Turtle Update: Free At Last!

Five Photos, Five Stories #4 (only one more to go!)

Challenge Rules: I am to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem, or a short paragraph.

Some of you may remember the story of the cold-stunned sea turtles stranded on Cape Cod’s shores last winter. And the huge effort by General Aviation pilots to carry the turtles down to warmer waters throughout the Southeast. My BH did his small part carrying fourteen critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and two loggerheads in his small Cessna from Massachusetts to Virginia last winter.

As luck would have it, the release of the precious Kemp’s Ridley turtles back into the ocean happened just last Saturday. We were invited to attend the ceremony which the ecstatic Georgia Island Sea Turtle people described as “epic” and “momentous.” But we had a schedule conflict with the Westie Rescue benefit in Northern VA and couldn’t make it work.


You know it killed us not to be there.

We’ll console ourselves with memories of these more snuggly little beasts:


And these:


And even these standoff-ish Scottish Terriers. They are ornery. And aloof. They clearly find themselves superior to any other breed. I really want one.


As Max would say: “A-rooo-oooo!” Thanks for reading!


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Snail Mail Silver

Five Photos, Five Stories #3

Challenge Rules: I am to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem, or a short paragraph.

When you have a friend who deals in antique silver and a first name that’s become somewhat vintage, nice surprises might just arrive in the mail.


My first name is as dated as a poodle skirt along with many others that were so popular in the 1950s and ’60s.  Is your first name one that immediately plops you down into the decade of your birth or is it more timeless? Would you ever expect to see it engraved on a piece of old silver?

I’m supposed to invite another blogger to join in on this challenge. If you want to, please do. 

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Literary Kindred Spirits

Five Photos, Five Stories #2

Challenge Rules: I am to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem, or a short paragraph.

I am relentless when I desperately want a friend to read something terrific. Such was the case with my friend, Louise, and Margery Sharp’s  “The Innocents.” It’s a quiet little book which in its slow build-up to a most shocking (and satisfying) conclusion brilliantly exposes the human condition, for better and worse.

Margery Sharp, Nancy Mitford and many of the other great British authors one never finds in the Costco bins were quite the topic of animated conversation around the dinner table that evening. Sharp and Mitford have nothing in common, really, other than they share a confidence that their reader is at least as bright as they are. This is an irresistibly rare trait and one sorely lacking in much of what I read today. I despise being bludgeoned with the symbolism cudgel while reading. I get it already!, I want to shout.


Eventually Louise found the Margery Sharp novel in a second-hand bookstore in Texas. And when she brought it home, to her immense surprise, out fell the obituary for the other author under discussion that bookish evening, Miss Nancy Mitford. Of course Louise sent her serendipitous find to me immediately. These moments when the universe whispers must be shared at once.

It warms my heart to imagine an unknown literary kindred spirit clipping the obituary of one favorite author and tucking it safely into the pages of another.

Tell me. What treasures might you have come across in the pages of a book?

I’m supposed to invite another blogger to join in on this challenge. If you want to, please do. 

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Five Photos, Five Stories #1

A fellow Virginia blogger, Suzi, has invited me to participate in the Five Photos, Five Stories challenge described thusly:  I am to post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph and each day nominate another blogger for the challenge.

Five consecutive days of my blatherings. I apologize in advance. Here goes:

In preparation for yesterday’s big Westie Rescue fundraiser held in northern Virginia, I got my good ol’ country boy, Max, neatly groomed so he could hold his own next to all those canine Beau Brummells in their little plaid outfits.

Just as we were ready to leave, he made a final swirl around the yard and reappeared like this:


Those little green thingies? We call them “hitchhikers.” Never let it be said, however, that regional terms are dead and gone. Here are the names I’ve heard for them since posting this on Facebook for the amusement of friends and family:

Jan calls them “beggar’s lice.” Sue says “tag-alongs.” David in Kansas calls them “stick-tights.” My uncle in Minnesota says they don’t have those there. Ha!

Turns out the actual name for these little green devils is Virginia Stickseed. Sounds rather like an Edwardian author, doesn’t it? “The Adventures of Max the Westie” by Virginia Stickseed. 

I’m supposed to invite another blogger to participate in this challenge. How about you, charming Woodland Gnome? Are you game?

Thanks for reading,


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Bookplates, Bats, and Bovines. Oh My.

When I spied this vintage bookplate, my frugal side reminded me I really don’t need another owl image.  The little bat in the corner, however, proved too much to resist and  I now have an addition to my owl collection.


Are you afraid of bats? I hope not. Living in the country, we’ve come to admire the bat and to thank him for the mostly mosquito-free evenings we enjoy on the porch while he darts about industriously.

When I shared my excitement over the new picture with my friend, Pix, she pointed me to a video which reminds us that mothering can manifest itself in miraculous ways.

And on this Mother’s Day, may I share with you a favorite poem? Interesting to note the author is a man. So much for men not getting it, because of course they do as Wendell Berry shows us.

