Saturday, December 18, 2010

Raptors in the Hood

My sister took these great pictures of a young Cooper's Hawk in her backyard!  You can tell he's immature by his yellow eyes and the streaking on his breast.  Notice how his feathers are all fluffed up?  It's been very cold here, only 19 degrees this morning when I woke up.  He's gorgeous, isn't he?

I'm without a camera right now but had to post these for all of you.  I hope to get a new camera after tax season, but unfortunately Uncle Sam comes first.  

Finished my home made ornaments today.  I'll have some photos after Christmas.  I think they turned out great.  Happy holidays, everyone!  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unwelcome Change

The field where I saw the buck a few weeks ago is due to be leveled to make way for new townhomes.  Do we really need new townhomes when folks can barely afford to pay the homes they have and there are so many foreclosures and short sales on the market here?  It makes me sad to think of the wildlife that will lose their habitat, small as it is now.  There's a young hawk that I see almost daily sitting on the brush waiting for prey.  Where will the deer go?  

When I drove by the beautiful field today, they had it "taped off" to show where the buildings will be.  There will be no field left, no wildflowers blooming on the side of the road, no more homes for groundhogs, deer, and hawks.  Instead it will all be replaced with concrete, homes with no yards, more traffic, and impatient people.  I'm so sad.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Gift of the Old One

(This story exists in different forms.  Snopes states that original author is Reverand David L. Griffith who penned the story in 1998 or 1999 when he was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Utica, Oklahoma.  It was part of a series of sermons he presented on the value of keeping old things.  I think we should cherish the old things too.  I am reprinting this story here because I love it.  For me, it represents Christmas and what I think about as part of this special time of year).


The young couple had made their usual hurried pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small heard of goats.  The farm had been named Lone Pine Farm becuase of the huge pine which topped the hill behind the farm and through the years had become a talisman to the old man and his wife and a landmark in the countryside.   
The old folks no longer showed their goats for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a little milk and a few kids each year.  And the goats were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.  

Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young people confronted the old folks:  "Why do you not at least dispose of the Old One?  She is no longer of use to you.  It's been years since you've had either kids or milk from her.  You should cut corners and save where you can.  Why do you keep her anyway? "  The old man looked down as his worn boot scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears.  He replied softly, "We keep her because of love.  Only because of love."   Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley. 

So it was that because of the leave taking, no one noticed the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn.  None saw the first spark fall, none but the Old one.  In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames  were licking at the loft full of hay.   With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved goats.  But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back.  He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left -- and the old man and his wife.  They thanked those who had come to their aid.  And the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana.  Brokenly, he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas.  Let us, therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair.  We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared."

And so he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand.  As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.  Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine.  And it was aglow with heavenly candles, and poised on its topmost bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass.  Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this.  Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of  wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward.  There, beneath the tree, was their Christmas gift.

Bedded down about the Old One,  close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.  At the first hint of smoke, she  had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the goats through it.  Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow.  The kids were frightened and dashed about.  The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames and hoped like rabbits.  The milkers pressed uneasily against the Old One as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine.  And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved.  Her body was brittle with years, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift -- because of love.   Only because of love.

(And so, my friends, I hope you all experience many blessings  as we all get ready for the holidays)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Exquisiteness of Being

Yesterday, NPR did a story that delighted me and made me laugh out loud.  I'm not sure that I would ever want to try Jumping Fences with Bees (A New Extreme Sport).  But from what I've read a lot of bee keepers get very attached to their bees!  One quote from this piece that I just loved is:  

"Sometimes people who pay exquisite attention see exquisite things." 

PS.   Hope you all love this as much as I did, especially my bee-keeping friends!


Fall is only a recent memory.  The official Christmas countdown has begun, along with Hannukah and Advent.  I love these early days of winter.  The trees have lost all of their leaves, and the sky is beginning take on a somber hue on my drive home from work.  But I get to see the start of sunset and amazing views of the sky.  On my way home today, The sky was covered in clouds with a few spaces in between.  There were shades of violet and blue and alizarin dancing in the skys.  Then I saw golden rays escaping from between the clouds.  It was so beautiful, it made me catch my breath.  

