A sad start to 2017


It’s been a very sad start to 2017. Hubs dad unexpectedly passed on January 4th, which was a huge shock to the family. On a positive note, he didn’t suffer and lived a grand life, enjoying good health until recent weeks. He was almost 87.img_3011

Hellebore shooting star….most apt!

We will all miss him, but intend to remember, and act upon his famous catch phrase…

“Just smile kid”

He shall have a royal send-off next Tuesday.


It appears that my fancy pigeons/doves are missing. Bella was the first to disappear, poof, just like that. She had taken to flying with my released flock and stood out like a beacon, being white. I have an uneasy feeling that the kestrel or sparrow hawk picked her off.

A few weeks later, Ben, the dove also went AWOL…..he too enjoyed flying with the flock, finally, yesterday, Billy-Bob was absent. I have scoured the gardens for white feathers, and have checked outside the windows for blood, but haven’t come across anything suspicious. I would love to think they have all gone elsewhere, but I suspect a bird of prey is responsible. It’s so odd without them!

I just have to remind myself that they had that second chance, and enjoyed their freedom over the last eight months.


My wrought iron birds are still here. I have added the latest addition.


Whatever happens, the seasons continue. It’s comforting to see signs of spring, new buds and emerging bulbs are everywhere. They will have to watch themselves as temperatures here are suddenly plummeting.


This witch hazel is adding warmth and bringing good cheer, daughter bought it for me last year and it’s going from strength to strength.


I’m also another year older and am reaching an age where I would prefer to forget about birthdays!!! Still, hubs treated me to a gin tasting session, and a shed load of plants which will arrive shortly, I wait with bated breath.

I’ve never drunk gin so it was certainly an experience. I really enjoyed mixing the gins with exotic tonics and botanicals. It was fun slapping the mint between our hands before adding it!

And finally…


How could you not smile looking at this?

Thank you Anne, I’m afraid it will be a while before I use it, it’s far too cute!

  50 comments for “A sad start to 2017

  1. January 12, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    So sorry to hear your sad news. It’s always a shock to the system when you suffer a loss so take care,

    Maybe your doves just fancied a holiday somewhere warmer.

    The witch hazel is lovely.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Sue, it would be marvelous if the birds reappeared. Witch hazel is always welcome at this time of the year.xxx

  2. January 12, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    My deepest and warmest sympathies to you, hubs and family. It is lovely to hear you talk about the positive things in Dad’s armoury and almost right up to the last as well. I am sorry for your loss, I’ll be thinking of you all.

    Your birdies may well have found pastures new, popped off somewhere warmer, and used the time you gave them to find the ability to become more independent.

    I have never seen Witch-hazel as nature intended, as far as I know, I am used to the bottles of clear liquid that is obtained from it. I am so, I am delighted with your picture.

    Your gin tasting seems to have been lively and an interesting learning experience. I tasted a new artisan gin, mercifully, I have forgotten it, bar its name – Rock Rose, IMHO any gin that has to be masked with lots of sweet fizzy mixer drink does not have much substance. It’s alleged to have won all sorts of [minor] drinks industry awards, none of which, mean anything to me.

    A hug to you and the family, do take care. xxxx

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks Menhir, I’m glad that FIL had such a happy, healthy life and didn’t suffer. That’s the best way to go when you have to go…
      It would be great to think the birds are on vacation! Maybe they have found a better spot now winter is here.
      I love seeing the witch hazels bloom at this time of the year, they always bring a little cheer.xxx

  3. January 12, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    My deepest sympathies to your husband and family. I love the signature catch phrase. What a sweet gift from Anne.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks Susanne. It is a good catch phrase isn’t it….Anne sure is a sweetheart.xxx

  4. January 12, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    What tough times you have had over the last few months….best wishes coming to you with some sunshine from Australia to hurry spring along! I think ”just smile kid” is perfect advice. Maybe your pigeons are on their way to Australia, there are heaps of them at Bondi Beach eating everyone’s left over fish and chips!
    Best wishes for more spring buds popping up!

