Friday, February 27, 2009


Every year the same.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Grackles, Enough to Raise Hackles

The red shouldered hawk pair over the weekend and now new visitors are signs of spring coming to our side of the river.

Like Robert Brady's marauding monkeys of Japan or the locusts that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in one of her books, the black murder of grackles descended on the river yesterday. Their migratory freeway must pass this way. The sky was filled with dark kites...numbering in the hundreds...maybe thousands. They were noisy and bold and acted as if no one else needed sustenance here.

Everything in their path was theirs for the taking. Just like a motorcycle gang at the local stop in the desert, they took what they wanted and left the dregs for the rest of the birds. In a few hours they had completely emptied the sunflower feeder and then snacked a little on the thistle seed. They even kept the squirrels at bay. Then they flew to the tops of the trees to clean their bills and fertilize the tree roots.

They are still around today, but spread out wide with various watchmen sitting in the high trees along the river waiting to see if the feeders will be re-filled. I put out a small plastic tray of bird seed on the deck for the resident birds to snack and am going to see if I can out- wait these birds that had hijacked the feeder from our regular visitors yesterday.

They have to move on sometime I am guessing...


This is NOT the cardinal that has been tapping routinely on every window of the house...except the one where I have placed a rubber snake on the ledge below. That is one of the males. This female cardinal does have a problem though. The broken bill does not seem to be interfering with her eating as she is still nice and plump.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bird Pantry Thief

We think we may have found one of the reasons our sunflower seed is disappearing so rapidly. If you click on the photos to enlarge (though very blurry because they were taken quickly through the window with screen) one can see the thief. Brave and clearly not intimidated by how close my husband got until my husband roared. His coat (the thief's) was full and shiny and he was big and fat...not doubt thanks to sunflower oil!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Nutty Feathered Friend

This nuthatch visits each afternoon and spends the better part of his time walking upside down on the side of the tree. His behavior is just like the yellow bellied woodpecker in that he grabs a sunflower seed from the feeder and then jams it into a place in the tree and uses that leverage to get the shell off of the seed. He is quick and darting in behavior and hard to capture with the camera. (Click to enlarge.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Well Behaved Greeters

These little faces will be so lovely for company this afternoon and all from only two bulbs a few years ago. The deep red and larger blossoms are bursting their green covers and it appears they will be following in a few days.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Fairy Tale?

Once a long, long, very long time ago in a land far (well not so very far) away I had a house with a backyard deck draped in clematis.

I had a little homemade pond filled with gold and orange and white koi carp
that were given unusual names.

I even had a rose garden that filled my house with lush bouquets.
Sigh...that seems a long time ago.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just the Beginning

Looks like this corner of the kitchen is going to be prettier in just a few days. The buds in the back standing like big thumbs are the deep red flowers that get boldly large. This year I have carefully staked them and tied with landscape velcro.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Spring Outfits

I think she is getting dressed for spring. Her colors are getting richer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Tease

The day was blue and gray with the sun sometimes able to peek in frustration from behind wind blown clouds. The temperature was neither frigid nor promising...just gray winter cold. I took my favorite pruning shears from the plant shelf at the side of the kitchen and walked to the plant bed in the front yard and snipped some rosemary and some weak-looking but still pungent sage. This was all I needed to tease a slow cooked pot roast into bringing warm thoughts back to the day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It Takes So Little to Restore the Energy of Spring

How appropriate so close to Valentine's Day! Let the show begin! The first to open are the smaller pink amaryllis blossoms. This one just opened with the big smile of hope this morning, and as can be seen, the stamens are still drooping. I have a few other plants as close to blossoming. I hate to be away this weekend and miss the beginning of the show. But I will return for the encore on Sunday. (It takes to little to energize my thoughts.)

And below, these are the stars that provide my husband hope.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get Down with Downy

Some wear their heart on their sleeve...looks like this fellow wears his heart elsewhere? Woodpeckers are so joyful, aren't they? (Click on it for a closer look.)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Red Valentines Gift

Throughout the winter months the ornamental grasses at the driveway have bobbed their feathery heads in rhythm to whichever beat the wind sends our way. They are ever graceful and even with clinging ice or a dusting of snow, they manage to provide a warmth by their presence.

Today, with the golden afternoon sun on our backs and optimism in our stance we began the laborious process of cutting back this hedge in preparation for spring. The hedge stands tall and proud at the edge of the driveway with the land falling sharply away into wild roses and thorny holly trees on the back side. This labor of love has to be carefully planned and executed. We gathered the
crisp stalks in our arms like wheat and carried them to the vegetable garden and placed them on the path for mulch.

As I started to lift my eyes from the path this lovely velvet red color inside one of the broken stalks caught my gaze. I had to bring it inside to photograph.

If you click the photo to enlarge it looks like red sugar cystals...which perhaps it is? Maybe plant sugars? How sweet.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Beech Tree Leaves

While some people are now thinking about lying on a sandy beach in the warm sun, I looked up at these paper thin, golden, beech leaves crackling like a fire in the wind yesterday and I felt very warm.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


This Dwarapala or door guardian has sat patiently through all kinds of weather at the front door of our home(s). He is our gatekeeper and has been with us for many years. My daughter used to pile various flower blossoms on his head and on his belly in the spring and summer as she had seen her Indonesian playmates do. He is patient through all kinds of weather and stands strong to greet us upon our return from any journey. It was with intentional effort that we crated him in wood and brought him to the United States with us. It is with intentional effort that we lift and move him from house to house. He is made of volcanic stone and weighs perhaps 70 pounds. He has not changed over the years except to develop for a fine patina of green that seems to last through all seasons.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Doom and Gloom

Even gloom can sometimes be strikingly beautiful as was this recent sunset that had begun just as the winter snowstorm arrived from the West. The birds had been very active at the feeders during the day clearly knowing that snow and colder wind was on the way. I took this photo just as the sun was passing over the river and it was so stark and so gloomy and yet so breathtaking and beautiful that I was glad to have captured it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Friend Flicka

There are a pair of flickers in our neighborhood and they only visit as the sun is beginning to throw long shadows against the trees. They swoop in from somewhere across the forest and land on our snags and proceed to excavate whatever they can. They are fast and cautious and, therefore, difficult to catch still in a photograph. I can sometimes hear their 'wicker' call and then I am able to zone in to find them on a high branch poking away. I was lucky last night and raced out to the deck to catch this beautiful bird. They are my favorite woodpecker and this photography almost does their beauty justice as the bird books I have cannot. This is a much better screensaver in terms of clarity.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Timing is everything.

I moved all of the bulbs from the basement and now have a happy grouping near the windows. If we can get more sunny days this would be nice. I am like the lady with too many cats, I know. I just cannot throw them out and no one seems to want them.

These lovely ladies are very close to providing me with some nice color to break the bleak gray days. I think they are the pink or a smaller amaryllis and not the brilliant red ones.

This odd looking bud was trying to shoot toward light at the bottom of the pile of bulbs in the dark bag that I had left for planting this week. Clearly I have messed with it's time clock. I spread the planting time over the month of January, but I don't label the bulbs by they get quite confused. It will be interesting to see how it does.

These are now the tiny kaffir limes that have set on the branches. There are way too many for this small tree as I have about four branches like this. But I will see how they do as move toward early sprin
g. This lime rind can be bitter, so just the juice is what I want to use in drinks and cooking and of course the lovely pungent and savory leaves add that very unique flavor and smell.