Saturday, 26 March 2011

Our Environs

While in Florida, we've been staying in a 'manufactured home' community. On our daily walk, we go to a small pond and check out the turtles and mallard ducks that resided there. As soon as we show up, the turtles all come swimming over.

I like to think they're saying 'hello' but I think they really think I'm going to feed them. There is a sign posted that says not to feed the wildlife and to beware of the poisonous snakes. Ewww!

A mama mallard takes care of her 10 ducklings. There are 4 drakes that hang around but she's the only female. We walk over every day to take a headcount of the babies. (click on the photo to enlarge to count them yourself)
I could sit and watch them for hours as the little flotilla swims around the edges of the pond. There are always a couple of stragglers. In this video, the last couple of stragglers seemed to almost run on the surface of the water to catch up to the group.

I went back yesterday to take a headcount and they're down one duckling. It's the first casualty since they were born a couple of weeks ago. Mama's been doing a very good job of taking care of her brood.

The bottle-brush trees (aka Callistemon) are in full bloom now.They're at the same stage here as they were a couple of weeks ago when we were in Sarasota.

Skip's new camera takes great macro shots. You can see the yellow pollen on the tip of each of the 'brushes'. The bees love the pollen. Unfortunately, my allergies do not love the pollen and I've had allergies on top of a wicked cold for the past couple of days.Something I've never seen before is amaryllis in bloom in the ground. At home we force one or two bulbs to bloom around Christmas time. Here, they bloom with no apparent effort.
In knitting news, I have finished the lace stole and am now knitting on a border. I had only 60" (150cm) of yarn left after casting off, so am using the second ball for the border. I'm using the border from Eunny Jang's "Print o' The Waves" stole.
The unblocked stole is 62" long. I'm guessing it will block to about 78".
I'm sure it would have been plenty wide enough without the extra border but I had the extra skein of yarn so 'what the heck'.Right now it doesn't look all that impressive but I'm sure once it's blocked, it will look very spiffy.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Manatees, etc.!

On Monday, Skip and I went up to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
Manatees like to frequent this area because the springs that feed the rivers keep the inlets between 72F and 74F - their preferred water temperature.
We got there just as they were feeding them. We went down into the big tank where we could see from under the water. Apparently their favourite food is romaine lettuce.Small fish like to follow the manatees and feed from the algae that grow on them.To teach the baby manatees how to feed from the bottom, a couple of dozen romaine lettuce heads are slid into a 6" PVC pipe with a big slot. Then the pipe is put on the bottom of the manatee nursery pen. Then the babies can experience the sensation of feeding vegetation from the bottom.
Then we took the Wildlife Trail and saw lots and lots of birds and other animals both in captivity and some that come and go.

There were several alligators enjoying the sun.The most surprising birds we saw were the whooping cranes. In the centre and right photos they're snoozing.Two of them can't fly and are residents of the park but a third one flew in a while back and just never left.

Clockwise from the top left are: flamingos, a bald eagle with the requisite American flag, a crested caracara, a black vulture, a wood stork with one wing extended, two owls and another shot of the wood stork.These white pelicans grow vertical plates on their bills during breeding season. The plates fall off once breeding season is over.
Any birds in captivity can't be counted on my life's list but I liked seeing the yellow-crowned night heron just the same.This cute baby sandhill crane was still fuzzy and stood about a foot high.Before it became a state park, many exotic animals were on exhibit here. When the state took over, homes were found for all the exotic animals and only those native to the area were kept there. All except Lu, the 6000 lb. hippo. She would have cost too much to transport to another zoo and she seemed happy there so she got to stay. When hippos poop, they just let it rip and their tail sort of distributes it all over. We found a couple of warning signs in the gift shop.
These are gopher tortoises.
This mama wood duck kept her brood together.
These wood duck nesting boxes are in several places along the river. The baffle underneath the box is to prevent predators from killing the babies or eating the eggs.
Most animals seemed pretty content there. There were only a couple that paced back and forth as if they were a bit stressed. One was the bobcat and the other was the red fox.There were several roseate spoonbills but it was hard to get a picture of them through the chicken wire.It was a hot, sunny day but there was shade everywhere and cool breezes. Both palmettos (left) and sabal palms (right) were all through the park. We learned a couple of weeks ago that the two palms are distinguishable by how the stem connects to the fronds. In the palmetto, it stops straight at the base of the frond. In the sabal palm, the stem extends up into the frond into a point. The information centre had a striking display of a taxidermied gator and a huge stained glass piece depicting manatees.
Here's a closeup of the stained glass.I liked this framed nautical chart that had a manatee painted on it.Of course, we had to take cheesy pictures.
Skip posed with the manatee statue in the information centre.
The azaleas are in full bloom.
A closeup.
It was a lovely place to visit. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. It's about an hour north of Tampa on Route 19.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Yesterday Skip and I went to visit his nephew and family who are vacationing in Clearwater Beach about 75km down the coast. We spent the afternoon at the beach
and had a nice dinner with them at the hotel patio restaurant.

