Those Amazing Hummers

20180420_181125Who doesn’t love a hummingbird? I’ve put out my feeder and already spotted a couple of early birds (pun intended)!  My husband took the picture to the left through a window, which is why the photo’s a little fuzzy.  He was afraid if he opened the back door, this little birdie would fly away.  (Look closely to find the hummer!)

20180423_114613Though our guest was not a very colorful member of the hummingbird family, I was excited to see a market for my leftover bottle of  nectar.

  No, I don’t mix my own.


Last year when my backyard hostas bloomed, they were also a draw for hummingbirds. If foliage is any indication of flowers to come, it looks like another good year for hummingbirds to hover over my hostas.20180423_114413


Did you know the average hummingbird weighs only one-eighth to seven-tenths of an ounce? That’s the weight of one to eight pennies.  They aren’t tiny because they don’t eat, however.  Hummingbirds feed constantly, about 5-10 times per hour for 30-60 seconds each time.

In fact, they eat their weight in nectar or sugar water each day. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could eat our weight in sweets each day and be as small as a hummingbird?  Then again, maybe not such a good idea.  The thought of consuming that many doughnuts is a little sickening.

The above hummingbird info came from a quick google search, but I also heard a speaker at my garden club recently whose topic was titled “Those Amazing Hummers.” One aspect of the hummingbird she talked about that I found interesting involved raising their babies.

It seems male hummingbirds are playboys whose goal in life is to see how many lady hummingbirds they can impregnate. These cads don’t stay around to help with the young, but leave the mama hummingbird to do all the baby bird work.

But, our speaker said, the male hummingbird usually lives only three years while the female averages five.  Somehow I find that fact strangely satisfying.

Got any hummingbird pictures you’d like to share on this blog? Send them to me at, and I’ll post.


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The Lovely Flowering Azalea

Flowering azaleas have always been a part of my spring: the blooms of the pure Snow White, the brilliant Hershey Red, and the bright pink Coral Bells.  Okay, I’m through with azalea name-dropping.  Those are the only three I know offhand.

My mother and grandmothers, on the other hand, could have rattled off the names of a dozen varieties. See, the azalea has always been a popular item in the landscape of eastern North Carolina.  There aren’t many yards owned by the natives in our part of the state that don’t have at least one species of this flowering shrub.  Down East folks, as we like to call ourselves, grew up with azaleas, often planted in the acidic soil around tall skinny pine trees.


I’ve got a mix of old and new in my yard, some that were already planted when I became the fourth owner of my current home and some that I’ve planted myself. My azaleas are a hodgepodge of colors, too, mainly because when I visit a nursery in the spring, I lose any practical landscaping plan I have to coordinate hues, and just buy what appeals to me at the moment.

Of course, can you purchase an ugly azalea? I’ve never seen a healthy blooming one of any species that wasn’t lovely.  And putting red next to white looks fine to me.


My neighbor’s yard across the street is so spectacular I dropped her a note telling her so. She’s gone with the all-one-color look, and those white azaleas really set off that pink dogwood in the midst.  I didn’t do a bit of work on this yard, yet I get to enjoy a ringside view.


Although I’ve privately declared my neighbor the winner of “Yard of the Month,” my whole neighborhood is beautiful this time of year. If only the blooms could last through summer….


To read more about the signs of spring where I live, click on



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The Doggone Truth about Dogs and Me

I was watching an episode of “48 Hours Mystery” the other night where a woman goes missing—often a theme on this program now that I think about it. Anyway, the question was whether this 50-year-old wife got tired of her husband/life and decided to start over incognito somewhere new, or whether the husband killed her and got rid of the body.

One big piece of evidence supporting the husband-done-it theory was that this woman would never have left her dogs. Yep, along with all her worldly possessions, the woman’s three doggies were still in the house.  “Those dogs were her children,” said more than one person.

Hmmm.  For me, three dogs in the house would be the REASON I left home.  Three drooling, shedding, shredding dogs would drive me over the edge.  I’d be hightailing it out of any house I’d have to share with that many canines.

Yep, in case you haven’t guessed by now or read my most recent column,   I’m not a dog lover.

