Friday, December 26, 2008

No Posts... Temporarily

My laptop is in a coma at present (I think it's either the power cord or battery, maybe both), and I can't get the little beggar looked at till Saturday morning. I'm writing this from work, which could potentially get me fired, but hey!

Unfortunately, the laptop is where all my photos are. Yes, by some strange miracle of timing - for which I am not famous - I actually did a backup the night before!

Anyway, there will be no Friday's Feathers nor Saturday PhotoHunt from me until at least Saturday afternoon. Sorry!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Yes, Matthew, those are Flamingos on Mrs. J's Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Flamingo Chanukah/Christmas

Drumroll, please! The moment you've all been waiting for (or maybe not):

A Flamingo Christmas

Welcome! I hope Santa brings you lots of great prezzies and stockingsful of happiness.

Don't forget to put out the cookies - and no peeking!

Oh, and stop by Flamingo Musings for, what I think, is a great very last minute gift suggestion!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chanuka!

The Jewish holiday, Chanukah, begins this evening at sundown. It's an eight-day holiday celebrated by lighting candles (one the first night, two the second, and so on), giving gifts, and of course, eating!

A Chanukah menorah, the traditional candelabra or candleholder, is distinguished from a regular menorah by the number of candles it holds: eight plus one placed slightly higher or set off from the others. That is the "shamash" or servant candle, and is used to light the others. Okay, so technically, there are nine. These are the "fun" menorahs. They range from the beautiful, to the one made out of clay by your kindergartener. They can be simple or ornate, plain or colorful, and the whole gamut in between.

The photo above is of a whimsical cat-shaped menorah made by a metal artist, given to me by my sister-in-law a couple of years ago.

This is my little Chanukah tablescape. There are some holiday knickknacks, my dreidel lights (a dreidel is a four-sided top that is marked in Hebrew initials that stand for "a Great Miracle Happened There", referring to the story of the Maccabbees... Oh heck! This is my photoblog. If you want the rest of the story, come over to Flamingo Musings in about 30 minutes from now.

Happy Chanuka or Hannukkah, or Chanukah, or however you want to spell it!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

PhotoHunt: Wide

The PhotoHunt theme this week is "Wide"

As with some of the more recent stumpers, I didn't know what I wanted to do with this week's theme. I guess most of you have figured out by now that I'm just a little, um, what would be the polite term? Quirky.

So, yeah. This presented itself to me this week. I guess it's a little, um, quirky.

Then there's this (you really should click on it to really get the feeling:

Our true entry to the wide expanses of the universe.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday's Feathers: Female Cardinal

Today's Friday's Feathers belong to a female Northern Cardinal:

For a change, I wanted to show a photo of a bird that was actually standing still! No blur, no butts, no branches. Isn't she a beauty?

**I sometimes forget that there are people all over the world who might not be familiar with our flora and fauna. Oops!

Yes, the Northern Cardinal (another one of those birds with "Northern" in their names, who do not necessarily stay north) is actually quite common over much of the U.S. In fact, the cardinal is the "State Bird" of no fewer than seven different states! The male is more familiar to most people. He looks exactly like her, except that everywhere you see brown / buff, he is bright red all over. Very striking. I'd like to get an equally clear shot of him up soon for you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

PhotoHunt: Favorite

The PhotoHunt theme this week is "Favorite"

You've probably already seen some of my favorite birds, so I won't repeat myself; the tree's still not trimmed and the menorahs still not unpacked, so I can't show you those favorites; I need to replace the switch on the porch light, so I can't show you my favorite gift - a large pink feathered wreath made for my birthday two years ago by my girlfriend, BooBoo. I have lots of favorite things, so what shall I show you?

This is my Favorite Seat. This is where I collapse when I come home from work, where I watch TV, where MJ and I eat our dinner most of the time (his favorite seat is at the other end). This is where I read, nap, listen for the orioles, download and edit my photos, and this is where I blog. Both Flamingo Fotos and Flamingo Musings come to you courtesy of the left-hand end of the big brown couch. :-)

Happy Weekend!

Friday's Feathers: Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Today's Friday's Feathers belong to the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher:

Isn't he adorable? Another bug-eater who loves the mystery tree(? tall shrub?) in my backyard. What can I tell you about him? Well, um, he's blue-gray and he eats bugs. He's also very tiny and always moving - like the warblers. Therefore, hard to get an in-focus shot of. Grrrrrr!

BTW, it's official: Said tree/shrub is a bona fide mystery. No one knows what it is. Not even the experts down at Fairchild Tropical Garden. Great.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Peacocks of East Ridge



I don't know how Peacocks were introduced into the several suburban neighborhoods where they've taken up residence, down here. The "why" is fairly obvious. Peacocks are very regal-looking birds, with their magnificent plumage and stately air, as they stroll, what were at the time, the lawns and estates of the wealthy folk who owned the town way back when.

The rich and famous of way back when are long gone, and the properties, for the most part, broken up into residential neighborhoods of every strata. But the Peacocks remain. You either love them or hate them. During mating season, especially, they are loud and the males become aggressive toward anything that moves. They're also not terribly particular about where they perform their, um, bathroom duties (no bird is, but their produce is much larger, messier, and liable to be on your car or the walkway to your door).

