The Sparrow Has Found Her a Nest

29 May

The weather for past couple of weeks have been miserable, but today dawned clear and bright – always, of course, subject to change without notice – so we decided to hang out what clothes hadn’t gone through the electric drier yesterday.  Sheets and rugs, for the most part.

I use plastic milk jugs to hold my clothespins; they are virtually free, pretty much biodegradable, and easily replaced. I slice the handle just where it joins the body of the jug, cut an opening in the front, and slip it over the line. The jugs slide along the line easily and three of them hold all the pins we need.

I’ve been keeping the pins on a shelf on the patio when we’re not using them, and when I went to grab them this morning, this is what I found. One deserted bird’s nest, made of moss and dried leaves. Safe from wind, ran, and various predators. Clever, these little creatures. I’m just glad it had been abandoned, as I would have done without rather than disturb the mama bird.

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Letting it all Hang Out

28 May

The Squire and I went off this morning on our weekly “day out”. We go to the laundromat, swing into KFC for lunch and then stop at Aldi’s for groceries. (I’ll tell you, those Rice’s are a wild bunch!)

Another couple came in while we were eating lunch, and after they ordered I noticed the woman talking on her phone, and hunched over as if she was fiddling with her belt buckle. No such luck. She walked over to the table where the napkins and utensils are stacked, and proceeded to talk on the phone and pick at her belly.

Those of us who are a certain age generally suffer from mild to severe cases of Dunlop’s Disease, where our bellies tend to sag a bit and lop over our belts. This gal had pulled up her shirt, and lifted her ‘lop’ so it hung over her shorts! and was engaged in some sort of personal hygiene. I though perhaps she had a pierced naval that was giving her trouble, but that didn’t seem to be the case. In any event, she spent about five minutes – in the middle of the restaurant! – digging at the skin on her tummy.  Lady, there’s a rest room right around the corner!

I’m really trying to be less judgmental, but this sort of s–t makes it just about impossible!

We All Scream For Ice Cream

27 May

A week or so back I found a freezer-burned carton of ice cream on the bottom shelf – Pumpkin Pie flavor, if that gives you any idea how old the stuff was.

I took it out back and left it beside the dish we use to feed the foxes. The carton was gone the next day;  not surprising, as they will frequently carry off plastic carry-out trays or the like to eat at their leisure. Today I had a bunch of stale bread to toss out to the critters – deer will eat bread, as do the birds and squirrels – and as I was coming back I noticed a flash of orange in one of the trees.

Apparently the raccoons had taken the carton away and climbed the tree to eat the ice cream in peace and quiet. The tree is about thirty feet from the dish so I wasn’t likely to see it there, and it was also on the back side of the tree. The carton was in the mulberry tree on the far right of the photo, about four feet off the ground. (We feed the foxes in an old angel food pan, dropped over a stake pounded into the ground. Food dishes are among the things they have carted off, and we got tired of searching for their dish.)

Can’t blame them.  I feel the same way about ice cream. Keep your paws off!

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Graduation Day

24 May

The Squire and I drove over to College Park to watch one of our granddaughters graduate from University of Maryland. She had originally wanted to be a vet, but changed her major to Environmental Policy – or something. My friends call me the “recycling queen”, but Jess has me beat by a mile. She got her Bachelor Degree in Environmental Science and Policy Laws. with a concentration in Wildlife Ecology and Management.

The University of Maryland was founded as an agricultural college – animal husbandry, crop and field studies (improving the soil and what sort of stuff to plant for the area), avian improvement, and the like. Over the years it has expanded its scope, offering every imaginable course, including medicine. The courses on crop and field studies offer a degree in golf course management! And, presumably, a job at Mar-a-lago.

This photo of Jessica captures her spirit exactly! Pretty, funny, great with kids and animals, smart as whip, and a little bit crazy. (What can I Jessica Gradsay? She likes to climb cliffs.)

During the ceremony, we heard a siren, and several cell phone began to chirp. The Dean looked a bit startled, and then announced “We have a tornado warning.” Please follow the staff to the lower level auditorium.” And so we did. And then we did it all in reverse. Actually, the crowd was so large that only half of us had gotten out before the warning was lifted, so we just returned to our seats. A ceremony that should have lasted one hour dragged on for two.

And there was another one scheduled behind us. Running late before it even got started.

And we didn’t get a drop of rain at home.


Battle Stations

4 May

Blazer and I went out this evening to feed the fish, which of course also includes feeding the snapping turtles. We have three in the pond at the moment, which is about four too many, and they are very hungry after a long winter fast.  They will often climb about halfway out of the pond to get the food, but today one of them came all the way out and was really threatening me.

Blazer came roaring over and barked at the monster, who promptly reared up and bit the poor puppy on the nose! I heard the dog “yip” but didn’t realize he’d actually been bitten until we went inside.  At any rate, he pawed at the shell and tried to roll the critter over.  Mr. Turtle hurled himself  back into the pond and was satisfied eating the bread I tossed in. We’ll have to see if he is quite as feisty tomorrow.



