In Memory of our Bearded Buddy, Randall

If anyone ever told me I could get attached to a reptile with a snake-looking tail, I would have laughed at them….then along came Randall.

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Awaiting his masters return from AZ

 My older son had always wanted a lizard, and when he was younger, my answer was always “no way.” That’s because they looked so cold and sneaky, and well, snake-like.  I had absolutely no idea how fun and lovable certain kinds of lizards could be.

 After we moved into our new house, we were out enjoying our local pet store, just for fun, and to my utter disbelief my husband pointed out this Bearded Dragon lizard to my son and suggested we buy it for his room!!  I gave him one of “those” looks, but it didn’t matter…an hour later we were driving home with a new member of the family.

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Enjoying a crawl up the fireplace

His sleeping quarters were in my son’s room, but that didn’t stop him from exploring the house! I really didn’t mind, I could see he was gentle and my son obviously loved him…and more importantly, he wasn’t prone to having “accidents” outside of his cage, whew!

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Not intimidated in the least by “Miss Kitea”

He did cause a little mischief on one of his early explorations when he somehow managed to crawl behind the kick-board in the kitchen and get stuck under the cabinets. Of course, this happened when we were due to meet up shortly with friends…but we couldn’t very well leave a dragon under the cabinets while we were away. My husband finally had to pull out the crowbar, ripping a piece of the kick-board to extract Randall, but the important thing was, Randall was safe and we would not have to keep our friends waiting.

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In the beginning I managed to pet Randall on the head, he liked that, but I was not too keen on the idea of holding him.  I just couldn’t get past that his skin looked so snakelike, especially his belly, and his tail, well, that looked just like a snake minus the head.

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With his special buddy
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On a guided house tour
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Enjoying his bath

I was slightly horrified when my son asked if I would be Randall’s caregiver while he took a senior trip to Arizona for a week, oh dear.  The training began.  I had to get used to holding Randall, not just tossing lettuce and crickets into the cage and checking his lights.

Well, it was wintertime, and for the week Daniel was gone, Randall and I became Hallmark-watching, fireside companions!

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I would hold him in the evenings against my fuzzy red robe, and he would “snuggle” in till the movie ended.  I would then, reluctantly (can you believe) go put him back in his cage for the night.  Yes, Randall and I were now buddies:)

Of course, I couldn’t be in charge of Randall for a week without giving his cage a little make-over….a woman’s touch so to say:

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Cage before make-over
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Randall suspiciously eyeing “decorated” pillar

We enjoyed Randall for close to four years. During those years, he endured many tail-chasing episodes from our cat, but never allowed himself to trust our dog, Princess.  If she entered the room, he would at times turn partly black, indicating anger or stress, and kept a wary eye on her till she finally left his presence.

We will always miss our little buddy, especially my son, Daniel, but we have many fond, loving memories of the lizard who crawled into all of our hearts to stay.♥

Randall and Miss Kitea enjoying a “fireside chat.”

♥Jen

 

http://www.thebeardeddragon.org/

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay

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First, I have to thank my younger son for sharing this picture of the dock and for taking a film class in a building with such a gorgeous view:) 

Usually when I visit one of the nearby beach towns this time of year, I’m either sitting on the beach or riding one of the cycling paths nearby. It’s rare that I have the opportunity to just sit on a dock and enjoy the bayside beauty and rarer still to find such a peaceful, quiet dock in the month of June. When my husband and I dropped our son off for his first film class, I wasted no time in grabbing my camera and settling in by the bay to capture some salty-air scenery.

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A lone gull flying over the marsh grasses

The Phragmites pictured above and below, while beautiful, can be very invasive, unfortunately, choking out other native grasses or taking over too much shoreline. It has many positive uses, though, besides being very scenic; it provides a wonderful habitat for several species of birds, it is used to make a musical instrument similar to the clarinet,  its stem and seeds atop the stem are edible, the reeds can be woven into baskets, or used in thatch roofs-these are just some of its many uses in various parts of the world.

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It apparently also makes wonderful nesting material, as this house sparrow proved…

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This black bird, I believe a Grackle, was also a fun little guy to watch as he went flitting through the reeds…

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Now, since I was on the dock of the bay, I did get a few underwater creatures, for instance, the famous Maryland Blue crab:

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A little hard to see through the bay water, but the pretty blue markings are still visible. A few were getting close to the crab trap (below), and I wished I could send a warning down to them to back away!! I must admit, though, I don’t feel so kindly towards them when they pinch my feet in the ocean!

