Saturday, March 31, 2007

A banner day here at the Williams household!

I am convinced that Time is not a constant. It slows down and speeds up at its own whim.
My baby, my first-born, Isabelle.
She lost her first tooth today.
Last night, it was so loose, I could have twisted it out myself. But it must have had one last nerve attachment because she said it hurt a little. So we finally got her to bed, with assurances that if she swallowed it (she was REALLY nervous about that), it would not hurt her.
I don't have a picture of her lost tooth. And here's why:
Today she went to a birthday party for one of her school friends...

Isabelle first lost tooth
...and she called me on my cell, to tell me that she was eating potato chips at the party, and she swallowed her tooth.
I seem to miss her teeth milestones...when this tooth came in when she was a baby, I was working at a podiatry office as a prn person (prn means "as needed") and my Mom, who was watching her, called to say that Isabelle's first tooth had come in. And now, I don't have that first tooth to save and cherish.
Unless we "look" for it, if you know what I mean. I don't know if I have the stomach for that.

To make this joyous occasion special for her, I made a "Tooth Fairy Bag":
Tooth Fairy bag
And she dictated a note to the Tooth Fairy, listing what she wanted, and to assure the Tooth Fairy that it was okay that the tooth wasn't in the bag:
Note to Tooth Fairy
I wrote down exactly what she told me to write.
Tooth picture by Isabelle
She drew a quick picture of her tooth going down to her stomach, and she also drew a fish.
I don't know why.
My tooth picture
My picture of her tooth.

***I updated the new RAPTOR blog with some pictures of some of our rehab birds***

Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm so full of myself right now, I have ME coming out of my ears

I couldn't wait to post tonight. I took some of the most awesome pictures ever today.

I am not thrilled when I see brown-headed cowbirds at the feeders, but they are native, so they have a place here.
And even though I always think of the nest parasitism they engage in, I have to admit they have a subtle beauty. Well, at least the males do. The females are boring.

Male <span class=
Glossy black under chocolate brown.

I think we have a winner in the tree swallow Nest Olympics:
2 little <span class=

I watched the male swoop and drive off every other swallow except for this one. I looked closer, and the other one is less irridescent, so it must be a female, for him to let her sit so close.
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This is a bird to make a person a BIRDER.
Look at that clean white. That glossy black/blue. I so love these guys.
Nellie the Chicken Dog
Nellie finally saw them today. She has known something is up for a few days, but today, when she actually laid eyes on them, she ran for the back door, tail down and eyes half closed. Sissy.

I had to get the girls out of the house today. They have been on Spring Break (They are in preschool, for chrissakes. What do they have to take a break from???) and the blue skies and flowers were beckoning.
Daffodils as far as you can see
The Cincinnati Nature Center, in its best season. There are daffodils as far as the eye can see.
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And the rest of the ground is covered with pert little Celedine. I know nothing of this flower other than it is a member of the buttercup family.
Bullfrog <span class=
The critters are waking up...Dang, this was a huge bullfrog. I showed the girls how his throat was making the water vibrate under his chin.
Daffodils and squirrel behind
The squirrels were up to their butts in foraging for vittles.

A pic I am very proud of:
Chickadee leaving cavity
This chickadee was just flying out of a cavity in a dead tree. I saw him or her fly in, so I waited until I saw the little face peek out. There's something in his/her Sawdust? Anyone wanna guess?

Then, after doing the Susan/Snoopy dance for getting such a cool picture, I saw this duck:
Female wood duck
Ohmigod! A female wood duck!
So, would I be lucky enough to see the male?
Male wood duck
Oh, Hell YEAH. I have seen these before, but have never gotten so close. I was extremely pleased with myself.

And now, a mystery butterfly/moth:
mystery butterfly or moth
There were a few of these precious little guys flying at the edge of the trail. I looked at a zillion butterfly sites, but I can't find this one. I will be very embarrassed if it is a really common, boring butterfly. Anyone know what it is?
Macro magnolia

The magnolias are showing off their feminine blooms...there was a solid wall of magnolias in full bloom at the entrance to the center.

