Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Great Peepers. Ahhhh, those eyes!

A thorough eye exam was on my agenda today. I met an Italian doctor from Long Island who thought I was originally from south Philly. Well, that’s news to me. He said there’s something about the sound of my A’s. What does a south Philly accent sound like, I wonder? I’ve never been told I have a home town Baltimore accent but I’ve been told I sound like a Texan before. Gee, I’m all screwed up, especially when I add my acquired North Carolinian “ya’ll”, “all ya’ll”, and “Thank e-ewe” to the mix of Texan and south Philly accents. Perhaps I should just keep my mouth shut. Impossible!

Other than my increasing need for bifocal lenses, I have good peepers and I’m glad. Good eyesight is precious to me because if I were to never see this again,


oh, I can’t bear the thought. Isn't this the cutest little bird you’ve ever seen?


Hello, honey. Don’t let me interrupt your meal.
Can anyone look at this tiny, strong avian creature without smiling?

I'd miss this sight and the life inside, and,

my 4:15 p.m. daily appointment with a lone Carolina Wren.

I see you; therefore, I am leaving!

The death of this willow is adorned with a sparkling green gemstone. How beautiful.

If I couldn’t see my dogs' faces, I’d hold them so close to mine and

I would sniff the back of their necks.


Do you think a physician would tell me to lower my desk chair two inches at home and at the office to relieve my injury? No, they would prescribe megadoses of anti-inflammatory drugs instead. I figured it out myself and my lower back is much better today. There’s no need for me to walk around with an imaginary loaded diaper between my legs. What a relief. Now I can sit pain-free and read blogs!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunday Rain and Shopping with Men


It rained on Sunday evening! This morning a patchy fog covered areas. This is the driving range I see on my way out to work. As I type this, it’s 90. A cool spell.


After the summer we have had, seeing raindrops is a major event. We sat on the porch quietly for a while and listened. It didn’t last long. The soft rain soaked in a bit then ended in an hour. It was enough to calm our hot, dry selves.


I stood in the soft rain and let it cool me. The bathing hummingbirds were celebrating, I think.


The whole community of them, maybe twelve or fifteen strong, mesmerized me. They shared dinner and chatted for a while.


Earlier in the day…

Quite often, I’ll witness Michael doing something odd that makes me roll my eyes. He’ll reply back to me, “Put THAT in your blog!” HA! OK...

On Sunday afternoon we visited the Black Lion store where you browse with wide eyes over 150 vendor rooms full of framed art and antiques, upscale gifts, home accessories, Christmas decorations, and furniture. We’ve spent the last two years decorating our home and are still not finished. I just realized that today is our two-year anniversary as homeowners in North Carolina!

First let me talk about the ride to Black Lion. He has a new Tundra in which he loaded six CDs but didn’t learn how to play them because that would have required reading the manual. I wonder why some people can push buttons and drive and some can’t? After he nearly took out two mailboxes which made me squeal and suggest, “just drive the truck”, he decided to fasten his seat belt while zigzagging into merging traffic. I’d rather not hear Mob Hits, the Beach Boys, or Scottish bagpipes, anyway. I hold on, close my eyes, and hope for the best. This is they way he drives. Passengers with him feel the shifts and turns like a ride on the Tilt a Whirl. Ok in an amusement park – not on country roads.

We arrive at the store and I watch him scan fifty Yankee candles in record time. While I’m taking my time and still reading the labels of Eucalyptus, Sage, Fresh Linen, Sea Mist, Fresh Cut Roses, Willow Breeze…he’s on the other side uncapping the fruity scents. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack – fifty sniffs, DONE. “This one is too orangey.” I reply, “Uh hum. Put it down.”

Then, off to look for decorative pieces for the fireplace mantle and shelves in the family room. This is what he fondles:


He has a fruit fetish. Loves coconuts. This isn’t what he saw on Sunday but it’s a typical example of what intrigues him.


He loves pineapple art. I watch his size 15 fingers rotate a work of art like this close to his eyes. “Hey, Mare? It’s only fifteen dollars!” Mare isn’t there. She’s already around the corner laughing uncontrollably and wondering what in the world it is!


This is NOT something I would display. “You can’t be serious, Michael.”

In all fairness, he does have good taste in art on some occasions. We have both agreed on some items we proudly display. His interest in fruity art, however, makes me wild. We purchased a few things on Sunday but the best thing we brought home was a new back brush for the shower from Bed, Bath & Beyond!

