Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another Hodgepodge Wednesday

Hodgepodge Time once again and our gracious host, Joyce over at The Other Side of the Pond, has another group of great questions for us. Below are the questions and my answers.  

1. When were you last 'on a mountaintop'? You may answer in the literal or figurative sense.

Well the only mountain I have ever visited has been the Great Smoky Mountains. 
The last time I was there was in the Spring of 2005. My daughter and I, and my husband and step son walked the half-mile steep trail to Clingman's Dome.  

Clingman's Dome

Clingman's Dome, at 6,643 feet, is the highest point of the Smoky Mountains. It is the highest point in Tennessee. 
Clingman's Dome is located along the state-line ridge, half in Tennessee and half in North Carolina. A paved trail leads to a 54 foot observation tower. It was atop this tower that my husband proposed (April 5, 2005)

2. Do you establish and maintain a strict budget in your household? What is one piece of financial advice you would offer someone just starting out on their own?

I try to stay on a budget, but with a child in college the budget goes out the window a lot. Plus the fact that I work for my husband and if money doesn't come in we struggle.

After my divorce from my first husband, I relied on credit cards to get by. I did alright until the recession hit and they cut my credit limits, which jacked up the interest. At about the same time I had to have a couple of medical procedures which created more debt. I dug myself into a bit of a hole that I am still trying to dig out of.

Many of our bankruptcy clients have very similar problems that lead them to our office. I am often shocked at the number of credit card accounts that people have.

My advice would be - STAY FAR FAR AWAY from Credit Cards, or at least use them as little as you possibly can get by with. They are good to help in building credit, but are far too easy to use and quickly you can find yourself in too deep. 

3. Cherries-yay or nay? Cherry pie, cherry cola, black forest cake, or a scoop of Ben and Jerry's Cherries Garcia...pick one.

Yay, Yay and Yay!! I love cherries. Cherry Pie, Cherry Coke, and Ben ad Jerry's Cherry Garcia is my Favorite! If I had to pick just one Cherry Delight, hands down it would be Cherry Garcia. How can you go wrong with it, after all it not only has cherries, but chocolate too!

4. Should you ever discuss religion or politics with people you don't know? 

 I think religion and politics are very sensitive topics and ones that often become heated discussions. I think a person should tread lightly when discussing these topics with someone you do not know.   

5. When you take a road trip do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger? Where were you headed on your last road trip? 

I prefer to be the passenger/navigator on road trips. I am not comfortable driving in places I am not familiar with. 

Our last trip was in December - January. While we flew to Orlando, we drove from Orlando to Tampa, from Tampa to Melbourne, and then from Melbourne back to Orlando. So I suppose you could consider it a road trip since we drove from one side of Florida to the other. 

6. If we peeked inside your closet, what color would we say is most prevalent?

Black, it is slimming and as I have gotten older I have put on a few pounds, I need all the help I can get!!! Plus I have to dress business casual for the office and most dressed slacks are black or grey.

7. Who's your favorite senior citizen and why are they special?

A woman that I worked with a several years ago, Miss Shirley, as we called her. She always told me that I reminded her of her daughter, who died in a car wreck at the age of 21. Her daughter and I were born on the same day and the same year. She kind of took me under her wing and we became very close. Even after we both left the workplace we remained close. She moved away because of health issues and needing to be closer to her family. We stayed in touch even after she moved and would talk on the phone for hours. She eventually ended up in a nursing home after having a stroke. After that she had problems with her speech so our calls stopped. She tried to write a couple of times and just a week before she died had one of the nurses write to me for her. She was a special lady. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Seeing Signs of Spring

This week I have started noticing a few signs of Spring.  One of my neighbors has a row of March Lilies down both sides of their driveway and this week the flowers began blooming.  In my own yard I have noticed tiny buds on the trees. 

Also this week, I have noticed the Grackles visiting my feeders and sitting in the trees. 

Though the bird book I have says that they are in my area year round, I generally only see them in the early Spring. I don't know if it is because at this time of year they have a harder time finding food in the farmer's fields. I have noticed a few farmers starting their plowing and field prep. Two of my neighbors have broken ground for their gardens too. 

Wednesday morning as I was watching the birds from my kitchen window I noticed there was a lot of red in the trees and on the ground. I counted 12 Cardinals and 6 Purple Finches. 

I couldn't get a good shot of both trees with all the birds. So I went out and put some seeds on the patio wall hoping that they would come a little closer. A few minutes later the birds slowly started coming over to the patio wall. I love the way this Cardinal seems to be looking at the little Finches. 

I put seeds on the patio wall quite often so the birds visit there almost as much as they do the feeders. 

The neighbors cat likes when I put seeds there, he sits and waits for the birds and tries to nab them. Luckily, the birds know to avoid the wall when the cat is around, (most of the time).

As long as I move slowly at the window they will stay on the wall and feed. Sometimes as the camera snaps they will stop feeding and listen.

I had to change my position a few times in an attempt to capture a couple of the birds at a time in the same shot, but when I would move they would fly away. 

One end of the wall has a missing light with the wires sticking up, (one of my husband's "I can fix it" projects that never seems to get totally completed), my camera often tries to focus on those instead of the birds. 

The doves like to visit the wall too, they aren't as easy to frighten away as the other birds and most of the time I can capture them in photos easily. 

I saw this bird sitting high in the tree and wasn't really sure what it was. I grabbed the camera to focus in on it in an attempt to identify my feathered visitor. I ended up taking a couple of shots, I think it is a Grackle, but an still not positive. Makes a good shadow shot anyway. 