Poem: “Her First Calf,” by Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems (North Point Press).
Her fate seizes her and brings her
down. She is heavy with it. It
wrings her. The great weight
is heaved out of her. It eases.
She moves into what she has become,
sure in her fate now
as a fish free in the current.
She turns to the calf who has broken
out of the womb’s water and its veil.
He breathes. She licks his wet hair.
He gathers his legs under him
and rises. He stands, and his legs
wobble. After the months
of his pursuit of her, now
they meet face to face.
From the beginnings of the world
his arrival and her welcome
have been prepared. They have always
known each other.

And why not use the cow as a thinly veiled excuse to present Max, defeated again in his attempts to rile up the bovines-next-door. Their indifference to his antics serves as a source of great frustration to the little Westie-boy.


Poor Max. We’ll take a walk and see if Prada the mule wants to play.

I hope all you mothers out there have exactly the day you most desire.


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The Ecstatic Gesture

This is not a post about daffodils, I assure you, in spite of the quote I am about to share.

As we all know, the only way to plant daffodils is to pile them on to a tray, and then to run out into the orchard and hurl the tray into the air, planting them exactly where they fall. There may be other, less orthodox methods; if so they should be spurned. The tray, the ecstatic gesture — that is the only sure road to success. –Beverley Nichols

Excellent advice for planting daffodils, but what do you think about the three other words in this quote which have been niggling away at me for some time now? The Ecstatic Gesture. How I love the idea of it. It is the exuberant release of inhibition and the joyful expression of individuality which appeal to me so deeply. And leave me feeling vaguely inadequate somehow.

Why? Because I’m just not capable of the ecstatic gesture. Not really. I have my moments when I might burst into song to an indifferent audience of one Westie-boy, but that’s not exactly a daily occurrence. Am I some sort of dullard that I am not metaphorically hurling bulbs into the air? So steeped in introversion that I’m left pining away on the sidelines not experiencing life to its fullest, more an observer than participant?

I’ve asked friends the ecstatic gesture question. One described running outside after a drought into the pouring rain to dance and splash in the puddles. Marvelous! But I wouldn’t do that. Not because I don’t think it’s wonderful, but because it wouldn’t even occur to me.

Fortunately, there is a flip side to this gesture coin.

A dear friend lost her husband a few weeks ago, and there have been, among the tears, many warm and funny memories shared of this special man. He was an extrovert, I guess, a man capable of – if not ecstatic gestures – certainly memorable ones. He once gelled up his hair troll doll-style and came downstairs for breakfast with a perfectly straight face while his family collapsed in helpless laughter. How do you not love a man like that?

Of all the stories I’ve heard about him over the years, my favorite surfaced just a day or two after his death. It involved something quiet and intimate. It seems that occasionally before leaving for work in the morning, he would write a love note on an orange in the fruit bowl. “I Love You.” “You’re Beautiful.” Imagine the delight upon its discovery. Imagine the impact of this one small gesture in the life of his now grieving wife.


This is what it’s all about, I suppose. It’s not so important that the gesture itself be an ecstatic one. What really matters is to leave behind a trail of gestures that have left others feeling ecstatic, loved or cherished.

Even introverts can do that.

How about you? Introvert or extrovert? Ecstatic gesture or no?

And I thank you for reading,


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Monthly Photo Challenge: The Changing Seasons: April

Each month, those of us participating in this photo challenge return to our chosen location to note the passage of time through “The Changing Seasons.” I’ve chosen to document a year around my old house and gardens.

Phew. April has been one labor-intensive garden month, but I’d say the results have been worth it, wouldn’t you?

Okay, it’s too late for a true April Fool’s Day prank, so I’ll ‘fess up that this is Longwood Gardens in the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania. After all, who needs all that fussy upkeep of fountains in the home garden, anyway?

April is the month when Spring officially boots Old Man Winter out of the garden here in central Virginia. What better way to illustrate that point than with a series of before and after shots? The “befores” were all taken on April 7th give or take a day or two. And the “afters” on April 30th.

This is the before view of the big old oak in front of my bedroom window:


And After:


You could almost hear the leaves popping out!

Here is heuchera:


Dicentra Bleeding Heart:

Contorted Redbud Tree “Lavender Twist”

April is the month we all wait for – the month in which the garden goes through its transformation from dormancy into abundant, vibrant life. And with it comes such a sense of satisfaction and joy to all of us who spend our waking hours performing deep knee-bends in flowerbeds. I always say “who needs a gym when they have a garden?”

I’ve been up and at ’em early each morning because it’s impossible to stay in bed past sunrise. The birds simply won’t allow it, especially a wren who has set up housekeeping in the boxwood under our bedroom windows. Her arias begin just as the sun rises, our little avian Maria Callas. So I thought I’d try my hand at a video to capture a bit of birdsong for you and let you see the scale of the biggest old oak on our land. I better stick to my day job.

And why did I not notice a plane is flying overhead until just this very second? My days as videographer are numbered and rightly so.

Westie Before and After:

Behold the splendors of a country dog doing what he does best. They say the terrier’s prey instinct is stronger than even the sex drive and although Max can’t exactly perform the latter, he more than makes up for it with the former:

And because I began this post with Longwood Gardens, I’ll end it that way too.


How could I resist taking a picture of this little dumpling? You’re welcome!

And many thanks for reading and to Cardinal Guzman for hosting this challenge,


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