Traffic hummed along at a steady pace, and on my left, I could see just a hint of gold coming into view at the very bottom of a cloud.  As the sun started to slip into view, the gold split into streams of light at the top and bottom.  It was gorgeous.  I actually called my sister to ask her if she could see the view from her house.  I don't know how to describe the contentment and joy that wells inside me when I see things like this.  I don't know why, but it makes feel like I just caught a glimpse of heaven.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Dear friends, I'm so grateful to have met all of you through blogging.  I hope you all have a wonderful day full of all the good things you all so richly deserve with your family and friends.  I'm spending the holiday with my family in North Carolina, and I'm looking forward to reading how you all spent this family day.  Take care, everyone. 

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Monday, November 22, 2010

There's a Gorilla in my Kitchen

Okay, well, not an actual four-legged, hairy gorilla.  It's Gorilla Bread.  The holidays always makes me want to bake, which is something for me in my little (read very tiny with no counter space) kitchen.  I couldn't resist trying Paula Dean's very easy recipe.  It didn't take long to make and just look!!  It looks scrumptious, doesn't it?  It's too late to try it tonight, but I'm planning to take it to work, so I'll let you know how I score!  In the meantime, enjoy my virtual gift to your sweet tooth.

My sister lent me this beautiful old bundt pan, which was our mom's.  If you look closely, you can see she wrote our last name on it with nail polish.  I grew up in an era where everything you owned was marked with your name, lest it accidently end up in someone else's house.  LOL!  I do love the fact that it was my mom's and I was able to use it to make something yummy.

 The finished product looks pretty good.  I'll let the office gourmands tell me how it turned out.  Thank you, Sue for letting me borrow the pan!

Mosaic Monday

Linking over with Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.  The photo with the bee was taken in Charlottesville the first weekend of this month.  I was surprised to see him and the still blooming lavender.  I couldn't help but think that he was taking advantage of the last sweetness of autumn.  I love nature and everything it offers including the earth and its seasons and never ending beauty.  Every day is a blessing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just Fall

I moved to Virginia about three years ago.  Hard to believe it's only been three years.  Since living here, I've discovered that I LOVE northern Virginia.  It's a beautiful place to live.  There are four distinct seasons, and I look forward to the change in all of them . . . well, except for summer.  But the summers here are not as hot and humid as they are in coastal North Carolina where you swelter just sitting in the shade, like it or not.  Don't get me wrong, there are hot and humid days here too; but they just don't seem as hot or humid as the dog days of NC.  

The spring and fall in northern Virginia are beautiful.  The colors are intoxicating, and it's hard to keep your eyes on the road because there is so much to see and appreciate.  I've been taking lots of fall pictures, mainly because I never get tired of looking at the reds, golds, and yellows.  When I drove home from work yesterday, the sky was a gorgeous shade of violet as the sun started to set.  It was a painter's dream.  Then as I neared my house, I noticed brake lights in the road in front of me.  Looking up, I saw a beautiful buck, complete with a large set of antlers.  I pulled off to the side of the road.  He backed away and looked right at me.   He was gorgeous.  Then he ran off into the fields and all I saw was his white tail and the antlers bobbing in the distance.  When I turned to check on getting back in the road, there was a guy right next to me who had stopped his car to watch the deer too.  We just smiled at each other and drove on our ways.

None of this really has anything to do with the title of this post, but I just had to share one of the reasons why I love northern Virginia.  And these photos show you another.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Charlottesville Revisited

I had to share the rest of my Charlottesville pictures with you.  I just love it there.  Whenever I'm there, I think of Thomas Jefferson and beautiful Monticello.  There are loads of things to do there besides the wineries (but they're GREAT).  If you ever get a chance to visit, you won't be disappointed.  And if you get a chance to visit in the fall, it's even more beautiful than ever.

These photos were all taken at White Hall.  This was our first stop on Saturday.  Their award-winning wine was on display in their tasting room.  

My son and my son-in-law's beautiful sister

 Green Heron at Pollak Winery

 The view from the tasting room at Pollak Winery.  Would you love to wake up to this every single day?  I'd love it. 

 The gang bellied up to the bar!

