When Birds Depart

Photo by M.A.D.

I’ve been noticing that most of the birds around here are gone. We enjoy a variety of birds during spring and summer, and lately, I have been missing their songs and chirpings. For some reason, this departure seems earlier than usual to me, and I am wondering if this will translate into an early winter for us. Nature knows best, and it certainly has been quiet around here, except for the crows and night critters, which are very loud. The Katydids are gone for sure. I enjoy their songs every late summer, and surely miss it.

This year, we are preparing earlier than usual, getting things ready for the cold weather. Winter will certainly be more expensive this year, and we have to make some adjustments. The price of heat pellets has gone up about $2.00 more per bag. There are 50 bags to a ton, and we go through 3-4 tons a winter depending on how cold it is, and how long the cold temperatures last. One winter we went through 5 tons. It was an early winter that lasted longer. The energy companies are already letting customers know of their increase. Budgets will have to be adjusted and readjusted more than once to accommodate a cost increase on pretty much everything. Non-essentials will be eliminated, and essentials will be monitored well. Instead of value for the money, value per use will be more important. It will be an experience for the new generations, a memory trigger for older ones. Seasons come and go in nature and in life. Every season has its worries, but it also has its blessings. Let’s focus on the later. Focusing on the blessings certainly changes perspective and balance expectations.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

Community Solar Farm?

These days it is all about solar. Last week, while researching my neighborhood news I came across an article about a community solar farm in our area. I find solar farms hideous, unsightly, and not as good as people claim these to be. For the landowner, it means good rental income for the next 30 years, for the rest of the people, just plain ugly. The article claims that the project will be a small solar farm, concealed by vegetation and remotely operated, no onsite engineers. Let’s hope so. The article claims that Dominion Energy customers will benefit from it, lowering their energy bills. I am not a customer, and we are serviced by a cooperative in the neighborhood, but it might be affiliated somehow. I feel sorry for the neighbors who will have to look at it. It will be located next door to the MVP, another hideous project, halted twice and still in the courts, that will bring no meaningful benefit to our community. I dislike when pretty little towns want to become like big cities, bad fit. Solar farms are popping up all over Virginia. Our little town has approved about 8 or so lately. I saw an interview (on another town) where a poor woman was almost in tears because her home was surrounded in all four sides by acres of solar panels, and she happened to be in the middle, no buffers between her property line and the solar panels, and she demonstrated how she could stretch her hand from her property line and almost touch the panels; these were that close. Once she was surrounded by farmland, and beautiful vegetation, which gave way to this nightmare. Imagine, who would ever want to buy her home? There are many stories of property owners being affected by this. I admit that I did not know much about the topic, so I decided to do a bit of research to educate myself; after all, we will have a small one on almost 57 acres of land nearby. The owners, not local people, but out of state people, who bought the land. Recently, about last week, another 58 acres came up for sale next to it, and these were scooped up right away; I hope not by the same owners.

After researching a bit, it seems to me that solar farms are not as green as these might appear. The panels last about 30 years and during that time, the metals and materials used during manufacturing degrade and end up on the soil or water sources, contaminating these, and posing a risk, if not properly monitored. After 30 years, the solar company is supposed to dispose safely of these panels and clean up the land. Solar panels require a lot of cooling off thus requiring a significant amount of water. We all have wells around here and are very happy with our wells. I hope we do not have to convert to water lines/sewer because we do not welcome the extra expense, and you know how expensive your water bill is. A few weeks ago, I saw a survey company marking utilities in the area. I asked one of the workers, “what are you doing and why?” He truly did not know the answer. He said that he only worked for the survey company and did not know any more information. They were marking utilities as far as route 29, which worries me a bit. As I write this post, I can see the orange and blue markers at a distance, orange is for communication lines… and blue is for water lines.

In addition, the mirrors in the solar panels cause injury to birds, burning their feathers. So much for green energy – soil and water contaminants, which leaves the land not good for future crops, large water requirements to cool down and operate the solar farm, acres of flora destroyed, fauna injuries … In a nearby town, Amazon is planning to set up a Mega Solar Farm, one of the largest. The happy landowners will certainly benefit from it, maybe the next 30 years. Let’s abandon agriculture in the name of solar energy, it surely will taste good in a possible famine. As you might be able to tell, I am not a fan.

