Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month is a picture of one of my favorite birds, the Eastern Bluebird. He looks cold, doesn't he????? Welcome to January!!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Upper and Lower Double Culvert Branch Falls, GA

On  our way TO Ocean Isle Beach on May 5, 2012,   we made another trip to the mountains of North Georgia to see some new waterfalls.    We visited this area on 2/14/12 --but knew that there are other waterfalls to see there!!!!  This area is near Helen, GA  (White County) and the Unicoi State Park.....

WELL--we tried to enter the forest service road at the same place we went in February..  But--to our surprise,  they had that road closed.... Hmmmmmm... So --as we do alot,  we went to Plan B.... We went to another entrance into the area.

What a nice route... We followed the Chattahoochee River up the mountain on Forest Road 44.   AND ---we were able to park and walk down to the river... What a fun surprise for us that day!!!!

These two waterfalls are on the way (off of Forest Road 44) toward Horsetrough Falls.  Since we hadn't been this way before,  these were two new waterfalls for us...

Today,  I'll share some pictures from these stops along Forest Road 44.   Be sure to click on the pictures in order to see enlargements.   Above is a picture of the Chattahoochee River ---where we stopped to take pictures along our way.




I took this picture of George along the Chattahoochee River...  You can see that the river is quite small here...  It heads south from here,  gets larger --and heads all the way to  Lake Seminole in Florida.  It then spills into the Gulf of Mexico as the Apalachicola River. 




Here's another picture of the little rapids of the Chattahoochee River.




George took this picture of me trying to do some rock-hopping at the Chattahoochee River.  (This girl seriously needs some clothes that fit her.... We have about 35-40 sets of matching t-shirts --and they are all too big for me now... AND--those shorts have to be held up with a belt!!!!! ha ha ---- I'm not complaining though since I desperately needed to lose some weight!!!)




The Mountain Laurel along the road was really beautiful when we were there.




When we got to the area where we parked to hike to the waterfalls,  the first thing we saw was this gorgeous little cascade.... Neat, huh?




Lower Double Culvert Branch Falls  --30 feet high
The hike to the two waterfalls was short ---but steep, and quite wet and slick.... I stopped at the first waterfall and George made it to the 2nd one.  However, he fell---and if you saw some scratches on his legs on our Ocean Isle photos,  you'll know what happened to him.  He didn't get hurt --but did get scratched and dirty!!!!!   (He loves to tell our friends that "I" scratched him!!!!! ha ha )




Upper Double Culvert Branch Falls--40 feet high
Here is the Upper Falls...  As I said,  I didn't see this one ---but I'm glad that George made it up there on that steep trail.... I certainly have enjoyed seeing his pictures though.  While I waited on him,  I enjoyed the little cascade (pictured two photos above).   That is more my style!!!! ha ha

After seeing these two waterfalls,   we headed on toward Horsetrough Falls (saw it again --which looked so different than it looked when we saw it in February).  We also hiked and saw 3 other waterfalls near there..  That will be on another blog post...

It was a great day for waterfalls (5 new ones total plus Horsetrough Falls) ---and a nice break while on our way to the beach.

Hope you have a nice weekend.  Try to stay COOL.   It's horribly hot here (hotter than I can remember since we moved here in 2003) and VERY VERY dry.....   BUT--- there are areas of the country struggling much worse than we are.  Prayers for the people effected by the fires in Colorado (and other places) --and also for the people who had flooding and/or damage in Florida due to  tropical storm, Debby.  I'll see you on Monday!
Hugs,
Betsy

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pretty Little Pansies

I've talked quite a bit about how much we love our PANSIES... This is the only annual that we plant now --since we have so many perennials.  (I used to plant Impatiens --but the rabbits kept eating it, so I gave up on that idea!)

We buy our Pansies in the late Fall --and plant them in the three round flowerbeds in our front yard ---and a few in other places around the yard.    Unless we have a VERY VERY cold winter (which seldom happens here),  the Pansies will make it through the winter---and will bloom until the heat of Summer kills them.

Today I'll share you some of this year's Pansies.   All of these pictures were taken around June 8, 2012.  Hope you enjoy seeing these little beauties...  The picture above is of our Lamppost Flowerbed in the middle of our front yard.  The Pansies are sharing space with all of our beautiful Lilies.  In the other flowerbed featured below,  the Pansies shared space with Daffodils...  Be sure and click on the pictures to see enlargements.






















