Sunday, September 30, 2007

Snake Visitation Day


There were a few small, green garden snakes and a few large black snakes that lived with us in Maryland. Since then, I haven’t seen a snake at my house until today. We live on a small fraction of an acre in suburbia so who would have thought they’ve been living with us for a while?


The sound of a grown man screaming like a girl is hilarious. He was pulling weeds around the hydrangeas (which, by the way did not produce flowers this year) when I saw him jump back. I guess I would have jumped back, too. My role as house photographer went into immediate action and I directed him to fetch a rake. He came back with a shovel. Hellooo? I knew his heart was pounding and he just couldn’t think. I commented, “Unless you intend to chop its head off, go get the rake. The heavy one!” The rake didn’t work. We lost the snake. You can’t be timid when relocating a snake. I know from experience.


Chloe has had her head in the same garden for days and now I know why. She’s a skillful hunter and recognizes the musky smell of a nervous snake, unlike her sister,


Bella, who fears a hunt and would rather keep herself safe within her hula hoop or behind my legs.

Two hours later…


We have numerous lizards and toads around the house and this poor Skink was about to be called dinner, by this:


Another snake? Two snakes in one day? It looks like a common garter snake to me – no danger. But I’m not quite sure yet.


I had my camera. I had to take a chance. Not knowing if it was deadly or if it would strike, I sat down anyway and scooted two feet away from the pretty snake and whispered, “Let’s see a little snaky lick”. Success!

It became heavenly cool this weekend! Overnight temps in the 50’s and daytime highs in the 80’s probably made the snakes move. They are also very thirsty and I have what they need. Our drought is beyond being called severe or extreme. We are in real danger here and I’m not exaggerating. I read David’s post from Leave Me Alone I’m Digging and I loved it. His frustration with the heat and drought here in NC is shared but entertaining at the same time.


Irrigation systems and spinklers are prohibited, making the pond an oasis. A Mockingbird insisted I leave before taking a dip.


Early evening mirrors the golden sunset on cool water.


The cool evening air invited me to spend a little time to photograph a Canna’s reflection.


It’s out of focus but I like it. We still have some life to see and for that, I am thankful. Now, I'm heading outdoors again to breathe the fresh air and to enjoy the end of summer. It's 6:24 p.m. I need to go see the sunset in an hour.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Travel Prep


Plump and ready to go - a recent photo.
It might be the last hummingbird photo I take this year.

Today I stepped onto the deck and didn’t see them or hear their squeaky chitter-chatter for twenty long minutes. The silence was too apparent so I sat in a chair, waited for them, and thought about it. I was relieved to see two come in for a landing and guard their nectar.

It won’t be long now. At any moment, they will fly away without looking back and leave this uncomfortable place. I hope they soak up rain showers on their journey because they deserve a break – a vacation away from this dry pit.

I have heard they often return to the same address in the spring. That fact amazes me because I get lost while reading a road map.

Since May, I have felt a sense of ownership or rather, a bond with my hummingbirds as if they were my pets. I’ll miss them and the pleasure they give.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Unusual Names and Things

Marcel Marceau

My Mother loved Marcel Marceau and the romantic sound of his name.

Listening to the Bose radio alone tonight is quite alright. I’m not alone, really, because I can hear Chloe and Bella’s jingle and their chomping jaws on rawhides. Delilah takes requests on an evening romantic radio show. The music is loud in the house now but the tunes are soft and reflective…James Taylor’s, “You’ve Got a Friend”, “Lady in Red”, “You Look Wonderful Tonight”, and, “Love Shack” (yeah!)

Sherry at Q’s Corner invited me to participate in a middle name meme. Please click and browse through her artistic talent and see photos worth publishing.

I’ve never liked my middle name and had no intentions of participating in this meme! Throughout my life, everyone I knew named “Mary” had a sweet or saintly middle name attached to it, i.e. Mary Ann, Mary Beth, Mary Alice, Mary Lee, or Mary Lou. I was known as Mary Moore (first & last name) during elementary and high school and I withheld my middle name from everyone until today.

So, in honor of Marcel Marceau who left us on Sunday, September 23, 2007, I find it to be fitting that I honor his talent and my Mother, who chose this name for me. I’ll describe myself in one word for each letter of my middle name.

M – moody

A – artistic

R – rebellious

C – caring

E – empathetic

L – laughing at every given opportunity

Now the entire world knows that my Mom didn’t choose a traditional middle name for me. When I questioned her choice several times during my childhood years, she said, “Marcel Marceau is a famous mime and I like the sound of Marcel.”

I’m not French. I'm not a mime. I'm a female. But I love my Mom anyway.

So, there you have it.

I am named after a famous male French mime. Go ahead and laugh! I am... and now, after a few decades, I think I like it.

