Friday, June 27, 2008

I'll Miss You, Sister

We're never prepared to lose a loved one. Especially in an instant.
My brother's wife died in an automobile accident last night in Maryland. She was alone. Perhaps she was sleepy.
My Sister-in-Law.
First, shock.
Then, grief.
This is what I do when grief strikes me. I write.
Still processing.
Kris is the wife of my only sibling, Victor, since 1983
and the Mother of five good children, ages eight to twenty-four
- late Andrew, little Joey, Annie, Jordan, and Victor, Jr.,
daughter of Irene and Guy,
a friend to everyone,
and a best friend of my late Mom and my Dad.
Kris is also a joyous, new grandmother-to-be.
I can't stop thinking about my brother and his kids, but I also mourn for Irene and Guy and other parents who lose their children. It is not natural. It is not right.
Kris called my daughter last night and they chatted for the first time in a few months - just a few hours before her death.
She is a spiritual, funny, and giving person who sometimes loved and cared too much.
Kris, 1958 - 2008
Kris, we've lived through highs and lows together for a long time. We understood. I know you know I've always loved ya like a sister.
Let Jesus wrap his arms around you.
Hug Mom for me?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A new home. Welcome!


I like it. Changing templates all week was fun, draining, and irritating. Last night I finally learned how to add page elements. Always in a hurry in the evenings, I just couldn’t figure it out, swearing, “It…can’t…be…that…difficult.”. There’s more work to do, like browsing through a few thousand photos and choosing a few I’d like to add to my sidebar when I have a few minutes to spare.

My photos tell a week-long story, if you have a minute or two.


We visited the vet today. If our little mighty wad of muscle, Bella, would slow down a bit, she might not have hurt her back or injured her knee months ago. Her decision was to stop running and playing on Tuesday evening. Gasp. Giving up chasing hula-hoops and balls is the equivalent of giving up food when you are speaking of Boston Terriers. Prescription: muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs for a week. No running or playing. Joke. After a dose of each, she’s on the mend.



Best Bird Photo of the Week

Honorable Mention

We had two inches of rain last Saturday night.


Fire in the sky.

A much needed tropical depression for a few days would keep me inside. I'd tend to indoors or shave my legs, et al ;-) and allow time to read great blogs I’m missing. Perhaps I'd finish some novels on my nightstand that collect dust. The sun is relentless and clouds are rare.


The two-hour storm didn’t help. When I notice the leaves of the birch trees drift downwards on a still evening, my conscience always takes me to Cedar Rapids. That’s when I feel helpless. God Bless them.


I don’t care about the grass. If I were rich? I’d dig up the entire backyard and add more water features, garden paths, flowers, and trees. I can see it in my mind. Beautiful. But only with rain. A large swimming pool to float in for a while before preparing dinner would be nice, too. If I had acreage, I’d have a prairie like Susan’s. For now, we have room for the dogs to run and burn their soft pads on crusty soil.

Signing off for a few days,

Sun-baked in NC

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Great Days and Little Dogs


I thought they’d never surface!

This beautiful black background and template has to go. My medium-sized Flickr photos are cut off center and my archives are too dark to read. Now I’m looking for a wider template (Blogger options stink) and one that will suit my header photo. When I took that Skipper photo last year, I knew it would be good for something. During my spare hour in the evenings, I’ll be trying on new templates for size. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate all of them.

A case of the blahs for a few days had hold of me and on the way home from work yesterday I realized I hadn’t taken a decent photo in a few days. And I sighed. I put my car in park at the end of the driveway to get the mail and heard a Robin, loudly, clearly, and close by. Did someone above hear me whine?


And there she was, just a few feet away, sitting pretty in a Crepe Myrtle tree


singing her little heart out and unaffected by my presence. I believe I could have reached out and touched her. Not really.

And that’s not all. My mood lightened throughout the evening.


Wanting to fall to my knees when I saw a Chickadee visit for the first time since early May, I soon became suspicious of my good fortune when a Carolina Wren danced on my back deck rail. Wow. It’s been so long…


Hummingbird activity is slow. But, a little female posed for a nanosecond. For me? Wow.


First Buckeye! Is it a Buckeye?


Bella: Chloe, w-w-we have a waccoon!
Chloe: Will you be quiet and let me concentrate?


Every day I watch them doing what they know how to do which isn’t much. They’re on the trail of a raccoon that tipped their water dish on the back deck which put them in a high alert investigative mode. They know something isn’t right, I'll give them that.


Often, I observe them watch the world go by and wonder what they think of it. Uncomplicated lives they lead, spending the day watching Good Morning America and soap operas. When Oprah airs, they are waiting for me to walk through the door at 4pm. Small, innocent souls. Two minuscule specks on earth. Inexperienced. Sheltered. Dependent. And I realize just how insignificant their lives are in this big old world.

I always walk away and breathe deeply, knowing just how significant they truly are. Big. Huge. For us.

Hug your pet today.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Work in Progress


6:47 a.m. on Friday. Had to stop the car before leaving my community.

