Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Miss Chloe: The Grande Dame of Culture and Civility

Miss Chloe enjoys the finer things in life...an opera perhaps?
(Click picture to enlarge)

"No tame animal has lost less of its native dignity or maintained more of its ancient reserve." ~ William Conway

Miss Chloe is almost 16 years old. She has been a faithful and loving companion since arriving in our home when she was but 8 weeks old. Always reserved, impeccably groomed and with unswerving attention to detail in her appearance and the placement of both tail and feet, she is the "Grand Dame of Culture and Civility". Even when bombarded with the chaos of wrestling kittens, the mournful meowing of a cat with questionable sanity (Rhett) and the grumpy growling of her failing aged sister...she maintains her dignity and poise.

One must always make time in one's day for a long, nap in the sun. Posted by Picasa

These days, she is very thin and walks a bit stiffly and her appetite wanes. She has a more select palate and has to be gently prodded to finish her food. She has mild kidney failure at this point but won't touch the special diet.. so she gets what she wants.. Fancy Feast Turkey and Giblets feast.. ground more finely so it will set well on her stomach. I think she misses snuggling up with her sister Clover, who passed away last October and she is more restless while in the house, walking all around the rooms and back to the door. Now she prefers the soft bean bag chair next to the heater in the garage... I think she feels safe here. And even though her legs are a bit stiff and her body aging, she still maintains that dignified air of royalty........long live Queen Chloe.

Miss Chloe gets to visit today over at Cats on Tuesday. She is old and frail, but she still likes to see the kitties she has grown to know these last few years on Friday's Ark and at the Carnival of the Cats. The carnival is hosted by No Cats Allowed this week.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Freedom Flies

Freedom and flight.... (Click to enlarge) Posted by Picasa

"He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all" ~ Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull)

If you could keep these little thieves from trying to steal your sandwich and if you could see them with the surround sound..."mine, mine, mine, mine"...turned off....and if you could just sit back and watch in silence as they soar and dive through the air... so soft and easy and smooth...it would be like this. A snapshot... a frozen moment of time....how free to be a bird and watch the small little ants below that are men. What they must think of us!

Shutterday theme this week is "Bird is the Word".

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Six Hands And A Purrrrfect Surprise

Working hands .... Nyssa's hair in KP's hands.
(Click pictures for larger views)

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist." ~ Louis Nizer

KP is the best... the very best hairdresser we have ever been to... in all the years we have been going.. in all the states we have lived... she is the absolute best! KP can do more just with her hands than most hairdressers can do with combs, brushes, hot irons, curlers and other instruments. If you ever need a hair magician in Virginia Beach... let me know!

Karen and Emily... loving hands of mother and child.

"Who takes the child by the hand takes the mother by the heart"
~ Danish Proverb

Nothing can replace the loving hands of a wonderful mother or the soft and trusting hands of a small child. The love in these hands remains for all time.

Crazy hands...Nyssa and Uncle Stephen

"The world's a roller coaster and I am not strapped in.
Maybe I should hold with care, but my hands are busy in the air."
~ Brandon Boyd

No better time than to go crazy with the hand gestures... a 21st birthday celebration. These two are always nuts when they get together... it is hard to tell who laughs the most or makes the most contorted facial expressions. And for me, it is hard to believe that this crazy, strange and wonderful child is almost 23 and off on her own. Come home soon, Nyssa!

Talented hands.... Nyssa tickles the ivories.

"The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and who take the risk of living out their dreams - each according to his or her own talent." ~ Paulo Coelho

Talent and hard work combine to make beautiful music. Nyssa took piano lessons for fourteen years, until hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather phenomenon became more important for her life's work. Yet, she will always have this to fall back on. Nothing is more relaxing or comforting than to sit and listen to the beautiful melodies that these hands make as they glide across the keys.

Messy hands ... Nyssa making her famous cherry pie.

"Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face, and then reach for the stars." ~ Ben Stein

These are the hands of a want-to-be cook... she pitted her own cherries.. just look at those stained hands. It is a great pie.. but probably better suited for the regular sour cherries (with lots of sweetener) rather than the sweet bing cherries. Now she has to cook on her own, for herself. But she has the genes... both her great-grandmother and her grandmother are wonderful cooks. Her mom? Well, let's just say that some genetic traits skip a generation once in a while... and it did here too.

Hands, discovering the past...

"To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour." ~ William Blake

Smooth, glistening, a fossil shell preserved in stone for all time. What we can learn with our hands....the sense of touch, often passed over by sight and sound, yet so very important.

