Posted tagged ‘red spawn’

“It was one of those humid days when the atmosphere gets confused. Sitting on the porch, you could feel it: the air wishing it was water.”

August 22, 2017

My neighbor came by with eclipse glasses so I got to see the partial eclipse we had here. It was so very cool to watch the moon move across the sun and darken the day just a bit.  Two things jumped into my head from my memory drawers. I was reminded of when I was young, and we used negatives to look through at the eclipse. I have no idea if they were all that safe but figure they must have been as I didn’t go blind. I don’t even remember if there were warnings. Now, of course, there are no negatives. The second memory was of reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Our Yankee is sentenced to be burned at the stake but is saved by magic, or at least what King Arthur thinks is magic but is really an eclipse. He, the Yankee, said he’d blot out the sun, and it happened as he’d predicted because our hero had remembered the eclipse. I would have been burned at the stake.

Today is supposed to be hot and humid. When I went to get the papers and take Gracie to the backyard, I could feel the humidity, and it was still early, usually a cooler time. Right now it’s cloudy and breezy, but that humidity is hanging in there.

When I was waiting for my coffee to brew, I saw a feeder moving back and forth and knew it was a spawn of Satan. I could see its tail and knew it was the worst off them all, a red spawn. It was inside the keep the spawn away wire and was dining on seed. I sneaked over to the feeder. The spawn saw me and jumped to the rail, but I was there so it fell to the ground, two floors away. The spawn’s fall scared the doves feeding from the ground, and they flew into the air. The birds at the feeders were spooked so they too took off. The whole thing was a comedy of errors with birds flying everywhere.

I have to go out in a bit, and the sun just made a quick in and out entrance. Right now it’s among the missing. I’m glad. I figure the humidity is enough to make for a dismal day without adding more heat.

“As to Bell’s talking telegraph, it only creates interest in scientific circles, and, as a toy it is beautiful; but … its commercial value will be limited. “

July 7, 2015

Summer, I believe, has finally arrived. It has brought beautiful mornings, hot and humid afternoons and tolerable nights for sleeping, at least tolerable so far. Yesterday afternoon, though, the humidity became stifling. No breeze blew to push away the moisture. I turned on the air conditioner, and the house became comfortable. Gracie and I both settled in for an afternoon nap in the coolness of the bedroom.

This morning I turned the AC off and opened all the windows. I didn’t want to miss the smell of morning with its scent of flowers and mowed grass and sometimes even the salt air of the sea. Through the opened windows, I heard the songs of the different birds from trees in the front yard and easily recognized the song of the chickadees, my most frequent visitors, then I heard a metal clank sound which I ignored. When I heard it a second time, I recognized the sound as coming from the half-sized metal barrel where I keep the bird seed. I went on the deck to check it out, and the red spawn scurried away from the barrel and off the deck. The barrel cover was off and was lying beside the barrel. Several sunflower kernels were strewn around the bottom of the barrel. The spawn had found the mother lode. I put the cover back on the barrel and put two bricks on it. I figured that would keep the spawn away unless he platooned his buddies, and they all lent their paws to the effort.

I am waiting for Comcast to come to fix my phone line. During the conversation yesterday with Comcast I wished more times than I can remember that I had the power to put my hand through the receiver and grab the so-called Comcast technician and throttle him. I had opened the conversation with him by explaining that my phone line did not work. I told him I had tested the phone by connecting its line to the modem and the phone worked so I knew the problem was the line. He started to ask questions phrased as if to a five-year old. I interrupted him and said I had explained the problem and didn’t a walk-through from him. He then said he would reset the modem. I slowly explained it wasn’t the modem. It was the line coming from the wall. He then asked a few more questions, all of which had been answered in my first explanation. He then concluded my phone was not working. I told him I was talking to him on that non-working phone. He paused and then told me to remove the line from the modem and reconnect it to the wall. I explained the call would end once I did that. He took my cell number, and when the phone went dead, he called me back on my cell. It was 25 minutes from the start of the call when he said I think there is something wrong with your phone line.

