Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Must be shred

Seen on a bin at a library. A local University library.

How proud this makes me of my diploma.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Scritch scratch

Another recent game cam pic. After looking through some of the older game camera photos, I realized that we've had the camera in almost this exact location before.

I'm not sure why it surprised me, when I first realized it... Animals like to walk on clear, open paths just as much as people do.

I suppose I vaguely imagined some sort of I'm an animal! I walk in the woods! philosphy. But no. If we built an asphalt highway through those trees, the animals would be walking on it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Melanistic coyote?

I'm fairly certain that this recent game gam photo is of a melanistic coyote.

You can see why we've been tempted to buy a new camera with a faster trigger. We get a fairly high percentage of this type of shot (only part of a moving animal).

Here he is going in the opposite direction.

Here's that same photo, lightened up a little.

Without seeing the face, I can't say for sure that it's not a coydog. I don't think those are very common here either, though.

Keep your fingers crossed that we'll get a better photo of this individual in the coming weeks.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tour of trees

At one of the homes we toured last weekend, my friend S. and I enjoyed the sight of the huge trees as much as the home and all the decorations.

How I could have neglected to note exactly what type of trees these were, I'm not sure... I guess I was afraid that the shuttle would leave us. Looks kind of like an oak though, I think. You can click to see it better. (I blurred my friend's face so she wouldn't kill me.)

Another nice one on the other side of the house. Wish I had trees this nice and spreading. (If you're local, you might recognize this as Mitchell Farm.)

On the walk back to the car, we passed a couple of trees with last-gasp color. (That smaller farm manager's house is really more my speed.)

The trees near the Ruby Radish were bare of leaves. The better to see the good bone structure, though.

This is the view from Mitchell Farm - it gives you an idea of the winter forest look in my limestone valley. Almost everything green is a cedar; there are few pines.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tour of Homes

A friend and I went on the Blount County Tour of Homes. Ticket sales help fund grants and special projects for local schools.

This year, I guess they had a hard time finding people to open their houses. Out of the five "homes", one was a church, and another was a tea room.

It was fun anyway, and the refreshments at The Ruby Radish were so good that I doubt people would mind them being on the tour every year.

The photos here are all from the same house - the smallest one on the tour. (I haven't processed the other photos yet.)

I'll never live in a house this fancy, but I enjoy seeing other people's homes... their doodads, their decorations, their dishes, and so forth.

She had a large collection of nutcrackers near the fireplace.

"Nutcrackers are scary," says my husband.

Shiny festive mantel.

An abundance of matching candles.


The schools need help because Blount Countians tend to spend their money in Jefferson county, where most of them work, rather than in their home county, where their kids go to school. It's a problem.

All that lovely new paving on Hwy 75 is thanks to stimulus money, by the way, not local tax money.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Early snow

Nothing like a little snow, to bring one out of a blog slump.

Every channel forecast snow, but I didn't pay much attention to their percentage predictions. My belief that it would actually snow, in Alabama, in early December, was exactly 0%.

But it did snow, a little.

Jasmine romped. She adores cold weather.

The chickens were wary. It might have been some evil plot, after all.

I don't remember the trees ever looking so nice, after such a light snow.

I hope the rosemary didn't get too frizzen.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I and the Bird anniversary

It's the four-year anniversary of I and the Bird! Go visit the special-edition post Four Years Young. Nice job, Corey.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Search terms

Further down, there are fifteen other variations on the yellow fuzzy caterpillar theme, and even more versions with misspellings of caterpillar or yellow.

This topic came up the other night at the Blount County Blogger dinner... what is the top search term for your blog? Mine tends to vary seasonally, but year in and year out, the overall winner is always... yellow fuzzy caterpillar.

Blue snake usually comes in second.

I used to look at my stats compulsively, but these days I tend to forget for weeks at a time. So if anyone's sent me a rash of traffic, I apologize for not thanking you properly. The stats roll over after about a day, since I'm cheap and don't pay for the extended version.

