Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mrs Buzz Saw Update - November, 2015

    I was informed that some of my grandchildren were hungry for news about Mrs Buzz Saw's daily activities. I have some reservations as to whether that is a good idea. Mrs Buzz Saw tends to alternate between being lazy, behaving badly, and intense neediness. However, to comply with the wishes of my darling grandchildren I've decided to do this post anyway.
Mrs Buzz Saw doing what she does best

    The above photo depicts Mrs Buzz Saw doing what she does for most of any given day, that is indulging in extreme laziness. She takes laziness to an art form. Her two favorite locations for this activity are one, on the back of the living room chair closest to the front window, and two, on our bed, usually curled up next to Linda's laptop.  I'm not too sure the time she spends on our bed stems from any loyalty or love she feels for us. I think she likes to lie next to the laptop because its like sitting next to a little heater. The laptop's cooling fan sends a constant jet of warm air in her direction. I think she likes the back of the living room chair because of the wonderful view it gives her of small helpless birds should she actually wake up for a few moments.

Examples of Mrs Buzz Saw's Needle Felting

     Mrs Buzz Saw has a number of favorite activities that can all be grouped under the general heading of "behaving badly." She has recently taken up the hobby of needle felting. If she can get access to any of my wool bats she delights in working them over with their claws until they are all felted together such that they could never be spun into yarn.  I would be more supportive of her needle felting if she formed the wool into any sort of useful shape. Sadly, she only does abstract free form sculptures.  She also like to sharpen her claws on the upholstery. We got her a scratching post once, but she ignored it in favor of Linda's couches and chairs.

Catching mice and rats does have my full support 

    In addition to her needle felting Mrs Buzz Saw also enjoys hunting, specializing in small helpless creatures.  This is a hobby which I halfway support. That half being the vermin she kills such as mice, rats, and moles. She really is a skilled hunter and does have some positive impact on reducing our vermin population. The half I don't support consists of all the little song birds she kills.  While she eats a portion of her prey, she sometimes decides to share them with us.  It is not uncommon to get up in the morning and find Mrs Buzz Saw has left a dead bird or mouse on the welcome mat.  Once I found a rather long rat tail and an undetermined internal organ on the mat on the back deck.  Sometimes in lieu of a bird there are just a few feathers. This morning I found a decapitated chickadee at my back door. I could add bird watching to her list of favorite activities, but she only likes watching birds as prospective prey. When I refill the bird feeder I have to remember to move the ladder back away from the feeder. If I don't take the time to move the ladder, Mrs Buzz Saw will climb to the top of the ladder and watch the feeder from a few feet away.  Oddly enough, the birds are reluctant to use the feeder with a hungry cat sitting close by.
Mrs Buzz Saw likes the "high ground"

    The last category, "intense neediness", usually manifests itself after we return from a trip.  I will try to sit down to watch a football game only to discover that isn't going to happen until after Mrs Buzz Saw's need for petting is satisfied.  My options at that point are to either walk downstairs to throw out the cat or simply give the cat what she wants and watch the football game over or around the cat for a few minutes.

Nature in my backyard.

   I haven't posted for a while, a reflection of things being busy at the bee store and teaching beginning beekeeping classes two or three days a week.  We're getting closer to the package bee craziness, but at least all of the bee classes are through.

   I had a quiet morning at home on Monday and was surprised to see a humming bird.  I am amazed that such a small bird with such huge energy requirements can be active when the temperature is in the 40s.  The high on Monday was only about 55 and it wasn't much above 40 degrees Fahrenheit at 8:00 am. Sadly, the humming bird wouldn't stay in one place long enough for a photo.

The rough skinned newt when I first noticed him.

   On Thursday morning last week I was putting out the trash cans.  When I went to move our big blue recycle bin I saw a little salamander next to the can.  I needed to move the can but I didn't want to run over the salamander so I moved him out of the way with a stick.  As soon as I moved him the salamander went stiff and bent into an odd position that exposed it's bright orange belly.   I took some photos and then spent some time on the internet trying to identify the type of salamander.   It turned out to be a rough skinned newt.  That identification was later confirmed by a zoologist friend. The rough skinned newt is native to Western Washington and Oregon. They are poisonous to eat, their skin having the same poison found in puffer fish.  Apparently someone once ate one on a dare and died a half hour later.  That explained the odd behavior when I moved the salamander. His bright orange belly was advertising that he was poisonous.

The newt after I touched him with a stick
        I was amazed to learn we had a local creature that was so deadly poisonous.  If they were larger their poisonous nature might be more commonly known.  As it stands, they are so small that even the most adventurous survivalist probably wouldn't be tempted to eat one.  I'm guessing the death I mentioned above probably involved alcohol.

Morels growing in our yard

       On an edible note, I discovered these beauties growing in my back yard.  More specifically, my grand daughter, Hannah Kang, asked me about the weird mushroom she found in the back yard. I was amazed to find they were morels.  They were growing where we had briefly had an above ground pool for last summer's cousin camp.  We had to bring in some dirt to even the lawn before we replanted the grass.  I can only surmise the morel spawn was in the dirt we imported.  Morels are supposed to form a symbiotic relationship with certain tree species. Morels are somewhat mysterious compared to other mushrooms.  They don't appear in the same places from year to year.  In Washington State they tend to appear in old burns up in the mountains. This past summer having been a bad fire year, this spring is predicted to be a wonderful morel year.

      Morels also happen to be the first wild mushrooms I ever hunted.  When I was about eleven years old we lived in Centerville, Iowa.  My grandparents, Guy Dudley Tunnell and Sylvia Linnia Lee lived on an 80 acre farm, a few miles west of Mystic Iowa, about eight miles from Centerville.  One spring we hunted for morels in a small oak forest across the road from my grandfather's farm.  I knew next to nothing about mushrooms at that time.  Someone showed me what they looked like and I got busy hunting.  I think all kids enjoy a treasure hunt.  I don't remember exactly how much we found, but it was a significant amount. We ate them sautéed. I remember them tasting a bit odd to my eleven year old palate.  I learned to appreciate the taste more as I grew older.  I used some of my backyard morels last Saturday in a wonderful mushroom gravy over pork chops.