“I can’t tell you how many hot dogs I’ve eaten in my life.”

May 19, 2015

The day is dark, chilly and damp. Rain is expected. I’m guessing just as Gracie and I leave for the dump the skies will open and the rain will fall in sheets. I noticed the red spawn has been at the potted flowers again and there is soil all over the deck railing. This morning the spawn ran from the feeder as soon as I picked up the hose. It is wary now from too many showers. I’m thinking a slingshot.

When I was a kid, I seemed to be busy all of the time. I’d have school until 2 then rush home to play for the rest of the afternoon. My mother would call us inside close to supper time. I’d do my homework, have supper, watch some TV then get ready for bed. The day was spent in a flash. The whole week passed by almost before I’d noticed. Each Saturday and Sunday had a bit of a routine but those two days never seemed long enough.

During the summers when I was in high school, I sometimes whined and complained about having nothing to do. That drove my mother crazy. We didn’t have summer jobs back then so there was little to do all day long. What had delighted the kid me didn’t seem interesting any more. I didn’t ride my bike or walk to the pool or go to the playground. I just sighed a lot.

The summer after high school was when I got my first job: forty hours a week at Woolworth’s. It was the easiest job, and I jumped around doing all sorts of stuff to keep from getting bored. The only place I didn’t work was the food counter. I loved Woolworth’s food counter. It was straight and long with red vinyl stools moved in a circle for east seating. The women were all old, at least to me, and wore uniforms. Most had huge handkerchiefs as decorations atop their pockets. They kept pencils behind their ears. The wall had all the menu items listed including the flavors of ice cream. The dessert dishes had fluted tops. They were used for sundaes like my favorite of all, hot fudge. Real dishes were used for the sandwiches. They were whitish with a red ring around the inside rim. The hot dogs were wonderful cooked on the grill. The French fries were crisp and hot. Sometimes I’d have a grilled cheese sandwich, perfectly brown and gooey.

My mother and sister used to go to their Woolworth’s for a patty melt. The counter there was huge but divided almost into little islands each with its older lady taking orders. I went with them a few times, but it was sometimes a hot dog for me and other times a club sandwich. Colored toothpicks were in each section of the club sandwich to hold it together. The toothpicks were wooden. The sandwich was always delicious. I miss Woolworth counters.

“You have to accept the fact that sometimes you are the pigeon, and sometimes you are the statue.”

May 2, 2015

Cold again but sunny-the weather is in a rut.

The red spawn can fly. Yesterday I noticed he was at a different feeder and was sitting and dining al fresco on the backside so he couldn’t see me. I could see only his tail hanging below the feeder. I went slowly across the deck making no noise so he couldn’t hear me. When I got to the feeder, I was so close I could have touched him. His eyes got huge when he saw me and realized he was stuck. I was by the rail, his usual escape route. I stamped my foot to scare him, and he jumped off the feeder and sort of flew to the ground, two stories below. He landed on all fours then ran to the back part of the yard. Sadly, yesterday’s experience will have no affect on that spawn. He’ll be back. I just know he will.

When I was a little kid, feeding the squirrels on Boston Common was exciting. My dad would buy a couple of bags of peanuts and give us each some. I’d shell a few then I’d toss them. A stampede always ensued. Several of the grey squirrels would scurry over, stand in front of me, some on hind legs, and wait for a handout. I thought it was kind of neat to have wildlife so close to me, almost eating out of my hand. I swear the squirrels living on the Common had to waddle from place to place because they were so well fed.

