Sunday, June 26, 2022

La Famille Cardinale


This is a love story...or not.

 
{Apologies, for this and the majority of the other photos in this post. They were taken through a screened window of my kitchen.} 

I have learned so very much these past many weeks.
 I have learned about faithfulness, the importance of a true partner in this world; that there can be danger where you least expect it, that there are others who take advantage of others, that life goes on after loss. I have learned that the cycle of life can be both beautiful and sad, that life is better with a song in your heart, that things can and do change quickly, that "littles" grow up equally quickly, and that one should never, ever, become complacent to the point of taking things for granted.
Oh...and I learned about cardinals.

I am not certain where to begin, but perhaps the beginning would be the best place, no?

First, for some introductions:
Papa Cardinal...

If you read my last post, you would have seen a cardinal camouflaged in a tree in the following photo.  That would be Monsieur Cardinal.


Most times, cardinals can be a bit elusive (sometimes making one wonder if it was illusive).
But Monsieur Cardinal was a constant - and quite vocal - visitor.

{Trés beau, non?}

Had I been a bit more perceptive, I would have realized why the very trees seemed to bleed with song:
Mademoiselle Cardinal


There was an official courtship underway.
So, being cognizant of my both my moral duties and my legal duties, I married them forthwith.

Now, to be truthful, I am not entirely certain which came first - the chicken or the egg the ceremony or the nest.  All I can say is that things happened quite quickly, and I was relieved to learn that, unlike most humans these days, cardinals mate for life.


And soon Monsieur and Madame Cardinal were expectant parents.

{Although difficult to see, there are two eggs in the nest.}

I then realized that my duties did not end at just being the officiant and making an honest woman bird of Madame C.
Oh no...they had just begun.

I had to defend those little eggs from predators. 
And let me tell you, Nod may be the furthest thing from a big city you can find these days, but there are a great many predators here.

So, when I wasn't warding off these:
{Snakes...not concrete tortoises....}

...chasing off these guys:

...or trying to shoo these:
{A red squirrel just for you Saundra...}

... or climbing on top of things no person should climb upon just to get a peek or take a photo, I worried.  (And I bet you thought I was doing nothing since I last posted. For shame.)

But the happy day arrived, and the first little "chirps" wafted through my kitchen window.

But like "real" life, no love story is without some sort of tragedy or heartbreak.
There had been two eggs, but there was only one hatchling.  😢

I am not certain what happened.  Had it been a snake who climbed up there (THIS has happened, trust me...there is a post somewhere way back in my older posts that contains gruesome evidence of that), I would have thought both eggs would be gone.

But the more I pondered it, the more I REALLY started worrying.
Cowbirds are plentiful in these parts and cowbirds are notorious brood parasites - meaning they will pirate and/or destroy the eggs of another species bird's nest and leave their own eggs for the mistress of that nest to raise. 

And so I worried some more.

But worry just steals one's joy, so I put it quickly behind me, and watched the little one thrive (and studied photos of cowbird and cardinal nestlings just to be sure the nestling wasn't a cardinal imposter.)

{Love the little wisps of "hair" feathers on the top of his head...Think he had nest hair that day.}

I also gained a whole new respect and admiration for cardinals.
Papa Cardinal wore himself to a frazzle helping Maman Cardinal build the nest, then flying back and forth to the nest feeding both Maman and Bébé Cardinal.
It is also his responsibility to change the diapers (i.e., carry out the nestling(s)' poop sacks).  (True story...research it.)


During this time (assuming she is like "typical" cardinals), Maman had built another nest (cardinals do not reuse their nests) and started a new family, taking turns tending to her newborn and going back to sit on her soon-to-be newborns.  Papa, in turn,  was truly stretched to the limit flitting back and forth between two homes nests, changing diapers, feeding Bébé and feeding Maman.

And then "that" day came - the day Bébé left the nest.  I kept thinking I would have more time, but he grew so very quickly.  Like I said previously, there is hurt in every life and some sadness in every love story.  Papa and Maman, however thin their time was stretched, were there for the big moment. 

They took turns flying back to the nest to coax Bébé further and further.



And then Bébé was gone.  
I waited and waited for him to come back, but hours went by and he didn't.
Papa did come back a few times checking the nest, but no Bébé.


Finally, close to dusk, Bébé returned, by himself, to the nest.
He did not stay long, however, and did not, to my knowledge spend the night there.


