Day 52-SIP-Life Goes On

Every Spring I am blessed with a visit from a pair of mallard ducks. This morning, I spotted a rather violent splash of water in my water garden so lovingly referred to as my pond. The sun was shining so I knew it couldn’t be lightening or any storm related violence. I slowly crept up to the window with my camera ready. Low and behold, the splash was from the lady mallard landing in the water. Her faithful partner landed shortly thereafter. I have studied mallards to determine f they mate for life like swans, but they do not. In fact they are very promiscuous in their habits. Nevertheless, they like to sun themselves in my sacred little lake. Later this morning they will disappear until tomorrow at the same time.

Mallards Having Fun

I have dreams of the mallards raising their family in my back yard, but that has not been realized yet. I am hopeful that someday they will do it. The idea of seeing a dozen fuzzy little baby birds swimming around with mom is just too much to not want. I have watched parades of mallard families out for a training swim with their mother in the pond near the town of Frankfort. All I can say is that mom is relentless. She shows no mercy on her young. She swims around the entire pond and they have to keep up or they are lost. She never stops to rest, she just keeps on paddling, and the little ones keep up the struggle to show her they can make it.

At this time, the wetlands behind my house are loaded with Canada geese all nurturing their newly hatched families. There is already too much vegetation blocking my view so I won’t see any of the youngsters until mom and dad begin the flying lessons. Then I see them taking off in formation and circling overhead before landing again. They remind me of the jets doing similar exercises from an air base. When I wintered in Arizona I was ten miles away from Luke Air Base where they trained pilots. The way they fly and the train is so like the geese it is amazing. When I see pairs of geese coming in for a landing I also visualize F 15 fighter jets coming home.

Spring is also a great time to bird watch because so many birds are migrating and stop in the yard to feed and rest. My yard is loaded with warblers that are not yearlong residents They will disappear until some time in fall when they reverse migrate. The slate grey junco and the black juncos are now gone, or very rare. They migrate to the north into Canada to have their families. Meanwhile the flock of Canada geese that call Illinois their home is growing by leaps and bounds. Most likely because there are so many acres of fields planted in corn and soy beans that their food supply is plentiful, even in winter. One can see a thousand geese gleaming a newly harvested field. The next week, the same flock will be in another field doing the same. All I can say is that the farmers lose a lot of grain during their harvest.

A few years ago, we had a bout of mosquito borne bird flu called West Nle Virus which took out huge populations of popular wild birds. There was a day when I thought for sure I would never see another chickadee. Yet, many years later the chickadee and all the other birds damaged by the West Nile Virus have come back strong. We will also come back strong after COVID-19, but now we must suffer until we develop immunity. At this point, the only way I know of to get immunity is to get the disease and live through it.

Day 11-Another Day in the Garden

I woke up this morning to another cloudy day with a promise of a warm temperature. My KETO breakfast consisted of egg salad loaded with chopped scallions, onions, celery, and green pepper. Lunch was some very old freezer burned Groton fish sticks with cheese and a few green grapes. Supper will be fried Tilapia, cauliflower mash, and a mixed vegetable medley of brussel sprouts, green beens, and onions. I weighed this morning and I have not lost any weight for a couple of weeks now. That’s what I get for falling off the diet and overdosing on carbohydrates. I am about ten pounds away from my goal which is to weigh what I did when I was in the prime of life. Not that this isn’t the prime, but at the point when I was a serious bicycle rider, overly horny, and had energy to spare. Some of those prime qualities are beginning to reappear since my weight loss and I don’t have the carb sluggishness. But none of this has anything to do with what I began to write about.

I have just a few more days remaining before I completely clean my gardens from winter detritus. By then more plants will be pushing their way through the ground and buds will begin to appear on shrubs and trees. That is when I begin the Monet Vision 2020 overhaul. My goal this year is to minimize the amount of work I do ever year to create a new vision. Instead large spreads of colorful annuals I want to use existing perennials to turn the garden into a lower maintenance picture. I also intend to do better at vegetables by adding a salad garden. Big dreams, not really, but that is what day-eleven of self imposed exile is doing to keep my mind occupied.

Yesterday, I dredged the pond and removed about six cubic feet of heavy decayed leaves. It took an hour and a half to wear me out. Today, I attacked the backside of the pond and cleaned it out, but I only lasted for forty-five minutes. At least I now have the entire garden encircling the pond cleared. Next, will be the north garden defining the the property line between neighbors. After that, is the garden that provides the background for the pond. Eventually, I’ll get to the frontside of the house. I take a philosophical view of the front side. I don’t look at the front, but I spend a lot of time looking at the back garden. Sorry, folks, but I have the Italian approach to my gardens, i.e. why should I expend effort on making things look good for strangers. I learned from my friend Marco with whom I spent a whole day in Italy at our manufacturing plant. We went to lunch at a deli which looked like a dive from the outside, but once inside it was magnificent; paneled in mahogany, with granite countertops, sparkling glass show cases, chandeliers, mirrors, and tons of delicious foods to please our palates. I commented on the surprise of seeing such a dump externally, but at the beauty of the interior. Marco then told me the Italian custom to spend money living elegantly inside your home, and not spending money to show off to your neighbors. Made sense to me.

