Thursday, December 07, 2006

Parrot Mania

I just finished reading The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. The author is more than a bit strange. But it led me to a little websurfing and I found this blog about Brooklyn Parrots . More than you'd ever want to know about parrots in New York. Marie Winn reports that a parrot nest has been found under an air conditioner in a sixth story window on W. 103rd St. The first parrots in Manhattan in a long time. Some birders are snotty about these birds since they are "non-native". Fortunately, here in New York we have usually been welcoming to immigrants.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is That a Yawn or a Laugh?

Is That a Yawn or a Laugh?
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Okay. I admit that this was a lucky shot. Nora was sleeping on the afghan on the arm of the sofa, a favorite haunt of hers. I grabbed the camera to get a cute shot of her snoozing. While I was waiting for the flash to power up she woke up, I took the photo and this is what I got. It looks like a cross between a laugh and the Rolling Stones logo.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cat Fitness Magazine

Cat Fitness Magazine
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I made this faux magazine cover with the help of flickrtoys. Leslie is a customer and friend who is a devoted animal lover. Tomorrow is her birthday so I honored her with this cover of Cat Fitness magazine. You'll notice Nora on the cover keeping fit by snoozing on the back of the sofa.

Sometimes it's good to have a day off where you don't do anything significant.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Kitten

Innocent Look
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Well, I got a new kitten. I wasn't planning to. It just happened. She is tiny and adorable. She weighed 1.5 lbs. when I got her. She's now 3 lbs. so she's doing really well. But she had a cold when I first took her home and she wasn't eating enough and her left eye was tearing. She actually lost a little weight over the first week she was with me. (I weigh her on the store scale every day.)

Now she strong and completely crazy. She can hide anywhere and if she doesn't want to be picked up, she gallops away. Fortunately she's not too savvy yet. This is a photo of Nora hiding from me or so she thinks!

You Can't See Me!

She can't resist provoking Nicholas. He's gotten used to her although he hissed at her for about a week and slept in the back of the store all day for about 3 days when she first came home. He wouldn't take any treats from me. ("I'll show her! Bringing that kitten here. I'll refuse treats!) He's mellowed out now although I keep telling Nora she's riding for a hiding when she takes a poke at him.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch Caterpillar
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
We went on our Saturday birdwalk at Walker Avenue in Wayne, NJ. There were lots of dragonflies and some butterflies. We found several monarch caterpillars--fat and colorful.

Well, it was a chance to try out the new macro lens as was this shot of a bud on the sunflower in front of the store.

Sunflower Bud

More to come...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

King of the City

King of the City
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Brother and niece visited New York recently, and we took the subway down to Battery Park. I found this monarch dining on the flowers in the Robert F. Wagner, Jr. Garden along the waterfront. I'm always amazed at the variety of wildlife one can find in the City--if you look.

We saw the Coast Guard Memorial in the harbor near Castle Clinton. This is the only piece of sculpture that I'm aware of where part of it is deliberately in the water. It's a fitting tribute to the Coasties even if the birds are somewhat disrespectful.

Coast Guard Memorial

We had gone to Charlottesville to visit Monticello. We also took in the campus at the University of Virginia where the bull thistle was in bloom.

Bull Thistle

Friday, July 14, 2006


Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This photo is of a sunflower that I grew from a seed of the type I sell in the store. I put it in a large pot in front of the store--sort of a good will ambassador to potential seed buyers. The anthers and pistils are now all gone and you can see the seeds growing on the head. Seems a new photo is in order. The colors won't be so intense, but the pattern of the seeds in the head will be more apparent.

I celebrated the Fourth in Kent, CT. I found a fireworks display at a local summer camp near my house. It was quite a show for such a small number of observers. I wasn't sure that I'd be able to get any decent exposures, but some of them came out quite well.



Off to Virginia for a few days with my brother and a niece. Monticello is one desitination. I haven't been there since I was about 10 which is more than a few years ago.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Plum Tomatoes

Plum Tomatoes
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Summer is here and the tomatoes are beginning to put out fruit. These are plum tomatoes, San Marzanos to be exact, that I grow to make into sauce. The ones in this photo are very early in their growth. They'll get much bigger and fatter as the summer wears on. It always amazes me that tomatoes take so long to grow. I'm trying to be patient with little success.

Frogs continue to abound in the vernal pool (which still has lots of water thanks to torrential rains throughout June) aan elsewhere in my yard. They sit around the pool and jump in when I approach. Occasionally they cooperate and pose for photos. Here's a leopard frog.

Leopard Frog

I got some nice bird shots--a red-bellied woodpecker where you can actually get a peek of the red belly and a male cardinal who had gotten drenched fulfilling his parental duty to feed his young offspring.

Red Belly

Wet Cardinal

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
The irises were particularly good this year. I have a lot of rhizomes that I bought at Presby Garden, a famous iris garden in Montclair, NJ. Every summer they sell unidentified rhizomes to the eager public. You never know exactly what you're going to get so it's always a surprise the following spring. This yellow baby is probably not a Presby offering since it is in a different bed, but it sure is pretty.

