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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sometimes you feel like a nut....sometimes you don't

This morning looked like a feeding frenzy (Not at our kitchen table, mind you, but outside the windows of our sunroom). 
We have been generously feeding the birds for the past 2 weeks. They have been fun to watch. Honestly, I didn't know that we had so many varieties in our yard! (see post About those birds...). 
Today's fiasco was a little different!
It was all about THE SQUIRRELS.
Squirrels are known for eating nuts.... acorns, walnuts, pecans, hickory, almonds, peanuts(legumes) ...anything they can get their hands around. Of course, they will also eat apples, grapes, watermelon,  celery, broccoli, practically anything that you throw out. These rodents primarily eat fruit and tree seeds but also nibble on flowers, insects, bark. 
Squirrels are simply not picky eaters!



















And if you think for one moment, that these cute little creatures aren't tricky, smart, and quick, hold your breath! These squirrels shop for their food anywhere. 
No nuts?
No problem! 
"I think this bird food will do, thank you very much!"













You might as well love 'em, 'cause you sure can't keep 'em from getting to the feeders!
Of only humans were this determined! (sigh)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Finding My Way Back to Middle C

A funny thing happened yesterday, on my way through the living room. 
I glanced over to my left, and saw my piano.
I'm not sure what drew me to sit down and .... well.... just sit.
I stared at the music. 
I stared at strings. 
I stared at the contrast of the black and white. 
I stared at the walnut grain in the wood. 
I stared at the brass pedals.
I was in a trance. 
It had been years since this "King of Instruments" and I had gotten together. And, oh my, did we have some good times!
Dust, dirt and grim had built up on the 88 keys.
And then I found my way back.
I touched Middle C. My heart skipped a beat.
It was just as I remembered.
I knew it wouldn't be the last time.
I knew that I wanted to wedge out a time to hit that Middle C again, and then hit it again, and again.
I knew it would take discipline, commitment, and practice.
That was yesterday.
Today, I'm still glad that I found my way back to Middle C.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

About those birds........

With the onset of our Virginia winter weather, our fine feathered friends (those creatures who didn't fly south), are probably looking for a generous hand-out from us humans. Please feed the birds!
If you've never taken the opportunity to SIT, WATCH, and LISTEN to the birds, you've missed out on some amazing observations, entertainment, and knowledge. 
Once you start looking......beware.....it's addicting!
And if you are new to "birding", there are many books and guides to help you identify some of the thousands of fine feathered friends: Birds of Eastern North America .  
Here is a good site for beginners, as well as a reference: Intro to bird photography
Here are some of the birds that flew through my yard this week.
They made me smile!
HAPPY BIRDING!
Blue Jay


Ron's capture of one of my favorite birds, THE BLUEBIRD!


Carolina Wren


Female Downey Woodpecker


Tufted Titmouse


Female Cardinal



Female Cardinal

Black-capped Chickadee

House Finch and Female Cardinal
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Male Cardinal






Mourning Dove


CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP




Friday, January 15, 2016

Babies R Us

His little smile melts my heart.

Ron and I had the distinct honor, and pleasure/priviledge of keeping one of our grandchildren...
Monday-Friday
7:30am-4:00pm
from mid September through mid December. 2015.
It has been a month since Wyatt was here, on a daily basis.
OH HOW WE MISS HIS  PRESENCE!
and..... 
OH HOW MUCH WE WERE REMINDED of the PARAMOUN T RESPONSIBILITY of caring for an infant. 
Wyatt is now 6 months old. 
We learned so much that was missed, the first 3 times, with our own three children, probably because there were two of us taking care of Wyatt. 
Trust me, it took two of us to keep one baby!
We had the pleasure of holding, and kissing, and rocking, and loving.
We were reminded of the importance of safety, schedules, and doing things precisely the way his parents wanted things done! (To my knowledge, the only rule that we broke was a little soothing background music during an occasional nap time....but I think that was more for us than Wyatt!).
We learned about our own endurance, and the importance of going to bed early.
We learned that in order to take care of someone else, we had to also take care of ourselves!
We learned that we had to pace ourselves.
We learned to re-priortize our lives, knowing that this was a temporary assignment! It was easy for us to say "NO" to people, prior committments, and social events. 
All of a sudden, our retired days were structured....down to the minute!

We placed the pac-n-play next to a bed in our spare bedroom. 
As Grandparents, we would WATCH him sleep!



