Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What a difference a day makes!

There was a little blip in the serenity here, known as Memorial Day weekend, where jetskis outnumbered ducks. Things are back to normal now.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The antique wood boats had their own little Memorial Day parade.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A book and a couch are enough.
A book and a couch and a chihuahua (or two) are more.
---- A slightly modified version of Ms. Frizzle's 4/4/2004 post

Friday, May 27, 2005

Pippa's self appointed task in December of 2003 was to "help" me write Christmas cards - her little body stretching and squishing as she gripped the pen while it moved.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The glass is half full

Sometimes our little Pup2 is so easy to please - As always, when I bring up a basket filled with warm laundry, Pup1 hops in and hunkers down beneath the softest items. As always, Pup2 rummages through looking for a toy, because every once in awhile I do put some through the laundry (although these days, it seems that they are much more likely to be reduced to fur and stuffing and thrown in the garbage long before they get dirty).
Anyway, today - no toy, but she was very excited anyway - a yellow work glove was good enough for her.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I know summer is almost here when "fun" boats like this travel by our dock in the evening.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Every once in awhile something frightens the birds in my aviary, causing them to fly violently into the walls and windows. When this happens multiple times in one day, it usually means just one thing - a hawk! Typically I then try to chase the offending predator away by lobbing stones at him as he stares down at me from his "birds eye view" perch. The hawk is never in any danger during this activity, because although I once played a halfway decent first base, I "threw like a girl" and still do.
Today was a little different - three "freak out" incidents in the aviary, but we could not find the cause. After the fourth time, I finally found him in a tree just outside the aviary window. A little screech owl this time, not a hawk. To me he looked small and adorable. Finches must see him differently.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The mallards

Each spring our pair of "pet" mallard ducks begin their daily visits. We named them Hale and Bopp, after the comet. Sometime in the early summer, they usually stop making their daily visits, just to return later in the summer to show off their new family. This is a photo of Bopp with the 2004 kids.
This year I'm quite sure we have a new Hale and Bopp. New Hale and Bopp won't come within 10 feet of us. Old Hale and Bopp would eat out of our hands, and if we didn't wander outside with food whenever they quacked, they would waddle up onto our deck and tap at the back door. And I'm not making this up - if we didn't come to the back door when they tapped, they would waddle off the deck, around the garage and tap at the front door.

This year we also have a third duck who visits - a lone male that I named Davy. And although I've trained him to eat from my hand, I haven't yet trained him to do it gently, which is why I wear the glove.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

When we retired and moved from upstate New York to North Carolina, I had all kinds of plans that haven't really materialized. I would have a vegetable garden (organic, of course) and freeze or can ("putting them up", I think they call it down here) enough veggies to last through the winter, and I would have an herb garden, and I would pick seasonal berries and make jam.
A funny thing about gardening - the plants need sun, lots of it, which our tree filled lot didn't allow, so after a few years of less-than-stellar results, my garden now consists of two tomato plants in big clay pots on our dock. My herb garden is usually one basil plant in a pot and an out-of-control mint plant.
And here's my method for homemade jam: each time we visit my parents "up north", I return my empty jam jars to Mom and pull some full ones from her freezer. Yesterday I picked 11 pounds of strawberries and still don't plan to make any jam. Strawberry shortcake for all friends and family who visit this summer, though!
I found the NC strawberry farm that I patronized yesterday to be a kinder, gentler version of the upstate NY farm that I remember from my childhood. Back then, we were assigned a row and we were scolded if we didn't pick every ripe or nearly-ripe berry in our row, no matter how small. Yesterday the instructions were "Pick anywhere you like - if you head "over yonder" almost to that trailer over there, you should find some big "purty" ones." She was right.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Years ago, my husband and I saw a custom painted pickup truck that changed colors depending on the angle from which it was viewed. Looking at it from the front, the color appeared green. Looking at it from the back, the truck appeared purple. We were amazed by this color-shifting paint job.
But tonight I realized that this was not ground breaking new technology. God did it a long time ago with the heads of mallard ducks. As Davey swam back in forth in front of me this evening, I watched his head color change from green to purple and back to green, depending on how the sunlight shone on him.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I spent some time in the aviary today snapping photos - Could he be any prettier ???

Friday, May 06, 2005

Today was just the latest in a string of way-to-cold-for-this-time-of-year-in-North-Carolina days. The perfect day to be amazed by and laugh at the antics of our little pet, Daytona. For the third year in a row, Daytona is building a nest on our fireplace mantle behind our neice's photo. In the past, his building materials have been dead plant material that he yanks off our houseplants, pieces of yarn that he yanks out of an afghan, and hair that he yanks out of my head. But today his carpentry skills took on a whole new dimension - TISSUES! After we watched him fly up there (with much difficulty) carrying a whole tissue, we took pity on him and spread tissue pieces all over the place. And he spent all afternoon transporting them around. Not all of them made it to his nest. He seemed just as happy to fly around with them.
If you want to read more about Daytona,
Click here

This is what his nest looked like at the end of the day.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The wrens

This is what my Christmas cactus looked like last November. Now, it's just as big, but no flowers and it's sitting outside on our deck.

The last two summers it was the nesting place for a pair of Carolina wrens where each year they raised 2 clutches of 4 babies. My husband and I really enjoyed watching the babies grow and the parents enjoyed the mealworms that I put out for them each morning and evening. We are hoping that they will nest here again this summer.
I had a conversation with my sister yesterday, who is so not-a-bird-person. A few weeks ago she had called to tell me that there were noises in the walls of the house they had just bought, and she thought it was birds, because she's seen a bunch hanging around.
My husband thought it was more likely squirrels or mice, but she called back today to say that it was definitely birds. She has found the hole where they are flying in (carrying nest building materials).
She discovered this by hanging her head out the window and watching the birds until they flew into the hole, and it was only due to the fact that her storm window was made of lightweight plastic rather than something more substantial, that she wasn't
beheaded when the window came slamming down on her neck like a guillotine.
Who knew that the "sport" of bird watching could be so dangerous?
Sister: "Do you think if I put moth balls in there, it would keep them out??
Me: "No, I think it would kill them - I think you should call the Cooperative Extension to see what they suggest."
Me: "What kind of birds are they?" (I don't even know why I asked this, because the chances are close to zero that she would be able to identify them unless they were something as obvious as a robins or a crows.
Sister: "I don't know" (big surprise). "You know that cartoon of that little blue bird that looks grouchy???"
Me: "No, I don't"
Sister: "Well, they look like that, except they aren't blue. They're small and short and squatty and brown."
Well, with me at one end of the line leafing through my Audobon bird book, and her at the other end of the line describing them to me as she watched them, we tentatively came to the conclusion they they are probably house wrens.
Sister: "Well, I'd better get off the phone, I have work to do"
Me: "Don't forget to call the Cooperative Extension - TODAY, before they start laying eggs. I don't want another call in 3 weeks with you asking "What am I going to do about these baby birds in my wall?"
But what I really don't understand is why she doesn't just let them live there.... I would.