Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Know Spring Must Be Near

I'm not a birder and have difficulty identifying even the most obvious of birds, thankfully we have lots of blue birds and cardinals and that makes it a bit easier.  But I can enjoy the birds without knowing  precisely who they are, and frequently my husband helps me to identify them.  And as the days grow incrementally longer the sound of bird song begins to fill the air here in Coastal Georgia.
Right now the Starlings are visiting, they never
stay past Spring, but right now they're filling our trees with their song and their chatter.  I read recently that they are one of the most successful bird introductions in this country.  They were brought from England
 in 1890-91 and released into  Central Park in New York City as part of a project to bring 
in all the birds mentioned in William Shakespeare's writing.  I always enjoy the Starlings, flying in good-sized flocks and  swirling about the sky in massed formations.
Usually by this time we have a pair of Canadian Geese who come in to nest on the island in the lagoon in our b
ackyard, but there's been no sign of them this year and I will miss
 them.  They always came to be fed and when the goslings hatched they brought  them over for our inspection.  Perhaps they wintered over in Florida instead.
We do have 3 Mallards who come each year and they seem undeterred by the "cold" winter we've been having.  Though they'll eat what we throw them in the lagoon they flee to the water if we walk in the backyard to feed them.

White herons visit regularly to fish in the backyard, and Mac, while enjoying their beauty, is less than appreciative of them eating what he considers his fish. 




 A frequent visitor of our birdfeeder is this small redbellied woodpecker.  Why he's called bedbellied when its his throat that's red is beyond me.





The robins are all here, and they too are transients, staying a few weeks and traveling on.  But as they come just as Spring is coming
 I'm always glad to see them.









Our cardinals stay all year and are found everywhere in our neighborhood, hence the name
 of our subdivision, Redbird Creek. 
 Mac spotted his first bluebird yesterday,
 and of course all the LBJ's (little brown jobs) are here, as are the Carolina Chickadees.   We have a birdfeeder out for them, but the rascally
 squirrels get as much from it as the birds.





But if there is any better way to wake  up  than to birdsong I don't know
what it is, for it means Spring, though the thermometer may disagree, is on its way.










Thursday, February 25, 2010

Springlike Symptoms


This time of year is such a tease, warm springlike days, and then hard freezes at night.  I long for the softness of  spring.  While  working in the garden earlier this week I noticed that in addition to all my Spanish Bluebells that are coming up nicely (please bloom), that one of my purple Hyacinths is ready to open.  They are so pretty and last so long I always end up planting more of them.
We're going today to buy more lumber to make another raised bed.  Much of our plantings is done in raised beds because our water table is so high, we basically live in a swamp.  This bed will be an extension of Mac's vegetable garden with one end stepped up for me to plant more roses, climbers mainly.  I love roses and to quote Abraham Lincoln , "We can mourn 
that roses have thorns or rejoice that thorn bushes have roses".   I rejoice.
The freesias under the oak tree  are covered in "budlets"....have no idea what to call them, and are just waiting for a warm day to open.  The longer hours of sunlight say it's time, but the cold nights warn them to wait a bit.  They're usually our first bulbs to bloom, but this year it looks like the Hyacinths  may  beat them, and quite possibly the Daffodils as well for they are nearly ready to open.
I long for a long warm spring day where  I can start adding more plants to my  garden. What I fear is that we're going to have a long cold to cool spring and go directly into summer.  And summers in Georgia are a sight to behold.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Family History


I've been working on mine and Mac's family histories for a couple of months now.  I've hit some dead ends in his family and short of traveling to Spain I don't quite know what to do.  One of his 2nd cousins has been very helpful in sharing family memories and I do thank her.   The fact that family members also carry their Mother's maiden name helps some, but not enough.  I've been lucky enough to find his family's name on ships so I've been able to pinpoint their immigration, but records in Spain are harder to come by.  I've posted some inquiries on a message board in Spain, but so far no replies. 
Things have gone better on my side.  I've traced parts of my Dad's family to Germany, England and Switzerland.  He always said his Grandmother Ella Wyant was from England, but as far as I've been able to research she wasn't.
I traced her family back to Virginia and further back to Germany, but no English connections.
My Father, who was born in Missouri,  had always said that his  family had come from  Virginia and that the family was  related to General George Armstrong Custer, but so far I've found no connection, not sure I want to find a connection.  The Virginia part is correct though.
My Mother, who was born in Oklahoma, has a family history that I've traced back to Richmond County Georgia in the 1700's.  Her maiden name was Kennedy and I'm pretty sure they came from Ireland at some time, though Kennedy is a Scottish name too, but the only Irish connection I've found is her Great Grandfather Michael Finn.   My Mother had always said I had a Great, Great Grandfather known as Mickey Finn (that's slang for knockout drops) and sure enough  there he was.
It has been so interesting to trace the western migration of my family, from Europe to the East coast of America, to the South and across to the midwest.  Another thing I've noticed is  the repetition of names and that often helps in research.
I've searched a lot of census rolls and they've given a wealth of information, maybe I won't be so resentful when we fill out census forms this year.  Often the rolls list form of employment, where the person was born and even better, where their parents were born.
Genealogy.com has been wonderful, I could not have done it without them.  They're not free, but they're definitely worth the money.  Each day I add a little more to my tree and learn a little more about me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Invaders!


