Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Willy-Nilly Wednesday

Welcome to another Willy-Nilly Wednesday. It's like Mish-Mash Monday, only mid-week.

One, Two... Twelve (Wait, Stop Flitting About!)
Like many of you, I enjoyed taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count over the weekend:

Locality: 48108, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, MI
Snow Depth: 2 - 4 in (5.1 - 10.2 cm)
Habitat(s): deciduous woods, scrub, suburban, freshwater
February 14, 2010, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
    Mallard - 15
    Downy Woodpecker - 1
    Northern Flicker - 1
    Blue Jay - 1
    Black-capped Chickadee - 1
    White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
    Northern Cardinal - 2
    House Sparrow - 7
February 15, 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. 15, 2010
    Mallard - 12
    Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
    Downy Woodpecker - 1
    Northern Flicker - 1
    American Crow - 1
    White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
    Dark-eyed Junco - 3
    Northern Cardinal - 3
    House Sparrow - 12

Comments: I normally also see mourning doves.

Wonderful, Wacky Wildlife
The other afternoon, out of the corner of my eye, I spied a brownish, cat-shaped movement near my bird feeders, and yet the brownish cat-shaped lifeform who lives with me was stationary by my side on the couch. My brain slowly came to terms with the idea that the groundhog may be awake form hibernation and my butt  left the sofa to check outside.

Whew! It wasn't the groundhog, it was just an opossum. Wait, what?! In the nearly 8 years I've lived in my house, I've seen an opossum only once before, by chance, at night.

Well, that didn't change the fact that this opossum was eating in broad daylight. I'm always honored when wildlife visits my yard, and I think opossums are cute. Look at its cute pink nose, hands, and toes!

Squirrels (fox and red) are much more common visitors at my feeders, and I don't mind. The feeder to the left, which you can hardly see, is especially for squirrels. They can't resist hanging off the normal feeders, either, and this upside-down technique is the normal approach.

Until the other day, anyway, where an intrepid pioneer found it more advantageous to simply insert most of its body directly into the feeder. It's apparently a magic squirrel with a collapsible ribcage!

Finally Snow!
While the rest of the country has more snow than it knows what to do with, we had our first real snowsotrm all season here in southeastern Michigan.

Photo by Laura Crawford, Washtenaw Community College

We finally got some snow a few days ago. I love the smiley face added to this sculpture on the campus where I occasionally teach.

We got about 7 inches (here on my winter-sowing containers), but it has melted and compressed a lot since then.

Thank You, Kind Bloggers!
A while back, I won a reusable grocery bag, hand-knit by Aunt Debbi! Here it is. It's hard to see the subtle color gradation, but the bottom of the bag (which you can't see at all) is primarily black with some beige, the bottom shown is more primarily beige and black, and the top is primarily white and black. Cool, huh?

As long as you're admiring the bag, feel free to also admire my cool, retro metal canister and spice rack, but please ignore the crumbs on the counter!

Thanks also to Country Mouse who recently tagged me with an Honest Scrap / 10 Things You Don't Know About Me award / meme. I've previously posted 7 Things You Don't Know About Me, so I'm going to say that's close enough for rock 'n' roll. Do stop by Country Mouse's blog, though, as Duncan, her canine companion, wrote an amusing post about himself!

DC-3 Cleared for Building, Over 
Every so often, I like to try a new hobby. My friend Pete is an avid and long-time modeler, mostly of scale model rockets, which he flew in competitions and made many of the parts for himself, but also of non-flying plastic model airplanes, assembled from kits.

I've never been super interested in airplanes (and don't enjoy flying), so I really wanted to build a house for a model train layout. Not that I have one, but I like trains and I like houses. Investigating the cost, it quickly became apparent that building a surplus airplane kit of Pete's for free would be way more commensurate with both my pocket book and skill level.

