What’s blooming in my garden and in my galleries

I meant to throw these photos in yesterday, but the post got long, and my neck got tired, and you know how all that goes. So I’m going to try out a gallery or two. I’m not sure if I can put different galleries on the same page.

As you will see, our blooms right now consist of the daffodil and hyacinth bulbs, a few pansies we put on the deck, the Lenten Rose powerhorses that have done remarkably well this year, and the beginnings of the bleeding hearts. Those are one of my favorites. You’ll sweet woodruff near the bleeding hearts, it’s a pretty bright green color and will produce a lovely little white blossom.

This is a tiled-mosaic gallery. I had to delete a few pictures and add others to be somewhat satisfied. I don’t know if there is a way to choose exactly where the photos go, so it was trial and error. I would have liked to exchange the large deck picture with the smaller bleeding heart one. You might miss it altogether. If you find it I do hope you’ll click on it to see the bleeding hearts larger. They’re just coming out. Once you’ve clicked on a photo, you can scroll through them all if you want. And I could have used captions, but just got lazy.

The hyacinths are beautiful, but the best part is their fragrance. Arthur thinks so too.

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This is a slide show I did with just two photos. I was a little slow at the start-up, but I think I’m really going to like the fairly new galleries at WordPress. Question answered. Yes I can put different galleries into the same post. This may not be news to you, but I am in a remedial blogging class over here.

Have you made it out of winter yet and into spring in your neck of the woods?

A conversation with Arthur regarding his haircut

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The day had finally arrived. Arthur was going to the groomers. “Let’s go, Arthur,” I said, “we’re going for a ride.”

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I’m not buying that ride stuff,” Arthur said. “The last time we went for a ride they shaved my leg, stuck a needle in it, made me throw up multiple times, and then kept me in a cage for three hours.

“Come on, Arthur. You need a haircut.”

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I don’t know why you say that.

Four hours later Arthur returns home with his new haircut.

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Dang. They put a scarf on me again. And they didn’t fix the place on my leg where they shaved me. I look like a half-baked poodle.

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“You’re so clean, and nice and soft, Arthur.”

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I wonder if I can lick this perfume off.

“Arthur, look at me so I can take your picture.”

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Really? Haven’t you done enough for one day?

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Maybe I can rub this off,

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or roll it off.

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If I can just push a little harder.

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Yes. I think this is working.

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Hey, did somebody say ‘squirrel’?

“Arthur, watch me.”

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Nope. I’m not. I’m not going to look at you.

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I’m going to hang my head in shame until my hair grows back.

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This is as good as it gets.”

“Good boy.”

Arthur survives poisoning by moldy peanuts

I should have known better. I plead innocent by virtue of a grief-induced foggy mind. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

Over the past weeks since both my parents died, my siblings and I have made a valiant effort to clean-up, clear-out, and distribute the possessions that remained, bizarrely, after my parents departed. It’s one of the strangest things about this whole experience. The things they bought, used, loved, kept, didn’t know what to do with, are all still here, without them.

Anyway, in what seems like an endless series of trips home, from the house they lived in that was left behind, I brought home boxes of photos, books, china, memorabilia, and so forth that either I couldn’t part with, or thought that my parents would have wanted kept. I realize my parents’ wishes in this matter are dubious at this point, at best, but the mind and heart does strange things when facing the absoluteness of death of a loved one or two.

Mark and I brought home the bird feeders we had given my dad for Christmas a year or two ago. And while we were in the garage, with the tools and fishing poles that my father also left behind, we went ahead and took the bird seed containers as well, including the one that contained peanuts in the shell for a little wire snowman feeder.

This morning I saw the birds checking out our empty feeders and I decided I would feed them the peanuts. In my exuberance to feed the birds, I remembered the little squirrels who are hungry, and threw a couple of handfuls of the peanuts on the ground in the garden. Arthur, who was accompanying me in my works of generosity for nature’s creatures, immediately snagged a peanut and ran off with it.

At first I was worried, confusing peanuts for chocolate momentarily and trying to remember if Arthur was allergic to peanuts. By the time he returned to grab a second peanut, having devoured the first one shell and all, I realized that if Arthur could eat peanut-butter, which he can, he should be able to eat peanuts.

Then a nagging thought occurred to me, how old were those peanuts anyway? And the old girl scout song, Found a Peanut, in which someone finds a peanut, cracks it open, finds it is rotten, eats it anyway, and ends up getting sick and then dying, from decades ago came back to haunt me. By now Arthur has returned for at least a third, and possibly fourth peanut.

I crack one open. It is moldy.

I grab all the peanuts I can find on the ground and throw them away. I empty the bird feeder of peanuts.

I think Arthur’s stomach will reject the moldy peanuts he ate if they are a problem and he will likely throw up.

But he’s just a little dog.

So I call the vet.

Three hours  and $94 later, I pick Arthur back up from the animal hospital where his system has been chemically purged, then chemically calmed down again. Except for a shaved area on his right front leg that they used for the IV, Arthur does not seem any worse for the wear.

