Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Next Knitting Class

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween. We had 7 little goblins for the evening. That means there will be some of the Little Debbie rice krispie treats left over for me!

I saw the first commercial with a Christmas theme on television last evening during the news (something about a teeth whitener so you'll have a brighter smile by Christmas). I guess since Halloween's over now, we will start getting bombarded by Christmas promotions. I'm already seeing quite a few holiday items in the stores, but I'm sure the retailers will be "kicking it up a notch" very soon.

If you're one of those people who enjoys making your own holiday gifts, you know how important it is to get an early start so you can have those gifts completed in time (and not have to get up at 4 AM that week before Christmas and knit like a fiend to finish a sweater for your sister-in-law, as I did one year). This month I will be teaching 3 different 2-hour knitting classes so people can knit up some gifts for friends and family. This Saturday, my students will learn to make a Mini Christmas Stocking.

So if any of you knitters are in the Rochester area this Saturday, I would welcome you to join my class!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cedar Waxwing Feeding Frenzy

I took these pictures last week of some cedar waxwings cleaning fruit off an unidentified tree in my backyard.

I planted this tree quite a few years ago but it's still quite short (only about 6 feet tall). I think it's some kind of a crabapple or cherry, but maybe someone reading this can make a positive ID based on these pictures of the leaves and the fruit.
The fruits are very tiny--not much larger than a blueberry or grape, but like my apple trees, this little tree was covered with fruit this year.

The Cedar Waxwings were loving this tree. There were both adults and juveniles.

You can see that many of the stems have been picked clean of the fruit.

It was fun to see the birds try to maneuver on the branches to reach the fruit. They really aren't very good clingers (especially the uncoordinated juveniles), so it was pretty comical to watch them twisting and stretching to try and grab a bite to eat.

The adult birds were much more dignified and adept at plucking the fruit off the stems.

The little tree is picked clean of fruit now, but there are still Cedar Waxwings hanging around in the yard. They have moved on to my bigger crabapple trees which are still covered with lots of fruit. I think it's going to be a pretty good winter for the fruit-eating birds in my yard.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Baby At Our House

My sissy and her daughter stopped over for a short visit this evening. They brought along baby Ethan. He was sleeping in his carrier and covered by a blanket when they arrived. Daisy was pretty interested in sniffing the blanket covering the carrier--probably because it smelled like her cousin Shelby (my sister's dog).

My niece set Ethan on the couch in his carrier and then he started crying. I wish I could have captured Daisy's reaction with my camera because it was so funny. I can't recall that she's ever seen a baby or heard one cry before! She got all wiggly and stretched her nose way out to the baby carrier but wouldn't walk too close to the couch. She seemed really concerned and kept looking back at us to see if we knew what was going on.

Ethan's wearing his "Trick or Treat" Tigger suit.

My niece lifted Ethan out of the carrier and Daisy got to take a little sniff of him then. Once he stopped making noise, Daisy decided he wasn't very interesting anymore and went back to sit in her chair. Dogs are so funny!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Doe and Fawn

Late this afternoon, I took these photos of a doe and fawn from my treestand in the woods. I heard something coming up the hill that sounded like a deer and finally these two came into my view. I relaxed and set my bow down so I could grab my camera and take some pictures. There's no way I'm going to shoot a doe when she has her fawn with her. I would rather have an empty freezer than do something like that.

Almost all the leaves have fallen from the trees, so it's easy to hear them coming if the wind isn't blowing too hard. (time to use the zoom)

This is the mom.

Here's the fawn in the foreground and the mom (ever watchful) in the background.

Mom and fawn are usually not too far apart.

I loved the opportunity to see this--mom giving fawn's ear a cleaning.

The fawn was already quite a ways up the hill past me, so I made a noise to see what the mom would do. She couldn't tell what I was up in the tree, but she definitely knew something wasn't quite right. I got a couple foot stomps from her and then she ran up the hill to the fawn and they both headed out to the cornfield for some supper.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Deer in My Backyard

I know a lot of people will think I am nuts for saying this, but I really like having deer in my backyard. I just wish I would see them once in a while. I know they're coming because I've seen the evidence:

Hoofprints everywhere in the yard

LOTS of poop (I can put this on the garden for fertilizer, can't I?)
Also enjoyed by my dogs as a tasty snack!

