MY WORLD GOES ROUND AND ROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

I was about to give up. Contractors have a weird way of vanishing just when you think you’ve got a deal. You have the money in hand. The house awaits some long-awaited repairs. Which is when your contractor slips into the mists of time and disappears. What happened?

But not this time — or at least I don’t think this time. We have a date. I have the money. If we don’t get typhoon-level rain for all next week, we’ll have a fixed side of the house and a repaired (and hopefully freshly painted) front door.

The deck Dutch door won’t make this year’s repair list. We’ve run out of time. The weather is turning, so that job will have to wait until our next not-winter. I would say spring, but spring is usually winter, but wetter. So the next time after the regular winter when we have weather in which a carpenter can work … like maybe May or June, the Dutch door gets fixed. Along with the rot around it.

I am thrilled. No, really. I know there are too many other things going on about which I seem unable to do much. So I send $5 to Elizabeth Warren and fill my bird feeders which somehow doesn’t seem nearly enough, but it’s what I’ve got to offer and I figure it beats nothing by a little something.

Oh, and I switched to all wind-powered electricity. Yes, I know it costs more, but I figure it’ll be maybe $5 a month … well, with Owen coming back and all his stuff, probably more but he’ll pay his way, so it should be fine.

Meanwhile, Garry is feeling better and Bonnie seems to be barking less. She now seems to require a biscuit from both of us. We have to both appear and bribe her and then she goes back to sleep. Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either.

I’m just really happy the house is getting 2/3 fixed. We didn’t really have the money for the Dutch door anyway, but I was going to try to “make a deal.”

Something I read today — I think an article in the Washington Post — the author said that by Friday, she can’t remember what happened on Monday unless she goes back and reads her notes. That’s just how I feel. By Friday, this world has whizzed around its axis about 48 times. I sometimes forget the morning news before lunch.

But at least I am getting a couple of major items cared for. So in case the world survives, I’ll have a great front door and won’t have that rotten side door anymore.


This song was written by  Tom Paxton, but I can’t find a copy of him doing the singing. This singer’s okay and he plays the guitar well. So he will have to do!

In case you may be wondering why, despite the fact that the door that opens onto the deck is not getting replaces, it’s because I simply love that door. I love being able to open the top and have the air blow through the screen in the door. It turns out that Dutch doors are well-loved and wildly expensive. I could probably make a fair bit selling it, but I just love that door.

Scrabbling Junco feet!

Today we had two rather hungry looking squirrels, our usual chipmunk who is beginning to become a teenage chipmunk … and a lot of woodpeckers. I wonder why the woodpeckers are so fond of our feeders? We have a woods full of trees and a fair number of them are old and hollow, so there ought to be plenty for them to eat … but maybe we serve a better meal?

BUT WHAT KIND OF BIRD IS THAT? – Marilyn Armstrong

We were up early yesterday (doctor) and early again today (dentist). This gave me the opportunity to get some pictures of the morning birds. I had been noticing unfamiliar birds this year. Birds I saw a lot of last year I haven’t seen at all this year … but there are birds this year I don’t recognize. They may be juveniles of birds I only know as mature birds, but I spent a lot of time going through the bird book and the only birds that look like what I’m seeing are rather rare birds.

With birds, the general rule is that if you see something rare, you’ve probably got the wrong bird. But whatever it is, it is some kind of sparrow.

It isn’t the Chipping Sparrow because they are quite a bit smaller than these. The only things these look like part of a group called “Grass Sparrows.” All of these birds look a lot alike. Some shade of golden brown with speckled or streaked wings. Some have a striped or speckled breast while others are solids. But all the juveniles look very much the same.

The only one of these sparrows considered “common” is the Savannah Sparrow. But there aren’t many of them in this part of the country. They do live here, but it isn’t one of their major regions. Mostly, they seem to be concentrated in the southern states.

Grasshopper Sparrow and a Hairy Woodpecker?

One more of the sparrows and a Woodpecker.

Climate change brings changes to all of our wildlife, so it’s possible that warmer weather in the north has brought more of them into our area. The bird looks rather more like a Grasshopper Sparrow. While these do live in this region, they are uncommon — possibly even scarce.

Take a look at the picture and let me know if you recognize it. Also, there’s another solid brown-orange bird that doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before. It might be a Tennessee Warbler which can be common in this area. You’d think from its name they’d be from the south, but I sometimes am baffled by whoever named the birds. Or maybe birds just move around more than we think.