So I was given this plastic model kit of a DC-3 by Italeri. These are all the parts and how it looks out of the box. (The decals to the left came with the set, the ones to the right are 1970s German Easter decals from my grandmother, left over from my childhood, which clearly had to be incorporated.)

Pete also built a DC-3. His is the smaller, more completed gray model to the right. My fuselage sections had to be clamped together while drying. The glue to the right isn't truly glue, but liquid cement for plastic, which spreads through capillary action. I loved it. I also used what I would call tube glue but which modelers call plastic cement.

I was expecting this project to be a challenge because I don't have the finest, precision motor skills or the best vision. That ended up being an issue, but not a real problem. What I hadn't been expecting was all the modifications I needed to make to the pieces. In my mind, a kit means you should be ready to rumble with only minor fussing.

Apparently, that is not the case. Now, I get that parts might have excess plastic from being removed from the sprue (the non-part plastic that holds the pieces together) and I felt marginally capable of using an Exacto knife, fine. But my whole interior section (except the pilots, which I insisted must stay) had to be scrapped because it was a fraction too wide for the fuselage to fit around it. Pete assured me this was the kit's issue, not my clumsy hands' fault. Shouldn't the pieces of a model just fit together?!

Also, I had to do a lot of trimming and scraping of plastic edges to get some seams to match up more precisely. Other seams didn't fit flushly, so I had to use putty to fill the gap. (That was actually fun, but not something I'd have expected to have to do.)

Here is most of the model put together. It was really helpful being able to use all of Pete's supplies and having him on hand to answer a quazillion questions I had and share his expertise and tips. I don't think I ever would have attempted this on my own.

Here are all the first-coat painted parts. The gloss silver enamel paint didn't coat as smoothly as I would have liked. (Advanced modelers use spray paint, but I didn't fancy masking all those tiny windows!)

Here's the almost-finished version (only missing the decals). Most of the colors are accurate--the body was most often metallic silver, the propellers were black with those yellow edges, and the navigation lights and location of numbers (next photo) are accurate. But I took some liberties, because I was doing this for fun. Hence the orange tail (though both paints are Testors' gloss enamels, though the orange has 100x better coverage and a much smoother look. I'm now wishing I'd painted the whole thing orange, and apparently some Dutch versions of the plane were entirely orange, but I wanted silver for a more retro look).

Apparently, adding the water-transfer decals is sometimes tricky, but for me that was the easiest bit. I had some awesome rabbit decals for the rudders, but they had disintegrated due to age. Fortunately, Pete had some Flying Tigers decals, which are just as cool. The rest of the decals are those from my Grandmother. 

The only one you can't see in the previous photo, on the port wing, is this one. Ignore the crappy painting job and instead marvel at the cuteness of the decal and how nicely it lays over a three-dimensional surfaces!

I enjoyed the process, overall, but don't think I'll be making any other models any time soon! (Though I am fascinated about creating landscapes for train layouts...) 

Crimes Against Horticulture
Jean recently posted some photos of very bad planting and pruning techniques. I suggested she post them to Billy Goodnick's Flickr group, Crimes Against Horticulture, which she did. That reminded me there was a house in a nearby neighborhood whose photo I was meaning to take to add to the group myself.

Not only are the Mugo pines planted too near the foundation and ridiculously in need of pruning back, that poor poor cedar was not only planted way too close to the house as well, it suffered a very very bad haircut as the "solution" to the former. Arg!

Blogger Grumble #459
After fixing the "Read More!" that Blogger was automatically adding to all my posts, I switched to the new editor, assuming new was synonymous with improved. HA!

Where the heck did the spellchecker go, and why can I only upload one photo at a time? I used to be able to upload 5 at a time, and the spellchecker icon was obvious.

And I had this post almost completely done, when I went to hit return and somehow the whole screen went blank/all content was erased. No big deal, I hadn't saved it, so I navigated away from the window and came back... to an empty screen. Blogger had automatically saved the cleared screen, which meant I had to re-do the whole post. Where do I set the timing for autosaves?

