Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thomas F. Burke birdhouse display

A couple of Sundays ago, I caught a news piece on one of my favorite shows, CBS Sunday Morning. In it, they were reporting on a display of birdhouses created by former architect, Tom Burke. The display of 21 homes for the birds can be found along the Riverwalk in Wilmington, DE, the city where Mr. Burke resides. The path runs along the Christina River and because of the show, I made plans to go the following weekend when my friend, Reena, was coming to visit me.

We met at my house, then drove the short distance to Wilmington’s riverfront and had a fabulous lunch at Harry’s Seafood Grill before picking up the path that runs right in front of the restaurant.


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We saw the first birdhouse right next to the restaurant. Several of the birdhouses depict the homes in paintings by Andrew Wyeth. The one above is a replica of the Olson Farm, made famous in Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 painting, Christina’s World.



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Although it was unseasonably chilly, it was a beautiful day for a stroll.



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The Christina Riverwalk is short (1.3 miles) but pleasant pathway along the Christina River, between the Russell Peterson Wildlife Refuge and the end of S. Popular Street, just beyond Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park. The trail offers access to the Shipyard Shops and downtown Wilmington. It's nicely landscaped and passes through small parks where you can stop to sit on a bench along the river. Hare Pavilion overlooks the Christina River at the foot of Old West Street and is a nice gathering place.




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And what fun to see these houses.


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The path is beautifully landscaped.


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If you live in the area, I highly recommend this little trip.




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This is a replica of the clubhouse at Augusta National Golf Club, host of the annual Masters Tournament.




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There are several small parks along the way to rest your feet. And several restaurants from which to choose.



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This is another right outside Harry’s Seafood Grill.



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This one was made to look like Martha Stewart’s home in Beford, NY, even using her paint color – Bedford Gray.

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Here’s the video from the show. It’s not very long ~ and worth viewing after you get through the short commercial.

CBS Sunday Morning – Tom Burke birdhouses

Hope you enjoyed ~ I’ll be back when can. It’s been busy here at Casa de George.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013


Here I am, comfortably ensconced in my seat on the couch. I have my legs up on a pillow that’s on top of the coffee table and my laptop on top of a pillow on my lap. I let the cat out about five minutes ago and had just uploaded three photos into this post when suddenly, I heard the telltale sounds of said cat at the door.

She is putting her claws into the metal screening and pulling them out, back and forth, and it’s quite loud. Son of a gun, I had just let her out. That darn cat!


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We had a drenching rain come through and now the sun is shining. I took this photo last weekend, however. I’ve been exhausted when I come home from work and all I want to do is rest. This getting old business is for the birds, I tellya.

And so is this school year.


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    Someone is driving my husband crazy. My husband does not have the strength or stamina at the moment to properly care for George. Border Collies love activity, and it’s not like the dog is hyper or anything - he just likes to be kept busy in-between his doggie naps . . . and things have been quiet and kind of sad here. George is a sweet dog but he needs a job, and my husband doesn’t have it in him anymore to keep him employed as a fetch, stick, and frisbee-catcher-extraordinaire.

    It’s something I’ll need to address at some point soon. But I don’t want to think about it today. There’s too much else going on at the moment. So I think I’ll think about tomorrow. Cue score from Gone With the Wind.

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    I am glad for the 3-day weekend coming up and have plans to visit with a friend. I cleaned last weekend in preparation for her arrival and I feel as if I could it all over again. How does it get so messy?

    It’s been so damp lately. It’s getting me depressed.

    I’m into a sci-fi series on Netflix called Continuum. I love the lead character, Rachel Nichols, and stories in general about time travel. Too bad there’s only one season.

    Kiera Cameron is a police officer in 2077 swept along when a gang of condemned terrorists escapes their sentences by traveling back in time to 2012. Before she can travel back home to the future, Kiera has to stop the escapees from altering the past. ~Netflix

    Do tell . . . any big plans for the Memorial Weekend? Hope you enjoy!

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    Monday, May 20, 2013

    I can’t keep it to myself any longer: on the use of it’s and its

    Every time I see it, I cringe inwardly. And then I quickly get over it because there are bigger things in life, and besides – the misuse of it’s and its is such a common error. But there are people out there who don’t get over it so quickly, and it could be something as simple as your misuse of the English language that keeps them from returning to your blog. Oh, please. I’m exaggerating here, and at this point in my blogging ‘career’, I hardly give a whit if someone stops coming because of my poor grammar, but hopefully you get my point.

    It’s = it is

    It’s is a contraction of it is. It’s starting to bother me. [It is starting to bother me].

    Its = the possessive form of it.

    Its is an attributive adjective. The day has lost its splendor. (Its pertains to day).

    This is only for those of you who want to use the words properly. The rest of you heathens are on your own here.

    Ha! I said heathens!

