Friday, July 27, 2007

Perfect Summer's Day

Oh me, oh my, what a perfectly lazy day.

We slept in this morning, then had friends come over for a leisurely dip in the pool. We splashed around for a bit then sat on the front steps shooting the breeze while enjoying a most unusual dry, cool breeze. The kids ran on the lawn and swung in the tree swing while my friend and I squinted into the sun watching them, sipping cups of water spiked with lime slices. All we needed was a big plate of watermelon. We felt like we were in a Country Time Lemonade commercial. I should have paid more attention to the time and gotten to the local farm stand before it closed for some Silver Queen corn and Jersey tomatoes. Well, there's always tomorrow.

After a bit of Googling I have become reasonably certain that our bird tenants are House Wrens, which sound all cottagey and cute, but apparently are vicious savages which routinely attack other nests, destroying the eggs and young of other bird families. They're not as bad as House Sparrows, which are known to brutally attack nesting birds and then build their own nests on top of their victims' corpses in spite and triumph, but they're still supposedly pretty bad bullies. I'm not sure I'm glad I now have this information as it kind of casts them in a whole new light. What once appeared to me as a sweet, docile little songbird now seems to have a cruel, sinister look about its glinty eye and sharp beak. Are we harboring criminals, bloodthirsty beasts of death and destruction, providing them with a headquarters from which to plan their next rampage? I suppose it doesn't really matter since it's illegal to disturb the nests of House Wrens, them being a native species and all. And, still, at least they're not those pesky Starlings. When they had a nest in the eave of the same porch roof their poop accumulated so much it almost caused the interruption of our mail delivery! But, I must say I'm curious to see how our upstart House Wrens do against the Blue Jays--they're the ones I remember attacking nests and baby birds.

I have no pics to share today. I tried to get one of Man-Cub swinging lazily on the glider in the gazebo with my friend's two boys. They just sat out there forever, swinging and chatting, giving each other Indian Burns and Wet Willies. It was adorable but I didn't manage to get a pic before they ran off to think of other clever ways to hurt each other. Their big idea of the day? Throwing those heavy bean bags you use when learning to juggle at each other's bellies as hard as they could. They were very brave, but I could tell they were all hurtin'.

Well, it's off to the salt mines for me. Dinner must be prepared and I don't think I'm going to get a reprieve today so I'd better go beat a pack of chicken into submission.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Remember these?


It seems only four of the eggs hatched; that 5th one must have been a dud. We heard furious peeping upon venturing out to the porch to get the mail one day and were happy to discover the wee things. I tried to get a better, closer pic, but my skillz in photography are far from mad, so this is the best we've got.

I caught Red Headed Snippet sneaking out to the porch for another peek no less than 3 times today. She is trying to catch them with their necks outstretched and beaks open. But so far she has only succeeded in scaring the tail feathers off the Mama and Papa birds. Nature question: do all species of male birds tend faithfully to their young or just some? Because these babies have both Mama and Papa bringing them food and I had never seen that before. Which might simply be because I've never taken an interest in the habits of birds before, but I was just curious. It's very sweet, either way.

I hope these are the kinds of birds that come back year after year once a nest has been successful. I'm thoroughly enjoying sharing my home with them (not like that nasty Starling family we had to evict time and time again--they were dir-tee)!

I think I'll go off and try to find out what kind of bird family we're hosting. I'm guessing finches but I'll let you know when I get the answer. Just try and stay calm until I'm back, okay? I know this is a most riveting business, what kind of birds are they??? America wants to know and I shall not disappoint. Okay, enough, I've irritated myself now. Goodnight.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lazy Summer Days

There's not much new here as we've slipped into our relaxed summer schedule of waking, eating and sleeping pretty much whenever we want. Ah, I love that about summer. I feel it's a necessary part of life: down time. We push the kids along the rest of the year with school, homework, sports, lessons, practices, concerts, etc. It's good for them to have a short part of that year to just relax, refresh and just be.

We visited a home recently that was impressive by most standards; lovely garden, large, expensively furnished rooms, enviable antiques and collectibles. The whole house was a trophy case, despite the family photos, numerous pets and surprisingly thick layers of dust. It tried too hard to seem like one of those gracious, old homes that have been in the family for years, but there was no disguising its young age and new money. I walked through the rooms, admiring many things on my way. But when I came back to where I had started I looked around and realized there was no place to just be. There was no space that called out to me, no nook that drew me close. I didn't long to stay and curl up with a book from the library or linger in the garden, gazing at the flowers.