Also line spacing seems to be randomly weird.


  1. New isn't always better! I read about the new editor and was tempted, but something said...Google to see if there are problems. There were plenty of complaints lodged against it.

    Monica...I love that you tried your hand at model building. It sure looks like fun.

    We have oppossums visit us frequently...but right now we have the peahen and raccoons....causing the most havoc! Ah nature!


  2. Your model building looks like fun. I like the stickers best, very cute. I would love to have a train outside to have a project to landscape. Maybe some day.

    It took quite a bit of time for me to get used to the new and improved (?) editor. UGH... Nothing is ever easy. My posts are saved so often I can hardly get things changed if I want to. And spell checker. Ha. Good luck.

    I wanted you to know I got the lids off my winter sown jugs. I thought it might work like a terrarium. I guess not since several people have told me to get those lids off.

    Your possum is cute too. It must have been hungry to be out and about during the day. Haven't had one around here for awhile.

  3. I can't keep up with everything here! ;-) However, are you at all worried by seeing a nocturnal animal lurking around in the daylight? That's often NOT a good sign...

    Hve a great day!!

  4. Monica, wow! I am imoressed with your stick-to-it-ness. I would have left those need-to-be-trimmed model pieces in the box. I totally agree with you that a kit means it fits together. We ought to make kits. I am sure we could do a better job of getting the molds to match at the seams and around the interior of things. :) Anyway, great job and I love the stickers and orange tail.

    Oppossums are NOT cute! Ugh! But great photos. I would think like Lisa said that he was very hungry and maybe even sick to be out during the day. And those squirrel photos are such fun. The are amuzing to watch.

    Great job on the bird count. All I saw were sparrows. :( I think Thomas (remember the stray cat who adopted us when it suits him) might have had something to do with most of the birds staying away. He was outside visiting on Sunday.

  5. That possum was just plain ole hungry and didn't care anyone was around. Too cute! The squirrel too! I think all the critters are thinking dinner is at Monica's!

  6. Hey, thanks for the shout-out Monica. I saw that photo you posted of the Mugo - ugh.

    I cannot believe you tried your hand at model airplane building. It looks like you did a fabulous job and the Easter stickers are tres chic.

    I personally don't think possums are cute except when they're wee little things. Then I want to pick them up and snuggle with them. They're kind of reverse ugly ducklings to me.

    Wasn't the bird count fun?

    About the new editor, I've gotten used to it and in some ways it has nicer features. Mine saves every few seconds and I don't remember setting anything to get it to do that. Why they decided Spellchecker wasn't worthwhile, I have no idea.

  7. I wonder if this possum is the same one who visited me a month ago:) I'm getting some strange vibes right now, Monica, because I'm beginning to think we live parallel lives--not only did I have a possum visit, but yesterday I looked outside to my bird feeder, which is exactly like yours, by the way, and saw something strange hanging out the side. It was a squirrel just like the one you pictured! The weird thing is, the squirrels never come this close to the house. Apparently, they have been watching me and knew that Sophie has been on her leash the past few days for being a bad girl and decided they'd be brave enough to venture up closer.

    Now the parallel lives end at the model airplane--that's something I've never done. But my dad and brother used to make these years ago. None of theirs had such a cute little bunny sticker on it, though:) I'm impressed; you did a great job!

    When somebody figures out the spacing on Blogger, I'd love to know. The random spacing on the final post always drives me nuts.

  8. I love the cute little stickers on the plane.

    The opossum is a cute one, I saw one last week but unfortunately it was a road kill....I didn't do it"

    The Squirrel is just too funny with it's tail and leg hanging out of your bird feeder.

    Hope your problem is resolved soon with blogger.

  9. Monica - just popped in to get a link to you - at last I'm doing your mushy peas post :o

    Our backyard count happens at the end of January - I do it every year, but unfortunately no opossums appear during my count!

