Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oh MY! Is that an Eagle?

Back in the spring, I was driving to work. I take a fairly back-roads way to work, both to cut the time I have to spend with other drivers, and to enjoy the scenery. In the fall the trees are gorgeous, in the winter the roads are hazardous (well, they are that way everywhere, so it's better if there are fewer crazy drivers to contend with), and in the spring there are all kinds of beautiful natural sights to see.  One of the things I truly love is the amount of migrating birds that I see on the various small ponds on my way. I love to see all the Canada Geese, but it's a great treat to see Egrets, Blue Heron (which live here), Loons, and the occasional pairs of Swans.  I keep my eyes open for large birds at each of the ponds I pass, as I drive to work.  I can do this, because the road I travel is, as I said, less traveled, and there is rarely any traffic on it at the early hour I'm on my way to school.

One morning, as I rounded a hairpin turn, where of course slow is the way to go, I looked to the left at a small pond that sits just at this turn.  There on the side of the pond was a large, dark bird, that was quite large.  Its head was white, or so I thought.  I quickly pulled over to the side of the road, and rolled down my window.  Immediately I got out my very high def, Iphone camera, and snapped a photo, hoping to enlarge it enough to determine what kind of bird this was.  I was in full Sherlock Holmes bird mode at this point.  The bird was very cooperative, sitting there looking over the pond, just hanging out in the grass.  He (or it, as I could not determine the gender of this bird by looking at it) seemed to be interested in the contents of the pond, which for my purposes was just FINE!

The photo, of course, was too far away, now I wanted to get a closer look, but was well aware (being the bird expert I am) that the bird might fly off if I got too close. So, I took my phone and slowly crept toward the bird.  As I got closer, I realized this bird was MUCH larger than it had looked from the road and from my car.  I also found that it was not flying, but was hopping along the edge of the pond, and not going very fast either.  Now, I got worried!  I quickly went back to my car, looked up the number for the ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources for you non-native nature people) and prepared to call them, should I need assistance.  I also took the small quilt (made by my mother, and always carried in the trunk of my car in case of emergencies, and THIS qualified as an emergency) and draped it over my arm.

I moved my position of approach to the rear of the bird.  This wasn't hard, as the area was a large meadow and the grass was not very tall yet.  You might picture me in a skirt, sandals, carrying a small quilt and an iphone, with ODNR on speed dial, sneaking quietly up on a large bird.  As I got closer, I began to realize that this bird was likely 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall!  AND it was definitely a bald eagle!  There was no doubt in my mind that I was on an even more important rescue mission than I had originally imagined.  I might also tell you that time was not important to me, never mind that I was supposed to be at school at a given time, never mind that I had NO idea what time it was, whether I'd be late, or whether the kids were in my room while I was out being Jack Hanna for the bald eagle, I was ON. A. MISSION!

You see, it was my reasoning, that this bald eagle was injured.  I mean, if it wasn't then when I approached, it would have flown away, but the fact it hopped in the grass, to me meant it couldn't fly, and if it couldn't fly it was vulnerable to predators.  Now, that meant that I needed to capture it, and hold it safely until the ODNR could come and rescue it, take it to a rehab facility, and then release it into the wild when it was all healed up.  I came upon this diagnosis in just a few moments, and with all my veterinarian training (all those hours of watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom as kid) and decided the best course of action would be to throw the quilt over the bird, tackle it, dial ODNR, then hold the bird quietly until they arrived.  I would, of course, call work after that and let them know I might be late.

So, I approached the bird, and quietly spread out the quilt.   The bird was cooperating, and while he wasn't getting any smaller, as I got closer, he also wasn't moving, reiterating to me that he definitely needed my help!  I got within about three feet of the bird, and must say that I felt a little bit intimidated, because he was big, his beak alone looked about as big as my hand, and those feet kinda looked like they could make hamburger out of my arms.  But, this was a national bird, a sense of honor was at stake here...I had to persevere.

I took a deep breath, another step, and just at that time, with a very industrious flap, that bird lifted off the ground, his wing span was so large that the air it created was amazing, and I literally fell backward in surprised.  I jumped to my feet, shouted and cheered, and nearly wet my pants with happiness!  I'm not sure if I was happy that the bird flew, or happy that I didn't have to tackle him and wait for ODNR, but it was, at least, a combination of those emotions!

