Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Vagaries of Spring

It felt more like Summer than Spring here today; our temperature high was 70 degrees F!  Definitely not normal for late April.  

I was so tempted to pick up some annuals and plant them, but I managed to resist.  I remembered when, three years ago, I spent nearly $100.00 on annuals that I bought in a moment of madness in early April while visiting a nursery down the hill (6,000 feet lower in elevation and 30 degrees F warmer) with my sister.  Two weeks later they all died when the temperature dropped to 25 degrees F.  Sadder but wiser, now I wait.  

Before Global Warming really kicked in, I always waited until May 30th to plant anything.  The seasonal changes were more reliable than they are now and anyone who had lived here for a while knew that to plant before May 30th was just asking for disaster.  Now, I plant during mid-May and hope for the best.  And if I've guessed wrong and Nature plays her tricks, I watch enviously while the gardens of the gardeners who planted in April (and got lucky) bloom way ahead of mine.  Oh, well.

 I did pot up some pansies today that I bought down the hill last week and 'hardened off' by putting them outside for the warmest hours of the day, then bringing them inside for the night. 

Now the temperature has dropped to a chilly 39 degrees F and a cold little wind has picked up, so I've made a fire in the living room fireplace, and I'm going to have a mug of hot tea along with the peanut butter cookies I just baked.  The cats are asleep in front of the fire but the dogs are waiting not-so-patiently for the cookies they know I'll share with them. I just wish my Great Dane wouldn't drool...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Praise of Eccentricity

While out driving around with a friend, I passed this sign. I thought it was charmingly eccentric, my friend didn't care for it. (Not the sign itself. She just doesn't like any sort of yard decoration).

I've always been drawn to eccentric people. I find them, usually, more interesting than people who are strictly conventional. But that is not to say that I don't know or like any interesting, conventional people, I do.

Most of the women in my family, and extended family, could be called 'eccentric' and they would take it as a compliment. I think it takes a certain amount of courage to be eccentric, especially if you're a woman, even in current times. Of course, in times not too far past, it was risky, even life-threatening, for either gender to be anything other than exactly like their neighbors. I'm so glad I don't live in times like those; I'm not sure I would have survived!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beautiful Birds

A female Black Headed Grosbeak and a couple House Finches.

Another female BH Grosbeak.  This picture is blurry, but you can see a bit of the beautiful gold that's on the underside of their wings. 
A handsome male BH Grosbeak displaying his gorgeous coloring. 

A male BH Grosbeak, a Purple Finch, and the back of a House Finch.  They're all a bit out of focus, but the bird feeder kept swinging back and forth. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

January in April

It snowed all of yesterday and all through the night.  The snow started out as typical spring snow; heavy, wet, exactly like the kind we had on April 5th.  Then, around 10 p.m., the temperature dropped dramatically and we were getting the kind of snow we usually get in January.   Our low last night was 21 degrees F!  It didn't knock any of the blossoms off of my Rainer Cherry tree, and the apple trees haven't put out their blossoms yet, thank goodness.  It's not unusual to get snow in April.  Up until the mid-eighties it was a regular occurance.  But it is unusual for it to be so very cold!

This male Black Headed Grosbeak is standing on top of the snow that's left on one of the bird feeders and, to my eyes anyway, he looks a bit indignant.  The Grosbeaks usually don't show up until cold weather is over.  He was probably confused by the hot-cold-warm-hot-cool-hot-cold completely crazy weather we've been having lately.  I know I am! 

We have four Grosbeaks visiting our feeders, two males and two females, so I hope we'll be seeing lots of Grosbeak babies in several weeks, along with lots of the babies of all the other species of birds that visit our feeders.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Fluctuations

"Oh, NO!  Not this cold stuff again!"  I wonder if that is what this little squirrel is thinking. 

Personally, I'm very glad to see the 'white stuff' even though it turned to heavy rain later on in the day.  Rain, snow...it's all good! 

Our high today was 30 degrees F.  Tomorrow it's supposed to get up to 55 degrees.  That's normal Spring weather up here.  We have a saying (similar to many other places, I'm sure) "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes!"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Little Kind of Day

A little sun, a little sleet, a little rain, a little fog, a little wind, a little earthquake...

Well, actually, the earthquake wasn't so little. It was a 7.2, but it was centered in Mexicali, a town just below the California/Mexico border. I was standing at the dining room table, clearing the dishes, when I thought I was having a dizzy spell...then the light that hangs over the center of the table tapped me gently on my head and I looked around to see other things swaying and shaking. As earthquakes go, it wasn't much of a big deal up here. I hope and pray the people and animals who are closer to the epicenter are all right. And, oddly, it was felt as far north as Santa Barbara, about 200 miles from here.

The strongest one I can remember was the Landers/Big Bear quake in 1992. It's magnitude was 8.0 and the epicenter of the Big Bear portion was just a few miles from me. It damaged the foundation of my little cottage, separated the third floor staircase from the wall, knocked things off walls, and knocked everything out of my kitchen cabinets. Well, the cabinets that faced north and south. The doors on the cabinets that face east and west didn't even open! I guess it all depends which fault line the earthquake is on. After I had that damage repaired, I had the cottage retro-fitted for earthquakes, which basically means they bolt the house to the foundation. It's supposed to make it earthquake "proof." I sure hope so...I live just a few miles from the San Andreas fault, one of the biggest in California. It's funny...I have a healthy respect for earthquakes, but they don't really scare me. Good thing, since we have so many here!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Who Are You?

I thought my feeders were being visited by a new species of bird, but then I looked up "House Finches" in my Audubon book.  According to it, the yellow and orange ones are immature males and will become more red as they get older.  I've been feeding birds for years, but this is the first time I've ever seen the yellow and orange ones.  I guess I'm not as observant as I thought... 


I wish they'd stay yellow and orange, I think they're gorgeous!
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