Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Officially Winter - Yeah!

Like so many others, I experience bouts of SAD as the nights lengthen and the days get shorter. Winter always seems to remind me of endings. In my family we die in the winter. Remember, clicking enlarges photos.

Still, I have rearranged much of my art and things look much better. I suppose those people who like to do spring cleaning, not me, get a similar good feeling of accomplishment.

Now that the migrating birds have left, I've cleaned my windows to let the weak winter sun in and to see more clearly the visiting winter hardy birds as they feast on suet, sunflower oilers, and thistle or niger (I don't know the difference between the two frankly). For the first time I've had visiting hairy woodpeckers, larger versions, I suppose, of downy woodpeckers. They join with other woodpeckers, two kinds of nuthatches, chickadees, juncos, cardinals, and my Dad's favorite wild canaries (goldfinches).

If you enlarge the photo below, you can see a white line of seagulls out a ways in Lake Huron. Those are seagulls and they return to the land in the daytime to forage in newly plowed farmers' fields for grubs, earthworms, and insects.

I had my annual visit to the doctors. I've been several times to this guy but always have his nurse practitioner serve me. She's nice; retired from University of Michigan Hospital's Oncology wing and moved back to Sandusky - one sometimes wonders "why". Don't get me wrong, I love it here but there is really nothing to do socially. I'm an introvert and most of the time I'm great being alone with my menagerie but there are no restaurants, galleries, garden centers, movie theaters, or even shopping centers to escape to when I want to get away from the 'kids' - know what I mean?

I took a trip back to Royal Tropical Fish and Bird Haven immediately after Thanksgiving and returned with a solid green canary like the kind I used to breed many years ago. Green canaries look like the wild ones that were breed over the years into the more common solid yellow, variegated, white, grey, and even red ones.

Voltaire is happy here so far and is vigorously singing. Candide was the first French book I read in French and its message, both the real one and the one I liked as much, have stayed with me my whole adult life.

Kit is still working on her housebreaking skills but has fit in well otherwise. I got Bear when he was five years old and he too was not housebroken. It took him about a year to understand when and "where" to go and where not to go. I honestly did not try to housebreak him; he did it himself. I'm hoping Kit will get the message that way too. Kit was returned to me at the age of about a year and a half a couple of months ago. Her previous owner had not paid for her and told me that she wasn't working out for her. Kit is an absolutely charming dog and I'm sure she will get the housebreaking trick eventually. I've wondered if she wasn't left in her crate or kennel for long periods or if she was housed in boarding kennels on long dog show weekends. There's no way for me to know for sure. All I know is that she's a great girl and has fit in here well. She has a great tail and tail set, a good top line, nice coloring (chocolate & tan with white), good ears, good strong double dew claws on both rear feet, clear eyes, she has shorter hair, etc. At 15" and about 22# she is a little small for my tastes but I think fits the breed standard. Her teeth are all there but the top and bottom incisors might be a little too close. I wonder if that's a nature or nurture thing. Her ancestors do not have that issue. One can only wonder and speculate.

Another one of my favorite plants for the garden is Helebore foetidus because it starts producing flower buds in the late autumn; the buds actually surviving the worst winter weather.  Frequently opening in late December. The flowers are for many tastes, an unspectacular green. Of course the lack of brilliant color is understandable for at this time of year there are precious few insects to do the pollinating; no honeybees, bumblebees, smaller wild species bees, wasps, yellow jackets, butterflies, and even most moths are dead, migrated, or hibernating. Why waste energy on colorful flowers if there are no insects to pollinate them. There is one moth that survives bad weather but I suspect this Hellebore relies on the wind to pollinate its flowers. And that must happen successfully because it produces seeds and new plants easily unlike other species of hellebores. In other words, it's vigorous.,my kind of garden plant.

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