Fantastic Mr. Fox

141027 F0x (16)

As I sat and drank my afternoon cup of coffee I looked over the garden, down into the back forty and Mr. Fox was sitting in the center of the field.

My sister lost two more of her chickens last week so I’ve been paying closer attention.  My rooster just started to crow on Saturday and I told him the whole idea was to be quiet and not announce to the wild world around him that he was there.  He didn’t listen.

The first thing I thought was I need to clean that .22 but I grabbed my camera instead.

Walking out to one of my gardens I sat on the bench facing the field and watched.  The sun was gloriously warm and Mr. Fox was just sitting, eyes shut, soaking it in.  After a few minutes he decided to try to catch himself a snack and this is one of the shots I took.

As I watched him through that long lens I thought about the idea of looking through the sight of a rifle and how I felt about that.  I understand the need and desire to protect your birds but he was so beautiful.  He appeared to be just enjoying a sunny fall day.  I’m not sure I could kill him just because he was in the back field.

I have to tell you though the gun will be cleaned and will be positioned at the ready for the day my birds begin to disappear.  It’s a fine line between an amazing wild animal and a chicken killing predator.



140118 Snow (1)

adjective: bracing 
1. fresh and invigorating.
Yesterday afternoon my sister told me she had gone out for a chilly run, followed by a cold hike.  I commented on how much I hated the weather when it was in single digits and the wind was blowing.  She told me it was bracing.  I laughed out loud when I read the word.
Fast forward to this morning.  We didn’t get the predicted 3 to 6 inches of snow but it’s a little after 9 o’clock and the temperature is 5 degrees with the wind blowing what little snow we had.  Last time I checked it’s about minus 14.  The snow that fell was so fine it was like dust.  When you are outdoors and the wind whips it up it feels like you are being blasted with sand, very cold sand.  Suffice it to say it is painful to be outdoors today for any time longer than walking to your car parked next to the door.
The real burning question I have is why do your dogs have to spend an inordinately long period of time outdoors when it’s below zero and you have to walk them one by one on a leash?  For them it’s bracing, for me it was frostbite.

A Neurotic Little Dog

140117 Shophie in the ShowerFor some reason Sophie thinks the shower is just about as much fun as playing in the snow.  If she hears the word shower she will run into the nearest bathroom and wait for you – in the shower.  Doesn’t matter if it’s a walk in shower or a tub combo, when you turn the water on she will be waiting to get wet.  She’s a weirdo. Judging from the way she looks in this photo she probably really wants a shower, she certainly needs one.

A Finch Obsession

131228 Finches (1)Okay, this has become a bit of an obsession.  Honestly, who can blame me?  Look at how beautiful the light is shining through their wings.

I have been adding to the feeder array to attract more birds – I was thinking different types of birds but the early morning visitors are the finches.  The woodpecker was on the feeder very early this morning and the jays come and go.  When the finches come it’s a crowd.  They all tussle for a spot on any one of the four feeders that are out there now.

131228 Finches (5)Photographing them like this allows me to watch their interactions frozen in time.  It’s as close as I can get to examining them without looking at a dead bird.  It also is great seeing them stopped in flight.

Of course we now have a new visitor.  He’s just scavenging around the base of the feeders so far.  I’ll throw him some seed on the stump today and hope that’s where he continues to eat.

131228 Red Squirrel

Two Dog Night

131114 MoonriseThe days that I go up to Rowe during the week are dwindling.  I went up yesterday to work on a couple of projects and this is what it looked like when I arrived.  The sky was beautiful but I really wasn’t expecting snow on the ground.  It was cold – 26 degrees when I got there.

This is when going up there is not as much fun as other times of the year.  The house is cold and takes forever to warm up.  It’s dark early as well.  I arrived at 4:30 yesterday and felt like it was about 7:00.

I started coming up to Rowe during the week when we got Chester.  He needed to really run around mid week and this was the way to go.  I can play with him for a while or he runs over to see his girlfriend.  During the milder seasons I take him for a swim at the lake.  With the days longer I can garden or can something, hike around the property or visit with my sister.  It doesn’t matter what’s for supper because it’s just me.

We don’t have heat on the second floor of the house but all of the beds have electric blankets.  This is fine when you get in but it’s pretty brutal when you get up in the morning. When I go up by myself the dogs sleep on the bed (that never happens when Bill is there).  This morning approaching 5:30 or so I woke up to realize I was right on the edge of the bed because Chester kept moving over to snuggle up to me.  He doesn’t usually do this, he just curls up on a corner of the bed and stays there.  He must have been cold.

