So an old lady walks into a hardware store…

… and she hands the man behind the cutting desk a slip of paper. On the paper are the dimensions for two pieces of plexiglass she needs to buy. The man wanders away and does his thing, eventually returning with her order. Embarrassed, she mumbles that she needed clear plexiglass, not blue.

No, this isn’t a joke, it really happened, and I was the old woman.

Sigh.

The guy behind the counter looked at me as if I had sprouted three more heads on my shoulders. If I had sprouted more heads perhaps one of them would have figured out that the plexiglass was clear, not blue. The blue was because of the plastic coating stuck on the plexiglass.

In my defense, there is such a thing as blue plexiglass. There’s even red, yellow, and green plexiglass, so stick that in your hat, Plexiglass-Cutter-Man.

Double sigh.

My 31-Day Gratitude Challenge

Check out the videos for the 31-Day Gratitude Challenge I held during the month of December.

Day 1 of the 31-Day Gratitude Challenge

As you know, I suffer from depression, and some days it’s difficult to get out of my own way. I figured a gratitude challenge was just the ticket to help me cope.

It worked! Cool.

Each day I found something for which I was grateful and I was able to find pockets of joy. Also, by sharing my journey with my viewers on YouTube I helped others find joy in their lives too.

Double cool

Go ahead and partake in the challenge on your own. Over the next thirty-one days open one of the videos and follow the gratitude prompt. If you participate during the a month with only thirty days, or twenty-eight for February, just double up a day or three.

Have some fun and remember to say thank you to the universe for all your joyful blessings.

Please share my video and the challenge with your family and friends; you’ll earn Karma chips.

Animal Antics

And now for a new segment to my blog: Animal Antics

I have a squirrel who figured out that by climbing the screen house – well, watch and see –

Not ones to be outdone, a couple of my Mallard hens decided to show the squirrel even ducks can perform antics fit for Cirque du Soleil performers.

The remains of my dead oak tree.
Two Mallard hens survey the river from high upon their perch.

So, that’s it. Not much else is going on with the other wildlife in my little corner of the Concord River, unless you count beautiful, gorgeous, brilliantly-colored Eastern bluebirds a truly amazing sight.

Cool.

Okay, I’m finished. I’ll leave you with a shot of the sun rising over my river.

Double cool.

Blessed be and Happy New Year. :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

According to biographers, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol as a commentary on the deplorable child labor conditions in England. You can read the history here. For now, let’s discuss the meaning of the story.

I’m sure you’re familiar with A Christmas Carol, especially the ending, when Scrooge is scampering around his bedroom as happy as an angel, as merry as a schoolboy, and as giddy as a drunken man.

The vision of George C. Scott’s wiggling legs aside, what is the lesson A Christmas Carol wanted to teach the reader? Before I go on, you must understand one thing…this is just my interpretation of the Dickens’ classic, but I like to believe Charles would nod and agree. I believe the moral of A Christmas Carol is that we can only find happiness when we tend our fellow travelers on this wonderful blue planet called Earth. I’m including animals along with people.

You see, Scrooge was happy not because he had been given time to make lots more money or squeeze more emotional blood from Bob Cratchit but to bring joy to others. To help others.

Remember the prize turkey in the butcher’s window?

Scrooge didn’t buy the turkey for himself. He didn’t dance around and sing ‘I’m going to eat turkey, yes I am.’ No. He sent the turkey to Bob. He gave freely and that brought him happiness. Dickens understood the science behind obtaining happiness long before psychologists studied happiness.

Here, let me allow his ghostly voice to say it best.

According to medical research, Scrooge probably lived for another thirty or forty years because he embarked on a journey of unselfish behavior. Okay, I’m stretching the year-factor, but you get the point. Check out this article: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you

It doesn’t take a ton of time or money to be kind. Performing a simple act of kindness each day will get you started and, as a reward, you’ll be happier than you are now. Honestly, are you happy right now or could you use more joy in your life? That new phone you’ve been wanting won’t do it. Nor will the new shoes, or the big house filled with (sorry, but let’s be honest) crap.

