Tag Archive: spring


How to Have a Big Year

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This past week, I noticed a lot of stuff as I drove or walked around our community.

The town accountant readied his boat for a cruise or perhaps some fishing on April 16th. Yep, he probably deserves a break right about now.

Look, even the tulips are getting in the act.

Look, even the tulips are getting in the act.

As I walked Lady around, I noticed all of the beautiful spring flowers and flowering bushes- daffodils, narcissus, crocus, blue star, and forsythia – in bloom right now. In my own garden I have a new narcissus I am pretty sure I did not plant. I love those surprise volunteers.

Last week, I came home after a night of work only to hear the frogs from the nearby pond. It is about a quarter mile from my house as the crow flies. But the frogs were making a racket that made me think about opening the window so I could fall asleep to that sound.

But that might not have been the best sound. Hearing the birds make a racket might have been the best sound. I could pick out the red wing black birds and the bird that makes a sound like a Star Wars fighter plane. I am seeing blue jays and cardinals. Occasionally, I hear a wood pecker working on a tree but I haven’t seen one yet.

Birding is a different type of sport. It becomes more about making the impossible sighting, the wondrous vagrant, the birds sent off course by storms and high winds. I know parents of college friends who go to Texas for the winter not to winter but to work at a bird sanctuary. Walking into the woods with Neil Case is never a straight forward hike, you are going to see things.

While I enjoy watching the birds that come to our feeders, I never knew or imagined that there was such a thing in the birding world as a Big Year. This is when bird watching enthusiasts take a calendar year from January 1 till December 31 to see as many birds as you possibly can. The record is over 700 species seen in a one year period.

The Big Year PosterI became interested in finding all of this stuff out when the kids turned on this movie, The Big Year (2011) one night during spring break. Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson are three men who decide to do a Big Year in the same calendar year. Martin and Wilson are wealthy businessmen while Black is a working stiff getting over his divorce.

The Black character does everything he can, including racking up several credit cards to the limit, to do this Big Year thing which means a lot of traveling across the United States and Canada in order to see over 700 varieties of birds from North America and others that get blown off course. This includes Alaska, Florida, Texas, boat tours on the Pacific, and Colorado. They will miss work, spouses, and the little things to make this dream of seeing every possible species come true.

I found this movie worthwhile although slowly paced at times. It is a movie meant for adults, context-wise, but my ten-year-old could watch it for the most part. As we watched this movie while at my parents’ house, I wondered if my dad had ever seen it or if he would watch it. There were some exciting moments of almost making the plane and almost catching sight of a bird but no explosions or gun fights.

Perhaps Dad would have just changed the channel if he saw this movie coming on.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

This past weekend I put out the wind chimes out on my porch. When the winter winds are finished, I usually put them out and finally it seems the winter winds are done.

 

Image by nasir khan

Image by nasir khan

While walking yesterday, I noticed a broken robin blue egg shell on the sidewalk. Such a pretty color and that is a sure sign that spring is here to stay since the Robins are starting to have babies. Finally, the husband showed me a picture he had taken this morning of goslings in the water being protected by the parents.

 

Finally, spring is here. But then news reports talk about 80 degree weather coming. We will get our one week of spring before it hits summer. So this week, I am hitting the garden and getting the mulch and weeds out as quick as possible. Wasn’t it just two weeks ago snow was flying?

 

Change is a hard thing for us humans. We like our routines, and that some people are always going to be there for us. When those routines are upset, we are off kilter until we get use to the new routine.

 

I think about this when I hear people talk about their new diet or exercise routine. I have a friend who recently quit smoking and that is one difficult habit to give up. But I know in the long run she will be happier for it.

 

I am on the change kick not just because of the season but because of some of the movies we have seen recently. Over the weekend, the family went to see The Croods at the theater. Probably its last week but we were not in the mood for death and destruction.

 

It is a tale about a stone age family whose life is about to change as their world goes through land mass upheaval. Talk about having your routine upset.

