Visiting Family at Ocean Pond

our site

Our huge site at Ocean Pond

We got to Ocean Pond Campground in the Osceola National Forest Monday.  Since then we have spent 100% of our time catching up on the last four years with my sister Gail and BIL Mike.  It is so wonderful to spend time with family we love and have missed for so long!

Gail and Mike are camped across the street from us.

Gail and Mike are camped across the street from us.

Gail has drawn up plans for the house she wants and they are negotiating for land right now.  What an exciting prospect! She had drawn plans for the beautiful Victorian home that they had before they moved to Texas.  But this time she wants something small and simple — country style.

How wonderful it must be to know exactly what you want and be able to draw the plans yourself!  She also has the gift of looking at bare land and visualizing how the finished home will look on it.  And she’s a financial whiz.  I think she got most of Daddy’s genes!  🙂

They are camping in the van that Gail remodeled into a camper.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to what she did.

Photo taken at Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park

Photo taken at Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park

Before we got here, we overnighted at Veteran’s Memorial State Park, as we often do on our way to Florida.  This time it’s under new management and the rate is $35 a night.  With our senior  and annual park passes, it was still $28 a night.  But the campground is in even greater need of repairs than it was last time we visited.  It struck us as kind of seedy.  So we’ll opt for a nearby Passport America park for $20 a night on future Florida trip stopovers.

Sheba is being so good this trip.  So far!  As long as she gets 3 good walks a day, she handles being tied up per campground rules pretty well.  I’m proud of her.

Ron and sheba at Veterans Memorial

Ron and sheba at Veterans Memorial

Little Sunny is failing fast.  He is almost blind, almost deaf, and has trouble walking.  So walks with him consist of a short stroll, then my carrying him the rest of the way.  I suppose I should get him a stroller, but I’m not quite ready for that.

I am not at all happy with the photos my new phone takes.  So I will probably start hauling around my Lumix when I want some decent shots.

There was one other Casita here, owned by people from Seattle.  Then after dark another Casita pulled in and is parked on the street behind us.  We’ll say hello to them tomorrow!

At least the leaf color was first rate!

At least the leaf color was first rate!

 

 

 

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Last Day at Lake Seminole

Late afternoon sun shining through Spanish moss

Late afternoon sun shining through Spanish moss

Yesterday, as predicted, was rainy, chilly and gusty. So, as planned, we hibernated indoors and read and worked crosswords… and took nice naps without guilt!

It was almost too late in the day to photograph this family of geese.

It was almost too late in the day to photograph this family of geese.

This afternoon reached the low 70’s with a steady breeze that made wearing long sleeves feel good.  But the sky was a clear, deep blue and I marveled at our freedom to tow our little Casita to such gorgeous places and claim them as our own for days at a time.

I loved seeing families and friends enjoying picnics, fishing, and and groups of people having a good time together.  There were a lot of people here this weekend, but the campground stayed quiet.  Even the music the large group was playing was so soft that we could only hear it when we walked directly in front of  the campsite they had all gathered at.

More geese

More geese

I hope we can return here again some day.  🙂

We plan to head to Ft. Pickens tomorrow.   I am excited about the prospect of camping near salt water again.

This dad and his family were catching catfish.

This dad and his family were catching catfish.

A family affair

A family affair

The sun setting over the water

The sun setting over the water

Sunset through the trees

Sunset through the trees

 

 

 

 

 

What a Perfect Day!

Camping at Mom's

Camping at Mom’s

Hope took this picture of a black capped chickadee today

Hope took this picture of a black capped chickadee today

All of the tension, stress and depression of the last three months I was stuck at home are gone!  We spent all day today out in warm sunshine and fresh air.  It’s the best medicine on earth!  We feel relaxed, stress-free, happy and are thrilled that the day turned out so perfect!

We slept with all the windows open last night.  Then this morning started out chilly, but warmed up beautifully.  The thermometer on Mom’s back porch read 82 degrees this afternoon when I went in to get hot dogs and hamburgers ready for the grill.

It was lovely popping into Mom’s and Hope’s houses for visits on and off all day.  Hope showed me several inventive things she’s devised to attract birds for her to photograph.

