Friday, April 28, 2006

Getting Back in the Groove of Home
Bright eyed Sydney ready to dance and playI'm home.

I still occasionally find myself singing A B C D E F G. . ., Sydney's favorite song on her Leap Start Learning Table. I'm sure I heard it several hundred times while in Idaho, but each time was a delight as she smiled and danced along with the catchy little tune.

Who needs coffee when a bright eyed little sweetie like this wants to play at seven in the morning?

Purple violets 2006The Michigan reality is yardwork. There is still much to clean up at Violet Acres and we're working on it old people style - a little each day.

Many little spring flowers are in bloom including my favorite, the blue violets. They grow wild on our property. There's a large patch in the west wooded yard and other scattered "volunteer" plants here, there, and everywhere.

The bluebird eggs hatched yesterday. It's been too chilly to open the box and take pictures, so there are none.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

H is for Hands
ABC Along Button

Granddaughter Kimmy's baby handsOne of the most memorable moments of my life was being present for the birth of my first granddaughter, Kimberly Louise, in 1995.

Seeing my own daughter give birth to her daughter was awesome, but the very very best part happened about ten minutes later.

Daughter Heather still had post-birth work to do and she called for new dad Tony to come be with her, meaning I got to hold the new born Kimmy. There was a rocking chair in the room. While we sat together and rocked, she grabbed my finger. Ten minutes old and she grabbed my finger.

I know babies do this all the time, but this was MY granddaughter and, therefore, very different and special. Instant bonding. Instant love.

This picture was taken after Kimmy went home. Her little hand in mine. I love it.

I had a mouse pad made from this picture and used it at work for years until the picture wore off.

Granddaughter Sydney's baby handsIt was almost ten years later before I was grandma a second time. Granddaughter Sydney Anne was born to my son John and his wife Anne 2000 miles away in Idaho.

I missed the birth, but four weeks later I flew west to meet my new granddaughter.

As you can see, the meeting was a success. Sydney decided her paternal grandmother was OK and gave me the sealing finger hug on our relationship.

Granddaughter Kimmy's hand holding Granddaughter Sydney's handLast August I had the pleasure of bringing Kimmy on her first plane trip.

Two of the most important people in my life met for the first time.

The tanned hands of nine year old Kimmy held the baby pink hands of four month old Sydney and declared her an OK cousin.

Writing from Idaho where I'm having a wonderful time with the one year old hands of Sydney Anne.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Countdown to Idaho
Only two more days before I wake up before dawn and head for the airport and Idaho.

I'm in triage mode:

  1. Has to be done before I leave - laundry, packing, income tax (done!), clean out purse, books from library, organize sock project, go to bank for cash, pack, post H for the ABC Along.

  2. Would be nice to have done before I go - clean kitchen, clean bathroom, vacuum house, finish raking out gardens.

  3. I'll think about this when I get home - most of the housework, yard work, FLAK, Barbara Shawl.

According to the National Weather Service 5 day forecast for Coeur d'Alene, it's going to be about ten degrees colder there than here in Michigan. The Idaho nights are dipping below freezing and the Idaho high temps are in the 40s and 50s.

Son John and Daughter-in-law Anne have planned a fun week for my visit. They're going to be busy doing things and I'm going to babysit. I'm trying to remember what it's like to feed a one year old. It's been a long time.

I can hardly wait. Now, what do I have to do next?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Updates on Gail, Sunny, Bird Nests, and Rabbit
Gail's Christmas Socks
Back in February I wrote

Gail the dog trainer has a birthday the same day as John and I'm trying to decide if I'm going to knit a pair of socks for the occasion. She got a pair for Christmas which I've never seen her wear, even though she told me she loves wearing them. Was she just being polite? I see her twice a week. The socks should have made an appearance by now. It would give me great pleasure to knit another pair of socks for her, but I don't want to give her something she doesn't really like.
Her birthday was March 18. By the first of March, I still hadn't seen her wearing the gift socks, so I sighed and bought her a book for her birthday.

Then she started wearing the socks. She wore them three times in the two weeks before her birthday. I was so pleased. And now I know what to give her for Christmas next year.

