A Journal Of
Fishing and Farming
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Richard Loller

Well, I finally decided it was time to do something about the osteoarthritis in my left hip.  I'd been waiting, as the doctor said to do, until it got bad enough that the operation seemed a better option.  It was done on Valentine's Day, February 14.  Makes it easy to remember.  Then, not long after that, I had to wear a mask to go back for physical therapy.  Since then it's been stay home and watch birds and take exciting trips to the store or the library. Whoohoo.  Still, we are well and hoping that all of you are too.  This too shall end, as the philosopher said.

January 9.   Here is a white-throated sparrow that came to visit.  He or she spent a lot of time on our deck. Here's a view of the back side.  Not such a dull bird as you would think a sparrow would be.
January 10.  Typical Nashville winter.  Dark and wet and cold.  These are the seed pods of our sycamore tree that grows on our river bank and shades the deck in warm weather.  They will burst this spring and millions of little allergy agents will waft here and there and up my nose. Here is a shot of one of the most handsome of the birds we have around here--the male towhee.  They pretty much keep to the brush and weeds in summer but don't mind a free feed this time of year.  The video below also shows Mrs. Towhee who visited now and then.  Here's a video of both of them.

January 25.  Daughter Travis at her house next door got a shot of this young raccoon making his/her way to their feeder. They sure are cute but can do a lot of damage. January 31.  After many years of trying we finally got speed humps installed on the street.  Since Pennington Bend is level with only a few gentle curves, hot-shot speeders used to try out their cars down here.  Not so much now.  Thanks Councilman Jeff Syracuse.
February 13.  Sherry heard a thump! and found two male red birds had banged into our bedroom window.  The one on the left eventually got his senses back and flew off.
However, this pretty thing must have broken its neck because it never moved again.  All because of fighting over the bird feeder where there is plenty of food for all.  Altogether too much like humans. Sad.
February 14, Valentine's Day.  Today I got my new titanium left hip joint.  The doctor was Craig Morrison and the hospital was Centennial.  Everything about the facilities and service from initial consultation through physical therapy and recovery was first rate.  Even the food was good.Here is a view of my scar on the 22nd.  I had little pain and not too much discomfort.  I did my physical therapy at SJRI
as well and was pleased with my therapist.  I am still doing my excercises at home and that leg is now better than the right one.  A good experience altogether, which is great since I will have to have the right hip done sooner or later.

March 21.  Sherry arranges the nicest little flower shows for me.  This one is one of the best of all. April 4.  I was trying to trap a groundhog who was nosing around our old house at 2213,  the one we rent as a vacation rental.  They have tunneled under the house before and that is not good for the wiring or insulation. Instead I caught this possum and a squirrel.  They got off easy.  But no groundhog.

April 5.  Here is the start of my garden.  Got a late start planting lettuce but it did OK until the heat got it in late June.  On the botom left is last year's kale that is still good and on the top left are collard greens, just now going to seed. April 8.  Got up about 4 a.m. to do what old guys have to do in the middle of the night, and it was so bright outside I looked and this beautiful full moon was shining through the sycamore branches.  Worth getting up for.
April 12.  Carpenter bees did a lot of damage to the woodwork on our front porch last year, so this year I bought a trap.  As you can see it does the job. I don't like killing these guys, but I also don't like having to climb a very high ladder to plug up their holes and paint over them.  Later Sherry found a better solution.  You'll see it below under July 29.
April 17.  Two big trees up the street on land that Metro bought after the flood were being overpowered by hugh growths of ivy.  I decided to cut the ivy at the root and, fortuantely, my neighbor Jonathan, who has a chain saw,  helped me. As you can see from the picture at the left, it wasn't an easy job.  But between my ax and Jonathan's chain saw we cleaned both trees.  The ivy is now dead and will probably all fall off the trees next winter.
April 18.  I found this sick cat in the yard of our old house.  It's four doors down the road from our new house and I have my garden in the yard down there.  I emailed the neighbors to find out whose it might be.  Nobody claimed it but some one called animal rescue.  But it had died before they got there.April 20.  A rare visit to the feeder by this indigo bunting. We get one of these every year about this time.  They never come but once or twice and don't stay long.  Sure are pretty, though.
May 2, Derby Day.  Well, as you probably know, this year the Derby was run by animation using the triple crown winners from past seasons.  My son arranged a betting pool and Sherry and I both lost.  We did our best to get into the spirit with real mint julips topped with daughter Travis's . . .mint and served in our silver goblets.  Beth and Jonathan from next door helped us watch on the computer.  They are from Kentucky, and Beth has been to almost every Derby since she was old enough to go. Oh well.  Maybe next year she can go again (or maybe not!).
May 7, My birthday.  We had a 6-foot-spacing birthday on our deck that included a fabulous peach pie and ice cream...  made by son-in-law James (that's the kind of son-in-law to have!). Travis, James, Zinnia, Elizabeth, Puppy, and Ray Ray attended and helped us celebrate my 79th.  Whew!

