Friday, December 4, 2015

Grandbabies and Manatees

Thought for the day:  Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. [Anthony D'Angelo]

Check out this palm tree. Talk about bending over backward!
We took our usual portable sunshine with us last week, but the weather bent over backwards to contribute ample quantities of it, as well. It was warm, humid, and sunny... with brief bouts of rain. What can I say? We were in Florida... AKA the Sunshine State. There, where we spent Thanksgiving week visiting our younger son and his family, we were reminded of plenty of reasons to be thankful.





[wikipedia]

I always delight in our first sightings of Spanish moss and egrets on our trips south. Right on schedule, the moss started showing up in southern Georgia, but I didn't see hide nor feather of a single egret during our whole drive down. Not good. Then again, I didn't spot any armadillos taking naps at the side of the road, either. Very good. But ya know what was even better? When we arrived at our motel, I looked out our window, and what do you suppose I saw? Egrets! Lots and lots of egrets! Whole flocks of 'em, all over the grounds outside our window. Welcoming us! I knew then it was going to be a fabulous visit.

And it was. Wanta see some pictures? (But not too many...)

I don't suppose Jordan, a senior in high school, would appreciate being called a grandbaby, but I won't tell her if you don't. Besides, you all know it's the truth... no matter how old our kids and grandkids may be, they'll always be our babies.






Chloe, our other teenage baby, and Ella, who spent a lot of time wearing that silly, but adorable, pink cat hat.









This is our youngest grandchild Atlas. They call him Bud, or Bud-Bud. (Bet that takes some weight off his shoulders...)







Our son left the hustle and bustle of the Orlando area earlier this year to relocate to a rural area in horse country. (Not far from where John Travolta has his spread.) They don't have horses, but they sure have room for them now. And there's lots of massive moss-draped trees on their property. Just beautiful.




And even more beautiful? Seeing the three younger girls having fun running around in the yard, playing together. Olivia, Persephone, and Ella spent a lot of time swinging on this rope. Swinging high. Taking turns. I got lots of action shots, but settled for sharing this posed shot of all of them. Tell ya what, they were having so much fun, I was sorely tempted to give that ol' swing a try myself. Alas, common sense prevailed. Fear of breaking the rope, or worse, pulling the whole darned tree down, prevented me from indulging.

I read an article earlier this year about a place where manatees spend the winter. They usually come into the area in early November, so we planned our visit in hopes of seeing them while we were there. Smarticus kept checking the website to see if they'd come in yet, and there was nothing, nothing, nothing... and then the day after Thanksgiving... BAM! The first two were finally sighted. (Are we lucky, or what?) So on Sunday, Smarticus and I made the hour and a half ride to Blue Springs, winter home of the amazing manatees.

The water there is incredibly clear. We could see the bottom all the way across its width. Could see fish swimming around! Lots of very large gars. Catfish. Turtles.

And YES!!! Manatees!!!





And not just THIS perky-looking fella. Lots of real live manatees. Big lumbering critters, lolling in the water, leisurely feeding from the bottom, floating with the water's flow. We saw them in ones and twos, in larger groups, and mamas with their calves.

It was amazing! I took lots of pictures, but none of them really do the experience justice.

So I'll just share this one picture. Can you see 'em? There are a number of manatees in this shot.

In all, we saw almost forty of them. As the weather gets cooler, there will be more of them. Maybe hundreds. What an experience! And you know what? Blue Springs is such a beautiful place, it's worth visiting even when the manatees aren't there for the winter. For me, it is definitely a do-over, no matter what time of year we go to Florida.

It was a terrific week, all the way around. But it's good to be home again. Our cats evidently agree. They were so glad to see us again, they didn't even pretend not to care. Life is good.

                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

P.S. If you're interested, the e-version of  Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade will be on sale for cheap-cheap-cheap from the 7th to the 14th, both in the U.S. and the U.K. A Goodreads giveaway for two autographed paperbacks will also be going on in the U.S. from the 8th until the 21st.

66 comments:

  1. I love your grandchildren's names--& I(think I) saw some manatees in your photo!!

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    1. Our grandchildren definitely have out-of-the-ordinary kinda names. :)

      Sorry I didn't get any better shots of the manatees. Maybe it's time to get a new camera with a working zoom feature.

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  2. What a delightful post! Lovely and lively family. I have missed your bright, positive online presence and am glad you all had a good time.

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked it, dude. I hope your family had an awesome Thanksgiving, too.

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  3. Hi Susan - sounds like you had a lovely time with the family - they look fun and having a big spread to grow up - what more could they want - fresh air and freedom to roam. The Manatee visit must have been amazing ... and I'd love to see them one day ... so I note Blue Springs is where they can be found, when they come in to the pools ... lovely - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary! We had a super time. It was soooooo good to see the kids running around outside, a luxury they didn't have at their other house.

      Yes, if you ever make it to Florida ( from November to February) Blue Springs State Park is THE place to see manatees. (But not the ONLY place.)

      Cheers!

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  4. Susan, you always bring your sunshine to the blogosphere and your grandbabies are beautiful.

