BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE! – Marilyn Armstrong

Following the snow came the arctic blast from somewhere in the northwest. The sun was out when I got up, so it was a beautiful gleaming woods. The birds, for a change, had control of the feeders … but sneak squirrels had a takeover in mind.

Frozen woods

Ice everywhere

The birds didn’t feel like giving up the feeders and they flew around him until he went to a nearby tree to hang out for a while. Not for very long, though. A determined squirrel is not easily deterred.

Up a tree, thinking about seeds

Getting ready for another assault on the feeder

It’s really COLD out here! Where are those seeds?

Hunger no more! I’m home at last.

BIRDS AND THE FIRST SNOW WITH ONE SQUIRREL — Marilyn Armstrong

This is not the first major storm on the second day of December. There was a blizzard in Boston in December in the mid-1990s. The thing is, when we got significant early snow, it generally means that it’s going to be a rough winter. A snowy winter. Last year was, as we say around here, a piece of cake.

Not this year.

Oh how much I want to be wrong about this. And, you never know. We might have a month of fine weather after this. Even two months. It has happened. In terms of weather? If you live around here, EVERYTHING has happened and not just once.

The birds were really hungry today. There were flocks of them surrounding the feeders. I know the squirrels line up in the morning and I let them have the morning to feed, but by lunchtime, it’s time to let the rest of the wildlife have some food. If it were possible to actually reason with the feathery and furry crew, I’d explain that they could share. Squirrels on one feeder, birds on the other.

Sharing!

In fact, I have a picture — something you never see: a Chickadee and a squirrel together on one feeder. If a squirrel and a Chickadee can do it, why can’t our senators and congresspeople be equally reasonable?

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.

THE MOST NIMBLE OF ALL SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Monday: Nimble

This is our squirrel. He shows up in the middle of the day and hangs around, in the most literal sense, for hours. He wraps himself around the feeder like a fur coat, hanging by one paw or two, upside down, or completely twisted into a configuration that’s hard to figure out.

He definitely does not have back problems and I’m pretty sure he thinks he lives on our deck.

NON-VERBAL AND PRESCIENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Prescient

The definition of the word means “knowing events or information before it is available,” but the word is usually used to mean “having a sense of what is coming.” Like me, having a sick feeling despite all the surveys, Hillary was not going to win. It is also prescient knowing that the little squirrel is hiding in the branch of that tree, waiting for me to stop waiting by the window so he can come back for more black seeds.

We have one young one who is totally hooked on black sunflower seeds and will settle for nothing else. He would be there 24 hours a day if I didn’t occasionally come outside and tell him he really needs to move on.

Prescient is that feeling you get when someone very sick is going to die … you just “feel” it. I’ve often watched my dogs communicate with each other. Without words, they seem to know what the others want — or they are letting them know what’s happening with just a nose-to-nose sniff.

Animals use non-verbal communication constantly. It isn’t prescient … it’s just non-verbal communications that I bet we could use if we wanted to. I suspect we did, too, before we started to chatter all the time. I think we all could, like our dogs, tell each other “things” without words or formal knowledge. We still do it. Couples use “the look” a lot. It’s the look which says “let’s split” or “that guy’s an idiot.” We know the look, we know its meaning. We pick right up on it.

So we are all prescient at some level.

Can I read tomorrow’s news without a newspaper? Sure I can. Trump will do something insulting and evil while everyone acts as if it’s normal. England will still not know what to do about Brexit. Half the world will hate refugees and the other half will be refugees.

Most foreknowledge is solidly based on past knowledge. You know what always happens, so you have no doubts what is about to happen. Is that prescience or experience? Both?

These days, I think our whole world is prescient.

THE NEWEST SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

Most of the squirrels who come to hang out on the flat feeder are bigger and fatter. They have scars, some of them relatively new and raw. This was quite a small squirrel. Not scars that I could see, not even a mismatched grown-in area of fur. Maybe still a young one.

Not yet a survivor. I wondered how he would do with all the dangers surrounding him. It was like watching your little one and hoping they will survive kindergarten … or freshman year … or … parenthood!

Young squirrel

We see each other!

