Thursday, February 28, 2008
A certain loveable lab decided that the rent was due for our backyard possum. Apparently the possum was not quite ready to leave his lair under our deck, and decided to protest the aforementioned eviction notice by biting Ro in the chin. We let it go for about 24 hours until the swelling was really ridiculous (about 4x worse than this photo), then paid a late night visit to our friends at Falls Road Animal Hospital http://www.fallsroad.com/hospital.aspx . 1 hour and $210 later, we had some antibiotics, a nice anti-inflammatory injection, and a sleepy dog.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
We left Maryland around 9pm, hoping for about a 12:30am arrival at my family's place in Queens, NY. At the Maryland - Delaware line, we sat in a pointless backup for over an hour. Reason for the delay? Only 2 toll booth stations open. On a holiday weekend. On I-95. By then I was pretty damn sleepy, but we pushed on into DE, and then southern NJ, and then Amy finally convinced me to pull over to sleep in Central New Jersey. It was already midnight. Ugh. Amy woke me up in a NJ Turnpike service plaza (apparently where I had pulled over) at about 1:30am. As you can see, this story isn't getting any better. We made it to the family place in NYC around 3:00am.
Saturday was actually fun - and anti-climactic. We slept until 10am, then ate lunch in the neighborhood, then took another nap from 1230 to 1pm, then took another nap from 3pm to 5pm. I have only spent about 3 nights in my own bed in the last 2 weeks - perhaps I was a little worn down? I was informed by my grandmother's nurse that the basement sink was backfilling - never a good sign - but I foolishly assumed some Drano would help and we went out for our Official Valentines Dinner tm . Of course we came back to the house and realized that the main sewer drain from the house to the street was clogged. AWESOME.
In short, we spent all day sunday dealing with the plumber, and my relatives, and that whole situation. Let me just say at this time, that Union labor is a great premise for progressive capitalism, however, when it's you who gets stuck with the $8,000 plumbers bill (they didn't even dig anything up or replace anything), then it's a little bit harder to say who the Suffering Worker is!
Anyway, back to real (and useful) posts tomorrow. As you can see, Ro did not appreciate the trip to NYC either.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The brothers arrived late wednesday night. The temperature got to about 82 degrees, so hunting for thursday was definitely out. Instead of drinking and getting loud (our usual M.O.), everybody settled in, watched some bad late night TV, and eventually passed out.
Other than cooking breakfast for the whole crew, I worked thursday morning from home and let the brothers do their thing. Everybody was getting anxious so we went up to Loch Raven Trap & Skeet and shot a few rounds. Our shooting was mediocre but it was a really great time! It was the first time I had shot at their club, and I will definitely be going back.
Thursday afternoon we got the call that some geese were getting nervous about the incoming weather, and were on the move near the Maryland / Pennsylvania border. Game on!
Friday morning brought a light snow, and what (at first) appeared to be perfect goose weather - below freezing, with moderate winds and no sun. However, we were foiled once again by our ongoing mild winter / drought, and by 10AM we had bright sun, 50 degree temperatures, and only two dead geese between the three of us. We were pretty disappointed at our botched effort, but we had stayed as flexible as we could, and when it came time to schedule the hunt (12 hours ahead of the actual hunt), we thought we were making the right call. Based on what we saw of area geese later that day, the light snow was our undoing. I believe that the snow scared the geese just enough so they got out of the area they were using (area of our hunt), to feed on better food (2,000 feet north of us). We relaxed for the rest of the day, and shot the .22 (targets) around the house, and the day was capped by an excellent made-from-scratch meal of Carolina BBQ, beans, and cornbread by Amy. Perfect.
The mild weather continued on saturday, so we were not motivated to chase down lazy geese. Instead, we went back over to Loch Raven Trap & Skeet and shot several more rounds, and enjoyed a few "hard to get" cigars from T-Dogg's recent trip to Centro America. Once again, the Nutty Professor out shot T-Dogg and I by 25% on every round, even though he was using my toughest gun (Rem 58 Sportsman, full choke). It was great to see him get excited about shooting, though!
We capped the weekend off with several movies, and the brothers got on their way back to VA on sunday morning.
Once again, the waterfowl harvest was not really productive, but the time spent together with my two brothers was priceless and hilarious. We talked a lot about our lives now, and about some of the great and not-great moments we've shared over the last 30 years together.
The late goose season continues for another week, but for me, waterfowl season is over now. The decoys and guns have all been laid out to clean. A lot of gear has already been hosed down and put away. My mind is already wandering toward gardening, turkey hunting, and the spring's frog and salamander hatch...
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Winter seed mixes are special - they need to contain:
- High fat
- High protein
- Fast carbs
- Thin seed hulls/shells (thick hulls cause the bird to spend more energy cracking open the seed, than they'll get from eating the seed)
So here's what I've been using for the last two years:
- 70% black oil sunflower seed
- 10% striped sunflower seed
- 10% golden millet
- 5% safflower
- 5% peanuts
The mix isn't rocket science, or overly complicated, or expensive. Here's what we get with it:
- Juncos (many)
- Cardinals (many)
- Gray nuthatch (many)
- House sparrows (many, hooray)
- Doves (many - product of the urban environment)
- Song sparrows (some)
- House finch (some)
- Titmice (some)
- Downy woodpeckers (many)
- Red-belled woodpeckers (few)
- Goldfinch (few - I think others are feeding them nyjer this winter and they didn't migrate south).
Also, we had our first winter flyover (about 10' off the ground) of our neighborhood male Coopers Hawk. He was looking fat and happy, and just looking for a dove or mouse to munch on. I have pictures of him (mid-meal) from the last few years. He usually locates the feeder around mid-December (he's late this year), and hangs around for a few weeks before moving on. Doves are his favorite. Last year he was sharing space with a lone sharp-shin hawk. Haven't seen him/her this year.
So there you have it! If I change the mix, I will let y'all know the recipe and results.
Friday, February 1, 2008
The above project is in the Delaware Bay drainage, and will be managed to provide bugs and mud for migrating shorebirds in April of every year. It gets flooded about 24" deep in the winter....coincidentally making it an outstanding duck hole. Which of course, is why the landowner ultimately agreed to let us flood up his cornfield. I know it looks like a lake, but trust me, it is all shallow.
OK - back to grown-up land: Lessons I have learned this week:
- Communication may not solve any single problem, but at least it stops the bleeding. There are a million other metaphors I could use.
- If there is a problem, ultimately, someone will be held responsible. Fairly or unfairly, that someone will either be someone who recently quit or fired, or someone who is experiencing other problems at work.
- If you have fixed a problem or conflict, it suddenly gives you great leeway to talk about the source of the problem.
- If you are TRYING to fix a problem or conflict, shut the hell up until it's fixed! The people responsible WILL be held accountable, and YOU will be at the helm....give it time!
- Give it time! People are not as dumb as you or I may believe. Sometimes it just takes a lot of solid evidence for people to change their mind from their old preconceived notions about another person's value or abilities (good or bad).
The last one has been a difficult one for me to learn, as I watch (like in any workplace) overachievers get minimal respect, while folks who do very little, continue to barely skate by, with very few consequences. I'm starting to see, after 10 years in this field, that it all evens out....given enough time. I'm starting to actually believe that. It has nothing to do with "fair" and a lot to do with "hard work" and "patience."
Y'all have a great weekend. The honey-do list piled up during late duck season, so I will be spending the next few days hanging trim, installing TV's, and similar fun stuff.