Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Almost Spring

Today we had a reprieve from winter. It was sunny and the temperature was right around 60 degrees. Absolutely beautiful! I took the opportunity to cut back some of my grasses and to do a little cleaning in the flower beds.

I was deliriously happy to be out in the garden. I couldn't help but smile as I did my work. The trees and shrubs have tiny little buds on them and some of the perennials already had green growth underneath the decayed leaves. Ahh... the promise of spring. It won't be long and I'll have lilacs blooming again.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Welcome to Possum Holler

Our golden retriever, Lilly, has been restless and pacing around more than usual lately. She always wants to go out and is very slow in doing her business because she is too busy sniffing around the yard. Her behavior has been quite annoying, especially when it's freezing and we stand there with the door open trying to coax her back inside. A few nights ago we discovered the reason, and it isn't rabbits as I had assumed.

No, it's a possum!

I've been leaving peanuts for the blue jays in this and I guess he has been coming for the last several nights and eating the leftovers. I tried to get pictures Friday night, but it was too dark. Tonight I changed the patio light bulb to a higher wattage bulb and preset my camera to the night mode and practiced taking a few shots beforehand. Every few minutes I looked outside to see if he was there. Sure enough, he came back tonight.

Last night, before I got home from work, my husband tried to run him off and he hissed very loudly at him. I can't imagine what it would do if Lilly got too close. I think Lilly would probably tuck her tail and run if she actually got hissed at. The thought of an encounter makes me very uncomfortable.

I don't think I had ever seen a possum that was actually alive, and I knew very little about them. Concerned for our safety and Lilly's, I did some research to find out about these strange, ugly creatures.

They are North America's only marsupial. Thankfully they are loners, so hopefully there isn't a little family out there too. They will play dead when threatened and are usually harmless even though they hiss and growl.

They are nocturnal. They are not usually carriers of rabies, (I was very glad to find this out). They are actually beneficial because they eat insects and bugs. I think they will pretty much eat anything they can find, including birdseed, cracked corn and peanuts.

Since he is now making regular nightly trips to the bird feeders, I guess I need to remove them. He may be harmless, but I really don't like having him around. Anyway, I much prefer Robin's Nesting Place to Possum Holler.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thanks for the Backup Suggestions

Thanks everyone for the comments regarding my post on backing up my picture files.

It seems that multiple locations is the way to go to safely store those images! I'm purging files by necessity. I think maybe I'm overwhelming my system by trying to copy too much at one time. None of the DVD programs that I've tried can handle my file load. I even purchased Simple Save by Memorex and it can only handle a 10 DVD maximum. At least its winter and there is nothing to do outside and it gives me a chance to look at all of the pictures that warm my heart and make me happy.

I did get over 9000 images safely transferred to the laptop from the external drive. Hopefully the rest of the images are stored safely in the drive.

As Sylvia reminded us, sometimes things can happen that can destroy even our external drives and DVDs. My friend just recently lost her family home to a fire, during the recent ice storm in Kentucky. Her family lost everything. So, this has already been on my mind. Once I get the computer issues taken care of, I'll be checking into the other online sources for additional backup.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back Up and Try Again

My computer has been making some very strange noises off and on for the last couple of months. I get in a near panic mode each time I hear this noise as I think about all of the photos on my computer that have not been backed-up. There are over 30,000 pictures on my computer, most of which I could just delete and never miss, but others that I would be very sad to lose.

Those pictures that I've used on my blog are safely backed up on Picasa, but they are stored at a lower resolution than I would want should I decide to use them for prints. My computer is not letting me use DVDs for copying. It correctly makes one, (out of 14), DVDs and then I get an error message for the next one. I just purchased an external drive and have attempted to use it but when downloading my pictures onto the laptop I get an error message for that as well. This is so frustrating! I have spent hours the last few days just trying to get my things backed up. I'm not 100% certain that I have been successful yet.

I was just wondering if you back up your pictures and if so, what method do you use?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day- It's all About Pink

Pond Edge Enhancement

When we first moved to Indiana I was surprised by all of the retention ponds here. They are literally everywhere. My neighborhood of 185 homes has three of them.

For the past few years I have been concerned about the water quality of those ponds. Our home was one of the first to be built, and during our first few years we saw a lot of frogs.

We've lived here eight years now and I rarely see a frog anymore. I am convinced that it is because of the pollution in the ponds.