A very fat Chipping Sparrow? Rather an odd color …

Something new or just a juvenile of something more familiar?

I know that between the older bird book I had from the 1980s  and the new one I got last year, there’s a huge change in the location of many birds. There are also a lot fewer birds than there used to be. As we ruin our living environment, we’re killing off birds, fish, and many small mammals that were once very common.

Good look at tail feathers of the brown sparrow.

The only things we aren’t short of are bugs — plenty of THEM — mice and rats. Even rabbits who used to sun themselves on our lawns and the chipmunks who used to chitter at us as we went into our house have vanished. The robins, following their death by Monsanto’s RoundUp weedkiller never came back either.

What a sad world it would be without the birds to sing us awake with their cheery morning calls!

FLIPPER WAS FLIPPANT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Flippant

I am one of those animal weepers that cry at anything when an animal gets hurt, dies, or is just so cute I can’t stand it. I’m pretty sure I was the only woman who cried while watching Flipper. Each time he clapped those flappers I shed a few tears. Little did I know that those tears were not wasted.

Flipper and friends

My birds are back. The big birds have returned. There are some big gray birds with white stomachs that almost look like “generic” birds, but some have a hint of pink or red on their stomachs, so maybe they are off mating season robins?

We haven’t had many robins since Monsanto told everyone to poison the weeds — and thus kill all the robins. We used to have flocks of robins. They were probably our most common birds. Maybe ten years back, we had a plague of grubs in the front yard. One morning, about 100 robins came by. They ate every last grub. It took them two full days, but they were the fattest, happiest robins ever.

Ready to go!

The next year, Mr. Poison sprayed his weeds and the two sets of robins nesting on our back porch fell over their bright blue eggs and died.

Since then, there are been very few robins. Monsanto has a LOT to answer for. Now their midwestern storage tanks are exploding and the local people are saying, “Monsanto says we shouldn’t worry but the air is nearly black and everything is covered in slimy soot.” They are definitely worried.

We aren’t learning much and we sure aren’t learning fast.

Sea lions at the Central Park Zoo, New York

I’d rather think about Flippant Flipper on television or the charming sea lions at the Central Park Zoo. They had a big beach ball and they bounced it out into the audience — and there was always an audience for the sea lions.

We’d all scurry to get the ball and throw it back. Kind of the reverse of playing ball with your pup.

AN OPEN E-MAIL TO HUMANITY FROM PLANET EARTH – BY TOM CURLEY

This last weekend millions of people all over the world went on strike for awareness about Climate Change and that we REALLY have to do something about it. There was lots of talk about how we are destroying the planet.  They mean well, but they are missing a really really huge point.  I tried to point this out before. I’m pointing it out again.

Original Post

Hello humanity, this is Earth. The planet Earth. You’ve called me by different names like Gaia, Mother Earth, Terra, etc.

It really doesn’t matter what you call me as long as you don’t call me late for dinner. To be honest, I never got that joke. I’m not sure exactly what “dinner” is., but I’ve noticed it’s a popular joke with you folks.

Anyway, I’m writing this open letter because I’ve noticed a lot of you have been concerned with what you call “climate change.”  You seem to be concerned about “saving the planet.”

I’m flattered that so many of you are concerned about me. I mean, the dinosaurs were living on me for almost a billion years and never once did one of them even notice I existed. Now that I think about it, the fact they had brains the size of a walnut might have had something to do with that.

“How do you expect me to remember birthdays? You know my brain is the size of a walnut!”

But I digress. Sorry. I do that a lot. I’ve been around for over four and a half billion years. Cut me some slack.

Be that as it may, the reason I’m writing this letter to you is though I appreciate your concern about my welfare, you need to know you don’t need to save me.  I’m doing just fine.

I’ll continue to do just fine. Like I said, I’ve been around for over four and a half billion years and my surface is constantly changing.  When I started out, I was basically a really hot rock. The only thing I had to do was make volcanoes.

Granted, at first, it was interesting, but I got to tell you, after the first billion years or so, it got a little old.

Then it started raining. It rained for a long time, even by my standards.  All of a sudden almost three-quarters of my surface was covered in water.

That was cool.  I had clouds and snow and much better sunrises and sunsets.

Then the oddest thing happened. I’m not really sure how, but life formed. At first, it was pretty boring. Single-celled organisms that pretty much ate stuff and reproduced.

