A FLOCK OF FINCHES, A DOVE, AND A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

It was a super busy day at the feeder and for once, they didn’t all fly off as soon as I picked up the camera. It was a day for Cowbirds sharing the feeder with a little red House Finch.

It was also a day when a big Mourning Dove came to the deck and sat peacefully on the deck railing. He waited politely until the Cowbirds moved on.

After that, he settled down into the flat feeder.

Goldfinches
Goldfinch flock

The Mourning Dove was still in the flat feeder almost two hours later. He doesn’t seem to worry about all the hawks who are hunting for big fat doves … or for that matter, squirrels.

Cowbird and House Finch or maybe it’s a Purple Finch … I can’t tell the difference
Cowbirds and House Finch

I worry about my birds and squirrels. I understand the hawks and the fishers and the coyotes and the Bobcats need their dinner too. Not every animal eats seeds.

Dove on the deck rail

ENVY OF WORCESTER COUNTY – CAROLINE’S CANNABIS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Envy

Caroline’s Cannabis Uxbridge Dispensary, aka “the pot shop” is a winner.

It’s not bringing in huge crowds that the “closer to Boston” places are getting, but we live in the middle of Worcester County and don’t have crowds unless it’s the 4th of July and fireworks are included.

Standing on line on Wednesday (or was it Thursday?) was pleasant. People waiting on the steps of the local marijuana dispensary seem to be in a good mood. If it was raining or snowing, maybe less good, but the sun was out and it was not too cold. So, we chatted.

There was complete agreement that this shop needs an area in which to buy food. For the warmer months, a few tables with umbrellas along the woodsy side of the parking lot.

A bakery on the left, coffee and doughnuts on the right. It seems a waste of space to have a walk-in OR drive-through pot shop without tasteful goodies. For that matter, merely having a decent bakery in a town would be a winner.

We don’t have a dedicated bakery (not counting doughnut shops of which we have many) unless you count the mini bakeries in the grocery stores. The best bakery for bread (not cakes — Hannaford has better cakes) is at Walmart, but that’s a long drive for us. Seven or eight miles through miscellaneous towns though I suppose we could take the longer, faster road. It takes the same amount of time to get there, but you feel like you are going faster.

I’m pretty sure Caroline, the charming entrepreneur that she is, may yet find a way to coerce the lady who bakes the world’s BEST cupcakes (she is in Uxbridge already) to set up a small outlet in the shop. The same baker also makes chicken pot pies that are expensive but delicious and big enough for at least two, maybe three people. Or one big guy with an appetite.

She could open up a whole restaurant for that matter and be the best non-Asian restaurant in the valley and absolutely the finest appetizers, too.

If that didn’t work out, any one of the local (NOT Dunkin Donuts) doughnut shops who also serve good coffee could bake a bunch of extra doughnuts and hire someone to serve coffee … and voilà. A few tables outside for nice, warm days. Something good to smoke. Ahh. Joy and peace shall reign in our valley.

The shop is at the edge of town, very close to the main road that goes up to Worcester and down to Rhode Island. Convenient for everyone. It also has a parking lot. It’s not a huge lot, though. When we got there on Friday, there were no spaces. There’s room to expand and I hope they do.

I was afraid they’d put the shop in the middle of town and we’d never be able to get to the grocery without a long, slow drive.

I bought a little bar of dopey chocolate while I was there the first time (when I actually got inside). It isn’t improving my back because nothing will fix that. On the other hand, I am sleeping like the dead and waking up in a lot less pain.

All my muscles have loosened up. My spine is a disaster, but the muscles are relaxing and that’s great. I eat two little squares of chocolate when I get into bed. I don’t get stoned — or if I do, who could tell because I’m out for the count. I don’t even fall asleep.

First, I’m awake and with no warning, I’m out cold for a solid five hours, waking up only to go tot he bathroom and crawl back into bed. Now, add some yummy fatty food to make me a happy and well-rounded camper.

Getting to the nuts and bolts of the shop, they have a decent selection. Not huge. And they run out by later in the day, so if you want the full selection (they have a pretty big menu and you can order, if they don’t have what you want), you probably want to get there before lunchtime.

Everyone was extremely pleasant and as you might expect, laid back.

For how many of my younger years did I dream of legal pot shops? It’s like Garry and his new hearing: why didn’t that come 30 or 40 years ago? Well, at least something good has happened. We can’t change the government yet, but at least we can sleep better while we wait.

Are we the envy of the little towns of Worcester Country? Maybe.

PLEASE FORGIVE AND CONDONE. IT’S JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Condone

This is a short note because I forgot, we have to be out of here most of the day. The exterminators are coming to do the interior, so we have to get the dogs outside and us out of the house too. We need to be gone for four hours. What we can do for four hours in Uxbridge will be interesting, but we have to be gone completely until the pesticides dry and are safe. Also, they need to set traps for mice. Spring is here, or at least the bugs and the mice are here.

