Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Favorite Things

Winter weather outside, but nice and cozy inside.  
I thought I had to post this picture I took with my phone.  
Barley settled down on my camera strap to watch me drink coffee and play some iPad games.
Two of my favorite things
Outside, it is snowing very lightly and that, 
much to my delight, 
has really brought the little birds to the feeders.
Another of my favorite things is to watch these little creatures out my living room window.
Is it shoulder to shoulder or...wing to wing...either way, No Vacancy
I am not sure how much of this I will share here, but one of my goals this year is to improve my health.  This will include increasing my physical activity and changing my diet to lose weight.
I am in my fourth week and so far achieving my goals of increasing my level of exercise 
and have also lost my goal in pounds.
I have told my close friends so I guess it might as well be part what I tell my readers too.  
Helps keep me honest.
Thinking back now, I realize that when some of my friends retired, they did make working out part of their new 'job'.  I regret that I didn't really think about that too much 
and instead got out of the habit when I quit working.  I loved being lazy, but it comes with a price.
But it is never too late to change, so I have begun to build exercise into every day.
I am feeling great and can't wait for the nice weather to take it outside.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sunday snow

The weather folks got it right, it started to rain/sleet Sunday afternoon and then turned to snow.  I think you call this texture of snow, sugar snow.  It piled up pretty good.  The cats and I decided to wait until Monday to shovel, so we lounged in front of the fire most of the afternoon and evening.
Barley really loves to stretch out in from of the fire and relax.
Monday morning, looking out at the job I had to do, I was questioning my decision to wait to shovel.  
Ugh, looks like a big job.
I bought a snow blower in the spring of 2010.  I used it about 3 times in the winter of 2010-11 and not once last year.  Today was the first time I was going to use it for this season.  I barely got started when I noticed that the left tire was flat.  So, pushed it into the garage, hooked up the bicycle pump and much to my surprise, the valve stem came off in my hand.  So, I finished the job with a flat tire, which meant the blower wanted to track to the left, but I managed.  Of course the maintenance agreement that I bought on the blower does not cover tires/tubes.  Geesh.
Owell, I got the job done with a flat, just had to muscle the machine more.

Ta Da
I have 'a thing' about keeping my driveway clear.  Partly it is a safety thing because I don't want there to be any ice to slip on, but partly it is a perfectionist thing I think.  I never thought I was a perfectionist until the last few years where I find myself needing to have some things in my life 'just so'.
I always feel good when the driveway is cleared and today it is so warm that it is quickly melting to be just dry asphalt.

The trees are just lovely today.
This snow is hanging on their branches like cream cheese frosting.

This blue spruce is one of the trees I had planted this fall.
I have wished since then that I would have planted those trees the first year I was here,
but then I saw this quote, and I know that I planted at just the right time.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The next best time is now."

Chinese Proverb
If you look closely, you will see that this tree still has Christmas lights shining.
This little tree at the edge of my yard was really hanging with snow.
This storm was LUNA with the new naming convention the weather folks are using.
Maybe it will be a trivia question sometime.

This evening I took a picture of the blue spruce again, as you can see I have not turned off the Christmas lights yet and it looked just so pretty today.
Either really late... or really early Christmas tree.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

UWEC Cabaret

On Saturday, I went to Eau Claire with Pete & Carol to the UWEC Davies Center to see a cabaret performance by the Performing Arts students.  

The show was about 2 hours long with over 100 students singing and performing plus the orchestra.  It was amazing.  The talent level was very excellent and the show quite entertaining.  This show is a practicum for the students and is planned and managed and executed by the students, with the ticket proceeds funding scholarships for these students.  

The room set up was classy with white table cloths and a dessert/sandwich bar and cash liquor bar.  Our seats were great and the ticket price only $20.  

I won't miss this next year and hope to take at least one of my great nieces to see the show, I already added it to my calendar.

As a bonus, Pete drove, so I was a passenger in the car instead of driver, which is a nice change of pace for me and gave me a chance to enjoy the scenery on what I think is a very nice drive down Hwy 53 into Eau Claire.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Photo subjects

When a person stays home all day, the potential subjects of photographs are limited.
Barley had me pinned today so I took this picture of her.
I think her black vs white whiskers are so interesting.
I think she knows she looks good.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Coldest weather in four years

This is my 4th winter in Rice Lake.  This week we are having temperatures well below zero.
I heard on the news that yesterday was the coldest day in 4 years.
I remember that first winter here, we had record snow falls and record cold.
I wondered what I had gotten into by moving here, 
but since then, the winters have been quite mild.
The bird feeders have been very busy during these very cold days.
I believe this little baby is a Hoary Redpoll vs a Common Redpoll.
The marking differences are subtle, but I'll make it my best guess.
The suet blocks disappear almost over night.
My yard has become very wood pecker friendly,
I hope that is a good thing in the long run.
The little red band across the nape of the neck of a downy woodpecker male is a bright flash of bright color.

