Sunday, July 27, 2014

Finches and Pinches



Not much to report of late, as a matter of fact I've been a bit out of pocket recently.  At first it was because of the 4th of July holiday, then we had company in from out of town, then I was having computer issues, and within the last couple of weeks I have had a pinched nerve in my arm...which makes being on the computer difficult.

I have had it checked out and it turns out I have "golfer's elbow," which is kind of ironic since I don't golf!  And in all the years that I played competitive tennis, I never once developed tennis elbow, yet somehow I now have golfer's elbow...go figure!  Maybe I should take up the game and see if it makes my elbow/shoulder/upper arm better?!




With my arm out of commission I haven't been taking pictures, holding the camera is one of those things that seems to irritate it, but I did make an exception when a female Goldfinch decided it had to have an afternoon snack and landed on the Anise Hyssop plant on our patio.

A male often joins her on the plant, and they happily pluck the lavender flowers, which apparently are quite yummy.  If you look closely at the image above you will see that she has a blossom in her beak, and you can also see that many of the small lavender blooms that fill each stalk are missing.

The male is much brighter yellow, and a striking fellow I must say, but the plant is located not too far from our sliding door, so whenever I try and open it to take a shot they both hurry away as though they'e been caught red, or in this case purple, handed!

This is the first year I have tried to grow Hyssop, but it won't be the last.  I originally wanted the pink/coral variety, but the anise was all I could find in my area.  There seems to be some debate as to whether the variety I have is the same as the traditional European hyssop herb which is prized for its healing powers.  You can read more about anise hyssop HERE

Whatever healing powers it may or may not have doesn't seem to prevent the birds and bees from loving it.  The stalks are full to the brim all day long with bees, which seem a bit addicted to its flavor, or perhaps the magic it possesses.  And for now, the goldfinches seem quite content as well.

I will be away a bit longer as I try to let this arm of mine heal.  Wishing you all a very happy week ahead!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lost in Transition


While getting rid of some of the spam comments on my blog this past week, I realized that lots of comments are getting hung up in the system somehow.  I noticed comments I had never received, nor responded to, which had been posted on my blog that I was completely unaware of.




These were not spam comments, but thoughtful comments left by kind people and I never even thought to check each post to see the comments, because the comments are supposed to show up in my email.  Yet another thing about blogging that makes me sigh.

Although I don't respond to each and every comment that comes my way, I hate thinking that I've missed some and never would have known about them had I not gotten rid of spam, which seems to be well equipped at getting through.  So to those of you who I've missed, please know that it wasn't intentional, it was simply absentmindedness on my part!




We have been plugging along with the massive garage clean up...yup it was that messy that it's taken this long to remedy, and it's still not perfect, but much closer to perfection than it has been in 7 years...and that makes me very happy!

The time consuming part is that we couldn't just throw stuff out en masse, but we had to open each box and container to see what treasures they held, then decide if they were still "our" treasures, or if we should turn them into someone else's treasures.




It's funny how something can seem so important to you at one point in your life, yet just a few years later you are ready to part with it because it no longer holds the same meaning for you that it once did.  I guess as we transition through life our priorities change right along with our tastes and sentimentality.

What we found was that we were way more sentimental about our children's books, games, and toys than they were.  When I asked our daughter if she wanted us to keep her Go Go The Walking Pup dog...a must have one Christmas when she was little as it had a leash and could walk on its own thanks to the magic of batteries...she responded with a text that read "I have no idea what Go Go The Walking Pup even is, so yes donate it!"

We got a similar reaction from our son regarding his childhood toys, except that he went online to see if they were worth anything first...ahhh to be young and in the phase where a few bucks supersedes the "remember when" factor...but his sentimental transition will come, one day.


 (Orchard Oriole)

I feel like lately I'm a little lost in transition rather than lost in translation.  My sentimentality has shifted, and I now treasure moments, not things, much more than I once did.  I've never been one to value possessions over people and memories, but sometimes parting with items that represent a certain stage or point in our lives can be difficult, especially when those items were gifts from people who are no longer here, or those items belonged to, and were treasured by those who have passed on.  Or worse yet, they magically transport you back to when your children were little.

When you get rid of those items it can be both freeing and a bit daunting.  And what is meaningful differs from person to person.  As we stood dripping with sweat in the garage sorting through childhood memories, I could see that what brought back memories of our children when they were young for Mr. Tide was often different than what I found difficult to let go of.




In the end, we were able to let go of the stuff and focus on the here and now, and the gift that we are able to make new memories, with the bonus of having a clean garage!