    Spawn always calls my lady lumps manatees and when I correct him and say, "I think you mean mammaries," his reply is always, "I know what I mean."
    By the way, he has always stated that if he has a little girl when he's older, he will name her Persephone,

    Have a great weekend. :)

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    1. Aw, shucks, what a sweet thing to say. With my naturally frugal nature, it's a blessing that smiles are free. :)

      Hey, could be worse! Be grateful you have "manatees"... you COULD have "minnows"...

      Very cool. Persephone is such an unusual name, but there's actually another little girl at her school with the same name. A new trend, maybe...?

      You have a super weekend, too.

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  5. Your grandchildren are gorgeous.
    Manatees? Meh.

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    1. Thanks. We're kinda partial to them... :)

      Manatees... meh!?? I guess you're not a fan of the duck-billed platypus, either... (My other favorite critter.)

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  6. Your grandbabies are beautiful. Which you know.
    I am glad that you had such a wonderful time and, like the cats, won't even try to pretend not to care.

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    1. Thanks. All thirteen of our grands are... grand. :)

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  7. Spanish moss is hauntingly intriguing (perhaps inspiring?) and egrets are classically beautiful. And your grandkids are so sweet.
    "Bud" does temporarily take the weight off the shoulders of young Atlas, but I'm sure in a few years he'll wear the name Atlas proudly.

    Your Thanksgiving sojourn in FL sounds wonderful - and you're blessed to have such a family.

    Unrelated question: how many cats do you have now?

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    1. YES! I love both Spanish moss and egrets. They are top-of-the-heap aesthetically pleasing.

      We have two cats. Two very spoiled, very lovable cats. :)

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  8. Your son and his family live in a wonderful place. How nice for them and you that they chose to live there. It sure beats Newark NJ.

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    1. It really is a wonderful place, but you aren't gonna get ME to say anything bad about Newark. I've heard those New Jersey gals are tough and hold a grudge... :)

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  9. Lots of room to run is always a good thing indeed. That is a lot of manatees too haha

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    1. Absolutely! It's nice to know that when given a safe place outdoors to run and play, kids will still choose it over vegging in front of the television.

      Even ONE manatee is a LOTTA manatee! :)

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  10. What a beautiful family you have, Susan. Thanks for sharing them with us. And manatees are magical creatures. I've seen them in Florida, but it's been years. P.S. Thank you so so much for your lovely review of my novel on Amazon.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I'm glad you find manatees to be as mesmerizing and magical as I do, but not surprised. You're well-tuned into the magic of the world. :)

      It was my pleasure to review your book. (And to READ it, too!)

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  11. Susan, I know what you mean... no matter how big Jackson and Arianna get, they will be by grand babies... and poor Valya will always be my little girl ... because she is the youngest, even if she is almost 6 feet tall... lol

    It looks like you had an amazing time, I need to get to Florida for a visit, I miss sunshine and warmth xox

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    1. That's right. It's all a matter of perspective, and our babies will always be our babies. Just like when my mother was still alive, she always referred to Smarticus and me as "the kids." :)

      There's lots of sunshine and warmth to spare in Florida. It feels great this time of year, but in the middle of summer? Not so much...

      Have a super weekend, kiddo.

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  12. What a lovely family! I love all the pictures. Kind of jealous of your son - his new place sounds amazing. I love that photo with the moss-draped trees.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, our son's new place is pretty amazing. (But I'm glad I don't have to cut all of that grass!)

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  13. Thanks for the glimpse into your Thanksgiving week - lovely family and scenery and Manatees!!! Very cool. You always have such a good time - the love shines through. Have a good weekend

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    1. Thanks for the nice comment! Yeah, I guess we do always manage to have a good time. It's all about the attitude. With the right attitude, a walk around the neighborhood can be an adventure. :)

      You have a terrific weekend, too.

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  14. Your grandchildren are beautiful! It sounds as if you had a wonderful Thanksgiving -- and much to be thankful for!

    Love that palm tree picture, by the way!

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    1. Thanks! We did have a wonderful Thanksgiving week. I hope you did, too.

      Isn't that palm tree cool? I never saw one growing like that before.

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  15. Beautiful photos and to think that all this week, in fact, for most of November just gone, we have had the opposite of the weather in the Sunshine State! :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. If I could bottle up some of that sunshine, I'd send it your way. :)

      Greetings back atcha.

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  16. Lovely photo's, thanks for sharing. Sounded like a wonderful place and a great time. Happy for you. Okay, now share, how'd you get you son to move to Florida? I just want mine out of the house. :)

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    1. HA! I'm sure your son will be outta the house before you know it. We've been empty nesters for almost twenty years, and (shhhh) I still like it! After nearly thirty years of putting the children first, it's kinda nice that Smarticus and I can do what WE want. The rewards of old age.

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  17. What wonderful photos! Sounds like you had a lovely time. I would love to see the manatees.

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the pics. We definitely had a lovely time. I hope you get to see the manatees someday.They are such slow-moving gently giants. :)

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  18. Forty manatees?! Wow! Glad you had such a wonderful time in Florida! :)

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    1. I know... pretty exciting, huh? Thanks. It really was wonderful.