These photos were taken in an old part of South Dade, at a retirement community called East Ridge, and these are just two of a much larger flock that roams the grounds with impunity. It's not yet mating season, so all is peaceful at the moment...

Of course, you should click on the images to see them in their glory.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

PhotoHunt: Breakfast

The PhotoHunt theme this week is "Breakfast"

I know, I'm late! For me, anyway....

When this little guy sees me puttering around the backyard, he races across the utility lines, down one tree in my neighbor's yard, up another, leeeaaaps! into the mango tree canopy, down its trunk, and peers around from behind, until he sees I've dumped some "squirrel chow" onto the top of this old blue Rubbermaid container under it. Then, when I've turned my back and walked away a few feet, another great leap onto the container, and he'll munch away happily at his Breakfast.

At least it keeps him off the bird feeders for awhile. If you can't beat 'em, feed 'em.

Happy Weekend, all!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday's Feathers: Canary-winged Parakeets

Today's Friday's Feathers belong to the Canary-winged, or Yellow Chevroned, Parakeet:

I love these little parakeets - they're so animated!

They have the best natural camouflage I've ever seen. You can hear them up in the trees having loud, high-pitched conversation, but search as you might, you'll very rarely see them up there. When they're ready to be seen, anywhere between 4 and 24 of the little rascals will descend on the feeders as if by magic!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

JJ Commiserates With Daisy

I'm not playing "Wordless Wednesday", today, but I was just over at Daisy's blog, and I had to post this:

Daisy, JJ feels your pain...

Butterfly Wednesday: Dingy Purplewing

We have a lovely butterfly here called the Florida Purplewing. This isn't it. Of course not. What do I get? Its cousin, the Dingy Purplewing. Figures, right? Pretty cool, though. Do click on it to see it in all its furry magnificence!

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Way To Give Thanks

I didn't take this picture, in case you're wondering. Although, if I had, it would have made a nice PhotoHunt "Metal" post, eh? :-)

If you read my other blog, Flamingo Musings, you already know that I periodically send care packages to members of our military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not because I support the war, but because I support these women and men who volunteered to serve their country. There is a difference. Whatever you believe about the reasons they're there, the fact is, that's where their country sent them.

Anyway, this photo was sent to me by one such serviceman recently, so I could see the faces of the people whose spirits were lifted by that box containing soap, shaving cream, lip balm, cookies and Slim Jims. There are a lot of things they don't get or get enough of out there. I could go on. And probably will, at a later date.

One of the most important things to them, though, is knowing that their families are okay. But that's not always the case - many of these men and women are on their second and third rotations over there, and their families are struggling.

At least for the Holidays, we can help there, too. Sears has a program called Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry, that benefits military families who need help. Clicking on this link will take you to the Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry website, where you can donate online, in any amount you choose. Sears will take the total amount of the donations and divide the money equally between all of the registered military families, giving them gift cards so they can buy the things they need. Do you know what the Number One requested item is? Kids' shoes.

While you're there, read about some of the 30,583 military families who are registered with the program, in their own words, and post your own message of support. Read more about it at Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry.

This may be a sponsored post, but the few bucks they pay me will be donated right back to this program. Just so you know.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

PhotoHunt: Metal

The PhotoHunt theme this week is "Metal"

Seriously? Metal? Am I missing some hidden meaning? A double-entendre? I didn't know what to do with this.

So, I did this:

On the U.S. Thanksgiving Day this past Thursday, MJ and I had the traditional sumptuous turkey dinner at the home of some friends. They deep-fry their turkeys in a big Metal deep-fryer dedicated to the purpose, and kids, I tell you this was some of the best turkey I have ever eaten.

I know they thought I was a little strange when I said "Hold it right there! I have to get a picture of this!" But then, perhaps I was just confirming what they already knew. :-)

So? Did I clear the theme?

And speaking of Thanksgiving... You know that Daily Click link in my sidebar? The one I urged you to click and support getting free mammograms for women who can't afford them? Did you know you can shop there? I just did like 90% of my holiday shopping for Christmas and Hannukah at The Breast Cancer Site, The Hunger Site, The Rainforest Site, and The Animal Rescue Site. Their prices are phenomenal, right now (in the US) shipping costs one cent, and you can help your favorite cause and the environment and find all kinds of cool gifts for just about everyone in the family!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday's Feathers: Spot-breasted Orioles, Redux

Today's Friday's Feathers belong to the Spot-breasted Oriole.

I know I posted some photos of Spot-breasted Orioles last month, but either they've grown up really fast, or this is a pair of adults. I just love these guys, so indulge me...

These birds are actually natives of south-coastal Mexico and Central America. They were introduced into southeastern Florida in the 1940's, where they became established. Populations are reportedly declining since the '80's, cause: unknown. Although you couldn't tell that by my yard!

