Parrot Curiosity Killed the Xmas Lights – Picture

Strictly speaking it didn’t kill the Xmas lights, I caught him in time.

Back in 1986, I bought Oscar from a pet store in Pennsylvania.  I’ve had him ever since.  He was an adult when I got him, and is named Oscar because he’s always been a green grouch.  He’s mellowing with age so the name isn’t quite as fitting as it once was.  I’ve kept him around through all the moves because he’s manageable as opposed to having a telephone booth sized cage with a cockatoo in the house.  His antics are entertaining, and he’s actually engaging in his grumpy ways. 

Realizing that he’s not really a grouch, just a fearful bird, I tend to take a hands off attitude with him, allowing him to play on top of his cage as I do my own thing around the house.  The cage is in the middle of the room on a room divider that is just the right height for me to use as a workbench.  Every time I pull apart a computer to build a Dumpster Server or work on something that needs room to roam, it tends to be on there. 

Standing with the project to the left, the bird cage to the right and Oscar comes out and climbs up on top so he can preen my hair and my ears.   He’s learning to be more friendly and with that comes more curiosity. 

Yes, preen my ears.  Maybe he’s saying hello, but this is pretty common behavior now.

This being the holiday season, we tested the lights and found one string of LED lights didn’t work right.  They change color through the rainbow and are C6 size.   They also look “retro”, and since the house was built in 1968, they work really well here.  The one string that didn’t work right was coming on red and staying red so we sent that one back to the vendor and got a new string.  That one string seems to work but was out on the room divider.  Oscar was out of the cage and he decided to explore while I was allowing them to “burn in” for testing purposes.

Putting things on top of the room divider is a great way to get this old buzzard curious.  He’ll climb out if the door’s open and walk over to what ever is there, look in and handle it.  I’ve ended up with screwdrivers on the floor and cables bitten through as a result.  He hasn’t chewed the wood… yet, but he has “handled” it. 

Needless to say, parrots are the Perpetual Two Year Old of the animal kingdom.  “Mine!” and “No!” are in their clownish little heads as they try to explore the entire house.  Luckily he has avoided Mrs Dog, and she wants nothing to do with him.  

I watch them all closely.

Sitting in the Big Green Chair doing my own thing, I hear rattling as the C6 bulb taps the glass.  Looking over I give the Big Green Bird the Evil Eye and say “I’m Watching You!”.   That’s quite enough for him, he pads over to the cage and climbs back in… for a while.

We went through this twice more when I decided that he might be safer without electrical appliances with mains voltages running through them, and I rather like having the little green clown safe around the house.

Burn in period is done, Oscar’s fine, the lights are fine, and all is right on the room divider now that the projects are done.

You just never know what your two year old will get into, even if he is 24 years old by the calendar.

Happy Thanksgiving – Picture

Happy Thanksgiving from

Today, I expect… you may not get to this.  So I threw together the picture you see here.

I’m going to be having a Pot Roast today.  They sold the Prime Bottom Round that we were going to roast out from under us, so today we’re having Sirloin Tip roasted.  I don’t know what this will be like, and I’m writing this “yesterday afternoon” so if Plans Change, I’ll let you know.

I’m sitting in the Big Green Chair researching recipes, and I think what I’m going to do is make a Lemon Pie with three ingredients plus a Graham Cracker shell (Ready Made – Don’t Tell!).  If the pie comes out well, I’ll report on that later.

There’s going to be biscuits which means there will be extra butter for making cookies… that all has to happen “yesterday” so since “today” I’m taking off… Enjoy your holidays!

Elephant Ear Flower in Bloom – Picture

Being a chilly day (for us) I wanted something bright to look at.  It should be tropical and not terribly common.

I went through the most recent photo libraries that I had around and spotted this one picture.

I’ve heard them called Elephant Ear plants but after doing a bit of digging I found that it’s also Taro which the Hawaiians eat as Poi

The flower itself came and went, glowing in the evening setting sun.  The leaves are still there, as the plant is grown as an ornamental here.  There is a rather large stand of them next door.  Standing waist high these giant leaves make for a pleasant and showy display. 

Reading the description, it seems that you can grow them readily as long as they’re kept warm and planted in rich soils.  Protect from cool weather under 50F/10C and you are good to go.

So, Pat, you can grow them outside, but you’d have to pull them up over winter.  If you really want an exotic plant, I know of a couple palm tree species that will grow up there in the New Jersey Prairies and overwinter outdoors…

Post Apocalyptic Wilton Manors – Picture

If they blew up your city would it look like this?

I was going out to take pictures that could be used to illustrate different things about Wilton Manors.  Right in the middle of town is the Wings And Things restaurant.   It’s “sleeping”.  The construction project is on hold and promised to begin again.  They even have a name for it, called Sushi Rock, it promises to open with something new and shiny.

Some time in the future.

So for now we wait and use it for practice on composition and photography. 

