Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snow time like the present

To give you an idea of how much snow we had recently:

The snowfall is already a little compressed, so I am going cross country skiing in the morning, before it starts to melt.

The electrician is coming on Monday to see what is wrong with the outdoor outlet. In his honor, and to avoid liability, I cleared a path to the service panel in the garage.

Today I saw a nuthatch at the feeders, and two fat squirrels cleaned out the striped sunflower seed. Also, my indoor chives are blooming.

Monday, January 26, 2009

THAT didn't work

I peeked out at the new heated birdbath this morning, and in the dawn's early light, the water looked, well, frozen solid. Before leaving for work, I trudged out there to make sure. Yep. One big ice cube.

Firstly, I checked the circuit breakers, but none looked tripped. Then I carried a desk lamp out and plugged it into my brand new outdoor outlet. No juice. I checked a second outdoor outlet. Juice. Apparently, somewhere along the way, the outlet on the north side of my new room did not get wired into the grid.

Hopefully, it will be an easy fix. Thank goodness for warranties.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's not a competition

My honorary title as the Crazy Pet Lady may be giving way to the Crazy Bird Lady. I have seven bird feeders: oil sunflower seed, striped sunflower seed, peanuts, niger thistle, cracked corn, safflower seed, and suet. My neighbors have only two. Ha!

But look what I have now!

My hope is that this heated birdbath will attract non-seed-eating birds. So far, I have seen a grand total of one sparrow actually drink from this thing, but today is only the first day. If the birdbath does not attract more species, I may have to resort to dried mealworms and roasted caterpillars. Ew!

Yesterday I witnessed a flyby of a small hawk chasing a sparrow. Then a gang of thugs, commonly known as starlings, descended on the yard. Initially, they were only interested in the neighbor's ornamental pear (do those things produce fruit?), but today they shouldered aside the usual visitors at the feeders. Fortunately, they did not stay long. Mr. Downy is happy about that.

If last Friday was our January thaw, it didn't do much. I tried to get some of the snow and ice build-up off the driveway, with little success. Now it is cold again. I'm not done with winter yet, though. It has to get more miserable than this before I am really ready for spring. Besides, I have new slippers to keep my toes warm.

Maine Isle slippers from LL Bean. On sale!

Shoot. The sale price dropped again. Just can't think about that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bunny loves Betsy

I don't know much about rabbit love, but it seems like every winter just about this time, HipHop starts acting strangely. I don't know if it is pheromones from wild bunnies in the yard or what. Last year I had to confine him to his cage for a few weeks because I was tired of him humping my leg and spraying. This year he is after the dog. Betsy does not like having her butt sniffed, let alone attacked by an amorous rabbit, so there has been some snapping and growling going on. HipHop reminds me of Pepe Le Pew in his persistent pursuit of the dog. It must be puppy love. (Sorry - could not resist.)

Not much else has been going on around here. The snow melt off my car was not disappearing down the garage drain very fast, so I invited some plumber guys to clean that out. While they were here, I asked them to fiddle with the toilet in the main bathroom and now it refills after a flush. Yay! It's little things that make the difference.

Over xmas break, I stopped in at Wild Birds Unlimited to look at their heated birdbaths but did not buy. Last week I stopped in again, to purchase a copy of the Acres Land Trust Preserve Guide, and the birdbaths were on sale for 20% off. So now I have a heated birdbath... in my house. I haven't set it up outside yet. Maybe tomorrow. It sounds like we could be having a January mini-thaw, with temps predicted to be in the high 30's.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I spent a lot of time outdoors this weekend, either shoveling snow or skiing on it. Usually, I cross country ski at Metea or Fox Island County Parks, but I didn't feel like driving or paying, plus I wanted to check out Salomon Farm as an alternative ski destination because it is close enough for an after-work zip. The parking lot was not plowed, but that did not hinder me. And I was the only one there until another woman showed up as I neared the end of my run, so it was very peaceful. My only complaint was with the snow - there was just barely enough, and I bottomed out a couple of times. We received about another inch of the fluffy stuff, though, and more is forecast, so it should only get better.

It was my first time out on my skis in two years, and in the flurry of digging out boots and goggles, I forgot three things: lip balm, water, and my camera. If I had remembered the latter, I might have some pix of robins to show you. FYI - all the robins do not leave in the winter. I think the entire population shifts southward, so the northernmost birds get about as far as here. But they retreat into the woods, so unless you too are in the woods, you will not see them until they venture out again in the spring.

When not outside, I spent time in the new room. A red-bellied woodpecker visited the suet, and some black-capped chickadees joined the nuclear feeding flock. When I lived in the country, we also saw pine siskins, tufted titmice, and nuthatches on a regular basis, plus an occasional indigo bunting. Nothing so exotic in the 'burbs, though.

P.S. I forgot to mention that over xmas vacation, my son and I hiked both Bicentennial Woods and the Johnson-Dustin Nature Preserves. We were the sole hikers in the latter and saw many deer and a red-tailed hawk. Exciting stuff!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The path to hell

My intention was to sleep in this morning, but last night's snowfall fooled me into thinking it was light out at 6:00 AM. Once I stir, the pets expect to be fed, so up and at 'em for me.

The current snow began yesterday as one front swept through the area and left behind about two inches. Shortly after I arrived home, the neighbor across the street cleared my driveway with his snowblower even though I like to shovel two inches of powder - it's part of my exercise program. He left me the sidewalks, though, and more fell during the night so I got me a little fresh air this morning. Three inches isn't quite enough for cross country skiing, but the stuff keeps drifting down, so maybe by Sunday morning I can give the skis a try.

In case you are interested, here is my new gas meter and its associated pipes. The gas man said something about coming back in the spring to paint it. To match the house? I don't really care.

Betsy Beagle is down to a half-pill of prednisone every two days. I hope that keeps working. When she was taking a whole pill every other day, I accidentally skipped a dose and she reverted to being unable to move without pain. There is something called Beagle Pain Syndrome and I'm wondering if that is what she has. I talk about Betsy being my last dog, but when I contemplated having to put her out of her misery, my heart broke. What would I do without Betsy and her liquid brown eyes? She keeps me warm on those "one dog nights".

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Done - I think

The gas man was here today, to swap out the meter and the leaky parts. After the work, he purged the lines and made sure all my gas appliances worked, a process that left the house a little gassy. He left about an hour ago and I think the house still smells gassy. Is that normal? I'm keeping an eye on the pets - they will succumb first! - but when animals sleep 20 hours a day normally, it is difficult to tell whether they are sleepier than usual. My SO is coming over later. If he thinks it smells gassy, maybe I will make another phone call to the emergency leak number.

I cat sit for my next door neighbors. They recently returned from Florida, sobbing all the way. Their tentative plans are to move there permanently in about four years. (Wimps.) That means I will have new neighbors AGAIN. I am becoming one of the old-timers in this area.