We also talked about answering comments, and I admitted that I'd been kind of slack in that regard, especially lately. If I've ignored your comment, it wasn't on purpose. I just tend to put things off, or get started doing something else, and then forget. I wish there were a pill for that.


Who else was at the dinner?
Edifice Rex
The Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore
and a friend who I'm trying to convince to blog.

The Country Experience couldn't make it this time, but we hope to see her next week, as well as mountainmelody and WhoKnowsWhat.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Colinus virginianus

Growing up, I knew this bird as "a Quail". Since there's only one type of quail in Alabama, there's no confusion. I also heard them called Bobwhites, and some people put both together: Bobwhite quail. The standard name is Northern Bobwhite, but you'll be considered an egghead if you go around calling it that.

Our place was so manicured when we first moved here, that we never heard Bobwhites. A few years of "the natural look" was more to their liking, and now it's not unusual to hear them singing. It never fails to make me a little happier, every time I hear one.

Yesterday my husband discovered one walking down our driveway. Between a fogged lens and zero cover between us and the quail, I never thought to get a photo, let alone one this close. But this bedraggled individual seemed almost as curious about us as we were about him, allowing us closer than almost any wild bird I've ever encountered. He wasn't stupid though - he walked off into the brush just as we reached him.

Bobwhites are in decline, and I suspect that their numbers here are probably hurt by the huge increase in armadillos in recent years. (They're ground-nesting birds.)


Click here to hear a Bobwhite calling. We got close enough yesterday to hear an endearing little quiet chirping noise that he was making.

Visit the Friday Ark.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Indecisive cropping

I'm growing Zinnias for Hospice again this year. They're perfect for me: varied, easy, prolific, and forgiving. And, good for Hospice: long vase life.

I'm growing the same types as before, but their behavior this year (when not totally drought-stricken) is wildly different. The large varieties are doing so much better that I'd think they were different plants. (They're actually from the same batch of seeds.) We watered them last year, but apparently, that doesn't compare to actual rain.

The only problem I'm having...

... besides Japanese beetles...

... is indecisive cropping.

Can't decide which looks best.

I have that problem a lot.

Gave up after one try on this Peppermint Stick variety.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gray day swallows

Flighty flibbertigibbets.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chickens love watermelon

Chickens love watermelon, with a passion. These were just our leftover rinds, with only a bit of red. Last year we bought an over-mushy melon by mistake, and they ate the whole thing: chicken heaven.

I had figured that the black and white chickens were Dominiques, but now I'm not so sure. Dominiques (or Domineckers, as they are called here) have a rose comb, and these don't appear to be headed in that direction. The female on the right as a lot of whitish feathers on her front, but the others don't. The feathers on the back of their necks seem to be changing from black-and-white to brown-and-white.

My husband says they're probably all just mutt chickens. The three remaining excess cockerels haven't made it to the stew pot yet. They're not fighting, or even crowing, so far, but it's just a matter of time. For now though, they are helping decrease the insect population in the yard. This little flock roams further afield than others we've had.

I hate the fact that after the cockerels are culled, we'll have one tiny flock of two chickens and another tiny flock of three. "Can't we all just get along" is not a sentiment that's shared by chickens, apparently. The older birds just won't have anything to do with the younger ones. They treat them as if they were another species entirely. I wonder, if one of the older ones dies... will the remaining one prefer to spend her time alone, or will she try to join the younger flock? I'm guessing the latter.

The one on the right is lowest in the pecking order. The other chickens chase her from the food at times. But I've taken a tip from some people and started offering bugs that I find in the garden to the chickens. This gal is the one who comes running the fastest, for her caterpillar treat. Now she runs to me, expecting bugs, every time she sees me. I'm tempted to buy mealworms to keep in my pocket, so I won't be such a continual disappointment to her.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bad picture of a good fish

We walked in the creek. Apparently it's become our warm-weather holiday tradition. We spotted these fish, that I photographed poorly, and one other cool long-skinny-stripey one that I missed altogether.

