Thursday, May 29, 2008

I think I'll invite the birds for dinner again

I think it’s time to scrub the bird feeders and reopen the restaurant. It’s been over two weeks since I hung the “closed” sign.

It's quiet. Peaceful. The horrible, screaming mobs left abruptly when the food supply disappeared.



They’re lovely but I’m missing the variety. I left a small niger seed feeder for the Goldfinches. The birds who stop by regularly are Cardinals, Mockingbirds, House Finches, and Mourning Doves. Starlings and Grackles fly by but don’t stop anymore and the pigeons and Cowbirds have relocated, too. The House Sparrows will return, I’ll bet! With their little brats, too!


I must mention the little Brown-headed Nuthatches that inspect every empty feeder, every evening. They aren’t too disappointed, but I am. I apologize, "Sorry, honey."


We have an abundance of Robins this year. I’ve admired these birds since I was a child.


I’m so impressed with the strength of her nesting cup where I felt three eggs. When the babies fledge, I hope my dogs are inside sleeping on the sofa.

I long to see Chipping and Song Sparrows, Brown Thrashers, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, and Tufted Titmice return. I’ll try again. A trial. It's an exciting time of year to watch little clumsy fledglings find their way to the buffet.


Hummingbirds are getting busy, at last. I’m never ready to photograph them. Instead, I smile when they hover near my face and get spooked so easily. My last hummingbird summer was wonderful. I’ve recently heard chittering and saw a few confrontations at the feeders, so I’m hoping for another good year but I feel this summer will be different.

A little bird time at work helps…


Our new wildlife habitat solar bath. I would have opted for a real spa but getting electric to it would take mounds of paperwork and a few years. Electricity isn't in the budget anyway. The Federal grant? A joke.


Bluebird babies on May 27. I don’t think I’ll open the box again! Oh, maybe one more time, very carefully.


This nesting box worries me. It's a bad photo, I know. During my checks this week, I have found this bird in the same position. No movement, but I’m almost certain it’s alive.

Visits to the special Black Willow at the grocery store pond are always uplifting,



even when the Belted Kingfisher sees me from a quarter of a mile away and darts in another direction, EVERY TIME.

Oh, I'm so tired and bored with this post. I can't even think of a decent title for it. I need to put my head down for a while. Sigh...


By the way, it's awful to have your three-day vacation snatched away from you on the eve of its start. Last night I received the news that Michael’s weekend business golf outing in South Carolina was cancelled. It was heartbreaking for me to watch him unpack…because…my vacation is a bust! I had planned it perfectly for doing “Mary” things…popcorn and yogurt for dinner, shopping whenever I please, listening to my music loudly - all day if I want to - and cleaning bathrooms at 10pm on a whim. Does anyone understand this? I’m really not a selfish person…but let’s say, “I like my space” a few times a year. Oh well, I’ll look forward to his next fun golf outing and he will, too :o)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

When sitting is a pain in the arse


and you are walking bent over a bit, waddling like a toddler, and look like you might be wearing a loaded diaper under your nice dressy pants, life sucks. It’s the lower back pain again for the second time in a year – a very old injury that seems to be coming back to torture me more often than before. A recurring storm.

Since May 4, I've been standing or lying flat. Sitting is uncomfortable but getting out of a chair made me call out, “ow-ow-ow!”, and I have a high tolerance for pain! Good news: as of this past weekend, I’m better and walk like a pain-free person.

Having a desk job isn’t cool when sitting is a problem, so I cut my work days two or three hours short to go home and stand and walk around and walk around and stand. During standing and walking around, I managed to publish a few posts in tiny increments that stretched over an entire evening. Took a lot of miserable photos, too, but here are a few that are not so bad.


I don’t know the name of this common evergreen shrub. Its perfume knocks me out when I step outside and I hate it. Honey Bees love it, as there are always hundreds or thousands of them swarming on its nectar.

It’s my fault that I suffered with the bad back for so many days, for a few reasons.



The pond is growing top speed right now.

One reason is that I have an aversion to taking medication, even ordinary Ibuprofen.


A stop at the pond on the way home from work one day was sweet. I saw a pair of Green Herons (lifer). They were an interesting pair who didn’t sit for long.

Instead of taking medicine, I’m always inclined to work through the pain. Just do it. Work it out. I thought planting a red maple sapling and a few pink Lavenders one evening might help. Big Mistake. Then I started taking the Ibuprofen several times a day out of desperation.

Another reason I suffer is because I avoid exercise. Frankly, I’m tired of blaming my hardware-filled left ankle for not taking brisk walks with my Discman like I used to. Then, I was strong, at least ten pounds lighter, and happier when I walked three fifteen-minute miles every day. Now, twenty minutes of walking to start would be enough but I whine about being too tired, too busy, too hot, too cold, and it’s raining…WaaaWaaaWaaa!

