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Hummingbirds~


I can’t believe I finally got a photo of a hummingbird’s forked tongue! I have never captured the fork at the end of the tongue because it typically springs open once a hummer inserts her tongue in a flower. But here it is, for us to see!

We have somewhere around 70 or more hummers at The Holler now, so we are getting lots of very bright color. Hummers flash their colors at will, sometimes as warnings when sparring. This guy was caught at dusk, flashing away to keep intruders at bay.


Once a year, at peak swarm, I feed the hummers by hand. I only do it once, for about an hour because I don’t want the hummers to become tame, thinking all humans can be trusted, because unfortunately, as we all know, some humans should not be trusted.
By the way, the white dust you see on this hummer’s beak is pollen.


I saw this photo that went viral awhile ago, where a woman was photographed, with a hummingbird drinking nectar out of her mouth. People loved it, but it bothered me. Did the photographer consider how tiny and wild hummingbirds are? Did he consider how easily this woman’s viral and bacterial load could kill hummingbirds? Did they think about how taming a wild hummingbird, for a photo, through nectar offering, and then withholding, might lead a migrating hummingbird to harm at the hands of humans?

Garden nectar feeder stations have brought seriously declining hummingbird populations back to healthy numbers. Handled responsibly, garden feeders are important for hummingbird population survival. But taming wild birds that migrate, to perform tricks, isn’t helping hummingbird survival.


Taking these photos is very difficult. I have a tripod, but don’t ever use it. Why have a stationary camera in a moving world? Wild animals don’t find this interesting. So, I hold the feeder with my left hand and take the photo with my right. After about 10 minutes this starts to hurt!


Thankfully my son volunteered to hold the feeder.

The Holler hummers do know us and have learned to trust us. As mentioned a few stay year round and others return annually. Wherever they stay when they migrate south for the winter, they survive and thrive. Maybe they hang out in a garden in Central America where a bird lover keeps their feeders going and the hummers happy!


Cheers to you from the incredible, wild, and much-loved, Holler Hummers~

Ribeauville & Riquewhir~


are two typical Alsatian towns.

The architecture,

is fairytale,

meets living history,

with the added benefit of French dessert!


There are little towns like these scattered all over Alsace,

exploring, (note Jupiter near clock tower)

and eating,

here is a delightful way to spend your days!

Cheers to you from beautiful Alsace~

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari~


Is one of the greatest “minor” basilicas in Venice, which of course, is saying quite a lot. Building began in 1250. This is the entry way.


This photo, and the next, show the woodwork in the choir stalls, with the organ pipes above.


Think for a minute what it would sound like to hear the organ and the choir sing in these stalls, as you sat in the church, in say 1400.


In the cathedral are two works by the 16th century master Titian, as well as Donatello’s first painting. They were magnificent, but what struck me most was this piece from Paola Veneziano, depicting the Madonna with saints. I knew little of Veneziano and had to google him. All that is known about him is the artwork he created between 1333-1358. His work represents, “an amazing balance between his Byzantine training and the romantic influences of northern Europe.” (Wiki)
It was the influence of Byzantine mosaic in this piece that caught my attention.

The interior is an amazing example of how architecture, art, and reverence, can create an environment that has soothed human souls for hundreds of years.

The painted, wooden art in the basilica is remarkable. This horse and rider made of painted wood, was the first of its type ever made in Venice, and depicts a Roman Prince.


This wooden clock was carved in 1630 by the artist Stefano Panatta.

There are many beautiful pieces of very old furniture in the basilica like this pew and wood painted fresco, of unknown origin.


Cheers to you from the sacred serenity of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari~

Take Yourself for a Walk in Koper Slovenia~


If this Koperian doggie can,

I can, and you most certainly can.


Jim is right here, you see him, with the map, he always finds where are going.

I just tend to follow the critters,

they always take me where I want to be.


And thank you! It is so much better when you come along,

because pleasure shared is doubled.

We are still home at The Holler, but it’s cheers to you from Koper Slovenia~

The Holler’s Posh Summer Residents~


Just like all the best tony places, The Holler, while decidedly non-tony, has flashy summer residents, who live here only in the summer, and move on to their more expensively-agreeable tropical homes in the winter.
Grosbeak

But, unlike some snobby humans who move from their summer to winter homes, irregardless of whether the locals actually want them in either place, these summer residents are welcomed and appreciated by all The Holler locals….. meaning my small family.
(Please note the use of the word irregardless. My husband is adamant irregardless is not a word, but I, obviously, am disregarding this.)


The flashy-folks arrival at The Holler creates celebration, fascination, lots of, “What is this bird?” types of conversations. San Diego county and its rural environs, have more bird species than any other place in the continental US.
Hooded Oriole

I say, “Did you see? I think the first oriole has arrived?”
I was late in putting out the oriole feeders this season, due to being away on a trip, and I was worried the orioles would see this as irresponsibility on my part, which of course it was, and decide not to bless us with their summer presence. Thankfully they have decided to hang around!


