Posted tagged ‘bird feeders’

“She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.”

May 10, 2016

Today is a gift. I’m thinking Mother Nature has decided to stop teasing us with winter and has embraced spring. Not a branch moves in the stillness of the morning. The sun is bright and is framed by a blue sky. The birds are singing, and I hear several different songs. My feeders are getting a lot of traffic. It is in the mid 50’s but will get warmer as the day grows older. Tonight will be in the mid 40’s. It is a Cape Cod spring day.

This is the time of year when I’d ride my bike to school. I remember speeding down the hills and feeling chilly from the wind. My jacket would fill with air. The ride was short, probably about ten minutes, all downhill going and uphill returning. It should have been the opposite.

The bike rack was old and wooden. It was under branches from the tree in a yard next to the school fence. It was painted a dark green and had layers of paint. You could see them all when the paint chipped. I never had a lock for my bike. I don’t think anyone did. The bikes weren’t fancy. They had the back pedal brakes. Most had wire baskets. The best part of riding my bike was getting home fast and having more time to play in the afternoon.

The streets all had sand from winter when the sand trucks would come by and spew their sand on the snow to give cars better traction, but this time of year it was the street cleaning trucks which would come by. They had brushes low to the ground and would sweep the sand to the  curbside. A couple of times I skidded in the sand. Sometimes we did what came to be called wheelies. Our bikes would leave circular skid marks. Braking at the right time and place was the key.

The day hasn’t started well. I had an early morning meeting and nearly fell out of bed when the alarm went off. On the way to the bathroom I stepped in cat throw up. I have to go out but not for anything fun. I have to some x-rays done of my back. I’ve decided I deserve a good lunch, my favorite sandwich and a whoopie pie for dessert. I definitely earned it this morning.

“My first car was a motorcycle.”

July 23, 2015

Today is lovely with very little humidity and a cooling breeze. I slept in until nearly 10 o’clock. Last night I was tired so I went to bed early (for me) but was still awake at 3. To pass the time I watched a movie on my iPad, A Foreign Field. I kept thinking I’d finish it in the morning, but I watched it through to the end.

A flicker, a bird I haven’t seen in a long while, and a huge woodpecker were the stars this morning at the bird feeders. The usual complement of birds also dropped by, but they, especially the chickadee, looked tiny compared to the flicker. The red spawn hasn’t been by in a long while. I think it has to do with the spawn having gotten caught a few times inside the wire feeder while the full brunt of the jet spray of the nozzle was directed at it. The spawn just couldn’t escape fast enough to avoid the spray.

In Ghana, during my second year, Peace Corps relaxed its rules and allowed us to buy motorcycles. I bought a small motorcycle, a Honda 90. It was designed for modesty, with no middle bar, perfect for me as I had to wear dresses all the time. I learned the gears and the brake when I bought the moto, as it is called it in Ghana, and then rode it over 100 miles from Tamale to Bolgatanga. It was exhilarating. I loved the road and the wind on my face. The bugs were not so welcome. I learned to be exhilarated without smiling. A few inhaled bugs and a choke or two taught me that lesson. I rode along singing out loud to pass the time. I figure a few villagers told stories later about the crazy baturia (white woman) on the moto screeching as she rode.

The road home was a good one, paved all the way. It was called the road to Bolga and it went straight there so I never worried about getting lost. The ride was a long one so I stopped to stretch my legs and once I bought a warm coke at a store along the road. Kids from villages beside the road followed a bit and waved. I was even comfortable enough driving by then to wave back. When I got to the school gate, I honked so the gateman would let me in. He smiled a toothless grin and pointed to my bike. I smiled back and nodded.

I would love to have another motorcycle, but I dare not given how often I bang my leg or fall up or down stairs. Traffic here goes far too fast and hugging the sides of the road is a recipe for disaster. I’m liable to hit a giant rock or branch or have something from the sky fall directly on my head, such is my luck.

“On a bike, being just slightly above pedestrian and car eye level, one gets a perfect view of the goings-on in one’s own town.”

