Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Idol Prediction

I spent the day at home with a sick child today. That combined with the weather is making me feel nutty stir crazy, thus the rambling, disjointed post.
Tonight's American Idol is done and I'm ready to make my prediction: the season winner- Melinda Doolittle! This woman has the most amazing voice. Funny Valentine tonight, goosebumps for me. Ok, TV off.
The wind has been howling all evening and now the snow is coming down like crazy. They're forecasting 10-16 inches by tomorrow night. That added to the foot we got last weekend will be more that we got all winter. Huh. Can't wait to see what the snowplow leaves for us at the bottom of the driveway in the morning.
I did slip out this afternoon and got a cute new haircut. If I can't have spring at least I can have a new face looking back at me in the mirror!
I've added a new name to my blogroll. Welcome to Larry at The Brownstone Birding Blog. He's got interesting bird stuff and he does posts called "Bird-Song Lyrics Game". It's a lot of fun- check him out!
Art and John are outside snowblowing the driveway of the first 5 inches of this snowfall. We'll see what we get!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday Music

Laura from Somewhere in NJ wrote a post called Kitchen Dancing that got me thinking about the music I grew up listening to. My parents always had a stereo/hi-fi and there was always a stack of records playing. Louis Armstrong was a particular favorite of my Dad. I happened across this CD- "The Essential Louis Armstrong" at Costco last week and grabbed it. I've been playing it almost non-stop in my free time ever since. Music is such a strong memory trigger for me. One track in the CD, "Walkin' My Baby Back Home" takes me back to a sunny afternoon with my Dad sitting in a swivel rocker listening to this same song. I can see his fingers folded across his chest, his head back and eyes closed, swinging that chair back and forth, all the while tapping his toes to the jazzy rhythm, a sweet smile on his face. My Mom still has a vast CD collection of music that she and Dad loved listening to together. I plan to dip in to her music library and copy some of it onto my iPod. I think I'll share some of the gems that I find and maybe some of the memories that are connected to them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Things You Don't Know About Me

Every body's doing it. Here goes!

1. I love rocks. I love their shapes, colors and textures. I especially like smooth rocks. There are two big 10+ pound rocks in the trunk of my car right now that I stopped and picked up on the side of the road to take home. I'd like to use the big ones some day to build a rock wall in the back yard, but for now I have piles of rocks. Lots of rocks.

2. I can't sleep with the pillowcase opening near my face. It has to be behind me. Along this same line, I can't let the blanket touch my face. I wonder if there is some deep psychological meaning behind this.

3. I might have mentioned this before, but I am petrified of stairs that you can see through.

4. I have always been crazy about microscopes. This led me to a career as a Medical Technologist working in hospital laboratories. This must explain my love for my binoculars. To see things clearly that can't be seen with the naked eye is just magical.

5. I also as a girl thought seriously about becoming a nun. Now I feel strongly that my vocation is to be a good wife and mother.

6. I love music (and my Bose!) and though it's not always appreciated, I nearly always sing along. I can't help it.

7. I hate bananas but love banana bread.

8. I believe that people who snap their gum should be exiled far, far away on an empty planet. Without gum.

9. My brush with celebrity: During high school, while working at Woolworth's, I sold a bag of circus peanuts to Marlo Thomas.

10. Growing up the youngerst of five, I'm the only one in our house (including Mom and Dad) who never smoked. I am also the only member of my generation, of both my Mom's and my Dad's sides of the family to graduate college.

A memory of last spring: lilacs in bloom and my first rose-breasted grosbeak in the yard.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Eastman Nature Center

I made a quick trip to Eastman Nature Center this afternoon. It was 40 degrees! I can't remember the last day with temps over freezing. Water was running in the streets. I took off down one of the trail loops with my bins and my camera. About 30 feet down the path I hit some of that water running over the icy packed snow and fell ass over teakettle, sliding another five feet before coming to a stop flat on my back! Dang- why didn't I bring my Yaktrax? I gathered what was left of my dignity and limped back to the nature center building and watched the birds at the feeders.

