Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Miscellany for August 30

While not blogging I've been doing some thinking about this blog. Sparing you all my introspection and angst, I'll jump right to my conclusion:
Even though I'm not knitting right now, I want to keep the blog active. I plan to update at least once a week with pictures and events I want to preserve.

So, jumping right in with a list of totally unrelated catch-up items . . .

When we bought this house nineteen years ago, there were butterflies everywhere. Swallowtails, monarchs, and many others. There were so many it was almost impossible to drive down the road without hitting one.

The past decade the butterflies have been very scarce and I miss them.

For several years now I've been watching a large patch of milkweed at the edge of the pond. Milkweed is the only plant monarchs will use to reproduce.

This year a few monarchs found the patch, laid their eggs, and the caterpillars are happily gobbling down the milkweed leaves. I'm so pleased.

It's goldenrod season. The plants are about five feet tall and have overgrown everything else in the back three acres.

Beautiful, but it always makes me a little sad because it means summer is almost over.

In the hot weather Glory likes to go in the creek multiple times a day. In previous years she has ended up with a smelly skin infection from sitting around wet all day.

This year the groomer suggested we "cut her down", and we did. ("We" means the groomer did the cutting and DH and I paid the bill.)

Glory is cooler and smells better. We wish we'd started this years ago.

Granddaughter Sydney also got a hair cut recently. She has an awesome head of natural curls.

Anybody remember Sydney as a baby? She's five years old now, has lost three baby teeth, and is four feet tall.

Sydney, along with her Mom and Dad, is coming to visit in October. I haven't seen her in over a year and am very excited about this.

I've been going to Aqua Arthritis twice a week. An hour of stretching and gentle movement in a ninety degree pool. Although I don't have severe arthritis, I do have flexibility challenges. And the hour in the heated pool is better than a tranquilizer for worry and frayed nerves.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Heaven for Dogs?

A few weeks ago our local paper ran an feature article asking if our pets go to heaven. For those of us who love our dogs, this is an important question and I clipped out a few of my favorite answers to share.

Billy Graham said . . .
God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there.

Do animals have spirits that live on after death like humans do? I think so, yes. Jesus came to redeem the entire world - and that, in my mind, means everybody and everything. So why not the four-legged creations sent as our companions?

Martin Luther said . . .
Be thou comforted little dog. Thou too in resurrection shall have a little golden tail.

John Wesley, the 18th century Anglican cleric who was co-founder of Methodism, believed . . .
in the general resurrection and that animals would be resurrected and would be sentient beings and that they would be able to reason and relate.

I'm glad I'm Wesleyan, not Lutheran. There's going to be lots of tail wagging to great me in heaven and I prefer fur tails to golden tails.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Baby Bluebirds Day 12

They are old enough to act like wild birds now. They can't fly yet, but when faced with a human invader, they hurry to the corner of the nest box and try to hide.

When I worked a corporate bluebird trail, this is the age the Kalamazoo Nature Center would band the chicks.

The two survivors of the excessive heat and mosquitoes are both female. Read what you want to into that.

I wish these little ones a happy bluebird life with many bright sunny days of freedom outside the box.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Baby Bluebirds Days 6, 8, and 10

This has been a week of extreme heat and humidity. There's been occasional light rain which steams up off the ground to create more humidity while not lowering the temperature at all.

It's way too hot and not the right time of year for nesting bluebirds. But they did it anyway.

6 Days Old . . .

Three of the four chicks are still alive.

The chick with the open beak is not as developed as the other two. I'm guessing it's not going to be strong enough to make it through the heat. Maybe none of them are.

8 Days Old . . .

The hatchlings are old enough to be freaked out when a human opens their nest box.

Two are growing pin feathers and looking strong. The weak one (front right) is looking doubtful for survival.

A few days ago when I opened the box the adult male was on the nest with his wings spread over the chicks. To keep them cool? To keep the mosquitoes off? The mosquitoes are so thick this summer I can hardly stand to be outside and the naked little birds are an easy blood feast.

I always knock on the box before opening it to give the adults a chance to fly out if they’re inside. Dad bluebird wasn’t moving off that nest. I shut the box and left as quick as I could get the flap down.

10 Days Old . . .

And then there were two.

These two have been through the worse in weather and mosquitoes. Their feathers are quickly growing in and they will likely live to fledge.

Here's a close up of the emerging wing feathers.

In just three more days these little ones will have enough wing to practice being airborn by jumping up and down in the nest box. After day 12, I won't open the box again to keep them from jumping out prematurely. Their first flight into reality should only be initiated and monitored by their parents.

I'm guessing they'll be very happy to get out of that hot box.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Chat Back for August 8

Answering questions from comments and email.

Marie asked . . .
Will you knit each pair of sleeves simultaneously?

Occasionally I do, but usually I don't. I only do it when I'm sure there isn't going to be a sleeve fitting challenge. I frequently frog sleeves to get a better fit.

Even for simple sleeves I need to recalculate the decreases - or increases if I'm knitting bottom up - because I have shorter than normal pattern length arms.

Judy S. wrote . . .
Great robin photo; I hope she hangs in there.....

The robin nest in the front yard was abandoned. I think the eggs got cooked in the heat.

Judy S. asked . . .
Have you read the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries....they're fun!