I realized, that is one of the things I like so much about our house. It's small and has its many flaws, but it's cozy. In most of the house you can just sit and be. The kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, even the shabby living room, all call out, "Come and sit and be." To me, that's what makes a house a home.

We're throwing around a few new project ideas for the fall. Man-Cub's closet needs to be finished. When his room was built he was only 2 so there wasn't a great need for much more than a large cupboard with a door. Now that he's 6 and going into 1st grade I'm finding he's accumulating a lot more clothes that need to be on hangers. I'm hoping we can finish this before school starts, but with funds as low as they are, I just don't know.

We'd also like to do something about the living room. With the kitchen and dining room now to our liking, the poor living room looks shabby and frumpy in comparison. We did get a new sofa and recliner at Christmas and the rest of the furniture is in fine shape, but new paint and window treatments are in order, and we'd really love to refinish the hardwood floor underneath the Berber carpet. But that is a HUGE undertaking that I don't think we'll be ready to deal with for at least another year. Of course, the biggest improvement we'd like to add to that room is a real, wood-burning fireplace. We've been dreaming of putting one in since our first winter here. This house just screams for a fireplace and every Autumn I shake my head in despair that we still don't have one. Sigh. Someday.

So, in absence of other projects to drone on about, I thought I'd share a few recent pics:

The Viking's Black-Eyed Susans have burst forth. I admit, they're not my favorite flowers, but they do bring a cottage look to the flower bed and they're easy to maintain. And they're striking against the picket fence. We'd still like to add a few more perennials along the front of the bed, but we'll just keep picking away at it, little by little.

The flowers in the window boxes have filled in too. The Viking picked the plants for those this year, putting his foot down about the Vinca Vine I had put in them every year up till now. Apparently he cannot abide Vinca Vine and was having none of it this year. In my bratty stubbornness I told him he was on his own then. Didn't he do a nice job?

Finally, an errant sunflower, left over from last year's planting. The Viking had a full-fledged vegetable garden last year that he neglected this year. We have a nice, square plot of weeds protected by chicken wire out there now. But, somehow, this determined little sunflower pushed through. Red Headed Snippet brought it in today and put it in water in a place of honor next to the sink. I have enjoyed looking at it all day today, while washing dishes and rinsing my hands. There's just something...poetic about it that I can't describe.

Well, that's about all I can squeeze out of this day. Our little bird family is doing well. Mama is sitting her eggs and we've been hearing peepings so they've either started to hatch or are about to. The children have been given strict instructions to leave the nest alone, but I've caught them several times terrorizing the poor Mama in their curiosity about the babies. One of them are going to get pecked on the head if they're not careful. If I can get pics of the wee babes with their necks outstretched for yummy worms and beetles, I'll share them.

For tonight, I'm off to iron and mend in front of the tv. Hope there's something good on.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Happy sights

I just thought I'd share a few things that made me smile when I looked at them today.

Sigh. Yes, more about the hydrangeas. I know, I know, enough already! But the kids keep trotting into the house with sweet bunches of them in their fists and I can't help but love them (both children and flowers). And they've been sitting in that cute little pitcher on my dining room table and all I have to do is turn my head slightly to the right to get another restorative view of them. And, somehow, the sight of them makes me happy.

This is a little grapevine teapot that sits on a shelf on our front porch. A few weeks ago a little bird began taking a great interest in it. It dawned on us that there was a nest being built inside it and sure enough...

...5 little speckled eggs. I think it's a Finch's nest, but can't be entirely sure. The bird and her eggs are rather small and I've started to become alarmed that something may have happened to the poor mother as I haven't seen her fluttering around the porch lately and she most definitely isn't sitting on the eggs. The shelf the teapot sits on is right outside our dining room window (just higher than the pitcher of flowers, in fact) and we were hoping for a front row seat to watch the nesting, hatching, feeding and eventual leaving the nest of the little bird family. I'll have to keep close watch.

Well, it's off to the kitchen for me. I have dinner to prepare and quite a bit of tidying to do as everyone has been nibbling quick bites on their way back outside and leaving everything everywhere.

Off to cook and scrub...