Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mountain Laurel and Ticks

Today we braved our Field of Ticks to see if the Mountain Laurel was blooming and were greatly rewarded with mounds of the delicate sweet blossoms. We avoid this area of the property much of the spring and summer as we have to wade through a lot of underbrush to get there and come out crawling with little passengers. But to see the little star-shaped blossoms exuberantly blooming over quite a large area is worth the chore of tick picking later!

Last time we were up there, which is at a point of the South River, two canoes filled with adults and children, most of them Asian and one lady wearing one of those pointy straw hats, drifted by, pulled over a ways down on the opposite shore, and the passengers disembarked and carried their canoes off through the woods. We exchanged pleasantries, but I could see Lily literally quivering with desire to ask who they were, where their country of origin was, etc. (She wants to be a social worker when she grows up, saying this is the perfect job for her because she can ask all the nosy questions she wants and see inside other peoples' houses LOL!). This is our mystery for the month and we hope to see them again and learn more about our heretofore unknown neighbors.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A last look

Today was long. Back to the mechanic for yet another repair on the car, so we walked down the road to the cemetery at the girls' request, as we did last time. I was taken with these tree-trunk tombstones. Lily said they must have been nature lovers like us. The one on the right is for a wife, Carrie, who was born in 1987 and died in 1913 - 16-year-old bride.

We were very moved by this grave of a young mother, who is obviously still very much loved and missed. I am thankful the kids who vandalized our house and who I believe live in the shadow of this cemetery, have not destroyed or removed the sweet momentos left for loved ones. One grave for a 19-year-old young man who died in 1992 had a little frog statue on top and a silver cross necklace hanging from a stone placed on top of his headstone.

After reading numerous tombstones and wondering about their stories, we walked on down to our house. I can't believe it is 18 months since we moved out. It will be sold at auction on May 5, and the girls and I decided to take one last look. It was quite overgrown all down our long drive (we're sticklers for long drives into the woods).

They are looking out across our pond. There we were often visited by Great Blue Herons, and the girls watched a Canada goose pair make a nest and lay a clutch of eggs. She would actually take bits of twigs and things from the girls and tuck them into her nest, and loved it when they blew bubbles for her, nibbling at them with her shiny beak. They spent hours out there near her and she came to really like them. Just as the eggs were about to hatch the kids living across the pond destroyed the nest. The girls found one of the babies and the mother dead. We were all heartbroken, and that's when the girls got the finches they were wanting! There was a big old catfish who lived in the pond, looking like some ancient creature from another time, who became quite tame, and the girls fed scraps to him. He would speed over to the edge of the pond when he saw them coming.

We could never have fixed all that was wrong, and it was a disastrous place to live, with the pond above that overflowed, the very long drive that washed out every time it rained, the perpetually broken 2/10-mile-long water pipe, and very little that worked the last couple of years, but it was our first home together as a family, so it is special. I'm glad we bid it farewell.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't say "Cheese"

Well I have tried and Jing has tried to photograph this young lady for their China Digital Scrapbook trading cards, and these are some of the better results! Any photographers out there up to a challenge? Come on over and just try to get a good shot of this child! You get fake smile, then when you say please no fake smile you get a glower, then when you tell her to say "rubber underpants!" you get too much of a smile. ACK! But we love her anyway!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kudos to my girls!

I am SO proud of my girls! Tonight they finished their AWANA books for the year - despite missing more than 2/3 of the classes this year sitting home with Blind Mama! These books are a LOT of work and only two other girls in their class - who have all been there all year - have finished their books so far, and they have four weeks to go before summer break. They were able to do a bit of the book during the year with one of their teachers who took me back and forth to the doctor for a while but not a lot. I am really, really proud of their hard work and dedication to do all their memorizations and fill in their pages and do their assignments.

Here they are playing War (trying to hit each other with a ball, and at CHURCH of all places LOL) and friend Sarah is demonstrating a fun way to wear your hat on Hat Day! Jing loves the sports portion of the night, but Lily tries to hide or keep going to the back of the line. We can't all be athletes after all!

Spring has sprung

This was taken from our front porch a few days ago; I didn't get a photo for today. The azaleas and dogwoods are now fading, so shortly after this was taken. I sure wish the spring flowers lasted longer, particularly the wisteria and forsythia!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Georgie raises her hackles

This is Georgie before our walk. She's 11 months old now - look at those ears! This is just before our walk.

While walking we spotted a critter dashing down the drive. I thought it was a coyote. Jing thought it was a cat, maybe a bobcat. Lily thought it was a wild dog. At any rate, Georgie gave chase, and we gave chase to Georgie and found her in front of a huge pile of rocks and underbrush with hackles raised and a nervous look on her face - Can I handle this thing if it comes back out at me?!

The image of the day for me, too heartbreaking to take but etched in my mind forever, was of my old dog Matilda watching longingly out the window as we walked away without her. This week I finally had to stop letting her go on the long walk we take every day as she gets out of breath and just drags behind and sometimes coughs and chokes. We take her on a shorter walk of her own before we go but I feel like a traitor leaving her inside as we jaunt off, the puppy racing ahead of us. You could pack my sadness and guilt in a tractor trailer and still have some left over!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Reunion

What a wonderful surprise we had when our dear friends pulled into town from the state below long enough to have a quick meal and for the kids to all go to AWANA together, just like old times. I'm surprised these shots turned out at all as the girls ran ahead and I just snapped and hoped for the best way off in the distance. It was so good to see them and an unneeded reminder of how much we miss them.