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  19. Manatees are certainly intriguing animals! There is a viewing area just south of Tampa, where a power plant discharges warm water into the Gulf - during cool weather, the manatees come there in droves. Very neat to see them!

    My sister-in-law lives near Ocala and has mentioned John Travolta being quite active in the community, donating money to a local theater group etc.

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    1. We saw manatees once before on a visit to Tampa, but it was in Clear Water. Only thing was, they were in captivity. We could see them upclose and personal, and watched them for quite a while, but it was soooooo much more exciting to see them in the wild. If you haven't already been to Blue Springs State Park, I highly recommend it, It's a beautiful place to walk.

      Oh. cool. All I knew about Travolta's place in Florida is that he has an airstrip on his land. Nice to know he's active in the community.

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  20. Hey Susan,

    Yeah, I know and I'm sorry. I realise you've been anxiously waiting for one of my highly collectable comments that cause a bidding frenzy on e-bay. Yes, then I woke up....

    What a wonderful time you had with your family. I only recently heard of manatees. Weird creatures, indeed.

    Right then and sadly, I most go because it's gone two in the morning in lil' ol' England.

    A good weekend to you and your loved ones, Susan.

    Gary

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    1. Hi-ya, Gary! It's great to hear from you again.

      Manatees are amazing critters, but it's hard to believe some people believe sailors used to mistake them for mermaids. (Neat animals, but they'd make really ugly mermaids!)

      And a very happy weekend to you, too.

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  21. Thanks for sharing your good times.
    I love that palm tree.

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    1. Thank YOU for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      I love that tree, too. Talk about resilience. :)

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  22. You came to my state and didn't visit me? Couldn't even bother to call? What in the hell is wrong with you? Maybe you don't want to see me, but you missed the opportunity to meet Franklin and Penelope. I swear. I don't know what to do with you.

    Love maybe,
    Janie

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    1. Geez, if I'm in trouble for not seeing all the people we know who live in the state of Florida, I'm in BIG trouble...!

      (I still love YOU... :) )

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  23. Manatees are almost like fictitious creatures. How wonderful to have seen some. I'm jealous.

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    1. Manatees sure LOOK like fictitious creatures! (I still don't see how sailors could have possibly mistaken them for mermaids, though.)

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  24. Beautiful nature pics. I enjoy walking around with my camera. I'm glad you had an amazing time with your family.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the pics. Digital cameras sure made it easier to take a bunch of pics, didn't they? :)

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  25. You've got some lovely grandchildren, and it sounds like a great time. While you were soaking in the rays, we were covered in snow and below freezing. Kinda jealous.

    Also, call me crazy, but I think manatees are kinda cute in a dopey, obese kind of way.

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    1. No offense, but I'm not the least bit jealous of all your snow and below-freezing temperatures. :)

      Okay, Crazy, I think manatees are amazing. On top of them being so cool to watch, they actually make me look svelte and energetic...

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  26. Love the grandkids. So many girls...

    And the manatees. Maybe I'll take that trip to see them someday.

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, we do have a lot of girls, but we also have a lot of boys: 7 girls, and 6 boys. :)

      Yes! You've gotta go see the manatees, if you possibly can. Quite an experience.

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  27. Grandkids and manatees - what better way to spend Thanksgiving! So now...Merry Christmas!

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    1. You're right... it was a GREAT way to spend Thanksgiving. :) Maybe we'll have lizards to go with the grandkids for Christmas... :)

      And a very Merry Christmas to you, too!

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  28. Wow that's such an awesome experience! I love that the water is so clear. :-)

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    1. The clear water was pretty astounding. I was amazed by all the huge fish we could see swimming around. That area is fed by an underwater spring... of warm water. Which is why the manatees spend the winter there. :)

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  29. I love Florida, humidity and all. :) Glad you got down to see family. Nice looking crew you have there too! :) Merry Christmas to you!

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    1. I mostly love Florida, but there's a limit to how much heat and humidity I can tolerate. Which is why we rarely go down there in the middle of the summer... :)

      Merry Christmas to you and your family, too!

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  30. I have never seen manatees but saw them in your photos. Your Thanksgiving must have been so much fun with your beautiful grandchildren in such a beautiful area. Thanks for coming to my blog – I have been busy with family health issues and am way behind visiting blogs.

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    1. Our Thanksgiving was wonderful; I hope yours was, too. Family needs trump blogging every time. Thanks for stopping by. I hope the family is doing better now.

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  31. Hey, you weren't too far from me! Wish I'd have known. We live in the Orlando area, but on the outskirts where there's still a little (but rapidly disappearing) nature.

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    1. Oh, cool. So I take it you've been to Blue Springs before? (If not, you've gotta go!) Before he moved, our son lived in Haynes City, and worked in Orlando, so we got to know that area fairly well. (We loved Olde Town, especially when they had car shows.)

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  32. What a great quote about bringing your own sunshine. So true! Looks like you had a great time and had fun with your grandbabies of all ages. :) Glad you got to see manatees too!
    ~Jess

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    1. We did have a great time, and it was made even better by those big ol' lumbering manatees. :)

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