Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A bit of whimsy in this post


If you have a special garden,
Where flowers and herbs abound.
Then take a pinch of fairy dust,
And sprinkle it around.
The fairies will take notice,
And at the end of day,
They'll tiptoe out upon the grass,
And dance the night away.

~Carla J. Nelson~


How to tell if a fairy is around:

Soft chiming bells
A strong scent of grass, apples or wild violets
Strange, haunting or jovial music
Mysterious giggling that comes out of thin air
Mushroom circles
Large patches of four-leaf clovers
You are followed by a crow or a raven.




Well, there you go!

(Photos at Meadowlark Gardens, of an area near the visitors center that delights big kids and little kids alike.  Never lose sight of your inner child).

You can find another fairy post here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mr. Mockingbird

Today I am connecting to Anni's Bird D'Pot here and also Stewart's World Bird Wednesday here.

It's been a long time since I saw a Mockingbird.


So there he is and there I am.  He is in a tangle of branches and I am trying to get some half-way decent shots. I begin to respect those intrepid wildlife photographers who wait for hours, sometimes days, to get that one perfect shot. I didn't want much, just the sight of a berry in the bird's beak. You wouldn't think that was too much to ask would you Mr. Mockingbird?


Apparently it was for I waited and waited and waited, and waited, and so did he - for me to go away.  I had my camera trained on that little bird for a long time. I had seen him picking off several berries and swallow them in a split second.  Surely I could capture that? No, I couldn't! I have more respect for the wildlife photographer who would have the patience to wait him out.  But the more I looked the more he looked at me.  For one brief moment my glance diverted in another direction, and as quick as a flash I saw that berry picked and just as quickly disappear.  I asked if he was taunting me and I think I saw him smile.


"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience."  You are a smart man Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Bye-bye Mr. Mockingbird, maybe next time.


Yep, he's smiling!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The path never taken.....at Meadowlark Gardens

(Please click on the above link to visit their home page and please feel free to enlarge any of the photos)


There was still some snow on the ground but always when we get outside and go places, no matter the weather - yes, extreme conditions aside - we enjoy walking.  Most of the trails at the gardens were clear, and there were only a few shady spots where you had to take a little care.  

These photos are from the path we have never taken, as mentioned in my previous post.  I think we have walked every other path in the garden but this one.  I have Gregg to thank as I had stopped to take some shots of a Mockingbird hungrily feeding on berries.  When I looked up Gregg was nowhere in sight.  I really wanted that photo of the bird with a berry in its mouth (no I didn't get it, more on that another day).  We have an unwritten code, if the other is interested in a particular photo we move on, just as long as we are within calling distance.  We basically had the place to ourselves and I didn't think it would be unnerving to others if I shouted Gregg's name.  I heard his answering call down the path never taken. and followed it to find him taking photos at the side of another pond.  It was smaller than the main one we know so well, frozen over with a very thin layer of ice, but apparently strong enough for water fowl to make their way across.  Their tracks were everywhere.


Of course, Robert Frost's poem came to mind, one of my favorites, "The Road Not Taken", so please indulge me if I repeat it as I am sure it is on this blog elsewhere.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden back.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


We spotted the Adirondack chairs on the other side and they were waiting just for us.  There was no one else to enjoy them.....


and they were saying "Come on over and sit for spell", an open invitation to do just that.


The garden isn't just taking care of the birds, there were other nesting boxes, this one for bees.  The sign reads, "Native Bee House.....our native bees are very efficient pollinators, but need healthy nesting sites to thrive.  This native bee nesting box is designed to fill their needs.  You may notice several of these located throughout the gardens in our effort to support our native bees."  The first time I ever saw one was located near the visitors center.


Here she comes, Gregg likes to take candid shots of me all along our walk.....


as do I him.  Those chairs are very comfortable to sit in, this is the first time I have tried an Adirondack chair, that I can remember anyhow.


It was too cold to sit for a great length of time but the few minutes we had was spent looking across  to the other side of the pond, where we had just come from.  The air was fresh and yes nippy but absolutely glorious!


At the side of the platform there was a sample nesting box for ducks......


two sides covered in plexiglass for viewing.


The duck box made a great tripod for our self timer.


Gregg, whose eyesight is much better than mine, pointed me in the direction of a bird high up in the tree.  This was the closest I could get to him.


He seemed very interested in those bright little berries.  I'm thinking a male Northern Flicker, what do you think?