In the mood for a late lunch, we decided to try something new. Fast food sickens me and for a decade, the smell of a Burger King Whopper made me nauseous. This is where we landed for a burger treat we seldom enjoy.

steak n shake

Eating inside a fast food restaurant with dozens of children and adults having their last fast food celebration before the beginning of school didn’t make for the cleanest place…my menu was soaked in chocolate shake. Blech!

When our steak burger order arrived, we both looked at each other and said, “Where’s the damned BEEF?” Zero stars.

On the way home, we arrived at an intersection and he wondered where the road would take us if we turned left instead of right. I wasn’t in the mood to be lost for an hour and said, “Oh, just turn right.” I had birds and dogs to feed. Not a bad day, really. I laughed until I cried.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award

Dawn at Suburban Wildlife Garden offered me a “Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award”. How do I feel about it? More below.


The progressive folks at Climate of Our Future created this award as a way to encourage "blogging with a purpose". Those who receive the award may bestow it upon five other bloggers who they think are helping to “build awareness among their readership in order to create a more sustainable and enlightened future”.

Dawn’s other four candidates in different countries are outstanding naturalists and actively pursue their passions. That’s why I was quite surprised to learn she nominated me because I don’t think I make a difference. I recycle, maintain a small wildlife habitat in my backyard, and that’s about it. No major productions or promoting going on here, for sure.

After giving this award some serious thought, I came to the conclusion that all of us who blog about nature are passionate people with a desire for an environmentally perfect wonderland. Whether we blog about our efforts as educators who reach out into the community on a large scale or whether we blog about our little 10-foot by 10-foot patch of native plants in our tiny wildlife habitats, we are contributing towards global change. We all matter.

Today I’d like to honor five friends who amaze me with their talents and continue to inspire their readers. I wish I could list many more.

Susan Gets Native in southwest Ohio. She is extraordinary. Susan is an education director for a raptor center and lives with daily emphasis on preserving natural resources to save the birds, bugs, and wildlife. I rely on her identification of anything living. There isn’t much she won’t do to sustain wildlife; for example, during a southwestern Ohio snowstorm she ran out of seed for her backyard birds so she rubber-banded a granola bar to the branch of a tree. Her photo of a wren munching away on her offering was priceless. Susan’s huge heart and ingenuity will make you laugh out loud.

Ruth at Nature Knitter in Rochester, Minnesota. She is relatively new at blogging but offers so much. She has a Monarch Butterfly Ranch and just recently tagged her first butterfly! Ruth is busy tending to her sprawling landscape and introduces something new to fellow bloggers every day. Her dedication to birds is appreciated by the many species that surround her. I am beginning to learn that Ruth is also a multi-talented woman. If she ever wanted a part-time job on evenings or weekends, there is a job as an appliance repair technician waiting for her as she is skilled at repairing broken dryers.

Alyssa at My Examined Life in Wisconsin. Alyssa lives on three acres of the most beautiful gardens. She and her husband work constantly on their lovely wildlife habitat. Since knowing Alyssa, I have learned how to can fruits and vegetables and live off the land. Alyssa is passionate about elephants and their freedom. She’s a factory worker with many talents and I enjoy reading her blog because of her passion for nature and her great literary talent.

Ruth at Body, Soul, and Spirit in Ontario, Canada. Ruth brings a wealth of knowledge into the blogosphere. These are only a few of Ruth’s blog topics that concern her and she’ll always add some history behind them: endangered species, human health, eating fresh - eating local, water and air quality, balanced ecosystems, landfills, conservation, and fuel consumption. At the end of the week, she delivers lovely “Friday Flowers”.

Tom at Monarch’s Nature Blog in western New York. I think Tom has the most enjoyable and rewarding job of anyone I know. He is a naturalist, field biologist, and nature photographer at Allegany State Park. His primary interest is in the life and welfare of birds and educates many young naturalists and their families during hands-on banding sessions and field trips. Just recently he photographed a Mudpuppy at ASP. That’s cool! Visiting his daily blog posts enriches me because I learn so much from his vast knowledge and love of nature. I need to add that his photography ROCKS.


Awardees: Do not feel obligated to participate in this meme but if you care to bestow honors, here are the rules according to Climate of Our Future.

It’s easy to participate in this meme. At minimum, you can proudly display the BPGC badge (it’s available in two varieties: Transparent GIF and JPEG with white background) on your blog and bask in the glow of our collective good will. If you are sharing the kudos, however, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.

