While our family waited for the parade to begin, we all took a stroll through Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Kevin, our sister-in-law, and the kids rode Splash Mountain. Sara and I sat on a bench and waited for them. Later, we all went to the Haunted Mansion because it is a much slower ride. Due to the warmer weather, I also noticed that the trees began to bud and bloom.
After breakfast at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we made our way over to Disney’s Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours. Sara seemed much happier with a full tummy. And so, it didn’t take long, until she fell asleep on Kevin’s shoulder. While the rest of the family waited in line for a ride, I let Sara nap in the stroller. Meanwhile, I watched Mickey and Minnie taking photos with other families. By the time, everyone came back Sara awoke from her nap. This was perfect timing for taking a photo with Mickey and Minnie before we went back to change into change clothes and rest for a little bit in Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Because the afternoon and evening were busy.
After meeting with our family and having breakfast in Ocala, we drove toward Orlando to get to Walt Disney World in Buena Vista. We had rooms next to each other in the Pop Century Resort. Once settled in, we spent the afternoon in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to meet several Disney characters, take photos with them, and get their autographs, before we watched “Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade”. We went on the Kali River Rapids ride, where I got completely soaked. Therefore, I had to get some clothes to change. It was March. And the evenings were cool. I didn’t want to catch a cold while we were on vacation. In the evening, we’ve noticed the ibises getting a spot on the trees to spend the night there. That was the sign that it was time to leave the park.
Bright red with a pointed head crest and black bib, male cardinals are always a welcome sight at bird feeders. Cardinals are year-round residents in the eastern two-thirds of Texas. They prefer thick underbrush for nesting. Cardinals have been expanding their range northward.
Both male and female cardinals sing almost year-round. Common calls include “cheer cheer cheer”, “whit-chew whit-chew whit-chew” and “purty purty purty”. Cardinals eat seeds, fruit, and insects, and are easily attracted to bird feeders, especially those containing sunflower seeds.
Male cardinals vigorously defend their territory. They have been known to attack their reflections in mirrors, windows and chrome. Sometimes they will even attack small red objects they mistake for other males. Females usually sing after males establish territory but before nesting starts. A cardinal’s nest consists of a tightly woven cup of roots, stems and twigs lined with fine grass and hair.
Cardinals are colorful, tolerant of people, have pleasant calls, and are easily attracted to bird feeders. That has made them a favorite of backyard birdwatchers all over the eastern half of the U.S. Cardinals may form winter flocks of 60-70 birds. Their bright plumage brings color to our yards during the winter when many other species have flown south.
Today, Kevin and I worked on the upper level a little bit on the roof frame of the greenhouse. While Kevin installed the frames, I got all the smaller and detailed work done to prepare the framework going up in its place. Tons of screws and bolds had to be untightened in the framework and crossbeams had to be connected on the ground first to make it easier for installment.
While Kevin and I spent most of the day outside, we had the chance to see three Lockheed C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft flying over our property. If you are familiar with the Navy Blue Angels airplanes, the “Fat Albert” is also in the C-130 family. It was very cool to see this flyby.
Joshua is exhausted from watching Kevin and me building the greenhouse. I believe he had a picture of a greenhouse full with fresh catnip, grass and endless chicken meat with mashed potatoes on his mind. Not forgetting the place is full of life mice, shrews, and chipmunks to hunt and catch before he takes a nap on his cat hammock. Keep dreaming, Joshua! 😉
Today, Kevin and I got some work done with the greenhouse. Now, the lower frame is installed and the panels are slid in place. There were so many screws for putting the frame together. Our backs began to hurt and we had to call it a day. But I’m glad we’ve got it this far. The next level had to be done with a ladder. The greenhouse is very tall.
Since the early morning hours, we have had rainstorms passing through Connecticut. Due to the rain, the air feels so refreshing. It is cleaner from all these pollens flying around, which are causing us to have seasonal allergies. Here in New England our allergies are not as bad as in Texas. But we still get them. Mostly our throats are itching. Today, we can walk outside without any symptoms. It is nice having a break. I used this opportunity to capture photos of the rain on our back porch. And I filled a couple of milk containers with rain water from the gutter. At some point, we need to get one of those rain water barrels. we had in Texas. Fresh rain water for the garden and greenhouse is still the best.
