Saturday, December 19, 2009

Is it winter yet?

This is the view out my breakfast room window after last night's snow. It's 10:00 pm here now and it has been snowing all day and the predictions say it will continue through the night. We have about two feet on the ground now and it's still coming down! That's about enough for me now!

On a happier note, here's the smaller tree we put up this year. Most of the children will be coming for New Year's instead of Christmas this year, so I'm not putting the big tree up in the living room. This one sits in the corner of the family room in front of one of the bookcases where I can see it from the kitchen and the computer as well! I still have gifts to wrap, but at least I got started!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Okay, I hope I get this right without having the photos in front of me. In the top photo from left to right: Kenny, Rob, Ken, Lisa, Dennis, Deni
And in the second photo: Gillian, Alex Devon, Vicki, (Kenny's chair), and Rob
We had a lovely dinner and a wonderful visit with all the children and grandchildren. I'm glad they all still seem to enjoy coming for these gatherings.
Oh, Roy and I had places at the end of the table nearest the camera, of course!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Photos of the week

Early evening visitors this weekend. I didn't see a deer in our yard all last fall and winter and I was so disappointed. They came often enough in the spring to eat my hosta, but not when I could spy them. So I was especially pleased to look out the window the other day and see three does sauntering through the trees into my backyard. I couldn'tgrab my camera in time to get all three in the picture, but got a good shot of two, anyway. (Now that I look carefully at this photo, that larger one may just be a young buck, you think?)

This is my sweet little red maple tree out back. My son and daughter-in-law had a mature tree in their front yard when they lived close by, and it died not long before they moved away. Fortunately, Vicki had thought to sprout some of the seeds that feel from it, however, and gave me two young seedlings. This is the one that survived and I love it! It's just about 7 or 8 feet tall now.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This is what my daughter brought me for Halloween!!!
Well, actually she brought her Bedlington dogs (like the one carved into the pumpkin)for weekend agility trials at a nearby farm and this is part of her decorations for her tent out there. She won a prize for this decoration, by the way. LOL! I'm SO glad the rats are fake, but they are almost too real looking for me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weekend in Virginia

We just spent a lovely weekend with my son, Rob, and his family in Virginia. This is their lovely mountain "cottage". We just went up to see it this time, we didn't stay overnight. And lucky me, I got car sick on the way down the curving mountain roads. Thought I had grown out of that eons ago! But we had a good time, and got to see and hear my grandson play with his marching band during a highschool band competition. That's him on the deck, with my husband Roy and Rob chatting in the driveway.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bluebird visitors

No new photo this time, but an update on our bluebird population. For three days straight, we have had bluebirds checking the house in the yard. We’ve had a pair visiting on occasion since the summer, but this time there were three male birds here to look it over, one of which looked to have some white feathers on the back of his neck….an older male perhaps? At any rate, they were here Sunday morning for 15 or 20 minutes. Then on Monday, three more came, the same three perhaps, I don’t know. Then a female joined them, and she eventually went inside the house. Later a male also went inside. This group stayed around for 20 minutes or more before flying away.
This morning, a male and a female were visiting. The male went inside for a few minutes but the female just peeked in at the door. They stayed around for 15 minutes or so, then they both came and looked over the birdhouse on the deck railing before flying away again. It would be interesting to know if these birds are all wintering over here, or if maybe the group of males that came were just migrating through the area.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photo of the Week

Toadstools are in abundance in our yard and the neighboring yard as well this year. These are some of the more interesting ones I found that hadn't been nibbled on by the squirrels or whomever.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Old Doll, New Class

I made this doll from an online class a couple of years ago with Jacque Uetz and she is one of my all time favorites. I had always been very conservative with embellishments but through Jacque's encouragement I had great fun piling it on this one and I love her! Jacque is offering the class (called "Sarana") again at Jean Bernard's website here:
(I've forgotten how to make this a clickable link, sorry)
If you'd like a fun project for the fall I strongly recommend this class. She's easy to make and too much fun!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Photo of the Week--on TIME!

Something a little different this week! This is my first daughter running an agility course with her "star" dog Rudy. He's a Bedlington terrier and considers these events the best fun he's ever had. He runs through them so fast she has a hard time keeping up with him.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Oops! Photo of the Week

Sorry this isn't a great photo, but I took it in the early morning before the light was good enough in the backyard. This tiny little hummingbird is on sentry duty, guarding the feeder I keep outside my window. There are four hummers who vie for places at the feeder all day long. They almost never feed together and someone is always on guard to chase away any of his relatives who dare try to get a sip. They are constantly dive-bombing each other all day. I worried about them, but then I realized that this may be good training for them to be on constant alert to predators. They never harm each other, thank goodness, but they're so tiny, they'd be easy prey for other birds if they weren't so alert and quick.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Journal Page Purple Hollyhock (2)

