Fun with the Sun

And I'm back, with the usual flowers, birds and things.

Bright orange flowers...

This is my neighbors tree and it's beautiful. It's an African Tulip tree.

  I truly need to snarf some seeds.

  I just now finally got around to cleaning up my files and found a few odds and ends of pictures I've taken over the last few month that didn't really go anywhere else.

Here's Mike using the truck for a bit of yard work.

Nope, don't know what this is either. I have several of these plants and suddenly they decided to flower. Small flowers but pretty colors.

I had to get this guy out into the sun to get a better look at it.

I get easily distracted.

Time to play! How about some Fun with the Sun?

I just can't quite grasp it!

Three big vultures sitting in a tree...

Showing me their wings..

Not the most exotic of birds but I think they like to pose for me.

Buttercup, baby!

Bright, bright dianthus...

Soft pink mums...

A little yellow bird...

Crested caracara...

The hawk is looking at me...

Fluffy seed pods against fluffy clouds...

And on to the next project: Dirt, dirt and more dirt!

Enjoy the Holidays!

Indian VooDoo Turtle Shell Florida War Wind Chime

I'm not sure what this is after I put it all together, so the title is a bit wordy.

This project started when I found a dead Turtle Shell after all the flooding had finally receded. The shell was in pretty good shape. The turtle had only left a few dried up leathery bit and pieces of bone so I put it on an ant hill hoping that would take care of the rest of the fleshy parts. A month later, no change. Time to take matters into my own hands.

A quick search on the internet and I found that most people will boil them. So I did and, man, did it stink up the house! I can't imagine what it would have smelled like if I had had an entire fresh turtle in there, Whew!

Here's the bits of fleshy stinky bones left over. 

Uh oh, this turtle has scales and the boiling heat has them falling off. So, I searched the net again. It turns out that to keep the color of the shell it's best to save the scales if they come off and then glue them back on afterwards. Sounds like a lot of work, and not for me! Screw it! With the use of a toothbrush and my trusty thumbnail, I managed to clean it all out, scales and all.

Beautiful color on the bottom.

I decided to stain it and the only stain I had on hand was cherry. Here's the first coat, I don't think it's dark enough.

Here's the bottom after a coat of cherry stain. Luckily the colors are still there.

Since I like to do my projects with whatever I have on hand (read: too cheap and lazy to go to the store and buy it) I decided to darken the stain. Back to the old "www" and I came up with the idea to grate up your average charcoal briquette and mix it into the stain. 

Much better, maybe another coat!

Now this looks much more like a natural turtle shell. Success!

I left the bottom side light colored and then I sprayed the whole thing, several coats, with a matte finish to help preserve it. Now what to do with it? Back to the net. I found this really neat VooDoo Windchime thing that someone else had made. So my design was based on that.

It was made from all natural things, so I scoured the yard for materials. First off they used some really rough jute string. I didn't have any, but I did find this. It's the leaves of a Century plant that we had pulled out and let die. See the fibers? Hmm...

This is the plant. We have a bunch of these in the yard, very easy to grow, babies shooting out everywhere. I'm not sure if it's called a Century plant or not but it is a member of the agave family.

So I stripped a bunch of fibers out and quickly taught myself how to make the fibers into ropes. This picture  here is done by twisting the fibers down your thigh until it wraps itself into a nice piece of twine. I eventually learned to place two fibers together in a Y. Twist one side, flip one over the other and do it again and again  until I had a nice length of rope. It came out rough because this is not the ideal fiber for the job but rough was what I was going for anyway.  You'll see those later.

The "VooDoo" part? Old chicken bones. I scrubbed them up and gave them a coat of stain also.

Now I gathered all my materials to see what I had to work with. The homemade jute twine is on the left. 

The "War" part? How about I make some Indian looking dart things. These are the tips of the dried up Century plant and some from these huge mother-in-law tongue plants I have. Awesome.

Here's one tied to the feathers. That takes care of the "Indian" part.

Here is one "dart" stabbing my VooDoo home grown gourd.

So I put it all together with some seashells for the "Florida Windchime" part. One good thing about my design is that it is held all together with just twine. I can take it apart at any time and re-do it if I want. And the turtle shell is still intact, no holes.

Here it is complete. What'cha think?

Indian VooDoo Turtle Shell Florida War Wind Chime

Now these thorns have me intrigued. What else can I make from them? Hmm...

Chris and Stephanie come to Florida

A couple months back Chris called to let us know that he and Steph were coming to visit. I didn't believe him, he's said that before. A few weeks later airline confirmations started showing up in my email. Wow, I thought, this was really going to happen!

It's been over a year since I had seen him, longer even for Mike so we were VERY excited. I started cleaning and preparing and making plans until I had absolutely exhausted myself. (Well, the house needed it anyway.) Sure enough, they showed up at my front door for a full week of fun and shenanigans!

They arrived late on a Sunday night but we didn't waste any time having fun.

There was alcohol involved.

Bad pic of me, I look exhausted but Mike is in fine form!

Chris and Steph really enjoyed fishing our pond. Catch and release only. They did pull a few turtles up but were able to get them off the hook without hurting them.

Chris likes to fish, a LOT! We made plans and rented a boat to do some saltwater fishing.

The weather was frightful, at least for SW Florida. Click below to see the full fishing trip.

Click here to see our Saltwater Fishing Trip

Give the kid a handful of chalk and this is what he comes up with. At 29 he's still a kid.

So here is what really made this visit super special. Thanksgiving Day, I actually get to eat vegetables. My 50th birthday also just happened to fall on Thanksgiving this year. I'm truly not happy about this birthday so it was great to have them  here as a distraction. Also I'm pretty sure we will not see each other for Christmas this year so, what the hell. Let's just do all in one day! Click below to see the very first ThankBirthMas celebration. 

Click here to see the big event: ThankBirthMas

We even spent most of a day doing some river fishing. They happened to be here on a free freshwater fishing  day so we bought some worms and headed to the river.

Not a whole lot of luck here. Right away I caught a good sized perch and later a little sun fish. Mike won the day by snagging us 3 pond sized catfish. (Hmmm, I have a pond!)

Did I say Chris likes to fish. He and Steph pulled out quite a few big tilapia from the pond.

Dusty absolutely loves to help.

She stayed right at Chris' side the whole time, just waiting. She gets very excited every time he casts. Chris had to spend some time training her to sit quietly while he was fishing. 

Here's one thing I asked that we do. Click below to see out trip to the Dog Beach on Lover's Key.

Click here to see our day at the Dog Beach on Lover's Key

Chris is playing ball again in a Men's baseball league in Kansas City. He brought 2 gloves and a ball with him so we could play catch.

This brings back some memories.

We didn't get any pics of Chris and I playing catch but Steph and I threw a few, too.

We'll make a ball player out of her yet.

It was a long busy week for all of us. I'm flat exhausted, Dusty is, too.

We had a....... Good Time!