Saturday, September 23, 2023

Sunflowers, seeds and squirrels at Summer's end -


Some days back, in heat, but not too hot, in sunshine shaded by clouds in the Carolina Blue sky, we gathered our garden tools, put on gloves and hats, and went on a mission in the garden. Taking down the last sunflower was quite a job. Even with the last couple of feet bent and bowing to the earth, this fading beauty was still quite a monster, the huge head of seeds very heavy. The stem required the big loppers, no basic pruners could make a gash in it let alone cut through it.  Bob is almost 6 feet so I'm guessing the sunflower was around ten feet.  Why I never thought to stretch it out on the ground to measure it before cutting it up I don't know. Blame it on two older gardeners' just wanting to get the job done and the mess cleaned up! After all, there were other things waiting, the fried hydrangeas to clip, potted plants to toss, bird baths to clean and replenish, feeders to fill, and watering to do.

I've saved some of the seeds from this huge sunflower.  I made sure the seeds were clean and dry and have stored them in a glass jar.  There's no way I desire to plant an entire field of sunflowers next Spring. . . . . . . so I will be sharing these seeds with neighbors and friends who might enjoy them.

The sunflower head I left tucked into the garden bench - as I did with the former ones we cut down - and of course it didn't take long for the squirrels and birds to discover a feast!

We are currently under a severe flood watch here in central North Carolina.  Early this morning Hurricane Ophelia made landfall at the coast. Winds have been gusty bringing power outages and fallen trees - fortunately neither here at our home - but fingers are still crossed! However, the rain has been torrential and will continue another 2-3 hours.  Yesterday Bob mowed the brown dried out grass, and blew the newly fallen leaves and acorns. Today brilliant green grass has returned and he'll be out there again tomorrow with the leaf blower once things have dried out.

Autumn has arrived - I'm happy - but hurricane activity is always worrisome.
Stay safe if you are being impacted by bad weather.

Monday, September 18, 2023

New Bern in rain and shine -

We were at the North Carolina coast for a couple of days.
The sea air, mixed with some very heavy rain the first day,
cleared the cobwebs and brought some time to relax, meet
 up with old friends. . . . . .and make a few new ones.  

New Bern, North Carolina’s second oldest town, was founded in
 1710 by Swiss nobleman, Christoph von Graffenried, and named
 after his native city of Berne, Switzerland. Bern means “bear” and the
 “Bern Bear” symbol is seen on its flag. Throughout the city you will
 see many creative Bear Town Bears.

New Bern is a riverfront city near the North Carolina coast. 
The Tryon Palace complex includes a replica of the state's
 1st capitol, historic homes, gardens and the North Carolina
 History Center. 
The Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola is the drugstore where the
 drink was invented in the 1890s. 

Love the town of New Bern, NC
This historic home is on the market but requires so much work.
Hopefully someone with deep pockets will adopt her, restore her, 
and bring back her beauty of long ago.

Waiting for the storm to pass.

Morning brought sunshine. . . . . but the boats stayed put. Don't you
wonder why so many people buy boats but never seem to use them?

More on this lovely bookshop, and the owner, coming soon!

Friday, September 8, 2023

This week - hot and hotter!

I long for the ending of this year's Summer season. It has been nothing but endless days of breathtaking dry heat. Carrying a water bottle is sensible. I usually forget mine, so end up with throat issues as I become dehydrated after just a short time outdoors. Yesterday we ran some errands in 102F, not smart. The heat shimmered across the concrete parking lots, getting back into the car was like plunging into a furnace. I was thankful for my air conditioned leather seats. We ended the afternoon in a favorite wine bar before heading to the house for supper. I ordered a crystal clear glass of icy cold rosé and requested a glass of water - he brought me a large chilled bottle.

The house is cool and walking in refreshing. Meals are quick with no long prep. Roasting, boiling, frying, not in the cards lately. Even a tomato sandwich with a slice of fresh mozzarella and a bright green salad is satisfying on a hot night.

