Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thank goodness someone is teaching the girls how to be ladies:

Practicing our manners

Nellie is more interested in holding down the Princess couch. My bank account of affection is wearing a bit thin, because every one wants me to pay attention to them simultaneously. I say hi to Nellie, Hooper pushes in. I am reading to Lorelei, Isabelle wants help with the computer. I am petting one of the cats, someone either spills something or needs a band-aid or the phone rings. I always said that a house full of kids and animals would be the happiest place for me. But it makes me tired, nonetheless. And I have been known to be cranky from time to time.
Nellie kicks back on the princess couch
This pic reminds me of how small and harmless Nellie looked when she was a puppy. Oh, that sweet face. The best dog in the world.
Real frog, fake water lily
Look what I found in the fountain this morning...a real frog, sitting on my fake water lily. You know, Laura made fun of me when I got that fake plant. Humph. I can't get any respect.

Our young downies make me smile daily. The only way I can tell the young ones from the adults is the young males have red a bit farther up on their head than the grown-ups. This one is so tame that I can stand right by the window and take pics when she is at the suet feeder, which is right outside.
When I first started making Zick dough, I worried that it would go rancid in warm weather, but it turns out that I didn't have to worry. It's gone so fast, it doesn't have time to melt hardly.

I have an early morning program, but I have been oh-so-bad about visiting all the blogs I love. So I will prop my eyes open with toothpicks and go read.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A big No-no!

Hooper didn't run away today. That made it a good day.
Hooper sings opera
He crosses his legs like a lady.
And he sings. Since there's some husky or malamute in there, he doesn't bark. He yodels...especially when we all howl at him. "Aaaaa-wooo-wooo!"

But the poor guy doesn't get any love, really. We really don't care about him.

Poor unloved puppy
No hugs, no affections.
The kids really can't stand him
The kids can't even stand him. Poor neglected puppy.

Hooper investigates the lens
(This is what happens when you try to get a macro shot of his eyes)

I talked to Shannon about any Hooper specs I needed to know. His age three years ago when she first got him was calculated at 6 to 8 years. That makes him 9 to 12. It was hard to tell his exact age because he apparently used to chew rocks and his teeth are a bit worn. No wonder he walks a bit creaky...he's a senior citizen.

I had a program at a local, eco-friendly pre-school summer program, and they were so impressed and thrilled with my visit, they scheduled me for next summer right on the spot. You can imagine that made me feel good. On the way back, I saw this license plate:

It probably stands for "Black Satin", but I read "Black Satan". Or it could be "Block Satan"... or "Blink Saturn"......

Okay. I have kept this a secret long enough. We have a barn owl at RAPTOR. He was injured while hung up on a gutter or downspout or something. A large amount of skin was sheared off, and it's been difficult to get it to heal. One of our vets suggested amputation, but we aren't ready to give up on him yet. But it is looking like he will be a program bird, even if he gets to keep his wing. I have never wished a bird NOT to be released, but I can't pretend that I
would not happy to have him for programs. Most people have never even seen a barn owl, and they are not doing so well throughout their range, which is extensive. Birds of Ohio states that there are maybe 50 nesting pairs in Ohio, though there are probably more than we realize. Still, an uncommon bird.
*Susan does the Snoopy dance*

His unofficial name is "No-No". Barn owls when they are young have a damn cute thing that they do when they are threatened. They spread their wings, lower their head
and shake it, like they are saying, "no, no, no..."
When I dropped off my birds today, one of our volunteers was on her way down to do some stuff with him, so I had to get one picture, just through the cage door:
No No
That's just a damn cute bird.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lazy, the Purple Fairy, Guardian of Baby Penguins

Hooper gave us the scare of our lives today. Geoff was coming in the front door with his hands full, and Hooper slipped out. I had been warned of this, so I ran out after him. Without my shoes on. I called him and called him, but he just kept going. I chased him through three yards as he cut through the neighborhood. I have mentioned that because of my previous foot surgeries, I can't run. Well, I did a pretty good imitation today, out of sheer terror.
Hooper kept running, all the way to the entrance to our subdivision, then crossed the road in front of oncoming cars. At this point, I was screamed his name at the top of my lungs.
I chased him about half a mile down Rt. 48, in my bare feet, before he cut into some woods I couldn't get into.
I went back for the car, and spent another hour combing the surrounding neighborhoods.