Here are five ways to get started:

  1. When you’re paying for your coffee pay for the person behind you too.
  2. Clean out your closet and donate gently used items to a local charity.
  3. Help your child select gently used toys he or she no longer plays with and donate the items to a homeless shelter.
  4. Purchase a bag of pet food and place it in the pet shelter bin located at your local market.
  5. Let a stranger go in front of you in line.

Notice money isn’t required for some of the things on the list. Or, horror, TIME, that constant excuse for not being able to do kind gestures; ‘I don’t have the time.’ Whine, whine, whine.

https://lauravanderkam.com/

Happiness, or joy if you prefer, is contagious. By doing something nice you’ll feel joy and you’ll spread that joy to others who will spread joy and soon the world will be a nicer place in which to live. There’s even a song to inspire you.

℗ 2010 Master Classics Records
Ghosts of Christmases Long Past

They dance around my chair
Mindless of the fire crackling in the grate
They twirl and spin
And sway

Each one adorned in Christmas finery
Bright reds
Sparkling golds
Rich greens

Each whisper of secrets long buried
Secrets better left alone
Tales from Christmases long past
My past

I hold many regrets from those days
Too few hands held
Too few cheeks kissed
Too few moments cherished

Scrooge would get it
'Dance with your ghosts,' he would tell me
Twirl and spin with them
For the ghosts are there to show you the Christmases of yet to come.

So, go out and make someone, or some animal, or the planet happy. And have a blessed Yule (or Christmas if you prefer) and may your ghosts be kind.

Blessed be. :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Damn, these rabbit holes!

I would love to type that I’m referring to the cute little critters who eat my flowers during the summer months …

… but I’m not.

The rabbit hole I’m referencing is the type those of us with depression fall into on a regular basis. In fact, some people, yours truly to be exact, spend a great deal of time wandering around in the dark. If I do manage to drag my sorry butt out something usually happens to knock me right back in.

Photo by Filipe Delgado from Pexels

Case in point, today I put my last elderly cat to sleep. Cleopatra, Cleo to those who knew her, was 16 and, sigh, had cancer. She died in my arms while a compassionate veterinarian stood by. Thank you, Dr. Wharrie.

Bye, Cleo.

One more pet sent over the Rainbow Bridge and one more day spent bumping into things (I’m speaking metaphorically; keep up!). Seriously, have you ever stopped to think just how dark it is in a rabbit hole. No windows, no skylights, no recessed lighting, nothing except an inky blackness.

Today should have been a day of rejoicing. You see, it’s the Winter Solstice, the first day of Yule, the returning of the light, but, nope, life had to go and get in the way, sticking out its frigging foot so that I tripped and tumbled into — I know, you get it and enough with the metaphors.

Okay, since Yule covers a 12 day period, do you mind if I end this post and come back in a day or two? You see, I’m really, really sad.

Blessed be :{

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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The Anniversary

Marked by years
That pass too soon
Counted by heartbeats
And measured by tears

If I could
If I held the power
I would stall time
So this day would never come

Losing you
Was hard
Is hard
Will always be hard

Weeks
Days
Moments
Breaths

You are gone
Sadness has taken your place
Another year
You are missed

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

Dear Reader,

Here is another shameful plug for my small book of poetry. All the proceeds from the sale of my book will be donated to Ovations for the Cure, a cancer awareness organization that helps women struggling with ovarian cancer. Please consider purchasing my book or at least making a donation directly to Ovations for the Cure. Your kindness won’t go unappreciated by the Universe, and me. Blessed be :}

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The Circle Continues

The Circle of Life is a concept that many people know about. It speaks to the recycling of living tissue, both plant and animal, to death and back to another life form. Grass (or in my case garden mums) to rabbits to snakes or hawks to bacteria and back to grass (or mums) again.

Darn rabbits, leave my mum alone!!

What the Circle of Life doesn’t or shouldn’t include is a transformer.

No, not that type of transformer.
Bingo!

You see, we had a wind-driven rainstorm a couple of days ago and the transformer located at the top of a nearby electrical pole blew, emanating a loud zapping POP! My house lost power for about five minutes but then the lights came back and my life continued without missing a beat. Sadly, much to my ignorance, the zapping POP resulted in death. Today my neighbor came to tell me there was a dead hawk at the base of the electrical pole.

