Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Talking Turkey

Wild turkeys eating dropped sunflower seedsAfter declaring the roads too icy to drive to church Sunday morning, I was just starting to relax when Bob called out from the kitchen, "Bring the camera!"

Between twenty and thirty wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) were in the yard. The camera and I had a great time.

The little birds, chickadees and tufted titmice, take sunflowers seeds from the feeders into this nearby evergreen to crack them and eat them. The turkeys feasted on dropped seeds.

With their normal food (acorns, seeds) buried under a foot of frozen slush (read about it here), we were delighted to give them a Sunday breakfast.

Tom turkey looking handsome showing pretty feathersThe male gobblers are four feet from head to tip of tail feathers. A very impressive bird.

The females are a foot shorter, but still have plenty of meat.

See the "beard" growing out of his center chest? That's the easy way to tell this is a male. The females have a shorter beard.

Both genders are pretty birds in an ugly sort of way with their metallic iridescent feathers changing color with the angle and the light.

Turkey staring into the cameraThis guy must have noticed the lady in the window aiming something at him.

No way to explain it was only a camera and he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted.

We kept the dogs in the house until the last turkey was out of the yard and out of sight in the woods across the street.

Turkey dancing across the top of the snowWild turkeys can fly, but prefer to run when alarmed.

A few of them had a problem getting out of the yard. They would approach the driveway at a right angle and run into the open gate. Instead of walking a few feet around the gate, they assumed it was an endless fence, and retreated back to the corner of the yard where they started. They repeated this over and over again, giving us the impression that Wild Turkeys are not the smartest of birds.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Crunchy Winter Walk

We've had approximately 40 inches of February snow in SW Michigan. Because it came gradually, the snow on the ground had time to compact as new snow was added.

We've had some days where temps got above freezing with the melting snow freezing into ice when the temperature dropped at night.

Yesterday we had some freezing rain, making a slippery layer of ice on top of everything.

Pappy standing on top of the snowToday it's lightly snowing. There's about a half inch of new snow on the ice layer, making it less slippery.

The complete layer of snow, which is now mostly frozen slush, is about a foot deep. Depth varies depending on how the snow drifted while it was still light enough to be blown around.

Pappy and Glory finally get to walk out in the fieldFor the first time in several weeks, I walked to the back of the property with Glory and Pappy.

Glory, the big dog, broke through the top crust.

Pappy, the 14 pound dog, quickly learned that if he stayed out of Glory's tracks and my tracks, he was able to walk on top of all the accumulated snow except what fell today.

red Bretton socks with Opal rose hipsSince I posted the first picture when these socks were almost done, it's a bit redundant to post a finished picture. But I like to be consistent, so a finished picture it is.

All sock details are here.

Worsted weight socks have been my comfort this winter. I finished these Saturday evening and immediately put them on my feet.

The freezing "winter mix" arrived before I went to bed Saturday, and I enjoyed waking up in my bright socks to inspect the damage. Thankfully there was not enough ice to bring down tree limbs and take out power lines, but there was enough ice so I didn't think it wise to walk around outside or drive to church.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Saturday Sky and a Gold Finch

Dark Saturday sky before the predicted winter mix hitsThis week I waited until later in the day to take the Saturday Sky picture to see if the sky would lighten up a bit. You can see how well that plan worked.

This picture was taken about 1 pm as SW Michiganders wait for the next weather installment. All the weather forecasters are predicting a "winter mix" (freezing rain, sleet, snow) to start about 1 am. The National Weather Service says not more than a half inch of ice. Accuweather says not more than an inch of ice.

It's easy to mispredict ice. Just a degree or two in temperature can make a big difference in how it all works out.

I predict no ice because we've had our quota for this winter and do not need anymore.

Female goldfinch in winter colors eating seed on the windowsillThe goldfinches are small birds, smaller than a sparrow. They turn olive green in the winter and return to gold in the spring.

Some milder climate blogs are starting to show pictures of crocus and daffodils in bloom. We're still about six weeks away from that, but I do detect a little yellow on this female goldfinch.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday's Feast for February 23

It's Friday and time for the Feast.

