BLUEBIRDS in SEARCH of an NEST BOX

March 9, 2020

Eastern blue birds are a grand prize of any backyard bird-feeding frenzy and  aviary  homes!  So put out the word that  I would gladly buy  any special request foods ( meal worms), provide shelter  and protection (from squirrels,  raccoons and snakes)  plus happily  monitor their broods if they would choose my backyard  BB nest box.  I have had a BB nest box up for 5 years but it has only been this past year that I have had blue birds visit  and show some interest.  A couple weekends ago these  2 males and 1 female blue bird came to check out my  newly purchased and mounted BB box.  It was  move in ready until a squirrel  decided to chew  the entrance larger.  I was slow to made repairs and it may have cost me  new residents that didn’t want a fixer upper.   After the blue birds left,  a new door was quickly installed with the appropriate  hole size of 1 and 1/2 inches and a metal  hole guard  was installed around the hole  to discourage any future  ” chewers”.  I will never hang a nest box again with a hole guard.

Blue birds are known to begin  nesting as early as February.

While checking out the box, there appeared to be a  brief squabble.  I assumed it was over the female and who would win her over.

In the end, it  would seem that the female rejected them both.  Once again, my nest  box is still on the market.

This adorable blue bird fledgling came to my feeder early last September.

Blue birds don’t normally  frequent feeders, especially if the feeders are crowded.  But offering meal worms (preferably  live worms rather than  dried ones) can change their minds – especially if there are  babies  still in the nest or fledglings that need to be fed.  Clean water in a shallow bird bath will also attract blue birds.

In March of last year this female  came to my black oiled sunflowers seeds.

While I always enjoy blue bird visitors, I also  hold out hope my BB box will not sit empty again this spring.

Hope you enjoyed!  Thanks for reading!

( borrowed from the internet)

ORCHID SHOW 2020 at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

February 17, 2020

From now to March 22, 2020 is the annual Orchid Show at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  I popped in for about an hour to see the many varieties of orchids set in a peaceful  tropical setting.  It was a wonderful break  from the  cold outside.  Besides the gorgeous and sometimes humorous looking orchids, the floral aroma, alone,  was heavenly and well worth the $5.00 admission. This year’s  theme is “Mayan-inspired” and also  features  moss-covered mannequins  wearing lavish botanical headdresses.

Here were my favorites shots ….

I love this little face!

Are these camo-orchids????

These conjured up images of delicate dancing faeries….

Bird of the day –  the Bird of Paradise, of course.

I love the intricate ruffled lip and….

the dazzling colors.   How rich we are that God gave us  beautiful blooms.

 

“Try your very best to live in the present moment where your heart beats are.”

by, Bernard Basset, We Neurotics: A Handbook for the Half-Mad, 1962

 

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

 

 

 

MACY’S AS WINTER ENTERTAINMENT in Chicago

December 23, 2019

A weekend trip to Chicago  during the Christmas season  proved to be  just what I expected – Chicago is COLD and the WIND chills  to the core, no matter how many layers you don.  But I discovered Macy’s on State Street, with its 9 floors,  is a wonderfully warm  place to spend the greater part of the day.  And,  other than  paying for my  wonderful lunch, I did not spend a dime.

My 1st stop was, of course, the food floor.  What more can I say?  Looking at yummy food is always fun!

But before I go on, first a bit of history.  The building opened in 1893 as Marshall Field’s Department store.   Macy’s  acquired the building and renamed it Macy’s in 2006.   My next stop was  to assess just  how enormous this store was ( looking up  from the main floor )  and to see what makes this building so grand.

Looking up from  the 1st-floor cosmetics department is the  distant view of a shimmering  mosaic dome ceiling  covering  6,000 square feet and made up of  1.6 million pieces of iridescent glass.  The  ceiling was designed by  Louis Comfort Tiffany and is the largest Tiffany mosaic in existence.   It took 18 months and 50 artisans  atop scaffolds to complete the project.

A Tiffany lamp hangs from the mosaic ceiling.