And how about this ground birdfeeder tray--totally licked clean! (This is what the feeder looks like every morning.)

The deer only visit at night and I've only seen them a couple of times by chance when I'm putting the dogs "out for a whizz." Then the deer are most likely to be seen under the apple trees feasting on apples that have fallen on the ground. I suppose that's their dessert after eating all the birdseed in the trays!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sorry Dear, Not Tonight

I have pictures filed for a couple posts, but I'm not feeling very ambitious tonight, so there's not going to be a post. However, my sissy sent me this very cute photo of her grandson (my grand-nephew) in his Halloween costume and I thought it would be fun to share.

This is Ethan, he was born 8-29-07

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Few Words About Bikers

This is the Spousal Unit and me on our final ride of 2006.

Someone sent me these words in an e-mail today at work. Don't let the leather and tattoos fool you, most bikers are very decent folks and work hard for their money just like you. They enjoy the same things you do--a lovely summer day, good times spent with friends and family, watching birds, gardening and knitting. If you get the chance, please share it with your biker and non-biker friends and the next time you pass a biker, give them a nod and smile. It will make their day and yours too. Thanks!

My Dad And I Both Are Bikers As Are Some Of Our Friends, So Please Think Next Time You See Some Of Us Out On Our Bikes!

I saw you, hug your purse closer to you in the grocery store line.
But, you didn't see me, put an extra $10.00 in the collection plate last Sunday.

I saw you, pull your child closer when we passed each other on the sidewalk.
But, you didn't see me, playing Santa at the local mall.

I saw you, change your mind about going into the restaurant.
But, you didn't see me, attending a meeting to raise more money for the hurricane relief.

I saw you, roll up your window and shake your head when I drove by.
But, you didn't see me, driving behind you when you flicked your cigarette butt out the car window.

I saw you, frown at me when I smiled at your children.
But, you didn't see me, when I took time off from work to run toys to the homeless.

I saw you, stare at my long hair.
But, you didn't see me, and my friends cut ten inches off for Locks of Love.

I saw you, roll your eyes at our leather coats and gloves.
But, you didn't see me, and my brothers donate our old coats and gloves to those that had none.

I saw you, look in fright at my tattoos.
But, you didn't see me, cry as my children were born and have their name written over and in my tattoo heart.

I saw you, change lanes while rushing off to go somewhere.
But, you didn't see me, going home to be with my family.

I saw you, complain about how loud and noisy our bikes can be.
But, you didn't see me, when you were changing the CD and drifted into my lane.

I saw you, yelling at your kids in the car.
But, you didn't see me, pat my child's hands, knowing he was safe behind me.

I saw you, reading the newspaper or map as you drove down the road.
But, you didn't see me, squeeze my wife's leg when she told me to take the next turn.

I saw you, race down the road in the rain.
But, you didn't see me, get soaked to the skin so my son could have the car to go on his date.

I saw you, run the yellow light just to save a few minutes of time.
But, you didn't see me, trying to turn right.

I saw you, cut me off because you needed to be in the lane I was in.
But, you didn't see me, leave the road.

I saw you, waiting impatiently for my friends to pass.
But, you didn't see me. I wasn't there.

I saw you, go home to your family.
But, you didn't see me.
Because, I died that day you cut me off.
I was just a biker. A person with friends and a family.
But, you didn't see me.

Repost this around in hopes that people will understand the biker community. I hope you never lose someone that rides. Have a great week my friends.
~~Author unknown~~

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Outside Saturday

Well, it finally stopped raining here and we were able to enjoy most of this Saturday outside. Because the freezer is almost empty of venison and the weather was going to be terrific, today was a deer hunting day. We were outside almost the entire day....from 5:30 this morning till about 7:00 this evening.

I enjoyed the sunrise from my treestand this morning.

And watched the sun set from another tree stand a couple miles down the road.

Unfortunately, the deer didn't receive the memo about it being a deer hunting day because I never saw a single deer the entire time I was out there! Maybe they were off somewhere just enjoying a rain free day also.

