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Happy Birthday, Reed!

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Today is Reed’s birthday! You can go to his blog and send him birthday wishes! I hope I will have a nice picture up later of his birthday cake. I have a busy afternoon planned!

Happy Birthday, sweetie! I love you!

Edited to add:

Well, Reed said he wanted breakfast for his birthday dinner, so I made grits, eggs, country ham, and biscuits from scratch. And we had orange juice to drink. I did make a birthday cake for him, which was both more and less trouble than I thought it would be. The cake part was perfectly easy–basic yellow cake from the BH&G. The frosting was pretty easy as well–chocolate buttercream that was a bit thinner than I would have liked. The thing is that real cake and real frosting is so much sweeter than store-bought cake, even if less perfect overall. It is a little overwhelming! But now we have a snack for a long while or until the cake goes stale.

Here is a picture–next time, I would like to have frosted it a little more artfully, but it is delicious! And I got to use my cake stand!

Tomorrow night we have reservations at the Japanese restaurant for shabu shabu! I wonder if we get to sit in the little room at the low table? That is our joint birthday dinner, since my birthday is in a week. We don’t usually give each other presents other than our joint dinner, although we pick out things “for our birthdays”. For my birthday, we are going to explore Pullen Park. Reed’s birthday treat was his pointer/clicker thing that he used during his presentation, although he is sweet and treating my cake like a present.

Jackpot!

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Well, ok, not quite–but it was fun. I know some of you are going to think that I live at that park down the road, Yates Mill. Every other day almost I am here writing about walking around the mill pond, birds I’ve seen there, etc. I can’t help myself. It is simply my favorite place in Raleigh besides my own home. I think it is because it is a fairly simple, but pretty, park–just some dirt paths in the woods, a few boardwalks, and a historic structure. It isn’t surrounded by homes and highways, and there are just enough people. Everything about it is just right, and it is small enough to get to know well.

Today, I thought I would get out and be in the outdoors for a while this afternoon. I took my binoculars to watch the Buffleheads some more, and thought I would just get to know them better. That was a good choice.

I did get to see Buffleheads, and this time around I could even identify the females out there diving about. There were about 16 there today, which is more than I have seen before. There were also some other ducks there, but I had a hard time identifying them. They didn’t want to be watched and would fly away to other parts of the pond if I got too close to them. At first, I just thought I was making Mallards into something more exotic because I would get a new bird. I ended up on the little dock by the education center, looking at them–across the pond and in the shade, of course. I had narrowed it down to a page in my guide, but I just wasn’t sure. What if I’m just seeing things? All of a sudden, four Mallards swam out from right beside me at the dock. And I knew that I wasn’t seeing things, and that those ducks were new! I finally identified them as Ring-Necked Ducks, mostly from their white shoulders. I realized that even across the lake, I could tell that those four Mallards were definitely Mallards.

The jackpot is that a sneaky little Pied-Bill Grebe was hanging out near the dock when I went down there, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have one of those on my list either. That wasn’t a hard id, thank goodness–I just hadn’t found one yet. You never know what you’ll see when you go outside.

I was thinking about bird watching while I was out there, and about how it takes patience, the ability to be quiet and listen, to slow down. Most of the time I don’t think those are qualities that would describe me, but I’m glad that I have a chance to practice those characteristics every once in a while.

15.48/365

An important discovery?

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Last night I discovered the meetin.org group for Raleigh. Today, they were going to my favorite park, Yates Mill, for a walk, so I signed up and met them out there this afternoon. We walked the High Ridge trail and the Mill Pond trail, so I have now walked all of the trails in the park! There were three other people besides me, and they all seemed nice.

There were also about a dozen Buffleheads out on the pond, and I brought my binoculars, so we all had a chance to look at them. I restrained myself from “teaching” them everything I know about those little ducks, which is a gold star effort for me, you know. It was nice, and I think I will try to do some more things with the group in the future.

The leaves are still pretty here, but they’ve only got about a week left. Many of them have been blown off in the last week, so winter is definitely on the way!

14.48/365

Getting out there.

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When I was thinking about running more (ha!), I asked a running friend for advice and she said (in part and paraphrasing) that a) it is never too cold to run and b) it gets you out there, in nature, and that is good. She’s right, of course. This morning, although chilly, I grabbed my fleece and headed out for a walk.

