Category Archives: Exciting Adventures of the Everyday

Stage Nature Center

It has been a little while since we have indulged in one of our favorite lunchtime pastimes: finding a new city park to explore. We tend to do this a little more in Tallahassee, but we have found that there are quite a few local parks in Troy which are beautiful and fun to explore – particularly in summertime. Today, we returned to the Stage Nature Center – where we had seen the mink earlier in the year – to see how it looks when everything has had a chance to green up.

This is the Rouge River, as it is here in Troy, a little more than a creek.

We only had about 30 minutes to spend at the park during my lunch hour, so we made a quick trip around the Sugar Maple loop. It was really neat to see the different colors of green in the leaves and how the sun lit up the trees. The part of the loop that we walked also had a display of the various stages of tree/forest lifecycle, with logs in various stages of decay and decomposition.

The nature center has programs in the winter/early spring where you can rent a tap for a sugar maple tree, then collect the maple syrup produced from the sap.

We spent a few minutes at this crossroads in the paths to watch some chipmunks. They are FAST little ones! One of them ran up a tree and started chittering very loudly for quite some time. At first, I didn’t know what was making that sound and ended up recording it on my Bird ID app. I’m not sure if he was mad or excited, but he certainly wanted everyone in the forest to hear what he had to say!

Just as we were about to move on from the chipmunk area, we spied four deer running parallel to our path. Donald’s phone has much better zoom on the camera and he was able to get this incredible photo.

A view of the Rouge River from the other side of the Sugar Maple loop.

We just did the short 0.4 mile Sugar Maple Loop today, as I only had an hour for lunch. It was really pretty and we want to come back after work one day to see what animals are active in the early evening, as well as spend more time in the back half to see if we can spot our mink friend again.

I love seeing all the different colors of green!

This was a very BIG bee on this flower. It’s in an area of the nature center which has been planted as a monarch butterfly migration station.

I love when parks make boards like this to help people know what kinds of flowers and plants are indigenous to the area, and to promote planting native plants in gardens. Sometimes, you will see a companion board, where they will inform you of invasive species in the area and ask people visiting the park to help remove the invasive species if they are seen during your walk.

This was just a quick out and back visit, but we had a lot of fun. It was great to take a break and get away from the house for a bit, as well as to enjoy the warm, sunny, non-humid weather while we have it!


You can now listen to our blog via our podcast! It is available from Anchor via Spotify, but we are also working to get it published to other podcast platforms. Don’t worry, we will be working on our audio quality as we go! Enjoy!

In Search of Fall Colors Paroxysm of Giggles

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://cadyly.com/2022/09/21/in-search-of-fall-colors/
  1. In Search of Fall Colors
  2. Stage Nature Center

Golf Newbie!

In the beginning of our relationship, we talked about playing games together, and Donald wanted to teach me how to play cribbage.

We bought a cribbage set and would play every so often.

A couple of weeks ago, I brought up that I remembered having fun playing Gin Rummy with my Dad as a kid. We looked up how to play on YouTube and played a couple times.

This afternoon, after work, I felt like learning a new card game. I was anticipating researching one online, but Donald had a suggestion ready to go: Golf. He remembers playing it with his Dad.

It is kind of like a game of Memory, as you keep your set of 4 cards face down and have the opportunity to swap one out each turn, but have to remember what you had. The goal is to have less points than your opponent. When you think you are as low as you can go (or lower than your competitors), you can “knock,” which signals the last round. Then, all players turn over their cards and count the points. Number cards are their value, Aces =1, J and Q are 10, and K=0.

Donald is both lucky and a great strategist. It looked while playing that he had a commanding lead over me. But when the round of Golf (9 “holes”) was completed, he had won by the slimmest of margins! 😀

Gameplay is very quick and the game is easy to learn. We will have to teach this to Gabby when we are in town; that little card sharp will love it!

Early Morning at Lake Ella

We had talked about making nutrition and exercise a priority, and thought that – on an ideal day – we could go for a walk in the morning, hike a bit at a local park during lunchtime, and then get some additional activity after work (maybe another walk, tennis, swimming, etc.).

We were both up early this morning and were still motivated for this, so Donald made us coffee and put it in travel mugs, and we drove over to Lake Ella. It is about 0.6 miles to walk around the lake, so that was our goal for the morning.

All of the Crêpe Myrtle trees were flowering and so pretty! We want to learn more about the flora and fauna we see around us, and become more familiar about what is indigenous and what is invasive to Tallahassee/Northern Florida. I did just a quick search, and it appears that the variety of Myrtle trees which have white flowers are known as Natchez Crêpe Myrtles (sometimes spelled Crape, but I prefer the French spelling 😉).

