This female house finch has just had a bath and is now looking for a snack on my brussels sprouts plants.
These tasty sprouts are still so small,
That’s not much food for me at all,
To peck them isn’t worth the work,
I’ll have to find some other perk.
So many pairs of pears I see,
Too many hanging in one tree,
Too big for tiny little finches,
I’d get fat and put on inches.
The sunflower seeds will soon be ripe
And then I’ll have no cause to gripe,
They are my favourite snacking food,
To nibble them improves my mood.
See those messy leaves on the grass? Lincoln is to blame for that. He’s been carousing around in the filbert trees, stealing the nuts, just like he did last year. He doesn’t care if the leaves fall because some of the nuts do too.
He’s up in the tree, but thinks no one knows. I see him though, where the nine would be, if you imagined a clock on this picture. See him?
Here’s a blurry close up, but he’s in there.
He’s been bringing the filberts over to the woodshed and stashing them under those long landscape ties stacked up at the left of the shed. Later, he brings them out one by one and peels the husks, sometimes hiding just below where those three floats are hanging.
That’s a lot of peeling, Lincoln.
“You’re telling me!” he says with his mouth full.
But look,” he says. “Look how pretty they are once they’re peeled. Ready for the table some cold winter evening.”
“Now, to find a place to hide them until I need them. Nice of them to leave the ladder for me, but I can climb trees without them. And anyway, I’m looking for someplace on the ground to bury them. Oh! I see a place right at the bottom of this stump.”
“Nice soft dirt for digging. Close to the woodshed. And I won’t forget where they are because the stump is there.”
“Wanna see me do the Super Dig? Watch this short video, starring yours truly, Lincoln. I’m better with music, but the crickets are doing their best to accompany my digging dance. So when the winter weather comes, I’ll know where to get a snack. Then I’ll take a filbert or two to my cozy bed deep in the wood shed and sit back with my Kindle and read some of Anneli’s novels. You can check them out by clicking on their covers at the side of the page, or by going to her website.”
Lincoln was minding his own business when he thought he heard a soft, croaky voice calling, “Eh?”
“Who’s that talking to me?” Lincoln asked. “Oh, NO! It’s Tony the Terrible. I don’t mind sharing a bit of the food but he’s so messy!”
“Who’re you calling messy? It was like this when I arrived.”
“Now, let’s see … is that a good one or another empty hull…?”
“Found one, but what’s the taste going to be like?”
“Meh! Just as I feared. These ones that are lying around are getting a bit stale. So much for cleaning up.”
“Tony, I swear, if you mess up my lunch, I – I – I – …. Well, just don’t make me come down there, or it’s Ta-ta, Tony!”
“Oops! I think lunch is over. I’m going to get a quick ‘Take-out’ and skedaddle. I don’t think Lincoln cares about social distancing and I don’t like him when he gets mad.”
“How do you like that? He’s cleaned me out! No wonder they call him Tony the Terrible.”
“Guess I’ll just have to go harvest some more fir cones. But what a lot of work!”
It was a glorious morning, very early.
“Caw! Caw! Caw!” came the ugly croaking call of a crow, summoning his cohorts to make a try for the breakfast that was about to happen when Robbie, Ryan, Ross, and Roberta left their robin’s nest.
I picked up some pebbles from the yard, grabbed the slingshot and went looking for the murderers who threatened to skewer the baby robins with their sharp beaks, much like hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.
As I walked down the path in front of my house, the crows flew away, and I stood a moment to admire the view.
I took a few breaths of fresh sea air and turned to go back home. Just then, something burst out of the two-foot-high St. John’s wort shrubbery at the side of the road. It flew up onto a fence rail about ten feet away and stared down at me.
It stared and stared and stared, for maybe 30 seconds, and then it flew up into a nearby fir tree.
I hurried into the house and traded the slingshot for a camera.
It was much farther away now, and I had to zoom the camera. It’s a bit fuzzy, but I was still thrilled to get any kind of a picture of this great horned owl.
Later I saw what it might have been after.
Looking back, I was harassing the crows who were harassing the owl who was about to harass the rabbit who was about to harass my garden which held the worms that the robins were about to harass. And what was harassing me? The backyard supervisors, wanting their breakfast.
Sorry for the blurry picture of Emma. She can NEVER sit still.
And Ruby, patiently waiting for her breakfast.
“C’mon down, Robbie.” Harriet’s soft voice was barely audible.
Farther along, on the same branch, Harry, the hairy woodpecker, edged closer to Robbie’s nest. “You guys should get out while you can. Don’t you know there’s crows around? We got out a couple of days ago and they’re still hovering near us.”
“Naaah! They wouldn’t bother me. I’m big and tough. See how tall I can be?”
“Brother Ryan left the nest this morning. I guess I’m next. Not sure what these little guys are going to do.”
“Roberta’s not looking too happy, but I think Ross will fly out with me. See him right here next to me. He’s ready.”
And in fact, that’s just what happened. The big goons left little Roberta alone in the nest, crying her eyes out.
Then finally with one panicked PEEEEEP, she leaped down out of desperation and flapped her wings with all her tiny might.
