Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

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» Monday, January 10, 2011
Great Backyard Birdcount 2011It started raining last night, early in the evening, and then rapidly turned to a steady snow. Most of the time when we have snow, the flakes are either uniformly large or small, but last evening the flakes were mixed, tiny, medium, even the large blowsy ones all together, swirling with what must have been bits of sleet or ice, as it looked as if large bits of glitter were flashing and sparking. Under the porch lights everything sparkled. And it accumulated quite quickly; by the time we went to bed at midnight, there were at least four inches on the deck (measured onsite via ruler!).

Just before I took my shower I called the CDC Emergency line, and learned today was a...

...snow day!

James had also taken one look at the forecast and called in to work. I would like to say we spent a productive day, but we took that at its word: it was lazy and wonderful. We slept until ten, then James took Willow outside and she refused to go near the back gate. Instead she made random little paw-prints in the snow as if she were Billy in the "Family Circus," then just did her business out front. James disposed of the evidence. :-)

Last night when he realized we would be home today, he started some oatmeal in the slow cooker. The recipe called for steel-cut oats and cream, but we didn't have the latter and he couldn't find the former. He used rolled oats instead, and butter with our skim milk, and it was still soupy this morning, so he had to make another batch of oatmeal to make it thick enough. It was pretty good, nevertheless, and I had a nice bowlful, maybe even a little more, but he had put dried cherries in it. I really don't like fruit in my oatmeal; I prefer the real thing. Plain maple would have done me just fine.

Animal Planet seemed to be having an "Animal Cops" marathon, so we had that on most of the morning and early afternoon. I read Albert's Tale of Applebeck Orchard and was endlessly entertained by the birds at the feeders. Yesterday before it snowed I mounted the window feeder I bought before Christmas. I didn't expect any of the birds to find it with the feeders full, but the two titmice spotted the black oil sunflower seeds in it and were flitting back and forth all day plucking them one by one from the tray and then flying away. The feeder is almost all clear lucite and at one point the titmouse tried to get the seed from the bottom, frustrated by being able to see them, but not get them!

At one point there was a chipping sparrow on each perch of the squirrel-proof feeders, plus two more hopping on the ice-coated mounded-snowy railings, so we had fourteen out there, plus a pine warbler. We saw the yellow-rumped warbler at the suet, and also had the usual contingent of nuthatches, chickadees, the red-bellied woodpeckers, the male cardinal, and even a couple of bluebirds. Ground-foraging on the snowy grass we saw more of the same, at least one blue jay and what looked like a female Eastern towhee (brown on the head and wings, the very center of the chest and torso white, surrounded by red).

There was nothing on television except for snow coverage. There was one perpetual accident with 18-wheelers after the other, jackknifed in the middle of the road, against concrete abutments, at the edge of the road. Very few cars, but of the ones that were out, many of them were sliding backwards down hills, even big heavy SUVs, or skewing off sideways over curbs and into bushes.

About three o'clock I pulled on a hat, shoes, and another sweater and went out to refill the bird feeders. By the time I did the second one my hands were in massive pain; I had to chafe them continually to finish. I thought about replacing the suet, but I couldn't have managed it.

A little after four I went into the closet and rummaged until I found my boots. I tried putting these on last year and couldn't pull them on because of my damn instep. This time I tugged and grunted and actually did get them on. So I bundled up in my heavy hat, James' scarf, and my nice Rhode Island-weight winter coat and took Willow outside, grabbing the nice ski-pole-like walking stick Juanita bought for James back when he had his knee surgery.

This worked pretty well. As I discovered when I went out on the deck, the 4-plus inches of snow is now covered by an icy crust. Using the pole I didn't have any trouble getting to the gate, and James had covered the lock with heavy-duty foil, which worked nicely. But poor Willow, tramping behind me, had hard slogging. She was just heavy enough to break the crust on the snow, and she insisted on going to the very back on the lot to do her business. The expression on her face as she broke through and stepped, broke through and stepped, broke through again, was comical and sad at the same time.

I let her back in and then tried a short walk of my own, from our driveway to the edge of the cul-de-sac, a distance of two homes. The stick helped, but I still almost fell. The top of the driveway was literally a skating rink, and it was slick all the way up and back. Some of the young adults further down were sliding on the gradual slope of the street, and I saw two kids up on the corner taking pictures of the cars sliding their way down the main road.

James made some chicken for supper and we had that while watching the Nature special about Born Free and the impact it had on the world and people's concept of lions (and other predators). I remember seeing Born Free at the Majestic Theatre when it came out in 1966. I had the Bantam copy of the book which I carried to my fifth-grade classes for weeks and read so much that I eventually had to get a new copy of the book as an adult; the pages were falling out. I had all of Joy Adamson's sequels, and watched the television specials, including the now-famous Christian the Lion, and there is of course an "Elsa" on the library Christmas tree.

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