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  • Behold the turtle.
    He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.
  • Squirrels are Misunderstood

    April
    30
    2007

    This morning I had the opportunity to meet this fabulous young lady for a photo shoot back behind the poplar tree. She wanted me to tell you that squirrels are really not all that bad. They have a soft, sensitive side – just like you and me. So in an effort to portray their inner “enjoying nature and foraging for food and shelter like the rest of us” beauty, she asked me to share with you these wonderful shots from her own personal portrait session.

    I really have to applaud her for these shots. They’re personal and revealing, they tell a story about how sensitive and playful a squirrels’ personality can be. I’d be surprised if your heart doesn’t just melt. You’ll never see a squirrel the same way again. Maybe.

    Keep reading »

    Weekend Warrior Birdwatching Mom

    April
    29
    2007

    (not necessarily in that order.)

    birdwatching tanager couple mating' class=
    Friday night was sleepover night at my house – I had four 11-12 year olds taking up every computer in the house (ok yeah, we have four, I’ll get into that another time) – playing webkinz.

    First I’ll get sidetracked and tell you how proud I am of my own 11 year old. It all started a few weeks ago when she cleaned the house – without prompting or prodding or even poking with a stick. That in itself made me ask the most obvious question, “what do you want?”. Of course she wanted something. A new webkinz. She spent an hour that day cleaning, and I told her that was great -but I’ll only pay her $4 an hour, and they cost $12. She needed to give me two more hours of hard labor, and did she ever. She cleaned the house again, and after an hour she didn’t know what to do. I told her that if she could get on the airclimber and do it for an hour, I’d count that as chore time. Honestly? I didn’t think she could do it. Heck, I can’t even make it through the 20 minute workout (yet).

    She did it.

    Off to the nearest Hallmark we went, where she immediately picked the webkinz she wanted, a frog. Chickeymonkey present, I couldn’t get out of the store without two – you know how that goes. I wrote the check, our intuitive cashier put them in separate bags, and we were all set.

    On the way out of the store, Catybug exclaimed “I can’t wait to give this to H tomorrow at school!”.

    Wait. Hold up. Excuse me? What just came out of my childs mouth? “You did all that work so that you could get this for your friend?” She said “yes, she doesn’t have one, and they can’t afford one, and I really want her to be able to play too.”

    Wow. ::insert choked up teary eyed mommy moment here::

    Of course I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I was of her for being so generous to work so hard just to do something for someone else. Then I quickly had a million flashbacks about how anything I could have possibly done as a parent would have had this kind of effect on her character. I don’t know how it happened. It’s a fluke, I swear it.

    End of sidetrack.

    H was giddy, of course, and the first several hours of the night were all about each on their own computer online playing webkinz as a team. It was cute, and they had fun. They also had banana splits with the works, and pizza. I try to be a good sleepover mom.

    So yesterday was the beginning of the weekend warrior projects. Oh my. Our big project was delayed by rain – but this weekend it’s just gorgeous. I love this weather. I carry around my camera, put it down, grab a shovel, dig, transplant, and get my camera again. Fun stuff, people!

    We’re building (and by we I mean my husband, as I stand and point and say “no” and “yeah”, and then I do the making it pretty when he’s all done part) a raised planting bed that’s an “L” shape – about 3 feet deep, 12 feet wide and 18 feet long. Part of this project requires the major undertaking of transplanting everything on our back mound (7th photo), because we need the dirt. This stuff here is being replaced by the planter, so everything needs to be transplanted from those areas, as well.

    It was a busy day yesterday. I put three old fashioned thornless rose climbers in the backyard against the fence, they’re new and I am hoping they take off and cover the entire fence area since we have an offensive odor blowing into our house when the windows are open. We’re hoping this curbs that problem and fills our home and yard with something more pleasing to the nose. I also added about a gadgillion seeds to another area in the yard, and if I did well I should be able to show you those in about 2 weeks.

