Monday, February 28, 2011

Looky Here!

The Red-winged Blackbirds are back!  Please excuse the quality of the pictures.  It's raining and the water is beading on my rear window.  It's also a little fogged up for some reason.  But, I'm quite excited.  I always think of these birds as the real harbingers of Spring, now that the Robins are here all through the Winter.  We'll have more snow, some of our worst storms have occurred in March, but, now I know that Spring is coming, slow but sure.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Out of My Rear Window 2/27/11

More snow last night makes for a really beautiful view this morning.  It won't last long.  The temperature is supposed to hit the mid to upper 30's today, and could get up to 50 tomorrow, with rain.  That will make a real mess.

But, today is absolutely beautiful.  The sun is out brightly and it's inviting me outside to play,
Out of my front window you can see a clear road and more lovely fluffy snow.  That's my new suet feeder hanging from the linden tree.  It's only been up a couple of days, and hasn't had any visitors yet.  I'm watching it closely because I'm not sure that this is the right place for it.  It may be too close to the busy road.  I wanted it in a different place from the rest of the feeders, and somewhere closer to the house, so that I could get some good pictures.  I'll give it a couple of weeks there, and, if it hasn't attracted any birds by then, I'll move it further back into the yard.
I was wondering why the feeders were so quiet.  Normally, on a morning like this, they would be brimming with avian life.  Then I saw why.  The Red-Tailed Hawk (ok, it's a Cooper's per two people who know so very much more than I do.  That's cool, I never noticed one before)  is back, high in a tree surveying the entire yard.  As long as he is there, no one is going to be dumb enough to hit the feeders.

  Have a peaceful and happy Sunday, everyone!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh, Those Pre-teens!

Becky Cat will be 12 this year.  But, you'd never know it.  She still thinks she is a kitten, or a mighty hunter.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

American Black Ducks

I heard from the Cornell Lab yesterday, and they confirmed that these lovely birds that I posted about a few days ago are, indeed, the American Black Duck.    It was a very nice email, and came with an invitation, which I'm sure that they extend to everyone, to join their e group to count the birds.  I will do that.

The way to tell an American Black Duck from a female Mallard, according to Cornell is:

(The American Black duck will have) "Dark bodies, plain grayish faces and solid colored bills.  Female Mallards would have mottled brown/orange bills, lighter and more patterned overall body color."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

As if Ten Squirrels Weren't Enough

How about 10 deer?
This poor duck looks like he doesn't know which way to run.
When I saw these deer, I remembered that it was about this time last year when they started to hit my feeder area in much greater numbers.  I remember thinking at the time that this must be the famous Starvation Moon.  But, I looked it up and the Starvation Moon is the January full moon.  The February full moon is called the Ice, or Snow Moon.  I think that whoever named them must have lived further South.

By this time, especially with the hard winter that we have had, the woods must be practically denuded of edible branches.  It will be over a month before there is anything green to eat back there.  I know it's nature, and there is nothing to be done, but I still feel for these beautiful creatures, as they face their hardest days.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Newest Visitor

Here I am, looking out of that back window again.  And, what do I see?  This charming fellow.
I don't think I've ever seen an opossum at the feeder before.  But, I do think I may have seen this guy.  A couple of times in the last few weeks, I've looked out of my window after it's dark, to see a small shape sitting quietly at the feeder.  At first, I thought RAT! RAT! RAT! and was ready to stop feeding altogether.  But, it didn't act like a rodent, who tend to be much more active.  It think that the mystery has just been solved.  He's kind of a cute little thing, in an ugly sort of way, isn't he?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Out of My Rear Window 2/20/11

Shades of brown, grey and white, with the only color coming from the old pine tree in back.  No sun, no wind, just clouds and squirrels, lots of squirrels.
Squirrels who, all of a sudden, disappeared, in one mad scramble.  At first, I couldn't figure out what made them run.  But, then, I saw these guys land in the locust tree that overhangs the feeder area.
As far as I know, crows don't prey on squirrels, but, with a silhouette that size, I'm betting that the squirrels were thinking "HAWK!!!" and didn't hang around to see if they were right or wrong.

