Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A dark and stormy night

A dark and stormy night
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Yup. That's what it was. Cold, too. (Well, for us anyway!)

I know that picture is hard to see but that's the creek behind my house and all that stuff in the air is rain so thick it's hard to see through it. I ran out and took this picture -- it wasn't that dark but using the flash gave it that very surreal effect.

Anyway, I came back in the house and I kept hearing this strange squeaking noise. I finally realized it was coming from the front porch. I carefully opened the door and saw two Chickadees. One had the prime location and the other was NOT happy at being left out. My front porch is covered in wisteria vines and the chickadees regularly roost there. But it was so cold and rainy that they were really hunkering down. I went and got my camera and one of them was still there . . .

Staying dry if not warm

I like this last shot of it though looking out at the rain like he's thinking, "Will it never end?"

Chickadee Refugee

I love Chickadees though. There he (she?) is on the porch, sheltered from the storm. I come out onto the porch with my camera, snapping shots with flash going off and the chickadee is like, "Whatever . . . just don't make me go out in that rain!"

No worries! You are welcome to stay! It's dry, if not warm!

Snow level is due down to 1500 ft tonight. We live at 800 so I think we're safe. The kids will be so disappointed. I have to say that waking up to a dusting of snow would be a nice surprise for me too!

"Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"

Ruby Tuesday

Ruby's doing great!
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
We couldn't blame Ruby when she didn't want to go out in the rain yesterday -- it's been awful! A little dog in all that rain . . . she could drown! So, what's a little girl to do but find a cozy spot and curl up. What do you mean I'm only allowed on the furniture when I'm invited up? Do you not realize that it is RAINING out there? Don't be ridiculous! I must stay warm and dry and lovely!

Beautiful girl

Ruby would much rather curl up in a cozy chair than go out in that nasty old rain. Blech.


"Oh, wait a minute! Did someone say SQUIRREL?" Ruby is on that job. Squirrel at Mama's feeder? I will eliminate it! She's awesome on the squirrel patrol! She's taken to it with a ferocity that makes me worry just a little bit that she'll develop a squirrel obsession that will require Cesar Milan to sort out. But, for now, it's a good thing. The squirrels have developed a healthy fear of her and watch for her now as well as for me. She hasn't even gotten close to getting one but she does know which trees they like best and will check each tree when she goes outside!

Ruby, sleeping

She's very photogenic . . . even when she's sleeping . . .

Ruby peeking at me

. . . or pretending to sleep!

Ruby looking naughty

And don't get me started on her new naughty ways . . . she chewed up a pencil the other day! A pencil! Silly, naughty puppy! Oh well, she's getting along great with the kids now -- huge improvements daily so all is forgiven! But, stick with your toys! That's a good girl!

It's raining, it's pouringWe'll just keep trying to stay dry here in soggy Boulder Creek. Feel free to remind me that just a couple of weeks ago, I was lamenting the lack of rain.

But, that was before this happened. I stop at the grocery store in Ben Lomond to pick up some chocolate -- medicinal chocolate -- life-saving, my family may survive this week, chocolate. It's raining but I'm right by the door so I just run in without my jacket. I come back to the car and some -- oh, I'll just say it -- idiot!!! has parked so close to my car that I can't open the driver's side door. It is now torrential downpour rain and I'm soaked to the skin before I can figure out what to do. She's looking at me through the rain-streamed windows and making that "what?" gesture with her hands. I can't stand around and wait for her to figure it out. I run around my car, climb in the passenger door, climb over the seats and the center console, and sit down in the driver's seat unsure whether I'm going to laugh or rage. Then -- and this is my favorite part -- then, she starts the engine and moves her car to another parking spot. Uh, . . . thanks? But it's a little late now that I'm soaked to the skin already! Oh, yea, I'm loving me some rain!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wish Lists

Cedar Waxwings
Originally uploaded by hearman.
Birders are great for making lists. It's undoubtedly one of the things that draws me to this hobby. I love lists. So, I suppose every birder has a wish list of birds they'd love to see. For some that list is a secret one in their hearts and others make lists on paper and make great efforts to turn their wish list birds into life list birds.

