TRIBUTE TO THE DETERMINED SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Tribute

When I went to buy my bird feeders, some feeders were listed as “squirrel-proof.”

After I read the reviews, it proved what I pretty much knew: No feeder is squirrel-proof. What the feeder I bought said was that though squirrels would get to it, the feeder was sturdy enough to still be a feeder after the squirrel finished eating.

Squirrels really eat. They get up on the feeder, usually the flat feeder. It’s easier for them being nothing but a large, flat hanging piece of wood with a screen on the bottom.  Today, though, it was full of frozen sleet and I don’t think any of the critters could get into it. I was up early because I had to call UMass Hospital and that’s always a lot more effort than it ought to be.

I called once and clearly whoever I was talking to didn’t know anything, so … I called again. After which, I called my current cardiologist. I got the piece of paper my cardiologist sent. But it was a release to give the hospital access to all the material they already had.

I called back and I said, “How am I supposed to fill this form out, especially because I already transferred all my medical information to you folks more than two years ago?”

I finally got transferred to the administrator of the cardiologist group and it all got straightened out in about two minutes. All I needed was to talk to someone who actually knew what was going on.

She told me not to worry, that the cardiologists all had access to pacemaker checking equipment and it wasn’t in a separate lab (as had been true both at Beth Israel and with my previous cardiologist), but was in the doctor’s office. I could decide if I to do my regular pacemaker checkups in person or via telephone.

Telephone? You can do it by REGULAR and not a special smartphone. Just a regular telephone connected on WiFi.

I knew it was possible, but I figured it required some special equipment I didn’t have — or at least, an application I would need to install. But apparently, any telephone will do the job. Isn’t that amazing?

And when she finished explaining this — which really made me feel a whole lot better — she gave me HER DIRECT TELEPHONE NUMBER.

I said: “I’ve had the hardest time trying to get in touch with people at UMass.”

“We have far too many phone numbers,” she agreed. “But this one will get you directly to me. I work 6am to 1pm, so if you call in the afternoon, leave a message and I promise to get right back to you!”

Music to my ears. Truly, after the fiasco with AT&T (they actually sent me ” come back, we have deals!” last night proving they really don’t get it at all), to have someone give me a number I can call so I can talk to someone who  knows what’s going on and can give me an answer.


Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Please choose your favorite Deo or whichever individual, creation, or thing to whom (or which) you joyfully offer heartfelt gratitude. In my life, this varies dramatically depending on everything.


Anyway, that’s why I was up early and that’s how, having finished talking to the Cardiology Administrator (bless you, my dear) I wandered into the kitchen. I had brewed coffee and toasted an English muffin — and the window to the porch was easily visible from the kitchen and dining room.

There, wrapped around the hanging feeder, was a hungry squirrel. Eating. Not easily because getting seeds through the screen works better with a beak than a jaw … but he was doing it.

The squirrel looked at me. I looked at the squirrel. He went back to eating black sunflower seeds which all the larger birds from woodpeckers to doves love — and that includes squirrels.

I picked up my camera and took pictures and he moved around to make sure I had photographed his “good” side. I’m not sure he has a bad side. He hung in every possible position from which a big squirrel can hang from a feeder. He did, I noticed, have a nasty gash in the back of his neck, as if a hawk had tried to grab him. It was scabbed over, but it must have really hurt. I was glad he got a meal at my deck today.

Eventually, I got pictures from every angle and I wanted coffee. The toaster had popped. I wanted my muffin while it was hot.

So this is a tribute, a paeon to the determination of our creatures of the woods. Despite our destruction of so much of their habitat, they find a way to survive. Some of us put out some food for them because we think it’s the least we owe them. We can’t save it all, but at least we can make sure they get the occasional decent meal.

Here’s to the determination of squirrels who can always find a way to get a meal out of any bird feeder. Here’s to squirrels who escape from the hawk and to hawks who hunt the squirrels. Because that’s the way it works in the wild.

