Saturday, May 15, 2021

Like a Disney movie

Over the past six months or so the boys and I have become consistent twice-daily walkers. We take George out very early in the morning and then again after dark for a lap or two around the half mile circle that is our little neighborhood. Partly because of the timing, but maybe in part because we're actively looking, we see so much wildlife lately.


Yesterday I snapped this photo of our neighborhood deer, who are almost tame. (I apologize for the crappy picture; it was my cell phone camera). There were actually three but I didn't notice that until they started to saunter away. George stood stock still and just looked at them, as he's learned to do. We encounter these same three deer (a large female and two smaller animals of undetermined sex) almost every day and we always stop for awhile and just quietly look at each other.  Last night we saw the large one standing in this same yard, close to the road, a big black silhouette under the street lights. Sometimes they'll even lower their heads and graze in our presence! It feels like such a privilege to have them around and to have their trust.

We've been seeing lots of rabbits, too. One of our neighbors has a large shady yard sloping downwards in the back towards a small pond, and the whole grassy hill is covered in dandelions. It's really pretty and that's the yard where we usually spot rabbits. We saw one over there just this morning, in fact. Afterwards we saw a pair of bluebirds flitting around some power lines and pine trees and the male was the most spectacular shade of blue I've ever seen. 

It's also that time of year when we see large turtles all around the neighborhood. The other night we saw one crossing the road and I swear it's shell was at least 12 inches in diameter, obviously an older turtle. It's been a couple of weeks since we've seen an owl, but one night early this week we heard two of them making crazy jungle noises in a tall tree. Sometimes I'll wake up at night and if my bedroom window is cracked I'll hear them calling to each other.

Add to all this the cardinals nesting in our pomegranate tree and the little Carolina Wrens nesting in the attic vent slates on our roof, and as I told Gregg this morning, "It's like living in a Disney movie right now!" I like it a lot. Who knew buying a house so close to the creek would be so perfect for nature lovers like us? We feel very fortunate.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wednesday tidbits

It's been an unseasonably chilly day here today. The high temperature only reached the mid 50s, which is more like February than May in South Carolina. Personally, I'm enjoying it. The heat and awful humidity will be along shortly, no doubt.

We've also gotten some much-needed rain. The last several weeks have been very, very dry and watering with the hose just isn't the same. Despite the cool temperatures and lack of rain, my garden seems to be flourishing. Knock on wood.



You may remember I mentioned a female cardinal had built a nest in our pomegranate tree. She's been sitting on it, but so far hasn't produced any eggs. I know because I snuck over there and reached up high to snap a picture with my phone when I noticed that she (and her mate) were off somewhere for a minute.


Isn't that a pretty piece of workmanship, though? There's even a strip of clear plastic woven in on one side which you can see in this picture. And the pomegranate is blooming like never before, so it's going to be a pretty place for a clutch of baby birds to come into the world. There are so many flowers on the tree this year that I'm beginning to think we may even get a few fruits for the first time! Baby birds and pomegranates...how cool is that?


Here's something else I wanted to show you. Early Sunday morning we took George to the park down the road from our house, and had it all to ourselves. The city has just had a nice new skate park built over on one side and I got a photo of it.




It's bigger and nicer than it looks in this photo. Usually we see lots of kids with skateboards having a great time on this super-smooth new skating area. I never could use a skateboard as a teenager. I had several good friends in high school that were stoner/skater type boys, but I was too clumsy and uncoordinated to even stand up on a board. How some of those guys would have loved having a place like this to practice! They had to make do with homemade ramps and such when we were growing up. I feel lucky as an adult that I have easy access (less than a mile from my home) to one of the nicer parks in our county. This particular one has five (I think) baseball fields....speaking of which....

My buddy Little P. is playing baseball for the first time this year, and they play most of their games at this park! Gregg and I went to one a couple of weeks ago to see him play. It was so much fun! I know very little about baseball, but Gregg and his brother and sister played for years when they were growing up. Little P. didn't know we were coming, and we walked up to the side of the fence just as the game was starting. When he came to the outfield close to where we were standing, I started to go over and call to him, but Gregg stopped me and said, "If he knows you're standing here watching him he won't be able to concentrate" and he was right. A few minutes later he happened to look our way, spotted us, and for the rest of the game he kept checking to see if we were looking. :) He was so happy we came to see him! 


(Little P. is number 12 at the bottom left).

Speaking of P., his mom asked me if he could hang out at my desk for my last 30 minutes yesterday while she went to a meeting. Of course I said yes, and was happy to have him. He got on a roll telling me silly fart jokes and making me laugh, until I finally made him take a selfie with me while we were giggling. Of course he had to pretend to be picking his nose while I took the picture! That child is such a joy to me.


Q: What do you get when you eat bean and onion soup?

A: Tear gas!


Q: What do you call a dinosaur fart?

A: A blast from the past!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Mother's Day Eve

Wishing all the mothers out there a happy Mother's Day tomorrow! I hope your kids shower you with as much love as you deserve.

