Some Flowers…and a Robin

Posted by mrssmythe on June 25, 2016 in Garden |

Some new additions to the “currently in bloom” group in our garden:



A Rose…


And Pond Lilies….


These are really thriving this year and look better than ever thanks to a recent pond cleaning CPT A did. We had to add more water to the pond, though, as it’s been very dry – much drier than is usual for this time of year. I’ve even had to water the plants, which is something I almost never have to do.

And, the landscaping isn’t the only thing that’s been dry. The birds are flocking to our bird bath for drinks and showers.


Somebody left this behind the other day.


It’s a robin’s egg – perfect except for the fact that it was empty. We find these around the neighborhood every year, though rarely in such pristine condition.

It may have belonged to one of the robins that are hanging out in our garden this summer. I’ve noticed several of them. They scratch up the the mulch and make off with my earthworms (as a gardener, I prize earthworms), but I can’t fault them – they’re so jaunty and fun to watch.


Today, I sat on the front lawn, hoping to get a nice picture of one of them. Sadly, I came away with only disappointing images. I really need a larger lens to do the robins justice.


Maybe I’ll grab CPT A’s camera and see if I can get something better later this week.

From the dining room table, getting ready to do something about my nails (which have suffered with all the recent gardening),

Mrs. Smythe

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Chickens and Bicycles

Posted by mrssmythe on June 23, 2016 in Critters |

Of course, the girls love all of our new chickens. How could they not? But if we were to press them, I’m sure they’d each admit to having favorites.


Case in point: Ginger and our Speckled Susses, Cassie. More and more, I see Ginger hanging around this particular chicken,

In fact, Cassie was the first (and only) chicken to receive a tour of Ginger’s new bicycle.


Now, if Ginger had her way, there would be a basket on the front of her bike large enough to comfortably hold a chicken.


Then she and Cassie could explore the neighborhood together.


I told her that, for now, I think she needs to concentrate on honing her bike riding skills. Ferrying feathered passengers can wait until she’s gotten a little more experience under her belt. Once that happens, though, who knows?

From the dining room table, thinking it would be hilarious if Ginger really could train that chicken to ride a bike with her,

Mrs. Smythe

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Ginger Gets a Bike!

Posted by mrssmythe on June 20, 2016 in Family, Reminiscing |

For Father’s Day, we chose to celebrate with a time-honored father-child ritual…learning to ride a bicycle.


Specifically, Ginger learned to ride a bicycle.

Now, Ginger is eleven – a bit older than most children are when they first learn to ride, but her age, along with the balance and coordination she gained in activities like ice skating and dance, definitely worked to her advantage. Also, the owner of the bike shop where CPT A took her was very experienced in helping kids learn to ride. He took her out front, put her on a bike, gave her a couple of tips, and off she went. No training wheels, no wobbling, no spills. By evening, Ginger was riding laps around a nearby school, absolutely thrilled.

But, before that, there were lots of laps around the garden in the back yard.


We live on a slope, so she got plenty of practice riding up and downhill. Also, in shifting gears.


CPT A and I sat on the back patio and shouted encouragement. When we weren’t ladling out the praise, we reminisced about our own childhood bike riding experiences; the learning process, the painful crashes, and how important bicycles were to us in our teen and young adult years. After we were married, we spent six months in Germany with bicycles as our only form of transportation. It was both wonderful and frustrating. I can still remember the challenge of riding home with a newly purchased vacuum cleaner.


But I wouldn’t trade any of it. Those were good times, and I’m excited that Ginger has begun to accrue her own bicycling memories.

In the meantime, my challenge has been getting her to spots where she can ride without having to deal with a lot of traffic. Today I took her to a local park. I spent most of the time seeing her as a tiny speck on the horizon.


Which made me think that it would be much easier to keep up with her if I had a bike of my own….

I might have to look into that.

From the dining room table, getting ready to watch an episode of I Love Lucy with the girls,

Mrs. Smythe



My Grandmother’s Favorite Flower

Posted by mrssmythe on June 18, 2016 in Crafting, Garden |


It’s here! The first tiger lily of the season.

This one isn’t in my yard, though. It’s near a neighbor’s house. I spotted it while walking the dogs. It’s in a fairly protected area, and I think that may account for its early appearance.

My own tiger lilies are getting close to blooming, and it looks like we’ll have a large number of flowers this year. That’s a good thing. My mother tells me these were among my grandmother’s favorite flowers, and to have them in my yard always makes it feel as though there’s something of my grandmother here as well.


My grandmother

Flowers and trees are wonderful for preserving memories, don’t you think? They’re like post it notes for the brain that call out, “Remember!” whenever we see them. Tiger lilies will always make me think of my grandmother. Irises remind me of CPT A’s grandmother. And a tree planted in honor of a special occasion? That’s the most wonderful of all.

On a side note, I discovered, while uploading today’s flower photo, that the colors of a tiger lily are the very ones used in my “Ex-Boyfriends” scarf.


What fun! An unplanned but happy coincidence. It makes me think I should turn to flowers more often for color combinations in my knitting. I could have a whole scarf collection based on my garden. Wouldn’t that be fun? It’s definitely an idea worth exploring.

From the dining room table, with a lawn to mow and much laundry to do,

Mrs. Smythe

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The Little Stone Bulldog

Posted by mrssmythe on June 17, 2016 in Critters |

A house on our dog-walk route has recently added a small, stone bulldog statue to its front yard.


It sits near the home’s front walk, underneath a tree.

Kipper spotted it the other day. As soon as he saw it, he tensed and began whining. He didn’t realize it was made of stone.

While this was funny, I thought I should probably walk him up to the statue so he could investigate and discover that the stone dog wasn’t real. There was a construction crew there at the time, though (the home is having some interior work done), and I didn’t want to have to explain why I was bringing my dog into a stranger’s front yard.

So, I waited.

For days, I waited. And, each time we walked by the house, Kipper tensed and whined, wanting to meet the little stone dog.

Finally, yesterday, the crews were gone, and we were able to walk up the driveway.


Kipper was cautious. He walked slowly and carefully, watching to see what the stone dog would do. Finally, he stopped – still at a safe distance – and stretched himself forward until he could smell the dog.

At this point, I expected he would figure out the dog wasn’t alive. I thought he’d take a sniff or two, realize his mistake, and then possible mark the dog. (Awful, I know – but Kipper’s territorial).

However, that wasn’t the case.


Instead, Kipper kept circling the dog, sniffing. He never let himself get very close. You can see in the above picture how he stretched himself out, refusing to go any nearer than he absolutely had to.

After a few minutes of this, I decided it was time to go. I dragged Kipper – still whining – away. We walked to the turn-around point and then headed home. When we passed the house on our return leg, Kipper again tensed and whined. He remained convinced the stone dog was real.

The only explanation I have is that the construction crews (who usually bring dogs of their own) have allowed their dogs to mark the statue and now it smells of them. That could be what is throwing Kipper off. But, even so, I’m amazed that this bright little dog – the smartest of our bunch – could be taken in by a statue.

From the dining room table, with another visit to the stone bulldog planned for this morning,

Mrs. Smythe


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