 

Image from Movies4Kids.wordpress.com

Image from Movies4Kids.wordpress.com

The Croods think they are the last of the humans until they meet Guy. Guy agrees to help the family find a safe place after their cave is destroyed by falling boulders.

 

It is fun, action packed, and has many interesting creatures. But what struck me was the scene in which it is explained how new ideas are frowned upon because that can get you killed. Curiosity can get you killed. Stick with the old ways that you know and hide in a cave when danger comes around.

 

It seemed to me that this theme was also central to Frankenweenie and ParaNorman. Stick with the old ideas, beat out or destroy anything that is different. New ideas or discoveries are bad.

 

All movies are about the journey a person or a group of people take during a particular episode of life. Most of the time, it is an episode that changes or transforms us or allows us to deal with life as it is right at that moment.

 

Sometimes, the journey is about accepting a new idea or being open to the wonders of the world without falling prey to the dangerous parts. That might be the hardest one of all. It will not always be successful but I can say that you will not fail to learn something.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Resurgence

 

 

Spring has come early to our corner of the world.

 

The tulips are brilliant.

 

Clematis vines are six inches long, peony plants are a foot high.

 

 

Pansies in bloom.

 

Wild Violets going crazy.

 

Even my neighbor's flowering tree is going at it.

 

But, as always, there is a downside to all of this great warmth and beautiful sights.

The return of the Fruit Fly.

 

These little flies come along and take over the kitchen. If you do nothing, they multiply fast. I hate having fifty or more buzzing around my head.

These things live for a day or so and must get a lot of stuff done. However, I have a solution that works for me. It involves a little red wine  or white wine and red kool-aid as well as some dish-washing liquid. I do not know why they love red wine but the husband has to be careful with open bottles.

The trap.

 

Now we wait. It takes a while for one, then another, then another to gather on the bowl, take a drink and realize they cannot get up. Perhaps they are too drunk to fly and fall in, perhaps the dish soap make their little legs stuck.

 

See those black dots? Those are the fallen.

 

Before you know it the dish will have 20, 30 40 fruit flies in it. The dish will be disgusting and I will clean it out. Then I will set it up all over again.

How do you get rid of fruit flies?

 

 

Clearing Out for Spring

Are you getting itchy?

 

All of this nice weather makes me want to get out to the garden, clear off the mulch and dead plants from last fall, and get ready for spring.

 

So that is what I did Sunday. People were coming to take raspberry canes from a different flower bed so I worked up front until they arrived.

So many plants are making their way.

 

The tulips are quite high.

 

The hollyhocks are making an appearance.

 

The sedum is in a tightly knitted group, making me wonder if I should not do a little separating.

And there are a few things to look forward to seeing.

Hello, foxglove. Never had one of these before.

 

 

And then there is this plant. I am still not sure what it is although my guess would be grape hyacinth. Hopefully the picture is here although it was not on my preview.

I am trying to leave some of the mulch just in case another nasty ole freeze comes out way. But let me tell you, that is really hard to do. Instead, I plan to plant scarlet runner and black-eyed susan vine on one section, and hyacinth bean goes to another place. While I am at it, perhaps I will throw down some poppy seeds.

How are you getting at spring gardening chores?

  Related Posts:

         Bird and Flowers in the Garden

         Surprises in the Garden

         Getting the Impatiens Planted

The Look of Spring…

Spring is here.

How do I know?

The Forsythia bush is in bloom.

Forsythia Bush

 

I love that shot of yellow that lets you know the warmer weather is on its way.

I'm Ready for My Close-up.

Some people trim up their Forsythia bush to make it look nice and neat. One of my neighbors made it look like a tree. While I normally hate shaped bushes, this one is pretty nice. It fits with the formal Georgian style home.

The shaped version of Forsythia

There are some other signs that spring is really here. One of my neighbors planted their yellow daffodils against their red brick home and edged the bed with more bricks.

Parsonage daffodils

In my garden I managed to put last years pansies right in the middle of the tulips. Considering they like shade, this might not be that big of a problem.