1. When you get tagged, write a post with links to up to 5 blogs that you think are trying to change the world in a positive way.

2. In your post, make sure you link back to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Leave a comment or message for the bloggers you’re tagging, so they know they’re now part of the meme.

4. Optional: Proudly display the “Bloggers For Positive Global Change” award badge with a link to the post that you write up.


Thanks to Dawn and everyone who shares love of outdoor life.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Miscellaneous - Spiders, Pigeons,whatever


Twice this week, brief evening rain showers evaporated in minutes and we are grateful for the few clouds that shielded us from the blistering sun for a little while. Our hardships don’t come close to those in States who are experiencing floods. I wish for them to experience some of our drought and sunshine.

There are a few ideas for posts floating around in my head but I don’t have the energy to put it all together tonight or for the next few nights. Here, I will “show and tell” what I’ve seen during the past week. We’re all hidden inside where the air conditioning blows so I’ve had little time with my camera. Only before sunset am I outdoors to tend to the birds and flowers. Within seven days we expect some relief from the one-hundred degrees and might receive some rain. Oh, happy day! I’ll take my shoes off and run through a downpour!



A harmless Black & Yellow Garden Spider, argiope aurantia. I don’t like spiders near me but I love watching them weave their traps every morning. This female measures about one and three quarter inches. I used zoom because I was too timid to get close. On the ground below the spider there is ivy covering a 2-foot black snake. The snake didn't worry me, but the spider made me shiver.


An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is large and fast-moving. I had one shot at it and was lucky. The pitiful, near death butterfly bush that I bought for $5 served its purpose because I’ve been force-feeding drinks on it. We don’t spend a lot of money on plants and flowers now because we have lost so much. Lessons learned.



The pond colors are pleasing me every day!

The water is crystal clear but there is work to do. I see some string algae in places. No harm, really.


The Koi are hidden under plants and haven’t been fed in several weeks. I want to feed them because that’s when I check their health and behavior. They're swimming in a hot tub now and I’m worried about it. It’s been too long since I’ve had a good look at them. When the weather cools, I’ll remove many plants and offer them some food.

There were two pigeons. Then there were eight pigeons. Now there are twenty pigeons. I remember my two pigeon porn posts… What shall I do???


Call the dogs on them? They’re ground feeders and don’t cause problems. I like to hear their gurgling voices, but…

I'm concered about the poop. Will my neighbors attack me and my feeders?



Here’s lookin’ back at ya, pooper!

This post is done. Sigh...

In hopes of some excitement soon...

I need a giggle this evening. Here’s Michael Vick’s jury:


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Four Dogs


Ooops. Bella is behind the right side curtain panel. Our family has grown to 160 pounds of dog.

I made Maryland crab cakes for dinner on Sunday. Gina, Billy, and their dogs squeezed into Gina’s 2-door Toyota Scion to come for dinner and to let their new dog visit Gramma’s house for the first time. Billy is six foot-five and the dogs are both large so it took a while for everyone to unfold through two doors. Our new granddog arrived to meet the girls.


“I don’t know where I am but I am here. Snort.”

Old girl Chloe is always the "meet and greet" committee while spooky Bella hangs back. She’s always been at ease and confident with new dogs. After the first few minutes of sniffing and introductions, we unhooked their leads. Mr. Biggins wanted to be the first to jump on Gramma and I protected my camera very well! Then, off they went!


He shall be named Bam Bam, “Bammy”, or more often,

“Bamma lamma ding dong”.

He'll keep his original name although it isn't very dignified. A four year old girl named him Bam Bam. It's OK.


Chloe: “Hold still. I need to sniff your stop. What are you?”

Bella was more interested in his jewels. Her Pooh’s Piglet voice: “Hey, c-c-come here! Let me ch-ch-check your ID. Where did you g-get those? Woo Hoo.” It could be the last time she will be able to marvel at those hummdingers…


Bam Bam made himself at home right away and found his way to the water dish on the deck without help. I was concerned about him being around the pond because English Bulldogs need a rescue in three feet of water. He didn’t show interest in it this time, thankfully. It was hot enough for all of them to enjoy the baby pool. Maybe next time. Surprisingly, the wide boy can run! He has trouble braking and tripped on the deck steps a few times, unaffected.