Watched Nature on PBS last night about new species being introduced into Florida either by owners who no longer want them or can't take care of them, so they simply take them out into the countryside and let them go or by "escaping" from exotic pet dealers.
These animals include parrots, macaws and other exotic birds, iguanas, Madagascar geckos, and more distessing, Burmese Pythons, Nile Monitor Lizards, and other, large unwanted snakes.  The authorities are making a concentrated effort to get the Pythons out of the Everglades to protect the endangered species there, but freely admit that they will not be able to stop their spread because, in addition to owners releasing them into the wild, they're breeding in the wild.  What started as a problem with dozens of pythons is now one of thousands of them.  Near Miami they hold an amnesty day for people to turn in exotic pets they no lon
ger want and they got everything from Amazonian parrots, to Burmese Pythons to a Howler Monkey.  And the official running the program said that seeing what is being brought in he worries what is being released.
I worry about this because we live at the swampy end of Georgia and whatever there is in Florida eventually makes its way up here.  I can't even begin to picture a 16 foot python crossing the road, it's enough to deal with the alligators we already have.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Interior Design Via Insomnia


I don't suffer from insomnia very often and so I don't have a lot of strategies for dealing with it.  I've tried solving the world's problems, but that drives me crazy and is better dealt with when I'm pulling weeds.  Don't like to count sheep, I always lose track which wakes me up more.  Can't toss and turn, that wakes Mac up,  and though he's understanding he  often threatens to tie me down.
I finally discovered that redecorating the house, room by room, is so boring that it usually puts me right to sleep.  Don't know why, when I'm awake it's something I enjoy doing, and in a house this size there's always room for improvement, but at night it's a real snooze fest.  Go figure.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Found Our Cottage



We found our English cottage, it's near Oxford, but in the south end of the Cotswolds.  It's a little beauty!  We confirmed it all today.  This is a beautiful area and I can't wait to do some painting and drawing there.   Near here is a place called Cogge's Farm that we really like. It is an 18th century farm that is run by a trust and gives you an idea of what life was like on a farm at that time.  We went to a steam fair there one year where they were using the old steam farm vehicles.  They're always cooking in the kitchen and the livestock wander about the place.  

Another place we like to visit in this area is Minster Lovell a beautiful little hamlet with a great restaurant and a ruined castle I love to paint.  We sat in the sun and watched a cricket game there one Sunday, though we still have no clue as to how this game is played or scored!


Lechlade is also near here, with good
pubs, a lovely church, a great junk store/antique mall,  and a walk along the Thames to Father Thames who is supposed to be the source of the Thames, and best of all lunch at The Trout.

We don't go for several months, but Mac has already dug out walk books and I'm starting to count days.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raviolis Redux


It's ravioli time, no more putting it off, it's time to haul out the pasta machine and roll out the pasta.  I'm making a meat sauce to put in them, I'm not a big cheese freak and prefer it in small doses, I'll put some in the meat sauce but I don't want to stuff the ravs with it.
Mac is going to help me roll out the pasta, I've decided it's a two person or 4 hand job, whichever you happen to have.  My ravs get better each time I make them.  The first time they were too tough, last time they weren't tough but fell apart in the water.  I'm going to make them a bit bigger so there's more room for stuffing.
Fingers crossed, and just in case, I'm making spaghetti to go with it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Cottage in the Country


In the English countryside that is.  Our trip to England is booked, we think the seats have been sorted out and now I must find us a place to stay.  Normally when we go we rent a cottage, and for the last half dozen times we've gone we've stayed in the Cotswolds and that's probably where we'll stay again.  Beautiful part of the country, decent weather, nice people, lots to see and do.
We've stayed in a number of interesting places:  a 17th century mill in Somerset, a thatched cottage in Devon, another thatched cottage in Wiltshire, a converted cowbarn in Shrophire, a half-timbered cottage in Shropshire, and a brick cottage on a horse farm near Stratford on Avon among other.
All of them were wonderful in their own way.  Staying in a cottage is so much better than a hotel room.  Most motels, and  that's what we stay in when we need a place just for a night or so, cost about a $100 and you can rent a cottage for about that much too, so the choice is easy, that is, it's easy choosing cottage over motel, but it's not easy picking which cottage.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Delta, Delta, Delta ...


