Friday, March 31, 2006

Milbert's Tortoiseshell (?) in the Adirondacks, 2001

Flutter by,
Floating flower
in the sky.
Kiss me with your
Petal wings -
Whisper secrets,
Tell of spring.

Author Unknown

Cross-posted at Whorled Leaves

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Workin' on a hole...

Found this red-belly this morning working a dead snag on our property line. I'm not sure how long he/she has been at it, but there's the makings of a nice nest hole there - it amazes me how perfectly round it is! I can see a place or two on the snag where a hole was started and then abandoned in favor if the one directly in front of the bird.

I and the Bird #20

The current issue of I and the Bird is up at Bootstrap Analysis. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

3/29/06 Mid-week cat fix (?!?)

This is Jupiter, he belongs to my friend Anna from work. This photo was taken by a photographer from the Asbury Park Press as part of their 2006 Battle of the Pet Photographers Contest. If Jupi wins the contest, Anna will get $500 and so will the photographer who took the photo. If you're local and have a copy of the newspaper from 3/24 - 3/26 please send in your ballot with a vote for Jupiter! Isn't he beautiful? You can have a look at the other 25 contestants by clicking on the photo above. Sorry, but no bunnies made it into the contest, but then I didn't send in an entry with pics of my beauties ;-)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

When the talking stopped

My dad was a talker, a storyteller, a lecturer. As children, my brothers and I were raised with the philosophy that children were to be seen and not heard; especially at the dinner table.

My oldest brother tells the story of an hours long drive to Canada for a fishing trip with my dad a few years ago, when my dad talked nonstop for the whole trip. He talked so much that he was hoarse when they arrived. Anyone who knew my dad would know this to be entirely likely.

As a result, I'm a very quiet person. Not shy, just more prone to sit back and listen. I spent lots of time wishing that my dad would just be quiet and stop talking for a little while. When I grew up and was married, I got to the point where I could joke with my dad about his talkativeness. He was a strict, very old-fashioned kind of person. He would allow this *freshness* from his only daughter and laugh when I rolled my eyes at him for saying, "In other words..." for the umpteenth time in a story that I had already heard a bazillion times. His talking was as much a defining feature as was the cigarette dangling from his fingers and the cup of coffee he never seemed to be without.

This picture was taken on Christmas morning in 2003 and we found out about 2 months later that he was sick and dying from cancer. One of the hardest things about the months that followed wasn't coming to terms with the fact that my dad would die soon, but facing the day-to-day with him. Watching him lose all the things that he loved so much, little by little. He moved out of his home and gave up his dog to the SPCA because he needed my brothers and I to care him. He (finally) gave up smoking because he no longer enjoyed it. Coffee didn't hold the same pleasure anymore without a cigarette to accompany it. He lost his appetite. Every favorite meal I fixed for him tasted like *cardboard*. He didn't have the energy to sit at the computer or to make endless charts of his monthly financial budget.

He stopped talking and telling stories. Never did I think that I would miss that, but I did and I do. I wish that I had been paying more attention. I wonder that I didn't maybe miss something important with all my eye-rolling.

Monday, March 27, 2006

All about me (from Susan's blog)

