SPIKY PINK CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

Spiky Pink Cactus – 03/16/19

It has been very springlike for the past couple of days, though it will be rather colder for the next few days. Probably because spring is actually coming and it always seems to get cold as the season technically arrives.

This is more or less normal in this part of the country. It’s usually in the low or mid-40s as we slide into spring. It’s not uncommon to get a few inches of snow in April, too.

More square pink cactus

Wet snow that feels slushy even as it falls, mind you. I need the snow to go away because I need to replace our mailbox. They will not deliver mail until we replace the box

Square cactus and it’s also rather pink

And I absolutely have to fix our chimney. It has been a seriously windy, stormy year. The chimney wasn’t in good shape before all the storms. It’s worse now and I don’t know how much worse. I have to get someone up there to see how bad it is and deal with it. A collapsed chimney is a big, expensive problem. Summer doesn’t last very long. We need to get to fixing things before we are into next winter.

I have to remember it’s not only spiky squares. I have to look for other things, like jagged, barbed, bristly, serrated, prickly, spiny, and pointy things.

STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND? – Rich Paschall

The “What Ifs” of Life, by Rich Paschall

Certainly, you have seen some of the various questions surrounding you being stranded on a desert island.  If you were stranded, who would you like to be with?  What 5 things would you take along?  What 5 things that you have now could you do without?  What one album would you take?  What electronic device would you need?  This assumes you would not run out of batteries I guess.

These, and questions like them, present interesting challenges to a person that they may not consider otherwise.  Who is the most important person in your life?  Is that the one you want by your side?  Perhaps you would rather have someone with survival skills.  Perhaps you would not want the other to be stranded too.  Perhaps you would rather be alone.

What 5 things would you take along?  This really calls for creative thinking.  You may consider clothes, but do you need more than you are wearing?  You might consider your music, but would that come ahead of other basic needs.  Perhaps you are one that considers music a basic need.  I know those type of people.

Birdie Beach

Would you think of camping supplies?  If you are not already a camper or outdoors person, would any of that mean anything to you.  I guess you could be clever and say you need a lifetime supply of canned goods, but then don’t forget the can opener.  Or something to start a fire.  I have heard all my life that you can start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, but I have never seen anyone actually do it.  Can you?  If so, you may be on my stranded island list.

DawnFlight-300B-72

Would you consider tools to build a shelter?  Just exactly how handy are you and what kind of tools would be suited to your skills?  I guess an ax could serve many useful purposes.  Did you have it on your list?  Did you add a hammer?  You may not need it if you have an ax.  A knife? A pick?  A power drill?  Oops, no power.

Let’s say you had an electric device whose battery was solar-powered or recharged.  What then would you take along?  I think you will not get the internet, although some day you may get that from just about anywhere.  What will you do on your island in the meantime?

Sunrise Strider

If you could take just one album, what would it be?  This is a hard one for me.  When I get an album I like, I can play it over and over, but I do get tired of it eventually and put it on a shelf.  I guess I would pick someone’s greatest hits album, but whose?

Let’s forget about the desert island for a moment and bring you back home.  What if you had just one day to live?  What would you do?  Who would you see?  What would you say?

The “one day to live” scenario is thrown out there on social media and elsewhere about as often as the desert island scenarios.  It is even more challenging as people think of all the things they were going to do but never got around to it.  The long trips are out.  The classes to learn some skill are out.

So we may be left with planning a last meal.  Are we making this feast or heading to a favorite restaurant?  Perhaps it is neither, as we go to someplace we have never tried before.  I hear there is a new French restaurant in town.  Maybe I want to go there.

75-RosyDawn-NIK-CR

Are there people to whom you absolutely must say something?  Do you need to say good-bye to someone?  Do you need to tell someone you love him or her?  Do you need to apologize for something that happened in the past?  With a limited amount of time, which people are on the list for final conversations?

The 24-hour time frame automatically eliminates a lot of possibilities.  Would you watch a movie, go to a show, see a play?  Those all seem like such poor use of precious hours to me.