    As for the birds, I saw this couple flitting about in our poplar tree lastnight once I settled down with my bottled water and camera and just stopped, watched and listened. They’re really neat birds – they fly high and they have a really interesting wingspan in flight. From this kinda crappy photo, I’ve deduced that they are Tanagers – a bird I’ve never seen before. I can’t determine whether they’re hepatic or scarlet, because the females don’t seem to match. I thought because of the speckled breast on the female that it might be a true purple finch, but the male is much too red. If you can’t tell, I really enjoy birdwatching and identifying them. I heard a lot of neat birds yesterday – our northern flicker is back, and it won’t be long before he makes an appearance on our suet – or at least on the hill of ants by our poplar tree. Hubby spotted a predator swooping through our yard twice yesterday on the hunt, looking to nab a small bird or squirrel. I missed the action, off digging up a plant somewhere, but what a cool thing to have going on in our backyard!

    Sidenote: we also rescued 4 baby bunnies last weekend and released them the other night. One had been injured, so we wanted to get the bloody one away from danger and healed. They’re doing fine now, hiding in the brush pile – you can see one of the little cutie pies in my photoblog.

    Today we should finish the new raised bed and transplating. I’m not as sore as I was last weekend, I learned my lesson and did bicep and tricep curls on the treadmill while I walked for a few days this week. The airclimber also helped with the leg squatting and digging. Whatever the task – bring it on, I’m ready!

    Creatively Speaking

    April
    20
    2007

    birth of a blog design graphic These are the lengths that I will go to to be sure that the ideas in my head are absolutely as original as they can possibly be. If I want something to look a certain way, I’ll create my own reference photo and start from scratch. That’s what it’s all about, right?

    That photo, that idea – it represents something to come, something like a rebirth. A new energy, a new outlook, another step forward. It’s a work in progress, and it won’t be too long before you know what I mean.

    There’s a part of me that changes every spring, I think when I get outside and spend some time with my gardening gloves on, I grow right along with the beautiful plants and flowers I mother on a daily basis. When I saw my new stargazer lilies peeking up through the mound of dirt and mulched leaves this morning, it was almost a zen moment. Then my nose filled with the smell of a beautiful sherbet hyacinth, and my ears were ringing with the sounds of multiple birds chirping and chatting.

    sherbet peach hyacinth
    Aaah. Can you smell it? I wish I could bottle the scent. I’d make a mint.

    I’ve been working on blog design projects for EW, so I’ll show you those once they’re up in the official portfolio. For me and my own portfolio – I’ll be finishing up that monochromatic cat painting today, I’ll be back later to update you on that one.

    Happy Friday – don’t forget to stop and smell the roses – or whatever you’ve got blooming near you!

    Blech! (Sorta, Kinda.)

    April
    9
    2007

    You know what I’m talking about?

    We went to dinner lastnight, and half of us are sick today. The half that’s sick used different oils in our (Mongolian) food than the other half, and it’s my best guess that the oil may have been a little rancid.

    Easter was wonderful. Church services were moving, our biggest little one played three songs on piano before services began and I was so proud of her, she played so well. Our baby quaker parrot birdy boy was just adorable this weekend (see our little pocket pal?), and we had a couple of slumber parties that left us all sleeping on our ginormous sectional.

    One of the highlights for me was seeing and id’ing a new backyard bird. Meet Jeepers, our new brown creeper. (Jeepers, creepers. Easy to remember, yes?)

    brown creeper illinois nuthatch look brown spotted speckled back
    Ain’t he just the cutest? I thought it might have been some kind of nuthatch, the way he climbs the tree. He’s even foraging off the nuthatches stowed away food under the bark. I identified him on BDI – man I love that site. We’re doing a lot more to the yard this year to bring more birds in and right now we’ll get to see some of the most interesting birds as they migrate. My camera and I are so excited!

    I’ll end my Monday on that note, since going off into tangent-land would probably cause my fingers and wrists to ache, and I’ll be using them in the studio later.

    Happy Monday (in spite of it all!)

    Two Tulips and a Hawk. That is all.

