Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Wow! What a busy weekend it's been!

And here are some of the highlights.

Trey our five month old grandson from Louisville KY visited. He got straight squash (not mixed in cereal) for the first time and loved it so much that he was grabbing for the spoon on the way to his mouth.

His brother, Ethan and his cousin, Noah played Nintendo in the playroom in their Amish hats. They look so cute that I'm thinking we should all become Amish.

Mr. Right and a couple of his sons-in-law got to go golfing Saturday afternoon and I think they all had a good time.

While at home, the kids played a game where they threw their shoes in the air and Noah's got caught in a tree. Ethan ran in to tell the tale but forgot to put his shoes on first so he was incriminated right away. Here's Sarah retrieving the shoe. I wish I could have gotten the shot where she was looking up and all four kids were pointing at it.

Yesterday afternoon we went to a cookout at Beth and Brian's. The kids played in the sprinkler.

And ate S'mores that Mike made in the house because all the coals went out on the fire and we were out of charcoal.

And the grownups and babies kind of chilled outside in the very pleasant weather.

Everybody left today. I had a hard time getting Trey to look at me for the family good-bye picture......
But after a great deal of effort I got his attention and he looked right at me. So did Mary, Ethan, and Sarah......
I'm gonna have to give Mike the business about that one.

Jack was so cute and Grammy-loving while he was here. I think he remembers when they stayed here for those few weeks because he definitely wanted all of my attention.

All he wanted to do was sit on my lap and when Amber tried to take him, he waved bye-bye to HER. LOL Amber's Grammy loved it of course and Amber just thought it was cute. Finally he was ready to go:

We've had lots of storms in the area today.

When I saw it was going to storm here, I took a couple pictures of my unusually beautiful-this-year peonies.

Now they look more like this:

And some of the smaller ones and older blooms even look like this:

And the pond that we're going to be working on this week now has lots of water in it again. But we need rain so I have to appreciate that we got some.

Now it's time to think about getting back to my walking, my diet, and that doggone big pond.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Striebel Pond Swans

In August of last year, I took a series of pictures of the five swans at Striebel Pond. There was a mating pair and their three offspring.
I, along with many other walkers, runners, and cyclists in the area, watched these swans grow from babies to almost adults and it was heartwarming.

I wasn't sure why, but the pictures I took at the end of October showed a total of four swans. I assumed some predator had gotten one of the youngsters but a runner who spent a lot more time out there last year than I did told me that she was there one day when a dead adult male was removed from the island in the north pond. She said that he had some kind of growth on his foot.

Cut to Spring, 2010. This picture was taken on March 12th. The mating pair appears to be back but as we'll find out later, it's a new male. I also heard that about a month before the Swan/Goose Terror, three swans had tried to move into Striebel Pond and were run out by the new male. The person who told me this felt it was the three young swans from last year trying to come back. This attempted invasion was confirmed by a comment on my Terror at Striebel Pond Series left by someone who obviously spends a lot of time out there. This person said that on April 22nd a male "Mute Swan protected pond from three interloping smaller swans (unknown breed).. Very aggressive at protecting his turf."

And by March 26th, the female and her new Mr. are nesting.

This was an interesting process in itself. Sometimes the male would be right there with the setting female.

Occasionally I saw him on what appeared to be his own nest.

But mostly, while his lady, did the hard work.

He cruised around the pond - probably making sure there were no unwelcome interlopers out there.
Needless to say, everyone watched the swans every day. It seemed to me that they were nesting far too long and I began to wonder if the eggs were sterile.

Then for three nights in a row, the male was always right there within inches of the female on her nest and I wondered if a swan hatching was imminent or even if it might have occurred.

On the third night after they were constantly together, we had a terrible storm. I was up most of the night just watching the weather. There were high winds and torrential rains. The next day when I got to Striebel Pond, the nest was gone. The water was much higher (after all Striebel Pond is really a catch basin for a flood plain) and there were just sticks floating around where there had been a carefully constructed swan nest.

And there at the end of the pond, maybe a little less than a quarter mile from where the nest had been, there was a brand new family.

Of course, I couldn't get too close. The male was very protective but I did want to get close enough so that, with the help of my zoom lens, I could count the young. There were six. Three gray and three white.

It was so heartwarming to see them.

Here they are as of yesterday.

But every since that stormy night, I wonder what kind of drama played out there in the dark, and the wind, and the rain. And I wonder how two adult swans managed to keep those babies together and moved to a safer end of the pond. I guess that proves that they're good at what they do and they have to be. There are predators out there, just waiting for a chance to snack on a baby.

So life goes on at Striebel Pond and I'm one of the lucky people that gets to watch it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

You Capture - Sky

Unfortunately I loved this subject. There was so much to choose from that I took at least 40,000 pictures and then I had to pick some out to post and it was impossible!