For me, these lovely birds are high on that list. I did not, of course, take this picture, as Cedar Waxwings are still on my wish list. I find that the website Flickr is more than just a great place to store my photos. I learn so much there -- it's a resource for information about birds, about photography, about crafting, about Rat Terriers. I have learned about what makes a good photograph by viewing good photographs. I learned to hold my pictures and photography to a higher standard by comparing my pictures to those of others. I have learned to use my camera by seeing what others with the same camera can do. I have learned that I am improving by reading the comments that others leave on my pictures.

My Birding Wish List isn't written out but there are some secret birds of my hear that I hope to move to my life list some day. Chief among them:

  • California Condor
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Green Jay

Cuban Tody
Originally uploaded by Fatasbanfum.
The most exotic bird I hope to see one day is this one --
Cuban Tody (Todus multicolor)

Although, I must say that the odds of my going to Cuba are exceedingly slim but I suppose that's what a Wish List is for. Holding out the hope that someday, I'll be in the right time and place to see that amazing little dollop of candy colored feathers.

So, what's on your Wish List?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
PS. For some reason the photo credits are not showing up as they should when I view this post. So, I want to make sure the photographers are given due credit.

Cedar Waxwings
Originally uploaded by hearman.

Cuban Tody
Originally uploaded by Fatasbanfum

Feel free to click the images to see them on Flickr and see more of the great photos by these photgraophers!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Birding Luck

Snowy Egret
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Some days you have bad luck -- I'm thinking back to my pictures of where the cormorant was last week -- and other days, you stumble onto cooperative, thoughtful birds who pose beautifully for you and make you look skilled in bird photography even when you are birding with your mother-in-law carrying a large, colorful umbrella, your 8-1/2 year old daughter, and your silly Rat Terrier puppy. Some days you couldn't take a wrong picture if you tried because the birds are just there, demanding that you take their photograph, insisting that it be as beautiful as they are. Some days, you are lucky and the birds are as photogenic as they are beautiful. Some days it is all crystal-clear why you love your camera so much!

At the little pond in my in-laws' community, I found the requisite ducks but also saw this beautiful Snowy Egret with juvenile legs but the plummage of a breeding adult. It's hard to be an adolescent in any species, I guess.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A piece of my life

My bulletin board
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
This is my bulletin board in my office. I made it several years ago -- I actually made two but only have room for one in my tiny little "office". It has been filled with things that are important to me but in a random and haphazard way.

Click on the picture and go to the Flickr page for it -- you'll see "notes" about its contents that I shared.

One that I wanted to share with you guys specifically is this one:

Feather closeup

I found this feather under my hummingbird feeder but I'm quite sure it didn't come from a hummingbird! I don't know what sort of bird it did come from but isn't it beautiful? I love the colors and the soft downy bits at the bottom. Utterly lovely!

Anyone else care to share a piece of your life?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's been raining . . .

. . . for a few days now and it snowed on the mountains above us. Finally our creek looks like it should look in the winter. We're due for rain through the weekend. Not great but a normal winter . . . hurray!

Saw this at Hasty Brook . . .

Things You Don't Know About Me

  1. My birthstone is aquamarine.
  2. I was an Air Force brat.
  3. I did not have braces on my teeth.
  4. I married my high school sweetheart.
  5. I have lost 32 lbs in the last 3 years.
  6. I was 34 when I had my first child.
  7. I started bird watching with my stepfather when I was in High School for a Science project. It didn't stick as a hobby but I was always interested.
  8. I used to do theater in high school and college. I won a Best Actress award in my high school.
  9. I used to be on a Ski Race Team when I was in 7th and 8th grades. I wasn't very good but I loved doing it.
  10. I have a trophy for playing volleyball in 8th grade.
  11. I have a tattoo -- I got it on my 40th birthday.

    My tattoo 2
    My tattoo

Anyone else want to play?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Liza's Bird Photography Rules #3

Varied Thrush
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Gentle Readers,

When one takes a bad picture through a car window when one should have gotten out of the car and taken a better picture, one can salvage the situation by claiming the picture is artistic and that one wanted that effect. It's so much better than admitting to laziness!


In other news, Ruby is doing well. She's adjusting to life in our crazy home. She still finds the kids a trifle intimidating but, as you can see, is starting to see some benefit to them as well. I'm also glad to see her being a little naughty -- she is a puppy, after all. Today, she got toys out of their rooms and started chewing on them. Fortunately, I found her before any damage was done -- but she had gotten 5 stuffed dogs out of Ruthie's room and one from Gage's!

Ruby and Ruthie
My girls: Ruby and Ruthie!

