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  • Don't forget to stop and smell the Roses.
  • Beauty on the Mississippi


    This morning, I remembered my camera. I’m so glad I did! Usually, when I pick up Catybug from the Church monthly lock-in across the river, I gasp in awe while I watch eagles soar in front of my car to perch in trees along River Drive. I know that the shots I get from inside a moving vehicle aren’t the greatest, but these are moments I really want to capture anyway.

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    They’re hard to miss, really. Big dark spots scattered throughout the trees lining the river. Some huddled together, some in flight looking over the ice for breakfast. All of them look perfectly at home and very healthy, a sign that their winter here has been good to them.

    pair of eagles sitting on ice Mississippi  river' title=
    The river was calm this morning, their reflections mirrored on the water were picturesque. Preening seemed to be the task for many of the eagles I saw this morning, they must have already eaten and took to the ice and trees to lounge and relax.

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    It seems to be only during the winter, and only when I’m driving alongside the Mississippi on River Drive that I really love living here. These birds always take my breath away, and I envy those homeowners who live along the river. I would never grow tired of seeing an eagle perched in a tree in my front yard, or of watching them soar low over the river hunting for food.

    I would also, probably, never get anything else done.

    When I’m Not Working,


    When I’m not working, I’m freezing, people. Holy cannoli, it was NINE lastnight. Nine. Nine degrees. Ugh. That is just stupid cold. Really. How do I manage to forget every year that this part of the country really stinks and WHY haven’t I moved to a warmer climate yet?!

    I am the type that, once frozen, does not thaw until Spring. My nose is cold. My fingers are numb from the second knuckle up. My eyes are dry and my toes are shivering. The only thing I want to do in the winter is curl up under my blankie and/or bake. Yes, bake. Brownies, cookies, cakes, whatever – just keep the dang oven on and don’t turn it off ’til March. Oh and this is SO not good for my *cough* girlish figure! Not good at all. Dang Betty Crocker and her Super Deluxe Moist Turtle Fudge Brownie goodness. I will smack her if I ever meet her.

    * * * * *
    I do have a question for you today, if you’ve made it this far (thank you, the check is in the mail.) – My mom is undergoing Open Heart Surgery next week. (I capitalize because that is a surgery that demands some respect, IMHO.) Now she truly needs this surgery and it will greatly improve her health, so I am relieved that it’s proceeding, finally.

    I would really like for you to share with me a story or tidbit about you or someone you know who has undergone Open Heart and tell me how they are doing now. Truly, I ask because my feeling is that medical technology is such that there is less to fear now than ever before – my concerns are with recovery and the mental processing of having the surgery. So please share your experience, and also – if you could keep my mom in your prayers I would be most grateful.

    Stay Warm!!

    Get in the Christmas Spirit!
    Now Playing : Frosty the Snowman

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    A Thousand Hummies


    Well, it certainly seems like there are a thousand hummingbirds in our yard now. Not that I’m complaining – of course, I only bought every available hummingbird attracting plant and feeder on the planet. My eyes shouldn’t pop right out of my head and hit the window then when I see 7 of them dueling with their sweet nectar sucking little swords out my front window.

    Talk about entertainment – my only problem now is that I don’t have the time to sit and watch them all day! They’re hard to count, since two to three of them group up and zoom past the window, up into the tree or over the house to the backyard feeder like miniature stealth bombers. Thankfully they haven’t exceeded the number of fingers on my hands yet, I don’t think I’m that fast with a calculator.

    This particular female ruby throated hummingbird is easy peasy to photograph. She’s not afraid of the spectators (and our noses) pressed up against the window to watch their shiny (and tiny) intricate little selves drink up and zip away.

    I did add another feeder to the front yard yesterday morning since they were trying to triple up on one feeder but didn’t seem to be getting along well enough for that. Now they’re doubling up on both feeders. It’s just craziness, I tell you. One of these days, I’ll have a photo of one of them sitting on my head or something. heh!

    :gets back to work:

    Grow my Garden



    This is what my front garden looked like last month. Right now, the sunflowers are taller than the tall shrub on the corner and blooming like crazy – and the mexican sunflowers to the right of that shrub fell over from the rainstorms so I cut them down and replaced them with burgundy mums.

