Friday, July 30, 2010

Two New Awards!


I recently received recognition from two of my fellow bloggers who I consider my online friends. I know some bloggers have award-free zones, which I guess means they don't display awards or just find it very time consuming, but I'm more than appreciative of the pat on the back, and will proudly display them somewhere on my blog. I guess the 'rules' do seem kind of silly, but it's all just a way for us to get to know each other, don't you think?
From Bernie at Old? Who Me? comes the Blog of Substance award. The only rule is that you pass it on to ten other bloggers. That's actually the hardest thing to do, as I can't think of many blogs that I've read over the last year that weren't blogs of substance, simply because they all are people like myself who are putting themselves, their thoughts, feelings and opinions, out there for all to see.

From Cheri at Cheri's Chatter comes the Versatile Blogger award. Cheri and I are new to each other, but I know her well enough to know that, besides being a fellow grandmother who dotes on her grandkids, she is a ray of sunshine. Seriously, you can almost hear her southern charm and positive attitude radiating from every sentence. The rule for this award (though I doubt they take it away from you if you don't follow the rules) is to give seven things about myself that you probably don't know about me. I've actually done this once before, so I hope I can think of a few more things. Oh, and pass it on to seven fellow bloggers who I consider 'versatile', which I guess means they write on a wide variety of topics.

I'm actually going to send BOTH of these awards on to the same people. Everyone I read deserves them, but if I have to name ten they would be: Annie at Quiet Commotion, Julie at Midlife Jobhunter, Lorna at Bathtime Blogger, Dinah at My Aimless Infatuation, Tim at Catnip, Suz at City Gal Moves to Oz, Michelle Rene at Must Be a Full Moon, Kobico at Mindless Meanderings of a Middle-Aged Maniac, Bernadette (Bernie) at On My Own, and Yaya at Whispering Pines. Forgive me for not linking to their blogs...I'm just lazy that way, and you can find them on my blog list. I also didn't check to see if they already have these awards, but that's ok as this is really about my personal recognition of them.

Ok, here goes:

1. I'm a time-waster of the highest order. I can find more things to do to waste time, and waste more time doing those things, than anyone I know. And when all is said and done, I've got nothing to show for the expenditure of that much time.

2. I have the lowest self-esteem of almost anyone I know. I don't know where it comes from, but I feel, and have felt for my entire life, that I am pretty much worthless except as a mother and grandmother. I'm one of those people who says to herself "can't you do anything right?", or "how fucking stupid can you be?", even if I just knock over a cup of coffee or forget to pay a bill. I realize that sending these negative messages to myself is a really bad habit, and I work on trying to change the way I talk to myself every day. Thanks for your urge to tell me I'm wonderful, but a person feels what a person feels no matter how irrational.

3. I'm addicted to crime shows, currently the Law and Orders, CSI, Bones, The Closer, and the new The Glades.
4. I've been watching General Hospital since I was pregnant with my daughter - 36 years. Even when I worked, I took a portable radio that had tv audio so that I could listen on those little earbuds. Almost every week I wonder why the hell I still watch it - but, I still watch it.

5. I've lived in Chicago Ill, Ft. Worth TX, Dallas TX, Denton TX, Alexandria VA, Dayton OH, Greeley, CO, Arvada CO, Loveland CO, Monroe GA, Eatonton GA, and now Rock Spring GA. Over a 62 year period.

6. In my lifetime I've owned 17 dogs (Brownie, Sleepy, Snookey, Chop Chop, Shaz, Grumpy, Gordon, Lulu, Nady, Toby, Chessie, Nady, Gracie, Charity, Molly, Eva Jean, Oliver) , 11 cats (Black Button, Kesch, Sugar Plum, Honey Bun, Blitzen, Clarisa/Clarence, Meg, Hazel, Hobo, Kitty, Tweety), 6 birds (Tweety, Micah, Spraddle, 3 cockatiels whose names escape me except for 'Bird'), 3 hamsters (Hercules, Squeeky, Pinky), multiple fish, 1 salamander, 3 rabbits (Dandy, Thumper, and another whose name escapes me), and 3 horses (Moon, Poco, and Lady). I have a collage frame in the hallway with all their photos.

7. I cuss like a sailer, especially when I'm mad, and when I'm mad I have a HUGE temper. No one suspects it of me as I'm soft spoken and shy, but when I blow it's big and LOUD. I'm also quick to apologize. Well, truth be told, I don't have to be mad to cuss. It's just an aspect of my verbal repertoire, as unflattering as it might be. I restrain myself in public or with certain people, and certainly around children, and it's very rare here on my blog as I don't like to offend people, but with family and friends it comes out.

