|Preorders of North Country Quest are open! Go to Books Leaving Footprints and look in the center column.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Did you check out last year's Letchworth State Park hike? Just to remind you, this is in western New York, and is quite an amazing gorge where the Genesee River flows north to Lake Ontario. Last year Irene and I took a hike on a sunny winter day on the west side of the gorge to view this narrow spit of land called the hogback.
This year we took a short walk on a nippy gray and windy day down the east side. Here is the river taking a tight turn. See the point of land sticking into the river from the right? Now I'll zoom in on that closer.
Now even closer. Irene says there is a trail that goes all the way out to the end of that point. We'll have to do that another time. And that point is not the hogback. Now let's go even closer.
Look at the background of the picture. See the horizontal line of trees about halfway up that far bank? Once you find them you can back up to the picture above and also see it there. Well, that ridge, although it looks like part of that far bank, is really the hogback from the top picture, see from the east side of the gorge. And I'll leave you with just a nice scenic view from the same location, but I managed to get part of an oak tree and a white cedar in to frame it.
See you all tomorrow! I'm now at Marie's. The weather has made it all interesting, but I managed to drive between the stormy parts. Maggie and Pam are on the way here, but got a late start. We still hope to get to Philly tomorrow.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I am at Irene's and we took another walk along the Letchworth gorge, but I can't get photos uploaded while I'm at her place. You can review my last visit if you want, because it has something to do with this one. Hopefully I can show you tommorrow.
|See Letchworth and Gibsonville|
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
One entry received
Tell me what you think each of these pictures is:
Tiebreaker: Use all your guesses in a short essay. Whether the answer is right or wrong will have nothing to do with how well the essay will be scored. Essays will be judged by Anja (7) and Mia (5), although I doubt that we can keep Marie's crazy cousin Maggie from voicing an opinion, and I've never heard anyone get the best of her sister-in-law, Pam, in that department either. So... if we need to go to the tiebreaker, you've been warned!
Send entries (7 guesses and one essay) to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight February 28, EST. Good luck!
|See I Cleaned and Baked, Just For You
See Smart Balance Eliminates a Great Product
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
It's been warm here for the past few days. We've had a little snow off and on, but the skiing and/or snowshoeing has been terrible. But some of the critters are starting to wake up!
Here was a mystery to solve! New tracks,going from the cemetery woods, out across the field. They ended up leaving the snow to enter the stand of big white pines on top of the hill. I knew it wasn't the opossum, because I saw so many of those last year with their funny splayed front paws with bulbous toe ends.
I knew it wasn't the skunk, because the pattern wasn't the same. The skunk tracks always looked as if the animal was walking kitty-corner to the direction it wanted to go.
Remember that I promised you I'd start carrying a ruler? I have been, and I remembered to take it out! So now you can see that these are fairly large tracks. We just don't have a big selection of really large mammals here. So the smaller tracks are about 2" square, and the larger 2 x 3 inches. I also noticed right away that the tracks are in a straight line, in sets of two, pretty much evenly spaced.
I also noted that the sets were about 8 inches apart. This animal wasn't making big leaps between steps, but just walking along. All the prints are about equally deep.
What I did not notice until I looked at these on the computer is that in each set it alternates which side the large print is on (which I suspected was the back foot).
Here is where I have to admit feeling a little bit foolish. If I had seen just a few of these tracks in the mud beside a stream in the summer, I would have recognized it. But I'd never seen a long string of tracks where this animal had walked a long distance.
Have you guessed yet? It is a raccoon! The smaller front paws have 5 fingers and the back feet also have 5. You can definitely see the right or left handedness. This kind of pattern is called a two-print pattern, but the handedness makes the raccoon track unique, and I knew that I had a definite ID.
Tomorrow, I'll be on the road, but I've scheduled the contest to post. See you from NY and PA!
|See Maggie's Bad Day
See Our Common Mustelid
Today I am starting a series that will show up occasionally until we have worked our way through the dogs I have owned throughout my life. Today we start with the dog my parents owned when I was born, Butchy Boy I. Technically, this makes it their dog, not mine, but read on...
Dad always said that he thought Butchy was mostly Field Spaniel. True Field Spaniels are a solid color, while this dog was black and white, but Dad thought that his traits fit that breed best. His history was that Dad had found him abandoned in the woods across the road from our house. Dad always thought that he had been abused.
