Thursday, June 30, 2011

A ferry ride and a surprise visit to an albino alligator at Fort Fisher Aquarium

 A great trip to Fort Fisher to the aquarium today with my crew.  From left to right - my granddaughter, Gen and her best friend, then my youngest daughter, Krista and her oldest daughter, Chloe, next my grandson, Jake and on the far right, Amber - Chloe's best friend.  Such great kids!   We had so much fun - nothing like being with children and grandchildren.
This is a real alligator at the aquarium, but he is behind glass, thank goodness.  He looked like he was eyeing the tasty morsel right there in front of him.

There was also an albino alligator.  If you've never seen one - which you probably haven't since they're so rare, click on the word alligator to see one.

The most fun was the ferry ride across the Cape Fear - the fresh ocean breeze and beautiful sky - and being with the people I love.  What could be better?  I hate to see this vacation come to an end.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memory making without photos

I haven't posted all week!  We're on vacation at the coast with our family - both daughters, one son-in-law, and three grandchildren  - the other son-in-law couldn't get away from work and we miss him.   I love the quality time we've spent together this week although hubby is a little disappointed in the weather - seas are a little rough for fishing. 

On Monday, I took my little bag of needed things down to the beach with me - cameras included, but didn't think to take any pictures that day.  If I had, I would have noticed that the aerosol  sunscreen spray was leaking out all into my bag, virtually drowning my cameras.  My Flip Video was swimming in it and my wonderful Fuji memory maker was not quite so wet, but ruined.  I have insurance on the Flip,  but it started working again - not 100% but working.  The flip-out usb device has to be coaxed out now and the viewing screen is hazy, but it still makes the videos.  The Fuji is a complete loss.  At least the SD card that I had lots of pics stored on is ok.

This is one trip we'll just have to keep the memories stored in our hearts - to pull out and see in our mind's eye versus a real photo.  I think I can do that - these grandchildren grow so fast, so I'm holding on to all the memories I can. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My sweet Olive - rest in peace

The title above is short and so is the story.  I've labored over this post for the past week because it has been a little over a week since Olive disappeared.   I've cried, I've been angry, I've cried again.  We have not found any sign of her - not a feather nor any sign of struggle, but I know that she is dead - I can feel her absence from my heart.  But I haven't been able to write about it - to put my thoughts and feelings on paper - it was too fresh.

On the morning of June 15th I heard my dog barking as I was getting breakfast ready.  I walked outside to see what all the fuss was about. He has several barks, and this one was letting me know that something was in our yard that shouldn't be there.  A neighbor up the street has a dog that is considered a "dangerous dog" and is supposed to be confined in a fence or in their house.    Our dog was barking this day because this dog was in our yard.  He was not on a leash, but his owner was at the road and was calling him.  He seemed to be having trouble catching him, but then they both started heading in the direction of their house.  I watched as they headed down the street.   A couple of hours later, I went out to feed the chickens and Olive was fine - she was actually socializing with the other chickens which doesn't happen very often.  Shortly after that, we left for a couple of hours, and when I got home, she didn't come running to meet me like she normally does.  I knew immediately something was wrong - you know, you just get those feelings.  I looked in all her usual places, even went to her nesting place to see if she was broody again.  Her nest was there along with the egg she had laid that morning.

Since we didn't witness what happened, I can't say for certain that it was the dog, but I know in my heart it was.  The first experience we had with him was about 3 years ago, when a neighbor told me she had seen the dog coming from our yard carrying a dead chicken in his mouth headed for home.  Shortly after that he again came into our yard killing several more.  At that time, we warned the neighbor what would happen if the dog came back into our yard and he has kept him confined since - until now.  I am now giving the neighbor fair warning that the next time he runs into our yard he will not run back out.  It's not safe having our grandchildren outside with a dog like that in the vicinity if he is not confined.

I know it seems trivial and superficial to grieve for a lost pet when other's face much, much deeper losses.  My heart aches for parents who've lost a child - It is something that I pray I never have to face.   And I know that Olive is just a chicken - but she was my pet - one that I really loved - one whose quirky little personality made me laugh.  One who followed me around like a puppy everywhere I went.  I gave her baths when she got dirty, nursed her back to health when she was sick.  I fretted over her while she was sitting on her eggs and watched in delight as she became a mother.

