Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pappy in The Snow

Yesterday we had to dig out so I could make a two hour crown prep appointment at the dentist twenty miles away. Wouldn't want to miss that fun.

Today there's more snow and I could star in a BENGAY ad if I had some BENGAY. I'm not planning to shovel out again just to buy some.

Pappy in the snowPappy thinks if I really loved him I would shovel out more places for him to do his business.

I do love him. He can go in the driveway if he wants a shoveled spot. And he better hurry, the driveway is filling up with snow as I write.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lake Effect Snow

View out the front window on Sunday morningThe snow wasn't such a surprise when I got up at 6:30 this morning. After all, it is January in SW Michigan.

The quantity of snow exceeded expectations, though. 10 inches and still dumping. That is more than was forecast.

This was the view out the front living room window. Just on the other side of the chain link fence is the road and the rest of the woods is across the street.

Today we are right in the middle of the lake effect snow band.

803 AM EST SUN JAN 28 2007




Cardinals at the plank feederI debated the wisdom of going to church. On Sunday mornings the snowplows aren't as diligent as work day mornings. I decided to stay home and make sure the birds had enough food.

The cardinals are the first birds to arrive at daybreak.

We have a ten foot plank sitting across the back balcony because cardinals like to eat on a flat surface. It's loaded up with black oiler sunflower seeds and dozens of cardinals take turns flying in from the nearby bushes to chow down. They'll be joined by bluejays, and juncos as daylight progresses - the birds that don't like the hanging feeders on the other side of the house.

View out the East window from where I sit with my laptopSitting on the loveseat with my laptop, I look out on the feeding plank.

This picture and the cardinal picture are a bit fuzzy because they were taken through the window glass during a lake effect snow dump.

The top picture was taken with the window open during a lull in the snow fall action.

Creek on the 10 am dog walkThis picture was taken on the 10 am dog walk as we crossed the bridge over the creek to the back three acres.

Beautiful, isn't it? But we have enough. It can quit now. Please.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Sky, Save the Bluebirds, and Sleeping Dog

Cloudy winter morning sky for January 27, 2007This was the eastern sky on our 10 am dog walk.

If I had not already heard the weather forecast, I might have imagined the sun breaking through the clouds for a sunny day.

The battle was brief. The clouds won. It was a cold, gray day with some snow in the afternoon. We're expecting more snow tomorrow and Monday.

New meal worm feeder hanging in a treeBluebirds have been using the nestboxes for night time shelter from the wind and cold.

One dawn last week I saw four fly out of one box as the dogs and I approached. (Yes, I felt terrible that we were the cause of them going out into the world before they were ready. We're trying to remember to walk a different route in the morning.)

What do they eat in the winter time? They are bug eaters and never show up at the feeders near the house. I can't imagine where they're finding food.

These bluebirds are my babies and I want them to make it through the winter, so today I bought a meal worm feeder and 500 mealworms. We hung the feeder in a favorite bluebird gathering tree about 15 feet from the nest box where I'm guessing most of them were hatched. I also bought some wonderful smelling seed mixed with dried fruit to scatter around the feeder edges.

Those white splotches visible in the upper part of the picture is the snow coming down.

Pappy curled up on the bed taking a napNap time.

Pappy knows what to do after a snowy walk on a cold, gray winter day.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Birthday Sky

Saturday Sky for January 20, 2007Cold and mostly sunny with occasion clouds and light snow.

According to my mother this is a "lovely sunny Saturday, as it was the day you were born."

It always amazes me when she says that.

I remember many things about the day I gave childbirth, but I have no idea about the weather except the roads were dry and we didn't have any problem getting to the hospital. Maybe I'd remember more if it hadn't happened in the middle of the night.

Another picture from last weeks minor ice stormWe still have some ice left over from last week's minor ice storm.

This is one of our dog walking paths on the back three acres. When the ice was at its heaviest, it was like walking through the inside of a diamond.

We Keep Getting Older and We Are Not AmusedToday I turn 62, the magic age for senior discounts at Meijer and possibly other places I shop. I'll pay closer attention now.

It's also the year I get to start collecting Social Security. I'm all set up and ready to receive, but the first payment won't happen until the third Wednesday in March.

That sounds like a long time away on this cold January day.

It's become an annual tradition to post this card on my birthday. It makes me laugh. Here's hoping it gives you a chuckle, too.

No big celebration plans. Bob and I both think it's a pleasure to stay home and hibernate in January. He fixed a yummy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and biscuits. We have steaks in the frig for dinner.

He downloaded and burned two new Janet Evanovich books for my listening pleasure while I knit sleeves. I'm content.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Even The Bluebirds Have Icicles

Bluebird house with icicles The ice from the minor ice storm lingers on.

Blue sky and icy tree topsThe good news:
The sun is shining.

The ice is beautiful in the sun.

The air is calm.

Thanks to the snow covering, it's not slippery in most spots.

The ice is not too heavy for the trees to hold without branches breaking.

We still have power.

Dog walk field on an icy morningThe Worrisome News:

It's much colder today and the ice is not going to melt in the sunshine.

If a breeze comes up, there will be trees and tree limbs down all over.

All the power lines out here are above ground and strung through wooded areas. You can see ice covered power lines in this picture taken on our back three acres.

Close up on ice on the evergree branchesHere's a closeup of some evergreen branches. As well as being heavy, the ice makes them brittle.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Minor Ice Storm

Overview of minor ice storm taken out the front windowMarguerite's definition of a major ice storm: Freezing rain and slippery conditions with trees and large branches crashing down and/or causing a power outage of over two hours.

So far, this has been a minor ice storm for us. There are some small and medium branches down and the power is still on at our house. Surrounding areas have not been so fortunate.

It may stay a minor ice storm as long as wind doesn't blow and there is no more rain or snow until the ice melts.

Close up of ice on evergreen needlesRight now we have about a quarter inch of ice topped with about a quarter inch of snow.

The top picture was taken out the front window.

See the evergreen branches (lower right side of picture) dragging on the ground? I zoomed in on them with my new camera to better show what's making them drag.

Downy woodpecker eating suet We feed lots of suet in the winter, bringing the woodpeckers right to the window.

This male downy woodpecker is the first bird shot with the new camera.

We have many woodpeckers nesting on our property: Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied. We've spotted a Red-headed woodpecker and a Pileated woodpecker, but they were just passing through.

Sunny looking disgruntledSunny had her annual checkup and shots last week and passed her weigh-in with flying colors. She is much happier, healthier, peppier, and more agile with the extra weight gone.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sky and Shade of Purple

Monotone gray Saturday Sky for January 13, 2007 with brown landscapeWhen the sky is monotone dreary, I like to include some bleak landscape in the Saturday sky picture for more interest.

My personal rule: If it's winter and the roads are safe and the power is on, I will not complain about the weather. So, if this sounds like complaining, it isn't.

Last week we had unseasonably warm weather, but the temps have fallen back below freezing today in preparation to deliver the snow and sleet forecast for tomorrow (Sunday).

This quiz does an excellent job of taking some of my personality challenges and stating them as positive attributes. Also, I like the color grape a lot.

You Are Grape

You are bold and a true individual. You are very different and very okay with that.
People know you as a straight shooter. You're very honest, even when the truth hurts.
You are also very grounded and practical. No one is going to sneak anything by you.
People enjoy your fresh approach to life. And it's this honesty that makes you a very innovative person.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Blogiversary Questions - Children

Time to answer a few more blogiversary questions. Today is family day.

Nancy asked . . .
I know that all your family is not in the state. How many children do you have and what states are they in?
I have two children, Heather and John, and each child has a daughter, Kimberly (Heather) and Sydney (John and Anne).

Daughter HeatherDaughter Heather, the eldest child, lives in Michigan about 45 miles to the East.

