Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Foreign postage and friends. . . . . . .

When Loree won my little travel guessing game earlier this year, I found her
 some small mementoes from South America. . . . . . .and mailed them
 off to her home on the amazing island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.

Yesterday, tucked in with our usual bills, special offers, ads, post cards from
people who want to buy our house, and numerous cruise/travel brochures etc.,
was a pale blue envelope with this delightful 'Summer' scene Malta stamp.

Although no longer the avid stamp collector I was in childhood, I continue to
 keep beautiful stamps, cutting them from envelopes and storing them in a box.
This now old fashioned means of personal communication, a hand
 written envelope with a post mark and a delightful stamp, may be coming
obsolete. . . . . . . . but for me they are gifts I cherish.

Loree's beautiful thank you card is perfect too, the type of card one doesn't want
 to hide away but rather buy a little frame for and hang on the wall, or stand on the
 dresser forever.
This is such a perfect card for me, the color blue and dainty white roses.
Thanks so much for the sweet thank you notecard.
Visit Loree here in Malta at Sincerely, Loree

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

This is May?

Subtropical storm Alberto pushing north disrupted outdoor Memorial Day plans for
 many in the south and southeast US yesterday. It continues on its way bringing
 rain and dreary conditions here in our area with the possibility of more flash flooding
 when the rain bands intensify. . . . . . . all one can do is wait, hope and pray all
will improve as the week moves on.

Our fig tree doesn't seem to mind the rain. . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . neither do the nibbling rabbits!

Blooming now: roses, gardenia (newly planted and doing well), 
favorite blue hydrangeas, and the row of leaves along the brick wall are
 my beloved sunflowers growing from the seeds I saved from last year's 
huge flower heads (I'm hoping they will be as beautiful this summer).

Already have a bird nesting in the new birdhouse - a bluebird I think -
there are twigs sticking out of one of the entrances!

Stay safe all dear friends in the path of the storm - brighter days
are ahead.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Enough is plenty. . . . . . . . .


We're at home for the Memorial Day weekend. 
How about you?
The coast would be lovely. . . . . . the mountains even better.
But being here and having some quiet moments is fine with me.

Friday, May 25, 2018

. . . . . . still hanging out in the potting shed.

I've just realized that the potting shed is now 17 years old!
For those who've followed me a while, you will recall I've told many stories
of its life in the garden. . . . . . and the hours of enjoyment it has brought
me over all those years.

After repairing the door with our good neighbor's help, I did a 'Spring cleaning' 
 and also made a little purchase for my comfort when bird watching/photographing. 
On a recent trip to Charlotte with the usual look around IKEA, I found this folding
 wood chair which is now my 'perch'. I can see the feeders and bird baths 
without the visiting birds, squirrels and rabbits seeing me!

View from potting shed.
American Robin : Turdus migratorius

This female came for an afternoon bathe on a very hot day 
last week. I've noticed robins seem to enjoy a dip more than any 
other backyard songbird.

Gray Catbird : Dumetella carolinensis

A secretive bird that the Chippewa Indians named Bird That Cries With Grief
due to its raspy call. The call sounds like a house cat's mewing, hence its 
common name. It will only nest in thick shrubs and is more often
 heard than seen. . . . . . except it does seem to enjoy coming to my feeders
and the birdbath!

I plan to spend some my holiday weekend out here as more rain is forecast
 and this is a shelter where I can enjoy the backyard visitors.

My painted/stenciled floor has held up quite well all these years -  I recall
the hours I spent on my knees completing that project.
Oh for the days of a strong back and pain-free kneeling again!!!!!

 Mourning Doves : Zinaida macroura

A gentle pair enjoying their perch on the potting shed roof.
Enjoy your Memorial Day, USA and Bank Holiday, UK weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Let's move!

It's a fixer-upper of course. . . . . . . . and someone with deep pockets will
 hopefully come along and turn this country house into a home once again.
It's actually on the main street of a small North Carolina town, surrounded by
smart, well cared for homes. It's sad to see this one unloved.

Driving back from the coast on Sunday afternoon was lovely - everywhere 
green and fresh after heavy rains. The fields were plowed, bright green
 cornstalks were already about a foot high.

Speaking of heavy rains - we were hit by such an intense electrical storm
last evening that serious flash flooding occurred in Raleigh. Here in the 
garden we've got a lot of clean up awaiting when it dries up - especially 
re-spreading all those cypress wood chips we spent an entire weekend
of back breaking work on in such hot weather!  Some have even ended
up in the street after being washed down the driveway in the river of water -
it was quite frightening.
Bob is heading out now to check under the cottage for any water - we
are said to have received up to 5 inches of rain in about half an hour!
Our fear now is although today is lovely, dry and sunny, more storms and
 rain are in the forecast for this week.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

'Down East' North Carolina. . . . . .

