TROOPS OF SQUIRRELS ATTACK RETIREE – Marilyn Armstrong

Gazing out of her bedroom window, she nothing that each feeder had two or three squirrels clinging to it and there were more of them on the deck and on the railing.

“This,” she said to herself, “Is ridiculous. How many of them ARE there?” She opened the window and yelled out the window, but the squirrels ignored her. They didn’t even twitch a tail.

So, barefoot and lacking eyeglasses, she trundled to the kitchen, opened the back door and yelled at the squirrels. There was a wild reaction as squirrels appeared from behind the rails, under the rails, under the deck, on and atop the feeders … and it turns out there were half a dozen chipmunks there, too.

Squirrel on the railing

One big one, the biggest, fattest, most hostile of the squirrel gang stood his ground. She finally opened the door and tried pushing him off the railing. That was when the cadre of apparently karate-trained squirrels came at her from every direction.

Only white bones were left on the deck, left for the sun to whiten and the sun to bleach. The retiree was done in by squirrels and a few chipmunks.

NEW PICTURES OF THE LOUNGING SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

To the best of my knowledge, squirrels are the busiest animals in the world. They are eating, jumping, climbing, leaping, running. Busy, busy, busy. When whatever tore down our feeder tore it down, it was full, so Owen just put it on the deck.

Relaxed squirrel

All the birds and the chipmunk and the squirrels came and ate from it sitting on the deck. Apparently we don’t need to hang it. Just pour the seeds on the ground or leave the feeder on the deck. I makes photography kind of weird — sort of impossible — but the critters are happy. As long as none of them is a black bear. That would ruin the party.

Old-fashioned squirrel at rest

I might fend off a raccoon, but I’m pretty sure me and a bear would be “Bear – 1, Marilyn – 0.” Although maybe if one of them tore down the deck THEN the insurance would pay for it. One can dream, right?

So today, after everything ate their hearts out, the squirrel who had spent probably four hours chomping through probably three or four pounds of seeds, basically without stopping to breathe, decided he’d had enough.

Graphic squirrel

That’s right. The squirrel had eaten so much he couldn’t eat any more. A miracle, is it not. He tried to launch  himself into the woods, but he was pretty full and I guess too tired to move very far. So he got to the top of the railing and decided “What the hell, it’s a nice, sunny day. I think I’ll hang here for a while. Yawn.”

Thus I got these cool pictures of one squirrel too tired from trying to eat 10 pounds of food in one morning. He could see me fine. He watched me, I took pictures of him and he was just too well fed and full of seeds to go anywhere.

DEATH OF THE LAST BIG BIRDFEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

When Owen came upstairs this morning, he looked out the window and realized the birdfeeder was missing. It’s a very big feeder and (used to) hold almost 20 pounds of seeds. We had the feeders down for a few weeks and only put them back a couple of days ago.

Not only was the feeder gone, but the bracket that held it was torn off the oak stanchion, We didn’t have the camera up, but it had to be a big racoon … or a bear. We do have bears, but so far, they haven’t bothered us. And they won’t bother us … unless we keep feeding them. They apparently habituate quickly and lose their fear of people in a hurry. These are black bears, the smallest of North American bears … but even a small bear is a lot stronger than a person.

Whatever took the feeder down was strong. I hope it was a racoon. I’m not ready to deal with bears. Both raccoons and bears not only tear down feeders, but frequently steal them entirely, tucking them under their arms and taking them home to the nest..

Aw, c’mon! That’s not fair! Feeders are not cheap!

Owen found ours on the ground. It’s pretty bent up, but at least the bracket is in one piece and he can probably straighten out the rest of it, more or less. I don’t think the birds will care if it’s bent. I’m not sure what else to do, but I’m thinking of just tossing seed to the ground and let everyone have a go at it without having to climb onto the deck.That would minimize photography, but I’ve gone through four feeders this season … and it’s only the end of June.

