Friday, December 26, 2008

Stupefied by the labor of digestion

Bluh. I had to relax and do genealogy all day today, to recover from yesterday's intense gluttony. Bluh. Diet starts again next week, I guess.

I am much too lazy to send handmade cards for Christmas, so it's a wonder that I receive any.

My Mom's cross-stitch. I forgot to ask if she started these last Dec 26.

Cutie-pie niece designed this card from my sister's family. (My brother-in-law says he's the handsome one in this drawing.)

Mt artist friend included one of her dogs on their card.

OK, this one wasn't homemade, but my brother knows how much I love Edward Gorey!


Stupefied by the labor of digestion: Stolen from Anaïs Nin's diary, which was featured on the Writer's Almanac today.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Creative Outsourcing

Hmm, there's something different about the office this morning...

I think they've brought in some outside contractors.

"Umm, your drawings may be a little late...

... we kind of had an incident."

I guess he heard there would be no bonus this Christmas.


This happened at an office in Birmingham today. Raccoons really did pee on the drawings and poop all over the desks. Animal control wouldn't come, since the racoons were indoors. Did you know that private critter control starts at about $450 per hour?!

(I didn't take these photos - Hubby's co-workers sent them to him.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cleaning ducks

We've been thrilled lately with plentiful downpours, cloudbursts, thunderstorms, showers, drizzles, sprinkles, and mists. Over six inches of very welcome precipitation over the past two weeks or so. (I'm sure that only seems like more rain than we've had in the last two years.)

Our Muscovy ducks don't much like the water. You'll find one in a pond only if you've thrown him in there yourself. They don't particularly like the rain either — they'll retreat to the porch to stand under the eaves to stay dry.

But the recent rain has often been at night, when the Muscovies like to be in the (uncovered) pen.

Boy, are those ducks clean!


Submitted to the Friday Ark.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter thrush

The Hermit Thrushes have returned for the winter. They're silent here, for the most part — you only spot them from their movements.

(Nothing to see here, just a bump on the branch, move along, move along...)

They desert us in summer, breeding as far north as mid-Alaska.

Wood Thrushes have an opposite agenda:
1. Arrive in spring.
2. Sing like a lovesick fool all summer long.
3. Shuffle off to Panama once the days grow short.

Someone once told me: the Hermit Thrush is rusty on his tail, and the Wood Thrush is rusty on his head. I can never recall which is which in the field, though. There are easier distinctions anyway, especially when you aren't usually in a position to be peering down on their heads or tails. (The Wood Thrush's spots are much darker, for example.)

During migration it can get confusing, with the Veery, Swainson's Thrush, and Gray-cheeked Thrush also thrown into the mix. I'm afraid I may have fallen out of practice in telling them apart without having a field guide handy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


What are the odds?

In Georgia last month, I visited some relatives and searched through photos for ancestors. I came across this instead.

A pint-sized Valentine!

Like Braveheart, but with a cow.


Ang mentioned in comments that heart patterns on livestock aren't completely uncommon. So I did a little searching and found these online:

British piglet, also named Valentine, beyond cute.

Japanese chihuahua, named Heart-kun, exceedingly adorable.

Cat and another cat (not quite as well-defined, still charming).


Updated again:

Check out Northview Diary's cow, Mandy, who has a cute little white heart on her side.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What the storm hath wrought

We could have used all this rain last spring or summer, but it's still welcome.

Even if last week's storms are going to cause a little extra work. I wish I'd put something in there for scale - this tree was huge. I had to hop up on it to get over.

This ex-Sycamore was definitely dead already.

I think the fish and ducks and flittery little birds would like this a lot, but hubby thinks it needs removing.

Collateral damage... I wish it hadn't taken two live trees with it.

It's amazing how fiercely the Sycamore balls still cling, this time of year.

Except for this one.

Flocks of Cedar Waxwings celebrated the rain. (Click to enlarge.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Recent culinary adventures

It's kind of embarrassing to admit, but we've never cooked a roast before, other than in the crockpot. (We call it crock roast.)

My husband and I have contrasting cooking styles. I describe his as, "Throw it up in the air - it'll probably come down a roast." I believe his description of my technique includes writing a book on how to cook a roast before ever opening the oven.

We eventually worked our way through the wilderness, with the help of hasty phone calls to relatives. It was tasty.

Homemade buttermilk and butter from this past weekend.

We'd made butter once before. Or actually, I made butter once before, while someone else sulked and refused to participate, because I'd started without him.