It was a beautiful Cooper’s Hawk and I believe it’s the one that’s been hanging around at the top of my trimmed oak tree. (see my YouTube Short below)

My neighbor and I used sage and conducted a blessing ceremony for the beautiful bird, hoping to send its energy soaring free. We placed it in a plastic tub, also cleansed with sage, and at present the hawk’s body resides in my basement while I wait to hear from Christine or Ashley, the Billerica Animal Control officers. I don’t know if I can bury the body or if Fish and Wildlife will want to record information about its weight, etc. Soooo, in my basement it will stay for at least another day.

My Cooper’s Hawk was stunning; a truly regal bird of prey. But he, or she, is no more.

My Cooper’s Hawk

Go ahead, tell me it’s all part of the Circle of Life and I’ll scoff, again pointing out man-made items shouldn’t be part of the circle. Mother Nature didn’t allow for things like cars, boats, guns, and transformers.

Once again, not that type of transformer.

I’m sure, in time, another hawk will move in and take over population control. Until then the squirrels in my yard can party like rock stars.

Now that’s what the Circle of Life is all about.

Blessed be. :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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It’s all relative.

According to sciencedirect.com, relative humidity of the air is defined as the ratio of the vapor pressure of the air to its saturation vapor pressure.

Confused?

I am too. Basically, all you need to know is humidity sucks. There you go. Simple enough?

So, I guess you’re going to ask why I’m still discussing humidity when it’s Autumn, the time of year when the air is crisp and cool.

NOT!

It sucks outside. Right now, at this moment in time, 6:17 PM on October 10, 2021, the humidity is 92%. Now, I’m not sure if that’s relative humidity but it’s uncomfortable as heck and it’s making me very crabby.

I’m sick of this stinking humidity!!

Moving on. I saved a turtle yesterday. The people in my neighborhood drive like Elsie Ave. is a racetrack and they leave flattened turtles in their wake. However, yesterday I managed to save a little snapping turtle. Yea, me.

Okay, now I feel better.

But seriously, if the humidity sticks around much longer I might just run into the river screaming.

Blessed be. :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Creature Comforts

Imagine an eerie sound waking you from a sound sleep. That’s what happened a few nights ago. The time was around 1:30 AM and, as already mentioned, I was fast asleep, dreaming of my two favorite men, no doubt — Ben and Jerry, when out from the dark night came a high-pitched cry.

Listen…

What could be making that so very strange call, you ask? Well, it’s a juvenile Great Horned Owl calling out to Mama or Papa for a tasty mouse. ‘I’m hungry; feed me.’


Scott Ramos caught a much better video of the little guy/gal in action. Of course Scott was catching the action during the day, not in the dead of night, so give me some credit for being alert enough to grab my phone and hit record.

Great Horned Owls aren’t the only creatures that have been spending time in my corner of the Concord River. I have a plethora of yellowjackets lately and let me tell you, they are stinking nasty. I was stung three times in August; twice at one time! Man, I’m not a big fan of yellowjackets.

The wild rabbits are also kicking up some dust in my garden. They seem to think I planted the tall phlox for their own enjoyment. Even my mums are falling victim to these wascally wabbits.

You can see the stems from my phlox by the little guy’s feet. Damn varmints.

Other creatures include my Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds…

and American Goldfinches.

Don’t let their cute faces fool you; even the Goldfinches snack on my plants.

“Who, me?”

The butterflies have been enjoying the bounty of my garden.

Tiger Swallowtail

Also added to the mix are a Hummingbird Moth and Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Hummingbird Moth top left; Black Swallowtail (cool) top right; Tiger Swallowtails at the bottom.
Top view of Black Swallowtail Butterfly

And I was treated to a rare daytime view of a Polyphemus Moth. Did you know the Polyphemus Moth is named after Polyphemus, the giant cyclops from Greek mythology? Well, now you do.

AKA Silkworm Moth

Want more fascinating creatures?

How about a white-breasted Mallard hen?

Mallard Hen, sort of, I guess.

I found a pitiful looking cicada while out walking Harlee.

The poor thing was near dead (the cicada, not Harlee). I placed him in a clump of vegetation (again, the cicada, not Harlee), blessed him (cicada!!) and went on my way (with Harlee).