Raccoons are not true hibernators, but grown ones store up fat so that they can sleep through most of the winter. The problem is, our weather is getting warmer. Will winter be cold enough for bears to hibernate? Or will they be coming after the feeders and trash cans all through the year?

Sketchy Goldfinches

So, for now, since we have a lot of feed, we will put it on the ground below the deck. Everything can eat without climbing the deck. Bears are big and strong. If the Duke goes after a bear, it will not go well for the Duke.

I’ve run of money. I can’t afford more feeders. I’m worried it might have been a bear because so many have been seen locally. Bears also mean finding secure places to store trash cans. Bears can break into sheds, or for that matter, houses.With such warm winters, even a hibernating bear might not sleep soundly and come out for a midnight snack. 

AT LEAST IT’S A CHIPMUNK – Marilyn Armstrong

He is a chipmunk, but he’s a tiny little thing, maybe the size of the palm of my hand. He always comes alone, and if there are no birds or squirrels (or photographing people) around, he looks for fallen seeds on the deck. In fact, he is a “Least Chipmunk,” a rather miniaturized version of the big guys.

First I thought he was a baby, but he is the same size he was in February.

A least chipmunk

More seeds and I’m so hungry

He’s watching me doing his portrait

The last two times he visited, he somehow managed to get up onto the feeder. The big chipmunks seems to have disappeared. Possibly eaten by bigger predators? The big ones make a proper dinner, but this little guy is hardly worth the effort.

Portrait of a tiny chipmunk

Related to squirrels, flying squirrels, and chipmunks, he’s like a miniature version of a normal chipmunk.

Good meal, wasn’t it?

He sees me taking pictures. He watches me while he eats. When he fills his mouth pouches with seeds, he quickly leaves. He has figured out that I’m not a predator, but you never know about those birds!

Just think for a moment what a LONG trip it is for this tiny guy. He has to climb from the ground up the rail of the deck — at least 20 feet. Then he found his way onto the deck, then up the rail. Finally, he climbed the center rail and finally, finds a place on the feeder.

LIVING IN THE WILDERNESS? – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP SATURDAY: WILDERNESS


The area in which we live is definitely rural, but I never considered it wilderness until suddenly, after 20 years of receiving packages from every known delivery service, we can’t be found. We have disappeared.

We get notes saying a post office package was “undeliverable.” Undeliverable? It’s not raining or snowing. There are no civil protests or traffic jams. No massive reconstruction projects. Personally, I think they didn’t even try to deliver to us. What happened to the packages? In the last two weeks, almost $600 of Amazon deliveries have had to be refunded to us and the same items ordered elsewhere.

I’m sure this means something, but what? Have our roads been deleted from maps and GPS’s? Has Uxbridge been banned from Mapquest?

Squirrel

I grant you that we live surrounded by woods. We certainly have a good deal of wildlife. Critters include fishers, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, flying squirrels, deer, skunk, chipmunks, coyotes, and foxes. In the air we have eagles, hawks, woodpeckers and every sort of garden bird. In nearby waters we have ducks, geese, herons, and divers — and some of the biggest snapping turtles you’ve ever seen. Nonetheless, these creatures are not crowding our highways or driveway. They live in the woods and unless you have feeders, they have no interest in you.

Oh look! I found a few seeds!

We have paved roads. Even a traffic light! We have a grocery, a couple of banks, hairdressers, and a really big lumber yard. Until recently, all of these made us a town that was still on the map. We aren’t huge, but we are not wilderness. In this same Blackstone Valley we have probably a dozen small towns, fire houses (with fire trucks, too!).

We have police (not many, but enough). We have post offices and drop-off and delivery areas for UPS and Fedex. You can get your nails done — or you could have, back in the “old days” before March 2020 — or get a tattoo. There were two dry-cleaners and a floor installer and TWO places that framed pictures.

Yet still, no one can find us.

It’s amazing after living here for 20 years and getting daily deliveries that suddenly, we don’t exist. A bit startling, too.

