Saturday, July 29, 2006

O is for Out
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Yellow moth and tuplip tree leafStepping out the door for an early morning dogwalk, I find this beautiful moth on the step with a yellow leaf from the nearby tulip tree.

We leave a flood light on all night. The insect eating birds, especially the Phoebes, have learned to come get breakfast from the bugs the light attracts. This moth was probably injured by a bird, but it's not dead and I gently move it to the front yard before the dogs run out the door.

Later in the day I find wing pieces. The moth did not escape being a bird's breakfast.

Sunrise for a hot hot dayAfter walking out to the back three acres, I aim the camera to the east for a sunrise shot.

Another hot, humid day is predicted. The sunrise is not spectacular and there are no clouds in the hazy sky.

Mist at dawn on a hot muggy dayAiming the camera to the west, the mist is still visible against the trees.

Mama bluebird laying her morning eggWe head down the path with the nest boxes used by bluebirds. Mama bluebird is sitting on her nest and peeks out at us through the hole.

She's hoping we walk by without bothering her because she's in the middle of laying her fourth egg. We click a quick picture and move on.

Rabbit next to a section of tall weedsSee the rabbit? It's right in the center of this picture.

Rabbits freeze in place when they see us coming. They are so well camouflaged that the dogs usually don't spot them as long as the rabbits don't move.

Pappy half heartedly looking for a rabbitThe dogs know the field is full of rabbits. Glory and Pappy delight in trying to find them.

They find a rabbit and head into the tall vegetation after it. The rabbit scoots out the other side and is long gone to safety while Glory and Pappy spend the next ten minutes darting around in the weeds looking for it.

I'd love to know what little Pappy thinks he is going to do with a rabbit should he ever catch one. Or maybe I wouldn't.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday Flowers and Berries
Flowers from the field and blackberriesMy Friday morning walk to cut wildflowers in the field without the dogs is becoming a favorite part of my summer week.

This morning's hike had a double purpose. Some of the blackberries have ripened and I wanted to pick enough to make my favorite, yummy Blackberry Bars for breakfast.

Most people consider blackberry bushes to be noxious, invasive weeds. I can understand their point. Blackberry thorns are numerous, long, and sharp. Walking into a patch with exposed skin almost always results in blood, either from a scratch or puncture.

On the other hand, blackberries can hardly be beat for encouraging wildlife and birds. I've even seen a box turtle standing under a berry branch chowing down on their sweet goodness.

Glory eating blackberriesOnly one of my three dogs enjoys the blackberries. Glory has figured out how to be careful and not get her nose punctured while she eats them right off the bush.

She selects the very ripe, sweet ones and leaves the rest.

Untidy Bluebird nestThe bluebirds have been busy building a new nest for a late summer brood.

This is the messiest bluebird nest I've seen in the nest boxes. Either they are tired from the two previous broods or this is a different bluebird pair. Or maybe the dead grass is different this time of year and this is the best they can manage.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Summertime Sky
Sky on a hot day with hummingbird sitting on the wireWeather forecast is for a hot, humid, miserable week. Since we don't have air-conditioning, DH and I have gone into take it easy and sit in front of the fan mode.

So far - but it's only Monday morning - it's not as hot as was predicted. Living in the woods, we are cooler than those who live in asphalt land. There is even a nice 15 to 20 mph breeze to help evaporate the sweat.

The dogs are getting abbreviated walks in the hot, sunny field. Usually we walk the path three to five times around. For the past few hot days, we've been walking around once and then heading back to the house.

That little spot on the electric wire is a hummingbird. They look so cute when they perch up there just like the big birds.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

N is For Nest
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Swallow nest with six two-week old hatchlings Tree Swallow Nest
The tree swallow young are two weeks old, and they are looking like miniature swallows. This picture was taken on the last day I'll be able to open the nest box without the risk of them flying out prematurely.

I've been taking pictures for the past week with no success in getting anything that shows the little birds very well. I can hear them chirping as I approach the nest box, but as soon as I open it they dive down and cover their heads.

At the end of my ring finger is a little swallow peeking out to give me the evil eye. They want me to go away so their parents can bring more food.

Tree swallows like to feather their nest with white feathers. I read about a study showing the more white feathers, the more likely a successful nest. These swallows did a great job with the feathers and it looks like all six hatchlings are healthy and likely to fledge.

Dive bombing swallow parent The tree swallow parents weren't happy with me being in the nest box. They were both flying in circles dive bombing my head while telling me off with their chatter.

