Posted tagged ‘chickadees’

“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”

October 12, 2017

My friends have left, and my house is ever so quiet. As always we had the best time together. On Tuesday we had a ride along the ocean, and I took them to my favorite spots. The sun was glinting off the water. It was so warm people sat on beach chairs in the sand sunning themselves. It was a summer day in fall.

We ate appetizers on the deck. The birds had found the filled feeders, and they flew back and forth from feeders to branches. Most of them were chickadees.

Peg had brought dinner, shrimp pesto. She had also brought vegetables, a cheese log dip, crackers, some fruit and dessert. The brownies had chocolate chips, and there was a thick fudge sauce to put on them adding to the chocolate overload though I would contend there is really no such thing as a chocolate overload. I am just using the term to give a vivid picture of how wonderful dessert was. Gracie was restless that night. At 1:30 she wanted food so I fed her and I had a brownie. Afterwards, we were both quite content.

Bill is a talented furniture maker and handyman. He did some repairs in the house, a few of which have been driving me crazy. Some of the fixes include the toilet upstairs which now flushes, the toilet holder downstairs again secure on the wall, my old curio cabinet repaired and my front storm shutting automatically.

Bill and Peg brought gifts. One was a wooden Red Sox peg board. Another was a framed silhouette of a boxer. There was homemade grape jelly and African coffee. The dip was in a pottery bowl and the bowl was also a gift. I can’t think there are better guests than Bill and Peg.

Last night we had dinner at Karoo’s, a South African restaurant. It is one of my favorite places. Bill and Peg had been there before and requested it for this trip. I had monkey ribs and beef samosas for appetizers. The drink I ordered, the speciality of the night, was amazingly refreshing with vodka, grapefruit juice and a simple syrup. My dinner was bobotie beef, a curried meatloaf served with turmeric rice and chutney. Bill and Peg both had West African peanut soup with pumpkin added though in Ghana it would have been groundnut soup. Peg had a falafel sandwich. All of us had come to love Lebanese food in Ghana, and we ate many felafel sandwiches, all wrapped in foil.

This morning was leisurely. Sadly, at close to eleven, Peg and Bill started loading up to go home. Gracie and I went outside to say goodbye. My house feels empty without them.

“Look after your laundry, and your soul will look after itself.”

September 11, 2017

I’m late this morning. I slept in and so did Gracie. She sleeps in her crate for most of the night then joins me on the couch at no particular time. Today it was close to 7:30. I helped her get on the couch then got comfy and went back to sleep. That has become our daily ritual.

Last night was an afghan night, and the chill is still in the air mostly in the back of my house, in the shade. I wear a sweatshirt now while I wait for Gracie to finish in the yard. While I was outside, I noticed the bird feeders were empty so I filled two with sunflower seeds and another with thistle. Immediately, chickadees went for the sunflower and gold finches for the thistle. They arrived so quickly I figured they were hanging around on branches waiting and hoping. I’m glad I didn’t disappoint.

My dance card is pretty empty. I do have two errands which I’ll finish this afternoon. My inside plants need watering so that’s on my other list. The dust in this room is almost bad enough to force me to clean it but not yet. Maybe in a few days. I espouse the maxim that dusting today still means dusting tomorrow. It is a never ending chore.

When I was a kid, my mother cleaned the house while I was in school. It was a miracle of sorts. I’d leave for school and when I got home, the house was clean, the dishes washed and the beds made. My mother was like the shoemaker’s elves. The only chores I ever saw her do were cooking dinner and doing dishes at night and taking clothes off the line in the backyard.

We lived in a duplex so we shared the backyard with our immediate neighbor. We each had our own clotheslines, either two or three apiece. I forget which. The end of the lines were attached to metal poles which were green but always seemed to need paint. I remember the silver-colored metal underneath the green. Below the lines was pitch or what we called hot top. It was square-shaped except for the small walkway leading to the back door. The rest of the yard was grass. My mother kept her clothespins in a bag which attached to the line and could be slid up and down so she had easy access to the clothespins.

My mother hung the laundry upside down. I never asked her why. I just figured that’s how laundry is hung. What I remember the most are the sheets doubled over the lines. In my mind’s eye, they are all white. I can still see them billowing and flapping, and I remember the sound of the sheets in wind. I also remember running between and under the sheets. My mother always yelled at us.

“It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”

September 8, 2017

Today is a delight. It will be in the 70’s during the day and the mid 50’s tonight. The breeze is ever so slight. The sunshine has a fall look about it. I stayed outside with Gracie a little bit this morning so I could watch the birds. The goldfinches love the new thistle feeder, and there were four of them on it at once. One got a little possessive and chased a chickadee away. I have a new thistle feeder I haven’t put out yet, but I will in a bit as I have to fill the sunflower feeders again. Luckily I bought new seeds the other day: mixed, sunflower and thistle. I’m ready for the onslaught of the birds. Where’s Alfred Hitchcock?

This has been a busy week for me. I was out every day but yesterday. I even lost track of the days. This morning I had to think about yesterday in order to remember today. I double-checked my guess by looking at the calendar. I guessed right.

My neighborhood is noisy. I can hear lawn mowers, hedge clippers and blowers from next door. They’re probably due here next. What I don’t hear are voices or even cars. The kids are in school, and the traffic has lessened since Labor Day.

My garden has flowers in bloom. They are beautiful. Three of the four front fence pieces are covered by white clematis. I keep the gate open as the flowers have spread and have started covering the gate space. I have to sidle through. When I do, I worry a bit about the bees, but they don’t seem to care about me. They have the flowers. I added red hibiscus two weeks ago to the back of the front garden, the only bare spot. The flowers were on sale so I took the chance. The first few days I hand watered, but then it rained and it rained again. The flowers took hold. The buds have blossomed. They are tall enough to be seen from the road and add a wondrous color to the garden. Now I want more color for the few here and there spots needing flowers, but that will be for next year unless, of course, I find another great sale.

I think I’ll go to the farm stand. I’d like some home-grown tomatoes. I’m also still hoping for Thai food. My taste buds crave coconut shrimp. It is probably not a coincidence that the farm stand is on the way to the Thai restaurant.

“I cannot command winds and weather.”

September 5, 2017

The weather is sublime. The sun is shining in a clear blue sky. Sometimes there is a breeze while other times it’s a wind. The ringing of the chimes and the swishing of the leaves are the only sounds. I refilled two feeders this morning, a sunflower feeder hanging off a limb and a thistle feeder hanging off a hook on the deck. Both see lots of bird traffic. The goldfinches love the thistle. The chickadees also like the thistle, but they prefer the sunflowers seeds. Yesterday I saw a house finch, a nuthatch and a titmouse eating the sunflower seeds while the chickadees were perched on branches waiting  their turns. Today I saw two crows taking turns at the sunflower feeder. I think it is the first time I’ve seen them on the deck partaking a meal. I figure they’ll probably be back. Nobody turns down a free dinner, not even a crow.

I really hate going out to do errands. I love being home, being comfortable. I love an afternoon nap. Today I have a couple of stops, both quick ones. Gracie still can’t come, too hot for her to wait in the car, but I’ll salve her disappointment by giving her lots of treats when she goes into her crate. She’ll be fine I know, but I still feel a bit guilty.

I’m watching the weather channel to keep track of Irma. Right now it is a category 5 hurricane headed toward the Leeward Islands. Having lived through hurricanes and seen the damage the winds can do, I’d evacuate in a heartbeat.

The Emergency Alert System does a monthly TV test. This morning it did three monthly tests, all the same. I’m thinking they were dry runs in case of a hurricane.

If we were all extras in an end of the world science fiction movie, we’d probably see weather similar to what is happening now. The Northwest is suffering from record heat in the low 100’s, and the region is rife with fires exacerbated by the weather. The second destructive hurricane of the season is on its way to Florida. The East Coast will feel the impact of Irma when a cold front brings thunderstorms and pelting rain. Should any of you see four horsemen riding white, red, black, and pale horses, you’ll know the end is nigh. If a movie hadn’t already been called Armageddon, I’d have chosen it for my movie.

Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming!

August 4, 2017

The air is dripping. The humidity is so thick it seems to coat my skin when I go outside. This morning’s gray clouds are giving way to blue skies and intermittent sun. It is already hot. Here in my den, it is still cool. It won’t get hot until the afternoon after the sun moves from front to back.

