Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bird Nests Flooded Out

For the second time this year our road to town is under water. The surrounding fields are flooded, most of them unseeded as well. Too much rain. Not even drying time. But we're not the only ones affected.

A week ago as I walked along the driveway, small birds flew up out of the grass. It got to be where I knew where their nests were. But this morning as I surveyed the water surrounding our farm, I realized the nests were about a foot down and the momma birds were nowhere insight.

Which got me thinking about an American coot couple (yes, that's a coot couple and not a cute couple, although they are cute). A pair of coots took up residence close to the corner where the driveway passes the shelterbelt. How had they fared with the flood situation?

Apr 25 - Height of the Spring Flood

May 6

May 7 - First sight of migration and nest building as waters decrease 

May 13 - Black dot is Coot looking for nest material

June 1 - Coot nest above water, below top of old Bullrushes

June 4 - Coot nest hidden amongst last year's bullrushes 

June 6 - Last years bullrushes have broken off and their litter shows the high water line 

June 22 - Recent downpours have filled the field and water covers the road.

June 22 - The nest has risen to the height of the bullrushes although I don't know how the coots do it. Only 3 nests are visible in the whole slough and all of them are American coots. 

I don't know how other nests have fared, but Nelson saw one duck with a tiny duckling trailing behind earlier today so I'm hoping the nests were hidden and spared.

Meanwhile, our basement is still flooding. Our dehumidifier broke down  - it was over 20 yrs old - and there's a shortage of them in the city due to all the flooded basements.

And yet, we're much better off than so many others. I heard on the TV tonight that the good folks down in Minot, ND will have to raise their dikes 8 feet to contain the Souris River. Eight feet!!! That's the height of a normal room. And then there's all the flooding in Manitoba. Och!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review: To Win Her Heart

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer, Bethany House, May 2011

Karen Witemeyer’s suburb story skills shine in this second-chances tale that caught my attention at the first paragraph and kept me enthralled until the very end. Little details on every page gripped my heart and drew me into the lives of a man seeking a new life and a woman trying to shed her old one. I agonized between writing my own story and reading To Win Her Heart which I kept close so I could snatch a peek at every chance.

I believe Karen Witemeyer reached new heights with her choice of strong, yet vulnerable characters - social opposites who believe past errors have ruined their chance for a family of their own.

Eden Spencer is only in her late twenties, but in 1887 she’s considered a spinster. She lives with a small staff - people who’ve known her forever, and opens her personal library to the town. Church, good works for orphans and reading at her weekly children’s story hour fills her with joy, but it’s not enough to satisfy the emptiness for babies of her own. She needs a husband for that, except her mistrust in men is almost as strong as her need to keep her reputation spotless.

Levi Grant is a huge blacksmith who’s been in prison for accidently killing a man in a boxing match. Newly released, he heads to Spencer, Texas where the local preacher is the only one who knows his past, but is keeping it a secret because the town is desperate for a smithy. All Levi wants is to wrap himself in his new-found faith and do his ironwork without bringing attention to himself.

Two people from different social circles, neither needing a hint of scandal, yet they share a love of books. Never mind that Levi looks out-of-place in Eden’s library. It’s what’s inside him that counts. And here's where it gets interesting because Karen Witemeyer has given Levi a character trait he’s ashamed to show in public. As a child faced with ridicule, Levi fought back the only way he knew how - with his fists. And now that he’s out of prison, he’s sworn off fighting and has found a way to overcome his ‘defect’. Or has he? Perhaps it’s just hidden and waiting for an inopportune moment to make itself known. How I empathized with Levi because every day was a struggle of suppression, especially when he met Eden and his guarded emotions slipped away and revealed the real Levi Grant.

By that time I’d accepted him as a strong, yet vulnerable hero. I knew him. I knew his regrets. I knew he was an honorable man intent only on following God’s path. I knew his heart. And I was ready to do battle for him if he wasn’t going to defend himself.

Eden thinks she’s falling in love with a peaceful, reputable man. A pacifist who won’t allow herself to be linked with anyone with a hint of dishonesty or violence to their name, she’d rather live alone than let another man make a fool of her. If she isn’t careful, she’ll be the fool for not seeing Levi as God’s gift to her.

I hope you can tell home much I loved this book. The morning after I finished reading it, I awoke with Levi and Eden on my mind – and they stayed with me throughout the day and week. Truly a wonderful, heart-touching story with tears and laughter and finally, relief that yes, there is a happy ending after all. But oh, what a beautiful romantic tale of God’s hand on their lives.

If you'd like to know more about Karen Witemeyer and her books, go to her website at and take a look around. You might even want to try your hand at her Fan Fiction contest where you get to let her know how you think a book should end.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Railway Meals at the Inkwell

It's history day at the Inkwell and I'm blogging about dining cars and meals on the old Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) back in 1888.

I've included a the modern VIA Rail video to show train interiors and the Canadian landscape.

The questions for discussion are: Have you ever eaten on a train? When and where? What did you think?

Today's photo is a bison cow and calf. As you can see, momma is shedding her winter coat to stay cooler during our short summer.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cedar Waxwings and The Inkwell

I'm blogging over at Inkwell Inspirations today with a book review on Karen Witemeyer's book To Win Her Heart. I'm giving this historical romance a 5 star rating because of it's such a great story I had a hard time putting it down. Come over and join our discussion if you get a chance.

I wanted to give you another look at the Cedar Waxwing that's hanging around our crabapple trees. Actually, there are a couple of them, but this is the one I caught in action. I thought they were going after the nectar. Apparently, it's the blossoms they like.