I'll be spending the day with this little troublesome (but beautiful!) son of mine:


And, of course, the other one, too.



I  love them both so much! They are my babies. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Random odds and ends

 No one particular topic springs to mind for a blog post today, so I'll just post some random junk and observations.

  • It's been the longest school year EVER. I guess that's because last year didn't seem to end, it just stopped in March 2020 due to the lockdowns and became a weird, slow, kind-of-work-from-home situation. Then we went back in September with crazy strict Covid precautions, stress, an extra long winter break, and now we're finally almost at full capacity with students again. The majority of the students returning to face to face learning since spring break has led to the expected return to middle school craziness. Meanwhile, we're in the process of becoming a three grade school (sixth, seventh, and eighth instead of just seventh and eighth) and also becoming a STEM magnet school. In addition, we have to go an extra two weeks this year to make up for our late start. June 11th is the last day this year, and I swear it can't get here quickly enough!
  • Speaking of work, an assistant who was hired this year to assist with part of my job responsibilities has turned out to be a real pain in my.....you get the idea. She's the most worthless employee I've had the misfortune to work with since the days of the bookstore. She's frequently absent, late, and is NEVER where she's supposed to be or doing what she's supposed to be doing. She's always hiding out in the library or cafeteria doing absolutely nothing and I keep having to take up her slack. Then to add insult to injury, she was horribly rude to me the other day, then proceeded to come stand in front of my desk and start screaming at me and attempting to get me to argue with her. The principal heard the commotion and came out and said, "ENOUGH!! THIS IS OVER!" but it didn't stop her from going all around the school running her mouth and talking sh*t about me. One of her complaints is that the principal "always sides" with me over her. Well, you damn straight he does! He knows she's worthless and trashy and I hope (and expect) that she won't be offered a contract next year. It's made work somewhat uncomfortable this week, but she's finally apparently decided that no one is siding with her so she's at least speaking to me again. I only speak to her when it's absolutely necessary and I'm polite, but very distant. Ugh. 
  • I need to see my doctor. Maybe it's stress, but my eczema is out of control again. My feet and ankles are an itchy, weepy, inflamed mess. It's really bad, and REALLY unsightly. My allergies have been worse, too, and it's triggered my latent asthma. I've taken to using an inhaler again at night, otherwise I wake up wheezing. Then yesterday a huge cold sore broke out all over my upper lip. It's all pretty miserable. At least we're still wearing masks so no one can see my lip!
  • Lest you think everything is bad.....I saw my first tiny tomato in the garden yesterday! That was a happy moment. We also got some rain over the last two days after a record setting dry April. We certainly need it.
  • Marco is sitting on my shoulder as I type this, being a sweetie. He's preening my hair and watching the computer screen as I type. George is a love bug these days, too. If only I could hang out with animals all day instead of people!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Day garden update

 Happy May Day! We've been working hard in the garden lately and everything is growing and thriving. I'm getting so much pleasure from working outside this spring!


The mixed annuals are so pretty right now.


The sky one afternoon last week. That beautiful blue.


For the first time, my pomegranate tree is covered in flower buds! And although you can't really tell in this picture, a pair of cardinals have made a nest back in there which we have a great view of from the window in our den.


We took down half of an old wooden picket fence that was leaning and sagging and generally looking bad. This is a trellis we built yesterday from wood that we saved. Waste not, want not, right? This is where I'll be planting the cantaloupes tomorrow. I bought compost and garden soil to mix into the planting holes.

Gregg would not be happy that I'm sharing this picture, but you can really tell how the tomatoes have grown in it and capturing his image was an accident. Shhhh....nobody tell him!




Finally, more repurposed wooden pickets that I put behind the five biggest indeterminate tomatoes this morning. They will serve as stakes to tie the plants to when they start to get tall.

Happy May Day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A surprising update

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”― Albert Einstein

I have some pretty astounding news about little Eggbert!

First, to answer a few questions you all had about him/her. It became pretty obvious yesterday that it was a baby mockingbird (more about that later). With a few exceptions, like doves for instance, baby birds need soft, meaty food. No, I didn’t mouth feed him (!!), nor did I go searching for worms and such. No, the easiest and best thing to feed tiny baby birds is moist dog food. It’s cheap, easy, and most importantly, full of protein and water to meet all the babies’ nutritional needs. During daylight hours young birds need to be fed small amounts every 20 minutes or so. It made for a busy time yesterday, popping into a quiet back office to feed Eggbert while also attending to my job. I’ll admit I wasn’t looking forward to another week or two of bringing an increasingly active and vocal bird to work with me, but I was resigned to the job. Goodness knows I’ve done it countless times in the past!

Nature had a surprise in store for me, though.

After I got home yesterday afternoon and changed clothes, I fed Eggbert and put him in a large clear plastic container to give him more room to move around than the little box he had spent the day in. Then I brought him out to the screened porch where Gregg and I sit every afternoon, so that he could get some fresh air and sunshine. While we talked about the day, little EB started running around, hopping, and stretching his wings out. He was also loudly vocal, in that persistent baby-bird kind of way.

