Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Random photos from Archives

Every now and again I thought I would pick a photo from my archives. This is a favorite of niece Megan being taken on a ride at the farm of one of father-in-law's sisters in North Dakota. We were there for a family reunion back in the summer of 2002. I may have even shared this before during the lifetime of this blog.

Megan is on the four-wheel drive with two second cousins, there is a dog running just ahead of them, a wagon-wheel mailbox and a stop sign that says, "Whoa!" Did I tell you how much I love North Dakota, not only the State but the people I met there? One of these days I hope to go back for another reunion.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A poem about trees and another about Jalapenos, along with a ramble.

Very Tall Trees
Laura J. Bobrow

One day I stood under a very tall tree.
The leaves were so high I could hardly see them,
And I'm certain the leaves couldn't see me.
"Well," I thought, "I'd like to be higher."
So I went and got the wheelbarrow,
A rickety old box and a rubber tire.
It took a lot of thinking to get them arranged just right,
And they almost reached to the very first branch....but not quite.
So then I got a telephone book, the watering can and chair.
And when they were altogether, I said to myself, "There."
I said to myself, with one foot in the barrow.
"I'll just climb up this tree and go visit a sparrow."
There's no trick to balancing on a rickety old box
If you know how to rick when the rickety box rocks.

"If mother could see me", I thought on this tire,
"Why where on earth are you going?" she'd inquire.
And I practiced my very most I-Don't-Care looks
As I stood on one hand on the telephone book.
But then when I got to the watering can,
It wasn't as easy as when I began.
I had one foot on the handle, and one on the spout,
And I wasn't afraid, I was looking about.
I waved to the birds. I breathed some air,
And I could have made it up onto the chair,
When along came the breeze,
Which tickled my knees,
And I started to sneeze
And kerplunk! I fell down as nice as you please.

Which is what is the matter with very tall trees.

The Cardinal thinks humans should grow wings.


The first photo was taken at Meadowlark Gardens, the second is of our son Brad many years ago when we were with my family in England. I have shared this photo before and decided to revisit it for this poem. The third one of the Cardinal was taken when he settled on a branch out back.

Gregg and I ran errands on Saturday and during the evening we were invited to attend the surprise going-away party of that little boy in the tree, now 31 years old, as he is getting a promotion and leaving his present place of work. All his friends and colleagues decided to throw him a party at one of his favorite restaurants. The party didn't start until around 9.30 p.m., the guest of honor didn't arrive until ten. It was fun chatting to all the people we see on Facebook after Brad has posted photos of their out-of-hours get-togethers. We felt like we already knew everyone and have met several at Lisa and Brad's wedding. Lisa used to work there also, and that's how she and Brad originally met.

The restaurant stays open all night and the party went on into the wee hours but we left around 11.30 having had a wonderful time chatting with everyone. Such nice, nice people and they are very much like a family. It was super to see how our son and daughter-in-law had such a close bond with the people they had worked with. I'll have a photo to share in the next day or so.

I made the mistake of drinking two or three cups of coffee and did not sleep very well. Sunday morning I couldn't jump out of bed very quickly, still feeling very much in the land of fog. Gregg, who spent many years in his navy days being used to the constant rumblings and the hum of engines on ships, and at one point slept under the deck where jets were continuously landing on the carrier, can sleep on a line-post. He got up after a good night's sleep and a short while later surprised me with breakfast in bed bless him, serving up a few slices of previously cooked steak that he had sau·téed with the eggs, left-over asparagus from lunch a couple of days ago which I had forgotten about, along with toast and topped off with a glass of orange juice. I told him he is getting to be quite a good chef as he is a great experimenter in the kitchen when he has the time.

We drove over to Lisa and Brad's to drop something off a couple of hours later, had a quick chat with them before going our separate ways. We talked about the party. Son will no longer be working with his friends, but thankfully they have both formed lasting friendships.

For dinner Sunday evening I thought I would make a couple of dishes to go along with the Grilled Chicken Fajitas, which I never got round to preparing because of the silly thing I did. One word, "Jalapenos!" Holy moly, wish I hadn't! Only because I joined the ranks of people who didn't wear gloves while seeding the darned things, thinking a jolly good hand-washing would suffice. Don't believe it, use rubber gloves! In my defense I can't remember ever making anything with jalapenos before. We jokingly said - sort of - we might suggest to the supermarket produce manager that he hang a warning notice in very large letters over his ruddy hot peppers.

