Saturday, June 30, 2007

Remembering why

IMG_4791Green Spider

Tonight, I had a date with my husband.
The in-laws took the girls for the night, and Geoff and I saw "1408".
Pretty good movie, if you want to wet your pants every 2.5 minutes.
Plus, it's one of those horror movies that make you think and feel.

It's always such a nice surprise to go out with my hubby and be adults. Well, we are adults when the kids are around, but it's different when it's just us. We remember what it's like to talk about subjects that do not include "Little Bear", "Dora the Explorer", Jell-O or "Why is the sky blue?".
We remember why we liked each other in the first place, to get us here, to remembering.

Even if you aren't married, you can get the same feeling when you reconnect with an old friend, laughing and trying not to wet yourself during a funny story that only they can tell.

Like Shannon.
Shannon has been my best friend since 1983. Fifth grade.
We met in Fourth grade, but we didn't like each other. She was a goody-two-shoes who wore matching purple oxford shirts with matching purple sweaters with matching purple corduroy pants, and I was a make-up-wearing, bra-training smart ass. The next year, we were in the same class, we forgot why we didn't like each other and so began our "Best Friendship".
For most of our friendship, she and I have lead parallel lives...whether it be boyfriends and how they treated us, or situations that we found ourselves in, it all ran together. In high school, teachers forgot which one was which, and frequently called us by each other's names.
The parallel lives began to diverge, but we have so much in common, and we have so many differences, we are fated to be friends till the end of time.
She is going through a very awful time right now, and she needs good vibes. So even though you don't know her, send up a good thought for a wonderful woman who is a kick-ass mother to an adorable boy, who is a kick-ass girlfriend to your truly, who has integrity and smarts and a kick-ass work ethic (she works 60 hours a week, and still manages to take college courses and be a good mom!), and who is dearly loved by so many people. Her only mistake was trusting someone who shouldn't have been trusted. And we have all done that.
Love you, Shannon! Keep that chin up.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Achy, but alive

I feel a little bit better today. At least I wasn't ready to lay down and die.
Some random pics...because it's not like I was capable of birding or anything:

Pale robin
This neighborhood robin needs a tan...a bit on the pale side, don'tcha think?
frittilary or emperor or something
A frittilary, or an emperor...oh Hell with it. It's a butterfly.
Question mark butterfly
A Question Mark...see the mark?
Perfect blue bug
The most perfect little BLUE bug, resting on my marigolds.
Tiny white flowers in the yard
A lot of this is growing in the yard. And it's not so much that we need to mow the grass, but mow the WEEDS.

And now, for a touch of absolute cuteness:
Baby possum
A baby possum.
When I first saw it, I thought one of the girls had dropped a stuffed animal in the yard, then it moved. Is that not the most precious thing you have ever seen?
We have adult possums that come out at night to clean up all the spilled seeds under the feeder, but this is the first time we have seen young. I walked outside to get a better picture, and he/she toddled off a lot faster than I thought it could. I wondered if it was old enough to do that "fall over and die" routine.
If it's eating solid food, I guess it's old enough to be out on it's own, but I worry...
Geoff said it came back later, and there are plenty of food items out there for it. Grapes, peanuts, seeds, pesticide-free grubs and worms, so it's offspring needn't worry about having three eyes or horns.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I'm not usually sick. But something got a hold of me a few days ago.
I woke up on Monday with some bites on my legs, the back of my knees, and a few other places. They itched for a day and then I forgot about them. Then my neck got a bit stiff. I thought it was just the recurring neck pain I get from a car accident back in 1993.

This morning, I woke up feeling like I had pulled every muscle in my body. I took a nice, hot shower, which did nothing for the pain.
I made it downstairs to the couch and that's where I have been the whole day. Ibuprofen helps a little. I did some research online, and since I don't have a fever (if I do, it's slight) or shaking chills, I can wait until tomorrow to see if I need to see a doctor.
I'm assuming it was a spider, since the welts don't match any other kind of bite or sting.

I am the luckiest woman in the world, though. Geoff, since he works at home, was able to take care of the girls and me today. I felt guilty all day, knowing that he has deadlines to meet, but he said he didn't mind. In sickness and in health.

I love you Geoff....because.

Off to take some more ibuprofen and maybe a cocktail of muscle relaxers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Starring Susan....

It's not often that I get pictures of myself during programs.
One woman scheduled three different programs with me (Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Home-Schoolers) so I have been seeing a lot of her lately. Tonight, she gave me a CD of pictures from last week's Girl Scout camp:

I was standing in a sea of cute Girl Scouts.
"You just pooped on my shoe."
I love Lucy.
People ask me all the time, "Do the birds love you?"
I have to say no...I think they tolerate us. They trust us this much, but that's where it ends.
If I didn't do the "RAPTOR" thing, I would love to get into falconry. Peregrines are absolutely fascinating.
Education time:
If you fly falcons, you are a "falconer".
If you fly hawks, you are a "austringer".

