Yellowed-Bellied Sapsucker

Photo by Teri Jensen

Our alarm goes off every morning at 6 a.m. First thing I do is pull on my old raggedy pair of jeans and an old shirt and then go let the ducks and chickens out of their coop and fill the ducks’ pools. As I headed back into the house, it was beginning to rain. It was a deluge. It rained for a couple of hours.

All day the clouds looked heavy with rain but we didn’t get any more rain except for a few sprinkles now and then throughout the day. Radar shows more rain moving in this evening and meteorologists say we could get a thunderstorm tonight.

Once the rain stopped, I went on my walk down and up the driveway. I don’t manage to walk the driveway every day, but I’m trying to as much as possible. I walked down and up the driveway five times, then later I walked three more times for a total of eight. I had planned to walk two more times this evening, but I don’t want to get caught in the rain.

Photo by Teri Jensen
The deer ate the flowers at the top of this lily.

I enjoy looking at the flowers as I walk down the driveway. Yesterday I saw that four of the lilies I had transplanted along the driveway had bloomed and many more would burst into flower soon. I envisioned the driveway lined with beautiful orange lilies. But today I noticed that some of them looked as if they had been cut off. I suspected they had been eaten, but I wasn’t sure what would eat lilies. So when I finished my first session of walking, I searched on-line and discovered that deer love lilies. One site said that lilies are like bon bons to deer. Bummer. I don’t mind if the deer eat the birdseed in the winter, but I do mind that they eat the lilies. Besides, we planted a lot of yummy grasses just for them to enjoy. They shouldn’t eat my lilies.

Here are just a few of the wildflowers I see as I walk down the driveway:

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The last couple of days, I’ve seen a bird clinging to the side of a power line as I’ve walked along the driveway. It was too far for me to see it clearly and it flew away when I got closer. It was obviously a woodpecker, but it didn’t look quite like the ones I’m familiar with. Today I was able to take a photo of it and after I uploaded the photo to my computer, I opened our Birds of Michigan book and easily identified the woodpecker as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. You can see my photo at the top of this post. It’s always thrilling to spot a bird that I’ve never seen before. This is the second new bird this week!

I spent all afternoon working on this blog. With the help of WordPress support, I worked at putting together albums of photos. I also figured out how to put the list of posts at the bottom of the page, which I think looks much better. However, now I’m not quite sure what to place in the middle column where the posts used to be. I’ll have to think about it.

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Great Crested Flycatcher

Photo by Teri Jensen
Peppermint Coasters sold by Teric's Treasures at Etsy
My Peppermint Coasters

Yesterday I finished the Peppermint Candy Coasters that a woman ordered from Teric’s Treasures. I boxed it and was going to mail it this morning. I had to get to the post office and back before JJ had to leave for work at 9:30 a.m. JJ’s new hours limits my use of a vehicle. I went out to the Buggy, started it, but I couldn’t move the lever out of “Park” even though I tried several times. I finally gave up. I was a little concerned that JJ wouldn’t be able to get to work, but he had absolutely no trouble. He has been teasing me about this.

We’ve been having a lot of trouble with a lot of little ants coming into the house. I spray them, but they keep coming. It would help if I knew where they were coming in. EJ said we need to get Boric Acid, but so far we haven’t gotten to the store to get any. Do you have trouble with ants? What have you found to be useful?

I have noticed a little pile of debris in the back of our mail box–like a small pile of shredded toilet paper or something. Today we had one envelope in the mailbox, so I used it to nudge the pile. I discovered that the small pile was actually a group of ants with eggs. Apparently our mailbox is an ant nursery. If I remember tomorrow, I will take the spray with me when I go get the mail and give the mailbox a good spraying.

Photo by Teri Jensen
Great Crested Flycatcher

I’ve moved my preferred “place” from the couch to the new recliner next to the window. I really like this new spot because I have a better view through the window. This afternoon I was sitting in my chair and I spotted a bird sitting on the bird house that I just moved near the big rocks. I couldn’t see him clearly, but I thought he looked unusual. I was going to get the binoculars, but I remembered that I left them in the suburban. So instead I got out my camera, zoomed in, and took several photos.  When I transferred the photos to my computer, I saw that it was, indeed, an unfamiliar bird. I opened our Birds of Michigan book and discovered that it was a Great Crested Flycatcher. I read that they are a

“Common bird of wooded areas throughout the state. It lives high up in trees, rarely coming to the ground….Feeds by gleaning insects from tree leaves. Nests in old woodpecker holes, but can be attracted to a nest box placed high in a tree….Frequently stuffs its nest with a collection of fur, feathers, string and snakeskins.”