The nest now sits abandoned...and each time I look out my kitchen window, I am reminded of the joy La Famille Cardinale gave me if only for a few, brief, weeks.

But, oh, is it quiet.  I had grown accustomed to their songs every time I stepped outside or opened a window.

The mockingbird is here still and sings such wonderful songs, but he does not know the cardinal's song.

The End

Sunday, June 5, 2022

And Just Like That It's June....

 

Like the roads to Nod, however, the road to summer here has had its ups and downs.


Summer, it seems, is a timid bride this year.

We have a handful of summer-like days...where we go from 50 to 90.
And then we are back to mid-60's, and very low 40's for lows.

And wind...lots of wind.
And you know how I feel about wind.

But, slowly, things are greening, and plants are blooming.

The first bridesmaid is always the always-flamboyant rhododendron.


The others follow toute de suite in a pink and purple explosion.

{Weeping Tina Crabapple}


{Volunteer Vinca growing in the patio stones}

{With a slow, cold, spring, the blooms of the lilacs were more abundant and sweeter.}


And avian coteries welcome the newcomers with bursts of song.
 
{Look closely...a cardinal's camouflage.}

I think this year is the year I finally will be making good on my vow to forgo annuals. Bitterly bittersweet.

It's a good thing I am easily amused by nature as my "crafting" (is that what we are still calling it these days??) mojo has gone on another walkabout apparently.
 I started stitching another larger piece, but there is no progress worth posting at this point.

I did venture to the Island of the Unfinished and was not inspired to attempt any rescues other than finishing this one little piece I had finished the stitching on a year ago:

{"1776" from the talented Marly of Samplers and Santas.}

I couldn't seem to capture the true colors (and, yes, there is some distressing to it), but they are somewhere between the above photo and the photo below.


I am not impressed with my finishing and will not point out all the shortcomings....you likely can figure that out for yourself.... 
So, I abandoned the Island.

*******

I think I have missed sharing a few reads with you (I've been MIA a while, no?), but I don't believe I shared this one with you yet.


This is the third book by this author I've read.  I fell in love with her debut book, "The House Between Tides," about which I previously posted.  This book, however, I am a bit equivocal about.  I enjoyed it, but it was a transparent "clone" of her first book. While I somewhat felt like I was being able to continue the reading adventure I had enjoyed in the first book, this was not a sequel of any sorts...yet the main plot and subplots were just too similar.  I actually started confusing a few things between the two books while reading.  (No comments re the ease with which that confusion thing is accomplished these days...please.)
She even used some of the same character names....but they weren't the same characters.  😧 

Anyway, do with it what you will.  If you liked The House Between Tides and would like another "fix," have at it.  I am not the one who enjoys Hallmark movies with the same repetitive themes, so I give it a "meh."

*******

Well, I'm off to finish assembling a wheel barrow.  
Who has more fun than me?

Have a good new week ahead everyone.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Ghosted

 

The word "ghost" is probably better known as a noun than a verb; but it is, in fact, a verb also.

                                                                        ghost /ɡōst/
                                                verb past tenseghostedpast participleghosted
  1.  1.  act as ghostwriter of (a work). 
    "His memoirs were smoothly
    ghosted by a journalist."
  2.  2.  glide smoothly and effortlessly. 
    "They ghosted up the river."

In relatively recent years, a more colloquial verb usage has also become popular:

      1.  the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without                             explanation, especially in a romantic relationship. "He was a victim of                     ghosting." 
         
      2.  the act of leaving a social event or engagement suddenly without saying                goodbye. "Ghosting might be the best option if we want to get home                      before midnight." (Also called French goodbye or Irish goodbye.) 


There are also some "specialty" usages of the word.... For example, painters/builders/etc. refer to inexplicable dark streaks on walls, carpets, ceilings, etc. as "ghosting."  It is also used to refer to the faint double image sometimes left in printing, or on television screens.

None of these definitions or usages, however, are the ones to which I am referring in this post.  I am referring to the intentional "fading" of certain stiches/areas of stitched and hooked pieces to make them appear old or more similar to the fading often found in antique textiles.

   {"Noel Sampler" by With Thy Needle & Thread}

Whether you choose to believe me or not, I intentionally "ghosted" several letters in the alphabet of this stitched samper so that they are barely visible in some cases.


Even though this is not an antique reproduction, I kind of like the ghosting effect.  Either that or I am too lazy to rip out all those "ghosty" letters and redo them...because this sampler is finally done...and done is better than perfection.  You decide.

