Heart to Heart

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Virginia Heartleaf, Hexastylis virginica

Do you recall what the weather was like on January 31, 1980?
I recall quite clearly that we had ten inches of snow on the ground when I awoke that day.
Why would I happen to remember what the weather conditions were on a day some 29 years ago? The answer is simple, it was my wedding day.

Happy Anniversary, Treebeard. I love you.


Around To It

Six Random Things Meme

Back in December I got tagged for this meme by denapple over at Life, Birding, Photos and Everything. It’s taken me this long to think of six random things about me that might be even remotely interesting…

Rules of the meme:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I plan to follow rules 1, 2, 3, and 6...

1. Those of you who know me or read my blog know that I love animals – from hairy spiders to big black bears. There is, however, an animal I don’t care for. I dislike cows (with the exception of Jerseys). They are large and scary and I just don’t trust ‘em. Guess that means I can’t mooove to Vermont.

2. My hair is starting to go slightly silver but I have no plans to color it. I have convinced myself that if I ever start to pay attention to my hair, it will fall out. That could explain why I have the same “hairstyle” today as I did when I was 20 – long and pulled back in a ponytail. My only other “style” is chopped off short in what used to be called a pixie. I do the pixie thing about every seven years.

3. I have zero artistic talent but I try not to dwell on such shortcomings ;)

4. There are places in the US and Canada that I would love to visit. New Mexico and British Columbia immediately come to mind. Unfortunately, I hate to travel. Anyone out there have a transporter I could use?

5. I take procrastination to a new level.

6. When I have the time, I love to read books in series. Examples would be books by David Eddings, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, Nevada Barr, and Janet Evanovich among others. I love the continuity of characters.

There you go, six random things about me. If you feel so moved, please tag yourself and meme away!


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While I was out, my cat Friday helped herself to the computer. Not only did she manage to open the browser, she initiated a Google search. Unfortunately for her, Google doesn't recognize words typed in Felinese.
Could be worse I guess. She could have done a little online shopping -- she has a serious love of fuzzy, catnip-filled toy mice. Oh, and superballs and ponytail holders and watchbands...
At least she left the keyboard intact this time.


A little invertebrate art to get us through this Friday afternoon.
Bet the larva that carved this tree didn't have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to do so.
Treebeard and I are having a trying day thanks to the somewhat incomprehensible building codes of the county in which we live. If I was one given to rants, you would get an eyeful! But I decided a long time ago to make every effort to keep this blog reasonably free of venting and personal tantrums and focus on the positive ;)
I'll just say that life can be a journey of steps forward and steps back. Today, the county shoved us back a bit. Oh well, such is life -- at least it's sunny out.



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Word has it that we might see blue skies today.
We'll see.


Monday Mosaic

A lichen mosaic for your Monday.
There are several American beech trees in the home swamp that sport marvelous quilts of various lichens.
Wish I could give you IDs for them...but alas, I cannot.
Have an excellent Monday!
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A Day of Grays

Gray skies over gray trees draped in gray Spanish moss.
Even the water looked gray today.
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C the Tree?

Such an odd shaped fellow. I couldn't get a better angle because I was on a boardwalk, but if you look closely you will notice that there is a big C in the trunk of this black gum (Nyssa biflora). The result of a gall of some sort most likely - perhaps even mistletoe induced.
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Feeling Froggy

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I've walked past this cypress knee a thousand times but today I saw it with new eyes. Today it became a big ole frog peeping out of a pile of beech leaves.

Obviously I need a frog fix ;)



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This egg mass is on a dead tree along one of the trails in the work swamp. I happened upon it in December when I was out scouting in preparation for a hike I planned to lead. The total surface area of the mass is a tad larger than a dime. I'll keep my eye on it and perhaps we will be lucky enough to find out what type of bug will emerge when the weather warms.

Birds I noticed today, in no particular order:
tundra swan
northern pintail
wood duck
great blue heron
bald eagle
red-tailed hawk
red-shouldered hawk
American crow
red-winged black bird
northern cardinal
red-bellied woodpecker
white-throated sparrow
dark eyed junco
pileated woodpecker
eastern bluebird
blue jay
rufus-sided towhee
turkey vulture
black vulture


Four Years

I've managed to keep this blog going four years as of today. Didn't realize it had been that long until I did a search for snow posts.


Old Millpond

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Across the road and just through the woods, there is an old millpond. Yesterday's warmer temperatures and rainfall melted the ice that had covered the surface following Friday and Saturday's very cold temps. Today there were mallards, black ducks, and wood ducks swimming there. In the warmer months it's a good place to find a variety of snakes and turtles, including spotted turtles. It's always a good place to find an assortment of predators -- or at least evidence of them...

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This owl pellet was along the shore line of the old pond. Rodent teeth, long bones, and bird beaks give evidence of some of the small animals that live around the pond. Nearby there were a couple of bobcat scats containing hair and a few larger bones, most likely rabbit.

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I like knowing that across the road and just through the woods there is an old millpond...


What Is It??

