All posts by Dona

Birds, birds, birds

We went to Florida last month. I saw lots of birds. Dean went in the water every day. It was perfect.

We arrived on Sunday (it was supposed to be Saturday but our flight was cancelled because of the TSA agent’s suicide). We didn’t know the flight was cancelled until we arrived at National Airport and decided to fly out the next day instead of flying to another airport and driving to Orlando.

Sunday we went to Lake Apopka’s North Shore where we drove 11 miles around pools filled with hundreds of water birds. I didn’t get any good photos because I was talking to Clare for much of the drive. She and her boyfriend broke up and she was very sad.

On Monday we headed to Merritt Island, hoping to see painted buntings again like I did a few years ago — no luck this time however.

After searching for the painted bunting Dean wanted to go to the beach so we did. It was cold.

Cool and breezy day at the beach

We did see some birds, but not nearly as many as at Lake Apopka.

On Tuesday Dean went kayaking and my sister-in-law, Diane, went to an “elder learning” event at UCF. We first saw Dr. Luis Fred‘s trombone choir. I didn’t think I’d be very interested in a trombone choir but I really enjoyed it. I now know a lot more about trombones than I did before. After the trombone choir we heard Michael Greyeyes talk about being an indigenous actor (and professor) in a white world.

Dean went kayaking with ‘gators

Wednesday we went to Mt. Dora for lunch and then visited a museum to look at way-cool furniture that David Bowie owned. We also stopped at a springs so Dean could snorkel.

Thursday, Dean and I went to Flagler Beach in hopes of seeing a right whale, but all we saw were a few porpoises. We ate lunch at a sandwich shop that serves sandwiches inspired by main dishes. I had a “Venice” which was the sandwich version of chicken picatta and Dean had
“The Gulfport” which was stuffed with delicious Cajun spiced shrimp.

After lunch all we wanted to do was relax on a (warm this time) beach, so we did. Dean slept while I watched a woman fed peanuts to a ruddy turnstone.

Then we took a drive through Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area where we visited a memorial to Chief Tomokie. We also saw a couple more porpoises, a little blue heron and a turtle.

Finally, on Friday we went to Orlando Wetland Park and saw more birds (and gators).

It was great to get away and I only had to work one day (for two hours).

Three more finished

I’ve recently finished three more books: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, and Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker.

A Wizard of Earthsea just wasn’t my cup of tea. I would have probably liked it more as a teenager. There were parts I liked, but I guess I am over fantasy books. Which is sad.

Now, Nine Perfect Strangers, on the other hand, was my cup of tea. That Moriarty woman just doesn’t write books fast enough for me to devour them. This one was not quite as good as some of her others (Big Little Lies, for instance), but fun to read. That’s okay right? If I read for pleasure?

Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside is a book that I would have gladly never have heard about. I didn’t like it when I read part of it for book group, but liked it somewhat more when I picked it up again as an audio book. Then I got tired of it once more and it was almost painful to listen to it after a while — not that the narrator was bad — he was pretty good, but I had no interest in the story — especially after Bruno and the other detective hooked up. I finished up reading the book last night and I will never revisit Bruno’s countryside again. What a waste of time.

Dad’s Winter Gift

One morning, during our annual Christmas visit to Illinois in the late 1980s, we awoke to trees covered in feathery crystals — a true winter wonderland. We exclaimed at the beauty and made plans to take photographs of the frost. We wondered what this was — we’d never seen Jack Frost’s work quite as lovely as this. Then Dad, matter-of-factly said, “Hoar frost.”

We looked at him and shook our heads. We’d never heard of hoar frost and how could he possibly know what this phenomenon was called? At some point we looked it up or talked to other people (no Internet on our phones back then) who confirmed that Dad was correct. If I recall correctly, he seemed rather proud that he knew something we didn’t.

I never forgot how beautiful this was and, while we occasionally see something similar on the grass in the Pacific Northwest, we never saw it as beautiful as it was in 1988. I hoped we would get it in Bethesda, but we never did.

We were recently in Illinois and besides spending time with family, and Dean being recognized by our Community College as the 2019 distinguished Alum, we visited some places that meant something to us. One of those was the cemetery where my father is buried. We almost passed it by, but I figured we were right there, so I asked Dean to stop. I trudged through the snow and placed a coin on three gravestones: my Grandmother and Grandfather Patrick’s joint gravestone, my cousin Jim’s gravestone and Dad’s gravestone. I told them hello and that I loved them.

Going back to the car I felt the only grief/nostalgia that I’d felt during the trip so far. Normally I have a lot of feelings when visiting my hometown, but this trip I’d had none until that cemetery visit.

My path through the snow

The next morning I awoke to hoar frost. The trees and bushes were covered in white feathery crystals. Dean had already been outside taking photographs and I went out in my pajamas and stockinged feet to take a few pictures. Later I took a video as the frost began falling off the trees.

After marveling at the frost I remembered that first time I’d seen it and fancied that Dad did this for me because I visited him the afternoon before. He knew how much I wanted to experience a hoar frost again and he used his weather superpower* to give it to me.


*The day we buried Dad there were tornados in the area that morning — one less than a mile from the cemetery. We joked that Dad wanted us to know he was pissed off.