    I’ve got a lot of stuff going on here. Next year, it’s going to be different.

    If you’re interested, I’m all up for creating a garden based on your suggestions. I’m in Zone 5, I love perennials, don’t mind low all-season blooming annuals – and I have a lot of space to work with. I will probably relocate many of these things this coming fall and spring – so let me tell you what I need and you can toss your suggestions or faves my way. I’ll start picking up bulbs and plants soon to get them in before winter.

    The left side back fence is 36 inches tall. I don’t mind going VERY tall over there because it provides a natural privacy. The beds are 12 inches off the ground. That left side is probably 12 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The front, also 3 feet deep, is about 18 feet wide – but that shrub stays and hogs up about 4 feet of space. There’s about 2-3 feet on the left side of the shrub in part shade.

    The things that are staying are the gayfeather liatris (top right against the house) and asiatic lilies in the left side. I need suggestions for medium (1-1/2 – 2 feet) & low plants for the middle and front of each bed. Anyone have any favorites, I’d love to grow some new varieties next year!

    Quick like a Hummy


    Before I start mixing up my palette for the day, I wanted to highlight these latest three photos. The first two I took just this morning out my front window – she finally cooperated enough to allow me to photograph her while she fed. The weather must be better for Hummingbirds, they seem to be around much more right now. When it was hot and not so humid, they didn’t stop by until dusk. Now they’re flitting about all day.

    The third photo is a House Wren, and I’ve NEVER seen one of these before. If you’re looking to attract more species to your yard, the biggest difference for us this year is that we took branches that fell through the winter and ice storms and chose a corner of the yard to create a brush pile. These critters LOVE that spot. I was out checking the tomatoes when I heard three of these little guys chipping away and scurrying around within that brush pile. Very cool.

    Ok, enough blab – more work! Have a great day.

    A Pair of Waxwings



    The highlight of my day today? Seeing birds I’ve never seen before, and knowing exactly what they were when I zoomed in with my camera. Now these shots are horrible, but I consider I was excited, they are sorta on the small side and they were perched high in the poplar tree out back. These are a loving pair of Cedar Waxwings – both male and female flirted together at the top of this tree while I stood watching, amazed that we even have them around here.

    Two separate photos, merged together and tweaked for sharpness, shadows and color. Really – you have to see them in person to appreciate how sleek they appear. Makes me want to go plant a mulberry bush right next to the Grand Central Feeding Station!

    Friday Quickie


    Just a few things for you and I’m going to dig in and try to get as much accomplished today as possible:

    1. I need a couple of volunteers for what I’ll call beta testing, it requires honesty – tact is optional.
    2. We’ve had a very cool bird here again, and now I’m all worried about my bunnies – this gal (I think she’s a she) has been perched on this poplar tree right behind my house. Gorgeous, indeed – hopefully she keeps her talons to the tray feeder, rodents – and the occasional locust.
    3. My family-less baby bunny is loving his (or her) little treats. I had to pick up more carrots so I opted for the big whole carrots (cheep cheep) for keeping my grandbunnies spoiled, this little dude looked hilarious this morning “I have a big carrot, and a little mouth! I’m just not sure how well this plan was thought through!” (think Meet the Robinsons)
    4. I’m going to be attending THE cocktail party Saturday night. You know. That huge girly blogging conference in Chicago? Yes, I’m going to go meet some very cool people – will you be among them? Let me know if you’re going!
    5. Add-on: Wicked cool – a hummingbird moth that has eluded me and my camera for weeks finally posed for me! These are cool!

    That, my friends, is all I got. I know – but next week promises to be more creatively entertaining, since I couldn’t put finishing touches on any of my projects this week. Once I wrap up these next few, I’ll be painting a few custom portraits – so I’m gearing up to be in the studio with my brushes again very soon!

    A Bunny Birthday


    As many of you know, we rescued some baby bunnies this past spring – one of them had a weed-whacking injury so we thought it best to hold them for a week until that one could heal. They did well, we didn’t handle them – left them in the garage with food, hay, water, and shelter – and then released them into our brush pile the following weekend.

    Two of them have hung out with us, not too domesticated but also not very afraid, either. The one with the injury was very sociable, she let me get pretty close, and she always made herself comfortable. You could tell she didn’t feel threatened around us. That really made me feel good, considering the expense and extent we’ve gone to to have some security on our property.

