Monday, September 28, 2015

No Blood Moon for Us

While some of you enjoyed the thrill of an enormous red moon, the rest of us saw only clouds and rain.  It has been raining on and off since Friday.  More than six inches have fallen but the rain has been so steady and gentle there are no flash floods.  Just a marvelous drink of water for our trees as they approach winter.

We missed the moon but it was worth it.

The birds don't seem to be bothered too much by the rain.  We have domes atop all the bird feeders so the seeds stay dry.  Many of the birds will shelter there even after they have eaten their fill.

The Tufted Titmouse is so wet his tuft is flat against its head.

 A White-breasted Nuthatch rests near the tree trunk.

It is still raining this morning, but we are expected clear skies later in the week.  For now, I enjoy sitting on the porch and watching the birds in the rain.

Friday, September 25, 2015

We Love Lucy

What a busy week it has been.  And it is ending on a beautiful note with a very nice constant rain, just the kind we need for our trees.

Lucy had her annual physical which always exhausts her.  I'm not certain if it's the effect of the immunizations or the stress of being at the veterinarian's office, but she is lethargic the rest of the day.  We always try to make her appointments in the afternoons so she will at least have her morning stress free.  The doctor pronounced her very healthy and commented on her svelte figure and solid muscles.  "Perfection," he commented, and my husband broke into a broad grin.

Cuddling with her bee and bone pillows, she snoozed until dinnertime.

 Pope Francis has made quite an impression on all Americans with his humility and kindness.  I especially loved that when he asked for prayers from the faithful, he also asked those who cannot or do not pray to wish him well.

We lost a baseball legend this week.  Yogi Berra was a hero of mine when I was a child. (Wish I'd saved the baseball cards.)  He died last week, but his words will live on.

 My favorite Yogism

We are entering the first full week of Autumn.  I hope it is a wonderful one for all of you and all of those you love.



Monday, September 21, 2015

Waning Days of Summer

The nights are chilly, the trees are dusky green and we even have a few bits of color appearing on the dogwood trees.  The nightly katydid chorus gets much quieter as the temperatures fall.  In the midst of summer one can hardly talk on the porch for the loudness of the katydids.  Mountain folk estimate the temperature by the calls of the katydids.  And it is, in fact a scientific truth.  The katydids have a call frequency based on the temperature of their thoraxes, which in turn is based on the outdoor temperature.  The formula is T=(C + 161) / 3.  (Temperature equals the number of calls per minute plus 161 with the result divided by three).  Only problem I have found is that I cannot possibly count the number of calls.  (Plus we do have outdoor thermometers that register digitally inside.)  But anyone can recognize that there are fewer calls on chilly nights.

We have several species of katydids here in the North Carolina mountains and they inhabit common areas.  Females can identify males of the same species by the frequency of calls (i.e., thorax temperatures) because they will be the same as the females.  Mountain folk also predict the time of the first frost based on the time the katydids begin to call the famous, "Katy did.  Katy didn't."

Here is a katydid common to our area.

 I'm not sure why it's climbing on our window screen.

 Another sign of waning summer around here is the profusion of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  We now have migrant hummingbirds from the north joining our summer resident hummingbirds.  Most often they hover around our feeders in sparring matches, each trying to prevent the others from drinking the nectar.  They are such little things and have so far to travel, one would think it in their best interest to share.  But that's not going to happen.

 It's a chilly morning and this little hummingbird is fluffed up to keep warmer.

 But chilly or not, it continually looks around for others who might want to share the bounty of the feeders.

I love this time of year.  The only negative I have is that the hours of daylight are waning along with the summer.  But here in the mountains we will still have many more sunny days than not.  A vast improvement over the twenty years of gray, cold, and snowy winters we had in Wisconsin.

The leaves will soon turn these mountains into a glorious palette of color.  And it's football season again.  How 'bout them 2 and 0 Packers?

Friday, September 18, 2015

We Love Lucy

Another lovely late summer week for us.  We had lower than normal temperatures early in the week and had to turn on the heat.  Reluctantly, but when the house is 64 it's time.  This weekend we will no doubt change to air conditioner as we expect much warmer days.  Such is the month of September.  This is the last week of summer, with Autumn officially making an entrance on Wednesday.

Ellie, our other Golden loved to lie on the deck while I sat reading or watching the birds.  Lucy does not generally care much for it.  But on these cool days she soaks up the warmth from the deck and enjoys the sunshine.  She watches the birds coming and going from the feeders and the water.

Bird-watching Lucy
Every now and then her head raises up to sniff something in the air.

Political rhetoric fills the airwaves with appearances and debates and "news" reporters tell us more than we wanted to hear about the political campaign.  If you are a liberal Democrat and lover of sarcasm in little old ladies, I recommend you check out Margaret and Helen's blog (here).  But if you are a Republican, it's not going to be your cup of tea.  I'm sure there are such blogs equally appealing to Republicans but I haven't found them.

Tuesday at Sundown our Jewish friends begin the High Holy Day of Yom Kipppur (Day of Atonement).
It is fitting that our quote comes as an excerpt from the forgiveness prayer, Al Khet:  (This is one of simplest of its forms although the words may vary and the entire prayer is much longer.)
For the sin that we have committed under stress or through choice;
For the sin that we have committed in stubbornness or in error;
For the sin that we have committed in the evil meditations of the heart;
For the sin that we have committed by word of mouth;
For the sin that we have committed through abuse of power;
For the sin that we have committed by exploitation of neighbors;
For all these sins, O God of forgiveness, bear with us, pardon us, forgive us!