The trees were full of woodpeckers. This little downy seemed to be winking while he posed at the suet feeder.
I watched this hairy woodpecker preening on a nearby tree and caught this silly picture. Art thinks it looks like he's taking a bow but John thinks it looks like he's sniffing his pits!

I'm off to bed with some Advil and American Idol.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Handheld Birds

I got a cool new birding gizmo from hubby Art for Valentine's Day! It's called Handheld Birds.
It's a really neat PDA with a card that contains the National Geographic Field Guide to North American Birds. There are several ways to search for birds- color, size, or name. The search pool can be narrowed by first entering a region, month and/or habitat. For me probably the neatest feature is the ability to play the songs of each of the birds. It's a bit pricey, but I got a pretty good discount for having a Cornell Lab of Ornithology membership. I have a set of birdsong id CD's and had considered buying the birdJam software to put them on my iPod, but I believe the iBird software only works with the Stokes CD's and mine are by Peterson, Lang Elliott and my favorite- Bird Song Ear Training Guide by John Feith.
Even though it's only 1 degree above zero outside, the sun is shining and I can hear the birds out there.
Spring follows winter.

Friday, February 16, 2007

On the Way to Target

Inspired by Mary's Valentine's Day Poem, I grabbed my camera as I ran out the door to do some Target shopping. I spied what I think is an immature red-tailed hawk on a phone line along a busy highway. I took a quick right off the highway (insert Batman music), did a couple of U-turns, and parked sideways in a lot across the highway from this beauty and started snapping away.

She posed so nicely, minding her own business, hunting the highway median. I could hear the crows but I was so focused on watching the hawk through my camera's view screen.
Whoa! This is my very favorite accidentally cool picture!!

No, it's not Photoshopped.

She flew down to the median to escape the crows and I got a good long look at her. The crows perched on the wires but would not follow her to the ground. After a bit she flew off with the crows in pursuit. She tipped in the air and snatched her talons at them twice and then left for a more peaceful hunting ground.

Mary is right. It pays to take your camera.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom

Yesterday, Valentine's Day was my Mom's 89th birthday. We had a little party for her in the game room of her senior building. My sister and two of my three brothers were there, along with a room full of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and various spouses. Mom had a wonderful time. Everyone made her feel so special.
Mom got lots of cards and gifts. One of her favorites was this crystal cross from my brother Charlie. Charlie gave her one just like it for Christmas the year after my Dad died. Mom loved it and kept the rosary from Dad's funeral draped across the arms of the cross. That cross accidentally fell off the table and broke and try as I did I could not get the pieces back together. Now she has a new one and she's thrilled. She called this morning to tell me that she'd all ready called the priest in her building to have the cross blessed. It will be three years in March since my Dad passed away and we all miss him.
Here's my Mom with about a third of all of her grandkids, and great-grandkids. If not for my Mom and Dad and God's blessings, none of my siblings and I nor any of these beautiful kids from the next generations would BE.
Happy Birthday Mom.
I love you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

For My Sweetheart

Grow old along with me the best is yet to be
When our time has come we will be as one.
God bless our love, God bless our love.
Grow old along with me- two branches of one tree.
Face the setting sun when the day is done.
God bless our love, God bless our love.
Spending our lives together, man and wife together
World without end, world without end.
Grow old along with me whatever fate decrees
We will see it through for our love is true.
God bless our love,
God bless our love.

john lennon

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hat Part 2

Just a foot note to Saturday's birding trip:
When we finally got to Hedbom road both vans emptied out. Everyone was bundled against the cold, stretching legs, getting binoculars and cameras ready. Sharon's group and Stan's group finally got a chance to mingle. I glanced up and my mouth dropped open-
there was my hat!
Another lady had my hat!
She said she has a big head too and was happy to have found "our" hat at the same store where I bought mine.
It's a small world.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Birding With the Birdchick and Stan Tekiela

Oh my, what a BLAST! It was a cold and clear, a beautiful day to be birding with fun people in northern Minnesota. Our first stop was the city of Cloquet to look for a few gray-crowned rosy finches that have been seen regularly there this winter. These birds usually winter from southern Canada to northern New Mexico so Minnesota is WAY out of their range. No luck on the rosy finches so we were off to the Hedbom logging road!