Fritillary on purple clover Around the nest box were numerous fritillaries flying around. They like the sweet purple clover, one of the many abundant wildflowers in the back three acres.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sky and Smiles
Todays morning skySaturday Sky
There's a popular meme in knitting blog land called Saturday Sky that requests a sky picture each Saturday. I haven't officially joined, but I did find myself outside with a camera this morning taking many sky pictures, of which this is one.

After some much needed rain on Monday, it was a beautiful week in SW Michigan. Not too hot in the daytime and comfortable, cool sleeping weather at night.

Today the sky was blue with a few fluffy clouds. Perfect summer weather.

Sydney and greatgrandma on the sofa smilingLast month Mom and I went to Idaho to visit great-granddaughter/granddaughter Sydney.

It was the first meeting for great-granddaughter and great-grandmother. The results were just as happy as this picture indicates.

Thanks to son John for taking this beautiful picture.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Flowers
Wildflowers from the field with a red day lilyAfter the morning dog walk, I put the dogs back in the house and headed back out to the field for some wildflowers.

(The red day lily isn't a wildflower, but I wasn't trying to be pure.)

I've been thinking of doing this for years and haven't. Why? It was very pleasant except for the deer flies and now I have a pretty little arrangement to look at for a few days.

Lately I've been thinking about something that came up briefly during the trip to Idaho: I have difficulty knowing what I want and/or asking for it.

This is a family trait and can probably be blamed on our easy going, peace loving Swiss nature. Much of the time it makes us agreeable and easy to live with. Other times we are very frustrating to those who love us and would like to know our preference instead of hearing, "I don't care. Whatever you want is fine."

What I've been wondering is this: When I say "I don't care", audibly or by default, is it actually true that I don't care? Or, somewhere deep inside do I really care? Am I thinking that the people who love me should be mind readers? Am I trying to avoid responsibility for a bad outcome if what I ask for doesn't work out?

If I start asking for what I want, assuming I can determine what that is, will my family resent it?

Have I read too many psychology books?

Maybe I'm having an old age crisis because I didn't take time for a mid-life crisis.

Send me flowers. I love them. Not roses. I've never cared for roses.

There. That wasn't so difficult.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

