Bluebirds outside my window

I was making monthly visits to see my mother last year when I noticed that one of her bluebird boxes was occupied. She was in and out of hospitals for a while, and I was in and out of state. But I managed few peeks at them now and then.

Dad or a sibling seemed always to be on the lookout. Whether they were looking for danger, or searching for bugs, I wasn’t sure. But they usually saw me and my camera, and weren’t afraid to let me know it.

daddy lookout
Dad watching from the power line.
bluebird helper
‘I see you,’ big brother seemed to say to me.
big bros gotcha
Nearly every time I walked outside, I saw bright eyes looking at me.

Aside from all the people watching the bluebird family engaged in, they were just as busy catching bugs. Crawling bugs, flying bugs – I’m not sure how they found them all.

have a worm
This older sibling checked for predators before offering the babies a tasty worm.
pesky bug
But some bugs proved easier to handle than others.
double trouble
‘You go first.’ ‘No, YOU go first.’
lucky bug
This little wasp didn’t know how lucky he was.
suppers ready
Daddy stayed busy, but I never saw Mama.
bugs yum
Once you catch it, you gotta eat it.
daddys home
Checkin’ on the babies.
head in
‘You OK in there?’
whered those babies go
An older sibling, careful to keep an eye on me.

I wanted to see the fledglings, but I had to leave, and when I got back a week later, the family had moved on.

I did manage a tiny glimpse at one of them, though.

hungry baby
Waiting impatiently.

 

 

 

 

Alice’s green thumb

Mom has loved flowers for as long as I can remember.

Every spring when we were young, she would take us to little flower shops up the road from the hill we lived on. We would pass by rows and rows of blooming plants, inhaling the rich scent of flowers and dark brown soil. After we brought her favorites to the house, she would dig some holes in some of her existing flowerbeds and introduce each plant to its new home, where it would thrive.

After we grew up and left, Mom’s love affair with flowers continued. She and Dad put up a chain-link fence, and she planted bushes of hibiscus all down one side. There were more flowers surrounding Dad’s free-standing shop, and her front flowerbed was always full. Last spring and summer, after giving the plot a good weeding, I camped out near the flowerbed and took pictures of hummingbirds, who were drawn to the sugar-water feeders we hung.

female hummer
Mom had a yard full of ruby-throated hummingbirds last summer.

We brought Mom to live with us in North Carolina last August (under protest, she will tell you). But before we left, I took pictures of some of the flowers she had to leave. This way, she can always remember what they looked like.

mom flowerbed overview
There are all kinds of plants hiding in here!
moon flower
These moonflowers were some of Mom’s favorites.
alium
Alium. Or an ornamental onion, as I like to call them.
purple iris
Purple is Mom’s favorite color.
shamrock
Beautiful shamrocks are part of the under story of Mom’s garden.
hibiscus shrub
One of Mom’s many hibiscus blooms.
black eyed sue
A random flower in Mom’s backyard.
hibiscus bud
A wisteria bloom on Mom’s deck.
tiger in wisteria
Mom’s cat Tiger trying to stalk birds on her back deck. I’m sure he misses the old house, too!

 

 

You’re never too old to bathe in the forest

Two-thousand seventeen has been a busy year for us, with all the moving around. I relocated to West Virginia for five months to take care of Mom, while my husband worked on assignment in South Carolina. On weekends, we met in the middle to house hunt. Our old place wasn’t practical any more.

In between doctor and hospital visits, we found a new house. Bill moved onto a new job site, and in August, Mom and I and her cats moved into the new house, bought with her in mind. We’ve been learning to live with each other again, and working on settling in, ever since.

Some days we find a lot to laugh about, and on others, we move to our respective “corners,” but we try our best to make things work. Bill was home this week, and after I finished working on an online project, I went outside to try to talk Mom into taking a walk. Bill had beat me to it. I found him escorting her through the woods.

mom and the woods
Mom grew up running around in the woods, and she still enjoys it, at a somewhat slower pace.

She had a great time viewing the fall colors, being “back in the woods,” and managed the dips and hills in the uneven ground much better than I thought she would.

IMG_20171103_163754 (2)
Pines mingle with deciduous trees throughout the woods around our house.

I went back to the house to grab her walking stick my brother crafted for her, along with my camera. Some of the trees have lost their fall foliage, but others have just joined the show.

IMG_20171103_163956 (2)
I would name all these trees if I could, but we left Mom’s tree ID book back at her old house. One more thing to add to the list when we make a return visit.

We came in and ate some lunch, then Mom and I went out for another look. She sat and took a rest while I marveled at the color all around us.

riot of red leaves (2)
I do love the blues and greens of the ocean, but the colors of fall are beautiful, too.

I read this week that the Japanese use a term we loosely translate as “forest bathing” to describe a relaxing time in the woods. I think it’s a great term, as our souls were soaking up the beauty of all those colors today.

leaves closeup
Fall is my favorite season, and now that the most of the pollen has blown away, I can enjoy it.

Mom said she has had enough walking for a few days, but the trees are not far from the house. I bet I can talk her into another session of forest bathing over the weekend.

mom on well

 

Family is what you make of it

The first time Mom laid eyes on Shere Khan, she was answering an ad for a kitten who needed a new home. “He doesn’t like people,” the man said. Mom sat down, and Shere Khan promptly jumped up on her lap to say hello. She brought him home. He was to be a companion cat to Tiger, a lovely ragamuffin kitten my brother-in-law had found in a parking lot in Virginia, and brought him on a family trip to see my parents. Tiger ended up staying, but he was about to claw my Dad to death. The vet said he needed a playmate.

Enter Shere Khan.

upside down
Shere Khan’s motto: The more attention, the better.

The first time I laid eyes on the gray tabby, he was full of the usual kitten antics, but he had a new trick to share, one I found hilarious. He would sit back on his hind legs and rise up, front feet dangling, like a meerkat. He was warmly affectionate, and highly entertaining. I called him my Little Buddy.

Tiger was always more aloof. My sister and mother call him snooty. But I think he’s just a little shy.

lookin lovely
Tiger, bird-watching on the deck.

That was until last fall, when I started traveling to check on Mom, on a more-or-less regular basis. I tried each trip to make friends, and he eventually became less standoffish. He even stood still for some petting, now and then.

tiger playing
Tiger’s pretty fond of sleeping, but he and Shere Khan both like to play.

A few months ago, when Mom got sick, I essentially moved in to help her out. Both kitties got used to me pretty quick, and I’ve discovered most of Tiger’s hiding spots for sleeping. Shere Khan likes to curl up beside me and take a nap. He lets me know, either by staring, winding around my legs or by talking, that it’s time for me to stop what I’m doing and dole out some attention.

Watching them play is fun, but I’ve come to enjoy seeing them groom each other. While one is licking, the other usually has a blissful look on his face.

wash dah face
Shere Khan thinks Tiger does a purr-fect job washing his face.

I caught them at bath-time this afternoon, and they ignored me for a while.

aaah
Mmmmm. You got the right spot.

That is, until I turned on the flash.

tiger licking
Hey! I’m takin’ a bath, here.

Luckily, Shere Khan is quick to forgive. Like Tiger, I’ve been the recipient of several of his loving head-bumps.

headbump
Shere Khan gives Tiger an affectionate head-bump.