Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Arnold of Squirrels

  We had a new visitor to our bird feeder a few weeks back. Or maybe he wasn't new. It could just be that we started to notice him because he was unusual. This squirrel had the best upper body development I'd ever seen on a rodent. He looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger from his body building days. The pecs and biceps on this squirrel were incredible! And why would that be? The poor little thing had to drag himself along by his little squirrel arms. His back legs didn't seem to work. He sort of pushed with one of them, but for the most part his back half just dragged behind him. I felt so bad for him. But he seemed healthy enough. He looked strong and fuzzy. He was even getting himself up onto the bird seed platform, although he sometimes needed a few tries. I thought of maybe making him a little squirrel wheelchair, or a sled, but I didn't think he's let me strap it on.

Sadly though, I haven't seen him in a week now. I'm guessing the weather, cats or other squirrels may have done him in. Poor little dude!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Because What Fourth Grader Doesn't Want to be Toast for Halloween?

 So for Halloween Doodlebug was Domo. If you're not familiar with Domo he's a big fuzzy brown square-ish monster. He's the official mascot of Japan's public broadcaster. You can read about him here. And I've blogged about Domo before -here and here.
Anyway, a few years back I made an awesome (if I do say so myself) costume out of foam board, duct tape and fuzzy brown fabric. It's like trick-or-treating in a huge cereal box. But Doodlebug loves it and gets lots of compliments. The candy goes into the mouth where there is a box to hold it and it's nice and cozy inside, protected from the elements.
There are a few downsides though -
A few people tried to jam the candy through the eye slot. Ouch! I told Doodlebug if they do that, he just needs to grab it with his teeth.

It gets rather heavy when the candy builds up. It has shoulder straps inside, and when there is 10 pounds of candy in the mouth hatch, it puts some pressure on the shoulders. Doodlebug suggested some memory foam for the shoulder straps next year.

And for those who are not familiar with Domo and who do not recognize the big red mouth and white teeth as being from a monster, he may look a bit like toast. Two years in a row, the same house complimented him on his 'toast' costume.

Because what fourth grader doesn't want to be toast for halloween?


Friday, November 22, 2013

Like a Tiny Furry Pole Dancer

 I have a bird feeder that gets regular visits from many varieties of birds, squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional rabbit or groundhog. Usually the chipmunks, rabbits and groundhogs stay beneath the feeder, gathering up all the fallen bits, while the birds and squirrels take full advantage of the area and eat from both the feeder itself and the ground underneath. Occasionally we see an ambitious chipmunk scale the birdfeeder pole and balance at the very top, but they can't quite ever manage to get to the feeder itself without sliding down the pole like a tiny furry pole dancer.
Until this morning.

I must say, I was rather disheartened when I looked out the window and saw that a chipmunk had managed to reach the seeds in the feeder. Not because I don't like to share with the rodents. And not because I was worried about him falling off. It's because he was INSIDE the bird-feeder, doing a headstand, unmoving, on a 20 degree morning. I thought for sure he was an icemunk. I went outside, figuring I would be removing his cold dead corpse from the feeder. Sure enough, his eyes were closed. But then I noticed he was breathing! Hooray! He was still alive.

I took the feeder down and carefully tipped it, trying to slide him out. He eyed me suspiciously and held on tight. So I shook it gently, then not so gently, trying to knock his fuzzy little butt out of the feeder. But that wasn't working. He was way at the bottom with a perch behind him - he must have squeezed past it so shaking him down wasn't going to work. So I reached into one of the seed-holes and poked his tail with my fingers and told him to get out. So he did.

He turned around, paused at the bird-feeding cup, then dashed out right between me and Doodlebug. I know chipmunks are really really fast, but wow! I have never seen a critter move that fast before! He dashed away - hopefully back to his nest to snuggle up with his chipmunk buddies, to wash my foul stench off his tail and to complain bitterly about the traps we've laid for them on the deck.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For a Cat She's Alright

Here's the Dutchess. Doesn't she look sweet? Don't let that fool you. She's still a cat. She has claws. And teeth.