100 Things About Me
Revised and updated July 6, 2006.

  1. I was born in Chicago but moved to Michigan in the second grade and have lived in Michigan ever since.
  2. Bob and I married in 1975 in a magistrate's office wearing matching flannel shirts that I made for the occasion.
  3. We live on five acres in the country in SW Michigan in a small brick house on a dirt road in a wooded swamp.
  4. My favorite flowers are the violets. There's a big violet patch in the West wooded yard.
  5. We have hundreds of Hostas. Lily of the Valley grows like a weed here.
  6. I am a terrible housekeeper, but I entertain dreams of getting better some day.
  7. The queen of the house is Glory, an ten year old lab mix.
  8. The princess of the house is Sunny, a five year old Papillon mix.
  9. The prince of the house is Pappy, an eight year old Papillon rescue dog.
  10. I spend two nights a week at doggy school doing agility, tricks, and some obedience with the little dogs. They both love it and so do I.
  11. In 2003 I lost forty pounds in Weight Watchers. So far I have managed to keep it off.
  12. I worked as an Information Technology analyst for twenty-four years. In April 2003 Pharmacia, my former employer, was acquired by Pfizer. In January, 2004 I was severed along with hundreds of other ex-Pharmacia employees in SW Michigan.
  13. I am now retired and hoping I can afford to stay that way.
  14. People who knew me well told me I'd be bored without a job. I haven't been bored yet and don't think it's going to happen.
  15. In the 1980s, I was a COBOL programmer. Cobol will always be my favorite programming language, although I know better than to use it now.
  16. In the 1970s, I went to college part time while my children were growing up.
  17. I have a BS in Biomedical Science with a minor in Chemistry from Western Michigan University.
  18. I never had a job using my major or minor.
  19. My first job out of college was as a computer programmer. I wasn't sure what a computer was. They hired me because I tested super high on a programming aptitude test.
  20. I've always been good at taking tests.
  21. I was always a nerd, but in high school and most of my twentys I tried to not to show it.
  22. I was able to play stupid in high school chemistry because the teacher was boring, but I was never able to resist excelling in math.
  23. My high school math teacher was excellent. She taught me how to think through problems.
  24. I played bass clarinet in the high school band. I was very good technically but not musically talented.
  25. After high school I attended Wright Beauty Academy in Battle Creek and earned a cosmetology license.
  26. While I was in beauty school I smoked a little rinestone studded pipe. I still love the smell of most pipe tobaccos.
  27. In the 1960s, I worked as a hairdresser, doing beehives and other very solid hair structures.
  28. My fame as a hairdresser came from my ability to create backcombed and hairsprayed dos that would not move for a whole week.
  29. When I was ten, I had a pet painted turtle named Prince Albert Red Rattler. He lived in a large washbin and ate worms. Slurped them up like spagetti. His record was 100 worms in one day.
  30. When it was time to let Prince Albert go hibernate, he was so fat he couldn't close his shell.
  31. My maternal grandparents came to this country from Switzerland when my mother was a baby.
  32. my paternal grandfather was a French Canadian named Gilbert LaFayette Monette. My paternal grandmother was Daughters of the American Revolution material.
  33. My father had a heart attack and died when he was forty-five years old.
  34. My mother is still living - and I mean living! You would never guess how old she is and I'm not telling.
  35. I was present when my first granddaughter was born in 1995. When she was ten minutes old, she grabbed my finger and we've been loving each other ever since.
  36. My daughter is smart, beautiful, and has a sparkling personality. She works as a property manager. I'm so thankful that she lives in the area so we can see each other often.
  37. My son is a genius. He used to do calculus homework during the rests in orchestra practice. He ended up in a hotel/resort industry career because he's also a great people person.
  38. My second granddaughter was born in 2005. She lives 2000 miles away, so I signed up for the frequent flyer program.
  39. Starting when I was in my late teens, I dyed my brown hair red. When I was fifty-five I let it grow out natural. It's about seventy percent gray now.
  40. I'm very nearsighted. I've been wearing glasses since I was ten.
  41. I resent spending time on the daily routine things: taking a shower, brushing my teeth, blow drying my hair, doing the dishes.
  42. I don't wear makeup anymore.
  43. I've always purchased practical cars. Right now I drive a tan 2000 Camry. The tan matches the dust and mud from our dirt road.
  44. I love knitting socks.
  45. For me, the fun thing about knitting is to try different stitch patterns.
  46. I very seldom follow a knitting pattern without at least one change. Often I just wing it.
  47. One of my favorite things to do is knit while listening to recorded books.
  48. I used to be an excellent seamstress but I haven't had a sewing machine in the last twenty years. Occasionally I get the urge to sew but it passes quickly.
  49. I've always loved watching the birds and the wildlife.
  50. I love embroidery, brocade, and lace - seeing it, not doing it.
  51. I am the oldest of four children.
  52. My three siblings are all very unique and gifted. I'm the boring member of the family.
  53. If you are a brass player, you probably know about my brother, Dave Monette, maker of Monette trumpets.
  54. My three siblings all think SW Michigan is a good place to be "from".
  55. I'm the only sibling who has stayed in SW Michigan and I'm not sorry. I like it here.
  56. We hardly ever watch TV or go to movies.
  57. The last twelve years I've made a point of studying the Bible. I think it's the key to the meaning of life.
  58. I don't think any of the churches have the complete picture of what the Bible is saying.
  59. I believe we are here on earth to learn and grow. The lessons we're here to learn are the ones that are hard for us to grasp - the mistakes we make over and over and over.
  60. I like to be around friendly, positive people. But sometimes I like to bitch and be critical.
  61. My favorite kind of humor makes fun of life.
  62. I'm an introvert.
  63. I hate speaking in public but I can do it when I need to.
  64. When I took Dale Carnegie training I won several awards for my short talks.
    Most of the people in my Dale Carnegie class felt the class was life changing. I didn't feel that it changed me at all. I'm still wondering if I missed something important - but I don't think so.
  65. I hate shopping.
  66. I buy most of my clothes from Land's End. My favorite shoes are New Balance.
  67. My sense of direction is very poor.
  68. I haven't had a dress or a skirt on since son John's wedding in 1999.
  69. For ten years in the 1990s I made stone jewelry and sold it at craft shows. It started out fun but got to be a chore, so I quit.
  70. I have promised myself I will never again take something I like to do and try to make it profitable. It takes all the pleasure out of it when you have to do it to deadlines.
  71. I am less and less of a perfectionist as I get older and learn how little it really matters.
  72. My favorite color has changed through the years, but I've always had red in my wardrobe.
  73. My favorite color right now is purple. I don't and won't wear it with red.
  74. I think Tennessee Ernie Ford sings hymns like God Himself might sound. I got through a stressful project at work once by listening to Tennessee Ernie sing hymns.
  75. I am always apprehensive about driving through the car wash.
  76. I could - and sometimes do - waste time playing Spider Solitare.
  77. I'm the second of four generations with the middle name Louise. We all have different first names.
  78. Every year around Mother's Day, the four Louises have a Louise Lunch to celebrate our love for each other.
  79. There's a Tulip Tree in the front yard and one in the back yard. The breeze in the leaves makes them look like they're waving at me, which makes me smile.
  80. We have a phoebe nest on the back porch and every year the phoebes come to raise a family.
  81. If I had a second daughter, I was going to name her Phoebe. I love the sound of the name.
  82. On the back three acres I have a bluebird trail of four nest boxes. They get used by bluebirds and tree swallows.
  83. Every programmer I know is either a calendar person or a map person. I'm a calendar person.
  84. I hate to hear people sniffle.
  85. My favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings is to snuggle back in bed with the two little dogs.
  86. Before I turned thirty I was very thin. Sometimes I was even way too thin to look good.
  87. I wanted both my children very much. When I was pregnant, I would laugh with delight when I had morning sickness.
  88. My favorite deserts are custard, flan, and cheesecake.
  89. My favorite fast food is Taco Bell and Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich.
  90. I enjoy quiet.
  91. I like to enjoy my friends one or two at a time, not in groups.
  92. I don't enjoy talking on the phone. In our house the answering machine answers all the calls and we pick up if it's someone we want/need to talk with.
  93. I'm not good at keeping in touch with old friends but I think about them sometimes.
  94. I'm a chocolate snob. I only like European chocolate without all the extra wax and preservatives.
  95. I love butterscotch and caramel.
  96. I get impatient with people who say they want to do something but won't try to do it.
  97. I've worked as a geriatric nurses aide and as an aide in a home for the profoundly retarded during a time in my life when I was thinking of going into medicine.
  98. I've never worked retail and I've never been a waitress. Hope I never have to do either of those jobs.
  99. I have an IBM ThinkPad and I work with it while sitting on the loveseat with a writing board on my lap.
  100. My little dogs like to snuggle up to me while I'm working on my laptop - but only if I tire them out first.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How Sweet It Is
I had a doctor appointment today and we spent some time talking about what I should weigh. Dr. V's conclusion: I'm in the upper range of acceptable and shouldn't be concerned about my weight as long as I'm not gaining.

