Wednesday, October 11, 2017

THEN THERE WERE THREE


I was standing on our back deck, looking at our woods line when Steven came out. “What are you looking at?” he asked.
“The three morning doves eating under our feeder.” I said sadly.
“What's wrong with them, they look cute.”
“Yesterday morning there were two couples under the feeder.” I pointed to the pile of feathers in the center of our yard. “Yesterday afternoon I heard all the crows and blue jays screaming and I came out and saw the Cooper Hawk sitting right in the middle of our lawn.” I looked over at Steven. “I thought I scared him away before he got anybody.” I sighed. “But I guess I didn't.”
“Hey, it's nature.” Steven said with a shrug.
“I know. But now she's all alone and the other two are completely ignoring her!” I complained. We watched as the couple kept chasing the single bird away from them. “They're being so mean.” I cried. “She's just trying to have someone to eat with!”
Steven looked confused. “How can you tell it was the male that got caught?”
“I can't really.” I admitted as I shrugged my shoulders. “I just assumed he was being chivalrous and was protecting her from the Cooper Hawk and paid dearly for being a gentleman.”
Steven looked over at me, a surprised look on his face. “Really?” he laughed. “You figured all of that?”
“Hey, they mate for life.” I reasoned. “No woman, human or bird is going to stick around with a guy who's going to run and hide and leave her to face danger alone!”
Steven snorted a laugh. “So she's just this helpless female that needs protecting?”
“Of course not!” I countered. “She was right by his side fighting too!”
“Wait a minute...” Steven held up hand for me to pause. “Didn't you tell me you just saw the Hawk sitting on the lawn with all the other birds yelling at him?”
I was confused. “Yeah.”
“So where did this epic battle happen?”
“I don't know.” I sat down on the stairs. “I was just saying.”
Steven sat down next to me and pointed to the feeder. “Don't you think what really happened was they were both eating and the Hawk swooped in and then one of them was gone?”
“Of course it could have happened that way, but the way I tell it is much more romantic, don't you think?”
Steven looked at me for a moment. “Is this your subtle way of asking me to tell you that if a giant raptor was coming after us I'd protect you?”
I thought about it for a moment. “Well...it didn't start out the way.” I looked back at the single mourning dove and sighed. “But as a metaphor it's actually nice to hear.”
Steven shook his head and laughed as he stood up and brushed off the back of his pants. “I'm going in to get a garbage bag and clean up the feathers.”

“Thanks.” I stood up next to him, giving him a quick kiss. “Can you bring the sunflower seeds with you? Maybe if I give them all an extra treat they'll play nicely together.”  

Friday, October 6, 2017

RAINING ACORNS


My son Alex and I were out for a walk after dinner, the sun was just beginning to set and the sky was turning an amazing shade of pink.
“You know pretty soon were going to have to take our walks before dinner.” I sighed as I pulled the zipper of my sweatshirt up closer to my chin. “I hate when it gets dark so early.”
We both watched as a squirrel darted in front of us with an acorn in his mouth. He was headed to the flower bed of a neighbor's where another squirrel was busy digging. “Did I tell you I caught another squirrel burying it's acorns in my geranium pot?”
Alex shook his head. “No, you didn't.”
“Yeah, I feel kind of sorry for him.”
“Why?”
“Because I'm going to be throwing the pots out once the first frost kills them.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I hope he's got a back up plan and that's not his only place he's hiding his food.”
We both stepped over a huge pile of acorns someone had raked from their yard and placed at the curb. “It's unbelievable how many oak trees are in this neighborhood.” I looked over at Alex. “Did you know each tree can drop as many as ten thousands acorns?”
Alex shook his head again. “Nope, I didn't know that.”
We were now walking in front of a house that hadn't raked their acorns yet. The sidewalk was covered. “It's like walking on marbles.” I said as I slid my foot as if I were wearing ice skates so I wouldn't slip and twist my ankle. “Walking uphill also gives it an added sense of adventure!” I lied as I really was worried I'd slip and fall.
“Remember last spring when the house across the street had a forest of baby oak trees in their front yard?” Alex asked. He seemed to be having an easier time walking then I was.
“How could I forget! I swear I think there were over a hundred trees.” I had to laugh. “There's an example of a few squirrels forgetting where they buried dinner.”
We'd almost reached the top of the hill and could see the acorns were thinning out. “Phew, made it!” I announced as I stepped over the last acorn. “That's another reason why I'm on team chipmunk and not squirrel.”
Alex laughed. “You just think chipmunks are cuter than squirrels.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “That's true but they're also smarter.” I argued. “Chipmunks store their nuts right in their burrow so, in the middle of a snowstorm, they can just reach over and get a snack.” I pointed to the frantic squirrels scampering around. “Squirrels on the other hand are running all over the neighborhood on a snowy day trying to figure out where they buried their next meal.” I shook my head. “They just don't work as smart as chipmunks.”
“They seem to be doing alright.” Alex laughed.
We were getting ready to cross the street when a breeze came up causing dozens of acorns to fall from the tree directly in front of us. We listened to them clatter as they bounced off the sidewalk, some of them bouncing at least a foot back into the air before finally settling on the ground.
I looked over at Alex. “Have you ever had an acorn bounce off the top of your head?”
Alex shook his head no.
“It's only happened to me once.” I gave the top of my head a sympathy rub remembering the time. “But I can tell you it really hurts.”
“I bet.” We both looked up at the tree to see if any more were coming. Alex adjusted his baseball cap. “I'm glad I'm wearing a hat.” He looked over at my hat-less head.

