First hummingbirds

The first hummingbirds have shown up here on the mountain. We realized it when one flew into the sliding glass door in our living room about three days ago. We heard a thump and then saw the bird fly away.

Time to put up the feeder.

Several have started feeding. Based on what I’ve read, they are probably the males, who have arrived to stake out their territory. This shot, taken through the glass, shows two. The one you can actually see is a male.


We have always mixed our own hummingbird nectar. Everything we read said use one part sugar to four parts water, but at this site, they say that the one-to-four mix has about the same amount of sugar as the lowest concentration in certain flowers that hummingbirds feed on. They say using a higher concentration, even up to one-to-one, encourages the birds to come to your feeder. The concentration can be lowered gradually to the one-to-four mix.

The site has some more interesting facts about hummingbirds, as well as some advice for ways to  rescue a hummingbird trapped in a garage. I’m going to keep that in mind if another hummer ends up trapped in our garage.

Friday Felines

Zoe gets his closeup.

zoe up close You can see that he’s a little cross-eyed. He was lying on the sofa here, where he looks his most innocent.

There’s a little dark grunge in the corners of his eyes. We think it comes from the eyedrops he has to get for his glaucoma. Cleaning his eyes is part of the twice-daily ritual of putting in his eyedrops. I clean them out, and then by the next time he gets his medicine, his eyes are grungy again.


The dogwoods are in bloom

Dogwoods are one of my favorite trees, and certainly my favorite of the understory trees. Every spring I’m almost surprised to see how many there are in the woods on the mountain. They aren’t nearly as noticeable after they bloom, and they’re almost invisible after the hardwoods leaf out.

I love to walk down Fouche Gap Road when the dogwoods are in bloom. To me, the white cloud-like puffs of blooms in the distance mean winter is really over.

We have several natives on our property, plus several we have planted or transplanted. This native dogwood has bloomed profusely in the past, but in the last few years it hasn’t done so much. This year is a pretty good year, although I expected even more. It’s visible from our kitchen.


We planted a white dogwood and a pink dogwood at the same time shortly after we moved in. Contrary to my expectations, the pink dogwood has done much better than the white one. This year it produced a decent bloom, but it still looks kind of sparse from a distance. It’s right at the end of our driveway.


Up close, the blooms are very nice.


There are several volunteers not far from the big white dogwood. If they all survive long enough, that part of the property is going to be a pretty sight in the spring.

Monster in the attic

My brother and I found this note stashed away among pictures and documents that my mother had saved. It’s from my mother to my father, who was called Vaughan, his and my middle name, by family.


It’s a little hard to read, so here’s what my mother wrote:


We have something in the cabinet over the stove or in the attic or in the vent pipe. It sounds big.”

Then, after the drawing of some kind of sharp-toothed and –clawed animal with a yawning mouth, my father replied:

“You think I’m going in the attic if it sounds like that?”

This note was from some time in the 1970’s I think. It was written on a little pad from the Celanese plant where my mother worked. I remember the incident; it was a mouse that had somehow fallen into the stud cavity in the kitchen wall and was unable to get out. We first heard it, then smelled it after it died. I fished it out after it became mummified.

I also remember adding the “something” in the drawing.

I don’t know exactly why my mother saved the little note along with so many other more understandable things, but I’m glad she did.

Sisyphus had it easy in my opinion

I haven’t been working on my tree-cutting/path-building project for the last few days because a completely unrelated project jumped to the front of the priority list. The real estate agent has found a buyer for the house my brother and I have had on the market since my mother died last year. We had done some cleanup but had left a lot of stuff in the house for two main reasons. The first is that we wanted it to look lived in. The second is that we are procrastinators. The buyers want to move in on April 15, so now we can’t procrastinate any longer.

We actually got a reprieve. The buyers originally wanted to move in on April 1.

My brother and I have been making trips to the house every so often. It’s easier for me than for him because he lives more than an hour away in Chattanooga.

My father, who died back in 2000, was a collector of stuff. It’s really hard to categorize a lot of it any more narrowly than that. He had a lot of tools, including some that look like they were designed sometime around the turn of the last century. He also liked to get power tools. Among the tools he bought was a stand-mounted drill press. It’s about as tall as I am. Its height is appropriate, because it weighs about what I weigh, too.

Now the Parises seem to have a thing for living on hills. My wife and I live on a hill, my brother lives on a hill, and so did my parents. Unfortunately, my father’s workshop is halfway down the hill from the front of their lot.

My father’s drill press is not only heavy, but also awkward to handle. It’s extremely top heavy, with a big electric motor mounted to the top. I had a hand truck, but when I tried to strap the drill press to it, it was so top heavy I couldn’t keep it upright. I had to take the cast iron base off and carry it upside down on the hand truck.

The next problem was that the ground is covered with a layer of dead leaves and pine straw, which makes for poor footing. There are also a couple of sets of steps my father built from concrete blocks. Did I mention that this thing is heavy? Well, it is, even with the cast iron base removed. I was not at all sure I was going to be able to make up to the front of the yard.

Suffice it to say, I got the thing all the way up into the carport, and here it is, still upside down.

The drill press in the carport, with stuff

The drill press in the carport, with stuff

My brother and his wife came down Saturday and we worked for a while going through other stuff. The hospital bill from my brother’s birth in 1947 (it was under $75, with a room rate of $7 a day). My mother’s high school diploma. Letters from my father to my mother before they were married. A nice note from my mother’s high school glee club instructor. The admission pass for a Civil Service exam my father took right out of high school. A box full of cameras. A set of notebooks with my mother’s budgets from right after the war. All the things people save for their children to go through after they die. Maybe I’ll write about a few of them later.