Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Second Look--June 27, 2017

The weather recently has been fluctuating from pleasant to sweltering with a little rain thrown in here and there. Most of the plants have been thriving, except the two apple trees whose leaves are curling. The unofficial opinion from Uncle Billy is that all of the new growth, which was a result of the spring pruning, is stressed from the extreme heat days we've been having. Sort of like frost burn in reverse. The trees are big enough that it would be hard to implement a treatment so I'm just hoping that whatever is going on is not fatal
The front porch rockers are Ward's favorite
 place to watch the birds. I'm still deciding on mine.

On other fronts, the birds are giving quite a show as they seem to be very abundant. We are enjoying them from our windows, porch, deck, and yard--meaning we are trying out different lounging places at our new house to see what we like best at different times of the day. So far, each spot has something to offer and it's been fun conducting our tests.

When we are birdwatching, Ward swears that there are more birds here than at our old house. I think that there's just not as many trees for them to hide in, so we see them more. Maybe we're both right because my neighbor told me that there were more birds than usual this year--lightning bugs, too. Whatever the case, I'm happy.

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

The nadina buds are opening.

On the nadina next to the one above, I saw a bumblebee with these large yellow bumps on its sides. I didn't remember seeing anything like them before and learned that they are called pollen baskets. The baskets are indentations with special hairs on the sides of the bee's back legs and they use them to store pollen until the bee takes it back to the hive. 

A couple of yellow day lilies have bloomed. I think there are some orange ones (according to the neighbors) around the corner from this, but they look very stressed from the recent heat. We'll see if they bloom, but I'm guessing they will. 

A catbird stops by the deck most days for a bath. He almost empties the bath each time with his splashing.

The wren's nest finally has eggs in it. 

We found a robin's nest with intact eggs after previously finding three different ones on the ground. One of those had egg shells in it from recently eaten eggs. This nest is under our deck and hopefully is protected from predators. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Thankful Sunday--June 25, 2017

I am thankful for a walk in the woods.

Among the sweltering temperatures, frequent rains, and never-ending chores, it's been hard to find a good time to take a hike. However, yesterday I was able to make that happen.

In an attempt to beat the heat, Ward, Miss Landers, her dog, and I got an early start.  Besides beginning our outing in comfortable temperatures, we were also able to avoid the rain. The morning rain had just ended when we began and, in fact, I saw a rainbow. Everything worked out well during our hike and it was a great way to start the day. For this walk in the woods, I am thankful.

Here are a few pictures from our walk.

It was a good start to the day when I stepped out on my front porch and saw a rainbow in the sky before we even began the hike.

The first part of the trail was sunny and very narrow because the surrounding plants were invading it. 

However, we were soon in the woods where Ward stopped to tie his shoe.

We were on the blue trail, but we didn't really need trail markers. The path was wide and well established.

Unfortunately, we saw plenty mile-a minute vines and stilt grass (above and below the fungus), both invasive species. It brought back memories for me of fighting them at my old house.

We emerged one more time into the sun. Here we found lots of dried up grass. I think the very high, recent temperatures were more than it could handle. This grass also brought back memories of trying to get rid of it at my old house.

Although we left most of the poison ivy behind on the sunny part of the trail, we still found it in a few spots in the woods. This reminds me of poison ivy fights I'm having at my new house.

Miss Landers' dog had a great time investigating so many new things. There's nothing like the enthusiasm of a dog in the woods.

As we got closer to the stream, there was a proliferation of ferns.

At the end of the trail was an old schoolhouse. It looked like they were trying hard to keep vandals out. Tours are given once a month at the school and we're going to try to make the next one. 

In front of the school was a stream and we wondered about flooding. That's one of the questions we're going to ask when we take the tour.

We decided to turn around at the school because the morning was starting to warm up. The walk back was also pleasant except this time we were going up hill. Along the trail, we saw many small walnuts that had fallen prematurely from the trees probably during some recent storms. 

