Monday, April 23, 2018

Warm weather!

Crocuses from the yard are coming up alongside the tulips and daffodils.

Meanwhile further down the valley in one area.
The Skunk Cabbage has made its appearance. It only grows in one part of the valley.

Lately guys with 4 wheelers have been riding pretty hard through the property. I am assuming that the land holders know that their brother is allowing 4 wheelers to ride all over. The riders must think that the louder their machines are, the better they are?

I sort of have a dislike for the noise and mess they have created. However they are making trails through what used to be nearly impassable places because of the multiflora rose bushes and wild berry bushes.
I will have new trails to walk or ride a mule on only during the weekdays though...

However, this time of year, the soil in the valley is quite delicate. And it makes me very sad to see this.
To me, the destruction is pointless.

Really? What is the point of making a huge trail of mud on such beautiful fertile soil? One big flash flood and ... think of the erosion!

My neighbors and their kids took a hike with me on Sunday. The kids love the creek and enjoy hunting for bones and interesting rocks.

I found Spring Beauties poking up from the soil on a eastern hillside.

When they come up and open they look like this shot below!

I am overjoyed at the prospect of the warm weather for this week. It means the bloodroot should be shooting up along with Trout Lily's in Tainter Hollow.

My CareGiving Duties for my husband and currently my MIL, will keep me from Tainter until at least Thursday.

Spring is coming!

About Birds

First let me say that I have never been a Bird Watcher.

However curiosity does get the better of me as my Grandmother was The Absolute Bird Expert.

We'd go fishing on Little Balsam. We'd sit quietly in the old boat and I'd listen to the water tap the side of the boat. I learned some very important lessons while fishing with my Grandmother.
Silence was a good thing. We could sit quietly for what seemed like hours without having to talk.

Listening to the woods around the lake was what I learned to do. My ears could pick out someone down the lake slamming a door to their cottage as it echoed across the water.
Sound traveled.

Grandma would tell me which bird was making the song we heard. I'd listen and could pick out the general ones but was always frustrated that I couldn't always see the bird.

Grandma Pearl taught me to listen. Often we'd be doing something and she'd say "Sparrow..." or "Black Cap Chickadee" or some other distinct voice in the woods.

So far this spring I have identified several birds by their 'calls'.
Eastern Phoebe
Tufted Titmouse ~ Peter, peter, peter! I do love its song!
Blackcap Chickadee
Purple Finch
Pileated Woodpecker
Redbellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Towhee
Barred Owl

I can't wait for the wren to start yammering at me and for the Orioles to show up and start to sing.
The Wood Thrush is probably one of my favorite songs of all.

The snow is just about all gone and the birds are finding food again.

Just color me happy.

One day I just might become a bird watcher instead of a bird listener.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Snow! April is Bizarre!

We had quite the unusual storm for April. These are views of the driveway and then scenes from the top of the ridge where the mailbox is.

Charlie didn't mind the snow until it was over his head. Here he is running and playing. He also was under the impression that he could catch a Robin. Or at the very least chase it.

He gave up later when the snow was over his head. I had to make a trail for him to do his business.

Morning came and the new snow added some beauty to the dull landscape.

Sunlight arrives in our valley about an hour after sunrise.

Charlie threw a fit when I got dressed to walk out and explore the morning light. I let him out with me and we got about 30 yards before he squalled about the snow being over his head.
I stuffed him in my coveralls and took a walk.

Home Sweet Home. Everything seemed more brilliant in the fresh snow fall.

Even the 'Ru looked pretty.

I took Charlie back in and went back out to do chores so that Rich could just concentrate on plowing.

I knew there would be a rapid snow melt but Charlie had a vet appointment for his distemper booster and I had to take care of some MIL business in town.

I thought the snow was stunning.

The Plow Man, however, was not impressed.

And the blue birds weren't either.

Charlie though, thought he had a great place to observe the plowing and cleaning of the Subaru.

We lost most of the snow in one day.

I hope to get back from my errands today to observe and enjoy the snow melt and run off into the creek.

It will be in the 50's again today.
I'm going to take my SIL to check out an Assisted Living place in town.

Enjoy your day. Generally this time of the year I am out in the forest photographing these little beauties....

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Still Life on the Cheap

This is the spare bedroom. In the upper left corner is a fold up futon type bed. There is my basket of odd toys and other items.
The window is west facing and it lets in diffused light on cloudy days. I have black curtains on it for when the light is harsh, or I want to do some shots with a black backround.
On the floor is Charlie who is playing with an antler shed I found a few years ago.
I decided it was easier to have him underfoot than to having him upset at being in his crate while Rich was napping.
I collect old recycled things like the green bottle. In the summer I use old bottles and jars to put flowers in. They are my vases.

I put some Christmas lights in the bottle.
I played around with the two branches of fake pine.
It wasn't coming out exactly how I imagined it.

