Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bad Birds

"Hush, little baby, don't say a word, Mamma's gonna buy you a mockingbird. If that mockingbird don't sing, Mamma's gonna buy you a diamond ring".

What a silly promise Mamma made! A mocking bird NOT singing?? Mamma sure got out of that one easy enough!

What ever happened to the sweet little song birds that used to populate the garden? All I seem to see (AND HEAR) are those little black dive bombers that attack cats and poop all over my car and the ever "singing" Mocking Bird. I do have to admit to spotting an occasional hummingbird; I'd see more if I fed them.

This morning at 6:30, I was painting some rebarb for holding up the tomatoes and there were two mockingbirds going to town. I was getting a headache - too early for such conversation especially since I heard them all during the night.

Come to find out, it's the single male that does most of the singing at night. I think if he was the quite shy type, he might get a date! Who wants to hear all that jabbering all the time? The female rarely sings in the summer, usually only when the male has left the territory. Now what does that tell you?? Is she happy or sad?

Throughout history, a lot of attention has been given to this annoying bird. Walt Whitman and Richard Henry Wilde wrote their famous poems. Harper Lee's, To Kill A Mockingbird (I'v fantasized about this) is quoted as saying, "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." Why, I ask, would it be a sin??? Don't get me wrong, you know I would never hurt an animal.

Another strange fact: Tennessee, Texas, and Florida all have the mockingbird as their state bird. Again, I ask why? Can you imagine all the beutiful birds they must have in Florida??

Okay, I will give this little creature some credit. Not only can it perform 39 species' songs and 50 call notes, but it also can mimic sounds such as that of a barking dog, squeaky hinges, notes from a piano and even a cackling hen, so expertly that even an electronic analysis could not tell the difference between the mockingbird and the original.

Monsieur Fournier puts these walnuts out for the birds in their garden in Provence. He even made the little cage holder for them. Isn't that sweet? The french name for bird is oiseau/single or oiseaux/plural. I wonder if they have mocking birds in France??

Tomorrow, I will share pictures of my tomato project!! T.G.I.F.!!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Welcome Friends!

For those of you that know me, you KNOW I'm a social person and love to entertain. Why is it then, that I don't do it more often? It's just not right.

I worry about the house not being spotless or that my neighborhood is beginning to look like the hood. I worry about all the wrong things. I'm not a perfectionist so why do I become preoccupied about things not being perfect??? Bizarre.

I come from a line of "cleaning ladies". My Mother and sister were/are PERFECT housekeepers. There are just so many other things that I find myself doing that by the end of the weekend, I've realized I haven't picked up a mop or lifted a sponge! Thank God JL usually comes to the rescue! "Don't worry, my lovey, I'll take care of it". Later, I look up from the lower garden and see his profile running the vacuum. Instant Relief! Thank God there is no sexism in this house! Merci mon amour pour all that you do!

Now please realize, this man that can clean a bathroom, can also dig a mean trench in the garden. Today he posed for a glamour shot while in the middle of digging a trench in 100 degree heat. Sort of alienish don't you think?

My point is, somehow, it gets done and it should not be a reason for keeping me away from people I love. I need to either come to terms that the house and neighborhood are not perfect or hire a housekeeper and move! Right? With that said, I promise to invite you over more often. Doesn't one of the Alien's margaritas sound good???

ps: The welcome friends picture was given to Mom by a nurse during a chemo treatment. Mom mentioned how much she liked it and the nurse simply took it off the wall and handed it to her. I could have kissed her!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Today is my Aunt Sandra's birthday. Sandra is my Mother's sister and my friend. I am so proud of her courage, impressed by her stamina and in awe of her creativity. I love her much and have really treasured the time we have spent together lately (especially our recent road trip to Wasington).

Why the big red 'N' you ask? Well, if you are family and don't know, you should be taken behind the barn and slapped. For all others, it is for the Nebraska Cornhuskers! Go Big Red - Go Sandra!!!!

I look forward to our celebration at the winery tomorrow night. I'll take pictures!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Feliz Aniversário VANIHNA

Joyeux Anniversaire * Happy Birthday * Buon Compleanno * Feliz Aniversário

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

-Kahil Gibran

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Apricot Memories

Last night, while preparing an apricot crumble, I thought of my Mom. I saw my Mom doing the same thing, with apricots from the same tree, cooking in the same kitchen.

It was always a guess if our apricot tree would produce any fruit during the season. If it did, she would protect as many as she could. I remember her hanging CDs in the tree and putting little nets around clusters of the fruit to try and save them from the birds. “Darn birds, they got another one.” “Why don’t they eat the WHOLE thing – instead of taking just a bite and ruining it?" I now find myself repeating her exact words.

I had called my sister for Mom’s recipe but she did not keep one. I’ve made quite a few of these crumbles over the past weeks and they just don’t turn out the same – why is that? My crumble burned last night. I sort of forgot about it as the tears and grief hit me so hard. I really miss her.

Now for a history lesson:

The apricot is one of California’s prized specialty crops. In fact, California produces a remarkable 95+% of all the apricots grown in the United States.

In the 18th century, Spanish explorers introduced apricots to the New World. California inherited the golden blush fruit planted in the gardens of Spanish missions. In 1792, the first major production of California apricots was recorded.

By 1920, California proudly claimed a flourishing apricot industry located in the Santa Clara Valley, an area south of San Francisco also known for peaches, plums and cherries. Only fifteen years later, 2,737 California apricot growers farmed a total of 18,631 acres in the valley alone. After World War II, the valley once known for fruit farming was fast becoming an area known for a growing computer industry and the development of the “Silicon Valley.” Consequently by the end of the century, California’s apricot orchards had been relocated to the San Joaquin Valley where they are predominately found today. (thanks

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Eiffel Jean Pierre

When we think of pets, we think of happy thoughts: a little puppy so excited to see us, a kitten playing with a string or a Retriever dedicated to his “master”. But what happens when our pets don’t live up to our expectations? What do we do when a problem arises and the trust and warm fuzzy feelings fall by the wayside? What do we do when our pet becomes aggressive or soils continually in our home? If we’re like most people, we would take them to a shelter or to the Vet to have them put down. I can’t say this did not cross our minds when my Eiffel attacked me and starting spraying in our home. I never really minded that he had never cared very much for others; he certainly loved me! Well, we fell out of love and the past the few months have not been fun.

Did you know that most animals are taken to shelters and eventually euthanized due to behavioral problems? 3-4 million pets are euthanized a year!!!

After many vet visits and many prayers, we were advised to take him to an animal behaviorist to help with his aggressiveness and spraying - “marking his territory”. To be honest, we did not quite know if we were being taken for a ride or not. We only knew that after many vet visits, this was our (his) last option.

We are happy to report that as of today, we still have our crazy cat with us. He has not sprayed and he has not been aggressive (to me). He is on prozac , yes prozac, and we have to keep our blinds closed in the front of the house. If he sees other cats, he might go into “territorial mode” which is not his fault - this is what cats do. He does not roam free any longer but goes in the garden on a leash.

Is HE happy? I think he's happier than he would have been if we'd taken him to a shelter. Are we happy? Very.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I took this photo while on a walk in Gig Harbor. It looks like a California Poppy but I don't think it is. Any idea of what kind of flower this is?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Road Trip

Last weekend I took a roadtrip with my Aunt Sandi to my favorite state of Washington. We flew up on Friday and drove home on Saturday. Our mission: to pick up her SWEET dog, Sugar.

One thing I learned is that driving through a few states is not as bad as it sounds. The second thing I learned, which I've known all along, is that The Pacific Northest is where I belong.

I finally met Sandi's best friend, Nancy, and was able to visit with my dear friends, Robin, Tony and Gavin. Even though the time was short, it was sweet.
See more pictures on my flickr account ~

Beautiful Rhododendrons were everywhere!

White Iris ~ Robin, you will learn to love them ;)