Sunday, April 13, 2014


Spring is in full swing in this small corner of Louisiana. Birds are flying through on their way North that haven't really been seen here all winter. But what I'm most recently proud of was identifying the "smooch ... Smooch" call of a Northern Mockingbird. We rarely see them in Maine and I don't consciously recall hearing one on the farm since moving there from Vermont in the mid 70's. All accomplished with "Merlin", my bird ID app on my iPhone from Cornell.

Happy Spring folks.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Disability From The Inside Looking Out

I've been reading Jay since she was barely out of her teens, discovering herself amid the absurdities of urban Toronto as a fledgling drinker, socialite and social worker. She's come a long ways, baby...

"I am the face of disability. It's not necessarily (hopefully not, anyway) the face you expect to see getting out of the car in a handicapped parking space, but not every disability comes with age, and not all are visible."

"We call them "hidden disabilities" although if you have known me over the past 10 years, you'll know I have trouble hiding it, as much as I'd like to. I have chronic pain. Deep and abiding pain. Pain that never gets better but does get a whole lot worse, at inconvenient times, and in suprising and sometimes humiliating ways. I have an incurable disease, an "orphan disease" which is a pitiable term meaning that there are no doctors in my country with any kind of knowledge of it, and there is no funding being allocated to rectifying that. When I meet a new doctor, I have to spell out my disease so they can Google it, and then I am their guinea pig while they throw treatments at me just to see if any stick. They never really do. I wake up in pain every day of my life. No, that's not quite true. Some days I don't wake up because I was in too much pain to sleep. My good days are more than enough to keep most people in bed but I lived that life in the early years of my diagnosis, and it's not for me. Lots of people with my disease are on disability, but I'm trying not to be one of them. Instead, I structure my life around my pain in order to live as fully as I can..."
Do read the whole entry at her blog Kill The Goat. It's an enlightening piece.

This Is Gonna Hurt...

photo borrowed from The Flying Tortoise
original copyright holder unknown.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mardi Gras

Today is Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, the traditional day for Carnivale in Rio de Janiero and Mardi Gras here in Louisiana. Sadly, it's grey, rainy and bitterly cold in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Those who would normally flash their naughty bits are seeking padded bras rather than beads. There are no bare cheeks in chaps on Bourbon Street this afternoon as rain and temps in the 30's drown gay boy's exuberance.

It was 29°F this morning, icing overpasses and bridges in spots at sunrise. Temperatures climbed a few degrees, but not very far. Today was the 32nd freezing day in Red Stick this Winter. Unusual, but not a record. With climate change accelerating as the polar ice decreases (Yes, Virginia, global warming is real), vernal swings are to be expected to occur more frequently. With the Jet Stream resembling a Sine wave on an oscilloscope, these unpleasant swings are happening within a shortening period.

Having noted a -1°F reading in Bangor the other day, I am NOT complaining, merely observing. I am much happier at 70° one day and 32° the next than I'd be below zero.

Anyway, let the good times roll, just don't forget your longjohns and umbrellas.

And So It Goes.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Unwanted Hitchhiker

This is NOT who you want to find hanging out, waiting for a ride deeper into the swamp. Let's go fishing, boys!

It's been cold and windy and rainy, off and On. Not golf ball sealing weather by any means. Not really fishing weather, either. But the Bass Pro catalog arrived a few days ago and I feel the juices stirring...

And So It Goes...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Here We Go, Again

Roads once again ice and snow covered here with almost everything shut down, curfews in place. Martial law the next step if the food supply doesn't catch up quickly. Power lines are predicted to fail after daybreak with winds projected. Oh joy... And I have bronchitis, too. A bad winter here but far, far worse in Maine.
Stay warm, y'hear.
And So It Goes...

Friday, January 24, 2014

This is NOT the "Life of Riley"

For those of you old enough to recognize the title of the radio/TV show above, you can fathom the depth of emotion I'm conveying by saying "What a revolting development THIS is." upon discovering all bridges, cars and other quickly cooled surfaces are covered in ice, like all of the Interstates and bridges across the Mississippi River. A good day to stay at home.

 And So It Goes.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Live Oaks

Sitting outside the Live Oaks HS. Waiting for a granddaughter to finish a baton clinic (who knew a baton gets sick?) I was struck by how beautiful this tree is.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Oodles of Noodles

So, I hit my head yesterday. Second time in a week. Second time I've been bit by the corner of the bedroom slide out. Second time I've drawn blood. First time that I saw stars for more than a moment. And the first time that I should have had a stitch taken in the skull this week. Number 1 Grandson found the piece of pipe insulation in the shed, there being none to be had in the entire Southern half of the US after the Arctic Vortex got done extorting millions of households this past week, shaking them down for every last drop of fuel oil, Natural and LP gas, firewood and KW of electricity. I scavanged the swim noodle, leaving an IOU for a new one when they hit local shelves in a month or so (swim season starts early here) and performed required surgery thereupon.

Voila! No more bloodbath, I hope.

And So It Goes.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Updates and Merlin Bird ID App & Fwd: Cornell Lab eNews: Happy Birding This New Year With Our Free ID App

Well, the sub-freezing weather is gone for awhile. Actually, I'd be happier if it didn't return at all - these folks aren't ready to cope with freezing temperatures here in central Louisiana. I hear the plumbers will be out straight for two weeks, repairing frozen pipes. Then comes the painters and plasterers, they get to tackle water-damaged ceilings and walls. Good for the trades. Keeps insurance adjusters afloat. The big box stores are doing land office business in what is usually their quiet time. But homeowners are taking it on the chin, according to the news broadcasts.

