Sunday, April 21, 2019

Mosaic Monday #24: No Hurry

All's calm at Lake McDonald - Glacier National Park
In Northwest Montana, this time of year is often referred to as a "shoulder season," a quiet time in between bouts of tourists - those that arrive in winter for skiing/other winter entertainment, and those that flock to the area in summer to visit Glacier National Park.

I find myself in that lull; our employment as Mountain Ambassadors has come to an end for the season, and yet it's too soon for many of our summer activities.  And when presented with ample time, less seems to get done.  "I have plenty of time for that," the thinking goes.

Then I heard this Zac Brown song on the radio.  It captures my sentiment completely.  Jettison the "to do" list, folks, and relish some life in the slow lane.

NO HURRY

Forget the dirty car, bills, cleaning and laundry!
You know my old car needs washing

And the front yard needs a trim

And the telephone keeps ringing

And the bossman knows I know its him

And the bills ain't gonna pay themselves

No matter anyway
'Cause I ain't in no hurry today


Stitching and American Idol by candlelight
There's nothing wrong with an old cane fishing pole

And the smell of early spring

Sit down in a fold-up easy chair 

On a quiet shady river bank

Let the world go on without me

Wouldn't have it any other way

'Cause I ain't in no hurry today

Sweet Peaks Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Neighborhood sky (and more stitchin')
Ain't in no hurry

I'd be a fool now to worry

About all those things I can't change

And the time that I borrow

Can wait till tomorrow

'Cause I ain't in no hurry today


A little night-time reading
More stitchin'
Cocktails at Spotted Bear Distillery
When I must return

To the cold cold ground

Have 'em take their time

When they lay this sinner down

Heaven knows that I ain't perfect

I've raised a little cain

And I plan to raise a whole lot more

Before I hear those angels sing

(Gonna get right with the Lord)

But there'll be hell to pay



Coffee and cake doodles; Bird-watchin' with Maggie the Cat
Clockwise: Ruffed Grouse; American Robin; Turkey; Flicker
But I ain't in no hurry
Ain't in no hurry
Be a fool now to worry
About all those things I can't change
And the time that I borrow
Can wait till tomorrow
'Cause I ain't in no hurry
Ain't in no hurry
Ain't in no hurry today
Songwriters: ZACHRY ALEXANDER BROWN,WYATT DURRETTE,JAMES ALLEN OTTO © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.,REACH MUSIC PUBLISHING



Happy Easter, everyone!

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mosaic Monday #23: Anticipation

When we moved into our new house on April 14, 2018, I began taking notes about wildlife we saw around the acreage, including information such as date and location.  And, of course, digital photography is a superb record-keeper since it embeds the date the photo is taken.  My blog is another source of historic information about the last 12 months.


So, as the anniversary of our move-in date approached, the idea of a retrospective on flora and fauna deeply excited me, and mainly as a reminder about what we can expect as spring continues to unfold.  I plan to maintain my journal, and in the years ahead I can envision a running dialogue such as "the bluebirds are late this year" or "flowers will be delayed because this winter slammed us with 5 more feet of snow than normal".  Won't that be interesting?

For now, let's focus on what we can anticipate in the next 90 days.  Maybe in a future post I can tell you if it happened or not!!!

APRIL

As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers, so this month delivers more in the way of fauna than flora.  Last year, April meant turkeys passing through our yard, but we have yet to spot any this year.  The chipmunks, on the other hand, emerged from hibernation at the end of March and have been scampering around ever since.

Birds that have been absent for the winter have begun to appear.  Both the Mountain Bluebird and Sandhill Crane have arrived at Hodge Lake, earlier than last year.  I find it particularly interesting that I observe a mating pair of bluebirds in almost the same location as last year.  I read some material that suggests these birds bond more to a nest site than to each other.
Sandhill Crane
Last year at this time, the bluebirds and swallows were considering our bird houses.  This year, as I mentioned in my last post, we have already noticed the bluebirds examining the nesting quarters, but the swallows are still in absentia.

