Much needed rain is falling and the cloud deck is hanging close to the ground. The flat light was just right for a few monochrome shots.
The high winds we’ve had the past couple of weeks have really done a job on the older, disused buildings in the area. Many have sections of metal roof peeled back while others have collapsed.
I can’t help but wonder what became of the workers at the feed mill when it was shut down and abandoned. I’ll have to ask Fish hook if he knows because it shut it’s doors long before we moved here.
Rain or shine, life goes on in the natural world. Even though it was so wet that the “beards” on these two wild turkey gobblers were plastered to their chests they were on the prowl for food as well as hens. mating season is just about to get under way and they’ll be rounding up their harems soon.
Recovering from the recent construction project has kept me close to home the past few days. There is still a little trim work to do on our new front porch but that will have to wait until I can get around a little better. After demolishing the porch rails, replacing the posts and installing new rails my already wrecked back has been giving me so much trouble that I’ve spent most of the last three days under the influence of prescription pain killers with my butt glued to my La-Z-Boy.
I’m thankful for the help I got from my wife, Frankie (THE BOSS), our daughter Laura and my brother in law, Barry (Fish Hook). Without the three of them helping the job wouldn’t have gotten done and it really needed doing. Besides doing most of the lifting they also kept a close eye on me and were ready to give me hell if I pushed myself too hard. It’s really frustrating for me to have the knowledge and experience to undertake a project only to have my physical limitations get in the way. That frustration usually leads to my pushing myself too hard and I end up paying the consequences. This was one of those times. I’m mobile once again but still taking it easy.
Today I pulled the card out of the camera, stuck it in the reader on my new laptop and downloaded a few images captured while making a few short trips to town lately. These are a few that I thought were worth posting.
The flocks of geese on two nearby ponds wintered over but that didn’t stop them from practicing formation flying. I think this gaggle needs more practice forming a V.
This horse seems a brighter shade of red each time I see it…..or it might be the meds…..my meds, not the horses.
I’ve shot this old place several times over the past couple of years. It must have been a grand home at one time..
If only walls could talk this place would have some tales to tell.
I spent several minutes waiting for this guy to wander across the road. He finally got out of my way just as I was beginning to think he’d look good in my kitchen……fried!
You have just been mooned.
Another tasty bird who wandered out in front of me. He’s lucky I opted for shooting him with a camera when my belly was growling handgun was close by.
Speaking of bellies; Buddy is beginning to get downright chubby! He actually waddles when he’s “leading” one of us around the house.
I originally thought he enjoyed rolling in the snow. We now know that he enjoys rolling around, snow or no snow! That dog is a clown!
The guy in the large brown truck FINALLY arrived about 10 minutes after I had given up on him and headed for town. I think what actually happened was that Frankie called him and told him it was safe to deliver my new laptop……that I was gone and didn’t have a gun or 3 with me when I left. I can’t wait until he shows up tomorrow with the next box that I ordered (Ain’t package tracking great?) I’ll bet he has a stroke lugging that box up to my porch and the icing on the cake will be my devilish grin when I tell him to be careful with that case of ammunition he’s toting!
Anywho, Elmo 8.0 is here and I’m playing with it to see what all the buttons do. Now for some first impressions:
- This Toshiba laptop with the high definition 17.3 inch screen is HUGE compared to my old machine! I love the graphics!
- I ordered 8 Gb of RAM and this thing smokes!
- The keyboard will take some getting used to and the key response isn’t what I’m used to but I shall endeavor to persevere. The numeric keypad on the right side is nice to have.
- I ordered a wireless laser trackball and I LOVE it but have a feeling I may be walking around with a sprained thumb before long.
- Windows 7…….I’ll get used to it before long but I do have one major gripe. Those thick headed trolls at Microshaft have decided that you’ll either use Windows Live Mail or pay $50 for a copy of Outlook! I don’t even have a Live or Hotmail account anymore and even if I did it is incompatible with my main mail account so I’m stuck using web mail again……or at least until I can get in touch with my ISP tomorrow and have them tell me why I can’t make Thunderbird work.
Oh well…..tomorrow’s another day. Frankie has to get her head examined vision checked, I hope to get my new glasses while she’s being tortured examined and then we need to make a very large cash donation to Wal-Mart and Food lion in exchange for enough groceries to make the chest freezer, fridge and cabinets bulge. Laura has already been warned that we still have a key to her apartment and we may need to use some of her storage space as well.
