Backyard Shenanigans Again

I have been very careful to only place black oil sunflower seeds in my birdfeeder, as this is something they prefer and it doesn’t have all the filler junk that they cheap up their bags with.  This made me a good steward of nature, right?  Or so I thought.  Hubby brought home a bag of “Wild Song Bird Food” and I thought “ugh, we’ll just have to go through that quickly.  I should have told him about the really good seed.  Ah, well, he meant well.”

Well, shut my mouth and call me corn pone, I was wrong.  These birds are going insanely crazy over this stuff, and we have been entertained for a week.  Besides the usual sparrows and mourning doves, we have beautiful and refined cardinals, pushy and rude blue jays, imperious grackles, dainty purple finches, red-headed woodpeckers who have to cling to the underside of the bird feeder in order to eat, a gloriously show-stopping yellow oriole, a couple of nuthatches, and my beloved chickadees (whom I normally only see around Christmastime).

We’re also having the party on the ground.  Three chipmunks who like to boss each other around, five squirrels who nibble quietly right along with the birds until they go spazoid and freak out all the birds then quickly gobble the food while they’re alone, a mama bunny and her two babies which produces lots of squealing from my girls, and good ol’ Fred the groundhog.

Good ol’ Fred has still been digging tunnels and last week we’d had enough.  Part of my backyard was a good four inches lower than other parts and decidedly spongey.  Like, if you walked you took the chance of ending up in a hole up to your knee sort of spongey.  We hired a man (ex-Marine, boy was he strong) to excavate the hole and refill, tamping it all down.  He brought an adorable baby backhoe/digger and went at it methodically, neatly, and with as much care as he would show for his own property.  He then seeded and put down hay.  I don’t think he realized it, but our bird posse has been treating this as dessert, so I really don’t expect any grass to grow.

I think there was another development from his visit, however.  We found the unfortunate remains of what we think is a squirrel outside of our garage; the little thing must have been dead for a while as the skin was already becoming leathered.  (This observation brought by Older Daughter who is the scientific/nature observer of the family.  The Younger Daughter and I just say “eeeeww.”)  Probably was killed by another animal someplace else, then dragged over to the spot and abandoned for a reason.

I think I know better.  I think those crazy raccoons who live in the woods beyond our yard got a good look at the baby backhoe and saw the efficient destruction of the elaborate tunnel system and were not only impressed, but scared.  I think they dug the squirrel out of their reserve pantry and gave him up as a peace offering to ensure nothing that big would come after them, and a sign of respect.  They probably would have kissed my ring had I been there.

Don't hurt us.

Don’t hurt us.

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Chapters

Today I attended a memorial service for my next-door neighbor.  It was very sad as he was only 41 and leaves a wife and two children under the age of five.  Those are the kids I’ve been watching for the past year as the parents rushed to many day-long appointments and emergency surgeries, and they really don’t understand what is happening.

I was struck by today’s service because it was so completely different from anything I’ve ever seen.  I have always attended a wake at a funeral parlor where I signed a guest book, took a small card, said a prayer in front of a coffin, murmured to the grieving family, then took a chair and sat silently for 20-30 minutes where other people sat uncomfortably and murmured to each other.  This service was held outdoors in a lovely alcoved area surrounded by trees and a gentle fountain, with a non-denominational pastor asking us all to empty our minds of hustle and bustle, and focus solely on the moment, as the deceased was surely in this lovely space in spirit.

There was a eulogy by his widow, and a more compassionate and complete picture could not have been painted; there was laughter and tears, and she directed most of her comments to her small children who will see a video of this ceremony when they are older.  It was touching and we were all moved to squeeze the hand of the person we were with.

And then there was a progression of people who had been invited to share their recollection: his mother, father, and sister; his wife’s extensive and exuberant family who each recalled the light he put in their sister’s/daughter’s eyes; friends from University; colleagues from his company; the friend who introduced them.  It struck me how each person was recalling certain chapters of his life and their association with him, and that we were all reading the book that was this young man.  Each chapter had a different perspective based on their knowledge, and all the different chapters together bound a story of a remarkably kind, talented, and determined person who left pages of his goodness and honesty in every person and brought them together to complete the story.

