Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Second Look--March 30, 2017

Spring is definitely here with cold nights and warmer days. Never say never, but I think we're done with snow for the season. Trees are starting to bloom around the area along with crocus and daffodils. However, my yard seems to be slow in these things. I have several daffodil leaves up in my yard with no sign of blooms yet and my cherry tree is bare while they are blooming all around me. I don't know what it all means.

What I do know is that most of the bushes and trees were overgrown and in need of trimming--especially the fruit trees. We had that done earlier this week. It was amazing to watch the men work as they scurried up the trees with a chainsaw where they stood on swaying limbs as they topped and thinned branches. But also, it was scary to watch as they remained in the trees sawing away when it started to rain really hard with thunder and lightning.  I guess all's well, that ends well because no one got hurt and the job was done well.

We've seen a lot of birds this week. However, getting pictures of them remains elusive. The way things are set up now, they all scatter as I approach the window with my camera. But they still provided entertainment for the cats and the rest of us.

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

Violets are popping up everywhere. While I love violets, I also know from experience that they can totally take over. I've been trying to clean some of them out of the flower beds.

While trimming some of the deadwood off of this azalea, I found a bird's nest. It's probably a sparrows nest, but possibly a wren's nest. 

There is one daffodil left blooming under the massive pine tree.

This is one of the smaller pear trees that got thinned. It's also the first tree in the yard to bloom.

In the foreground, you see one of our apple trees that was also pruned.
Behind it, you see the neighbor's cherry tree in full bloom.

There are a few grape hyacinths here and there along the sidewalk that are budding.

It's a little late, but we put up two birdhouses this week including this one from my book club friends. Sometimes it takes a year or more for birds to find new houses,
but I'm hoping we see some activity this season.

We have forsythia along our back fence that survived the hard freezes
 and continued to bloom this week.

I saw a Carolina wren on the deck. They haven't been common visitors so far.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Second Look--March 23, 2017

Here are few things I saw recently 
during my Second Look.

We've had snow twice recently. About a week ago,  it was several inches thick and I got a day off from work. Sunday we woke up to a surprise snow that you see in this picture. It was also windy and cold and this mocking bird was fluffing up its feathers to stay warm.

We've had some warm weather and many things started to bloom. Unfortunately, we then had some hard freezes, that killed most of the things that had come out. I don't know if this forsythia will try again to bloom or not.

You can see the tops of these day lily leaves have been damaged by the cold weather. However, they should recover just fine.

Although there have been daffodils blooming in abundance around the area, these are the only ones that have bloomed in my yard. The cold and the wind made it hard for them to hold their heads up.

The blooming daffodils are growing under this massive pine tree. I don't think I've see a trunk like this on a pine tree before. Maybe that's what happens when you don't trim the lower branches. Whatever the reason, I like the massiveness of it.

Not sure what this is but it is one of many shrubs and trees in the yard that have been bitten by the cold. I hope the fruit trees recover and give it another go.

The periwinkle managed to survive the weather and is providing bits of color here and there.

It looks like these lilac buds are okay, also.

We are slowly building diversity at our bird feeders. Starlings like this one are frequent visitors. 

Other birds are often intimidated by starlings, but the finches don't seem to mind them.

Unfortunately during one of the windy days, part of our fence blew down. Another chore for this weekend.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This and That

You may have noticed that these days  months year, posting on my blog has been a little thin. And while I enjoy sharing things with my friends out there in blog land, I've had other priorities. First Ward was sick, then we began the odyssey of buying and selling houses and moving. We have been in our new house for a couple of months now, so is my time freeing up? Well, sort of.

There is definitely less stress than there has been for a while, but things are busy all the same. During the throws of house excitement, I cancelled several appointments. Now I'm rescheduling them and catching up on all of my yearly/semi-yearly visits such as to the dentist.

There's also a lot of work to be done in the new house. While we have most of our daily use things unpacked, there are still several things waiting to be uncovered from their boxes. However, we're still trying to figure out how our things fit in this new space as well as painting to be done before we put much more in place. In addition, there's the tree trimming, yard work, electrical problems, leaky pipes, etc. to contend with. All of those things that have to be dealt with when you own a house.  Add in a declining cat and sick relatives and my time seems to be pretty filled.

