April Fools!

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Several prototypes

I have some exciting news…I’ve decided to focus all my attentions on my true passion. I’m going to be opening up an etsy shop called Polly Wants Panties: Artisanal Underpants for Discerning Birds. I’m so excited to embark on this new chapter of my life!

Finally Spring!

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It has been winter for a good long while in these parts. And only recently has it finally begun to act like spring! That means bees are buzzing, buds are blooming, and birds are….birding. Obviously I have an obsessive need to document everything and have been taking lots of pictures of the little creatures enjoying the warmer weather as I sit outside and read through The Gulag Archipelago (because it’s such great springtime reading?). I guess you can take the girl out of the poli-sci but you can’t take the poli-sci out of the girl. The birds at least provide a nice counter balance to the sad gulag human rights abuses.

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Goldfinch! We only ever get one or two of them in the spring and summer, and he’s pretty elusive. I guess he was hungry this day.

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A plucky little cardinal.

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House finch sitting in a tree.

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Here are the two of them sharing the feeder! The cardinal looks terribly suspicious of me.

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From top left, clockwise: chickadee, house finch, grosbeak (female), and nuthatch.

We have also seen a new face at our brand new hummingbird feeder!

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It’s a ruby-throated hummingbird! He’s quite small and difficult to spot as he flits back and forth.

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Flapping those wings very hard and fast.

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Getting a hit of that sweet, sweet sugar water. He’s actually pretty frustrating to photograph because he moves so quickly and is so tiny.

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I think I might name him Waldo, after the eponymous and elusive striped-shirt wearer. Relatedly, I wish I had one of those enormous NatGeo zoom lenses the size of an 18th century cannon. Anyone wanna loan me $10,000?

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The caterpillars and the dandelions are also out in full swing. And, finally, the cherry tree in our yard is blossoming! It’s nice to finally see signs of life after all the snow.

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Snowy Day Sorbet

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I got a sorbet and ice cream maker for Christmas, and I decided to take it on its maiden voyage this past weekend.

But of course it would snow the day I decide to make sorbet! I was undeterred. I also noted that I was not the only one interested in delicious treats that snowy day. (Of course I’m going to try to work in bird pictures any way that I can).

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Top left, clockwise: a white-throated sparrow, female cardinal, dove, and house finch out for a snowy day meal.

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A female cardinal sitting pretty in a tree, seen between deck rungs.

But I still had to go out in the snow to pick up ingredients. The yummy recipe I used called for Dutch-processed cacao. Cue running around all over town with my friend in a very determined search.

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Happily the driving conditions weren’t too bad. We found what we needed by the fourth grocery store!

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By the time we got back, it was getting dark.

As mentioned, I had never used a sorbet maker before (and had yet to read the instruction manual), so I did not realize that the bowl part of the machine needed to be frozen solid. Surprise! So we threw the bowl in the freezer and while we patiently waited for the bowl to freeze completely, I made the chocolatey liquid mix.

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I used semi-sweet chocolate chips. The recipe called for 6 oz finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate, and the price difference was ridiculous! $3.49 for 4 oz of solid bars of baker’s chocolate or $3.14 for 12 oz of chocolate chips. The quality of the chocolate might vary, but I’m making a sorbet, not creating chocolates for the queen.

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Here are the chocolate chips, mostly finely chopped. …Mostly.

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Here is the mixture before adding the finely chopped chocolate.

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And this is after adding the chocolate.

We then, per the recipe, chilled the mixture. Once the mixture was chilled and the bowl was completely frozen, I began the sorbet-making process. Now, the sorbet maker box says that sorbet/ice cream can be made in as little as 30 minutes. The box is a lying liar and is not to be believed. I poured the mixture into the machine, which then rotated the mixture around with its mixing arm, to both aerate and freeze it. After 30 minutes (the recommended mixing time), it was still something of an amorphous (but delicious) liquidy goo, so I threw it back in the freezer for 2 more hours.

Finally, I had a delicious super chocolatey sorbet!

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Here it is pre-sprinkles. It is super chocolatey and definitely rich enough to make you think you’re eating ice cream.

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And here’s one more picture with a black background. Because why not.

Snow Birds: Part II

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Male cardinal. 

We were hit with another snowstorm, so I brought out the camera. Our male cardinals are total babies and very skittish. Until today I had never successfully taken a picture of a cardinal in the snow. I was determined…so I had to stand there for fifteen minutes losing feeling in my feet before one was brave enough to come near the seeds I had put out. Victory! I love how the red stands in stark contrast to the white/gray tones of the snow.

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Clockwise: cardinal (m), black-eyed junco (?), cardinal (f), cardinal (f), white throated sparrow (I think).

Here is a nice little sampler of the various birds who were out today. My favorite is probably the lady cardinal with snow all over her face.

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Dark-eyed junco.

Someone’s feather is sticking out of his head…

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Female cardinal.

Here is a pretty female cardinal watching the snow fall from a tree. And finally, honorable mention…

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This squirrel was unusually skittish. Normally, I practically have to physically toss squirrels away from the bird feeder. I had barely pointed my camera in his direction when he took off at full speed and launched himself right into a tree. So graceful (not).

Snow Birds

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I love how his white markings line up with the snow.

Another snow day! This time, I decided to go out and take pictures of the birds that come to our feeder. Because it is winter, there were tons of juncos (above) around. All I wanted was a picture of a cardinal in the snow. Unfortunately, our cardinals are chickens and fly away if you so much as cough quietly within 500 feet of them. So, no cardinal. But I did get some other birds:

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Clockwise from left: American Blue Jay, dark eyed junco, tufted titmouse, sparrow(?).

If you know what type of sparrow(?) that is, let me know! I love being able to identify my birds.

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Titmouse with some snow on his face.

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Caught a junco mid-takeoff. 

A Procession of Birds Et Al.

Oh, I miss my birds at home. My family has a bird feeder that we put out on our deck, and I like to spend my summers sitting on the deck, taking pictures of the birds. They are funny little creatures, and you get to know their various personalities by species. The cardinal is something of a coward; the chickadee is bold and fearless; the woodpecker is a pushy bully but frightened of those who are bigger than he is. When I moved, I bought a 5 picture vertical picture frame and put in my pictures of the various birds. This is what I ended up with:

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♪ One of these things is not like the other… ♪

The last one, whom I affectionately call the flightless striped bird, is such a little pain. We put seeds on the deck for the birds who prefer ground feeding, and his greedy self is never far away. You turn away for a moment, and next thing you know, he’s sitting there, shoving every single seed into his mouth. Ugh. But he’s still not as bad as….

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The night raiders.