Listen up: bird & dog tale

August 22, 2020

Over the past several years, my partner has bemoaned the scarcity of magpies in our yard. We’d see them throughout the neighborhood, but they weren’t spending much time in our yard anymore. We missed their raucous energy.

Then one day last month (which just happened to be our wedding anniversary), we noticed a whole bunch of magpies in our neighbors’ backyard, their trees, and on the fence between us. We’d hit the magpie jackpot! But why?

Rainbow peering through the fence at magpies frolicking in our bird bath. August 15, 2020

 

Well, according to our neighbor, when he came home that day to find his yard filled with magpies, he was equally puzzled. Then he went to feed his dog and couldn’t find the nearly-full bag of chow, which was also a puzzle. So he stepped out in the yard and pieced together the sequence of events. His doggo had dragged the bag of food into the yard, scattering the kibble everywhere. The smart corvids had quickly found the treasure.

They also immediately found our bath and took turns tidying up.

August 15, 2020

And as a sign of their appreciation for the use of our facilities, they began leaving gifts for us on the deck rail and tucked away on the steps.
       

The best news is they’re still hanging around and we’re treated to magpie sightings every day.

Four Black-billed Magpies. August 15, 2020

We salute you, Rainbow Dash. Pure genius.

the Monday crowd

Marcel assesses the activity. September 28, 2020

Cat and squirrel face off through the glass as a House Finch dines in the background. Meanwhile, a fish (window sticker) swims across the scene. Would’ve been even more awesome if a reptile wandered into the picture.

Guess it could happen…the day’s still young.

Befuddled

It’s 6:00 pm. How did that happen?! But the more pressing question is: why did the photographer who posted this photo on Pixabay tag it with “joy”?

Image by Art Skoo from Pixabay

Depending on your perspective, various words could describe this little boy’s expression and body language. Possible interpretations? I think he could be dazed, sad, tentative, or demoralized. Heck, maybe his arm’s tired from holding that plane and he’s just worn out. Nowhere do I see evidence of joy.

Anyway, I popped into WordPress-land to post something before this day completely passed me by and instead of a quick in-and-out, I spent twenty minutes analyzing this photo.

Hmm. Maybe there’s a lesson here for where the day went . . .

Guinea pigs for the win

I keep meaning to write a funny post about magpies and the neighbor’s dog, complete with lots of photos I took several days ago. But my energy level’s still not there (in large part because we haven’t been able to open windows today due to wildfire smoke which means the house is approximately two hundred degrees).

Instead, I went to Pixabay and found a photo that made me smile.

I hope these little pigs also bring you a smile.

Happy #Caturday!

Greetings from my friend, Marcel.

July 2020.

This peanut butter kitty could definitely kick our asses with his enormous feet, but Marcel prefers to snuggle. In fact, he’s in ecstasy when I rub the the bottoms of those long feet and often drools during our massage sessions.  Gotta admire his unapologetic hedonism.

Family dynamics

Presenting . . . A Brief Exchange Between a Mother and Son

Me: Hey, if right now you said, ‘Mom, let’s go run,’ I would run.
Son: Really? You’d run?
Me: Yep. (Immediately feels a weakening of resolve ). Or, I could have an edible and a beer, and get in the tub.
Son: Oh, do that. That sounds way better!
Narrator: This concludes our straight-forward story. No twist, no surprise ending.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Blurred masterpiece

I went in search of a quotation, thinking I’d find one about how days can truly feel as if they passed in a blur. Instead, I found something much better. A quote that makes me laugh:

Western Scrub Jay. Dec 8, 2017

Photography is painting with light! The blurs, the spots, those are errors! But the errors are part of it, they give it poetry and turn it into painting. And for that you need as bad a camera as possible! If you want to be famous, you have to do whatever you’re doing worse than anyone else in the whole world. ~ Miroslav Tichy

 

I’m pretty sure I achieved that last line. Well, except for the fame part.

No translation necessary

Adult entertainment store. Uppsala, Sweden. May 4, 2017.

I’m a bit slow on the uptake today. I was thinking this image was perfect for Wordless Wednesday, until I realized the whole point of this photo was the word. That one, silly word. LUSTGARDEN. Say it with me: LUSTGARDEN. Wasn’t that fun?**

Anyway, I’m posting it because it all makes me laugh. Take that, Wednesday! I’m that kinda rebel!

**Oops. I checked a pronunciation site and apparently I’m pronouncing it incorrectly. It isn’t, as I thought and hoped, looostgarden. Darn.

#Caturday: This is a stickup!

Marcel. December 28, 2017

Just to be clear, the only weapons Marcel has in that box are claws, teeth, and a whole lot of tangled ribbon. Your wallets are safe.

On the other hand, he does drool. A lot. So to be on the safe/dry side, you might want to back away slowly . . .

Sunday Confessional: a toast to comfort food

Photo by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

I’ve been leaning on comfort food more than usual these days. And I guess it’s time to admit that my dalliances with sourdough toast and strawberry jam have become a daily thing. There might be a day here or there in which I don’t toast my bread and eat it too, but more often than not, I indulge in that crunchy, sweet comfort food.

