Friday, May 27, 2016

Okay, here's the red streak down its back. 
It's just possible that I'm obsessing on this squirrel.  But but after all, the blog is supposed to be about Being Old.  And when you're old, you have to take excitement where you can find it. 

Still Obsessing

Comparisons

Just now an ordinary grey squirrel paused on the exact spot the little mystery guy likes.  So maybe the grey squirrel is only twice as big as the one that gets in to eat from the bird feeders. 
 At any rate, I don't buy the suggestion that it's a juvenile.  Two reasons -- because the grey squirrels run from it,  and because what's with that red streak up its back (which you can't see very well here) and what about that white eye ring?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sorry, but it sounds funny.

My son the ornithologist tells me that next July he'll be in Washington attending the biggest ever meeting of bird scientists, so I looked it up: the American Ornithologists’ Union plus the Association of Field Ornithologists, BirdsCaribbean, CIPAMEX, Cooper Ornithological Society, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Society of Canadian Ornithologists, Sociedad de Ornitolog√≠a Neotropical, and the Wilson Ornithological Society.
 
But when I told him about a group I recently joined, the Hearing Loss Association of America, he just laughed.  One might even say he sniggered.  "Sorry, but it just sounds funny."  And then when I mentioned the organization at the seniors luncheon last week, the woman next to me giggled.  "Sorry, but it just sounds funny." 
Come on -- what else would you call it?  There are a lot more of us than there are bird people.  What's more, as it happens, we're
also having a convention, also in Washington, also this summer (not me of course; I no longer travel.)  And we're also joining with another organization.   I hesitate to translate the IFHOH.  It has its headquarters in Stockholm, that's impressive, right?  So are you ready?...no giggling now...  it's the INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF HARD OF HEARING PEOPLE.
(My other son, the writer, would probably correct "people" to "persons".)
                         No particular reason for these two birds; I just came across the picture and felt they'd dress up this post.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Squirrel Update

Got a nice note today from a friend --it's refreshing to hear from someone of a decent age who reads blogs -- who says when she moved to a senior residence she took along a couple of her bird feeders.  Aha!  At another place where I once inquired, I was told "No, because they attract rats." Come on -- I've had deer, squirrels, just once a mouse -- but never, in all these years, any rats.
       What's more, her place, like most of the other local "residences",  has a pond.  I suspect those have something to do with sewer codes rather than landscaping, but she can watch a heron from her windows.  It's enough to make one re-think the whole question of Moving Somewhere and Taking Things Easy.  Things are, to be honest, Getting a Bit Harder. 
        Meanwhile -- today I learned two more things about that little odd squirrel who gets into the feeders.  Wish I could show you but the encounter went too quickly to get a video.  One of the normal grey squirrels showed up, and I got a chance to compare them.  This new little guy is less than half as large -- maybe one-third the size of what I think of as regular squirrels.  And the second thing -- the little one turned around and lunged at that grey squirrel, which  scurried off at top speed.  All of this is so absorbing I've stopped resenting the lost peanuts and birdseed.  This one is, after all, just trying to make a living, and it doesn't eat all that much.
      That brown streak goes from the tail all the way up its back. It's maybe twice the size of a chipmunk -- but you wouldn't call it a chipmunk, right?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Got a Mug Shot!

Aha!  That's why this squirrel can get into the squirrel-proof bird feeders -- it's only half the size of the grey squirrels around here.  And then there's that chestnut streak down its back -- are any of you squirrel specialists?  Can anyone tell me if this is something worth writing to Cornell about?
(A few years ago I found a strange bug on the bathtub, sent a picture to Cornell and was told I'd made the first report from Monroe County of the invading Stink Bug.) 
                  Citizen-scientist!

So do squirrels ever mate with chipmunks?  I guess not, but that's sort of the size of this free-loader.  Any information appreciated.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Impressionist Backyard

Yes, the lawn is full of dandelions.  No, I'm not going to do anything about it.  (Pictures taken through window;  I can't walk on grass any more.)  I don't want chemicals, and when  the crew descends with those big riding mowers, they probably bring seeds from other people's yards anyhow.
The veronica is a lovely light blue, more vivid than it appears in this picture.  There's even some little pink stuff,  and I tell myself the  effect is sort of Monet's Giverny.
 I won't feel this complacent, of course, when those dandelions start seeding out into puffballs -- there's the first one, just starting, over on the right side now.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Non- Mothers' Day Report

This year I didn't even have to tell the kids they should ignore Mothers' Day.  I resent the idea that people must hop to just because Hallmark wants them to get sentimental (AT&T doesn't care any more), and I figure the family knows that by now.  They also know I don't want more stuff.  Just as strong as the young nest-building urge to accumulate, is today's urge to Get Rid of Stuff.
So:
* Saturday the mail brought a gift card to -- McDonald's!  Who knew McDonald's had gift cards?  In case you're curious -- here's what mine looks like.
* Sunday it just so happened that everybody phoned or skyped, and I'm pleased to report no one even mentioned Mothers' Day!
* Monday the florist was at the door.  Our local Lilac Festival is in full swing, but the lilacs aren't really open yet, so these were particularly welcome.

Note -- no gifts on M__ D__!  
And all satisfactorially evanescent. 
I do have a fine family.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Squirrel-Proof and Other Myths

Back in the days when that willow was healthy.
Seems as if there was some line in an old movie about feeding nuts to the squirrels, or maybe it was squirrels to the nuts.  I was never in favor of the idea.  Woodpeckers, of course -- they're such fun it's worth the expense and trouble to attract them with peanuts. 
Now it's all but dead.
For years I have relied on this squirrel-proof feeder, paying $5 a pound for nuts at the Bird Store -- till Norm pointed out that the same unsalted ones sell in the supermarket for $4.  
So who woulda thunk it, after all this time?  I just came out and sat down at the desk to find a furry bandit munching away in there.  This is not all that good a picture, because as I reached for the camera it bolted -- we were, when you come right down to it, only about four feet apart.  It had no trouble zipping right out.

I am reminded of a really fancy expensive squirrel-proof feeder Norm invested in some years ago.  It had a motor that required detaching for re-charging -- that was all his department and I never paid attention to the details -- but when a squirrel approached the perches, it whirled the animal off, affording great hilarity for the watchers. 
Except that we had one squirrel who learned how to out-wit it, hanging upside-down by his hind legs and pulling out seed without touching the perches.  The thing was so expensive (I see they're asking $159 for it today) that I called the Bird Store, which suggested I complain direct to the Droll Yankees factory. When I reached the main office of Droll Yankees, I told the woman on the other end I'd like to send her a video of our squirrel out-witting their motor.  And she said -- in a "you fool!" tone --
"Well, of course you're supposed to hang it where the squirrels can't reach."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

That Lovely Time of Year

Almost the first question They ask us old folks when judging whether we're compos mentis is "What year is this?" and frankly, sometimes it's hard to remember.  There was, after all, a time when 1984 stood for the far future, and it still feels weird to write 2016 on a check.  As for what day of the month is it -- I've taken to marking the calendar -- only catch of course is that one has to remember to mark off the corner each morning. 
Which I didn't. 
So it was a total surprise to reach for the morning paper today and find a May Basket on the front door.  It must have been the spirit of my sister, like me a transplanted New Englander -- but she died twenty years ago...