I can hardly believe that it is July already, back during our long winter it seemed like such a distant time, this wonderful season of summer which I love so much.  Like the toys our children once loved, the seasons are fleeting and we need to focus on the present and not long for the past or wish for the future.





I think I'm going to like being lost in transition for as long as it lasts, for we know that this too shall pass, and everything really is just one phase leading us into another throughout our lives.

I plan to keep getting rid of things which tie me down, force me to worry about them, or cause me stress over where to put them.  And I also plan to enjoy every single day in a way that I thought I had in the past, but now realize that I really wasn't.  

That means less time on the computer, which I've been enjoying SO much, more time spent with friends and family, less time worrying about having a perfect house before having everyone over for a big dinner, more walks in the evening, more time in the kayaks, and less time doing the things I don't really feel passionate about...like weeding for instance! ;)

I know many of you are in a transitional phase yourselves, and I hope you let yourself get lost a little, because knowing where you're headed all of the time can be so boring!  Happy July!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

All Mine


The weeks are flying by it seems, and this time of year is always hectic for us.  We have birthdays, mother's day, father's day, our anniversary, and other celebrations that are all clumped together from late April until mid June.  Although it has been a bit crazy around here, I feel like we've accomplished so much already this spring, and I hope the rest of the warmer months will be equally as productive.

Although we've spent lots of hours cleaning and getting our yard back in shape...or maybe I should say in better shape, we have taken time to just enjoy this time of year by hanging out on our back patio in the evenings.

Last weekend the weather was picture perfect, low humidity, breezy, and almost cool'ish as the sun was setting each night, so we would go out after dinner and watch for our little hummingbirds to visit the feeder we have placed not far from where we sit.  Of course I take my camera with me sometimes in hopes of catching these little creatures that move so quickly.




Sometimes, trying to get a good shot of them is a lesson in sheer frustration, but for whatever reason, I try and try again.  And although they don't seem to mind if we are outside, they don't really like us to be too close, and they seem to sense when I have the camera, and become well, camera shy!

I was so excited when the female pictured in the 2 photos above, sat still just long enough for me to capture a nice shot of her complete with a pollen covered beak.





Rarely do they land on the feeders when we are out, but instead they flit back and forth from hole to hole watching their backs the whole time.




This year we seem to have a bossy female, and her equally bossy female nemesis, and the two of them fight non stop over our feeder.  In years past we've had at least 2 feeders, and our neighbor usually has several as well, but this year we bought a new feeder, and threw out our old ones that were brittle and in poor shape due to the unrelenting sun we get here.

And our neighbor hasn't put her feeders out yet, so we seem to be the only game in town, so maybe that's why they seem so territorial at the moment.




As soon as one female comes in to drink, the other female is lying in wait with a not so secret sneak attack in mind.




Each female takes quick rapid sips from the feeder, all the while knowing that the other one will soon be there to shove her off for her own dining pleasure.




They often spar for a bit, and then the other one will fly off to our maple or cherry tree, chattering the whole way, as if she is cussing out the other one in secret hummingbird language.

This goes on for quite some time, and they never seem to come to any kind of understanding that there are multiple holes in the feeder, and the more the merrier concept seems completely lost on these two alpha females.




I've only seen a male at the feeder a handful of times, and my guess is that he's just happy to stay out of the fray of these bossy little ladies.




It reminds me of that scene in Finding Nemo where the seagulls are all saying "mine, mine, mine" as they fight over who will win the prize of something yummy to eat.




And of course they don't even seem interested in the various flowers I have planted to help give them an artisanal selection of nectars to choose from.  Thankfully the bees, moths, and butterflies don't mind sharing, and are happy with the flowers I selected for their cafe style dining experience.

I guess hummingbirds can be a lot like people...worried that if they share, they might miss out on something really good.  Perhaps they've never read the saying below!

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle
~James Keller~ 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Certain Sweetness


The past week has been fraught with change, some good, some bad.  With change comes a certain realization that things never remain constant, and for the most part that is a good thing, it is a way to make us grow even when we don't know that we need to.




Mr. Tide has taken a few days off from work and we've been busy cleaning out our garage, a task that was 7 years overdue.  Ever since we moved in to our "not so" new house, the garage has been a dumping ground for all things to be dealt with later.

It became the place we put the stuff from the attic at our old house as this house doesn't really have an attic.  It also became the place where the spare items from our renovation went to die...you never know when you will need that 3 inch piece of crown moulding, right? or how about that marble sink you got for a steal?!  It had to house our tools, including the riding mower, rototiller, etc.  It became our sports center, though truth be told some of those balls, sticks, and racquets haven't seen the light of day in a very long time!  And holiday stuff...forgetaboutit!