Due to many  non-working elevators and escalators, I soon realized it would be easier to start at the top of  this department store and walk  my way down, as I could more easily  walk down non-functioning escalators  rather  that walk up.   Yes – at least half of the  transportation modes  between floors were in a state of  closure and repair  that day.  But I guess that is to be expected  in a building this old.   I waited 20 minutes for an elevator to take me to the top floor.  The elevator, as the store, was packed with people. 

The  joyful greetings  at  the top floor were  all about Christmas!  Lots of gorgeous, festive  Christmas trees!  Millions of  Christmas ornaments!  Thousands of   Christmas decorations!   Most with a price tag.  Enjoy for free but if you fall in love with it, 99%  of it could be bought.

The Walnut Room restaurant was also on this floor with it’s beautiful  45 ft  Christmas tree with 15,000 lights and 1200 ornaments.  The restaurant opened in  1907  and was  the very first restaurant in a department store.  It is also the longest continuously-operating restaurant in the nation.  The  walnut paneling is over 100 years old,  Austrian chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and there is a  17 ft  fountain.  Not a seat was empty.

Now  back to shopping – if you need a  near-life-sized  stuffed deer or fawn for your holiday decorating,  one was readily available at the cost of $800.    (That was the price for the fawn).

My favorite was this nutcracker with his polar bear friends.  But, alas, I had to leave him behind as I was taking the Amtrak back home and couldn’t fathom how I would manage.

 

Having warmed back to a survivable body temperature now, I was prepared to go outside and see the 2 identical  massive  Great Clocks on the outside of the Macy’s building.    Each clock is made of 7¾ tons of cast bronze and hangs from ornamental ironwork.

Macy’s  delightful  holiday window displays were next …

each one…

as cute as the next !!  ” Believe in Wonder” was the theme.

 

On the way to lunch, I discovered the  22  “American Victorian Stained Glass” pieces  that are on permanent display in the  the Chicago Pedway next to Macys.   The artworks  were created between 1880 and 1910 for homes and public buildings.  This piece was designed and fabricated by John Mallon in 1881.  The photo comes nowhere near to the beauty of it  in person.

Then, after an absolutely wonderful lunch ( at a reasonable price)  in Macy’s  lower level food court of delicious, hot and generous portions of  Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and green beans, I waddled back to the hotel enjoying  some of the  high-rise sights of Chicago and still, freezing cold all the way.

Merry Christmas!!

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed!!

 

“Once the travel bug bites, there is no known antidote and  I know I  shall be happily   infected  until the end of my life.”   Michael Palin

 

THE FRICK – PITTSBURGH – Last Day to Explore Pittsburgh

The children’s playhouse on the Frick  Estate

October 28, 2019

My last day in Pittsburgh  I ventured to  The Frick – Pittsburgh.  The Frick is the  6 acre  property  of  wealthy industrialist, financier, union-buster,  art collector (and I could go on and on)  Henry Clay Frick .   Henry, his wife Adelaide and their children  lived in the 4 story family  home , referred to as  “Clayton” from  1882 – 1905.  Photos were not allowed in the restored  home but  90  percent of the interior  ( furniture, wallpaper, draperies)  were  original.  Some parts of the house  showed  a tad bit of its age,  but the guided tour by a docent was very enjoyable and  insightful as to the “guided age” and the family’s most interesting and gossip-worthy life .  The guided age was the late 19th century when there was rapid economic  growth and rapid expansion of industrialization.

Henry Clay Frick’s  collection of Chinese porcelain,  some dating back to 1662.

Besides the family mansion and  the children’s playhouse,  there is a cafe,  a small art museum ( although the  bulk of  art collection is located at the ” Frick Collection”, now an art museum but  originally the family’s  New York home) and there was a……

Greenhouse and gardens….

Lantana

Hydrangea

an Allium of some sort

Gomphrena

Plus the Frick property had a Car and Carriage museum !

This red and blue beauty is a 1940 Bantam Roadster.  Cost $445.00  Top speed was 43 mph and could travel 60 miles on a gallon of gasoline.

Model E Towing car from 1917. A gift to the museum.

Model A Roundabout from 1901, cost was $750 and  top speed was 25 miles per hour.  This car was a gift to the museum.