I was surprised to see quite a few yellow-rumped warblers around the field edge later this afternoon. My warbler field guide says they should be migrating through Minnesota by September 20, so these guys were kind of behind schedule. I suppose our unusually mild fall weather is still providing them with abundant food sources, so they should be okay for a while yet.

On our way home from our morning hunt, we drove past a little farm and I saw they had a few buffalo. As we were driving past slowly, I saw something.....

"Rick, Rick, stop the car and back up, I think there's a baby buffalo" I yelled. (loud sigh and some eye-rolling from Rick)

Isn't it cute? I don't think this little baby is very old.

I hope it makes it through the winter okay. Buffalo are a little bit hardier than beef or dairy cattle aren't they? Or have they lost all those wild genes that helped them to survive on the Great Plains 150 years ago?

So even if I didn't see any deer today, seeing this baby buffalo and lots of good birds made it a good "outside Saturday."

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Fish Story

A couple weeks ago, I brought my outside goldfish in for the winter. There are only 2 but they had quite a growth spurt over the summer. Fortunately, I was able to use some of my birthday money and purchase a new 10-gallon aquarium set-up for them. I also brought in some of the small water lettuce I had in the pond so I can maybe keep it alive over the winter and put it back in the pond next spring.

Here's a picture of one of my goldfish with my hand as a size reference. It really is this big! I have a calico one in the tank also, but that one is a little camera-shy. I got these goldfish at Wal-Mart about 2 and 1/2 years ago for less than $2 each. There were maybe 2 inches long when I brought them home and put them in the pond. I'm impressed with how much they've grown and how long-lived they have been. I sure enjoy watching them.

My friend Squirrel finally brought me some girl guppies today. He's been talking about it for a couple months, but he finally fished some out of his tank last night before heading up to the fish show in Minneapolis this weekend.

Here are the 3 new girls in their plastic bag getting acclimated to my tank. See the boy guppies in front checking them out and showing off for them?

This is going to be interesting. Squirrel says guppies are prolific breeders so I wonder how long it will be before my first baby guppies appear and how much time it will take for this small tank to be overrun with guppies of all sizes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Note from Mom & Some Birding

Here's a note my mom asked me to pass along to all my blogging friends:

Thank you all for all your good wishes and especially all the prayers you sent my way after my knee surgery. I got home Mon PM and I'm faithfully doing my exercises so I can have a complete recovery. The best part of celebrating your birthday in the hospital, you can eat in bed and everyone is at your beck and call.
MOM (Betty)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This afternoon I had to return a couple books to the public library and I told my spousal unit that I was planning to take a detour on the way home and stop at the reservoir to try and see some waterfowl before it started raining again.

This reservoir is a man-made lake and part of Rochester's flood control project. It used to be a really nice wild area, but now McMansions have been built on 2 sides and another new development has been proposed for a third side.

However, being the only fairly large body of water in southern Olmsted County, there is always a chance for a person to see some good birds there. I haven't been faithful about going over there, even though it's only about 2 miles from my house.

I know it's late in the season, but I took my binoculars, camera, and "Ducks & Geese" field guide to see if there was anything worthwhile for watching and maybe getting a picture of.

Right away after I got out of the car, I saw a pair of Pied-Bill Grebes. I recognized the body shape but had to look in the book to confirm their identity. I've never seen these birds before and was so engrossed in trying to identify them that I completely forgot to take a picture!

As I was walking down the path to the little pier out in the water, I spotted an adult Double-Crested Cormorant flying overhead. That was pretty cool.

Far out in the water, I could see another bird swimming. My binoculars showed me a bird sitting low in the water with a long skinny neck and long yellow beak. My first thought was some sort of grebe, but I couldn't get a good enough look to really determine what grebe species it might be. The bird swam around for a while until it finally made its way over to a partially submerged log and then hopped on top.

Looking through binoculars again, I immediately recognized this wing-drying posture. Could it possibly be another cormorant?

I opened up the field guide and sure enough, the bird I was seeing looked exactly like the picture of a juvenile Double-Breasted Cormorant. My field guide says they're a summer resident in most of Minnesota. I wonder if the adult bird I had seen earlier was one of its parents?