The Book of St. Albans provides the hierarchy of who could fly what (the spellings are not mine):
1) Emperor: The Eagle and Merloun
2) King: The Ger Falcon and the Tercel of the Ger Falcon
3) Prince: The Falcon Gentle and the Tercel Gentle
4) Duke: The Falcon of the Loch
5) Earl: The Falcon Peregrine
6) Baron: The Busard (Could mean "buzzard' or "bastard hawk")
7) Knight: The Sacre and the Sacret
8) Esquire: The Lanere and the Laneret
9) Lady: The Marlyon (They mean "merlin")
10) Young Man: The Hobby
11) Yeoman: The Goshawk
12) Poor Man: The Jercel (might be slang for "no hawk", since a poor man couldn't afford one)
13) Priest: The Sparrowhawk
14) Holy Water Clerk: The Musket
15) Knave or Servant: The Kestrel

And now you know.
Elvis...good ol' Elvis. One wing works, the other one not so much.
(Showing why they are called BARRED owls.)
And some more attitude.
And here he is giving me attitude again.
Barred owls have such a human face, don't they? And he works it like a diva.
He is getting to be a favorite of mine. He looks huge, doesn't he? Well, it's all feathers.
And attitude.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I'm sweaty. And it's humid. And I don't like it.

It was hot and humid and I didn't leave the house today except to flush out the brown sludge that has developed in the fountain.
I kept busy by repotting house plants, doing laundry, cleaning anything I could find, just to keep from going outside.
The girls are pretty good at amusing themselves, but...
This is what happens when you let them pick out their own clothes.

When you let them dress themselves
Plaid, stripes and polka-dots. Oh, dear.
And sine the birds were hot, too, there was very little activity at the feeders, so I was taking pictures of random things in the house:
I started collecting cobalt glass a few years ago, but as so many things do, it sort of fell by the wayside...and this is all I have.
But I cleaned the shelves!
And I hand-painted those stars, I might add. The kitchen is sunny yellow, with royal blue accents. Happy, happy!

Pitcher, hyacinth bean, and fake sunflowers
On top of the pantry:
An aluminum pitcher that belonged to my Grandma, a piece of pottery from the in-laws holding a hyacinth bean plant, and some fake sunflowers in a rattan vase. The hyacinth bean is a really interesting plant, and the vine can climb to 10 feet. But since I don't want it outside, I will have to continue to build larger and larger trellises to keep up with it.

Fish chimes
Whenever Mom goes on a trip and we watch her dog, she brings back a wind chime as a thank-you. This is one of many.
The poinsettia is still alive
The poinsettia that I bought last Christmas is still alive! I can't believe it. I jazzed up the pot with stones and shells, just for kicks.

When it finally cooled off enough this evening, I went out to check on the plants...
Wide variety of wildflowers
The patch of wildflowers the girls and I planted is really taking off, even though the rain has been lacking. All that I can recognize so far is marigolds, cosmos...and that's it. There are some broad-leafed things, and some soft, lamb's-ear-looking things, too. And some stuff that is tall and thin and frosted.

Bunny with a white forehead spot
We have a bunny hanging around that has a little white spot on his/her forehead...awww.
Finally got some bee balm
Finally! The bee balm is blooming!
Wet beetle
And the Japanese beetles are eating like it's going out of style.
See how it's holding up its legs? That's a defense pose. Ugly little buggers.
Did you know that they were first seen in the country, in NEW JERSEY, in 1916?
Whatever it is, it's finally blooming
Laura thought this might be coral honeysuckle, but I compared it to some photos, and I don't think that's it. It finally opened up, and the flowers are star-shaped. The leaf veins are red, if that helps anyone. And it's not a vine, but an upright, woody plant. I wish I had the list of flowers I got that day...
Well, anyway. It's blooming and it's pretty.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Reality is a weird thing.
Geoff has been thinking/planning/dreaming/writing this book for 10 years.
And today, we got the first copies:

Geoff's book 1

Geoff's book 2
A real book, with a real cover, and real words, on real paper.
I took about 20 pictures of it.
Look out world! Here comes Geoff!

Yesterday was the reunion for Geoff's Italiano side.
And though the 'original' generation are small, dark-haired women who cook pasta, I have noticed that the newest generation is decidedly blonder.
Lorelei and little cousin
Rachel brought an egg that was passed on to her from a client at her vet's office.
As far as I can tell, it's probably a Cooper's hawk egg. The pictures didn't capture the true color of the egg...more of a putty/very very pale green color, with very faint brownish spots.
Coop egg

Coop egg 2

Something is eating my sunflower leaves....
Bugs on my sunflowers

2007's first sunflower
And speaking of sunflowers: 2007's first sunflower at Williams Manor. And it's 8 feet tall.