SOME PEOPLE ARE GOING TO A RESORT. I’M GOING FOR BLOOD TESTS. – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Resort

I have a few retired friends who are always off to someplace fun. A resort in the Caribbean. A vacation in the south of France. A little trip to Micronesia with a quick stop in Hawaii.

Me? I’m on my way to get blood taken because I really know how to have a good time.

We were up early enough this morning for me to prove what I knew by inference: early in the day, a furry four-legged bird hits that flat feeder with a vengeance.

I would have taken this picture — pretty little thing all fluffy and red — but Bonnie thought it was a good time to bark furiously because I had bypassed the treat container and gone, instead, for my camera.

The birds scattered, the squirrel fled.

I put the camera back down, glared at Bonnie who was still barking and adjourned for coffee.

Before you think me cruel, recognize this was not her first hit on the treats this morning. She had already barked me out of bed twice earlier for a quick treat. Bonnie weighs like two big cinder blocks and is not wasting away for lack of goodies. Just saying.

So indeed, there is an early morning squirrel. I just usually miss him or her due to differing sleep patterns.

You all have a great day now, y’hear?

BIRDS AND CACTUS: LAST DECEMBER IN A NUTSHELL – Marilyn Armstrong

Since we never did Changing Seasons for December, I thought I’d put together a nice collection of this month.

It’s pretty much all birds and cactus because I got bird feeders in November, and my cactuses, which were blooming in November and at Christmas are still blooming. Vigorously. The most enthusiastic blooming I’ve ever seen and lots and lots of birds.

And then, there were two Christmas cactus. First, the scarlet one bloomed and now, the pink one, which looks redder than it is supposed to be, is blooming.

 

And of course, there was Christmas.

Our tree, before the gift
The tree with the gifts

And Bonnie was groomed!

Groomed Bonnie

And of course, let’s not forget the squirrels!

And that’s pretty much December. Not counting watching movies and having Garry hear stuff! Not outdoor pictures unless you count the birds and squirrel, but it was certainly a busy photographic month. I worked so hard on the birds and squirrels I developed an actual issue with my right arm. I needed a cortisone shot. Anyone have a spare tripod?

BIRDS OF MY WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

Nope, not part of a challenge. It’s merely that I have so many pictures of birds taken this week, I figure I ought to share them.

I have a new bird book. I broke my vow and ordered the long lens for my Olympus OMD — which cost more than the camera cost — but it’s the only game in town and I really need to use the camera that I can focus.

I don’t see a lot of squirrels in the feeder, but by the volume of disappearing food, I’m betting they get there, eat a lot, and disappear. Probably to take a long nap in a tall tree.

Can’t forget the squirrels!
Goldfinch waiting for his pals

In the course of this week, the various flocks of Goldfinch (Magnolia, American, et al) have totally taken over the feeder. They fly around it in flocks. Somehow, a few Tufted Titmouses, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and various woodpeckers drop by, but mostly … lots and lots of Goldfinch.

One mourning dove
A couple of birds. Face forward, please. I can’t tell what you are from your tail feathers!

Oh, and about the Juncos. I have a few that are so fat, I’m surprised they can still fly.

My favorite Chickadee
Cutest house finch

Today, the feeder was pretty close to empty. My son has other stuff going on and I didn’t want to bother him, so I figured “How long can it take to fill a bird feeder?” Owen does it in two minutes.

Four Goldfinches (one is mostly behind the feeder)
Still flying, they grab a seed and go for the trees!

But you see, he’s well over six feet tall and I am just barely hitting five feet. I couldn’t reach the feeder. I dragged out something to stand on, but it was too tall and I was afraid I’d ruin my future by falling off the deck head first, so finally, I turned it sideways and stood crookedly on its legs. Not very comfortable — or steady.

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker
A lonely Nuthatch

And it turns out that this bird feeder holds five pounds of food. Maybe more. It’s a lot of food. A lot more food than you think. Like … tubs of it. Maybe that’s why the Juncos are so fat? Also, some of the Goldfinch look pretty well-rounded too.

The gallant Tufted Titmouse

Eventually, they will all just sit on my deck waiting for the goodies. Unable to fly. Just sitting like little, feathered cupcakes.