I stood in that meadow as he flapped up into the trees, swooped back down over the pond (and little ol' me) and then fluttered to roost in a nearby tree.  I gazed at him for some time, breathing rapidly,  and sighed a huge sigh!  This was my second bald eagle spotting, but certainly my closest encounter!  I was amazed at the grandeur and power of this bird, felt blessed to have had the opportunity to have come so close, and thankful the bird was smarter than me, and knew when it was time to go, to save me some serious injuries to my body and my pride.

From now on, when I see a bald eagle, I'm going to enjoy from a distance, I'm pretty sure they can take care of themselves, and my mom's quilts can stay in the trunk!

Getting Caught Up

There will, my dear readers, be several posts (well, in theory, and hopefully, and all that stuff, good know....) to catch up on what's been happening, and all the silliness that is my life.  I had big plans, but you know what they say about plans....

In June, shortly after my last post, Jazzman had a little health scare, well OK, it was a BIG health scare, and after a couple of months now, we are on the good side of that, but still have some climbing to do.  Just let me say that he's a really great patient, and is doing much better.  I am finding myself grateful for family and friends who have stepped in, helped out and provided much needed emotional support throughout this time.  When you find yourself faced with the possibility of losing the most important person in your life, you really learn to prioritize.  I thought I was good at that before, but let me tell you...I have become an expert now!

So, now that I have a chance to be thankful for the continuation of my dream romance, I can reflect on the things that have been happening throughout that time that make the Jazzman wonder at my goofiness, and keep him guessing and shaking his head.  There is a song, one of my favorites, by Guy Clark, about an 8 year old boy who climbs up on the garage with a flour sack cape on his neck, and jumps off the many ways, that's my theme song, if you listen, and you know me, you'll totally get why, if you listen and you don't know, me you'll certainly know me better.

And, that's why there will be multiple posts, coming all at once. Maybe more than one a day, perhaps even more than one an hour. Maybe they will run into each other and have multiple topics for each post, I just don't know.  I know I have a lot to say, and many stories to tell, so I've got to get them off my chest, and where better to do that than here, in cyber-space to my zillions of followers who hang on my every word (oh, yeah, that's right I think I have 7 followers, but hey, that's getting close to a zillion, right).

So, if you've a mind to, read on!  But, pace yourself, this might leave you breathless!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Whole Hole and the Havoc it Wreaked!

Remember that last post? The one where the tiller basically wrecked my leg, yet I continued on, unabated, to till the garden?  Yeah, there was that one...and now there's this one.  I've decided that it might just be the summer of injuries, and you, my lucky followers will be the ones who get to read about my undying efforts to beautify the world, and the havoc that has wreaked upon my body!  Oh...lucky on (if you dare).

A week after that garden experience, I was working in our yard, planting seeds, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, and basically prettying things up for the upcoming summer months. I was really trying to get a head start on the stuff that I usually do at a breakneck pace, when the school year is over.  This particular Sunday, I'd reached the near end of my work day, and was feeling quite happy with the ratio of effort expended to results achieved.

My last task of the day was to dig up a lovely little dogwood tree, that had sprouted in our fence line, and move it to a more convenient place. I successfully parted the tree from it's little piece of ground, and was carrying it in one hand, the shovel in the other, with a silly dog trailing me, across the yard.  I was happily imagining said dogwood growing larger, showing its beautiful blossoms, and arching over the yard from it's new location, when my foot wandered (all on its own) into a small hole.  The toes went in first, which had me standing en pointe (albeit briefly) in the hole, while my body continued forward.  At this point the tree went flying, the shovel went flying and I went head over foot over..well you guess it, and fell down!

I started to blubber senselessly in pain, and writhe around on the ground. I extracted my foot from the hole, and clutched it to my chest, while writhing more. The dog, ever the faithful EMT, began first aid, in the form of licking my face in any available spot, and panting, "what do you need, what do you need.." repeatedly in my face.  Eventually, I came to my senses, managed to wipe off the dog slobber, and stood up, using the shovel as a crutch.  I picked up the tree, and limped around the corner of the garage to get some help from Jazzman.

