I decided to be done with the “Under The Pecan Tree” chapter and move on to a new chapter named: Under The White Oak Leaves. Connecticut and New England in general has a lot to offer as well. This page will be still here for reading and to look at photos. However, I’m done blogging on it.
After Friday’s record-breaking temperatures and rain yesterday, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I went hiking at the White Memorial Conservation Center again. This time we hiked at the Beaver Pond. At the Beaver Pond, we saw a lot of trees chewed up and fallen down. These beavers are busy. Their teeth marks are huge. However, this time we didn’t see a beaver; only a den/dam. Further into the hike, we’ve got lost and ended up on another trail. After using the GPS on our phones, we were on track again. But the Green Trail is a moderate hiking path. Lots of ups and downs walking over roots and stones. After an approximately 3.75-mile hike, we are sore now. Nevertheless, it was a nice walk in the woods. I also tested the camera of my new phone. And I still have to figure out this new technology.
Today was a nice, warm day. The temperatures were in the mid 60s (18℃), while it was almost 80℉ (27℃) in the sunroom. I had to open the windows and let some cooler air into the room. And the plants needed to breathe as well. The cats enjoyed basking on the spots where the sunrays hit the floor. Benny wanted to see the birds, which were chirping outside. And Ozzy flopped himself on top of my miniature greenhouse. I can’t have anything nice with this cat around. He can be so mischievous sometimes. But we love him for being him. We probably wouldn’t want him to be different.
This morning, we still had plenty of snow in Litchfield County. But as soon as the temperature climbed up, the snow began to fall from the branches. The fog moved out and the sun warmed up the ground enough for the snow to disappear within the next few hours. It is supposed to be cold until this upcoming weekend. And then it will be warmer, again.
Before it began to rain, I walked down the hill on our property to look for some plants. Since the last couple of days were warm, I was in hope for something to be sprouting out of the leaf-covered soil. And sure enough, I found snowdrops right below our shed. How exciting it was to see Spring arriving in our yard. I haven’t seen snowdrops since I left Germany, almost a couple of decades ago. The sight definitely lifted my spirit, despite the fact that we might get some snow on Wednesday, again.
Since it was so beautiful, Kevin and I were hiking at the Little Pond Boardwalk Trail in the White Memorial Conservation Center, this afternoon. The boardwalk is perfect for hiking with my current health condition: easy to walk, 1.2 miles trail, lots of fresh air. Once it is warmer the migrating waterfowl will arrive in the area and enjoy the warmer season in Connecticut. Today, we have seen some Canada Geese, a couple of Mute Swans, and a beaver. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good photo of the rodent. But it was fun to watch the beaver plucking some marsh vegetation to make its den nice and cozy for the offspring. It didn’t even make a noise when it slipped back into the water. Believe it or not, this was my first beaver encounter in the wild. Kevin and I enjoyed our boardwalk hike. We definitely have to come back, when nature begins to wake up in New England.
National Anthem Day commemorates the day the United States adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as its National Anthem. Written by Francis Scott Key, the “Star-Spangled Banner” became the National Anthem in 1931.
The story behind “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as moving as the anthem itself. While an attorney, Key was serving in the Georgetown Light Field Artillery during the War of 1812. In 1814, his negotiation skills as a lawyer were called upon to release Dr. William Beane, a prisoner on the British naval ship, Tonnant. Early in September, Key traveled to Baltimore in the company of Colonel John Skinner to begin negotiations. While Key and Skinner secured Beane’s release, the British navy had begun attacking Baltimore. The trio waited at sea to return to Georgetown. Fort McHenry is built on a peninsula of the Patapsco River. Just across the Northwest Branch is the city of Baltimore. In 1814, the population of Baltimore was roughly 50,000 people, hardly the metropolis it is today. The country itself was still young, and often families of soldiers lived nearby, providing support to their soldiers.
