Today has been gorgeous, if chilly - our high reached 36 degrees Fahrenheit, the wind stayed under 30 miles/hour, and the sun has shone all day. Hunky Husband came into my den to let me know that our local flock of Wild Turkey was visiting us. An hour later, I finally got around to going to the kitchen to take a look. I couldn't get all 54 turkeys to gather for a photo, but I was able to capture all but 1 in two photos.
P.S. Hunky Husband just came in to tell me that, at peak, he counted 58 turkeys - and saw movement in the brush that suggested there were more! Our highest previous count had been several years ago: 43 or 44.
When I offloaded the turkey photos from my camera, I also downloaded a few other photos - photos taken a couple of days ago. I post only two of them to present a study in the Carolina Wren. This cheery little bird is frequently the first thing I hear of a morning. Its piercing call and songs have the loudness that one expects from a much larger bird; yet, it can be elusive at times. Elder Brother chased the calls of one of these for two days while we were in Florida.
"Tampabaylandsat" by Robert Simmons - http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=16637. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tampabaylandsat.jpg#/media/File:Tampabaylandsat.jpg
Crested caracara, Black-hooded parakeet, Red-cockaded woodpecker: Those are the new species of birds that I found during my week of birding with Elder Brother in the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. When I returned home, and caught up on my volunteer work enough to think about it, I went over the birds that I had seen - just shy of 100 species. Not really great for Florida at this time of year, but the weather was a big factor against us. Elder Brother (EB) saw/identified more species - and kept a contemporaneous listing (he uses a digital recorder to input each bird seen!) - but I don't know how many. EB is the real birder of the family. He's been birding since about 1949, and I've been by his side at it off-and-on ever since. I enjoy birds, but I'm not rabid. Just as I took up potting to have something to do with Elegant Friend, and just as I took up knitting to have something to do with friends at the senior center, I bird mostly to have something to do with EB.
Aside: EB had marked 2015 as a "big bird year" during which he hoped to see at least 400 species. He made several trips to various places last year (Florida, California, Washington State, New Mexico, Kansas) in that cause. He came close. He made it to 396; but, his time out for his cardiac arrest in September cut into his chances.
By Joseph C Boone (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As EB was driving along, I spotted a couple of these birds at their carrion feast by the side of the road. EB, later, pointed out a couple more caracaras flying.
By J. Patrick Fischer (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
I spotted about five of these birds, on power lines outside of the motel - my first morning, there. Later, we found both Black-hooded and Monk Parakeets in various places, including a power substation just outside a cemetery.
IBy Lance Cpl. Matthew K. Hacker, United States Marine Corps Original photograph taken by: James Hanula, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, May 1992 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
EB knew just where to look for these little woodpeckers. We saw several.
I had a good time with EB in Florida, and the cost was reasonable (for me) because Hunky Husband paid my air fare and EB insisted upon picking up the tab for the rental car (he did all of the driving, after all - which I allowed in self-defense since he is so anal! Besides, he had been there frequently enough that we didn't need no stinkin' maps or GPSs!) My "big" expense was my motel room. Lesser expenses included one tank of gasoline, some snacks, and our dinners. EB took care of most snacks, our lunches, and the other tanks of gasoline. (You have to understand that when EB travels with a friend, he picks up ALL of the expenses - and - he had thought he would do the same on this trip!)
Day 1 (20th): Our first day there, the morning temperature was about 37ᵒ Fahrenheit - rising to the mid-40s during the day with a little wind. The birding started well. As I told the desk clerk, "I know I'm not in Kansas anymore when the first bird I see of a morning is an Osprey [in a palm tree] followed by Black-hooded Parakeets [on a power line] and an immature White Ibis [flying over]."
