Monday, April 30, 2012

Denise meets Daisy


On Sunday the weather was gorgeous, not too hot and a great temperature for a walk.  We decided to visit the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge in Lorton, Virginia and I will be sharing photos later when I get them organized.   There are lots of trails and we keep saying that we will have to explore them all, but our favorite is a boardwalk that takes you along the Occoquan Bay.  We saw Bald Eagles and Osprey and we were very happy about that but just as happy to meet Daisy, whom we met along the wooden path with her companion.

Daisy was a very sweet and friendly dog and you could tell just by looking at her that she wanted to say hello.  Her lady had stopped with her and was gently telling her to 'stay' so that we could pass by but Daisy was bubbling with happiness.  I could see all she wanted to do was say hello to everyone who passed by.  After I asked the nice lady if it was okay and would she mind if I petted her, I tickled Daisy's ears for a while and gave her a bit of a fuss. She was beside herself with joy.  I didn't realize Gregg had taken this photo until I got home and saw it on the computer.  I am so glad he did as it will be a nice memory of meeting Daisy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowers for Leontien


For you Leontien, with all my love and prayers.









Friday, April 27, 2012

Camera Critters

The Place I Want To Get Back To.....


is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness


and first light 
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me


they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting


on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;


and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way


I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers,
and then one of them leaned forward


and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed 
that brief moment?
For twenty years


I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can't be repeated.


If you want to talk about this
come to visit.  I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

~~~~~~~~

This beautiful poem is by Mary Oliver and Gregg and I have taken these photos over the last several years and have been shown before.  However, it's been a while and I am revisiting them for the poem I found today.

~~~~~~~~


Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.
To see other fun critters please click here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Another quote and a bit of a ramble....


I haven't been out to take any photos for a while and think I am going through withdrawal!  I need to take a mini road trip just for that, and am hoping this weekend the weather will be cooperative.   My butterfly picture, I can't even remember where I took it as by the time I worked on it in Paint Shop Pro, I forgot which folder I originally got it from.  It would take a while for me to find it I'm sure and I'm afraid I don't have the motivation right now, maybe later.  I wish I had kept the one in color as visually I prefer it but I also like the vintage look.  I love to read quotes as there is so much wisdom in many of them, and they are a good reminder when one needs reminding.  I collect them and start searching to match one up to a photograph when needed.

Since I last wrote I have had fun visits from family and friends.  Always great to get together with people I don't get to see all the time.  My son and his wife were over here last Sunday and Gregg and I can't get enough of listening to them.  I fixed breakfast and when Brad saw the English Bangers cooking, he gave me a big smile.  I get them from the British shop where I once worked.  A chap called Chris makes them and I can only say, thanks Chris, they really are the best I have ever tasted this side of the pond.  I still pop up to the shop every now and again.

I talked to my brother-in-law and niece on Skype this week, and now that we have a new modem the picture isn't pixelated any more, and no more cutting in an out.  It really got frustrating not being able to chat to them properly and now I can see them clearly and get ALL of the conversation, wonderful!    I got to talk to them two days in a row.  As they live in Germany you can imagine how much I miss them but isn't Skype fantastic for bringing us all closer together?  I have known my brother-in-law since I was thirteen years old and can still clearly remember when my sister brought him home for the first time and introduced him to our family.   I realized a long time ago, and I told my niece this in our conversation, that I thought of her Dad as more a brother than a brother-in-law.

I saw the movie Chimpanzee last Friday.  It was only shown in the theaters that one day.  I enjoyed it very much and thought the cinematography was excellent.  There are always a couple of things you could do without but I would not want to spoil it by naming them if anyone gets the chance to see for themselves - everyone's taste is different.  On the whole I am very glad I got to see it on the big screen and hopefully will be able to buy it on DVD eventually.   It's a true-life story of a little orphaned Chimp called Oscar.  I'm glad to say that all turns out well for Oscar, though that's as much as you'll get from me.