The bird feeder I filled yesterday is already half empty. The birds flying in and out seem endless. One eats and two wait. They are mostly chickadees, black capped chickadees, the state bird of Massachusetts. I like to sit and watch them. The birds fly right over my head almost close enough to touch.

I can’t seem to find a story or a memory. That is rare for me as I have a huge memory drawer overflowing with scraps and pieces of my life. I guess I’m going to visit Ghana today, and I’m bringing you with me. There are so many stories yet to tell.

One day there was a knock at my door. It was a man I didn’t know. He greeted me. I returned the greeting. He told me he was looking for a white woman and was I interested. I said no. He asked me if I knew any Canadians. I said no again. He thanked me and left.

A blind beggar was being led by a small boy. The beggar was holding one end of a stick and the boy was holding the other. The beggar stopped in front of me and asked for money. This was while I was in training. It was my first beggar. I said sorry and sent him off with good wishes as you have to give a beggar something. He called me batoria, white woman. I wonder what gave me away? I also wondered if he was really blind.

I always went to the same vegetable lady in the market. I bought tomatoes and onions from her. She gave me my change the first time I bought from her, and I put it in my bag. She didn’t speak English but indicated with her hands that I should count it. I shook my head no. That cemented our relationship. After that she would dash me extra tomatoes and onions. Once she had a small watermelon. I have no idea where she got it, but she had saved it for me. When I was leaving to come home, I went to say goodbye. She was crying and gave me a hug. She also gave me a small gift. It sits on the table here in the den. She always comes to mind when I see it.

I loved the mornings in Ghana. The roosters crowed. The air smelled of charcoal fires. I could hear water filling the metal buckets where my students waited in line to take their bucket baths. I’d sit outside my front door drinking my first cup of coffee before breakfast. I had the same breakfast every day: two eggs cooked in groundnut oil (peanut oil) and two pieces of toast toasted against the sides of the small charcoal burner. I’d watch the school children cutting through my school compound to go to schools outside the gates at each end of the school. At one end was the primary school and at the other was the middle school. I was an object of curiosity until the students got used to me then they’d wish me, “Good morning, sir. How Are you? I am quite well thank you, ” all said one after the other without a break. I’d have one or two more cups of coffee between classes.

It seems my bemoaning my lack of memories was massively premature.

“Interesting fact: a shark will only attack you if you’re wet.”

August 1, 2017

The day is beautiful but warm and getting warmer. Gracie and I spent the earlier morning on the deck. I read the papers and watched the birds. Sometimes, though, I was so taken I put the paper aside and just watched. The chickadees are the most numerous. I saw two chasing each other. I don’t know if they were amorous or angry. A few nuthatches and tufted titmice also flew in for a few seeds. They waited patiently on branches for the chickadees to leave. I could hear a woodpecker at a pine tree. The fountain, filled with water, splashed and burbled. Gracie thinks it’s a bubbler, a water fountain, so I have to keep filling it. The loud sound of a mower from next door broke the magic of the deck so Gracie and I came inside.

I have to leave the house today to do three errands. I’m hoping they won’t take too long. I have mapped the route, a summer necessity to avoid traffic though today is too nice a beach day to expect tourists on the road.

It will be hot today. It is already 82˚ but won’t get much higher. Tonight will be in the 60’s.  If I controlled the weather, I would make today just the way it is and the way it will be tonight.

I brought my camera with me to the deck and took pictures of the deck and the birds. The flowers in the clay pots are blooming. They are mostly on the long rail, but a few big ones are the deck where it ends. I love the look of the clay pots and the wooden flower boxes planted with herbs which are on one smaller rail. When I sit at the table, I can smell basil.

I’m still watching shark movies on Syfy. With most television programs being reruns, I watch baseball or sharks. The Sox won last night and so did the sharks until the end of the movie. We get to watch them devour people before the sharks are blown up which seems to be the only way to kill dinoshark, atomic shark, ghost shark, ice shark, roboshark and so many others, all man eaters. That five headed shark, Sunday’s movie, shared the victims. One head ate a half while another head ate the other half. The front end of the shark had four heads so I felt gypped until they showed the fifth head on the tail. It never seemed to eat but its jaw kept opening and closing.

