Monday, May 31, 2010

Baby Raccoons

While we were searching the woods near us for the owls' nest, we checked out many of the trees with cavities.

This tree is in our front yard, about 30 feet from the road, so we didn't think anything would live in it.

When we got close to the tree and scratched the outside with a stick, we could hear clawing and noises inside.

We returned in the evening with a light, camera and ladder to see what was in there.

Remember the raccoon we saw after the big storm in February? Perhaps she spends more time than we thought in our yard!

It was hard to see exactly how many baby raccoons were in the tree, but it looks like a mother with two babies.

I know raccoons sometimes cause lots of trouble for people, but so far we haven't had any issues with these raccoons. It's kind of cool that they're living in our front yard!!

Phoebe Update

Our phoebes have taken Theresa's suggestion. After 2 days away, there's a pair of phoebes back at the nest. I was so happy to see them at breakfast this morning. I'll try to photograph some of their antics!

I also spotted the baby phoebe in the rhododendron outside our kitchen window. I could tell by his size and feathers that he's a juvenile. Glad to see that he's still doing OK!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Barred Owl

Almost every day this month, we've seen a Barred Owl (Strix varia) in our yard.

He has several favorite perches where our lawn dissolves into rocks. He usually perches about 8-12 feet (2.4 - 3 meters) off the ground.

We've seen him successfully hunt for chipmunks several times during daylight hours. (Warning: 1 somewhat gross chipmunk picture ahead.)

Sighting his prey

Swooping down

Chipmunk in his talons

Preparing to take off

We suspect that there is a nest nearby, and have spent hours with binoculars trying to find a tree with a hole that might be hosting an owl family, or a nest in a tree. We know that other barred owls in a neighboring town recently left their nest box, so the timing is right.

The reason we're so interested in the nest is that for a part of their life cycle, the young owls, also known as "branchers," supposedly perch together near the nest. To say we'd love to get photos of that would be an understatement!

We've found plenty of holes in trees, at least one of them with some surprising inhabitants....but we haven't figured out where the owl family lives.

That's OK. You know that I love owls, and having one visit our yard so frequently has been incredibly fun for me. Whenever I'm outside, I'm pretty sure there's an owl watching me.

Often blue jays alert us to the owl's presence. They'll dive bomb him, squawking to try to drive him away. Whenever we hear a crowd of jays, we grab binoculars and get another glimpse of "our owl".

Related posts:

Snowy Owl in December 2008
Great Gray Owl in April 2009
Eastern Screen Owl in January 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Some years, when we're lucky, a pair of phoebes builds a nest on our porch.

It usually takes about 10 days for the eggs to incubate, and another 10 days for the young phoebes to fledge. These photos are from the incubation phase.

We use foil to dissuade the phoebes from building a nest where we don't want them.

I love to hear a phoebe singing first thing in the morning. It doesn't hurt that each phoebe eats as many as 1000 flying insects a day. We definitely have a lot of flying insects in New Hampshire!

The phoebe nest is right outside the window where we at meal times especially, we got to watch all kinds of phoebe antics as they captured tons of bugs to feed their baby phoebes.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get pictures of the babies, but I know for a fact that they left the nest yesterday. I saw one of the little ones taking its first wobbly flight to a nearby bush.

The yard seems so empty without the phoebes, although one of the adults came back to visit for a while this morning.

Happy lives little phoebes!! Come back and visit any time!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Colors of May


There's still time for us to share the colors of our world this month!! (In fact, because it's so close to the end of the month, I'll leave the list open until June 6. Even if you don't already have photos of May, by June 6 maybe you can take some!)

Bleeding Heart

Each month, I love to see pictures of local colors around the world, because they're beautiful, colorful, interesting and inspiring.

Geranium (perennial)


To join us, just add a link to your colorful blog post in the list below. It's more fun if your title tells us where you shot your photos.

Please add a link back to this post in your blog so your visitors can come here to see the other entries!


Looking forward to seeing your colors!

I love this color combo!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Textiles at Mystic Seaport: Making Rope

Before our trip to Mystic, I wouldn't have expected to be so interested in rope-making.

But this group of rope-makers is doing something very similar to what weavers do when we twist the fringe on a scarf.

Rope-making was mechanized, so that handmade rope is a rarity today.

Inside the very long ropewalk, moved from the now defunct Plymouth Cordage Company, raw materials for rope are processed using hackles, similar to the hackles used to process flax when spinning linen yarn.

Rope was made from hemp or jute.

Individual strands are spun.

Then the spools are loaded onto a spool rack, fed through a round disk with holes, and plied into rope.

Unfortunately, none of my pictures of the very long rope walk where machines plied these cords into rope worked out.

Love this rope storage device!!!

Just want to clarify that this equipment is set up, but wasn't being operated while we visited. There were signs in the rope walk building that explained the process.

Related Posts:
Mystic Seaport
Susan's Tutorial on Fringe-Twisting

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mystic Seaport

I haven't visited Mystic Seaport since childhood. I loved it even more as an adult!!

