“Lured By Broccoli“

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Something had been eating my sunflowers at about one foot off the ground. They stood as a row of bare stalks, reminiscent of a few years ago when my cosmos had suffered a similar fate. Then, as now, it appeared to be the work of a woodchuck, munching happily along. At that time we bought a Have-a-Heart trap but succeeded in only catching a skunk. The neighbor’s dog caught and dispatched the woodchuck before he was trapped.

Yesterday when driving into the driveway I spotted a fat brown animal waddling quickly away into the raspberry patch. It took me a few minutes to realize that it wasn’t a fat squirrel but a woodchuck. Out came the Have-a-Heart trap, this time baited with broccoli which You Tube assured us was a go-to food for woodchucks. After all, I couldn’t bait the trap with sunflowers.

This afternoon, in the scorching heat, my husband found the fat, happy woodchuck lying contentedly on his back in the trap, the broccoli eaten. To release him near the house was to guarantee his return. Instead my husband decided to take him across the river, hoping he wouldn’t swim back, and release him in the meadow there. In the above picture the brown fat blob is the woodchuck running at record speed away from the Have-a-Heart trap.

The only question remaining is “do woodchucks swim?”

“A Walking Jukebox”

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A few days ago my grandson casually commented that I had a song for every occasion. I had never realized this myself, but have now become quite conscious of how accurate he was. Song links come automatically for me when I say or hear something seemingly unrelated but completely apropos. For example, yesterday when I was talking about a belief I was abandoning I quipped, “and another one bites the dust.”(Song by Queen.) When I wrote about the heat I was humming “It’s too darn hot”(Kiss Me Kate.)When I do make a mistake I am likely to state “blame it on the Bossa Nova”(Eydie Gorme). As I commented a few weeks ago, someone not of my generation would certainly be baffled by that remark.

I don’t do this on purpose, and when I was trying to think of examples for this post, I couldn’t come up with many. Instead whatever part of my mind stores  all these lyrics awakens any time it thinks it can get a clip in edgewise. And it does. Sometimes I sing it, sometimes I just repeat the segment. But he is right. I do it all the time.

Just curious. Do any of you throw out snippets of songs at odd times?

“Too Da** Hot”

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Tomorrow through Sunday an “oppressive” heat wave will hit the entire Eastern United States. That includes us. They project temperatures exceeding 100 degrees F(37.7C) for a couple of days with excessive humidity. That makes the temperature feel more like 105 F(40.5C) akin to the heat that hit Europe earlier this summer. The arguments rage on about the cause of the changes in the climate, but we can agree that something unusual is going on. From record flooding on the Mississippi River to a dangerous lack of water in places like South Africa and India, we are all having to adjust to a new “normal.”

I don’t like change, and I especially don’t like an increase in very hot weather. While many of my fellow Connecticut residents flee the state in the winter for warmer climes, I am content with snow and ice. And best of all, for me, are fall and spring with their usually moderate temperatures.

I suspect that my dislike of very hot weather comes from a heat wave when I was eight. I had seven stitches on my right calf and had to keep that leg dry. Our family took refuge in a motel near Mt. Hood to get out of the worst of the heat. There my siblings splashed contentedly in the swimming pool. I, on the other hand, hopped around on my left foot in the wading pool, keeping my right leg out of the water. I grumbled nonstop, making sure everyone knew of my plight.

We have an window air conditioner in three different rooms, and I turn one on when I am in that room. At the moment I am cooled by the study air conditioner. It brings the air down a few degrees as I type, and I am grateful.

Stay cool out there!

“Soaring”

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When you see a comment I post, the little Gravatar above shows up. I realized that I had never written about this image, so I chose to do so today. I have always loved hawks, whether sitting atop power poles and trees or flying overhead. Occasionally I have even been very close as a hawk devoured her prey–usually a squirrel or a pigeon. Neither of those creatures are endangered, especially not around my house!

