Sunday, July 30, 2006

What a weekend

I had a weekend full of RAPTOR. Saturday morning, a bunch of us volunteers pitched in to help clean the house at the RAPTOR center. The house used to be a park ranger's station way back in the day, and now it is rented out to tenants who have the responsibility of feeding the birds every day. Well, the most recent tenants were, shall we say, less than clean? Or maybe I should say, had an aversion to cleaning? Or maybe I should say downright dirty slobs??? I saw it after it was halfway clean and I was still grossed out. The people who saw it immediately after the renters moved out said that it looked like in the two years that they lived there, the renters NEVER CLEANED ANYTHING. Case in point: The carpet made clouds when walked over...there were piles of dead bugs upstairs...It took Andi 2 hours to clean the bathroom...It took me 3 hours to clean the kitchen...The ceiling in the bedroom was falling down and had to be completely ripped out...Had enough? One more: there were mouse droppings in the KITCHEN DRAWERS.
Okay, on to brighter things.
Last night, I released a screech owl (see previous post)
Today, I got to be "Vanna White" with some birds at a program. Dave, the current education director did the talking and I held the birds. Oh, and on a related note: Earl is no longer my favorite. Dave asked which bird I wanted to load into the car first, and of course I said "Earl!". When I went in to get her, she was okay, but as I grabbed the jesses, she started attacking my hands (I had gloves on, but she freaked me out regardless). I got her back on a perch and Dave retrieved her. I went on to the kestrel (easy) and the Great Horned Owl (Sylvester, also easy...who comes up with the names for these birds?)
The program today was at Bass Pro Shops. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a store full of stuff for hunting, fishing, hiking, outdoorsy things. A great store, if you're into those things.

RAPTOR has a nifty new sign for presentations. If you look closely, you can see some folks who have become my favorite people. :-)

Bass Pro is full of interesting objects, like stuffed and mounted deer, quail, fish and this eerie stuffed possum...
...which is hanging directly above these stuffed, headless children. Fun store.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

RAPTOR release

I got the privilege of releasing a screech owl that had been rehabilitated at RAPTOR, Inc.
I just had to take Isabelle with me, because how often does a kid get to see this?
The owl was very interested in Isabelle.

We didn't get any photos of him flying away, because the little bugger got away from me. If that had been a program bird, that would have been tragic, but of course this was a release, and he was more than ready to go.
He cooperated quite well, once he got away from us. He sat in a nearby tree and watched us watch him.
Thanks to RAPTOR, Inc, another bird of prey is out in the world where he belongs.
Live long and prosper, little guy!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bug walking and a vulture speck

My good friend Kim invited the girls and myself to an "Insect Jamboree" at Woodland Mound Park today. The rain was a downer, but the kids still had fun. They each got a cup with a beetle in it to observe, a nice lady read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", we went on a scavenger hunt in the Nature Center, they got to drink "bug juice" and we stepped outside for a 5-minute bug hunt. Nice, and okay for $3, but I think that the girls could have learned more just by walking out our back door and turning over some rocks.

The kids also got to do a craft, thankfully with no glue. If you will let me brag about my kid for a minute: Isabelle could have been the Bug Lady for this little program...she has every insect in her field guide memorized. And to recap: She's FOUR.
(Yes, Lorelei's name is spelled wrong on her she destined to always have to spell her name for people?)
Aidan with his fancy butterfly
Maura didn't make a craft...her job is to sit and be cute. A job she does well.
Okay, my token bird picture for the day: See the speck to the right of the lightpole? That's a turkey vulture. In my defense, I was driving at 65 mph in heavy rush hour traffic. I really need to do some serious birding...and I need a scope. (See Bill of the Birds' post about his trip to Africa) I could be getting great pics like that.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"These shoes are made for birding, and that's just what they'll do..."

No matter how much I love Keen shoes, I can't justify paying close to $100 for any shoe.
So when I found these knock-offs at Payless for $20, I did a little dance.
They're comfortable, don't hurt my heel, have tread...I love 'em.
***I would, of course, accept any Keen's that were a gift***

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rats, guppies and yuppies

I haven't been able to get any great photos of birds lately. No field trips or serendipitous meetings in the yard. So we have rats, guppies and yuppies.

