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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Part FOUR: Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Florida

We are returning to the series today on the
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park....
in Florida.

If you ever get the chance to visit there, please take the time to do so.

Most of the animals found there are ones that are injured
or that are rehabilitating..
and it is a gorgeous place.





One of my favorite birds: a Pelican.
It was cool the day we were there, and he is hunched down from the wind:









I had never seen one on a nest before, so was thrilled to catch this one:










A little fox, hiding out under a log:










Don't they have beautiful faces?:







A handsome Sandhill Crane. Loved that flash of red on his face:









I have YET to find an owl in the wild to photograph.
So, for me..this was the next best thing:









Apparently he was bored with me.
Or, I woke him up.
Either way, he kept his eyes closed, which cracked me up!:









And THESE big fellas, can stay RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE....
I didn't want any closer of a shot than THIS!:

I still have more photos to show you, so watch for my next blogpost and we will tour
this magnificent place together again soon.

***********
TODAY....
yes, TODAY! is the LAST DAY
 to enter your photo into my
monthly FREE PHOTO CONTEST for March 2011!!
March's theme is:

RED

So get out there and look for something fabulous that is red,
or
search your archives for that wonderful shot you forgot you had that has red in it....
Send it to me by midnight, TONIGHT
following
THESE RULES!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dog Sled Races: Part THREE

If you missed Part One and Part Two
of my U.P. 200 Dog Sled Race in Marquette, Michigan,
just drop down below this blog post to read the other two!

So.
The time FINALLY came for the first dog sled team to line up
ready for the race.

The dogs' yelps got even louder, they were SO EXCITED!!!


Here are all the dog handlers getting the first team lined up at the starting line.
The start is BEHIND the dogs, where the dog sledder is inside his sleigh, attached to the team:






The handlers check all the dog lines to make sure none are all tangled up and that they are lined up
correctly and ready to GO!:





Just LOOK at those dogs straining at the ropes, anxious to GO!:




My camera's batteries did NOT like the cold
in that
when I wanted to use the fast shutter to "freeze frame"
action shots....
Well, let's just say
it PROTESTED.
A.
LOT.

NO way!, it said.

(They have always been on the bratty side).


So, I just took regular shots and they blurred.

Sometimes though, in a way, they are kind of cool to "blur the action" to capture action movement.
(That is my story, and I'm sticking to it!):









(see their little booties?)








HERE
COMES
THE
COUNTDOWN!!!


10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1......

GO-OOOOOOO!:
(What do you MEAN, you didn't see them run by?  What is wrong with you???)






O.K.

I'll run it by you ONE MORE TIME!

But, this time: PAY ATTENTION!!

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.....

GO-OOOOOOOOOO!:



Wasn't that MUSHER hawt?????

WHAT???


Not AGAIN!!

You didn't see the MUSHER???

Because I am a patient woman, I will do it ONE LAST TIME.

Gheesh.

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.....

GO!!!!:









You know. I just won't be able to bring you along to any more dog sled races if you can't
keep up.

Next year, make sure you bring your fast-speed eyes with you, okay?

Oh.

And remember to bring your favorite fur HAT.

Because we are going to have such FUN!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dog Sled Races: Part TWO ! (Otherwise known as Dog Sled Races Haute Coutures)

If you missed the beginning of this series on the
U.P. 200 Dog Sled Races in Marquette, Michigan, drop below this blogpost
to the blogpost below this one, and start at Part One (if you are so inclined).
************

Part of the reason I love to attend the U.P. 200 is to "people watch".
Many of the bystanders dress in some pretty neat fur hoods and hats
and the atmosphere is fun and happy.
People full of hardiness for the winter in which we live.

And the dogs' excitement is contagious.
You can HEAR the dogs before you see them as you approach the raceway
because they yelp and yelp and bark as if to say:
"Let's get going already!"

This year, the temperatures were very cold and the wind chill was bitter outside.

I wore longjohns, heavy pants, 3 layers of sweaters, two pairs of gloves, a heavy hat and my heavy, hooded
winter coat.  And after a while, even I got numb standing out there waiting for the start of the race.

I just had to share with you some of the outfits I saw!:


I loved, loved this fur hood!:









And look at this youngster's hat.
OMG, is that a RACOON?
(Don't tell that little racoon that we saved last year from the trap that I know people
that wear them as HATS, they'd never forgive me!):








I bet this hat was warm. Just look how happy he is!:








Then, there was THIS crazy lady, bundled up so much you almost couldn't recognize her!:

Oh.
Wait.

That was ME.

