Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Going Dark to Recover

I have developed a case of shingles.  I started on anti-virals as soon as the rash appeared so I am hoping the recovery will be a bit faster.  I won't be posting for a while until I recover.  Meanwhile I will read your posts and will be back with mine whenever I can manage.

Yes, it's every bit as bad as everyone says.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Just Cut'em Down

The entire town was in an uproar over the method Duke Energies used in trimming the limbs from the pine trees near the college.  (See my post on March 30)  The college administration, the students, the residents of the street involved and people like me who drive by there often voiced their opinions about the appearance of the trees.  Homeowners on the street felt the appearance devalued their property.

So, almost a month after the unsightly trimming, the college asked Duke Energies to come back and cut the trees completely down.  I happened to drive by the day Duke Energies began removing the healthy trees.

The remaining limbs were sheared off and the trees were cut down in long sections.

 Here is the work in progress

 Log piles followed in the wake of the chainsaws

The trees are completely gone now.  It's rather sad to see that a parking lot is more attractive than the sheared trees Duke Energies originally left standing.  The PR person from Duke explained that what they did was perfectly within their authority and guidelines.  And that is probably so, but it did seem extreme to most of us who thought selective trimming might have been more reasonable.  I strongly suspect the college was not aware of the extent to which Duke planned to trim the trees.  I think they would have opted for removal from the beginning had they been aware.

Everyone agrees that a stand of pine trees was not a good idea in the first place.  So while no plans have been published, the college will likely plant trees that will not grow so tall and wide as to be a problem for the power lines.Whatever the college decides, the result is almost certainly going to be more attractive than the pine trees totally sheared on one side.

In our community, all the power lines are underground and all trimming is done by our own maintenance crew.  Trees are trimmed only when they place some danger to pedestrian or automobile traffic.  But the mayor and city council do not believe there are sufficient funds to bury the power lines in town.

Friday, April 3, 2015

We Love Lucy

Our Lucy loves to hang out around the yard, especially with my husband.  When he is working on simple chores, he allows her to stay out there with him.  While she definitely sniffs around, she never strays far and has never left the yard.  More than any dog we've ever had, Lucy loves to watch people do things.  She keenly watches when we open a box or assemble something.

She's on alert for some reason.  Perhaps a smell?  Notice the tail

 She looks up at my husband to follow every move he is making.
I think I could do that if only I had hands with thumbs

 She is very patient as she waits for him to complete the task
Often she is rewarded with a trip down to our creek where the smells are so wonderful

After a busy week, most of us will slow down a bit today.  Because today is one of the holiest days of the year for Christians and for Jews.  For Christians, today is Good Friday marking the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  And for Jews, Passover begins at sundown, marking the last plague that allowed for their escape from the bonds of slavery in Egypt and the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land.

[Interestingly enough, in our small town, the Jews (who do not have a temple here), hold their worship services at the Catholic Church.  The Torah is kept in the priest's office.  Somehow it did not seem appropriate to have it in the sanctuary with the large crucifix overhead.]

Passover and Easter make this is a time of renewal for Jews and Christians.  And for non-believers, the emerging spring also puts a breath of renewal in their hearts.

Today's quote is from novelist and activist Isabel Allende:

"We don't even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward.  In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity people do amazing things.  The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome."


Monday, March 30, 2015

Looking at Both Sides

On a street near the college here in town grows a nice row of pine trees.  They are stately, tall and full.  The sidewalk has heavy pedestrian traffic.  At a given time one might see an elderly couple with canes, youthful joggers, excited coeds, or mothers with strollers.  The street leads to a little shopping center with two cafes and an independent book store.  It used to be a nice street.

I use the past tense, because the street is no longer so nice.  It has become an eyesore and a blight on the community.

Here are the pine trees taken from a college parking lot

 They grow up to the sky healthy and vigorous

 They are lovely to see
(on this side)

 The following photographs are the same trees taken from the other side.  The street side.  The busy sidewalk side.

 Every single branch has been sheared at the trunk on this side.  The trees themselves look sad.

 It looks no better coming from the opposite direction

 The once lovely street now a disaster area

So what happened to the trees?  Duke Energies did some "pruning."  According to Duke, they have trimming experts who carefully consider how to best prune the trees in the least offensive manner and with the least damage to the trees.  They no longer perform "round-over" pruning because it is not healthy for the trees.  "Directional" pruning causes minimal impact on the tree.