Now….back to transferring files from Elmo 7.0 to Elmo 8.0.
On the way home from NOT GETTING my new lenses from the optometrist I spotted movement in a tree top. It’s a good thing I had my glasses in my pocket because, had I been wearing them, I wouldn’t have seen the tree, let alone the hawk in the top of the tree. More on this later.
I’m just about certain this is a Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) which is a common variety around these parts. Thanks to C.S. Miller for correctly identifying another member of this species I managed to capture, poorly, for my Grahams Forge Road post.
Isn’t that a gorgeous bird?
I was lucky to catch him highlighted by the late afternoon sun. If he had been a little lower in that tree the shadow of the ridge just across the road probably would have hidden him from view.
A little more movement under another tree a few dozen yards east of that one and I knew what had the hawk’s attention.
A flock of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) was holed up under that tree and they weren’t going anywhere as long as that raptor was perched nearby. A wild turkey is a sizeable bird, at least as big if not bigger than a red tailed hawk. I don’t know if a hawk would even tangle with a bird that size but these girls (they were all hens) weren’t about to press their luck!
Now, for the situation with the spectacles. I’ve needed new glasses for at least 2 years but, between Frankie’s salary and my meager Social Security pension there were other budget items we deemed more important…..food, prescription medications, utilities to name a few.
Lately my vision has deteriorated to the point where new glasses had become a necessity. Putting it off any longer would result in a spike in my car insurance rates because it has been getting difficult to distinguish between the idiots who actually need running over and the idiots who are just too slow to get out of my way.
I went in for an eye exam in November. After trotting out every fancy machine in the building and trying them out on me the doc gave me that look that said “You’re not driving with these on, are you?”
Then she sent me to her partners in crime on the other side of her office, the optical shop, to discuss lens and frame options. To be fair, I have been advised on several other occasions that I may be at risk fro glaucoma and a couple of the specialize tests are to keep an eye on the thinning of a portion of my inner eye.
As a matter of fact, one of her former associates had originally told me I had “stage 1 glaucoma”. By the time I was examined by an ophthalmologist and told that diagnosis was “a little premature” the aforementioned associate had moved on to practice elsewhere thus explaining why I didn’t need a cast for my hand which I fully intended to break on his face. But I digress…….
The optical shop people cheerfully flipped through my chart, went into the back room “to consult” (I know I heard them singing “We’re In the Money!”) and eventually came back out to where I was sitting.
Optical person: “Your vision insurance will pay up to $200 for new lenses and frames!”
Me: “Can’t you just put new lenses in my frames?”
Optical person: “Well, yes…..if you want to keep those frames.”
Me: “What’s wrong with these frames? I bought them here!”
Optical person: “Oh nothing…….I guess.”
Me: “How much for just the lenses?”
Optical person: “Well, progressive lenses with scratch coating, anti-glare coating, kryptonite meteorite resistant coating, ……..”
Me: “How much?”
Optical person: ”Mrs. Allen, your husband did leave his gun at home this time, didn’t he? We don’t want to have to call the police again.”
THE BOSS: “Well, he doesn’t have one on him but I don’t know if he has any out in the truck.”
Me: “I’m not getting down off of this desk until you tell me how much!”
Optical person: “Well, with all of those features and the portion of your exam that isn’t covered by your insurance………….$588.00”
Me: “588.00!!!!! Lady you better call 911 and tell them to send every ambulance within 100 miles because a whole bunch of us are gonna need a ride to the Emergency Room!”
Today, after scrimping and saving and making payments since November, we were finally able to pay off the balance due thanks to our state income tax refund. I was all excited and couldn’t wait for Frankie to get off work so we could go pick up my new lenses and I would once again be able to read a book, or text on TV, or road signs!
We paid off the balance at one desk, were sent around to the optical shop, handed over our receipt and, after disappearing into the back (I swear I heard people singing “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”) the optical person came back out and timidly said:
“I’m sorry Mr. Allen but we weren’t sure you still wanted those lenses so we sent them back to the lab last week. I can call and get them here in a couple of days if you still want them.