Regarding yesterday's post about the mystery "crying baby" call....anyone have an opinion about a blue jay or mockingbird doing an excellent imitation of a baby?

A quiz:
Which of these things doesn't belong?
Which one of these doesn't belong

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Birding with a real birder

I got the pleasure of birding this morning with Kathi....and Holly. It is always nice to go birding with someone who actually knows what she is doing.
Not a very birdy day, though. I choose not to blame Kathi for that.

I got a better shot of this pretty frog, Kathi! Neener.
May I help you
"May I help you?"
This is an indigo bunting. I swear.
Ivory bills in Ohio
As Kathi says on her post for today, a very industrious pileated woodpecker made a huge hole in this poor, hole-ridden tree. Either that, or we have Ivory-Billeds.
A very good place to nest
Kathi really knows the CNC. I have walked behind the Visitor Center a zillion times, and never noticed this brilliant nesting spot for phoebes. A light fixture near the ceiling of a stairwell, with no way for a predator to get to it. Smart birds. They nest here every year.
Baby phoebe
"I am a small, helpless baby phoebe. Feed me."

Here's a mystery for everyone...Kathi and I heard a very, very weird bird call (we are assuming it's a bird). When we heard it we looked at each other, and said in unison, "What the bloody hell...?"

After birding, Kathi and I went our separate ways, and I stopped over at the new RAPTOR property to do a quick drive-by of the property.
RAPTORs pretty prairie
This is where the new parking lot is going to be. It was bush-hogged last summer, and now it's full of grasses, ironweed, and my new favorite plant, MILKWEED.
Some sort of frittilary
This is just one of many butterflies in the meadow. Some sort of frittilary.
Can't remember the name
I turned my library books in last week, so I can't easily look this up. I have seen this plant in field guides, but can't remember the name!

Bug on milkweed
The milkweed is teeming with insect life.
Yummy milkweed and an aphid
If you look closely, you can see an aphid on the flower!
Clearwing moth on milkweed
This is what got me jumping silently...a clearwing moth! Another thing I have seen in field guides, but not in real life. There were loads of this cute little guys buzzing around. Yes, they buzz, just like a hummingbird.
Not very birdy here, either. I did hear a catbird, though.

Milkweed is perfection. It smells good, it has intricate flowers, and it is the host plant for Monarchs and their relatives, moths, beetles and true bugs. And it is beneficial to nearby plants, because it repels pest insects, like wireworms.
Guess who will be gathering milkweed seeds this year?
And fellow RAPTORites: Be prepared to see me chained to the milkweed when the time comes to make the parking lot. We are saving these plants. They would make very nice islands between the parking spots.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

If you love something, set it free

One of our "baby" rats, Shirley, has had some medical problems lately. She developed a huge mammary tumor, very common in female domestic rats.
I had two options:
1. Surgery.
2. Wait until it begins to bother her, then put her down.
With surgery, there are lots of risks, especially with rats. They are small, and can be tricky to put under. Then there's the fact that the tumor would return.
With waiting, it would be up to me to decide when she had had enough.
You can probably guess which option I chose.

Shirley 062307
Here is our last picture of Shirley. You can see the mass under her front leg. It had begun to drag when she walked, and she was no longer able to climb and play like
a normal, one-year-old rat.
RAPTOR recently installed a CO2 chamber, so we could perform our own euthanasia. Melinda was good enough to do this difficult thing for me today. I explained my decision to the girls (we do NOT shield them from the hard stuff, like death) and this morning, before taking Shirley to RAPTOR, the girls had a chance to kiss Shirley and say goodbye.
The CO2 process is very 20% CO2, it has an anesthesia effect, gently putting the animal to sleep painlessly, and then stops the breathing and pulse.
Thanks, Melinda.

Shirley's resting place
Here is Shirley's resting place..right next to Huey. Anyone remember Huey?
It was Isabelle's idea to get a rock and inscribe Shirley's name, and she also added a picture of Shirley on the stone.

Just a year and a week ago....
one day old baby
Here's Shirley at one day old...
baby rat and lorelei 6 days old
...and a week old...
me and 6 day old babies
Rats only live for 3-5 years, at best. One year was not enough for us.

To put my heart in a happier place, we went to a local church festival for a few rides.
If you get vertigo easily, maybe you shouldn't watch this...Isabelle could have ridden this ride alone, but I felt the need to tag along. Those are my shoes in the foreground: