Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sky and Disappointed Woodpecker

Blue sky and oak tree in budBlue sky, gorgeous day, and not too warm - 63 F/17 C at 2 pm. The sun is slowly chasing off the damp chill from the last couple of days.

Only the small trees and shrubs are showing green in my corner of SW Michigan. The larger trees have buds about ready to pop, but they're being slow about it. Maybe they're worried there is going to be more snow.

The tree top in the picture is an old, tall oak in the hedgerow.

Certainly by next Saturday we should have green leaves in my sky picture.

Downy woodpecker thinking about trying to eat brick "This brick is a little hard on the beak."

I have friends with cedar homes who have to continually repair the holes in their siding created by woodpeckers. Fortunately, I learned from their plight and bought a brick house when we moved to the country.

I love all our woodpeckers. It would break my heart to have to try and chase them off.

And, if my friends are any indication, it isn't really possible to discourage a woodpecker once it decides a house is tasty.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday's Feast for April 27

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Appetizer - How fast can you type?

Fast enough so I never find myself wishing I could type faster.

Soup - What is your favorite online game?

I don't play any online games, but I do the Jigzone puzzle every morning using the 80 piece classic cut.

Salad - On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), how intelligent do you think you are?

Oh my, this is a loaded question. For those of us with overly logical thought patterns, the first thing we want is a definition of intelligence as intended in this question.

I'll try to get over it and give a simple answer.

For most of my life I've had the pleasure of working with or going to school with some of the most intelligent people in the world. And then there are my overachieving siblings to consider.

I give myself a 7.5.

Main Course - Name three of your best teachers from your school years.

Mrs. Moore, third grade, Vicksburg Elementary School. She really cared about the kids in her class.

Mrs. Foster, ninth grade home economics. She warned us about boys, but we were young and thought she was nuts.

Ruth Ann Erskine 1963 Marshall High School yearbook pictureMy All Time Favorite Teacher: Ruth Ann Erskine, advanced math, Marshall High School.

She taught the beauty of mathematics and she taught me how to think.

Dessert - What are your plans for this upcoming weekend?

Depends on the weather.

If the rain lets up, there will be yard work. Possibly with a new tractor. I will try to walk the narrow line between getting sore and getting too sore.

If it stays cold and wet, I will be knitting and catching up on Bloglines.

Heather's socks are down to the toes, so before the weekend is over I'll be casting on a new pair. Yarn and pattern yet to be determined.

On Sunday there will be church, brunch, and the Sunday paper to read.

Sometimes life is more interesting than this, but I'm happy for quiet weekends at home, too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Five Things

I've hardly had time to knit all week and a topic for blogging escapes me, so here are the first five printable random thoughts that cross my mind while I sit here wondering what to write:

  1. At the end of March, SW Michigan was about two weeks ahead of schedule with spring buds and blooms. Then winter returned for over a week. Now the trees are about a week behind in leafing out. I'm ready for GREEN.

  2. GREEN means time to mow the lawn. We have a sixteen year old John Deere lawn tractor that steers so hard I don't like to drive it, so I've been shopping. Nothing decided yet, but there's a good chance of a new bright green and yellow (Deere colors) in my future.

  3. We've been eating organic brown eggs from uncaged chickens lately. They're 25% less saturated fat than chicken factory eggs and are much tastier. Good flavor even without salt. Sometimes there's even a double yolk. Yes, they cost a little more, but they're still cheap food and we've decided they're worth the price.

  4. Congratulations to Toyota on becoming number one in vehicle sales. Many Midwesterners considered it almost an act of treason to not "Buy American" back in 1981 when I bought my first Toyota. (I still drive Toyota.) Did those people really do General Motors a favor by driving inferior American cars instead of making GM face its problems decades ago?

  5. I just joined a new Yahoo Group, Knitting in Japan. Since my approval just arrived, I can't comment yet. I'm off to check it out now.
Feel free to disagree with anything I've said. Just be kind.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sky and Robin Nest

Blue Saturday sky for April 21The sky is blue and sunny today. SW Michigan is expecting a high temp in the 70s F/20s C and loving the thought of it.

I'd love it more if I didn't have so much outdoor work to do, but that's the price of having a five acre yard. Even though most of it is "natural", there are still areas around the house where we try to keep nature under control and nature fights back.

By next week all the trees, including these oaks, should have leaves.

Robin sitting on her new nest in leafless treeOne advantage to not having leaves on the trees yet, is being able to see the early nests being built.

This robin worked on this nest all day. No eggs yet. She's just trying it out to see how it fits.

Robin in treeFor those who don't have robins (anybody?), they're a medium size bird. The male and female look alike.

In Michigan, they're common and a much anticipated and talked about sign of spring, arriving around the middle of March.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday's Feast for April 20

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Appetizer - What is your favorite kind of bread?

Asiago bread from McKenzies Bakery in Kalamazoo covered in real butter. I cannot have this bread in the house and maintain my weight, so I don't buy it. I miss it terribly.

Soup - When was the last time you bought a new pillow?

Over a decade ago.

My pillows are still OK, but Bob's pillows are squished disasters. If I were to buy him new pillows, he'd complain. It took a long time to get them shaped the way he likes them.

Salad - Approximately how many hours per week do you spend surfing the ‘net?

