IT’S NATIONAL SQUIRREL DAY! – Marilyn Armstrong

That’s right. It’s National Squirrel Day, a special day designed to honor the furry and honorable squirrels of our world.

And here are some pictures to prove it!

SQUIRREL APPRECIATION DAY

On January 21st, Squirrel Appreciation Day recognizes a critter some consider a pest and others see as just fascinating. The creator, Christy Hargrove, is a wildlife rehabilitator in North Carolina and is affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  According to Christy, “Celebration of the event itself is up to the individual or group — anything from putting out extra food for the squirrels to learning something new about the species.”

According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System of North America (ITIS), there are over 200 species of squirrels.  Some of the oldest squirrels categorized on the list are the nocturnal arrow flying squirrel (validated in 1766) and the Black Giant (validated in 1778).  Of all these species, they fall into three types.

Three Types of Squirrels

Ground squirrels, such as the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, the rock squirrel, California ground squirrel, and many others blanket the prairies and deserts of North America. Often causing damage, they often earn the name of pest, and they are labeled rodents. Predators enjoy them as a tasty morsel, too. As a result, they work together to protect themselves. Their only protection is to flee!

Tree squirrels make their homes in the trees. However, they also find their nesting materials and food on the ground and above. Making their homes in cities and the countryside in nations all around the globe, these familiar backyard and park residents help themselves to your birdfeeders or snag your snack right from your hands if they have become practiced enough!

The third type of squirrel leaps farther than the others with flaps of skin between the legs. Flying squirrels glide greater distances giving the impression they can fly. When they jump from tree to tree or building to building, they spread their legs wide and float on the breeze escaping predators or perhaps other snarky tree squirrels with a nut to pick with them.

OBSERVING #SquirrelAppreciationDay

Learn more about these fascinating creatures. Tell us your favorite squirrel story or share a picture of your squirrel visitors.

  • Set up a squirrel feeder and watch them as they feed. Can you identify what kind they are?
  • Go to a park and watch the squirrels as they travel from tree to tree. How many are there?
  • Squirrel watching is similar to bird watching and nearly as fascinating. Study their behavior and note their differences.
  • Watch a squirrel documentary to learn more.

Use #SquirrelAppreciationDay to post on social media.

OPPOSITIONS IN COLOR – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Opposing Colors

As often as we say “opposites attract, ” mostly we are not talking about colors. But opposites do attract, though they may not stay together for long periods.

On the color wheel, the opposites are:

  • Blue/Orange
  • Yellow/Purple
  • Red/Green

I don’t think I’ve ever worn a combination of blue and orange or yellow with purple. Back when we had autumn, red and green were a popular combination and always are at Christmas.

Let me see what I can find!

Bluebird on the fence – the perfect blue and orange combination!

And then, there is are bluebirds, a perfect natural combination of orange (some say red, but it really IS orange). What man may forego, nature brings perfectly to life!

Bluebird

And finally, red and green!

The shed from the side

Mumford Dam in October

The Blackstone River in the fall

And do it goes! Colors in nature and in our little world. Here’s to a vastly improved decade!

THE CHANGING SEASONS, DECEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, December 2019

The weather has definitely become an issue around here. We got some snow at the end of November and then again at the beginning of December. That appears to have been winter.

Since then, we’ve had heavy rain, a week of bitterly cold days, a few light dustings of snow, a lot of days so warm we had to put flea and tick collars back on the dogs because the moment the temperature goes into the 50s and 60s, the fleas and ticks pop up as if summer never ended.

For those who are waiting for climate change to show up, I have a flash for them. It’s here.

Many of us already live in hotspots where the temperature has met or exceeded the 2 degree Celsius level. The seasons are changing. Autumn is vanishing … and apparently, so is winter. The bugs are going to have a real field day this year since they’ve never died off.

Most large American cities are hotspots. All of Australia and Tasmania are in trouble. I suspect most major cities on every continent are already at, over, or approaching the tipping point. Between the fires, mudslides, giant storms, floods, polar ice melting … it’s here. Now. We are in it. Some places more obviously than others. I do not think we have a decade or two to fix our climate problems and I don’t see any evidence that we are doing anything positive to deal with the changing climate or our planetary ecology.