It was a beautiful sunrise, and many of the ducks and geese had little baby ducklings and goslings following them around. Lake Ella is known for its population of Muscovy ducks, but they also have common Mallards and Canadian geese. According to All About Birds, male Muscovy Ducks frequently mate with other species and often produce sterile hybrid offspring – we think that we have seen some of these hybrids around the lake!

We’ve been to and around Lake Ella dozens of times so far, but this is the first time I was paying attention enough to the signage to see that there was a map of the area! What we did take more notice of was the proliferation of Spin scooters in the area. There was a *lot* more scooters around the park now than before we left for Michigan. It’s as if they knew we are a little hesitant to ride them again (at least not before we get helmets!) after my tumble, and they are trying to entice us to ride them. 😊

This is probably one of my favorite views of Lake Ella. I love all of the Spanish moss in the trees!

After our leisurely stroll around the lake, sipping on our homemade coffees, we headed back home to start the work day. Mornings here tend to be a little cooler and less humid, so they are great for taking walks outside. We both really enjoyed our outing and hope to do it more frequently. Such a great start to the day: caffeine, exercise, fresh air, and beautiful views!

A New Chapter Begins at Elinor Park!

Today was our first full day back in Tallahassee after an extended stay in Michigan. Donald woke up happy and excited to get back to some of our routines.

Recently, we celebrated 6 months since I showed up on his doorstep unexpectedly. The next day, Donald took me to Elinor Knapp-Phipps park, which is nearby and one of his favorite parks to go hiking and enjoy nature.

So when lunchtime came and he asked me where I wanted to go, I picked Elinor. On the way, we talked about how this felt like a new chapter for us, and discussed some goals we had. We both want to use this feeling of a new chapter to motivate us to exercise more and establish more of a routine to our days. We want to track my diabetes more closely and spend more time reflecting on our days and recording the everyday adventures that we cherish so much.

Florida winters are far from barren, unlike Michigan, where most of the trees lose their leaves and the days are frequently overcast and cold. When we left, the Florida forests were beginning to brighten with the bright green of new growth and the azaleas and dogwood trees were blooming.

Being back, we noticed that the wooded areas have filled out to become even more lush with vegetation and there is so much more green to see wherever you look.

The weather was beautiful! It got up to 93 degrees today and was a little humid. We definitely worked up a sweat hiking around, but it was so worth it! The air was filled with the sound of cicadas and cardinals as we walked and bright green dragonflies flitted around.

I opened my Merlin app to identify some of the other bird calls we were hearing. We heard:

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Carolina Wren
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Northern Cardinal
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Northern Parula

We saw a small black and white woodpecker and spent a bit of time trying to see the Northern Parula. The app showed it as being a bright colored bird with a yellow belly and teal body. We never saw it, but we knew the general area it was in: about mid-height on a tree about 20 feet into the tree line.

The magnolias were so pretty with their dark and light, glossy leaves. This orange flower was all alone on the side of the path.

We came upon this field just as we decided to turn around to head back. We would have loved to stay longer, but somehow the lunch hour had come to a close and it was time to get back to the work day.

We both really enjoy getting out into nature and hiking around whenever we can.

After I finished work, we were going to take a swim in the pool, but it was closed. We ended up switching gears and playing tennis. It was warm and sweaty, but it felt so good to play together again.

Overall, it has been a fantastic day! We are hoping to get some movement in 3 times tomorrow: before work, lunchtime, and after work.

I can’t imagine anyone else I’d rather adventure through life with. Donald, you are the best, and I love you! 😘❤️ I can’t wait to see what this new chapter holds for us!

Quarton Lake: Lunchtime Walk

It has been rather chilly in Michigan these past few days, and while the temperature was still on the low side, the lack of cold winds and bright sun made it feel good to be outside.

So, when lunchtime came, Donald and I decided to make a quick trip down the road to Quarton Lake for a walk around the water.

These bright blue flowers were blooming in yards surrounding the lake. Siri thinks they are called Scilla. 😀

The birds (mostly robins) were chirping away and foraging, and the squirrels (both black and red/gray) were having fun running in and around the trees.

Quarton Lake is in the middle of a residential area in Birmingham, surrounded by large houses of varying architectural styles.

There are so many different species of pine tree here in Michigan. This one reminded me of the Torreya pines in Florida which are very rare. However, the needles on this one were a lot softer than on the Torreyas.

