Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Autumn notes -

Small original oil found at a thrift shop years ago.

I'm so behind with everything - here's a quick catch up of what's happening around us. I'm trying hard not to be sad about not being in England now as planned, but I am so missing seeing my family and friends there. 

With October close I feel Autumn days are here despite not much color in the trees overhead yet. Golden leaves fall silently from the fig tree and Bob gathers them daily. The oaks haven't started dressing for autumn, but cooler nights are here so all will be changing soon. Acorns will rain down, followed by crisp brown leaves requiring several weeks of raking to the curb for the annual collections by the city. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks"............easy to see why.

Today our lawn will be aerated and over-seeded, this will require daily watering as there's no rain in the forecast for at least a week. I cannot help much in the garden as it looks like the pain issue in my hip/thigh/knee, now three weeks with no resolution, is coming from my lower spine.  A doctor visit yesterday will see me having PT soon - I'm in a lot of pain - and perhaps an injection down the road. 
Aging is not pretty. 

While at the doctor's office Bob and I each received a high-dose flu shot, suggested for the elderly, and then made appointments for the #3 Pfizer COVID booster vaccination on October 6th. We will then feel even safer regarding the pandemic, ready to get on with life and enjoy a bit more freedom to roam hopefully.  A beach weekend this fall would be awesome, and we are looking forward to visiting family in Arizona for Thanksgiving.

Snippets of autumn last year.

If you've been wondering about the house next door - it has sold. In fact it sold just a week after the sign went up, and at a really high price! Our neighbor, who just bought the house 11 months ago, but did do a lot of interior renovations, made a great profit. We are sorry to see him go but wish him luck in his new job in Washington, D.C. His moving truck pulled up this morning and is being loaded as I write. Best news is the buyers are a young couple who will be living here. . . . . not flipping the property, not renting it out, or tearing it down thank goodness!

Not much color in the garden to share, however a late blooming cluster
 of hydrangea blossom was a welcome surprise this past weekend.

I'm assisting my granddaughter Jasmin as she prepares to fly to Alaska for a best friend's wedding. Besides being a bridesmaid she is the official photographer which is really rather awkward.  Fortunately her boyfriend is accompanying her and can help with camera equipment - my fingers are crossed they will have safe flights and good weather.

I'm also cat/house sitting again this week as my other neighbor heads to Massachusetts for a funeral. Unfortunately his fridge/freezer died over the weekend and I've been storing food for him. . . . . .do you have any idea how difficult it is now to even find a replacement appliance? Can you imagine some models cannot even be delivered until end of November.......if you're lucky!  COVID has changed so many things in life and there seems no light at the end of the tunnel yet. Businesses, some many years old, continue to close down, others are struggling with lack of employees.

This morning baby bunny was busy in the garden - all grown up now but staying close by, at least for the time being. 
Look at the size of those back paws - no wonder they can make a fast getaway!


Happy Autumn days to all.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Garden Books ~


Every now and then news of a beautiful book catches my eye.
Not a novel or a best seller on a list, more a special book full of color and
information about a subject I'm interested in.........such as gardens
and gardening.
If you're in the UK I know those of you who are gardeners - probably
 99.9% of the population - are also familiar with a special young
gardener named Arthur Parkinson. 
His newest book is the The Flower Yard.

Arthur's gardens are done entirely in pots and unusual containers, think
dustbins and bathtubs.
Container gardening is the way to go for me in my own future gardening
 years. My back has notified me that I can no longer dig and delve in
 flower beds on my knees!
Mine will not be as awesome as his, especially enormous pots
which I would have trouble lifting, but perhaps a bit larger than what I've 
used previously to fill in spaces in the spring and summer months.
I also will have to forego spectacular bantam hens trotting between my
 pots. . . . . . even though I'd love them.

Arthur insists that it pays to go big with your pots for many reasons 
including watering and feeding requirements. Setting a small pot in a small
 space makes it seen even smaller - so place the biggest pot you can fit into
 a small space to make it look better. Makes sense to me. . . . I definitely
need to start searching for larger containers!

Arthur's first book, The Pottery Gardener, focused on his earlier 
years designing an acclaimed garden for British pottery legend
Emma Bridgewater, for her Stoke-on-Trent factory, following his
 training at Kew Gardens. He also works with Sarah Raven
 in her renowned flower gardens.