Of course there is the furniture that never quite fit in this house, but will work just great when your son gets his first apartment, so you better hang on to that.  The lawn furniture that you use for half the year.  The memorabilia from kids growing up...you can't part with that!  And don't even get me started on the number of pots I have...I could seriously open a nursery if I had the gumption to plant and water a million potted plants!

I did finally wise up this year and planted far fewer things that will require watering during our sometimes scorching summers...but that doesn't really account for the number of pots I have acquired over the years, perhaps I should add this to my shoe and flower obsessions.  On second thought, lets just blame it on the fact that I did inherit a lot of those pots and leave it at that.




I will say that over the past 3 days we have been taking stock of all of this "stuff" that was SO important to us that we schlepped it from one house after another, and haven't looked at much of it for 7 years now!

And along the way as we've cleared, cleaned, and contemplated, I figured out something very important.  My tastes have changed...a lot!  I don't mean in the last 7 years, but in the last 6 months.  I crave simplicity the way a person in the desert craves water.

I no longer want a bunch of "stuff" that I have to lug from place to place, and so I'm letting go.  I have never really been one to hoard things, I can't even really wrap my head around the concept of hoarding to be honest, and I feel for those who do suffer from that particular compulsion.

But in a way, we are all hoarders of sorts, no matter how small.  We tell ourselves that this or that will be important to us one day, we can't part with things people have given us, even if we never loved that thing to begin with.  Or as in my case, I often think "oh you should save that for the kids or maybe put it on Craig's List or sell it at a yard sale," all the while knowing that my kids probably won't want it, and the idea of having a yard sale gives me hives!  I mean really, getting up at 5 am after spending hours putting price tags on stuff that's only worth a quarter and then haggling with people who want to pay 5 cents for something really isn't my thing.  Though I am sometimes secretly jealous of those of you who do make the effort to go to yard sales and find amazing stuff...you know who you are Linda and Terri!!! :)




For me, and much more so as I grow older, the letting go is the simplest part.  There is a certain sweetness in filling up the back of your truck with bits and bobs that you know people will love discovering at the local thrift store.

Each trip we make to the dump, to the recycling center or thrift store is like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders.  And with each square inch of real estate I gain back in my garage I feel a sense of joy come over me.

Maybe it's the little things in life we are truly craving while we're busy accumulating or pinning things we hope to accumulate!  Like watching the muskrats swim back and forth all day long, perhaps accumulating their own clutter as they move from den to den?  Or the sweet smell of honeysuckle that wafts through the house from along our fenceline.  Or a very tuckered pup who thinks that all that crap you have is just something wonderful to cover in dog fur. 

Whatever has taken hold of me and turned me into a conscientious objector in the war on "buy more, it will make you happy," I'm liking it and I plan to keep ridding myself of things I no longer want or need.  By the time I reach 100, I should pretty much have a computer desk, a chair, and a bed...and that should be just about perfect, I think. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Revery


I know some people hate bees...and clover, but I love both!



We hadn't seen very many bees yet this year, though we have been very accommodating in not mowing all the clover that blankets our yard until it's knee high to a possum or we can't see the dogs! ;)  Then on Saturday, the bees finally arrived, and by the looks of the little lady above, they've been very busy while we weren't looking.  Check out those pollen saddlebags!!!...she is bringing home the proverbial flower bacon!




I have to say that both Mr. Tide's and my heart skipped a beat when we saw this lovely honey bee, and some of her brethren.  We have been worried about hive collapse and all the issues that seem to be challenging one of the most important creatures on our planet, and not seeing any this year had us wringing our hands a bit.

Did you know that some of the new hybridized flowers either don't produce much pollen, or that their necks are so long that pollinators such as honey bees can't access their pollen?!  Did you also know that all worker bees are female?

But as if to say..."thanks for not mowing the clover or killing the weeds and flowers we love with chemicals,"...these sweet bees gave us their nod of approval.  Thankfully, we won't have to rely on the revery as Emily Dickinson suggests, and the bees will find a way to overcome our notion that manicured, weedless, and flowerless are signs of a beautiful yard!


“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.” 
― Emily DickinsonThe Complete Poems

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dirty Little Secrets


It's not really a secret per se, but I have a few addictions that I feel I need to acknowledge for the sake of full disclosure.




I am woefully addicted to shoes...no really, I need a 12 step (pun intended) program.  My latest loves are strappy high heeled sandals.  So far I've acquired 2 pairs of brown, 2 pairs of black, though technically one of those is a wedge heel, so it doesn't really count right?!  And I'm still on the hunt for a pair of white and maybe some coral colored ones...I think I need an intervention soon!