I had some more photos of the hollyhocks we used to have in the garden and couldn't resist drawing this beauty. I should do them on better paper, they look pretty washed out in this journal.
6x9" on handmade paper. Watercolor pencils and sepia ink.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Drawing again

I had been working on a couple of watercolor paintings recently, but they weren't going so well, so I've put them aside for now. I decided to simplify my efforts and just do some quick sketches for awhile to loosen up. These are a couple that I did this past week on some very "thirsty" handmade paper that encourages me to be less intense and wield my brush v-e-r-y quickly! These are about 6x9" in a journal I love but haven't used much because of the paper.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Are we in Kansas???

Has anybody seen Toto????
This was the aftermath of a storm that roared through our area Friday afternoon. We had 50 or 60 mph winds, but were luckier than some places west of us who had stronger ones with lots more damage. Roy will take his time clearing up these trees and give the larger logs to our neighbor who has a wood burning fireplace. I hate losing trees, but felt fortunate that nothing fell on the house!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blubird Update July 16, 2009

This is my latest entry in my bluebird journal. Sad to say I don't keep it up as much as I should. There were so many sweet and sometimes poignant events in this nesting that will be forgotten as time goes by.
I've promised myself to do better with subsequent nestings...........

July 16, 2009

"I’ve been very bad about recording the nesting, but the pair of birds who has been watching the house all this time did indeed build a nest. She laid only three eggs this time and they hatched on July 4 or thereabouts. Could have been a couple of days earlier. I noticed at one point a third bird had joined them in the yard and a close-up check with binoculars identified it as an adolescent which I later recognized as a young female, probably from the first nesting of the parent pair. She spent a great deal of time in the yard foraging for food and learning to annoy other birds who got in her way. She was fun to watch in her daily rummaging around the yard. She also spent a lot of time peering into the bird house where Mama was sitting on eggs. Later when the little ones hatched, she spent some time bringing some of her juicy morsels to share with her new siblings.
Unfortunately, we did not get to witness the fledging of this group, which occurred just last night or this morning. I didn’t see any blues in the yard all morning and we were away for 3 or 4 hours this afternoon. I noticed Mama on one of her favorite perches (the top bar that holds the thistle feeder) later this afternoon. She did go over to peer into the nest box, but mostly just sat and looked around the yard. Not until she had been gone for awhile did we dare go open, very gingerly, the side door of the box. The nest was quite empty with only two small fecal sacs in the bottom. We’ve cleaned out the box, so it will be ready if they decide to nest again.
Mama was beginning to look very haggard, however, and I’m wondering if maybe she’s an older bird who won’t be nesting again. I’m not really knowledgeable enough to know about these things."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Photo of the Week - Early

Posting this a little early, in case I forget to do it when I get busy tomorrow doing dreaded household chores, etc.
The deer did not find the hosta alongside the house so they had a chance to bloom and I've added one blossom to the bud stem I drew before. I'll include this little sketch in the journal I've begun to save mementos of "Grandma's House" for my children and grands. Hopefully it will remind them of the happy times we've spent here.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

An apology

The little adolescent bluebird deserves a second photo on this blog and an abject apology from me. Contrary to my initial opinion of her, she, and it seems obvious now that it's a female, was not "annoying mama" as I thought, but learning what the birthing process was all about so she could help with the nestlings when they hatched. And that is what she is doing with great enthusiasm now. I watched her search diligently in the yard this morning for a worm and she came up with one, or a part of one, about 2" long. She chewed and chewed on it for several minutes (she IS still a youngster) until she got it down to less than half, then popped into the house and fed it to the babies. I was sooooo proud of her! Mama and Papa are feeding these three little ones now, too, and if those babies are eating everything that's brought to them, they'll be ready to fly in no time!
I did read in my bird book that a pair of bluebirds would sometimes allow a fledgling from one brood to tag along and help with the second one....and in looking up my records from 1994 I see that during our first nesting of these birds in our yard, that pair did the same thing. I just didn't know at the time that it was a young one from an earlier hatching.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Photo of the week

I'm taking an online watercolor pencil workshop with Cathy Johnson and this is a drawing of a hosta bud from my side yard for that class. I've left room for a flower from the plant when it opens....if the deer don't eat them all. I noticed yesterday that those critters had eaten almost ALL the buds off the hostas that line my front walk and left their footprints in evidence. I hope they don't find these in the side yard.

This is my trumpet flower I just realized had begun to bloom. They're pretty and grow wild here along the roadsides, but Roy planted some next to a trellis out back to attract the hummingbirds.

