Monday, February 23, 2009

Searching for Wintering Owls

My husband and I enjoy many things together and one hobby we've developed over the past few years is birding. Our local bird club announced an Owl hike in a stand of pine trees on the western side of our county and we immediately put it on the calendar. Saturday was the day, and I was closely watching the weather. I don't do high winds, or precipitation, whereas that would not stop the hubs.

It was a beautiful day with temps pushing the high forties and the sun was shining. The morning was filled with busy activity packing the birding backpack with the following: Binoculars with straps for hands-free hiking, Field Guide for confirming identification, Camera to record sightings, fiber bars for gurgling tummies, and extra hats and gloves.
The club asked a local expert on owls to speak to us before the hike. Here he is explaining about why owls regurgitate every evening the undigested bones, feathers, fur etc. from the white-footed mice, meadow voles, and song birds they ate the night before.He's getting out his pocket knife to dissect one of the pellets.

The long-eared owl pellet contained a cardinal beak, identified by it's orange tint.

The above photo is the pellets Jay found on his early expedition. The pellet closest to you is that of the Saw-whet owl, which is a small owl which lives in the woodlands and their daytime roosts are designed to avoid larger owls. The larger pellets are those of the long-eared, and the skull on the right is that of a Meadow Vole.

Not too deep into the forest we found the Saw-whet trying to nap after a long night of feeding. It was precious as it peered down at our cameras, scopes, and awe-filled faces. It's very tame and was not spooked at all by our activity.

After two hours of tromping in the forest, satisfied at the addition of this sweet bird to our year's list. On the way home we drove by a favorite farm and I spotted a Kestral, another to add to the year's list.

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What a fun way to spend the afternoon exercising our minds and bodies together.
And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A PRE-Valentine's Date Night

My parents gave us tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which turned into the beginnings of a wonderful date night. The evening began with dinner in Little Italy at our favorite restaurant, "Chips" or Chipiarelli's. They serve whole wheat pasta now, so the seafood pasta dishes with fresh tomato sauces were much healthier choices. Their salad is rather tasty at Chips, full of garlicky dressing, and lots of parmesan cheese. It's just made with iceberg lettuce, but a classic nonetheless. Below is the sign painted on the side of a building as you enter Little Italy, which is a wonderful old Baltimore neighborhood tucked between the Inner Harbor and Fells Point.

Our sons have worked for several years during the winter months for a valet parking service in Little Italy, Blake, our 22 yo is working this winter, but unfortunately he was not scheduled to work this night. Too bad, since I'd have rather tipped him a kiss plus a few dollars than the other guy who parked our car. I didn't kiss the other guy!

The next stop was Baltimore Symphony Orchestra home at the Joseph Myerhoff Symphony Hall to see Cirque de la Symphonie, which was a wonderful show blending beautiful aerial and stage circus acts with classical music. Some of the feats were amazing and "ooooh" and "awww" inspiring. Thanks for the tickets Mom!

We have a friend who plays the voilin in the BSO, and it was fun picking her out on stage. "Hi WonJu!" we whispered.

After finding the car, we wound back to Little Italy to a favorite spot, Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop. This place only serves drinks and desserts, but has an exhaustive menu and is famous for it's humongous desserts. You should see the Napoleons, and the Bacci balls! They serve 2-4 people at least.

One time we took some friends there for dessert and the table next to us provided pure comedy relief. The lady in the party was quite petite, and the gentleman was rather large, and it was obvious they were tourists. Their orders arrived and it was a Kodak moment. Set before the little lady was a Napoleon which literally extends off the sides of the plate, oozing with filling, and covered in chocolate icing. Before the gentleman was a smallish piece of cake. When we saw they realized the irony of the moment and had the attention of several surrounding tables, we all enjoyed a good laugh.

Oh, are you still waiting to hear what we ordered? First let me tell you my summertime favorites. A single (humongous!) scoop of Hazelnut Gelatto, creamy, nutty, and cool. Or an Italian Iced Tea which is a scoop of lemon Italian ice floating in a tall iced tea. It's chilly and lucious, and the perfect ending to a hot summer night! We've driven down just for dessert many times for a special treat.

But this is February folks so after a classic dinner, and wonderful music, it had to be a classic Italian dessert with something warm to drink. A cannoli and a cappuccino. mmmm..... Why I thought we should order two cannoli, I'll never know, be we did and it was heavenly, even though a bit too much.

What a lovely evening, and it was so nice we didn't have to fight the "gotta go out because it's V-tine's Day" crowd. Yes, there was traffic, but we were in the city. With reservations and lots of margin in our time schedule it was the perfect evening.

I felt a little like Cher in Moonstruck when she went the opera with Nicolas Cage. Except this was no movie folks and the man I was with is much cuter than Nicolas, and he's been commited to our marriage for 28 years. No, this was a date night with the love of my life. Thanks, babe!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Word-filled Wednesday

This is a view of some trees in my backyard recently when we had a fast-moving ice storm. I love the way the branches and needles become encased in ice. It's my winter wonderland right in the backyard. This verse, "You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter. Psalm 74:17 gives hope here in February that the creator of the earth is faithful in having "fixed all the boundaries of the earth." Thank you Lord.

 Go visitthe160 acrewoods for more Word-Filled photos and scripture.  
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Eat the View

"Eat the View!" is a campaign to urge the Obamas to replant a large organic Victory Garden on the First Lawn with the produce going to the White House kitchen and to local food pantries."Eat the View" is coordinated by Kitchen Gardeners International, a Maine-based 501c3 nonprofit network of 10,000 gardeners from 100 countries who are inspiring and teaching more people to grow some of their own food.

I can get excited about this campaign. What a wonderful example our president and first lady could set for our nation in a time when we need to get back to basics if we're not already there. Wow, how I'd love to see compost bins, chicken tractors, and vegetable and flower gardens on the White House lawn. Can't you just picture it, now?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Grub

We're headed to friends' and I'm making and taking Pioneer Woman's Olive Bread. This stuff leaves my daughter speechless. She wants to bath in it. For anyone whose never tried it, here's the recipe.

Give it a go!

Last night I made a Banana Cake with cream cheese frosting. It's scrumptious! I'll post photos right after lunch. Gotta run!