Thursday, November 30, 2023


 This is part of our walk.  You can make out the moon but barely seeable is the plane on the lower left-hand side of the photo.  It has taken off from Dulles-Washington International Airport.On Saturday (26th November), it was a chilly but very sunny day.  I had found a place to walk thanks to our 'Find My' App, when checking on Gregg's route.  He was on his way from getting some work done on the car, and called to let me know he was leaving.  I automatically check to see where he is on his journey, and I put the kettle on so to speak.I located Gregg's position and noticed he was driving next to the Manassas National Battlefield Park, with landmarks I didn't recognize. There were names I had never seen before, one was the Portici House. I realized this was an area we hadn't been to.  When Gregg got home, I asked if he would enjoy a walk over there sometime. I noticed it had trails.  We are always on the lookout for somewhere new, and both our curiosity was peaked.  It took us another couple of weeks before we rotated through the other walks we like to do and remembered this one. Here's one of me with Gregg in the background looking at a historical marker.  It was a bit brisk to say the least. 

The area, much to our surprise, is across the street from the main visitor center, which we have been to many times over the years, and where we always concentrated our walks around. This part of the battlefield had been hidden behind a line of trees and we had never noticed the signs pointing in its direction. It was a wooded area in parts. We were happy to have discovered it. I don't think many people have, as it was very secluded and most seem to stick to the main trails and the more visible areas they know. I'm sure this is what we have done.No one else was around except for a lady with her dog. We didn't meet them until we were on our way back to the car. This is Pepper and she is five years' old, a sweet, friendly little dog whose lady was worried because she was a bit jumpy and wanted a lot of fussing. We're dog people we told her, as we always tell other concerned owners, and not to worry.  Pepper - dogs in general I think and more often than not - recognize friends.  Here she is finally paying attention with the anticipation of a treat.Otherwise, perhaps because of the lateness in the day (we went there for sunset), and the fact that it was extremely chilly and getting chillier as the light faded, we were on our own. Yes, it was cold but invigorating and very enjoyable.  It was also enjoyable seeing the moon rise. I had read that there really isn't a lot here to see but wide, open fields, and the walk along the trail. That was more than enough for us. Our surroundings were peaceful, beautiful!  I read a warning somewhere online, to be careful you didn’t twist an ankle, as the ground was a bit bumpy.  It was in parts. I was glad for that info, took extra care and had no problem.The Portici House was burned down, not due to the Civil War but later I believe. It is sad and ironic that as pointed out in the history books, the original village of Portici in Italy, was destroyed because of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption, and now there is nothing left of the house here because it succumbed to flames. (At this link you can see the town in Italy, which is at the foot of Mount Vesuvius on the Bay of Naples.)

I also tried to find the reason this house was named after the original but could find none.  Below is its location in Italy on a map I found online.  

Perhaps one of the owners visited that country? Who knows, it looks like we will never know. If you want to learn more about the history of the house, there was an article written by the Washington Post newspaper, which you can find at this link.

This is the Ball Family Cemetery.  It is surrounded by a sandstone wall, with no entrance, completely enclosed. It's the first time I have come across one with no entrance, so taking a close look at the headstones doesn't seem to be encouraged. The wall isn't very high so getting over it would be no problem, but we wouldn't do that. Sacred ground is sacred ground. Here you will find Spencer Ball (1762-1832), and his is the oldest marked burial in this small area. He was a very rich tobacco plantation owner who built the Portici House in 1820. It looks a bit sad and neglected. I'm hoping when we return next year it will look better. The wall was erected in the 1930s. We only saw the back of the markers as this is where we met Pepper's owner who was shouting for her to come back. We were distracted for a while and forgot all about checking the other side, which we will do next time. There is much history in those old grave stones.
I was intrigued by the small log cabin, which wasn't too far from where we parked our car. It looked old but I later learned that it was a reproduction constructed by the National Park Service. You can also see it in my second photo at the beginning, and read the story at the park's official website here.  There you will be able to look at an old photo of many of these huts which were built to house confederate soldiers in the winter months.  
It doesn't explain what the barrel was for and I didn't see anything similar in the old photo on the website. The barrel was placed at the peak and perhaps collected rainwater? I am hoping a visiting history buff will have an answer.
I enjoyed the walk and I enjoyed taking the photos.  It was going to be dark soon and we felt it was time to return to the car.
We found a pebbly path which allowed a more straightforward and faster route than if we had backtracked. It was getting colder by the minute.  Gregg headed off at a fast pace so that he could turn on the engine, and the heater...
while I took more photos of leaves...
more leaves, and....
old stumps...
and gateposts...

and fallen branches that had been sawn and left on the side of the path for Mother Nature to take care of...

  and moonshots.  This is for you Ginny!  I'm still practicing.
I will leave you with one last photo of Pepper, because she was such a sweetie and I want to remember her.

Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of your week.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


 Today I am showing you the birds that have been visiting lately.  I was a little concerned as after all the upheaval with putting in a new deck, they disappeared for the longest time.  Needn't have worried.

Carolina Wren, a little out of focus but I was happy to see it.  You can hear its call at this link.

The Mourning Doves weren't put off by a rainy day.  Reflection in the glass on the right is a bit distracting, but I didn't notice it until I looked on a larger screen.

The American Robin was a regular visitor for a while.

As well as invertebrates, they like to eat nuts and berries.  Because of their sweet tooth they can also get intoxicated on fermented berries.  I don't think I have ever noticed a tipsy robin before.

A first-time visitor was the Mockingbird.  I don't ever remember seeing one here in the 30 plus years we have lived in this house.  It was a red-letter day for me.  I have seen others elsewhere but not in a long time, and never at our feeders.

