How I Discovered the Pileated Woodpecker

It all started this past week when I discovered damage to the mirror on the passenger side of my car. It looked like someone had either come along and punched it or shot at it with a BB gun. We have a couple of kids in my neighborhood that I suspected of causing the damage, but I never said anything to their parents.  As much as it irked me, I let it go.

I am glad that I didn’t say anything because a few days later, I discovered that no one was responsible for the damage to my mirror. At least not a human being. The culprit was actually surprising.

This is the damage to my mirror. It’s cracked pretty good and even missing pieces. What was more impressive is that the mirror itself was pushed in and down and I had to readjust it back it its original position.

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I am a member of an app called Next Door. Next door is a social networking tool that connects you with people from your own neighborhood. There are several categories or topics to chose from.  Of these many topics, one of them is “Crime”.

I saw a post made by a neighbor about vandalism to his vehicle. He posted a photograph of his own side mirror that had been damaged and he wanted to know if anyone else had their vehicles vandalized.  The damage to his mirror looked very similar to mine.

Someone else piped up and said that they had witnessed a Pileated Woodpecker attacking its own image in the side mirror of their truck. They went outside and chased it away but it was too late, they too had damage.  They explained that the birds were aggressive towards other males during mating season, which was now. The bird believed it was fighting another male.

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The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker that lives in our area of northern Indiana. They measure roughly 16  inches from head to tail and have a wingspan of almost 29 inches. They are usually recognized by the flaming red crest on their head. The Pileated Woodpecker is the second largest woodpecker in North America, second to the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which is nearly extinct.

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker species is listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The American Birding Association lists the Ivory Billed Woodpecker as a class 6 species, a category it defines as “definitely or probably extinct”

I’m an optimist.

As the day went on more and more neighbors were popping in with their own experience. They had either seen the bird or had damage to their own vehicle too.  Neighbors in the know suggested putting grocery bags over the mirrors or fold them in to avoid attacks.

Later in the week, the St. Joseph County Parks had posted a photo to their Facebook of a tree that had been pecked pretty good by a Pileated Woodpecker. They explained that they will excavate deep into the wood of dead trees to eat nests of carpenter ants.

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Photo courtesy of Audubon.com

Quite honestly, as much as I love nature, animals and the outdoors, I had never paid much attention to the woodpeckers and the  different varieties. What an interesting way for me to discover them.

While I haven’t been lucky enough to actually see the one that’s terrorizing local vehicle owners, I have heard him. He’s been hanging out somewhere nearby as I’ve heard him several times in the mornings.

They really are beautiful. To learn more about the Pileated Woodpecker, visit Adubon.com

 

The Dausman Ditch Farm Bridge

In my post about the Northern Indiana Floods, I mentioned the wooden bridge over the Dausman ditch. This bridge is located on the property that belongs to my friend Chalisa’s family.  I often take my horse, Belle, down the lane and across the bridge to ride the trails in the woods and the edges of the fields.

This was the bridge during the flood. As you can see the ditch spilled over into the back fields.  It was an incredible sight to see. This is significant for our area.

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The water came up and over the bridge for several days. Chalisa’s father and brother made attempts to save it by reinforcing the structure the best that they could. Their efforts paid off because the ditch crested and the water slowly receded.  The bridge still stands.

This past week, Belle and I took a walk down the road and down the lane to the bridge and the back fields. It was a gloomy gray and misty morning but warmer than it had been. It felt good to get outside and enjoy some quiet time.

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I can’t explain what’s so great about this bridge. It just is.

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The wooden bridge over Dausman Ditch- March 28, 2018

 

The ditch is back to the usual water level. Thankfully.  I hope we don’t have to deal with this again any time soon.

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Nothern Indiana Flood 2018

Yes, I am still alive. I have started several entries this way over the past 2 years since I began blogging here. A lot has happened since the start of the year.  The next few posts are likely to be things that already happened that I want to write about.

I will begin with the flooding in Northern Indiana that we experienced in mid February.

In three days, we received 7 inches of rain that fell on top of approximately 2 feet of packed snow.  The snow was already melting from unseasonably warm weather that we got to enjoy for a couple of days before it began to rain.

Below is a photograph of my house approximately two days before the warm up. I took this photo because I was complaining  discussing how I was clearing snow from the street so I could park and the neighbor kept stealing my space.

 

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This was the scene a few days before the warm up and the rain started. Reports stated that the rainfall would have equaled almost 60 inches of snow.

 

The mayor of south Bend, Pete Buttigieg, referred to the event as our 500 year flood.

