Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We Have Baby Birds !

We have baby birds on the front door of our house. When Jack and I took off last week for Atlanta we had two blue eggs in the nest. I thought that they were purple finch eggs but now that the eggs have hatched I can tell that they are little baby house sparrows. I know it is hard to see. In the last photo you can see the eye of one of the baby sparrows. The wreath on the back door is getting some bird activity too. Today I saw purple finches flying in and out of the wreath. I think that they are trying to decide if they want to build a nest in the wreath. Last year the purple finches used this wreath and we had four baby purple finches in May. Maybe they will do the same thing this year. All I've got to say is that I need to be careful now and not slam the house doors.
On May 3rd we noticed that our baby birds in the nest in the wreath had flown away. This all happened within a matter of days!

Home Sweet Home

We made it home to our front door late yesterday afternoon. The drive back was not fun. It rained heavily both Sunday and Monday so driving was difficult. It feels good to be back home. I checked my gardens and Jack checked the lawn and we both decided that that today will be a gardening day.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Groom's Army Audit Friends

My husband Jack was one of eight Army Audit alumnus who traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to witness Tom McKinney give up his bachelorhood at age 65 to Sandy McTheney. Both Tom and Sandy retired from the federal government after over thirty years of service and they met each other at the NARFE convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. NARFE stands for the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees. Tom graduated from Youngstown University in Ohio and in his early career days was an Army Auditor in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Jack and I both knew Tom when he was an army auditor in Frankfurt, Germany in the 1970's. Jack and I both enjoyed sharing this special event in Tom's life and getting reacquainted with all these army audit alumni.

Click on the photo for a larger image.

The Wedding Day

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wedding Rehearsal Dinner - P F Changs

I Remember the Smith Plantation Tour Guide

We met the sweetest tour guide at Smith Plantation. She was one of the unfortunate natives of New Orleans who was forced to evacuate and relocate to the state of Georgia. This lady's home was near Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans so when the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina hit the water rose to the twelve foot level in her home and stayed like that for over two months. Naturally everything she had was ruined including an antique melodian? (small organ) that she had had insured for $35,0000 on a separate insurance rider. Well, she got nothing from the insurance company because they claimed that the insurance coverage was only for water damage from the roof down not from water rising up from the ground from the broken levees. She pointed this out to us as she showed us in one room of the house a melodian that was not as old and not as valuable as hers has been. She said that she had place valuables on top of tables and covered them with antique quilts but the water rose so fast and so high that everything downstairs was under water and everything upstairs was ruined by mildew. And then to make a very bad situation worse her home was broken into and ransacked three times during this two month period. Looters took architectural elements, doorknobs, chandeliers, etc. What a nightmare for this woman! In this woman's opinion, New Orleans will never return to its former days of glory. It will be like a modern day Pompeii---a city lost to the elements. In comparison she noted that Atlanta recovered rather quickly from General Sherman's destroy and burn policy as he marched across Georgia from Atlanta to the sea. She told us that she is now recovering her life in Atlanta and will never return to New Orleans. So sad. But what a show of fortitude and perseverance.
I just had to blog about her. And this was her advice for everyone: read the fine print of all your insurance policies. What you think may be covered may not actually be covered even though you are paying dearly for insurance. And quite naturally she does not have a high opinion of President Bush and his slow reaction to this disaster. Oh, and I also learned this from her talk. She told us that General Sherman took 600 women from around Roswell, GA as prisoners of war and had them put in a prisoner of war camp in the state of Kentucky. This tour guide like the tour guides at the other two antebellum halls did not have a good opinion of "that ruthless Sherman" and they all used the expression "The War of Northern Agression" when refering to the Civil War. And they all spit out the word yankees. I didn't dare comment that I was born a yankee in Ohio.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Sightseeing in Atlanta

Today the weather was again in the 80's and we spent the day touring three antebellum plantation homes including Bulloch Hall where President Teddy Roosevelt's Father married Mittie Bulloch. Barrington Hall had large columns on three sides and lots of boxwoods. Smith Plantation was fully furnished with the original period pieces. While waiting for the tour guide at Smith we discovered a cute little lizard on one of the white columns and lots of purple iris in bloom.We ate lunch outside at the Fickle Pickle in downtown Roswell where we enjoyed fried green tomato sandwiches. Very Good.