 

 

 

 

I am also hooked on watching mini-series TV programs, the latest is “Homeland.”  First I watch regular TV if any of my favorite shows are on, if no regular tv I watch a movie from On Demand, and if the movie ends early I will switch to a series.  A typical series consists of six to twelve episodes of a continuous story, each episode is one hour long without commercials. So far, I have completed “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel,” three-seasons, “Jack Ryan”, two-seasons and now  I’m nearly finished with”Homeland” season one. I love watching spy movies and both Homeland and Jack Ryan are based on CIA type plots. All I can say is if only ten percent of what I am watching is true I can understand why the world hates the USA and the CIA. We do a lot of bad things in the name of protecting our country from bad guys. Bad things happen both ways. The atrocities committed by our enemies are worse than those we commit against them. Two of the series have been about Muslim terrorist plots and nothing in the stories has convinced me that the muslims are poor good-guys that we are picking on.

Not a Single Minnow Left

Buddy Koi and Partner

Last week we had a beautiful day here in the tiny town of Frankfort. The birds woke me up early and I actually went out to the garden to plant a Castor Bean seedling a friend gave me. I got the fever. The pond needed another dredging before the water lilies over take it. I got my trusty fifty year old lawn rake out of the  garage and began scraping the bottom of the pond of organic mush, mostly decayed leaves. It took me about forty-five minutes to get around the perimeter. While doing that I kept my eyes open for fish survivors. In that whole time I spotted only one lonely Koi. Last Father’s Day my son-in-law surprised me by stocking the pond with two four inch koi and a couple dozen comet goldfish about on inch long. By the end of summer the koi grew to six inches and the gold fish to four inches.

At the beginning of fall I always shut down the pump which makes the water flow from the pond into a waterfall. That action keeps the water aerated. When the pump is off I usually install three aerators to keep air moving into the water. For three years in a row all the fish went belly up by mid November, that is, until last fall. I kept the pump going all winter long. The electric company kept sending me letters that my electricity consumption was thirty percent higher than any of my neighbors. Such is the cost of saving fish lives. At the end of winter when all the ice had melted on a nice sunny but cold day the two koi sunned themselves, and a beautiful black and orange comet joined them. Success! I saved the fish. I figured I better clear the skimmer of scum and lifted the lid. There sitting on the edge of the skimmer basket was a giant leopard frog. He took one look at me and jumped into deep water. Here we are nearly three months later and I am finally doing maintenance on my water-garden-fish-pond. I didn’t see the big frog, but I did scare up one tiny beeper. Throughout the dredging only the larger white koi revealed himself. I never saw a minnow nor the koi’s partner.

Today, I took a closer look at the pond. The water lillies have tripled in size and have covered over fifty percent of the water surface, by the end of next week they will be giant beautiful deep green round pads and the flowers will begin to bud. I stared at the beauty of it when I spotted a slight movement beneath the foliage. Ah! There between the pads was the second koi, and then his partner appeared. I am a proud daddy of two koi. But where are all of the comets? Then I remembered the now missing big frog. I’m sure he had a very large grin on his face as he departed the pond for the wetland behind the house. Still, there should be some comet minnows hiding somewhere, but I have yet to spot a single one.

Oh yeah, I finally limped back into the house after four hours. I haven’t been able to move my legs since. My quads and glutes are just burning and keeping me from bending, sitting, walking, or anything. The best first day of gardening ever!

Hello August

Hello August. I hope you intend to be good to the world again. Usually, you give us balmy dewey wet mornings followed by beautiful hot sunny days without much rain. You are the perfect month for lazy days by the seaside, and for birthday parties outside at night. Your daylight hours are noticeably shorter giving us a hint of the many light deprived days that are headed our way. Alas, let me not dwell on those dreary days but rather bask in the beauty of your warmth.

All around me I find birds busily scurrying to feed their last brood of the summer, the Comets dart from under the lily pads to grab a bug coming from the brook, frogs hunt amongst the spent foliage for something to eat while rabbits graze on clover blossoms and hop about the yard. Many new flowers like the native hibiscus with its giant bright flowers begin to pop open. Rose of Sharon blooms profusely in white, pink, and blue while the foliage of the peony bushes fade and wither. Day lilies continue to open new blimagejpeg_0.jpgoms among the spent ones, and the lawn is still lush green from the late summer rains.

Yes, August you are perfect for a birthday celebration, and I will enjoy my own in all your glory, and I thank you for giving me your magnificence.

Rabbit_in_montana.jpg

I Give a Rat’s Rear

The 2015 Monet Vision is in its Blizzard White phase, and I could care less. The snow is pretty looking at it from the warmth of a house, but it becomes a hazard when outside. I don’t care about snow at my age. I’ve seen enough to last the rest of my lifetime. No longer do I rush outside to shovel the drive or the walks. I tend to let it accumulate and hope the sun melts it off. That however, is a dream. It’ll be May before we get the temperatures to melt off a snow pile. Instead, I will drag myself out with shovel in hand to push the snow off the walks and the drive. If I don’t, then walking becomes hazardous, and tedious. I’ll just let the beauty of it all soak in a while longer before I venture out with shovel in hand.

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