Today marks the first day this year that I have had no snow on my property. We had some yesterday, but it is gone now. I guess that means spring is really here now. I heard some spring peepers today too, so there’s another sign. I suppose I can put the snowshoes away now.

The big question now is whether the snow will be gone at my friend Ken’s place this weekend, as the Pathfinders will be camping there. We need to finish up the Camping Skills honors and polish off the Pioneering honor. I also need to teach Stars – Advanced to a few of them. Unless it’s cloudy (the forecast is calling for rain). That’s OK too though, as one of the requirements for Camping Skills is to light a fire in wet weather. I make them all do that whenever we camp in the rain, as I don’t want to find myself in the position of hoping it rains on a campout so they can meet that requirement. It’s better to take advantage of the situation as it arises (which is plenty often enough).

When I got home tonight I went into my woods to look for trailing arbutus. There’s plenty of it around since it’s an evergreen plant, and they are almost ready to bloom. Maybe by the end of the week. Here’s how they were looking today:

Epigaea repens

Epigaea repens

Our church has been conducting some seminars in Franklin about five miles from my house this month. I went tonight to help out with the kids, but there were no kids there. On my way to the car I was greeted by this:

Sunset on the Mill

Sunset on the Mill


I assume this building was once a mill of some sort, as it looks old and is located right on the banks of the Winnepesaukee River. I guess the composition could have been better, but the sunset was fading fast and I had the camera perched on the top of a chain link fence (with barbed wire along the top) surrounding an electrical substation. I didn’t think the substation would add much to the photo, so I zoomed until I was shooting over it.

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Fog

Fog


As soon as Jonathan and I got off the Interstate after work today, we were greeted by some awesome fogginess. So I parked the car, got out and took some photos. I think this one turned out the best. Just beyond that treeline in the back is the Merrimack River.

The snow is only about a foot deep in my yard now. I put the snowshoes on when I got home so I could check my sap bucket. It doesn’t seem to have gained any so far this week. Oh well. There are several vernal pools in the pathway between the house and the bucket though. I went around. Even though snowshoes make me float on snow, I don’t think they’d be very effective at keeping my feet above liquid water. I stopped and peered into several of the pools looking for salamanders, but found none. I didn’t spend a lot of time looking though. I will look again as spring progresses.

Here are some bird photos I took at Dad’s house. I don’t have a lot of photos of birds, and I will say that taking pictures of them is a LOT harder than taking pictures of bugs, and especially of plants. With bugs I can get pretty close, and plants pretty much stay still unless with wind is blowing. Birds on the other hand, always move with quick jerks. They never do anything slowly. Must be a metabolism thing, I dunno. Birds also don’t let you get close to them, so macro photography is right out (unless the bird is dead, but I don’t really want dead bird photos).

Most of these photos were shot from some 30 feet or so away, and all had the zoom pretty much maxed out. Most were also through glass. I did clean the glass first, but I also missed a few spots here and there, and they all show up (not in these necessarily, but in some of the others). Anyhow, here they are:

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting


Redwinged Blackbird

Redwinged Blackbird


White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch


Chipping Sparrow (left) and Goldfinch (right)

Chipping Sparrow (left) and Goldfinch (right)

When I get home I intend to remove a screen, pull back a curtain, and set up a bird feeder. Then I need to buy some sunflowers and maybe a suet block. We’ll see what happens!

A couple of days ago I wrote about nominating one of my photos as a “Quality Image” at the Wikimedia Commons. I thought that it was one of the best pictures I have taken, but I was a little worried that it would be brutalized by a gang of professional photographers. Well, that didn’t happen. Instead, the photo was ignored for almost a week, and then someone commented that they thought it was an OK image and recommended it for promotion. He also suggested that the white balance may have been a little too blue. Well, maybe he was right, I have no idea! (I’ll have to do some research on White Balance and find out how to adjust it).

After two days with no objections, this guy’s imprimatur was sufficient to get my photo listed as a Quality Image. Yay! So here it is again.

Dalibarda repens

Dalibarda repens

I finally managed to mail my old camera to my Uncle Jim. He has agreed to take a look at it and see if he can fix it, and for that, I am very grateful. I tried to fix it a couple of times, but it is apparently beyond my skill level. He, on the other hand, it like a level 92 mage when it comes to that sort of thing. He has never tried to fix a camera, but I think the odds are pretty decent that he will succeed where I have failed.

A little before noon today I called Va to see where she and Beth were eating. They get out of school at noon on Fridays, and then they go someplace to eat. Since I had to swing by the post office to mail that camera, I decided I would join them. We met at Pizza Hut, and had what Uncle Jim has the habit of calling “a fine meal.”

When I got home I poked around in the backyard looking for things to photograph. I found a mosquito. Still no frogs or salamanders, but I’m almost certain I heard a frog. Then Penny came running up and the frog sounds stopped abruptly. I couldn’t find him if he was there, but it was not from a lack of looking.