The rat twins, Laverne and Shirley, love to hang out (literally) on the top perch with Penny.

The fish tank was so empty looking, we went and got some guppies. 2 males and 3 more females. Maybe we can finally get some babies.

This car was in front of me as we zipped along Montgomery Rd. (For those outside the Cincinnati area, Montgomery is one of the uppity places to live)

I couldn't believe this license plate on this car. If it had been on a Pinto, it would have been funny and I would have appreciated the humor of it. But "AWFUL" on a Lexus?

"Oh, yeah, dude. It sucks to be you."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

For those of you who DON'T read Geoff's blog... don't know what you are missing! That man cracks me up!

What I am reading now

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

I am not blog-savvy enough to do a nice little sidebar for this like Laura has. I started reading this today, and for awhile I forgot about the's that good.

My crop of corn for the entire year.

I only planted 5 corn plants this year, since I'm a novice (hence my vile lettuce). Three corn plants grew up to reproduce, and here's what we got:

The two on the left are a good size; not as big as what you can get in the store, but I grew it, dammit! The one on the right was the closest to the AC unit and got blown around alot.
(Note to self: Don't plant anything around the AC unit next year)
I thought that the AC unit would benefit from some shade, since it's on the south side of the house and stays hot all summer. Oh well.
The little one had maybe 6 kernels on the whole cob. It's pretty funny when you think about it.

The husks and silk went into the compost. Oops, looks like I accidently threw some rat toys in there with some bedding. I don't do much with the compost, and we haven't removed any fresh compost to put on the garden. I started the compost when I read that 30% of landfills are garden and kitchen waste. Please, if you like me at all, don't throw your organic waste in the trash! This modest little compost pile is about 3 feet square and it has saved numerous square feet of stinky landfill.

Nellie REALLY wanted some corn. I put the corn cob to her nose for her to smell it and she tried to take it away from me! So I pulled off some kernels and let her have them.

Corn...who knew?

One of my tiny gardens, out next to the driveway.

In this bed: Left, rhododendron azalea.

Middle, honeysuckle that I have been slashing at for years

Right two, creeping phlox (pink and lavender)

Right background, Blue fescue

And of course no flower bed is complete without a statue of a dog carrying a purse.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dry Run

Well, I had my first pick up call for RAPTOR tonight. Some folks had found a red-tailed hawk juvenile. After 45 minutes of looking in the dark (and thick woods) I gave up and told them to come back out in the morning and if they found it to put a box over it and call me.
So, it was a nice dry run, anyway!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I was reading Nature Woman today, and feeling sorry for her poison ivy woes. And I thought about all the weeds and miscellaneous plants growing wild around the house, and I wanted to go see if anything resembled poison ivy.
Anyone know if this is it???

The seventh mouse to be relocated to Indiana. I guess this could go on indefinitely if I don't find where they are coming in. Cute, but not welcome in the basement.

Since I consider myself a birder, and consider this a birding blog (sort of) I tried to get some pictures of a bird to put on here. A not-great pic of two Carolina Chickadees:

My in-laws have placed their new Christopher Walden print over their fireplace.

(The top bird is an American Kestrel; the bird about to be eaten is a Bobwhite)

Hope this doesn't turn out like the lettuce. Our first blackberry of the season. I planted this just for the birds, really, but if they leave us some, I could feasibly whip up a cobbler.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

Death of a Frappuchino

This was so traumatic, I had to blog about it.
Those of you who know me personally know how much I love Frappuchinos from Starbucks.
I got one today, and as I pulled into traffic, I picked up my drink...
*eerie music here*
The lid came off in my hand, and half of the drink landed on the steering wheel, floor, windshield and my lap.
Good thing the girls were sleeping in the back, because I ran through my repertoire of bad words. I began to frantically search for something to clean up with...
But I had cleaned out the car before we left, and of course I took out all the towels, clothes and other articles that would have been useful in this situation.
The cream landed on the floor between my feet.

