Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mansion fire and pooped-out teacher ramblings

This photo from today’s Asbury Park Press shows what remains of the beautiful historic mansion that was the Thompson Park Visitor’s Center. It was destroyed by fire on Monday. I drove through the park today on my way to class and was so sad to see it. I was just there in October with a few other Master Gardeners and a couple hundred Girl Scouts planting 1968 daffodils to commemorate the year the mansion was donated to the park system. Renovations had just about been completed on the building (about $3.5 million worth).

Class went well tonight, but I am glad to be done for the week. My students continue to surprise me with their insights and abilities. I would love to spend hours discussing the novel with them, and listening to them talk about it with one another, but we have to get serious about preparing for mid-term exams in a few weeks.

23-5 Meme

I tagged myself by invitation from WoodSong’s blog, which I enjoy reading each day.

Here are the rules:
1. Go into your archives.

2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

Once a week or so I *feed* the worms with the leftover greens and fruit from the bunnies, some coffee grounds, occasional egg shells, and shredded junk mail for bedding material.

From my 1/26/06 post about the worm bin I use to compost kitchen waste.

Not sure if I even have five readers to tag, but I’ll start with Simone, divakitty’s mom, and puggyspice. Anyone else want to play?

Today was my volunteer day at the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory and we had a nice number of visitors. The local Audubon group had sponsored a walk earlier in the morning, so quite a few of them stopped in to warm up. It was a beautiful day, but very windy out at “the Hook”. I heard that the group saw all three scoters and a few gannets. The Barrow’s Goldeneye was also seen today. Also had a call from a genteman about a *pleated woodpecker* in an apple tree in his backyard. *giggle*

Remembering Mr. Bean

I’ve always loved this photo of my first Flemish Giant, Mr. Bean, and my dog Buddy. I think it’s so cute the way they are peering over the gate at one another. Mr. Bean had been out on the sunporch playing with the other bunnies when Buddy came along to see what all the ruckus was about.

Mr. Bean lived in our bathroom and had free-run of the house. For the most part he hung out in the bathroom and the hallway outside our bedroom, but would ocassionally venture into the kitchen when I was fixing salads or out to the sunporch to visit his girlfriends. I used the baby gate to keep the girl bunnies from having access to the rest of the house where they would get themselves into trouble. Buddy and Mr. Bean mostly ignored each other because Mr. Bean wasn’t afraid of him and Buddy was trained to always be *gentle* around the bunnies.

Mr. Bean came to me from a show breeder who was going to sell him to a slaughterhouse because he wasn’t show quality – his color wasn’t *good* – Boomer and Cricket were bred by the same person and sent to slaughter because they have crooked tails (another disqualifier for show). We brought him home the day before Easter, hence his name, Jelly Bean, a.k.a. Mr. Bean. I remember being so intimidated by his size and a bit scared of him!

He was a wonderful, gentle rabbit; typical of his breed. He loved to eat, and to be petted, and to nap. He loved to sleep on the tiny wicker end table in my office – even though his feet hung off the end of the shelf! He had the softest, creamiest fur on his belly and waggled his ears and danced for me when I called him “Jelly-Belly-Bean” in my silliest voice. He was perfect with his litterbox and was not a chewer (except for my PDA cord and a straw gardening hat I had left lying around where he could decorate it for me).

He loved spending nice days on the patio where he could lounge in the sunshine and flop in the sandbox on his back for a nap. He would lay beside me at night when I sat down to read. He loved orchard grass and a shot of Snapple What-A-Melon in his drinking water.

It’s two years this month since he passed away and still I miss him and think of him. I wish we could have found a way to make him healthy. I wish he wouldn’t have had to die alone at a vet hospital that didn’t know how to help him. I wish he were still here with me.

Mr. Bean: you know that I love you and that you’re safe, here, in my heart.

Hal Borland on the month of February

” Here comes February, a little girl with her first valentine, a red bow in her wind-blown hair, a kiss waiting on her lips, a tantrum just back of her laughter. She is young as a kitten, changeable as the wind, and into everything. She can sulk, she can beam, she changes from one minute to the next. February is a phase, a short phase at that, and she has to be lived with.
February can’t be taken seriously too long at a time. It starts with Groundhog Day, which is neither omen nor portent, but only superstition, and it ends, often as not, in a flurry of snow. It is sleet and snow and ice and cold, and now and then it is waxing sunshine and tantalizing thaw and promise. February is soup and mittens, and it is a shirt-sleeve day that demands an overcoat before sundown. It is forsythia buds opening in the house and skid chains clanking on the highway. February is sunrise at 6:30 for the first time since November.
February is a gardener pruning his grape vines today and shoveling a two-foot drift on the front walk tomorrow morning. It is a farmer wondering this week if his hay will last the Winter, and next week wondering if he should start plowing. It is tiny, tight catkins on the alder in the swamp and skunk cabbage thrusting a green sheath up through the ice. February is the tag end of Winter –we hope. But in our hearts we know it isn’t Spring, not by several weeks and at least a dozen degrees.
There’s no evidence to support it in the dictionaries, but some say that February’s name comes from an ancient and forgotten word meaning *a time that tries the patience.* ” —–from Sundial of the Seasons, 1964

Craisin Time!

