The Secret World of Crows

When we talked to the Flooring Department salesman at Lowes on Sunday, he told us to expect a call in the next day or two to set up an appointment to get our living room floor measured. We specifically asked him to give the installation people my phone number because EJ doesn’t take personal calls at work. But EJ texted me late Monday morning to tell me that the installation people had called and left a voice message on his phone. This brought back frustrated memories of previous installation guys who kept calling EJ instead of me which delayed our projects. I quickly called the Flooring Department and asked the guy who answered the phone to have the installation people please call me instead of EJ. The guy said he would pass it on but I heard nothing all Monday. However, when EJ got home that evening, he gave me the callback number given to him in the voice message. I called first thing the next morning and the woman who answered said she was working in our area that day and would be by later. She arrived even earlier than she estimated and quickly took the measurements she needed. Yay! As she prepared to leave, she said that she would turn in her measurements that afternoon and Lowes would get back to me with the estimate in 3-5 days. I’m really looking forward to getting the new flooring.

The weather today has been perfectly beautiful. The morning was so cool (in the 50’s) that I had to wear a jacket. I loved it. The temperature warmed up to 76 degrees by mid-afternoon, but the breeze kept it relatively comfortable-ish.

I hadn’t watered the gardens or trees all week because of the rain we had last weekend, but after several days of sunshine, I felt it was time to water everything this morning. I also did laundry and as I hung the clothes on the clothesline, I enjoyed the peaceful beauty around me. The Orcs have stopped cutting down the forest across the road; they only return now and then to carry off another load of murdered Ents. So I no longer hear the constant roar of their machines and I can once again enjoy peaceful nature sounds.

I heard crows cawing overhead as I hung the wet clothes on the line this morning. I think that crows are fascinating. They are amazingly intelligent birds as described in this interesting article: 6 Terrifying Ways Crows Are Smarter Than You Think. There is also a very interesting documentary about crows at Youtube that EJ and I watched together this evening. Crows are one of the most intelligent critters on the planet. Among other things, crows can make and use tools and solve complex problems. They also can recognize individual faces. If someone messes with them, they not only remember them, but they also tell other crows and teach their babies to dislike them. You don’t want to make an enemy of a crow because you will make enemies of all the crows in the area. They also chase away aerial predators like hawks that would harm my ducks and chickens, so they are quite handy to have in the neighborhood. I told EJ tonight that if the crows are intelligent and observing us, I would like to make friends with them. He said that he had been thinking the same thing. “We could make a treaty with them,” he said. I laughed, “Yeah, we could make a treaty with the Crow Nation.” I don’t know how to make friends with crows but they are one of my favorite kind of birds. I can see why Native Americans thought they were special.

I saw turkey vultures soaring overhead this morning. I like watching them soar. I can never remember the differences between vultures and buzzards or which we have in Michigan. I keeping looking it up to try to learn the differences and keep forgetting. But this morning I finally found an article that said that Michigan only has turkey vultures–so that’s helpful and will be easy to remember. Vultures mostly eat dead things so they aren’t a real threat to the poultry, but the ducks and chickens are always alarmed when one flies overhead because they are alert to large birds that could be predators flying overhead. I’ve even seen the ducks watch airplanes in the sky. Whenever EJ and I see vultures circling in the sky, we comment that there must be a dead cowboy somewhere nearby–because in all the old western movies vultures always circled around a cowboy dying in the desert. If we see numerous vultures circling, we comment that there must be a dead cowboy AND his dead horse.

I didn’t get a photo of the Red-Breasted Grosbeak or Hummingbird that visited the birdbath and flowers.

Yesterday I saw a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak visit my hanging bird bath. My camera was across the room and by the time I retrieved it, the bird had flown away. This is the second time this summer that I have seen one. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are beautiful. I saw them for the first time a couple of years before we moved to Northern Michigan. I also spotted a hummingbird drinking nectar from the red flower of the hanging plant. He also flew away before I could get a photo. I also was not quick enough to snap a photo of the Monarch Butterfly visiting the milkweed growing in my flower garden near the house. Sometimes I am able to take photos of cool things I see, and sometimes not. 

Lily with the blossom bit off, June 2017.

When I walked Hannah today, I noticed that the lilies along the driveway are beginning to bud. It won’t be too much longer before they bloom. Last year I watched with anticipation as the buds got larger and larger day by day. I couldn’t wait to see them bloom. Then one day I eagerly walked down the driveway to see if the lilies had bloomed and found only empty stalks. I didn’t know that the deer love eating lilies. Apparently they consider them a treat. Oh, well. I think that eventually the lilies will multiply so that even the deer can’t eat them all. And I don’t mind that the deer get to enjoy a treat, even though I really would like to see a lily-lined driveway.

“Johnny Go To Bed at Noon” flowers and seed head.

Even if I don’t get to enjoy the lilies, I do enjoy the wildflowers as I walk down the driveway with Hannah. Hannah also seems to enjoy them. The other day she went up to the large seed head of the “Johnny Go To Bed At Noon” flowers. She sniffed it…and then tried to bite it and ending the seeds flying. It was really cute. Hannah also enjoys the wild strawberries that grow all over our property. She has learned where they are growing along the driveway and pauses to eat a few each time we go for a walk.

Hawkweed

The last time I mowed the lawn, I found a couple of places where a few hawkweed were growing. I mowed around those places and I check every now and then to see if they have gone to seed yet. When they do, I will plant the seeds along the driveway. I just read that in some places, hawkweed is considered a “noxious weed.” Whatever. I think hawkweed are very pretty. Seriously, I think my favorite type of flowers are wildflowers–also known as “weeds.”  In my opinion, a weed is just a flower growing where you don’t want it. Although I think orderly gardens are beautiful, I prefer a field full of wildflowers.

Josette hanging out with me at the clothesline.

Whenever I go outside, our cat Josette suddenly appears and follows me around. She follows Hannah and me on our walks down and up the driveway and she joins me when I garden, care for the ducks, or hang the clothes on the line. I now look for her to see if I can anticipate where she will appear–sort of a Josette version of “Where’s Waldo.”  Josette is as affectionate as Madeline is timid–and she is gentle rather than a serial killer.

Planter saucer filled with water.

I’ve been looking for shallow dishes to fill with water for the critters to drink on hot summer days. I finally realized that there was a perfect saucer under the pot that the dead rosemary plant is in. I took it, filled it with water, and put it on one of the large rocks. I also filled an upside-down frisbee with water and put it on the ground.

Well, EJ and Hannah have gone to bed already and it’s about time to put my ducks and chickens to bed in their coop so I’ll chat with you all another day.

 

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“Hidden Pictures”

Every time I go outside, I look around to see what I can see–I enjoy looking at the wildflowers along the driveway, and try to see if I can spot any new ones in bloom. I also look and listen for birds, insects, or other critters. It’s sort of like my a living “Hidden Pictures” game. There’s always something beautiful or interesting to see.

Large Toad

Hannah also is watchful, although I think she’s actually looking for things to eat. Sunday morning when I took her outside, she lunged for something to the left of the porch step. I quickly pulled her away because I didn’t want her to eat something she shouldn’t. I looked for what she was interested in, and I saw a huge toad. I kept Hannah away from it and when I came back later, it was gone.

Baby Milksnake

Hannah also spotted the dead baby snake in the driveway when we went for a walk yesterday. It was about as thick as a pencil and maybe twice as long. I took a photo of it and sent it to EJ at work. He wanted to see it, so I used a long thin wooden board from the garage to pick it up and put it in an empty kitty litter bucket. I was brave because it was dead. I looked it up on Google and I think it’s a milksnake. It is nonvenomous, as most Michigan snakes are. I read at the Live Science website that there are 24 different subspecies of milksnake. They are powerful constrictors that eat rodents and eggs, they sometimes pretend to be rattlesnakes to scare off predators, and they like to live in forests. The snake was quite beautiful. I do not mind snakes because I usually don’t see them, if I do encounter them they slither off, and in Michigan they are usually nonvenomous. EJ says that the only venomous snake we have in Michigan is the Massasauga, which is extremely venomous.

Indigo Bunting

Yesterday afternoon I was looking out the window as I talked to my friend on the phone, and I saw an Indigo Bunting. I was ecstatic. Besides the fact that they are a very beautiful blue color, this is about only the third time I’ve ever seen one.  It was difficult to capture it with my camera because it kept hopping around on the berry bushes, but I got a somewhat decent photo. They are so pretty!

“Johnny Go To Bed at Noon” flowers and seed head.

 

When I walked Hannah down to the mailbox today, I saw that some of the “Johnny Go to Bed At Noon” flowers had gone to seed. I grabbed some of the seeds and scattered them along the driveway to help spread them. I often scatter the seeds of plants that I like.

I also noticed that the milkweed is beginning to bloom. I think they have very pretty flowers. Milkweed are the only plant that Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs on. I’m hoping to increase the number of plants on our property to attract more Monarchs. When the Milkweeds go to seed, I also scatter them around our property.

Milkweed blossoms

Halfway down the driveway, I noticed something large in the Leafy Spurge plants. I went over for a closer look, and found two unusual caterpillars that I had never seen before. They were very large–about four inches long–and beautifully colored. On the way back up the driveway after getting our mail from the mailbox, I spotted two more in another Leafy Spurge plant a few feet away. When I got back to the house, I googled them and learned that they are Leafy Spurge Hawk Moths.

