Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to JULY!!!! Our Lilies are blooming now... So gorgeous!!! Here is one of my many favorites! Meet DIZZY.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More Fun on Galveston Island, Texas 9/20/14

If you missed Part I of our visit to Galveston, Texas,  click HERE.   Today,  I'll share some more of our visit that glorious day.   I was surprised at some of the comments from Part I  saying that so many people have never heard of Galveston and didn't have any idea that it was on an island... It is truly a neat place ---and other than the worry of hurricanes,  it is a fantastic place to live and to visit.

Most of this post is about and for BIRDERS... Galveston is one of the top places for birding in the United States.  Many birders come to Galveston looking for the Reddish Egret,  which is only found in a few places.... There  are many online sites talking about birding in Galveston.  I marked three for you:  HERE and HERE  and HERE.

I love my backyard birds but truly don't know much about shore birds. I do know that my eldest son --who lives in the Galveston area--- has become a real birder and knows alot about the birds in his area.  We were only there for a few hours,  but I got to see several 'new to me' birds....  Since my pictures are not too good in spots (too far away plus having to crop them),  I am enclosing some other pictures from the internet also --so that you can see how gorgeous these birds really are.

First were the ROSEATE SPOONBILLS.   Wow --what gorgeous birds.  Wish I could have seen them closer and not sleeping!!!  Bert (son) raved and raved about these beauties --which were not far from where he lives....

This  is what I wish I had seen instead of them taking their morning naps!!!!! ha  (Photo from the internet)

OR-- wouldn't it have been fantastic to see THIS????? Wow--one of the most beautiful birds I think I have ever seen.  (Photo from the internet)

This is another picture (not cropped) of the Spoonbills --but it also shows a couple more birds,  a Great Egret (white one) and a Tri-colored Heron (darker one)....  What a great place for birds to enjoy!!!!

When we were riding around Bert's resort,  he saw a LONG-BILLED CURLEW...  I jumped out of the cart and tried to get a picture.  But--he kept running away from me.  This is the best I could do!!!!  Look at that bill!!!!!!

Here's another photo (from the internet) of the Long-billed Curlew.  Beautiful birds, aren't they?

As we kept riding around the area on the golf cart,  I also saw an immature BLUE HERON.  I have seen Blue Herons before --but it was fun seeing one in Texas.

Later,  while we were riding the ferry across Galveston Bay toward the Bolivar Peninsular,  I enjoyed watching lots of birds following the ferry.  There were several different birds around including PELICANS.

Then Bert saw HIM......  (Lots of excitement here!!!!)    There he (or she) is:  a MAGNIFICENT FRIGATE BIRD.  You can't tell it from here --but the wingspan on this bird is HUGE.... Wow!!!!!!

Here  is a picture of a female Magnificent Frigate Bird  (from the internet).

AND,  here's another one from the internet showing the female and a male Frigate Bird (which has a red neck) ----'blowing' himself up to get the female's attention!!!!!  Wonder if he will POP?????? ha ha

IF you want more information about any of these special birds,  there are quite a few sites on the internet.  One I chose for you today is All About Birds.  Click HERE for any info you are looking for when checking out birds.

Back to the ferry,  another area of excitement for me during that day was seeing the DOLPHINS.  They jumped in and out of the water ---but neither George nor I could catch a picture of them totally ABOVE the water.... ha

Here's  another DOLPHIN ---or is it part of two Dolphins??????  We had so much fun watching them --and 'trying' to get some good pictures... ha

OKAY---for all of you who are not interested in Birds or Dolphins,   I have four more cute pictures taken when we were wandering around the STRAND in Galveston that afternoon.    First, I took a picture of son Mark in an old telephone booth...

Then,  George just had to take one of me in that telephone booth... By the way,  that door was heavy... Maybe George wanted me to STAY in that booth for awhile... ha ha

More Info:  Do you see the crown  above the word TELEPHONE?????  That means that this was a British Telephone Booth.... Bet my British Blog Friends will know something about this booth....

Finally here are two cute shots of George and me ---while visiting a HALLOWEEN Shop on the Strand....
George seems to be having a conversation with a couple of Cutie Pies!!!!  Ya think????