A hand from the shadows......OK...so it's a paw.. Posted by Picasa

"The cat is the animal to whom the Creator gave the biggest eye, the softest fur, the most supremely delicate nostrils, a mobile ear, an unrivaled paw and a curved claw borrowed from the rose-tree." ~ Sidonie Gabrielle

Yes, it is a cat paw and yes, there is a cat attached; she is just hiding in the shadow of the kitty condo. While it isn't a "hand" in the strictest sense.. it is as close as the cat has.... and what is softer than the patting of a tiny cat paw against your nose early in the morning? Nothing.

Saturday Photo Hunt this week is....."HANDS"...of course! Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daisy Takes Center Stage

May the force be with you.... Yoda
(Click pictures to enlarge)

"Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don't even know we have." ~ Thom Jones

Daisy is concerned that she hasn't had much face time on the blog. We picked out these pictures together... Soon after she arrived here at her "forever" home, we had a significant coastal storm... not really a tropical storm but not the typical winter nor'easter. The winds were up there and it was humid. In between the rain I took her out to do her "business" and she was really not impressed with the wind at all. When she stood with her back to it.. she had a hard time standing still; but the results when she stood facing into the wind was priceless. Her floppy ears flew up and out in the wind and made for this "Yoda" impersonation!

Peek-a-boo... I see you in there.

Daisy likes to have company when she is outside, which is fine... except when it is cold and the wind is penetrating and when she decides to make her tour around the back yard next to the fence... she has to make sure everything is OK! Sometimes I have to go ahead and shut the door... then, soon, there she is at the back door.. her nose stuck up against the glass with this smile on her face... "Let me in now!"

"Are we playing hide and go seek or tag, Mr Rhett?" Posted by Picasa

Daisy had her first real cocker cut just before Christmas and they did a really good job. She knew she was beautiful. Mr. Rhett, her cat buddy, wasn't impressed. Of course, he is never impressed... by anything. Here he was slowly climbing up on to the loveseat and trying to sneak up on her from behind. Daisy knew this and simply pretended to ignore him. Oh, the games these two play... or try to play.

Daisy wants to see the other dogs that are aboard Friday's Ark. She knows there are always more cats there.... but she loves cats too. See you there.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Miss Scarlett: Just Staring

Miss Scarlett: Checking out the tub. (Click picture to enlarge) Posted by Picasa

"Cat Rule #7:
Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything. Just sit and stare." ~ Unknown

"Looks like I caught you, Scarlett. What are you up to now? You do know that I used that shower just about an hour ago, so the tub is still wet! Would you like to take a bath? No? Well, then, could you please get out of the tub and.... well, leave the room? You know how YOU hate having someone watch you when nature calls you to the litterbox! So, go on... move... scat... SIGH...ok...you may stay.... just PLEASE STOP STARING!

Better yet, why don't you go on over to Gattina's and see who is at Cats on Tuesday? It has been so long, they've probably forgotten who you are. Don't scare anyone with those eyes though!"

Update 3/27/09: Miss Scarlett had a diva attack... minus the green ball gown. She doesn't see why she can't visit the other cats at Friday's Ark... especially since everyone loves a party! And the Carnival of the Cats this week is at Three Tabby Cats in Vienna. Vienna... isn't that where Uncle Stephen lives?

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday Photo Hunt: Here Comes The Sun

Pale yellow rose... symbol of friendship and freedom.
(Click pictures to enlarge)

"The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart." ~ Author Unknown

The sun is shining and the sky is blue, even though it is still cold on this second day of spring. After last weekend's marathon rain event and another overnight rain fest on Thursday, it is good to see the bright yellow sun... and what a great theme for the first weekend of a new season.

Pansy - loving thoughts of thee

"They are all in the lily-bed, cuddled close together--
Purple, Yellow-cap, and little Baby-blue;
How they ever got there you must ask the April weather,
The morning and the evening winds, the sunshine and the dew."
~ Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortissoz, Vagrant Pansies

Our pansies bloom all winter but it is only with spring that they seem to energize and really come into their own. All too soon it is time to replace them with the summer begonias.... there must be a perennial pansy out there some where. White's nursery is having their Spring Fling sale today... perhaps I should go!

Sunflower - adoration of the sun

"Space for the sunflower, bright with yellow glow,
To court the sky."
~ Caroline Gilman, To the Ursulines

One of the most beautiful sights in Italy are the fields of giant sunflowers that spread for miles with a small tile-roofed shed providing the occasional contrast. The flower heads are always lined up with faces to the sun, no matter the time of day... not that IS adoration!