Whew! That all took more time than I thought it would, but it was relatively painless. Thanks again for these awards, and I hope to continue to be deserving of them. And if I didn't give you an award but you'd like one or both of them to decorate your place, go ahead and take it and say it's from me - I'm sure you deserve them!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Revised Ending!

A week ago I told you about my little bluebird, the one who escaped the clutches of a snake, only to be used as a plaything by my boxer, Eva Jean. I had sadly placed his slobbery, limp, barely breathing little body in the nesting box after looking him over, thinking that the parents could find him and know that their job was done. Later, before finishing my post, I looked in the box once more and saw that he seemed to have died, as he was unresponsive and to my eyes was not breathing (even knowing that they sometimes play possum). As you know, I shed some tears!

Imagine my surprise when I opened the box the next morning and found this...

A wide-eyed baby bluebird, thinking I had come to give him some breakfast. I just about cried again! After ooohing and aaaahing for a few minutes and performing a soliloquy for him about how excited I was, I closed the door and hurried inside to the kitchen window. I watched for quite some time, but the parents were not coming...they were still in the yard, apparently looking for their baby. It was truly heartbreaking!

I opened the door of the birdhouse, hoping to get their attention and let them see that he had returned there, and within minutes they both appeared, then again and again over the next two and a half days. Sometimes they tried to coax him out, sometimes they fed him, sometimes they just kept vigil in the dogwood tree. I was on pins and needles wondering if all of his body parts were working - no broken wings or legs - and absolutely NOT allowing the dogs out the door except on leash!

I was ready with my camera at the kitchen window, and have probably a dozen starts and stops of his hesitation at the door of the nest. At dark on Tuesday night he still had not fledged, so I had to give it up. Wednesday morning was the same. Wednesday afternoon Garrett and I were walking Oliver and Charity around the yard, me knowing that the baby had been in his nest just a little while earlier, and he looked down under the maple tree where Oliver was sniffing, and saw this...
I don't know WHO was more excited, me or Garrett or the dogs wondering what was going on! After exclaiming over him for a minute, I ran to the house with the dogs and got my camera to get this photo before the parents had another nervous breakdown. They had been following our every move, and after all they had been thru they didn't need these big people messing with their kid! (I also checked the nesting box to make sure it was OUR bluebird!)

I don't actually know if this story has a happy ending. Thursday he was nowhere to be found, but the parents were keeping vigil and guard at one corner of the yard which borders on an overgrown lot, which borders on our green area. I couldn't tell if he was in or near our tree limb pile or on the other side of the fence. Friday they had moved further out into our neighbor's nicely mowed lawn that also borders on the green area. This is good news and bad news, as this area is shaded from our 100 degree week (with 107 degree heat index), but also home to the snakes.
But in my mind I'm calling it a happy ending. By some MIRACLE he survived his time in our little corner of the world. He survived the sparrows and mockingbirds, the wasps and suffocating heat, the snake, and the dogs. His parents were AWESOME, never giving up and battling all those demons to the best of their ability. Now he, and they, are off to the next stage of their lives. According to the book, they will feed the little guy for up to two weeks if he needs it, and then will possibly be a family group for a while until nesting begins again.

Now the question is: Do I leave the nesting box hanging on the deck, to possibly repeat this heartache and happiness again, or do I take it down? Hmmm....
(I uploaded several videos but blogger didn't show them in preview...now I know that they don't play until you've published! Gosh, it took me long enough to figure that out! It's a little boring, and I shot it thru the screen, and I forgot to zoom, but take my word for it that he was sticking his head out! In case you're like me and wondering how to start it, you just click in the middle. And did you now that if you click the little white square on the bottom right of the video screen it will go to full screen for better viewing? I just found that out!)

video

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Glad I'm Not a Bird: TWO SAD STORIES

I can't believe I'm sitting here at the computer crying big wracking sobs over a nest of birds. But I think if you hear my tale you'll understand why I'm such a goof.

