It's hard to believe that not long ago I was a size 8. I still have the clothes to prove it. As a smoker, I didn't realize that the only food I ever tasted was the really strong stuff like tuna fish and heavy spices. When I quit smoking, I started tasting food again and it tasted swell. Where I previously didn't care for desserts, now I'm almost starved for them. I like Mexican food, Chinese food and Italian food. I like to say I'm on the seafood diet - I see food and I eat it. Over the years the sizes of my clothes have risen. Three quarters of the clothes in my closet are unwearable but I love them so I hate to get rid of them. So, here's the deal. I'm going to lose weight. I'm not calling it a diet - I'm just going to cut out sweets (except for Movie Tuesday), soda, and fried foods. Just those three things and watch my portions. I'm also going to walk on the treadmill daily. In a year I hope to be back in those size eights again. To achieve that goal I've purchased a blueray player for the living room so I can watch Netflix or Amazon Prime while I walk. We've been here eleven years and haven't purchased living room furniture. We have some deck chairs and cat toys and the treadmill. I'm also writing down every item that goes down my throat. Like my single twizzler today. I've been known to eat a package in a day. I'm hoping by writing down my food intake and keeping up the blog with results, I'll shame myself into losing some weight.
Off and on since we returned from vacation I have been watching the bluebird house. When we left there were four perfect blue eggs in the box. Upon returning two weeks later, there was a pile of bluebirds and I couldn't tell if there were 3 or 4. They were obtaining their flight feathers and seemed to be healthy. We had put up a wren guard after the female's first egg disappeared and she laid her second egg. We would have had five had the first one not been stolen by a wren. The wren guard covers the hole but leaves enough room between the guard and the house to allow the bluebirds to slip in. If the wren doesn't see the hole, he ignores the box. And it worked splendidly. It took 30 minutes for the bluebirds to figure out how to get inside. When we got home, we removed the wren guard. The babies should be at least five days old before you do that and ours were.
Today I have noticed activity in the box that I can see through the entry hole and I suspect our babies will be leaving us soon and I will be able to tell if there is an unhatched egg. They will spend several days around the house being fed by mom and dad before they all move away. We see them through the winter checking out the boxes which they seem to select far in advance of nest building. We start making sure the boxes are in good order in early March, they have been known to build nests in April but it's usually later. It will be sad to see them go, they bring me great joy.
I have been a fan of digital art for stampers and colorists since I discovered them many years ago. I started with Make It Crafty in Australia. I now use Saturated Canary, Sassy Cheryl, East Wind, Simply Betty, and Tickled Pink among others. I love that I get instant satisfaction. I can print in any size or color. I can print on any paper, patterned or plain, water color. I can create scenes with .png images without masking. Versatile? Yep.
But organization of 1.12 GB of files has been daunting. I started out by putting them all in one folder so I could just scroll and see them all. Then I got the crazy idea of sorting by artist so if I was in the mood for a Saturated Canary (which rocks, BTW) I could check the folder and print the image. Then I developed thirty-five folders and sometimes I just didn't know what I wanted to color. So, over the last three days, I went into every folder, added the artist's name to each image and moved it to my hard drive in one whopping big folder. It took three days. Some images only had a number, i.e. img 723, so I had to rename it something that made sense for searching. I can now search for Halloween and every image from every artist that has Halloween in the name will show up. Plus, I can just scroll until something jumps out at me. As a result of all this hard work, I can see multiple images at once, the original files are on my back-up drive so I won't lose them and all my images are on my hard-drive where I can take them with me when I travel (they had previously all been on my back-up drive) and each image has an artist attributed to it so I can give credit . I also moved any Word, Corel Draw, Adobe Elements, Powerpoint, and Make the Cut files that related to the images.
So far I am very happy with this folder. Using extra large icons or Microsoft Office Picture Manager, I can look at each image until I decide which image I want to work with. I'll let you know how it works.