I read in an on-line article that

Winter is spent in the pupal stage, which occurs in a below ground earthen cell a few inches below the soil surface. Adults emerge in late May or June and may sometimes be seen visiting flowers at dusk where they feed on nectar. The adults are “hawk moths” that hover when feeding, much in the manner of a hummingbird. Females lay between 70-150 eggs, in small batches on the leaves and flower bracts of their host plant.

I look forward to seeing them in their moth stage. They are pretty cool.

I love our Enchanted Forest because it is beautiful and I always discover something new, unusual, and interesting. It’s fun trying to see them. Life is interesting and full of wonder.

Our Father’s Day

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Our weekend was quite quiet, mostly because it was so hot and humid that the energy melted out of us. Sunday was especially hot, with temperatures in the 90s. There were heat warnings out. Seriously, I don’t know how people in the South survive. I think it’s much easier to deal with cold weather than hot weather. In cold weather a person can just put on another sweater and blanket, and turn up the thermostat. But there’s only so much a person can do when it’s supper hot. I mean, you can air condition your house or business, but you still have to go outside. Whenever I walked outside this weekend, sweat immediately started running down my body.

EJ and I agreed that if he ever retires and we sell this place, we are moving further North into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where it’s cooler, with even more beauty and fewer people. When we moved to Northern Michigan from southern Michigan, I told EJ that I would never again go south of Highway US-10, which is where I think Up North begins. Michiganders have different opinions about where Up North begins but everyone considers Up North to be a magical place of beauty, and rest, and fun, and escape from the stresses of life. It is miles of beautiful forests, beautiful huge lakes, camping, campfires, billions of stars, pasties and fudge, water sports, history, hunting, fishing. Up North is paradise. Actually living Up North is an impossible dream come true. I told EJ, “You know, if we ever move to the U.P., I’m not ever again going south of the Mackinac Bridge.” He totally agreed.

I don’t set my alarm on weekends so I tend to sleep a little later, but EJ still finds himself waking as early as he does on a work day. While I slept in on Saturday morning, EJ did most of my morning chores for me. I thought that was very sweet of him. I only had to fill the duck pool and water buckets. He said it had rained really hard while I slept.

We try to have quiet, relaxing days on Saturdays, but this time we had to go to a local feed store called McGoughs. We have several feed stores in our area that have good prices on different products. We go to TSC for our poultry feed, dry dog food, and other items like garden hoses. Unlike the other stores, it’s open on Sundays. One local feed store grows its own grass seeds and we can buy it at bulk for a great price. McGoughs is furthest away but it sells 40 pound bags of dry cat food for a really good price. We bought two. We store our dry pet food in large trash cans in the pantry so we don’t have to buy it often. McGoughs also grows and bags their own wild bird seed for a great price so we tend to buy it there each autumn. I haven’t been able to find any local wildflower seeds at any of the feed/farm/nursery stores, so I’ve been buying nonlocal commercially packaged bags of seeds which has both annual and perennials seeds in it–probably more of the former than the latter. Even garden centers in home improvement or larger grocery stores sell these bags. But on Saturday I found bags of the feed store’s own local perennial wildflower mixes. It’s more expensive but the seeds are local, and it’s all perennials, which is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I like perennials because I don’t have to buy them every year. I bought a bag and a packet of seeds. I plan to buy the wildflower seeds from here each Spring now until I have enough wildflowers. Hmm….is it possible for a person to have enough wildflowers? I’ll find out.

Since this was our only stop and we didn’t plan to be in the store long, we took Hannah along with us. After the feed store, EJ took the long way home along “roads less traveled” on dirt roads lined with beautiful pine forests. Hannah loved it.

Sunday morning I filled the wheelbarrow with organic garden dirt, mixed in the wildflower seeds, and scattered them along the driveway. I hope they will grow this  year, but if they don’t, maybe they will grow next Spring, but whether they do or not, I will buy more wildflower seeds from the feed store next Spring. I am not really an expert in gardening. I just sort of do random act of gardening. I figure if I plant enough seeds or plants, something is sure to grow. Although I went out relatively early in the morning to plant my seeds, the day was already heating up.

When I got back inside and cooled off in front of the fan and had a cup or two of coffee, EJ got out his whiteboard and we listed and prioritized the projects we want to get done. We have a lot of things we want done, but limited money. We need to get more gravel for the driveway, we would like to get a tractor with a lawnmower and snowblower, I would like to paint the master bathroom…but we decided that the priority is getting the septic pumped out this summer and EJ has been wanting to get the living room floor out ever since we decided to buy this place. It is threadbare and stained from the previous owner’s dog.  Since we have so many pets, we prefer not to have carpet. Carpet is less sanitary and harder to clean than bare floors.

After our “business” meeting, we hopped in the Xterra and drove off to Lowes to look at flooring. Hannah really wanted to go with us, but we felt it would be too hot for her in the vehicle so we left her home.

Rustic Hickory flooring

We almost decided to get a wood-floor looking laminate sheet, but it would require a seam in the middle of the floor because our room is wider than the sheet. The laminate planks look better than the sheet, is more durable, will not have a seam, and is only a little more than the sheet so we decided on the planks. We are getting flooring called “rustic hickory.” At our other house we put in flooring ourselves to save money, but EJ has been struggling so much with his chronic back pain and other health issues that we decided to just have Lowes do it for us. All we will do is tear out the old carpet during the week that EJ has off in early July. I’m not sure when the flooring will be installed. I am waiting for a call to make an appointment for the installment guys to come out and measure our room and give us an estimate of the cost, and then we will go from there.

On the way home, I told EJ that getting the flooring was his Father’s Day gift. I reminded him that I give awesome gifts. Three years ago I gave him the birthday gift of living Up North. For Father’s Day that year, I gave him a new house. These awesome huge things our lives tend to happen around these days so I claim they are my gifts to him. Of course, he gifts me awesome gifts too. Every year for my birthday he gives me Memories–we take a long drive through the beautiful autumn.

When we got home, we did quiet things that required little movement. The heat and humidity were oppressive and sapped our energy. We had a light meal that required no baking so we wouldn’t heat up the house. The only other thing I did was gather eggs in the afternoon and shut up the ducks and chickens in the evening. While I was gathering eggs, I stepped on something in the coop that went “crunch, crunch” under my chore shoots. It felt like egg shells. I looked down and saw that I had stepped on a dead, flattened chipmunk. It obviously had come into the coop and the ducks killed it. The ducks tend to flatten critters that they catch in their bills. It’s gross. I picked the body up with the garden rake that I keep in the coop and threw it into the forest.

I woke in the night to the tapping of rain on the roof and it has been raining all morning. It’s not a stormy rain, but a steady soaking rain. Yay! I am so glad it’s raining! We need it so desperately! Unlike us, southern Michigan has had a very wet Spring/Summer but I feel especially bad for the Yoopers (residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) who have gotten torrential rains in the last few days. EJ said he read they received 7 inches of rain in 7 hours. We’ve seen photos and videos of floods and ruin roads. Here is one photo shared by John James in Houghton, Michigan, at the Facebook page called Michigan Weather Authority. There are many other similar photos/videos of the destruction.

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor, nature and water

I feel very bad for those poor people up there. I think they are expecting even more rain.

 

I Spy

Wednesday was a slow, unmotivated day. Thursday was just the opposite–I was busy all day long from morning till evening.

As usually, I got out of bed and took care of all the pets, then watered the gardens and trees we planted. Yesterday was payday so in between moving the sprinklers, I paid bills. When I finished watering and paying bills, I went grocery shopping at our local store, which is just a couple of miles away. When I arrived home, I lugged all the groceries in and put them away.

Our freshly mowed lawn.

I knew that there was a chance of rain this weekend, beginning on Friday afternoon, so I figured that I better get the lawn mowed even though I dislike doing it in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day. With the dry weather, I’ve only been mowing every other week. Even though we only mow up around the house, it takes me a couple hours. I usually begin in the front yard, then I stop, refill the mower with gas, and take a break before I mow the back yard. It is exhausting, and I dream of having some sort of tractor with a mower for summer and a snowblower for winter.  It’s not in the budget yet. Even though mowing is hot and tiring, I love the look of a freshly mowed yard.

When I finished the lawn, I took a short break before going out to gather eggs and then starting supper. I made steak, coleslaw, and corn-on-the-cob. I love corn-on-the-cob and it was on sale at the store. If we expand our garden next year, we would like to try growing our own corn. I’d also like to try watermelon and cantaloupe.

This morning my body felt tired from yesterday’s labor. I could also feel soreness from my hands and knees from falling off the porch yesterday when I went out to move sprinklers. Fortunately I didn’t break anything this time. The chance of rain is slight this afternoon (20%), but higher this evening and tomorrow (30% to 50%) so I decided I was too tired to bother with sprinklers today.

The mornings lately have been cool–so cool that I wear a jacket when I go out to do my chores. I remembered that as we were buying our house, our loan officer told me that Lake Michigan often acts like an air conditioner. In the afternoons the temperatures heat up, but I revel in the mornings’ coolness.

Since it was sunny this morning. I decided to risk doing laundry and hanging clothes out to dry. When JJ lived at home, I had to do laundry about every other day because he needed clean uniforms for work. But now that he’s moved out, I only have to do laundry once a week. Well, I do wash a load of towels twice a week so we don’t run out. I got all our clothes hung on the line, but as the morning progressed, clouds began to move in so I decided to wash the last load–towels–in the drying. I didn’t think they would have time to dry before the (slight chance of) rain, and my clothes line was mostly full already.

Vacation Neighbors live at the bottom of this hill.

