Monday, July 27, 2009

Baby Raccoon

We have a couple of mama raccoons who are bringing their babies around. Here is a shot I caught of one climbing the tree.

Learning to Quilt

I attended the Quiltfest from July 16-18 in Jonesborough, Tennessee. What a lot of fun it was! I took three classes in machine quilting and learned a lot! There was so much talent and creativity there and oh so much inspiration! I've been working on the quilt that I started in one of my classes, but when I lay it out on the bed, Angel Kitty is right there on top of it and she even tries to help!
Little scraps of fabric are just too tempting for kitty. No, Angel, that doesn't go there! Yikes! Watch those hind claws!I'm almost done with it and when I finish it, I'll post a picture here.

Angel Kitty and the Bunnies

What a busy summer it has been! With all of the gardening, freezing and canning the garden produce, sewing (I'm learning to machine quilt), having the grandchildren for a week, and other activities, I have been neglecting my blogging.

Our local bunnies tease Angel Kitty when we tie her out on her line. They run all around her, just out of her reach, and even jump right over her as they play tag with each other. Perhaps they are hoping she'll join in! One evening I had my camera ready and caught a few shots of the encounter.
And this guy looks at me as if to say - "What?? I didn't do nothing!"

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lucky Shots

(PS - I have no idea why that blank box above is in this posting!)

Once in awhile I get lucky and get some fairly interesting pictures.

Here is the bluebird flying into his house. If you click on the picture, you can see him better.

Angel Kitty doesn't like her picture taken and usually turns her head away, but here she was rolling around in the gravel and didn't notice that I was pursuing her with the camera until it was too late!

Last year this cardinal hammered at our truck, so we had to cover it. This year it is the same problem. We assume he has a nest nearby.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wildlife in Unexpected Places

On our trip to the Smokies, we saw lots of turkey, deer, and even bear. We were also surprised to see these:

This tree swallow was an added attraction in one of the old homes at Cable Mill.This duck was showing off her little ones to the patrons of a restaurant we visited in Gatlinburg. We were concerned when she ventured too close to the roadway and seemed oblivious to the traffic. Fortunately, she directed them back to the stream and they remained safe and sound. We wonder how many ducklings she started out with!

Elijah Oliver Place in Cades Cove

I am finally getting around to posting some more from our trip to the Smokies. I have been very busy and not able to keep up with my blogging as I would like to be able to do. These pictures are from the Elijah Oliver Place in Cades Cove. To get to this property, you have to hike a trail 1/2 mile back into the woods. What a beautiful and peaceful place! When I visit a place like this, far from the maddening crowds, I become nostalgic for the old ways. It is very peaceful where we live too, but this was even more so, with the only access by foot. Here is what the information brochure has to say about this site:

"Elijah Oliver . . . was born in th
e Cove in 1824. After he married, he and his family moved out of the Cove before the Civil War. After the war, he bought this property and moved back in. In the time and place of this family, more buildings were required for living than now. With no refrigerator or freezer, they needed the springhouse to keep milk and butter cool. They needed the smokehouse to store and preserve hams, shoulders, and side meat for an entire year. They ate mostly pork because it was easier to preserve than other meats. They needed the corn crib to store enough corn for grinding into meal to last until the next harvest. Having no automobile or motorized farm equipment, they needed horses or mules to pull plows, harrows, buggies, sldes and wagons. And they needed a barn to shelter these animals, along with the cows that provided milk. Hay to feed them was stored in the barn loft. Water for drinking, cooking, bathing and laundry had to be carried from the spring. No easy task. Much later than the time of Oliver, just one family in the Cove had wate piped from a spring into the house to a homemade kitchen sink. Two or three other families piped water from springs to faucets just outside their houses. . . . Buildings were of log construction until the 1870's because there was no nearby sawmill to saw logs into lumber."

Doug at a side door.

The fireplaces in the house.
I see a girl's face in this fireplace, complete with eyes & eyebrows, hair, nose, cheeks and mouth. She is looking to her right, our left. Does anybody else see it? Now that I've seen it, I can't NOT see it when I look at this picture! She reminds me of the girl on Norton salt containers.

An outbuilding
The barn

Me on the front porch

The springhouse

A peek inside the springhouse shows how the water in the stream is directed to a trough where they kept their milk.

A kind fellow visitor took our picture.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

We moved to our home here in Tennessee in 2004, and we have been talking about visiting the Smokies ever since. We are only two hours' drive away! We finally did it. Knowing that we wanted to beat the tourist season, last week we took a couple of days' mini-vacation and drove to the Smokies.

