- The concert went well. The guest conductor was impressed with the band and its musicality. He is, however, hopelessly immured in academia, or simply mis-spoke, when during his comments to the audience he said something about there being nine community bands in Michigan. Nine in Oakland County, maybe. I can rattle off at least nine without looking anything up! All new music for the next gig, including (as usual) a piece that's missing the BariSax part. Hooray for MuseScore. ;/

- DB was unable to attend the concert, as they had a spring cleaning day for the scene shop -- after the four months of OneAct (including hosting a round) and the two months of Robotics, it was a bit disorganised in there.

- the weather has mostly settled out. Today is clear and will be warmish, tomorrow is supposed to be warmer. And then we start the April Showers portion of the year.

- the cranes have been getting noisier about "their" territory. I don't think they'll ever charge, but they sure do make a lot of noise, and one of them mantled at me the other day when I surprised it. The finches are getting their summer color.

- I did get into the garden last week. Only once, but that's better than I've been doing. The milkweed and daisy stems are now cut back and a lot of grass has been pulled. The giant crocuses in the side garden bloomed last week. The bunnies ate the small irises in the east bed, as they do.

A new bird!

May. 11th, 2016 01:38 pm
jennlk: (white daff)
SR wandered in to the den "what kind of bird are *you*?"

"Hrm. I don't know." To the BirdBook!

The birdbook (Tekiela's Birds of Michigan Field Guide) tells us that it was a pair of Eastern KingBirds. We are in their summer range, but I don't know if they will be living here or if they were just passing through. We may see them again.

In other bird news, the bright blue bluebird is back (if he ever left) and has at least one bright friend.
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a grackle, I think, although maybe it was a cowbird. Ji and I were in the den and we heard a smallish "thump thump" on the roof and then the deck. He perked up from his nap, and I turned around to see what had happened. There was a raptor, not more than 5 feet from the house, standing on the black bird he'd just nabbed. He stood and looked at us for a few minutes, and then flew off for the trees on the other side of the garage.

In other news, the crocuses in the side garden (mostly purple to white, with lots of stages in between) are serving as wonderful hosts for bees. SR and I stood on the side porch listening to the hum of bees for a while this morning.

Yesterday's frog count was 6. I didn't go out and count today, but SR and I saw one sunning itself on a rock in the early afternoon. I really should extract more algae from the pond, but it's currently acting as frog habitat, so I guess it can stay for a bit longer.

Sunday's FCB concert was a little more free-form than had been planned. We had a stage rehearsal scheduled for Friday evening, but the power line leading into the high school where we perform failed early Wednesday morning. It took a while to find the exact failure point and determine the best plan of attack (I was told that the baseball field has a "lovely" trench all the way across), and as of Friday the school wasn't sure if there'd be school on Monday, much less a concert on Sunday, and there most certainly wasn't going to be rehearsal Friday night. But repairs were finished Saturday afternoon so we got a quick stage rehearsal Sunday before the concert. I brought "my" stagehands along, and DB and J helped with the transition from small ensembles to full band, and they all helped with teardown.
This morning:

At the feeders, a pair of red-winged blackbirds and a pair of bluebirds. The bluebirds wintered over, we think, because we've seen them every few weeks, and it's entirely possible that the blackbirds wintered over as well, but now the red is visible. And the goldfinches are just starting to gain their summer color, which means that a few of them are more khaki than drab.

Flying over, a trio of sandhill cranes. On the one hand, when we have cranes frequenting the yard, we don't have deer. OTOH, the cranes are really loud, and are noisiest just before dawn. Right now, that's not such a problem, but when it's summer and dawn comes at 0530?

