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Woodcock Walk

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Tonight, I went on a Wake Audubon field trip and gathered a new bird for my life list! There was a field trip at the Schenk Memorial Forest, which Reed and I visited in October. This is the time of year (in North Carolina) to see the American Woodcock’s sky-dance, or courtship. You might have heard about this if you have ever read Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, which is actually where I first heard of it.

Anywho, I learned an incredible amount about woodcocks tonight, most of which you can find out by searching the wiki page or reading the Cornell Lab site on American Woodcocks. What makes the Schenk forest such good habitat is that it is the teaching forest for NC State, so it is always being cut down and replanted–and woodcocks need the brushy understory of a re-growing forest to live and breed and do their courtship display. However, woodcocks really have only been returning to Schenk in the past few years–since dogs were banned. Schenk is a research area, and not really a recreational facility, and apparently the university finally got tired of all the dogs off-leash running through the research plots. No dogs now, and the woodcocks, who nest on the ground, have returned.

It was fun to be in the outdoors while the sun went down, and tromping around quietly. This was mostly about listening for the males calling and flying up through the air, high above us, and back down to their breeding grounds. We saw them, but it was dark so you can’t really tell what they look like. If their wings didn’t make a whistling/twittering sound when they flew, you might mistake them for large bats. We heard about four or five males calling, and watched one go through two flights.

Then it was dark, and we walked back out to our cars and went home. I was surprised at how many people there were–probably 30? Most were on their first Woodcock Walk (it’s an annual event) and had never seen a woodcock before, like me. Look for more Wake Audubon adventures soon! Bwhaha, 30X30, I’ve got my eye on you!

Ok.

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Well, today was a good day in that I went to work, did some productive things, filed things with my own name on it at the courthouse like a real attorney, etc. Woohoo! The thing I like most about my job is that I am always busy–there is always something to do, and it’s not always the same thing. Yay!

But it looks like 10+ hour days are the norm, which is not so hot. I think that this may level out in a few months since I will be able to do more of everything (and not so slowly like I am right now) and there will be another new (new to the firm, not new to the law) attorney working there soon. If not, I am going to have to do some adjusting to my schedule.

One thing that I am going to start doing (at least a couple of days a week) is going to the gym in the morning, and going to work from there. That way, I have an energizing start to the day, and I can get to the office before everyone else and eat my breakfast (which I have already stashed there) in peace. Last week, when I went to spinning, I got up, went to class for an hour, came home, got ready for work, and still made it in by 8:30, so I have plenty of time. I think previous posts here have established that I can be a ridiculous early-bird, so this shouldn’t be too much trouble as long as I get my clothes together at night. Otherwise, it is hard to go to the Y even if I drive right by it–because I am usually too hungry to think about it.

I’ll have to think about other things that will make my schedule work better, but that is a biggie. Now, on to better things!

What are my homemade projects for this week? I pressed the fabric for my shopping bag that I’m eventually going to make, but that was as far as I got this weekend. This coming weekend, I’m going to try to pin and cut out the pattern. On the food project front, I think I will probably make banana-oat-X muffins. (Ok, I looked back at my previous post, and I know I said that I would do one food project a month, but that is seriously ridiculous! And I have a half dozen very ripe bananas on the counter.) There is a basic muffin recipe I use from the trusty BH&G cookbook, except I just add all sorts of things and adjust as necessary. Last time, I made buttermilk banana oat muffins, which are really nice–and I can just throw them in the freezer afterwards and zap one for a minute for a snack or breakfast. Easy peasy. No buttermilk right now, so I’ll probably just have banana oat muffins.

YAWN!! I’m about to load up my mp3 player, stuff some magazines in my gym bag, and check the weather for tomorrow, so I know what I can wear. Then it is off to bed for me!

Week one down

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Well, I made it through the first week as a Real Lawyer and it wasn’t half bad. I went to a calendar call this morning to watch, which was fun (ok, fun might be stretching it, but now I know what to do when it is my turn to go). I also got to do a little more work, since I answered the phones some today and wrote some letters and whatnot. And, although I volunteered to work some this weekend, I was not taken up on that offer. Woohoo! Next week, I might be on my own filing things, which is exciting and scary.

I hope all of you had a Happy Valentine’s Day yesterday! We did–Reed bought me roses earlier this week, which was a nice surprise! They’re so pretty–multi-colored ones–but we have to put them on top of the bookshelf so the kitties do not eat them. Yesterday, we made steak and baked potatoes here at home, and I made a chocolate dessert.

