Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to APRIL!!!! Spring is AWESOME. Enjoy some beautiful TULIPS from Biltmore!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Mountain Views from North Carolina

Okay --okay---this is the last post from our fabulous weekend at Mountain Air with George's son and family. BUT--I think I saved the best 'til last!!!! These are the views of the North Carolina mountains all around us that weekend. The picture above actually was taken at Mt. Pisgah on the Blue Ridge Parkway (on our way back to the condo from Sliding Rock). Except for the next one, the remainder of the pictures were taken from the Mountain Air Resort area. Hope you enjoy!!!!!

We saw this pretty waterfall right off of the road --as we traveled down the mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway going toward Asheville. We stopped in the middle of the road to get this picture... (The people in the car behind us blew their horn --but there was nowhere to pull over. We just made them wait 'til I got the picture!!!! ha)

Just think of the views that all of these homes have on that mountain. The homes sit RIGHT on the edge ---and all have open decks or big porches along the back---where one can sit and enjoy the mountain view. Must be nice!!!!!

I love seeing the sun's rays in this photo.

I also liked this one with the fence.

The clouds in this picture are so pretty, and...

... also in this one.

The clouds were so different the next day when we took pictures. This picture was taken near the airstrip and the place where a big mountain lodge is supposed to be built sometime.

I think I showed this one before in a previous blog, but it is my favorite one out of all of them. SO---now you've seen all of the beautiful views we saw when we were there. Hope you felt as if you were in the North Carolina mountains --at least for awhile.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Mountain Air Condo (NC)

I have done several posts about our weekend with George's son and family in North Carolina, which took place the weekend of July 10. As I mentioned in previous blogs, Mountain Air is a ritzy resort in the mountains of North Carolina --near Burnsville (northeast of Asheville). I blogged about Mountain Air Resort itself, about our picnic to the Pink Beds and also sliding at Sliding Rock. Today I'm going to show you some pictures we took from the condo. Above is a view from the deck---where we stayed most of the time when we were there. Below are more.

George enjoyed sitting on the deck. If there had been a bed out there, I'll bet we would have slept out there. SO gorgeous!!!

The deck--from the other direction; There was a bird feeder out there, but no birdseed!!! Darn!!!! I could hear TONS of birds in the distance while we were on the deck. The one I loved listening to was the Towhee (who sings "Drink Your Tea-he-he-he-he"). Have you heard this one????

The deck wraps around and there's another door which goes into the master bedroom.

Here's a view of the woodsy 'yard' around all of the condos. I was impressed that they built all of these condos ---and left all of the big trees and woods.

This is the side yard next to the condo. IF you look carefully, you can see (barely) the next set of condos on the top left. The builders did a great job at keeping the privacy.

Melissa had put together two large booklets filled with all kinds of 'projects' for the kids to participate in. She did it for their use on the long trip (from the Tampa area to NC--and back) --but they also worked on some of their projects at the condo. George and I were so impressed at how SMART both of these little boys are.

Bob and Melissa fixed meals for us that were fit for a king and queen... This particular night, they prepared chicken and hamburgers with all of the trimmings. Melissa's baked beans were to-die-for!!!! YUM!!!

As you can tell, I absolutely loved this condo and our weekend with Bob and family... Now it's time for the best part----the SUNSET!!!

The beginning of a beautiful sunset on Friday night, July 10

Oh---how pretty!!!! What a view we had from the deck!!! We sat outside even after dark--talking and drinking coffee.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh-----can I hear you saying that????? Is that sky not stunning???? Wow!!!! That was the end of a marvelous day and weekend, with those we love.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When it Rains, They Come!!!!

Yesterday, it rained off and on during the afternoon... As you know (from previous blogs), I always have alot of birds at all of my feeders most all of the time. BUT--they seem to REALLY be present when it is raining --or has rained. I sat on my recliner (my throne) and watched them for awhile ---while enjoying hearing the rain hit the roof and the deck. I enjoy rain--especially on Summer days when it cools things off , and on days like yesterday when we NEEDED the rain!

While sitting and watching the birds, I decided to take a few pictures to share. Above is a sweet picture of a little Tufted Titmouse. This may be a juvenile Tufted since we have alot of them around now, in addition to two little birds which I didn't get photos of yesterday (the Carolina Chickadee and the White-Breasted Nuthatch). Those three different birds flit in and out of the feeders all day long --even when it's not raining. More pictures are below.

We also have lots of House Finches (the one above is either a juvenile or a female) around now also.

