I’ve been splurging on Dunkin Donuts iced coffee (not pictured) this weekend, but the mug above, even though it doesn’t belong to me, represents two doggy friends that I was watching over the weekend.
My weekend was a really full one. I don’t think I could have squeezed much more in if I tried. I’m joining Natalie the Traveler and friends with her Weekend Coffee Share and jumping on a couple more applicable linky wagons. (Is “linky wagon” even a phrase? If it’s not, I think I just coined it.) I’m pinging Restless Jo and her Monday Walks, because my weekend involved a beautiful walk with friends in nature and Lisa Coleman of Birds Weekly because I got some photos of a swan and peacock in the park.
I watch French bulldogs, Theo and Remy, in their home from time to time. They are lovable doggies. Theo, though he looks so peaceful in this photo (and often is), is a little more exuberant and goofy.
His Frenchie housemate, Remy, is just a little lady. I was noticing just by the way she prances through the grass in the backyard that she carries herself like a lady. Where Theo will tackle me with doggy kisses, Remy will just quietly look at me as I sit on the couch to tell me, “Pardon me, I would like uppies please. Give me a boost?”
They are good doggies. One of their owners told me once that she loves this breed, because Frenchies are lazy and snuggly. That certainly describes these two lovies.
I’ve also been dropping in to take care of a cat named Shultz, (a female in spite of the name.) She is a Scottish fold cat, and that breed is new to me. You can notice that her ears fold forward. Her owner told me that there is a Scottish straight breed and a Scottish fold breed that are closely related. They don’t know until kittens are born if they will have the fold or not. According to petfinder.com, it was discovered that “Any cat possessing one copy of the fold gene produced about fifty percent of Fold kittens.”
Saturday, I went out and explored a relatively new smoothie place, Market 509 in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. One of the employees told me that they have been there since November 2020, but I only became aware of it a few weeks ago.
The unique shop is hard to define. They serve smoothies, ice cream, juice and bubble tea, but they also sell refrigerated vegetarian foods, Japanese snack foods, teas, tea sets and mugs and Japanese kawaii merchandise.
Some cutesy “kawaii” merchandise …
I tried an açai bowl for the first time. Well, previously, I tried a Dole brand version from the frozen food aisle, but it wasn’t quite the same experience. Açai berries are one of those trendy superfoods that have a lot of health benefits. They have a lot of antioxidants, fatty acids similar to olive oil, anthocyanins that can help lower cholesterol, Vitamin C and phytochemicals that can fight the growth of cancer cells.
I have never seen fresh açai berries sold in the U.S. My smoothie bowl was a mixture of berries and banana with açai powder added to it. There were two choices of açai bowls, Berry Blast and Pacific Twist. With it, you could choose four toppings and a drizzle. I ordered the Berry Blast with a mixture of banana, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, apple juice and açai powder. For my toppings, I chose strawberries, bananas, coconut flakes and mochi. Mochi, for those who might not be familiar, is a sweet Japanese snack made from glutinous rice. I thought mine had the look and texture of marshmallow. I chose Nutella as my drizzle.
This was the work of art that was delivered to me.
And it came on a cute little tray …
This was my Saturday lunch. It was refreshing in the hot weather, full of nutrition and, very likely, had enough calories in it to make it a meal.
On Sunday, I fit in a lot and did a lot of driving all over creation (or, at least, parts of New Jersey.) I took care of doggy breakfast, pills and potty time back at the house where I was staying, drove about 20 minutes to take care of Miss Shultz and get her breakfast and then drove almost an hour (normally a half hour drive) to Sunday morning church. I thought I would be late, but I was actually early. 😛
My friend Adrienne planned a picnic lunch with friends at the James A McFaul Environmental Center in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Although this park is in the vicinity of church, first, I had to drive back to the doggies, give them some lunch, another potty break and bye bye kisses and then pack up my things, as the owners were due home that afternoon.
