chicken in a tree

The holiday hustle and bustle is almost behind us.


We have been blessed with sunny warm weather these last few days.

I felt like a snake on a rock sunning myself today.

I headed down the garden path to my meditation circle. Continue reading

crackers for cornelius

Cornelius and his wife Clementine, their children Camille and Clovis along with Uncle Claude can be rather raucous, to say the least.


They live within the Enchanted forest.




Just under the canopy of the trees in a clearing beyond the pond and garden, I toss out stale bread, rolls, biscuits for their enjoyment.

The above photos were taken back in the summer while they were enjoying a loaf of bread.

 They regularly harass the Red Tailed Hawk family that lives across the road in the Pine clearing.

 If Mr. or Mrs. Hawk should venture into the no-fly zone, which includes any airspace above Coral Cottage, they will receive a strong-arm escort back to their own Pine stand as seen in the photo below.

hawk and crows

They also have loud and animated screaming competitions with the Blue Jay tribe, which I swear can be heard throughout the entire county.

Cornelius is always the first to announce his presence, and demand his meal be served.  However he always remains on the perimeter of the open yard, never venturing near the house.

 Until the other day.

I missed their regular feeding for several days, because we had rain.

Cornelius was so annoyed by my lack of attention, that he flew up into the poplar tree outside the kitchen door and loudly demanded I conform to his wishes.

Obviously Cornelius, has me well-trained.  As I studied my shopping list the other day,

I thought to myself – good grief I’m shopping for a crow!



In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life –  Uncle Billy had a pet bird (raven) named Jimmy.

Director Frank Capra’s trademark was Jimmy the Raven, this bird appeared in all Capra movies after 1938.

This same raven landed on the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

I leave you with a little more information about Jimmy the Raven.

See you later, Bye!


jimmy the raven

Here is a photo of Jimmy on the set of It’s a wonderful Life.

Jimmy belonged to Hollywood animal trainer Curley Twiford, who found the bird in a nest in the Mojave Desert in 1934. Twiford trained Jimmy to do an assortment of tricks, such as typing, opening letters, and even riding a tiny motorcycle: things that would make him appealing to use in films. Jimmy could understand several hundred words, though only around 50 were what Twiford called “useful”. It took Jimmy a week to learn a new useful word—two weeks if it had 2 syllables.  Twiford said that Jimmy could perform any task that an 8-year-old child could (see bird intelligence).

His human co-stars were complimentary of the bird. “When they call Jimmy, we both answer,” remarked Jimmy Stewart on the set of It’s a Wonderful Life, noting that the raven “is the smartest actor on the set” requiring fewer re-takes than his human counterparts.

As he became more popular with the studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had him insured for $10,000.  Lloyd’s of London wrote a policy to cover Jimmy’s $500 a week fee as well as Curley Twiford’s $200 handler fee, in the event Jimmy forgot any of the words he would need on the set.  Twiford credited these fees with keeping him solvent during World War 2.  At one point, Jimmy had 21 stand-ins, 15 of which were female, who would fill in for him when the scene did not require any tricks or movement.

Jimmy received a Red Cross gold medal in acknowledgement of 200 hours spent entertaining veterans after the war, and his footprints were enshrined in cement at a large Los Angeles pet store, alongside Lassie and other Hollywood animal stars.

His last credited film was 3 Ring Circus in 1954, after which little is known about him. Though Curley Twiford said Jimmy would “probably live to be 150” years old, which the papers re-printed, in reality ravens seldom live more than 30 years in captivity. Twiford died in 1956 at the age of 60.


a week in cottage photos week 12/5-12/12

Around here it has been wet.  Which makes not only me but the fur babies go nuts.

I’ve done some decorating and sewing these rainy days.


That Cat says rainy weather makes him want to hang out under the tree.

 Me too, and sip hot cocoa.

The Singer has been purring non-stop while I work on making a few gifts.


The sun returned and brought the wind.


The tips of the Hemlock shimmer with rain at the foot of the driveway as my neighbors dash on by.


Early morning sunlight casts a glow on everything.


Betsy beagle and That Cat play chase around the tractor.


Opps the tire is flat.  “Let’s get out of here before we get blamed for it!”


My big sister came over and cooked a batch of the most awesome Thai ginger shrimp soup for our lunch.

Nothing like hot spicy soup to chase away the chills.



A week of good stuff, I hope yours has been the same.

See you later, Bye!


Christmas tree folklore

Mr. Cottage and I took a little ride over the river and through the woods.

We arrived at Foxfire Christmas tree farm.  They have been in business for thirty years.  Way back in the day Father Cottage was an advisor for the Virginia Christmas tree growers association and worked with this farm.


The owner supplies a saw and cart to haul the tree in and points us in the direction of the Douglas Firs, after confirming what type of tree we are after.

foxfire 2

foxfire 4

Mr. Cottage watches as people claim the tree he thought was the one.