When Jazzman realized I was hurt, he came to my aide, encouraging me to sit down. By this time the shock of what had happened had worn off, the slobber had dried in my ears, and I was able to be more rational.  I was worried the tree might die if I didn't get it planted, so Jazzman dug a hole and put it in the ground. I was feeling more like myself by this time, and walked, with a slight limp, over to get some water, and we got the tree planted, staked, and watered.

At this point, Jazzman decided I should go to ER. Now it was Sunday evening, and the next day was a school day.  I had a broken ankle before, and I was pretty sure it was only slightly fractured, so I really didn't want to go to ER and spend my last evening of the weekend in the bright lights of the hospital, where they'd tell me I had a fracture, and ask me stay off it for a couple of weeks, give me an air cast, ask if I had crutches (anyone who is as klutzy as me DOES have crutches), and send me home after a three hour wait.  So, I propped it up, had a glass of wine, and called it good.

Monday morning came and the ankle was pretty sore.  I managed to limp through the school day, but decided ER would be a part of my after school agenda.  Now, if you read the above prediction, it will save me typing it all over because, yes, that's what that ER Doc said....(I should just put MD after my name right now, it seems I am able to diagnose my ailments quite well).

The next day at school I used crutches, which was the ONLY day I did (sore arms, sore arm pits, sore sides, insert additional whining here).  On day two through seven, I used the school's wheelchair to get around, which to my surprise wasn't that difficult.  Of course I could still get out of it and limp to the bathroom, and stand to write on the board (on one foot).  Since I am pretty tall, and usually taller than my students, it was a little bit bothersome to be "short" in the chair.  The kids all wanted to push me down the hall, but after the first time, when we went so fast the wheels started to shimmy, I put an end to that.

I have been a good patient, I have followed the Doctor's orders, and my ankle has healed nicely.  I am ultra cautious about holes, and I am careful when walking over uneven terrain.  I am determined to keep myself safe for the rest of the summer, so I've invested in a suit of chain mail, some bubble wrap, and a couple of extra bike helmets.  I am going to hire a private firm to walk in front of me, to make sure there are no hidden obstacles and I can safely get my way through summer. OR maybe I'll just continue as I always have, bruised, battered, scratched, and (sometimes) broken, and hope for the best!  And, if you're interested, you can read about my klutzy adventures right here, next time!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Oh, For the Love of Vegetables!

Gardening is truly a wonderful thing!  I love to think about what I'll plant, plan the garden, plant the seeds, pull the weeds, harvest the fruits of my labors, and can, freeze, and eat all that yummy stuff!  In the winter, when the skies are grey and the wind is howling, I spend days looking through gardening magazines, planning all the exotic plants I will put in my garden, tend with tenacious oversight, and harvest with glee, posting on my Facebook page and bragging to all my friends about how fantastic these lovely things taste. Then, when spring hits, reality sets in, and I plant beans, peas, carrots, beets, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, and those oh so exotic watermelon!  If I'm really feeling daring, I might put in some heirloom zucchini, or try an artichoke, but for the most part I stick to my plains roots and plant the old staples.

Last weekend, I was so excited to start that 40 year old tiller, and get the garden ready to plant.  I yanked on that rope about 200 times, until I was too tired to till, even if it did start, and realized that the darn thing just wasn't going to start this year.  I suppose I should be grateful that it's started all the other years, given I found it in a shed in a house I bought years ago, and have no idea how old it is. It has never had any service and has faithfully started once each year, to till my garden.  Now, it's going to the big old garden in the sky, and I had to either rent a tiller, or hire a person to till my garden.

After calls to a couple of "guys" in the paper, I realized that, unless I was fine with starting my garden in July, I was going to have to go the rent a tiller route.  I called the tiller rental place (well, they rent other stuff too, I just needed a tiller for now) and they reserved one for me.  The "8 horse power, rear tine tiller for the avid gardener."  This sounded like me, right?  I had a date with a tiller!  Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. for 2 hours, this tiller and I were going to take some names and till some dirt!