We're visiting friends in New Bern this weekend and despite wet weather it's 
very lovely, green, clean, and the drive down through North Carolina's 
countryside was glorious.

A little springtime romance going on between a pair of Laughing Gulls
 at our riverside hotel.

The 'Proud Mary' sailing by.

Well duckie apparently read the NO DIVING sign and carefully entered the pool
 via the steps!

Did you watch the royal wedding?
I've just seen a bit and loved viewing Windsor in the brilliant 
sunshine - it was my mother's home as a child when my 
grandfather was in the Coldstream Guards at the castle.

Off to Morehead City and Atlantic Beach this morning.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Unwanted visitor!

Never discuss cheese with rats, talk bread with birds
 or make moves with snakes.
                                                               ~ Author unknown ~

Love birds, will share my cheese with a rat teeny tiny
 mouse . . . . . . but snakes terrify me!

OMG, thankful again for yet another great neighbor, this time Dale, two doors down.
He's my go to nature guy as he's a hunter (I forgive him), and will save me
from the not so nice critters who visit the cottage.

Picture this - me sitting on the front porch after supper last evening - light drizzle
 falling as dusk fell. Bob upstairs on phone making travel arrangements.
Finch parents making a last check on their babies in the hanging basket overhead,
(I think they'll fledge any day now), cardinals singing in the fig tree, no mosquitoes,
  life was good. . . . . . 
. . . . . UNTIL I went in the house to get a paper towel to wipe a spider web off the
 carriage lamp and on my return this gigantic 5 foot black snake was silently
 slithering across the chair seat cushion and my reading glasses, WHERE I WAS
 JUST SITTING, down onto the porch and over the doormat.
I could have died right then and there as I'm terrified of snakes - and this was
the biggest I've ever seen at the cottage!!!
Calling for Bob to come downstairs (how I didn't scream I don't know) and at the
 same time calling Dale who was the only person I knew could help me - he was
 having dinner in a restaurant but promised to come home soon. 
Bob couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the size of this creature. I went into
 the dining room and immediately saw it looking at me through 
the window as it climbed up the frame and then I realized where it was planning
to go. . . . . . . . to get my baby finches in the hanging basket, help!!!!!!!!
Dale pulled up - grabbed a shovel from his truck - Mary ran out the back door and
 down the driveway (camera in hand of course!), Bob followed and we all 
headed to the front porch.

Dale: "Oh yeah, that's really a big one"
Bob: "Thanks for coming Dale, is it poisonous?" 
Mary: "How can you get it off the window and save my baby birds?"

As you can see in the photos, it was a huge, but not venomous, black rat snake.
 Dale was brave, Bob was relieved he didn't have to capture and dispose of it
 as even non-venomous snakes bite and one can get a nasty infection, and
 Mary's hands were shaking - and heart pounding.
What a night!

The finch babies are safe and enjoyed what could be their last night on the
  porch prior to fledging - they really look ready to fly. Little do they or their
parents know what a close call they had.

Gotta run now. We're off to the coast - it's drizzly and so humid this morning.
More later. . . . . . . . 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Enjoying the Secret Garden. . . . . . . .

We've worked very hard on the back garden these past couple of 
weeks. . . . . at last we feel it's looking good for the coming Summer
 months and we hope to spend time outside relaxing, watching Nature, 
eating, drinking etc. with family, friends and neighbors.
Our front porch and garden area are looking good too. . . . . . . . 
there's only one major problem, especially for me, the mosquitoes!!!!
Trees, shrubs, plants, all encourage Nature's creatures to the garden,
and tiny biting creepy crawlers and stinging winged ones are unforgiving. 

American Robin drying off

Female Cardinal - she has a nest with babies nearby!

BUT. . . . . . . and I know many people will not perhaps agree, MJoe showed
 up Monday to treat our garden and hopefully make it possible for me to at last
 enjoy it in the Summer months! I've seen the signs in front of many homes in our
 area over the past few years. We are an older neighborhood with many trees
 and thick, mature shrubbery, even small creeks running through many gardens
 and a couple of ponds, so mosquitoes and ticks abound. Apparently they use
 a natural compound which does not harm birds and bees. No contract is
required, and we can stop the monthly treatment at any time. 
I am deathly allergic to mosquitoes and I swear every one within 1/2 mile
 finds me, even when smothered in smelly, sticky repellent. Each bite swells
 into a huge raised lump, like a hive, with terrible itching, and I scratch constantly
 for many days - I am not a pretty sight, or a fun person to be with.
 Enough said!