I had never seen one before so I was really thrilled. I showed EJ my photos when he got home from work and he said he had never seen one before either. I love my recliner by the window!

 

Hundred-Acre Woods

With my Premium WordPress upgrade, I get access to a lot of new layouts. I was really drawn to this one, which enables me to give my guests the option of going to the blog or my store, and which I think has a clean, uncluttered look.

I discovered, though, that in order to have a store here at my site, I have to upgrade to the Business Plan, which costs more. I think we will eventually do this, but at this moment, I have my hands full of remodeling this site, and we really have a lot of research to do, as well as discussions about our goals for our store. Eventually we hope for EJ to begin making items to sell, and we have a few other ideas as well. So we decided that we aren’t quite ready yet to upgrade to the Business Plans. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to set up a link so that clicking on the store column will take a person to my Etsy store.

My Peppermint Coasters

It’s kind of fun doing all this, although I haven’t had as much time this weekend to play around with it as I anticipated. I have an Etsy order to fulfill, but as soon as I get the peppermint coasters finished, I will be able to devote some more time to setting up my blog. If you notice anything not working right, please let me know.

After breakfast yesterday, I went outside to mow the lawn. I wanted to mow while the morning was still fresh and cool because I knew the day was going to heat up. It takes me about 2 hours to mow the lawn. Usually I try not to take any breaks, but yesterday I took three because it was so hot and humid that I could feel myself overheating. The first time I stopped to take a break was when I saw JJ come out of the house to go to work. I always pray with my guys before they go anywhere.  After he drove away, I stumbled into the house to drink iced tea and sit in front of the fans. I looked at the thermometer, thinking that it was probably up into the 80s or 90s. I was surprised to see it was only 70 degrees. I don’t think the temperature went above 80 all day. I thought that my friend in Texas would laugh at me because she says that when it’s in the high 80s in Texas, she’s tempted to put on a sweater. But in my defense, it was extremely humid yesterday.

I finally finished mowing the lawn. I love the look of a freshly mown lawn. After a break to cool off, I hung the laundry on the clothesline. Later I decided to dig up another wooden post when a birdhouse that the birds never use on top. I dragged it over to the big rocks and put it up next to the climbing rose bush growing there. I nailed a piece of chicken wire on the post so the roses can climb up it.

This morning we drove across to the Lake Huron side of Michigan to the 100-acre woods, where EJ’s best friend’s parents live. EJ knew the family from his school days and he considers them to be a second family. He usually goes deer hunting at their place. T’s parents had recently ordered some new living room chairs. I think it’s sad that T’s Mom ordered the new furniture a month or so ago, but she suddenly died before they were delivered. T’s Dad, who looked very feeble, gave us the old recliners. EJ’s recliner was getting old and becoming uncomfortable so we were glad to get the new chairs. T’s Dad also gave EJ a wood splitter.

The drive to and from the 100 acre woods is very beautiful. We went through elk country, but we didn’t see any elk. On the way home, EJ drove on a road where he and JJ had seen a bunch of bald eagles on their deer hunting trip years ago. He was hoping we would see some today, but we didn’t see any. We did see a large flock of turkey vultures feasting on a deer carcass. EJ counted 22 turkey vultures! That is the most we have ever seen! Here’s a video I took of it. I’m sorry it is so shaky, but we were bouncing down a rough rural road. I probably should explain that in western movies, vultures or buzzards are always circling over dead cowboys so when we see the scavengers circling overhead, we always say there must be a dead cowboy.

Our “new” recliners.

When we arrived home, JJ helped bring the two recliners into the house. They are very comfortable and look nice in our living room. We had planned that EJ would have one recliner and I would have the other. I can more easily see the view out of the windows from the recliner. However, at the moment I don’t have room to set my stuff on–my computer, drinks, crochet stuff, books, etc. Both EJ’s and my stuff won’t fit on the end table between the recliners. I might have to keep my place on the couch. I will give it some thought.

The Plunge

So I took the plunge and upgraded my WordPress Blog!