Hope you enjoyed seeing some of the Pansies in our yard.  I am sorry to report that they are all gone now since we have had some horribly hot weather the past couple of weeks.  BUT--they are wonderful little plants to have around for about 8 months or more.   AND---they do provide a little color to our yard in the drab winter months.

Have a great day.
Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lilies in our Yard

Gosh---it's hard for me to say which of our perennial flowers I love the most...  I love all of them (Daffodils, Crocuses, Hyacinths, Tulips, Irises, etc.) ----but the Lilies and Daylilies are WAY at the top of my list, especially the Lilies.  Right now,  we have 18 different varieties of Lilies which have bloomed so far,  with more to come!!!!

I have already shown you 3 of the lily varieties  (click HERE to see them)---so today,  I'll show you more of these beauties,  all of which have bloomed in our yard this past month..  The picture above is a favorite this year (PINK PERFECTION) ---not only because of its beauty,  but because this lily is HUGE  and TALL....  Be sure to click on the pictures to see them larger.





George is about 6'4"----and the PINK PERFECTION lilies are taller than he is.... These lilies are in the road flowerbed in the front...  They are awesome!!!




Here's a close-up of PINK PERFECTION.  Aren't they beautiful?




Here's a reddish lily named  RED TWINKLE...  This lily is located on the side flowerbed (where many of our lilies are located).  I love the color of this one.




Here is a picture of several different lily (and daylily) varieties.    These are in the side flowerbed  in the back (near the deck).... I love sitting on the deck admiring these beauties...




One of the lilies you can see in the previous picture is named MADONNA (the white ones pictured above).  We have many of these lilies and they smell incredible!!!!




Butterflies love lilies...  This little butterfly was going from one FREEDOM GLOW lily to the next...




This is another picture of all of the lilies (and daylilies) in our side flowerbed.  This is looking toward the front yard...   This is the view I can see from the kitchen window... That makes washing dishes much nicer!!!!!!ha




And, finally here is another pink lily  (named PINK LEMONADE) that is very pretty.  George took this one ---after we had had some rain... I always love seeing the raindrops on our flowers...

Hope you enjoyed seeing today's post showing more of our beautiful Lilies... I'll do a post soon showing some of our Daylilies and more of our Lilies...

Thanks so much for all of the well-wishes we received (Friday's Blog--click HERE if you missed it).   We had a fabulous weekend celebrating our 11th anniversary on Saturday.  As you can imagine,  we took TONS of photos ---so that will be coming up soon!!!!  Hope you had as great a weekend as we did.  Thanks again!!

Have a fabulous day.
Hugs,
Betsy

Friday, June 22, 2012

Life just keeps Gettin' Better!!!

Once upon a time in the southwestern corner of Virginia (Big Stone Gap to be exact),   a little girl was born on August 5, 1942....  Her name:  Elizabeth Bruce Banks (called Betsy by her parents). 




And,  in another corner of the country in Crown Point, Indiana,  a little boy was born on March 9, 1942.  His name:  George Emery Adams.




The little girl grew up and graduated from high school in May of 1960,  in her hometown in Virginia.  Her interests:  MUSIC  (piano, clarinet and singing).




The little boy also grew up and graduated from high school in 1960,  in his hometown in Indiana.  His interests:  READING and STUDYING (he was the Valedictorian of his class).




She attended college at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, TN and graduated with a BA degree in Music (vocal) and Education in May of 1964.   (By this time,  she was married and already had one son.  However, she did go back to school for her Master's degree later.)




He attended college at Manchester College   in North Manchester, Indiana,  and graduated with a BA degree in Mathematics in  1963...  (The 'smart one' graduated in 3 yrs. before getting his master's degree,  and later working on his doctorate.)

Both the girl and the boy went on to have great lives from the middle '60's until they met in January of 2001.  The boy married and had 2 children (a boy and a girl),  and the girl married and had 3 sons.

Then in October of 2000,   the boy interviewed for a new job near Hendersonville,  TN.  AND--the girl interviewed for a new job in Hendersonville, TN.   (Little did they know that God was working hard at getting them together)...  He took his job and began working in December.  She also took her job and began working the end of December.