Lisa has a beautiful black cat, Trixie, which likes to come to visit our yard. When Benny sees Trixie, his demeanor changes, and he becomes all silly at the front room window. He rubs his head and swirls his body on the cat tree, until he falls off of it. Trixie looks up in the window and probably laughs in her own way. Benny and Trixie need a meet-and-great at some point. She definitely has an admirer.
Ms. Lisa is our neighbor across the street. She always loves to take care of her garden in Spring/Summer here in New England. I also learn a lot from her flower gardening skills. Lisa works in a flower company. Once the Spring and Autumn seasons are done, she comes home with plenty of flowers and herbs. At this moment, her Allium, Coral Honeysuckle, Wisteria and a few other plants are in bloom. Trixie, Benny’s ‘girlfriend’, loves to stroll in the garden. She’s such a cutie pie. Last year, Trixie was still shy. Yesterday, she came to me and let me pet her. Success! Animals do know if they deal with a good or a not-so-good person.
Kevin and I reinforced the wood frame, because the outer frame was too big. And I didn’t want to chop the original frame up. Once the wood frame was done, I built the aluminum bottom frame. We secured it with screwing it into the wood frame. Hopefully, this will prevent the greenhouse from falling over in high winds. Now, all the little detailed work has to be done, before I can build the outer upward frames, so I can slide the polycarbonate panels into place. Yep, this will take some time to get it all done.
The differential grasshopper is found throughout most of the United States, except for the northwest. Within its range, it is most often found in heavily weeded areas and grasslands, and even in vacant lots and other urban areas. This species is not migratory, but can travel a few miles to search for food.
Every day, there is more color in our yard. Over the last weekend, the pink Rhododendron’s buds began to open up and started to blossom. Once the whole bushes are in full bloom their green leaves can barely be seen anymore. There will be pink half globes all over the shrubs.
Rarely is there an animal more beloved by humanity than the turtle. These shelled creatures can be found in virtually all corners of the globe and have found their way into parables, mythology and all forms of popular media. Each year, May 23rd is dedicated to our friends, the turtle, and tortoise. World Turtle Day is not only about showing love and adoration towards turtles but also making sure we can protect them as well as their various habitats.
It’s important to know what the difference between a turtle and a tortoise is. Although they both belong to the same family, turtles spend their time near or in the water while tortoises are primarily land creatures. Both turtles and tortoises are creatures who play tremendous roles in their respective ecosystems. Whether it’s by digging holes that are habitable for other creatures or cleaning up dead fish from beaches, there are more than enough reasons to ensure their protection.
Amaryllis ‘Clown’ is the other plant my neighbor gave me several weeks ago. Today, the Amaryllis is finally in bloom. It took almost three weeks longer than the ‘Apple Blossom’. The heat in the sunroom seems to help. We’ve reached triple-digits there. As long as I keep the plants out of extreme sunlight, they are thriving.
This morning we went to Home Depot early to get our materials before it would get too warm to work on the greenhouse. After I worked on paving the floor this whole last week, I filled the space with sand. Kevin helped me screwing the wooden frame together. The frame will be great for higher raised beds and it keeps the aluminum frame of the greenhouse sturdier. Later, we will add stairs by the front doors to have easier access inside the greenhouse. Now, we just have to wait for the temperatures to cool off, before I can get more work done.
Chewbacca always comes running, when I call him while I work on a garden project. He has to make sure I’m doing everything right. In the meantime, he eats some grass and pukes on the ground. Lovely! When I’m fast enough, I can move him away from the greenhouse flooring, before he leaves me a present on the pavers. The joy of having cats as pets. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. I would rather have him gagging in the yard than in the house. Once he feels better, he makes sure I lay out the bricks in a square.
This morning, we had thick fog in the Naugatuck River Valley. The higher the elevation, the thicker the fog became. It was hard to see the school bus in the distance. Once I was back home, the fog cleared out fairly quickly and the sun came out.
It began to rain in the early morning. And the rain lasted until the late morning hours. While I captured photos of droplets, a Northern Cardinal fledgling got confused and almost landed on me. Once it figured out, I wasn’t mommy or daddy it made a sharp turn and sat on the porch railing.
Today, it was a cool day. However, this weekend we are supposed to get temperatures in the mid-90s (35℃). It will feel just like Texas, before the weather cools down to the 70s on Monday.
