Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . .whatever floats your BOAT!

In Kenneth Grahame's Edwardian era children's book WIND IN THE WILLOWS,
 published in 1908, illustrated by Ernest H. Shepherd ~~~ Mole and Rat are rowing
 up the canal in Rat's boat. They are discussing nautical things and life in general
 when Rat is heard to utter ~~~

"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely 
nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about
in boats."

I've messed about in boats a lot!
From ocean going cruise ships to kayaks.
From river boats to ferries.
From ice breaking expedition ships to rubber Zodiac boats.
I've loved them all and in fact am getting ready to travel on 
another in early May - more on that trip later.

So why the very ordinary, somewhat plain wooden rowboat
for today's Scribble Picnic entry?
Well this could almost be one of the very first boats I ever sailed 
on as a child. Family friends took me mackerel fishing along the coast on
 a sunny English summer afternoon, long, long ago!
I still remember it to this day, and when I noticed this similar rowboat
 anchored in the calm harbor on a chilly December day last year while
 visiting home, so many memories came flooding back.
I turned my photo into a sketch - added color with watercolor pencils.

Hope you stop over at Michael's creative blog HERE today and view the boats
our little group of talented artists will be sharing at the Scribble Picnic.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

There goes the neighborhood!

       ~ I live on a farm. . . . . . .
       . . . . . . .well it was a farm once upon a time ~

We dug up a rusty tractor seat in the back garden years back, and of course you know how huge our aging oak trees are, towering 80 feet into the Carolina Blue sky. Old farmland, probably very green and beautiful, perched on the gently sloping hills beyond downtown.
Now it's a suburban neighborhood. It changed back in the mid-1960's thanks to - or perhaps no thanks because who likes to see farmland disappear - one of the world's largest and most well-known companies, IBM.

IBM - International Business Machines - "I've Been Moved" - call it what you will - moved a large section of its work force from New York State here to North Carolina and located them in the spiffy new Research Triangle Park (RTP), which is now one of the largest research parks in the world. Named for the three hub cities making up the triangle, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, or more correctly for the three major research universities in these three cities (NC State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), it has continued to expand beyond all imagination with many international companies' research and development facilities located here, but thankfully no heavy, air polluting manufacturing.

Those several thousand original IBM employees and their families needed houses. This former farm became prime land for several subdivisions planned to the north of the city of Raleigh. With close proximity to a high speed beltline which could get Raleigh residents to work in the RTP quickly, and a strip retail center along the major roadway providing suburban shopping, the newly named North Hills was ripe to grow. Home building began and has never ceased. The shopping center was converted to an enclosed mall in 1967, becoming the first two-story, air-conditioned, indoor mall between Washington D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia. It survived until the late 90's, then fell into disrepair and was sold in 2001, lock, stock and barrel, to a visionary developer who has turned this area into Raleigh's new 'Midtown' - nothing short of a first class destination.

At first we were upset, worried, concerned, thinking our little suburban enclave would crumble and fall. . . . . . . instead we now sit on a kind of 'promised land'.  We now have a fabulous 'village' within minutes of our doorstep. Still not complete, building is expected to continue for a few more years. Already in place are international and boutique hotels, major banking and international business headquarters, elegant apartments and condos in large, but thankfully attractive, hi-rise buildings, great shops and shopping, marvelous restaurants, cafes, breweries, cinema, bowling, indoor and outdoor exercise facilities, and entertainment venues with Summertime weekly music concerts, and a seasonal outdoor Farmers' Market. Currently an excellent retirement community of condos/assisted living/nursing care is under construction. . . . . . .and in our neighborhood we have valuable land under our houses that people want to buy!  

They are moving in, the folk who work in Midtown. They are young, many single, some married and starting families, all apparently making good money, there are great elementary and middle schools in this neighborhood, and they want to live close to where they work. However, thanks perhaps to HGTV, they don't want little brick ranches and such, they want to buy our houses, tear them down and build up as well as out - very nice spacious homes with the latest everything shown on TV or Pinterest. Hey, I don't blame them - if I was young I'd want the same.

Here you can see Midtown rising in the background - we are a little
 further away and can't see the buildings from our house.