I was on a bit of a tight schedule, so I had half of my picnic lunch at the house. I thought I would be too late to picnic and might just join friends for the walk afterwards. It wasn’t too convenient to do “home-made” while house sitting, so I picked up some things at the Kings Supermarket: a tomato, mozzarella and basil sandwich on ficelle bread (I would have called it a baguette,) some Stacy’s pita chips and a Mash soda made with natural pomegranate and blueberry juices.
It turns out friends were still picnicking when I arrived. There were six of us girls altogether: Adrienne, Sabrina, Iris, Jin, Cindy and me. I ate half my sandwich there, some cantaloupe that my friend Iris brought and a frozen snack from Adrienne, a blob of vanilla ice cream encased in strawberry mochi. It was a bit of a challenge to eat as the ice cream was melted, but I managed.
The James A. McFaul Environmental Center is a lovely park that has 81 acres of land with walking trails, a pond and observation deck overlooking it, various gardens, a picnic area, a few animal enclosures and a building with educational nature exhibits. The building was closed, but we were able to enjoy the trails, observation deck, picnic area and more.
I saw this lovely peacock in an enclosure.
Before we even hit the trail, we saw this beautiful swan in the pond right outside the picnic pavilion.
I liked the looks of this foot bridge.
I ended up getting a few shots of my friend Cindy on the trail, because we were leading the pack.
I enjoyed these log borders on the walking path. For a bit, Cindy and I tried balancing on the logs just like we would have done as kids.
I noticed several trees with tangled jumbles of roots.
Cindy identified these interesting plants in the foreground as skunk cabbages. The area is sometimes swampy.
After we walked the loop, we took this boardwalk up to the observation deck overlooking the pond.
We got some more views of our swan friend.
Sorry, Lisa. I missed the photo op to capture the swan along with ducks and geese in one photo. I guess the point of the challenge was to capture birds of different species together. Just as I was ready to do that, my phone announced that my storage was full.
Human friends are important too. We had a rest from the heat at the top of the observation deck.
So my phone storage was up to capacity at the end of our time there, and I missed the opportunity to photograph an adorable fawn on our way back. Thankfully, my buddy Sabrina did not have the same problem.
I’ve had a few opportunities to photograph ducks in the park from different trips there. I found these two floating on a raft together to be rather endearing. (It’s hard to tell, but I think the raft may actually be a platform that is anchored there underwater.) I keep noticing mallards together in male/female pairs, and it makes me think of Bambi and all of the animals getting “twitterpated” in springtime.
I thought I would combine photos with a couple of fun duck poems (not my own this time) of which I was reminded recently.
Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it sups,
It bottoms ups.
— by Ogden Nash
I don’t have any “bottoms up” photos, but here is another duck poem with a similar theme, this time by Kenneth Grahame.
All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!
Ducks’ tails, drakes’ tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight,
Busy in the river!
Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim —
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.
Everyone for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up,
High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call —
We are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!
— by Kenneth Grahame
So, I don’t have any “bottoms up” photos of ducks, but I do have this photo of some baby ducklings.
That’s a long title for this post, but it was hard to summarize my recent adventures succinctly. On Saturday, I had two walks, one with an adorable doggy and one without, and I thought I would combine them into one post. This is inspired by Restless Jo’s Monday Walk.
First, I stopped to take care of two cats for a client. Their names are Oscar and Simon.
I told the owner that the cat names made me think of The Odd Couple. Of course, for The Odd Couple, their names should be Oscar and Felix. (Felix is definitely a cat name and even the name of a famous cartoon cat.) But then, the writer of The Odd Couple is Neil Simon, so there you go.
My dog care clients always seem surprised that I have quite a few cat care clients also, with the assumption that cats are more independent. So, for the dog people, I’ll explain. Most cats eat at least some wet food, if not primarily so. This food has to be served fresh, and any leftover food has to be scraped and scrubbed from their bowls. Litter boxes need to be cleaned. Additionally, a lot of cat owners also feel that their cats will get lonely and need some human interaction. Alas, cats also tend to have some messy issues … like puking up hairballs. Ah, yes, it is sometimes a dirty job. Mike Rowe would be proud.