“Good idea!” I quickly pulled the hood of my sweatshirt up and tied it tight. “ Who knew it would be so dangerous walking out here tonight!”

Friday, September 29, 2017

WIPER WORRIES


I pulled into our driveway, left the car running and went up to the house. Opening the door I called to my husband, Steven. “My windshield wipers won't go off!”
He came to the front door and looked outside. You could hear the screeching sound the rubber blades made as the scraped across the dry windshield.
“They just came on all by themselves?” Steven looked up at the cloudless blue sky.
“No, I turned them on. I wanted to clean the windshield but now they won't shut off!” I shook my head, looking around the neighborhood to see if anyone was outside. “I've just spent the last twenty minutes driving home with them swishing back and forth! I felt like a crazy old lady who drives around not knowing her blinker is flashing!”
Steven climbed into the driver's seat. “I'm sure no one noticed.” He flicked the wiper switch on and off.
But I wasn't through with my rant. “I might was well have two cats climbing around in the car and a pocket full of hard candy!” I cried.
Steven laughed. “What?”
“People wait until you're stopped at a light then pull up next to you and give the maybe-you-shouldn't-be-driving-if-you're-so-clueless look!” I shook my head and couldn't help but shudder. “I felt like an idiot!”
Steven turned the car off. The wipers immediately stopped. “There. All fixed.”
“That's what you call fixing it?” I pointed to the wipers that were now straight up in the air.
Steven turned the car back on and the wipers started up again only this time at their fastest speed.
“Oh, great.” I sighed.
“Don't worry.” He climbed out of the car. “We'll drop it off at the mechanic's. Let me go grab my keys and I'll follow you.” He left the car door open for me.
“Why do I have to be the one to drive the stupid car?” I cried.
“Seriously?”
I nodded my head. “Completely.”
“Why do you let this stuff bother you so much?” Steven sighed as he climbed back in the car and handed me my purse.
“I don't know.” I shrugged my shoulders. “It just does.”
“Okay, fine. You drive my car and I'll meet you over at the mechanic's.”
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I smiled as I leaned into the car to give him a quick kiss. Steven just shook his head as he put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway.

“I'm right behind you!” I called as I listened to the frantic screeching of the wipers as he drove down the street. “Well, there's one less embarrassing thing I have to do today.” I muttered to myself as I went back to the house to get his keys. That's when I noticed water leaking from my purse. I looked in to see the water bottle I'd tucked in there was missing it's cap. “Clearly this is going to be one of those days.” I sighed.

