Yesterday, I heard Spring singing.

Tufted titmouse, singing his mating song.

She used a Tufted titmouse to carry her song and I must say it was melodic and truly magical.

Spring is coming!

Okay, I may be jumping the gun a bit however I need to get out of my house and start digging in the dirt. I need to work in my gardens! I neeeeeeeeed to. Really, really, really neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed to. I’m going batty in my self-imposed COVID lockdown.

Two days ago the country hit the half-million mark for COVID deaths. February 23, 2021. Deaths that shouldn’t have happened but did. Lives lost that shouldn’t have been lost. Tears shed that shouldn’t have been shed. May they all soar among the stars.

The Empire State Building lit in “heartbeat” red as part of a national memorial to lives lost to COVID-19. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

May all the birds sing at the top of their lungs to help us remember that life can be glorious.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, May, 2018.

Blessed be :{

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Pocket Had a Hole In It

Well, it seems my pocket of joy had a hole at the bottom because all my joy leaked out. Today I sent my cat of 18 years to that great lap in the sky.

Shadow. August 2002 to February 2021.

Shad was a great cat. He loved to bask in the sun and loved, loved, loved laps. When my sister was staying with me while recovering from her stroke Shadow spent many a sunny afternoon snoozing on her lap. (I took a picture but that was before I knew to upload to the cloud and that phone is sitting at the bottom of the Concord River along with the other two phones.)

Shad and Harlee enjoying some time in the sunshine.

There’s a funny story about Shadow. When he was around a year old he developed a UTI. A really bad one. My husband and Chris were down south at the drag races and I was left to tend to the homestead. I brought Shad to the animal clinic and received a quote of $2000.00 to treat the infection. Like a dutiful wife, I called my ex (emphasis on ‘ex’) who told me to put Shadow down.

With a heavy heart I said I would and told the hospital staff my decision. Not a second later I changed my mind and paid the bill. Several days later my Shad came home and, as you can surmise from the above paragraph, got rid of the husband.

Shadow keeping a spot warm for me in bed.

Shad was with me through seven moves. Yes, seven. Seven new locations for his litter box. He always knew the best spots to nap, though, and always found my lap. Over the years I’ve cried into his soft fur, laughed while stroking his ears, and brushed him while listening to his sage advice, which was invariably for me to take a nap in the sunshine.

For the past two years it was touch and go with trips to the vet and special foods, including baby food, ground ham, pulverized turkey, senior bisque for cats — the list grew and grew as Shad wasted away. But just when I expected he wasn’t long for this world he would pull a life out of his magic bag of tricks. I swear Shadow had a ton of lives, not just nine. I stopped counting at 20.

Damn, I’ll miss my buddy.

Shadow doing what he did best — napping in the sun.

I hope he’s napping on Dyan’s lap. Blessed be :{

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pockets of Joy

I am confident it won’t come as any surprise to you when I write my next words: (Virtually cracking knuckles to limber up my fingers.)

Life has had the joy sucked out of it like a little lamb suckling milk from its mother’s teats.

Go ahead and giggle; I used the word teats. Haha

Why, you may ask, am I thinking about lambs and teats? Well, today, February 1, if you’re reading this today on February 1; if not and you’re reading it on April 23 or August 18 or some other date, allow me to inform you the date of writing this post was, in fact, February 1, which was Imbolc.

Imbolc, is a pagan sabbat that celebrates the halfway point between winter and spring AND, in keeping with the suckling theme, marks the time from back in the day when ewes began to lactate in preparation for birthing lambs.

Feel free to use this link where you’ll find a well-written (ahem) post about Imbolc. (Sly grin.) https://concordriverlady.com/2017/02/02/imbolc-2017-brigids-day/

Now, back to life…and suckling, I mean sucking. Again you may be asking why I’m on this kick about life being devoid of joy? My answer would be: Come on, for Pete’s sake, look around; things presently suck the big teat and I’m not just referring to politics or that-which-shall-not-be-named.

“Harry, I dare you to say my name; double dare you.”

COVID COVID COVID

Ha, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Here’s my list of things that are presently sucking in my little corner of the Concord River.

I found a Painted turtle hatchling in the middle of the driveway.

Frozen Painted turtle hatchling.

The poor little thing was frozen solid and I can’t imagine why he was trying to cross the driveway in the first place when the wind chill brought the temperature down to minus 12. It’s January, or was January, and hatchlings should have the proper innate mindset to stay buried in the mud until the weather is more conducive to taking a leisurely stroll to the river. But, nooooo, not this little creature, thus leaving me with a hatchling popsicle. I brought it into the house to warm up (ever the optimist) with the hopes it would come back to life.