I was lucky to spot this first bird on Hedbom very high in a birch tree.

A ruffed grouse!

We watched a bit as he would teeter out on tiny branches eating catkins dangling on the tips.
Here's one of my favorite pictures. A black spruce where an American three-toed woodpecker WAS! Watch out Stan Tekiela- professional nature photographer- here I come! Stan was great. He's a talented photographer who is the author of numerous beautiful field guides. His "Birds of Minnesota" was my first bird book and I've given several copies as gifts. (It's now autographed! Thank you Stan!) Stan is also a very knowledgeable naturalist. He showed us where the grubs live just under the bark of these trees. The grubs are the food source that the American three-toed and black-backed woodpeckers are after.
Here is another of my skilled photos. We saw several of both the black-backed and the rarer American three-toed, but I got a shot of the not-so elusive Hairy Woodpecker!
The first person I met at the beginning of the day was HellZiggy aka "the other Sharon" a frequent commenter on Birdchick's blog. She's a fun and interesting woman. We spent quite a few hours on the road, but there was lots of conversation, chocolate and laughs. Good company!
Our last stop before loading up to head home was the Coffee Cabin in Duluth. The field out back is where the northern hawk owl has been hanging out. Our two vans pulled in and there he was. This is undoubtedly the same northern hawk-owl that I saw in January. He was further away than my view of him in January so I just enjoyed watching him and didn't take any pictures.
Sorry Susan, I know my bird pictures are pretty lacking. Check out HellZiggy's blog though. She got some awesome photos. But I did get a picture of me with the Birdchick! Sharon is great fun, quick to laugh and generous in sharing her vast bird knowledge. That girl knows her birds!
After watching the hawk-owl out in the cold (the wind had picked up and temps were dropping) we ducked in to the Coffee Cabin for a hot cup of coffee and to warm our tushies in front of the fireplace. When we got back to the Cities four of us capped off the day with dinner. Sharon, HellZiggy the other Sharon, Kate (another sweet lady from the trip) and I had a great meal together, talked alot and laughed even more.

Great birding and even better company. Wonderful day.

Here's my trip list:
American Crow
Common Raven
Pileated Woodpecker
Pine Grosbeak LIFE BIRD!!
Pine Siskin
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Hawk Owl
Northern Shrike
Ruffed Grouse
Black-billed Magpie
Hairy Woodpecker

edit: oops! I forgot the coolest woodpeckers (thanks HellZiggy!)
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker

Thursday, February 08, 2007


All right all of you who won't let me off the hook! Here's me in my new cold weather hat, complete with ear flap strings and sweet sweet top decorative strings!! It was -11 degrees here in the Twin Cities when I took this lovely picture so no, I was not just hiding behind my collar and scarf. I did a test run with all my new cold weather duds. Saturday is my bird trip up to the Sax-Zim bog area again. This trip is being lead by Stan Tekiela an amazing wildlife photographer and naturalist and Sharon Stiteler aka Birdchick. Could there be a cooler trip? I expect to learn ALOT.

A better, headless view of my hat. It's made of wool and is fleece lined. I love it. To understand why I'm so excited about this new hat, you have to first understand that it is virtually impossible for me to find hats that fit me. I have a big head. A really big head. Women's hats do not fit me. I bought a cute, fuzzy knit hat from the ladies department at Kohl's for my January birding trip. I could pull it down over my ears and I thought it would work. But as soon as I started moving my head to look around at the birds, it started slipping- up. Soon it was perched sweetly on the top of my melon, then it was on the ground. Can't wait to try out my new hat and new gear and get out of this house on a BIRDING TRIP!!!

BTW- Here's what I found this morning. Two pals, hanging out on the couch. Buddy needs to be plucked BAAAD. I usually do that job outside but it's way too cold. Plucking the shedding fur off Buddy produces a huge cloud of flying fur. I'll save that job for Sunday.