    I encountered the new editor when putting my new pages together. It's pants isn't it! Not only does the line spacing go all random, the text gets reshuffled too :(

    I've made sure my settings stay firmly with the old editor, but unfortunately if you want to use the Pages function, you have to use the new one. I do like the link testing facility though.

  10. Monica - have written a massive reply to your mushy peas question over at mine!

  11. A smorgasbord of wondrous thoughts, Monica. Lots of possums here and one reason many years ago took a bird feeder off the library window ... tire of extracting trapped wildlife from the window well below :)

  12. I use the old editor on Blogger, I hate the new one.
    I think opossums are freaky, but my husband thinks they're cute. I'd rather have them visit than those pesky squirrels. I'm not surprised that one found a way into the feeder. Next thing you know, the feeder will be on the ground & the top will be gone.
    I love (in a bad horror flick/Svengooli sort of way) the mangled cedar.

  13. I should say, Willy Nilly. Lots going on but I loved this post! Tres impressed with all of your birds. Amazed at the oppossum. Plus you really struck a cord with the new (and not so) improved blog editor.

    Fun stuff. :))

  14. What a whacky post! Great content this week. I really liked the pictures of the possum. So rare to see them out and about in the daytime uh?

  15. I see some of your birds are in the counting of 1. I must send some of my birds up to you so they can have mates!

    Opossums are neat creatures and I just formed a new opinion of them after reading all the wonderful info that Marnie over at “Lilacs and Rose’s” posted about them.

    Squirrels what can I say about them? They are stinkers for sure. Once we fed them their own feeders, then they told all their friends, then they told all their friends, etc and we had a time trying to keep the feeders filled. We finally had to resort to squirrel proof feeders. We don’t have nearly as many as we did when feeding them but still enough to wreak havoc on our life. They get plenty of fallen seed and corn from the feeders though.

    Glad you finally had snow, that is, if you wanted it. Most are not wanting it right now.

    How neat of you to build a model plane! I toyed with them as a young adult with my hubby and that can be a pricey hobby…

    Oh, that poor massacred tree! Why not just cut the entire thing down? Do you think the owners were having fun with it or just not educated on tree pruning?

    I had trouble with blogger not wanting to load a video yesterday but then it finally loaded. I can no longer drag pictures from top to bottom or vice versa! I must make sure I have the pictures in the correct order when loading them. Of course some are out of order and I must drag the pic one frame at a time. Frustrating…

  16. Oh ein Opossum! Ist das nicht so eine Art Stinktier? Wenn ja, pass bloß auf, Monica ;-).
    Und Du machst Modellbau. Klasse, habe ich früher auch gemacht. Aber keine Flugzeuge, nur kleine Häuser.
    Liebe Grüße

  17. Ha, that sculpture is pretty funny.

    The squirrel is quite the contortionist. Is there anyone a squirrel can't do?

  18. We think Opossums are kind of cute too. But would they try to harm us? Not that we're afraid...
    Purrs, Siena & Chilli

  19. I love that little oppossum - it's so sweet! We don't have them over here, so I have to make do with foxes and badgers in my garden!

    That plane looks great - you did a good job! I used to help my brother make planes occasionally, but i don't remember any of them turning out that well :)

  20. Hi Monica.......I love the little possum....their hands are just so cute. I also love the fact that you love them.....

    Well done with the model.....I would not know where to start. As a small child, my brother would spend days, putting a model together to hang from his bedroom ceiling.....

    We are expecting more snow tomorrow...hope they have got it wrong. I am seriously fed up with heavy frost and snow......

  21. Oh those poor trees - what a shame they can't get their own back. I am still using the old Blogger editor. Have tried the new version a couple of times but it was most exasperating. The idea of making model railway landscapes also appeals to me :)

  22. Sprue! Where has that word been all my life? Love it!

    Your plane is so adorable. I've never built a model either but I would have assumed they'd fit together perfectly. I guess if it were too easy, what would be the challenge, right?