So I kept messing with it and decided to work some editing magic.
That was closer to what I wanted, but not anything that was super stellar

I gave things a rest and decided to go back later.
Note, the room is sort of a mess with things tossed all over.
Rich was awake and he and Charlie were watching Netflix, so I decided to try out some other ideas.

Colored pencils. Well, there you go. I just held them up in my hand and took a shot.
I worked with some ideas after the fact.

Still not anything I'd 'write' home about.

So back to the drawing board.

My favorite cracked cup.


I liked this, a straight 'down' shot. The cup, the saucer and the little pitcher were all purchased for about a dollar at the flea market. The pages are from my pencil coloring book.
I really wanted a different look and feel.

Edited with a preset for Vintage colors and a slightly white vignette.

This one I could live with.

~~ These are things I do when I can't get out to go hiking. I was waiting on more phone calls and watching the snow fall.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Girls Day Out

My MIL has had some health issues. She had a fall and was admitted to the hospital. She spent time in rehab at a local nursing home. It was discovered that she had some 'cognitive impairment' and let's just leave it at that.

Things have been pretty strained. Yesterday, I volunteered to take my SIL and MIL to her video visit with a kidney doctor.

Things were strained on the drive which took almost 40 minutes. Oh I could have made it much faster, but I took my time, feeling the electricity and discomfort that permeated the vehicle. MIL knows that her care is now in the hands of her appointed Health POA and Financial POA agents. She isn't happy about that and is resentful of it.
I get that, but I also understand that she doesn't realize that she does indeed need help.

So to break the silence and tension, I asked my MIL if she could direct me to where we were going. She perked up and said of course she could. Well that was better than the tense silence that was thrumming in the vehicle. I did know where I was going, but I also understood that my MIL has suffered from losing control of her 'life' as she sees it.
Hmmm, I don't know if I actually consciously knew this or am I realizing what I did after the fact.

I followed her directions and she instructed me to drop her off at the door and then I could park the car. I leaped out of the Subaru and grabbed her walker out of the hatch back and handed it to her. SIL and MIL headed inside.
I caught up with them shortly and prepared to sit in the waiting room. I'd brought my Kindle and was going to play while MIL and SIL saw the doctor via video. SIL had the right to be there, I didn't and was surprised when the nurse called MIL and immediately SIL and her exchanged heated words. I was motioned to come along and I could feel MIL seething as she clunked her walker down the hallway.

After the appointment, I trotted out to get the car and pick the ladies up. I broke the silence by asking "Where to?"

They answered in unison, "The Meat Locker!"
I deferred to MIL for directions as SIL doesn't drive and really doesn't know the town well enough to give directions. After a couple of not quite right turns, we arrived. Again, I leaped out and grabbed the walker. I waited outside like a chauffeur [really, that is exactly what I was for the day] and assisted the ladies with their purchases and the handling of the walker.

MIL expressed her wishes to eat lunch out. I had her direct me to the little restaurant and we had a nice conversation and lunch.

On our drive home I announced that we were going to play the Dead Animal Game. I explained that a person got points by spotting road kill and rules were made up as we went along. I spotted a dried up deer on the side of the road and claimed two points for it.
My MIL suddenly announced a few miles later that she saw a Dead Cow laying behind a barn, behind a tree. She announced that she now had 10 points. SIL inquired as to the validity of the claim with a smile in her voice. I laughed and indicated that she was now winning. SIL said she saw a dead squirrel on a hill half a mile away. 1 Point!

As we crossed over a bridge two mallards flew over head. I pointed them out. MIL quickly said that she was deducting 2 points for calling out live animals.
I feigned anger and then signaled and pulled over slowly to the side of the road.

My MIL had a hand over her mouth and was laughing. I leaned towards her and told her that I may just decide to make her walk! By this time both women were laughing. MIL had tears of laughter glistening at the edges of her eyes.

The rest of the drive home was spent making up animals and scouting out 'fixer upper' homes for additional points.

There was no scowling or grumpy faces when I dropped the two of them back off at the apartment.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Let it snow and storm

Charlie had to get out and play in the snow yesterday. Dixie walked or trotted and Charlie had to leap and hop to keep up with her. 
Some people think I should just let Charlie be a house baby, but I say let him be a dog. After all, he is a dog and enjoys fresh air and lots of exercise just like any canine.

See that black spot? That is Charlie very early taking a potty pass. I had to put boots on and make a trail for him. After that, he was not fazed by the snow for his bathroom breaks. He uses the path.

When he and Dixie where playing though, it was a different story, he plowed through the snow and had to stop and rest often. He did get cold after a bit and asked for a lift.

After lunch I decided to take a hike. I normally hike every day and have been tied up with MIL issues. Rich settled in for an afternoon nap and I gathered my things and set off to explore the freak snow storm.
It was going to be a 'no dog' hike.