Friday, September 22, 2017

PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME


I'd just made myself a cup of tea, and was throwing away my teabag, when I noticed the empty peanut butter jar laying in the recycling bin. “We've started a new jar of peanut butter!” I cried.
My husband, Steven and son, Alex both gave me a confused look.
“I finished it last night.” Alex said. “Why?”
“So no one's opened the new jar yet?” I was almost gleeful.
“I don't know.” Steven went to the cabinet pulled out the new jar and handed it to me.
I slowly unscrewed the lid and saw the foil covering still intact. “Best day ever!” I cried as I peeled the foil off and looked at the smooth top of the peanut butter. “Do you know how happy this makes me?” I smiled at both of them as I set the jar down on the counter and went into the cabinet to get an English muffin. “When you grow up in a big family, like I did, it's rare to have an untouched jar.” I explained as I popped the muffin in the toasted and slide the lever down. “When I was growing up the peanut butter jar always had crumbs or jelly in it.” I shuddered. “It was disgusting.” I leaned against the counter waiting for my muffin to be toasted.
“But our peanut butter jar never looks like that.” Alex argued. “I use a knife for the peanut butter and another knife for the jelly. I never mix the two.”
“I know.” I smiled at him. “That's not the point. It's the joy of a new jar that I'm talking about.”
Alex went into the cabinet and got out a box of cereal.
I pointed to the box. “Cereal was another thing that I only wanted to eat if it was a brand new box.”
“Why?” Alex took a bowl out of the cabinet.
“Because, back then, a lot of cereal had prizes in them.” Hearing the pop of the toaster I turned around pulled the muffin out, being careful not to burn my fingers.
“I remember that.” Steven said, he looked over at Alex. “They'd have all kinds of weird stuff. Nothing really great but everyone wanted it.”
“I'd come downstairs for breakfast, really looking forward to a bowl of Frosted Flakes and the bulging box would be open on the counter top. You'd just know, by looking at it, that someone was elbow deep digging around for that stupid prize.” I shuddered again as I spread the peanut butter on my muffin. “That would be the end of wanting to eat out of that box!”
“That is pretty gross.” Alex admitted.
“Oh that's just the beginning.” I took my peanut buttered muffin to the table as Alex came over with his bowl of cereal. “Getting breakfast with seven kids running around was just crazy.” I shook my head.
“Well, don't worry it's not like that anymore.” Steven said, sitting down at the table to visit with us.
“Yeah.” Alex agreed. “I've stopped drinking right out of the milk container years ago!”
“What!” I could actually feel my stomach flip just thinking about it.

“Just kidding.” Alex laughed as he patted my arm to reassure me. “Just thought I'd bring back another childhood memory for you!”

Friday, September 15, 2017

KITCHEN TOOLBOX


I was in the hall bathroom hanging up a new picture when my son Alex walked in. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Hanging the picture your Aunt Lizzy gave me.” I finished tapping the picture hook into the wall then picked up the 5x7 white framed picture. It had three pieces of sea glass that were made to look like shore birds standing on a piece of driftwood. I placed it on the hook, adjusted it to make it level, then stood back to admire it. “That is so stinking cute!” I cried. I looked over at Alex. “Isn't it adorable?”
“Sure, adorable.” Alex answered not sounding nearly as thrilled as I was. He picked up the tool I'd used to hang the picture hook. “But why are you using a meat mallet instead of a hammer?” Alex looked confused.
I shrugged my shoulders as I took the mallet from him. “I haven't used a hammer in years.” I confessed. “No matter how many times I'd buy a new hammer it would be missing whenever I went to use it.” I held up the mallet and smiled. “None of you have ever thought of using this!”
Alex shook his head and laughed. “I guess as long as it works...” he went over to the vanity and opened the bottom drawer, I watched as the knob turned in his hand.
“How long has that knob been loose?” I asked.
“I'm not sure.”
I looked inside the drawer, at the screw that was holding the knob. “Perfect, it's not a Phillips head.” I looked up at Alex. “I can fix this for you in a second if you go into the kitchen and bring me a butter knife.”
“Okay.”
While he headed for the kitchen I looked over at the picture I'd just hung and noticed it was lower then I wanted. “Can you bring the metal tongs, too?” I called to him.
Alex came back with a butter knife and the tongs. “Okay, I get the butter knife.” he said as he handed it to me. “But what are the tongs for?”
“You'll see.” I took the butter knife, tightened the screw then closed the drawer. I took the tongs from him and clicked them together. “Pliers!” I took the picture down and using the tongs pulled the picture hanger back out of the wall. Putting the tongs on the vanity, I grabbed the meat mallet once again and 'hammered' the hook up a little higher. Hanging the picture once again I stood back to check. “Perfect!”
I gathered up my tools and headed back to the kitchen.
“So what else do you use in here for your toolbox?” Alex asked as he looked around the kitchen.

“I can't tell you that.” I opened the dishwasher and placed my tools in it, then walked over to him and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “I'm afraid I've already given up too many of my secrets.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