“IF I STILL WANT THEM???? WE’VE BEEN FUNNELING EVERY SPARE NICKLE AND DIME INTO PAYING FOR THOSE THINGS FOR 4 MONTHS AND YOU WANT TO KNOW IF I STILL WANT THEM? LADY YOU BETTER CALL 911 AND TELL THEM I’M HERE AND WHAT YOU JUST TOLD ME!”
I must be getting more mellow as I age because I let Frankie lure me out of there before the police arrived. She promised to take me to McDonald’s. We haven’t been able to afford THAT for the past 4 months because we were paying on my glasses. Besides, she said if I got arrested I’d probably be in jail for years before she could save up enough to bail me out!
My new lenses are supposed to be ready for pick up by the time Frankie goes in for her eye exam, Wednesday. I’m going down to the courthouse Tuesday night and stealing that 105MM howitzer sitting out front…….just in case!
Clear, sunny skies brought on a terrific bout of spring fever today so Buddy and I went for a ride out on Graham’s Forge Road. We even talked Frankie into going along!
“How in the world did I end up on this side of the fence? The big metal monsters are whizzing past way too close for comfort. This idiot even stopped to point that long black thing with the shiny end at me and that can’t be good!”
“I’m telling you, Margot, if that boy had a lick of sense he’d be dangerous. Everybody knows geese are safer on this side of the fence.”
We’ve found several good paces to go fishing this year. Sitting on the bank under a shady tree, drowning worms is a wonderful way to pass the time away. I can’t wait for spring to arrive!
Every time I go past this old mill it seems like another little bit has fallen away or caved in.
After not seeing very many deer for most of the winter I rounded a bend in the road and found this doe looking at me, looking at her.
She stayed nearly motionless as I changed lenses to get a tighter shot.
Just a little further on I found another one watching us drive past! She was a little more bashful.
This one sure wasn’t, stopping to pose in the sunlight!
I’m not sure what species of hawk this is. In fact, when I first spotted it I thought it was an eagle because of it’s size. It was circling way out over the river and I got this shot at maximum zoom with my 55-300MM lens. Once again I’m drooling over that 700MM monster in the catalog but I’ll have to hit the lottery before Frankie lets me spend $4,000 on a lens!
We’ve had several days of nice weather recently and I have a bad case Spring Fever but winter isn’t done with us yet. The remnants of the latest storm to hammer the center of the country are moving in on us. We’re only supposed to get a couple of inches of snow out of this one but I’ve already had enough. My aching bones can do without the low pressure that accompanies bad weather.
The birds were mobbing the feeders this afternoon, always a more accurate predictor of bad weather than the meteorologists with their high tech equipment. The birds were so intent on getting their fill that I managed to get a few nice shots as they landed within just a few feet of my position just inside the shed door.
This Tufted Titmouse paused for a moment or two at my eye level. I was lucky to get a few clear frames of him because these little guys are speed demons!
The Northern Cardinals were more cautious so I used my long lens to get a few frames of them perched in the upper branches. Even though the female’s plumage (above) isn’t as brilliant as the male (below) I still think she’s a beautiful bird.
Carolina Chickadees are always the first to arrive at the feeders and these tiny birds are fearless! We’ve watched them gang up on European Starlings to drive them away when they try to bully the smaller birds.
Just as I was packing up to go back indoors this male Downy Woodpecker showed up. He spotted me and made a beeline for the woods. After I went inside he showed up again along with another male and 3 females.
The light was failing rapidly by this time and since I was watching them through the bedroom window I would be shooting through two panes of glass so I didn’t bother getting the camera out of the bag. There will be plenty of opportunities to shoot more woodpeckers as springs gets closer. It can’t happen soon enough to suit me!
As one weather system was moving out, and the next has yet to arrive, today was actually sort of pleasant. There were even blue spots between some of the clouds and that bright thing in the sky was visible now and then.
Budget constraints have put a damper on my roaming around the countryside lately but I filed our income taxes yesterday and was pleased to discover that will soon be a thing of the past……..for a while, at least. That horrible bellowing you no doubt heard yesterday afternoon was me wringing an incredible amount of money out of Uncle Sam, far more in fact that I could believe possible. So much so that I would like to take this opportunity to remind friends and family that smoking is no longer allowed in federal prisons so, rather that cartons of cigarettes I would ask that donations be made to my canteen fund should I find myself a guest of the government for a few years.
