Saturday, August 29, 2015

A busy Bird Morning

      This morning was an extremely busy morning in my backyard as far as birds go. I saw 12 species from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM.

       I live in a very regular urban subdivision. We have many trees in our yards. We have open spaces for parks that have lots of trees. As nice as this environment is , it's not great bird habitat. All these plants and trees are not natural and the birds know that. Once in a while you get lucky and see many birds in a short time. Usually we see a few chickadees, nuthatches, house sparrows and the odd other bird most days. It's not an active bird habitat. I see from 30 to 35 species per year in my yard.

      Now the fall migration of songbirds is at it peak. So this morning many of these birds found my backyard, and vegetable garden in particular, a good place to have breakfast.

     From 7:30 to 9:30 I saw: White throated sparrows, white breasted nuthatch, red breasted nuthatch, house wren, yellow warbler, black capped chickadee, blue jay, house finch, house sparrow, hummingbird, robin and white crowned sparrow. There were a couple of LBJ's that I couldn't identify and also a couple of warblers.

     The white throated sparrows put on a great show. They run at a tremendous speed and scoot around under the heavy garden vegetation. They chase each other.

     The humming bird spent a whole two minutes with me today.

      Various flocks of robins will pass through for the next 6 weeks. Some will stay all year. Robins from further north keep coming south. Robins have been found nesting on Banks Island in the Arctic. It will take them a long time to get this far south.

     And yes , you're going to have to trust me on this one. I did not get one photo. I was looking through my window into the light and into a dark garden. That's not the best light for photos. There also was a nasty reflection in my window glass. If I went outside , that would have ended the bird visit immediately. 

    There will be more song birds coming through for the next month. I'll be watching. I'm expecting three species of black birds and lots of yellow rumped warblers. The yellow rumps seem to stick around for most of September. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Child is Leaving Home!

     At this time of year millions of parents are taking their children away and not bringing them home. Yes, it's that time of year when College starts up and children leave our home for the first time.

      Martha at Ploughing Through Life posted about attending an open house. My neighbor across the street has been worrying for the last year about her son leaving the nest.

     We have our kids for 17 or 18 years. We do the best to raise them so that they become responsible and independent adults. However, that process can not happen with the snap of a finger. Growing up and maturing is a process that happens over a long period of time. It's not finished at 17 or 18 years of age. For some the process is faster and an end or plateau is reached where they become responsible adults contributing to society and raising their own children. For others it's a much longer journey. For me, it was the much longer journey. I was sidetracked many times and had to try things that were just plane unproductive and destructive.

    When we leave our kids out there, there are many things they have not experienced. Peer pressure goes to another level. They are entering a whole new world and want to be accepted. Anxiety can rise and kids become vulnerable.

    On the other hand when we leave kids somewhere for the first time, the learning curve is very steep. They're on their own and can't fall back on familiar supports.

    Parents have a tough time to drop kids off and leave them. It's a major change in the family. It's a loss and we all know that a loss is a challenge. We love our kids and don't want to see them leave.

    Kids put on a brave face and want to leave and have many reasons to give for "getting away." But deep down they are just as anxious over being dropped off. I was very homesick when I was dropped off. I'd only been in a city half a dozen times. I came from a one room high school. I was dropped off in big time and had to sink or swim.

    So I hope that everybody has the best parting possible. Both parents and students will experience growth in the process. The first weekend they come back will be joyous. When they go back and the house is quiet we will heave a sigh of relief.

     My kids are 43 and 45 and I still remember them leaving for the first time. I didn't like to see them go.

    Do you remember being dropped off? Or did you leave on your own time?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Neighbor Elmer

       A few years ago I had an elderly neighbor , Elmer. Elmer was a great neighbor. He had it all...kind, humorous, generous, thoughtful, sympathetic, helpful.  In short he had many great qualities for being a good neighbor. I remember all these great qualities. 

     Now Elmer loved to listen to his radio. He liked talk shows and documentaries. He didn't watch TV until the evening. Did I say Elmer was elderly? Yes, and along with elderly comes a few deficiencies. As with many seniors, Elmer's hearing was deficient. Now this didn't bother Elmer one bit. His radio had a volume knob and he used it. So over the years the radio and TV got louder and louder. It was okay in the winter, but in the summer when windows were open and I was outside it was a bit much. Now I didn't have the heart to tell him to turn down the volume. I would tell a teenager to can the volume in a hurry. But teenagers would have the volume turned much higher.

     Okay, Elmer was a fictitious neighbor, but I think many of you have an Elmer beside you and it's unpleasant.

     The next guy is real. The next guy is me. I only listen to radio. I like news,documentaries and talk shows. Oh yeah , and music too.

     I am now elderly. My hearing is somewhat impaired. And so my radio is turned up too loud. Neighbors can hear my radio when they're outside.  The micro manager is driven to distraction by the volume on my radio.

     So here I am. I'm just like a person I have complained about.

      How many of you have a neighbor who turns the volume up too high? What do you do about it? 

     So aging not only brings about problems for the elderly person but those around them. This is only one instance. There are many more.

    I will try to consider others with my radio volume.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

You'll Have to Believe Me

     This is one of those posts that really needed a camera. Needless to say I didn't have the camera so I'll have to do a description.

      On my bike ride last night, I noticed some people looking in through a chain link fence. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to stop and see what they were looking at.

      To my surprise there was a cow moose and two calves. All three were about 15 m (50 ft) from the fence. Here moose browse which means that they graze on the tips of brush and trees. These three went about their business very calmly and did not worry about their audience. They kept moving from shrub to shrub. the calves were on adult food too.

      All of a sudden the cow grabbed a young poplar about 4 m (13 ft) high and pulled it down to get to the leaves on top. Every time she let go of the tree to get a couple of bites the tree went back up. I could see that it was only a matter of time before the tree would break. Sure enough it broke and the little guys joined in a very tasty feast. I had never seen a moose take down a tree or heard about a moose taking down a tree to get at the tender new shoots.

    In many areas we see moose in ponds or rivers and they have their heads underwater dining on water plants.  You see this in Sharon's The Odd Essay blog. Here you rarely see a moose in water. Instead they just eat the new growth of trees. It's amazing how much they eat in a few minutes.

    So I watched the moose for about ten minutes and headed for home. Why didn't I go back with my camera? At the time I was watching it was very dark in the woods. It would have been tough to get any kind of photo.

     All of this took place about 500 m  (1600 ft)  from my house.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Corn on the Cob

     I like growing vegetable gardens. Eating vegetables from the garden is the payoff for all the effort. I won't call gardening work because I like all parts of the process.

     I think there's no better tasting food than that which  comes fresh out of the garden.

     I was raised on a farm and Mom and Dad always had a huge vegetable garden. I remember not liking weeding the garden. However, I do remember the great food from the garden.  Mom would have boxes of tomatoes at the door. When we came home from school and went to do our chores we took 3 or 4 tomatoes from the box and ate them like apples.

    We had a huge corn supply. When Mom had corn for supper that's all there was...only corn and tea. Yes, I know some people will think this is weird but it was a feast for us.

    So today was the first day for eating my corn  crop this year. Now I had to have more than corn because the micro manager won't buy in to having just corn. You have to have other food along with the corn.

    So here  is part of the process to get  the corn to the plate.

The corn patch

By this time of year corn looks a little ragged

Cobs have been carefully selected

And the husks have been taken off

And the corn hits my plate

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sometimes You Don't Find What You're Looking For

     Last Sunday I went for a walk at Heritage Ranch. I described Heritage Ranch here.

     My intention was to try to see some birds and maybe get some photos.  Heritage Ranch is scenic so I thought I might get photos of the area.
     There were huge cumulus clouds on the horizon so I thought I might find a good position for a photo.

     Well, I didn't find what I was after. I got led astray. Sometimes you run into other things and get sidetracked from your original goal.

     First, I was surprised to see so many late blooms in the meadow area and in the brush beside the river. Next, some horses looked as if they wanted to be photographed. The horse photos led me to find other horse photos.

     So with these two things getting in my way I saw few birds and forgot about landscape. I did see pelicans soaring on some good updrafts. 

     Now I like plants but I haven't put in the effort to identify them. Some of these I know and some I was able to find in the guidebook. I hope you enjoy what I found.

 I think this is potentilla that got away.

Oh I did get some cloud!

I did get a landscape.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I tried Hard !

     A few days ago when it was full moon I looked out and saw the picture I wanted. Things were just right for me to get the big full moon and a small silhouette of spruce tree across the moon. 

     So I focused the camera and zoom zoomed and took a photo. Hm Not bad but not exactly what I wanted.

     Okay! Try a few more. I take a good look at the photos and then try something else. No way. Things got worse.

    Now I hope I learned a few things. My point and shot will sense one part of the image. I wasn't very careful checking what was sensed. I think the branch and the moon got mixed up and hand holding a zoom isn't the greatest when you're 75.

    Now maybe it would take some extra lighting on the tree to show up the branch as the photos a few minutes later didn't show much branch and the moon was right out of focus. So I guess I'll have to decide which one I want to focus on.

    I like to think I learned something. We'll see when the next full moon happens if it's not cloudy.

I almost got this one, but I didn't get the branch across the moon

I got the branch sort of but the moon got fuzzy

The tree was fine but the moon did something funny
       As I was doing this I was thinking of music with moon in it in some way. I was thinking of Elvis's Blue Moon. Now you can't have Blue Moon because that's mine. What else can you think of?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Do No Harm

    I just finished reading "Do No Harm" by Henry Marsh. Do no harm is an idea that medicine bases its  practice on so the title is most appropriate. Much of what Henry Marsh writes about is not doing harm and how he agonized over that situation.

   I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it gave a look into the brain, brain surgery and medical practice.

    For most of us the brain is a mystery. For neurosurgeons like Henry Marsh, they know it's parts, how it works and what they can do. He tells about all the different tumors which may be found in the brain. Each type of tumor has a special method of surgery. For some tumors surgery is not an option. In many cases the tumor grows back and is worse than the first time.

   Henry Marsh finds it difficult when a patient or family wants more surgery and Henry Marsh knows that very little if any good will be accomplished. There are times when surgery should not be done and Marsh did the surgery. This bothered him.

    Another common brain surgery is clamping off aneurysms and repairing other blood vessel problems. Then in surgery he has to work around blood vessels as a major proportion of our blood is in the head and if a vessel is cut it gets very bloody in a hurry.

   Henry Marsh was very honest about mistakes he made and it bothered him terribly. He made sure that patients were aware of the risks.

    Henry Marsh was very honest about his opinions of the health system and how you have to jump through the hoops. Many times it's useless to jump through hoops.

    I enjoyed this book and highly recommend that you read it.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Heritage Ranch

       Heritage Ranch is  400 acre property in my city that was bought by the province and given to the city for park space. There are several Km of river bank. There's valley bottom and escarpment and some land on top. Much of the valley bottom is old quarries that have been rehabilitated as ponds. There are huge piles of overburden. There are quite a few aces of very good native habitat.

      The powers that be at the time decided to call the area Heritage Ranch and center the area around an equestrian theme. The equestrian set up is still there and has gone through some good times and bad times. There are many other activities in this area such as trails used for walking, cycling and skiing. The ponds have been stocked with fish. 

     Heritage Ranch is one of my favorite places so I decided to spend a few hours there this afternoon. I was hoping to get flower shots and some images that caught my eye. There were also cloud banks around. Who knows what you might see on the river?

     I'm not a horse person but that's what caught my eye and before you know it I had a lot of horse photos. 

      One thing I couldn't find was a sign for the place.


A couple of horses not used for trail riding today

Fancy one horse"vehicle"

Fancy team coach

Rig used for summer rides

Tack room

Ready for a trail ride

       Now there just happened to be a wedding to take place. The wedding party was to be driven to the altar with the fancy vehicles. The wedding and reception were to occur down in the valley. There are many excellent sites for a wedding and a barbecue was set up for the reception.

You always need a couple of good wranglers

Thursday, August 6, 2015

My Animal Was Back!

      There are many Jackrabbits in my city area. Sometimes I see them on a daily basis and then sometimes they are visiting someone else. They sometimes have their resting place in my yard and use it for a week. They are free to come and go in my yard as long as they don't touch my garden. Well, one of these fine creatures has touched my garden and he is banned. 

     When the plants are new and small, the jackrabbit can do a lot of damage in a few minutes.

     So since I don't have gates, I have had to set up some barricades. I've also had to board up some areas under the fence where the piker knows he can enter. 

    Today I left one of the barricades down and I found this guy ensconced in the middle of my back yard. He wasn't to pleased about leaving. I was within three meters ( 10 ft)  of him before he caught on that I meant business. I told him that, "I would kick his butt if he didn't leave immediately."
    It did make it easy to get some photos.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August Long Weekend

    We have just finished our August long weekend. Few people call it by the proper name of Heritage Day week end. The Monday is referred to as Heritage Day.

    In 1974 Alberta declared the first weekend in August to be Heritage Weekend. It's not a mandatory weekend. Businesses can stay open or closed. I think most people get time off for the weekend. Nova Scotia and the Yukon have the first weekend in August as a holiday but they celebrate something else.

    The purpose of the week end is to celebrate our heritage.  Again what happens is all over the map. Some communities have all kinds of heritage activities. The city supports the celebrations. Food, dance , music, language and culture are displayed. Face  paintings seems to be a popular activity. It certainly gets the attention of the kids.

     Edmonton has a city wide celebration with a huge music festival. It's  wildly popular week end.

     Our community had nothing scheduled. We just took the time and ran.

     Stopping to reflect on our heritage is a very beneficial thing to do. We understand more things from our past. This makes other things in our world make more sense. 

     Now I know many other places get the first weekend in August as a long weekend. Did you have a long weekend where you live? That was the theme for your August long weekend?

    Now being sentimental, I like August because my Dad's middle name was August!!!