And Jean asked . . .
Have you ever read the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries? They are a light read and well written, reminds me of Miss Marple.

Not yet, but I'm looking forward to doing so. Thanks for the suggestion.

The first in the series, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, isn't available at my usual library, but I've located it at the Paw Paw Library and will picking it up next time I'm in Paw Paw.

Alwen wrote . . .
It's hard to take pictures when you're smacking mosquitoes!

A week or so ago the number of mosquitoes went back to normal for a few days. Last week we had another hatch and it's almost impossible to be outdoors again.

Some days I find myself wondering what it would be like to live in the city with closed windows and air conditioning and a hired dog walker. I probably wouldn't like it, but it might make for a nice vacation.

Alwen wrote . . .
I would call your blackberries black raspberries (hollow in the center when you pick them). I have those and what I call blackberries (the center stays in when you pick them).

Yes, the stalk I called a blackberry here is a raspberry. A wimpy stalk with wimpy thorns compared to the real blackberries that make up most of the wicked stalks in our field.

Alwen, who lives nearby in SW Michigan, posted blackberry tutorial in this Thorny Post.

Then Judy S. wrote . . .
I put some WA blackberries on my blog for you....

Check out Judy's post here.

My thickest canes are only a half inch in diameter. Washington blackberries with the one inch canes put my blackberries to shame.

My blackberry thorns draw blood and grab my clothing, but eventually I can get free and win the fight. I don't think I could win a fight with Judy's thorns.

Dorothy wrote . . .
I also agree that it's probably way too hot to be thinking of knitting cardigans. Perhaps a nice sock would be in order.

Oh, I agree.

This is a skein of Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio that I won in a contest. It came without a label, but I think the color is Skydive. I picked out an interesting basketweave pattern for it, not realizing it was going to make such pretty stripes. By the time the ribbings were knit, I knew Skydive just wanted to be a plain sock.

Shirley asked . . .
I love the hummingbird photo. Is it a Ruby-throated hummer?

Yes it is. Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are the only ones that range in SW Michigan.

It's amusing to see them perched on the power lines like the big birds. They look like a little bump sitting up there.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Late Summer Bluebird Hatch

I was doubtful these eggs would survive sitting in a nestbox in the sun with most days hitting ninety degrees or more. But they did. Wednesday evening the chicks were rolling out of the eggs.

The first one out, on the left, is looking for his/her first meal.

The second one out, in the back, is uncurling.

The third one out, on the right, is still folded in the shape of his/her egg.

And there's one more blue egg to hatch.

By late Thursday morning, all four chicks are out and being fed. Mom Bluebird doesn't need to worry they're going to get chilled.

That's a third little beak behind the two obvious beaks. The fourth is face down on the right.

The first few days of post egg life, the hatchlings will open their beaks when I open the box. They know someone is there and they hope it's with food.

Hard to believe in less than three weeks they'll have feathers and leave the nest. I never tire of the miracle.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook for August 3

These writing prompts are available from Simple Woman's Daybook where each Tuesday we're invited to join in celebrating the beauty of everyday moments around us.

FOR TODAY August 3, 2010 ...

Outside my window...

The evening temperature is 87 degrees and the humidity is dripping.

I am thankful for...
Ice cream.

From the kitchen...
It's too hot to be in the kitchen.

I am wearing...
Denim shorts and a blue stripped tee.

I am creating...
Last week I finished a sleeve for the navy blue cardigan I'm knitting and don't like the way it fits into the sweater body. Since I knit to both stitch and row gauge and followed the pattern without variation, I found this annoying and have stopped knitting completely in protest.

I'm sure this will all get resolved when the weather cools off a little.

I am going...
To "Aqua Arthritis" in an 89 degree pool tomorrow. A class "suitable for easing and unloading those aching joints while enhancing your individual fitness level."

It sounds wonderful. Will it live up to expectations?

I am reading...
Just finished "Murder Makes Waves", a Southern Sisters Mystery by Anne George.

These mysteries are well written with likeable characters and plenty of un-forced humor so they're actually funny. The mysteries are well plotted, but the books are so much fun to read I'd read them even if there wasn't a mystery.

Highly recommended. And thanks to Sherilan for suggesting I read them.

I am hoping...
For a break in the non-stop political ads and phone calls after the primary today. No doubt there will be another obnoxious glut for the November election.

I am hearing...
Quiet except for the oxygen concentrator.

Around the house...
Glory and Pappy got groomed today and they are napping.

Sunny couldn't go to the groomer because she has non-infectious tracheobronchitis caused by allergies. Late last week she couldn't stop coughing and gagging. She's on good drugs and getting better. There was hardly any coughing today.

Bob is reading a Reginald Hill mystery and I'm writing this post.

One of my favorite things...

Woodpeckers. We have many. This is a little Downy.

SW Michiganders who build beautiful cedar homes in the country are constantly at war with woodpeckers, and the woodpeckers win. Always.

We live in brick house.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Wednesday: Aqua Arthritis, grocery shopping, library.
Thursday: Airlink coming for oxygen concentrator maintenance. Bob needs blood draw.
Friday: Aqua Arthritis.

I'm hoping for some rain so I can mow without creating a dust cloud. If it hasn't rained by the weekend, dust cloud it will be.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...