Tag: Susan, Pam, and Laurie.

Unusual post? Yes. Here are some things that amuse my unusual self - photos I rescued from the recycle bin.


Slug or dried up hibiscus bloom?


Laughing Cardinals


I stare at flowing water patterns.


Toads in all colors


Bam’s sweet obsession with my daughter's fragrant ponytails


Cloud formations (pucker up, handsome!)


Mushrooms during a drought?


Microscopic butterflies and moths


My husband’s obsession with the ugliest tree on earth:
He enjoyed himself alone at the nursery. He destroyed the tag and I don’t even know what it is. Sickly, but soft to touch!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Orb Weavers, Birding, and English Bulldogs

Grinning from ear to ear, I'm posting again... After an Autumn tease for a few days, we are roasting again. Fry an egg on my exhausted head.

Walking through an Orb Weaver’s web the size of Texas was the highlight of my weekend. I didn’t see it as I walked by the northeast side of the house yesterday. The slimy, elastic net pulled, snapped, and attached around my entire body - across my hair, eyeglasses, neck, waist, and legs. I could hear a rubber band popping sound as it was unable to hold me in its surprisingly strong grip. Waaaaaaa! Mary instinctively put on a show for the world to see of arms flinging, feet stomping, pirouetting, and head shaking all the way through the gate, up into the sunroom, and through the kitchen door. I wouldn’t dare touch my hair because I felt something moving in it!

Michael saw me running through the sunroom and thought I might be having a seizure fit of some sort. His eyes wide, he heard me yell, “Mi-i-i-i-i-ichael! Is there a spider in my hair? LOOK!”

No spider. But… there was a spider. I gave it a free ride into the sunroom where it greeted me this morning.


In the sunroom. In my house. I’ll have nightmares tonight.

Overnight, it made an elaborate web that was attached to the ceiling fan, coffee table below it, and the wall. I didn’t know it was there until I let the dogs out this morning and felt that familiar “snap” around me again…just a little snap when I passed through one of its anchors.

It took me two hours to muster the courage to remove it with a broom. It’s back in the bushes on the northeast side of the house now and I won’t walk that way again without waving a broomstick in front of me. I won't forget.


We’ve been in NC for two years and I need to get around and know the state. I submitted a reservation request for a field trip with the Mecklenburg County Audubon on October 13! It’s a beginning birder field trip and I think that’s a good place for me to start. I would love to join them on the 14th’s Big Sit but I’ll wait until next year for that! I’ll enjoy meeting new people in NC and discovering hot spots for birding and nature, plus, I’ll know my way around to find good images when I want to break away from backyard boredom.

I do love my birds and the life in my backyard…


L.O.L.! (I do have a good variety of birds, not shown here!)

Didn’t know that gargoyle on the lower right stepped into the photo…




The dark beak threw me off but Julie helped me to identify it as a juvenile Goldfinch. The poor little thing drank and bathed in the pond alone while a hawk watched nearby but I was there to protect...


Update: I count four now. The other ten or so have started their journey. I took this photo this morning knowing it might be my last opportunity for a long while.

I am grateful for what my yard offers, but I gotta get outta here!

~ Weekend Funnies ~

Bam Bam’s (a.k.a. Bamma Lamma Ding Dong) testicles are still healing and needed a break from roughhousing with Mr. Biggins. I took him for a few hours while Michael and Gina shopped around town.


Doggie McWanna Whiz on Weeds and Wildflowers

He laughs heartily at Chloe’s concern about his healing testicles.

Hula Hoops frighten him but he can’t resist chasing Bella.

I’m the b-b-best hula girl, ain’t I, Mom?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I am in a snit.


!$%&*!#* !

My photos are worth dirt today and I'm not happy. I'm irritated about the whole day. Little setbacks and imaginary gnats flying around my head make me grit my teeth.

Thank you for making me wait, young lady. You are lovely.

I’m in a snit.

My right eye has an annoying twitch.

Water restrictions will become more severe soon but I planted Coneflowers today with high hopes. I’ll haul buckets of water to them in the evenings until it rains again – maybe in two weeks. Garden hoses are not allowed!

Of course, no one visited. I waited for a while but the butterflies didn’t notice them.


They seemed interested in ratty, dried up Canna, instead, and flew away while I was navigating over rocks in my Crocs to get closer.


I see a fetus. Maybe the twitch in my eye is affecting my vision.

Tomorrow is another day.
Deep sigh...

The day wasn't a total loss, however. OJ and Marsha Clark met in the same courtroom. Very cool!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Writing Challenges


Oh, we thought this little three-hour class would be a cinch. It was an opportunity to earn professional development credit hours so about fifteen of us strutted through the door, ready to learn we don’t have anything to learn. We thought, “Who needs room for improvement for sending simple e-mails?”