June 27, 2015

The inside is cooler than outside. I went on the deck earlier and filled the bird feeders, all except the red spawn of Satan’s favorite one. Afterwards I sat outside for a while patting Miss Gracie. It is a lovely morning.

My back pain had me groaning loudly enough to wake myself up several times last night, just about every time I moved. My guess is Gracie and Fern never moved and slept through my pain. I’m tired today so I see a nap on the horizon.

June was exciting only because it meant the end of school. Now I could go wherever I wanted and stay as long as I liked. My mother never knew where we were. We left in the morning with our packed lunches and got home in time for supper. I remember going to the next town over, Wakefield, and riding the circumference of the lake. At the end of the lake, the end furthest away from us, was a teepee, the symbol of a gift shop selling Indian doodads. It never occurred to me how strange that was. There were very few Indians, exactly none, in suburban Boston yet I could buy a tom-tom or a hatchet decorated in beads and fringe. Sometimes we’d leave the lake at that end and ride our bikes to Reading. I remember signs announcing some sort of a military base. Once in a while we’d even see an army truck or jeep. We’d ride through Reading Square and sometimes take a detour to the train station and sit on the benches a while hoping for a train. I always thought it was a cheat that the towns on each side of mine had trains, and we didn’t. My town was stuck with buses. We’d leave Reading and ride the back roads home. We’d pass a golf course, a cemetery and a big corner store called Fortini’s. Sometimes we’d ride the swamp path through the woods, the quickest way home, while other times we’d stay on the road.

My mother would ask us what we’d done all day. Just riding around was always our answer.

“Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.”

March 29, 2015

Yellow and purple crocus are almost blooming in the garden. I now believe in spring.

Snow is still on the deck, but I could get to the bird feeders for the time in months. I am so happy to feed the birds again and will welcome their return. I just hope the red spawn has forgotten about me as it hasn’t been around since the seeds disappeared. Maybe he found better offerings elsewhere. With the snow nearly gone, I have a few outside chores to do. I have a metal holder for string and lint and yarn which hangs from the tree. The birds grab the construction material to help with building their nests. That has to go up yet. The lights on the backyard trees go on and off at weird times because the electricity died for a few hours this winter and I could never get to the timer to reset the clock. That I’ll do today. These are fun chores, spring chores, snowless chores.

My father used to make us popcorn. He always used the big pot with the lid. First some oil and a kernel or two were put into the pot. When the kernels popped, my father knew the oil was hot enough for the rest of the popcorn. He’d put in the rest of the kernels then hold the cover on the pot and then keep moving the pot in a circle on the stove so the bottom kernels wouldn’t burn. We always stayed to watch. It took a while, but then we’re hear the popped corn hitting the cover. More and more popping sounds meant all the corn was popping. When it came down to only a few pops, it was time to take the pot off the stove. Melted butter was always added to the bowl of popcorn then my dad would scoop the buttered popcorn into four bowls, one for each of us, so we wouldn’t fight over the big bowl.

The sound of corn hitting the lid with a pop, pop over and over and the smell of popping corn are permanently etched in my memory drawers. Even now when I smell corn popping, the image of my dad at the stove immediately comes to mind, and I can see him clearly standing at that stove just a bit bent over swirling the pot.

“Reality can be very boring.”

February 8, 2015

The new snow makes the world look pristine, but I don’t care. We only got an inch or less, but it doesn’t matter. I am becoming unhinged. I can see myself running down the street with my arms waving over my head while I’m yelling a jumble of nonsense, my mind unable to form coherent sentences. The only distinguishable word is snow said over and over.

Yesterday I cleaned shelves, watered plants, changed my bed and swept the kitchen, negative effects of all this snow. In the afternoon, I finally saved myself by taking a nap.

I can’t imagine my mother having four kids stuck in the house. She must have gone crazy. The diversions back then were limited:  TV, with shows only in the late afternoon, books and our all time favorite: teasing my sisters. They’d scream and yell to my mother. My brother and I always feigned innocence. Our favorite was when we’d point and hold our fingers a few inches from our sister’s face. When she screamed as she always did, I’d yell, “We’re not even touching her.” My mother, wise to our ways, told us to stop whatever we were doing.