The flash flooding, heavy rains, and sleet increased the flow of the creek again. I was happy to see the water level back up.

I stood quietly above the creek and watched a coyote walk through the bottom, he/she seemed as if they hadn't a care in the world. I was pleased that it had snowed or I would have missed the coyote otherwise because it is so well camouflaged.

I got into the creek bottom and away from the frigid winds. One of the first surprises I encountered was the reformation of ice along side one sandstone wall.

It made perfect sense, but not for April. The excess water was still dripping off from the hillsides into the creek but since it was so cold, it was freezing.
When I got up close to grab a shot of the old maiden hair fern frozen inside of the icicles a gust of wind blew through...

I noticed another thing that made this snow trip so unusual.

Everywhere there were little birds.
I actually got about two half way decent shots of them.

Someone said this may be a Brown Creeper. I'm going to call it a Little Pretty Delicate Bird. I'm not sure as the photo is not that great and the little bird blends in so well.

I caught this bird in flight! I have no idea what it was either, but birds where everywhere.

The robins seemed to be the least shy of them all.

I learned that 'birding' is sort of fun.

I walked the creek upstream to follow the coyote. It was interesting to see who else had been along the creek after the storm.

I enhanced the details here so the evidence of a coyote and a small deer can be seen in the snow. Both sets of tracks wandered up the deer trail and into the woods.

I spent a long time watching the snow fall and listening to the water run over the rocks. Winter would be a long time coming again.

I liked the white mounds of boulders with the creek wandering through them. And the trees above were reflected beautifully in the waters.

The creek was a winter wonderland for me.

Part of the reason I do so love winter and snow.

After the snow melts I will miss it. But I will also welcome the change of seasons.

I am looking forward to leeks, bloodroot, morel mushrooms, and all of the woodland wildflowers that will start to appear like madness in the next few weeks.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Wicked Wicked Weather

And it is not letting up!

The winds are howling and roaring above the house in the trees making hollow resounding noises above me. I can see a birch tree across the way in the meadow swaying hard. I imagine if the trees had been full of leaves many of them would be losing branches.

Yesterday it started with thunderstorms, lightening, and 3 rounds of hail.

The mules headed for the woods after the hail started...

Before 10 am yesterday, about 2 inches of hard rain fell. There was too much lightening to walk down to the creek and watch the water rage down the bottoms.

I could see the water rushing down the side of the driveway.

It let up in the middle of the day. There was enough time to get Charlie out for a quick walk in the sodden grass before the winds and more thunderstorms came marching across the land.

All night the winds howled and rain/sleet sliced sideways in the east winds.

I woke up periodically to listen to the roaring noises above us and wondered what it would be like to listen to it on the ridges. Or for that matter, to be in it on the ridges.
Wind gusts are being recorded at 37 to 51 mph. Sustained winds at 22.

It wasn't quite so bad when I did chores this morning. No one looked cold, all the animals had plenty of hay to eat and could get out of the worst of the weather. Some of the Dexter cattle were laying in the fodder bale pile chewing their cud as if they didn't have a worry in the world.

I decided to do some Still Life photography. The light coming in through the south windows was very subdued yet it would work if I used a white sheet to shoot against.

Our photography group is working on Lines and Shadows this week. I stood a vase of 'sea glass' that I'd collected with my Kenosha Gang folks on an old night stand. I tossed an old white sheet on it and used a chair to hold up the fabric behind the vase.

Of course that wasn't the only shot. If I set up for one shot, I generally do more.

Paint time:

I dug out the brushes two days ago with the intent of painting an old small vanity that we took out during remodeling two years ago. I desperately needed a piece of open backed furniture to put the WiFi and phone hook ups in. I took the old vanity and cleaned it up. 

When the weather breaks I will paint it and add something inside it for storage, but for now the ugly electronics are no longer sitting on the floor.
It is a bit tacky looking. But it will work for now until I can what I want for that corner to keep everything organized. I would paint it now, but Charlie is a bit too willing to help on these projects.

So until I can do it outside, I guess it will be in the corner hiding all those luscious looking cords from Charlie's teeth.

It actually helps organize a few things for right now until I get the trim on the wood in the eating area. It holds the phone, the calendar...and ... 
well here it is...

What I have in mind though is another thing entirely!
Something like ... this....

So I got out my old cracked cup and saucer and messed around some with the sea glass.
I took a few shots and tried a few things.
Oh ... How did this happen? Somehow I never feel like I've done justice to Still Life unless I put something odd into the photo.

Star Wars Figurine/Sugar/Coffee Cup/Spoon

Soldiers and Ponies

Okay, they really don't go together at all! But over the years, I've accumulated some odd things from the children I know.

Creepy Baby and Friends

I think I'm going to grab a few more things from my 'toy' basket and see what I can do to brighten this wicked dreary day.

And let the wicked weather do as it wishes outside.