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The last bay inhabitant I took a picture of is the horseshoe crab.  Sadly, I usually only see these washed up on the beaches, so it was nice to see them swimming around, making designs on the sandy bottom with their dragging tails.  I learned many interesting facts about them at the link above… from their blue blood being used in the medical field to their link to the survival of the long distance migratory bird, the red knot. For an interesting video of the horseshoe crab click here.

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While a fascinating creature, it does not make for the prettiest picture with the barnacles on its back, so I’ll end the post with another pretty topical view of the bay.

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Next stop, the beach.  See you there!

A little music for your listening pleasure, the inspiration for this post title, enjoy!

∼Jen

 

 

Mornings in May

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Blue jay beside fading azalea bush

May and October are without a doubt my two favorite months of the year.  Of course, each month has its share of beauty, but this spring and fall month, in my opinion (and my hemisphere), outshine them all. So, while we are now in the first week of June (already!), looking back on some of my special morning sightings in May helps me hold on to that spectacular month just a little bit longer!

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American Goldfinch taking an early morning sip

I’m not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, when we first married, my husband actually thought I must be ill because of how late I would sleep…no, I’m not divulging the hour!  I don’t sleep anywhere near that late now, but I am quite groggy for a while after rising and really don’t know what I’d do without my morning coffee.

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Mourning Doves getting a morning drink

These coffee times, as I sit and stare, and then stare some more, have proven to be some of the best times to observe much of the first stirrings of nature and the beauty of the sun’s early rays on foliage and flowers.  With my camera ever at my side, it’s rare that I ever get down a cup of coffee before it cools off, but I’m able to capture some special moments, so sometimes warm coffee will just have to do!

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Eastern gray squirrel enjoying fallen sunflower seeds

I never tire of seeing my beautiful cardinals…this was a rare picture of them together in the tree. I have only observed them together when at the feeder or ground-feeding.

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Spring is a very active time for the creek…ducks, eagles, geese, and even spawning fish keep the area very busy and very noisy if you add frogs to the mix!

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Mallard duck couple out for a morning swim

I had to chuckle to myself as I watched this male and female goose swim by.  Though not obvious in the picture, the assumed male is much ahead as the female followed slowly behind, seemingly taking in all of the delightful sights as she swam happily along, while hubby up ahead was clearly on a mission.

For whatever reason, all I could think about was how this was a great representation of what my husband and I look like when we go to the mall together!

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Finally able to get a decent picture of “cave frog,” one of our resident American bullfrogs

On the day our pond was emptied and cleaned in early May, I was able to see and count almost forty bullfrog tadpoles. I had never seen a bullfrog tadpole and was thrilled to have the opportunity to see them up close.  The pictures are a little blurry through the water, but back legs and even front stubs are visible.

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Koi, goldfish, tadpoles, and snails

Most of the sights I am able to photograph from my porch, but once the coffee kicks in, I sometimes go for a stroll to check out the latest blooms.

First blooming roses

I was never able to really grow azaleas out our old house due to lack of shade, here, they are abundant, and I eagerly look forward to their show every spring!

Columbines are another flower new to me at this home, a spring beauty for sure.

My Uncle Harry gave me my first Coral Bell plant, a favorite in my old garden for hummingbirds.  They transplanted nicely here and I also added a few more.  I have always admired their delicate beauty.

My favorite blooms, however, have to be the Bleeding hearts….these were the flowers, more than any other, that my boys liked to pick when young with their chubby little fingers to give to me.  They were as intrigued by their shape as I was and still am…I have more than one pressed from my sweet little boys from too many years ago, sigh. I tried to bring some from our old garden when we moved, but the transplant didn’t take. I quickly bought some at the local nursery and will always have a place for them in my garden.

Finally, a few last views of the creek and pond-one a real surprise that I just happened to notice crawling out of the pond as I glanced out the back window:

Yeah, he, or she was a shocker for sure!! We’re not certain who will now be sticking their hands in to clean the pond filter, but what an amazing sight! This is my first snapping turtle up close and personal…I was most thankful for a zoom lens!

I round out this beautiful month in pictures with my favorite pond inhabitant ever. He got in right under the wire, the last day of May, which also happens to be my birthday. I hadn’t seen him for at least a month, so I’m sure he and his lovely lady were just swimming by to give me a friendly birthday greeting!  They started my day off in a special way for sure!