We stayed overnight in Gatlinburg, then ventured out during the day to the park, where we did lots of hiking. We took a 3-mile hike (round trip) back to Laural Falls the evening that we arrived.Me at Laural Falls

The falls were beautiful and on our drive back, I spotted a black bear not far into the woods on the side of the road. We turned around and went back. It was a mama bear with her cub in the tree above her. It would have been a perfect photo opportunity, but as luck would have it, my camera was in the trunk and when other people noticed and stopped, the bear got nervous and moved farther back into the woods, leaving her cub safe up in the tree. Lesson learned: when traveling in the Smokies, always have your camera at hand! You just never know when a photo opportunity will present itself.

On Thursday we visited Cades Cove. What a beautiful area nestled among the mountains!

Panoramic view taken at Cades Cove.

Me at Cades Cove

What is Cades Cove
? It is a relatively flat valley between the mountains and ridges of the Smokies. It started with a handful of families in 1821 and was accessible only via indian trails. By 1850, this farming community had grown to 132 families. Some of the original log homes still stand, as well as churches, to include a Primitive Baptist Church that was established in 1827. Today a part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the cove has trails for hiking, and the narrow one-way paved road that loops the cove is excellent for bicyclists. Those not inclined to enjoy the sports opportunities the Cove offers can take the auto tour and visit each of the 18 sites. There's something for everyone to enjoy!

We took a 5-mile hike (round trip) back to Abrams Falls in Cades Cove.
Me at Abrams Falls

Doug & I along the trail back from Abrams Falls. We found a log that made a perfect "tripod" that we used to take a picture using the camera's timer.

Cades Cove has a large population of black bear, as does the entire park (two for every square mile!) We saw six of them as we were driving out of the Cove; three in one field and three in another, but they were too far away for my camera to take decent pictures.

I'll have more pictures of our mini-vacation in a later post!

Friday, May 1, 2009

How to Give Your Cat a Pill

In light of what Doug and I go through each morning giving Angel Kitty her two pills for her urinary tract infection, I thought I'd share these humorous instructions that I found on the internet about how to give a cat a pill:

How to Give Your Cat a Pill

(I particularly like the note at the bottom on how to give your DOG a pill.)

Actually, we have the procedure down pretty good, with the help of a pill giving gadget thingie we got from the vet's. I have to wrap her good in a towel and hold on tight while Doug does the administering. Usually the pills go down but not every time. Sometimes it takes more than one try.

And when it is all done, Angel gets her "special food" treat - a bit of Fancy Feast canned food that she loves.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bella Award

Jo , a Brit in Tennessee, gave me this Bella Award. Thank you, Jo! I am honored to accept it!

Jo has a wonderful blog. Her pictures and stories are a daily delight! Check her out; you'll be glad you did!

And here are other blogs that I thoroughly enjoy and am passing this award on to:

Phyllis's View
Adirondack View
Joyful Reflections
Doreen's Miniatures and Memoires
Nature Knitter

As I understand it, the rule is that if you receive the award, you are to pass it along to five other recently discovered blogs. I must admit I cheated a bit -- I have been following a couple of these blogs for awhile (they aren't recently discovered). But I want them to share the award so that others will be encouraged to give them a look-see!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Backyard Birding Secrets

I won this wonderful book in a caption contest on the Nature Knitter blog. Thank you, Ruthie! This book contains a lot of great information for attracting birds to your property such as what flowers to plant for specific birds, and other ideas such as for keeping bees away from the hummingbird feeder, rub a little bit of cooking oil around each of the feeding ports. I'll definitely try that one!

Stop over and visit the Nature Knitter blog. There are loads of interesting bird stories and information, and awesome pictures!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Angel Kitty's Lion Cut 2009

Angel Kitty has her new summer "do" - the lion's cut. We have it done at our vet's office and they give her a sedative. That makes it easier for her, and THEM!



Isn't she cute?

Woops - maybe she needs a bra! (click on the above picture to enlarge it, and you'll see what I mean!)

She was a bit groggy when she got home, but she insisted on going outside on her line. When she got out there, however, she was just too sleepy to do her usual exploring.
She couldn't even keep her eyes open.

I normally wouldn't do this; I would prefer to let her hair be natural. We tried it two years ago, however, and by July Doug and I were breathing, eating, and constantly brushing off her hair! It was intolerable, so we went back to giving her the cut. Plus, this gives her a break from ingesting so much long hair and having hairballs.

