ONE MORE SUNSET #16 – Marilyn Armstrong

ONE MORE SUNSET

Yes, I know my numbers are out of order. That’s the price we pay for trying to work with material coming from the other side of the world. Posts show up late, sometimes a couple of days late and since I can’t control when they wind up in my “inbox,” I just do the best I can. Hope no one minds!

The west-facing road that passes our house and travels from route 146A all the way to Johnston, Rhode Island, a big area for antiques. I don’t go there because I’ll buy something. I don’t go to antique stores, book stores, or art galleries. These are places I find irresistible. Not only do I not have extra money to spend, but I need more antiques like I need a hole in my head.

Along this little road are at least three small towns, all located on a waterway. There is a lot of water around here and it all flows south towards the Atlantic Ocean and exits via Narragansett Bay. Which is, of course,  the outlet of the Blackstone River and almost every other river and stream in the Blackstone Valley.

On the road to Rhode Island

In case you didn’t know, the Blackstone Valley runs through two states. It begins at the head of the Worcester Hills in Massachusetts and continues through Rhode Island until it runs into the ocean. Along its route are more rivers most of which are tributaries of the Blackstone. Also interesting are the ponds, lakes, streams, and rivulets, often unnamed. Just more water.

Route 98 runs through inhabited areas. Lots of small farms and tiny groups of homes too small for maps to name them as a village, though most places have a name. A few have no names. They are simply a crossroads with a shop and a couple of houses. But of course, we have towns that look like that too.

HOMEWARD BOUND #7 – Marilyn Armstrong

HOMEWARD BOUND INTO THE SUNSET – BECKY B’S JANUARY SQUARES

It was just another day coming home from the doctor. Our house is due west from the doctor’s office. I knew this because the sun was in our eyes all the way home. I thought it would be dark when we got back, but there was absolutely no traffic and we swept home at a brisk pace.

Which meant there were a few pictures to take on the way. Not as glorious as the last ones, but still, very pretty (and entirely square) sunset pictures.

About a quarter of a mile from home, heading west

About 4:30 in the afternoon in January

This was the first time I’ve used my new Panasonic camera since I got it a couple of months ago. I’m not really used to it yet, but it does seem to do a pretty nice job especially considering it was quite dark by this time.

STAIRS AND STEPS- Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Stairs

When we bought this house — 19 years ago — I figured there were only 12 stairs from the front door: six up and six down. We were moving from a three-story triplex in Boston, so a mere 12 steps didn’t seem like much. I could not imagine a time when I wouldn’t be able to climb six steps — or in a pinch, twelve with a landing int he middle.

Wooden steps from the deck to the backyard

Who knew? I have a stairlift for the top six, from the middle landing to where we live, bu the other six? “Haul away, men. She’s on her way.”

Garry now has to haul himself up by the handrail.

Scotties on the upper six stairs

Stairway to the river by the Mumford Dam

The problem is, I guess, that this is a hilly region, There are no flat areas and what few there are, are occupied by farms. That’s where our local fresh corn comes from. And the local grapes, cucumbers, and other produce.  Mostly these days, we seem to be breeding horses — saddle horses and huge Clydesdales and Percherons. Do we have any particular use for these gigantic (and beautiful) horses? No, not really, but they are glorious animals.

Four Clydesdales hooked to a dressy rig is a great entrance for a couple getting married., The saddle horses are owned by academies. If these places have flat areas, these are used as a ring for training riders and horses. Most places bring in bulldozers to flatten sections.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We had to bring in a bulldozer to flatten our backyard. You can ask a lot more for houses if by some quirk it happens to be on flat ground at the top of a hill so water runs down and away from it.

We are in the middle of the hill. A long slide down the driveway from the road is our personal Bunny Slope. Thus our backyard is flat, but still needs a canal of its own so the water that collects at the base of the driveway can roll down to the woods.

From the read of the back lawn, there is a precipitous drop through some impressive boulders to a flat area at the bottom, after which the land rises again. Since the entire area is networked by bodies of water — rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and canals initially used by factories and spinning mills to move goods to the main canal or ultimately, the railroad.

The long drop from the Worcester hill into the hill-and-dale of the watershed means almost no houses can be build on flat land. Newer houses — like ours — are either split levels or Georgian-style brick buildings built into the hills. Like a split level before there were split levels.