This book arrived a couple of days ago. I've just started reading it and
 looking at the beautiful photographs, also taken by Arthur.
It will be enjoyable on the dark and dreary days ahead when
 looking for a good read, along with a cup of tea and a 
shortbread biscuit, in front of the blazing hearth. . . . .after the
garden has been "put to bed" for the winter months.

Happy autumn gardening days to all.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Late September Morning -

The golden days of Autumn have arrived at last - just one cool night and there
is a difference in the morning air, the light, the colors, the feeling, and the view
from the window.

There is a beautiful spirit breathing now.

Its mellow richness on the clustered trees,

And from a beaker full of richest dyes,

Pouring new glory on the Autumn woods. . . . . .

From 'AUTUMN' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~ 1807-1882

Just after sunrise this morning at 7:10 am

September - the seventh month of the old Roman year. 
By the Julian arrangement it became the ninth month, but still
 retained its former name.

I love late September knowing my favorite month of October will soon be here!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Today - remember the mighty Rhino -

Today is International World Rhino Day, an awareness day to acknowledge the five species of Rhinoceros. Rhino day is celebrated every year on September 22 to spread awareness about these wonderful creatures and the work being done to save them from being poached and hunted. The International World Rhino Day 2021 has a special significance since it is the 10th Anniversary. On this day, wildlife lovers across the world honor what is left of the Black, White, Greater One-horned, Sumatran, and Javan Rhinoceros.

The population of the these amazing horned creatures has suffered a massive blow since the increasing effect of climate change in the past decade, and demand for its horns has garnered poachers and hunters to kill these exotic wild animals. As of today, these critically endangered species are on the brink of extinction until steps are taken to save them.

South Africa 2010 - my first viewing of the white Rhinoceros which
 is actually grey, and has a softer squared lip and shorter horn than
 the more ferocious black rhino.

They came this close to us seated in the safari vehicle. 
In the lovely early evening sunlight Gordon, our guide, kept us calm
 as they nibbled their way around us before wandering off.
A very special memory of my first wonderful visit to Africa.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Creatures great and small -

Our resident gecko Charlie actually tapped on the dining room window
one morning this week! I was quite startled to see him looking at me
through the glass - grabbed my phone to get these photos.
He then crawled around the outdoor chairs for a while finally leaping
 into the Boston fern on the front porch table - I believe that potted
fern is his home.
He was golden in color that day, other days he's quite green - 
a magnificent little creature, and hopefully keeping the unwanted
 insect population down.

. . . . . .and also visiting 

. . . . . .much larger, both in size and number, are the grey squirrels, 
who are actually always present around here.
Autumn's almost here and they are hungry for hickory nuts and
acorns, both of which look plentiful this year.  
The larger hickory nuts have been falling for a couple of weeks, 
acorns just starting but will rain down from our oaks in the coming

Are you noticing a lot of wildlife in your garden as autumn arrives?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Gardening in the autumn months -

We started this garden almost 25 years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Fran. It looked like a war zone then! With $2.4 billion in damage and 13 deaths, North Carolina was hit hard, not just the coastal region but inland also. Our damage was substantial during that horrible, frightening night. My car was crushed by an oak falling on it in the driveway, and many large oak trees fell around the house necessitating a new roof, but thankfully we were not injured. What was formerly just a natural heavily treed area in back became a new project. After assistance with clearing and preparing the lot, Bob and I have done much of the work ourselves over the years. It's amazing how quickly trees, shrubs, and plants grow, even with limited sunlight. We still have a thick overhead canopy of trees despite the ones that fell and the removal later of several tall but dangerous pines on our property. Surrounding us are many trees in neighbors' yards impacting our space. This year we removed a few more large trees to get more sunshine into the back garden to help the small grassy area. Now, slightly overgrown, the privets are more the size of small trees than shrubs and are blending into the azaleas. Heavy pruning is on that lengthy garden 'to do' list come the correct time to go at the shrubs with tools and vigor!  

It's harder now and that so true quotation comes to mind  

often . . . . . "a garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever."

Changes through these long months of 2021 . . . . . . . 

~ Early morning autumn light ~

Preparing soon for the cold days ahead. Last year's wood pile is depleted,
more to be delivered soon.
The trees have yet to change color, the leaves yet to fall on the autumn 
breezes. The season of rust, red and gold comes later here because
 the temperatures remain high into October.
Patience.  A quick meditation break with deep breathing seems to work
in mid-afternoon. Clear the mind. Reboot and refresh. Sharpen and
refocus thoughts. Make plans. Keep forging ahead.