Ever since she was a child, Heather's face has done strange things when it has a camera pointed at it.

She's a beautiful woman and occasionally I try to get a picture of her when she doesn't know it's happening. This is one of them.

Granddaughter Kimberly LouiseKimmy (Kimberly Louise), Heather's daughter, is 11 years old and in the 6th grade.

Let this be a warning to all grandparents - those babies grow up fast!

Kimmy has the same problem being photographed as her mother. There is no moment in real life when her pretty smile looks like the smile in this picture.

Son John and SydneySon John, the youngest child, lives in Idaho about 2,000 miles to the West of my house.

He is married to Anne, and their daughter Sydney will be 2 years old in April.

Sheri in GA who blogs at Scrappy Knitter asked . . .
My question is about your 2 granddaughters, Kimmy and Sydney. Do you knit for them? Sydney is a doll! Is Kimmy going with you to see Sydney this trip?
When Kimmy was little, I did knit for her. She outgrew things as quick as I could produce them.

As it stands now, the girls have so many cute things to wear that I'm uninspired.

I'm not sure when Kimmy will be going to Idaho with me again. It can only happen when school is out, though, so she didn't go with me on the last November trip you're asking about.

Shanidy who blogs at Purls and Curls asked . . .
I think that Sydney is just adorable...her face and her name. Was she named after someone, or just a name that mom liked?

Anne and Sydney in Anne's hatSydney was named after Sydney, Australia, the city where her parents decided to have a baby.

Her middle name is Anne, after her mother, Anne.

Jill who blogs at Just Another Creative Thing To Do asked . . .
What is something you do to make the distance less of an obstacle grandparenting-wise other than frequent trips? It is clear you are the doting grandma. ;o)
No one in the family, including me, is very talkative on the phone, so this is a problem.

So far I've managed four* trips a year to Idaho and will try to continue that schedule. But, that doesn't answer your question.

The most appreciated way we have of communicating is John's blog which has turned into the story of Sydney's life complete with pictures.

*I only flew to Idaho three times in 2006. I cheated and counted the visit the Idaho family made to Michigan as one of my trips.

Linda asked . . .
Do you have any "rules" for being a grandmother - or do you just "love them to pieces?"
The A#1 rule is that the parents are the parents. Do not give unsolicited advice and not to scoff at any of the modern ways of doing things.

Occasionally I find myself mentioning how things were done almost 40 years ago when I had my babies. When I'm alert, I can see their eyes glaze over and we change the subject.

I'm so thankful both my granddaughters have good parents. I have no advice for situations where that isn't true.

Kathy who blogs at Runs With Needles asked . . .
When do you plan on teaching Sydney to knit?
There are women in my family who don't knit and don't want to knit. Now that I think about it, I'm the only one who doesn't fit that profile.

When and if Sydney shows some interest in knitting, I'll be happy to help her get started. If it's not something she loves doing, I will understand and won't be disappointed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Monday Miscellany

Icy Sidewalk in the Back Yard

Icy sidewalk on an icy morningLast night (Sunday) it started to rain. The temperature was dropping and I was giving thanks that I was not going to be driving to work before sunrise on Monday morning.

Sure enough, this morning (Monday), the local road report was full of black ice (invisible ice on the asphalt) warnings and reports of slideoffs and collisions.

An also retired friend and I decided to postpone our monthly lunch together until next week, and I settled in, happy to stay home on such a day.

Celebrating Severance
Tomorrow is the three year anniversary of my severance date. It hardly seems possible it has been that long since I've worked in Corporate America.

I was well-suited for my job. Most of the time I enjoyed it. But I like it even better being retired.

Mom and her new microwaveNew Microwave

I've been wanting to post this picture of Mom and her new microwave ever since I took it on Christmas Eve. The subject hasn't fit into a post until now. How can it not fit when the title is "Miscellany"?

Mom and I picked out the model she wanted and put it on her Amazon Wishlist. Then, sister Doris bought it for her and UPS delivered it right to Mom's door on the third floor of her apartment building.