It started raining about 10 minutes after I got out of the car, so I decided to make my way home. As I was leaving the parking area, I noticed this male bluebird sitting on top of a streetlight. Such a gray can't even really tell that he's very blue.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Early Winter Visitors

Because I almost never plan any of my blog posts ahead of time, some days I have no idea what I'm going to post about and those are the days when I get my best inspiration. Today as I happened to glance out the window at the thistle seed feeder on the deck, I noticed some little brown-streaked birds that were way too small to be house finches. When I grabbed the binoculars for a better look, sure enough, they were Pine Siskins!

I thought I saw some on Saturday when I was hanging some laundry out to dry, but didn't get a close enough look to be sure.

Here's the photographic confirmation that Pine Siskins are in my yard (yard bird number 52). I haven't had Pine Siskins here for several years, but according to my migration chart, they're right on time by arriving in the third week of October.

What a cute little bird. The yellow wing markings show up pretty good in this picture, and you can kind of see a little bit of the yellow under the tail also. I hope they stay around for the winter.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cooper's Hawk Visit

Yesterday as I was sitting at the dining room table, I was lucky enough to glance outside at just the right time to see the Cooper's Hawk stop by for a visit.

I have this really nice fly-through feeder (purchased at WBU) mounted on my WBU Pole System in the backyard. Yesterday afternoon, there were quite a few little finches and sparrows dining here when all of a sudden, the Cooper's Hawk flew down and landed on top. (Note: I like this fly-through feeder because the brackets holding the roof prevents crows from getting inside to pig out on seed and now I know it also keeps the Cooper's Hawk from getting in to eat little birds!)

Of course, as soon as the hawk landed on top, all the little birds underneath flew quickly to shelter in nearby shrubs and trees. It was so funny to see the hawk walk across the top of the feeder and look down under the doubt trying to figure out a way to get down there.

Hmmmm....I know there were birds here a second ago.

Why can't I see them anymore?

I think I hear some over in that big viburnum shrub....

I was so excited to get the chance to see this in my backyard (even if the photos are a little blurry from through the window). Usually the hawk flies in so fast and leaves again before I even get a chance to grab for the camera.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Final Weekend with John

Deere John,

I feel it's time once again for us to go our separate ways.
I've spent every weekend with you since last April and we've had a fun summer, but now you're starting to get on my nerves. You're loud and sometimes you smell bad.
I hope you enjoyed our last time out together yesterday. Now that you're cleaned up nicely and tucked away in the corner of the garage, I'll bid you adieu until next April.
Have a good winter.


RuthieJ (aka The Lawn Mowing Goddess)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mitten Class

I taught the first session of mitten class last night. I had 5 students who were thrilled to be learning something new. All of these ladies have been in previous classes that I've taught, so I was flattered that they must have thought my previous classes were good enough that they decided to take another class from me. I have been known to be somewhat bossy with a "my way, no highway option" attitude and I've been trying really hard to get that under control.

At the beginning of class, I told my students that my goal for this class session was for them to have their mitten knitted up to the point where the thumb hole starts. Here's the photographic evidence of their progress.

"OK, everyone put your mitten on your hand and hold it up so I can take a picture for my blog."

A couple of the students didn't quite get to that point, but I think they had a good understanding of the process and hopefully will be back next week with their mitten finished almost to the top when I will teach them how to do the decreases and finish off their mitten.

This was also a good test of my pattern-writing skills and I will have to 'tweak' my pattern a little to make it more understandable for all knitting skill levels. (P.S. to Trixie & Ruth, I will send your patterns after I've made the revisions, OK?)

And getting back to my personality traits, I took a little personality test this morning over at Barefoot Gardener's blog and here are my results:

You Are 1: The Reformer

You're a responsible person - with a clear sense of right and wrong.

High standards are important to you, and you do everything to meet them.

You are your own worst critic, feeling ashamed if you're not perfect.

You have uncompromising integrity, and people expect you to be fair.

At Your Best: You are hopeful, honest, and inspiring. You bring out the best in humanity.

At Your Worst: You are intolerant, judgmental, and picky.
Comment: I think I'm usually at my worst more than my best (at least at work anyway) :-/

Your Fixation: Resentment

Your Primary Fear: Being corrupt.

Your Primary Desire: To be good.

