11 July, 2010

In Georgia

Hello from my hometown of Elberton, Georgia. I am visiting my mother this week. She is the only one of my family that still lives in the town where my father, who was career army, was last stationed. This was basically where my younger brother and I grew up and where my older sisters finished high school. Before moving here, my family lived on Okinawa, in Texas, and in Oklahoma. I consider Elberton my hometown since I lived here from ages 5 through 17, when I moved a whopping 35 miles away to go to college in Athens, Georgia.

Elberton bills itself as “The Granite Capital of the World”, which is only a bit of hyperbole. Elberton actually does produce more granite monuments (mostly tombstones) than any other place in the world, as you can see proudly proclaimed on the sign in the photo below.

That is not a cemetary in the photo above; it is a display of fine monuments that have been commitioned for future use in cemetaries or as examples of fine sculpting and engraving.

The Georgia Guidestones are the biggest granite display from Elberton. The Guidestones (click here to get to Wikipedia's entry) are Elberton’s answer to Stonehenge. ;-) This site  has a very detailed accounting of the history of the Guidestones with many photos and drawings. They are actually pretty cool, I think. Some folks got very upset about them, believing that they were satanic. Go figure.

It was too hot today to spend much time outside, but I did take a couple of photos around my mother’s house. Not too many plants in bloom in this heat, but I did find a pretty light pink Rose of Sharon.

And this scraggly climbing fern (for Bill in Louisiana).

And this pretty kalanchoe in bloom inside her house.

This is not the house I grew up in. She sold that house 10 years ago to rent this smaller house just down the street. It is almost adjacent to the elementary school my brother and I attended. Here is one of the famous Elberton granite monuments (non-tombstone) for the school. ;-)

I also found the pear tree that bore the juiciest pears way back when I went to this school. During recess in the autumn months, we school kids would pick the ripe pears from the branches that hung over onto the school playground. I can’t believe that it is still alive, much less that it is loaded with fruit that will ripen in months to come.

The pear tree outlasted the school. Maybe that monument is a tombstone afterall.  The school buildings and grounds are still present, but they are now a private residence.

I will close with a photo of my favorite tree. It is a big old oak on the playground of the school. During summers when I was a child, I would take whatever book I was reading and climb the tree to read in peace and quiet. I would need a ladder to get up that tree (or any tree!) these days …

04 July, 2010


Saturday morning we discovered that our house had been broken into during the night. The burglars had taken a screen down from one of the windows in the sunroom and climbed in through the open window. You can see the screen and open window in the photo below.
That’s the screen leaning against the ponytail palm and the window is open to the outside. Obviously the work of professionals because the screen remained undamaged, just dexterously and neatly removed from the window frame.
They knocked over the bird feeders that I bring in every night and seed spilled out onto the floor. I don’t know why that racket didn’t wake us up, but it didn’t. Nothing else was disturbed, not even the watering pitcher right next to the feeders.  Oddly, much of the seed seems to be missing ...
I had my suspicions as to who the perpetrators were and soon found evidence of their well-known sweet tooth -- the spilled hummingbird feeder on the ground just outside the open window.

And then, the smoking gun, or sticky paw prints, in this case; one the patio steps and others on the wall next to the window.
Very likely made by this individual caught on surveillance camera just days earlier while obviously casing the joint. 
 We'll be keeping our sunroom windows closed at night now ...

03 July, 2010

Belize Bird of the Week #10 – Blue-grey Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)

Tanagers are new world birds that are found mainly in the tropics. The 240 or so species of tanager are medium sized birds and many of them are quite colorful. Tanagers are in the family Thraupidae, which is in the midst of reorganization as scientists learn more about their genetics. In North America, the scarlet tanager is the most common, but the scarlet tanager is now thought to belong to the cardinal family.

The blue-grey tanager is fairly common throughout its large range from southern Mexico, through Central America and into the northern part of South America. They eat fruit, insects, and nectar. You can see it eating the cercropia fruit in one of the photos below. Blue-grey tanagers are friendly and confiding. Like the great kiskadee I wrote about a few weeks ago, blue-grey tanagers often live around human habitation.

All of the photos in the collage below are of one bird as it was hopping around in a Cercropia tree near our cabana. It is a very pretty bird with the blue above and grey below, but the large cercropia leaves shaded the splendor of the blue. I am anxious to get back to Belize to photograph it in more flattering light.