I’m trying to find something about which to be optimistic, but I’m not having much success.

Nuthatch and incoming Bluebird

Frozen woods

Carolina Wren

A huge Tufted Titmice!

Ice everywhere

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 Su Leslie’s original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

 

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – 12-25-19


QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK 12-24-19

Do dogs ‘talk’ (communicate) with their own species?   (credit to Marilyn of Serendipity)   And not just on Christmas Eve, as the old legend says all animals do.   I know that Ziggy ‘speaks’ husky (apparently) even though he’s not a husky, he’s a terrier/Chihuahua mix.   The movie the other night proved it, as there were huskies in the show, and when they barked, Ziggy got excited and stared at the TV screen with his head cocked to one side, and barked at the screen.  

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/72843/how-talking-animals-became-christmas-legend

Today we vacuumed the living room and changed the sofa covers. We moved all the things out of the way, including the step stool Bonnie uses to get up on the sofa. Some hours later, I was doing something on the computer and Bonnie was barking and whining at me. She barks a lot anyway, but she never whines.

It was too early for dinner — even for her — so I finally asked her “What’s the matter? What do you want?”

She walked over to her step stool and walked back and BARKED at me.

I put the stool back where it belongs and she happily jumped up on the sofa. I could almost hear her saying, “Those dumb two legs. They never understand a word I say!”

Have you ever had to work on Christmas Day?

No, but Garry and my son have worked on many Christmases and Thanksgivings. A lot of people work on holidays. Reporters (newspaper, television, radio, et al), retail workers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, police, all first responders.  And many others. Everyone in the health professions knows that the phone can ring any time, day or night on any day of the year. For that matter, so does every reporter.

I think the people who believe NO ONE should work on the holidays might re-think the concept should they or someone dear to them become ill on a holiday. If no one is working, then all the hospitals are closed. There are no ambulances. No drivers, no medics, no nurses, no doctors. I guess all the people who were already in the hospital just get to stay in the big, dark, empty building until the holiday is over? I hope they leave them some extra food and water.

It’s part of living in the modern world. Also, when you take those types of jobs, you KNOW you will have to work during some holidays. It really IS part of the job.

If someone gifts you something that you immediately loathe, do you pretend to really like it anyway or are you brutally honest about your opinion?

There’s no need to be rude. Smile, say thank you, and re-gift whatever it is next Christmas. You may hate it, but someone will love it.

Which popular drink, found during the Christmas season most often, is called “milk punch?”

Eggnog? Milk and scotch?

How many ghosts show up during “A Christmas Carol?” 

It depends on how you count. Three ghosts of Christmas plus Marley equals four. Do you count the dream where Tiny Tim is dead?

Are you all about the holly and jolly or more about remembering the alleged ‘true’ meaning of Christmas?    

I’m not Christian. It’s your holiday. I’m glad to partake of it, but it has no deep meaning for me. By the way, Jesus Christ was JEWISH. He was a rabbi. He would be celebrating Chanukah.

Please share a memory or thought about the holiday season if you’d like, whatever kind of celebration you may observe. 

Not buying expensive presents has really improved our holidays and made it possible to go into the New Year without months of debt from last Christmas. I buy small gifts for close family and Garry and I go shopping after the holidays if we need anything and have money to spend.

It works very well. I recommend it. The whole thing of going deeply into debt to buy a lot of gifts which, as often as not, no one needs or wants puts a huge strain on families. There’s no need for it. If it’s the thought that counts, maybe we should put more thought into the gifts and less money. That could work out for everyone.

LITTLE BIRDS AND WELL-FED SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

The squirrels were glued to both feeders. The birds were flying around trying to figure out a way of getting a seed for themselves.

Three little birds sat on the rail below the feeders, periodically looking up to see if, by any chance, one of both squirrels had decided they’d had enough and left. If you look you can see the snow falling. It was the middle of an ice storm.

Meanwhile, overhead, there are some very well-fed squirrels.

No one starves in our yard!

And finally, the birds get a turn!

Note the incoming Goldfinch! Finally, food!