Here's the yummy pie James made with the season's first peaches.  And he also made the ice cream, his specialty, to go with it.  What better birthday gift could I get? . May 7.  My birthday turkey.  Went to get the mail and this young hen turkey was crossing our driveway.  We still see turkeys now and then, but not as many as we used to.
May 11.  With both the Donelson library and Donelson 50 Forward closed, I no longer teach 3 yoga classes a week.  So now we have one Zoom class on Wednesdays.  This is the  stage where the big production takes place--our living room.  That's stage manager Sherry doing last minute stuff. Early May.  I'm not sure when the hotel and the mall closed down but here's the sign to prove it.  Lots less traffic now.
May 13.  This pair of brown thrashers visited quite often in May.  After that they grew scarce.  But a young thrasher, probably their offspring, now visits.May 22.  I was heading for the deck this morning when I stopped cold. This blue bird was checking out the living quarters just outside the door.  These pics were made through the screen, so not the best.
This one - there were three altogether - even went inside and we had high hopes they would settle in and raise a family.  They came back the next day and then disappeared for good.  We were disappointed but not really suprised since we knew they weren't likely to nest in a house built over our well-travelled deck.May 31. Not a very good photo, but I wanted to record the arrival of our first gold finch.  We get lots of house finches and maybe a purple finch now and then, but these don't come often, but so pretty
May 29.  Hawks are hard to identify around here because we have lots of them.  But we think this one is a red tail, which is one of the larger ones.  It's perched on the dying pignut hickory just off our deck near the river.  Big bird day today.  Got the first visit by a ruby-throated hummingbird.  Alway a big deal to have them back.
June 10.  That's Pat Meadows on the left and Sherry on the right up north of Ashland City where we went for a nice paddle and picnic.June 11.  This is a female redwing blackbird.  We see lots of the males, but this is the first momma we've seen, to recognize at least..
June 17.  Puppy and Ray Ray stayed with us while the Nichols-Lollers visited the beach in Savannah.  The dogs didn't mind staying with us much, but they were ever alert to any sound from the house next door that could mean the kids were back. Raven, or Ray Ray, will do almost anything to get someone to throw a ball or stuffed toy for her to run down and return.  But a good deal of her joy is in making the object squeek--they mostly have little squeekers inside.  So when Bunny's squeeker gave out Ray Ray investigated.
Click here to see RayRay disembowel her bunny.

July 6.  This little song sparrow without its tail visited our feeder a lot from February on.  But lately she/he is missing.  Hope it's OK. July 7.  This yellow-throated warbler made a rare visit but didn't try the food we were offering.  It just watched the activity a while and flew off. So pretty.

July 20.  Big old gobbler hangs out half mile down the street, usually in the side yard of a neighbor.  He is crippled, but well fed because the neighbor feeds him.  I do an early  morning ride on my 3-wheel bike so I find out a lot about what goes on up and down Pennington Bend. July 27.  The dogs main source of fun is chasing squirrels away from our bird feeder.  All I have to do is open the door to the deck and hiss, "Squirrel" and they fall all over one another chasing and barking.  Ray Ray sets up a watch post inside so she can get the jump on Puppy.

July 28.  Steve Laughbaum sent me this two-page spread from a book we did way back in the 1970's when we both worked at the Methodist Publishing House.That's the crew who put the book together (I'm the beard).  It was a big project in every way and sold well.   