He stayed long enough for me to get lots of photos.  I am glad because I haven't seen him since.  Apparently, they are very territorial.  You can click on all my photos to get a better look.

Both males and female Mockingbirds sing a varied, repetitive song that can be heard all day, and sometimes at night, during the spring and summer.  A male may learn around 200 songs throughout its life.  They can also incorporate non-bird noises they hear into their songs.  You can listen to what it sounds like here.

The White-breasted nuthatch was next.  The longevity record for a White-breasted Nuthatch is 9 years and 10 months.  In a study it was found that they prefer unshelled sunflower seeds approximately 25 percent more often than seeds still in the shell.  It appears to be because it takes half the time to transport and cache an unshelled seed than it does a shelled one.  These interesting facts came from Wild Birds Unlimited which you can find at this link.

I was also happy to see the Blue Jay back.  They have an attitude which makes me smile, the rascals of the bird world.  You might know a few of your own bird rascals, so let me know if you would like to share.  I didn't know that Blue Jays are related to Crows, that was a surprise.  They are experts at mimicking and are very talkative.  No surprise there!

I was also happy to see the Downy Woodpecker making an appearance.  This is a female as she has no red patch on her head.  The male House Finch, lower left, didn't seem to be too perturbed but he didn't hang around for too long. Neither did the Downy for that matter.

And Cheeky Face is back but he makes me smile so he's welcome. Another little rascal to be sure.

Thanks for visiting and I hope your day is a great one.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


This was found online and it gave me a chuckle.  Before I go on, my heartfelt thanks to all dentists and their staff, and I hope they smile as much as I did when seeing this photo.  

I love the old snapshots, and even though this may be a joke-one made up to look old, I still want to share and hopefully it will give you a chuckle too. I follow a website with these old photos, and I will share one every now and again.  

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!

Monday, November 27, 2023


These recipes are everywhere so you might have something similar in your own repertoire. I made another like this one here.  I saw today’s at Instagram, not sure by whom as I lost it before identifying.  I tried to find it again doing a search on the website but came up with what I am sharing.  It is almost identical to the one I saw originally.  Very simple!

Made for 1 (easily multiplied)

Avocado spray

2 eggs, whisked

1 or 2 ounces of cheese (I grabbed a handful of already grated mozzarella)

Spinach leaves, stem ends picked off (personal choice and also the quantity depends on how much you like spinach - I like it and put on as much as the tortilla would accommodate)

1 medium tomato, sliced thinly

Pour your whisked eggs into a medium to hot frying pan that has been coated with Avocado spray (or olive oil).  The eggs should be approximately the same diameter as your tortilla.

Immediately top with spinach leaves, and on top of the eggs and spinach, place the medium-sized tortilla.

Flip over so that your eggs and spinach are now on the top and tortilla is on the bottom.  

Place tomato slices on top and sprinkle with the mozzarella.  If you find your tortilla browning too much, turn down the heat a tad and cover for a minute or two so that the cheese melts and the tomatoes are still firm but warmed through.

When cheese has melted, fold tortilla over in the pan, lift onto your serving plate and that's it.  

This is very nice sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro  I didn’t have any available as this was a last minute idea for breakfast.

You can add any favorite cheese and toppings.  Add salt if you like (I found it was fine without) and pepper to taste.   

My dear other half would add Siracha or some other hot sauce.  I do at other times, I just wanted it plain today.

I am thinking of adding sliced avocado and green onions (or diced sweet onions) when I feel like this again.

This is in our make-again folder.  It was very tasty.

Thanks for looking and have a great week.

Sunday, November 26, 2023


And so it begins, he made it into our neighborhood!

This is Gregg's photo, a surprise while driving through our neighborhood on the way to his favorite bagel shop. Is Santa getting a head start delivering presents to all the good little girls and boys? Maybe doing a test run to get his directions down? Or has he heard the eggnog is on sale at our local supermarket? (Someone else was heading that way as soon as he finished his bagel stop.) Any-which-way, it was a fun photo op and I'm happy I had this for my blog post, with thanks to my dear other half.

Enjoy your day and thanks for the visit.  

Saturday, November 25, 2023


 Not again!

Uh-oh!  I think the mirror in the water is going to be very busy today.

Thanks for stopping by, and have 
a fun weekend!

Friday, November 24, 2023


To A Butterfly

I've watched you now a full half-hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless - not frozen seas
More motionless and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!
This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;
Here rest your wing when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We'll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.

William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was an English romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the romantic age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798).  Wordsworth's magnum opus is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semi-autobiographical poem of his early years that he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published by his wife in the year of his death, before which it was generally known as "the poem to Coleridge".  Wordsworth was made Poet Laureate in 1843.  

You can read more if you click on his name below the poem.

Thursday, November 23, 2023


Amidst the fall's vibrant hue,
When harvest time arrives anew,
We gather round, hearts full of cheer,
To share our blessings year by year.

So let us raise our voices high,
And give thanks for the sky so blue,
For the earth that nourishes our feet,
And family who make our lives complete.

Let kindness guide our every deed,
And compassion fill our hearts indeed;
For in giving, we receive in return,
A bounty of love that forever burns.

So here's to friendship, laughter, and cheer,
On this day of thanks, my dear;
May all your dreams and wishes come true,
And peace on earth shine bright and new.

And may our joy never fade away,
As we celebrate another day.

To our family, and friends whom we also consider our family, you have blessed us in many ways, and we will always give thanks for you.

We also remember people here and around the world, and wish you peace.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Denise and Gregg

Poem courtesy of AI