After about 20 minutes of this, we noticed two adult mockingbirds hanging around nearby and acting agitated. We looked at each other……could it be….?? We decided to try an experiment. We put the plastic container out in the backyard and waited to see what would happen. Immediately the two adults started hopping all around the box, calling to the baby and trying to figure out how to get to him. Finally I walked as quietly as possible out there and lifted Eggbert out onto the grass then retreated to the porch to wait and watch. Sure enough, the mother and father birds immediately started bringing tidbits over and feeding their baby! We couldn’t believe our eyes! 

Our backyard is only a little way from where we found the little guy earlier in the morning, and obviously the parents heard his calls from the porch and came to find him. As soon as they had fed him a few times, one of the adults started coaxing him over to the back fence and the large hedge behind it.

Never once in all my years of rescuing baby birds have I seen anything like that happen. Gregg and I were astonished. It was pretty clear he was their baby; he got excited when they found him and started doing the classic mockingbird thing, running a few steps and then flexing his wings, running a few more steps, flexing again, and already you could see the white bars on his wings. Mockingbirds have very defined territories when they have a nest so I’m certain there were no others nesting anywhere close by.

So Eggbert is back in the care of his parents! Can you believe that? I would have a hard time believing it myself if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!


Monday, April 26, 2021

Eggbert

 While out on our early morning walk with George this morning, we saw a cat acting oddly. It was crouched beside the road in a stalking position and wouldn't move even as an 80 pound dog walked past. Then I glanced down at the ground under a tree and saw a tiny baby bird in the grass. 

Dilemma! 

We couldn't see a nest anywhere to return it to and no parent birds were to be seen. In most cases it's best to leave baby birds alone, even when they're on the ground, because the parents will continue to care for it. But there was the cat. We were sure the helpless baby would be a snack as soon as we walked away if we didn't do something. 

Meet Eggbert.




Eggbert had to come to school with me today and he's been eating like a champ. He stands up and squeals loudly for food every few minutes. Thank goodness he'll be ready to be on his own in a week or two.....feeding out a fledgling is a lot of work!

I couldn't just leave him to die, though, so for the next several days at least I have a new little pal.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Quickie

 It's been a week since I last posted (holy cow, the days do fly) and I wanted to pop in and say hello to everyone. We've had a week of excellent spring weather. Over the weekend my husband, for the first time in his life, started taking an interest in gardening. I'd picked up a few more plants to put in, including some cantaloupe seedlings, and he helped me dig the grass and weeds out of a new bed so I'll have somewhere to put them. That's hard work and I was so grateful!  A couple of weeks ago we tore down a crumbling wooden picket fence on our property and salvaged as many pickets and boards from it as we could, and now he's planning to help me build a trestle with some of them for the melons to grow on. The tomatoes, peppers, and herbs I planted are doing great....knock on wood. Tonight the temperature is supposed to drop to 38 degrees and while that's still well above freezing, it's awfully cold. I hope I don't lose anything because of it. I suppose it's still early in the season, though, and small plants can be replaced if need be. 


That's a basket of flowers I got for my mom, since her birthday was last week, but now it looks like I'll be keeping them for myself. After not seeing her for almost a year (between the huge fight we had last fall and Covid I haven't been in any hurry to resume a relationship) I was trying do the right thing and spend the day with her and my dad for her birthday. We had plans to go out and eat on Saturday but she messaged me on Facebook at the last minute and made a weak excuse to get out of it. It made me a little sad, but more than anything I was just relieved. I'm not comfortable....at all...around my parents anymore, particularly my mother, and so I was actually dreading the reunion and its almost inevitable awkwardness. Maybe she was too. Ah, well.

On a happier note, I'm really looking forward to tonight. My book club is finally meeting again after 14 months! We're all vaccinated now so we can. It's going to be wonderful to see these friends again, and I've missed our club more than almost anything else this past year. I'm about to get off the computer and go make some guacamole to take along. My friends love my homemade guac and since this is our reunion meeting I wanted to bring something. We read and will be discussing This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Here's a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

In the summer of 1932, on the banks of Minnesota's Gilead River, the Lincoln Indian Training School is a pitiless place where Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to Odie O’Banion, a lively orphan boy whose exploits constantly earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Odie and his brother, Albert, are the only white faces among the hundreds of Native American children at the school.

After committing a terrible crime, Odie and Albert are forced to flee for their lives along with their best friend, Mose, a mute young man of Sioux heritage. Out of pity, they also take with them a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy. Together, they steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi in search for a place to call home.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphan vagabonds journey into the unknown, crossing paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, bighearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.
 

I don't have time to write up a proper review here, but I can tell you that this book was wonderful. One of the best things I've read in the last couple of years. I highly recommend it!

Well, off to mash some avocados....back soon.