We each lit a candle and placed it in a large tray of sand, as a woman softly sang “In My Life” and “Blackbird” from the Beatles.  Then the pastor reminded us that those who die are simply in the next room; that we should not speak of them in hushed and miserable tones, but in natural and loving voices which ensures their spirit is always among us as long as our hearts remember.

It was perfect.

 

beach3

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No, Really, It Totally Is About Me

  • Got a nice little icon on my dashboard this morning wishing me a happy anniversary from WordPress.  I’d rather have the cash.  Or a gift card.  I actually like gift cards better than cash, because you get fun stuff with gift cards and with cash you’re like “yeah, I have cash, I can stop for milk and bread.”  Unless it’s a Visa or American Express gift card.  I hate those because they charge you to spend your own money and how 1984 is that?  Except we’ll have to change that to 2084 and I won’t be around for that, so no biggie.

::looks disapprovingly at Visa and Amex

::looks disapprovingly at Visa and Amex::

 

  • I do not like spicy food, and I don’t get the whole sriracha thing.  Why do people want to burn off their taste buds?  Do they not like the taste of food?  Do they not understand the point of food, which is to taste it?  The point is not to sweat and wipe away tears and wave at your tongue in a desperate bid to cool off the raging inferno that is now your mouth.  Just give me tasty food, please, in mah mouf.

 

right here

right here

 

  • I liked doing craft shows back in the late 90s, because it gave me a thrill when somebody admired my work and actually plunked down cold hard cash (to go towards bread and milk, clearly) to buy my things.  I would calligraphy cute or humorous (or even sarcastic) sayings and put some innocuous artwork with it and either frame it or put it in a magnet or some sort of display item.  I was usually the only such craftsperson at a typical show, but then along came Microsoft Word and they had a calligraphy font on there and people started making signs with clip art for next to nothing and customers are not discriminating so they bought those as well and I discovered it’s not fun to sit at a craft show all day and not sell stuff so I stopped.  Well, that, and I got a day job.  Now that I don’t have a day job people are asking if I’m going to return to doing craft shows.

Just don't even go there.

Just don’t even go there.

 

 

  • I’ve thought about writing about education issues since I have experience, background, and a point of view, but it’s dangerous for my blood pressure to go that high.  I started writing a young adult novel and I based it on my students and while I thought it was a pretty good beginning, I haven’t touched it since November and I have not felt a need to do so.  Of course, it made me think of *that place* that I left and there we have the blood pressure problem again.  Maybe it would be better if I wrote something else.  Hmm, maybe I’ll start a blog!  Oh, wait….

Because you already have a blog, see?  See why it's funny?

Because you already have a blog, see? See why it’s funny?

 

 

  • I’m not ashamed to say I enjoy me some pop culture.  I’m in love with the Doctor, I’m currently binge-watching Once Upon A Time (So bad story. Much pretty face. Very wow.), and I will check out all celebrity gowns on all red carpets.  It doesn’t make me a bad person, much like enjoying an occasional Slurpee (without the brain freeze, thank you very much) so when I see those passive-aggressive blog postings about “well I don’t know anyone who owns a TV anymore, it’s so unhealthy for the children” it makes me want to send them a bag of Fritos and a box of Twinkies and say “get over yourself and watch a little Friends.”

Who could turn up their nose at Kermit?  Get real!

Who could turn up their nose at Kermit? Get real!

 

  • This is about as far as I can go on the “All About Me” stuff because I can’t think of one more thing remotely interesting to say about myself.  So on this one-year anniversary of the blog, I leave you with this image:

 

I'll let you know what happens.

I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

 

 

 

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Grateful

(Besides the obvious good health, a roof, family, etc.)

 

1.  I do not work in a cubicle farm.  

2.  Mental faculties are still fairly quick, though some short-term memory testing is coming up on the “does not compute” side.  That’s okay.  If it was really important it would have left an impression.  Let’s hope the mortgage payment always stays important, otherwise the aforementioned roof will have to be removed from the list.

