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Hazy Trio

More ~ only some mushroomic ~ under the cut... )

As always, click on any picture to see other sizes and some more shots over on Flickr.
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Proof positive right here:

Blinding Speed

No, seriously... this eastern box turtle was so fast I could barely keep him in the shot! A combination of low light and a speeding turtle made for some iffy but entertaining shots. At one point, I switched from manual to auto focus, but the camera just couldn't keep up!

More shots, some larger, most in focus... )

Crossposted to me own journal

Garage Sale

Jun. 6th, 2009 09:14 pm
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We've been here six years, and we finally managed to get some stuff out for the neighborhood yard sale.

We did pretty good ~ three figures, when I figured we might make enough to get some Gourmet Food for lunch. Of course, even Burger King costs $25 dollars to feed four these days (Deb prefers that Other fast food place, so she abstained, which is probably a healthier thing to do).

We sold about half of our VHS tapes, so we've got some goods for next year's sale. We also moved three car seats, a bunch of Little People, some Hot Wheels, two trikes, and Rachel's little bike.

I would have liked to have carried less stuff back up to the house afterwards, though...
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The other day, Deb and I were out on the porch to discuss some things without distraction (yeah, you could pronounce "distraction" as "Mr. B" =), and we watched our young neighborhood red tailed hawk soar low across the front yard with mouse (or maybe chipmunk) in hand. Or foot. Or talon.

I may not have been able to catch the booger on film, but he was most definitely a red tail.

~ ~ ~

This morning, Deb was out on the porch, sipping her coffee, and noticed Tika stop eating. The cat turned, looked out under the hosta, and leaped through the railing. She came back with a mouthful of green feathers that had, a few moments ago, been a sparrow.
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I think all these pictures were taken this calendar year, at least... =)

You can hover over these for a title, or click on them to head over to Flickr and see more/other sizes/so on...

Darmera peltata

More under the cut... )
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While refreshing the mulch in my flower beds, I noticed that all of the ostrich ferns I planted back in July 2007 have spread out and are now popping up three or more sets of fiddleheads around the original plant. While the other ferns (Christmas, cinnamon, interrupted, marginal woodland, and royal) don't appear to be spreading themselves around as of yet, they do appear to be making a showing.

The mayapple looks to be sending up at least one additional stem, which means the possibility of two leaves (and thus, pretty soon, a flower, and, eventually, a fruit). I really need to get some more individual plants (or seeds) in, but for now I'm content to let it keep it's own pace ~ that area will be disrupted with waterfall and stream and bridge work someday (I'd say "soon", but it's more likely to be "later"!)

One of the bluebirds just zipped by, dipping down about ten feet from me, and then told me a great story before he flew off to the wife.

The foamflower appears to still be with us. I noticed a few leaves and one pouf of flowers; as with the mayapple, that's another one I need to help along if I want it to take a noticeable role in the forest floor.

The blueberries appear to be more developed in more areas then before. They used to be centralized in the woods along Spruce Alley, between our property and the neighbor's. For the past two years, you can find them all around, but now they're appearing in larger groups.
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Pileated Woodpecker

Click the picture for some more on Flickr....

Almost Crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] naturesbeauty and me own journal... I changed the picture... so it is different here and there! =)
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Normally, when those hooved Hoovers, those rats-with-long-legs, otherwise known as white-tailed deer, run through our yard, that is exactly what they do. Sometimes, when I curse them the loudest, they are strolling through casually, eating everything I've planted, and generally just taking their time and enjoying themselves.

Not this particular buck.

This guy, he runs right, coming down almost to the house. Then he runs back towards the path. Then he runs left. Then right. Then left.

And when he runs, this bucko looks more like a bucking bronco wannabe then a serene stag, majestically in command of the woods.

Other than odd behavior, he looked hale and hearty, but I expect he took one too many musketballs to the head (I believe muzzle loading is now in season, but I may be wrong on that point) or some other equally unfortunate incident, which outside of the normal hunting season would mean muzzle loading season, archery season, or, the year round motor vehicle season.

It could be he was just wild n' crazy for the doe of his dreams (or whatever else might resemble her and strut by), but I was under the impression that sort of season took place in the Spring.
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Well, not really. But we did celebrate the final leaf cleanup (for the moment) by relaxing by the fire.

I needed to get the kids outside and entertain them for a while, and it was cold, and there were still some invasives, seed pods and all, to be destroyed, so I thought it might be a good idea to have a little roast.

We've used the firepit a few times, but this was the first time it was a cooking fire.

