Sunday, March 31, 2013

Buona Pasqua

Happy Easter

Pink tulip bloom

We wish everyone a joyous celebration on this special day.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Eggcitement on the Bunny Trail

Today was the day for the BIG Easter egg hunt and grandson and granddaughter were all set.

Egg hunt

Sampling treats found in the hunt was the best part — can you tell that she's a chocolate lover ?

Chocolate lover2

Egg coloring was the next important event with help from Grandpa as it was her first time.

Egg coloring1

Granddaughter has as much color on her hands as on the eggs; her brother is more experienced.

Egg coloring2

All in an afternoon's fun . . .

Colored eggs

Friday, March 29, 2013

On the Bunny Trail

It's that time of year — the Easter holiday which for us includes a road trip with several family visit stops. Our last grand road trip was post-Christmas, so we've been quite the home bodies the past several months. Nothing has been happening as far as interest in the house, which seems the same with other places too in our area. We figure that St Joseph (the statue) buried in the front yard for house-selling success may be waiting out the very long winter season this year — just like everyone else.

So on the road we go and checking out gas prices too . . .

0327 GAS stations

This trip will include fun stuff with grandson and granddaughter Elizabeth, including an egg hunt and egg coloring — Ellie's first time. We may have to tell her not to drink the pretty colored water. We remember giving Bobby this same advice his first time; thankfully, some things may never change.


And, while we have had fun doing egg coloring  at home, sans grandkids, it's WAY more fun doing it with these two.

What are your Easter plans ?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Neighborhood Scenes

Down the street from The Frog & PenguINN are a series of older buildings that have housed business including a machine shop and metal fabrication business. By themselves, the buildings are not especially notable, except when having some imaging fun with Google’s free Picasa editing program.

The original building . . .
barn origAnd, some of its locks and hinges . . .barn parts origChanged details to black and white in Picasa . . .B&W barnSame images in the warm tones of sepia . . .sepia barnNow for some really vibrant colors . . .mod colors
So, the next time you might think there’s nothing to post about, go for a walk even if it’s just around the neighborhood. Take some images and be sure to include the details. Next, if you don’t already have it on your PC or Mac, download Picasa, (free from Google) — and then have some lots of FUN.

ELPH0613 (7)FYI, all of these photos were taken with this Canon PowerShot digital Elph. It’s a very small point & shoot camera with a limited (4X) zoom. But, it’s always with me to capture anything.
Because it’s not the equipment you use, but what you SEE.
Have FUN seeing what all around you — I usually DO !

Monday, March 25, 2013

House Hunting ?

Checking out the soggy real estate . . .

house hunting (3)This robin looked a bit chilled . . .

IMG_9164Today was a dreary, rainy day on the VA eastern shore.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Don't Shoot the Piano Player

That was the message posted in most of the saloons of the Old West. And it probably made good sense as there may not have been too many good piano players out there. Or maybe the patrons enjoyed a musical accompaniment to a good bar brawl. This has little to do with todays problem except that it seems to be a take off of the ancient advice of not killing the messenger.
From Wikipedia: The advice "Don't kill the messenger" was first expressed (very obliquely) by Shakspere in Henry IV, part 2 (1598) and in Antony and Cleopatra: when told Antony has married another, Cleopatra threatens to treat the messenger's eyes as balls, eliciting the response 'gracious madam, I that do bring the news made not the match'. Prior to that, a related sentiment was expressed in Antigone by Sophocles as "No one loves the messenger who brings bad news".

AND as our long time follower, friend, local Sage and neighbor, Possum comments "Shooting the messenger has never changed the message, has it????" Well no. Not if the message was the truth.    The Truth is the Truth.

BUT what if the messenger LIED????? Purgered himself!!!!!  Failed in his fiduciary functions???? Purposely mislead the public that trusted him. The ones who had hung up their snow shovels, parked their snow blowers, and dropped their snow plows. Did Phil lie about Spring?????

Some have said that this was an act of treason.... a clear and present danger. A heinous crime against Nature...Spring flowers just starting to bloom and blossom, and then cruelly FROZEN!!!!  Oh the horrors, the humanities!!!!!!