I thought I had beaten my addiction to footwear, only to realize that it would likely be replaced by a handbag addiction, so for now I will stick with shoes because I find them on the cheap, and I've not been so lucky with finding dirt cheap handbags!





My other not so secret addiction is to flowers.  According to Mr. Tide, who has been doing a lot of genealogy on my side of the family, I'm descended from some fairly notable royals, so I blame them for this particular affliction...and now that I think about it, maybe for the penchant for shoes as well?!




The other day I was having a Marie Antoinette moment as I looked around and noticed that I had 5 separate vases of flowers all around me, and I was in scent heaven!

If someone were to peek through my windows, they would see me sniffing the wind like a bloodhound, soaking in every single bit of their delightful fragrance!  The peonies have been especially fragrant this year, and one small bouquet made almost my entire house smell like a French Palace...minus the negative 18th Century smells! :)




And I have been known to walk visitors around my yard (sorry family and friends) to make them smell each variety of rose in our garden, while giving them a running commentary of what "I" think each one smells like.  It usually goes something like this..."oh, see that one, it smells like Pez candy!"  Thankfully, no one seems to mind too much...it's not as though I'm saying, "hey, wanna smell something weird?!"




So that's the deal...my deepest, fashionably darkest, and smelliest secrets revealed!  I could probably go to therapy or try and break my addictions on my own, but why on earth would I want to do that?!

I'm off to bed, where it just so happens I can open my windows and have the smell of my New Dawn climbing rose waft into the room since it is growing up the wall by the window on my side of the bed.  

I think my ancestors would be proud...happy that I can still appreciate the finer things in life, all these generations later!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Remembrances


Remembrances of those who went before us, and laid down their lives for us.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Worth The Wait


Aside from my family, friends, and pets, there are few things I love more in this world than flowers.  I think it has something to do with the fact that my mother loved flowers and that one of her closest friends was a florist, so flowers were always an important design element around our house.

Flowers were used to adorn the exterior of our house, and inside they held a place of honor atop antique and vintage tables made of cherry, walnut, and tiger maple.




People used to stop and tell my parents how beautiful their yard was, especially in the spring when it was dressed in the latest finery of daffodils, tulips, cherry and plum blossoms, plus an array of other colorful blooms.

And on the farm property we own, my father decided to plant a half acre of Cosmos one year in shades ranging from deep fuchsia to white with just a hint of pink.  It was a show stopper, and something I intend to attempt at my own home this year...I have a bag full of Cosmos seed that promises to cover an acre!  All I need is someone to plow up the area and I'll be set to create my color explosion.




But of all the flowers my parents, grandparents, and friends all nurtured over the years, roses were never at the top of the list.  Sure, we had ramblers that managed, against all odds, to find their way into the nooks and crannies around various outbuildings, but formal roses just weren't on the menu for my family.

And yet my mother would drool when we visited historic homes and their formal rose gardens.  But I think she saw her house as a more humble abode, not worthy of such a prim and proper flower.




I think I likely had that notion for many years as well, until I met Connie of Hartwood Roses.  One short email exchange, or better yet, an in-person convo and visit to Connie's beautiful gardens will convince even the faintest of heart to grow roses.

There is just something about a rose that is unlike any other flower, and I'm a devoted fan of LOTS of flower species, but I am now addicted to roses!  Maybe it's their scent, or it could be their gorgeous shades that change as they mature and later wane...I don't know, but I do know that I love them.

I also love that their blossoms last well beyond my beloved peonies, lilacs, cherry blossoms...the list goes on and on.  And it is no surprise that royalty have prized, perfected, and pursued these delicate flowers for centuries.  I now join their ranks of admirers, and I bought 2 new David Austin rose bushes yesterday at a local nursery.  I had just left the nursery when my sister texted me with a picture saying she had also bought a David Austin, her first, just a half hour before at the same nursery.  I told her congratulations and gave her the "now you've gone and done it" talk, knowing she too will turn into one of those crazy rose loving gardners! :)




Some things need to be anticipated, like a big bunch of rose blossoms to grace your desk as you work, or a bowl of fresh, ripe strawberries grown organically and locally!




Maybe if we had these things at our disposal all year long we wouldn't appreciate their flavor, their scent, the magical impact they have on our senses.  Worth the wait?...you betcha!

Other things I've been waiting on that are now here...

1. Peonies
2. Hummingbirds
3. Lightning Bugs (just a few so far)
4. Sleeping with the windows open at night
5. Wearing shorts and flip flops
6. The smell of freshly mown grass

How about you, what do you wait for each spring?