I have a new IPOD Shuffle in the bottom drawer of my nightstand but I have no clue how to use it. Gina? Help me load my Janet’s Design of a Decade and Robert Palmer’s Mercy Me? (Good walking tempos when I need the beat.) My hamstrings and quadriceps shrunk. I know they’re there but I can’t see them.

There were a few times when I completely forgot about my back pain.


I saw a little Green Tree Frog. Can I wake you?

Its cool, sticky, little body relaxed and molded itself into my hand.

Kind of like Bella, who melts into me.

Much better.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

For Mom


She loved the fragrance of Magnolia trees in bloom. She didn’t have Magnolias in the city but I remember her stories of growing up on a farm with them, taller and wider than her two-story house.

It’s been two years today since she left us. I vividly remember her voice, still. It’s strange how I need to glance at her photo now and then to remember her face that well.


Young Mary “Helen”

Living in the city since she turned eighteen, she was always a farm girl at heart. Now I wish we all appreciated her stories while she was alive…the horse that exploded from over-indulging in the feed (eyes wide, we wondered, “exploded?!?”), nasty geese, slopping the hogs, snakes in the fireplace, her thirty-six cats, handling a shotgun well, and working the farm with her four brothers and sisters before and after school, everyday, without a holiday. Times were hard in the 30s and 40s. We were never exposed to such a life, so it was difficult to imagine what it must have been like to work and live on a farm, as we were surrounded by asphalt and concrete, a few patches of grass, and inhaled transit bus fumes instead of Magnolia blossoms. Oh, she tried hard to open our minds and share her past with us. What she never knew was that I remember everything she said.

Mom watched birds and knew what bird what show up in the maple out back at four in the afternoon. We watched Blue Jays often and once she told me a story about Bluebirds on the farm, describing how beautiful they were in a freshly plowed field before the sun set. I was in my forties before I saw one.

I can’t count the number of times she harped on me during my adulthood, “You need to find a way to relax, do something for yourself, find a hobby, and use your creative side.” She was an avid reader and writer.

Regret!!! I’m too darned late - bitten by the photography/blog bug six months after she was gone and I could kick myself.

She would have loved it here at Mary’s View, so this series of photos is dedicated to her today…

The Bluebirds eat mealworms out of one of my Corelle salad bowls.



How many mealworms can a Bluebird hold?



Mom liked Zinnias. Now I'm off to plant some Zinnias I bought today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Do you know a Majorette?

I’ve published many ridiculous posts before – ones that made me hesitate and wonder if they were post-worthy or if readers might put me on their “fruitcake blogger” list... This is one of them and takes the prize, in my opinion. It has nothing to do with nature, but hey, it’s my blog and I have options.

If you don't know a majorette, now you do. I was a young majorette for one summer. What made me think about those days in the mid-sixties was a post I read by Laura, “What’s not to like about parades?” Parades are fun, especially if you are watching one…


When you think of a majorette, might it be the cheerleader type? Athletic enough for high stepping and baton twirling? I do.


They’re glamorous and love competition suits with glitter, even back in the 60's. Most of them are beautiful young ladies.


Troupes are dedicated to performing and training for many years that sometimes takes them through college.


The NC Tarheels marching band and majorettes. Wow. Marching bands always thrill me. Oh, I just love parades.

Back to 1966 in a southwest Baltimore low-income neighborhood called Lakeland. Other than Girl Scouts, I don't recall organized sports for girls. My friend Debbie and I were thrilled to get a flyer in our mailboxes about majorette training. We joined and practiced with a group of twenty or thirty girls for several months before parade season started. I still remember being measured for my own “real” baton.


I’m the chubby one on the left with chipmunk teeth before braces. Debbie was thin as a rail and never marched in unison. She just couldn’t do it. Our outfits were homemade and I remember thinking how dull we looked. We saw other troupes that had glitter on theirs and some of them didn’t wear Clydesdale boots, instead they wore white Keds and boy, were they talented! We didn’t care too much because we were twirling and learned our routines to perfection until we were on parade in front of the judges' stand, of course.


Debbie is in front of me in the rear. Always out of step. Those heavy headpieces with the plumes were usually lopsided on our heads and the boots were lined with sandpaper. While some other troupes had a live band, we had a speaker sound system that played traditional marching music, before eight-tracks and cassettes. The records skipped and so did we! We were professional baton droppers. Being in the rear of the troupe, I saw the girls running around and scrambling to retrieve their batons quickly to get back in rhythm.


