Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trader Joe's and a sweet visitor


Can someone tell me what the attraction is at Trader Joe’s? I’ve been hearing about this store for a year, mostly from friends in Ohio. A four-page invitation to an opening in Charlotte came in the mail today and it’s hanging on my refrigerator door. Should I try something new?

About 5:00 p.m., I put a plastic bag in my coat pocket and headed outdoors with Chloe and Bella. It was time to do poop patrol. The peanut feeder needed filling, too. I wondered why the peanuts were disappearing so fast (those darn Starlings) and as quickly as I wondered…


What’s this? A female Downy Woodpecker scaled the feeder pole. She’s not a lifer, but she’s a new visitor at my house. She didn't notice the suet two feet away and headed straight for the nuts.

I needed the joy of a new visitor.

“Ok, Mary. Get a grip.” I began to quickly tip-toe inside the house for the camera and remembered it was already hanging around my neck. Dammit! Wasted time! I didn’t expect to use it since I had not taken any photos in two days - a long time...


The sun was setting too fast. I did not move from where I stood on the deck. Thoughts through my head… “Just take some photos, relax. If Bella charges with the hula hoop, I’ll freak out. Be quiet. Take control of the settings on your camera. You are out of the auto mode now.”


Thinking, “Breathe. No, don’t breathe. This low light setting might work. Snap away.”


A few Brown-Headed Nuthatches arrived. Ms. Downy continued to work it. Yeah!



And a bonus,


Mary merrily finished poop patrol, played hula-hoop with Bella and threw a few golf balls for Chloe. She skipped inside and made a fabulous dinner. Not fabulous, really...mediocre at best.

What a great ending to an uneventful day. Now I'm off to put some clean laundry away.

My days have been too action-packed and I'm surprised I posted on two consecutive days. Early to bed is important lately. I'll be visiting when I can. I miss you all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mid-Week Frustration with Nature and a bit of Good News


Since record-keeping in the 1870’s, we’re in the driest year. I found these Juncos enjoying a parking lot puddle on campus after less than a quarter of an inch of rain fell on Monday. Many of us forget about the water deficit when the nights and days are cooler. I admit to spending a little extra time in the shower on cold mornings, too.


A muddy puddle is all they have. They should move to my house where there is

fresh, clear water - every day.

Often, I rush around town buying twenty pounds bags of black oil sunflower seed and everything else the birds eat. Will I need to find a part-time job to afford their increasing appetites? If necessary, I would. What irritates me is that I rarely see the birds lately. By the time I get home from work, I only have time to fill their damned feeders while the shadows are getting deep and dark. It’s like putting your dollar into a vending machine and pressing B-6 to see your candy bar get lodged inside and you get NOTHING in return. Arrrrrgh.

Tonight, I’m enjoying seeing my oh-so-common birds that I saw over the weekend.

I like this photo, even though there is not one thing outstanding about it. A variety of locals. (click to enlarge)

One of twenty or more (woo-hoo!).

The following photos are of birds being patient and also feeling a sense of entitlement while waiting for me to finish filling their feeders. I dragged my feet purposely, making the chore last longer than usual.




When I get home in the evening, it’s “Mourning Dove Time”. They are thirsty and oodles of them cover the feeders and pond.

It’s odd to see a White Throated Sparrow perched in a tree. Sweet.

For about six hours last Saturday, I was in Lifer Heaven. I was absolutely and undoubtedly certain I photographed a Red-breasted Nuthatch and I just couldn’t wait to post about it!


Ahhhhh, the despair. No such luck! After downloading and examining ten photos, I sunk in my chair. The wings revealed a Carolina Wren. It was a nice thrill, although short-lived. Pout. It was dark.


Referring to my recent post, When Your Photos are Violated, there is good news. I don’t have PowerPoint at home, so I spent extra time at work to make my own slideshow. It’s been chosen to be presented at the graduation ceremony next Tuesday! It’s a nice dedication, consisting of over one hundred photos that tell a chronological story of their training and I added a Police Officer’s Prayer at the end of the show. With help from others, I’m adding some great music. Each Cadet will receive a copy of it – a very nice keepsake.
The slideshow made by another, with the clip art, shooting guns, and bombs blasting, will be an additional keepsake for them. Hilarious.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What the Dog Harnesses Mean...

Action! A ride in the car! A WALK!


The sound of me unhooking their harnesses from the rack on the back of the laundry room door puts them into a frenzy. They didn’t know that I was hitching them up because Stanley Steemer was due to arrive and I’d need to haul their little bodies into the bedroom. HA! I enjoyed their anticipation and competitive spirit for a while…


Bella made the first move. In her Winnie the Pooh Piglet voice,
Come on, Chloe. Let’s g-g-get ready to rumble. Shall we?

