July 31, 2016
Stuck in a Hard Place
I've had some plants out on the back porch getting watered by Mother Nature in a rare rain today. Although still sprinkling, I was looking at the sky judging if it was going to drop more precipitation or not. I heard something drilling on the bird feeder and turned to see who was so brave to be there with me just 2 feet away.
I didn't see anything, but heard the noise again, so looked on the back side. Nope, nothing there. Then I looked in the lower port hole:
I thought it was chippy I was seeing (Rita has been watching him most of the day as he shovels seed into his mouth and carries them off for future feasting). I watched for a minute and only saw breathing motions, so decided maybe he was stuck. I poked it with my finger (barely as the cage is several inches away from the tube), and it turned a git. And I saw this.
Her wing was twisted a bit, so I turned the feeder over on its side and she repositioned a bit, but not enough.
I put on a garden glove, and poked at her neck a couple of times, and she was finally able to free herself and fly off. Glad that worked, it would have been quite the chore to take the feeder apart.
While outside yesterday, I noticed a very large wasp sitting on the edge of the 4 wheel dump cart (the first pic taken by my pohone, the second by my camera which I had to go get)
Turns out that is a Giant Ichneumon Wasp. This particular one is a female and her body was about 2" long with the ovipositor a little longer. I never found a statement on Google that anyone had ever been stung - although supposedly they are capable if they feel threatened. This one was very docile as I got in close to get a good picture using the micro function of my camera. The reason I even noticed the wasp was because I was moving the cart back and forth, using it as a step stool (good thing I wasn't at work OSHA would have had a heart attack). The wasp never even moved or even seemed agitated. She may have been newly pupated and drying her wings (even though she moved them a bit, they never seemed to fully unfold, so may have still been damp).
The adults don't eat but the female lays an egg in the burrow of a wood wasp larva and the Gian Ichneumon larva uses that as its meal all winter long. There are several large, old and decaying tree stumps about 15 feet from where I found her, so maybe that will be her final destination. That mean looking ovipositor is used to drill into the wood for the egg laying and they listen for specific sounds the wood wasp larva makes in order to find the perfect place to drill. It is incredible to think that they can determine the type of larva in the tree just by listening! After the GI larva pupates, the adult emerges between June and September.
Although not rare, they live in woody areas from Canada down to Mexico, I don't remember seeing one before, so I'm guessing they aren't "common", as one usually thinks of the word.
July 24, 2016
No More Studs
Last weekend I got more sheet rock and finished covering the studs in the bathroom. While doing so, I insulated the spaces that shared a wall with the bedroom closet - massive cold air comes in form that ceiling during winter, and all the water supply pipes, as well as the vent pipe, go thru that wall, so I figured it was prudent to do so. Additionally, I had to install 1" thick "spacers" on the studs as the vent pipe angle sticks out past the studs by about 1/2". I was wondering why there were little chunks of wood all over on that wall when I tore it out last year - I figured it out :). However, I decided instead of using scrap chunks of would, I would use some 6' pieces for dry wall stability and my sanity in trying to hist them with the drywall screws.
Notice that I not only installed the new vanity light, but also moved the box over so that the light will be centered with the bathroom sink (when I get the new vanity in) - the old vanity is 30" and new is 36". And, no, I didn't move it 6", just 3". I have started the taping and mudding process this weekend.
I pass Deering's "View" every day and it is always pretty, but I had to turn around to take pictures one evening.
Oh, and the video catches the music from my MP3 player - although a rock song, I thought it kind of went with the view.
July 17, 2016
Fuzzy and Rita Update
When we last left Rita, she was ensconced in the craft room with a gate between her and Fuzzy.
Oh sure, Fuzzy could, and did, jump the fence, but I made it quite clear to him that was not acceptable. Twice, the first day Rita was here, he jumped the fence and started yowling and hissing, and generally trying to chase her around. Both times he got his butt lifted out of the room and put outside Since he wanted to be in to check out the cat, he got the picture pretty quickly. As an observation, it is a testament to his temperament and level-headedness that he never tried to claw or bite me as I was non-too-gently getting him out of the room, even though he was worked up about the strange cat.
Rita also could jump the gate, but chose not to as she realized her safety depended on her staying in.
The night of the 4th (ir early morning of the 5th), she jumped the gate and started exploring. I was asleep on the couch and Fuzzy was sleeping on my legs (his favorite place to sleep). I was suddenly jerked out of sleep by growling and hissing. Fuzzy was swatting at something under the couch, and I realized it was Rita. I grabbed her and placed her back in the room, where she stayed until the afternoon of the 5th. Once again she jumped out and this time Fuzzy just watched her.
