Friday, September 30, 2016

We Love Lucy

Finally.  We are having wonderful Autumn weather.  Cool and crisp mornings and warm and sunny afternoons.  Lucy does thrive in this weather.  She forgets that she is eleven now and she still runs like a puppy, then sinks to rest.

She even curls up like a puppy, head between her paws.

 But she is on her feet when I open the pill bottles.
Always ready for a pill sammich.

I will be taking a blogging break for at least two weeks.  Our daughter is coming for a visit and we will be hitting the mountain roads.

We don't subscribe to THE NEW YORKER, but here is their clever cover.  Like a determined terrier, a certain politician simply cannot let go, even when it's in his best interest to do so.  I understand he was up in the wee hours this morning still tweeting away.  So this cover is appropriate.  In case you cannot read the sash, it's "Miss Congeniality."

I get rather depressed sometimes thinking about all the problems we have in this time.  The damage we inflict on our mother earth, the damage we inflict on our fellow humans across the globe.  And I feel overwhelmed with a desire to do something.

In those times, I remember the words of Edward Everett Hale.  I may have shared them before but they are especially appropriate now.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Wonderful Diversion

I saw flashes of him several times.  But never when I was outside with the camera.  I knew he would soon be joined by others but their time among us would be brief.  So I spent quite a bit of time hoping for a photograph.  Of one of my favorite migrants, the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  The males come first and stay a week or so and then the females join them for a few days.  The males travel on their southward journey and we enjoy the females for another week or so.  They stay in our area to rest and refuel for the remainder of their journey to Central America or South America.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is about the size of an American Robin.  In spring they have a song similar to the robin, only more beautiful.  As if a robin took singing lessons.  The grosbeaks do not nest here and we are treated to them only during the spring and fall migrations.

Finally.  I'm there with my camera and the bird appears.  The bird I've been looking for.
Getting a drink from the bird bath.

Oh, you are gorgeous.  I do wish you would turn around.

 The bird turns around and sees me.  He is not at all sure if he will stay in my presence.

 You talking to me?

 Oh, yes.  You are almost as pretty as you are in spring.

 Thank you for visiting us.

I sometimes feel a bit guilty photographing birds who clearly notice me.  This one did not take another drink after he saw me.  He quickly decided he was too uncomfortable to stay and off he flew.  When he did I moved away so he could come back for a snack and a drink.

We will enjoy these bright male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and will be a bit sad when we see the first of the migrating females.  That will mean the days of seeing this beautiful rosy breast will soon end.  But there will be other days and other new birds.

I won't even turn on the television during the day.  I'll be outdoors.  The beautiful news of the migration outside is a wonderful diversion from the frightening reality series of politics.

Friday, September 23, 2016

We Love Lucy

Autumn is here!  The panic gasoline shortage is pretty much over.  The Colonial Pipeline was quickly diverted around the leak and the pipeline fixed.  So we will be able to get up to higher elevations to see the changing colors.

Lucy has developed some contact allergies and has two more "hot spots" and a rash on her underside.  She's under treatment and new drugs so we're hoping everything will heal up nicely.  The veterinarian thinks this will be seasonal but one of the newer drugs can be given year round if she develops chronic allergies.  We think it has to do with grass since she gets much worse walking in the grass beside the roads.  No, our community does not spray anything on the grass.  But this has been an unusually hot dry summer.  The veterinarian says she is seeing many more allergies this year than usual.

The following photograph was during a rest period after a romp in the park.  It's difficult to know whether she is smiling because she is happy or whether it is more of a sun grin.

Lucy grinning in the bright sun

 The following is a genuine grin.  I had just asked if she wanted a cookie and snapped this before she could get up.  We call all treats "cookies."

 Oh, yes please.  I'd love to have a cookie

To those of you who are losing your summer birds, we thank you for sending them to us.  The migration has begun once more and we truly welcome the visitors who spend a week or so with us before heading to parts further south.

I do hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I'm not watching much television at all, although I did stay up late Wednesday night watching the Charlotte protests and then the rioting.  So sad to see.  And I don't want to hear one more prediction about what the Presidential debate might be like.  I won't even be watching.  I'll wait for Samantha Bee to fill me in afterwards.  And thank goodness John Oliver is back from his break.

I actually heard a woman tell a reporter, "Well it's time to shake things up.  Maybe we do need to put a bull in the china shop."  Silly woman...not good for the bull and certainly not good for the china shop.

Today's quote is actually a poem by Gaby Compr├ęs.  It makes me feel good every time I read it.

There are stars you haven’t seen and loves you haven’t loved
There’s light you haven’t felt and sunrises yet to dawn
There are dreams you haven’t dreamt
And days you haven’t lived and nights you won’t forget
And flowers yet to grow
And there is more to you that you have yet to know.




Monday, September 19, 2016

Hint of Color

It's beginning to look and feel more like Autumn in the mountains.  We love to drive to the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) where the color first appears around here.

I took this photograph for the clouds, not the color

 Spots of color give a hint of the beauty to come

 The wildflowers and shrubs add to the color

 And the clouds again.  Almost like a huge contrail

Just mention the words, "possible flurries" during the winter in the south and people run to the grocery store.  In no time at all the bread and milk are sold out.