No luck. Although the hatchling thawed, it remain motionless; basically dead. Sigh.

Next on the Sucking Hit List was the headless Tufted Titmouse I found in my yard.

I’m sure you don’t need me to explain how this happened.

My Cooper’s hawk.

The guilty party is always nearby, watching and waiting for my songbirds to put down their guard, or heads, as in this case.

The Cooper’s hawk ate a variety of birds over the past week. After the titmouse, the hawk munched on a Slate-colored junco.

At least I think this was a junco. I put my little stretchy glove in the photo to help give the scattering of feathers perspective. I’m not sure how the glove helped but, hey, I took an online course in perspective and I’m trying to utilize what I learned.

Número quatro on the list — I dropped my phone. I was trying to take a movie of this cool waterfall and while straddling the flow I slipped. It was going to be either me or the phone.

This is the third phone of mine the Concord River has claimed. Perhaps I should move to the mountains. At least the first video I took uploaded to the cloud before my phone went ker-plunk.

Rounding off the Sucky List is my anxiety. Man, oh man, I wish there was a way I could explain the physical pain I feel during an attack, along with the mental anguish I suffer.

This image sums it up really, really well. (Photo: Toledo Blade)

Alright, I’ve had enough with this list. It’s time to find some pockets of joy in my life and I’ll start with the songbirds that haven’t been eaten by the hawk.

Ahhhh, now that’s better. More please.

I found an American Goldfinch who was a friendly little fellow, or gal. In it’s winter plumage it was hard to tell.

When it’s hard to find pockets of joy I need to create some. Try this video on for size.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Pockets of joy rock.

Let me think if I have any others.

How about painting? My therapist keeps telling me, ‘Action alleviates anxiety.’ Well, since I can’t get outside and garden I’ve turned once again to my acrylic paints.

Can you find the man in the mountain?

I’m not trained in the least and I only write this so you’ll oooooo and aaaaaaa over the above painting. Did it work? How about now?

Awwww, shucks, you’re making me blush.

If you’d like to start painting to help with your anxiety or any other emotional ailment you might be suffering from, watch this video then head to Michelle’s website. But before you do, please subscribe to my channel. Pretty please.

Based on the above evidence the pockets of joy seem to be outweighing the suckiness, but not by much. I’ll work harder to find the joy. Until then, thank you for reading my little blog. (Hey, having you as a reader is a pocket of joy too! Cool.)

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello, Twenty-Twenty-One

Quick quiz — how many times have you said or heard someone say ‘I can’t wait for this year to be over!’? A hundred? A thousand? A gazillion? I, myself, must have said it a quadtrillion-million-heptazillion times. Yes, heptazillion is a real number.

https://www.inthehills.com

Well, we’ve all gotten our wish because it’s OVAH! Twenty-twenty is hi-stor-reeeeeee, with extra e’s and they rhyme with goodbye-eeeeee.

However, and I am sorry to rain on our pitiful parade, but just because the year is changing and new calendars are getting tacked to walls everywhere, that doesn’t mean the nastiness and that-which-shall-not-be-named is going bye-bye.

‘I’ll be back.’

Like he-who-shall-not-be-named, COVID (oops, I named it), will continue to rear its regal (thus the name, corona, for crown), protein-coated head long into twenty-twenty-one. Sorry, but someone had to tell you the bad news.

Sooooooo, until there’s an ‘all clear’ notice from Dr. Hottie…

…wear your masks and keep practicing good social-distancing.

Now, on to more pleasant topics. I have a Cooper’s hawk that is chowing down on my sparrows.

Cooper’s hawk.

A few times each week he removes one from the flock and I won’t say I’m sad. Sparrows are nasty to Eastern bluebirds. They’ve been known to kill bluebirds in the bluebird’s nest box and lay eggs on top of the carcass.

Yuck, mean old sparrows.
The hawk has even taken to sitting on the fence by the bird feeder. He doesn’t bother the squirrels, or other songbirds. Nope, he sits patiently and waits for the sparrows.
Good little hawkie.

I also have a Golden eagle who’s been hunting the ducks.

Golden eagle.

This eagle gets my feathers all ruffled because my ducks are sacred. As long as I’m writing about my ducks, how about a little tune?

My life would be very lonely without my ducks. Sigh.