Something for you to learn about. I was very happy when the land where this community solar farm will be located changed zoning from R-1 (residential 1) to A-1 (agricultural). For me, it meant more farm use and less dwellings. Little did I know that this change meant that the land use is just one step away now to become industrial zoning. But what do I know? I rather have a stinking cow farm next door than an apartment building, a factory, or a solar farm, so I might not be the best judge or advocate; I’m bias. Well, at least solar farms are quiet, and if properly concealed, I might not even notice it. That is until the future tells a different story on health hazards. Right now, according to WHO – World Health Organization – (and who trust them these days?) there is not sufficient scientific data that solar farms affect health in any way. There is some information on people who suffer from electro sensitivity, which means that the radiation that devices/signals such as Wi-Fi, 5G … emit affect these people severely, even might shorten their lifespan, but nothing concrete.

I even question if it is wise or safe to have a solar farm next to a gas pipeline, but that’s me. Our little town proudly displays a sign that reads “Bird Sanctuary.”

Welcome home solar farms, welcome home.

The Simple Life – Simple Grocery List During Hard Times

As a follow up to the previous post, I thought that this topic would be of some practicality. I’ve met all kinds of people in my lifetime, rich people, poor people, and people in between. Each person views the world/life in a different way. Their life situation determines how they see the most basic things. Some people might consider eating steak daily, or an iPhone, a necessity, while for others it is a luxury. Their views are different according to their experience. For some people, “hard times” might be lacking the luxuries they are accustomed to enjoy, but for other people, it might mean lacking the basic necessities such as food, water, electricity … At the grocery store, I have seen people putting a basic staple back on the shelf, the shopping cart containing only a couple of necessary items. I’ve also seen the frustration in their faces. What would you do if you had to come up with a small grocery list that would give you the most for your very limited budget, last longer, and provide basic nutrients? Would you know what to buy or how to make it last? Would you even know where to start?

When having a very limited budget sale price is important, but also, brands and organic products might have to be passed by if the cost is much more than you can afford at the moment. Price per ounce or servings might become important instead, and knowing shelf life might be necessary, in case you cannot shop in a longer period of time. Knowing how to preserve and make last what you bought might also be important. During hard times, your brain will be rewired differently, and you will start thinking in ways you have never thought before. Words such as ration, preparedness, long-lasting … and other words will become familiar words. Suddenly, your vocabulary has been expanded, and so has your old world.

Once I met a very educated elderly lady who had been very prosperous. Her world change one day when her country became a communist country. She was left with nothing. Her nephews and other family members were shot against a wall, and she had to escape her beloved country in a cargo boat, thanks to a captain she knew and was her friend. She left her country with only the clothes she had on, and her daughter, hidden on that boat. I will never forget the lessons I learned through that lady.

Your world, your situation can change in a short period of time (there is no blame here). When life changes and hard times come, how you respond to change is extremely important. I also met a rich gentleman who once told me that his kids only received one gift for Christmas. He wanted them to appreciate what they had and see the season for what it truly was. I met many people for whom the only source of food was the local food pantry and not the supermarket. All of them beautiful souls in very different circumstances.

What would you do if suddenly, food became an important challenge in your life? You would probably go back to simple basics. Here is an example of a very simple, basic, and long-lasting food and basic essentials list. Although this list is very basic, I know that for some people it might seem a long list (26 items), depending on the circumstances. The list requires for you to know how to cook, combine meals or ingredients, and ration meals. Also, assuming you only can purchase one of each, or what your budget allows.

  • milk (any kind). Powder milk is long-lasting. A source for calcium, vitamin D, your dairy.
  • butter or oil (your fats, also for cooking.
  • flour – for many uses (any kind of flour, and also will last)
  • rice or pasta – a little fills you up.
  • beans – good source of protein; you need protein to live.
  • bread or crackers – fills you up, carbohydrates/sugar give you energy. Can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also make your own bread or crackers by using flour.
  • eggs (liquid or powder too, powder will last you longer). Source of protein. Can use any time as a meal.
  • salt – for flavor, cooking, and medicinal. Also supplies iodine which you need to survive.
  • pepper – for flavor.
  • cheese – (your dairy and protein). Any kind will do in an extreme situation, even powder cheese or Velveeta cheese, which are long-lasting.
  • coffee or any powder drink – Although not essentials, (you can drink water if needed) some people need their caffeine, and many powder drinks provide sugars and are enhanced with vitamins or minerals.
  • meat, fish, or poultry – for extra protein, but if you cannot afford these, an alternative is canned meat or peanut butter. Peanut butter is long-lasting and does not require refrigeration. It will provide fats, sugars, and protein for your body. It is also affordable in comparison to other items.
  • fruit – for vitamins and antioxidants.
  • tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, puree) – for cooking
  • sugar or honey – for cooking or if you cannot go without it for flavoring meals.
  • canned veggies – if you cannot afford more expensive veggies these will do.
  • apple cider vinegar – for cooking, but also aids in digestion, and also for cleaning.
  • baking soda – for baking, but can also be used as a toothpaste, for acid and indigestion, or even cleaning your home.
  • bar of soap – for bathing, but also cleaning and laundry.
  • toilet paper
  • toothpaste
  • pain relief pills/alcohol/hydrogen peroxide/Vaseline – first aid as needed. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean your teeth.

