...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


remembering Tucker

In Loving Memory
of Tucker
March 4, 2001 - January 12, 2013
Time goes by so fast.

There's never ever enough of it. 
No amount of it would have felt like enough,
or made me ready for this change...

This me-without-you business.
It hurts. 

I miss you just about everywhere I go and
in everything I do.

(I see you around every corner,
waiting for me, looking, wagging,
talking to me without words...)

Despite all of the hurting
and the missing
I have oh so much gratitude for you...

For the time we did have together,
for the deep connection that endures,
and for the Love that shines on.

Thank you, Sweet Bear.
Thank you for sharing
your beautiful
and precious Life
with me.

Thank you for looking at me with those eyes
every day for almost 12 years... 
And thank you for all of the things
you taught me, like...

Sometimes you just need to take a flying leap!

And stop and smell the flowers...
Don't hesitate to make unabashed googly eyes
at the person you love...
And be a good friend no matter what the weather...
 Put your foot (or feet!) down when you need to.
Check something out thoroughly
before making any decisions.
 Remember who loves you.
And where you live.
 Catch the sun every chance you get.
Let it light you up inside and out. 
 Toss your head back and feel how exquisite and lucky it is to be alive,
no matter what problems you might also be having. 
(Do this on a regular basis for best results).
Be ready for adventure.
So much of life is about perspective.
You can be the King or Queen
 of your own mountain (or mulch pile),
in your own little corner of the world.
 Don't be afraid to play with other dogs
who are younger, bigger, or stronger than you.
You can hold your own.
Stick your neck out sometimes
because some of the best smells are out dancing on the wind.
Get your paws dirty every chance you get.
The greatest pleasures are always the simplest. 
 Follow your instincts and be true to your nature. 
Take plenty of naps
and enjoy the creature comforts along the way... 
 And if there comes a time
when the body that houses your wondrous Spirit is failing...
If you can't do much else, just close your eyes.
Use your imagination to tap into the infinite beauty of your memories...
Reach out with your paw or nudge with your nose those who love you most,
and they will take care of you.   
All of these things will give you strength
and take you where you need to go.

In the end, Love is what it's all about. 
And Love never ends.
Love is forever. 
It just keeps going on and on and on...



nest collecting & the Baya Weaver

Sometimes we find nests that have fallen to the ground,
or that we know have been abandoned,
and we can't resist bringing them home to our collection.  

Like all of our collections, we run out of room for them and 
ultimately have to decide what to keep and what to return to nature or to give away.   
 (Otherwise, our house would be completely overrun with nests,
special rocks, feathers, leaves, books, and oh so many other things.)

I find that it's really hard to identify a nest properly, 
and despite our handy guidebook,
we're rarely able to narrow it down with any confidence.

 Finding eggs in a nest (or on the ground underneath) 
would help identify the type of nest, 
but we've never found any eggs, except robins.

One of the things I appreciate about winter
 is how nests that were previously hidden or hard to see in spring and summer,
become so visible and exposed.  

I spot them and
think about the birds I remember seeing in or near that area,
and then I keep those locations in mind for the next season 
when the leaves fill in.    


The nest I love most was a gift from Boo's friend.
It's a partially finished Baya Weaver's nest.

The Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) is an Asian bird 
that weaves these beautiful nests and they hang like pendants on trees.  
They live in colonies, so there are usually lots and lots of them
on any given tree.

This nest we have is in what is called the 'helmet' stage, 
before the entrance tube is woven on.

Here's an image I found online of some finished nests:

Here's another photo found online or a baya weaver (female?) flying in:

 And here's a brief clip of a nest in process,
it seems to be that the male is showing the female
the nest he has made
and she is mulling it over,
deciding whether his nest cuts the mustard or not:


red-winged blackbird

I love the call of the red-winged blackbird.

I never knew what their eggs looked like until I got this book, Egg & Nest
by Rosamund Purcell, Linnea Hall and Rene Corado:

Red-winged blackbird eggs are absolutely spectacular!  

I wonder if Jackson Pollock or Franz Kline 
got their inspiration from red-winged blackbird eggs?

You can learn more about red-winged blackbirds 
at Cornell's All About Birds website.  
They have lots of information, sound clips, and videos.

(Sometimes when I want to hear the sounds of spring and summer, 
I go on their site and listen to sound clips...)


New Year, New Seeds

new year  = new seeds = new garden.

Every year a garden is a new entity.  
A new creation. 
Dreaming about growing things 
and having a stack of seed catalogs 
somehow makes the winter more tolerable.

By this time of year, 
I usually have received a stack of catalogs several inches high, 
and this is how I bring in the New Year.  

I read seed catalogs like some people read fiction.  
I love every inch of them.  
Every photograph and illustration, name and description.

I think that would be such a fun job...  
To be the person who comes up with new names for new varieties, 
and who writes the descriptions 
in an effort to capture the essence of 
a particular tomato, and the nuance
of every bean.
Looking at the catalogs,
I can smell and taste things,
and I can practically feel the sun on my back 
and the ache in my muscles. 

Each year, I find myself longing a little bit more 
for that first thaw.

Each year, my dreams and plans are a little bit bigger,
and I am practically salivating to get out of snow boots and gloves
and back into boots and gloves of the garden variety.

So I will share with you some of my favorite places 
to get lost in the dream of the garden:

Fedco is by far and away the most affordable way to buy seed.
We just discovered them this year, thanks to our friend Wendy
 (sorry, it's not in the picture since we borrowed hers)
They cut costs on catalog printing (black and white, no photos)
and pass the savings on in better prices.  Waaaaaay better prices. 
Plus, they have a good selection of organics.  
Most things you can get for $1.00-$2.40 a pack!
They do have some fun illustrations 
and random political commentary scattered throughout, too,
which for me, is a bonus.
Probably has the glossiest, sexiest catalog out there.
It's total eye candy.  
You'll want to take it up to bed and fall asleep 
with pictures of ripe, juicy deliciousness on your face.
But  it's not just looks -- 
they are the premier source for heirloom seeds.

Another great source for heirlooms.
Very high quality seed.
If you become a member, you get special access to names and addresses of people 
around the world who have saved seed that they're willing to share with people.  
It's an amazing community.  
Plus there's an online forum...  
gardeners asking questions and sharing information with each other.

 Their seeds are pricey,
but you can be guaranteed your rewards will be superbly tasteful.
This past year we tried their wild kale mix, 
and it was the most amazing kale (sweet, tender!) I've ever had in my life, bar none.
And they're not kidding about it being hardy! 
We were eating it right up until we got 16 inches of snow!

 100% organic, safe seed pledge.
It's a Vermont company, and we're fond of all things Vermont.
If it can grow in Vermont, it can surely grow here. 

 Also 100% organic.
And they sell seedlings to transplant of especially hard to start items like tomatoes and peppers...
(We tend to get our seedlings locally, though). 

The name says it all.  Loads of organic potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, etc.

 They have so so so so so many herb seeds and bare roots - 
a great source for medicinal herbs but they carry culinary herbs and vegetable seed, as well.

Overall nice selection, plus they have some instructional videos and 
customer service phone staff happy to answer questions about growing from seed.

 They have lots of herbs and some veggie seeds., 
some nice tips and an easy to navigate website with an online 'recipe box'.

They have a large selection of seed, including some organic,
but we especially like checking out their supplies and tools. 

 We don't usually order from them unless they have something we can't find anywhere else, 
but I really do love looking at their old-fashioned illustrations!
Sometimes I cut the illustration out and hang them up in our potting shed 
or save them for projects.