Monday, January 31, 2022

Memoirs - RMS Queen Mary and Me!

News over the weekend included a story of the 'rescue' 
of this beautiful and historic ocean liner which is dear
 to my own heart.

RMS Queen Mary - docked in Long Beach, California

"The landmark Queen Mary ocean liner, owned by the City of Long Beach and a popular tourist attraction and hotel, will be closed to the public for much of 2022 as it undergoes $5 million in “critical repairs.” 

This is good news for fans of the historic ship. After the city took control of the rundown vessel from a financially strapped leaseholder last year, one option under consideration was sinking the ship. The 88-year-old Art Deco-style ocean liner, which has been permanently docked in Long Beach since 1967, has been closed since May 2020 due to COVID-19. The repairs are expected to begin in February, with the plan to reopen Queen Mary to visitors by the end of the year.  A first step in the repair, and expected to be a two-week project, will be removing deteriorating lifeboats. "The lifeboats exert stress on the side shell of the ship which has created severe cracks in the support system,” the city said in its statement. “Removing the deteriorated lifeboats will enhance the structural stability of the ship."  Since the lifeboats are historic objects, Long Beach plans to preserve two for future display and to temporarily store 13 others, while seeing if there is interest from museums or other non-profits that want to preserve the boats.  Other projects include the installation of new permanent bilge pumps to discharge water in the event of an emergency, with additional repairs to follow.  The Queen Mary is a popular filming location, and during the repair period the city still plans to welcome film crews, a move that officials said would help “generate revenue to support the ship operations.”      via The Points Guy website

RMS Queen Mary in her heyday, sailing out of New York and headed to Southampton, England.

The RMS Queen Mary, built during the height of transatlantic ocean travel, sailed more than a million miles and transported over 2 million guests over a career spanning 30 years.  Built by Cunard as a the bigger and more powerful of two ships, the luxury liners and sometimes cruise ships, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth reigned as a pair providing weekly express transatlantic service.  

February 25, 2006 - the two Queen Marys met for the first time!

This is yours truly just after boarding RMS Queen Mary for my
first transatlantic sea crossing home to England from New York to 
spend Christmas 1964 with my family. Two years earlier I came
 to the USA by air to work in Washington, D.C.
Since then I have sailed on many ships and had many adventures
at sea, but this first memory of crossing an ocean in the bitter
 cold of winter has definitely stayed with me.
The ship was taken out of service in 1967 and has been docked
 in Long Beach ever since.

Today I decided to treat myself to this book.
It's an older book and hard to find at an affordable price - today I
 was lucky and have found a used one online, hardcover, and
supposedly in 'good condition' - I've had it on my 'wish list' for
 several years.  Reviews are awesome - I'll let you know when
it arrives, I'm excited.
I'm missing ships and sailing so reading about them will fill the
 void for now.


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Flying, folding and food!

One of our resident Carolina wrens is very chatty today. 
Perhaps it knows more about the weather than 
the local meteorologists! I've noticed how the garden birds
 act differently when inclement weather is on the way or has
 arrived. . . . . . . . . . . . . .especially snow!
Yes, our third weekend in a row with snow which started 
at midnight Friday. At 7 AM yesterday I awoke to just a dusting, 
nothing like they are experiencing north of us!
Stay safe all of you who live in the New York-Boston-New England
areas where unbelievable snow accumulation is breaking records!

Meanwhile, books of all types seem to be central to my life
this weekend, especially cook books - searching for new recipes to 
try on the cold days, such as 19F here this morning, and more
 very cold nights expected through the coming days.
Soups and veggie stews are best.

I prefer bright crinkled Savoy cabbage when making a soup
and, although you can't see them here, the carrots had their lovely
green feathery leaves attached. I usually add at least some of
 them for added nutrients - Vitamins C & K and Potassium.

It turned out well with layers of flavor not usual in a vegetable
soup, such as a splash of unfiltered apple cider vinegar to wake up
 and enhance the other flavors, a piece of Parmesan cheese rind
 to enrich the vegetable broth, (always keep those when you cut them 
off your wedge of cheese as they are very useful - just seal in a bag
 and keep in the fridge, or freezer). 
Cold nights - hot soup - a blazing fire on the hearth.

