Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sunday morning - more tulips!

European starlings braved the foggy morning - even a lone Brown-headed cowbird
 showed up for breakfast. It's warmer, calm, but so dreary and more rain coming.

Tomorrow March arrives, called 'Martius' by the Romans, from the god Mars.
It received the name 'Hlyd Monath', i.e. loud or stormy month, from the 

March days of note
March 1st - St.David
March 12th - St.Gregory
March 17th - St.Patrick
March 25th - Lady Day

This weekend I gathered up white tulips at LIDL - there were
 just two bunches. . . . . . .I brought them both home.
Clean and bright, they will welcome a new month. . . . .let's all
 hope it will be a better one.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Many thanks for all the kind comments on my 14th blog anniversary 
yesterday - you are all wonderful friends.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Fourteen years of blogging. . . .

. . . . and recalling some awesome travel.

No, not a new trip or any wild travel soon, sadly!  At this time, three years back, I was busy packing for the road yet again, leaving in early March for another visit to South America, focusing on the Chilean Fjords. I was doubly excited as Bob was going to be with me. Although he'd sailed on many ships, he'd never taken part in an expedition trip, riding in Zodiac boats to access amazing places large cruise ships were unable to visit. This was a new adventure for him. . . . . . and he really enjoyed it. 

These days I'm still traveling, though much differently. Virtually. Without my blog posts available to do this I feel I would not have such a quick/easy way to pull up old travel posts and photos. Sitting down with a mug of coffee, or a cup of tea, opening up the laptop and choosing a country to visit, takes my mind off being 'imprisoned' here at home. . . . . . . . . . . . for such a long time.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile - March 2018

The three huge granite 'Torres' (towers) which reach over 10,000 ft., are just
 visible between the 'Cuernos' (horns) on the right side of this photo above.
To read about and see more photos from our visit, go HERE and HERE.
For a laugh go HERE to see Bob on his initial Zodiac ride!

 Meeting you and sharing many aspects of our lives in this ever changing world has been a wonderful gift. Thanks so much for being here, some of you for 14 years! Please know you are all special to me, today and every day.

Cheers! Here's to our travels yet to come
Keep on blogging, and stay well.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Tulip time and hanging art -

As February fades, March, according to the weather forecast, plans to creep in with rain, and more rain, to this already damp, soggy area of the country.  Bunches of tulips have arrived brightening the empty corners of the grocery stores. Buying food has become the only real shopping I do these days, months, and now a long year, which feels so strange. But, on entering the store, the flash of colorful flowers are there, near the door, and taking time to stop and look is so worthwhile. . . . . making the day feel a little more normal as silent, masked shoppers fade into the background for a while. Lately I've seen more shopping carts with a bunch of colorful flowers or a potted plant tucked in along with salad greens and toilet tissue.  People need beauty and seem to be longing for spring. I have a feeling that garden centers will thrive this coming season as we start digging and delving in our gardens. I need a lot of new shrubs for the back garden.

I bought tulips twice in the past ten days!  
The first bunch, a deep almost reddish pink, in tight buds
 which opened into more red than pink blooms.

As they started to fade, I had to pop to the grocery again a couple of days ago - for more salad greens etc., so picked up another bunch of true pink blooms. 

The combination of colors reminded me to take this floral painting out of winter storage and add some springtime color. This original painting is done on a board, not canvas, and has nothing on the back to enable hanging. Anyone know what type of hardware I could attach to the back - the board is not very thick, or heavy. Have you used any of the adhesive types of hangers? I'm thinking of designing an 'art wall' so hanging pieces without making holes would really be great if possible!
Any ideas for this project would be appreciated. 
Thanks as always.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Come rain, come snow, come sunny mornings -


Our pair of beautiful Northern flickers are constant visitors. Several years ago I noticed them on the ground in the back garden. They had a youngster and the father was apparently training it on how to find and eat insects, ants and beetles being their favorite food, while the mother watched from the fence. They are the only woodpecker to regularly feed on the ground.

I fell in love with these spotted and striped woodpeckers that morning!  

Northern flicker - female - 12" brown and black woodpecker,
black necklace above speckled breast, red spot on neck

Male flicker, same except for a black mustache making
 it quite easy to distinguish.

Since our one dismal snow fall of this winter - just when a nice 6" would have been great as there was plenty of free time to play, build snow people, make snow angels, throw snowballs, and give housebound children, and adults, "something different to do" - the flicker pair have been devouring suet cakes which I stay busy replenishing. These could be their next favorite meal when insects aren't plentiful.  

Even as I write on this lovely morning, bright with welcome sunshine and the promise of a fine day with a high of 63F,  the pair of flickers are enjoying breakfast. The female seems really hungry, perhaps preparing to become a 'mom' this spring.

The male usually selects the nest site, taking up to 12 days to excavate. They have one brood per year, laying 5-8 white unmarked eggs, and both parents incubate for 14 days. Babies fledge in 25-28 days and both parents feed the young.

I hope we see babies this year.

I'm adding this photo to show the size of the woodpecker compared to the Eastern bluebird. They seem to get along fine together at the feeders, the bluebird usually sitting patiently waiting for a chance to nibble. . . . . . .

. . . . . . and this photo, showing the beautiful flash of golden wing and tail feathers displayed as this male flicker flies away with a bill stuffed with suet, under the watchful eye of the bluebird.  Here in the southeast, populations of these woodpeckers swell in winter when northern migrants arrive, and our own, being non-migrators, grace us with their presence year round. 
We really are so lucky. Nature is so generous.

All photos taken from my dining room window.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Victorian railway - travel back in time. . . . .