LIFE’S A MESS SO LET’S MAKE BREAD – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

Fandango’s Provocative Question #72


From Fandango:

Things are pretty screwed up right now. The world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The United States now has had almost 1.9 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 108,000 have died due to the virus, far and away more cases and deaths than any other country.

There is significant civil unrest and there are massive protests in the streets all across our country over our inability to come to grips with America’s original sin of slavery and the social and political inequalities that continue to persist 150 years after slavery in America ended.

And the U.S. has a madman for its president who is threatening to deploy the American military against American citizens on American soil.

So for this week’s provocative question, I’m going to try to shift your focus from the depressing to the exciting by asking you this simple question:


Life is insane. I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted and I’m pretty sure so is everyone else. I think if I were 30 years younger, I might be excited and more involved, but I’ve gotten on in years and I don’t have that amount of energy. Not even after a good night’s sleep and I don’t think the energy is coming back in this lifetime.

I want to help more, but I have limits. So, I write. That’s probably what I do best anyway. I write about right and wrong. I try to explain at least some of the history that has brought us to this time and place. I’m glad to help explain how this exploding country didn’t “just happen” because of one or several recent incidents. It has been growing and intermittently exploding since the colonies became the United States.

The last time the rioting started, Garry and I were living in Roxbury, aka “The Bury” which is a Black neighborhood. It is becoming (gradually) more mixed. I was an early mixer. Since Garry had always been the one dark guy in white neighborhoods, I thought it was time for me to be the white one in a Black neighborhood. Our ten years in Roxbury were wonderful. It was a great place to live and if it weren’t for The Big Dig, we might still be there.

Where Main Street ends – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Right now, I’d rather be in this little town. We do not lack our share of nutters and wackos, but I doubt you could get enough people together in one location to have a riot. It’s just not that kind of town although if the water mains go down again, that might see some yelling and carrying-on. As to national events? Everything is too far away to feel relevant to most people here.

We are secluded, surrounded by trees, garden birds, squirrels, raccoons, and flying squirrels. Hawks, owls, and eagles. Bobcats, foxes, and coyotes as well as baby squirrels and chipmunks who look like snacks to the hawks, bobcats, foxes, and coyotes. That’s the way of nature. You can’t blame the predators for getting hungry any more than you can blame the squirrels for eating all the birdseed. It’s just the way it is.

So in the midst of turmoil and trying to survive COVID, I’m home. A lot. In the name of retaining sanity, I’m looking forward to the arrival of my canisters to hold the flour, and a pound of active dry yeast. After which I’m going to bake my way to mental peace.

It’s not exciting. Not world-shaking. No airports or major travel involved. Just warm, yeasty dough and a lot of flour. I’m looking forward to baking — and consuming — the world’s most expensive bread.

BY RIVER AND CANAL – GARRY ARMSTRONG

TIME OUT FOR SQUIRRELS!

I took a lot of pictures along the river. Marilyn is processing a half dozen at a time.

Meanwhile, some squirrel and bird news! In the last week, our deck has been covered by dozens of baby squirrels. I think that the mamas and papas took them as soon as they could climb to our deck and said to them: “Be joyful children for on this deck, there is always food.”

The road between the river and canal

Both Owen and Marilyn have gotten up early enough to see the madness. At six-thirty in the morning, they are on the feeders, on the steps, climbing up the pole and down the banister and across the beam. Chasing each other around the deck and actually fighting each other for a place on the feeder.

This morning the decision was made. The feeders will stay empty for a few days. The squirrel babies will have to discover the forest and the trees. The birds haven’t even had an hour when they could feed. I have a feeling (but no pictures) that we’ve been massively hit by flying squirrels all night. They too have probably been breeding up a storm and are bringing their floating kidlings to the deck for seedy delights.

I feel sorry for the birds who looked downright mournful when they couldn’t get any seeds. They sat on the railing looking at the empty hooks.

We didn’t mind some squirrels, but this was a three-ring squirrelly circus. All they needed was a marching band.