Please don’t send me any hate mail if you are. I know already:  you love your pooches and I must be a maladjusted, cold-hearted person who’s missing one of the finer things in life by not adoring dogs.

To me, dogs are work. There’s all that feeding, grooming, cleaning up after, and taking to the vet stuff.  What are the rewards?  Slobbery nuzzles?  A shedding body on the bed next to you?  Paws that pick your clothes when you’re greeted?  No thank you.

My youngest daughter doesn’t feel this way. Recently, my husband and I were asked to dog-sit her 40-pound, one-year-old Golden Retriever, the second big dog she’s had since college.  We accommodated her request (me reluctantly) and had a week of big dog around the house.

IMG_1003To end this blog on a positive note and to throw all you dog lovers a bone, I will admit that my grandsons had a great time playing with the pooch.








And she might have earned her keep just a tad bit by temporarily chasing away all those pesky squirrels that insist on digging holes in my pine straw.


Oh, and the “48 Hours Mystery” case? Murder charges against the husband have been dismissed twice due to lack of evidence, although no one has heard from his dog-loving wife.



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Yoga Poses a New Way to Exercise

I’ve finished my two months of church yoga, so named by me because the class was held in the fellowship hall of Englewood United Methodist Church. We were a small group of Golden Sneakers age, or almost, who met on Wednesday nights to learn the basic poses.


A few of us, myself included, had never taken yoga before. I went in the first night a little intimidated, wondering if I could bend and twist my body into the positions I’d seen my hot-yoga daughter do.

IMG_0964Some positions I could manage. Who can’t do basic Warrior, sort of?  Even if I look like a dork doing this pose at home in the kitchen.


The graceful Sarah, the class teacher, appears so much more poised in this same position. But hey, I’m a beginner, and she’s a Certified Yoga Instructor.  And thirty-some years younger.IMG_0956







Some positions I’ll have to work on. I forget what this one is called, but that’s Sarah, not me, doing it.


A couple of times a week, I visit Planet Fitness, where I’ve been exercising on the elliptical and some of the weight machines. Recently, though, I’ve had a bad backache a day after a workout.  A backache that’s taken a few days to go away.

Without consulting WebMD, I’ve reached my own diagnosis:  there’s at least one machine I don’t need to be using.  Not knowing which one leads to a back out of whack, I’ve decided to eliminate all weight machines and use only the elliptical.

And at home, I’ll get out my lime green mat and do the yoga moves I’ve learned—the ones I can attain. Yoga seems gentle, easy, relaxing.  Heck, I don’t even sweat.  Gotta love it.

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Keeping on the Sunny Side of Life

I’m trying hard not to become a grumpy old woman. The old lady who complains about everything and everybody.  Still, recent events that I’ve labeled bad luck have me bellyaching to anyone who’ll listen.

The loud, chatty, Spanish-speaking passengers who sat behind my husband and me and never shut up during a two-hour flight from Raleigh-Durham to Miami.

The couple arguing in expletive-loaded language at eleven o’clock at night in the hotel room adjacent to ours in an otherwise very nice Miami boutique hotel.

The tulip bulbs I paid good money for and then planted in a container without proper drainage. Instead of flowers, I had rotten bulbs.

I complained about all these events in detail if you’re in the mood to read more of my Debbie Downer spiel:

IMG_1017Another irritation that’s happened since I wrote the column: the can of frosting I bought at my Harris Teeter. I got home, pulled off the plastic top, and discovered the aluminum seal had already been peeled back.  Some of the frosting was missing.

Disgusting! In all fairness, maybe the finger that dug into that frosting didn’t come from a Teeter shopper.  Possibly someone on a factory line somewhere had a sudden craving for a taste of Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Classic Chocolate Frosting.

Enough, though, with the sour mood. I’m going to try really hard this Holy Week to look on the bright side of life.  I can’t control other people’s actions, but I can control my response—right?

So I’ll look at loud Spanish speakers as a cultural experience.   I’ll be thankful my husband and I don’t yell at each other the way that awful couple did next door in the hotel.