They met on January 7,   had their first date on March 29-----and look what happened on JUNE 23, 2001.........


May I introduce Mr. and Mrs. George Emery Adams.  Married outdoors beside the Tennessee River in Knoxville, TN,  at a ceremony only attended by family,  the boy and girl exchanged vows that each of them had written themselves.  The two became ONE!




Here is that happy couple on their wedding day.  Tomorrow will mark their 11th wedding anniversary ----and even though they both had happy lives before they met,  they say that these eleven years together have been absolutely fabulous for both of them.




Here's one example of 'life with Betsy and George' now!!!  This picture was taken at Cedar Falls Park on May 11, 2012 at Simpsonville, SC.    This is only one of WAY OVER 500 different waterfalls they have visited during these 11 years together.  As you can tell,  both the boy and the girl definitely have a PASSION for waterfalls---along with a passion for each other.

Last year at this time,  they were on a 3 week trip out west... BUT--after evaluating that SUMMER trip,  they decided to make their 'long' trips during another season.  It's too darn hot and there are too many people around during the summer...  SO---they will be celebrating this Anniversary here in Tennessee ---and hope to take a longer trip in September this year.

This is the story about two people who met when both of them were 59 years old... SO--anyone looking for love should never give up.  It CAN happen and it DID for us.  With God at the center of our lives and with lots of love for each other,  this boy and this girl hope to have many, many more wonderful years together...  But--since life doesn't give any guarantees,  they always try to make the most out of every minute they have...

Happy 11th Anniversary to a Virginia girl and an Indiana boy who became ONE on June 23, 2001....

Have a wonderful weekend ----and you know that  we will!!!!!  I'll see you on Monday.

Hugs,
Betsy

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The First 18 Days in the Life of a Baby Bluebird

Well----many of you know that our first batch of baby Bluebirds disappeared a couple of months ago.  After that happened (we think it may have been a snake) ---we bought a new baffle to put on our nestbox pole.

Daddy Blue found himself a new woman ---and they immediately tried again... I didn't take a photo but I peeked into the nest and saw 5 little eggs toward the end of May.  I was so excited---yet a little worried,   just hoping and praying that this little batch would make it!!!  But I was also excited to be able to use my new toy.

In April, George bought us a Radio Frequency Shutter Release...  To put that in 'my' terms,  it's like a remote control for the camera... I can set the tripod up near a spot (like the nestbox) ---and sit WAY back out of the way.  When one of the birds would go to the nest,  I would CLICK that photo...

Above is a picture of my 'set-up'.   You can see the nestbox with the new baffle --and you can see my camera and tripod.... Needless to say I have spent some time in the backyard watching these busy Bluebirds  this month.  




Five Bluebird babies ---born on June 1, 2012
On June 1st ,   I looked in the nest and there were 5 precious little baby birds  (pictured  above)... I had done my research and knew that  on Day 5-8,  they open their eyes;  on Day 13-14,  they begin making blue feathers;  on Day 14,  some of the babies start looking out of the nestbox;  and they can fledge anytime between Day 16-21,  typically on Day 17 or 18.  If you read my blog post from June 4 (click HERE),   I predicted that these little bluebirds would fledge (leave the nest) on June 18th....Guess what????  I was RIGHT!!!!




Five Bluebird babies ---10 days old
Here is the only other picture I took of the Bluebird babies, inside the nest.  (Be sure to click on this one to enlarge it.)    I'm always afraid to open the lid --for fear of scaring them and making them try to fly out.   This picture was taken on June 10.   I marked all five of these little guys for you to see... See how much they have grown in 10 days??????  They are even getting some feathers.  Imagine how crowded the nest got by Day 18!!!

By the way,  Bluebirds are VERY clean birds.  Both parents feed the little ones,  and Daddy takes the fecal sac (poop) out of the nest ALOT....




Daddy Blue feeding the babies
As you can imagine,  I took probably 175 pictures of the Bluebirds this month....  I want to share with you a few more ---leading up to  their day of leaving the nest.

This picture shows Daddy bringing some delicious food to the babies...  I think it may be suet --since the Bluebirds love to get the suet and take it to the nestbox...




