Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some Of Us Get Mustaches

Some of us get spurs.

"Us" being older females.

I have, on occasion, told folks that for my 45th birthday, I got a beard and mustache from mother nature.

It's a fact of nature, that as females age, their estrogen levels drop. Testosterone then gets a bit of elbow room and starts doing it's thing. In case you slept that day in high school biology, most all animals have both testosterone and estrogen in their bodies.

When the level of your naturally high hormone (estrogen for women, testosterone for men) drops, the opposite hormone can rear it's body changing head.
In the case of women, we get fun stuff like beards and mustaches.
In the case of hens, they can often grow a set of spurs.

My older hens are almost 7. While they still lay the occasional egg, mostly they are in retirement. My favorite hen, Sunny, grew a set of spurs.
While I can resort to tweezing the odd chin hair, no amount of tweezing can help poor Sunny.
I just make sure to keep the spurs clipped, as they can impede walking and roosting.

In case you're wondering.......Sunny's testosterone levels have not caused her to become rooster-like. She's still the sweetest hen in coop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Say It Three Times, Fast

Baby Bluebirds, Baby Bluebirds, Baby Bluebirds.

Okay, so it's not so tough to say. I thought it would be.

I have two Bluebird nest boxes. Momma and Papa bluebirds from both boxes have hatched and fledged five bluebird babies each. They are currently working on another brood.
Gluttons for punishment I guess.

Every year, I hope for an amazing shot of the box full of babies. Every year, this is the shot I get. As soon as I take the top off the box, they all hunker down and hide. I know that's what they're supposed to do, but you'd think they could pose for at least one or two pictures.

We didn't have bluebirds around when we first moved in. I honestly didn't think they even lived this far south. I was shocked to find a beautiful male sitting on a fence a few years ago. After that, I started keeping my eyes open for his less colorful female counterpart. Sure enough, she was here as well. Now, they and their many offspring have become quite common in our neighborhood. A common sight that I can never get enough of.

Baby Bluebirds, Baby Bluebirds, Baby Bluebirds

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Really Want Honeybees

In Fact, I'm this:
close to making it happen.

There is a large group of folks in Austin, that have formed a club. I am hoping to offer my land as a host site for someone else. Hopefully, that situation would benefit us both.
1. I'd learn from them.
2. They'd have more hives to produce more honey for themselves.
3. Maybe they'd share a jar or two of honey??

My biggest hurdle will be Lee. He's not afraid of bees at all, just really isn't in favor of having them. I believe the fact that bees in surrounding counties have been id'd as "Africanized", plays into his thoughts. I haven't talked to him about it for several years. I think it's worth revisiting.

My interest in bees started at a very early age. Two different neighbors had bees and included me in taking care of their hives. I loved the idea that they made honey and made our gardens produce fruits and vegetables at the same time. I also loved the huuummmmmm that came from each hive. It seemed soothing instead of frightening.

So, we'll see. For now, I have to be happy with taking pictures of the bees.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Brief Reflection on Cats Growing in Trees

Brief Reflection on Cats Growing in Trees

By Miroslav Holub

When moles still had their annual general meetings
and when they still had better eyesight it befell
that they expressed a wish to discover what was above.

So they elected a commission to ascertain what was above.
The commission dispatched a sharp-sighted fleet-footed
mole. He, having left his native mother earth,
caught sight of a tree with a bird on it.

Thus a theory was put forward that up above
birds grew on trees. However,
some moles thought this was
too simple. So they dispatched another
mole to ascertain if birds did grow on trees.

By then it was evening and on the tree
some cats were mewing. Mewing cats,
the second mole announced, grew on the tree.
Thus an alternative theory emerged about cats.

The two conflicting theories bothered an elderly
neurotic member of the commission. And he
climbed up to see for himself.
By then it was night and all was pitch-black.

Both schools are mistaken, the venerable mole declared.
Birds and cats are optical illusions produced
by the refraction of light. In fact, things above

Were the same as below, only the clay was less dense and
the upper roots of the trees were whispering something,
but only a little.

And that was that.

Ever since the moles have remained below ground:
they do not set up commissions
or presuppose the existence of cats.

Or if so only a little.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saying Goodbye

The poem at the bottom of the page was written by one of my brother's buddies, Glen Bob VanDyke, for his funeral service.
It was untitled. I'll leave it that way.

The video is all his biker buddies, riding in together, in honor of him. Many folks might bristle at so many bikers in one place. Most are tattooed. Some are pierced. They smoke and drink and cuss. They aren't a biker gang. They just share a love of motorcycles. Normally, this group of men and woman might have frightened me a bit. Sunday, they made me cry. It was so wonderful to see so many people gather together to honor one man.

They are a formidable group, when all together. Separately, they are husbands and fathers and brothers and nephews and uncles. They are wives and mothers and nieces and aunts. They have jobs. They pay taxes. They feel deeply, just like me. They were full of love and kind thoughts and hugs. They loved my brother just like I did. They would have done anything for him, and he for them. He would have done anything for you as well.

John was friends with everyone. He, like me and my sister, never met a stranger. One of his best friends lives across the street. That man told me yesterday, "What a gift it was to me when your brother moved in. We are nothing alike, but we were best friends. It's a good thing too. Otherwise nothing would ever have gotten fixed at my house. " We had a good laugh about that. My brother could fix anything, and did. He also built things. Playhouses and house additions and motorcycles and cabinets and shelves and on and on.