Okay, let’s travel back in time to January, 2020, and see what the highlight for the month was.

Immature Cooper’s Hawk.

Well, what do you know, I was visited by a young Cooper’s hawk. Cool.

Okay, let’s keep going through the months.

February 2020

The highlight for me was I had my left hip replaced. And the bird of the month? Drumroll, please.

Male Eastern bluebird.

I was visited by bluebirds. Double cool.

March 2020

American robin.

A robin managed to pull a worm out of the warming soil.

April 2020

American Goldfinch - birds - wildlife - animals - songbirds
Male American goldfinch.

The male American goldfinches started molting.

May 2020

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The grosbeaks returned.

June 2020

Slightly blurry – sorry; was shot through a window screen.

The juvenile bluebirds came to visit Grandma. Awwww, they’re so cute.

July 2020

Male Baltimore oriole.

The Baltimore orioles were happily flying around the yard.

August 2020

Cooper’s hawk.

The Cooper’s hawk was still hanging around (or arrived, I can’t tell if it’s the same hawk or a different one).

September 2020

Juvenile Ruby-throated hummingbird.

The juvenile Ruby-throats were visiting the nectar feeders.

October 2020

Painted turtle hatchling.

I found some Painted turtle hatchlings.

Oh, and…

…a Red-tailed hawk sat on one of my ducks. (Go here for the video: https://youtu.be/0wHmkBNSgCs)

November 2020

I published a book of poems to help raise money for ovarian cancer survivors. (It’s only $3.99 and all the proceeds are donated. https://amzn.to/3fsaIvK)

And…

…my friend, Bob, helped me take down the roof of the screen house. Actually, he did all the work. I manned the camera.

December 2020

Two female Eastern bluebirds.

Bluebirds arrived to celebrate my birthday (thank you, Dyan) and they’re still here!!!!!

Female Eastern bluebird.
Male Eastern bluebird.

Plus, I received a cool mealworm feeder from my friend, Bob.

Female Eastern bluebird at my new mealworm feeder.

And and and he gave me a heated birdbath.

The bluebirds love the birdbath.
As do the other birds.

And, my friend, Bob, put up the bluebird nesting box he got me as a gift.

Moving on to other birds, a winter plumage Starling came by for a snack as he was passing through the area.

Let’s do a rollcall for some other songbirds who visited in December.

Clockwise, starting with the upper left photo: American robin, American robin on the winterberries, female Downy woodpecker, female Hairy woodpecker, Mourning dove, Blue-jay, and, last but not least, male Northern cardinal (below).

Male Northern cardinal.

Did you know when you see a cardinal it’s the spirit of someone you love, who has passed on, coming back to visit you? I always say hello to my mother when I see one.

My mother loved cardinals.

Okay, that just about wraps up this end of year post. I do want to offer my deepest sympathies to all the people who have lost someone or more than one, for whatever reason, not just COVID. Twenty-twenty was a very sad year.

 Twenty-Twenty
 The darkness arrived in the twilight of the year 
Shaped as a crown, cloaked in a protein robe.

Silently it crept
Bringing with it death and despair.

Hope and joy fled before it
Sorrow and fear followed in its wake.

The world suffered great losses
Loved ones perished as loneliness grew.

The months passed
The year grew old.

The darkness prospered
Encouraged by those who refused to believe.

The deceased knew
Their souls cried out for the truth.

The bells tolled louder
The darkness turned black.

The year came to an end, smothering the light
For the darkness remained.

We battle on.

Blessed be and Happy New Year and may 2021 be gentle to you. :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Feathered Friends and Birthday Greetings

December 9 was my birthday. I won’t write how old I turned; let’s just accept the fact that I’m old and move on.

I had a birthday party and didn’t even wear a mask, nor did my guests. Yes, I know with the COVID pandemic raging I need to be socially responsible and avoid crowds but this was a special occasion, so I figured why not live large? Here’s a video of my cool gathering.

My virtual birthday party.

And you thought I would be irresponsible and host a party with humans? Shame on you.

That same day, after all the ducks had chewed and screwed, I received some unexpected guests. Yup, you guessed it, if you guessed Eastern Bluebirds. If not, well, no biggie, I still love you.

Back to the topic at hand–my sister visiting me for my birthday.

My surprise birthday guests.

One bluebird even spent some time on my new heated birdbath.

Thank you, Bob, for my heated birdbath.

To entice the bluebirds to stick around I set up a winterberry feeding station outside my dining room window, which the bluebirds LOVE, by the way.

