An Unexpected Gift

As most people know Charlie is a church pianist/organist and I, Jo, am a church choir director.

An intricate tribute to music we all love.
Both pieces are cross-stitched and straight stitched.

A few Sundays ago a couple that sits in the back of the church asked us to come out to their car because they had something for us.  I figured it was something to eat because people are always giving Charlie food.

Both pieces had been professionally mounted behind glass and framed.

Instead we were presented two beautifully cross-stitched hymns which had been framed. This intricate work was created by the wife and extolled by a very proud-of-his-spouse husband.

Quickly hung to protect the art from getting damaged.

We are so delighted with this gift that I have made a place for it on the wall of the conservatory so we and everyone else can see it often.

We spend a lot of time in the conservatory and will see these pictures daily.

In order to hang the new pieces I moved the red flower print into the conservatory bathroom and now the chart has nowhere to  go.

Do you move your artwork around?


Yard Carts

We have 2 yard carts for hauling things at the back of the mower around the yard.

We’ve been storing the yard carts behind the Cottage. The door and windows leaning on them have been sold on Craigslist.

Unfortunately the red one has started to rust so I’m planning to list it on Craigslist for someone who can reinforce the bed of the cart.

The red cart is still in good enough shape to be useful.

We’ve decided to store the black cart near the shed instead of behind the Cottage.

The space behind the shed is getting cleared up from clutter and being used as a storage area.
The cart is backed into the area behind the shed and not visible from the house.

Actually we keep the mower there too so it’s the obvious storage spot.

We might transform the cart into a little chariot for fun rides around the yard.

It is easily hauled around the yard with our tractor mower.

Do you have yard machinery to help with your chores?

We Saw the Eclipse

Charlie and I traveled to South Carolina from Maryland to see the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017.

We saw the eclipse in Lexington, South Carolina, marked by the black star.

Our original plan was to head to McClellanville on the coast of South Carolina.  Unfortunately the weather forecast thunder storms for the entire afternoon so we were afraid we’d miss the main event so we headed southwest to Lexington, South Carolina.

We had our choice of seats in Blowfish Stadium.

Specifically we went to Blowfish Stadium on the centerline of totality (1200 yards from the centerline) where the entry was free. They handed us souvenir tickets and free eclipse glasses.

Charlie was prepared with his eclipse glasses.

We were there with like-minded people from all over the world: Canada, Guatemala, England, Australia, etc.

Fortunately the clouds moved out.

We were teased with a little cloud cover but during the totality the sky was clear.

Every image is exciting.

The moon was a black disc and the sun was only corona.

It looked just like this.

It lasted 2 minutes and 36 seconds.  I could have watched longer. We could see stars.

The only light during totality were clouds on the distant horizon.

I was mesmerized by the eclipse. The difference between seeing the eclipse personally and seeing it on video is about like seeing fireworks in person and watching them on TV, nice but not the same.

Eclipse Enterprise

After the eclipse we stopped at Starbucks before starting our return drive to Maryland which ended up taking almost 12 hours.  Happy to be home.

What was your eclipse experience?  Will you try to see the next one in April, 2024?

Easy Peach Treat

Charlie gets crates of peaches in summer.

We get peaches by the peck in August.

Some he peels and freezes.

Grilled peaches.

Recently he cut about a dozen peaches in half and put them on the grill with olive oil and brown sugar.

The perfect end to a summer dinner or as a side dish with chicken.

He closes the lid on the grill and cooks them until golden brown.

The juice is syrupy and flavorful.

They’re delicious plain or with ice cream or yogurt.

What’s your favorite food to grill?

Another Sunflower Outing

A few weeks ago Sug and I traveled to The Sunflower Garden to see their flowers. It was still a little early in the season.

These sunflowers are about 6 feet tall.

This past weekend we were on the road again to visit McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area. It’s always open, very low key, and free.  There’s a haphazard parking area where there were at least 2 dozen vehicles parked.

The sunflower sign is clear. Not sure whether the other sign says “No Dumping” or “No Dummies”.