Appetizer - Where on your body do you have a scar, and what caused it?

Chickenpox scarThere is a chickenpox scar on the bridge of my nose that looks like a bottomless hole.

When granddaughter Kimmy was younger, she would question me about the possibility of it going right to my brain.

The rest of the scars that I have are not anything you want to hear about.

Soup - What is something that has happened to you that you would consider a miracle?

My career in Information Technology.

When I was first hired to be a computer programmer, I didn't know what a computer was. I had a degree in Microbiology/Chemistry and was amazed the first day of work when I got shown to a desk instead of a lab bench.

The miracle was that I had a talent for the work and ended up having a very successful twenty-three year computer career.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Salad - Name a television personality who really gets on your nerves.

Lucy in I Love Lucy.

Main Course - What was a funny word you said as a child (such as "pasketti" for "spaghetti")?

Little Didi sixy years agoNone that I've ever been told about.

I'm guessing funny words weren't funny in my family and mispronounced words got corrected ASAP.

Even in this toddler glamor shot, they have me reading a book.

Dessert - Fill in the blank: I have always thought ______ was ______.

I have always thought the theory of evolution was the modern day equivalent of the earth is flat theory.

Yes, species evolve. But they don't evolve into different genera.

Your opinion may differ. This is a friendly blog. Let's not discuss.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Sky and Chickadees

Saturday sky in the middle of a snow dump on February 17, 2007The sky is solid with snow clouds. The hazy look of the picture is how the camera recorded the snow dumping down out of the Saturday sky.

The good news - it's warmer. 22 F/-6 C at noon.

The bad news - the snowplow decided to take our dirt road down to the surface yesterday and we have a heavy, ugly, icy pile of winter at the end of the driveway.

The resolution - shoveling.

How about some Chickadee pictures to cheer me up?

Chickadee and Nuthatch at the sunflower feederThe Black-capped Chickadees (Parus atricapillus) are cute, tiny little birds about five inches long from head to tail tip.

The Chickadee is the top bird. That's a White-breasted Nuthatch on the bottom.

At doggy school when this happens, we say, "No sniff!" But I don't think birds do that. The camera just caught them in an interesting position.

Chickadee sitting in an evergreenThe Chickadees sit in the nearby trees, pop into the feeder, grab a sunflower seed, and take it back to the tree to crack it and eat it.

They're friendly, demanding little birds, always eager to let us know when they're out of seed.

Chickadee taking seed from the outdoor window ledgeBob likes to put seed out on the brick sills. Most of the little birds, including the Chickadees, will fly in to grab one.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday's Feast for February 16

It's Friday and time for the Feast.

Appetizer - What sound, other than the normal ringing, would you like your telephone to make?

Silence is fine. Leave me a message. Or, better, yet, send me an email.

Soup - Describe your usual disposition in meteorological terms (partly cloudy, sunny, stormy, etc.).

Sky from a mild and partially cloudy day last August
Clear and mild with occasional cloud cover.

Salad - What specific subject do you feel you know better than any other subjects?

COBOL programming, an obsolete skill now that Y2K is past.

Main Course - Imagine you were given the ability to remember everything you read for one entire day. Which books/magazines/newspapers would you choose to read?

Pile of books representing my current interestsMy favorite books of the Bible: Genesis, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Joel, Jonah, Matthew, John, Philippians, Revelation.

Japanese knitting terms. Since this is magic, I'm assuming I will be able to read Japanese.

Birds of North America.

HTML for the World Wide Web.

Dessert - If a popular candy maker contacted you to create their next confection, what would it be like and what would you name it?

Granny's Goopy Galoption: Caramel, milk chocolate, and a few pecans. Something like turtles, but much stickier.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sunny Does Snow

It's snowing again. The wind is blowing and it's very cold.

The two little dogs aren't able to get through the snow on the back three acres where we usually walk. A few days ago Bob drove the jeep over the bridge and made some tire tracks for them to use.

This is what happened when 16 pound Sunny, the winter weather wimp dog, went out there with me.