Mice. Ants. Whatever else crawls or scuttles. After which it dries and is safe for pets and their people.

Exterior. The place is not much bigger than my living room, but there’s a storage area in back.

Excuse this whole week.

For that matter, forgive me the entire month. It has been nothing but doctor’s visits, follow-ups, and shopping for something or other.

Meanwhile, Garry had a small “piece” of something removed from his face. I (and the doctor) think it’s nothing, but it’s ugly and it changed color, so it was time for the dermatologist. We’re supposed to get a callback today on results, but it might be Monday since we will be somewhere in Uxbridge, counting the hours and minutes.

New bird in town – the Brown-headed Cowbird.

We got a new set of birds: the Brown-headed Cowbirds. A pair of them. They are surprisingly tame, which is apparently typical of them. They don’t usually live in oak woods, but they do like feeders. Anyway, the most interesting thing about them is they do NOT build their own nests. Ever. They are nest stealers. And they are pretty large birds, especially compared to the Finches, Titmouse, and Chickadees, all of whom are little feathery fluffers.

I think maybe we’ll go back to Caroline’s Cannabis shop. I want to see if I can take some better pictures. The ones I got are mediocre at best. Maybe I can stop at Hannaford and find something interesting for dinner too.

I have a piece coming on the shop as soon as I like the pictures.

Meanwhile, in a determined effort to make some money in this quaint, but poverty-struck town, Uxbridge has voted “yes” on the very first “drive through” pot shop in Massachusetts. I don’t know if there are any other places with drive-through shops, but this town needs money. Badly. They are taking an extra 10% in town taxes on top of the 20% the state is already taking. It’s cheaper to buy it off the street. A lot cheaper. My son pointed out that when the dope sellers saw the prices in the shops, they just dropped their prices.

Everyone on the waiting line at the pot shop thought they should also open a bakery. Cupcakes would be a nice touch, but meanwhile, Hannaford is getting some extra business.


Competition is good for business.


They also have the most interesting blown-glass bongs I’ve ever seen. I might buy one because they are lovely.

So I hope you will condone my absence. We are pretty much out of time. They were supposed to come later, but there were cancellations and earlier is definitely better for us AND the dogs.

I’ll try to get to comments this evening after dinner. And maybe some pictures. The dam in town is gorgeous, almost at flood stage.

THE CANAL FLOWS PAST US – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Friday: CANAL

We live in the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor which is sort of like a national park but without the funding. That’s the Blackstone Valley for you. Incredible historic areas which are unique to this continent.

Little bridge and locks over a tiny canal

Mills and a river with many canals and locks that rolls along for miles by the river. Sometimes, the river and the canal are one unit. When the water gets rough, the two parts divide into two portions, one having locks to allow barges to deal with waterfalls and white water, the other just the river. Uxbridge has one of the larger sections of a free-flowing canal.

Canal and Blackstone River where they separate and become two streams.

In Worcester, they actually buried the canal under its streets. Worcester is an ugly little city that is always trying to dress up like a real city and never succeeds. Maybe because of its history of putrefaction, factories, river pollution, sewage pollution and some of the ugliest architecture I’ve ever seen anywhere.

Along the diagonal of the canal

Perhaps NOT burying the canal and polluting the river might have made them a more attractive location. We tried to buy a really lovely house up there, but no bank would finance it. It wasn’t that the house wasn’t a beauty. It was glorious and for us, cheap. But the banks wouldn’t finance anything up there. They said: “Buy somewhere else.”

And that is how we wound up in The Valley. By the river and the canal.

Steps to the canal

You cannot live in this valley and be further than a quarter of a mile from the river, a tributary, a stream, pond, or a canal. We have more parks than grocery stores and banks combined. We have herons, swans, ducks, geese, and about a million (or more) snapping tortoises in the river. Also, trout and baby trout.

The canal in summer

Finally, fishing is allowed in many places and sometimes, even swimming. Personally, I’m not swimming anywhere near where those snapping tortoises are hanging. I value my toes.

And the river and bridge in winter

This is a beautiful place to live. A little light in the culture department, but if nature does it for you, this is a great place to live.

And in the autumn …

And we do have the country’s first free public library in the middle of town. Just so you know, we used to be a bit snazzier!

Blackstone Canal

SATURDAY’S EARLY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I keep seeing wonderful, exotic birds — who vanish exactly the minute I have my camera in my hand. Are they afraid of the camera? Does it look like a weapon?

It’s eerie. I walk very quietly into the dining room and put the camera on, facing away from the glass. I turn around — they the one I wanted is gone. All the rest are there, but the Cardinal or that big golden woodpecker?

