I was trying to figure out why I want to draw pictures more than anything else. I was getting complicated when I realized I just wanted a change. I’ve been blogging for 12 years. That’s longer than any job I ever held by at least 7 years. I quite literally needed a change of scenery. Time to do something new.

Hairy Woodpecker — Female (no red on her head)
Red-bellied Woodpecker

It’s not that I’m tired of writing. I don’t think I could be tired of writing, but I wanted to do something new because I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time. I needed the change. I’ve also been cooking daily for just about 53 years, so I’d also love to give up cooking, but sadly, I have no volunteers to take over the job.

I was looking for a complicated reason when the simple reason was I’m tired of doing the same thing and want to do something else. Sometimes, when you strip away the complexities, the answer is simple and obvious.

I probably should have figured it out when I was just as happy watching the birds as I was taking pictures of them. I can stand by the back windows — kitchen or French doors — and just enjoy the dozens of birds that come by for a meal. We have a lot of birds in a lot of colors.

Look how much bigger the Cardinal is than the Downy Woodpecker. The Downy and the Cardinal are both female

\Today I saw something rarely seen in the bird watching world: a Hairy and Downy Woodpecker together on the same pole trying to get at the suet. The Hairy Woodpecker was at least twice the size of the Downy, so it was the Downy who flew to the suet feeder on the other side of the deck. Then along came the brightest red Cardinal I’ve ever seen. He was a color of scarlet so bright there was almost a hint of orange to his color.

European House Sparrow

There were European sparrows and a big Red-bellied Woodpecker. A female Cardinal who had bright red stripes on her wings and a particularly pretty comb on top of her little feathered head. And there were nuthatches — not all of whom were upside-down — and a couple of Chipping Sparrows and the usual assortment of Tufted Titmouses, a few young Goldfinches.

Then a red squirrel popped in for a meal and surprised me by leaping from the deck railing to — i have to assume — the ground below. That’s a very big drop — probably about 30 feet. Owen said he has seen them do this many times. \

“Those little red squirrels are fearless,” said Owen. I guess they must be because that is a very long jump for a creature that can’t weight more than 7 or 8 ounces.

This little guy jumped from the deck railing to the ground!

I didn’t take any pictures. I just enjoyed watching. Some of these pictures — big groups of various birds all managing to share the feeders with hardly any squabbling — are difficult pictures to take. The view I get through the doors is very limiting. I can admire the birds, but no matter how many times I’ve tried to take pictures of “the gathering,” it just doesn’t look like anything. I would need something I don’t have and won’t get — a big window without wood frames to dodge around.


So I watch and laugh and they push each other around trying to play “king of the mountain” with the other birds. Mostly, they push around members of their own species. They may overwhelm smaller birds by sheer size, but if there’s going to be a scuffle, it’s almost always with one of their own. It can be hard to tell if they are playing or acting like kids in the back seat.

So goes my day. We’ll be gone all morning tomorrow. It’s tax time. I’m hoping it goes well because we sure could use the money. We need a refrigerator!

Categories: #Birds, #Photography, #Squirrel, Anecdote, Blackstone Valley, Goldfinch, Wildlife, Woodpeckers

Tags: , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Before the Internet really got going, we all used message boards or peer to peer messaging to keep informed and learn new survival skills.
    That was way before survivalism became main stream. Yet, as you say, there is only so much you can write about without repeating yourself. During that time I used to sketch a lot as as a defuse from combat stress. Sketch a memory, burn a memory and there it was, gone.
    Onward to acrylics, when living on a boat. Narrow Boat Art.
    Yet blogging keeps drawing me back. As it will for you Marilyn.


    • I’m not planning to entirely give it up, but I need to do other stuff too. I used to draw and paint a lot when I was younger, then I had a baby — AND got into photography. Toddlers are terrorists to paints and easels, so I went with photography. This is like going back to what I used to do. Writing is as much who I am as what I do, but I need to clear my brain. I don’t even know what I think anymore. The world has changed so much and I have changed, too. If nothing else, I absolutely need to reconnoiter and figure out how I want to approach whatever is going on Out There in the Big World. The older I get, the less I seem to understand about — well — ANYTHING. These past five years have been one trauma after another. I can’t live in that space all the time. It makes me crazy — not in a good way.

      So how about YOUR paintings, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m on the same page…, i.e. tired of being on the same old page, needing a change. The blog doesn’t do it anymore. Another writer was enthusiastic when I shared with him the title of a book I want to write: “The Theology of the Strongman: Vladimir, Donald, Adolf, Benito, and Sennacherib.”