We're eventually going to lose our pets and we all know it, but it doesn't make it any easier right now.  I'll get over it and she'll just be a sweet memory.  It's taken me over a week, but  I can finally write about it even though tears are falling on my keyboard.  Sweet little innocent Olive - she didn't deserve to die that way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My day has been consumed with housecleaning.  I've challenged myself to getting organized and have spent my second day in my kitchen.  You can read about it here.  Follow along and maybe we can get organized together!

Summer is here in full swing!  We've had at least three weeks where the daytime temperature has been in the high 90's.  The humidity just hangs in the air and you feel like you're suffocating when you walk outside.  Thank God for Air Conditioning!  We're having to constantly keep changing the animal's water dishes.  If not, it would be too warm for them to drink.  The seasons seem to be changing - our June's were once pleasant in the South - now they're right up there with July and August!  I'm ready to vacation in a cool spot somewhere.  A blogger friend who lives south of the equator posted yesterday about the cold they were experiencing.  I was envious.  I guess we just can't be happy, can we?  If only we could hit a happy medium temperature!  Somewhere on this earth there has to be one.  Does anyone know where it is? 

This little sink of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine!

Instead of posting on this blog today, I'm going to direct you over to my other blog I recently started.  It's some little tips on organizing - one small step at a time - along with sharing my progress as I go along.  Before you think I'm little Miss Suzy Homemaker, run over to this first post to see the real story.

Then, when you finish, click here to find out about the title above.  My goal is to bring a little organization into my chaotic world and hope it leads to keeping my house a little neater along the way.  Cheers!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Junkyard Dogs and Chainsaw Artists

I feel a little like a roving reporter when I'm going on day trips with the hubby finding parts for restoring old cars.   These trips always produce fodder for my blogs.  We come across some interesting stuff checking out the highways and byways of the Carolinas.  You just have to dig deep and get off the main drag to find it.  This was a trip we took in mid-May.  First stop was to be a junkyard in Thomasville, NC, to pick up an engine for a car that hubby is restoring, but we both love Main Streets in small towns, so we detoured off the GPS's beaten path.  It was our lucky day!  Main Street was teeming with activity.  There was a Chainsaw Artist competition right in the center of downtown creating a major traffic jam so I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the truck in the middle of the street, leaving Henry to deal with traffic and find a place to park.  Twelve of the top chainsaw artists from around the country were participating in this event.  For those of you who don't know about chainsaw art, it's simply taking a large log and carving something out of it with chainsaws - starting with a large chainsaw and using smaller ones for detail, combining the modern technology of the chainsaw with the ancient art of woodcarving.  It's a rare but growing form of art that takes an artist's eye and a keen imagination to envision the final piece of art.  I got my camera ready and started shooting.

I loved this "Newspaper Carrier" bear.  He was the first to catch my eye.
Logs like you see in this photo are all they have to start with - and of course their tools.

Curious dogs - maybe they're guarding their owners tools while he's away from his tent.

Nice horse and bobcat.

Ooh!  I love this - using the chainsaw art as a form of advertising your business.  An aviator bear advertising an airport and a lean pig advertising a BBQ.

This little guy has a beach blanket and a rose - ready to take you for a stroll down the boardwalk.
Here's Chap Nelson from Gray, Georgia.   He's done a great piece of art for a zoo, don't you think?

My British friends will love this bulldog.

I loved this mother raccoon - hiding her kittens in a hollow tree.  This sculpture was done by the artist in the picture below.

Thomas Bland of Reidsville, Georgia standing beside his sculpture.
Wouldn't this be cute in a rustic cabin bathroom?

I don't like snakes but love the detail on this one.

Now that's a big gun.

A throne?  This chair is so detailed!

An artist at work
And finally - this little guy was a little intimidated by the three dogs in the wagon.  He was not going along for the ride.
 This little side excursion was worth the ride.  When we got to our destination, I took a couple photos of a nearby old mill building that was overgrown with vines.  Makes for some interesting pictures, don't you think? 