I picked what I thought was a decently simple recipe out of a February 02 Martha–a chocolate spice cake. I was just going to dust it with powdered sugar, but when Reed heard that the recipe called for fudge frosting, he requested that. Ok. We all know what happens when you pick a recipe out of a Martha, right? I know some of you do, and know that even imaginary cooking shows will NOT save you from yourself. It really wasn’t a horrible recipe, complexity-wise, though. Just kind of a horrible recipe. We will not be making it again–although the second day, I think it is much, much better despite the advice that it doesn’t keep well.

The cake isn’t that bad, and the frosting is marvelous (despite the fact that you have to stir it every 10 minutes for an hour and a half while it sits in an ice bath–see, this is the complexity stuff), but there is just too much ginger–a whole tablespoon of ground ginger, and raisins and cranberries that were infused with fresh ginger (another little extra step). The fruit is pretty awful in it–if I did this again, I would boil the fruit with orange zest instead of fresh ginger, and would add nuts, and would see if I could add less ginger and maybe some other spices as well. Then, when it is completely transformed, it would probably be great. Ha! But, I learned how to make ridiculously good frosting, infuse dried fruits for a cake, and what I don’t like, so it’s not that bad of an experience.

Day 3

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Ok, it is seriously ridiculous how much I enjoy my new job. I know, technically, I’m not doing a lot of useful work yet, and when I start having some solo responsibility I may have some freak-out moments–BUT, at this point, it is all good. (I have billed an hour or two this week, so I am not completely useless.) Mostly it is that the people there are really, really nice and helpful and want me to know how to do everything and have no interest in playing sink or swim (with their practice, of course). I spent about 11 hours there again today, which is the only down side–but the time flies.

No Y today, though! I had my gym bag, which stupidly did not contain shoes. Grr. But that’s ok, I need to put some more podcasts in my player. Also, I know that it is not going to hurt me to skip a day or two. I have been thinking about my fitness challenge–in the past, I have tracked my weight and measurements and that has worked out really well, but I’m going to make a change. I’m just going to forget about that, because it shouldn’t matter. I should go to spinning class, and learn how to use the machines, and be active because it is the right thing to do to stay healthy. With that in mind, I’m just going to go and have fun playing at the Y and trying new things out. I will probably track any strength training and/or distances, but that’s because of the progression of the activity and that is fun to see. Hopefully the by-product will be that I can wear a few of my clothes I’ve outgrown before it gets too warm to wear them–but if not, I will have had fun doing it.

Anywho, I went to the Audubon meeting last night at the natural history museum downtown, and it was interesting. The talk was about shorebirds, and the speaker was a biologist from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. The hilarious thing was that the talk was about surveys of NC Colonial Nesting Shorebirds, and for the very first part of the talk, I was thinking, “What historic colonial sites are these birds associated with?” I am SO glad that I didn’t follow the No Stupid Questions Rule, because a few minutes into the talk I realized that colonial did not refer to the colonial era, but to the fact that the birds nest in colonies. This supports my hate of marine shorebirds–their tricksy way with adjectives.

(Ok, so I don’t hate all marine shorebirds. In fact, there is nothing quite as cute as baby shorebirds that are camouflaged to look like sand and pebbles on the beach, especially on their little bendy, reedy legs. Then they grow up to all look alike and fly around out of my binoculars’ range and be impossible for me to identify–either that or every time I go to the coast, I discover new species.)

What I found most interesting is the use of man-made habitats for these birds’ nesting areas. Most of the time, human’s little developing, buildy ways are responsible for gobbling up other species’ habitats with abandon–habitat destruction and degradation is responsible for the loss of many species. And this is pretty much true. But some species use humans and their buildy ways to their advantage–which isn’t all that surprising, since it isn’t as if non-humans are pawns to be acted upon with absolutely no reaction or adaptation.

Some of the colonial nesting shorebirds nest directly on the sand or gravel at beaches, and you can probably imagine why this is a problem for human-bird interaction and sustainability. What I found really interesting is that dredge islands that the Army Corps has made from dredging the inlets are being used as productive nesting areas for these birds. In fact, something like 20 of these islands are being managed for this purpose. They make good habitat because they are remote from people and most mammalian predators, plus they provide a LOT of space for the birds. Because these birds are colonial nesters, they nest in really large groups and have evolved to need large numbers for safety and survival of their young. Colonial animals just don’t thrive without large numbers of their own kind–which is a problem when their populations fall dramatically.