Besides the House Finches, the Goldfinches come to the feeders almost constantly. I love the male Goldfinches in their bright yellow color.

Bluejays love the suet feeders. They usually announce themselves when they come. Sorry, but it's not a great picture-- since he had his bite and was flying away when I snapped it. Oh Well!!!!

Between showers, the male Cardinal decided to take a bath... I was surprised since I figured that he had gotten wet enough after all of the rain.

The Downy Woodpeckers (above) and the Red-bellied Woodpeckers take turns at one of the suet feeders. There was also a baby Downy at the suet feeder today but I didn't get a picture.

Do you remember my blog post talking about Pete and Petunia, my two Red-bellied Woodpeckers that were in our yard all winter???? First, there was Pete... I wasn't sure he had a mate... Later though, I met Petunia, and was so happy that Pete did indeed have a 'friend'... Pete and Petunia are both still with us (Petunia is the one pictured above) ---but now there is a little one (or maybe more than one)!!! See the next photo.

Meet PAT.... I had to name him/her Pat since I'm not sure whether it's a he or a she right now. For those who do not know Red-bellied Woodpeckers, the little ones don't have red on the top of their heads. An adult female has red on the front and on the back--but white in between. An Adult male has a red stripe all the way from the top of his head down to his back.

The Brown Thrashers still come to our suet feeders alot--off and on all day long. This is one of the little ones which were born about a month ago. Remember the nest in our Jasmine Bush in our front yard???? It's nice that the Thrashers are all still around!

Another picture of one of the baby Brown Thrashers. He sat on the top of the suet feeder for the longest time--just resting I guess. OR---maybe he was protecting the feeder so that other birds would stay away!!! ha

Hope you enjoyed my Rainy Day Birds!!!!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Ballard Family History

Some of you (if you have read my blogs for the past 3 yrs.) know that I LOVE working on Family History. I've always had an interest in details---so when I started seaching for family information, I just became addicted to it. First I worked on my mother's mother's side of the family (the Bruce's). I had much more information on that family. Then (in 2006-07) I started doing genealogy on my mother's father's side of the family, the Ballards.
I worked and worked and worked ----and could only find enough information that took me back to my Great Great Great Grandfather John Ballard (1772-1850). I ran into a brick wall trying to go any further... WELL---guess what???? I met a new cousin who found me due to some blogs I had written about the Ballards. Cousin Sue lives in Illinois ----and she and I are First Cousins Once Removed!!!! Our Grandfathers are brothers ---and we share the same Great Grandfather (William Alexander Ballard).
Isn't blogging just wonderful???? I would never have met Sue --except through the internet and my blogging. And here's the good news. Sue (through her research) helped me solve my mystery and crash my brick wall!!!!! Because of Sue, I now can take my Ballard Family history back to our 8 Great Grandfather, Thomas Ballard, who was born in 1630 in England. Is that not the neatest thing?????? I have been so excited.
The Ballards settled in and around Yorktown and Williamsburg, VA. I am learning more and more every single day about this neat family and its history. Above is a picture I featured in another blog when talking about the Ballards. I wanted you to see this picture again since the picture is of the Ballard Brothers. My grandfather (James Franklin Ballard) is the first one on the left. Sue's grandfather (Bland Eugene Ballard) is the 3rd one from the left. Below are more pictures with Ballard connections.

This is Bruton Parish Episcopal Church in Williamsburg, VA. Our 8 Great Grandfather Thomas Ballard is buried there ---and there's a bronze tablet in the interior of the church with his name, and his name is on the name plate of a pew. Isn't that special? I was in W'burg in 2007---and I saw this church, but at the time I didn't know Thomas was my direct line relative. Now I need to go back!!!!

This was taken inside Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, an active parish since 1715. Note the high pulpit.

This bronze lectern was given in 1907 by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt.

Here is a close-up of part of this bronze lectern. The American eagle is on one side, and the British lion is on the other.

The inside of the church; the altar and communion rail are of black walnut.

I am standing in one of the ‘high box pews’--where President Thomas Jefferson sat. I didn't realize at the time that Thomas Ballard had a pew marked with his name... Darn!!!!

The pews--with doors--were designed to give warmth in the unheated church. My George is standing at George Washington's pew.

Here's one more picture of Bruton Parish Church. Today there are over 1400 members. Bruton Parish gets its name from an English parish on the River Brue in Somerset, England.

