Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A little winter walk

After I spent the morning on chores like vacuuming and cleaning carpets, I decided to make a run to drop off some items at Goodwill and then take a walk on the Red Cedar Trail.
I wasn't sure what kind of shape the trail would be in, I still am very careful around ice underfoot.
Heading North, the trail was pretty good.
Since I had left my earmuffs in the car, I didn't go very far.  About the time I was thinking of turning back, I met a sketchy looking fellow on the trail who asked if I had a cellphone he could borrow.  I said I didn't have one and he motored on, luckily.  This unnerved me a little bit as there was not much other traffic on the trail, as in none, so I headed back towards the car.
I took this photo of the river when I was almost back to the trailhead.
Nothing really special, but I always love snow and moving water.
I purposely took a photo with the branch in focus and river out of focus, but didn't notice until I got home and started looking at my pictures on the computer, that there was an easter egg in the picture.
I guess this bobber won't get to do it's job anymore.
This is the Red Cedar Trail where it splits off to the South near the street.  It must be in a different township or something, doesn't look like it has been maintained all winter.  I didn't venture on.

As I was walking up the hill to the car, I stopped to snap a photo of a large bird overhead.  It turned out to be a crow, out of focus, but when I brought the camera down, I saw I was about to nearly collide with a woman on a bicycle.  Not sure where she came from but it startled me.  As I walked away, I heard her call out to me, so I turned around.  She had ridden on a ways and then stopped.  I couldn't hear what she wanted, so walked a little ways towards her.  Finally I heard her asking me if I was taking her picture, because she doesn't like anyone to take her picture.  I assured her my camera was pointed at the sky.
I wonder if she was headed to find the guy who needed the cellphone. 
I don't think I'll spend anytime on the Red Cedar Trail until the weather warms up and there is a bit more foot traffic.
Owell, I got out of the house and got a few steps in and took a few photos.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunny Sunday

Ever since my extended stay in Iowa back in November,  Barley has become a lap cat,  finding the arm of the recliner to be a good pillow this Sunday morning as she lounges.

From my DROID phone

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blue Sky Blue Jay

This Jay caught my eye this morning and allowed me to click a couple of quick photos.  
Blue Jays are fairly common around this part of the state, 
but still worth a second look to see how pretty his blue feathers really are.

Also worth a second look, are my two beautiful roommates.
These two are typical siblings, they are either fighting or loving each other.
This was a good day.
Barley and Hops...nap time

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gaylord Nelson Chapter - National Audubon Society

Today I decided to attend the annual meeting of the Gaylord Nelson Chapter 
of the National Audubon Society.  

The meeting was in St. Croix Falls, so I had about an hour drive.  It was a good day to get out and about.  The roads are dry and the sun was trying to poke out.  My drive took me past the new Frac Sand plant near Poskin.  Oh my, it is a huge facility and the truck traffic on Highway 8 is going to have an impact on this area.  It made me kind of sad to see that huge facility on land that had been an open field.
There is much debate in this part of Wisconsin about the environmental and health impact of the Frac Sand mining and processing, but I won't spend time on the pros and cons here.

This was the second or third annual meeting of the Gaylord Nelson Chapter - National Audubon Society.  I had joined about a year ago when they were trying to get enough members to qualify to have a chapter.  
This was my first meeting.

The first part of the meeting was election of new officers.  Both Treasurer and President were up for grabs.  It was an awkward silence when they asked for nominations.  Two folks who were nominated, declined and then the silence was deafening.  It was close, I almost raised my hand.  It is a problem with being retired...I know I have the time and I am guilt ridden when I don't step up.  But, in this case, a husband and wife team offered to do it together which the group readily embraced.  After the meeting I made sure to offer my email and phone number in case I can be of assistance.
Brian Collins, he has a blog, gave a wonderful presentation about his life as an Ornithologist turned teacher turned back to ornithologist.  He works for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a bird surveyor and he gave a very interesting talk about living in the woods and walking some of the beautiful and untouched terrain of Northern Wisconsin as he surveys the bird population.  I really enjoyed it and learned.
At the end of the meeting, there was a door prize give away.  I was delighted when my name was called to win one of Brian's photographs.
This is a pine grosbeak.
I have yet to see one in the wild, although I hear they are around the Rice Lake area.
I would say the drive was well worth the trip.
I stopped in Luck on the way home, just briefly.  I had a little visit time with brother Gus and then headed East.  On the way home I was thinking about what I should make for my Weight Watchers dinner.  I missed having any lunch, so I am quite hungry.  I decided to stop at the store and get something 'legal' to make and something that would be a bit of a treat.
So, I am right now impatiently waiting for this pan of goodies to roast.
Yup, you see lobster tails.  They were only $4.99 each, so I figured I deserved it.
One for tonight and one for tomorrow.
Life is Good.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I had a good friend in Denver who's birthday is today, so wherever you are Val, Happy Birthday .
We had a little more snow overnight, but the sun came out just as I started my workout program of clearing the driveway and shoveling the decks.