Would you go to an expensive concert if you had tickets, or would the expense no longer matter?  Perhaps you should give them away and do something else.  Would you watch television, YouTube videos, surf the internet?  I guess those practices would begin to seem like quite the waste when “the days (or hours) dwindle down to a precious few.”

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What if we lived our lives like only a few things were really important?  What if we lived our lives like there was only a day left, even if there were 25 thousand days left?  Wouldn’t it be richer and more meaningful?

There is nothing wrong with looking down the road, but too many of us are not living for today.  That is why those stranded island and one day to live scenarios are so scary.  They immediately call to mind all the things we missed out on in life and can not go back to fix.

96-ocean-Sunrise

When you are left on an island or reach the final day, make sure you did what you wanted and needed to do.  That you respected everyone.  That you told people you loved them, so you don’t leave with regrets.

Be sure that you mended fences in case there is no time later to do it.  If you do this, the one day to live challenges on social media might not be so scary.  By the way, if you are stranded on a desert island, it helps to have a volleyball named Wilson.

A FEW MORE SHOWER INSTALLATION PICTURES – Marilyn Armstrong

I hardly ever find a use for my wide-angle lens, but this was perfect. The bathroom is very narrow, so I got a few extra shots using my 12-mm Olympus lens. It gets much better color than the Panasonic lens does and I think also a sharper finish, too.

The room, well-lit

You can see a little more of the way the whole interior of the shower looks, too.

Plenty of room for our “stuff.”

It’s quite spacious since it takes up all the space that used to be used by the full-sized tub. Also, the seat is kind of pebbly, so it isn’t slippery. Very comfortable to sit on.

It’s comfortable. And so nice and clean!

CALLING THE SQUIRRELS TO ORDER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Order

It used to be that my merely tapping on the window glass convinced the squirrels to move on.

I have nothing against feeding a hungry squirrel, but the woods are warm. It is time for them to begin their return to eating foods which nature offers. They need to do a little digging, hunting and stop making a gawdawful mess on my deck.

In the name of saving a few bucks — and also delicately suggesting to feathered and furred critters that they need to return to the wild, I’m buying cheaper food. I know they don’t love the milo seeds in this feed.

It’s part of the encouragement to find food they like better. Meanwhile, there are piles of milo all over my deck which they toss there. Every evening we sweep it off the deck to the ground below where the doves — who actually like it — will stroll around the grounds munching on it.

When nesting begins, I’ll get richer food again. After nesting is finished, though, they need to remember to be wild. It’s a hard call and I’m a bit of a softie, as referees go.

Oh yeah? What are you gonna do about it?
Let me try a different approach …

This morning — and I don’t mean early this morning — the squirrels were chowing down with enthusiasm.

It was well into the day by then, like ten-thirty or eleven. The sun was high in the sky and shining brightly. I looked out my window. There was a party of squirrels fighting over who should be hanging on which part of which feeder. At least three were on the flat feeder and another pair were on the hanging feeder.

Scarred and scornful, I stand my ground!

I tapped loudly on the window and no one so much as twitched. Finally, I opened the window and called out “Hey, Fuzzies. Move your butts. Time to let the birds have a go at the food.”

They didn’t move. At all. They ignored me.

I finished dressing and made my way to the kitchen. A few squirrels had walked away. Slowly. No hurry. Probably laughing at me as they strolled slowly into the woodland that we otherwise call our “backyard.” Two more were still hanging on the flat feeder.

I tapped.

They ignored me.

I tapped harder.

They ignored me harder.

I see you. You see me. I’m eating, do you mind?

I finally opened the door, stepped out on the deck and said: “You guys need to move on. It’s almost noon. The sun is shining brightly. Betake yourselves to the forest and make your case with the oak trees. Find acorns. Rejoin nature.”

I’m still hungry …

They looked at me. I looked back.