    It would be similar to “Be Still!” in format — brief essays articulating the spoken and unspoken theology of dominance and privilege from the perspective that views sin as claims to exceptionalism and denial of
    “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”

    Thanks for a timely reflection on change that really is “for the birds.”


    • I began to realize I was writing the same material. After 12,000+ posts, even I’m tired of me. I didn’t want to just quit, but I also didn’t want to just keep plowing on. The idea of exceptionalism as “the spoken and unspoken theology of dominance and privilege from the perspective that views sin as claims to exceptionalism and denial of “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” is a relevant and meaningful, EVEN to people who don’t have a fixed religious point of view. I think we can ALL relate to it, especially considering the state of the world right now where Those People really ARE trying to rule the world.

      Brilliant concept. Absolutely brilliant!


  3. I think we all need a change from time to time to stop us getting too comfortable in our ruts! I’m glad you found painting but also glad you continue to share these beautiful birds with us through your blog 🙂 I envy you your cardinals as we don’t get them here and they are so vivid!


    • You can always see those cardinals, even from a considerable distance. That bright scarlet is hard to miss — except maybe in autumn when the trees are bright.

      I’m glad to find something different to do. I was feeling very stale. I know not everyone is all that interested in my drawing, but taking pictures and number and dating everything lets me keep track of what I’ve done and also see the progress I’ve made. AND — I’m having fun. I needed to do something fun. It has been a long hard few years and the next ones don’t look like they will be a lot easier. Time to make my own fun.


  4. And.. these photos in this blog are your best!! They look great. Or are they paintings? ;o)


    • Sometimes, when the come out really well, they do look like paintings, though it isn’t the processing. I just realized a while ago that I had taken pictures of every bird that stood still long enough for me to focus, Until some new ones come around, it was really time to do something else. We ALL need to shift focus sometimes, just to keep from getting locked into place.


  5. I feel the same way, Marilyn. I think Zoe has helped trigger this. I’m spending so much more time outside and also trying to work to get some of my completed books in publication.. I’ve been putting it off too long. Just sent one off to a talented artist to perhaps do a cover and meeting with a printer sometime this week for another project and will present it to him..Keep painting…


    • I’m glad you are trying to get started on other projects too. You’ve been blogging almost as long as I have and after a while, you just feel like anything you say, you’ve said before. I was finding my new posts looked just like the old ones and it seemed pointless to write the same stories again. I used to paint and draw — but it was before Owen was born. So that makes it more than 52 years ago. It’s coming back to me, though I have to admit, my hands are not liking it nearly as much as my head. The arthritis that stopped me from playing piano hasn’t gone away, so when they start to really hurt, I have to stop for the day. If I’m cautious, they won’t get a lot worse.

      Being old is SO annoying, isn’t it?


  6. Sometimes it is the simplest reason. I am glad you found sketching, it seems to be giving you a lot of pleasure and it’s another way to enjoy the local birds and wildlife I guess, trying to sketch them.
    I have very poor luck photographing wildlife even though we are surrounded by it. It is largely nocturnal and I have terrible night vision.
    Naomi has called me outside a couple of times at night to see a mother possum with a baby in our big gum tree but there is no way I could photograph them even if they stopped still long enough.
    She takes Teddy out for a last walk before bed because when he goes outside all he wants to do is look for possums. She sees wallabies, potoroos, rabbits and possums everywhere. I guess we could try to set up cameras to capture them but I don’t think it would do them justice. Sometimes you just have to enjoy them and not worry about anything else.


    • You can set up cameras that will detect motion and take pictures for you without scaring the wildlife. They are called “game or wildlife” cameras. Very similar to surveillance cameras, but designed to not send a beam that scares creatures away.

      The problem is that good cameras aren’t cheap and the cheap cameras don’t take great pictures. BUT even the cheapest cameras see well at night and you will be amazed at what is roaming around your property at night. It’s how I discovered the raccoon and the flying squirrels! Not great pictures, but really interesting. And that WAS a very cheap camera. If I get rich (hah!) I might invest in a better one that shoots in color.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember your flying squirrel photos. I’d love to get a camera like that. Maybe I will in the future.


        • The camera was something like $60. Not expensive at ALL. It took a little fiddling to figure out how it worked, but we figured it out in about an hour. So the pictures aren’t great, but they aren’t terrible either and the results are really interesting. Given the kind of wildlife you have, I bet you would have a lot of fun with one. We attached it to the back wall on the deck, but you can hang them in trees or stand them almost anywhere. They are very sturdy and don’t care about rain, either..

          Liked by 1 person

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