Posted tagged ‘thistle’

“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.

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”

November 5, 2013

The sun is among the missing. It’s been gone a while. Today is dark and bleak. Very little color is left in my yard except for one small tree next to the drive-way. Its has red leaves, brilliant red leaves against the backdrop of empty branches.

 I filled the feeders yesterday, and I got really cold. My fingers were the coldest of all. I filled three feeders with sunflower seeds and two with thistle. I also filled one suet feeder, cleaned out the bird bath and added water to it. When I looked later, the birds had descended in full force. When I looked after that, a red spawn was inside one of the feeders. I ran out and scared it so much the panicked spawn had trouble getting out from behind the wires on the feeder. I kept running at it, and the spawn was close enough to touch before it jumped to a branch. It is the same spawn who got hosed all summer. I’m thinking a squirt gun as the hose is put away for the winter. 

When I was young, we’d go into Boston, to the Public Garden, and ride the swan boats. The boat pond was always filled with ducks and the garden itself had a million squirrels and pigeons. People would sit on benches and feed the birds and the squirrels pieces of bread and peanuts from vendors who sold them from red carts along the walkways. I always wanted to feed the squirrels. I thought they were cute. What did I know? I was little. 

Life is filled with routine. It starts when we go to school. We get up every weekday, eat breakfast, get dressed and walk to school. The subjects come in the same order every day except on music and art day. We eat lunch at the same time every day. We go out for recess unless it’s raining. High school doesn’t change the routine much. For me the only difference was I took a bus every day, every day at the same time with the same people. The subjects still came in order. Lunch was at the same time every day . We didn’t have recess but we did go out for air in the small fenced in yard behind the school.

College is when the routine starts to change, and we begin to taste the freedom of choice. Pick your own classes mindful of the schedule. Eat when you have time. Sit around and play cards in the canteen. Skip a class now and then. 

After college, the routine reasserts itself at work. Be there at a certain time, eat lunch at the same time as yesterday and the day before and the day before that, teach the same classes in the same order every day. Go home around the same time every day. That, however, was the first routine I barely noticed and never minded. I didn’t like the getting up part, but I loved the work part. I loved my first two years in Ghana and I loved the next thirty-three here on the cape. I think loving what you do makes the day joyful though not every day because we couldn’t be that lucky, but it does for most days. 

 I have no routine now, and I’m glad. I get to choose whatever my day will be. It doesn’t get much better than that.

“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.