Tuesday, May 24, 2022

SQUIRREL TALK...SHE WANTS TO KNOW YOU KNOW...

I am being my usual cheeky self and eating my way through all the birdseed, though the starlings are giving me a run for my money.  There aren't as many grackles as there used to be though.  I am thankful for small mercies!  

Mrs. doesn't mind as she knows I have babies to feed.  There are young ones coming around now.  They haven't quite figured out how to jump up to the hanging feeder yet.  They are still very small.  I am not going to teach them until they get a bit bigger and stronger.  

When that happens you will be hearing the laughter coming from inside.  Mr. and Mrs. love our antics.  I hear them saying that all the time, especially when we slide from the top to the bottom of the pole like it is greased.  I did that the other day but that didn't stop me.  If you don't succeed the first time as the old saying goes.  I took a running jump, grabbed onto the basket, swung on the end like a trapeze artist (I looked marvelous though I say it myself), triple-flipped over and somersaulted to the rail as I tipped all the seed on the ground.  Easier to get to that way, and the other birds like it too as it scatters everywhere and is easier for them to eat off the ground.  I am practicing kindness in helping my fellow birdseed eaters.  I didn't mind Mrs. laughing at me.  Just keep putting the birdseed out here I say and keep me fed, and they do.

As nice as they are, they gave me a fright the other day.  I looked inside the house and saw big eyes staring at me.  I thought it was an owl!  Mrs. said not to worry as now they both have what she calls binoculars, to try and identify the birds they haven't seen before.  They did look scary, at least the Mr. did! 

No, not that big for Mrs!

Not that big either, itsy bitsy ones that Mrs. can take with her to look for birds when they go to the park.  Well, you get the idea.  Mr. has a pair that is about as big as that first photo.  He bought them years ago before they got married and gets them out when Mrs. says she wishes she had a pair of binoculars, to which he always says, we already have a pair and gives her the old ones.  Mrs. again tells him she can't use them, they make her wrists ache.  Mr. knows she loves to look at us all out here, so he bought her a tiny pair last week.  She loves them and loves Mr. for being so thoughtful.  I am getting used to the big eyes (Mr.'s), now that I know it's not a big owl and Mrs. whose big eyes aren't quite as big.

I stayed away for a day as three big strong men came with saws and shovels.  They made a lot of noise trimming the trees and bushes around the house, and my family and I stayed up in our nest until they left.  

Mrs. said they did a great job.  She and the Mr. need help in the garden and they were very happy that the men also planted flowers in the front of the house when asked.  It looks very nice but Mr. came inside a few hours later and told Mrs. that squirrels had already been digging in the mulch to get at their buried acorns...it wasn't me I told her.  Mrs. wasn't too happy but she just rolled her eyes and shook her head, and smiled.  We have a lot of acorns buried around here, but I won't tell her about mine.  Mr. was happy they didn't have to water the plants as it rained last night and our little holes were gone this morning.  It all looked nice and smooth, just like the day before.  Mr. and Mrs. were happy their plants looked better for the extra rain.  And it's raining again right now, and will be for the rest of the week off and on.

I have been a chatty little thing today haven't I?  I'd better go now.  I hear my babies calling for me.  Take good care of yourselves out there, and don't be swinging on any birdfeeders like a trapeze artist, unless you are a trapeze artist!






Monday, May 23, 2022

MONDAY MORNING RECIPE - MARINATED CHICKEN THIGHS - 8 servings


Today's I went to Craving Tasty hosted by Victor.  Our chicken was excellent!  The original recipe can be found here.  Victor suggests marinating the chicken thighs overnight, or at least up to 24 hours to get the best results.  He sometimes makes the marinade in the morning to let the thighs marinate during the day, and then cooks them in the evening for dinner. Another suggestion is to bake the chicken thighs on the top rack, which helps with browning and crisping. Also, if you want more browning done, pop them under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes at the end of the baking cycle. I always recommend going to the food blog as I don't always type all the notes out.  And you will see the photos, which are always great.


Marinated Chicken Thighs - serves 8 people

Preparation time: 15 minutes - Cooking time: 30 minutes 
Total time: 55 minutes 
Calories: 341

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 lbs)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp sesame oil

4 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp lemon juice (or lime juice)

5 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey)

6 cloves garlic (minced)

½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)

2 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)


Mix all ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl or a plastic bag. Add the chicken and make sure that every piece is covered evenly. Can be marinated in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours or, but overnight is preferred.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the chicken and all of the marinade in a baking dish. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees F for 25-30 minutes with the skin side up, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. 

To make sure the chicken tops are nicely browned and do not dry out, baste the chicken thighs in the juices and marinade about 15-20 minutes into baking.