April also witnessed the return of the Red-Winged Blackbirds at our bird feeders.  This year, the first one showed up on March 14, and now my feeders are mobbed by males and females alike on a daily basis.  The sunflower seeds have also attracted an occasional house finch, a new visitor.  On Friday, I almost fell over myself when a Red-Naped Sapsucker perched for just a few moments on our porch railing.  (I knew it was a woodpecker, but I had never seen it before and had to look it up in my Montana field guide.  SOOOO exciting!!!)

Other new sightings have included two otters.  On April 7, in the early evening, Spousal Unit spotted something dark on the remaining ice of the lake, and he examined it through the binoculars while I deployed the spotting scope.  Over the next few minutes, we watched one and then two otters slide in and out of the water onto the ice.  At one point, they shared a fish that one of them had pulled out onto the ice.  How cool is that?

On April 10, Spousal Unit (yes, he has sharp eyes) detected movement on the far side of the lake, and we soon determined that it was four wolves.  We must have observed their activity for 20 minutes; they ran up and down along the edge of the lake, and at times acted almost like puppies in the way that they gamboled together.  Of course, I have reported wolves before, but this is the first occasion that we have seen them in real time.
That same evening, I noticed something white moving around in the tall grass near the lake.  On closer examination, it turned out to be a bald eagle eating something on the ground.  Being this close to Hodge Lake is certainly a boon for wildlife!

MAY


May 2018 was a thrilling month since we witnessed the moose down at the lake, and the beaver pair moved into the neighborhood, building a dam and lodge lickety-split.  After those initial sightings of the moose, it disappeared for parts unknown.  We continued to see beaver activity in terms of changes to the dam, tree cutting and the occasional tail slap, but over the winter they have been entrenched in the lodge.  Hopefully they will be more visible once the ice clears out.

The flowers surged last year during this month, and here are some of the beauties we can anticipate emerging first.
Lower left: Glacier Lily; Center: Blue Violet; Lower right: Aspen

Upper right: Kinnikinnick
Upper left: Serviceberry; Upper Center: Heartleaf Arnica; Upper right: Wild Strawberry

Lower left: Oregon grape; Lower Center: Not sure; Lower right: Lodgepole pine
On May 28, my trail cam documented the Columbian Ground Squirrels, but I am fairly certain they were scrambling about earlier.  Just as I was wondering when they would leave hibernation, I spotted one yesterday on the slope just below the kitchen window.  He was frantically eating the short grass; we shouldn't be surprised since he has been underground since mid-August!


May 29 brought a coyote loping through our leach field around 9.30 pm.  At the time, it was a novelty that had me jumping up and down.  Twelve months on, I have become accustomed to a sighting (at a distance) while I am running, and I have certainly captured plenty of them on my trail cam.  Don't get me wrong, I am still mesmerized, but they are not as rare as I first imagined.

At the end of the month, we planted our flower pots.  While this does not relate directly to my chronicles of native flora and fauna, I can use the reference as a safety net - generally, I don't have to worry about these plants suffering a snow storm or ravaging frost if I wait for the final days of May to set them out.

JUNE


 Middle left: Narrowleaf Collomia

Middle right: Rose

Lower left: Starry Wild Lily of the Valley
Reproduction systems kick into high gear in this month.  Fawns begin to appear, and as many as six elk with a baby in tow wandered the edges of Hodge Lake.  A painted turtle crawled up the logging road and seemed to be digging a hole for eggs.  This occurred twice that I witnessed.  Each time, I placed rocks on either side of the area to enable monitoring (incubation is 72 days).  Nothing came of it as far as I could tell.

Not to be outdone, the swallows were nesting in both bird boxes.  (But by mid-June, the gnawing squirrels had kicked them to the curb.)  I also glimpsed the occasional Western Tanager high in the pine treetops, and male and female crossbills chose our rock steps below the kitchen as a favorite hang-out.  I still have not determined what drew them to that spot - something in the soil?  Microscopic bugs that I could not see?