But to give her a little credit, she rarely uses those teeth and claws. For a cat she's pretty cool. 

Do you think she's actually looking out onto the deck at the birds and chipmunks? Or do you think she's just admiring her own reflection in the glass? I think the latter. She is a cat afterall.


Monday, November 18, 2013

A Bit of Glare

Here's a terrible photo of something else I've been working on. More paint, some thread, some sand and a bit of glare. :)


Friday, November 15, 2013

A Kaleidoscope of Color

I've been busy lately. Got out the ink, water and paints. Experimenting with color. I'm really liking my new 'crafty corner'. Here's a bit of what I've been working on:


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Slice of Ice Cream With a Scoop of Cake

This may well be the absolutely ugliest, most poorly executed cake I've ever made:
It's Finn, from Adventure Time. In ice cream and colored whipped topping. Beautiful, eh? Ok, not so much.

But the well-planned, rainbow, marble cake didn't do a very good job of coming out of the pan. In fact, it was reduced to crumbs. Both layers. So, we had a slice of ice cream with a scoop of cake at this party. Whatever works!

And it was pretty darn tasty, so who cares what it looks like, right?


Monday, November 11, 2013

Picking Up Trash . . . And Finding a Use For It

  Hey, you know those little metal things you find on the side of the road? They are about pen length, flat, a half a centimeter across or so.

Well, this year I figured out what they are. It only took me 40 years. They are bristles from the street sweepers! I was so excited when I figured that out! I've been seeing those things in the road for years and years and years. I may be the only person who didn't know what they were. Or more likely, I'm probably the only person who noticed the darn things at all. And I can never stop myself from picking them up. I had quite a stash of them. Well, I actually found a use for them. That's right!

And did I use them for something useful? Like cleaning toilets? Or holding something important together? Or to entertain family and friends? No! I used them in an even better way - to make art! I got out paper, paints, thread, glue, street sweeper bristles and whipped up a series of three paintings. Here's some really bad photos of part of them:

I really like them! And I have some bristles left over for something else. I'm just waiting for inspiration to strike.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Confused Upon Waking

  Isn't that the prettiest little moth (or is it a butterfly?) you've ever seen? We found it sleeping on a leaf and took it for a walk around the park. When it woke, it was very confused. We'd moved it quite a distance. Hopefully it didn't mind too much.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Let Your Imagination Take Flight

  Here's another picture from that recent trip to a local park. I'm not even sure what to say about this one. I could go so many ways. So, I'll just keep my thoughts to myself and won't taint your imaginings with my thoughts. Let your imagination take flight in whatever direction it is wont to go.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Love Sticks in the Woods

On a recent trip to a local park we saw some love sticks. What?? Yes, love sticks. Like this:

I thought it was so sweet I just had to take a picture! The family thought I was crazy for taking a picture of it since I have no idea who these people are. But hey, it's the idea people! Isn't it sweet and romantic?


Friday, November 1, 2013

Mickey Moss and his Moss Buns

We recently visited a local park and saw a few cool things. Here's one of them. It's Mickey Moss!

Which reminded me of another moss picture that I don't believe I posted. It's moss buns!



Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

RIP Sandy

  Remember sweet little Sandy? Well, he's passed onto the great gerbil home in the sky. We know he's up there, frolicking in fields and rolling in sand with his brother Snow-belly. We were sorry to see him go but he had a long life for a gerbil - about 4 years. You can't ask for more than that. He was pretty cheerful right up until the end although I could tell he was having trouble getting comfortable, what with the sleeping in strange places, strange positions and all the tipping over. We buried him out back with the other assorted rodents and fish. Then Doodlebug and I said some nice words over his grave. He'll live forever in our hearts.

Doodlebug arranged some willow sticks (some of Sandy's favorites to chew on) into RIP over his grave:

Monday, October 28, 2013

As Tasty as Paper Fruit

So I've been very creative lately. I rearranged my art station yet again. It's closer to the main family action (and therefore easier to slip in and work for 5 minutes here and there) yet, I have it cordoned off so it's not particularly easy to get into and not easy to see me when I'm holed up in there. All walled off in the back quarter of the guinea pig's room / music conservatory / backup pantry / catchall room for stuff, aka the room previously known as the dining room.

