Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our Boy Named Eugina



Eugina was born almost 2 years ago. His Mother disappeared shortly after giving birth, leaving us to hand feed him. Later, after discovering Eugina was a boy we tried changing his name to Eugine, but somehow it just didn't fit. Eugina, as a kitten, was a barrel of laughs. He would often climb in the most inconspicuous hiding places, and playfully attack us as we walked by. He loved the outdoor life, chasing birds and chasing squirrels. Often times we would see him crouched low to the ground, his tail still and stiff, stalking and preying on a nearby bird feeding from the ground, but to our knowledge he never killed our wildlife friends.

Eugina was every bodies cat. He walked with me through my daily walks in the woods. Sometimes, he would run ahead of me, other times he walked along my side. He would wait patiently as I stopped to photograph some nearby nature. He would walk along downed pine trees, and sit with me for a little rest as I listened to the peace and quietness only nature can bring.

He would join my husband in the shed, and watch him tinker with all his manly toys. He would twist around his legs, weaving his tail in and out, purring loudly till my husband acknowledged his presence. He would often aggravate him, by pushing his head against his hand as he tried screwing something together with a screwdriver. A slight push away, and a few cuss words never fazed Eugina, he continued till my husband scratched his head. Satisfied, hed lay down nearby and watch him curiously.

He didn't have a certain human he liked to sleep with. He divided his time among us all. Some nights, you might would find him curled at the foot of the bed, while my 16 year old daughter was texting and doing homework all at the same time. Other times you might would find him, sleeping above my 14 year old daughters head, sharing the same pillow. He would often curl up in my husbands lap as he stretched back in his recliner. I always knew when Eugina climbed on my bed for a midnight nap. His purrs were always so much louder than the other cats.

Eugina, loved mice and was a great mouse hunter. We laughed one day as we watched him catch 5 in a row near the chicken pen. Another time, we saw him walking up from the woods with a field rat in his mouth as big as he. With Eugina around, no mouse was safe.

While Eugina stalked the wild birds, he never bothered my husbands cockatiels and parrot. In the evening my husband would let the birds out of their cages to explore the shed. Eugina knew they were part of the family and he never bothered them. Sometimes we would catch Winston, my husbands cockatiel, perched on top of Eugina as he was sleeping.

Eugina, was a protector to all our animals dogs, cats, and birds, as well as us humans. He would keep the mice population down. He would curl up against Stella, my American Bulldog, during one of his many cat naps. When Stella got sick one time, Eugina laid by her side all day and night till she started feeling better. He never seemed to mind, Stella's slobbering, long tongue as she licked him and cleaned him as if he were her young.

When one of our other cats Pirate, was stuck in the tree for 6 days. Eugina became disgusted with our many attempts of trying to get her down. He watched us day after day as we tried endlessly to no avail. He would sit back on the pic nic table, and watch us climb the tree, and offer her can salmon and tuna to try and bribe her down. He sat silently laughing at the many stupid attempts we made trying to rescue her. Disgusted with our silly stupidity, he jumped from the pic nic table, to the tree, and climbed all the way to the very tip top. He jumped branch to branch as he often watched the squirrels do, and he tip toed as if walking a tight wire, all the way to Pirate. He touched noses with her, meowed several times, then scooted back down the tree. Midways down, he turned and looked up at her, and meowed loudly as if he was saying "that's how its done, you idiot". When Pirate finally came down by herself, 6 days later, Eugina sniffed her from head to toe making sure she was ok. He followed her in the house and watched as she gorged on a whole can of salmon. He sat and waited patiently for the left overs.

Friday morning, after I got out of bed. I saw Eugina laying on the window sill. I opened the window to let him in as I have done every morning for the past 2 years. He looked as if he were asleep, but when he turned to the sound of the window opening, he didn't look like Eugina. He scared the living hell out of me. He scared me so bad, that I slammed the window shut because I didnt think it was him. Then I realized, it was Eugina and something was terribly wrong. His jaw hung open exposing his white sharp teeth. His green eyes were crossed with a white film over them. My youngest daughter ran outside to get him off the window ledge, cradling him gently in her arms.