After coming back to the house, I sent Geoff and the girls on their way (swimming) and went downstairs to do some work to get my mind off of Hooper. Awhile later, Nellie began to bark and whine and I dashed upstairs and looked out the front window. There was Hooper on the front porch.
He was gone for three hours. But he came back. Now, we have a leash hanging at the front door, so this doesn't happen again.

Lynne commented today that I have a big, soft gooey center.
I like to think of myself as a geode. A rough outer texture, with something inside that might be valuable. But I appreciate the comment, nonetheless.
Will-Yums for today:
Lorelei has bestowed on herself a new name and profession:
"Lazy, the Purple Fairy, Guardian of Baby Penguins". No idea where the "lazy" part came from, but it's cute anyway, huh? Also, Isabelle and I were out back, and she said that she was going to run all the way around the yard. She said, "I am going to start at the prairie, then go past the caterpillar garden, then past the host plant...." and on and on she went.
Host plant...she meant the yarrow growing through the fence. Now, I ask ya, what five-year old says, "Host plant"?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Operation *Super - Duper Hooper*

Hi. My name is Hooper.
My Mom couldn't keep me, so her best friend took me in. And while my new family would love to keep me, they are wondering if anyone could fall in love with me.

I have very pretty blue eyes...

Hooper blue eyes
...I guess that's because I have some Malamute and/or Husky in me. We don't know much about me and my history except for this: A friend of my Mom's saw me over her fence, in the neighbor's yard, with no food, water or shelter, and I don't even know how old I am. It was Winter, and I was not being taken care of. The two of them snuck in during the night and dog-napped me, but I didn't mind. Finally I was fed, warm and loved.

Hooper booty
I have a big booty...
Hooper coloring
...but I am still a gorgeous dog, if I do say so myself.

Since I am a "Northern" dog, I have a lot of hair, so brushing me is a must.
I don't like my nails being trimmed, but I love baths. In fact, the first thing I did when I got here was to jump into the kiddie pool. And since I was bred for work, like pulling sleds, I need my daily exercise.

Hooper and Isabelle
I enjoy hanging out with kids. My old family had a BOY that I loved. I miss him.
But the little people who live here really love me and I think they are sweet.
Hi Hooper
I am very, very gentle and calm...
Big and little
...even though I am bigger than most kids I meet.

I am so calm, I heard my new Mom ask my old Mom if she gave me Qualludes, whatever they are. But even though I am a very relaxed dog, I can still play with the best of 'em.
Nellie and Hooper
I get along with other dogs, like my new buddy Nellie...

Hooper and Powder
...and I think cats are neat, too. I've only met one of the cats in this house, because scary things happened to the others, with a dog that used to live here. I hear that he didn't like cats at all.

Nose to nose with Hooper
So, do you like me?

Friday, July 27, 2007

You bunch of smart-asses.
I don't know whether to put words over here,

Or here,
or over here.

I guess I will try putting the pictures in the middle, and the text right-justified? Does that make everyone happy?

We found an Imperial Moth in the backyard this morning:
Imperial 1
It was looking pretty rough...It had quite a bit of wing gone.
Imperial fuzz
But how beautiful is that yellow and pink fuzz? Like a little cat with wings.
Imperial face
And a face that everyone should love.

The dope on Imperial Moths:

Family: Wild Silk Moths (Saturniidae) (Same family as Luna moths!)

Subfamily: Royal Moths (Citheroniinae)

Identification: Females are larger than males. Upperside is yellow with pinkish brown to purple-brown patches, bands, and cell spots, and tiny brown spots scattered overall. Males have larger patches on the forewings than females, except for some subspecies pini males which have reduced purple and are mostly yellow.

Life history: Adults emerge before sunrise and mate after midnight the next day. Females lay eggs at dusk singly or in groups of 2-5 on both surfaces of host plant leaves. The eggs hatch in about 2 weeks, and the caterpillars are solitary feeders. Pupation takes place in underground burrows.

Flight: One brood; in the north from June-August, in the south from April-October.

Wing span: 3 1/8 - 6 7/8 inches (8 - 17.4 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Conifers and deciduous trees and shrubs including pine (Pinus), oak (Quercus), box elder (Acer negundo), maples (Acer), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and sassafras (Sassafras albidum). Subspecies pini feeds only on conifers.

Adult food: Adults do not feed. (WOW! They don't EAT?)

Habitat: Deciduous and evergreen forests.

Range: Maine west to eastern Nebraska, south to the Florida Keys and central Texas. Subspecies pini occurs across the northern Great Lakes basin and the northern third of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

This explains why I found it under one of our maple trees. Maybe it just laid eggs.
I have finally figured out why I feel so drawn to butterflies and moths. Same as why I am drawn to birds: They are beautiful and they can fly.