After I got things going with some pine needles Rachel and Mr. B gathered, Rachel did most of the maintenance for the first hour or two, and I sat back with Mr. B to enjoy things. Later on, [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas came out with some hot chocolate for the younger two, some hot tea for me, and a hot cider for himself. He broke up some of the larger bits of wood and gathered more.

After a while, we let it fall back to embers and we roasted some turkey dogs. It was actually quite entertaining because by that time it was fully dark and the moon was hidden behind clouds. Made it a wee bit difficult to verify done-ness by sight.

In addition to the enjoyable evening spent around the fire, we tortured each other with some camp songs, and I also took some pictures of the fire ~ something I hadn't done before. I thought I heard others say it was difficult, but I was fairly happy with the results, which included a lot of aperture experimentation.

More, larger, under the cut... )

Click on any picture to open it up in Flickr, to see other sizes and more of them! =)


Oct. 24th, 2008 07:01 pm
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Stomach ich. I think it was just one plate too many of rice pilaf, at least I hope that's all it is.

Ate a slice of ginger, so we'll see if that calms things down.

~ ~ ~

In other news, I took some pictures (big surprise!) of leaves (big surprise!) but this time they were all in one huge-mungous pile, and then Rachel and Mr. B jumped into them and swam around for a while before I ground them a second time with the mower and then [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas ground them a third time by picking them up with the lawn vac.

A couple cubic yards of finely ground leaf mulch now sits on the back bank, so it almost looks like it was planted on purpose!

I jest, partially - the area was destined for some bark mulch a couple years ago, but never high enough on the priority list to do. At first it was just a scattering of heaths and heathers, with bamboo sticks to mark their locations. After they got run over repeatedly (luckily not injuring anyone on the sticks!), we created a border out of locally available timber (i.e. fallen branches and small trees). Eventually, the area will be stone bordered and might someday see some of that bark mulch - at least until the heaths, heathers, and, now, native bearberries, have taken over and the yearly leavings of natural leaf fall proves enough.

In any case, I surrounded all the bearberries on the right side of the rock stairs with collars of leaf mulch in our first round of leaf pick-up; this time, I was able to surround the bearberries, the heath and heather, and the lavender on the left side and start filling in a bit more of the space on the right. One more leaf pick-up after the oaks finally let go should provide nicely to fill both those beds and provide some much-needed re-mulching around the foundation.

Anywho, I might get around to posting those shots later tonight or this weekend. =)
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This morning I was awoken by a loud bird call I hadn't heard before.

I ignored it.

Deb came in and woke me up so I could get a picture of this bird sitting on the edge of our deck:

An Immovable Object

I started snapping pictures through the screen in the bedroom, just in case we spooked the bird. Turns out we didn't have to worry. I did the same through the screen door, then slid the door open and stuck the lens out, then stepped out on the deck, and she didn't move until I was almost within touching distance...

She slipped off the edge of the deck, kind of like a duck going into a pond. I peeked over the edge, and she had gone under the deck.

When I went back upstairs to download the photos, I noticed she was back out from under the deck, so I went out the front door and circled around to get a few other shots.

Had a momentary surprise as she walked into a clump of ferns and, almost at the same time, walked out the other side... so there may be more than one... she did look smaller, but then when I got closer to check, she pouffed back out, so I really couldn't tell, and I didn't see more than one at a time.
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I took [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas and Rachel on a select group of the wildflowers in our yard (i.e. those currently in bloom, minus the goldenrod), some (such as the St. John's wort & New England Aster) are appearing for the first time this year, as the two meadows - the Rachel River/Brandon Canyon area and the Meadow itself - are in their third and second years of growth.

That the roadside River/Canyon area is developing as slow as the main Meadow is, I suspect, due to a couple major factors: 1) rough environment (road, washouts from the river, etc.); and 2) mown down in its prime last year by parties unknown.

I have both of the older kids working on reports of their findings - just a simple collection describing the basics of each of the 8 species we identified, as well as an extra bit describing the nastiness that is the spotted knapweed (would that be knastikness?)

[livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas complained that 11 paragraphs (intro, 8 species, 1 extra bit on invasives, and wrap-up) was a Lot Of Work, so Mr. Takes College Courses In High School and Wants to do Biology (Marine, to be sure, but it's the spirit of it...) When He Grows Up will also be including an extra bit describing each of the four stingity insects we came across on our adventures. I also had to threaten to have him identify the umpteen types of goldenrod, some of which probably need a microscope to ID...

Alas, I am cruel, forcing my children to learn on a Saturday...
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That would be Brandon Canyon, and the Rachel River...

Looking southish...

Brandon Canyon

...and northish...