It's been a very interesting spring in Kent. The vernal pool has been a continuing source of interest. Since we've had a lot of rain, the pool is nowhere near drying out although that could change if it gets hot in the next week or so. This week I saw a group of tadpoles murder another tadpole. I have no idea what this is all about. A customer told me a story about "big-headed salamanders" killing other tadpoles, but I haven't had a chance to research this theory. The birds, bear and raccoon will have to eat a lot of tads to prevent a biblical plague of frogs, toads and salamanders.

More Tads

The large amount of rain made Kent Falls run particularly strong. The state is rebuilding the path to the top so the park is very quiet. Makes for great photo ops.

Kent Falls State Park

Friends Cathy and Bing stopped by for a visit and we traveled to River Road along the Housatonic. As we neared the Appalachian Trail, a white bird popped out of the shrubbery. To our astonishment, it was a white peacock whose presence at this location was unexpected to say the least. It's probably an escapee from someone's yard, but I put it on my life list nonetheless.

What the ....?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bad Hair Day

Bad Hair Day
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This downy woodpecker really enjoyed the suet log, but for some reason his head feathers were up giving him a bad hair day. There's always something amusing going on at the feeders if you just keep your eyes open.

The downy wasn't the only critter at the suet feeder. At dusk, this raccoon, now named Satan, was found atop the feeder taking a snack. I came out and yelled, but he looked at me as if to say, "If you are not actually going to come out here and run after me, I'm not moving." So I ran outside waving like a banshee. I had to chase him twice more from the vicinity of the feeders, but in the morning the feeders were still as I'd left them showing that raccoons are less persistent than squirrels.


This photo was taken through the glass door with the flash hence the glare.

Also in town was the blue jay. Very handsome if a little noisy and perhaps a tad arrogant. (Must we always anthropomorphize? Yes, I guess we must!)

Blue Jay

And the titmouse.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sick Chipmunk

Sick Chipmunk
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This is the sad story of a sick chipmunk and how tough life in the wild can be. I was in Connecticut on a drizzly spring day and noticed that some of the chipmunks in the yard were a lot smaller than the others. It seems there were quite a few chipmunk babies.

One chipmunk, the one pictured here, was lethargic and somewhat strange looking. (Its eyes were never completely open and its rear legs didn't move right.) I approached it to throw some birdseed right near it since moving seemed to be a problem. He (or she?) managed to pick up some of the seed, but the other chippers didn't even bother to chase him. They must of realized that he wasn't right.

At one point I saw him belly up under the pachysandra, and I thought he'd met his maker. But he managed to right himself. He ultimately disappeared under the greenery. I don't know if he found shelter for the night or if exposure and other critters hastened his departure, but I kept reminding myself that 75% of creatures born in the wild don't make it to their first birthday. It's a jungle out there.

The irises were coming into bud. More than 30 buds are about to bloom. Spring birds have shown up: hummingbirds, chipping sparrows, rose-breasted grosbeaks. New frogs too.

Grosbeak & Chipping


The wood frogs had laid eggs weeks ago. Those eggs are now tadpoles which are getting bigger by the day. There are also some much smaller tads who may be other frogs or salamanders. I can't tell!

Tadpoles II

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happiness Poster

Happiness Poster
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I love all the "flickr toys" that allow you to make stamps, motivational posters and all kinds of other amusing things in a flash.

This is a photo of the female Eastern Bluebird in my yard turned into a motivational poster. You can make sarcastic ones too, but these bluebirds have really given me a thrill. We'll see if they stick around for nesting season.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I know why this bird is called the "bluebird of happiness". I was thrilled when I saw this guy sitting on my nestbox. Perhaps he and his bride will move in. They spent a lot of time there on Sunday and part of Monday. On Monday they even put a little nest material in the box, but then disappeared for the rest of the afternoon.

I got this shot of the male shooting out of the box. I didn't intend this outcome, but I love the result.

I'm Outta Here

The first daffodils of the season were blooming. They are always a pleasure.

First Daffs

I had a huge number of "nature notes" for the two days I had off: visited a heron rookery right in town; saw belted kingfishers chasing eachother; saw the first chipping sparrow of the season; heard spring peepers; saw wood ducks and green-winged teals and a palm warbler. And much more. I love spring!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Spring And A Young Frog's Fancy...

More Frog Sex
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
turns to thoughts of love.

Here is a graphic depiction of frog sex. You can see the eggs being extruded by the female. When they first emerge there are in a black cluster with white spots. Over the course of the next hour or so the cluster loses the white spots and starts to look like the cluster on the right.

Frog EggsHere's a better view of the eggs "before and after".

The crocuses are up. There are never enough of them. They are such a treat after a long winter that you want to have hundreds of them. Remind me in the fall. And remind me again after I've planted a couple of hundred!


