Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Between the Lines

Here I was, once again, on my way rushing to the dock.  Why I am always rushing is any-one's guess but I know that some day I will be too arthritic to rush anywhere and I will have to settle for a joggle.  Anyway, I was hurrying to help blow out the lines...the hose line that is used at the boat.  Hubby was in the house with an air compressor at the correct (we hoped) plumbing juncture in the basement.  The incorrect junture might blow the expensive 'ornaments' on the inside sinks.  My job was to turn on the hose water at the dock, watch it drain into the river and then let him know when it was empty so that he could turn off the water line from the house. 

As I carried cell phone in hand I skipped ever so dangerously over the slippery leaves that had since covered the path on the hill down to the dock trail (for the 4th time I might add--the leaves covering not me skipping),   As I maintained a tighter grip on the phone I saw with surprise that I was just getting ready to put my foot down on the back of our resident black snake!  There he lay in the path slightly covered by brown leaves and not moving his curving black line.  He was in slow mo due to the colder weather.  My frantic approach did not encourage him to move away and yet I knew he was alive.  I hesitated stepping over and, instead, scuffled some leaves toward him hoping it might encourage him to go on his way.  No such luck.  I finally got the courage to move around the back of him while straddling the tree roots on the side of the path.  I did this pretty rapidly, because, while I am an outdoor gal, I am always leery of snakes, even safe ones like our black resident.

He was still in the same place 15 minutes later when I returned after successfully emptying the hose line but his curving black line was more squiggly which is something they do when nervous.   This time he had formed a U as if wondering if he should return to whence he came, since this path which had not been used much recently due to colder weather seemed to be enduring some crazy rush hour human traffic.  I, once again, only on the other side of the trail away from his head, stepped on some fallen logs and made my way carefully around giving him plenty of room.

That afternoon I finished vacuuming and dusting the upstairs bedrooms to be ready for Thanksgiving company.  Then, as a reward, I went up to my upstairs nook to blog and read some blogs.  I was alone in the house because hubby was greasing the boat lift; boats are an endless source of fun and expensive time consuming maintenance.  The house was quiet except for the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard.  Behind me I heard a light tapping/slicing noise.  I stopped typing and 'opened' my ears and turned my head from side to side.  No noise.  I continued typing and the tut tut noise started again.  It was coming from behind my head.  I turned and the photo below is what I saw.

It was the line of my vacuum proceeding in snakelike fashion to move on down the stairway where the weighted head of the cleaner was pulling it with gravity.  The tapping was the ridges of the hose catching and then releasing against the corner of the file cabinet as it uncurled.  This silver snake like movement was just a little unnerving after my morning experience.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stingers and Zingers

These are the sea nettles of hot summer that like soft and gentle bubbles come floating in on the tides to all parts of the river from the Chesapeake Bay. They look so innocuous and carefree, but a brush against the little white tentacles will induce a fiery sting to tender skin. They come in tiny and large sizes; the one above being about 3 inches and they can reproduce when only 2.5 inches wide. They can grow as big as your open hand. They pump just below the surface of the water in search of food. This one was trapped in a tidal pond that was only a few inches deep. If the water is compromised (not healthy) the jelly fish are greater in numbers for some reason. The population is determined by both temperature and salinity but some scientists say the increase may be due to more nutrients being dumped from towns and cities running into the Bay to create more floating creatures to sting and eat. This year we do not have a huge population. If people are very concerned about these they can check the population movements for our area here.

My grandson was lying belly flat on the dock to look at some fish and crabs the other day and came away with a burn from some sea nettle slime that had landed on the deck falling from the crab traps placed there. He is a drama king but the sting must not have been all that bad, because after a wash with ammonia and a spray of Benadril he was A-OK and on to a new adventure.

I have been stung by jelly fish (NOT the Portuguese-Man-Of-War) in the South Pacific and while it really burned, the pain did not last long. Like many of the stinging/biting creatures of the world, the reputation sometimes exceeds the actuality.

P.S. Yes, this belongs on my 'other' blog but I have several posts waiting there already.
P.P.S. Logged into my email at 4:30 AM this morning when I found I could not pretend I was sleeping any longer and found a note from my step-nephew who is arriving for a weekend visit today with his girlfriend. The note said "I think I forgot to mention that A**** is a pescatarian." NOW he tells me?!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reptile Weekend

My grandson came to visit last weekend (Father's Day) and it seemed that all of the reptiles in our yard wanted to make his visit complete by putting on a show of support. The two frogs in the photos immediately above landed on the patio door windows as night descended, two different species within a foot of each other. Their suction-cup appendages clung to the glass and they peered into our room watching us watch "Kung Fu Panda" on the big screen TV. Maybe we should have invited them inside.

The two box turtles each made an appearance on opposite sides of the house during the daytime. One acted very much like a turtle and was totally terrified of Xman, probably with good reason. He kept his head hidden and he ventured only tentatively after we had moved inside to our lunch. The other turtle (top photo) was also terrified, but this resulted in a rather speedy run across the grass into the safety of the woods...fastest turtle in the East. He was the most stunning in color as well. (Don't let that angelic photo of my grandson deceive you. He is very much a Huckleberry Finn when it comes to manipulating those who love him.)

Xman was recklessly brave as only a four-year-old can be around them and even more brave to let this lightning bug crawl up his arm. We captured two lightning bugs and put them in the insect hotel, but they seemed to not appreciate the confined safety of a plastic room and did not let their lights shine during the evening as he drifted off to sleep.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Who moved the ladder?

(Click on photo for larger view)

If you read my other blog, as I am sure many people cannot resist doing in their free time, you will notice I lately have become a bit of a bird fanatic watching the changing bird species as they visit the feeders just ahead of each weather change. They also seem to be starting their spring color changes. I (they) have been going through a substantial amount of sunflower seed and although there are about 20 birds coming and going at any one time, I was still amazed at how much was being eaten each day.

Then, while looking out the window one cold morning, I saw one of our neighborhood squirrels on the feeder. He was wrapped around the green metal container with his fuzzy face completely buried inside one of the seed openings. The greedy rodent was there for a long time sucking down seeds until I finally threw a grapefruit rind in his general direction from the deck. (Yeah, don't ask.) Anyway, this particular feeder has been with us for more than a decade and proven pretty much squirrel proof, so I was curious about how this little piggy was making it up there.

Waiting patiently I saw him return to the area. He scampered over the sunflower seed shells scattered in the snow and jumped to a nearby very small oak tree (5 feet in height) between our two feeders. He would scramble part way up the tree and then fly expertly as if he was a weightless kite to the side of the feeder where his clawed grip (what a yoga move!) allowed him to stick like tar to the feeder and begin his gluttony once again.

I will be honest by saying that I feel everything has its place in nature but I do consider squirrels to be rats with fuzzy tails and am less empathetic to their pursuit of happiness in nature's grand scheme.

The very next day we went out and cut down that little oak tree and that left the squirrels to forage for the seeds that fall to the ground. A short time later I was watching through the dining nook window and saw one of the squirrels scurrying back and forth over the seeds on the ground. He then scampered to the left to the exact place where the tiny oak tree had once reached for the sun and looked up to the sky clearly looking for the missing tree trunk. He returned back beneath the feeder and then back again to where the tree had once been maybe more carefully measuring his pace this second time. He stood on his back legs and looked up for that familiar tree trunk. It was most interesting and funny to watch. I could just imagine him counting one hop, two hops, three hops in his head and then wondering as he stared into space how he could miss an entire tree. Hubby says that they memorize the forest and thus are able to fly from place to place so quickly.

Later I saw him on top of a distant tree stump eating what looked like the berries of the greenbriar vine. Certainly getting better antioxidants than he would with sunflower seeds and maybe reducing the spread of this thorny weed. This expert yoga master was captured in the photo above sitting on a dead tree stump and possibly surveying the feeders below and perhaps planning his next strategic move.

The game is on!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing--Again

(Photo above I took from the deck yesterday evening as the sun was setting across the river and my weary body was screaming for rest. Click on photo to see the details of the last of our fall beauty.)

I have taken dozens and dozens of pictures in the yard this fall as the season peaks. The variety of tree species complimented by the diverse fall colors have been most obvious this fall, and the peak beauty has been more exciting than I have noticed in the past.

Since all good things must come to an end, the prior night's wet winds brought millions of leaves to carpet everywhere. The weather yesterday was in the 70's and we knew we had to get the leaves off of the the driveway and the lawn before the coming front that would bring more leaves and more rain. We had to use our non-environmental leaf blower because the new lawn was still too wet and soft to walk on and rake and the gravel driveway does not lend itself to raking.

I created large snake-like drifts of leaves in places down the long winding driveway and these we captured and put into a metal garbage can. They were broken down with the weed eater into a wonderful rich nutrition that was added to the newly created raised garden beds that now await the birth of spring. Hubby is so excited about this humus rich black gold that we have created that he cannot walk down the driveway without stopping to enjoy the results of his many days of labor.

Since the ticks are dormant we can wade into the 'jungle' and clear the non-indigenous wild rose that strangles everything in its way climbing high into 30 foot trees. Even though I covered my body in loose clothing and wore jeans, the tiny tenacious thorns at the ends of the branches would fly over my head and bite me in the butt, pull off my cap, and tangle my hair as I pulled them away into the open areas. I also fought with the green briar (such a lovely name for such a nasty plant). I now look as though I had fought with a wild cat---so glad I do not care about that stuff.

The day before, we had created a large and very warm brush fire with all the downed limbs and weeds we had cleared. Yesterday flew by too fast for us to start on that project once again, but now the holly, dogwood, linden trees and other plants are free to breathe once again and we have space to put in our plastic net deer fence around the perimeter. The deer have mowed the mums and trimmed my pyracantha hedge and the low growth of the new hybrid dogwood. While I spray deer repellent it has become a careful dance between them and us as their fall food cache diminishes.

I awoke this morning to another carpet of leaves almost as dense as the one we cleared yesterday! Some times I think mother nature is too rich for me.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Walk the Walk

Sunday, an absolutely perfect fall day, was our reward for going to watch our son's band play for the Humane Society Walk for the Animals. This first photo was before most of the crowd showed with their dogs. His band played off and on for FIVE HOURS---10:00 to 3:00. He was fighting a head cold and had to be there at 6:30 that morning for early set up as they were closing Constitution Ave. in the A.M. It was a good cause, but I am glad he still has his day job.

The location, Constitution Gardens, was perfect for both dogs and their owners.

And my little Xman had a good time listening and dancing to his Uncle's beat. We all were afraid he would fall into that "E. coli" lake, but he kept his coordination together.

They were supposed to have a tent with potential animals to adopt and I was worried my husband would lock eyes with a mutt and fall in love from across the room (tent). But this was put on hold for another day, because we were so busy visiting, listening to the music, and watching the toddlers that we didn't make it back up the hill. We ARE going to get a dog, probably sometime this year, but we have escaped mutt love for the time.