Obviously I liked the idea of capturing the sky in the water as well as in the sky.

So I had to kind of grab some randomly and get'em up. For more carefully chosen and edited 'sky' photos, visit Beth at Ishouldbefoldinglaundry

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shrinking Days Of Summer

Well there's a new challenge afoot at the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and I'm excited again. I love the premise of eight weeks to make a change in how we look and feel. It starts today and ends on July 21st - the day after my birthday which will make it easy to remember the target date.
The idea of doing something for a set period of time appeals to me. It makes goals seem more achievable and less abstract. The 21 Day Challenge where we worked to develop new healthier habits will stay with me well beyond the 21 days originally designated. I'm still exercising every day. After missing two days the week before last, I've re-doubled my determination to get in those 21 days in a row and I haven't missed a day since. In fact, as long as I get my three miles in today, I'll be increasing to 3 1/2 tomorrow. I still count my points religiously no matter how discouraging it is sometimes and I still go to bed at least a little earlier than I used to. Obviously I have to work on that but the important thing is that now I'm aware and eventually I hope to change that bad habit of staying up too late into a good one of getting enough sleep every night.

But this post isn't about the old 21 Day Challenge. It's about the new eight week challenge of getting ready for summer. I won't ever be ready for summer the way most people would (bathing suit presentable and all that) but I'll be ready for summer for me (or at least closer to it) . I'll be outdoors and active and feel good about how I look in the smaller clothes that I'll be able to wear.

The eight week Shrinking Days of Summer Challenge has several facets but the most important one for me involves mini challenges every week from Sunday through Saturday. Basically we'll get a task, (fitness, health, or mental well-being related) to focus on for that week. This will definitely provide the motivation and variety to keep us interested and on task for the eight week goal. I'm looking forward to that first mini challenge and each one after that. Since joining the Sisterhood I feel, for the first time in many years, like I'll see this weight loss effort through to the end. And that's a great feeling.

Now I can't forget that it's Wednesday Weigh-In and I need to post how I've done for the past week. I lost one pound. I'm good with that. It's a step in the right direction and after posting a three pound loss last week, I expected a evening out this week. I'm very aware that I'm going to have ups and downs (as in bigger losses and smaller losses). So thanks Sisterhood. I'm in it for the long haul and I'm grateful for the help and motivation you provide!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you Nancy for sending me this Versatile Blogger Award. I really enjoyed reading the post you wrote when you received it and, based on that, I thought to participate. What I didn't think about was that it might be difficult to think of 7 interesting things to write about myself. Then I remembered, you never said they had to be interesting so here goes:

1. When our first daughter, Lori, was born back in 1969, the doctor didn't recommend using plastic pants (disposable diapers didn't exist as far we knew) for at least three months. So every time our baby wet her diaper, it required a complete change of clothes. And we didn't think anything of it.

2. I'm retired and love it more than words can say. I was very unhappy in my job and I firmly believe that life shouldn't be lived unhappily. Now, though, I'm challenged to enjoy this retirement to the fullest because, guess what, there aren't enough hours in the day. I'm still working on sorting all this out - doing the things I love to do, doing the things I need to do, and doing the things that I just want to get done. It's a process but I think I'm making progress.

3. When my sister, Laurel, and I drove our brother back to Ft. Leonard Wood after a weekend leave from the National Guard back in the spring of 1966, we arrived so late in the day that we had to spend the night in a motel. It was located right on the cloverleaf that would take us back to Indiana so we didn't need to look at a map to find our way home. We drove all day and had a great time. The muffler went out on the VW so we bought some white shoe polish, painted a huge mouse on the side of the car and the words 'the mouse that roared', and laughed and laughed. We saw signs that said Springfield so we knew we were headed in the right direction and since we didn't have to worry about changing highways until we got near Chicago, we just kept on going. About the time we were wondering why we weren't seeing signs of Chicago, the engine blew on our little 'mouse that roared'. A couple of helpful motorists, a truck driver and a local resident, stopped to help us. They looked at our license plate and asked where we were headed. We said, "Home, to Indiana". They said, "You're eight miles from the Oklahoma border". Laurel and I looked at each other and, you guessed it, laughed until we couldn't breathe. We had driven all day - the wrong way. And the Springfield signs we had seen were not for Springfield, Illinois like we thought. They were for Springfield, Missouri. How we got home will be a subject for a future post.

4. I'm a koi pond enthusiast. I love my big fish and my tranquil ponds. What I don't love is cleaning the ponds and this spring the cleaning of the big pond is doubly challenging because we're completely re-working it. Some of the rocks that Mr. Right and I are moving were put in place with a tractor so it's a big job but we're finally making some progress. I'll be posting pictures of the finished project if and when we ever get it done.

5. When I was 18, I bought a red '64 Volkswagon Beatle that I loved. My friends and I went out almost every night meeting people we already knew and people we didn't know and having the time of our lives.