Before we drove down there I was in a panic about what knitting project I would take for the drive and for the beach. I decided to start a pair of garter rib socks using some beautiful Punta Yarns Merisock yarn. I got this much done on the way there and while we were visiting on the beach.
I'm also needing to get a couple more pairs of socks done for the Kniterary 'Pull Up Your Socks' KAL this year. We are aiming to knit one sock per month. I have socks completed to the end of March and I want to stay ahead of the game.

The colours are darker than this but I'm having trouble getting the light right down here. This photo was taken in the shade on the hood of Skip's car.

Basically, I cast on 72 sts, knit 20 rounds of k3, p1 ribbing then *a round of knit followed by a round of k3, p1. Then I just repeated those two rounds (from *). Having alternate rounds of straight knitting really makes this project move along quickly. It was perfect for its intended milieu.

I'm also working on a Rose Trellis stole with the Zephyr merino/silk yarn I bought at Uncommon Threads in Palm Harbor last week. It's in the 'charcoal' colourway but looks more like a gunmetal blue to me. I'm hoping to finish it in time for my upcoming Panama Canal cruise. You can see the lifeline I inserted after the first section.
There's quite a bit of stocking stitch in the middle section (which is the longest section) so it is now going quite quickly as well. But it definitely was not a project for either the car or the beach.

I have abandoned the other Rose Trellis stole using the Noro King yarn.
I think this yarn would make a nice scarf that has less lace to it. I'm still searching for the 'perfect' project for this. Any suggestions? It would make a nice Dianna shawl but I've already knit 3 of them so I don't really want to do another.

On that subject, I am teaching 2 classes on the Dianna shawl on April 9 and 16 from 1pm to 3pm at Myrtle Station Wool & Ferguson's Knitting in Brooklin. There might still be room in the class so give the shop a call during business hours if you're interested in signing up. There is 'homework', particularly if you've not knit entrelac before so don't wait 'til the last moment to sign up.

I also started the blue Dogwood Blossoms Fair-Isle sweater. I was going to jump right in with the body of the sweater but decided, instead of casting on 375 sts, I'd start with a sleeve and just verify my gauge. It is fingering weight yarn so will take a LONG time to complete the knitting. There will also be a LOT of ends to knit or weave in. The colour change every row or two. But I'm pleased with the resulting fabric.
I will continue the rotation and eventually most of these projects will get done.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Spring Training

On Friday, Skip and I went to a Yankees Spring Training game at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.
They played the Atlanta Braves.
The ball park is a replica of Yankee Stadium and is festooned with the 27 flags representing each of their World Series wins over the years. The most recent one is flown beside the state flag of Florida and the Stars and Stripes.
The field is adjacent to Raymond James Stadium where the Tampa Bay Bucanneers play near the campus of Hillsborough College just east of the Tampa International Airport.
It was a beautiful, sunny day without a cloud in the sky. However, the temperature was quite chilly so we were well bundled up - for a while, at least.
We sat about 16 rows up from 3rd base and got a good look at Derek Jeter
and Alex Rodriguez who frequent that area of the field. Neither Fred nor I saw Cameron Diaz anywhere. She was either out making popcorn or must have had to work.
Atlanta was winning when we left after the 7th inning to head south to Sarasota for the weekend. Us and the rest of the denizens of Tampa, it seemed.

to be continued....
Have you ever wondered how to pronounce double letters in Italian? The consonant is pronounced the same way, just twice. The result sounds like you are holding that consonant a bit longer.

tasso (cup), piccolo (small), pizza, etc.