Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carrots for Christmas

Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium today
I am excited to belong to the Eastern Pennsylvania Phenology project, recording the timing of seasonal events such as leaf budding, bloom times, and bird arrivals. I wrote about my blog's new purpose in March in the posting, Phenology: My New Favorite Science. (Please click on the highlighted print here for information.) Unfortunately, because I spent most of the last three months in England, I missed the unusual mild spell that occurred this December in NE Pennsylvania which followed an 'odd Autumn'.  As I looked around my garden today, though, I found evidence that this winter season had an unusual beginning, including buds on the blueberry bushes and spring bulbs making an appearance.

Crocus - December 27, 2011
Daffodil - December 27, 2011
 We planted a weeping redbud last spring...

Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud tree, Cercis canadensis "Covey"
        ... on my recent return from England I found it looking interesting but rather bare sans leaves. 

also known as Twisted Lavender Redbud

On closer inspection, are those spring buds I see?

I am so happy with this redbud and can't wait until spring when it is in bloom. Meanwhile, I love the winter interest that the bark provides.

Back to the phenology project: A few miles south of here, dandelions are blooming, and new leaves have been spotted on the elderberries!

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is way down this year, and this is true in my garden. Early morning brings a few visitors to H.H.'s bird feeder, suet and heated water dish, but there are far less than usual for December. I photographed only three or four this morning ...
Downy woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse

I spotted some sweet black-capped chickadees in the woodland walk, but haven't managed to capture them on camera yet.

One benefit of the mild weather is that the ground isn't yet frozen. This enabled H.H. to dig up some neglected carrots in the kitchen garden. Fresh, home-grown carrots with Christmas dinner -- a pleasant surprise.

It is great to be back in the USA and blogging again! Thank you so much, dear friends, for your good wishes and prayers during my three-month ordeal in England. My 92-year-old mother had a fall in September, then a mini stroke, which necessitated a long spell in the hospital. Mom lives alone and, as I am an only child, there really isn't any one else for her. I worked hard to make her house safe for her return from hospital, including replacing the coal fire with central heating, but soon found she needed more care. She didn't want to go into a home, but chose a flat in a beautiful sheltered-accommodation facility where there is 24-hour care. I packed and moved her possessions (she lived in that house for 40+ years, so a lot of boxes went to the charity shop). I installed her in her new flat two weeks ago. She is settling in, but it is a big change for her. However, I am feeling less worried about her now that she is in a safer place.

I am still feeling exhausted and I'm sleeping a great deal. I made three trips across the Atlantic in such a short time, and I am too old for all this jet-setting. But I had a wonderful, relaxed Christmas. Today, I will relax further as I visit all your wonderful blogs!

I hope your holidays are very merry and I wish you a healthy, and blessed 2012!

Pamela x

Black-eyed Junco

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Hi Pam,

    Glad to hear you've had a relaxed Christmas and that your mother is ok.
    I used to work for the City's Sheltered Housing - well I was a housing officer - and from what I could see they were all very nice and some were highly actively places, others not so. I imagine your mother is in a private sheltered scheme instead so I can well imagine she is enjoying it! (I considered moving into the sheltered accomodation myself! haha)

    Please take some of my House Sparrows; we've too many and they're still eateng like Elephants!

  2. Although it must have been an exhausting time mentally, as well as physically for you, I'm glad that your mother is settled and safe. That has to be a big weight off your mind. I hope she continues to make gains in her recovery. I think winter has not quite hit us yet. The plants sometimes seem to be as surprised as we are by a late freeze, but the birds always seem to have a better sense than us. Since the bird count is down, I would guess that they know spring is not close. (At least, that's my theory!) :) Your carrots looks yummy!

  3. Hi Pam! I'm glad you are home! I am also so glad you visited your Mom! You are such a good daughter. I wish you and your Mom all the very best in 2012!
    Our winter is warm and dry as never before. My geraniums are still outside! I hope we won't have any surprises later.
    Thanks for your nice pictures. Your garden is almost ready for the spring!

  4. Liz, It's my understanding that all care homes and sheltered accommodation facilities are private now, because of local authority budget cuts. Mom's is brand new, advertised as 'luxury apartments' - they are lovely flats. But the best part is the care that is given -- carers spend time with her in her flat at least 4 times each day. They take her to the communal lounge where she has tea with the other residents and there are all types of activities. She can participate if she wishes. She eats in the dining room (better than the frozen dinners she was having). I am ready to move there ... ha. ha.

    Thanks for your good wishes everyone! P. x

  5. Pam, Glad to have you back with at least some peace of mind about your mother. As you can tell, winter hasn't come to PA. Maybe it was waiting for you. Happy New Year, Carolyn

  6. A relief that your mother is (happily?) settled, now you can take some time to catch up, and care for your own health. Have a very happy new year, may all go well!

