Archive | January, 2009

Please sign the petition for Acorn Woodpecker

31 Jan

I signed the petition “Stop The Acorn Woodpecker killing at Rossmoor.” I’m asking you to sign this petition to help us reach our goal of 1,000 signatures. I care deeply about this cause, and I hope you will support our efforts.

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpeckers are lovely, social, creatures. They take acorns from oak trees and store them in granaries in the trunks of softer wood trees like pines. Sometimes they will decide that a house is a good storage place . . . that’s a problem. There has to be a better choice than slaughter, though.

Enjoying the clear blue sky

29 Jan

Dark-Eyed Junco

Cheerful, friendly souls
A flash of white as they fly
As they fly and hide

© 2009, Liza Lee Miller.  All rights reserved.

For more blue skies, visit Skywatch® Friday.  Enjoy!

Playing with a new toy

29 Jan

Ruby's Face

I am a serious, life-long Mac user. I bought my first Mac computer when I was in college. Back when Mac was starting out, you could go to the computer store and “test drive” one for a few days. I was sold and it paid off, too. My senior year in college, I took the most units I’d ever attempted and made Dean’s List for the first time ever as well. So, yeah, that’s pretty awesome stuff there in that box. Loved it. My computing life has been filled with a series of Macs ever since. And most everyone I know is touched by this love of the Mac. It’s good stuff.

So, it should be no surprise to know that I use iPhoto for most of my photo storage, organization (ha!), and even photo editing. I love me some iPhoto. iPhoto is part of a suite of applications called iLife. And a new version was just released. iLife ’09. I ordered it up based solely one ONE feature.

iPhoto recognizes faces in your photos and helps you to organize them. Hot diggity dog!

So, when it came on Tuesday, I wasted no time installing it and starting to play. But, it had to go through all my pics and catalog them a process which took — according to iPhoto more than 600 minutes. I left it running while I was at work yesterday. Yes, I did.

So, last night I was playing. Going through pics and telling iPhoto who each face was. It then makes a catalog of the faces and suggests other pictures that might have that face in it. Once it gets a baseline on each person, it starts to suggest on each picture “Is this Ruth?” Sometimes it’s right. Sometimes it’s off. But, it’s fun, that’s for sure!

As I was doing this, I’d run into a photo or 10 of Ruby and wonder . . . hmmmmm.

My husband, meanwhile, was playing with other parts of the software (we bought a Family Pack) and sent me an article with 20 helpful hints [click] on using iLife ’09.  The authors were able to get their computer to recognize their cats’ faces.  Game on.

So, I’m working on the computer recognizing Ruby.  So far it’s not working on it’s own but I feel we’re still in the training phase.  And, let’s face it.  I take way more shots of Ruby than my kids.

But what I’m wondering is . . . will it recognize birds’ faces, too?

Meme for Lack of Inspiration

28 Jan

1. Do you like blue cheese? Very much.  It’s fantastic crumbled on salads.  I also love it alone with crackers.

2. Have you ever smoked? My sister smoked for 20 years.  I tried it a few times with her but as a lifelong asthmatic, I really always knew that I would never become a smoker.  Breathing is something I enjoy too much.  🙂

3. Do you own a gun? Yes.  We own a handgun and a rifle.

4. What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? Don’t like Kool Aid in any flavor.  Blech.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes but I have an awesome doctor so the nerves are kept to a minimum — I just know I’m nervous because I put off calling her.  🙂

6. What do you think of hot dogs? I love hot dogs.  YUM!

7. Favorite Christmas movie? Not sure I have one . . . I suppose The Grinch.  (NOT the Jim Carey version.)

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Triple non-fat, no-whip Mocha.  Preferably homemade!

9. Can you do push-ups? Yes but I won’t do them willingly.


10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? The engagement ring and wedding band that my husband not only gave me but made for me.  He’s awesome.

11. Favorite hobby? I have too many hobbies. I enjoy reading, writing, birding, blogging, photography, quilting, etc.

12. Do you have A.D.D? Nope.  I am an accomplished multi-tasker but since I work with kids with ADD, I know that I don’t have it.  I have pretty good powers of concentration which allows me to accomplish things even when my children are around!


13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Last year I had to start wearing reading glasses.


14. Middle name? Lee.

15. Name thoughts at this moment? Wondering why I am doing this meme when I’m not a fan of the meme.  Also wondering why my daughter is watching shows that are WAAAAAY younger than she is.


16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Coffee, Coke, Wine, Water, Iced Tea.  🙂

17. Current worry? If I’ll have a job next year.


18. Current hate right now? Hate?   The governor and state legislators of California.  They are stupidly selfish and putting political gain ahead of the good of the people they are supposed to represent.  I think they should all be tossed in the slammer until they solve this budget problem.  It’s criminal.

19. Favorite place to be? Camping with my family.

20. How did you bring in the New Year? Oh, we had a fun dinner party with friends and watched episodes from the Original Star Trek.

21. Where would you like to go? England, Scotland, France, Italy, . . . for starters.

22. Name three people who will complete this? Most of the likely candidates have already done it.


23. Do you own slippers? Yes, two pairs.

24. What color shirt are you wearing? white

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Nope.  Too slippy.

26. Can you whistle? I can whistle but not well.  Hard for me to hit the right notes.  Also, whistling from other people sets my nerves on edge.

