When we show our respect for the other living things, they respond with respect for us.----Arapaho Proverb

Thursday, December 30, 2010


As a matter of fact I have!!!  It is December 30th and our insomniac woodchuck visited the feeder again today!!  As a matter of fact, he hasn't missed a single day since my last post about him back on December 15th.   Pretty amazing really!  Sometimes he will even appear at the feeder before daylight, while at others, he comes out either in the late morning or early afternoon.  What a funny little character!!!!!  I wonder if he is beginning to feel the slightest bit sleepy?

Here are a few pictures of him taken both before the snowstorm and immediately after.  But since I had to take them through the screening so as not to scare him off, they came out rather poorly.  Still that chubby woodchuck silhouette is unmistakable!!!

This is December 22nd...... 

and December 23th........

and again on the 26th.

This one was taken on the 27th when it was exceptionally cold and windy.  Look how deep the snow was!!! Do you think he had to shovel out the entrance to his borrow before he could get out to come eat? Now that would be a serious addiction!!!

Well, at least he is only stopping by for a short nosh each time now instead of spending the entire day chowing down! I guess you could call that making progress!!   Still I think I ought to contact Guinness to see if he has broken any records in the woodchuck division!!!  I'll definitely keep you posted on how long he will keep this up.  Hmmm, perhaps I should hold a lottery and people could choose the date and time he will last be, I suppose not......

Monday, December 27, 2010


When I awoke just before daybreak, the temperature was a meager 15 degrees and with gusts to 50 mph I can't even begin to fathom what the wind chill factor must have been!  The weather forecasters had predicted 6 to 10, but there were only a few inches of dry snowfall on the ground , piled  into dainty little drifts so artistically around the yard. 

Gathering a hot cuppa, my cuddle sack and trusty little electric heater, I sat all toasty warm and comfy in my easy chair in front of the slider door.  The wind howled outside with wild abandon as an occasional full-tongued whistle sounded from an undetermined crack somewhere in the house.  At times it gave the building a mighty shove, as if throwing a temper tantrum, demanding to be let in or else. 

The wind gusts were absolutely amazing!  Tiny song birds at the feeders, were being tossed about as they attempted to have their morning meal.  They hurriedly grabbed beak fulls of seeds in between bouts before once again being buffeted around like so many tiny leaves.

Yet by the time daylight broke, periods of calm were interspersed with the gusts. And it was then that I was treated to a most delightful show.

As the curtain went up on the first act, all was peaceful with just the lightest snow dusting silently to the ground, then all of a sudden the Ballet of the Winds began with gusto.  Ethereal forms appeared fleetingly in the flying snow like something out of the ghostly tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, performing an arabesque here, a few dazzling spins there, first a soloist or two, and then the entire company would join in, dancing and twirling away on point.  To the left and to the right they careened, doubling back and changing direction in the blink of an eye.

At times they would pass right through the screen porch, just inches from my face, on the other side of the slider door.  But my very favorite was when, at the winds mightiest peak, a figure would suddenly pause right in front of the porch, tall and phantom-like in its shroud of flying snow, as if checking to see if I was enjoying the ballet before continuing on again.

I was thus entertained for quite some time before the wind began to lose some of its punch and all the magnificent toe dancers came off point at last and went on to something else.  I blew a kiss in return for the fantastic gift of the performance I had  just witnessed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Gingerbread houses are such fun to make, but are so very time-consuming and  labor intensive.  Then of course there is the looong list of expensive candies and such you need for decorating them properly!  AND the mega problem of what to do with your beautiful creation when it wears out its welcome and you want to move on to something else.

So when I saw this project in a crochet magazine, I thought it was the perfect solution.  And what the heck, I could always light a gingerbread scented candle, right?  I figured since I'd be going through all the construction issues, personal preference changes and mess, it would behoove me to ask my mother and daughter if they wanted one first, so I could make all three at the same time.  Sure enough, they loved the idea, and I began the lengthy (albeit one time) process of creating my own little development community of gingerbread homes.  As it turned out, although it WAS a positively monumental task to make all three at once, it was the best approach!

I chose to make the bases out of the round cardboard discs they sell for cake baking.  I used a fuzzy, snowy looking yarn and added some dainty hearts around the border.

The walls and roofs were cut out of cardboard and glued together before adding the crocheted panels.  My husband Frank helped me out with that as his hands are stronger than mine, besides he's not afraid of the razor knife.  (we klutzes have a healthy fear of all things that slice and dice)!  Thank you Frank, I couldn't have done it without you!

Here are a few shots at various stages of construction.

As it turned out, the task was even more daunting than I expected, (times three houses like that), and there were quite a few times that I doubted my sanity for even attempting the project,  but luckily I was elf employed at the time, which definitely helped!!!

Although I liked the way the houses were decorated in the magazine, I wanted mine to be a little less busy.  So I made just a few candy confections here and there and added delicate snowflakes to the front side of each.