I came across this very important, to me, greeting card many years ago.
I have never sent it to anyone because I cannot part with it!  From the first glance I thought this was me!  It isn't, but it could have been!  Clark's sandals, Peter Pan collared dress, straight bobbed hair.
Growing up at the seaside in Devon actually didn't require taking a holiday there, it was an everyday place. It was home. In summer we often ended days at the beach at Torquay station, just a short walk from the beach, to take the short run to the next station along the line. There, we'd hop on the local bus to our village, riding up a lengthy slow rising hill with views of blue Tor Bay beyond the rolling fields. It was a beautiful place to spend a childhood in the 1940's-50's.

An online newspaper article a couple of weeks back featured 
the same station, the headline read. . . . . . .


Apparently the station fails to comply with the law on equality. Major changes are being planned to modernize and install elevators in the two towers so all passengers can use the footbridge to cross between the two platforms. Makes sense, should have been done long ago to assist disabled people as there is no step-free route between the platforms. 
The building is listed because of its historic importance and a surviving example of Victorian railway architecture. It was opened in August 1859, later being rebuilt in 1878 as Torquay grew in popularity as a major holiday resort.

My station photos were taken in May 2019, actually the last trip home as we've been unable to get back since the pandemic hit. Sadly, last year's trip was canceled, and although we are lined up to go this spring, it's looking doubtful with quarantine issues etc.  
That lovely sunny day in May we traveled by train to Cornwall to meet up with longtime blog friend Barbara (also known as Elizabethd at Small Moments). We had the most fun time with her, she is a special lady in many ways.

"A little girl curls up on the train seat at the end of a seaside holiday, 
clutching her bucket and spade, her comics and a rag doll."  
PICTURE POST cover - 1946 (Haywood Magee)

It took a lot of research to find the original photo used on the card. 
Note there are railway workers outside the window, 
and the caption is 'The End of the Holiday.'
I recall the plush velvet upholstery. Overhead there would have 
been a netting 'shelf' to put baggage, and the ticket taker would
 come round with a friendly smile. Those were the days of
the wonderful steam trains.

Sitting here this morning I had a wonderful surprise outside the window.
One of those 'being in the right place at the right time' moments.
A true gift!  
I will share with you later in the week. . . . . . and yes, it's all about 
'the birds' again, of course!

Stay safe - well - and warm.

Friday, February 19, 2021

February freeze time -

This has been a somewhat strange week.  
Weather all across the board. . . . rain, fog, sunshine, ice, more rain and cold temperatures.  The painless needle in my arm came back to haunt me in the dark night when C
ovid #2 vaccine played havoc, fever, chills and the run over by a bus sensation.  Don't let my personal reaction put you off though, get the vaccine, and the good feeling later that you are much safer and will be ready to stretch your wings and take flight again soon.

Wings.        Delicate feathers.         Our feathered friends.       The way to fly.

The garden birds are also tired of rain and cold.  On the warmer, sunny day they seemed so chirpy.  We cleaned out the birdhouse - still filled with nests of twigs, moss, grasses and such. Now ready for new construction crews who will hopefully arrive come spring.  

My Valentine flowers are still looking lovely - when they start to fade I will dry the roses. On that sunny afternoon I sauntered around the garden to prepare a list of all the work we need to address come spring.  Many bulbs are pushing through that soggy earth and two daffodils were already blooming. . . . . . . always a lovely sign that things are looking UP!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Life saving?

This year I chose my own flowers during a whip round at the local grocery store the day prior to Valentine's Day!  Bob was willing but as there were so many to choose from, and I knew what I would enjoy, he said go ahead pick your own while I'm grabbing my cereal!!!  We do not delight in spending much time in the grocery stores now. Armed with a list, a quick pass with little time spent browsing is the usual.  Romance or surprise did not really come into equation, but choosing what I knew I would love was enjoyable.

I gathered bunches of roses, carnations and alstroemeria, all in faded shades of pink and cream.  The floral clerk came over and loved what I cradled in my arms and asked to take a photo - not of me but the flowers!
Back home in the kitchen, I first added the flowers to a vase to allow them a good clean drink, then later trimmed the stems a little and arranged them in the large vintage white pitcher.

On Sunday, Valentine's Day, we were up early to make our 9:30 AM appointments at the hospital parking lot for our second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations. Well organized, as was the first visit three weeks prior, the volunteers in lime green safety vests directed the traffic through the chilly, soggy mist toward the canvas tents where cheery nurses, male and female, awaited with their needles at the ready.  
Because I have an allergy to iodine contrast dye, we were then directed to 30 minute parking spot to wait before leaving just in case I had a reaction, which I didn't.  We drove away feeling that we'd just received 'life saving equipment' which will hopefully prevent us from becoming ill or making others ill. We understand that this not a silver bullet and we must continue to be diligent, especially for the next 14 days.

Did we experience any after effects from the second vaccine?
Bob didn't, other than the expected soreness in his arm.
As for me - I awoke at 4 AM Monday morning feeling like I'd been hit by a bus, dizzy, shivering, with a somewhat elevated temperature of 100.1F.  I followed instructions, took Tylenol, drank water and went back to bed. . . . . .. and slept until 11 AM!  Rested most of yesterday - didn't even feel like blogging - and today feel much better.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Saint Valentine's Day 2021

The only bright spots in the winter garden lately.........a flag and the birds!
 Sending love from our house.

"I really wanted chocolate but it looks like he brought me sunflower seeds again"

"I guess it's the thought that counts. . . . . . and in all honesty I like these a lot"

"Doing the best I can for my loved one on a cold, wet Valentine's Day!"

~ Northern cardinals ~