What is it with our weather lately?  I felt so chilly over the last couple of days or so, and decided to make a batch of beef stew.  It is on the stove top giving out the most wonderful aroma.  It's a hybrid of four or five different recipes, so I won't even bother posting it.  I am sure you have got your own delicious stew recipes.  I had a small sample.  I get worried when I throw things together and wondered if I had thrown too much black pepper into the pot.  The last time I threw pepper into the pot my mouth was on fire.  Gregg loved it but he likes very spicy food.  I like mine on the plainer side, don't mind a little heat though.  I needn't have worried, today seems to be the right amount.   I had most of the ingredients in the fridge and only had to go up to the store to get a few things.

Gregg and I went to the bookstore a couple of days ago.  He bought one of his business books and I bought a couple of magazines - Yellowstone Journal and Nature Photographer.  I also treated myself to three small poetry books, all written by Mary Oliver, my favorite poet of the moment.  And last but not least, yet another field guide of Birds of Virginia, like I need another book on birds but as far as I'm concerned, you can't have too many books on any kind of wildlife.

I also have several books on my Nook to read and have just finished one called Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon.  The author is an American lady who lives in Venice and I have enjoyed several of her murder mysteries involving Commissario Guido Brunetti.   I have lost count of how many I have read and will have to wait until her next one.   Her vivid descriptions of Venice - along with all the gorgeous photos I have seen over the years - puts you right into that city.  I hope I get to Italy one day.  Venice will be on the list.

My time for reading is usually at bedtime.  I never thought I would ever get used to an electronic reader, and I still love the feel of a paper book in my hands, but I love my Nook and take it everywhere with me.  I love that you can enlarge the print - yes I know - I love how you can read it with all the lights out, I love how you can look up words that you don't understand right there and then and hey, we're saving a tree.  Yes, I am finding more pros than cons these days except one definite con would be that I can't share with friends as readily as I used to, unless they themselves have a Nook.  Many of my friends have not made that cross-over and some may not, they are probably shaking their heads at me and I wouldn't blame them.  I also enjoy playing Scrabble on it, and checking out the Internet but I use it mostly for reading.  And did I mention that I love my Nook?

Ramble over with.


Monday, April 23, 2012

A poem....


What do we plant?
~Henry Abbey~


What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the ship which will cross the sea.
We plant the mast to carry the sails.
We plant the planks to withstand the gales,
The keel, the keelson, the beam, the knee.
We plant the ship when we plant the tree.


What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the houses for you and me.
We plant the rafters, the shingles, the floors.
We plant the studding, the lath, the doors,
The beams and siding, all parts that be.
We plant the house when we plant the tree.


What do we plant when we plant the tree?
A thousand things that we daily see.
We plant the spire that out-towers the crag.
We plant the staff for our country's flag.
We plant the shade from the hot sun free.
We plant all these when we plant the tree.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