And some of those squirels fly!

If we feel things have calmed down, we’ll try putting the feeders up next week. This is the time of year when you can see birds you’ll never see the rest of the year. Maybe the break will calm the creatures. We’re also going to try and buy a lot of corncobs for the squirrels. Maybe if they get something they like better, they’ll leave the feeders?

Of one thing I am sure: all the feeding has raised the squirrel population here from a few squirrels to an awful lot of squirrels, both leapers, and flyers!

BIRDS, MATING SQUIRRELS, AND OTHER CREATURES – Marilyn Armstrong

When I got up early this morning — with every intention of going directly back to bed — but I took a look at our deck and started to laugh. I have never seen that many squirrels at one time, ever. They were chasing each other in circles on the deck, chasing each other up and down the deck staircase and along the deck rails. It was very funny to see and it just ruined my morning nap.

After that, I went and turned on the coffee. I had put out new food yesterday and there were a lot of birds. Most of them were familiar. Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Chipper Sparrows and another sparrow that looks almost exactly the same, but has a redder color in the strip above his eye. Sometimes bird-watching gets a bit too detailed for me, Even looking at their pictures in my books, I couldn’t see a difference.

I got some pictures of the Blue Jays in the woods, which is a lot harder than getting them on the feeders, and just as I was packing up, a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak showed up. Stood on top of the feeder giving me his “good side.”

Up in the tree 1

Up in the tree – 2

A good day to enjoy the woods

I didn’t imagine he’d hang around long enough for me to get his picture, but he did. Not great views. The angle wasn’t interesting — but with wildlife, you take what you can get.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

I really wanted him to do something interesting

He didn’t do anything interesting. He just ate.

Considering the rest of how life and the country are going, all I can do is give my thanks that I have birds and critters to help me remember that this is my planet and I have a right to be here, even if I’m considered to be too old to be worth saving.

THE SQUIRREL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Most of the squirrels eat early in the morning and occasionally at twilight, but now and again, we get a midday squirrel.

Most of these look as if they’ve been injured. This one has a tail that looks like something took a bite out of the middle. Otherwise, he seems okay. No big scars or wounds, but he has had a fight with something. A fox maybe?

Getting a good scratch on the big rail

A freshly filled feeder and a hungry (always hungry) squirrel

He also wants to live on the deck. Short of going on to the deck and acting like I’m going to “remove” him from the feeder, he is willing to spend the entire day on the deck including lounging in the sun on the railing.

 

DUKE, THE PIN UP GIRL, AND THE GYRENE – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The title probably suggests one of those old “B” films from old Hollywood. It was usually the second feature and ran while we scooted from our front row seats to get hot dogs, popcorn, and a Godzilla-sized Coke.  You could hear giggles and lots of frantic searching for coins to pay for our goodies.

This is the 2020 version of that old relic which usually featured John Wayne, Claire Trevor, and Ward Bond/John Payne/John Carroll in the title roles.

Duke

Duke, of course, is the newest member of our furry family. He’s the one who’s injected new energy into the household even if today’s pictures suggest otherwise. Duke is always good for laughs as our court jester.  He’s the very randy suitor of Princess Bonnie who’s very particular about her men.  Bonnie, no doubt, was dreaming about some of the passionate lover affairs from her gilded past.

The eyes of the Duke

Bonnie, it turns out, is also a cover girl. She’s “Miss May” in the calendar on a kitchen wall. She’s the face that could launch a thousand ships. Bonnie has more internet followers than the tweeter-in-chief, much to his agitated dismay.

Then, there’s the Gyrene. The young Gyrene. Garry Armstrong in his USMC uniform – almost 61-years ago when Dwight Eisenhower was the Commander-In-Chief.

Armstrong, the Private E-1, who somehow enlisted right after high school graduation,  from comfy, cozy Long Island to the heat, bugs, and D.I. hell of Parris Island, the USMC training base. Young Garry, inspired by John Wayne movies, envisioned a career as a Marine and then life as a movie star. Great expectations all the way!