And to make good on the title of the blog, how would you like to meet up with this fellow in a junkyard office?  The picture isn't very clear and it's difficult to see how he's snarling, growling and generally trying to scare me to death.  He was successful in the scaring me to death part.   Even though there was a window between us, he looked big enough to crash through it, so I kept my distance.   This picture was taken in Myrtle Beach, SC. 
This office belongs to you big boy - I want NO part of it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Open Air Market on a hot Saturday morning

About the only difference between an open air market and a flea market is what the county ordinances allow you to call it.  We have a nice little open air market at Holden Beach.  It's where we peddle our wares and they were "pedaling" at a high rate of speed today.  The fish are bitin' and the fishermen are hankerin' to go out and catch 'em! 

I thought I would show you a few things other people are peddling today.  We have a neat bunch of vendors at our market.  If you're ever down this way, stop in.

Lori's cute cottage style decor.  She's added some patriotic themes for the coming 4th of July holiday.  I keep wandering back to her booth.  I love her style.

More of the good stuff

Here's Lori herself on the left  - with a customer waiting in line.

This guy's a regular.  His Hibiscus and Angel trumpets are some of the prettiest I have ever seen. Some of the blooms are 12' diameter!  They're perrineals - not the tropicals so they will come back every year.  Anyone want me to bring a load home next time.  Most are $10 with the larger ones a little higher.  So healthy and beautiful

Mike, the New York hot dog man.  If he's not there, you'll have a lot of unhappy people.  Best hot-dog in town!  He spends more time cleaning his booth than he does making hot dogs.  He's fastideous when it comes to cleanliness.
The other Mike, the produce man.  Great peaches, lopes and melons.  And fresh and boiled peanuts in the fall of the year.
Lori and Jimmy sell this beautiful cedar furniture.  Same Lori that has the great cottage decor.

It wouldn't be an open air market in the summertime without snow cones. 

Another great outdoor furniture vendor.  This one sells teakwood.  We bought a table from him recently.

Here we are!  We give Walmart a run for their money.  They've actually complained that we sell our fishing stuff too cheap and it hurts their sales.  Walmart!  Can you believe we hurt their sales?

You definitely have to have some flea market stuff.  Everyone stops in and buys from Linda and Larry.

Even bathing suits.  This guy gets lots of tourist business.  He sells all his bathing suits for $13. He even has a little tent to change in.  My hubby swears that when the sun is just right....well, if you come down to buy a bathing suit, don't change in the tent.

Flags galore.  They're pretty blowing in the wind.
Ray and Betty - the anchors of the open air market - I won't say how long they've been here - it might give away their age.  Betty's a breath of sunshine - always a smile on her face.  Ray, you are one lucky guy.

After seeing all the neat merchandise and nice people, doesn't it make you want to stop in and shop?  It's a great way to spend a Saturday morning - it's an early market so come out from the beach before breakfast!  See ya' there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


One of the blogger friends that I follow recently blogged about how her sister talked her in to volunteering in a hospital when she was a girl.  She was all for working an hour a day thinking she would be reading books to little kids.  Instead, they put her in a geriatric hospital doing much more than reading little books.  It was a cute story and you can read it on Jane's blog here.  It brought to mind a time when I was a girl and my mom and I had visited someone in the hospital.  I saw some girls my age dressed in these cute red and white striped pinafores and learned that they were volunteers in the hospital.  I loved those little striped jumpers and thought it would be really cool to be a Candy Striper.  A friend and I looked into it and we were told that with just a few training classes, we would be given a uniform and we could start volunteering.  I remember being told that our job would be taking library books and magazines to patients, delivering flowers and cheering up the patients. Besides, it might be nice to be a nurse someday.

During the first training session, we learned how to make beds.  I wondered why we were learning to make beds, but I did what I was told and I could fold those corners with the best of them - no fitted sheets back then.  Next we learned about bed pans and I knew I was in trouble.  Hey, no fair!  Where were the magazines and the pretty flowers?  Why was I not cheering up patients?   Why was I not being told how to flit in and out of the hospital hallways looking cute and having fun like those other girls I saw?  They must have changed the job description.

I lasted about six weeks on my first job of volunteering.  I was never so glad in all my life to get rid of something as I was the day I turned in that ugly red and white uniform.  And I had a whole new respect for nurses. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Obsessions and Resolutions

It was not my intention to write today.  The weather's somewhat cooler this morning and I planned to get out to do a few outside chores before it warms up to the 90's heatwave we've been having.  My intentions to not write were thrown out the window when I opened my email and read my Christnotes Daily Bible Verse this morning.  This one had my name written all over it in neon letters, and bear with me while I tell you why.

