Day of Contrasts

This was one of those “do nothing in particular” days.  It was a dreary day with a few outbursts of rain in which it seemed the rain was falling by the bucket loads!  The sky would clear every now and then and even some streaks of sun made their way down through the overcast skies.  Certainly a “day of contrasts”.

Late this afternoon,  I decided to take a trip to the market down in Naples.  Some fresh fruits and veggies would be very welcome on a day like this.   I packed my little Panasonic camera to take along with me,  stopping in Woodville to see what was new in the ever-changing scenery.  As I pulled into a space in the parking lot,  I was thrilled to see a Mallard duck with her six youngsters.

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I got out of the truck to see if my little bucket of cracked corn was in the back,  but unfortunately,  someone had removed it.  The mother duck was interested at first, thinking I might feed her and her brood,  but she soon swam away, her family behind her…

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The air was so fresh.  We had some thunderstorms pass through this afternoon and it seemed the rain had powerwashed everything,  cleansing not only the dirt, but the air as well.  Even the grasses seemed to sparkle!

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There are so manyvarieties of greenery growing lakeside, it would be quite a task identifying them all!  I loved the Wild Rose growing in the midst of cattails and shrubbery.

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As I walked around,  I saw a couple also taking photos. We chatted a bit….they were as appreciative of the surroundings as I!   Everything seemed so perfect….even the fellow perched atop a five gallon bucket,  fishing from the dock.

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Time was ticking, and I needed to get down to the market.  I reluctantly left,  feeling sad at the idea!

I did my shopping and then began the trip back home.  I decided to take the high road and with the glorious lighting,  I had to stop briefly at the overlook!

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I had not seen the plaque below before.  It must have been placed recently. 

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And I had never noticed the abundant cheerful yellow lilies, either!

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This is looking directly east with Woodville below us.  (not seen)  The houses seen are the ones directly across from Woodville.  I love the big cloud shading the hill!

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This is looking southeast…..

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I scurried on home,  wishing I could linger and take more photos, but it was getting late.  Just shortly after arriving home, the sky opened up once again, dousing all in its way.  We have had a very wet summer thus far, but it has been very agreeable for me as the heat has been minimal!

More American Flags

Last Tuesday when I posted an entry showing American flags blowing about in the breeze,  I was asked if there was a particular reason the flags were being flown.  I’m not sure if it is the same in other countries, but here in the US of A,  it seems like there are always flags to be found nearly everywhere….

There is nothing quite like seeing the enormous flags found at Perkin’s Restaurants.

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Mark snapped the Perkin’s flag while we were in Rochester the other day. 

Later in he day, as the sun was setting, I took this photo at a plaza.  I was pleased with the pastel watercolors behind the red, white, and blue!

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I Googled some flag info last week and was amazed at all the things we do which are not “proper” regarding the US flag. I had bought some (what I thought were very cool!) flag print paper plates and napkins.  I read that these should never be used as they are disrespectful!  Wow!  Ignorance is bliss….eh?

RIP Billy Mays and Like Father, Like Son

The kids are having their friends over late this afternoon for some fun in the pool (probably hot tub as well) and dinner.  Michelle had thought about hotdogs for dinner, but  we talked about it and decided upon grilled chicken,  potato salad,  rolls, and chocolate cake for dessert.

No problem with the potato salad.  I prepared it before eight this morning and it has been in the refrigerator since.  I baked a chocolate cake from scratch.  This one is a killer!!! I really am not fond of chocolate, but this cake is more like a moist, chewy, delicious chocolate brownie with lots of walnuts in it!  The only problem was,  I didn’t have any shortening to grease my bundt pan.  I thought perhaps a little oil with a light coating of flour might work, but I thought wrong.  The “top” of the cake still remains in the pan. ARGH!!! It’s okay….I am sure the kids won’t mind.

So…..

That leaves the chicken.  I got the chicken out to thaw.  I put just a bit of teriyaki sauce on it, because that seems to give it a good flavor.  Then, I got out my Kickin’ Chicken grinder bottle by Weber.  My family adores this seasoning. We all know that freshly-ground spices always tase better, no?

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I had a ten-pound bag of chicken to season.  Have you *any* idea how PAINFUL it becomes to one’s wrists to repeat a grinding action over….and over…..and over again?  So, I am sitting on the couch now, complaining because “this is just taking far too long”!

Enter Ben.

Ben takes said bottle of seasoning and reassures me he will grind up as much as I need.  While he is swinging.  Reluctantly, I hand over the bottle, aware he really has helped me with this task previously. Ben walks to his room, then comes back through the living room with a smile on his face and a roll of duck tape in his hand. 

“I’ll be back”! 

Several minutes later, the door bursts open and in comes Ben, grinning ear to ear! I look and see Mark’s unmistakable green cordless drill in Ben’s hot little (well, not so little) hands.

