Monday, November 23, 2015

Searching for a duck

Someone posted on Facebook a black scoter was hanging out in Oak Ridge, at the lake close to the rowing house. It is a rare bird in Tennessee and it would be a life bird for me. I wish I had known about it on Sunday but it was too late when I saw the post. I was hoping it would be there again on Monday. Usually birds stay around for a while, I had good chance to see it.

Monday was cold and gray and I was rebating if I should go. Well, Oak Ridge is not that far, I thought. It is worth the try. I waited until the traffic got better and the temperature increased a bit. Got my binos, my camera, my banana and my bottle of water.

Got there about 10:30 and started walking along the lake. It is a nice park. But it is quite loud as the cars drive along the park. It is a skinny park. Not many people as expected for a cold Monday. And no duck. No duck but still it was nice to see the other birds. Nothing special, just crows and song sparrows. I follow a couple of sparrows scratch the ground. Still no duck.

I saw a couple of big dogs the other side of the road. Beautiful dogs. The were walking slowly, one in front of the other. As they saw me they stopped. The one in the back looked me for a while and I got a bit scared. But then we all kept walking. Still no duck.

I decided to go back. There was a tree with lots of yellow rumped warblers. They diligently searched for food the few leaves. It is always nice to see warblers. Almost where I parked I saw a flier with picture of one of the dogs I saw. I called the number and told I saw 2 dogs, not only one. The owner said his father was at the park looking for them, and if I see them again I should call Beretta, she was a nice dog. I wished him good luck and went back to my quest.

Then I saw maybe 5 coots swimming. I payed them some attention, tried to take a picture and I noticed a black bird sleeping about 8 m from the bank. The head was tucked under the wind and I couldn't see the head. Could it be a coot? I wish the bird wake up. So I waited. Fortunately it was a short nap and I could confirm: black scoter! He started swimming and diving, up and down. And I followed him. It is always nice to observe birds, even better such a rarity for Tennessee.

Later on the owner of the dogs texted me saying they went back home. I was glad to hear. One week later the scoter is still there, but now he has a female companion.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Encounters at the park

I woke up early today. Again. I'm a morning person, so taking bird watching as a hobby is just natural. So, after reading email and checking the web in bed, I had breakfast and went out to walk the dog. By 8 AM I was back home and I guess I heard the park calling me. I decided to walk there, as the weather was so nice and a bit of exercise always feels good. It is about 30 minutes walking to the park, not a beautiful walk, as there are quite a few cars with people rushing to work, but not bad.

Got to the park and walked by the palm tree the potoo is usually seen. Not there this morning. Maybe a change in the scenary is also good for the birds...

The park is very dry. Even though most trees here in Brazil keep their leaves, they loose some during the winter, but this year because of the drought, I think they are losing more leaves than usual. The grass is gone and the park looks very open and light. It is easier to spot the birds, problem is there are not many birds around.

After checking the potoo, I see a hawk perched on top of a tree. It is a beautiful one, not sure which one. I take a few pictures and then it flyies away. Binoculars hanging from my neck, camera on the side, many people look puzzled: 'What in the world is she looking at?' I am used to people staring at me, it doesn't bother me.

A friendly janitor coming towards me smiles and asks: 'Are you also doing research?' 'No', I tell him. 'I like to look the birds and take pictures of them. Just for fun. Do you see a lot of people coming here to do research?' I ask him. 'No, but many people come here to take pictures. Another day there was a lady here who was even taking pictures of ants!' Well, that made me feel I belong.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Quick bird watch

It was almost 9 AM when I decided to watch some birds today. A little late, but it has been cool and the birds have been getting active late and even if couldn't see many birds, it is always nice be outside. And I want to practice taking pictures. A friend told me you need to take at least 10,000 pictures in order to start to get the gist of photography... Thank goodness for digital technology.

Thursday, May 08, 2014


I always liked birds. I have a few field guides and a binocular to see the birds that visit my feeder and to observe any birds when I am traveling. I never took the time to go out specifically to observe birds. I kept myself busy with the garden and quilting.

Now that I am kind of stranded in Brazil, waiting for my immigration paper to be ready, I don't have a garden to tender and quilting in the heat of Brazil is not that fun. So, I became an birdwatcher. I have plenty of time and Brazil has plenty of birds...

I find hobbies are an important part of my life, they really help me keeping my sanity. Now more than never. And I don't need much to observe birds, binoculars help but not essential. And it is a good way to exercise!

Yesterday I went to the Parque Curupira to check out the ornitological activity, after 6 weeks out of the country. And I was surprised! It was a good morning.

Monday, January 06, 2014


I was reading why people don't keep new year's resolutions. I'm guilty... Every year I say I will exercise more and lean German... Still can't speak German and I am not in shape.