  7. Thank you, Diana. You are right to question my mother's happiness. I am sorry to say her overwhelming emotion seems to be one of confusion. This is the result of early-stage dementia which is a terrible affliction. But she does feel safer now she is not alone, and her safety has become my top priority. Happy new year to you, too. P. x

  8. You've been in my thoughts, Pam, so I'm so happy to hear how you've been getting on in England. It sounds like your mum is in the best place for her. I know it can be a wrench having to leave a home where she's been living for over forty years, my mum and dad have done the same thing a few months ago. They're in a lovely two bedroomed apartment now, and although it isn't sheltered accomodation, there is someone on call if they are needed. I'm so pleased to hear that you've had a relaxed Christmas, it will be a weight off your mind knowing that your mum is in the best place for her.

  9. My best to you and your Mom and hope for a restful new year. I look forward to your posts.

  10. How wonderful for you to take care of your mother. I am glad things seem to have worked out for her and you feel happier. Actually I have been away too, and gone to Russia on family business as well, so I know how you feel. I was happy as well to have a quiet Christmas with my family.

  11. It's so lovely to see buds forming in winter - gives you hope unlike anything else! All the best for the New Year.

  12. It is heart-wrenching when a person must leave their home and move into a care facility. I had to help my mother with those decisions several years ago, and now it is my mother-in-law who needs me. She is in an Alzheimer's Care unit. Thankfully I can visit her often. I pray all will go well with you and your mother. Best wishes for 2012.

  13. Dear Pam -its fascinating recording the seasonal changes, even the confused ones. However, the enormity of the changes you've had to make on your mother's behalf are much greater than I'd understood til now. You'll need the replenishment of the garden, with carrots and familiar sights. Love and best wishes for the New Year. Laura x

  14. It is a joy to read this post and to hear that you mum is recovering and settling in. I know its hard to keep pace when such distance seperates us from our loved ones. Fresh Carrots for Christmas sounds wonderfully delicioius. Happy New Year to you and your family.!

  15. I'm sorry to read about your mom, but glad that she is better and being cared for while you're back in the States. That must be such a relief for you!
    I'm looking forward to reading more of your observations for the phenology project.
    I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and best wishes for 2012!

  16. Pam, I am going through this exact same thing with my Mom. Just got her settled in a what sounds very similar to your Mom's place, but it is attached to the nursing home where my father is. They can visit in her room very comfortably.

    A huge adjustment and my brother is currently working on selling my parents home - and we are dealing with the boxes. Many will go to charities as well.

    So, rest as much as you can. You've done a wonderful thing for you Mom.


    PS - Don't bother checking my blog...there is nothing new on there! ;)

  17. Hi Pam, I'm glad you're home, and your mother is in a safer place for her. The flats sound nicer than a nursing home. I hope all remains well for you and her, and you are able to get some rest. Merry Christmas my friend. It has been a weird winter here too. I saw the spring bulbs bursting through the soil, but January and February are our worst months. Take care.~~Dee

  18. Glad you are back home Pam. I will be looking forward to you recording too. I like you bird images and sorry to hear the count is down. I have not noticed less up here yet. I even saw some geese that I thought would be gone by now.

    In 2012, I plan to photograph each day and try to record temperatures if possible. I am so interested if things occur out of sync and at differing times than expected. We have been having no snow cover and I am betting the winter will give a few big surprises.

  19. Very glad to have you back Pam and glad to hear you've got your mom settled. It has been some strange weather everywhere it seems and the garden even this far north had some plants putting out flowers when they should have been long closed down for the season. Best wishes for you and your family in the new year.

  20. It will be so much less worrying for you now that your Mum is under good care. Glad you had a nice Christmas. Here in Ireland the weather is mild this Winter, lots of stuff already budding. An early Spring would be lovely.
    Lots of good wishes to you and yours for the New Year.
    Bridget x

  21. WoW! You are a jetsetter!! Happy New Year to you...now RELAX xx

  22. Welcome back! That redbud almost looks like its planted upside down. Its a wild looking thing, something I definitely haven't seen!

    On the weather, we haven't had a night below 42 degrees here and the hydrangeas still have leaves on them. It is very very odd, particularly after having 2 successive years of abnormally cold.

  23. Pam, A busy schedule has kept me from blogging and reading blogs much lately, so I wasn't aware of your mother's health problems. I lived overseas when my parents had serious health issues - it's tough being so far away. I'm glad she's happily settled into a place where she can get the care she needs. Wishing you a 2012 filled with hope!

  24. Happy New Year Pam! I'm glad you are back safe and sound and happy to hear that you have found a good place for your Mother. May God bless you abundantly in this new year and bring you all the peace, joy and rest that you need. I look forward to visiting your post this year. I can't wait to see those Redbuds in bloom they are one of my favorite flowering trees!