There are always construction sites around and in cities.  Sometimes you have full access and can get on the grounds and get some spectacular sites.  In my case, I’m 6’4″ and have really long arms so access was not needed.  Standing on the outside of the construction fence, I was able to adjust the focus to zoom in on the doorway.  Something about the view was interesting to me, how the stripes of shades come down in a regular pattern on a 45 degree angle like some sort of Construction-Henge monument to Chicken Wings long past.  It almost looks as if it was planned that way.

With my apologies to Stonehenge.

For now, I’ll practice at getting interesting shots.  When they start to build, I’m sure I’ll be out there taking occasional photos…  I already have the “before” here.

Broken vs Shiny Picture

Wilton Manors has a wart on its nose.   It is the old Wings and Things Property.   This was a failed redevelopment project that happened as the property values everywhere went bust. 

The Property was bought, plans filed and begun.  They started building walls and extensions to the place to add value and extra outdoor seating, a raised platform and three grand trees.

They then ran out of money. 

The trees survived, although I would be willing to bet that who ever starts work on this place will cut them all down since most of them only got so much water in the first month before the water got turned off and were left to fend for themselves.

The structure in the front was to be a grand arbor encased in Bougainvillea vines.  This actually fared quite well and I’m surprised.  You can see that the plants are rooted and mature and flowering over the arbor.

In the background in stark contrast to the Wings and Things wart, you have the Gables Wilton Park buildings.   This property was built just before Wings, and completed a large, professionally managed apartment complex.  It is intended to be high end housing, and having been in the place, it is obvious that the buildings are built to last.  Thick concrete block walls sanded satin smooth and finished with a loft or semi industrial appearance gives an air of permanence.  I get the same feeling when I’m on South Beach and look at the old Deco District buildings.  They will be here long after we all have gone. 

Watching the property go up, I saw how the drainage retention pond was buried under piers and a thick layer of concrete is trussed up over it like a bridge.  The Bridge was paved over with a thick layer of asphalt and concrete.  It is clear that the Gables Company does not mess around, they intend to be a part of the community and intend to produce a durable product.  The quality of construction and materials made that quite obvious. 

Hopefully now that we have signs on the Wings and Things property implying that construction will begin again, the place will be finished off and we will have something soon that will be worthy of sitting in the shadow of Gables’ large residential and commercial space.   Sitting in the middle of this picture, under the arbor in the Gables building is the home of Wilton Manors Main Street

Wilton Manors expects and deserves excellence on the Drive.  We want a better city for all of us.  Here’s hoping the construction will rise to that level.

Making the Urban Look Rural in Photos

If you manage to be at the right place at the right time, you can get the right picture.

It may be about positioning and the art of making the camera do it’s thing, but a lot of the art of photography is simply location, timing, and post production. 

I have been lucky with that.  I use a camera that is fairly simple, and does most of the work for me.   Having an optical zoom is a requirement – that digital zoom stuff is for the birds and you can digitally zoom in by using the crop tool on a dozen different programs.

When you have the right view, you are mentally cropping things for the camera to begin with.  I think I all came together here.  This photo is unretouched, but it was shrunk down for the web.   I don’t put the originals up because of the limitations of all the pieces with the blog – Picasa and Blogger.  Eventually I’ll run out of space but for now, 640×480 is more than enough.

Pat if you want any of the originals, let me know. 🙂

Going out on a photo safari, I was walking around the park at the bottom of town and thought how pristine this looked.  I’m in what has to be very close to the middle of the sprawl of South Florida.  One of the 10 largest metro areas in the nation.  Cars and trucks screaming by, airplanes growling overhead and all the other elements that add to the cacophony of urban life when I saw this scene. 

Gently rippling water reflecting light, exposing the little minnows under the surface.  For a moment I could forget that I was standing on a boat dock just under the Wilton Drive bridge into Fort Lauderdale where speeders reigned supreme.  I could be transported back in time to before they started building up this particular part of paradise for better or worse.

I stepped back into the beauty of nature, forgetting that I was being watched by some folks in the crowded condos across the river in Fort Lauderdale I felt at one with the world and alone and happy with the company.

You Are Being Watched – Picture

Granted, there are better pictures that I have posted.  A jumble of green and grey won’t make for a good background picture, but this shows three of my favorite things to shoot.

You are being watched.  Or rather I was here. 

I went out on a Photo Safari the other day.  It was a brilliant afternoon, and I managed to get about 1/2 of Wilton Drive pictured for Wilton Manors Main Street.  I have a brochure that I have to put together, and the first step was going out and just getting pictures of everything and anything. 

Some I knew would just not fit.  This picture is one of them.  In the 92 pictures I took in the afternoon, I’d say about 1/2 of the shots were done to show the wildlife in Wilton Manors.  Plants, Trees, Flowers, naturescape, and animals. 

Deep within the bowels of this Tillandsia, itself a beautiful plant there is one single, golden ring.  That ring belongs to a lizard – anole that is watching me from its hiding place against the trunk of a rather sturdy palm tree.  The anole saw me and ducked under cover for safety, which they’re known for doing.  On the other hand, you can see a lot of people here with geckos and anoles tattooed to their legs.  Every time I garden it seems that I find one clamped onto my calf thinking it isn’t connected to that hand that came down out of the sky after the weeds it was hiding in. 