Most of the spring flowers are gone now, but a few azaleas are left.

Most of the spring flowers are gone now, but a few azaleas are left.

Then Ann and Cecil came down this afternoon.  We spent time visiting outside under the big old live oak tree, then ate dinner and visited inside until we were all too sleepy to be very good company.  Just a perfect family get-together.

Sheba and Sunny had a blast being able to run free all day.  Sheba stayed out of the neighbor’s horse pasture this time.  And she quickly learned the boundaries she couldn’t stray beyond.

Fern fiddlehead -- from a Boston fern in Hope's garden.

Fern fiddlehead — from a Boston fern in Hope’s garden.

However, she HATES to come in the trailer at night.  We were able to get her in the last two nights, but simply can’t catch her to bring her in this evening.  She runs when we call her and she is so fast she evades any efforts we make.  She does stay right on the porch mat when we come inside because she is afraid of the dark.  So we have turned the porch light out, hoping against hope that she would rather come into the trailer with us than stay out in the dark alone.

We do so well with her at home.  But camping always seems to present a crisis in dealing with her.

The afternoon light patterns in Mom's yard are magical.  :)

The afternoon light patterns in Mom’s yard are magical. 🙂

P.S.  Ron was finally able to wrestle her inside.

The last remaining pear blooms

The last remaining pear blooms

Sunlight shining through hand soap dispenser this morning.  Another magic moment!

Sunlight shining through hand soap dispenser this morning. Another magic moment!

Unknown... but it's one of the last remaining clumps of blooms on this tree, too.

Unknown… but it’s one of the last remaining clumps of blooms on this tree, too.

Doggie bonding

Doggie bonding

Wood sorrel

Wood sorrel

Pretty little purple wildflowers behind wood sorrel

Pretty little purple wildflowers behind wood sorrel

Back at Mom’s

Japanese honeysuckle blooming in late November

We arrived at Mom’s house Monday afternoon.  Gail was here waiting for us, and Mike had already headed to Jacksonville to visit his children.

We are parked in our usual spaces under the big live oak tree in front of Dad’s old shed where the electric outlets are.  Last time we were here we tripped a breaker, so Gail is plugged into Mom’s back porch now.

Two of the horses next door

Mom, Hope, Gail and I have had a wonderful time visiting.  Gail and I sat outside until late this evening enjoying the warmth and ambiance of the propane campfire.

Ann has gone to Jacksonville to pick up AJ, and our baby sister Jeannie and her husband will be here tomorrow, too.  Cecil and Ron had a good time visiting this evening when Cecil got off work.

So we are home again, and all is right with our world.  🙂

Our camp — Gail’s van and our Casita on either side of Daddy’s shed

Sheba has spent the day barking at the horses next door, who completely ignore her.  Sunny enjoyed playing with the neighbor’s little chihuahua.

And to my absolute delight, Sheba has not jumped on anyone since we got here.  She still wants to, but has finally learned that people like her a lot better when she doesn’t!

Inside Gail’s van

The shower in the Casita is draining well now, so that’s a relief.  But the furnace is making funny noises like the fan is hitting on something, so I’ll take the cover off and see if I can see anything loose tomorrow.

I just love Gail’s van.  If I ever have another RV, it would be so much fun to get a van and build the interior to suit myself like she did.  It feels so cozy and homey inside!

Another shot of Gail’s van

 

 

Sheba is a Socialite!

Sheba 6 weeks and 5 days old

Today was Sheba’s first veterinarian visit.  When I took her in, the receptionist exclaimed, “Oh, how adorable!  May I please hold her?”  Then two other staff members wanted their turn.  One girl said, “That is the cutest puppy I have ever seen!”  The receptionist took a picture of her, and they asked if they could continue holding her until time for us to go in to see the doctor.

Sunny asking Daddy for a treat

I had been so worried about how she would react to new people. She LOVED them.  In fact, she was so relaxed that she fell asleep on the examining table while we were waiting for her lab results.

Then after we got home, a neighbor dropped by to see how the new puppy was doing, and Sheba loved her, too.

I am so relieved.  I got Sunny when he was 4 years old.  He was distrustful of people and has never really gotten over it except with people he knows well.

