Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Busy, Keeping Busy

I have been away from Blogger, not because I am so busy, although I am, but because I have really not felt I had anything compelling to write about.  The average days of an old lady, while a blessing due to their predictability, are also boring.  I have been staking peonies, iris, and even some of the roses that are finishing their first major blooming to prop up against the heavy rains that arrive between days of perfect sunshine.  I could not have ordered a better spring and being the suspicious soul, I wonder if I will have a hurricane nasty summer to keep my life in balance.

I have been helping harvest the abundance of strawberries and edible podded peas that are appearing as fast as raindrops these days. Except for the abundance of slugs, we are getting a great harvest.  They are small but have a good strawberry taste. The larger variety that hubby planted are not so flavorful and tend to rot!

While so few of the birds are nesting in the houses we so carefully cleaned, I have spotted a blue indigo bunting and the scarlet tanager.  While not so common here, they are not rare, but just have that ability to reflect sunlight and look like dark little birds unless you are carrying the binoculars and a bit familiar with the songs.  And then the cry of the red-shouldered hawk fledglings were heard the other day in the nearby woods.  It sounds like they are trying out for some show.  They were soon gone.

We had heard the "meep" of a small fawn near the fence line this past week and hubby explored and found a little one lying in the shade of a fallen tree and watching us carefully.  We left it, expecting mother was away, and later in the week when we kept startling vultures while gardening, we discovered it was dead.  You may remember last year we tried to "rescue" a fawn and found it was just normally waiting for mother...and you can go here to re-read that in case you missed it.  Thankfully the bugs, predators and rain have moved it away as the smell of death competed harshly with the fragrant honeysuckle now in bloom.

And finally, just to keep us on our toes, the towel racks in the guest bathroom and on hubby's bathroom wall came loose and while I tried unsuccessfully to re-install, it took the purchase of a ball hex tool in metric size 2 so I could angle the turns and a kneeling position to get them both installed again!  Then we were rewarded with one of the in-hull fittings coming loose as hubby was planning to put the boat in the water.  Luckily he saw the daylight through the back of the hull while switching over the batteries and we were told that this is common in a boat as old as ours!  I got on my knees once again and stretched my arm to put the temporary plug through the hole so that hubby could tighten the temporary fitting from the outside while sitting in the canoe.  You do not own stuff, it owns you.

I will save the garage foundation fix and the cement truck for another day!  In between times you can enjoy my self-seeding larkspur which has gone crazy this year.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Arbor Today

Maybe some of you will remember when I wrote about the tiny arbor we purchased from a local hardware store years ago.  It is a fragile and small structure that only one person could really sit on at a time.  I am allergic to stain, so it has not been painted in all these years, and if I remember, I will nag hubby to do that this fall.

I used to have a "Lincoln" rose that I was trying to get to climb up the arbor and finally transplanted it and bought another rose that the landscape lady told me was very popular.  I am not sure she heard me say I wanted a climber, because this also bushes out at the bottom like the others!

It has many spring blossoms, a lovely perfume and no thorns!  No wonder it is popular.  I will see how resistant it is to black spot, aphids, yellow leaf and all the other things that attack my roses in these woods.  (I fail on the organic garden end with my roses, but it cannot be helped with those Prima Donnas.)

Not shown in the photo above is a little blue bird house on the opposite end.  We have about ten bird houses (ceramic and wood) scattered across the property and no one seems to have taken us up on the free rent!  But the little house on the arbor has some tiny and noisy chickadees being fed by some rather harried parents.  Last year most of the bird houses had tenants.  Maybe as the year progresses...

(I would really like to save some money and install a larger arbor in this part of the yard with even more plants growing over the top.  We currently have a garage slab problem that is going to eat up any liquid funds, so that will be another day.)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Amateurs at Play

Citizen science has become one way to collect scientific data because it costs very little.  Every single thing in this world is about money.  EVERYTHING.  I will write a post on that perhaps soon.

Anyway, I was a citizen scientist yesterday.  What I gave was my time and energy and bravery against the ticks.  What I got was being outdoors on a perfect day, being able to take photographs, seeing a really beautiful nature trail and being with good company, human and animal.


It is spring and time to monitor those wood duck boxes that we fixed and/or installed last fall.  Data showed that of the 19 boxes, some were empty, some had hatched eggs, some had fatalities, some were never used and some had newly laid eggs.  Some of the boxes were in the early stages of their use with only 4 eggs laid and buried deep down in the wood chips with no down yet pulled from momma duck.  Others had as many as 15 viable eggs waiting to hatch and sitting deep in down.  One box was a tragedy, we think momma met with a danger and died as three little hatch-lings had pushed from their eggs and died in the box and the other eleven eggs never hatched.

The good news is that over 50 eggs were still waiting in the various boxes and about 30 had hatched and were on their way!

And we were very lucky to see Momma wood duck and 11 little ones out for one of their first swims.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


As a follow-up to comments I made on one of the young men in my life:

This was mailed on May 10, days after Mother's Day, and I got it yesterday...