If you can afford a bottle of multi-vitamins that will help provide what is lacking in your diet.

One can make bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, pancakes with flour.

Anything in powder form or canned is longer-lasting.

Pets, kids, and people with special diets or medical conditions will require other food items, meds …

When in need, your local food pantry, church, or community action center can be of much help. They can also direct you to other services.

I hope this list is helpful, however, when in need, I will also add a prayer to your Creator. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Love and light.

“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

Psalm 119:45

October Fright

October is almost here, and with it, the Halloween decorations start appearing in stores and homes. When I was a child I loved Halloween, and as an adult, I enjoyed making elaborated candy bags for the neighborhood kids, as many as a hundred bags, and many times, all of them went before 8 PM that day. I enjoyed seeing the little kid’s costumes, and in the back of my mind I always picked a favorite – the winner for the day. I dressed up for work on a few occasions – alien, ninja, enchantress … Although I don’t celebrate Halloween anymore, (my views of the celebration have changed considerably), I think most people enjoy dressing up for it, and enjoy the day with their kids. In lieu of it, I have decided to post a few four-line poems, quartets.

White Lies

Coward surrounded by white

Eagles left behind.

Rotten soul hiding behind the mask,

slowly decaying, festering in lies.

***

A Broken Touch

Not Midas, nor gold

Broken is the old man’s touch.

Chaos, disarray, disdain …

IT brings forward a broken world.

***

The Boogie Man

Everything he touches crumbles,

taste of decay and desolation.

Lonely soul awaiting fate

Days run short, darkness engulfs him.

Photo by M.A.D.

Tranzor Z

A very cool song by Marc Schuster. Enjoy!

Abominations

Tranzor Z was a cartoon I used to watch after school when I was in grade school. The premise was that a teenage pilot would land a hovercraft inside the head of a giant robot and then control the robot from inside the hovercraft. The robot’s name was Tranzor Z, and he defended the world from invading monsters.

I originally started writing this song when I was working on a project with my friend Brandon Heffley. The original lyrics were a bout a pizza deliveryman who likens his job to fighting off monsters from the outer reaches of the galaxy. It was kind of funny, but I thought something was missing.

So I started thinking about the kind of kid who might like a show like Tranzor Z, and I figured it would be someone who, like me, got picked on a bit in school. For a while, I…

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A Taste of Childhood

If anything, this pandemic has made us more creative in other areas. For some, having time to kill (not trying to be insensitive here) has sparked creativity without limits. For me, it has made me reflect and ponder many areas of my life, and revisit many childhood memories. One of my favorites is when my grandmother used to set aside a day to make “frituras” (fritters), a type of Puerto Rican cuisine. It did not happen all the time, but when it did, we were filled with anticipation, taste anticipation that is, because these fritters were delicious. Having lived most of my life here, my exposure to these authentic fritters was limited. The closest in flavor was at a restaurant in Connecticut many decades ago. Over the weekend, I decided to try and recreate that feeling at least, because I wasn’t sure I would be able to recreate my grandmother’s fritters flavor just how she used to make them, heavenly and close to perfection. Of course, I would never beat my grandmother in the kitchen, but the sentiment was there and all I wanted to do was to capture the memories in a tangible and delicious form.

It took me three days to capture the feeling, and I don’t think I will be recapturing it anytime soon. These fritters take time to make, especially because everything is made from scratch. It also requires frying, and I don’t like to fry because it is a bit messy. I divided the task in three days, one kind of fritter per day. For my husband, who loves these, they were three days of pure bliss. It was a good feeling accompanied by the sweetest memories of my grandmother and childhood.

Day One

On day one, I started with the easiest kind to make – Rellenos de Papa, translated to Potato Balls filled with meat, usually ground beef, but you can fill these with any kind of meat, or chicken/turkey. I have to say that these came out pretty close in flavor and appearance. I am not going to include recipes on this blog post, but if anyone is interested in the recipe, you can leave a comment below and I will answer it. Here is what they looked like.