I think–hmm, maybe I’ll just walk a mile and then turn around because any exercise is good exercise and better than nothing. Five minutes later, I’m feeling pretty warm, and I think–well, I’ll walk to the end of the road, but I won’t turn down the bigger road at the end. Then I got caught up in my thoughts about some posts on a message board I read yesterday, which led to me thinking about a job I wanted to apply for, and suddenly I noticed that I had already turned and walked a third of the way down the road at the end of the street. Might as well finish it–of course, by this time I’m not really cold at all.

Then, when I got back to our little neighborhood, I noticed all these little birds flying about. I stopped to see if I could figure out what kinds they were (tufted titmouse and chickadees and something else), and realized that some of them had built a nest in the top of the tree where it has broken off. I watched them for a while and I’ll probably go out there tomorrow morning with my binoculars and watch the nest tree some more. If I hadn’t gotten out there to walk, even in the cold, I probably would never have noticed the nest in the tree trunk.

I’m glad I had her thoughts rattling around in my head to get me started. That’s always the hardest part, starting to do something that is not habit, even when it is good for you and you enjoy it!

Today I am going to finish cleaning the kitchen up–we have a few things that wouldn’t fit in the dishwasher and I had to do a load of laundry so we would have clean dishrags, mop the floor, and get the folding table back in the attic (and Christmas decorations down!). That’s all, and we’ll be back in business! We have to decide when we are going to decorate for Christmas–I don’t like to have Christmas overload. That’s what makes Grinches, don’t you know!

Ta-da!! Learn to make rolls from scratch has been completed!! That is five out of my 30x30 Challenge! I made an enormous amount, so we have plenty in the freezer to last us for a few months. If you want to see my adventure documented in more detail and pictures of our Thanksgiving dinner, then click the continue reading link. Lots of pictures!

Bufflehead.

Reed and I went back to Yates Mill this afternoon to watch for ducks, armed with my trusty binoculars and field guide. We saw the big lot of them, like yesterday.

They were mallards.

ARG. I just knew they were something new to me, but yesterday all I could see was a bunch of duck shaped silhouettes out in the middle of the glare-y lake. Anyway, we got a chance to walk around on a nice day and that is always good for us.

We were just about back to the boardwalk, when Reed said–that’s something different. It was. And although it annoyingly kept diving under the water the second you put binoculars to eyeballs, we figured out that it was a Bufflehead. Woohoo! I have updated my life list and republished it to the post after this one.

I also should have a great adventure list post by the end of the weekend! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

12.7/365

Thanksgiving!

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This is our first Thanksgiving on our own, since we will not be making the trek back to Georgia this year and no one is coming up here either. I don’t think I’ve ever made a whole Thanksgiving meal for us, although I’ve brought traditional dishes to potlucks before. I started the actual prep work today by making cornbread for the stuffing, which I will make tomorrow evening. We’re also going to start defrosting the turkey tonight in the fridge. Woohoo!

Our menu looks like the following: Turkey, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, collards, butternut squash, rolls, and caramelized pears for dessert. I’m a little worried about the turkey being a disaster, but I really like turkey and I’m not all that picky about it, so whatever. My cousin gave little homemade cookbooks with family recipes as favors at her wedding in April, and it has my grandmother’s dressing recipe–so that is the one we are making this year. I haven’t decided what to do with the butternut squash yet, although I think it will be roasted with some kind of sweetening. The squash recipe I was planning to make turned out to be a dud when we tried it earlier in the week. Also, I wanted a simple dessert just so I wouldn’t have too many plates in the air, and the pears meet that need. (Although someone’s post about PIES had me regretting that for a little while.) I figured that homemade rolls would be challenge enough, and they are on the adventure list. I’m making Reed a birthday cake next week, so going light on the dessert this week isn’t the end of the world.

Tomorrow I am making the dressing and (if I can get my act together) starting the rolls so they can have a nice long rise in the fridge overnight. And cleaning out the fridge, of course! And getting the table out of the attic so that I can get a picture of our spread! Maybe I should make a better list off-line. I am also going to the Thanksgiving celebration that the church I’ve been visiting is a part of–apparently it is a big musical event.

