Saturday, March 23, 2019

The English Primrose. . . . . . . .

Being English 'born and bred' as they used to say - maybe some still do - I'm a 
wild primrose gal. 
When the primroses bloomed we knew it would soon be goodbye to winter.
Later, perhaps a memoir will be in order describing how we children gathered 
these lovely spring flowers from the rolling Devon hillsides - yes I definitely
look forward to writing that one.

My lovely, and very special friend Mary Ann, called Wednesday to say she was
 on her way, and bringing a little something! 
Within twenty minutes she was walking across the lawn carrying this beautiful
 spring display in a perfect for me pot. . . . . . . and I was just thrilled to bits. 
It's so beautiful and brings spring into the cottage. Planted with delicate ferns and 
yes, a perfect yellow primrose, it immediately made me somewhat homesick for
 an English spring!
Thank you again dear Mary Ann for planting up such loveliness - you always know
 how to pick the perfect gift for me and I'm so glad we are friends.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Viewpoint. . . . . hot and cold!

I'm useless when it comes to taking selfies. 
Perhaps having my phone in a leather case makes it more difficult. 
But I love my case, especially when I drop my phone!  
Anyway, I really dislike photos of myself at this age so don't take many,
 plus I usually dodge other people coming at me with a camera.

These I took on Monday killing time whilst waiting for a salesman to arrive
 to talk about replacing our HVAC system. Our house, built in 1985, is aging
 too and things need to be updated. One comes to a point where a quick fix
 is no longer going to work. Heat breaking down on a freezing winter 
day + air conditioning dying during a heatwave = stress and discomfort.
Like most people in this modern age, we've been spoiled. Technology
has, with all its faults, at least made daily living in whatever climate 
ones inhabits, much more comfortable when regulation of the temperature
is possible.

So three salesman have come this week, all very nice and very different.
 Several estimates for this big, costly job are needed, mostly just out of curiosity
 as to the differences in cost for the same job and equipment, and of course
 the guaranteed work of the company and its installers. We've heard horror
 stories from people being ripped off in many ways with pricing and poor
 workmanship when it comes to these types of home improvements.

We did our homework ahead of time.
Hopefully we'll find the best company with a fair price and can get moving
 with the work whilst the weather, and the attic, stay cool.
A mess ahead? Of course! Spring cleaning may be put on hold!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wild beauty---------------------

Our large fig tree, and the bird bath beneath its now budding branches, is a haven
for so many garden visitors. Squirrels chase one another through the branches and
eat at the suet feeder (the seed feeder being squirrel-proof - they know it by now
 so rarely try!). A herd of white-tailed deer, despite their silent loveliness standing
 on the lawn at dusk and dawn, now come at night. They are unwelcome visitors
 at the feeders, and now are chewing on the bright green shield-shaped leaves
 of the bluebell clumps pushing up under the tree.  

Yesterday, under chilly, overcast skies, and prior to a nice light rain falling to
 water the garden, I took these photos of just a few of the many birds visiting.
All but a pair of Brown-headed cowbirds, and a pair of European starlings, are
birds which frequent the garden constantly - but I never tire of trying to get a
 perfect photo showing off their beautiful colors, feathers and expressions.

Female Northern flicker 

Male Eastern bluebird 

Male Brown-headed cowbird

Female Northern cardinal

Male Northern cardinal

Male or Female European starling 

Male House finch

Female American robin

Hope you enjoy 'my birds'.
Who's flying in your garden these days?
Are you waking to birdsong now that spring is here?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I'll spin you a tale . . . . . . . . . .

Waiting tables and the Quiet American. . . . . . . . . . 

She was busy taking orders, placing them with the kitchen, carrying trays piled with plates, and her feet hurt. Working two jobs was hard going but when you're eighteen you should be able to do it. Youth, good health, boundless energy, and of course your dreams, are all on your side. She had worked on Saturdays in a dairy shop on the main street while in secretarial college. She loved that job as many tourists popped in to order the real Devon Clotted Cream to mail back home to family and friends. She enjoyed hearing where they were from and why they had picked the west country for their holiday. She longed to see the world for herself. For a short time she served in a small tea room on Sunday afternoons. There she had to dress like a real waitress in a black dress, stockings with the required 'sensible shoes', and a white frilly apron, the clientele were often uppity and the tips not great.  She even served 'American' hot dogs from a tiny 'hole in the wall' on the harbor for a few weekends, and hated riding home on the bus her clothes and hair smelling of grease. She needed the money to follow her dream.

Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon - Painted for me many years ago from a post card by a friend in Maine.

Her last job waiting tables was in a small restaurant near the top of the main street. Away from the busy seafront and beaches, but popular with holidaymakers staying in nearby large hotels. She recalls him well. Tall, slim, with an American accent. He ordered the big plate of spaghetti with meatballs. She told him waitressing was not her real job, she worked as a shorthand-typist in the office of an insurance company down by the harbor. She was making plans to go to Washington, D.C. to work for a year then come back with money and marry her boyfriend. He smiled, wished her luck, told her she'd enjoy working in America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .and tucked a ten pound note into her hand as he left the restaurant. It was the biggest tip she ever received.

