Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chippers and Hummers

A high point of the long weekend at Hasty was a visit from Deb at Sand Creek Almanac and her sweet daughter Starflower. I hadn't seen them since last winter when Ruthie and I stopped by for a visit on our way home from the Sax-Zim Bog Festival of Birds. We spent a few hours sipping cool drinks, sitting in the shade and watching the chipmunks and pine siskins at the feeders. The chipmunks were entertaining and full of attitude.
Now you see me...
now you don't...

I was thrilled to finally see a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird stop for a sip.

Eventually the male zipped in!
Before they left we walked down the road to the bridge that crosses Hasty Brook. I got a chance to ask Deb about some wildflowers I'd seen growing along the road and creek. Fire weed, swamp milkweed and joe-pye weed. She even helped me out with the names of some of the fruit-bearing bushes- gray dogwood and service berry!
Thank you for the lupine seeds and for driving up to see Hasty Brook Deb and Starflower. Let's do that bonfire when the cool weather comes in the fall.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A New Yard Bird at Hasty Brook

We got up to Hasty Brook last Thursday afternoon, set up the campsite and explored. We had some of the best hamburgers EVER on the grill outside and had just settled into the camper before dark for reading and movies as the breeze was non-existent, the humidity was high and the mosquitoes were eating us alive. Art glanced out the window down the driveway and at first thought he saw grouse walking up the drive toward the campsite. Then he sat bolt upright and hissed "turkeys!!" Either they heard him or they realized that the clearing was now inhabited by people, but they turned around and started trotting away. I quickly grabbed my camera but the photos were horrible- the camera couldn't focus through the screen. I was so disappointed at the pictures but excited to add these cool birds to the Hasty yard list! Later in the weekend when driving back to the campsite from Duluth John very quietly said "Oh, look. There's those turkeys in the tree." Huh? I made Art stop and make a u-turn, back up some more and there they were- perched in a birch! They wobbled and teetered in the branches looking like they'd fall to the ground any minute! I didn't think turkeys lived this far north in Minnesota.
Beautiful new yard bird.
The meeting went well with the septic designer on Friday. There is a site that complies with the creek set-back where a septic system can be built. Since that site is not a good building site, the we are hopeful we will get the variance to build at our campsite. Knowing he has given us a favorable recommendation for the septic site has made us hopeful.
We're past the first hurdle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hasty Brook from the Sky

Aerial view of Hasty Brook

Our purchase of ten additional acres is complete! Last winter we looked in to the county tax records to find out who owned the ten acre parcel to out south and wrote the owners asking if they were interested in selling. We receive a reply in a week stating that they were eager to sell. Part of the reason we wanted that land was that we were hoping it would give us enough room for a building site for a cabin. There is a county set-back requirement of 150 feet from the creek and as you can see, Hasty Brook curves around quite a bit making the set-back a difficulty.

Our land is the top half of this 40 acre section.

We are headed up to Hasty Brook Wednesday evening through the weekend. On Friday we will be meeting with a septic designer who will make a recommendation on where (if) we can put in a septic system. In the above photo you can see that the creek bisects the property and we have no road access to the land east of the creek. The area inside the loop of the creek in the northwest part of the photo is where we currently have our road and clearing for the camper. This is where we would like to build. Since that loop falls within the 150 foot set-back area we will have to apply for a variance. A variance hearing requires lots of paper work and no small amount of money- all with no guarantees. I'm trying not to be discouraged. Please wish us luck!

I'm anxious to see what's blooming up there. Hopefully I'll be able to get some more pictures of the ferns, trees and wildflowers and continue with my project of cataloging the flora of Hasty Brook. I'll bring along a bag of birdseed to fill the empty feeders. I've taken the feeders down the last few times we've visited because of the bear damage but it doesn't seem to take the birds long to find the buffet once the feeders are refilled and hung! We'll most likely spend one afternoon in Duluth- my favorite city. The kids always look forward to a trip to a store called The Electric Fetus. They are an independent music store that carries an incredible variety of music plus some clothes and accessories that my kids really like. I bought my last favorite CD by Emmylou Harris there. So I hope the weather is nice so we can get some work done and do some relaxing too. We'll have extra chairs around the bonfire and I make pretty good s'mores. The cooler will be stocked- Malibu Rum and OJ, iced tea, Irish whiskey. We've even been known to make fruit smoothies! So if you're in the neighborhood, stop over!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just for Chuckles

Check out this link for a short video.
It cracked me up!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I'm Trying to Catch Up!