Young and hungry

THE CHANGING SEASONS: FEBRUARY 2019 – Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: February 2019

This has been a very strange winter. Instead of what we usually get — mountains of snow accompanied by very cold weather — we got a tiny bit of snow, a fair amount of sleet, and a lot of rain and wind.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – House and some snow

Aldrich Street – Photo: Garry Armstrong

In a lot of ways, this is a good summary of this winter. A little snow, a lot of sleet, and when this picture was taken, 60 mph winds were blowing.

And of course, there were the birds. Two bird feeders, about 100 pounds of birdseed … and one Panasonic 4/3 telephoto 100-300 mm lens later …

And of course, our Christmas cactus that has been in more or less continuous bloom since Thanksgiving ..

And more pictures from Garry.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

If you look beyond the fence, you’ll see Gibbs and the Duke by the front steps

Photo: Garry Armstrong

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

Bonnie and living room

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.

Three bright birds

If you do a ping-back to this post, Su-Leslie will update it with links to all the other photographers.

FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION #14 – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #14

I’m going to quote Fandango’s premise on this because otherwise, my answer won’t make sense:

“This week’s provocative question asks about how we perceive the world in which we live. There is a philosophical and psychological concept called qualia, which states that our surroundings can only be observed through the filter of our senses and the ruminations of our minds.

Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, or the perceived redness of an evening sky. In other words, everything you know, everything you’ve touched, seen, and smelled, has been filtered through any number of physiological and cognitive processes.”

And the question:


“Do you believe that anyone can really experience anything objectively? Why or why not?”


At the risk of sounding like I’m missing the point unless we are in some kind of anti-sensory pool is there any way to experience reality without passing it through your senses?

I don’t think so. I think we are all subject to our senses because I don’t see any other way. For good or ill, we are animals, not spirits. We feel as creatures, not as wraiths, ghosts, or Fey.

GOOD MORNING FRIENDS, BIRDS, AND A SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

This is another one of those “lost days” for me. There seem to be more and more of them, like I’ve been saving them up. But the suitcase got too small and everything is bursting out and blowing all over the place.

We had a long summer of nothing much going on, preceded by a long slow winter and spring, suddenly, as summer rolled around … everything went wild and crazy. For us, that is. For someone else, probably not so much but we don’t move fast.

I never seem to have a whole day to just relax. Or even a  half a day.

Squabbling Juncos or a Junco and a Nuthatch. Hard to tell.

The reddest bird of all birds

The red one’s lady friend

Chickadee and Goldfinch

Early Squirrel

Tomorrow we get our taxes done. I’m hoping for the best and hopefully, we won’t have another government shut-down and we’ll actually get our refund. This year. Like … soon. Because we need an infusion of money.

Finances are running a bit thin. And did I mention that it’s gotten very cold again with sleet and snow and maybe freezing rain tomorrow? But not to worry because it will be 50 degrees by the weekend, at which point, it will all melt.

PICTURES INCLUDING A “Q” – SQUIRRELS AND ANTIQUES

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter Q – Simply needs to have the letter Q


What would I do without squirrels and antiques? In this case, I would be lost! The moment I realized I had pictures of squirrels — in my case, stuffed dog toy squirrels — and a lot of antique whatevers, I knew I was “home free,” so to speak. Welcome to my Q world!

An antique airplane

Gibbs with squirrel – soon to be a non-squirrel

Bonnie protecting the squirrel from other marauders — but she is the worst of them!

Friend’s don’t let friends bat ninth! Garry wearing Evil Squirrel’s best Tee Shirt!

And finally, antiques, from an airplane to a cookie jar and an iron doorstop. Old, older, oldest!

TAIL OF THE TALE – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE

CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE: 2016 WEEK 26


Since the invasion of the hideous caterpillars, I’ve been hiding. Even though the creepy crawlies seem to be gone, the weeks when they took over my world left me jittery and anxious. I don’t know whether they just died after eating everything there was to eat … or they have turned into cocoons and will return soon as a massive moth invasion … but I figured it was time to get over myself.

Today, after finally admitting I’ve been hiding, I took courage … and a couple of cameras … in hand and went to shoot some pictures. Outside, in the world. And saw many dead caterpillars littering the landscape. Definitely dead. Ex caterpillars. Unmoving. Finally finished.

I tell people that I’m sure we have squirrels, but I never see them. When summer comes around, our tall oak trees typically form a solid canopy. You can’t see the stars or the moon … and definitely not squirrels.

