Sunday, March 31, 2019

Spring has sprung according to the birds------------------

Carolina wren on the front porch early today.
My favorite tiny bird who is waking me these mornings with raucous calls
 to its mate. I love how the wren goes to the feeder, digs out a favorite, always 
a peanut, brings it quietly to the bricks, tucks it into a groove to help hold it
 steady, then nibbling commences. Sunflower seeds are ignored. . . . .a lot
of work for one peanut meal.

The birds are very busy performing obvious mating rituals and starting nest
 building, with non-stop eating requiring the feeders to be stocked almost daily. 
They need to keep their strength up!

I'm sure I'll have the usual 'bird observations' in the coming weeks. . . . . all part
of springtime in my garden.

Enjoy a lovely Sunday - hopefully with pretty birds to watch.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Skywatch. . . . . . .

Even during bad times keep looking up. . . . . . and raising your eyes
 upward at this time of year can really fill your heart with beauty and hope.
Hope is what we should strive for in all aspects of life.

I truly appreciate how so many of you have written to me, or
commented here, with concern regarding Jasmin's accident. 
This incident has really caused me stress and anxiety. These are
 the times in life when true friends come through and offer support.
I thank those of you who have done that.

Jasmin had started a new job just three weeks ago and was feeling 
really happy about the changes in her young life. No longer having a car is
 going to be a struggle when the rental from the insurance company runs out.
Sadly, a car of that age has a very low book value despite its low mileage and 
good condition (it used to be mine!), and the insurance payment will in no way
enable her to buy another car in such good shape!
However, although worried, she is doing well and hopefully will have no
 long term physical problems from her injuries.
The outcome of this accident could have been so much worse. 
As we all know, and many of you have mentioned, losing a car is nothing when
 compared to losing a life. As one friend said, "be thankful you provided her 
with a sturdy car (Toyota Camry XLE) which probably saved her life, and
 that the airbags deployed".
Today, we've learned the drunk driver does have insurance - he 
is scheduled to appear in court here in two weeks' time.

Soon o'er their heads blithe April airs shall sing;
A thousand wild flowers round them shall unfold;
The green buds glisten in the dews of spring,
And all be vernal rapture as of old.

..........John Keble ~ 1792-1866

 First fig!

 All photos taken in my garden today.

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day; 
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.

. . . . . William Shakespeare (Two Gentlemen of Verona) 1564-1616

Another weekend here already - how fast the days pass.
April will have perhaps arrived before I get back here.
Enjoy yourselves and stay safe always.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Life. . . . . . .

 . . . . .whether old or brand new, 
always precious.

My granddaughter, Jasmin (22), was fortunate she survived her
 recent auto accident without serious injury------or worse.
Details have shown us once again that being in the right place but at
 the wrong time - such as she was, just two blocks from home - one 
can be hurt, or even killed, in less than a moment.
There are crazy fools, bad drivers, young and old, who should not be
 on the roads.  

There is absolutely no excuse for driving while impaired
 from alcohol or drugs.

The person who plowed into her on the driver's side, at what must have
 been quite a speed as her car is totaled, was arrested for driving while
 impaired and underage drinking as he's nineteen. Looks like he's
also uninsured and from out of state so getting necessary info
has been difficult.

Sadly the car is gone but Jasmin is with us thank God.

Meanwhile, life begins again in the garden as these spring days warm up and
 the sun brings light. Bob has been pulling up sprouting acorns - this is one
 of thousands now pushing up everywhere and once again we are reminded
 of the old saying. . . . . . . . 
"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow"

Raleigh, known as 'The City of Oaks' just doesn't need anymore, 
especially in my garden!

Hoping you and your loved ones always stay safe.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Needing a break ----------

I have to take a break from blogging for at least a few days to get organized.
If I owe you comments or e-mails please forgive me - I'll try to catch up
 later in the week.

We've spent an entire weekend going over the estimates received
 for our new HVAC system - and have now made our decision. 
 It was hard work to say the least. Of course we hope we've chosen
 wisely as it's such an expensive project. Removal of old and 
installation of new is scheduled for three days next week, so 
again I'll have a lot to keep me busy.

To top off all the above, early Saturday morning our granddaughter Jasmin
was hit by an underage (19) drunk driver when in her car alone just two
 blocks from her home. He T-boned her on the driver's side at a major
 downtown intersection. Thankfully she was not seriously injured, probably
 due to the airbags inflating. There were several witnesses to the accident
and the Police arrived within minutes.
We are awaiting news regarding the status of her Toyota (once
 my much-loved car) which was towed away, hoping that it can be
 repaired and not sent to a slow death in the junk yard!!!

I hope to be back here soon - enjoy your week.

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.