The upgrade gives me a lot of new features, including new templates and fonts. I will be playing around with them over the next few days so expect surprising changes when you visit. If you like a look or feature please let me know. I aim to please.

I think I have a new domain, whatever that means. I think that my new site URL will be ilovetogoagardening.com. Or not.  Hopefully I will not get lost in cyberspace somewhere. If I do, please come find me because you all mean a lot to me and I’d hate to lose you.

So here we go…..!

Down and Up

As soon as EJ left for work this morning, I walked up and down our long steep driveway three times. Well, actually I walked down and up, but it’s easier to say up and down. I came into the house and took my shower and ate breakfast, and then I went down and up the driveway three more times. A little later I went down to the mailbox, and I took an extra trip down and up for a total of two more times. That’s eight trips.

Chicken Shoes

It was quite cool this morning, but there was a clammy tropical feel to the air so I knew it was going to be a very hot day. The high temperature reached only 80 this afternoon, but it was so humid that I melted whenever I went outside. At times I could feel sweat trickling down my back. I took a lot of breaks in the living room with two fans blowing on me to cool off.

My beautiful happy yellow chicken shoes arrived in the mail. They are awesome. I will wear them whenever I am in the garden/chicken/duck pens. If they get all mucky, I can easily hose them off.

Frozen Chicken Treat

I made the chickens a nice treat by pouring some mixed vegetables into a bowl and freezing it. I put it in a bowl of water in the chickens’ outdoor pen and they keep cool by pecking at the ice to get the veggies. I didn’t make any for the ducks because I figure they can keep cool by swimming in their pools.

The drainage tile can be seen at the top of the driveway in this photo from April.

We installed drainage tile when we worked on our driveway our first summer at our new home. There was a length of it that has been sticking out of the ground at the top of the driveway. We had been planning to find some sort of basin to collect the rain water and funnel it into the tile, but we couldn’t find anything to use and I got tired of it sticking out of the ground, so this morning I cut it off, put the cap on the end remaining in the ground, and buried it. Then I carried stones to build a small dam to funnel the water into the tile. Good enough.

I also removed some of the boards from the pallets that were not good enough to to use in our raised garden. I want to use the boards to paint an Enchanted Forest sign welcoming wanted visitors and delivery people and warning people who come to sell us something to turn back. Actually, EJ said he would do the lettering for me.

In between working outside, I researched how to set up a e-store. It’s more complicated than I thought–but then things usually are. When EJ got home, I told him the results of my research and we discussed our plans.

After supper when the temps had cooled a little, we walked down and up the driveway twice. In totally, I made ten trips down and back again. I’m going to try to do that every day, if at all possible.

Stormy Heat

Melting….

The heat and humidity have been terrible since Saturday. I sometimes joke that I must have some snowman DNA because I feel as if I’m melting in the heat and all the energy drains out of me. I seriously don’t know how people in the South can endure it. I’d much rather have cold than heat.

My Superhero mask.

Saturday my sinuses were throbbing–I suspect it was because of approaching severe weather, although the storms ended up going north of us. A couple of years ago my friend sent me a mask that I can warm up or freeze to sooth my sinuses. I put it in the freezer and then wore it until it warmed up, and then refroze it again. JJ came out of his bedroom, saw me wearing my mask, paused, and gave me a look like “NOW what crazy thing is Mom doing???”  I told him it was my Superhero mask and when I wore it, he couldn’t recognize me. EJ piped up, “Trust me, if you ever wore that in public, there is no way I’d recognize you.” Ha ha. Everyone is a comedian.

The other evening, before it was dark, I opened the door so Danny could go outside and Little Bear escaped. I shouted, “Help! Little Bear is out!” and then I ran outside to try to capture him. As I ran out, I grabbed a can of moist cat food to help entice him to me. He is an indoor cat only and he was under the vehicles but was too nervous to be interested in the food. I ran to the other side of the vehicles so he couldn’t run into the forest. He was nervous and ran toward the front door, but when I followed to let him in, he got scared and ran under the vehicles again. We did this a couple times before JJ came out. I yelled for him to hold the door open, and then I went around the car, Little Bear ran toward the house and through the open door, and the story ended well. Silly cat.