All I had to do was remove the old microwave and get the new one out of the box and onto the counter.

The hardest part was removing the old one. We guess it was about fifteen years old and microwaves were heavier fifteen years ago. They were also less powerful but way more expensive.

Mom was certainly past due for a microwave upgrade and she's very happy with it.

Pappy up closePappy, up close.

We don't know how old he is, but in the past year he's gotten gray on his cheeks and eyebrows. He still has plenty of spirit and energy, though. Especially when he spots a rodent.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Step Socks, Sky, and S3 IS

Step 18 socks with cuffs almost donePattern: Basic sock with wide ribbing on cuff and instep

Yarn: Austermann Step with Aloe Vera and Jojoba Oil

Color: 18 (grays and red)

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

These are my birthday socks knit with yarn from a Christmas gift. The perfect knit to fit in while I'm procrastinating finishing the second Peerie Brocade sleeve.

They're pretty basic. I did try a little purl pattern on the cuff to jazz them up a bit, but it doesn't show well in the almost black yarn and wasn't worth doing. Although it did give me a little break from the ribbing.

The yarn is soft and lovely. I'm looking forward to getting these socks on my feet. I'm not looking forward to getting another year older.

Saturday Sky for January 6, 2007The sky keeps trying to clear and the dark clouds keep moving in to prevent it.

This past week we've had unseasonably warm weather, a few days in the low 50s. Instead of enjoying it, Michiganders are concerned about the fruit trees thinking it's time to bloom when there are three months of winter ahead.

Next week the forecast is back to winter weather. Remind me not to complain. After all, it is January.

New S3 IS digital cameraThis was my Christmas present from Bob. I hadn't asked for a new, bigger, better camera and was completely surprised and excited to get it.

It's a tad more complicated than my little point and click model, but once I figure out how to use it I'm going to have great fun taking better pictures to share with you all.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Silly Coffee Quiz

You are a Black Coffee

At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

You can't expect too much accuracy with only five questions.

The black coffee coffee part is correct. And, I am addicted to coffee but I ration it out like a drug - one cup first thing in the morning, a second cup at lunch. Anymore than that and I'm totally over caffeinated. Not a pleasant feeling.

"Angsty" is not in the dictionary. Is it a slang word I don't know?

I looked up angst, just to see how insulting this quiz was being.
An acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world or about personal freedom
Maybe that explains what I could be if I didn't have my knitting to keep me calm.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year Babble with Sky

You may have noticed I didn't finish the alphabet on the ABC Along.

It was neglected without forethought. ABC Along was a great idea. I'm a little sorry I didn't finish, but not sorry enough to do anything about it.

I resolve not to sign up for any meme that requires self-discipline in 2007.

Saturday Sky from December 30I never did officially sign up for Saturday Sky, but I've enjoyed lugging the camera outdoors every Saturday, shooting upward, and coming in to review, edit, and post the results.

This sky was taken on Saturday. It's just the posting that's late.

I resolve to keep taking sky pictures on Saturday until it isn't fun anymore. And, if there are any great sky pictures on some other day of the week, I may take a few then, also.

A Few Other Resolutions
Last year I had a plan for knitting peace that required only two projects on the needles at one time. It didn't work. Two was not enough to allow for casting on spasms and projects that needed to be out of my sight for a while.

In 2007 I half-heartedly resolve to have no more than three unfinished knitting projects at one time.

Although I've converted to the new Blogger, I haven't played around with any of the enhancements yet.

I resolve that someday before spring, on a day that's not much good for anything else, I'm going to see what I can do to make this blog look different.

A resolution from 2006 that worked was to knit birthday socks for my loved ones who like my socks. So . . .

I resolve to knit birthday socks for my loved ones in 2007.

Another resolution from 2006 that worked well was to aim for five blog posts on Stitches of Violet a week. I'm repeating that one as well.

Here's wishing all of us a healthy, happy 2007.