Thursday, February 28, 2013

Weekly Pinterest finds

I don't spend an inordinate amount of time on Pinterest, but I do have a nice collection of boards that I visit from time to time. I use some of the boards to keep ideas for recipes, some are for inspiration, and some are just to look at the beautiful pictures. This week, when I was on Pinterest, I came across a border collie picture and then realized it was George. Someone had pinned it from my blog. And it was being re-pinned.

Here's some beauties for you this week ~

I have a big collection of birds, which shouldn't surprise you.

Source: via George on Pinterest

And then there's this:

This is one of my own on Pinterest. Back in 2010, I was playing around with some textures from Florabella after we'd come home from a vacation to Maine. This texture is called 'Little Blue Book' and I put this image together and wrote about it here:

And now a word from the dog

Hope you enjoyed the pretty spring colors. It's coming . . . I can feel it sometimes.

Thanks for stopping by ~


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I guess it all adds up to joy in the end

I’ve been sitting here wondering how to start this post. So far, I have erased half a dozen paragraphs and this could very well be the next to get the ax. The thing is that I really don’t have much to say but I do want to share a couple of pictures with you.


This was our sky this morning.


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The colors were absolutely exquisite, as you can see.

I came downstairs to get my blessed cup of coffee and saw this beautiful glow from the eastern windows of this old manor house. I was running a little late as I reached for my camera, making sure the memory card was in and not having time to change the lens. This was taken with my bird lens (which is what I call my 70-300mm) and is SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera).


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I love that so many of you wrote to say that the hawk and woodpecker story was actually interesting. And I’m here to tell you that – and this is no lie – the exact same thing happened again on Sunday.

As you remember, the sharp-shinned hawk showed up and all the birds scattered, except for the few remaining in the bush and a hapless woodpecker who was clinging to the side of a post for a full half hour while the hawk looked on from above.


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He came back again on Sunday.

And he perched at the top of the dogwood tree.


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He has quite the view from up here, but he can’t see the little woodpecker on the other side of the post that sits halfway between the house and the dogwood tree.

The hawk didn’t stay for long this time. And we could see from the window that the little woodpecker remained very very still.


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That hawk flew away after only a few moments, but this woodpecker must have been in shock because he was still in this same spot 20 minutes later when I took this photo. I didn’t want to spook him so I went back inside.

I find bird behavior very interesting sometimes.

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Heard this on the radio today, and liked it. It’s a song by Josh Ritter and it will be available in about a week on a new album called The Beast In Its Tracks.

Is it old-fashioned to call them albums anymore?

I think yes, it probably is.



i guess it all adds up
to joy to the end


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Until next time, my friends ~

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

George squared

Oh, my. There sure was some beautiful light in the yard this afternoon. The birds weren’t cooperating so I turned my lens into the sun where George sat. In fact, I shot most of these almost into the sun. Because, mama, that’s where the fun is. (name that song)


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He sits.



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He stares.



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He sleeps.



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Sometimes, it really is.



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Tail swoosh.



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Loves frisbee.



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* smiles *



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I threw the frisbee toward the southwest and got perfect contrast.



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And I got the hearts {here}.


I <3 this dog.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sharp-shinned hawk and other matters

I’ve had an interesting week, I must say. In researching a new academic reporting / transcript program for our school, I got to talk to a lovely person who is the registrar at Sidwell Friends School in DC (where Malia & Sasha Obama go). I’ve never had a more helpful conversation with anyone in the education business. She and I have similar duties and our schools are also similar, although theirs is twice the size. Her offer to be a go-to person if we chose the same system they use restored my faith in people and made me realize again that goes around comes around, and there is always reason to be kind to one another.

Last night was our school’s annual Trustees Dinner, a formal affair held at a very nice restaurant. The food was wonderful, and it’s just one of the ways that our trustees thank the faculty & staff for a job well done. Each year, new hires are asked to stand up at their seat and give a short introduction to themselves. The underlying theme this year was thankfulness for being able to teach. Let me rephrase that. Thankfulness for being able to teach without being a policeman in their classroom. For being able to teach children who are eager to learn. For having the opportunity to create their own lesson plans. One of our new hires ended up in tears at the end of her short speech.

It was a good evening.

I sat with our athletic director who is quite the sly fox. He waited until I had finished two glasses of wine and then asked me if I would come to school early this morning to print some certificates for him to take to the basketball league championship game later on. He’d forgotten to ask me to do them yesterday. And so I woke earlier than I would have liked and drove in the fog to our school. I didn’t mind at all, really. But I told him he owes me one. And when I came home, my husband told me excitedly that there was a hawk in the dogwood tree and could I please come take pictures.

