A Gaseous Robin?

July 5, 2011

I happened to look out the window one day and saw this robin sitting in a flower bed.  Something about how he looked made me notice him (her?).

When I first noticed him he looked a little fat, but right before my eyes he quickly swelled up as you see here.  After I took this picture I got distracted.  And a minute or two later when I looked out again …

… he was walking away looking normal!

Can anyone tell me what that was all about?

Update:  My young friend, Beth, at C. Beth Blog did some research on this and passed on the following info:  The Flame Robin is territorial, defending its territory against other members of its species and also Scarlet Robins where they co-occur…. The Flame Robin deploys a number of agonistic displays, including a breast-puffing display where it puffs its breast feathers.” From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flame_Robin

She points out that the robin species might not be the same, but all robins might exhibit the same behavior.  Sounds logical to me!  Thank, Beth.


Bye, Bye, Birdie

May 25, 2011

A few days ago, Hubby and I noticed this bird’s nest near our front door.

We could see three “babies” (but they looked pretty large.) in the nest, so we took several pictures, trying to get a good one.  That was harder than I would have thought.

So after we had taken a few (We didn’t go closer but stayed on the porch because it was easiest to see into the nest from farther away.), one of the birds surprised us by flying out of the nest.  Apparently it was leave-the-nest day and we just happened to be there to witness that momentous occasion.  Because just a short time later when I went to look at the nest again, they were all three gone.

This is the brave one who left the nest first.

Later when I opened the garage door to leave in the car, I noticed a weed beside this lilac bush next to the garage door. So I walked over to pull it.

After I pulled the weed and started to straighten up, I saw two little eyes looking at me from right inside the bush.  Can you see him?  He’s just about in the middle of the picture and toward the top.  He was sitting very still, and I feel sure that he was one of the first-day-out-of-the-nest guys who decided to sit very still inside that bush and just watch the world go by until he could decide what to do next.  When I returned an hour later, I looked for him again, but he was gone.

And when I went in the house, Hubby pointed out that one of the babies had been sitting on top of one of the chairs on the deck until just before I returned.  And he observed, “They must not be allowed to poop in the nest, because look at all that came out of that one little bird!”   I was sorry I didn’t get a picture of him, just his mess.

They are all gone now, and Hubby will now take down the nest, although I have every confidence that a new one will replace it next year.  And as soon as we wash the evidence off the deck, all signs of the “coming out party” we witnessed will be gone.  But it was fun to get to see.


Wildlife, a Birthday and Triple Yahtzee!

May 16, 2011

Two weeks ago today I made a road trip to my sister, Martha’s house a couple hours away.  I go down to see her ever once in a while, but I especially wanted to go that day because it was her birthday.  And it is a drive that I really don’t mind.  Much of it is on good roads, sometimes even four lanes, through farmland or wooded, rolling hills. And, of course, what makes the trip most enjoyable is that I get to spend time with my sister when I get there!

Martha’s house  is itself in a rural area surrounded with lots of farms and wildlife.

These horses were in a field just a half mile or so from my destination.  Whenever you slow down or stop to look at horses and they come running over to the fence, as these two did, I assume they get treats from people who drive by sometimes.  But I think these may have been some pretty smart horses, because when Martha and I went back past that field on our way to lunch, I told her how interested in me they seemed when I had gone by earlier.  I then slowed down and rolled down my window in hopes of demonstrating their interest.  But, as I said, they must be pretty smart, because they obviously recognized me and/or my car from earlier, and had figured out that this was not a “treat” car, so they totally ignored me that time.

