Archive for June, 2008


June 27, 2008

Here’s a slightly different perspective on our daylillies.  As you may have guessed, I took these in late afternoon when that magical, golden slant of light renders everything lovely.


Our Neighbors in the Grape Arbor

June 24, 2008
This is the Mama Robin who took up residence in our grape arbor.  Isn’t she pretty?  And she built a fine and sturdy nest, where the big grape leaves shaded her and her little ones from the heat of the noonday sun.
Here she is working on the nest.  I’m in awe of that haul of straw in her jaw.  Aren’t y’all?
And, of course, it wasn’t long until I found these perfect treasures safely sheltered in the nest:
So the robin finally got some well-deserved rest as she awaited the coming of her little chicks.  But not for long…
…because soon there were three hungry mouths to feed.  And that requires some big, juicy worms.  Yum.
 She was an attentive and watchful Mama, and the little birds grew and prospered. 

The day after I took this shot, I made my usual morning chick check and was dismayed to find the nest empty.  I began to cry, thinking that some predator had snatched them in the night.  They surely weren’t strong or big enough to leave the nest!   But, to our surprise, we found out that baby robins leave the nest two weeks after hatching!  And it had been almost exactly two weeks.  It was hard to believe that those wobbly-headed, pink-skinned little ones could survive out of the sanctuary of the nest, but later we were delighted to see what appeared to be the robin family in the pasture, high in the oak tree.

I miss seeing our robin neighbors every day.  It was a joyful thing to watch them grow.  In one of my favorite Andy Griffith episodes, Opie accidentally kills a Mama Robin with his new slingshot.  He is filled with remorse and assumes the role of the avian mama, keeping her babies in a cage and feeding them until they are ready to fly.  Then, Andy tells him that it is time to release them.  Opie is sad, having grown attached to the little birds.  But he knows what he must do and he sets them free, watching them fly away.  

He looks at the cage wistfully and says to his daddy, “That cage sure looks empty, don’t it, Paw?”

Andy smiles and says, “Yes, son, it sure does.”  Then he looks up into the trees where the little birds have flown and says, “But don’t the trees look nice and full?”  I’ve seen that episode at least a dozen times, but that line makes me cry every time.

Our grape arbor sure looks empty.  But our trees…

Don’t the trees look nice and full?

Welcome to the World, Little One

June 18, 2008

I am utterly smitten with our neighbor’s new babies–all three of them.  I don’t really know our neighbor all that well–she just moved in about a month ago.  But she lives a busy life–building the most lovely home in our grape arbor and now, a working Mom with three hungry mouths to feed.  Really, it’s no wonder she doesn’t seem very welcoming when I approach. 

This is her oldest little robin baby.  He hatched out a couple of days ahead of his siblings, and from the first day he could hold up his wobbly little head, he’s been a curious little bird, peering at me over the side of the nest almost every time I go by.

This photo is for my friend June.  She is a gifted photographer (and fine writer) who has given me much pleasure with her extraordinary animal pictures, especially her bird shots.  She has a keen eye and an obvious love for nature.  I think we are kindred spirits.

So, little robin, welcome to the world.  You’ll soon be soaring high above us, the earthbound ones.   You’ll forget the big strange creature with the wild hair who visited your nest every morning.  But I won’t forget you, my little feathered one.  I won’t forget you.


Tick Tics

June 14, 2008

So you’re probably thinking, “What’s up with Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl?  First she writes three posts in a row about big red-eyed bugs, then she writes in nauseating detail about her husband’s bloody workshop incident.  Not to mention subjecting us to her terrible puns!”

Okay, so maybe I should apologize for the puns.  It’s really sort of a compulsion for me.  Seriously.  I have an uncontrollable urge to play with words.  The puns pop nonstop into my head, I blurt them out, and before you know it, I get carried away and people are rolling their eyes and groaning. 

But I digress.  What I really want to talk about here is irrational fear.  Neurosis.  Phobia, if you will.  Heart-pounding, scared-out-of-your-socks, sweating-bullets fear.   I’m embarrassed to admit it, but the thing that provokes a near panic attack in me is less than 1/10th of an inch long and wide—just slightly bigger than one of the vowels in this sentence.  So what is the tiny critter that makes my skin crawl as it crawls on my skin? 

It’s the tick.  Ick.  Ticks…well…they suck.

(Sorry! There I go again!  Like I said…a pun compulsion.)

And here at the doublewide, we are (as Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man says) eat up with ticks.  The folks who lived here before us raised cattle that ranged all over the property, so I think that might be the reason we have such a booming tick population. And all the tall grass and weeds in the fields around us along with lots of wildlife passing through make for a sort of parasite paradise.  Almost every time we walk through the yard, we pick up a tick. 

You know one of the things I hate most about ticks?  It’s the way they’re so…I dunno…stealthy.  They’re not content just to latch onto your ankle or leg for their tick picnic, then quietly drop off.  No, they furtively creep their way up your leg, looking for that perfect, out-of-the-way spot to sup your blood.


Anyway, as a result, every time I feel the slightest tickle, I am certain it is a tick tickle   (I guess you’d call this a nervous tick.)  I am constantly checking my legs for any little black specks making their way northward or feeling my neck or head to make sure they’re not already there.   And since we’re outdoors a lot, what with gardening and lawn mowing and bird watching, I have developed a bit of an obsession with constantly checking my legs.  I can’t stop thinking about ticks.  Yes, I know this is quite neurotick…I mean…neurotic.  And yeah, it does go back to my childhood (but I don’t wish to repulse you further with that story).  But I’m not sure what to do about it but wait for cold weather when the little bloodsuckers finally go dormant.  Or get counseling.  Or buy a friendly little monkey who will delicately groom me.