The British navy abandoned Baltimore and turned their full attention to Fort McHenry on September 13th. As the 190-pound shells began to shake the fort, mother nature brought a storm of her own. Thunder and rain pelted the shore along with the bombs and shells. Throughout the night, parents, wives, and children in their homes could hear and feel the bomb blasts across the way. There were reports of the explosions being felt as far away as Philadelphia. It was a long night of fear, worry, and providing comfort for one another. At sea, Key had a similar night. Being a religious man, one who believed the war could have been avoided, he watched the bombs bursting in air over the water and steadily pummeling Fort McHenry. It was undoubtedly a sight to behold. For 25 hours, the star-shaped fort manned by approximately 1,000 American soldiers endured over 1,500 cannon shots. The Fort answered with almost no effect.
In the early morning of September 14th, after Major George Armistead’s troops stopped the British landing party in a blaze of gunfire, the major ordered the oversized American flag raised in all its glory over Fort McHenry. Sewn a few months before by Mary Pickersgill and her daughter, the enormous banner replaced the storm flag, which had flown during battle. As Key waited at sea for dawn to break and smoke to clear, imagine the inspiring sight in the silence of the morning to see his country’s flag fully unfurled against the breaking of the day and the fort standing firm. Key was so moved by the experience he immediately began penning the lyrics to a song which were later published by his brother-in-law as a poem titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry.”
Resource: National Day Calendar
The Star Spangled Banner
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there; O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: ‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion, A home and a country, should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation. Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’ And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Happy 150th Birthday, Yellowstone National Park! 1872 – 2022
In July 2010, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I had the opportunity to go to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana. We’ve camped in the park for a couple of nights, before we moved on to see Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota. Sara was nine months old at that time. It was her first big trip outside of Texas. Today, almost twelve years later, we celebrate Yellowstone National Park’s 150th Birthday. Feel free to click on the photos to see where we visited in the park back in 2010.
March Racing clouds and whistling winds, Coats flapping in the breeze, Bright kites circling in the skies, The dance of swaying trees, The cheerful sight of crocuses, The first sweet breath of spring – Just part of all the many moods The month of March can bring.
Two months into the new year: Today ends the meteorological Winter. Tomorrow begins the meteorological Spring. Some of the bigger bushes and small trees begin to bud in our front yard. But Spring needs another four to six weeks to make its way to Connecticut. We still expect snow in March. And the nights are bitterly cold. Spring is so close and still so far away.
I remember my paternal grandmother loved her cacti when I was a kid back in the 70s/80s and even still in the 90s. She made sure her plants had the perfect amount of water, repotted them every other year. Here and there, we heard an “OUCH!”, when she pricked her fingers on the sharp spines. In Summer, they had their place under the sunroof outside, in Winter they had a spot on the big window sill in the kitchen. And when a cactus finally began to bloom, she was ecstatic. She called dad to shoot plenty of photos. Dad had to make time from his work, so grandma got the perfect picture. In the afternoon or evening, it was too late for the flower. It was wilted by then. And every season, a photo ended up framed on the kitchen wall.
Now, many years down the road I believe I inherited the love for drought resistant succulents. I’m not so fond of cacti. But I love leafy succulents like Aloe Vera, Agave, Echeveria, Yucca, etc. They bloom and multiply as well. In Texas, I could plant them in the ground. However, here in Connecticut I have to keep them in pots to over-winter them inside the house. The same as my grandmother did with her cacti back in the days. Hopefully, I also inherited patience for these beautiful plants. In Texas my succulents survived almost two years. Then the Winter hit the whole Lone Star State in mid-February last year. They had no chance in my old greenhouse.
… done it yesterday, before we’ve got cold temperatures at night. Sometimes, we have to learn the hard way. The snow and sleet turned into ice, which had the whole driveway covered. This morning, Kevin started breaking up ice with a spade, before he could use the snow shovel. Sara got bored and decided to help her dad outside. They both cleared out the ice before noon. And we could exit and enter the driveway with our cars. Kevin put some sand and salt down to prevent it from refreezing. Lesson’s learned! And Sara had fun helping out in the fresh Winter’s air. The sun is already strong enough to give her a light tan.
Benny is so bored with this weather. He hasn’t seen his lady friend for several says, because it is cold and it snowed again. Roughhousing with Ozzy and Chewbacca seems to get old. So, he sits at the window and waits for Trixie to walk across our front yard. Spring can’t come soon enough for Benny.