Slowly they turned and even more slowly they climbed down the upright pole and made the short hop to the ground. It’s obvious that soon I will have to go outside and physically push them off the feeders.

Even that might not do the job. Soon, they may well decide they need to come into the house and sit at the dining table for a full dinner.

Is this a case for … (drumbeat) … the squirrel whisperers?

FENCES AND GATES IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Fences and Gates

Sometimes I know I’ve got material in my folders. Sometimes I think maybe I might have something … but where? This time, though I knew. For one thing, fences are one of the pictures I enjoy turning into black and white, so I was pretty sure I not only had them, but I had them converted.

I was (for once) right and (for twice) was able to find them easily. Black and white. Fences and gates!

A little bit of snow and a deck railing
A lot of snow and the front gate – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Farmyard fence
Western fence — Photo: Garry Armstrong
Along Rockport Harbor

BATHROOM REDO AND THE BUSYNESS OF LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong

Have I mentioned we’ve been a little bit busy?

We have indeed been a little bit busy and more than a little pressed for time. Everything seems to happen at the same time. For me, all my medical stuff happens in March.

Installing plumbing
The bathtub is already gone.

For reasons I don’t entirely understand, most of my major surgeries have occurred in March which is why I’ve spent so many birthdays in the hospital. It’s also why I have so many physical work-ups in March.

Putting in the glass doors

I suppose in a way it’s good. I get everything sorted out in a month or maybe six weeks and with a little luck, I don’t have to think about it again for another six months or a year. But the period of time makes life pretty hectic and the older we get, the harder these hectic periods are for us. I get tired quickly and these days, Garry wears out fast too.

Utility wall and shower
Bench end

Add to that all the changes I’ve been making in sorting out our utilities and this major change in the house … and there are more to come. I’ve still got to get the chimney repaired before it falls down.

Bench end with sink and window
As much of the room as I could fit into the picture!

Did I mention that someone apparently took a baseball bat to our mailbox? And our across-the-street neighbor’s mailbox too? And our around the block neighbor’s mailbox too? Apparently, that’s what bored teenage boys do in rural neighborhoods in winter when there’s absolutely nothing to do. So we can’t get mail delivered until we get a new mailbox and post — which we can’t do until the ground melts and the snow is gone. Which is going to be a few more days, assuming we don’t get any more freezes.

Winter makes everything somehow busier. The plowing and the shoveling and the expense of paying the plow which is huge for our small budget.

Another view of the bathroom. Looks pretty good!

And everything will settle down in another month or so I fondly believe. Meanwhile, here are some pictures. I’ll try to get some better ones with a wide-angle lens tomorrow assuming we have reasonable light.

It’s supposed to rain. Or maybe not.

THE SPIKIEST MARCH WOODPECKERS YET – Marilyn Armstrong

More Spiky Birds in March – 03/15/19

They are redoing our bathroom today and we finally put the two Scotties in the crate and the flying Duke is on a lead. No dog is going anywhere we don’t want them to go.

I’m sure it will do them a world of good. Duke doesn’t mind all that much. He likes being glued to us anyhow. The crate is every dog’s favorite hangout, so that’s fine. Shortly, we’ll put them outside for a couple of hours. I just needed to let the workmen get their materials into the house before putting the pooches out.

So far, so good. Of course, the water is off so I sure hope no one has to do anything bathroom-related anytime soon!

I woke up and there was the Cardinal. I came into the dining room and he was gone — even before I got my hands on the camera. I just sighed. It’s a daily ritual.

I did take a lot of pictures the other day, mainly of our persistent woodpeckers. I keep changing my mind about which one this one is — Downy or Hairy. I think I see both and I was pretty sure this one was a Hairy, but I could be wrong.

Your guess is as good (maybe better!) than mine!

Hairy or Downy? I think he is big enough for a Hairy and that beak looks big enough, too. You think?

And remember it is not just spiky squares we are looking for, you can also be jagged, barbed, bristly, serrated, prickly, spiny, and pointy.