I don't think I'm much different from other bloggers in that I like for people to read my blogs.  If you'll research "tips" on blogging, you'll find that most tips suggest catchy titles to call attention to what you're writing.  They suggest using keywords that are popular search words on Google so that when someone is searching for information, your site will be prominent on the Google page.  I've done all this and it seems to work.  Even when I've done it accidentally, I've had readers from many countries who've found my blog on Google.  In fact, I've become obsessed with looking on Feedjit and my dashboard to see where my readers are from - so much so that I felt compelled to write about 2 Corinthians 12: 7 - 10.  It was the apostle Paul who wrote in his letter to the Corinthians:

[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

[8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

[9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

[10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

[11] I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

Now you may not "get" how the verse spoke to me - so many times we will read a passage of Scripture and get nothing out of it and the second time around, we say "Oh, now I get it!"  and that's what this one did today for me.  It didn't at first, but when you subscribe to's daily scripture readings, you get a link to the entire chapter and then you're pretty much hooked.   They even have commentaries from the notes of John Darby, Matthew Henry and John Wesley - which gives you so much food for thought. So when I clicked the link to the entire chapter and then the commentaries, I took the verses to heart.  Some of Matthew Henry's notes on these verses are as follows:
"The apostle gives an account of the method God took to keep him humble, and to prevent his being lifted up above measure, on account of the visions and revelations he had. We are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride."

Now how, may you ask, did this apply to my life this morning?  The apostle Paul was speaking of revelations that had come to him from God and I have had no revelations.  But my obsession has become a "great temptation" and a "thorn in my flesh" and like most of our "get it" moments in scripture reading, it is not easy to explain it to others.  It is just a personal reminder to us that, as Matthew Henry comments:
"His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace."
What does this mean to me?  Well, to put it simply, it means that when I'm tempted to spend moments that I should be exalting God rather than focusing on my blog's readership, I will attempt to follow His will more closely.  I will bookmark the Christnotes website and do my "clicking" on it versus Feedjit or Dashboard.  
Do you have an obsession that takes time away from your spiritual life and want to resolve it?  If so, just follow this link and in His Word, I'll guarantee you that somewhere in there, you'll find the solution.  And what about prayer?  Here's a little more of Matthew Henry:  "Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. If an answer be not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we are to continue praying."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

If you teach a child to sew, she will stay warm for a lifetime.....

My nine year old granddaughter has shown an interest in sewing recently.  I needed to make a quick trip to Wal-mart this week and she went with me.  I thought she would head for the toy aisle, the DVD aisle, or the electronics, but no - she headed straight for the craft department and started browsing through the materials and laces.  I asked her what she was looking for and what she planned to make.  "Will you teach me to sew, MawMaw", she asked.  Now mind you, she didn't ask me that because she had seen me hard at work over a sewing machine time and time again.  I can't remember the last time I sat down at a sewing machine, but when I did, I realized my $99 machine was broken.  I probably forgot to oil it or whatever you do to sewing machines if you don't use them but once every five years.  But she had seen me hand stitching and mending recently so she thought I was the perfect person to teach her to sew.

I told her I would love to teach her to sew by hand but that I didn't think she was ready for a machine yet.  Quick thinking, Grandma!  She was thrilled - I was glad because if she had insisted on a sewing machine I would have had to send her to her other Grandma and I'm not sure Carol can sew either.  I sure didn't want to miss out on all the fun of sewing with her.

Today was the big day.  She and I gathered some scrap material - which I buy all the time because I know in my heart that someday I'm going to invest in a large NEW sewing machine and start sewing like a madwoman - cranking out quilts, doll dresses and all the other things grandmas are supposed to do.  We got out thread, needles, scissors and a thimble that we didn't use.   I've always heard the old saying, "If you give a child a blanket, he will stay warm for a day, but if you teach a child to sew a blanket, he will stay warm for a lifetime."   It was too warm out to work on a blanket, but I taught her a few basic stitches and she was ready to start on a cloth pocketbook.  She designed it, we cut it out and then she learned the first thing every seamstress needs to know - how to take things back apart when you've made a mess. 
She's really concentrating on that really sharp needle.
She's taking this very seriously.


