Saturday, August 11, 2018

While I Was Gone

I went away for a few days recently and after a long drive, we arrived home after dark. The next day I was curious to see what had happened in our yard while we were gone. That's part of my routine after we go away. Unload the car, scan the mail, and check out the yard. A Second Look, so to speak. We were gone less than a week, but it was surprising to see some of the changes that happened in that short amount of time.

Here is a tour of some of the things I found.

The weather was hot and humid while we were gone with lots of rain. The begonias in front of the house thrived and had grown.

However, the pumpkin vine in the back did not survive. This was a volunteer and we had decided to let it grow wherever it wanted. It was a beautiful healthy vine when we left. 

But the zinnia along the same walk took off while we were gone. Other zinnias, planted in pots on the deck, looked only slightly better than the pumpkin vine.

The dill in the same bed also had a lot of new blooms. Before this, I had been trying to cut the blooms so it wouldn't go to seed too soon. However the bees are enjoying the new blossoms, so I may just leave them. This was also a volunteer that I transplanted from another spot.

Around the side of the house, I found grape hyacinth leaves that were coming up.

Close to there, I found the first coneflower that had all of its petals intact.  Something has been munching down on all of the coneflowers' petals making them look like Morticia Addams has been around.

In the same bed, more Black-Eyed-Susans had bloomed, but something is starting to eat the petals. Maybe our muncher has moved on from the coneflowers.

Moving away from the house, I went to check on some newly planted hostas. There I found the deer  had visited while we were gone. Another place they ate a tomato plant until it looked like no more than a stick in the ground.

Also in the back part of the yard, mushrooms had sprung up.

Moving up to the deck, the sunflower had several new blooms. This was a volunteer, too, from the bird feeders.

The bird feeders were empty.  So I filled them and made new nectar for the hummingbird feeder. 

There will be seed in the feeders as long as this squirrel and his buddies are content to eat sunflower seeds dropped into the grass. But I don't expect that to last for long. Why should they work at picking seeds out of the grass when they usually lay on the bottom of the bird feeder above and munch away?

I don't have pictures to show you everything else I found such as new poison ivy, half of an azalea bush that had died, and nearby canna lilies and marigolds which were doing well. I also found an empty bird nest, so I hope the babies successfully fledged while we were gone. And the most interesting thing I discovered was a sled filled with rainwater and hundreds of tadpoles swimming in it.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Thankful Sunday--July 29,2018

I am thankful for an afternoon with my sisters.

A large crowd of men and women standing on a wooden pier.
To celebrate my recent birthday, my sisters took me to the movies today. A movie treat is something we used to regularly do for each others birthdays, but somehow we had gotten out of the habit. Today the tradition began again. They took me to see "Mama Mia! Here We Go Again" and I thoroughly it. No complicated plot here, just a feel good movie, with fun songs, and visually stunning scenery. For this special treat and afternoon with my sisters, I am thankful.

Friday, July 27, 2018

This and That

I think most of us have a stream of consciousness that has thoughts skipping along to various places. Sometimes on a straight path and sometimes not. Here's a little of my stream of consciousness. Well not really a straight stream of consciousness, because that wouldn't be understandable to the outside world, but certainly some random thoughts that floating around in my head.

A dust kitty I swept up
this morning in the cat's room.
--While I was sweeping the cat room in the basement, I swept a lot of dust bunnies that were actually filled with cat hair. Which got me thinking, why are they called "dust bunnies" and not some other furry animal. I spent a while cruising around the internet looking for some answers with no conclusion. The term has been around for hundreds of years or was first used in the 1950's or 1960's. The most logical guess as to why they were called "dust bunnies" was that they were furry like a bunny and multiply like rabbits. Makes sense but they are called different names in other countries. In Hungry, apparently they are called "dust kittens". I think that's the term I'm going to use because my dust balls are made up of 80% cat hair.

--When did my legs get so short? Since we moved into our new house, we have not had a full length mirror, so it has been a struggle to see the bottom half of my body. Ward put one up for my birthday last week in our bedroom where I now see my entire reflection frequently. And every time the first thing that I think is that my legs are short. I've always known that I've had a long torso so I don't know why it would be a surprise to me that they are short compared to the rest of my body. Or maybe it's my imagination or maybe Ward put up a fun house mirror just for kicks.