I remember London and Trafalgar Square and the pigeons. My dad and I went touring a bit by ourselves one afternoon. I don’t remember where my mother was. We bought some seed, and the birds attacked. I swear they were Hitchcock extras, hungry and out of work. They jumped on our hands, shoulders and even our heads. I threw the seeds. My dad held on to his, and he was soon covered in pigeons. They were flying around him, and I took pictures. He was laughing in every picture. When he was finally out of seed, we sat on a bench for a bit and concocted a plan. We’d get my mother there, act innocent and have her hold some seeds in her outstretched hands. We did, and the pigeons attacked. I took pictures, great pictures of flapping wings circling around my mother. She was screaming as the birds settled on her head and shoulders. We yelled for her to save herself and throw the seeds. My mother was really upset. This was her first attack by birds. My dad and I acted innocent and solicitous, but I suspected she knew.

I took slides back then and we always had a slide night a month or two later. The pigeons pictures were hysterical, even my mother had to laugh.

“It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. “

April 30, 2015

Today the outside world beckons. It is a bit chilly but the sun is bright. I almost want to lie down on the deck with Gracie and soak up the warmth. The cats are sleeping in the sunlight streaming through the front door. Lots of birds are at the feeders. The red spawn was there earlier but now has a Pavlovian response to me. If I go outside and the spawn is on the squirrel proof feeder, it jumps on a branch, runs up the tree trunk and then jumps from branch to branch across the yard. I don’t even have the hose yet, and it still runs away from me.

When I was a kid, the phone we had was a party line. We shared it with Mrs. McGaffigan whose house was at the bottom of our hill. It was a really big house, the sort built in the 1930’s, with a front porch. The house sat right on the corner across from a similar house on the other corner also with a big front porch. I never knew who lived in that house, and I only knew Mrs. McGaffigan by her voice. When the phone rang, we had to listen to the number of rings to see if the call was for us or for Mrs. McGaffigan. Sometimes we didn’t care, and we’d pick up the phone to listen to her conversation. She always seem to catch us. I think we giggled. “Put the phone down right now,” was what was always said. Most times we put it down but once in a while we just pressed the button so she’d think we had, and we’d keep listening. Mrs. McGaffigan never really had an exciting conversation. We liked listening because we shouldn’t. We eventually got our own number, and I always missed Mrs. McGaffigan and her phone calls. When I go back to my town, I drive the familiar routes I walked as a kid. I usually drive right by Mrs. McGaffigan’s. The house still looks big perched on the corner. I don’t know who lives there, and It will never matter. It is always Mrs. McGaffigan’s house to me.

“Once the rain starts falling it’s hard to tell it to stop…”

December 9, 2014

The wind is howling and the rain is falling sideways. My backyard trees are again dancing in the wind, back and forth and back and forth. The rain has flooded roads and is falling so heavily that even a quick dash means getting cold and wet. This morning I made four stops. First was the library board meeting, then the post office, then PT and finally the store for life’s essentials: bread, cat food, chicken and a chocolate bar.

I am so happy to be back inside my warm, dry house. When I finish writing, I’m going upstairs and put on my cozies. I bought some clam chowder for dinner. It seemed perfect for a day like today.

Yesterday I brought up a few Christmas decorations from the cellar and later today I hope to decorate some more. The tree in the dining room is lit. I like to go the long way around to the stairs so I get to see the tree. I can hardly wait for the big tree, but now I have to hope for a couple of dry days.

The gold finches have braved the rain and are at the feeder though it swaying in the wind. The red spawn doesn’t seem to like the rain. He is probably in a cozy nest snacking on my sunflower seeds. If he were a character in The Wind in the Willows, his nest would have comfy furniture, a fireplace and a filled pantry. He’d be sitting by the fire with his feet on an ottoman as he drinks afternoon tea from a dainty China cup.

The last wind storm took down several of my outside decorations. I had to go down the side hill which is covered with brush, thorns and branches. Getting down is never the problem. Getting back up always is as I have nothing to hold on to help pull myself up. The other day I threw the ornaments I had retrieved onto the grass above the hill so I could have both hands free. I made it safely up the hill, a major accomplishment for me.

Now to my slippers and my cozies and maybe, just maybe, a nap.