Pretty much every house has stairs. The parks have long stairways because that’s what you can do on these rolling hills. This house is a raised ranch. The lower level has one area that is a real basement. The rest of the level includes a den with a fireplace, a big bedroom. a tiny bedroom now used as a closet, another unheated room for storage,  plus a bathroom with a shower, toilet, sink, and the washer, and dryer. What remains of the original garage is a work area.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We find ourselves going up and down often. We store extra food on the shelves downstairs. A lot of items that come and go in the house — little table, pictures, wrapping paper, winter coats in the summer, summer clothing in the winter. The attic was never finished. It doesn’t have a complete floor and is full of loose fiberglass for insulation. We don’t go there since its pull-down wooden stairs feel dangerously creaky.

Take a walk along the banks of the Blackstone

Yet, when we moved in, I hopped up and down the stairs like they were nothing. I didn’t even mind the three-story townhouse in Boston, though I could tell a time would come when I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. By then we also had two dogs and a cat and I wanted a yard for the dogs. With a fence.

Just 12 steps, but sometimes, they feel like so many more.

MAPLE LEAVES BEFORE THE RAIN AND WIND – Marilyn Armstrong

FOTD – October 26, 2019 – Maple Leaves

We have so many autumn pictures between what I’ve taken and Garry’s collection, I haven’t even had time to fully skim them. So here are a bunch of them — mine and his — and I think we’ve taken our full quote of autumn pictures.

There’s another big storm on the way on Sunday, so I’m not counting on there being much left when it is finished.

Another picture of the first Quaker Meetinghouse, built 1770. If they could afford to install heating, the church would see a lot of use, but it is very cold in there and it’s now only used for weddings or other special events.

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.

THE CHANGING SEASONS – SEPTEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, September 2019


It’s the last day of September. In New England, that’s Autumn. It’s sort of Autumn out there, but not a lot. It may get better, but a lot has to do with rain and if it gets very warm again.

It’s been very up and down. Moreover, climate change has made our erratic weather even more erratic than it was before, so it’s very hard to figure out what happening. Or will happen.

The trees are mostly green with large patches of bright yellow and in a few places, some red and orange. But the color is very slow in coming and if the rain starts before the color shows up, fall will wash away with the rain. As it did last year and the year before.

The barn and corral and our car, tucked in the corner. happy weather watching.

The farm road. Follow it if you want to see the horses.

We have taken some nice pictures, so even if we aren’t getting that golden red fall feeling, it certainly is lovely outside.

I’d hate to lose a whole season, especially Autumn.

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, Su-Leslie can update her post with links to all of your posts.

FLAGS AND FLOWERS BLOOMING – Marilyn Armstrong

On the 75th Anniversary of D-Day

The cemetery is in the center of the town, across from the dam and just a hundred or so yards from the river itself. It’s up on a hill, so it never floods, even when the rivers rush over their banks. The people who created that cemetery knew about the rivers. And flooding. They picked a beautiful spot. It has a perfect view of the dam and river, but it’s dry and safe for bones and memories.

An old cemetery, dating back to the early 1700s. It contains traces of many generations of those who lived and died in this town, this valley. Folks who lived along the Blackstone and its many tributaries fished in its lakes and streams. They fought in our wars and are buried here — Revolutionary War soldiers, Civil War veterans as well as those who fought in all the American wars since.

Every anniversary of the end of some war we fought, the cemetery blooms with bouquets and flags. The schools bring the children here, so they will remember too and traditions will be maintained. They bring bouquets of wildflowers or from the back garden. Lilacs and lilies, scarlet poppies … and always a miniature American flag. Even if there’s no special holiday, the cemetery always shows signs of caring, remembering.

Maybe it’s easier to remember here, with such a small population. Is that it? Or it’s just part of the air, the character, the history. Remembering is what we do in the Valley.

The cemetery is one of my favorite places. We’re newcomers after all, only living here 19 years. Our ancestors — Garry’s and mine — come from Sligo, Antigua, Minsk, Bialystok. We come from tiny villages in Ireland, England,  the West Indies, and a wide variety of shtetls in eastern and northern Europe. Our people were always on the move.

Valley people have been here longer. Many came from French Canada in the late 19th century to work in the mills. Another large group formed the dominant Dutch population. They built churches, businesses and factories, dairy and truck farms, shops, horse farms, and sawmills. Their names are prominent wherever the rivers run.

Newcomers, like us, aren’t rare anymore but also not common. We have no ancestors in the cemetery, at least none about whom we know. Anything is possible in America.

The valley is the only place I’ve lived where the majority of families have lived in the town or in nearby villages for three, four, five generations.

“We’ve always lived in the Valley,” they say, meaning they have lived here as long as anyone can remember. If gently prodded, they may recall at some point, long ago, they came from somewhere else. Some can’t remember when or if it’s true.

