this wild life

That’s what we are, an official Wildlife Habitat, as the sign on the picket fence announces.

Birds abound. This morning I watched a Baltimore Oriole flit in and around the Mulberry tree than hangs over the shed. It was the first time I’d ever seen one of those. Of course, the feeders and suet cages attract all kinds of birds, and Cooper and other hawks frequently sail overhead, watching for edibles lurking in the woods behind our house. I am particularly fond of the Grackle who comes to the feeder outside my window where my cat keeps watch. (I finally put up a baffle that seems to work for keeping the squirrels from eating all of the bird food.)

In addition to the neighborhood rabbits, we have two (at least) resident woodchucks whose burrows are under the shed (in which lives a silver-dollar sized spider). My daughter took this photos of the largest woodchuck in mid-chew. There is a new baby this year, and we watched it timidly exploring the back yard this morning. The giant hostas seem to be very hospitable to the daily caravan of chipmunks who make their careful way several times a day to gather up what crumbs the birds have left behind.

There is a downside to all of this wildlife. We’ve had to choose between a beautiful climbing rose bush (that actually bloomed both red and white roses this spring) and the woodchucks (who ate off the the leaves and flowers). The wild woodchucks won.

My grandson spends his days investigating ant colonies and identifying various flying objects. Summer moves in lush and lingering, and we are hopeful that the fence will keep the critters out of our vegetable garden. And that’s about as wild as life gets around here.

24 is a good number

My son-in-law says it’s his lucky number, so he and my daughter were married on May 24th, fourteen years ago. I hope that they had a Happy Anniversary today. I made dinner — spicy glazed shrimp over pasta with a double chocolate mouse pie for dessert. I even did the dishes (that’s usually my son-in-law’s job). And my grandson dressed like a waiter in a fancy restaurant and poured the champagne, served the dinner and dessert, and cleaned the table after.

It was a nice day all-around, even though it was muggy and the mosquitoes were out having a great time.

I’ve always wanted to grow calla lilies, and today my daughter planted the pot of them I bought last weekend. I couldn’t resist buying them because it was the first time I had ever come across a whole blooming pot of them for sale. I might have liked a different color, but those were the only ones available. They won’t last through the winter in our planting zone, but I’m going to try to remember to dig up the bulbs and bring them inside during the fall. I really do like calla lilies. (duh)

All the rain we’ve been having has really stirred up the growing green. When they bought this house, I sent them an odd tree I had seen somewhere called a “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick.” From here: This shrub reaches a height of 8′-10′, with a similar spread. The flowers of Harry Lauder’s walking stick are yellowish-brown “catkins,” as on pussy willows. The blooms appear in early to middle spring. However, this shrub is not grown primarily for its blooms but for its unusual branching pattern, which is indicated by its other common names: corkscrew filbert and contorted hazelnut. For as you can see from the picture, its branches contort themselves in every which way, resembing corkscrews.

Right now, ours is only a couple of feet tall and is covered with spring leaves. But in the fall you can see the screwy branches. In a few years, it’s going to be a real eye-catcher around here.

Our gardens around the house are fun and funky, evolving as the spirit moves one or the other of us. I’m rather partial to the little troll house that sits in the middle of a section of flourishing green at the end of a little path. No one seems to be living there yet, but, certainly, any on of our resident chipmunks would be welcome to move in.

Meanwhile, over where I put a bird feeder so my cat can sit on her perch and watch the activity out her window, a male grackle visits several times a day. I’ve never had a grackle feed at a feeder; they usually just eat what falls on the ground.

This and more from here:

Although the grackle is often considered part of the blackbird family, along with crows and starlings, it actually is not. It is part of the meadowlark and oriole family of birds. It is a large black bird with an extra-long tail. About its head and shoulders are iridescent feathers that change from blue to green to purple or bronze, depending on the light.

This coloring often reflects a need for those to whom the grackle comes to look at what is going on in their life differently. It says that situations are not what they appear to be and you may not be looking at them correctly–particularly anything dealing with the emotions.

Keep in mind that black is the color of the inner and the feminine. The purple and bronze coloring about the head especially usually indicates that emotions are coloring our thinking process. The grackle can help us to correct this.

Spring. Newness. Hope. Magic.

his dream coming true

He tells the story, here, of how his dream began at age 5:

……when everyone else was answering “policeman” or “fireman” or “doctor” to the question of what they wanted to be when they grew up, my first real answer was that I wanted to be an “outer space moving van driver”, helping (and this part was very specific) families to move into orbiting space stations…..

