Friday, September 21, 2007

Fire in the field


I have a really cool job as a newspaper reporter for a mid-sized daily in Freeport, Illinois. One night on the way home from work I couldn't help but notice a fire in the distance, so I chased it ... and found farmers burning their field. There was no danger, but a cool picture came from it ... enjoy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Yes, more baseball, this time, the REAL DEAL

At long last, he did it. My son Wes became a professional baseball player. In this photo, we are visiting Wrigley field where the Diamondbacks are playing the Cubs. That's Jon on the left and Wes on the right. The next night he put pen to paper, as did I, and agreed to terms with the Arizona Diamondbacks. We are so happy (note the smiles on our faces~!) Wes was sent to Yakima Washington to play for the Yakima Bears.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bluebirds dining at the Ultimate Bluebird Feeder

Below is a video of my male bluebird eating mealworms from my Ultimate Bluebird Feeder, a gizmo I invented for my wild birds so they could eat mealworms without the mealworms getting away or getting washed away in a storm or blown away with the wind. If you are interested in one, give me a jingle.

Watch me: Bluebirds dining out

video

Sunday, July 08, 2007


WESLEY'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

So I'm headed to a movie -- a Bruce Willis flick -- and, as usual, the cell phone goes off. Who could it be but, of course, my baseball son Wes (see Wes in photo; he won some golf balls at a parent/player picnic in Omaha for hitting a golf ball over the Missouri River).

First, there's an expletive, then the news: he's driving on I10 toward Phoenix and he's 45 miles out of town and he's been on "E" for about a half hour. At some point in time you ask yourself where your kids missed the boat on things like filling up with all fluids, including gasoline, before doing things like crossing a desert. Anyway, to make a long story short, he kept going despite my advice to call AAA beFORE he ran out of gas on the interstate at midnight, and he made it... but the texts kept coming through the first half of the movie, "the Bruce Willis never dies flick no. 4". The next day, the next call came. Wes was sick. He's in Tucson where he ate something bad - probably vegetables from a concerned friend. And now he's late for a date in Texas where his gal pal Jay was waiting with relatives for him. Of course there are long pieces of advice given on how to pacify angry girlfriends. The next day, the third call. He needs Grandma's scalloped potatoes recipe. He's cooking for all her relatives. And the next day the fourth call: the check engine light came on in his Subaru Imprezza, which he's driving here to give to his brother, Jon. This is Jon doing what he does best other than leaving a mess in the basement ....


Tomorrow, Wes leaves Texas, on his way here, to Illinois. This is his last excellent vacation before he goes to sign with the D-Backs in a week or so and heads off to the minors. Baseball players. Ya gotta love 'em.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Everyone leaves home eventually I guess...


And now, the Orchard Orioles are gone. But not without leaving a mark on my heart - and giving me a slight scare.
Mid-June: I noticed the first of the babies had popped from the nest and was following "mom" about the back yard as she and papa oriole fussed at the others in the nest. There was a lot going on: papa and mama both cleaning out the nest, flying across to the neighbor's yard with baby birdie waste and so forth.
Saturday, June 23: I came home from work to find my backyard silent of Oriole songs. Where were my babies? Those tiny things couldn't ALL be flying around yet could they? Before too long, my curiousity got the best of me and I climbed up on my ladder to peek into their nest. A flash of wings and a startled baby -- the last of the bunch to leave the nest -- leaped out at me.
A Rescue
Poor baby didn't know how to fly yet and so hopped about the ground wildly flapping. I felt bad and Mama bird was ANGRY. I finally caught the fledgling, depositing him safely back into the nest. As I climbed down the ladder and turned away, I heard a flutter. I looked, but saw nothing. For an hour, I sat on the porch monitoring the nest, fretting. Had I scared the mama away? Was she abandoning that baby?
All gone
Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. Believing I had inherited an orphan, I climbed back on the ladder and carefully peeked inside. No baby~! Finally, they had all flown the nest. And now, I wonder: will they ever come back? I miss them~! To read more about Orioles, check out this site: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/bow/orcori/

Friday, June 22, 2007

Butterflies and Wes



So here we are at the College World Series in Omaha and what does Diana become fascinated with? A butterfly. This little guy flapped around our seats for a long long time and finally lit on the cap of the gal in front of me. I'm not sure what kind of butterfly this is but I think maybe it's a cousin of a monarch.