Thursday will be the big cooking shindig. We have decided to watch the parade in the morning, have our lunch, and then maybe take in a matinee that afternoon. I hope it will be a great day.

Today, on the other hand, had a very frustrating event. I went to walk at Yates Mill and there were ducks there!! Of course, they only made an appearance because I did not have my binoculars. I’m going back over there again tomorrow, with binoculars, although I’m sure they will have completely disappeared into a ducky black hole. They weren’t even mallards–real ducks! Raarr.

11.7/365

Science Bloggers Conference Update

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Oh. My. Goodness. On the Friday before the conference, there are tours of local research/science labs and centers and what nots. I checked in case there was a lab full of dead baby owls, like the behind-the-scenes tour of the University of Fairbanks Museum of the North that we went on as part of the Evolution conference. This will be even better, if you can believe it.

One of the research labs is the Duke Lemur Center!! We are so there! I can’t wait! Now I’m really excited and it is even more important that I learn how to use Reed’s fancy camera because I am going to hog it. Unless…I can pet one. Then someone else can use the camera.

Technically, I could have already taken a tour of the Lemur Center but whatever. Sometimes you need a reason to do things, and the conference is a really great reason.

Science Bloggers Conference

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I received my registration message today for the Science Bloggers Conference in January. Funny, I don’t remember signing up for it. Hmm. Actually, that is because Reed did it for me. (I said he could.)

I know, I’m not really a science blogger, despite my birding and whatnot. Reed told me that would be ok, since the conference is open to the public and the press will be there. I see that he also said I would be live-blogging the conference and attending all the sessions, hmm. Maybe signing me up for the free-bbq dinner makes up for that. Maybe.

The conference does look like it will be interesting and that there will be a good representation of locals, so it has potential for me to have a great time. I’ll also get the chance to meet some people that I have known online for a while, as well as people that I hear about from Reed. That should be fun. If you are interested in meeting very interesting science people, you should swing by if you are in the neighborhood, Dear Readers. Also, there are workshops about how to become a blogger if you want to learn!

Vocation Vacations

What a creative idea! I want to be an RV Campground Owner!!

If I had my own RV Campground, then I could offer tired little bike campers treats like honey buns and cokes! And I would meet all the strange modern day nomads! Bwhaha.

The NC Bar Association’s e-newsletter led me to an interesting article about the need for greater oversight of IT practices by the directors of corporations. It originally appeared in the Wisconsin Lawyer Magazine in August, but I’m linking to the article at IBLS.

Since I find corporate oversight and director responsibility strangely interesting, I enjoyed this article a great deal. Increased regulation and a greater reliance on electronic data and systems create an environment where IT becomes something powerful to reckon with, and directors ignore it at their peril. However, it appears that some companies are coming up to a generation (and communication) gap between people with IT fluency and board members, and that traditional auditing committees may not quite be up to providing adequate information on this topic. It ends with a series of questions that directors should be asking about IT practices at their corporation.

I think the article may be closing the barn door after the horse is gone, but if corporations haven’t figured this out yet, then there is no time like the present.

Creekside Trail

This afternoon, Reed and I went back over to Yates Mill and hiked a trail that was new to us, the Creekside Trail. The best part of this trail is a long boardwalk that offers great birdwatching. I will be coming back to this part of the trail, which would be an easy addition to any walk around the mill pond. Creekside Trail is just barely over a mile long one way, and it isn’t really along a creek most of the way. Really the trail skirts the edge of some of the experimental fields of NC State more than hugs the creek, but it is a nice walk.

We also did some subtle trail management by lowering a cedar log from waist high to the ground, mostly because it was begging to impale someone who wasn’t paying attention. We flaunted the leave no trace guidelines by taking the four inch, very sharp branch that Reed broke off the log. It smells yummy and the broken off side has a nice dark red vein running through it. What is strange to me is that it appeared that other branches had been sawed off of the log, but there were plenty left to stab people, including the end that should have been sawed off smoothly.

Afterwards, we were going to have various breakfast foods for dinner, but when I took the bacon out of the fridge it was a tad bit green. So we went to Dalat, the Vietnamese restaurant down the road, and had a kind of pho–which is a beef and veggie soup with rice noodles. I ate too much, but it was really good.

10.7/365

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