Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sydney Anne is Almost Due
Anne a week before her due date

My son John and daughter-in-law Anne are about to become parents for the first time.

John writes:

We’re hopefully in the home stretch. Yesterday, Monday, March 28, 2005, marked exactly one week until the due date. Here’s a picture of my beautiful wife, Anne, on that day, just before we went to our doctor appointment:

Anne has been very lucky to have a very good pregnancy. Other than the illnesses of last month, she hasn’t had many problems. She’s been enjoying the pregnancy and enjoys interacting with the baby in every way she can.

A week ago she told me she was ready. The pregnancy has progressed to the point where she is ready to have the baby and get the pregnancy over with. She’s always tired, swollen, and her fingers and toes sometimes tingle from the circulation problems that go along with the swelling and pregnancy in general.

It’s nothing serious, just interesting to hear when less than two weeks ago she was happy and giggling while playing with the baby and telling me she’s in no hurry to end the pregnancy.

Looks to Grandma like baby Sydney Anne is ready, too. It can't be much longer now.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sunshine and Mink
Thanks for all the kind comments. Today is better. Much better.

Today started off with sunshine. Real sunshine. Sunshine with no clouds. Sunshine that warms the earth and the souls of people who haven't seen much sunshine in the last five months.

The sunshine brought the temperature up to 50 degrees (10 C) by early afternoon. When I went to do errands and grocery shopping, there were people flinging their coats off every place I stopped. I joined them. Who needs a coat when it's 50 degrees?

After I got home and settled in, Bob noticed something out in the east yard by the edge of the pond. At first we thought it was an otter, but it's too small for an otter. I'm thinking it's a mink. And we spotted a second mink, so we have a pair.

They went in and out of their hole, went swimming in the thawed edge of the pond, and looked like they were happily settling in to raise a family.

Fortunately the mink hole isn't in a place the dogs normally walk.

I'd like to think the little dogs have more sense than to tangle with a mink, but I don't know that. I do know (I think) that the little dogs won't go in the water after it. Glory will. Glory will tangle with it and Glory will go in the water after it.

Anyone have any good advice for peaceful coexistence between dogs and a mink family?

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure what mink eat besides fish. Guess I better do some research. I'm not even sure I have them identified correctly.

More later after I have some facts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Weather Blahs
Glory on a windy fish hatchery walk and a swan in the rough water of the pondYesterday it was windy and cold - but it didn't snow. Glory and I went for a mile walk at the nearby fish hatchery. On the shaded left side of the road not showing in the picture, there is still some snow. Little by little spring is winning the battle.

We're overdue for some spring weather, but the snowflakes are whirling around in the air today. Even though it's a little above freezing, there is a cold wind and there isn't much thawing going on.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Looking Hard For Signs of Spring
Dismal landscape with a little touch of bluebird in a treeMy sister sent dog pictures from North Carolina today. My eye immediately flew to the background where I could see forsythia and daffodils in bloom.

We have no color yet in Michigan except for the red of the cardinals and now the blue of the occasional Eastern bluebird.

Each time we go for a walk in the back field I look for the flash of blue as the bluebirds hang out near the nest box they've claimed.

I took this picture mainly to show the lack of color in the landscape. If you look closely, you can see a speck of blue in the tree. I circled it to help you out. A person needs all the help they can get to locate color in mid-March Michigan.

Daffodil shoots peeking up through the snowThese short green shoots are February Gold daffodils, the earliest blooming daffodils we have. Usually they shoot up during each of the major pre-spring thaws and are in full bloom by the end of March.

We haven't had major pre-spring thaws this year.

If the temperatures will stay above freezing for the rest of the month, the daffodils might make March bloom. They're going to need to do some serious growing in the next thirteen days.

Hellebore with one stem and two flowers This is the only plant in bloom on our five acres. Those two pink colored spots at the base of the stem are the flowers.

This Hellebore is an amazing little plant that starts blooming even before the first major thaw and continues blooming on through the spring, long after it's overshadowed by the more showy flowers.

Actually, almost every other flower is more showy - but none are more indestructible.