Besides these dredge islands, Least Terns have taken to nesting on the gravel roofs of department and grocery stores. One of the largest populations of these birds surveyed by the group recently was on the top of the Food Lion in a coastal town. Makes sense for the birds! The problem is that the roofing industry is apparently moving away from this technique (some kind of hurricane liability issue?), and store managers aren’t fond of the birds up there (and their, um, related poo issues). This will likely be a huge problem, since in states like Florida and South Carolina, these birds nest no where else but on gravel roofs. They don’t have a natural area to return to if this happens.

And on that depressing note, I have to go make my lunch and go to bed. But, wouldn’t it be really cool to get to climb up on top of a Food Lion and find a bunch of birds and their nests? Where do I sign up?

Day 1

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Today was my first Real Lawyer day! And it was pretty great–I think I will really enjoy it as time goes by. I got there a little before 8 this morning, and left at…about 7. I was the first one there, and the first to leave–but I had a really great day! The best part was getting a mini-tour of the courthouse–we went to the clerk of court’s office and some of the offices associated with family court. Nothing too strenuous, and my office is gloriously beautiful (although I will have to share it eventually).

So, you think I didn’t go to the Y after all that, did you? Who in their right mind would? Well, let me tell you, that is a question that suits me. Not only did I go, I signed myself up for a spinning class tomorrow. At 6am. Bwhaha. Tonight, I just walked and jogged on the track (12/15 laps, 15 = 1 mile), and spent 10 minutes on the elliptical. OMG. I am so out of shape–the second time I checked my heartrate it was 196, and I decided from then on, ignorance was bliss. I said I would stay for 30 minutes, and I did.

Anywho, after that, I came home and made dinner and started our evening chores. I made us a chore chart for the fridge, so we don’t end up with no clean dishes, clothes, or food and our cats don’t get taken away from us by the kitty cat social services! I hope it will work out ok.

Now that I’ve updated all of you in blogland, I have to go pack my gym bag, iron my clothes, and (most importantly) go to bed!!

News!

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News, news, little monkey news.

1.) I am no longer a podperson! Which I miss already, sort of. But, I will start a real job on Monday!! At first, I was a teensy bit ambivalent about this opportunity, but as the day gets closer, I am getting more and more excited about it. I’m going to learn all sorts of new things!

2.) I joined the Y today! Woohoo! I desperately need a fitness challenge, and I’m really being held back by not having a place that is comfortable for me to go when it is dark or cold or rainy. I have been reluctant to join a gym when I could just walk out my front door and walk or run or ride my bike and use the bits and pieces of fitnessy things I already own. However, that is clearly not working. The Y is between home and work (on one route), so I won’t feel as if I am going out of my way and wasting gas–which is important to me–and it has lots of spinning classes! Also, it is newly renovated–they are still building the pool and racquetball courts–and it has a very Ramsey-feel that is comforting. This week I’m going to focus on going after work every day–either to a class or just to use a machine. Next weekend, I’m going to try to get the whole orientation to the machines and everything! The funny thing is how strange it is to see the variety of people there–people my age, and older, teenagers, and little children. It’s a very community feel. I like!

3.) If you’re one of those home-cooking, local agriculture, making from scratch, handmade loons, like myself, you’ve probably heard of CSA’s. CSA stands for community supported agriculture–people buy shares of the harvest and get fresh produce every week or so from a local farm. It’s a good way to support local farmers, and is often organic. When we get our budget worked out, buying a share in a CSA is near the top of my list. Anywho, I recently learned of a local CSP–community supported pie! A local baker is selling shares in her pie business–for $60 a month, you get either 3 small or 1 large pie a week, and they are sweet or savory. Sounds like a fun business!

4.) Too many people are making things from scratch! I love it–but I feel so left out! I’m going to find a great chocolate dessert to make for Valentine’s, though, and I washed my fabric for my homemade cloth shopping bag tonight. Maybe I will get it dried and pressed this weekend, and next weekend I can cut it out. If I am lucky, I will be able to finish it next weekend, but it’s ok if it becomes a February project. I think I like this–I should have a project a month–one food and one fabric/yarn.

And I have to admit that I have lost my inspiration to post about the Science Blogging Conference! I will try to work in posts about what I’ve learned, but I lost some momentum and then I didn’t want to write new posts before I wrote that one…you know how that goes, right? Anywho, I am putting that aside for the moment and moving along.

That’s my news! My blog goal is to post every week, so we will see how it goes. Hope you are all doing well! Check in and let me know! I am also taking suggestions for projects and adventures!

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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