I've done little around the house this summer. Need to downsize stuff. Editing knick knacks will be a winter project, again! That said I have a few new to me items on the walls!  My wonderful neighbor has moved. He and his kitty Ms. Nala, whom you may recall I often cared for when he traveled, have a new home. We will miss him being next door, but he'll be around a lot as he's keeping the house and renting it to a family member.  He gifted me with this beautiful antique mirror and two winter landscape paintings. He knew I always loved these when they hung in his house. He's kind and thoughtful and has always been there for us in the last ten years.

Meanwhile, I'm pulling out autumn/winter weight clothes for the upcoming trip across the pond. It will be cooler there for certain. I will love that. The collapsible rack is at the ready. I hang things there daily while deciding what I will pack later. Each day different items appear as others disappear back into drawers and closets. Decisions as to what to take - and fit into one suitcase - is the hardest part of a journey for me, and it never gets any easier!  Going home soon.

When I dig back through memory cells, I get one particularly distinctive feeling - and that's one of warmth, comfort and well-being. For whatever else I may have had, or lost, or will find - I've still got a hometown. This, nobody's gonna take away from me. 

Rod Serling

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Golden days in paradise -


Some people confuse Ragweed and Goldenrod and blame both for their
 allergic reactions. Ragweed is the culprit not goldenrod. They are
 completely different plants and look quite different. Goldenrod is a
 perennial and ragweed is an annual.
Goldenrod does not cause seasonal allergies. The most likely cause of 
your sneezing and runny nose is ragweed pollen. Ragweed is a rather
 insignificant-looking weed that blooms at the same time as goldenrod. 
It is wind pollinated and disperses large amounts of pollen into the air.

Solidago, commonly called goldenrod, is a genus of several species of
 flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. Most are herbaceous perennial 
species found in open areas such as meadows, prairies, and savannas. 
They are mostly native to North America, including Mexico; a few species
 are native to South America and Eurasia.  Some American species have
 also been introduced into Europe and other parts of the world.

An important source of nectar for so many pollinators
—such as butterflies
 and native bees—goldenrod is especially crucial to the winter survival of
 many honeybees. Its pollen adds considerable amounts of protein, fats,
 and minerals to the late-season diet of the bees.

I know you're wondering where I took these photos of a meadow full of goldenrod.

Some of you already know Jeanne of Tahilla Farm in New Hampshire. 
Many years ago when we were all young, fresh, new bloggers, we followed 
Jeanne on her first blog Collage of Life. Her life as an ex-pat took her and her
 family to live in amazing places - Australia, New Zealand, England, Vietnam
 and China . . . . . and we bloggers loved following along. Personally, I have to
 admit to feeling envious that she was this amazing person who could pack up
 her life, her four children, dog, sun hats, books, and furniture and move
 seemingly overnight to another country in the footsteps of her husband. 
Of course now knowing Jeanne better, and having spent the most enjoyable
 times together since she settled back in the US, I understand that it really 
was a lot of hard work.

Now retired, Jeanne and her very special Mr. H, have made their home back in
New England where they started out, and this is their beautiful farm property.
I feel so fortunate that I have been a guest here in all seasons except winter.
Seeing Tahilla's landscape change colors under the shadow of the distant 
mountain range, in rain and sunshine, has been a true blessing. I just wish I 
lived closer.

You can follow Jeanne and enjoy her wonderful writing and photographs
 on her website ~

Tahilla Farm, New Hampshire

I was here just over a week ago.
Jeanne very kindly gave me permission to share my photos of the
 farm with you.
Thank you Jeanne - see you next time!

Saturday, August 26, 2023



Do you iron shirts?  After unpacking from the New England trip I had the usual pile of laundry to deal with including Bob's shirts.  He always says "don't bother to iron all those" and I always reply "I'm not allowing you to go out in wrinkled shirts."  

I quite enjoy ironing, it gives me time to think about other things. I park the ironing board - a sturdy metal one I've probably used for at least 40 years - in the kitchen facing toward the large window looking out into the back garden. Currently it's not a pretty sight after one of the hottest summers ever here. The grass is brown, the trees are already dropping yellowed leaves, the bird feeders are empty and the birdbaths dry to keep away the mosquitoes. There has been very little rain and swarms of ants are massing everywhere searching for moisture. We need a break from high temperatures, we need a good heavy rain to wash everything down and to refresh the shrubs. I also notice we need to attend to a lot of work out there in the coming year or so, it's never ending and hard keeping up.

