Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The day of blurry photos.


Hiking


This past Saturday, Mina, myself, and two other girls from M’s gardening class went out to Biltmore estate. To anyone who’s in the area and haven’t been there… … go. Go now, or forever hold your peace.

The Biltmore house was built at the turn of the previous century. It, along with a large number of other structures on the property (which spans more than 8000 acres) was created with self-sufficiency in mind. It has a farm, a dairy-turned-winery, and something like 70 acres of cultured gardens.

The house itself is magnificent, containing more than 200 rooms and over 40 bathrooms. It’s been a tourist attraction since the 30s, and no wonder. I went through the place in starry-eyed wonder. The oriental rugs, the inlaid wooden cabinets, the overstuffed furniture, trimmed with ribbons or leather, the wall-papers, heavily textured, the paintings, the drapes, the statuary… it makes one realize how deprived of senses life in a little town-house can be. White walls, gray carpet with a senseless, blurred pattern are depressing after that high-grade opulence.

Of course, I forgot the camera. (To my chagrin, so did 2 out of 3 of the other people in our group).

The conservatory, adjacent to the house, was yet another wonder. Some of the plants reached immense size, and many were familiar. Among the familiar ones was a succulent that looked identical to my Russian cactus. Unfortunately, it didn’t have a tag. Neither did a lot of other things on the grounds. That, perhaps, is the only complaint I have about that entire place (and the entrée fees, though we’ve gotten in on a deal with Mina’s ticket).

I did end up getting a seasonal pass, so it’s likely that we’re going to go out there to bike, at some point or another.


Elrin’s project(s)

Here’s the shelf and the flowers that El put in. Urge to hum that “Handy man” song, rising.



Birds

A starling’s been excavating a little hole in a tree in the back yard. Perhaps it was once a woodpecker hole. Whatever the case may be, it’s a hole full of dirt and rotting wood, now. The birdie is persistent, removing crap from it for an hour or so every morning.



There’s been numerous eastern towhee sightings, on the bushes, below the bushes, but never on the feeder.



A pack of dark-eyed juncos intermingled with mourning doves on one occasion. You'll have to imagine the mourning doves off on the left.



A pair of house finches.



A mocking bird, also never seen on the feeder.



And a chipping sparrow! These little buggers used to be common as heck at my folks’ farm in Indiana. They’d hop along the gravel driveway, often in pairs, and bathe vigorously in any bodies of water they could find.



Not sure what this wasp’s called, but it’s got wings, therefore joining bird rather than plant section.




Plants

Hyacinths are getting ready to bloom, with both of the daffodils opening up already. Couldn’t get a good picture of the latter, so I’ll try again when Elrin gets home.



Animals

OtherOtherKitty, also known as OtherKitty’s Evil Nemesis, has shown up on the back porch after several months’ hiatus. As he was nothing but skin and bones, it’d be fair to say that the constant snowfalls of this winter have been hard on him. I’m guessing he’s the father or older sibling of OtherKitty, seeing as they’ve got similar coloration and the same hoarse, slightly squeaky meow. Whatever their relationship is, they’ve never been on very good terms, hissing and warily circling one another when chance threw them together.



And lastly, one of mom's cats, a black one named Kitty (original cat naming, or the lack of, seems to run in the family) succumbed to old age. The new cat (which I disapprove of, since they've already got 2 dogs, 2 more cats, and 1 small child) is nevertheless a very pretty one. We're currently trying to come up with a name for it.