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Friday, April 30, 2010

Reminder POST!!

 Today is my warning reminder
that
you only have until MIDNIGHT
to
enter
my
FREE MONTHLY PHOTO CONTEST!

April's theme is:

"Rain, Fog, Mist or Dark Skies"

So, get outside if you are having gloomy weather,
or
dig through your archives
and
FIND ME A PHOTO!

Then, enter your photo using THESE RULES....


Photo anything that fits this month's theme!

Here is one I took a while back:

If I can do it, you can do it!

And for this month, I have lessened the rules
and you can even submit a photo that you have already published on your blog.

Don't have a blog?

Not to worry..you don't have to have a blog to enter...
just join on as a Follower to my blog (it costs you nothing and no one will stalk you I promise)
and enter your photo by midnight tonight!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

For the Birds.....

One thing that I love most about Spring is watching birds.

Actually, strike that....

I love watching birds pretty much ANY time of the year!!

So today, I thought I would post some photos I have taken of some birds sighted over the past few weeks.


I love the "rainbow colors" hidden in the European Starling's black feathers, and when walking by this old building,  I caught them peeking out of the roofline:



The European Starlings look very black. At first.  But if you catch them in the light?: WOW!:


Now, I see tons of Cardinals on everybody else's blogs.

And I whine.

A. Lot.

About never seeing them here.

About how shy they are when I DO see them.

So, a few weeks ago, my hubby called me away from the computer (the NERVE!)
to tell me to hurry up, he spied one lone Cardinal, hiding near our lilac bush.

So I ran for the camera and shot this shot:
(Gosh, I never get over the thrill of seeing one. They are magnificent!!)





Oooooo, I was in HEAVEN!:
But, true to form...as soon as I took this shot, off he flew....and we haven't seen any since!






We have had woodpeckers visiting us all winter and still this spring. Just look at this cute face!:
(Maybe a little Nair around the chin might be in order?  Just sayin'...)





Love that shot of red on his head!:






And, we have been blessed all winter and still this spring with Evening Grosbeaks.
I love the males' bright yellow feathers!:


These little creatures (birds) truly enrich our lives....
next time you are outside, look up, down and all around....
at these wonders of Nature...

********************************************************************************
Time is RUNNING OUT!
Don't forget to enter a photo into my FREE PHOTO CONTEST by midnight, April 30th.

You DO KNOW that is tomorrow, don't you folks?

This month's theme is:
"Rain, Mist, Fog or Dark Skies"

It is easy....just follow THESE SIMPLE RULES...
Hurry!....
if you don't have dark skies or mist or rain or fog where you are today (or tomorrow) , dig in your archives...
go ahead...
I will even remove one rule for this month...it's okay if you already published your prized photo on your blog, you can use it for April's contest as a bonus!

So, get it in to me by midnight tomorrow night......
I'm waitttttttttting...............................

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sugar Shack

For years, my husband's side of the family has had a "Sugar Shack" to
make maple syrup from the sap of the trees on their land.

If you haven't ever tasted REAL maple syrup, please make it a point to do so.

Nothing else tops the taste!

So this year, when the sap started running, I asked the cousins if we could stop by the Sugar Shack
and
take some photos of the process so you can see how it is done.

They happily obliged me, and called the last day of March and told us to hurry over
because the sap was almost done dripping because of the warmer-than-usual spring days.

In order to get good sap output, the days need to be warmer and the nights cold.

This year, our evenings were warmer than usual, which for maple syrup making, is not good.

So, upon receiving the call, off we went to take some photos.


This is a picture of their Sugar Shack!
I loved their homemade sign.







Right outside the back of the shack, was the much needed woodshed and pile of wood.
You need this to keep the fire burning to boil down the sap into the syrup:



And some other tools you might need?
Snowshoes!
Because often, when the sap begins running, there is often a LOT of snow still on the ground:





You can gather the sap from the trees in several ways.
Usually, you can just tap the trees and hang a bucket and the sap can be gathered there.
You  have to go and get the buckets and pour them out every day:




Here is a closeup of the tap in the tree, yielding the yummy sap:




But, the fastest way, is to use runs of lonnnnnng tubing that twist through the woods and connect downhill:





See how the tapped tree is hooked to the tubing instead of dripping into the bucket?:


The buckets are downhill, where all the tubing runs the sap into larger buckets.
Some Sugar Shacks have the tubing run right down into the Shack and into big vats where it can be steamed:





But our cousins just hook the smaller tubing into larger tubing and into larger buckets:






See all the tubing running from wayyyyyy up the hill on all those trees?:
(Isn't  that amazing?)