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Valentine Hodgepodge

Hodgepodge time once again....
I generally skim over the questions before I dive in to answering them. 
Some require a bit of deep thought before answering.
This week with question No. 3 and going through the ever vast catalog of love songs in my head, I am now listening to the Carpenters as I type and spill forth my answers to this weeks Hodgepodge.

1. This week marks the beginning of Lent...will you be giving something up or adding anything to your life during this season of the year?

I have never participated in Lent. It is not something that my family or our church did. The Footwashing Ceremony is our Pre-Easter tradition at church. 

2. The day before Lent is Shrove Tuesday... tradition states you eat pancakes on this day. In some parts of the world Shrove Tuesday is actually known as 'pancake day'. How do you like your pancakes? Or don't you?

I have always liked pancakes. They were a favorite weekend breakfast when my kids were young. I like mine with a little butter and either sugar free or lite syrup. I haven't made pancakes myself since my daughter moved out. 
Now that we have an IHop in our town and I have tasted their blueberry pancakes, when I find myself craving pancakes that is where I go. 

3. I'm sure there are many, but what's one love song you really love? 

We've Only Just Begun - The Carpenters would have to be one of my all time favorites. If I am flipping through the radio stations and this song is on, I will always stop and listen. Maybe because it was one that I listened to over and over as a teen. Plus, how can anyone mot be mesmerized by Karen Carpenter's voice? She was truly an amazing artists.

4. What are some things you do to let others know you love them? 

I tell them!! Every time I talk to my kids, on the phone or in person, I say I Love You.  My son always hugs me before he leaves and my daughter gives me a kiss on the cheek. 
All of my life, even after I was married, I kissed my Mom and Dad before I left to go home or when they went to bed, when we stayed at their house.  
I take care of my family, physically and emotionally, I cook for them, clean up after them, and I try to be someone they can depend on.  

5., pink, or do you prefer another color? Can you recall the last time someone gave you flowers? Given your choice would you like to open the door and see a dozen red roses, a dozen purple tulips, or a dozen pink peonies?

I love flowers of any kind and am always happy anytime that I receive them. My husband used to buy them often, but I suppose the honeymoon is over, since it has been quite some time since he has bought any flowers of any kind. 
The last time someone gave me flowers was at Christmas, my neighbor brought me the most beautiful Poinsettia. 
While all roses are beautiful I prefer the pink or yellow roses, especially at Valentines Day when the red ones seem to be the rose of choice. I dare to be different. 
If I were to choose, I would pick an arrangement with a little variety they tend to be my favorites. 

6. President's Day will be celebrated in America next Monday. Does US Presidential history and trivia interest you? Many Presidential homes are open to the public and offer guided tours...Monticello (Jefferson's home), Mount Vernon (Washington's home), Montpelier (James Madison's home), Hyde Park (FD Roosevelt's home) and The White House (home to the sitting President) to name just a few. Of those listed which would you be most interested in touring? Why?

I wouldn't consider myself a history buff, but I do find some historical places and facts interesting. I think all of the homes listed would be nice to see, but I think I would most like to visit the White House. It is a very historical home and has been occupied by so many. Just think of all the celebrities and world leaders, kings, queens, diplomats, foreign ministers, heads of state, etc. that have graced those hallowed halls.       

7. Are you good at keeping secrets?

Yes, I can keep a secret. Though I hate having to do so. Secrets have a way of coming out no matter how hard one may try to keep it concealed and most times when they do someone is hurt in the process. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Animal Kingdom Trails and Safari

Wanted to share with you a few photos from our visit to Disney World's Animal Kingdom back in January. I have visited this park several times, but have never walked the animal viewing trails. Since my husband was along on this trip and he is not a fan of the rides or shows and the park was very crowded, the animals were our focus. It was nice to leisurely walk the trails and enjoy watching the animals. 

The fictional Kingdom of Anandapur (which means "Place of many delights") is the home of the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This trek leads guests through the forests and ruins outside the village which are home to a number of animal species such as: 

The Flying Foxes or Fruit Bat,  

The Sarus Crane, 

The Green Peafowl,

The Cotton Pygmy Goose, 

Two Bengal Tigers. One would pace back and forth along the wall, finally settling into the corner. The darker one stayed in the back of the exhibit most of the time, but I managed to get one shot of him.

On Discovery Island, the central hub of the park, we encountered: 

The Easter Grey Kangaroo,  

The Abdim's Storks, 

Lots and lots of Flamingos and White Ibis,  

The Roseate Spoonbill (pink colored one) and the African Spoonbill.

The fictional East Africa village of Harambe hosts the Kilimanjaro Safaris, an expedition showing numerous African animals freely roaming through acres of savanna, rivers and rocky hills. As you travel along the paths you are never sure what animals you are going to encounter and on which side of the truck they will be. The truck stops several times along the way so that you are able to view the animals, but only for a moment so you have to be pretty quick with the camera.   

I managed to capture the Hippo,

The Blue Wildebeest, 

The Reticulated Giraffes,  

The African Elephants,

The Nile Crocodiles, 

A side view of the Lioness,

The King of the jungle (savanna) himself, Mr. Lion. 
Wish I could have captured him from the front!

The Ostriches, 

And Grant's Zebras.

The walking trail just outside the Safari ride allowed us to see some of the animals that we were not able to see while on our safari expedition. 

The Waterbuck is one massive animal.

This cute little deer watched me closely as I stepped a little closer to the wall to get a closer shot.  

It is so neat to be able to get close to these animals. There are barriers to keep the animals safe as well as the people, some are only short walls while others are iron fencing or completely enclosed with glass viewing areas. There are also Disney Cast Members along the trails in several locations. They help point out the different animals and tell you a bit about them. It was a very enjoyable visit.

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