Let’s see, who else has crossed my path? Does a heart-shaped slime mold count as a creature?

That pretty much wraps up the creatures that have visited me this past month. I don’t know about you but I am glad August is over. September, please be kind.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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In Case You Were Wondering

You heard about Elsa, correct?

No, not that Elsa. I’m referring to Tropical Storm Elsa.

Photo courtesy of: https://www.nbcnews.com

Yeah, that’s the one. Well she skirted along the edge of my little corner of the world and dumped close to 12 inches of rain.

As result when too much water enters the Concord River it rises, which results in it spreading my way. Water follows the path of least resistance, as I am sure you know, and that path leads right into my neighbor’s yard…

and onto my property as well. It’s a good thing my Sixteen Candles likes his feet, ankles, knees, thighs, and hips wet.

My Sixteen Candles, hip-deep in water.

The ducks enjoyed not having to walk very far to reach my grass and the cracked corn.

My irises weren’t too happy sitting in water. There’s a saying that Bearded irises like their feet wet but their knees dry, meaning the roots should stay moist but the tubers dry. Well, these irises have wet feet and knees.

Flooding along my retaining wall. My poor irises.

I’m not sure my Nantucket Blue hydrangea enjoyed standing in water. Hydrangeas like moist soil but soggy, wet soil…ummm, not so much.

My Nantucket Blue hydrangea sitting in water.

My basement got a teensy bit wet but the sump pump handled the seepage. (Thank you, Bob, for fixing my sump pump this past spring.) All in all, things could have been much worse. I’m blessed that I haven’t seen flooding like the level that occurred in 2010.

My house in 2010.

My fingers and toes are crossed, double crossed, and triple crossed that I don’t see this kind of flooding any time soon.

Now on to more thrilling news. I managed to get a shot of a hummingbird. The little guys, and gals, have been elusive of late but patience does pay off.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

As long as I’m on the topic of patience, I got a wonderful video of my Great Blue Heron hunting chipmunks. That’s right, chipmunks! Who knew herons had a hankering for mammal meat? (Warning: video contains graphic footage of Mother Nature in action.)

That’s it for me. I have nothing else to tell you.

And in case you’re wondering…it’s raining today. Argh!

Blessed be :]

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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Time to Say Goodbye

Here’s another riddle for you — when is a Meadow Vole not a Meadow Vole?

It’s okay, take your time, I’ll wait.

Ready?

Stumped you, haven’t I?

Okay, here’s the answer, a Meadow Vole is not a Meadow Vole when it’s a Muskrat!

Have you figured out where I’m going with this? Yup, my little rescue Meadow Vole …

Little River when I first found him.

… is actually a Muskrat. Who knew?

It wasn’t until he started growing into his fur and face that I figured it out.

Here’s a little bit about muskrats. Muskrats are found in wetlands in a variety of locations. They’re medium-sized, which is relative, I guess. Depends on what you’re comparing them to I would imagine. Anyway, they’re native to North America and are now found in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America.

An adult muskrat weighs around four pounds, give or take a few ounces, and releases a strong musky odor, thus the name. Very clever.

Muskrats are rodents and are related to rats, mice, voles (hey!), gerbils, hamsters, and lemmings.

They’re a social animals and live in colonies with other muskrats, which brings me back to my little guy, who needed to be with other muskrats and not in a cage in my basement, although he did seem happy as he ate his piece of watermelon each morning. However, he needed to stick with his own kind.

Betcha can’t name the movie this photo is from?

I was out walking Harlee and the Billerica Animal Control Officer, Christine (an extremely lovely woman), stopped her truck and we visited for a bit. I mentioned my rescue and she explained there are rescue associations that rehabilitate wild animals to help them return to their natural environments. Why I didn’t remember this I couldn’t say. When I was in my early twenties I worked for an Audubon sanctuary in Milton, MA, and I was trained in rehabilitation and assisted with the release program. But I digress…

Soooooo, long story short, River is now living at Newhouse Wildlife Rescue located in Chelmsford.