Girls under magnolia
And I got the girls to hug and pose under one of them.
Sweet flowers, vibrating frogs, tiny butterflies, lovey-dovey tree swallows, and secretive wood ducks.
A good day.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Happy birthday, Mom! (and Fan Mail)

Today is my Mom's 65th birthday. I can't believe she's 65. She can't believe it either. She shook her head on my 34th birthday and said to me, "How can you be 34??? I'M only 34!"
It's impossible to state in words what she means to me. Giving me life is one of the small things she has done for me.
Mom taught me the following things...and I am sure millions more!
1. How to iron
2. How to cook
3. How to laugh
4. She showed me what a great blue heron was
5. How to write a thank-you note
6. How to plant a flower
7. How to read
8. How to be a lady (Stop laughing)
9. How to love
10. How to be a good mother

The many sides of Mom:
She stayed at home with my brother and me until we were teenagers, to give us a good start in life. She made us eat our vegetables, then let us eat ice cream. She loved and respected my father. She didn't cuss around us until we were adults. She can make me laugh hard enough to almost wet myself. My first memory of her...I was three years old, and I was pushed down a flight of stairs by a friend of my brothers. When I came to, my Mom was holding me.
She did all the diaper-changing in the household ( I don't remember this, I was just told) (Dad never changed ONE diaper in his life!)
The scent that brings my Mom to my thoughts is Odalisque, even though she doesn't wear it anymore.
She somehow put up with my teenage-angst stage, which ended just recently. :)
Every day I would come home from school and share with her all that I had learned that day. She called all the tidbits "Susan's Pearls of Wisdom". Two Christmases ago, I gave her a box with a note on it: When I was young, I gave you pearls of wisdom. Now I can give you the real thing." A strand of pink pearls. She cried. It was fabulous.
She was there to witness the birth of both of my children. When Isabelle was born, there came a time when I started screaming that I couldn't do it anymore (I was in labor for 38 hours) and she had to leave the room. Lorelei slipped out like a peeled grape, and Mom was there to see it and stated that Lorelei looked just like me.
When she was delivering me 34 years ago, the doctor said, "I can see the head" and my Mom yelled for everyone to STOP so she could tell them about the dream she had. She dreamed that she had a little girl named Susan and she had black curly hair. The doctor said, "I don't know about the girl part yet, but you got the hair right!"
(I was born with black curly hair, by the way)
She gave me my green eyes and curly hair, my voice and my attitude. But most importantly, she gave me the whole world.
I love you Mom, with gaggles, and bunches, and flocks, and tons, and bouquets...times infinity.
bridal shower mom & me

My job at RAPTOR, Inc. is rewarding enough, telling folks about birds of prey. I meet great people who are interested in learning more, kids who are awestruck by our birds. But what I love the most is the fan mail. I get letters from kids mostly,
thanking me for coming to their school.
Recently, I received a huge envelope with 50 letters and pictures from a school and the kids drew pictures of their favorite birds.
Here are my favorites: (Click to see the intricate details) :)

Fan mail 1
So what if I wasn't wearing any pants. She sort of got my hair right.
Fan mail 4
I love the little mouse on the right, under the heart.

Fan mail 3
It looks like they learned something. The large owl is carrying a rat (or is that a dachshund?) and the little owl is carrying a mouse.
Fan mail 2
Another likeness of me...Of course, the owl is three times bigger than I am. The red and blue boxes on the right are the carriers we use to transport small birds in (the kestrel and the screech owls).
Cute, huh?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Here and there and a little bit of everywhere

Lots of things happen to me during the day that make me say to myself, "I totally need to blog about that tonight." Sometimes I remember all the details, sometimes I don't.
Before I get to the photos:
Last night, after Isabelle and Lorelei brushed their teeth, Isabelle made me "check the tooth". She has had a wiggly tooth for what seems like a year. I checked, and I can just begin to see a gap between the tooth and the gums. I said that I needed to make her a "Tooth Fairy" bag to put her tooth in, and asked her what she wanted the TF to leave under her pillow.
She said, "A flute!" Geoff and I glanced at each other, both of us envisioning the ear-splitting sound of a flute in the hands of a five-year old. I told her that a flute might stick out from under her pillow, and the TF rules clearly state that the gift has to fit under her pillow.
Without missing a beat, my girl said, "A fifty-dollar bill!"

Hell, I remember getting a quarter.
(Just for the record, girlfriend is not getting a fifty.)

Some duck butt-biting
Lake Isabelle this morning:
With all the avian hormones running amok now, there's a lot of butt-biting going on. But hey, human males are the same way.But instead of butt-biting, there's a lot of posturing and
"He better stop lookin' at you" stuff.
I did have two guys fight over me once. It was pretty cool. But embarrassing.
I was dating *the demon*, and one of his friends (let's call him John) offered to help me with my Senior Thesis since he had done his thesis on the same subject (Censorship in Modern Music). We met at the library, and while it was innocent on my end, he had a thing for me. Well, to make a long story short, *the demon* came bursting into the library just as I was checking out books at the desk, and he punched John in the face so hard he knocked him down.
The librarian reached for the phone to call the cops (whose precinct was right down the block) and I jumped in my car and got the heck out of there.
I digress, but was pretty cool.

