Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom

Most of the time, this is how I feel ... 

You probably do, too.

Now go out there today, embrace your sparkly side, and be AWESOME!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Wrens Are in the Greenhouse Again.

Yesterday, I spent a bit of the day by continuing my little-at-a-time approach to reglazing the windows of my greenhouse.  Instead of carrying my stuff back to the house when I was finished, I figured that it would be more efficient to store the tools IN the greenhouse near where I was using them.  As I opened the door and reached to put the stuff onto a shelf, I was startled by Mrs. Carolina Wren ... as she made a bee-line past me and out through the space of a missing window pane on the greenhouse's west wall.

Carolina Wrens often nest in the greenhouse.  This time, their nest is in a one-gallon pot on the shelf by the door (close to where I put my tools).

Grass, straw, twigs, moss, and a few feathers.  Looks comfy and cozy.

It looks like there are at least three eggs in there ... can't tell for sure till I go out with a flashlight to get a better look.

Fortunately, Mrs. Wren isn't too spooked by my comings and goings (which I'm trying to keep to a minimum now).  She leaves the nest when I get too close, but returns soon afterward.  I'm happy that this spring's nest is in such a convenient spot, so I can easily check on the progress of the eggs and the resulting baby birds.

Goes without saying that I will NOT be replacing that particular missing window pane anytime soon.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Whew! What a Week.

Last week was filled with even more responsibilities and activities than normal, if you can believe it ... and most of you already think that I'm the most Energizer Bunny-like person that you know.  Final preparations for the Rose Work Day at Hollywood Cemetery filled almost every available moment, with maps and notes spread all over the dining table and kitchen counter, and my To Do list close by so I didn't forget something important.  

In between all of this, I made time for some fun stuff ... lunch with friends on Thursday and Friday, a day of shopping on Wednesday with our youngest daughter, and a little bit of garden work (a VERY little bit) in my own garden, to help keep me sane and grounded.  

The rose day at Hollywood was yesterday.  Volunteers arrived at 10am.  Instructions were given, teams chosen, assignments handed out, and everyone disbursed into the cemetery to do their thing.  I circulated and checked in on the volunteers as they worked.

This was the only photo that I took all day ... fallen magnolia petals.

Now that this is behind me, I can turn my full attention to my own garden.  Spring arrived overnight, according to the calendar, but my garden thinks that it's here already.  Grass is growing, daffodils are blooming, and my roses are beginning to leaf out.  I am really excited to get to my pruning, to put the roses into their best shape for their big show in May.

(Speaking of roses ... Save the date:  Open Garden this year will be on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016.)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Sure Sign of Spring

House Finches are trying to build a nest in the wreath on our front door.  Alice and Dorothy brought this to my attention earlier this morning.

I will be taking down the wreath today.  It isn't the cozy nesting spot that the birds think it is.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What I Did Last Week

According to the calendar, spring is near.  Weather-wise last week, spring was very evident ... temperatures far above average, with light breezes, some cloudy days and some sunny days.  You will not be surprised when I tell you that I spent a good part of the week doing things outdoors.

1.  At this time of year, my main focus is on my responsibilities as the manager of the rose collection at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.  (Our rose volunteer day is March 19, six days from today.)  In February and early March, I use whatever nice days we have to go to the cemetery to visit all of the roses to assess their condition and to note make notes about what work they need.  As of now, all of the roses have been evaluated, and their location is verified on the cemetery map.  All that's left to do is to type up my notes and turn them into instructions for each volunteer team next Saturday.

Dorothy was helping me work on the map.

2.  Last weekend, I attended the American Rose Society Colonial District Pre-Spring Meeting.  I love having the opportunity to get away to be with my rose peeps, to listen and learn at the presentations, and to catch up with friends.  During one of the breaks, I was approached by the District Director and asked if he could appoint me to be the Old Garden Rose Chair for the District.  I agreed ... the appointment was made ... and now we'll see exactly what this position entails.  I'm pretty excited about it.

3.  On the way home from the rose meeting, I stopped by one of my favorite stores, Old Covesville Store on Route 29 south of Charlottesville.  There are always amazing and wonderful things in there for sale.  On this trip, I spotted a large Steiff tiger that is similar to a smaller one that I had when I was a child.  No hesitation ... I scooped that tiger up and happily brought him home with me.

Here he was in the store.

and on the seat of my car.

4.  I have known for a while that the windows of my greenhouse needed some work.  The glazing compound in most of them is dry and cracked, and largely missing on some of the windows.  (This can be the downside of using salvaged windows for a project.)  This winter, as some of the window panes began to fall out, I knew that the job of reglazing the windows needed to be pushed to the top of my list.  Turns out, when these windows were made in the 1960s, the manufacturer only used glazing compound to hold in the glass ... without glazing points to mechanically pin the panes into place.  