Lucky for me, I don't HAVE to go out on these cold days.
On Monday, I did venture to my piano lesson.  My car was barely warm by the time I got to the music shop and then was icy again when I came out after just 30 minutes.
I happened on a man walking with a gas can as I was headed home, so I turned around and went back and picked him up, took him to the gas station and then back to his car.  This below zero weather is no time to run out of gas, it is really life threatening weather.
Today was a home day, spending time on my computer games and holding cats.
Life is Good.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The birthday that goes on and on

My friends, Pete and Carol, had invited me to come for dinner to celebrate my birthday, back in December. But with my trip to Iowa and then a cold and then Uncle Chris's passing, our plans got delayed.
So, this past weekend was our make up day.
On Friday afternoon, Carol and I had toured the new ER addition to the Mayo Hospital in Barron.  It was interesting and looks like a very well thought out addition to that small scale hospital.
Then we headed to Pete and Carol's for dinner.  We had a nice cocktail hour with snacks, played some Wii bowling and great conversation.  Pete is a chemical engineer and it took me back to some of my Coors days experiences.  
Carol made delicious lasagna for dinner and even had a small birthday cake with a candle.  Also, a gift of a sixer of Coors Banquet, the perfect gift for me.
Carol had suggested that I bring my overnight kit so there would be no worries about driving after a few drinks.  It was nice to be able to enjoy a few beers and glass of wine with no worry of travel.

Their delightful house on Prairie Lake is comfortable and Carol's decorating taste is evident throughout.  A lovely home.  
But the homeowner is the real star of this story.  
Meet Miss Foxy
Carol and Pete got Foxy from the Humane Society in Eau Claire.
She runs the house now, believe me.
Foxy is also very well dressed.  This is her coat for going for a walk.
Under her coat, she is sporting a lovely knit sweater as well.
This is a photo that Carol sent me of The Fox lounging at home.
Saturday morning, after coffee and lounging, Pete made wonderful omelets for us.
Carol and I visited and lounged until mid afternoon, when I finally headed for home.
It was a fabulous birthday, turns out being 60 isn't that bad.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cold, crisp winter day

On Tuesday, I took a quick drive over to Luck and back today to pick up some documents for the Alumni Association work that I do.  It was a perfect winter day for a drive...dry roads, sunshine.  I saw 2 eagles on the way over and 1 on the way back.  None of them wanted to have their picture taken though.

At home I caught these two at the backyard feeder.  
I think this is my first photograph of a crow, they are so huge and so skittish.
This crow has a little snow on his beak,.
Blue Jays also are quite nervous at the feeder and it is rare that I get a chance to have the camera in hand when one lands there.  This time, I had just snapped the crow photo and along came this visitor.
I love the blue jays, such great marks and color

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 First Birds

I never get weary of taking photographs of cardinals.  This guy and his bride were hanging around on Sunday during the very sad football games (all 4 of my  :-(  teams lost).
Male Cardinals are such show offs

Mrs. Cardinal wasn't as happy about the photo session.
Today is my brother Glenn's 65th birthday too.
HB2U Glenn!
Last winter he was much younger!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Watch finds a home

My cable company gives their customers 'points' for paying their bill.  I paid no attention to this for the first few years I lived here, and recently noticed that I had accumulated a pretty high number of points (TV, internet, all mounts up doesn't it).  Periodically the cable company (Charter) offers redemption days during which you can redeem your points for items that have some connection to programming on Charter.  So, I have managed to get a free hand weight set, free step stool, and most recently, a youth Timex watch.  When I ordered the watch, I really didn't know what I would do with it, but figured it would be a good donation to Goodwill if nothing else.
When the watch arrived, I was impressed that it was a Timex, Indiglo watch, with an elastic camo band and the second hand is a helicopter.  It looked pretty cool.  I thought about the kids in the family who were little enough for this watch, yet old enough and decided it should go to Anders.  So, I sent it off, hoping that he was old enough and that his wrist was big enough and that his parents would not think it was a crazy thing for him to have.
Well, it worked out great.
Anders loves his watch.
His Mom, Lora, sent me a text on January 12th, that included this quote:
Anders "Mom, I'm never taking my watch off."
I hear he has been sleeping with it on too.
What fun to make a kid so happy with something that was free.  Gotta love it.
Each month I get a payment from Kris and Lora for our Sandcastle cabin payment, this month there was a note enclosed.
Always nice to get a note from a great nephew.

As long as we are talking about Anders, I will share another picture that Lora sent me.
Anders had a chance to answer the question,
If I had one wish, I would wish for __________.
Then he was to draw a picture of that wish.
His wish is for a very interesting looking baby sister.
He's quite the Anders.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Getting ready for the big game

Barley loves her Packers!
From my DROID phone

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Barley the beautiful

Good morning from Rice Lake
From my DROID phone

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No before shot, but the after is awesome

Last fall when my nephew Kris was here visiting one day, we got to talking about some nice pieces of walnut wood that were stored in my garage.  
Dad had run them through the planer and they were ready to use.  He decided he could use them, and I was delighted to see the wood go where it would be turned into something useful. 
Whether it was that same visit, or another time , I can't remember, but I talked to Kris about a project I was mulling over, a larger table for my recliner that has a laptop table.  He offered to make me the new table and use some of that nice walnut.

Before all the craziness started here last fall, he dropped off the table and today I FINALLY swapped out the old table with the new.
I should have snapped a photo of the oak, oval, small table that came on the recliner,but I forgot.  But you can see how nice the new table looks and how perfect it is for holding both my laptop and the mouse.
I am lucky to have nephews who are so willing to put of smile on my face.
Thanks Kris!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cave Dwelling

For the past week I have doing little other than taking care of a sprained ankle.  The New Year started out quite slow for me,  but things are definitely on the up swing. 
My ankle is nearly back to 100%, the weather has been sunny,  crisp winter in Wisconsin days. And The Packers are continuing in the NFL playoffs. 
This morning, as is the case most mornings, Barley really is a cave dweller.  She spends the better part of most days snuggled in between two blankets.   I guess she hasn't embraced 2013 yet!

Wanda from my phone


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