Earlier, when I laid out more bricks for the greenhouse floor it felt very humid outside. Later, it got breezy and the temperatures began to cool down a little bit. It started to get more comfortable. But with the breeze, the darker clouds and a storm front moved in. The rain was so refreshing. After the darkest clouds moved out, the sun began to shine again. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a rainbow.
The greenhouse was ordered and picked up, the materials for the greenhouse floor were ordered and delivered. And I have my vision put on paper. All I need is to focus and some elbow grease to turn this idea into a nice little garden oasis. The first mission will be the base to build that floor. This will be a backbreaking project. Let’s see how everything will turn out. I’ll keep y’all updated on this project.
I’ve got some work done with the flooring for the greenhouse. After I measured everything out, I put the stakes in place and span a rope around the perimeter. Once I had the edging installed, Kevin and I dumped a gravel mix on the ground. Then we covered it with landscape fabric. Now, we have bricks on the fabric temporarily.
Since the weather is beautiful, and I recovered from my surgeries I had last Winter, it is time to work on my project where I left off last Autumn. Last weekend, I’ve spread out the leveling sand and started to work on the brick floor. While Kevin transported the bricks from the pallet to the spot where I wanted the greenhouse to be, I laid them out on the ground. Every other day, I work on the greenhouse floor, so I can get to the next step: Building a frame on the bottom of the greenhouse to get more raised bed space and prevent it from flying away in the high wind gusts. The bricks are not set perfectly. But in most areas, I’ll have raised beds anyway.
Kevin and I did some yard work this afternoon, when he saw Joshua dragging something in his mouth. Since Joshua was right behind me, I grabbed the cat and told him to drop it. A young chipmunk lay there and didn’t move. Kevin took Joshua, while I checked out the little chipmunk. It was on its back in my hands, so I immediately turned it on its belly to check the back and sides. Other than some cat saliva it seemed to be okay. Within a few seconds the chipmunk began to wiggle and bite my finger. The more I tried to pull that darn rodent away, the more it dug in with its teeth. So, the best decision was to let it go. It unlatched and ran under the riding lawnmower. Now, it was Kevin’s turn to find the chipmunk, while I took Joshua inside the house. Enough rodent hunting for that cat in one day! Kevin could get the chipmunk to run from under the lawnmower to and climb up the nearest oak tree. From there, he looked and yelled at both of us. “I guess, that’s the thanks I get for saving him from our cat.”
Thank goodness, the little chipmunk is not rabid. And I have my tetanus shot up-to-date. Today, my finger looks like nothing ever happened. But that bite from that little $#@% hurt.
Ozzy loves to explore everything in our yard. He watches bumble bees, butterflies, and many other insects emerge from under dew-covered leaves. Birds catch some worms and larva for their offspring on the lawn. Chipmunks perk their little heads from their burrows. And squirrels chase each other around a tree trunk. There is so much to see and prowl on for Ozzy. Once it gets warm throughout the day, he will take a nap in the afternoon. He needs the energy to continue his adventures in the evening, again.
Several weeks ago, my neighbor gave us two amaryllis plants. A couple of days ago, our first plant started to bloom. Four of the six blossoms are open. The second plant needs a little bit longer. But it shouldn’t take too long. The weather is getting warmer. The amaryllis really seem to love the sunroom, as long as they are not in intense sunlight.
Yesterday evening Kevin, Zoey and I took a little stroll in Echo Lake Park. Because there is a sign to walk in twos or bigger groups due to wildlife activity, I’ve never been on the backside of the lake. The weather was beautiful and we had to stretch our legs from driving back and forth to New York City. The Echo Lake Park Trail is approximately half a mile one way. While on the trail, we saw a turkey hiking up the hill, trying to get away from our curious dog. There are several benches to sit and relax by the water’s edge. On the backside of a boulder there are a couple of artwork drawings. A beaver left its own work close by the lake. Kevin wondered how long it would take a beaver to chew through a tree that size in the photo above. Since it gets warmer, more Canada Geese come back to Echo Lake, again. Zoey really wanted to chase them. But Kevin had a good grip on her, even when she jumped right off the bench. This girl is crazy, when it involves chasing wildlife. After all, she’s part Labrador and part Pity.