Have you ever been so bored with the appearance of your blog that you dream of a new template at night? For over a year and a half, I finally got sick and tired of looking at the same old Harbour at Mary’s View. With fear and trembling I customized my blog this morning. It only took a few minutes! With one click, “save your template”, POOF! The old Mary’s View vanished. Eeeks. I thought I could change the post text color in my archives? :o/

It’s still here, all 350+ posts of mine - a large hunk of my life has been saved. Whew. Blogger still scares me. This may be the first time I thanked Blogger for anything.

I’m so giddy with excitement right now that I can’t come up with a story or decent writing about much so here are a few photos I’ve taken lately. None of these make my heart swell so I’m considering this a test.

Beetles munch during a drought. How wonderful.

Crappy shot of a Green Heron, I know, but it’s a bird I don’t often see…


Algae-covered ducks. I wonder if they realize their pond is evaporating inches a day.

I have a very cute boyfriend on the side. We stalk each other but I know he has his eyes fixed on other ladies.

A funky tune by David Lee Roth comes to mind:

Just a gigolo
everywhere I go
people know the part I'm playing

He looks so lonely!

I ain't got nobody,
nobody, nobody cares for me
Nobody, nobody I'm so sad and lonely,
sad and lonely,
sad and lonely,
Won't some sweet mama come and take a chance with me
cause I aint so bad


Get along with me babe,
been singin love songs
all of the time
Even only be, honey only, only be
Bop bozadee bozadee
zitty bop


I.... ain't got nobody
'cept love songs in love
Hummala bebhuhla zeebuhla boobuhla hummala bebhuhla zeebuhla bop

So, folks. You might not hear from me often during the next week or so. I’ll be agonizing about changing my header, title description, and choosing photos for my sidebar. I think I’m in edit/layout heaven. Whoot! This blog might have an entirely different look in a week!

I’ll be with you...promise.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thinking of fuel, working conditions, and backyard delights


Koi were circling like sharks in search of food last night.

What a difference ten degrees makes. We’re having a cool spell for a few days! Breathing is easy and I'm loving it.


So I fed them. For the first time in two or three weeks (I've lost count)the water temp dropped below 90. They propel their slippery selves up and out of the water when I arrive. A few of them are nearly a foot in length (dinner for two?).

Half of my flat of Snapdragons were finally planted last night when I enjoyed the warm sun, cool breeze. I ran out of potting soil and swore I’d not be lazy and buy just one bag of potting soil again. Next time I’ll buy ten although it doesn’t look like I’ll be planting anything until next spring. Our soil is only a bit softer than concrete.

Walked around campus for the first time in over a month and was excited to see the Rose of Sharon in bloom. I lost track of time watching a few hundred bumble bees floating from flower to flower.


Our director at work has encouraged us to work at home a day or two a week so save on our fuel costs. So far, I’m proud to say I have worked from home twice this month and actually accomplished “work” instead of gawking at the outdoors, nose pressed against the windows.


Fuel prices are affecting everything we do. College students are not attending classes as many of them live two counties away. Enrollment is dropping. News flash: The College is now proposing a four-day work week for all students and employees beginning spring semester 09. Classes will run Monday through Thursday but I think this change will be a scheduling nightmare. The college would realize significant energy savings by closing its doors three days a week. I’ve heard large corporations are already on a similar schedule.


Feeling the cool early summer morning and zooming in and out on the bees, I thought about the four-day work week schedule. Having off on Fridays will be great.


I’ve always desired a job with three-day weekends but I’ve never wanted to work four tens. Sometimes I work nine hours and go home whipped. Heck, I’m whipped every day.


After four tens, I’d need to spend half of Friday in bed.


It’s perfect to be home from work between 4:00 and 4:30 p.m., in daylight, as I have been doing for the last twenty-plus years. This is what scares me about the big four-tens:

During fall and winter months when the days are short, will I need to patrol for doggie poop in the dark?

Fill the bird feeders in the dark? Go four days straight without seeing backyard birds? There will be no time for blogging. Wow. I don’t know about this…

Why can’t they just give us the day off if we promise to get our work done, dammit? Research reveals that productivity plummets during the last two hours of an eight-hour workday so why add two more?

What a hopeless, pathetic dreamer I am.


The grackles have been offered safflower seed. Gee, I hope they spit it out! Only niger and safflower seeds are offered now. No nuts, suet, or other treats. The clean-up crew shown above seems happy.

I sat near the pond with spade, potting soil, and camera. The view was glorious!



Be still, please!


Have a great weekend, ya'll :o)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

School's Out so Watch Out


This is not my house. I saw this in my community on the way to work this morning. Whether it’s a prank from a bunch of good or bad kids or a gesture of friendship, I don’t know. What if, by freak of nature, we had a rain shower last night? Wet, spongy Charmin glued to my front porch wouldn’t make me happy. No, I don’t think it’s funny at all. I learned from a police officer friend that it's common in North Carolina to have your house rolled this time of year and sometimes it’s a gesture of friendship. A sign that someone really likes you? What???

We lived in Delaware for three years before moving to North Carolina and when school was out, our mailboxes were destroyed in the middle of the night or our mail was carried to an address on an adjacent street. A crime. Do you remember an ad on TV, “It’s 11:00 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” Obviously there are plenty of parents who don’t.