While I was out taking pics of the Waxwings, other birds caught my eye which I hadn't seen since last year. These included an American Goldfinch, Baltimore Oriole and a Hummingbird. They all flitted about so fast I didn't get a chance to zoom in close, but I'll try again tomorrow.

Hopefully I'll see you over at the Inkwell. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Apple Blossoms, Finally!

With summer offically a couple weeks away, we finally have blossoms on our crabapple trees. They started a couple days ago and overnight, the trees burst into an explosion of blossoms. I can't remember the name of this bird, but I found it eating the blossoms with gusto. (see bottom of post for update)

We've had 2 days that could be considered hot - 28C/86F. The rest of the days have been cold and rainy, windy and cold, or rainy and windy.

Soon, the lilacs will bloom and their heady scent will drift in through our open windows - that's if it's warm enough to open them. I had them open for 2 hrs today but had to shut them so the furnace wouldn't click on.

I've been reading up on the photography for websites and it seems the photos chosen most are those with only a partial image and lots of open space for text. I hadn't thought of it before, but these are the types of photos that can be used to make greeting cards. And with the addition of a Bible verse, you have a nice scripture card or even wallpaper for your computer.

Well, I suppose if it's for the computer it would look better sideways, but you get the idea.

When I went for yesterday's walk, I saw what I thought was a piece of dock jutting up above the grass. But dock isn't that big yet around here. As I moved closer, I clicked on my camera and zoomed in. It was an American Bittern and it just stood there with its beak in the air. Another few steps and it moved a few feet away. I slowly moved closer, snapping pics until it flew behind the wolf willows. This is the closest shot I was able to get with any clarity. I didn't see it after that.

And here's a photo of what the pasture looks like when the water is drained as it usually is by June. But with the latest rain, the rocks have disappeared again for the 3rd time this year. If you look closely at the fence post on the far left you can see the spring runoff reached within inches of the top. No wonder the road was a foot under water.

Your turn... were your blossoms on schedule this year? Ours are about 4 weeks behind where they should be.

***News update... Over on my blog at the Harlequin forum, author Donna Alward has identified this bird as a Cedar Waxwing.

Donna said, 'I think that bird is a cedar waxwing. It is hard to tell without seeing the rest of its plumage, but I *think* the bohemian waxwing doesn't have the yellow on its breast like a cedar. Both are found on the prairies, though. :-)'

And as someone who used to live in Alberta, Donna would know. I've checked 2 bird identification books and confirmed that the bird in the top photo is indeed a Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum. Thank you, Donna. I appreciate you piping up. :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Duck Draw at the Inkwell

I have a free book draw and a whole bunch of my duck, crane, avocet and sandpiper photos over at Inkwell Inspirations today.

Not much talking, just photos of birds. It's self-help day so I figured I'd give everyone a few minutes of just looking at pics. :)

Here's a teaser for you...

So grab a cup of coffee, tea, latte, etc, sit back, and watch the pictures. :)

My question for today is... did you actually just sit and watch, or were you multi-tasking at the same time?

And here's a video I made about these birds:

Free Book Draw: And for a little something extra, I need your opinion and I'm giving away a new copy of Marilyn Meberg's Love Me Never Leave Me (non-fiction) for helping me decide.

If you wish to be entered for this draw, please leave your email address in your comment over at the Inkwell only. (Comments left here can't be in this draw). Draw closes midnight, Sunday, June 5th, 2011.

I'm trying to decide the default puzzle program for my blog and new website. The choice is between these two although the size here is not indicative of the finished puzzle as they're both the same as you see above.

- Jigsaw Planet where you click to the puzzle, make it, then click back to the site. To see/make these puzzles, please go to:

- Jigzone where you make it right on the spot, but also have the ability to change the number and shape of the pieces:

Let me know what you think, okay?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It Can't Be June!

I've been remiss! On Tuesday I blogged at the Inkwell about a fascinating 19th century Mission Coffee House which served the area near Blackwell's Island in Yew York and I forgot to mention it here. Eeps!

Blackwell's Island sits between Manhattan and Queen's.

It's now known as Roosevelt Island.


Opened in 1856, a smallpox hospital on the southern tip of Blackwell's Island was part of a multitude of public institutions to care for New York City's unfortunate and destitute.

This 2002 photo shows the roofless Renwick Ruins. There are trees growing inside as well as around the abandoned hospital.


An ongoing restoration and stabilization effort is in place. Here, the stones of the former smallpox hospital on Roosevelt Island are being removed and numbered.  The building will be put back together again at a later date.

It seems the restoration of the Renwick smallpox hospital is a mystery at the moment. A high fence has been placed across the south point of Roosevelt Island and signage advise it's because of heavy equipment used while Southpoint Park and the FDR memorial are under construction. All historic tours to the Renwick Small Pox Hospital Ruins have been discontinued and no one knows when construction will be complete. I considered taking New York's only tram and visiting Roosevelt Island while there at the end of June, but if I can't even photograph the ruins, I'll probably head over to the Statue of Liberty or something.

Meanwhile last week here at home, the prairie finally dried up enough for the farmers to start the planting season. But then it started raining again and now the water is almost as high as when we had the spring flood. Check this photo out and see how the water is trying to cross the road again:

But as you see, Wed was sunny and warm so the prairie will start drying out - again. It sure is nice to see green grass and leaves once more.

If you had a chance to go to New York City and could only go to one 'tourist attraction', which one would it be?
Photo Credits: