Wednesday, May 4, 2011

King(let) of the forest

Conversation a few days ago between hubby and our four-year-old grandson, Augie:

Click photo to read about this bird on BirdForum
Peter: Come look at the tiny bird on the suet feeder. It's a little like a finch, but it has a red streak on its head.

Augie: It's a ruby-crowned kinglet.

Peter: No, I think a kinglet is some kind of water bird.

Augie (emphatically): No, a ruby-crowned kinglet is a coniferous forest bird.

Peter (skeptically): Get your bird book; let's see what it says.

Augie: See, right here, it's a ruby-crowned kinglet.

And that's exactly what it was.

So now we've met a whole new variety of bird, a tad bigger than a hummingbird and less efficient at hovering. It is passing through on its migration northward. Males do have a reddish patch, but much of the time it is flat to their heads and cannot be seen.

I've been trying to get a shot of this active little guy, but so far he hasn't stayed around long enough. Photographing a ruby-crowned kinglet is now on my bucket list (I have simple wants). Meanwhile, I borrowed a photo from BirdForum.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mayday, Mayday!

Last year on May 1, we had apple blossoms. This year, the branches barely have little bumps where buds should be. So here's last year's May Day photo, for good luck. The past week has often felt more like the other meaning of mayday...a cry for help! Nothing horrendous, but a lot of annoying little things plus a really nasty and drawn-out illness for Peter.

Let's start with the weather: chilly, cloudy, rainy, even some snow. On the other hand (this will be a theme), we did have sun for parts of Sunday, Monday, and Friday, and on those days it was nice enough to be outside with the kids. Also on the other hand, it's hard to complain about our weather after what happened across the South this past week.

Here's another example of my week. I decided to make a nice Easter dinner for the two of us. Had ham in one oven and pear-and-walnut ginger upside-down cake in the other. The house smelled heavenly. Then the cake overflowed onto the oven floor, the ham glaze dripped into the roasting pan, and both began to burn. A week later we still can't get all the incinerated glaze off the roasting pan. When we turned the cake onto a plate it wasn't done, and it oozed out just like Peter's long-ago dessert fiasco known fondly as mocha slop. Meanwhile, I also undercooked the green beans, so they were a little tough. Peter said, "Wow, things really aren't going well for you, are they?" On the other hand, things tasted good, we enjoyed our dinner, and I made notes for next time.

The enjoyment was short-term. Peter was sick all night. (Something he ate?) I was awake, sympathetic but helpless to ease his discomfort. At 6 a.m. Monday, I took a headache pill and fell asleep. At 6:45 the phone rang and Abby said cheerfully, "We're on our way." Not usually a morning person, I jumped into action and took care of the children until she picked them up eight hours later. We were all a little worried about whether I could handle them alone all day. On the other hand, it went fine; we played outside and the kids let Pa rest. Abby made other arrangements for the next three days, which was good because it took Peter at least that long to start feeling human again. He's still not fully recovered. But again on the other hand, he seems to be on the mend and nobody else has gotten sick.

On Wednesday, I got dressed up for the first time in four months and went to a faculty-staff luncheon on campus. It took everything I had to climb into those clothes. On the other hand, I was glad I went. I enjoyed seeing former colleagues again, and the program included very nice testimonials to retiring faculty and staff, including me. In fact, the college president departed from his script to say, "Nancy is the person I have trusted most to write for me." He has said it before, but this was in front of 500 faculty and staff members. Heck, I even got to take home a centerpiece.

When I got home, I ripped the name tag off my suede jacket...and realized that about a fourth of the backing still clung to the suede. Grrr. I spent hours working at it with an art gum eraser (the tool of choice in Internet discussion boards). While no more paper adheres, there is a clear pattern of discoloration from the glue. Guess I have to find a dry cleaner that specializes in suede. On the other hand, these days I mostly wear denim and fleece and chase around with toddlers, so most clothing maintenance is much easier.  

I've written about watching eagle cams. Midweek, I learned that the mother eagle at Norfolk, Virginia, died when she collided with a landing airplane. I was sad when experts concluded that the father probably could not feed three youngsters and protect them from intruders, so they removed the eaglets from the nest and took them to a rehab facility. On the other hand, the Hornby Island nest, which is nearest to my heart, has a strong and spirited hatchling (named Alexandra to honor a British Columbia naturalist) and a second on the way as I write this. (In this photo she's hours old, all eyes and fluff.)

So it wasn't a horrible week, just a trying one. On the other hand, I got to watch a royal wedding that I enjoyed quite a lot. Charles and Diana's wedding seemed romantic at the time, but she was a deer in the headlights and his heart wasn't in it. Kate and William seem well matched, both are mature enough to know what they are doing, and both seem to have good taste and a penchant for being real, down-to-earth folks. They put on a wedding that was regal but simple, suiting the times. I loved the ladies' hats (including those on folks watching in Hyde Park and at Minneapolis' Brits Pub), felt sorry for Fergie's girls (who seem to prove that being a princess does not guarantee looks, taste, or happiness) and actually Googled the woman in blue who made everybody's best- or worst-dressed lists. Turns out she's a British version of Paris Hilton, famous for being famous.

I'd really like the coming week to have fewer nasty surprises and more blissful moments. We're off to a rocky start with cold, gusty weather and Internet disruption. On the other hand, we were saying just yesterday that we are very happy with the life we've built for ourselves. So now that I'm back online, Happy May Day.


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