We keep blankets on a stand in our bedroom for when we get cold. It really is the best place for them so they are there even in the summer. Yesterday I was refolding one of them and a large black spider scurried across it. I think it was a wolf spider. EEEEK! I dropped the blanket and ran and  got the spider spray. I sprayed the blanket, sprayed under the bed, sprayed the blanket, sprayed under the cabinet. Then I nudged the blanket and the spider scurried across it again, so I sprayed it again. I took the blanket outside and drapped it across the patio chairs and sprayed it some more. I couldn’t see a body, and if there isn’t a body, I can’t know for sure that the spider is dead, so I sprayed the blanket again. Then I thought that with all the spraying, the blanket must now be very toxic and unsafe for humans. So I stuffed it in the washer and washed it, and then dried it in the drier. I didn’t see a body, but the spider surely couldn’t have survived all that….right?

After supper, EJ decided that he would cut my hair. He actually does a very good job, I really like what he does, and I think he could easily be a hair stylist. He wanted to do something new so he cut it very short. It almost worked, but we agree that he didn’t quite achieve the style he was trying for and he cut my hair a little too short. He wanted me to comb my hair down in front of my face and then flip it over (I can’t help but think of Prince Charming’s hair flip in Shrek). He said I looked better without a part. However, despite my efforts my hair insists on falling into a part. I told EJ that I really think he needs to give me bangs. I told him that it was ok if this current effort didn’t exactly turn out as planed because the only way to get good at cutting hair is to do it and hair will always grow out–although perhaps he should cut my hair in the winter so I can wear a hat if it doesn’t turn out. Ha ha! I told EJ that letting him cut my hair is an indication of how deeply I trust him.

Although the first storm that rolled through during the weekend missed us, we were hit with a couple others over the following days. The storms did not diminish the heat and humidity. I continued to melt and feel drained of energy, so I didn’t accomplish a whole lot this week. This morning, however, the temps were in the mid- to high-60s. It was perfect. After EJ left for work, I walked up and down the driveway six or seven times for exercise. I’m going to try to do that every day, unless it’s too hot in the mornings.

While it was cool, I did a bunch of stuff outside. I dragged the old unusable garden hoses to the old green pickup truck and threw them in the back. We are going to get new hoses soon–like by this weekend. We want one hose for the back yard so I can more easily water the chickens, ducks, and garden, and one hose for the front yard to water the flower garden and EJ’s beloved apple trees.

The climbing roses in the front flower garden needed something taller to climb. I eyed the wooden posts at the edges of the forest that hold my bird houses. They would be perfect if they didn’t have bird houses on them. Then I thought, Oh! They would be even more perfect if I kept the bird houses on them!!! They would be very decorative. And it’s not like the birds ever use the houses. This is the third summer that we have lived in Northern Michigan and I have not yet seen a single bird build a nest in any of the four houses I set up. Why would they be interested in a bird house when they have a whole forest of trees to nest in? Duh.

The front flower garden.

So I took out the t-posts/fencing that weren’t tall enough to adequately hold the roses. I moved them to the smaller rose bush near the front of the garden. Then I pulled up two of the bird house posts out of the ground, dragged them to the flower garden, used a post-hole digger to dig holes, and set the posts in them. I cut off two 10 foot lengths of chicken wire and nailed them to the posts, stretching them between the posts. I put one length of chicken wire high and one length low so all the roses would have something to climb. Then I twined the roses onto the chicken wire. I think it looks really good–although despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to pack the dirt around the posts firmly enough so the posts keep leaning toward each other a little bit. EJ said he would fix that for me.

The heat rose during the day and overcame the coolness. By the time I finished with the posts and roses, I was melting and drained. I took a small nap before beginning supper preparation.

This evening a big storm came through. The National Weather Service for our area said we could get 60 mph winds and 1″ hail. We saw the storm getting closer on radar, so just before it hit, we went out to shut the chickens and ducks up for the night. Usually I have no problem putting them in because the chickens voluntarily go into their coop at twilight. However, tonight it was an hour earlier than usual and they didn’t want to go in. It’s very difficult to get unwilling chickens in their coop. I picked some lettuce from the garden and tried to lure them in while EJ and JJ went into their side of the outdoor pen and chased them in. They were not happy, but I did a headcount and when I knew that they were all in, I shut their little door. It was no problem herding the ducks into their coop. We got the coop shut up tight just before the storm hit. It has been storming for a few hours now. It rained really hard for a while, but I haven’t really heard strong wind or hail.