Don't forget to check out another I and the Bird!

Great Backyard Bird Count Report

Day 1:

at school, I counted 16 Ravens (but did not see any Varied or Hermit Thrushes!)

Day 2:
at home, I counted:
Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird - 1
Steller's Jay - 1
Common Raven - 1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee - 5
Dark-eyed Junco - 4

Day 3:
at my inlaws' pond, I counted:
Mallard - 3
Bufflehead - 2
Common Merganser - 4
Double-crested Cormorant - 1
Green Heron - 1
Common Raven - 2

Day 4:
at home, I counted:
Steller's Jay - 1
Chestnut-backed Chickadee - 6
Pygmy Nuthatch - 2
Fox Sparrow - 2
Dark-eyed Junco - 4
And, a new Bird Photography Rule:

Where the Cormorant was
Where the Double-crested Cormorant was

Liza's Bird Photography Rule #2 --
When photographing Diving Ducks, one should not dither while focusing. Photos of where the bird was are never as interesting of where the bird is.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quiet tonight and tomorrow

In our house, the heirarchy in computers starts with Greg. He brings home the bacon using his computers -- he is an architect and does all his drafting on the computer and the other half of his business is web development -- which, of course, means more computer time. So, we spend money on HIS computers! And, we did that about a month ago. He needed reliability and speed. So, we got him a new MacBook -- so he has a Mac and a PC in one little black box. Very cool!

I inherited his old PC laptop which has some quirky -- uh -- features too it. It won't start up with the powercord in but won't hold a charge either. So, you have to sit and watch it carefully during start up and plug it in at JUST the right moment. Then it works fine. Hey, that works okay for me but it was a bit of a problem when Greg was in meetings with clients telling them what a computer expert he was and he can't get his laptop to boot. Hmmmmm.

His G4 is the Mac I'll be getting and I'm thrilled with that. It's an improvement over my old pink iMac. Nothing major but a bit faster and a bit more powerful. So, that'll be good.

Why, on earth, do I need two computers? Much less a PC and a Mac? Well, the first answer is habit. I used to do a ton of web publishing when I worked at Stanford as a trainer/documentation writer and it was just way easier to work on one computer and view what you were doing on another. The other reason is a bit less serious.

Toontown. My family plays ToonTown Online. This is Disney's MMPG (Massively Multi-Player Game). We've played it for 5 years and we love it. It has always just run on the PC platform so I had a PC on my desk solely to play ToonTown (me and the kids). Now it runs on the Mac but not on either my old iMac or even Greg's G4 so I still need the laptop for the game. Silly but true.

So, I'm moving all my files (pictures, music, documents) over to Greg's old computer right now. The computer has come down significantly over it's early estimates of 2400 hours to do the job and is now thinking it'll be done in 6 hours. Hey, I have a LOT of pictures! :)

Getting this computer move done was quite silly. In order to do it, I had to clean up my desk but I couldn't clean up my desk until I cleaned up my office which is really the laundry/craft room (and no bigger than a poorly designed closet without enough right angles to function properly). In order to clean up the laundry/craft room, I had to clean up three of the big storage cabinets in Greg's office. In order to clean up the cabinets, I had to clear out a section of Greg's office. In order to clear out the office, I had to get Greg to help me. I spent all freakin' day doing this job. I don't tend to do well at this kind of work -- particularly when I realized that I had an entire cabinet filled with craft projects that I've bought all the materials for and never started. How insane is that? I have a couple of years worth of projects ready to go. Guess I know what I'll be working on in my copious free time from now on. I also found three boxes of stuff that I'd decided to sell on eBay and then it got buried in Greg's office (not to imply that Greg is a slob -- he's not at all but his office is a bit of a dumping ground for the house). I put those front and center in my office in an inconvenient place so that I've GOT to do something with them.

It's been a long day and I don't have much to show for it yet. I couldn't even get the laundry done -- even though I was working in the laundry room all day. My sad old washing machine (which is only 6 years old) is so LOUD that you can't have it on and be in the same room with it.

The computer still thinks it needs 6 more hours so I'm going to do the dishes, take a shower, and turn on the washer and the dishwasher and go to bed. The end of a long weekend and I think I need a vacation before I go back to work tomorrow!

Ruby's Home!

Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Here's our petite darling.