When we returned from lunch, we had some of the cake I had brought to celebrate the day.  Unfortunately, it was my favorite, easy angel food cake that you make in a 9×13 pan, which is definitely not meant to be frosted.  The recipe for disaster was that I baked it just two hours before I was leaving that morning and then, because our mother always glazed angel food cake (but, of course, the traditional shaped kind — tall with a hole in the middle and completely cooled) I decided right before I left to “glaze” this cake too.  Hmmm.  I may have gone too heavy on the glaze, because by the time I got to Martha’s the cake had fallen badly.  But we each had a piece anyway, and actually it was delicious.  It was about an inch high and, because I cut our pieces out of the middle where the frosting had all run, our pieces were half and half — frosting and mooshed cake.  It tasted pretty good and was definitely good for a laugh.

Then we sat down at the kitchen table to play our traditional three games of Triple Yahtzee.  But this time of year, playing at her kitchen table is distracting.  Her husband spreads corn under several trees in the yard every morning before he goes to work.  So the local wildlife knows exactly where to come to get a free meal.  And apparently the word is out that they have nothing to fear at this house, because they are very calm when they see humans, even if we step outside on the deck.

So, here are a few pictures of the animals who strolled up for a little light lunch.

The raccoon started out at the corn by a tree on the other side of the deck from the window where we sat…

but he soon joined the “lunch crowd” at the tree right outside the window.

This blue jay sat on the deck railing for a little bit, apparently just checking things out.

Then he went down and sampled the “buffet” for himself.

He seems to be saying, “Are you looking at ME?”

Then a friend joined him.

At one point there were six out there, but they were all in constant motion so it was hard to get their picture.

Even without the wildlife, I envy Martha and Will this million dollar view.

I took the pictures of the wildlife while sitting at their kitchen table playing Triple Yahtzee with the birthday girl.  And far be it from me to accuse her of “stacking the deck” against me, but I’ll just tell you that she handily won all three games, while I constantly interrupted the game to take another picture.

Happy Birthday again, Martha.  I love you even more than I love the view from your kitchen window!


Don’t Duck the Question!

April 27, 2010

I love “before” and “afters” — I suppose that’s the reason I enjoy the Home and Garden Network on TV so much!

So, regarding the picture I posted yesterday (btw, this is one of the spring-fed ponds in our addition and it occurs to me that I should assure you that that isn’t oil on the surface.  This was taken in late afternoon  and the design on the water comes from reflections of near-by homes), here is the “before”, straight out of the camera:

and here is the “after” that I posted:

Have I ever mentioned?  I love color!  So when I adjusted the saturation of the colors in the original, I was delighted with all the vivid color that showed up in the “after” that reminded me of an abstract painting.

But later I looked back at the original and second guessed myself (another hobby of mine) that maybe it was the best version after all, because the duck is the most colorful thing in the photo.

And, if I crop the original . . .

. . . it puts more emphasis on the duck .

I have many other variations of this picture that I won’t bore you with.  But let me just say that when I get a photo that interests me like this one does, it pays for itself in entertainment value, in the fun time I have playing with it!

Now … the question.  Did I post the right version of the picture?  Or, to be perfectly honest, should I have posted it straight out of the camera?  Because I’m fairly new at this, I’m never sure of the ethics of photography.  In order to be completely truthful, should I always post pictures “as is”?  I really don’t know.

I’m not sure I can ever be cured of my addiction to color, but I will certainly take to heart any opinions you have!

Okay, I do have to share one other variation that I really like …

Oh, and I forgot this one — I really like it too …

Stop!  Get a grip, Sandra.  Just step away from the duck picture and go do something else!

Content is copyright protected.


Duck in Abstract

April 26, 2010

To see some of the interesting detail, click on the picture once to make it screen size.

May your Monday be just ducky!


I never get tired of “the show”

February 15, 2010

 

There are lots of big lakes within driving distance of the city where we live, so ever since my parents and I moved here when I was nine years old, I have known lots of people who had lake cottages, or even lived at a lake and drove into town each day to work.  And, even though, over the years I had been a guest at lake cottages many times, I really never saw what all the fuss was about.  Sure, it was fun for an afternoon of boating and swimming, but what was so great about spending alot of time at a lake?