Monitors are an important infant gadget. We didn't have these 40 years ago. Screeming babies, we heard. However, now, if you are ever interested in RESTING during your duties, this is a MUST HAVE. It's amazing that some of the models come with little tv screens, so you can see every move the baby makes!


We forgot how difficult it was to change, and dress an infant, but we learned fast...real fast! 


Many items for newborn babies can be purchased second hand. This is not a bad idea for Grandparents, or parents. Equipment for babies is EXPENSIVE. You don't need the latest version.  It does need to be safe, and approved by the parents!

Boy, this came in handy, just for the comfort of your arm and baby's.(Actually it was great for our heads while taking a nap.)
Feeding time, was a cinch with this arm rest!

This little blanket was used to stimulate Wyatt, help him to reach, look at colors, focus, turn his head, etc. Getting down on the floor was no problem for us....it was getting up! It was not necessary to purchase a lot of toys for him. Actually the fewer the better(imho). 












Wyatt enjoyed grabbing onto these two things!


The diaper bag...............oh goodness.......I'm now in love with this bag!
The car seat was left here each day, to be used in conjuction with the stroller, which we kept in the car. In a few short days/weeks, though, Wyatt will graduating to the next size car seat.
Here is another piece of equipment that Wyatt used/uses when he is here.
And then there was the infamous SWADDLER....probably our most difficult challenge. I wrote about this in an earlier post! Houdini and the Swaddler
I think that the only thing that has not changed in the last 20 years, is the rocking chair, blankets, and stuffed animals..... everything else has changed...... and for the better! 
Oh yes, and babies haven't changed. They still need lots and lots and lots and lots of unconditional love and attention.
This experience brought back lots of memories with our own 3 children. 
We were blessed to have this opportunity!
Were we tired at the end of the day? Absolutely!
Would we do it again? Yes, without a doubt!
Did we pass the test of reliable and responsible child-care providers? I think so.
Things are a little different now. 
Ron and I kinda looked forward to the weekends during the months that we kept Wyatt. Now we look forward to the weekends, so that we can keep Wyatt for a few hours!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Reach for the Stars

January8, 2016 Explore Park

What in the world  sky is this?
It's called STAR TRAILS. It is on every new/seasoned photographer's bucket list. The star trails are one of the things that we can "see" with a camera that we can't see with our eyes.
This particular photo was captured Thursday evening at EXPLORE PARK .
The center of this circular motion is THE NORTH STAR (also known as Polaris). This type of photo has to be taken at night, actually on a fairly clear night.My camera does the work, but you have to know what settings to use, have a sturdy tripod, some time on your hands, and a blanket for stargazing.  (Be sure to check the temperature before you venture out, and dress appropriately.)  When you return home to your computer, you combine all of the photos into one image, using a star stacking program.
HAHAHAHA  (If all of this had been a cake walk, I would have done this long, long, long ago :) ). 

"A STAR TRIAL IS A TYPE OF PHOTOGRAPH THAT UTILIZES LONG-EXPOSURE TIMES TO CAPTURE THE APPARENT MOTION OF STARS IN THE NIGHT SKY DUE TO THE ROTATION OF THE EARTH."  

Three years ago, I had never heard of a star trail. In fact, I had never heard of long exposure, stacking, ISO, aperature, jpeg, raw files, continuous shooting, equivalent exposure...  I thought you purchased a camera, and took photos! Learning photography with a DSLR camera, (digital single-lens reflex)can be compared to learning another language!
AND....WHY WOULD ANYONE GO OUT AND SHOOT PHOTOS AT NIGHT?

ANYWAY, BACK TO THE STAR TRAILS:
This week has been amazingASTRONOMICAL.
We've had successes in our back yard (King Ron and me):
Photo taken from the front deck

Photo taken in the back yard





AND we've had failures, due to not checking for clear skies at our destination, not to mention the wind factor that moved the tripod:
My creative intent was great, but it was cloudy!

















Did  I mention that it was a wee bit chilly on this particular photo fail?  We are still trying to figure out the wind chill for this night. And were we delighted to get back home! It seemed like 'everywhichway' we turned, it was still 16 degrees.


















Call us craaaaaazy, but this has been a fun, adventurous week. We are ready to venture out to other places, when the sky is clear!
HAPPY STAR TRAILS TO YOU!