Falconry lives in little pocket throughout New England. I learned that it also still reigns in England, as one plucky hawk keeps Wimbledon free of pigeons.

As a gift, my husband took me to Hadley, Massachusetts to the home of New England Falconry for a 45 minute talk and experience with a Harris hawk, pictured above. After donning a thick leather glove, clasping a tiny piece of fresh meat(rabbit I think) I stood stock still while the handler whistled to the hawk in a nearby tree. For a while the hawk was more interested in chasing a nearby bird, but eventually he saw the meat. In a staggeringly fast move he swooped down, landed on my glove and ate the meat. The photo captures the moment he was swallowing it down.

I was about as startled as you would expect as the bird flew straight at me, despite my being told that was what would happen. It took a moment for my heart rate to return to any semblance of normal. But as soon as it did, I was ready to try it again. There is nothing to outdo looking a bird of prey eye to eye and rejoicing that he prefers rabbit!

“What— Me Worry?”

47B480BF-06AB-42F5-B9E3-9FD559D4D4B4 Mad Magazine has published its last issue. For many of my generation the magazine provided constant amusement throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. My brother and I would buy one copy and share it back and forth each month. The humor was tame compared to what is available for adolescents today, but it was startling material then. We learned sarcasm, political critique, and product spoofs within its covers. Sometimes the cover could even be folded in such a way as to produce an alternative picture, usually more provocative than the newsstand version had displayed.

I was a child of the Cold War, constantly being warned about Russia. The most subversive feature of Mad Magazine was the wordless feature cartoon each month–Spy vs. Spy. Despite what I was learning in school, it appeared that both sides in the Cold war were equally inept.

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A wonderful editorial in today’s New York Times highlights how much Mad influenced many of today’s comedians such as John Stewart formerly of The Daily Show. For Mad lovers, I recommend reading it.

 

“I’m So-o-o-o Bored”

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I have written in the past about the very long car trips we took to go from Portland, Oregon to Buffalo, New York. When we four kids were extremely bored(most of the time) my mother couldn’t rely on her time honored “I have something you can do,” usually house chores. Instead we were left to our own devices. Except we didn’t have any electronic devices to pass the time.

My sisters and brother managed to spend a lot of time reading, but I got car sick when reading, so that was out. Poking each other seemed an ideal alternative. Sadly, this provoked my mother enough for her to stop the station wagon and rearrange our seating. The most dreaded pronouncement was “You will have to come up front and ride with me.” That would have guaranteed that the “lucky” kid would be terminally bored. We tried to walk the thin line between entertaining ourselves and being yanked up to the front seat.

One of my favorite toys was the number sliding puzzle pictured above. At the start the numbers were in a random order. I tried to rearrange the numbers in a sequence from 1 to 15 in four rows with 1 in the upper left corner and 15 in the bottom right. After doing that, I would scramble the tiles and try to get four columns of numbers with 1 to 4 in the left hand row and so forth. The task challenged me no matter how many times I did it.

Then it was back to the license plate hunt, the looking for letters of the alphabet search, and long naps.

“Moderating Comments”

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When I first started this blog I was leery of having comments go up without my moderating them. I was used to the snarky replies to other on-line formats and didn’t want to become an open forum for more of them. I first moderated all comments, but then learned that I could approve comments without reading them for readers I had come to know. Generally I get one or two comments to review at a time. WordPress does a good job for me of screening out obscene comments and obvious spam. In three years I had never received a comment that I didn’t approve apart from ones advertising things.

This morning I was startled to read a comment waiting for moderation. I have no problem with people disagreeing with my viewpoints on things. I also appreciate people sharing experiences very different from what I have written. But this comment attacked my style, my meaning and my coherence. A triple whammy! I am not sharing it, nor did I respond to it. Many people write hostile comments in hopes of getting into a sparring match. He won’t get one from me. Intriguingly, the comment came from someone who doesn’t keep a blog. Maybe he just roams around spreading bad will.

My comments will continue to be moderated.