The weather has been quite nice the last few days. I haven’t worn more than a sweater or jacket back and forth to work. In fact, although it’s supposed to rain all week, the temperature should hit the mid sixties tomorrow. The last of the deep snow banks on the side of the driveway has melted. The yard is muddy and flat, not quite aware of what is happening all around. This evening I noticed that the daffodils are a good six inches out of the ground with nice round tops and that familiar bulge that holds spring deep inside. Even the dog has made her ever so irritating move to springdom, as it now takes an additional ten minutes for her to remember why she wanted to go outside…nose in the air and tail to the wind.

Signs of spring are all around. Even at work. Yesterday morning I felt that familiar crunch under my shoes as I walked into the break room. The kind that makes you stop and look down to the ceramic tiles and then lift up your shoe. And there they were. First just a few, but by the end of the day they had multiplied into a pretty good sized dark colored mass of activity around the doorway and along the wall. The ants are up and on their way.

Our break room is pretty clean, but there are always fresh crumbs of one sort or another. Most recently the leavins of girl scout cookies, which I’m sure they find as inviting as we do. We struggle with the ants, as well as the cookies, every year about this time. Last year our maintenance department sent over a wonderful little can of spray. An environmentally friendly repellent of sorts. It smells like peppermint to me, but the ants sure don’t like it. Neither does our custodian.

He comes in the afternoon and works into the evening when most of us have gone home. That’s why I’m relatively sure I’m the only one who has witnessed what I am about to share. It’s a ritual I’ve been privy to since last year this time. It kind of puts in mind of the Bill Murray grounds keeper character in Caddy Shack, shoving a hose in the gopher hole. And I laugh every time I think of it.

So. Last night as I headed past the break room for the door, and the car, and home, I ran smack into our custodian. He was standing outside the break room door with a cup in his hand. “They’re back”, he said, and we both looked down. The floor was covered with water spread evenly across the ceramic tiles, deeper in the grouted areas, spilling on over to the carpet. “I’m drowning them”, he said. A measly little “I understand” was all that I could muster. I’ve been here before.

I tried to convince him last year, that the spray might be the way to go. This morning our little visitors had doubled in size, and were walking around the plastic ant traps that he so carefully placed in the corners of the room. I’m not sure if they drown in their sorrows this afternoon, or not. I tend to think they headed back where they came from, until the way is safe once again. Tomorrow morning I’ll look for the wonderful peppermint spray, and chalk this up to another rite of spring.

The ants came marching two by two, Hurrah! Hurrah!
The ants came marching two by two
The little one stopped to tie his shoe.
They all go marching down, to the earth, to get out of the rain.
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom…

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Kudos to the DNR

February 2, 2008

Beautiful picture. Canada Geese in their natural habitat are gorgeous creatures, even majestic in their appearance. For years I have looked up into the sky searching for their flying V formation, accompanied by their familiar honking sound. It is still a beautiful, stirring sight that signals a seasonal change. And reminds me of my father.

Unlike the migratory Canada Geese that pass through Indiana every spring and fall, the ones we have around here have set up permanent residence. At one time they were extremely rare and great effort was made toward restoration. That, coupled with the increase in smaller bodies of water, such as retention ponds in areas of housing and business development, has provided an ideal environment for them to set up housekeeping and overpopulate. In urban and suburban areas they roam freely, without any natural predator. As a result, the population has grown to an estimated 130,000 in Indiana. And that’s not counting those that migrate.

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The average lifespan is 20 to 25 years and one breeding pair can lead to 40 in a matter of years. It isn’t unusual to see them haunting the parking lots in search of leavin’s from a populace that can’t seem to get the trash in the can. At times they are aggressive and have even been known to attack and nip those in close range.

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My daughter had a lovely apartment surrounding a lake which was home to a large flock of Canada Geese. Initially this seemed quite attractive, but in no time at all their nuisance became painfully obvious. They harassed the residents and left droppings similar to that of a dog, which required constant removal in order to walk from the door to the car without carrying it along with you. In addition, it was nearly impossible to navigate around or through them to get from the parking lot to the street.

According to this morning’s paper, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has declared a two-week open season on Canada Geese in an effort to regain control, and thin the number to 80,000. Although the 30 County area is farther to the East, maybe we will see some of the benefit in our neck of the woods. Those of you that visit here know of my infinite love for nature and it’s critters, but to this I say “Well done, DNR”. Maybe next they will take on the Gulls. I don’t think this was what Mother Nature had in mind.