(That is FAKE fur, people!! FAKE!!)
No animals were harmed for my warmth.


This guy just cracked me up.
He had fake dreadlocks to wear as a HAT!!!
Yah, mon...No problem!!:








I was realllly hoping this wasn't their HAIR:
Otherwise, we are gonna have to find a cosmetology shop for them right away!
(See?? I TOLD you the cold winters up here dry out your hair!)




Enough of the fashion show...
on
to the RACE!!

These pretty dogs are getting ready for the run:







And he is getting his sled ready:




Help me Rhonda!
Help, help me Rhonda...
Help me get him out of my heart:




We can't have a race without a MASCOT
now CAN we?:




This was the starting line, and the Officials just called for everybody to
LINE UP the dog sled teams!!!!:
(I just LOVED the people sitting on the hay on the "front row" seats to the excitement).

On my next blog post, I will show the teams lining up and taking off!!

(And for those of you that want to get back to the beach and sun of my Florida pictures
and the Savannah pictures, don't worry, they are still coming too!)

********************************************
You are getting dangerously close to the DEADLINE
for
March's FREE PHOTO CONTEST.

Send me your entry no later than midnight on March 31st, 2011
The theme this month is:

RED

Just make sure you follow
THESE RULES!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review

Book reviews are something I have never done before on my blog.

However, I have been following a wonderful Blogger 
named Patricia Rockwell, (her blog is called: "Subjective Soup")
 and she is a mystery writer now with her own publishing business called Cozy Cat Press.

She offered to send one of her newest books to some of her readers
so that we can do a book review for her, and I excitedly accepted.
Today is my review.


This is the Book:





My review below:


1. I have always loved "who-dun-it" books, ever since a child, reading the Sherlock Holmes series. It is such fun to guess and double guess who the killer might be and looking for clues as you read.  I also have read quite a lot of Charles Dickens, who weaves so many characters into the story that all end up intertwined. Characters that Charles Dickens mentioned on Chapter One or Three often showed up at the end of the story again in some bizarre twist of the plot.  But in reading Charles Dickens, I would often miss these connections because of so much detail and such a big cast of characters to have to remember.  Why am I mentioning this?  Because I loved Patricia's work of limiting the number of characters in her mystery to a handful so you could really get to know them well, and remember them.

2. I love books that are "easy read" books. Ones that you can read a chapter or two, put them down for a day and pick them right back up and remember the plot, characters and details of them. FM for Murder was the perfect book for this.  I was quite busy in my life when I read it and I could easily refocus into the plot and characters and continue whenever I wanted.

3.  I love it when a mystery grabs me from the beginning.  This one definitely does, as it starts out with you hearing the murder occur! Right away! If that doesn't get your mystery-reading pulse going, well, nothing will.  The book sucked me right into the action, immediately by the first chapter.

4. The female Detective (the main character) is likable from the moment she is introduced in the book. Even though this is not the first in a series of crimes she has helped solve, (this is not the author's first book with this character in it), it is a solid, stand-a-lone book that can be picked up anytime and enjoyed without knowing anything about the previous plots in other books in the series.


5.There are twists and turns in the book, so the murderer is not obvious until revealed at just the right time. This is so important when reading a mystery. To keep guessing, and guessing and wondering. The reader is taken along the roller coaster ride of "I wonder if the murderer is ____?" And then you read another chapter and think: "Or, maybe not...".  

6. Subtle hints at relationships are weaved well in the plot and chapters of this mystery, which made it intriguing.

7. The ONLY thing (and I MEAN the ONLY thing!)  that I slightly struggled with was trying to pinpoint when (historically) this story was supposed to have occurred.   Let me explain:  
The author has days at the beginning of each chapter, but never the year. For instance it says at the beginning of the Prologue, "Saturday, shortly before midnight, Dec. 15".  Each chapter has a timeframe like that with no year listed.  Which was fine with me, until my brain tried to pinpoint which decade the murder and story took place.

The book kept giving me conflicting clues in trying to do that. For example, the book deals a lot with talking about the victim, who was a D.J. who played alternative music and was involved in the Goth movement.  Goth music and dress peaked between the late 1970's and the '80's.  O.K, my brain said, it must be the '80's then.
But, right from the get-go, on pg. 18, the book tells us that one of the characters went and got "a transisitor radio".  What??? Well, then, I thought....then it must be in the 1960's, because there is NO WAY someone would have a transistor radio handy (and use it) anytime after then, because boomboxes came along by the 80's.
The story told occurs from Dec. to June of ONE year's time. However,  if the decade was the 80's, when the Goth movement was occurring, or the  late '60's/early 70's when transistor radios were still being used, then that didn't jive with other technology mentioned in the book such as personal computers, cellphones, the use of common voice analysis computer programs. 
To further boggle my mind, during the last chapter, the author mentions an ipod! The ipod did not get released to the public until 2007. 
So, it could be the 70's, 80's, 90's or after 2007. But if it was after 2007, it would be unlikely that any transistor radio would be commonplace and unlikely that any of the young people would be into "goth" music that much anymore.
 I found this guessing as to the exact decade of the book a bit distracting because of that.
Maybe I missed something,  somewhere in the book?