It had innovative ideas for getting teenagers interested in religious classes.  What a  crazy idea, but some said it worked.  After this came I bought a copy of the book on ebay, just to have as a momento, since three of the women have died since and I don't know about the other folks.

July 29.  A pair of ground doves made their headquarters in my garden.  They are smaller than mourning doves, which are common around here, and like to scamper away when you get near, instead of flying. They are considered rare this far north and east.  July 29.  Got a rare visit by a blue-grey gnatcatcher.  Very shy.  Only came back a few times.  Flitter here and there so much I was lucky to get this shot of it.

July 29.  Our friend Betsy told us that you could keep carpenter bees away by blowing up a plastic grocery bag and hanging it up.  Bees think it is a hornest nest.  Sherry got a store bought one, and I tested it by leaving my bee trap up. Sure enough I caught no more bees in the trap, so this worked and I took the trap down. Our street sign down at the corner got torn down so I called public works and they came and put up a new one.  Except they put it up 90 degrees off, so we lived on McGavock, not Pennington Bend, for several days.  They eventually fixed the error.

July 3.  Son-in-law James has this old dock he wanted gone, so I put it on Craig's list and a man and his 3 sons came with a big trailer and got it loaded.  What a job!  Those are 10-foot 2 x 8's on top and a steel frame underneath. The tricky part was getting the big truck and trailer  in and out of this gate which was only a few inches over 8 feet wide.  The trailer was 8 feet exactly.  Amazingly, the fellow did it without even scratching the posts.  Almost a miracle.

July10. This little frog showed up in our second-story bathroom, in the toilet bowl--to be exact.  It, or another one or two just like it, has done it three times. We assume it climbs down the vent.  Question is, why? This is a young red-bellied woodpacker.  Notice there isn't much red on its head.  A full-grown male has red on top of its head from the nape of its neck to its bill. A grown female's red top runs from the nape to the middle of the head.  This one stayed around a lot.  The parents had come now and then in the winter but stopped coming last spring.
Mid-August.  We were getting something from almost every plant except the romaine and arugula lettuce, which had bolted and gone in the heat.  I planted more and we are still getting it in this record mild mid-November. One of the big rewards of growing a garden.  A home-grown tomato sandwich slathered with mayonaisse.  My favorite!

The sweeet Cardwell children brought Sherry these flowers. She made a fuss about how lovely they were and that they made her feel special.  Then she arranged them.  And they were. Here is a photo to show that I don't mind admiting my mistakes.  I had a flat on my 3-wheel bike and decided to change the tube myself.  Trouble was I couldn't get the tire off the rim enough to remove the tube.  Got so frustrated I cut the tire and tube in two.  Forgetting I had no replacement tire.  My punishment was to order a tire online which, unknown to me, had to come from Spain.  It took more than a month.  So remember....keep your temper and go with the flow.
Here is a gulf fritilary caterpillar just beginning to create its pupa.  We took it inside and kept it in our pupa hatching cage until it was ready. Here is the little guy just after hatching.  It is pumping up its wings.  Pretty soon it decided it was time to try them out.  Click here to watch.

Just after the video above, our little baby came back to get a meal from some of the flowers Sherry keeps in pots on the deck.  I felt like a proud papa. Looked out the window while I was leading my Zoom yoga class and what did I see?  "THERE'S A @$*@% GROUNDHOG ON OUR FEEDER!"  I yelled in the hearing of my shocked class.  Oh well. Naughty things slip past the lips when one is excited.

September 22.  This is a young rose-breasted grosbeak.  Notice the eye.  Unfotunately, it has an eye disease that evidently only affects finches.  We have visits from a lot of house finches, and some from gold finches and purple finches.  But robins, redbirds, and towhees--all of which visit our feeders--are finches too. We almost never have grosbeaks stay around.  They pass through in migration.  But when they are handicapped like this one they will stay at the feeders.  The only thing to do is to take down the feeders, disinfect them, and don't put them back up until the infected birds go away or risk infecting all the others.  Sad.  Go to the Cornell or Audubon websites for more information. Here I am measuring the circumference of our big old mimosa tree that hosts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds all during spring and  summer when it's blossoms are going nuts. Reason for the measuring is so it could be entered in the BIG OLD TREE contest. We estimated it at 50 feet tall. Guess it was June or July when I did this. Haven't heard yet (it's October 28 now) so I guess we aren't going to Oslo for the ceremony.