Yellow Pansies about to bloom

Last but not least are pictures of my peonies emerging. This first picture is of one patch I was able to clear away last years stems before the big storm Sunday night. These guys are standing tall, nestled between star of Bethlehem on the left and tiger lilies on the right. The peonies will keep the rose bush’s feet cooler in the summer.

The red stems are the peony sprouts

I didn’t have time Sunday to clear off the stems from this other bush. See how my laziness has affected the look of the stems. That has been corrected and we are one good rain storm from have great stems.

Old stems in need of removal

Hollyhock to the left and Spider Wort to the right. I like to save some of these removal chores for the spring because it forces me out of the house after a long winter to get it done. Plus, I like leaving the stems for possible mulch and seepage of nutrients to the ground. Tomorrow, I will put in the tomato cages in the center of the peony plants to give them structure and the ability to stand when big rains make them fall with the weight of the flower heads.

How is spring looking in your area?

Moving from Winter to Spring

Blizzard of 2011

 Just  a few weeks ago we were under piles of snow. The blizzard of February 2011 actually kept me home from work for one day. Back then it seemed as if there would always be nothing but snow. Even my bouncing dog seems dwarfed by the snow. However, it is a month later and look at what I found in my front garden that receives full sun.

Tiger Lilies Sprouting

That is the start of my Tiger Lilies. I did some shifting of  plants in an effort to create a more rounded formation last fall. After I finished digging and moving plants and replaced the dirt, I had the husband cover the entire bed with compost and leaves from the yard.  And then came the cold and snow and more covering till the warm weather has melted most of the snow away.

Mums starting to sprout

I started looking around the rest of the garden, hoping that something else might be coming up, that signs of spring were being repeated. That is when I noticed the tiny mum sprouts hidden in the dead branches of last year’s plant.  This sighting got my very excited but I need to let the compost rest for another two weeks at least. I need to await the crocus that have not yet started sprouting.

The Shade garden in the morning

 My shade garden in the back looks bare right now. The only green is vegetation of the dianthus. I did lift compost here and there to see if there would be any crocus popping out. But the answer to that is “no, not yet.” Patience, we gardeners must practice patience. We know change is on the horizon.

Shade garden, May 2010

In only two months that same garden will look like this. Pansies, impatiens, snapdragons, star of Bethlehem, columbine, dianthus and peonies will all abound in beautiful blooms. I just have to remember to leave the compost for two more weeks, let the final frosts pass and then I can remove the old compost, put in the new plants and enjoy for the rest of the warm months.

What does your garden look like?

You eat that much?

Picture by Xenia

Today is Valentine’s Day and you have made the terrible realization that spring is not too far away. March 21 is just 35 days away. That means Spring and the clothing which is lighter and prettier and telling of rolls of fat is 35 days away.

“‘Noooooooooooooooo” is the collective scream being heard across the snow belt despite the joy of warmer weather. How does this happen? Where does all of this fat come from.

You know the answer.

Food.

Food loaded with fats and sugars and sodas that have nothing nutritional to give.

I love it, can’t get enough of it. When I am having a bad day, the thought of bread pudding cheers me right up. Chocolate cake, brownies with caramel swirls in it or even a simple frosted cupcake with a raspberry on top can do the same.

When it is my turn to make the Sunday Dinner, I go for chicken in cream sauces or crab cakes.  I like trying new recipes for soups, main dishes and desserts. All of which explains the extra weight I carry. 

That is why I put myself on a diet aimed at improving all-around health along the threat of diabetes. It runs in my family like the Mississippi during a flood. There are days that I feel like a ticking time bomb just waiting for my sugar numbers to explode and make my life miserable.

Today, I am sharing that diet that has helped me drop 30 pounds but be warned. This works for me and the condition I know I am going to have no matter how hard I try. My mother is a skinny woman and she has diabetes. I am 25 pounds over my highest allowed weight (by the insurance company’s charts) and despite making some great improvements, that chronic illness is headed my way.

What I have worked to do is make a diet that is tasty and not depriving me of anything. I also make sure to have plenty of liquid throughout the day.

