Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My sweet baby boy has grown up....

He'll be graduating from highschool this spring. These are some of my favourite pictures. Motherhood has been a great experience. I learned to be patient and I learned tolerance. There were many challenges as you can see. Harry was quite the pistol and sometimes my sanity suffered. Its not over yet. I am not sure it will ever be.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We've been getting a lot of rain....

There are days after a rain when our driveway is just coated with earthworms. You may not be able to tell from this picture... but there are quite a few. Its a bit unsettling having to drive over them. I found this Q&A out on the internet. I apologize but I forget where I found it.


Q. Why do worms come onto driveways and sidewalks when it rains?
A. Dr. Dennis Linden, Cindy Hale, and other worm experts say that worms do NOT surface to avoid drowning. In fact, they come to the surface during rains (especially in the spring) so they can move overland. The temporarily wet conditions give worms a chance to move safely to new places. Since worms breathe through their skin, the skin must stay wet in order for the oxygen to pass through it. After rain or during high humidity are safe times for worms to move around without dehydrating. It is true that, without oxygen, worms will suffocate. But earthworms can survive for several weeks under water, providing there is sufficient oxygen in the water to support them.

Q. Do earthworms come to the surface after heavy rains to avoid drowning?
A. Not exactly. Earthworms can survive for several weeks under water providing there is sufficient oxygen in the water to support them. They surface as a response to high relative humidity after rain because they can move around safely without drying out.

Q. Where did our earthworms come from?
A. Experts believe most native species were wiped out wherever glaciers covered the land. Most earthworms we see today were imported mainly from Europe by early settlers. The worms or worm cocoons traveled in the rootstocks of plants brought by the settlers from their homelands. Europeans added soil, with its earthworms or worm cocoons, to ships for ballast. Once anchored in North American harbors, ships released their ballast -and living worms, who found new homes.

Q. What do earthworms eat?
A. Earthworms eat dirt! Their nutrition comes from things in soil, such as decaying roots and leaves. Animal manures are an important food source for earthworms. They eat living organisms such as nematodes, protozoans, rotifers, bacteria, fungi in soil. Worms will also feed on the decomposing remains of other animals.

Q. How do worms eat?
A. They don't have teeth but they have strong mouth muscles. Dew worms or nightcrawlers often surface at night to pull fallen leaves down into their burrow. When the leaf softens a little they pull off small bits to munch on. Worms also "swallow" soil as they burrow.

Q. How much do earthworms eat in one day?
A. They can consume up to one third of their own body weight in a day.

Q. How can I tell if there are earthworms in the soil?
A. When trying to find evidence of earthworms, look at the soil surface first. Earthworms often leave small piles or pellets of soil on the surface. Dig a spadeful of soil and sort through it for earthworms. Experience will also allow you to find cocoons. While you are digging, always watch for evidence of large burrows with "slickened" sidewalls. These may indicate the presence of nightcrawlers.

Q. Why do robins tug at earthworms in the soil?
A. Worms use the many tiny bristles or setae on each of their body rings to help them crawl as well as to anchor themselves firmly in their burrows. The robin has to tug because the worm is gripping the soil!

Q. Can earthworms survive freezing?
A. If frozen, they will die. Some of them the adults survive freezing temperatures by going below the frost line or estivating. Worm eggs within a cocoon survive deep in the soil over winter, and they hatch in the spring when conditions are right.

Q. When are worms most active?
A. In the fall and spring. Cool (temperatures of 50, 60, 70), moist conditions are best for earthworms. They aren't active when it's cold or dry.

Q. What do earthworms do when it gets too cold, too hot, or too dry?
A. Earthworms escape by either burrowing deeply into the soil (up to 2 meters), or entering a reduced metabolic state known as estivation. When conditions are favorable, they will emerge and resume normal activities.

Q. What happens during estivation?
A. Each worm forms a tight ball deep in the soil. Its metabolism slows way down.

Q. What are some earthworm enemies?
A. Snakes, birds, moles, toads and even foxes are known to eat earthworms. Beetles, centipedes, leeches, slugs and flatworms also feed on earthworms. Some types of mites parasitize earthworm cocoons or the worms themselves.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My mom was in the hospital

She is not sick ...well not really, just enjoying her golden years. She went in to have a routine stress test performed. During the test the medical professionals saw indication of an irregular heart beat. The doctor wanted to put her on medication to regulate this. In order to do that they wanted her in the hospital for a couple of days for observation while they adjusted the medication.

So I heard from my younger sister, Laura, who stopped by to see her at St. Edwards in Naperville. After telling me about mom's condition my sister added: Mom is enjoying all the attention and "Oh my God" wouldn't you know, every other attendant is some good looking guy, and they all flirt with her, like "well what are you in for, a vacation?" ... and her cardiologist is this blond adonis in his forties! Talk about chiseled!

I called my mom last night to see how she was doing. She was watching a baseball game and doing a crossword puzzle. She referred to the cardiologist as "that doctor that looks like Richard Chamberlain". I asked how she was feeling and how was it going etc and the response was "Great! I am getting all my meals served to me in bed!". Family was visiting. My older sister and my niece stopped in to see her, and it was my niece that gave her the book of crossword puzzles. So sweet. My mom told me about the attendent who has been monitoring the EKG (young, good looking,very friendly) ... one of the monitors on her chest got dislodged and she said to him "Look where it is... what are you going to do about it?" He reached in and adjusted it! That just tickled her to no end!

So then day 2 and I talked to her. She was getting bored... as expected. She was ready to go home. The sweet thing is how many of her family members have stopped in to see her. Her son in-law Mike was over and Billy stopped by. That pleased her immensely.

Laura is going over to her house today to play online Scrabble for her. It is mom's turn. Mom plays with her two sisters. One lives in Connecticut and the other in New Jersey. Mom says it takes about two days to come around to her turn. She had not told her sisters that she was in the hospital so she needed some one to fill in for her in her Scrabble game. She advised my sister not to worry about winning, like by being too clever or whatever. But I know my sister. She'll go for a slam dunk.