Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hello, Gorgeous!

This gorgeous guy is a Black Headed Grosbeak, the Western variety of Grosbeaks. He and his missus have been partaking of the bounty at our feeders for the past several weeks, and gathering nesting materials from around our yards. She is very shy and I haven't been able to get a picture of her. She's a light tannish-gold and doesn't have the black head like her mate, but has dark brown stripes above and below her eye. I haven't seen her in the past two days, so I hope she's sitting on their eggs in a nest somewhere close by.

I guess he thought I was too close; I was sitting on my front porch and the tree that he was in is only about 20 feet from where I was. He flew up into a much higher tree and turned his back, but still kept a wary eye on me. So, I took the hint and went inside. I guess he hasn't made the connection that I'm the one who puts out the food. And...wait a he sneering at me?!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Nature's Promise

Baby red oak leaves
Holding a summer promise
In their sharp green tips

Thursday, April 23, 2009


That's all I'm doing...yawning. I'd really like to go to sleep, but for some reason, sleep is avoiding me tonight. It's 1:00 a.m. here in California, and I've been up since 6 a.m., I had a busy day, so where's the sandman? I'd like to go for a walk but the moon isn't anywhere near full. I can't even see a tiny little sliver of her. And while the stars are huge and bright, they're not bright enough to light my way through the forest.
The last time I felt like this I took a flashlight, roused my dogs and went ahead and went for a walk, staying on the path...and I stepped right into a big pile of bear poop. At first, I was just extremely annoyed because I thought it was dog poop. Then I noticed the way my dogs were acting and I took a closer look and saw the seeds and other things that identified it as bear scat. We don't have Grizzlies here (THANK GOD!!) but our little black bears can be testy sometimes. Especially, I suppose, if some idiot woman were to run into them in the dark.
I started talking to my dogs, telling them to stay calm, stay close to Mommy, don't be scared, yada yada yada. Then I looked around and saw that my dang dogs had already taken off! Right about now I was really wishing I had taken their advice and stayed home; they hadn't wanted to come out for a walk in the first place.
So I start shining my flashlight around and talking in a loud voice (because someone once told me you should let the bear know you're there) saying, "Hello bear, if you can see me, and I really hope you can', no I hope you CAN so you can avoid me because I really don't want to meet you...well, I mean I'm sure you're very nice, I didn't mean to be rude, OH ANYWAY, I mean you no harm" when a voice right behind me says succinctly, "Why don't you just tell him you're from the planet Looney and you come in peace?"
Well, at least that showed me that I have a strong, healthy heart because, by rights, I should have had a heart attack right then and there. It also showed me that another part of my body is strong because I didn't leave a "pile" of my own on the path. But my husband? Well...I bet he'll never follow me around in the dark and make smart-ass remarks EVER AGAIN. Even if it did take me a while to catch him.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Insane Heat

The high yesterday was 75 and I thought that was crazy. Today it was 80 degrees!! And it's still April!!! The cherry tree in the above picture had buds on it two days ago, tight, little, nowhere-near-open buds. At least, I think it's a cherry tree because the blossoms look similar to a tree a friend of mine has. This was a volunteer and this is the first year it has bloomed. It's very tall for a cherry tree, but then so is her Ranier cherry tree.
Anyway, back to these insane temperatures. This time of year we're usually still getting spring snow, either heavy and wet or the consistency of popcorn. And our normal highs range from 33 to 45.
I hate this. I hate the feeling that all of nature is out of balance. We've lost over a million Ponderosa Pines in these mountains to the Pine Bark Beetle since 2001 because the warmer temperatures weakened their natural resistance to the little monsters. When we cut down the dead trees on our land (it's a fire hazard to leave them standing) we found that many were over 400 years old. It broke my heart.
I have a friend who lives along the coast of British Columbia. She said the Pine and Spruce Beetle arrived there this past summer and did quite a lot of damage, but that the trees in the interior of BC were affected even more: Millions of acres of dead trees. Millions of acres.
What kind of planet will the children of today have by the time they are adults? Will they have to show their grandchildren pictures of trees? Pictures of vast green forests, bears, mountain lions, polar bears,clear mountain streams, snow?
I hope not.

Monday, April 13, 2009

First Violets of Spring

I was beginning to wonder if my violets would come back this Spring. Usually they're up long before now; sometimes they've even bloomed as early as February (well, only once, but still...). I have violets all over my garden, front yard and back, and they are precious to me. Why? When I moved into this cottage in the early 1970's, I dug up some violets from my mother's garden. They bloomed, spread and thrived in the following years.
Mama passed in 1994. She could be likened to violets; beautiful but tenacious, delicate-looking but with an inner core of pure steel, able to not only withstand harsh, devastating storms but go on to become even stronger after the storms retreated. The words have not been invented to convey how much I miss her. But she comes back to me...every Spring when her violets bloom.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I've been looking around a lot of blogs today because I've had to stay inside. I was outside all day yesterday and there's something out there that really aggravated my allergies. I can't think what it would be; there's nothing blooming except for daffodils and pussy willows and they've never been a problem before. Today it's horribly windy (gusts to 70 mph) so I decided the prudent thing to do would be to stay indoors.
I noticed a lot of blogs have a thing called "Feedjit" that shows where you're from. Or, at least, I guess that's what it's supposed to do. It has me showing up from various different places that are, at minimum, 150 miles away from here and one place is about 600 miles from where I live (I had to look it up on a map). And I haven't arrived from the same place twice! Ahh, the Internet...a mystifying place indeed.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

So Well Dressed!

I looked out my studio window this afternoon and saw this beautiful Northern Flicker Woodpecker sitting on an arbor. They're one of my favorite birds with their gorgeous spots on their chests, the bright "rouge" on their cheeks, and the dapper "cravat" at their necks. When they fly, one can see that the underside of their wings are the same color as the "rouge" on their cheeks. They're always impeccably dressed; wish I could say the same for myself! ;-)

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