Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Pianist in the Family

Friday night, my great-nephew, Carson, participated in a piano recital; and I shot this short video clip of his recital piece.

Carson will be ten years old in a few months. He began taking piano lessons when he was about seven. His piano teacher uses the Suzuki method of teaching, in which the child learns to play by listening and repetition, much the same way the child learned to talk. They begin with small steps, building the child's confidence and giving him a sense of success and enjoyment of his accomplishment. Note reading is postponed until the student is established on the instrument.

I was pretty skeptical of it when I first learned that the student wasn't taught to read music until later. But I've seen the method work well with Carson. It makes me envious that I wasn't exposed to this kind of teaching when I was trying to learn the piano as a child, although I don't think I would have done as well as Carson is doing, even if the Suzuki method had been used on me. I think there's a little natural ability floating around in this boy that wasn't present in his great-aunt.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Behavior Modification

David received a parrot for his birthday. This parrot was fully grown with a bad attitude and worse vocabulary. Every other word was an expletive. Those that weren't expletives were, to say the least, rude. David tried hard to change the bird's attitude and was constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, anything he could think of to set a good example.

Nothing worked. He yelled at the bird, and the bird got worse. He shook the bird, and the bird got more angry and more rude. Finally, in a moment of desperation, David put the parrot in the freezer. For a few moments he heard the bird squawking and kicking and screaming. Then, suddenly, there was quiet. David feared that he might have actually hurt the bird and quickly opened the freezer door.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto David's extended arm and said: "I'm sorry that I might have offended you with my language and actions and ask for your forgiveness. I will endeavor to correct my behavior."

David was astounded at the bird's change in attitude and was about to ask what had made such a drastic change when parrot continued: "May I ask what the chicken did?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mama Never Told Me There'd Be Days Like This

This fledgling robin was on our back patio this afternoon, during a soaking rain.

Mama! What IS this? What's happening?

I don't think I like this.

What are YOU looking at?

Why am I alone? Where's the rest of the family?

Hmmmm. Maybe this isn't so bad, after all.

Yeah! It's sort of refreshing. And I think I hear worms coming closer to the surface. Dinner!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Come, Walk with Me

Yesterday, I got up early so that I could walk at the reservoir before getting ready for church. It was a little hazy with the early-morning humidity when I first arrived.

I saw this meadowlark and snapped the shot. I was going to crop it to focus on the meadowlark itself but decided that the cropped image wasn't as eye-pleasing as the original.

These bushes, which I think are honeysuckle, line the entire path around the reservoir. I've never seen them in bloom like this and figure it must be due to the lateness of our spring this year. Their blooming period is probably normally over by the time the reservoir opens for the season.

I took this photo because I liked the color of the leaves and the overall simplicity of the plant. I didn't notice the spider web or it's occupant until I put the image on the computer. (See the lower right-hand corner for a glimpse of the banana spider in the web.)

Dandelions may make our lawn-care tasks harder, but they make interesting photo subjects.

Here again, I was just photographing a pretty flower and didn't notice the fly on it until I downloaded the image to the computer.

Just in case you wanted a closer look at the fly.

This Coot seems to have stayed on with the three disabled geese after the other Coots moved on. Doug thinks it's because he is mooching some of the grain that is fed to the geese.

These two were either just starting their walk as I finished mine, or they may have been returning to their favorite fishing spot after a visit to the restroom. Either way, I couldn't resist snapping their picture. You can see one of the flowering honeysuckle bushes in the background. And notice the pink boots on the little girl. They make her feet look happy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Red-Breasted Mergansers

Doug and I both walked at the reservoir today. He doesn't usually go with me so that was a special treat. Unfortunately, because of all the other people and dogs that were walking today, we didn't see some of the birds that are often there.

We did, however, see a couple of duck-like birds on the water that neither of us recognized. Later, we compared our pictures with those in our bird book and concluded that they were Red-Breasted Mergansers.

If anyone more knowledgeable knows their true identity, please share!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Disclaimer

You know how a radio station will sometimes carry a disclaimer regarding a view expressed by a program which airs on that station? It usually goes something like this: "The views expressed by the following program are not necessarily the views of this radio station."

Well, the disclaimer I want to make is: "The views expressed by the President of the United States are not necessarily the views of the American people."

This disclaimer is long overdue, since it can be applied to numerous things that our current President has done and said during his time in office; but I can no longer leave it unexpressed in light of the stance he has expressed today regarding Israel.

Israel has always been a friend of the United States; but this President has treated the land of Israel, the people of Israel, and the leaders of Israel with total disrespect. And I believe he does so at the risk of incurring God's wrath on our own country.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tom and Buckshot

The reservoir, where I enjoy walking in the summer, actually opened on April 15. But our weather hasn't been exactly wonderful for walking very often since that date. I've made it over there twice, I think. Anyway, last week, I was on my way to the reservoir for a walk, when this tom turkey came strutting out into the road as if to frighten my vehicle away.

I had to shoot through the car's windshield because this dude was threatening.

There were two or three ducks there, and Mr. Turkey was apparently staking his claim.

At the reservoir, I was pleased to see that the three disabled geese had survived the winter. (I think someone feeds them during the winter months, and there's an area of water around the reservoir's pump system that stays unfrozen all winter.)

One of these three geese has been a resident for a couple of years now. It was joined by two others last spring. They have all suffered gunshot wounds and can no longer fly, but each managed to make it into the sanctuary of the reservoir where they seem to be managing quite well. I'm sorry that two more were injured, but I'm glad the original one, who has been nicknamed "Buckshot," now has company.

The only other birds I was able to photograph were these American coots, which were a little too far out in the water for a really good shot.

On a previous visit, I had seen a loon, but it was too far from shore to get a decent photograph. Maybe I'll have better luck on a future visit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

Friends of ours told us this story about their little granddaughter:

Three-year-old Mary's parents were in the process of building their dream house. The family was excitedly making plans for the day they would be able to move into their new home. One dark cloud over their anticipation, though, was the old family cat. The aged cat, in addition to other age-related ailments, had become incontinent. Despite her best efforts, Kitty seemed unable to keep from wetting on the carpet.

Mary's mommy and daddy really didn't want kitty urine in the new carpet in the new house, which meant that Kitty would have to be banned to a garage or uncarpeted area, which meant that she would be separated from the family for the most part. So the difficult decision was made to have Kitty put to sleep before the move.

Afterward, Mommy and Daddy carefully explained all this to Mary and told her that Kitty was now in heaven. Mary seemed to understand and accept it all.

Some time after the move, a friend of the family came to visit Mommy. Not quite ready to receive her visitor, Mommy asked little Mary to entertain her guest for a few minutes. Mary was a good conversationalist for one so young and easily engaged the friend in conversation, asking about the young woman's family. In the ensuing conversation, the guest remarked that her father had recently died and was now in heaven.

At that, Mary thought a moment, then nodded her understanding and said, in a voice full of sympathy, "Did he pee on the carpet?"

Thanks to Hilary at The Smitten Image for including this post as a Post of the Week.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Place in the Choir

I heard this little ditty for the first time a week or so ago and thought maybe some of you would enjoy it, too. It's a catchy tune, and I'll bet you'll be tapping your toes as you listen and humming it to yourself before the day is over. Enjoy!

A Place in the Choir
By Bill Staines

All of God's creatures got a place in the choir
Some sing low, and some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
Some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got now.

All of God's creatures got a place in the choir
Some sing low, and some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
Some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got now.

Listen to the bass, it's the one on the bottom
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus
Moans and groans with a big to-do
And the old cow just goes MOOOOO

The dogs and the cats they pick up the middle
While the honey bee hums and the cricket fiddles
The donkey brays and the pony neighs
And the old gray badger sighs

All of God's creatures got a place in the choir
Some sing low, and some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
Some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got now.

Listen to the top where the little bird’s singing
On the melody with the high note ringing
The hoot owl cries over everything
And the blackbird disagrees

Singin' in the night-time, singin' in the day
The little duck quacks, and he's on his way
And the otter hasn’t got much to say
And the porcupine talks to himself

All of God's creatures got a place in the choir
Some sing low, and some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
Some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got now.

It's a simple song of livin' sung everywhere
By the ox and the fox and the grizzly bear
The grumpy alligator and the hawk above
The sly old weasel and the turtledove.

All of God's creatures got a place in the choir
Some sing low, and some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
Some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got now.

All of God's creatures got a place in the choir
Some sing low, and some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
Some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got now.

A blessed Lord's Day to each of you!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Birds and Blooms

I went out to the back yard yesterday, to try to get a few photos of the blooms that are finally making their appearance. Overhead, I heard the irritated call of a blackbird, apparently scolding me for intruding into its territory.

By the time the shutter had clicked, the bird was gone. There were no second chances, but I was pleased with the first one and most likely couldn't have done better.

These beautiful tulips are in our neighbor's yard.

This is a cluster of blossoms on the crab apple tree. This tree normally turns so brilliantly white with spring blossoms that we can barely stand to look at it without sun glasses. So far this year, though, there are just clusters here and there. I'm afraid it may not produce much fruit to see the birds and squirrels through the next winter.

This is the apple tree that was pruned by our young neighbor a couple of months ago. It is full of blossoms and the promise of many apples. Our neighbor should be pleased.

