Picking up the Pace

Double Impatiens

Life has been getting busier with the warm weather — there are flowers to plant, beds to be mulched, birds to watch, and kayak trips to be planned.  There are also indoor activities calling to me — my genealogy research is heating up, I have a fun knitting project on the needles, and I’m reading a fantastic book (Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet). So let me share a bit of each of these things with you today….

Begonias

Flowers. Day one of flower planting is done, leaving probably two more days. Planting is hard on my back so I need a few rest days in between each work day. But I got the red geraniums planted in the garage window box, got some of the begonias and double impatiens planted in the deck planters, and popped some striped petunias in the front porch pots. I’ve still got a bunch of pots to fill with annuals, and two of our new beds from last year need filling in with more perennials. And all the perennial beds need more mulch. I think I’ll have the mulch delivered in bulk this year rather than lugging those 40 pound bags around myself. I’m guessing I can use a couple yards of mulch, but have to do a bit of calculating to be sure. Don’t you love the look of freshly-mulched beds? I think it makes everything look so neat and pretty.

Birds. Our Ruby-Throated Hummingbird made his/her first appearance two days ago, finally. I’d heard a couple weeks ago that someone had reported a hummingbird in another suburb, and my friend Sharon told me that she’d seen her patio hummer this weekend, so I was watching our feeder every possible moment. After catching a fleeting glimpse of him on Tuesday, I got a good look at him/her today after he/she left the feeder, and it’s either a female or an immature; definitely no red throat that would indicate a mature male. I quickly added some hanging petunia pots as a supplementary food source, and will get some fuchsia plants this weekend. Last year those were favorite foods for our hummingbird.

Cooper's Hawk with chipmunk. RIP, little guy.

I witnessed some other avian drama today too: A Cooper’s Hawk grabbed a chipmunk from the deck right in front of me (well, about 12 feet away). There was a crashing of the low branches in a pine tree, then I saw the hawk sitting under the tree with something in his talons. Poor little chippie! (If you have the stomach for it, you can click to see a larger version of the picture. The hawk is beautiful.)

You can't see me, Mr. Hawk!

I almost felt bad taking pictures of this, but the hawk is so fantastic I couldn’t resist. I just try not to look at his feet. Actually, after watching him for a couple minutes I didn’t want to let him sit there and eat the chipmunk in front of me, so I went out and chased him away. I saw him take his prize up into a nearby tree, and that’s the last I saw of him. Even after he’d flown away, another chipmunk continued to sound the “aerial predator” alarm call for several minutes. Here’s the other chipmunk after he’d tucked himself further back into the firewood pile, just to be sure he was safe. Must be scary being a tiny creature and knowing something can swoop down and grab you at any time….

Genealogy research. Since I’m going to visit my parents in a couple weeks to show them what I’ve found, I’m under a bit of time pressure to get as much done as possible. I’ve gotten much further than I thought I could, tracing my mom’s father’s family back to Philadelphia before the Revolutionary War.  So cool! Still no signs of Native American ancestry in her mom’s line though; family stories insist that there’s Indian blood in the Menafee line, but I can’t find it yet. The furthest back I’ve gotten in my dad’s family is around 1751. His father’s side immigrated from Germany in 1871, so it’ll take me more time to do research on his German ancestors. I’m having the most incredible time doing this research; it’s like solving a big mystery. One of the most amazing things is how many children these people had — some of the families had 10 or 12 kids. Yowza.

Mom says she has a bunch of army pictures from her dad’s service during WWI, so I can’t wait to see those. (I wonder what happened to that old grenade that was used as a doorstop at Grandma and Grandpa’s house?) I’m taking my scanner to their house so I can scan the old family photos; I think it’ll be great to digitize them so future generations can have easy access to them online. I hope someone who comes after us will be interested in all this stuff!

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