First grade teacher's name: Mrs. LaForge. I was scared of her.
Last word you said: Dora!
Last song you sang: Put Your Head on My Shoulder (to the dog)
Last thing you laughed at: Susan's answers to this silly quiz.
Last time you cried: Hmm, can't remember.
What's in your cd player? Eva Cassidy's "Songbird"
What color socks are you wearing? White.
What's under your bed? Nothing! My husband vacuumed today! ;-)
What time did you wake up today? 6:45 am
Current hair: Curly blonde mess.
Current outfit: Jeans, t-shirt, cardigan sweater.
Current annoyance: My husband watching wrestling on the tv in the next room.
Current smell: White Sage & Citrus candle.
Current longing: More free time without guilt for what I *should* be doing.
Current desktop picture: Bunny photo sent by a friend from PB.
Current favorite music artist: Keith Urbin (cute country guy with a nice voice)
Current book: Vanishing Acts by Jodi Piccoult (which I can't seem to get through); Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez (for Whorled Leaves); Beyond Your Doorstep by Hal Borland (to relax before bed); The Kite Runner by Khaled Husseini (for the 4th time with my students)
Current worry: Will it ever get warm?
Current hate: n/a Try not to be hateful.
Current favorite article of clothing: My old white sneakers.
Line from the last thing you wrote to someone: Huh? Don't remember.
I am happiest when: I have the day off.
I feel lonely when: Never lonely.
Favorite authors: Kent Haruf, Hal Borland
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Right here; just wish everyone else weren't here too.
Famous person you have met: Vice-President Gore drove past my house once. Bruce Springsteen lives in the next town over, does that count?
Do you have any regrets? Sure, but not many and they're not important ones.
Sex or love: Love.
Favorite coffee: Dunkin Donuts extra, extra light with cream.
Favorite smell: Behind my bunnies' ears.
What makes you mad? Moody, self-centered people.
Favorite way to waste time: Blogging.
What is your best quality? Adaptability; looking innocent.
Are currently in love/lust? Well, I've been married for 13 years. What would you guess?
What's the craziest thing you have ever done? Not too prone to craziness.
Do you find it hard to trust people? No.
Last thing you bought yourself: Lunch.
Bath or shower? Shower.
Favorite season: Fall.
Favorite color: Green.
Favorite flavor: Italian anything.
Favorite time of day: Late at night when everyone else is asleep.
Any secret crushes? Yea, and he knows it too.
Do you wear a watch? Usually.
Favorite stores: Barnes and Noble.
How big is your closet? Tiny.
Ever spend more then $200 in a store? Yes.
Do your friends know everything about you? No, they might be surprised.
What do they tend to be like? Opinionated, smart, good people with big hearts.
Can you count on them? I hope so.
Can they count on you? I hope so.
Last book you read: Local Wonders by Ted Kooser
Last movie you saw: Braveheart
Movie you saw on the big screen: Haven't been to the movies in years. Think it was Winged Migration. Hated it.
Show you watched on tv: Don't like tv. It's good to fall asleep to, though.
Song you heard: Come a Little Closer Baby by Billy Currington.
Thing you had to drink: Sam Adam's Spring Ale. Yum!
Thing you ate: Tuna and American on wheat for lunch.
Time you showered: This morning.
Time you smiled: A few minutes ago.
Time you laughed: A few minutes ago.
Person you hugged: Not the huggy type.
Person you talked to online: Hmm, don't remember. Maybe Michelle.
Person you talked to on the phone: Hate phones too. My DH on the way to the vet.
Do drugs? No. ;-)
Drink? Sometimes.
Sleep with stuffed animals? No.
Have a dream that keeps coming back? Yes. Something about going over a bridge and not wanting to.
Play an instrument? Sort of: piano, clarinet. Trying to learn the tinwhistle.
Read the newspaper? Yes, online.
Believe in miracles?Yes.
Consider yourself tolerant? For the most part.
Like the taste of alchohol? No.
Go to church? Not often enough.
Have any secrets? A couple.
Have any pets? Bwaa, haa ha.
Have any piercings? Just my ears.
Have any tattoos? No way. My husband has plenty.
Hate yourself? Huh???
Wish on stars? When I need to.
Like your handwriting? Yes.
Believe in ghosts? Yes.
Believe in the tooth fairy? No.
Sing in the shower? No.

Wanna go for a ride?!?

That I was home in the middle of the day, on a work day, should have been his first hint that I was up to no good. Despite his age, Buddy is still a sucker for a car ride. He always seems to think we're going to the beach until we pull into the driveway of the vet's office. Then the whining and dirty looks start.

