kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

The weather has finally gotten nice, at least some days! It takes a while for fall to make its way down to these parts. Anyway, yesterday evening we were out doing some yardwork, and I came across this katydid so the girls and I got to know her a bit. It's the very-appropriately-named Giant katydid, I think the largest species in North America. It's fun to find such neat critters around the house!

Working today, though I must say my lack of motivation is palpable. Not much else going on, though. I saw Biden's announcement that he's not going to run for President after all. That was not what I expected to hear! But it should help clarify the Democratic race, since the polls have always included him in the mix and it's been hard to say how many of the people supporting him would go for Clinton or Bernie. So that will be interesting to see. And he seemed to have Elizabeth Warren potentially in his corner, so we'll see where she puts her weight now (though I would hope that's obvious). I just hope the so-called Bernie-mentum continues, even though the first debate seemed to shift things in her favor a bit. I'm looking forward to the next one.

Okay, enough for now, I'd better get some work done. Hope everyone is having a good day! Oh, and Happy BTTF Day!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

This spring seemed a bit slow in the butterfly garden, but it looks like it's getting busier! I spotted a few things recently to snap photos of, anyway.

Have a look? )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

We had a death in the family this weekend. Seems to be a lot of that going around lately, as I've seen here on LJ as well as elsewhere on the web. For us it was Hermione's guinea pig, Gingerbread. She got him shortly before her 8th birthday, so a little more than 2 years ago. No idea how old he was then, but I don't think he was anywhere near elderly for a guinea pig. Anyway, Friday evening she commented that he hadn't touched his dinner, and indeed he looked a bit lethargic and unkempt. Saturday we hand-fed him a little water and dissolved food, but he wasn't looking too good. We went to the pet store to see if we could get him some vitamin supplements or anything to help, but it was too late. When we got home he'd expired. From the research we did, it seems that guinea pigs go downhill fast if they get sick, especially if whatever it is makes them stop eating and drinking, as this did. I feel bad that we didn't recognize it sooner and get him some better help, but at least I don't think he suffered much.

I felt mainly bad for Hermione--I hated the thought that she might blame herself. We've always had a houseful of critters, but he was the first pet that was her own, and she always did a wonderful job taking care of him. I made sure to tell her that she did great with him, and that it wasn't her fault that he got sick. Still, I know she was pretty sad. We buried him in the back yard. I am not ashamed to admit I got a bit misty and choked up. He was a good little friend, after all.

I doubt we'll be in any rush to replace him, though. It will actually be nice to get the smell of timothy hay out of her room for a while, and it's nice that she can leave her bedroom door open now. The cats wasted zero time getting in there to explore and make camp on the window seat where his cage always was. So we'll see if and when she wants to try another pet, whether it's a guinea pig or something else.

Otherwise the weekend was pretty uneventful. I'd been having sporadic problems with my PC at home, which finally coalesced into a failing hard drive, so Sunday I got a new drive and reinstalled the OS. I wouldn't have minded doing that if I hadn't just reformatted and reinstalled a few weeks back! Oh well, so far I haven't been seeing the issues I was having, so hopefully it was worthwhile.

I also got some stuff and tackled a few small projects around the house, and in the afternoon (beautiful weather!) we went to Lake Lotus for a short hike. Not much going on there in the wildlife department--one of the rangers we know told us where we might spot a big alligator, but we didn't see it. Saw one tiny monarch caterpillar in their butterfly garden, and along the boardwalk we saw a ladybug and a few trashbugs (lacewing larvae).

Meanwhile, back at home, the peach tree is blooming! We got it last year, and it produced 2 or 3 fruit, which were delicious. It's grown a bit, and seems happy--it has a pretty good number of flowers already, and lots more buds to boot. Looking forward to the peaches this summer, if the squirrels don't steal them first.


Hopefully that will help you Northerners bracing for the oncoming winter storm. Stay warm and good luck!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)

Amy! Though man-oh-man, you'd never have known she wasn't in the full grip of her Terrible Twos despite turning 3 yesterday. Heck, she even argued about it when we told her it was her birthday and she was turning 3! "It's NOT my birthday, it's YOUR birthday, and I'M TWO." Oy. I think it was a lack of sleep, but aside from a couple hours of her being good, she was pretty much a nightmare all day. She's just so stubborn when she gets something in her head. She'll misplace a toy or book, come ask us to find it for her, and then go nuclear when we can't find it or refuse to look. Or she'll get it into her head that she wants to do something, and raise the ceiling if we want her to do something else. And heaven help us if we ask her to do something she DOESN'T want to do. Sheesh. I'm glad these phases pass in time, but I'm pretty sure she's been the worst with this stuff. Hermione was perfect, always eager to please and not a complainer. Hallie was a little more vocal, but easy enough to distract or redirect or coerce somehow. Amy just will. not. have. it. I guess she'll be our Type A kid. ;)

