Sunday, May 31, 2020

A night to remember. . . . .

Memories of better times.

This blog never has been, and never will be, a platform for anything political
concerning my own thoughts, hopes, and dreams for my two countries.
The United Kingdom where I was born, raised, and lived until I crossed the pond
at age nineteen, and the United States of America which became
 my permanent home, and will be for the years remaining.

Last night I watched, on TV, grief-stricken, as parts of my beautiful home city
 for the past 42 years, crumbled, burned, and literally shattered as the glass of dozens
 of downtown storefronts were violently smashed, not by the peaceable local protestors
 of the afternoon, but by what could only be domestic terrorists hell-bent to destroy
 property, riot and loot . . . . . . . . . . . . . and they did both!
This morning my heart aches, not only for Raleigh, North Carolina, but 
for all the other American cities experiencing such devastation these past
several nights.

What can one do?
How does one deal with such brutality so close to home?
There are so many questions right now.
We all need answers.

Edited:  Please understand that I will not be posting any comments here today. 
As I said, this is not a political platform of any kind and name-calling will not be tolerated.  
Please just pray for peace in all countries of this beautiful world.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Wishing, hoping. . . . . .

. . . . . . . and praying for this country, and the world.

Words don't come easy on a morning such as this!
Be brave, be vigilant, be law abiding, be respectful. . . . . and
 please be loving and caring.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A new view of 'Home Sweet Home'. . . . . . . .

I designed the above for a post just before whispers of COVID-19 were heard, when
 times were different, much different!
Having just completed the master bedroom makeover - waved goodbye to painter,
 floorers, electrician, furniture delivery truck and so forth. . . . . . . . I was already 
thinking about what to do next to spruce up the cottage.
Of course that bubble burst, things crashed, and fixing up, changing decor,
hiring help, and shopping for anything even slightly related to home renovation,
other than filling the toilet roll holders - if one was lucky enough to find any - came
to screeching halt!

Yesterday I packed away the flannel sheets and changed the bedding
 to summertime sheets of cool linen.
Dusted the furniture and passed the mop over the floor.
Nobody comes to visit anymore - and I wonder if they ever will - suddenly 
things don't need to be perfect and I'm taking a rest from trying to be
a perfectionist!
In all honesty, housework is stagnating somewhat around here.

Outdoors is getting more attention, although this week with so much rain
not a lot can be done. Fortunately Bob mowed the grass which now is lush and 
so green. Last night's really heavy downpours crushed the
lovely pots of petunias to soggy messes, even deadheading is hard to do
and will have to wait.  Best to view are the hydrangeas, now fabulous huge 
blooms of many shades of blue as they guzzle gallons of rain water.

Meanwhile, my pretties collect dust on their shelves. . . . . . 
. . . . . but being old, some antique, they seem softened even more and I am
just enjoying them as is in the present time at home.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Weather woes, wrens and wondering!

It's due to start raining again later today. . . . . . . and continue until Sunday!  
Enough is enough.  Yes, rain is great for the garden, too much rain along
 with predicted evening thunderstorms is not.

The above snaps I took yesterday. It was peaceful outside, the plants
standing tall. . . . . . except for three unruly rabbits nibbling my sunflowers
 to the ground, and the pack of four young squirrels fighting for the bird
 feeders like circus aerialists performing acrobatics.

How lovely the many songbirds birds are, just happy to eat quietly
 in between perching in the fig tree, or coming to the porch. 
A Carolina wren, my favorite bird, just sat on a chair outside the
window . . . . . chirped 'good morning' through the glass before
 hopping off on the hunt for breakfast.

Did you read the New Blogger notification of the late June new interface
  which popped up this morning?
Rather unnerving and not expected. I'm still stressing over
Adobe Flash closing down end of year and wondering how hard it
will be for non techies, like me, to learn the new version of PicMonkey, 
my personal photo editing program!

I thought being in lockdown would bring me much more time, and patience,
to work on things which might make life more pleasurable for this
 new future we are going to live in!
Instead, at this point, I feel like I'm falling into a crevasse, or off a
precipice, heading down into the depths of a darkness I may not be
 able to survive in.  Will this new world throw we seniors into the abyss?
I hope not because I do still have the proverbial 'bucket list' floating
about in the back of my mind. . . . . . . and believe me, I like to think 
I'm not over the hill yet! 

Do you feel up to learning a new blogging platform and editing
 program during this questionable worldwide order we may be facing?
Will you keep your blog going no matter what?
Perhaps we can share with each other any technical challenges
which may befall us in the months ahead. . . . I would be so grateful 
knowing we can rely on each other if need be.

