Saturday, August 27, 2011

What are the chances...

I was recently driving to Tulsa to see my brother, DJ, and my sweet grandson, Tully.  Anyone who makes that same drive on Highway 33 knows they have been repaving the road.  I was just thinking the other day how lucky I have been the last few trips and have caught the one-lane area just right and didn't have to stop and wait for on-coming traffic!  Thank goodness the one-lane part finally seems to be over... now, if they will just get the new asphalt marked for passing/no passing zones as well as the edge of the road.  I miss that edge marking during night-time driving!

While in route, I was in a line of traffic with about 10 cars, me being almost last in line.  I was  approaching one of those hills that has the extra passing lane, of which most cars are oblivious to because they are not marked right now... but, yes, I do know they are there!

All of the cars ahead of me continued to stay in the left lane, so just as I got to the second lane about to  pull into it-- one car pulls into the lane before me!  I'm thinking, "okay buddy, GO, if you're going to pull out there, we have about 8 cars to pass!!

To my disbelief, he started passing everyone!!  Thank goodness, because I was right behind him.  We managed to get around the whole string of cars.  He continued on a nice pace and I didn't feel the need to pass him... and for most of you who actually know me, I am not too good at following anyone!

We both turned onto the Turner Turnpike.  He stopped to pay his toll and I continued through the Pike Pass lane and zipped on.  This guy caught me about the time I was exiting onto Creek Turnpike.  He followed me for awhile and we rolled along at about 80 mph... just barely over the speed limit of 75 mph.

As we got closer to the intersecting Highway 75 he passed me; so I continued to follow him on in to Tulsa.  He exited at Memorial Road, which is exactly where I needed to exit... I thought, "how funny!"

But the kicker is -- we both turned right on Memorial and then immediately left into the "Bill Knight Ford" dealership!

We also both pulled around to the parts department and I'm thinking "no way!!!"  Of course, when I got out of my car I had to say something to him.  I asked him, "what are the chances that I would follow you all the way from Hwy 33 to this dealership?!?  He laughed and asked, "Are you driving that blue Cadillac?"  I told him, "yes!"  He then said, "Well, you are driving too fast!"  We both laughed!

I went in and got the part I was there to pickup for Dennis, and on my way back out to my car, I looked at the young man who was then shuffling stuff from his jeep to another car and I noticed he had a Florida tag... I asked him where on 33 did he come from?  He said that he actually had driven in from Wichita, Kansas!  I just shook my head in disbelief... honestly, what are the chances that we would both pull into the exact same place in Tulsa!!!   There are millions of places we could have each been going!

Funny things happen in life and we just have to enjoy the moments!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hummingbirds cooling off...

This blog is about my birds and the scorching hot temperaturess we have had here in Northeastern Oklahoma.  I am thankful for the much needed rain that we finally received, but the previous run of temps of well over 100 degrees for 51 days during these past couple months seems to almost be a norm now. And, it is not over yet, we are expecting more days this week!  We broke our record set in 1980.

While the high temperatures and drought conditions are hard for us as humans, it is also really tough for the birds.  A couple weeks back, I was watering a shady area that had some shriveled-up Vinca groundcover growing under a group of trees.  The sprinkler ran all night and was running through the morning.  I went out to check on moving it and realized it seemed to have barely dampened the baked ground.  I also noticed numerous birds flying and sitting in the trees as the sprinkler was rotating.  I went and got my binoculars to view more closely what species of birds were enjoying the water and coolness.
This is the wooded area with the Vinca groundcover that I was watering.
You can see the many tree branches and places for the birds to perch.
I scanned the surroundings with my binoculars, some birds didn't even move when the sprinkler would spray the water on the branch they were sitting on; others would flutter from branch to branch.  As I zoomed and observed them more closely, some of them were literally sitting there with their beaks open and panting. I honestly had never observed that mannerism from any bird.  Some would drink from the droplets of water on the leaves and you could see them fluffing and bathing as well.

I sat and watched them for awhile through the binoculars and noticed numerous species of birds enjoying the fresh water -- Blue Jays, Robins, Cardinals (male, female, juveniles), Grackles, Cowbirds, Red-Wing Blackbirds, Starlings, Chickadees, Gold Finch, Nut Hatches, a Mockingbird, Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Wrens, and several Hummingbirds.  I know I have left a few species off the list, but it was unreal to see such a variety of birds in such a small space as they flew in and out.  The space size would be equivalent to half of a circle of a normal rotating sprinkler.  The perimeter of water was only covering part of the shaded woody area.  The birds really did not seem to mind each other nor did they seem to mind that I was sitting close by.  They were so desperate for the water itself and the coolness.  I think it was 109 on that given day.