And even here in the mild and 'muddy' South, we are bracing ourselves for yet another possible onslaught of SNOW later tonight. Friends and neighbors have come to me to repair their greenhouse heat lamps in an effort to Save Spring Blooms. But does that False Prognosticator care?? NO!!! AND he seems proud of it...

SOOOO the question seems to be
"What should be done to Phil?????"
Some have suggested slow roasting, others have recommended
the 8 hours 'Crock Pot' cure, while still others are pushing for banishment to "Bogie Land" where ever that may be.

OR....... Could this all be a big mistake????? Could Phil have been taken hostage????? Could an Impostor been put in his place????? Remember what happens in "Santa Clause III".... Could the nefarious ner-do-well Jack Frost be at it again????? Holding Phil hostage????? Putting the 'Big Chill" on us??????

No matter who is responsible, the one big question that still remains is

Grenville (in need of a warm nankie, cup of cocoa, and a nap)

If you have ben wondering "Whats going on at the Historic Onley Station?????" just click this link

Pink, Purple and Blue

Yesterday, was a perfect day, not quite spring temps, but a dark blue beautiful sky and these pink-violet tulip magnolias were and blue

This tree stands near the front entrance of the local YMCA. It been in bloom for over a week, so I brought my Canon digital Elph to capture the colors. (Yup, that’s me and my shadow below.)
tulip magnolia (16)tulip magnolia (12)
The tulip magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) is also known as saucer magnolia, which is descriptive of the goblet-shaped flowers of rose-pink flushed with violet-purple, fading to white. It blooms profusely in early spring with large pink to purple showy flowers and grows best in full sun or partial shade.
tulip magnolia (17)tulip magnolia (24)
It’s nice to be “greeted” by this beautifully colorful plant especially before starting a workout, when the weather has been anything but spring-like. More rain and maybe sleet or snow flurries coming.shadow art2

Speaking of shadows, here’s some SOOC (straight-out-of the camera) shots with LOTS of shadows and a touch of color.

It’s always so nice to have a camera along.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Phil Must Pay!!!!!!

So, how many of you are just thrilled with Phil the Furry Rodent and his prediction of spring?????

I knew something was up on Feb 2 this year as i drove past our local Sears store and there in front was Mike and Mandy Muskrat (of Rat Trap Creek fame) checking out new SNOW BLOWERS!!!!!
I kid you not!!!! I was so amazed that i forgot to take a picture.....

Yes sirree..... Instead of being out on the Rat Trap Creek Municipal Beach, basking in the sun, and firing up the bar-b-que, they were getting ready to buy a new SNOW BLOWER!!!!!!....

You notice i didn't say a new Sunshine Blocker, or a new Air Conditioner, not even a new Lawn Mower.....

Well if you want to have your opinion known here is the place

Here's where you can vote whether Phil should face EXECUTION for mis-prognostication.....

Grenville (slogging through the MUD!!!)

Leftovers Get a Remake

Leftovers are great and while we both enjoy cooking, it’s nice when there’s extras for another meal, preferably NOT the next night.

Our recent pulled pork dinner was great as was the crockpot chicken stew two days later. We had invited friends to join us for both meals, but still had leftovers, we combined them for a different meal.

Both the pork and the chicken were already cooked; the pork was shredded and so we did the same for the chicken. This prep time was relatively very easy.

Our new meal — pork and chicken burritos.

First, the oven was preheated to 375 degrees. Using a package of corn tortillas, IMG_8954Grenville added shredded pork in two and shredded chicken in another two, then rolled and folded both ends. Leftover sauce from the crockpot chicken was spread on the bottom of a baking dish and on top of the tortillas. This was all covered with some a LOT of shredded cheddar cheese and oven-baked for 30 minutes. Coleslaw was leftover from another meal (finished in this one).

These were filling enough to only have one, so again leftovers for another meal, plus the extra tortillas made great breakfast wraps.

Do you have a favorite way to use certain leftovers ?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

And This is WHY . . .

Our bird feeders at The Frog & PenguINN are not filled as often as before — the very Unwelcome Visitors (UV) are back in town.