Image result for short legs long torso
That would be me in the middle.
--And speaking of long torsos, I've decided it's time for me to get a swimsuit that fits. I'm not a big pool or beach person, but I really should have something to wear if the occasion to wear one comes up. I've been thinking this for several years. Well, my sister told me about a online sale for swimsuits the other day and I took the plunge (pun attended). However, I had no idea what size to get. And my measurements of bust, waist, hips, and torso didn't really help. I measured a 6, 8, 10. 12 with the torso being the largest. I did my best to average out the sizes and ordered something. It hasn't come yet. We'll see if it is anything close to fitting when it comes.

--Is there preference of a floating floor vs. a glued floor when they are being installed over concrete? We've had a lot of heavy rain recently. A whole lot. In fact, we're having heavy rain right now with a thunderstorm. With all of this rain, we got some water in the basement. Unfortunately, it was in the Theo's bedroom. We ended up cutting out part of the wet carpet from there and don't plan to put carpet back down. We think the water problem came from a faulty window well, but haven't been able to get any wet basement experts out to look at it. Guess what? They're swamped (pun attended again) with work and won't be able to work us in for a while even for just an estimate. Anyway, we think we can fix the floor in the meantime and are considering our options. Having one bedroom currently out of commission is complicating the sleeping arrangements with the visitors we're having next week.

And along these lines, need to go check to see if any water is seeping in. As best as we can figure out, seepage occurs when we have wind blowing in a certain direction which is happening now. Every bit of evidence we can amass will help understand the problem.

Things look busy for a while with company and then a trip, so

Until next time....

Monday, July 23, 2018

Bird Wars

Those sweet little birds with their cheerful songs also have a dark side when it is time to reproduce. Then all is fair in love and war and reproduction. I've been seeing some evidence of this, this spring and summer in my two nest boxes. Below is some of the drama. See if you can follow along.

It all started at the beginning of May when a wren started to build a nest in Box A.
The twigs and white spots are typical of wren nests.

At the same time, a nest was beginning in Box B. It looked like a bluebirds nest
which is typified by the use of only one material in building the nest. 

Three weeks later, the nest in Box A had been lined with grass and feathers and had 6 eggs in it. Notice the cup toward the back, the sticks and white spider sac under the lining. All typical of a wren's nest.

A couple of days later, the Box A nest had no eggs in it. Not a trace of the six eggs anywhere. ( I didn't get a picture of the empty nest.)

Then I checked Box B and there was a dead wren in it. Ward removed both the bird and the nest. (I did not take a picture of the dead bird. This picture is of another house wren in the yard.)

A few days later, a new nest was built in Box B like the old one. It was not a wren's nest, but it was filled with 7 wren eggs. Meanwhile, Box A continued to have an empty wren's nest.

At least six out of the seven eggs in Box B hatched and fledged. The mother/father wren was very noisy anytime I approached the nest.

Two weeks later Box A, with the wren's nest in it, has five new eggs. Currently, the mother is sitting on them. We'll see what happens.

Were you able to keep track of all of that? Let's just say that for now, the wren's are winning. This drama was mild compared to what we watched last year. I won't go into it, but let's just say, bird wars are not for the faint of heart.

But Wait, There's More:

This may explain some of the things we saw last year and this year. 

Image result for house wren

  • A House Wren weighs about as much as two quarters, but it’s a fierce competitor for nest holes. Wrens will harass and peck at much larger birds, sometimes dragging eggs and young out of a nest site they want – even occasionally killing adult birds. In some areas they are the main source of nest failure for bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Prothonotary Warblers, and chickadees.

From All About Birds

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Thankful Sunday--July 22, 2018

I am thankful for zucchini season.

Our current favorite way to fix them is grilling.

'Tis the season that zucchinis abound. Little ones to huge ones are everywhere. They are in the garden and they are in bags that mysteriously show up in front of the garage. Zucchinis are a versatile vegetable that can be used for many things. For this abundance of zucchini, I am thankful.

And some ideas for cooking zucchini from a previous post.
A Week of Zucchini Dishes