I’ve always wondered why God made ticks.  Or mosquitoes.  Or chiggers, for that matter.  Ah well, one of the great mysteries of life.  But one thing I am profoundly grateful for:

That ticks can’t fly.

A Well-Seasoned Man

June 2, 2008

(This post is rated PG-13 for its graphic depiction of blood and gore.)

Regular readers of my blog (all three of you) know that Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is a carpenter by trade.  He’s pretty handy with a hammer and careful with his cuts, but occasionally, there’s a slip-up that involves copious amounts of blood.  Oddly, I’m completely calm when I hurt myself, no matter how much blood there is.  But when it’s Tom or, worse, my children, I have to do a lot of deep breathing to maintain my composure.  Sure, outwardly I appear calm but inwardly, I’m screaming.

So, the other day, Tom had a wee mishap in his workshop. Or, as Ambrose Bierce put it, he had “an inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws.”  Fortunately, it wasn’t of the power-tool-digit-loss variety.  Rather, it was of the very-well-sharpened-razor-knife variety.  Basically, he sliced away, in one fell swoop, a large portion of the skin on the side of his index finger. 

And, golly, cut fingers sure can bleed.  And bleed.  And bleed.  He literally left a red trail from the workshop up to our house.  When he appeared with a completely blood-soaked towel at the door, my chest tightened and I felt like I might pass out, but I quickly grabbed a roll of Bounty’s from the kitchen and we dripped our way to the bathroom.  He washed it well with soap and water at the sink, and I unrolled about ten paper towels and wrapped them around his finger.  I kid you not—they were completely blood soaked in about ten seconds.  (Bounty- The Quicker Picker Upper!)  Understandably, we were both a little panicky at that point, but I unrolled more paper towels, pressed them to his finger and mentioned the possibility of going to the Emergency Room.  

“What can they do?” said Tom.  “It’s not a cut they can sew up…it’s a deep loss of skin and tissue.”

My chest tightened again.  More deep breaths.  I had to admit he had a point.  Fortunately, a half roll of Bounty’s and many deep breaths later,  the bleeding finally eased up enough for us to quickly wrap a bandage around his finger, then more paper towels and some tape.  It bled through all that, too, but at least he stopped dripping. 

So, Tom took it easy for the rest of the day, and we thought we had it licked.  But he had a job interview the next morning, and we thought perhaps that an enormous blood-soaked bandage might not be the best job-interview accessory.  So, that night, we decided that ten hours should be enough for the wound to have formed a clot so we could change the bandage. 

We were wrong.

If anything, it bled even more than before after we unrolled the bandage from his finger.  It simply would not stop.  And this was a full TEN HOURS after the accident.  Tom, understandably upset, started yelling at me to “put the bandage back!”  In the midst of our panic, I seemed to recall reading somewhere about some kind of spice that helped stop bleeding.  So I said, “Press the paper towels on it and let me look up on the internet that spice that stops bleeding!” 

“A spice?!!!  Forget the #%*& spice!!  Put the bandage back on NOW!”  Tom looked a little crazed, as would most people waving a bloody paper towel wrap the size of a hot dog bun on their finger, standing over a sink watching their blood run down the drain.   But I figured just putting the bandage back would likely give us the same result it had earlier.  So, trying to ignore his yelling, I googled “spice that stops bleeding,” breathing deeply and cursing our infernally slow dial-up connection. 

What came up, among other weird home remedies, were spices like turmeric and cayenne powder to stop bleeding.  I cringed at the thought of sprinkling hot cayenne pepper on a deep wound.  Then I remembered our book by Joe and Terry Graedon, Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy—What You Need to Know Before Your Next Visit to The Doctor or Drugstore.  Fortunately, it was nearby, and I frantically thumbed through the index.

And there it was in the index:  bleeding, black pepper for    448-49

I ran to our kitchen and pulled down our economy-size tin of ground black pepper and raced back to the bathroom.  Tom, looking askance at the black pepper tin, reluctantly pulled back the paper towels.  The wound immediately began to gush blood like a fountain.  I took a deep breath and poured.  I’ve got to say—it wasn’t easy dumping a tablespoon of black pepper on a deep, open, bleeding wound.

But, praise be, it was a miracle.  The bleeding stopped instantly.   We both stared incredulously at the small black mound of pepper on Tom’s finger.  It was utterly astounding to see just how fast it stopped the bleeding.  Now I should add here that it burned, according to Tom, like unholy fire.  But even that stopped after a few minutes.  We wrapped it with a bandage and some tape, leaving the pepper in place.  And the bandage stayed blood-free for Tom’s job interview the next day.

A couple of caveats:  For a deep cut that could be stitched, it would probably be better to go to a doctor.  And you should wash the wound well with soap and water (if available) before applying black pepper.  Also, I reckon the pepper should be ground pepper.  We usually use the unground peppercorns, but I’ve always kept the ground pepper on hand (no pun intended).  Thank God for that.  Can you imagine holding a peppermill over a bleeding wound, trying to grind out enough pepper to stop the bleeding? 

So, perhaps you’re wondering if Tom got the job he interviewed for.  Well, no.  He’s still looking.  But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.  There must be plenty of people out there looking for a “seasoned” veteran with a lot of “pep.”  Oh well…we’ll just have to see how it all “shakes” out.