Here is a photo of some of the large vats where the sap is stored before being boiled down in the steamer:





Here is some sap that has been in the steamer a while. YUMMMM!:





At the Sugar Shack, they have a large steamer and also use small stoves to help boil down the sap too:




Here are the Sugar Shack owners, Mary and John, standing by the BIG steamer.  Aren't they just the cutest??:
(And they are as sweet as the syrup. Genuine, sincere and sooo nice.)



Here is John by the steamer. He asked if I wanted a "ghost picture" of him behind the steam. :0}





Checking the syrup. Is it done YET???:





I thought the large steamer was amazing!
What was even more amazing is that our cousins took an older steamer and made it into this gigantic one all by themselves and set up the Sugar Shack to be a well-oiled operation!:




The secret pantry full of little bottles of finished syrup!!!:

And did I leave empty handed?

Oh, no....I did NOT.

Even though it was a bad year for output, they gave us a bottle of syrup to go home with...
to which I was SO grateful.....

Guess who's  having pancakes these days???

We would like to thank John, Mary and cousin-in-law Dan for all the time they took to tour us around their maple syrup Sugar Shack operation and for being such gracious and generous hosts....
it will be a memory I will cherish for a long, long time...
********************************************************************************
Don't forget to enter my FREE April PHOTO CONTEST!!
This month's theme is:
"RAIN, FOG, MIST or DARK SKIES"

Just follow THESE RULES and send in your photo by midnight, April 30th, 2010!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A New Fundraiser...

Yes, indeed!

It is time again for some Weird News Articles, along with MY COMMENTS in bold italics!
***************************************************************************

WOMAN SELLS SOULS TO HIGHEST BIDDER

(03-08) 20:33 PST WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) --
The rare spirits that went under the gavel at a recent online auction in New Zealand weren't aged brandies or hard-to-find liqueurs.
Instead, two glass vials purportedly containing the ghosts of two dead people sold for $2,830 New Zealand dollars ($1,983) at an auction that ended Monday night.

The "ghosts" were put up for bidding by Avie Woodbury from the southern city of Christchurch. She said they were captured in her house and stored in glass vials with stoppers and dipped in holy water, which she says "dulls the spirits' energy."

She said they were the spirits of an old man who lived in the house during the 1920s, and a powerful, disruptive little girl who turned up after a session with a spirit-calling Ouija board.

Since an exorcism at the property last July led to their capture, there has been no further spooky activity in the house, she said.

The auction attracted more than 214,000 page views and dozens of questions before the winning bid, Trademe auction site spokesman Paul Ford said Tuesday. The name of the winning bidder was not released.

Woodbury said that once an "exorcist's fee" has been deducted, the proceeds of the spirit sale will go to the animal welfare group the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

******************************************************************
1. How many ways can you spell "SUCKER"????

2.  "The name of the winner was not released".  Umm, yeah.  I am sure (s)he wouldn't want the ridicule that would definitely be received.

3. Remind me to buy some holy water, so I can "dull the spirits' energy"...I mean, you wouldn't want them to hold wild parties at your house in the jars, would you?

4. I TOLD my kids not to play with that Ouji Board!  They are dangerous!!!  See? This one called up a little girl!

5. An exorcism "led to their capture"???  Well, heck.....this is a great fundraiser, people!! No more baking cookies for those bake sales, no more rummage sales or craft sales needed.....just hold an exorcism, get  your glass jars ready (along with the obligatory holy water) and capture those buggers in a jar....then auction the spirits off and Whola!  you can raise a thousand or so bucks.
We will go into the ghost capturing business for fundraising...."Ghosts R Us, for your Bucks" is what we will name it.....

6. Wonder what the "exorcist fee" was?  How much did these suckers pay for a person to say they captured spirits in a jar of holy water????  Maybe THAT would be more profitable than the Ghosts R Us, for Your Bucks business...we will just be the ghostbusters.....!!!

7. Poor economy? Phssht....no problem.....we'll just go capture all the spirits, put them in a jar and make a million dollars together.....meet you at the holy water supply store.  I'll be the one wearing the big smile......

Friday, April 23, 2010

Doe a Deer, a Female Deer....

We went out in the woods for a drive a few weeks ago (I pre-published this post)
and
we had the fortune to see several deer!

Here are some of the deer that we saw on our journey:



Four in one group!:





We were so happy to see they looked healthy after the long winter!:





This could be a male, without his horns!:





I thought it was funny that I caught this one licking his face!:



This is either a menopausal female (notice the beard hairs) or a male!:





Here is a closeup. Lovin' those beard hairs!:






This is a backed up shot of the one licking it's face:




Sniffing the ground, and grazing:


I hope you enjoyed seeing them as much as we enjoyed spotting them in the woods!!!