However, I could manage it a little better. For example, when I sat down last night to check my email and start a blog post, I got a bit distracted. I came upon a quiz to see how many of 100 popular TV shows from past and present that you could identify. I'm not sure if I should be proud or not, but I got 95/100 correct. :)

Also, Ward and I are taking a little time to explore our new area and just spend some unstructured time together--meaning not doing a chore. This part has been fun and we're making it a priority to keep it up.

So while I'm still busy (isn't everyone?), I really hope to pay more attention to my blog now. If nothing else, I need to update the Who-am-I type things, because they've changed since I started this blog several years ago. But we'll see. Until next time, thanks for checking in.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thankful Sunday--March 19, 2017

I live a good life and have so much to be thankful for. There are the big things like family, health, friends, security, etc. And there's the little things like the cold juice I just had from the fridge. Sometimes I forget to notice the little things and take them for granted. So here are five little things I'm thankful for. And because this is the way my mind works, there is going to be a theme--fabric.

1. A Throw--I bought a lot of things to stage the house we just sold. Some of them are finding a place in our new home and some of them are not. However, there is one thing that is used every day here. A soft, fuzzy throw. I originally bought it to bring a soft texture to a wooden chair. Now it is something everyone loves to wrap themselves in, including the cats. For this very soft, warm throw, I am thankful.

2. Sheets--I seem to always be on the conquest to find comfortable sheets. We have an older mattress and many sheets have pockets that are too deep to fit well. Combine that with a certain texture that I prefer and it's hard to find what I like. (I have been compared to the princess in the tale of The Princess and the Pea). However, a couple of weeks ago, Miss Landers gave me some sheets that no longer worked for her because the pockets weren't deep enough. And voila! They are just right for me. :) They fit well and are the soft cotton I like. For these "new"comfortable sheets I am thankful.

3. A Tote Bag--When Ward's grandmother moved to a nursing home, his father cleaned out her house and gave some of her things to the family. Although I am very much part of the family, I stepped back and waited for Ward and his siblings to get what they wanted. One of the things left was a canvas tote bag his grandmother had picked up when she visited South Africa. It had bright red and black guinea hens on it and I thought it was fun. However, I didn't use if for several years because I didn't want to get it dirty. Then one day, I told myself that that was silly, and I've used it every day since then. I use it to carry things back and forth to work and any other time when I have several things to to take with me. It's just the right size and always brings a nice compliment. For this useful and cheerful tote bag, I am thankful.

4. Sweat Pants--A few years ago, my mother had several trips to the emergency room with various crises all in the space of just one year. These events required a quick jump in the car and a drive 3 1/2 hours to be with her. To say the least, they were very stressful times. During one of these visits, I hadn't packed enough clothes, so I went to the store to get a few things to tide me over until I got home. One of the them was a comfortable, go-with-anything pair of sweat pants.  They were just what I needed then and just what I want now. Even though they came from a stressful time, for these practical and comfortable sweat pants, I am thankful.

5. Absorbent Dishtowel--One time when I was in my mother's attic trying to sort and clean out things (literally, a never-ending job), I found a new dish towel. It was in a box of things that came from my aunt's house after she passed away. I think it was a second because it was a bit misshapen and had several pulled threads, but I needed some dish towels at that point and I took it home. It worked great. It is now the most absorbent dish towel I have. So for this handy dish towel that I think of as a gift from my aunt, I am thankful.

There you have it. A few things that I took for granted that I am really blessed to have. Now you try it. Pick a category and look around for five things you are thankful for.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Thankful Monday--March 13, 2017

I am thankful for 
nursing home workers.

My mother was once a very talented
nursing home worker. Now she is
benefiting from others with the
same calling, some of whom she trained.
Working in a nursing home takes a special kind of person. The work is draining both physically and emotionally. I am reminded of this each time I visit my mother.

My mother has a great place to live. The facility is small and has a good staff who really seem to care. Working with the elderly is their calling. During a recent visit with my mother, this was very evident.

