Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What Do Hawks Eat for Dinner?

If you've ever wondered what hawks eat for dinner, here's a photo. These two hawks perched in a tree across the street from my house. One has a nice, juicy squirrel clutched in its claws.

I assume these are red-tailed hawks until I know otherwise. Lately, I've been looking up more and noticing a lot more hawks in the neighborhood. We spotted one on the roof of a nearby restaurant. Driving home I saw one at the top of a pine tree. My oldest was looking at one through my binoculars and saw it screech.

This is all a great build up for our upcoming trip to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Bird-watching at 44

I turned 44 last month! I love celebrating my birthday and I think it's weird I didn't remember to put up a post about what a great birthday I had.

We went to dinner, I got wonderful cards with beautiful messages and some perfect gifts. I was really excited about the new pair of binoculars. I enjoy bird-watching and never really did it in any formal way. But during our recent Colorado vacation I had fun identifying some new Western birds and decided I wanted to keep going with this hobby back home.

I took them right outside and scouted around Tyler Park. While I was out there - and on the phone talking to my brother, niece, and nephew about domesticated versus wild butts - I saw a hawk land in a nearby tree with a small mouse or chipmunk or animal in its claws! Then the hawk dropped the animal, then hunted and captured it again out in the open field, all while I was watching!

It was quite a gift. Thank you, hawk.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I'm so excited to announce you can now get your copy of my new book So You Want to Be President of the United States!


   ... and Hardcover/Library Binding!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Try It: Making Gnocchi

One of my goals this year was to bake something new. I've always wanted to try making gnocchi because my oldest son loves it. It seemed simple when I read the instructions on the website, but like everything new, we had a lot to learn.

Grating the potatoes was probably the most difficult part. 

The dough was a lot larger in size than I thought it would be. It was fairly hard to work with, and I think maybe I used too many potatoes. 

We had several sheet pans of gnocchi, which meant we were cooking for a long time. 

I was not prepared to cook the finished gnocchi in the sauce right away, so I had to call in another chef (my husband) to help make a flavorful sauce ...from scratch. We didn't have any jarred sauce. 

All in all, it was an edible meal. It was way more work than I had hoped. I can't say the finished product was more enjoyable than store bought. I would *maybe* try it again, but not anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Cause and Effect in Nature

At first there was only one.

Just one groundhog living under our deck.

Then on my wedding anniversary there were two. It was romantic.
Then a third moved in very soon, and I'm not quite sure where it fit in.

They aren't aggressive or harmful, really. In fact they have entertained us somewhat.

But they can shift a lot of dirt. We read they can move as much as 700 lbs.

We are worried they could undermine the ground under the deck.

I called a pest control company, and they said I could trap them (they wouldn't), or shoot them (I wouldn't).

I did some reading online and learned that basically none of the chemical repellants work. So I looked for a natural solution.

And I was delighted to learn that attracting a hawk would encourage the hogs to move to a new home.

But how do you attract a hawk?

By attracting their prey. Songbirds.

So I hung lots of bird feeders, including regular house-shaped ones, and some unique finch socks.

The squirrels loved the one finch sock I hung in a bush at the back of the house. But they didn't both the one I hung in a smoke bush on the edge of our yard.

I didn't see any finches there for a long time. Then we saw one.

Then we saw lots. We saw them every day. So I hung two more finch socks in that same bush.

But the finches only went for the first one, the one hanging over the grass. Gradually, they have eaten almost all of the seeds out of that one and left the other two alone.

The first finch sock, the one in the photo above, is almost empty! I pointed this out to my family.

"I wonder why," I mused.

"Maybe they like the shade more,'' suggested my oldest.



I was amazed. I had never thought of bird feeders in the sun or the shade being more appealing. But his casual comment had me looking at the bird feeders in my yard - and the birds I see in our neighborhood - in a whole new light. And shadow.

I still don't know why the squirrels won't bother the socks hanging in the smoke bush. They certainly loved it in the other bush.

Thinking of the impact of sun and shade, of attracting prey to draw in predators, of attracting a predator to repel a minor pest, of how squirrels love a feeder in one bush but not another, are all elements of scientific thinking. This thinking comes from observation and questioning. It helps us observe and experience and understand the world around us.

Perhaps the groundhog isn't only one shifting things around here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Another New Race in 2019

I've done five races this year - 5! I know I set the goal at six back in January, but I didn't know if I could actually fit races into my schedule. I'm pretty excited that not only am I about to meet this goal, four out of the five races I've done are new to me. It's good to push myself out of my comfort zone, while keeping some familiarity.

By July, I thought I'd only done one. I had forgotten about the Frigid Five I did in January. That was a new race. Cherry Blossom was two, then nothing for months. Then in July I panicked and did two almost back to back, the Yinzer 5K and North Boros YMCA 5K. Both of those were brand new to me. Even though I did new races, I was familiar with the courses.

Then in August, I did the Passavant 8K, which was a new distance AND a new race AND on a Friday evening (  love evening races), but again on a familiar course.

So now, do I do my sixth race at a new to me event? Or an old favorite like the Great Race? It's exciting to have this choice and to know I can really achieve this goal!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Goals Update!!

Some updates on my goals:

- I'm planning to run my fifth race of the year Aug 16. It's an 8K on a Friday evening.

- I did a group run for the first time in....19 years? I've run with friends and such, but this was the first time I showed up for a training run with total strangers. I only did 3 miles, and only 1.5 of that was run with other people. It wasn't a transcendent experience, but it was enjoyable. I was definitely moving at a nice pace.

- I'm attending a new conference...leaving in two days!!

- I really want to finish the YA manuscript. I don't have work for hire contracts right now. I'm wondering if I should tackle it.

- Camping...could it happen over Labor Day? We'll see. The kids want to do it.

2019 Goals

Things I can complete
  • Run six races this year (As of July 22, I've done 4! Thanks to my amazing family for running the Yinzer 5K and for my oldest for running the North Boroughs YMCA 5K with me!)
  • Finish my YA manuscript
  • Finish the Rosalie manuscript - Revision completed, in process of sending this out
  • Go camping 
  • Co-Read a book with each kid - I read "The Great Brain" out loud to the middle and youngest on a car trip. That's 2/3 for sure. The oldest and I are reading "A Separate Peace." He's NOT loving it. 
  • Bake something new - We didn't have to bake mochi, but we made this for the first time! The oldest and I also made gnocchi, which again didn't require baking, but was tough and delicious. I have added Croque Monsieur to my "to bake" list. 
  • Go for a group run - COMPLETED! 
  • Attend a new conference