Butchy Boy I is the other dog, of all the ones in my life, who is so special to me that I can't separate him from Chips... to choose which is best.
He liked surveying the world from the porch rail. See a head in the background. That is my dad, and now I'll show you what Dad is doing.
Yup, that's me. Of course, I don't remember any of this part of the story, but I am told that the dog took to me immediately. While I was still tiny enough to not roll off of things Mom would put me in the Boston Rocker (on which Irene's afghan was displayed a few months ago). Butchy would sit beside the rocker and watch me. The first time Granny (Mom's mother) came to visit, the dog would not let her go near me in the rocking chair until Mom put me in Granny's arms, to show the dog that it was ok.
The dog was my constant companion. As an only child, in the country (that's our barn in the background), I didn't really even know there were other little kids in the world. This isn't such a great picture of the dog, but it shows how we spent a lot of time for a lot of years... together.
My dad was continually amazed by the devotion of Butchy Boy to me. Actually the thing that amazed him most was that the dog would accept pieces of powdered donut from me. He wouldn't ever eat sweets apart from that one exception. And, although he certainly looks a bit distressed, he always allowed me to play dress-up with him. I never was a girly-girl, so this wasn't a common activity, but you can easily see that it happened occasionally!
In between playtime with me, Butchy was a fine hunting-dog companion for Dad, and they brought home many a pheasant and rabbit for dinners.
Dad kept trying to prepare me to lose Butchy Boy. He was (estimated) 14 years old and I was 9. But what can prepare you to lose your soul-mate? He got careless crossing the road one day. There was a screech of brakes and Dad yelled, "There goes Butchy." (Yup, I'm crying right now, 52 years later.)
I shut myself in my closet for 12 hours and refused to come out. The devastation was total. I guess I finally got hungry. There isn't any gentle ending to this story. It was just the end of life as I knew it- the first major trauma of my young life. We all have them, and they prepare us for the future.
Every child should be as fortunate as I was to have such a wonderful, faithful friend.
|See Getting to Know Maggie |
See In Memory of Hoover Houdini Chips
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Remember seeing the baby white pines? I love watching them grow and sigh big sighs over every one that doesn't make it. Here's how they looked a couple of days ago.
The five that are marked in the top picture aren't quite the same five in the winter view. One of the ones on the far left must be still hidden by the snow. But you can see one more on the far right that wasn't tall enough to poke its head above the summer grass.
More snow on the way!
|See The Trees are Growing|
Saturday, February 20, 2010
I've decided to show you one of the concept pages from Moose in Boots. You might remember that I was going to spend all of January on this. Didn't happen. So I have tried for February. Happening slowly. So far I've managed to do only 4 of these pages. (This involves taking my original rough sketches, improving them, scanning to the computer and adding the text to see how it looks/ fits.)
Seriously, I'd like to complete this step really soon. Here's another "secret:" I'm going to the Philadelphia Flower Show again this year! I leave on Wednesday. So I want the concept book to be good enough to "test" on Marie's granddaughters, Anja and Mia. Kids are brutally honest, so I'll know for sure if it will work or not after that weekend.
But to get to that point I have 18 more pages to do in the next three days, plus 4 or 5 or 100 other things! Whatever. I'm not going to stress about it; at least I am working on the project again.
So, your peek plops you right into the middle of the book. I'm not going to give it all away today. But you should probably know that this is a story of a teenage moose named Morgan who has just left home to learn about life in the northwoods. At this point in the book he has hooked a tin cup on one of his horn buds, nibbled a trail marker from a tree (which is stuck on his lip), and stepped into a pair of boots to cover his "ugly" feet.
I added a tiny bit of color with pencils for the blog post. The final illustrations will be fully colored. I painted one, early on, to see if I thought I could do them well enough. I think I can, although I have to do that one over again... just need to get back into the groove... I haven't painted for years.
|See The Puzzles- Jigsaw and Otherwise|
Friday, February 19, 2010
I went out a little earlier than yesterday and look what I found! First, here is the long view... just the row of red pine and shrubs back by the railroad tracks. But look closer! I made the two best clickable so that you can see them larger.
P.S. We did a Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Version movie marathon with Sean of the bagpipes today. I think I've sat still long enough for a while!
|See Frost- No Fog |
See Frosty Morning
What a beautiful day! The sun came out and just look at the colors of blue in that sky!