As we emerged back into the sunny part of the trail, we found milkweed blooming and black raspberries ripening. Then it was time to go home and start our day there.

I mentioned a few things we saw that reminded me of our old yard. What I didn't mention was so did the walnuts, poison ivy, day lilies, milkweed, and black raspberries.. And while most of these were invasive things that I was continually fighting, the recollections were not negative. The familiar plants brought back the memories of all that they taught me while I was trying to control them. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's June 20th

Some day I really am going to write new content, but until then, here's another rerun. Today is West Virginia Day which I almost forgot about until Miss Landers reminded me this morning with the West Virginia state song. I was involved in another project last night and forgot all about today's significance. And since tomorrow won't be West Virginia Day and it's time for me to go to work, here's a blast from the past.


Happy West Virginia Day!

Today we celebrate the day West Virginia became a state on June 20, 1863. As most of you know, I grew up in West Virginia--a fact that I'm very proud of. West Virginia is not large in either size or population, so not many people know much about it. Or they only "know" what they've seen on TV or in the movies. Let me see if I can give a brief summary of what West Virginia is like.
Image result for west virginia

Like most other places, West Virginia has a many different kinds of people and ways of life-- especially since our two panhandles reach far into other areas. Go to the northern part of the state and it is like the Northeast. Go to the far eastern part of the state and you'll identify with Washington, D. C. Take a trip to the southern reaches, and you are definitely in the South. And when you're in the far west, you are in the Midwest. If you grew up in the middle part of the state, like I did, you can chose whatever you want to identify with because there are bits of everything.

Also, like most other places, there are rich people and there are poor people. There are well educated people and there are poorly educated people. There are people who like grits and ramps, and others who don't like them at all (that would be me). But I'd say that almost everyone likes biscuits.

Besides biscuits, there are other things that bind the state together. People here have a connection to the land. This is where they hunt and fish and where they grow their vegetables and graze their cows or goats. They also appreciate the beauty around them. Everywhere you turn there is a feast for your eyes. Whether it is hilly terrain of hills and hollows (hollers), or long mountain ridges with long stream valleys, it's all very scenic. They are also a very resilient group of people. Life has not always been easy for many people here, but they find a way to keep going.

But the thing that strikes me the most about West Virginia is the friendliness of the people. I have found friendly people everywhere I lived, but not always the comfortable friendliness that I have experienced with the people of West Virginia. I hadn't realized this until a young Theo asked me a question one day as we were traveling back to visit his grandparents. He said, "What makes everyone so friendly where Granddad and Grandma live? It's different from where we live." I started to notice, that he was correct.

So there you have it. I have just summarized 24,230 square miles of land, 1.85 million people, and over 150 years of history of West Virginia. Maybe another time, I'll tell you more.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Happy Fathers Day!

My father has been gone for four years, but he is in my memories every day. Below is a retelling of one of these memories.

The Baby

When we were growing up, my father looked like the traditional father from the 1960's. He worked hard as a lineman to provide for us while our mother did more of the childcare and housework. In addition, he was a man's man, who excelled at all of the things that men did in our rural area—hunting, fishing, boating, and marksmanship.

The new baby and her sisters
However if you looked a little deeper, you found that he was more than he appeared to be. Not only was he a man's man, he was a family man and did more than just bring home a paycheck. For example, when I was a baby, he did all of the cooking for my sisters while my mother tried night and day to get me to stop crying. He let us hang out with him after work while he played cards with his buddies and held our hand as we walked home. However, there was one time in particular that he showed a sensitive and wise side that I will never forget.

I was four years old, the baby of the family, and the world revolved around me as far as I was concerned. That is why I was so shocked when my father woke us one morning and said, “Your mother had a baby last night.”

How could that be? I hadn't heard anything about a new baby coming. Of course, my mother later said that we had talked about it and I had even gotten a new bed in anticipation of the coming baby. But none of that had registered with me. I guess that's how things worked in my self-absorbed four-year-old mind. At any rate, I wasn't too sure how I felt about this new situation.