I left the gate up in case Rita needed to jump back in for safety (her food and litter box were in there too). By Wednesday evening, after I got home from work, it was evident that the gate was a moot point, so I took it down. Byt the 9th, I was able to move the litter box downstairs. interestingly enough, I still feed her in that room as she doesn't want to jump on the table that Fuzzy's food is on.
Gratuitous pic of Fuzzy
Last Sunday I was a couch potato (reading), and the cats took full advantage.
Last night I was vacuuming and as I came around from the living room toward the kitchen, here is what I saw (neither is a fan of the vacuum - LOL).
Rita has not been outside yet. She only evinces interest if I am outside, but the minute I open the door she leaves the kitchen, so she isn't much interested - except when the vacuum is out :), but even then when I approached the door she went into the office. She also likes to chase the bugs on the other side at night.
Although not fast friends, they are doing well. They already get along better than Fuzzy got along with Tory, so all is good.
On July 4th, after mowing, I was puttering around in the yard. I planted a Sweet Autumn Clematis (paniculata) next to the willow tree and decided to just mulch over the area between the willow and the ornamental plum tree (I'm not sure of that, but I believe so). That area is the hill between the fill that the house sits on and the swamp next door, so it is a pain to mow. And, I'm thinking of placing small shrubs there, so that would be the first step anyway. I had bought the clematis at a local nursery 4-6 weeks prior and it had been patiently waiting in a pot. But as a vigorous climber (up to 30'), it needed room to stretch out.
The "trellis" is the old Aluminum grill from the old storm door that I replaced a couple of years ago. I have been kicking it around (literally - every time I mowed I had to move it out of my way), but had hung onto it for just such a duty.
While I was covering the area with landscape fabric and mulch I smelled smoke. I started looking around and then I noticed smoke rising from behind a house down the road. There had been fireworks from that way the night before, and the ground was really dry (we are 5-7" behind in rain) so I jumped in the truck to investigate. Fortunately I saw someone burning out a garden area, or weedy area or something; the fire was low and was being tended with a hose nearby.
In progressing down the street to an intersection so I could turn around, I saw a neighbor walking her dog (I only know her by her dog and have only met her once), and stoped to chat for a second. I mentioned that I was investigating the smoke, but saw it wasn't anything to be concerned about. Turns out, that was her house and it was her brother helping her get the house and yard cleaned up to put the house on the market.
She asked if I wanted some landscape timbers - they were extras and knew I was doing yard work, so thought of me. Strangely enough, the day before I had been at H*me Depot for another reason, and looked at landscape timbers. However, what they had was crappy looking and not worth the price they were asking, so I didn't get any. I gladly accepted and she said she would deliver them later.
So, I went back to mulching and pretty soon I heard a 4-wheeler coming down the road. The neighbor was letting her nephew drive the 4-wheeler with a plastic pallet filled with timbers. They dropped them off while I joked it was funny that I was giving away a pile of wood while they were delivering wood.
We thanked each other - I for her generosity and delivery, and she for me for getting them out of her yard while knowing they would go to good use, and they went back to her house to continue cleaning up.
Thank you neighbor!
July 4th weekend I got some outside work done that was sorely needed. Sapling had really taken over the back of the property. I was noticeably mowing less, and I don't have very much property anyway, so I decided a bunch of them need to go. Another reason for thinning out the trees is that there are 3 black cherries growing back there. Although very tall, they do not do well when crowded and getting too much shade from other trees.
I had started by using hand loppers to get what I could (done the last weekend of June). Even some of those saplings were impressive in size as they were up to 15 feet tall. but with a trunk size of 3" or less. But, when I went to start my CL chainsaw, the beast wouldn't go, so I couldn't finish the job. I ordered a refurb'ed battery powered chainsaw ( pulling a gas powered saw's cord is very difficult for me) and it arrived before July 4 weekend, so I was in business.
The saplings I took down wer up to 25 feet tall.. I'll just show the before (after cutting with loppers in June) and after cutting with the chainsaw comparisons. First set is to the right as looking out the back door. (don't pay attention to the pile of limbs - I had already made 2 trips to the dump to get rid of the leavings so it is not indicative of anything)
A little to the left of the first pics - pretty much looking directly out the back door
To the left looking out the back door - note the white bird bath base sitting in the woods. When I moved in 3 years ago, it was clearly visible as it is in the "after" pic.
I didn't get any before/after comparisons in the yard past where the fence ends (there is another 30-40 feet, but you get the idea. All told, I took down 17 sapling from the back, and 3 very old lilacs that had been strangled by an Oriental Bittersweet in the front (just the chainsaw totals).
