Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oh Deer!

For the last few years I've become pretty obsessed with eagles. In the past when we went driving around we would always be on the lookout for deer. After thinking about it, I realized that lately I actually see more eagles than deer while roaming our back roads. So, Wednesday I experimented. On my drive back from Dodgeville, I took the county road instead of the main highway. I hadn't gone to far before I ran across a deer foraging on the edge of some woods. Things looked fairly good for deer watching. Then another deer and a small group of turkeys. Another deer eating out of a corn crib right next to the road was barely bothered by my presence even posed for a few pictures. More turkeys and then, BaDAh! Four eagles out in a field gnawing on some kind of carcass. Deer three, Eagles four, Turkeys seven. Just to cap things off for the eagle team one more did a flyby as I approached Fennimore. One trip does not a conclusion make. (I heard that somewhere during a chocolate induced dream) Saturday, after visiting Jo's Mom with Saffie, I hit old County Q again, this time with a witnesses. Bang, a deer right off. Aha! Then fiftysome turkeys and another deer, and another deer and more turkeys (with turkeys I stop counting at ten) A real good deer day and then around a corner and over a hill... five eagles. In a tree, on the ground, and in the air doing their usual wing-flipping off signs at me. But then over one more hill and the deer rallied, three of them dining on last fall's corn spillage in a field below us. Ha, that makes six deer, a million turkeys and only five eagles and less than five miles to home. Oh there's an eagle in that tree, oh there's one flying right at us, oh there's another in that tree by the creek and I think that may be one way out there in that tree. And we're home. Final score for Saturday, a million turkeys, six deer and eight or nine eagles. Two day total, Deer, nine, Turkeys, several million, and Eagles, twelve or thirteen.
Makes one wonder, do the eagles prefer venison to turkey?

"Watch out there's Eagles up ahead!"

"Don't worry guys, the Eagle only eat deer."

Eagle on the prowl.
It even has a deer stand for hunting

This just looked like it should be shot.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Butt Out!!!

While traveling across state (Wisconsin) last Saturday, I noticed a decaying barn. Not unusual now days but this barn was different than the ones that dot the countryside. It was an old tobacco barn. I was passing through an area were, not too many years ago, it was normal to see small fields of tobacco growing and bright red, long, tall barns loaded with sheathes of tobacco hanging inside. Now, thanks to our health consciousness, these fields have shifted to the production of more acceptable crops like corn and soy beans. I guess without those extra acres pumping out those evil leafs we'll all be better off (except maybe the farmer). But, as I look back on my last post, (see how much better my memory is since the arrival of my memory foam pad) I realize how the demise of tobacco will effect more than just barns. Pipe Dreams? Where will they come from? Will more people resort to smoking other things in their pipes to induce dreams? Never mind, that would never happen. I guess one could equip those barns with gro-lights and cultivate "medicinal" herbs. Another thought, that kind of falls into this whole tobacco/pipe thing, pertains to the corn crop. One of the more enjoyable pastimes out on the farm was smoking behind the barn. This covers a whole bunch of things all at once. Usually the fuel that was smoked was corn silk (the surgeon general never said anything about that). The main smoking implement was usually a corn cob pipe. Corn cob pipes were popularized by the likes of General Douglas MacArther, Mark Twain (as well as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn) and hillbillies. Fortunately other uses have been found for the corn that's not being used for pipes and smoking silk. Now we can use fuel made from that corn to drive out into the country and see the skeletons of those wonderful buildings of yesteryear.

The barn that got thoughts rolling.General MacArther with his signature corn cob.
"Old Soldiers Never Die They Just Puff Away!"

I didn't know that tobacco plants bloomed. Who knew?

Forerunner of Super Bowl" ads!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I finally figured out a way to remember all of the great ideas that come to me in the middle of the night . . . "Memory Foam". Last week I ordered a new pad for my mattress because I was experiencing various aches and pains during "nightie night" time. Great ideas come in bunches. Kill two birds with one foam, get a memory foam mattress pad therefore providing more comfort as I sleep and aid in my memory as I lay awake (not aching). So far the comfort level is more comfortable and here is proof that the memory has has become more memorable. At first I thought this might just cause pipe dreams. Then I thought, "what the hell are pipe dreams?". They could be dreams that one has when:
you fall asleep in a culvert,

you could rely on your power of elementary deduction while puffing on your Calabash,

you could stir up dreams of writing tales of the "Mighty Mississippi",

or, you could chuckle as you remember making anonymous phones calls asking,
"do you have Prince Albert in the can?".

