Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tree Meets Sun!

Yippie Ky Yi YAY!

Eve and I finally had a lunch date after lo these many months of conversing - e-versing, actually! The Mexican restaurant was filled with the locals, and seemingly the entire Emergency Management team whose emergency vehicles ringed the building like horses tied up at the local saloon in a western movie.

These shots were Eve's idea. Both of us are camera shy, preferring to be behind the lens. Hi Eve! After our scrumptious lunch we drove a short way down the road to experience the beauty of The Greenery - gifts and plants and garden goodies. We both were wishing to be independently wealthy from the moment we walked in. Oh, my goodness.

Eve's shot of "her" table is far more artistic than mine, but here it is in all its glory along with Eve! You get a sense of place from this photo. We loved everything we saw, and learned a lot about each other through the experience. For example, I learned that Eve also has a rock collection from various places AND decorates using pretty stones in bowls. So there. I'm not alone.
It was HERE that a photo of some exquisite pear shaped candles were inserted, accidentally deleted, and attempted to reinsert - obviously without success. I'm getting used to a new computer and Vista and I can't figure out how to do it! Dang it! Anyway, we LOVED these cute little pear candles...and one day I'll show them to you!!!

Windchimes of all colors and shapes and sizes.

These candles are gorgeous. This is the table upon which we saw a bowl of polished rocks and discovered our shared love of rocks and a natural, easy decorating "style."
We also fell in love with this Hobbit House neatly arranged on a hytuffeta-whatever planter filled with soft mosses and frilly ferns. Can you see Frodo? I'm not sure why Eve didn't buy this cute little thing - it was only close to $500. LOL!

Toad houses in abundance! I was quite taken by all these cute little houses.

While Eve purchased her plants I wandered amid the beautiful flora.

Eve and I probably stood in the same place to take our photo of The Greenery's front! After hugs and smiles we parted ways vowing to get together again. In fact, she wants to see the lake house before we have to move out - that's a story for later - so expect another Adventures of Debi and Eve post soon.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Red Headed Woodpeckers

Should you follow my humble blog you know of my affinity for red headed woodpeckers. This weekend at the lake they were loud and raucous, flitting back and forth in their typical undulating flight through the tree canopy. High above our deck in a nearby tree RHW's have created a condominium in a dead branch having drilled out at least three nest holes.

Mom was busy in a particular part of the tree and I discovered why. She flew in carrying a huge bug in her beak and methodically dispatched the creature in a bowled out area of the tree. The bug was repeatedly pummeled by her deadly beak and ground up into a buggy stew.

For there's a baby to be fed.

She gently feeds her baby the buggy stew.

The baby waits for more. If you enlarge the photo you can see the baby's head is beginning to show some of the red coloration. These are really more RHW teenagers. They act like teenagers, that's for sure.

The impatient baby RHW goes to the bug bowl for leftovers.

Mom returns with another bug and I now see two babies!

There is a distinct pecking order among the babies. Enlarge and look at the top baby's face.

One is clearly dominate and the other moves aside to wait his turn.

The dominate baby RHW now looks crossly at mom, who is apparently not fast enough in making the buggy stew.

Last shot of feeding before I had to head indoors to feed my own family. We head back to the city tomorrow, but the red headed woodpeckers will remain in my soul.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Green Mountain Park

It's been easily 20 years since I've been to Green Mountain Park. What used to be a favorite weekend activity got usurped over time by new adventures, new places, life changes, forgetfulness. When friends invited us to go for a Sunday morning hike we jumped at the chance. This park is not 10 minutes from our front door. Looping up a sharply steep mountain road, curvy and shaded with old growth trees, memories were flooding back with every new scene. The parking lot hadn't changed much, but the park had been cleared out more with pine straw added for mulch. Strolling through the quiet, we passed the entrance and started down the path past a little waterfall and native azaleas in late bloom decline. The path widened into a short gravel road for the Rangers which lead to a rustic covered bridge over the waterway.

The waters beneath are calm and still. In autumn we'll see geese, ducks and mergansers our host told me, but today the only thing that rippled the waters were a nice breeze and an occasional turtle head. Far below in the water we spied some small minnows. Buttonbush was beginning to bloom along the water's edge, so I'll have to go back soon to get some shots.

Passing through the bridge we entered the woods on a nicely maintained trail. Many wildflowers were in bloom, which will be the topic of another post while I try to identify them. The filtering sunlight was ethereal in places, casting spotlights on plants and areas of interest much like a play or concert. This sassafras was the lucky recipient of a bit of sunshine during our time there.