Anyway, it's very easy, if you want to try it. There are lots of detailed tutorials on the internet, but the simple version is:

1. Buy heavy whipping cream. Bring to room temperature.
2. Pour into a jar with a lid (and ample headspace).
3. Shake it.

That's about it. You have to shake for about 20 minutes, and you have to rinse it when it's done. From the small cream container, you'll get butter equivalent to one to two sticks.

Now, if I could only find someone with a cow, I could make it from fresh cream, mmmmm. I've had it that way, once, and oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, was it wonderful.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Covered Bridge Festival

I was a lot more impressed with this costume before I learned that they sell them at pet stores. (I'd thought that the impatient lady at the other end of the leash had made it herself.) Still, it was cute, if you like clothes on dogs. He didn't seem to mind much.

The "Covered Bridge Festival" is held in Oneonta (Blount county) every October. I'm only two months late in posting these pictures. On the bright side, if you're sorry you missed it and are eager to attend the next one, well, now it's only ten months away.

That's the main shopping street in downtown Oneonta. Annie's old store was just there on the other side of Regions bank, just beyond that inflatable green turret. It's Fred's store now - the Eureka shop. (Eureka as in "aha", not vacuums.) I think it's the best shop on the street, but of course Fred sells my handmade soap there, so I might be a little biased.

The next street over, there's an antique car show. People in Alabama seem to hold antique car shows at the drop of a hat. I suspect that antique car people just like to socialize with each other.

You can see a video of one of the bridges, and a bit of the festival, and a cute kid, here. Not my video - it's from Thicket magazine, a very good new(ish) magazine about Alabama.

Another article about the festival is here. It includes photos of all the remaining Blount county covered bridges, as well as my friend Barbara (whose name people always spell incorrectly).

There were previously four covered bridges here, but one burned down. I should say, one was burned down. That's the scuttlebutt anyway: Ne'er-do-wells partying near the bridge were reported and forced to leave. The bridge suspiciously burned down shortly thereafter.

I'm not sure why the article refers to an "accident" that closed a bridge temporarily last year. According to the newspaper, there were deliberate, heavy-duty, meant-to-destroy acts of vandalism on two of the bridges. I'm not sure if rural areas have more than their share of misbegotten miscreants, or if the teenagers here are just really, really bored.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Should have known better

"Look! Something caught a rabbit!"

While I was bent trying to focus on the fur (proud of myself for spotting something so well-camouflaged and so small), my husband got the bigger picture.

"The rest of him's over here."

OK, ew.

"Did he escape, but get mortally wounded? Did he just crawl over there to die?" (Latent detective tendencies in high gear!)

"Well, probably not. His head is missing."

Had we blundered up and scared a predator away in mid-snack? Hubby moved the carcass a little, and it was stiff. So, no.

Jasmine discovered some strewn rabbit guts, and happily gobbled up several bits before we noticed and tugged her away. Yuck, Jasmine.

On down the path, I had an idea. "Hey, let's get the game cam and put it there, to see if any critter comes back later to finish his dinner." (Latent detective tendencies on fire!)

I'd been moaning about moving the camera for some time now. We were not getting anything interesting where it had been stationed for the past several months.

While hubby was setting up the camera, I found more evidence.

"Maybe if I put this on the blog, a bird expert could tell me what type of bird this feather came from..."

OK, so a raptor (owl? buteo? accipiter?) was probably not going to come back to finish off the rabbit, but surely we'd get some cool wildlife shot of hungry scavengers.

But I really should have known better.

The only one who came back to finish anything was Jasmine.

Bad dog!

Oh, well.


If you want to see the Cottontail in full headless gory glory, you can click here. He's missing a portion of his side too. It's bloody. It's not for everybody.


On the feather, I was thinking "owl" but I really have no idea. (So if you do, please post a comment.) It seems similar to the photo on this page titled "Great Horned Owl feather". That would be cool, since we've never seen one here before.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Surprise visitor

I spotted an anole on the wrong side of the glass. I'm not the best at reptile-wrangling, so I was surprised when I easily convinced him onto my hand.

"Poor thing," I thought, "he's so weak he can barely move."

Then he sprinted up my arm and onto my shoulder. Running headlong towards the face of an apparent predator doesn't seem like a good survival tactic, but it was hilarious. Watching that little anole face moving so quickly towards my nose really made me grin.

I ran outside before he could leap off. He stayed put. I leaned against a wooden post, and he slowly ambled off. He even stuck around to pose for a portrait.

One post away, his vardøger seemed satisfied.


I forgot to mention the scientific name. The Carolina anole (or Green anole) is Anolis carolinensis.