It was on either ABC World News or maybe Good Morning America that I recently watched where many of the Mississippi Kite baby birds were jumping from their nests before they were ready to fly... because they were literally baking in their nests!  The news person was reporting about the rescue center available for that specific bird because there were so many of them in distress.

They had video tape of birds that were still in their nest but, they were sitting there panting.  This news airing was why I knew what my birds were doing sitting there with their beaks open-- panting!  It was amazing and sad to watch in person in my own gardens.  I didn't even know birds panted.

So needless to say, after seeing the news story and then observing my own birds and their desperation and need for water, I did not turn the sprinkler off that morning, but rather I waited until later that evening.  And yes, I have turned it on a few other days since for them; granted my thirsty vinca enjoys a drink at the same time.

The same day that I was observing all of my feathered friends enjoying the sprinkler,  I hung a hummingbird feeder in the area while the sprinkler was running and immediately the hummingbirds came to it.
This is the first hummingbird that approached the feeder within minutes of me hanging it.
That encouraged me to place a sprayer hose under another hummingbird feeder in my front flowerbed.  I waited for the area to be shaded about mid-day and then wedged the hose under the lid of the planter with it watering the gardens.  I "killed two birds with one stone"-- watered my gardens and cooled my birds!   Immediately the hummingbirds came to enjoy the spray of water.  I caught sight of one of them who just flew and stayed in the middle of the fine spray of water for quite a while.  I tried to take a picture, but I had too much distance and the little bird just did not show up very well through the water and against the plants and shrubbery in the background.  I was afraid to get too close or move knowing he would fly away and I respected that he needed the water.

I managed to inch my way closer and here are a few pictures that I did capture:
You can see the orange sprayer on the hose wedged under the lid of the planter.
I later adjusted it to spray in a more upward direction.
There are two birds sitting at the feeder.
I have to laugh, one of the perches was broken
and it figures that is the very spot that one of them landed.
His little neck would not reach that far to feed!
He ended up scooting over and they fed from the same flower.
Here you can see the spray better and the birds certainly didn't mind!
The spray was just in front of the feeder and the mist of water traveled to the feeder.
I turned the feeder around because this side seemed to be where they wanted to feed.
He then had a perch to land on and not have to continually fly and burn his calories.

I know these are not great pictures of how pretty the hummingbirds really are, but you get the gist of the sprayer and how much they enjoyed the water and coolness.  I was just glad to see them sharing rather than fighting!  These two sat and ate together for quite awhile.

Dennis observed one hummingbird drinking from the spillway of our spa one day.

It was interesting that this little bird drank from the running water while in flight.  Usually I see them drink when the sprinklers are running and they drink from the water droplets on the plants.

As you can tell, I love to observe the birds on our property.  I recently wrote about the beautiful Painted Buntings who visited.  I also catch myself being drawn to watching birds when we travel-- Belize, Costa Rica, and South Africa all have fabulous birds!  I have some great pictures but was not blogging during the Belize or Costa Rica adventures.  My blog began with our travels to South Africa.

You can click on the bird link at the top of this page under our blog picture to read other bird stories or here is a direct link to my recently updated Amazing Birds blog I previously posted while traveling in South Africa:

Over the years, I have grown to be a gardener by hobby and I may now claim to be a birder by hobby.  I hope you enjoy your own feathered friends!

Quick links to other South Africa bird blog stories:
Morning in Knysna
Grey Heron Rules
African Fish Eagle

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tully 4 months old on Aug 5, 2011...

It is hard to believe that my precious grandson, Tully, is already 4 months old.  He is growing so much and is absolutely a bundle of joy!  He is reaching for everything...
and his toes seem to be one of his favorite things!
As Ashley would say, he is "scooching" around on the floor.  We laugh because he goes backwards rather than forward.  We don't call it a crawl just yet, but he is starting to be on the move!
He will start one place in the bed and end up in another.
He has no problem rolling from front to back or back to front.
We love his giggles!
We love him being so inquisitive.
...and so sweet!
...and rarely so still!
He is always wondering what we are doing.
Tully is such a happy baby boy and so loved!
Thanks to all of you reading my blog and for taking time to share in my life and watching our little Tully grow!  You can read more on this link to Ashley's blog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb...

