Saturday, February 28, 2009

Potholders for Sara

Here are the potholders for Sara. She chose the colors and I modified Vivian Hoxbro's design to make a matched pair. I'll put them in the mail for her tomorrow.

Homosassa Springs State Park

Here's the manatee statue at the main entrance to Homosassa Springs State Park which is located about ten miles down the road from our place in Crystal River. It's a wildlife park where animals that have been injured are cared for. Except for the hippo, all of the animals at the park are native to Florida. The most interesting inhabitants are the manatees. The park has six manatees, all female. There is an underwater observation area right on top of the fresh water spring in the park. Thousands of gallons of fresh water, always at 72 degrees, emanate from the spring. Manatees cannot survive in water cooler than 62 degrees so it is a perfect habitat for them. Thousands of fish are also drawn to the warm water and it's fascinating to watch them. We first discovered the park when Dick's cousins took us there a few years ago. Now it is our "go-to" outing for visitors.

This past week my sister and brother-in-law were visiting and we took them to Homosassa Springs on one of the nicest days we've had since we arrived in Florida. We were surprised to see such a big crowd at the ticket counter. The park ranger told us it's now "high season." Usually we take the boat from the Route 19 parking area to the main entrance but this time the water level was too low and we had to take the tram instead.

In late January, we took Dick's cousins, John and Lucie. From the looks of our outfits, it was fairly warm then too. Coincidentally it was Lu the Hippo's birthday. We were there in time to sing happy birthday and watch him eat his cake. Lu was a resident of the park when the state of Florida took it over. It had previously been a privately run wildlife park with many exotic species. All of the non-native animals were relocated but a home could not be found for Lu. The governor of Florida officially made Lu a state resident and he has been a beloved feature at the park ever since.

In early January, on a rather brisk day, we took our good friends, John and Kathy. While Dick and I had been to the park before, it was Kathy's excellent research that reminded us about it. Kathy ascertained the feeding times for the manatees and for Lu. Interestingly if you arrive just in time to see Lu be fed and hear the talk about the adjacent alligators, you can walk the one mile park loop and end up at the manatee area just in time to hear the docent's talk and see them be fed. Manatees are vegetarians and, at the park, enjoy carrots, sweet potatoes and lettuce.

Here's Lu resting after enjoying his birthday cake.

The flamingos and other water birds are quite a sight.

Florida abounds with black vultures. You can see them soaring everywhere.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I'm Tickled Pink about Mr. Greenjeans who Happens to be Mostly Blue

Mr. Greenjeans finished
Originally uploaded by rallaronson
Another project from the First 100 Days Knit-a-long (KAL) in the Knitters for Obama Group is finished. I started Mr. Greenjeans in October of 2008. I got involved in other projects and Mr. Greenjeans languished in my knitting bag without sleeves or button band for many months. It's a bit snug on me, but blocking will help to stretch it.

The First 100 Days KAL has provided motivation and encouragement. Two promised UFO's are now finished and there are two to go.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Use It or Lose It

Dick has been committed to exercise ever since he had triple by-pass surgery in 1993. In NJ he uses an elliptical trainer in the basement of our apartment building. Now that we are in Florida, he has joined a gym, Tuffy's, about three and a half miles from our condo. Dick rides his bike to the gym nearly every morning unless it's raining or too windy. Since this is "sunny Florida" Dick rides nearly every day. Once he arrives at the gym, he puts in 45 to 50 minutes on the elliptical trainer.

Dick is proof positive that people can recover from open heart surgery and live healthy, active lives. He watches his diet and exercises seven days a week. He's a role model for anyone with heart disease.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kayaking in Crystal River

We've been in Florida for more than six weeks now and for the most part the weather has been very cold. Some mornings we've awakened to heavy frost and the tender plants in front of our condo unit have really suffered. We haven't complained about the weather because in spite of the cold, it's almost always 20 to 25 degrees warmer than NJ. I check every day!

Sunday, February 8, the weather finally turned warmer and we're told it will stay warm for at least the next 10 days. Monday Dick and I rode our bikes along the dedicated bike path on the road to the beach near our condo.

And, today, some of the women in the community went kayaking. It was my first time in a kayak in two years and I was a bit anxious about my stamina. My cousin, Sue, has been gracious about allowing me to use one of her kayaks.

This time of year the water tends to be rather low, particularly when the tide is out. We set out from Sue's dock (specially designed to adjust to the water level) planning to kayak to Lake Louisa. It was a beautiful day, the mullets were jumping and we watched a pelican catch his dinner. About an hour out we began to encounter low water and to get stuck from time to time in the mud. When it became apparent we were going to have to portage over an oyster shell shelf, I decided to turn back. Abby was kind enough to join me while the two Sue's forged ahead.

Abby and I were back home about two hours after we set out. For the first kayak of the season, it was enough for me. I'm looking forward to going out again soon, preferably when the tide is in.

Monday, February 9, 2009

African American Read-In

The historic Citrus County Court House in Inverness was the setting yesterday for the annual African American Read-In. We were fortunate to hear about it from our friends, Mike and Abby. Mike is a passionate advocate for literature and literacy. He facilitates the book discussion group here in The Islands. He's also involved in efforts in the broader community.

The two hour event, held in the second floor court room, was a collection of readings, all written by African Americans. Community leaders, average citizens and school children read the pieces to the diverse crowd. Writers included Barak Obama, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Nikki Giovanni and Mary McLeod Bethune. Intermission offered a chance for attendees to chat and enjoy refreshments provided by local super markets.

When we reconvened, we were entertained by The Ovations, a gospel group, that had us on our feet, singing and clapping.

The read-in concluded with the audience reading Skin Again by Bell Hooks, a wonderful children's picture book that ends, "For we are all inside made up of real history, real dreams, and all the stuff of all we hope for when we can be all real together on the inside." Each page of the book was projected on a screen throughout the event. The illustrations are wonderful and I plan to order copies for my grands.
Prayer, by Maya Angelou, closed the event and we went out into the Florida sunshine.
You can read more about this event in the Citrus County Chronicle.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Wow! We just came home from a showing of Slumdog Millionaire. It's an incredible film. The grinding poverty and the cruelty are offset by the drive and joy for life of the protagonist. The cinematography is outstanding. I now understand why it got so many Academy Award nominations. Go see this film!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Potholder Parade

Potholder Parade
Originally uploaded by rallaronson
I am having such a good time with this book, Domino Knitting, by Vivian Hoxbro and the various potholder patterns therein. Each potholder has a different edge treatment. It's a colorful project, really easy to knit with instant gratification because they knit up so quickly.
I know I made a commitment to finish the UFO's during Barak Obama's first 100 days and I think that is still possible. In the meantime though, my daughter in law has requested some potholders and I've ordered the colors of Sugar 'n Cream that she chose.
I never deny that I am a sufferer of knitting ADD. I admire people who can stick to one project from start to finish. I need to have numerous projects going at a time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I know I committed to concentrating on UFO's for the first 100 days but I was irresistably drawn to potholders. Once I finished the first domino potholder I just couldn't help myself! Here are the three I have completed hanging from a cabinet knob in the kitchen. They really are fun, knit up fast and have the benefit of using up stash.