Eastern bluebird getting ready to gobble a winterberry.

It seems to be working, since my birthday the bluebirds have become daily visitors, arriving around ten in the morning, and coming back again as the day starts to wane. My table has become my new favorite place to sit and reflect, sip tea, and pretend I’m visiting with my sister as I watch the flashes of cobalt blue outside the window.

I placed some berries in my hummingbird garden, hoping to add a splash of color to the drab shades of brown in the garden. Not only did I get the red from the berries, but, thanks to the bluebirds, I have blue as well. Very colorful indeed.

The bluebirds also joined the Mourning doves that spend time lurking under the feeders in Sparky Park.

Mourning dove and female Eastern bluebird.

The Mourning doves don’t seem to mind the company, they’re really chill birds.

Mourning dove.

They have to be when other ground feeding birds compete for food.

Mourning dove and male Northern cardinal.

Other birds that shop for seed at the base of the feeders include:

Chipping sparrows

Chipping sparrow. (Sorry for the blurry photo — these little birds move fast.)

White-throated sparrows, and Slate-colored juncos (which are a type of sparrow – Who knew?)

Hold on, I have a better picture of a junco.
Much better.

and Blue jays, plus assorted House sparrows.

House sparrow and Blue jay.

The Blue jays don’t just spend time on the ground. Nah, they’re a grab-it-where-they-can-get-it kind of bird.

“Seed on the ground or …
seed in the feeder. It’s all the same to me.”

The Downy woodpeckers are regulars at the suet feeders …

Female Downy woodpecker.

… along with the bluebirds, lots and lots of bluebirds. Thank you, Dyan.

Somehow, I’ve gotten off track. At first, I was writing about my birthday and the bluebirds visiting me and now I’m listing all the birds I have visiting my feeders. Oh well, having a birdbrain is a sign of old age, right?

As long as I’m discussing birds, let me add a winter plumage American goldfinch to the mix.

Hey buddy, can you spare a buck?

I couldn’t resist the pun. A young buck stopped by the river to have a sip of cold, somewhat clean water. He looked so cute with his new antlers.

Last but not least, no blog post would be complete without mentioning my ducks. Okay, okay, I know I started the post with my ducks but, come on, they’re my flock, my posse…

My gang.

I’ll leave you with a reminder to watch the sky on Monday, December 21, as the Great Conjunction comes our way. This is when Saturn and Jupiter are super close, appearing to the naked eye as one huge planet. They haven’t been this close since Galileo was dancing a jig in 1623. Go here for viewing information.

https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/whats-up-skywatching-tips-from-nasa/

That’s all I have for you at the moment. I would like to remind you about the sale of my poetry book to raise money for ovarian cancer victims. Here’s the link in case you forgot: https://amzn.to/3fsaIvK

Thank you and blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dear Ovarian Cancer…

One year ago, on November 23, 2019, you stole someone who was most dear to me. You took her without giving a second thought to the woman she was, plucking her from the earth as if she had been a weed in your macabre garden. Well, there are some things you need to know about that woman, things I’m sure you never even considered as you selected her for your victim.

Her name was Dyan and she cared deeply for the cause of Great White sharks. Did you know she donated money to help save them from the carnage they face in their ocean home? No, I suspect not.

I’m sure it didn’t matter to you that she was 68, a Gemini, and that she loved candles and peonies. To you a victim’s age means nothing. As for their Zodiac sign and favorite flower…pish posh. All you cared about were her cells; the cells that comprised her muscles, bones, tendons, and flesh. Well, sit yourself down, cancer ‘ole boy, and pay attention because I have a few things to tell you about the person you killed.

Dyan was a kind woman who brought joy into the lives of everyone she touched. She was always a lady and behaved with class and grace. She was thoughtful, oftentimes putting the needs of others above her own desires. Even as the tip of the chemo needle punctured her skin, she made sure to find out if the nurse was having a good day.

She was beautiful. Oh, yes, stunning, with skin that rivaled Aphrodite’s in its creaminess and luster. And her brown eyes sparkled, revealing the depth of the love they held. I swear Mother Nature used stardust to fashion them. Her hands…oh my, her hands–tender and gentle.

Dyan loved to laugh, did you know that? Tell me, could you hear the cadence of her laughter as you ate away at her ovaries?

Dyan was brave. Her bravery never faltered, not when the chemicals designed to kill you were pumped into her veins; not when they cut her open to scrape you from her abdomen; not when they told her you were winning. Her pink lips refused to cry uncle.