This (ummm, partially) hooked rug, on the other hand, is an antique adaptation.


Well, it was intended to be; however, I did not realize that the pattern was not drawn true to the original until it was late in the game.  
In my (late-to-the-game) frustration, I was studying the photo I had of the original attempting to determine if there were elements I could change at that late point to make it at least a bit closer to the original.


(Yes, yes...I KNOW! The tails are closer together in the original, the heads and faces of the cats are different, etc., etc.  Did I not mention my late-to-the-game frustration??)

And there it was.... A ball...between the two cats!  I had not noticed it in the gazillion times I looked at that photo, and it certainly was not included in any of the many reproduction renderings of the design that I have seen...and, of course, it was NOT on the pattern I purchased.
But there it was.

So I decided to hook it.  
Not once.
Not twice.
Not even thrice. 
And, no, I didn't re-hook it that many times just so I could use the word "thrice."

I hooked it once and decided it stood out too much.... I wanted it to fade into the background like the (I am sure much-faded) original.  I wanted to "ghost" it.
So I hooked it again.
It was better....especially once I hooked some background around it.
But it was way too far to the left.  WHAT?! I finally hooked a perfect circle (trust me on that one please), but in the perfectly wrong place.

So I rehooked it again.
This time, it is too much to the right. 
But ya know what?
I don't care.  Ain't hooking it a 4th time.

Because there's no cool word for fourth.
 
And because I was tired of hooking circles.


So there you have it.  A "ghosted" cat ball no where near the middle of the two cats.

*******

And since we are on the subject of ghosting, this was my most-recent read:



It's the story of a woman who meets a man with whom she falls instantly and deeply in love.  But when he leaves for a previously planned vacation, she is "ghosted"....  She is certain the relationship they had meant as much to him as to her, but he simply "disappears." 
It came to me on the recommendation from a friend, and I did enjoy it, but wouldn't say it's a "gotta-read" kind of book...at least not in my book (get it?? 😉).
It's a feel-good read in many ways and, while not necessarily "predictable" (at least not until the end - there were several twists I didn't see coming), it was a bit too "happily-ever-after" for me, if ya know what I mean.
Yeah...I can be morose like that.

Or maybe I am just too cranky these days to believe much in happy endings.

*******

In other news, we've been having some kind of changeling weather here in Nod.
We sort of went from winter straight to summer....
But summer was short-lived - only 2 days' worth.
In the past week, we've moved on to autumn.

{Hint: That white stuff isn't petals or blossoms....}

But, hey...we did green up nicely in those 2 days of summer.
When 3 of the 4 seasons are so short-lived here, they make the most of the time they have.

I suppose a lesson to be learned.
But I am thinking my learning banks are full.






Monday, May 9, 2022

The Mockingbird's Song

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us."   {Miss Maudie's quote from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.}


I believe a rare gift has been given me whenever I hear a mockingbird sing. I stop whatever I am doing to listen.  To me, they are one of the most fascinating birds to have been created.
Did you know that some older mockingbirds have a repertoire of up to 300 songs?  Some can even imitate other animals.  Yet, strangely, they have no song of their own.

Like the albino deer, a mockingbird sighting is considered a good omen in many cultures.  Some consider it a harbinger of good fortune and luck, or an easing of your sufferings and trouble.  Others believe it signifies a reassurance that your guardian angel is watching out for you and that you are protected.

Most notably, however, a mockingbird is interpreted as signifying innocence.  (Hence, the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is symbolic for the loss of innocence....After all, why would anyone want to kill such a free-spirited, joyful, creature?)

{Sorry that you cannot see the songster more clearly, but I was looking into the sun taking this.  But turn your volume up!}

I know mockingbirds are common to some, if not many, of you...but, here, in Nod, they seem to be a rare treat for some reason.  Even rarer are the beautiful night time serenades they're prone to do.  They can wake you from a sound sleep and keep you awake for hours, but you do not begrudge them that. 

Well, at least I don't.





Sunday, April 24, 2022

Ready for Green

 

No, not those greens kitteh....
And even though your eyes are a pretty intense green, I don't mean that green either.

I'm desperately in need of outside, growing-things, green.
I know that Nod can have freak April blizzards that drop a foot of snow or more, but this spring has been like a slow, tedious, cold and windy, torture.
I see photos on some of your blogs of green leaves, green grass, and good grief...even blooming things!....and I am, well, "green."
Yesterday we made it almost to 70° but it was cloudy, and windy...and today we are back to freezing...and gale force winds.  (60 mph gusts...seriously???)