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Remember, Mark went to college for Mechanical Engineering!  When I saw this, my mind flashed the thought that this must have been the kind of thing my mother-in-law dealt with when Mark was a lad! Ben placed the grinder directly above the bowl the chicken was in, revved the motor, and….

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Within seconds, the chicken was coated in the delightful seasoning.  Not sure how Mark might take this, I took the “modified” drill to him and I suddenly recognized the SAME silly grin Ben had on his face just a while before!  Thus, Michelle took her turn with the contraption.   And, Mark took his turn, calling out all sorts of wild claims about this new invention.  He sounded *just like* Billy Mays!  It was so funny, I nearly fell down laughing!

A  while later,  I got my computer and went to my Twitter account.  I noticed Billy Mays’s name come up.  How funny! It was then that I read of his untimely death and felt so bad.  When I told Mark and Ben, they both looked as though they had lost a dear friend….they said watching his show was one of their highlights! 

Rest in peace, Billy Mays!

Our Lady of Victory Basilica

As Mark and I pulled into the botanical gardens,  my eye caught sight of a most spectacular church…

I toured the gardens, thinking whenI was done, I really needed to check out the church;  I had been to the gardens more than once or twice, but somehow, I missed this! The funniest part was that as Mark sat in the parking lot, *he* noticed the church, too, and asked if I needed to check it out!

After taking many photos of the church exterior, my interest really piqued!  After all, this is unlike any other church…or building for that matter…..found in Buffalo!

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At this point, I will interject that a comprehensive history and tour of both inside and outside the basilica can be found here:

http://olv-bvs.org/ourladyofvictory/Basilica/Welcome.html

I just have to note on the statue below. (I found this info on the link above)  This basilica was the dream of a priest named Father Baker.  He wanted to build this edifice and worked to get the funding for it.  The two large statues were created in Italy of marble and one was to feature a nun, representing the sisters who worked at the various facilities there. The other was to feature a priest.  When the new statue arrived and was unveiled, Father Baker was most upset to find HE was the “brother” represented!  After some hot words  from the priest, he finally conceded….

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My very favorite part of this church is the four giant copper angels, facing north, south, east, and west.

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It would be interesting to see the inside of this church. From the photos given on the link I provided,  it looks like it would be an awesome sight!

Finishing up at the Botanical Gardens

I have decided to finish up our little tour of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens today, so no one will be throwing rotten cyber-tomatoes at me!   I got a little carried away at this place, but it really was remarkable, albeit nearly oppressive with the heat factor!

I really enjoyed the Begonia House.  It was more like a “room”, but was gorgeous with all varieties of begonias. There were so many different types and even though many had no flowers on them, the leaves alone were outstanding!

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 Okay, so I guess this is a self-portrait! At the bottom of the mirror is a small plaque stating, “The most important part of a garden is the one who enjoys it”…….(very true, eh?)

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 And after the Begonia House came……

The Orchid House!  Amazing. Awesome. Fantastic!!!  Now I see why people go nuts over Orchids.

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This last photo reminds me of Orchid “fish” swimming amongst the greens!

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Next was the Victorian Ivy and Herb House….

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complete with two different artists working….

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From there was the Seasonal House and Rental Space,  then the Panama Cloud Forest and Epiphyte Pavilion, which was awesome with Orchids and Bromeliads growing there.

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The very last display was the Florida Everglades.  By this time, the heat was nearly dizzifying,  so I didn’t stop to take any more photos, although there was a nice snake plant.  Ah well.

As I passed though the admittance area,  I commented on the heat and a woman said bottled water was available.  I declined after seeing a couple pay $3.00 for their small cups of coffee.  After all,  our truck was waiting in the parking lot with a cooler of sodas and waters!  Before I left, the woman did advise me to walk around the grounds a bit to see the roses and other gardens…..

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The roses were nice enough, but do you see that awesome building in the upper left corner?  Yeah, another adventure!

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 I really enjoyed this place….it was very inviting inside, although I think I would rather see it in a colder season!  I do know it is decked out at Christmas…..perhaps I need to visit then!

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I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens!

From the Desert to the Tropics…

After visiting the Tropical Rainforest,  the next house was the desert. What a contrast!

After walking into the desert house, I thought I was going to pass out from the heat!  I didn’t happen to see  thermometer in there, but it was majorly hot.  I walked through, thinking there wouldn’t be many photo ops. After all, we all know what cacti and succulents look like.  Don’t we?  I was bowled over by the colors and textures…..(to say nothing of SIZE!)

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Okay, so I took a *few* pictures in the desert house.  Truly there wouldn’t be many in the tropical house.  We all know tropical plants because most of our houseplants are so labeled.

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Yes,  I did indeed lie.  I couldn’t stop taking photos.  At least I’m not sharing ALL of them with you!  Tomorrow I will share two or three more houses and then I will only have a little bit more of the botanical gardens.  As you can see,  I really did enjoy my visit.  The *only* thing that could possibly add to this place would be….ummm….perhaps butterflies and some birds!  Of course,  then it would be more than “botanical”.