I got up, showered (Why shower and then do 2 hours of sweaty work?  Well, who can report to pick up a tiller, at a place where one has never been, dirty, with hair standing on end, in less than fashionable dress?  Not I!) and headed off to get my little tiller.  Upon arrival, I reported to the counter and signed over my life, then drove "around to the dock, with my tailgate down," and backed up to pick up the tiller.  To my shock, this thing they were pushing out to put in the truck was NOT little!  It was HUGE! I pretended as if to me, in my fashionable yoga pants and running shoes, this was just an every day thing.  When the rental guy said, "Have YOU ever run one of these before?" With a rather large voice of doubt, I quickly replied, "Well, I do have a front tine tiller at my house, but it died, which is why I need to rent this one, and I run the mower all the time."  I was pretty sure he hid a smile, but I felt exonerated!  He proceeded to show me how to operate this beastly piece of machinery, then loaded it on my truck.  We bungeed it in place, and he closed the tailgate, then said, "Have fun," with a little too much glee.

As I drove away, the two guys on the dock were slapping each other and laughing rather hard, but I'm sure it was about something entirely different than me, in my cute outfit with manicured nails, taking that tiller home to plow up my garden.

When I got home, Jazzman was still asleep. Now Jazzman hasn't been feeling well, and I was NOT about to wake him up and ask him to help. It's not that he wouldn't have done so, he would have gladly come out and done what he could, but with his health issues, I really do try to do as much of the heavy stuff as I can.  Jazzman is the BEST support any girl could ask for, and he never demands that I do anything.  There are times when I get myself in a little deeper than I should, and this might've been one of those times....especially since I didn't have a dock on which to unload this beast of a machine.

I had some ramps, which I put up on the truck, and then proceeded to use my (rather lack of) brawn to unload this thing.  As I muscled it down off the truck, it built up speed and moved rather quickly toward the Jazzman's car bumped. I was thankful (for about a second) that I was between it and the car, right up until it was stopped from hitting the car by crushing my shin/calf between it and the car bumper.  I didn't need to push it away because the force of the blow bounced it off my shin and took care of that all by itself!  I sat up against the hood of the car, just breathing and trying not to cry, or scream, or throw up! I definitely wasn't going to look at the shin, because I was pretty sure the bone was poking through! (O.K. I can tend to be over dramatic and think the worst, but it hurt, seriously hurt!)

After a couple of minutes, some deep breathing, and a little bit of swearing, I put some weight on it, and realized that I had a rather serious charlie horse too.  There was more swearing, some limping, more walking, some swearing, some limping, some swearing, a little bit of rubbing, and some (finally) pulling up of the pant leg and looking at the damage.  The wound wasn't that bad, a little bit of a scrape on the shin, a bruise on the calf, and a pretty big goose egg swelling, but all in all, with no bone exposed, I figured I'd live.  By this time, I realized I'd probably wasted about 15 minutes of tiller time, and it was time to get to work.

The tiller and I drove ourselves over to the garden and for the next two hours managed to turn what was a pretty big weed patch into a nicely ground up bit of dirt, ready for planting.  It was hard work, even with that nice big tiller, and I was sweaty, dirty, and certainly not cute, when I was done.  I had only rented it for two hours, and knew it had to be back, so I hosed it off, and loaded it in the truck. This time, I used the power to drive it up the ramp, rather than my (lack of ) brawn, and successfully got it in place without incident.  I returned it to the rental place with not a minute to spare!

When I walked in, the guy who rented the machine to me said, "Well, it looks like you had fun!"  I smiled and said, "You have NO idea!"  and left it at that.  I'm not sure what he thinks fun looks like, but if it's my before tilling and after tilling look, then I'm not going to play with him any time soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wow, it's been that long since I wrote?

I was thinking about writing this post, so I went to the blog to see how long it's been and was SHOCKED to see that I had not posted anything since last summer. Who wants to follow a blogger who never blogs? Probably no one, which is why my followership is very small. Oh, well, it makes me feel good to write, so I blog when I feel like it and, if it so happens that an editor at Harper Collins reads my blog and signs me to a book deal, well all the better!

