Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Feed Me!

This is not a story about Audrey the plant from the Little Shop of Horrors. Instead, it's about the occupants of this weathered little red birdhouse.

House sparrows are more closely associated with humans than any other established North American wild bird. There are about three dozen species of sparrows in North America. The species was introduced to New York City in 1851 when NYC faced a serious problem. The snow-white linden moth was devouring fruit trees and leafy elms. City officials hoped the sparrows would devour the moth larvae and they did.

But, there's is a similarity between the fictional Audrey and sparrows — a non-stop appetite. After eating moth larvae, sparrows devoured vital crops, stole the nests of native birds, and flourished in urban habitats by killing off weaker species — in short, they were predators, especially targeting bluebirds. By the 1980's, America’s indigenous bluebird population was in steep decline. It has since been coming back.

Sparrows flourish in large cities and country settings, and can often displace other birds from nest boxes, (I'm unsure if that happened here.) This sparrow family occupied half of a two-nesting birdhouse, which must have been tight quarters.

This duo kept the mother and father sparrow quite busy every 5-10 minutes. Although they are primarily seed-eaters, sparrows also eat small insects and considerable supplies are required to feed the young ones. 

Another similarity to Audrey . . . Come on back and feed me us!
These sparrows were in a mimosa tree at our grandchildren's Rhode Island backyard where we visited last week. We don't have birdhouses in our Virginia backyard, but there are plenty of crepe myrtle trees which annually host several families.

How about you — birdhouses or not?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pretty in Pink

Not referring to our granddaughter (this time) but these blooms in downtown Nashua, NH, this past week.

Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts. Sigmund Freud

Enough said — Enjoy your Sunday and the flowers around you.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

3's a Charm

Earlier posts told of granddaughter's approaching 3rd birthday celebration and a zoo trip. But, no birthday is complete without a celebration and treats too.

Grandpa morning treats of chocolate donuts were shared with her brother.

And, a birthday would not be complete without LOTS of balloons.

A birthday tiara is a must when riding the gift of a very colorful new bike.

What excitement when she saw her birthday cake decorated with favorite Disney characters.

Then, there were the birthday cards and presents opened with mom Shannon's help.

The largest gift was the last one to be opened —assembly required. 

And that's what grandpa Grenville did, not without a bit of frustration at times.

A new home is ready for a doll family.

It's good to be 3!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Baseball & Music

Actually these two have nothing in common, except that both were outdoor events we attended in Nashua, NH, this week on different evenings.

We're not avid sports fans, but couldn't pass up the chance to see the collegiate Silver Knights play at Holman Stadium once again as we did nearly 2 years ago.

The Nashua Silver Knights are a summer baseball team competing in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL). Its 24-player roster consists of New England athletes with local community ties who are currently playing collegiate baseball at Division 1, 2 or 3 levels. 

Holman Stadium, which was built in 1937 as a multi-purpose stadium by the City of Nashua, seats 4,375. It's named for Charles Frank Holman, who contributed $55,000 for the project at the time of its construction. 

The Silver Knights mission statement is to provide affordable family entertainment for the Greater Nashua community at Holman Stadium through baseball. Ticket prices start at $5.

The Silver Knights beat the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs 12-1, which may have prompted this team happy dance.

A free music concert, held outside the Nashua Public Library, featured Bill McGoldrick on acoustic guitar accompanied by Britt Hill, a talented singer and songwriter and senior at Berklee College of Music. The library hosts these evening outdoor concerts weekly in July and August.

Outdoor sports and summer concerts are a couple of things we enjoy most about summer road trips. How about you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Good Read

Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in The Silkworm a new mystery by Robert Galbraith, author of the bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling

Never heard of Galbraith you say?

Well, you may have, IF you know that it's the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Pat and I read this Potter books which are  geared to juveniles and adults. Unlike those, this read is only adult reading in theme and language. It continues the investigative adventures of private investigator (PI) Strike and his assistant, Robin Ellacott.

Strike's PI business is on the upswing after he out-detected the police in solving the murder of a famous supermodel in The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith's first book

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife, Lenora seeks Strike's help in finding and bringing him home. She's reluctant to contact the police as Quine has disappeared and returned before. When Quine is found brutally murdered in an abandoned house under bizarre circumstances (mutilated and doused in hydrochloric acid), this missing persons case becomes a murder investigation. Before his going off and subsequent murder, Quine had completed a Gothic fantasy manuscript, Bombyx Mori (latin for silkworm). It had the potential to ruin many lives — his wife, mistress, literary rival, alcoholic editor, and sexually repressed publisher as it contained libelous portraits of each and more. If published, many people might well have wanted Quine out of the way.

Quine had regarded himself as a genius, notwithstanding the publishing world's view of him as "arrogant" and "deluded." No one would have noticed his disappearance or even cared, if he  had not left this mysterious typewritten novel behind after telling his agent about it. Strike’s inquiries involve the world of writers, publishers, and agents with many twists; Ms. Rowling knows HOW to keep the reader guessing and does so in this lengthy novel.

A Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm are both self-contained novels with no
cliffhangers that required consecutive reading. Ms. Rowling can serialize better than most authors and puts forth enough details to move the plot, but holds back enough to fuel anticipation for a future work. It's expected that seven books are planned with the Cormoran Strike character, coincidentally (or not) the same as in the Harry Potter series.

The Silkworm is a mystery that held my attention throughout, but suspect interrogations grew tedious and often repetitive. At 455 pages, the book is a little too long. But to be fair, most of the Harry Potter novels were SO much much longer. Thankfully this novel has not followed that trend.

Read any good mysteries or suspense novels lately? — if so, feel free to share.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Happening Place

And it's at the Zoo if you recall the word of Simon & Garfunkel's 1967 tune, so that's where we headed for granddaughter's 3rd birthday outing. 

The Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI is one of the oldest zoos in the country and located within the 40-acre Roger Williams Park. The park and zoo are named after the founder of Providence, a 17th-century proponent of religious tolerance. It's now home to over 100 species of rare animals from all over the world in naturalistic settings. 

Roger Williams Zoo, which opened in 1872 with a limited collection of small animals (squirrels, guinea pigs, rabbits, peacocks, hawks and others). 
The zoo's first building, the Menagerie, opened in 1890. By the 1900s, the facility began to spread out over the park, featuring a wider variety of animals including monkeys, bears and large cats.

Over time other new exhibits opened and in 1929, the Menagerie building was converted to a birdhouse; this was followed by the opening of an elephant house in 1930. In the 1930s, a new sea lion pool was constructed. 

It's now one of Rhode Island’s top tourist attractions hosting over half a million people annually from New England and beyond. 

By the mid-1960s, the zoo was showing signs of neglect and in 1962 the Rhode Island Zoological Society was founded to raise funds for new exhibits, improving old exhibits, and providing the groundwork for research, educational programs, and zoo conservation. It's still the non-profit organization that supports and manages the zoo.

Our trip to the zoo ended happily for both child and adults. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Things at 3

Grenville is not the only birthday celebrant in our family this week, granddaughter celebrates #3 this weekend.

Where did the years go — seems like yesterday she was a newborn.

And meeting her very happy elated grandparents (us) just 2 weeks later.

She really knew how to celebrate with cake on her 1st birthday.

Birthday #2 was a little more subdued (at first).

Recent photos of the Princess in our family. Doesn't every family have one?

Her 3rd birthday celebration is this weekend and we'll be there to celebrate with birthday cake, surprises and photos (of course).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Funny

Another funny sent from our good friend, Thomas, in Oregon — a very sad hill?

Looks like it's all downhill from here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Broken Home

That describes the situation faced by this lone baby robin earlier this week. Even though he had the beginnings of flight feathers he wasn't able to fend for himself and not ready to leave the nest, but had no choice. 

His home was blown down from a crepe myrtle tree alongside our home.

We found the nest remains close to the roadside near our home. Pat moved the nest parts  and its lone occupant closer to the house near hedges which offered shelter from the elements and possible predators.

Its parents knew where this young one was and continued to care for it. That bit of red showing is not an injury but a berry that fell from a nearby bush.

The nest crashed down Monday morning and as of late yesterday (Wednesday) this young one was doing well, surviving overnights and a couple of downpours. Its parents kept close watch nearby, chirping loudly when we passed to check in.

We will be out of town for a few days, hopefully he will fledge and fly off before we return. And, maybe one day return to raise a family in one of our crepe myrtle trees.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pat in a Hat

Pat (aka Grenville) is a man of many hats, and the one he's wearing today is a very special one.

No, it's NOT a crown.

It's his Birthday hat — AND . . . 

Today is his birthday !

Since he spends a lot of time outdoors volunteering with several nature and conservation groups, my special gift to him was a Tilley Endurables hat. Canadian-made, these hand-sewn hats are guaranteed for life not to wear out or the company will replace it for free (with a nominal shipping cost). It also came with instructions and a registration form.

Can you tell that he was having some fun with his gift?

He is a man of many hats — as you can see.

Wishing my best friend and husband, a wonderful celebration. Tonight, we will dine out at a local Thai restaurant, his dinner choice. It's also expected that the card fairies will be dropping in with special messages.

Bushels & Acres of Love, Dorothy (aka Beatrice)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Briefly Blooming Beauties

There's a lot of colorful daylilies in the Frog & PenguINN yard. While that's good news, sadly, many of these beauties will soon be gone because, as their name, implies their bloom time is very short. 

Years ago there was abundance of this common and hardy perennial daylily in our yard. This orange daylily goes by several names: orange daylily, tiger daylily and ditch daylily. It's often classified as an invasive plant as it can be found growing wild in fields and roadsides. In recent years, ours have lessened in quantity and bloom color. They were the first to bloom this year and all have "bloomed out" now.

In their place, these daylilies are blooming now. These varieties were purchased several years ago from  Sterrett Gardens, an area daylily farm. I don't remember their names.

And when there are several blooming simultaneously, it's quite striking.

The dark reds are especially eye-catching.

The dark golden yellows are my personal favorites.

Perhaps, it's just because they look like summer with their almost glowing brightness.

There's even one that is close to my favorite color, purple, especially when the bloom is done.

The wildflower meadow is also in bloom and with our recent hot and humid weather, plus a few rainstorms, new varieties are showing up daily. I've taken photos of those too, after fighting off mosquitoes and walking between the bees. Showing those in a future post.

How are your yards doing — flowers, vegetables —  both or none?