Remember the nest of wren eggs on the front porch, the porch that gets so hot on a summer morning that touching the steel front door will actually burn your hand? The one in the geranium pot that at one point I covered with the cereal box to shade the eggs and the mama? Well, the two week gestation period ended with no babies. But the mama continued to sit on them for another week before she gave up. THREE WEEKS she sat on that nest in that blistering morning sun, only to have to desert it with no babies to show for it. I think she was a first-time mama and had picked that spot in the shade of the afternoon or evening, but it was just too sad to see her sitting faithfully, unwilling to give up too soon. Yes, it happens all the time in nature. But it was just very sad. I left the eggs in the nest in the pot so that she wouldn't come back to nest again. There were four of them. (pictured above)

But we still had the nest of bluebirds on the deck, remember, who were due at the same time. They hatched (we didn't know how many), and mama and daddy took such good care of them. I marked the calendar when they'd be due to fledge, and the plan was to leash walk the dogs when it was time. Last night (Sunday) at dusk, the mama and daddy were all over the place out back, going back and forth from the nest to the bushes and trees, that thing they do when they're coaxing them out of the nest. The sparrows and mockingbird chose that time to come and harrass them, so that the protective parents had fight them off in order to protect their brood. We took turns at the kitchen window, running out to chase off the sparrows, and David even took a pellet gun to the mockingbird (but missed). I had made plans to spend the night with the grandsons, so left thinking all was well in my bird world.

This morning I called to see how it was going, and David said 'you don't want to know'. I said 'oh no, did the dogs get the babies?', and he said 'no, a snake'. 'ARE YOU ****ING KIDDING ME?' No, he wasn't. He had taken Eva Jean out just after I left, looked over at the nesting box, and saw a six foot snake hanging out of the box. He grabbed my lopping shears and grabbed hold of the snake, trying just to get him out of the box, and pulled and pulled before he finally came out, and, though it was injured, was able to get away. It was dark by this point, so there was nothing David could do until this morning. He looked in the nest, and there was one baby left.

I didn't get home again until tonight (Monday). I was so excited about one baby being left, even though he could have suffered 'crush' damage from the snake (or psychological damage from seeing it's siblings eaten). I'd look out the window now and then to see if there was any activity, and mama and daddy were out there and coming to the nest with a worm, but then leaving with the worm. We weren't sure what that meant. I began to prepare dinner, and without thinking I let Eva Jean out back. Went back to the sink. Looked up to see Eva Jean racing around the yard and tossing 'something' up in the air. I flew out the door and across the yard...to find that she did, indeed, have the baby bluebird.

The little guy, already a dark blue, was barely alive. Neither of us had the heart (or stomach) to put it out of it's misery, so I gently placed him back in his nest, hoping the mama and daddy would find him and realize their job was over, that none of their babies had survived, that they would have to start all over again. (When I put him back, I saw that there was one unhatched fragile blue egg still intact that never hatched and escaped the snakes clutches.) As I stood again at the kitchen window, the anxious parents were sitting atop the dogwood tree, searching the ground for their last baby. (And, just now having checked, I think he is probably dead.)

I know nature can be cruel and that this scenario plays itself out dozens if not hundreds of times a day. But nature can also be beautiful, and I will continue to hold out hope that one day we can see the full cycle of nest making to egg laying to fledging played out successfully in our little corner of the world. But from now on I will post about it after it's a done deal.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Peaches

Summer 2006, we planted one peach tree. One year later, we had one fuzzy little peach ... Garrett and I split it, and it was the sweetest, tastiest peach either of us had ever tasted. We could hardly wait until summer number three when we surely would have a bumper crop! Spring of 2008 brought hundreds of tiny little flowers, which fell off a couple of weeks later in a hard frost. Summer 2009 brought dozens of tiny, hard green peaches, to be lost a few weeks later in a late and extended spring feeze and ice storm. This summer, summer number five, was surely to be THE YEAR OF THE PEACH!

The tree this summer was covered with beautiful Georgia peaches! They even ripened several weeks earlier than expected due to the early spring weather we enjoyed (and which quickly gave way to a hotter than expected summer).

The only problem was, their ripening coincided with the appearance of the dreaded Japanese beetle. If you've never had to deal with them, count yourself lucky. If you have seen them, you know that they not only destroy every fruit and flower in your garden, but are downright disgusting, munching and copulating at the same time. To try to pick any fruit that was NOT covered with these nasty creatures was like something out of a nightmare, their hard bodies slamming into your face and arms in an effort to chase you away from THEIR bounty.

But they weren't the only pest at the peach tree. This particular one, with sparse white hair and dark freckles, is an EVA JEAN, with the ability to just reach up and grab a peach at will, taking a few bites and leaving the remains on the ground for another pest, the ants.

This hairy pest is called an OLIVER, a common ordinary thief who will go so far as to grab a peach right from under your nose after you have done all the hard work, and who is not above taking one in the house and trying to tell you it's a ball.
I've saved the worst pest for last, and thankfully I have no photo of it. It's the 'plum curculios' worm. It enters the peach in the early stages of development, and if you don't spray in a timely fashion it will destroy the innards of the peach and cause it to either fall early or bruise heavily.
And when you cut them open, no matter how beautiful the peach may seem on the outside, there will be a teeny tiny squiggly white worm on the inside at the pit. And after you've cut open a few dozen peaches, your stomach begins to do this funny little squirmy thing, and if you weren't raised to do this on a regular basis, you just flat give up and say 'no more'.