I feel this is an incredible children's book.
The illustrations are fun and a sure bet to keep your child's attention!
My smart little grandson, Tully, seems to already know the book...
(July 28, 2011)
(July 28, 2011)
(August 8, 2011)
Dum ditty dum ditty, dum dum dum!  Rings on fingers, rings on thumb, drum drum drum drum drum drum drum!"  The story obviously goes on... but after 29 years I can still almost recite it from memory.

I think every child ends up with their favorite story book and this one just happened to be Ashley's favorite.  She literally wore the spine of the hardback book out.  I cannot count the number of times we read that book and sometimes it was over and over in one sitting!  And if Tully has given us any sign... it may be one of his favorite books too!

He really does not seem to be picky on what part of his hand or which fingers go in his mouth, and certainly he knows where that thumb goes!  I remember Ashley sucked her thumb right after birth and no, we didn't have any major teeth damage or shifting; and yes, she did out grow it... so we'll think positive for Tully too!

Here is one link to the hardcover book on Amazon if you are interested:  Hands, Hand, Fingers, Thumb.   It is not expensive and it is a book easily memorized and children lean to read it themselves quickly.

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb is a great, rhythmic poem about monkeys playing drums, with an infectious refrain:  "Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum."  It opens with one monkey drumming on his drum with one thumb, and progresses until "millions of monkeys" are drumming on drums (dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum).

It is not just the refrain that makes this book so great... it is the monkeys illustrated by Eric Gurney.  Each monkey bears an expression of such incredible mischief.
Here is another page...

There is a pocket-size edition with hardboard pages that would be great for road trips, but the original (full version) edition has more cool pages.

Happy reading with your children and grandchildren!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mr. Turtle, will you be my friend...

Ashley and John are traveling so I am grand-dog sitting.  First day, Zachry drags up a turtle... he was so cute!  He was looking face to face as if to say...
Will you be my friend?
I had opened the breezeway door to let him back in when I noticed this tortoise on the rug, I assume he brought it home to show me!
Poor turtle is topsy-turvy!
Zac very gently turned it over...
...and slid it off the rug with his paw. 
It slid much easier on the concrete to play with,
...that's when he got face to face!
He ended up laying down and let "Baby" look at his prize.
She looked at him as if to say "what's the big deal?"
Of course Baby is 132 years old now, so not much interest in playing with a turtle now days; but she used to surf on them!  She would put both front feet on them and slide them around, but that was back in her younger days!  After a short time of looking at Mr. Turtle, she ended up just walking away, so...
Zac went over and laid down by it...
...pretty soon he took his paw and slid it close to him!
He nudged it in a little closer...
...and then decided it was time to rest with his new best friend!
Zachry is such a sweet, good mannered dog and he is always finding something when he goes scavenging around our property.  One day he found a small single deer antler.  He ended up taking it home with him and he literally chewed it to a nub... Mom took it away because it had gotten too small.

When he visits with us, he is always finding a frog to play with or he will chase the rabbits and squirrels every chance he gets.  He loves to go charging around the corner of the house at the bird feeder hoping to find a bird that might be ground feeding.  Of course, I'm calling "Zac come!" when he charges towards the feeder... and most of the time he puts his brakes on.

I recall a funny story about him... one day while Dennis and I were working in the front yard,  Zac and Logan (a second dog) were both staying with us.  We were working on clearing some weeds at the corner of our property when we saw the neighbors chickens.  They are not usually out, so I'm not sure why they were out then, but they were.  

We were watching the dogs look at them and had told them both to "leave it" and told them to lay down.  They did lay down and we continued to work, but the chickens continued to walk towards us probably getting within 15 feet away.  Zac and Logan were both ready to pounce at any moment, but we continued to tell them to "leave it".  It was just a matter of time before their curiosity got the best of them and it was just too irresistible... Zac bolted with Logan following right behind on a dead-run, both of them chasing after the chickens.

Obviously, we immediately told them to "come"!  Logan came to a screeching halt and returned at once, but Zac continued at a full sprint with one white chicken particularly in his sight... but, watching him was hilarious because he had a red rooster chasing after him right on his heels!  He chased that chicken almost all the way across the neighbor's acreage and he was running fast!  I'm thinking, "Oh no, we're getting ready to by the neighbors another chicken!"

