We flew to North Carolina for a conference at 6 a.m. Sunday, May 19. Around four that afternoon I got a text from one of my sisters saying we'd better have someone check on our house because a big storm had gone through town. Sure enough, our house was badly damaged by hail. Ruined roof and guttering, broken window, battered deck and lawn furniture. All discouraging and time-consuming, but covered by our homeowners insurance, thankfully.

But the hardest to take is how the storm erased all the hours of work we'd put into getting the yard in shape. After spending 8 hours last week weeding, planting, transplanting, pruning, and mulching with this result:

We came home to find trees stripped of their leaves and our plants shredded like salad. Only on the east side of the house did the plants go unscathed.
Our friends took a photo of these hailstones that did the damage.
I'm very grateful our favorite green ceramic pot wasn't broken and the flower cart my dad built for us is undamaged. But we'll be starting from scratch on our flower pots and plantings. Discouraging, yet in light of what the folks in Oklahoma are dealing with right now, we feel very fortunate.

One wonderful ray of hope: I feared our nesting doves had perished in the storm. Or even if they'd survived, that the eggs would be scrambled. As soon as we got home I ran to check on the nest. It was intact and Mama Dove was sitting there! There must still be eggs!
The hanging plant where the nest rests is too high for me to peek into, but as soon as Mama left the nest, I ran for my camera and held it high to take a photo and see if it revealed unbroken eggs. Imagine my joy when THIS is what the camera revealed!
Mama and babies are doing fine, and we are filled with hope.

Mid-way to hatching

Mid-May, and we're about a week away from a blessed event at our house. This lovely turtle dove laid a pair of eggs in our hanging begonia pot on the front porch and she's been sitting patiently ever since. 
She does let me water the edges of the plant occasionally, but keeps a close eye from a perch on the garage roof.

Starting a shade garden

We've never had so much shade in a yard before! It's very nice and we want to take full advantage of it by starting a shade garden beneath the deck. This space is the view from Ken's art studio, so we want color and variety without blocking the view into the back yard.
There were some vines and bushes already here. We've moved things around a bit, but are grateful for the bounty already planted all around the house. This morning, mid-May, we planted a variety of bulbs and corms and pips––lilies of the valley, caladiums, ferns, hostas.

We left a spot for hellebores, a new shade plant we want to try. They are beautiful shade lovers, and just the right height for this space in front of the windows.

The view from a living room window. I know this will be a favorite spot to sit in the cool of evening.

We are excited about all the wildlife we have in the city and bought a bird feeder on Mother's Day to see if we can attract some finches and other birds. Within a few hours of hanging the feeder, we had our first visitors!
We discovered several hostas growing along the side of the house and moved a couple of them to the corner of the shade garden. I've always wanted to try hostas and have never gotten the chance.

What happens when you DON'T have a cat

Amazing all the wildlife that comes around––even in the city––when you don't have a cat guarding your house! We left our kitty at the old house (what Ken has started calling "the old country") knowing she wouldn't be happy as a city cat. We've been blessed with all kinds of wildlife to watch, including a pair of turtledoves that have a nest in a hanging plant on our front porch. Oh, how I love the male's cooing mating call! Such a pretty, yet mournful sound––the reason they are also called mourning doves.
And this little fellow is a regular visitor (perhaps because of the daily peanut a certain someone––not me––leaves for him every morning?) We have geese, too, that often visit the park behind our house. All in all, it almost feels more like we live in the country here, in the middle of the city, than it did in "the old country!"

A happy surprise

 We have a lilac bush! I've loved the scent of lilacs since I was a child, and to discover this pretty bush growing in our front garden is a wonderful surprise. Kind of a reward for waiting SO long for spring to finally arrive!