Thursday, March 28, 2013

'What day is it?' asked Pooh. 'It's today,' squeaked Piglet. 'My favorite day,' said Pooh.

Monday and Tuesday were so raw and blustery that my body craved decedent dark chocolate cake with two inches of rich fluffy frosting.  Temperatures struggled to reach the high thirties. After the 70-degree tease a few weekends ago, we removed the kindling and starter wood from the hearth and carried the stacked logs from the porch back down to the wood pile below.  Monday and Tuesday  gusts of heavy snow followed by calm blue sky and sunshine interrupted by more gusts of snow made us wonder if spring is being delayed.  What does Punxsutawney Phil know anyhow? 

Yesterday I put two hummingbird feeders out in anticipation of our returning hummingbirds.  The site I use to track their journey here posted hummingbird sightings on March 25 at the Tennessee/Alabama border and in north Georgia.  They could arrive anytime or those traveling to a more northern destination  may need to rest and fuel up before moving on.  The feeders have to come in at night as the temperatures are still unusually cold dipping into the twenties.  Now we'll be keeping a vigilant eye out for tiny iridescent bodies with wings that beat 38-78 times per second. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I've never been witness to a small creature of the wild taking its last breath.  This morning while washing out my coffee pot at the kitchen sink, the ailing sparrow chose the pie plate feeder where it was safe from predators to gently lie down and take the last breath.  I've decided that when my time comes, there is no better way to bid adieu than being surrounded by people and things that bring comfort and pleasure.  I don't want to choke to death, but a picturesque winery surround by oak barrels of aging wine, a long-stemmed glass with a mellow Cabernet in my right hand,  Gouda cheese, homemade bread, and family should be my last hurrah........................

Friday, March 22, 2013

Signs of spring....................

..............traffic picking up on the 4-lane (tourist season returns), motorcycles heading to "The Dragon" (318 curves in 11 minutes) or the gently winding road that with curves through the Nantahala Forest, hummingbird feeders popping up on the shelves at local hardware stores, while yellow and white daffodils and jonquils burst open along the road and throughout the forest.  I've been checking the hummingbird reporting site to follow their progress up the Florida panhandle toward western NC.  Not many reported sightings yet but my feeders are clean and ready to nourish those weary little visitors when they arrive.

This is Gerry Atric.  It visits our feeders daily, especially this make-shift pie-tin feeder that hangs at my kitchen window.  This old sparrow looks disheveled.  It doesn't preen itself.  Feathers go every which way and it's always puffed up with a very poor posture.  The old bird sits for hours nibbling and rarely allows any other birds to feed at the same time.
The titmice and the chickadees stage on the wrought iron hook above the feeder and on the window screen waiting for the right moment to dive down, grab a peanut or pistachio nut, and make a quick escape before the old codger gets defensive with them. 
The only bird that can land at the feeder without catching geriatric wrath is the awesome cardinal.
No birds mess with the cardinals.  
I just happened to be at the kitchen window with my iphone snapping a picture of the old bedraggled  bird, when the cardinal arrived.  It's difficult to get close-ups of the beautiful redbirds because they are very cautious and fly away at the slightest motion.  While the cardinal feasted, the old sparrow never moved.  We are so amused  by the avian antics observed here.  These silly birds have such personalities.  When I go outside and approach the geriatric sparrow, it waits until I am about two feet away before it flees.  It reminds us of a crotchety old person who has been let out of the nursing home on the senior bus to go to a buffet. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Last week we found we had a four-day window on the South Carolina coast that appeared to be showing pleasant weather, sunny and in the high 50's.  Originally, we had planned to visit Panama  City, Florida and leave the dreary gloomy wet weather behind for a few days, walk the beach, and eat seafood.  But many of the rain systems were coming up from the Gulf Coast, over the Florida panhandle, straight to East Tennessee/Western North Carolina.  Cliff is enrolled in continuing education classes for his medical responder so when we found a window of sunny clear weather and no classes, we packed suitcases and headed out route 26 to the South Carolina Coast.  The day before, I had the very important task of researching some restaurants that we might want to try and some sights to see.  I listed about a dozen with various foods from Greek cuisines to Irish Pubs.  At the hotel, any restaurant brochure that included a $5 off coupon was a winner.  We collected sight-seeing brochures and after eating in the Irish Pub the first night (with our $5 off coupon), Cliff programmed the first tourist stop in his TomTom.
 Wish I could bring this place back to Murphy with me.  The pub was laid-back, great food, friendly servers, a comical bar-tender, and the price was right.  Cliff had the Shepard's pie and I ordered corn-beef and cabbage with a nice Cabernet.  Traffic downtown is bumper-to-bumper so once we parked in the garage, we walked everywhere.

Thank goodness for TomTom Smart Girl, TTSG.  She got us to out our destinations with no problems. 

At Boone Plantation we did the mansion tour, Slave Street, and the Gullah presentation.
Three hundred years ago  these trees were strategically planted so that at maturity their branches would form a canopy along the drive to the mansion.
 The heavy tourist season begins in a few weeks when everything is in bloom.  Our timing was perfect for us because our tour of the house had a small group and was more enjoyable.
Slave Street contained nine small brick slave structures that housed as many as 16 people at a time.  They ate, slept, and lived in these tight quarters.
The woman who made these crafts was sitting in the slave house designing a basket.  She told me the more intricate ones take about three weeks to complete.  These baskets on the table cost anywhere from $100-$375.  Her work was perfect.  She said many of the women have done this craft since childhood.

Each slave house related some slave ways of life and their daily activities.
The Gullah are descendants of enslaved Africans.  They are a unique culture with a language of their own.  She sang songs and invited participants to help her act out  Bre'r Rabbit and told us stories of her childhood.

I found this an architecturally fascinating bridge.  From a distance it appeared to be strung with "delicate" cables, but as we approached and drove over, the magnitude of the cables became apparent.

We can understand why so many people have chosen to live in this area.  Charleston has everything you could ask for.  The weather is beautiful.  It has enough restaurants that you could eat out daily and still not hit everyone.  People of all ages walk, run, and enjoy the outside.  It's a nice place to visit, but too crowded for us.  We were told that many Floridians are now moving to Charleston.

Patriots Point
Aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriot's Point
Windy day.  We walked all over the carrier on every floor.  I find the carriers to be awesome because pilots had to land their planes on the deck and be stopped by huge cables without going off the other side into the ocean. Then the planes were quickly moved and the wings folded up so they could fit them all in a designated area.
The bridge seen from the carrier deck.
Cliff toured the submarine as I stayed on the pier and waited.  Too claustrophobic for me.
It was a nice get away for a few days.  We're glad we went and will visit Charleston again someday.  After bumper-to-bumper traffic and traffic lights every 50 feet, we were glad to see our Welcome to Murphy sign again where rush-hour is sometimes a dozen cars at once on the four-lane. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I have some pictures to post but still trying to figure out how to get the pictures from my iphone into the computer.  so for now this site is under new construction and has many roadblocks.