We had assumed Eugina had been hit by a car, but later learned he was hit by a blunt object, whether a bat, a hammer, or with a foot from a swift hard kick. With Eugina's jaw broken we fed and gave him water through a straw and syringes. I gave him a warm bedding to sleep in, and told him stories during the evenings. I stroked his back, I kissed his little head gently. I whispered "I love You" in his ear and offered him comfort and courage. Yesterday morning, Eugina became to weak. He could no longer battle his injury.

Yesterday morning we laid to rest, our boy named Eugina.













Monday, April 26, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Daffodil Memories




Each year when the brilliant yellow Daffodils welcome the return of Spring I seem to go back in time. A time when I was a little girl, remembering each Spring's first blossoming of the golden yellow flowers. My grandmother's yard was filled with these elegant flowers. They lined the back of her house from one end to the other. They bordered the property line and separated her yard from the neighbor's yard. They bloomed around the Fig Tree just outside her kitchen window, and through different spots of her back yard. I can hear her voice just as if it were yesterday "The jonquils are starting to bloom".

When I moved into my new home 10 years ago, I began to learn the difference between jonquils and daffodils. Silently, in my mind, I accused my neighbors of not knowing the difference, when in reality I was the one that didn't know the difference. A few years later, while surfing the web, I found the difference in the two. Supposedly, jonquils have 2-6 flowers on one stem while daffodils only have 1 flower on each stem. My Grandmother had both in her yard, although she called them all...jonquils. It seems she was not the only one one, I think a lot of older women here in the South call all daffodils...jonquils.

Each year, when the first daffodil blooms, I always have to pick it and put in a vase and set it in my kitchen, just like my Nannie did. Every time I look at that one single flower sitting on my kitchen table, I am reminded of my childhood during the beginning of spring. For some reason I always felt that a handful of freshly picked flowers would brighten any one's day. I go back in time, and I remember when my Aunt, only 8 years older than I, was upset and crying from an argument she had with my grandmother. I couldn't understand why my Nannie hurt her feelings so bad, but as she laid in her room crying, I ran outside and picked a handful of daffodils and jonquils. I tried to arrange them just perfect in a small glass vase. I knocked on my Aunts bedroom door, then handed her the bouquet of flowers. I still can see the smile on her face.

I also remember making my Mama an arrangement of golden yellow jonquils and daffodils. Again, I would try to arrange them just perfect, and I always made sure I picked the prettiest ones. I then would wrap them in a wet paper towels, and then line the paper towel with aluminum foil so the water wouldn't drip everywhere. When Mama would come pick me up from my Grandmother's I would thrust the bouquet of daffodils and jonquils in her hands. It always gave me a sense of pride when she smiled and told me how lovely they were.

A few years ago, my youngest daughter fell and broke her ankle. She was waiting on me to fix her lunch as she laid in the recliner with her ankle propped up, her cheeks still wet from the tears of pain. As I was making her sandwich, I glanced out the window, and saw my daffodils. I quietly sneaked out the back door and picked her a few. I then placed each one in a vase and placed the vase on her tray with her sandwich and carried it to her. At first, she just looked at me like I was crazy, then she smelled the flowers and smiled "Thank You Mama, they are pretty" she said in a soft whisper with a smile that extended from ear to ear.

The Daffodils have quit blooming now, and their soft yellow petals have withered and turned brown. I will have to wait another year before they whisper to me, the sweet childhood memories.



Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring and Summer Dangers

I can't believe April is almost over with. I have not even started plowing my garden yet, much less preparing my herb beds and flower beds. Spring snuck up on me too quickly. With Spring here and Summer right around the corner, many of us will be busy in our gardens, cutting our lawns, thinning weeds, camping, swimming, boating, grilling out, and enjoying the warmer months. Many of us look forward to the warmer months with the beauty of nature all around, we must also be aware of some possible dangers lurking around.