On our way to pick her up, we went to two petshops getting supplies. We didn't need much. We all picked out a toy for her then I needed a type of dog food that our local store didn't carry. We'll start her on it and then transition to something they do carry slowly. I also got a new Flexi leash (these are long retractable leashes that are good for letting dogs run around in a park or other open area to have some freedom with no risk of getting away from you). My old one was just too big. :) Oh, and we got her a new tag with her name and our phone number on it.

She -- and the others -- were glad to see us. In fact, Gabby -- the litter's mom -- jumped in Greg's open window and onto his lap when we arrived. Too cute! Ruby was still nervous with the kids but they didn't care because the puppies were out and about and so much fun. There were puppy buyers there and we finished the business side of things quickly. Ruby and Nancy said sad goodbyes and we left.

Ruby rode on my lap all the way home. She was curious about the kids but didn't quite want to go back there and check them out. The way we drive home from San Jose is a very windy road called Bear Creek Road. Ruby got a little carsick on it and was drooling like crazy. I had brought a towel to rub all over her former packmates so I had that on my lap and we did fine. Thankfully, she's like Ruth and I in the carsickness department -- she get miserable but never to the throwing up stage!

Many dogs who haven't traveled a lot firmly believe that they should only pee, poop, and eat at home. Ruby is among that group. She didn't want to go potty although nervously explored our front and back yards. She wasn't interested in water or food either. Hmmmmm.

We had some quiet bonding time with the kids on the couch. She's very nervous around them so we did some work on getting her used to them. We are devotees of The Dog Whisperer and used his advice that patience pays off in these situations. Both kids were sitting next to her and quietly petting her before we got ready to go to my inlaws.


It was just us and my inlaws last night (my sister-in-law's family was at their cabin in the mountains for the weekend) and Ruby loved it. She really gained confidence as the evening wore on.

A quiet moment
Ruthie getting to know Ruby

Ruby and I took a long walk. She's a great companion and when she learns a few commands, will be a fantastic bird watching companion -- no really. She's very quiet and well-behaved. She needs to learn to walk on the leash without pulling but I know we'll get there. We saw a lot of lovely birds. Two of them were life birds!

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant

Green Heron
Green Heron

You can see my other pictures in my Flickr photostream {click}.

It was a delightful evening although Greg's parents beat us soundly at Canasta -- they even let us think we were winning for two hands before teaching us our lesson! :) We came home and the kids went to bed. Ruby was feeling confident enough to jump up on Ruthie's bed to say good night. Ruthie is hoping that Ruby will sleep with her eventually!

After a quiet evening, Greg and I went to bed. Ruby slept in a crate (oversized Labrador crate!) with a pillow, the smelly towel, and a big soft sheet. She wasn't feeling super secure yet but did great.

This morning, she greeted me with her normal happy demeanor, went potty in the backyard, ate a little bit of breakfast, and even greeted the kids politely. Hurrah! We have a dog again!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

A long day but a sweet reward

I'm exhausted! We spent the day working HARD. So, it's the good, satisfying, I-accomplished-something kind of exhausted.

We worked on Ruby-proofing the backyard. There are still two areas that need attention but we worked on the most important ones. I cleaned out the dog run, powerwashed everything, and we put a 1/2 yard of gravel in it -- nice and clean . . . see:

She'll only be in there when we are gone for a long enough time that we can't leave her in the house (like if Greg's out of town and I'm at work all day) The dog house is WAY too huge for her but we'll make do for awhile. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to go get a nice bale of pine shavings to fill the bottom of the dog house with to make it cozy for her if she has to be out there when its raining.

Greg fixed one gate that was broken and cut wood for the bottom of our deck (the one over the creek!) because the gap was fine for labs but Ruby could go right under it. I stained the wood and he'll put it up tomorrow morning.

Gosh, when I put it in a list, it doesn't seem like much but it was and it took all day -- well, just shoveling the gravel is a ton of work! (almost literally!).

Allens/Rufous Hummingbird
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
When I was cleaning up and Greg was taking his shower, I saw this new friend at my feeder. We get Allens and/or Rufous Hummingbirds cruising through in late January and February. They are smaller than our normal Anna's hummers and have a bronzey-orange color to them. Utterly gorgeous. This one was VERY hungry -- he kept coming back and eating even though it was getting pretty dark. There was another hummer chirping at him from a tree nearby -- I couldn't see if it was another A/R hummer or if it was an Anna's who was miffed. But, from the size, I think it was an A/R. It's not a great picture but I was so excited to get it.