27. Favorite Color? PINK!

28. What songs do you sing in the shower? Of course!

29. Would you be a pirate? Stealing KGMom’s answer — I like baths to much!

30. Favorite Girl’s Name? Grace (would have been my 2nd daughter’s name but I only have 1 daughter!)

31. Favorite boy’s name? Gage is a good one.  🙂

32. What’s in your pocket right now? I’m in jammies.  No pockets.

33. Last thing that made you laugh? Oh, we watched some TiVO’d shows last night — The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Jay Leno . . . which ever one of those we watched last gave me some big laughs.

34. What vehicle do you drive? Suzuki Grand Vitara.

35. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Broken thumb.  Broke it practicing for Giant Slalom ski race.  I think it’s the worst one because I am now feeling it ache when bad weather is coming in.  I broke it when I was in 6th grade.

36. Do you love where you live? I do, yes.  My house isn’t the house I want to live in forever but I love the area we live in.

37. How many TVs do you have in your house? 2.  They are both fairly old.  One is the tv I bought when I was in college.  I didn’t get the remote control feature because I couldn’t imagine being so lazy that I couldn’t get up and change the channels.  Oh well, at least I have small children who will adjust the volume for us if asked and we can still hook it up to the DVD player and satellite.  🙂

Ravens in the afternoon

27 Jan

Yesterday was meant to be a day off for me.  Teachers, however, rarely enjoy days off (except in the summer, I know, I know).  So, I went in for a couple of hours.  Five and a half hours later, I dragged myself home with a pile of unfinished work.  (You know we do it for the high pay and extreme glamor, don’t you?)

The highlight of my day was when I spotted two Ravens hanging out on the walkway outside my classroom.  One was walking along the walkway.  It was so quiet at that moment that I could hear his talons click as he walked.  He ignored me completely (after all, I didn’t have a camera in my hands).  I quietly and calmly went into the classroom and got my camera.

Of course, as I focused it on him (her?), he fled the scene.  Dratted bird!

The one at the end of the walkway, on the railing, did not flee.  I snapped several pictures as it froze in place like a statue.  I didn’t dare walk closer but  continued shooting out of focus shots (thank goodness all my bad shots are on easily deleted pixels and not expensive film!).  Eventually, my persistance paid off.

The best shot of the bunch was the last possible one.  Good-bye, Raven!  Enjoy your afternoon.

Common Raven in flight

Ruby, inspired by Aretha

26 Jan

Ruby loves hats

Ruby was inspired by Aretha Franklin’s sartorial spleandor.  She is now never seen without her “Aretha” hat.  It’s lovely and seems to inspire great fear in the local squirrel population.

For more Aretha-inspired photos, visit this Flickr group.

Common Ravens behaving uncommonly

25 Jan

I have been told that ravens are solitary
creatures who do not flock with birds of any feather
I have been told that to see ravens in pairs is fine
but more isn’t usual
But my ravens are unusual
My ravens join together in groups
of two or four or six or more
My ravens commune with one another
My ravens gather together in huge trees
and caw and kronk and chatter their great beaks
My ravens do not follow the rules
My ravens do as they please.

Ravens in the trees

© 2009 All rights reserved
Poetry and photograph by Liza Lee Miller

For more photos of birds both common and uncommon, visit Bird Photography Weekly.

Portrait of a Nine Year Old Boy

24 Jan

Gage's face

Gage's face

Gage's face

Gage is 9 today.  He is my silly, over-the-top, wild boy.  He’s also thoughtful, kind, and loving.  He’s loud and argumentative.  He’s cuddly and loving.  I can’t believe he’s 9 years old but that’s the truth.

9 years ago this morning, I was in the hospital as we tried to induce labor.  I had spent the night with strong contractions, listening to several woman deliver their babies in nearby rooms.  My water broke but labor was still not serious.  The doctor came to talk to me and they said that with my water broken, with my history with Ruth (40 hours of labor and still needing a c-section) that they’d let me labor until late afternoon but then they would need to do a c-section if he wasn’t born.  Greg and I talked about it and decided that there was no way.  Given my history, we just didn’t think it could happen in that timeframe.  So, we opted for a c-section.  By 10:24, he was born.  By 11:00 or so, I was holding him in the recovery room, happy as a clam, with family there with me, nursing him.  A big difference from the 40 hour ordeal.  Life with Gage has always been good.  He annoys the heck out of me at times but he is a joy.  A 9 year old joy.

Happy Birthday, Buddy!

Winter Skies

23 Jan

Winter Sky

For weeks, my skies have looked like this: crisp and blue.  The weather has been warm.  Nearly freezing at night and then nearing 70 during the day.  Fall weather, not winter.  Wednesday, it started raining again. Today, it’s pouring.  The weather maps are showing rain through the weekend.

We are all grateful here.  By this time in a normal year, our annual rainfall would be much higher than th 13.74 inches that one local weather station is reporting.  Last year we had a storm in January that gave us 7.09 inches all itself.  All this is to say that the rain is very, very welcome.  We drove by one of the local reservoirs yesterday and I have never seen it so low.

Let it rain!  Let it rain!  Let it rain!

For more winter skies, visit Skywatch® Friday!

Fun and games

22 Jan

Letting a nearly 9 year old loose with a camera is a great way to be entertained . . . and sometimes surprised.  Turns out Gage has a eye.  It’s fun to be surprised.  Here is Gage, having fun with my camera at an oil changing place in Santa Cruz.

Photos by Gage

Photos by Gage

Photos by Gage

Photos by Gage

Photos by Gage