It seems we are trying to set huge goals but instead we should focus on how to get there. It looks like the key is to translate the goal into a specific behavior. For instance, I want to exercise more, then my resolution is: I am walking to the park every evening to feed the hens there. Walking to feed the chickens = exercise. And I am learning 5 new German words every day. Let's see how it will turn out.
 German words for today:
das Abstand
das Gebet

Friday, January 03, 2014


Bendito quem inventou o belo truque do calendário, pois o bom da segunda-feira, do dia 1º do mês e de cada ano novo é que nos dão a impressão de que a vida não continua, mas apenas recomeça...

Blessed is he who invented the neat trick calender, because what is good about Monday, the first of the month and the new year is that it feels like life doesn't keep going but just restart.

Words from Mario Quintana, a Brazilian poet. Wise words.

Indeed, we get a chance to do things anew, when a new year starts. I know, it is just a trick, but psychologically it works, at least we have good intentions! Let's exercise more, learn something new and try to be a better person. New year resolutions...

Happy new year!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Waking up after a long sleep

Wow, I haven't written in a while. I lost my motivation to keep the blog... Many things happened meanwhile. Got a full time job, developed colitis, moved to Brazil. But I think keeping a blog is nice, helps to share things with friends and family far away and keeps track of my daily and mundane activities. Sometimes I go back to the old posts and enjoy reviving the old times. No, I am not a nostalgic person, but it is always fun to see how things change over time. Or how things keeps the same...

I am still quilting!!
This is a quilt I made with nine patches my dear friend Lori gave. I thought my favorite color was green, but now I know it is orange. Orange is happy and after living in the Gator and Volunteer territory, one learn how to appreciate orange. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Tomato galore

My tomato plants are looking very good and healthy and if things keep going like that we will have lots of tomato. This year I did a few things different from last year. This is the beauty of garden, you always learn from your experience. Instead of buying seeds of hybrid tomatoes, I bought heirloom varieties. They are supposed to taste much better than the commercial ones, plus they are fun! They come in different shapes and colors and they have funny names. My favorite is 'mortgage lifter'. Back in the 30's, Mr. Byles, from West Virginia crossed several tomatoes and sold the plants for 1 dollar each. He made enough money to pay his mortgage!

Last year I didn't stake the tomatoes properly and by end of June, everything was a mess. So, this year I got several tomato cages in yard sales for about 50 cents each (one got to love yard sales!) and I got lots of bamboo stakes from the yard of my friend Crystal. This year, all the tomato plants have support and I enjoy going around removing the buds and tying them to the bamboo.

Yellow pear


Mortgage lifter

I planted long green beans against the trellis. Last year I had cucumber there and the trellis is an easy way to keep plants that need support. They need a bit help in the beginning but then they find their way up.

I have been letting the girls out of the chicken coop when I am in the garden. They love to go out to explore and scratch the ground to find yummy treats. They stay around me and when I need to go inside, I just walk behind them and they get back to their house. P.G. now doesn't bother them and they don't seem to be afraid of the dog. I am sure they are more scared of little boys...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Visiting friends and a nice concert

My husband is a big Peter Gabriel fan. We have a kid and a dog named after him, it is not surprise. Apparently taste for music is genetic, as my son also likes Peter Gabriel's music. When he was younger, he used to play a gloomy sound called 'Darkness' very loud and dance like crazy around the house. My husband said he would take him to see Peter Gabriel next time he is on tour. Last week Jens paid his promise. We drove to New York to see the 'Scratch my back' concert. On our way, we stopped at friends' houses and we had a wonderful time.

The boys can't wait to see him.

Yorktown. It was such a pleasure to talk to Constable Heartless. He told us all about being a pirate. Gabriel was trilled to hold a real granada!

We remember the fringe tree just like that on the back of Fifield Hall.

No, this is not the return of Devo. Open house at Jefferson Laboratory.

Natural History Museum in New York.

Peter Gabriel sang 'Darkness' and Gabriel sang along, but no dancing like crazy this time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Busy as a bee

Spring is a busy time for us gardeners. There are so many things to do and after all the winter days spent inside, there are lots of energy and will to go drive us outside and dig, prune, till, plant and pull weeds until we get sore.

I am so happy so many plants I was not expected to survive the particularly cold winter are showing up. And also some plants I grew from seeds last year are now looking good. The clematis I thought was dead is covered with flowers. The saponaria had a very slow start, but look at the purple flowers! It really pays to be patient when gardening.

I planted most of my tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. The red onions and elephant garlic are looking very good. We have been eating lots of spinach and collards and now the lettuce is in season. I will need to plant lots of lettuce, Gabriel eats 2 bows of lettuce salad every day. Yesterday he said he prefers romaine lettuce over bibb.

The girls are in their new house. My husband did a great job building the coop and the girls are growing and they seem very happy (except when the kids decide to 'play' with them).
My jack in the pulpit is blooming!
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The girls

Females used to be minority in my house: a boy son, a boy dog and my husband. I used to be the only female. Not anymore.

Now, besides me, there are 4 other girls!
We got them on Monday and they seem very happy here. They eat, poop and peep a lot!
The boys are excited! We will have fresh eggs in 6 months...
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