If you do not believe in any higher being, this prayer is still a meaningful one.  Repeat it beginning "I'm sorry."  Jew, Christian, Muslim or non-believer, we all commit these shortcomings and need to reflect upon them.

Pope Francis is coming to the United States at the end of next week.  Catholic or not, religious or not, one must be happy to see the eye-opening humanity, humility, and inclusiveness this Pope is showing.  So it is also fitting that we have a quote from him as well:
Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression, or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.

 Whatever you are doing, enjoy these last days of Summer.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Oatmeal for Breakfast

A good friend in Milwaukee eats oatmeal for breakfast seven days a week.  When I lived there and we went out for breakfast she invariably ordered oatmeal.  When she comes to visit us, she has oatmeal for breakfast.  She is particularly fond of the pottery bowls we use for cereal and soup.

She has a special day approaching.  We no longer call them birthdays.  So I decided that something from my favorite pottery (Mud Dabbers) would make a nice gift.  So this is what I sent:

Here is her new oatmeal bowl.

 And a coffee cup featuring our famous white squirrels

 A nice set for morning coffee and oatmeal for breakfast
Or tea and soup for lunch

 And just in case you haven't heard enough about her in the "news"
A billboard placed in her hometown
(Photograph from the Internet)
(You may need to click and enlarge)

Special thoughts go out to our Jewish friends as they celebrate the New Year.

And to those affected by the incredible wildfires in the West,

And to the refugees seeking asylum from terrorism in the Middle East,

Would that they receive at least as much mention in the "news" as the Kentucky Clerk of Court or the loud-mouthed candidate who acts more like a sixth-grade bully than Presidential material.

Friday, September 11, 2015

We Love Lucy

Today is a somber day for all Americans as we remember the events of September 11, 2001.  Fourteen years ago, it seems like only yesterday.  Each of us can recall exactly where we were when we first heard the news and saw the horrid videos.  The day is indelibly etched forever in our minds.

Lucy reflects on her beloved bee pillow.
OK, she is probably snoozing but still...

Beyond the tragedy, there was something else that happened in the days following the attacks.  We all came together.  No division by race, ethnicity, gender identity, politics, or religion.  For that brief moment in time we were all simply---Americans.  How is it possible that we are now more divisive and intolerant than at any other time in our history?  How is it that we now scream RELIGIOUS RIGHTS and FREEDOM OF RELIGION, when what we really mean is INTOLERANCE and PREJUDICE?  While none of us wants to re-live those horrid times, we do yearn for the cohesion it briefly brought to our country.  We can find that again without a major tragedy, but only if enough of us want it and are willing to fight for it.

Today's quote is from Mahatma Gandhi:

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.
There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible,
But, in the end, they always fall.
Think if it always. 



Monday, September 7, 2015

Grandmother To Laborers

An Irish immigrant,  Mary Harris Jones became a crusader for the rights of American workers.  Born during the great Irish famine, Jones suffered during her early years.  Later she lost her husband and all four children to yellow fever.  Then she lost her home, her dress-making business and all her personal possessions to fire during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Concerned about the plight of the workers, Jones became a union organizer for United Mine Workers.  She rallied the wives and children of the workers to large demonstrations on behalf of their fathers and husbands.  She continued to ignore court warnings to stop meetings of striking workers.  Reese Blizzard, a West Virginia District Attorney said of her, "There sits the most dangerous woman in America.

By the 1900s, Mary Harris Jones was known as "Mother Jones" and she traveled to Pennsylvania to aid laboring children.  The census of 1900 indicated that one in six children under the age of sixteen were employed full-time.  Usually in very poor conditions and extremely low wages.  Many children suffered significant injuries from the unsafe conditions.  Mother Jones led the Children's Crusade and organized a children's march through the streets under banners proclaiming, "We want to go to school, not to the mines."

In 1912, martial law was declared after a labor dispute between mine worker and mine owners became violent.  Mary Jones refused to accept the requirements of martial law and continued to protest in favor of the miners.  She was sentenced to jail and spent almost three months in the State penitentiary.

The United States Senate pronounced Mary Jones as "the grandmother of all agitators."  Her response reportedly was "I hope that I live long enough to be the great-grandmother of all agitators."

This diminutive and feisty little woman coined the phrase that became widely popular among protesters:
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

So---here's to Mother Jones.  Her fight continues.  Give a toast to her as you enjoy your Labor Day picnic.  And then another to all the workers who serve this country.  Perhaps no one every fought harder for them than Mary Harris Jones.


Friday, September 4, 2015

We Love Lucy

Labor Day weekend is here already.  Summer is truly planning to leave us.  But not without some much warmer weather than we usually expect.  This past week has been quite warm.  But we do get a nice cool down at night so early mornings are a gift.

Lucy loves the cooler morning weather but is not at all fond of the hotter mid-day temperatures.

Running and grinning

Lucy likes the air-conditioned house when it's hot outside.  Surprisingly enough, she still loves to lie in the sun. Actually, I suppose that's not too surprising since our house is as cool in the summer as it is in winter.

 Her eyes are not closed because of the bright sun.
She is actually snoozing with her head up.

Our senses are numbed by the pervasive campaign rhetoric that surrounds us.  So we seek comfort in the rhetoric of others who speak with more reason.

Thus, today's quote is from the late Steve Jobs:

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by dogma---which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
 Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important---have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."