OUT ON THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

It was a busy day on the deck.

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning — even if it’s just to give a treat to the barking dogs — is to look at the feeders. At least one of the feeders usually has a tail, so I figure I’m feeding a squirrel. There’s usually a bird or three on the other feeder, one of which is a woodpecker … and these days, a Blue Jay.

I grew up in New York and Blue Jays were common birds. All garden birds were common and until I started to really look at the birds. Unless it was a hawk or a seagull, they were all “just birds.”

Our little chipmunk
A very common squirrel!
They get hungry too
Downy Woodpecker
Two birds
Wens and Titmouse

It’s funny how I’ve come to become a birdwatcher. I never intended it, but my first sister-in-law was a serious watcher. She used to drag me out of bed before dawn to hear the larks singing.

House Finch

Then, in Israel, I realized that for a week in April, every raptor in Africa flew through Jerusalem on their way to Europe or Asia. They used to come and sit on our windowsills. Some of them became quite tame … until it was time for them to fly on.

Goldfinch is back
Red-Bellied Woodpecker

It was a gradual thing. For a long time, I looked at the birds in the winter yard, yet it took years until I put up feeders. Why did it take me so long to put up those feeders?

The brightest Cardinal in our garden
Blue Jay

I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe because I hadn’t absorbed how endangered this world was and how the beautiful birds were disappearing. I love those birds. They are beautiful, but they are also a symbol. We’ve lost 30 million birds in a decade and will lose another 30 million in five more — or less.

Big Red-bellied Woodpecker
Lady Cardinal

We all need to do the best we can to help where we can. Maybe pay a few cents more for clean energy. Buy some birdseed and feeders. Recycle. We can’t fix everything, but we can do what we can.

MISS MANNERS HERE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Good Morning, Miss Manners

I am 72 years old and I still don’t know which side of the plate one puts forks versus spoons and knives. My son knows because his father taught him, but in my house, my mother — who hated cooking and refused to spend money on paper napkins (she used tissues which stuck to your fingers – yuk!) — basically threw eating implements on the table. We had no manners at all and whatever I’ve learned since childhood is at least good enough to get me through most dinners without everyone staring at me and giggling.

Manners tend to be species oriented. My dogs are very neat and always eat all the stuff they drop on the floor. Birds and squirrels too. None of them worry about where to put the forks and spoons.

On the other hand, I’m pretty persnickety about verbal manners, as in being polite, civil, and not shouting except with enthusiasm. Funny how different we can be about the same thing in different places, isn’t it?

It’s just that being a klutz at dinner will embarrass you, but being an uncivilized nasty asshole — you know, like our President — hurts a lot of other people. I’m not in favor of hurting people’s feelings unless they’ve really gotten under my skin. And it’s not easy to get that far under my skin. In the physical presence of others, I try really hard to be kind and polite. I even try to do it when writing, though I think I’m better in person. Wit can be hurtful and when I write, I too often go for “wit” when maybe I shouldn’t.

The trees are wearing their best manners today too. Our maple tree has a bunch of red leaves on it this afternoon which weren’t there yesterday. If not for the incoming storm, I think another week and the trees would be stunning and definitely better than civil. Downright glorious!

Tell me I’m not the only one who can’t set a table properly, please. I always feel like a total dunce when I’m trying to make the table look “fancy.”

AUTUMN CAME BY FOR THE DAY! – Marilyn Armstrong

Autumn at the Canal and River – October 14, 2019

In a desperate attempt to cut down on email, I put all my emails from blogs onto the Reader and now I’m not getting anything at all and can’t FIND anything even when I look. At least I found this.

It’s hopeless. No matter what I do, I either don’t have anything at all or I have mountains of stuff.

Today we had Autumn. Sunshine and golden trees and everything. We took pictures. Not enough. I’m going to try to get out tomorrow, too because by Wednesday, torrential rain will be back and that will probably finish it off.

These are from both Garry and me, all taken down by the dam and Blackstone River. We had bigger plans, but I needed to hustle home to the bathroom. It turns out, there are none of them anywhere around that park. Not even one of those plastic horrors.

From Garry:

From Marilyn:

HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #44

From Fandango:

“You’re probably familiar with this quote from philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist, George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.“ In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill changed the quote slightly when he said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.“

Or my favorite version of this particular saying:

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ” ― Michael Crichton

So, speaking about what you remember about the past or have learned from history, how would you answer this question:”

Achievement? By the human race?

Right now, I’m having a lot of trouble crediting the human species with any significant event. I suppose it depends on what you think is significant. Would it be something that makes a life for people better? Or for a specific part of the human species better? Even if that “advancement” decimates or destroys other important aspects of the world in which we live? Like, for example, when we learned to plow and created the Sahara desert? And eventually killed ever last living mastodon? Was that an improvement?

Or how about when we broke the sod in the west and created the Dust Bowl? You know all those westerns where the sodbusters are the Good Guys and the ranchers are the Bad Guys? You know — the ranchers were right. We destroyed the prairies.

How about the invention of the government? After the Black Plague, the central government that was created produced giant grain silos and thus managed to feed the starving people after the plague wiped out the serfs — aka, farmers.

So the central government enabled people to rebuild after the worst (known) 100 years of human life or at least the worst time we still know about. But the deep plowing of the soil essentially was the beginning of what we are now experiencing: the ending of the world as we know it.

Will we take from that lesson that few have understood and somehow avoid total annihilation? Shall we yet come up with a world in which we can all live? Not just the human race, but all creatures?

Was the world better when we foraged for food and hunted our meat? I suspect it was. Were humankind’s invention of the railroad, automobile, and the airplane an improvement or was it the beginning of our end?

Do I live with any substantial hope that we will find a way out of this disaster we are in and rebuild a world in which we can live at peace as a part of nature and not its murderer?

I don’t know. Do you know?

We aren’t going to live long enough to see the end result of this madness and I’m not sorry about that. I love this world with its birds and bunnies and squirrels and eagles. With its tigers and lions and the elephants that crush the crops — but they were here before me and they have the right to live, even when it makes our lives more complicated.

Doesn’t every living thing deserve the right to survive? And our grandchildren — do they deserve the right to survive too?

We came out of our caves as killers and so we have remained.

And here’s my answer:

The most significant thing we ever invented were weapons. Significant isn’t, after all, the same as “good.” Or positive. 

THE ZOO ON THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

They announced on the news that another 2 or 3-degree rise in temperature will cost us about 3 million birds over the next year, especially sea birds like seagulls as well as eagles and hawks.

Growing chipmunk

I don’t want to think about it. I knew from the number of birds I’m NOT seeing this year that the weather is already killing them. They are here, but in greatly reduced numbers and many birds are missing.

Chipping Sparrow
Downy or Hairy? Could be either!

We have quite a little zoo going on out there. We have the usual birds. We have a couple of nervous squirrels (they will calm down and refuse to budge) and now, every day our little (but growing fast) chipmunk.

Carolina Wren
Titmouse in the Autumn leaves

Mostly, I’m seeing Rose and White-breasted Nuthatches and several kinds of woodpeckers. Also a few wrens, titmice, and Goldfinch. None of the little red finches have come back. No doves. I saw one Blue Jay. No Robins.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

We have lost 30 million birds over the past decade and stand to lose another 30 million during the next five if we don’t get the temperature down.

I feed them, but it’s not nearly enough. Please, if you have any room, put up feeders. The birds are not doing well and backyard feeders make a huge difference in the birds’ ability to survive, especially in colder climates!

CIRCLES, CURVES, AND ARCHES – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Circles, Curves, and Arches