Posts Tagged ‘spring’

My husband and I sat around our little outdoor firepit tonight, discussing gardening, weeding, and animals I counted at least 22 ducklings in the community pond this morning, and at least five mama ducks. One hen had one duckling. The hen I have been following still had nine (hers are the oldest, hatched Thursday of last week). Three pairs of Rufous-sided Towhees flitted around us, emboldened by the absence of dogs, perhaps. Never have we observed the elusive towhee behaving as boldly as tonight, the three pair!

The sun set, the sky darkened, and the first bat of the season flitted – briefly – overhead. A large bat, at least 8″ wingspan. We both have fond summer memories of bats diving in while we played out our last evening games, and horror stories of bats entangling in hair (my parents discouraged such hysteria). We both tossed rocks to bats in those dusky summer evenings to see if they would catch them: they always did.

Last night, as I took my husband on a tour of the front yard and the weeding/edging I had done on this first absolutely gorgeous Spring day in the Pacific Northwest, we nearly stepped on a small gray animal. It was deep in the moss and grass of the lawn, just a slight movement, followed by a naked pink half-tail. It was oblivious of us standing above it, watching. I forbade my husband from pulling it out by the tail just to see what it looked like: we both know what moles look like. It just wanted earthworms or crane fly grubs.

Burr hurr aye. (A la Brian Jacques and the Redwall series of books. Read them. They are magical.)

I have been in a funk since Christmas. I haven’t created anything new artistically. I haven’t written. I feel dead inside, creatively. My day job is just another place to go to, and make money, but not a place of passion or exciting change. I’ve felt “dead”.

I don’t know what I am going to do with this blog: keep it, practice writing, or… Family history, gardening, grandchildren? I feel as dull as the grey clouds that hover over the earth, promising only rain, and cold rain at that.

It is good to feel Spring is finally here, and that life might be awakening. I spent yesterday working with my hands in the loam, hoping to rekindle a little life in my heart.


The giant rhododendron on the north… And the broken rain barrel. 😦



The stark differnece between last year’s black-cap raspberry vines and this year’s canes. I need to cut out last year’s canes – nest year’s will go there in less that six months from now, and this year’s canes will be pruned out next spring.

I was going to move this ceramic “bird” house, but there’s a paper-wasp nest inside. I bought the bird house at a farmer’s market… love that the paper-wasps have taken over it. (Mud-daubers, paper wasps).

Finally, tonight we watched towhees – at least three pair – buzz about the yard, gathering sticks and nesting material. Rufous-sided towhees are elusive and secretive birds, more often heard than seen. To have three pair flitting about around us, unafraid, was amazing.

I do not know what I am going to do with my blog. Perhaps it had worn out its welcome and is a thing of the past, and I need to move on. But what if I do not record these seemingly mundane experiences? What if you never learn if the towhees nested and raised young, or the paper-wasps hatched, or the ducklings survived… Or the mole lived happily ever after because we are the gardeners who do not set mole traps or spray pesticides/herbicides?

I don’t know.

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I really want to go outside and put seeds and seedlings into the ground, but the fact remains that it is *only* the end of March and no matter how nice the weather is, the last official frost date is around April 15th here, and it is guaranteed to rain cats, dogs, frogs, fish, and buckets between now and the end of Rose Festival. It does not help my itchy green thumb that my peonies are sporting large buds on the verge of opening.

The last time I had peonies open in April was in 2003. I know this because I cut several blossoms and played Door-bell ditch with my closest neighbors on the first of May. It was my first May Day in this house and I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood and figured hand-delivered peony flowers would be a great ice breaker. (They were, I made friends, and I got my vases back – a bonus.)

I haven’t been able to cut peonies for May Day since because they haven’t bloomed before the first of May since.

I will probably plant pansies this coming weekend, and despite all my knowledge of last frost dates, I will probably plant sunflower seeds, too. If the sun stays out over the weekend, I will make a futile attempt to get ahead of the weeds (if my left arm holds out – I’m currently nursing a painful case of “tennis elbow”).

I have been unable to keep the hummingbird feeders filled. I counted four different birds at one of the unpopular feeders out back. I have no idea how many birds are draining the two out front, but I am replacing one of those every four to five days right now. Drained dry.

Summer is coming and I have opted to stay home this summer. I have a big family reunion in Colorado in June (one that was supposed to happen last summer but didn’t, due to a wedding). My reasons are complicated, but first – and foremost, I changed jobs and I won’t have enough time off to go this year. I’ll really miss seeing my elderly Aunts and that weighs heavy on my heart.

This is where being a long-distance grandmother is not fun and I understand what my mom must have gone through when I moved so far away. There is something to be said about living a lot closer to one’s relatives. I guess we make choices and mine was to live as far away and as independently as I could, so I shouldn’t be too surprised that my own children made the same choices. It’s in the blood.

I am loving my job. More specifically, I am loving the parttime. Yes, I love the new job, and I work with great people – no doubt about that. The part I was worried about when I accepted the position – that is is less than 40 hours a week – is turning out to be a huge bonus. I don’t come home stressed out. I have time to do things. I feel stress falling off of me like layers of dead skin. I’m three months into it and still finding it quite novel to have so much time left after work. I have a life!


I haven’t had a “life” for so long that I don’t know quite what to do with it. I’m even making social plans again, something I hid from before. I actually answer the phone when friends call. I go to lunch and dinner.

I have been writing more on my art blog about my life than on this blog.