Above all else, he was a family man. He delighted in his children and grandchildren--his greatest treasures and greatest gifts in life. His wife, Kathy, was a woman that he loved madly. She could dish it out as well as she could take it. I think that's what he loved about her the most. She stood beside him in all his trials in life. She was beside him when he died.
He 'friended' my kids on Facebook, so he could keep up with them. He never remembered my birthday and seldom sent a card, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he loved me.

As my sister and I lamented, "Sunday was the hardest day of our lives". It was even harder than when our mom died. I think because he was so young and because it was so unexpected.
Goodness, how I'll miss him!
And so, I share the poem from his friend, Glen Bob. It really is, exactly, who my brother was.

We've gathered today to honor and celebrate
The life of John Frala, we all know he's great!
Great father, great husband, great son, great brother,
great friend, great mechanic, a great man like no other.
The master of metal, engineering and love
He's right here with us, smiling down from above.

I think back on conversations that I've had with John
Stayin' up late and carryin' on.
About how more than one person makes up each soul
All just a part of what makes us whole.
Like petals on a flower or leaves on a tree
We are all connected much more than we see.
Just some deep thoughts we shared night after night
You know if it came from John's mind, it had to be right!
I've never met anyone nearly as smart
With so much insight, foresight, and heart.

He'd share his wisdom with all who would hear it
Passing on is a doorway, there's no need to fear it.
To be close to God you don't need a church
You can trust John on this, he does his research.
And research, and research, and research some more
Then research the research til you can't research no more.
That's how John does it, you know him, you know it.
The quality of his life, love and work surely show it.

Down in his garage working on my machine,
I can't help but notice how everything is so clean.
No matter what part I need, be it a tool, belt or hose,
He'll close one eye for a second and say, "I've got one of those!"
Pull a box from a cabinet with a grin on his face,
"A place for everything, and everything in its place."

Then his talk turn to his love of his family and wife.
He helps me get the most from my bike and the most from my life.
Slidin' in broadside was how he wanted to go.
"Ride it like you stole it" if you really must know.
His life was like that, if you think about it,
Knowing John, there's no reason to doubt it.
For the ones he loves he goes all out,
Giving his all on everything he cares about.
No task too daunting, no obstacle too great
Go wide open, do it now, there's no need to wait.
Make the most of each day, for it could be your last
Don't sit idly by while the world rushes past.
He's moved on from here, but he's not far away
We'll ride again on some sunny day.
Live your life like John, it's up to you to decide
Ride it like you stole it, and go slidin' in broadside.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Family Reunion That Sucks Eggs

Why is it, that most families only get together when someone dies?
Is it something more than not getting along?
In our family, it has nothing to do with not getting along. As far as I know, we get along just fine. Of course, who can tell? We never get together unless someone dies.

Today, I board an airplane to head to Kansas City. We will be celebrating a life cut short. My brother's life. I will be seeing my nephew for the first time in probably 6 or 7 years. I will be seeing my niece for the first time since she got married. She has two children now.

Is it life that gets in the way? Maybe distance? Maybe the funds to see one another?
When I was a girl, we drove from Kansas City to Bismark, ND every summer to see my grandparents and a couple aunts and uncles. Everyone tells me we made those trips so my dad could go fishing with the uncles. I just remember times with Grandpa and Grandma and the cousins. Riding motorcycles and horses and eating sunflower seeds until my lips shriveled from all the salt. I remember little girl crushes on older boy cousins. I remember catching fire flies.

Anyway, I'm off to another funeral/family reunion. Lee said to me this morning, "Have some fun." At the time, I thought it was a pretty silly suggestion. Now, I think he's right. I might try to have some fun. Laugh with family and friends. My brother certainly wouldn't want us all sitting around crying in our beer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Birds and the Bees

No really, this post is about birds and bees.

For several years, I knew where there was a wild hive of bees. My garden was always alive with their humming as they pollinated. Last summer, despite a mild winter and spring rains, the bees didn't return. I made the 1/2 mile trek to the tree, only to discover the bees were gone. They had either swarmed to a new location, or died. My suspicion was death, since I had no honey bees in my garden at all. Not one.
This spring, my flowering trees and bushes are once again covered in honey bees. I wondered where the hive was. The hole you see above is humming with bee activity. It was only by chance that I even noticed. The tree is only about 15 feet from the road where I live. I only glanced up at it, because years ago I spotted a Ringtail face in that hole. My brain automatically looks up when I drive by---perchance to see another animal face. This time my eyes caught activity of another sort. Bees!
I've tried numerous times to capture their buzzing about, by my camera can't manage to keep up. Some folks might ask if I'm concerned they may be "killer bees". No, I'm not really concerned, but I give the hive a wide berth all the same. I'm just glad they're back.

Here you see an expectant father Bluebird. He has a snack for his beloved female, as she sits the nest. Another Bluebird nest box has 5 hatchlings in it. Those parents are working from sun up until sundown each day trying to keep everyone happy and healthy. By the looks of the babies when I took their picture (not included), they should be fledging this week. Then the real work for the parents begin---they feed those five babies for another week to 10 days, scattered all about the neighborhood. Not only do they have to find food, but they have to find the babies as well!

Baby Chimney Swifts

My Chimney Swifts are back in my chimney! No one in the family is excited but me. I know they're noisy, but they're Endangered. I'm willing to sacrifice a little peace and quiet for 6 months for an Endangered species. If you listen to the link above, just imagine that sound in a chimney. It's like putting the sound in a megaphone---it's sort of amplified by the length and width of the chimney. It doesn't go on all day. Just when the parents bring food to the babies and when the wind blows hard across the top of the chimney. It's scary when the wind blows, just ask my dogs. :)

So, it's official. Baby birds and honey bees mean Spring is officially here to stay.