Well, as he goes on to explain,

Needless to say, I never did become an outer space moving van driver. Nor did I end up in space science in any fashion whatsoever. Or, indeed, in any field of science at all. (For that matter, I don’t even drive.)

But the exploration of space, whether by human or machine, has since that early memory of film fiction [2001: A Space Odyssey] been a consistent source of inspiration, and the realities of that exploration over the decades since have made me both cheer and weep over what’s possible when men and women strive for something (is there any other word for it?) awesome.

Now my son has a chance to witness, in person, the launch of the shuttle Endeavor on April 19 as one of 150 people selected from all over the world and hosted by NASA, as explained in the following

NASA will host a two-day Tweetup for 150 of its Twitter followers on April 18-19 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space shuttle Endeavour is targeted to launch at 7:48 p.m. EDT on April 19, on its STS-134 mission to the International Space Station.

The Tweetup will provide @NASA followers with the opportunity to tour the center, view the shuttle launch and speak with NASA managers, astronauts, shuttle technicians and engineers. The event also will provide participants the opportunity to meet fellow tweeps and NASA’s social media team.

He’s been invited. And, yes, he’s excited.

Now he has to find the money for air fare and housing. While he’s in the middle of discussions with his fellow invitees regarding how to share expenses, he will still have costs that, unemployed as he is at the moment, he can’t afford to pay for.

But he is an active citizen of the Net, and, as such, he’s put himself out there to ask for help from those who know him and can’t wait to see what he reports and photographs as he lives out his dream.

He says:

Please consider donating to my trip fund for this experience. Anything raised in excess of funds required to cover trip expenses will be donated to Mercy Corps for Japan earthquake relief and recovery.

Yes, I’m donating, as is his sister, and, hopefully other family members and friends.

b!X needs a break. A job would be great too, but in the meanwhile, a chance to be at Cape Canaveral on April 18 and 19 is the closest he’s ever going to get to having his childhood dream come true. And, on top of that, as he tweeted:

This trip will happen three years almost to the day since my Dad died. He would have thought this was the most awesome thing ever.

And a note to my friends and family:

I’m sure that you will never have a chance to give him a wedding gift, so how about donating a few bucks to this adventure, which will no doubt be the highlight of his life.

To donate online, go to

floating into February

This is the kind of day for skiing or snowshoeing or snow-fort building. But I don’t do any of them. I can’t seem to even walk very far these days.

But today, with the sky a clear blue and a sun that has finally left the falling snow behind, I bundle up and get myself outside for the first time in weeks. I take a short walk around a few blocks — just about as much as my joints can take today.

When I come back to the house, I haul out a stool and sit on the small porch. I close my eyes. For a moment I am back in my babyhood carriage — the old kind from the 40s, with an oil cloth cover that rolls up to my chin, so that I am warm and snuggly inside, even though my nose is cold. The sun is warm and bright on my closed eyelids. I want to be a child again.

I think of my mother — how young and happy she was when she pushed me in that carriage — how disappointment and dementia drained from her spirit what was the best of her. I think of her because her 95th birthday would have been this month; she would have made it had she lived for three more months. But it’s just as well that she didn’t; those months would have only extended her hell on earth.

I could sit here all day, pretending. But I have a math challenge to confront — figuring out how to use a sweater pattern I like but using a different weight yarn and different size needles. It’s all algebra, but math-challenged that I am, I have to work myself up to grappling with setting up the equations. I can’t seem to keep my body in shape, but I try to do so with my brain.

I do have to deal with my body, though, despite the back problems. I’m hoping I can try the “chair yoga” this week at the senior center in town — that is if it’s not canceled again because of a another snow storm. And I’ve begun firing up my wii around 4 p.m. every day just to do some balance and aerobic exercises, which I seem to sorely need.

We are all waiting for spring. But for today, I’ll take the sun on snow.


This is my response to the visual writing prompt at Magpie Tales. You can read the responses of other writers at Magpie 35.

It is the season’s leavings
that root me to this spaded place —
bent twigs, loosed leaves,
the year’s used ends and endings
storm-swept in sheltered corners.

Barren fields and desert reaches
free the weed to tumble in its time,
but the clutter of the season’s leavings
frees the roots from hidden seeds
of other spaces, other times.