Can you tell that I’m entertained by the little insect eaters?  In fact, one is watching me right this moment as I write about them.  Out on the front porch, climbing up the leaf of a screw palm is a male anole flapping its dew lap…

Plumeria in Bloom Picture

Apparently this plumeria is the most beautiful flower in the world.

Or so I have been told.  

Ok, they’re beautiful flowers, but The Most?  I don’t know, I have a personal preference for Hibiscus or orchids in general…

Around this neighborhood in a state named after Flowers, there are plenty of blooms all year.  In order for me to look at the back yard from the living room, I have to look through the bougainvillea blossoms and the vines.   Truly a beautiful place if you like flowers. 

Plumeria is an odd looking plant here.  We may be at the Northern part of the range for them.  They sit in the sun all year looking like a hat rack with a few lone leaves at the end of the plant.  Eventually they get productive and out come these beautiful flowers.  When they drop off, at least here in South Florida, you end up back with a place to hang your shirt. 

They’re also called Frangipani, which I have heard more often.  Walking into one of those “Earth Stores”, you’ll see piles of little brown bottles of incense, and almost always they have Frangipani.

On the other hand they are pretty.  The flowers that is, not the bottles.  The bottle I got wasn’t Frangipani but “Cool Rain” what ever that is.  Also known as Old Car Smell but that is a story for another day.

Orchids in Bloom Picture

Last month in the middle of the election insanity, I hadn’t had a chance to go out into the yard.   I was just too busy.

There was one exception.  It was when I took these pictures.

When I was a Snowbird, there was a treat I would give myself.  I’d go to the KMart on Oakland Park Blvd and wander through the place looking for supplies and eventually gravitate to the little garden center.  There I would see the plants I couldn’t hope to grow outdoors and among them would be a collection of Orchid seedlings.  I’d find the same plants back up north and bring them back to my house to try to grow the things.  They would hang on through the winter and into the summer I’d see some green but usually never anything else.  I just did not have the proper conditions.

These plants were from the same quality that I got at the KMart that is still at the same spot, within a long walk from my front door.  That store being a smaller KMart has slowly but surely dropped their garden shop back to being the bare essentials.  They still have a few of these seedlings so we got a couple of the Cattleya orchids that are the “Corsage” flowers we are all used to.  The smaller Phalaeonopsis also a plant I got there from seedling and it actually “died”.  I was down to zero leaves and a flower spike at one point.  This particular plant grew the flower spike, put out a shock of pink veined blossoms, then started growing leaves.  It has been in constant bloom ever since.

Being outdoors, these flowers get exposed to the critters that live in the neighborhood.  If an Iguana spotted them they’d be gone in a salad.  Luckily the big iguanas have not yet returned to my neighborhood but they are in the adjacent areas.  It is only a matter of time.

All I had to do was hang these plants in the partial shade of my shed eave, add a drip waterer from my irrigation system and basically ignore the thing.

Give anything the right conditions and it will grow and prosper.  Sometimes the right condition is to ignore them.  Natural systems, plant or animal, just need to be left alone when they have the right conditions.  Man Made systems always require maintenance and adjustments after a while.  It is just up to the creator of the system to adjust things in a careful way.  With luck and care you end up with some beauty. Even when neglected or placed in a spot that is too hot, you sometimes end up with something that is going to survive despite the neglect or even abuse.  Get rid of the abuse and you may just have a beautiful blooming system.

Natural or Man Made.

I live in a place where I can make my own backgrounds

“You live in a place that looks like the background on the PC”.

Interesting comment right?   Well I do.  Actually I caught myself doing this sort of thing for a while.   I take a lot of pictures as anyone who has looked at this blog has noticed, and I just drop all the blog pics into a folder on the laptop and let Windows 7 change them every 10 minutes or so.   I never see the background anyway since it is always covered up by all sorts of things, but I like knowing they are there.

Who said it?   My cousin from Nebraska.  I had never actually met the guy before, and he came here for his first ever visit to South Florida.   At 830PM, we had been chatting for about 2 hours, and I flipped the switches to all the pool lights and up spots and we went outside.   He got real animated and looked at my hedges and the orchid in bloom on the shed (its actually resting between flower spikes) and was like a kid in a candy store.

My cousin is a farmer who just sold the farm and is looking around the country for the first time and liked what he sees here.  I took him for a walk with the dog around town and every Palm tree we passed, every shefflerra that towered over the apartment building and said things like “That’s a house plant back home”.  

I promised him two meyer lemons off my little tree in a pot so he can try to grow them from seed.   It’s mindbending to someone from out of town just how lush things can be.  Of course all those plants are not native species, and we’re not in a natural environment.   We get around 50 inches of rain in around 6 months.  Six Months of Flood, Six Months of Drought I have heard it called.   It makes for an interesting natural landscape, and when someone from “up North” can show you what you have, no matter how much you appreciate it, it is always a welcome eye opener.

I think I’ll toss some lemon seeds back in the hedges and let them fight it out with the bamboo… and why not? since the neighbor behind me has a Papaya Grove in the yard!