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.”

EVEN SQUIRRELS GET HUNGRY – Marilyn Armstrong

I know that people who feed birds tend to try really hard to keep the squirrels out of the feeders. Not only is this difficult to do — close to impossible — but really, squirrels get hungry too. I would have thought this time of year would be easy eating for the squirrels. The acorns are ripe. The trees are well grown and there are more than enough seeds to feed dozens of squirrels.

Yet they come to our feeders. Are our seeds better? Healthier? Squirrels get hungry too and they are looking a bit lean right now. They also don’t look full grown yet and I’m sure they really are hungry.

My problem is not that they eat at the feeders. I have no problem with them enjoying the food. It’s just that they don’t seem to have a “I’ve had enough, I think I’ll move on” thing happening. They eat. And eat. And eat some more. And they drive the birds away and get very protective about the feeders.

Right now they are easily scared away and just a few taps on the window or the barking of the dogs is enough to make them run for the trees. That won’t last. In a few weeks, they will be empowered and believe they have full — unchallenged — possession of the deck. Nothing short of my going outside and pushing them off the railing will make them move. I’m gearing up for it.

I knew all of this before I put up the feeders. I’ll have to find a way to work it out. The flat feeder is gone. It was a big enticement for them because they could roost in it. They have a lot more of a problem hanging on to the wire feeders which at least means that at some point, they have to let go and move on.

It won’t keep them from trying to own the deck, but I’ll just have to deal with it. The birds need food, the chipmunks need seeds … and even squirrels get hungry.


Note: I also pour some seeds on the ground below the deck so the ground feeders have a place to eat. Usually, that’s where you will see the big doves, cardinals, chipmunks, and occasionally squirrels. They must eat all those seeds because they don’t grow.


 

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. 

A PHOTO A WEEK: CHANGING SEASONS – Marilyn Armstrong

We haven’t gotten much in the way of autumn foliage. Hardly any. Little patches of yellow and occasionally a hint of red. It’s not much, especially considering how glorious our foliage can be. We were blah last year and the year before. So this will be the third year without “real” autumn.

Mumford River Dam in downtown Uxbridge

Garry’s got an ugly abscess in a tooth, so we had to be at the dentist early this morning. As it happens, the dentist’s office is next to the Mumford River dam. I took a few pictures. They aren’t great. I did intensify the colors a bit because they were so pale. It hardly looks like autumn.

But oddly, our woods is very bright with yellow leaves this year. No red or orange — we don’t have any maple trees back there. But the aspen and the vines are very bright and you can see them behind the bird feeders. So I guess it’s not a complete loss!