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.

Wabbit Wars and Mosquito Terrorism

Lobelia erinus

Image via Wikipedia

I just stepped outside with a glass of Shiraz in hand after finishing a beautiful plate of Tilapia and wheat rotini to admire the 2011 Monet Vision. I looked forward to wandering about  the yard sipping the sumptuous full-bodied red while admiring the perennials at sunset. Within nano-seconds, a swarm of Mosquitos attacked. Caught by surprise, I flailed about vigorously swatting with the Shiraz swishing dangerously close to sloshing over the lip of the glass. I fled to the safety of the house without spilling a drop of the mellow red, but now I itch all over. Without a doubt the Mosquitos are a formidable enemy, and put the Wabbits to shame. The Wabbits confine themselves to eating flowers, the Mosquitos attack people. That is not fair.

Thank God, the new air conditioner is working well. I can hide within the Man-Cave in comfort and admire the Vision from behind the safety of glass.

It will be painful to watch the Wabbits accost the Lobelia and be too afraid to leave the safety of the house to chase them away.

A new ally will be visible tonight. The Fire Flies have arrived. I look forward to watching their showy aerobatics around the darkest corners of the yard. The Fire Fly Air Force of 2011 will enhance the 2011 Monet Vision to add a moving light show, and night-time splendor.

A side benefit, the Fire Flies eat mosquitos.

Fire Fly Air Force 2011 Arrives Just in Time To Save Grumpa Joe

Nature is cruel at times.

Kick It Into High Gear

It is time to reflect on the past year and to account for the precious time granted me by the Lord. I struggled with my accomplishment list as I took inventory of what I did. I recalled that during my working years, at the end of a busy day, I often told my staff, “Well, we didn’t get much done today, but we will give it hell tomorrow.” So here goes my advice to myself, “Well Joe, you didn’t get much done in 2010, so give it hell in 2011.”

My accomplishment list is short this year, but the projects were larger. Here is a short list of things I am proud of:

I posted one hundred and seventy-five pieces on my BLOG. Among these posts were fifty-six political cartoons. Some of them were genius, others mediocre.

I wrote two children’s stories and submitted them to publishers: “FLYING TO THE SUN,” and “MOON CAKES TO GO.”  I rewrote a children’s story titled “FIRE FLY AIR FORCE,” for summer, and two Christmas stories, “SANTA IS MISSING, and “THE GIFT,” in time for Christmas.

Peggy and I spent twelve weeks basking in the sunny climes of Arizona while my kids stayed home to shovel snow. We visited cousins and friends in California.

Lion Joe organized and led the STRIDES: Lions Walk for Diabetes Awareness, with a team of really great Lincoln-Way High School teachers, and Lions.

In between those activities, Grumpa Jose  kept the garden in order, and the lawn maintained. This is the first year, I was proud of the green grass in front of our home. While I was tending the front with loving care, the backyard lawn turned  into thistle and chickweed.  Jose also waged a war with the Wabbits and built barriers around his flower beds. The Wabbit wars were documented on the BLOG. Just as the fence along our southern border fails to keep out drug runners, my fences were no match for the Wabbits. It turned out that West Nile virus is a more effective deterrent. While I waited for the virus to kick in, the Wabbits consumed my prize perennials.

In order to keep my sanity during this activity called 2010, I kept calm and chilled by consuming eight cases of red wine. Of all the accomplishments, the wine tasting was my favorite.

Finally, here is some  wisdom for my friends:

I know you didn’t get much done in 2010, so kick it into high gear, and give it hell in 2011.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

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