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But his long-overdue haircut scheduled for tomorrow will have to wait.

What kind of responsible pet owner would deliberately traumatize the little guy two days in a row?

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Audubon BirdCam – Take-1

I was excited when Mark surprised me with an Audubon BirdCam for Christmas. Now I could see what was going on outside when I wasn’t watching.

As you may know, beginning December 2, the months of December and January were difficult months for me as I tried to help manage our parents’ illnesses and moves to other living facilities. I was gone a lot, stopping home for brief pit stops, a change of clothes, a good night’s sleep. Under normal circumstances, given an exciting gift like the BirdCam, I would have immediately rushed outside and set it up. But these weren’t normal circumstances, so you’ll understand that I didn’t get my BirdCam set up outside until January 3rd.

Under normal circumstances, I would have been checking the BirdCam for new photos daily. As it was, I left it up outside and didn’t give it a second thought until February 11th, when I went out to retrieve the stunning photos of  birds that I was sure my new BirdCam had recorded in my absence.

I thought I’d share my first results using the BirdCam with you in the slide show below.

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One thing you will notice right away is that the BirdCam did an excellent job of recording Mark, in various states of dress, filling the bird feeders throughout the weeks. You might also notice he was accompanied by Arthur at times who kept watch. You can see other wildlife, even an occasional bird or two, the best shots being of the squirrel that attempted to sneak its way up the pole. And you undoubtedly noticed the fine up close shot the BirdCam got of my red purse when I retrieved the photos.

Here is a cropped and enlarged photo of what may be a hawk in flight—the pride and joy of my first attempt with the BirdCam.

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Clearly, the BirdCam is not idiot-proof and I suspect I could profit from taking a close look at the instruction manual.

However, if I ever need to see what Mark is up to outside, I have the equipment to do it.

Everything’s coming up mushrooms

I first noticed one from inside my house as I looked out the window. I thought it was a piece of trash in the yard, a small white balled-up piece of paper perhaps. I ignored it, hoping it would leave the same way it came, maybe on a gust of wind.

Then earlier this week when I was trying to photograph the beautiful yellows, oranges, and reds of the trees that are coloring our view in a 360 degree theatre sort of way, I noticed more than one little white blot on our now overgrown grass and realized they were rather large mushrooms.

I discarded my immediate concern for a little white dog who frequents the yard as I quickly remembered the little creature is a picky eater and won’t even eat his dog food unless I am in the kitchen with him.

I feel fairly certain he never snacks on anything that grows outside. And why should he when he has a bag full of diced cooked chicken in the freezer?

Once my fear of poison sprouting from the yard subsided, my thoughts turned more scientific. Why do I have mushrooms in my yard? I wondered. So I googled that exact question and got quite a few hits. I went with the one from Scotts.com because I think they know a lot about yards. According to Scotts.com you can blame the occurrence of mushrooms on “the right mix of moisture, shade or cloudy weather, and organic material in the soil.”

“Mushrooms are fungi, or rather, the reproductive part of fungi that live in the soil. Most of the time, the fungi just stay hidden, breaking down organic material. But, when conditions are right, they burst forth, like desert flowers blooming after a rain. Mushrooms spread spores into the air and then go away when the sun comes out or the soil dries up,” Scotts.com

If you’re so inclined, you can try to reduce the eruption of mushrooms by decreasing the shade in problem areas, increasing the ground drainage, removing old tree stumps, and promptly removing pet waste.

I found a picture of our mushrooms at AmericanMushrooms.com. They are called the Shaggy Mane mushroom,  are very common, and reportedly have a really nice flavor. I haven’t tried them. I still firmly adhere to the rule that if you don’t know for sure what something is, don’t eat it.

From Mushrooms in the Middle at Wordsxo

Some people intentionally grow mushrooms. If you want to know how, you might find Julia’s post from last year at Wordsxo, Mushrooms in the Middle, informative and entertaining.

Of course, I don’t need to go to all the bother that Julia details in her post. I’ve got a little white animal apparently spreading more than enough organic matter throughout the yard to sprout all the Shaggy Mane mushrooms we could possibly desire—another reason I’m not ever likely to eat these mushrooms.

A windy morning at the VOA

The wind is brisk. It chills the early May morning air and bends the tall grasses bordering dense fields of lavender clover.

Ducks are slow to wake

at water’s edge.

But the geese are ready to start the day.

A little house sparrow already hunts for food.

And an American Coot is out on the water.

Nature’s garden paints a picture in lavenders, white, and yellows.

A robin turns her head to watch me pass.

Another finds a worm.

While red-winged blackbirds

guard the fields

from tops of trees

and stems.

A juvenile learns his trade.

High in the sky birds chases a hawk

Eventually driving it to the ground.

The wind flips leaves on a young oak tree, bends the reeds, and ripples the water.

Geese with their goslings head for the water.

A robin scavenges a dried, stiff worm from the walk, keeping her eyes on the little white dog

who merely watches.

The man and the dog both stand and watch.

The dog-walker making it possible for me to share this walk with you.

