Monday, May 30, 2005

Book Meme
Last week I got tagged by Odysseuse for the Book Meme. Today I finally provide the answers you've all been waiting for.

By the way, if you haven't checked out Odysseuse on the Move, it's a most interesting blog written by my mother. Be sure to read the reader comments. They're just as much fun as the posts.

l. Total number of books in your house.

I'm sure there are well over a thousand and I don't plan on counting them.

2. Last book bought.

Heartbreaker by Julie Garwood. A thriller, romance type book bought in the Minneapolis airport after realizing I was going to run out of reading material with over two hours of flying time left to fill.

It was good enough to pass the time, but not so engrossing it had to be finished immediately. Perfect for the occasion. It got me to Idaho and served as bedtime reading after I arrived.

3. Last book read.

A Country Year, Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell. When I got tagged with this meme and started thinking about my favorite books, I headed for the bookshelf to find this one for a re-read.

4. Five or six books you often reread or that mean a lot to you.

Bible - The last ten years I've made a point of studying the Bible. I think it's the key to understanding life. I don't think any church or denomination has the complete picture of what the Bible is saying.

Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti. She writes just like she's looking over your shoulder and teaching you how to knit. There's plenty of wisdom thrown in to go along with the technical.

For example:

Admire your work often.
In other words, frequently look at what you've knit so when you need to rip back, you're not ripping back very much. Great advice for yours truly. I try to heed it.

Newcomb's Wildflower Guide by Lawence Newcomb. A keyed reference book to the plants.

I carry this book on all my hikes and field trips. Luanne and I have spend hours using it to identify our finds.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis's writing gives proof that it's possible to be intelligent and be a Christian.

There are some days, especially after some of the newsworthy statements that come out of the mouths of the so called Christian leadership, when I really need reassurance about that.

Html for the World Wide Web by Elizabeth Castro. Great to read cover to cover if you want to know it all. Also a fine reference book if you only want to know what you need to know to do what you want to do.

This book is always by my side while I'm on my laptop. It's extra special to me because it was a birthday gift from a good friend.

A Country Year, Living the Questions by Sue Hubbell. Essays on living with nature.

This woman is my heroine. Whenever I read this book, I get transported back to my real values about our relationship with nature, the ones I feel in my heart are right.

Other books by Sue Hubbell are also excellent.

Granddaughter Sydney Anne's Daddy (my son John, also know as Tah) has volunteered to be tagged with this meme. Thanks John. I'm looking forward to reading your answers. Meanwhile, I think I'll go check out the cute Sydney pictures on your blog Tah Tales.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Saturday Snippets
Toad sitting on the cement after being cultivated out of his garden spotThis former pansy bed is now hosting a mix of coleus and dusty miller. I hope there's enough sun to make them happy here. If not, I'll know better next time.

Young Toad was not very happy yesterday when I disturbed his bed while pulling out the pansies. But, when I was done, the soil was nice and loose, and just the way he likes it. He jumped back in and buried himself in the dirt.

Young Toad was very unhappy again today when I started digging holes in his bed and almost put a trowel through him. He jumped up on the cement and I feel very fortunate that I don't understand toad language. I'm sure what he had to say wasn't nice.

By the time his half of the bed was planted, he was ready to jump back in, but I made him pose for this picture first.

Swallow flying around my head protecting the nest boxThe tree swallows are very protective of their nest. When I walk anywhere near, they circle round and round dive bombing my head.

The first few years I monitored swallow nests, this bothered me so much I would quickly leave. Now I know they never intend to actually make contact. I'm able to ignore them and do whatever needs to be done in the space they consider part of their territory.

The six little eggs are still in the nest. Mom and Dad are both alive and vigilant. Approximate hatch day is next Wednesday.

Granddaughter Sydney Anne at about seven weeksHere's my beautiful Granddaughter, Sydney Anne.

Dad was trying to get her to smile for the camera. She almost did it.

Even if it's not a big smile, it's incredibly cute. I love this picture.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Poppies and Pansies
Nature is so beautiful that humankind can't resist the urge to improve it, rearrange it, and/or make art out of it. In horticulture, the result is a garden. Bring on the bulldozers, the backhoes, the topsoil, the compost, the greenhouses, and thousands of hours of work, and see what can be done.

The results are fleeting as plants bloom and fade in a short time span. The effect is ever changing, but, when done right, a total treat for the eyes.

Yesterday Luanne and I took a bus tour (3.5 hours one way) to a place that does it right, the Chicago Botanic Garden. Here are gardens like you'll never see at my house. What a pleasure to admire the work of the 200 employees and 1000 volunteers.

Hill of annual poppies at Chicago Botanic Garden Spring 2005 My favorite display was the hillside of annual poppies. I've drooled over a similar display in a garden catalog. How cool to see it done in real life.

Each of these poppy plants was started in a greenhouse and then manually transplanted to the hill in early spring. They're at the end of their blooming season now. In fact, our guide told us that spring floral displays normally would be replaced by summer displays by the last week in May, but the weather has been cool this year so they're been able to leave the spring displays an extra week or so.

When these poppies are removed, they will be composted. The end. All the poppy work goes in the compost pile and a summer blooming hillside is planted from greenhouse seedlings.

Planter at Chicago Botanic Garden Spring 2005Same thing with the planters. These are spring planters and will be completely replaced with summer planters.

Last fall I bought pansies and planted a little patch in the back yard. They were some hybrid variety with huge flowers, and I was very impressed with them when I planted them. They wintered over and bloomed this spring, but the blooms are so large the stems don't support them well. My pansies are flopping every which way, some face down in the dirt, and don't look anywhere near as pretty as the smaller upright pansies in the Chicago Botanic Garden planter in the picture.

Live and learn.

I'll be taking a trip to the greenhouse today to pick up several flats of annuals for summer. I need something to replace the pansies, and a flat of impatiens for a spot of color in the shade.

Memorial Day weekend (this coming weekend) is the traditional time for planting summer annuals in Michigan. It's our annual declaration that we do not expect another frost until next October. Are you listening, Mother Nature?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ear Infection Education
I have the first ear infection I've ever had in my sixty year life. I don't ever want another one.

Oh, the things I've learned.

According to the Physician's Assistant who checked out my ear last Saturday, I have a high tolerance for pain. Not sure I agree with that. Just because I don't cry and scream doesn't mean I don't feel it.

The infected ear is getting better. It no longer hurts, but I still can't hear out of it. I've learned that it's very difficult to pinpoint sounds when only one ear is functional.

This was the first time I've been to the doctor for an infection in almost a decade. Occasionally my throat hurts, I ignore it, it turns into a cold and goes away. I've learned that ears don't act the same as a throat. If my ear ever starts to hurt again, I'm getting to the doctor as fast as possible.

I've learned that Odysseuse has tagged me with a book meme. I usually don't do chain type memes, but she's my mother. How can I say no?

When I answer the meme, I'll need to tag another blog. Is there a volunteer? You can check out the questions here.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Blogging the Bogging
Boardwalk going through the wetness of Bishop's BogA beautiful sunny day in May, the perfect time to go admire the orchids in the bog. Luanne and I met at the Westnedge Street entrance.

Bishop's Bog is the largest (145 acres) relic bog in southern Michigan. Since it's in the City of Portage, the Portage Parks Department has provided a 1.75 mile walkway through the bog. I'm glad I don't pay taxes in Portage, but kindly thank those who do.

The walkway is great. It's made of hollow plastic and is somehow suspended on top of the water. When we walked on it, water shoot up through the holes in the plastic in spurts sometimes as high as our heads. We tried to reduce the squirt effect by not walking together. I'm sure it helped a little.

There was slippery mud on part of the walkway. We went slow and careful so as not to end up on our butts - or even worse, on our butts in the water.

Eventually the water with depth turns into very spongy soil, mostly covered with moss. I don't think it was walkable. We didn't try.

Pink Ladys Slipper Orchid in Bishop's BogAbout a half mile into the bog is the Pink Lady Slipper Orchid patch, what we came to see. And we weren't disappointed. We spotted dozens of the beauties, and some were close enough to the walkway so we could see every detail.

We also spotted a few Pitcher Plants, but they were not in bloom. The Pitcher Plants have leaves shaped like a pitcher and they hold water. Insects crawl into the pitcher leaves, get caught by the tiny hairs inside, fall into the water and the plant digests them.

Two Lady Slipper orchids getting ready to bloomMany of the orchids were still in bud stage, not fully bloomed. I thought the pre-bloom was just as pretty as the full bloom.

There is more information, a beautiful orchid picture, and detailed instructions on how to find Bishop's Bog here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bird Update
Mom and dad swan with their five little cygnetsGlory and I went to the fish hatchery today to check on the swans and were delighted to see the swan families out swimming and hunting for food with their newly hatched cygnets.

Actually, I was the only one delighted. Glory didn't seem to care at all. She was busy wishing I'd let her off leash to go swim in the pond.

I didn't.

Twelve day old baby bluebirds in nest boxLast Thursday I took this picture of the five baby bluebirds in the nest box. They were twelve days old, just on the cusp of being too mature for it to be safe to have the box opened. I haven't opened it since.

After thirteen days the young birds are busy exercising their newly feathered wings. They think they are able to fly away, and might do so if I opened the box.

