Friday, May 30, 2008

Look Who's In the Duck House!

On Monday, I heard the familiar sound of tree swallows in the back yard. When I looked out, I saw two swallows flying around the duck house. I'm not sure if they were building a nest, feeding the young, or if they were fledglings. I am sure they are not wood ducks! LOL

Two years ago, we saw a cute little face staring out of the old duck house. It turned out to be a baby squirrel. We soon learned he had siblings. They were all very cute.

We see plenty of wood ducks. Perhaps some day, they will give one of the duck houses a try.

Did you notice the water? That's not pollution - that's pollen. Our yard is covered with a blanket of pollen. We can see it floating in the air. Sneezin' season.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A New Bird and an Old Friend

I've been birdwatching from my yard for about six years. It's not surprising that in the last few years, I seldom spot a bird I have never seen. As you can imagine, it's quite a treat when I do see a new one. About two weeks ago, I spotted a bird I had never seen. Actually, Dave spotted it first. Luckily I had our camera handy. "Unluckily" the new bird landed near the garage that is undergoing some renovation. Not the prettiest background for a photo. I'm just thrilled to have seen it and gotten a picture.

According to my research, this new bird is a brown thrasher. It's related to the northern mockingbird and the gray catbird. It is much shyer than its more gregarious cousin the mockingbird. It forages for insects, especially beetles, and is often found overturning leaves in its search for dinner. It also eats fruits and nuts. The brown thrasher's habitat is mainly fields with scrub, thickets, and woodland borders. Its breeding range is from southeastern Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and the northeast of the US south to the southern part of Florida. It spends the winter in the southern part of its breeding range.

Like the red-winged blackbird, it is very protective of its nest. It is so fierce that it sometimes draws blood from people or animals that get too close to the nest. Brown thrasher chicks fledge at a very young age - 11 to 12 days! Another unusual characteristic is its call, which sounds like a large smacking kiss.

I didn't hear its call or observe much of its behavior. It landed on the old fence by the garage and, much to my surprise, stayed there for a good five minutes. Then it flew across the yard and high up into the oak tree before setting off again out of the yard.

Sometimes when I spot a new bird, I look through my bird journal to see what birds I may have spotted in past years. Six years ago to the day, I saw my first red-winged blackbird! Although they are frequent visitors, I have yet to get a really good photo of one of these beautiful but noisy birds.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tagged by Mike for this Meme

Mike at Rambling Stuff tagged me a few weeks ago for this meme. Finally, here it is! Thank you, Mike, this was fun and a challenge to my memory. LOL

WHAT WERE YOU DOING 10 YEARS AGO; That's a long time ago - it's hard to remember. Either I just started at Suite101 where I would meet some great friends or I was working at Eye on the Web, which closed up shop without paying me.

WHAT ARE THE 5 THINGS ON YOUR "TO DO" LIST; Post this meme, get caught up with my blogging buddies, get my writing time in, contact the company that has not refunded my money on a cancelled order, check out some markets, and clean the bathroom.

3)SNACKS THAT YOU ENJOY; cheese cake, blueberries, and chocolate.

4) THINGS I DO IF I WERE A BILLIONAIRE; Pay bills, college fund for grandchildren, share with children siblings and friends, setup a grant so no child in my town goes without, donate to various charities, get the latest equipment for my husband to pursue his hobby of car restoration (he is really good at it!) and build myself an observatory!

5) PLACES WHERE I HAVE LIVED; Only a few places in NH!

6)BAD HABITS THAT I HAVE; Not sticking to an exercise regimine and being disorganized. If I fail to make a list, I get overwhelmed and don't know where to start on anything - result: I accomplish nothing.

7) JOBS THAT I HAVE HAD; baby sitter, soda jerk, waitress, nanny, auto body helper, vice president & president of citizen's group, speech writer, researcher, public speaker, assembly worker, newsletter writer, web writer, web managing editor, freelance writer.

Sorry, I know I am supposed to tag people, but I don't. If you decide to do this meme, please post to let me know so I can check it out. :-)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Old Man Gone Five Years Now

On May 3, 2003, I awoke happily looking forward to my 53rd birthday. My mood changed to disbelief then sadness when I turned to my local news to discover that the Old Man of the Mountain no longer gazed over New Hampshire. Sometime during the early morning hours he fell leaving a huge void on the side of the mountain as well as a huge sense of loss in the hearts of my fellow Granite Staters and me.

The Old Man beckoned people from all over the world to visit him from the time he was first spotted by workers constructing the carriage road from Woodstock to Franconia in 1805. He rested majestically on the western side of Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Improvements in the roads and the building of railroads into the White Mountains brought tourists to the area. By the 1840's the word of the Old Man had spread. He brought thousands of tourists into the state.

His granite profile symbolized New Hampshire -- the Granite State. The Old Man's story began about two hundred million years ago when an ice sheet fractured the granite with its heaving, freezing and thawing actions. Huge blocks of the granite broke away falling off the sheer precipice approximately 1200 feet above Profile Lake. According to experts this process finally revealed the Old Man's face about 2,000 to 10,000 years ago. His face was 25 feet wide and 40 feet long. Five granite ledges combine to form his face, which accounted for the fact that his profile was visible only from particular vantage points along the highway and at Profile Lake.

During the 1880s the Appalachian Mountain Club reported that his forehead was slipping. According to experts of the day, repairing the forehead to prevent it from slipping further was impossible. Measurements and photographs taken in 1906 by Reverend Guy Roberts, who climbed the face, provided the first record of the Old Man. Roberts returned in 1915 with a Quincy, MA quarryman EH Geddes to find that the stone had moved 1 1/4 inches. Geddes made the trek again in September of 1916 carrying a fifty pound pack containing tools and supplies needed to secure the ledge. He accomplished his task in 8 days. In 1927 and 1937 other supports were installed. Periodic inspections and repairs were a regular part of the Old Man's upkeep.

Sadly, despite the best efforts of man down through the years to preserve the Old Man, nature's fury that created him ultimately destroyed him. Fundraisers to construct a memorial began almost immediately. Five huge stone monoliths, each with a different part of the profile, will be arranged so that a replica of the Old Man man will appear once the visitor reaches a certain point in the path along the way, reproducing his sudden appearance to countless people driving through Franconia Notch.

I know that losing the Old Man to nature doesn't begin to compare to the human loss and suffering of so many people in this country due to hurricanes and tornadoes. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Still, there is an ache that is especially keen on my birthday - the day we lost the Old Man of the Mountain.

My source for the history of the repair work:
Back Porch Tales by Karl M Frost & Evelyn M Ellingson, 1974, in the USA.

Photos of repair work on the Old Man, climbers, memorabilia, and EH Geddes

Image of the Old Man is licensed to me by Damselsoft and may not be reproduced.