Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Squirrelly Deer Costing Us Dough

I have an apology to make.  For the last few weeks, the bird seed in our bird feeders has disappeared during the night.  I am not really upset about it.  Anyone who knows our household knows that the inside animals...our two elderly cats (22 years old)...and the 'wild' animals outside are well fed and safe on our property.   I keep the bird feeders full, leave peanuts and corn for the squirrels, keep fresh water in containers and put left over foods (that I know some creature will like) out each evening.  And, as some of you know, from a former post...even the ants are safe Something for Your Rusty Bucket List .

 In fact, today while bringing laundry from the basement to the bedroom upstairs...a pale tan spider came crawling from the side of the laundry basket.  I searched for our 'spider jar' that we keep at such times to capture her and put her outside.  It was not anywhere, so I took the basket to the end of the hall and nudged the spider onto our bedraggled spider plant.  (Oh my, I just realized that I put the spider on a SPIDER plant!  I do hope she stays there.

But, back to my apology.  I have been blaming our squirrel...well...our many squirrels as the culprits eating from the bird feeder.  And I have proof!


 We knew the squirrels ate from this feeder, but they never ate all of the food.  They seemed to know that they needed to share with the birds....that was until a few nights ago.  This feeder and the ones in the back yard were empty when I checked them in the morning.  Those little rascals...how could they have eaten so much during the night?  I had a vision of them lined up, taking turns, swinging and balancing as they grabbed the seeds and corn.

Maybe it was a raccoon....even though I have not seen a raccoon since a mother gave birth to two in our chimney....after a wind storm when the chimney lid (cover, cap) blew off.  The wind storm also blew down the big antenna at the side of the house which the raccoon climbed at night,  peeking through our bedroom window on her way to the chimney.  I did not realize at that time that there soon be a family as I thought the cap was still on the chimney.  We have not seen a raccoon around here since the raccoon family found a new home somewhere in the woods.  But, the missing bird feed sounds like the work of a nocturnal animal...and so the raccoons were blamed.

Last evening, while rinsing some dishes I noticed a movement out by the bird feeders...looked up and saw....
They were gently nibbling the seed from the bird feeder...probably thinking how kind it was that we put it at lip level for them.

Ray was able to get this picture.  They turned, summoned the other three that were behind the garage, and ran across the yard, jumping our fence into the neighbor's yard, jumping their fence...and off to a wooded area nearby.  Their beauty and grace made me forget about them eating the bird seed....but I am now taking in the feeders at dusk and returning them for the birds in the morning.

And one more thing....these deer have made a meal of my tulips too!  They did not eat the crocus, and the hyacinth are still blooming...but the tulips have been chewed to the ground.  So....looks like no tulips this year...and this fall I will plant more crocus and hyacinth.
What is left of the tulips!
So...to all the squirrels out there...I am sorry that I automatically blamed you for the missing bird seed.  Please, accept my apology. ( And to the deer...please let my tulips grow next year.)
That blog post was written in the spring.  Here are two winter pictures of some deer feasting on the bird seed. The deer continue to dine in our yard. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Uncle Frank...First Story...of Many

Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Frank and my mother, Maxine

My Uncle Frank was mother's older brother.  He was the oldest of four siblings.  There are lots of stories I can tell about Uncle Frank.  When he was in high school...for summer break...he hopped a train headed for Colorado where he intended to visit his Aunt Rett and her family.  This was back in the 1930s, and it must have not been too alarming for my grandmother to see him off...but her message was strong...'Be back before the school year begins.'

He had many adventures on this ride, but I will only mention one.  While riding freight trains he met a lot of interesting people.  On one train he encountered a man with a guitar...called himself Woody...Woody Guthrie.  Frank said they talked and I think Woody might have influenced my uncle's political thoughts.  Frank grew up to be a staunch democrat and a union man...being a union steward at one time. 

One of Frank's great talents was his cartoons...comic...characters he would draw.  Each letter or package he would send us was decorated with pictures...maybe a Santa or Easter Bunny.  But Mother had to be careful with some of these...because he would often insert something in the pictures...that may not be...hmmmm....well...like one of his Christmas cards was a beautiful winter scene with a bridge.  If you looked closely....Santa was on the bridge...and if you looked closer...you could see that Santa was relieving himself in the stream...of course, only his back was showing....but it was obvious after a second look...what he was doing.

Here are a couple of Uncle Frank's comics that I recently found.  I will write more stories about him later....I have some great World War II photos he took.  (He was the ship's photographer.)  Here is a picture of a boxing match between FDR and Hitler. I found this in a letter that Uncle Frank had sent to the family.

 The next picture could probably apply to what many think about the work getting done in Washington, D.C. at any time.  Whatever....this is one of the pictures Maxine would have kept from the eyes of children and friends.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston: Mourn the Lost. Hope the Worst Is Over. But, Please Have Perspective, and Don't Live in Fear.