Hungry birds!

Cardinal feeding

VIBRANT COLORS — BIRD STYLE! – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge:
Vibrant Colors


It was a brilliant day for the birds today. The most brilliantly colored of the birds is the cardinal, and for once, I got a lot of pictures of both male and female cardinals — and a few other birds 😀

 

A BIG DAY FOR BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

It snowed last night. We had no idea how much we’d get because one minute they’d say “just a dusting” and the next they’d say “maybe five or six inches” and finally someone would admit they didn’t know, but something was going to happen.

I sort of hoped nothing would happen, but it’s and early winter, so I was pretty sure we’d have snow. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be a HUGE amount of snow, but that’s not coming till next week.

Flying!

When I woke this morning, it had definitely snowed and every bird in the woods was diving on the feeders. It was earlier than I usually get up, but the birds were enticing. When it’s cold and snowy, they forget to hide from me. They just want food and more food. I believe they eat a great deal when it’s cold and that’s how they survive the weather.

Taking off

I took a few pictures. More than a few. I burned through a whole battery and had to insert a new one. Usually, the birds leave while I’m changing batteries. This time, though, they were too hungry to go anywhere.

A Titmouse and a Flying Chickadee

So I got some great shots of Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, Mr. and Mrs. Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, Carolina Wrens and Chipping Sparrows … among others. And a squirrel who snuck in for a snack. For once, I think the overwhelming flock of birds won the day and he left pretty quickly.

Getting wings ready to fly

But Garry said the squirrels were chowing down all morning, so maybe they finally got tired and went home for a nap.

Woodpecker and Titmouse

A TINY CHURCH – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s a tiny church hidden behind houses in Amherst. If you don’t know to look, you would never find it. About the size of my living room and dining room combined, the cross on top is a bit crooked. Such a small church, such a long history.

The Goodwin Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is a historic church on Woodside Avenue in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The church, built in 1910, is located down a narrow lane in the otherwise residential neighborhood. It is about 25 feet by 50 feet, styled in the Craftsman style popular at the time of its construction. It remains essentially the same since being built.

The church is named for Moses Goodwin, a local resident and parishioner. It was the second building for the African-American congregation that occupies it. The first — built in 1869 on a nearby lot — was demolished in 1917. It continues to be a social and religious center for Amherst’s African-American community.

Zion Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

THE CHANGING SEASONS – NOVEMBER 2019

This is one of the big change months of our calendar. We go from warm late fall days to bitter cold and sometimes snow. We didn’t (praise be!) get snow, but we got a lot of rain. We had one perfect week of Autumn. We used to get a month of it, but times are changing. It arrived late and departed in one night. A lot of trees just dropped their leaves without them even changing color.

But we got Cardinals and our very first Bluebirds. A triumph!

Bluebird and Chickadee

Very pretty Bluebird

Like Su Leslie, I’ve largely retreated emotionally to home and things I have some control over. I try to keep in touch with the world because maybe big things are coming and I hope I’m still here to participate. Meanwhile, I feed the birds — a small thing to help beleaguered creatures — and simultaneously am growing the fattest squirrels in North America.

From the front of the Bluebird

And one day, we had bluebirds!

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and the news has been full of it. But when they talk about huge snowstorms, they mean nine inches to a foot. I am meanwhile thinking two to three feet or, as you folks say, a meter or more. What we are actually supposed to get is one to three inches, which isn’t snow. It’s a dusting.

It does mean winter really is here. I hope it isn’t really awful. A mild winter would be easier for everyone!

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 Su Leslie’s original post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

BEHOLD THE PINK CACTUS FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Pink Cactus Flowers – December 1, 2019

The red cactus is still fully in bloom, but now, the pink is taking off too. I think this is the first time they have ever bloomed at the same time.

It was a fairly bright day today. Not sunny, but not dead and gray, either. The flowers bloomed yesterday, but it was such a busy day, I didn’t have time to take any pictures. I caught them today, though. I almost didn’t. I was setting up shots of old family pictures for Garry’s post.