Stanley Steemer Model R Roadster from 9009, cost was $1350, and it could run on kerosene or water.  The top speed was 70 miles per hour.  This car was a gift to the museum.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost from 1914 at a  cost of  $4800.  Henry  Clay Frick ordered 3 of these for family use and each was  highly customized, which could take up to 18 months in production.

Lincoln  Model K, Sport Phaeton from 1931. Cost was $ 4600. This was one of several Lincolns  that Henry Clay Frick owned during that era.

So that  wraps up my Pittsburgh Adventure.  I left Pittsburgh with fond memories and hopes to return again and see the sights that I missed.   Lastly,  I want  to mention that Pittsburgh has two clear distinctions  over any other city in the USA – it is the home of Mr. Fred Rogers and  also where Henry John Heinz invented ketchup in 1876.  Pittsburgh is home to the H. J.  Heinz Headquarters  and where you can also find  Heinz  chapstick in  4 different  flavors – ketchup, mustard, pickle and 57 sauce. Admittedly  I am a chapstick addict but, no, I could not bring myself to try any of these  flavors.

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!!

 

 

 

 

CARNEGIE NATURAL HISTORY and ART MUSEUM, Pittsburgh

Cast  Collection in Hall of Architecture

October 20, 2019

Another one of my  explorations in Pittsburgh was at the Carnegie Natural History and Art Museum.  What a great museum!!  Here are just a few samplings of what can be enjoyed.

The museum’s  Hall of Architecture  opened in 1907 with 140 plaster casts of architectural masterpieces.  In the USA, it is the only remaining collection of its kind.  Today few casts are being made, due to the fragility of the originals and also the attitude of copying works  from the past.

Even though these are casts of the original, they were incredible to see, both in size and of  the great detail.

Conch Pearls ( the pink ones)  from  Mexico in the Hall of  Minerals and Gems.  Queen conch pearls are amount the rarest and most expensive pearls in the world.  The chances for finding a conch pearl is  1/15,000.  Even then, most are not of gem quality.

In the Hall of Mineral and Gems there are 1300 specimens from all over the world plus 500 gems, crystals and jewelry pieces.  This was my favorite part of the museum, though Bird Hall came in with a close 2nd.

From the museums’s insect collection – this monster can be found in the Philippines.  My finger is there to help give you an idea just how huge this creature is.

These Scarab beetles and a lot more assorted insects, moths and butterflies  can be found in the museum.

They  were spectacular to see up close, yet also a  little creepy.

The  leading museum’s entomologist has a mantra “there’s  never enough bugs”.   There are 30,000 drawers filled with millions of butterflies and moths alone and  approximately 11 million insects in their collection.

The museum ‘s Bird Hall features 300 taxidermy mounts  from hummingbirds to eagles.  This is an Elf Owl  which can be found in the southwestern region of the USA and in Mexico.  It is the world’s smallest owl and mostly eats insects.  The museum has a whopping  190,000 bird  specimens in its collection.

Replica of the extinct  Dodo  bird which was flightless and endemic to the island of Mauritius.

This is a Marabou, a stork that resides in Africa.

The  humorous side of the museum also has a display  of birds that went on to become famously portrayed on television, such as the cartoon character Tweety Bird,  who was a canary.

The Roadrunner  also reached stardom in  the cartoon  ” The Roadrunner” show.

A moose resides in the Hall of North American Wildlife along with 22 more dioramas depicting different  wildlife  in their natural habitat.

Zebras and more  reside in the African Wildlife section of the museum , in another 11 dioramas.

Striped deer can originally  be found in Africa.

This guy  was soooo lifelike,  my spine tingled  as I walked past. .

On the artsy side of the museum…..

“Bathers with Crab” by  Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1899

I failed to get the name of this piece but it was my favorite so included it anyway.

Ending  on  a work  of art guaranteed to make you smile, is  this contemporary  piece of  a  giant frog relaxing on carpet,  who, by the way,  occupied an entire room to himself.

There was much more to be seen at the museum but I simply ran out of time before I could see it all.

In memory of all the creatures that passed so that we could  continue to observe and learn…..

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”    Hunter S. Thompson

Hope you enjoyed!!!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Wanderings in Pittsburgh

Downtown city of  Pittsburgh as seen from the top  observation deck of the Duquesne Incline.