To get a nicely browned, crisped up skin, turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes when the thighs are almost done cooking. Monitor broiling very closely as the tops may burn if broiled for too long.


Changes we made: 

Worcestershire Sauce is a stable in our pantry.  I was surprised to see we had run out.  We eat avocados quite often which we share, and we put a couple of teaspoons in each space left by the seed.  Gregg came up with this idea years ago and it is a good way of eating them.  After turning out the pantry we decided not to go up to the store just for Worcestershire Sauce, but it's on the next grocery list.  We will stick to the ingredients next time.  (Another way I used Worcestershire Sauce is when I make a Shepherd's Pie.)  

All that being said Gregg replaced the Worcestershire with 1 tablespoon of Mirin and 1 tablespoon of Oyster-flavored sauce.  It probably altered the taste a bit but it was still a delicious flavor.

We have leftovers as we cooked a whole packet of chicken.  There is enough for another meal, and also we thought it would be good to take up to the Shenandoah's and have a picnic.

We roasted a selection of veggies for the side dish: thinly sliced potatoes, a quartered onion and carrots.  A little salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive or avocado oil.  Put them on the tray after stirring to coat the veggies, pop in the oven on the shelf below for as long as you have the chicken cooking.

We should have put something green on the plate, not only for the nutrition but it would have looked prettier.


Thanks for visiting and enjoy your week.




Saturday, May 21, 2022

‘HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS' BY EMILY DICKINSON

 


Hope is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul, 

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all,


And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.


I've heard in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.



“Emily Dickinson's poem was published in 1861.  She spent most of her adult life as a recluse living in her family home, only rarely venturing out.  She was very quiet and timid, never married or actively sought a permanent relationship, despite correspondence with several older men she viewed as her protectors.

Her poetry is full of figurative language, and this poem is an extended metaphore, transforming hope into a bird (the poet loved birds) that is ever present in the human soul.  It sings, especially when times get tough.  Hope springs eternal, might be a reasonable summing up.”









I recently found this in my drafts and must have been in the middle of putting it together (a poem I have read many times over the years, as many of us have no doubt).  I don’t remember where this information came from, as it is one of those where I was probably distracted and forgot to make note of the link.  And then I forgot I was in the middle of posting it, and didn't - smiling here.   She is one of my favorite poets. 



Friday, May 20, 2022

WE POPPED OVER TO MEADOWLARK GARDENS ON 5-5-22

This garden, as you know from following my blog, is a place we go to all the time, literally for years.  This time there was a surprise waiting for us in the parking lot.  Now, I am not a big fan of cars.  Always enjoy the fact that I can get from A to B, and whatever is between the wheels is no biggy, for both of us.  Many years ago, I had a Mini Cooper, the old rust bucket I called her.  It took me three years to save enough money for a down payment on this second-hand car.  The day I picked her up I was filled with joy, and I put-put-putted around in my mini right up until the time I met Gregg.  I sold it to a friend just before we got married.  Sad to see her go as they drove her down the hill, but another adventure awaited me.  I was married in a week and moved to a new country.  
Anyhow, as usual my rambles take me off my intended subject, which was what was in the parking lot at Meadowlark Gardens.  
We parked our car a few spaces up, and this was hidden behind the white SUV.  What a lovely surprise!  Gregg says it is a 1969 TR6.  I told him if I was very good this year, perhaps he could have a word with Santa.  (Well, maybe in my next lifetime!)
No, I am not into cars but I loved this one, and coincidentally there was a Mini parked in front of it.
It will be a rare occasion for me to talk about any car.  I hope the person who owns this had a wonderful walk around the garden, and has many happy miles driving their TR6.
So, I tore myself away from this beautiful classic, and went inside hoping Sunshine would be back in the corner.  Sunshine, the resident Bearded Dragon has not been there the last visit or so.  He wasn't there today either.  I was disappointed but hope he is happy wherever he is.  Instead, I made a new friend.
Well, hello there little buddy!  
Did you know it is World Turtle Day on the 23rd of this month?  I didn't either!  Our little turtle was such a sweety and we had a nice chat.

He looked older than me and he gave me some sage advice, or was that Pinterest?  Anyhow, he was a chatty fella and I listened.

 "Come out of your shell", he said "be well rounded * slow down * know when to stick your neck out * log time with friends * home is where your heart is * snap out of it."  That last one sounds a bit harsh. I wouldn't tell anyone to 'snap out of it'.  I would stay by their side until they were ready to do it on their own.  What say you?  You may have a different opinion and I would like to hear what it is.  What is the best advice you have ever given to someone or someone has given you?  Willing to share?

  He kept on talking and I kept on listening.  

Swim with the current * stay calm under pressure * be well traveled (even if it is virtually) * age gracefully * spend time at the beach * I know it is difficult sometimes, but try not to snap.