I remember a couple of years ago, my husband had some old lumber laying out in the yard. He couldn't seem to find the time to move it elsewhere. I began cleaning the yard late in the spring and decided to go ahead and move the lumber myself. I had moved several pieces when I was getting down to some of the rotten pieces. I decided to throw the rotten pieces in the burn pile when I felt something crawling up my arm. I dropped the near rotten boards and started beating myself, and doing some kind of strange native dance all the while screaming as if I was being murdered. A wave of nausea came over me, and I suddenly began to vomit. This all happened in a matter of a few seconds, maybe a minute or two at the most. My husband ran up to me asking "spider or snake?" Once I finished heaving, I then started to cry with fear and anger. Anger, because I had been cleaning up his mess he left all winter, crying because of my fear of spiders. What was crawling on my arm was a Black Widow the size of my thumb. Her fat ebony abdomen seemed to be larger than my thumb nail, and her scarlet red hour glass was quite visible. The wave of vomiting was not from being bit, but from the total fear I have of spiders. While I hate Spiders, spiders love me. I have been bitten several times by various spiders, only one was severe enough to go to the doctor.

Spiders are not the only danger lurking around cool dark places, but snakes as well. I'm not too fond of snakes either, but my fear of snakes is nothing compared to my fear of spiders. Spring and Summer offer us all kind of enjoyment, and beauty, but these months also offer us the dangers we do not often think about.

Below is a list of Spring and Summer dangers we all need to be aware of. I tried to provide my own photos on most of these, but the ones that are not mine, I have given credit to where credit is due by providing the link where I found them.







Fire ants do pose a problem around here in South Carolina. Mounds seem to pop up over night. My oldest daughter was bitten by thousands of fire ants when she was 2 years old, which covered her whole body. She has scars today all over her feet from these nasty ants.







Many people are highly allergic to bees. I have been stung several times by different species of bees. My oldest daughter was stung 26 times by yellow jackets and just a few months ago, I was stung by yellow jackets 5 times. Bumble bees normally do not bother me but I have been stung by them before. Close up and macro shots of these insects made me a tad nervous, but I never disturbed them or gave them reason to sting.



King snakes are welcome around here to keep the mice population down. They are harmless but there are other snakes we should all be aware of from cotton mouths, to water moccasins, and rattle snakes, plus many more.



Don't think for once I got close enough for these photos of the spiders! photos from http://www.spiderbegone.com


Ticks carry many diseases, rocky mountain spotted fever and lyme disease to name a few, plus these little critters can also cause many infections, headaches, etc.
photo from http://www.tickinfo.com

You might not would think mosquitoes would cause any danger, but these little vampires can transmit diseases and West Nile Virus.

photo from http://www.mosquitobarrier.com/

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Beneficial Banana


Bananas are not one of my favorite fruits. It's not that I don't like them, I just don't normally eat them alone. I love them in fruit salads and I love banana and peanut butter sandwiches. I also like to slice the banana down the center and spread peanut butter on the inside. In the summer months, I can never pass up a frozen chocolate dipped banana..mmmm delicious! A friend of mine, sent me a wonderful article on bananas. I knew bananas were good for you, but I never really knew ALL the wonderful benefits they actually have. I will definitely make bananas a regular purchase at the grocery store.

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit.
It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS:
Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia :
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.


Brain Power:
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation:
High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers:
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn:
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness

Mosquito bites:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves:
Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.


Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology inAustria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips.. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady..

Ulcers:
The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control:
Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use:
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress:
Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance.. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes:
According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts:
Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its
time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nature in New York City??

Over the Easter holiday, my Mother, my Daughters and I took a trip to New York City. Living in a relatively small town in South Carolina where the trees are abundant, and the birds are always quite lively, I was a bit apprehensive about the trip. I love living among the nature that surrounds me. I love watching the trees each spring as they begin waking from the their winter's sleep, producing their tiny little buds among the branches. I love listening to the birds each morning as they sing to me their beautiful melancholy songs. I love watching the same feathered friends through out the day as they find the earthworms among the earth, as they eat the left over pecans I have left for them over the winter. While a lot of people hate squirrels, I enjoy watching them scurry up the tree, jumping limb to limb, dodging the cats that are crouched down nearby. I love watching the sunset and if I'm up early enough, watching the sun rise. I have my own little haven of nature surrounding me, but the best surprises are when I take my daily walks through the woods. There is nothing more peaceful to me than being alone with only the sounds, and sights, the gentle touches that only nature can bring. In other words, I love everything Nature has to offer, but would I find that in New York?