On the Maple Rd side of the lake, there is a small park that includes this white fish sculpture. And, of course, the waterfall. 😀

The watershed from Quarton Lake feeds into the Rouge River (or so I would assume from the signage on the bridge 😜). Some of the houses in the neighborhood were lucky enough to have the river on their backyard.

I’m no nature expert, but I think these yellow flowers may belong to a Forsythia bush.

This pine tree had thin, delicate branches with soft, short needles. Very pretty!

At the south end of the lake, there is a grist wheel and a plaque to let people know that Quarton Lake used to be called Mill Pond and was the site of a grist mill which ground grain into flour for the Birmingham community.

Just a couple of the beautiful houses surrounding the lake.

Looking back at the park entrance and Maple Rd
Yet another species of pine tree. This one had cool pinecones forming.

This view is from the north side of the lake. Our lunchtime walk took us completely around the lake. It was great to get out of the house for a bit and enjoy the sun on our faces!

Love, Jenn and Donald

Florida – Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park

It had been a little while since we had taken a hike during lunchtime, so we were eager to get back out there – even though our time was very limited.

We had visited the Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park during a previous lunch excursion, but hadn’t had the time then to climb the two mounds. This trip, we only had time for the mounds. 😂

It’s such a beautiful time of year here in northern Florida. Spring is already well under way and the forests are brightened with the colors of flowers and the intense green of new growth. The first flowers I saw were these tiny purple flowers in the parking lot. There were also small yellow flowers scattered throughout and occasionally a white flower on a 4-5 inch stem (making it taller than the surrounding ground cover). Unfortunately, I didn’t get a great photo of the white flowers, but they were very cute.

Purple parking lot flowers
Tiny yellow flowers (as well as white, blue, and purple) dotted the landscape

Right off the parking lot is the smaller of the two mounds. There are stairs built in, which both help people ascend to the top and help to prevent damage to the mound caused by foot traffic.

Looking up at the smaller mound

We spend a couple minutes at the top of the mound looking around and speculating what they could have been used for. Perhaps a high ground in case of local flooding, or where the people would have a tactical advantage in defending their homes? Maybe a place of honor for important individuals in the community?

Since we only had a short lunch break and I had a meeting immediately following, we quickly made our way further into the park and across a small creek to see the larger mound.

A small creek with quickly flowing water snaked between the smaller and the larger mounds
Stairs up the larger mound

I happily jogged up half the stairs (then got tired and walked like a normal person). The views from the larger mound were even prettier than from the smaller mound. I took a short 360 degree video clip of the view, read the sign posted at the top about what the area had looked like (or could have looked like?) when it was inhabited by the indigenous people.

Too soon, it was time to head back home.

On the way back down the stairs, I spied a lizard! I love these fast, little guys. Donald pointed out that this was a green one, which is the good kind. These lizards (or well, anoles) are native to the area and can change color from green to brown to help camouflage themselves from predators. There are other anoles which are only brown, and these are an invasive species that competes with the green anoles for resources.

Our lizard friend

Donald got this next photo of the anole – a great close-up! It looks like our little buddy is looking right at the camera!

Close up of our friend, the green anole. They are native and can change colors.

It was just a quick stop, but it felt great to get out of the house and take some time to see the nature bursting forth practically in our backyard!

CGB Book Club: Good Morning, Good Life #2

This book club is being run by my friend, Cindy Guentert-Baldo, on her Facebook group: Llamas Love Lettering. She will be doing livestreams every Saturday at 9 am PST (12 pm EST), and will send out an email the prior Tuesday, so you know what to read.

Week 2! I just received the email notice for Week 3 this Saturday, which reminded me to post for Week 2. Last Saturday, I was at an all-day planner event getting set up for the new year.

Good Morning, Good Life: 5 Simple Habits to Master Your Mornings and Upgrade Your Life

Our assignment this week is to read Chapter 1: Decide. Here are the questions that Cindy gave us to think about while we read:

  1. What is your “why”? Only share what you are comfortable sharing.
    I think I’m still working this out, but I want my life to matter, to have a positive influence on others.
  2. How did you feel when Amy shared what her “why” was? Did you feel a little judgy, or maybe relieved that her why wasn’t some Pinterest-worthy altruistic concoction?
    I guess I was a little surprised that she was so blunt about it, but it’s not a bad thing. She has a vision for her life and decided that acquiring the resources to make it happen is her motivation. Good for her. I just know for myself that acquiring wealth is *not* a motivator.
  3. What is it you truly need out of your mornings (really, out of your days)? Not what your family needs or your boss needs or your significant other needs… what is it YOU need?
    To be able to end my day with a sense of accomplishment, or to know that my day had meaning and purpose? I probably need more time to reflect upon this.