Yellow rose - joy and gladness

"A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow rose was to him.
And it was nothing more."
~ William Wordsworth

This rose was in my flowerbed... a find at the White's Nursery last year.. called the table rose. It thrived in this swampy clay soil and bloomed well into November. I cut it back when they recommended and now we shall soon see what blooms come forth this year. One can never have too many roses.

Double yellow tulips - there is sunshine in your smile Posted by Picasa

"It is the color closest to light. In its utmost purity it always implies the nature of brightness and has a cheerful, serene, gently stimulating character. Hence, experience teaches us that yellow makes a thoroughly warm and comforting impression." ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Because I take too many pictures of birds and flowers and because I couldn't choose my favorite one and because I know that Vicki's favorite color is yellow and because we all need a little sunshine in our day... these are my entry for this week's Saturday Photo Hunt theme Yellow.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Hairballs In The Making

Nicky...... (Click to enlarge)

"I gave my cat a bath the other day.....
The fur kind of stuck to my tongue." ~ Steve Martin

Scarlett.... hard to reach that tummy!

Maggie.... trying to get to that long leg!

Mr. Rhett.... keeping each hair in place. Posted by Picasa

My cats spend at least a third of their waking lives primping... primping but with no place to go! All that grooming, makes me wonder if their little pink tongues ever get stuck on all that hair. I do know that my attempts to help them with the brush and comb is usually met with a look of disdain and, when I'm finished and all mats are removed and hairs in place... they scowl and begin to comb themselves all over again as if to say, "you really don't know what you're doing there." And what do I see in this? Another hairball in the making.

Hey kids, why don't you go on over to Friday's Ark and hack up your hairballs on their rug..... or head on over to the Carnival of the Cats and see if your friends have a better way to fix their fur.... it's at When Cats Attack this Sunday.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nectar Of The Gods

Ahhhhhhh...coffee...I like a little with my cream.
(Click picture to enlarge)

"Caffeine is my shepherd; I shall not doze.
It maketh me to wake in green pastures:
It leadeth me beyond the sleeping masses.
It restoreth my buzz:
It leadeth me in the paths of consciousness for its name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of addiction,
I will fear no Equal™:
For thou art with me; thy cream and thy sugar they comfort me.
Thou preparest a carafe before me in the presence of The Starbucks:
Thou anointest my day with pep; my mug runneth over
(when I heat in the microwave too long).
Surely richness and taste shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the House of Mochas forever."
~ Author Unknown

There is nothing like that smell of coffee in the morning.... I came to the way of coffee late in life... at least compared to my brother. I was almost 48 before I developed the taste for what Stephen calls "the nectar of the gods"; and then it was only because I found a local coffee shop that served a heavenly thing called .... "today's flavored coffee" and the day I first tried it, the flavor was.. "creme brulee". I was hooked. Then I found that you could buy the flavored coffee beans and have it at home. Stephen was a child addict. He started pilfering Mom's leftover morning coffee when he was only four or five... when no one was looking. Now, no one dares look at him before that first... or second cup in the morning!

We didn't have a Starbucks in Columbus, Mississippi... in fact, they still don't have one... but when I found it here in Virginia, the "venti white chocolate mocha with a shot of amaretto" became my comfort. Nyssa gave me a gift certificate to Starbucks a couple of Christmases ago and the credit card had my order on the front.... a venti white chocolate mocha with amaretto..... one month later, Starbucks discontinued the amaretto (almond) flavor. I finished out my gift and haven't gone back.

But I have found two online coffee bean providers that have delightful flavored coffee in both decaf and regular. I know the caffeine is not supposed to be good for you but someone once said that "drinking decaf coffee is like kissing your sister".... the caffeine doesn't keep me awake and there are many more other things to make my blood pressure go up these days.. MSNBC is the biggest offender... I avoid that nasty biased network at all times. Just looking at this beautiful creamy liquid makes me calm down considerably.....

I know the purists want only untainted, pristine, dark, black coffee... but not me... leave room for the cream, please!

Carmi's theme for the week is "drinks" and for me, this is as strong as it gets.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Orange You Glad Your Room Isn't This Color?

Chrysanthemum... orange in the garden.
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"Orange is the happiest color." ~ Frank Sinatra

Only once growing up did I have the chance to actually pick the color of my room. Even then it was more out of courtesy rather than practical, as I was already in college and would be home on holidays or in the summer; and then for only a couple of years. But, I did get to choose. Now, you have to remember that this was the early 70's and it was the time of large flowery prints on wall paper and shag carpets and I was only 17. So, for my attic room I chose orange.... this shade of orange... bright.... very bright...what was she thinking bright! It went so well with the pop art flowered bedspread in orange, bright yellow and lime green as well as the yellow and lime shag throw rugs. Of course taste changes... favorite colors wax and wane..... and....