Then, when Hubby and I were looking for a new home after a developer had bought our farmhouse, friends who lived on this small  lake in an addition right in town, had us over for dinner.  We loved the neighborhood (which includes two other small lakes) and we were intrigued by the fact that you could actually fish, swim and have a non-motorized boat right out your back door!  So, long story short, we ended up buying the house that was for sale second door from our friends.

And now I get it.  Yes, the activities we can do on the water (mainly done when our grandchildren are here) are fun, but for me, it is the constant entertainment right outside the window that routinely thrills me.

I know that geese are frequently considered an annoyance, but I love to watch them, along with lots of  ducks and occasional swans, loons or herons thrown in!

I’ve never considered myself a big lover of wildlife, but I have to say that I never get tired of seeing what’s going on on the lake.

I have also come to realize how hard it is to take a picture of birds in flight!  I’ve never gotten “the perfect shot” I invision — even though I’ve seen a perfect one many times, but always at a time when I didn’t have camera in hand.

Whether I ever get the perfect picture or not, I never get tired of the “show”.


Hold The Bunny, Please

September 9, 2009

 

I have a fairly new blogging friend in the UK named Leslie.  She and her husband are great chefs, hence the name of their blog, Cooking with the Joneses.

I love reading their recipes and seeing the usually delicious-looking pictures, and am often tempted to try one.  So, if anyone could make cooked rabbit look or sound good to me, it would be the Joneses.  

They have now posted a recipe for rabbit here.

But, I’m sorry to say, Leslie and Baz, it didn’t work.  I still just can’t imagine eating rabbit.

And, let me tell you, this isn’t the first time I’ve resisted.

~ When Hubby and I were first married, he went rabbit hunting one Saturday at his parent’s farm.  Being a 19 year old city girl, or maybe just being in denial, it never occurred to me that he might actually shoot a rabbit! 

Several hours later, when he proudly walked in the front door of our apartment, which was the bottom floor of an old house (I tell you that to explain an apartment with a front and back door), he was carrying a plastic bag with a long naked body in it!  It was a rabbit carcass!  I remember how proud he looked, and then he began to talk about how we were going to cook it.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I think I could sum it up this way, “NOT A CHANCE!” (possibly accompanied by tears).  And then after whatever “discussion” we had, I next remember him walking out the back door to put “Bugs” in the trash and telling me, somewhat grumpily, that I should never tell his parents that we threw away good food!  (I don’t remember them asking how we liked our rabbit dinner, so they may have suspected, or even privately predicted, what would happen.  Remember, they knew me too!)

~ Then when DD and Gunny were approximately 8 and 10 years old, we had a rabbit take up residence in the back yard of our rural home, eating everything in sight.  Several efforts to run it off had been unsuccessful.  So, since I had become much more accepting of my farm boy’s ways,  it didn’t surprise me when he said he was going to have to get rid of the rabbit.  And, this time, he said HE WAS going to cook it!

Okay.  I had become more realistic about the food chain than I had been as a young city girl, but I still just couldn’t imagine eating a rabbit.  Well, Hubby had also learned and become more accepting of a few things about me.  So, we came to an agreement … he cooked the rabbit and he and the kids ate it (and the kids even said they enjoyed it!) … while I went to the mall to shop.  They had the kitchen all cleaned up, with all evidence of their meal gone, by the time I got home, with a cute new pair of shoes.  Perfect.

Even though I was raised on beef, pork and chicken bought from the grocery store, 44 years of being married to Hubby has made me much more realistic about where my meat comes from.  But I still just can’t get used to the idea of eating “wild stuff” … especially bunny rabbit.


Sorry, Mickey, but Mice are NOT cute!

January 16, 2009

 

While catching up on some of my favorite blogs today, I read this post by Carla at Four by Forty about her cat Griffen and his “mouse duties.”

