Friday, December 24, 2010

A quiet Christmas Eve

I remember, as a child, hearing a story about farm animals being able to talk on Christmas eve. The magic of the evening allowed them to share stories with each other while in the barn sheltered from the cold, windy night. Not sure of the origins of that story; I guess it's related to the fact that Jesus was born in a barn with the animals and shared a manger with them. Winter evenings here are very quiet. Birds are nestled somewhere safe and warm, our pets are inside, and Glori is the only animal I hear, munching on her hay. Well, maybe an occasional neighbor dog barking. When it snows, it is especially quiet. The snow buffers all sounds and I feel like the only one outside in the whole world! I like it! There is a slight chance for snow on Christmas Day here......Glori likes the snow, also. So maybe we'll play!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bird visits

I've always enjoyed feeding and watching birds. Thanksgiving day was a banner day at the feeders. I saw ten different birds in about 15 minutes of watching.

I know this is a sparrow, but I do not know the specific one!

My regulars: tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, and downy woodpecker. Less frequent visitors in the fall/winter: goldfinches. Ones I have newly identified: pine siskin, red-bellied woodpecker, and red-breasted nuthatch. Finally, I also saw a male bluebird drinking from the bird bath, and then joining the red-bellied woodpecker in eating the dogwood berries.

And I must not forget the crows. They are always hanging around the barn and pasture.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'm thankful for......
the sturdy, majestic tree trunks outlining my skyline....
the cool, fresh air that fills my lungs each morning....
the warm muzzle of my sweet Glori who nickers to me each morning....
the aroma of turkey as it sits cooling...
the love of family and friends who share a special meal with me...
and much, much, more!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Misty Rivers

Fall mornings are cool and crisp. I am now wearing an extra sweatshirt or jacket each morning when I venture down to the barn. Glori, my horse, loves these cooler temperatures and is quite frisky. Fog is now common along the river each morning. The water is warmer than the air on these cool mornings, so the rising warmer air cools, and the moisture in the warmer air condenses to form a cloud near the surface, commonly known as fog. This picture of the James was taken before a fishing excursion by my brother-in-law. Mysterious and lovely.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Amazing Trees

Trees are so amazing. Fall is a time in which Mother Nature prepares for dormancy. The beauty of leaf pigments is in reality the draining of living fluids into the trunks and roots of trees in order to hibernate for awhile. Trees deserve this break. Oaks over-produce their acorns with the probability of some making it to adulthood, while fattening squirrels, other rodents, and bears for the winter. I'm still amazed that it's the shortening daylight which signals this transformation. Even though they have no nervous system, trees and other plants can sense changes in their surroundings. During their active growing seasons, trees absorb carbon dioxide and some pollutants. They cool the environment, and provide habitat and food for so many organisms. Wow. I say again, trees are amazing. They are my favorite living organism.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beautiful night skies

Fall is a great time to star-gaze. The nights are not too cold, and the skies are clear. With a new moon and waxing crescent this weekend, the skies are dark and the Milky Way is visible here in the country. Cassiopeia's throne is currently on its side in the eastern sky. In the mornings on the way to the barn, Cassiopeia is situated over the barn with the Big Dipper more easterly. I have enjoyed seeing Orion in the southern sky early before the sun rises. He's fighting off Taurus with his dog Sirius at his feet. Soon he'll be out in the evenings. Of course, it will be a bit colder then! So I'll enjoy the constellations now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stormy Weather!

Wow, it has really been stormy this August! I'm thankful we have gotten the rain since July was so hot and dry, but the lightning is scary. The storms always seem to come late in the afternoon, so students were going out to buses in the rain today. I think the lightning held out, thankfully. Lightning is useful for helping to make nitrogen available for plants, and to help reduce the buildup of electrical energy in the atmosphere. Look for those cumulonimbus clouds over the next few days!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Wow, hot and dry this summer! The temperature reached 100 degrees F yesterday, which made me want to return to winter. Add to that no rain in over 2 weeks, and all the gardens are looking very sad. I am reluctant to water much since I have a well. I want the water to last! I should be greatful for the snowfalls we received this past winter- at least three over 10 inches, so I know the groundwater reserves were replenished. So I thought maybe a winter picture would help calm my worries. The Blue Ridge mountains are in the background with a country church across the way. I enjoy the changing scenery of this view throughout the year, but currently, the church is barely visible due to leafy trees.
Let's pray for a good summer storm or two over the next few days to relieve the dryness.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer siestas and such