And a new adventure began.
It’s crowded in the old homestead
With only one small room,
Roberta being tiniest,
Her outlook full of gloom.
When Ryan flew, the other boys
Just couldn’t wait to leave,
Roberta stood there all alone
And all she did was grieve.
She called her mother loud and clear,
She called her father too.
They heard her but said, “Berta, dear,
You know it’s up to you.”
“It’s so far down and I’m alone
With no one helping me,
I do not want to die so soon
By falling from this tree.”
“Just take a leap,” her mother said,
“And flap your wings like mad.
Your other option is to stay
And be forever sad.”
Roberta plucked her courage up,
She shrieked and then she leaped,
She flapped her wings and on the ground
She fluttered, “Peep, peep, peep!”
With happiness and wonderment
At being on the ground,
Roberta blinked her eyes and said,
“I’m happy to be down.”
“My whole life lies ahead of me.
I have to do my best
To make it last a long, long time
Before my final rest.”
“Throw your head back, open your mouth wide, and look hungry,” chirped Robbie Robin. “And, oh yeah, peep as loud as you can. Ya gotta sound desperate … like this: PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!”
“Is that you making trouble again, Robbie? You know I can only feed one of you at a time. Maybe two. Good thing your father is helping out for a change.”
“Sorry, Mom! But we’re all kind of hungry here … not to mention BORED! We’ve been in this one-bedroom nest for over 10 days now. It’s so bohhhhh-ring.”
“Hah! Four more days, she says. We’re going to be falling out of the nest by then. I mean there’s hardly room for me, and then there’s Ryan, Ross, and Roberta. I don’t even know if Roberta’s going to make it. She’s kind of small and getting squished. Can you blame me for being a bit grumpy these days?”
“Hey! There’s Anneli with her shaky video camera. Maybe I’ll show her how I can do my exercises and stretches, and scratch my itches. ”
“Oh Robbie, you’re so boring. You put me to sleep.” Roberta yawned and nodded off.
See for yourself. Roberta nods off and so does Ryan.
Three Great Books
We all love to read a book that is so good we can’t put it down. Imagine finding three of them! You’ll get that in the Crossroads Series written by Jacqui Murray. Her books caught me by surprise. I read “Survival of the Fittest” not realizing at the time that it was the first of three in The Crossroads Series.
Well, I LOVED the book.
It was a story that could have been true, but of course it was fiction. The setting is Africa, 850,000 years ago. Yes, you read that right. It was a long, long time ago when mankind was in the early stages of development. People, like animals, had to live by their wits and be very strong, smart, and lucky, or die. Only the fittest survived the ordeals these people went through in their everyday life: hunting and gathering food, traveling in rough terrain, being attacked by “Others,” and surviving natural disasters.
Though the life rules were different, human nature, even then, was something we can relate to today. The emotions that ran through these people of long ago were much the same as what we feel now.
Xhosa, a strong female character leads her group on a long migration in search of a place where they can be safe and have enough food and shelter to survive. Some other smaller tribes join up with hers for safety, and each brings a new dynamic to the group. Ms. Murray is skilled at making you care about her characters, and before you know it, you will be hooked.
Without saying too much more about the plot, I just want to tell you that I was sorry the book ended, but overjoyed to find that there was a Book Two, called “The Quest for Home.”
I devoured that book as well and still wanted more!
Now, at last, Ms. Murray has Book Three ready for publication. I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview and I can tell you you’re in for a treat if you read these books. “Against All Odds” completes the three-book series.
In this final book, Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes, filled with hardship, courage, survival, and family.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021.
You can find out more about Jacqui Murray by clicking the links below:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/
For your entertainment, here is the book trailer for Book Three, “Against All Odds.”
No, it isn’t what the dog threw up, but it sure looks like it could be. It was growing in the bark mulch in my backyard. First time I’ve seen it.
Back in April, Pit from pitsfritztownnews posted a photo of slime mold (also called dog vomit slime mold), and I said that we don’t have it here. He’s in Texas; I’m on Vancouver Island. I’ve added a link to his post at the bottom of the page.
This slime mold is about the size of an adult hand with fingers spread out.
Apparently this fungus frequently comes in bark mulch and grows when the weather is humid. Hot dry weather usually dries it up and it dies. Meanwhile, although it is not meant to be eaten, it won’t kill you and it’s not toxic to pets. It is just to be tolerated and possibly admired for its uniqueness.
Here is Pit’s link:
Shhh!!! The squirrels are away … I think …
Quick! Quick! I’ll grab one of their sunflower seeds.
I need to crack the shell. Here’s a stick. Hurry, hurry, before they come back. Those two squirrel brothers have been doing their best not to share with me.
Do I dare believe my sharp brown eyes? It’s a towhee. The sneaky little thief!
Hey brother! We got trouble … again!
Ooh! Talk about greedy! He didn’t leave much.
Holy smokes! There’s hardly anything left. I’m really hurt.
I just can’t believe he did that. He’s almost cleaned us out.
But wait a minute. Heh-heh-heh! He doesn’t know about the ones I have … “squirreled” away.
I’d better add this one to the stash.