I was quite overwhelmed when I saw the streets of NYC for my first time. The bright lights were absolutely gorgeous. The yellow taxis, the buses and cars that zoomed through the streets practically ignoring the pedestrians amused me. The tall skyscrapers, looking as if they disappeared into the clouds were amazing. The people that rushed past me on the sidewalks, who bumped into my shoulders with out so much as looking back to offer an "excuse me" appeared quite rude. The words of my Mother came rushing back to me as we got off the plane "you might as well forget the southern courtesy while in NY" I understood what she meant after getting bumped several times. I learned to speed up my pace a little bit, and walk as fast as the rest but I was afraid I would miss something. I was used to taking my time walking in the woods, enjoying and taking in everything my eyes could see, but New York does not give you time for that. Everything seemed to be in fast forward. I got up every morning just as the sun came up and hit the streets alone to take my morning walks while every one else slept. It was very different from my nature walks. As we drove to the airport in NC my mother said "this is the last of the trees you are going to see for a few days." My morning walks up and down Broadway on Time Square with early morning tourist, and businessmen in black suits was quite different from my walks in the woods. There was no gentle breeze across my skin, there were no sounds of birds greeting me, there were no signs of any wildlife, there were no earthly smells, there was no aroma of the spring flowers blooming, there was no peacefulness. Instead, all that I was used to had been replaced by the smell of sewage, the vibration under my feet from the subway, billboards, bright flashing signs, movie screen theatre signs, sounds of horns blowing near and far, I could hear the footsteps of people as the rushed and bumped past me. I would stop to take photos of everything but people would just bump into me almost knocking my camera out of my hand. I began to understand why you see so many blurry photos of New York City, you continuously have to move, there is no time to stop and take it all in. I was determined that I would not go home without some kind of nature shots. Surely, NYC had some kind of nature.

We took a tour bus one day for sight seeing. The bus never stopped long enough for a good photo. Once we got to a little park where you take a ferry to the statue of liberty, I saw something wonderful. There were small trees, there were a few scarce dandelions and Pigeons everywhere. I have seen pigeons before here in South Carolina, but I have never seen pigeons that would actually just walk up to you as if welcoming you to their state and I don't see pigeons every day in my own haven. I fell in love with these little creatures, they had such visible beauty, their feathers being a mix of black and dark green metallic color that shone with the sun ray's. One day while visiting the Empire State Building we stood among the 88th floor snapping photos of the big city, a pigeon landed in front me. He posed perfectly for the camera, looking directly into the lens. He let me take several shots of him before he moved along visiting other tourists.

While on the tour bus taking in all the sites, we stopped briefly in front of Central Park and I was able to get a quick glimpse and a quick shot of the beauty I saw inside the fence. Why was nature fenced in? We did not walk through central park, if we had, I'm sure I would have some beautiful photos, but I was only able to get one quick photo from afar. I kinda wish we could have walked through Central Park, but we had so much we wanted to see and only a few days to take it all in.

One evening, my daughters and I were sitting in the middle of Broadway resting our feet, and worn out bodies, a little sparrow walked right up to me. He stayed long enough for me to take his photo before he flew away. After seeing him, I realized I was starting to miss home.

Once we got back home, the streets here in Greenwood, South Carolina looked as if they were deserted after being in NYC for 3 days. When I returned to my home, the pecan trees had come alive from the winter, and were showing off their newly, bright green, young leaves. Recent rainfall had made the grass grow ankle high and such a lovely dark green. The wind blew through out my hair, and I could smell the sweet aroma of the spring flowers. The birds were singing louder than ever as if they were welcoming me back home. The chickens ran past me spotting some grub. The cats' tails weaved through my legs, they meowed and purred as they welcomed me home. The dogs began to bark excitedly,wondering where I had been for so long. A dark red cardinal perched on a branch just above me and began to sing....I had a blast in NYC but these were the sounds and sites I missed and I was glad to be home.








Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sometimes, when a bird cries out, or the wind sweeps through a tree, or a dog howls in a far off farm, I hold still and listen a long time.
We live in all things, and all things live in us.