It's okay, and thanks Little Buddy, see you next time and Happy Turtle Day for the 23rd!



Thursday, May 19, 2022

CAROLINA WREN

These photos are not as sharp as I would like but I made the most of it and decided I enjoyed the misty quality.  Its sweet song made me sit up and take notice.
"The earth has music for those who listen."
~William Shakespeare~

I found a great YouTube video of one singing.  You can see it here.  If the link doesn't work for you, the following can be cut and pasted into your web browser.

https://youtu.be/UfWac4yxshA





Wednesday, May 18, 2022

THE FAIRY GARDEN AT MEADOWLARK GARDENS 5-5-22 - AND A WHIMSICAL TALE

There were a few old friends here, and a few new ones.  It was good to see the Fairies back after their winter sleep.
"A rustle in the wind reminds us, a fairy is near."  I don't know who the author is of this quote, but there's been a lot of rustling lately.
The three Graces were out in front of their tiny houses, chatting away.
Mommy Fairy was listening to her son about his day in Fairy School, while waiting for dinner to finish cooking.
The frogs had gone back to the lily pads for a rest, but other help had arrived to take care of things. 
 A Little Brown Skink was on guard.   
The Fairies appreciated it taking care of them while the frogs were away.
The Dragon also made an excellent guard.
He looked fearsome and could be if needed but, was also gentle and kind.
He had adopted the Fairies and they were his family. 
The Queen of the Fairies could also be fearsome to protect her young...don't mess with that fairy stick!
The Flying Pig and other Piggies were standing guard...
 also the Jolly Gnomes.  
And listen carefully...
soft, musical notes are coming from the pansies...
These pansies were singing a different tune.  Yes, different but all flowers grow in the same soil, where music is One...
and when combined, their notes sing the promise of peace all throughout the Fairy Kingdom.

And so it goes in the Fairy Garden.  






Tuesday, May 17, 2022

HUNTLEY MEADOWS - FINAL PHOTOS FROM OUR LAST VISIT ON 4-25-22

"Everywhere I go, I keep falling in love with the trees and wanting to stay just a little bit longer."

~author unknown~
I feel the same way, especially with the new leaves starting to grow.   As are the leaves on the Arrowwood viburnum below (botanical name Viburnum dentatum).  Also known as Arrowwood, Arrow-wood viburnum and Southern arrowwood.  It is native to the eastern United States and Canada, from New Brunswick to Minnesota, and south of Georgia.  It is so named because Native Americans used the strong shoots which developed from the roots for the shafts of their arrows.  It is a fairly small perennial shrub that is part of the honeysuckle family.  In late spring it bears white flowers that stretch roughly 2 to 4 inches across.  Blue-black fruits appear after the flowers, that tend to attract a variety of birds and other wildlife.
"As I wonder'd the forest, the green leaves among, I heard a wildflower singing a song."
Above you can see the Common blue violet (Botanical name Viola sororia)  Also called Common meadow violet, Wood violet, Hooded violet and Missouri violet.  I mentioned it before in a previous post here, the tenth photo down.  It has an interesting history.  Below you will see a plant called Mayapple, which I talked about at this link.  It is in the second photo on that post.
Gregg took the next few photos, of the log and the birds.
I have no idea what the fungi is growing on the side of the fallen log.  I tried to find an ID online.  I always found similar but none of those I looked at were quite right.
The Northern Cardinal was a little shy...  
as were the Red-winged Blackbirds.  



There were pairs of Canada Geese in various areas of the park.  I looked for nests on my way around the park.
Coming in to land, and a close-up.  There were a lot of noisy geese around.
The remaining photos are mine, taken with my cell phone.
A bit of an overload but they deserve their place in the sun.  I enjoy them too.
I think there was a nest in there somewhere.

I heard frogs more than I saw them.  There were tadpoles and tiny fish.  It wasn't just the Canada Geese who were making a racket that day.  The frog and his many, many companions sounded like the Hallelujah Chorus.  Well, not quite, but you know what I mean.... 
"My parents used to call me 'The Little Frog," because whenever they asked how I knew something, I'd say 'read it,' which sounds a bit like a frog croak."
There were also turtles but no more than a stare from any of them, this one included.  (Gregg's photo).
It was a great day for wildlife, and several of our sightings were thanks to other people at the park.  They were very kind sharing what they were looking at, and what they knew about them.
The information board below has been here for a long time but hopefully if you enlarge it, you can read what it says. 
I took this photo of the trees as we were leaving the parking lot.  
The Dogwoods were still blooming, and these were also in the parking lot.
Beautiful!
And so, we leave until our next visit.  I hope it is soon as I would love to see more of the babies, and maybe some Pileated Woodpecker chicks.  Fingers crossed!