Day 2 (21st): Temperatures were in the 40s with wind that, for a short while, topped 50 miles/hour. It was cloudy and rainy. The park at which EB had planned we bird refused our money for entry. Just as we had pulled up to the toll booth, they received word that the park was "closing". They let us into the park, but there were very few other cars there. While EB went to check out the non-existent beach (it was high tide), I wandered around the sand and vegetation nearer the parking lots. My "find" was a great-horned owl with a nest at the top of the trunk of a de-capitated palm tree.
Day 3 (22nd): Temperatures were in the 40s to 50s with wind. We went looking for the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. They are small (slightly larger than a downy - not as large as a hairy), secretive, and not numerous. In the park in which we birded, the trees in which they were found were banded with white to alert the forestry people to take a care for them.
Day 4 (23rd): Temperatures in the 50s. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge was, again, closed - just as we arrived - because the wind was topping 50 miles/hour. I'm not sure whether the bridge has a resonance issue or whether vehicles get blown around, into one another with the high winds. Went back to the park that had been closed. The palm tree in which the owl had been nesting had been chain-sawed down! Lots of clean-up work required by the high winds.
By Mrehere at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Day 5 (24th): Temperatures in the high 50s, low 60s. Winds moderating.
Day 6 (25th): Temperatures in the mid-high 60s. Winds 10 miles/hour or less.
Day 7 (26th): Temperatures in the mid 70s. Winds 10 miles/hour or less. However, we had to be at the airport by 2:30pm for my flight home. EB waved me down the gangway before walking to the other end of the concourse to catch his flight back to Denver CO. He arrived at his home in Loveland at the same time I arrived at our home in Derby. Of course, it was 9:30pm, his time, but 10:30pm, my time. It's always, always good to get home!
Leaving home from Wichita's Dwight D Eisenhower National Airport: My left arm was patted down - because of the electronic watch that I wear.
Leaving Florida from Tampa International Airport: I received expedited transit through security - being subjected only to a metal detector rather than through the body scanner. I guess the TSA agent thought she could trust a little old lady?
It's been a while since our flock of wild turkeys have visited us, and longer still since I've taken/posted any photos of them. We've occasionally been seeing a couple or four of the birds in our yard; but, not the whole flock - which in previous years has numbered as many as 43, as I recall.
All were calmly pecking about the yard for about 30 or 45 minutes - then - something spooked 'em and they made a mad, en masse dash for the woods!
Below are a few odds and ends that I've found online during the past couple of days. Please follow the links to anything you find interesting.
It is much too early in the research of the relationship between eating at night (when one would "normally" be sleeping) and learning and memory to become alarmed; but, I found an article at Science Daily interesting.
Modern schedules can lead us to eat around the clock so it is important to understand how this could dull some of the functions of the brain. New research in mice shows that clocks in different regions of the brain start working out of step, altering the brain's physiology.
"For the first time, we have shown that simply adjusting the time when food is made available alters the molecular clock in the hippocampus and can alter the cognitive performance of mice." Professor Christopher Colwell from the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA
I'm not a cook. I'm not "on a diet". I do follow a couple of cooking blogs. The link, below, will lead to a recipe that is not new; but, it is one that I found a couple of years ago. I've had time to try it and I like it! Note that Kalyn's Kitchen is slow on the download, but Kalyn's recipes are, in general, worth the patience.
For those who think of the 1950s as "the good old days", here is Siegel's entry for that decade.
1950s — But a competing idea to the Big Bang was the Steady-State model, put forth by Fred Hoyle and others during the same time. But what was most spectacular is that they argued that all the heavier elements present on Earth today were formed not during an early, hot and dense state, but rather in previous generations of stars. Hoyle, along with collaborators Willie Fowler and Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge, detailed exactly how elements would be built up the periodic table from nuclear fusion occurring in stars. Most spectacularly, they predicted helium fusion into carbon through a process never before observed: the triple-alpha process, requiring a new state of carbon to exist. That state was discovered by Fowler a few years after it was proposed by Hoyle, and is today known as the Hoyle State of carbon. From this, we learned that all the heavy elements existing on Earth today owe their origin to previous generations of stars.