Blessed be the Maiden innocent and fresh, Blessed be the Mother fertile and loving Blessed be the Crone powerful and wise – Blessed be the Lord gentle and kind, Blessed be the Father protective and warm, Blessed be the King forever reborn.
Now, at the end of April our yard has changed quite a bit. More ground cover blossoms have emerged from the ground; the shrubs begin to bloom; and our maple trees start to turn green. Spring becomes more colorful. The last couple of days, I’ve seen an American Robin picking nesting material on our property. A Mourning Cloak butterfly flew across our yard as well.
While I captured photos of fresh Spring blooms I asked our neighbor, if it was okay to capture some photos of the Saucer Magnolia blossoms on his property. After I’ve got permission, I shot some images of these beautiful blooms. They always remind me of my childhood in Germany. We’ve got a lot of Saucer Magnolia trees in the Court Garden of the Residence and in the Royal Garden (Kaisergärtchen) close to the train station in Würzburg. As a little girl, my grandma dressed me up, when we took a walk through the Court Garden of the Residence. When grandma sat on a bench to take a break near the Saucer Magnolias, I was collecting the blossom leaves from the ground and counted them, how many I could hold in my hand. That kept me busy for quite some time.
Red-eared sliders are Texas’s most common aquatic turtles. These turtles get their name from a broad red stripe behind their eye and their habit of sliding off rocks and logs when startled. Older turtles are often covered with a thick coat of algae. Some red-eared sliders can live more than 30 years.
Sliders are cold-blooded and spend hours sunning themselves on rocks and logs. If there are not enough rocks or logs for all of them, they will often stack themselves one on top of the other! They bury themselves in loose soil or mud during the winter to escape the cold. When population numbers get high, these turtles move across land to other bodies of water in search of food and space. They eat aquatic plants, small fish, and decaying material.
Sliders have poor hearing but are very sensitive to vibrations. This makes it hard to sneak up on them. Their name, slider, comes from the fact that they are quick to slide off rocks, logs or the banks if danger threatens.
The last adventure was the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise – Landmarks, which guided us from the Hudson River into the East River under the BMW (Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge} before the boat turned around again. From the boat, we could see The Vessel, Little Island, Mid-Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, the Financial District, Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, Ellis Island, Lady Liberty (Statue of Liberty), Brooklyn, the BMW Bridges, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, the full One World Trade Center Tower, and the Waterfront of Jersey City. Jersey City had a fly-over by two Bell Boeing V-22 Ospreys, when we entered the Hudson River again. The tour lasted one and a half hours around half of Manhattan Island.
When Kevin, Sara and I exited the boat, we walked straight into 43rd street to pick up the car from the garage, Our New York City CityPASS adventures were done, and we wanted to leave New York before rush hour hit. The only attraction, we didn’t visit was the American Museum of Natural History. That place had been more interesting for Katelynn.
On Saturday, Kevin and I decided to take a spontaneous hike at Castle Craig. Katelynn came with us to get rid of her jetlag faster. When we arrived at Hubbard Park, it seemed like there was an event going on. Later, I found out it was the weekend before the Daffodil Festival. The tents went up, and vendors prepared for the event. Unfortunately, Peak Drive was closed off. And so we had to walk along the Merimere Reservoir towards the castle. On the walk, we saw wildflowers, and a millipede and had a good view of the castle’s tower. Since we didn’t bring enough water, we turned around after approximately two miles. Roundtrip, we did about four miles. Even when Kevin, Katelynn, and I didn’t make it all the way to Castle Craig, we had a nice hike at the park.
From the Space Shuttle Pavilion, we walked inside the USS Intrepid. Kevin, Sara and I had to go up a view flight of stairs to reach the captain’s cabin and the Pilot House. We could see the technology that was used back in the 1940s. There were a lot of radars for the ship and the incoming aircraft. When you click on the photos, you might not find the right names under them. I’m not good with ship terminology. Please bear with me!
Downstairs in the hanger, we saw a brass ship propeller; more airplanes, and helicopters (Sara posed in one for a photo.); and the history models of the USS Intrepid.