And after a little help from Grandma, the finished product turned out like this.  It's red with a blue handle. The slip pocket in front is trimmed with red and blue plaid ribbon and a button.  And right above the pocket is a little embroidered cherry or strawberry looking thing.  Pretty good  for her first sewing project, don't you think?  Next we'll start working on her wedding dress.  It will take us that long to finish it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bible Belt Yoga - for our physical and mental well-being

When you think of Yoga classes, you get this mental picture of a bunch of twenty-somethings contorting their bodies into pretzel shapes - or an image of someone sitting in the lotus position forming little circles with their fingers and thumbs while meditating.  Think again - and get another image in your head, because you haven't seen anything until you see the Yoga class we have each Monday night in our church's fellowship building.  It's made up of a rag-tag group of all ages doing the best we can with the abilities we have. We call it Yoga, because we do the yoga poses, but we do them without the meditation of the ancient Hindu roots.    For some, yoga is a spiritual practice, while we prefer to focus on the mental and physical challenges - in fact, some of the Hindu faith complain that yoga is not being used as it originated.  The Western World has predominantly adapted it as a form of exercise - a series of stretch and bend postures that keep our bodies fit - and breathing exercises to calm and relax our minds.  But because yoga originated in the Hindu faith, I have met opposition when I speak of it.  They just can't get past the word yoga - to them it implies a culture and religion that is far different than their own, but I don't understand why they oppose it.  Meditation is important as a spiritual journey, no matter what religion you practice.

Breathing: “Anyone can practice yoga. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how fit you are, or even how well you can move,” says Susan Bowen, co-owner of Thrive Yoga in Rockville, MD. “Yoga starts with breathing. If you can breathe, you can practice yoga.”  That's a good way to look at it. As for myself, I have found that breathing is such an important part of my routine.  You have to breathe to live and breathing the correct way is an integral part of staying healthy.   I'm sure you've heard the adage, "take a deep breath and calm down".   Breathing in and then exhaling fully clears your lungs.  Calm and gentle breathing activates a gland inside your brain that triggers a relaxation response in your body. 

Fitness:  Being fit is important at any age, but on the whole, we are living longer than we used to.  We all want good health and quality of life as we age.  We don't want the health issues that go hand in hand with a sedentary lifestyle.  As we get older, we become more susceptible to those ailments, aches and pains that are linked to the natural aging process.  Those ailments tend to slow us down and we move less - which in turn creates more ailments.  It's a vicious cycle, isn't it?  It's very tempting to just "take it easy" and "grow old gracefully"; however, it's not very graceful when an older person takes a fall.  Extended periods of inactivity lead to shortening, tightening and weakening of the muscles.  If we don't move and stretch, we lose our flexibility.  If we sit still for too long, we lose our balance - which is why you hear of so many older people falling and breaking a hip or an arm.  Research indicates that Yoga stretches and postures can slow - or even slowly reverse - the aging process.

Let me introduce you to Shirley Cauthen.  Shirley is my friend and a long-time member of our church.  I had heard shortly after we moved here that Shirley had been doing Yoga exercises for about fifty years.  I wasn't sure what age she was, but I could see a bounce in her step, a perfect posture, and how fit and trim she seemed to be.   I had also witnessed her vast knowledge of the Bible, her sweet spirit, and evidence of her Christianity.  I found out recently that Shirley is seventy-nine years old – and you would never believe it to see her in action.   She can do yoga postures that even the teens and twenty-somethings we’ve had in our class cannot do.  

Shirley says that she started dancing at about the same time she learned to walk – in other words, she has a God-given talent.  She started taking dance lessons at twelve and studied dance in New York under the tutelage of Martha Graham, the famous dance instructor who introduced modern dance to the world.  She took instruction from Martha herself - who was nearly seventy at the time. It was there that she was introduced to yoga by a fellow student.  He taught her the basics and she later took instruction from several other professional instructors – some from India. 

Shirley is a fascinating person.  During the 1950’s and into the late 1960’s, she had her own television program in the Charlotte and Columbia markets.  In Columbia, she had The Shirley Cauthen Show and in Charlotte, her show was Spanarama.  Dance was and is her passion and it shows in every graceful move she makes.
This is Shirley.  The smile on her face is the love of God shining through!  What a sweet and inspiring woman she is!

