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Hippos and ducklings

Here are some better photos of “Hilda the Hug Me! Hippo”, my sock hippopotamus. You can see her hand-embroidered eyes, nose, and mouth, which I did by winging it with some embroidery floss.

I even gave her some eyelashes, and some tufts on the end of her little tail.

Her posture is pretty funny too. I think I might just keep her!

The ducks showed up with some babies! Two sets, on different occasions, so far.

Their mama likes to talk to me. She will walk right up to me and quack, quack, quack. She’s the same duck who ran into some trouble before, the one we caught in a sheet so I could remove some fishing line from her leg. She seems to know me. Sometimes she will just sit and look at me for a while, tilting her head this way and that. She’s very sweet.

We’ve only seen one duckling today, and we’re hoping the others are hiding down by the pond with the other mama duck. They don’t all leave the pond together lately. Some stay behind. The ducklings in the other set are smaller, and I haven’t seen them myself yet. I’ve only heard about them.

It’s a big trip for them. They will just fall asleep in place while the other ducks are standing nearby. If anyone slows down long enough, it’s nap time.

Update: Just as I was posting this, one of the missing ducks appeared limping badly, unable to make it up the hill. We caught him in a sheet and found he had a long fishing hook stuck in his leg. We couldn’t get it out, but managed to cut it off so it won’t get snagged on anything. We poured some peroxide on the wound, but there is only one avian vet we know of who was willing to help last time, and he isn’t open at this hour. So, we will have to wait and see. Please everyone…pick up your stuff and dispose of it properly when you leave a place. Garbage and leftover fishing hooks and fishing line cause so much suffering.

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Been busy busy

Everyone has just been lining up, waiting to be photographed over here.

But, first there were doll stands that needed to be painted,

supplies that needed to be organized,

and a dresser, in which the dolls are now napping, that needed to be assembled.

What a lot of hardware! I’m glad it was so neatly laid out.

This ratcheting screwdriver with interchangeable bits helped me a lot. It’s a WorkForce 21-Piece Ratcheting Screwdriver Set that originally came from Home Depot some time back. Too bad I didn’t notice the ratcheting feature until I was putting together the last drawer. You don’t have to let go of the handle to keep turning it, which is pretty cool. Like I said before, you never know what handy things you will find in our closets.

More lovely azaleas came into bloom. I ran out to photograph them.

The ducks waddled over, all curious about the whole idea of my photographing azaleas, or maybe they just thought I had snacks.

Nope, sorry ducks, just azaleas.

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Duck rescue mission

One of our duck friends, the mama duck above, came to visit us with a badly swollen foot and leg two days ago. I couldn’t get close enough until evening to see that the swelling was caused by what turned out to be fishing line wrapped very tightly around her leg. I didn’t know how I could catch her or get it off since it was embedded in the swollen leg. We called everyone we could think of yesterday for advice, and found an avian vet who could see her if we could catch her.

She didn’t come up from the pond until after the vet’s closing time, and I could see her dragging the line. We took what advice we had and grabbed a sheet. It took some running around and a couple of failed attempts, but we finally got the sheet over her. I picked her up and tucked her under my arm. She was very upset about the sheet being over her head, but once I gently pulled it off, she just looked at me as if she were saying, “Oh, it’s you.” She was so good and well-behaved and sweet, we couldn’t believe it.

I petted her head and talked to her while my mom and dad put my kitty assistant in the house (he was ready and willing to help, but unfortunately we didn’t think he’d add to the calm), and found my little sewing scissors. I handed the duck over to my dad while my mom held the sheet ends out of the way, and I snipped away, a tiny bit at a time, at the tops of the knot heads. There were two knotted areas, with multiple knots very tight against the leg. I kept the scissors pointing at an angle away from her leg, trying to avoid pinching her with them. I managed to get the line free without nicking her, and we were all very relieved. She seemed somewhat disoriented, and so we followed her at a distance to her pond, where she got back in the water with her friends.

This morning, they all came back for some cracked corn. She was determined to come, even though she is still limping. Her friends were going to go back for her, since she was trailing behind, but she limp-marched past them up the hill. She sat right next to me while she had her corn. Her foot and leg are not as swollen, and hopefully they will go back to normal soon. We’ll keep an eye on her.

So, please, if you fish, make sure you leave with everything you came with, and everyone, please take a moment when throwing out dangerous items, to dispose of them carefully. It only takes an extra minute before you throw something into the trash to wad up string/twine/fishing line/yarn/thread/ribbon/etc and tape it into a ball with some duct tape or sports tape, or put it all in a jar/prescription bottle/coffee can/etc. Cut those plastic loops that hold six packs together into little pieces, cut up plastic packaging bands, and knot the ends of the plastic bags you throw out, or cut them all the way open. Just please take a moment to think about all the suffering you can prevent by making some extra, small, conscientious gestures part of your routine. There are lots of little feet, legs, heads, and necks that get caught in those things every day. And if you see this kind of dangerous litter, please take a minute to pick it up and dispose of it properly. It only takes a moment, but you might just save a life.

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Sick Days and Ducks in the Rain

In between sketching and resting, I watched the goings-on in our backyard. This is one of the first iris of the season. I ran out and got a photo just before the rain started here. It blooms faithfully, but I cannot remember its name. I will have to look it up sometime. I took some artistic license with the color of this iris for my “Jubilee” watercolor.

“Jubilee” was one of many paintings (and other projects) that I started and finished years later. I believe I had painted the iris in the upper left, and most everything else, except for the remaining matching two iris. There was something I didn’t like about the already painted iris, like the direction the light was coming in from, and so I intensified its color so I could move the shadows. The existing dark areas became the new light areas. With watercolor, you can’t just paint over what you’ve done, and so you have to get creative when you want to change something. That’s how all the iris ended up much richer in color than my model. I thought it looked quite joyous when I was done, which is why I named it “Jubilee”.

Once the rain started, we got some visitors. We used to have geese wandering through, and I was sad when they disappeared. This year, we have ducks on the pond down the hill, and they wandered up in the pouring rain to nibble on our unmowed grass.

I got a little wet photographing them, and my zoom lens doesn’t zoom as much as I might like. Still, they are awfully cute.

Not long after the ducks showed up, a pair of rabbits came to play leap frog, or leap bunny? I didn’t manage to get a picture of them, but they were very amusing, running and leaping over each other. At one point they each anticipated a charge by the other and leapt, simultaneously, straight up in the air.

Afternoon Delight“! That’s the name of the iris. It just came to me!