Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Arriving in Arizona. . . . . .

Arriving in Tucson to bright sunshine, the drive south to the
 town of Sierra Vista certainly presented some very lovely vistas.
It's the desert though. It would have to do much more to entice me,
 an English gal from the land of cool, damp, rain, to stay very long! 
Family are here and have been for many years. 
We've been before but it has been some time, especially for me.
Thanksgiving Day will be special as there are several new 
family members to meet.

Giving thanks.
Hope you will be with your families and friends.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Front Porch Café. . . . . . . . . . .

Over the weekend we put out some extra birdseed on the railing of the front porch.
 Our garden birds had returned in small flocks and attacked the feeders - voracious
 appetites meant fighting for perches. The now bare fig tree was often full of birds
awaiting their turn at the feeders - some have good manners apparently, others
push and shove!

And then there are these guys!  Definitely happy when they discover in no time
 another café to have breakfast, and gobble they did. . . . . . along with a few birds,
such as this House finch pair who managed to grab a few seeds too.

We watched a marvelous NOVA 'Nature' TV program at the weekend titled
 "A Squirrel's Guide to Success."  It was awesome and I learned a lot more about
 these creatures who are SO smart!  If you have a chance to view that program on
 your PBS station, go for it, it's great!

I swear squirrels smile when happy. They can be very naughty digging out bulbs
and eating blooms, but you have to admit they can be cute when not misbehaving!
We have squirrel-proof bird feeders they cannot eat from - expensive
but seem to work well. 

Do you have these little guys in your garden?

We're off to spend Thanksgiving in Arizona so, just in case I don't
get back online for a while, we send our best wishes to each of you
for a wonderful holiday celebration.  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cardinals never leave. . . . . . . .

Northern cardinal : Cardinalis cardinalis

The name comes from the LATIN word cardinalis which 
means 'important.'

The sweet, pale-feathered female cardinal is a very familiar backyard bird.
 Along with many bright red males usually close by, they are non-migrators.
 They are extremely territorial in springtime, however become non-territorial
 during winter and gather in small flocks of up to 20 birds. 
We enjoy their visits to our feeders and bird baths, and the now bare fig tree
 is a favorite perch as they go about their day come rain or shine.

 Male Northern cardinal.

I managed to get photos from the window of Mrs. Cardinal yesterday, and
 brilliant red Mr. Cardinal today, when the rain stopped for a while. 
Everywhere is saturated and today yet another storm continues to
 bring nonstop rain for the entire day.

Garden - November 2018

Much of autumn still clings to wet branches.
 While all around the air turns brisk and damp.
 Winter stirs in the heart and mind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Scribble Picnic - Forest

I had another piece ready for today's theme however I just can't bring myself to post it!
I took a photo of a forested area and worked on it with my watercolor pencils etc.,
but it reminded me too much of the devastating fire scenes sweeping through
 California yet again, with the clouds looking more like billowing smoke, and the
 autumn leaves brown, crinkly and burnt looking. . . . .not a peaceful forest scene.

Instead, this is a photo of a 'forest floor' scene taken in my back garden - which 
I must admit these days is resembling a woodland on its way to becoming a forest!
There are golden toadstools, green and gold fallen oak leaves, acorns etc. Worked 
some with watercolor pencils. . . . .but perhaps it's best just left unfinished.

Today's theme is FOREST.  It will be interesting to see what everyone comes
 up with this time. 
Head over to Michael's SCRIBBLE PICNIC later today.

Sending happy Thanksgiving Day wishes to all. 
I will be visiting family in Arizona for a week and am hoping to get
 photos to share later. It's been a while since I was in the desert!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Happiness. . . . .

The lovely bluebirds have returned to the garden this morning bringing a
spark of proverbial happiness.
 Just one pair so far, perhaps the same ones who nested in the birdhouse
 last year, or perhaps their offspring.  

The rain fell in torrents most of yesterday and all through the night, flooding 
the garden yet again. A shower this morning with constant rain expected
soon and continuing through the remainder of today, and through this week,
means we are saturated and flash flood warnings are out.

