Friday, December 24, 2010

The Night Before Christmas (A True Story)




This is my version of Clement C. Moore's "The Night Before Christmas".

'Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

My child wasn't nestled all snug in his bed,
Television was on, Dino Dan danced in his head.
And I in my kerchief, my husband in his cap,
Made room in our tummies for an apres dinner snack,

When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
Away to the hall I flew like a flash,
Tore open the baby gate and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the old fallen snow,
Gave the luster of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature Peromyscus so tiny and dear,
With an orange old cat so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he had caught St. Mick.

More rapid than eagles my little son came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name,
"Now, Phineas! Now, Patty! Now, Daddy and Mom!
The mouse is loose! He's at the top of the wall!"
Now dash away, cats, dash away all!

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the housetop the dwellers we flew,
With a shoe box, gloves, and St. Mickey Mouse, too.

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of more mice on the roof.
As I climbed up the chair and was turning around,
Down into the shoebox St. Mickey came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his coat was all tarnished with dust and with dirt.
A bunch of wet marks the cat left on his back,
And he looked scared like burglar caught opening his pack.

His eyes, how they twinkled! His whiskers, how merry!
His cheek pouches were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the fur on his belly was as white as the snow.

The stump of a seed he held tight in his teeth,
And his ears encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a pointy face and a little round belly
That shook when he trembled like a bowl full of jelly.

My husband spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
And put on his coat, then turned with a jerk,
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, the back door he chose.

He sprang to the shed, to the mouse gave a whistle,
And away the mouse flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim as he scurried out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat?

 
Our yard has no shortage of spiders. Our basement has no shortage of spiders either, for that matter. In the spirit of the Halloween season, I give you this spider web, a trick for those of you who are afraid of spiders, a treat for those who can appreciate a nice web. Happy Halloween!
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Intruder Caught

 
Recently police have been warning county residents about a serial burglar who enters through open garage doors or open doors and windows. I forget the total number of burglaries but it's enough to make you a little on edge. Today I noticed the garage door light flickering on and off, leading me to believe something was in the garage. Turns out its that dirty groundhog again! He was right under the door sniffing a banana peel I had carelessly left on top of the full compost pail. I guess that's what I get for failing to dump the kitchen waste in a timely manner. The other day my husband opened the door to put something in the compost pail, and sure enough the groundhog was right there. All it takes is one time to forget to close the garage door, and sure enough the intruder will take the opportunity to check out the premises and help himself to whatever he wants.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mystery Solved

 
 
 
During the blizzard, something dug a big hole under our house. Turns out it's a groundhog. We haven't had one for years. It must have moved in from across the street. It also has a hole under our porch. One day I was trying to get a picture when it was under the porch, and a few minutes later, it appeared on the other side of the house. Either we have more than one, or its burrow goes all the way from the front of the house to the side. I hate to think what it's doing under there, but actually I don't really give it much thought. What's worse is that it eats everything I plant. About the only things I can grow are hostas and mums, both of which it likes to dine on. I just planted a mum covered in flowers and then it ate about half the flowers off. I affectionately refer to him (or her) as "that dirty groundhog!".
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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Butterflies and Bees

 
 
 
I'd like to say these pictures are from my yard, but they are not. They are from a local garden. I did buy a butterfly bush so maybe it will attract some butterflies next year.
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Hummingbird

 
This is not a good picture, but hummingbirds are fast. We finally had them coming semi regularly for about a month or so, when before they would only pass through. Next year I will be more diligent about putting out the feeder for them.
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Monday, September 06, 2010

Bucks

 
 
Sorry I have not posted lately. The mosquitoes limit my outdoor activity to only as long as I can stand being eaten alive, which is about 5 minutes. Stupidly, I only tend to go outside during peak mosquito activity. I did get these buck pictures. I also have more to post, some animals you have not seen on my blog yet. So stay tuned.
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Two Worms Are Better Than One

How to Play with Worms:
 
Step 1. Find a good location.
 
Step 2. Poke worm with stick, until it becomes two worms.
 
Step 3. Grasp worm tightly.

Step 4. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fox Born This Year!