For example, one evening at supper, I saw a worker, Pauline, meet the needs of several in rapid succession. First she got "insulated" silverware for Edna who was convinced that electricity was coming out of everything. Next she helped Sara who had eaten too much and was ready to vomit at the table. Then she watered a plant for Rita because Rita wouldn't eat until she knew that the plant had been properly watered. After all of that, Sarah moved onto Imogene who was not able to feed herself. All of this was done with a smile and a kind word for everyone.

So for Pauline and others who use their special talents to care for those in nursing homes, I am very thankful.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Thankful Sunday--March 6, 2017

I am thankful for a an encouraging husband.

First of all, this Thankful Sunday is not quite so timely, but I am thankful for something that happened on Sunday, so it all works out.

Yesterday was a day when I had to work. Not my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but pleasant enough anyway. When I came home, I was tired and ready to spend the evening gliding into Monday. But Ward had other ideas. For about a month now, we've had Bill Bryson on our calendar. Last night he was speaking in the area for free and we had planned to go. We thought it was another way to take advantage of some of the things our new area has to offer. But mostly it was a way to see an author we really liked.
I grabbed a couple of Bill Bryson books off our shelves to get autographed.
However, we decided to not wait in the long line to make this happen.

It was hard to say no to Ward when I came home, because he already had supper fixed. That told me he was really serious. So after some gentle nudging, I agreed to go.

We stood in a very long line waiting for them to open the doors. It was a little cold out so it was nice to snuggle with Ward while we chatted with others in line. And when the doors opened to the old theater where the event was happening, it filled up quickly--all 1200 seats with hundreds more standing and several just leaving. We were lucky. We were there early enough to get seats together.

Bryson's talk was interesting and funny. And calm and pleasant. I can't think of when an indoor event has been more suited for our styles. And despite the large crowd, we were able to get home without too much tie up in traffic. A great ending to a great evening, that I didn't want to go to.

So for an encouraging husband that got me up and out of the house, I am thankful.

Ward just read this and said it's kind of sappy. However, he's happy to take any compliments I throw his way.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Second Look--March 1, 2017

No doubt about it. I miss my old yard. While it was turning into more work than we wanted, I loved the natural aspects of it. I loved seeing all of the furry creatures as well as the feathered and scaled ones. I loved seeing the ever-changing trees as well as exploring the hidden plants that surprised me here and there. I also loved following the blooms of the various plants throughout the seasons as well as the insects that visited them. It was my own little nature park.

Now I find myself comparing my old yard to my new one and the new one doesn't seem to measure up. There aren't as many trees. I see power lines behind me instead of a farm, etc. These comparisons need to go away, so it's time for me to begin a real exploration of my new space. I think once I know my yard, it will be easier to appreciate all that it has to offer. And so it's time to do Second Looks again.

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

There are several fruit trees around. I think this is a crabapple in the foreground and a pear in the background. It should make for a pretty spring with a lot of blooms. That is unless this unusually warm winter has confused them too much

Day Lilies are coming up in a couple of places. It will be interesting to see what colors they are.

Daffodils are coming up in a couple other places.

There are a lot of forsythia bushes around the yard that are budding.

Sometimes they look like they've been planted and sometimes they look like volunteers among other brush.

There is one large nandina bush on the side of the house. Interestingly enough these bright, red berries are poisonous to birds. However, birds are smart enough to know to not eat them.

Mint roots. I've always heard that mint plants can take over, so I've never planted mint except in a pot. However, I got to see first hand how happy a mint plant is to spread in one of my small beds around the house. I've been trying to clean it out, but I know that I will miss some.  When that comes up, I plan to transplant it into pots. (BTW, It's good to get back in the dirt again.) 

Mocking bird. Our bird feeders are now hanging above the deck where we get backlighting from the sky. Consequently, the birds often appear in silhouette. I'm gonna have to learn bird shapes and not depend on their colorings for identification.

We watched this bird for a couple of days convinced that it only had one leg. (Look at the picture above and you'll only see one leg.) However, we finally saw it on a railing and saw two legs. When it eats, it pulls one leg up so it is difficult to see.