So, we're getting ready to head west again. Amidst all the instructions to the house sitter, the groundskeeper, shopping for supplies and snacks, packing and the myriad other things that go along with taking a trip, I went to the Farmer's Market to pick up two dozen ears of corn and a bag of tomatoes to take to our friend in Montana. Of all the things in the mid west she misses the most, sweet corn and tomatoes are at the top of the list. On the drive home it suddenly hit me that we will be visiting Montana for the first time since our friend Lowell passed away. And I started crying...and I cried all the way home. I didn't cry when he died in March, it was expected and it eased his pain. I grieved but didn't cry. I expect this trip will be both sad and happy. I'll be very happy to see Marcia, but I will miss Lowell so much.
I have a bluebird box outside my craft room window. This year the bluebirds built a nest, laid five eggs, hatched two and the next day the nest was completely empty. I suspect our resident wren. The wren in the 'way back bed' also lost an entire nest filled with eggs and babies. Again, I suspect the resident wren. House wrens (Troglodytes aedon) are protected birds, there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop a wren from destroying nests and nestlings. He seems to think that bubbly song we all love endears him so much that we'll overlook his predation. Now that he's cleared out the bluebirds, he's claimed the nest box as his own and I often see him on top of it or taking sticks into it. He's enticed a mate, I see her going in and out of the box although she's yet to take in the soft nesting material that she will line the nest with. He has been singing all morning. I have not checked the box, I will do that tomorrow. If indeed they do nest in the box, I will share with you.
Perhaps I'm turning into my parents. I was watching the weather on Headline News this morning. Instead of Bob, there was a woman giving the weather report; a handsome blond woman clearly in her late 40s to early 50s (I judged this from her neck and hands, her face looked to be in her 30s). She was wearing a cute black dress to mid-thigh or perhaps shorter and I was thinking that dress would look better on a 20 year old. When I stopped to think about that, I wondered just where that came from. She looked great, good legs but there was something about a woman her age wearing a dress that barely covered her hoo hah that made me uncomfortable. Judgmental? Yes, indeed. I've never been known as a conservative but on television shows where women want to be taken seriously and wear blouses cut to their naval, I tend to turn off. Case in point, the coroner on CSI Miami, now playing Olivia's mom on Scandal, always wore shirts cut really low as if her acting couldn't carry the scene so her boobs had to. It will be nice when the people who write the drivel that usually passes as television make good plots instead of showing T&A to make ratings.
In our travels we often find cute things for the garden. I don't remember where we bought this rustic birdhouse but it was painted like a U.S. Post Office and we've had it a few years. My husband installed a new post next to this wiegela and nailed the box to it. There is no way to open the box to clean it out and it hasn't been used to my knowledge. Until this year. Chickadees took up residence in the early spring. I watched the nest making process and just recently the babies hatched. You could tell they were feeding from the increased activity at the birdhouse.
A few days after this picture was taken, I was watering in some newly transplanted flowers in the raised bed and something just looked 'off' to me. While I was trying to figure out what it was, I noticed the bare post. During my investigation I found the remains of the birdhouse in the catmint bed, the interior was scattered all over the lawn, the house was in pieces and the babies were gone. We never saw the parents again.
We have been lax landlords. We delight in the entertainment the birds bring to our yard. We watch with interest their courting, territorial battles, nest building, baby feeding and we delight in seeing a fledgling or two once in a while. And for all that, all they ask is a secure place to raise their next generation. This box was old, nailed to the post with a single nail and no baffle provided. A baffle keeps predators from climbing the pole and getting into the box.
This is the replacement box. It it capable of being opened through the roof and on the side. The baffle is called a 'stove pipe baffle' and just sits on top of the post held in place by the pipe between the house and the post. Any predator like a snake or raccoon, or even a squirrel, can climb the post but always ends up under the baffle which is too big around and too slick to climb. The wiegela is too weak to be climbed by raccoons or snakes, the branches are fragile and would just bend, perhaps break. This box was purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited but I suspect if my husband had time, he could build an equally sturdy one. Our new rule is no 'cute' boxes unless they are very sturdy, can be opened and cleaned and are baffled. It was heartbreaking to lose the chickadee babies; next to bluebirds they are my favorite. They always seem to be in a good mood and can brighten my day. The nest box was destroyed several days ago and I haven't even seen any chickadees in the bird feeders. I wonder if they will forgive us?
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