Garry’s hearing disabilities, miraculously, were not uncovered until months and many exams in basic training.  Leather-necked drill instructors were dismayed to learn of Garry’s hearing problems. They had him branded as a wise-ass Yankee “boot” who laughed in the face of their heavy-handed efforts to terrorize all the young Marines in that long-ago summer and autumn of ’59.

Garry, the young Gyrene in 1959

This came on the heels of a national scandal about alleged harsh treatment of fuzzy faced Marines in the swamps that surrounded Parris Island.

Garry’s departure, on medical grounds, from the Marines left many of those hard-nosed Sergeants melancholy,  deprived of their favorite target to toughen the young Leathernecks.  It was a story retold many times in years to come. Oo-rah!

The face that launched a thousand cookies!

Sixty-one years later, Bonnie and Duke are unmoved by Garry’s colorful recollection of his brief time in the United States Marine Corps. They are recharging their batteries for another marathon barkathon later today and tonight, a major barkathon to wreak havoc on the now old gyrene and his bride.

The furries show NO RESPECT for the old, mumbling and grumbling leatherneck.

Semper Fi!

PORTRAITS OF THE DUKE – Marilyn Armstrong

He gave me his good side and I took pictures. Those are the eyes that make him popular. He is inordinately cute and he thinks he’s absolutely fierce. He greets everyone as if it’s the first time.

His eyes watch me. I might go to the kitchen!

Did I hear a squirrel?

CHANGING SEASONS: A MONTH OF PLAGUE & FREEZING RAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, April 2020

I don’t know how long we’ve been isolated. It was just a few days after my birthday in March, so six weeks, give or take a few days or maybe half a week. Who can tell? When you are inside all the time and never go anywhere at all, not even the grocery store, all the days are alike and it gets hard to remember what happened … or when. Or sometimes, even IF it happened.

China, east Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

I’ve been grateful to the birds, the squirrels, the flying squirrels. Even the raccoons. They are all eating an awful lot of food. Normally, there’d be plenty to eat outside, but we haven’t had two sunny days in a row. It has been very cold, windy, and endlessly rainy and gray. So, nothing is growing. No hint of leaves. no flowers. Just mud.

My orchids have grown well or had been but the lack of sun has been rough and I finally broke down and bought a grow light. The poor things have been living in a dark closet.

And finally, I’d like to say a final goodbye to Gibbs. May you live on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge in peace. We’ll meet again … maybe, I hope.


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Please visit Pauline’s beautiful garden at Living in Paradise. She and Jack have been hard at work and as always it’s a visual delight.

Lani at Life, the Universe and Lani shares some thoughts and interesting images from her month in Rayong, Thailand.

A Wonderful Sheep brings us a lovely hopeful post with beautiful images of her “side of the mountain” in glorious springtime.

Tish at Writer on the Edge has been busy in her garden and allotment. Please pop over and see the fruits of her green fingers.

Sarah at Art Expedition has not only taken some beautiful photos but also baked the most delicious-looking ….  No. I’m not going to tell you — you have to visit her post to see for yourself.

FAREWELL SQUARES – Marilyn Armstrong

UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

Happy trails to the squares. I’ve made so many that I thought since this is the end of this month of squaring, I’ll just find all the ones I never got around to posting or posted, but forgot I posted them — and give you a mishmash of life here in the cold, wet woods.

So there will be birds and squirrels. Flying squirrels and raccoons. And a few flowers, just for the pretty colors.

THE NIGHT OF APRIL 25TH – Marilyn Armstrong

On top of the feeder and in the air – Flying Squirrels

The flying squirrels were super active last night. Flying and feeding, closing the “wings.” They were all over the feeders until the raccoons showed up and took over. You can actually see the squirrels body in the big wings and he is definitely ON TOP!

Two Flyers, with probably more in back and on the other feeder

On the march! Foof awaits … but not much