Image result for remodeling sign
Soon you might see some changes.

Both Etsy and Facebook will “promote” products for an extra fee. It’s steep enough that I can’t really afford to promote my products, so I think those who can promote their products get more notice and those who don’t get lost in the crowd. EJ and I have been talking for some time about paying for an upgrade to this blog so I can move my store here. I’m not getting rid of my blog; I’m just adding a store section. I will try not to make the store part annoying. We have discussed items EJ can maybe make and sell too. I’m going to take the plunge soon, I think, so you might notice changes that come and go as I try to learn how to do it. It’s sort of an adventure and might be fun.

Happy Yellow Chicken Shoes

After several days of working really hard, my energy sort of crashed. I’ve had low motivation days in which I’ve taken naps and done only my daily chores–nothing strenuous. Both EJ and I are still struggling somewhat with the sinus infection, although there’s been improvement. If the sinus infection lasts for too much longer, I’m going to give it a name.

Image result for hebrew alphabetMy friend and I are finally back to studying Hebrew together! Whoo hoo! We live in different states so we learn together by videochat. We studied Hebrew for a couple of years but then had to stop because of JJ’s cancer. Our life situations since then have prevented us from studying, but we are finally back to it. We have forgotten a lot of what we had learned so we are pretty much starting over, but we don’t mind. Hebrew is a very beautiful, amazing language. Unlike other languages, Hebrew is more than grammar and pronunciation. Each letter or word has deep meaning so our lessons involve discussions of life and faith. We love it! We are so glad to be back to studying!

Yesterday afternoon EJ texted me: “I got a huge sliver in my left hand so now at hosp. I am ok, waiting for Rx for antibiotic before heading back to work. It is stiff, swollen & sore…” I asked him how big the sliver was, but he ignored my question. When he got home, I asked again and he told me “You don’t need to know.” I told him that I really wanted to know so then he told me that the sliver was several inches long–about two inches of it went into his thumb. He pulled it out and almost passed out with pain–and he can handle a lot of pain so it must have REALLY hurt. He wasn’t going to say anything to his boss, but his hand began to throb so he told his boss who told him it was company policy that he needed to go to the hospital to have it checked out. So he went, and they did an x-ray even though they didn’t think a wooden sliver would show up. It didn’t, although they did find a sliver of something else in his hand–probably magnesium from his previous job. There is no way to tell if there is still a wood sliver in his hand so they gave him an antibiotic to prevent any infection. Hopefully if there is a sliver, it will work itself out.

As EJ was telling me all this, I said, “Yuck, yuck, I think I’m going to be sick.” He said, “Next time you need to trust me when I tell you that you really don’t need to know.” I said, “But I care about you!” He said, “I know you care, but you don’t need to know.” I agreed. Even as a child I was so empathetic that I almost fainted (and sometimes did) when I saw/read/heard about suffering.

I love these!

One a happier note, yesterday these really cool garden shoes appeared on my Facebook timeline. They are called “sloggers” and they are

  • Made in the USA
  • Waterproof garden footwear with farm-inspired designs
  • Wide opening shoes make them easy to slip on and off
  • Deep-lug tread provides extra traction
  • Made from 100%-recyclable materials
  • Easy to clean—rinse with water and let dry

Best of all, they have chickens on them and are my favorite color of yellow! I have never particularly liked pale yellow, but this yellow–what I call “school bus” or “construction sign” yellow–fills me with strong feelings of warm happiness whenever I see it. It’s the same happiness that I feel when I see cute puppies or kittens. It’s very difficult to resist garden shoes in happy yellow.

Worn out shoes

I’m in and out of the house all day so I like slip on shoes that I can quickly slip on when I go outside and kick off when I enter the house. I don’t want to have to keep pausing to tie my shoes whenever I go outside or risk tracking dirt, straw, or poultry poop into the house. My current “work” shoes are dirty, worn out, and scruffy. Often I accidentally slosh water on them as I water the garden, fill/empty the ducks’ pool, or carry buckets of drinking water for the poultry. I save my good sneakers for going out in public. I wistfully showed the yellow garden shoes to EJ and he said, “They aren’t that expensive. Buy them.” So I ordered them this morning.  In a few days, I will have happy yellow chicken shoes to work in.

 

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