 

Morning

First thing: 16 oz of water

Breakfast: 2 fried or scrambled eggs, slice of bread or malt-o-meal, 12-16 oz. green tea

Mid Morning: 12-16 oz coffee, 1 serving of a sweet cookie or a sweet roll)

 

 

 

Picture by Johnninbkk

Afternoon:

Lunch: Sandwich or soup, starch (bread, chips or carrot sticks), fruit, 12-16 oz water

Mid-afternoon: 12-16 oz. coffee, 2 small pieces of candy (pic-a-snack or 2 Dove squares)

After work: Protein (hard-boiled egg or peanut butter), 12-6 oz tea

Evening:

Supper: Protein, starch, veggie, salad, 12-16 oz drink

 

 

 

Picture by Karpati

The other important factor:

You have to get up and move. I walk about 20 -30 minutes a day with the dog, every day. EVERY DAY. I also try to do a 20-minute workout in the morning. I am getting a little anxious and want changes to happen quicker.

This is what works for me. Now tell me what has worked for you. Perhaps we can trade secrets that actually work.

Signs of Spring

What was your first sign of spring?

For me it was seeing the tips of my Tiger Lilies coming out of the ground.

Then I looked over and saw green leaves popping out where my hardy mum are located. That is when I got excited. So I lifted up some of the compost that rests over the Tulip bed. Oh Yeah! They were coming up, too. I placed the compost back over the tender sprouts and skipped into the house. My plants are coming back and spring is almost here. This past Friday I was running around without my coat, just in my shirt sleeves.

Because I cannot really do anything in the garden, I get antsy. I want to dig and remove compost and put in new mulch. But it is not time yet. There are no plants at the garden centers yet and there’s still a danger of frost. I suspect next week anxiety will get the better of me and I will be out there with a rake.

The other signs have slowly made their appearance as well. Last week I heard Redwing black birds singing. Yesterday, I heard to shrill call of the woodpecker.

Better yet, our kids are running outside to play. Granted they are doing a lot of gun games that I do not like. But the kids are also skate boarding and riding bike. My daughter and I rode our bikes over to Casey’s to put air in my tires.

Now for the days that it gets too cold or too rainy to be out, I have some great movie picks. One of my favorites is Enchanted April (1992) starring Miranda Richardson and Josie Lawrence as two English women who rent an Italian Villa for the month of April to escape the rain.

Their housemates include Joan Plowwright, an older woman whose family were friendly with many of the literati; and Polly Walker, a socialite seeking solitude from the world and her broken heart. The beauty of the Italian countryside is transforming for the characters and for the viewers. This movie is best suited for older teens and adults in regards to context rather than anything particularly objectionable.

Two other more recent movies that have great scenery is Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) and A Good Year (2006). These adult treats feature Italy and Provence, respectively, and makes one yearn to have that ease, that comfort, that lifestyle of being totally completely happy while living on an estate. Plus, I like watching Diane Lane and Russell Crowe take on roles that are not as intense as their normal parts.

A movie with lots of greenery that is more suitable for children is The Secret Garden (1993). The story is about a young girl brought to Yorkshire, England from India after the death of her neglectful parents. Mary is sullen and angry but kind housemaid, Martha. gives her a jump rope and shoos her outside. Mary discovers a garden that has been locked up and neglected by her uncle.

With the help of Dickon, Martha’s brother, they bring the garden back to life. That same magic is used on Mary’s cousin, Colin.

Another good choice for kids is Over The Hedge (2006) which stars Bruce Willis as a racoon who has to pay back the Bear his winter stash of food. His plan involves using other woodland animals to get it. Unfortunately these animals have discovered a housing development in the place of half of their woods. And not all humans like furry forest animals.

My kids end up laughing and having a good time, even when some of the action sequences get a little hairier than I would like. However, even I can laugh when the villains get their due.

Until next week, see you in the movie aisle.

Let the world, or at least St. Anne, know your family’s recent selection by dropping a line to momgoestothemovies@sbcglobal.net. You can also ‘friend’ me on Facebook.