Wanting to be precise, I looked up the definition of "surfing the net" on Google:

Cruising the Net, pointing and clicking and browsing between the different links, sometimes at random.
By that definition, I have to count the time spent reading blogs in Bloglines, but I don't have to count the time I spend reading email, blogging, and doing off line activities.

The answer depends on the season, the weather, my mood, and my dialup connection. I'm guessing an average of about 14 hours a week.

Main Course - What’s the highest you remember your temperature being?

102 when I had measles as a child.

This question reminds me of one of my scariest childhood experiences.

Several of my siblings, my mother and I all had chickenpox at the same time. In the middle of the night mom came into my bedroom to check on me. Her face was covered with Calamine Lotion and she had on a long, flowing nightgown. I thought she was a ghost.

Dessert - Fill in the blanks: When I ____________, I _____________.

Male Bluebird in a treeWhen I go for a dog walk, I often take my camera.

This male bluebird was in a tree by one of the bluebird houses. Nest building hasn't started yet, but they've got their boxes staked out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Three Dog Sunny Day

Earlier this week we had some blue sky. The dogs were happy to be outside in the sunshine and I snapped some pictures.

Gloy laying in the spring sunGlory, a 62 pound lab mix and Queen of Violet Acres, turns eleven years old this year.

She ran out into the back three acres and then decided a nice sun bath was in order.

Sunny standing in the spring sun with her tail blowing in the windSunshine (Sunny), a sixteen pound second generation (at least) designer dog, is Princess of Violet Acres.

Most days Glory the Queen is content to let the Princess reign. As you can see by the look on Sunny's face, she takes her royal responsibility very serious.

Pappy standing in the spring sun with his tail blowing in the windPappy, a fourteen pound Papillon, is Prince of Violet Acres.

He tries to stay out of the way of the Princess because he has important work to do catching rodents.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sky and Sandhill Cranes

Gray Saturday sky for April 14, 2007The picture about says it all. Yuk.

It feels cold outside. Not like spring.

The snow is almost all melted, but there's snow in the forecast for tomorrow. We patiently wait for spring to return.

Three sandhill cranes in the neighbor's horse pastureOur next door neighbor has been know to occasionally acquire unknown species of chickens that make strange noises.

Yesterday when we heard loud bird noises from the neighbor's horse pasture, we assumed it was something domestic. They looked too big to be chickens, so I ran in to get my camera with the zoom lens to check them out.

Sandhill Cranes! They have an unusual windpipe allowing them to be heard up to a mile away.

Male and female sandhill craneIn the past we've unsuccessfully tried to see cranes in the wild. What a treat to have them land next door for a few minutes.

More info on Sandhill Cranes including a sound recording of their call is here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Daffodils and Sydney

Daffodils on April 2April 2, a week before normal, the daffodils were blooming on an old compost pile on the back three acres.

These are surprise, unplanned daffodils. A few bulbs mixed in with the garden waste got dumped on the compose heap. The bulbs were very happy in their new home - bloomed, and multiplied like crazy.

No daffodils I ever planted on purpose have thrived like these. Compost is magic.

Daffodils in the snow on April 12As I was leaving for Idaho the morning of April 4 it was cold, dark, and lightly snowing. For a brief moment, I regretted that I was going to miss taking pictures of daffodils in the snow.

When I arrived back in Kalamazoo the evening of April 11 (20 hours after my original itinerary. You don’t want to know the details and I’m not sure I can remember all the cancelled flights and late flights and dashes through airports) it was raining/sleeting/snowing.

This picture of the same daffodils was taken yesterday, April 12, after eight days of freezing temperatures and snow. Daffodils are extremely hardy flowers.

This afternoon it's 43 F/6 C and thawing. There is no snow in the five day forecast for the first time in over a week. Maybe spring will come for real this time.

Sydney with her birthday balloonsNow for some happy pictures.

Granddaughter Sydney in Idaho received 2 year birthday balloons from Great-grandma in Kalamazoo. They were a big hit.

Sydney with many hair clipsSydney and I had great fun with hair clips one morning.

She would hand me a clip to put in her hair and I, of course, would put it in her hair. She then ran to the mirror, admired it, ran back to the hairclip bag and found the next one.

The result is - ah - well you can see it. There are no clips on the back of her head because she can't see the back of her head in the mirror. Grandma knows how to make a little girl happy.

For those of you who want to see and read more about Sydney, her balloons, her birthday party, and her Easter, son John has many pictures on his latest blog post here.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Beautiful Easter Day in Idaho

Beautiful warm Easter Sunday in IdahoFor all those "friends" back in Michigan who laughed at my plan to spend spring break in Northern Idaho, here's a snowless picture of our early morning egg hunt.

Notice there is no snow on the ground. Notice Sydney is not wearing a jacket.

Happy shoveling Michiganders!

(Sympathy to DH Bob who did not make fun of my spring break plans and is back in Michigan with eight inches of Lake Effect snow and three dogs to walk.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

Idaho from the airI'm probably the only person in SW Michigan leaving to spend spring break in Northern Idaho.

Wednesday morning, April 4, I'm headed to the airport before the sun comes up to spend a week with granddaughter Sydney and her parents.

I'm taking a vacation from blogging and knitting while I'm gone. Lord willing, blogging will resume toward the end of next week.

Happy Easter to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!