CG overhead
A Canada goose flying over head.
Bug on cherry blossom
Look! A bug!
Lipstick magnolia
The magnolia is this close to bursting forth...doesn't this look like a brand-new tube of lipstick?
Magnolia and dew

Shirley and Penny
And some rat pictures. On the left is Shirley (the shyest one) and Penny on the right (the Momma rat)
I love their little tiny infant hands. With tiny claws.
This is Laverne. She and Shirley are identical, but I can tell them apart by behavior. Shirley doesn't come out to say Hi until Laverne goes first. Laverne is friendly and always ready to run up my sleeve and groom my ears. (Being groomed by a pet rat is a high means they think of you as a large, benevolent rat)
NWF stamps

(This is a sucky to enlarge it)
I found an old sticker book from my younger days, and there was this strip of National Wildlife Federation stamps.
From left to right: Golden-crowned sparrow, American Badger, Owl-clover, and Palm warbler.
I wonder if they are worth anything? They are from the early eighties. Probably not.
But you can sell anything on eBay, right?
I once saw for sale on eBay, a "haunted kitty litter pan".

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring, glorious Spring!

Word of the Day:
roborant \ROB-uh-ruhnt\, adjective:
1. Strengthening; restoring vigor.
2. A strengthening medicine; a tonic; a restorative.

Everywhere I turn, the sights and sounds of Spring are a roborant to my spirit. Thank goodness Spring follows Winter.
We have a pretty juvenile Cooper's Hawk at RAPTOR:

Young Coop
Remember my post about the differences between adults and juveniles?
Here you can really see the vertical adult has orangey horizontal streaking.
And that yellow fierce.
Mad RT
This is a very mad red-tailed hawk. Look at the raised "hackles".
Chickadee inspects the box
Our chickadees are investigating the sunflower nest box all day long now. I have watched a male lead a female to this tree, and they take turns going in and out, in and out.
Wren and wren house
I never expected anyone to nest in this little ceramic box. I just thought it was cute...painted to look like denim. But Carolina wrens have packed it full of straw and stems. If you click on the picture, you can make out one of the wrens in the lower right quadrant. I don't think I have seen any young wrens here...that will be fun to see!
The ugly plant in front is a blankety-blank multiflora rose that refuses to die. I always forget to trim it and dig it up before it gets going in the Spring, and now, I guess I will keep it there to help protect the wrens. I can hardly get near that side of the garage myself.
Cherry blossoms
My weeping cherry tree (a gift from Geoff on my first Mother's Day) is full of delicate, sweet blooms. Oh, yeah.....
My orangy house finch
My orange-tinted house finch is looking so dapper and shiny. I wish he could find more carotenoids, though.
Bad kitty! Bad!
And before Kathi and Rachel start hollering at me, I only let her drink a tiny bit (enough to let me go get my camera) and then took it away. Yes, that's a Samuel Adams glass.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We got everything BUT birds today (Warning...bad language ahead...and it's my blog and I'll cuss if I want to)

Word of the Day:

autochthonous \aw-TOK-thuh-nuhs\, adjective:
1. Aboriginal; indigenous; native.
2. Formed or originating in the place where found

Today, the girls and I drove over to the lovely rolling hills of Indiana to pick up my Mom's dog, Bailey. Mom is heading up to Columbus tomorrow for a hearing regarding my father's estate. Get's a classic case of "Let's go after the poor widow".
My Dad did some work for a company up in Youngstown, Ohio a year before he died. All of you who knew my Dad also knew his work ethic.
"Get it done right".
Well, Dad had to go up there and fix all kinds of stuff that the company kept breaking (they were messing with the machinery and effing it up) When Dad died, Mom got a letter stating that the company was going to SUE MY DAD for work undone.
My Mom, while trying to mourn my father, has had to deal with these evil numb-nuts and their attorneys. Hopefully, this hearing will resolve's been going on for 2 years.
Other people have been messing with my Mom, too. The man who bought my Dad's company before Dad died has abandoned it and owes Mom lots of money, has let her health insurance lapse twice (she had to go get new insurance because of the asshole) and is an all-around dickhead. And there's nothing I can do to help her. I want, very much, to find these pricks and beat the everlovin' shit out of them.

