Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sweet Potato Treats

Two different types of sweet potato dog chewsA few weeks ago Carrie suggested I try some of the sweet potato dog treats available at Sit Stay.

I ordered a small pack of sweet potato rawhides for Glory and a small pack of the much smaller sweet potato fries for Sunny and Pappy.

To Bob's skeptical amazement, Glory thinks the rawhides are yummy. They're big enough so I can cut them in half and she still feels like she's getting a good sized treat. They're tough enough so a half rawhide takes her a while to chew and she enjoys the process.

The two little dogs differed, as usual, in their opinion.

Sunny after enjoying her sweet potato treats and wishing she had moreSunny enjoyed her sweet potato fry.

Hey Mom, if I stick one ear up and look cute will you give me another one of those yummy things?

Pappy looking at me like I'm nuts to think he would like to eat sweet potato treatsPappy rejected the sweet potato fry after one sniff.

Mom, surely that didn't count as a treat! Can I have something else please?

As Meatloaf would say, "Two out of three ain't bad."

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Heat Goes On

Sunny getting a drink out of the creekLooking at the color coded USA Today weather map, Michigan (where I live) is coded the same color as Texas - bright red, temps in the 90s.

It's a little warmer than we Michiganders expect in June, so the weather is a big topic of discussion. Especially the thunderstorms that don't cool things off at all. In fact the last two haven't resulted in enough rain to get the sidewalk wet. There was just enough moisture to make the air hazy and enough lightening to make the power flicker on and off a few times.

Early this morning I completed the small amount of housework that's going to get done today, and I've spent the rest of the day in leisure, sitting in front of the fan and taking short walks with the dogs.

Sunny thinks creek water is much tastier than tap water. Plus, it's a big dog kind of thing to do.

Each of the dogs has their own favorite place to cool off. Glory is under a table in the living room, Pappy is in front of a blowing fan, and Sunny thinks it's best under the bed. I'm with Pappy.

Deer fly biting my kneeWhy would a woman of reasonable intelligence wear a long sleeved turtleneck shirt outside for a dog walk when it's over 90 degrees?

Deer flies.

Or, as the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University calls them, "little sabres of pain."

They dive onto their victim and immediately CHOMP! Ouch!

The result is a red welt resembling a mosquito bite. The welts don't itch and they don't last long, it's just that initial, painful CHOMP that makes deer flies one of the worse bloodsucking insect pests we have here.

I view them as one of God's annual reminders that we live in a fallen world.

Actual blood was lost and pain suffered to bring you this picture of a deer fly biting my knee. Am I a dedicated blogger, or what?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dog Days of June
Glory, a big black lab mix, going into the creek for a dipSince we live in a dense, shaded area, we usually don't mind not being air conditioned - except for a few days of the year, and this is one of them. It's 97 F (36 C) and the humidity is high. If we had to get up and actually do something, we'd be very hot.

I took the dogs outdoors one at a time and let them do whatever they wanted.

Glory, our oldest and biggest dog, had no problem deciding to head for the creek and wade around a while.

The two little dogs don't understand why a dog would voluntarily go into the water, but I think Glory was the smart one this afternoon.

Pappy the Papillon with his head in a mole holePappy's favorite pastime is hunting rodents. Since he's not much bigger than a rabbit, he's only had success with the smaller species.

He has caught and killed numerous mice, voles, and moles. We don't encourage him, but mousing is in his genes and there doesn't seem to be any stopping it. We'll be walking along and all of a sudden he will pounce into the weeds and come out with a prize.

This afternoon he was after a mole. He can smell them underground and knows right where to dig. If he doesn't get them on first pounce they're safe and gone, but he thinks he needs to dig a little just to make sure.

Sorry you can't see his cute little Papillon face. It's down the mole hole.

Sunny fetching her rubber turtleAt our house, "turtle" is a verb.

Sunny has a squeaky, rubber turtle, her favorite toy since she was a tiny puppy. (Actually we're on the fifth or sixth one, and there is a spare tucked away for when this one falls apart.) She likes to play fetch and tug with it, and she's not gentle.

When she wants to play, she gets her turtle and whaps it down at someone's feet. We say that person has been "turtled". If you ignore her turtling, she repeats it.

Sunny is very persistent and hard to ignore when she wants to play turtle. Usually the person who didn't get turtled laughs at the person who did get turtled because there is no escape.

Sunny turtled me several times this afternoon and I tried to tell her it was too hot. Evidently it wasn't too hot, because we went outside with the turtle and she fetched, tugged, and had a great time.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Last One Out is a Rotten Egg
First hatchling out of the second bluebird clutchThe hatching has begun!

The first hatched looks like he's ready to rule the nest. Mom and Dad Eastern Bluebird are working hard to feed him and watch over the rest of the eggs which will be/are hatching soon.

There are five eggs, so we're hoping for another successful family of five to equal the first clutch that fledged in May.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom!
Tomorrow, June 18, is Mom's birthday.