The past couple of weeks have been so hot. It's very hard to enjoy the outdoors unless you are in a pool! Every morning, I take care of the horses, water potted plants, then mow or do whatever other outdoor activities I need. Afterwards, it's inside for the majority of the rest of my day. As it turns out, after lunch I have very much fallen into a naptime routine. Have I expended so much energy in the morning that I need the nap? The evenings and nights go back to being productive. I can see why other cultures have taken their afternoon naps. I remember many shops in Italy and Greece closed a couple of hours after lunch, those that were away from the touristy areas. Of course, the little Italian town where we stayed during the World Cup championship of 2006 put up a large screen for the entire town to watch the final match with France that evening. It was fabulous to be a part of that! The townspeople were up all night after their win celebrating with car horns and noisemakers. They definitely needed their naps the next day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

summer musings

Time can be so fleeting. So cliche, but so true. It's already late June and there are so many things I still want to accomplish before another school year begins. I wonder how I get everything done during the school year! My day is busy now without teaching, planing, and grading papers adding to the day! Of course, I'm also reading for pleasure, enjoying my garden, and spending more time with my animals now. My daughter has her own work and relax/play schedule, and we get together at times. I'm hoping the three of us can canoe the river or find that island on the lake to enjoy before summer's end.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summertime thoughts

High school graduation was today, with family members and friends sitting in the hot sun for a couple of hours in order to get a glimpse of their favorite graduates cross the stage. Ms. Warren, the chosen speaker, was very good. She not only infused humor with an inspiring message, she also sang a lovely goodbye to the class of 2010. This class contained 552 graduates! They have many challenges ahead, but amongst them are our scientists, politicians, caregivers, teachers, mechanics, engineers, business owners, healthcare workers, and tradesmen. They will achieve and share their gifts with the rest of us; all of us benefit when our future workforce is properly educated.

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's May, and the living is easier

May Day was perfect! The sunshine felt invigorating, and a light breeze kept me from getting too hot. My daughter arrived home from her first year of college, very grown up and very much still my little girl. I'm so glad she loves the college life. It makes living without her much easier.
Humidity rose on the second day, along with temperatures, feeling more like summer. The long days and cool evenings are worth the wait. The snowy winter we had just made me appreciate these days even more. And we haven't even reached the longest day yet! aaahhh...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Last day of April

What a gorgeous day. Upper 70's, low humidity, sunshine, birds sharing their songs. I am currently sitting outdoors on a shaded deck, and I am thrilled the trees are fully leaved again. This gives me so much privacy. I can no longer see my neighbors, and their night lights are not visible to me either. Of course, this also means that my star visibility range is less. I cannot see as much of the night sky from one position as I can in Fall and Winter.
My clematis is in full bloom now and the purple and orange irises are beginning to unfurl. The purple irises smell like grape Kool-aid.
Tomorrow I will plant my tomatoes, keeping an eye out on the temperatures for a couple more weeks. Despite the impending heat, I love the carefree days that summer brings and the bountiful variety of produce that will soon be on my table. I hope that everyone will drink in the beauty of this time of year!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring flowers

I'm sorry I haven't shared very much lately! This school year has been very busy.

The forsythia was again the first to flower at my house, followed closely by the daffodils. The red tulips and redbuds bloomed at about the same time, and then periwinkle and dogwoods. My lilacs are now blooming, and so is the clematis in the back yard! I think that is a little early! I need to keep records so I can compare. My purple irises are putting up buds, though I've seen a neighbor's blooming for a week now.
We are getting some much needed rain tonight. It seemed like it would never dry out earlier, but now we've gone over two weeks without rain.
I've never had allergies before, but I think I know what it's like. The pollen production was so high this year that I have had a slight cough, along with water eyes and itchy nose. I know it's not the same as true allegy sufferers, but it's annoying!
Heard a hummingbird this week. Need to get those feeders out. The males are here!