Anyway, Buddy is still learning how to read a map so that explains the roundabout path I followed on the way to pick THE BOSS up from work this afternoon.
He really blew it when he told me to take a right on Main Street instead of a left.
Actually I think he just wanted to get a look at these critters in full sunlight. There’s something different about them but I don’t know what it is. Well, actually I do; both the cows and the bulls have horns and they’re shaped differently.
Then there was this thing. Damned if I know what it is or was but it’s probably pretty old.
By this time Buddy found his place on the map. Heading back towards town we got a decent look at Reed Creek thanks to the bare trees.The old bridge in the background has been posted against trespassing and it looks like an excellent place to break a leg. Guess I’ll have to go back and get a few more shots of it from a better angle. Maybe if I bet Walter a bottle of vodka that he can’t jump it on his motorcycle I can get some great action shots. He’ll never make it across with me shooting at him. I might even use the camera for a few shots..
I’ve heard trains using this line, seen trains stopped on either side of the crossing and even seen a rail maintenance crew driving a modified truck along this line but, despite using this crossing at least a couple of hundred times I’ve never had to wait for a train to go by. This is why I feel comfortable stopping right in the middle of the crossing and firing off a few frames. Now that I’ve said that I’ll probably never get across again without waiting for a train!
The latest round of winter weather is moving our way: nothing as drastic as what most of the rest of the nation has been battling, just a little light freezing rain or sleet and maybe a few snow showers. The latter we can deal with easily. The former is just plain dangerous but we have reason to hope for the best.
I managed a few frames returning from town after dropping Frankie at work. With solid low hanging overcast the early morning light was very poor but, with a little editing, mediocre color images become fairly nice black and whites. If you look closely you’ll note the tree trunk is wrapped in heavy wire screen. The purpose is to keep deer from eating the tender bark.
Even the Canada Geese are hunkered down today in the chill breezes!
Looking out our bedroom window I found this male Slate Colored Dark Eyed Junco, who doesn’t need the black and white treatment, packing away the seed before the storm moves in. I’m optimistic about the upcoming weather because, while there were a few birds feeding Burd Town was by no means mobbed which is always a sign of heavy weather on the way.
On the way home from town this afternoon Frankie and I stopped by another pond in search of herons. While we didn’t find any we did get to witness a little drama. The overcast was even thicker but monochrome saved the day again.
We’re guessing that the two birds engaging in this territorial dispute are both ganders and the bird on the left is a goose they’re both interested in.
The honking at this point was near deafening!
I don’t know if the chaser got tired or decided the intruder had had enough at this point.
Once the second bird settled back onto the pond it appeared the dispute was over. But we soon heard honking from the bird left behind.
Whether she was cheering on a mate or giving him a hard time for letting the other bird off easy we have no idea. It was at this point that I heard a different sort of honking and looked up just in time to see the Big Brown Truck bearing down on me. I have to stay on the good side of those guys because, along with the FedEx lady they’re my chief source of new toys…….when Frankie lets me order camera gear online!
The weather has been cold and damp for the past couple of days keeping me close to home……and my meds, heating pad and Bertha, my La-Z-Boy recliner.
Today the sun rising over the mountains was a welcome sight so I took the long way home after dropping THE BOSS off at work.
You sometimes see the oddest things as the beams of sunlight cut through the mist and the trees.
Buddy didn’t know what to make of this critter! I love the way this guy’s coat gleams in the morning sun.
“What you lookin’ at?” The expression on Buddy’s face when he saw this said “What kind of dog is that?”
I need to start carrying my ladder on the roof rack of the truck. Apparently whoever owns this land thinks camels and llamas can jump like deer because that fence is at least 8 feet high! Even standing on the running board I still had to shoot through the chain link.
There are usually several horses in this field but they weren’t around this morning. Neither was that HUGE whitetail buck I’ve spotted on several occasions. That deer sure is camera shy!
The way the morning sun colors the rising fog and the trees along either side of the creek is deceptive. It’s really chilly out there, especially with the howling winds bringing the next blast of Arctic air down upon us. At least we’re not getting buried in snow the way most of the country is…..so far. Winter ain’t over yet!