Thursday, March 24, 2011


Hail to what you say. Why hail to me of course.

Yesterday was in many ways a typical day, busy. Let me a take a few minutes to tell you about it. It was quite warm when I woke up and I did the usual chores, made coffee for me, got the wood stove going, opened the chickens, turned on the computers, collected the newspapers, fed the cats. Usual stuff. Then I made tea and took it in to Julia. We watched The Lake. There was a large bird in a tree close to the house that we finally determined to be an Osprey. It was hidden by branches and the emerging leaves. Another Osprey landed in another tree close by and they seemed to be sizing each other up. Yet another Osprey was hovering close by over The Lake and it made a successful dive into the water, coming up with a nice sized fish. It flew off. When Julia said "Why are they just sitting there and not fishing?" they seemed to take the hint, and flew off.

Meanwhile elsewhere on The Lake the flock of Cormorants that appears every morning and then disappears was in evidence. As on most mornings today's crowd was about 40 or 50 birds strong. They are a delight to watch as they swim along mostly submerged with just their heads and necks above water. When they dive they stay submerged for as much as a minute. I assume they can swallow their prey under water although sometimes we see them come up with a fish and swallow it while they are on the surface. If we get the numbers that we have had here in previous years we could see as many as 100 or even 200 birds. As I said they are enjoyable to watch, but it is scary to think of all the fish that they consume. Will they leave enough for me?

There were a number of other birds scattered around, including what may be favorite, the Great Blue Herons.

Anyway, we had to leave our little bit of Paradise and head for the Accountants Office. It is tax time in the US and Julia and I had spent much of the last three days preparing for the annual assault on our income by the dreaded IRS! That over, we headed for the library, then the bank, Trader Joe's in Annapolis and finally to Koontz Toyota, also in Annapolis, for our first service, 5,000 miles, on our "new", now 6 months old, Prius.

While they did whatever it is they do to cars when they "Service" them. Screw them up? We decided to have some lunch. Julia remembered a little cafe that was just a few blocks away and we walked there. As I said earlier, it was warm today. WAS warm, being the operative words, it was now cold and getting colder. It was so warm earlier that I had forgotten to take a coat with me! Anyway The Wild Orchid Cafe was warm and inviting and I enjoyed a Guinness with my Bison Burger while Julia sipped a glass of wine with her Crab Cake.

Then it was a quick walk back to the dealer, while observing that 'it looked like snow', and indeed it did look like snow. But it didn't snow here, although we later heard that much of the East Coast north of us did in fact receive as much as several inches of the white stuff. But not us.

We headed home, stoked up the fire and had a little rest. Soon, lightening, followed quickly by rumbles of thunder and then an ominous drumming on the house. Turning on the outside lights and looking out I saw - - - Hail, Marble sized and heavy, the ground was soon completely covered. Julia had no sooner voiced her worry for the fate of our flowers than it had stopped. Barely 5 minutes long but the damage was done. Some of the Daffodils and Primroses were broken, but her main worry, the Lenten Roses seemed this morning to have survived unscathed.

It is cold again today and the forecast calls for temperatures only in the 40's for the daytime this week with it being right around freezing at night. We are hoping that our proximity to the waters of The Bay and our Lake will keep us above freezing.

Soon, very soon we hope, spring and summer will be here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My favorite daughter.

It is daughters week and Sarah is my favorite daughter. You don't have to worry about my other children being jealous, because she is my only child, but if I had ten daughters or a hundred I'm sure that she would still be my favorite. She is a winner in every way. Works two or three jobs. Takes care of four sons, two dogs, a husband and a home. I don't know how she does it, but I sure hope that I had something to do with it. I know her mother did.

It always brightens up my day when I see her, she has a beautiful smile that lights up the room. But like a beautiful flower she attracted pests too! Boys. Watching her being picked up by a boyfriend felt like handing over a stradivarius violin to a gorrilla.

She's a survivor too. She survived a major earthquake in California that happened just a few days after she arrived there. She survived a major bout with cancer. She has survived four boys - including two teenage sons! There have been many more life changing episodes that no one person should have to go through but she has survived them all.

Far from me teaching her, I think I have learned more about life and how to live it from Sarah. And she looks great.

It is hard to believe she is 29 already. (I'll never tell)

I love her with all my heart and I always will.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

War, War, War. (The Swans are at war.)

Well we have a war in Libya against a maniac killing his own people, war of course in Afghanistan, wars no doubt in many other countries, a sort of war in Japan against radioactivity and other tragedies, whilst here on The Lake the male Swan has, as usual in the Spring, declared open warfare on everything on The Lake.

Anything swimming on The Lake is fair game as far as he is concerned. I have been working outside today and every now and then I hear a tremendously loud sound, the beating of wings. He chases any Goose, Duck or Cormorant and even the occasional Kayaker until they leave. It seems to be in vain. While he is busy chasing off the next offender they casually walk back down into the water and start paddling around again until he has chased off everything else and gets back to them once again.
The male Swan is a very large bird and I have no doubt that if he were to attack me he could inflict considerable damage. A blow from his wings could probably break an arm or a leg.

In fact there are quite a few Canada Geese here that have injuries, mostly to their legs. At least they seem to be the most obviously damaged parts. I have no way of knowing if he did the damage but I did hear from someone that he was seen to kill one of the young geese a few years ago.

The problem is that his protective warfare continues for a long time. The local animal control authority oils their eggs, thus rendering them unable to hatch. The Swans don't know this and so instead of her sitting for the usual 5 or 6 weeks she sits there for several months and the male continues to wage his protective battle. It might be kinder to break the eggs but I suppose she would lay more then.

They stop the Swans from breeding because they are not native birds. They also do considerable damage to the grasses of the Chesapeake Bay, eating and pulling up a large amount of the grasses - which are in very short supply already, probably killed by all the weed killers that are poured into The Bay. Well OK, they weren't poured in, but they might just as well be. The millions of lawns surrounding The Bay are looked at as proudly by their owners as the Swans look at their huge eggs. The war by neighbor against neighbor to have the greenest most perfect lawn, takes no prisoners. Whether it is Swans, Canada Geese, Falcons, Owls, Osprey, Fish, Crabs or any other creature of our wonderful Chesapeake Bay matters not. They would willingly sacrifice every wonderful animal, bird, fish or insect just to have their lawn greener than Joe's lawn!

Meanwhile the battle goes on, Swan against all other birds threatening his mate and their offspring, conservationists against the killers of our flora and fauna and Ghadaffi against his citizens, when will it ever end?