I approached Shirley one day almost four years ago, and asked her if she would be interested in giving some Yoga classes at our Community Center.  After several re-occurring bouts of bursitis in my hips, my doctor had recommended doing some stretch exercises.  I started thinking that all of us could do with stretching exercise, and Shirley was a wonderful role model to some of us who were approaching our senior years with trepidation.  Shirley seemed to be really excited about it and I talked it up and got a group together for every Monday night.   There were seventeen of us there on that first night.  None of us realized how out of shape we were - even the simplest of yoga positions were putting us to the test.  I hate to admit it but the simple feat of getting up and down off the floor in a somewhat graceful manner was a challenge for most of us.  We needed this! 

The next week a few had found it either too embarrassing or too strenuous and didn't come back.  Over the next few weeks we lost a few and gained a few, but most of us stuck with it.  I was surprised at how quickly we were advancing from a few basic postures to more difficult ones as the weeks progressed.  Shirley was patient with us, but she didn't cut us any slack - and she encouraged young and old alike to at least try each posture.  She stressed though, that we should never do an exercise that caused us pain - although early on, almost all of them caused me pain - but don't tell Shirley.

From the original group, there are only a handful of us sticking with it.  There have been some new additions - some younger ones have joined the class now and it's nice to see that they are taking care of their bodies before they start falling apart instead of trying to do damage control like some of us older ones.

Shirley is our hero - she's an inspiration to us all.  It's a wonderful feeling being able to have a spring in your step and a better attitude on life.  I haven't had a bout with bursitis since the day I started Yoga and I feel wonderful.  Shirley won't even take any payment for her instruction - she's volunteering her services for the health of our community - another way of showing her willingness to serve others.  We only pay a nominal fee for the use of the building - $1 per night per person.  It's the best buck I have ever spent! This is a tribute to Shirley, a friend and fellow Christian who is the dog-goned best yoga instructor you could ever wish to have.
Shirley - in one of the poses of salutation to the sun - this is the downward dog pose.
Christine - this is a pose of balance - the beginning of a handstand.
Here Shirley is literally "floating" in the air.  Her entire body is supported only by her hands.  Even the young women in our class can't do this pose. This posture is called the Peacock.
Genie, a grandmother of three with a fourth on the way, in a headstand - a challenging pose indeed!
Part of our group.  Ages range from early twenties to mid- seventies when everyone is present.  If you're looking for me, I'm taking the picture!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sad ending to the Olive and Rube story .....

This is a post I would prefer not to make.  It marks the sad ending of a series of stories I have been telling over the lasts few months - the one of Olive and her determination to be a mother.  My Polish Hen, Olive, went broody on us in early April.  For those who don't know chicken terminology, "going broody" means that a hen gets into the “mood” to incubate eggs and raise chicks.  Once they're in the mood, there's no deterring them - they go into a trance like state that they stay in until the eggs hatch.  Polish Hens are bred as "show birds" and do not normally go broody which is why I was so surprised when Olive did.  I should have followed my instincts to take the eggs out from under her because I knew they were not fertile, but there was a chance that a bantam hen had laid an egg in her nest, so I let nature take it's course.  Sure enough, Olive eventually hatched out the bantam's chick and instantly adopted it and was so sweet and protective of her new baby.  I blogged so much about the little celebrities that I held a contest to name the new chick.  A blogger friend, Thisisme, won the contest and we named the chick Rube - it would be Ruby if it turned out to be a hen and Ruben if it turned out a rooster.

The first hint of a problem was on Friday morning before we left for a weekend trip.  I went out to feed the chickens, and found Rube all alone chirping loudly for his mother.  I started looking for Olive and found her searching for worms and bugs in another area of our backyard.  I didn't think too much of it - just thought the baby had been following her and couldn't keep up - or that maybe she was teaching him a little bit of independence.  I continued to notice her straying away and found it to be odd behavior for an otherwise wonderful little mother hen.  I briefly thought about caging them while we were gone - they are free-range - but got busy packing and just forgot about it.  I should have remembered.

I got a call on Saturday afternoon from my daughter who was feeding our animals in our absence.  She was upset that something had injured Rube - and our precious little chick didn't look like he was going to make it.  She put feed and water in the cage and tucked Rube and Olive comfortably inside and hoped for the best.  She indicated that Olive didn't show much concern that the baby chick was injured.  The best didn't happen - little Rube didn't make it and it makes me so sad to think that our sweet Olive - who started out being such a great mother - may have neglected her baby in the end.