This little guy lives in the deep dry shade of a large oak tree in our front yard where hardly anything else will grow. My garden is full of plants that don't need coddling, and this is one of the toughest.

Glory on the ground in the early springSo we patiently wait for the snow to finish melting and hope we don't get any more.

Another month and everything will be green and this field will be hopping with baby rabbits.

Glory is rested and ready for the chase.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bluebirds and Puzzles
This morning the female bluebird was sitting in a nearby tree while the male stood guard on the top of the nest box. How wonderful to have them back and know they intend to use the nest box. Assuming this is the same pair that used the nest box last year, they fledged a total of nine hatchlings. I'd love to have them do the same this year.

Lately I've been wasting time at Jig Zone , Jigsaw Puzzles Online. After trying a few unsatisfactory puzzle sites, I came to the conclusion that doing jig saw puzzles on line was not fun. Then, last December someone on a knitting list changed my mind by posting a Knitting related puzzle from the Jig Zone puzzle of the day and I got hooked.

Monday, March 14, 2005

End of Winter WalkPicture of ***** Pappy and I went for a walk at the nearby fish hatchery today.

Most of the ponds and lakes in the area are still ice covered, but there is open water at the fish hatchery. It must be because they filter and recycle the water in the ponds thereby keeping it moving. Maybe they even heat it a little - but I really don't know that.

Anyway, this time of year the unfrozen water is a huge attraction for all types of water birds.

When Pappy saw this path full of geese, he was in no hurry to go forward and neither was I.

In some places where people feed the geese, they become very aggressive in their demand for food. I wasn't sure if these geese wanted something from us or not. The only thing I had with me to feed them was Pappy.

Picture of *****It appeared the geese at the fish hatchery are wild.

They didn't want to be anywhere near us, and they flew off while Pappy watched.

Friday, March 11, 2005

A Hint of Spring
Pappy the Papillon standing in the snowAll week I've been thinking how much fun it would be to take the camera out and find hints of spring here and there. The weather refused to cooperate. All this week it's been below freezing and either snowing or threatening to snow.

Our five day weather forecast shows below freezing temps and snow on every single day for the next five.

Every casual conversation in Michigan starts out, "Is it ever going to be spring?" We are so ready.

First bluebird of 2005 sitting on the birdhouseWe have a three acre field on the back of the property where I walk the dogs several times a day.

The path we walk doubles as a bluebird trail. This morning, sitting on top of a snow covered bluebird house, was a male bluebird - the first one of the season and a sure sign that spring is on the way.

Normally I wouldn't post a bluebird picture where you can't even tell that the bird in question is blue, but this is a very special occasion. This picture was the best I could do under the circumstances.

Trust me, that is a very bright blue, pink breasted male bluebird sitting on top of the nest box. I'm assuming it's the same male who raised two families in that box last summer and has returned to claim it for this year.

Hope he found a warm snuggly place to hunker down tonight because guess what - the wind is blowing and it's snowing.

Is it ever going to be spring? You bet! This week I saw my first robin and my first bluebird. There might even be daffodils coming up under that snow.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

John's Birthday Socks
John's Basketweave Ribbing Socks in Opal Handpainted 14The birthday socks are done! Since they were knit for 6 foot 5 inch tall Son John, they're a little baggy on my sock blockers.

The yarn is Opal Handpainted 14, a very rich combination of blues, greens, and purple. I love the way the Handpainted colors knit up in short bursts of color with no pooling and no spiraling.

I'm calling the pattern John's Basketweave Ribbing. I'll be publishing the pattern, downsized to a woman's medium, on Stitches of Violet soon.

There was no sun today, so I couldn't get a good natural light picture. In fact, this afternoon when I was trying to get a picture so I could package up the socks for their trip to Idaho, it was overcast and dumping snow.

I won't say any more about the snow. It would just sound like whining.

