BEFORE THE WINDS BLOW THE CREATURES MUST EAT – Marilyn Armstrong

There’s a story to go with these pictures. It’s one of my “Is my mind really going? Should I be taking something or stop taking something?”

I got lucky. I had the camera, I got a nearly perfect focus on the birds, the squirrel and then the chipmunk showed up too. It was the last golden leaves of Autumn. I took more than 100 pictures which I rarely do in the house.

This was a really busy day. I was running up and down to see how the contractor was doing and all three dogs were barking like mad.

And a Downy Woodpecker

Owen was coming in and out, bringing his stuff back. And my stairlift goes down ONE flight. I have to haul ass on the other stairs … and I’m off my pain meds because my body needs a break or at least, it sure feels like a break.

Looking for a few seeds?
Oh, look! I found a few seeds!

In the middle of this, there were all these creatures on the deck and I had a camera. They were incredibly cute and for once, I got the focus just about perfect — most of the time, anyway.

The Tufted Titmouse wants some food, too …
It’s all about the seeds. Really.

I thought about putting this post up later in the week, but it seemed so “now-ish” what with the storm coming and all the leaves coming down tonight.

Here is the story.

I took all these pictures and I did what I do … more to the point, I did what I thought I always do. I took the chip out of the camera and stuck it in the card reader in my computer. Then I watered all the plants (I’ve been intending to do it for a week), moved some money so I could pay the contractor, realized I’d run out of checks, realized I still had checks from when I first opened this account but I had to find them. (I did.)

I swear this squirrel was attached to the feeder from first thing in the morning until after dark. He NEVER stopped eating.

Somewhere in this process, I lost track of the chip with the pictures. I looked through every chip I own. I checked to make sure I really did take the chip out of the big Olympus.

Finally, my last hope, I looked in my mini Leica — which is the one I used to take pictures of the doors and the contractor — and there was the chip. Apparently, I pulled the chip out of the reader and stuck it in the other camera. I have no memory of doing it, but obviously, I did.

I keep saying miracles happen. I consider this to be one of them.

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.

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?

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!

SHARE MY WORLD AND SAVE ME FROM DROWNING IN ALIEN ELECTRONS – Marilyn Armstrong

I am drowning in email. Between the politics, news, advertising, blog notifications, comments and an occasional note from someone I actually know — like in person? I’ve been getting THOUSANDS of emails. I’m just about ready to unplug the computer. Nah, I don’t mean that. But I need to make this Tsunami to away.

Compared to the actualities and realities and problems around this world, I know this is nothing. But it’s driving me nuts. I don’t read anything anymore. I read headlines because I know the same news story will show up in my pile of emails within a mere minute or two of deleting it.

Every day, I delete for hours, sometimes stopping t make a short comment. i don’t have time for more because while I write, the emails are piling up.

Traffic is slow right now anyway, so maybe this is a good time to take a few days off, see if I can unsubscribe to enough material to make it possible to find the message for which I’m looking?  It’s going to rain all week anyhow, which will finish off the autumn leaves before we actually get to see them. Then there are three doctor and dentist appointments — and the bug guy who is coming to do his autumn mouse trapping, termite spraying — and did I mention my son is moving home? That’s the good part.

I’m drowning in electronic messages, but HOW CAN I DROWN IN SOMETHING THAT HAS NO PHYSICAL FORM? Don’t I need water or mud or sand or some physical thing for drowning?

Notes:

      • I’m feeling a LOT better. Fibromyalgia has finally moved on.
      • Garry will be better as soon as his tooth is fixed — the day after tomorrow.
      • The dogs are fine.

Since the middle of my week tends to be pretty unexciting, maybe this is a good time to take a couple of days off? By the weekend, I’ll be itching to write and I’ll have taken a few new pictures.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do about this massive wave of electronic junk mail. Garry is having the same problem, so I don’t think it’s personal.

And now …

Share Your World 10-7-19

These are the colors that our leaves are supposed to be. Bah! Humbug! It’s good there are birds to photograph or the world would indeed be terribly drab.

The Questions!


Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) a good thing, a bad thing or a mixture of both?

I don’t “do” social media except to publicize this site. Did I mention I’m buried in email? I think a new wave of social media would probably finish me off.

Are you camera shy or do you pose for the camera with confidence?

I look best when I’m pretending there IS no camera pointing at me. Even if I know Garry is taking my picture. He always seems to be taking my picture, probably because we have very brief short-term memories, so it’s possible if he doesn’t have pictures, he might not recognize me.

Is there anything you’ve kept from younger years for sentimental reasons alone?

Yes. Some of my dolls and a great love of “Oklahoma!”

Do you like to decorate for different holidays?

ahb  ahb1

No. Those days have gone! I do appreciate the efforts other people make, though. I really love a beautifully decorated yard, especially for Halloween.

Do you feel you’re a strong person character-wise?   Also, if you do have a gratitude thought or picture you’d like to share, please feel free!  The world can always use more positive vibes!

I have no idea of whether I’m a strong person or just a desperate survivor. Either way, I’ve made it this far, so I’ll probably claw my way through another year or two. Or not. Anyone can be hit by a bus. Oh, wait. We don’t have any buses. How about a small truck?

THE GOLDFINCH CAME HOME! – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s not the big flock I had last year, but three Goldfinch showed up today and hung around long enough for me to get their pictures. They were the stars of last winter’s bird portraits. They are so awfully cute.

Welcome home American Goldfinch

We also had a visitor I haven’t seen in years. It was a baby Chipmunk! We used to have hordes of Chipmunks chittering at us as they tried to take over the driveway. Then the bobcat showed up and he ate them. All of them. This is the first Chipmunk I’ve seen in at least five years. He was so little!

What a cute pair!
A Titmouse and his little pal

Hunting, I guess, for seeds left on the deck. For some reason, I didn’t take his pictures. I was so bedazzled just seeing him on the deck. I even had time to call Garry over to see him too, so I certainly could have taken his picture, but I was having so much fun watching her skitter around the deck looking for seeds.

A better version of a flying … wren?

The birds are coming back. Slowly. The Mourning Doves are still missing, but maybe they are just being shy. They are also a bit big for these feeders. They liked picking seeds from the deck. They are flat feeders.

On a positive note, we have lots of joyously singing Carolina Wrens.

Fair Lady Cardinal

Also, I saw, but he was gone before I could get the picture, a full red-headed woodpecker. Not the big one who looks like Woody. This one looks just like the Red-Bellied Woodpecker, but his entire head is completely red. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one outside a bird book.

Sometimes, it’s good to live in the woods.

BETWEEN THE LINES ARE THE SEEDS OF HOPE -DAY 6 – Marilyn Armstrong

EATING SEEDS BETWEEN THE LINES – Marilyn Armstrong

The birds are slowly coming back. Slowly. I don’t know if more are going to show up. I’m particularly worried about the disappearance of the Mourning Doves. They don’t migrate. They live here year-round, but I haven’t seen one. But they are shy and it takes them a while to find their way to the seeds.

Meanwhile, there was quite a flurry of birds today. And here are some squared up pictures. Lots of lines. The entire feeder is all wire lines. The deck is also lines made from wood planks and posts.

Between the lines is lovely Lady Cardinal

But these two pictures are special because one is lovely Lady Cardinal. While Sir Cardinal is showier in his brilliant scarlet feathers, she is — in her own way — a gorgeous bird. Her colors are wonderful!

Pecking twixt the lines at the feeder, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker

And the second one is one of my all-time favorite birds, the Red-bellied Woodpecker.