*******************************************************************
Don't forget to enter my FREE April PHOTO CONTEST!!
Look in your archives or get outside and enter a photo to fit this month's theme, which is:
"RAIN, FOG, MIST or DARK SKIES"

Follow THESE RULES and send me your photo by midnight, April 30th, 2010!
C'mon, you know it will be fun!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Local Police Reports!

 Yes!  Time again for MORE LOCAL POLICE REPORTS, along with MY COMMENTS in bold italics!

Just the other day, this jewel was in our local police reports...read the circled entry on the article below!:



 

****************************************************************************
1.  Oh Boy....!!  Does the word Alzheimer's come to mind??

2. I want whatever drug she is taking. NOW.

3. A "suspicious silver and shiny substance falling from sky"????  Wow.  Maybe the Aliens were peeing?  Maybe a fairy was sprinkling fairy dust?   I SO TOTALLY want to see this silver and shiny substance exactly the way SHE saw it.

4. I want to give an AWARD to the person who took this call at the Police station for not immediately cracking up giggling so hard that (s)he could not finish the report.  Or at least for not putting the caller on speakerphone for the staffs' entertainment.

5. How cold WERE her hands that the snowflake did not immediately melt in her hand, so that she didn't have to call the police in the first place....

6. Besides, why did she call the POLICE even if she thought it was a "suspicious substance" falling from the sky??  Maybe HAZMAT or  UFON, but not the local police!

7. Maybe she was from the south???  Never saw snow before???

8. It "looked like a snowstorm but knew it wasn't snowing".......hmmm...I'd call this DENIAL, folks...she REALLY must have wanted spring and just totally refused to believe it could possibly be SNOW! 

9. Maybe if we ALL denied seeing any more snow, if it in fact continues to fall....from now on, when I refer to snow after March 15th....I am just going to call it a "suspicious silver and shiny substance"....................are you WITH ME ON THIS???

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Swans....

On a trip down to the southern part of the U.P., we went by Lake Michigan again.

Right outside of Escanaba, Michigan
on  a the only little patch
of open water.....

I

saw

THIS!:
Two lovely tundra swans swimming about!




It is very early up here for sightings of swans!  They usually don't migrate up this far north until April, but this has been a warmer-than-usual March...(I am writing this on March 27th and prepublished this post):





So beautifully graceful!:
(Of course, I made my husband turn around on a busy four-lane highway so I could jump out of the car to capture them!)





But just LOOK at him/her:
Wouldn't YOU jump out of a car to see them up closer?





And not ONE beauty, but TWO!!:




It MADE MY DAY!:





Like a dream...

I hope, like me....

looking at them
made you
calmer...

  quieter...........

and
even more thankful
for
Nature's gifts.

********************************************************************************
Have you entered my FREE PHOTO CONTEST for April yet?
You don't have to be a Blogger to enter!

Just look up the RULES  HERE.

This month's theme is:
RAIN, FOG, MIST or DARK SKIES
Enter by midnight, April 30, 2010!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Freedom Flight....

We were heading down on a trip to visit a friend and on the side of the road was:


THIS!!!!:
He was eating road kill and then took off in a wonderful, wide wing-spreaded flight!




A glorious sight!:





This is an over-exposed shot of him on the side of the road, right before he flew:
(I was in a hurry. It was very sunny....so I just shot the shot from my camera, no time to make adjustments!)




When he took off, he soared and soared above my head.  I thanked him for letting me take his photo, but I was also a little scared he was going to land on my head with those claws!:






Here is a little blurry version of a closeup:





Look at the wingspan and those feathers!!:




And those white tailfeathers fanning out!:





Wow!!!:





One gorgeous, huge eagle:

I know they can be mean and kill other animals.

But I am still in awe of this majestic breed of birds.....
and I was SO happy to catch one on camera that day.

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REMINDER: All photographs on this blog are COPYRIGHTED.
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About Me

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I retired in June 2008 and started my blog in November 2008. I worked at several jobs as a Registered Nurse prior to retirement. I LOVE being retired! Blogging has offered me a whole new venue to start writing again and to share new hobbies such as gardening, birdwatching and sharing my nature photography. If you like my blog, PLEASE click on "follow this blog". Having a lot of followers reading my blog gives me incentive to continue to do photography and to continue to write. I also LOVE comments, so I encourage you to leave me a comment after you read my posts. Thanks everyone, for taking the time to read me!!

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