Friday, May 17, 2013


This time of year is the very best for bird watching in our neighborhood.  Just as the blossoms pop out on the fruit trees and my bridal veil bush puts on a show of cascading flowers; the bright red-white-blue lazuli buntings and orange orioles arrive on their way to their summer homes.  The following is a re-post of the drama in our back yard a few years ago.

Orange and black are aggressive colors. They're the colors of sports teams and Halloween. When I saw orange and black in the plum tree I got out my camera. A big oriole was making a meal of the bugs and worms there.

He was a bird with attitude.
When he flew to the lawn he was met by an adversary.

None shall pass.
None shall pass!

I have no quarrel with you, good Sir, but I must cross this lawn.
Then you shall die.
I command you to stand aside!

I move for no bird.
So be it!

Now! Stand aside, worthy adversary.
Come on you pansy!

You are indeed brave, Sir, but the fight is mine.
Oh, had enough, eh?

Look, stop that.
Chicken! Chicken!

Right, I’ll do you for that!
You’ll what?
Come ‘ere!
What are you going to do, bleed on me?

I’m invincible!
You’re a loony.

I always triumph!--Have at you!
Come on then!

All right; we’ll call it a draw.

Oh, oh, I see, flying away, ‘eh?

You orange fool! Come back here and take what’s coming to you…I’ll bite your leg off!

And if you haven’t already guessed, the script is adapted from the clash between The Black Knight and King Arthur in Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


After living huddled next to any heat source available while wrapped up in layers of fuzzy clothing since last September, it’s almost a shock to have sunny days and warmish weather.  The blossoming trees and green leaves poking out of the once snow-covered ground are always startling no many how many years I it see it happen.

The longer days and the milder weather kick in some kind of fever in me to grow things.  Yet I’m still under doctor’s restrictions to stay away from heavy lifting and strenuous exercise.  So I found myself ordering an assortment of mosses.  I could at least plant a terrarium.

The mosses came from a far-away forest in little zip lock bags. They made a wonderful garden under glass.

The place was immediately invaded by dinosaurs. 
 I told them there was no unauthorized breeding in Jurassic Park.

If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories.

And so it was that the extra mosses took up residence in a big bottle I’ve had for years. I've made a living biological attraction so astounding that it will capture the imagination of the entire planet!  Or not.

Still itching to grow things and inspired by a story on the NPR Radio program, Science Friday: Michael Pollan—You Are What You Cook-- It was so interesting I ordered his new book: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformantion, and I decided to create my own sour dough bread starter.

Basically, you make a paste of flour and water, leave it in a warm place and feed it occasionally with more flour and water.  Over a period of a few days it becomes colonized with microbes.

From there I went to making my own sourdough bread using a recipe from

After an hour of raising in a pan and another hour raising on a baking sheet I had dough ready for the oven.

Forty minutes later I had my very own loaf of crusty artisan bread.  Towanda!
 Still, I didn’t get the first slice and I had to fight for the second one. 

Yes, spring fever is a strong force.  Well, it’s either that or those pills the doctor had me pick up at the pharmacy.

Evelyn Couch:  Towanda, the Avenger!
I'll put tiny bombs in Penthouse and they'll explode when you open 'em.
I'll ban all fashion models who weigh less than 130 pounds.
I'll give half the military budget to people over 65...and declare wrinkles sexually desirable.
Towanda, Righter of Wrongs, Queen Beyond Compare!
Ninny Threadgoode:  How many of them hormones you takin', honey?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


It was one of those mornings when I woke up way too early.  After staring at the ceiling fan and listening to DH snore for a while I gave up and got up and went for a walk down by Nature Park Pond.  I took a bag of old dry bread to feed the ducks.  However, the ducks had been enjoying a bounty of bread benevolence and weren’t interested in my breakfast donation.  I sat there for a while enjoying the sunrise.

Then this hairy thing swam carefully up to the shore.

While I sat there quietly a muskrat came to investigate the yummy smell.

Dry bread must have looked better to him than the minnows and waterbugs he’d been hunting.

He didn’t even care if there wasn’t any marmalade or raspberry jam.

Although he did take a few of the dry crusts down for a soak before he ate them.

He was so busy with his banquet that I was able to fumble out my cell phone and take a few photos even  though he was just a few feet from where I sat.

When he’d eaten his fill he waddled back to the water on his little webbed feet.

Then casually swam away using that long scaly tail to propel him off to do whatever water rats do.

Click on the link below to see a video from another time I was sitting quietly by a pond trying to get a few pictures of birds.  It was early spring and there was still snow in the shady places along the shore.
I heard an odd chirping sound and saw a family of otters, two young ones and a mamma playing in the water.