There was a little hand written note inside:

He finds mushiness very hard.  Yet, I love him completely.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Grayness Is My Mantle

Another day of sprinkling rain today, coolish, but not unpleasant.  I wanted to be outside planting on my deck with the pots for summer color.  I have to transplant some seedlings of cosmos and Sweet William to the flower beds.  I still have to divide day lilies.   I got one sunny day yesterday and killed myself with weeding, planting and then rewarding myself for a Mother's Day treat to the local Antique Fair being held at the nearby garden/museum.  A perfect, sunny, warm day it was.

I am not a big antique shopper but do have a love of Art Deco vases.  I never find any, but I still look.  I found two lovely misty ink-blue vases about 6 inches high with a smooth glaze over a very subtle pattern and I wanted to buy them.  The vendor told me that they had been reduced in price since this was the second day of the sale.  They were reduced from $275 each to $175 each.  There is just no way I can justify spending that much money on something I could so easily break!  I decided on the two for $12 turquoise vases I had found in an earlier booth...but they either sold or we could not find the right tent among the almost 50 vendors because I went home only with some homemade bath salts.  Then as another Mother's Day reward, I took a bubble bath.

I got a quick call from my daughter (which I missed) to send good wishes for the day.  Nothing from my son.  He is that way and we will never change him.  He does what he wants when he wants.  He still says he loves me, but refuses to follow any suggestions from society about behavior or being gentle with people.  I do love him in spite of the challenges. 

AND that day was the ONLY sunny day we have had in days and days and I took that as my perfect Mother's Day gift!  The next few days this week are going to also be a challenge as far as weather goes.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

My Neightborhood -- Part II

If there is one thing most of us understand in the realm of physics is that eventually bubbles burst if they keep growing.  Maybe someday we will have a bubble material that expands endlessly, but not so at this time.  This applies to that housing bubble back in 2008 where the market growth and collapse brought the good and the bad down together.  Banks loaned money that should not have been lent and then sold the bad paper to another.  In the case of my neighborhood, a builder bought a piece of land that had a reality like a dark cloud hanging over it that he did not see. I wisely saw the housing collapse ahead of time if not being able to pin point its exact fall or extent.  I don't get much right in this world and this was a lucky call.  We sold our big house to move down here in a bit of a rush (I was not yet retired) because I was worried about the real estate bubble and being unable to sell my house.  I rented in the city for over two years and put my furniture in storage before I left my job.

If you read my prior post you note that there are some very wealthy people living here.  In most cases they are people that grew up here, earned their wealth here, and decided to stay.  There are also other people, like my husband and I, that while not rich, would be considered upper middle class by most standards, although our house is the smallest in the neighborhood --- so we just squeeze in there.  There are also a number empty lots in my neighborhood sitting idle because they claim a price to high to justify the type of house that would need to be built.  There is one large house on the water, the one with the tennis court, that sits idle as the owner rarely stayed here and has now passed on and his children may be deciding what to do with it.

Now, back to our builder.  When we bought our lot where we built I would drive by that builder's lot at the front end of the turn to our neighborhood a number of times.  They had cleared the land and I was wondering what was going to be built on that place.  Then a hurricane came through shortly after the clearing of that lot that brought down about 15 big pine trees on one side.  Building came to a halt while those trees were cleared away.

Finally, slowly, the house began to be built.  It was a big colonial which is popular in my state.  It was nicely landscaped and the builder seemed to have a good design.   It is all brick which is another step up in architecture where many homes have brick facing only.

It sat for some months after it was put up for sale and eventually the builder moved in.  He parked his big trucks, his boat, etc. in the driveway and the for sale sign still sat on the road.  The next year I was walking by and met a young woman with a toddler in front of the drive.  She explained she was the builder's sister and he had allowed her family to move in to help with expenses.  She was clearly delighted to be in this nice house.  More months went by.  I do not remember seeing any real estate agents showing the house, but I live a half mile down the road.  The asking price was in the high $400,000s.  This is not an outrageous price for this area, but the market had collapsed and there were no buyers anywhere. 

And then one day as I took my walk I saw the house was empty.  No cars, a few strewn toys, and padlocks on the doors.  Another year went by and the house was showing its neglect.  The neighbors and I tried to track the paperwork to see who owned it, but the mortgage had been sold and re-sold and now belonged to some conglomerate on the other side of the country!

As time passed, the house began to be robbed of its various parts and later used by others for overnights.  It does not take long before appliances, copper pipe, etc is gone! "They -- who now own the paper" put a log across the driveway which seemed to reduce the vagrancy.

This week I saw the log had been sawed into chunks and the driveway was open once again.  Maybe an investor has purchased it and has the capital to re-dress this grandam to her former glory.  I hope so, because I worry about fire in my woods and do not like to see such sadness.

The story of lives in distress, having no place to hang a hat, and craftsmanship destroyed is very depressing.  I could mourn the issue of my property values being compromised, but that hardly seems fair as this is a microcosm of happenings elsewhere, some far worse.  Seems we have forgotten this issue in our current election where bathrooms used have taken center stage.