Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Showing his red belly

We have a squirrel problem at our house, made worse by the number of birdfeeders the fuzzy marauders have to choose from.

So we have a caged feeder that little birds flit in and out of regularly. The littles were never nervous about it, right from the start.

But the bigger birds don’t fit inside the cage. They have to do with the nearby flat feeder, or whatever seed has fallen to the ground.

Sometimes they get jealous and try to figure out how to get to the seeds in the caged feeder.

And if they have a really long tongue and are especially tenacious…

…they can be successful!

I’m outta here.


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Queen of the Boardwalk

I was out there to meet the Queen. I’d been trying to get an audience with her for several weeks. But she’s a Royal and follows her own rules. I’m used to that.

Anybody out there? Hey Mr. Downy, are you hungry?

You see, almost every day I’d see, on Facebook, a photographer who calls herself the “Hand of Snacks” feeding a female cardinal along the boardwalk at my favorite park.

Well, at least one bird wants a snack!

Lots of birds come down to any number of hands filled with snacks at this park, but cardinals are famously shy. Quite stand-offish. So to see this female sitting in a hand regularly intrigued me. And I drove the 30+ minutes every week or so, hoping to get to meet her Majesty for myself. Oh, I’d see her – sitting in the scrub along the boardwalk. I’d offer a treat. She’d watch me. But she never showed any interest in getting to know me better. Week after week I’d leave disappointed.

They almost always go for the peanuts first.

This Wednesday, there she was, sitting among the twigs of a dogwood bush with her partner, the bright red Mr. Cardinal. And that morning she seemed interested in me. She moved out to the end of the branch and eyed me up and down. I stood still, gifts offered. She flew to the railing, quite a far bit away from me and eyed me some more.

She’s not too sure about this.

Clearly I was not her Hand of Snacks. I was an imposter. But she was hungry. But I was an imposter. Could she trust me? Would she trust me? She hopped along the railing to get a closer look. She looked up at me and then down at the snacks in my hand. I stood still, barely breathing.

Come on sweetie, it will be OK.

And then she reached out, her feet still firmly planted on the railing, she wasn’t going to actually stand on my hand, and grabbed an oiler seed, moving rapidly away from me to eat it. I stood still.

You have options, pick your favorite!

She hopped over again and helped herself to another treat, not moving so far away this time…and then she grabbed a peanut and with a slight nod to me, she flew back into the bushes to share it with her partner.

You’re such a good Queen, taking your partner the best peanut.

And the politely waiting chickadee hopped up onto my hand to see what she had left behind.

She’s off to share. Mr. Chickadee is waiting in line.

Now I can say I’ve met the Queen. And it was everything I knew it would be.

I’m glad she left him some of the good stuff.


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Random, possibly Christmas-y, bits of thought

Anyway, I was reading Quaint Revival’s latest post about all the snow she’s getting over in Wisconsin, and she said it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas…which led her into thoughts about how those lyrics happened to be written and a request for someone to find out for her. Which, being a want-to-be librarian I felt compelled to do.

I think Santa is on some sort of exercise program.

She thought maybe the lyrics were written by Meredith Wilson in 1951 as he sat beside a pool, hopefully under warm skies. But Wikipedia says it probably was written in Yarmouth, and when I google that I can only find Yarmouth Maine, or Yarmouth British Columbia, neither of which sounds very warm, even in midsummer!

Looking for her Christmas gift. Or a peanut, whichever’s available.

But looking for this information did remind me that we played this very piece of holiday music at our recent concert, so I went to listen to it again. Well, actually, I went and listened to it for the first time. Music sounds very different when you’re sitting in the middle of the band than it does when sitting in the audience, and I haven’t taken time to listen to our concert until now. (I recommend listening to this with a good set of earphones…it sounds a LOT better with earbuds than just using your laptop speakers.)

Holiday music always makes things better.

Last Sunday I had a couple friends come for lunch and painting. Well, truthfully, they brought most of the lunch (roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches) and most of their own painting supplies too. After we ate the yummy lunch we settled in to paint Christmas cards. It was so much fun to experiment together. Plus it increased my stock of cards waiting to be mailed out to unsuspecting friends and family. I should do this on a larger scale next year!

Seems like birds infiltrate all aspects of my life.

We have a little bit of snow, enough to make things look pretty, but not enough to interfere with driving. Not that I’m driving much. One of the benefits of retirement is not having to go out unless I want to. When it’s cold and snowing I rarely want to. And though I miss my Katie-girl soooo much, I am kind of glad to roll over in bed and go back to sleep in the dark early hours of these winter mornings.

“I used to put up with an awful lot, mama.”

Speaking of not traveling, we’re staying home this Christmas. We have had invites to holiday gatherings, but this year we just can’t quite make ourselves wander out. Twenty Twenty-two has been a long, hard year for us. Instead of going out this year I’ll fix some of the family mealtime favorites, and we’ll snuggle up on the couch to enjoy the quiet.

I look forward to seeing these guys every year.

Though it might not be entirely quiet. We’re going to have a houseguest for awhile, a little 10 year old doggie will be staying with us while his mom is visiting family out of town. We’ve practiced him being here without his mom a couple of times and I think he’s going to settle in, but he sure does love his mom.

“Does this peanut make my head look flat?”