Mama Blue feeding the little ones
Here is a picture of Mama at the nestbox.  You can tell that Mama Bluebird has much more gray in her than Daddy's vivid blue color.




Bluebird peeking out of the nestbox
These are always some of my favorite photos.... I love seeing those new babies looking out at this big ole' world.....  Can you just imagine what they are thinking?????   Bet they are afraid... I would be,  wouldn't you?




Welcome to the world,  Baby Blue!!!!
Aren't they just precious????   Can you imagine my excitement getting to see all of this????  I will say that Mom and Dad Blue (mostly Dad) were both VERY VERY protective of these little ones,  as fledging day drew nearer.   Dad actually dive-bombed me when I got too close to the nestbox on Sunday.   I looked up at Dad and said: "Hey You---don't you know that I'm the woman who FEEDS you?????"  ha ha




One of the Baby Bluebirds in the grass --after leaving the nest
I had George helping me take pictures on Monday morning --when they all left the nest...  George got all of the way flat on the ground to get this photo of one of the little ones.   (George will say:  "See what I do for love?"  ha ha)




Baby Bluebird --in the grass,  after fledging--on June 18, 2012
Finally,  here's a good one I got of one of the little babies.   Isn't this just awesome?  Look back at what they looked like 18 days before...    Such a huge change....  Isn't he a Cutie???

I did see one of the little ones actually leave the nest --but didn't get a picture.   BUT--I'm hoping to see them at our bird feeders in a few weeks --once they learn how to fly well and once Mom/Dad bring them here to eat.

Now---I wonder if Dad/Mom will try again!!!!   Sometimes they do and sometimes not... I'll just have to wait and see!!!!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As if this is not enough excitement around here,  we are also getting a new deck --and getting our house painted....    SO---all of our birds are not going to be very happy with all of the excitement around here for a few weeks....   Fun Fun !!!!!

Have a wonderful day.

Hugs,
Betsy

Monday, June 18, 2012

What do you SEE in the Smokies???

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is AWESOME....  There is SO much to see!!  You might see some crazy people wearing matching t-shirts, hiking in the rain!!!!!  (Wonder who??)  OR--you might see some other neat hikers!  OR---you may see some gorgeous cascades and/or waterfalls.   OR---maybe you'll see some wildlife ---like a BEAR!!!! Hmmmmm....

Today I'll share with you some things which we saw while hiking next to the Little River,  above the Elkmont Campground,  on a RAINY day on May 22, 2012. 

The picture above shows that you may see some gorgeous little WILDFLOWERS.  We saw several different ones along the way.  These look like little WILD ROSES.




You may see a big boulder filled with HOLES.... What's up with that?????  Think that could be where a woodpecker sharpens his beak?????  Nah---don't think so!!!! ha




You can see lots of MOSS and FERNS!!!  Some of the rocks were completely covered with moss.  Everything was so lush and so green... Gorgeous!




OR if you look closely,  you can see a WHALE!!!!   (Go with me here and put on your Imagination Caps!!!)




Maybe you can see some GRASS growing on top of ROCKS..... Goodness,  we have a hard time getting grass to grow in some of the spots in our yard... How does it grow on top of ROCKS??????? Mercy Me!




There is a beautiful WINDOW in these rocks...  Maybe I should buy some curtains... What do you think???  (It's really two fish kissing each other!!!!! ha ha )




Wanna count the rocks down in this river????  Isn't it amazing how CLEAR that water is?  WOW!!!!!




Finally,  you really need to use your imagination here.....  I see a TURTLE next to a very skinny ALLIGATOR...  Can you see them????  HINT:  The alligator is BROWN.  The turtle is right next to the gator ---to the right,  with his head on the gator's back!!!!!  REMEMBER:  Use your imaginations!!!!!

Now ---can you believe what all one can see while hiking in the Smokies?????  Isn't it fun??   Do you 'see'????  all kinds of wonderful things when you are hiking????  It's just so much fun being out in nature ---even when it rains!!!!

Hope you had a great Father's Day yesterday.   That day is always a little sad for me since I miss my Daddy so much.  He's been gone since 1969---but he was so very special to me... HOWEVER,  George and I did celebrate Father's Day  by going out to dinner at the state park restaurant here.  YUM!!!!

Have a wonderful day.
Hugs,
Betsy