The best part? I’m completely at peace with my newly acquired discipline.

#Caturday: Portrait of Defiance

It took mere minutes for Marcel to discover the warm laundry just removed from the dryer. And when I went back down with my camera to document his trespass (which will result in white hairs all over my sons’ new dark-colored sweatshirts and socks), Marcel didn’t budge, despite his aversion to cameras.

I guess that cat is more averse to attempts to shame him into moving than he is bothered by the paparazzi. Another guess? There’s a lint roller in my sons’ futures.

In defense of not living in the moment

Lilac bloom on May 17, 2018.

The thermometer currently reads 18 degrees. The sky is gray. It’s snowing and blowing, and is forecast to continue like that through tomorrow morning. I try to live in the moment, to be mindful and present in my life. But right now, in this moment, I’m looking ahead to spring and lilacs in bloom.

Fight me, Pema Chödrön.

On your marks…get set…bake!

My son Zebu had all four wisdom teeth removed yesterday, so I’ve been on ice pack and medication duty. Every 20 minutes, he applies two bags of frozen peas to his chipmunk cheeks. The peas are held in a sling we made using the leg from an old pair of my flannel pajama bottoms which is then tied around his head. After 20 minutes of ice, he goes another 20 minutes without. Ice on, ice off. I’m the timekeeper which means it’s easier to stay close.

So how are we spending our time? Watching the Great British Baking Show, of course.

Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Noel Fielding, and Sandi Toksvig | Netflix

Actually, I’ve never watched the program before even though all sorts of folks on Twitter rave about it. A show about baking? Who cares? I’m the woman who can’t get cakes out of pans in one piece and so spackle with tons of frosting to hold them together. I enjoy eating baked goods, but couldn’t care less how they come about.

Well, I stand corrected. It’s a very interesting and entertaining show. In fact, I haven’t really accomplished much of anything today besides watching those brave people create amazingly beautiful baked goods (along with some Tracy-worthy disasters). Zebu is napping now, but I’m confident later on we’ll tune back in to see how the remaining bakers fare.

The one downside to the Great British Baking Show? It makes me very, very hungry.

Shh, don’t tell my neighbor

For the first time in the 22+ years we’ve lived here, there’ve been multiple bear sightings in our neighborhood. Maybe not so surprising since we’re adjacent to a whole bunch of open space.

I’m not sure who shat this scat, but I could make a guess. But whoever it was did the deed on our neighbor’s driveway. The brand new driveway she’s so particular about that she was recently out there scrubbing and scrubbing at a few oil drips. So when I saw this pile of berry remains I knew she wouldn’t be happy.

But when the pile was still there the next day I realized my neighbor was out of town. Here was my chance! So I went over to photograph the remains before picking it up. (Note: I did not scrub the concrete). I wanted to get rid of the evidence so she wouldn’t know a bear had possibly come calling. My neighbor isn’t exactly wildlife-friendly. She throws rocks at bunnies that “eat my lawn” and last spring purposely drove over a snake she saw in the street in front of her house. (That’s right, she got in her car and started it up for the express purpose of killing a snake. Thankfully, it didn’t die and I helped it escape her wrath, which she then directed at me). I figured if she found out that a bear might’ve taken a dump on her driveway, she’d either be out front with a cannon or would call in the National Guard or Ted Nugent.**

So let’s keep this little story between us, okay?

** Zippy did spot her outside scrubbing at the berry stain.

Mondays gonna Monday

Image by Richard Smith from Pixabay

Happy to report I survived this morning’s visit to the dentist without throwing any punches. Woot! However, the whole thing got off to a rocky start when my sandal strap broke as I walked across the parking lot. I somehow kept the shoe on my foot as the strap slapped against the ground. But then the front desk woman asked for my insurance card and I emptied out my purse searching for my wallet that wasn’t there. The good news is Zippy located it at home.

So here’s the score:
Teeth cleaned without me breaking into tears (yes, this has happened before).
Sandal broken but fixable, I believe.
Wallet back in purse and the bill’s in the mail.

Mondays gonna Monday. All I can do is keep my head down and push ahead. Wishing the same for you.

#Caturday hijinks in four acts

Marcel climbs on top of the scratching post to avoid his brother who wants to beat him up, then briefly stares down at Loki before smacking him on the head.

       

Loki then tries to storm the castle by clawing his way up the scratching post. Marcel looks on with calm detachment as Loki eventually loses his grip and falls back to the floor where he stares in frustration at his brother. So close and yet so far, Loki.

       

Just as quickly as the kerfluffle began, it was over. Both cats are now napping and all is well this Caturday.

Sunday Confessional: I just unpacked a box from my 1996 move

Today I finally, finally cleaned out our storage room. It’s been on my radar for years, but every time I went in to start I’d immediately feel overwhelmed and quit. A huge part of my problem is that it’s SO HARD for me to get rid of perfectly good stuff.

For example, what was in that box from 1996? The label read “Scratch paper.”

