Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunshine Makes A Difference!

Days of unpleasant weather were followed by several last week when the weather couldn't seem to make up its mind.
'Raw" and "chilly" were fitting descriptive words.
On Sunday we had sunshine and skies so blue it almost hurt to gaze upon them with our 
gloom-adjusted eyes.
After lunch I put on my stout shoes and had a good outdoor walk-about.
I am delighted to find signs of life on this rosebush. 
It is the one I transplanted from the corner near the south porch last spring.
It was so slow to break dormancy last year that I feared it had winter-killed.
Now, in its new spot by the timber retaining wall near the workshop, so soon after cold and snow, it has sent out new leaves.

A clump of yarrow must have been reviving under the snow.
I don't know if this is one I raised from seed or ordered from a nursery catalog.

Nepeta, moved from my former garden.

Charlie-Cat, strolling with me, has discovered the patch of freshly emerged catnip.

Some of these iris came from our interim property--the Bedfrod stone house which we renovated and sold.  Other iris were divided from some at our daughter's home. They were all thrust rather hastily into a rough plot of ground partway down the lane.
Weeds flourished around them in the very hot wet summer of 2015.
I hope I can find the gumption to clear the worst of the weeds and put down a barrier of mulch.

Dandelions are opening their bright blooms in the pasture and along the verge of the lane.

Willis followed me along the lane, but detoured back toward the house while I went out along the road.

Wild daffodils near the mailbox at the end of the lane.
I brought in a handful of them last week, picked while a spatter of rain fell.
I brought them, cool and sweet, to put in a vase on the kitchen table.
I was able to enjoy them for two days before Mima-cat discovered them and began to pull them, one by one, from the vase.
I picked a fresh bunch today.

Walking in our field--where Jimmy has done some earth-moving to discourage this bit of Spruce Pine Creek from invading the corn ground.

I didn't notice minnows in this small clear pond--perhaps they are down in the gravelly bottom where it is warmer.

Looking east [maybe south east?] up the valley. 
The farm at the end of the road belongs to our Amish neighbors.
The nearer buildings are empty, having absentee 'English' owners who bought the Amish property a year before we acquired ours.

Jim climbed out one of the upstairs hallway windows to remove this paper wasp nest that was tucked under the eaves.
The wasps [or are they hornets?] were something of a menace last summer as they could squeeze between the window frame and the screens and invade the bedrooms.
I think Jim spray-bombed the nest at some point, but decided to remove it in case it should attract new occupants. 

The base of the nest.

The papery pockets which I assume held developing wasps.
By the time I returned from my walk all these fragile fragments had been swept off by the wind.

Looking into the top of a sycamore near the creek.

Early last week a good friend in Vermont who is sorting vintage family photos contacted me to ask if I might do some research on the background of her late mother-in-law.
Some folks do crosswords, some labor over jigsaw puzzles--I enjoy the stimulation of digging for family roots.
I spent quite a few hours at my desk while the weather sulked and raged outside--deciphering faded handwriting on census forms, birth and death certificates, paging through the listings of interments in rural cemeteries of upstate New York.
I pondered, scrawled names and dates in a yellow notebook, explored google maps.
I squinted at the digitized columns of newspapers which first saw the light in the late 1800's.
As I followed family members into the 20th century I took time to glance at advertisements, to read the news notes from the little hamlets where my own folks had lived on the other side of the mountain.
There are the "Yes!' moments when relationships are made clear, the delight when a midnight 'hunch' pays off.
There is also the frustration when the expected information on a marriage isn't part of the online record--when a birth certificate hasn't been completed to give a mother's maiden name.
When I work on a genealogy project, modest as my resources are, I feel that I have become a small part of those now distant lives and situations.
These long-dead individuals parade through my over-active brain at 2 A.M. 
I become obsessed with learning their details.

I had to put the project aside on Friday and turn to other things.
I hope sometime this week to organize my findings into a 'worksheet' which I can share with my friends. We never find all the information we would like to have. 

Today I finished the small baby quilt which has been a work in progress for several weeks.
I must remember to take a photo before I fold it into a gift bag.

It is after 11 P.M. now. 
I have heaved chunks of wood into the fire, rescued the vase of daffodils from Mima-cat who was intending to make salad of them.

It is quiet tonight; no lashing wind such as roared through the treetops last night.
The thermometer outside the kitchen window stands at 36 F.
I have turned the calendar page to March, only half an hour ahead of reality.
Time to trudge up the stairs to bed---hopefully-- to sleep.


  1. So nice to see those early signs of spring. I am interested in ancestry, too. Searching for our roots tells us so much about who we are and how far we have come. I'd love to see the baby quilt. Hope the weather stays mild for you. x Karen

    1. Karen; I will have a photo of the baby quilt!
      I find genealogy fascinating, even when the family I'm researching is not my own. I am by no means a professional, although I am careful to use a variety of sources for fact checking. Friends ask if I will do it as a favor and I consider it good mental exercise to look for clues.