“When we talk about flooding in an area we don’t have 500 or 1,000 years of records,” said David Call, an associate professor of meteorology at Ball State University in Muncie. “We extrapolate out, we graph it out based on the data we do have. When people say a 500-year flood, it’s what we would expect the magnitude of flooding to be once every 500 years.”

If you have been following me on social media, you have seen my numerous photographs of the St. Joseph River. I love the St. Joe. I live a couple of blocks away and I often hike along it, kayak and of course, photograph it.  The river is a huge part of our community.

I have never seen the St. Joseph River that high or the flooding that it caused. I have also never seen the local ditches spill over the way that they did. It was incredible for our area. A lot of people lost their homes and businesses.  Roads collapsed or washed out, bridges were swept away.  Schools were closed for several day and shelters were created in additions to the locations that were already available.

In addition to the St. Joseph River, I also frequent the area of the Dausman Ditch, located near Bremen, Indiana. I often take my horse down the lane and cross the ditch to ride a trail and along the fences and fields that belong to my friend Chalisa and her family.  There is a wooden bridge they use to cross their equipment to get to the back fields.

The water threatened the bridge but they were able to save it.  If you’re following me on social media, you’ve seen photographs of this bridge several times.  It’s a plan wooden bridge but for whatever reason, I am enamored with it.

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The bridge over the Dausman Ditch. I am amazed that it’s still there!!

Professionally, we handled numerous water rescues from homes and vehicles. It was bad enough that everyone was out of barricades and signs. Marshall County, Indiana was in a state of emergency.  One of my close friends is an officer there and told me that one of the most frustrating things that he was forced to deal with was figuring out how to get to the people that needed help either because he couldn’t get to them or couldn’t get to them without serious risk of getting himself killed in the process.

I am begging you to NOT drive your vehicles through high water. It never looks as deep as it really is. You’re going to stall your motor and become stranded. You can also get swept away.  Not only does this put yourself into a bad situation but you’re also putting the responders into a bad position when we have to come and save you.

If there is a barricade or a road closed sign set up that means that the road is closed. It means that it is closed for you, regardless of who you think you are or where you think you need to go.  It’s closed for a reason.  Turn around and find another way to reach your destination.

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Near Wyatt, Indiana- Someone spray painted “road closed” on this van. This was approx 3 days after the rain stopped.

 

The first morning that the water was really high and covering the roads, I had to get really creative to make my destination and at one point, I was going to simply cancel my reasons for travel. It’s not worth putting yourself at risk.

Below is a small gallery of photo’s from our area. I did my best to add captions since the locations are from different areas with different sources of water.  I wasn’t able to get very many because I didn’t go near the affected areas since the roads were closed.  I took the majority of the photo’s and noted which ones I didn’t.

 

Happy New Year!

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Let’s get this party started…

 

For the first time in a long time, I stayed home on New Year’s Eve.

I worked my regular shift at work, picked up my kiddo from his grandmother’s house, and drove straight home.  The weather has been bad for the past week or longer. We’ve gotten a lot of snow, high winds and very cold temperatures.  The idea of going out simply wasn’t appealing.  The roads were bad and there would likely be drunk drivers everywhere.  Not a good mix.

It wasn’t just the weather that kept me home.  It was the burning desire to have some peace in my world as the clock ticked away and then moved us into the new year. I just wanted to be alone in my quiet house with my child safe in his bed and my dog at my feet.

I put on some comfortable clothes, grabbed a bottle of sparkling grape juice, a wine glass ( because I am fancy) and some snacks. I settled in on my couch to watch Atomic Blonde on DVD.  I also enjoyed my Christmas tree and decorations. I felt like I barely got a chance to even notice them this year.

The moment that the clock struck midnight, my phone blew up with HAPPY NEW YEAR texts and the world outside my window exploded in gunshots and fireworks.  I wasn’t lonely since my friends remembered me and the stupidity outside my window was still keeping me employed.

2017 wasn’t a bad year for me. A lot of people claimed that it was one of the hardest years of their lives. While mine certainly wasn’t perfect, there were a lot of changes and transitions that needed to happen. My acceptance of these facts made the sadness and the pain a bit easier to manage. I simply had to move on. So I am.

I am looking forward to 2018 and I am embracing life now, more than I have in a really long time. I like the direction that my life seems to be going. The unknown is always scary but it can also be exciting. It just depends on the way you choose to look at it.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to 2018!