Their parents know they're not ready yet. When they are eighteen days old, their parents will show them how to get out of the nest box and into the big, dangerous world. That's due to happen tomorrow.

Tree swallow nest covered in white feathersOn the other side of the field there is a tree swallow nest with six eggs due to hatch approximately May 31.

The tree swallows are very into white feathers. Last year a nesting pair feathered the nest box to the top. This year's couple is more conservative with their feather usage.

The feathers work well to keep in the heat and hid the eggs from predators.

Tree swallow nest with white feathers pushed aside so the eggs showThere are six eggs in the nest, one still hidden by the feathers.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Linking To Some Good StuffThursday morning I sent the Backyard Leaves scarf to contest winner Birdsong in California. She received it on Saturday.

Then, bless her heart, she put it on and took a picture to post on her blog. Check it out. She's an interesting lady with an intersting blog. And the scarf looks great on her.

Colette is a knitter, spinner, and Master Gardener on Washington's Kitsap Penninsula. All things that interest me, but she hooked me on her blog, Sereknitty, with some great pictures of an egg hatching.

It's worth a click and a few minutes of your time to check out her Hey Chickie! post from May 7.

For any who would like to see sixteen new pictures of one month old Granddaughter Sydney taken while I was in Idaho, they're here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Perfect Little Hands
My hand with Sydney holding a fingerI love baby noises, baby smells, baby smiles, soft baby skin, and baby wiggles. Most of all, I love baby hands.

This, of course, is Granddaughter Sydney holding my finger while I was in Idaho last week. So soft, so tiny, so completely precious.

Yes, I had a wonderful visit. I loved her before I ever met her and I love her more now.

I can't say that we know each other, because she is barely a month old. By the time I see her again in August, she will need to learn my face all over again.

She won't remember when she was four weeks old and I held her, loved her, walked her, rocked her, sang to her, and she held my finger.

But I'll never forget.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Happy Mother's Day Anne, Heather, and Mom
All three of these wonderful mothers belong at the top of the list. So how to arrange the pictures? Let's go with newest mother first. I'm sure the more experienced mothers will understand.

Next dilemma, what to write? Each one has touched my heart in so many ways it's impossible to express my love and admiration for them without writing a book.

If I don't limit myself, I'll be writing for weeks, so I'll only pick one main theme for each woman. Please know that each of these mothers approaches perfection.

Anne and two week old Sydney after a feeding Love
Anne is one of the nicest, kindest, warm and loving women I have ever met. I'm so blessed that she's married to my son and is the mother of my new granddaughter, Sydney Anne.

Heather in her office at her desk Character
Heather Louise is a woman who has worked hard for years and is finally earning some of the respect and compensation she deserves in the working world. I am blessed to have her for a daughter. She is also the mother to my first granddaughter, Kimberly Louise.

My mom, grandma to Heather, great-grandma to Sydney Zest for Life
Marguerite Louise knows how to avoid old age. She may be old enough to be my mother (she IS my mother), but her heart is young. She is full of energy and enthusiasm for life. Just in the past month she has started learning some html and lauched her own blog, Odysseuse on the Move, an interesting blog written by an interesting lady.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Language Quiz
This is a fun little quiz to take.

My results are very accurate. I've never lived south of Chicago. I'm an upper midwestern American, and, evidently, I talk like one.

If you give it a try, let me know if it pegs you, too.

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

20% Upper Midwestern

10% Yankee

5% Midwestern

0% Dixie

Monday, May 02, 2005

Sad Dogs
Pappy and Sunny curled up together on the bed looking sad because Mom is packingOh no! Mom's got that big black box with wheels thing out of the closet and she's putting her stuff in it!

We know what that means. She's going to go into that big building with the big noisy things that fly and she won't come back out for a long long time.

We are people dogs and we like our whole family to be together. Dad will take good care of us, but we're going to miss Mom.

My flight leaves at 7:23 in the morning. A decent hour if we weren't supposed to be at the airport two hours before that time.

The Kalamazoo Airport is small so I can fudge a little on the two hours, but it's still a half hour drive and we're all going to be up before the sun.

That's right, all of us. Bob believes it is important the dogs see me go into the airport so they know what happened to me.

My opinion is that the dogs would rather stay home and sleep at that hour. But he's the one who has to answer them when they start looking for me, so he's going to get his way.

Weather Whine
Mom and Dad bluebird are delivering food to the nest box, but it's too cold, windy, and wet to open it and get a picture of the hatchlings. In fact, it snowed several times today. Not serious snow, but obvious white stuff coming down.

Looking on the bright side, the weather saved me from going out to do yard work today and getting sore for the trip. Every snow cloud has a silver lining.