Warning:  If you are easily upset by the real-life adventures of living in a house where there are mice, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!  Or, just drop down to my last post and read about outhouses.  (Now that I’ve said that, I’m thinking, “Is this what my life has come to?  Blogging about icky mice and old outhouses?  How pathetic.”)

Anyway, reading Carla’s post made me think about our mouse problem in the old farmhouse, and a couple of unusual happenings.  Twice we found dead mice in unusual places.  Once, we found one floating in a toilet (with a closed lid).  Gross, I know, but I warned you.

The other time, Hubby and I came home from an evening out and found a dead mouse laying in the middle of the kitchen floor, not close to anything — not even under a light fixture or the ceiling fan.  The dog was in the kennel outside and we had not put out any poison, so we have no idea what happened to him.  I’m assuming he just got old and croaked mid-stride while crossing our kitchen floor!  At least he gave us the courtesy of not dying inside a wall like some of his kissin’ cousins did on occasion.  I won’t even go there!

I’ve mentioned before some of the specific conveniences I appreciate since we moved to this much newer house 5 years ago — especially an attached garage and even heat in all rooms, but I would just add to that how thankful I am that we now live in a house with NO MICE! 

One other memory about mice.  Our first house was an old one too, but in town.  I was baking in the kitchen one evening and just caught a glimpse of a tail going under a cabinet, and I freaked out!  Hubby immediately went to the nearby grocery and got a mouse trap, but by the time we went to bed, it hadn’t been caught yet.  I knew that for sure, because I faithfully checked the trap about every two minutes.  So, I told Hubby I just didn’t think I could go to bed knowing that wild animal was loose in our house!  Gunny was a baby then.  What if it attacked the baby!

Hubby, always thinkin’, put my mind at rest.  He told me that mice couldn’t climb steps (our bedrooms were upstairs).  Ahh, okay, then I could at least sleep in peace if I didn’t have to worry about it coming upstairs.  I know, I know — young and dumb.  But, hey, it worked. 

I don’t remember how long it was before I found out that mice, in fact, could get  a.n.y.w.h.e.r.e  t.h.e.y  w.a.n.t.e.d  in a house through the walls.  But, I do know that Hubby’s quick thinking allowed me to sleep well that night.

Ignorance doesn’t just equal bliss.  Sometimes it equals sleep too!


Winter’s Coming and Birds are Going . . .

November 23, 2008

 

100_3070e1 We had our first snow this week.  Winter’s coming. (Time to put away the deck furniture and cover the grill!) 

100_3071e1 And, apparently migrating birds don’t need to watch the weather channel to know.  We suddenly have huge flocks of greese and ducks coming and going every day.

100_3542e1 The geese and ducks are either using our lake as a “staging area” to start their journey south or we’re a stop-off for them as they’re passing through.  While I assume there is some organization to them, it isn’t obvious to me. 

100_3534e2 They mill around for a long time, and look at me and my camera, like “What are you looking at?”  Of course, I’m waiting for them to take off in large majestic flocks that I can photograph.  But, they are too smart for that.  They know I’ll get cold or bored and go in eventually.  And their patience is rewarded — I go in the house and they take off!

So, most of the pictures I have of them aren’t the wonderful skimming-over-the-water-and-then-soaring-into-the-air,-barely-missing-the-roof kind of pictures I would like. 

100_3255e2 Although I did manage to fool these three into thinking I was going in, so they took off when I was actually able to get a picture.  But, not exactly the “flock flight” I had invisioned. 

The “flock” pictures I do have are the wayyyy up in the air kind that I get when I hurry out when they are already on their way.

100b3190e1

100_3218e1

100b3200e1This one looks a little like they’re trying to decide who’s going to lead.  I know that feeling.  Hubby and I have that same discussion sometimes!

I am enjoying learning photography, even when the subjects aren’t particularly cooperative.

May you have a blessed Sunday.

 


The Picture that I’m Glad Got Away!