Finally, here's that little bluebird adolescent rascal that has joined my nesting pair in the backyard. Apparently this one is from their first nesting of the season and I think you can see the spotting on his/her shoulders and breast. He/she comes almost everyday and has taken to annoying Mama while she's sitting on her eggs, and gets summarily chased away by an angry Mama!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Award from Michelle

I've just received this lovely award from Michelle, thank you, dear girl! My list of seven things I can't live without....or that I wouldn't like to live without... are as follows:
1. My husband of many years
2. My children and grandchildren
3. My friends
4. Good health
5. A peaceful home life
6. Living in the US
7. And finally, a creative spirit
I should describe these as things I am completely and honestly grateful for.

I'll work on the list of people to forward this award to.....more later.
Thanks again, Michelle

Monday, June 15, 2009

Photo of the Week

I've wanted a hibiscus for years, but somehow never thought to get one. This one caught my eye at the garden center when I went to get plants for my deck pots and I just couldn't resist. It will reside on the deck for the summer so I can see it up close for awhile. I love these things.
And then, as you can see below, the bluebirds held their ground after the chickadees left and finally were able to start building their own nest in "their" house. There is a great supply of dry pine needles in my neighbors yard and it was fun to watch the female work her little tail feathers off carting great beakfuls of needles into the tiny portal for days on end. She built a beautiful nest while her beau sat on the perch and watched, lazy critter. Now she seems to be depositing eggs each day, but not until he comes and checks out the yard and the nest to see if it's safe for her. I guess he's good for something!
They seem to have brought along an adolescent fledgling from an earlier brood. This little guy (he's actually as big as the adults now) still has the baby speckles on his breast and he sticks very close to one or the other of his parents while he's here. He's feeding himself, however, and should be going off on his own soon. I haven't been able to get a good photo of him/her yet.

Monday, June 08, 2009

They Grow up Too Fast

Another of my lovely granddaughters has become a beautiful young lady, and is graduating from high school this month. Here, as you can see, she is properly dressed and coiffed for her senior prom...just beautiful!
There aren't words to describe what pleasure these grandchildren bring to me. From babyhood to young adults, I've been overwhelmingly proud of them, every step of the way. We're all hoping that this graduation doesn't suffer the downpour that her sister's did, drenching all the graduates, the band, and the faculty as well, not to mention the spectators! But I wouldn't have missed it for the world......

Friday, May 29, 2009

Last Chickadee Post

Great News!
I saw a bluebird checking out the birdhouse this morning and decided it was time we opened the box to see if the chickadees were finished with it. We were so afraid we'd find little bodies in there because we had only seen one fledge and the parents had apparently abandoned the house. But praise be, we found only their beautiful little nest, completely empty! So we apparently just missed seeing the others, probably three more, fledge. We felt very lucky to have seen the one, since in the last year's nesting we missed the chickadee fledging altogether. The nest as you see it below is about 5-6 inches wide and I would say about 4 inches high. I love the way they put the cavity for the eggs over to one side to give the little ones plenty of room to rest when they hatched. Oh, they had six eggs when they started, and one died when the sparrows attacked. I'm not sure what happened to the other one. But I am THRILLED that the rest fledged safely!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Woohoooooooo! We have had one fledging this morning. A small head appeared at the door of the chickadee house (nee bluebird house), without any coaxing, I might add. He looked out for a few minutes, giving me just enough time to call Roy from his office to come and watch, and then flew out and over to the deck railing where he was joined by a proud parent. Then he flew off into a tree behind the house and we haven't seen him since, but I'm sure he has a watchful parent by his side. I grabbed my camera but he flew away before I could get a shot.
No siblings have appeared yet, but one parent has flown in and out of the nest a few times, so they're either still being fed and not ready to fledge yet or something worse. My concern is that the others might have sustained injuries from being dragged out of the nest by those marauding sparrows. Dang!!! We'll just have to wait and see. Guess who'll be glued to the window the rest of the day?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Photot of the Week

I'm enjoying the emergence of color in my yard after such a dreary winter and early spring. The bouquet below is an example of the abundance of peonies blooming now. I didn't stake the plants in time this year so I'm having to cut blooms as they begin to open and bring them in. I probably enjoy them even more in the house than I do on the plants!
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My large weigela puts on a spectacular show every year. I can't wait for my red one to get this showy!

And finally I just happened to be out near my neighbors large pine trees and noticed these baby cones. Aren't they sweet?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chickadee Update

So far things look better in the bird world this morning. I was up at 6:00am to stand watch in case the sparrows weren't deterred by my efforts yesterday, but I've only seen Mama and Papa bringing food to the little ones today. Of course it's only 8:00 now and things could get worse later on. My hope is that the sparrows have begun to build their nest elsewhere and won't bother the chickadees again. I'll keep watch one more day, in any case, maybe more if today gets as bad as yesterday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NOT a Good Day!