We walked up a make-shift road toward the direction other people were going when we finally came across an announcement board with a sign pointing to the sunflower fields.

The sign empowered me to nab poachers — actually hunting is allowed but picking sunflowers is not.

We were also cautioned to be on the lookout for poachers.

The pale green area behind the flowers is algae-covered swamp.

We walked past a swampy marsh bordered with large white hibiscus.

Sunflowers as far as the eye can see.

We finally arrived at the sunflower fields — thirty acres of sunflowers.

A few paths lead through the sunflower fields.

They’re grown to attract mourning doves which will eventually be hunted by bird hunters.

Many ages and nations were represented in the fields.

The fields were very popular with couples, families, photographers, etc.

Rose mallow hibiscus.

The sunflowers at the McKee-Beshers WMA are definitely worth the ride from the Baltimore-Washington area. It might even be better at sunrise or sunset.

What’s a favorite outing in your neighborhood?

Notes from 101 in 1001 #4 – #22

I love waterfalls.

Cunningham Falls in Maryland

Two years ago I thought we were on our way to visit Cunningham Falls in central Maryland.

Cunningham Falls in Maryland on the State Park website.
Cunningham Falls as Charlie and I saw it.

We never made it.  It was on my 3rd 101 in 1001 and is now on its 4th iteration.

An hour’s drive to a Maryland state park on a beautiful day — who could ask for more?

We left home bright and early Tuesday morning and drove for an hour to Thurmont, Maryland.

The Catoctin Mountains

The entry fee is $3 per person. I wanted to get a lifetime Senior Pass for $10 but they were out of them.  I also asked for a printed map even though I could have printed one from the internet site.

There is a lovely swimming area at Cunningham Falls State Park.

The park is nearly empty at 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday in August.

The beginning of the trail looks harmless.

We overheard a group of co-eds asking a park ranger if there was more than one falls.  He said no. An enlightening forewarning.

Map of Cunningham Falls Trails
Sign to the lower trail which is blazed with red marks on trees and rocks.

We hiked up the “Lower Trail” to the falls and were surprised to find an observation deck at the end of the trail from which the falls were barely visible.

From the observation deck the falls are inconsequential.

The sparkling stream at the bottom of the falls flowed easily down the hill. After a half hour or so we hiked back on the longer and much more rigorous cliff trail.

The cliff trail is blazed with yellow marks.
The return trail was uphill and winding.

I left the park hoping to tick a couple more stops off my list before the day was done. More on that later.

Are you more inclined toward the ocean or the mountains?

Sunflowers Near the House

As much as I love my sunflowers I would not plant them near the house again.

A wall of sunflowers attracts bees and gold finches.

Initially they grew straight and tall.

The sunflowers are planted between the driveway and the kitchen wall.

I loved seeing them when I drove up to the house.  They’re so cheery.

A bee is on the brown center of the sunflower.

The bees, too, were enjoying harvesting nectar from the tiny florets in the center of the flower.

The bee in this picture is in the upper left quadrant of the sunflower center. These are all “Lemon Queen” sunflowers but the centers are often various shades ranging from light to dark.

Bees don’t care how close you get to take their picture. Their little legs glow golden with pollen.

Can you spot the goldfinch in the center of the photo?

On the other hand, goldfinches are skittish when they see any human movement.

I don’t seem to frighten the finch if I move slowly inside the house.

They also are on a harvesting mission.

This photo is looking through my screened kitchen window at a goldfinch harvesting the seeds from a sunflower.

These birds, who are distinctively yellow and black inflight, are well-hidden as they sit on the head of a sunflower and pluck its seeds.

It looks like the photo is sideways but in fact the sunflowers are lying in the driveway.

Unfortunately we’ve had some drenching rainstorms which have beaten down the top-heavy flowers.

I helped the sunflowers to remain upright by tying them to tomato cages.

After they’ve been knocked over they’re difficult to reinstate in the vertical position without outside help.

A row of sunflowers in 2014 near the vegetable garden.

Bottom line, next year we’ll grow sunflowers near the vegetable garden but not up near the house.

What’s your favorite up-close-and-personal bird?