I have a storm drain at the back edge of my property. Any chemical or fertilizer that could be used would run directly into that drain and straight into the pond during a rain. Rain water along with all of the pollutants from our yards goes directly into the ponds, rivers, lakes, streams and reservoirs.

Morse Reservoir has recently had water quality issues with Blue-green algae. The algae can be harmful to aquatic life, pets, and humans. It is believed to be caused by fertilizer runoff from the homes located around the lake and the streams that feed into the reservoir. It has high levels of phosphorus, which is most likely caused by lawn fertilizer which is feeding the algae.

Our own neighborhood ponds have to be treated regularly during the year for algae growth. The lawn fertilizer feeds the algae and it is a vicious cycle of chemicals causing the problem and more chemicals to treat the problem. There's not much of a chance for aquatic life in that cesspool of chemicals.

There is a wonderful solution to this problem. According to Mr. Stottlemyer, the Chief Operator of the Storm Water Division of the City of Noblesville Utilities, (how would you like to have that lengthy title?), it is the "magic bullet" to help preserve and protect our precious water supply. The solution is to create a buffer of plants along the edge of ponds to absorb the fertilizer before it enters the water.

This buffer of plants also acts as a deterrent for geese, which can be a nuisance in large numbers. They graze on lawns, adding to the problem of soil erosion on the pond banks. Their droppings fertilize the ponds contributing to algae growth. They can also be very aggressive defenders of their nests.

The City of Noblesville Utilities is currently looking for possible sites to do this project and they have grant money available for those that are chosen. I am on our Home Owner's Association board and I am so excited that my neighborhood has requested an application to be considered as a recipient for this project. I hope we are selected!

Here is some helpful information, from the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, for those communities that rely on ponds for storm water runoff.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rain Gardens

I was able to attend the Rain Garden educational workshop Saturday morning. I thought the attendance was very good, (from what I saw, it appeared that every seat was taken). The workshop was very informative and interesting. Shaena Smith, from the Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District, did an excellent job with her presentation on Rain Gardens- Why You Should Build One and How to Do It and Pond Edge Enhancements- What and Why. Tom Stottlemyer, with the City of Noblesville Utilities, did a presentation on What is Storm Water and Why Should I Care? and Rain Barrels, Water Conservation, and Other Ideas. The information he shared was very interesting. It inspired me to try and do more to prevent personal home pollution and storm water runoff.

They are very serious in their effort to eliminate as much storm water runoff as possible and provide a cost-sharing program to help homeowners, schools, neighborhoods and churches build rain gardens. They will also come to your home and advise you on building a rain garden.

All was not positive though, I was so dissapointed to learn that the Noblesville Rain Garden has been put on hold due to issues involving the downtown location. I do hope they can resolve these issues soon.

I asked Shaena if I could share some of the information on my blog, and she gave me permission. Here is the rain garden handout that was given today. If time permits, tomorrow I'll tell about the Pond Edge Enhancements.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Window Bird Feeder

When I first posted a picture of this window bird feeder, I got a couple of comments asking me about it. Frances from FaireGarden asked how I kept it on the window. It was brand new when I posted before and I was concerned that maybe I had wasted my money on the feeder.

Now that it has been up a few weeks, I wanted to give those interested an update on the feeder. I am happy to report that it was money well spent and I'm very pleased with it.

I purchased the feeder at Wild Birds Unlimited and have been very impressed with the quality and the way it has stayed attached to the window. Before I attached it the first time I wet my finger and moistened the suction cups. Amazingly it has stayed on the window. Even with our below freezing temperatures and icy weather it has not budged. I lift the window to refill the two removable cups with sunflower seeds and nyjer seeds. It has been used by the house finches and goldfinches.

Libby and Lilly enjoy being so close to the birds and for some reason the birds don't really seem to mind them watching. I guess they aren't feeling too threatened. So, for those who have not been pleased with their window feeders in the past, I highly recommend this one.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Snow Pictures

Here are a few pictures of our recent snow. Thankfully the temperatures were in the forties today and a lot of it melted. I took the above picture while it was snowing and was surprised be the snowflake effect.

Shoveling our way out.

Across the street.

We had about 12 inches of snow.

I'm having some problems with carpal tunnel today and I'm in a lot of pain. Sorry for the brevity of the post. I'll still be visiting your blogs, but my comments will be brief there as well until the pain subsides.