So many things have happened since last summer, that it would hardly be worth it to try to capsulize it all here. I will say that we had a dog die in the fall (very sad day) and have a new rescue dog now, so you just might be hearing about our Jozsef. I wouldn't want to start talking about a new dog and have all of you readers scratching your heads wondering about that, so I thought I'd explain that up front. We still have Dora the chihuahua, and our three wonderful cats, we just felt we wanted another dog, and so, rescue organizations here we came!

Jazzman had a hard time adjusting to the new dog, mostly because Jozsef had a hard time adjusting to Jazzman. This dog wasn't well socialized as a puppy, so he came with a weird set of behaviors, one of which was to cower and hide whenever Jazzman moved. After several months, they have made up, but there are still moments when Jozsef's brain has some stray electrical impulses, and he decides to run and hide all over again.

I on the other hand LOVE this dog! And, he REALLY love me! Jazzman says he'd attach himself to my hip, if I'd let him. (the dog, NOT Jazzman) He's a puppy really, just about 1.5 years old, and he's a Vizsla/Golden Retriever mix. He's housebroken, needs no crate, and he has the BEST ears of any dog we've ever had! (And that's saying something, 'cause good ears are something I look for in dogs.) Jazzman accuses me of spoiling him, but if you ask Jozsef, he'll tell you that's just not true!

In the year since I last blogged, I've become a Mimi again, to a third granddaughter named Bubbles, she's cute, growing fast, and of course I don't get to see her enough. Tater Tot and Elfin had her in February. This summer, granddaughter number four will be born, and that will result in a visit to Felicity and her brood to see the new little one. I'm looking forward to those travels, and to seeing both of the kids again. Somehow, I never thought of myself in the grandmother role, but it seems to fit me pretty well. It is nice to play with them, have all good times with them, and then send them home to their parents. I'd only like it if they were all closer, so we could do it a little more often.

It seems the blues are back in the house! Yes, they have been busy all weekend making a nest in the bluebird box, and I am hopeful they will stay, produce many little blues, and entertain us again all summer.

So, summer is on its way, school is winding down for another year, and it seems that I'll be back in sixth grade next year. Our team won't be the same, as we have one person retiring, but it will be great to have a little consistency in my work. And of course, this summer I've got lots of plans for gardening, yard work, sewing and baking....just can't wait to have the time to do it all.

Faithful readers (you know who you are) please hang in there. I may just get inspired and write more often. I may actually find some funny things to post, and return to my ever insightful, and entertaining self. If that happens, and at the same time I get that Harper Collins advance, I'll treat you to dinner, I promise!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Day of Firsts!

Today was a day of firsts. It was the first time little Peanut went to a "real forest," and swam in a "real river," and hiked on a "real hike," and had to use the bathroom in the "real woods." Seriously! How much more exciting can a day get?

Peanut and her Mom, Felicity, are here for a "V-cation," and Peanut is all about going on daily "V-Ventures," so we planned a number of fun things that didn't cost much money, but would be something new for Peanut. Peanut's mom isn't much of an outdoorsy person (she says the her purest form of exercise is working the TV remote), but she was a serious trooper, and did her best to sweat her way through all the activities. She doesn't like to be hot, and she hates to sweat, so getting her to do all this, on the hottest days of summer should have been a challenge...but instead she "sucked it up," and enjoyed the ride.

Now today was the trip to the state forest. Felicity lives in the flatlands with Peanut, so they don't have forests there. Peanut was so excited to be in the woods, that she could hardly stand it. She wasn't too thrilled about using the class B bathrooms, which are not much more than seriously gross out houses, but she managed to get through it, probably better than her Nerdy Mimi.

After we got that done, we headed to the river, where we swam and floated and played. I got to dunk Peanut a lot, and she got wet..lots! It was fun, we laughed and laughed, and even Felicity managed to let herself fall into the water and forget about the fish pee....

Lunch was a great time, Peanut made a few interesting sandwich combinations..Turkey wrapped around a pickle and a chip, a piece of watermelon, then a pickle, then a chip on a sandwich, and of course the cheese wrapped chip. All while wearing her bathing suit and water wings!