Buddy makes me proud with the way that he behaves at the vet. He politely steps onto the scale in the waiting room and sits down to be weighed. He doesn't blush when the receptionist announces his weight to the whole room (94.1 lbs. !!). He doesn't pull on the leash like some wild thing. He's too scared to misbehave.

I can tell that he likes our new vet better than the place we've gone to for most of his life. I don't have to drag and coax him into the door with my silly voice. He doesn't show his teeth to this vet when she shines the light in his eyes the way he did with our old vet. He still tries to crawl under me to hide, but even that is an improvement.

So, we came home with yet another rinse for his ears and the same old meds to try and get rid of this ear infection. It seems to go away for a while and then comes back. Hopefully, this time it will work. I know that Buddy isn't looking forward to my cleaning his ears and then squirting the goopy meds in twice a day. He goes along with it well enough. So long as I sing to him, while I do it. The things we do.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Hanging up the welcome mat

Despite the rain off and on all day I needed to be outside doing something. So I spent a few hours cleaning out the old nestboxes and searching in the basement for the new hangers I bought last fall.

All of the old boxes were full of sticks from the house wrens. I found a cranky looking little black spider in the bottom of one of the boxes and felt bad for disturbing his slumber.

I spread the boxes out a bit more and put one in the magnolia at the front of the house. Not sure if I'll get anyone there, but it's worth trying, I suppose. I was tempted to buy a house with a larger hole for carolina wrens, but was afraid that would only encourage the house sparrows to nest. A few times I've had chickadees (think that's them peeping out of the box at right).

I like to refer to the book at left for help in deciding where to place a nest box and other questions about how to be a good landlord for birds nesting on your property. It's a good book for beginners and includes tips on attracting and feeding birds, good plants for birds and butterflies and some info about hummingbirds. It was one of the first I bought about birds and has been a good general reference through the years.

Tink the Frenchie

Bunnies come in a multitude of varieties, but I'm partial to the big ones. My Flemish Giants get a lot of wide-eyed looks from folks who've never met one before. Most recently, there was the furniture delivery guy who asked me if "they're supposed to be that big" as if I were just feeding them way too much. ;-)

Tinkerbell is a French Lop and belongs to my friend Michelle from PetBunny. The Frenchie is known for its long ears (but not so long as an English Lop) and its large size (up to about 15 pounds, right Michelle?) Tink is still a young-bun in the picture here, but will bulk up and grow into those ears soon!

Tink is the beloved companion of one of Michelle's other bunnies, Chopper, seen here flopped on his side in a moment of bunny-bliss beside Tink. I have read that French Lops are very affectionate and playful rabbits. Much like a Flemmie, it seems that Frenchies are a breed that people fall in love with once they've had the company of one. At least I know that's the case with Michelle. Thank you, Michelle, for letting me post some of your photos here!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A little piece of heaven around the corner

Is this cymbidium orchid drop-dead gorgeous, or what? I don't know anything about orchids, but I wanted this one!

I came home with a much smaller, but almost as pretty phalaenopsis orchid that is supposed to be a good *beginner's* orchid. We'll see. I'm not very good at keeping flowering houseplants alive. The saleslady says that most people kill orchids with too much kindness and that I should only need to water it well once a week and provide dappled sunlight. Uh-huh. Wish me luck.

A visit to the local garden center always cheers me. Especially at this time of year when all of the cute bunny items seem to be everywhere. For the most part I restrain myself from buying any of it. This display of planters, birdhouses, and Easter nick-nacks was just so cheerful and fun. I love the giant Peter Rabbit peeking out from the back!