It is always very pleasant hanging the clothes on the line. I always enjoy drinking in the beauty around me as I hang the clothes and enjoying the peaceful nature sounds. Well, usually it’s quiet and peaceful, but this summer has been noisy with Orcs chopping down the forest across the road. This morning in addition to the Orcs, I also heard machine noises from our Vacation Neighbors, who are obviously at their cabin this weekend. I figured the guy was mowing his lawn, but it sounded much louder than normal this morning. I’m so used to our quiet, peaceful Enchanted Forest that the noises seem deafening this summer. I wondered…was Vacation Neighbor mowing his lawn or was he, also, an Orc? Gasp! Was Orc-ness contagious like zombie-ness?? Usually I am totally uninterested in spying on my neighbors, but I was in a playful mood this morning. I left my basket of wet clothes at the clothesline and skulked through the forest to see if the noise I heard was our Vacation Neighbor’s mower or Orc machines. We live on top of a hill and our Vacation Neighbors live beneath us at the bottom with a steep forested slope between us. I stayed at the top and tried to look down, but there were so many trees that I couldn’t see anything. However, after I finished hanging the clothes, Hannah wanted outside so I walked her down the driveway and saw Vacation Guy on his riding mower. He’s not an Orc after all.

I read an article today about a tree found near the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans that lures birds to themselves and then murders them for no good reason that scientists can discover. That’s interesting and rather scary.

The breeze dried the clothes quickly. As took them off the line, I heard the sound of machinery from the direction of the Vacation Neighbors. It sure sounded like Orc Machinery and the guy should have been done mowing by now. Either the Orcs are cutting down trees on the other side of Vacation Neighbors or they are cutting down trees further down the road so it sounds as if it’s coming from the direction of Vacation Neighbor’s.

In between tasks I sat in my chair, drank, coffee, and worked on this post. I glanced out of the window next to me and spied a beautiful black and blue butterfly in the landscape rocks near the house. I took a photo of it and then tried to identify it. I think it’s a Red-Spotted Purple. It sure is beautiful.

I had sort of planned to make a trip to TSC for poultry supplies today, but I didn’t feel up to it so I just puttered around home.

Hannah’s strawberry patch

This afternoon I walked Hannah down the driveway to the Magic Box (where delivery people leave packages for us in the Winter when they can’t make it up the driveway) and back. Hannah spied a patch of wild strawberries and she paused to eat the tiny ripe berries. Hannah eats everything–old straw from the coop, various critter poop, grasshoppers, strawberries, dead rodents. Much of our walk involves me trying to keep her from eating things. But I stop to let her eat the strawberries each day.

Madeline carrying the chipmunk

Radar showed a huge mass of rain headed right for us–it couldn’t miss!–so I decided maybe I should go out to the coop and gather eggs an hour earlier than usual so I wouldn’t be caught in it. As I got out of my chair I glanced out of the window and spied Madeline, our serial killer cat, trotting by with a chipmunk in her mouth.  Suddenly Madeline dropped the rodent and it began to run with her after it. I can’t do anything about dead or mostly dead critters, but I can rescue still alive ones! I ran out in my socks, shouting “No! No! No!” to Madeline. She is really quite timid, but she was in pursuit of her victim so she’d run off a bit as I shouted at her, and then return, circling around. The chipmunk scurried toward the Xterra while Madeline went under it. The chipmunk hid for a short time in the hubcap and then ran under the Xterra where Madeline was waiting. It was like in those movies where the people are walking toward where the viewer knows the serial killer/monster is hiding…Somehow the chipmunk escaped and ran across the grass, up the hill, and into the forest with Madeline chasing it. I tried to keep myself between Madeline and the chipmunk, continuing to shout “No!” to scare Madeline. Hannah heard me shouting and was in the house barking frantically. I lost sight of the chipmunk but saw Madeline looking up into the tree, so I stood my ground for a moment or two to give the chipmunk time to get away. Then I telepathically thought to the chipmunk, “I did my best. You are on your own now. Be more watchful next time….”

I got my chore boots on and went out to the poultry pen. As I filled the drinking buckets with water, I spied Madeline trot past the pen on her way to the garage. She wasn’t carrying any chipmunks so I think it got away.

The rain went south of us and then disappeared. Bummer. Well, there’s always tonight and tomorrow….

 

Showers of Blessing

Looking up our driveway at the blue skies

Yesterday was another very beautiful day with sunshine and blue skies…and no rain.

Once again, I had to turn on the sprinklers in the morning after taking caring of the various animals. My backyard method is the same every day: I fill up the ducks’ drinking water and pool, then water the garden, then move the hose and water the potatoes at the bottom of the hill. The front is more complicated. My method is that one day I set up the sprinklers at the apple trees at the top of the hill, move over to the cherry trees across the driveway, then move the sprinklers back across the driveway to the evergreen trees at the bottom of the hill. When I finish watering, I leave the hose there. The next morning I start at the evergreen trees, then water the cherry trees, then finish with watering the apple trees. So one day I start at the apple trees, the next day I end at the apple trees. Up and down one day, down and up the next, and do it all over again.

The loggers at my Orc Neighbor’s place start their work at 6 a.m. I took a video yesterday to show how loudly their machines are, which I hear hour after hour, day after day:

For some reason the loggers quit at mid-afternoon yesterday. I wondered if their job was finished? That would be joy! But when I took Hannah for a walk down the driveway, I saw a huge pile of logs stacked up in the field. Today I hear them working again, but the noise is more muted. Maybe they are working further away into the forest? Whatever. The noise is less loud annoying today–a murmur instead of a roar–although I still hate the thought of all the trees being cut down and the wildlife babies at risk.

Yesterday I washed a load of towels and hung them out on the clothesline. I retrieved the wheelbarrow from the garden where I had parked it so the ducks could sleep in its shade. They have other shady places in the pen to find refuge from the sun, but they seem to like the wheelbarrow shade–and it’s as good a place as any to park the wheelbarrow when I’m not using it. I pushed the wheelbarrow to the back of the Xterra and unloaded the bags of garden soil, three at a time. I put three bags in the garage and the other three bags I left in the wheelbarrow which I parked back in the garden.

Milkweed in my flower garden.

I did a little weeding yesterday. I notice a few milkweed plants are growing in the flower garden. I’m leaving them there for the Monarch butterflies. My philosophy of gardening is that a plant is not a weed if it is where I want it to be. I think it’s funny that one is a treasured flower in one region is considered a weed in another. I remember that not long after one of my Michigan friends married an Iowan farmer, she bought some morning-glory plants for her garden. When her husband discovered this, he was horrified because he killed morning glories as an invasive weed on his farm. LOL.

Yellow and Green

Whenever I walk Hannah down the driveway, which is several times a day, I enjoy watching for wildflowers blooming. I noticed that there are a lot of dandelion-type flowers growing among the milkweed on the hill. Their yellow was very cheerful among the green. I know a lot of people dislike dandelions and spend a lot of money on chemicals to eradicate them from their lawns. I’m not sure why it’s so important to have a dandelion-less lawn. I’ve always loved dandelions. They are the first flowers that children pick to bring to their Mommy. They also are a nutritious food (if they aren’t covered with chemicals). And they are a good source of nectar for bees, which are struggling to survive.  I found this informative cartoon from a website called “Mother Nature News”:

Captain AmeROOca and his hen at the far end of the roost.

I’ve noticed when I shut the chickens in their coop every evening that all the hens are gathered around Sassy, our alpha rooster. Well, all except one. One hen always sits at the far end of the roost next to Captain AmeROOca, our other rooster. I thought, well, that’s nice of Sassy to allow Captain one of the hens in his harem instead of keeping them all to himself. Sassy is a very thoughtful leader who brings balance and harmony to the coop.

We woke to dark cloudy skies and a chance of rain this morning. The forecasts for our area has been up and down all summer, with slight promises of rain that evaporate to nothing. However, shortly after EJ left for work this morning, we actually got some rain! Yay! I quickly closed the windows EJ had opened and then went back to work because I had another night of little sleep and was very tired. I was dimly aware of a little thunder, but not loud enough, or long enough to wake me from my sleep.

Because I slept, I’m not sure how long or hard it rained, but I know it was enough that I didn’t have to worry about watering the gardens or trees. There were dark cloudy skies when I woke, and it was wonderfully cool and breezy today. The temperatures did not reach 70. About mid-afternoon a few large puffy clouds sailed slowly across the blue sky and disappeared into the distance.

This morning when I took Hannah Joy outside, she quickly pounced on something in the grass and ate it. I think it was a dead mouse or something, probably killed by Madeline. I could hear a crunch, crunching (bones?) as she ate it, and it looked like a tail was hanging from her mouth until she slurped it down. Hannah eats everything, probably because she was starved by her previous owner. Usually when Hannah grabs something she shouldn’t I try to pry it from her, with resistance from Hannah. However, there was no way I was going to try to retrieve a dead, crunched critter from her jaws. I felt sick. Yuck!

Today has been a very sleepy day. Tomorrow will be busier. It is grocery day.

Damaging My Calm

Today was another beautiful sunny day. Because of the lack of rain, we have “Extreme Fire Danger” warnings in our area. I hope we start getting rain soon–mostly because of the thirsty plants, of course, but also because we can’t risk having weekend campfires with it so dry.  We really love sitting around the fire but the last thing we want is to start a forest fire.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I actually haven’t slept consistently well since JJ had cancer. I sleep ok for a few days and then have a night of poor sleep. It kind of sucks. But it is what it is.