Rellenos de Papa (Potato Balls filled with ground beef)

Day Two

On the second day, I decided to make Pastelillos, roughly translated to a type of Beef Pattie. Again, you can use any type of meat or chicken/turkey filling, however the traditional way is to use ground beef with tiny pieces of potatoes mixed in as the filling. These took a bit longer to make because I made the round shells from scratch. If I want to be technical, these would be called Empanadillas, which is the same except that the color is white instead of yellow, and the shell is a bit thicker and dense. These came out delicious but nothing like my grandmother’s. Here is what they looked like.

A bit of the process. The key is the shell, which is round.
Pastelillos (Beef Patties).

Day Three

On the third day, I made Bacalaitos, translated to Codfish fritters. However, I have made these before because these are easy to make, and something that my grandmother made more often than the other two kinds for the same reason. I did not have codfish, so I used canned ham, just because I wanted to do these. If you get the seasonings right, you will not miss the codfish. These turned out very good and the seasoning was right. My grandmother used to serve these with bread, and so did I.

Bacalaitos (fritters)

And what does all this has to do with writing? Nothing and everything. Inspiration is fueled by letting your spirit delight in other things not related to writing. It is fueled by enjoyment, by taking the time to step out of the routine and clear your mind and heart. To pursue that which recharges the soul so later on you can recharge the pen, and to delight one’s mind in the pursue of happiness, which undeniably would make a better writer. On my second novel, Ramblings of the Spirit, one of the key characters (Olga Gartier) makes a very delicious meal (cornbread crab cakes and squash casserole), which Jeremy Sandbeck, an Anarth, loves and cannot have enough of it. Sometimes, food has its place in writing.

Autumnal Miracles

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, from the weather to the colors, and particularly the scents. Every tone and shade seems to become richer and deeper. Around here, this is the time when I can see the colors change and the scent in the air speaks of transition. I say around here because in many other areas nearby the leaves are almost gone and it is starting to look bare, but for me, not so.

Unlike last year, the hues around are vibrant.

It is a bit of a messy season too, lots of cleaning to be done, and preparations for next year. I guess the beauty it holds makes up for it. If you look around, and you look well, there are tiny miracles happening: the last of a sprout or flower, the beginning of another, a young plant displaying the colors of the more mature and royal ones, tiny birds fluffing up, deer changing coat color, and farther views on the horizon … so much to see.

When a world goes to sleep another awakens.
A hidden world comes to light.
Nature prepares and makes the best of what’s left from the previous season.

Trees go into deep slumber to awaken refreshed in the spring. I’ve heard that trees have hidden faces in plain view, and that if you look closely, they will reveal its face to you. It is something you know as a kid and wish to see one day. I think I did.

The face of an old tree that has gone through many seasons.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Enjoy this season, and try to find the beauty in it, the hidden eternal beauty.

The Long Lost Garden

I love flowers and all kinds of plants. Maybe because I have strong memories of my grandmother’s garden when I was a kid. The garden was not large, but it seemed huge to a 4 year old. I felt at ease in it, lost in time in it. Eventually, the garden was eliminated and concrete took its place. The magic was gone.

My favorite style of garden is the English garden. It is wild and free, and at the same time contained by itself. I always thought that an English garden had soul. I dislike manicured gardens that are too planned, symmetrical, and rigid. Where’s the life in that? When we purchased this old house, it had been abandoned for 3-4 years, neglected by previous renters, and the owners where out of state, the heirs to a woman who loved her garden. People who grew up in the neighborhood and knew her, tell me about her love for flowers and plants, and how she used to walk through her garden, admiring it. I am told she was a very tall woman, and neighbors were used to seeing her walk regal amongst her plants. Unfortunately, she fell on an icy day, and never quite recovered. Her beloved home became a rental, and no one took care of her garden the way she did. Eventually, the house fell in disrepair and ended up a dilapidated farmhouse waiting to be demolished, either by time or by people. That is, until we found it and resurrected its soul. This post is about its garden, and about uncovering and working with existing areas in an effort to use the not so obvious/the hard to see potential, and saving money in the process.

