Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bird Stuff

I should be grading papers, but. . .

--Mike called as he was leaving for work and told me to go look at the large hawk that was perched on the poolhouse fence. From his angle he thought it was a red tail, a common hawk around here. I watched it for about ten minutes, including with binoculars, and when it finally flew, I could see that the tail was straight and striped, not fanned and rust-colored. It wasn't a red tail, it was a northern harrier. Red tails can be seen all winter, but I usually only see about one northern harrier a year.

--The feeder birds are eating so much seed they are going to put us in the poorhouse.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The birds are absolutely frenetic at our birdfeeders this morning. They must sense that another storm is on the way. At any time there are a dozen+ birds out there, on the ground, at the feeders, and in the trees. Just this morning we've seen chickadees, titmice, juncos, carolina wrens, house finches, cardinals, bluejays, white-throated sparrows, goldfinches, and best of all - two downy woodpeckers. Now that they've discovered the feeder, they will probably be regulars. I will try to get a picture at some point.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thoughts About the Third Monday in January

Today we are having a teacher workday. Students are out of school. In other ways, we are tacitly acknowledging MLK Day. And I think it's about time.

For years I've heard how MLK was a communist, a womanizer, and if we're going to celebrate a day honoring a man of color, we should celebrate George Washington Carver or someone like that. Well, all of that may be true. Or it may not be. Who knows. The issue of MLK Day, however, has gone far beyond the man itself.

As a friend of mine once said, "If you used to have to eat at the back door of restaurants, or sit in the balcony at a theater, or use a separate restroom and water fountain, or go to a separate school - you too might want to honor the man who started the ball rolling for getting those restrictions lifted."

When we moved to Alabama when I was seven years old, there was a laundromat across the street from our house with a sign in the front window that said "White Only." I asked my mother where people were supposed to wash their colored clothes.

I remember driving past the blacks-only school in our southern town and instinctively realizing that something was not right about that. I remember the trauma of integration during my freshman and sophomore years of high school.

Years ago, probably 23 or so, we helped my father-in-law clean out his storeroom, which was in what the family called his "old office" - the office in which he practiced medicine during the '50s and early '60s. I went around trying to figure out what the dusty rooms were originally used for. The office had two windows, not the usual one which opened into the waiting room. There were two waiting rooms. Black people were not allowed to sit with the white people. That's just the way it was in the deep south in the sixties.

Yes, there are excesses and overreactions in recent years - on both sides. But the treatment of people of color in those days was very, very wrong. That's why my juniors read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD every year. They need to know what things were like back then. And if being out of school on MLK day is a small way to right that wrong, and to send a message to the community that we "get it," then that's a good thing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Morning Thoughts

Although most main roads are pretty good by now - still a few places of black ice - there is still much snow and ice on the ground. It's beautiful to look at, especially early in the morning as I drive to school. It's different than any other ice or snowstorm we've had. The crust of ice that formed on top of the snow makes the ground look like ice lakes or giant iceskating rinks. I regret every morning not having the camera with me, though it would be difficult to get a picture at that time anyway.

My children went back to school yesterday. Always nice to see them go (moving on with their lives) ; always difficult to see them go. They are growing up.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Last Snow Pics

ML took these two pictures when they had the camera out on Monday taking pictures of all the snow playing. I thought that both of them, particularly the top one, are beautiful.

Tomorrow we go back to school - I go back to teaching, the kids to college. Public schools are out again, but that's probably unnecessary - the roads aren't too bad any more. You have to watch for the occasional bad place, but I'm glad we're getting another day in - that's one less we'll have to make up later.

The small amount of ice that fell on top of the snow now creates quite a sheen on the ground. It was more noticeable today when we got out for a little - I went to the nearby postal station and then Andrew and I went to check on Mom and Dad. It almost looks like you could iceskate on top of it. It's an unusual appearance for the snow/ice events that we do get around here.

Fun in the Snow

The kids and the K. boys had a great time in the snow Monday afternoon. This is the start of a snow fort - the supports were made with the use of a large garbage can. Due to cold wet workers, the fort was never finished. But that, along with a hike back to see what the swamp looked like in the snow, provided a fun nostalgic trip to what things were like about ten years ago.

ML against the pool house fence.
Bryon working on one of the "snow supports" for the fort.

Mr. Supervisor

and an assistant

Look what they did to her!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beautiful Snow

So maybe taking pictures of the birds in the snow makes me look like a little old lady sporting binoculars and khaki shorts, but it is beautiful to see them out there. Haven't seen this assortment of birds since. . .before we got Kitty 12 years ago. I hate having her gone, but this is a nice silver lining.

Just saw a rufous-sided towhee out there - they don't come out too much but will do anything when the food sources are scarce. I've also seen cardinals, Carolina wrens, goldfinches, titmice, Carolina chickadees, white-throated sparrows, and juncoes. They are swarming the feeders that Mike put up last week - just in time!


When the bad weather is over for sure, I will put out a pan of suet made last week, out of shortening, peanut butter, cornmeal, and sunflower seeds. That should probably be a sight to watch.

Beautiful cardinals - look how many below?!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Wrap-Up

In Andrew's bedroom - Mike has gone to sleep (if that's possible right now) and ML has her high school classmates out in the den for a post-homecoming reunion. Andrew has gone to Greenville to leave for Ft. Myers, FL for the weekend with the quartet. I'd like to go on to bed but am not quite ready yet - it's early, and since I taught all those kids probably ought to go back out there for a little bit in awhile.

The first two days of this week were nice and quiet. Then - we had spirit days. "Nerd Day" on Wednesday, "group day" on Thursday (pick anyone, any size group, and dress alike according to a theme of your choice) and school spirit day today. Just try to teach on a Friday afternoon, of the first week back in school after Christmas, after three days of spirit week, with homecoming that night, and the distinct possibility of snow days the first of the week. Absolutely crazy.

For homecoming tonight I had a different role - as the senior class sponsor, I helped with crowning the queen. I actually was only supposed to put the small crowns on the runners-up, but it's a good thing that a second person was up there - Pastor Bartlett couldn't get the crown off the pillow right away as the ribbon was a little stuck. It was interesting being behind the spotlight - that was a new thing to experience.

I really hope Andrew has a good weekend in Ft. Myers.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Can I Play With Your Phone?

Last night I stopped by the JV girls' basketball game, and my little friend Makayla (age 3) immediately came to sit on my lap. She was really friendly for a little while; then came the question she had been waiting to ask, "Can I play with your phone?" "Well," I said, "I don't think so - I don't want it to get dropped and broken." Immediately she slid off my lap and down the bleachers to her mom's lap. Why waste any more time if you know what you want isn't going to happen!