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Feeder upgrade – bluebird approved

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We picked up another arm for our bird feeder yesterday, so that we could hang the large cake feeder without having raccoons make off with it, and we also added another little platform feeder that holds a round cake as well as having space for mealworms, etc. As I was hanging the new stuff this morning I could hear the birds twittering excitedly in the trees, and before I even made it back in the house the feeders were swarmed. We’ve had a steady influx of bluebirds, woodpeckers, wrens, titmice, chickadees, house finches, nuthatches and cardinals all day long. Most of them are ‘camera shy but this beautiful pair of bluebirds did let me take their picture.

Sunbeam

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Stink bug is my copilot

Nothing like a large noisy bug suddenly emerging from an unknown hiding spot and whizzing around your head when you’re doing 70mph down I-75*.

*The photo was taken later at a rest stop, not while I was driving.

It was dark when I got home so as far as I know, he’s still in the van somewhere. I think he stowed away at my last stop up near the the Tennessee/Kentucky border. Welcome to North Carolina, Mr. Stink Bug.

Update: The stink bug has now been evicted from my car and was last seen flying off over south Asheville. In the course of this, I also learned why they are called stink bugs. Apparently I tossed my coat on him at some point and scared him/pissed him off. As a result, my van now smells like skunk. The coat did too, until I washed it with about a quart of vinegar in the laundry water.  I’m hoping the van smell will dissipate on its own…

Facilities are out of service

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You don’t mind brushing your teeth in the bathtub, do you?

Facing a brand-new year, head-on

The holiday leftovers have all been eaten, the cards taken down, and I think there’s maybe half a glass of eggnog left in the fridge. The cats have scattered their Christmas toys under various large pieces of furniture and Gwen’s are already quite well-chewed. Winter Solstice brought us the promise of the days beginning to lengthen again, with Christmas came time spent with reconnecting with friends and family (some in person, others maybe only by phone or online) and then 2011 wound itself down to an end.  And now here we are, in a brand new year again.

Last night we got a half inch of snow followed by a day of bitter cold, but I can’t complain as we’d been hammered with three heavy snows by this time last year and it’s been very mild. Perhaps winter will go easy on us this year. On New Year’s Day we had breakfast of homemade breakfast ‘sausage’ Joy made and eggnog pancakes I contributed, then relaxed for a few hours reading in front of the fire with all seven critters sprawled out around us. Then we went hiking with Gwen in the DuPont State Forest – it was brilliantly sunny and very warm for this time of year, a beautiful day for a hike. After we returned, we had another nice home cooked meal and a movie from Netflix. It was a relaxing and restorative holiday weekend and I hope it sets a good precedent for 2012.

Last year saw a lot of change and turmoil in the world around us, and it seems likely that pattern will continue… especially when you add in this being an election year here in the US (and the coming onslaught of nonsense that is going to bring), the ongoing recession, and all the Mayan calendar silliness. If there is actually some sort of ‘change of consciousness’ happening, maybe it’s that people are beginning to wake up on a mass scale, and really see what is going on around them. It needs to happen, the world is facing so many challenges and I’m hoping that all the protests and unrest are the first stage of people learning to work together and solve some of these problems.

On a more personal level, in 2011 we had a few changes around here. We added an unexpected family member… everyone has been too tactful to point out the ‘foster fail’, but guess we need to come clean, especially since our foster kitten, Ishi, is over a year old now! Equally unexpectedly, but with much regret, we also lost one this year. What happened with Paddy is still a sore spot… we never saw that coming and it still hurts.

Cricket made it through another year, for which we are grateful, though both she and Olive have gotten so old and frail… I’m not sure either of them has another Christmas in them, all we can do is make them as comfortable and happy as we can, and enjoy the time we have left with them. Time seems to flow faster with each passing year… I look at Simon, who is ten, and wonder where that black kitten disappeared to? Winter is six now and even Calvin is already all grown up, though still prone to flying through the air like superman. Gwen and Ishi, at 15 months, are still the ‘babies’ of the family, but not really babies anymore. I look in the mirror and see the inevitable passage of time etched in lines on my face , and glistening in the ‘few white hairs’ that are becoming a white streak…and as I stare at my reflection, I ask myself the important question, “is there ‘enough’ grey mixed in with the dark brown yet?” You know, so that I can dye my hair some outlandish shade of purple and actually be able to see the purple? Almost, I think. Maybe next year. 🙂

I thought that the above picture of Ishi that I’d been playing with in Photoshop, seeming to look out the window pensively (actually she was watching our new neighbor working in his garage) was a good image to start the year with. From this angle, you can’t even see that she singed off half her eyebrows last night sniffing a candle. Come to think of it, maybe that’s an even better metaphor to live by for 2012 – having the initiative to explore new experiences in the coming year, face them head on.

Even if you lose a few eyebrows in the process.