Doctor V is a small woman in her thirties. I have confidence that she isn't going to encourage extra pounds. Therefore I've removed the weight loss rabbit from the Stitches of Violet sidebar.

According to a news item in the Washington Post:

Obesity is strongly linked with depression and other mood disorders.

Whether obesity might cause these problems or is the result of them is not certain, and the research does not provide an answer, but there are theories to support both arguments.
My theory - it's not the obesity that is making people depressed, it's the unhealthy types of food they are eating that creates the depression.

In my study of one (me), I have proven over and over again that when I eat sugar I want more sugar. And, when I eat a bit more than a little sugar I get the blahs. Sometimes I get depressed.

When I stop eating sugar, my mood improves.

It takes about three days to de-sugar my system. I start feeling better after a day. Once the three days are past the sugar craving is gone, fruit tastes sweet, and most pastries and candy taste too sweet to be pleasant.

There is a wide range of human biochemistry. What works for me may not work for you. But, if you've never tried fasting from sugar, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Things
John and Sydney in the front windowI love this picture of son John and granddaughter Sydney from my recent trip to Idaho. It's my new desktop.

Of all the impressive things my son has done in his life, I am most proud of him for being a loving, involved Daddy to his daughter.

Granddaughter Sydney loves to sit in the front window and wave when people come and go and watch for the dog across the street and yell "do, do!" repeatedly when she sees it.

She also likes to have her picture taken.

Ten day old bluebirds in nest boxThis is the second brood of bluebirds in this nest box this summer. The first nesting fledged five and it appears the second nesting is going to do the same.

It was overcast yesterday so I was able to get this picture without interfering shadows. The hatchlings are about ten days old.

Tiger liliesAbout a decade ago I planted a patch of Tiger Lilies. They didn't do well and I finally ripped them out and replaced them with daylilies.

Part of a Tiger Lily bulb remained in the ground and I didn't have the heart to weed it out.

Every year it sprouts up and puts on a glorious display of tiger color. Every year I think about moving it somewhere else, but I don't.

It seems to be happy where it is and it makes me smile.

The dogs are sleeping today after a fitful night of fireworks and thunderstorms.

Hopefully everyone will use up their noisy 4th of July stash tonight and the dogs can resume their normal nighttime sleeping pattern by Wednesday.

Wishing all Americans a pleasant holiday today.