What a beautiful day! This afternoon we had 68℉ (20℃). North Texas is freezing, while we have a “heat wave” in New England. But it is supposed to be cold again by tomorrow. And on Friday, we might get some snow. So, we take in all the nice weather as we can.
February. 22, 2022, written out numerically is 2/22/22. Not only does it occur on a Tuesday and is a Palindrome, because it reads the same forward and backward. Today is also George Washington’s 290th Birthday. The date of a Twosday is so rare, it won’t happen again for another 400 years.
Today was a beautiful sunny day. The outside temperature was 51℉ (6℃), while we had 68℉ (20℃) in the sunroom. The plants loved it. Yesterday, Sara sowed her seeds for daisies, California poppies, and strawberries. And today, I saw the first batch of vegetables: Bok Joy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages (red & white), and Cauliflower. Early March I will begin with the next batch. In the meantime, I also can plant some flower bulbs in the yard. From now on forward we will be busy with house improvements and gardening again. Since this is my first-year gardening in New England, I still have to learn the ins & outs about climate, composting, critters, etc.
Presidents’ Day is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732 and Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, who was born on February 12, 1809. It can occur on the 15th through the 21st of February inclusive.
The last couple of days, I’ve noticed a leak in the utility room. I woke up Kevin to show him the water leak. First, we blamed it on the warmer weather and therefore we have condensed water tripping. And with no pan under the heater, the water just went all over the room. Kevin decided to get a new water heater, hoses, plumbing tape, hose insulation, etc. this weekend. When he unhooked the hoses from the old 40-gallon water heater, we saw more of the problems. Before we’ve got city water, the former houseowners used the water well. Unfortunately, that water had a lot of acidity. That means, metal corrodes faster. Now, with the city water, corrosion could be slowed down a little bit. But the damage was done.
The new 50-gallon water heater sits further back in the utility room. We have more space to work in front of the heater. Plus, Kevin and I don’t have to squeeze ourselves past that narrow space between the heater and the wall anymore. There are no corrosions and we have a fancy water heater, now. It’s all digital and can be controlled with cellphone and other devices. 😉
It’s mid-February. And I come to a point where I’m tired waiting for Spring to arrive. I mean, the Winter is beautiful. But I need some colors to lift my mood. My big greenhouse has to wait another two months, before I can build it in the garden. Meanwhile, I’ve purchased two 4-tier-miniature greenhouses for our sunroom. Today, Kevin & I was on a shopping spray. Since my old garden chimenea broke during the move, I’ve got the exact same one here in Manchester, Connecticut. On the way back home, we stopped at a garden center, where I’ve got soil, growing trays, succulents, and some plants to grow for Sara. She’s my garden helper, since the day I’ve purchased my first greenhouse in Texas. In the trays, we want to sow some broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, and many more cool weather crops. There is nothing better than fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs from the home-grown garden. I’ll keep y’all updated with my new garden experiences. Since we live in a new growing zone, I have to learn new things and some new tricks. Thank goodness, we have neighbors with plenty of experience in flowers and vegetable gardening. I’ll definitely pick their brains this year.
Well, so much for the snow dusting today. We’ve got a little bit more. And tonight, it is supposed to be in the sing digit. It will be icy, again. However, we’ve got rewarded with another beautiful sunset. Winter will still be here for a while.
Kevin and I went to Saville Dam Castle, since it was a beautiful Saturday. The Barkhamsted Reservoir is still frozen. But the castle itself was clear of snow. It must look like a Fairytale Winter Wonderland, when the Saville Castle and background are covered in snow and ice. Saville Castle is less than 40 minutes from our house. So, it was a short ride. We also tried to get to Enders Falls. But once I stepped out of our car, I didn’t walk three feet. Everything is iced over, including the parking lot. With me being on blood thinners, I can’t risk falling. On top of that, Kevin has a tendency to twist his ankles. And the ice makes it even worse. We decided we would rather visit another day, when it is warmer and drier in that area.