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

December 8, 2014

Today is so bitingly cold I didn’t even bother to go out to chase the red spawn off the deck away from the birdseed. I did watch from the window and thought of ways to discourage it now that I haven’t the hose. The potato gun is still in the top spot, and one of those blaster squirt guns has made the list. My poor birds can’t get at the feeder so I am determined to rid my yard of this vermin.

The weather is cold, dark, damp and ugly and will stay ugly all week as we’ll have rain for the next few days, and winter rain is seldom welcomed. Even running to the car means getting wet and being cold. The roads get icy. Stopping often means sliding. I sometimes slide right by my street as the icy corner is difficult to maneuver.

I hate scraping my windshield. Sometimes the ice is so thick it takes a monumental effort to clear. Two of the best reasons to retire are not having to scrape the windshield or leave in the dark for work.

I remember when we used to decorate the picture window with snowflakes, stars and snowmen. My mother usually bought the kit which had paper stencils and a spray can of fake snow. One of us would hold the stencil while the other sprayed. We’d take turns. It was a popular decoration when I was a kid, and most houses in my neighborhood had snowflakes on their windows.

My father always decorated the bushes in front of our house with strings of lights. The bulbs on those outside strings were huge and bright. We’d watch my dad from the windows and when he was finished, we’d all run outside to see the lights. My house at Christmas was always beautiful to me. Candles with orange bulbs were in the single windows and a five bulb holder was in the picture window. The bases of all those candles were white plastic, and my mother sometimes had to tape the bases to the windowsills so they wouldn’t fall. Every year we’d pull the old yellow tape off before using the new tape.

Darkness was the best time. We’d plug in the outside lights then run to the windows to turn on the bulbs. That was done by hand, turning each bulb until it lit. Christmas always brought light to the darkness.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

November 8, 2014

The red flag on my mail box has disappeared. It isn’t on the ground anywhere. I find that confusing. Where is it? Are there marauders stealing red flags as trophies and leaving behind holes on the side of my box? My postman, Bill, would never check the mail in the box without a red flag flying, proverbially of course. I had to put my outgoing mail in my neighbor’s box. He’ll probably wonder why his red flag is up.

Today is sunny with blue skies but is a bit chilly. The sunlight always seems muted this time of year as if the sun’s best just isn’t enough. I chased the red spawn a couple of times earlier, and I picked up the hose so he ran, but the water has been drained from the hose so I have no weapon. I’m thinking I might get a potato gun. Any other sort of weapon would run out of ammo. Potatoes are plentiful.

I seldom go see a movie at night. It is more expensive than those in the afternoons but really not by much. I think it is because matinees are ingrained, a part of my psyche, as I went to the matinee almost every Saturday when I was a kid except in summer when there wasn’t one. Just about everyone I knew went to the Saturday matinee. My mother was probably thrilled. My brother and I were gone while she just had my two sisters at home. They were a bit young though I did take them once. It didn’t work out. I had to take them home before the movie was over. I was not happy.

The food in the movie theater is exorbitant. I admit I sometimes sneak in a candy bar and even some bagged popcorn, usually cheddar. I always buy a drink which makes me look less of a smuggler. I sometimes wonder how popcorn and the movies became forever joined. I’ve been in theaters where they sold hot dogs, ice cream cones and smothered tacos. That seems wrong somehow.

When I was young, I used to buy candy which lasted a long time, but they don’t sell Sugar Daddies any more, and I’d be afraid for my fillings even if they did. Nonpareils, Raisinettes and popcorn are now my three favorite movie foods.

“A wild and crazy weekend involves sitting on the front porch, smoking a cigar, reading a book.”

October 3, 2014

This morning was one of those put a mirror under her nose to see if she is still breathing mornings. I didn’t wake up until ten. My guess is it was all the errands from yesterday, the hauling in of the packages, the loads of wash with the accompanying up and down two flights of stairs and the changing of my bed. My back is no longer fit for days like yesterday. On my dance card today is switching out the screens and storm doors.

