Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – The Thief (Squirrel)

Looking for snacks…

The other day I decided to give a treat to the birds. They have been surviving the winter on safflower seeds because I had read that squirrels didn’t like those seeds and would leave the seed alone. Apparently squirrels will eat anything when they are hungry enough, because they have been eating the safflower seeds, right along with the birds. Any way, the birds had suffered long enough – they deserved a treat. I had some fruit in the refrigerator that was starting to turn bad. The fruit was from a few weeks ago when I decided (once again) that I needed some healthy food in my life. That lasted long enough for me to buy the fruit and put it in the refrigerator. The lucky birds now get to enjoy the fruit!

I didn’t give the fruit to the birds without doing some research. I found different ways to feed the apples to the birds. After completing the research, I hung apple slices on a wooden skewer that I duct taped to a tree branch. This was not one of the preferred methods, but I improvised. Here’s a picture of the apple slices in the tree. It kind of looks like I hung donuts and not apples. No doubt this was another thing that my neighbors would question about me. 🙂

Donuts or Apples?

Throughout the day, I kept checking the back yard to see if the birds were enjoying the apples. I don’t know if they even noticed the apples because they spent their time at the feeders and not the apples. Late in the afternoon I noticed that one of the skewers was gone.

Then I saw this…

Sneaky fella tryin’ to hide
This squirrel took the skewer and one of the slices.
Same squirrel got rid of the skewer and moved to the fence post.

I did catch the squirrel in the tree after he had ate the slice. He looked a bit ashamed of himself. I’ve had the same expression after eating too many cookies and/ or donuts. 🙂

Can’t believe I ate it all…

You would think that after the apples, the squirrels would have had enough to eat. I was wrong…

yum, yum, yum

Guess it is time to do some more research, so I can truly give the birds a fruit treat and the squirrels won’t steal all of it. 🙂

Until the next adventures in my back yard…

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog! Hope you liked the story and the pictures!

All photos are originals by Kim Stites

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Icy Trails

There is a walking trail at a nearby state park that I have been wanting to get to, but time and weather has not been on my side. On Monday the weather was warmer, so I decided it was time to check out the walking trail.

I had been told there was a waterfall along this trail that I had to check out. So, sure, why not check it out in winter? (There are days I don’t really think through some of my ideas.) I did see the waterfall and did get a couple pictures. This is a waterfall in Eastern Nebraska, so don’t expect much. 🙂 Also, keep in mind the definition of a waterfall is –a cascade of falling water where there is a vertical or almost vertical step in a river. It meets the definition…

The first step on to the walking trail was pure ice. I saw it as I approached, but convinced myself it couldn’t be all that bad so why not give it a try. I had my snow boots on to keep my feet warm, but these are not meant to be used for hiking on icy trails. None the less, I ventured on any way.

On this trail, by myself, not equipped to be hiking on ice and hearing the loud call of black birds, I couldn’t help but think about what if I fell on the ice and broke a bone or something? When would the ranger realize I hadn’t returned – or would they? Would I have to crawl back to my car (assuming I could crawl)? Yes, I tend to go from everything is ok to oh my gosh I’m going to die in seconds. Some times my imagination can be a curse. (Oh, I did have my phone with me so it wasn’t like I couldn’t call some one and get help, but my slightly panicked mind doesn’t think about those things!) Even with all these crazy thoughts going through my mind, and slipping on the icy every once in a while, I kept going. I had set out to get some landscape photos and that is what I was going to do! (Have I mentioned that I am also VERY stubborn?)

Ignoring the thoughts, I went on my way and did get some landscape shots taken. Hope you like them!

And, I did fall once on the ice, down a slight embankment. I managed to stop myself at the edge of the stream that wasn’t frozen. No major injuries, just a few bruises. I also managed to keep my camera off the ground and undamaged. Did I learn anything – no, I’d do it again tomorrow if I had the chance. 🙂

The start of the trail
Happily held on to these hand rails as I walked around this curve.
Another part of the trail
Photo of the waterfall
Another photo of the waterfall – the reason I was on the icy trail
The spot where I fell
A squirrel watching me. I think he muttered, “Stupid human.”

Hope you enjoy the photos and the story. 😉

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!

All photos are originals by Kim Stites

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Favorite Photo of 2019

What a great year this has been for my hobbies! I have had fun going different places and seeing the sites through my camera. I’ve been taking photos for just over a year and half now. I have enjoyed every minute of it! I believe I’m getting better, but continue to learn and expand my skills.

Writing was my first love. I remember writing poems and stories in high school for my Creative Writing course and just for fun. I enjoyed watching people read my work and seeing their expressions. It is a wonderful feeling having people moved emotionally by your work. My writing was shelved for quite a few years. It has felt good to be writing again, even if it isn’t the great novel of my childhood dreams, just stretching my creativity feels good.

As I continue to blog, I continue to learn. I have successes and I have failures – all of which are wonderful teachers. Thank you for being on the excursion with me!