Actually, I had been wondering where the crows had gone.  I guess, no where far away.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winter's Back

And, I fear I'm getting boring.  Nothing much today but a few more pictures out of my windows. 

This is yesterday.  I took it because there were so many squirrels under the feeders.  The temperature was a very balmy 55 degrees F.

Ten hungry squirrels, and, at the top of the picture, just at the edge of the snow, one bright red cardinal.

But, that was yesterday.  The wind picked up last night and it blew winter back in.  Today, it's 18 degrees F outside.  The yard is littered with small branches, but, luckily, nothing big came down.  The road is slick with a light glaze of snow. 

The feeders have been deserted, except for these lovely Mallard ladies, who flew in looking for something to eat.
Though, you know, I'm wondering if these are Mallards?  They're very dark, and the head on the one that's looking around is darker.  I wonder if these could be American Black Ducks?  They're very similar in shape and size to Mallards, and often interbreed.  Wouldn't that be exciting?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February Thaw

We have been given a gift this week, a period of days when the temperature is well above normal.  The snow is melting.  It's not a pretty sight, as all of the dirt and debris of the winter, that has been covered almost daily with fresh snow, is popping into view.

But, the squirrels are in hog heaven!  All winter I have been complaining that as soon as I go out and put down fresh feed, it snows again and covers it.  That meant that a lot of the feed either got trampled down in the feeding area or shoveled up and thrown out with the snow, as I kept the area clean.  Now that the snow is melting, all of that feed has been coming back into view.  For the past two days, every time I looked out of the window, there were squirrels out there, feasting.

But the best surprise came this morning.  I looked out of the window, and there, under the feeder were THE TURKEY LADIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I hadn't said anything on the blog, but I have been worried about them, these past weeks.  It's not unusual for them to disappear during snow periods.  Poor girls, they're too dumb to realize that they can fly over to the feeding area, and don't have to walk through the deep snow.  But, the snow cover has been so deep, and so persistent, since the first part of January, that I was really worried that they wouldn't make it, and would starve to death back in the woods.

So, I sneaked to the window, counting as I went.  One, two, three, four and five!  They were all there.  Welcome back Turkey Ladies!

The very best part of all?  It's my birthday today, and I can't imagine a better present than seeing the girls again!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Wild Child

Oh no!  Not this cute little child on the photographer's pony!  This picture was taken in Ohio, before the family moved to Texas.
That's my Mom, who was born 98 years ago, on February 15, 1913.  She's been gone for eight years now and sometimes, I still catch myself thinking that I need to ask Mom this, or that.

Mom was the eighth of nine children, born eight years after my Aunt Marie, and six years before my Aunt Dottie.  Named a very demure Marjorie Anna, she, apparently, didn't live up to that demure name at first.  Aunt Dottie told me stories, oh my!

  Like the time she got on the school bus and bopped all the boys, who had been bullying her younger nephew, on the head with a good, thick school book.  And, then, threatened them with much worse if they ever bothered him again.  Years and years later, when that nephew went back to visit the town in Texas where it happened, the men were still talking about "that spitfire Margie."

Or the fact that Aunt Dottie, whose bedroom was right next to my Grandparents, would often hear them talking, late at night, about what they were going to do about Margie and her escapades.  She, apparently, was quite hot stuff, and the boys knew it.
 But, it turned out, they should not have worried.  Because Mom had a core of steel, and, when the need arose, while she was still in high school, she stepped up and did what needed to be done.

Grandmother was diagnosed with cancer at that time, and, as she got sicker and sicker, Mom took over more and more of the responsibilities of the house.  Her Father and one of her older brothers were living there at that time, along with her young sister, a niece and a nephew, children of one of her older sisters, who was divorced and forced to be away trying to find work.  The wild child was now wild no more.  She had a family to care for, and no time for such nonsense.  I think that this is probably a picture of her when she graduated from high school.
Of the six girls in my Mother's family, five went to college.  Mom did not.  She graduated from high school just as the depression hit and there was no money to send her.  So, she stayed home and took care of the family until the farm was lost to foreclosure and the family was broken up.  Mom ended up, after a couple of years, in Rochester.  She came here because her older sister was living here at the time, and there were jobs to be had.