3.  Ravelry.  That site is a miracle.  If you knit and you’re not there, get there!  I love the groups I belong to, they keep me more informed than the evening news.

4.  Peanut butter.  I prefer chunky because it’s more entertaining, but I will not turn away the smooth.  However, I am now on a search for one that doesn’t belong to an evil corporation.  (Thank you to a certain charming knitting pastor who told me about the “buycott” app so now I don’t support companies that do evil things like paying twelve cents per hour to disadvantaged folks.  But if I can’t find decent peanut butter, we’re going to have to talk about this.)

5. I live in a small town so I’ve got that close-knit feeling, but it’s in the middle of suburbia so I’ve got all kinds of advantages (hello, fast internet!) which is also in between two major metropolitan areas so a little travel puts me at Independence Hall or Broadway.  Of course, our property taxes are downright ridiculous, but everything has a price.  (Yes, I am full of genius quotations like that.  Like “Every dog has his day.”  Or “Make hay while the sun shines.”  I just don’t ever actually say them out loud.)

6.  I seriously love my iPad.  Connect to the world, read books, play games, keep appointments handy, and communicate with others from the palm of my hand.  Gadget whore, that’s me.

7.  Gin and tonic.  What a fabulous summer cocktail.  Little sweet, little tart, little lime, little tingling in my knees when I’ve had a good one.

8.  Color.  Give me some sharpies or colored pencils and some smooth paper and I’ll be as happy as a pig in mud.  (Oooo, look, another genius quotation!  You’re welcome.)  Lots of times I hesitate to sketch something because I’ll be unhappy with what I did and then I’ve just RUINED the paper and when did I ever think I could draw but those colors are just so beautiful….This is kind of how I buy yarn, too.  Which explains my yarn stash.

9.  Any illness I’ve ever had has been attended to and cleared up with no side effects.  (Well, unless you count two caesareans and their resultant issues and why I’ll never ever be seen in a bathing suit again.  No, really, girls, I love you very much and you were worth it.  Just remember what I gave up for you and get mommy a gin and tonic.)  People who are in chronic pain must be Hercules because if I were in their shoes I think I’d be a sobbing mess who needed commitment papers stat, and I know I’m a big baby afraid of pain because I’m even afraid to vomit.  

10.  A place to babble nonsense and have people tell me they like it or agree with it or decide to start following me (and not in a creepy way) and I’m very grateful for readers and commenters.  It pushes me to someday be that writer I think I’ll be.  Or I’ll just keep writing here, either way is okay with me.  Thanks.

 

h42CBC400

…and you guys are never crabby!

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In a Related Way

*Whew* Sorry for that long and angry rant in the last post, I don’t know where that verbose person had been hiding.

Hey, WordPress, why did you change my default font to something that looks like comic sans??? With no discernible way to change it back? It makes me not take myself seriously.

Relationships are funny things. You start off not knowing a person, then exchanging small talk related to whatever situation you happen to be in (work, school, a community meeting, a rehearsal, a stuck elevator — which makes me shudder — etc.) and then you seem to find some common ground, a link that makes you open to getting to know each other better.

Sometimes that succeeds, and sometimes it fails. Sometimes it becomes the best thing that ever happened to you, and sometimes it makes you scratch your head with the “WTF-ness” of it all.

As I get older, I would like to say I’m more selective in my friend-making, but actually I’m just lazy tempered with caution. How many times do you say “Hi-I’m-so-and-so-and-here’s-what-I-do-what-do-you-do-how-long-have-you-done-it-do-you-like-it-why-yes-I’m-yawning-sorry.” I am the WORST at small talk because in my warped brain from my upbringing, it’s nosy to ask questions because it sounds like prying and heaven forbid I pry or my mother will flick me all the way from heaven. By the same token, it’s not good form to talk about oneself lest it sound like bragging, and to avoid that heaven-sent flick I will not talk about myself unless I really know someone well.

