The cranes are still hanging around in the backyard, although there's now an adolescent and an adult, rather than the pair of adults we had earlier -- one is considerably smaller than the other. One of them got spooked this morning while I was in the kitchen and crashed through the birch tree on its way up.

There was a flock of turkeys in the yard this morning when I went out to pick tomatoes -- two or three adults, three larger-but-not-full-grown chicks, and a mass of poults (scrambling too fast for the field to be counted, but at least ten).

The frog count has settled out at "lots". :) DB and I got to 15 on Sunday evening before one spooked and 'bloop'ed which led to a bunch more doing the same.

The funeral meal went well, other than underestimating the number of people by 25% or so. We'd guessed at 70, and fed 90+ (there were 150 in the church for the service, but many had not planned on staying for the meal after -- good thing, because we don't have that many tables and chairs, even if we set up outside). We nearly ran out of meat and cheese, did run out of the fruit tray, had to send out for more tomatoes, but nobody went away hungry. I grabbed the wrong pair of shoes and wound up with a blister on my heel. I guess I'm wearing sandals for the rest of the week.
The FCB is having a big concert on June 26, the culmination of the seasonlong celebration of the band's 50th anniversay -- in Orchestra Hall, home of the DSO and a really, really nice performance space. We have big name guest conductors coming in (H Rob Reynolds and Ronnie Wooten). Monday we had H.Rob come in to work on the pieces we're doing with him, and Saturday is a 6 hour workshop where we'll work on bits and pieces of the other things, as well as discuss logistics and get our badges & parking passes. There's a concerto with a bass trombonist on the program as well, but I'm still not sure which movements from it we're going to do.

Tonight, we get a different band-packing experience, as we're playing at Nardin Park UMC's Summer Music Series. A short gig (only an hour or just over), but we have to schlep everything over there and back again. In concert dress, not summer uniform. I'll be packing trousers to change into, because load-in/load-out is hard enough without doing it in a full-length skirt.

In other news, I've gotten a few strawberries -- not many, because it's been so dry. The peonies are just about done, the irises are done, so all that's currently blooming in that garden is blanket flower, larkspur, and the poppies. Lots of stuff budding, though. The rosebush next to the house is pretty well covered in deep pink roses.

SR says that she's seen a pair of orioles at the birdbath, and the kingbird is still hanging around.
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The birdseed in the feeders lasts a lot longer if I bring the feeders in at night when there's snow on the ground. The deer leave the feeders alone as long as there's no snow, but as soon as there's snow on the ground, they go after the easy stuff.

The birds haven't been eating much, largely because it's been windy and precipitating, and I think the hawk has been hanging around -- I've seen him quite often in the last week and a half, and SR saw him hunkered down under one of the evergreens today.
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There has been a pair of bluebirds wintering over in the yard. He is very blue. And he's really territorial -- yesterday he was hopping at the "other bluebird" in the house and on SR's car. Today, it's overcast, so the "other bluebird" isn't around.

Yesterday I saw three grey squirrels. They're smaller than the big brown ones. Today, I saw a couple of small reddish squirrels. I don't know whether they're young brown squirrels, a different coloring of the grey ones, or a separate species. One of them is currently mocking Ji, sitting on the deck rail with his back to the house. after making eye contact.

There was a black bird at the seed bell this morning -- too small to be a crow, but I didn't see the red flashes of a redwinged blackbird, although that may have been the light.

I have smelled annoyed skunk three times in the last couple of days, but it doesn't seem as though any of them are deceased.

There is still too much snow (and wet) to walk the gardens and see what's survived/died/sprouted. At the rate of melt, though, I suspect I'll be able to do a preliminary assessment this weekend.
Tags:

Snow.

Feb. 1st, 2015 11:13 pm
jennlk: (snow bird)
Hey, it's snowing outside!
-Um, dude, it's February and Michigan, what do you expect?
Well, we're at 12" and counting.
-Erm, that's a bit much, don't you think?

Actual snow depth is hard to gauge, as it's the really fine stuff that drifts at the slightest breeze, and we've been getting some pretty stiff winds. I cleared a couple of inches off the side porch when I went out to feed the birds at 830am, cleared another couple of inches off when we got home from church, and cleared ~4inches off at 3pm. J and the kids went out to shovel just before dark (there were some 14" drifts!), and 3 hours later the driveway is pretty much drifted full. DB has no school tomorrow, and Farmington has cancelled as well, so I don't have anywhere I need to be tomorrow. SR tells me that there's a Nixie alert -- Snow Condition Yellow (traffic is moving at reduced speeds with major highways being maintained in fair condition, but local roads may become impassable) -- for the county (one of her friends gets them). I would not be surprised if there was no school on Tuesday either, as the local roads won't get plowed until tomorrow afternoon, and I suspect that they may fill right back up again.

