Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Sometimes the freighters are so far out on Lake Huron that the boat is below the horizon but structures that are several stories tall are still visible from shore. Clicking on photos enlarges them. The two small dots near where the sun will be rising are part of a passing freighter.

Before the sun came up this morning, I saw the fore and aft towers of this freighter. I think this might have been the Frontenac. There are lanes for the ships and usually they are much closer to shore. Still, this ship was in American waters. It's a long way to Canada. (I'm used to being only 13 miles from the US/Canadian border. Some of my best memories as an adult are from my Canadian trips.)

This is the website I use to identify the ships that pass: - http://www.n8dnx.org/live-ship-tracking-62/
Very cool!

On the map I'm on the east side of the Thumb south of Harbor Beach north of Port Sanilac half-way between the two of them near Forestville.

It's bitter cold today but thankfully there is only a slight breeze so there's little wind chill. My neighbors are leaving for Arizona soon. They stay long enough to celebrate Christmas and the arrival of the New Year, then off to warmth. I'll hold down the fort! Brrr.

I've taken to feeding the birds with niger (I wonder if that's really thistle seed), sunflower oilers, and seed-filled suet that I buy at Tractor Supply Company. I see many species of birds including red bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, bluebirds (honest!), cardinals, blue jays, pine siskins, chickadees, purple finches, juncos, goldfinches, crows, mourning doves. Most hang around all day.

There are several medium sized nests, probably robin nests, from last summer high in the trees; I've been surprised at how many birds investigate and actually spend some time in those nests; even some species like hole building and nesting species like woodpeckers that don't build open nests. I suppose they provide some protection from the cold and wind. Any port in a storm?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Final Sunday in 2014

Drove up to Harbor Beach, Port Hope, Grindstone City, Port Austin, and points in between. Beautiful day for a Sunday drive; breakfasted at Al's in Harbor Beach.

On one of my early summer trips to France to study French at Universities there I "discovered" The French Canadienne Celine Dion who lived in French Canada and was singing in French back then. I bought several albums and still listen to them. I MUCH prefer her French albums. (I never listen to her English language ones; don't like 'em.) While I'm typing this, I'm listening to her, perfect for a late Sunday morning!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Kersins Huld and Totty

I was saving some photos today and found a puppy photo of Totty from the summer of the year she was born. Huld was being a great auntie back then!

Icelandics Denning

I was warned by the Good Helga to watch my pregnant females carefully because the instinct to dig a den and have their pups is strong. So I watched Huld and Kata carefully as their due dates approached and, sure enough, they did try to dig a tunnel with a den at the end.

Recently Colleen Schmidt shared photos of Lavandels Vera (bred by Laurie Ball-Gisch) preparing for a possible litter of pups! All of my girls have done a lot of scratching  of towels, sheets, blankets, etc. in their whelping boxes before delivering.

It looks like this den has two openings, an entrance and an emergency escape exit! Clever dog. I hope our dogs retain their intact instincts, it's one of the many things that make them unique. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Jack PInes and Kirtland's Warblers

Kathy never fails to life my spirits. We had a great day yesterday.

I'm one of those folks that is affected by SAD because of less sunlight, longer nights, cloudy skies, lack of activity, etc. It happens every year about this time. What keeps me going is the fact that from now on every day is actually two minutes longer, even though the worst weather is yet to come.

We always take a long walk; yesterday the weather was almost short-sleeve weather. We walked along my beach south and found, around the bend where there's a sheltered cove, a Jack Pine sapling about ten feet tall. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)

Kata with "Jack".

Kata, named after my cousin Kathy, and I went back to the cove today in order to take a photo of the Jack Pine tree. They are not large trees even when mature. This tree, even though it was probably not very old, had several pines cones on it. I cannot imagine how the tree, or the mother tree, got there. This is not its normal range. I would guess that it, or its parent plant, was planted there. It looks like the Christmas Tree in the Charley Brown cartoon, doesn't it?

Even though I had never see a Jack PIne in person, I have always loved Jack Pines, Pinus banksiana, in theory because they provide shelter and nesting sites for the Kirtland's Warbler, Setophaga kirtlandii, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirtland%27s_warbler) a rare small warbler with an extremely small population that nests only in a small area of Jack Pine trees in Michigan. The trees must be between 4 and 20 years old and 2 - 4 meters [2 - 4 yards] high. (Go to the above site to see photos of Kirtland's warblers.)

We didn't notice yesterday, but today Kata and I found at least three more Jack Pines in the same area. Kata's size can give you an indication of the size of the trees. The oldest one was tall - at least for a Jack Pine. I picked a few more cones.

Jack Pines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_pine ) have very tough and hard pine cones that crack open and release their seeds when extreme heat or fire destroy the adult trees.  They need heat or fire in order to regenerate.

Kathy and I picked several pine cones off the small-ish tree (the four small cones above) and brought them back home. The larger cones I picked of the mature tree today. Notice how tight the scales are. Seeds from a few other small cones picked yesterday are above on the left. (Click on photo to enlarge it.)

We couldn't pry the cones open so tried heating them in a frying pan. The pine cone scales eventually opened up and then we could then pick the seeds out. We didn't want to heat them too much because that could have destroyed the seeds!