I'd hate to think that Delta is in the business of hiring the incompetent but one does wonder.
On Saturday, after 3 days of playing with Delta online, Mac booked us tickets to England, picked our seats and paid for the tickets.  When the e-mail confirmation came through the seats were wrong.  So yesterday Mac tried all day to call Delta, but their phones kept saying that due to the snow emergency they were unable to answer their phones.
Today, Monday, he finally got through to what sounded like a native English speaker, a wonder in of itself, and explained the problem.  The lady checked, they had the right seats, the ones Mac had selected, and said they would send us a new confirmation.  And they did, with the same wrong seats.  Mac says he'll call again tomorrow.  And I'm thinking, do I really want to fly with people this incompetent?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waiting For Spring







I'm a gardener, I'd rather be in my garden than any other place I can think of.  It is said that God made rainy days so that gardeners would stay inside and clean their houses, and that's probably true.  I'd much rather muck about in my garden than dig in the corners of my house.  But this winter has seemed so long, and I've cleaned more house than I ever wanted to, so now I'm looking for signs of Spring which comes earlier in the South than other places.
One of the first trees to bud out it the Red Maple and they all started about a w
eek ago, freezing weather and all.
The first flowers to bloom are my Red Camelia which is in the garden,  





the Carolina Yellow Jasmine growing around the pool ,











 and  the Loeopetalum, Purple Diamond which is growing in a pot in the 
garden and getting way too  big.











The purple Hyacinths are coming 
up, but so far not as many as last
 year.  





I planted Spanish Bluebells last Fall and they'
re starting to break through the soil.
 I planted 20 of them but only a few have come 
up so far.   I know that in England Bluebells bloom in May, I'm not sure when these will bloom.
Next to them
 I planted Anemones and a couple of them have started peeking up too.
The Freesias are all up but not blooming yet and the daffodils are getting taller each day.
Today I planted California Poppy seeds, I should have put them in last Fall, I hope I'm not too late.
Each year I learn more about gardening and in particular about gardening here in Coastal Georgia.  It's a time an expensive education,  to quote H. Fred Dale, "My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view."
It's been said that what a man (or women) needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it, (Charles Dudley Warner) and I'd certainly agree, but time on my knees in my garden gives me more than time spent  on my knees on my kitchen floor does..  It renews me and makes me more appreciative of all I have.
A friend of mine in going through chemo right now  and says that if she could just sit outside in her garden it would all be so much easier and I know exactly what she means.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Schnee, Snaw, nix, yuki, snow, whatever you want to freaking call it, it's going to happen here today night and I'm not happy.
I live in the South, not more than 10 miles from the ocean and it's going to snow here!
No more Global Warming cagada, no more this is just weather not climate, it's cold and it's not pretty.  Where or where has my nice mild winter gone?
I refuse to live in Florida, though it's not much warmer there, left California ....too many people and I don't want to live on a tropical island, I just don't want winter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

...What a Beautiful World


One of the best things about being retired is having the time to do the things you want to do, as opposed to things they say you should do...save the world, climb the Himalayas, give back, spoil your grandkids, or become an activist.  
 We live out in the county in a small subdivision with all the homes on large lots or acreage, and cutting down trees is forbidden.  So though the Homeowner's Association came be like yard Nazis at times, it does make for a beautiful place to live.
And one of the things we do do every day is walk and our daily walk takes us down to a small bridge that crosses the lagoon.  We always stop there, look for turtles, check the trees to see if they've started blooming and in summer look for the resident alligator.
Nice way to start the day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In Search of the Elusive Ravioli


We've been spoiled!  Where we're from in California there is a restaurant, still sitting in the same quonset  hut its been occupying since shortly after World War II, named Banchero's.  They serve the best Italian food in the world, trust me, I've been to Italy numerous times and have yet to find a restaurant that comes anywhere near it.  I've eaten Italian food all over the United States and though we found a pretty good Italian restaurant in Anaheim it still wasn't  as good as  Banchero's.
Every meal served there starts with a bowl of soup, if you're a crowd it's a big bowl, then an Italian salad, followed by  hor'dourves , followed by plates of spaghetti and raviolis, then you get your main course.  It's heavenly, particularly the raviolis, they melt in your mouth.  They're small and full of meat sauce, not cheese.  Cheese raviolis are ok, unless you've tasted Banchero's meat raviolis, and then there is no comparison.
Don't tell me about the Olive Garden or other chain restaurants, it's just not the same.  You need a place where the food, and its smells, have sunk into the walls, and when you walk in, take a sniff, you know you're going to be eating good Italian food.
So we're going out for Italian today, we're going to The Upper Crust, a local place, it's not Bancheros, but it's good, just wish they had meat raviolis!