To wash the dirt from your minds, let's look at some flowers:
Yellow Viola

White Viola
Mom's violas...did you know that they are actually perennials? I didn't know that.
Bee on hyacinth
If Mary can take pictures of bees, so can I, by gum!
This photo makes me think of that song...
"Let me tell you 'bout the birds and the bees,
The flowers and the trees..."
If you click on the picture, you can also see a tiny black ant in the upper left corner. I didn't see it until I uploaded.
Wooly Bear
Everyone is starting to wake up from their long winter's nap. This woolly bear was brought to my attention by Isabelle and Lorelei. If you click on this one, you can see one of Isabelle's blond hairs on his back!
Bullfrog Oxbow 032607
We went down to the Oxbow after picking up Bailey. I knew that the water would be high, but I didn't expect this on the road!
If you click on this one, you can see my reflection in his eyes.
Don't get any ideas, big guy. I have my own prince to kiss at home!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A gift from above

I don't know if I can explain what this bird means to me.
Last year, they arrived as an unbelievable and joyful surprise, a life/yard bird at the same time, and became the most successful nesting birds in the yard.
I mourned when they left for the winter, and the hope of their return kept me going through the cold months.
Today, my wait was over.

First TRES of 2007
The first tree swallow of 2007. He swooped happily through the air above me, as my heart did the Snoopy dance.
He was joined by 4 other swallows and he chased them all off. Soon the females will arrive and they will set up housekeeping.
Question for my bird peeps: I have been searching for information about the spacing of tree swallow nests. I seem to recall that 150 feet or more is preferred, but I'm not sure. All I can find is the spacing needed for bluebirds and tree swallows combined. It's too bad that they need so much space...if they nested colonially like purple martins, they would be all set here.
So, who knows the answer to this?
Nellie senses something in the air
Nellie cracks me up. I let her out when the TRES flew away, and though she didn't see them, she acted like something was wrong. Her ears were only half up, and she skulked around the yard, looking up into the sky. She KNEW, SOMEHOW, that they had been there!
Here's a post from last year. Nellie and the TRES go way back.

Robin attacking himself
I watched a robin today defend his territory from himself. This is a side window on our neighbor's house...I may have to give them some advice on how to stop this bird from exhausting himself by trying to kill a figment of his imagination.
Geoff thinks that I am going to march over there and demand they put decals on their window.
No worries, dear husband. I have no plans on alienating our very nice neighbors. But the next time I see them out in their yard, I may mention the robin and ask if he is bothering them.
I noticed later in the day, they had the window open, and the robin was just sitting in the tree, and not attacking.

Bubbles....lots of tiny bubbles...

As Mary stated yesterday, it is SO NICE to be photographing color. The promise of Spring makes Winter bearable, doesn't it?
The backyard red maples are full of tiny flowers that somehow I never really looked at before:

Macro maple flowers

Macro maple 2

Color on the maples
The forsythia is sending little pokey flowers up the stems:
The azalea is thinking really hard about blooming:
Bud on azalea

And I wanted to share a cool little product I got for the girls. Regular bubbles are nice, but I found a bubble solution that makes bubbles that DON'T pop when you touch them!
It's called "Hold-A-Bubble", and I got it at Walgreen's.
It reminds me of the stuff I used to play with many moons ago...that stuff that you would put on the end of a straw and blow into mini-balloons. This solution makes about a trillion bubbles in one blow, and after a few seconds the bubbles harden and you can actually stack them on your hands. They eventually lose air and become little flat sacks.
Even after about 20 minutes, there was still a blanket of bubbles laying on the grass. And in our hair, and on Nellie, and on the trees...
If you know a little kid, or if you are a little kid, get these!

Belle holding bubble

Bubbles stuck on Belle

Kick it!
Nellie was not impressed. She likes bubbles she can bite, not bubbles that stick to her face. She wanted to play ball.
"Kick it, Mom! I wanna run!"
Bubbles on wild onion

Macro bubble
I like this photo. On the left you can see the reflection of the purple martin house, and in the middle you can see me!

And this one is for Swami:
I was returning a part I didn't need back to the dealership (I got my car back!!!!!) and saw this sign for a place that can jazz up your car. Swami likes unusual animals...He has given the girls stuffed animals like "Baby's First Armadillo" and "Baby's First Weasel" (Where does he FIND these things?)
Speed Weasels