HIGH-WIRE MOVE


I was walking past my living room window when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a squirrel scurrying across the telephone wire carrying something in her mouth. I squinted my eyes to try and get a better look.
It has always amazed me that a squirrel's twitching tail could take the place of the balance pole high-wire artists use. But no human, no matter how talented they are, could cross a wire at the speed that she was moving.
My squinting seemed to finally pay off because I couldn't believe what I saw. “Oh my gosh, she's got a baby in her mouth!” I cried.
I heard my husband Steven running into the room. “WHAT?” he cried.
I turned to see the panicked look on his face and was a little surprised by his reaction. “There's a mommy squirrel with a baby in her mouth.” I said pointing to the telephone wire.
“Oh, for God's sake!” He sat down on the couch trying to catch his breath.
It took me a second but I finally realized he thought I was talking about our across the street neighbors who'd just brought their twin babies home from the hospital the week before.
“Sorry about that.” I smiled and shrugged my shoulder. “I guess that did sound kind of weird.”
“You think?” he shook his head then got up to look out the window. We both watched the squirrel race back across our yard, up the telephone pole onto the wires and leap into the neighbor's tree. Moments later with another baby in her mouth she did the entire obstacle course all over again moving another one to the new nest.
“I've never seem a squirrel do that before.” I looked over at Steven. “I wonder why she's moving them?”
Steven was still looked out the window. “I bet it's because of the Cooper Hawk.” He turned to look at me. “I heard it in the back yard this morning.”
I grabbed my phone and headed to the front door. “I'm going to try and get a picture.”
“You're going to scare her!” Steven called as he stayed by the window.
“She'll never see me.” I reassured him. I got outside just as she was going back to the first nest for another baby. I tried to get a picture of her on the telephone wire with her carrying a baby but she was so fast I couldn't get the shot I wanted.

I thought I'd wait for her to make the trip again but when she came down from the new nest she didn't just race back to the first nest like she'd done before. Instead she frantically followed her route, seeming to be looking for a missing baby. I hadn't seen her drop one so I could not understand why she was acting this way. After checking the old nest once again she made the same frantic search on her way back to the new nest and her babies.
I came back into the house. “Did you see her drop a baby?” I asked.
Steven shook his head no.
“So how come she didn't know she'd gotten them all?”
Steven started to laugh. “I'm not sure if squirrels are known for their counting skills.”

“Oh, that's just great.” I sighed as I looked back out the window. “Now I feel like I need to go out and double check that she got them all.”

Friday, September 1, 2017

OAK GALL


I was outside filling my bird feeders when I looked down on the ground and saw something strange. It was perfectly round, the size of a golf ball and had the colorful look of a jawbreaker. I put the lid back on the feeder, tucked the bag of birdseed under my arm and scooped up my new found treasure.
Back in the house I placed the colorful ball on the counter and went to put the birdseed away.
Alex came into the kitchen. It seemed it was time for his hourly forage in the cabinets to see if anything new had appeared. He looked over at the ball. “What's that?” he asked.
“Not a clue.” I picked it up and began to examine it further.
Alex was opening and closing cabinets, clearly disappointed that nothing new had appeared.
“It's really pretty, don't you think?” I held out the strange little ball in the palm of my hand for him to see.
He looked over and shrugged his shoulders. “I guess.” then he continued his search in the refrigerator.
I put the ball down on the counter and took out my phone. “There's only one way to find out.” I snapped a picture of it, then opened my Facebook page. “There's a group I belong to that's just about plants.” I said as I began typing. “I'll post it there. I'm sure someone will come up with an answer.”
I looked over at Alex and could see the confused look on his face. “You belong to a group that's just about plants?” he asked.
“Hey! Don't judge!” I put my phone down on the counter.
Alex was still searching the refrigerator when my husband Steven came in. “What are we doing?” he asked then pointed to the ball I had sitting next to my phone. “What's that?”
“Alex is searching for an unknown snack and I'm waiting for an answer to that very question.” I picked up my phone to check, and sure enough I already had an answer. “Hey look, they sent me a picture of exactly what we have.” I held out the phone for them to see. “They say it's an oak gall.” I looked over at Steven. “Have you ever heard of that?”
Steven shook his head no. I looked at Alex, who gave me a you've-got-to-be-kidding-look.
“I'll just Google it.” Typing in “oak gall” I tapped on the first site and then began reading it aloud, “Okay, it says here that these things happen when the oak tree reacts to a non-stinging wasp that's layed its eggs on it's leaves or branches. The insects inject a hormone into the plant tissue which causes it to grow abnormally and encloses the developing wasp larvae.” I looked up at both of them my mouth twisted in a grimace. “Wow, that's gross.”
“Are you kidding me!” Alex cried. “You just brought a giant wasp egg in the house!”
Steven picked it up, opened the kitchen door and tossed it into the yard. “There!” he said as he closed the door and looked at Alex. “It's out of the house.”
Alex looked disgusted as he stood there just shaking his head.
“I'm sorry.” I cried. “It was so pretty, how was I to know?”
Neither of them said a word, they just looked at each other and left the kitchen.
I couldn't help but feel awful. “Dinner will be in an hour!” I called out to them, hoping that would make it all better. When there was no answer I added, “I'm making chicken parmesan!”
That seemed to do the trick.
“Are we having pasta with it?” Alex asked.
“Of course!”
“Sounds good to me.” Steven called.

I let out a sigh of relief. “And then all was forgiven.” I whispered to myself.