While doing a little dusting - and oh how dusty it gets in these
 winter months when burning wood in an open hearth - other books
 I've been observing are these that I 'folded' some years ago.
I enjoyed doing that with old hardcover books picked up for a
 dollar or so at thrift shops and used book stores.


This morning was bitter early on but the sun is out now and it going to warm 
up to 44F.  A few patches of snow remain and the birds are still hungry. 
Many are coming to feed and drink.The sweet female Eastern bluebird
visited the front porch, and and male Northern flicker spent at least 10 minutes
 on the suet block - his first visit to the garden in quite a while.

Hope everyone is safe during the stormy weather.
Stay warm and here's hoping February will be a better month!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Earthly Delights. . . . .


My little 'garden of 'earthly delights'
surprises every morning when I raise the
 blinds and the early light of day shines in.

The hyacinth bulb has babies popping out - fitting a family
 into the vase is now difficult!
I must keep an eye on it so it won't fall over.
Perfume is almost overwhelming.......and I love it.

Welcome to these sunny mornings.
Apple Blossom amaryllis still a delight.
Basil being snipped for supper dishes.
Slow going in the other pots but I can wait - what
 else is there to do!

Are you an indoor gardener in winter?
I hope you have lovely perfumed blooms brightening
 your long, cold days.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Something in the winter air -

We've been treated to many beautiful sunrises during these winter months. 
I think today's stunning colors painting the morning sky were perhaps the 
loveliest to date. These really were the colors, I did not enhance them other
 than wee bit of sharpening. I did throw on a robe and socks to hurry outside
 with a real camera while at the peak of color, and a better view than
 through a window. Sunrises don't last long!

The birds continued to hang out all day yesterday and are back
this morning.  
The Northern Mockingbird seems to have made itself at home. 
A quite large 10" bird, male and female are identical, and
 young males often sing at night and imitate other bird songs
 (vocal mimicry). Here in the Carolinas they are non-migrators
 enjoying insects, fruit and obviously seeds here on the front porch.

I've found them to be an easy bird to photograph as they stand still
long enough and are not skittish. 

I noted that the Mockingbird and Carolina wren seemed to enjoy being 
together - they are two of my favorite birds.
The cul-de-sac was a mess yesterday afternoon as vehicles turned the slush
into ruts and they froze overnight. This afternoon we are almost completely
clear of snow and ice - the temperature has warmed to a pleasant 50F with
 brilliant sunshine and blue skies.

Many thanks for the great comments on the bird photos of yesterday. 
I took so many - don't be surprised if more pop up here in the days
 to come!  I was happy to share them and I'm really pleased to know so
 many of you enjoy garden birds.

Off now to bake an apple and blackberry galette - we are cutting back
 on sugar and haven't had a real dessert for a week!

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Snow Day means birds!

Yes, we have real snow this morning. Enough on the ground
to make tracks, attract wildlife looking for food and water, and
take photos of beautiful birds doing what birds do on a cold 
snowy morning.
I was up ready with my camera right after sunrise
Snow around here means birds. 
A lot of birds!
We prepared the feeding stations yesterday afternoon as it did
seem certain snow would fall last night.

Here's a list of the birds I've seen today. Male and female
 of most species, some the same color others total different, but
certainly an amazing array of colors and sizes, each enjoying their
choice of feeding, on the ground, on the seed and suet feeders, and
on the porch floor and porch rails outside the dining room window.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee
Eastern Bluebird
 Northern Cardinal
Tufted Titmouse
Eastern Towhee
Carolina Wren 
Blue Jay
Mourning Dove
House Finch
Dark-eyed Junco
American Robin
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown-headed Cowbird
Song Sparrow
House Sparrow
Pine Siskin


No, not a bird, but he's a really good vacuum cleaner after
they've eaten!

I took an awful lot of photos today, so many in fact I had a real problem 
with iCloud loading them on my laptop - some were from my iPhone, most 
from my camera which may have slowed the transfer down.
Anyway, here's a later than planned post with some of the birds who
 visited today - even if you're not really a huge bird lover, I think you might
 enjoy seeing them on a perfect winter's day.