Monday, April 25, 2016

Duck, Duck, GOSLINGS!!!

I've been peering across the pond, trying to keep an eye on our nesting goose...

...and I've finally been rewarded.  It's GOSLING TIME!!!!!  I've yet to get close enough for a good photo because the parents are very protective.  Here they are, across the pond...

...and I managed to get a quick shot this morning as they glided past our deck.

This group has a lucky number of seven goslings.  I just love watching them.  They grow so quickly!  I noticed that they're a little early.  Last year we didn't have goslings until the week of May 22nd. 

Speaking of birds, a really lovely red-tailed hawk landed in a tree outside my office window.  I fumbled for the camera and got two quick shots, one as he was turning to leave and one as he was taking off.  Still, his bright rust-colored tail feathers were on full display!

When we first moved to South Carolina, I quickly learned that many of the plants I had in our Indiana yard (columbines, lilacs, hydrangeas) didn't seem to do well here.  I just couldn't do without my peonies, though, and planted several.  Many were destroyed when our front trees came down, but four plants remained.  And, three years after planting,  ONE BUSH BLOOMED!  The flowers became very "blowsy" (as I call it) very quickly, not maintaining their original shape and drooping open after just a day or so.  Still, I really loved seeing them, even just for a few days.

Normally I take tons of photos over a typical weekend, but Todd and I have just been too busy.  The weather is perfect - no humidity, cool and in the 70s most of the day before climbing into the low 80s in the mid afternoon.  This is the time of year where we throw ourselves into yard work and last-minute house projects.  Todd is excavating our crawl space and building a concrete-walled room to create extra storage, and I've been doing the weeding/planting/pruning/staking yard maintenance work.  Our fence is up but not quite done yet, but Todd took some time out to make a second walkway.  The first was mainly for aesthetics, since our little tree right beside the path necessitated a pretty stooped walk to get past it.

I've mainly kept the camera next to me outside because I keep looking around and thinking, "Oh, it's so green!"  I don't know if it's the extra sun exposure that we have since cutting down those trees, but everything - the ferns, the liriope, the helleborus - is positively spreading and filling in everywhere.  I also hope that won't backfire on us in the heat of the summer, but I'm just going to enjoy it while I can.

I've got a few obligatory red geraniums on the porch, but haven't had time to do much else.

By June the yard will be in maintenance mode, the fence and spare room will be completed, and all the other little projects too.  We'll be able to spend evenings by the water, grilling out and playing board games.  I can't wait!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Going Bananas for Birthdays

The weather has been absolutely beautiful lately, so we decided to go hiking this weekend.  I brought the junky camera instead of my nice one, but at least I captured the mood of the day!

The ferns are in full swing.

So many wildflowers have already bloomed!

I love seeing fungus growing on downed trees.

I did see an eastern tent caterpillar, a real pest.  Hopefully this year they won't be too much of a problem.

Borga was dying to go for a long hike.  We used to do a minimum of 8 miles a week.  Now, we rarely go, since there isn't a good place that's close to us.  But we really enjoyed this hike.

Look at that smile!

She crashed hard on the way home.

It was Todd's birthday, so I made a 3-layer banana cake with toasted coconut cream cheese frosting (recipe here).  I'm not a fan of banana, but this cake was amazing.  Let's just say there was very little left for Todd to take to work on Monday.

I bought him several practical gifts, but I always try to do something handmade if possible.  This year I decided to embroider him an image of our pets.  I found some cartoon images online and traced them.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out!

Meanwhile, around here we've been loving the wildlife.  The anoles are everywhere, including, somehow, inside our house!

A pair of house finches hang out in the gardenia bushes outside my office window.  So pretty.

We've got our hands full with our "other" wildlife, too.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

Or rather, goodbye to our beautiful azaleas and camellias.  It's the time of year when the buds are dropping off the bushes and won't return until next spring.  But until then, I'll always have the photos...

Well, the end of one stage is the beginning of another.  We do have lots of blooming clematis.

Ferns are growing new leaves...

...and our trees are following the 'out with the old, in with the new' philosophy as well.

Our tulip trees are dropping their buds, which I love.  They really do resemble tulips.

I'm working hard on my bird call identification, but it's tough.  We have a lot of birds and so many calls sound like random twittering.  Now the birds are able to remain concealed among the leaves, which make it a bit more difficult.  I feel excited that I'm able to correctly identify the calls of both the black-capped and carolina chickadee, the carolina wren, blue jay, cardinal, eastern towhee, eastern phoebe, grey catbird, and white-throated song sparrow.  I get a huge thrill when I hear any of these calls and I always shout out the name (even if I'm home alone!).  Here is one of our commonly seen birds, the carolina wren:

A group of american goldfinches appeared yesterday.  Love the bright colors!

I keep the feeders filled, but most of the visitors are of the rodent variety:

At least they keep the cats entertained. 

Have a great week!