Last but not least, we ended up our weekend at beautiful Veritas in Afton, Virginia.  "Veritas" means truth, and their wines are truly the best of their vineyard.  They have won many awards.  We always end up here because of the gorgeous scenery.  They have a huge deck with picnic tables, and we pack in our lunch and enjoy it with one of their outstanding wines.    


 Just some of the amazing views.  I painted this barn as a gift to my daughter for her 10th anniversary.  

My impression

 I'd love to imagine this is the road to my house.  

My family 

Kite Flying

I saw a Kite yesterday on my way home on the George Washington Parkway.  No, silly, not that kind of kite.  This kind:

(Photo credit:  
Fotograf: Ferdinand Grassmann * Erstversion: de.wikipedia 13:52, 20. Jun 2005 . . Fgrassmann (281802)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Celebrating Wine

I created this to celebrate Monday Mosaic with Mary at Little Red House.

Wine that maketh glad the heart of man.
The Book of Psalms, 104:15

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Loving Charlottesville

Every year my daughter and her husband go to Charlottesville to celebrate their anniversary.  Our extended family all meets there and takes a weekend-long vacation to celebrate their anniversary.  This year we visited eight wineries, some of which I'd never been to before.  I enjoyed myself so much.  Besides being with family and tasting some of the best wine in the region, the countryside is absolutely beautiful this time of year.  I especially love fall and the crisp weather it brings.  There's something so heavenly about this season and all of the colors that surround it.  These are some of the photos I took while I was in beautiful Charlottesville.

Some of the people attending arrive on Thursday night, and I thought about going on Thursday.  But then it started raining early in the morning and rained into the evening, so I decided to wait and leave on Friday morning so I could enjoy the ride and the beautiful scenery.  We managed to visit eight wineries in two days.  Can you believe it?  When I got there on Friday afternoon, I met my son and his wife for lunch and then we met everyone else and headed to Blenheim Winery.  Blenheim is owned by Dave Matthews, and his parents still live there.  As you can see the scenery there is wonderful and they have a nice tasting room.

After Blenheim, we went to Jefferson Wineries where we had a private tasting for our huge group of people.  The wines were wonderful.

We finished up our first day at Carter's Mountain where they sell apples, baked goods, cider, and. . .yep, you guessed it -- WINE!!  I bought the best peach wine there.  It tastes like they squeezed a fresh peach right into the bottle and the view from the mountain is gorgeous.  The drive up is a white knuckler, and I can't look out the window.  There are NO GUARDRAILS!!

There was still plenty of color in the trees.  After Carter's Mountain we headed to dinner at Enoteca where we drank (yet again) more wine.  It was a great day and we headed to bed with our bellies full and dreaming of heavenly views and more wine the next day.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Birthday

. . . to my hero, Carl Sagan.  His ability to explain the cosmos and humankind's role is unrivaled.  His vision of the universe is best explained by his own voice: 

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

Exactly Right

the strays keep arriving: now we have 5
cats and they are smart, spontaneous, self-
absorbed, naturally poised and awesomely

one of the finest things about cats is
that when you're feeling down, very down,
if you just look at the cat at rest,
at the way they sit or lie and wait,
it's a grand lesson in preserving
if you watch 5 cats at once that's 5
times better.

no matter the extra demands they make
no matter the heavy sacks of food
no matter the dozens of cans of tuna
from the supermarket: it's all just fuel for their
amazing dignity and their
affirmation of a vital
we humans can
only envy and
admire from
"exactly right" by Charles Bukowski, from The Night Torn with Mad Footsteps: New Poems.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall in My Neck of the Woods

There is a beautiful little pond close to my sister's house, and I love walking there and taking pictures of the ducks and geese.  The colors in the rushes and reflections on the water now are so beautiful.  I never get tired of looking at them.  

I want a pond of my own, with ducks and reeds and endlessly changing views.  

I don't know why fall makes me feel so snug and warm inside.  Maybe it's just the way we're programmed to react to the shorter days and vibrant colors.  I can smell the fires from the fireplaces and wood stoves.  I want to snuggle under my comforter after turning the heat way down for the night.  I want to make soups and stews and go for walks with the brisk wind blowing on my cheeks.  Yesterday and today were perfect fall days, brisk and dry, wind blowing the leaves in scurrying little crowds on their way to winter.