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      Thanks Gerrie, a little of your sunshine would be MOST welcome! A smile sure does go a long way! I’m in awe of pigeons, they seem to have taken over the world.xxx

  5. veggiemummy
    January 12, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your father in law – he sounded like a lovely man and his catch phrase is perfect. I just hope that your fancy pigeons are living it up somewhere else for a while. Love the hedgehog and I’m very envious of your birthday gin tasting – I’ll have to remember to slap the mint next time! xx

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks Veggiemummy, he was a lovely man who had a great sense of humour. I do hope those birds of mine are playing out somewhere else, it would be good if they put in an appearance though…..oh yes, don’t forget to give the mint a good smack!xxx

  6. Linda P.
    January 12, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about the sudden loss of your father-in-law. I’ll be thinking of you at this difficult time. It’s another loss that you have to deal with. You and your family have been having a rough time lately. I hope something nasty hasn’t happened to the birdies. Let’s hope for the best that they are ok and they’re out there somewhere. The iron birds look good in the garden. I’m sure you’re looking forward to the arrival of the new plants. Glad you enjoyed the gin tasting session. Many happy returns!

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks Linda, how kind you are. I really hope the birds are somewhere, I would be pleased if they put in the odd appearance. I am looking forward to spring, winter seems longer each year.xxx

  7. January 13, 2017 at 12:31 am

    I am so sorry you have yet another loss in the family. It’s always so hard to say goodbye to a parent. Please pass my sympathies to your husband and the family. Sad too about the pigeons. I hope they’ve just flown off somewhere and are safe and sound. As you say, at least you gave them extra months they might not have otherwise had. And finally happy birthday. I am glad there is a bright spot in your start to 2017.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks Jennifer, I shall pass your sympathies on. It would be good to think my charges have merely gone awol, at least they had that second chance.xxx

  8. January 13, 2017 at 1:39 am

    I am so sorry to hear of this fresh loss to your family, Diana, and send my love for your gentle peace. He sounds a lovely man and how blessed to recall him in your own and others’ smiles!

    Sad, too, to learn of the doves’ departure, but perhaps they’ll turn up again.

    I sure do love your cast iron flock; how wonderful they look parading around the garden! The witch hazel is lovely…can’t wait to see what your birthday plants will be!

    Gin-tasting sounds like an adventure! Your husband does come up with lovely treats.

    I send blessings for your new year to flow in peace, flowers, joy,: Happy Birthday, my friend! and creativity

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks so much Kitty, we all have so many happy memories of a lovely man. It would be great if the birds have gone somewhere else, I would be more than happy to get a glimpse of them. My birthday plants have arrived, most are sleeping but I am looking forward to seeing them in full bloom in the summer. I did enjoy the gin tasting, it was fun and certainly different. Hugs.xxx

  9. January 13, 2017 at 2:27 am

    I’m so sorry to hear you have suffered another family loss. But perhaps witch hazel, gin, and hedgehogs will help to keep you smiling. Happy birthday, and hoping that your year improves quickly.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks Brenda, yes, however sad life can be there is always something to smile about.xxx

  10. January 13, 2017 at 2:55 am

    Sorry for the family loss and the awol birds. Saw summer today, been hiding away. Feb is our best month down here anyway. You can keep your Australian heat Aussies, in the 40’s is totally ridiculous.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks Peter, glad you are having better weather, it’s freezing, wet and windy here.xxx

  11. January 13, 2017 at 6:35 am

    So sorry to hear the sad news about your father in law, it is never easy when parents die. Hopefully your birds are living it up somewhere new, at least your wrought iron ones are staying put. Love the witch hazel, super little flowers.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Thanks Pauline. Yes, at least my wrought iron flock is still present! Witch hazel is such a lovely winter bloomer isn’t it.xxx

  12. January 13, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Sad news about hub’s dad. I do hope that your doves are okay, and have just moved on.
    Happy, belated, birthday. I look forward to seeing your shed load of plants. xx