Stylish new homes going up around us. This one above is at
the entrance to our street, the small 60's ranch having being knocked
 down, to the surprise of all the neighbors, one day in January.

This is our cottage today, awaiting leafing out trees and flowers for Spring color.
Bob did give the front lawn its first seasonal mow this week.
We've lived here 30 years. Before then we lived close by in townhouses for
 another 10 years when we moved south.
 We've seen and handled the many changes in this neighborhood which we love.
  It's strange that now, almost weekly, strangers and Realtors leave notes on the door or
 mail us offers to buy our home.
But we are staying for the present because, as much as I wouldn't mind a brand
 new, easier to manage one level condominium, without the many garden chores,
there is so much I would miss. The secluded back garden with the screened gazebo
 and potting shed, the big deck, the front porch, the birds, squirrels, rabbits, cats,
 even a fox now and then. . . . . and of course my many wonderful, caring neighbors, 
some of whom have lived here even longer than us.

My garden in Spring last year.
The neighborhood this week.


Below, more views from Midtown Raleigh.

Time moves on. Nothing ever stays the same but when changes come it makes
 a huge difference if one is happy with them. Just about everyone with whom I've
 discussed the development of Midtown appears to be in agreement that it is a
 job very well done in so many ways.

Do you live in the city or country?
Have you seen many changes in your neighborhood?
Are they good or bad?
I would love to hear about your neighborhood.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The world is my oyster!

Some friends know just what you like and what to gift you with. 
They shop at quaint little hidden places ~ antique and vintage ~ finding
things unknown to the high street shops and department stores. 

Some friends are so creative and artistic ~ give them a paint brush
and they wow you with a gift they've actually made for you. 
Thank you Jeannette ~ I will always treasure this gift along with
our friendship.

Isn't this the loveliest idea? Taking an oyster shell, cleaning it well, 
 painting a pearlized finish, trimming in soft gold, and implanting a
beautiful pearl.  
I truly love this and am keeping two of my special rings here -
my late mother's plain gold wedding band, and a gold ring with
 a sapphire, a gift from my dear English cousin Sue.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sympathies. . . . . . .

This week I have learned of the sudden deaths of several people. 
One is in my own family across the pond, my sister-in-law's mother, Audrey,
 a gentle and lovely lady whom I was fortunate enough to spend time with on
 several visits home to England over the years.
 Others are family members of blog friends. . . . . . . . all of whom I hold dear,
 and I am thinking of them all this morning.

The tiny Carolina wren on the front porch this bright Spring morning.

Grief never ends. . . . . . but it changes.
It is a passage, not a place to stay. 
Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. . . . . . 
It is the price of love.

~ Author Unknown ~

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . . the garden Fairy

Do you believe in fairies?  Of course you do.
Somewhere out there in my secret garden, behind the cottage, perhaps
 hiding under the gazebo, behind the potting shed, or even in a hollow tree,
 they are playing quietly. Maybe even chatting with the squirrels, flitting back
 and forth on gossamer wings alongside the birds, and watching we mortals
 as we go about our day.

I picked my little fairy to share here a week ago, assisted by my camera
 and watercolor pencils. 
Then on Sunday, taking a quick walk through the local arboretum after the
 museum of art visit, I saw just one purple anemone flower in bloom and
 realized immediately it was a magical, mystical moment. Perhaps it's where my
fairy found his beautiful flower!

Michael's weekly art project Scribble Picnic can be visited HERE -
please go to 'fairyland' where I'm sure the magic is beautiful.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Meet me at the museum. . . . . . . . . .

I purchased timed tickets in advance to take granddaughter Jasmin to view
 two fabulous exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art yesterday
 afternoon. The museum was extremely busy and lines were lengthy -
it was good to be able to walk right in.

 Drawn from "The Museum Set," M A S T E R W O R K S features 48 photographs
 curated by Ansel Adams to serve as a succinct representation of what he
 deemed the best work of his career. These stunning black and white photographs
 reveal the importance Adams placed on the awe-inspiring power and beauty of
 the natural world.

In a career that spanned more than five decades, 1902-1984 - (his first photo
 was taken at age 14 with the gift of a Kodak Brownie box camera) - Ansel Adams
 became one of America's most renowned and beloved photographers.