**


Roemer was Collegiate Baseball's co-National Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2006, when he earned Big West Conference Player of the Year honors by winning 13 games, posting a 2.38 ERA and has a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 145:7 over 155 innings.

Papa Bluebird feeds his baby

Here is a favorite photo of mine: it's a papa eastern bluebird feeding his baby mealworms at my bluebird feeding post. I am designing a more sophisticated feeding post -- to be called The Ultimate Bluebird Feeder -- that will include a plexiglass cube mounted on a wood plank that will be bolted to a proper pole. No more bungie cords and Gladware~~! Only the best for Diana's second batch of bluebirds. So far I have added seven bluebirds to society. Ah, what a Mom. (Note: that raggedy yard in the background isn't mine: it's my neighbors!)

Babies Orchard Orioles~!

This may not look like much at first glance, but it's the coolest thing to hit my backyard since the bluebirds came in 2005. This is a nest of four baby Orchard Orioles. The baby on top was out of the nest two days after I shot this on June 20. The parents are pretty cool: the female is a yellow-green and very petite (see below, center).... ... and the male is a strawberry roan color with a black hood on his head and throat (see below, left). They sing a pretty song but are very fussy whenever I get near their nest. The nest is built of finely woven grassy strings. The female weaves the teacup-shaped nest onto the braches, weaving it tightly so it doesn't fall out and she even weaves it so leaves cover the nest. It was hard to get this photo. Orchard Orioles are of special concern because their flocks are decreasing in numbers. While they are not yet endangered, they well could be, so this pair was very special in my backyard. Click on the picture of babies for more detail. Note the baby on the left -- his eye is looking right at me.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blackbeard, aka Edward Teach, lived in N. Carolina
















Here's Blackbeard's home in Bath, N. Carolina. Click on the photo to read the sign. This was not the most interesting site in N. Carolina, though.

Below is a photo of me at Pimlico Beach, where we drove forever looking at people's homes with their crab cages stacked up in front.
We were amazed by the coast at Pimlico Beach mostly because there was no beach at Pimlico. In fact, there wasn't much at ALL at Pimlico. We were happy though because we found Klondike bars and pecan rolls at a gas station where the lady still lets people sign on an "account" when they buy gasoline. We wanted to set up an account but somehow, she knew we weren't locals. The fancy Chevy Avio we rented could have been a her first clue.

Me in North Carolina



Beautiful Bath~! One of my baseball trips was to East Carolina University where I visited historic Bath, the town where Blackbeard the pirate lived. I was very happy that day. I like this picture because it makes me look fairly thin, don'tcha think?

Welcome to Tales of the Heartland

At this blog site, you will be able to pick up where my published column left off, with stories about my wanderlust dog Louie, my sons Wes, a minor league baseball player, and Jon, a junior in high school, and my crazy life in northwestern Illinois in the Heartland of America. Here in this picture left to right are Wes, my nephew Jared, my niece Ashley and my youngest son Jon, at my folks' house in the woods at Lake Summerset. Summerset, where I also live, is filled with wonder, not to mention bluebirds (people dubbed me "The Bluebird Lady"), orioles and lots of other critters that go bump in the night.


















Here's another picture of Wes, fielding for Team USA, in the summer of 2006.











He's with the Arizona Diamondbacks farm team system now.



















We all know who's the most important critter on this blog; that would be Louie, everybody's favorite Mutt. Louie spends most of his time trying to figure out how to get off his leash to chase rabbits, squirrel and gophers. He's the best dog I've ever had and the stories he gives me, which I hope to post on this blog regularly, will keep you all in stitches.





Here's my house, below, in the winte of 2004. We all love it here and stay cozy and warm even when it snows.

It does get warm here, too, and Louie likes it best when his backyard looks


<<==like this rather than this ^^^

Go figure????

Anyway, no matter what the weather, welcome to my little world, and if you like it here, stay awhile.

And tell your friends to stop by too.

Diana and the Gang

Oh, the money I spend on "Brighton!"

I visited Southern California several times in the spring of 2007 to watch Wes play baseball and on one trip, I stopped by my favorite store, Brighton, at the Brea Mall. So this is me with a Brighton bag. I took home some very pretty things that day.