The day is dreary. It may even rain again later. I turned on the heat this morning for a short while to get rid of the dampness. The house is cozy now. The animals are in here with me while they take their morning naps. All three are quite comfortable: two are on the couch and one is on the afghan. I should live their lives.

Earlier I sprayed the red spawn. He didn’t hear me coming so he took the full brunt of the spray. He was shocked and immediately leapt, still dripping I suspect, from the deck rail to one tree then another until he alit on the big pine branch and began castigating me. He was chirping and chattering and waving his tail in indignation all the while looking right at me. He has to go. He best be packing his little bag for the move.

When I was a kid, I seldom had plans for the weekends. If the movie was good, I’d head to the matinee. If not, I might ride my bike or roller skate or just walk the tracks. Life was filled with spontaneity. Sunday was church and the family dinner but the rest of the day was mine. Sometimes the weather determined what we did. Rain in the summer was never a deterrent to playing outside, but in the winter it was far too cold to get wet. I always thought winter rain was a waste of water. It should always have been snow.

I don’t make too many weekend plans. I watch the Amazing Race with my friends, one of our traditions, and that’s it. I am back to spontaneity and maybe a bit of inertia. I’m liking my life.

“If you want a neat wife, choose her on a Saturday”

August 12, 2014

I know it’s late, but I met an old friend for lunch. He found me on Facebook and we decided to get together. It was a great day of drinking coffee, eating lunch and catching up with one another. I haven’t seen him in years so we had a lot of this and a lot of that to share.

Yesterday the red spawn lost its mind. I know this because it kept coming back to the feeder despite being hosed by me with the nozzle on jet. I was inside when I first heard the red spawn chatting, clicking and yelling at something so I went outside to investigate. It was on the feeder. I streamed the hose water, and it ran. I sat for a few minutes, and it came back to the feeder. I let him have it again, and he got soaked but not enough to deter him because he came back from a different direction. His spawn brain must have thought I wouldn’t figure that one out. He got squirted then jumped on branches close to me. I actually wondered if he was headed to get me, but when I hosed again, the spawn finally left the yard to go next door. It was chattering the whole while, and I have a feeling he was talking about me.

Today is another lovely day. It is about 76˚ and sunny. Tomorrow it will rain but then on Thursday we’ll be back to another beautiful summer day. We have been spoiled by the perfect weather this season: warm days and cool nights.

When I was young, I really didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to time especially in summer when one day was the same as another. The only exceptions were, of course, the weekends. On Saturday my dad was home. He did yard stuff like mowing and raking and also went up town to do his own errands: shirts to the Chinese laundry, a trim at the barber shop and a stop to say hello to his friend Pulo, the pharmacist in his own drugstore. Once in a while my dad asked me to come, and I would. I liked the Chinese laundry even though it was always hot and steamy. The double ironing board, with a top and bottom, was by the window, and the Chinese laundry man was always ironing pants. He’d hold the top down and steam would shoot out from the sides. He’d then lift the top, turn the pants over, close the machine and steam would shoot out again. I loved watching that machine. My dad’s shirts were always folded and wrapped in brown paper. From the laundry, we’d walk a little bit to the barber shop. Years later I realized that Floyd in Mayberry could very well have worked at my dad’s barber shop. It had only two seats and one barber. All the men sat waiting and chatting with each other. I stood and watched the barber trim my dad’s hair then my dad and I headed over to Pulo’s. While my dad and Mr. Pulo talked, I was given a drink from the soda fountain, usually a vanilla coke. Pulo’s was a small drug store, and there were only four stools at the fountain. Mr. Pulo always wore a white coat and would step from behind the pharmacy part of the store to talk to my dad. That was our last stop. My dad and I would walk back to the car and we’d go home. It didn’t matter how many times I went with my dad on Saturdays because I loved every time as if it were the first.