Here the DH is dolling out craisins to the Flemmies. Normally, they’re kind of afraid of him, but not when he comes bearing treats!

I tell him that he needs to spend time on the floor with them, so they won’t be afraid, but his bad knees keep him from it. Part of their fear is the dog, who follows my husband everywhere and insists on craisins, too. Silly dog!

He tried shaking the treat can when we wanted to trim their nails a few weeks ago, but they’re too smart to fall for that trick. So we had to force them into the carrier and bring them into the petstore for a nail trim. Boomer and Cricket ride together – that’s about 40 lbs. of bunny in one carrier – thank goodness for the big, strong DH.

The worm farm in my basement

Ever heard of vermicomposting?

I keep a few hundred (thousand?) red worms in my basement to compost my kitchen waste.

I started out with a dixie-cup sized portion of worms and compost from a fellow Master Gardener about three years ago. I used a simple rubbermaid bin to house the worms, but then switched to a tray- type bin last year.

Once a week or so I *feed* the worms with the leftover greens and fruit from the bunnies, some coffee grounds, occasional egg shells, and shredded junk mail for bedding material.

After a few weeks or months, the worms turn what you see in the above photo into beautiful, dark and fluffy compost (the photo at right is over-exposed). My houseplants thrive on this stuff!

It just amazes me. No work on my part – other than a desire to *waste* less – no smell, no pests, no trouble at all – and free organic fertilizer for my garden!

Missed opportunities and sleep

My plan for today was to get out and bird with Sandy Hook Bird Observatory. A nice winter trip is to visit the local ponds, inlets, and beaches that make up the *North Shore* of coastal NJ looking for ducks. Unfortunately, I slept till nearly noon and missed the trip. One major thing that I have trouble with as a birder is getting up early enough. In the winter it’s easier because it gets light so late, but the spring kills me.

I get up before dawn only once a year for the NJ Audubon World Series. I *compete* with SHBO’s Century Run team to raise money for their nature center where I volunteer. Last year we did okay with a total of 127 species for the day. I actually made myself useful to the team this year by alerting them to this Eurasian-Collared Dove which had been seen throughout the previous week, but had’nt been found yet that day. The story of our day is available here. We also saw a Wilson”s Plover that day. The WSB is always fun, except for my first year participating when it poured rain the whole day! Every year brings it’s own surprises. One year there was a bagpiper practising on the seawall at dawn.

Sandy Hook is a great place to bird if you get the chance. It can even be reached easily by the ferry from NYC. Warblers in spring together with a good hawk migration, great sparrows in fall, and ducks, gulls, and seabirds in winter. The summer brings lots of traffic for the beaches and the birding is slow, but the evenings are nice with wading birds, plenty of terns, and osprey. Cape May gets all the attention in NJ, but Sandy Hook rivals it (IMHO) in many ways; least of which is that it’s only ten minutes from home.

Here’s a link to what’s being seen this week statewide and a great site for local recent sightings.

Hoot owls!

The great-horned owls were calling tonight so I ventured outside in the cold with my binoculars to see if I might find them….

In the dark, all I got was a silhouette (picture a big dark blob with ear tufts) about 3/4 of the way up the tallest locust tree in the yard. I could hear the female with her deeper voice nearby, but couldn’t spot her. I listened to their duet for ten minutes or so and then decided I’d had enough of the cold and was ready to go inside when the male owl flew from its perch. I followed him with my bins as he flew higher in the tree and attempted to mount the female who was perched on an outside branch of the same locust. As he mounted her, one of them screamed and he flew off to a closer locust tree which offered me a better view of him. Still a dark blob, but I was able to make out the suggestion of his creamy bib feathers. Very cool!

These owls have been calling for years in the neighborhood and it always thrills me to hear them. I guess they nest closeby, but can’t be sure as I’ve never found their nest. I don’t have much luck in finding nests anyway, other than the red-tails when they nested one year in a pine tree at Sickles Park just 50ft. or so from the road. I enjoyed watching them, but sadly that nest was destroyed in a late fall storm that same year.

My growing TBR pile…

I went to Barnes and Noble on my lunch hour today with the intention of buying a 2006 calendar for the kitchen. If I get my act together before the end of the year I’ll order one of the Men With Buns calendars for my desk at the office to help promote the idea of rabbits as house pets among my dog and cat-minded coworkers. This past year I had the Hot Buns calendar and everyone enjoyed the new bunny photo each month, especially the July 2005 photo of my beloved Mr. Bean (ATB). Wasn’t he a gorgeous rabbit!?! I’ll have to blog about him one day…

Anyway, back to my trip to B&N. The selection of calendars was lousy, probably because they were 50% off, so I decided to pick up a few of the books that were on my Xmas wishlist that Santa didn’t deliver. Mind you, I already have the pile you see above *to be read* so I really needn’t buy any more books until I get through these, but I just couldn’t resist. The plan is to limit the TBR pile to what will fit in that basket 😉

I’ve added a button on the right to view my *incomplete* library at Bibliophil. This is a great site for readers to keep track of the books they own and have read. It is a lot of work to enter the large number of books I’ve read though, so I do a little at a time. According to my statistics, I only read 16 books in 2005 – not very many, but it was a busy year.