72-tale-tail-062616_008

Except … today I saw birds and squirrels. Sadly, the squirrels saw me a little too soon. But I got the tail end of the story …

CRAZED SQUIRREL DEFEATED BY BAVARIAN CREME (FILM AT 11)

The Daily Post offered this prompt today:

Under the Snow — You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

But … Bill Brown at Evil Squirrel’s Nest proffered this juicy idea:

The last thing you see before you wake up in the hospital!

The last thing you saw before you woke up in the hospital!

You’re out on the street one day minding your own business… perhaps humming your favorite Steely Dan song or taking random pictures for a blog post.  All of a sudden, from out of nowhere, a wild, ferocious squirrel starts barreling towards you with a nut in his mouth!!!  What do you do!?!?!?

Seriously, what choice did I have? Squirrel 1, WordPress 0.

The competition was too unfair. WordPress could never compete with this kind of sheer brilliance … so I had to write about crazed squirrel attackers bearing nuts.


Should I run? Try to hide? What thoughts run through my head?

{Thoughts …}

My insurance company is not going to believe this.

My husband is not going to believe this.

I don’t believe this.

This will make a great post on my blog.

Ow. Get your pointy little teeth out of my leg you wretched fur piece. I will turn you into a muff! What do you mean “what’s a muff?”

Thinking quickly (because I do not wish to have my leg chewed off by a squirrel on Boston Common), I reach into a greasy paper bag and hand its contents over to my squirrely nut case: “Here, have a doughnut. Now, isn’t that better than some tasteless acorn?”

Crazed squirrel, calmed by the sudden onrush of calories, fat, and mm Good Bavarian crème drags the doughnut to the nearest tree where, for the next several hours, he attempts to haul it up the trunk to the safety of branches above.

With each attempt, he is forced to consume another bite until eventually, bloated, sated, full of cholesterol, and calories, he lies in a semi stupor on the grass. It’s a well-deserved nap for a valiant squirrel who fought the good fight, but lost to a Bavarian crème doughnut. As so many of us have before and will again.

Good night Sweet Prince.

Back in the city again …

Before we became country mice, we were city rats. Garry lived in Boston, downtown in Government Center, for 20 years, then another 10 in Roxbury. I lived in Jerusalem for 9 years, Boston for 3, then Roxbury (which is really part of Boston) for 10 … and then we took our show on the road and moved out here.

It is a bigger different than mere geography. It’s a completely different ambiance, a different texture. Ironically, although the air is cleaner, almost completely free of industrial pollutants, it is thick with pollen and dust. My asthma is far worse out here in the country among the trees and grasses than it ever was in town with the car fumes and chimney soot and all. That, and of course all the dog hair we have in the air and everywhere.

It’s pretty out here. We’ve got the river and the canal, waterfalls everywhere you look. Autumn, when we don’t get rained out, is glorious and you can stop at farm stands and get fresh organic veggies and fruits any time they are in season. We’ve got cows and horses, goats and a dizzying array of wildlife.

Deer, raccoon, the cheekiest chipmunks you’ve ever met … and then there are bats, rats, an infinite number of field mice. A bobcat with glow-in-the-dark eyes and coyotes that look like big friendly dogs. Nasty fishers with coats like mink and when the bobcat hasn’t eaten them all, rabbits. Squirrels, but fewer than there used to be before the bobcats. They are small but mighty hunters.

Irony again: the biggest, nastiest raccoon I ever met was on Beacon Hill, in our back walled garden. He was big, fat, and he wasn’t taking any crap from me. He informed me that the back patio belonged to him and I was disinclined to argue the point.

I never went back there again. At least the raccoons around here stay in their own part of town, or woods.

Early Color

There’s a hint of autumn in the air. Yesterday, we went to friends and barbecued and ate … and I wore sandals and my feet were cold. It’s the beginning. Summer isn’t officially over, but really, it’s over.

We can feel it. The oak trees are shedding. The squirrels are busy.

On the deck, the leaves are starting to pile up. Mostly oak, bronze and a bit of yellow, yet they are starting to fall from the trees and soon we’ll be hip deep in leaves and acorns.

Time to park the cars where falling acorns can’t make dents in the roofs. When the acorns are fat, the winter is usually long and hard. The acorns are very fat this year.

I took some pictures, there and a few more at home. It’s starting. The first hue is gold and some dark reds.

The flowers are gone to seed. A last few straggling roses are trying to bloom one last time.