TODAY'S FLOWERS # 201



I haven't photographed any flowers this week so with your indulgence I have found one from my archives.

~~~~~~~

Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli.
You can find beautiful flowers from around the world if you click here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Camera Critters

I took various photos this week.  This is a Carolina Wren singing away.  Pretty loud for such a little thing but such a joy to listen to.

Female House Finch if I'm not mistaken.

Grackle looking straight up.  Watching out for hawks maybe or wondering where its family is?

The Blue Jay is usually the first one to the table when food is put out.

Hard to tell but I think this was Mr. and Mrs. House Finch.  I liked their dark outline against the background of tree branches.

This pair of Goldfinches are regular visitors now.  They love that thistle sock.

A male Cardinal and his mate wasn't too far away.  You can see it rained on this day.

I didn't get a shot of her when it was raining but here's one from earlier on in the day.

This Grackle seemed to be following another around and continuously fluffing up his feathers.  I couldn't figure out if this was his way of communicating his discomfort at the rain, or whether he was an early baby as he seemed to be following another Grackle around on the deck.   It was very interesting behavior.  Ahhh, just read a comment from TexWisGirl and she said it was probably a mating ritual.  Should have known, it's that time of the year.  Thanks TexWisGirl.


Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.
To see other fun critters please click here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Another Squirrel caper.....


Hmmmm......let me get my Sherlock Holmes cap on.


I am channeling my favorite detective as I keep a keen eye on the suspect, and I wish I knew what he was thinking.


Yesterday there was a feeder full of bird seed and two suet cakes in the slots.  


This morning the feeder was just about empty and the cakes had disappeared, except for the gloopy mess in the water dish, where some unknown perpetrator had deposited at least one of the suet cakes and turned it into a mud pie.  


I don't think it was the squirrel even though he looks guilty.  He swears he is innocent.  I tend to believe him because when he and his family left to go back to their nests last night, the feeder was half full and the suet cakes were in place.  I have a feeling his cousin Moriarty may have stopped by last night.  


I have cleaned out and refilled the water dish and the feeders.....


but he can't fool me with his cute and innocent look.  He knows something I am sure of it.  He may not have dragged the suet cake into the water dish but there are other games  he likes to play.   Moriarty's cousin is a tricky fellow.


The game's afoot.....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Blue Skies....

If you need to see the quote more clearly, please click on the photo to enlarge.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes


On Sunday I cooked a pork roast and Gregg mentioned that he had a hankering for scalloped potatoes.  As I haven't made them in a very long time and don't really have a favorite recipe for this side dish, I went surfing and found one at Sweet Pea's Kitchen.  The actual recipe is here.

Scalloped Potatoes

Servings:                    4-6
Preparation time:        20 minutes
Baking time:               15 minutes

Source: Cook's Illustrated - March 2003

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced - about 1 cup
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1-1/4 teaspoons table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-1/4 pounds russet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese - 1 cup

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

In large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt butter until foaming subsides.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook until fragrant, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add potatoes, chicken broth, cream and bay leaves and bring to simmer.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are almost tender (paring knife can be slipped into and out of potato slice with some resistance), about 10 minutes.  Discard bay leaves.

Transfer mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish (or 1-1/2 quart gratin dish) and press to an even layer; sprinkle evenly with cheese.  Bake until cream is bubbling around edges and top is golden, about 15 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes before serving.


~~~~~~~~~

A delicious side-dish.  We both enjoyed the recipe, it is going into our make-again folder, and there are left-overs which I am always happy about.  

For another side dish I bought our usual fresh vegetables from Wegman's, three separate pre-cut packages - broccoli and cauliflower - asparagus, onions and mushrooms and for a change, a package of shredded Brussels Sprouts.  We both enjoys the sprouts.  I roasted them in a separate dish but at the same time as the other vegetables and they came out good but rather crispy-ish.  We both decided that we preferred them cooked as I normally would, whole, in a saucepan covered with water on top of the stove.  All a matter of personal taste of course.  

Lately I have bought extra veggies, cooked them all for dinner serving them up not only for that day but also the day after.  I'm all for eating veggies and most definitely for making life a little easier by having them already cooked and ready to go for another meal.   

I didn't use the cream and replaced it with one-percent milk.  You can also make this healthier by using other lower fat ingredients.  I won't be making this too often but I can see it on the dinner table on special occasions, like holidays and when company comes over.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

TODAY'S FLOWERS # 200

"Spring"
~Karla Kuskin~


I'm shouting,
I'm singing,
I'm swinging through trees,
I'm winging sky-high
with the buzzing black bees.


I'm the sun,
I'm the moon,
I'm the dew on the rose,
I'm a rabbit
Whose habit
Is twitching his nose.


I'm lively,
I'm lovely,
I'm kicking my heels.
I'm crying "Come Dance"
To the fresh water eels.


I'm racing through meadows
Without any coat,
I'm a gamboling lamb
I'm a light leaping goat.


I'm a bud,
I'm a bloom,
I'm a dove on the wing
I'm running on rooftops
And welcoming Spring!


~~~~~

Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli.
You can find beautiful flowers from around the world if you click here.