The kids had sleepovers with friends tonight so Greg and I went out and got Chinese food from our local, awesome Chinese restaurant. It's soooooo good! I order it online and we run down 20 minutes later and it's waiting for us and still hot when we get home. We watched National Treasure tonight (We love Netflix) and after we were done eating, we had drinks and popcorn. I figure after the amazing labor my body did today a martini is only fair!

And now to bed. Tomorrow is a big day and Greg and I are gonna be SORE!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hope of Spring

Hope of Spring
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Our first daffodil -- a bright, sunny reminder that drier, warmer days are coming! Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons.

I wrote a poem about the flowers and spring {click}.

Hope you get a chance to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count {click} this year! I plan to do so this weekend while we are preparing our yard for a smaller dog (ooooo, a lab can't fit through that hole but a rattie could!). Tonight, I'm making up fresh batches of suet dough and hummingbird juice to lure the little darlings in droves!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Decision made

Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
We visited two Rat Terrier breeders on the way home from our camping trip. It was educational -- to say the least. I had extensive emails with both breeders, visited their websites, and spoke with both of them on the phone. But, the experience of visiting them was so different.

One was -- well, there aren't really words to describe it. Appalling, terrible, filthy, rural poverty at its worst, these words come close but it was truly awful. It was all I could do to be polite while we were there and keep it as brief as possible. Needless to say, we scratched that breeder off my list. I am still feeling troubled by the whole thing.

The other one was great. A small ranchette with a bunch of ratties. Sweet dogs with great personalities. Two of them were rowdy 16 week old boys who were a hoot! Even Gage found them to be fun and he doesn't like rowdy dogs. This breeder had a 2 year old girl named Jordy that we needed to consider.


So, all the way home, all that night and the next day, we thought and talked and debated. We finally came up with a plan of action -- I needed some more information from Ruby's breeder and then we'd decide. She emailed me back immediately and we made our decision very quickly.

On Sunday, Ruby is going to become our dog! I'm so excited! Ruthie is bouncing off the walls excited. Gage is really excited too. Even Greg is getting into the act!

So, it was a long journey from losing two dogs in a month to being dogless to meeting a Rat Terrier to thinking that maybe someday we'd get a Rattie to meeting a Rattie breeder to meeting Ruby to getting Ruby. Whew!

I feel pretty confident that we are making the right decision. Remind me of that when we go through the inevitable growing and settling in pains involved in getting a new dog!

But isn't she CUTE???

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

My Roses
Originally uploaded by egret's nest.
Our day was mellow. Gage woke up and sat bolt up in bed and said enthusiastically, "Happy Valentine's Day, Mom!"

Both kids had cards and chocolates at their breakfast places. Greg had a mushy card and chocolate on his keyboard!

When I got home from work at lunchtime, these were waiting for me on the dining room table. He also included 3 scratchers for the California Lottery and we won $3. Wheee! Break even deal! Still, it was fun to play pretend and think how fun it would be to win $50 or $15,000 or a chance at the Big Spin on TV where you win way more. So, I think that's pretty cool . . . roses and a dream! What a great guy!

Why I love camping . . .

The FMC at Columbia
Reason #1: Our FMC motorhome. A true home away from home! Traveling in this is so much better than traveling in our truck and 5th Wheel!

Ruth climbing rocksGage climbing rocks
Reason #2: Chances for the kids to do and experience different things! Here they are climbing on rocks that were exposed during hydrologic mining in Columbia, California.

Ruth seeing how girls lived in the Gold RushLook at that water cannon!
Reason #3: Chances for educational experiences. Ruthie is trying on the 1850's clothing that a girl her age would have worn during the Gold Rush. Gage is learning about the hydrolic mining equipment. (Okay, okay, he's saying, "WOW! A cannon!"

Camping Cocktails!My morning routine translated to camping!
Reason #4: Roughing it is good for the soul (NOT!) which is why we have our evening martinis in stainless steel martini glasses and I have figured out how to make a reasonable facsimile of my morning mochas.

Mushrooms abounded near our campsiteMule deerTurkey Vulture
Reason #5: Wildlife encounters!

The Millers take a walk

Reason #6: Family walks which result in lessons in skipping rocks and biggest splash contests along with the requisite muddy shoes and hands!