The house and premises were covered in overgrown vegetation, and the preexisting garden, if any at that point, was gone. There were a few plantings in bad shape. Unable to move right away, we took short trips to start clearing up the overgrown vegetation, and once under control, hired someone to cut the grass regularly so it wouldn’t grow too wild again. The house sat for another five years until we moved, for a total of eight years. As we cleared the morass of bushes and trees, we got an idea of what could be salvaged and what had to be removed. It was a long process that continues until today, mostly because we are doing it ourselves. Three very large trees remain, two dead trees and one very large near the house. It is diseased and requires professional handling as well as the other two. That will be next on the agenda.

Few plants remained of the original garden. An overgrown hydrangea in bad shape, a tiny rose bush buried in weeds, two dwarf boxwoods that we thought were gone for good but made it. A Rose of Sharon bush that we were able to save, a large bush of ornamental grass, and existing pine trees. We were able to free a forsythia that was growing wild under the siding and spread out high over the porch. Remnants of irises and other small plants were found thriving under bushes and all kinds of weeds. We transplanted those to other areas, hoping for the best. They took to their new area beautifully, almost as if grateful for being freed. Little by little we found bits and pieces of what once was a woman’s beloved garden.

When I think about it, it was a lot of work, hard work. Our neighbors cannot believe the transformation. One neighbor told us that he thought the house was eventually going to be torn down or fall on its foundation. Many people have come to see the house, a house they lived in at one point, played in, or visited. They all approve of the respectful changes, and they all agree that the woman who loved her garden so much would approve of it as well. I am glad they feel that way. It means that we are accomplishing what we set out to do. On this post, I will share some before and after pictures.

Entrance to the house then, and entrance today.

 

One of our latest projects was to add marble chips around the house to prevent weeds from growing. This area was covered in weeds and bushes. All the plantings were existing or transplanted from another area when found. The rose bush has grown healthy and has required a trellis.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Here you can see the forsythia that we cut to shape and trimmed. It seems happy now. All the potted plants have been added or transplanted.

These are the same areas before. On first arrival and after clearing some of the vegetation.

 

The foundation to the house is an original rock foundation, which has been supported with cinder blocks over time. We cleared out the weeds, painted, fixed the crawl space doors, and placed marble chips and potted plants around it. We also added solar lights, and rocks that we collected around the property.

This is a before picture, when we cleared out some of the weeds and grass.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

This is the same area now. Here you can see the trimmed Hydrangea bush and existing irises. The pine tree in this picture was found as a tiny (2 inches) planting that I thought looked interesting enough, and I potted it. It turned out to be this beautiful pine (cedar) tree. Eventually, we will cover the exposed cinder blocks with cement and repaint the area. On this picture you can see the original stone foundation. One thing we made sure to do before buying the place was to hire an inspector to make sure the foundation and structure were in good shape. Those were fine.

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Photo by M.A.D.

The marble chips were placed all around the house. Here you can see two existing bushes that we were able to save, after trimming them, and also one of the dwarf boxwood trees behind the bird bath. This boxwood was almost dead and it has come back slowly. The lily is also an existing plant. We added all the large stones found around the property. The Hostas and Hen and chicks plants are new, and added to the area. These were brought from my garden in Jersey. All the statues are recycled from my previous home in Jersey, and so is the bird bath.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Here you can see the other dwarf boxwood and other recycled plants.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Here are some pictures of the same areas before. The dwarf boxwood looks brown and dying.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

A before view of the same steps where you can see the boxwood better.

Restoring an Old Farmhouse on a Budget 2

Photo by M.A.D.

 

This is the side entrance area. There were no plantings, only weeds. This area was challenging to work with.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Same area as it is today. New plantings have been added to the area, as well as recycled. All pots in the garden are recycled.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

We worked with some existing areas by keeping some of the plantings, and adding stones and new or transplanted plants. Here is one of those areas before.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Same area as it is today. The only existing planting was the bush in the center, The rest was transplanted from other areas of the property. This area blooms throughout the year. In early spring the irises bloom first, followed by the lambs ear, and later in the summer other plantings bloom. A solar light and a couple of statues and rocks dogged around the property were added.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

This area is directly under the giant cedar tree. It is one of the oldest trees around the house, and possibly older than the house, as I am told. We cleared/cleaned the area and added existing plantings around the tree. Red mulch was added as well.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

The giant cedar before. Today, it looks healthier.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Other existing areas that we were able to save. Before, after clearing the area a bit and cutting the grass.

Same area as it is today.

 

I have mentioned the faerie garden on a separate blog post, and it is one area in which we added much to it while working with existing elements. The area before and after.