The beginning of a short story?  
Perhaps an entire book?  
Or one of many memoirs for family in the years ahead when
 she is no longer here to share oral history. . . . . . 

Now and then I hope to bring you more memoirs of growing up
in Devon, England during the 1940's, '50's and early 60's before I emigrated 
to the USA

Sunday, March 17, 2019

St. Patrick's Day, cityscape, and the daffodil trail. . . . . . .

Yesterday, Saturday. . . . . . . . . up early and off downtown for the annual
Raleigh St. Patrick's Day Parade. 
Fun for an hour or so then the chilly breeze encouraged us to get moving. 
We headed up to the former Dorothea Dix Hospital grounds where I once
 worked, now a park overlooking the the city skyline, to view this year's hello to
This planting of 50,000 daffodils was done by a piece of machinery which digs,
 plants the bulbs, covers and tamps the soil back - I could use one of those!
The winding trail is really breathtaking. The golden blooms dance in the
 brisk breeze . . . . . . perhaps not quite William Wordsworth's view along the shore
 of Ullswater in 1802 as he walked with his sister, but certainly brings his poem
'I wandered lonely as a Cloud' to mind.

A fine day to walk and watch a parade. . . . . . . . . here are some glimpses of the
 morning when everyone suddenly becomes Irish.
Many special people to thank - musicians, dancers, bands, many whom traveled
 some distance to bring us great music (especially the All American Band
 of the 82nd Airborne from Fort Bragg, NC). After all, what's parade without bands.
The dogs were amazing, so many breeds trotting along the parade route, including
 the huge, calm and dignified  Irish Wolfhounds. . . . . . . .along with so many fun
 people of all ages who turned out for this lovely morning.

Erin go Bragh - and a happy day to you all.

Friday, March 15, 2019


 Gunpowder tea is a form of Chinese tea in which each leaf has been rolled
into a small round pellet. Its English name comes from its resemblance
 to grains of gunpowder. This rolling method of shaping tea is most often
 applied either to dried green tea or oolong tea. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . and this particular blend was absolutely lovely.
Not overpowering or too strong, not sweet, just flavorful and smooth.

Tea in a big fat mug rather than a teacup. Why not. 
Gunpowder is hardly dainty!

Wellies Mug and Crane Plate - Anthropologie

~ Written on the bottom of the pretty plate ~

~ Traits of the Crane ~

How lovely is that!
A special tea time this afternoon as the rain falls.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Wake up, it's almost gardening time!

Yesterday, in warm sunshine, I spent some enjoyable time at my favorite
Raleigh garden center. 
Located in a former small railway station on the outskirts of downtown
 it never ceases to disappoint.  In fact I was almost overwhelmed at all
 that was displayed this early in the year, a veritable feast for both the
 eyes and the senses!

Employees were scurrying around unloading plants and setting them out.
Handsome garden furniture was being unwrapped ready for seating displays,
and the little café was humming with late lunch customers, some dining outside
on a perfect day - as long as you remembered a sweater or jacket!

There were a few of these gentle reminder signs (above), especially around the
 vegetables and hanging ferns. I'll buy mine later as it's not really spring yet . . . 
. . . in fact we may get more freezing nights in the coming week.

Shelves were neatly stocked with interesting and useful garden items, 
all so clean and shiny.

Garden centers aways attract birds of course and this Mockingbird was happily
 singing one of the many songs in his repertoire. . . . . . .between berry nibbling
 in a huge holly tree.

It was hard not to load up a wagon with beautiful plants, pots and such.
  I will do that another day!
Purchased fertilizer for my shrubs and soil acidifier to keep my hydrangeas blue,
several packets of seeds, basil, parsley, morning glories, alyssum, and those 
gorgeous sky-high sunflowers which hopefully will brighten up the garden come
summer, and then feed the birds and naughty squirrels!

Also bought a new 'welcome flag' to hang at the front entrance, it's pretty and
 perfect, I'll share later after I take down the green shamrock flag hanging now
 for St. Patrick's Day.
We then stopped at Home Depot and purchased a new patio umbrella to replace
 the one destroyed by the heavy snow/ice storm just prior to last Christmas.

Bob is heading into the garden right now to do the first cut of the front lawn 
with his recently serviced mower. He's actually smiling knowing it will be his
 exercise for today! The grass is very thick and green and needs attention
 before tomorrow's possible storms. The sun is out and temperature
 should hit a high of 74F this afternoon, perfect!

Anyway, just sharing these colorful glimpses from my area - those of you still
shoveling snow need some reminders perhaps that spring is definitely 
going to head your way soon. I hear the mower running, all is well in our 
little patch on the planet.
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Promise of a new day. . . . . . .

The sunrise can be beautiful but fleeting.
Here in the garden I was just in time to take a 
photo of this female Cardinal in the fig tree
this morning. . . . . . . the sun illuminating her 
feathers and turning them to gold.