After lunch we went back to the river, but it ended badly when this Nerdy Mimi was towing Peanut along, and she scraped her knee. It wouldn't have been bad if it hadn't had "some really big blood," (which is code for a small scrape that might have a little blood) so we had to get out.

Once we were semi dry and packed up we headed out for our hike. Just let me tell you that a mile hike over uneven terrain was not a big deal for me, but I'm pretty sure Felicity would have opted out, if I'd have let her. I know I heard her say, "I'm sucking it up and heading on," at least a dozen times! Peanut was a trooper, right up until the time she had to go potty...! Yeah, luckily the trail was relatively empty and we had woods all around us. She had never done this before, so required assistance in the form of Nerdy Mimi. There were the instructions, the "don't get it on your feet," and "no, don't get it on my feet either!" There were lots of giggles from all of us, but we managed to get the job done and move on down the trail. It was an unforgettable moment for me...I'll make Peanut remembers it as well.

We made the hike, ran through the falls, and then returned, tired and smelly and dirty, ready for ice cream. Yep, that's right....ready for ice cream! The day was waning, the time to go home had come and the three dirty hikers were happy! I'm pretty sure Felicity will be glad to go home and take up her place on the couch, but she better be ready because next year we're taking the two mile hike and Peanut is leading the trip!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jazzman has the Blues (birds that is)

Yes, for the first time in 8 summers, the bluebird house has a pair of blues in it, and they appear to be nesting! This is exciting stuff for the birdwatchers in our house (including the cats). About two weeks ago we noticed a pair of blues hangin' around the house, and soon it appeared they were nesting. Of course, as with every year, a raccoon disturbed the nest and we thought it was all over...

Jazzman was depressed, he loves the blues, and we feared we'd go another year without the joy of watching a family develop. But...not to be dissuaded, the blues came back, and started nesting again! Jazzman was on top of the world! Blues are back! Yippeee! (O.K. he would never say yippee, I just had to add that).

Then came the phone call, after school on my last day. "Nerdy Mimi, if the blues are nesting and we are to protect them from predators, I need you go pick up some things for me on your way home." Me, "Well, I'm at a country club having a glass of wine with my friends, if I leave at 6:00, will that be soon enough?" Jazzman, "You know, we have to fix this before dark, so there is no danger of the raccoon getting at the nest again, or I'm pretty sure we won't get another chance." Me, "O.K. I'm leaving now, I'll call you when I'm at the store to find out what you need."

And, off I went to purchase ducting, connectors, and sheet metal. Yeah, so we could wrap it around the post, spray it with lithium grease (won't dissolve in the rain or heat) and make sure no predator could get up that post.

Home with supplies, putting things together, getting the space aged looking post all ready for the blues to come home to roost. Jazzman was happy, I was happy, and the blues were happy! It's a win-win for sure.

Then, after a couple of weeks of relative ease, the raccoon decided to make an attempt at the blues' nest. In the morning, Jazzman noticed this, and sent me off to get more lithium grease spray. The raccoon left behind some telltale footprints, but luckily did not make it to the top. Jazzman got out the spray and liberally coated it again, and so far it seems to be working.

But really, that's just the beginning, because now that the blues are in, Jazzman is "on it." He has his binoculars at the ready, checks out the house repeatedly, worries about other birds being too close, and reads all sorts of things on the internet that we should do to make them more comfortable. Just yesterday he spotted a "predator" (a cat under the lilac bush) and I had to run out and chase him off, so the mamma blue would come back home. Seriously, this is intense business!

This intensity about things that are vulnerable, is one of the things I really love about Jazzman. He would never hurt a fly, if he could get it outside before he had to kill it because it was driving him crazy. He checks on those blues a million times a day, shares stories with me about his observations, and when he's at work, it's my job to do a couple of checks each day to let him know the status of the blues. If I don't then he worries that something happened to them.

Yesterday, we put out some meal worms (Gordon and blues have the same diet, go figure) and we didn't know if the birds were going to eat them. Jazzman suggested setting up a "worm cam" so we could watch and see what happened. And you know what, right away I got to thinking about how I could make that happen! Seriously, Jazzman and his blues have me entertained and enlightened..who could ask for anything more?