Friday, 25 February 2011

Fun In Central Florida

On Tuesday, Skip and I drove over to Kissimmee to meet with Francey, Rich, Lorna and John. We found a 'villa' online that would accommodate the 6 of us comfortably with a full kitchen, laundry facilities and a pool. It was a great deal for three couples for four nights.

Here's our motley group at dinner last night.
Francey gave Lorna and me gifts of artisan pottery. I was very pleased to receive a lovely yarn bowl!
I had seen them at Rhinebeck last October but didn't buy one even though I really wanted one. I just didn't want to lug it around the sheep and wool festival. Now I have one! Yay!

Skip and I went outlet shopping on Wednesday while the others went to the Universal theme park in Orlando. We met up for dinner afterwards. Yesterday, the guys went golfing and we girls went outlet shopping at another premium outlet then met back at the villa so we could head out to watch the Discovery shuttle launch. We had heard all day that the highways leading to the launch area were completely congested so decided to find a place a few miles east of Kissimmee with a good view of the horizon to the east. It was the parking lot of a golf course very near a large-ish lake. When we pulled into the driveway, we spotted a sandhill crane.
Unfortunately some clouds had moved in. But we did see the brilliant white space craft and its vapour trail.
Today, Skip and I drove over to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding. We ate at El Leoncito - Titusville's premier Mexican food restaurant. From there we had a terrific view of the Kennedy Space Centre. This photo was taken of the view of a previous launch from the El Leoncito parking lot.
After lunch we crossed the bridge to the island and made our way to the wildlife refuge. Here is a sampling of the birds (and gators) we spotted.

This mama osprey built her nest very close to the park information building.
Here is one of the two roseate spoonbills we saw.
We saw several gators. In every case they were snoozing in the sunshine. Here are three of them.

We saw a veritable panoply of herons and egrets.

This one's a tricolor heron.
He has a really bizarre posture whilst fishing.
Here's a little blue heron.
I only saw this one glossy ibis who was fishing all by himself.
And sitting on a post in Mosquito Lagoon was this royal tern.
And here are some blue-wing teal.
From quite a distance, we saw this bird walking towards us. It had a real swagger and definitely was not a typical shorebird. It's a boat-tailed grackle. I'd only seen them before in Costa Rica.
Here you can really see the yellowlegs' yellow legs.
We saw quite a few willets from afar.
We certainly have been enjoying the 28C temperatures and bright sunshine. The warm south breeze and being near the water today kept us from getting too hot. It was a lovely day to go birding and it was also very cool to be so close to the Kennedy Space Centre - even though we missed seeing the shuttle launch close up.

One more thing (I forgot to include this in my previous post)... A common plant parasite seen in trees down here is mistletoe. It looks like green leafy spheres up in trees and can get quite large. Here's some in a tree in our 'manufactured home' community.
And this puts its size in perspective.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

"We're Not in Kansas Anymore"

Yesterday Skip and I went to a local flea market. There were over 100 booths selling mostly junk. One booth that was particularly remarkable to us was "Creative Concealment" specializing in hand gun holsters of every imaginable kind.
Apparently it is legal to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Florida. It makes one think twice when tempted to make a menacing gesture whilst driving.

There were a variety of holsters can be strapped to one's leg, one's belt or under one's coat. There were women's leather purses with zipper pockets that would easily hold a small revolver.
A couple of days ago, we dropped in for $2 margaritas and shrimp in a basket at Hurricane Hank`s. Out front was a limo that had Mossy Oak exterior.
Also, yesterday we paid a visit to the Dillard's outlet in NE Tampa at the University (of Southern Florida - go Bulls!) Mall. Everything was on sale for 70% off the manufacturer`s price plus an additional 30% or 50% off depending on the item. Most of the items have a designer label.

Using simple math, 70% off makes a $100 item cost $30. An additional 30% off brings the price down to $21. An additional 50% off, brings the price down to $15. That`s an actual discount of 79% and 85% respectively. I bought 2 designer dresses and 4 tops for $78 saving about $300. I`m relieved that I have not one but two formal dresses for our upcoming Panama Canal cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver. Skip purchased about 7 items and paid $72.

In knitting news, I finished the back of my Cassidy cardigan. The pattern is very intuitive once the cables are established.
I have started the sleeve and am knitting it in the round rather than flat as outlined by the pattern. It is going well. You can see the shaping that is achieved by decreasing and then increasing stitches one stitch in from the edge. The colour below is more accurate.
Yesterday we also visited a very nice yarn shop, Fiber Art, Inc. in Odessa, FL. I found it strange that their website contained no photos! The store is very aesthetically appealing and full of colour - wierd. Anyway, I bought a couple of skeins of Noro King, a multicoloured yarn I hadn`t heard of before. The 50g skein has 230 metres of 33% acrylic, 23% silk, 23% kid mohair, 20% wool and 1% nylon in fingering weight. It would make a beautiful stole or scarf.
I also couldn`t resist two skeins Louisa Harding Grace Hand-Dyed 50% merino/50% silk yarn in DK weight.
While reviewing some of the photos in my camera I came across this one that I took in the Borders bookstore in Gainesville, FL on our way here. It was nice to see "A Needle Pulling Thread", a Canadian publication so far south in the US. This issue in particular was exciting to see because it contains Martina's ' Celtic Flower Bag' pattern.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


The Internet hooking-up went smoothly until Skip and I realized that we only had a modem but no wifi capabilities so we whipped out and purchased an inexpensive N wireless router. Finally our three laptops and 2 iPod Touches (we're not nerds - ha ha) were working like a charm and we no longer have to cruise fast food joints or the public library with wifi.