I think I finally fell asleep sometime after 1 a.m.–or was it 2 a.m.? During the week, my alarm goes off at 6 a.m., which is the time EJ needs to get up for work, although often he wakes up earlier. This morning I stumbled out of bed and took care of all the animals, each according to their needs.

After letting the ducks and chickens out of their coop, I turned on the backyard garden hose, then turned on the front yard hose, and took Hannah outside. Since we have extended our front yard hose by 50 feet, the sprinkler was able to reach the evergreen trees we planted. I had to do a bit of adjusting to get it just right. I snaked the hose down the hill, being careful not to crush any of the milkweed plants which are the only plant that Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs on. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat the milkweed. Milkweed plants are diminishing so we try to encourage their growth. I didn’t crushed any milkweed, but it was difficult so I think tomorrow I will try pulling the hose along the side of the driveway instead.

Once the sprinklers were going, I came inside and relaxed. Then as soon as EJ left for work, I moved the backyard sprinkler from the garden to the potatoes, and I moved the front yard sprinklers to water some of the fruit trees. I came in, ate breakfast, then went out and turned off the backyard sprinkler and moved the front yard sprinkler to another section of fruit trees. I have to move the long hose three times to water all the trees, then I move the lever from the long hose to the short hose to water the flower garden near the house. It takes me at least 2 hours, or maybe a little more, to get everything watered. It’s time consuming, but more thorough and less work than before we got the new hoses.

Bags of garden soil.

Later in the morning, I drove to Meijers and bought six more bags of organic garden soil. I wasn’t sure we needed that many, but I was told by the clerk last time I bought dirt that when they’ve sold the various times of soil, the store won’t order more until next year. The bags are very heavy–much heavier than the 50 lb bags of poultry feed we buy, but I manage to get them loaded in the shopping cart and then transferred to the Xterra. I didn’t take unload them when I got home.  I was too tired. I will unload it tomorrow.

It was lunchtime so I fixed myself a quick meal and then went out to work in the garden. EJ is going to put garden boxes on top of the dog house so I built a fence around the dog house to try to keep deer from whatever is planted in the boxes. Because of the way the dog house it built, and because I only had flimsy chicken wire to work with, it was very difficult to fashion the fence and it did not turn out as well as I wanted. I sort of corn-cobbled it together. Next year we want to extend the garden so we can grow things like corn. We will buy taller fencing to put around the perimeter of the garden to keep the deer out so my fencing just has to last through this summer.

After I finished the fencing, I got a short piece of wooden post and used it to level the box on the dog house.

I have given my neighbors descriptive nicknames. There is the “neighbor who lives on the hill on the other side of the road.” They go to Florida in the Winter. There is the “Orc Neighbors” where the forest is being cut down. They also live on the other side of the road. And then there is the “Vacationing Neighbors.” Their property borders ours and we share part of our driveway. Our 5 acre properties used to be one 10 acre property before it was split. We live on the top of the hill; their property is at the bottom. Our Vacationing Neighbor’s property is their vacation place. They live downstate and come up here only during the summer. They frequently are up here for the weekend and infrequently for a whole week. Usually when they are here on the weekends, they mow the lawn or cut down trees that have fallen during winter storms.

Image result for Jayne Cobb damaging calmAnyway, early this morning the roar and beep of forest killing machines began at the Orc Neighbor’s place for another week of slaughter. They work all day long, from early morning until their work day is over at 5 p.m. I really hope they will not be working across the road all summer long. The hours and hours of noise is getting to me. I am refreshed by quiet nature sounds. If I wanted to listen to machines all day, I’d move to New York City. To quote a character from “Firefly,” one of my favorite TV series, the constant noise is “…Starting to damage my calm.”

At least the Orcs don’t work on the weekend. Except Saturday our Vacation Neighbor was in residence and I heard several hours of chain-sawing. Sigh. Sunday was quiet though.

For supper tonight, I made homemade pizza. It took me a long time of searching and trying out various pizza crust recipes until–a few years ago–I finally found an amazing recipe. I used canned tomato sauce and paste to make my pizza sauce, but I put fresh herbs from my garden in it.  Yum.

I usually eat at 5:30 p.m. if EJ isn’t home from work by then. He often has to work late. Poor guy. He is late tonight so after I ate, I fed Hannah. She waits until I tell her it’s ok to start eating and then she gobbles down her food. After she ate, she wanted to go out, so I walked her down the driveway in the now quiet forest. Hannah found a couple grasshoppers and ate them. I guess they were dessert? Yuck. Hannah eats just about everything she can find–although she’s not eating the June bugs that are dying on the porch.

This and That and Thingmajigs

EJ and I had a quiet weekend together. We got a few tasks done, but we didn’t overwork.

Saturday morning after I took care of all the animals, I turned on the sprinklers to water the garden and the evergreens and fruit trees we had planted. I always turn on the sprinklers in the garden first after I fill the ducks pool and drinking water. Then I headed to the front yard to water the trees. I had just turned on the front yard sprinklers when it began to rain. The rain surprised me because I had checked the weather report Friday night and we were not supposed to get any rain for several days. I turned off all the sprinklers and then headed back into the house. It didn’t rain hard or for very long, but it was enough to water everything.

This morning I again turned on the sprinklers. This time they stayed on because the day was rainless. In the back yard I have to water the garden and then move the hose over to water the potatoes at the bottom of the hill. In the front yard I have to move the hose a couple times to get all the apple trees watered. Since the hose/sprinkler doesn’t reach all the evergreens or the cherry trees on the other side of the driveway, I fill emptied milk jugs with water and lug them over to give each tree a drink. After all the trees have been watered, I really need to drag the hose to water the flower garden next to the house, but I haven’t done it the last few times because it requires dragging the hose back between two of the large rocks and then, after the flower garden is water, dragging them back to the trees for the next morning’s watering. It’s a hassle.

A manifold thingmajig

It takes me a while to get everything watered. If we got more rain, I wouldn’t have to water at all. It’s been a very dry Spring for us this year.

After I finally got all my morning chores done, and EJ and I had eaten breakfast, and I had taken my shower, we drove to TSC. I had told EJ that I would like to buy a thingmajig to attached to the front outside faucet so that we could hook two hoses up to them so I didn’t have to drag the hose back and forth between the flower garden and the trees. He said, “You mean a ‘manifold’?” Oh, yes, I didn’t know that’s what it was called. There are little levers on the manifold so I can shut off the water to one hose or another if I don’t want them both on.

We bought a manifold at TSC as well as two more 50 foot hoses, both of which we connected to the manifold. We attached one of the new hoses to the 100 foot hose so it reaches all the trees so I don’t have to lug gallon jugs. We will keep the other 50 foot hose near the house to water the flower garden.

Hannah stretching to get close to us.

We took Hannah with us to TSC. Hannah loves to be as close as she can to us, which is possibly dangerous if Hannah distracts the driver, but we can hook a seatbelt up to her harness to keep her in the back seat. Even so, she stretches herself as far forward as the seatbelt allows her. Many of you may remember that we had adopted Hannah from the local animal shelter two days before Christmas 2017. She and two other dogs had been rescued from an abusive home where they had been kept outside and starved. When we brought Hannah home, she was extremely thin–we could count her bones. She has blossomed in our home and loves being close to us.

When Hannah wasn’t trying to get close to us, she looked out the window. She also tried to get in the very back of the Xterra. She’s not an easy dog to take on a drive, but I’m confident she will learn to settle down eventually.

After lunch, EJ and I went out to work in the garden. We had bought a few packets of seeds. It’s probably a bit late to plant them, but we couldn’t resist and, hey, they weren’t that much and it’s worth a try. EJ planted his seeds–parsnips, turnips, radishes, and a few others–while I planted mine. I bought borage, which has pretty purple flowers that are edible. I think they taste like cucumbers. They are pretty in salads. I had grown borage in my garden downstate, but I hadn’t found any here in Northern Michigan until now. I also planted some cat mint outside the garden fence. I figure the cats might enjoy it and I think that deer hate it because of its strong scent. I had taken Hannah out with us and looped the handle over a t-post so she could roam outside the garden but not get inside where the ducks are. After I planted the cat mint Hannah began digging in one of the places I had planted it. Dirt went flying until I stopped her. I have no idea now where the cat mint will begin to grow, if it grows at all.

EJ had more seeds to plant than I did so after I finished planting my borage and catmint, I  weeded some of the raised garden beds.

We found another wooden box and EJ says that he has another one at work that he can bring home. We are running out of space inside the fence–maybe next year we will expand the garden–but meanwhile EJ suggested putting garden boxes on top of the wooden dog house in the garden. The ducks like to lay their eggs in there sometimes. I asked him where we were going to get dirt. “Do you want me to buy some more dirt?” I asked, trying not to laugh. “You are such a city girl,” he sigh. But he agreed that I could buy some dirt. I will probably do it tomorrow.

Hannah sleeping on my lap.

After our gardening, we came into the house to take a break. EJ fell asleep in his chair. I wasn’t planning to nap, but seeing EJ sleeping in his chair and Hannah sleeping in my lap made me feel sleepy too, so I went into our bedroom to nap on the bed. Hannah joined me, curling up close to me with her head next to mine.

In the late afternoon, I took Hannah for a walk down the driveway. I noticed a few more wildflowers blooming so after I took Hannah back into the house, EJ and I walked down to look at them. I took my camera with me and our cat Josette walked with us. Josette usually follows us around when we are outside. The flowers sure are beautiful.

When we got back up to the house, we sat on our deck for a while. It was cool and breezy–just right. Later, I went out and shut the chickens and ducks in their coop. I have to wait until twilight when the chickens have voluntarily entered the coop and settled themselves on their roosts. It’s impossible to herd them inside against their will. However, I can easily herd the ducks inside. I just tell them “Go to bed” and they march inside.