I think even the squirrels are bloated.

Is it possible that I am over-feeding my wild creatures?

And finally, just so you don’t think I’m delusional, this is a picture of my Pileated Woodpecker. It’s blurry, but I think it’s definitely that big woodpecker. I’m hoping one day, he’ll drop by and hang around long enough for me to take a picture that has … you know … edges.

No matter what they say on television, you cannot take a tiny piece of a picture, blow it up, and get a nice clear image. It doesn’t work.

SPEAKING OF SQUIRRELS, A LITTLE DIY FOR YOUR SPARE TIME – Marilyn Armstrong

Need something to do with all that spare time?

This one was a beer advertisement!

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THE SQUIRREL WHO WOULDN’T LEAVE – Marilyn Armstrong

When I bought a second, flat feeder, I knew the squirrels would enjoy it.

You can’t not feed the squirrels unless you live somewhere where there are no squirrels and where might that be? The best you can do is put up feeders which the squirrels won’t destroy.

Let’s hope the bears don’t show up.


So the hanging feeder is metal and guaranteed to survive attacking squirrels and the flat feeder basically says “Come one, come all.”

It took the squirrels about a week to discover the feeders. After that, it took another 48 hours to recognize I am a mere, powerless homeowner. So no matter what I tell them, they don’t have to go.

It’s something about me, I suppose. Garry says I’m a softie and everyone (everything) knows it. The first time I saw a fat squirrel sitting in the flat feeder, I tapped on the window and he was so surprised, he fell onto the deck and hit the stairs at a run.

Times change.

This morning I got up and there was a smaller (girl?) squirrel settled into the flat feeder munching down about two pounds of corn and sunflower seeds. I tapped on the window. She looked me squarely in the eyes and dove back into the goodies. I tapped again. She ignored me completely.

I finally opened the door and said: “Hey, Squirrel Girl, move your butt outta there.” She looked at me and I swear it could have been Bonnie giving me the same look. She took another mouthful of corn and didn’t even twitch.

“I said move it on out. You’ve had enough. Leave something for the other guests.”

No movement. She sat there munching corn. She had a calculating look, the same one I get from the dogs. “How fast can she really run? What’s she gonna do anyhow? Hey, this corn is yummy.”

So I finally went out onto the deck and said: “Run for it, squirrel, or you’re going to be MY dinner.” Very slowly, she emerged from the feeder, climbed down the upright and sat on the railing. Looking at me. I said, “Go. I mean it.”

She walked — slowly — to the top of the stairs and sat there. I approached. She went down a couple of steps. I stomped on the deck. She went down two more steps. I waved my hands around and finally, she left. It was obvious the moment I wasn’t there, she’d be back. Even if I am there, she will still be back. There are fearless squirrels in my forest.

“Are you going to give her a name?” Garry asked.

Goodbye! Actually, she was jumping INTO the flat feeder, not out of it.

This squirrel is not a visitor. She has moved in. She is now one of the kids and will expect high-quality victuals from this day forward.

Showing Our Appreciation

Somehow, it’s so appropriate that today is squirrel appreciation day. I’m not sure why, but it is. This is a holiday I can wrap my brain around!

Evil Squirrel's Nest

Woohoo!  It's our day!!!!  OUR DAY!!!!!! Woohoo! It’s our day!!!! Just for us!!!

For the first time since I started the feature in the Fall of 2012, my weekly Saturday Squirrel post coincides with the biggest sciurine holiday of them all, National Squirrel sqturday squirrel logoAppreciation Day!  Celebrated every January 21st since 2001, it is a time for reflecting on the many positive qualities squirrels bring to our lives.  It is a time to love the species rather than curse its existence.  It is a time to celebrate the happiness and joy that we humans can get from these very special arboreal critters that can be found almost everywhere on earth!

The Nest will honor this most glorious occasion by recalling some of our favorite Saturday Squirrels from the past, so you can get to appreciate their beauty and humor one more time!  And we may as well start with the squirrel who appears in every Saturday post…

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