I have some work surfaces, storage for my stuff, a radio. What more could you want?

Here's one of the things I made:

Yes, it's a fruit bowl and fruit. Made out of paper. I know. Who makes things like that? Apparently I do. It was fun. I don't know what I'll do with it now that it's done, but I like it. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

Like a Cherry Cordial, but with a Fly Center

You know what's disgusting? Finding a big fat black house fly floating in your coffee. That's what.

As you may know I'm not a big fan of bugs, but I'm not a complete wimp about them either. At least not all bugs. I'll pick up earthworms and let ladybugs walk on my hands. I'll pet woolly bear caterpillars, admire large slugs

and even be somewhat delighted by large green katydids walking up my stomach.

But something about a large housefly doing the backstroke in my coffee really turned my stomach.

You see, I poured myself a nice cup of coffee from the big urn at work. Then I poured in a bit of sugar from the sugar canister. I didn't think much of the lump of sugar when it plunked in. Sugar lumps happen. And usually they are tasty. But when the sugar lump has a fly center, like a corrupt, mutant cherry cordial, it's kinda gross. I carried my coffee down to my desk, took off the lid, poured in a bit of creamer and stirred it up. And a big fat black house fly floated up to the surface, no longer camouflaged in sugar crystals.

It took my mind a minute to process that it was actually a large insect floating in my much-anticipated morning beverage. I poked it several times with the coffee stirrer, watching its bloated, dead body, translucent wings, six legs and bulging eyes bob up and down.

I then carefully covered my mug again and returned to the break room. I dumped it down the drain and spent the next 15 minutes scrubbing my coffee mug and vowing never, ever, ever, ever, ever to use the sugar canister again. (I have a history with those things anyway).

Then I poured myself a fresh cup sans sugar and took it to my desk, trying to tell myself that I had scrubbed every fly molecule out of that cup. I wasn't quite convinced despite the elbow grease I had applied, the sore muscles I had acquired and the mounds of soapy bubbles I left behind in the break room sink. But I stirred it several times and nothing gross bobbed to the surface. I added some sugar from my own stash in my drawer (that sugar stash is a whole blog post in itself - maybe I'll tell you about it sometime). I stirred it several more times. It seemed safe. I tentatively took a sip. No legs. No wings. At least not that I could detect with my taste buds or my tongue.

I finished the cup with nary an incident, but I may not ever be able to drink coffee with quite the same carefree aplomb again. Damn fly!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dunkable, Drizzlable, Delicious

  So I finally got a chocolate fountain. I know I know, what took me so long, right? I mean, a chocolate fountain! Flowing with sweet, chocolately goodness! How could I have gone so long without one. I even managed to find one with a timer so each morning at 6AM it starts up and I wake to the smell and sounds of trickling chocolate drizzling down.

Ok, so the timer and the morning chocolate are just a dream, but I did get a chocolate fountain.

For the last few birthday parties we set that baby up with an array of dunkable, drizzlable, tasty treats - cookies, pretzels, strawberries, Krispie treats, cake, marshmallows, potato chips. I have to say, a Krispie treats dunked in chocolate is one of the most delicious things ever. EVER! Really!

In any case, a chocolate fountain is an incredible invention! The only downside was that I grossed out all the guests when I stuck my face under the fountain and just drank it straight up. It was messy, but wow! That was delicious!


Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Wooly Bear Season

  Don't you just love wooly bear caterpillar season? Me too! I've seen quite a few so far this year.

The other day while I was at Dunkin' Donuts getting myself several donuts some coffee, I ran into one crossing the sidewalk. I think he wanted some coffee but I'm not sure. In any case, the ducklings and I took him for a little ride. We didn't think he was safe on the rowdy sidewalks of Dunkin' Donuts, so we drove him over to the mall and let him go in some nice big fluffy bushes. He seemed very happy.