Enjoy your Sunday.
~ Hugs ~

Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Memory Like No Other -

I recall it so vividly.  
We had flown in from Florida late the previous night after
taking granddaughter Jasmin, almost five, to Disney World. 
I was dressing her that morning when the phone rang and we
 were told to turn on the television but not to let Jasmin watch.

I will never forget. I will never understand how there can be
 such cruelty in the world.
Today, 20 years later, watching the horror of that day again
 is very hard.

We must never forget that day.
God Bless America.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Memories of Kenya -

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky" 
Kahlil Gibran

FRICA awaited. . . . . . . 

September 2016 - a safari in beautiful Kenya.

This time, five years ago, we were readying today for another trip to the African continent. 
Our first time to Kenya, and sadly our last most likely, it was another fantastic safari to remember.

The animals were unbelievable, however I was also struck by the trees. 
So few scattered across the plain, so little shade provided, but sometimes
 a home to birds who wove incredible colonies of hanging nests; whose trunk
 hid a sleek cheetah waiting to make that lightning speed run to grab its meal
 for the day; and a place for the leopard to climb and hang its prey across
 a branch out of the reach of other predators, then returning and climbing
 the tree for several days to eat.

This was one of several Maasai Mara 'desert date' trees (Balanites aegyptiaca
 I photographed. Here you get the true feeling of how few trees there are across
the vast Maasai Mara plain.

Today I'm looking out at our trees here in the cottage garden.
Still green and beautiful but soon to change color as autumn weather
arrives. Leaves will fall, carpet the garden in gold, orange, rust and red.
There will be few hiding places in the bare branches for the visiting hawk;
beloved garden birds will be more visible coming to the feeders; 
squirrels, unimpeded, will perform gymnastics, gather acorns, and
 fatten up for winter.

Maasai Mara - Kenya 2016

"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a
 singing bird will come"
Chinese proverb

Friday, September 3, 2021

Writing and wondering -

I certainly don't sit around looking this glamorous when in a writing mood!
If you could see me now, early morning, I've thrown on wrinkled linen beach pants
 and a basic grey tee shirt to limp across the damp grass to feed and water 
Nala cat next door again while her owner is lounging at the seaside for a few days.
I would like to be there too - I so need a beach and ocean view for a change.
Limp? Yes, have pulled something in thigh/leg whilst trying to organize a 
lower kitchen cabinet, paying for it now.
I have an affinity for envelopes . . . and writing paper . . . and cards.  
I still take pleasure in writing to people via snail mail but admit to
reverting to email more than I should because it's fast and the recipient
gets the message immediately.  But it's nowhere near as exciting as 
going to the mailbox at the street, or hearing an envelope drop to 
the hallway floor through a letterbox!

Speaking of mailboxes at the street - which are of course mostly 'American' -
here you can see my next door neighbor's box, on the other side of us, but
also note a realtor installing a FOR SALE sign . . . . . . yet again!!!!!

Our really great new neighbor has only lived there since last October and, 
in that short time, has done some incredible interior renovations to update
 the house. We were shocked and sad when he told us he would be putting
 the house on the market as he has taken a job in Washington D.C. and
will be moving. Being in a 'hot area' for housing, with many small older 
homes in the neighborhood being razed and replaced by larger, 
high-priced ones, we are once again concerned as to what might
 happen next door.

Will keep you updated on this of course.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

September morning and it's raining -----

My baby bunny is growing! I was really concerned we had lost it to the hawk
 who visits the fig tree. Yesterday, while watering, bunny popped out of the
 large pot of ivy - the one on the left of the bird bath and potted hydrangea
 in the photo below. It hopped across the lawn to the acer and munched
 on grass for some time - long enough to get my camera and catch a little
 mouth wiping with a soft paw, so sweet.

As expected, rain arrived today. 
Remnants of Hurricane Ida have reached North Carolina, bringing us
 much-needed moisture, a little this morning, heavier with possible wind
 and storms later this afternoon and evening, so we'll be battening down the
 hatches until around midnight when it should all be over. 
Then a few days to look forward to with sunshine and lower temperatures
 at long last.

Welcome to the lovely month of September.