Feb 21

Winter showed up

That was some weekend, wasn’t it? Cold, ominous, and with inexorable weather rolling in for everyone. We had our usual Chick-fil-A on Saturday, a video chat that evening, and took a walk on Sunday just before that weather started making it’s presence known locally.

It came in two waves here. One, last night, with a couple of inches of new snow. This on top of the three or four inches we got last week that never had a chance to melt. And the second wave is coming upon us now, and late into the evening. Forecasters suggest we’ll be getting an inch of snow per hour for a while.

I went into the office today, because that’s what you do. And 15 minutes later the email came down: Work from home, people.

So I left at 2 p.m., because it was really starting to come down. I park in a parking deck at work, and my car was dry, but it was snowing enough to accumulate on the windshield and roof while sitting at a single red light. That, to me, seems like a lot of snow.

So you drive slow, and stay well back. Fortunately not a lot of people were on the roads. I suspect the stay-at-home, the day’s work-from-home and just the wisdom of staying out of this foolish weather kept people safely indoors. Just before I made it to our neighborhood I could see the car ahead of me fishtailing in a roundabout. An ominous sign. After that, three-quarters of a mile, and the treacherous and unkempt roads of the neighborhood, lay between me and my safe, dry garage. So I slowed down even more, because that seems like a thing to do, and Icrept in. You could run it faster. But I made it, just in time to see the birds.

If that cardinal doesn’t impress you, perhaps you’d like to see the eastern bluebird.

We had three at one time, which was a lot for this time of year. These little thrushes should be in the southwest right about now, but they are back, so I’ll take that as a sign.

They come and go through the shrubs and trees and bird feeders. Eventually the bluebirds gave way to warblers.

I would have thought the birds would be all in their nests right now, and building roofs.

The snow makes for a neat backdrop, no?

The cats are doing just fine. They are warm and dry. They probably want to go outside, but I think they’d decide against the idea when their paws got cold. They are lightweights, like me.

They can’t be perfectly untroubled by what’s going on outside. Phoebe is hunkering down, for some reason.

She’s lately developed a new pose that involves swimming over the shoulder.

Poseidon doesn’t know what that’s about, either.

When he’s not traumatizing his sister, or trying to figure out what she’s up to, he’s taking a great interest in laundry. It’s hard to fold sheets when he’s climbing inside of them.

I eventually turned a fitted sheet into a hammock for him and gently swung him back and forth until my arms got tired. I thought it might drive him away, but he liked it. Eventually I set the cat-carrying-sheet back on the floor and wrapped him up inside. You could hear him purring from six feet away. Eventually he climbed out a bit, so I folded the sheets around him. He was perfectly happy to stay like that for quite a while.

Pretty smart cat, sometimes, wouldn’t you say?

Feb 21

Photos to start the week

This weekend we received a red-bellied woodpecker as a backyard guest.

That’s just what they’re called. He didn’t explain the discrepancy. (The red crown distinguishes the gender, by the way.)

Look at this little guy:

One of his friends gave me my best photo yesterday, bird division:

Of course the cats like the birds. They have strategically placed spots with great sight lines of the menagerie taking place just beyond their reach and on the other side of the inexplicable transparent walls.

What must pets imagine of glass, and us?

Anyway, Phoebe is taking a break from the bird watching. She has the most intense relaxation face you can imagine:

Last month we noted that Poseidon likes to watch car chases with us. Apparently they make Phoebe a little more nervous. She couldn’t watch last week’s historic car chase.

Poseidon, meanwhile, has found himself a hammock bridge. Like he needed the help, or a new place to sleep:

Last night he decided to have a bit of water fresh from the mountain stream.

Better than the several bowls he has available to him.

More tomorrow. Check out the Instagram account that Phoebe and Poseidon run. Keep up with me on Instagram, too. And don’t forget my Twitter account.

See you there!

Dec 20

We had a visitor

I was having lunch when The Yankee sent me a text, from upstairs, to look out into the backyard. Her office overlooks the bird feeders in the backyard, and the maple tree that guards them. And, in that tree, a patient sentinel sat, this red shouldered hawk who watched them come and go.

Anyway, he stayed for a while, and I had the opportunity to observe him from our upstairs raptor blind. Enjoy!