Monday, February 8, 2010

California


California, it's time for us to talk.  For too long your illegal aliens have been drifting across the continent wrecking havoc wherever they went and it's time for it to stop.  Here in Georgia we don't need them.  We have plenty without any help from you, keep them at home or send them back to wherever they came from.  
My yard is underwater, when I mow I leave grooves in the lawn and my pool is full of debris.  You say what does this have to do with illegal aliens?  Plenty!  El Nino must go!  We're over 4 inches above normal in rainfall, December was the wettest on record in Georgia and January gave it a run, with February starting off the same way.  We had more than 2 1/2 inches of rain last week, more is due tomorrow and again on Friday and all because of El Nino!  I'm sick of it, we have too much rain in a good year here  and this is making it worse, so California, call your child home!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Seniors Need Less Sleep


I read an article that said seniors sleep less than younger people and that it may be because they need less sleep or have lost the capacity to go to sleep quickly.  Now I don't know which seniors they were talking about or studying, but let me tell you that the seniors in this house sleep a lot, usually 8 hours, if not more at night, and they take a nap every afternoon.
They conducted their experiment by asking young people and seniors to stay in bed for 16 hours in a dark room.  The younger participants got an average of 9 hours of sleep and the senior 7.5 hours.  Now I don't know about you but if  they put me in a dark room for 16 hours at a shot I'd be bored, I'd be thinking of a million other things I'd rather be doing.  Maybe young people go to sleep when they're bored, while seniors find other ways to fend off boredom. Anyway I sleep just fine, if I slept any more I could give my cat lessons.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Healthy People


I want to show you the medicine drawer of a couple of healthy people.  These are the medications we take every day and some of them  occasionally.  It makes me wonder what medication looks like for people in ill health.
Mac and I are busy people, not sedentary, we travel, go dancing, garden, and just enjoy living, and yet it seems we have to take all kinds of medication.  I didn't even show you the cupboard full of medications that were prescribed, didn't work or made us sick, and we don't know how to dispose of-sorry about ending with a preposition.
I watch commercials on t.v. for all sorts of medications for things people should just live with, but instead they're encouraged to talk to their doctor about more medication.  I never ask for more medications when I see my Doctor and always encourage him to give me less of what I'm taking.  He's pretty good, not a real pill pusher like some doctors.  
Would I be less healthy if I didn't take all these medications?  Who knows, at least I wouldn't worry about whether I'd taken my pill or not.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Softness


Yes, yes I do have a soft side and I'll be talking about that today.  For I have been in search of soft pillows that will keep their shape.    Mac and pillows are like, as the country song goes, beer and gasoline, a dangerous mix.  He ties his pillows in knots, one now resembles a cross between a Disney mushroom and a Celtic cross.  This makes fitting them back into a pillowcase neigh on impossible.
For years I've bought cheap pillow of all kinds, cotton, feather  and foam, figuring that as he destroyed them I'd just replace them, much easier doing that then retraining a husband.  But today I went reading pillow reviews, really dynamic reading, found some with 5 star ratings that I wouldn't have to sell one of our cars to buy and ordered a pair of them.  If these pass the husband test I'll get more.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Return to the Library, Not the Future


Well I've been slaving (am I allowed to use that word?) away upstairs in the library and I'm beat.  I knew putting the library together in some sort of order would not be easy, but I had no idea how backbreakingly hard it would be.  I keep  ferrying books back and forth between 3 rooms trying to figure out some genre to sort them into.   Authors like P.G. Wodehouse, Stephan King, Jane Austen (though she refused to be shelved next to Mr. King), Fred Archer and Beverley Nichols were all easy.  But where do I put walking and travel commentary?  Under walk books?  Or with books about that specific country?  Do I put all the  archeology books together or separate them  by country?  I finally decided to separate travel guides, walking books and archeology by country.  So I have 2 shelves full of Austrian, Spanish, Greek, Mediterranean, Egyptian, Turkish, German and assorted other walking books, tour guides, travel commentary, food books, but not cookbooks and archeology.  All the English walk books, travel commentary, archeology, and antiques and collectibles  are by themselves because there are so many of them.  I'm still not quite sure about biographies; should they be put into the  countries the people came from or form a section of their own?
I've got most of the science books together covering subjects from insects to birds, to astronomy,  to home aquariums,  to clouds,  to the development of the screw.
I need to find some place to stick the Georgia books so they're all together and there are a few generic American books so it may become an American section..  I really need about one more bookcase but I don't have anywhere to put it.
Anyway it's almost done, except for the over-sized books taking up floor space in the white bedroom closet.  I guess I'll find some way to sort them, but it will probably be by size not subject matter.
When it's all sorted I need to make a master list so we'll know what we have, I found duplicates of more than one book and I'd like to avoid  doing that any more.  Have also found several books I'd forgotten I owned, including a 1901 copy of Sense and Sensibility.
Now  guess what came in the mail today . . . books from Amazon.