Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nine Weeks

Hmmpff! Didn't get nearly as warm today as they forecast it would last Monday. Back then they were saying mid to upper 50s. Today it only got to 35. A windy, chilly, damp 35 at that. You see, the clouds rolled in from the south and brought some rain along with them. Apparently the front associated with that rain slid just a wee bit to our south east and we got the cold side.

Hopefully they are just as wrong about tomorrow's forecast (heavy rain and snow? Seriously?).

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I had my first session of physical therapy (henceforth known as PT for "pain and torture") on Monday afternoon. Spent half the time being evaluated by the head torturer before I was given two stretching exercises to do at home and a third to do while I was still on the slab. Needless to say I felt the stretch afterwards. Sorta like being on the rack but it only affected the buttocks and the hamstrings. They were tight!

I added those two stretching exercises to the repertoire the visiting therapist gave me a couple of weeks ago and have been doing them twice a day as ordered. Only good thing about those two new exercises is that I can do them laying down.

Bright and early tomorrow morning I go back to Elite for my second session of PT. Wonder what they'll have me doing next?

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I supplemented my at home PT with a little yard work the past two days. Did a little walking across the yard to and from the burn barrel on Tuesday when the winds were calm. Our garbage mail, boxes and miscellaneous paper had been building up for a good long time and had to go. I figured the extra CO2 wouldn't hurt either since we here at the Aerie are in the cold zone of the globe. Hell, we've been colder than Anchorage all winter.

Today, I tried to make amends to Terry for throwing so many stones into her flower beds next to the driveway. Holy mother Mary! Were there a lot of stones! It's surprising that I "only" broke two shear pins on the snow thrower way back when. I cleared about four square feet and could have filled a 5-gallon bucket. Then my fingers got cold and my back and knees cried, "Uncle!"

While clearing stones I had to be careful not to step on the small, green spears of the day lilies that were just poking their noses above ground. There was some green showing on a few other plants as well even as snow remained heaped on the edge of the driveway a mere foot away.

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Yesterday and today, every time I went outside for more than five minutes I was sure to hear the honking of geese or swans high over head. Yesterday I could watch them head north at a leisurely pace. Today, with the winds out of the south at 20-30 mph with a few gusts higher, they went sailing along like a 20-meter vessel in the America's Cup. If I blinked, they were out of sight.

The feeder birds are still with us. I thought the redpolls had caught on and headed north, but they seem to like my sunflower seeds. The siskins are still here, too. Then there's the usual crew (chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmice, mourning dove, downy woodpecker, red-bellied
woodpecker, dark-eyed junco, and a host (horde?) of goldfinches.

I can hear redwings down the hill near the farm ponds and reeds but they haven't come to the feeders. The robins are also busy establishing dominance and territory although few have visited the lawn. Not that I blame them. The lawn is pretty much still frozen and any earthworm would need tunneling drills to emerge.

Still hear the occasional owl on the hill after dark, but I'm still waiting for my first woodcock flight at twilight.

There have been a few turkey vultures come soaring by and the ravens are still dancing in the wind--when they can get away from the nests.

I need to get out and do some birding! Unfortunately, all the lakes are still frozen as are the marshes. They are the main attractants around here until the warblers show up.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Dalek Relaxation Tape

Just because.


Well, THAT Was Disappointing

*sigh* Awoke this morning to another fresh snowfall. It amounted to less than half an inch but still....

Then it stayed cloud and overcast for the rest of the day. While it did reach 39 degrees at the Aerie, that was about 5 degrees--and a whole lot of sunshine--less than I expected. Late afternoon did see a bit of a drizzle that, along with the 39 degrees, helped melt some of the snow that fell yesterday and today. Still have a considerable amount to go. Tomorrow's temperatures won't help but, maybe, if the sun comes out, it should get the driveway and lawn back to where they were on Thursday. Maybe.

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Terry made a big pot of split pea soup today. So thick that if you turned the spoon upside down, it took a long time falling (not dripping!) off. Just the way I like it.

And this evening we went to the United Methodist Church in bustling downtown Mainesburg (consists of a dozen houses, the grist mill, and the church) for a chicken-and-biscuits dinner.

Makes up for this morning's snow.

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Still have a considerable number of Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins hanging around the feeders. Mentioned them at the Audubon meeting on Wednesday and everyone was like, "Wow!"  Apparently we are the only ones around that have had them visiting this winter.

Also have the usual crowd of Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Mouring Doves, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays....

Wednesday the weekend's winds from the north died down and I saw several huge flocks of Snow Geese flying north.They were up quite high but the sun lit them up like beacons. Sprinkled among two of the flocks (each numbering in the 2-300 range) were a few darker birds which may have been the dark morph sometimes called a Blue Goose. One flock, however, had a separate wing of a dozen or so dark birds which I speculate may have been Canada Geese.