Hubby said he thinks this is a sunfish. I looked online but couldn't find anything that matches exactly. (I'm hoping one of you will enlighten me.)

The weather was hot, the water was cool. The gnats were horrible. The mosquitoes, surprisingly, weren't unbearable. I did get an interesting bite that looked like it might have come from a 6-inch-tall vampire. It's still a little swollen, but I've experienced no bloodlust so far.

It hasn't rained in over three weeks. Most of the county got a nice downpour last weekend, but not here. The grass makes sad crunchy sounds. Hubby put in drip irrigation in most of the garden again this year, so I fired it up for a good soaking this week... and forgot to turn it off. For a long time. A looooong time. An "I'm embarrassed to tell my husband exactly how long" long time. The plants didn't seem to mind.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Daylily garden

I knew, in a theoretical kind of way, that there were a lot of varieties of Daylilies. It didn't really prevent my non-stop gaping at a Daylily garden, though.

One of our wildflower group couples gave us a tour of their garden this week.

Their main focus is Daylilies -- they have hundreds of them.

I doubt I'll ever be as dedicated a gardener.

But I'm lucky to have friends who are.

All the types were labeled, but non-dedicated non-gardener that I am, I didn't take down any names.

If you're dying to know about any particular one, I can probably find out.


Daylilies are Hemerocallis sp. The name in Greek is a combination of Hemera (day) and Kallos (beautiful).

I wrote about words using Kallos before, when talking about Beautyberry. Every time I come across it in a botanical name, I still crack up, remembering that comment about a track team and their cry of "Callipygious!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bird's Nest fungus

I know I'm living up to the most common descriptive written in my old yearbooks ("weird") when my first reaction to finding Bird's Nest fungus is, "Oh, I've been wanting to see those!"

But it's true. If I'd had a Most Wanted list for fungi, this one would've been near the top. I should have prepped myself a bit better though - I didn't realize that they were so tiny. (That green towering thing on the left is an onion.)

It's apparently very much a fungus of bark or wood mulch. The "eggs" contain the spores, which are splashed out by rain. So I'm thinking that our mulch probably already contained the spores when we bought it.


Key to the Bird's Nest fungi. I believe this one is Cyathus striatus.

Other Most Wanted?
Dead Man's fingers!
Any variety of Stinkhorn fungus!


Hmm, there's a blog carnival/festival/circus for everything else in the world, but not one for fungi? Or am I just missing it?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soap meeting

I always have so much fun at our Alabama Soapmaker meetings, and this was our largest ever: 101 attendees. At least a third of them were from out of state this year. There were so many new people that I didn't get to meet them all.

To inspire creativity, we participate in swaps. This year I signed up for the lotion bar swap, figuring that it would force me to work on my formulating. (I've made them before, but hadn't really ever been happy with them.)

Mine was still a bit greasier than what I was aiming for, but it sure worked well on softening my rough elbows. So I called it "Elbow Grease". It still needs some tinkering.

After I see all the swap goodies, I usually end up wishing I'd entered two or three more. This year it was the Shampoo Bar swap that I was especially envious of. Dianne always has such adorable packaging, and her treatment of the swap items was no different.

Cute, huh?

Shopping is one of my favorite parts of the meeting, and this year we had more vendors than ever.

This is one of those times I wish for smell-o-vision.

We also have table space for members' garage-sale items. If you're lucky, you can pay for your meeting expenses this way.

We usually have a mixture of lectures and demonstrations. Carol demonstrated her company's cutter, and Darlene (who's really from Georgia, but we claim her as an honorary Alabamian) showed us how to make sugarcube scrubbies.

There's a camera showing the up-close action during demos. This is Alison's lotion-making class. (Click to enlarge.)

But sometimes you just have to get up close in person.

Theda showed us how to make liquid soap.

Tammy is the "Mud Queen" and sells all manner of Dead Sea salts and mud products. Here she is demonstrating the proper use of gloves and goggles.

That evening, she had a mud party in her room, and I was able to take many incriminating photographs.

I'm hoping my blackmail money will start arriving any minute now.