I was trying to have a conversation with this guy --but he wouldn't talk to me... (A little boy walked by at this time, and gave me a strange look....  I looked at him and said:  "This man won't talk to me."  The boy's eyes got big,  and he ran back over to his mother probably telling Mama about this strange old lady!!!!!! ha ha)

I'll  finish my posts from Galveston, Texas by sharing one last picture of my THREE GUYS:  Son Mark,  Sweetheart George,  and Son Bert.   (photo taken from the balcony at Bert's condo)

Hope you have a wonderful day.  We are in for some cold weather on Saturday --with a low of  26 degrees F  and a high of 42 degrees.  We also 'might' have some snow showers....  Wooooo--welcome to winter...  (Think I wanted to enjoy Fall a little more--although I do LOVE snow!!! ha)


Monday, October 27, 2014

ELK at Cataloochee Valley, North Carolina 10/23/14

This is the first Bull Elk we saw when getting to Cataloochee.
George and I took a vacation last week with our good friends,  NEAL and Patti.  This is the fourth year we have taken an Autumn Vacation together.  The four of us have so much fun together --and each trip seems to get better than the last one!!!!!  This year,  we spent several days in Maggie Valley,  North Carolina.

We were on the go-go-go each day from 7:15 in the morning until about 7:30 at night.  We did a lot of 'leaf peeking' ---searching for pretty Fall Colors.  We traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway stopping at most every overlook.  We traveled the back-roads ---especially on Scenic Highway 215 between Rosman and west of Waynesville.  We saw WATERFALLS and Cascades (Yeah)... We took a nice hike each day.  We ate some great meals... We stayed in a wonderful motel/inn. AND the fellowship with friends was AWESOME....

BUT---if you put all of that aside, 'my' very favorite part was seeing the ELK at Cataloochee Valley.  We got there at the right time (early in the morning) in order to hear one of them 'bugle' loudly.  This is rutting/mating season ---and the males really like to chase the females ---and each male keeps a group of several ladies by his side!!!!!

We've seen the elk before --but this time,  we saw them THREE different times and in three different places during our visit there.  SO---since I love the elk so much,  I decided to share some ELK pictures with you today... Be sure to click on the pictures for enlargements.  Hope you enjoy them!!!!

"Hmmm",  Says Mr. Elk..  "That's a good-looking lady over there!" 

The pretty lady got up ---and took off!!!!  I heard her say,  "I don't want anything to do with him!"

She was smiling as she got away from him!!!

So dejected (see that pitiful face????)!!!!  "Why does she not like me?"

This young male was near the road where we were traveling... He didn't pay much attention to the people around ---and just kept on eating the leaves around him...

Another Bull Elk in another location later in the morning;  Did you know that Bull Elks can weigh up to 700 pounds??.  Their antlers/rack as I call it  can weigh 40 pounds... (Imagine the headache I would have if I carried those things... Yipes!)

 We took a hike to the Woody Cabin that morning after seeing the first group of elks.  The hike was about 2 miles round-trip ---and when we got back,  we found this group of elves.

This is sweet... This little lady was not running from Mr. Elk.   I think he gave her a kiss!!!!! 

She did get up --but he didn't seem interested --although she acted as if she was!!!!!!  What did Mr. Elk do instead of giving that lady some attention????????????????????????

WELL----I guess Mr. Elk was just too hungry ---so he ATE instead of entertaining the lady! Mercy Me!!!!!!

Then I saw it!!!! Mr. and Mrs. Elk AND little one!!!!!  See him/her??????

Then,  Mr. Elk left them and headed OUR way... Of course,  we were safely in/around our cars.  Luckily,  he wasn't paying a bit of attention to us.  SO--that gave us time to get some awesome photos... Like it????

Since Mr. Elk went the other direction,  we enjoyed watching all of the females and their little ones.  A female elk can weigh as much as 500 pounds...

Later in the day,  we encountered some female and baby elks again (near the school house).  There were about 15-20 elks in this group.  We were able to get fairly close --and I was amazed at the sizes of some of those females. 

Here's a cute little baby elk (called a calf).  These babies are usually born in May/June and weigh about 35 pounds at birth.  They are fed by Mama's rich milk --and will gain about two pounds a day.  By winter,  these little guys weigh up to five times their birth weight.  This one is not extremely young since he has lost his spots.  YES--they do have spots just like fawns do!

We enjoyed watching this  group of about 15-20 elks crossing the creek.  I loved watching the little one in my previous photo---who was one of the last ones to cross...  When he finally decided to get in that COLD water,  he 'quickly' hurried to the other side!!!  
Well---I could show you about 50 more pictures of the elk --but this is enough for now!!!!  All four of us really enjoyed watching them --off and on the entire time we were there.  Before you ask,  I will say that we were all very careful --and did NOT get near them, especially the big Bull Elks.   We KNOW that they can be dangerous --especially during rutting season!!!!!

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.  OH--what fantastic memories!!!!   If you ever get a chance to see the elk at Cataloochee,  DO IT....

Hope you had a great week.   We certainly did!!!!!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

What is THIS and WHY is it in our Yard????????

New fenced item in our yard,  next to the deck!
Hello Friends,  We have something NEW in our yard....  You know that we call our car, Mrs. P..  Well--our new 'friend' is named Mr. PT.......Do you have any idea what is behind that fence???????