He kinda looked like a kid that had his toy taken away from him.

So off we go through the rows and rows of beautiful trees, but just not the right one.

foxfire 5

foxfire 6

There were several people there with their dogs.

foxfire 3

When she was alive, we used to take our dog Cookout with us to get a tree.  She always picked the tree for us, it was the one that had a nest in it. How did that dog always know?

My heart felt a little twinge of those days past when I spied this nest.

foxfire 7

I’ve been longing for a puppy or two for a while.

foxfire 8

We find our tree.

foxfire 9

foxfire 10

We head back to the barn to pay for our tree and enjoy some sights.

foxfire 11

foxfire 13

foxfire 14

foxfire 15

foxfire 16

This is our magnificent tree getting bundled up for transportation.

Many years ago before Mr. Cottage went into business for himself, he worked for the Virginia Department of Forestry.  Having both Father and Mr. Cottage working for the Forestry department, provided us with the access and the know-how; we entertained the idea of starting our own Christmas tree farm.

Recently while I’ve been re-imagining our life, I’ve entertained that thought again.

So while I keep my mind occupied with fantasies of puppies and growing Christmas trees, here is a tidbit of fun for you:

Christmas Tree Folklore*

This year over 37 million American families will celebrate the holidays with the fragrance and beauty of a real Christmas tree.

The tree, used as a symbol of life, is a tradition older than Christianity and not exclusive to any one religion. It’s a part of our holiday customs that engages not only our senses of sight, touch, and smell, but also our sense of tradition, hope and good will.

Long before there was a Christmas, Egyptians brought green palm branches into their homes on the shortest day of the year in December as a symbol of life’s triumph over death.

Romans adorned their homes with evergreens during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honor of Saturnus, their god of agriculture. Druid priests decorated oak trees with golden apples for their winter solstice festivities.

In the middle ages, the Paradise tree, an evergreen hung with red apples, was the symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve held on December 24th.

The first recorded reference to the Christmas tree dates back to the 16th century. In Strasbourg, Germany (now part of France), families both rich and poor decorated fir trees with colored paper, fruits and sweets. The retail Christmas tree lot also dates back that far – in those times, older women would sell trees harvested from nearby forests.

The tradition spread through Europe and was brought to the United States by German settlers and by Hessian mercenaries paid to fight in the Revolutionary War. In 1804 U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) hauled trees from surrounding woods to their barracks at Christmas.

The popularity of the Christmas tree then proliferated. Charles Minnegrode introduced the custom of decorating trees in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1842. In 1851, Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds loaded with trees from the Catskills to the streets of New York and opened the first retail lot in the United States.

Franklin Pierce, our 14th President, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.

Since 1966, members of the National Christmas Tree Association have presented a beautiful, fresh Christmas tree to the President and first family. This tree is displayed each year in the Blue Room of the White House.*

Do you have a live tree or an artificial one?  If you have a live tree what is your favorite variety?

Mine has always been the Fraser Fir.

See you later, Bye!


* Source Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association

4 men 2 deere 1 dog

We passed the turkey, gave thanks and then got to work.

clearing 1

Cottage men gathered in the morning chill and set about clearing for the future drain field that must be put in place when we put the addition on the house.

An engineer came the other week and walked our property for three hours trying to find a place that would perk.

Eventually a site was found, down on the south-west portion of the land; in a thick stand of pines and hardwoods.  This means that there must be a lot of clearing of those woods in order to put the distribution box and drain fields in place.

clearing 2

Mr. Cottage and helpers hope to get as much of this done before we have to hire an excavation company to come in and do the big work.

Mapping out the game plan.  A row of azaleas are dug up and placed in a protected area, for re-planting later.


 Then, off to clear all the brush and small trees.

clearing 3

At 83 Father Cottage can still rock a chainsaw – with Betsy beagle supervising of course.

clearing 5

Lots of smoke.   The loud rumble of the tractor and the cranking of the chainsaw.

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And they are off.

clearing 7

clearing 8

clearing 4

Betsy  beagle follows along every step of the way.

clearing 9

Time for laughter, too.

clearing 10

My heart is a little apprehensive, because, yes I’m set in my ways and all this change to our home and property kind of makes me uneasy.

I don’t want to change our forest land and disrupt the wildlife we have.

As soon as Mr. Cottage tuned the tractor off after the first swipe at turning up fresh soil, a red-tailed hawk swooped down looking for mice.

hawk 1

Up and away he soared, before I barely knew what happened.

hawk 2

The next morning bright sunshine brought droves of sweet little chirping birds checking for seeds.


Feeling very thankful for friends and family that came out to help us.

I hope your weekend was full of gratitude.

see you later, Bye!