That relegates me to the listener corner. (Everybody who knows me who is reading this is probably off in gales of laughter because the idea that I don’t talk much is just so funny. Right? Don’t bother to answer, I KNOW what you’re thinking!) I don’t venture anything until I’ve gotten to know a little bit about the group (or person) I’m with. Usually the way somebody knows they’ve made a connection with me is if I snort softly at a joke they threw out, and often I’m the only one who laughs. Or if I insert (again, softly) a humorous observation on the current topic, just loud enough for me and maybe the person next to me to hear, and they turn towards me with that look of recognition that says “Oh no way! I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing!” and we lol just a bit. Softly, of course. (Again with the hysterical laughter from those who know me. Soft? Hardly. Eternally loud.) But my friends don’t know me when I’m in a new situation.

Relationships with family, however, are way different. Either they’ve been with you since you were born and they are convinced you are only one particular type of person and that is the one they pegged you with when you were four, or they are family that came into your life through marriage, adoption, or other family-making ways. The ones who have been with you since you were born are the relationships that fascinate me the most. It boggles my mind to hear of a family of five sisters and their parents, and they all call each other every day. Every. Damn. Day. What could you possibly talk about every day to each other? “It’s raining here. Is it raining by you? No? I wonder if it’s raining by Mom? Oh, it is? What about our other sister? No? I wonder if it’s raining by the other sister? You don’t know? You didn’t call? That’s okay, I’ll call. What about the other one? Which one? I don’t know. Who is this?” How does that happen? I barely know what to talk about with my husband from Monday-Friday that doesn’t start with “How was work?” and ends with “Do you mind if I go up to bed a little early?” (For some reason, weekends are a different story. The two of us chatter like chipmunks about everything until we hit system overload and then just give each other affectionate looks.)

I also am intrigued by the single-child families. Are they closer to their parents then children with siblings? Who did they fight with? Who did they blame things on? How did they ever get away with anything? Do they end up being more serious adults because nobody gave them a purple nurple in childhood? Or do they bust out of the serious child mode and become a serious party animal to make up for lost time?

My husband and two daughters mean the world to me, and I’m well aware that although we drive each other absolutely crazy from time to time it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t all go to the mat for each other (and we have). There are perhaps three friends that I would also consider family and would do pretty much anything for. On the other hand, I have family members that are so emotionally removed from me that I wonder if I would recognize them in a crowd. There are others that I would like to NOT recognize in a crowd, but I hear that maybe I would be impolite by doing so. Are Thanksgiving and Christmas really obligations for me to welcome said relatives and make small talk? I think I’d rather be stuck in the elevator.

I'm with you, bear.

I’m with you, bear.

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No

Just no.  Supreme Court, do you even remember what it was like when you were human?  Tired of the supreme arrogance of five angry men.

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Randomly June

1.  It’s sweat weather again, so I’m happily hibernating inside.

2.  Unless I have to go out, which I did when I went food shopping.

3.  It’s funny how you can predict the way people will navigate a car the way they navigate their shopping carts.  Maybe funny is the wrong word.

4.  Why do sponges require so much room on the supermarket shelf?  Can there really be that many varieties and magical qualities that deem such disparate price structures?  We’re talking about washing dishes, not engineering a space shuttle.

5.  I remembered to buy bird seed for the outdoor feeder.  This should make the birds happy, because they’ve been perching on top of the empty feeder and nonchalantly throwing an accusatory and hurt look through the windows at me.

6.  It should also make the chipmunks happy.

7.  Someone told me it’s good to have chipmunks because it means you won’t have mice since they’re mortal enemies and chipmunks always scare away mice.  What they didn’t tell me is chipmunks make more elaborate tunnel systems than the entire Stalag 17 enactment.  I think my foundation is beginning to sink.

8.  Last night I stood outside and watched the fireflies.  Except that I call them lightning bugs even though fireflies sounds more descriptive and romantic.

9.  I went outside because I had a lot on my mind (still do) and it was rather enchanting to watch all the blinking and twinkling among the trees and bushes, until I remembered that it’s nothing more than a bug booty call.

10. I wonder how lightning bugs do with chipmunks.

 

"Ssshhh....don't tell her the lightning bugs are breakfast."

“Ssshhh….don’t tell her the lightning bugs are breakfast.”

 

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