Today was the first of four days, we will get warmer temperatures in the mid to upper 40s (7°- 9℃). On Saturday, it is supposed to be 53 ℉ (12℃). We are having a “heat wave” on our way. Warming trends like these are called “False Spring” in February. Because in reality Winter still has a strong grip, before Spring will arrive in New England. Since it is much warmer, Sara and I checked out Echo Lake. The lake is still covered in a giant ice sheet from shore to shore. However, most of the snow melted away. Therefore, we could walk all the way to the lake’s edge, knowing where the shoreline ended and the lake began in the park. When it was colder, people must have been ice fishing and taken a shortcut to the other side of Echo Lake. Now that the ice is much thinner and surface cracks can be seen, I wouldn’t recommend walking on it. It’s too dangerous out there. Next week, it might be a different story again.
After my TIPS surgery on December 9th, and the TIPS Revision on December 13th, I finally went back to Yale for my TIPS Interrogation, yesterday. My surgeon wanted to make sure that
– the stent and the coils are still in the same positions – no more blood clots are in the portal vein – blood moves through the veins to the liver as it is supposed to flow – I don’t bleed from any varices in the esophagus and stomach due to my portal hypertension
The hypertension I have well under control, due to my “Less Sodium” diet. In December, when I came home, I changed my diet completely to low fat, low salt, low sugar, minimal caffeine, no alcohol, no sodas, etc. Yes, I still have fun eating and drinking. It’s just a different way of cooking, where I have to spend more time preparing my food. There are a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits involved. What I have noticed, I have a lot less headaches and migraines. Occasionally, I still enjoy a meal in a restaurant. My doctors said, if I follow their instructions, I still can live a long and healthy life. It was a close call, but I’m still here to tell my stories.
The last couple of days, we had a warming trend in Connecticut. Day temperatures were 44℉ (7℃) in Watertown on both days. Yesterday was dry; today the rain and fog came in. Tonight, the temperatures will sink with freezing rain will arrive with some snow. Tomorrow could be really slippery. We won’t know if schools are open or closed, until tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, Texas is dealing with a freeze as well. But it is by far not as bad as it was in February of last year. Y’all stay warm, my friends!
The Groundhogs’ cousins call the prairies their home, hence the name Prairie Dog. Little Olli, the Prairie Dog from Oklahoma, would like to send a message: “Today on Groundhog Day, my cousins Punxsutawney Phil and Connecticut’s Chuckles XI saw their shadows. Therefore, they predicts ‘Six more weeks of Winter’. I also talked to Bee Cave Bob Armadillo in Texas, this morning. He said he didn’t see his shadow: Therefore, we will have an early Spring in the South. Y’all stay warm, safe, and healthy! Come visit us when you hike in Oklahoma’s prairie. We are more than happy to see you!”
February 1st is Imbolc, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Make this day special by lighting a candle to welcome back the Sun, and take some time to contemplate the seeds you will plant this Spring, both literally and metaphorically.
The Chinese New Year begins in China on February 1st, on the second New Moon of 2022. It will end on January 21, 2022. China and many other countries are celebrating the Year of the Tiger. The Tiger is the third Chinese zodiac in the periodic sequence of animals. There are twelve zodiacs. Each zodiac is for approximately one year. Therefore, a zodiac repeats itself every twelve years. Next time we have a Tiger year will be in 2034.
It has been 18 years, when Katelynn and I immigrated to the United States of America. Time seems to fly fast when we have fun. To this day, I’ve been very little homesick. Germany will always be in my heart. However, America is home to me now.
Last night, the Nor’easter started to arrive in New England. While we had only 30 – 40 mph wind gusts in Western Connecticut, the Meteorologist predicted up to 70mph wind gusts at Cape Cod and in the Boston/Massachusetts area. The wind was icy, and the temperature’s high made it only 12℉ (-11℃) in the afternoon. I decided, I won’t set foot in this weather. So, I captured my photos behind closed windows.
In the evening hours, it stopped snowing. The band of clouds cleared up in the western skies. And we’ve got rewarded with a beautiful after sunset glow.
New England Winter Poem
It’s Winter in New England And the gentle breezes blow Seventy miles an hour At twenty-five below.