Two weeks ago Sunny had back spasms was diagnosed with spondylosis, excessive bone production that occurs between spinal vertebrae in dogs. Two of her lumbar vertebrae are all ready fused together and her entire spine is showing excess calcium deposits.

Sunny is off drugs now and we're working on training her to go up and down the pet stairs instead of jumping on and off the furniture.

Gail the dog trainer had a dog with spondylosis and let me know she can help with good advice on what Sunny should not do. We've had several talks about Sunny and doggy school.

Sunny loves doggy school. When Sunny and Pappy see the treat bag come out they know it's doggy school night for one of them. They sit and watch until I tell them which one is going. The one who gets named jumps around in excitement. The other one goes off to the back room and pouts. It's totally unacceptable that Sunny never gets a turn to go to doggy school.

Fortunately, Sunny's favorite part of doggy school is the obedience, so we're going to switch her out of Advance Hobby/Agility into an obedience class. Tomorrow (Tuesday) night will be our first time to attend.

Bird Nests
It was 59 degrees today. The swallows have returned, the black flies have hatched, and I officially pronouce it spring in SW Michigan.

Mother bluebird peeked out the nest box hole at us during the first morning dog walk. Later I checked and there was the first blue egg. She'll be laying one a day now until she has four or five.

The Mourning Dove nest has been abandoned. Either a predator got into it or the cold killed the naked babies.

Mourning Doves are stupid, clumsy birds. I know most people like them. I like them too, but they're still stupid and clumsy. This pair got confused about nesting season and did it a month early. I'm sure they'll try again.

Jill asked . . .
Any chance you can point out the Mourning Dove nest? Is it really that pitiful stick or two under the bird?
Yes. That's it.

Mystery nest of leaves and rough weedsJust spotted this nest on the shelf of an old, unused satellite dish way out in the back field.

It's a collection of coarse weeds and dead, dry leaves. Looks like it would blow away if I sneezed on it. It's just as pitiful as the Mourning Dove nest.

I'm not familiar with this type of nest and I haven't seen the associated birds so I don't know what they might be. If I see them return to this nest I'll report.

Anybody know what kind of nest this is? Want to guess?

The Weight Loss Rabbit on Stitches of Violet Sidebar
In my April 1 post I promised
Next Wednesday I will weigh myself, reset the rabbit if necessary, and see if I can hop him along a bit before I leave for Idaho.
I kept that promise and was delighted to see that I have not gained any of the lost weight back. The rabbit is exactly in the right place.

I do admit to being a bit challenged in finding the motivation for the last five pounds. I'm working on it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

G is for Girl's Athletic Association
ABC Along Button

Prom picture from 19601959. I was 14 years old, and an introverted, unathletic high school freshman. My extroverted, athletic friend (the one in the yellow prom dress) talked me into joining the Girl's Athletic Association (GAA).

Why? Because if we acquired 15 athletic points we earned a ticket to the GAA formal dance and we - the girls - got to ask the boy of our choice to escort us.

Unfortunately, earning GAA points required doing athletic things.

Horseback riding was on the GAA list. My friend lived on a dairy farm and had horses. She assured me that three hours on a horse for three GAA points was "no sweat".

I had never ridden a horse before. She'd been riding horses since she was old enough to sit up, so it didn't occur to her teenage brain that I might need a few pointers. I got on that horse and before I could ask what to do next, the horse took off and jumped the fence.

I didn't fall off. She was a little more helpful after I threatened to go home, and we managed to ride for three hours. The next day I was so sore I could hardly walk. Not a good thing, because I had marching band practice.

I was too stiff to raise my knees when marching 8 to 5 (eight steps to 5 yards), so the band instructor pulled me out of formation and yelled at me for having a "tight skirt". He never did let me explain. The skirt was not tight, my muscles were tight. Stupid man.

It was all worth it, though. That's me in the purple formal. I picked a good looking date, didn't I?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Early Spring
Bluebird nest with no eggsAs mentioned in my last post, our mild winter didn't translate into an early spring.

We haven't had many mild days and, as you can see in the picture, we don't have much green in the landscape yet.