I point out they must have come from somewhere because unless they are Native American, they came to this place, even if it was a long time ago. They get misty-eyed trying to remember old family stories handed down when they were young.

It’s hard to remember, they tell you. “You know, that was 75 years ago … a long time.” We nod because it was a long time ago. We can’t remember a lot of things from our “old days” either. So many years have passed and so much stuff has happened.

In the ground – Photo: Garry Armstrong

How many wars have we fought — just in our lifetime? I can’t count them anymore. It’s endless. We honor our dead. I think we’d honor them more by ending the cause of their deaths which I doubt it will happen. Peace is not in us, or at least not in most of us. Certainly not in the people who run our countries.

So another year passes and little flags and flowers bloom in the old cemetery in the middle of town.

MORE BIRDS – MR. AND MRS. CARDINAL WITH COWBIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I thought everyone was going to get tired of birds. Honestly, I thought I would get tired of the birds, but it turns out, I  find them beautiful and love having them around.

I yell at the squirrels, but I don’t mind them having a piece of the buffet. I would just prefer they not eat all of it every single day. I have switched to cheaper feed. I really couldn’t keep up the high-class buffet with such massive eating going on!

The trouble is, our squirrels are becoming less and less afraid of me. Now I have to make loud noises or they just sit there and stare back at me and I swear they are saying, “Oh yeah? And what’re you gonna do about it?”

Truthfully, not much. Make more noise? Wave the broom at them? Or, we could train them to be better trained members of our burgeoning household.

The brightest Cardinal in our garden

Mrs. Cardinal is flirting with me

Peek-a-boo!

Cowbird and Cardinal — sharing the feeder

One more Cardinal and Cowbird. The Cowbirds are not easily frightened. Only the big woodpecker -with that long beak who pecked him in the head — that got his attention

That is a beak and a half and that is also a rather large woodpecker

THERE WILL BE PEACE IN THE VALLEY – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

I live in a peaceful valley and I hope it remains peaceful. We’ve got our share of troubles. Not much work, relatively poor as places to live go. But we live in beauty, sometimes so much so I am amazed that somehow I ended up living here.

Stairway by the falls

Falls in the sunshine

Peace in our valley

Closeup Mumford Dam

Not being religious — or even Christian — I have to admit a great love of Gospel music. This is one of my favorites and it sure does fit the “peaceful” challenge. The singer is Jim Reeves. Elvis also sang it beautifully. I could not find a good quality recording of it. Johnny Cash also sang this very well, but again, the recordings were poor quality. This one is just fine.

LIFE AS A DEPUTY ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER – Marilyn Armstrong

I live in a small town. Just under 13,000 people call Uxbridge home. The village, or as we say around here, “downtown,” has a classic brick town hall, circa 1879, an elegant old library, and several other historic buildings.

Our neighboring town, Millville, makes Uxbridge look like Metropolis.

Millville town center.

Their town hall is a unit in an old condo building. The center of town is a sub shop. There’s no sign to indicate you are in Millville, so it’s easy to miss. When you get there, it will be closed anyway. The following notice is posted on Millville’s website:

Due to budget constraints, effective immediately the Town Clerk’s office will only be open on Mondays from 9am-1pm and Wednesday evenings from 6pm-8pm for public assistance. If you cannot be at the Municipal Center during these scheduled hours, please call the Town Clerk’s Office to schedule an appointment.m

There are approximately 3100 people living in Millville.

Perhaps 9 or 10 years ago, the town of Millville decided they needed a Deputy Animal Control Officer. I don’t remember how I heard about the job. It may have been a tip from our local animal control officer who knew I liked animals and needed part-time work.

This was about as part-time as a job could be. The pay was $1200 per year, payable semi-annually. Before taxes.

Millville already had a Senior Animal Control Officer who was theoretically in charge, but passionately fond of golf. I suspect he also had a full-time job elsewhere. So, in exchange for $600 every 6 months, I would have the official title of Deputy Animal Control Officer. I would be on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

I’m basically an optimist. I figured Millville is tiny. How many calls could there be? I took the job. I was sworn in, just like in the movies, hand on the Bible. I promised to protect and serve.

A mere couple of hours later, I got my first call. A homeowner had found an almost dead skunk by their trash bin and wanted it taken away. It was my first call — a Sunday morning — so my “senior officer” thought he should come along, show me the ropes as it were.

Photo: Greenshield Pest Control

Photo: Greenshield Pest Control

Luckily, the skunk did the right thing and went from nearly dead to absolutely dead while I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I was informed by my erstwhile boss that the skunk had probably been rabid and I should not touch it. If the skunk had not died on his own, I would have been obliged to shoot it.