Strolling deeper and higher we encountered mountain streams that feed the lake. Sturdy, wide boardwalks safely took us over what would be wet zones during rainy times then to bridges crossing boulder-edged stream beds. Multiple varieties of mosses and lichens decorated rocks and woods. The water was clear and cold.

Explore still further we came across unearthly wood formations along oddly colored streams that made me feel as though we were traveling through Narnia or Middle Earth. An elf or hobbit sighting would not have surprised me in the least.

This color of this particular stream is caused by iron leaching out of the rocks along the stream bed, our host tells us. It is a healthy stream, housing multiple frog eggs and tiny fishes. Its color is exquisite and other-worldly, making the emerald green of mosses and understory plants pop out in stark relief.

I found a giraffe head tree! This multi-trunked beauty looks like a prehistoric herbivore wandering through ancient woods grabbing a snack high above. The shimmering white veil was constructed by an industrious spider, back-lit by sunlight streaming through a green canopy.

The other side of our imaginary prehistoric herbivore, decorated by blue-green lichens and knobby skin.

Nearing the end of our hike we came across a mountain chapel built of Eastern Red Cedar. Weddings and various ceremonies are held her often, and it is a popular place to propose marriage. It is quite small, but the area where we were standing was cleared and mulched, with lovely wooden benches upon which to sit for reflection or to view a ceremony.

Walking within the chapel I spy lying upon the front wooden pew a Ziploc bag with a note inside, sealed for protection from the elements. Atop the Ziploc bag is a bright red rose. In awe, I shoot the photo with shaky hands. This is private and important. I'll never know its purpose. We left it completely as we found it without trespassing on their privacy. This moment will stay with me.

Reaching the end of our hike we settle on a picnic bench and take in the silence and peace. Across the small lake the covered bridge keeps us company, accompanied by wind song in the trees.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Counting Blessings

Randy Cole, my Random Stone buddy, commented recently on how he and I have been unable to post regularly on our blogs. His silence has been primarily due to work assignments while mine has been primarily due to major changes in our family situation. We now own two homes: one on the lake and one in the city. I won't go into the why's and wherefore's here, but suffice it to say that I was the Queen of Denial when it came to leaving the lake house for any length of time. At one point we "knew" we were going to have to sell it, but as of today we now think differently. We are literally taking each day as it comes and dealing with it.

My emotions have swung from depression to anger to sweet oblivion to curiosity. I admit that I've been whining. I hate whining and whiners. Of late my JOB has been to concentrate on recognizing my disease (whining), changing my attitude and finding my gratitude. This morning I'm heading back to the lake house, staying through the weekend. Waking in the softening predawn darkness this morning I began to count my blessings, just like my friend over at the Blessing Counter has always done. So here are my blessings today:

1. At the city house there is a network of streets lined with sidewalks making morning walks with Baylee such a treat. We can go many directions, and we head out knowing our walks will be SAFE as all dogs here are on leashes or in fenced-in backyards. I cannot tell you how much more enjoyable our walks are.

2. Baylee has her own fenced-in backyard!!! She can run and play, and the previous owner left all manner of doggie toys that she inherited....and is annihilating one by one - LOL!

3. Kayla LOVES her new school and her classes. Her former school had 12 students TOTAL in the 11th grade, while her new school has over 400 in her senior class! She loves loves loves the excitement, the energy, the creativity, the studies, everything.

4. We have family and friends close by. Two close couple friends, my dad and step mom, my stepbrothers and their family. And I'm running into all manner of people with whom I used to work so it's been like a reunion.

5. There is a beautiful mountaintop park not ten minutes from our home. We went there Sunday morning for a walk and I took a few photos. (I cannot post photos until I get to the lake house - I'm not set up here to do any photo work) (yet)

6. The Greenway is 5 minutes from our house. One can park in their safe parking lot and walk all the way down to the Tennessee River and back. I intend to do that this autumn and winter and spring - a LOT. When Baylee is ready she'll go with me some of the way. She has a bum leg as you know and can't walk that far.

7. I can schedule my doctor and dentist and other appointments to coincide with my time in the city.

8. The lake house remains and is our vacation home. Driving there I feel the excitement rise up deep within. When I arrive the first thing I do is go out on the deck and breathe deeply.

