Tuesday, May 31, 2022

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

We visited here recently.  It was as beautiful and as serene as ever.  It is always a time of reflection, of remembering loved ones, and honoring those who rest in this sacred place.




















Saturday, May 28, 2022

SATURDAY MORNING AT THE BIRD FEEDER


There are fewer Grackles and Starlings at the feeders now.  The squirrels are ever present.  I read that Starlings prefer insects and berries, but if these are hard to find they will turn up at your bird feeder.  Their beaks are not designed for cracking hard seed shells, so they go first to the softer suet cakes, peanut pieces and other foods without shells. If those aren't available they will even force themselves to eat hard-shelled seeds.  

Recently I saw a mama Starling feeding two of her babies, so she's welcome just like all the others.  I am trying to decide when to stop feeding them as I know any wandering bears will be passing through.  They were in the area last year, as were the raccoons, and I even saw a fox one night.  It sure has been fun but need to think of all this stuff now.   

What are your thoughts?  If you feed the birds, do you leave your bird seed out all year, or stop in the warmer months, when all their natural food is available?

Thanks for stopping by and letting me know what you think.

Have a great weekend and Happy Saturday!




Friday, May 27, 2022

CONTINUING OUR WALK AROUND MEADOWLARK GARDENS ON 5-5-22

The Canada Goose is always present at the garden, but not in great numbers.  I didn’t see any nests but may have missed them.  I don’t actually go looking for them.

“The gander is a fierce defender of his mate and offspring, and will charge any suspected enemy, even one as large as an elk. Mated pairs can be together as long as 20 years.”  This, as I once found out, applies when nests are being built.  I wasn’t charged but definitely warned away when coming across a nest unexpectedly.  You may have your own stories.
“The nest is a large mound of vegetation such as grass and cattail stems lined with down.  It is usually located within sight of water. 4 to 7 white eggs make up a typical clutch and incubation is done solely by the female.  The gander (male) zealously guards the nest and will attack any intruders. Incubation takes 25 to 30 days and the goslings are led to water within a day after hatching. The goslings stay with the parents until the following spring.”
If you have young ones in the family, there is a website for kids at this link. It is where I found the above information.  
We were delighted to find a Catbird posing long enough for a photo.  These are also regular visitors at our home.  A site where I found the following information, also with young people in mind, can be found here.  “The North American gray catbird lays anywhere between one to five eggs.” and “Catbirds are a group of 14 different birds that are found basically all over the world. These birds belong to four different genera from three different families. The Ptilonorhynchidae family include Australasian catbirds of the genera Ailuroedus and Scenopooetes. Black and gray catbirds are from the Mimidae family, and the Abyssinian catbird is from the Timaliidae family. Catbirds have been given this name because of their cat-like and wailing calls.  Australasian catbirds are endemic to Australia and New Guinea, black catbirds to the Yucat√°n Peninsula, Abyssinian catbirds to Ethiopia, and gray catbirds are North American birds.”
We are walking around Lake Caroline and will often visit the gazebo if it is quiet.  Today we decided to carry on to Lake Lena, but first took a few more photos along the way. 
I can see phlox here, a white flower I am not sure of.  I should have taken a closer look.  
The yellow flower I do know is Golden ragwort. Its botanical name is Packera aurea.  Another name for it is Golden groundset. It blooms in spring and summer, and is a perennial.
One of my favorite areas is where the peonies bloom.  There were a few reds and pinks, but it was still relatively quite as far as blooms were concerned. Their botanical name is Paeonia lactiflora.  Another name for it is the Common garden peony.  
We arrive at Lena Lake and there was more Azalea blooming, but I will stop here for now.  That part of our walk will be in another post when I get one together.






Thursday, May 26, 2022

MEADOWLARK GARDEN WALK ON 5-5-22

I have just found a very nice photo of the Fairy Garden at this link.  I am not sure how long it will be there, but it will give you a better idea of its layout than the photos I took.  Mine were more close-ups, and you can find the post here if you missed it.
This is from our last walk at the garden in the beginning of May.  We know every square inch but still, we always see it as though for the first time.  It never gets tiring to visit this place.
Two birds, the American Robin and below a female Red-winged Blackbird.  You will see a small turtle if you go to the waterline and look to the left, before you get to those big leaves.  Enlarging the photos will help.
The same bird but a closer view of its profile.
I have always liked this bridge across the lake.  We are on the other side at the water's edge.  There is a bench so that you can sit and take it all in, and occasionally if you are very quiet (we chat a lot), a bird will come and rest on the branches of the trees each side.
It is the first time I have noticed fish nests below the surface.  I knew immediately what they were. Years ago we were at another pond and as we stared at a similar scene, a gentleman, who had been standing not too far away, told us exactly what they were.  (I did actually see smaller fish circling inside the nests then and now) I haven't seen these nests since, but then I haven't been looking and wonder if it's only at this time of the year?  I couldn't find much information on line. There are a lot of koi in the lake, quite big ones.  I didn't see them but they will be showing themselves soon.  I found the following information here, as I was curious about what happens to them in the wintertime.  It says, "You'll know when your fish go dormant. They won't lie down on the pond's bottom or curl up in their cozy Koi Kastle (yes you can actually buy a Koi Kastle at this link), but they will float upright, tuck in their fins and remain suspended in the water. As the fish hover there, you may still see some super slow movement, and they may also wind up facing in the same direction as if they were heading somewhere at less than a snail's speed." 
 Our guesses included carp but there was no knowledgeable gentleman around this time.  I found info here.  It says Koi are actually descendants of carp.  I am including an except which I found interesting.  "Carp spawn in late May or early June and display unique spawning habits. They thrash and wiggle their way into very shallow, weedy areas, sometimes so shallow that their bodies are completely exposed. Instead of building nests or caring for their young, carp broadcast their eggs. A 20-pound female carp will lay nearly 10 million eggs, though very few survive. Eggs hatch in 2-8 days, depending on water temperature, and the young quickly disperse. Young carp are very susceptible to predation, but adults are too big to have non-human predators."  The difference between a koi and a carp can be found here, and is where I found my information about the koi being its descendant.   Okay, so all you who are fishing enthusiasts may know all this, but it was a learning experience for me.  I hasten to add there is no fishing allowed at the garden.
Phlox and Daylilies line one of the pathways.
In the photo below, right off center, you can see the Katsura tree (botanical name Cercidiphyllum japonicum), native to China and Japan.  There is a very good website I found  here, with more photos.  It is also called Katsura Vine and Weeping Katsura Tree.  
They grow no more than 45 feet and can live up to 60 years.  Male trees will produce red flowers, and female trees with produce green flowers.  Butterflies and bees are attracted to the blossoms.  It is a fast-growing tree that grows best in full sunlight to partial shade.  It prefers rich soil, but tolerates wet, clay or acidic soil.  There are two of these close together and we wondered after reading the above, what kind of flowers they will produce.
Interesting facts are that the Katsura tree is a low-maintenance ornamental tree that thrives in temperate regions.  The tree produces small and inconspicuous flowers, and is more well-known for its fall foliage fragrance of brown sugar.  I am getting all my information from my plant app, Picture This, which I have mentioned before.  I have it downloaded on my iPhone.  Most of the time if I feel like meandering, I take a photo of whatever I am interested in, and find out right there and then.  Other times I will wait until I get home,  and get the information in the evening when I am downloading my photos.  It's a beautiful tree, one that we have been enjoying for many years.

That's all for today's post.  I will be putting another together as we took a lot more photos, as is our way.
Thank you for looking and enjoy 
the rest of your week.




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!