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No, really, if you know, please tell me! This stuff is driving me crazy (although there are those who would argue that I reached crazy long ago...but I digress). It is growing on the pawpaw trees along one of our trails in the work swamp. If I can ID it then I can include it in some meaningful way during the interpretive hikes I lead. Currently I just point it out and say something intelligent like, "I don't know what it is, but isn't it cool?" Not exactly stellar interpretation and education ;)

So, what's your guess? Fungi? Lichen? Slime mold? Alien being from space?



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This Morning's Walk

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click on the collage to get a closer look at individual pictures

It was 7 degrees F this morning when we woke up. A couple hours later it had warmed to near 20 so we decided to walk down to the pond to see what was stirring.

The critters in the collage are a nutria (grrr), a hermit thrush, and one crazy great blue heron. The heron was in full sun, way across the pond, standing on one long leg. Made me cold just to look at him!

As for the bird dropping...I had to add it in because it had frozen bubbles in it. You just can't pass up frozen bubbles!

The freaky frost is included because we don't often see that around here. Same goes for the other icy pix.


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Weasel is the last of the Triplicats to get "fixed." She will be in her lovely E-collar for a few days to be sure that she doesn't pull out her stitches. The other cats are hissing and fussing - they seem to be a little bit afraid of her - but she seems to be taking it all in stride.

Of course, I'm giving her loads of extra attention and pampering to help compensate for the humiliation of her having to wear a cone on her head. And seriously, Treebeard and I try not to laugh when she attempts to back out of the collar...but we're only human and she does look funny ;)


A Case of Sunshine

Having a Friday off is a wonderful thing. Having to go to the dentist on that Friday off to have a filling repaired is not a wonderful thing. Arriving home to find that a whole case of delicious oranges had been delivered while we were gone is a wonderful thing. Having a sister-in-law as thoughtful as mine is a wonderful thing.

That's three wonderful things to one not-wonderful thing...wonderful wins!!

Thanks, SIL!! They are delicious and very juicy.


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Hack, Hack

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While out cutting trail today I happened upon this owl pellet. If I had had a container to put it in I would have packed it up for further study. It would have been interesting to find out what sort of bones these are. Alas, I had nothing handy and the pellet was sopping wet...not an ideal condition for popping into one's pocket.

It was a beautiful day with blue skies and bright sunshine but comfortably chilly, great conditions for the trail work that needed to be done. Unfortunately, I didn't get many pictures to share -- it is difficult to swing a brush axe and take pictures at the same time, don't you know.


Swamp Squiggles

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Too tired to blog, but I didn't want to leave you totally swampless...


A Sad Good-bye

No pictures today I'm afraid. Instead, just sad news to report. One of my friends and colleagues lost her beloved pet today. His name was Thatcher and he was a great cat. He was just three months shy of turning 19 years old. I was at the vet's office with her as she said goodbye while cradling him as he breathed his last breath. He was much loved and will be greatly missed.


An Acquired Taste

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Dr. Treebeard prescribed a walk in the warm sunshine for my cold so yesterday we went for a short jaunt into the swamp across the road from the house. Did I mention that the new house has swamp on three sides? Perfect!

I didn't get many pictures because we were walking west into a fierce winter afternoon sun. Being a bit under the weather, I didn't feel like futzing around with camera settings to compensate. As a result, there are no images of the kinglets, chickadees, white-throated sparrows, red-headed woodpeckers, brown thrashers, cardinals, etc. to share with you this morning. Nor do I have any photos of the swamp stretching out in all directions. All I have to offer is the image of a partially eaten bald cypress cone.

Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, has to rank as one of my all-time favorite trees. It is beautiful in any season and has a number of intriguing traits. It is a deciduous confier (hence "bald") and produces knobbly knees (true function as yet undetermined) under the proper circumstances. It also produces hard round cones that are tough to open until fully mature. Squirrels, of course, are not deterred by the toughness. They seem to enjoy the challenge. We found quite a few dismantled cones on our walk.

Now wouldn't it be neat if some of those cones had been dismantled by yet another creature who was undaunted by the challenge? Alas, that particular creature, the Carolina Parakeet, is now extinct. What must it have been like to see a flock of those birds working on opening cypress cones? One can only imagine...


Catchin' Some Rays

Out in Treebeard's blueberry patch there was a party going on. Three turkey vultures were hanging out catching some rays from the morning sun. They'd hold their wings open for several minutes then close them up for a minute or two, shift position and open them back up. I watched them from the kitchen, knowing that if I opened the door and tried to sneak out on the porch they would take off. That's why you get a hazy picture for this Saturday - window screens are tough to focus through ;)
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When I finally did step out on the porch I managed to just raise my camera before all three vultures took off. I picked my way through the muddy yard to see if they left any prints behind. Only one that was sort of recognizable -- oh, well, maybe they'll be back...

I'm staying close to home today. Seems I have my second cold in just over a month. Guess my body is trying to make up for me having four cold-free years. But why, oh why, does it have to do so on my only days off?!? Now, if you will excuse me, I am going downstairs to brew yet another cup of tea.


Goodbye 2008

...and hello to 2009. Here's hoping it will be a good year for all.
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