Sunny at the end of the tire tracksThese tracks are nice, but they end here. What am I supposed to do now?

I'm not going out in that deep snow. In fact, my feet are cold and I don't want to be out here at all.

Sunny starting her run toward the houseThe rest of you can stay out here if like, but I'm going home.

Sunny from the rear still running toward the houseAlmost to the creek. Then over the bridge, across the back yard, up the stairs, and into the house.

Hope I get there before my feet freeze.

Sunny taking a napThat was exhausting.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday Sky and Snow

Saturday sky full of snow clouds on February 10Mostly cloudy today with moments of blue sky peeking through, but not often and not in this picture.

For the past few days the temperatures have been reaching a balmy 20 F/-7 C. The road salt is working now and the roads are passable.

For now we can bundle up warm, drive on the main roads without skidding, and enjoy wearing our woolies. The country roads where I live are covered with packed snow and require some caution.

Male cardinal sitting by a pile of snowFor most of the day it's been gently snowing.

Now that it's warmer, we're getting the pretty, fluffy flakes again.

Very little accumulation, just enough to freshen up the top layer.

Glory peeking into a thicketGlory is sure there are some rabbits taking shelter in this thicket.

It's possible the worst days of winter are over. But not probable. A Michigander is asking for disappointment when having thoughts of spring in early February.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday's Feast for February 9

Friday's Feast is a weekly meme I've noticed on Kathy's blog, Runs With Needles. The questions usually look like fun, so I'm giving it a try.

Appetizer - Have you been sick yet this winter? If so, what did you come down with?

I think it was the Norovirus, as several days after the attack I read about a Kalamazoo outbreak in the paper.

It hit suddenly as I was driving Sunny to doggy school. I started out feeling fine and by the time I got to the parking lot, I knew trouble was quickly approaching.

Poor Sunny spent the first hour of her class locked in the doggy school bathroom with me. Then we went home.

Soup - What colors dominate your closet?

Casual shirt section of my closetWarm reds, all shades of blue, all shades of purple/violet.

Salad - How would you describe your personal “comfort zone”?

I'm an introvert. Although capable of functioning socially, even giving presentations and teaching classes, my favorite comfort zone is home or out with one or two people I love.

More than three people at a time is exhausting, even if I do love them.

Main Course - On which reality show would you really like to be a contestant?

Introverts don't do reality shows for fun. For money, maybe, but not for fun.

Sunny on the couch looking like queen of the worldAt doggy school we had a running joke about trading some of our strong willed pets for a week and filming the results for a canine reality show.

Sweet little Pappy was never mentioned. Sunny's name came up several times.

I love her and wouldn't trade her for any other dog. Not even to get on a reality show.

Dessert - Which holiday would you consider to be your favorite?

Groundhog day. (See Salad.)

What could be nicer in the middle of a Michigan winter than a holiday celebrating the fact that eventually it will be spring?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Deep Winter Comment Questions

I've spent some time organizing the remaining blogiversary questions and will be answering them soon.

Meanwhile, here are some questions that have recently appeared in the comments:

Kerin who blogs at The Lion's Paw asked . . .
I just noticed that all three of your featured items are the same color. Are you having a "blue" winter?

Driveway under snow. Actually, snow everywhere.If we're talking yarn, it could be called a "blue winter". It wasn't planned. It just happened.

If we're talking weather, right now it's a "white winter".

A friend who had to go to work this morning said the roads are still slick. With the low temperatures we've been having, the road salt doesn't work.

Those of us who don't have to get out and go somewhere are well advised to stay home. It gives the drivers who have to be on the road less vehicles to slide into.

Bea who blogs at Strikkepinner og andre pinner asked . . .
Which sleeve will are you going to finish first?
The right sleeve of Frode was done first. Then the left. Frode is done! Except for the washing and blocking. Pictures soon.

Debi who blogs at Fluffy Knitter Deb asked . . .
Not being meal worm savvy, so you put all 500 out at once or bit by bit?
I'm not meal worm savvy either, so I'm playing it by ear. I put out about 50. They immediately froze solid.