Likewise, mention the words, "some gasoline shortages" and everyone drives to top off their tanks.  Immediately.  So it comes as no surprise that there is no gasoline anywhere in our county, and likely not in neighboring counties as well.  And by the time of this writing there may be none anywhere in North Carolina.  The Colonial Pipeline carries most of the gasoline delivered to the East Coast has a leak and spill in Alabama.  So warnings were issued that gasoline supplies might be reduced.  That statement created a self-fulfilling prophecy and the gasoline stations sold out completely by Sunday morning.

 Photograph from a mountain newspaper

Our governor (and other governors in the Southeast) has declared a state of emergency as the delivery interruptions might create huge problems for the school system and emergency services.

A diversion around the leak is in process and hopefully the gas deliveries will return to normal soon.  Meanwhile, there will be no casual driving on the BRP to see the colors unfolding.

Friday, September 16, 2016

We Love Lucy

Lucy had a much more difficult time in puppy kindergarten than our Ellie had.  Part of the reason was that she didn't seem to see the need to do what we were teaching.  She especially hated the "sit" command.  I've mentioned before that she had many questions about the command.  Oh, do you mean NOW?  How long must I sit?  Where?  Is this really necessary?  I don't see any reason for this.  You get the idea.  Finally she realized that we weren't going to stop our training until she did what we asked of her.  And that we would regularly reinforce the training for no good reason.  So she decided it might be in her best interest if she went along with it.  And generally speaking, Lucy will do whatever is in her best interest.

Note the "puppy" sit so typical of youngsters.
Even at this age Lucy did not like being told to sit and stay.
[Yes, she once had a Carolina blue collar like Ellie's]

Guess what?  She never did learn to sit like an adult.
She kept the puppy sit position even as an adult.
(And no, there is nothing wrong with her joints.)

She clearly does not like to sit and pose.
Her face and demeanor convey how she feels about this.

It's still much warmer than normal for this time of year but we are expecting some cooler weather soon.

I knew things had exceeded the normal wild and crazy I have come to expect when the first "news" I heard this morning was that DJT was going to announce whether or not he believes our President of eight years was truly born in America.  Like the pied piper leading the rats, he piped while the press and networks flocked to hear what he had to say.  I did not, could not, watch.  But I heard later that he did indeed state that he believes President Obama was born in America. Wow!  I'm glad that's settled.  But wait!  Say it isn't so.  The lead story on this evening's PBS Newshour was (ready for this?) about DJT and his big announcement.  So now I can't watch even Newshour.  Thank goodness Samantha Bee is back from hiatus to keep me informed.

I don't often quote the Holy Bible, at least not on this blog, but with all the rhetoric it might be a good idea for us to pay attention to the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

You need not be a "believer" to accept these words.  So think on these things.

 The moon is full once again.  I hope you have clear skies so you can enjoy it.



Monday, September 12, 2016

Last Broods

Daylight hours are getting shorter.  Leaves are dusky and some isolated ones are turning.  Apples and grapes are ripe and mornings are a bit cooler and crisp.  Yes, Autumn is coming.  And with it we are seeing the last broods of our birds.  There may be a few lingering late fledglings, but for the most part, the breeding season is over.

Our woods are full of birds as we are beginning to see some of the early migrating birds join our summer birds and year-'round birds.  Many of them have muted colors compared to their brilliance during the Spring migration.

This little Pileated Woodpecker (on the right) will soon be feeding herself.

 The little Red-bellied Woodpecker (left) has no red at all.
It blends in perfectly with the tree bark.

 In time, the gray head will get red.  As well as a bit of red on the lower belly.

Both of these birds stay with us all winter.  We will see them come to our suet feeders.  But we won't delight in seeing any fledglings for quite a while.  And that's all right.  We will appreciate them all the more when nesting season resumes.

Thank goodness for birds and football to take our minds off politics.  Although I have to mute the sound during football.  The announcers seem to think I care what they think about the flag and the National Anthem.  Jeez!  That very flag stands for our freedom; to salute or not salute, to pledge or not to pledge, to stand or not to stand.  Enough already.  (Yes, I know many of you disagree.  My own husband thinks it's an inappropriate way to make a point.  But if the media would simply leave the issue alone, it would become a non-issue very quickly.  Stop stoking the fire if you want it to die out.) 'bout them Packers?

Friday, September 9, 2016

We Love Lucy

It's September and we are once again plagued with much near-record high temperatures.  High school football games around here will begin with 87-degrees.  It surely doesn't seem like football weather.

We have so many things to worry about right now.  But our Lucy plugs along with few worries of her own.  One of her worries concerns anything unusual on the deck.  We have several sets of photographs of her looking intently out the window at the deck.  And standing in an anxious posture.

Looking out the window at dusk

 She remains focused

 And what has her attention for this long?  OK, sometimes it's a leaf twirled by the wind.  But more often it's a fallen bird.  And this time it's a hummingbird.  For reasons I will never understand, the hummingbirds spend more time fighting and defending the feeders than nourishing themselves for their long migration.  Like miniature helicopters, they twirl and twirl.  And every now and then they collide and one of them falls to the deck below.