I've hacked her blog to post birthday greetings and let the world know it's her special day.

Click on over and leave her a comment. She'd love to hear from you.


Your Expression Number is 2
A mediator and peacemaker, you get along well with others.
You light up in group situations, but struggle when you're alone.
Modest and understated, you accomplish more than you give yourself credit for.

Cooperative, courteous, and considerate are words people use to describe you.
You know how to handle anyone, no matter how much of a pain they might be.
Tactful and friendly, nearly everyone who knows you admires you.

Sometimes you are overly sensitive and easily hurt.
When you get too sensitive, you can become shy and uncertain.
At your worst, you can be apathetic and withdrawn.

This little online calculator comes up with your expression number (whatever that's supposed to mean) from the name on your birth certificate.

My favorite number has always been 2, so I was enchanted to know that's the number calculated from my original name.

The personal characteristics that go with my expression number could be me, but mostly they remind me of a generic horoscope blurb.

I am pleased to be told that I "accomplish more than you give yourself credit for." I've been reading a lot lately and I like the idea that something is getting done that I don't know about.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Life Goes On
Wow. Thanks for all the great comments and email on my last post.

I think it's important that everyone take some time once in a while to think about what they're doing, what they're not doing, and ask themselves if changes need to be made. I do have some changes that I need to make, but the changes are minor. The current tone of my newly retired life is going to continue as is for now.

My faith in the Lord provides the assurance that if He has something He wants me to do, He'll make it perfectly clear. Right now, He seems to be mostly pleased to have me doing what I'm doing. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to leave the workforce earlier than planned and start the transition into life after work.

Thank you Lord and thank you Pfizer.

Idaho, Here We Come
One of the things I've been doing this week instead of knitting has been to book a trip to Idaho for Granddaughter Kimmy and me the first week of August.

Kimmy is going to be flying for the first time and I managed to get her a window seat on all four flights. She also will be visiting Idaho for the first time, seeing mountains for the first time, and, most important, meeting her new cousin Sydney Anne for the first time.

I've already met Sydney Anne, but I won't mind seeing her again.

For this trip I'm getting a rental car. Those who know me, know that I have no sense of direction and can get lost in my own back yard, so this will be a bit of a challenge. I will have maps, written out routes, and I will (can you sense the determination) learn my way around the Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene area.

Grandmas are more fun when they're mobile. That's my motivation to master this challenge.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What Do You Want To DO With Your Life?
This week I've been thinking about my future and my inability to get motivated about planning it.

Here I am, 60 years old, in reasonable health, looking to the future without much enthusiasm for anything.

In the past week I've had lunch with three different women about my age, plus or minus ten years. They all stopped working within the last year or a little longer. We all seem to be going through the same mental shutdown.

We're all intelligent, former professional women who have only recently learned the beauty of not being motivated, not excelling in anything, having time to do nothing, and wearing jeans/sweats and comfortable shoes.

None of us want to commit to any new obligations right now. It's enough that we plan lunch out with a friend who will understand if we need to change the date. That's just about as committed as we want to be.

So what's the point of this post? I'm not sure. I thought if I wrote it down maybe some great insight would transpire. It didn't.

I think I'll go knit.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sunny, Pappy, and Paws on the Pier

These are my two little dogs, Sunny on the left and Pappy on the right.

They are both about 14 pounds, have black eye patches, are very intelligent, and very very loved. Other than that, they're as different as can be.

  • Sunny is a female. Pappy is a male.
  • Sunny is mostly black. Pappy is mostly white.
  • Sunny has curly hair. Pappy has straight hair.
  • Sunny always looks ungroomed. Pappy always looks neat and tidy.
  • Sunny is a second generation (at least) mixed breed. Pappy is a Papillon.
  • Sunny has stocky legs and feet. Pappy has delicate legs and feet.
  • Sunny has a tiny head and small teeth. Pappy has a much larger head and teeth.
  • Sunny is persistent and stubborn. Pappy is eager to please.
  • Sunny is playful. Pappy is serious.
  • Sunny joined the family as a tiny puppy. Pappy joined the family as a rescued adult.
  • Sunny has never known harm. Pappy has had terrible things happen to him.
  • Sunny goes to "Advanced Hobby" class on Monday. Pappy goes to "Advanced Hobby" class on Thursday.
  • Sunny loves obedience work. Pappy is ho-hum about obedience work.
  • Sunny is ho-hum about agility. Pappy loves agility.
  • Sunny does not like strange places and crowds of people. Pappy loves them.

The Advanced Hobby classes are joining together to put on an obedience, agility demonstration at Paws on the Pier, a Humane Society dog walk in South Haven. Pappy is my demo dog - see last bullet on list - so he will be going to Sunny's class as well as his own for the next two weeks to practice.

That means Sunny will be going to the Intermediate class on Tuesday night, which means I'm going to be in doggy school three nights a week.