Well…EJ and Hannah have gone to bed, and now it’s time for me to go to bed as well!

The Orcs Next Door

I have to reach over pets to write this post.

Oh, my goodness, I just realized that I haven’t written in more than a week. In fact, this is my first post in June! I swear that I just blinked and the dates jumped from May 30th to June 8th! I’ve been busy, sort of…or unmotivated. Sometimes I was so busy that I became unmotivated afterwards. Well, I will try to catch you up. It will be difficult to write this morning because I have a cat and a dog on my lap. I have to reach over them to access my computer. I am aware that I could just shove them (gently) off my lap, but in our house pets rule.

Beginning last weekend, we had several days of very cool weather. High temperatures stayed in the 60s–sometimes barely reaching 60. I had to wear a jacket a couple of days; it was wonderful. We had a night of heavy rain and a few cloudy days, but the sun has returned and temperatures are beginning to climb again. The temperature was 44 at 6:30 this morning, but is forecasted to reach 76 degrees later today. My friend in Texas would think that 76 is cold, but I think it’s terribly hot. I am aware that in just about every post I describe the weather, but we talk about weather a lot in Michigan because it always changes and affects what we do that day.

The loggers are still cutting down trees at our neighbor-across-the-road’s place. I originally thought that maybe they were just clearing out a few trees but it looks as if they are cutting down the whole forest. I cringed when I saw a large living tree fall under the machinery, and I wondered how many bird nests and animal homes were being destroyed. This “killing the forest” makes me suspect that my neighbors might be orcs. I have a vivid memory of the orcs killing Ents in Isengard in The Lord of the Rings, which horrified me because I love living forests.

My sign

I actually made a sign last summer that forbid orcs–and ogres and goblins–from entering our Enchanted Forest. I would have put “No trolls allowed” on the sign but then I wouldn’t be able to live here because technically we are trolls. In Michigan anyone who lives south of the Mackinac Bridge that connects the two peninsula is called a “troll” because, you see, we live under the bridge like the trolls in the children’s story “Three Billy Goats Gruff.”

My sign also forbids salespeople, politicians, or religious people on our property because we are isolated from our neighbors and uninvited strangers make me nervous. The “No religious people” might be surprising to some because EJ and I are “religious” but we aren’t going to change our faith because a stranger comes to our door, and we had Jehovah Witnesses coming up our driveway so often that it became annoying. I’ve been repainting the letters of my sign because the wooden letters didn’t hold up through the winter and are falling off.

The evergreens are doing well.

Anyway, I remembered how the angry Ents fought back at Isengard in The Lord of the Rings so I silently reminded MY forest that we are planting trees, not killing them. We planted several evergreen trees, most of which are doing very well. Only the littlest evergreen is struggling a bit. I gave it extra water this morning to try to revive it.

We have also planted many fruit trees. You might recall that in The Lord of the Rings, the Ents grieved that the Ent wives had moved on and they couldn’t find them. EJ theorized years ago that fruit trees are actually Ent wives because, you know, they are fruitful. He believes they moved to the Shire where Hobbits love to garden. That theory makes perfect sense to me. So…we are planting Ent wives. I hope this is enough to reassure the Ents that we are not Orcs like our neighbors.

Imagining that the trees are Ents makes me sad whenever I hear the loggers or see the stacks of dead Ent corpses in the field. Sometimes my imagination makes me sad, sometimes it makes me happy…and sometimes my imagination scares me. For example, the GPSs in our vehicles display the speed limit, like I’m sure most do. We named the GPS in EJ’s suburban Viki, after the evil computer in I, Robot. She turns the speed limit numbers a friendly red if he goes too fast. I named the GPS in my Xterra Ziva after the Israeli agent in the TV series NCIS. Ziva makes the speed limit display all red around the edges like she’s very, very angry–so angry that she might kill me. If I go more than 5 mph over the speed limit, she shouts a loud beep at me–I’m sure that she’s swearing at me and it is being “beeped” out. It makes me jump. Ziva freaks me out a bit. Fortunately I tend to go slower than the speed limit because I get distracted by the beautiful scenery.

Ugh. I am having a problem with tiny ants in my kitchen. I have a problem with them every year at this season, but usually I can see where they are coming from so I target that area and “poof!” they are gone. But this year I can’t figure out how they are getting in. I’ve sprayed with ant killer spray (EJ calls my poisonous sprays “assassin spray”) and I’ve sprayed with peppermint water, both of which kill the ants I see, but more keep coming. It’s annoying and makes me feel “red around the edges” like Ziva.

Poultry supplies

Other than tree-killing orcs, angry GPSs, and bothersome ants, life is peaceful in our enchanted forest. I’ve been somewhat busy this week. Monday I went to TSC and bought a 55 pound bag of dog food, several 50 pound bags of poultry feed, and a heavy compressed bale of straw. Loading the heavy bags into the shopping cart, and then into the Xterra, and then unloading them at home was very exhausting–but I figure it was like weightlifting, only less boring and more productive. I pulled the bags of poultry feed from the Xterra into the wheelbarrow and pushed it over to the coop. Then I dragged the bags into the coop where I scooped the feed into the empty kitty litter buckets to keep it safe from any mice that Madeline our serial killer cat might have missed.

Handheld bug zappers

I also bought handheld bug zappers at TSC so we could return JJ’s bug zappers to him. The bug zappers work really well and are actually very fun and satisfying to use. I couldn’t find them in the store so I had to ask a clerk for help. He said there were only three black ones left, so I said I’d take all three.  As he handed them over to me, he noticed a box underneath filled with pink zappers and asked if I wanted pink ones. He seemed surprised when I refused–as if a woman should want pink? I hate the color pink. The color reminds me of pepto-bismal, the nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea medicine. Yuck. Now if they had been school-bus yellow zappers, I might have bought the whole box. School-bus yellow is my favorite color. It makes me happy whenever I see it.

EJ had worked at organizing his garage again last Sunday and he was able to uncover two large wooden boxes. We placed some old wooden pallets in the garden and he put the boxes on top for some more raised beds. Our soil is mostly sand so we garden with raised beds, which we fill with better dirt. We have dug some sort-of-ok dirt at one place in our property, but after I shoveled and pushed a wheelbarrow of dirt into one of the boxes, I said, “Forget this!” and on Wednesday afternoon I drove to Meijers and bought several bags of garden soil. I pulled the very heavy bags from the Xterra into my wheelbarrow and pushed them into the garden, where I poured them into the boxes. Later EJ called me a “city farmer” for buying dirt, but I defended my purchase by saying it was very cheap. “Was it dirt cheap?” he asked, and we both laughed. I did reassure him that once our compost pile gets going, I won’t buy any more dirt.

Yesterday I pulled some t-posts from along the driveway and fenced in the new boxes to keep the ducks out. When I finished, I left the wheelbarrow in the garden because the ducks like to sleep in its shade on hot days.

A few wildflowers are beginning to bloom along our driveway, including daisies, leafy spurge, and another flower that is sometimes called goatsbeard or joseph’s beard. It’s also sometimes called “Johnny-go-to-bed-at-noon” because the flower closes at noon. I like that last name the best. It has a seed head similar to a dandelion but it’s HUGE. I think it looks like a magic wand. It took me awhile to realize that the yellow flower and the magic wand were the same plant. In fact, I didn’t realize it was the same plant until I took a photo of the flower last year and looked it up on the Internet to identify it. I enjoy photographing the wildflowers I discover and then trying to identify them. You can see some of the wildflowers that grow on our property in my “Our Flowers and Plants” album.

Hannah is extremely observant, noticing every sight, sound, and smell. Her nose was really sniffing the other day when she was on my lap so I videoed it. I thought her sniffing nose was interesting. Warning: I photograph or video just about everything.

Hannah sometimes makes herself small so she looks like a very little vulnerable fawn, usually when she wants something. Other times she looks like a tough biker chick. I’m really not sure how she can change her appearance so drastically. It’s as if she can inflate and deflate herself. She’s a very talented dog.

Today, other than write this post, I’ve been doing laundry. In fact, I have to go hang another basket of newly-washed clothes on the line….

 

Oxymoronic Week

This week is quickly crawling by. Yes, that is an oxymoron. I like the word oxymoron. An online dictionary defined oxymoron as “It occurs when two contradictory words are together in one phrase. In fact, oxymoron translates from the Greek words oxy meaning sharp, and moron, which means dull. Thus, the word itself is two contradictory words pushed together.”

Apparently we jumped from a snowy winter to a hot summer with no spring to transition them. Every day has been very hot which makes me feel drained. I’m unmotivated and dragging through the days. Yet, here it is already Wednesday, and I haven’t written since Sunday. I’m not sure how days that tiredly drag can leap forward so quickly.

EJ planting potatoes

After our hard work on Sunday, EJ and I took it easy on Monday. Well, sort of. I did my morning chores taking care of the animals and then turned on the sprinklers to water the garden and trees. I have to move both the back yard and front yard hoses several times to water everything, and it takes me a couple hours. I did a bit of weeding in the flower garden. I did a few other small tasks. EJ worked harder than I did. Last week a co-worker gave EJ some of his surplus seed potatoes so he hoed up the ground and planted. We didn’t have room in the garden so he planted them at the base of the hill in the back yard. We shall see how that goes.