That changed, however, the day they brought my sister home from the hospital. We were all gathered around the door and I was sitting on the steps out of the way. My father was the first to enter carrying the new bundle and he immediately put her in my arms. He didn't wait until my mother was inside. He didn't hand her to my older sisters, he gave her to me. I felt a little scared with this responsibility but also felt very special. While holding my new sister, I decided that having this baby around might not be so bad after all. Years later, I realized what an important gesture this was from my father.

Over the years, this tenderness continued to shine through my father's stern, no-nonsense exterior. Maybe that's why I never stopped calling him Daddy.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Thankful Sunday--June 11, 2017

I am thankful for Mr. B and his love for gardening. 

Mr. B was the elderly man who used to live in our house with his wife. He moved in when he was in his 70's and lived here until he passed away at 96. The neighbors say he had a passion for gardening and used to plant a huge vegetable garden and fruit trees. He also planted flowers. Some of these things didn't survive his 25 years here, but many of them did for us to enjoy. So for Mr. B and what he left behind, I am thankful. Below are a few of them.

We were't sure what this tree was until it started blooming and producing fruit. Turns out it is a sour cherry tree. The cherries are now ripe and we've picked a few. We hoping for a sour cherry pie sometime soon. In the meantime if we do very much of this, I'm getting a cherry pitter.

The back corner bed continues to surprise as I find new things emerging from the intertwined ground covers.  This week I found these yellow flowers. I haven't figured out what they are yet.

And these daisy-like flowers. Name, anyone?

The apples are still small enough that they are hard to spot on the tree among the leaves. However, several are on the ground like this one.

There are two large nandinas on the side of the house. They are now budding and it turns out they are two different colors. I have never seen pink flowers on one like this.

I am more familiar with white ones like this.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Second Look Revisit

As a housewarming gift, a friend brought me several mammoth sunflower plants he had started from seed. This was a much appreciated gift as I love sunflowers. The only problem was we didn't have a ready made place to plant them. All of the existing beds were either full or didn't get enough sun for the sunflowers to thrive. We decided to clear a strip in front of a fence leading to the backyard to plant them.
If all goes well, these sunflowers will grow 10' tall.

This should have been an easy job as we were only clearing a 2' x 12' patch, but it didn't seem that way to me while we were working. Ward and I worked together for at least two hours to clear the sod and break up the dirt. That was grueling because the sun was really intense that day, something the sunflowers would appreciate later, but something I didn't appreciate then. However, by the end, we had a nice bed all ready to pop the plants into.

I tackled planting the next morning. And once again what I thought should have been an easy job, took much longer than expected. By the time I gathered my tools, raked in fertilizer, cleaned a few more rocks and weeds out of the bed, it took me almost an hour to plant 5 plants. Ridiculous, I thought! I'm glad I don't do this for a living because I was so slow.

I fretted for a while about my lack of productivity, but then tried to shift my negative thinking. My attitude was ruining the time I usually enjoyed outdoors. I decided to reexamine the sunflower experience. First I thought about how I enjoyed talking with Ward as we shook the dirt off the sod. Next I thought about how I really did like combing through the dirt making piles of rocks I thought were interesting, separating out the grubs. making sure that all of the earthworms were returned to the soil, and breaking up any remaining clods we had missed. The process had been time consuming but interesting to me. So when I didn't worry about how much time it took to plant five plants, I realized that the whole thing had actually been an enjoyable experience.

There are plenty of times when I need to be efficient and accomplish tasks in a timely manner. But not always. Sometimes I need to slow down, enjoy the process, and appreciate what is around me. Just like I try to do in my Second Looks. However, somewhere along the way of working on our new house, I had forgotten about this. It's time to go back to my roots. Time to explore my yard and look past the work that is calling me and to see things with a different set of eyes. 

Here's the original post that inspired my Second Looks  Now let's see if I can remember it next time I go outside.