I don't think I can write a post for my blog today.  I tend to like to write light hearted posts and I just don't feel that today.  While walking with my friend, Ann, yesterday (taking advantage of one of the few warm days we in Toledo have had this spring and reinforcing, Jozy, her young golden retriever's lesson of heeling) she received a text.  Ann glanced at the text but could not read it because of the sun's glare, but she did see the word Boston.

"My friend, Linda, must have sent me a recipe for Boston Cream Pie," she said...and we continued our walk.

Oh how I wish that had been the message...but as you all know...it was informing us about the bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon.  We found out while driving home.

I found myself watching the coverage...seeing the same footage...over and over...watching that same runner fall with what appeared to be something white hitting him...seeing someone dressed up in an M&M costume...watching so many run to help...and hearing the panic of the people...

I had to turn off the television...but then was drawn to Facebook.   I know people in Boston...I have relatives who live there.  Facebook answered my questions...all were okay...but there were other posts that made me sad...people already politicizing it.  I read on...most posts were sending their thoughts and prayers...healing energy...and I saw many words of wisdom.  These far outnumbered those politicizing it...so my faith in the human race has returned. 

The comedian Patton Oswalt wrote an inspiring post on Facebook called  The Good Outnumber You and We Always Will that is worth reading.  It is short but powerful...and of course has gone viral.

 I will end this with wise words that my nephew, Nathan Foster, wrote on Facebook yesterday.
"Mourn the lost. Hope the worst is over. But, please have perspective, and don't live in fear."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Saddled with a Bear...Riding Becomes a Cinch

One of the excursions we took while on a cruise in February (the cruise where we won the treasured trophy! Across the Universe on a Cruise Ship ) was horseback  riding at Cozumel, Mexico.  This was our second time horseback riding together.  The first time was at Kualoa, Hawaii where we rode where Jurassic Park was filmed.  I am thankful that Ray agrees to these rides because he had really never had much experience riding...having only been on a horse twice before.  Even though I had ridden a lot and even had a couple of horses of my own...it still had been a number of years since I had ridden. 

I was disappointed in the horse given to Ray on the Kualoa ride.   It was a beautiful Appaloosa that I had had my eye on.  We informed the guide that Ray was inexperienced and that I was quite familiar with riding....so I would have thought she would have given Ray a well behaved horse.  The horse's name was Bear...and quite an appropriate name.  Bear was the typical trail horse in that he tried to eat grass (until Ray stopped that)...then tried eating tree leaves (until Ray stopped that)...then did the 'old trick...my leg itches and I need to scratch it with my nose' in order to jerk his head to get closer to the grass.  That all was typical...but I also noticed that each time the guide would ride close to Bear...Bear's ears would flatten and the other horse would dodge away.

 I trotted my horse closer to Ray and Bear's ears flattened again as he swung his head hitting my sweet horse and causing her to rear up a bit.  (I was glad I was on the rearing horse and not Ray)  The guide then informed us that Bear did not like other horses.  Hmmmm...why put an inexperienced rider on that type of horse?  Oh well...at least it did not cause Ray to refuse to try another ride.

Bear...note ears and swinging head.
This is the closest I would take my horse to Bear.  Note...Bear's ears.
The Cozumel ride was perfect.  The representative from the ranch met us after we got off the ship.  We were a group of about a dozen.  He told us the ranch was about half hour away and we would be riding a Mexican air conditioned taxi there.  We walked off at a brisk pace until we came to an open air vehicle with bench seats....and a "Fasten Seat Belts" sign hanging at the front.  It reminded me of a hay ride trailer with a canopy and the seats facing the front...bench seats with the type of seat belts we had in the 60s...similar to those on airlines.
Air conditioned taxi
I could describe the ride we took...but this picture of Ray and video say it better.  Ray said he was just glad that he could not see the road ahead as we heard the driver honking as he swerved through traffic, getting us to a country road where he left all in a blur.
Ray enjoying leisurely ride to ranch. 

Once we got to the ranch and combed the tangles from my hair...we were introduced to our horses and our guide, Clinton.  Clinton gave a quick lesson on riding...and demonstrated each step for the beginners.  We were divided into three groups depending on experience.  The horses were healthy and the saddles and reins were in great condition.  My horse was spirited but followed all directions I gave her and Ray's horse was steady but also reacted to Ray's directions.  So Ray was able to experiment with trotting, stopping, turning and maybe even a short canter. 

The ride took us through the countryside...where we saw iguanas and a few Mayan structures.  Clinton was a great guide...but soon the ride ended.   We each had a drink (Ray a Corona and I had Pepsi) before we boarded our air conditioned taxi for another wild ride back to the ship.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Way to Go, Audrey and Cooper!

