Friday, July 18, 2008

Hummingbird Photos

I was bragging to my Mom the other day, that almost any time I go into the garden, I see a hummingbird. So these are my photos to substantiate my claim. ;-)

We have a "hummingbird corner" in the upper corner of our yard, with dozens of shaggy red monarda flowers, a favourite of hummers (click on any of the photos for a larger image):
Hummingbird and monarda
Hummingbird with monarda
Hummingbird and red monarda
When the monarda blooms come to an end, the butterfly bush, which is just starting to bloom, will provide interest for the remainder of the summer. Nearby, there are lots of trees in which the hummers can rest, such as our small cherry tree:
Hummingbird sitting in cherry tree
...a medium sized alder tree beyond the fence:
Hummingbird sitting
...and a tall alder tree behind our yard:
Hummingbird sitting high in tree
This is an interesting photo of the hummingbird already turned around, and just about to dart away:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden Glimpses : June & July 2008

I'm trying out a slide show format, I think it's pretty nice. Click Refresh at the end, to start over (instead of viewing advertising). Or click "View All Images" to view larger images, in a more traditional slide show format:

Hamsters are Just Not Like They Used to Be

I was musing to myself today, as I was tugging out handfuls of clover from our lawn, that my hamster (from when I was a kid) would have loved this stuff. When I was a kid, I remember spending hours sitting outside, watching my hamster, Snowflake (she was an albino, white with the pink eyes), munch on and then stuff her cheeks full of clover. When she looked like she would burst, I would return her to her cage.

My daughter's hamster, Hammy, has not showed the same interest in clover. In fact, he shows very little interest in foraging when we take him outside. And come to think of it, rarely seems to put anything in his cheeks, never mind stuff them to the bursting point.

So it got me to wondering why the difference, and I can only speculate that it may be because Hammy already gets such a wide variety of foods... We have a number of different foods we give him regularly, including a "hamster" seed mix, hamster pellets, nuts, rice, split peas, oats, and sunflower seeds. I don't remember what we fed my hamster regularly, but I remember one time getting a large beanbag frog - I don't remember if we bought it for 10cents at a garage sale, or someone gave it to us, or what - but when we discovered that it was full of grain, that became my hamster's food for months. So perhaps that was why she so enjoyed our regular trips outdoors, for the variety in her diet.

It made me think about my kids, and how when I was a kid, there was so much to look forward to. The mandarin oranges which only came out at Christmas time. Strawberries in June. Toys at Christmas or birthdays. Cake and pop at birthday parties. What a different world it is for my kids, with almost all food and material things available any time, and all the time. When they were younger, I think I did well at resisting the urge to buy them lots of toys, treats, etc, but lately we have found ourselves buying just about anything that catches our interest. Partly because we can. Partly because it is so much easier to entertain them with something new, than to revive interest in what they have. Partly because time is always so short, if we see it, we just buy it, we might not have a chance to return later... I am always looking for new baked goods to try... Things my mom wouldn't think to buy, she would instead bake her own. On the contrary, I can't imagine spending the time baking, it is much easier to just buy.

Then I thought again about Hammy.... He seems interested in the foods dropped in his food dish nightly, but if he walks around outside the cage, where some of the seeds have been scattered, he can walk right by them without showing interest (to my dismay, that we need to pick them up or finally just vacuum them up!). If hamsters evolve with us, will they eventually lose their cheeks, since they no longer have the need to treasure up food and carry it to their nests? How can we retain any joy or thankfulness for what we have, in the midst of so much? How do we help our kids appreciate the blessings they have (without boring them with the "When I was a kid" stories)?

On a lighter note, I need to share this cute photo of Hammy, looking like he's playing peek-a-boo (not the obsessive cleaning he does, of course!)... I was mad when I first saw it, and the silly piece of grass which my son poked in front of the lens as I was shooting, but later I came to appreciate this extra element of him hiding behind the grass. What do you think?
Hammy playing peek-a-boo

Saturday, July 05, 2008

6 Random Things About Me

It is fun on a rainy evening or late night (when I'm too tired even to play with DAZStudio 3D images) to wander through other people's virtual gardens, via their garden blogs. One of the gardens I like to "visit" is that of Irena from Toronto, Ontario. And I know she visits my blog also, since she graciously leaves me encouraging comments.