Yeah, yeah...I know "no winter lasts forever, no spring skips it turn," but the guy who wrote that (and yes, it was a "guy"), never lived in Nod.

Anyhow...
Like I said, it's been windy.... Incredibly windy. Like almost-every-day windy.
And wind makes me edgy edgier than usual.
Cabin fever and wind are a foul combination I tell ya.
There's a reason (probably more than one) that I'm called the Cranky Crow.

{Buttons stitched by my sweet SIL...}

Nothing is really blogworthy here...one day blends into the next unnoticed.  
I am slowly putting the bunnies of Easter back into their dark hiding spots until next season and filling the empty places they left with more "generic" signs of spring.

{"Set Free" pinkeep by Scattered Seed Samplers}

It's not helping...in case you were wondering.

I've made only negative progress on my hooking.  
In my defense, it isn't easy when a 20# cat decides your rug hooking frame is his new bff.


And, yes, that's Snowdog on the other side.
And, yes, that's a drop cloth on my floor.

On a happy news note, on one of my trips "down there," I opened a box I had not noticed before sitting on a shelf and peeked inside... And there was my collection of stone fruit.
I have been looking for these since WWR ended.


I'll take my victories where I can get them.

*******

My recent read was "Anxious People" by Fredrik Backman.

Completely out of my typical genres and, had it not been given to me to read, I likely never would have chosen to read it, and that would have been my loss.
Yes, it was that good.
It's a poignant, comical, novel about a crime that never took place, a wanna-be bank robber who disappears, and eight extremely "anxious" strangers who are held hostage by said wanna-be bank robber.
I typically don't like comedy...not in television shows, not in movies, not in books... (Perhaps there is more than one reason I am cranky?), 
but this author's humor is wry and witty...a rare combination that I found completely charming.  
Whimsical, yes...but also a dive into the study of society and the workings of people's minds.

*******

Be well...stay sane.
On second thought, just be well.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Nary a Hare Anywhere

 ...well, almost.

{Vintage/Antique Rabbit Candy Containers}

Here we are...four days (plus or give a smidge depending on when I actually finish this post) before Easter, and my bunnies and other other Easter accoutrements are, for the most part, still staring at the inside of their dark totes and boxes.

Blame the tax man...and any other man you can find.

So, before I run out of time completely, here are a (pathetic) few that managed to be liberated for the season.

{Spun Cotton Bunny Child}

{Folk For All Seasons Sculpted Rabbit}

{Saltglaze Bunnies}

(Ok, ok...I cheated on that last one...those bunnies live there all year long.)
  
And that's it.  C'est ça!

As far as my pastime endeavors go, I have even less to share.


 I don't know what made me look this up, but it cracked me up....until I realized that what I have to show for my "pastime" really fits the definition of "past time" more aptly:  Something that should have happened or been done by now. 

I have stitched some, but it's too wrinkled at this point to share...and, no, I'm not pressing it.  
I have hooked some too, but you really probably can't tell.  (And there's even less hooked now since I did a bit of reverse hooking after this photo was taken.)


And, yes, it...and my stitching project...should have been done by now.

*******

Last, but not least in the pastime department, my book report for those of you interested:


"The Woman Who Smashed Codes" is quite a ways out of my typical "lane" but it was fascinating.  It is the, until now, untold story of a remarkable woman who played an integral part in our country's history.  Elizebeth Smith Friedman was a young Quaker poet with a true enthusiasm for Shakespeare.  She was lured to the extraordinary and sometimes magical estate of an eccentric tycoon to assist in deciphering codes he (and actually many others) believed were hidden within the texts of Shakespeare by Francis Bacon, the "true" author of the texts.  (Ok....)
When World War I broke out, Elizabeth's language skills were put to use by the government and, ultimately, she, and her husband, developed the modern science of cryptology (code breaking).  
These skills were honed over time and she assisted not only in apprehending smugglers during Prohibition but breaking the leading Nazi spy ring and shaping the course of the second world war.
{Elizebeth Smith Friedman and her husband, William Friedman}

While the book is filled with a great deal of history and technical background to the art and science of codebreaking, Elizebeth's fascinating life and the author's adept skill at non-fictional narrative made for an enjoyable read.
Again, not for everyone, but a nice "break" if you find yourself in a reading rut.

*******

Now back to taxes...and macaroons.