Not your ordinary garden center, this place has just about everything related to gardening, plus garden-themed housewares and a wonderful gourmet market. I miss the days before it became so popular, when it wasn't much more than a farmer's market run out of a large garage, with the owners selling locally grown vegetables and flowers. Their peach and apple orchard used to back up to our yard. Now we have soccer fields and a running track and they buy their produce elsewhere. They still grow raspberries and blackberries on part of the property and corn nearby. On summer mornings I will sometimes see old Mr. S. going by our house on his red tractor and he often stops to chat with me about the red-tailed hawks that nest in a huge pine tree on the edge of his fields. I'd guess he must be pretty amazed with how his family business has grown through the years.

The color in the greenhouses is so breathtaking on such a gray early-spring day that I wanted to bring it all home with me, but I behaved myself and only bought a few pots of purple pansies for the front steps and the little yellow orchid. And two bunches of delicious pink muscatel grapes and my favorite red pears. Yum! How many months till strawberries come in?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mountain views of the Adirondacks

On each birding trip to the Adirondacks we make our way to Whiteface Mountain. We try to visit on a clear day so that the views will be good. From the summit of Whiteface you can see all the way to Vermont, I think!

We don't do very much birding on this part of the trip. On the drive up the mountain we'll stop periodically to listen for Bicknell's Thrush and look for alpine butterflies and plants. Mostly we enjoy the spectacular views along the way. The Veteran's Memorial Highway was a depression-era public works project and is more than five miles long. Whiteface is unique in that is has a *developed* summit - a visitor's center known as Whiteface Castle. The castle was built from granite excavated during the construction of the highway.

There is an elevator to the summit (at the end of a very long and scary tunnel into the mountain) or you can choose to take the footpath. This sign is at the trailhead and warns not to attempt the footpath unless you are physically fit. The hike ascends more than 25 stories over a fifth of a mile. Not easy, but better than the claustrophobic tunnel to the elevator. I take lots of breaks on the way up to look at alpine plants and the lichen-covered rocks, and to catch my breath!

Here I am at 4867 ft. looking flushed and glad for a place to sit down and enjoy the view. Once we're at the peak of the mountain, we generally take a break for lunch and take lots of photos. One year I took nearly a whole roll of film with pics of nothing but rocks.

There is always an interesting assortment of tourists milling around and one year the building that houses the elevator at the summit had a few Luna moths clinging to the windows! I've only ever seen Luna moths in the Adirondacks, so it is a treat to find them. On one visit the toll building at the bottom of the mountain was covered with them and other interesting large moths. We watched little chickadees coming in from the wood's edge and flying off with the moths in their bills.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My wild garden

I am a Gemini. I get bored easily. I like change. I garden.

One particular part of our yard has gone through so many transformations it's hard for me to remember them all. We started out with a very formal circle garden in this area, a simple design of blooming azaleas, English ivy and pachysandra, a hydrangea, and a beautiful variegated holly tree; all originally planted and cared for here by the previous owners of our house (my husband's aunt and uncle). A late summer storm one year brought down a neighbor's black locust on our holly, splitting the trunk. We salvaged the hydrangea, but replaced everything else with viburnums (love them!) and old garden roses. This was nice for a while, until the roses got leggy and the viburnums grew huge! So we moved the viburnums to the border of our property and added a few dogwoods and other plants to make something of a woodland edge. Very nice and thriving now!

A year later we cleared the area and built the pond there. But for the summer in between I had a garden that was an absolute riot of flowers. I went crazy planting annuals and perennials that would attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. My husband thought it looked like crap (he's an orderly sort of fellow when it comes to *his yard*), but I loved the craziness of it all. Every flower was planted with pollinators in mind and it was buzzing with them! I loved to spend time sitting in the middle of it all and watching all the insect activity.

When we put in the pond I transplanted as many plants as I could. The pond is orderly and neat, so the DH is happy, but I miss my wild garden and all the wonder that came with it that summer. The purple flowers pictured above are perennial Mexican Agastache (very popular with bumblebees) and Verbena bonariensis; an annual that re-seeds with utter abandon and is well-loved by butterflies.