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I shot this through the glass in the breakfast nook window, while standing on a chair. The lower glass is covered with wrap to keep out the cold but the windows in the upper level are free of wrap (although kind of dirty, if I must say). This is my favorite image of the group. I love how the feathers are blowing in the wind.

I admire birds of prey and I’m not sentimental enough to cry over what they catch. Good grief - everybody’s got to eat and I am not going to kick myself for having bird feeders.

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My husband told me a story of something that happened earlier this week with what he thinks is the same hawk. He said he was eating his lunch in the breakfast nook when suddenly, he saw a flash outside. It was the sharp-shinned hawk and it had perched in the dogwood tree just beyond the window. There happened to be a hairy woodpecker clinging to the suet feeder between the tree and the window but the hawk couldn’t see it because it was on the side that was hidden from the hawk. The woodpecker clung for a full half hour, being very very still until the hawk flew away.
Maybe you don’t find this sort of thing interesting. But I do.

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My husband opened the side door for me, very quietly and slowly, so I could slip outside to get these last couple of shots. The ones above and below were not taken through glass.
The hawk saw me, but he didn’t care. George was also outside, sitting under the tree.

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And then the hawk moved like lightning to swoop down on something that caught his eye. He missed his target, though, and continued his flight to the trees at the edge of the property.
And all was quiet. Which is what my day has been so far. Gray and quiet ~

Thanks for stopping by, my friends.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

To keep that palace of the soul serene

Today was dreary, cold, and rainy. Driving home, under the dark gray skies, all I could think of was a nice hot cup of tea.


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If you are cold, tea will warm you.  If you are too heated, it will cool you.  If you are depressed, it will cheer you.  If you are excited, it will calm you.  ~Gladstone, 1865


tea leaves
tea loves
loves tea
lives tea
leaves tea?
~Uniek Swain


Tea does our fancy aid,
Repress those vapours which the head invade
And keeps that palace of the soul serene.
~Edmund Waller, "Of Tea"


The cup I enjoyed today was earl grey with jasmine and it was all that was left at the bottom of the canister. I love this blend and it looks like I’ll be making a trip to the tea shop this weekend. Earl grey is lovely in and of itself, but combining it with jasmine makes it softer, more subtle, more beautiful.


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I took some photos yesterday while sitting in the sunshine.

I picked up some new bird seed to try thinking that our visitors could use a different treat. It had chunks of fruit in it.



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The tufted titmouse fell in love with it.



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The cardinals wanted to come down and try it but what they’re really going to do is wait until I leave before venturing closer.

You have to be patient with the cardinals.



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Not so the little chickadees.

I’ve seen photos where they eat out of someone’s hand.

Candis Sabean


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Leftovers for dinner tonight. Hot and satisfying bangers & mash.

I don’t like my salad when it’s too cold.

So I stick it in the micro for 10 seconds.

Smash is on tonight.

And yes, I said I stick my salad in the microwave sometimes.

* snort *

Hope your week goes well, all ~

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

On the page, I’m perfectly charming

It’s been a lazy weekend so far and I feel like I should re-organize my closets tomorrow just to make up for it. It was terribly cold today and with the wind chill factor, it felt about 10 degrees. The sun was constantly going behind clouds but each time it made an appearance, I felt like cheering.

And speaking of cheering, that’s what these tulips are doing for me on this winter’s day. I’d always known the trick with the penny in the tulip water (makes them stand up straight for longer) but I never knew the one with hydrangeas until now. I had come downstairs this morning to find two of the stems completely wilted and the other looking like it was thinking about keeling over. I googled the solution: Boil a cup of water, cut the bottoms of the stems and put them into the boiled water for 30 seconds. Then plunge stems into a vase of fresh room temperature water. It took all afternoon, but by golly – it seems to have worked. (And in case you’re wondering – no I didn’t take pictures).

But I do have pictures of the cool vase that the tulips are in.



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Please excuse the pizza boxes. They were our gourmet dinner last night.

The vase looks to be clay that has had a stencil applied to it while wet, then dried and glazed with a white wash that’s been brushed off the raised areas. I found it at a farm market gift shop that always has cool unique decorative items for sale.


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It’s pretty, isn’t it?



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And we can’t forget the pink countertops.

It’s been nearly 4 1/2 years since we’ve moved here and I’m totally used to them.



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Guernsey-coverI’ve just finished re-reading one of my favorite books: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. You know the feeling you get when a really good book is getting to the end and you don’t want it to stop? You want to keep hearing about the characters because you’ve pretty much fallen in love with them. This is how I feel this evening. My book is over.