Early morning at Midtown

Thursday was a busy day. I had an early morning appointment to renew my driver license and some shopping to do. We also had to use a complimentary hotel night this week. It would have expired on Friday so we took off on a 'staycation' late Thursday afternoon. Despite just returning from the ten day trip, we packed a small bag and hustled over to the now huge 'Midtown Raleigh' area just minutes from the house and checked in to a hotel there. Sounds somewhat stupid but we had no need to go far. We settled in, watched young people hanging out at the pool below our windows, then decided to go to our favorite Thai restaurant for supper. A lengthy walk followed around the development which continues to grow with massive hi-rise buildings, including the tall 36 floor apartment building in above photo, shops, restaurants, open park/music venue etc. When we moved here in 1977 this area was still partially undeveloped time has changed the landscape.

I noticed that Bob's checked summer shirts mimic the skyscrapers
 appearing all across downtown Raleigh, and now here in our quiet, 
once low profile neighborhood, renamed Midtown Raleigh.
It's called progress. Bob's all for it, I'm upset by it.  

Theatre date tonight. A lively sounding production titled 'CURTAINS' - advertised
 as "a witty, hilarious, musical whodunit".  I'm ready for a laugh and looking
 forward to it.

Friday, August 25, 2023


"One day we will remember how lucky we were to have known her love with wonder, not grief."

Many a chair stands empty in homes where a loved one was taken far too early.
When I go home to England in October to see my family and friends, 
one dear person will be missing, the lovely daughter of my dear cousin.
Denise passed this week after such a long battle with health issues - MS for 
many, many years, breast cancer a couple of years ago, then a severe stroke
 a few weeks ago. 
She was a fighter. She was stoic. She remained positive in her outlook.
She kept a sense of humor. She was loved by all, especially her husband, 
parents and brother. . . . . . and we three second cousins and our families.
My family is not large compared to some but we are close and get together
as much as possible. For me it's harder being so far away, however I do try to
 get home to the UK annually to see my loved ones.
Denise was so special and much loved. 
May she now rest peacefully in a good place.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Home again -

Have to say going away in summertime is not the best idea when it
 comes to maintaining a garden.  
Granddaughter did what she could with some visits to check the house
 and drag the hose around in close to 100F. Not easy when we have
 such a vast amount of shrubbery and plants all calling out for a
 much-needed drink as the sun beats down day after day from that
 'Carolina Blue' sky. . . . . . . .and hardly a raindrop fell in the ten
days we were gone.


More stories from New England visit to come, meanwhile I'm off to turn on
 those hoses and do some serious watering this morning before it gets too
 hot. As you can see, the jolly golden sunflowers have passed their prime,
now look baked and dry. One can say that there's still a kind of beauty 
in the shriveled petals and leaves, aging brings patina and wrinkles to
 everything. . . . . . one has to accept this and know there's always
 next spring and early summer when at least the garden
will be renewed!

It's good to be home.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Hello from New England -

Just a quick post!
As most of you know, the New England states are not strangers to me.
I lived in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for 12 years when first
 married. Bob took me to live in his hometown, Manchester, NH. 
I spent summers on the beautiful beaches of Maine, time in Vermont 
enjoying the countryside and mountains. Boston was the place when
 city life was required for a change of pace.
Almost every year since moving south to North Carolina, 46 years ago,
we've returned here to visit family, friends. . . . . . and favorite places that 
remain in our memories. There's nothing like 'the old days' and, although
the city is not the same, we still enjoy rambling around!

Our trip to the coast of New Hampshire and Maine is always the best. 
We had a wonderful time in perfect weather, around 80F and no 
Look across the beach and you can see Cape Neddick with the lighthouse.

Nubble Lighthouse, Cape Neddick, York, Maine.
A really beautiful spot to sit, relax, and just look out across the water,
grateful for so much in life.

Enjoying this trip, as always.
Eating good seafood. . . . . . . in fact just leaving the hotel now for
another favorite restaurant in town. I can already taste a fresh broiled 
 haddock dish which I'll enjoy as I haven't eaten since breakfast!
More another day.