Oh, how I love New England When the snow’s up to your butt You take a breath of Winter And your nose gets frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful So, I guess I’ll hang around I could never leave New England ‘Cause I’m frozen to the ground!
After contracting COVID-19 and being quarantined for over a week, I finally could go out in public again. Man, that week sucked big time. Kevin and I tested positive last Friday. The girls had sniffles and a sore throat, but tested negative. They went back to school, while Kevin and I were stuck in bed for several days, felt well to feel exhausted for a few days again. 🤒😷
Sara and I checked out Echo Lake to see how frozen it is, today. Yesterday morning, we had a low of -2℉ (-19℃). Most of the nights are in the single-digit Fahrenheit. Due to the snow cover, we couldn’t tell where exactly the shore ends and the lake begins. Therefore, we decided to stay up by the playground, where we could stand on a clear spot. Overnight into tomorrow afternoon, the forecast predicts 5-10 inches (12,5 – 25 cm) of snow. Time will tell, and let’s see where that goes. If we get unexpected more snow and should have a power outage, we have plenty of firewood and blankets to keep us all warm; and food in the pantry.
Today, a whole continent celebrates Australia Day. It marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip, in 1788.
Today, Squirrel Appreciation Day recognizes a critter some see a cute little furball roaming the trees and others consider it as a pest The founder of Squirrel Appreciation Day, Christy Hargrove, is a wildlife rehabilitator and affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville, North Carolina. According to Christy, “Celebration of the event itself is up to the individual or group — anything from putting out extra food for the squirrels to learning something new about the species.” Squirrel Appreciation Day was founded in 2001.
The sky cleared up after yesterday’s and last night’s snow storm, finally. I had a beautiful view of the star constellations and of the Wolf Moon from our deck. Orion is the easiest to make out, and also my favorite constellation in the Winter night sky, as you probably have noticed, if you followed me over the years. Since Connecticut Winters are cold, I didn’t spent too much time outside tonight.
This weekend is so cold, I decided to protect the birds from this harsh NNW wind. I went to our local bird store and got a bird feeder stand for our porch. There, the birds are protected on the SW of the house. The sun keeps them warm. And they’ve got all kinds of goodies. This time, I added bark butter to the mix. The Carolina Wren was unsure at first. But then it tried some fatty delicatesse. The Dark-eyed Junco wasn’t thinking twice and gobbled some bark butter down. Since it is not as sticky as peanut butter, I made little balls and pressed them onto the bark of a piece of firewood. The recipe is specialized for our feathered friends. It keeps them warm, and their beaks seem to be much cleaner than with the sticky peanut butter. On top of that, peanut butter has to much salt for these little guys and gals.
It has been a couple of months, since I’ve been at my favorite park in town. This morning, I paid Echo Lake Park a visit. The lake was completely frozen over, and therefore was no Canada Goose in sight. I saw the squirrel taking a nap in a nearby tree. With lots of leaves as blankets, the sun shining on the trunk, and being protected from the icy wind, it must be really cozy taking a Winter nap in there. Meanwhile, I froze my face off and couldn’t feel my legs, while shooting photos of the park. So, I didn’t spend more than five minutes at the lake, before I walked back to my warmed-up car.
Whoever left the freezer door wide open is an @#$%$#@. It was cold, this morning. And it warmed up only 9℉ (5℃) and left us with 14℉ (-10℃) in the afternoon. The wind is chilly. However, it didn’t stop me to capture some photos throughout the day. At least, we began the day with a beautiful sunrise in the Naugatuck River Valley, this morning.
The wind kept the temperatures below freezing point, despite of the sun shining most of the day. By tomorrow morning we supposed to have 5℉ (-15℃). And we will barely get out of the single digits. It will be like this for two consecutive days and nights, before we make it above the freezing mark. Later in the week, we’ll go through the same weather again. And the forecast also predicts more snow for the weekend. 🥶
Katelynn and Sara had a blast in the snow, today. It was just the right amount of snow to go sledding down the hill in our front yard. The sun was out all day. And the girls dressed warm for this freezing weather. Sara said: “I don’t like cold and snow. But I can get used to that.” Maybe she will have a change of heart and like New England eventually a bit more.