Included in this exhibition are Ansel Adams' most iconic images of
 majestic American landscapes such as El Capitan and the Half Dome in
 Yosemite National Park, The Golden Gate (before the bridge was built!) in
 San Francisco, and the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Ticketed with the Ansel Adams exhibition was Glory of Venice
Renaissance Paintings 1470-1520
I'll share this beautiful art in another post soon.

Askew by Roxy Paine
North Carolina Museum of Art - my photo from yesterday, a windy, chilly Sunday afternoon.
Yes, the tree is silver metal and is shown being installed HERE. It really is lovely.

Photography was not permitted inside the Ansel Adams exhibition gallery.

A thrilling Sunday at the museum made even more enjoyable with Jasmin,
 a budding photographer also, sharing it with me.
Do you enjoy visiting art museums?
Hoping you have one nearby.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Household Secrets Part II. . . . . . . . . .

Way back in January I posted Household Secrets, Part 1 and promised
 a second part with more odds and ends from around the cottage. 
Here it is, better late than never, if you're interested in what some call bric-a-brac,
 knick knacks or just plain old junk!

noun, ( used with a singular or plural verb)

miscellaneous small articles collected for their antiquarian, sentimental, decorative, or other interest.

I'm now in the throes of doing a little Spring/Easter decorating so some of this
 has already changed, not a lot though because I've really pared down on
 seasonal decorating. Too much stuff to store (we are limited by uneasy to access
 storage, most being in the attic, and we are finding it impossible very hard to
 crawl around dragging out bulky, heavy boxes.
Later you'll be re-introduced to the things I love to display for this new season,
 my white rabbits, they will always be around come Springtime.

What's happening at your house regarding Spring/Easter decor?
Will you be going over the top or keeping it simple?
Seeing these empty French antique drinking vessels above I'm suddenly visualizing
nice brown farm eggs sitting in them!

If you have youngsters at home I'm sure there will be colorful displays, chocolate
eggs, even bunting and cut out characters stuck on the windows - all part of being 
a child who will grow up with happy memories. 
Go for it say I - before it sometimes becomes a little bit more of a chore than a fun thing!

Anyway, let's think Spring - it's almost here.

Spring Equinox 2017 in the Northern Hemisphere will be at 6:28 AM
Eastern Daylight Time on
March 20, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day . . . . . .


A good day for baking Irish soda bread - I did this one last year 
so had better get moving in the kitchen before this day is over!

Where would I like to be right now? 
Back in the Emerald Isle of course - we had such a wonderful trip there last year.
Instead we're donning our green something or other and heading to a local
 Irish pub for a Guinness later.
Have fun if you plan to celebrate.

Edited: Sat. March 18, 2017

Here he is!  Bob, my always smiling, amazing guy of Irish descent - and so proud of it - enjoying his
Guinness yesterday at the downtown Hibernian pub - and waiting for the fish and chips to arrive. 
It was busy, crazy, we made new friends while waiting at the bar for a table, enjoyed the merriment of everyone 'wearing the green' (Bob wearing his Kitty O'Se's shirt from our lovely day last June in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland), and all having a great time. We then came home, lit the fire, invited the neighbors over,  popped the popcorn. . . . . . . . and watched that hilarious set in Ireland movie, WAKING NED DEVINE!  All in all, a great St. Patrick's Day.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fly away fast. . . . . . . . . .

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus

Size 10-14" (25-36 cm)

Small woodland hawk with gray back and head, rusty red breast. Long tail with
several dark tail bands, widest band at end of squared-off tail. Red eyes.

Female: same as male, but larger.
She builds a platform nest: 1 brood per year; 4-5 eggs, white with brown markings.
Female and male feed young.

A common hawk of backyards and woodland, often seen
 swooping in on birds visiting feeders. . . . . . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . . .who also enjoy a dip and a drink - which is why these darlings,
 the quiet and gentle mourning doves, took off in a hurry!  

I was watching them from the window when I saw the hawk 
land above them on the tree branch - fluttering wings their only sound,
 and then they were gone. Safe thankfully.

Chilly March afternoon - just another day in the garden.