This is a bonus photo...not taken in our back yard but in the yard of friends last Saturday. I had gone to their house to help with a garage sale. This fellow came to keep us company during a lull in garage sale traffic.

We waited so long for spring to arrive; and, when it did, it came in with temperatures in the mid to upper eighties. The blooming things are going crazy this week, trying to make up for lost time. Here's one last picture...this time from our gorgeous azalea bush.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Three Men Captured by Fierce Tribal Warriors

My brother-in-law loves a good joke. He told me this one on the occasion of our first meeting almost 25 years ago, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. Hope you enjoy it, too. If you don't...well, just chalk it up to my weird sense of humor.

A Frenchman, an Englishman and a Texan were captured by fierce tribal warriors during America's Wild West days.

The tribal chief came to them and said, "The bad news is that, now that we've caught you, we're going to kill you, and then use your skins to make a canoe. The good news is that you get to choose how to die."

The Frenchman said, "I take ze poison." The chief gave him some poison extracted from local berries. The Frenchman cried, "Viva la France!" and drank down the poison.

The Englishman said, "A pistol for me, please." The chief hesitated over that request but decided, if they gave him just one bullet and watched him carefully, he couldn't really do any harm. So he gave him an old pistol. The Englishman pointed it at his head, cried, "God save the queen!", and blew his brains out.

The Texan said, "Gimme a fork." The chief was puzzled, but he shrugged his shoulders and gave him a fork. The Texan took the fork, cried, "Remember the Alamo!", and started jabbing himself repeatedly, all over his body, with the fork.

The chief was appalled and screamed, "What are you doing?"

The Texan looked at the chief and said, defiantly, "See if THIS will float!"

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Why God Made Moms

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of a little girl was your mom?
1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about Dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine..

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Baltimore Oriole

We visited Doug's step-mother today, across the border in Michigan, and were treated to a sighting of a Baltimore Oriole. We don't see these birds often where we live, so this was a special treat. The following images where shot through a window, so the quality is somewhat lacking; but I couldn't resist sharing them.

The bird seemed very eager to sample the nectar in the humming bird feeder which hung from the eave over the window, but he could see us inside; and it made him nervous. He finally gave in to temptation, apparently deciding that the reward was worth the risk.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Back Yard Happenings

Spring has been really slow arriving in our area this year. In looking back at some older photos, I find images of our yard with the trees and shrubs in full bloom in mid-April. Here we are, two to three weeks later this year, and the buds are just making an appearance. Our neighbor's magnolia tree finally blossomed about a week ago. The redbud are just hitting their stride here.

So I can't share any glorious photos of flowering trees and shrubs yet, but here are a few recent images from our yard.

This gray squirrel is enjoying some pistachios that had been in our cupboard too long. (That's a pistachio shell under his tail, just in case you were wondering.)

Our Pussy Willow tree has gotten so tall that it's hard to get a shot of its furry "blossoms." It's an early bloomer, so this picture looks skimpier than it would have a few weeks ago. But the weather's been so nasty that I couldn't have gotten a decent photo at all a few weeks ago.

This is a cluster of buds on our crab apple tree. In a normal year, this tree would have blossomed in all its glory and be dropping its blooms by now. But at least it shows promise of blooming one day soon.

I suspect that everyone recognizes the hardy and cheerful little dandelion. This pesky flower doesn't really seem to be impeded by weather or even by the lawn treatment we paid good money for.

This is a lingering bloom on a forsythia bush.

About six weeks ago, our young neighbor approached us and asked if he could prune and spray our apple tree, which we have neglected for years, in return for letting him have the apples. (He did promise us some homemade applesauce, though.) We gave him free rein with the tree, and he pruned it to beat the band. We weren't sure at first whether it would even survive. But leaves eventually popped out. And, just today, I found these buds on it. Bring on the applesauce!

Update: Doug says I got it wrong. He says the neighbor was planning to make apple CIDER, not appleSAUCE.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

I've Got Nothin'

It's been over a week since I last posted anything here, and I apologize to anyone who may have been waiting with bated breath for my next installment. I don't know what is going on with me, but I just haven't had any blogging inspiration lately.

I look at my blog every day and feel guilty about not having anything interesting to write about. Then I consider following in Suldog's footsteps and signing off of blogging permanently. Then I think, "But I may have something to share somewhere down the road." Then I think, "But I can't expect people to still be interested by then."

So, instead of spending my time in creating an interesting blog post, I'm spending it in arguing with myself.

For now anyway, I'll just say that I will keep the blog alive; I just can't promise regular posting to it.

Now watch...a marvelous blog post idea will probably come to me as soon as I click "Publish" on this one.
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