The snowbanks around the driveway are getting to be significant, 
can't really toss the snow that high anymore.
The backyard is almost untouched with the exception of the bird feeder areas.
February has been very snowy, my perennials are probably quite happy snuggled under such a nice blanket of moisture.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Welcome back?

Sometimes, when you haven't seen someone for a long time, you get a warm welcome.  
Sometimes it is awkward, 
and sometimes you just feel guilt.
I had not used my Wii Fit for a long time, and this was the greeting I got when I logged in.
Talk about guilt trip.
But, now I am back working on balance and fitness and getting over my guilt.
I didn't lose any lbs last week, but I kept up my work out routines so that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Weekend in Luck

It was a very nice weekend in Luck.  On Saturday, the whole family was around.  We were missing Dad & Ev and Laila and also Mark, Payton and Jack and Gage.  Else all were present.
Glenn played well in the basketball tournament and seemed none the worse for wear afterwards.  
No trophy this year but he had fun I think.  
I am always nervous as someone always gets hurt 
and some of the younger players are quite rough, they forget this is not the NBA finals I guess.
Glenn had a good section of fans.
Bryce was really yelling for 'Boppa'.
His sister Wynni was intently watching to see if Grandpa would turn and wave.

Glenn and Ryan were on the same team this year.

Pretty good leap for an old guy.

The tip off for game 2.  The last game as it turned out.

Ball handling

Does this look like a game 'just for fun'?  Pretty tough defense.

Cousin Ronnie and nephew Ryan

Shooting, but not making.
Glenn and Kathy had provided the "loaves and fishes".  Good grief, they brought food for the masses.  Everyone else contributed as well, so there was no lack of food.
Some of the kids were in the pool all day long.
Charli jumped in, swam to the steps, got out, and jumped in again about a thousand times.
I snapped this with my phone.  If you look closely, you'll see the blur of Charli's swimsuit and feet, as she ran past to jump in the pool.
My room was the changing room, potty room and dump your stuff room for the Luck people
It worked out great as it was right next to the pool and I did not have much of my own stuff.
I caught Emily getting beautiful.
This girl goes from wet head and swimsuit, to up-do and gorgeous faster than anyone I've ever met.

Ruby had lots of fun with cousin Anders, the two of them were "in motion" most of the weekend.
I didn't take many photos this weekend, wet kids in and out of the pool, don't make for great subject matter.
Plus I was busy relaxing.

Life is good.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My buddy & a note about Lojo

I just love my snow plow shovel.
On Monday, the 4-5 inches of snow that was mostly slush and ice, was too heavy to use a snow blower, but my plow shovel did just fine.
 Ugh, this is gonna take a while.
 Never a flat tire, never the wrong kind of snow, this plow shovel is an animal!
 I counted more than 100 passes to clear the driveway this time.
Little swipes were necessary since the snow was so heavy.
It is the best feeling when it is all done, and I take credit for a cardio work out too.
Last evening my sister in law Lois had an accident.  She was cutting some excess wax off a candle and injured herself.  She cut into an artery and bled badly.  She's on blood thinner, so quite a serious situation.
She went to the St. Croix Hospital, but was sent on into St. Paul to Regions for emergency surgery.
The surgery was completed at about 2:30 a.m.
By all reports, she is doing well and will have a good recovery.
I am thankful for that.

50 Years of Basketball

This past weekend was the Luck Winter Carnival and for many years, 
part of the festivities have included an alumni basketball tournament.  
My brother Glenn has played in that tournament most, if not all, of the years.  
This year he has decided to retire from basketball.  
He is celebrating 50 years of basketball starting in 8th grade and continuing on to B Squad, 
A Squad and then he continued to play Intermurals in college 
as well as Town Basketball in Spring Valley and 
finishes his basketball career in the 2013 Luck Winter Carnival Alumni Tournament.

Congratulations Glenn!

Friday, February 8, 2013

It's always something

Two evenings in a row, my DVR stopped working.  The first night I called customer service, they did a remote reset and it worked again.  Last night, that fix did not do the trick.  The customer service rep told me I could either have a tech come out to the house or I could take my DVR to the CHARTER office and they would exchange the old DVR for a new one.  Well, things usually are never as easily done as the customer service folks make it sound, but I unhooked the DVR this morning (no easy task located on top of fireplace under TV) and hauled it to the office.  And within about  5 minutes, I was headed out the door with a new DVR and HDMI cable.  The HDMI cable then allows me to re-hook the Wii to the new TV.  So, not only do I have a new DVR that works, I also have my Wii hooked up again.
Amazing, I was expecting the worst and but ended up with the best.
Life is Good.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A little more snow

It gets kind of hard to think of interesting blog stuff this time of year.  I had to push an inch or two new snow off the driveway this morning and about the time I finished the sun came out and started doing its job.   While I was out in the yard a car load of folks pulled in.  I could guess what they were up to before one woman got out of the vehicle carrying a well worn red book.  She told me that she wanted to talk about making this a better world.  Well, I told her I wasn't interested.  So off she went.  My world is pretty darn wonderful, yes there are many big problems in the world that need to be solved, and yes I have a few aches and pains or little issues around the house, but in general, I am really quite happy with my world.
My 'garden cats' are barely keeping their heads above the snow pack.
Wisconsin version of the Egyptian Sphinx

I love seeing the birds flying in and out of the blue spruce in the backyard.
This Junco took a little breather before heading back to the feeder area.
Yes, those Christmas lights are still on.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Feeder Excitement

Saturday was a very pretty winter day.  Fresh snow, about 3/4 of an inch, and bright sunshine.
My bird feeders were busy busy with little songbirds like this Redpoll.
Isn't he pretty.  Such a bright patch on his little head.
Just as I was finished taking this photo, I saw a large shadow go buy and then the feeder was empty of little birds.
This guy had landed on this plant hook about 15 feet from my bird feeders.
This was taken through the living room window at an extreme angle.
So, while it is not tack sharp, you get the idea.

No doubt, this guy was looking for lunch.

He was perched right outside the bathroom window, 
but by the time I got there and pulled up the shade, 
he took one look at me, and flew to one of my maple trees.

 I believe this is a Sharp Shinned Hawk, juvenile.
He was about 12" tall and fits the description pretty well.
(Cooper's Hawk looks so similar, but is larger according to Sibley's)

It is very exciting to see a hawk this up close and personal, 
but he needs to find someplace else to get his meals!

My little songbird freeloaders returned to the feeders after about 20 minutes of this guy taking off.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

If the tin man sees his shadow...

So, if The Tin Man sees his shadow, 6 more weeks of winter?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chilly Start to February

We started this morning with -17°
  There was a little wind to go with that temperature, so by the time I went out to get the mail, take the trash down to the road and fill the bird feeders, I was frozen.
I am ever amazed at how these little birds, and big birds too for that matter, survive these brutally cold days.

I don't often see Blue Jays in my yard, but today a couple have been busy at the feeder in the backyard.
They seem to always know when I am trying to take their photograph.
This guy didn't sit long enough for me to get a tack sharp shot.
And about as quick as I pushed the shutter button, off he went.
Messy take off!
Once again, I am lucky to have no reason to leave the house on a day like this.
Every day is a gift.

As I was sitting here writing the entry above, I looked out the window and was very surprised at what I saw.
This is not the usual visitor  that I see at the heated bird bath.
This calico has been on the deck before, if she is a stray, she is mighty tough to survive in this winter weather.
Well, I have seen this pretty little cat before on my deck on very cold days, I have no idea if she is a stray or maybe a cat let out of the house by some irresponsible owner.
I am not crazy about her hanging around my bird feeders, but the way she sat there and drank the water out of the bird bath, she was very thirsty so am glad she could get a drink here.
She's too skittish to catch with my bare hands, if I see her around more, I might have to try to lure her into a cage and rescue her.  It upsets me to think she might be surviving on her own in this weather.
And so it begins.
I can't stop thinking about little calico here, so I put together a box.
It is on the front porch away from the birds and where I can see it from inside the house.
A little dish of food and some blankets and shelter.  If she is a stray, hopefully she'll find this place.
And then we'll go from there.
I suppose a squirrel might find this as well.  We'll see.

The Meow Motel is open....Stray cats welcome.


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