  2. How I am with you on the effect that delving into family history has on a brain - it is like a maze and you are determined to get to the nugget of gold in the middle. How frustrating it can be when vital links are left out of paperwork though, or that paperwork just doesn't seem to exist. I haven't looked at my research for a couple of years now apart from a quick dip in to check out someone claiming kin (and it would appear he wasn't).

    We had our one day of Sunshine last Wednesday. Back to heavy rain today with possible snow towards the end of the week . . .

    1. Jennie; We have also had a return to chilly temps and rain.
      Re 'vital links'--isn't it odd that keepers of vital stats have been so careless over the years, not filling in a 'certificate' completely. I've found many missing a woman's maiden name, names of parents not added in the proper spaces, mis-spellings, even a few undated.

  3. Wasps nests are a thing of great beauty but not the most peaceful critters to share a house with. My roots are all horribly tangled with most of my ancestors sharing the same few first names and another family with the same surname living in the same area. Fortunately I have a cousin who concerns herself with these matters, allowing me to sleep at night without being worried by hunches.

    1. John; Wasps are ornery by nature and it takes so little to irritate one who has gotten into our space. I learned [painfully] several years ago that if one is going to crush the things there needs to be something more substantial that a handkerchief between wasp and fingers!
      Your family roots would compare to those of my husband--an intricate web of folks who populated a North Carolina county back in the 1800,s--married cousins and second cousins, and fancied the names Richard, John, James and William for generations of males with Mary and Elizabeth for the women.
      I would have been permanently 'stuck' if not for the meticulous research of Jim's 'cousin' who unraveled the tangles.

  4. Glad to see spring is starting to burst forth for you.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I think spring here is reluctant to 'burst forth'---we've seen the odd hint or two, then we sink back into nights that hover around freezing. Come to think of it--that really is how spring usually arrives--fits and starts!

  5. How lovely to know that Spring has Sprung in your neighborhood. There is little to indicate spring here in southwestern Vermont although the days are noticeably longer, the ice is 'out' on our little pond and the sap is running. So In retrospect. those are pretty strong indicators. Oh, and the Peregrine pair are hanging out on their eyrie. Can't wait for the chicks. You photo of the Sycamore makes me smile. We have planted several out in our back pasture where the water bubbles out of the ground.

    1. Mundi; We are so envious of New England's maple sugar season! We've learned that a few people in the nearby Mennonite community 'tap', but it is uncommon to have the right combination of sunny days and frosty nights.
      Having a peregrine pair close enough to observe would be fascinating.
      I don't recall seeing Sycamores prior to living in Kentucky--we had to ask someone what they were, as well as persimmon trees--black walnut proliferates here--for some reason, I like to know the names of trees, flowers, birds around me.

    2. The Sycamore is definitely native to this neck of the woods. We have several growing along side of the brook that runs through our lower meadow. If you recall Wassick's Tire Store in Bennington you may also recall that there is an enormous shade tree in it's side yard. It is a Sycamore, and I bet it is well over 150 years. When I venture over to the Cambridge, NY area I am always struck by the groves one Sycamores that grow along side of rivers and creeks.

    3. Mundi; We moved from Vermont to Wyoming in 1998. I was never greatly familiar with southern VT although Jim had/has relatives there. A younger generation lived for a time in the Cambridge/Greenwich, NY area. I wonder if sycamores are less widespread in New England and upstate NY than they are here [?] I feel rather sure there were none growing on my Grampa Mac's farm--the woodland with which I was most familiar. I think I would have noticed the distinctive 'bobbles' on the bare trees or the patchy bark.
      I will ask Jim if he has any recollection of the tire store and its massive tree. How interesting!

  6. The sun and the bright blue sky can make all the difference. Paper wasps make such interesting nests, but I have to carry an Epy pen because I'm allergic.
    Looks like spring is starting to come in your neck of the woods.
    I need to get going on my genealogical research too.

    1. Janet; We've know several people for whom a wasp or bee sting can be life-threatening--I've been stung only a few times and it hurts, but doesn't make me ill. [Mostly I react with anger at the thing which inflicts pain!]
      Spring--it is always the reluctant season.

  7. How interesting about the wasps nest. In Thailand we saw them for sale. Apparently, wasps are very territorial and if they see a nest, they will not intrude on the colony, so people were buying them to hang at their homes. My neighbour here in England has a cloth one, inflated with air, for the same purpose.

    1. Kath; If one can find an empty paper wasp nest that can be removed from its host surface without damage they are intriguing. My daughter and I brought in a perfect one years ago that had been suspended from a low, slender tree branch. We simply snipped the branch a few inches either side of the nest.
      I have wondered if the 'inhabitants' can over-winter if their 'home' isn't disturbed.
      An inflatable fabric nest would be a novelty, for sure!