In the end I was rewarded with three delightful gingerbread houses. By the way, Mom and Julie loved theirs too!!!

I did however wind up making one final post construction modification.  I thought the roof peek needed a generous helping of snow to look finished.  Ahhh, that's much better!!!!  My work here is done!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Welcome Winter come what may!!  If recent weather patterns are any indication, it certainly seems as if we might be in for a whopper of a season!  So whether (or should I say weather) this is indeed a sneak preview of the next ice age, or just Autumn and her blustery winds and Old Man Winter with his snow and ice collaborating and having some fun at our expense, no one can really say for certain.

But I for one am looking forward to this Winter!  I can hardly wait to go snowshoeing, build snowpeople, take tons of Winter scene pictures, relax in front of a roaring fire, OD on hot chocolate, and all the other delights of the season.

As you may or may not recall, I adore all four seasons, and the way I express it is to decorate my home in honor of each one of them in its own time.  And so, you might ask, precisely how does a Nature Sprite decorate her home for Winter?  Let me show you!

There must, of course, be a special tribute (or two or three) to Old Man Winter, without whom there would be no Winter to celebrate! 

Then there must be lots and lots of snowflakes and icicles.....

add some frosted leaves....

and a few snow folk....

plus a generous helping of snow and ice fairies.....

"sprinkle"  with just a few snowflake cookies, and there you have it!!!

This year my husband found the most perfect pine cone lights for me.  I just love the way they glow so soft and warm. Thank you Frank!!!

So once again, welcome Old Man Winter!!  I am so happy that you have finally arrived!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Any time of the year, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is a special treat.  But the holiday season, with all the extra colorful lights and displays is my absolute favorite.  The day we visited was exceptionally guest lite and I was able to get many fine photos without anybody in them!  I did take a ponderous amount of pictures though (208 to be exact), and for fear of putting everyone to sleep, I have decided to break them up into categories for the next few days, and that will still only give you the very barest highlights!!!

Today I thought I might focus on the main conservatory and the absolutely phenomenal amount of blooms they packed into it.  Upon entering the building, the first sight that greeted us took my breath away.

And I just loved all the water features!!!!

There was so much beauty everywhere I turned, that I hardly knew where to look first!

It was like taking a stroll in a lush garden in the dead of Winter!

There were lots of decorated trees both inside and on the outside grounds. These are but a few of my personal favorites. 

And that doesn't even include the many outside trees festooned with more colored lights (after dark) than you would think possible for one tree to bear!  I would love to know their technique for applying the lights so profusely!  Amazing!!!  But I couldn't get them to photograph decently; perhaps when I get my new camera.

They always inspire me with their herbal displays too, like this tree decorated with large pots of culinary herbs....

and this magnificent wreath that would keep a kitchen stocked with fine herbs throughout the entire Winter!!!

I was just ambling along taking it all in, when who should suddenly come flying by, humming to himself contentedly, but this little bee.  Did he find himself a premier resort for the Winter or what!

But all this is just the tip of the iceberg!!  I have yet to show you the bonsai trees, the major leaf foliage displays and close ups of some really spectacular blooms, etc, so stay tuned to this blog and prepare to be dazzled!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I'm so glad you asked!  Even though it tends to be rather slow, this is still an interesting time of year, wondering which of my little neighbors will decide to stay and who will venture elsewhere to seek their fortunes.  There are always some new faces and those old friends I will never see again. But I feel most fortunate to have known each and every one of them!!

The deer are keeping a very low profile these days while the hunters continue to switch weapons and head back out to stalk them once again.  Sometimes I will see a few late into the night, but they don't linger like they used to.  Too dangerous to hold still for too long I suppose!

'The woodchuck who refused to hibernate' still makes a showing at the feeder, (as a matter of  fact I just saw him a little while ago) but only every few days now.  I imagine he is getting really sleepy but can't get the goose food off his mind and so he rouses himself every now and then to have a nosh.  It will be very interesting to see how long he can keep it up before he falls into a deep, Nature- induced sleep that he won't be able to shake off to head out for a snack.  Almost makes me want to deliver some to his door daily, if he is SO enamored of the stuff!!

Now that the leaves are gone from the trees the hawk can't sneak up on the birds as easily.  And yet, a good many of the regulars are gone.  Among those who stayed are the chickadees, the tufted titmice, and my favorite, the juncos, who only grace us with their delightful presence in the Winter months.  They are such sweet natured little guys and I just love their voicesl.  The blue jays have dwindled in numbers (thank goodness)  but some of them have a real thing for the leftover dry cat food, and I doubt they will ever leave as long as it remains on the menu.  I try to remember to bring the bowl in as soon as Remy (aka. the Stray Gourmet) is finished eating, but those jays are SO FAST that they usually beat me to it anyway!!