That’s because around this time of year there’s nothing in the surrounding fields to feed on, so backyard feeders become very attractive and attract large groups of UVs in the form of grackles, starlings and cowbirds.dropping inThe most dominant group are the Common Grackles, which  are blackbirds that look like they've been  stretched out. They're taller and longer tailed than a typical blackbird, with a longer, more tapered bill and glossy-iridescent bodies. Grackles walk around lawns and fields on long legs or gather in (extremely noisy groups high in trees, typically evergreens. feeding time2Common Grackles are resourceful foragers and will usually follow plows to catch anything churned up in the fields. While they eat many crops, grackles are the primary threat to corn fields; they eat ripening corn as well as corn sprouts, and their habit of foraging in big flocks means they have a multi-million dollar impact. feeding timeEven though they are way too oversized to fit into the tubular bird feeders, they grasp on the edges and shake out the seeds. As annoying and unattractive as these “takeovers”  can be, there  is always a show provided.

For example, grackles are always looking up, but not at other birds. Curious about this behavior, I checked online to learn that they tilt their heads back and bills up to show who's boss. It's a dominance display and ornithologists have given not one but three names to this trait: the Bill Tilt, Bill Up, and Head Held Up Threat.. looking up1Males typically tilt their bills up when another male approaches, and after one bird tilts the longest and highest, the other bird will either leave or back down. Grackles of the opposite sex will also give the display to each other early in the breeding season before they find a mate, but paired birds never perform the display to one another.

In 1963, Robert W. Ficken of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology described grackle behavior: “The Head Held Up threat, with its many variable components, presumably signals rather precisely the varying degrees of readiness to attack or escape," he wrote. "Such precision of expression would serve to reduce fighting, stress, and time wastage in a species where there is much close contact among individuals.”

Yesterday, this grackle seemed to be showing off his physique to a less than interested audience.IMG_8987Once the weather starts to warm up (there were snow flurries all day) and the fields begin to dry out and get turned, then these UV will (hopefully) move on.  And, if it wasn’t for the fact that we DO get a lot of VERY Welcome Visitors — cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, juncos, chickadees and other songbirds — the feeders would remain empty from about March to May.

hawk side (4)And, where is that Sharp-Shinned Hawk that was hanging around a few weeks ago? It seems that these UVs are unattractive to other UVs, including a predator cause it’s been nowhere in sight lately.
Now, about that neighborhood alley cat that was hanging around last week. “here kitty, kitty . . .”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Coming Soon . . .

Happy 1st day of SPRING — according to the calendar.bloomingIt’s may be late this year due to the unpredictability of Mother Nature. These flowers just bloomed at the F&P this week.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Snow ?

Folks in other parts of the country, especially in the Midwest and New England are getting hit with yet more winter snows. Other folks in neighboring southern states have gotten lots more rain, including the VA eastern shore where we live.

Here at The Frog & PenguINN on the VA eastern shore, we had very little snow, but MORE rain Sunday and Monday. First, there was a (very) light wet snow. Grenville’s shovel was ready on the back porch; the penguins were snow-dancing on the front porch.


As you can see, no shoveling was needed, the rains washed the snow away within a few hours.

0318 snow picsBut, the snow on the backyard pine was pretty for a very short time.

IMG_8974We hope the weather isn’t causing too much grief in your location.

Maybe that PA groundhog needs to find another gig cause his forecasting was WAY off this year.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bittersweet & Other Reads

That’s first word describes my feelings a couple of weeks ago as I picked up several  reserved books at our local library. One of these, A Week in Winter, was the final novel written by Irish writer Maeve Binchy, who passed away unexpectedly in late 2012. Ms. Binchy was among my favorite authors; an earlier post had more details on her writings.

When her death was announced, there was also mention of this recently completed book, and months ago, I placed a library hold request and forgot about it. So, it was an unexpected delight that this one was waiting for me. A Week in Winter is full of Ms. Binchy’s trademark humor and characters  you come to know all about — as if they’ve become good friends.

This book one was no exception.