I'll not give away where I found that Utopian quote; but, the discussion centered around the future of the human race - rather short-term in the discussion but could be opened up to the long-term. I wanted to answer that, "No, idiot, there is NOT always a way!" But...it is against my operating principles to actually write that a person is an idiot, particularly online, and there was no reason to make him/her the butt of my bad temper. Yikes! Let us assume that I made the whole thing up. (Oh, yeah.)
Bad, because the knee that I twisted while in Colorado has become quite painful. For the past several weeks, I've been unable to sleep in my bed and have had great difficulty sleeping in my recliner since finding a relatively-pain-free position is a huge challenge. Oh, well. Come Jan 14, 2016, my new physician will take a look at it. Since my knees have taken turns giving me a pain since 1974, I've become accustomed to putting up with pain for periods of time. Wasn't it just about eight months ago that I went through (nearly) this with the other knee?
Good, because it is a sunny day and I, at last, figured out the fix for my computer problems that kept me from getting audio with most (but not all) of the online-posted videos - all YouTube videos were beyond me. I simply uninstalled Adobe Flash! Duh! Why didn't any of the help/community websites suggest that? I had to figure it out myself.
Since I can now play videos and hear them, here are a couple that I enjoyed. The Boogie video is a re-posting from Ronni's blog (Time Goes By), while the Supercool video is from a website suggested by one of the videos that Ronni had also posted, today - but not the same one! BTW: I never cared for Coca Cola as a kid (as if I got to try it all that often!) but learned to like it when I discovered that the little refrigerator in the office of the branch library in which I worked cooled the 8-ounce bottles of Coca Cola to the precise temperature needed to have the Coke instantly freeze up in my mouth. Yum! (I still only like it at that temperature.)
And the following video is for any family who may have missed it.
Whenever Hunky Husband schedules a few days away from home, I take advantage of the opportunity to schedule maintenance on the house. This past week, I scheduled carpeting replacement for my den - which occurred Tuesday. It was as large a project as having the carpeting replaced in the parlor, living room, and hallway (Fall of 2013), in the two bedrooms that are on the main floor of the house (Spring of 2014), or having the vinyl goods replaced in the kitchen, breakfast room, dining room, and mud room (Spring of 2015). Why? Because I had the whole world jammed into my den. I spent a couple of hours each of 4 or 5 days getting nearly everything out of my den in preparation - everything off of the walls, all of the movable furniture out (except the 93" couch, a 6-shelf bookcase, and a recliner chair), and everything out of my closet. (When it came to my closet, Fibber Magee would have been proud!)
It took the guys only four hours to remove the three pieces of furniture, take up the old carpeting, lay the new carpeting, and bring the chair and bookcase back into the den. I had asked them to take the couch to the basement - and leave it there! It has taken me several hours per day since they left to get everything else back together.
Well...not everything is back together. I took the opportunity to throw out/give away much of the "stuff" instead of bringing it back in. (Fibber Magee would no longer be proud of the closet. It has a few cubic inches of space left!) In addition, I took a small cabinet downstairs to my bedroom and took a thick glass tabletop (about 2' x 3' x 1") down to the basement for storage (we've had it since about 1970 and still haven't figured out how to use it!), and brought up a tall, narrow bookcase from my bedroom. Yes, folks, much like Bogie, I am good at figuring out how to do things by myself.
The biggest challenge (physically) was finding a place to "store" this computer setup/desk where it could be in service during the upheaval. The desk and computer are shown in Done and done; but, the setup had been amended to include a small TV console on which my printer and printer papers reside. All told, the length of the setup is about six feet. I moved the server from one wall to another in the dining room to make room for the computer desk/setup and was quite comfortable working at my computer for a couple of days.
Before: Computer Desk parallel to built-in desk -
After: Computer desk against wall perpendicular to built-in desk -