Church today was an exercise in flexibility. Pianist out due to oral surgery a week ago plus snow, lead soprano out due to travel and snow, liturgist dealing with a family emergency in K'zoo. So we did an abbreviated service, which meant just as much singing but all at one time, at both ends of my range (the minister is a trained lyric soprano, and so has a range about an octave bigger than mine); then J and I did Let us Break Bread Together for communion. Then we all went home.

In bird news, SR and J saw a bluebird and his girl in the backyard yesterday. I was under the impression that they did not winter over, but this one didn't get the memo. Today SR and I counted 6 male cardinals and at least as many females -- the males really stand out while it's snowing. I am not looking forward to blazing a trail out to the birdfeeders in the morning.
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Theater!

Jan. 25th, 2015 08:51 am
jennlk: (Masks)
Thursday night was the public preview performance of The Firecracker Incident. It went pretty well, I thought.

Yesterday was the District competition. Apparently, it went *really* well -- they came in first. The entire cast got Superior Acting awards and the entire crew got Superior Presentation, as well as awards for Props and Lighting. (It does rather sound like the judges hand out Superior awards like candy, but they really don't.) Apparently, working with a professional director (on loan from The Purple Rose) makes a big difference.

I drove and ran the feeding tables, so I was gone all day. And then I get home and there's a note from the choir director "am sick; no choir practice (do the piece we rehearsed last week); Jenn, can you play offertory?" I'm thinking that we may skip the Anthem altogether, as the "choir" may be only three people, and I'm not really a soloist. We shall see.

The birds did not get fed yesterday, so I need to do that now. the squirrels have figured out how to pull the seed bell down off the hook and pry at the seeds. They can't get the cage open, but they do manage to dig at the seed cake inside. I really don't know what to do about that. Maybe a pole with a squirrel baffle?
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The tree is up, and finally decorated. It's been up since Thanksgiving weekend, but we've been so busy that we didn't get any ornaments on it until last Sunday it's a family thing). We had to replace the top strand of lights, so I got some warm white LED strands from Meijer. They look very much like the lights the tree came with -- you can really only tell if you stand right next to the tree and look closely.

Holiday performances are over, other than church stuff. DB is working with the kids on the Pageant and providing some narration; J will be working sound for it. My only obligation that day is to be at both services and sing with the choir in the 'everybody' sing portion. Christmas Eve is barisax in the praise band, flute on Silent Night, soprano in the choir and (maybe) song leader on the hymns the praise band isn't playing. DB will be singing a duet with RS, and joining the choir for our piece.

We had kidpix taken last weekend. DB was being very silly, and it was hard to find even a couple of pictures where they both had decent expressions on their faces. Sigh. Those pics won't be back until the weekend after Christmas, so I have a bit of time before I need to start the Christmas letter. :)

The squirrels figured out how to get into the seed bell, so I've had to rearrange feeders a bit, but the woodpeckers don't seem to mind much. I've seen all four of them at the new bell today, as well as nuthatches and tufted titmice.
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There was a FCB concert Sunday afternoon and rehearsal (new music!) on Monday, which meant that I really couldn't do any work in the garden either day. So of course the weather was gorgeous Sat/Sun/Mon, and it's rainy and 15 deg cooler today. It is supposed to be drier tomorrow, so I guess the garden will wait until then. Which is probably a good idea anyway, as my hand is still a bit sore. And the cat won't want to go outside today, so I might be able to get some work done in the workroom (assuming the other cat doesn't decide to "help").

The forsythia is being temporally challenged -- it's flowering(!), and the leaves are turning purple. It's a lovely color combination, especially with the green, but it is a little odd. There are a few flowers on the rose bush too. The blackberry lilies are in their seedpod stage, so I need to cut them down pretty soon -- they spread fast enough by roots, I don't need them seeding! Last week I moved some plants around -- I had put a new columbine in the front flowerbed this spring, and by the end of the summer it was bigger and healthier than the one that's been in the side garden for years. So I swapped the old columbine with a daisy in the front bed. I figured it couldn't hurt.

I think the hummingbirds are gone (haven't seen any in about a week), so I should probably take the feeders down.

Yesterday's frog count was 8 with a blur apparently originating from a frog-sized wet spot on a rock.
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(no subject)

May. 21st, 2014 07:15 am
jennlk: (reticulated iris)
Yesterday's bird sighting was a Baltimore Oriole in the lilac in the front yard (and of course the camera is in the den in the back of the house, so no picture). He appears every year, but never sticks around, probably because we don't have much for him to eat other than seeds -- the hummingbird feeders are usually busy with hummers, although they do have perches. I put some apples out, but I don't know if they'll attract anything but ants.

I think there's a leak in the pond -- we've been getting rain often enough that I haven't had to fill it very often. The little tete-a-tete daffodils are blooming in the E garden, and there are flowers on the strawberries. The flowers on the crabapple are beginning to pop, and the forsythia pretty much skipped flowering this season, and is mostly leafed out. There are lots of buds on the peonies, and I have hopes of a good showing this year. (I've had hopes every year, but we've had poorly timed rains and/or heat waves....)

mutter.