Me: “Shoot it?”

Boss: “Yes, shoot it. With the rifle.”

Me: “Rifle? What rifle?”

Boss: “Oh, didn’t I mention that? We have a couple of rifles in the office. When an animal is behaving suspiciously, you have to shoot it.”

Me: “Behaving suspiciously?”

Boss: “You know, approaching people rather than running away. Acting weird. Most of the animals you’ll get calls about are rabid. There’s a lot of rabies around here so you don’t want to get close. Just shoot’em.”

Rabies. Shoot the animals. $100 a month. I was getting that creepy feeling I get when I think maybe I’ve signed up for something, the implications of which I had failed to fully grasp.

After we bagged the skunk to send to the county animal medical examiner, I promised to go to city hall as soon as they reopened to discuss guns and the other equipment I would need. Like shovels, leather gloves, heavy-duty plastic trash bags (the non-human version of body bags), tags for the medical examiner. Forms to fill out. Oh, and where to put the corpses. Turns out, you can’t just stack them up in city hall.

My boss was not upset that I’d never handled a real weapon. I’d never shot anything currently or previously alive. I was puzzled about what I was supposed to do if I got a call, actually needed a rifle, but it was locked up at city hall which was pretty much always closed.

72-wildflowers-cooperstown-ma_078

Would the offending animal make an appointment for a more convenient time? Or wait for me to call someone, get them to unlock the gun cabinet, then hang around while I drove over to get it, then drove back to shoot him? Are the rabid animals of Millville that cooperative? Was I supposed to keep the big hunting rifle in my house in case I needed it? The rabies thing had me spooked, too.

When I was finally able to get to city hall, I demanded a rabies vaccination. No way was I going to handle rabid animals without a vaccination. They pointed out rabies vaccinations are expensive and I was only the deputy. They suggested I pay for it myself.

Me: “How much will it cost?”

Clerk: “Around $450.”

Me: “That’s four and a half months pay.”

Clerk: “Well, we don’t normally pay for it.”

Me: “I’m not doing this unless I’m vaccinated.”

It turned out that the animal medical examiner could provide me with the appropriate vaccination, so Garry — who had begun to look alarmed — drove me to the doctor. While the doctor prepared the inoculation, we got a rundown of exactly how common rabies is in our neck of the woods.

“Why,” he said, “Just last week they found a deer with rabies. Chipmunks, skunk, fox, coyotes, squirrels, deer … even possums get rabies.” The only exceptions are rabbits who are naturally immune. Go figure.

The following day, I got another call. A really big snapping turtle had wandered into the road and was blocking traffic. It didn’t sound too threatening, so armed with my shoulder-high heavy leather gauntlets (no rifle), I drove to the site and met the snapping turtle from Hell.

Keep in mind that there is water everywhere in the valley. Not only the Blackstone, but all its tributaries, feeder creeks, lakes, brooks, ponds, pools, and swamps. Snapping turtles are called common for good reason. They live just about everywhere you find water. Undoubtedly, the big snapper had wandered into the road, lost his bearings. Someone needed to grab the turtle and carry him back on the river side of the road.

The someone was me.

This turtle was not in the water, not docile. His beak was sharp. His neck was extremely flexible. Not my kind of nature pal.

So there I was, by the side of the road, trying to figure out how I could grab him. He was approximately 30 pounds of pissed-off turtle. He seemed pretty agile to me. He could move. Okay, maybe he’d lose a footrace to a rabbit, but he could trundle along at a nice pace. And he had that snaky neck and was determined to bite me.

72-Turtle-Muimford-Dam-100615_045

Meanwhile, an entire construction crew — big brawny guys who were supposed to be repairing the bridge — were watching. They didn’t seem eager to help. In fact, they were the ones who called in the first place.

I eventually herded him across the road. I looked at those jaws, looked at my leather gloves, did a quick mental calculation about the strength of the gloves versus the power of the turtle’s jaws. I decided the gloves weren’t nearly strong enough.

My personal weapon: a Red Ryder BB rifle

My personal weapon: a Red Ryder BB rifle

Have you ever tried herding a turtle? Of course not. You can’t herd a turtle, but I did. I don’t know exactly how I got him across the road. I know there was a big shovel involved, but otherwise, it’s a blur. The next thing I remember doing after getting the turtle over to the river side of the road was calling the clerk and resigning.

The turtle was enough for me. I figured if I didn’t get out quick, they’d have me hunting rabid coyotes with a large gun and I’d shoot my foot off.

They tried to bill me for the rabies shot. We settled for not paying me. I think I got the better part of the deal.

