Friday, February 5, 2016

Hair Wreath

Last weekend, Ward and I decided we wanted to get out of the house for the afternoon. Recently, our outing of choice has been a hike. However, with snow and rain, we guessed the woods were too muddy/snowy for us, so we visited a local historic museum.

Living within an hour or two of Washington, DC and Baltimore, we have MANY very significant museums and monuments to visit as well as current government workings such as the Library of Congress or the Capitol. And much of it is free. Thus, sometimes the smaller local offerings get overlooked. Our recent visit was to one of those.

We toured a house built in 1815. In many ways, this house was like others we have visited. There was a grand entry way and a decorative dining room that was built to impress. The bedrooms were filled with fireplaces, four poster beds, and chamber pots.

However, there was one thing in this house that I don't remember seeing before--a hair wreath (just like it sounds, a wreath made out of hair). Even though they were common during Victorian times and there are quite a few still around, awareness of them somehow escaped me.  I had seen a lock of hair incorporated into a piece of jewelry but not something this large and intricate.

At first, I thought this was a wreath of dried plants instead of hair.

The wreaths were often used to remember a deceased family member, however the one we saw was used to commemorate a wedding. It included hair from several different family members as was often the case. It also won a ribbon at the county fair which I think was well deserved for the intricate work I saw.

The hair was often worked around wire.

I've just touched on the tip of the iceberg of this whole world of hair wreaths and I'm not sure how I feel about them. It seems a little odd by today's standards.  For now, I think I'm content to just have my hair woven into a bird's nest. :)

Want to know more?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Second Look--February 3, 2016

We have had warm weather the last few days which has really helped in melting the the large snowfall we had last week. In some places we're actually starting to see the ground. All of this melting snow has helped bring some of the outdoors in--meaning we have swarming ants in our basement.  Normally, I don't mind a few bugs in the house, but this is just too many. We're still working on getting rid of them.

Most of my Second Look has been done through the windows again, so it involves birds and squirrels. The excitement this week came from a Northern Flicker visit. I don't remember ever seeing one at my house even though they are not a rare bird.  Disappointingly, it hasn't returned.

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker



Male Cardinal

Turkey Vulture

Gray Squirrel

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Thankful Sunday--January 31, 2016

I am thankful for Buzzr TV.

A few months ago, we started to get Buzzr TV which is a channel that plays only old game shows. It's good for some mindless fun from time to time whether it is a trip down memory lane with Monty Hall and The Price is Right or watching new-to-me shows* like I've Got a Secret and What's My Line.

I find it particularly interesting to see how the old game shows worked with chalkboards and cardboard signs. No flashing lights or music for drama--just game playing. And some good playing at that. This channel also plays the original commercials that aired with the game shows. After watching several, it seems to me that commercials from 50 years ago were more about convincing you that they had a good product than entertaining you like today. For example, one was a man shaving the fuzz off a peach with a Remington razor.  No sports heroes or funny lines--just a man shaving a peach. And when he was done, I was convinced that a Remmington razor could give a close, gentle shave.

All and all, I feel like I'm watching a piece of cultural history when I watch these old shows. That was especially evident yesterday when I saw an episode of I've Got a Secret that introduced Velcro to most of the country for the first time.** The contestant's secret was that she could walk on the ceiling. She demonstrated this by hanging upside down with only the help of Velcro. She appeared with a space technology engineer who was using Velcro to develop things for astronauts.

So all my life, I've heard about Velcro and the space program and yesterday I saw how most of the country learned about this. It was really cool. And for Buzzr TV letting me see this bit of our history, I am thankful.

*I have heard of these shows, but have not seen most of them before.

**Original air date was January 1, 1962.

But wait, there's more:
Contrary to popular belief, NASA did not develop Velcro. It was developed in 1948 by Swiss engineer, George de Mestral. He patented it in 1955. However, NASA did develop many uses for it in the space program and helped popularize it. Velcro first became commercially available in the late 1950's.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hungry Birds

During the recent snowfall and afterwards, we have had almost constant visitors to our bird feeders. When snow is not covering the ground, the usual pattern is to see a flurry of activity for a short period followed by longer periods of inactivity. The snow cover changed that. I didn't see anything exotic, but over the last couple of days I have seen most of the common backyard birds that visit my feeder in the winter.

Below are pictures of those visitors. There are more pictures than I usually include, but this is the place I'm recording what I saw. Also, the quality of some of the pictures may be less than desired, but those darn birds don't always hold still while I get the camera.

There were usually multiple birds at the feeder at any one time.

Dark-eyed Junco (These birds were everywhere.)

Mourning Dove

White-breasted nuthatch

White breasted Nuthatch (This is a more typical view than the fluffed out bird above. Lighting makes a big difference in the colors, doesn't it? First one is in the snow and the second picture is in the sun.)


House Finch

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Carolina Wren

Downy Woodpecker


Female Cardinal and Dark eyed Junco

Male Cardinal

Black-capped Chickadee

Blue Jay

White Throated Sparrow

Tufted Titmouse

Hawk (Ward saw it fly into this distant tree otherwise, it's hard to tell what it is.)

Cowbird and juncos

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Day After the Storm

Today we woke up to clear skies and crisp air after Blizzard Jonas dumped over two feet of snow on us Friday and Saturday. It was time to emerge from the house and try to dig out. By afternoon we could get our car out if we had to in case of emergency. That was the goal. We're lucky that the farmer at the end of the street brought out his front end loader and helped.

Here are a few pictures from today. Unfortunately, it's hard to get an idea of deep the snow really is. But it was deep. For us, anyway. Another time I will show you many of the birds that visited us during the storm.

One of the lucky things about the storm was that the wind blew most of the snow off the tree limbs. Before the storm, they predicted the wind would blow down snow-laden limbs on lines and cause power outages. However there were very few outages in this area associated with the storm. You can see the oak tree in front of house is mostly bare.

Here's Ward shoveling the first pathway down the driveway. 

Luckily, our neighbor came to clear his mother's driveway with his front end loader. Her driveway is directly across the street from ours. In the process of trying to find places to put the snow from her house, he cleared some of our driveway, too. Yea!

I took a walk in the neighborhood to see if I could make it out to the main road. I made it and found the main road mostly wet. Our street went from barely passable to seeing blacktop like in this picture. However, the small side streets hadn't been touched. I think our neighbor cleared what had been done. 

Late afternoon, the blue skies got some high clouds.

The backyard remains largely untouched at this point. I'm not sure where the deer rode out the storm.