Friday, June 30, 2017

Such a handsome bird. . . . . . . . . .

Yesterday I was out early morning hanging a new suet feeder to replace the one
 gnawed by the dastardly squirrels.  
Back in the house I turned around to look out the window and noticed this handsome
 male Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus - already feeding!
Easy to recognize the sex of this woodpecker - the male has a black mustache.

Grabbed the camera. . . . . . . . .of course. . . . . . . . .and by then it had flown from
 the feeder and was scuffling about in the leaves at the back of the garden.
When I looked through the viewfinder I realized there was a second Flicker on 
the ground, thought it was its mate, however then realized it was a much smaller
 bird and definitely another male with a mustache.  Papa, with suet in his beak,
 was feeding his son!

The young bird didn't seem too sturdy on its legs, not unexpected if it hasn't
 been out of the nest for long. Both parents do incubate and feed their young
 who fledge from the nest (usually in a cavity in a tree) when about one month old.
Guess this dad was living up to his parental responsibilities. 
They were there for several minutes and then flew off together.
5-8 eggs are usually laid - perhaps mom was busy with the rest of her brood.

In flight the Flicker flashes golden yellow under wings and tail, undulating deeply
 while giving a loud "wacka-wacka" call. It is a non-migrator in the Carolinas so we
 are able to enjoy this very attractive large bird all year round.

. . . . . . .and you enjoying the sunshine in that pretty fur coat - don't get any
 ideas - you had best stay down there on the ground away from my new
 suet feeder - I see you eyeing it already!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Scribble Picnic - Fox

Wildlife in the garden brings mixed feelings. Of course seeing beautiful animals
 and knowing they actually like coming to your residence is often exciting, BUT
 can also be annoying when they devour plants and perhaps put domestic pets
 in danger. . . . . . . .and downright scary when you suddenly have that feeling
 something is watching you from the bushes when you're on your knees weeding!

For several years we've had grey foxes come through the garden, more recently
 just passing through on the way from the wooded area across from the cottage
 to wherever they go in the neighborhood. However, for three years in a row they came
  to give birth and raise families! There were always five kits in each litter, born twice
 under my neighbor's shed which backs up to my potting shed, and once even
 under our gazebo which was such a surprise being a very shallow space.
How the mother got under and produced five babies who crawled out several times
a day (these are just two of them) to eat and play, will always remain a mystery to us.

Fox kits on my deck - May 2011
Photo edited via PicMonkey - colored with watercolor pencils.

Fox kits reach full size by six months so move on from a garden within a couple
 of months once the parents have taught them how to find their own food.
During that time in the garden the parents would visit, nurse, feed, and even
 have a noon playtime around my potting shed which was awesome to watch.

Although we've enjoyed watching the little foxes we are always cautious when
they're in the garden. Foxes can carry rabies here in North Carolina and people 
have been bitten in their back yards. . . . . . . needless to say we always keep our 

This is an excellent article if you're interested learning more about the fox.

Be sure to visit Michael's weekly Scribble Picnic HERE today - I'm looking forward
 to seeing what our creative participants come up with for his FOX theme today.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Another early morning breakfast visitor. . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . .and this time it was not my granddaughter!

On opening the dining room blinds early this morning I was quite surprised 
to see this larger than usual visitor checking out the bird feeder! 
In the almost thirty years we've lived in the cottage, we've never had deer
in the garden, and we can count on one hand the times we've seen one in the 
cul-de-sac. . . . . . . until yesterday early evening when a neighbor called to tell
 me a deer had just walked up my driveway. I didn't get photos then as it jumped
 over a fence and was gone in no time flat. We are not in the country and are 
actually just a heartbeat away from a very heavily traveled main road.
This morning I was able to grab a camera, managed a few shots from the
 window before this one toddled off over the lawn, then crossed the street into
 the small wooded area opposite.

We really don't want deer knowing how they can enjoy three meals a day
 once they find plants and shrubs on their menu growing in your garden. 
My neighbor has tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions coming along 
and is going on vacation soon. As I'm going to be cat-sitting for a couple of 
weeks I've been given the go ahead to harvest - and enjoy cooking/eating - these
 summer veggies. I'm growing a lot of basil in pots, so I'm ready for fresh-picked 

- Neighbor's veggie patch -

Methinks I may be spending more time in the garden in my robe these
coming mornings! I have big plans for gazpacho, ratatouille, pasta sauce etc. -
and I may need to be out there ahead of the deer if those are veggies they enjoy!

If you are growing veggies and have visiting deer - do they eat them?
Any tips will be welcomed. . . . . . but no instructions for building deer 
fences please, too late for that.

Just taking a break and sitting in the garden on a sudden whim is not really an option
 for me at this time of year. . . . . .unless I spray heavily with messy, smelly bug
 repellent I become a feast for every mosquito within a square mile.  
This morning I did venture out after the deer left, after all I was already armed
with a camera, nobody was around, being in pj's and robe was acceptable,
 (it's actually one of those 'old lady' habits neighbors expect I think!).
  The garden did look pretty in the early sunlight. . . . . . . and I wanted 
to share a little bit of North Carolina with you.
Have a fabulous week dear friends.

Bob will be heading out with the mower shortly - as you can see, time to
tackle the grass again, grows non-stop at this time of year.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NO green thumb required!

Word Origin: 
Noun - green thumb
An exceptional aptitude for gardening or for 
growing plants successfully

House plants provide much pleasure for the city dweller with a green thumb. . . . . 
. . . . . and you can always cheat a little bit!

