Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fluffy Little Visitors

A few weeks ago, I noticed two house wrens running back and forth on my deck. Curious as to what they were up to, I observed them for several minutes, then realized that they were entering our screened porch via a whole in the wood at the bottom of the door (I really need to get a new door). At first, I thought, "Oh great! More birds in the porch. At least they seem to know how to get back out". We had had a different type of bird in the porch previously who could not find the door again, even after I propped it open! It took forever to lead him outside! Anyway, I soon realized that the pair were busily working on building a nest!
House Wren. Photo by allaboutbirds.org
The porch is a nice place to live if you're a bird. It offers shelter from the hot sun and rain, is quiet and private, and is safe from predators (maybe I should live out there!). These cute, chubby little birds with tails that stick straight up into the air are known to violently evict owners of a nest they set their sights upon, they are also excellent nest builders and will often choose a flower pot in which to erect their home.
allaboutbirds.org
 Before long, the tiny twosome had traded in the grasses and sticks they'd carried for worms and other bugs, indicating that the babies had hatched! Despite my best attempts, I could not manage to see the babies from inside the house, until one day, when my daughter noticed that the babies were sitting on one of the porch rails. We had thought that they were getting ready to leave the nest as the parents had been frantically jumping around and screeching for a few days. I believe this was an attempt to get the babies to leave the porch and follow them. Everything was nice and orderly until Abigail stuck her head out the door to call to her mother. This sent the babies into a feather flying fury before they ultimately made their way out to the deck.
Four Baby House Wrens On Screened Porch

It's nice to have our porch back but I didn't mind the delay. Getting the opportunity to see nature up close and personal is totally worth it!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!
Hugs, Leena

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DIY Tip

I was watching the DIY Network and they offered this tip:

"Place a few pieces of chalk in your tool box to keep your tools from rusting"

I guess the chalk absorbs moisture. Nice to know!
Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!
Hugs, Leena

Timber!

When we bought this house, one of the things I liked were the trees in the back yard. There were four, one in each corner of the yard, my favorite of which being the river birch. It was tall and slender with that beautiful white bark and cascading branches. What I didn't like was the English ivy planted around it and the fact that the birch was planted too high and blocked the rain from exiting our yard. The grading is such that the surrounding yards all run downhill into our property, then the water is to continue out the back corner and onward to the W and OD Trail, where the old train tracks are. The birch's root ball was blocking the water and our yard would flood every time it rained. I tried several times to remedy these two less than desirable conditions. I mowed the ivy, pulled it, applied weed killer to it - nothing would stop its growth. I tried digging trenches around the tree so the water could exit, but that was unsuccessful as well.
Rain water blocked by tree. It actually would run across the yard and up to the back door!
 Fast forward 11 years and the birch had gotten huge and the ivy was totally out of control, suffocating the majority of its 25-30 feet of height. It was encroaching upon the lawn and the fence and nobody wanted to go near it because it was full of spiders, ticks and who knows what else. The tree just didn't look healthy, with small branches and leaves falling off, leaving bare, dead limbs, so I made the decision to have it taken down. I figured it was best to do it now than to risk it coming down during a storm and causing injury and damage. I would never take down a healthy tree because of its location, but safety is crucial. We soon found out just how critical it was.
Tree gone! You can see how far the ivy has encroached upon the lawn and is even growing up the fence!
The crew arrived, tied off safety lines to control the tree sections' falls and the cutter climbed up to start taking down the highest section. He secured his safety harness and chain saw and when he barely touched the tree - CRACK! The entire top portion, just about at his safety line, snapped off and came crashing down, sending him swinging around the tree and his chain saw hanging from its safety line! Everyone on the crew was shocked, none more than the poor man in the tree! Fortunately, he was a little shaken but uninjured! We discovered that the tree was hollow for several feet, which is what made it so frail. During the removal, they also discovered several empty bird nests as well as a baby dove! These guys were so sweet! They took the baby and placed it in an empty nest in my cherry tree, so that its parents could find it. Sure enough, the next day they had not only located their baby, they had brought its sibling along to join it! Two days later, the entire family was off in search of an early morning breakfast.
Baby doves hanging out in the cherry tree
Now comes the fun part digging out as much of the roots and stump to allow the water to flow freely, removing the leftover ivy and enjoying how much larger our yard looks! I may even plant a little garden in the area!
What a mess! This will take a while to clear out!
Thank you so much for stopping by! I always appreciate your visit!
Hugs, Leena

Monday, June 9, 2014

Secret Mission - Mystery Revealed!