9. The Giraffe Head Tree is still there, waiting patiently for my return.

There are more blessings but these are big and meaningful to me today. I leave soon for the lake house and will post the mountain park photos, hopefully. Unless I didn't leave them on the flashcard....wait...I think I deleted them. Drat. I'll get the hang of this double duty gig but in the meantime just know that I'm here and will check in as often as I can. I'm behind in my blog reading and miss everyone very much.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bloom Where You're Planted

There is a very good chance we'll be leaving the lake and my giraffe head tree. Well, we're already kinda gone, but I come back here weekly to do my work since my computer is still here, as are my clothes, my feathers and rocks, my buckeyes and possumhaws, and so on. I'm working hard on blooming where I'll be planted for a bit, if not for the duration. The new place offers a richly shaded yard that's begging for ferns and hostas, hydrangeas and a myriad of shade loving plants. I've never had a shady yard so the challenge will be fun. Maybe.

With the goal of acceptance in mind, I walked outside to explore and see what's what. Because the yard needs lots of work there are a myriad of mushrooms popping up here and there. Enchanted, I began searching for a blue mushroom like the one Daniel found. You can see it at Daniel's Nature At Close Range blog. While a blue mushroom wasn't in the offing that afternoon I did find a wide variety of mushrooms.

This one, above, had a dead mosquito stuck to it. This should have been my first clue. Lying in the moss and grass to get some good angles two immediate obstacles came into play. First obstacle - Baylee. She wanted to help. There's something about a large black dog with huge paws that makes mushrooms quake in fear.

The second obstacle was certainly quieter. More stealthy. The deeper I explored into the wooded lot the more I became aware of unwelcome guests. Mosquitoes. Lots of mosquitoes.

We just aren't bothered by mosquitoes at the lake thanks to nearly constant winds and/or breezes. That, plus the water is deep with a swift current which do not make for a good incubator. We never had mosquito problems at the lake, but as more people began moving in they leave all manner of things out to catch rain water which create ideal places for teeny tiny mosquito nurseries. Even still, mosquitoes are rare so I've gotten out of the habit of preparing for them.

By the time I spied this brilliant red topped mushroom I was swatting and slapping and ranting about the cursed blights. Nasty things, mosquitoes.

I don't have a mushroom book nor time to research these so just enjoy them for what they are. Pretty little mushrooms in a shady backyard. In the meantime, until things settle and I know more, I've been receiving a lot of suggestions for a new blog. Here are a few that made me laugh:

The Subdivision From Hell – Tales from the Dark Side

Reevaluation: Is it Too Late for that Convent in the Alaskan Wilderness?

No Time for Terrapins, Dammit

Suburbia Blows But Not Like the Wind Off the Lake

I rather like the last one! It made me laugh out loud ESPECIALLY after my experience with mosquitoes and mushrooms!!! I wish for you all peace and bliss.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pelicans, Redux

I've been MIA - sorry. We've been doing some moving, which is NOT what I want to talk about so instead I'll inundate you all with more pelican photos. Mine are not stellar. They're rather common. I know this because I found some uncommon and fantastic white pelican photos that are a-freakin'-mazing by a gentleman I only know as JCompton. His name is probably in the website somewhere, but goodness what an amazing photographer. It looks as though he's able to get pretty close to a whole bunch of white pelicans. Go straight to the section about beak stretching for a good chuckle and literally jaw-dropping shots. I was searching on-line for pelican anatomy and found Mr. Compton, who was much more entertaining and amusing.

As I said, we've been doing some moving....which I wasn't going to discuss. Fortunately, Life goes on and I had another meeting scheduled at the beautiful Doublehead Resort on Wilson Lake. Alabama. (Not that mega-wilson-lake in Kansas.) Because this was my first fun time in a bit I had to go check out the pelicans. They're doing fine, thank you very much. Pelican #1 was posing on what at first glance seemed to be a log but after closer inspection turns out to be an old tire. So much for pristine, eh? I guess some trash has a purpose. That, and birds are opportunists. It was sticking up just right after all. As a bonus, the tire seemed to be attracting turtles. See the little head below the pelican, to the left? So cute - little pond sliders.

Pelican #2 was waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy far away preening, cleaning his feathers while a great blue heron skulked around behind him. Not long after this shot a few Canada Geese flew in. Bliss. I just sat in the car with the windows down and listened to the peace. So idyllic, so restful, so beautiful. As peaceful and blissful as this setting was, there was no time to spare as work awaited me at home. Hopefully, I'll be back with more adventures soon.


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