Sad news:
Lollipop, our blue parakeet, was dead at the bottom of his cage yesterday. When I removed him from the fishtank the other day, I checked him out and he didn't have any wounds, and seemed fine. But I guess the stress of being knocked out of his cage was too much for him. Echo is lonely, so we are giving him extra attention.
Hopeful news:
I am going over to visit my bestest bud, Shannon, tomorrow. She moved into an apartment today and I want to go over and give the place my approval. She is getting divorced, and it sucks. But she has her family and friends, and of course the most kick-ass best friend anyone could ask for. That would be me, by the way.
And I am hoping to bring a little something back with me. I will post about it tomorrow.
Today's Will-Yum:
Lorelei's pre-start-of-school physical was today. We saw the new nurse-practitioner and even though she had a great way with kids, Lorelei was so in her A-game. She chatted, answered all the questions posed to her, agreed to all the poking and prodding, smiling no less. I just had to sit there and translate a few words for the CNP. Like when Lorelei said the name of her new goldfish, which has been expanded to :Lipstick Flower Zip-It.
Not to toot my own horn, but...BEEP BEEP. We have done something right with these kids. They are smart, funny, outgoing, interesting.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A day at the Oxbow

I have been asked by my "aging" cousin, Cathy, to not center my posts, because SHE can't read them. Okay. Anything for family.

I actually went birding today. And I saw birds. I dragged the girls along to the Oxbow, which they don't like. I guess it's boring for kids, even exceptional junior birder kids. They only care about seeing fish, snakes and frogs.

Green heron

It's always nice to see green herons. It's even better to get a picture...they're so furtive.

GBH Oxbow

It was easy to find great blue herons.

egrets and GBH

Here's a committee of egrets and a heron...talking about the price of fish, I guess.

This was cool>
On the way back to the car, I spotted a blue-gray gnatcatcher. Another bird that is fun to see, since there are like the size of a nickel. I pished a bit and saw it popping in and out of the branches, then saw it land here for a few seconds, then pop back out:

Blue-gray gnatcatcher nest

A wee, sweet gnatcatcher nest.

The bird that made the trip worthwhile:

Solitary I think

I think it's a solitary...certainly small enough. There were some killdeer nearby that were good enough to be there for for size comparison. And it was alone...like, solitary. Har.

If you haven't heard, Laura lost her sweet Buddy. Head over there and give her some cyber- hugs. And grab a Kleenex before you read her post. If you own or ever loved a dog, you will know.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Schadenfreude and Will-Yums

My Harry Potter programs are finally over, tonight's being the last. I have 4 days off.
May I say, "Whew!" and "Jeez!" ?

My brush with schadenfreude today:
On the highway, I saw a very ugly, old, maroon Trans-Am barreling in and out of different lanes, causing lots of cars to slam on their brakes and swerve to avoid being hit. No turn signals (one of my pet peeves), total disregard for anyone's safety. Myself and other drivers were looking at each other, making faces at each other, like "Can you believe those idiots?"
This went on for a few miles, then we all saw something that made us laugh:
The Trans-Am was stalled in the left lane, with a very long line of pissed of drivers behind them. And all of us were pointing and laughing. It was fabulous.
I have thought of a new post-theme for my blog...things that are great, that make me smile, but don't really fit into my posts (you know how random they can be).
The name: The Will-Yums.
Anything that makes me grin or that gives me a tiny thrill, or something I want to brag about, or something that makes me go "yum!".

My first Will-Yum:
Yesterday, I was leaving early for RAPTOR, when Isabelle called out the door, "Wait, Mommy!" I stopped and waited...she came out with a freshly washed apple, and said, "Here's an apple, Mommy, because you always forget to eat breakfast."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Am I in my body? I'm not sure.

I have been out of the house doing programs so much lately, I am having a hard time recognizing my husband and kids.
Today's one program, way out in Batesville, Indiana,
took all day. I left at 11:00 am and got back at 5:00 pm.
Girlfriend is tired.
Some random things from my past week, in no particular order:

Rita Skeeter
1. I met "Rita Skeeter" at the Newport Library.
This was one of the best costumes I saw that night.
Hippies use back door
2. This sign is on a door in Mt. Healthy, near RAPTOR. I'm not sure what it means, but it made me laugh. "No exceptions". LOL.
I couldn't figure out which store the door belonged to. There is an herb store on that block.
tiger swallowtail
3. The girls found a tiger swallowtail sitting in the grass yesterday. I approached slowly, thinking it was going to bolt any second. Turns out I didn't need to worry. It was dazed and stepped onto my finger. The "tails" were missing, and it seemed to be dying, maybe having just laid eggs. I placed it in our bee balm plants and wished it the best.