To give you a quick clue what went on, realizing I got off pretty lucky after later reading about other people's experiences - and we were finally seeing the funny side of things, probably out of sheer relief - Gregg came up with this poem. The two dishes were Pico de Gallo and Guacamole. Simple ingredients and easy to put together you would think, but read Gregg's poem.

Denise: "Peppers, eyes!"

"But I washed my hands FOUR TIMES!!!

"Think how horrible if I had not.

Weird feeling, eyes burning,

Hot spots on forehead.

Eyes on fire!"

Yes I was breathing a sigh of relief after I had spent half an hour dunking my head under water in the bathroom sink, doing a pretty good impression of a snorkeler. I basically had a delayed reaction from cutting up and removing the seeds of two jalapeños. I thought I had taken all precautions. After each time I touched the hot peppers I washed my hands in hot soapy water, and I did this four times. I had already told Gregg all about the dangers of touching eyes after using hot peppers, especially the seeds. About half an hour after our meal I was yawning my head off, I sat down thinking it had all turned out lovely, and without thinking and such a classic no-no, I rubbed my eyes. Who knew? After I had snorkeled my way through that sink full of water, and after drying my very wet head, strange heat sensations that I've most definitely never experienced before crossed my furrowed brow. I also noticed that my fingertips were a bit numb and were feeling the same kind of strange heat. What the heck!

I really did get off lucky because I went on the Internet and found that I was not alone. Amazing how many people out there have had the same thing happen to them. First of all if it had been as bad as some of these poor people had to deal with, I would have called the doctor, a walk-in clinic or as a last resort gone to the ER, but I found it interesting. You can click here to read one very long thread from Great Britain, and click here where one lady had a nasty experience and gives some advice.

Now, after all this, would it stop me from using jalapeños again? Probably not but I certainly would take every precaution, like using those rubber gloves -that seems to be at the top of the common sense list. The result of the two dishes, the Guacamole and the Pico de Gallo, they were excellent and I will post them sometime, that is if anyone is brave enough to make them. It was actually the Pico de Gallo that I ran into trouble with. Tomorrow I will make the Grilled Chicken Fajitas that didn't make it to the table, because I was otherwise engaged diving into the bathroom sink. Plenty of left-overs from both dishes today.

Picture this, an image of Gregg and myself wearing Industrial Strength Welders masks and gloves while eating dinner tomorrow. Maybe I can get him to write another poem?

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I don't have all the names to these flowers but I identify those that I know.

Rose by any other name.....

Purple Meadow Rue
Thalictrum Dasycarpum
(origin Taiwan, China, Midwest US, Ontario and Arizona)

I had previously misidentified this as Common Thyme, but thanks to Pat over at Pat and Jerry's blog, and much to my surprise, she identified it correctly as Lavender.

I had found the Thyme marker at the bottom of this plant and automatically identified it as such. There was no scent of lavender that I have in my bar soap or oils that I use at home. Lavender is one of my favorite scents and I love looking at the plant at our local nurseries, but I have obviously never seen it in full bloom, thinking those thin stalks of lavender were their tiny flowers.

That's what I enjoy so much about this meme, I am always learning and there are so many of you out there who are only to willing to help me along. Please don't stop, I welcome the corrections. It's the only way I learn.

Steve from Out on the Prairie blog identified the above as a Water Horehound, a plant with a square stem and is part of the mint family. Thanks Steve.



Stephany at Foggy Mountain blog told me this was a Dianthis. Thanks so much Stephany.

TODAY’S FLOWER’S was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli Jr.
The link to will be opening later on today.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Brief History of the English Language

I found this interesting learning a little bit more about the land of my birth. I discovered the article while reading the George Mason Students' Magazine, and have added it word for word.

A Brief History of the English Language.

If you had decided to come to Britain in the year 450 to improve your English, you would have totally wasted your money.

Firstly, you would have had a hard time finding anyone. The population of Britain at this time was a little over 400,000, The people were isolated in settlements and between them were huge dense expanses of forest populated by wolves, bears, beavers and wild boar.