Yesterday EJ had to return to work. I finally made it to the bank to cash a check issued by EJ’s company for reimbursement of work boots. We kept forgetting to do it. I also stopped at the grocery store and picked up a couple of things such as cabbage to make coleslaw and a seedless watermelon for supper. I prepared a marinade for some chicken breasts I was planning to bake, but the chicken wasn’t completely defrosted so I just made hamburgers instead. I was sort of relieved because baking a chicken would heat up an already hot house. The temperatures are supposed to start dropping tomorrow into the 70s so I will bake the chicken then.

Hannah Joy

I think today has been the hottest day yet. I walk outside and immediately sweat begins to drip off me. I didn’t sleep well the last few days which adds to my lack of motivation. I didn’t do much of anything today. Even poor Hannah is hot and unmotivated. I found her sleeping on our bed with the fan blowing on her. Ugh.

Earlier there was a 50% chance that it could storm this afternoon but although the wind has picked up a little, I noticed the chance of rain has dropped to 10%. Boo! There is a 90% chance of rain tonight. I hope! I hope! Seriously, I think the people downstate has been hogging all our rain. They need to send some this way!

For supper I’m just having hot dogs and leftover coleslaw so I don’t heat up the kitchen by cooking. As they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” And for goodness sakes’, don’t bake anything.

Usually I love to sit and listen to the beautiful birds sing, but the loud roar of heavy construction equipment has drowned them out since yesterday. I wondered if maybe construction crews were working on our road? When Hannah and I braved the heat and trudged down the driveway to the mailbox today, it appeared that the forest behind our neighbors across the street is being logged out. I hope they finish this job quickly because bird song is MUCH nicer than the roar of machinery. I want the quiet peace to return.

Milkweed on the hillside

We usually have milkweed growing on the hillside beyond the large rocks each year. They seem to be extra abundant this year. I’m very glad because milkweed are essential for monarch butterflies and we have been trying to encourage them to grow. The Altona Forest blog writes: “There is a symbiotic relationship between the native milkweed plants and the monarch. The monarch butterflies enjoy the nectar from the flowers and help pollinate the plants. The successful pollination allows the milkweed to thrive and thus provide more nurseries for the crucial ‘fourth generation’ of monarchs. Unfortunately, there are no substitutes for where monarchs can lay their eggs.”

I wrote not long ago that one reason I think that victims have trouble leaving their abusers are because they aren’t strangers, but people they love and have trusted–family members, friends, church leaders. Because they love and trust them, victims tend to keep trying to fix the relationship. It takes a long time to finally give up.

For it was not an enemy who insulted me;
if it had been, I could have borne it.
It was not my adversary who treated me with scorn;
if it had been, I could have hidden myself.
But it was you, a man of my own kind,
my companion, whom I knew well. (Ps. 55)

Most of the people I went to for help as I struggled with my family’s abuse told me that they were just wounded and needed my unconditional love and forgiveness. So I kept trying and trying. Slowly I wrestled with concepts like what love really involved, as well as forgiveness, repentance, reconciliation, healing, recovery. It was difficult because I had no support, no voices that said that I was experiencing abuse and that it was ok to leave.

Now support is available on social media as abuse survivors reach out to support others. I have been finding a small group of friends who validate and support me on my journey to recovery. They listen to me rant, hug me when I cry, get angry at what we’ve suffered, and help me figure out what to do next. It’s amazing how these friends strengthen me, give me hope, and help me find the courage to make difficult choices. I just want to tell any who read my blog (and I know a few do) that they are deeply valued and appreciated.

Puttering

Monday is Memorial Day, which is a day that of remembrance of American soldiers who have died in military service. The town we lived in downstate always had a very touching ceremony outside the VFW and at the cemetery. Here in the north, we haven’t yet learned where the services are. EJ has Monday off from work so we are just spending the weekend quietly.

Hannah lying in the hallway after our walk.

The National Weather Service in our area had said there was a slight chance for rain in our area yesterday. It’s been so hot and dry here that I was really hoping and hoping we would get some rain yesterday. We occasionally saw clouds billowing up, which raised our hopes. Areas just a few miles away got storms–some with ping pong ball-sized hail. The rain missed us. Rats. 

The heat didn’t miss us though. It was so terribly hot that EJ and I sat in the living room with fans turned on us, too hot to even talk. Hannah was hot too. When we staggered back from our walk to the mailbox, she lay in the cooler hallway as soon as she got in the door.

Enjoying the cool evening breezes

In the evening, a breeze blew some cool air our way–probably from the nearby storms. It was cooler outside than inside, so we went out and sat on our deck. The gnats have been terrible this year and almost drove us inside, but EJ remembered the handheld bug zappers that look like tennis racquets, and we had fun swatting the gnats. Zzzt, zzzt, zzzt, sparked the gnats until there were none left. With the gnats gone, we had a pleasant evening chatting as darkness fell around us.

During the night it stormed so I didn’t have to water the garden or the fruit trees this morning. However, today was another very hot day.

This morning we discussed possible ways to spend the day. We almost decided to go to Lowes to buy a patio umbrella. Our current umbrella snapped on a windy day a couple of years ago. EJ corn-cobbles it together, but I have trouble getting it up or down. Today we discovered a craft project we would like to try–and maybe sell at Etsy–so we thought about going to Joann Fabrics to research supplies. However, we decided to save our money and stay at home. Our property is so beautiful and peaceful that we love staying home.

We puttered happily today.

EJ spent most of the day cleaning and organizing his garage. When we decided to move in 2015, everything went very fast. EJ put his resume on Indeed.Com, a few days later a company interviewed him on the phone, then they wanted to meet him in person. Then they hired him, and a couple of weeks later he was working at his new job. When we moved, we made multiple trips back and forth and shoved a bunch of stuff in the garage. EJ has been sorting through everything since then, discarding some things and organizing others. He works on the garage–in the summers when the weather is nice and his back isn’t throbbing too much. He made tons of progress today.

My poultry/garden gate.

I did a bunch of little tasks. Using paint pens, I repainted my “Plum Crazy” sign on the poultry pen/garden gate. A larger sized pen would have worked better, but I still think it looks cute.

I also did laundry and hung the clothes outside to dry.

Then I pulled out the stove and cleaned behind it. I swept and mopped the kitchen floor, and vacuumed the carpet in the other rooms.

EJ found some snap pea seeds and asked me to figure out where to plant them in the garden. He said they needed to climb. So as I gathered eggs, I thought and thought. I finally decided that we could plant them outside the long thin planter boxes where EJ has planted his beans. They can climb up the fencing surrounding the planters. But I needed to keep the ducks from eating them. I found pieces of hog fencing that we had used for Danny’s pen downstate. They were just the right size for gates to allow us access to the beans and peas but block the ducks. I was hot and sweaty by the time I finished, so I went inside for a short break. We can plant EJ’s seeds tomorrow.

I decided to store the poultry feed and straw in the coop instead of the garage so I carried everything out there. Then I moved the cat house, which is actually a dog crate, that we set up in the garage for the outside cats last winter over to where the poultry stuff had been stored. That gives EJ more room in the rest of the garage.

In the midst of these tasks, during the hottest part of the day, we stayed inside for a bit and ate lunch. Our cat Kee-Kee sat on my lap and I brushed him because he’s getting too old to take care of his fur. Some of his hair flew up and Hannah leaped at it. I thought she might enjoy chasing bubbles, so I blew some for her. She had a ball.

EJ and I ended our day by sitting out on the deck again to enjoy another beautiful evening. I had fun trying to capture the night sky. There weren’t many stars out because the moon is full and its light hid them. However, I loved the beauty of the moon and the trees.

Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter than today with temperatures in the high 80’s. Ugh. However, in spite of the heat, we are really enjoy our quiet weekend of puttering at home.

 

Warm and Warmer

The three days since my last post have been beautiful with blue skies and plenty of sunshine. The temperature has climbed every day, with each day warmer than the last. Today it is 86 degrees. It’s way above my tolerance level. I’m totally melting.

I’ve added “turning on the sprinklers” to my list of morning chores. After I’ve fed Hannah Joy and taken her outside, fed the inside and then the outside cats, filled the poultry drinking buckets and the kiddie pool for the ducks, and let the ducks and chickens out of the coop, I attach the sprinkler to the hose to water the garden in the back yard. As soon as EJ leaves for work, I turn on the sprinkler in the front yard to water the apple trees and then I move it to water the flower garden and the house plants which sit on the deck all summer long. Even though we have a 100 foot garden house in the front yard, it doesn’t reach the new evergreen trees below the hill or the cherry trees on the other side of the driveway so I have been lugging kitty litter buckets of water to give them all drinks. I didn’t do it this morning though–although I should have–because there is a slight chance of rain tonight. I figured they could wait. I really do hope we get some rain.

I think the ducks reached through the fence to bite off one of the zucchini plants so I reworked the fencing there on Wednesday morning.There is a gate dividing the garden and the smaller pen in front of their side of the coop. (The chickens also have a large outside pen on their side of the coop.) I open the gate in the morning so the ducks can wander through the garden gobbling snacks of insects. There is fencing around each raised bed so they can’t easily eat our herbs and veggies. When the gate is open, it almost blocks the area where the zucchini plants are in the cracked kiddie pool. So I pounded a t-post into the ground and fastened a small bit of fencing in the small opening not blocked by the gate.  Now at night the gate closes access to the duck coop/pen, and during the day it allows the ducks into the garden but closes off their access to the zucchini. I think it’s pretty ingenious. Oh, and I put some chicken fencing up so the ducks can’t reach through the fence and gobble the zucchini.

