Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

We are in the Adirondacks - we drove up yesterday to do some snowshoeing and x-country skiing - that is what is wrong!! The temperature continued to rise overnight so by this morning the only snow left was in the big piles along the driveway. So we took a soggy, muddy walk along the road today and hope the forecast for colder temperatures is correct. We are not due to get significant snow any time soon, but colder temps should at least allow us to walk in the woods without sinking to our knees.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sanibel Wildlife Refuge

One of our reasons for going to Sanibel Island is that we hoped to kayak among the mangroves in the wildlife refuge. But the winds were very high the first few days we were there, and in any case they wouldn't let the rental kayaks out of their sight. So you could just paddle around the open bay, which is not very exciting. We took the late afternoon boat tour out into the bay and saw birds heading for their roost trees and saw dolphins frolicking out in the open water and manatees poking their noses out of the water.

On another day we took the drive through the refuge and saw lots of birds and several raccoons.

  • Roseate Spoonbill

  • Ibis

  • Great Egret

  • Snowy Egret

  • Reddish Egret

  • Tricolored Heron

  • Green Heron

  • White Pelican

  • Brown Pelican

  • Double-crested Cormorant

  • Red-Breasted Merganser

This snowy egret visited us on the beach so we got a good photo.

Sanibel Shore Birds

I've never seen as many shore birds as we saw on the Sanibel Beach, and I've certainly never had to worry before about stepping on them. I guess they've gotten used to all the shell hunters.
And there were LOTS of terns, possibly blown in on the storm we had the first day. There were royal terns with their large orange billsand sandwich terns. We learned how to identify these from the naturalist on the boat tour we took in the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. It's hard to tell from this photo, but the tip of their bill is pale yellow - from the mustard in the sandwich. That is one I'm going to remember.

Sanibel Shells

Sanibel Island is known for its shells, which is abundantly clear from these photos. We had promised ourselves we wouldn't collect any, but ended up coming home with a bag full anyway.We also saw lots of live shells and other critters like crabs, sea urchins and sea stars.

Christmas in Florida

We had a wonderful vacation on Sanibel Island, Florida, leaving the 10th and arriving home yesterday. We stayed at the Sundial Beach Resort and would go there again. We really enjoyed the beach with all the shells and birds, which will be evident in the next few posts. But one thing I could not get used to was Christmas carols and decorations among the palms and tropical vegetation and in the warm temperatures. At least they have a sense of humor about a Florida Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Construction Project I

I finally got a photo of S's porch in its current state (click here for a "before" view). We put the railings up in July when we came back to NJ for the 4th. And she spent the rest of the summer and into the fall putting up metal lath and a concrete scratch coat along the sides in preparation for the stone facing which will get done next year. It still needs a new door and lights, but it is already very nice.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Food Allergies

My daughter just sent this link to a fascinating article on the Mayo Clinic website on food allergies and sensitivities. I had a really itchy mouth and even some numbness after eating hazelnuts last week. It turns out that is because I am allergic to birch tree pollen, which is all around us when we are in the Adirondacks in the spring.

Here is an excerpt from the article.

"Some fresh fruits and vegetables can trigger a mild allergic reaction that causes the mouth to tingle or itch. This is an example of cross-reactivity — proteins in fruits and vegetables cause the reaction because they're similar to those allergy-causing proteins found in certain pollens. For example, if you're allergic to ragweed, you may also react to melons; if you're allergic to birch pollen, you may also react to apples. Most cooked fruits and vegetables generally do not cause cross-reactive oral allergy symptoms.
Common cross-reactivity between pollens and fruits and vegetables:
If you are allergic to:Birch pollenRagweed pollenGrassesMugwort pollen
You may have a reaction to: Apples
Raw potatoes
(watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew)
I've also reacted to apples and cherries and attributed it to residual pesticides. All that birch pollen at camp may be the culprit instead. By the way, what the heck is Mugwort?? Of course I looked it up and it is Artemisia vulgaris, a weed I'm not familiar with, at least not by that name.

First Snow

We had a snow shower overnight. I'm not posting a picture, because it looks exactly like the photo in this post from 12/2/2007. If this year is anything like the last, this is a large fraction of the snow for the season, which is fine with us. We like to get our snow fix in the Adirondacks.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quilt 7

We just hung my new quilt in the stairway. I'm so pleased with it I'll have to fill up the rest of the spaces on the wall. It should even serve a practical purpose of cutting down noise. And given how poorly insulated our walls are, it might even help with heat retention. Sounds like a good excuse to keep quilting :)