My sister has and is continuing to get have snow. She got about 7 inches last night and more will fall over the next two days, up to a total of two feet. This morning she saw a cross-country skier on the sidewalk.

The bird feeders are empty. I’ll have to go through the unshoveled snow on the deck to get there, but I will. I don’t want my poor birds wanting.

Life is boring right now. I can read only so long, the TV offers little to watch despite the number of channels and I haven’t any reason to be out and about. Maybe I’ll do more cleaning, but the mere mention of that is further proof I am losing my grasp on reality.

“Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, “I’m going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that’s tough. I am going to snow anyway.””

January 26, 2015

Naming hurricanes is a long time tradition, but now we have to name blizzards. Juno is the one we’re braced for now. As for me, I espouse keeping the snow at a distance. Giving it a name seems to personalize it too much.

We have been told to prepare for the probability of losing electricity. The last time that happened during a snow storm my house got down to 37˚. I can’t think of many more ways to prepare. I have food which doesn’t need to be cooked, and when Gracie and I do a couple of errands, I’m going to add tomatoes and avocados to the larder. Everything is charged though the charges won’t last all that long. I have a lantern but I need a few more batteries. Burning wood to keep warm is almost futile as most of the heat goes right up the chimney though I love the look of a good fire. My father always called a strong and long-lasting flame a Hollywood fire. I still do. The snow won’t start until late this afternoon, and by then we’ll be home, warm for the meantime and the bird feeders will have been filled, my only other chore for the day. I’ll turn up the heat to warm the house as much as I can. It will be tropical for just a bit.

When I was a kid, snow like this was perfect to build forts and caves. The forts had protective walls to keep the snowballs at bay. The caves had rooms, but we used to have to crawl in and out the door. We’d bring something to sit on between us and the snow, and we’d pretend the cave was a house of sorts. I remember bringing my sandwich and having lunch in the dining room of our cave. The best cave we ever made was huge. It was built in the pile left by the plows. We used water to ice the ceiling and walls so they’d be firm and last a long time. Eventually snow melts, but parts of my cave lasted until almost spring. It was the only snow left.

If I don’t post tomorrow, you’ll know why.

“Paradise can take the form of anything! It can be a flower or it can be a word or it can just be a sincere smile!”

January 8, 2015

I’m running late. I changed my bed, showered, shopped a bit on line and watched CNN. There was no urgency in getting things done. In due time I thought. The tree is still in the stand, bare of Christmas and sitting in the middle of the living room. I tried to get it out of the stand myself, but I couldn’t. It is the only glimmer of Christmas left, and later today it will be gone. My outside lights continue to be lit each night. I am loath to return to darkness.

It was so cold yesterday I brought the bird feeders into the house to fill them. My sister thought it strange and said I should have bundled up and done it outside. I fear the cold has warped her thinking. There I’d be out on the deck layered and wearing mittens and fumbling to get the seed into the feeders. Getting dressed to go outside would have taken longer than the task.

Today is sunny, but the light is muted, even chilly looking. I am not going out. This will be the second day in a row of my self-imposed exile from the world. I have all of life’s essentials: books, TV and Christmas cookies.

Last night I cooked chicken. I rifled through my herbs and spices and found one I hadn’t used, Caribbean Calypso Spice. It came from Penzey’s Spices, an occasion of sin for me. I’m sure a few of you are shaking your heads and wondering what in heck is an occasion of sin. I’ve known since childhood as the nuns were diligent in teaching us to avoid an occasion of sin, “Any person, place, or thing that of its nature or because of human frailty can lead one to do wrong, thereby committing sin.”  When I was younger, the list was long. Now that I’m older, I don’t even think I have a list. I live life with abandonment and am better for it.

I am wearing my new sweatshirt. It says Doctor Who and has a picture of the TARDIS. I am also wearing new slippers. I am warm and comfortable. I just ate a couple of cookies. I’m thinking this is a bit like paradise.