To remove this mess from my lap and steering wheel, I had some baby wipes and one of Lorelei's socks. The effect was disappointing.
Also the cup was covered in goop from me trying to juggle it after the spill, so I searched again for something to contain it so I wouldn't make any more of a mess.
My solution:

A diaper.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I mean unthinking of me!

So sorry, dear readers. I realized that I haven't posted any rat pictures in a long time. Won't happen again.

The babies are indentical now. I have no idea who is who. This is either Laverne or Shirley...take your pick.


Nic needs a personal trainer. He's getting way too fat for a rat. (Echos of Huey) So I have been making sure he gets exercise every day, while the cats aren't down here mouse-catching.

So there ya go...your rat fix is satisfied.


Toys, toys, toys

While shopping for a birthday gift for my godson Jake, the girls tried out some of the merchandise.

I didn't know they had beds at Toys 'R' Us!

If we only had the room for this sweet little "grand" piano...

The girls love anything with the front of the store, they climbed into one of the "kiddie" Jeeps and asked me to buy it. Sure, let me get out $400 and blow it on a toy.

I do love toy stores...I didn't, until I had kids. Yeah, everything is too expensive, everything has a favorite character on it, most of the stuff is designed to make kids sit on their butts all day...

Except for what I bought today. Lorelei got a LeapFrog magnetic letter/phonics thing, with each letter as a magnet (she loves to rearrange the magnets on the fridge anyway) and a little box that says the letter and what sound it makes. She hasn't stopped playing with it. And her little voice is so cute as she sings the Alphabet song.

Isabelle got a "Planet Frog" habitat. It is like the butterfly habitat we got her for Christmas. We send away for leopard frog tadpoles, and we get to watch them grow up!

Yes, sometimes we get them toys that are just for fun (kids gotta play!) but we try hard to enrich them when we can. With Isabelle, we pulled all the stops, reading to her constantly, exposing her to letters, colors, shapes while she was still a baby: She knew the whole alphabet at 18 months, thank you very much.

With Lorelei, things are a little different...the second child sometimes gets the short end of the stick. But she is learning, late or not, and that's all that matters.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Anyone want my salad?

The lettuce was less than delicious. I don't know if it's something I did with growing it, or if it's just the taste of that particular lettuce species.
Bitter, not crunchy the way fresh iceberg is...gross. Geoff didn't even eat it, and that man will usually choke down anything I fix him.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lettuce pray

I am rather proud of myself. I have successfully grown my own food. It's quite a rush.

I don't remember what kind of lettuce this is, but it sure is pretty! (Laura, help me out...know what this is?)
Trixie approves.
Only one lettuce plant survived all this heat, so Geoff and I will enjoy a small but homegrown salad tomorrow night.

A window into my day

Lorelei loves to help Geoff take out the garbage.

The marsh is home to at least two frogs. Gotta line the thing, though. The only reason there's water in there is because it rained hard today.

Sunflowers are so happy-looking...but the one on the end, the one that fell a few days ago, looks like it's giving up the ghost. Or maybe the goldfinches are just being brutal.

This is Aidan, son of our very good friends Mike and Kim. Aidan is three now. Where does the time go? (The cake was made of ice cream...yum)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Birdchick has quoted me! I feel so special!

She's had some bad luck...this post is worth the read.

Bird chasing and satanic cats

While running errands without the kids today, I saw what must be the largest red-tailed hawk in the world. It was just off the expressway, so I had to park off the on-ramp to check it out. And all I got was this really bad picture.

Yesterday, Geoff alerted me to a "weird" bird outside. It was a blue gray gnatcatcher. Life bird!
(Photo by Greg W. Lasley)

Female hummingbird

Male hummingbird

Buddha was peeking through a rather large hole in the curtain and I had to get a shot of it. He looks so evil...very unlike his nature.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Helping Mom's bluebirds

Mom's having trouble with her bluebirds, too. Some eggs disappeared from one of the nest boxes, so I brought over my nice, baffled pole and box.

Old nest box

New nest box and baffle

Bad shot of Mom's hydrangea