Archive for February, 2010

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Sledding

February 28, 2010

We have received some ridiculous amount of snow in the last 3 days…I heard one report say 17 inches. It is hard to determine an exact amount as the temperatures have hovered just above freezing, making for a rather wet, slushy, messy snow that compacts pretty well once it falls. It is perfect snowman snow.  With all the snow, the kids were bugging to go sledding. Two sleds and 3 kids meant a trip to the store for a third sled. By the time we found one, bought it, and were ready to go sledding, it was getting quite late and I was in a significant amount of pain from my back all the way down my leg into my left foot. I thought about all the places to go sledding and decided on Northhampton Park because the hill is right next to the parking lot, so I wouldn’t have to go far to watch.

There had apparently been quite a lot of activity there earlier in the day as the snow was well packed and there were even a couple of moguls built into the hill. From smallest to biggest, they all went down as the snow fell sideways!

Not the greatest pictures, but I was trying to keep the sloppy wetness off the camera and it was dusk by the time we got there, and the camera didn’t know where to focus with all the snow falling. We were only there about 45 minutes, but everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

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Birds and Such

February 15, 2010

After seeing my pictures from our outing to Mendon, Jeff commented that he wished he could have gone with us. Yesterday seemed like a nice enough day, so I suggested that we go feed the birds. We set out in the early afternoon and were a little disappointed by the number of cars in the parking lot when we arrived. But we set out anyway, searching for little winged creatures to feed. There was a bit of a breeze which, when combined with 29 degree (F) temperatures, made for an uncomfortable walk. We went to the location that I normally go and there were no birds. We stopped and listened and didn’t even hear any! Eventually, we found a spot with several people posing as human bird feeders. Jeff and the kids put out their hands and waited. Apparently the birds liked Jeff, as he had ten little chickadees and one titmouse visit his hand. I’ve been playing with the settings on my camera and as a result I got some iffy results. Here is what I got and deemed share-worthy…

After we had finished feeding the birds, we began walking back to the Jeep, when this creature poked it’s head out to retrieve some seeds that someone had left. I stopped abruptly when I saw it, but as we stood there, it would only poke it’s head out far enough to retrieve a few seeds, then it would retreat out of sight into the hole in the snow. I really have no idea what it was. It seemed too long and lacking in external ear parts to be a mouse. The only distinguishing feature I could see was a tiny pink nose. This picture is awful, but like I said, it didn’t come out far and we didn’t dare try to get any closer…

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February 13, 2010

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Doughnuts

February 9, 2010

For the last couple of days I have become overwhelmingly tired midday. I have been napping in the middle of the day, then I have to rush to get dinner on the table. Today I took a nap around 3:45, much too late in the day to actually nap and still get dinner made. I bought pork chops the other day and planned to make those for dinner, so I didn’t figure I’d need a lot of time for that. Jeff gets home around 5:30, so I thought if I napped until 5, I could get up, rush, and have dinner ready by 6.

Well, in my mind it worked out great, but my mind was no longer thinking clearly at 5 when the kids woke me from a sound sleep. I got up, got on the computer, read e-mail, checked out the latest on facebook, and suddenly realized I should be making dinner! I went downstairs and noticed the bread machine out of its usual location, but didn’t think too much of it since I had told Kyle to MAKE bread if he didn’t like the bread I had bought. So, I enlisted the help of Erin and began making dinner. She cut up broccoli, I cut up the pork while the rice cooked, and I got the pans going to make two different recipes (from jars)  of Indian food. One hot curry recipe for Jeff and Kyle and a milder coconut dish for Sarah and Erin. Jeff came home while I was cutting up the meat and after observing the pork asked what I was eating for dinner. I won’t knowingly eat pork except for the occassional bacon on a cheeseburger. However, if the bacon falls out of the burger, I won’t eat it. I really hate pork…in fact, I think it is disgusting, but I digress… Oh, I had left over beef roast and garlic smashed taters from the night before along with a heaping helping of broccoli. It was very yummy. The rest of the family enjoyed their dinner as well. In fact, Erin ate more than half of what I made for her and Sarah. I have never seen her put away quite that much food. If only I had half of her metabolism!