Breaking and Entering

27 Apr

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes cartoon starts an arc in which their house is broken into while the family was out of town. I know the feeling.

My grandmother died Christmas of 1976, and because her house was fairly isolated, my parents decided to stay there for a few days to keep an eye on things.  While they were away, some of the local hoodlums decided to break into their house! My parents lived in a development, but this happened on New Year’s Eve, so nobody paid much attention to any sort of noise or lights. Neighbors discovered the damage in the morning and had called the police.

The “perps” broke through the picture window in the living room, knocking over the Christmas tree in the process. They dumped all of Mum’s cookbooks on the floor, and threw clothes all over the laundry room. They couldn’t figure out how the pocket door between the foyer and the study worked, and had thrown a chair and a foot stool against it, trying to break it down. They’d flipped all of the mattresses off the beds, and rummaged through Mum’s closet, but hadn’t taken any of her jewelry. In an effort to keep the bedroom door from swinging shut, they’d stomped on a beverage can and used it as a doorstop. Ironically, my dad used that can (it was covered with Contact® paper) as a Mite Box, and it held whatever money they were looking for. Mostly, it looked as if they were more interested in making a mess than anything else. Mum was a schoolteacher at the time, and the police thought it might be a  “revenge” thing.

Our house was broken into three times in one season!

I had retired in March of 1983, but my company had called me back for the summer. Eldest daughter was getting married, so the extra money came in handy.  Youngest daughter had come home from school in early September to find the back door wide open. Again, call the police. Other than the open door, we couldn’t see any sign of breaking in, but all of the drawers had been pulled out of the silver chest, and all of our sterling was gone. I had a service for twelve, and when my grandmother died my sister and I had split her silver, so I had a good bit of it.  This was not too long after the Hunt brothers had cornered the silver market, so it was fairly valuable. The girls had a schoolmate who showed up in our house – uninvited and unexpected – fairly often, and we suggested they look into Eddy’s whereabouts on the day of the robbery. Nothing ever came of it.  Our silver chest resembles a small buffet; most people wouldn’t recognize it as anything but a side table, which is why we fingered that young man. He’d been here often enough to know what it was.

Later in the fall,  we were hit twice in less than ten days. My sister had come up to visit for the day, so we could drop off a small mountain things at a local thrift shop and have lunch together. I’ve called The Squire every day at 1:00 since our first date, so I gave him a buzz and Lynn called her husband. We piled all of our donations in my car and set off. When we came home, the door was open and the dog was running around.  Once again, my silver was gone (the insurance company had paid to have it replaced), as well as both my jewelry box and The Squire’s. I lost everything but my wedding band. They also taken all of The Squire’s computer set up. This was in the early 80s, and that Atari had set him back $1,300! He’d been on jury duty and the bank had let him keep the money.

The worst of it was that they’d broken into a locked cabinet, and used his hack saw to cut through the chain that secured three long guns. One was simply a BB gun, but the other two had more oomph. About six months later, one of those guns was used to kill a neighbor. (  We now have a real “thing” about people who keep guns.

They came back a few days later and took a few things they’d missed, and stayed long enough to fix themselves a sandwich!

Now, we have an alarm system, monitored by the local police department. And observant neighbors.

A Fate Worse Than Death

21 Apr

I am becoming my mother.

There. I said it out loud. I am becoming my mother.  Every year, my Lenten discipline is to try to be less judgmental, but I’m not only not making any progress, but I’m steadily losing ground.

We all have things that drive us nuts, but most people can bite their tongue and keep on going. Not I. Our parish is buying about twenty new prayer books – at $15 a pop – to replace those with pages that are falling out. Several years ago, one of our morning groups – the purpose changes, but the membership seems to remain steady – made bookmarks for every hymnal and prayer book in the racks. They are probably more important for the prayer books, as you must flip back and forth between the service, the psalm, the collect, and the Prayers of the People. Three of these change every week, and there are four ribbons, so you can find your place again quickly. Half of the time, people jam the open book into the rack, just about guaranteeing that the pages will fall out.  When I’m ushering with The Squire I will reach into the pew, close the offending books and put them on the seat. Shape up, folks!

We used to have one member who always pulled the bookmarks and tossed them aside. When I asked him why he did it, he replied they were never in the right place. “Herb, do you honestly think we have a team of pixies that come in every Saturday to mark the books?”

During Lent we have soup suppers every Wednesday night, with two kinds of soup, great chunks of Italian bread, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dessert. Every blessed week, there are about twice as many PBJ sandwiches as needed, and they get tossed in the trash. I dig them out and throw them into the yard for the wild life, but it is still a monumental waste of food. How about fixing only half as much?

This morning – Easter Sunday, mind you! – Mac was wearing a huge fuzzy top hat, complete with white ears. While the rest of us were waiting in silence for the service to start, he pushed some button, and the ears began to waggle back and forth in time to “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”. In church. I gave him my best Audrey Parker glare and he turned it off. That or the death rays broke to fool thing!

I’ve turned into my mother! Pray for me!