Smith Plantation, 1845

Bulloch Hall, 1839

Barrington Hall, 1842

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Chatteau Morrisette Winery in Floyd, VA

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Safely in Atlanta

Letting everyone know we arrived safely in Atlanta and have a wonderful two room suite at the LaQuinta Inn in Dunwoody. New hotel and great amenities. We got to Atlanta early and started our visit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. You can see one of the sculptures in the picture of Jack. The gardens were beautiful especially the orchid display. We got carried away with the orchid pics. As you can see, I found a friend in the garden. From there we went to the High Art Museum where they have a wonderful display of artifacts and art from the Louvre in addition to their permanent collection. We hadn't planned on having enough time for both today, so we will have to figure out a new plan to keep us occupied tomorrow until the rehearsal dinner.

Yesterday's Drive Was Beautiful

Jack and I left home around 7:00 A. M. after handing off the keys to our home to a Wahoo. What's a wahoo? Someone connected to the University of Virginia. This fellow is an old friend of our daughter, Jennifer, who went to UVA. He is in N. VA on business. I will explain more about Wahoos once we get to Atlanta. Or, Jenn, if you want you can leave a comment explaining what Wahoos are. Jack is anxious to get on the road so I need to wrap this up. I just want to say that yesterday we had a beautiful drive thru the foothills of VA. I never saw so many redbuds in bloom along the road. And we had a great lunch at Chateau Morrisette in Floyd, VA. which is on the Crooked Country Music Road in VA. We made it passed Charlotte, NC yesterday afternoon. Today we will take #85 all the way to Atlanta, GA. I promise to post pics tonight. (Jack forgot to bring the cord in from the car last night so I couldn't download.) Hope everyone has a great day today whether in Virginia or out of Virginia.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Election Night

Who will win the election in Pennsylvania tonight and will the long, long, long race between Obama and Hillary be finally over or will this go political process go on and on an on...........till August? Let's pray that it is over soon. I'm tired of listening to the candidates (including McCain) and to the political pundits. This presidential process is way too long. We need to shorten it. I will take my mind off the election awhile by watching three shows: American Idol, Dancing With the Stars and Big Brother. One thing for sure---whatever you miss politically will be televised again and again.
10:15 P.M. Hillary is giving her victory speech in the PA primary election.
So the long primary season will grow even longer.

Jeanine, Get Off The Phone!

Jeanine, get off the phone with Bryan and finish your thesis. Mom and Dad hope everything goes well and that you finish your thesis by this coming weekend. Then graduation in May! Yeah!!!!! Now get off the phone and get back to your computer.

Belated Honeymoon

Our neighbors, Dickie and Scott, are now back in Northern Virginia from their belated honeymoon. Dickie and Scott got married in May of 2006 in their home which is right next door to Jack and I. Jack and I were at their wedding. We are so happy that they finally had a chance to get away on a honeymoon. Where did they go? Hawaii. Sounds mighty nice to me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Honeymoon in Paris

I had promised last week to tell you where Jack and I went on our honeymoon in April of 1974. Well, we went to my favorite city in all the world: Paris! I forgot to post the photo because I got busy putzing around in my flower beds on account of the scrumptious weather. We now are having torrential rain storms. I also heard that two tornadoes touched down in Northern Virginia. Luckily we didn't have any wind damage. However today our bird feeders on a pole blew over in the rain.