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      Thanks Flighty, yes it would be good to think the birds have just moved on, time will tell I suppose. I shall let you know what plants I have, I’m certainly looking forward to getting them all planted out.xxx

  13. January 13, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Good morning dear Dina….so sorry to hear about your Dad…he sounds lovely, but as you say what a blessing that he didn’t have to suffer. I love his expressing…..’Just smile kid’ – and my dear friend, a very happy birthday to you….You look like a teenager, so no worries there….and I can just imagine how much fun the gin tasting must have been:)

    Love the new of the birds, and garden…and yes signs of spring are already with us….

    Dreamt about you the other day, that we were cycling towards the beach near you….:) Have a beautiful weekend, and here’s the a grand send off for your Dad in Law:) xxxxxxx

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks Janet, it is always a blessing when somebody doesn’t suffer. We shall all have to remember to smile more in his honour. Talking of smiling, your comment re me looking like a teenager has me laughing out loud!!!
      We shall have to turn that dream into a reality! xxx

  14. January 13, 2017 at 10:33 am

    So sorry to hear about your father-in-law but glad that he had such a good and long life, surely something positive to hold on to in your sadness. Was there myself this time last year, my thoughts are with you and hubs. Love the witch hazel – is it Jelena? So fabulous to have that colour in winter! Hope your birds are okay, Caro x

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks Caro. I’m glad that FIL had such a good life too. I hope things are a little easier for you after losing your dad….time is a great healer. It is Jelena, it truly is a wonderful colour, especially during these grim days. xxx

  15. January 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

    I’m so sorry to hear this family news, Dina. My sympathies to all of you. The witch hazel is lovely – I’ve always wanted to treat myself to some and I must do so. Maybe the birds have moved off in search of some different food if they’ve joined a local flock – I hope so.
    And very best wishes for your birthday. The gin selection sounds interesting and fun although I’m not a gin drinker myself except for homemade sloe gin (which I do love at Christmas).

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks Wendy. You really must treat yourself to a couple of witch hazels, they are a wonderful burst of colour at this time of the year.It would be great to think the birds have moved on….here’s hoping. I’ve never drunk gin before so enjoyed the experience.xxx

  16. Jo
    January 13, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear such sad news, you’re having a real time of it just lately, Dina. That’s the way to go though, after enjoying a full life and being blessed with good health, who’d want to linger in pain? Not I. I know that’s no comfort and it’s such a big shock when it’s sudden but think of it as a blessing, I’m sure he’d want you to. I hope Tuesday goes as well as these things can do. Sending you and your loved ones my deepest condolences.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks Jo, life eh? I totally agree re being blessed with good health, I certainly wouldn’t want to linger in pain either. We will certainly give him a good send off.xxx

  17. January 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Big hugs, lovely Dina. So sorry about your news – your family must be reeling. But how comforting to have that immensely positive attitude by Dad in law. Dads of that age were a good vintage!

    Well, I guess that pigeons and doves are like teenagers … eventually they need to move away from home and be independent. They may have been picked off … on the other hand, they may be living the life of Riley somewhere!

    I always worry when the plants are budding too early. I’m a fan of a proper cold winter so nature knows where it is.

    Chin up girl, may 2017 bring comfort and peace. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 11:09 pm

      Ahh, thanks Gill. It has been a strange few months, but yes, his positive attitude certainly helps!
      Hahaha, I’m smiling at your comments re the birds being like teenagers, hoping they have up sticks and left.
      Spring seems to be coming early this year, the new growth will have to hunker down during frosts. Yes, here’s to the rest of 2017 running smoothly.xxxx

  18. January 13, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing about your husband’s beloved father. I’m sorry you are all suffering his loss from your family. Hope you can all smile at the wonderful stories from his life as you gather next Tuesday. Love that photo — an anniversary?

    Your photos of that new growth is my favorite time of year. I love that your husband is so creative with his birthday present to you. And soon, I’m sure you’ll be sharing the plants that will come.