I had pulled the chip and was going to the computer and then I realized the pink cactus look quite glorious, so I went back, picked up the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark I which has the 25mm f1.8 lens on it. It’s not a macro lens, but it gets very close. I replaced the chip in the camera and took a few more pictures.

I have a macro lens, but I like to leave my cameras with a lens on it because by the time I get into sorting lenses, I’ve usually missed the shot … and you can get almost as close with the 25mm (50mm if it was a DSLR) lens and it’s two stops faster. And if I want to take any other picture, it’s the magic “do anything” lens.

You just never know what tomorrow might bring, so take your flowers today.

 

GROWLING AT THE SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m sorry no one took pictures this morning before I decided that they’d already knocked off most of the seeds in two 4-1/2-pound feeders. No matter what they think, they are going to have to get at least some of their food somewhere else.

But it was funny. There were two squirrels clinging to each wired feeder and literally, a line of squirrels on the rail of the fence. There must have been at least ten squirrels on the deck and the feeders. There was also a tiny chipmunk on the deck and all the birds waiting in the nearby trees, waiting for me to do whatever I do so they could have a little bit of lunch.

I opened the top of the Dutch door and explained, in my best dulcet tones, that we had already discussed this business of endless eating. They dead-eyed me. I swear they did. They wouldn’t budge. I could hear their little squirrelly brains thinking: “She won’t do anything anyway. All she does is yell at us.” They kept eating while ignoring me.

I opened the screen door and starting growling. I’ve been practicing. Obviously talking to them hasn’t done the job. Growling works for the Duke. It worked pretty well for me except for that one big fat guy who would NOT leave feeder. Then, after dropping the few inches to the railing stared right back at me. For all I know he was growling too.

I finally went out onto the deck and chased him around until he finally gave up and leapt for the nearest tree. I went to get a cup of coffee while he and two of his best buds came back to the feeders. I wasn’t gone longer than a minute or two. Those guys are FAST.

I did some more running around the deck while growling — with a little background help from the Duke himself.

Oh, how much he’d like to join in the festivities. We never do anything really fun and he wanted to come outside and play too. My problem is I’m afraid he’ll try to jump the fence and that’s a long first step. The birds like to dive off the feeders, waiting until they are nearly on the ground before opening their wings, but I don’t think this would work out well for the Duke. It’s that whole “lack of wings” thing.


Actually, I wish someone had videoed me and the squirrels chasing around our 12-foot by 12-foot deck. It’s not a very big deck. It was like one of those 1920s cartoons with the mice and the farmer chasing each other around the kitchen table.

I was trying to figure out if there was a way I could put in a special squirrel feeding station and maybe they’d do their eating over there and let the birds eat … but then I realized they would eat everything in their feeder and when they were finished, they’d be back.

They aren’t going to leave. Ever. If there is food, they will be lining up, wearing their bibs. I hope they bring their own utensils. I wouldn’t want them to be stopped by not having the proper nutcracker!

WHITE IS WONDERFUL BUT PLEASE, NOT YET! – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: White

We know the big storm is on the way because the news has been full of it. What is funny is that they are talking about huge amounts of snow. Like … nine inches to a foot. We consider that a dusting. It doesn’t get serious until it tops 14 inches and really serious starts at about 18 inches.

I suppose that’s the difference between living in snow country and living in “sometimes it snows” country. I grew up in “sometimes it snows” (New York city and Long Island) as opposed to upstate New York which is like here. Although to be fair, we live in one of the heaviest snow areas in the country. Something about the way the snow goes up over the Worcester hills and when the ground drops away, the clouds just dump a ton of snow. Usually right on top of us. Unless the storm is coming in from the ocean, in which case Boston gets clobbered and we snicker … until the next storm.

CHRISTMAS CACTUS, NOVEMBER 25, 2019 — Marilyn Armstrong

Christmas Cactus — November 25, 2019

Mind you, I’m still waiting for my orchids to stop sending out shoots and start putting out buds. But — you can’t hurry a plant. You can’t force buds, at least not here in this house. So we have blooming cactus until we also having blooming orchids!

There are a lot more buds ready to pop and the first flower to open is beginning to droop. Should we get a little bit of sun one of these days, all will go better. Or so I believe.