“The more you beat down your belief in your ability to know what is right for you, the more you start to think you don’t actually know.”

Pg. 28

Amy suggests removing some decision fatigue from your life, so you can concentrate on the important decisions. Some ways she suggests are to lay out your clothes for the next day at bedtime, creating a “usual order” for your morning beverage, and scheduling your exercise time.

She provides an interview with someone about his morning routine. My biggest take-away from that was when he was asked what helps him the most to get a productive start to the day. He replied that it was gratitude. “Think about the things that you are grateful for and you’ll be more motivated to do the things that you need to do.”

At the end of the chapter, Amy gives us 5 questions to help us discover our Why:

  1. What’s a moment that you remember being truly excited about something?
    I seem to be the most excited about interacting with others. It sounds silly, but I am a true extrovert at heart. Nothing makes me happier than being around others and sharing our experiences. Take this weekend for example: I went to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village. It was super cute and there was a lot to do and see; however, it was made 1000x better because I was there with friends. I could really feel all of the joy, awe, and wonder of Christmas because I was sharing the experience. This is probably also why I blog, photograph, and post on social media: not for attention, but to be able to connect with others.
  2. Think of something that has sparked passion in you, what was it?
    My goddaughter and her sisters, photography, blogging, reading, being a part of the Planners Gone Wild community…
  3. What do you need more of in your life that you’re a little (or a lot) afraid to say out loud?
    Focus? I picked that for my “word of the year” since I allow myself to get distracted and sidelined a lot in my personal life.
  4. What’s the real reason you need more of those things in your life?
    We only have so much time. I’d rather fill my life with things that are truly important than with filler. I want to have made an impact and a difference (for the better) in other people’s lives.
  5. At the end of your life, what would you like to be able to say about how you spent your time?
    That I loved God, I loved others, and I gave 100% of myself every day.

My question to myself right now is:

If I had a lousy day and were sick and feeling miserable, what would it take for me to feel good about my day in spite of that? I think some part of that is to give myself the grace to not be on top of my game every day, but I think there is also some room to redefine what a “good day” looks like.

This reminds me of the concept of redemptive suffering. Even when you feel useless and powerless, you truly are not. See also: On Passivity vs Activity in Suffering.

See you soon for Part #3!

CGB Book Club: Good Morning, Good Life #1

This book club is being run by my friend, Cindy Guentert-Baldo, on her Facebook group: Llamas Love Lettering. She will be doing livestreams every Saturday at 9 am PST (12 pm EST), and will send out an email the prior Tuesday, so you know what to read.

Of course, I’m coming into this a tad late. No surprise there. The first livestream went up yesterday, so I watched the first few minutes of it, then paused the video so I could read the Intro (our homework), then follow along with the replay. And, I started writing this blog. Because I love to distract myself.

Good Morning, Good Life: 5 Simple Habits to Master Your Mornings and Upgrade Your Life

Here are the three questions that Cindy provided for us to reflect upon while we read the Intro:

  1. Do you consider yourself a morning person? Why or why not?
    I do consider myself to be a morning person. This is when I am most productive and have the most energy. When on vacation, my roommates can attest that I’m generally one of the first people out of bed and out the door (and typically on my way to Starbucks…). I’m actually one of those *annoying* morning people who is super cheerful upon waking up. Unfortunately for me, I don’t generally have time to do all the things around the house before I need to go to work; and then don’t feel like doing them when I get home. #messyhouse #thankgodformymom
  2. What is it you’d like to get out of a morning routine?
    It would be nice to not have to run around stressed out in the mornings, and probably better for me if I have a routine of taking my meds, having more coffee at home ($tarbuck$), and in general, feeling more prepared for my day.
  3. Which of the five habits Amy discusses in the Introduction do you think is going to be the most difficult for you to incorporate?
    Rise. LOL! I’m notorious for setting a bunch of alarms, then justifying sleeping in longer. I even set my alarm to require me to do high-level math problems to get it to shut off. Turns out, they were too easy. *sigh* Plus, who wants to get out of bed when the house is cold??

“…To build the life I wanted, I had to do more than just show up for everyone else… I have to show up and choose myself.”