Brandon Canyon Meadow 1

As always, click through for more pictures... in this case, a few more of the river and canyon, and a bunch of the meadows there and up on the sandmound, as well as a single picture of Mr. B (friends & family only) and nearly a dozen of an as-yet unidentified spider (must admit, I haven't even tried...)
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Today, [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas and I did some yardwork.

I know, shocking, isn't it? =)

We took down the deer fence circles around the two elderberry, the katsura, the tulip tree, and one of the mulberry trees. One of the former shrubs seems to have given up, despite having been planted in what really was an unsuitable location (too dry). We relocated the surviving elderberry to a spot where its inherent thirstiness can be put to good use.

We wrapped the elderberry with one of the deer fence sections, and used the other relocated ones - along with the section that had surrounded the river birch until earlier this year and the last remaining unused bit. We redistributed and set the poles around a grouping o four - a viburnum, a dogwood, a summersweet, and a winterberry - and used the mesh netting to encircle the lot of them. They are some of the harder hit plants, although, really, the deer will eat whatever they stumble across.

~ ~ ~

In other related news, the Rachel River excavation served its purpose: things looked good down there, and should continue to flow nicely with more rain, should we ever happen to get another drop or two. On that note, Hanna proved to be a light, gentle rain that lasted most of the day; stronger at times, but generally very well behaved and un-stormlike. This is of the good. If things came down any faster, there wouldn't have been a chance for the water to sink in and run off would likely still be flowing.
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Okay, not really. We did scrape 1-6" of dirt out of the dry-as-bones basin of the Rachel River, though.

[livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas gave me a hand with the digging and sifting. I put the auger bit on the hammer drill, and it whipped stuff up so it was easy enough to scrape out with the transfer shovel.

After clearing a bit, we fiddled with shoving a 20' piece of edging into the neighbor's pipe, to make sure it was clear. It was, and [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas tried the other side. As he did so I stood by the wheelbarrow, grabbing a shovel to go dig up some more stuff. At that point, a skunk waddled out of the pipe, came up the bank about a foot away from my foot, turned around, went down the bank, up the other side, and off into the woods between the two driveways.

Meanwhile, Mr. B picks that moment to come running down the driveway to us. I attempt to stop him and keep him out of the way. [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas sees the skunk heading into the woods at that moment - he wasn't sure why I was yelling at Mr. B, but until he looked up then he had no idea what was going on. I had [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas call Deb so she could close the garage doors - that space might have presented too good an opportunity for a freaked out, out-of-its-element nocturnal animal.

Funny, thing is, while digging, both of us had our feet and shovels right up against the side the skunk came out of - I'm surprised the guy didn't run out the other side, or spray us then.

After that, a few turns of the dirt in the pipe itself did send off a light scent, but nothing uncomfortable or lasting.

I expect the skunk nesting in the pipe - set at a 0 degree incline - added to the problems with it backing up. That, and it's set lower than the bed of the Rachel River, hence the need for excavation. Now we got rid of all the severe wrong-way inclines except for the one immediately at the pipe, and we, at the least, flattened the rest, and, in most places, matched the incline of the road.

I expect if we get any rain from Hanna and it does run off, it will move the remainder of the plug in the pipe and level it out. We'll likely have to repeat this a few times until it runs nicely, with about a quarter of their pipe filled with soil. We can't excavate the entire thing, or there won't be enough drop between their pipe and ours, and we'd risk exposing the buried electrical, phone, and cable lines.
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Took a bunch of pictures earlier today - had about a dozen birds (robins, jays, and more) hanging out in the backyard.

I posted the ones that weren't all that cringe-worthy to Flickr.* Click through to see the rest!