But then they got bigger and more complex. First small fish, then bigger fish. That was neat. Then a few of them left the water and started walking around on land.  That was weird.

Hey Phil! You got to come up here and see this!

The next time I took a look (you have to realize that your perception of time is different when you’ve been around for billions of years) I was covered in plants and trees and there were insects and dinosaurs everywhere. They were interesting but all they really did was wander around and eat each other.

Get in my belly!

Again, cool at first, but trust me, anything gets boring after the first hundred million years or so. Things were going fine until this big asteroid crashed into me. I gotta tell you, that one hurt. I remember thinking “Oww! That’s going to leave a mark!”

And it did. After that, the climate on my surface changed and all the dinosaurs disappeared.

Then you guys came along. Now realize, that by my standards you’ve only been around for about a year or so. Even so, I’ve been fascinated by watching you.

You guys actually figured out how to use fire.

You invented the wheel. You created civilization. You created beer! Not one dinosaur in over 500 million years ever came close to doing anything like that. You guys did it after being around for only a few hundred thousand years.

I was impressed. Lately, and by lately I mean for maybe the last 40-thousand years or so, you’ve been inventing all sorts of really interesting things. I have to confess, I’ve really gotten into Netflix.

But I have noticed that you’ve been changing my surface environment lately.

Yes, it’s definitely you folks doing it. It took me hundreds of millions of years to turn hundreds of millions of years of dead dinosaurs and plant life into coal and oil and you’ve managed to burn most of it and dump trillions of tons of CO2 into my atmosphere in a few minutes by my time frame.

Impressive.

You might want to stop doing that. After the asteroid hit, my surface changed so much that the dinosaurs died out. All of them.

It happens. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to have a harder and harder time living on me. Trust me, you’re not the first living things that have come and gone, and you won’t be the last.

I have to admit, I’ll miss you guys. Like I said, I’m really into Netflix and again, you invented beer!

So basically, what I’m trying to tell you is even if you keep doing what you’re doing, I’m going to be just fine. You don’t need to worry about me.

You need to worry about you.

Sincerely yours,

According to Terry Pratchett

Earth

MAYBE AUTUMN WILL COME – Marilyn Armstrong

September 25, 2019 – Autumn Leaf

Driving from home to a doctor’s office, I was encouraged to see that the trees are changing. It isn’t full autumn yet, but it’s looking good. I took a few pictures along the way, which also probably means that my month of battling fibromyalgia is finally ending. It doesn’t usually last this long, but this was a bad one.

I have been so exhausted and so fuzzy-brained, getting anything done has been murderously hard. And the thing is, no matter how crappy you feel, life doesn’t stop and wait for you.

You still have to function. It doesn’t improve my mood any, either. The medical community seems to not understand why people who have Fibromyalgia and are exhausted and in pain also seem to have some emotional instability.

Funny thing. I don’t have any trouble connecting those dots!

So while I was feeling very much like crumpling into a heap on the floor and staying there until I felt better, I still managed to find a contractor, pay down bills, write pieces, even take a few pictures. You know I’m exhausted when lifting my camera seems like far too much work!

I took these today. I saw the big stone with the scarlet Virginia Creeper trying to cover it. I also found a brilliant pumpkin farm and got some great pumpkin pictures. You wouldn’t believe some of the shapes they grow them in these days!

A WALK IN THE PARK – Marilyn Armstrong and Garry Armstrong

September 23, 2019 – Autumn Leaf

On one of the prettiest days of the month, we took our cameras and went to River Bend. We had hoped there would be some autumn foliage. There was a little bit. A few changing maple trees and hints of gold in the dark green leaves of late summer. But mostly, it was lovely but not especially autumnal.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Today the leaves began to fall. They haven’t changed color. They just started falling like a storm of leaves. Maybe it was the wind or maybe it’s going to be another year when instead of autumn, the leaves just curl up and fall to the ground.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

At least the weather has been lovely. Bright and clear and cool and night, warm by day. It is the first really nice weather we’ve had all season. Just in time for putting up the bird feeders.

Amber light in early fall

Black-Eyed Susans

We do have birds. They are still very shy and mostly, very small. Lots of nuthatches and titmice. And a few others I have not yet identified. They are in different feathers than they were in breeding feathers over the summer. I’ll get them all right yet.

Garry at River Bend