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Male Wood Duck

                            I hope that you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane for May.  June is only four mornings old, and already is showing off its splendor, so I look forward to sharing some of my moments for this month and every month to come!

           Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love…Psalm 143:8

 

∼ Jen

Harold’s Nemesis

Who is Harold? Well, if you haven’t yet met him,  you can be properly introduced to him here .  This post, however, will be devoted mostly to his archenemy, and no, it’s not my husband!

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Harold’s rival is a sweet, 91 year-old, blonde beauty, a social butterfly, champion paddle-boarder, creek swimmer, island-explorer (maybe blondes really do have more fun), and self-appointed greeter of all who happen to pass by while she’s out and about in the neighborhood.

She loves to take walks, then cool off in the creek on especially hot days-she has even been known to mud-bathe when the tide is out. She bears the title of royalty, though she’s quite down to earth…she is, none other than, Princess-our lovable, happy, Harold-hating shepherd.

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We got Princess from my sister, who very sweetly took on a male shepherd, his mate, and eleven puppies to find homes for.  We already had a dog, Noah, but he was getting up there in years. The kids were young, so I thought it was a good time to get a puppy they could grow up with and I would have as company when the “empty nest” years hit.

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“Creek Dog”

Princess was the runt of the bunch.  The original owners of the shepherd family said she had to be resuscitated after she was born, so I think she became a favorite, and it is they who gave her the name, Princess.  When we first brought her home as a pup, I remember her being afraid of the dark, and especially a full moon.  However, after her dad came to join us, which is another story, he became her idol and she soon braved-up facing the dark and the moon like a champ!

 I’ve loved many dogs over my life, each special in their own way, but never a dog with a sweeter disposition than our dear Princess.

So why her intense hatred of Harold? We really don’t know. Why he hates her, is quite obvious! He is a grouchy loner after all, but more than that, he loves to hunt in our “backyard.” He will occasionally stroll through on his way to his next hunting spot or stand just off-shore at low tide.

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Upon spotting him, Princess goes into an exceptionally venomous barking rant and runs down to give this foe a piece of her mind.  At this point, anything Harold had been eyeing for breakfast, lunch, or diner has just swum off, and off goes Harold as well, screaming angrily as he does.

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I’ve often thought it’s a really good thing we can’t understand Harold’s language!

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“Cover your ears, mom!”

Princess trots back, happily satisfied that she has once again laid down the law to Harold and, once again, is ruler of all she surveys.

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Job well-done…her father, Smokey, would be so proud:)

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Time for a rest, until the next Harold intrusion.

So now you know all about Princess, our faithful friend and Harold’s faithful nemesis!

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“When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.’”
—Rudyard Kipling (author, The Jungle Book)

….Oh, and by the way, yes, swum is a word 😉

∼ Jen

Sunday Thoughts…

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Northern Flicker

It’s a mild Sunday morning, beautiful 70 degree temperature with a few clouds promising rain later in the day. My husband and I have recently returned home from church, he enjoyed some banana-oat and I some yummy buckwheat pancakes:) We have now settled into our own little writing nooks….he is busily editing a book, and I have been thinking about today’s sermon, which was on worry. It brings many images from the Bible to my mind….some of which point to how God takes care of nature as our example.  I thought I’d add some photos with a few scriptures as my takeaway from a theme that’s good to be reminded of daily.

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Atop an alpine in Colorado

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Mt. 6:26,27

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Wood Thrush

 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Mt. 10:29-31

 The above picture is of a bird I rescued after it flew into our window.  Every time I hear a thump, which is sadly often, I race to the window to see if I can spot the victim and get to it before my cat does.  I’m amazed at how much I care for these little birds, that I had nothing to do with bringing into the earth, and then, how much more our heavenly father cares for us!

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Daylilies
” And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?
 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Luke:25-27
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Wild grasses by the bay
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you…Mt.6:30
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Mother cardinal checking on nest
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself…Ps.84:3
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:4
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Female Eastern Towhee
A phrase our pastor said that really stuck out to me was…
“To worry is to imagine a time when God will not be with you.”
God has already promised us in Mathew 28:20
“And surely I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.”
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Bleeding Heart

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6,7

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Eastern Phoebe enjoying a moth

Of all the beauty that our loving, heavenly father created, there is none more precious to Him than us…..

Psalm 8:3-9English Standard Version (ESV)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[a]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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 Happy Sunday!
∼ Jen

Wedding by the Bay

Few things in life rival the beauty of a bride on her wedding day.

