!), but this works well and takes only minutes to accomplish. 

found at Hobby Lobby, 50% off this week (I paid $10)
I love the casual font and the wholesome message. (Don't we all know there are times when we are hard-pressed to give thanks! But more about that later.)

There's been one more change along that same wall this week:

If you read my blog often then you know these days I practically live and breathe cross stitching. I do most of it in my sewing room upstairs, but many evenings when Beloved is reading Rush Limbaugh's radio transcripts and there's nothing on TV (#mostofothetime!), I like to do my stitching on the main floor, just to be near my man.  But to stitch I need good light, a surface for the pattern, needles, and threads -- asking a lot of a simple lamp table.

We moved Beloved's dad's desk in from the guest room and that's where I set up shop to sew. Then when I'm done, there are plenty of drawers to stash it all so the main part of the house doesn't look cluttered. It's also an excellent place to read due to the Ott lamp.

Since I mentioned cross stitching, here is a fun solution for winding DMC floss around those little cardboard thimbles. I use a glass insulator from old telephone poles to hold the floss as I wind onto the cardboard. Works really well for me.

By the way, Beloved spent nearly half of his adult working years with the phone company after his aerospace career. This glass insulator is my personal souvenir  from that chapter of our lives. 

But one more thing in the area of home decor, that shelf I bought at Hobby Lobby is now hanging in The Flamingo Room:

This is the upstairs bathroom, just outside the sewing room. Hardly anyone uses this bathroom since it's off the beaten path of the rest of the house, so I have felt free to give it a rather froofroo designation. I'll probably add more to it as time and inspiration hit. But for now, I've got a good place for the tissue box and sea shell (so the small countertop is not cluttered)

As I move toward the close of this particular blog post, I want to share these gorgeous pictures posted this week by our second son, Web Designer, on Face Book. He and The Lil' Red-haired Girl got away for some riding time in Southern Colorado.

photo by my kids

photo by my kids

photo by my kids

I share these pictures to help alleviate something I said in a past post. One of my [Colorado] readers felt I had besmirched the reputation of my former home state when I commented on the brown landscapes of the semi-arid climate. Of course, ALL of Colorado is not brown and sprinkled with tumble weeds, and these pictures prove that. However, I lived in a much more rocky, dry, often parched area than the more farm-friendly soil of this reader's home, so I do know whereof I was speaking.

As we are reminded to "give thanks in everything," this week has been a real test of that for me. Just in the past couple of days, two of my friends (one a blogging friend and one who has been very close to me for some 16 years) got news of cancer requiring serious treatments. Another good friend from church youth group days has recently completed chemo and is now on maintenance treatments for the foreseeable future. All three of these ladies are within 3-5 years of my age. 

I am starting to see a pattern here; this is what happens as we age. Our "earth suits" are wearing out and often cannot handle the uglies of life as effectively any more. We are forced to come to terms (if we have not previously) with the fact that the physical body is not who we are. It's the spirit soul within us that comprises us. This body will wear out and eventually die. But it's our spirit, our soul, that lives on for eternity.

Are we ready for the demise of the "earth suit"? Are we ready to face what lies beyond the grave? Do we know of a certainty that if we die tonight, we will be standing before God at Heaven's Gate?  Do we have an answer for the sure question, "Why should I let you into my Heaven?"

As I am encouraged to "give thanks in everything" I know those questions are answered for me and I am thankful that even when the hard times hit, this is not the end. It's only a temporary station in our eternal existence.