 

Photos taken at the Voice of America Park – Butler County, Ohio

Duck, duck, goose, goose and a blackbird, swallow or two

Red-winged blackbird at VOA park, West Chester, Ohio

Arthur’s been patiently waiting through rainy and stormy days for me to take him for exercise. Yesterday, under blue skies, we took at walk at the Voice of America county park where red-winged blackbirds are in abundance. They are in the trees,

Red-winged blackbird

on the ground,

Red-winged blackbird

and in the bushes. I might have had a better photo or two if not for the small, white, untrained dog

who was straining at the leash,

tromping through puddles,

and drinking from them.

Queen’s Lace

all the while I was trying to hold steady to catch a photograph of a field of Queen Anne’s lace, or a swallow in the distant—trying to use two hands on my cell phone camera while wearing the leash on my wrist, which continually jerked by said small animal attached to the other end.

Tree swallow

Of course I had my sunglasses on, and the cell phone camera’s screen was dim from the sunlight, so I was shooting blind in many cases. “Just aim in the right direction and hope to catch something. Cropping might help.”

Unidentified bird

I have no idea what this bird is. I saw it fly, then land on a bench and move to the ground. In the flurry of transferring Arthur’s leash from my hand to my wrist, unlocking the iPhone, starting the camera and zooming in, this was the best I could do. Anybody know what this is with so few clues? It’s relatively slim, not full-bodied like a duck.

American Coot

These black ducks made a striking picture on the small lake. I believe they are male American Coots, and that the brownish ones are the females. This is based on merely the color of their beak or bill. You can’t notice it from this professional photography, but they black ones actually had a lot of gray on their lower body if I’m recalling correctly. Feel free to set me straight.

American Coot

Here’s a better picture. Better is a relative word.

Canada Geese and goslings

I do not know how I managed to get this clear shot of the geese and goslings, but I’ll take it. Goslings always remind me of a song we used to sing when I was young called “Go Tell Aunt Nancy,” with the lyrics “Goslings are mourning (repeated three times) because their mother’s dead.” Actually, after some intensive researching online this morning to get to the bottom of this important issue, I discovered that the title is actually “Go Tell Aunt Rhody,” and that the line we always sang, “She died last Friday, (repeated three times) with a pitchfork in her head,” should actually be: “She died in the mill pond from standing on her head.” A little less violent, but gruesome just the same.

Anyway, the next time I want to take bird photos at VOA park, I am going to take my DSLR with my new zoom lens, and a dog-walker with me.

See the lyrics and more information on the American Folk Song, “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.”

Weekly photo challenge: Regret

Honey was our first family dog and only dog besides Arthur, if you can fully consider Arthur a dog. Honey was beautiful. People complimented her everywhere we took her.

In the spring of 2001 we finally broke down and decided to get a dog when the kids were getting older, I was busy running them around, and our youngest son was going to be left home alone more and more. We thought a dog would add a sense of security and companionship to our home.

When I called a local vet about dog breeds, the receptionist said, “You might want to come in and look at a rescue puppy we have here.”  So we went. Anna had always been intimidated by dogs since she had an unfortunate incident when she was young. But we thought a puppy wouldn’t be threatening. When we got to the vet’s and they took us to the outdoor run to show us Honey, Anna took a step back. And I was surprised myself. I was expecting a puppy. Honey, the name the staff had given her, looked like a full-grown dog to me. And she really was full-grown in size by then, but the vet estimated she was only about nine months old. One of their clients had found her lurking around the back of their yard by their shed. Later we found a couple of beebees imbedded in her back legs.

We were told Honey was given the name not only because of her color, but because of her disposition. With that kind of recommendation from experts, we knew we would be getting a sweet dog. We were right.

When she died eight years later, in the spring of 2009, from a spinal disc problem we were trying to treat, we were all devastated.

I regret she wasn’t able to be here with us in our new home where she would have had a large yard to roam, deer to watch, and plenty of squirrels to chase.

A little Christmas Eve story with Happy Holiday Wishes

Arthur stands at the window all day and watches.  He looks up.

He looks down. What is he looking at?

Oh my. Arthur sees a squirrel up on the chair. The squirrel is trying to jump to the bird feeder.

The squirrel gives up and goes for the easy pickings.

Arthur barks at the squirrel.

The squirrel doesn’t care. The squirrel only worries when I say to Arthur, “Do you want to get the squirrel?” and Arthur turns and dashes  from the room. He runs around the banister in the hall, taking the curves on three-legs. He runs to the door and gets into a stance to sprint. When I open it, he dashes out the door straight for the squirrel. The squirrel is halfway across the driveway or up a tree by the time Arthur makes it across the porch.

It’s no wonder Arthur barks at those pesky squirrels.

Who invade his territory.

Arrogantly tease him.

And then run away.

But Arthur doesn’t worry. He’ll be right back here at the window tomorrow. Doing his job.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it with us. And happy winter holidays, however you celebrate them, from the squirrel-chasing, bird-defending little white dog and me.