Saturday, October 26, 2019

Day Late

I usually post on Fridays but got caught up in household repairmen and let the blog slide.

When our son and his wife bought their house, they discovered a treat that first autumn.  Two large  Butternut trees in the yard attracted Common Grackles in huge numbers.  The birds covered the ground, breaking the outer covering to get at the nuts inside.  Many were also in the tree.  What a sight to behold!  (There is no specific name for a group of grackles although they often travel in large flocks.)  There are so many of them, their calls can be heard inside their house.  This leads some to call the group a cacophony of grackles.  They are so prevalent and bothersome in some areas they are called a plague of grackles.  They are irridescent in the sun and I think they are beautiful.

Photograph from Wikipedia

This year Violet got to experience the wonder of the massive number of birds.  She was mesmerized.  I don't think the photographs need any words.

Here in the mountains we are receiving the last gasp of the latest tropical storm from the gulf.  It is giving us high winds and heavy rains, stripping the colorful leaves from the trees.  Attendance at Halloweenfest (our largest festival) is likely to be small and few vendors will set up tents for their lovely arts and crafts.  What a shame for all concerned.

Today's quote comes from Rachel Carson:
"If a child is to keep the inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering within him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

I have several busy weeks ahead, so I will nor post for a couple of weeks.  Try to renew your sense od wonder in the world around you.


Friday, October 18, 2019

Fun and Logic

It's been a nice week here with much cooler weather and some much-needed rain.

On a sunny warm day, Violet and her daddy did some outdoor Halloween decorating.  She helped to carry some short logs to form a boundary.  Then her daddy placed the stones and concrete pieces.  Violet has no idea what "PET SEMATARY" means and she doesn't need to know.  What she does know is that she and her daddy had lots of fun working together on a projet that other people like.

Violet admires the results of their work

Like most nearly two-and-a-half-year olds, Violet has definite opinions about any number of things.  These opinions can lead to conflict which sometimes lead to pouting or even "meltdowns."  Early one chilly morning Violet and her daddy disagreed on whether or not it was all right for Violet to go outside to play while still in her jammies and without a coat.  She thought it was a good idea but her daddy disagreed.  On this occasion, Violet sat against the door and argued her position like an attorney in court.

"It's like this, Daddy..." 

And there are countless times when a toddler decides to comply with a request in his or her own way.  Her father wanted a video to show Violet counting to ten.  She usually pronounces each number well, even the often difficult "three."  While not technically refusing, Violet makes it clear she does not want to do this.  She popped a crouton in her mouth for good measure and then she counted to ten in a most disinterested way.

This week one of my heroes died.  He was a marvelous human being with a life well lived, even though it was done too soon.  So it is fitting that today's quote is from Elijah Cummings:

"Our children are the living messengers we send to a future we will never see.
Will we rob them of their destiny?
Will we rob them of their dreams?
NO!  We will not do that."



Friday, October 11, 2019

Sunshine and Rain

Almost from the time she could walk, Violet has been fascinated by her shadow.  Whenever the day is sunny, she will spend some time making certain that the shadow follows her every command.

There you are again, shadow.

Now, hold out your arm.

I can make you smaller if I wish.

Much as she loves the sun and shadows, Violet also loves rainy days.  She is old enough to go out and play in the warm rain and stomp in the puddles.  Bright colors are necessary on rainy days.  So it's green and black Darth Vader outfit, pink and white Wellies and a multi-colored flowery raincoat.

Let's go!

She has a happy-go-lucky disposition most of the time but she takes her chores very seriously.  A recent self-imposed chore is to pick up every acorn under the big oak trees at a nearby park.  She picks them up one at a time and rapidly runs over and hands each one to her daddy.  Fortunately she is not a hoarder and never asks what happened to all the acorns she picked up.  The goal seems to be ridding the park of acorns, not collecting them.

Here's another one, Daddy.  Quick!  Take it so I can run and pick up another one I saw.

Today's first quote is from Russian novelist and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky:
"The soul is healed by being with children."

And this from Khalil Gibran:
"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry;
The philosophy which does not laugh;
And the greatness which does not bow before children.

And for Vicki and all other grandparents, a quote from Alex Haley:
"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents so.
Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children."

Our Jewish friends have just completed the holy day of Yom Kippur.  We hope the Book of Life, opened on Rosh Hashanna has determined a wonderful fate for them before it sealed once again at the close of Yom Kippur.



Friday, October 4, 2019

Nice Break

I had a nice break, especially during our daughter's visit.  The weather was gorgeous although much warmer than usual for the mountains.  After one of the wettest summers on record, we are now near drought conditions.  But we take what we get.

As usual, our daughter and I spent a lot of time driving through the mountains.  We were a bit surprised to find the leaf color in the high mountains about the same as it is here.  That is to say, not much color except among the shrubs and the occasional tree.  The prognosticators have widely varying leaf prophecies.  At first most of them predicted an especially good year for intense color.  Most are now saying the color will be subdued and some are suggesting that the leaves will simply turn brown and fall.  A few good days of gentle rain and cooler weather would change that.

Near the 4,500-foot elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway

We were treated to the fall migration of one of our favorite visitors, the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  The males always arrive first and spend a week or so and then they leave shortly after the females arrive.  We do enjoy their visit, short-lived though it may be.

A male grosbeak looks right at me, perhaps seeing his reflection in the camera lens

The females arrived along with some of the first-year males.  While we are glad to see them, we know it means the more colorful males will soon leave our woods and continue on their journey.

Not as colorful, but beautiful nonetheless

The American Cardinals are permanent residents so they give us brilliant color all year.

I continue to feel pretty good and had a lot of fun with our daughter.  It is so wonderful to be able to drive, shop, eat at good restaurants and cook good meals again.  And I am thankful every day for being here and feeling so well.  That is always tempered with a bit of reality of ovarian cancer's nasty habit of returning.  I try to keep that on the back burne to bring forth only if/when required.

The first of today's quotes is from Marcus Aurelius and it is something I think about if the future turns more negative:
"Here is the rule to remember in the future:
When anything tempts you to be bitter:
Not "This is a misfortune":
But "To bear this worthily is good fortune."

The next quote is from the great Tecumseh.  It's a repeat but it is one that I think about every single day and it has a very deep and personal meaning for me:
"When you rise in the morning,
Give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself."

I'll leave you with a photograph I recently came across.  It's our beloved Golden Girls standing inside and looking through the screen at us.   They never understood why we would ever be in the yard, leaving them inside.

October 1st marked the end of the holy days of Rosh Hashanna so we wish a good year to our Jewish friends.  And to all of us.