In Yorktown, we found a Ballard Street and this house, The Ballard House. This house belonged to my 6Great Grandfather, John Ballard. John was married to Elizabeth Bland, who was the daughter of Rev. William Bland. Captain John Ballard was a merchant in Yorktown and a Captain of the Militia.

This is the Ballard girl standing outside of her 6 Great Grandfather's home in Yorktown, VA. When I was there, I was only wondering if this could be a relative... And now---I know it is!!!!!! Do I feel special????? Yes-Sir-Ree- Bob!!!!
Sue, thanks so much for contacting me. I hope we will meet someday.. Right now though---here's to the Ballard cousins!!!!! Yeah Rah!

Monday, July 27, 2009


Oh what an adventure this has been for me!!!!! (Read the previous two blogs---if you haven't done so!) Yesterday morning, during some sprinkly rain about 9 a.m., the bluebirds left their nest. I actually saw one of them fledge (maybe two) ---but of course, I didn't get a picture. Everything was happening so fast.. They say that once one of them fledges, they all do... And that is true. After seeing one of them on our deck, I knew that they were leaving. SO---I started looking around for any of the others. I was also keeping one eye on the one (or ones) left in the nest.

All six Bluebirds (Mom and Dad and 4 juveniles) were flying around all over the place ---watching the little ones and protecting them. They were dive-bombing squirrels and chipmunks, and making all kinds of noise ---but didn't seem to mind any of the other birds which were around (except for the Bluejays --which luckily weren't around in the morning).

All four of the babies headed toward our woodpile and the empty lot next door. After leaving the deck, we sat in our bedroom --looking down at them for a LONG time on that side of the house ---and George was able to get some pictures through the screen, using the zoom. It was just amazing to watch how the family took such good care of the little ones.

Here are yesterday's pictures. The one above is one of the cute little ones we found on our deck during the rain yesterday morning. I'm sure he was scared to death. But--isn't he cute? Below are other photos. Excuse the quality of some of the pictures ---but I still think they are good enough to share.

Here is one of the last ones to fledge... The one I saw actually flew about 25-30 feet before landing on our woodpile.

Daddy would come by and feed the little one ---probably urging him to come on out into the big ole' world!!!!

I love the expression on his face.... I'm sure he doesn't want to leave that safe nest!

Daddy had to work hard (don't know where Mama was --unless she was with or near the ones who have already fledged)... Daddy kept coming back and having a little 'discussion' with the baby bird I'm sure.

"Okay-Okay---Darn it!!!! I'm coming out!!!" (And very soon he did!)

Here's another picture of the little one who was on our deck. As I said, it was raining ---and he was shaking... Poor little guy.. He finally jumped down into the Rhododendron bush--and then went toward the empty lot from there.

Here's one more of the baby on our deck. Oh how pitaful... This little guy hadn't ever felt rain before I'm sure. He just looked so sad ---and scared...

One of the babies ended up on this big tree near the woodpile. He stayed there for the longest time...

A close-up (although a little blurry) of the baby Bluebird hanging onto the side of the tree

Now Daddy Bluebird checks out one of the fledglings. I'm sure he's reassuring the baby that things will all be okay!!!!

Now--there are two fledglings hanging onto the tree.

Another fledgling is on the ground hopping around near the woodpile... You can only imagine all of the activity that is going on at this moment---with the bluebirds trying to keep up with the fledglings and getting them all together. They all ended up in the trees in our empty lot next door. I'm sure they are safe --and being well-taken care of. Some of the juveniles and adults did come to our feeders off and on most of the day.

I close with a picture of Daddy Bluebird watching those babies VERY closely. The Eastern Bluebirds are a fairly quiet, easy-going bird UNTIL something threatens their young .. (I guess that most all birds are like this!) BUT--when agitated, the Bluebirds do whatever is needed in order to protect the young ones. I was impressed ----and thoroughly enjoyed this entire process.

I did read that Bluebirds take the fledglings AWAY from the nest for awhile --so that they aren't tempted to go back!!!! SO---I assume they won't be around for a litle while.

Today, I feel a little sad though (guess I'm having a Pity Party) since I miss watching them so much. I feel like it's the day after Christmas!!!! ha ha .... BUT--maybe (just maybe) they will come back and do it all one more time. AND--if that happens, we should have about 10 Bluebirds all helping (8 Juveniles and 2 Adults). How 'bout that?????

Hope I haven't bored you to death with my Bluebirds. I have learned so much about them and have truly enjoyed watching their every move. (Now---it's back to cleaning the bathrooms!!! ha)