I wonder what happened to that bedspread?

I am returning to Shutterday this week... the theme... Orange.

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Saturday Photo Hunt: Four For Fun

Four petals......red dogwood. (Click pictures for larger view)

"Four things come not back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life and the neglected opportunity." ~ Proverb

Four friends....college graduates all!

"Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently." ~ William Arthur Ward

Four mallards... three males, one female... can Spring be far behind?

"Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing:
What a little thing
To remember for years -
To remember with tears!"
~ William Allingham (Irish Poet. 1824-1889)

Four fence finials.... Colonial Williamsburg

"Four things for success: Work and pray, think and believe." ~ Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

Four loungers at the beach.... ready for opening day! Posted by Picasa

"I don't know what you could say about a day in which you have seen four beautiful sunsets." ~ John Glenn

It has been a very, very long time since I had the energy and inspiration to join in a Saturday Photo Hunt.... today is the day to return. It is raining and cold... but a nice soaking rain that will do the earth the most good. No storms, no snow, no wind, no lightening, no hail... just constant gentle rain. To bad I still have to go out in it for just a bit... those pesky trips to Walmart after all.

I loved all these examples of the number "four". The dogwood are not blooming quite yet... soon, though. The birds and ducks are trying to pair off and I notice that the goldfinch are beginning their color change for mating season. Spring is definitely in the air.... soon.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Birds At My Feeder.... More Woodpeckers Please!

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) female

"If only, if only," the woodpecker sighs,
"The bark on the tree was as soft as the skies."
While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely,
Crying to the moo-oo-oon,
"If only, If only."
~ Louis Sachar (Holes)

In Mississippi, our most common woodpecker was the Red-headed variety with dark black-capped wings and a full red head. I have seen one here in Virginia as well, but didn't have the camera at hand. The variety pictured above is larger than the small 6 inch downy woodpecker, averaging about 9 inches in length. The distinct "zebra" striped wings and the patches of red on the head and above the bill are indicative of the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). There is a touch of red on the belly, but not as massive as one would expect with the name. This bird is a female with her gray crown. The male would be similar but his red crown feathers give a mowhawk effect.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) female

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) female

One day I glanced out the window and saw this large light brown bird with golden yellow tail feathers and the most beautiful black markings on its chest and belly. This was one of the largest birds I had seen at our feeder and the most beautiful. Another woodpecker variety; the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) that averages 12 inches in length. This is the female as males have a black moustache that angles down to the neck from the bill.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) female

These birds love the platform feeder and occasionally feed on the ground, but most often head directly for the suet. It is fascinating to watch them feed. Their long, sharp bills peck deep into the suet and then this pink tongue flecks out to grab up the nuts and corn pieces. The tongue is more visible than that of other birds and the motion reminds me of a snake tongue.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) female Posted by Picasa

Isn't she gorgeous? I may have a picture of the male still on my memory card. Last week I captured both the male and female visiting our feeder. By the way, if you can see those pale lines streaking across the background.... that was our snow for the year!

Birds at my feeder... will continue.... but for now...
these birds decided to visit Friday's Ark... the cats have taken a ride but this is a first for the birds....

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Wilda & Woody, Woodpeckers We

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus),
female without the red moustache of the male.

"Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts" ~ Coleman Cox

There it goes again.
It's loud, a little to my left.
A large sound... should be from a large bird. Oh! There he is! Hello, Woody or rather... Wilda (this one is a female)!

I love the woodpecker rhythm, as long as his performance site doesn't include the house. Fortunately, they have a variety of trees in the preserve to drum on; some dead, broken and hollow while others are fully alive and will soon bud. This lady, a female Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), looks a lot like the bird in Beverly's neck of the woods. She doesn't come to the feeder and it is just as well... she'd overwhelm the place.

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) female

Downy Woodpecker... male Posted by Picasa

The small downy woodpeckers love the suet feeders and are petite enough to navigate through the squirrel cage at the tube feeder with the finches feeding on the sunflower chips. The female lacks the small patch of red as seen on the male's head. This is one of the most abundant and widespread woodpecker species in the state. Winter or summer, we have them.

On our coldest day this week, I counted at least sixteen different varieties of birds at our feeder, even some who rarely get closer than the back fence. This may become a themed series... "Birds At My Feeder"? Hmm... yes, perhaps!

So..... to be continued.

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PS: The woodpeckers wanted to visit Friday's Ark this week... I told them to be careful around the cats...