Um…excuse me, the calendar says SPRING!

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Just when the mild temperatures had lulled us into the conviction that Spring had surely arrived…Mother Nature played a heavy, wet, early April Fool’s joke on New England.

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February Fling: Part II…

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Did you catch February Fling: Part I? I escaped to sunny Florida to visit my Dad, leaving New England in its semi-wintery state and my home with its recently repaired furnace.

After spending a couple of days enjoying the wildlife of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and walking along the beach near Dad’s condo in Naples, I decided to visit the Naples Zoo. There, I took a short boat ride to their “Primate Islands”, caught the keepers feeding the alligators, and enjoyed watching others feed the giraffes. While the sun warmed me and the occasional bird sighting made it a pleasant trip, I came to the conclusion that I really don’t like zoos — too many caged, bored-looking animals. I’d say “sad animals”, too, but I don’t know if that’s true or if it’s just me projecting my own feelings on them. Anyway, here are a few shots from the zoo (click on any photo and view them as a slideshow):

After the zoo, I went back to the condo for lunch and a quick check-in with Dad. Then, I was off to Naples Botanical Garden.

A beautiful orchid display greeted me just inside the gates:

Walking the paved paths, surrounded by stunning flowers and foliage, I couldn’t help smiling to myself (and to anyone I passed).

In among their varied garden displays were awesomely intricate LEGO sculptures — an added bonus! Much better than the zoo, in my humble opinion. 🙂

In addition to these outings, I managed to accompany Dad to a couple of medical appointments, go out to lunch with him, watch a movie with him, and walk down to the beach once, too. Then, it was time to fly back home.

Back  home, I dragged my suitcase in the front door and was immediately struck by how chilly I was. Must be because I just came home from Florida…I thought. But, no, the thermostat in the living room registered 59 degrees. No heat!

Luckily, the temperature outside was fairly mild, but the forecast for the next few days was for colder weather. I left my suitcase in the front hall and called the same heating company that “fixed” the furnace before I left. They were able to come by, proclaim the first thermocouple burned out, replace it with a heavy duty one, conclude that they couldn’t get the pilot to stay lit, and declare that I needed a new gas valve, if not a whole new furnace. Sigh!

The furnace is twenty six years old, after all. Maybe that would be the smarter choice. A new gas valve for my old furnace would take three to five business days to ship…so no heat for the weekend! A new furnace could be installed in a day or two. How convenient! I told them I’d discuss the options with my husband and give them a call.

As soon as they left, I got a few recommendations from a Townie Business Referral Facebook page and made a phone call. Don K., from a local heating company, showed up, rebuilt the pilot, got my furnace running again, conceded that we should replace the gas valve, offered to do it for less than the first company’s quote, and didn’t charge me for his help! Whew!

So, exhausted, but warm, I dragged my suitcase upstairs to my bedroom and left the unpacking for the next day. 🙂

 

February Fling: Part I…

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My Dad winters in Florida. For several of the past years, my husband and I have trekked down from Boston, usually in March, to visit and enjoy the warmer weather. We planned no such trip for this year. Then, my neighbors, who recently bought a condo near my Dad’s, called. Were we planing a visit? We should get together in Naples, Florida. Well, you’d think we see enough of each other already, being neighbors here in New England. You’d be wrong. So, I booked a ticket for the end of February.

The day before I left, National Grid came to change the gas meter on our house. Evidently, this must be done every seven years. Why I said “yes” to scheduling anything the day before a trip is beyond me. To make a long story short, after it was done, the pilot on the furnace wouldn’t relight. I could’ve predicted it, since the thermocouple quits on us every few years, like clockwork. Anyway, that meant I had to get a heating guy here, in a hurry, to fix my furnace. All this while I’m trying to pack and leave instructions for what needed to be done in my absence. When I left for the airport the next morning, we had heat.

DSC_0394 (1)My Dad has been under the weather lately, to put it mildly, and has been pretty darned tired. Unlike the last time I visited, he wouldn’t be chauffeuring me around. Instead, he handed me his keys. I was on my own.

My favorite destination in Naples, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, was my first solo outing (after a visit with my neighbors, of course). The swamp is an amazing place to birdwatch. I spied several kinds of woodpeckers and warblers, many waders, a few hawks, plus raccoons, alligators, and snakes. Most of my photos are useful for bird identification, but not necessarily for publishing. Here are some of the better shots (click on any one of the photos to view them enlarged as a slideshow):

Some of these creatures were familiar to me, like the ibis, egret, anhinga, cardinal, raccoon and alligator. I’ve even seen pileated woodpeckers before, from a distance. But it was a thrill to catch them relatively close by and watch when one suddenly trounced on top of the other! (I should mention, that while I watched the woodpecker fight, a raccoon waddled through the swamp, climbed up next to me and proceeded down the boardwalk. A bit too close for my comfort!) Black and white warblers and yellow-rumps were new to me. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen the paler version of a red-shouldered hawk before. Beautiful! I’ve definitely never seen a painted bunting before! I actually visited the swamp two days in a row, arriving at 7:30am on the second day, to catch more bird activity. And I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

Check out my trips to the Naples Zoo and Naples Botanical Garden (and the ongoing furnace saga) in Part II…

 

Thanks for visiting. 🙂