The cats are located so conveniently near the park that I thought I would visit and walk there again after caring for them. This is Verona Park, which I recently blogged about, but I thought I would take photos in a completely different area. So, I took some photos in The Children’s Garden outside the playground area.
It’s a pretty little garden with some flowering chives, irises, circular stone paths and benches for sitting. In the far background, you can see the children’s playground.
I tried to identify this white flowering shrub and think it may be viburnum.
There were also some pansies in a barrel planter …
and some polka dot plants in a painted wheelbarrow.
I’m not sure why it’s called The Children’s Garden other than its location by the playground. As far as I can tell, children aren’t involved with maintaining the garden. I had different expectations, thinking it would have more whimsy.
I can imagine a garden that references gardens in children’s literature such as the talking flowers in Alice in Wonderland, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden, Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden or even the nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary.” Can’t you just imagine some appropriate statuary or plaques with literary quotes? Wouldn’t a little fairy garden be fun? Possibly, there could be some interactive station to teach children about plants or gardening also, as they have in some children’s museums.
I’m not criticizing the pretty garden at all, but I, evidently, have a lot of ideas. How easy it would be to execute the ideas is another question, but it’s fun to dream.
I then walked to the other side of the lake and saw a lot of geese, ducks and other birds. I got a few good shots of these. After planning this post, I saw that there’s a photo challenge for Birds Weekly — birds beginning with a G in the title. Since I do have some goose photos, I thought I’d join in.
There was this lovely sitting mallard, who didn’t seem too afraid of me.
And several lovely Canadian geese. The deposits they leave behind aren’t so lovely, but it didn’t seem to be too out of control.
And some mallards and Canadian geese together … socially distancing.
Then, I saw these mysterious water birds perched on wood in the middle of the lake. Perhaps, Mark S. of Naturalist Weekly can help me identify them? Or if anyone else has a guess, please let me know in the comments.
After this excursion in the garden and around the lake, I drove to see my friend, Ollie, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. He was happy to see me.
He was very happy to see me as in, “Here is my belly. Please, give it rubs.”
He greets me with loads of kisses. This may be a cute face shot … (I mean, talk about puppy dog eyes) …
but it does not show off one of his signature features (or features of the breed,) his floppy, curly-haired ears.
He and I walked past some pleasant places in his community, like this pretty gazebo …
And this lovely pond with fountain …
and some flowering shrubs.
We walked along the main road and passed by some public buildings on our way which were not so interesting to photograph, but any land in New Jersey that is allowed to go wild is very woodsy, so there were some interesting spots even sandwiched between these buildings such as here, this rock ledge overgrown with ivy …
And Cherokee rose …
As we walked around the community center building, Ollie met a couple of admirers. One passenger in a car stopped at a light had to roll down the car window and share her admiration. We also came across a man, a Cavalier owner himself, who had to stop and give Ollie some pets and attention. I’ve noticed as an introvert that walking a dog gives you an outlet to talk to strangers more than anything else.
We were really astonished as we took the sidewalk path that hugged the rear of the community center building to come across a plastic tub full of baby ducklings!
If I had any way of anticipating what was in this red plastic tub, I never would have walked a dog right up to it. It was a thorough but delightful surprise. Ollie was behaving like such a nice gentleman. He didn’t bark, poke his nose far into the bucket, try to climb in or, otherwise, disturb the ducklings. So, I thought I could pause long enough to snap a photo.
It’s a little mysterious what the ducklings were doing there. My guess is that someone at the community center is caring for these ducklings, because they have no mother. I tried looking at the community center website to see if there would be mention of them, but there wasn’t. I did see an article from 2017 where township police rescued baby ducklings from a storm drain, so I suppose it is also possible that a similar incident repeated itself. At any rate, I am happy to have had a glimpse and a photo op.
What is your favorite part of my walking adventure?