The only way to finish a project is to get started, and I did just that on Wednesday.  It takes me about an hour to do one window ... to scrape out the old glazing compound, reset the glass, and put down the new glazing compound.  This is a project that I will work on a little at a time.  Hopefully, by the end of summer, I will have most of the 46 windows done.  (My REAL dream is to finally have the greenhouse glazed, sided and trimmed, and painted by fall.)

Not perfect, but good enough.  I will scrape and prime the windows once the glazing compound cures.

I saw this reflection as I was working.

5.  My other outside project is the reclamation of the Rambler Fence.  It's the same situation as the rest of my gardens, where weeds sprouted in unnatural concentrations and took over in what seemed like the blink of an eye.  With the Ramblers, there was the added complication of their rampant growth ... and they became hay stacks on the fence while my attention was elsewhere for the past couple of years.

Little by little, I have been cutting back the Ramblers and training what remains onto their wires on the fence.  They are small and kind of pitiful right now.  I have also dug out a couple of duplicate Ramblers, and one that had Rose Rosette Disease last year, and replaced them with ones from my stock pile of pots.

When I originally designed this garden in 2007, I planted Tea roses between and in front of the Ramblers.  Some Tea roses can be a bit winter tender ... the winters of 2013 and 2014 were brutal and losses to these roses were catastrophic.  Instead of lamenting their loss, I see this as an opportunity and space to plant eight new roses in the empty spots.

Ramblers cut back, dead Tea roses dug up, and the beginnings of landscape fabric laid in this part of the garden.

Yesterday, I finished the landscape fabric and laid mulch around the roses themselves.  I have to get more mulch in order to finish ... which should happen over the course of the next week.

6.  With nice weather comes convertible season!  I was out in my Mustang twice last week, practicing with its new stick shift.  I'm getting much better at it ... and I almost don't panic if I have to stop and then pull out on an incline.

I have been using the uphill part of our long driveway to practice.

All in all, it was a VERY good week.  How about you ... what have you been up to?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Past and the Present at Dunbar's Kitchen

I was surfing around on eBay recently, and I typed "Stafford Virginia" into the search bar ... just to see what may be out there for sale from around here.  One of the items in the search results was a print of this photo:

This location was described as "Old Dunbar's Quarters, Falmouth, Virginia"

As I looked at the photo, I knew that this little building was familiar ... and I wracked my brain to try to place it.  All of the sudden, I remembered.  It is a photo of Dunbar's Kitchen (not Quarters, as in the description) and the white manor house on the hill in the background is Carlton.

You can't see Carlton up on the hill anymore because it is hidden in the trees.

A bit of Googling led me to the Library of Congress site that has the digital files of the original photos, which were taken in the late 1920s by Frances Benjamin Johnston as part of the Carnegie Survey of the South.


I have always been drawn to this little building, even in its now-unfortunate site and ratty state.

Tens of thousands of people in cars pass by this little building every day ... I wonder how many of them notice it.  The state has just completed a major reworking of the adjacent intersection, demolishing buildings on three of the four corners to add turn lanes and to better handle the massive amount of traffic.  

The current Google Maps image shows the road construction, which is finished now.  This situation is actually an improvement from earlier, when Dunbar's Kitchen was an afterthought, and probably an annoyance, behind a car dealership (which was demolished to make way for the road improvements).  The disturbed areas and construction materials you see on the aerial photo are gone, replaced by grass and landscaping.

Dunbar's Kitchen is at the bottom of the map, the Carlton is on the upper left, as indicated by my arrows.

In my Googling, I also found this drawing of the front elevation:

A lot has changed for Dunbar's Kitchen since Frances Benjamin Johnston took her lovely B&W images in the late 1920s.  I did see one seemingly insignificant thing that remains in front of the building.

I wonder if the front garden had two gates, one in the front and one on the side, or if this side gate was moved to the front?

As far as I know, Dunbar's Kitchen is unoccupied, and has been for as long as I can remember, but someone keeps it up fairly well.  The grass is always mowed and the structures on the property are kept in relatively good repair.  

To read a little bit about Robert Dunbar, click HERE.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Photo Dump

I have some photos in my blog file on this computer that I have been holding onto, waiting to find inspiration to work them into blog posts ... inspiration has been elusive.  I just got the idea to lump them all together into one post.  No rhyme or reason, just little slices of life and images that I was fortunate to catch in the moment.