I’m still bird watching, but I have not been taking photos. I need to grab the camera and go for a birding walk soon. Or just a photography walk. Harvey is getting to be a great companion on walks & is pretty patient when I want to stop and take photos.

Have I mentioned that I now have nine grandchildren? And I’m so young! Someone asked me “how did that happen?” and I told them (straight-faced), “I never had the birds-and-bees talk with my kids?”


I recently painted five of them. They were posed in a photo, looking out at the snow falling on the ground along the eastern U.S. I took that photo and juxtaposed a photo of our house during the snowstorm of 2009. My five grandbabies looking out the window at my house on the opposite coast of the continental USA.

It makes me happy.

Spring makes me happy, too.


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It was a beautiful day out today. The hope of spring was in the air – and better yet, the sun was out for a good part of the day!

No, I didn’t work in the garden. It was tempting, but I had other indoor plans for the day as I finish up the Faerie House I have been working on. No, it isn’t finished, but I am down to the final stages of gluing.

Things have been in upheaval in other areas of my life and I need to concentrate on the thing I always meant to make my career: art. I have let it go for so long that I feel like I am in high school again, just starting over. That is OK: Grandma Moses didn’t start to paint until she was in her 80’s. But once she learned, she painted with a vengeance.

So everything I am doing in my studio right now is practice. I’m brushing up on old skills, trying to remember how it felt to ride that bicycle of my youth. Then I will hone those skills. I am kind of excited for this new phase in my life, but the learning curve is a little intimidating! Ah well: press on.

I managed three things: I walked around the garden and noted all the hopeful changes. I worked in my studio. I shopped at Goodwill.


The Camellia is starting to bloom. The first three blossoms have been open for almost a week now, but others promise to open. The Anna’s Hummingbirds are probably in seventh heaven: just two weeks ago, I observed the female testing all the tightly closed buds on the Camellia, almost willing them to open for her.


The peonies are pushing up through the mulch!


My sole surviving Lenten Rose (Hellebore) is blooming! Usually, it is pouring rain through February and I never see the Lenten Rose in bloom (if ever it has bloomed before). I am sad that only one of the many I have planted has managed to survive, but – dang! It has one bud opening and another two to follow.


My salmon are swimming merrily along the fence… Usually, they are hidden behind my gladiolas, but in the winter they are laid bare to the world.


Actually, the only reason I snapped this photo is because I never realized before that I had so carefully placed the top salmon. The knot on the fence is perfect.


I am *this close* to being finished with the faerie house! Dill has revealed much more of his character to me.


He’s a Brownie and a thief. Once I glue everything in place and set the ground cover in place, I will blog about Dill on my other blog (the artsy one).


I played with pen & ink and water color crayon. I had no real plan for the drawing, hence the less-than-stellar background. All I really wanted to do was practice a little.

In the middle, there was the trip to Goodwill. Actually, I went out because I needed to purchase a “grappling hook” for Dill (a size 2 triple fish hook, available at the general store – BiMart). I spend an inordinate amount of time and money at BiMart: they are local, Northwest grown and a small business that often undersells the big box stores. You can get almost anything at BiMart, but you can’t get everything.

Without going into a huge commercial break there, our local Goodwill is in the same strip mall parking lot as BiMart, which is how I ended up at Goodwill today.


And I found these. Actually, there were a whole lot of decoys on display. I suspect some duck hunter grew old and died and his family tossed all of his floating mallards. But mixed in with the generic mallard decoys were these two treasures. Mourning doves.

I live in a friendly community. A white-haired woman had just handled the decoys and discarded them. I picked them up in her wake and said, out-loud, “Cool! Gone.”

She turned around and asked. “Are you going to put them out in your yard?”

“You bet!” Then I added, “My husband just rolls his eyes.”

“Mine does, too,” she replied. She was scouring for art projects, too.

But the greatest score had nothing to do with art. It was just something for $1.99 that tugged at my heart.


An 8×10″ black and white photo of an old Cocker Spaniel looking plaintively up at the camera lens. It looks a little like my childhood pet (well, Butchy was not “my” dog: he was the family pet and he adopted us. And he was not a Cocker Spaniel, but was a mutt of indeterminate origin with a lot of Cocker in him). Butch had the white on his chest and I guess that is the first thing I noticed about the photo.

But mostly, I noticed the dog’s eyes. He (or she) loved the person who was taking the photo. and the feeling was mutual, because the photo was enlarged to fill an 8×10″ plastic frame that someone kept on display in their home until another dog replaced this one or the person passed away and the family discarded the photo.

What’s a dog in the scheme of things, anyway? A pet no one living remembers. Nameless. Ageless. Just a dog.

That was a dog that was once a puppy that wormed its way into someone’s heart. Maybe it was a great hunting companion. Or just a good kids’ dog. Maybe it could chase a rock into a muddy river and stayed under water until it retrieved the *very same rock* that was thrown. Butchy did that, time and again. We were terrible children, testing his nose, over and over and over again: marking the rock and lobbing it into moving water and waiting.

He always returned with the rock we’d thrown.

Just for the record: I cried myself sick the day I learned Butchy died of a high-iron diet. Our parents hid it from us for a week. Butch died while we were at church and Dad took him to some remote place to bury him. I don’t think he ever intended to tell us the truth, but our mother caved in and confessed the brutal tale.

Butch always loved to chase cars. One bit him back.

So I bought the picture. Not because it’s worth anything or even that I need the cheap plastic frame. I bought it because it was was a dog that was important enough to someone to rate an 8×10″ photo. Just look at those eyes.

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