Duke Energies is the largest power company in the United States.  They already have free-rein to pollute our NC rivers (check this article) with the blessings of our governor, a former Duke executive.  The governor has appointed several Duke retirees to State oversight committees.  (You can google "NC coal ash spills and find lots of information)

But this post is about the trees.  Why such seemingly excessive pruning on perfectly healthy trees?  I have no idea.  The branches were not so large that they would have brought down a power line even if they had fallen directly on it.  And none of the branches were weak or rotting.

So I'm left with this answer.  They can do it because they are so big and powerful and they will say they are doing it for the good of the public.  Nonsense.  They can do it because it saves them money, never mind what it does to the esthetics or health of the trees.  And what can we do about it?  Absolutely nothing except lament the loss of a beautiful street.  And perhaps pay closer attention to the people we elect to government offices.

Friday, March 27, 2015

We Love Lucy

Hard freeze?  What do you mean hard freeze?  Don't you know the camellias are heavy with buds ready to open?  And so many spring flowers are opening up?

We've had such beautiful weather this week that it's had to face the fact that this weekend will bring much cooler weather with a hard freeze tonight and tomorrow night.  After several days of sunshine, it is gray and raining here.  We're hoping the rain stops before the freeze.

Lucy loves the cooler weather but she hates the rain.  She goes from window to window to see if it's raining everywhere.  Finding out that it is, she plops down to snooze, occasionally resting on her bee pillow to stare out at the rain.

Lucy ignoring the rain

 Not much reason to get up

 We are fortunate (thanks to our daughter) to have little spring birds in the window sills.  They all have little slickers and Wellies.  Some of them carry umbrellas.  Some of them have their cups of tea.  I smile at them as they sit ready for the rain.

 Rainy day bird looking inside rather than outside

There are many good things about a rainy day after so many days of sunshine.  I might finally pay some attention to the neglected housework.  More likely, I will give a token stroke to the housecleaning and read or knit.  And I'll join the birds in a cup of tea.  Whatever your weather, I hope you enjoy this day and the weekend.

For many of you, there is still basketball to watch.  I'll likely watch a few parts of games, but with UNC losing to Wisconsin last night, my interest has waned.  Good luck to you if your team is still in the running.

Today's quote is anonymous but appropriate:

"Some days, you just have to create your own sunshine."


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Get Ready. They are on the move

Spotted already in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, eastern Texas and southern Arkansas, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are migrating.  Put out the hummingbird feeders if you live in or near those areas.

Each spring, provides an interactive map for people to follow the migration and report sightings of hummingbirds in their area.  While any self-reporting map has a margin of error, the combination of reported sightings will give a good idea of when these lovely little jewels are approaching your home.

You can click to enlarge the map for today.

And go to the Website here regularly to watch for the hummingbirds.  You might even report a new sighting in your area.

I am not aware of a similar reporting system for the other hummingbirds in North America.  The Ruby-throated is the only one found regularly in the Eastern and Midwestern US.  We do occasionally get the wayward Rufous but in most cases if we see a hummingbird, it's almost certain to be a Ruby-throated.

So mix up your nectar and set out your feeders as soon as you see the birds approaching your area.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Outside and Inside

Every spring I look lovingly at the daffodils and crocus my neighbors have.  And every spring I tell myself that I will plant some bulbs come fall.  And every fall I fail to do so.  So I miss those early blossoms every spring.

OK, so I don't have daffodils or crocus.  But I do have plants that bloom in early spring.  The Lenten Rose (Helleborus Orientalis), contrary to its common name is not a rose at all.  It's in the Buttercup family.  Their only negative is that the blossoms face downward rather than up toward the sun.

A profusion of blossoms

 Such lovely plants requiring very little care

 Much less reliable than the hellibores are our three camellias.  On the very outer edge of their comfort gardening zone, the camellias do not always blossom for us.  Many years the buds come out far too soon and are frozen.  Other years we are rewarded with the lovely blossoms.  It's hard to tell which it will be this year.

 A limb laden with buds lies almost on the ground next to a smiling Daisy.
(No, not the's way too early for daisies.)

 A reliable shrub is the Pieris Japonica.  We have several of these planted on either side of the front porch steps.  They are early bloomers and the bell-shaped clusters are gorgeous.

We can always count on the pieris

 One of my favorite plants is the forsythia.  While it is blooming downtown, it is only budding here on the mountain.  Every year I bring some clippings inside and we enjoy watching them blossom out.  I have learned that I can stick these clippings in the ground to propagate new plants.

 What says spring better than forsythia?

I hope you are enjoying your first full week of spring.