Last evening we drove through the heavy rain to eat at a nice restaurant 
which annually supports our beloved veterans. They give a free meal to 
 veterans, of which Bob is one, and he always enjoys a steak, something
 I rarely prepare in my usually non-meat kitchen!
We don't go just for a free meal, we go for the atmosphere of camaraderie
between the diners, many introducing themselves to each other and stating 
where and when they served their country, often in wars on far off shores.

I need a little happiness this week. 
A lovely member of my family in the UK passed away unexpectedly and the 
sadness for his family is overwhelming I'm certain. 
At times such as this I feel so far away from where I want to be.

The continuing California wildfires are just devastating and my
 heart goes out to all who live in those areas. 

The fig tree is now bare, the maple behind it still has clinging leaves now 
changing color. Some trees are still quite green, others are dropping leaves
 and raking will begin soon. In late winter we will have to prune the fig which has
grown by leaps and bounds and is much too big! 

We will be away for an extended Thanksgiving Day trip this year.
That, along with computer problems, may mean I will not be posting 
regularly. Quite honestly I'm finding blogging exhausting lately and, 
once again, apologize for being lax in commenting.
Hopefully with new computers (although I dread having to learn new
technical stuff which I'm certain will come with them), and after a
change of scenery and time with our quite large family in Arizona,
I will be inspired and can keep going.
I care about you all so much and don't want to lose touch - you are 
my best friends and bring me such a lot of day to day happiness!

The bluebird carries the sky on his back - Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Point Roberts - Living on the edge.

We are having computer problems.  
Seems both of our Macs how have aged out - both being almost 8 years old.
 Bob's desktop died last week but served him well with never a repair required.

My MacBook Air is experiencing death throes and hopefully will survive a bit
 longer - we're both using it now - while we await the delivery of new machines. 
You will know, if you've followed my blog for a while, the Air has traveled
 with me literally 'to the ends of the earth' (Antarctica), and to all seven 
continents, surviving thousands of air miles, rough seas, expedition ships,
 ocean liners, riverboats, African safaris, numerous islands scattered across
 the great oceans, and temperatures from below freezing to hotter than hell. 
 All ever needed to keep it going was a replacement battery about 18 months
 ago. We could possibly extend the lives of both machines with new hard drives
 and assorted hardware odds and ends, but neither would last long as they
 are now obsolete models. . . . . . . . .so we're treating ourselves to early
 Christmas presents this year.

I'm now moving most of my photos to portable storage to allow
 easier transfer of everything else from my old to new MacBook. 
Just writing this post is driving me crazy - things jumping, disappearing,
going haywire, mini crashes. So I'm just quickly sharing these photos
 I took whilst on a quick side trip to Point Roberts, Washington in late
 September prior to storing them away for posterity!

Point Roberts has an very unusual history, if interested you can read about it 
HERE. It's necessary to cross the international boundary between Canada and 
the United States to enter this tiny but scenic place where time seems to 
stand still.

Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, November 9, 2018

New fashion for cooler days and nights. . .

Have you noticed many of the new autumn/winter coats being shown are
 definitely cuddly and have that warm 'teddy bear' look?

When our local temperatures here in central North Carolina plummet 
Saturday night - our first below freezing one this season - I think I might
enjoy pulling on a soft, curly overcoat. . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . or slip on a jacket like this for a dinner out, a night on the town, or one
of those upcoming holiday party dates now starting to fill up our social calendars!

I must admit that these new modern fabrics never cease to amaze. 
Growing up in pre-polyester days, clothes/fabrics this good looking and comfortable
 were never available.  Heavy wool coats protected us from the cold, gabardine 
mackintoshes from the rain. . . . . . . . autumn and winter outdoor activities were
cumbersome, there were always damp clothes hanging up to dry out.
Today's lighter, easy to care for fabrics are so different and much more fun!

Here's to a cozy winter ahead.

All fashions available at ZARA.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Eastgate Park is looking Autumnal. . . . . . .

. . . . . . at long last!  

We had almost given up on a colorful neighborhood walk this Fall.
 Nothing seemed to be changing in the canopy of dreary, shriveling green leaves,
 (other than a zillion acorns falling on the roof, the garden, our heads!), although
 we're well on our way into November. . . . . . . and December isn't far off, but
 don't let's go there quite yet!