Of course, not all wildlife is welcome.  This month also brought the carpenter ant infestation, which we were able to fend off quickly.  That was a relief, and now I am constantly vigilant for bugs attempting to make a warm nest out of our house.

Abundant wildflowers danced in the meadows and nodded under the shrubs.
Upper left: Cinquefoil; Upper Middle: Blue Violet;

Upper Right: Butter and Eggs

Lower left: reflection in lake; Lower right: Shooting Star
Left: Yarrow; Upper middle: Pink Wintergreen; Upper right: Blue-eyed Grass

Lower middle: Self-heal; Lower right: Bog Orchid
I would be hard-pressed to choose the highlights from June, but the black bear on the logging road (captured by trail cam) and the badgers I observed would land at the top of the list.



JULY


Early July brought much of the same with an occasional surprise, such as the afternoon I glimpsed a small black bear on our driveway as I returned home from a run.  Or the weasel that caught my eye from the window of our master bathroom.

As I sit here now, looking at barren tree branches and muddy ground, my mind struggles to grasp the life that is waiting just below every surface.  I am dreaming about the wild grass and wildflowers that we sowed in the fall, immediately before the snow took over.  Will it sprout?  What kind of wildflowers will we see?  Can we defend the new growth from the deer and the bunnies?  Of course I am also keen to observe our formal landscaping.  Does it come back?  How much self-seeding occurred?  Will our apple trees bloom and cross-pollinate?  And then we have the pines and aspens we transplanted at the end of the summer.  Did they survive the process?  When can we expect the aspens to leaf out?  So much anticipation.  All I have to do is wait.


Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Be the Tapestry

It's Wednesday night, and I am nursing a Cosmopolitan while the radio plays popular music.  Spousal Unit is downstairs, reviewing Game of Thrones episodes in advance of the Season 8 premiere this week.  A perfect time to pen my next post.

My options are legion, but I lean toward March's lingering photos, and perhaps a re-cap of my 2019 resolutions.  Or I could do both!  Don't you like to get two for the price of one?


You're right, I did write about some of my resolutions in my March 14 post ... but don't worry, dear reader, this is new material.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then let's begin.

And already I have writer's block.  I would like to share my efforts in the area of "true charity".  As you may recall (or not) I am committed to working on this virtue throughout the year as a result of an event I attended in January.  So why the hesitation?  Well, is it charity if you blow your own horn?  I think I can convince myself that it's not self-serving, but in fact might inspire someone out there in blogland.  OK.  Here goes.

Once a week, I assist several fifth-grade students with math.  This came about through one of my neighbors, a teacher in the school.  I told her about this calling to true charity, and she described a long list of students at her school that could use help.  I was ready to jump in.

Reading our Church bulletin one weekend, my eye was drawn to a paragraph about Sparrow's Nest, a homeless shelter dedicated to ensuring safe supportive housing and resources for unaccompanied homeless high school students in the Flathead Valley.  I contacted them and my support thus far has included writing thank you notes and organizing donations.
Environmental issues are critical to me.  Last year, I collected signatures for an initiative to expand alternative energy sources in Montana, but we did not garner enough support to place the initiative on the November ballot.  I am still deeply interested in these issues, but I am casting about for the best way to have an impact.  During March, I attended the kick-off presentation for the Montana Lakes Conference, held in Whitefish.  I think we can all find an action to implement from this list.  You may ask, what does this have to do with true charity?  Well, don't we all want to leave the planet in better shape for our children and grandchildren?

On a smaller scale, I think sometimes the people in our very neighborhood may need support.  I don't know why my friends come to Munch and Make, but part of me sees it as a community service.  Is that a stretch?