We cleaned leaves out of the edge of the pond/on top of the ice yesterday -- if we do it now, they don't fall to the bottom of the pond and get difficult to remove. And of course, we found a dead frog. Whee. At least it was intact, and floating, not wedged into the pump intake.
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Birdies, etc

Feb. 16th, 2016 08:54 pm
jennlk: (white daff)
We saw what we think is a Northern Harrier (hawk) on one of the big power line towers. Too big to be a Cooper's Hawk, wrong shape for a Red-tail hawk or turkey vulture, but definitely a raptor of some sort. The bird book says that we're well within the winter range (and at the south edge of the year-round range), so it's not too surprising, although this is the first time we've actually noticed one. There was a Northern Flicker tearing at the suet cake a couple of days ago -- she was digging into it really hard while hanging on the bottom of the cage and it was spinning a little. The female red-bellied woodpecker has decided that she really likes the 'bugs' on the platform feeder (sunflower seeds), coming up nearly every day to get a few -- the books say that Red-bellied woodpeckers don't usually eat seeds, but the ones in our yard seem to enjoy them.

The sax ensemble is not going to happen for the march concert - we decided that we weren't even going to audition it. We've had one rehearsal with everyone, and one with people on the right parts. They were not the same rehearsal. :/ We're still going to work on the piece, maybe do it over the summer or something like that, but it wasn't going to be ready for the audition....
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FCB Halloween concert was yesterday afternoon. It went pretty well -- no major trainwrecks -- but it's a relatively easy concert. It's short (about an hour) and mostly pops stuff (movies, popular songs, etc) -- the heavier stuff is in the December and April concerts. It's still a lot of notes, though, and the setup for this one is a little bit more involved, as we decorate the stage. My hand seems to be holding up pretty well, but I'm still doing the stretches and the taping.

In a twist, I didn't do much musicking at church -- the choir director is out of town, and her deputy had just come back from 10 days in China....

There will be high school football on Friday; so I expect that I will spend my Halloween at a football game. Current weather forecasts are saying it will be chilly but dry. I can live with that. There will be stadium coats, but I think they'll be able to avoid doing halftime in them. (DB just texted that, in a *stunning* turn of events, they will be playing Thriller!. oooh. the shock!. He will ask if they're doing the dance.) DB will be working crew for the Orchestra Halloween concert tonight, and tomorrow after school is set/scenery move-in for Footloose!.

The kids and I did some raking/garden clearing on Thursday (DB was not called for show rehearsal, so I put him to work at home) and got a lot of leaves moved out of the front yard. I also trimmed back the edges of the sidewalk and cut back the lilies in the front flowerbed. I remembered to move the short orange lilies from where they've been hiding to somewhere more visible (they were planted when SR was in 3d grade, to honor a classmate). Today I need to spend some time clearing the East garden, and plant the new early spring bulbs.

There is a redbellied woodpecker who has figured out that the tube feeder is a weird tree, but hey, it's got good stuff in it. Over the weekend, it brought another, so now we have two pairs of woodpeckers at the birdfeeders.
There was a complete football game on Friday. Both the football team and the band were sloppy. Next home game is Homecoming, which is a mess in a lot of other ways. OTOH, Marching Band Festival is *before* Homecoming this year, so they will not be doing a revised show the day before competing the full show.

September FCB is not a really good time for a slow reentry into playing -- there's a 90 minute concert on Sept 28, so we get a lot of music, much of it new, very quickly. My hand seems to be holding up OK. My left shoulder is letting me know that I need to move it around during rehearsals -- it's been cranky during rehearsals, but once I start moving after it's fine. I finally got three hours in the sewing room, and built a new bag for my instrument stand*. I should probably build a new music bag as well, but the one I have works pretty well -- I could wish for a different arrangement of pockets, and a leash for keys, but there are other things I need more. Like a Halloween costume.

We watched a juvenile hawk (he still had leg feathers, so juvenile which makes him hard to ID, but we think he's another Cooper's Hawk) dismember a dove Saturday evening. After he flew off, SR & DB went out to survey the debris field. DB found a stick to poke it with. J found this quite amusing -- maybe because they were acting 10 years younger than they actually are?

I will get into the garden today -- it's warm and dry enough, and there's no lack of things to do out there. And the cat is already there, so it's not like I can do any errands.

(* but wait! didn't I already build one? Well, yes, but I'd revised from the first one, and the revised one was suboptimal in a lot of ways. So I backed off some of the revisions and made another one. So I've made three -- the first one wore out after 7 years, the second one was better than nothing but not good, and now the third one is just right.)

(no subject)

May. 13th, 2014 08:44 am
jennlk: (reticulated iris)
Between the storms yesterday, I saw a hummingbird darting around the backyard. Erm. ooops. We didn't have the hummingbird feeder out yet. During the second storm, I remedied that -- dug the feeder out of the basement, mixed up some nectar, and put it out after the storm passed. Less than an hour later:

hummingbird closeup


This morning, I saw another female and a male at the feeder. SR said there was one in the front yard yesterday evening being noisy. I think I'm going to put out another feeder in the front yard -- maybe it will cut down on the skirmishes in the back yard.
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There are snowdrops blooming in the garden by the side door. They were not blooming yesterday noon-ish when we got home from church.

We went to a really good HS concert on Saturday night. Intended to show off the best of CHS music, it did. Band, orchestra, choir, small ensembles, a couple of soloists, etc. The grand finale was all the instrumentalists on stage and the vocalists up in the "juliet" balconies, doing an arrangement of tunes from Phantom of the Opera. Even the lighting crew got into the show, popping spotlights on and off to show whichever group was performing.

There was a female red-bellied woodpecker at the birdfeeder this morning, completely ignoring the suet feeder five feet away. I tried to get a picture, but it's hard to get a decent picture through the rosebush -- that birdfeeder is placed for optimum bird usage, not visibility from the house.

There is a black cat sprawled on his back in the sunbeam. He's very restful to look at. :)

There is open water in the pond, melted down to the bottom. Only in the shallow areas, and not under the snowdrift, but still....

And it's opening day of the 2014 baseball season. Go get 'em, Tigers!

Fireflies!

Jul. 5th, 2013 11:18 pm
jennlk: (firefly)
lots of them! The ones over the field are blinking quickly, and SR says it looks like glitter. It's very pretty. SR and I are fairly certain we saw a pair of Baltimore Orioles in the backyard a couple of days ago. Guess it's time to get an orange feeder for them.

In other news, 500 sq feet of hardwood floor is a lot. There's a stack in the living room and a smaller one in the den.

house natter )
I put out the heated birdbath. It seems that there is indeed a leak in the pond somewhere, so I unplugged the heater and the pump. But the birdies still need fresh water, and with the temperatures below freezing since Monday afternoon (and looking to stay there through Friday afternoon), I figured I'd best dig the birdbath out. The red winged blackbirds have arrived en masse -- there was a large flock (70-80) swarming around the feeders yesterday. There was also a bluebird.

The squirrels have figured out how to access the hanging tube feeder -- actually, there's a couple of ways. In one, the squirrel jumps onto it and wraps himself around it, using his back paws in the lower feeding ports as support while he digs birdseed out of the upper ports. In the other, the squirrel leans out to the feeder and pulls it toward the deck, using his front paws to get food out of the lower ports. The birds prefer the second method, as a lot of birdseed spills out of the feeder onto the ground....

(no subject)

Jan. 22nd, 2013 08:40 am
jennlk: (snowman)
Weather service says 0F in AA, the weatherunderground station in town says -11F, we've warmed up to a balmy -9F. The pond is mostly skinned over with ice, but there is water running down the rill.  Most of the rocks that don't actually have water running over them are snow-covered. There's ice on the slower running side of the rill, and the water is flowing under it.  There are a few birds poking at the running water.  Also?  Fluffed out blue jays are really quite big.

There is also a disturbing amount of cold air coming in around the french doors, mostly underneath.  Ick.  Not looking forward to replacing *that* weatherstripping -- I think I'll just use a doorsweep for the winter, and actually replace the weatherstripping later in the year when it's warm enough to take the door off.  (I should also put something along the center, but I'm thinking I'll just use a sweep there as well. Non-traditional application, but it should work.)

I went to Confusion last weekend.  It's a nice little con.  I actually went to programming!  (I also got minioned by fluffCthulhu, which is good.)  A new hotel which wasn't bad other than traffic flow at the elevators and really thin walls.  New guy running reg did it 'his way'.  *that* could have been much better.  I discovered that Better Made makes Salt and Black Pepper potato chips.  I am *not* going to look for them at my local store -- I'd probably eat the entire bag in a day. om nom nom.

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