May. 15th, 2014 05:46 pm
jennlk: (stompety)
I did some fairly intensive weeding yesterday, and today the muscles in my right hand hurt. Fooey. I had hoped that the strained muscle would be better enough that I could weed. :( So I guess I'll have to scale back the weeding efforts. Again. If I scale them back too much farther, I won't be doing any! I suspect the kids will be getting a lot more "can you weed?" requests this summer.

I put a hummingbird feeder in the front flowerbed, in amongst the bleeding hearts. Three hours later, I saw a hummingbird at the feeder. I guess they found it.
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it's 65F, so I've opened some of the windows. Still no froggies, though they're quite vociferous down by the freeway. Some of the giant crocus in the side flowerbed bloomed yesterday, as did a couple of clumps of reticulated iris in the East bed. J put the pump into the pond last weekend, and the birds are quite appreciative. The finches are still mostly in their winter colors, although the house finches are beginning to show a bit more color.

Last Friday, DB and I and a friend of his from school went to EMU to see their staging of To Kill a Mockingbird. I was somewhat underimpressed, and I think it's because the guy playing Atticus Finch was playing Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch.... He wants to go back and see it with a different friend. I think I'll just drop him at the door and go do errands. I don't really need to see it again.

(no subject)

Mar. 12th, 2014 10:24 am
jennlk: (red winged blackbird)
The red-winged blackbirds are back, hunkering down in the lower branches of the trees or on stems in the sheltered gardens. I should go out to feed the birds, but it's gonna be worse than yesterday -- there's 4-6 inches of fresh snow (with rain under it) on top of the paths. {ETA -- I was wrong. There's 8 inches of fresh snow (I even measured it!) and it's still falling.}

DB doesn't have school today, which I rather expected. The snow is still falling, and the plows haven't been down our street yet. I heard them going by on the bigger road, but that was a while ago.
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(also, as DB points out: snow is cold, water is wet, new socks on hardwood floors are slippy.)

I wonder how much flak the school is going to take for having a normal school day today? Last week, they were taking some for cancelling at 0530 ('too late!' people said). Never mind that at 5am the snow seemed to have been just about done at 2-2.5" of new stuff, with a slowing snowfall rate. About 0630 it started snowing harder and a wind came up, but by that time most of the buses were already on the road. Currently (1045), there's at least 5" of new snow (still falling) and it's drifting.

The trail out to the birdfeeders is completely buried again, and I stepped completely off it and went in to my knees a couple of times this morning. The snowpack in the backyard ranges from 18"-30" deep, depending on the drift -- the snow is level with the birdbath (on a 30" pedestal), and the tops of the hanging feeders are at mid-chest, which makes them really easy to fill. (The hooks they're hanging from are on a 6' upright....) I had to actually shovel the side porch -- the snow piles around it are too deep to just shove it off.
I took DB in to school this morning as he had to chat with a teacher about the work he'd missed when he was out sick, so I ran some errands while I was out. As I was on my way back home, I noticed that there was frost on some of the trees, and it was getting thicker as I got toward home (I guess it's colder out in the "country" than it is in town). (It was 0F when I took this picture, according to the backyard thermometer.)

(that's the rosebush by the deck, which becomes a sparrow bush in the winter.) [ETA: Hm. I see that I forgot to fill the thistle feeder while I was feeding birds this morning. Will remedy that soon-ish.]

frosty morning )
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I was thwarted in my plans for the workroom yesterday. Anna-kitteh decided that what I really needed to do was pay attention to her. She will not be ignored, and shoves her head under my hand. So I paid attention to her. I did eventually get some sorting done, put fabric away and pulled other fabrics out. I have need of a new twill jacket, and a Halloween costume for the FCB concert.

Trimmed back the spent larkspur, and discovered a third flush. There's another wave of poppies, too. I trimmed back some of the sea holly, but got tired of being poked -- I may go out there this morning with long sleeves and gloves. I realised that the NE garden isn't really 'full-sun' -- it gets quite a bit of shade in the early-mid afternoon, which may explain why the volunteer milkweed is a little bit wobbly. I need to cut back the blackberry lilies before the seeds drop. There are quite enough of them in that garden already.... One of the stonecrops I planted last year is getting ready to bloom, while the other seems content with just growing, and may bloom next year.

DB had his first before-school rehearsal yesterday. And I think we need to adjust the schedule on those days a bit so we can leave a bit earlier than we did. Or maybe we just need to do it a few more times.

I have decided that I really need to get myself a camera. Doesn't need to have bells-n-whistles, just a decent camera that I can use indoors and out (birds, cats, projects). The last camera I used on a regular basis was a Pentax K-1000 :), so I'm a little out of the loop on cameras. Any suggestions?

That's the third bird into the sliding door this morning. Guess I'll be stopping by the bird store this weekend. Meanwhile, I'll roll the awning out a little to keep the reflection down --I like the light, but I don't like stunned birds.

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