Then I ran into another in the backyard. He was strolling across the grass, all fuzzy and cute. I brought him in the house for a short visit with the ducklings, then let him go in the willow tree. He really took off up the trunk! He was a caterpillar on a mission!

And of course I've seen plenty crossing the road. Just the other day Sweet Pea and I were driving along the highway and I said, "Oh no! I hope I didn't run him over?"

"Who?" asked Sweet Pea, looking at me quizzically.
"The wooly bear caterpillar. Didn't you see him?"

I think she thought I was crazy. Who sees caterpillars crossing the road when you're going 70 mph?

I do, that's who! I hope I didn't squish him!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Click! There He Goes!

There was a funny little bug trapped in the sink the other day. He was a tiny brown oblong beetle who apparently couldn't fly. He also wasn't able to get himself up the sides of the sink. He'd get halfway up, then slide back down. He circled the sink, exploring every inch of it, but everytime he got about 4 inches up the side, down he'd go again. But the best part was when he climbed halfway up, rolled down and landed on his back.

Now, I'm not saying that just because I'm cruel and like to watch bugs suffer. Not at all. I don't like to watch bugs suffer. Even the icky ones. I say that because it was very entertaining. Let me tell you why:

He didn't just wiggle, arch his back and flop over like some bugs. He also didn't just lay there and give up. So what did he do? He make a nice little click and popped up into the air about 6 inches. I saw him do it several times. It was very endearing.

And after a bit of research I discovered he was a click beetle. He can fly, but is apparently too lazy to do so, so instead he circles the sink for hours and days on end. And when he finds himself stranded on his back - CLICK! - there he goes! So cute!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Spider Smashing Stick

The other day I mentioned my contraption fence that I put around the tomato plants. I'm hopeful that it will keep the groundhogs out. But I know it won't keep the spiders out.

I know for a fact that the spiders like tomato cages. They can make some very elaborate webs in those things. And I'm sure that now that I have these tomato cages all clustered together it will create new opportunities for web building. For the sake of the anticipated tomato picking I left a path of sorts between the pots. I have to step over a pot here and there, but it's navigable. At least until the spiders get their webs strewn across the path with the hopes of catching me unprepared. I would make quite a meal.

So, I've got my spider beating stick at the ready. I plan to use it for sweeping webs out of the way, but if it comes down to it, I can use it for spider smashing too.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Munchin' on Tomatoes

I decided to be proactive. Not too long ago I mentioned that I have some tomato plants and that so far they are untouched by the groundhog family that lives in the yard. But I just know as soon as the tomatoes turn red, they will be fair game for the varmints. So, I got out my tools and my cable ties, chicken wire and fence bits and got to work. After a few scratches, a bit of sweat, a few mosquito bites and minimal swearing, I was done. Voila:

I checked and double checked and don't think the critters can get in. (Not easily anyway). My lettuce and tomatoes are safely wrapped in wire.

I know I'm being very optimistic. I know that critters are very resourceful, but I'm hopeful. However, I fully expect to go out onto the deck someday and find all 5 of the little buggers trapped INside the fencing, happily munching tomatoes.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Fuzzy Umbrella

The other day it was raining. But despite the rain, there were several squirrels on the deck with their faces in the birdseed. Every single squirrel had his tail up over his back and head like a fuzzy little umbrella. It was very cute! It was hard to get a good picture of it with the rain and all, but here's one of them:


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hansel! You Evil Little Kitty!

I have two seemingly unrelated subjects to discuss today. But at the end of this post you will see that although the topics seem unrelated, they will tie together nicely at the end. Just wait.

We have a freezer in the basement. We mostly use it to hold ice cream - lots and lots of ice cream. But it also holds the occasional loaf of bread, chunk of hamburger, bag of french fries, tub of homemade spaghetti sauce or unidentifiable frozen lump. It's one of those chest freezers so sometimes getting things out of the bottom can be a challenge, but for the most part we are very happy with it.

On to topic #2.