    A couple of weeks ago, I noticed their absence. I saw them a couple of times across the street and knew they would be safe there, so I wasn’t too concerned. A few days ago, I spotted a new baby bunny. This one is just a few weeks old, and he’s alone. He’s doing well in our garden, eating up a lot of my flowers (which I’m getting used to, now) and he has a cousin. A lighter shade of brown – a month or two older, and very skittish. I’m happy to have bunnies around again, of course! (Just call me Snow White.)

    Well. Today we were doing some yard work and when we finished up, we sat on the patio and were just relaxing. I noticed Zorro-girl bolt through the yard and over to the flowerbed, where I thought I saw her starting to munch on my chrysanthemum. I went over to her, and saw her buried beneath it:

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    I asked her not to eat my plants, but she completely ignored me. My plant was shaking from her movement and I thought she must be ripping off a big piece. I also thought “hm. She’s completely ignoring me. I wonder if she’d mind if I just pet her a little bit?”

    So I did.

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    Wow, she’s soft. I pet her a few times, and she didn’t care. I asked her if she was ok. She looked at me funny.

    Then I thought, “man, she doesn’t even care that I’m petting her. This is so cool. I wonder if she’d mind if I picked her up?” So I moved my camera to the side and picked her up. She let me hold her, and I felt a bump. Woah, I said to her “honey are you pregnant?!” and she jumped out of my arms. She promptly went over to the other side of that little log and you know what she did?

    She popped out four baby bunnies. That’s what she did. And I got to watch. And I coulda cried.

    One of them kept rolling down the hill, so she let me put him back underneath her. He kept rolling, so I told her I’d help her move them back under the plant, and I did, and she went right in after them and continued caring for them. I sat and watched her nurse her new babies, and thought – this is incredible. What an amazing thing to get to witness – this bunny who was injured that we rescued and hoped would survive well in the wild when we released her is now a momma of four, right in the same backyard she grew up in.

    Awwwww. :sniffles: Does this make me a grandbunny?

    Gardening for Food!


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    Fun exciting stuff happening around here, folks! We have succeeded in our very first ever attempt at growing food in our yard! YAHOO!

    Hubby decided that this would be a good year to try growing some tomatoes. Why? Because he’s the only one who likes them, that’s why. I don’t mind them – chopped up in my food, but I’m not one who slices up a tomato and eats it fresh off the vine. But I’m learning. We’re going to have so many of them, I have to learn – and fast!

    Yesterday he did the honors and picked the very first ripe roma off the vine. It’s perfect, really – and of course I had to take a photo of the little beauty for posterity. Then Chickeymonkey got the honors of going for the second one.

    I have to tell you – every single day, this girl has gone out and checked all of the plants that have food on them to see if anything is ready – every single day for over a month. She’s very excited about having food she can just go outside and pick and eat. She’s picked a measly little strawberry or two, they’re quite pitiful actually so I can’t count those as real food, since they’re more the size of a half eaten raspberry. She likes checking the Bing Cherry tree (in its first year here), even though she really doesn’t like cherries.

    Me, I’m getting inspired. I’m getting motivated to try my :growit: thumb on vegetables again, even though my past attempts were more than failures. Hubby and I are talking about the size, the location, marking the area to see if it gets the right amount of sun, and really digging down into our rich black dirt and giving it 100% next year. We’re thinking pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers (which I love raw.) and I don’t know what else. What else? Seedless watermelon and cantelope would be good, too.

    Of course I’m not sure how all of this is going to fit in with the inground pool I keep dreaming about. Hrmpf.

    This is why I love the warmer months over the colder – it’s easier to eat fresh and eat well, it’s healthier and more fun to throw some teriyaki marinated chicken on the grill, sit on the patio and have dinner outside. It’s even yummier to throw some fresh berries on a couple of scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt after taking a mile and a half walk around the neighborhood with your kids, stopping to chat or just say hi to your neighbors. Yep, I’m a warm weather kind of gal.

    If one of you has a vegetable garden, I’d love to know what you’re growing and how well you’re doing with it. Any tips would be most appreciated!

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