The only flowers I know of that are in bloom is that little gang of crocuses I photographed Wednesday. I found some dandelion plants, but they haven’t bloomed yet. As soon as they do though, I will log them on the Bloom Clock.

I picked up my new glasses today. Here are the before and after shots:

See how the new specs transform me from a total doofus to a modern hip cat?

See how the new specs transform me from a total doofus to a modern hip cat?


So I guess my brother Mike was right. Now I can quit being a doofus and be one of those cool hip cats. Or something.

Today I took a lunchtime walk. I grabbed my camera and just went out looking for something to photograph. I haven’t been on a lunch walk in a couple of months, so it was good to get out again. Which reminds me – Jonathan and I were supposed to go for a run after supper, but we forgot. Maybe we should still go – it’s not that late yet. We both need to record our exercise for four months for the Guide class in Pathfinders, and we need to have that done before the end of May. That means we need to start just any day now.

But back to my walk. Nature is pretty hard to find in Concord in January. I did take some pictures of some hawthorns:

Hawthorns

Hawthorns

I don’t think I’d eat these, at this stage, but they are edible when ripe.
I saw several animal trails, but most appeared to be made by domestic cats and dogs. They were all pretty old tracks though. We’re supposed to get some snow tonight, so maybe I’ll have better luck Thursday (it’s supposed to snow from midnight tonight until late tomorrow). I found one set of tracks that were pretty fresh. I figured I’d take a picture of them too, but wanted to lay something next to them for scale. I dug around in my coat pockets and found… a tape measure! Not a bad scale at all! Here’s the best of those shots:
img_9756
Not all that impressive, and I’m still not sure what it is. Probably a house cat. So that’s about all the adventures I’ve had today. Catch you all again tomorrow!

When the alarm went off this morning, Va went to check on Beth. She still had a stuffy nose and a cough, but she seemed rather chipper. So… keep the doctor’s appointment, or not? I knew what would happen if we blew it off. She would get sicker at an even more inconvenient time. So I thought it best to take her in.

Va and Jonathan both had dental appointments, so taking Beth to the doctor fell to me. They left the house to pick up my usual riders and take them to school. They hit the dentist some time later. I guess. Taking Beth to the doctor myself was OK with me though, as I had a chance for a more leisurely morning than usual. I took a long, hot shower. I made an egg sandwich. I set Beth up to practice the piano. Then I grabbed my camera and went outside. The main mission was to retrieve the garbage cans, and the secondary mission was to take pictures of… whatever. I found some silverod gone to seed, as well as some aster gone to seed. Silverod is like golden rod, but it has white flowers. I liked this picture best:

Daucus carota gone to seed

Daucus carota gone to seed


Daucus carota is more commonly known as “Wild carrot” or “Queen Anne’s Lace.” I uploaded the photo to Wikimedia Commons, because they didn’t have a photo of this plant in this phase of its life cycle. But now they do.

Then I taxied Beth to the doctor’s office. Her appointment was at 9:30, but we got there at 9:15. And sat in the waiting room for almost an hour. Good thing I was early! I always feel a little stupid waiting to see the doctor with a kid who seems for all the world to not be sick, and that was most definitely the case today. She was chatting up strangers, playing happily with toys, and just generally bouncing off the walls in there. But once she saw the doctor, the infection was confirmed. Both ears. And her nasal passage. And her throat. One prescription later, and we were out of there.

I called Va to see if she would fill the prescription (that’s her domain), and she said she would. But today was also ice skating day, so I was instructed to drop Beth off at the ice arena, which I did. We got there about two minutes before the rest of the students from her school did. Then I went to work.

Soon after arriving, I got a call from the guy in Keene where our fruit was to be delivered tonight. It showed up last night! I made arrangements with him to pick it up at 6:00 as we had originally planned. And then at about 1:30, I got a call from Ken. He was concerned about the weather and the fruit delivery we had been planning on. He teaches at Coe Brown, a school on route 4, and they let out early – so he was thinking maybe we could go up together and get the fruit before the weather got too bad. I made several phone calls to make arrangements, and then bugged out. We grabbed a tarp from the trailer, and decided that it would be a good idea to bring Jonathan with us (he was still in Concord after his dental appointment). Then we set out for Keene. It was slow going too, because it was raining. And freezing! They don’t let school out early for no reason, ya know!

We got there before dark and loaded the fruit – all 73.5 boxes. Then we drove it back to Concord. I had decided to store it in the table closet. Andy was there, and he helped us unload. About the time we finished unloading, Cheryl called wanting to know if we were in Concord yet. I had forgotten to call her, as she and Dirk wanted to help unload. My bad! Instead, she came in and put names on the boxes. Jonathan and I then carefully drove home – the roads were a mess too. I decided it would be better for me to drive rather than allow Jonathan to. He was disappointed, but the tread on my tires could be a lot better than it is, and it was pretty slick.

We got home in one piece though. And I will be astounded if school is not canceled in the morning.