When all was said and done, there were only enough peaches to freeze five two-cup bags for future cobblers. I'd have taken a photo of the one that we already made, but it didn't last long enough! It was simply scrumptious. And next year, if we don't have an early frost or heavy freeze, and if we spray in a timely fashion, and if they can time their ripeness before or after the invasion of the Japanese beetle, maybe, just maybe...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oliver, Sunset, Bluebirds, Wrens, and Lewie the Blewy

It's been a while since I posted a photo of my little Oliver, so here are two. I don't have a story to go with them...just wanted you to see how cute and sweet he is. Twelve pounds of love!




Also don't have a story to go with the sunset, except that it was at the end of a horrifically hot and humid day, and obviously beautiful!

I haven't had much luck with bird stories, but will try one more time. Three weeks ago, Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird began testing this hanging birdhouse on the deck. Knowing that they sometimes start several, we weren't sure if this would be a keeper. It was. Mrs. Bluebird is now sitting, and the birds should hatch within the week.
Mr. Bluebird has been quite busy keeping those pesky sparrows away, though they haven't been as much of a problem this year as last as most went on to greener pastures when we had the hawk hanging around. And, apparently, the maurading mockingbirds have been busy harrassing someone else's nest, as they haven't been a problem either ... yet. He sits here next to or in this old feeder above the box or in a nearby bush, and is very attentive to Mrs. Bluebirds needs. I'm disappointed, though, that the birdhouse is facing away from the kitchen window, as we'd have to have a tall ladder to be able to see what's going on inside, and they might not be happy if I took it down or turned it around at this point as it wouldn't face out into the yard.

Why, you may be asking, is this pathetic looking geranium covered with a cereal box? Because of these...
On the hottest porch in town, which gets blazing and reflected sun from sun-up til 2pm, in a geranium that I somehow managed to baby thru the winter in the house, is now home to a nest of Carolina wren eggs. I know that mama birds know how to take care of their babies, but I was thinking she might not have known exactly how hot this spot would be in our unseasonably hot June. After watching her hanging her head out and panting, I cut up a cereal box and put one half of it on top of the plant to block the sun, and would take it down in the afternoon. The plant is blooming now and blocking the sun, so I can leave them alone (except for occasionally putting a little water on the front side to keep the plant alive). She didn't seem to be bothered by the box or by me coming and going out the front door, though I did put reflective tape and a note across the steps requesting everyone to move slowing and quietly! If all goes well (and we all know that it doesn't always), we will have babies in the next few days. And I will not become emotionally attached this time!

Last but not least, I'd like to introduce you to my birthday gift from the two grandsons back in May - Lewie the Bluey, a male blue betta. I haven't mentioned him before because I wasn't sure if he was going to live due to the 'tomato sauce incident', or that you would believe me if I told you what happened! It would sound like a 'fish tale', just like the one I read at a blogger friend's place when she posted about a fish she had had as a girl that was blinded because of a broken bowl, which I thought was a fish tale but that she swears really happened.

Anyway, I was cleaning Lewie's bowl and had put him in his little plastic holding dish, then went to put him back in the cleaned bowl with the dark green net. Did I mention that I was right next to a cluttered sink, that I didn't have my glasses on, and that he's a dark blue with a greenish tinge? Oh, and maybe I had my head up my butt?

Long story short, I thought I had got him back into his bowl from the net, tossed the net in the sink, looked back at the bowl, and there was no fish. Looked in the sink, saw he was still in the net, picked up the net, and he fell out...into a can of tomato sauce from the night before that was soaking to loosen up the dried tomato sauce residue. I hurriedly tried to get him out, pouring the water into my hand thinking I'd catch him, but fish being fish, he slid back down into the cluttered sink, underneath dirty dishes and silverware.

I finally got hold of the poor fish and put him back into his bowl, but the next week was touch and go. I thought at the very least he'd be blind from contact with the tomato sauce, or emotionally damaged from his tour of the sink. For the next week or so he wouldn't eat. Nothing. I don't know how he survived at all, actually, and was preparing the boys for his imminent death. Luckily, that didn't happen. He is alive and well, eating like a pig, and so glad to see me when I walk into the room. He's right here at my computer, and I do believe he knows the sound of my voice as when I speak he does rapid laps around his bowl. And that's not my imagination!