The photos in today's post were taken by both Gregg and me.  Part of Gregg's interest in photography is finding the patterns in nature, which I think is great because he has opened my eyes to such things.


He often sees things that I don't as my interest is more for taking pictures of wildlife, but I do love to look at his shots when we get home.  It's really nice to get his perspective on things.


So there you go, that's our walk from the path we have never taken before.  More photos on the rest of our walk later.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A walk around Meadowlark Gardens


We explored a new area this afternoon, a path we had not taken before.  We have thought to do so many times on previous visits, and today was the day to take the left fork instead of the right.  We came across this very long bench, with a small platform in the middle so that little ones could sit more comfortably.  There was a quote by John Muir on the back of the bench etched in the wood.  It read:

"In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks."
How true!


More to come later.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

TODAY'S FLOWERS #231 - January 26th, 2013

The link to Today's Flowers is now open.  To see beautiful blooms from around the world you can click here. 

Another favorite from my archives.  I enjoy seeing flowers from a while ago but I do look forward to the next growing season.  Roll on Spring!  


From now on I want to show my appreciation for all the participants in the previous week's Today's Flowers Meme by sharing their links here.  I always try hard not to make any mistakes but please let me know if there are any, the same if I have missed anyone.  They are in the order they were received on the home page.  Consequently, this list won't be alphabetical.  Clicking on the names will take you to their blogs.

With my thanks to last week's participants who were:

Enerhagen

Bernie at Bush Bernie's Blog

Cindy at Dwellings - The Heart of Your Home

Tina's Pic Story

Pupo at Ipsis Photos

Xavi at Jardins-Parcs-Paisatges-Muntanyes-Ciutats

Lina at Women's Perspectives

Maboe

Misty Dawn at My Dogs Keep Me Sane

Jidhu Jose at Reflections

Nature Footstep Photography

Sara's Fave Photos Blog   




Jama at Sweet Memories           
             
A Full-time Life                   
              
                           


       

Kanak at Terra Farmer                      


     
The Modern Mom                
     

Kramer at Bexar County Line  

Judy at Lilac Gate

Ecobirder

2013 Doug Photo Blog

January at Life's Concealed Details

Sara's Fave Photos Blog

Tina at Jungle of My Life

Valerie at Travels Here and Abroad

Elin at I hagen ved skauen

Beverly at Eclectic Red Barn

Marie from A Colorful World    
      

                 


Our latest logo came from Luna Miranda.  Thank you so much for this pretty logo.


If you enjoy participating in memes we are always on the look-out for new friends to join in.  For those of you who are already sharing when you can, thank you very much. 

If anyone would like to be a guest and share photos on our home page, details can be found at the top of Today's Flowers web site, which you will find here.

                                                

I am also linking up with Tina's Weekend Flowers which you can find here.

                            

CAMERA CRITTERS #251

Squirrel's Breakfast

A squirrel from his tree-house poked out his head,
It's high time for my breakfast he happily said.


So he ran down the tree trunk and pattered around,
His bushy tail trailing, his nose to the ground.


He looked here, he looked there, through the white snow,
Till he found a nut, hidden below,


And into his cheek he popped the nut with glee,
Then Mr. Squirrel scampered back up the tree.


If you look very sharply, maybe you'll spy
Mr. Squirrel at his door, ever so high.

~Author Unknown~

Camera Critters


Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.  Always a very enjoyable meme and one I look forward to each Saturday.
To see other fun critters you can click here

Friday, January 25, 2013

My weekly recipe post

As I mentioned in my last food post I am going to try and share at least one recipe a week, and not on any set day.  This will usually be a recipe I haven't made before and one that we have really enjoyed and can recommend.


Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches - serves 8

You can find the original recipe at Valerie's Kitchen, link here.

4 lbs. beef roast (rump, sirloin tip, or other)
1 (14.5 ounce) can or 1-3/4 cups beef broth
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed French onion soup
1 (12 ounce) bottle beer
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
8 French rolls
2 tablespoons butter
Creamy Horseradish Spread:
           1/2 cup sour cream, light or regular
           1 tablespoon creamed horseradish

Add beef broth, French onion soup, beer, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder to the slow cooker.  Whisk to combine.

Trim excess fat from the roast if necessary and add to the liquid.  Cook on low setting for 7 to 9 hours.

Combine the sour cream and creamed horseradish in a small bowl.  Cover and refrigerate.

Transfer meat from the slow cooker to a cutting board.  Slice on the diagonal and transfer sliced meat back to the cooking liquid.

