Archive for the 'Birds' Category

Our bedroom

August 5, 2011

used to be a real peachy combination: mauve carpet and apricot walls and ceilings. It was like that when we moved into the house and I have meant to paint it for quite a while. I would wake up thinking of nectarines. Not really, but that was the color scheme.

It wasn’t just the color that I didn’t like. The people who owned the house before us had three boys. Everything was painted in gloss paint, presumably so they could wash walls with great frequency. The only problem was, the paint was such poor quality that wall washing not only removed dirt from the walls, it also removed the paint. Right down to the drywall. I am not very fond of gloss paint. I prefer flat. I have methodically been repainting everything in the house.

The house sort of has two parts. The old part and the new part. The new part has a huge great room with very tall ceilings. That room and the bathroom in the new part are now the only two areas I haven’t painted. The great room intimidates me because it will require scaffolding to paint. We may just sell the house instead — if someone would buy it.

I know it’s not the best economy for selling homes. But, we did sell the other house last year with most of our furniture and many of my other belongings such as linens, dishes, lamps and other household items. For a multitude of reasons, we haven’t actually replaced a lot of that yet. I guess it would be fair to say that furniture just isn’t a priority for us.

You’ll have to keep this in mind as you look at the before and after pictures of the bedroom. Before, we had a king-size mattress and box springs on a bed frame. Now, we have a queen-size mattress and box springs that sit on the floor. I did buy a cute little washstand with a marble top to serve as a nightstand. Anyway, I present to you before (with before being a little over a year ago with the furniture we used to have) and after (with after being just a few minutes ago).

Imagine the bed about 8 inches higher with a bed frame or, even better, with an actual bed, and I think it’s a pretty grand transformation.

The colors don’t really show up all that clearly in the picture. In fact, they change all day long and they cause me to look twice to try and figure them out. The two dark walls are a color called Swing Brown that looks remarkably like the color of melted milk chocolate. The two light walls are painted Unfussy Beige, which is in the paint tray, a very unfussy pale tan color. On the wall, it reflects the mauve carpet and looks a teeny little bit lavender. Not much, just a little. The ceiling is a lighter shade of the beige and is called Hush White. All together, the massive amounts of brown in the room have helped to tone down the mauve carpet and make it look much less mauve-like. Now, it’s almost mauvey-brown. A great improvement coming from the one-who-hates-pink-and-pink’s-relatives.

You may notice that in spite of me saying that we sold the other house with all our furniture, the same pieces appear in both pictures. I refused to part with my little antique dresser and they didn’t want the RNK’s huge 60s dresser or my cheap little lingerie chest. So, they came with and are comfortably placed back in the bedroom. Maybe someday, we’ll get the RNK a new dresser and I’ll paint the lingerie chest with some wonderful something or other and turn it into a cute little thing. Meanwhile, it is what it is.

And for one parting shot, we have a lot of hawks around here. I saw this guy on my way to town last week.

King of the Hill.

More bird stuff, big bird stuff.

October 1, 2010

I was pondering the dilemma of Maia last weekend while the RNK was firing up the sauna. I went out to check sauna progress and saw this guy sitting about 60′ from the sauna, eyeing us both.

A great horned owl. A few years ago, when I was interviewing one of the managers of the nearby wildlife refuge, I asked how one could attract owls to one’s property. “Are there nest boxes or perches that will entice them?” I asked.

The manager replied, “The best thing you can do is to plant spruce trees. When the tree’s trunk reaches a large enough diameter, owls will nest in them.” He continued on, telling me that almost every large spruce we had been driving by had an owl’s nest in it; but they were difficult to see.

Fortunately for us, we have several spruce nearing the size large enough for owls. We started looking and sure enough, there is a huge pile of branches in a messy-looking nest in one of the trees right next to the sauna. I tried to convince the RNK we must move the sauna so the wood smoke doesn’t cause the owl to abandon this location over the winter. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a pair of nesting owls on the property?

As you can see, the spruce are lined up very close to the sauna. In fact, we put the sauna so close to the trees for some sun protection for both us when we use it and for the sauna itself. The sun really does a number on it. We treat the wood every year, but then the RNK had the idea that if we put it in a more protected area, we might not have to treat it every year. Good thinking! Maybe. I’m not sure I’ll make much progress in convincing him to move it. It is mobile, but it takes an afternoon to move it about.

You really can’t even pick them out from the photo, but there are three large piles of branches — nests we assume — in three of these trees. The second tree from the left has a huge pile of branches in it about a third of the way down the trunk from the top. The other piles are in the tree just to the left of the sauna and just behind the sauna.

I didn’t see the owl for a couple of days, but then, Opal was out there barking madly at one of the trees, and when I went to see what was up, there he was. He flew off as I approached. Overall though, he (or is it a she?) seems pretty nonchalant about our presence. Maybe he’ll stay.

Normally, I get too busy with work

September 27, 2010

to post on the third week of the month because I have a newsletter due. This month I had two. That meant a longer time without posts. Meanwhile, I’ve been gathering photos and interesting tidbits. I hope you enjoy what I’ve been capturing with the lens and with the needles.

Today, the Swainson’s hawks. We see these gorgeous birds often at our old/new house. Shortly after we moved back in, an hour or so before dusk, we would see three or four playing in the wind and landing in the large cottonwood growing next to the shed the cat lives in at night. But two weeks ago, the RNK called me outside because he saw six hawks. And then seven. And, maybe, were there 10?

They were so close, we could hear their wings. They had some sort of tag game going, gliding into the wind, then a sharp veer one way or the other. Perhaps the game involved a challenge to the hawk who scored the prize location in the tallest bare branch in the tree. Hawk chicken? I don’t know. It was amazing to watch and I stood outside in the cold wind for a long time witnessing these birds frolicking in the wind.

Unbeknown to us, until I looked it up the next day, Swainson’s gather in huge congregations to migrate more than 10,000 km to wintering grounds in South America (from All About Birds). The map on that site shows central Argentina as their primary winter habitat. In the U.S., the San Luis Valley provides summer habitat to these and many other species of hawks. Oddly enough, the Valley also serves as winter habitat to several raptor species. Golden eagles and bald eagles are commonly sighted in winter months in our area.

I ran inside to get the camera, knowing that the light really wasn’t good enough for good photos and also knowing that I really need some better lenses or a new camera — but that’s another story for another time. While I was fumbling with the camera, I kept counting. I was sure that at one point there were at least 17 distinct birds in the air. Magnificent.

Later, when I went out to put the cat in the shed, I scared them and realized that the tree was entirely filled with hawks. There were well over 25 of them. Unfortunately, they took off. There was still a bit of light so I am hopeful they were able to quickly find another roost spot close by. I am still upset that I scared them off.

Check back again later this week. I’ve got some knitting photos and more interesting bird photos. Meanwhile, here are a couple of shots of my favorite canines.

She even sleeps with her tennis ball. What a little goof.