I don’t hate you, cancer, because Dyan didn’t hated you. She accepted you as an uninvited guest on her journey through life, and each day as I watched her do battle with you I learned the true meaning of courage, but if you think I’m going to thank you, think again.

That’s it, I’m finished, except to write that you lost. True, you claimed Dyan’s physical strength, but that was your folly, thinking that you had won. You may have taken her body, but you failed to break her spirit.

Oh, and one last thing, the woman you killed–she was my sister. Screw you, cancer.

Cynthia

Dyan Gonnella, 1951 – 2019

To the reader:

I thank you for indulging me this place and time to write a letter to ovarian cancer, the cancer that took my sister. Grazie.

Over the past year I have written a series of poems in the hopes they would help stitch together my torn soul. I’ve published the collection and it’s available on Amazon. Yes, this is a shameful plug for my small book but the best news is that all proceeds 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 in Dyan’s name. Your kindness won’t go unappreciated by the Universe, and me. Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lift the Veil

Samhain 2020

Today is October 31, which means today is Samhain, a Celtic sabbat that should not be confused with Halloween, which also falls on October 31 but is Christian in its roots.

Samhain (pronounced saa-win) is celebrated from October 31 to November 1, and yes, November 1 is another Christian day of importance called All Souls Day.

Confused yet? Just wait.

Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the start of the darkest time of year–winter. And…, it’s used as a time to connect with those who have passed into the afterlife because the veil between the world of the living and the world of the departed is at its thinnest at midnight on the 31st.

By now you may be saying, ‘Wait one darn-tooting second, River Lady, that’s Día de los Muertos you’re describing.’

Um, yes and no. You see, it’s all intertwined because some Christian missionaries decided to ‘educate’ the Celtic people. Yup, those Celts were too damn uneducated for the Christians and needed a good education about how the spirit world worked. Soooooo, Samhain got a makeover and became Halloween, one night to honor the spirits and the Christian feast of All Saints Day (also known as All Hallows – hallowed means holy) was assigned to November 1, also known as the The Day of the Dead.

Thus the Celts were somewhat allowed to keep their Samhain cakes and eat them too.

Samhain Cakes

1/2 c veg. oil
4 sq unsweetened chocolate (4 oz) melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt into oil mixture. Chill several hours to overnight. Heat oven to 350 deg F [175 deg C]. Roll about a tablespoon of dough into a ball (yes, it’s messy). Drop balls into confectioner’s sugar & roll around until coated. Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 min. They will be a little soft but should not be mushy. Edges should be firm. Don’t overbake—these burn easily. Makes about 3 dozen. (Courtesy of http://recipesforapagansoul.weebly.com/samhain-oct-31.html)

What does this religious history lesson have to do with living in my little corner of the Concord River? Truthfully? Not much except that I’m pagan and this is my blog, meaning I get to write about whatever I want.

Therefore, I wish you a bountiful Samhain, a Happy Halloween, and may the loved ones you’ve lost bless you with their love.

Oh, one more thing about this magical night. It’s a full moon, called the Hunter’s Moon and (drumroll, please) it’s a rare Blue Moon. According to the Farmers’ Almanac the last Blue Moon to appear on Samhain was in 1944, and it won’t happen again until 2039.

The term Blue Moon has nothing to do with the color. It’s now considered to be the second full moon of the month. The last full moon was on October 1.

See, I told you this was a special night.

Okay, now let’s catch up on the critters in my corner of the Concord River. I’ve received a few new visitors over the past month that I thought you’d enjoy learning about. First, White-throated sparrows have shown their sweet faces in my gardens.

White-throated sparrow on Autumn Joy sedum.

These cute little birds have the call: Oh Sweet Canada. I don’t really hear it but who am I to argue with ornithologists?

White-throated sparrow Oh Sweet Canada call.

I love to watch them dig under the leaf litter for seeds and small insects. One very good reason to not rake leaves.

A few Song sparrows came flying in, even a one-legged one.

‘I don’t need both legs to be able to fly, silly.’
‘However, having both legs does help with landing.’

I’m not sure why White-throated sparrows get a catch-phrase for their song and Song sparrows don’t. It doesn’t matter I guess, their call is still pretty.

While looking up at the songbirds gracing my corner of the world, I almost missed what was happening down at my feet. A nearby nest of Painted turtles hatched and three hatchlings ambled into my driveway.