See how much that foam has helped out. I think some of it might have seeped into my brain. Back to other late night thoughts. I saw an article in the newspaper announcing the opening of a Bob Dylan art exhibit. With the help of my memory foam I visualized how Bob's art might look. For instance, a self portrait -

Just one other morsel of wisdom that dawned on me just before dawn. In a neighboring community a cheesemaker has announced the release of a limited amount of fifteen year old cheddar. I guess this is a big deal although I believe that at one time or another, I've seen Velvetta older than that. At any rate for those of who really care, I do have some thirty plus year old gourmet macaroni to go with it.

That's about I can handle right now. I think I'll have to limit the time I spend on my memory pad. Guess I'll just enjoy a pipefull of dreams and go out Eagle hunting. The snow stopped, the sun's out and my batteries are charged. More than likely the Eagles are already hiding out.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, Monday

As I sit here watching the snowing and blowing outside my laboritory window, I fondly look back on the old days. Actually yesterday. This is my side of the story. I had to run an errand to the next town over. As usual, I decided to take the back roads home. This time I was sure that I was ready for wildlife action with my camera riding "shotgun". I guess the "wildlife" was anticipating the predicted snowstorm because the woods and fields were alive with crows and hawks and an eagle or two out searching for a few last minute meals. Most of the "subjects" were a little too far off or obscured by brush until....... I came around a bend and down a hill to a clearing carved out of the hills to make room for a winding little creek. Standing right there at the edge of the creek was a beautiful adult Bald Eagle not more than twenty yards from the road. There was even a place for me to pull off the road and get some shots without leaving the car. He paid close attention to me as I slowly lowered my window and raised my camera I hit the "on" button and he struck a regal pose as I zoomed in for a perfect closeup photo at which time my camera shut itself down due to dead batteries. He gave off a little eagle chuckle, wagged his white tail and took off laughing. After pronouncing several profanities I continued toward home. It wasn't too long when I came around another bend in the road where I encountered ten young turkeys running along the road and in the ditch. I guess they knew that I was "unarmed" because they not only enjoyed frolicking on the road in front of my car but, they invited another twenty or so friends to join them. I shook my fist, which was grasping my "dead" camera, at them, honked the horn and yelled something about stuffing and cranberry sauce at them until they took off across a field to find shelter in a wooded area. Now I was pissed. I drove home as fast as the partially ice covered road would allow passing three or four more eagles (one a possible Golden). Arriving home I dug up a new load of recharged AAs and hopped back into the car for second attempt. I returned to the first eagle location to find my friend up in a tree a little farther downstream from the road. He managed to position himself just enough behind some branches that it made focusing nearly impossible. Meanwhile, still farther downstream (or maybe it was upstream) one of his buddies flew about looking for fish. This guy was too far away to even try for. So I drove on to the Turkey area. They were gone so I turned back to the original eagle spot where I would at least attempt to get a nice snowscape shot and maybe luck out eaglewise. When I got back, no eagles and the weather was turning bad so the light had gone to pot. Well, dammit I'm here and my batteries are charged and I'm taking a picture! I got out of the car and walked back and forth looking for the best vantage point. I shot a few shots (nothing that really excited me) threw the camera over my shoulder and headed back to the warmth of the Honda when I became aware of something overhead (I mean slightly overhead - about six feet overhead) Yep. It was Mr Smartass Eagle zipping upstream for, I guess, cocktail hour. By the time I could even come close to being able to take a picture, he was too far up the creek. (and so was my prize winning photo op) I'm surprised that he didn't take time to crap on me as he passed over. That would have completed a fine day in the photo field.
Below I've tried to recreate what did happen and what could have happened.