October 5, 2019

Pittsburgh is  a very walkable,  though sometimes,  hilly city.   It sits at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.  There are 446 bridges connecting the city.  Of the 4 bridges I used in my wanderings, crossing the bridges on foot was easy and safe.  .

There are easy-to-find paved footpaths that lead you up, over and off the bridges safely.

Along the rivers’ edge, there are also wonderful paved  walking/biking paths, places where you can dock your boat and many parks, memorials, art , places to eat and touristy sights close by.

One such spot was the “Water Steps” fountain, which I was told is a popular place to sit by or sit in,  relax, let your kids and/or dogs play in and soak in the beautiful cityscape/ waterscape..   It is made up of 500 sandstone  blocks and 1000 smaller blocks and is 40 feet wide.   As you can see the water had already been drained for the coming winter but  I still enjoyed sitting for a bit and reveling in this beautiful, peaceful setting as I was falling in the love with this incredible city.

I also took  pleasure in a Gateway Clipper boat ride  to see the sights of Pittsburgh by water.   The  commentator was interesting and entertaining with many funny stories and tidbits  about the city.

I meandered through RandyLand, the quirky and  free, outdoor, public colorful art displays.  Randy Gilson bought some property and land with a credit card in 1995. As his story goes -” he would wait tables  and  then come home and paint  to bring happiness to his neighborhood.”  Much of his art work is  created with  repurposed items.

Did I mention it was quirky and colorful?

I am not sure if this is part of Randyland but it was located across the street.

I also explored the Mexican War Streets in Pittsburgh.  It is a historical area with 18th century  restored row houses, gardens, alleyways and lots of personality.

The streets were named from people and places of the Mexican-American War

I also passed by to admire the alluring architecture of  Carnegie  Hall.

A photo does not do justice to this gorgeous mural I discovered in my travels by foot.

This is the  Duquesne Incline.   Pittsburgh was at one time home to 23 inclines built into the hillsides.  Today only 2 remain – the Duquesne  Incline and the Monongahela Incline. Today they are largely ( no pun intended) used by tourists  but  still some use as needed transportation.

Going up……..I bravely rode the Duquesne Incline which has been operating since 1877.   It is 800 feet long, 400 feet in height and inclines at a 30 degree angle.  It moves very, very slowly and has a lot of creaking noises.

The cable  cars are not the original but they are still a century old.  From inside the top station, you can view the machinery  while it operates.

Going down gave me just as much reason to hold my breathe and renew my faith in God as going up.

All of the above was done in one day of exploring by foot, with time to spare.

 

“Blessed are the curious for they will have adventures.”

by Lovelle Drachman

 

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!

 

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL AVIARY IN PITTSBURGH – MY FAVORITE!!!

Victoria Crowned Pigeon

October 5, 2019

The National Aviary is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and if you love birds, this is a must see!!!  THIS is what truly brought me to Pittsburgh and it was wonderful!  It is the largest aviary in the USA.  There are 200 different species and over 500 total birds.  They also have a sloth but, admittedly, the Aviary staff  say he mostly stays hidden and sleeps a lot .  I did not see him  even though a docent tried to point out his only visible leg to me in a tree.

Ninety-nine percent of the birds are  contained in recreated natural habitats  for the birds  who come from all over the world.  The habitats are divided up with a wetlands, grasslands, rainforest, and  penquin point   enclosures  and the birds are free flying so you can observe and enjoy as long as you would like to.   Some of the birds  clearly had no fear of humans and came to  sit right beside  me or stand as my feet.   I tried my best to identify each bird, yet still remain a mystery.

Andeon cock of the rock

Marianas fruit dove

Snowy egret

Golden breasted starling

White-eared catbird

Superb Sparrow

Purple throated fruitcrow

Burrowing Owl  – about 7 inches tall

I think this is a screech owl

Green singing finch

Red siskin

Shaft tailed finch

Turquoise Tanager

Western Kingbird

Owl finch

Flamingo

Guam kingfisher

Very curious bird

Roseate Spoonbill

Scarlet-headed blackbird

Guira cuckoo

Brown pelican

Venezuelan Troupial

White crested laughing thrush

Canary

Tawny frogmouth

Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed!

 

 

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