Two days ago, it finally warmed up enough here in west central Florida to wear shorts. We went golfing with another couple in a league with about 100 other people. Each couple paid $10. We were at a 27 hole course and each group of 4 (with carts) started at a different hole. Everyone plays their own ball and then all four hit from the location of the best ball. We did quite well scoring 34 on a par 36 9-hole course. Our foursome won $24 so we each netted $1 in winnings after deducting our entry fee. My first golf winnings! We have a standing invitation to golf there every Tuesday so will probably make a return visit in 2 weeks.

Yesterday and this morning we did some birding. On Monday, I saw 4 wood storks at the man-made pond where we're staying. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me so we've been going back every day to try and get another glimpse of one.

While Skip and I were walking around the pond this morning one flew in!
A red-shouldered hawk flew atop a light post and was giving everything (including us) the eye.
This pair of hooded mergansers are residents of the pond.
As is this lone double-crested cormorant.
These two drake mallards continue to accompany this female. She doesn't seem to mind the company.
Yesterday we saw several types of herons and egrets. Here, the great egret and white ibis searched for food in close proximity to each other and didn't really seem to mind.
From afar we saw a belted kingfisher.
In knitting news, I have finished the right front of my Cassidy cardigan and about 5" done on the back. I don't have to concentrate very hard now that the cabling has been established. There's a bit of shaping for the waist in the first 10" or so and then it'll be a breeze until the casting off for the underarms.

Monday, 7 February 2011


Skip and I have not had reliable Internet access, hence, my lack of online presence. It has been frustrating, however we have soldiered on. We hope to get our ‘issue’ resolved in a day or two, otherwise, we’ll be spending some time each day at a local fast food joint that has free Wifi or the public library and my blog posts will be fewer and farther between.

I’ve been flitting from one project to another. The baby blanket is about 85% done.
I hope to finish, and block it and hopefully get it sent off to the expectant parents. Due to the possibility of complications (mama has Lupus), baby boy Seberras will make his appearance on March 16.

My Dogwood Blossom cardigan kit in the blue colourway from KnitPicks arrived last week. I’m hoping to get started on it sometime soon. The pattern has one start by knitting the sleeves.

I’ve been working on the lace cuff-down sock I’ve been knitting for a German Ravelry friend. I’m using the Midwinter colourway of the new KnitPicks Chroma fingering yarn. Is a lovely grey/blue/purple yarn with wide bands of colour. On the sock, each band is about 3cm before the gradual transition to the next colour. I also ordered 3 balls of the Prism colourway for the Lightning Shawl but I’m not sure I want to use it after all. I may select another colour.

I have cast on and ripped out a couple of neck warmers using a lovely, squishy baby alpaca worsted weight yarn but have to modify the stitch count to get the right gauge.

In between knitting projects, I did most of the stitching on a Christmas ornament - it’s from the 2004 Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue.
I erroneously added an extra stitch horizontally which has thrown off the stitch count for the red zigzag border so I have to spend some time re-designing a border. I used 32 count linen fabric. The words are stitched over 1 thread and the back-stitching was over two threads. The beads of the notes were done with little black beads which fortuitously I had in my bead stash - dating back to my avid cross-stitching days (before I became a knitting addict in 2006). I also should have corrected the placement of the flats as the pattern has them placed incorrectly.

I have a few more Christmas ornaments on my to-do list. I have several that need finishing so will be browsing some cross-stitchers’ blogs to get some finishing ideas. Then will do a bunch in one ‘swell foop’. I don’t have a real eye for colours or design and really do rely on what other people have done for ideas on how to finish things. I’ll do the “O Holy Night” one from the 2005 JCS Ornament issue and finish it like the “Silent Night” one so they are a matched set. Here is starrynight's (on Flickr) version.
Since learning Hardanger and getting back to stitching again, I have taken another look at my Christmas ornament issues that date back to 1995. Seeing so many beautiful projects at my embroidery guild has inspired me to get back at stitching at least on a part-time basis. I’ve got about 15 ornaments on my to-do list. Every once and a while I like doing one, if only for the feeling of completing a project in fairly short order.

I had a big crisis two nights ago with my new little netbook. I went to turn it on and the battery was ‘deader than a mackerel’ as Skip would say. I plugged it in to charge it up and left it for a couple of hours. When I came back to it, not only was it still dead and wouldn’t turn on, the ‘charging’ light wasn’t even lit. I got that sinking feeling in my stomach. Even Skip felt sick. He knew I was particularly distressed when he saw me put my face in my hands. Evidently I looked pathetic. Then I got a bright idea and looked in the case that I have all my cords in and realized I had been using THE WRONG CHARGING CORD!!!! I plugged the right one in and HUZZAH the little charging light went on and I was able to turn on the netbook. Phew! Crisis averted.

We enjoyed SuperBowl XLV last night. I wasn't watching as intently as Skip was but I did really like the halftime show. On some pre-game show there was some debate as to why the Black Eyed Peas was selected and one commentator categorized their music as tunes people exercise to. That is SO true! I've done several of their tunes in my Zumba classes. It would also appeal to the under 50 demographic by their youth and yet persons over 50 who haven't been living under rocks these past few years would certainly recognize one or two of their songs. It was VERY cool to see Slash and also to hear a couple of the cover tunes they did ("I Had The Time of My Life"). All in all, it was an excellent halftime show IMHO. I didn't have a strong preference as to who should win but I was very happy for the Packers that in spite of a couple of slips, some luck and a good offence they held onto their lead.