War has been waged and I am just about as angry as I can be. We got up about 8:00 this morning and when I looked out I knew something was going on at the chickadee house. I thought it was perhaps fledging day because the parent birds were in and out of the house and down on the ground and on the perch and in the tree. But in awhile they flew up into the tree and didn't come back for awhile, so I went ahead and poured my coffee and had breakfast.
When I came back to check on them I saw house sparrows carrying nesting material into the house!!!!! So I went out to drive them away and almost stepped on a baby chickadee right outside my back door! I knew immediately what had happened and went out to yank the nesting material that was hanging out the portal of the house and check to see what the sparrows had done. Fortunately I was watching where I walked because there on the ground below the bird house were two more babies! Damned sparrows! I picked up the two from the ground and put them back in the house, and Roy came along with the one from the deck which was also still alive. I was afraid the parents would abandon them after we had handled them, but thank goodness now I see them bringing food to them again. Oh, and when we opened the house after we put the babies back in, Roy said he saw a fourth. I found another one farther away from the nest on the ground but it was dead. I'm sure there were six eggs to begin with so there may be another one lying dead in the yard, I'm not sure.
I tell you, there is no terrorist of the bird world like these damned sparrows! If there had been bluebirds in the house, the parent birds would have been feisty enough to fight them off maybe, but the chickadees are just too small.
Well, I'm having to keep one eye on the bird house while I'm writing this because the invaders keep trying to get back in the house. I just hope the remaining babies survive all this. Forgive my expletives, but I'm just too upset to worry about it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Photo(s) of the Week

I have NO idea why I can't get this photo to upload in the proper orientation! Anyway, this is Papa Chickadee bringing a morsel to his brood of six in the bluebird house, where he and Mama have installed themselves. Sorry you have to lie down to see it properly!
My peonies are beginning to bloom. Here are the first ones. I love to see some color in the yard after such a dreary winter and early spring!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Photo of the Week

Well, it's been awhile since I've posted and I have few excuses. We were away for a week visiting my husband's hometown and environs in Tennessee...and I spent another week recovering from the trip. I feel my days for long road trips are over!
But now we're back to normal and I had a lovely Mothers' Day. Although it was a very quiet day with just the two of us, I did get wonderful flowers from two of my children (the third one will visit soon, and she did call and chat) as well as my husband. Pictures below.....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Photo of the Week on time!!!!

My Japanese cherry trees bloom a few weeks later than those in Washington, but they're just as beautiful I think! This one blooms just a few days earlier than the one next to it. We planted them too close together, not realizing how big they would get until it was too late to dig them up. They don't really seem to mind, however, and they're both lovely every year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Photo of the Week, late again

My daughter has a new baby! Her children are all short and hairy and look like little lambs. She has four (or is it five now?) and this is the newest addition, four month old Ollie. She trains them for earth dog and agility events. She co-owns most of them with her breeder-friend, but keeps these at her house to train and care for in her home. I just met this little sweetie last weekend and I love him! He snuggles, but he doesn't lick you all over like lots of dogs do.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Photo of the Week

Spring is making a valiant effort to arrive in Maryland, although my yard does not give much evidence of it yet. There are still vast patches of apparently dead grass that didn't survive the winter drought conditions. The forsythia is struggling to pop out some blossoms, but they're very sparse this year. Maybe I'm expecting too much too soon? We'll see.
But here's what has come forth so far.

However, one faithful houseplant has given me hope for brighter things to come. My poor sweet little orchid has favored me with several buds and a couple of beautiful blooms already. I really MUST have the poor thing re-potted soon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Photo of the Week..late

I was so happy to see these pots of pansies at the supermarket this week! I do wish they wouldn't put stickers on the front of the pot that are impossible to remove completely. But I'll probably transplant the flowers to the yard later on anyway. But aren't the colors incredible?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photo of the Week

They're ba-a-a-a-ck!!! The bluebirds (I assume it's the pair who nested here last year) have been in the area all winter and have come to check the house each week. Maybe everyday, but I don't see them that often. Today, however, they came early and stayed for at least two hours, exploring the house, measuring for curtains and rugs, etc., and defending against intruders. The usual baddies include house sparrows, mockingbirds, and territorial robins. Squirrels have begun exploring our deck each day, and the bluebirds very deftly informed one of them that their favorite perch on the far end of the deck is private property. It's fun to watch not only the male but the very feisty little female fend off any creature who attempts a takeover. They had a terrible time last year with a determined robin, but they won out in the end and fledged four little blues in the house.
So, here is Papa Blue. I don't know if he's really that rotund, or if he's just fluffed up to keep warm during the cooler temperatures. He's never that round in the summer, but isn't he a cutie?