You just knew, didn't you? It didn't take long to realize I was not satisfied with
 two planters taking up all that dining room table space! 
We don't eat every meal there but when we do
it's good not having to move too many items, including faux plants.

Yes, tried placing them UP on the top of the Welsh dresser - much too close to
 the ceiling - I wish I had high ceilings. Cottage style homes don't of course!

I decided to split the planters - leaving just one on the table - and this is working well.

Yesterday morning when granddaughter Jasmin came 
for breakfast (she's dog sitting for my neighbors this weekend), we indulged
in fresh-made fruit smoothies with scrambled egg croissants and had plenty of
 room to eat.

Photo via Jasmin's iPhone

 The second planter I've placed here on the hearth, lightening it up,
bringing a little more of a summery feel to the living room.

Heavy rain last evening - I swear the grass grew an inch over night.
Today is so humid - the only garden activity here will be squirrels, birds,
and I see my very tiny chipmunk already out there munching on 
dropped seeds under the bird feeder.

Have a good Sunday - 'see you' here during the week!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cottage Collage. . . . . . .

Late afternoon
Camera in hand
Walk around the cottage
See things you enjoy, collect, love
From around the world
Push the shutter button
End up with lots of disjointed images
Something fulfilling about making a collage
Putting things in their place
Some things change
Some things always stay the same

A very hot, humid Saturday here. . . . .but it's still
 early so I'm off to do some small garden chores.
Have an enjoyable weekend dear readers.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Signs of the summer home. . . . . . . . .

We recently gained a new store in town. 
I've seen bloggers from across the country mention Hobby Lobby Arts & Crafts
 over the past years but I'd never visited one.
A few days ago I was looking for some summer greenery for the dining room 
 and had heard this store had a great selection of faux florals etc.
My two vintage iron containers needed something green and airy which wouldn't
 require direct light or constant watering, but would add a touch of color. . . . so
faux was the way to go for a little summer oomph!

I found two small ferns in tiny pots which I've transferred to larger white china pots
 I already had. I bought one spray of the trailing greenery which 
 is quite pretty - cut it up and divided it between the two pots. I quite like the cool
 feel of this look with the two inverted antique Victorian flower baskets. . . . . . but
I may move them around later as they do take up a lot of space and will need to
 be moved when we eat here.

Hobby Lobby is quite a place - especially if you're into crafting and signs!
They do have a huge amount of merchandise and I only skimmed the surface,
 but I did notice signs. . . . . . . . . . more signs than I've ever seen. . . . 
and several caught my eye.

This simple quote I would love to look at often - I may have to go back for this one.
Being a world traveler, off to often new and unexpected places, 
I agree that coming home is more than special.
I love this short quote on bold painted wood.
I thought of my blog friend Donna which I saw this pillow - her blog titled GATHER is one
of my favorites.  Donna, you need this!

. . . . . and there were a few lovely framed prints that caught my eye - such as this
 one of the dilapidated farmhouse and barn. If I had somewhere to hang it I would
 definitely have brought this home. Perhaps can make a space for it, just thinking!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Scribble Picnic ~~~~~~~~~ Jars

The good old Mason jar. 
Glass jars are by far the most popular containers for home canning.
It was, and often still is, a homemakers major kitchen chore for preserving
 the bounty of the garden, the veggie patch, the fruit bearing trees.
The longest used form of closure on them was a zinc screw-on cap.
I had a sizable collection for a few years, enjoyed them displayed in my 
kitchen. One day, seeing something I wanted more I did a swap at
 SuzAnna's Antiques and said goodbye to them. Things like that happen when
 you get involved with antiques and vintage. . . . . . it's a form of treasure hunting.

Photo edited to a sketch - colored with watercolor pencils.

Antique canning jars such as my Ball brand above, are collector's items.
The value of a jar is related to its age, rarity, color and condition.
Colored jars were considered better for canning as the color blocked some
light from reaching the food, helping to retain flavor and nutritional value longer.
Most antique jars that are not colorless are aqua or "Ball blue", a blue-green
shade named for the Ball Corporation, a prevalent jar manufacturer.

Michael's Scribble Picnic theme for today is JARS - 
do stop by HERE and check on the group's offerings, I just know it will 
be interesting.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Getting away from it all. . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . and what could be better than a road trip, a mystery trip!
Pack a bag for a couple of nights, secure the cottage, jump in the car and
head west (or east, even south or north), and discover new places one
has missed before. No time constraints, no deadlines, no reservations, just an old
fashioned road trip. . . . . . . drive on, stop when you want to admire a view, watch
a waterfall tumble from high above, listen to a mountain stream make music
 trickling over its rocky granite bed as a whistling hawk circles overhead.

Spectacular places within a day's driving distance of home, even more beautiful
 than expected. June weather was perfect, cooler in the western part of the state
 than here. Warm, sunny, with amazing cloud formations and just two light five
 minute showers to rinse and freshen the greenery. . . . . . . . . and native
 rhododendrons bursting into bloom along the mountain roads then nosediving
 en masse to the valley floors far below.

Bridal Veil Falls, Nantahala National Forest, Highlands, North Carolina

A road trip can take you to places you will never see up close any other way.
There are 100 counties in North Carolina and we have now visited every one.
We drove almost 900 miles over the weekend. . . . . . .it was really lovely viewing 
our beautiful state dressed for Spring.

How do you feel about getting out on the open road?  
Do you enjoy 'getting away from it all' and seeing the countryside in your
close to home area?