Happy Birthday March 18th John! I'm thinking it's possible you might become a daddy on your birthday. Sydney would be two weeks early, but everyone who has seen the picture thinks Anne looks ready now. And the picture was taken two weeks ago.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Saturday Thaw
Front yard full of slush as the snow thaws and spring tries to arriveSpring is trying to break through. The air feels different, more humid, a little warmer. The bird calls are changing to mating songs, the woodpeckers are drilling on the trees, and a few ants have started to appear in the house.

Last night it snowed. It was like a white sloppy rain. Today it thawed. Just enough to turn the snow into slush. Not enough to get rid of the white cover.

Perfect weather for getting sick.

When I left Son John in Idaho last Monday, he had the beginning of the flu. By Tuesday, his wife had it. Today DH Bob is sick. I'm not very optimistic about my changes of missing out on the fun.

Looking at the weather site, it won't be the first beautiful, balmy spring day that distracts me from knitting next week. By Tuesday the high temperatures are going to be back below freezing and there is snow in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday.

I'm not packing the woolens away yet.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Doggy Snow Fun
Sunny zooming through the fresh snowThis is the first fresh, fluffy snow we've had in several months and the dogs are loving it.

All three of them like to run through it as fast as they can go. The little dogs have to jump around like rabbits to get anywhere when the snow is this deep.

This is Sunny, the little dog who is on a diet and not losing weight. Hopefully now that the crusty snow has been replaced by fluffy snow, she will get lots more exercise and the weight will start coming off.

She has a blue fleece jacket that she wears in the snow because her curly hair is a snow magnet. When she doesn't wear the jacket her chest and tummy get matted with ice balls. We can't pick them out, we have to melt them. Not a pleasant experience for us or Sunny.

Glory making a doggy snow angelGlory, our nine year old lab mix, likes to throw herself down in the new snow and make doggy snow angels.

It snowed on and off all day today, but the total new accumulation wasn't much over an inch. The snow is approximately six or seven inches deep.

According to AccuWeather it's going to stay cold and keep adding little new layers of snow for the next week. Not exactly the spring weather we were hoping for in March.

Pappy taking a nap in the chair on his back with his tongue hanging outA doggy outing in the snow is so worthwhile. When the dogs come in they are ready for serious napping.

This is exhausted Pappy. Notice his little pink tongue hanging out. We think it's cute, but then we would. We're his parents.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Back From Idaho
John and Anne before the baby showerIt was a great trip, full of baby fun and anticipation.

This is John and Anne before the baby shower on Saturday.

While in Idaho I spent less than ten minutes thinking about knitting. Does that mean I'm not addicted like the knitters on the lists are always claiming to be?

For the few minutes I did think about knitting, I hauled John's Basketweave Ribbing Sock out of my suitcase, brought it downstairs and left it out where we couldn't help seeing it. Later that day John tried it on and we were pleased to note that it fits perfectly.

I thought I might get the second sock on the needles today, but it didn't happen. I'm not sure where today went, but not very much got accomplished. Tomorrow will be better.

Sydney's nursery with a crib full of stuffed animalsWizards, castles, unicorns, and lots of dragons decorate Sydney's nursery.

The walls are painted a periwinkle blue. The crib is full of stuffed animals just waiting for her arrival. They probably don't realize that when she takes over the crib, they are going to have to get out - at least until she's older.

Lake Coeur d'AleneIt is premature springtime in Idaho. It was in the 50s and the sun was shining. Not necessarily a good thing.

They haven't had their usual snow this winter, not even in the mountains.

According to Son John (who I'm sure will correct me if this isn't right), they will probably have a drought this summer since there isn't a snow pack to melt and feed the lakes, streams, and rivers.

Driving around sight seeing on Sunday we could see that the water level in Lake Coeur d'Alene is low. It is still very beautiful.

For anyone interested, there are more pictures of the trip here.

Wish I could send Idaho some of our snow. It's coming down cold and heavy in Michigan tonight. Looks like we've got about six inches so far.

It's March. This snow isn't going to stick around very long. Any day now we will see the first robin and the first bluebird. By the end of the month the Phoebes will be here checking out their nest for another summer of raising little Phoebes.

And most exciting of all, this spring my granddaughter Sydney will be born.