Rainy morning squirrel. I do believe he’s shaking off the water!
I love when they just lay down in the seeds and won’t be moved, no matter how many birds come and try to bump them off the feeder. In this case, a nuthatch got tired of waiting while Mr. Woodpecker rolls in the food.

Flown away. Gone with the wind or at least, a feather.

A plump woodpecker. This one is a Hairy Woodpecker (pretty sure) because he’s bigger and has a long beak.
I missed the big red papa but got a nice look at lovely mom. Not as showy as her scarlet mate, she is still a very pretty bird.

That being said, the birds who are used to the feeder are hanging around long enough for me to choose my shots, which helps. I have enough pictures — including ones I have yet to process — so I can pick and choose and hopefully, get better (or at least different) photographs.

A DAY I THOUGHT I’D NEVER SEE – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m in the kitchen, periodically peeking out the window. There was a big Cardinal out there, but when I picked up my camera, he vanished. I hoped he would come back. Meanwhile, I got some nice squirrel pictures.

A morning squirrel

Meanwhile, I was slowly cooking canna-butter. Did I add too much water? I hope not. At least I got the temperature right. My new telephone arrived, though I haven’t had the energy to open the package yet. Tomorrow. I’m deep into canna-butter today.

Tufted Titmouse

They announced on the news last night that Uxbridge is getting its own pot shop, the third in the state.


Seriously.

Uxbridge.

A pot shop.

A legal pot shop.

In Uxbridge.


And here I am, brewing canna-butter and really hoping it will help with sleep and pain and if it doesn’t fix the pain and the sleep, maybe it’ll improve the quality of my English muffins with my coffee in the morning.

Nuthatch

I never imagined this day would come where I would be legally cooking pot for the legal purpose of using it medicinally. Of course, I never expected to find myself needing it medicinally either. You win some, you lose some.

A different nuthatch — or a different bird? I think maybe a different bird!

The sun came out and the birds are knocking each other off the feeder. I swear they are playing.

It’s warm out. A lot warmer than February 8th should be, but right now, I’m okay. Wondering what exactly I’m supposed to do with the canna-butter after it’s fully prepared. So far, toast is as far as I’ve gotten with it.

Chickadee — he’s outta there!

The sky is finally blue and I got some good shots of a squirrel chowing down in the flat feeder this morning. To get squirrels, I have to get up earlier. It’s the only answer. They don’t linger around much past 9 in the morning and that’s on the late side for them.

Another early squirrel

A pot shop in Uxbridge will be interesting for our one-horse, single-road, Main Street village. They will come from miles around. I’m pretty sure business will pick up. I hope so. Aside from being cool, it will be a massive inconvenience.

At least the fresh donuts will sell better — not like they don’t sell now.

What an interesting summer this is going to be!

THE WOODPECKER WHO WOULDN’T LEAVE – Marilyn Armstrong

Usually, I grab a shot of a woodpecker and he or she is promptly gone. There were no birds early in the day because we had wind so powerful, it moved the big oak trees which isn’t easy when they have no leaves. That’s what woke me this morning — the groaning of the trees. It gave me the shivers and I got up, turned on the coffee, told the dogs to go out.

Downy Woodpecker

Which they did by literally going out the door, turning around and coming directly inside. They think they are fooling me. I can see them laughing as they come in the door.

I let them believe they fooled me. It makes them happy. I also gave them a tiny bacon-flavored treat. It turns out, a tiny treat makes them just as happy as a big one.

More woodpecker

When I first came into the dining room, there wasn’t a bird to be seen. High winds and small birds? Not a good combination, but after another hour, when the winds had calmed, I looked out the dining room doors. There was a Downy Woodpecker hanging on the feeder. He was too small to be a Hairy or Red-bellied — and he didn’t have a red swatch on his head.

I grabbed the camera and took a few pictures and then, he was away. But just as I was removing the SD card and putting in a new one, he was back. When any of the smaller birds tried to come for a bite, they took one look at Mr. Downy … and left.

I took more pictures. Then, figuring I’d shot enough, I put the camera down and went into the kitchen to put away last night’s dishes. Chat with Garry as I toasted muffins and poured coffee … and I realized the little woodpecker was still on the feeder, the longest any single bird has spent on the feeder.

He must have been really hungry because he was there for at least an hour. Sometimes the warblers take up residence for long periods, but it isn’t one warbler, but it’s a small flock which keeps changing birds. One departs, another one lands.  The chickadees sometimes do the same thing.

The birds are getting possessive about the feeders. It’s interesting to watch. They used to all gather, various birds at the same time, but now, they come in groups and they have an agenda. Curious to watch how it changes. Maybe it’s the different food?