 

7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge

A lot of my friends were tagging each other on Facebook to encourage them to participate in the “7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge”.  The idea was to post a random black and white photo to their Facebook timeline every day for seven days. The catch was that it couldn’t include people or an explanation as to what the photo was about.

Quite a few people were annoyed by it and ignored the challenge. When a friend finally included me, I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get started. My inner photography nerd was beating its chest and rearing to go.

I’m a big liar. I took my seven photographs but they were hardly random. I already knew what I wanted to capture and share to my Facebook. Then I spent probably fifteen minutes on each photo carefully crafting the right shades of black and white in Photoshop Express on my iPhone.

I blame it on that inner photography nerd that was beating its chest. It was a total out of body experience and I have no control over that guy or gal. Whatever that inner photography nerd identifies with. Believe me, I just rolled my eyes as hard as you did.

The challenge is still active on social media. If you get tagged to participate, I hope that you’ll embrace the idea and take part. I thought it was a lot of fun.  If you’re friends are lame and won’t tag you or are ignoring the challenge, then I challenge you.

My submissions are below. They are set to appear in random order so they are not in order.  I didn’t add any explanations but I will gladly explain if anyone has a question in the comments.

I’m considering having prints made.  *looks away*

 

 

 

 

 

First And Final Camping Trip 2017

This year was incredibly busy and it seemed like my days never matched up to give me an opportunity to get out and camp and hike as often as I would like. Last year, by July, I had already gone camping 6 times. I hiked more often than that.

Sometimes in life, you have to take what you can get.

I completely understand the bumper sticker that reads “A bad day fishing beats a good day at work”.

A bad weekend camping also pretty much beats a good day anywhere else. Even if it’s cold and raining half the time and you have to will yourself to be there because it beats anything else that you have going on.

We tried. That’s all I can say.

I’ve known my friend, Chalisa since childhood. We are both equine enthusiasts, her a little bit more than me these days. We started planning about three weeks in advance to go camping for the weekend and to take the horses with us.

 

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Chalisa and I

 

Who plans a camping trip on Friday the 13th? We do. I was in charge of picking up the groceries for our dinners. I couldn’t resist buying a large package of chicken that retailed at $6.66. I dubbed this “The Devil’s Chicken” and claimed to everyone that I was using reverse psychology on the universe to avoid our pending murders at the state park.

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I’m known for my weirdness.

As only Murphy’s Law would have it, it was gorgeous all week up to the day of the trip and then the rain was to move in. Not just a little rain, but thunder and lightning on top of heavy downpours. And wind. We can’t forget the wind.

We weren’t going to let that stop us though!

I was finally able to make it to the campsite in the horseman’s campground at Potato Creek State Park. Chalisa was already there getting the horses settled in and our campsite squared away. She likes to stay in her trailer while I prefer the confines of my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent. It’s glorious.

Since we knew that the rain was coming, we set up a canopy over the picnic table.  We enjoyed some drinks and laughs while we caught up with our lives and gossip. There’s always plenty to talk about.

We were both exhausted from our day and turned in. We were blessed with a pack of coyotes calling very close to the campground. It was eerie and fantastic all at the same time.

We were up early and enjoyed a breakfast made up of coffee,  bacon, sausage, eggs and fried Honey Crisp apples.  The rain seemed to hold off a little while to allow the sun to peek through the clouds.  It was short lived.

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We didn’t waste a lot of time getting our horses saddled up so we could head out.   We got about 4 hours of riding in before the thunder and lightning arrived and we had to get off of the trail. It was even nice to just hang out in my tent and read a book.

It was about suppertime and we were contemplating if we were going to let the weather win or if we were going to stick it out all night in hopes that the morning might deliver some better news.

The radar told us that cold, wind and rain would be what we would have to look forward to. Other campers were already loading up and heading home.  I joked that they were quitters knowing that we would likely also be quitters before the night was over.

We decided to at least make our Devil’s Chicken for dinner before making the call to go or stay.  I wrapped our chicken quarters in the aluminum foil along with the other ingredients and placed them into the Dutch Oven.I had never used a Dutch Oven before and I was impressed by it. I didn’t think it would heat up as quickly or as hot as it did.

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We enjoyed our dinner and the conversation.  At about 7 o’clock when the rain and wind was picking up we decided to go ahead and call it and head home. The majority of the people that had managed to last the day were now starting to pack up and head out.

We were disappointed but at least we got to go out for a bit and enjoy our time together and with the horses. Just that one night and the day spent out on the trail was enough to recharge the batteries a little bit.

I’d do it again.