Debbie's out of step again. July 4th was a big weekend, usually sizzling hot, and I remember marching in a thunderstorm and being told to hold the baton by the rubber tip away from our bodies. We weren’t offered sliced oranges or water, either. Just kept hauling ourselves to the finish… Our parents proud and cheering us on…

What did I get from the experience? A few good memories and lots of laughs right now. It’s funny, I remember Debbie, of course, but I don’t remember the leaders or trainers at all. Nor do I remember forming any lasting friendships. The “Lakelandettes” lived for one summer and then, without good-byes, we went our separate ways.



After the family dogs ate the rubber tips off my baton, I ordered a new one from a high school band catalog about ten years ago.

I still twirl. I love it ;-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bird Fix


With few birds to admire in my backyard for a week, I found a few bundles of joy today – baby Bluebirds, four of them, I think, on campus where I work. This is my first look at baby Bluebirds. I wish I were just two inches taller to get a better look and an accurate count! Sometimes I loathe being a shorty.

I should have been inside the windowless office taking care of my business and working as diligently as the Bluebirds do. They aren’t slackers. Even though I kept my distance, mother Bluebird was wary and waited on a post for a while before delivering her meal. Father Bluebird was bold and made his delivery without hesitation.

Only a ten minute outing, or maybe fifteen or thirty - I didn't worry about getting back to work all that much!








There are over 1,000 mealworms getting fat in my garage. I thought the Bluebirds might like them so I made a delivery this morning.

Bonus photos:

Enjoy a sample of a Boston Terrier’s facial expressions, ranging from a quiet, invitational bark to an out-of-control triple combo outburst – ROOO!, Yawn, Whine! Concentrate on the face.




Everyone should have a BT and Bluebirds. Agree?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

VERY Good Dogs

Before I highlight good dogs, I want to reflect on empty feeders. After five days, I see a few Goldfinches and House Finches on the niger seed. Cardinals hang out…waiting. Broods of House Sparrows stop by, as well as Starlings and Grackles, infrequently. And always, the Northern Mockingbird. It’s peaceful but lonely out there and, for me, it's painful to visit. Only a few hummingbird sightings make me smile but my camera isn’t with me lately. I’m looking forward to better times in a few weeks!


I concentrate on the self-reliant birds. There’s an abundance of American Robins here this year.

Everyone has heard of dogs graduating from Obedience School. Don’t be fooled! Dogs don’t graduate. Their owners graduate and deserve the diploma. Congratulations to my daughter Gina, and Billy, for good dog training. My granddogs have certificates displayed on their refrigerator!


Mr. Biggins retreats to his “place” on command,


and Bammy, a.k.a. Bamma-Lamma-Ding-Dong, obeys also.

They “stay” on their place until they hear “free”. They needed to hear a strong, consistent voice at home. That’s all.

They don’t have vicious fights anymore. They're two males who like each other and have learned who rules – neither of them.

No more sleeping in the adult bed, no more jumping on sofas, and everything’s OK.

They “come” when called, and “down stay” and “heal” during walks. They’re wonderful boys who happily accepted an invitation to Gramma’s for a cookout yesterday.


Bammy paces through the house and uses his bottom ledge of teeth to open Gramma’s pantry. He’ll stand there for hours unless we call him.


If he isn’t in the pantry, we’ll find him opening the outside toybox :o)


Gramma, throw me a turkey leg or a squeaky ball, please?

Mr. Biggins spends most of his time with his best girlfriend, Bel-Bel. Mr. Biggins and Miss Little – no matter. Bella rules.

Mr. Biggins. What a handsome man-dog, who still squats like a girl.


More good news about good dogs:

We’ve been negligent dog trainers for too long. The Licker Sisters could benefit by obedience training. It might not be too late.

Nearing her 12th birthday, Chloe, the girl with an attitude, allowed a nail trimming without a fight or sedatives yesterday. Oh, she growled and made ugly faces during her pedicure but she was GOOD. I wish I had my camera at the vet’s office to photograph Michael’s smiling face when he saw her being a GOOD patient. We’re so proud of her!


I was g-g-good, too. Take MY picture?

Bella is always good at the vet. Our sweet one.

Upon awakening this morning, I made my usual visit to the front porch and thought I saw at least four Eastern Bluebirds exit a Crepe Myrtle a few feet away… No, I must being seeing things, I thought.

A few minutes later, I saw a bright male Eastern Bluebird on one of my feeders, looking damned beautiful in the rising sun. Did I nearly stumble and fall on the way to the garage for a cup of worms? Yes.


A few minutes after I served worms, I found a female on a lonely maple located beyond the back fence.

I had to leave the house for a few hours and I’m sure they didn’t find the worms before the Mockingbirds cleaned the cup.