This three-week long heat wave is making me cranky so I’ll lighten up and show some photos.

These blooms are the best I have. Believe me, there’s stress on garden life here. Not pretty.



This rose bush needs deadheading enough to reduce its size in half. We’re supposed to have a cool down this week so I’ll work on it and a few other outdoor chores I’ve been putting off.



There is Grackle or Starling poop splattered on the face of this sunflower growing under a feeder station so I made the best of it. Bunnies are nibbling them to the ground.


The bird situation is something else. I’m serving safflower tomorrow in hopes the gangsta birds will spit it out and leave. Last year, they acquired a taste for it but I didn’t have so many of them. Titmice, Cardinals, Brown Thrashers and Chipping Sparrows are constantly being bullied and I haven’t seen woodpeckers, Chickadees, or Carolina Wrens for weeks. I miss them. It’s been a depressing ordeal for me. I try not to look at the feeders often.


Overheated. Always arrives when it sees me, expecting suet, nuts, and grapes like the good old days.


Mourning Doves are slimming down.


They’re too skittish. I held my breath, tried to focus quickly and quietly without moving a limb, and this is what I got.


Lucky shot just before sundown. Thank goodness for photo editors!

Maybe in a couple of days I’ll rise from this gloom and return wearing a smile.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Poo on Designer Names

She had been eyeing up the Dooney & Bourke handbag Michael gave me for Christmas over a year ago. I gave it to her this winter. It was black so we ordered her a spring Dooney in ivory for her birthday last week. Now Gina’s in Dooney heaven. I just don’t get it. What’s all the fuss about? A handbag is functional. You scrape it, bang it, and it still carries your junk.

I’ve had several favorite handbags with bargain price tags. The one I loved the most I bought at Target five years ago for $16.99. It was comfortable on my shoulder as a perfect fit for me, and it was organized just the way I like it. Sadly, the strap got caught on a rack of my bottom desk drawer at work and I had to free it with scissors. I almost cried.

Yesterday she invited me to SouthPark Mall to look for shoes she needs for a wedding she’ll be attending in a few weeks. “Mom, you’ll love this mall.” (Yeah, right – I’ve heard about it.) Maybe I’m the only person in the Charlotte vicinity who hadn’t been to this exclusive mall, featuring stores like Neiman Marcus, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, Hermes, Burberry, and St. Johns Boutique. I like Ralph Lauren but I’ve never been to Neiman Marcus. I like nice things, but...


Valet parking is offered to customers in a shaded garage but we parked on the steaming hot deck near Nordstrom, another store I avoid.

We fondled diamonds at Tiffany’s. I thought my favorite ring, modest at less than 2 carats, would be almost affordable. With a huge belly laugh on the way out of the store, Gina told me the price was $41,000. Ok. I’ll put in on my Christmas list. That’s obscene but the diamond was brilliant beyond words.


Here I am in the dressing room at Nordstrom standing on freshly vacuumed carpet and feeling sort of like a dandelion in a field of poppies. There were plenty of dandelions at the mall, just like me. A beautiful black lady played elegantly on a baby grand piano in the middle of the store. I wanted to take her picture. Gina, being self-conscious and not yet embracing the concept to live life like it’s your last day, live for the moment, or life is too short to hold back, worried that I might be arrested for stalking. Oh, but wouldn’t my arrest be blogworthy? Heyall yeah!

I drooled over an eight-inch tall tropical bird at Swarovski’s.

We found twenty-five thousand pairs of shoes at Dillards. They were all tempting and beautiful but those six-inch heels would put me face down on the concrete, maul my face real good, and cripple my ankles for the rest of my life. What? No Keds?


This mall didn’t showcase Hondas, Kias, Chevys, or Fords – only Mercedes, Audi, and Lexus. South Charlotte is wealthy. The Rite Aid nearby looks like a resort.

On our way out of the mall, Gina suggested we visit Bob Ellis, a store full of Gucci handbags and shoes. “Wow, Manolo Blahnik! Have you heard of these shoes? Feel this shoe, Mom.” She knows her designer names. “And look at these! Jimmy Choo! Oprah’s favorite!” Oprah can afford hundreds of pairs of seven hundred dollar shoes. I laughed out loud. I saw smiling women sitting on their shoe thrones trying on four hundred dollar pairs of strappy sandals. And I thought about the children in Charlotte who walk around barefoot out of necessity.

We didn’t visit Neiman Marcus. I’ll go back and visit, replaying a few scenes in the back of my mind from the movie Pretty Woman. There will be no obscene amount of money to spend, nor will there be major sucking up. Just me and my camera.

Leaving the parking lot on the way home, we laughed so hard. The shopping trip cost us a gallon or two of gasoline, an eleven dollar lunch at Showmars, and an undergarment for Gina. No shoes, yet. Next trip.

If I weren’t so tired of looking at fifty thousand pairs of shoes during a six mile walk, I’d have asked Gina if she would accompany me to Target. I have a twenty-five dollar gift card burning a hole in my wallet! Whoot!

Back home, back down to earth,


Dragonfly needed a little gentle grooming.


Good to go.