Isn't mothering an instinct in hens?  I mean, that's where the term "you're just an old mother hen" comes from.  Mother hens are famous for flogging anything that threatens their chicks and Olive had been that way also.  Mothering in all species of animals is just a natural born behavior, or is it?   I would have given my life for my babies - and still would now that they are adults. 

Maybe Polish Hens just don't have the mothering instinct that causes them to continue to be a good mother after the baby "cuteness" wears off.  I've heard of young cats who have neglected their kittens, and dogs that don't take care of their puppies.  And of course, we've all heard with sadness stories about mothers who neglect their children and put them in harm's way.  But it's not meant to be that way.  What goes wrong to make a good mom go bad?  Maybe Olive finally noticed that this little chick looked much more like the other little hens in the yard than it did her.   Maybe she just got tired of the chick limiting her activity.

But wait, I'm just assuming neglect.  I prefer to think that it was just an accident - that she looked away for a minute and a stray cat or a dog grabbed her baby - haven't we all looked away for a moment at some point in our "mothering" days?    She may have tried to fight the predator off but it was too much for her.  Maybe Olive is sad also, like any of us would be if something happened to our little ones.  I'll go out and cuddle her and give her the benefit of the doubt.  She deserves a little comfort for being the mother she was - careless accidents can happen to the best of us.  Poor Olive.....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Vacations - Then and Now

Summer vacations - we've always taken one whether we could afford it or not.  Holden Beach, North Carolina was our favorite family getaway and still is.   The mid 1970's was our first encounter with this family oriented beach that had no amusement activities for the kids other than a small miniature golf course at the pier.  We didn't have to constantly run the kids here and there for entertainment because there wasn't any - other than the beautiful Atlantic Ocean which is entertainment enough.  We always rented an oceanfront cottage with a boardwalk allowing us easy beach access by walking a mere thirty to fifty feet to the water.  The week would always fly by and we savored every minute of it by staying on the beach every possible minute of the day.  We only left the beach to take food and bathroom breaks by walking across the boardwalk that separated the sand from the cottage.   The kids could come in and out as they pleased because there was always at least one of us on the beach to watch them.

In 1989, we made the plunge and bought on the oceanfront and two weeks to the day after we signed the contract, hurricane Hugo came through taking our entire septic system out to sea.  Apparently that's one of the few things insurance doesn't pay for and it was rather costly.  We loved our "little place by the sea" - even though it became a money pit - and we had some wonderful times there.   When a strong Nor'easter came through in 1993 and took all the sand away and left us with a whole ocean at our back door, we decided to sell it before it washed away.  We actually made a small profit and counted ourselves lucky to be rid of it before it became floating timbers.  We kept watching it as we continued coming down for vacations and eventually the sand built back up and once again there was a nice sandy beach to play on.  It changed hands a few times over the years and about five years ago we noticed an open house sign and asked the agent what they expected to sell it for.  My mouth fell open when she told me it was about $300,000 more than we paid for it.  That was one of those "if only" moments that you sometimes have - we all have them from time to time.

We again have a tiny "home away from home" down here, but it's about a mile away from the beach.  Since we retired we started a little weekend "open air" bait and tackle shop so during the summer we burn up the roads on weekends back and forth from home to the sea.  It's a fun chapter in our lives and allows us the opportunity to be at our favorite getaway just about any time we want to go.

 Our children are grown now with children of their own and where do you think they take their summer vacations?  Yep - we must have made some good memories here because this is where they still come to bring their children.  And it's still the same after over a quarter of a century with a miniature golf coarse as the only entertainment.  There's nothing like a sweet breeze, sand between your toes, and the smell of suntan lotion mixed with salty air to slow you down to a less harried pace and get you into "summer vacation" mode.  Ya gotta love it!

I've included some family vacation photos of our children and grandchildren having fun at the beach over the last few years: 
Me with my "accidental" catch of the day.  I usually take a book to read while I'm fishing.  I'm not very serious about it, but somehow I manage to catch the biggest fish when they just happen to jump on my line.

My grandson doing some serious fishing. 

Granddaughters and daughter a few years past.

Grandchildren and their cousin being little monkeys.

Another daughter and grandchildren

Our sweet Gen dancing in the surf.

Henry with a fish - notice that it's not as big as mine :)

A storm brewing

Sunrise captured - red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.