I like that Jim captured an action photo of me touring!

We were able to spend lots of times with staff and volunteers who knew so much history. I loved finding people who could answer my questions about history.

Row of Merchants

Visiting Mystic helped us visualize what life might have been like in Portsmouth, and other New Hampshire towns during the 1800's.

View from the north end of the property

Yacht spending the winter

According to, the name Mystic is derived from the Algonquian "missituk" which means great tidal river. ("Missi" = large and "tuk" is tidal river.) The Mystic River in Connecticut is actually an estuary.

I'd bet that many New England towns had areas like this in the 1850's

We definitely picked a good time to visit. They seem geared up for the summer season ahead, with enthusiastic people working there. Plus, it wasn't very crowded. There were some groups of students on field trips, and just enough other visitors that we didn't feel alone.

Sail Loft

Sails were hand sewn specifically for each ship out of commercially woven canvas.

Oyster Shack

Judging by restaurant menus, oysters are still plentiful in the area. In New Hampshire, the oyster fishery has been decimated.

Mystic Seaport has three sections: a restoration shipyard, an interpretation of a whaling village in the 1850's or so, and exhibit space and archives devoted to various sea-faring subjects.
Charles W. Morgan, Last wooden whaling ship being restored

A high school teacher who was very influential in my life recommended that I read Moby Dick again when I turned 35. I did. I still didn't get it.

This trip, coupled with having added another decade of life since then, makes me feel like maybe now I really would get it. Maybe I'll add it to my reading list again!

There's always something happening at Mystic Seaport. As we were leaving, a tug boat was being parked on the front lawn!

Mystic tips:
  • Your ticket gives you admission for 2 days. You'll probably want to spend the 2 days there, so go ahead and get your re-entry pass when you buy your ticket. (The days don't have to be consecutive I don't think. They just need to be within 6 or 7 days of each other.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mashantucket Pequot Museum

Tower at Pequot Museum

On our way to a little get-away in Mystic, Connecticut, we visited the Pequot Museum near Foxwoods (a big casino).

View of Foxwoods from Tower

Museum Roof from Tower

We weren't quite sure what to expect, but it is a wonderful museum. I highly recommend visiting!!


Dugout Canoe

No photos are permitted in the exhibit space. There is a floor that shows artifacts and explains about the natural surroundings in New England from the last ice age to the present.

Back View of Museum

The lowest floor in the museum is a 4 acre indoor re-creation of a Pequot village, including homes, gardens, hunting and fishing. That was my favorite part of the museum.

Brass numbers on the floor correspond to numbers you press on a hand-held audio device. You can walk around and learn more about the areas that interest you. I learned more about gardening, food storage, and the only domesticated animal the Pequots had (dogs!)

Pequot Museum Tips:
  • Allow enough time. We spent just over 2 1/2 hours, and could have used a little more time.
  • GPS Coordinates: N 41.46482 W 71.96181 (When we tried to use the street address on our GPS, we ended up somewhere else entirely.)
  • Food: For lunch we went to Noah's in Stonington, which was good....but the museum's cafe looked good also. Prices seemed reasonable and the architecture of the cafe space was airy, open and interesting.
  • Have fun!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome May!

Red Trillium

April colors have been inspiring to many of us!! Thanks to everyone who participated in the Colors of April challenge!


And of course, May is also beautiful and colorful. I'll be back mid-month to post the May challenge. Feel free to start taking photos now!!!

Beech leaves - is there a more beautiful green anywhere?

I'm blogging from my porch. Gotta love that!!! It's warm out and by some miracle the bugs haven't found their way here yet, so we don't even need screens!!! That will change very soon I am sure. Meanwhile, I totally love this early spring that we've been treated to this year!

Beech Grove

Here are the colors of April, through the eyes (and cameras) of the bloggers who joined in the April challenge:

Nina from Odette's Obsessions in Ontario

Flowers From Lois' Hands in the Midwest

Theresa from Camp Runamuck in Oregon

Fun with Fiber
in Pennsylvania

Tina from A Blip on the Radar in Bellingham, Washington

Charlotte from Strikke- Og Vevebloggen in Norway

Basically Benita
in Indiana

Deep End of the Loom in Florida

Caroline from Like Square Polka Dots in the US (somewhere vaguely on the East coast)

Leigh from 5 Acres & a Dream in South Carolina

Janet from Janet's Thread on a visit to Dublin

Valerie from Valerie's Fiberewetopia in Michigan

Jennifer from Finding the Real Me in South Carolina

Sandra from Foxwood Lane in British Columbia

Lynn from LAM's Blog in Washington

Paloma Chaffinch in England

Weaverannie Knits and Spins with pictures of Dutch tulip fields & a few from Provence

Sharon from In Stitches in Nevada

Quite Contrary in England

Evelyn Oldroyd in British Columbia

Enjoy the beautiful blue skies of May!!! Thanks for joining in the colors of April challenge!

Related posts:
Colors of March
Colors of February
Colors of January
Colors of December
Colors of November
Colors of late October