Will the birds eat frozen meal worms? Danged if I know. I forgot to ask that important question.

Not that it matters. I haven't seen a bluebird since I bought the meal worms over a week ago. When the weather turns frigid and/or blizzardy, bluebirds go into the deep woods for protection. I worry about them daily. Silly birds should have gone south.

Maureen who blogs at Batty for Yarn asked . . .
Could you head some of that lake effect snow (LES) our way? It's not asking too much is it?
I'm working on this.

Jill who blogs at Just Another Creative Thing To Do asked . . .
Do you have squirrels or white tail deer that will come and share in the birdseed?

Fox squirrel in evergreen treeThere are many deer around, but they don't come to the bird feeders. They love the paths that DH mows in the back three acres and I see their footprints daily. Sometimes we surprise them on our first morning walk and it's a beautiful sight to see them run for the woods with their white tails bobbing.

We have fox squirrels (pictured) and the smaller, very cute but destructive hyper red squirrels that come to the feeders all the time.

With all our oak trees, the squirrels have plenty of acorns to eat. We try to discourage them from eating the bird seed, but it's futile.

Notice how plump and healthy this squirrel looks? We don't have any squirrels going hungry.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Sky is Missing

Taken out the east window during a blizzard whiteoutNo, this is not a bad picture.

This is the view out our east window during a whiteout this afternoon.

If you squint hard, you can see vague outlines of the trees.

I always imagine the National Weather Service still using antique teletype machines for their all caps weather warnings:

1210 PM EST SAT FEB 3 2007



And, for those who are completely clueless, the National Weather Service reminds them, urgently in all caps, to wear their hat and gloves:

Saturday sky for February 3, 2007, before the blizzardThis is my Saturday Sky picture taken at 10:30 am this morning on a very abbreviated dog walk.

16 pound Sunny decided to stay indoors and use a Training Pad.

14 pound Pappy tried to take a walk, but after about 30 yards his feet were frozen and he didn't want them on the ground anymore.

Glory made it just across the bridge into the field. By the time I snapped this picture, she was racing me back to the house. She won.

Glory lounging on a rug looking glumGlory has lived through eleven winters and she knows eventually they go away.

Meanwhile, she is happy to stay indoors except for the few necessary minutes a day she needs to be outdoors.

Question: How many other Blogger users have learned to save their posts to draft often while writing them? As extra insurance I highlight and copy my post text before hitting save.

It's growing pains and I forgive them their outages - for now.

I can't forgive Blogger their comments, though. Since the new Blogger, it's been frustrating trying to comment on other blogs that use Blogger comments. Whoever designed the transition should be quickly promoted into management before they're assigned to design something else.

I've never been sorry I stuck with Haloscan comments.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Don't Call Me Red-headed

Red bellied woodpecker at suet feederWhen the Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) comes to the suet feeder, the other birds leave in respect. The banging is heard all through the house as the Red-bellied pecks at the frozen suet.

About 10 inches long, the Red-bellied is the largest woodpecker that nests in our trees.

According to the Audubon Society's annual bird census figures, the Red-bellies are increasing in SW Michigan. We've happily noted the increase in our neighborhood.

Red headed woodpeckerThis picture (swiped, not taken by me) is a Red-headed woodpecker ((Melanerpes erythrocephalus).

Frequently casual bird observers will call the Red-bellied woodpecker a Red-headed woodpecker because the Red-bellied has a partially red head. Since Red-headed woodpeckers are deep woods birds and rarely seen in our yard, I get jealous when I hear someone has spotted one. So, if you spot a Red-bellied please get the name right and spare me the sin of envy.

Red belly on the red bellied woodpeckerMr. Redbelly fully seconds the motion that you not call him a Red-headed woodpecker.

He knew I was taking pictures and twisted around to flaunt his red belly at the camera so you can see how he earned his name.

Female red-bellied woodpecker at suet feederThis is Mrs. Redbelly.

She's a little shorter than the male and has a gray cap on the top of her head in place of his continuous red.