4. Geoff took the girls out tonight, and I sat down after they left and turned on the lap top. I woke up an hour later. I had fallen asleep sitting up.
I have turned into my grandmother.

5. I have kidnapped two of the pipevine swallowtail caterpillars and put them in our Butterfly Habitat. This time, we will be able to watch their metamorphosis.

6. Friday night (well, Saturday morning) I fell into bed like a log. I was awake a few minutes later, pulling a tick out of my hair. I got rid of it and tried to go back to sleep. I was awakened again, a few minutes later, with one in my freakin' ear. I got rid of that one and went to lay down in one of the girls' rooms (they were sleeping over at Mom's). I was not even asleep again when another one crawled over my forehead. I was in tears at this point, not because of the ticks, but because I was so unbelievably tired.
I finally figured out that I had brought them home, in my hair, from RAPTOR. There are trees above some of the mews, and I was under them while I was putting the birds away. EWWWWW.
As we left yesterday for Columbus, I covered every sofa and floor with flea and tick powder and also blankets to keep the dust off the animals. When we came back, I vacuumed.
Haven't seen a tick since. I say again, EWWWWW.

7. I was awakened this morning to Geoff asking me if I "moved the parakeets out of their cage". That made my eyes fly open. Of course I didn't move them. Turns out that one of our cats pushed the cage off their table and one of the doors had fallen open and they had escaped. I found Lollipop in the fish tank, sitting on the filter that sticks out of the water. He was grateful and showed it by biting me repeatedly. While I was gone, Isabelle found Echo under the TV stand. Imagine how scared those poor little guys were. This is not the house for parakeets. What was I thinking?

8. Geoff's first book signing was Saturday, in Lebanon. Guess how many people showed up.
ONE. And we know her. My cousin, Mary Lou.
And the store is closing in a few days. Nice swan song, huh? Redeeming factor: Geoff went over to a nearby library, and found out that people have been coming in and asking for his book.
Thankfully Geoff has a good sense of humor. Next book signing is August 4th, at the Barnes & Noble at 9891 Waterstone Boulevard, off Field's Ertel Road. If you live in Cincinnati, come by and meet us. Please?

9. I have a few more programs this week, and then I will have a few days off to reclaim my sanity, family and maybe go see some birds for a change.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

She emerges from the Wizarding world, blinking, into the land of Muggles once again...

After a marathon weekend of Owls, Owls, and more Owls, and a complete reading of the last Harry Potter book, Life is back to normal.
Friday Night:
5:00 pm: Leave for RAPTOR to pick up the owls.
6:00 pm: Owls in my car, I head to the first program in Newport, KY.
7:15-8:00 pm: I talk.

8:05-9:00 pm: Driving to next program in Miamisburg, OH (near Dayton)
9:00-9:45 pm: I talk.

10:00-11:10 pm: Drive to last program in Madeira, OH (east of Cincinnati)
11:15-12:00 pm: I talk.

12:05-12:45 am: Drive back to Mt. Healthy to drop off birds.

2:00 am: I fall into bed.

On Saturday, just one program in Anderson township.
I got home as soon as I was able, and waiting for me was my book.
I read until 2:30 am.

Woke up today at 8:00 am, to prepare to drive up with Geoff and the girls to Columbus to visit with friends. I read a bit on the way up and back, and I just finished the book about 45 minutes ago. I will give no secrets. But all the questions you ever wanted answers to at the end of the last book are given in this one.

I look forward to a break from Owls and the car. Well, after this week's programs are done.
I'm very, very tired, but I am off to read what everyone else has been up to this weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Holy Dinosaur Bones, Batman!

Well, the blue bud is now a blue bloom.
Is that a perfect blue or what? I think I will plant Bachelor's Buttons every year. Such happy little flowers.

Blue bloom

The marathon of programs began today.
The first was close to home, and also close to the B&N where Geoff will be signing copies of his book. I stopped in the store and took a sneaky picture of the BIG sign right inside the door:
Geoff's sign
The second program was across the river in Kentucky. A large, loud storm cut it short and I drove back to RAPTOR dripping.
Let me tell you about a conversation I had as I was packing the birds back into the car after my first program:
A woman began talking to me about RAPTOR and our programs, etc. She took one of my brochures and said that her church would love to have us. Great.
Then she started talking about the giant statue they have at their church (the largest Horseshoe Crab in the world or something like that) and it's covered in Scripture. Okay. Great. If that's your thing.
She also mentioned The Creation Museum and "Answers in Genesis" ( I was a bit confused at this turn in topics...weren't we talking about birds of prey a second ago?) and then she dropped this bomb:
"You know, that museum that shows us that God didn't create the dinosaurs."