Tonight we saw a slightly mangey fox. It stood on a log in the distance for a while before disappearing. Then it reappeared, running along our walkway, followed by the cutest baby fox! Well, it wasn't really a baby, but it wasn't full grown either, and must have been born this year. It had a distinctive dark spot of fur above its tail. I've never seen a fox with an unusual pattern like that before, so he will be easy to recognize. Then I saw it run under our deck! It came back out, hiding in the ferns, while I ran to get my camera, but I was too late, as it ran off into the park. Unfortunately, I took my camera trap inside since it hadn't taken any pictures lately, but I'll put it back out when I confirm it still works.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Something of the Canine Variety

 
 
When I checked the LCD of my camera outside, I saw what looked like a coyote. I thought, "Nah, how could we have coyotes in this area? It's probably just a dog." But I was excited at the prospect of it being a coyote because it sure did look like one. I thought this is either gonna be really good, or really disappointing, but not terribly disappointing since I've never gotten a picture of a dog before. Turns out, it's a coyote! I showed Camera Trap Codger to confirm the identification. Makes me a little uneasy knowing coyotes are around, since my toddler runs around outside all the time, sometimes getting out of my view before I can catch up to him. In the first shot at 10:39 p.m. on April 28th, you can see the glowing eyes, and only 33 seconds later he is right up close. Occasionally, you do hear stories of a random coyote showing up at a 7-11 in downtown Chicago, but you never expect to see one in suburban Virginia. In all my years of living in Virginia, I don't recall ever seeing one. So this is about as exciting as it gets.
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

New Camera, New Location

 
 
 
 
My old camera trap stopped working so Camera Trap Codger swapped it for one of his extra camera traps. He managed to get the old one working, and I eventually got the hang of using the new camera trap. I put it in a new location and was pleased to finally get some pictures of this young buck.
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Black Snake in the House

I'm a little behind posting. Back in the beginning of March, we found a snake skin in our house, wrapped around some pipes in the basement. It measured over 5 feet long. Our guest bedroom is in the basement, but I figured what our guests don't know won't hurt them. We never did find the snake so we assume it made its way back outside. The other day while I was moving some bricks around outside, I found a small ring necked snake. It kept finding its way under the bricks so I had to gently nudge it with a stick. I've also found several salamanders hiding under logs and bricks recently.
 
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Great Horned Owl

Last night at about 1 a.m. I heard a 4 note owl call, 14 times. At first it was very close, and it quickly sounded more and more distant, til I drifted off back to sleep. At least, I think it's a great horned owl, since that's what Camera Trap Codger thinks, and also I found Owl Pages has a clip of a "pair calling" which sounds pretty similar to what I heard (although what I heard didn't seem to be a pair). The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has a web page describing the four types of owls found in Virginia.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rat Caught on Video!!!

The rat had been eating sunflower seeds in the garage during the blizzard, but I had been remiss in feeding him recently. The store was totally out of birdseed today, so I put on the porch some of our dwindling supply of sunflower seeds. I caught a glimpse of the rat going onto the porch and then it disappeared, but it kept coming back getting seeds and going back under the house, where a groundhog once lived. My digital camera was too slow to even get a picture of it, but I did get a short video. Not sure what my son was trying to say, probably something like "There it is!". I'd say it's a pretty cute rat, wouldn't you?
video

Glacier

 
We now have a glacier across our street, which will probably be there for some time. For several days after the most recent blizzard, truck after truck came and dumped load after load of snow. They must have gathered up all the snow in the county. It's about twice as tall as I am, and that's only one of the glaciers they created. I'm wondering if it will start to move when it melts, destroy everything in its path, and leave behind a huge pond.
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Desperate Deer

 
I had just put my son down to sleep, when I come out and see a deer eating birdseed off our windowsill (the same window where the squirrel had been eating bird seed in an earlier post), with one of our cats right in its face, only separated by the glass. That's something you don't see every day. The poor deer are desperate and it's snowing AGAIN. We're due for another 10-20 inches with sleet and freezing rain. Last night we threw out lettuce and a cherry tomato off the front porch, but the deer didn't eat it. I guess they prefer bird seed. Good thing we bought more at the store today. I counted 9 deer in our yard. Usually we only see them in the back yard, not on our front doorstep. This is getting ridiculous. I guess that's what I get for attracting them with my compost pile. The picture is pretty bad, but you can see the deer's ears, and the blob in front is our cat.
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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Signs of Life

 
 
 
The foxes left their tracks in the snow. They seem to have taken shelter under our deck, headed for the woods, and decided to turn around and come back. They checked out the pond (now just a slight impression), and went along the house towards the wood pile. There was a set of smaller prints which may have been a rodent of some kind, light enough to not sink into the snow. Lots of birds visited our feeder, including juncos, titmouses (or titmice?), cardinals and nuthatches (which we don't normally see at feeders), and finches. A couple unfortunate birds hit our window, probably blinded by the snow. I also saw a hawk chasing a smaller bird. Haven't seen any deer. There are also signs of a rodent in our garage, which has been elusive so far, but I'm trying to get a picture.
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Second Blizzard of the Season

 
 
 
 
On February 6th, we got dumped on again. I measured 14.5 inches, but that was near the house. In places it drifted to over 25 inches. The weirdest thing was that in my footprints, the snow looked light blue, like blue glaciers and ice bergs I'm sure you've seen pictures of.
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