Those chickens were really fast and they did almost make it to their pen, when Zac finally stopped chasing them and returned to us.  Thank goodness, but it WAS funny to watch.  Needless to say he was reprimanded.  That is one of those things just like with your kids, that you scold them and then can't help but laugh when you turn away.  I was surprised that they chased the chickens because the same neighbor has ducks in his pond and we have told them to "leave it" and they have never even attempted to chase his ducks.   

Zac is a great dog and fun to have around.  His new found friend, Mr. Turtle, does not give him such a chase.  Hmmm, I wonder if Mom will let him take his turtle home?

More Turtles... here is a link to another story by Ashley.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grammy, can't you see I'm reading...

Tully was laying on the floor on is activity center, but watching him he seemed more intrigued with his toes!  He's about 3 1/2 months old here.  (July 24, 2011)
Who needs toys when you have 10 toes?!?!
He did eventually pick up his Fuzzy Bee book
He propped his leg up and seemed to be reading intently...
he's pretty talented and can read upside down!
When he saw me taking pictures, he peeked over the book...
as if to say, "Grammy, can't you see I'm reading!"
He is so funny and is certainly developing his own little personality.  He is such a sweet boy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Painted Buntings...

I finally saw a Painted Bunting on our property!  I love this little bird... he is so pretty!
*Male Painted Bunting
We have lived on our small acreage since 1983 and I have fed my birds for years.  We have a creek and wooded area along the back side of our yard.  While the creek does not have any water in it during this drought, it does have water occasionally.  The area attracts a variety of birds and I am getting pretty good at identifying them.  I have used a book called "A Guide to Field Identification Birds of North America" and have learned so much.  I'm not saying you need to buy it, but if you want one, I think this book is great!  It was referred to me by a friend who was an avid birder.   They do have newer editions available though since I bought mine.

Anyway, I have learned to recognize between the males and females in a lot of species.  I have not written every bird down that I have seen, but I have seen many and have had some really great birds visit my feeders and drink from my water sources available.  While some birds are very common in this area, I have had sightings of some that are not so common.

Dennis and I were recently in our pool when he spotted the male painted bunting who had flown in to drink from our waterfall.  I was so excited because this is the first male painted bunting that I have seen on our property!  I have listened to two of our friends talk about the painted buntings at their houses, and I told them I was jealous that we have never had one here.  Our friends do not live very far from us, so I could only hope that one day the bunting would be my guest!  To my delight, we did have one stop by for a brief visit.  I should go buy some white millet, their favorite treat, and hope that he will make a new home in our wooded area!

A few days prior to seeing the male painted bunting, I saw two female painted buntings drinking from the waterfall, but I didn't realize what species they were until doing some research. 
*Female Painted Bunting
I learned that Painted buntings are drawn to running water.  Our visitors must have been really thirsty though because they came to drink while we were moving in the pool for both the male and female sightings.  I remember studying them because I had not seen this particular bird before at our house.  Such a pretty little greenish bird.  I have now seen them several times since that first sighting... always at the waterfall getting a drink. 

I have to say, this is something good that has come from the drought... it has brought the buntings to our waterfall!  With our temperatures being over 100 degrees for many days, we have had a variety of birds come in to drink.  Some birds would not be considered my favorites, but I know they are all thirsty.

I want to share a picture of an Indigo Bunting who has been to my feeders, but only seldom over the past few years.
*Male Indigo Bunting
Just a note -- The female is a brownish color for hiding in the trees with her nest.
While I don't see any of the above buntings very often, I am happy when I do!  I try to keep a variation of seeds and treats for the birds to eat.  The indigo bunting began to come to my feeders when I added a treat of seeds that included fruit and nuts, but they are expensive, so I don't have them all the time.  Thus, I'm sure, the reason I only see them seldom!

*I wish I could take credit for the pictures above, but obviously we were in the pool or without a camera, so I Googled and got these pictures of our beautiful Oklahoma birds off the internet posted by Greg Lavaty; I'm hoping he won't mind that I have shared his photos.  So for anyone who didn't know what a painted bunting or indigo bunting looked like... now you do!

I truly enjoy my birds, they are fun to watch and have certainly been educational!

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