Jaws was made in Cape waters, and when the first great whites showed up off the coast, there was a sort of Jaws frenzy. Last year 68 various kinds of sharks were spotted off Cape Cod. If they ever start feasting on tourists I may do nothing, but that could prickle my conscience so I’ll explain from my Syfy experience that blowing them up is the only solution.

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“Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.”

March 30, 2015

Yesterday was a gold star day. I was busier than I have been in a long time. Maybe the weather prompted all the industry, maybe boredom. It’s difficult to decide. I emptied the litter boxes then checked the fridge for expired foods, packed the trash and recycle bags into the trunk then Gracie I went to the dump. My thinking had been to go late figuring the dump would be quiet. Wrong! It was filled with cars waiting their turns to get near the bins. We were lucky and didn’t have to wait long. When I got home, I filled three bird feeders and two suet feeders. This morning the birds were back. I watched them from my kitchen window. The regulars, chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, titmice and woodpeckers, flew in and out grabbing seeds every time. The woodpecker stayed a while eating suet. A gray spawn ran up and down the deck rail but didn’t go at the feeders. He was looking for spilled seeds. Yesterday afternoon I fixed all the timers so the outside decorative lights come on and go off at a decent time, not three in the morning. I did two loads of wash and didn’t leave a load in the dryer, so unlike my usual habit of letting a load sit for a week or two. This time I folded them and even put them away.

All that industry still perplexes me. Usually I plan those chores over a few days or even not at all. I don’t like to tire myself. Today I was thinking of cleaning out the cabinet but I was able to stop myself in time. Maybe I have caught the spring cleaning bug. I know I wasn’t immunized against that one. I guess I’ll have to use self-control.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have any chores to do. My mother pretty much did everything. She made my bed every day and did all the cooking and all the dishwashing. Sometimes I’d help clear the table, but that was it and it was voluntary. I never thought about it. That was the way it was in my house. My brother emptied the basket. That was his chore. He complained of inequality but nobody listened. I think it was sort of idyllic.

The day is decidedly ugly: damp, cold and grey. Showers are a possibility. My dance card is filled this week. Today is my only sloth day, and I’m taking full advantage. I figure I deserve it.

“The desire to reach for the sky runs deep in our human psyche.”

August 16, 2013

My feet are cold. I was outside reading the papers, and it felt chilly. The table is in the shade and the sun is still working its way around the house so the backyard has a bit of the night chill about it. While I was outside, I filled the seed and the suet feeders. Later, I’ll have to clean and refill the bird bath. Chickadees use it all the time to drink from while robins love a good bath.

Around six last night, my friend and I were on the deck enjoying a drink with some cheese and crackers. I noticed movement at a house across the street on the corner and kept trying to be attentive to my friend but also trying to keep an eye on the happening across the street. I thought I saw heads and spindly legs. I did. I was watching wild turkeys make their way down the street. I told my friend to turn around and take a look. She said she was wondering what had drawn my attention. Two of the turkeys were enormous, as big as I’ve ever seen. All of them, the toms and their hens, took their time wandering on another neighbor’s lawn and a few hens stopped to eat something. They then casually crossed the street to the yard next to mine. Gracie watched their progress from the deck. She didn’t bark but seemed as intrigued as we were. It has been a while since I’ve seen the turkeys on my street. It was fun to have them back.

My first plane flight was when I was a freshman in college. My parents gave me a ticket from Hyannis to Boston as an Easter gift. I was thrilled. The route was beautiful: over the water and the shore. The plane was old and perfect for my first flight. I had always wished I could have ridden in a PanAm Clipper during its heyday, and this plane reminded me a little of that. It was a prop and you had to walk uphill to your seats. The pilots were behind a curtain which didn’t shut all the way, and you could watch them at the controls. It was like going back in time.

That plane ride is my favorite of all, but I have a few others on the list. The flight from Argentina to Uruguay, a quick jump cross the water, had a raffle for a woman’s handbag. I didn’t win. A Ghana Airways flight from Tamale to Accra circled so many times I think the pilot was lost. It is the only plane on which I have ever felt air sick. It was all that circling. The flight to Cusco was the most dramatic. We were close enough to the mountains that we could see the shadow of the plane. On my first ever flight to Ghana, in 1969, I remember when we flew over the Sahara. It was like my geography book had come to life. I saw the rolling brown sand with what looked liked ridges, and it was a thrill I’ve never forgotten.