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Thanks Anne, we shall all try and smile while we remember him next week, yes that was their last anniversary photo.
      I am looking forward to spring and all those new plants blooming in the garden,xxx

  19. January 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Oh, Dina. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. I’ll be thinking of you on Tuesday, when you gather to remember your father-in-law, and celebrate his life. I suppose there’s no “good way” to go, as they say, but it is good that he didn’t have to suffer over an extended period.

    I’m hoping that your birdies simply have gone off. A year ago, the two that I especially liked — they were so beautiful! — disappeared. Like you, I assumed the worst. But just last week one reappeared, and I’m hoping the other does, as well. Because of the striking black and white patterns, there’s no question it’s the same bird. If only they could tell us their stories!

    The witch hazel is beautiful. You’re reminded me that it’s time to look for our native witch hazel. I’d best get myself outdoors, and looking around!

    • Snow Bird
      January 14, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks Linda for your kind thoughts, we shall certainly celebrate his life, that is exactly what he would want us to do. It is such a relief to know he didn’t suffer.
      I’m hoping the birds have found pastures new, it would be good to get a glimpse of them. I memorize feathers and patterns too, good to know yours came back.xxx

  20. January 14, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    So sorry to hear your news Dina, a sad start to the year for you but it sounds like you have so many positive memories of him and he had a zest for life a philosophy you have too. Hope he gets a good send off.
    You will miss your birds around the garden, you did give them a second chance, lets hope they have just moved on.
    Take care of yourself.

    • Snow Bird
      January 15, 2017 at 12:06 am

      Thanks Annie, he was a positive man who would appreciate a good send off, with everyone smiling.
      Here’s to those birds just moving on!xxx

  21. January 15, 2017 at 4:11 am

    So sorry for your loss! There is comfort in the seasons, though. Lovely witch hazel.

    • Snow Bird
      January 16, 2017 at 12:56 am

      Thanks Jason, yes, the seasons are a comfort, always something new to look out for. It really is a gorgeous witch hazel, just waiting for my yellow ones to open now.xxx

  22. January 15, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Sincere condolences Dina to you, your hubs and family. It’s awful to loose a close family member, my thoughts are with you.
    {{Hugs}} Rose H xx

    • Snow Bird
      January 16, 2017 at 12:57 am

      Thanks Rose. Good to hear from you. Hoping you get back to posting soon…xxx

  23. January 16, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Oh dear, so sorry that you have had yet more sadness in your lives.
    Maybe your pigeons have decided to move on somewhere else. But your wrought iron ones aren’ t going anywhere.
    A birthday hey? It happens to us all without terrifying regularity, each one rushing up faster than the one before. Many happy returns for yours.
    With your gorgeous witch hazel and the stunning hellebore you have exciting things to enjoy in the garden.

  24. Snow Bird
    January 16, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Life eh? I suppose we just have to keep on doing our thing as none of us get out of this gig alive! I do hope those birds show up at some point….I have my doubts though. Odd how much I miss them! Thanks Chloris….birthdays sure do come around far too quickly!xxx

  25. January 19, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sad loss, my condolences to all the family.
    I hope Tuesday went well.

    I do like the witch hazel, a very nice plant.

    Thinking of you

    All the best Jan

    • Snow Bird
      January 22, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      Thanks so much Jan. Witch hazels certainly add a little much needed colour at this timeof the year.xxx

  26. January 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    How sad………it does not matter the age, we always miss those we love and have shared our life with.

    I love witch hazel. The scent is divine.
    They never stay here, the rabbits always seem to destroy them one way or another.

    We have a sparrow hawk hunting in the garden on a regular basis. Always know when she is around as the garden becomes very quiet.

  27. Snow Bird
    January 23, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks Cheryl, I agree, age makes no difference. What a shame about your witch hazel, I am lucky to be rabbit free. I have a feeling those poor birds were got, we have kestrels, buzzards and sparrow hawks, I even suspect the owls!xxx

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