Sometimes I wonder exactly what the cat thinks of me. I grew up with dogs and with dogs you know where you stand. But with cats it's different. You can be petting her one minute as she rolls around and purrs and looks all happy and then the next minute she's shredding your hand like an industrial food processor going after a chunk of mozzarella cheese. She never comes when you call and when she even deigns to acknowledge that you spoke to her at all, it's to give you a disdainful look - 'yeah dumb-ass. I heard you'' and then she wanders away. She rarely seeks out affection, but will occasionally allow us to pet her if we do it right.

I get some satisfaction when little miss graceful races up the basement stairs for some catty purpose and trips over one of her many feet. She always tries to look like she either meant to do it, or pretends it never happened at all. But I know that under all that fur she is blushing like a mad-woman. And I will snicker and ask if she's OK in a sweet voice. She just prances on by.

Now this is where the two subjects come together.

I was in the basement the other day and I opened the freezer. Of course what I wanted was at the very bottom so I was digging down through the various boxes of ice cream with my head in the freezer and my rump in the air when she jumped up next to me to investigate. I glanced over and she was sniffing at the various boxes and bags and chunks of ice. So I went back to work digging through the contents.

Then, the next thing I know she's leapt to the top of the freezer door and with every muscle in her little kitty body she closed that freezer door right on me! And not only that, she then leapt onto my protruding rump and tried to shove me into the freezer! I actually felt her paws (and claws) as she launched herself off my lower back, shoving with all her evil kittiness.

All of a sudden I knew how she felt about me. I knew exactly how she felt about me. I am the evil witch from Hansel and Gretel. I am the crone who confines her in the house, not letting her outside to eat play with the birds and chipmunks. I am the prison guard who controls the food like a greedy hag - only doling out the gravy-soaked kitty chow when I feel like it.

And I had to be disposed of. Mwah ha ha ha.

Of course I shrieked and pulled myself out of the bowels of the freezer, thankful that my butt was big enough to anchor me to the ground outside the freezer, otherwise, where would I be then I ask you? Exactly, just like the witch, but frozen instead of cooked. "Hansel!" I shrieked. "I mean, Dutchess! You evil little kitty!"

But of course, she pretended that nothing had happened and that I imagined the whole thing. She sat and calmly cleaned her ears.

Let me tell you, I now watch my back very closely when I'm baking cookies.


Monday, July 1, 2013

And Time Slowed Down

So there I was, just sitting on the living room floor, minding my own business. I was surrounded by my recipe binders as I struggled to reorganize them. The cookie and dessert recipes were taking over and had busted out of their existing binders so it was time to do a bit of cleanup. But that's not what this long-winded, boring tale is about. It's about the the feathery-legged, squirming, skittering critter that appeared from under the couch and made a mad dash right toward me.

I was in no condition to move quickly. I was surrounded by recipes. I was sitting on the floor, legs splayed out awkwardly, recipes balanced on my shins and thighs. But even though I was in no condition to move quickly, the adrenaline must have kicked in because I did move quickly, perhaps  more quickly than I have ever moved in my life. I leapt to my feet in a single graceful movement, recipes flying around me like butterflies, or like blood geysers in a slow-motion Quentin Tarrantino scene. I danced across the carpet as the critter advanced, still making a beeline for me despite the flailing limbs and shrieking.

The entire world slowed down. The recipes continued their slow upward and outward flight. The hubby rose from his chair like a satiated lion slowly rising its head from the grasses of an African savannah to watch a passing gazelle. My hand slowly moved outward, pointing to the critter that now seemed to be advancing like a snail across the carpet in a world slowed down.

I pulled my foot back as if moving through molasses and the critter oozed over the vacant footprint where my foot has been moments before, carpet fibers still springing back as it crossed the depression.

I landed across the room in a crouch, knees bending to take the impact, arms outspread,every nerve tingling as if covered in thousands of centipedes. And as I landed, all at once the recipes fluttered to the rug, the hubby turned his head, the critter skittered beneath the couch and my shrieks echoed and reverberated off the walls, fading into silence. It was gone. Beneath the couch. There would be no finding it now.

But I'm sure it will show its face, and its legs again. When I least expect it I'm sure