I thought it was unusual for turtle eggs to hatch in Autumn but according to turtleguardians.com/2020/01/should-we-stay-or-should-we-go-now-a-painted-turtle-hatchling-dilemma/, the occurrence is quite common.

I also found a fourth hatchling smashed on the road. If the drivers speeding along Elsie Ave. aren’t willing to stop for large turtles, what makes me think a hatching stands a chance?

A part of me wanted to keep one of the turtles to raise but then I remembered Little Ducky…

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

… and I opted to give the hatchling freedom.

Needless to say the little guy might have stood a better chance with the road than my handling techniques.

A Purple finch stopped by for a quick snack of sunflower seeds then continued on his merry way to wherever he was going. They spend the year in my area so I’m confused why they don’t visit me more often. Perhaps it’s the brand of seed I offer.

Male Purple finch.

The Slate-colored juncos are back. As with the Purple finches, juncos stay all year in my area and again, I don’t have a clue where they’ve been but one thing I do know is when they show up, so does the snow.

Male Slate-colored junco.

And bingo! Yesterday my little corner of the river received an October snowfall. About three inches of the heavy stuff flattened my hydrangeas.

My Twist-n-Shout hydrangea a few days ago.

You can view the carnage the snow created in this YouTube video. (By the way, have you subscribed to my YouTube channel yet?)

Before the snow arrived, my river was stunning, decked out in her Autumn colors…

…and she’s still a knockout dressed in her October whites.

The ducks are back.

Actually they came back for a couple of days after my last post when I wrote they were MIA, then they disappeared again, but now they’re back. I see a trip to the Essex County Co-op in my future. (Update: I did drive to the Co-op and while waiting to pull into the parking lot got rear-ended by a guy in a panel truck who was too busy texting to watch where he was driving. As luck would have it, two police cruisers were on the side of the road and the policeman saw the whole thing. Now I need a right rear quarter panel but, thankfully, no one was hurt. And I still got corn for the ducks.)

Last weekend my friend, Bob, helped me remove the roof to the screen house, and just in time too, what with all the snow flying around.

Harlee wasn’t too happy about what was happening since it meant nights sitting outside were over.

Today I received a treat. Do you remember that I wrote about Samhain being the time when the veil between the two worlds is at its thinnest? (You should, you just read it like five minutes ago or do you skip the words and just look at the pictures?) Well, this afternoon a flock of Eastern bluebirds came through my yard.

Male Eastern bluebirds.

They stayed just long enough for me to snap a picture of two males and whisper hello to my sister. Before she dies she promised she’d return as a bluebird and today was the perfect day for her to, once again, deliver on her promise.

Mio immortale.

It’s time to wrap up this blog post. I’ll leave you with two things. First, this Samhain blessing:

samhain-pagan-witch-wicca-blessings

The second thing I’ll leave you with is my thanks for following my blog. Please share the goodness.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer 2020: Don’t let the door hit you…

Goodbye, Summer 2020

I may be in the minority, and that’s perfectly okay, but I am NOT sad to see Summer 2020 hit the road. In fact, if it would have helped, I was available to help pack its bags.

The days were beastly hot, the nights rivaled a tropical forest environment with the level of humidity I had to endure. Add to those annoyances the lack of rain and That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named…

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

… along with a deep depression regarding losing my sister, and the overwhelming sadness for all the other poor souls filling the night sky, and Summer 2020 became a bushel of turmoil, despair, and unhappiness.

In a word, it sucked!

Oh, and included on the above list was Harlee ripping out his stitches and his paws getting infected.

I thought socks would keep him from the stitches. I was sooooooo wrong.
Black Lab.
His expression mirrors my feelings.

I feel much better getting all that ranting off my saggy, elderly lady chest.

Thank you.

Now let me see if I can find some joy from what was really a s@#t summer.

For starters, I had bluebirds and I truly am grateful for that.

Male Eastern bluebird with mealworm in his beak.

And along with the adults, I had young bluebirds.

Two juvenile Eastern bluebirds with adult male.

I had a Baltimore oriole stop by now and then.

Male Baltimore oriole songbird.
Male Baltimore oriole.

I had a plethora of Ruby-throated hummingbirds, adults and juveniles alike.

A red-tailed hawk kept me company.

Red-tailed hawk.
Red-tailed hawk.

True, it also chose to sit on one of my ducks. https://concordriverlady.com/2020/09/03/poetry-corner/

Red-tailed hawk sitting on one of my ducks. GET OFF MY DUCK!