An entire box filled with various types of paper: loose-leaf notebook paper, stationary, index cards, note pads, scratch pads, the LOST DOG flyers we made for a friend’s dog who disappeared on our watch, old lesson plans, brand new folders, labels, classroom handouts, etc.

I’d never been able to get rid of it because every time I peeked inside that box I thought about the woman who taught in the room next to mine telling me about traveling to another country where paper was so precious people would smooth out envelopes that arrived in the mail and write letters on the insides. How could I recycle all that perfectly good paper?

Well, today I got tough. Probably not as tough as I should’ve been (because I kept about one-quarter of the paper), but it was a fine start.

And look what gem I uncovered. I love me some vultures and that little pic on the bottom corner of the note pad cracked me up. But is that joke worth a 23-year stay in my basement?

Sunday Confessional: I created a zombie bird!

I realize not everyone shares my love of all things bird, but I’m in awe of those feathered creatures and spend lots and lots of time gazing upon them.

However, my current gaze is not one of admiration. Moments ago when I finally looked closely at this photo I took in May, I was taken aback at how utterly freakish and zombie-like this white ibis appears.  And now I’m gazing at this picture in horror. I can’t look away.

What kind of camera settings were in place to create that dead eye and white-plastic body? Is this the first sign of an ibis-led zombie apocalypse?

Sunday Confessional: I’m having more fun than Marcel

Soon after adopting feline brothers Marcel and Loki in October of 2013, son Zebu vowed to buy me a baby sling to carry our loving, snuggly cats. Despite my frequent reminders of his promise to me, years went by with no sling. And then this past Mother’s Day, Zebu surprised me. It’s safe to say he also surprised Marcel.

This photo was taken in May during Marcel’s initial and longest stint in the sling. But you can tell by his ears that he’s less than thrilled with the situation. I tried putting his brother in it last night and he wasn’t having it. At all. And then Marcel humored me for all of fifteen seconds before escaping.

Maybe they’ve figured out it’s technically a sling for small dogs and are philosophically opposed to debasing their royal cat selves.

Or maybe they just really, really don’t want me carrying them around like babies.

Sunday Confessional: I’m a slow learner

I’ve blogged before about people ghosting me when it comes to picking up free perennials from my yard. In fact, last fall’s episode turned into a huge, time-sucking disaster. After that debacle I vowed to only put plants out at the curb with a FREE sign on them and to let whatever happens happen.

So why did I reach out to the man who’d shown up last fall minutes late for those plants? Because he’d come all that way and left empty-handed (after someone from the neighborhood ended up taking the plants, I guess). But more importantly, I reached out because he seemed like a good guy in need of plants for the non-profit he started. So I texted him the other day and told him what I had available. He immediately replied that he was interested and that he could pick them up Sunday afternoon. He said, “I’ll text you.”

Sure, dude. Watch me age as I wait for that text.

This tortoise photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels seems a good representation of my current emotional state.

So here I am, again, with plants that need to be put in the ground soon. One garbage bag filled with Lamb’s Ear and another bag of Golden Yarrow and Russian Sage.

I’d ask if anyone reading this wants them, but we all know how that would play out.

Today the universe answered my call

This afternoon Zippy and I hiked the Greenhouse Trail in the Chiricahua Mountains. The guide trail notes said the mountain hike was also good for birding, so off we went to scratch our two itches. As we hiked along Greenhouse Creek we heard many bird songs and each time we’d raise our binoculars to scan for the source, hoping to identify one of the over 300 bird species in the region. As one after another (usually brown) bird flitted in and out of our sight before we could make a positive identification, I remembered the words of a birder friend from Anchorage. Anne once said to me, “You’re more of a ducker than a birder.”

And she was right. I do pretty well with the larger, more sedate feathered creatures. Ducks, shore birds, and wading birds are my comfort zone. They give me time to make identifications. Song birds in a forest are much harder for me to ID and today my frustration level went way the hell up.

I don’t know a whole lot of bird songs (shout-out to Mourning Doves and Spotted Towhees for their easily identifiable songs!) and I’m crap with our new guide book, Birds of Southeastern Arizona, because it’s grouped by type rather than by color. Hence my frustration and feelings of inadequacy.

As Zippy and I sat on a log next to the creek (because we’d lost the trail, which is a whole other story), he hoped aloud for birds to come up to us with signs. As in, “Hello, I’m a Brown Creeper” or “Hey, check me out. I’m a Brewer’s Sparrow.”

I replied, “We need primary color birds. Like a Vermilion Flycatcher. We for sure could ID the hell out of that bird.” (Because, in case you didn’t already guess, that bird is primarily bright red.)

Guess what happened a couple minutes after my primary colors plea? A bird flew overhead and into a tree right in front of us. Without any muss or fuss, Zippy and I identified a Western Tanager which looks like this:

Don’t worry, we’re not feeling too full of ourselves. While we did manage the identification, this isn’t exactly a great photo. Still, I wanted to celebrate the fact that once in a while the universe does listen and respond accordingly.