Sunday, March 18, 2012

Turkey Went A-Courtin' and He Did Trot, Uh-Huh...

It may be hard to imagine, but there can be rewards in staying home and working on taxes.

Or at least rewards for looking out the back window while taking a break from taxes and talking to my sister on the telephone -- which is what I was doing when I first spotted this handsome fellow.

I was unable to get a photo of him then, since he wandered out of range before I could snag my camera and get back to the window. When I had finished my call, I went out back to see if I could spot him anywhere in the woods, but he was long gone. I clucked a few times just for fun, and to see if I could get any reaction from him -- alas, nothing.

So, imagine my delight when I saw him wander back in the other direction an hour or so later, talking turkey and trying to find a sweet hen to woo. I don't know whether or not he heard me when I called earlier, but I got a big grin out of seeing him again. There haven't been any turkeys in the woods here for a number of years. I've seen a small flock about a mile from my house and from a distance across a big field, but not any closer than that.

I was totally amazed just a few minutes ago (these pictures were taken an hour or more ago) I saw a hen -- the very sort of sweet hen Jake had been looking for. She was walking through the woods (sans Jake) to the other side of the hill. She was too far over the edge to get a good picture by the time I realized she was there -- she was clearly intent on getting about her appointed rounds. Still, it was great fun to see that Jake had a potential lady friend.

I was also quite pleased that some of the beautiful golds and greens of his feathers showed up in the photos. It wasn't even sunny, so that made it especially nice to catch a little of the iridescence in his plumage. This guy does have a beard, but it's a pretty short one -- that's why I'm calling him 'Jake' - he's almost certainly one of last year's young. Next year, we'll call him 'Tom'.

I hope you enjoyed seeing him, too. :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hot Out of the Oven!

Happy Pi Day! (For those not mathematically inclined, 3.14 is the short form of pi, so March 14 is a perfect day to commemorate the beautiful simplicity of pi.) It’s always fun to try and celebrate Pi Day by eating food comprised of circles – there are many delicious round culinary options like carrot slices, shaped artisan breads or dinner rolls, pie, grapefruit or orange halves, peas, pancakes, brie (or other wheels of) cheese, pizza, blueberries, pi-neapple rings, quiche, of course, more pie.

The pie featured here was my first attempt at a latticework top. My sister-in-law showed me how it was done and, even though it looks terribly difficult, her tricks made it a manageable feat of beautiful pie embellishment. It’s rhubarb custard inside. Yum! So, be sure and stop by and say, “Pi!” (Or is that Pi-Z Kut???)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Migrants and Residents

No, this isn't going to be a political blog entry. Rather, it's an appreciation of the wonderful birds that hang out in my yard during the Winter or pass through on their way to Summer nesting grounds. Or even just stick around all year long.

The purple finches pass through twice a year and sometimes stay for the cold months. They're wonderful little splashes of fuchsia in the branches and at the feeders.

Flickers are year-round residents, but they're more frequently seen on the ground in the warmer months, poking around for bugs. When it's cold, or until the bugs really get on a roll, they absolutely love the peanut butter dough I make for them. Well, everybody else does, too. It's like peanut butter cookies for the birds. :)

Yellow-rumped warblers surprised me with their taste for peanutty (is that a word?) goodness. They flew in with a flock of goldfinches and some pine siskins back in October and decided to stay for the season.

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers (sorry about the slightly blurry photo here) weren't as much of a surprise with respect to peanut butter, since all the woodpeckers love it, but the bluebirds love peanut butter cookie dough, too, and even learned how to pretend to be clinging birds so they could get at it! I'll try to get a couple pictures of them holding on for dear life - they're so cute - and they're absolutely stunning sitting on a limb in the sunshine. They remained with me all year this year, too.

A large contingent of goldfinches moved in for the Winter, and now all their cousins are flying up from their snowbird stomping grounds and having a snack and rest before flying on their merry way - they're eating me out of house and home. I won't have too much longer to enjoy them because they never seem to stick around to nest in my yard. They're also moulting and looking a bit motley these days. Patches of olive and yellow can be sort of comical - camo gone wrong. Perhaps they want to get all the awkward, transitional plumage taken care of before they move on to set up territories and go courting. Everyone wants to look their best on a date!!

Here's another warbler - it just tickles me how it learned to cling to the side of the feeder. At first, I would just stick some dough on top of the feeder log and they would fly down and eat that, but they decided they wanted more and learned how to do avian gymnastics.

And another flicker - I had seven or eight of these guys flitting around the yard last week. Pretty soon, they'll disappear into the woods to nest and won't come back until they're trying to keep up with their fledglings' appetites.

Bluebirds and finches don't mind sharing treats. I've seen three bluebirds and as many finches all foraging together. The cardinals share nicely with the finches and juncos and sparrows, too.

The downy woodpecker doesn't share quite as well. She doesn't want the bluebird to move into the bluebird house. She roosts there every night and has been known to toss other birds' nesting materials out the door when they tried to move in - this photo is pretty grainy because I took it really early in the morning. Madame Downy was surveying the world from her parlor window before going out for breakfast. That sleepy little striped face makes me chuckle every day.

What great entertainment -- way better than anything they've got on cable! ;-)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Barbie!

I did give a warning hint that I would be celebrating Barbie's birthday, remember? She's 53 today and still looking great. I gathered up a bunch of dolls yesterday and took their picture, since they're the reason we're having this party.

We can also celebrate Middle Name Pride Day today. Never heard of it? Well, I hadn't either. Barbie's middle name is Millicent, just in case you needed a little bit of trivia to share with some poor, unsuspecting soul. They'll shake their head - just like you're shaking your head at me right now. There's a reason for all this, though.

Because anyone who knows anything about dressing and playing with Barbies knows just how important it is to accessorize. :) Right? Oh, and if you place an order at today, mention Barbie's birthday and you'll get the LTC I made a couple years ago for her 50th birthday - I still have a few. She was originally sent out for a Pin-ups swap, but I've opened her up to everybody, so you don't have to be a member of that group on AQ any more to see her listing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus i Bawb!

Happy St. David's Day to everyone!! Thank you to Vyx for the lovely daffodil card I got in the mail. Beautiful carving!!

If you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about, St. David is the patron saint of Wales and it's a celebration for the Welsh and the Welsh-at-heart. The daffodil and the leek are traditional symbols of Wales, so it's a day to celebrate with a lovely bowl of potato leek soup and a daffodil on your lapel and a song on your lips. After all, Wales is a land of singers and poets -- it even says so in the national anthem.

My daffodils aren't blooming yet this year, but they're going to soon, if the weather holds. This is how the ones in my front yard looked in the second week of March last year. I thought the folks who got hammered with snow yesterday and today would appreciate the hope of Spring in the snow.

Yes, I'm celebrating - my lapel is adorned with a pretty little leek pin and I'm having a small party. You're invited, of course!!