    In grammarly love,

    (yes, I know it’s not a word)
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    Saturday, May 18, 2013

    Tears and fears and feeling proud

    It’s Saturday afternoon and the clouds have taken over but I don’t mind. They suit my mood and frankly, I think some rain would be lovely. I spent the day doing some badly-needed spring cleaning and have the sore muscles to prove it.  But at the moment, I am consoling myself with a cocktail and listening to some music as the pre-Preakness Stakes festivities air on our local television channel in Baltimore.

    Later in the afternoon, I went out and bought myself a hanging basket to cheer up the little back porch area. I’ll be working on that tomorrow, even if it rains. It’s a mess and I took a before photo for tomorrow’s post.

    While I was cleaning the upstairs foyer this morning, I could hear my son in his room practicing on his guitar. I usually mind the fact that I’m the only one cleaning, but he’d just come home from working all night and he was playing an old Joni Mitchell tune with his door open. He asked if I knew what it was. Is he kidding, I thought. I love Joni Mitchell, and I loved being somewhat serenaded as I wiped down the woodwork with cleanser.


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    I took this yesterday evening within moments of sitting down in my chair to relax and smiled wide after seeing it on the playback menu of my camera.  She is getting used to having me for company. I stayed out there for over an hour and only had far away sightings of the male. I can hear the babies in the nest when she brings them food.


    I heard these three tunes at different times today and two of them have something in common. I’ll give you a hint: they were on a soundtrack for a movie.


    And speaking of movies . . .


    . . .

    Last night, I watched a foreign film that came highly recommended by the head of our English department at school. Rust and Bone is the story of two lost souls who find strength in each other after the collapse of each of their personal lives. It’s not a happy movie, but it’s not entirely sad either. And I have a total girl crush now on Marion Cotillard. Actually, I’ve always liked her. But in this, she gives an absolutely stellar performance. There are subtitles. But subtitles usually don’t bother me.


    Rust and Bone is a dark romance, full of grit but also of hope and redemption. It’s a movie that is still with me. Although I recommend, I will say that it’s not for everyone.

    And with that, I’ll say farewell . . . until tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend. And remember, these are the good old days.

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    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    Thursday evening

    I am half-heartedly watching the finale of The Office. It’s never been my favorite TV show but I enjoy it now and then. I think it makes me too uncomfortable sometimes.  I fell in love with John Krasinski through this show, and he’s one of the the main reasons I’ll watch. The chemistry between him and Jenna Fischer is endearing, and when the show began in 2005, he was working as a waiter and she was a secretary. They’ve come a long way.

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    One of my co-workers bought another lens for his Nikon and he let me borrow it over the weekend. It’s the Nikon 18-300mm VR lens and all of the photos in this post were taken with it.

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    I love salad with lots of stuff in it.

    And Wasa bread on the side.

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    My hostas.

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    Kitty in the grass.

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    Bluebird and bokeh.

    I went outside after dinner and kept moving around until I found the right spot. I love the sparkles of light in the background. The longer I stayed out there, the more they began to fade with the light.

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    She is the only one who does this, I swear. I have never seen the male remove any baby mess from the nest. In fact, the male is always very persnickety about coming to the nest while I’m there. The female doesn’t seem too bothered with me, I guess because she knows that her babies need feeding.

    And somebody’s got to do it.

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    No more sparkly bokeh. But a pretty wing span.

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    Friday tomorrow. Yay! 

    And hey, as far as finales go, The Office has to be one of the better ones I've ever seen. It's sweet, and funny, and sentimental. But most of all, it's unique. As Andy Bernard (character) said tonight towards the end, "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them."

    Ain't that the truth.

    This video with John Krasinski and Jimmy Fallon is priceless. Watch if you have a few minutes.

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    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    On bluebirds and other matters

    Late Sunday afternoon, I poured a cocktail, grabbed my camera and the long lens, and took a camp chair down to the fence line to sit by one of the bluebird boxes where I’d seen some action going on.

    I wasn’t out there very long, so I didn’t capture much. With bluebirds, I’ve found that you need patience and a chunk of time. I had the former but was running out of light for the latter.

    Light for the latter. Ok. That sounds odd.

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    The female didn’t seem to have a problem with me sitting there. She continued to feed the babies inside the box after ascertaining that I wasn’t there to cause her grief. If it’s just a male you see bringing food to the box, it usually means that the babies aren’t born yet. The female will be inside, incubating the eggs.

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    She’s about to take off here, but I missed the wing shot by a nano-second. Drat!

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    Housekeeping here. As an aside, I have yet to see a male bluebird cleaning the nest although I have read that both parents share in this duty. This is a fecal sack that the female is removing from the nest.

    A fecal sac is a clean, tough mucous/gelatinous membrane/film containing the excrement of nestling birds. Nestlings usually excrete one sac after each feeding, especially as they get older. The parent grasps the sac by the middle with their beak.