“Film is one if three universal languages, the other two: mathematics and music.”

May 18, 2013

The house is always colder than outside this time of the year. I had to put my sweatshirt on as soon as I woke up. The cats, of course, ran to the sun streaming through the front door as soon as I opened it. I went outside while the coffee was brewing. Gracie was investigating the yard. The air felt a bit chillier today than it had yesterday. I watched the birds for a while, and it seems one of the chickadees is checking out my flamingo bird house. I hope she nests there. My other bird house fell, and I don’t have a ladder to put it up high enough, and my tree climbing days are long over so I’ll have to see if I can get a bit of help. The deck looks great. All it needs is some warm weather.

The Star Trek movie was excellent. The two hours went by quickly, and it was easy to get into the characters again and fun to recognize bits from the other Star Trek movies, the ones with the original cast. Roles were reversed in this version. Spock did a Kirk and Kirk did a Spock.

Reviews are funny. The Globe gave the movie 3 and a half stars. Today in the Cape Times it got 2 and was called humdrum.

When I walked into the theater, I could hear two people chatting. They were sitting a row apart so they weren’t with one another. I missed the beginning of the conversation, but I did hear the man say he had to go through his 8 thousand stamps. The woman asked him if he was a stamp collector. I laughed and tried to imagine other reasons to have 8 thousand stamps. Lots of pen pals maybe? A wall in his house looking for a different treatment? A bit of hoarding? I wished they’d have chatted a bit more but my walking in stopped their conversation. I guessed they figured they’d lost their privacy. A fourth person joined us, the couple and I, in watching the movie. A weekday afternoon is a great time to see a movie.

I have one event on my dance card today. A speaker at the library at 2 o’clock talking about the dune shacks. It’s my turn to bring the cookies.

“The woods would be quiet if no bird sang but the one that sang best.”

March 28, 2013

The morning is cloudy and was rainy earlier but it was a small rain, droplets. I would moan and groan about the sunless world in which I live except this morning was different. Over the sound of the rain I could hear birds singing. They were greeting the morning, and rain didn’t matter: it was the joy of the morning.

I stood at the kitchen window and watched the flicker pecking at suet in the feeder I bought just for him. A bird I don’t know waited its turn. I’ll look it up later in my bird book. One goldfinch was bright with color, the first to break out of winter drab. I noticed the thistle feeder is empty. I’ve had more goldfinches than ever, sometimes seven or eight at the same time, and thistle is a favorite of theirs. The chickadees are few, and I miss them. They, the titmice and nuthatches are the sunflower seed birds. I have three different feeders for them. The sole woodpecker is either at the suet in the small feeder or tapping a pine tree. The small suet feeder looks like a house. It’s kind of cool and the birds grab on upside down.

I don’t remember people having bird feeders in their yards when I will little. The few times we went to Boston in the warmer weather, I remember feeding the pigeons and the ducks at the Public Garden. I also remember feeding the squirrels. That was before their spawn days. I thought it was really neat to see them so up-close. Pigeons are still fun to watch. Drop a few pieces of bread and they all move to the same spot, pushing and shoving and even taking to the air. They are very noisy birds. I always feel bad about pigeons. They’re nobody’s favorite bird. They have squat bodies and are dull in color. Pigeons seem to hang around in large numbers so the odds of getting bread are slim. I always try to throw some to the back of the pack which then makes all them turn just about at the same time and they all squawk about the inconvenience.

My mother used to get pigeons at her feeders, city birds we’d call them. It frustrated her to no end. She wanted cute little birds like chickadees, but, instead, she’d get sparrows, almost as common as the pigeons. The crows dropped by often because my mother was always throwing out something for them. “Save it for the crows,” she’d tell us. Once she got a seagull. That was a puzzler. She called to have me guess the bird which had visited. I didn’t guess seagull. That’s one bird which has never ever stopped at my feeders. I guess my mother’s was a country cousin of sorts visiting its city cousins. She never saw another seagull in her yard.