Recently I've been tagged by Irena in her "My Roots Run Deep" blog, to provide 6 random facts about me. So here goes:

1) My 2 kids were born in the same hospital as I was. Some 30+ years apart - Oh my, that's giving too much away! It was called "Burnaby General Hospital" back then, they now call themselves "Burnaby Hospital" (the distinction is too subtle for me, but someone reading this could probably enlighten me on the difference).

2) My favourite brand of facial tissue is Kleenex. Some brands are too hard to pull from the box, resulting in the whole box lifting, and requiring two hands to pull out a tissue. Others don't stay up enough, and tend to fall back into the box. I find it has the right balance of allowing a one-hand pull, but doesn't flop back inside. I only buy the 2 ply. Not that thick 3 ply stuff (just fold it over or pull2 when you need so much bulk!), nor lotions or any other additives. And of course, I buy the bulk pack, but try to find the colour combinations that will colour-match our rooms (beige for our master bathroom, purple for my daughter's, green or blue for my son's, burgundy for the powder room, and other colours for the other rooms).

3) On a similar note, my favourite brand of bathroom tissue is Purex. Yes, the "pillowy soft" stuff. White kittens rolling down the carpetted steps & all (do you remember those great TV ads, or am I dating myself again? I couldn't even find any images for this, or the later pillowy soft ads). Anyhow, similar story. It is soft enough, but not too fluffy & tearable. I won't even try other brands anymore, it is all around the best. I'm strictly a 2 ply girl, but double roll is great, it reduces storage requirements in my closet.

4) We don't have cable TV in our house. We really don't watch TV very much at all. My husband will occasionally watch late news on one of our two available channels. And on the occasion we want to watch something together, we just rent movies (or borrow some of those great "oldies" from the library). We had a 6 month cable trial (one of those real sweet deals) once, primarily so we could test out our wiring (we wired just about every room with cable, and even a satellite run from the attic, when we built the house). In the end, we didn't really test out more than the connection in the family room. And being able to watch re-runs of "I Love Raymond" or "Friends" on different channels at different times, just didn't justify the monthly fees.

5) My favourite cut flower is the Stargazer Lily. It was featured prominently in my wedding arrangement, so the strong scent invokes wonderful memories of the wedding, and the overwhelming scent in our honeymoon suite afterward. It is a good buy, if you can find one in full bloom in the store, since it can be planted in the garden afterward, and reward you with flowers for many years. I once made an online puzzle from a photo of my stargazers.

6) I always wear a seatbelt. I guess I just learned to drive a car that way: sit down, put the seatbelt on, start the car, adjust mirrors, ... So it drives me crazy that my husband will start the car and drive several blocks (or until my daughter or I point it out!!) before pulling on his seatbelt.

Now it is my turn to pass along the fun. But first, let's get the guidelines of this game out of the way:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I would like to "tag" the following people, whose blogs are also well worth a visit. In fact, I have been considering to pass along my "Creative Blogger Award" (from August 2007!!) to them, but just haven't set aside the time to write up the post!

1) Catherina from Virginia, USA, in her blog "Shabby~Chic Cat's Gardening Close~ups!" Her photos are lovely, prepared as themed collages of prints.

2) Pam from Austin, Texas, in her blog "Diary of an Austin Gardener". I love the garden close-up photos.

3) Melissa in Ontario, Canada, in her blog "Empress of Dirt". Great garden & wildlife photos, and witty commentary, too.

4) Kylee in NorthWest Ohio, USA, in her blog "Our Little Acre". Fun little anecdotes, gorgeous photos and lots of flower closeups.

5) David in Australia, in his blog "David's 'Images of Nature' Photography Gallery". He has some great nature photos, and I enjoy his "Sky Watch Friday" series.

6) David in Gloucester, Massachussets, in his blog "Flower Mandalas". David is a psychotherapist, photographer, digital artist, and writer, involved in healing and transformation through art. Perhaps since my life - by God's grace - has been filled only with blessing, or perhaps since I spend most of my time in the busy-ness of material living, I find I don't really relate to this whole area of healing, but I am nonetheless spell-bound by the beauty of his flower mandalas.

Tag, you're it!

And thanks to Irena for tagging me, this has been fun!
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