Yesterday afternoon I washed most of the windows. I have one or two more windows to wash, but not today. Today is too hot.

Today I stayed inside and cleaned out the fridge, washing the shelves and tossing out items that are expired or was pushed to the back and went bad. Hannah “helped” by licking the shelves I took out or eating food particles that were swept out. She also ate my scratch pad that I had used to scrub the inside of the fridge and then set aside. Sigh. She eats everything!

After I cleaned the fridge, I reorganized the chest freezer in the pantry. It was mostly already organized so it wasn’t a hard job. I found some frozen squash that had been there since 2014. I took it out to the chickens for a frozen treat to cool them off.  Which reminds me: I need to make some frozen treats for the poultry. I freeze veggies and/or fruit in ice and then they enjoy nibbling it. It helps keep them cool on hot days.

It felt good to stick my head in the cool fridge and freezer. But then I walked to the mailbox with Hannah. I felt as if I were stumbling through a hot, hot desert. Hannah helped pull me up the hill or I might not have made it. EJ would have come home from work and found my body baking in the driveway.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Wednesday morning I heard the call of an unfamiliar bird. There were actually two calling back and forth to each other. I could see one of the birds on a tree but I couldn’t see it clearly enough to tell what it was. So I got my camera out, zoomed way in, and snapped a few photos. Once I uploaded it to my computer, I was able to identify it as a Great Crested Flycatcher. The first time I saw one was last year, and now they are back! I’ve been hearing them every morning since Wednesday. I was able to get a video of the bird too. It is jerky at first because it was difficult to locate the bird in my camera’s viewfinder:

I love watching the birds!

The lilac bushes are in bloom. We have four (or is it five?) all in various shades of lavender around the house. When the breeze blows, we can smell their beautiful fragrance. They are one of my favorite flowers.

EJ has a three-day weekend because of Memorial Day. We are really looking forward to it! We haven’t quite decided what to do. We might go off and do something, but we might just putter around home. Our home is so beautiful that we really enjoy just staying here!

Garden Fun

The morning-glories and lilacs survived Sunday night’s frost. Yeah!

Yesterday morning I washed some clothes and hung them on the clothesline. It looked a bit cloudy so I went in to check the National Weather Service forecast. It said we could get some rain. I checked radar, and it showed a great deal of rain heading our way. It was still a bit far away so I had time to dry the clothes on the line, but I dried the towels, which I usually wash last, in the dryer because I didn’t want to bother hanging them out when I wasn’t sure there would be time for them to dry outside.

Lavender plants on the table. EJ’s tomato plants sitting on the deck, and my cheerful hanging flowers.

I chatted with a friend at Facebook and another on the phone. Then I checked the radar again and the rain looked very close–less than a county away. I decided to make another trip to the wonderful plant nursery for some more lavender before it began raining. The nursery is less than 10 miles away, which is both good and bad. It is good because it doesn’t take long to get there, and it’s bad for the same reason: It’s closeness is tempting and the cost of plants adds up quickly.

A cheerful splash of color.

I bought a flat of lavender, two more bags of soil mixed especially for vegetables, two 18 bulb bags of Crocosmia that caught my eye, and I couldn’t resist getting a beautiful hanging plant. I’m not sure what it is, but it is a bright red splash of color. I hung it on the bird feeder post near the deck. I’m hoping the red flowers will attract hummingbirds. Plus, I don’t think Madeline can climb the post easily with it there.

I drove home, unloaded my plants, and checked radar again. Although the rain was moving toward us, it was no closer than it had been before. It apparently dissipated just before it got to us. We actually didn’t get any rain until about sunset. I was glad it finally rained. We could really use some.

I spent the rest of the afternoon contently working in the peaceful garden. I planted the strawberries in the old hot tub, as well as some of the herbs and veggies that EJ and I had bought on Sunday. I didn’t plant everything because I needed to think of where to plant some of the veggies. Some require deeper raised beds than others, and I only have a limited supply of the deeper boxes.

Turkey hen outside the window

We frequently see a hen turkey wandering our property. I’m sure she has a nest somewhere. I’m actually not sure if there is just one or more. I went into the bedroom yesterday afternoon after I finished planting and was surprised to see a turkey hen just outside the window. I snuck away and grabbed my camera and then snuck back and took a couple photos. Turkeys are very alert and observant so I couldn’t get too close.

EJ planted some bean seeds last weekend. After supper, he went out into the garden and planted some carrot seeds.

This morning I was sitting in my chair by the window drinking my coffee when I saw a huge bird flying low between the house and the big rocks. I was excited and silently exclaimed, “Oh, wow! Oh, wow! I wonder what that is!” It landed on the other side of the driveway and then I recognized it as a turkey hen. I didn’t know until a couple of years ago–after we moved here–that turkeys can fly and they actually roost high in trees at night.

Today was beautiful with blue skies and just-right temperatures in the upper 60s. It was just cool enough to make working outside pleasant.

Lilies along the driveway. Soon there will be wildflowers too!

I have read that lavender repels deer and also things like fleas and ticks (which is why I bought so many). I looked up on the Internet to see to make sure lavender can be planted near fruit trees–they can. So I planted a lavender plant near each of our apple and cherry trees. Then I planted some along the edge of the driveway. I also planted a couple in the flower garden near the house. I took a short break, and then planted a few of the Crocosmia bulbs in the flower garden and the rest along the driveway. I lugged along a kitty litter bucket full of water and gave each plant/bulb a drink when I planted it.

The zucchini pool in the foreground.

I was tired and hungry so I took a break to eat lunch. Then I planted all the rest of the herbs and veggies in the garden except for EJ’s large tomato bushes, which I will let him plant. I left two of the large deep containers for him. Yesterday and today I moved wooden planters from the front yard to the back yard to replace some of the pots. They were heavy, but I moved them with the wheelbarrow and then heaved them inside the fenced in beds.

I wasn’t sure where to plant the zucchini plants–I was running out of suitable raised bed containers. I finally spotted the round ducks’ kiddie pool, which I noticed had a crack in it a few weeks ago when I filled it for the first–and last–time. (The ducks have another little kiddie pool to swim in). I dragged it to the corner of the garden, filled it with dirt from containers we won’t be using, put in some veggie soil mix, and planted the zucchini. I also had to fix some fencing so that the ducks can’t eat the zucchini plants.

By the time I got the zucchini planted, I was really tired, but I had to prepare supper. I got it cooking and then walked Hannah down to the mailbox for the mail. Hannah did very well in the house alone while I worked; she only ate a teabag left on the counter. Every time I sat down today to take a break, she grumbled that she needed more attention as she climbed into my lap.

I did a few other chores, like dishes, cleaning the kitty litter, set up the coffee pot for tomorrow, and then I sat and ate. EJ often works late and I don’t usually know when he’s going to get home so I eat supper if he’s not home by 5:30 p.m.

While I was working in the garden, I saw Madeline take a chipmunk in the garage. She left it right inside the door. I thought it was dead, but it was only mostly dead. When I went to move it with a shovel to throw it in the forest, I saw it move a tiniest tiny bit. I was careful when I set it down, but I think it’s too far gone to live. Poor thing.

 

Hannah’s Favorite Uncle

EJ and I had an enjoyable weekend. I hope you all did too!

EJ’s friend arrived late Friday afternoon for an overnight visit. EJ had to work late so TH arrived before EJ got home from work. This is the first time TH has visited since we brought Hannah home from the shelter. I wasn’t sure how Hannah would react to a stranger so when I saw TH drive up the driveway, I put her leash on her. She really barked and growled ferociously when he came to the door and I was a bit concerned that she would attack him. But he likes dogs and he stooped down to her level, asked me to remove the leash (which I did reluctantly), and he very patiently and calmly talked to her. It wasn’t long before he had won her over. In fact, she acted like he was her favorite uncle. She snuggled next to him and kept bringing her toys over for him to play with her. It was very cute.

We all agreed that Hannah would protect us from anyone wanting to do us harm. That is actually good to know because we are rather isolated on our hill.

Saturday morning my alarm went off at about 5:40 a.m. I turned it off and was going to snuggle back into bed, but EJ got up so I did too. I hurried and did my morning chores–caring for the dog, cats, chickens and ducks. Then we settled down to watch the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. TH woke up soon after and watched it with us too. I also called my friend and we commented on the wedding as we watched it in our homes in different states. It was fun. The wedding was beautiful. I hope Harry and Meghan have a happy life together.

TH left in early Saturday afternoon. It was rainy and/or foggy all day. It was a good day for a cozy and sleepy day in the house.

EJ Mowing

Today (Sunday) was sunny and beautiful. EJ got the mower started and mowed the lawn while I cleaned the house. Later we went to the plant nursery. We bought a flat of strawberry plants, various herbs, and lavender, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, chives, mint, and probably a few others. We also bought some good dirt for our raised beds. We didn’t get as many plants this year as last year. I mostly concentrated on the veggies and herbs that I often use rather than try to get new ones. We will work at improving our raised beds this year.

After we arrived home from the nursery, we went into the garden. Last year’s strawberry plants didn’t survive in their raised beds, so I’m going to put them in the hot tub bed this year because it’s insulated and might protect them better in the winter. I loosened up the soil while EJ prepared the soil in the three long raised beds and planted bean seeds.

I found a package of perennial wildflower seeds that EJ had bought a while back, so later we walked down and I planted them along the driveway. After Danny was put to sleep, the vet set us a sympathy card that had forget-me-knot seeds imbedded in a silhouette of a dog on the front. Hannah had chewed it up somewhat, but most of the pieces of the seeded dog were salvageable, so at EJ’s suggested I planted the pieces near the rocks where Danny used to dig a hole and lie in it.