The Snow Geese sound slightly different than Canadas and their organization is, well, a bit sloppier. Their Vs aren't quite as crisp being more like a wide bottomed U instead. And they argue about who should be the leader more instead of a well regimented rotation of that lead position. That said, they sure knew which direction was North!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Eight Weeks

Thursday marked the eighth week since my back surgery. I didn't post anything that day because I had reported on my Tuesday visit to the surgeon in my previous post: Progress! Needless to say, I've made some. Progress that is.

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The Seavey clan is making a habit of winning the Iditarod. Dallas and his father, Mitch have one the last four races. This year, Dallas finished first with a time of 8 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes and 6 seconds. Mitch came into Nome second some 4 hours later. Dallas has now won in 2012, 2014 and 2015. Mitch won in 2004 and 2013. (See all the past winners here.)

The race isn't finished yet, however. There are still 32 teams out there as I type. (One is between Safety and Nome and should be getting there any. Minute. Now.) Rookie Musher Cindy Abbott is the current Red Lantern (last place).

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Just when you thought winter was over.... We got a snowfall of about two inches today. I had just gotten excited about seeing real grass and dirt again, too. Now everything is once again covered in white. It might not last long, however. Tomorrow it's supposed to be in the mid 40s with a slight chance of a rain shower. That should be enough to melt the new snow. If not, the sun will shine brightly on Sunday and even though the temps won't be as warm they should nudge above freezing.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Progress!

Went to see the surgeon today. I no longer need to wear the back brace and I can have my car keys back! Yahoo!

Also got a scrip for some PT which I will take down to Elite Therapy tomorrow so as to set up a schedule. The PT is mostly to regain the flexibility of back and legs that I have lost since the surgery.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Short Spring-Summer-Fall

Last week we had temperatures in the high 40s with even a 50 or two thrown in. Even Friday the 13th was a lovely day with plenty of warmth and sunshine.

Then Saturday arrived and we got rain--but at least it was still warmish with temps in the 40 degree neighborhood.

Today...Well, today we had a bit of freezing something early in the morning with lots of high flying gray clouds streaming out of the north-northwest all day long. And the temperature stayed right around 28-29 degrees from sunrise to sunset.Guess we're back to winter.

*sigh* They do say beware the ides of March.

So need warmer weather to melt the rest of the snow on the lawn and gardens. I am resigned to the fact that the heaps on the sides of the driveway/parking area will be there until late April. I hope they won't be here longer than that!

At least the guys with sugar bushes will enjoy the cold nights and above freezing(?) days the next couple of weeks.

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Terry's flight from Louisville was cancelled when the plane got grounded in Kansas City due to mechanical problems. She could have taken a later flight to Chicago, but there would be no connection to Corning-Elmira. The airlines is putting her up in a hotel for the night and she will be flying out tomorrow morning.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Seven Weeks

It's now seven weeks since my back surgery and I've made some progress. I'm still wearing the back brace as per doctor's orders but will, hopefully, be relieved of that burden when I see the surgeon on Tuesday. The left leg has completely recovered from the loss of feeling and is 100% in everything but flexibility and strength. The right, also lacking in flexibility and strength, is about 95% recovered in sensitivity. I found it possible to put both socks on this morning without the use of any tools for the first time so that's a plus. As everyone keeps saying, slow and steady.

I'm still doing the PT exercises the therapist left me with but I've added walking on the deck, climbing the stairs and a couple of stretching exercises I did after knee replacement to get both the strength and flexibility back.

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I'll be on my own for a couple of days as Terry has an Embroiderers' Guild conference with all the region reps in Louisville that runs through Sunday. Her flight took off from the Corning-Elmira airport this morning at 6 AM. She promises/swears she will not volunteer for anything. With her absent, I may just sneak out and actually drive for the first time since January 21st. That is, IF I find I need to get anything from the store. (The surgeon says I shouldn't until I meet with him once more, but the heck with that.)

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Other than that, things remain quiet at the Aerie. We've had a couple of really nice spring days this week that have caused quite a bit of melting. The driveway is nearly completely cleared and there are actual patches of lawn starting to appear. The day time temps have reached into the 50s while, on clear nights, the nights have been in the upper 20s. One cloudy, but still night it stayed in the mid 30s. Extended forecasts include only a slight chance of snow showers between now and the end of the month which is fine by me.

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I've noticed a decided decrease in the number of birds at the feeders. I assume that's because many of the Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins have headed north. Only a few of those remain either having missed the memo or because they are too weak for the long flight and find the easy pickings at the feeders more to their liking. It may be wishful thinking, but I believe the Goldfinches are starting to shed their olive drab and take on some yellow.