As per my last post, Jim and I recently took a short trip up to Lancaster, PA. While we enjoyed the scenery, sight seeing was not at the top of our agenda. No, we didn't seek out any world-famous Amish wood working or quilts; no delicious canned goods, textiles or artwork. Not even one single souvenir or fabulous antique made it into our car. So, what did we go up there for? What did we drive over 3 hours to bring home? Here they are:
Introducing the two new loves of my life, the newest furbaby members of our family, Chloe and Fenway! Chloe is on the left and weighs 5.2 pounds. Fenway is on the right and weighs 5.6 pounds. They were 9 and 8 weeks old, respectively, when we brought them home.

I had been looking at rescue dogs and studying breeds since our beloved Sullivan passed away almost two years ago. During that search and research period, there were many road blocks - dogs that were already spoken for, dogs that just didn't fit our family, rescue organizations that would not adopt to homes with young children, adoption fees that were over our budget - all kinds of frustrations. Then there were our feelings that perhaps this was not the best time to get a new dog, with my back problems, the kids being so active and possibly scaring a dog, so many other responsibilities requiring our attention, but then I thought, is there ever a good or perfect time for anything? If we wait for what seems to be the right time to make any changes in our lives, will we not become stagnant and never progress? We decided to go for it and the search began!
Fenway Left, Chloe Right
I had a few favorite breeds in mind but there was one that I was particularly interested in - the Boston Terrier. I love their quirky little faces, their stubby tails and their love of life energy. They are reported to be intelligent, loving, great with children, playful and an all-around fun dog suitable for any family. Sounded perfect -now to find some in our area! This proved impossible!
I wanted a girl as so many of my former furbabies were males. What an ordeal! It took me a few months to finally come upon some females and after being beaten to them while I wasted time thinking about my decision, when I saw little Jewel, who is now Chloe, I jumped at the chance to make her ours! We planned the trip to Lancaster, called the contact and, while I had him on the phone, I inquired about sweet Bobby, now Fenway. (I always wanted to name a Boston Fenway after the Red Sox's ballpark!) By this time, "getting a dog" had turned into getting TWO dogs and who was I to argue? Turned out that each puppy was located at a different Amish farm, on opposite sides of Lancaster proper, which was really nice as it gave us an opportunity to travel along the back roads and take some pictures of the beautiful farms. I love farms! I love the open fields, the dirt, the animals, the smells, the rusty, crusty gadgets and equipment, the all-American feel of community spirit, simpler times and family values.

 Friday was the day! We checked out of our hotel and headed towards our first puppy with such excitement in our hearts. Fenway greeted us with a wiggly stubby tail and wonderful puppy breath kisses! He whimpered for just a few seconds when we placed him in the carrier, and we were on to puppy stop number two! Little Chloe was as cute as she could be! She too gave us puppy breath kisses, she even gave some to Fenway! After a short visit, both pups were snuggled together in the carrier and we were headed for home. It's a good thing I like farm smells, because both pups had a distinctive smell of cow LOL!

Upon arriving home, Jamison greeted us at the door and we handed the carrier to my daughter, so that the two of them could take the puppies out. Abigail was upstairs and when she came down, she squealed in the highest-pitched voice I'd ever heard, "Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!"
Chloe

Fenway
It's been a little over a week and everybody is adjusting well. The pups love chasing toys and the kids out in the yard and in the house, snuggling on laps at nap time and cuddling together in their carrier filled with fluffy blankets. They stay in our room and are up bright and early with their adorable tiny faces at the carrier door, just bursting to be let out and hugged. They're quite smart, coming when their names are called and using newspaper for potty time during a horrible storm we had last week. It's so nice to have dogs in the house again and I know that the more time we spend together and the more they grow, the more love and joy we'll share.
Chloe & Fenway
Thank you so much for stopping by! Hugs and puppy breath kisses, Leena,  Fenway and Chloe
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