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.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Flower's View

Scattered patterns, a mosaic of rich humus, and golden colors braided with brown, dabbled in sunlight: this is where the flower lives that bows and nods in the breeze, remaining upright despite the elements that seem to conspire against her, yet in many ways are her friends. She has a lovely view from here, looking out from the rocky outcropping of her front porch to the sky and at the trees, big and tall, that tower over her little spot in the woods.

She sometimes gets a visitor. Her lovely guest with his brightly colored gossamer wings and tiny feet tickles her as he prances lightly around her head. The ferns sometimes lean over and nuzzle her and she tries to nuzzle back, but all too soon they move away and return to their position above her.
Flower is mostly alone; other flowers of various colors and sizes grow nearby, but they are all so quiet, clutching their own little piece of the world.

Flower turns her face towards the sun, soaking up its warm rays. She loves her home here in this carpet of dried leaves, moss and grass. She feels joy in the wind. She absorbs love from life. She has such peace, such contentment, because all that she has to be is this flower, and she knows that. There is no striving to become what she never can - a bush, a tree, a snake, or a bird.

Sometimes she is paid a visit by a fawn who sniffs her, and she waits to be eaten, to be useful in some way to some other living creature. If that doesn't happen, or if she isn't trodden on by careless footsteps, she will return from where she came. She will display her lovely colors for awhile, for all who see her to enjoy, and then she will wither and fade and soon will drop to the forest floor, disappearing beneath the other plants and foliage that will use her abode in another season.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We have a WINNER!!

Congratulations to Betsy, who won the scarf in my giveaway!

Betsy, please e-mail me your home address and I'll shoot that scarf out to you pronto! Although it is probably too late to use it here in Tennessee for this year, except perhaps on cold mornings, I know you'll enjoy it come winter!

Thank you who participated in this giveaway. I'll be doing more from time to time; I have lots of scarves, and other goodies as well, to give away!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Plug for Photobucket

Because I only have dial-up (and don't expect to get anything better in the near future), it takes forever for me to upload pictures onto my blog. If I upload them directly into blogspot, it takes hours for even 2 or 3 pictures, so I have been using photobucket, which has still taken a long time, but at least it was quicker than blogspot.

The other day I discovered photobucket's bulk uploader. Now, instead of taking hours to upload pictures, it takes minutes! I am so impressed! How do they DO that? Why can't every website do that? It is great!

I just wanted to pass this along in case there are other bloggers out there with the same problem. Try photobucket and try their bulk uploader!

Birds are so much Fun!

Last evening my husband called me to the kitchen window - come quick! I was amazed to see a hawk on the driveway tearing apart its prey. I felt bad for the dove - but I realize that the hawk has to eat. Far better that a hungry hawk get it rather than a domestic cat or dog, who would usually only kill it for "fun"! I believe this is a sharp-shinned hawk. We watched him for a few minutes, and then he flew with his dinner to a nearby tree.A few days ago five turkeys - four males and one female - came around to the pasture. (No hunting is permitted on our property. It is turkey hunting season here in TN, but those that squat on our land are safe!) It was obvious they were all vying for the female's attention, and four of them looked on enviously while one guy strutted his stuff!

A friend made us two new birdhouses. My husband put one up fairly close to the house and I had my doubts about anything using it. Well, thankfully I was proven wrong several days ago when the chickadees took it over. Then, a few days later, the bluebirds decided that they wanted it. It was fun to watch the battle of wills between them, but in the end the bluebirds drove the chickadees away. These pictures aren't that great; it was a foggy morning when I took them. Look closely and you can see one bluebird on top of the house and two chickadees in the bushes to the right of the birdhouse. The chickadees are planning their next move, but the bluebirds are confident that by the end of the day, they'll win, and they did. Soon we watched them bringing grasses in to build their nest.

Blueberry Pancakes w/Pure Maple Syrup!

Mmmm. . . . don't they look good? And they were! Thanks to the pure maple syrup that I won on Cedar's giveaway! Thanks, Cedar!


Is that a snowflake or a butterfly that just passed my window? Oh dear, it's a snowflake! Well, it appears that here in Eastern Tennessee, Winter is giving its (hopefully) last hoorah and in celebration of that and in memory of Winter, I'm going to give away this scarf. I have a whole bin full of scarves that I crocheted and knitted, intending to sell them, but never did. This one is crocheted with Paton's cha cha yarn. It is pale blue (so at least the color is "Springy"!), 60 inches long (so you can wrap it around your neck several times) and almost 3 inches wide. Besides being long, this scarf is also very soft.

I know that scarf season is for the most part GONE for this year - yet when I look out my window, I'm not so sure - but don't worry, it'll return next year!

I will randomly draw one name from all of the comments that I receive on this entry, by April 15.
Good luck!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Our Resident Gray Fox

We've had a gray fox coming around our place for a year now, eating the cat food that we had originally put out for the raccoons - but hey, whoever gets there first is welcome to it! Well, other than the fox and raccoons, we have opossums, skunks, and two particular deer that eat it. The two deer are a doe and her fawn from last year. The doe started eating the cat food, and when the fawn got bigger, it did also. And they also have their own food -- sweet feed that we put out just for them! We have quite the show to watch from our kitchen window right before dark, and even after dark when we turn the outside light on, which doesn't seem to bother the critters. Angel Kitty watches, too - safely from inside, of course!

Here was a little drama that took place out of our kitchen window last evening.

First I saw the fox approach the feeding area from the front of the house and I took his picture . . .

Oops! I think he saw me!
Isn't he beautiful? Must be all that cat food he eats . . .

Well, NOW who's watching him?

Oh, of course - that deer again! He's keeping his eyes on him! (note the deer in the right hand side of the picture)
Okay, now the deer's on the move. Just a few more quick bites . . .

Time to skedaddle!

And Up the hill he goes. Long after he's gone, the deer continue to maintain a vigil.

Last year I got a video of the deer chasing the fox away from the bird feeder area where we used to put out the cat food. The fox kept sneaking back and the deer kept chasing him away. This went on for some time and it became obvious that it was just a fun game for them to see who's faster and smarter - fox or deer. Although the deer were pretty quick and I know those hooves could do some harm, the fox was pretty sly when he slinked down behind the trees and crept up to the food! I wish I could upload the video, but my dial-up internet makes it time-prohibitive!

Some trivia about the Gray Fox: It is primarily nocturnal, but can sometimes been seen foraging by day in brush, thick foliage, or timber. It is the only American canid (canine) with tree climbing ability, and it occasionally forages in trees and frequently takes refuge in them, especially in leaning or thickly branched ones. It favors den sites in woodlands and among boulders on the slopes of rocky ridges. Well, that explains why we have gray foxes here, with all of the rocky ridges we have -- and caves, too!