I heard a Robin for the first time last evening. I know they are said to stick around during the winter, but I seldom if ever see them at our elevation. With many of the pastures, hay fields and corn fields where the winds kept the snow thin being exposed now, I imagine there will soon be many, many more Robins out hunting for worms and other bugs.

I'm looking forward to seeing/hearing the Red-winged Blackbirds and Woodcock. Those will be reall harbingers of Spring!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Six Weeks

It's been six weeks since the back surgery and I guess I'm making progress. This was the first full week without a visit by home healthcare so I've had no one around to tell me if my progress is normal or not.

There's still a weakness in my legs but that seems to be improving. Not so the flexibility, however. I still can't bend my right leg enough to put a sock on so it's been necessary to use a "helper,"a short length of PVC cut in half lengthwise upon which the sock is pulled. You push your toes into the tube created by the sock and then pull the whole thing up. The sock ends up on your foot and around your heel so you only have to give it a tug to get into place. (Taking the sock off is easier as you don't have to reach down to the toes with both hands--something I can't do.)

And the right leg is still displaying some loss of feeling. That's something the surgeon said could go on for six months or even longer as the nerves that were stretched during surgery will take some time to adjust. 

Meanwhile, I'm still confined to being a passenger (should we go anywhere) and to wearing my brace. I've two more weeks before my next doctor's appointment and I'm hoping he'll give me the okay to drive and to remove my turtle shell. I'm also hoping to learn if I'll get some after pictures (either x-rays or an MRI) of what has been done. Be nice to know.

I've been doing my exercises regularly and added cleaning the deck of snow. I don't have to lift the snow but rather merely push it or sweep it under the deck railing. Terry still does the driveway as the slope is a wee bit too slick for me to attempt. That and the snow she's been moving has been a bit heavy of late.

I haven't made any forays out into the rest of the world yet although I've been cleared to do so. I am starting to get a bit antsy about that. Even a walk around Wally World or Lowe's would be enjoyable. We talked about going over to Wellsboro, but our twice weekly snowfall interrupted those plans.

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This latest snow storm, named Thor, is currently passing to our south and, with the winds out of the north-northwest, it looks like it will stay there. All we got was a little less than 1/2 an inch of very light fluff that required the deck but not the driveway to be cleaned. I used a broom to do the cleaning it was that light. Those north-northwest winds may be a blessing as far as the snow is concerned, but the air is cold. As of noon, it's only gotten up to 12 degrees and it feels much colder.

This looks like it might be our last really cold night with a forecast of minus 4 degrees. Then things are supposed to be getting warmer with temps during the day getting to the upper 30s and even *gasp* 40s. With sun yet!

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We're going through sunflower seed like crazy. There must be over 150 birds out there in the mixed flock of Common Redpolls, House FInches, Black-capped Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice and American Goldfinches. In addition I've seen one or two Red-breasted Nuthatches, a dozen Mourning Doves, half a dozen Blue Jays, a pair of Northern Cardinals, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers and a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers. And, of course, there's the visiting Sharp-shinned Hawk that shows up to prey upon the seed eaters on occasion. And the Pileated Woodpecker that yaks it up from time to time between chiseling out either an ant colony or a nest hole in the trees. (If I had more suet to put out, even it might come closer to the house.) In short, we're feeding a heck of a lot of birds, but they are all the usual winter birds. It would be nice to see some different birds. Spring birds in particular would be welcome, but that would require a good deal of melting and little warming up. 


Sunday, March 01, 2015

More Bird Pictures

I spent only 15-20 minutes sitting at the dining room table this afternoon taking pictures of birds. Dozens and dozens of birds are on the deck at any one time with just as many put in the trees waiting their turn. Below there's at least one photo of each species that came to the deck while I was there...with the exception of the Tufted Titmouse. It flitted in and out too quickly for me to aim, focus and shoot.

Earlier in the day we also had a Red-bellied Wood Pecker, a Downy Woodpecker and a half dozen Blue Jays.

Common Redpolls

A Pine Sisken (center) objects to sharing with another Common Redpoll

An American Goldfinch (center is flanked by two Pine Siskens

Mourning Dove and Pine Sisken

(from front to rear) Mourning Dove, American Goldfinch, Pine Sisken

Dark-eyed Junco (aka Snowbird)

White-breasted Nuthatch

Dark-eyed Junco

House Finch (center) surrounded by Pine Siskens

(left to right) Pine Siskens, House Finches, American Goldfinch

Black-capped Chickadee

Pine Sisken (center) objects to the Dark-eyed Junco's arrival. House Finch to rear right.

Pine Sisken and Dark-eyed Junco

The Latest Fashion

video

Here's a brief video of my "turtle shell" brace. I've been wearing it since the surgery (January 22) and will continue to wear it until March 17th at least.

It's hard and it's not very comfortable.