Preheat oven broiler.  Spread butter onto sandwich rolls and broil till nicely browned.

Assemble sandwiches by filling the sandwich rolls with some of the meat, spread with creamy horseradish to taste, and serve with the au jus for dipping.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com


Delicous!  I served this with coleslaw.  The rolls we used were Meyers Steak Rolls which toast nicely in the oven.

This is the second time we have had this meal as there were lots of leftovers from dinner last night.  We will be having one more meal over the weekend and freeze the rest.  I will freeze the steak and the au jus separately.

For lunch today I sprinkled a little shredded sharp cheddar on the bread before toasting.  I also used the Horseradish cream minus sour cream.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Revisiting some favorite bird photos today

I haven't been able to get any decent bird photos lately so have gone back into my archives to revisit a sweet little bird I saw bathing in a stream when we visited a botanical garden a couple of years ago.   I am not sure what he is.  Does anyone know?






Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cold Remedies


Ode To A Cold

Oh Spring where is thy sunny spell
Come visit me and make me well
In thy warmth please let me dwell
In doing so these cold symptoms quell.

(You can read the rest of this ode if you click here)


Yes, roll on Spring.  We have had quite a drop compared to the weekend's temperatures.  It's bitterly cold outside and last night I started showing signs of coming down with a sore throat and sniffles.  I went to the store and got some lozenges containing zinc but I also have some lemons in the fridge and will be making my favorite comfort drink when colds come calling; lemon juice mixed in hot water, about a teaspoon of grated ginger and honey to taste.  

I've also read online a few remedies and if you go here you can read them.   Snorting warm milk with cinnamon up my nose, well I'm giving that one a thumbs down.  I just can't see myself doing that, but the following sound pretty good and I copied it from the article verbatim.

Ginger Tea: honored to be an excellent home cure for running nose, tea prepared with ginger juliennes cooked in water along with an addition of brown sugar and optionally green onions, is an instant remedy.  Though it is a way of Chinese tea preparation and originated as a remedy also in China, yet it has a wide acceptance all over the world and is considered highly plausible.

Ginger Juliennes: chewing raw ginger that is very finely sliced around thrice a day is a proven remedy for quick relief from running nose.

Also, for vegetarians by nature, cloves of garlic boiled in water can be consumed as a soup for instant cure and better respiration.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A walk through the woods.....

to the Walney Pond Visitor's Center.  Gregg and I often come over here during the year, to get some exercise and also to enjoy the surroundings.  This time we didn't take any photos of the pond as we have so many.  The beaver lodge has been dismantled but further upstream we noticed he or maybe other members of his family have been hard at work.  The area had been 'tidied up', and although we know this has to be done to stop everything from getting too overgrown, we missed the wildness of it all, it seemed a little more desolate.   Trees have been felled and sawed logs were all along the trail, much wider this time and yes probably safer.  


This is the old smokehouse near the visitors center.  We could have driven to this location but today we wanted to enjoy our exercise and that's why we parked down by the pond and walked through the wood, on a slight uphill gradient, to get here.  The day was sunny and though not warm, mild enough not to have to wear a coat.  A good thick woolly sweater was enough.


Not a cloud in the sky, just a few contrails from passing airplanes.


The trees cast long shadows.

In a past visit and not too far from here Gregg once saw a fox but by the time I looked up he had gone.


It was very quiet with not much wildlife.  We saw a few birds high up in the trees but other than that not even so much as a squirrel.  We saw several couples, also families with young children.  We all smiled and said hello as we passed by.  Everyone was enjoying the sunshine.


This is a replica of a native lodge, a little worse for wear.


Hearts and signatures left all over this tree.  There were no other trees like this one.


These pretty hibiscus...... 


were growing in the hothouse attached to the visitors center.





This is the photo in my present header.  Gregg took it.  In fact he took many of the photos in today's post.








Gregg made good use of one of the sawn logs I mentioned earlier.  Soaking up the sunshine for a few minutes was lovely.








This young lady was carrying refreshments over to a group of young children who were having a barbecue  near one of the picnic tables.  They were taking one of the nature classes available.


We weren't the only ones enjoying the sunshine.




The old bee hive is a permanent fixture.  There are more modern hives nearby.  I was surprised to see several bees very active going in and out, but I doubt they were able to visit any flowers that day.  There were none to be found.  They need to be reminded it's winter.  Go back to sleep until springtime.










I hope you've enjoyed our latest walk near Walney Pond.