  23. Maybe your mourning doves were scared of the possum :) I get possums too, usually around dusk. The bag is sooo pretty, I just love using re-usable grocery bags. They sure don't break and dump your groceries like paper or plastic! Blogger "auto-switched" me to the new editor awhile back, and I hated it. Luckily there were forums and I read how to put it back to normal. Change is not always good, and I want to make the choice, darn it! :)

  24. What a wide range of topics today, Monica. And wasn't it just a week ago that you commented in an email that you thought your life was borin? Far from it! I'm the one who feels boring. I'm just boring "Amy" and don't have one of those catchy names your other friends have. LOL.

    All of the mourning doves were at my house, which is why you didn't see any. I usually can spot a dozen or so in my trees or on my power lines. I wonder if those are the "pigeons" my neighbor keeps reporting me for? I'll have to give her a lesson on how to tell pigeons and mourning doves apart.

    I get lots of possums, too, and spot them at least once a year. Saw one just a few weeks ago as I was getting ready for work, and last year one got in my garage during the winter and died (that was not fun).

    I loved the squirrel in your feeder! They are very resourceful, aren't they? I have a squirrel-proof one that so far only one squirrel has managed to get seed from. I was in hysterics one day though when a frustrated squirrel kept flicking a chipmunk off the feeder.

  25. When I was a kid we used to do classic cars. Last year one of my nephew kept bugging me to get him an airplane one and I never did. Now I feel like a jerk because it looks like a lot of fun.

    You should add some of the "GF" stickers you had on the seeds in the seed swap.

    As to the editor: You can still add several pics in the window, at least I think I do when I upload. Anyway, what's cool about the editor is that you can add in all your text, then go back in and add the pictures in whatever sections of the post you want. Unlike the classic editor where you have to add the pics then add the words around it.

  26. Monica, I am so frustrated with the photo upload process on Blogger that I can no longer use it! I either have to make collages, or upload my photos to my Picasa web album and copy the link & embed it in the post. Frustrating, to say the least--but I don't think I'll be switching to a new host any time soon.

    What a post this is! You could have done at least 4 here, probably 5! But this way, we read them all;-) Good work on the model airplane...reminds me of something my son would enjoy!

    You mentioned 'retro' pots on my blog...I can see that you are really in to retro! I didn't even consider them to fit into that category when I purchased them, at Walmart & Target but I suppose they could mix in w/any decor.

    What a riot that squirrel was...crawling into your feeder. They are magicians, literally;-)

    And your birdcount...great fun! I have yet to post about mine, but I saw a lot. I just love watching them--they're so interesting. (Usually. There are some birds that are more annoying & unwanted:-/ but I'm not naming any names...haha.

    Be well my friend;-)

  27. You left the sting to the end! For days I haven't been able to get to blogs run by Blogspot - either mine or those of others. Here I am at last and a good read to arrive at.

    I've been getting more and more frustrated with picture loading. I was blaming my laptop but, after lots of fiddling, I realized it is probably a minor contributory factor. Slowness in loading dampens the pleasure of blogging.

    I've never seen an opossum. What an extraordinary looking creature - a sort of composite with very interesting angles.

    Not sure I could take model making seriously but you have certainly put a lot of effort into making your plane. Sometimes a task is enhanced by good company.


  28. Monica! I thought if I had a snow fall then of course Michigan does too! It is nice to see the pristine white garden for a change..better than the dreary brown.
    Oh my gosh what a smart squirrel digging deep inside the feeder!!
    Did my oppossum leave my garden and travel to yours!! I have not seen my nocternal visitor for some time. I read in another blog that the opposum are a very clean animal..groom themselves constantly as the cat does.
    Let's hope Spring is buried under all our snow and when it melts up pops Spring!!
    Have a good day.hugs