IMG_8402Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where everyone knows everyone. Chicky Starr returns home after spending 20 years in America, pretending she's been widowed by an American husband she never  married. She plans to convert Stone House, an old mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, into a bed & breakfast seaside holiday resort. Her staff includes Rigger (bad boy turned good who becomes the house manager, marries and fathers twins) and Orla, Chicky’s niece who needing a lifestyle change, becomes an accomplished chef. After months of work, Stone House is ready for its first guests:  John, the American movie star, who thinks he’s travelling incognito; Winnie and Lillian who were talked into taking a holiday together; Drs. Nicola and Henry, who have been shaken by seeing too much death; Anders, a young Swede, who hates his father’s business, but has a talent for music; Miss Nell Howe, a retired schoolteacher, who criticizes everything; the Walls, a contest entering couple, who are unhappy at winning a week’s stay at Stone House as first prize was a Paris stay; and Freda, the librarian, who is afraid her psychic visions have a way of coming true.

Binchy's stories are sketchier in this final work, than in previous books, perhaps due to a rush to complete this final book. Nevertheless, it was good to settle down for a final read with a favorite author one last time.

J.K. Rowling is best known for the Harry Potter series beloved by young and older readers alike. A Casual Vacancy is her first novel solely for adults.IMG_8400 Its setting is Pagford, a suburban West Country town, and begins with the death of Parish Councillor Barry Fairbrother. Subsequently, a seat on the council is vacant and a conflict ensues before the election for his successor occurs. Factions develop, concerning whether to dissociate with a local council estate, “the Fields,” which Barry supported an alliance with. However, those running for a place soon find their darkest secrets revealed on the Parish Council online forum, ruining their campaign and leaving the election in turmoil.

This novel was not to my liking; I quit reading after only 3 chapters.

The Clifton Chronicles is Jeffrey Archer’s ambitious series of which the first two out of five books, Only Time Will Tell and The Sins of the Father, have been released. The third book, The Best Kept Secret, is due at the end of April.

archer chronicles (2)Only Time Will Tell includes a cast of characters that span the Great War to the outbreak of the WW II, when Harry Clifton must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany. From the docks of working-class England to the streets of 1940 New York City, it paves the way for future volumes, which will bring to life 100 years of history to reveal a family story.

The epic of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920, with the words “I was told that my father was killed in the war.” Harry never knew his father, a Bristol dock worker, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle Stan, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he’s left school. An unexpected gift wins Harry a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school. As he enters adulthood, Harry learns how his father really died, but the truth only leads him to question, if he is the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who spent his whole life on the docks, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line.

In Sins of the Father, it is only days before Britain declares war onarcher chronicles (3) Germany. Harry Clifton, hoping to escape the consequences of a family scandal, and realizing he can never marry the woman he loves, Emma Barrington, has joined the Merchant Navy. When a German U-boat sinks his ship, Harry and a handful of sailors are rescued among them an American named Tom Bradshaw. When Bradshaw dies, Harry seizes a chance to bury his past, by assuming the man’s identity. But after landing in Best Kept SecretAmerica, he learns his mistake, when he finds out what was awaiting Bradshaw in New York.  With no way of proving his identity, Harry Clifton becomes chained to a past that could be worse than the one he had hoped to escape.

In the Best Kept Secret, the drama will continue with the marriage of Harry Clifton and Elizabeth Barrington for Harry Clifton and bring this family saga into the 1960s.

Thanks to the recommendation of fellow blogger Rebecca suspect (2)of Shenandoah Gateway Farm, I just finished my first book by Robert Crais, author of the popular Elvis Cole and Joe Pike novels. This new book is a stand-alone novel and not part of a series, which is what attracted me to it. Of course, the characters may very well turn out to be featured in future Crais novels.

Scott James is an LAPD officer whose partner, Stephanie, was murdered and he was seriously wounded. Maggie is a USMC-trained German shepherd patrol dog who lost her handler, Pete, in Afghanistan and also was seriously wounded. Both Scott and Maggie suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Now, as part of an LAPD K9 team, they learn to help each other trust and love again and investigate the case no one wants them to touch, the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie.  What they learn is nothing like what Scott has been told. The journey takes them through darkest moments of their past.

This was a fast read and,while I am not a huge fan of novels of this type, I may try one or two more works by Mr. Crais.

How about you — any books to recommend ?