September 16.  This is the caterpillar of the back swallowtail butterfly. They ate all of our dill and parsley.  So Sherry bought lots of parsley sets and we planted them in pots on the deck and moved these little guys to them.  Trouble is they stay awhile and then crawl away, usually to pupate somewhere else.  Or sometimes birds get them. We never did get to see one make its chrysalis.

September 17.  This is part of my cow pea patch.  I couldn't find black-eyed pea seeds and a lot of sites claimed these were the same thing.  So I planted two rows and they went crazy, climbing up and over my 8-foot-high deer fence aroound the garden, even this late in the season.  But they weren't black-eyed peas. The cow peas were actually very good to eat and easy to grow because they shaded out all the weeds.  I picked them after they dried out.. Easy to keep that way, although I've been told you can eat the young ones like string beens, hull and all. This time of year the grasshoppers thoughts are of love.  And the cow pea patch is an ideal place to meet and "greet."
September 19.  Our very good friend, Berdelle, and her driver, gardener, and tenant Garret paid us a 6-foot visit on the deck.  Berdelle is amazing at 92 and sharp as a tack.My buddy Harry works for a real estate outfit that does online auctions.  He takes photos, numbers the items, and writes descriptions of them for the auctions.  Here is a small portion of the costumes they auctioned recently when Nashville's largest costume store closed down. Took him a month to catalog them all.

October 15.  Sherry loves kayaking, so I drove the little truck loaded with our kayaks and she followed in her car and we floated the Caney Fork from the dam to Happy Hollow. Here is photo of some mallards we passed.  It turned out to be more of an impressionist painting than a nature photo.

October 20.  The weather was so good we did it again.  This time from Happy Hollow to Betty's Landing.  This is a shorter trip, but not nearly so nice.    There she is, way down the river.  I decided not to try to fish during this trip so we both could concentrate on the beautiful day and the birds and critters along the way.

October 23.  This is the very first blossom from the heavenly blue morning glories I planted this year.  This one is on the front fence. November 23.  The next day several more came along.  On November 23rd they were at their peak.  Next day we had a freeze and they were pretty much gone.  

Big Creek Cemetery is not far from Lucy, Tennessee, where I grew up. It is the family cemetery where my Momma, Daddy, and most of Daddy's relatives are buried.  It is also where we will have our ashes buried.  This is a recent memorial on the cemetery wall that Sherry had done.  Ann is my sister. Nice.  I hope our parents like it. This is my three-wheel Miami Sun tryke.  I like it because if I want to stop to take a photo or use the binoculars I don't have to get off--just reach behind in the basket and get camera or binocs.  Also, if you want to haul brush up the road to put it in front of a vacant lot for pick up by Metro it comes in handy.  Note container I'm hauling.  It has no gears, so even a small hill is a good workout.  Pennington Bend is more or less flat, but I've found some sections that are a bit higher, so I get to work some and loaf some.

My buddy Frank from Florida used to say that he could always tell who lost the last local election because I'd have his bumper sticker on my truck.  Well, this time we picked a winner.  (Those are the Heavenly Blues climbing up the string to the rafters.) Well, I hope you were voting with us in this one but, if not, Hey!  You had four years and we didn't.  Our turn now.  Anyhow, I hope we will all step back and think about trying to work together.  Too much political fighting and not enough mutual problem solving.

November 11.  Well, back to important stuff.  Here is a brown creeper doing a creep up the side of our house.  First one I've seen in years.  And here is another one we don't see until it gets cold.  A slate-colored junco or dark-eyed junco, also known as the snowbird.  Audubon says they are the most numerous bird we have.  But they stay up north most of the time.  This is where the Florida winter tourists got their nickname.
November 26.  Here's a male towhee showing up for the first time since cold weather last year.  They mostly hang out on the ground, in fact they are often called Ground Robins.  Cold weather means they are willing to visit to get the free food.  That's nice, because we love to see this handsome bird.Robins are all over Pennington Bend, but this is the first one that ever came to our feeder, or more exactly, to our water.  They don't care for our selection of seeds and corn, but they like a nice calm drink now and then. Who doesn't?