Secondly, if you did find anyone to talk to you, you would only be able to recognize a very small number of the words we know today. The language you would be listening to was mainly Celtic.

'The Celts' was the name given to the isolated populations of people then living in Britain. They were descended from the ancient Iron-Age hunters who walked across the land bridge from France thousands of years before. Over the centuries the language had become fragmented and specific to the individual populations, with the result that there was no simple unifying language spoken by everyone.

Life in Britain was soon to change forever. Across the channel our green and pleasant island was being greedily viewed as a highly desirable living space and shopping centre.

The first invaders came from Jutland, in the northern part of Denmark. They landed in the south-east and settled in what are now the counties of Kent and Hampshire. The Angles soon followed from the south of the Danish peninsula, and entered Britain along the east coast. They settled in Northumberland and East Anglia. Not being happy at being left behind and missing out on all the fun, the Saxons and Frisians decided to follow their continental cousins across from Germany, and from 477 settled in various parts of southern and south-eastern Britain. We still refer to these parts of England as Essex, Wessex, Sussex and Middlesex.

The invaders called the Celts 'wealas' (foreigners) from which we get the name 'Welsh'. The famous British friendliness and hospitality had not yet been born, so the Celts couldn't be bothered to be polite; they ended up calling the invaders 'Saxons' regardless of their origins.

Over the next two hundred years the population of Britain either migrated to Devon and Cornwall, crossed the sea to Ireland and the Isle of Man, or to Brittany in France, or integrated with the visitors to create a group of people known as the 'Angli'. To this day there are similarities between the Cornish, Breton and Gailic languages.

Only a handful of Celtic words have survived to modern times.


crag deep valley

torr peak

brock badger

dunn grey

eccles church (as in the town of Ecclestone)

caer fortified place (as in the city of Carlisle)

penn hilltop (as in the town of Pendle)

There are also a few Celtic-based river names:

Thames, Avon, Exe, Usk and Wye.

Added note: as it usually does when I come across anything I find interesting, I go on a google search to learn a little more and came across another article that was very similar. A small part of it states:

"Old English (500-1100 AD)

West Germanic invaders from Jutland and southern Denmark: the Angles (whose name is the source of the words England and English), Saxons and Jutes, began populating the British Isles in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. They spoke a mutually intelligible language, similar to modern Frisian - the language Northeastern region of the Netherlands - that is called Old English. Four major dialects of Old English emerged, Northumbrian in the north of England, Mercian in the Midlands, West Saxon in the south and west and Kentish in the Southeast.

These invaders pushed the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants out of what is now England into Scotland, Cornwall and Ireland, leaving behind a few Celtic words. These Celtic languages survive today in Gaelic languages of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Cornish, unfortunately, is now a dead language. (The last native Cornish speaker, Dolly Penreath, died in 1777 in the town of Mousehole, Cornwall.)

A very interesting article. You can find that here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Red-winged Blackbird

Many of you will recognize this as a Red-winged Blackbird. I saw him at Meadowlark Gardens a couple of weeks' ago. I can't remember the first time I saw one but it was at Huntley Meadows and I was mesmerized by those red epaulets with a touch of yellow. I had a few stop by my bird feeders a few weeks ago, the first time in our garden but they haven't been back since. If you click here it will take you to a page where you can see clearer pictures and learn more about them, and also hear their bird call. I didn't think I would ever learn any kind of bird call at one time, but I heard his before I actually saw him and I knew what it was immediately. I guess it all sinks in eventually.

At the moment I am enjoying several bird calls as I have the patio door open and they are talking to each other. So relaxing to hear them chatter.

The sun is shining and the weatherman said it was going to get up to 90 degrees today. It is 72 as I type at 8.05 a.m. There is a tree out back and its branches overhang our deck a considerable way. We were asked if we would like to have them trimmed but both Gregg and I love looking at them and it gives you a feeling of being in the middle of a wood. It's also a great place for birds to hang out. I suppose once the branches start hitting the house then we will have to have something done, but not now.

Gregg left this morning after I had fixed him pancakes for breakfast. He said he thinks he might be getting home earlier today. We were both awake at around five. I'm still a wee bit tired but am heading for the coffee pot, and I think I may pick up my book for a while before I start the day. I am reading "Losing Ground" by Catherine Aird. It is about a Detective Inspector solving crimes in in a small town in England. The author is new to me and I have only read about a dozen pages but it promises be a very interesting read.