1.  Last month, I saw a link to the Sotheby's web site with the online catalog for the estate auction of the Duchess of Devonshire.  I was so impressed by the first few pages of the catalog on my iPad that I clicked over to their online store and ordered a hard copy to savor and to have forever.  The auction was on March 2.  Click HERE for a gallery of items and results.

The portrait of the Duchess on the cover of the catalog tells me that she must have been a very unique person.  Carefully staged with ancestral portraits, sculpture, formal gown, jeweled tiara ... and flopped-out sleeping dogs.  Love it!

2.  Here is an example of what water can do when it freezes.  This antique soft-fired brick (or what's left of it) is laying near the outlet for our rain gutter, so it was saturated.  Repeated cycles of winter weather freezing and thawing completely blew it apart.  This is the power of science in action.

3.  Early in the morning, I regularly run out to the front porch with my camera or phone or iPad to try to capture colorful sunrises when I see them.  This was one of the prettiest, and I was lucky that my photo captured it nicely.

4.  I snapped this photo of Ruby the other day.  I was reading, and she was in a sunshine spot at the other end of the sofa, sound asleep.

Yes, she was snoring.

5.  While Ruby was snoozing, Dorothy was behind me on her rug in the windowsill watching birds.

6.  This is my most recent awesome thrift store purchase.  Our grandson and I went to Salvation Army last week with a load of stuff to donate, and we cruised through the store to see what we could find.  At $3, this cordless electric wine opener was worth taking a chance on.  Plugged it in and charged it overnight, and found that it works perfectly!

7.  In winter, this girl's attention turns to boots.  These are my newest.  An ad for them popped up on someone's sidebar last week, and I loved them instantly.  I went to the Country Outfitter site, the boots were on sale with free shipping, saw overwhelming favorable reviews ... add to cart ... click!  They arrived yesterday, just in time to bring them along with me to this weekend's American Rose Society Colonial District Spring Meeting.  I love them even more in person, and they are really, really comfy.

It's easy to capture little moments as they happen, with a camera phone in my purse or pocket, or an iPad at arm's length most of the time.  I get the feeling that the Photo Dump, as an easy way to share, may become a regular theme around here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How to Give Alice a Pill

I used to think that I was practically a pro at pilling cats.  All of our cats, past and present, have had times when they have to take medicine in the form of a pill ... and I have always had no problem opening up their little mouths and stuffing in the pill ... until it became necessary to pill Alice.

A few months ago, I noticed that Alice was losing the fur on her tummy, tail, and back legs.  A quick Google search told me that this is usually caused by an allergy.  Her vet and I decided to see if a daily dose of antihistamine would give her relief.  (5mg of Zyrtec)

Alice is the most tolerant, easy going cat that we have ever had.  I can do almost anything to her ... pick her up, throw her over my shoulder, wad her up like a baby in my arms, carry her under my arm like a football ... she purrs and is totally relaxed.  This is why I was so surprised to find that giving her a pill turned into a battle royal.

That first day, each time I tried to open her mouth to give her the pill, she hissed and fought and snarled and bit, and it was awful.  I thought about using a pill-popper device, but I doubted that I could get that into her mouth either.  There had to be a better way.  I have used Pill Pockets in the past for dog pills ... perhaps this would work with Alice.  (Just so you know, the pill has little to no taste, so it wasn't the flavor of it that was the problem.)

This is what I do now to get Alice to take her pill ... no fighting, no hissing, no trauma.

A whole Pill Pocket is too large for Alice's little half a pill ...

... so I break it in half ...

... and mold one of the halves around the pill.

I place the concealed pill on top of her little bit of morning wet cat food ...

... and I cover it with a little glob of cat food juice, to make it extra tempting and tasty ...

... and Alice eats it all up without any fuss. 

In this picture, you can't see that Alice's back legs look like little naked chicken legs.

For some cats, giving the little pill-in-the-pill-pocket like a treat may work.  It didn't with Alice.  She sniffed it and walked away ... and Dorothy raced over to try to get it for herself.  (Jealous sister thing, I imagine.)

Early results seem to indicate that this may be working.  Alice has been getting her little Zyrtec every day for about three weeks, and it looks to me like her fur is beginning to fill back in.  She definitely seems to be a lot less itchy.  (I have wracked my brain, trying to think of anything in Alice's environment that has changed and that she is reacting to.  There's nothing.  Same food, both canned and wet food, same laundry products for things around the house ... I can't think of anything that's different.  All I can think is that this may be a new sensitivity to something.)

Anyway, this post isn't about Alice's allergy, it's about how I give pills to her.  I put this out there to be helpful, in case you or someone you know finds yourself in the same situation that I was in, with a cat who totally refuses to cooperate and take a pill.

Related Posts with Thumbnails