 

There are a few new areas, and that includes the veggie garden which was not there, and what I call the circle of flowers. Pictures of this area before. Today, the circle of flowers is where the overgrown bushes are, and the veggie garden a few feet right behind.

Digital Camera

Photo by M.A.D.

 

The veggie garden

 

I created the circle of flowers because I wanted an area full of color, where I could pick some flowers to bring inside. It started with clearing out a circle where old stumps remained, and placing some stones we collected around the property. We planted some seeds, and many of them continue to grow and bloom today. Next to it, we created another circle (still needs the stones around) where we planted sunflowers. They have not bloom yet, but soon they will. As of today, they are a lot taller.

 

This concludes the outdoor changes so far,  although there are many other plans. We created areas around the home, and separate, individual new areas. Instead of tearing everything down, we worked with existing areas that had potential, by first uncovering them, salvaging some plants, and adding to these areas.

Little me in my grandmother’s garden. Hope you enjoyed this post.

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Photo by M.A.D.

Of Birthdays Passed

As time goes by, so do birthdays. A time comes when one acknowledges the day, feels grateful for another year, reminisce a little about other birthdays passed, and realizes that material gifts are not as important anymore. Meaningful moments and relationships take the place. A while ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday. My reply was, “I don’t need anything.” It was a sincere answer. Don’t get me wrong; I still enjoy things that I find beautiful or special, I just don’t see birthdays anymore as an opportunity to acquire more things. So gifts are not as important anymore. However, I gave it some thought and ended up settling on an antique book. It is something I like to collect. Old books are special. They are beautiful inside and out. The care that was put into printing and designing a book 100 + years ago, can be appreciated in every page. After scanning websites for an old book that would peek my interest, I settled on Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore. This particular edition is from 1900. I found older editions from the late 1800s with different covers; however, none of them caught my eye except for this one. The presentation seemed to have been made for a lady. The floral golden detail of the cover, the beautiful raised illustration, all of it spoke to me. The inside does not disappoint either; it is gorgeous as well. Add to it the scent of an old book, and it turns into perfection. One thing that I found odd was the placement of the preface on the left side, as you can see in the picture. I will make a confession; I am not one to read prefaces all the way. I try but most of the time I skip them, and find them boring. Well, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It intrigued me. If the preface is so good, I am about to be blown away by this story, I thought. I have never read Lorna Doone (Shame on me. Never too late) but I read the first chapter. All I can say is that it is beautiful, and that I need a dictionary of old terminology, of old English words, next to me. This will not be a quick read, and I intend to enjoy it. Besides, the print is very small, so my eyes will have to work extra hard, and at intervals. It will be interesting to learn some new (old) words. I am excited about it; and yes, I love my birthday present. This particular edition is gorgeous.

Richard Doddridge Blackmore (1825-1900) was a very famous English novelist, and Lorna Doone was one of his most known and famous novels. It is a romance, set in the countryside, and at that time a catalyst, a movement in romantic fiction. After reading his biography, and more about the book, I feel more compelled to read it in much detail, with much care and attention. Here are some pictures.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

 

Unexpected Visitor

If you visit this blog from time to time, you know that I love to watch birds and take pictures of them. After the cicadas arrived, I noticed that many birds left, including my beloved crows. Also, missing were the Blue Jays and the Cardinals. The cicadas are gone, and many birds are back. I also noticed the absence of the Katydids. I love their loud song during the night in the summer, and I have not heard or seen any. The number of insects around here seem to be low as well, day and night.

Since I moved here, I count myself lucky to have seen my first mixed flock as well as my first Snowy Owl (during the day) perched on a tree near the back woods. I don’t think Snowy Owls are supposed to be in Virginia, but I saw one last year. Sadly, I could not get my camera fast enough. By the time I went and retrieved it the owl was gone. The other day, I got a treat from nature. I saw my first large woodpecker. I have seen many on the small size range, but never one this size. I was able to grab my camera and take a few pictures, although not as many as I wanted to take. It also kept moving, pecking the wood, so its head came out blurry at times.

This is a picture of a smaller woodpecker that I took when I lived in Jersey.

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Photo by Maria Diaz

Here are the pictures I took a few days ago. These were taken from the inside through glass because I did not want to scare the bird. It was very hard to photograph because it kept moving all over. I feel I have to apologize for the quality, but at the same time I wanted to share this beautiful sighting with you.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

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Photo by M.A.D.

I never know when I am due for a treat from nature, so now I keep the camera downstairs, and hanging from the coat rack.