I saw a movie trailer this morning for something staring Tom Hanks. There was a year, a long time ago, when my husband and I watched several movies, unusual for us, realizing later that all of them were Tom Hanks movies. You know, Castaway, Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan. This movie is called something like A Man called Otis. While I was watching the trailer something felt familiar…and then I remembered one of my favorite books, A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, about an elderly man who’s quiet life is interrupted by a family that moves in next door. I think the movie is based on this book, and I think I really need to go see it. Maybe during the Christmas holiday week, as a gift from me to me.

Sometimes Christmas feels like this.

I did get out to feed the birds at Kensington this morning. A lot of the photos in this post are from that visit. I didn’t look at the weather, or even the temperature before I left home when it was still dark. By the time I got to the park the wind was blowing the snow sideways. Not surprisingly no one else was around.

“I don’t eat out of hands, lady. But if you’ve got a spare peanut I’d enjoy it.”

I went out to the boardwalk to see if I could entice the Queen to my hand, but she wasn’t having any of it. In fact none of the birds were willing to get too close, though they were happy enough to come to the railing if I’d leave my treats and back off.

“Not today, lady, not today.”

I wandered in the woods a little, to get out of the wind, and even there things were very quiet. And then I stood still and waited.

“My turn!” “NO IT’S NOT! It’s MY turn!”

And soon enough I heard the flutter of wings and saw, through the trees, the fast moving little bodies of hungry birds. So fun. Even though my hands were freezing and my toes were freezing I stood around out there for a long time.

“Hey Lady! I’m waiting patiently over here!”

I stood there just smiling and watching them, all puffed up against the cold.

“Puffing up helps you keep warm lady, you should try it.”

Merry Christmas to my little birds, and to all of you too. May you all enjoy this holiday season, in whatever way seems right for you this year.

And here’s hoping 2023 is amazing.


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Surprise!

I was standing in my breakfast room, taking a picture of this red bellied woodpecker….

A modern art image, showing off his red belly.

….when this guy showed up. He’s a male evening grosbeak.

The yellow eyebrows helped me identify our visitor.

According to my Michigan bird book they aren’t supposed to be around here. They live in the northern lower peninsula and the UP of Michigan. But last winter at one of our local bird seed shops there was talk that people around here had seen them.

Such a striking bird, he was hungry and happy that there was seed on the railing.

I’ve only seen one, last winter, just one, and just one visit. But today our initial visitor came back later in the day along with some of his friends!

He brought a friend to the buffet!

First I saw two of them on the railing. And then I realized there were three, then four males, on the railing, in the trees…

A evening grosbeak party at the feeder!

…and on the feeder. Plus one of the birds on the feeder was a female! (over on the left above)

Num, num, num…

It was so cool. I’m thrilled that I got to see them, and even more thrilled that I got some shots.

I’ve been smiling all day.


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Veterans Day

I live in a place I might not easily fit into if I were to freely expressive my political leanings. So mostly I don’t.

Some election cycles I am more obvious in my support, but this year we were redistricted, and we lost the Congressional Representative for whom we had actively campaigned. She moved on to the newly formed District 7 that encompassed most of her previous district, but doesn’t include us.

I feel sad that we need to start over educating a new Representative. I don’t have huge hopes that she will listen to our issues, but I recognize that I’m making an assumption, and that makes me just like everyone else who jumps to political conclusions without research or data.

So, in the New Year, I will make an appointment to meet with her staff and introduce myself and the Truck Safety Coalition. I’m pretty sure she has not heard of us; I’ll do my best to give a good first impression.

But what bothers me the most during this Veterans Day weekend is that though our veterans fought to keep us free to speak about ideas important to us, it no longer feels safe to talk about issues at all. They didn’t fight so that only Republicans or only Democrats could express their views, yet where I live, and where many of us live, it feels unsafe to be different.

We used to be able to discuss our differences without being called unpatriotic. Without being accused of not supporting the Constitution. I’m certain most people in this country support the Constitution, regardless of political affiliation. I don’t think being patriotic is a trait found only in one party or the other.

I bet there are households on both sides of the aisle who proudly flew our flag in my neighborhood this week, who love our country unconditionally. Who have served to keep it free.

And I’m pretty sure there are both Democrats and Republicans and even some Independents buried in our National Cemeteries. They sacrificed so we could all speak.

It’s about time we all learned how to listen too.


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You’ve seen it all before

I had a chance visit my favorite park this week, a late afternoon decision.

You’ve seen images like this before. I’ve taken hundreds of images just like these.

But of course I took the camera.

And of course there were birds — that was the point, is almost always the point when I walk these trails.

And luckily the birds were hungry.

Very, very hungry.

And of course we had a very good time. Because, really, how could we not?

I think the birds had a good time too.

For the most part anyway.

So I’m hoping you don’t mind seeing images like this again. Because I never tire of taking them.


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A little bit of everything

Here in Michigan you can expect a little bit of everything with October’s weather. Kind of like an everything bagel.

I know I say it every year, but this year the autumn colors were spectacular. Truly amazing.

And we had lots of sun.

And some snow.

Then more sun.

And a bit of snow. And rain.

It was warmer than normal.

And then really cold.

But the days when the sun shown and the wind died down were truly delightful.

I don’t think we can expect November to be nearly as entertaining.

Gosh, that everything bagel sounds pretty good right about now. Toasted. With cream cheese please.