Anyway, weekend was good otherwise. Heather's sister Stef came over Friday night, and we had fun watching some old home videos with her. Saturday we headed up to the zoo in Sanford, where they've recently added giraffes (though the feeding station for them doesn't open for a few more weeks). It's not a great zoo, but our main goal was to get our pass there since it's relatively cheap, and then we can use that to get discounted admission at lots of other zoos and aquariums. And the animals they have are pretty cool, though their enclosures tend to be on the small side which makes me feel bad for some of the critters.

After the zoo we got lunch and then headed home, and then I stayed home with Amy while everyone else went ice skating. Hallie finally got past a hurdle so she got a lot better, and Heather's apparently decided that rather than just take Hallie to her lesson and sitting around each week, she's going to sign up for lessons too. She already skates okay--well enough to stay upright, anyway--but she wouldn't mind getting better.

After the ice skating was dinner and then our walk and paddle down at the lake that I posted about before.

Sunday Stef headed home in the morning, which left us the day. I'd been wanting to head out to the big plant nursery we like to get some stuff, so we decided to make an outing of that, lunch, and checking out a city park we hadn't been to before. The park was first, and it wasn't as nice as I'd expected, but the girls had fun. Then we couldn't find a place for lunch, which caused some drama. And then the nursery, which hopefully redeemed the trip. I got a bunch of milkweed plants, and some dill and fennel, and a porterweed, all for the butterfly garden. Got some azaleas to replace a couple that died over the winter. And Heather was looking at the fruit trees and couldn't resist getting a peach tree, which will hopefully do well. The girls and I planted all of that when we got home, which is always fun.

Then I tried changing the oil on my car again. I'd tried a couple weeks ago and was frustrated because I couldn't get the damn drain plug out. It was clearly overtightened by whoever changed it last, and my tools weren't quite the right size so I ended up rounding the edges of the bolt a bit. Not good. Since then I got some new tools to hopefully fit better, but even so all I did was round off the bolt even more. Gonna have to take it in somewhere and hope they can get that off--I did order a new plug to replace that one, but first the old one's got to come off! Not happy about it, changing oil is not supposed to be an ordeal!

I also worked on my photography website a little. The home page has always been my blog, but I wanted to switch to a setup where there's an actual home/landing page, and a menu link to the blog instead. Finally got that working, though I still have work to do on the landing page, as well as my portfolio images which haven't been updated for a year or two. And I'm sure there are other changes I want to make to the text here and there. I'm always saying I'm happy as a part-timer and don't want too much business, but lately I've been getting hardly anything and it makes me feel out of practice, which is bad.

Oh, and I ordered my new lens, which should arrive around Thursday. Looking forward to playing with that! At the nursery I saw a guy who had that very lens on his Canon, so I asked him about it a little. He frankly seemed a bit clueless for a guy who dropped $1300 on a lens, but he said he mainly got it for video since it's stabilized and has been happy with it. We'll see!

Okay, enough rambling. Have some more photos instead.
Clicky! )
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Often our weekends are a bunch of go-go-go mixed with utter downtime at home doing not much of anything. Now and thenw e decide to buckle down and get some stuff done around the house, though, and so far today was one of those. I started off with a trip to the auto parts store. For a while now the minivan has been squealing when we turn the A/C on, which is embarrassing (and about to become the rule rather than the norm, as our Florida season of Almost Summer makes its way towards Surface Of The Sun). So finally I decided to give changing the belt a try, and so far that seems to have done the trick! We'll find out over the next couple days, I reckon. While I was at it, I got a new air filter (since that had been a while) and a new set of spark plugs. Of course, literally halfway through changing the plugs I realized I had a problem. It's a transverse-mounted V6 engine, so of course the 3 plugs on the front side were a piece of cake. What I didn't realize is that to change the back 3, one must literally remove most everything mounted on or near the top of the engine, including (but not limited to) the air filter housing, the throttle body, the air manifold, the windshield wiper motors, and the plenum (whatever that is). I quickly decided that I wasn't feeling THAT ambitious today. So what the heck, 3 new plugs is better than 6 old plugs, amiright?