BIRDS DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry decided the poor birds must be starving, so he filled the feeders. Then we stood at the window and watched the tree fill up with all kinds of birds.

Molting Goldfinch

Which was followed by birdly jostling and bonking as various birds tried to knock the other competing birds off the feeder.

The Cowbirds are big and solid and don’t move, though they did at least look up when three finches whacked them at the same time.

A trio

The little squirrel was on the rail looking at the free-for-all, birds and more birds … and finally, he left. He didn’t feel like taking on the Cowbird either.

Watching me, watching you …

So there we are, looking at the feeders. On the flat feeder, there are three Brown-headed Cowbirds. They are about the size of a Robin. On the hanging feeder are a few Goldfinches and several Nuthatches with a mashup of chickadees, Carolina Wrens, and three woodpeckers.

It’s not like he didn’t get his turn, mind you …

I find, these days, that I spend less time shooting pictures and more time just watching the birds and squirrels and their interactions. Also wondering how every bird and squirrel in the woods know within a few minutes that Garry has filled the feeders. Is this what they call “Twitter”?

The feeders are full! Come and get it!

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 SAFETY OF HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

While I was starting dinner, I was watching out the window. Suddenly, a hawk with a white front swooped by the deck then winged off into the woods.

I followed him with my eyes. The camera was in the dining room and I didn’t hurry to get it. I knew I’d lose the hawk before I got the camera focused. Mostly, I wanted to get a good look at him before he disappeared.

I was curious why he swept so close to the house.

Hawks are hunters and don’t usually get so close to houses. It turned out, after minimal research, to be a Cooper’s Hawk. It wasn’t hard to find because among the white-breasted hawks, there are only two living here: American Eagles and Cooper’s Hawks. I’ve seen plenty of American Eagles. They are much bigger than this hawk, so Cooper’s Hawk it had to be.

And he was hunting for exactly what was on my deck: birds and squirrels. Those are a Cooper’s Hawks two favorite foods. The deck is his perfect hunting ground, his dinner buffet.

This is one of the things I feared when I set up the feeders. We have so many predators in the area and so little prey. How did we get so out of balance? Doesn’t it usually go the other way? Don’t deer usually overtake the area?

I remember when we had so many chipmunks they used to line up and chatter at us in groups. Now, we never see chipmunks. We use to see rabbits sitting on the lawn in the sun in summertime. I haven’t seen a rabbit in years and until we put up the feeders, I hadn’t seen any squirrels, either.

Mice I know about because they invade our house every autumn. We have an annual battle to keep them outside. It’s not personal. It’s just that they make an awful mess in the house.

We also used to see more deer, but I’m sure the coyotes have taken them down.

I wonder now if the reason the squirrels have taken refuge on the deck is that they think the house is some kind of protection for them from the hawks and the other predators. Is this house protection for the birds and squirrels?

By sending them back into the woods am I sending them to their deaths? That’s a terrible thought.

I feel like I should invite them all in for a warm dinner and a comfortable nap, but I’m pretty sure the dogs wouldn’t get along with them especially well. It could get pretty raucous.

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!

BIRDS DU JOUR MINUS THE ONES I MISSED – Marilyn Armstrong

Owen filled the feeder yesterday and there were dozens of birds around the feeder this morning, including some I didn’t recognize.

Downy Woodpecker

I think the unseasonably warm weather is bringing the migrating birds back at least a month early. I hope the weather doesn’t suddenly change! I’ve seen it happen before where a warm spell in February brought back nesters who were frozen when winter blew back in.

Goldfinch?

But this year, we haven’t really had something I’d call winter. We’ve had some extremely cold days and a tiny bit of snow, but between the few cold days have been a lot more warm ones. I’ve got ants in the house. In February! And there have been ticks in the yard all winter. That’s not a real winter, folks. This is  … kind of like late March? Early April?

Junco on the railing

I swear to you I picked up my camera this morning and every interesting bird fled. As I see them, they see me. They don’t mind me standing and watching them, but the moment I aim the camera at them, they fly away … except for the “old-timers” who have finally figured out that I’m not going to do anything to them.

Nuthatch

I did get a few cute pictures, though, so I thought I’d show them to you. I thought I’d also share the interesting news that I can’t use my lens except at its shortest length, which would be about 200 mm (per 35 mm standard). If I extend, the pictures get blurry because the lens is too “close.” Never thought that would happen!

Downy Woodpecker

I can shoot longer when I’m shooting birds on branches in the woods, but not when they are on the deck or the feeders.

Titmouse and Goldfinch