Exsqueeze me?
She then proceeded to tell me how dinosaur bones couldn't possibly any more that a few thousand years old, because the world is only about six thousand years old.
Oh, dear. One of those.
You can imagine the trillion things that ran through my mind in that nanosecond.
But all I did was put the birds in the car faster, thank her for her interest in RAPTOR, and
Got. The. Hell. Out. Of there.

I am teaching the girls the concepts of "acceptance" and "tolerance", and I try to live those concepts myself. But sometimes it's hard, isn't it? I almost bit through my tongue.

It's scary to think that children who go to this museum and are being raised by parents who think this museum is a great idea (A $50 million idea, at that!), will think that science is full of BS, and swallow this humongous spoonful of crap they are being fed. These are the type of people who voted for Bush. Twice.

A colonic for your brain:

Hummer in the rain
We got lots of wonderful, cold rain today, and the hummingbirds were zipping merrily through the yard and perching and preening. Look at his gorget in these two pictures. Those red feathers look black unless they are turned just so.
Hummingbird giving a raspberry
And they were full of **ss and vinegar, giving me the raspberry.

You may not be seeing me for a few days...Harry Potter and Owls will be my life this weekend. I will be back when I have finished the book and recovered from the zillion programs I will be doing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An outing...and the Odd Couple

After my praise of the Cincinnati Museum Center yesterday, I decided that I needed to take the girls there.

Union Terminal
Its official name is the Cincinnati Museum Center, but I still call it Union Terminal.
I bet Trixie has been here!

We went to two of the museums, the Children's one and the Natural History one.
The girls and Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong's space suit is there.
(Did you know that Geoff interviewed Mr. Armstrong for a book? His first book was about a local business man who was also a friend of Mr. Armstrong's)

Passenger Pigeon
The Natural History Museum is full of so many cool things...caves, simulated glaciers, fossils, reconstructed skeletons of mastodons, giant sloths.
And a passenger pigeon. What a beautiful bird. Stupid humans.

Audobon in Cincinnati
And speaking of birds...
John James Audubon worked here back in 1819 as a taxidermist, with the predecessor of our current museum.
(We Cincinnatians find any, ANY tie-in we can)
Rotunda ceiling
The Rotunda ceiling.
Word has it that the huge entry way has perfect acoustics, and that you can stand at one end and whisper, and a person can hear you all the way on the other side. I have never been able to do it, because it's always so loud in there.
Mural 1

Maxfield Keck’s bas-relief figures symbolize Commerce and Transportation.
Big, beautiful murals made of tiny pieces of ceramic. The sister pieces to these are hanging in the Greater Cincinnati Airport.

Mural 2

Pigeons on clock
Pigeons don't know how to tell time, but they hang out on the clock anyway.

No matter where you go outside the exhibits, you can't forget you are in a train station.
Old rail entries
These are some of the old rail entry points, where the trains came into the platforms.
And trains still come into this station, but in the back instead of the front.
You can grab an Amtrak from here.
"I'm livin' on the air in Cincinnati....
Cincinnati, W K R P."

News from the yard:
New batch of cats
The new batch of swallowtail eggs have hatched and we have new babies to fawn over.

From the prairie...
I cannot WAIT to see this when it opens!

We have a balding cardinal:
I'm not just the President, I'm a member
"I'm not just the president, I'm also a client."

You know, I have seen bald cardinals in other people's yards, but never here. I was starting to get insulted.
So sad
The usual culprit is feather mites.
Eventually the feathers grow back. but not before the poor guy gets a lot of grief from the other birds.

In honor of Mary's post yesterday:
We have our own love affair going on in the yard.
A bi-species affair.
Duh duh dum!

Her: It's not going to work, Jay.
Him: Come on, baby. Ain't I sexy enough for you?
The Odd Couple 1
Her: You're too pushy, and my parents don't approve of you. We have such different lives.
It' s time to move on.
Him: .....Huh? Did you say something?

The Odd Couple 2
Her: See?!? You're looking at the feeder! All you care about is sex and food!
Him: Hey. That human put out peanuts.