A bunny video diversion

A member of the PetBunny List sent along this link today to a video of their houserabbits playing outside. Fun stuff and it shows the silliness that is so typical of bunnies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

3/22/06 Mid-week bunny fix

I don't say we ought to misbehave, but we should look as though we could. - Oscar Wilde
(Cricket coyly eating the broom, Summer 2004)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sapsucker art

The (awful) photo at right was taken on my most recent trip to the Adirondacks, probably somewhere in Bloomingdale Bog. It looks like this tree was quite popular with local sapsuckers!

Sapsuckers remove the outer layer of bark and bore into the cambium, causing the sap to ooze out of the tree, which they drink with their long tongues. Their habit is to return to the same tree over and over and this can cause significant damage to the tree. I liked the pattern so I snapped the photo, although at that time I had never actually seen a sapsucker. Since then I've learned to recognize their *mewing* calls and sometimes find them in my neighbors apple tree. Last spring I had a great look at one outside my office window in a blooming crabapple tree. The are very pretty birds that might easily be mistaken for a downy woodpecker. The yellow-bellied sapsucker has a white wing-stripe and dull yellow underparts that are good field marks.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The skinny on rabbit poop

Most housebunny owners are somewhat obsessive about bunny-poop. We pay a lot of attention to how much a bunny is *producing* and what the pooties look like. This isn't because we have too much time on our hands (well, not entirely) but because pooties are an indicator of the health of a rabbit's digestive system. A rabbit who isn't making nice pooties has a problem and it's up to the owner to figure out why.

Unless a rabbit has a physical problem, oftentimes the cause of less-than-perfect-pooties is a lack of fiber in the diet or too much starch. Rabbits need huge amounts of hay and very little of the other stuff that people like to feed bunnies. If there is a problem, you'll notice your bunnies' pooties getting smaller and smaller. It's all about knowing what's *normal* for a particular bunny. The photo at left shows a sample from each of the five bunnies that live here. The pooties on the right are from the Flemmies and are marble-sized. All the way on the left are Dora's pooties - she is not the smallest bunny here, but she is not a good hay eater and it shows in her poops. A rabbit that eats a lot of very high-fiber hay, like oat hay, will have beautiful, light-colored flakey pooties. (Oh gosh, listen to me! - I am not obsessive!)

Many people who haven't encountered a rabbit, outside of a backyard hutch rabbit, are surprised to learn that they can be litter-trained. In fact, most rabbits will train themselves to use a box, so long as you put the box where they want it. My newest bunny Dora has been somewhat difficult in this regard, because she refuses to use the litterboxes that are in her cage. She "holds it" overnight and will dart out of her cage to the corner litterbox first thing in the morning. She does the same thing when I'm at work. Why she has this peculiar habit I don't know, but she is proof positive that rabbits are "clean" animals. It's the way that most people keep them that makes many think otherwise.

An important part of training a rabbit to use a litterbox is to set up the box in such a way that a bunny will like to go there. It has to be cleaned regularly. I set mine up with a pelleted-wood product for litter and fill it to the brim with hay. The bunnies will munch hay and poop at the same time. Most bunnies here also seem to find their box to be a convenient place for a nap or a snuggle-session. You can see Boomer and Cricket in one of their boxes with barely an inch to spare!

If you're really interested in learning more about bunny poop, a good article (with photos!) is available here.

Happy Spring!

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. - Henry Van Dyke, Fisherman's Luck, 1899

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Farmhouse table

Now I just need the farmhouse to go with the table ;-)

After much procrastination and indecision, our new furniture arrived yesterday - and I love it! I never want to have to pick out furniture again. I've put this off for more than 12 years because I knew what a pain it would be to find something that both my husband and I liked and that I was willing to afford. We found this gorgeous dining table months ago and fell in love with it. I convinced myself it was too expensive and not really practical - after all, it's just the two of us, do we really need such a huge table? We could probably seat 10 with the leaves in (do we even know 10 people aside from family?) I'm glad my DH was finally able to convince me to get it - I'm really, really happy with it.

