Monday, February 21, 2011

Turkey Vultures: early to the party

So I came home from a swim at the Y and saw two BIG black birds on the lawn. Crows? No. Turkeys? No. Turkey vultures! (Thanks to for the picture--I didn't get close enough to get one with my little digital camera.)

One was actually by the sidewalk, and was worrying a bit of something. Later, I saw that it was some kind of carrion--roadkill, I'd guess. The other waited anxiously on the lawn, hopping from foot to foot. When I snuck around the corner of the house to get a better look, the waiting one flew away and the eating one looked nervous, hunching down over its carrion.

I decided it would be best to go inside, so Eli and I watched from his window. The eating buzzard ate at the carrion, but warily, constantly looking up at various things: cars that drove by, crows that started gathering noisily in the trees. Then the eating buzzard flew away, and the other one--a bit smaller--came over to the carrion.

Eventually, two crows came down and stood on the sidewalk near the buzzard. "Can I have some of that? That looks good; can I have a taste?" That's what their body language suggested to me! More crows gathered in the trees and made crow noises.

Finally, the buzzard flew away--we saw both of them circling, then soaring off. A couple crows flew down and took away bits of the carrion.

I'm a bit puzzled. Usually, the buzzards come back around Eli's birthday, March 14. Kind of like the Hinckley buzzards--they're pretty reliable. Why are these back now? Is climate change affecting them? Or is it just the unusual weather last week?

Definitely going to report this to the backyard bird count!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birthday weekend

It's no longer sunny and warm here in Iowa; we're back to cold and cloudy. 40s today, 30s this week with freezing rain and maybe snow.

But I had a delightful birthday weekend!
There were cards and gifts from family and friends,
a banana/chocolate chip cake baked from scratch by Justin (we ate some after our TKD workout, which was also a nice birthday treat),
and DQ ice cream pie and champagne with Anne and Paul that evening as we watched the Julie Taymor Magic Flute!

Then today, in choir rehearsal before church, the choir sang to me--it's always a treat to have a choir sing to you!

The boys pointed out that I am 7 squared this year, or, as Robbie told me, 11,101 in base two. I think that's what he said . . .

So after this birthday interlude, I'm ready for the rest of February, whether it's springlike or gray and dreary. After my birthday, there's just not that much winter left!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February Thaw!

In case you can't see it, the thermometer says 65!
The snow mound is retreating. You can SMELL things outside--mud, pine, fresh air. Lots of puddles everywhere. It won't stay this way, but this is the direction we're headed.

Ah, the four seasons!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A little less wintery

It's not quite spring here like it is in Atlanta, but it did get warmer today! There were puddles and streams and drips everywhere.
Maybe this big ol' pile of snow will be gone soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Housewifely ecstasy

Bought a new vacuum today.

The old one, purchased after we moved into the house on Iowa Avenue, over 20 years ago, has been limping along for quite some time. You can see the bungee cord holding it together. The latch broke off, and the on-switch foot pedal was also broken. I could no longer get filters for it. The guy at the vacuum place was going to make me some.

But this morning, it threw off some frightening sparks at one point, and I wondered if it was REALLY worth it to keep it going this long. I also wondered what it feels like to be electrocuted. But then the entire electrical cord broke off at the body, so that was the final sign.

The new one's really slick. Quieter, too, Eli noticed. He did not run and hide in his bedroom when I started vacuuming. The kitty did, though, even though the "Pet Powermate" attachment instructions said "not to be used on pets."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day!

It's a snow day for everyone here today! Coe is actually closed for only the 3rd time since we came back in 1989.

How much snow did we get?

Not the 18" predicted by some. More like 8" here. Not really THAT much snow (it fell over about a 24-hour period) but it has practically shut down our city!

I've always been amazed by the snowphobia here in Cedar Rapids. Schools will shut down when there's 2-3 inches of snowfall, or will dismiss early because it's snowing and a big snowstorm is predicted for the evening (this happened yesterday). Last year, the kids had to go an extra week into the summer to make up the snow days from that year!

When I tell people about this, they're amazed. "But you're in Iowa!" they'll say. Yeah, this isn't Cedar Rapids, Alabama, with no plows, no salt, and drivers that rarely see snow. We get snowfalls every year! We have very effective snow plows. But still, we get all hippy-canary (to quote my mother-in-law) when there's a decent snowfall.

I heard today that the Chicago Public Schools haven't cancelled school in 12 years--until today, when 18" of snow caused them to cancel. Now THAT's a snowmageddon!