    April
    6
    2007

    purple tulip
    red tulip

    Two tulips. This is, unfortunately, the beginning and end of my tulips this year, I’m afraid. I am so sad, this cold snap has just turned them into drooping beauties. I look at them and I can feel the sadness creeping in, like The Nothing is slowly taking over my perennials.

    I did get a glimpse of majesty yesterday, though. Right in my own backyard. Hubby spotted her and I was called to duty – it went a little like this:

    “Honey! Camera! Hurry! Hawk!”
    She was beautiful, and I was only mildly creeped out by the size of her blood tinged talons. A girl’s gotta eat though, huh?

    I’m working on a monochromatic cat painting today, three beautiful cats – I’ll show you the sketch when I finish it up.

    Happy Good Friday to you!

    Narcissi

    April
    1
    2007

    narcissi mini daffodil spring yellow flower

    “Essence of Narcissi essence helps the body to process and release
    the energy from the emotional-mental trauma, thus
    avoiding the need for the body to store this energy as
    body-embedded trauma energy. ”

    ~Source : New Millenium Flower Essences

    It’s no wonder when I run across things like this that spring has always been my favorite time of year. It really brings me a sense of peace and quiet and calm, when stress just kind of drifts away and I go crazy with the planting of more perennials and buying things to draw more nature into my yard. Yesterday afternoon I ordered two vines, a wisteria (wow look at this one, and this one too) and a trumpet vine. Then we had to run to the store for some things and wouldn’t you know – they had some in stock, as well as a some really healthy clematis.

    Today I’ll be getting some garden fencing to attach to our new privacy fence and putting these vines in the ground, and then I’ll hover over them every morning with my coffee and camera, waiting and hoping that they flourish.

    (P.S. I totally snagged the watermark idea from Mrs. Fun.)

    Identify This Bird

    March
    30
    2007

    Here are a bunch of photos of a bird that preys in my neighborhood. If you know what he is, do tell – He’s half hawk, half owl in my book – he’s about the size of a young red tailed hawk (which are very common in my area, but I’ve never seen one with big owly eyes and beaks before).

    Update: She’s a female american kestrel, according to Birdchick. (Thank you!) (another image of a kestrel)

    american kestrel

    Coming to Life

    March
    27
    2007

    chionodoxa flower bud macro
    There’s just nothing better, is there? I had to share. I have over 200 bulbs that I put in the ground last fall peeking through and I couldn’t be happier. I’d sit beside them all day and just watch them grow, if I could. This is a Chionodoxa, I think – I have about 30 of them. I’m trying to figure out what they are based on a photo of the packages in the approximate locations where I planted them.

    What’s coming up in your yard?

    (I’ve added a cute little Chipping Sparrow to my photoblog, too. He’s a cutie pie.)

    I Love Metaphors.

    March
    16
    2007

    robin red breasted
    Last week, Catybug and I witnessed the first sign of spring. We saw 4-5 robins, all gathered together near a bush, on the way home from school. We squeed with delight, because we’re ready. We chatted about how they’ll find food, and we even saw a few more over the following days near bushes that all bear winter berries. We decided this was how they must sustain themselves until spring actually arrived.

    Hubby saw his first batch, he said around 40 of these happy and plump little guys (they filled up at Laura’s house before heading north) gathered in a cornfield.

    They’re here. They’re really here!

    I wandered around the yard looking for more signs, sure enough – I’ve got dwarf iris blooming. Crocus. Muscari peeking up – signs of daffodils and other bulbs that I planted last fall. This is the best time of year! It feels refreshing, invigorating. Life is slowly returning to everything that faded away to gray months ago.

    That little robin in my front yard taught me something the other day. As I watched him hop around the yard, I wondered what he was looking for. I don’t have any fruit bearing plants for him, and I was certain that it was far too early to get worms from the ground. I kept watching, though – obviously he knows something that I don’t.

    red breasted robin worming
    The early bird, indeed, gets the worm. And also? No matter where you are, or how you might think you’re totally aware of your surroundings, you’re really not that far from a worm.

    Happy spring!
    (see a much better robin photo in my photoblog.)

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