Dr. Mark said he is perfect. His blood work was good and the best news is that he has lost four pounds since Gina has had him. Bam Bam walks and plays in his new home, unlike before. He’s a loving hunk of joy and during their first week together, he and Mr. Biggins have become good playmates. They rarely battle anymore.


Chloe, the snob: “Well? What’s the deal, Mother? Don’t tell me he’s staying. Please. His face is too sloppy.”


Neighbor Dan couldn’t resist a visit. I wanted to offer him paper towels as he was slimed by all four of them after he came inside the gate.


Bella, sweet Bel Bel, is the most insecure and sensitive dog of all. She made it her business to make sure that no one was allowed in her Daddy’s chair.

She and Mr. Biggins always play intensely with lots of harmless teeth gnashing and neck munching. Bella tends to get carried away sometimes, and when Bam Bam wanted a piece of the action, I could sense a brawl might happen between the three so I used my deep and dark Darth Vader voice, twice, which put them at attention. Very cool! Good dogs.

When Gina, Billy, Mr. Biggins, and Bam Bam packed themselves into the little car, we waved good-bye. Mr. Biggins kept his eyes on me as they drove away and I know his look didn’t mean anything, really, but I felt a little sadness and a knot in my throat. To me, this visit was different. I showed him affection, for sure, and told him how wonderful he is, but not like other times. Of course, they are all just dogs but I think when worried Mr. Biggins comes to visit again, I will want to hold him and talk to him more often. He knows things have changed, he looks worried more often, and I understand it, too. I wish I weren’t so sentimental about every little thing…I just can't forget his eyes on me when leaving.


All four at the door. I can’t hide - but everything is alright.
I had just... windexed... that... door!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Visions of Autumn in August


When I walked outside this morning I realized our summer is looking like early Autumn, in a way. Soft birches are dropping yellow and brown leaves. You can hear them fall when a gentle breeze graces us. Hard wood leaves are drooping.


We crunch through dry grass and leaves. No rain - for what seems like an eternity.


Garden hoses don’t help much to sustain life after weeks of extreme heat and blazing sun without rain clouds. This once beautiful young willow kicked the bucket. It's death might be a result of disease and we’ll work on it when the heat subsides. Farmers are losing livestock and I feel sad for them. My positive side thinks we’ll have some rain in a week or two and maybe some Canadian air! The forecast for the next week is 99, 99, 100, 99, 101, 99, 102...chance of a T-storm on Thursday.

I've lived through droughts before and experienced similar weather patterns. This summer has been hard on me because I'm older and can't withstand heat like I could as a younger chick and also because I've worked hard to maintain new gardens this year.


Looks like Jack Frost arrived! The pink zinnias are suffering but the orange ones are doing just fine.

It’s kind of depressing here in the southeast. We all pray for relief. I often sympathize for those who have too much of what we need.

I'll quit whining now (until the next post) and make the best of it!
Amidst all of this, there is an invincible summer to enjoy...

Home grown tomatoes!

Sunshine we crave in January!

Long days and the night sounds of crickets! Just a few, actually...

No mosquitoes this year!

Butterflies are in full force lately! I think of Sherry at Q's Corner when I'm zooming in...


I don’t have my field guide yet and don't feel like looking them up on the internet. Enjoy the view.




Splashes of color remain - through it all.

I realize I just posted hummingbirds two days ago but I couldn’t resist sharing what the little hummers did yesterday.

Earlier this summer, I wasn’t able to get a decent photo of a male ruby-throated. Well, lookit what visited yesterday! I was thrilled, for a while. He intended to stay and dominate the yellow feeder. For four straight hours, he guarded “his” nectar and fought relentlessly. My laundry piled up in the laundry room, dirty dishes sat in the sink, and the bed didn’t get made until bedtime. I had to watch the little King of Nectar…





Five hummers in action. He’s sat atop the hanger for four hours. Whenever I'd go inside the house, there were at least ten. He fought hard without rest. What a sight! I really need to learn about posting videos.


Some played it safe and watched the war from afar.

I thought I was getting a photo of two hummers in flight! How about that butterfly! How cool is THAT?

He was shaded under the overhang of the porch roof and I took about thirty photos to get a little of the red glow. I stood right under him and we talked about his behavior (yeah, ya’ll know I’m a fruitcake). This little guy was so determined to own the feeder and that I could have easily reached out and touch him at arm's length. I didn't. There was no need to spoil a relationship.