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We had a wonderful snow for New Year’s Day and the feeders were full. The birds were waiting in line, which gave me a great opportunity to practice with my camera. Moving from a point and shoot has been a matter of confidence building for me. With my sight slipping a bit, I really didn’t think I could focus better than the camera. As a result, I have been sorely disappointed in the quality of my pictures. So this day I shut off auto-focus and tried it on my own. I know I have a ways to go, but I am so excited about the results! Anyway, here is my contribution to the Weekly Words Challenge…

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This week’s words are Brown and Pattern
thanks to Tink over at Pickled Beef.

Shades of Brown

Mourning Doves

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Mama Cardinals

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Pattern

Junco on the Wire

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Goldfinch on the Wire

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Are you seeing the pattern yet?

Papa Cardinal on the Wire

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Mostly they are polite and wait their turn!

This Red Finch is guarding his spot.

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And the little Wren on the tray is not the least bit interested in me or my camera!

 

Darn Squirrels!

December 8, 2007

Last winter the squirrels ravaged the three bird feeders outside my kitchen window. They came down from the roof, up the wire from the ground, and once I even saw them climbing the brick wall. All to get to the bird seed and suet. At first their acrobatics were funny. Then it got old. The birds didn’t tolerate them very well and so if the squirrels were there, the birds weren’t.

We added another feeder this year for oilers, and decided to try feeding the squirrels a cracked corn mix hoping they would stay away from the birds. The old cement bird bath made a perfect tray and was heavy enough that they couldn’t knock it over. The good news is, they are leaving the window feeders alone. And they appreciated the new feed. But not nearly as much as the new feeder. It didn’t take them long at all to figure out how to shimmy up the pole and crawl inside.

This morning I caught them in action. One inside and one perched on top. His patience wore thin and eventually rocked the feeder enough that he fell off. The other one emerged and chased him all the way across the back yard. I couldn’t have planned it better myself. Better than watching tv, for sure.

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What feathers?

November 19, 2007

Karisma wants to hear “THAT STORY”. The one our parents, siblings, extended family or friends, would never let us forget, live down or get over!” I paid for this one over and over again. And so did my dad.

It was a day much like today. Mid-November with a touch of frost in the morning, giving way to a sunny, but cool day. But the story really begins the evening before.

purse-2.jpgPheasant season was something my dad and I looked forward to, albeit for different reasons. I wasn’t quite old enough to make the hunt, but I loved it when he got home. This night, like many others, he carried his birds to the basement to dress and clean them in the laundry tubs. First he would scald them and pluck out the feathers. Then he would get rid of the unnecessary parts and gut them. I didn’t miss a stitch, right up and to the part where he would open the crop to see what they had for breakfast. By the time he was finished, there was no sign of what had just occurred and the birds were ready for the freezer. Now that I think about it, that was amazing in itself.

My prize for standing just close enough, but not getting in the way, was some of the feathers. The tail feathers were exquisite. Long and striped. Perfect to put in a vase, tickle my mom, and tease the cat. The pin feathers on the other hand were just feathers. I never could quite figure out what to do with them, but I wanted them just the same. My dad sent me upstairs to find something to put them in and the only thing I could think of was my purse. And so I did. All of them. My dad didn’t seem to mind.

The next day my mother scrubbed me up and dressed me in a red velvet dress, white nylon ankle socks with lace around the top, and black patent leather shoes. We were going to a luncheon. It was like nothing I had seen before. Long tables covered in white linens with lots of silverware and more than enough glasses. I sat alongside my mom and tried to be interested in the conversation.

I wiggled and fidgeted and rubbed my nose, at which point my mother directed me to get my handkerchief out of my purse. I hesitated and she glared and so I opened my little black purse. And all of the feathers I had packed neatly inside the night before came pouring out on me, on my mom, and on the lady sitting next to me. They were on the table and on the floor. And every breath sent them just a little farther from reach. I knew better than to smile for I had embarrassed my mother. She showed herself to be the lady that she was. Not one word was spoken as we struggled to clean up my mess. Finally some gentlemen came to our rescue and things returned to a calmness of sorts.

feather.jpgEvery once in awhile one of my mom’s friends would remind me of my mother’s surprise on that day. It became great fodder for family yarns. You’d think I would have been banished from my dad’s side as he cleaned the pheasants, or at the least forbidden to keep the feathers. But what we did was find a “more suitable” place to put them. Although it was a long, long time before my mother let me take a purse anywhere. And when she did, I had to open it for her first.

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This week’s words are Country and Urban
thanks to Tink over at Pickled Beef.

Here goes…

 

“Country Folk”

 

“Urbanites”

 

“Urban Country Folk”

Hold Still!

August 1, 2007

It’s Wordless Wednesday!

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