My husband says, “I just saw another bird. It was big and black, has a mohawk and red eyes. What is this bird?”
Or, “I saw this new bird, it’s really yellow, not big, and has brown patches on it’s back and white spots. What is it?”


My son asks, “What is it with the hummingbirds? Why do they buzz around my face every time I walk outside? Don’t they know this could be dangerous for them with humans?”
This query is prompted because he hangs the oriole feeders for me which I can’t reach, but he can, because he’s very tall, and the hummers just surround his head while he does this. He repeats, while hanging the feeder, and trying to see through the buzzing hummer hordes surrounding his head, “Why are they doing this?”
I say, “It is because you are hanging the feeder a bit slowly, and the hummers really think you should hold it steady and straight for them NOW, so they can feed from the feeder directly, while you stand still and hold it there for them. They apparently think this is the sole purpose of your life.”
The hummers aren’t even supposed to be drinking from the oriole feeders since they have their own feeders, but hummers don’t listen to reason.
Western Scrub Jay


It is a bird summer resort here at The Holler. Birds sense, over time, who they need to fear, or can trust, much like like humans do, but birds, for good reason, are far better at this type of calculus then we humans are. Check out this little mowhawked finch-fledgling for example. He has a nest in a custom made bird box by our front door, where we come and go all the time. I have a visceral sense to not photograph wild bird nests because it can be terrifying and life disrupting for them if I get too close. But I gave in and decided to photograph this guy very carefully. And you can see the results. The fledgling, looked at me with pure baby-bird annoyance, but then, ignored me, and went back to sleep, while I took more photos.
Fledgling House Finch


I do think it is very nice of the wild birds to allow us to live in their Holler and be their personal servants and food and treat providers.
Cheers to you from The Holler wild birds who have learned that some humans are real suckers, but they can be trusted~

Saint Pierre le Jeune~

The ‘Young’ Church of St Peter, is an old and unusual church in Strasbourg, France.


The oldest, and lowest part of the church is the burial crypt, which was built-in the 7th century.


The church itself was consecrated in 1053, and three of the remaining columns supporting the arched interior galleries in the church date from the 11th century.

The bulk of the church as it stands now was built between 1250-1320 and many of the frescoes you see are originals from the 14th century. In 1682, the church was divided into two sections, half for catholics and the other half for protestants, which seems quite forward thinking and civilized, doesn’t it! The pipe organ is a relative newbie, built-in 1780.


Strasbourg is full of old and amazing churches, but the old, ‘Young Church of St. Peter’, is off the beaten path, less visited, and remarkable in terms of history, architecture and art. All of these factors combined create a truly amazing sense of ancient sacredness. It is a church you may well want to linger in.

We are home at The Holler, but it is cheers to you from the glorious Saint-Pierre le Jeune~

Lake Vrana & Zadar~


These first five photos were taken atop Mt. Kamenjak in the Vrana Lake Nature Park in Croatia. The amazing view you are seeing looks down over Lake Vrana towards the Kornati Islands in the Adriatic Sea.


Lake Vrana, the greenish body of water in the forefront, lies on the Dalmatian coast, and is the largest lake in Croatia. It is separated from the sea by a mere 2 km strip of land which you can clearly see in this photo.


The view from the opposite side of Mt. Kamenjak is also incredible, and looks into the interior of Croatia. It was quite special for me to visit this area of the world, because my grandfather, who emigrated to the US through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s, was from this area.

The spectacular Mt. Kamenjak viewpoint is off the beaten track and less traveled.

There is a charming old chapel, many hiking options, picnic facilities, and a place to order snacks if you didn’t bring a picnic.

Lake Varna can be easily reached on a day trip from nearby Zadar, the oldest continuously occupied city in Croatia. This is St. Donatus Church in Zadar, founded in the 9th Century.


The small chapel is St. Mary’s Church, founded in 1066, and the ruins you see scattered about are the remnants of the largest Roman Forum in the Eastern Adriatic.

Zadar is the historical center of The Dalmatian Coast. It was founded by the Liburnians in the 4th Century BC, and numerous Neolithic settlements have been discovered here.


Zadar is a delightfully fun city to visit, with lots of places to explore, and wonderful restaurants to sample the local cuisine. If this isn’t enough to tempt you, Croatia is a good travel bargain, especially off-season. The city quay, where people gather, has a sea organ that chimes in rhythm with the waves. It also has the remarkable glass “Greeting to the Sun,” which you can see in this photo and read about by clicking on the link below:

http://www.zadar.travel/en/city-guide/attractions/05-12-2007/the-greeting-to-the-sun


We are still home at The Holler now, but it is cheers to you from spectacular Lake Vrana and historic Zadar, Croatia~