Another bird we don't see very often.  This male goldfinch came to try out the sunflower seeds and liked them pretty well.  His neighbor is a male house finch.  We get those all year round.  They often come in groups.   After seeing none for so long here came this trio and took over the sunflower seed feeder.  They are really pretty, even after they have lost their all-over gold color from breeding season.  Come back soon!  

November 28.  On my way to Kroger I got behind this beauty.  So when they went to Publix I followed, hoping to talk to the owner.  He took so long inside I gave up and settled for making some pics instead. It's a LaSalle.  Don't know what model, but this one is in almost perfect shape.  Look at the crome and the name on the grill.  That is CLASS!

One of the many things I like about antique cars is the fact that they have real, honest-to-Pete metal bumpers.  You could actually push another car with those babies. Same thing back here.  Someone else could push you without ruining your bumper.  Note that the license is not an antique plate.  I looked that up because my 1997 Toyota truck will be 25 years old and qualify as an antique in a couple of years. As it turns out, in Tennessee you can only drive a car with an antique plate to auto shows and a limited number of other destinations.  This car is obviously being used frequently.  Good for you, you lucky owner!

November 30. Yes, the pic is a dupe, but the video is new. The Eastern Towhee sticks mostly on the ground scratching away for bugs and worms.   In fact, Sherry got a neat little video of it doing that just below our bedroom window.  Click here to see it. December 1.  This brown thrasher has gotten to be a regular visitor to the food table.  It seems to like the cracked corn best and will run the squirrels off if they get too pushy.

December 7.  This is a male evening grosbeak.  First ones we've ever seen.  He and his mate (see next pic) visited a couple of times for about 15 minutes and then took off and haven't returned.  Sherry put the photos on the Cornell Lab web site and around 9:00 p.m. The next day a fellow knocked on our door wanting to see them.  Of course, they were long gone, but he stayed an hour....... .....with his binocs glued to the sunflower seed feeder.  Then, when he left, what to our wondering eyes should appear but another bird lover. He stayed until almost dark.  All to no avail, however.  We promised to let them both know if these pretty birds ever returned.

December 9.  Son Hanley and his wife Denile sent us these photos of their..... ....house in Lexington, Kentucky.  If they ever want to go into the Christmas decorating biz, I think they will clean up. 
December 18.  Can you believe it?  This is our 56th anniversary.  56 years ago this wonderful and humorous (she had to be to live with me all those years) woman let me sweep her away from hordes of suitors.  Her loss, of course, but my big gain.  XXXXOOOOChristmas cards we got, but none more original that this one from my sister Ann.  I guess she decided to say only good things in honor of the season.  She did get in a jab about my tendency to say "Yes" if offered a drink of an adult beverage.  Thanks.  

December 22.  No, that is not Errol Flynn in the role of Robin Hood, as you probably thought, since it would be easy to mistake me for old Errol.... ..No, it's me, practicing with the bow and arrow I bought to give myself an outdoor activity.  I got 12 arrows with the outfit and only lost 5 the first week.  Good news is I found four of them in the brush next door.
December 25 and we visited my daughter Travis' family for opening presents and a great breakfast.  Granddaughter Zinnia shows the old yogi (me) how it should be done..  I took my camera but forgot to take more pics.  Oh, well. Since there were no granddaughters to help trim the tree we used the colored tree lights to decorate the windows looking out the deck and the Cumberland River beyond.

On our Front entry we strung the usual little white lights to honor the season and on the off chance that some one might decide to give us  a suprise masked visit.  No one did. We used the rest of the little white lights on the back deck to cheer up the folks across the river.  They may look colored, but they are white.  I love to see them there and may just leave them all year, or until they all burn out. 

December 31.  New Year's Eve.  Finally--I don't know where you live or what your weather is like or whether you do Christmas or another ritual.  But no matter where you are or how you celebrate the season--May God bless and keep you and those dear to you and send a better New Year, 2021.

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