Mom was busy working during hard times.  She didn't make much money, lived at the YWCA, and struggled to support herself.  She didn't do much else, except go to the movies, which she loved, and, occasionally, went to a dance that was held every Saturday at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio.  It was there, when she was in her late '20's that she met my Father.  He was ten years older than Mom, and everyone had thought that he was a confirmed bachelor, but, Mom changed his ideas about marriage, apparently.
They were married in 1943, when she was 30, and Dad was 40.  This is her wedding picture.  Mom is in the middle with her best friend Gertrude on the left and Gertrude's Mother on the right.  No fancy white dress for Mom, she chose something more practical, that she could wear again.
They honeymooned in Niagara Falls.

Dad was drafted shortly thereafter and served a short stint in the Army.  In New Orleans no less.  But, because he was older, and because his company asked if he could be discharged because they needed him to support their war effort manufacturing, he soon came home.  They settled in with my Father's Mother and, in 1948 became a three generation in one house family, when I was born.
From then on, life was good for Mom.  She loved this house where I still live.  She relished being home and taking care of me, and Grandmother.  Her life revolved around her family.  She and my Dad were happily married, until he died in 1990, almost 50 years.
So, the child who had been such a worry to her parents all those years ago, became a model of propriety, a well loved wife and mother.  She died February 14, 2003, just hours before her 90th birthday, a spitfire to the end, but a very proper one. 

A good life, well lived.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Out of My Rear Window 2/13/11

It's going to be a quiet day today, according to the weatherman.  The temperature is actually going to get above freezing, and there should be little or no snow.  That's much different from yesterday, when we had ferocious snow squalls off and on all day.
I'd go out and clean the feeder area, and, no sooner than I would get back in when we'd have another one.  It didn't stop the birds from coming, but I felt really sorry for them.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dignity? What Dignity?

Not Leon, when food is concerned.  The cat who jumps across the screen towards the end of the video is Becky, who wouldn't dream of doing what Leon does, but isn't above a little sucking up.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Grandma Loved to Read to her Grandchildren

Remember that feisty young wife who went back to Ireland, and let hubby move to the farm?  Well, she loved her grandchildren, of course.  She spent part of her year with my Uncle's family, and part with ours.  She was a big help to Mom around the house, and I think that she loved to take care of me while Mom got the housework done.

I loved stories.  Spoken, read or on tv, I loved to follow along and listen to the tales.  Grandma would read to me for hours.  Here's a picture to prove it.  If you look very closely, maybe you can see that the book is upside down.  That's the way that Grandma always read the stories, so that I could see the pictures.
I was the youngest grandchild and, by the time I was old enough to remember things Grandma had, unfortunately, become quite senile.  I wish I could have gotten to know her better.  I think that we would have been good friends, as well as Grandma and Granddaughter.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Enough With the Snow and Cold!

I love Winter, you all know that.  But, this has been a hard one, for many of us.  I'm getting tired of it.  It's 10 degrees F today, and not likely to go much higher.  We're supposed to get lake effect snow this afternoon, two to four inches of it.

So, just because, here's a reminder that Spring and Summer will come again, and the flowers will bloom.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Life and Death Struggle at the Bird Feeder

Late last afternoon, I heard a commotion outside.  I went to the window, and saw a red-tailed hawk, struggling with a Mallard duck.  I grabbed my camera and got one quick shot, before the Mallard broke free and both birds flew away.  I hope that the duck wasn't severely injured in the struggle, and will survive.

I'm going to put the picture up, because it's something not many of us will see in our lifetime.  It's not the best.  The birds were moving quickly, and it's somewhat blurry.  I'm also going to put it up small.  It's not graphic or bloody, but I realize that it may be something that not everyone will want to get a closeup view of.  If you want to see it larger, please click on it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"What's the Super Bowl, Leon?"

Asks Young Rachael.
"It's a human game, where big men run around and try to knock each other down." answers Leon.
"That sounds kind of boring," Rachael replies.
"Yup" says Leon, "we might as well join the old ladies"
A short time later.