The Rose-breasted grosbeaks were here.

Male rose-breasted grosbeak songbird.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Now and then a muskrat wandered through my yard.

Muskrat in grass.
Muskrat love (If you don’t know that song, Google it.)

And I had ducks. Lots and lots of ducks.

That’s my friend, Bob, with my ducks; lots and lots of ducks.

My gardens held their own, despite the dry, hot, humid conditions and the crazy old lady who refused to tend to them and instead sat in front of her air-conditioner and complained about the dry, hot, humid weather.

Chris and I spent some time in the somewhat cool basement bracing the old insulation back into place. The other option was replacing all the insulation with new product. NOT!

Basement with insulation in ceiling.

On July 19 I found a four-leaf clover and on August 2 I purchased a new solar statue and wind chime for my hydrangea garden, so I guess the clover worked.

Ahhhhhhh, nirvana.

Actually, now that I’ve looked back, there were some good things about Summer 2020. However, it was still a long, hot, humid, dry, sad, frustrating, depression-filled, season of turmoil and despair.

Welcome Autumn 2020.

A Carolina wren has been spending time in my yard. Maybe this is a sign Autumn 2020 will be more gentle than the summer was.

Carolina wren singing outside my front door.

Most of the ducks are gone. When I drive along Pond Street I can see a large flock on the shore of Richardson Pond. Perhaps those are my ducks or maybe they belong to another crabby old lady. No biggie, I’ll stick with the four I have at the moment; less beaks to feed.

Mallard ducks lined up on retaining wall.
Remaining Mallards chilling on my retaining wall.

It’s still terribly dry in my little corner of the Concord River and the water level of the river is low enough that the Rock is visible once again.

You might remember the Rock from my October 12, 2016, post. https://concordriverlady.com/2016/10/12/the-hawk-and-the-rock/ Well, the Rock is once again a popular place to bask in the sun. I might give it a try. I could sit in the lotus position and dream of a kinder, gentler future.

While I was working on this post a gusty wind came blowing through the yard. A remnant of some weather system I knew nothing about. Anyhoo, it took a large branch from my dead oak tree and brought it crashing to the ground. Just missed taking out my lacecap Twist-n-Shout hydrangea.

The Universe was smiling on my hydrangea.

I found a Wooly Bear caterpillar while out walking the other day.

Based on the width of his middle band it’s going to be a mild winter. I’m down with that, less snow to shovel.

The anniversary of my sister’s passing is fast approaching. Try as I might I can’t slow the passage of time. Losing her shattered my soul and I’ve yet to figure out how to put the pieces back together. I do find some comfort in knowing she is shining down upon me when I look at the stars in the inky dark of the night sky.

And for all the people who have lost loved ones, my heart is very sad for you. Perhaps you too will gaze to the stars and find some peace. I hope so.

So, in closing, I wish to say farewell to Summer 2020, don’t let the door hit you where the Universe split you.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poetry Corner

A few years back, four to be exact, I wrote a blog post about a hawk and a rock. Here’s the link:

https://concordriverlady.com/2016/10/12/the-hawk-and-the-rock/

It was a sweet little ditty about all manner of creatures who would sit on the rock that peeked out of my river while a Red-tailed hawk watched from his perch high in an oak tree.

Well, once again it’s time for my Poetry Corner, starring my hawk, although I can’t be sure it’s the same hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk

The Hawk and the Duck

Ahem. (virtually clearing my throat)

There once was a hawk.
A Red-tail it is called;
Who hunted over the river by day.
His beak it was sweet (and by sweet I mean sharp, but I couldn't find anything to rhyme with feet), 
As were the talons on his feet; 
Like razors, they could slice through duck meat.

One day the hawk he did spy,
A flock of ducks all in a bunch.
The hawk he did cry,
From high up in the sky, 
'By jove, I think it's time for lunch!'

The hawk he did come,
And the ducks they did run,
To the river for safety they fled.
Except for one fat duck,
With a waddle too slow;
She would soon have a hawk on her head.

The hawk he did swoop,
And I'm sure the duck she did poop;
When the talons they closed round her neck.
Though the duck she did squirm,
Our hawk's grip it held firm;
The duck would be toast in one sec.

The old lady did shout,
But the hawk he held out.
With no fear in his eyes,
He must have surmised, 
The old lady wasn't worth his time;
Not when duck du jour was on the line.