Probably he was looking for one of the critters that sneak up to eat seeds on the ground. There are a few squirrels and at least one chipmunk and who knows how many moles. This hawk doesn’t want moles, but I’d like him to give them a shot.

I took 33 photos. And these are the best ones.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good shot of him flying off. He went in a hurry.

And he went without a snack.

But we did enjoy the visit.

I hope he comes back soon.

Hope you do, too. There could be a menagerie around here.

Nov 20

The week with bad titles

I’m sure this is some sort of king of the kitchen thing. Some sort of dominant cat of the kitchen island thing. Something I shouldn’t indulge — especially since he likes to jump to attack, who knows if he’s developing a penchant for leaping down to attack.

But he looks handsome doing it, so I guess that makes it OK.

Anyway, it’s Monday, so we check in on the cats and, as you can see, Poseidon is doing just fine. That’s a new posture for him. I hope it doesn’t take. That’s my breakfast and lunch seat, not his.

I will let him take naps in it at other times, however.

Phoebe is great, too. As you might know — or, if you have pussycats in your pad, you might have instituted something like — our failed rule about cats on the counter. Poseidon we’ll just shoe-shoe him off a counter. Or we’ll spray him with a nice little water bottle — which he actually loves, so you see, failed rule. Phoebe, however, we just pick her and hold her, which is a fate worse than nail clipping. But! We have the world’s greatest jailhouse jaguars and legal lions. They quickly found the loophole.

And we let this stuff slide. Any animal that can do the leg work on something like that deserves your approval.

Anyway, another Monday, another week. This is usually where I put something about the weekend’s bike ride(s) and so on. We did ride, a simple, basic, usually kind of ride, and it was cold. So I took no photos because retrieving my camera from within several layers of kit and two pairs of gloves seemed too risk at the time. But it was a nice ride.

And then I also worked on one of my little wood projects:

I’m toying with the idea of making a bowl. Everything, but the bottom, is coming along nicely. I’l; figure it out. In the meantime, it gives me a reason to stand in the garage next to a familiar bit of pareidolia.

It’s a perfectly natural phenomenon, seeing faces in things. It’s only weird if they answer you back.

Not to worry. Mr. Garagey is more the silent type.

Nov 20

Taking these days off seriously

Slept in. Went for a bike ride. It was gray and damp, just a bit of a chill. The Yankee had to do 35 minutes. I forgot to ask about the training idea behind 35 minutes. It takes about 35 minutes to get warmed up.

Anyway, I rode today in just some long cycling pants and a wind breaker and gloves. No gaiter, no gilet, just hoping body heat would get me by. After, you know, warming up.

I never know how to figure out cool temperatures on a bicycle on a chilly day. What is the right amount? And how can I carry the things I shed if I put on too much stuff?

And what’s too cold?

Let’s rephrase that. What’s too cold for the used, not-advanced, non-technical-at-all, cobbled together cold weather kit I have?

Anyway, we did her easy 35 minutes and I followed her back to our neighborhood and then did a bit more, at least as much as the remaining ambient daylight would allow. It was just 16 miles or so, and I kicked myself for not going out earlier. I learn a lot by kicking myself.

Strava tells me I set a PR on one little hill. You turn onto a path and go through two traffic barriers and a small parking lot and then up the road into a nice little suburban neighborhood. It’s a popular hill for cyclists because the bottom has a nice quiet bike path and the top opens up into going any number of directions. Just before I turned onto the path from one direction another rider started up it from the other. Before too long he was standing out of his saddle, dancing on the pedals as they say. I just sat still and stayed in the big ring and passed him, somehow.

I passed someone on a hill. I’m not even riding well, but I got over that hill nicely. Strava tells me I set a personal best on that segment. That’s fine motivation.

In the evening we talked to our friend in Canada, you don’t know her. Maybe you do. She’s a brilliant scholar and we’re all friends and I listened to her and The Yankee talk about future research and tried to occasionally contribute something to the conversation.

I also made some progress on new pocket squares this evening. It’s a two-step project, and after I finish the second step I’ll have 30 bright new colorful options to choose from. I’ll be cleaning up the bits of cloth and stray strings for months. Just in time for spring! A wonderful thought! Snow is in the forecast for next week.