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That beauty combined with all the laughter, love and joy-set amid the landscape of the Chesapeake Bay, made for a very memorable “all things beautiful” kind of day.

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After several, unseasonably hot days on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Saturday was a mild 70 degrees-a perfect temperature for an outdoor wedding.

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The scenery was spectacular…sailboats, ducks, seabirds, sand, even the infamous…

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Photo credit Mike DelGaudio, Severna Park, USA

…Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Dwarfed only by the bay itself, it rose in the distance, a rock-solid symbol of strength and support-a very fitting backdrop to the culmination of a relationship that had already stood the test of time.

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The very handsome groom is my nephew, Joe.  He was the first grandson, first nephew. Needless to say, I think we drove his very patient parents a little crazy in the beginning with our baby-loving frenzy!  He is named after my brother, Joseph III, so that would, of course, make him Joseph IV.  That information, however, was not relayed till after a few pranks had been played on my dad, allowing him to believe his first grandson’s name was actually… “Henry!”

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My family remembers well, I’m sure, the t-shirt my ever-comical brother, Steve, bought for him with the phrase “Don’t call me Henry” printed across the front! I don’t recall if the t-shirt was given before or after the real name was revealed….I only remember the huge relief that shone on my dad’s face after finding out his first grandson would indeed bear his name and not some guy named Henry!

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Thirty  years and many out-grown t-shirts later, my first nephew said “I Do” to his gorgeous high-school sweetheart. They are an absolutely perfect couple and we are so thrilled to welcome his beautiful bride, Valerie, into our family!

 

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Here’s wishing them a long, happy life together…and maybe, some day, a little  “Henry” of their own!

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Modeling the famous “Henry” t-shirt

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And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

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♥ Jen

Rainy Day in May

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American male bullfrog swimming among the drops

There is not much I enjoy more than a rainy day with nowhere to go.  Sometimes I love a good thunderstorm, and sometimes just a gently falling shower-when I can sit on the porch and enjoy the sounds and even the sweet smell that often accompanies a spring rain.

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Drops of rain on Azalea leaf

When my sons were young, we used to gather in the living room where we could watch the lightning-show through the French doors and count the seconds till the thunder boomed….it was my way of getting them to focus on the beauty and awesomeness of a storm and hopefully prevent them from becoming fearful of them. Our dogs, however, were another story-one even had to be sedated during storms….a large shepherd no less!

After enjoying the serenity of a peaceful shower recently from my porch rocker, I decided to venture out with my camera and capture a few rainy-day moments.  Join me and let’s soak in the beauty of a lovely May shower together….

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Last of the spring-blooming azaleas
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Coral Bells peeking up among the Daylily foliage
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Vibrant pink columbine
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Delicate fern fronds unfurling against a rain-soaked oak
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Bright orange hanging begonia

And lastly, the first daylily bloom of spring…..

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I hope you enjoyed our brief but peaceful nature-walk in the rain and hope you’ll join me on another, as spring slips gently into summer.

∼ Jen

Taking Time to Smell the “Roses”…

and the rest of life’s little pleasures.

 

 

This little fellow has the right idea. He is also the inspiration behind this post.  When I photographed him, I loved that he had a flower stuck on the end of his nose!  Then I thought, wow, he really is taking that “take time to smell the roses” thing literally!!  Since photographing him several weeks ago, I think of him every time I stop, pull over, or just pause to soak in the unexpected beauty that sometimes just hits us out of the blue.

I’d love to share a few of my spontaneous photos….unexpected moments of beauty…

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This was taken when the Dogwood trees were in full bloom a few weeks ago.  I was leaving the grocery store by a different route, and at the end of the road, there they were in all their glory! I was so glad no one was behind me so I could quickly snap a picture with my phone.  I just loved how the white intertwined with the pink!

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I took this last night as my mom and I were leaving a Mother-Daughter dinner in honor of Mother’s Day.  We walked out of the church hall, rounded the corner to my car, and were met with this gorgeous view!  I was captured by the golden hues of the sunset and grasses surrounding the rustic looking barn. This scene may warrant a special trip back another evening with a real camera!

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Minutes later on our drive home, we spotted these families taking a sunset stroll. Without hesitation we decided to take a U-turn.   They did not enjoy the intrusion as evidenced by them abruptly turning their backs on us and waddling off in the opposite direction.

We, however, loved the sight of all the “families” congregating together, so they just had to deal with us.

