Friday, July 29, 2011

Fridays are Golden

Our Ellie loves tennis balls.  She carries at least one in her mouth most of the time.  She guards the tennis balls like a mother hen sitting on her eggs.  Generally we allow dog toys only in the den.  But tennis balls are an exception as Ellie carries them around the house.

Maybe if I don't look at her she won't know I brought two tennis balls with me.

Still not looking directly at you, Mom.

Meanwhile Lucy stares out the window.  She watches the birds come to the feeders on the deck.  And she is always on the lookout for squirrels.  Several times every day Lucy walks around the house, checking all the windows she can.  When she sees someone walking on "her" street, she gives a little muffled bark and stands at attention until they are out of sight.

I do love watching those birds come and go.

And when she is tired from all those "watch dog" duties, she settles in for some rest.  Preferably using Ellie for a pillow.

David Hume, a philosopher and skeptic who lived more than two centuries ago wrote some observations that definitely apply to our current Congress.

"When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities."

If you have not contacted your Senators and expressed your feelings about the current quagmire, please contact them and make your voice be heard.  You can find your Senators here.  Your Congressional Representative can be found here.

And for this weekend, try to forget our arrogant leaders.  Focus on your family and loved ones.

And Have a Wonderful Weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is It The Wine?

They were sitting on the deck drinking wine one evening.

She took a sip of wine and said, "I love you so much.  I don't think I could live without you."

He asked smugly, "Is that you or the wine talking?"

Sipping her wine she replied, "It's me...talking to the wine."

Photo from the Internet

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Side of the Tree

I have spent a great deal of time trying to capture a photograph of the Pileated Woodpeckers feeding their young.  They always manage to go to the other side of the tree.  Finally I saw them on a foggy morning last week.  Unfortunately, I was inside so the photographs are not the best.  (Perhaps I should clean the glass in the door more often.)

The adult male has been to the suet feeder and flies back to the tree.

 He feeds the large fledgling.

 There is a short break but the adult does not need to go back to the feeder.

He feeds the young one again.

I am glad that we have so many birds to enjoy.  When you are trying to avoid the "breaking" news, bird watching takes on a whole new meaning.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fridays are Golden

What has caught their interest?  It isn't dinner, but you can tell by the happy faces that it must be something good.

What's this?  He forgot to unwrap it.  I need help.

Would you give us a little help here, Dad?

It's a new chew.  Lucy takes her chew and goes right to her bed to enjoy it.  The beds have their names on them and they seem to know which is which most of the time.  My husband thinks it's because Lucy is so smart.  I think it's because the "Lucy" bed is somehow a bit more comfortable.  The Princess deserves the best.

Ellie takes a break from her chew, holding it between her paws.

These hard chews are made with Yak milk.  The girls just love them.  A bit pricey, but fine for an occasional treat.

Jane Austen said, "What dreadful hot weather we have.  It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."

The weather is not the only thing that keeps me from being elegant, but it certainly does contribute.  Like most residents of the south-eastern United States, we are enduring markedly high temperatures.  Unlike our typical summer weather, this weather keeps the temperatures up even at night.  Here's hoping we all get a respite soon.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Another Big Baby and It's a Boy

At first glance, I thought it was another female Pileated Woodpecker fledgling.  The baby bird flew to the tree while the adult male went to the suet feeder.  As I watched more closely, I could see the faint red along the cheek stripe.  In addition to that, the red crest extended all the way to the top of the bill.  This baby was a boy.

He sits on the tree, watching Dad get some food.

He preens himself since it is taking so long.

And of course, since I have my camera they move behind the tree for the feeding.

The adult male on the left with Junior on the right.  You might want to click to enlarge.  See how fresh and clean the juvenile is?  And poor Papa looks like he has had a hard summer.

Last week we had the pleasure of seeing the juvenile female make her first attempts at flying to the feeder.  She first flew to the post, then flew and clung to the wooden shingles near the feeder.  Finally she was successful at gettting some food on her own.  Unfortunately we didn't catch a photograph.  Perhaps as this male begins to feed himself we'll be able to get a shot.

Thank goodness we have the birds and dogs to watch.  In this dreadful weather we enjoy the outdoors only when we are indoors.  Yuck!

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Don't Think it was THAT Vine

Like children everywhere, children in the South look at clouds to see formations of animals, boats, trees, and people.  But the children in the South have another place to look for these formations.  A vine known as Kudzu grows aggressively across the southern United States.  It envelopes anything in its path and seems to prefer utility poles.  Without fail, every single year someone sees a formation of Jesus or the Virgin Mary in the kudzu.

This year's Kudzu Jesus is found in Kinston, NC.  It is an image of Jesus on the cross.  [I know that Jesus said he was "the vine" and we are the branches but I honestly don't think he meant kudzu.  And to tell the truth I have seen better images of Jesus in kudzu.]  Nonetheless, people are driving from miles away to view the Kudzu Jesus.