I’ll consider the can of open frosting episode as a story I can tell to amuse others. Sort of an urban legend, needles-in-Halloween-candy kind of thing.

Yesterday I went to Walmart and found beautiful blooming tulips for $4.99 a pot. Fifteen dollars plus ten minutes spent transplanting pink blooms to the yard have remedied my no-tulip dilemma.


Happy thoughts! Blessed Holy Week! Happy Spring!


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The Roads Not Taken (at least for a while)

If ever I wrote a column for the Telegram where I wished I could add pictures, it was the recent one about all the road construction underway AT THE SAME TIME here in my hometown of Rocky Mount.

It was hard to describe how inconvenient and unpleasant it is these days for me to drive into town from my house in the burbs when the bridge I need to cross on Sunset Avenue, the main thoroughfare, is gone. Yep, completely demolished, so a higher one can be constructed to accommodate soon-to-be built extra lanes on the highway underneath.


Sunset Avenue minus the bridge


There’s a detour off Sunset that involves immediately crossing over two lanes of 50- miles-per-hour traffic in order to take a needed left-hand turn to get back on Sunset on the other side of the missing bridge. Not for the faint of heart.  No picture available of this stunt, as I value my life and therefore couldn’t slow down to snap a shot.

I’ve switched to using Hunter Hill Road as my alternate downtown avenue, but construction is underway there as well as new lanes are being added. The stop/slow sign guy is on duty, which makes travel a little safer than Sunset Avenue detours, but the area looks like a war zone.  Hulking machinery, orange cones, torn-up roadside.


The sights on Hunter Hill Road


My husband has also been traveling Hunter Hill Road to get to and from his downtown office. Then for a few days recently, our section of Halifax Road, which he used to get to Hunter Hill, was closed for road repairs.  Aargh!  “Guess I’ll just quit work,” he said.

Road projects on several main avenues at the same time are a headache for sure. But I guess I need to quit griping and just be glad my hometown is getting its share of highway funds.  One day, the projects will be finished, like this section of Country Club Road, where traffic can now zip along a four-lane highway.  A bonus after this road was widened:  the speed limit was raised to 45 from 35!


Smooth sailing these days at 45 mph


Click here if you want to read more:

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What I Did on My Winter Vacation

Remember that warm spell we had at the end of February? Just a couple of weeks ago, it was, right at the time of my carefully planned trip to escape the cold by going to Florida.

Yep, my husband and I left 70-degree days and my blooming daffodils to go to Miami and Key West. Lining up a rental car in the frigid days of January, I’d walked around the house singing Jimmy Buffett’s “I gotta go where it’s warm.”

Well, it was warm all right, almost too warm once we got to Key West with upper 80’s temps. But we saw the sights, soaked up some sun, and ate some great food (last week’s blog).  Here’s just a smattering of What I Did on My Winter Vacation.



The shallow Everglades

Neither my husband nor I had ever been to the Everglades, so we booked an excursion from Miami to what I thought of as a big swamp but the tour guide labeled “a slow-moving river.” Very pretty and yes, we saw alligators.  From afar.




After years of being run-down and a little dangerous, South Miami Beach is a safe, fun place these days. We ate dinner at Tapas & Tintos on Espanola Way, a pedestrian only, café-lined boulevard with a festive atmosphere.  I had plenty of tapas in Madrid last summer.  This time, it was paella for me.


Ready to order paella


Key Largo

Key Largo is unique in that it’s rowdy but historic. You can bar-hop from the famous Hog’s Breath Saloon to Hemingway’s former hangout, Sloppy Joe’s.  Or you can be like a couple of old folks I know and visit Truman’s Little White House and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.  There’s also the Butterfly Conservatory for those seeking tranquility.


Is that a butterfly on my hat?

In driving our rental car from Key West back to Miami to catch our flight home, we ate lunch in Key Largo (Cue the Beach Boys: “Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama, Key Largo, Montego, baby, why don’t we go….)

Order at the window

Order at the window


Go we did, not to Kokomo—is this even a real place?—but to the balmy beaches of Miami and Key West, even though it was pretty balmy at home as well.

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