* I took over a hundred shots, knowing that 1) I was moving way to much; and 2) they were moving way too much. Someday, I'll get a tripod and/or monopod to keep things steady. That will at least help improve the situation on one side of the lens.
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Haven't mentioned this at all, so here's an update in convenient bulleted form:
  • The shark bear is in the park development
  • It has been seen pretty much daily, multiple times, for a week or more
  • According to the ladies who've seen it, it's huge
  • According to the DCNR guy who lives down the street, it's last year's cub, recently let loose from mommy's side, and is only 450 pounds
  • He followed it to the bottom of my driveway, where it proceeded to walk into my neighbors yard and eat their garbage
  • Yes, again. They still leave their garbage out
  • Yes, they complained, picked it up, and it is still outside, less than 50 feet from where we go around a blind corner to get into the cars
  • Mr. B is, for reference sake, approximately two bites for a large bear. Maybe three or four for a smaller bear.
  • The PA Game Commissioner says they will most likely not relocate the bear
  • They relocate bears to a location six miles away from here
  • Bears travel 50 miles in search of birdseed, their prey-of-choice, or 49 miles in search of garbage, or 47.3 miles for any other edible foods
  • I made up part of that prior item, the extraneous bit that didn't have to do, exactly, with traveling 50 miles for food
  • The solution is to not put out birdseed for 3 weeks and to not leave your garbage out
  • I didn't make that one up; they have it on good authority that the bear will wait 2 weeks and 6 days before it gets too hungry to bear it any longer (pun quite intended, no matter how cheap it was) and will walk 50 miles away to find more birdseed and garbage
  • If you must leave your garbage out, disguise the smell of it with moth balls and ammonia
  • The bear will not, under any circumstances, realize that it can get into most houses without really trying too hard, even though it can smell just about every food item in them
  • Random Factoid: A woman used a chocolate scented leather restorer on the leather seats of her Ford Explorer. The bear broke two or three windows and peeled back parts of the roof so it comfortably dine on the seats.
  • Despite the township insisting that no one should put trash out until 6am the day of pickup, several neighbors put their bear food down on the curb as early as 2pm the day before.
  • Did I mention my next door neighbors leave the trash out 24-7?
  • And that the bear, a repeat customer, has them programmed into his GPS as a point of interest?
  • I thought I might have
  • I will be working security detail tomorrow morning when [livejournal.com profile] aequitaslevitas puts the trash out
  • Security detail consists of singing, loudly, and, in case the bear is a patron of the finer arts, completely off-key, the anti bear song
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Saturday, Deb walked in the Race for the Cure - I'm really glad she did that on quite a few levels. She harps on the fact that an 82 year old woman out-competitive-walked her; however Deb far out-competed everyone else in the entire world who sat on their butt and flipped channels during that time span.

That latter group, by the way, included the four of us - during those moments in time. We made up for it later. Rachel chased after Mr. B while Justin and I searched for limbs to try out some new Japanese pruning saws. We made short work of a few dead trees & limbs that my existing saws would have suffered through for longer than it took Deb to do the walk. We also pruned a few live limbs - some suckers that would weaken and endanger the tree if allowed to grow. Quick and clean, they performed very nice and did not rip and tear and make a mess out things like some other saws I've been acquainted with.

Speaking of ripping and tearing, Justin and I practiced our lasso technique, and used it to throw a weighted line over some limbs about 20-30' feet up in the air. The line was divided in the middle by a chainsaw and we took down (and hauled away) maybe a thousand or so pounds of dead wood. The first was certainly for practice - when that tree falls (and there's still 2-3 times as much left above the height of the limb we took down), it won't endanger the house or cars. The second has a lot more that could fall on our house or cars, and is a twin tree, with its equally dead sibling aiming at the neighbor's house and cars. I might be able to get some longer lines - and something to help boost the throwing weight over higher limbs with more accuracy - but I will probably end up calling in an arborist to deal with it.

Sunday, I took the kids to the PA Ren Faire, which you may already have realized if you read the previous Brandonisms post. I picked up a couple pieces of art, but everything else was all about music. Rachel selected a wooden ocarina, Justin a horn (a "blowing horn", to use their technical term), and I picked up a gourd with twin flute-like pipes.

When we sat down waiting for the joust, we noticed another kid with one of the horns, and I tried to get Justin to go to him and tell him how to get a note out of it, but he didn't (I had Mr. B sitting on my lap, so my movement was limited). Just to let any non-horn players in on the secret: you don't just blow air through it like you would a flute or whistle; you need to put your lips together and essentially blow raspberries into it to get it to sound.

When Justin tried them out, the guys running the stand were surprised he hit such clear notes first time out. We teased him a bit about getting multiple notes out of it, especially after we had made fun of the horn players and their definutely-not period-accurate valved instruments ("Valvses? Valvses? We don't need no steeenking valvses!") On the ride home, while we were stuck in I78 Hell, Justin figured out how to use his hand like a French horn player and to change his embouchure to get four other notes out of it, each about a half-step apart. With that, he managed to play parts from The Kraken, several nursery rhymes, and a few other bits and pieces.

Rachel's ocarina is fitted with a cord to wear around her neck ("bling on a string," as per the guy running the stand) so she had it in hand while we were waiting for a table at supper. They were playing old-time country music over the PA, and suddenly she started playing along with the vocal line - and nailing it, with the exception of a few extra notes for ornamentation.

In comparison, on the gourd-thing? We think it will play at least two octaves. The vendor was able to play some nice low notes, and I seemed to hit them in places, but for me it jumps up to a much higher tone. Much practice will be needed. The instrument sounds a bit like a shawm, or maybe a bagpipe chanter, although we're pretty sure there's no reed involved - just the body of the gourd itself, and then the pipes.


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