We are expecting another frost tonight, so we didn’t take the nursery plants out of the Xterra. We felt they would be better protected there than anywhere else. We aren’t expecting frost the rest of the week so I’ll take the plants all out tomorrow and start planting some of them. When I went outside at dusk to shut the chickens and ducks in their coop for the night, I tried to cover up my morning-glory plants growing near the deck. Our lilac bushes are almost in bloom and I really hope they don’t die in the frost. I love the beauty of lilacs.

 

Michi-Centric

Yesterday I went grocery shopping at our local store. I always feel such a delighted sense of freedom that I have the Xterra to use whenever I want. JJ had driven it to work, school, and his girlfriend’s for the last couple years so I had to plan errands around his busy schedule or I had to wait until EJ’s suburban was free. When EJ is home we like to be together so he usually went with me–we enjoy shopping together–but it helps to get shopping done so we can do other things together.

Ziva

As soon as I regained use of the Xterra, I bought a GPS for it. I get lost easily so a GPS is a necessity. EJ has one for his suburban–not because he needs it for directions, but because the speedometer doesn’t work and the GPS displays the speed. We named his GPS VIKI after the murderous computer in the movie I, Robot. I thought and thought about what to name my GPS. If it had a male voice, I would have named it HAL after the murderous computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Actually, I wanted to name it Dave so I could quote, “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” whenever I wanted to ignore the directions. However, EJ said that I had to name it after the computer and not the human. But that’s all a moot point because my GPS’ voice is female. I finally named it Ziva after the Israeli agent in NCIS. The name is interesting and I liked the character in the series. Plus, I don’t think Ziva ever got lost. Last weekend EJ attached Ziva to the dashboard where I wanted it–accessible, but out of the way.

Moomer’s Ice Cream

Anyway, back to grocery shopping. In addition to the regular items on our list, I bought us some Moomer’s Ice Cream, which is made by a small family-owned creamery near Traverse City. I think it’s the best ice cream on the planet. They make 160 heavenly flavors. This time I chose Raspberry White Chocolate for me and Mocha Almond Fudge for EJ. If you ever get to Traverse City, you must try Moomer’s Ice Cream.

Harwood Maple Syrup

EJ has been wanting to get some pure Michigan maple syrup, so I bought us a bottle as another special treat. This maple syrup is made in Charlevoix, a charming town in Northern Michigan. The description on the back of the bottle says: “The Parsons family has been making pure maple syrup on the shores of Harwood Lake since the late 1800’s. Gathering sap from the same sugar maple trees as our ancestors, we’re still making it today after five generations on the Parson’s farm.”

EJ says that I am “Michi-centric” and I agree that I am totally Michi-centric. I was born, raised, and lived all my life in Michigan, as was EJ. I love Michigan’s beauty and uniqueness, and I have no desire to live elsewhere. We lived downstate until 2015 when we moved north. Northern Michigan is where both our hearts have always been. By the way, we bought the sign at the top of this post from Michigan in Metal. They have beautiful metal art, and I always drool when I browse through their site.

Today the US National Weather Service says our chance of rain has risen from 30% to 60% tonight and tomorrow. I really hope we get rain because it is so dry here. Our county and surrounding areas have issued “Red Flag Warnings,” which means there is very high fire danger.

We never really had to worry about forest fires downstate. All of Michigan has trees. I am always surprised when we return to Michigan from out-of-state to see just how many trees we have compared to other states. I usually exclaim, “Dang! Michigan is a forest!” But there is more farmland than forest downstate and worrying about forest fires never really entered my mind. I don’t ever remember any big fires in Michigan like they have out west but it’s more of a concern now that we live in Northern Michigan, which is mostly forest. Some people don’t like Michigan because of all its trees and the clouds. We have many cloudy days because of moisture from the Great Lakes. But I have always, always loved trees, and I think clouds are interesting.

I’ve been cleaning the house today because we are expecting a guest. Every few months, EJ’s long-time friend TH stops by. He lives almost in a straight line across from us on the Lake Huron side of the state. He usually spends the night and then drives down to visit his daughter’s family, who lives in the area we used to live. I know that he probably wouldn’t care–or even notice–if the house is extra clean, but I care and notice. This time he can sleep in JJ’s old bed instead of the couch. I’ve washed the sheets, made sure his bathroom is sparkling, vacuumed, etc. Yesterday I made potato salad to eat with hot dogs. I never know when EJ will get home from work, and since TH will be eating with us, I wanted something to heat up last minute so nothing gets cold or overdone.

I walked Hannah to the mailbox with me, as usual. Apparently she was really enjoying this  beautiful Spring day because she started rolling in the grass. I was able to get a partial video. I had to cut it off at the end because she started racing full speed to the end of her leash. My injured hand is doing really well, but it still doesn’t have the strength it once did so I had to grip her leash with both hands so she wouldn’t get away from me. She is such a delightfully funny dog.

Tomorrow morning I am going to try to wake up early to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. EJ asked, “Why do you want to watch the wedding?” I replied, as I always do, “Because it’s history.” When I was growing up, my parents always took us on vacation to historical places. Mom made us sit in front of the tv to watch things like President Nixon resign “because it’s history.” So I gained a love of history, and I like to watch things that are historic. That way, I can say, “I saw that when it was happening…because it’s history!” I watched Prince William and Kate’s wedding and now I’m determined to watch Harry and Meghan’s wedding. EJ isn’t interested in royal weddings, but he watches them with me so I have someone to share the experience with.

Are any of you going to watch the wedding?

Madeline’s Tactics

Yesterday I felt very unmotivated. I had trouble getting started. I eventually did get a few things done. Today I was more motivated.

Image may contain: fireOur grass is getting long enough to mow. I knew it was going to get hot later–reaching 80 degrees–so I went out early to mow the lawn while it was still blissfully cool. Southern Michigan is getting many days of rain, but our skies here in the North have been sunny and our weather dry. In fact, it’s a bit too dry here. We have very high fire danger.

I got the lawn mower out of the garage, and tried to pull start it. Nothing. I pulled again and again. Nothing. I hissed, “Start, dang it, you stupid piece of crap, or I will take you to the junk yard!” I don’t usually get nasty with machinery (or anyone), but lawn mowers and I have had a very hostile relationship for many years. I can never get them started. I think they deliberately refuse to start just to annoy and frustrate me. I texted EJ and he replied that he usually cleans the spark plug first thing in the Spring. I hope he can do it this weekend. I don’t want to let the grass get too long because, you know, ticks.

Enjoying the beautiful day

Since I couldn’t mow the lawn this morning, I did laundry and hung the clothes to dry on the clothesline. I really enjoy this task. I enjoy the peaceful beauty around me as I hang up the clothes.

We just bought a 100 foot garden hose for the front yard a couple of weeks ago. It reaches to the apple trees, but not the cherry trees across the driveway, so I lugged a few kitty litter buckets of water to them. I didn’t feel like pulling out the hose, so I filled the bucket again and took it to the new apple trees.

I also spent an hour or so organizing EJ’s garage. I don’t know where he wants a lot of the items, so I mostly just bagged stuff that I knew needed to be thrown away. I also moved the section of lockers to where he had said he wanted them. I actually was able to make some good progress.

There was a small vacuum cleaner in the garage. We don’t need it. It actually isn’t adequate for our house of pets–I think we bought it for the RV, which we sold when JJ was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. I put it in the Xterra to donate at Goodwill. I also went to the pantry and dragged out a couple of boxes to donate. We had thought to sell them, but people are selling books for one cent (plus shipping) at Amazon so selling them isn’t worth the effort. We have multiple boxes of books that we no longer want–JJ’s old school books, duplicates, and so forth. We take one or two boxes at a time.

Ohm Rice

By this time, the day had heated up and I was tired, so I took it easy until it was time to fix supper. I made Ohm Rice, which is a simple meal that my Korean sister-in-law taught my family how to make years ago. I brown ground beef, put in grated carrots until they are cooked, then put it on top of rice. I make a simple egg omelet to put on top of the mixture and squirt ketchup on it. EJ puts salsa on his omelet. I used three eggs each (instead of two) for a thicker omelet tonight because we have a surplus of eggs from our chickens. The meal is very yummy.

A few days ago I put chicken fencing around the posts to prevent Miss Madeline Meadows from getting to the birdhouses. At first I put the fencing at the bottom, but I watched her leap above it and climb the post. I shouted her away, and then I loosely fastened the fencing at the top of the post, making it swirl, to prevent her from climbing on or under it. This evening we watched Madeline sit on the big rock and study the new configuration for a minute or two:

Then she walked all the way around the post and stood up to examine it more closely.

Suddenly, she climbed the post, going UNDER the fencing.

When she reached the top and started going for the birdhouse, which I believe has chickadees in it–if she hasn’t scared them off–I ran out and scared her away. Then I tried to reconfigure the fencing to thwart her next attempt. I wired closed the top of the fencing so if she does get underneath it, she won’t be able to go any further. That’s the plan anyway. It wouldn’t surprise me if Madeline figured out how to get past my security measures. She’s very intelligent and kind of scary.

The other day I saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak up near the house! It didn’t stay long and I haven’t seen it since, but it was a treat to see it. This evening Ej and I saw a hummingbird outside the window. We never get tired of the birds.

Before he went to bed, EJ said that he read that there could be “massive northern lights” tonight. I might try to stay up for awhile to see them–if I can stay awake.

 

 

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