We also bought an end table and coffee table for the living room - big news! We haven't exactly been living with milk crates in place of furniture, but practically! I think I may be missing some critical female gene; I am so not a shopper, and even less of a decorator, but I think it's coming along nicely. We're still waiting on our new couch to be delivered, but once that arrives I'm done. No more furniture ever! I have to admit though, that it is nice to have a home that feels *like me* filled with things I love and that make us happy. I just wish it weren't so difficult figuring out just what that is!

Momentary Rant: Blogger is sapping what little creativity I have lately; I'm having soo much trouble uploading images!!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Buddy and a favorite poem

There is something about seeing a big black dog with a red bandana that makes me smile. Especially if it's my Buddy. He always wears a bandana, in fact, he looks absolutely naked if he doesn't have one on. Today he's wearing a green one with shamrocks, in honor of his Irish heritage (that is, in honor of the leftover corned beef he had for dinner!) Buddy has been a great friend to me for 11 years now and it saddens me to see him feeling his age. He still loves to romp in the snow and chase squirrels, but would really prefer a nap. On the couch. That's a new (bad) habit, but how can I deny him a soft place beside me, even if the furniture is new?

I'll share a favorite poem by Jimmy Stewart. I remember when I heard him read it on the Johnny Carson show so many years ago, and how it made me smile despite the sad ending.

"Beau" by Jimmy Stewart

He never came to me when I would call
Unless I had a tennis ball,
Or he felt like it,
But mostly he didn't come at all.

When he was young
He never learned to heel
Or sit or stay,
He did things his way.

Discipline was not his bag
But when you were with him things sure didn't drag.
He'd dig up a rosebush just to spite me,
And when I'd grab him, he'd turn and bite me.

He bit lots of folks from day to day,
The delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldn't read our meter,
He said we owned a real man-eater.

He set the house on fire
But the story's long to tell.
Suffice it to say that he survived
And the house survived as well.

On the evening walks, and Gloria took him,
He was always first out the door.
The Old One and I brought up the rear
Because our bones were sore.

He would charge up the street with Mom hanging on,
What a beautiful pair they were!
And if it was still light and the tourists were out,
They created a bit of a stir.

But every once in a while, he would stop in his tracks
And with a frown on his face look around.
It was just to make sure that the Old One was there
And would follow him where he was bound.

We are early-to-bedders at our house--
I guess I'm the first to retire.
And as I'd leave the room he'd look at me
And get up from his place by the fire.

He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs,
And I'd give him one for a while.
He would push it under the bed with his nose
And I'd fish it out with a smile.

And before very long
He'd tire of the ball
And be asleep in his corner
In no time at all.

And there were nights when I'd feel him
Climb upon our bed
And lie between us,
And I'd pat his head.

And there were nights when I'd feel this stare
And I'd wake up and he'd be sitting there
And I reach out my hand and stroke his hair.
And sometimes I'd feel him sigh and I think I know the reason why.

He would wake up at night
And he would have this fear
Of the dark, of life, of lots of things,
And he'd be glad to have me near.

And now he's dead.
And there are nights when I think I feel him
Climb upon our bed and lie between us,
And I pat his head.

And there are nights when I think
I feel that stare
And I reach out my hand to stroke his hair,
But he's not there.

Oh, how I wish that wasn't so,
I'll always love a dog named Beau.

Word cloud

Try this. It's fun, free, and good when you don't know what to write about! ;-)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Orange Hawkweed

near Lake Placid, NY Summer 2001

A field of hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) like this one is something that I love about the Adirondacks. I don't see hawkweed here in NJ although the USDA says it occurs in some northwestern and southern counties of the state. It's a non-native, but well-loved wildflower, and is considered a noxious and invasive weed in many states. But it is beautiful, don't you agree?
We visit this country road each year on our way to Lake Placid and usually stand around for a bit looking for bobolinks, I think. I don't know that I remember ever finding any there, but I do enjoy the scenery.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I and the Bird #19

The current issue of this bird blog carnival is available at Science and Politics. Check it out and read what others are blogging about birds, as well as one of my previous posts about a short-eared owl.