Wishing you a good day as always.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Just Breathe -

 moment to breathe.
More moments to breathe deeply. . . . .
To think
To wish
To remember
To hope

I look back over my photos taken when time often
 stood still. There were moments to enjoy, to escape, 
to see new places, even old places but with a fresh eye. 
I feel lucky I had those moments and recorded
 them . . . . . for times such as now.

This week I really need to breathe, deeply, so I may not post 
anything new. Each day is somewhat clouded, some by the weather, 
some brought upon us by the Corona virus, some by family issues, 
others by household problems (awaiting the plumber here), and many
 by just day to day living with distancing from our loved ones, wearing
 masks, and feeling discomfort and cautious when away from the 
comforts and safety of home and garden. . . . . . whilst others choose
 blatant, uncaring behavior causing us stress and concerns.

Please be kind to one another and do the right
 thing when it comes to health and safety.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Inundated with recipes. . . using eggs & blueberries.

Are you, like me, amazed at the enormous number of recipes now available to the home cook? It appears that no matter what you read - magazines, newspapers, supplements, advertising, even real estate listing publications - they all now include something to cook. Online recipes - dare I even go there - from thousands of food/cooking blogs which offer recipes from every part of the world. I do love looking when the photos often include scenery away from the kitchen stove or counters - they often bring more interest for me aside from the actual recipe. Last, but definitely not least, there are of course several new, usually expensive 'you have to buy me' cook books published every day of the week it seems.

I love to cook, and bake, and, on flipping through the latest copy of a local magazine which had a lovely article on blueberries - the season here for local picking of 'blues' is coming up now as the strawberry season ends - there was the recipe!  With an abundance of fresh farm eggs and and blueberries on hand I couldn't resist trying the Blueberry Streusel Muffins. . . . . . . . . 

. . . . . . . . . . even though I was not planning to bake a thing this past week!  

We've really been overdoing the sweet things in life, using lockdown as the
 excuse for putting on a few pounds, whereas perhaps it's really only from
 eating more of the wrong things and moving less!

Antique Wedgwood Etruria "LACE" pattern soup bowl. Markings date it 
prior 1860 - so one of my oldest pieces of china. Has a major crack so I 
only use for display.

These muffins were more involved in the making than my easy
 Old Fashioned Bluberry Muffin recipe used for at least 40 years, enjoyed
 and used by all who try them. 
The topping with extra butter, sugar and flour is just not needed, made the
 muffin heavier, more greasy, and of course much higher in calories! 
 Tasty, but I will definitely go back to my original recipe. . . . . . . . . . proof
 that the old fashioned things in life are often still the best!

Yesterday, farmer friend Linda, now getting plenty of eggs again from her chickens
 after a couple of weeks of them going broody and not laying, drove into town. 
We met in a parking lot wearing masks and gloves - along with other customers
 doing the same - and I came home with two dozen beautiful eggs.  
Cooking and baking is on the horizon again, along with more walking perhaps!!!!!

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, usually a family/friends get together cheerful holiday. 
This year is a lot different for many of us still choosing not to rush out and gather
in a group as many have started to do.  
Our day will be just another day here at home, but we will fire up the grill, fly the flag
on the front porch, enjoy a hot, sunny day. . . . . . . and again be so very thankful
 for our garden refuge.

We will also remember the true reason for the day and hope you and your
 loved ones, even if apart, do the same.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Thoughts of Umbrella Days. . . . . . .

While gazing out the window this morning I was thinking about the sopping wet
 weather we've had this week. Three straight days of rain falling, unusual for this
 area, a slow moving farewell from tropical storm Arthur.
I didn't need my umbrella though as I didn't go out of the house. . . . . except to
slosh around in the soggy garden now and then. All this thinking took me back
 to places in the world where umbrellas played
 a memorable part whilst sightseeing. 

Here are a few that come to mind as I enjoy a sunny morning again.

My photo from that special morning at Monet's garden in Giverny, France.

My art version of the gorgeous Claude Monet paintings reproduced on the umbrellas
 for sale at the gift shop in his gardens.

Handmade umbrellas waiting to dry before decorative painting - Chiang Mai, Thailand 2011

. . . . . . . and me among the painted umbrellas outside the shop.

First morning in Moscow, heavy rain whilst crossing waterlogged Red Square - 2013
Dreary and foreboding - thankfully the following day the sun came out.

The steady rain of 'the wet' season bringing to life the ancient colors of ancient
Hue, Vietnam. 