I limbed out all the saplings and took those to the brush pile at the dump. I cut up the trunks to 6-8' lengths and set them out with a sign for anyone that wanted to take them. I wasn't real hopeful as most of that was green wood (stated on the sign), but some was dead - and you never know what someone may find useful.
Tuesday after 4th of July, I took a vacation day and used that to take everything to the dump. It took 3 loads
I was going to make the fourth load the trunk material I had set by the side of the road, but just as I got home from the third load, a lady was finishing up loading her truck with it. I pulled up and told her of her great timing - this is the pile of wood that she scored.
Although more saplings need to come down, I am happy with the progress I made.
July 04, 2016
Spirit of America
It has been lonely without a lap kitty in the house. Sure, Fuzzy keeps me company, along with Birdie, but Fuzzy is definitely not a lap cat and although not stand-offish, is not as willing to be sociable at a drop of a hat. Tory, since moving into this house, had always jumped in my lap every time I sat down. Didn't matter where he was, or if he was in the deep of sleep, he knew when I sat down and would come over to sit in my lap for a time (annoying when I was try to eat - but still endearing).
Last Sunday I decided to go to the Animal Rescue League (ARL) in Bedford to see if there were any grown cats that I thought would fit in the household. I had a specific wish list for a cat; gets along with other cats (some don't), somewhat outgoing (although I could work with a shy cat), must be a lover - after all I want a lap kitty. I was also looking for an adult younger or older didn't matter) and preferably female (spayed of course) as I felt Fuzzy was more apt to accept a female as to another male. Color was unimportant, although I do tend to favor darker colors such as black and gray with black stripes. Additionally, hair length was unimportant.
The ARL had several cats that I fancied, but most were not good with other cats. Then I saw some posters of cats that were held in some of the offices (allowed to roam free during the day in their designated office. One, a white cat named Spirit, was said to be good with other animals and the adoption fee was already paid by a good Samaritan. I asked to see her, and off we went to her assigned abode.
Spirit, a 4 YO white cat with light blue eyes and red ears (actually the blood going thru her ears), was walking toward the door as we opened it. Although she didn't rush up to the stranger (me), she came over within a minute or two to see what was up. after petting her and talking to her, she was quite vocal - although a soft vocalization, I decided that she would be a great new companion. I started the adoption process, and that is when they discovered she had dental issues and hadn't been tested for FeLV - a requirement before she went to a new home. She had been recently been transferred from a rescue in the northern part of the state, and apparently all of her records hadn't made it into the computer yet, which was the reason the dental and testing issues were not known at the time.
The ARL didn't know when she would be ready since they depend on vets volunteering their time to do needed surgeries and they said they would get back to me when everything was set. Friday, they called to let me know that the test had come back negative and that three back teeth had been removed. She would be done with her meds Saturday morning, so would be ready to pick up after that. Was I still interested? Of course I was.
Saturday afternoon, I picked her up - here is a picture of her in the office as we were waiting for the paper work to go thru.
Even though her adoption fee had been paid, I made a donation that was equal to what it would have been. She talked to me a bit in the truck as we were headed home, but she settled for travel fairly quickly.
I had readied the craft room, the coolest main-floor room in summer, to receive her - that would be here "home" for a while until Fuzzy figured out she was part of the family. I let her out of the carrier and she immediatly scooted for cover. A couple of hours later I went and checked, and she had eaten the few kibbles I had placed in the food bowl and gone back into hiding. The next time I checked, she came out and greeted me - and wouldn't stay still for a picture :)
Since then, she has claimed a window seat on top of Cop Car's old sewing machine. Fuzzy still isn't enamored of the idea, but he has quit standing outside the door and yowling/growling at her. He does check out the door several times a day. The door is cracked open a couple of inches, with a baby gate in front so Fuzzy can't go in, but they can get used to each other's scents and presence.
Meanwhile, every time I go in there she greets me, talks to me, and presents herself for belly rubs. Yep, that's right, she thinks she's a dog :) She is very affectionate and she is very good with her claws; when she kneads, she kneads air.
As for her name, Spirit just doesn't flow from the tongue. I have decided that Spirit is short for Spirit of America (being she is red, whit and blue) and have shortened that to Rita (spiRIT of America).
Squirrels and a Bird
To keep the squirrels off the bird feeders, I have been getting big blocks of seed and placing them close to the tree line out back. This has produced interesting behaviour by the critters. Namely, that the gray squirrels, who normally don't tolerate reds being close (and vice-versa), are peacably eating side by side.
And, a bird chose to alight on the fence as I was taking pics of the squirrels.
And, a manipulated pic of said bird