Other Number 1's: Al Gore, Martha Stewart, Gandhi, Celene Dion, and Spock from Star Trek.

(holy crap--Martha Stewart, that's intimidating! no wonder some family members call me "the warden")

Hey, have a little fun this weekend and take the test yourself. Be sure to post a comment and let me know "What Number Are You"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yard Bird Number 50

Just for fun (and because I've never bothered to write it down before), I finally started a list of birds seen in my yard. We've lived at this place since 1988 and for all those years I've been trying to turn a farm field into a backyard wildlife habitat. Every year things are looking better and better and we now have plenty of mature trees and areas of dense cover from shrubs, wildflowers, and evergreens.

One of the reasons I decided to start a yard list was that I participated in the Project FeederWatch last winter, so there were a whole bunch of birds that I had already documented. It was amazing to me that on any given day during the winter, I was able to spot at least 14 different species of birds in my backyard.

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing in crabapple tree outside my dining room window.

I'm fortunate to have a backyard that's larger than most people's, thereby increasing my chances at seeing a variety of different birds. My outstanding sightings for this year so far have been a Killdeer, Red-Tailed Hawk, and just last week a Long-Eared Owl (which woke me up about 11:15 at night with it's loud cries) and I wouldn't have seen without the aide of my handheld spotlight!

Today, while walking the dogs around the backyard, I was thrilled to spot Yard Bird Number 50: Golden-Crowned Kinglet. I thought I recognized the little chirps and could see tiny birds flitting about in the evergreens, so I went back to the house for my binoculars and sure enough, I managed to catch a glimpse of this little feathered beauty. Now if you think chickadees move fast, they ain't got nothin' on a golden-crowned kinglet!

Needless to say, there was no way I would be able to get a photo, so to see pictures and learn more about the Golden-Crowned Kinglet, please click on this link for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Update on Mom: We got back from the hospital a short while ago. Mom's doing well, although the pain was starting to overcome the medication they were giving her to help with pain. She watched "Deal or No Deal" with us and then was starting to look pretty tired, so we decided it was time to go. They will be getting her out of bed tomorrow already.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Note From Mom

Dear Blogging Friends,
Below is a note from my mom sent to my e-mail last Wednesday (regarding her upcoming surgery). I, too, believe in the power of prayer and also ask that you please remember "Nature Knitter's Mom" in your prayers. I'll keep you posted on her progress and recovery. I'll miss her on my "comments" page until she's feeling better and able to get back to the computer again. I'm sure she's going to miss reading everyone's blogs also, so I'll keep her posted on what's going on in our "blogging family."

Thanks so much!

Hi All,

Wednesday was an all day at Mayo Clinic getting ready for surgery. Good news I passed all my tests, so the next step is Wed Oct. 10th, I will have my left knee replaced, in Rochester Methodist Hosp. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate a prayer or two on my behalf, I firmly believe in prayer because God does answer prayer.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Monday

Today was my first day back at work after a week's vacation (boo hoo). Fortunately, I had plenty of work piled up so the day went fast and I didn't have much time to think about how tough it was to be back at work.

Thankfully, the weather has finally cooled down. My air conditioner was still running this morning as I was getting ready for work, but by the time we got home, I was able to open up the windows and let the nice cool westerly breeze into the stuffy house. We had some heavy rains again overnight and this morning.

But I believe (hope) this weather system is now moving in an easterly direction so relief may be only a day or two away for those of you still sweltering on the east coast.

I tried a new preserve yesterday: apple butter (made with apples from the trees in my backyard). It didn't make a huge amount of jam--next time I'll throw a few more apples into the pot.

It's quite tasty (even without some toast to spread it on).

Oops, where did it go?? Well, it would be kind of gross to scoop it out of the jar and then put it back in, don't you think?

The cooler weather has brought a few more birds back to the feeders. Here's a somewhat shabby looking juvenile cardinal growing into his adult plumage and having to share the feeder with the Houses -- finch and sparrow.

In closing, I just wanted to say that I've been having a heck of a time with Blogger letting me add the pictures to my posts lately. Have any of you been encountering this also? I wonder if it's just a busy time when other people are posting also? I'll have to experiment with trying to get my posts in earlier and see if it makes any difference.