When Kevin, Sara and I entered the Space Shuttle Pavillion, we were greeted by the rear-end of the Enterprise. However, the twins of the Perseverance “Percy” Mars Rover and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured my interest first. It was very interesting to see both in the original sizes of their counterparts on Mars. Percy has the same dimensions, and is about 300 lb. heavier than its predecessor. The helicopter, Ingenuity, was designed to work for 30 days and five flights. It went on its first flight on April 19, 2021 and on the 26th flight April 20, 2022. It has a flight time of 49 minutes and 10 seconds, and traveled 6.23 Kilometers (3.87 miles) on Mars, so far.
Meanwhile, Kevin and Sara looked closely at the Enterprise and its history. Later, I went upstairs to get a better view of the Space Shuttle’s front and left side. I had to use my panoramic feature on my cellphone to capture the whole shuttle at once. It is huge. Coming back downstairs, I could take a glimpse inside the Russian Space Capsule, Soyuz TMA-6.
I have to break the visit to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum into several parts. The first part is the Flight Museum. When we went on the Intrepid, which is at Pier 86 by the Hudson River, we’ve seen the Submarine USS Growler to the right. Kevin and Sara have Claustrophobia and therefore get anxiety in small spaces. Since I’ve seen the German submarine Wilhelm Bauer (U-2540) in Bremerhaven, I was okay with not going inside the USS Growler in New York City. However, there were some cool displays of planes and helicopters on the top deck of the aircraft carrier.
In my photos are the USS Intrepid (CV-11) – US Navy; USS Growler – US Navy; Grumman F-9 Cougar – US Navy; US Navy Blue Angels Hornet Replica; Grumman A-E6 Intruder – US Navy; Vought F-8 Crusader – US Navy; PZL-Mielec Lim-5 (MiG-17) – Polish Air Force; Sikorsky H-19 – US Coast Guard; Sikorsky HH-52 Seaguard – US Coast Guard
Ozzy worships the Sun as much as he can outdoors. He’s so ready for Spring and Summer weather. The trees begin to bud, bloom and get their leaves. The oak trees need a little bit extra time, while the maples are ready for the warmer weather. Ozzy enjoys hanging out with his feline brothers, prowl and provide us shrews for “dinner”. Cat instinct is at its finest.
New York City reminds me of a buzzing beehive. It’s always busy, 24/7. Therefore, New York has a nickname, which derives from Frank Sinatra’s song “New York, New York”: TheCity That Never Sleeps. No matter where we went, there was always something going on. Workers, construction, trash trucks, police, people trying to get from place A to place B several blocks down the street, tourists, street sales people, homeless people who look for a couple of dollars, people who shoot selfies or Tiktok clips of themselves. In Times Square it could be seen all at once, since it is a big open area for everyone to look around, see all those sky-high billboards on the building, and enjoy life with a cup of coffee and some kind of snack. Kevin, Sara and I decided to make a short stop at the Disney Store New York. Before we walked to the garage and drove home, I wanted a plush “Lady Liberty” Minnie as a souvenir.
When Kevin, Sara and I arrived at the corner of 5th Avenue & 34th Street, I looked left and right to find the Empire State Building. It could nowhere be found. Then I read the sign Empire State Building and looked up. “Holy sh*t! This building is colossal.” Kevin asked: “Did you find it?” While I still looked up and almost got a neck spasm I replied: “I’m looking at it.” The bottom of the building blends in so well, we had no idea, it was right there. LOL
Once, we made it inside the Empire State Building, we had quite a bit to look at. Of course, there was the historical part that can’t be left out. Construction of the building started in March 1930, and finished in April 1931, just in time for the opening on May 1, 1931. There are tons of movies with the Empire State Building, including King Kong. The giant ape poses for pictures. He is actually a very nice fella, who hurts no one. But these airplanes still make him nervous. I guess the pilots didn’t get the memo, the shot of the movie has been done for almost 90 years, now. 😉 On the 86th Floor, we had a perfect view of New York City again. This time, I could get a better photo of the Chrysler Building, because the MetLife Tower was not in its way. We’ve got a better view of the Financial District, especially the One World Trade Center. The wind was chilly up on that floor. So, we looked around for a little bit and made our way back downstairs.
Once we were out of the Empire State Building, we took a break from sightseeing to have lunch at TGI Fridays. We also called it a day. New York was supposed to get a heavy rainstorm with flash floods. And we didn’t want to be stuck in the middle of it. After lunch, we made our way back to the car. But first, we hung out at Times Square for a little bit, since it was on our path to the garage.