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Photoshop Elements Experiment

Sophie (retouched)
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I scanned this photo of my aunt Sophie, taken in about 1905, and experimented with Photoshop Elements. I'm still pretty much a beginner at this, but the results are not bad. I got rid of most of the scratches and worn spots on the background. I can see that for people who like to do small, detailed work this might be addictive. You keep finding smaller and smaller defects that need to be corrected.

Now I have to learn more of the things you can do with Photoshop Elements. I can understand why people might take a class in this since there are so many things you can do with the program.

The photo shows Sophie as a very little girl, I'm guessing about age 3. Notice the short haircut. Sophie was always intolerant of people with lots of hair--either on the head or the face. Maybe this opinion started here!

I love the lace on her dress and the sparkle in her eyes.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Where I Have Been

Found a site where you can click on all the countries of the world that you have visited and create a map. Here it is.

create your own visited countries map

I didn't include any countries where I had only been in the airport--countries like New Zealand and South Korea. But it is a bit misleading because it shows all of China when I've been to Hong Kong, Macao and a little bit of what used to be called Canton Provence. Same with Brazil where I've been to Rio.

You have to look very hard to see the small red dot off the coast of Madagascar that is Mauritius.

Here's the US map.

create your own visited states

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This is my stash. I have come to know that I am not alone in my addiction. No 12 Step programs for yarn fanatics. We just keep our secret stashes...and add to them.

I went to Knit Knite at Enchanting Yarns in Kent. (In the world of knitting blogs this is referred to as your "LYS" or local yarn store.) It was a blast. About 8 or 9 women--I was probably the oldest, but who cares. It was amazing how many were knitting socks. Two people were spinning silk which was fascinating to watch. One was using a spinning wheel and one a wooden bobbin. They'd hand-dyed the silk themselves.

I went into the stash and took out some wool that I had been aging and started a new pair of socks. I have enough of this yarn to do a sweater, but I guess socks are okay too. Once you've worn hand-made socks, there's no going back!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Blizzard of '06

Blizzard of '06 II
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Blizzard today. The people who supposedly know say that this is the second worst storm in New York since they started keeping records. You can't go by me. I'd swear I've seen worse as recently as 1996. But what do I know?

This shot is from the courtyard in my apartment building. The kids were delighted to run around in the snow. We older folks were glad to stay inside where it's warm and dry.

This strange faux topiary horse has made a recent appearance on Broadway. I have no idea what the story is here. It just is.

Topiary Horse

Friday, February 10, 2006

Head for the Hills!

Head for the Hills!
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I stopped at the bottom of Kent Hollow when I saw a large flock of turkeys. I got out to grab a few shots and soon they began scattering. "Run for cover! Head for the hills!" they seemed to be saying. But when I drove back about 15 minutes later, they were back in the same place serenely pecking at whatever it was in the grass that interested them.

Ben Franklin thought the wild turkey should be our national bird. Since I don't know what purpose a national bird has other than to grace our currency, I'm not sure how I feel about this. We nearly killed off the bald eagle, but at least we don't eat it!

Turkey in the Hollow

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Great Blue Heron
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
I went to Atlanta on business and found myself "shopped out" at the Gift Mart. My flight wasn't leaving until 3:30 PM so I rented a car and took myself to the Chattahoochee Nature Center about 30 miles north of Atlanta. It was a gray day so the lighting wasn't great, but there were some nice birds.

Here's a Great Blue Heron. No trick to taking a decent picture of a GBH (in England GBH means "grievous bodily harm"--but I digress) especially when they are standing still.

I saw a tree with interesting exfoliating bark. My neighbor in Connecticut always likes trees with exfoliating bark because they provide "winter interest." Every profession has its jargon!

Exfoliating Bark

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
This is Bow Bridge across the Rowboat Lake in Central Park. Its lovely shape makes it so photogenic that it is hard to take a bad picture of it. It is one of the many things that makes those early morning birdwalks worthwhile even when you don't see any terrific birds. Olmsted and Vaux really knew what they were doing when they designed Central Park. I'm not convinced we've learned much about design since the mid-1800s. But that's for another post!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Dark & Deep

Dark & Deep
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep."

While it was in the 50s in New York and New Jersey today, it was winter in Connecticut earlier this week. In fact, it got down to 11 degrees in Kent on Friday night.

Whose woods these are, I definitely know. They belong the the White Memorial Foundation, a wildlife refuge of over 4600 acres in Litchfield County. While walking here I found pieces of what I believe is bark that had become translucent in the snow. Here's one piece.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

The New Scanner

Lee in 1933
Originally uploaded by PhoebeJ.
Upon the advice of Cousin Dan, I invested $80 and bought a new scanner from Epson. I've been wanting to scan the old family photos, organize them and burn them to a CD to share with the family.

The scanner is easy to use, but I have a lot (read "everything") to learn about Photoshop Elements that comes with the scanner.

This photo is my father. It's dated 1933 on the back. I have no idea what beach he went to in December of 1933, not the Jersey Shore to be sure. He was in law school in 1933. Winter break perhaps? Where did Harvard boys go in those days? Where were Jewish Harvard boys even welcome in those days? We'll never know!