Lucy stares at any fallen bird until it takes off again.  As if sending encouraging messages, she wags her tail each time the fallen birds moves.  She watches until the bird flies away, then settles herself back on the bed.  As if to say, "Well folks, I saved another one."

 The silly little hummingbird

North Korea has detonated yet another nuclear weapon underground.  A very frightening thing indeed given the evil and unstable nature of their leader.  Makes you think even more carefully about how to cast your vote in our upcoming election.

More and more pregnant women in the US and US territories are infected with the Zika virus, known to cause severe birth defects.  And what is our Congress doing about it?  Can't they, just this once introduce a bill that contains only the provisions about Zika funding?  Apparently not.  One party keeps adding amendments to a Zika funding bill that would de-fund Planned Parenthood and/or strip most of the Affordable Care Act, making passage of a bill less and less likely.  So our elected leaders are willing to put more and more women at risk, not to mention adding additional costs to our health care system.  Makes you think even more carefully about how to cast your vote in our upcoming election.

[BTW:  PLEASE contact your own Senators and Representatives, telling them you want a clean bill passed for Zika funding.  And asking them what specific measures they are taking to ensure passage of a Zika funding bill while they are in this short session.  You can find the contact information for Senators here or your Representative here.]

Our quote today comes from the late Russian painter, Elena Gorokhova whom seems to know a bit about American politics.

The rules are simple: they lie to us,
We know they're lying,
They know we know they're lying,
But they keep lying to us,
And we keep pretending to believe them.

So once again, I implore you to think even more carefully about how you will cast your vote.  Don't throw your vote away this very crucial time in our history.



Monday, September 5, 2016

We Honor Workers

It is Labor Day here in the US.  Labour Day in Canada.  It is a day in which we should honor all workers.  Already celebrated celebrated by many of the states, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894.  In the past, Labor Day was marked by parades and speeches, much like Independence Day.  Now the celebration of the holiday is more muted.  Perhaps we have forgotten just how workers were treated in the past with child labor, long hours and unsafe working conditions.

Today, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer almost as much as it marks a celebration of workers.  In the past almost all businesses were closed so their workers could celebrate the day.  Now many of them stay open on Labor Day hawking big sales and savings.  Labor Day heralds the official beginning of fall sports with the first seasonal NFL and many college football games beginning in earnest after Labor Day.

When I was a child, Labor Day meant putting away white shoes, hats and jackets until Easter.  And you wouldn't be caught wearing seersucker again until Spring, no matter how hot the September weather.  (Remember seersucker?  Well, look around next summer.  It's making a big comeback.  In fact, the Australian Olympic team wore seersucker jackets in the 2016 Rio Olympics.)

This Labor Day, stop for a moment and honor the past workers who led to the changes in the workplace that all of us enjoy.

Then go out and enjoy the picnic or outing.

I hope you have good weather in which to celebrate.

Friday, September 2, 2016

We Love Lucy

It's the start of a holiday weekend here in the US.  Labor Day is on Monday which heralds the unofficial end of summer.  We will note our appreciation for those who braved the horrid working conditions in the past and who work so hard to provide food and materials for us today.  Then we will feast on hot dogs.  I will share a secret...I LOVE HOT DOGS.  Since they are not at all nutritious I limit myself to one on Independence Day and another on Labor Day.  (All right, I also might eat one when our daughter visits and she and I go on our little jaunts through the mountains.)

Lucy, of course, does not recognize most holidays.  I'm sure she smells the turkey roasting on Thanksgiving and she certainly notices all the decorating at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but they don't make much difference to her.  She rather enjoys watching us putting out decorations, especially decorating the tree.  But otherwise holidays don't affect her.  There are two exceptions, Independence Day and Labor Day.  On those days the park she normally visits daily is taken over by folks celebrating the holidays.  So she doesn't get to go since she would not be able to run off lead.

My husband takes Lucy to the park very early in the mornings, especially during summers.  She loves the cooler air, and my husband loves the quiet.  On a recent visit, he took some photographs of Lucy during rest periods.  Lucy is eleven now but does not understand the aging process. (In fact, I think she believes this acting grown up thing is highly over-rated.)   Consequently she will not pace herself.  So after a period of sprinting, we make her sit.

She sits in the mossy/sandy area near the beach.

I love the long shadows contrasting with the bright sunlight.

There are many things to fear in this world of ours.  But we cannot let the fear-mongering spouted by some politicians affect our thinking.  They seem to think if they shout the unfounded fears loudly enough, people will begin to believe them.  Unfortunately they are right.  Many people are duped by the rhetoric, half-truths and down-right lies.  So it is fitting that today quotes are about fear.

The first is by the Greek philosopher Plato:

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.

The next one is from American author Neale Donald Walsch:

FEAR is an acronym in the English language for

Our thoughts go out to those affected by the Hurricane Hermine as she moves along the Atlantic coast.  And for the displaced everywhere.  And for those who live in danger and fear.

And especially this weekend, our thoughts go out to the laborers everywhere.