Photograph from the Asheville Citizen-Times

A landowner near Kinston was about to spray the vine with a herbicide when he noticed the resemblance.  As he said, "You can't spray Jesus with Round-up."

The Japanese brought Kudzu (pueraria lobata) to the United States for the Centennial Exposition in 1876 to honor our Nation's 100th birthday.  It seemed to be a perfect plant and the growing conditions in Southeastern United States were perfect.  What could be better for soil erosion?  And for animal feed?

The Civilian Conservation Corps workers planted thousands upon thousands of acres of kudzu along the roadsides.  Kudzu plants were sold through the mail so farmers and others could plant their own.  What a great vine!  Well, there was one little problem...kudzu grows better than anyone dreamed.  It can grow as much as a foot a day during the summer months.  Spread by runners, the vine overtakes anything in its way.  It also spreads by seeds which can lie dormant for years before they burst forth to take over the landscape.

Kudzu is so widespread that controlling it is almost impossible.  Utility companies spend millions each year repairing damage done by kudzu.  Goat farmers lease their goats to eat the kudzu in certain areas.  Some enterprising folks make baskets and other artwork from kudzu.  While there are some uses for kudzu, the supply will always exceed demand and the South will continue to struggle against the "vine that ate the South."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesdays Are Golden Too

We celebrated more than Independence Day on Monday.  July 4th is also Lucy's birthday.  Quite appropriate we think.  In truth we don't actually celebrate canine birthdays except for a few extra hugs and much thanks for another year with a best friend.

Without a doubt, Lucy is the smartest dog we have ever owned.  We caught a glimpse of this when she was just a puppy.  She was watching television with me.  The show was a sheep herding contest.  (I just love to watch sheep herding.)  When the sheep dog ran across the screen from left to right and disappeared, Lucy got up and went to the right side of the television and looked behind it to see where the dog had gone.  Lucy knows the path the deer will take around our house.  She will watch the deer from the porch downstairs.  Then she will run to the door and wait for the deer to appear on that side of the house.  She then runs upstairs and looks out the dining room window.

If you ask Lucy to find her blue tug for example, she sits and thinks, then runs to the place she last saw it.  She knows when we are driving to a fun destination.  She is a bit anxious in the car until we pass a certain spot.  That means we are not driving to the veterinarian and her disposition changes completely.

I believe Lucy would have made an excellent search and rescue dog because of her intelligence, persistence, and sheer joy of being praised when she accomplishes something.  She has a little prance that indicates she is proud of herself.  Her hero, by the way, is Bert.  Read his blog here

When we become a bit too proud of Lucy's intelligence, she grounds us by doing something stupid like eating rabbit poop which invariably makes her sick for a day or two.

Here she is during her first week with us.  The roly-poly puppy loved the roly-poly hard ball.

 Resting in the shade, her happy smile already developed.

 Lucy was such a little thing.  Here she is with our Ellie who was two at the time.  You may want to click to enlarge the photograph.

 She is a great guard dog.  Here she keeps careful watch on the deck for those beady-eyed devil squirrels.  (When we were in obedience training, the instructor said that all dogs no matter what the breed would protect their owners and property.  Then she looked straight at us and said, "Well, except for Golden Retrievers.  They will wag their tails and show the intruder where you keep the silver.")

 She loves to hike, but most of all she loves to run free in the wind.

 She smiles as much as any dog we've ever had.

 And she looks so peaceful when she sleeps.

Why am I doing Goldens on Wednesday?  Because we are having guests and I won't be posting for a week or so.  So stay safe and happy.

Monday, July 4, 2011

America Celebrates

Such a special day for all Americans.  As you enjoy the parades, the picnics, and the fireworks, keep in mind what we are really celebrating.  Today brings us all together for a change.

Photograph from the Internet

 We fly flags all year round.  We have seasonal flags, sports team flags, and of course we have Old Glory.  This flag has special meaning for us here in our retirement home.  It flew over the Capitol on the very day my husband retired.  For a small fee you can request such a flag from your Senator or Congressman.

When we fly this flag we are indeed thankful.  Despite our frequent misgivings about our elected officials we know that this flag unites us all.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Fridays are Golden

Lucy loves to have a place to rest her head.  Often her pillow is Ellie.  But she can make a pillow from almost anything.

I can rest quite well on the rung of a chair.

I love to rest my head on your foot, especially if you are wearing soft socks.

If there is no foot in sight, there is almost always a pair of shoes on the floor.

This pair of shoes is even softer.

If Ellie is not around, I can lay my head on the hearth alongside the cricket.

Today is Canada Day and Prince William and his bride are visiting our neighbors to the north.  Best wishes to all of you.

This weekend we will celebrate Independence Day here in the United States.  As you enjoy your long weekend, the picnics, and the fireworks, say a prayer that our elected leaders will honor us by working together on some very critical issues facing our country.

In the words of George Washington Carver:
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong.  Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

The key words are "tender" "compassionate" "sympathetic" and "tolerant."  Think on these as you enjoy this holiday weekend.