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Lastly, today running errands, I rounded the corner and spotted this lonesome fellow sitting on a log. The picture is so horrible I really shouldn’t show it….but I HAVE to!  Why? Because, doing yet another U-turn to snap this picture, I was almost hit by another vehicle I did not see in my blind spot….oops!  He was not happy, and I was more relieved than I can say at his quick reflexes. Somehow I don’t think he would have understood my explanation that I simply had to turn around to go take a picture of a Heron! Don’t tell my husband.

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So, so bad, I know! This picture proves that I am simply shameful in which photos I share! It also convinces me, more than ever, that I should never again leave the house without a real camera on the passenger seat.  I can only imagine-and that’s what it takes here-what a great photo this would have been. Right now though, think of it as a form of “Where’s Waldo.”

So, there you have it. My pictures obtained by taking the time to stop and enjoy the daily and sometimes unexpected beauties of life… all inspired by my flower-nosed frog!

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∼ Jen

They’re Back….

Well, today was the day, finally! Each spring I wonder exactly when they will appear and try to have the feeder filled and waiting for them.  Occasionally they have beat me to it, but this year it was up and waiting for them at least three weeks ahead of their arrival.  I had just looked at the feeder late afternoon, and wondered why they hadn’t yet arrived, moments later I looked back, and there they were:

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Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

The first time I ever saw a hummingbird was not till my mid-twenties while on vacation in Colorado.  I could not believe the beauty of these tiny, hovering birds.  When I was older and married and moved into our first home, a hummingbird feeder was put in place the first spring and I have enjoyed them every spring since.

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I have sweet memories of the first time our sons noticed hummingbirds….we had a feeder hanging in view of our breakfast nook so we could enjoy their comings and goings throughout the day.  We first noticed them one evening around dinner-time, a male and female.  The boys quickly named them “Kiwi” and “Cherry” since the female is an olive green with iridescent touches and the male has pinkish-red iridescent markings around its throat. This worked out great since my younger son loved the color  green and my older son loved red-they each had their own personal hummingbird:) We could almost always count on them for our dinner-time show, and loved watching their quick stops in for a drink before buzzing off again.

  For small birds, they can be very feisty towards others wanting a quick slurp of nectar, so it wasn’t long before I realized we probably needed at least one more feeder. They also know how to communicate their needs, which astounds me…. I was very surprised one day to see one hovering and peeking in my glass doors to “let me know” the nectar had run dry! For a  really great article on their behavior and other fun facts, visit this site.

If you have not yet welcomed these beauties into your yard, consider putting up some feeders or plants that will attract them-you will be greatly rewarded, I guarantee! Though it’s easier to buy pre-mixed “nectar” at the store, the red food coloring in these is not recommended….try the recipe found here instead. Happy watching!!

∼ Jen

 

Little Flying Thieves!

It was early morning, time to make that all important decision: where would I drink that first cup of  morning joe? Finally nice weather-wise, I contemplate the porch, then realize I’m still waaay too tired to sit up straight on a porch chair, so, off to my comfy, pink couch I go, ahh….

Turns out, that decision was a good one. I could keep an eye on my little chickadee nest from there and watch for any action…and action there was!
Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 4.00.41 PM.png This, however, was not the action I was looking for!! This little guy/gal was definitely not Mr. or Mrs. Chickadee…..and what was that in it’s little beak?!!!  This little rascal was not only breaking and entering, it was taking the moss that rightfully belonged there and tossing it out in a total take-over, the little home-wrecker!!

The last time I had seen the sweet little chickadee couple, the gentleman was bringing his little lady tasty treats as she sat on a branch nearby the nest – now they were nowhere to be found as this little land shark dismantled their tiny abode!

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Don’t let the innocent look fool you, this little cutie is a thief through and through!

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It obviously prefers sticks to moss, not much for comfort or manners!

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Blurry, but wanted to show the size of some of the sticks it tried to get in the nest before finally dropping them!

So, sadly it  appears my little black-capped cuties have been evicted by this little house-wrecker, I mean,  house  wren.  I was looking forward to watching their offspring, as I have never observed a nesting pair of chickadees before.  However, I have never observed a nesting pair of house wrens either, so I guess this is the year! They really are adorable, and I do love their cheerful little song:)

I hope my little chickadee couple, wherever they may be, find other happy, comfy lodging. Though I doubt it will be anywhere near as cheerful as this colorful gourd, here’s hoping!

∼ Jen