One more quick snap and I caught the magnolia 
in the early sunlight. . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . and the first of the tulips not yet eaten by visiting deer!!!
I have a feeling my tulips may disappoint this year.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Snippets of life as we await Spring. . . . . . .

Hope your day is full of happy moments.

The Jacket. . . . . . . .

After the recent post about skirts, it only seemed right to start thinking about jackets.
Heavier, longer coats will soon be stored - sad for me a true coat lover - and with
 often still cool days coming during the weeks of springtime, a jacket of some type
 may be required to fend off those chilly breezes.  

My favorites include these traditional styles. The tummy/hip covering straight cut,
 blazer-style jacket. Whether single or, for me being tall, double-breasted, this
 is a classic. Always comfortable, flattering, and great with a tailored trouser or skirts,
  even jogger type bottoms for a more casual, everyday look. . . . . but forget the 
heels, for me a leather sneaker, tasselled loafer or laced up oxford definitely!
 Worn over a tailored shirt, softer blouse, lightweight sweaters, even a tee shirt, this
style jacket can take you anywhere.

A black jacket, also in a classic cut and perhaps a little more fitted if being worn for 
evening, especially with a tuxedo trouser, is a useful jacket to have at the ready for
many occasions. Worn with either a tailored trouser or skirt it's a go-to formal outfit
 for those lesser welcomed but inevitable times in life. It can also be worn with
 everyday pants in any color, and even jeans for a casual look.

What about leather jackets? Do you have one?  
Mine is a similar style one to this red one - which is actually faux leather from Zara. 
This 'fabric' has come a long way, is made of polyester and is actually
 machine washable, amazing!  Often hard to tell from the real thing, this is perhaps
 the answer if you tend to shy away from wearing real leather.
My own real leather jacket is black, collarless which is less bulky and doesn't have
 the motorcycle look, and is perfect to show off that scarf collection we all have, right?
  Love this red with the black pinstripe trouser, and of course it will easily go with
 formal or casual bottoms.

All jackets from Zara

For many gals the basic casual look always comes back to the 
denim jean jacket. Personally I do not and have never owned one!
Although I'll don a blue jean now and then (but have never found 
the 'perfect' comfortable pair so they go to the thrift shop often), this style 
is just not me. 

Will you be shopping for a jacket this spring?  
My closet is pretty full - and yes I have been working on downsizing - so I may skip
 another jacket this coming season.
As for those coats I mentioned, I do have one I will wear even after the heavy
ones are stashed in their moth-proof bags and pushed to the back of the closet.
It's my Eileen Fisher linen 'duster' coat. . . . . . grey linen, loose cut with a shawl collar,
big sleeves I can roll up, back kick slit. I love throwing on this coat with pants or a
midi skirt. Add a cross body bag, stick my hands in the deep pockets and off I go.

Here in the southeast we usually have hot weather come April so jackets are not 
often required in springtime. This year may be different though with the dreadful 
weather we've had recently . . . . . . . . we seem to be wearing rain jackets mostly.
That's another fashion story perhaps!

Wishing you a great week.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A lakeside hike. . . . . .

Yesterday . . . . . . . warm, humid, overcast.
Not a sunbeam visible.
Predicted rain didn't fall but walking near water was sticky
ending up with damp clothes and frizzed up hair.
Walkers were out in force, dogs of every breed trotted along,
babies in strollers, toddlers on bikes with training wheels,
teenagers with phones and ear buds, taking selfies, runners, 
dawdlers. Lightweight jackets, Lycra legs, snazzy sneakers,
 all shapes, sizes, ages.

Late Sunday afternoon. Two and a half miles on foot around the 
grey languid lake, alongside a husband, chatting with a daughter. 
Crossing a few sturdy wood bridges beneath still leafless trees, 
nary a sign of spring above or below. A few ducks resting in the mud,
 Canada geese preening, a group of Greater White-fronted geese
 posing, a single heron in the distance. Lines of snapping turtles lay 
on floating logs, a few squirrels dashed up and down the trees.

It was exercise. It was fresh air and a way to see nature in the 
remaining throes of winter. Now it will start to change and I plan
 to go back when the trees leaf out in new green, and birds
 will be building nests. The sun will glitter on the water and
 change the sky to brilliant Carolina blue.
Those beautiful days are on the way.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Hanging in there......................

Brrrr, it has been cold!
A few extremely chilly nights have passed, now we should return to
 warmer days. I see no more sub-freezing night temps heading this way. 
Floating bed sheets and tablecloths over the hydrangea bushes is over.
Perhaps spring is truly on the way here in the southeast.

These mama squirrels will be happy up their trees.  Busy for sure raising
 the babies we know are now tucked in those nests in the tops of the oaks.

Tails certainly come in handy for balancing acts - and always
 seem at their bushiness at this time of year. 
Perhaps they became snug blankets for the naked babies on
 those recent cold nights - just a thought!

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