    I do hope you are taking notes.

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    Next up on the menu is a live grasshopper.

    He was twitching.


    But everybody’s gotta eat.

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    George was hoping that I would throw his frisbee. But the birds won’t come when there’s too much movement in front of the nest.

    He looks sad about it, doesn’t he?

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    Ok, maybe not. Here, he’s lookin’ kinda hopeful.

    But it’s not happenin’, I tell him.

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    In other news, the crazy male cardinal continues to thwack the living room window at his reflection. I can hear him out there as I write this. School continues to be extraordinarily busy. My husband thanked me for the excellent meal tonight. I picked up a roaster chicken and a small tub of red-skinned potato salad from the local Acme, and microwaved some frozen asparagus spears. It was really good.

    Too bad there’s no trifle left for dessert . . .

    Until tomorrow then? You’ll come back, I hope.

    Because it’s always a pleasure having you visit.

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    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Good enough to eat

    It was a beautiful weekend and I enjoyed a peaceful Mother’s Day. I took a salad and a dessert to my in-laws house for brunch. I wanted the dessert to be special because it was my mother-in-law’s first Mother’s Day without her youngest son. It’s the holidays that are often the worst when you lose someone, isn’t it?

    I decided to make a trifle and made the entire dish from scratch using a recipe that I found on Pinterest. My mother-in-law asked me what alcohol I used for it and I said, “What? There’s supposed to be alcohol?!!” I had no idea. But I think everyone enjoyed the first-ever non-alcoholic trifle.

    I took a picture of it before we left for NJ.


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    Strawberry Holiday Trifle

    It was a bit time-consuming, but entirely worth it for a special occasion. The custard was surprisingly easy to make.


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    After brunch, we came home to Maryland and I tried to get some pictures of the bluebirds who have nests in nearly every box we have along the fence line.

    It was a good day.

    Until tomorrow, my friends ~

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    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Ode to Saturday

    It’s Saturday – glorious Saturday. And I couldn’t resist one more picture of the lilacs from this season. They’ve been finished for about two weeks now, but I can remember them just by visiting the folder where I keep their images.

    I was busy all morning running here and there. Later on, I’ll be putting together the fixings for a trifle I’m taking to my in-laws house for Mother’s Day brunch. I hope it’s not a travesty that a Yank like me is bringing trifle to tea at my British in-laws. Ha!


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    Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words.  They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning.  ~Lydia M. Child



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    I bought new pillows and put them on the couch I picked up last weekend from my niece in Baltimore. The room looks more cheerful now. Got them here:

    Pottery Barn pillows

    I wish someone would come and do my housekeeping for me, though.



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    Just because I felt like it.

    I like a landscape in black & white every now and then.

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    I am so looking forward to an entire week of Saturdays and just today booked a cottage in Maine for a week this summer. I am so relieved to have it done and we’ll actually be staying in the same place we did last year. They happened to have an opening the week before I wanted to go, which will work for me. Both of us have already begun to smile more throughout the day.

    Summerwood Cottage

    Happy Mother’s Day to those of you that celebrate this day. Hope your weekend is a good one. Until next time then . . .

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    Thursday, May 9, 2013

    The legend that is Vivian Maier

    I first heard of Vivian Maier a couple of years ago while watching the evening news, but it wasn’t until today when I came across a link on Facebook about a documentary coming out this year on her life and the discovery of her work that I really began to pay attention to the whole story.

    Vivian Maier could well be the most important street photographer of the 20th century. Yet it wasn’t until 2007 that her story began to unravel when an historical hobbyist named John Maloof purchased, at auction, an old box of negatives that had never been seen or developed. What John Maloof ended up with was over 100,000 negatives which the auction house had told him had been abandoned in a storage locker in Chicago.


    January, 1953, New York, NY

    It quickly became clear that these stunning snippets of life from the 1950’s and 1960’s were not your run-of-the-mill images. So John began digging into the story further and within a few years, the art world had been turned on its ear.


    Untitled, 1956

    This amazingly talented photographer, who called herself a sort-of-spy, was able to capture the most wonderfully candid shots of people of all walks of life. She would probably be appalled at all the fuss that her photography is receiving now, as she was an intensely private woman, who in her adult life worked on and off as a nanny in both New York and Chicago for 40 years.



    September 10th, 1955, New York City

    On her days off, she would walk the streets with her Rollieflex camera taking pictures of anything and everything that she found interesting.


    End of April, 1953, New York, NY

    January, 1953, New York, NY

    Undated, New York, NY

    Untitled, Undated

    I cannot wait for this documentary to come out.


    Untitled, Self Portrait

    You can read the story here:

    Found at Auction: The Unseen Photographs of a Legend that Never Was


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    Images are thanks to John Maloof’s Vivian Maier collection.