Sandy Hook Migration Watch

The Sandy Hook Migration Watch started yesterday March 15th and counter Calvin Brennan will be at the platform counting everything that flies by until May 15th. A hawk count at Sandy Hook has been in existence since 1979 and in 2003 was expanded to include other migrating birds. The photo above shows a view of the NYC skyline visible from the platform. The photo was taken in early spring, if I remember correctly. Later in the season the dunes are awash in blooming beach plums and migrating warblers.

The counter has a great job, I think, but it must be pretty miserable sometimes out there in the cold, wind, and rain when birds aren't moving. Most groups who are out birding will pay a visit to the platform and often bring snacks to the lonely counter and get an update on what's being seen.

These photos were taken a few years ago during one of the Sunday morning bird walks I like to do at Sandy Hook. We usually meet at 7 am (6 am during May) and go till 1 or 2 in the afternoon, making our way around the Hook. We've been doing this for years, and Ed and I (his photo is there at left) do an awful lot of BS-ing while we bird. He was on the very first *real* bird walk I went on, and was so helpful and friendly. I never felt intimidated as a new birder joining this group and Ed helped me get a lot of life birds. Thanks, Ed!

Mid-April is peak time for migrating raptors at Sandy Hook (4,000 - 6,000 birds of prey are counted in a typical year) and the majority of migrants are Sharp-Shinneds, Cooper's, Kestrels, and Merlins. Rarities include Goshawk (most likely seen in March), Swallow-Tailed Kite (late April), and Mississippi Kite (May). More information, directions, and count stats are available here.

Come on out, bring snacks, we'll be glad to have you!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

3/15/06 Mid-week bunny fix

Peanut ATB 10/10/03
Peanut was a Netherland Dwarf that I took out of the local petstore. He was "free, with purchase of cage". Probably an Easter bunny that someone had tired of and dumped.
He was here with us for less than a year before he passed away, but it was a good, happy time for him, I think. He was full of spitfire! My boxing, lunging, biting little-boy bunny. I miss him.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More book stuff: a meme

Name 5 of your favorite books:
1. Equinox: Life, Love and Birds of Prey by Dan O'Brien
2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
3. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
4. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
5. Trinity by Leon Uris

Name 5 of your favorite authors:
1. Dan O'Brien
2. Kent Haruf
3. Hal Borland
4. Barbara Kingsolver
5. Sue Hubbell

Name of the last book you bought?
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Name of the last book you read?
Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps by Ted Kooser

Name of five books that are particularly meaningful for you:
1. A Country Year by Sue Hubbell. A book that I've read over and over.
2. Sundial of the Seasons by Hal Borland. I refer to this book every day. Borland always has something to teach me about how to look at the natural world.
3. El arbol de la ciencia by Pio Baroja. The first contemporary Spanish novel I read as a Spanish major in college. This book opened up another language (and its books) to me.
4. A Pocketful of Proverbs by Joan Walsh Anglund. Given to me by my aunt and uncle on my first Christmas. I still treasure this little book.
5. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Birds by Roger Tory Peterson. It's where I keep my life list!

Name of three books you are dying to read but just haven’t yet:
1. out of print books by Hal Borland
2. next book by Kent Haruf
3. next book by Barbara Kingsolver

Would anyone care to self-tag?