We laughed throughout the entire class because it was fun, especially to see a small group of autobody instructors putting together a decently arranged paragraph consisting of adjectives, subjects, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, interjections, phrases, indirect objects, and clauses. I didn’t have a clue as to what most of these terms meant. Really. I recognize the terms, heard about them, studied them, but didn’t know a phrase from a clause. Eeeks. Punctuation was a highlight, especially when we were asked to punctuate contractions and plural possessive nouns!


Does anyone remember sentence diagrams? I do. I liked them, probably because I’m a visual learner and I like to draw. They were pushed down our throats for years, to the point I would dream about them and draw them for fun. My Mom would recite a sentence and I’d diagram it for her. How’s that for an exciting evening at the kitchen table!

The Sisters in the Catholic schools I attended for twelve years were ruthless and mean when it came to teaching grammar and writing. Donna, a very kind teacher, uses a green pen for marking up papers but those Sisters of Providence and Notre Dame used red flairs and other humiliating tactics to whip us into shape.

I don’t think children are taught grammar and punctuation the same way anymore. Whenever I hear the question, “Where’s it at?”, I freak out, especially when I hear professionals say it. It’s kind of sad that I had great preparation for writing but can’t tell you what an independent clause is. I’m aware that I use old, tired clichés and too many commas. My worst writing habit is the consistent use of run-on sentences. I tend to add an "and" and keep going. And, what’s worse than that is I know I’m doing it! But don’t care. La Dee Da~

I had a horrible time writing my last post because I was paralyzed with new information. I mean, how many times can you recite a sentence in your mind and then have the audacity to type it as a run-on? It took me hours to write it and I was so disgusted that I nearly scrapped the whole thing.

So, here are a few photos that show how much I loved the cool weather this weekend. I will try to be a very good caption writer. Donna, have your green pen ready.


It’s been a long time since Chloe & Bella shared a sunny spot on the porch. After the daytime temperatures dipped from 95 to 78 overnight, we're all in shock.


Autumn is almost here but I have a feeling summer will continue for a while. Summer is my favorite season despite the horrible one we faced in 2007.


The bees are back. I didn’t even realize they weren’t around for a few weeks. Or, maybe there were here and I was just too hot to care.



No one knows how large the Koi are by looking at my photos. The largest ones are at least ten inches long and hefty enough for a fish dinner for two. They are rejoicing, too, after sinking in darkness for a few months.


The birds are active and gay now. I often wonder what they were doing when it was so hot. It was cool enough to attempt to get a photo of a Tufted Titmouse last night. I'll keep trying.


It’s good to see plump hummingbirds. They need to beef up for their journey…

If you haven't seen the best hummingbird photos, visit Ruth at Nature Knitter for a real treat. I've viewed her post several times!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dripping Gemstones


We waited for Joe to arrive for dinner at the clubhouse on Friday night. From Maryland, he drove through tornado conditions in Virginia and a very long back-up on I-85 south in North Carolina but he took the time to stop at a grocery store nearby to hand me a pretty bouquet of flowers. Very sweet!


The view from the 9th hole was cloudy. The rain kept us under cover and we were all happy about it!

We spent many hours at dinner. Our sides ached from laughing and drinks flowed generously until we faded before midnight in our family room. Michael, Joe, and John share the same stressful occupations and enjoy being “boys” for needed relaxation of golf and Casino Night fun.
Two days prior:


I took this photo just before “lights out” on Wednesday. Chloe & Bella wore him out. Mr. Biggins spent two nights and days here because Bam Bam was neutered on Wednesday. The day after his surgery, however, he was rushed to the emergency vet with respiratory complications that scared us! English Bulldogs are very special surgical patients. His distress was temporary and he arrived home a few hours later feeling great.


During the wee hours on Friday morning, I heard rain tap the windows. Rain? The soft sound was music to my ears and I returned to bed heaving a sigh of relief. I spent most of the day watching soaking rains we haven’t seen for months.


I listened to tiny splashes and did not feel the blistering sunshine.

Diamond drops from heaven. Tiny gemstones.


The cool air invites me to stalk birds and take long walks again.


I think I've lost my knack for photographing birds. She would not cooperate! Practice will help me get into the groove again.


What a voice! Loud and sweet. Sing to me!


I shouldn’t be able to see a Carolina Wren in this tree. The summer has sucked the life from it... It's been so harsh.


The green gems are still plentiful and active. Please stay for a while longer?

Now, I'll find a jacket, pull up some sweat pants and check on the pond fish. I can breathe again. The refreshment is almost too much to handle. I want to sleep for twelve hours or more.