OK, I am feeling pretty good about that goal.  What about one that's not going so well?  Drinking 64 ounces of liquid a day.  Keeping in mind that alcohol and coffee do not count, I have managed to achieve this approximately 15% of the time.  I just like coffee too much!  It probably doesn't help that I asked Spousal Unit to buy me a Pour-over Coffee Brewer so that I can make just one cup of coffee at a time, particularly in the afternoon.  Otherwise, I would be reluctant to turn on Mr. Coffee for just one or two cups!

Let's keep on with "not going well."  Archiving my blog.  I conducted a web search and found a process for saving my blog content and theme.  Of course, this does not create a document that you can view, but you can use the resulting XML file with Blogbooker to fashion a book.  I say fashion because the initial output I saw was low resolution and poor formatting.  A fellow blogger recommended Blog2Print.  My investigation revealed that you can order a book from the site (expensive at $34 for 20 pages) or create a pdf for only $9.95 (up to 60 pages).  As a trial, I created a pdf and was disappointed with formatting that does not reflect the actual look of my blog, such as captions that are out of place, and it lacks the border elements of my blog.  To be fair, I have not had a chance to follow up with the company about this.  That's my next step.  In the meantime, I am hoping against hope that the bugs in the machine don't decide to nibble away at my blog anytime soon.

OK, let's wrench this out of the gloom.  I am faithful to my daily reflection using Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman.  Here is a poem from February 12 that struck a chord.

No chance hath brought this ill to me;
'Tis God's own hand, so let it be,
He seeth what I cannot see.
There is a need-be for each pain, 
And He one day will make it plain
That earthly loss is heavenly gain.

Like as a piece of tapestry
Viewed from the back appears to be
Naught but threads tangled hopelessly;
But in the front a picture fair
Rewards the worker for his care,
Proving his skill and patience rare.
Thou art the Workman, I the frame.
Lord, for the glory of Thy Name,
Perfect Thine image on the same.


Practice piano for 30 minutes every third day.  My track record on this one is fairly solid, and I have improved enough to play a song or two for my Mom during a Skype call, per her request.  I also received a call from our Piano Man, Daryl.  He investigated our piano and learned that it was manufactured in 1909.  Sounds pretty good for 110 years old, doesn't it?

For a while it looked like the stalagmite and stalactite might
actually join up
Continuing on an upbeat note (pun intended, LOL!)  Sit in a different spot every day.  I am hitting this about 50% of the time, but this will be easier now that it's staying light longer.  (Quite often, by the time I get "around to" sitting, it's gotten dark and there's not much to see.  I probably need to move past the idea that it's about "seeing", and I could also make more of an effort to park myself somewhere else earlier in the day.)

Regardless of my location, I try to be more observant, such as when a bird strikes our windows, necessitating a rescue.  This pine siskin recovered quickly, but many of the birds end up on their backs.  Almost always, if we turn them over and put them in a sunny spot, they survive.  A neighbor of mine told me this may be because birds' lungs collapse easily when the bird is on its back.  By flipping them over, we prevent this from occurring.
Being in the moment allowed me to notice that the bluebirds had returned in search of nesting sites.  This occurred sooner in the month than we expected, requiring a quick fix to our bird boxes that had been gnawed by squirrels last spring.  Thanks to the birder who suggested adding the metal washer - we have seen some ongoing interest, but no nest-building yet.

What is your most satisfying accomplishment thus far in 2019?  Can you "Be the Tapestry?"


Linking to:



I Like Thursday
Saturday's Critters


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Mosaic Monday #22 - March in the Mountains

I enjoyed March.  It brought a tremendous variety of entertainment, certainly too much to cram into one post (and this may be too long already for some folks with short attention spans - LOL!  But I encourage you to stick with it for the ending!)  So, some of the month's highlights will float further into April - check back for a future post.  For now, let's get on with the show!

How dramatic the weather transformation in the last 30 days!  I took these pictures on the pristine white morning of March 13, as I reported for my volunteer shift at the Whitefish Historical Museum.