Can anything be better than April in Paris? Not unless it is April in Paris on your honeymoon. We flew Lufthansa Airlines and were feted with lots of French champagne compliments of the flight attendants. We stayed at the Hotel Bellman on Rue Francois #37 where I was greeted in my room by a beautiful bouquet of long stem red roses. Jack is such a romantic! In this photo we are on top of the Arc of Triumph checking out all the avenues that radiate out from the traffic circle of the Arc of Triumph. I remember Jack saying that you had to have guts to drive in Paris. In the background is the Eiffel Tower and yes, we did go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower too. Besides that we enjoyed a cruise on the Seine River and a trip to the Louvre. And of course, we had to go to the Moulin Rouge and we had to eat and eat all that great French food. We have not been back to Paris since our honeymoon. Maybe someday we will go for a second honeymoon in Paris!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Trouble on Mockingbird Hill

See the forensic evidence in the photo. One of our two mockingbirds got done in this past week by a predator. I think a mockingbird is too big for a neighborhood cat to kill. I do think that the coopers hawk that landed on the basement railing came back to claim his prey. We had really enjoyed our pair of mocking birds. The male mockingbird has at least 15 different bird songs in his song book and I think the female had started to make a nest for laying eggs this spring. Now I don't know what will happen. Will the widow/widower take a new mate? (I don't know which one got taken out by the coopers hawk---the male or the female.) Time will tell I guess. In the meantime I have just a few feathers left to remind me of my avian friend.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Late April in our Virginia Garden

When the weather is in the 80's I just have to get outside and enjoy the gardens. As Bob Ryan, our local NBC weatherman, likes to say when the weather is delightful: "This is a scrumptious day!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our Wedding Day

Jack and I got married 34 years ago today in Frankfurt, Germany at St. Sebastians Catholic Church. My father, Leo A. Gariety, flew from Ohio to give me away. My brother, Harold Gariety, flew from Denver to attend the ceremony. My only sister, Mary Ellen Thobe, was expecting so she regretfully could not attend to be my matron of honor. So my good friend, Joyce Mattricciano was my maid of honor. Jack chose his best friend, James Blakelee to be his best man. Later that same year our two witnesses became Mr. and Mrs. Blakeslee. Jack's mother in Arizona regretfully could not attend as well as Jack's father in Missouri.And my mother was deceased. Our wedding reception was at the Officers Club in Frankfurt, Germany. Before leaving for the reception we had to take some pictures with my first grade students who came to the church to see their teacher get married. These little first graders are now in their forties. My time flies! Whenever we look at this photo we always remark about how the trees in Frankfurt, Germany were totally leafed out on April 15. In Virginia which is closer to the equator than Germany is the trees are never in full leaf by April 15. We can never figure out why that is the case. Tomorrow I will show you a photo of where we went for our honeymoon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Each Day Brings Changes

Each day brings changes to the spring garden. The Bradford pears lost their white blossoms in the wind this week and now are green. The saucer magnolias this weekend dropped a lot of magenta blossoms because of the wind and soon will be sprouting their green leaves. But luckily these saucer magnolias also can set new blossoms after leafing. I had new blossoms showing up last summer in August! These trees are just four years old this May. They have grown above the swing arbor now. I'm hoping that with time they will arch over the swing arbor. In fact this whole bed was made in 2004 when we got the swing arbor for our 30'th wedding anniversary. Since then we added the trellis panel in back for further privacy and attached two blue bird houses for our little friends. I'm now looking forward to the American wisteria on the arbor to leaf out and bloom. The Madame Zuphraine climbing roses on the arbor have already begun leafing out and I can't wait till they bloom. They are a type of old French rose from the 1860's. Have I told you that I adore anything French!

The Answer to What's in the Bag

The answer to what's in the bag is....................................

Amish Friendship Bread

Please note the following: Do not refrigerate

If air develops in the bag, let it out

The batter will rise and ferment

Day 1 Do nothing

Day 2 Mash the Bag

Day 3 Mash the Bag

Day 4 Mash the Bag

Day 5 Mash the Bag

Day 6 Add to the Bag 1 C of flour, 1 C of sugar and 1C of milk.

Mash the bag to mix.

Day 7 Mash the Bag

Day 8 Mash the Bag

Day 9 Mash the Bag

Day 10 Follow instructions below

Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl. Add

1/2 C sugar

1 1/2 C flour

1 1/2 C milk

Stir to mix. Then measure out four 1 C measures of the batter and

place in separate 1-gallon Ziplock bags. Keep a starter for yourself and give the other 3 bags to 3 friends along with a copy of this recipe.

Note: If you keep a starter, you will be baking every ten days. If you don't pass this on the first day, be sure to tell the person what day it is that she is receiving it.