But I  DO know this:
It was thoroughly enjoyable, easy to read, fun to guess who-dun-it and a great read.  I will definitely read the rest of the books in the series with great anticipation and joy. It was a delightful read.

Go find out for yourself. You won't regret it!

And? Look into Patricia's other book:



Friday, March 25, 2011

Dog Sled Races: Part ONE!!

Today, we are back to winter photos!

And one of the favorite activities I do, is to attend the U.P. 200 Dog Sled Races
held in Marquette, Michigan.

Today, I am sharing these photos (Part One)
of this year's race.

They haul in snow and run the track
smack down the center of the downtown streets:







A shot of the announcer's box:

(The lady in red at the podium just got back from the Iditarod in Alaska
and she also went to Antarctica to experience Condition Zero..she is a fantastic speaker).







Getting the dogs ready:
(the blue marks on their sides means these dogs have been examined by the Vet. and are ok to run the race).







Fantastic Sled!:








Checking out the dog's paws.
They must be healthy prior to and during the race and they make them wear doggie booties:










Official race clock.
They left at 7:10p on the dot!:









I LOVED this shot.
It was like the dog was dreaming of winning the upcoming race:
I bet you thought all dog sled races were run with Husky dogs, didn't you?
We only saw a few of that breed when we were there.







But if I were a FEMALE sled dog????

You can bet your wagging tail
that
I'd be after
THIS GUY!!!!:

Stay tuned to my blog,
I will be doing Part TWO
of these wonderful races next!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Part THREE: Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Florida

in Florida,
that this is part of a series of blogposts of photos taken there.

If you missed the other ones, just go down to the bottom of this page
and hit "older posts" to enjoy the rest.



This bear just cracked us up...he took the top of the garbage can, played with it for a while,
and then sunbathed!:







When we first got there, we took a lovely boat tour down the river in the park.
This was great for us Michiganders to see the natural state of Florida woods and rivers:







A lovely golden eagle:








I am totally smitten with Ibis....and their long, gorgeous white feathers on their back:







They nurse a lot of sick birds and animals back to health at this park...
I loved seeing this great heron walking here:








I SO wanted to comb through those long feathery strands on his tail!:








A playful otter coming to say hi:









I  have YET to capture a photo of an owl in the wild of the U.P. of Michigan...
so I was glad to be able to at least get some shots of some owls
at this park.
I find owls just mesmerizing!:






Just LOOK at his pretty face!:

I still have some more photos of this lovely park...
so join me again next time to see nature at Florida's best there.....

I may be interspersing some contrasting winter photos from Michigan
with the rest of these Florida pictures on some upcoming blog posts, as I still have some left of our winter to share with you all yet too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Part TWO: Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Florida: (Otherwise known as "It's all about Flamingos!) !!

Today....
it is
ALL ABOUT
Flamingos!!!

I am dedicated this entire blogpost to the beautiful
Flamingos

There will be a lot more pictures posted about this wonderful
park, but today, I had to devote the entire post to these gorgeous birds.


Also today, I'm going to be quiet
(I know! A near impossible feat!!)
and just let you gaze at the wonder of these birds:










































An Ibis, a flamingo and a swan in one shot!! :

































Forget those
oh-so-tacky
Flamingo statues people put in their yards....

I want a REAL one for my yard this summer.

And?

If he stays until winter in the U.P....
those long legs will be a HIT
to ice skate with!!!!!
*************************************************************

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About Me

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I retired in June 2008 and started my blog in November 2008. I worked at several jobs as a Registered Nurse prior to retirement. I LOVE being retired! Blogging has offered me a whole new venue to start writing again and to share new hobbies such as gardening, birdwatching and sharing my nature photography. If you like my blog, PLEASE click on "follow this blog". Having a lot of followers reading my blog gives me incentive to continue to do photography and to continue to write. I also LOVE comments, so I encourage you to leave me a comment after you read my posts. Thanks everyone, for taking the time to read me!!

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