Then I messed around in the butterfly garden, which I must say is coming along nicely now that spring has sprung and things are growing again. Even the paw-paw that we bought a while back that we feared had died is putting out new leaves. So yay! Thursday after work I went out to the garden to check on some things, and took a bunch of photos while I was at it.

Wanna see? )

Yesterday I took the day off work because I had a photoshoot at the Magic Kingdom. They were a little late arriving (everyone always is--it just takes longer to get into that park than anyone anticipates, I think!), but they were very nice and we had an absolute blast. The photos aren't my best work, but not bad. I'm sure they'll be pleased, anyway. After that I came home and took the girls to the pet store, where we got all kinds of stuff for our menagerie. Bedding and hay for Hermione's guinea pig, flea drops for the kitten, shampoo for the dog, and I invested in some birdfeeding stuff. They even had a squirrel-resistant feeder on clearance, so I got one of those. If it actually seems semi-successful, maybe I'll go back for the other one soon.

So now I'm home with the little ones while Heather is off to a concert with her band. Then when she gets home, we'll get read and head out to Universal! It's my company's annual Family Fun Night, which is awesome. or will be if the rain holds off, anyway. That reminds me, I meant to check on the height requirements to see what Amy can ride this time. She's almost 36 inches now! Ooh yay, she can ride the High-In-The-Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! But not Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. Oh well.

Then tomorrow we're heading up to Micanopy for a bit of a family reunion, which (again) should be fun as long as the weather doesn't turn to crap. We'll see.

And I hope everyone else is having a good weekend!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
So I survived my trip to Detroit! Actually it wasn't scary at all. The airport was quite nice, and the office I was visiting (and the hotel where I stayed) was about 15 miles outside of the city proper, so it was pretty much your basic suburban area. The office itself was quite nice, and I was amazed to see they had a soda fountain--for free!--in the breakroom. Free Mountain Dew on tap? Yes please! That would be a dangerous place for me to work, I don't think I'd be able to resist the urge to go refill my cup every hour or two. Bad news.

Anyway, I did pretty much no sightseeing at all. When we arrived it was airport>rental car>office, and after we wrapped up work for the day we checked in at the hotel and then met the center director and division VP for a 2-hour dinner. After that there wasn't really enough daylight to make an excursion, and I was pretty beat after waking up at 4:15am, so I just went to the hotel and relaxed for the evening. That was Wednesday, and then yesterday was just office>rental car>airport. What I saw of the area was quite nice, reminded me of Tennessee a bit (since that's the furthest north I've ever lived). Never ventured anywhere near downtown, though. Hopefully sometime when I go back to these places I'll build a little more sightseeing time into my itinerary! I did get to watch a movie and a half, though--I watched Skyfall, which was pretty good. I think I knew it was directed by Sam Mendes, but I didn't realize he used Roger Deakins as cinematographer (I adore him from his work with the Coen brothers), and I was also pleased to see the music was by Thomas Newman (who I adore from a bunch of films, but especially my favorite, The Shawshank Redemption). So it was a good team and they didn't let me down. That was the first of the Daniel Craig Bond flicks I've seen, and I thought he made an okay Bond. Not as suave or dapper as you might like, but good for the action stuff. The other film I started was The Impossible, which purports to be the true story of a family caught up in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. So far it's quite well-done, though now I'm interested in how close it hews to the truth. Not that I'm finding it unbelievable, or know enough to judge it for truth--just curious. :)

Oh, and there was snow! Not a lot, and not much that stuck, but most of the day Wednesday there were snowshowers. It was so cool to look out the window and see flakes lazily drifting down. Not a big deal for anyone who doesn't live in Florida, I'm sure, but for me that was a novelty and a treat. :) Obviously the temperatures were a bit brisk for a Florida boy, but it was nice to finally have a reason to wear a heavy jacket again! Shoulda brought the gloves too.

Tomorrow we're heading to Weeki Wachee state park. That was one of the old-time, pre-Disney Florida theme parks, and now it's a state park (like Silver Springs is going to become later this year). But they still have the mermaid shows and whatnot, so I think the girls will get a kick out of the place. We're meeting Heather's cousin there, who is down in the area for a vacation. She's nice, so it should be fun for all. I think Sunday we'll hit the Leu Gardens spring plant sale! Hopefully they have some good butterfly plants to add to the garden, some unique things that I can't usually find. I got a cool book at Leu Gardens a couple weeks ago, about the lifecycles of a bunch of common North American butterflies, which gave me lots more ideas for host plants. Maybe they'll have some of those!

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