Strangely, though, the bluebirds have their nest build in the nest box. This is the earliest I've ever seen a bluebird nest.

No eggs yet.

Mourning Dove sitting on nestHere is another nest that is way early. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

"The mourning dove reproductive cycle begins with egg laying in late April/early May."
So what is with all this early nesting while it's still cold?

This nest is a little above eye level in a large pine tree at the back of our five acres.

Mom and dad mourning dove take turns sitting on the eggs, so they're never unattended. They've been incubating for several weeks now. We should have little ones soon. Hope they don't get snowed on.

February Gold daffodils starting to bloomThe February Gold daffodils are my smallest and earliest to bloom. In Michigan they never bloom in February.

I expect flowers the first week in April. Only a few have blossomed.

Unlike the nesting birds, the flora is a little behind schedule.

New rake in two piecesSunday I stopped on my way home from church and bought a much needed new rake.

Monday, the first time I used it, the rake fell off the handle. I was annoyed. I jammed the rake back on the handle and kept raking.

I debated returning the rake, but didn't want to make a special trip into civilization just for that.

I tried to use it again. It fell apart and I finally noticed a screw taped on the back. It's an assemble-it-yourself rake! Whoever would have guessed? There was no clue on the label. There was no clue in the store.

Close up of screw taped on new assemble-it-yourself rakeExcuse me while I sound like an old lady.

In the good old days, you could go to a hardware store and buy a rake that came in one piece.

This morning I stopped at an independent hardware store. The owner told me he stopped stocking rakes because everyone bought them cheap at the big chains and he couldn't compete.

I would be willing to pay a little more for a rake if I didn't have to assemble it. Am I the only one?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring Things
Doing my income taxes when I know I'm not going to get a refund is completely bothersome.

Just because we had a mild winter does not mean that spring is going to come early. Warm (over 50 degrees F) spring days have been very rare so far this year. And today isn't one of them.

On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00am in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06. That won't ever happen again.

Also on Wednesday of this week, Granddaughter Sydney Anne turns one year old. That will never happen again, either.

Sydney eating? her cake at her first birthday partyHer party was last Saturday.

She had her own little cake just in case she wanted to make a mess with it.

Sydney sitting in her new birthday wagonShe also got lots of presents. One of her favorites was this red wagon from her grandparents in Michigan.

I think she likes it.

For those who want to know more, Dad's blog post about the party is here.

For those who want to see thirty more pictures of the party, there is a Picture Trail album here.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Let Me Answer

Linda asked . . .

Have you thought about those doggy steps?
After checking three different pet stores and finding nothing, I came home and ordered these steps.

If I had read Shelly's and Bliss's comments first, I would have ordered a ramp instead. The vet suggested steps, and I didn't think to consider anything else.

Sunny's x-rays showed spondylosis, excessive bone production that occurs between spinal vertebrae in dogs. Two of her lumbar vertebrae are all ready fused together and her entire spine is showing excess calcium deposits.

Even when her current acute back problem is healed, her jumping and twisting will continue to be restricted.

Much to my sadness, there will be plenty of opportunity to install ramps for her.

Birdsong asked . . .
When is the next grandbaby visit scheduled?
April 19 for a week.

I also have plane tickets for another week starting June 16. Mom/Great-grandma is going with me for that trip.

In August, I'd like to fly into some city west of Idaho and do some driving and sight seeing of beautiful Washington while working my way east to Idaho. Or maybe fly into some city in Montana and drive west to Idaho. I'd like to keep it around 200 miles from Post Falls/Coeur d'Alene. Any suggestions?

I know this is not the knitterly thing to say but seeing God's creation is my primary reason for doing this, not yarn store visits.

Someone asked (but they were too polite to leave a comment). . .
When are you going to lose those last 5 pounds and get the bunny on your Stitches of Violet sidebar through those flowers?
It was so easy to stop dieting and it's so hard to think about starting again.

I think I've maintained my loss, but I haven't weighed myself in several months.

Next Wednesday I will weigh myself, reset the rabbit if necessary, and see if I can hop him along a bit before I leave for Idaho.