After I "heat treat" the new cones, you know I will be planting the seeds and hoping! I may even go back and see if I can find a two year old volunteer - not likely because of the heat necessary to open the cone.

Here's a photo of the Jack Pine seeds after heat treating the cones. (Click to enlarge.) Note the seeds themselves are the color of burnt wood to increase camouflage and decrease the likelihood of birds eating them after a fire. Note the "helicopter wings" to facilitate dispersal by the wind after fire; the wings are similar to the wings of maple tree seeds even though, obviously, pines and maples are not related. Isn't nature amazing.

Jon & Tracy - Kirtland's Warblers winter in the Turks and Caicos!!!! Isn't that a coincidence?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day

I survived another Christmas. Gorgeous sunrise again today.

(Clicking on photos enlarges them.) 
Of course, OF COURSE, I know the sun doesn't actually "rise"; It's not moving; I know that it's the rotation of the earth that makes it look like the sun is rising but I'm pretty sure that we will always talk about it as though the sun is "rising". Regardless, it's always beautiful to see - to watch, actually. You can actually see the sun move (well the earth move).
The other day someone was talking about how fast the earth is moving around the sun; how fast our entire solar system is moving through space; if there was an atmosphere, the sound would be deafening, destructive probably. (Think of how much noise a fast moving car or a jet plane makes.)
So, like a tree falling in the forest, if no one is there to hear it, does the falling tree make a sound? Duh! 
If the earth and our solar system are moving at an incredible speed through space and there is no atmosphere, is there really any sound? Hehehehe!
Totty comes for affectionate scratches now. That's previously been a good sign of pregnancy! She normally doesn't want to be bothered with that silly kind of stuff.
Time for my second cuppa!
Wake up! Time to get ready for company!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

We celebrated our first Christmas here at Sans Souci and it was good. I had phone calls from those nearest and dearest to me which made it very special. Last night there was snow on the ground but by the time I woke this morning, it was gone.

Christmas Eve day I visited Port Sanilac (as you can see, it's a very busy town) and went to the Canada geese filled harbor, which is still virtually ice free -

Clicking enlarges photos!

Christine sent some perfect yellow place mats for the dining table which complement Jon's "Yellow" piece; Kippa, Vinlands Urthur - daughter of Korpur and Kata, even sent me a black dog-butt hanger which is now installed in my bath-womb and has a red Christmas ribon hanging on the tail. I simply refuse to believe that Kippa will be ten years old next summer!

(The red-ribboned dog-butt hanger is on the right.)

I just noticed that one of my Clivia seedlings is going to flower for the first time this winter. You know me well and know that I'll post photos when it does. The orange crocus shaped flowers have a wonderful odor. I've heard that one of the secrets to get them to flower is that you must NOT repot them; they like crowded roots. Also, they say, you have to cut back on the watering for several weeks. I really don't know if the watering thing is true though.

This seedling plant may be more than 15 years old. It takes them a long time to mature, like humans, but they also live a very long time. I read that the seeds are actually nourished by the parent plant for more than a year before they are ready to be potted. In other words, the seeds remain attached to the parent and get nourishment from the mother plant and even begin to grow roots and leaves before they separate. Sounds like what mammals do, eh? That's what happened to my parent plants and their offspring.

Totty has become very affectionate lately which in the past has been an early indicator of pregnancy. I'm hoping for a large litter. I'm not sure what dad's genes are. I know for sure that he carries a hidden recessive gene, the b-gene, for chocolate-brown. I do not know if he carries a hidden recessive gene for black & tan, the at-gene. Time will tell. (Icelandic Sheepdog people call our black & tan dogs "tricolors" because they also always have some white on them so they are technically black, tan, and white.)

Totty's mother is Kria (above) and she is a black, tan, and white (tricolor) Icelandic Sheepdog. She has some light tan on her legs and two "tan eyebrow spots". Some tricolors like Kria have light tan, other tricolors have dark red-tan colors. There are many shades of tan in between the dark red-tan and the champagne tan.

Totty is also a tricolor, a chocolate-brown tricolor, and fortunately, like her litter-sister Pila, has inherited her mother's wonderful tail. (Chocolate-brown, tan, and white dogs have two b-genes which turns black fur to chocolate-brown instead. The tan stays tan!)

Totty and Rosalind


Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

One minute the crescent moon in the east sky, the next minute another beautiful sunrise.

I've added Carrie's photo shoot of the house (Sans Souci) on the links (to the right above).  Carrie and Brian visited me last September to take some photos of the "completed" house to use on Brian's website. (See above right for HF Architecture.)

Click on the link with Carrie's name and "photos" after it to see photos of my house; then click once on each photo to enlarge the photo and then click again to return. I've also added a link to Carrie's  website - above on the right - and also here: -

Totty is due back home tomorrow. It's been VERY quiet without her here. She is very talky. I've been known to call her "Chatty Cathy". 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


These photos don't capture it but, trust me, the color of the water today was almost exactly the color of my walls. I wonder if Brian planned it that way. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

According to my dentist and endodontist, I am probably going to need some serious bone work done later this winter after my root canals have healed. They do amazing things now, don't they? Nice to have something to look forward to, eh?

I do not have a front door so when people come knocking, they use the garage door. The dogs hear that but I don't. I'm thinking of putting in a front door - somewhere.