Sometimes I feel like this guy- stuffing my cheeks, trying to get everything done. It's all ready coming up on two weeks ago since Matt and Linda from Pennsylvania stopped in at Hasty Brook for a visit during their vacation. I have to say first, that I was so flattered that they wanted to see our place. Art and I waited Sunday morning, talking about the visitors to come, wondering if they'd see what we see in Hasty Brook. We don't have much in the way of amenities, a cramped camper. We wouldn't be able to invite them in, but really, to see Hasty is to be outside. When they pulled up the driveway there were greetings all around (except for the teens who slept through all of it!). Eventually we all sat in the camp chairs in the shade of the awning. It was a beautiful morning, mild temperature, low humidity and quite breezy. The mosquitoes weren't even that bad! We chatted for a few hours outside, watching the birds and butterflies. Sadly I never took a picture of Matt and Linda at Hasty. In fact the chipmunk was the ONLY picture I took that weekend. We did see both a female Red-breasted Grosbeak and a female Purple Finch. Even though I know better, I still confuse them. The Goldfinches were definitely the birds of the day. There were gobs of them hanging off the feeders.
Too soon it was time for the long "Minnesota good-bye". Up here we're known for for our looong talking, waving, "good-bye! good-bye!", waving some more, more "good-bye" until they've turned the corner out of sight! Art and I both feel we've made two good friends in Matt and Linda. They've invited us to visit if we ever get to their area and we both feel comfortable in saying that we would.
Thanks for the spitters Linda and Matt! They were gone within the day!
On to critters around home.
Last November my sister Phyllis was having a really hard time dealing with our Mom's passing. She was terribly lonely. Phyllis and Mom would talk on the phone many, many times a day and there was a horrible gap in Phyllis' life with Mom gone that none of us were able to fill. One of her doctors suggested Phyllis get a pet. With limited vision and being mostly house-bound she decided on a kitty. Her kitty "Half Pint" became the center of her life- someone needed her.
The first week in January Phyllis was hospitalized with what we soon would find out was her brain tumor. I went to see her the morning after her admission and found her sobbing not for herself but worried about her kitty. Later that day I spoke with the surgeon who spelled out Phyllis' future to us. Knowing then in my heart that she would never go home to her kitty, I called Art and explained. That night I went to her apartment and packed up the kitty and all her food and toys and brought her home. Looking back, I think that was the best gift I could give Phyllis. Knowing that we were "babysitting" her kitty gave her much peace of mind throughout her illness.
Eventually we changed her name to "Puddy".

I wasn't sure how having this cat was going to go. I had so much to deal with and introducing a cat to a home with a dog and a house rabbit? The first night we kept the cat in Molly's room with the door shut. The next morning our dog Gidget was going nuts trying to get at the cat through the crack under the door. When I tried to carefully open the bedroom door the cat shot out. Within an hour they had sniffed each other over. No snarls, hisses or claws! Gidget was bored with the cat and went to lay down. Ok- the dog's fine, Now the rabbit. Prey animal right?

Well, here's what they think of each other:

Buddy's eyes are closed as he enjoys a good face and ear washing from Puddy!
They spend most of the day lounging on the couch together.

I've introduced many cats to many dogs over the years and have never had it go that smoothly. I honestly believe that we had help from heaven in creating this motley crew of best friend animals.

Having Puddy around every day has helped me a lot in missing Phyllis. When I look at that beautiful black kitty I have to smile and think of Mom too.

Molly and I found this nest of about a million baby bunnehs this spring in the flower bed in the back yard. Aren't they CUTE? We watched the grow every day, making the nest wiggle and bulge. Finally the left the nest...

and ate EVERYTHING in my yard!!!


Our rabbit Buddy is a mini-lop.

A not-so-mini mini-lop.

Molly wanted to see what he's look like with regular "up" rabbit ears.

Buddy was NOT amused.

Isn't she a pretty Mama?

She built her nest in an old glass orange juicer that I used for feeding meal worms to the chickadees.

Many of you know that I work in a hospital laboratory.
You've heard of digi-scoping?
You've heard of digi-bining?
Let's try digi-microscoping!!!

Fifty points to the person who can tell me what kind of white blood cell that is!
Can you see the teddy bear holding a pie?