Oakland Nature Preserve after Irma

Since our earlier visits to nearby Oakland Nature Preserve (very nearby since we moved!), Hurricane Irma did some serious damage and until very recently the boardwalk there has been inaccessible. It’s actually still under repair but open enough for an enjoyable (short) walk – with lots of clearings, open blue sky, and downed trees, as evidence of Irma’s passing last year. Here’s some photos:

Moving Day!

Over the last couple of weeks, Margaret has been packing our “old” home (Independence) and this past weekend we rented a U-Haul truck to move the more breakable items from my office (test equipment, computers) as well as other fragile things. But today was the “big move” with a company arriving to take everything to our new home (Stanton Estates) …

It took two trips and 7 hours in total, with much more time for Margaret & I to start unpacking and putting things away so our new home is a little less chaotic than it was when everything arrived!

But tonight, we’ve got our bedroom sorted, somewhere to sit and eat, and my office is ready enough that I’ll be back to work in the morning … beyond that, we’ve got a lot more to do in the next few weeks!


Herons are back at Independence

One effect of Hurricane Irma last summer was to destroy the original Heron nest in the tree behind our home so we wondered if the Herons would return. Now we see they’ve moved to a smaller, lower down, nest in the tree in front of the original one – and today I’ve been able to capture some photos of one parent flying in and joining the other:


In the very cold (for Florida) weather last week, I also got a picture of the Heron in the nest, perhaps sheltering chicks with wings stretched in a sort of igloo (I don’t know if there are chicks, but this is what I interpreted!):



We now own two homes!

Closing at Stanton Estates did not happen yesterday – the problems found by our inspection were too many – but with the biggest issues now resolved, and three people working on the home still, we were finally ready to close this morning. Various papers reviewed and signed, lots of money moving from one bank to another, and handing over of the keys … our new home is now ours!

Stanton Estates is now ours

Our current home has an offer from enthusiastic buyers currently renting, so in a month or so we should be back to owning just one house again …

UPDATE: With less cold weather, we’ve now opened our new tree in the front:


Stanton pre-closing inspection

With closing supposed to be tomorrow, we had a final, professional, pre-closing inspection this morning – and a surprising number of issues were found, that we didn’t know about. Very worthwhile having this inspection!

Issues included broken roof tiles, missing eave / soffit pieces around the roof, non-working hot water, cracked tile grout, circuit breakers that don’t trip when tested, and even a vent fan that spews attic insulation (it’s supposed to be vented *through* the roof to outside but maybe it isn’t!). Other issues we already knew about, like a missing shower door, sunken pavers on the driveway, gaps on the stairway trim … To be fair to Jones Homes USA, the inspector did say that the home was basically well built with no major issues, so that’s good to hear!

For your “entertainment”, here’s some pictures that the inspector took:



Unsurprisingly, Jones Homes called to move closing to Friday – which is fine by us!


Stanton changes coming fast now!

The original crazily optimistic end-December closing date has flown by, and Jones Homes have a more realistic closing date next week – so meanwhile, loads of work is being done by loads of people (although the list of things that need fixing is getting longer, too!)

Outside, we’ve got a/c units, a screened pool/patio area, and garage door – as of our last visit power hadn’t been turned on, so we’ve not yet been able to test the heating / cooling, but at least it exists now. Upstairs the balcony has been tiled, and railings installed:


Indoors, most of the bathrooms have been tiled, including our master. Some of the fixtures are in too, though not all. The granite countertops are in too in the bathrooms and in the kitchen, although the island is still missing.


The hardwood flooring is down too, and the stair rails are installed and looking fabulous (the carpets were still missing as of this morning):


We do a pre-closing inspection on Friday, it’ll be interesting to see how long the “not done” list is then, and how well they do at sorting that list before closing in 9 days …


Christmas Eve ‘Gators

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive has been closed since Hurricane Irma because of dramatically raised water levels, washed out roads … but they’ve managed to open most of it now and we took a drive there this morning, looking for Alligators. Almost immediately we saw a cluster of cars stopped – and spotted what they’d seen, an impressive at least 12′ ‘Gator on the far bank!

After photographs, we continued the drive and paid attention to the lovely scenery, and many birds, for a while …

The Cormorant with the catfish was amusing – it didn’t appear to have any idea what to do next with it’s catch!

Throughout our drive, we kept spotting more ‘Gators – see if you can spot them in the overview picture I’ve included with some of the close-ups:


Happy Christmas, Everyone!