Chloe wasn’t interested in silly fun and games, yet…
Get away from me, you immature chunk.

Lighten up, Francis.
How ‘bout a little n-n-nip on your skinny l-l-l-leg?

Go ahead, stupid, MAKE…MY…DAY!

Bella screamed, Roo Roo Roooooo!
You don't s-s-scare me!

Chloe snarls, Bring it on, jelly belly.

Want to wear studs, porky? Hold still while I pierce your ear!

Let’s p-p-play vampire, Chloe!

Got yer leg Chlo! Let’s g-g-go!

Bella is lightning fast, but at age 11, Chloe can still outrun the Roadrunner.

Chloe's evil snarl: Catch me if you can, fatty. Make…my…day!

Bella: Hey, I’m not f-f-fat! I’m big boned!

Michael wanted to please them.

I prefer the lead attachment that keeps them together so I can hold only one lead. Michael would rather

keep them under control the hard way. We perform for the neighbors. We skip, pirouette, and wrap ourselves around mailboxes and trees.


Chloe is a leg lifter. I wish I could have taken a photo of her squeezing that last drop of pee, as her calling card, and her territorial thatching of grass with her hind legs.


Doesn’t take much to shock pea-brain Bella.
Whoa! Are You My Mother?

No! We don't want to cross the street and go home yet!

So they kept going, noses down, snorting all the way.

Uh-oh. Is that my Mother again?

Up the driveway for a drink and a cookie.

Our driveway is so steep that in about ten years I can imagine myself in an electric chair lift taking me to the mailbox. I’m not kidding.


Sometimes disobedient and embarrassing but they are
sweet and loving Soul Sistas.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday and Leftovers


The Robins returned this morning. Heck, they might be here every morning but I wouldn’t know it… One false move from me out the back door and they're history, so I stood in the garden tub again. I've enjoyed the few days off and have a lot of blogging fodder to share for the next few days.

Thanksgiving was good with Gina and Billy here, and my turkey was the best I’ve roasted. Our main course is homemade ravioli and turkey is the side. Weird, I know… By the end of the day I felt as limp as an old stalk of celery from the bottom of the vegetable keeper. Tired? No matter – I kept a promise to shop on Black Friday.

I had forgotten how much I disliked retail on Black Friday because it’s been at least six years since I sucked it up and faced the crowds. Only for Gina… I wanted to get a good deal on Christmas decorations for her new house so we visited one of the largest malls in North Carolina, only ten minutes away. Concord Mills on Speedway Boulevard near Lowe's Motor Speedway. Wow. Right off I-85, we see license plates from four or five surrounding states.

Park a half mile away, listen to toddler tantrums or infants screeching and watch parents who are either oblivious or are at their wits end with them, see a young child vomit with an ear infection, listen to non-English speaking holding up check-out lines – count to ten! Shopping carts collide (they’re called “buggies” here, not "carts" as I learned farther north), creating roadblocks in aisles and all eyes roll. I get hot and take off my coat, wanting to carry some long rolls of wrapping paper to whack away at slow-pokes on my way through… Sure glad I saved 50% and we left the store with nice decorations. Covered in glitter on hands and faces, we were out of there! Phew!

Leftovers are great, including some leftover, odd photos I took on my glorious day off on Wednesday.


I was so quiet… I didn’t even get out of the car for this photo. Approaching the pond near the grocery store I drifted in at 5 mph, radio off, ignition off.


Slid out of the car, leaving door open. Intending to tip-toe closer, using full zoom. DRATS!

Have you ever chased a Belted Kingfisher or another elusive bird, in your car???


The odd sounding bird flew to the other side of the pond, perched, and waited for me to get back into my car, drive around the loop for sixty seconds, and coast to a stop.


Twenty-five feet away and this is the bet I could get. The antsy bird took off and I watched it disappear behind the grocery store.



I turned my attention to a more friendly species


and enjoyed the view, wishing I had days and mornings free to relax, look, and listen.


I posted this photo on Wednesday and want to post it again. I love glitter and stars… It’s one of my favorite photos.

Back home:


What’s with the Chickadees? I struggled with them for so long!


My goal is to work on photographing birds in flight. Hmmmm. I don’t even know what I was photographing! It's probably the Cooper’s Hawk who visits every day.


Clouds rolled in tonight and rain is predicted tomorrow! Time for a rain dance wiggle ;o)