Lovely, Lush, and so Inviting!

As promised yesterday,  I am showing you (scads!) of photos from the Fern House and Tropical Rainforest.  Too bad I began my self-tour there, as it was the most comfortable and pleasant part of my journey through the glass houses.  It was in this area I also met a volunteer….a delightful man….who pointed out various things and told me about the Koi swimming in the pond. 

Rather than telling you about the tour,  I will leave you with photos.  And,  I will try not to show *so* many tomorrow.  This just happened to be my favorite part of the whole tour!  (One aspect that made it most enjoyable is that the misters were turned on and the vents were open, creating a cool environment!)

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Just the Ticket….

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Yesterday, we went on yet another little explore of Buffalo.  This time, we wound up visiting the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.  My family had no interest in seeing the gardens,  so I entered on my own.  (Where did this family of mine come from, anyway?)

The glass house was designed by premiere designers, Lord and Burnham, in conjunction with the beautiful South Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.  (American landscape architect famous for many parks throughout the northeast, including Central Park in New York City.) The Victorian glass house was opened in 1900. It consists of 11 greenhouses which are comprised of different collections of plants.

  First, here are some exterior shots of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens….

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As you can see, this is a very impressive and gorgeous place!  The park surrounding the greenhouses is picture-perfect and it seems hard to imagine such an oasis inhabiting a large and busy city!  There is even a golf course located at the park.  The park isn’t technically located in the city of Buffalo,  proper, but rather in Lackawanna,  just south of Buffalo.

 I had an amazing day for photography! The sky could not have been any bluer and the sun was with us the entire day.  The one downside to this was the fact that the temperature  was terribly warm for me…about 87, Fahrenheit,  or close to 29 degrees, Celsius.  There were a few times I was sure I was going to melt!

We will begin our tour with the Palm Dome where the ceiling soars to 67 feet tall.  This is located in the very center entry of the beautiful gardens. No more jabbering….we will allow the photos to speak for themselves!

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Breaking the silence here to alert anyone who craves chocolate, the above tree is a Chocolate Tree!!!

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There were many other photo ops here, but these are the best photos I captured in the Palm Dome.

I have decided (for your own benefit) I will break this lovely visit into several posts so as not to reduce you, Dear Reader, to tears!  And so, tomorrow….the Fern House and Tropical Rainforest!

Furling Flags and Thoughts

 Yesterday morning,  I wandered down to the dentist’s office for my official crowning.  It didn’t happen.  Unfortunately for me,  I possess “very colorful” teeth.  I have striations of differing colors running through like little veins of color.  So, the crown was too dark and just not colored right.  Not to fear though, as my last crown involved three different trips to the lab where the thing was created!

As I began to drive homeward,  I noticed the American flags hung along Main Street in Naples.  It looks so “small town Americana”…I couldn’t resist a little *snap*.

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Due to our large dowsings of rain lately, everything is so lush and green and growing!  Where we live seems almost like a “rain shadow” usually; that is, the rain falls to the west of us, but once it comes up the hills to our west, the clouds lose their moisture and we don’t get the rain.  Some years, that is so frustrating.  This year, however, we have been getting lots of rain and it feels so good!

When I came outside yesterday morning with the Scotties, I was greeted by the scent of freshly-watered soil.  It smelled so good!  I haven’t smelled that scent since I worked in a greenhouse several years ago.  And this morning, we had dew on the grass which is also something that we don’t see all that often.  I know these probably sound like inconsequential things to many, but having grown up in an area blessed with moisture in the form of rain and snow,  I do miss these things!

After my mis-fired dental appointment,  we needed to go pick up the newly-inspected camper.  The place we dropped it off at is located only about a mile or so from the mall.  The kids found out some  friends were meeting at the mall,  so we would drop them off to meet up as well.

Along our way,  Mark needed to stop at the hardware store to buy a new handle for a hatchet.  As I waited in the truck,  I watched as the wind whipped the flag in front of the store about….

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The wind blew a lot yesterday, which was a good thing….the wind was acting like a huge blow-dryer to whisk away some of the excess moisture!

We had a couple more stops to make, then it was time for the kids to meet their friends.  I told Mark I could hitch the camper to the truck myself, but when the time came,  one of the men working there helped me.  Of couse, the man wanted to know where Ben was!

Mark and I enjoyed just relaxing in the truck for a couple hours while the kids were with their friends.  Before the kids came out of the mall,  I just had to snap a couple more flag photos.  The flags were just so awesome against the sapphire blue skies!

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We are expecting more rain again later this week.  I know some folks are going to get so aggrevated by this, but for me…well….I rather enjoy making plans around the rain!  After all, what’s a little rain in life?