Pg. xii

Amy gives an example of jumping out of bed and immediately rushing to work, something which I do all too frequently. Mostly, because I only allot myself about 4-5 hours of sleep per night. 🙂

“What if the first task of the day was to make myself happy?”

This is an interesting question. I’m not particularly motivated by seeking out my own happiness. In “The Four Tendencies” language, I’m an Obliger and am primarily motivated by what I can do for others, and am best at keeping external vs. internal commitments.

The 5 Habits:

  1. Decide: Choose for yourself what you want your mornings to look like. A good “why” will help keep you motivated.
  2. Defy: Combat your personal obstacles.
  3. Rise: Actually get up. (LOL!)
  4. Shine: Build the morning of your dreams.
  5. Thrive: “We are here to live a life. Not just a morning.”

See you soon for Part #2!

You Can’t Force the Things You Love

Now that we are just over a week into the new year, this is the time for all those bright, shiny New Year’s Resolutions to start falling by the wayside. It’s the time where you cheat for the first (or millionth) time, where you let yourself not do something *just this once*, where you promise to double up tomorrow. It’s a slippery slope and the slide starts early.

This evening, I started reading Emily Ley’s book, “A Simplified Life.” I bought two copies of this book: one for myself and one for my best friend. We both have aspects of our life which are hectic and frustrating and often feel that each day has far too much in the To Do column than will ever get checked off as Done.

Emily starts by talking about our environment and how clutter can make you feel overwhelmed and defeated before you even begin. So true, Emily. So true. I was read in a little bit, and then when I turned the page, there were some questions for us to answer about our home and what kind of environment we imagine for ourselves. So, of course, I decided that I would answer these for myself, instead of just plowing forward in reading the book. But then, I didn’t want to write in the book, because maybe I’d want to read it again later? So, sticky notes to the rescue! I had to then get up and find some sticky notes. And a pen. And while I’m up, I might as well put the phone on the charger since it’s almost out of battery. And let’s move the phone stand from the office to the bedroom (I’ve REALLY got to go to the Container Store and get another one! I am SO SICK of moving it from room to room every day!). Then, I consider blogging my responses instead, since I want to get back into blogging more anyway. So now, I need to go back into the office to grab the laptop (Is it charged?!). Finally, I cozy myself into the chaise with my sherpa throw and go to my website. And I can’t remember my password. Ugh! Seriously? I try a few times, because I know basically what it is, just not if the current iteration has a number or a different capital letter or what special character I added (did I add one?). *sigh* FINE. I’ll get up. And go BACK into the office, because I know that I have the password on a sticky note by the desk (I think so anyway). FINALLY, I’m logged in. Back to the chaise and my sherpa throw. Well, maybe not the throw, after all. I’m kind of warm. But not too far away, in case I get cold. how about right beside me? Oh yes, the blog post. What did I want to blog about? Forget environmental clutter, all of this mental clutter exhausts me before I can even consider my surroundings. Not that the surroundings help. So.

What’s the title of this post? You can’t force the things you love? Right. Back to the topic. Somewhere between charging the phone and grabbing the laptop — when I was thinking that I’d like to blog more — I segued into thinking about the various things I wanted to get back into doing. Things that I make “resolutions” around. Things that I used to do a lot and enjoyed doing. Like blogging and photography. And how I rarely do these things any more. I thought about how they have been on my New Year’s Resolutions list for years now. How every year, I am determined to get back into my old habits and how every year I don’t succeed. Why not?

Why not indeed. I think it’s precisely because I make them into a resolution. I make them into an item to complete and check off. Instead of being something that I enjoy and that I’m passionate about, I’ve suddenly made it into a chore or an errand. Something ELSE that I have to do. But that’s not the way I want to feel about these things. I want to do them because I love doing them. Not because a prompt in #cy365 says that today is the day to take a photograph of something From a Different Perspective (not actually today’s prompt – I haven’t looked at today’s prompt yet).

So, maybe I’ll focus more on Enjoying instead of Task Completion. Goals are fine and can be motivating, but at the end of the year, will I be better off from having a bunch of checkboxes, but feeling as though I need a vacation from my free time? Or should I not worry about accomplishing anything at all and allow myself to relax. Can I allow myself to be happy with wasting a day without getting frustrated with myself? I don’t know.

But I do know that I cannot “list” myself into passion for any particular thing, no matter how pretty the paper or how many colored pens I use. (Blasphemy!) I would rather Experience and Live and Enjoy and Savor, than check off yet another box.

And then, perhaps, I can use my lists to dream….