I’ve said it before and it continues to be true, “Every story has a picture and every picture has a story.” I’m looking forward to another year of pictures and stories. 🙂

My favorite photo is “Dock on the Lake”. It isn’t a technically outstanding photo. There are elements that can be improved upon. But it makes me smile and my heart skip a beat when I see it. This is the place I go when I need to be reminded that there are things bigger than me, that beauty is everywhere, and that nature is a gift. This is where I go and lose myself, in the sounds of the ducks, geese, lapping of the waves on the lake, people fishing nearby and of the families enjoying some time together having a picnic. It is my peace.

Dock on the Lake

I hope you have enjoyed my blog this past year – with the photos, poems and short stories. More to come in 2020! 🙂

Thank you for stopping by!

Photos are originals by Kim Stites

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

A Cat, a Dachshund and Santa’s Hat

Not all animal portraits are the perfectly adorable photos where the cat’s eyes are sparkling with happiness or the dog seems to have a never ending delighted smile. Nope, I have determined, these photos are either using a well trained animal (who is used to having different outfits on and doesn’t mind getting their picture taken), or they are pure luck. In the instance of my pets, they are neither trained for photos nor do they enjoy playing dress up for the photo. And to top it all off, I am NOT a pet photographer. Wonder why I thought this was a good idea… 🙂

For some reason this season, I’ve really been wanting to dress the cat and the dog in costumes for some pictures. I really started thinking about this around Halloween. I did pick up a couple of headbands to slip on them, take a quick picture and be done with it. I just knew it would be that easy because you always get the first picture right. Ha! After several attempts, I did come to the conclusion that this just wasn’t going to work. The cat thought the wiggly things on the headband were toys, so he spent more time biting at them than anything else. The dog just thought they were annoying and kept hitting at the headband with his paws. You would have thought I would have learned from that experience. But no. Sometimes I am a slow learner.

As the holiday festivities were fast approaching, I really wanted to get the perfect pet photos to share with friends and family. Jim, who is right about most everything, has been diligent in telling/reminding me that the animals would not find this to be nearly as much fun as I thought it would be. So, in my usual way, I ignored his recommendations and did what I wanted anyway.

A couple of weeks ago, the dog and the cat were happily laying on the couch enjoying a lazy day. Seeing how cute they were being, I decided it was the perfect day for the holiday pictures! I just happen to have a Santa’s hat, so I got it out and started to put it on the dog while he was sleeping. Here’s a few shots of the results. He does not seem thrilled.

Why the hat?
Maybe if I just lay here, she will go away and stop taking my picture!

After a few more attempts with the dog, it was now the cat’s turn. He had remained on the couch while I took pictures of the dog, but soon realized (a little too late) that he was next. I tried to get the hat on him, but he jumped off the couch to get away. The dog then decided the hat was a toy and started to chew on it. OK, it was probably that he really just wanted to destroy the hat, but I’m going with the toy theory.

The cat had not gone too far, just to the area rug. Yes I tried to put the Santa hat on him, which he would have nothing to do with. So I settled for getting some pictures of the cat with Santa’s hat next to him. He looks more like the Grinch that ate Santa than a cute, cuddly cat.

So I guess I’m not going to get one of those cute photos with the dog and cat in holiday costumes, happily sitting next to each other. But, I did get pictures that show their true personalities (at least when the camera is out), so I’m happy! 🙂

Hmmm… I wonder what pictures I could do for Valentine’s Day???

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog. I hope you enjoyed the story and the pictures!

All photos and the story are originals by Kim Stites

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Gold Finches having Dinner

Taking multiple pictures of a subject can lead to some pretty interesting photos. Not always what was expected, but interesting. The other day several gold finches were flying around the bird feeders. My current finch feeder only has places for two birds to eat at a time. On this particular day the two spots were a dilemma for the finches. Here’s a picture of one of the finches waiting for his turn. And yes, only one of the places was taken, but this finch never did go for the second spot.

Patiently waiting for his turn at the feeder.

In this next photo the finch had gotten tired of waiting.

It is MY turn!!

Sadly he overshot the feeder and landed on the fence behind. He doesn’t look happy. The picture below isn’t the best, but I think it captures his mood. 🙂

I want food!

This little finch, then decided on much more aggressive approach as the next picture captures.

MOVE!

This approach did nothing to help the bird get to the feeding spot. The other bird pushed his aggressor off and went about eating, after scolding the other bird. The picture below shows the scolding that occurred.

Just wait your turn!!!

The bird then decided to not wait any longer. He flew to another bird feeder and was able to get some food.

All of this could have been avoided if only the bird had gone to the other perch on the feeder. He would have had his food and wouldn’t have gotten into a fight. Guess most species could learn from this – Look at all possibilities.

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog! Hope you enjoyed the pictures of the gold finches.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

All photos are originals by Kim Stites.