For many years I’d hear the expression “It’s going to be a three dog night” and always thought people would invite all those dogs onto the bed to keep them warm but I realized last night my dogs were having a one person night in order to keep themselves warm.


Dogs, Dogs, Dogs

131027 DogsYou should all be happy this is a still and not video.  This is the kind of attention you get when you pick up the squeaker that has recently been removed from a toy and use it for your own entertainment.  Even the dog that HATES squeakers was in for the game.  It was more powerful than food.  No one got it in the end – it was for my entertainment only. No dogs were harmed in the making of this photograph.

Weaving Wednesday – Round Robin 6

131029 WeavingThis week I decided to tackle the False Satin Blocks in 10/2 mercerized cotton.  I chose a buttery yellow for the weft.  I sat down at this loom last week and simply could not do this.  I was over thinking to the point where I just had to walk away. I didn’t understand what the selvages were doing, the sheds weren’t opening the way they were supposed to, ugh! (Of course if I had just waited and asked a question or two that might have helped).  I spent the entire week fretting about this whole set up.  8 shafts intimidate me, I’m not sure why.  I think it was just out of my comfort zone right then. I was looking for meditation last week, this week I was up for the challenge.

I sat down and wove this without a single issue this week.  I think having my head in a different place made all of the difference.  I wasn’t distracted.

Pam had to unweave a Navajo rug she was working on because there was a problem with how it was warped.  She was trying to fix and then re-warp the frame.  Her cat, Fred decided he would help her out.

131029 Fred (1)Fred loves the studio.  He is always there, waiting for a pat or cuddle (or food).  He helped Pam read her measurements – we all know tempting any owner reading a paper of any kind is. I think he was just in tune to her frustration and was working on a little comic relief.

131029 Fred (2)He did a very good job.




Little Nest

130707 Wren's Nest

I plucked this nest out of the branch of the pear tree in the back forty over the weekend.  I’ve been watching it for over a month – there hasn’t been any action.

It was difficult to see nestled into the leaves at the very end of a long, low branch.  My sister and I laughed about the wild ride that bird had to have taken on a windy day.

The nest is quite small, the cup itself no more than three inches.  It is lined with dog fur and sheep’s wool, a testament to the animals in the area.  It amazes me the way it is constructed – almost totally of various grasses from large on the outside to fine in the cavity itself.  It is so perfectly round.

I have quite a collection of bird’s nests.  Some, like a robin’s nest are heavy and substantial.  This one is light as air.  It was tucked right into the small branches that hold the leaves on the pear – it wasn’t going anywhere.  This is the kind of nest you find in the fall, blowing around in the field, let loose my the dropping of a tree’s leaves that once held it tight and close.

I’m unsure of the type of bird that made this nest.  I thought it might belong to a wren but after doing a little research I’m not so sure.  There are so many different birds out back it could be anything.  I like to think of these nests as little gifts they leave behind.


Equine Dreams

720601 Jo with Hilliers on Jingles


For starters I can’t believe I’m actually putting this photograph on a post but I think it’s the only one I have of me and Jingles.  I think it’s one of maybe three that I have of that horse at all.  Before the age of digital photography you had to pay for each image you took. Not only that but it was more of a project.  Buy the film, expose the film, bring it to have it processed, wait a week or more, pick it up, throw half of them away . . . you get the idea.  My mother wasn’t the most sentimental of people and she was also quite frugal – photographs were not really in the budget (except for those school pictures, ugh). This photograph I believe was actually taken by Eunice Hillier at their house on Ford Hill Rd.  Her youngest John and Sarah are on the horse’s back.  As memory serves this must have been around 1968 or so.  I was 12 or 13 I think.

When my daughters were little we would spend weekends and summers in Rowe and I would tell them stories about the animals we had when I was growing up.  About the horses, cows, sheep, goats, pigs – everything except a dog.  They never believed me.  They would play in the back forty never knowing the number of animals that had happily grazed it for the years that I was growing up there.  In their minds I think it was just impossible to picture their mother with animals they only saw at Forest Park zoo.

I often dream about having another horse, I have a couple of friends that still have them but we are all more realistic these days.  We are much more aware of our physical limitations when it comes to riding.  I think back on the number of times I’ve fallen (or been thrown) from a horse and understand that if I took that kind of fall today I would likely end up with a hospital stay rather than walking it off like a teenager.  I thought maybe a small draft would be good but when I’m more rational in my thinking I know that having a horse is a distant memory.  Still that nagging desire to have something from the equine family is still there.  It probably never goes away.   Hmmmm, maybe a donkey or two.  Something that will be happy grazing the back forty and I can scratch its ears on a daily basis.