More of historic Hue, Vietnam in 2011

Rainy day - plenty of umbrellas and plastic rainwear available!
Beautiful colors of very old buildings - hang the red lantern!
Hoi An, Vietnam - 2011. A beautiful place.

Hope your Memorial Day weekend is dry, bright and sunny.
Not going far from home but will probably grill something or that's
what we do, right?

Stay well - be safe.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Garden green. . . . . and a new visitor!

Well, those expected gentle showers have turned into two days of very heavy
 downpours, especially overnight. Quite a difference in the garden colors, and
 even now, at noon, drenching rain still falls and steady breezes continue to wash
 off the dust and remaining springtime pollen. But enough is enough!  We are still
 looking at one more day and night with plenty more rain which we really don't need!

The hydrangeas love the rain, much cooler temperatures, and no sun to curl the
 edges of their perfect leaves and turn them brown.  The blooms are just starting to
 open, looking small but usually end up huge once all the tiny buds are fully open.

Some of my potted plants I've brought up on the porch, many don't need
 continuous watering for days on end, and seedlings certainly don't want to be
drowned or washed out of their small pots - basil mostly.

Oh, about the new visitor to the garden.  A surprising return of a chipmunk yesterday! 
 We had one named Chippy for several years who disappeared after hibernation
a year ago. This little guy/gal was running along the front porch yesterday morning, 
then headed over to the bird feeders and spent time with the squirrels - who tried
 to chase it away - but got along famously with this male cardinal as they
 breakfasted together.  I think we'll just continue using the name Chippy . . . . .
. . . . after all it may be the same one, just back from traveling!!!!!

Bad squirrel - we have a whole new family this spring and they are definitely a nuisance!
Just another garden wildlife story. . . . . . . . 

See you when it stops raining!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Ready to leave home?

Can't say being constrained at home most days for many weeks is bothering me a lot.
I love being at home.
 However, I now find myself thinking more about what to plan for travel once we
 can actually pack up and go somewhere a little further than Costco! 
The cars sit in the driveway with full tanks and nowhere to roam.
The suitcases collect dust in the attic.

Here, inland, we are being blessed with gentle rain this morning as
 Tropical Storm Arthur, now just 50 miles off the North Carolina coast, 
is passing the Outer Banks with winds reaching 73 mph.  
Many hurricanes are forecast for this year's season, we wait and hope
 they aren't devastating.
People have enough to contend with already!

The garden needs a good deep water following the hot weekend, 
and rain is so much better than dragging the hoses around.
This week will see plenty of rain thanks to Arthur!

Speaking of gardens, how about this neighborhood gem.
When we walked Saturday we loved finding this U PICK - Everyone Welcome 
sign on a curbside raised bed. The gnome was cute keeping watch.
 Beans, tomatoes, peppers, squash etc. are coming along for picking soon, 
meanwhile I snipped a little bunch of curly parsley and pineapple sage.  

Pretty Serena & Lily summertime seaside offerings. 

Hopefully we will get to a coastal location sometime this summer.
Have you made any travel plans yet?

 My visit to the beautiful Cape Verde Islands last year - where most of the US east coast 
 hurricanes come from!  

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Fading beauty. . . . . . . .

The peonies, like me, are fading now.
Their beauty is short lived in days, sadly their blooms don't last for months.
 We care for them from the thrilling day when that tight, round bud appears,
then opens with the assistance of tiny ants (never rinse off the ants, they
 are needed according to nature). For a week or so we breathe the
 fragrance as the blooms grow large, beautiful, stunning to look at, and
 one feels especially glad to be at home.

Now they've even passed the blowsy stage when petals loosen and droop. 
Tinges of rusty shades are encroaching on the fading ballet pink. Yellow stamens 
are curling into fine threads. To me they are still so lovely in their old age. 
I feel a need to record them even this way - so I've been out there with the
camera to watch them change before they fall forever.

THOUGHTS - This weekend arrived very quickly and although every day is
 somewhat the same, I still enjoy the feeling of Saturday and Sunday. 
I hope those who are still working can enjoy some time for relaxation - something
 we elderly retirees are already used to.  

So, more time for the garden - both working and relaxing there.
Weight gain is noticed - me rather than Bob, not fair because I eat
less than him!  No bread baking - crusty loaves slathered with butter
now off the menu for a while, as are pistachio muffins. The farm fresh
strawberries are now being served naked without whipped cream!
Must walk more - grocery shopping is not exercise and we actually 
didn't even do that this week as we've too much food in the house.

The weather is warming up - high of 89F today - so I'm leaving you
for now and grabbing my walking shoes and sunhat.
Enjoy your Saturday.