Saturday, April 29, 2017

A FIRST BIRTHDAY . . . . . . . . . . .

Hello, I'm Colin and today I am ONE!

This is all so new to me - what on earth is my mommy doing bringing me
 a cupcake with one gigantic burning candle?
Daddy made me wear this silly crown. I must be a prince today.
There are a lot of people singing, and I think they're singing to me!
Many of these people I know - the other little kids and I play together often.
I recognize their mommies and daddies too.
They seem to be munching smelly cheese and crackers, and chocolates from 
England. I've already traveled to that country because it's where my
 daddy comes from! They're eating more cupcakes too, while the daddies,
 granddaddies and great grandaddies enjoy a beer, and the grandmas (one came
 all the way from South Africa, she's my daddy's mom), sip their wine. 
Everyone is chattering a mile a minute, my aunts and uncles, cousins and 
whomever - I think I have a big family and I know they
all really love me a lot. 

My cousin Jasmin was the official photographer here today - but my great
 grandma Mary took these photos. You know how she has to take photos of
 everything for this blog. . . . . . .but she asked me to write because she's just 
very busy at the moment, and I think you know why!

No Hang ups. . . . . . . . .

It's that time again and today I'm doing the packing dry run.
Packing  - always a pain.
 'Crossing the pond' time - full of expectations.
Off soon on a journey to new places - exciting.

HERE is where we're headed on Tuesday.

I didn't get the portable clothes rack (above) out for organizing my wardrobe
for this trip. I usually do that as many of you know, however this time, because 
we'll be on an expedition ship and no formal attire is required, packing
 is somewhat easier. Also, the weather should be close to perfect - visiting
 Sicily and Malta in May sounds like the best time of the year with temperatures
 in the low 70's and very little rain. Hopefully this means light clothing 
and layering should work.
It will be a long journey to get to the ship in Naples. . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . I just know I'll be ready to be rocked to sleep that first night
on the water. That reminds me - I need to pack pj's. . . . . . . . . also
go to a birthday party this afternoon, transplant some cucumber plants,
 feed the birds, make soup, clean out the 'frig, get a manicure/pedicure. . . . . 
. . . . . . . . . . and just a whole list of other things which require attention
 this busy weekend before we lock the doors and head to the airport.

Enjoy your weekend dear friends.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Swim buddies. . . . . . . .

An unusual pair at the swimming hole - the Brown Thrasher and the Eastern Bluebird.

Neither one appeared bothered by the other - don't you love it when people, animals
 and even birds get along together, sharing the same space, attending to their personal
needs, even singing a song whilst doing it.

This is a male bluebird but as the male and female thrashers are identical, 
I'm not sure if this is mixed bathing, or two of the boys getting squeaky clean to
 pursue their respective mates. 
It's that time of year again, the birds are definitely feeling romantic and are
 in nest-building mode.

Bob and I will soon be off on the water ourselves. 
The Mediterranean calls and we're looking forward to the trip
around Sicily and Malta.
My neighbors and family members who stop by will hopefully keep the
 bird baths topped up - with all that splashing the water level soon
drops and bathing becomes difficult for the larger birds.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Scribble Picnic. . . . . . . . .Tree

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky" 
Kahlil Gibran

TREE - quite a simple word for such complexity of form and function.
I'm definitely a tree lover. . . . . and, if totally honest, I guess a bit of a 'tree hugger'
 too. Yes, I might just hug a tree if I thought it was to be cut down or injured for
 no sensible reason.

I've viewed many trees in my travels around the world and it's quite amazing 
how varied they are. I've loved them all, from snow covered swathes of silver birch in
 Kamchatka, Russia, to tropical island palms blowing in Hawaiian breezes.
The towering redwoods I viewed in Northern California last year will never be forgotten.
Billowing pink flowering chestnuts in the Lake District of England, so beautiful.
Mighty ancient oaks and copper beech trees in the forests of my real home in Devon, 
bring back childhood memories of conker fights and nibbling beech nuts as I walked 
through the woods. I have always, yes always, loved the countryside for its trees.
The only place I've visited that lacks trees of any kind is of course 
Antarctica.  Did I miss them and their shades of green, yes of course, but other
 breathtaking land and seascapes brought a different beauty in cobalt blue, 
aquamarine and white to the eye for couple of weeks.

Oh I could definitely bend your ear with tree stories, including a few less loved
 ones that fell on the cottage roof and my car during a couple of infamous
 North Carolina hurricanes. . . . . . . . . but today, for Michael's theme
 for Scribble Picnic I chose to share a lonely tree from Kenya's Masaai Mara.
Please visit this week's participants at the picnic - I'm sure there will be some 
beautiful trees to view by talented artists from around the world.

On last September's safari to that beautiful area of Africa, the animals were 
unbelievable, however I was also struck by the trees. So few scattered
 across the plain, so little shade provided, but sometimes a home to birds who
 wove incredible colonies of hanging nests, whose trunk hid a sleek cheetah waiting
 to make that incredible lightning speed run to grab its meal for the day, and a place
 for the leopard to climb and hang its prey across a branch out of the reach of other
predators, then returning and climbing the tree for several days to eat.

One of several Maasai Mara desert date (Balanites aegyptiaca) trees I
 photographed - here you get the true feeling of how few trees there are. 
Edited to a sketch, with watercolor pencil scribbles for color.

"Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a
 singing bird will come"
Chinese proverb

 I'll be away for the next couple of weeks and unable to join the picnic party. 
Internet access on ships is usually sporadic and terribly expensive. I know from
experience that even if you are able to connect, it's so slow and costs a small
 fortune to post anything, especially pictures. I take my laptop really just for
 e-mailing family to keep in touch, and as an additional backup for new
 photos. Sadly I may have to take a short hiatus from blogging. . . . . . 

. . . . . . . but I hope to see you here later in May!

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