Friday, April 28, 2017

BIRDERS

          I lead a group of birders every Saturday morning for a couple of hours. There are enough interesting areas in town to keep up our interests. We are fortunate to have many natural areas that were left by past residents who had a great  vision. Very little is being left today as it is being developed.

          So when we go out we generally  find the usual suspects and once in  while we see something very different and interesting.

          Last week we spent our time on a trail between the river and a golf course. We saw: Cormorant, Crow, Canada geese, Mallard, Song sparrow, Red-winged blackbird, Common goldeneye, Raven, Robin, Black-capped chickadee, Red-breasted nuthatch, Bald eagle, Downy woodpecker, Magpie, Boreal chickadee, Greater yellowlegs.

         Now the greater yellowlegs was an interesting find. The bird was on the trail and dead. Some predator had captured the bird and was probably sitting in a tree above the trail when it was disturbed and dropped its prey. Now no gory photos. The head had been pulled off the bird as some predators like to eat the head first.

       The other find was Bald eagles nesting. I knew the nest had been there for a few years but this was the first time I had been out when the birds were nesting. The nest was across the river but Jurgen got a great photo. You can just see  the female's head above the nest.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

YOOHOOOO...

      You'll never guess! I had lots of snow on the ground again this morning! Yes, about 4 cm (1 1/2) .

      Calgary had lots more snow and Banff in the mountains had 20 cm (8 in ) of snow this morning.



   
        About 4 :00 PM the snow had melted.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

YOU'LL NEVER GUESS!

     I had snow again. My mind has been blank on good post topics lately so the snow came and gave me one of my easy topics.

     Fresh snow is fairly normal at  this time. We may be getting more than usual this spring.

     Our days become very long so plants develop rapidly and reach maturity before the fall. Right now the sun rises at 6:20 and sets at 8:48 for 14 hours and 28 minutes of daylight.

     New blades of grass poking out of the snow.  The types of grass we plant are able to withstand these conditions.

     
  
     The view on my street this morning.

     A rather peaceful looking dwelling.

  
     My blue bells are doing well at the side of my house . The snow didn't hit this area.


     I have seen times when these blue bells have been covered with snow but they are not harmed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

POST TOPICS

      Sometimes I have to work very hard to come up with post topics. Good topics? that's another thing.

      However, the post topic gods have been very good to me for the lat few days.

      It snowed again! That's right. Snow Sunday morning and now more snow on Tues morning. that's very lucky for post topics.

     So this morning at 7 AM it started to snow and snowed for about 2 hours and when finished we had 5 cm (2 in ) of snow.

     By 3:00 PM the snow was gone. we had a high of 5 C (40 F).

     It's quite common to get snow in April and not unknown to get snow in May.





Sunday, April 16, 2017

THE EASTER BUNNY CAME LAST NIGHT!

   Yes the Easter bunny visited last night. I looked out my window this morning and my yard was full of rabbit tracks. It doesn't hurt that we had fresh snow so the tracks were obvious. 





   So I went out quickly looking for treats! Well, after looking all through the yard I found nothing! Well, maybe I will go back to believing the Easter bunny is a fake. 

    All kidding aside , we had a nasty day weather wise yesterday. It was dull, windy, with a little snow and about minus 2 C (28 F) all day.

    It snowed overnight so footprints showed in detail.

    Now with all the tracks, I think I had more than one rabbit. I'm guessing three as I've seen three together this week.

    So footprints in the snow leave a story of what went on overnight.

    This morning was cold minus 7C (20F) and clear.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

NATIONAL SIBLING'S DAY

      April 10 was national sibling's Day. It's a day for us to recognize and acknowledge the relationship with siblings. 80% of us have siblings

      I quite often write about national days. Some of them are very frivolous such as National Cupcake day. I happen to think that there is some very well worthwhile value to National Sibling's Day. I wrote a post about it last year.

      The surprising thing about National Sibling's Day is that it's a very recently organized event.   The idea was originated in 1997 and in 1999 April 10 was put aside for National Sibling's Day. Some states have declared April 10 to be a holiday

     There is a similar day in India which has a much older origin.

     I took the opportunity to tell my three brothers that they are the best brothers I could have ever had. I told them that they are each very different and that they have supported me in their own way. I thanked them for being my brothers.

     It's also an opportunity to mend some fences. Not all siblings have a good relationship. Just maybe if the day is celebrated some siblings may be able to rekindle a relationship. 

     My two children have no relationship at all . They had a fight and since they are very good with words they said some hateful things to each other. With the Internet words can fly back and forth very rapidly and there isn't much time for reflection. . Since one lives in Chicago and one on the west coast, they have no trouble avoiding one another and the schism does not cause any awkward problems. However, as a family we would be much happier if we had a regular relationship. So today I emailed them requesting that the hatchet be buried.

    A belated Happy Sibling's day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

WHAT IS SPRING?

     Since spring is coming slowly to my world I thought of the question "What is Spring?"

     Spring is different where ever you may happen to be. If you are far south spring may not be very noticeable. The temperature doesn't change much. Leaves and grass are green all year. If you are where I live spring comes slowly over a long period of time. Warming is gradual with back slides to cold winter temperatures. We have to get well into spring before much plant activity takes place. Today, several plants right beside my house are showing green shoots. Some trees are in bud but it will be a long time before we see trees leafing out. The ice went out of the river last week but all the ponds and lakes are still covered with very solid ice.

     Then there's the Arctic spring. I've been through five of those. The light is bright...very bright. But there's no warmth in it. In late April there is some melting snow but it is in May that the snow disappears and the huge rivers lose their ice. It's a funny thing that the Canada geese arrive the end of April and sit on the ice of lakes. It's 3 or 4 weeks before they can begin nesting.

     Now for some people spring is the return of birds or just one species. For other people it may be the awakening of plants. I like to go out in the woods when the sap goes up and you have the invigorating odor of the trees coming to life. For some people it's when rabbits and weasels turn brown.

      Tomorrow morning the sun rises at 6:49 AM. I like to see mornings come earlier and earlier. Then I like to see the evenings get longer.

      So we have a whole lot of nice things happening for spring and then wham! Things suddenly turn to winter. Later on this week I have a three day forecast of snow. 

      No matter what I like spring. It's a general move to warmth.

     So what is spring for you? Do you have a barely noticeable spring or a long period of moderation? What particular part of spring do you like best?

    Now I must apologize as I posted this when I was only half finished the post.

     Mar. 24 2016. A late spring storm.


    

Saturday, April 8, 2017

THE BACKWARDS PILL

      I called my spunky 89 year old friend the other night and she was a little down. I wrote about Dorothy and how a Least weasel got in her house and how she finally got it out of the house.

     Right now Dorothy is facing some challenging problems. These are problems that come with aging. Her husband has been in care for three years with dementia. That's a big challenge by itself.

     Dorothy has decided to move into a senior's residence rather than continue living in her duplex. She will be in the same complex as her husband but he is in the closed section for dementia people.

     However, Dorothy wants to list her house on May 1 and has to clean it out. That's a challenge for most of us. Some people have stuff and then there's Dorothy. They had 4000 books! There are many very beautiful books.Her husband was a prof and Dorothy and environmentalist. Nothing was thrown away. Dorothy still has her ballet dance books.(half a shelf) Another full shelf contains her husband's journals.

     So I was called over to take some of her books. I was polite and took 8 books. The only thing I could do was suggest places she might take the books. 

     Her sense of humor...there's a new thrift shop that's opened up a block from her house.

     So downsizing and getting rid of personal effects is sad. Things that have all your memories are being disposed of. The final date is less than three weeks away. 

    So when I phoned Dorothy , I think she was a little overwhelmed by the situation. 

   Her comment was, "They're not making a backup pill yet so I'll just have to keep going." I like that term but I wouldn't take a back up pill.

   Most of us will have to go through this step in our lives. It's not pleasant but should and has to be done. So although I'd like some books and would like to help dorothy get rid of some books, I'm in the same boat as Dorothy. I have to get rid of stuff.
   

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

DEMON INCOME TAX

      I've always filled out my own income tax returns. My income tax situation is very simple and straightforward. Yes, there are very poorly expressed sections that cause me problems. One is what they call split income pension. It's straightforward. I transfer some of my pension income to my wife. Now when the tax guys get in on writing the form it suddenly gets complicated. 
they don't use the best of terms. Pension transferee??? Who's that?  They do make a mess of the form. I fool them. I get it.

     This year they went one too far so I have to rant.

     I always have paid my income tax with a check. After I finished my tax form I noticed that I'm not allowed to pay by check anymore. They offer 4 options. I don't do online banking. Skip that one. I'm not setting up a debit account. I don't want somebody having access to my account. The only option left was to get a remittance voucher.

     Now you have to order a remittance voucher online or by phone. The Micro manager tried the phone and it didn't make sense. 

     If I set up an account I could order the vouchers online. So I set up an account and ordered. It would take two weeks.

   Now there was no notice about this change. I finished my return Mar. 27 so if the mail works I get the voucher before April 30 which is the deadline. Some people may finish their return April 25. How are they ever going to get a voucher?

    So I am very angry with the tax department for not advertising that checks could not be used this year.

    The micro manager called some officials and gave them the gears but they would not budge on the way things were set up.

     There's a saying don't argue with the taxman. It was impossible in this case.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

SPRING VARIATIONS

      Spring is a time of many variations that pull us up and down. There are nice times when our spirits soar and there wild times when we are saddened once again . We are looking for spring...actually summer. We are hoping. Setbacks drive us to nuts.

      So today our weather was very dull. We had heavy dark clouds but no rain or snow. Our temperature was around  5 C(40 F) all day. It was windy and looked very unpleasant. When I went out it felt much better than it looked.

     A few days ago we had clear skies and 10 C  (50 F). People brought out the shorts.

     So spring brings a wide variation in our daily weather. A cold front is coming in tonight and we may get some drizzle and snow.

     The snow has disappeared except for the dirty remains of snow banks that are in shaded areas.

     The grass is brown but if you look in sunny locations you can find some new grass shoots. Our grass slowly loses its color over the winter and in the spring is brown. It takes a while for things to turn green. I have bluebells along the east side of my house. Since bluebells are early they are about 2 -3 Cm (1 in) tall.

    Most days we have new birds that arrive from the south. We've seen Blue birds, Trumpeter swans, gulls and a few ducks. From now on there will be a steady stream of arrivals. I took my bird group out yesterday morning to  small area and we found 13 species of birds.

    I'm also running a little project called Bird Species 150 which to find 150 bird species  to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. So bird reports are coming in steadily Check RDRN.ca and see what species have been reported.

   And my bunny had a snooze in my back yard today and he/she is starting to turn brown. Richardson ground squirrels have come out of hibernation. The old males come out first and later on the young males and females. The old males return to hibernation in July again.


     So slowly but surely spring is coming to Hiawatha House.

     I've had some new visitors recently and some made comments. Thanks for visiting Hiawatha House and thanks for the comments. Maybe we'll have a conversation.