Geoff’s other blog

Geoff asked me last night to set up another blog for him so he could seperate business with the lighter stuff.
Here’s Geoff’s OTHER BLOG.

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Natural History Day

I don’t know if there is such a day, but it sure was at our house today.
While digging more of the marsh, I found the remains of a possum who met its demise in the ditch. I remember this possum only because back about a year ago, while fixing a hole in the fence, I noticed this rank smell. I looked outside the fence and there was this very ripe possum about two feet away. Well, at least two vultures showed up and got a feast out of it.

I checked on my prairie experiment this evening, and this is what happens when you don’t mow the grass for a month. Grass really gets pretty when it’s allowed to go to seed. The tops turn purple and wave in the wind, and there’s all sorts of ground cover stuff going on, too. Somewhere in here are the three black-eyed Susan’s I planted. In the foreground by the plank is the bayberry that I put in when I read that Tree Swallows like them.

During the Butterfly Show last month, I visited the gift shop and bought a Venus flytrap. Though they only need a bug or two every few months or less, when Isabelle found a huge ant in the house, I thought it would make a nice lesson for her to see just what a flytrap will do.

(We have made the traps close by poking them with small scissors, but this was the real thing. She was very impressed and spent the rest of the afternoon snapping her mouth shut and saying the bug tasted good.)

If you look closely at my really bad photo, you can see a black shape in the largest trap.

Isabelle made a connection in her mind today that astounded me. We were discussing baby birds (of course) and I told her about the process of the mama bird making the egg in her body and pushing it out into the nest, incubation, etc. My precocious 4 year old thought for a minute then said, “Then baby birds don’t have belly buttons!”.

Today was also the beginning of Mommy’s lecture series entitled “What does Daddy have down there” because Isabelle wanted to know. I am sure that this is going to embarass Geoff to no end, but hey…my blog covers many, many subjects. I got as far as what girls have, and then Isabelle lost interest and went to watch TV. Oh, well, gives me time to formulate the rest of my speech.

Oh. And another thing. Penny may be pregnant.

Happy Natural History Day.

Gotta talk about the foot

If I can’t get something off my chest on my own blog, where can I do it?

For those of you not in the know, I have a bad foot. Not just a little achiness, or pain sometimes. It’s every day, no matter what I do, all the time.
Let’s go back 33 years: I’m born. My genetic code dictates that extra bone will grow at the insertion of my Achilles’ tendons. (Non-medical peeps: That’s the back of the heel)
Fast forward to my pre-teen years: Wearing any sort of dress shoe, flat or heel, causes blisters, bruising, bleeding and pain. Fast forward again to 1999: Working for a podiatrist, I decide to try surgical correction. This involves an incision into my right heel and reflecting back 1/4 of the Achilles’, cutting and filing away the extra bone and reattaching the tendon with a Mytek anchor (think a little metal prong that looks like a spider). Off my foot for 4 weeks.

Everything seems hunky-dory until a year later when pain returns. That ends up being just a retained suture, but still involves another surgery. Next, 2005. Arthritis is grinding away at my right big toe, so it’s surgery again to shorten the toe. No biggie..an easy surgery to get over, really. Off the foot for 5 days, and that’s about it.

Later on in 2005, I have a talk with the doc again…the pain in my heel and now the SECOND toe brings me back to the O.R. (The bone in my heel had a 15% chance of regrowing…guess what. It did) Now, a more aggressive removal of bone. (and another toe shortening)
Think it’s over? Nope.
3 weeks after surgery, the sutures are removed, and there is a gap in the skin of my heel. It does not heal. At the beginning of 2006, I am back in the O.R. again for an I & D (incision and drainage) because I have an infection and my tendon is in peril…as in, if it ruptures, I may be lame for life. For those of you keeping count, that is 6 procedures on the right foot.
I get a home health nurse and a Wound VAC. This is a painful, but helpful procedure that finally closes the wound.
Still think it’s over…well, just a bit more.
The pain is still there. Now I am scheduled for therapy to release a trapped, twisted nerve which has become bound up in angry scar tissue inside my heel. I am now in for ultrasonic masage, manipulation (yikes) and strength training, as I still cannot go down steps normally or wear shoes with backs on them.

This is my foot today:

A small open area, thick and angry scar tissue, a weak tendon and a trapped nerve. I am too young to feel this old.

Betty Crocker time

One of my favorite things to do with Isabelle is to make cookies. Specifically, chocolate chip.
We don’t do it often, because otherwise we would all be 300 pounds.

Isabelle LOVES to help, and I have to say that her little 4 1/2 year old hands are steady enough to pour in flour, chips, and to crack an egg without breaking the yolk or getting any shells in the bowl. Echos of my Dad ring through my mind when Belle and I bake. He taught me so many neat things: how to follow a recipe, crack an egg with one hand, why we don’t beat cake and cookie dough too long (makes them tough), how to make a perfect pancake…

And there’s a very strict rule in our house: Good little helpers get to clean off the beaters.

And that goes for sweet, patient puppies, too.

The marsh is already a success

I went out this morning to check on the big muddy hole I made and was happy to see a perfect little raccoon footprint in the mud. Score one for the marsh.
And I noticed LOTS of flying insects hovering above it and some water skimmers on the surface. Score two points for the marsh.
Frogs and birds, come and get it…soup’s on!

It’s not pretty, but it’s mine!


I finally started on my marsh. It’s right where our sump pump outlet drains into the easement and to the ditch. It was a perfect place for soggy messiness, since it was going in that direction anyway. I used a hoe and pickaxe to hollow out the ground around the drain (the white pipe on the left) and made it more shallow as it went on. The cattails are on a small rise made out of the muck I dug out, but it’s “feet” are still wet there. The far end of the marsh drains into a small ditch, with a bit of a dam that is easily breached if we get alot of rain, and then the water emerges clean and pure out the other side. Later I will add some more water-loving plants to slow the water down a bit more and add another small drain around the dam if needed.
I’m so glad I finally did it…I’ve been driving everyone buggy with my plans for
“my marsh, my marsh”.

Do I dare HOPE?

This morning, I noticed a bit of a bird hullabulu in the backyard around the beer box. Remember the beer box? A pair of bluebirds were fighting with a HOSP on top of the box. I went out to look and there’s this nest:

Now, I put this box up as a decoy to lure the HOSP away from the bluebird boxes and the purple martin complex. Instead, the HOSP have laid 5 eggs in one BB box (which are still being incubated by the female who has no idea they are infertile) and wrens have stuffed the other one with sticks. So this box is unprotected, unbaffled, in a bad spot…on a fence near trees.
This nest does not look like a typical HOSP nest, as it has no trash in it, and it is in the more tidy BB style of a cup and not the “weaver” style.
FELLOW BIRDERS: Any opinions about this? Do I dare hope to have some bluebirds actually lay eggs??? And how, in the Hell, do I protect them? Would moving the nest laterally onto a pole make the BB abandon it? I would really like some feedback if anyone has some advice.