They're dedicated suburbanites, hanging out in shrubs and small trees, eating insects and berries, and sipping nectar. Which I guess is why they seem to be attracted to this corner of the yard. I still don't know what that small tree with the tiny white flowers is, but the lower shrub is a Pavonia Bahamensis, a Bahamian relative of the hibiscus. Both are great favorites of the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, so it stands to reason. Look at that guy in the bottom photo, with his (her?) schnozz buried in that Pavonia flower!

Please visit other Friday's Feathers posts here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monarch Butterfly

JJ didn't feel like posing for a holiday photo, this morning, so this will have to do. You can find my thoughts on this beautiful Thanksgiving Day over at Flamingo Musings, so I won't repeat myself here. I'll just say Thank You to you, all of my friends, old and new, online and off, and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks - Thanks for Giving

Look into those eyes, will you?

JJ was a shelter kitty. MJ and I went to the southern branch of the county animal shelter to donate an extra piece of cat furniture. While he was filling out the donor paperwork, I went into the "kitten room" - a screen enclosure very thoughtfully located just inside the front door (hee!) - to play with the kittens. As I bent down to pet some of them, a small black striped ball of fur shot vertically into the air and landed on my shoulder, purring wildly. "Look, Honey! A volunteer!" It was, of course, all over after that.

I tell you this story because I'd like you to consider an alternative to some of the traditional places you might do your holiday shopping. Namely, The Animal Rescue Site. Or The Breast Cancer Site. Or The Rainforest Site. Or The Hunger Site. Or The Child Health Site. Or The Literacy Site. If you've ever clicked on any of the buttons on my sidebar, you know that you can click every day and - without any cost to you - by clicking you are helping your favorite cause, or all of them. But did you realize that you can shop, too? Serious.

There's such a variety of things to choose from, ranging from t-shirts to jewelry, house and garden, and on and on. Lots of really cute stuff for kids and teens and adults. And the prices are really reasonable! Look, I know there's a lot of competition for the few bucks any of us has left, but when you give a gift this holiday season, wouldn't it be nice to know that your purchase is not just going to make someone smile, it's not going to cost most of your right arm? And that it will benefit something you believe in?

Like feeding and finding a good home for JJ?

Friday, November 21, 2008

PhotoHunt: Reflection

The PhotoHunt theme this week is "Reflection"

Another excuse to show some of my favorite images from the Dale Chihuly installation a couple of years ago at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables (a small city sort of part of Miami to those of you unfamiliar with the area, but don't tell them I said that... they get rather pissy if you call them "Miami") - one of my favorite places on the planet, especially in winter. A great spot for Reflection.

This last one is my favorite. And yes, I've posted it before. Go ahead and click on it. If you look closely, you'll see the Reflection of the rock wall surrounding this little pond. If you look even closer, you'll see the Reflection of me taking this picture! In fact, click on all of them. While they have been resized, enlarging them will give you a far better view of the Reflections. :-)

I think these were taken in January '06 or '07. I can't remember which. But I know that the following summer was when my hard drive imploded irreparably, and the only reason I was able to save these, was because I had loaded them onto my iPod and was able to download them again. Consequently, there are no un-resized versions to show you. One of my biggest regrets, and a cautionary tale - backup your drive! Often! A poor Reflection on me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Friday's Feathers: Palm Warbler

Today's Friday's Feathers belong to: The Palm Warbler

Look at that bright yellow butt!

From its name, you'd think the Palm Warbler is a year-round resident of South Florida, but you'd be wrong. The Palm Warbler is one of our winter guests, vacationing from The Great White North (a/k/a Canada), mostly.

And despite the fact that this is about as southeast as you can get on the North American continent, this seems to be the Western (or Brown) form.

Birds. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Waiter, There's A Damsel In My Soup

I recently told someone that I had never seen a damselfly before, and even if I had, like the dragonflies, I doubted if one would hold still long enough for me to take a picture of it. And then...

Right? Look at the face on that critter!

P.S. - I bow to Michelle's superior knowledge that this is a dragonfly, not a damselfly. I was going to ask her first, but I guess I was under the impression that if it was blue, then it must be a damselfly. Oh, well. I guess I still haven't seen one. I still think it's the coolest dragonfly I've ever seen. And I really like the title of my post, so I'm not changing it. :-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

PhotoHunt: Ruin

The PhotoHunt theme this week is "Ruin(ed)"

We spent several days in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, last February. I think this is probably the first picture I took on our first morning there. I just loved the lines and textures of this old "ruined" tree.

Please click on the image for the full effect. Happy Saturday, y'all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday's Feathers: Monks

Today's Friday's Feathers belong to: The Monk Parakeet

"Bernie, quit horsing around and get over here!"

These are Monk Parakeets, also known as Quaker Parakeets. They're fairly common and apparently pretty popular as pets. Which cracks me up whenever I see one in my local Petco. I can't help but think of the dozen or so that come around here each day, wild and free. For free. Okay, maybe for a little bird seed.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day Tribute

A Flamingo Fotos salute to the women and men of our armed forces, past and present:

Red Salvia

White Peacock Butterfly

Blue (unidentified) Wildflower

Thank You For Your Service!

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