I haven't even begun to deal with the damage from the sub-zero freeze up we had in Maine in early December. I do know the water pump and hot water heater are shot. Haven't assessed the extent of pipe joints and pex that will need replacement. Just hoping the water tank and waste tank made it through unscathed. Maybe next month I can start the process of tearing out everything from the "basement". Nothing is coming out until I know there is no further freeze up possible this year. I can limp along with water jugs and sponge baths a while longer. I know for certain the black tank is sound (don't ask).

I got this news release in my morning email. If you like birds, as do I and the Mrs., then this FREE app for iPhones and ipads is just what the doctor ordered. If you do Android smartphones or pads, signup to be notified when that version is ready for use, too.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Cornell Lab eNews: Happy Birding This New Year With Our Free ID App
From: Cornell Lab of Ornithology <>

In this issue: a free, easy-to-use bird ID app, winter garden tips, a very large eagle, and more.
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Cornell Lab eNews

January 2014

Download our free Merlin Bird ID app for iPhone and iOS7
Click image to watch a short video about how the app works.

Introducing Merlin Bird ID: A New Kind of Birding App

Information overload is the bane of the beginning bird watcher—as anyone knows who has ever flipped through 40 species of sparrows in a field guide. What if an app could quickly tell you which birds are most likely based on your location, date, and a brief description? Not just which birds theoretically could occur near you, but which birds are actually reported most often by other birders. That’s what Merlin Bird ID does. And it's free—because we want to make bird watching easier for everyone. 

Merlin Bird ID covers 285 of the most common birds of North America (with more on the way). In addition to help with ID, it contains expert tips, more than 1,400 gorgeous photos, and sounds for each species. It’s available now for iPhone and other iOS7 devices, and it's coming soon for Android. 
Do you know which species this is?
Do you know the name of this yellow, green, and black seed-eater? Photo by Collins Cochran via Birdshare.

Which Species Is This?

Our latest mystery bird is a little yellow, a little green, and sometimes a little black. These small, primarily Western birds sing songs that include snippets mimicked from other species. Breeding males are distinctive, but in winter you might overlook them at your feeders, thinking they are another kind of American gold. Do you know what species this is? Check your guess and learn more.

Test yourself with more quiz photos: The above photo features a helpful shot of a bright breeding male. Want to see some more challenging plumages? Test your wits against this set from Project FeederWatch. How many can you get? 
Evergreen holiday wreaths can double as winter shelter for birds.
A nice winter feeding station by Linda Roa via Project FeederWatch.

Your Holiday Greenery Can Double as Winter Bird Habitat

in January and February, with no leaves on deciduous trees, shelter can be hard to come by. That’s when birds turn to evergreens, whose dense needles offer protection from heavy precipitation and wind. Right now, you can breathe new life into your holiday wreaths and boughs by placing them near feeders and birdbaths. Read our full set of tips on making a welcoming winter garden—the birds will thank you.

Top 10 Green Garden Books: If the weather outside is frightful, escape to warmer days by planning your spring garden. Our YardMap project suggests these great books for green gardens as inspiration. 
Video: Golden Eagle flying through snow in Wyoming

A Quiet Moment in the Snow—With a Very Large Eagle

Our Multimedia program is working on a documentary about the great sagebrush ecosystems of the American West. Tying together the many strands of that story is one of the region's top predators, the Golden Eagle. On a filming expedition last fall, as a morning snowstorm descended on the gray-green plains of Wyoming, we captured a brief moment with one of these majestic predators. Watch it.
Get Ready for a Global Bird Count: The Great Backyard Bird Count happens this coming February 14–17. Participation is free and open to anyone, anywhere in the world. We hope you'll join us!
Birding Goes Mainstream? A lengthy article in USA Today says 2014 is the year for bird watching—and makes a pretty good case.
Share Photos and Win: Enter photos, stories, or artwork by Jan. 15 in our Fascinating Feathers challenge, or check out our BirdSpotter contest with new weekly themes through Feb. 24.
Giving the Gift of Data: Over the holidays, Cornell Lab scientist Caren Cooper described for the CitizenSci blog how doing citizen science is like giving gifts to needy scientists.
Take a Road Trip: Our Upcoming Bird Festivals webpage makes it easy to plan your next birding destination. You can look through listings by calendar or on a map, so you can start planning your road trip right from the page.

Create a Legacy for Birds

Learn how to make a planned gift to the Cornell Lab
Northern Cardinal by Phil Haber.
A great way to create a legacy for birds is to include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in your will. A bequest allows you to maximize use of your funds today while providing for the Lab tomorrow.  And modifying your will to provide a legacy for birds is easy. Some of the benefits:
  • A bequest provision will create a lasting legacy for birds.
  • Your bequest will not be subject to potential federal estate taxes.
  • You may designate how you’d like your bequest to be used and you may change it at any time.
For more information, visit our Legacy for Birds website, call Scott Sutcliffe at 607-254-2424, or send an email to
Find Us on Facebook: If you're on Facebook but don't follow us yet—please join our community of 172,000 fans for a daily dose of bird quizzes, gorgeous videos, fascinating articles, and tons of photos. 
Like on Facebook

Attention Educators: Check Out These Resources

Attend a special free webinar on Jan 20.
Free Webinar Jan. 20: Feeding birds can spark kids’ curiosity, interest in the outdoors, and engagement with science. Learn how to make feeders, identify birds, and more in our free Feeding Our Feathered Friends webinar, Jan. 20 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

The Ordinary Extraordinary Junco is a series of free, short videos and teacher resources produced by scientists at Indiana University. They've studied the birds for decades, and their excellent videos cover myriad science-standards-related topics.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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Sunday, January 05, 2014

Tight fit

Not much sunlight, but we're in here.