This is the little valley. The red "X"s indicate
where I might have taken great shots of Bald Eagles

This is something like what it was like when no camera was available

What Eagles look like when there's no camera available!

And turkeys as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Eagle Eye

Saffie thought that if Eagles could dress up like ducks why couldn't she. Sammy's not sure if she's an Eagle, a duck or just a little kid.
This past weekend found the Blumes, once again, on a quest. Sure it's been cold here in Wisconsin but, if you want cold, you have to travel up to Minnesota. They really know what cold is about up there. To create an excuse for the trip, Jo, Jeanna, Reid's Mom and one of Summer's friends threw a baby shower for Summer and Baby Nimz (The Nimzlet). Fortunately Derek and Jeanna have a larger car allowing us to transfer the contents of a Babies R Us north. I was planted firmly behind the steering gadget, Jeanna rode "Shotgun" and Jo and Saffie squeezed into little spaces between gifts, food and decorations. After five or six hours of Old MacDonald, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and other assorted toddler musical entertainment we arrived at the Nimz Estate. From the looks of the pile of baby type gifts that spilled from the dinning room into the rest of the house, the shower was a huge success. While twenty or so lovely ladies oohed and aahed over gifts and games and food, Reid and I took sanctuary at the nearest sport bar for beer, burgers and conversation. All in all it was an enjoyable weekend. But I did have an ulterior motive for accompanying the girls to the frozen tundra for the weekend. EAGLES!
On the way up we took the freeway. But, on the way home I took my favorite route along the River because this time of year loads of eagles congregate by any area of unfrozen water. Sunday was no different. At one point between Lake City and Winona we encountered one swarm of at least 20 (I'm told that a swarm eagles is actually called a convocation) that soared overhead just fooling around. They really have fun. They dive, swoop, roll and I think I saw one do a back flip. Meanwhile down on the River the more serious ones were having dinner. Fish on ice seemed to be the special of the day. It's sort of the eagle version of a Wisconsin fish fry. I know you're anxious to see a bunch of wonderful photos of these exquisite birds but, no I have none. I spent a good portion of a sleepless night working on excuses. As usual I had forgotten most of them when I woke up the next morning. But I did manage to retain one or two late night thoughts that I'd like to share. 1 - Eagles only allow you a chance photograph them if, you're a mile away, your camera is either out of film or has dead batteries, you in danger of becoming road kill because there's nowhere to pull over on a roadway, or if you're a National Geographic photographer. 2 - Those blue headlights aren't only on snotty luxury sedans. We encountered an Amish buggy sporting them the other evening. Kinda funny, we passed three buggies. The first one had no lights, the second, the usual flickery battery powered flashlight sort, but the third one was decked out with blue-white LEDs. What next, big subwoofers blasting hymns from under the front bench? 3 - What's with Toyota? Are they finally catching up with US quality? This seems to be opening the door for other imports to edge in on T's number one ranking. Mazda, for instance, makes no bones about their appreciation. (See pic below) 4 - Just as I'm really getting tired of winter I'm reminded of some of the nice things about this time of year. Yesterday I decided to take back roads home from the grocery store. Not only did I spot 4 eagles (with nowhere to safely pull over without the possibility of getting slammed into by a runaway Ford F150) I did run across numerous "Christmas Card" type photo opportunities). I finally found a place to stop and take a few shots. I do have to credit a "Blogger Friend" (EvilBear) for inspiring me to shoot some winter landscapes. He's been shooting some real great winter scenes lately and that sort of reopened my eyes to the beautiful surroundings in my own neighborhood. Lastly, this morning, on the way home from dropping Jo off at her bosses house, I saw a little Red Fox scampering through the snow along a fence row. I wish I could share that scene with you but, no camera. But it was a wonderful way to start a gloomy February morning. 5 - My regrets go out to all the folks (Snow Birds) down in Arizona who are getting a lot of rain this season. Just remember - "It's Dry Rain". And, 6 - At last we can start counting down to the end of Winter in weeks and not months.

Now, here's a jolly car with properly functioning accelerator pedal?

Just a couple of views of a Wisconsin farm.

I think I hear "Rock of Ages"!