It is after this cut that I realize how tiny she is. My little beauty, at least for a few months, becomes my little cutie pie!

Guest River Gorge Trail

Two days ago Doug and I took our bicycles to Guest River Gorge Trail, in the Jefferson National Forest, near Coeburn, Virginia. It was a perfect day weather-wise, and we wanted to take our bikes somewhere other than just our lane where we usually ride. The scenic, 5.8-mile long Guest River Gorge Trail follows the path of the old Southern railway.

As you travel down the trail, you can view small waterfalls and rock cliffs on your left . . .and the Guest River on your right.

Along the way, there were adjustments to be made.

Don't make fun of my "turtle head" helmet!

I'm so prone to falling that I felt more comfortable wearing protection. In fact, I DID fall - one time when I was dismounting! Thank goodness the bike was not moving, but I sure did! I lay on the bridge, my bike on top of me, and laughed at myself. (no picture of that here!)

Look at the house up on the cliff in the next picture. Can you imagine living there? What a gorgeous view those folks have!! I'm sure they are used to people taking pictures of their lovely abode. We never noticed it before, but we visited the trail in the summer when the leaves were on the trees.

We did a "self portrait," which is mostly a silhouette of us. There were few people on the trail that day so we had nobody to ask to take our picture for us.The trail ends at a bridge over the Guest River.

When we were all done, our legs felt like lead and spaghetti at the same time! We decided that we deserved a treat, so we stopped at the newly renovated Red Stone Drive-In, located outside of the Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, Virginia, and enjoyed a meal, followed by sundaes! Thus I replaced all of the calories that I burned on the bike ride!
We plan to take another bicycle ride at a park in the near future; BUT - we will make sure that the trail is nice and level! No more uphills for us!

What is this Bush?

We have lived here for five years come October, and we still don't know what this bush is. It kind of looks like a honeysuckle, but the flowers are pink and unscented. The bees love it. Any ideas?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Balm of Gilead

A few years ago we received a visit from an old timer who had lived near our property. He showed us where we have a stand of Balm of Gilead trees. (We knew something smelled nice in that area but we didn't know what it was!) He said as a child he and his friends would gather the buds in the spring and turn them into salve that they would then sell.

Balm of Gilead is a clone or hybrid of the Balsam Poplar and it spreads by way of underground shoots. A "black salve" folk remedy made from its buds is reportedly a heal-all for almost everything from aches and pains to cancer, even internal conditions! You can read some of the stories about its curative properties at the Annie Appleseed Project website. What an amazing herbal remedy!

Today when returning from my walk, I passed the Balm of Gilead stand and the intoxicating aroma drew me in. I couldn't resist plucking a few of the (very sticky!) buds and bringing them back to the house. (It would have been better had I done this earlier in the Spring, but there were still plenty to pick for my little experiment.) I then looked up a website that explains how to make an oil from the buds. The delightfully scented oil can be used for massages, as an anti-inflammatory, as an antimicrobial, and it is also analgesic. I plopped the buds into a jar and covered them with olive oil as the website suggests, then covered the jar. I have to stir the solution once a day for six weeks, then strain it and it is ready to use! I can leave it in the jar longer, even for a year! The longer, the better it is!

It is wonderful to be able to take advantage of what nature offers us. I truly believe that every affliction that plagues the body can be cured with herbs, but the drug companies don't want you to know that! I will post updates on my blog as my little experiment progresses.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Return of the Hummers!

Our hummingbirds returned last Monday, April 13 -- or, at least that is the first time my husband noticed one. (I was out of town and he doesn't watch as closely as I would!) Now we have four and at least one of them is a female! There is a lot of chirping and penduluming going on around here! By summer's end, we will have 25 or 30 of them, all of the ruby throated variety. Thus it begins - the purchasing of a five-pound bag of sugar each week! I think this year may be a banner year for them, since the female is earlier than usual!

Our neighbors have a few hummingbirds, but not like we do. We aren't sure why we are so blessed. Perhaps it is the many rose of sharon bushes that we have around the house, or the huge trumpet vine, which they love. The former owner of our home (we bought it in 2004) planted lots of flowers they like all around the house, so perhaps they remember that. I do plant some, but I'm not as "green thumbish" at planting flowers as he was! We just hope they keep on coming, year after year!

Here are a few pictures from years gone by:

In the Fall of 2005 we had a rufous hummingbird come through and stay until mid-November. Members of the Hummer/Bird Study Group, Inc. ( traveled from Alabama to our place in hopes of banding it, but as luck would have it, the rufous had moved on by the time they arrived.