August 8, 2008
I was working in the yard last Saturday afternoon and had the overhead garage door open because I was going in and out with clippings and to get tools.

When I was finished and walked into the garage to put everything away, I heard a fluttering sound.  I looked toward the sound and saw that it was coming from the top of one of the windows, where there was a beautiful large butterfly fluttering against the window, trying to get out.  I have no idea what kind it was — it had markings that reminded me of a Monarch, but it was more beige or light gold with black in its markings rather than the orange and black I associate with Monarchs.

My first “new photographer” thought was GO GET THE CAMERA!!  I rushed into the house, grabbed the camera and rushed back out.  But I was disappointed to see that when I returned to the window the butterfly had not only quit fluttering, but had folded its wings together and was just sitting at the very top of the window.  No longer a picture there.  But, my next thought was, had he given up?  It must have been my imagination, but it even seemed to me that I could see him breathing, like he was trying to catch his breath.  Then a fly that was also in the window walked very close to the butterfly, in fact it looked from where I stood like it had actually brushed against the butterfly’s head, but the butterfly barely moved.  I don’t know much of anything about butterflies, but I took that as a very bad sign and thought, “Oh no!  He’s giving up!  I have to do something!” 

I needed to somehow “catch” the butterfly and take it outside!  Several problems — how to get to it way up in the window and how to catch and release it, without injuring it.  Think quick.  I didn’t know how long I had!

 I rushed into the house and looked in the closet where we keep the cleaning supplies for “butterfly catching” equipment. 

Ah Ha!  The Step Stool!

I grabbed the little utility step ladder.  I thought if I stood on the very top of it I could probably reach the butterfly.  I’ve heard that you must never touch a butterfly with your hands.  I have no idea if that’s true, but I wasn’t going to take a chance.  Not a hard decision, because I don’t think I could have reached it with my hands anyway.

Next, I looked for something to capture him in.  A butterfly net would have been nice, but I had nothing like that, but the mental picture of one made me think of an old wire mesh colander I have way in the back of a cabinet, because I never use it any more.  (Garage Sale fodder?  Maybe.  But, that’s another post.)  So, I got it out. 

But now, how was I going to “sweep” him into the colander without injuring him?  I returned to the cleaning closet.  I immediately dismissed a broom as too hard. And then I saw what might be perfect for the job — on the bottom shelf was the perfect “butterfly pushing” tool — the new, improved version of a feather duster — a micro-fiber duster.

The Cleaning Closet

So, I rushed back out into the garage with my “equipment” — the step ladder, the colander and the duster.  The butterfly hadn’t moved.

I set up the step ladder as close to the window as I could get. (Like most garages, we have lots of stuff sitting on the floor around the edges of ours.)

 

Then, holding the colander and duster, I climbed to the very top step (which you’re technically not supposed to stand on because you might “tip”).  It would have been nice to be a little closer, but I didn’t know if I had time to move stuff from in front of the window, so I “made do.”  Carefully standing on the very top step, I extended my arm holding the colander toward the butterfly.  As soon as I placed it over him, he let go of the window and moved to the mesh of the colander.  Perfect!  Then I took the duster and gently placed its fibers against the butterfly.  When I drew the whole thing back to me, I was pretty sure I had him in there, but was afraid to move anything to look.  Then I did a little shaky descent down the step ladder without holding on, because both hands were occupied with the colander and the handle of the duster.  When I got to the bottom, I walked outside, removed the duster and at the same time raised the colander skyward, and the beautiful butterfly flew away!  Hooray!!!  I like to think that he’s out there now, enjoying his new lease on life, but hopefully a little smarter about flying into buildings that he then can’t figure out how to get out of!

So, instead of getting to photograph a beautiful butterfly, I got to save a beautiful butterfly.  Without a doubt — a great trade-off.

And, while I didn’t get a photograph of the butterfly — the Butterfly Catching Crew did agree to pose for a group shot before returning to their normal duties.  Good work guys!