Eight short days later, Spousal Unit and I sat on the front porch, basking in the afternoon sun and indulging in an adult beverage.  Yes, Spring has arrived.

Beyond the warmer temperatures and melting snow, birds are one of Nature's great harbingers of seasonal shifts.  You may recall that I previously wrote about taking pictures through my spotting scope.  This month, I shouldered my scope and ventured down to Hodge Creek.  A 200-yard walk from the house, Hodge Creek forms one border of our property, and it positively teems with wildlife.  I set up the scope with my phone attachment and snapped away.  


Northern Shrike - a new bird for me
How delightful to see a breeding pair of mountain bluebirds, the first I had seen near our house this spring.

I shared some of these photos with my neighbor, and I had labeled this shot as a Cedar Waxwing.  Being the dedicated teacher that she is, she did her homework and came back to me asking about the differences between a Bohemian and a Cedar Waxwing.  Off I went to consult the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Birds, and darn it if she wasn't right.  My birding buddies would probably be shocked to read that I didn't even know about the Bohemian species!!!  Now I know that one of the distinguishing features of the Bohemian is a rusty underside to the tail - on the Cedar, the underside of the tail is white.  

The Northern Shrike repeatedly left this perch for bugs - here he is 
crunching one of his snacks
Dare I say it?  I think I am getting a bit addicted to this birding thing.  Or maybe it's a combination of seeing/identifying new birds and achieving quality pictures that has me hooked.  Speaking of which, I am not satisfied with these photos.  It is a challenge to figure out the ideal combination of settings on the scope and the phone, and to do it quickly while the bird is still visible.  So, I asked Spousal Unit to accompany me for one outing, and perhaps advise on a better approach.

That day, it was quite windy, which only added to the difficulty as the little birds were perched on top of trees that swayed dramatically.  In the end, Spousal Unit suggested that I should set up on the deck, and take pictures of stationary objects such as tree stumps using a variety of settings.  I could note the settings and then correlate them back to the quality of the shot.  So, stay tuned - more experiments coming your way!  (Or, as I joked to Spousal Unit with a wink, maybe I should just buy a camera that can handle long-distance shots!)
From left: female Mountain Bluebird, Bohemian Waxwing, male Mountain Bluebird, female Mountain Bluebird
When we aren't tramping around in the woods, Spousal Unit and I have teamed up in the kitchen for new culinary delights.  And all of them are keepers!

Cajun Asparagus Skillet

Chickpea Curry with Flatbread

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Meatballs

Of course, Spousal Unit is Chef with Hat in our house, and March was busting out of its seams (or maybe WE are busting ...) with other first-rate eats.  For the last few weeks, he has been on a bread kick, so the breadmaker is getting a workout with pumpernickel, dill bread, raisin bread, Dijon rye and half whole wheat.

And every once in a while he likes to surprise me.

This month has had its share of social events.  One of our fellow Mountain Ambassadors is one-half of a musical duo called The Cutaways, and a half dozen Ambassadors with spouses attended one of his gigs.  It was a fun-filled evening, partly due to the smashing location - the Sacred Waters Brewery.  The Brewery anchors one end of a small complex that also includes Glacier Sun Winery and a produce market.  Open doorways between the businesses encourage you to move freely among them, and you are also allowed to bring food and beverages from one into the other.  As someone who does not drink beer, this was a huge boon for me - I could buy cider or wine at the Winery and bring it into the bar.
We ordered the Elk Slider Duet from the surprisingly eclectic menu.  Yummy!

Earlier in the month, with prime snow conditions, I went snowshoeing with some friends and cross-country skiing with a neighbor.
When I go skiing with my neighbor, it's a bonus to see her animals, including these newborn goats
Are you getting the gist?  It was a busy 31 days.  Even so, I made time for some drawing.

I can't think of a better way to close this post than an AWESOME series of coyote photos from the trail cam (these pictures all took place within 3 minutes).  It certainly was a magical March in our mountains.






Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
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