The story takes place in the time immediately following WWII and centers around Juliet Ashton, a published author. One day, she receives a letter from a man introducing himself as Dawsey Adams, a resident of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. He’s written her because he’s found a book that he loves and it used to belong to her. Her name and address are written on the inside. He asks a favor: does she know where he can find more books by this author? The author, he says, made him laugh, and reminded him of something that happened during the German Occupation on the island. He tells her about a Literary Society and how it came to be a lifeline after its rather odd inception. Through letters back and forth between both him and then eventually the entire society, the writer begins to fall in love with the island. Through stories she learns from each of them in their letters, she begins to piece together not just a topic and characters that she becomes passionate about, but her life as well when she decides to come to the island and meet all of them.

It’s a story with an underlying theme of hope, and it’s one that is told quite uniquely, through beautifully-written letters. There are surprises along the way and on sunny days, a sparkling sea that shines throughout.

As the mail boat lurched into the harbor, I saw St. Peter Port rising up from the sea on terraces, with a church on the top like a cake decoration, and I realized that my heart was galloping. As much as I tried to persuade myself that it was the thrill of the scenery, I knew better. All those people I’ve come to know and even love a little, waiting to see ~ me. And I, without any paper to hide behind. Sidney, in these past two or three years, I have become better at writing than living – and think what you do to my writing. On the page, I’m perfectly charming, but that’s just a trick I learned. It has nothing to do with me. At least, that’s what I was thinking as the mail boat came toward the pier.

~ Letter to Sidney Stark from Juliet Ashton, 22nd May, 1946

Highly recommend.

Until tomorrow, then ~

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hydrangeas and tulips

It’s late afternoon on a dreary Saturday that earlier held the promise of snow. It has turned into a lovely day to read a book which is a better way of saying that the sky is a dreary and dull gray. It’s all how you perceive things.

This morning I picked up my beloved Miele vacuum from the repair shop where it had gone for a 2-week spa treatment while I pined for its return. I hope you know that I’m really stretching the truth here, but I will admit that my sisters are always making fun of me and my vacuum love. While I was in Wilmington, I decided to visit the Trader Joe’s again where I picked up some lovely flowers to cheer me up on this snowless Saturday.

And I have a three-day weekend, which only adds to the cheer.

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I placed the tulips in a cool vase by my kitchen sink.

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And the hydrangeas in the dining room window.

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One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese Proverb

The book I am reading is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, one of my favorites and one that I thought I had lost. And then I heard from one of my sisters who told me that I’d lent it to her a couple of years ago and after she’d read it, forgot to return it. Luckily, she didn’t return it to me because the one I am reading came in the mail yesterday from (surprise of all surprises) one of my readers.

Andi, I can’t thank you enough.

The book is written as a series of letters just after WWII and centers on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel which was occupied by the Germans during the war. Residents had no news for five years of the outside world and the stories that play out are so interesting.

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Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.  ~Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858

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As I write this sentence, I glance out the window and find to my utter surprise that it has begun to snow. Oh, I hope it keeps up at least enough to turn my world white for awhile.

Enjoy your weekend, folks. Hope you like my flowers.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dreamy. And a little history.

What a difference a few days make ~ things seem more on an even keel and not so out of control which is pleasant.

Last night, because Smash didn’t air (the State of the Union Address was on), I worked on some photos I had taken at Christmastime in New York. By the way, if anyone knows where I can catch last night’s episode of Smash, please do say. I can’t find anything reliable online.

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I was going for dreamy.

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You can see almost all of Central Park here.

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I love this blur, and I think this image is my favorite. 

I love the pink tones, too.

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Feelin’ groovy.

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This is The Dakota. Located at the corner of W 72nd St. and Central Park West, it’s probably one of the city’s most exclusive buildings. According to legend, The Dakota got its name because at the time that it was built (1880-1884), the Upper West Side of Manhattan was kind of like a no man’s land. It was very sparsely populated and “as remote as the Dakota territory”. It’s more probable that it was named because of its then owner, Edward Clark’s, fondness for the names of what was then the new western territories and states. I guess he just liked the name Dakota. A figure of a Dakota Indian stands guard high atop the 72nd Street entrance.

As an aside, Edward Clark was the head of the Singer Sewing Company and his apartment here boasted floors inlaid with sterling silver.


An historic photo taken in the late 1800’s on the frozen lake, showing The Dakota in the background. I’m not sure what the building on the left could be. Daryl?


And here’s an aerial photo of it in the snow, taken from behind it and looking toward Central Park. The building has its own in-house power plant with boilers powerful enough to heat several nearby blocks.

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And that, my friends, concludes our lesson for today.

Until tomorrow, then?

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