I was not involved in organized sports when I was young.  We lived out in the country and spent most of our times riding bikes or playing games made up on the spot.  So, when I see young people particiapte in a sport a part of me is envious...such discipline...so much accomplished...and yet another part relieved that I was more of a free spirit riding Mr. Walker's cows.

Last month my niece, Audrey Beck, qualified to compete in the state swimming meet in Indianapolis, IN at the IUPUI Natorium for the 11-12 year old for girls.  She belongs to the Munster Swim Club and their team is called the Sea Horses.  Audrey qualified, along with the team, for the 200 Free, 50 Free, 100 Breaststroke, 200 Medley Relay, 50 Breaststroke, and the 100 & 200 Free Relay.   Wow!  That is a lot and got me tired just typing it all.

And...to add more to the family's busy schedule....Audrey's younger brother, Cooper was in his last acting class and having a performance on Saturday...the same day as Audrey's competition.  Cooper's mom, Becky and Grandma Linda stayed at home to see Cooper's performance.  Colby, their dad, took Audrey for the swimming competition...and everyone, including Aunt Claudia from Cincinnati, came to see the finals on Sunday, after Cooper's acting debut.  What talent!!!

So...it is with great admiration that I congratulate Audrey and her teammates.  They placed 7th at the State Championships in the 200 yard Medley Relay.  They also came in 3rd place in the 200 Free Relay!........and.....Audrey placed 10th in the 50 yard freestyle for 11-12 year old girls...and 9th in the 50 breaststroke!  I am so proud of her.  Here are a few pictures.
Munster Swim Club (Audrey is second from right.)
Audrey getting her "AAA" trophy with Olympian Chloe Sutton!
And look at Cooper!...he has a swimming trophy too!
I have a video of Cooper in his play...but can't get it on here.  Sorry, Cooper.  We are so very proud of you too!
If you want to read a fun story about Audrey....check Happy Thanksgiving.  Sorry, again, Cooper, you were just a baby then...so did not have much part in the story.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

YO! Triple Action Deluxe

How many of you have a yoyo nearby...or in a drawer...or in a box in the garage?  I remember a few times when I was young that to master the yoyo gave you a right to strut around,  yoyo in hand...always with a group of curious onlookers following you.   Ah...but the yoyo craze was replaced with Silly Putty which was replaced with  the hula hoop which was replaced by the Slinky.  All of these toy fads are cyclical and seem to return ' New and Better!'

But this post is about the yoyo.  I checked the website Duncan yo-yo Company and found a lot of trivia that I won't include here...but if you are curious...check it out.  Did you know the yo-yo is:

 The oldest surviving yo-yos have been tracked  to 500 BC. The yo-yos were terra cotta disks, decorated with paintings of mythological figures. Archeologists theorize that Ancient Greek kids gave these yo-yos as offerings at the appropriate temple, as part of a coming-of-age ceremony. A Greek vase from this period is painted with the image of a boy playing yo-yo. (taken from the website)

Those of you who know me or have followed my blog know that one of my very best friends and mentors...actually a member of the family is Rae LeCompte.  She is retired now...but was principal of the middle school where I was the counselor a number of years ago.  At one of our assemblies there was a pro yo-yo- guy...doing various tricks on his  Specialty De-luxxe Duncan Yo-yo, much to the fascination of the students.   He made one mistake....asking the principal (Rae) to come to the stage and try a couple of tricks...he would instruct her.  I have to smile at this part...because he was a bit arrogant...waiting for Rae to get all tangled in the string.  Rae, being in her 60s did not look like a yo-yo whiz.

She first refused the yo-yo he handed her and asked to use his.  Next the students saw their principal morph into her childhood when she had been a yo-yo champ.  She went beyond the "Sleeper", "Around the World" or "Walking the Dog" that the pro had shown.  After she warmed up on those she began "Rocking the Baby", "Three Leaf Clover" and her finale was the "Pinwheel."  The students went wild applauding and cheering.    The Pro overcame his shock and surprise with grace and held up Rae's hand in triumph.

Santa left a yo-yo in my husband, Ray's, stocking this Christmas.  I really wasn't surprised to see that he was quite good at handling the yo-yo.  I told him about Rae outsmarting the Yo-Yo Pro and we decided to take the yo-yo to Florida when we visited her in February.   She was able to do some tricks...but this yo-yo was not a Super Deluxe so it did not have the pizzazz.  Still, it was fun and we left the yo-yo there.  On our return home we stopped by a place called South of the Border (kind of a tourist trap but fun...maybe topic for another post).  There we found the Triple Action Yo-Yo.  It found its way into our van along with the bag of oranges.  We can't wait to take it to Rae to see what she can to with a super duper deluxe triple action yo-yo.  Get ready, Rae....it won't be long.