From their website:  “We are a home run wildlife rehab facility in Chelmsford Massachusetts. We are run by volunteers and are dedicated to providing the highest standard of care to injured or orphaned local wildlife in the area. Our organization is also dedicated to educating the public, whenever  possible, on how to coexist with the wild animals that surround us. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful community supporting us. It has kept us strong and has allowed us to save the lives of so many animals in need.”

Okay, so that’s the end of the riddle and just the beginning of River’s story. Someday he’ll meet a nice female muskrat and they’ll have little baby muskrats.

Maybe they’ll come by for a visit.

A happy ending indeed. Thank you, Christine, and thank you Newhouse.

River, 2021

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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When is a Mole not a Mole?

When it’s a Vole!

Illustration courtesy of https://www.thespruce.com/

Now comes the hard question — ready? When is a Vole a Meadow Vole? Ahhh, stumped you. That’s okay, I didn’t know the difference until I started writing this post. The answer is quite easy. A Meadow Vole is a Meadow Vole and not a regular Vole, which is also called a Woodland Vole by the way, when it (the Meadow Vole — keep up for pity sake) has fur colors ranging from yellowish to blackish brown AND has a long tail; one to two to two-and-a-half inches in length. Woodland Moles, also called Pine Voles, have shorter tails and less variety in coloration. There you have it.

Where am I going with this? Well, it’s actually a funny story. You see the other day, okay, the other early evening, around sixish I decided to take Harlee for a walk. Truthfully, I was already in my jammies and dreaming of a gin and tonic but Harlee was giving me that look. You know the look I’m referring to if you have a dog. It’s the ‘Take me out, please,’ look.

Yup, that’s the look.

It mattered little to my canine companion that I was already showered and in my PJs. Nope, it was walk time in his book and, I must admit, the weather was a pleasing sixty-nine Fahrenheit. So, I donned a lightweight jacket over my pajamas, put on my sneakers, and off we went.

We got as far as River Street when Harlee spied something tucked against the sidewalk curb. At first I thought it was a black sock but it turned out to be covered in black, shiny fur and frozen in fear, which is not how socks tend to behave. Harlee gave the impression he thought it was an after-dinner snack.

I wrangled him into submission and inspected the little creature. To me it looked like an immature rat. Whatever it was I refused to leave it in the street where it might get squished. Did I mention that it’s eyes weren’t even open? It was a young whatever it was, that was for sure.

Doing what any self-respecting Earth Witch would do, I removed my jacket and wrapped the little fellow, or gal, I hadn’t checked that far, and Harlee and I walked back home, my PJs visible for all of Elsie Ave to see and Harlee keeping his eyes on my jacket because it contained his snack.

We arrived home and I put Little River, that’s his name and ta-da, it’s a male, in a box with some sweet meadow hay that I use for Isabella’s litter box. I added a bowl of water and called it a day. My gin and tonic was waiting.

The next day I spent time working in the gardens and I had Isabella in her outside pen and I brought River’s box outside. I inspected him closely and discovered, to my horror, that he had a tick on the side of his head. I tugged at the disgusting bloodsucker but it wouldn’t budge. I’m embarrassed to write I was actually tugging at River’s ear.

Photo courtesy of https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/pest-control/vole-damage-lawns/

I dare you to tell me that ear doesn’t look like a swollen tick. Double dare you.

Moving on.

River is still alive after three days. Not bad considering my track record with trying to save injured critters. Remember Little Ducky?

duckling - mallard - duck - animal - bird
Little Ducky from Summer 2018.

I’m sensing a pattern here — Little Ducky, Little River … hmmmmmmm.

Okay, as of tonight Little River is still alive and nestled in the cage my friend Bob donated. River drinks from his water dish and nibbles on seeds. He seems in good spirits despite having his ear almost ripped off his little head and enjoys sleeping on his back under the heat lamp.

Now comes the big question: what do I do with River when he’s fully healed? Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention his back legs are questionable. I can only imagine he was dragged from his family nest by a hawk and got dropped onto River Street from mid-air. Or, dragged from his family nest by a carnivore or cat, although there are no puncture marks and no dried blood. Truthfully, I can’t imagine how a young Vole, eyes still closed, got from his family nest to River Street but he did.

So, what would you do?

Little River

Oh, and his ear is fine.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

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