As we were finishing dinner, a buzzer sounded. I immediately took inventory in my sad, still not fully alert brain trying to figure out what I forgot to remove from the heat and put on the table, when Kyle announced “the doughnut dough is ready.” After choking, I asked him if he was even remotely aware of the work that goes into making doughnuts… Dumb question, he’s a 17 year old boy! All he knew about doughnuts is that they taste good and he had a recipe to make them. Now, Kyle is very good about safety, but there is something unsettling about a large pot of oil, a gas stove, and a 17 year old at the controls. Yeah, I fried doughnuts! Yay! I don’t even like doughnuts. Kyle apologized several times after realizing how much goes into making them and not asking if I was okay with it beforehand. I told him it was okay, I had never fried doughnuts before and it really wasn’t that bad.

Here are the fruits of our labor. They really turned out more like fried dough than doughnuts, but I actually like them better than doughnuts.

Yes, they are heart-shaped. Erin even got creative and made dog bones and teddy bears. Hearts are the only cutters I have with multiple sizes. I guess with Valentine’s Day so close, hearts make sense.

It seems like I fried a lot more than what is shown above. I guess the kids must have had a few before I took the pictures, lol! At least we know that Sarah can eat them and not get sick! She hasn’t had a doughnut in ages, since most places use peanut or soybean oil now.

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Silly Squirrels

February 4, 2010

As I mentioned yesterday, the squirrels had me laughing pretty hard at their silly antics.  Apparently these squirrels are not afraid of people, but they are cautious of them. As we walked along the trail, the squirrels were in the middle of it, along with some cardinals, searching for seeds that had fallen. There was a bit of snow, so they had to search a little to find the hidden treasures.

When we got close, the squirrels scampered off to the sides of the trail. They really wanted those seeds though, so they would cautiously sneak toward the trail.

This little guy had me laughing so hard, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to take his picture. He’d scamper toward me, stop, and put his left paw across his chest and look. Then he’d move forward and repeat his actions.

He must have decided I wasn’t too much of a threat and he got within about 2 feet of me. Mr. Squirrel was after a small pile of bird seed that Kyle had left on the edge of the trail when he decided his fingers were too cold to hold it out for the birds any longer.

After several seconds of obvious debate over his own safety, he went for it, much to my delight!

If I had reached out, I could have bent over and patted his head. Not that I am quite crazy enough to do such a thing…

I thought this one looked like he was praying. Perhaps praying that he wouldn’t become prey, or maybe he was just thanking God for such a bounty! In actuality, he was eating a sunflower seed.

I think these next two squirrels read one to many Where’s Waldo books…

He looked very much like he was trying to, “be the tree.”

Very trusting of that really dead branch!

Normally I find squirrels annoying, especially when they are dangling upside-down from my squirrel-proof bird feeder trying to figure out why they can’t get to the seeds. However, when I encounter them in a park or somewhere more natural than my city backyard, I usually find their curiosity comical. My humor does not, however, extend to the very evil black Canadian squirrels! But that is an altogether different story, best forgotten!

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Feed the Birds

February 3, 2010

We have a terrific park nearby that has lots of trails, lots of relief, and lots of wildlife. The relief is the result of glacial activity…a geologist dream, but I was there today for the wildlife, not the geology. On the way there we stopped and picked up some wild bird seed so we could feed the birds…and squirrels! I’ll let the pictures do the majority of the talking…

The look on Erin’s face in the pictures above is incredible. Just pure delight at such a simple thing. It gave me the chills when I first went through the pictures. She loved it! Afterwards she described how it felt to have the little birds on her fingers. In fact, all three kids commented on how it felt, and they all described it differently…talk about a teachable moment!

As we moved a bit further up the trail, I got directly behind Erin and got the next two shots. I was giddy as I pulled them up to edit. I only adjusted the brightness and contrast a touch.

I think the chickadees particularly liked Kyle, since they and his gloves are colored similarly…

I have been trying for years to get an excellent picture of a cardinal. They are very shy and flightly. As I was photographing other birds my family informed me there was a cardinal directly behind me. I turned and captured this.

Not bad, but still not great. Then I found this female, which baffled me because she looks nothing like the three females that live in my yard.

Then, the amazing happened…a clear, unobstructed, nearby view of a male. I don’t know how I didn’t shake and make the picture blurry, but here it is!

By FAR, the best shot I have ever gotten of a male redbird!!! Yeah, I’m still giddy about it!

I’ll end this post with my favorite picture from the day. All I can say is, “Are you talkin’ to me?”

The squirrels had me laughing at their silly antics. However, this post has many pictures, and I took many more of the silly squirrels, so I will post them tomorrow…soemething to entice you back, hahaha!