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. To the remaining 1 cup of batter in the bowl add these items:

3 eggs

1 C oil

1 C sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 C flour

1 large box of vanilla or chocolate instant pudding

1 cup of raisins or crushed nuts

3. Grease and flour 2 large loaf pans.

4. Pour the batter evenly into the pans.

5. Mix 3 tsp. sugar with 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle this over the

batter in loaf pans.

6. Bake for 1 hour. Cool until bread loosens evenly from the sides

of the pans. Turn out onto plate and serve warm, if possible.

Well, this is the recipe that I got 11 days ago from my good friend and neighbor, Dickie. I followed her directions for the ten days and baked the bread last night for dinner. While baking in the oven the kitchen filled up with the most amazing cinnamon sugar smell. Heavenly. The bread turned out well. It is more like a tea bread or coffee cake then a reguler bread. In fact, while looking up web searches on Amish Friendship Bread I came across Amish Friendship Cake. Same recipe.

If you would like to try to make this bread, here's what to do the night before day one rolls around. I can't hand you a starter bag thru the computer but I can tell you what to do that will work. Get a 1-gallon Ziplock bag and put into it these three ingredients:

1/3 C of flour

1/3 C of sugar

1/3 C of milk

Mash to mix and let this bag sit out overnight. The next day start

following the directions for the ten days.

And if you would like to learn more about Amish Friendship Bread here is a site to go to read up on it.

When you compare the recipe there with what I wrote you will see that I made only one change. I thought 1/2 cup of sugar for the topping was way to much for the bread is sweet enough. And I didn't use this sugar mixture to "flour" the loaf pans. I just grabbed my can of Crisco spray with flour and gave a spray coating to the loaf pans.

I also found it helpful to mark the dates on The Days to help me keep track.'For example, next to Day 1 I lightly penciled in April 3, You could also keep track by marking your calendar. I have my starter sitting on the counter so I am going to make the bread again. This time I will use the chocolate instant pudding. On the web I saw that you could also use butterscotch instant pudding. I bet pistachio instant pudding would work too.

Friday, April 11, 2008

What Is In This Ziplock Bag?

What is in this Ziplock bag?
Make a guess under comment.
The person with the correct answer
will get something tomorrow.

In the meantime I'm heading outside to do some needed gardening.
See yuh later.
I'm giving you another 24-48 hours to figure this out.
Here's a hint.
I've been mashing it every day except for the one day I fed it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Do You Remember Black and White TVs?

Are you old enough to remember the good? old days when the family had only one TV in the home and it was in black and white? I do. I also remember sporting events on TV and what would occur at our house to my dismay. But first, let me explain this photo. This is an old photo of my now deceased brother, Harold (Hal) Lawrence Gariety. Harold loved sports and he loved playing baseball in high school and in the U.S. Army. And while serving in the army Harold was stationed in Sendai, Japan where he played on an army team called the Black Knights. This is a photo of my brother in the Black Knights uniform in Japan. Harold was one of the team pitchers. This was probably the spring of 1955.

Now when I was growing up I didn't like any sport, especially baseball, because my three older brothers would insist that our family watch any sporting event on our black and white TV instead of any reguler show like a comedy, western or variety show. So I didn't enjoy watching the Cincinatti Reds or the Cleveland Indians play. Totally boring in my opinion. And when my brothers, especially Harold, took over the TV I would stalk off to my room to read a book. Maybe that is how I fell in love with books and reading. It was my refuge from my brothers and sports on TV.

Now in the spring when we would gather wild strawberries and had to de-stem them we would enlist the aid of Harold. He wasn't crazy about this task but my mom prevailed and Harold helped my sister and I do this task. Well, just to pester my older sister, Mary Ellen, and myself he would place the de-stemed strawberry bowl half way across the room and give each strawberry a pitch into the bowl. Some were curve balls and some were sliders or knuckle balls but all looked like fast pitches to me. I always felt sorry for those poor little strawberries being slammed into the bowl with a fast pitch. But in spite of their smashed appearance those tiny wild strawberries were the sweetest things to taste. Much much better than the big luscious looking strawberries you find in the grocery stores today that look good but have a bland cardboard box taste.