Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What's Good For The Goose...

More and more, I've been stealing away from my work during the day to pass a little time down by the pond.  The amount of wildlife I see in just those few minutes absolutely astonishes me.  Every day is different.

This week, camera in hand, I saw...

A red-shouldered hawk.  Two blue jays were noisily harassing him in what's known as "mobbing behavior" in an attempt to drive him from their territory.

A great blue heron.

A beautiful little blue heron, in the same family as the one above but a completely different bird. 

A pair of ducks.


Always dragonflies...

Always turtles...

Always fish...

Look!  We have muskrats!

As you can guess from the name, muskrats are rodents and so named for the smell they leave when they mark their territory.  They build mud 'lodges' for winter protection, and people used to predict the severity of the coming winter from the thickness of these burrows.  They peacefully co-exist with beavers, which is good, because we've got those too.

Despite the fact that I stomp through the thick leaves around the water's edge, I haven't seen many snakes.  Just this one, at a distance.

Todd called me out last night, though, to show me a snake in the yard.

It was a black rat snake, probably five or so feet long.  Perfectly harmless and good to have around, although Todd was horrified to see it start to climb a tree while we watched.

They are very skillful climbers, and it was pretty cool to watch him go!

We'll be spending a lot more time outside soon.  We're *almost* done with our late spring yard maintenance.  I've spent hours and hours this past week cutting back the hated mahonia plants so that Todd can shear off the trunks with his chain saw.  Their leaves are needle-sharp and my hands are positively dripping blood by the time I finish with them.

Their only redeeming quality, in my eyes, is their gorgeous mustard-colored wood fibers.  I bet they'd make an amazing dye.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The White Stuff

I joked to Todd recently that I've been poisoned (ivy), bit (mosquitoes), stung (bee), and burned (sun), all in the same day.  That's the perils of working outside when you live in kind of a wild, unruly place, but that certainly won't keep me inside.  Especially this week, which I'm proclaiming the return of the white.  Not very catchy, but it's accurate.

Magnolias are blooming.

They don't last too long off the tree before browning and dropping their filaments, but I look forward to that part, because I think the filaments look like teeny, tiny matches.

And, oh, the gardenias!  Suddenly the air is full of their scent and I won't close the windows for a month.

Our nandina bushes are setting up for their fall berries with tiny white flowers.

Some have a pinkish hue, reminding me a bit of the Autumn Joy sedum (second photo) at our old place.  They look almost identical, don't they? 

The hostas are shooting up purple flowers so pale that they almost looks white.

The astilbes I planted a year or so ago are coming up faithfully, but they're a bit "weedy" for my taste.  Now I understand why it's recommended that you plant them en masse and in a spot where a mid-summer bloomer can come up and take their spot.

The weather is so nice that I take Bosewichte outside for a little of the green he craves.

Tabitha sometimes ventures out onto the porch...

...but she's usually much too busy indoors for that.

Finally, to commemorate the beautiful summer days, a rhubarb-strawberry pie that Todd absolutely devoured (recipe here). 

I'm looking forward to many more beautiful summer days.  Hope you're having a great week!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Full Plate (Set)

I've missed seeing the pop of color that the irises gave the front bed.

I planted bags and bags of zinnias and cosmos there recently, and edged the bed with 15 geranium plants (only $1 each from the clearance bin at Lowe's!).

They are slowly starting to come up, but for now, green is our predominant color.  All the bushes have little green berries now.

New moss is 'sprouting.'

There are these tiny white flowers on one of our bushes:

There's a tree growing in the woods here that has beautiful cascading white flowers.  The smell is a little strong, but I've been bringing in branches to make bouquets.

I've got my usual company when working outside.  Clotilde can sometimes be found napping nearby.

We have a new little visitor that I've been calling Vance, but then I remembered Vance Refrigeration from The Office, and so it's back to the drawing board.  He's a very shy little boy.

Bosewichte gets agitated by the visitors and tries to keep an eye on things from the inside.

I've tried to leash train him recently, thinking that he'd enjoy being outside.  However, that didn't exactly go as planned.

Tabitha hasn't shown much of an interest in getting outside.  This is what she prefers:

The weather has been so nice that Todd and I have taken our Scrabble games down to the pond.

We've got the deck furniture out now, too.

That was a great yard sale find.  Speaking of yard sales, I found a killer one this weekend.  Loads of rubber stamps, inks, paper punches, embellishments, ribbons, stickers...stacks and stacks of plain construction paper and specialty paper...a gigantic Creative Memories scrapbook tote, complete with 2 new scrapbooks...all for $50!!!

It was an amazing deal!  The value was well over $1000.

The thrifting love continued today, when I found a set of hand-painted plates for $4 at Goodwill.  Seven supper plates and three saucers with a zinnia border.  Zinnias are one of my favorite flowers.  I normally don't like flowered dishes, but I think these are so charming.  I might track down the missing saucer and plate on eBay to make a full set. 

Have a great week!