It's a lot of  fun to keep an eye on the goose feeder from dusk until bedtime because you never know who will show up or in what order!  The main characters these nights are the opossums, skunks and a couple of huge homegrown (on all that goose chow) raccoons. I like to sit in my easy chair in front of the slider door (with a birds eye view of the goings on) and either read or crochet.  Some nights, each time I look up somebody different will be chowing down, as if they have a line formed somewhere just off stage, patiently waiting their turn.  Other times somebody (usually the raccoons) will hog the feeder and I wonder if they will EVER leave! 

Just the other night I watched as two ravenous raccoons shoveled it down.  When one of them finally had his fill, he climbed up to the heated water pan and had a drink.  But then, he washed his little front paws, rubbing them together briskly just like we do, before he left to find his partner in crime who had wandered off a few minutes earlier.  It was adorable!!  I never caught one doing that before and was so glad I happened to look up at just the right moment.

A few nights ago I saw another unusual sight. Two raccoons AND a skunk all eating at the goose feeder at the same time. I am happy to report that the skunk was VERY well behaved and kept his tail down the entire time, and the raccoons hardly took notice of the little stinker at all!!

Sometimes my geese will chase the intruders away by hissing loudly and nipping at them, yet at others they will form a single file line and just look on longingly and allow whoever to continue eating their food.  I feel sorry for them, and keep telling them it's theirs and they can share or chase away anyone they choose.  But they have to fight for themselves, I'm not going to do it for them. Since its pretty much the same players on a regular basis, I would love to know how they decide to handle the situation; who gets to eat today and who will be run off. My absolute favorite though is when I see any of  my woodland neighbors and one or more of  my geese peacefully sharing the food together.  That is most heartwarming!!!

The bear hasn't attacked the feeders in quite some time now.  I don't know if he is hibernating at last or if it's all the plastic bottles filled with moth balls that is keeping him away.  But either way at least he isn't reeking any more havoc out there!

So I guess that is about it. Our visitors might be a little on the light side just now, but I will keep a sharp eye out and report any interesting events as they occur. In the meantime, I am happy to say all is well on this my very own little Nature preserve

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Hard to believe that the official start of Winter begins just one week from today (at 6:38pm EST on 12/21 to be exact)! So I thought that if I am to show off any of my Fall doilies at all, it's pretty much now or never!

I really have very few of them that are specific to Fall, for although Spring, Summer and Winter are all VERY WELL represented in crochet doily patterns, I never seem able to find many that do justice to glorious Autumn.  Here is a beauty called Fall Leaves. 

One of my favorites is this Wheat Doily done in #30, a very thin, delicate thread that makes it look as wispy as the genuine thing. It reminds me of the dainty crops of assorted grains that dot the farmer's fields in the Fall. I love to watch as the wind swirls the plants around as it frolics merrily in amongst them.  How I would adore dancing along too, but somehow I don't think a farmer would exactly share my enthusiasm!!!   

I wasn't quite happy with this Leaf and Acorn Doily pattern as written because I thought the acorns were a little too thin and pointy for my taste, so I played around with it a little (okay...a lot!).  Also, I could only find brown threads two sizes too large, so I had to re-configure the connecting row to return to the pattern specifications.  Not being mathematical by nature, I had a rough time of it, but I think it came out nicely in the end, and I DO like MY acorns much better than theirs, so it was well worth the added effort!

And speaking of acorns, this little guy is busily 'squirreling' his away for Winter.  This pattern was originally designed to be a bookmark, but at 6" x 10" I thought I would rather turn mine into a small wall hanging!  Boy the designer must REALLY have some huge volumes to need a bookmark of  those proportions!!!!

This Wild Grapes Doily is gorgeous, but I found it quite difficult and time-consuming!  Far too many popcorn stitches and WAY too much counting!   My daughter asked me to make her one too, but I think I'll just leave her THIS one in my will!!!!  Sorry Julie, maybe we could find a more user-friendly pattern you could be happy with instead?

This Fall I participated in a Holiday exchange with my Thread Addicts crochet group and this is what I came up with for my partner. There are so many different holidays one can celebrate at this season of the year.  The biggest, of course, is the christian Christmas, but there is also Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Pagan tradition, Winter Solstice and any variation therein.  I had a hard time deciding what to make.  So I settled on a Celebration of  the Winter to come!  And this is what the package contained.

I chose the Sunburst Doily to acknowledge the gradual return of the sun which begins just after the longest Solstice night. Anyway who can't use a little additional sunshine in the Winter when the days are so very short! 

This Pine Tree Doily honors the wonderful pines that will brighten our long Winter months ahead with their various shades of delightful green in an otherwise drab, brown world.  Besides, I thought it was cool that  the motifs for the pine tree look like so many Jewish Stars of David. 

So I will end by wishing  you all a happy ending to a magnificent Fall, now that Old Man Winter is literally breathing his icy winds down our backs.  And if all the flurries we have experienced every day for about a week now, and the incredible cold of the last few days are any indication, he's got some mighty big plans up HIS sleeve!!!  I can hardly wait!!!!!