So, after the Saturday hustle and bustle of an afternoon in the city, I insisted
 we take a Sunday mid-afternoon walk around our little neighborhood city park
 to celebrate the return to earlier dusk and darkness that comes with 'daylight
 saving time' . . . . . which, by the way, I love.
 Lighting candles earlier, cooking and dining with the garden clothed in deep blues 
outside the windows, brings a whole new feeling to these pre-winter days.

The pond was quite busy with Canada geese doing their usual thing - not much -
but soon came swimming toward us, hoping for food, which the signs say we
 cannot offer now.

"Sorry sweet children, we can no longer take a bag of snacks and have fun
 feeding the geese and ducks as we did in former generations". 

So, what are your thoughts on that? Are our toddlers poisoning the millions of 
geese who no longer fly back to Canada by tossing them a few stale bread crumbs?
Are childhood memories no longer going to include a fun pond visit on a sunny 
afternoon with mom and dad or the grandparents?

The quiet swimming of the birds did help in moving the still water and
presenting some lovely reflections of the trees

It was a warm afternoon requiring just a light sweater, plus good footwear 
to clamber through a section of woods which we hadn't visited before.
  Breathing in the fresh air Autumn air, peering up at the Carolina Blue sky,
I was grateful that Nature had once again come through with palette and
paintbrushes. In the noise and busyness of modern day life there are still
 some things we can rely on thank goodness.

If in the northern hemisphere, were you able to get out this past weekend
 and enjoy some colorful Autumn scenery? I hope so.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Riding the rails. . . . . . .and a new station!

Below are the words we heard last year, and yes they have now come true.
Yesterday, on a beautiful cloudless blue sky, gentle breeze, 
wear-a-sweater Autumn afternoon, we at last paid a visit to check out
 our brand new train/transportation station in the heart of the city. . . . . and
 quite honestly we were blown away!

'Today (in 2017) it's a gravel-filled construction site.
But this time next year? Expect something amazing at Raleigh's
 new Union Station, says the project engineer.'

Raleigh Union Station is completed and open for business - at least for
AMTRAK train service. Bus traffic and hopefully light rail will be added later.

We had such a fun time exploring the station as well as conversing with 
other Saturday visitors on the outdoor observation deck - we do love to
 meet and chat with interesting people. 
There was a dad with his young son who longs to ride trains;
a Brazilian couple our age who moved here 25 years ago; a very 
nice Jordanian gentleman who came to the US many years back and
 owns a business with his family here; a young couple with a beautiful 
7 month baby boy who were good listeners, despite us being older than
their grandparents!
All in all it was a busy visit. 

I loved that the architect has taken what was a huge ironworks company
 supply warehouse, built in the 1940's, renovated and expanded it, but
kept many of the original elements incorporating them into the new
contemporary construction.

The station timepiece hanging from a vintage ironworks gantry.

'Raleigh Union Station fits within efforts to support the expansion of mass transit
 options in North Carolina's central region. Raleigh is a rapidly growing city, and
 with that comes a need for transportation facilities to meet current and future
 transit demands. 
Raleigh Union Station will not only serve Amtrak passengers, but also 
act as a multi-model transit center connecting riders to other forms of transit. 
Offering this level of service will address congestion and land development
 concerns, while also providing a transportation hub that will continue to 
revitalize Downtown Raleigh and its Warehouse District.'

'The station retains elements of the old steel warehouse, including the massive steel pillars and ceiling beams in the main hall. Two gantries overhead that used to move steel around the building are fixed in place, as is the big sliding steel door on the back wall. The walkway leading to and from the train platform is lined with rusted steel plates salvaged from the warehouse.'

All photos via iPhone

Hope you had a great weekend too.  
We actually started out just to take Bob's desktop computer to the repair
 shop - it crashed yesterday morning as, like us, it's showing it's age I fear!  

The ride through downtown became a "let's find a parking place and take a
 walk around" mini sightseeing tour!  It's years since we both worked downtown
 and the many changes always bring surprises, some good, others bad.
 We must say however time definitely doesn't stand still. . . . . . the entire
 cityscape is an ongoing project.

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