Okay, off to the coffee pot I go.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


A collection of Peonies

A. B. Franklin

Madame Emily Debantine

Coral Surpeme

Coral'n Gold Fay

Golden Glow

Red Charm

TODAY’S FLOWER’S was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli Jr.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Canada Goose Family

Canada Geese mate the second year and are monogamous throughout their lives, but if a mate is lost, the remaining goose will find another mate. They breed earlier in the season than most birds. The goslings usually hatch when the plants are at their highest nutritional value. Those residing in temperate climates begin nesting as soon as the conditions are favorable. Those nesting further north start in late April or early May.

Most nest sites are located near water. The sites chosen offer protection from the wind while still giving the female a clear line of sight. The nest is usually built in a depression on the ground and lined with soft grass and feathers.

A clutch usually consists of 4 to 8 eggs. Both parents assume responsibility for protecting the nest and incubating the eggs, but the female spends more time incubating the eggs. She will leave the nest long enough to feed and bathe before returning to her brood. During the incubation phase (25 to 28 days), the adults molt, losing their flight feathers and cannot fly.

Newly hatched Canada Geese are covered with a yellow down.

The gosling's down gives way to feathers and usually fledge (fly) between 6 and 9 weeks of age. The family unit remains together until the spring migration.

Females always return to their place of origin, nesting close to where they hatched.

The family unit stays together with the female leading, goslings following along in a row with the gander bringing up the rear. This arrangement is often called a crèche. Both parents protect their young, becoming violent when necessary.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mr. Chipmunk paid me a visit.

Every now and again I get this little visitor on my back deck but it has been a while, maybe only the second time this year. He likes to scurry around picking up seed that has been dropped by the birds.

It is very hard to get photos of him because he moves like lightning. I've never seen an animal move so fast. He makes my eyes hurt trying to keep up with him. The photos are a little fuzzy because of it but I'm always glad to get anything.

You can click here if you want to learn a little more about them.

If you click here it will take you to a page telling you about the different types of Chipmunks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A quick stop at Walney Pond

Guess who?
Yes that's me. I took the photo with my cell phone and immediately sent it to Gregg who was at work in front of his computer. No I didn't send it to him to make him envious, I thought he would get a kick out of the fact that I was at Walney Pond . Normally we always go here together but this day was different.

I had to run a few quick errands and when I got up to our main road the traffic lights were not working, and two police officers were in position making sure we all got through safely. We always have a lot of traffic around here and one little hiccup causes a major traffic jam, so after I did my shopping and wanting to wait long enough for the lights to get fixed, I detoured to Walney Pond and decided to get some exercise while taking photos at the same time.

Walking around the pond I came across the basket with the fishing net. Presumably these were who they belonged to, a small class out on a nature trip with a teacher and a couple of moms in tow.

It had rained slightly that day and I loved the smell of the wet earth and vegetation. I find it almost intoxicating, and I am so glad I am able to get outside and enjoy one of my favorite spots.

It is only about ten minutes away from home and we get here as often as we can during the year.

We have a resident beaver but I think he was safely tucked inside his lodge as there was no sign of him.

I looked into the shallow section and saw a thousand tadpoles.

Some even had tiny legs starting to grow but you can't really see from these photos.

I felt it had been long enough to return home and start to fix dinner for Gregg. The skies were just gorgeous, and yes the traffic lights had been fixed and everyone was getting home okay. This photo was taken at another intersection about a mile away, and as you can see it was still pretty quiet here. For other posts about Walney Pond, click on the label below this post.

Right now I have the windows open and I am listening to the sound of the birds chirping. It's a little nippy, only 54 degrees F. but I love to feel the freshness in the air. It won't be long before it will be hot and humid and we'll be watching the fireflies outside.

We had an overnight guest, one of our nephews, Gregg's sister's youngest son who was in town to attend a discussion in the field he was interested getting a job in. Unfortunately we didn't get a photo. He arrived last night and we didn't want to bother him after a 200 mile journey, thought that we could get a photo this morning but it didn't happen. We'll have to wait until next time. It was great seeing him and being able to talk one-on-one, as we so rarely get to do that with him being away at school most of the year. It was a lot of fun enjoying his company.