It was a great day to show you one of the things I like best about where we live. I bet that if you live in the US, you think Michigan is flat. Well, a lot of it is pretty level. And if you live in the Rockies, I know you don't think that even what we do have counts for anything. But hey! We have the Lake, and with a little topography to go with it, it's very nice.
So, this view is overlapped with the photo from two days ago with the snowstorm. This is just to the left of that picture. But today you can clearly see a hump off there in the distance. Let me pull it in a bit.
Now you can see the radio tower, which isn't perched right on the top of the hill, but on a level terrace part way up the hill to its right. That is the highest point in the county we live in, Mason County, at 955 feet. It doesn't even have an actual name. It's just sort of called Morton Road Hill. The hill behind it that looks higher in the picture is just a few feet lower, but looks higher because it has more tall trees, and maybe just the angle of the picture. The surface of Lake Michigan is 577 feet, so there is a 380 foot difference in elevation, over just 3.5 miles of horizontal change. So it seems like a pretty good hill!
We live on the top of a hill about 10 miles north of the high spot at about 850 feet. I don't think it's the second highest, but it's right up there. I've been to the Morton Road Hill and climbed to the top to see if I could see my house. I can't, but I can see the Scottville water tower, so I know where I should be seeing the house. There are just too many trees in the way from that vantage point.
Finally, I just couldn't resist the colors in this sky! Maggie was more interested in something below the horizon. And, yes, we still have water. Hooray!
|See Mason County High Point on Peakbagger|
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Sorry, no nature pix today. My affections and attentions were focused on this un-lovely and naughty child.
We awoke to no water again. A lot of hours and another $60 later, we have water, and I know a lot more about that pump than I did before. It wasn't too encouraging when I went to the pump service place, plopped the broken part on the counter, and the lady said, "I have no idea what that is!"
But things got better (except for the price). They found the part, which is called a cartridge. It's the piece that screws into the housing, around the shaft. We needed it and the seal and gasket and spring that go inside it. Oh. There was one other exciting moment when the man at the shop sent the locking C-ring flying across the room into a 55-gallon drum full of large chunks of scrap metal. Oh, yes, I am telling the truth. We had to empty the barrel, and there it was on the bottom. I did a modified headstand and retrieved it, he had more luck on his second try, and I was soon headed back with a new unit.
Another hour or so and it was all back together again. So far so good.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Who-eee! We finally got some useful snow today! It is wonderful. But the above picture isn't too special, its just to show that the snow arrived.
What I really have to show is two not very great pictures, but they prove that what I had thought I was seeing is true. That crazy bluebird has stayed here all winter. He and his mate were right there on the power line when I headed out on my snowshoes this morning.
They flew off before I had a chance to get pictures of both of them. When I was just about back at the house they both flew over my head and stopped in one of the apple trees. It was really too far for a good picture, but I gave it a try. I couldn't even tell which one I had a picture of till I looked on the computer. Both pictures are of the male.
Well, they have made it this far. Hope they can hang on till spring!
P.S. We spent most of the day without water, but with the help of some friends and some more money (sigh), we now have a new pump, and water again.
|See Does This Bird Have a Brain? |
See Blue and Pink
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I was working on the sorting the hike pictures from last May (still not done!), and decided to share this ruffed grouse.
It's a very common game bird of North America. It has a ruff of feathers around its neck that it can flare, and is most often heard rather than seen. The males "drum" to attract females. They beat their wings quickly and it sounds a lot like someone trying to start a lawnmower with a pull cord. Very much like a put-put-put-put that then dies down like it didn't catch.
It didn't focus as well, but here is a closeup of the head. See its little crest? I kept this picture, even though it's not crisp, because it does have that crest raised. They also spread their tails into a fan, but I didn't get a picture of that.
And, they often lose feathers that you will find in the woods. When you walk nearby, usually one or even a whole group, will suddenly burst into the air going in all directions at once. This is to confuse predators, and it really is very startling! Although it's possible to find an occasional feather from any bird, this tail feather from a ruffed grouse is very common. So common that I've pretty much stopped picking them up.
Hope you enjoyed a little trip to the spring woods.
|See Home- the Hike Was Great for a spruce grouse|