For anyone who is not a dog person and has read this far, let me assure you that Sunny is going to know Pappy went to her class. I really do have to take her on Tuesday or she will go into a major doggy depression.

Dog people don't need this explained.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday Snippets for June 11
Kimmy at her ninth birthday partyCongratulations to Kimberly Louise!!
Granddaughter Kimmy just completed fourth grade. It's become an annual tradition for this grandma to celebrate the end of a successful school year with a day at Full Blast for Kimmy and the friend of her choice.

Yesterday was Full Blast day, so I gathered up a non-demanding book, sunscreen, towels, and drove to Battle Creek.

My role for the day was easy: chauffeur, sit under a large beach umbrella, read a book, and hand out money as needed. The kids had fun and I had fun watching them have fun.

We ended the day with dinner at the restaurant of Kimmy's choice, Burger King.

Nest Box Update
There are five bluebird eggs now. Approximate hatch date is in two weeks, June 25.

The young swallows are doing well. When I open the nest box, they all hunker down and play dead. All the pictures I've taken look like a nest containing a dark blob. That's why you're not seeing a swallow picture today.

The Weather
It is hot (90s) and humid (blah) here and has been for the past week. There's another thunderstorm blowing in across Lake Michigan from Chicago. I'm going to unplug my laptop, grab one of my freshly fetched library books, and sit in front of the fan and read.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Aggressive Ferns
What was formerly a garden in the back of the house now completely filled with giant fernsIn order to have truth in blogging, I need to show some of the spots in the yard that are far from perfect.

When I took the camera out today, I had no problem finding a garden mess for my readers to tut-tut over.

This was formerly an orderly garden full of hostas and other shade loving plants before the cinnamon ferns took over. Evidently fern growing conditions are excellent here.

At first I thought it was pretty how the ferns filled in all the gaps and looked so cool and green. Then, at some point in time that I can't pinpoint, the ferns took over.

That Rose of Sharon bush behind the ferns looks half dead. Did the ferns kill it?

I think the hostas are still alive in there, hoping to be rescued soon. I also think it's going to be a lot of work to dig the ferns out and restore order to this plot. So, I've been ignoring it and working on the front side of the house.

First bluebird egg in the nest for a second nestingThe egg laying has begun!

On our first dog walk of the morning, Daddy bluebird was sitting on top of the nest box and Mom Bluebird was inside starting the second family.

Unlike the dive bombing swallows, the male took off and left the female to fend for herself. She peeked out the hole at us, then ducked down out of sight. We quickly walked off and didn't go back that way until much later in the day

Friday, June 03, 2005

Living In A Swamp
Frog in the pondFrogs in the Pond
This Northern Leopard Frog sitting at the edge of the pond and was nice enough not to jump away until he had his picture taken.

We've been having very noisy evenings thanks to these fellows.

We have a spring fed pond in the East yard. A wonderful draw for all types of wildlife including at least one very large snapping turtle. You couldn't pay me to go wading in that pond.

Water Cress blooming along the creek Water Cress in the Creek
There's a creek that runs through the property separating the front two acres with the house from the back three acre field where we walk the dogs and have the nest boxes.

Other than the mowed walking paths, we leave the back three acres natural for the birds and wildlife. We also leave the creek natural.

The creek water is so clear it never shows in a picture. You can see the sandy creek bed and the beautiful water cress that blooms this time of year.

Second bluebird nest built after nest box was cleaned out Second Bluebird Nest
A few weeks ago the bluebirds fledged five young from this nest box. Last weekend I removed the used and very crusted (we won't talk about what it was crusted with) nest box.

After removing the cruddy nest, I used the hose, a scraper, and a stiff toothbrush to clean out the box. Then I re-mounted it and waited.

Yesterday I could see the male and female entering the house with dry grass. Today the new, clean nest is ready for their second family of the season.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Six day old tree swallows in the feathered nestTree Swallows Hatched
Yesterday six tree swallow eggs hatched in one of the east nest boxes. They're tiny, naked, and well sheltered in their feather nest.

Fortunately it was a beautiful, warm day in West Michigan, so there was no problem opening the nest box and getting a picture. Well, actually there were a few little problems.

It was a challenge to hold the feathers out of the way to see the hatchlings without destroying the cosy structure loving made by mom and dad tree swallow. And mom and dad tree swallow were very irate about the home invasion. They circled and dive bombed until I left.

Jack in the PulpitJack-in-the Pulpit
Yesterday I was walking out in the west side yard. It's heavily shaded with pine and oak trees and pretty much left to grow natural, except for groups of hostas I've planted for color.

It was a surprise to find this lovely Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing big and healthy under a pine tree. We've lived here fourteen years and this is the first time I've seen one on our property or anywhere nearby.

They make berries/seeds in the fall, so I suspect this plant arrived via bird poop.

It looks happy here. I hope it spreads and multiples.

Thanks little bird, wherever you are.