6. I used to smoke 3 packs (or more) of cigarettes a day and NOBODY thought that I, of all people, would ever be able to quit; but one day (and I remember exactly where I was when it happened) a thought came into my head that I believed in my heart, "If you don't quit smoking, you will never see your grandchildren". And finally something was powerful enough to make me quit.

7. Lynn, Betty, Rosanne, and Laurel are four very special women that I've known most of my life. Some I seldom see, some I never see but they will always be close to me in my heart. Each one has profoundly affected my life in some way and I'll always love them for it.

That's it and it was a lot of fun re-visiting these amazing times for me. Thank you again, Nancy, for the opportunity.

Now, I'll address the next prerequisite of the award - passing it on to other bloggers. Since Nancy sent it to me and Rhonda, they're both out so I'll send it to Beth. She started me on this blogging journey and I'm very grateful to her for that. The second goes to Mendie. I don't personally know her but, despite the disparity in our ages, I feel like we have a lot in common. The third and fourth go to Toadmama and Imadramamama both of whom I've recently discovered and very much enjoy following.

I hope we're allowed to pass it to four people because I'd really enjoy hearing what each one has to say!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Terror At Striebel Pond, Part 3

If you've read my last two posts, you know that a huge drama was playing out at Striebel Pond - one that had all of us humans standing and watching in awe. The resident swan seemed to be making it his business to eradicate geese from the southern pond.

The geese were really frantic.

And with good reason.

The babies waited anxiously and obediently on the shore.

Finally one of the parents was able to make her (or his) way over to the area where the babies waited and called to them.

The little ones came running.

While the swan watched them angrily.

Then he took after the mate who was still in the water.

Even though the goose got behind him, he still acted very pleased with himself. I think he was just trying to make the goose think it was over.

But then he changed direction and took off for the one on the shore with the babies.

Things were looking pretty bleak for the geese. But on the other side of the dividing path in the northern pond, a third adult goose swam back and forth anxiously honking encouragement maybe?

And all of a sudden, it was like he couldn't stand it anymore. He lifted his wings and flew to the other pond and joined the fight. And now, it was really on.

The swan seemed to re-double his efforts to get to the babies while geese distracted him in every way possible.

Finally the geese, with a little help from their friend, were able to gather the babies and head for higher ground.


On my next turn around the pond, the geese had given up. They were all in the north pond and looked pretty okay with it if not a little sheepish.

The next day, the swan family was all together looking serene in the south pond.

What a relief! The geese were nowhere in sight on either pond, and to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite movies, "Once again the world turned in greased grooves".

On closer inspection though, what looked like rumpled feathers on one of the swans turned out to be something much more disconcerting.

So the geese were gone and one of the swans appeared to be badly injured. More on that later.

I went to Striebel Pond to walk everyday and I didn't see any geese for three days. The big battle took place on Wednesday and there was no sign of geese until Saturday. And that's when I made my big mistake. I was walking for speed that day so I didn't take my camera. Therefore, I hope you can just believe what I'm about to tell you.

I saw three adult geese enter the north side of the south pond (the swan's pond). They swam in formation toward the swans on the south side of that pond. They were about 20 feet apart and they were honking boisterously as they swam south. As I walked down that dividing path, Mr. Stare-a-lot stepped out of the tall grass from the north side and had the gall to hiss at me in a menacing manner. I saw that he had his whole family with him. And would you believe that while the three adult geese ran interference, Mr. Stare-a-lot and his family crossed the dividing path, stepped into the water in the south pond and started swimming around like it was their's. The three adults were clearly taunting the swan and before I could complete the circuit, the swan was heading for battle. I took a picture from the parking lot but I was out of energy and couldn't go closer.

But isn't it extraordinary?! I mean really? Could the geese have a strategy? Could they really be helping each other out? That's certainly what it looked like.

It's Monday. I walked today without my camera again. The swans are serene and the geese are gone again. There's an island in the north pond and I wonder if they could be lying low in there waiting for 50 more cousins to come in and help them battle that swan.

Oh, and I found this online:

It is normal for swans to swim with one leg tucked onto their back. People are often concerned that the leg is broken or deformed but the swan is perfectly fine.

Swans will often stretch one of their legs whilst swimming and instead of putting it in the water, they will tuck it up onto their back.
It has been suggested that this behavior may play a role in helping to regulate the body temperature of the bird. The legs and feet are the only part of the swan not covered in feathers so the blood vessels are in closer contact with the air. The large surface area of the webbed foot makes it easier for heat to be transferred from the body to the air, cooling the swan. This heat exchange could also work the other way, with the feet absorbing heat from the air to warm the bird.
Whew! That's a relief. Makes me glad that Department of Natural Resources guy didn't answer the phone when I called the other night. lol