In other news. I hung my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent up to dry with a fan blowing on it.  It took almost 3 hours to completely dry. That’s how soaked everything was.  I also managed to drop my wifi hotspot on the ground at the campsite. I went back the next morning and found it buried under some leaves.  I was amazed when I discovered that it still worked. I dried it out and I am using it as my primary internet connection as I type this post.

Good times. Ain’t we lucky we got em?

 

Skunk! Lu Gets Sprayed

In case you weren’t aware, skunks literally live everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

Even in the city.

About three years ago, I was enjoying an evening outside in one of my Adirondack chairs in the front yard. I was sitting in the dark just enjoying the weather when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.

I sat in silent horror as the biggest skunk I had ever seen in my life, waddled across the yard in front of me. I do not know if it knew that I was there. I would assume that it did, but I did not introduce myself.

I tried to stay perfectly still, and not breathe, as I watched the skunk sniff around at the bushes before it made its way across the yard and then disappear into the night.  I was mildly horrified, but at least I pulled through unscathed.

Dingo Lu was not so lucky.

Recently, I got home from work late and let her out to poddy. I went upstairs to change my clothes and the skunk odor came through the bathroom window and into my bedroom. My heart sank because I just knew that Lu had been sprayed.

I rushed downstairs and confirmed the hunch as I slid open the patio door and in came a very sorry little Australian Cattle Dog. She was immediately ushered back outside.  Poor Lu took a direct hit to her face. Her eyes were watering and I have never seen a dog drool like that.

It was as awful as it sounds.

Skunk funk, as I have come to call it, doesn’t smell like you think it would either. It’s more of a burning tires and hot piss kind of smell.  Or, if you’ve ever walked into a Starbucks.  It’s terrible.

I quickly took to the internet to find a real remedy vs what I have heard through the channels of Old Wivers tales.  Who has the time  to mess around in this situation?  Not I. I quickly made a list of necessary supplies and sped to Wal Mart.  Thank God for 24 hour super centers.

I obtained everything that I needed for the task at hand. Then I sat in my car in the parking lot and ate an ice cream bar while contemplating running away from home. No really.  I was at least mentally preparing for the endeavor.  The process was as awful as you imagine. It was also cold and raining and I had to do all of this outside because there was no way I was putting her in the car to take her to the dog wash across town.

In the end, I got it done.  The method I used worked.  I will share this with you below in the event that you end up in this situation yourself. .

Skunk funk. What is it?

Skunks have two glands; one on each side of the anus. These glands produce the skunk’s spray, which is a mixture of sulfer-containing chemicals such as thiols (traditionally called mercaptans), which have an offensive and nauseating odors. I can attest to this.  A skunk’s spray is powerful enough to ward off bears and other potential attackers, like little nosy cattle dogs.

It’s important to know that the chemical spray from a skunk is oily and you will also want to take care to avoid getting it on your hands and clothing. Don’t worry if you do, I have a tried and true method to remove the smell from your pet and from yourself.

You will need:

  1. Rubber gloves that come up to your elbows.  You can find these next to the cleaning supplies at the store.  Trust me on the gloves. Buy the gloves.
  2. Depending on the size of your animal you will at least want to start out with two medium size boxes of baking soda.  I used Arm & Hammer.
  3. Hydrogen Peroxide
  4. Dawn dishsoap
  5.  A large bowl
  6. Water
  7. Oatmeal Shampoo

 

In the bowl mix the following:

1 box of baking soda

1 quart of 3 % Hydrogen Peroxide

2 tablespoons of Dawn Dishsoap

Mix these ingredients together to create a paste.

Wet your animal in warm water. Then apply the mixture to the entire body, be careful around their eyes. Let the paste sit on the hair coat for 10 minutes. Rinse.  Then do the process again.

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Lu soaking in her paste. Poor unhappy Dingo!

I did this three times. It got most of the odor out. Her face was still a bit stinky.   I then used the oatmeal shampoo to soothe her skin and it helped to have a little bit of extra fragrance.

While this method cleared up 99.9% of the odor, there was still a faint odor. I noticed it more when she was wet or if I got really close to her face.  I decided to see if there was anything else that I could try.

I did some research and reached out to friends who all recommended that I follow up with a product called Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Remover.  You can find this product at PetsMart.  I got the big bottle that retailed at $19.99. It’s lavender scented.

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I gave Lu another bath using this product and it was highly effective. It smelled really good.  I poured the product into a large bowl and then soaked the collar she was wearing at the time of the incident, the collar she used when I gave her the baths, and also the leash that I used to hang onto her.  It worked great.