Monday, March 13, 2006

An old treasure from my bookshelf

My home is filled with books. So many that I often don't realize what I have here. Sometimes, when searching for a particular book I come across others that I'd forgotten about. This post on Lake Life today reminded me of a treasure. The Burgess Bird Book for Children was originally published in 1919. My well-used copy was published in 1965 and has color illustrations by Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

This is a wonderful book to introduce children to birds. I think I bought my copy back when I was teaching elementary school and read it on occasion to my students during the last moments of the school day. Burgess includes information about each birds' appearance, habits, and personality incorporated into story form. He includes those birds that little children are most likely to see and the illustrations are true to life.

The story begins with the arrival of Mistress Spring. Peter Rabbit goes into the orchard looking for spring's new arrivals and meets Jenny Wren, the local gossip, who is happy to tell him all about the other birds as they arrive in the Green Meadows. One by one Peter Rabbit meets all of the common country birds and learns about them from Jenny Wren. What is most endearing to me are the names that Burgess gives each of the birds. There is Bully the English Sparrow, Slaty the Junco, Dear Me the Phoebe, and Scrapper the Kingbird among the cast of characters. This book is worth searching out in your local library or used bookstore, even if you don't have children. Burgess' love for birds is obvious. Is it any wonder I love this book - bird stories told by a bunny!

Sunday, March 12, 2006


There is some progress to report in the ongoing *saga* to re-bond Missy and Freckles so that they can live together again. Both look somewhat cautious, if not slightly annoyed, in the photo at left. Being this close to one another and sharing the pooty box is a good sign. I felt comfortable enough today to step out of the pen for the first time and leave them be to see what might happen.

For those of you who don't know bunnies and who think rabbits are snuggly balls of fluff (as the photos of Boomer and Cricket might lead you to believe) - well, you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about, right? I admit that I'm overly cautious, but rabbits are very territorial, especially females, and can really hurt one another. I'd like to avoid anybunny getting hurt so I'm taking this very slowly.

Today was a good day, Missy and Freckles are showing signs of being able to get along; I was happy to be able to step away and let them work out their issues. Unfortunately, it seems like they still have the same issues as they always did. Missy wants to be the boss and so does Freckles. Freckles is the submissive one, usually, but she's not ready yet to feign over Missy the way Missy thinks she ought to. So, they arrive at something of a standoff. Both bunnies think the other should give all of the affection. Missy takes the lead and washes Freckles ears and eyes, but not nearly as gently as she should. Missy's roughness makes Freckles jump, and run away, and then a minor chase ensues. I watched this sequence over and over today. Finally exasperated with both of them, I packed up the x-pen until another day and put them back into their lonely habitats. Both clearly want to be friends, yet they can't seem to agree on who should make a compromise.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Pond fairy

The pond fish are awake and begging to be fed today. It's still too soon; around April 1st I'll start feeding them a few cheerios every couple of days. After a few weeks of this light feeding I can then start them on a higher protein food once the weather, and their metabolism, is geared-up for it.

Right now, the pond is a depressing sight, nothing like this mid-summer photo from a few years ago. It's full of leaves and the water is a yucky brownish color. We have a lot of work ahead of us to get it in shape, but I look forward to being able to putter around by the pond in the evening again.

What color green are you?

You Are Mint Green

Balanced and calm, you have mastered the philosophy of living well.
Your friends seek you out for support, and you are able to bring stability to chaotic situations.
You're very open and cheerful - and you feel like you have a lot of freedom in life.
Your future may hold any number of exciting things, and you're ready for all of them!

Thanks to endment for the link to this bit of fun.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dreaming of a getaway

A friend at work left this brochure on my desk today. She does this, every so often, because she knows how badly I want to visit the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. I almost stayed there on my honeymoon, but decided it was too expensive and probably not worth the money to be in such a beautiful place in the freezing cold weather. I had a chance a few years later when my car broke down on the Thruway at the New Paltz exit. A good mechanic nixed that chance.

I'm drawn not so much to the elegant accommodations and unique charm of the place (no in-room tv's and they serve tea and cookies each day!), but to the breathtaking scenery. Who wouldn't want to stay in a castle in the mountains with that view?