Maybe little Sheba can help him feel more comfortable meeting people when they are together.  Sunny was initially annoyed with her, but now they enjoy being with each other.

Oh, the vet said that he sees Australian Shepherd in her.  So I think I have an Australian Shepherd/Lab mix.  But I’m not sure.  🙂

Ron and I are floating with happiness over the new family addition.   She has brought such a sense of completion to our lives!

My big boy, Sunny

A Little Christmas

Our tiny Christmas display

I very seriously debated putting up a tree this year.

There’s just Ron and I.  There’s no other family around.  It’s doubtful we’ll have holiday company.

But then I decided that we really need the cheerful lights, the tangible celebration of faith, and reminders of Christmases past.  So I had Ron pick up a tiny live tree this evening to decorate.

As I went through boxes of decorations, each piece brought back memories of where I got it and what was going on in my life at the time.  Some memories were sweet.  Some bittersweet.  But the effect was to envelop me in the sweet peace and contentment that is Christmas.

I put out a few other of my favorite decorations, but kept them to a minimum this year.

Tonight I have beautiful music playing and am in a very special place.

My LEDs for the Casita arrived today.  I installed them earlier this evening and am very pleased with the effect.  They are warm white, and while not as warm as the incandescents, they still give a pleasing, natural light.  What was really fun was watching the battery monitor register the drop in current they drew compared to the original bulbs.

So the Casita got a Christmas present, too!  🙂

Planning the Trip Home

Next week it looks like it will warm up enough for us to head home to Florida to visit family.  It’s about time!  I have a bad case of cabin fever!

I’m working on a very pretty (simple) spring flower tatted motif that I hope to finish tonight.  I’ll be framing it as part of a wall decor arrangement.  Will post a photo when it’s done.  🙂

Family Fish Fry

Mom with the fish that didn't get away!

We had another memorable day yesterday when Jeannie, Darrel and the boys arrived at Mom’s and cooked a fish feast for us!

Darrel and DW caught the fish, Jeannie dredged them in seasoned corn meal, and DW manned the fish cooker.

It was the most delicious fish I’ve ever eaten… and the company was priceless.

DW, the chef!

DW and Mom

Hope

Jeannie

Jesse

Another chef photo

Sunny, who is demoted to a yard dog at Grandma's house!

Colors of Late Autumn

late fall color

Our back yard November 14

I took this photo of my back yard a few minutes ago.    We did not have brilliant red and gold fall colors here this year.  But the stunning beauty in the infinite variety of rich browns made me gasp.  What a gift!

I am still not well, but am not feeling awful anymore.  Ron is antsy to head south, so we plan to leave tomorrow.  We’ll just drive a little way and hole up at a pretty campsite for a couple of days, then meander on down to Florida.

We will probably camp in campgrounds for a few more days until my symptoms are gone then go to Mom’s house for a few days.  I definitely don’t want to pass these germs on to my family!

My brother in law is going in for surgery Tuesday.  I do so regret that I can’t visit with him before he goes into the hospital.  I may not be able to visit him while he’s there.  I will just have to wait and see how fast I make a full recovery.

 

Family Get-together at Mom’s

We left Hillsborough River on Friday, March 26 for a final family get-together at Mom’s with Gail and Mike on Saturday before their move to Texas.  Note the yellow ribbon around the old live oak tree!

Mom has 5 rural acres, so we were pleased to have free camping!  There is also a septic tank where a mobile home site used to be, so we also had our own private dump station!

Joan and Jerry had just arrived home from a trip to Tennessee when Mom called and told them Gail and Mike were coming to her house.  So Joan and Jerry jumped back into the car and headed to Live Oak.  Although Jerry is older than the rest of us, he has more energy than all of us put together!

This was the most wonderful family get-together we had in a long time.  Nothing but joy and love, mixed in with a subtle sadness that our little family was going to be geographically split apart.

And some of us wondered if we’d all be able to get together again.

But mostly it was laughter and just the fun of being together today.

Ron and I were fortunate because we knew that we would see Gail and Mike again next weekend to help with loading the truck.

Joan and Jerry

Joan and Jerry

Ron and Joan

Ron (my husband) and Joan