The smell has finally disappeared and life has returned to normal. Though, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little paranoid at night when I open the door to let Lu outside to do her business. I never want to go through that again.

At least I know what to do next time in the event it does. Also, my silver lining is that it happened at home and not out on the trail where I would be forced to put her into the car and transport her to get her cleaned up. I cringe at the thought!!

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I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 2017

On the morning of May 6, 2017, I traveled to Chicago to participate in the 13th annual Chicago Police Memorial Foundation Run To Remember 5k and walk.  The Run To Remember is a 5K USATF certified chip-timed 5K Run combined with a noncompetitive 5K walk sponsored by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. The event also features a junior jog, and a family friendly after party with children’s activities. You can participate as a team or as an individual.

This was my fifth year participating.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation provides assistance to the families of police officers that have been killed in the line of duty and also for the officers who have been catastrophically injured in the line of duty.  They have also assisted in the purchase of ballistic vests for officers and aid the families of officers with seriously ill children.  They have been able to offer over 8 million dollars in assistance.

You can learn more about that HERE

The event starts at the Gold Families Memorial Park that is located next to Soldier Field. Soldier Field is home to the Chicago Bears. The event goes from the park along Lakeshore Dr. and then circles around along the shore of Lake Michigan. You pass by the Shedd Aquarium and also the Field Museum of Natural History.  During the last stretch of the race you pass by photographs of some of the fallen officers. It gives me goose bumps every single time. I am honored to be a part of this.

The race ends near the memorial wall in the Gold Star Families Memorial and Park.  Participants gather for a few hours to enjoy new friendships and refreshments at the after party. It’s a lot of fun and such a worth cause.

The 2018 event takes place on Saturday, May 5.  Rain or shine.  You can find more information about how to participate or volunteer for the the Run To Remember HERE

Want to help the foundation but you’re not really into running or walking? Check out their website HERE for more information about other events or opportunities that may fit your interests. Or just consider making a donation.

Trip Around the Sun

Oh hi!

I managed to live to see 40 years old.

Hold your applause.

I was able to celebrate with Michael and Dom over a fantastic spaghetti dinner. I made the best garlic bread that I have ever wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven. It was delicious.  Michael surprised me with some thoughtful gifts that included a chocolate birthday cake with purple frosting. I like purple.

People always ask you your thoughts when you turn 40. I don’t know why. I don’t know that I am as wise or more wise than anyone else. I have some life experience, good and bad. I think I could write a memoir but it would be mostly filled with what not to do in life. I am an expert in the art of bad decisions.

I meet questions with a lot of shrugging.

I haven’t been horribly worried about my looks or getting older. I feel like my body started rejecting itself after I turned 32. That seems to be about the time that I started to crackle and pop anytime I got up from sitting too long. Aches and pains are just part of life.

I don’t know that I feel any different otherwise. It’s another age. I’m just glad that I wasn’t given black balloons or that anyone made a big deal out of it. It’s just another number. In addition to the usual aches and pains I notice that my body is different, but it doesnt’ bother me. I like myself.

In a way, when I look back, I am almost surprised that I lived to be 40. When I was younger, I used to engage in some seriously dangerous behavior. Jumping horses without saddles, breaking and training horses that were “problems” for other people, driving too fast, working in corrections, on the road as an officer, hiking alone in bear country, hiking alone in general, kayaking without a life jacket. You know, things.

I think I’ve done some pretty great things so far in my life.  I have some good stories. I took risks as a young person and had a great sense of adventure. I liked to explore and in a way I was fearless.  While I am sitting here typing all of this, it almost inspires me to go ahead and talk about the past more on the blog. I struggle sometimes when I consider content. I shouldn’t but I do. I want to inspire other people in life.

Anyway, I made it to 40. Here’s to another 40 years!

What about you?  Did you feel different at 40 or after? What was different?

Last Of the Fall

We had an impressive rain fall last evening and the wind rattled the windows on the house until well after midnight.  At some point, during the night, we lost power. I noticed the clock on the stove flashing this morning. 

 I went outside this morning to find the temperature to be fairly warm and inviting. I noticed that nearly all of the trees were bare. The leaves are completely gone from the Maple tree in the front yard. I boast that I have the prettiest trees on the block.  I’ll miss them until the spring.

I made the most of the weather this morning and took what will likely be the last colorful stroll along the riverwalk. I snapped a couple of photo’s that I wanted to share with you. Gorgeous morning. 

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday. 

It’s almost December. Can you believe it?