George built this fence with materials from Lowe's.
NO---it's not a new home for our resident birds --nor squirrels ---nor chipmunks -- nor for our nightly visitors,  the raccoons....

My hint is that it is something which our Community Club says (in their rules) that MUST be hidden --so as not to take away from the beauty in our community!!!!!  (That's why George built the fence!!!!)  SO---it must be quite ugly!!!!!!  Hmmmmmmm.

Meet Mr.  PT  (our new Propane Tank)
Okay---I'll tell you what it is. Please meet our new Propane Tank  (Mr. PT)... I think he's kinda cute,  don't you?  Don't know why we had to fence him in!  Maybe someone thinks that  Mr. PT will try to escape..... Ya think?

Mr. PT (from the deck)
This is what Mr. PT  looks like when I'm standing on the deck--looking down on that 100 gallon tank. Now ---do you have any idea why we bought Mr. PT???????  We are an all-electric house ---so we have never used propane gas for anything....

Remember what we used to have here??????
This picture is Clue Number 2......  We used to have a huge WOODPILE here.  Remember??????

Wagon Full of WOOD --getting ready to leave us!
But---we gave all of our left-over wood away to a friend.... See that doggie?  That's SWEETIE... Sweetie's Daddy came with his trailer. 

Sweetie's Daddy GLADLY took our left-over Wood!!!
This is Larry  (Big Dude),  blog friend whose blog is HERE.  When we visited Larry and family/friends in their home not long ago,  I mentioned that we had some left-over wood we needed to get rid of.  Larry and a friend along with Sweetie took me up on my offer --and came to get the wood not long ago.

Bye Bye,  Larry---and our WOOD
After loading up all of the wood,  I offered the guys (George, Larry, and his friend) a cold drink (I even gave Sweetie some water)--before they got back on the road heading home.  They were glad to have that wood --and we were glad to find someone who could use it!

George makes sure they can make it out of the yard!
WELL----now we don't have anymore wood to burn in our fireplace.... Hmmmm---wonder what happens next?????

The side yard looks different without the woodpiles.
By now all of you must know what we did!!!!!!  BUT FIRST---I must tell you a personal story here.  I must admit that life and priorities change as we get OLD... I am one person who said that she'd NEVER have a 'fake' Christmas tree in her house... BUT---now I do (and love it)...  AND--I also said that I'd never go to Gas Logs in my fireplace.  BUT--after last winter's horribly cold winter, we decided to make that change.  I still love a wood-burning fireplace --but it was just not practical for us any longer.   Some of the reasons we changed:
1. Hubby has a bad back --and last winter,  all of his work chopping wood,  going back and forth from the woodpile and the garage trying to keep the wood dry was just too much--  since it was SO bitterly cold and since,  even after all of that work,  we had a hard time staying WARM.
2. Gas Logs look much nicer now --and look like the real thing. (I had gas logs once years ago --and hated them since they looked 'fake'.  Today,  they look REAL.)
3. Gas Logs will keep our home cleaner --with less smoke and wood-droppings being carried in and out.
4. Gas Logs are warmer than wood-burning fireplaces ---since all of the heat comes into the room rather than going up the chimney!

Our new GAS LOGS
So---we made the BIG change....  Here's a picture of the logs.   It's not a great picture ---but they really do look REAL.

The new Gas Logs in USE on a cold day
Unfortunately,  we haven't had much cold weather here yet --so we haven't been able to use the fireplace much.  BUT--so far,  we LOVE it...

The neatest thing to me is that it has a REMOTE ---and that's how we turn it off and on.  The remote can be set to maintain a certain temperature---and will go off and on as needed in order to keep the temperature in the house where we want it.

We can also program the remote to come on early in the morning in order to warm things up by the time we get up!!!!!!   I feel very spoiled by this feature---but George will love not getting up early to make me a fire,  or even to get up during the night and stoke the fire to keep it going... We are POSITIVE that we have made the right decision, especially George I'm sure!!!!  Keeping the wood burning fireplace was a HUGE job ---which we truly didn't need to continue doing.

Beautiful look,  don't you think?
Finally,  here's one more picture of our new fireplace while lit.  (The reflections are from the glass doors.)   You can see that there are 'embers' glowing at the bottom.  Isn't it neat??????  I don't know if you are a gas-log-fireplace lover  OR a 'fake' Christmas tree lover ---but this old woman knew that it was time to learn to "love" BOTH.....

NOTE (added after blog post was written):  We got to use our new fireplace yesterday --since it finally got COOL outside..  AND--we've had so much rain now that I cannot complain for a long time about being dry here.  We have had over 8 inches in the past 10 days... Hopefully it will be over soon (today I hope) ---and we will get some sunshine!!!!!  Yeah... Have a great weekend.