The dog, oh the dog,
Who had been laying in the sun,
Thinking he would join in the fun,
A Bounding he did come.
'Screw this,' the hawk called. 'This is truly a bore.'
And away on feathered wings he did soar.

The story it ends, 
On a note bittersweet;
Because, the hawk never did get to eat.
But the duck, she was lucky,
And waddled away all plucky; 
As she quacked, 'I'm free, I'm free, I'm free!'

So, this is how it all went down. I was working on a new YouTube video about pruning powdery mildew off tall Summer Phlox (You do subscribe to my YouTube channel, right?) when I heard a commotion behind me. That would be the noise at the beginning of the video, which was caused by the flock of ducks taking off from the yard when the hawk swooped in.

I walked across the driveway, camera still in my hand and still on record, when I spied the Red-tailed hawk sitting on one of my ducks. You can see in the video that Harlee has no idea what the heck is going on. The rest of the story is pretty self-explanatory. As for the shaky cam? Pretend you’re watching one of the Bourne movies.

Oh, by the way, the duck is fine.

And the hawk? Well, he’s still hanging around.

Only, now the American eagle is doing flybys.

Sigh, my ducks don’t stand a chance.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What is essential?

How does one determine what is and isn’t essential? Consider this caterpillar; is it essential?

caterpillar top

Catocala ilia

It’s a cool caterpillar that lives in oak leaf litter. It flips over to show its pinkish-purple belly, thus playing dead.

underwing moth

Eventually it will finish its transformation to the Underwing Moth.

RonV8801a-300

Underwing Moth

These moths can do considerable damage to herbaceous plants and are, therefore, considered undesirable because, hey, we all love our herbaceous plants.

Therefore, you might say the Underwing Moth is not essential.

But, wait, birds eat moths and birds are essential, right?

Or are they?

How many people do you know who care about birds? I know a few but most of the people I come into contact with don’t give a rat’s ass about birds. Or herbaceous plants, for that matter.

Well, I like birds.

great blue heron

I like Great Blue Herons…

American Goldfinch

and I like American Goldfinches…

Northern cardinal

…and I like female Northern Cardinals, even ones with conjunctivitis…

tufted titmouse

and Tufted Titmice…

rose-breasted grosbeak

and female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks…

ruby-throated hummingbird

and of course I like Ruby-throated Hummingbirds…

Mallard ducklings

and you know I LOVE ducks.

Okay, but wait, are ducklings essential?

mallard ducks

Based on a cuteness scale, they’re damn essential, but to the guy who drives his jet ski on the river, steering for the ducks in his path, I would venture to guess he doesn’t consider them essential, except for playing target practice (jerk).

The adult ducks in the flock don’t consider the ducklings essential either, only the hen does. The others have no problem stomping on the little ones if they’re blocking the corn.

Why am I discussing what is essential and what isn’t, you might be asking? First off, it has nothing to do with COVID-19 and which businesses are considered essential and which aren’t, although I must ask why liquor stores were deemed essential when ice cream shops weren’t. Or why aren’t elderly people considered essential? If you don’t know what I’m referring to you must not watch FOX News or Tucker Carlson (jerk).

Moving on.

Here’s a quiz: Choose what is essential.

If you chose the dragonfly, good for you, because one dragonfly eats 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day, while Mitch McConnell doesn’t. Nor does he eat worms, even though he resembles a turtle.

Mitch McConnell

Okay, okay, politics aside, I have a reason for jumping on the essential versus nonessential bandwagon. There is a man in my neighborhood, who shall remain unidentified, who will be cutting down several large oak trees.

It’s none of your business, you might shout, and, if it didn’t affect me directly, you would be correct. But you see, the loss of those trees will change the dynamics of my yard. Plus, birds use the trees for nesting, and bats use the trees for nesting, and owls, and squirrels, and, and…damn it, trees clean our air and give us oxygen, and, screw it, I LIKE TREES.

garden (2)

This man I’m referring to isn’t a spiteful man; he’s not mean or unkind. He brakes for turtles and even moves them from the road when he can. And I’m sure his reasons for cutting down the trees are valid.

Plus, you’re right, it is none of my business what he does with his trees. Just because I consider trees essential doesn’t make it so.

Sigh.

This raises an important question–am I essential?

Are you?

Rainbows are definitely essential…

double rainbow

but what about groundhogs?

groundhog

Questions to ponder on the hot, sticky nights here in my little corner of the Concord River.

Blessed be :}

Mi manchi, mio ​​immortale.

Posted in Life on the Concord River | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments