How sweet it is …

desolate

No, this is not another post about delectable donuts or bonbons and blooms, but … it was just nice to get out and about on a mid-Winter day, without tippy-toeing across the treacherous ice, or shoveling mounds of snow.

It was the first day the car and yours truly ventured out since February 3rd due to the never-ending snow and ice.  I put four miles on both the car and my feet.

It was early morning and the sky was layered in pretty pastels, ribbons of pink and blue like baby shower décor when the gender is still a mystery.  I had the camera with me, but I was still in the neighborhood, so did not have a clear view of the sky.  I guess I’ll carry the image of those gorgeous colors in my mind instead.

As I rolled along River Drive toward Council Point Park, I saw a single soul huffing and puffing along the perimeter path – that would be Todd, who never misses his weekend jogs, no matter the weather.  So, I knew my trek today would take me out of the neighborhood and to the “naturehood” just as those public service announcements from www.discovertheforest.org suggest you should do.

Since I packed my jacket pockets with Ziploc bags of peanuts, I was hoping the path would be clear enough for a walk at my favorite nature nook.  Those bags peeked out of my pockets, ready to dole out to my furry peanut pals – after all today is Random Acts of Kindness Day.

I was glad I wore my hiking boots with the lug soles in anticipation of some potential icy patches along the perimeter path.  The walking shoes just don’t cut it when ice is present, even though I have long legs and can step over most of it, but why take a chance?  With the hiking boots, I simply hop off the trail and walk in the snow when I encounter glare ice.

I wasn’t at the Park long until I pulled out that first Ziploc bag of peanuts, so I was ready for my “admirers” but they were strangely absent.  In fact, I was halfway around the first loop, wiggling my bag of peanuts as I walked, just as I usually do, when suddenly I saw one of my furry pals scrambling over toward me.  He was running quickly, his sharp claws sliding on the glazed pathway, those small paws skidding this way and that.  “Take your time!” I told him.  “I’m not going anywhere and it seems that you are I are the only two in this peanut game today anyway.”

I dumped a pile of peanuts at his feet, as if he were a little prince, and he snagged one in record time and happily started munching.  I wondered if he was “Parker” my favorite squirrel who joins me on the trail, or beside my car, as soon as he sees me.  He has no distinguishing features, just his loyalty, which rates high with me.  I stayed there thinking his missing pals would come over lickety-split, but they stayed away, perhaps up in their nests.  He grabbed another peanut, cracking it and clearly enjoying it, while sitting companionably at my feet.  Before I left, I slipped him a few more to take up into his tree, telling him “better squirrel them away little buddy, as Winter’s sure not over yet.”

I moseyed along then hit the trail at a good pace since there was a long stretch that was ice-free.  It was so peaceful in the Park, albeit a little desolate looking these days.

But soon the peace was disturbed by bird calls.  First, it was a couple of angry crows, buzzing overhead and squawking incessantly, then the jays started in, at least a half-dozen of them, screeching from up in a tall tree.  The jays were clearly agitated about something because they were dive-bombing around the tree, and swooping in and out of it with no rhyme or reason.  I wondered if they feared the crows, or, they were aware of a predator of some kind, like a hawk or a falcon.  I scanned the sky for telltale signs of either of these predator birds, but saw nothing.  I left the jays some peanuts on the trail, and noticed the next time around, they were all gone.  Then I remembered my jay back at the house – the sidewalks and driveway were treacherous for a good four days last week, so I wasn’t interacting with him, as I walked as few steps as possible.    I decided to look for him when I returned home.

I left the jays behind, and near the cement landing there was a mess of mallards in the only portion of the Creek that was not frozen over.  They were quacking their heads off, and some had stepped onto the ice and were snoozing or preening themselves.  I was rattling another bag of peanuts for anyone who was interested, and must have spooked a heron, who suddenly flew up out of nowhere and took flight, a blur of gray as it headed down the narrow Ecorse Creek passageway.

Two entire trips around the Park and I was about ready to head home.  It wasn’t the sunniest of days, but at least it was cold and dry … that is ‘til we get that promised dusting of snow tonight.  Any snow can stay away in  my opinion.

Before I departed the Park, however, I had one more stop.  I left about ten peanuts along the grooves in the picnic table under the pavilion roof.  Treats for a rainy day for the gang.  We’ll have a couple of those rainy days on Monday and Tuesday, along with temps in the low 60s, which means Mother Nature is just going a little wacky.

On this Random Acts of Kindness Day, here’s a quote to make  your new mantra …

Kindness should become the natural way of life.  Not the exception. ~Buddha

 

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Bonbons and blooms.

valentines day heart chocolates by jill111

‘Tis the day for chocolate, hearts and flowers, and, of course, that sweet cherub known as Cupid.

On the subject of love, I’m not loving the weather as my walking regimen remains halted, thanks to all this ice and snow, however, just like Cupid, I have another arrow in my quiver.  My Plan “B” this time is resorting to the exercise bike in the basement.  I’ve got to keep my legs strong, ready to hit the streets and the Park trails, just as soon as all this slickness takes a hike, so I can do the same.  (I also need to work off those Fluffernutters too).

For the third day in a row, my heart was in my mouth as I took 40 baby steps to get to the garage to start my car, then made that slick, 40-step trek back to the side door.  Thank goodness our daytime temps will reach 40 degrees and stay mild overnight, so tomorrow morning I can attack that sidewalk and driveway with a vengeance.

After writing my “Tuesday Musings” post, perhaps it was sugar overload, but my mind was, and still is, in tune with sweet things and Valentine’s Day.  I had already intended to use this vintage baby photo of my late mother in today’s post, because it would have been her 92nd birthday today.  The clarity of this nearly one-century-old print of my grandparents and Mom circa 1926 astounds me.  There are other black-and-white photographs, not as old as this one, that are showing signs of age.  They are wrinkled, torn, or marred in some way.  But, this one is a keeper.

Mom and Parents

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting with my mom, the old photo albums spread out over our laps, and traveling back in time as she identified her relatives, most whom I would never meet as they had either passed away, or moved to a big city, long before my arrival.  Then there were the stories that accompanied most of those old photographs.  I listened with rapt attention, never knowing that I would be writing about those folks one day.

My great-grandparents owned a farm in rural Ariss, Ontario.  They had a large family, and Mom would regale me with tales about Summers spent at her grandparents’ farm.  In the past, I’ve written about Mom and her cousins taking their metal buckets to go berry picking so “Mowm” (as their grandmother was affectionately called), could make coffee cakes, pies and put up preserves.  I also told you how Mowm was hooking up the horse and buggy to go to church one Sunday and the horse was suddenly spooked, reared up and came down on her foot, shattering all the bones.  Mowm never walked properly, nor could she wear a tied shoe on that foot after this unfortunate incident.

When you’re a child, you rarely hear about the misdeeds of your parents when they were your age.  But, I heard how Mom and her cousins would taunt the old sow by swinging on the squeaky pig pen gate, and soon those kids would be squealing in delight while Mama Pig, ever protective of her piglets, would rush the fence, all the while grunting her displeasure with their childish antics.  But, when their grandfather got wind of this mischief, he took the strap to each of them.  I was appalled to hear about Mom and her cousins befriending the farm’s chickens, only to be made to watch their grandfather kill some of them for Sunday roast chicken dinner before their very eyes.  He was a curmudgeon, an old coot, as they say, and my own maternal grandfather was of the same ilk.

Suffice it to say, Mom and her cousins hated their grandfather, but loved their grandmother dearly.  Here is Mom (left) with one of her cousins and Mowm.

Mom and Irene

When my mom graduated from business school in the late 1940s, her first job was in an building next door to a chocolatier.  Knowing how her grandmother loved chocolate, but rarely got into town to buy any, every payday she would go to Laura Secord and send a box of chocolates to Mowm.  The next time she saw her grandmother, she’d acknowledge her granddaughter’s gifts by saying “Pauline, those chocolates were so good; thank you for thinking of me.  I ate them all myself.”  “Good, keep them for yourself and enjoy each one” would be my mother’s reply.

The years passed and many boxes of chocolate made their way to Katherine Klein until she passed away.  After the funeral service, the family gathered at the old farmhouse, each wanting to take away a memento from Mowm, so they opened her large trunk in the bedroom.  It was always locked and the key was kept on a worn piece of ribbon, usually buried in her apron pocket.  The family opened the trunk and discovered boxes and boxes of Laura Secord chocolates, still in the original wrapping paper, all untouched.  They opened just one box and soon the smell of chocolate filled the room.  But the “bloom” on those chocolates made them barely recognizable as such, and they were not edible either.  (If you don’t refrigerate chocolate, after a certain time, it develops a whitish coating on the surface of the candy, whether it is a bonbon or a bar of chocolate.  It is caused from changes in the fat and sugar content in the chocolate itself.)

My mom was perplexed why her beloved grandmother didn’t just enjoy those chocolates instead  of hiding them in the trunk for safekeeping?  It was a great mystery which Mowm took to her grave in 1954.

So, on this Valentine’s Day I wish you love and happiness, the likes that are found in the lines of the classical tune “Love in Bloom” and I’ll also leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Seuss:

“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”

[Image of candy heart and flowers by Jill Wellington]

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Tuesday Musings.

close up planner page

For the second day in a row, I got a reprieve from that back-breaking shoveling – yeah for that, BUT my sidewalks and driveway are now icy and treacherous.  Note to self:  do not shovel when it is “snaining” (a snow and freezing rain combo) because the snow on the cement ends up with a  glaze that resembles the shiny icing on a paczek.

MIXED BAG

So, what the heck is a paczek you might ask (unless of course you live here in Michigan, or, are a long-time follower of this blog); and, you might also be wondering, how does one pronounce this word anyway?

First things first.

If you have never had one of these Polish treats, a paczek is not just your regular jelly donut.  It’s more like a jelly donut on steroids, because it is a heavier dough with a more ooey and gooey filling.  Each one can be between 500 and 1,000 calories and 80 fat grams.  Yes, that is true – yikes!

JELLY.jpg

Paczeks (or paczki which is plural) are typically topped with a glaze or powdered sugar.  Since Detroiters love their coney dogs, last year someone at American Coney Island came up with the idea to split a jelly-filled paczki down the middle, stuff it with a wiener, and top it off with the traditional coney dog fixin’s like chili, mustard and onions.  That hybrid treat is back this year and people were scooping these 1,000-calorie wonders up at $5.00 apiece.

CONEY PACZKI

Here’s a primer on how to pronounce paczek and paczki, and, just so you know, most people refer to them as paczki (plural) as they don’t just stop at one!  Paczek is pronounced “Poancheck” and paczki is pronounced “Poanchkee”.  Now that you’ve got that pronunciation down pat, you’ll want to use your computer’s spellcheck feature if you’re ever writing about them.

We’re a lot tamer than New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, but we do have fun with our paczki parades, fun runs, and even paczki bakery crawls leading up to and including Fat Tuesday.  As part of paczki pandemonium, just picture crowds lining up around the block at the crack of dawn today at New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck to pick up some paczki while they’re still warm.

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In  most workplaces, there’s always some kind soul who deems it is his or her responsibility to gift the entire office with these delectable donuts.

GLAZED PACZIS

I didn’t have a paczki today, but instead indulged in my own sinful ooey-gooey, sugar-rush treat.  If you grew up in the 60s, not only were you part of the culture of tie dye and big bellbottoms, hippies, flower power and VW buses, but you ate Fluffernutters.   It was like a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, only you swapped the jelly for marshmallow cream, and, it was a treat that was the best of both worlds, a mixture of salty and sweet.  This sandwich even had its own jingle, a/k/a  “The Fluffernutter Song” … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6gljDcLrvQ&feature=related

PEANUT BUTTER AND FLUFF

Nowadays, I find it almost sickening sweet, but it is my annual Fat Tuesday indulgence anyway.

The big dilemma now is those folks who plan to give up sweets for Lent, but won’t be able to enjoy their Valentine’s Day goodies.  Instead of nibbling on nougats or truffles, they’ll be staring longingly at that festive, heart-shaped box for the next forty days, and, please don’t leave it unattended, since chocolate is not good for our furry friends.

On Valentine’s Day eve, I’m sharing this fun factoid with you:  “in 2018, people will spend 44% more on their pets than their humans, but you should not be surprised, since 66% of pets have their own Facebook page” … now that made me smile.

I hope you enjoyed your indulgences today.

[Images from Twitter and American Coney Island]

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Reflecting and remembering …

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I am Winter weary, and I’ve decided that, just like Trix cereal, snow is only fun for kids.

I see no big smile on my face these days, after an intensive week of dealing with this wintry weather.  I sure was not sporting any big grin after shoveling a few more inches of wet, slushy snow in the freezing rain earlier today.

Now, it gives me cause to pause and ponder why I was having such a good time shoveling snow at the tender age of four?  So, what happened to the joy in that simple task?

Shoveling snow

Evidently, as a baby I loved going out for a Sunday ride in my stroller with Mom on a snowy afternoon.  Of course, I didn’t have to do anything but just sit there and take in all the sights.

Stroller

Because I was an only child, the family albums are chock full of photos of me, in every season and for every occasion.  There I was at three years old, all layered up after Mom showed me the door and whisked me outside to play in the snow.

Snowsuit

For me, I figure that snow stopped being fun once I was no longer pulled around on the little wooden sled my father made for me, or, when I quit making snow angels and building snowmen with my best friend, also named Linda.

Bestie

It seems I was “cool” with the snow when taking my dolly out to go gallivanting with Mom.

Mom and me

Or happily showing off that spiffy tartan plaid coat with matching tam and those ugly brown galoshes.

Tartan

But, somewhere along the line, a metamorphosis took place that wasn’t so pretty.  As an adult, I despise snow, so I welcome any encouraging words to make me come around and see this season in a new light!

Staying with the topic of words, it is five years ago today I launched this blog “Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy” with my first post entitled “LINDA’S BIG ADVENTURE:  ENTERING “THE BLOGOSPHERE” (and yes I did that title in in all caps – go figure).

Anniversary

Was I emphasizing this monumental event, which followed a similarly wintry weekend, writing a post which would be the outside world’s initial glimpse into why I was undertaking this venture?

My friend and neighbor Marge Aubin encouraged me to start a blog because I was always telling her tidbits of happenings in my daily walking regimen and she followed a few blogs and kept forwarding them to my e-mail address.  I guess she waited for me to finally take the bait, so I appeased her.

My “About” bio on WordPress tells it like it is, that I was a journalism  major and graduated from Wayne State University with a journalism degree in 1978, but could not find a job in that field.  I did a short stint in the Creative Department at an ad agency, but have been a legal secretary since 1980.

My initial meet-and-greet post was a rather long, drawn-out affair and when I read it today before starting this blog post, I have to admit I said to myself “Linda, obviously you never heard of the saying that ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ did you?”

As a brand-new blogger, my posts in early 2013 were few and far between, because the Winter weather stayed ugly and walks were infrequent, thus posts were sporadic, or just a favorite quote or two which I shared with my one and only subscriber, Marge.  In fact, I never told anyone about writing this blog, even other friends, for a very long time.

In a four-season state, after a cold and snowy Winter, once Spring arrives, there is nothing finer than venturing out on that first warmish day, casting the hat and gloves aside, and shucking the lightweight jacket and looping it around your waist, just ten minutes after you donned it.  Soon I became a wanderer, discovering Council Point Park, and suddenly there were more topics to write about and I could finally gain some traction with this labor of love.  There were warm and fuzzy moments watching geese and their goslings, or the mallards with their ducklings, or interacting with the squirrels.  As you know, as to all animals, I’m such a bleeding heart, even with those critters with chutzpah!

My blog posts in that fledgling year were usually short and snappy paragraphs with no pictures.  I thought I was pretty clever to give each blog post a one-word title.  I’d struggle to find one word to describe the topic of that day’s post.

But all that was soon going to change … and the metamorphosis of this blog began.

My friend Marge worked in nearby Wyandotte and urged me to sign up to blog on a hyperlocal news website called “The Wyandotte Patch”.  So, in July of 2013, I started blogging there under the title of “Reflections and Recollections”:  https://patch.com/michigan/wyandotte/lifestyle

In conjunction with posting on Patch, I decided to step up my game a little and started carrying a camera with me or using stock photos to jazz up my posts.  There were a group of Facebook Patch bloggers from across the U.S. and we exchanged our posts and commented on them.  We even had a seasoned editor who would oversee our posts, and sometimes offer suggestions.  Joanna mentioned I should break up the gray matter in my paragraphs and make them more inviting to the eye.  She also wondered why I only used a one-word title?  At first I was crushed by her comments, but what did I know anyway – I was a “newbie” in the blogosphere.  I took Joanna’s advice then, and I’m always ready for any suggestions to enhance my daily trudge report.

Spurred on by the fun of writing at Patch, next I joined the Community Bloggers Forum at “Heritage Newspapers”  in September of 2013.  There are various Heritage publications that carry my blog on their blog rolls and I am excited to be a part of this “family” too:  http://www.thenewsherald.com/blogs/#community_blogs

The rest is history.  I love writing these posts – they give me joy to recount the tales of my meanderings, even though I wondered in the beginning how long I could sustain a blog which was seemingly only about birds and squirrels and woodsy nature nooks.  I’m ready for Winter to move on out of here, so that there will be more words written and images taken, (though often amateurish), to memorialize that day’s trek.

Onward and upward for walking and writing … today’s post is #1,072 and may there be many more to come.

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness” ~ Albert Einstein

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SE Michigan’s Snowmageddon 2018.

DRIFTS

It’s the day after Snowmageddon and unfortunately Mother Nature is not quite done with us yet.

This was the biggest snow storm to hit SE Michigan since the Super Bowl Blizzard in 2015 where we got a foot of snow.

Yesterday’s grand total was 9.2 inches of snow.  What made it so bad was we had new snow nearly every day this past week, starting with last Sunday’s 5-inch snowstorm.   I sure am glad I got out while the gettin’ was good the past two weekends.

This morning, I peered out the front door before venturing outside.  I saw humungous hills and valleys of snow and it looked like skiers might come schussing down the street any moment.  I didn’t see any neighbors up and digging out yet, so I decided to take the camera and capture some images of that pristine show for today’s blog.

I suited up to head outside.  The snow had drifted against the screen door; good thing I had a big breakfast so I could give that door a little oomph to get it open.  The sweep had also frozen to the stoop, but luckily it didn’t tear it.

Wow!  It’s a good thing it was a gloomy-looking sky because all that snow would have been blinding.  The sidewalk leading to the backyard had not been shoveled since I finished up yesterday at 9:00 a.m.  As you see in the above picture, snow drifts settled against the fence or blew into mounds along the garden.  Those mounds of snow are not bushes, but mini-mountains made by Mother Nature.

I was wearing knee-high boots and the snow came up over them in some places.  The backyard looked beautiful.  I wonder who visited on the back patio in the wee hours of the morn?

TRACKS1

Maybe it was the squirrel who clambered down from that nest way up high in the tree.

LONE SQUIRRELS NEST

I was looking for the blue jay to take a picture of him, but he was MIA.  Then, all of a sudden snow flurries erupted.  I wanted to take more pictures, but didn’t want the camera to get wet, so I hustled to the front yard to take them before a full-fledged blizzard ensued.  There were two City snowplow drivers having a brief rendezvous out front.

TWO PLOW DRIVERS

Suddenly, one drove off and the other guy came tearing down the street a few minutes later, blading away all those inches of snow and simultaneously depositing ice-filled crud onto the apron of each homeowner’s driveway.   Nice!

SNOWPLOW

That heavy mess gave me an extra hour of work for both driveways.  Our City declared a snow emergency from 9:00 a.m. Friday through 9:00 a.m. Monday, so no one can park on the City streets.  Some people try and do it anyway and usually get a ticket.

Camera in hand, I paused and looked for some interesting shots to best illustrate this massive snowfall.  I meandered over to my neighbor’s house, and, in doing so, put the first footprints of the day on the snowy sidewalk between our two houses.  “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” may be a beautiful Christmas song, but I’d rather be walking on the perimeter path at Council Point Park on a Winter’s day, than on this loooooong length of City sidewalk which I have shoveled nearly every day this week, and countless times already this season.

SIDEWALKFINAL

In the driveway, their car was groaning under the weight of the snow.

CAR

The BBQ grill was barely recognizable – after all, we’d had about 10 inches of snow this past week before Snowmageddon.   The backyard looks frozen in time .. just like it usually does all Summer, except blanketed in snow and ice.

Speaking of frozen, check out these lethal-looking icicles which I elaborated on in yesterday’s post.  They look like translucent daggers … or stalactites.  I quickly took the photos, then steered clear of them in case one broke and fell down on me.  It wasn’t until I looked at all my photos tonight, that I noticed some icicles on my own house, despite me crowing about having none yesterday.

ICICLES1

 

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This backyard was always a haven for birds, but the neighborhood birds may not feel too welcome right now.

These bird houses, as well as the various garden knickknacks sitting on the wooden rack were similarly dripping with icicles.

ICICLE2

I’m sure the cardinals are drawn to this feeder with their likeness on it, but unfortunately it is nearly empty right now.  I like how the feeder nestles right into the bare tree with its branches laden with snow.  I heard the distinctive tweet of a cardinal, probably in my own barberry bush where they usually build their nests – that beautiful red bird would love to feast on some safflower seeds – I just know it.

CARDINAL

And out front, that birdbath was topped off with more than a foot of snow, so no baths or drinks today for our fine-feathered friends.

BIRDBATH

Tea for two?  That table and chairs sure aren’t occupied these days.

TEA FOR TWO.jpg

I finally decided to quit fiddling with the photos and get crackin’ on the snow shovelin’ – ugh.  The snow is piled as high as my waist in some spots and throwing the snow to the side is getting more difficult.  I have to walk a fair piece just to dump it off the shovel.

We’re getting freezing rain right now, followed by 2-4 more inches of snow.

Somebody up there please make it stop!

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Fire and Ice.

Fire and ice - header

The torch relay is complete and the cauldron has been lit by Olympic gold medalist Yuna Kim, who even skated a little before the official lighting.

So let the Winter Games begin.

I used to follow figure skating competition for years and watched every televised skating event for the individual men’s and women’s competitions.  Back in the 80s and 90s, I followed not only the “Battle of the Brians” but the careers of all the young men and women skaters, until slowly each of those skaters eventually went pro or retired.  Though I’m not familiar with anyone competing in the five upcoming Olympic skating events, I will probably try and catch a few performances over the next two weeks.

Tonight I saw snippets of the Opening Day ceremony and heard an interesting factoid.  Apparently, some of the snow made for these Olympics comes from snow-making machines manufactured right here in Michigan.

Truthfully, Michigan could send a lot of the real deal to Pyeongchang without batting an eyelash – there’s a whole lotta snowin’ goin’ on here right now!

First, there was three inches of fresh snow overnight, and since then, the snow has been coming at a fast and furious pace, sometimes at about one inch of snow per hour.  Reports on total depth in my city vary from 8 to 10 inches so far.  Enough already!  The snow had icy pellets and was not the soft and powdery kind like earlier in the week.  It stung my face with tiny, needle-like pings.  I was soaking wet when I came back in the house this morning, dripping snow from the pom-pom on my chullo hat to my lug-soled boots.  My jacket hood blocks my peripheral vision, so I usually keep it pushed back off my head, but,  I’m sure I flicked out at least a shovelful of snow into the laundry tub from inside my jacket hood.

But, enough of me and my travails … at least I didn’t have to go out again later as my neighbor took the snow blower to both our properties around 3:30 p.m.  I was ecstatic, especially as I wasn’t counting on him doing so, since he is recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia.

While outside this morning, between huffing and puffing and hefting and hoisting, I did take a few minutes to gaze at, and appreciate, the snowy vista before tackling all that white stuff.

During the Winter, my neighbor’s yard usually holds more intrigue than mine, like this forlorn-looking fire pit, its embers snuffed out months ago, and now buried beneath more than a foot of accumulated snow.  Firewood is piled up near the garage waiting to take the chill out of a late Spring evening – remind me again what Spring is please.

firepit

There are lethal-looking icicles lined up like soldiers, that dare you to get near them, because, should they snap in half, they’d surely stab you and you’d be a goner.  Mercifully, last year’s insulation job now keeps my house icicle free, thus eliminating the need to go along and knock them down one-by-one with a broom handle.

But, ice is everywhere else and I slid more than once after I removed the snow off the sidewalk.  A fellow blogger took a tumble last week after sliding on a snow-covered patch of ice.  She fell hard onto her arm and broke it in three places, necessitating surgery and pins in her left arm.  These days I’m glad to step into the house and onto the landing, and leave that ice and snow behind, because just thinking about poor TJ’s painful ordeal makes me shudder.

Those Winter games may be 6,583 miles away from my house, but I’ve had a Winter game going on in my own yard.

Since I can’t get my kicks in the sticks until the weather gets a whole lot better, I’ve gotten a little nature fix, courtesy of  a beautiful blue jay.  From his high perch in the tall oak tree, this bird, with its distinct crest and beautiful plumage, has been watching me intently while I shovel, the gears in its brain no doubt thinking “gee, I’m glad I don’t have to do that.”  I’ve glanced over more than a few times to see a pair of steely eyes fixed on my every move and the occasional screeching serves to further announce his presence.

So, yesterday I had a little extra time since there was no snow to shovel, save for the mess the snow plow made at the end of the two driveway.  Once again, the blue jay was in residence in his tree, so I reached into my pocket to pull out some peanuts left over from Saturday’s foray to the Park.  I took three peanuts out and placed them on the wall ledge near the garage.  Then I stepped back and watched from around the corner.  That blue jay flew down immediately and swooped by to grab one peanut with his sharp beak.  He’s much too big of a bird to land on the ledge, necessitating a “fly-by” so he repeated that move two more times, gliding by gracefully, collecting his prize and off he went again.  Next, I placed three more peanuts, standing up straight up in the snow.  He was not so eager to dive bomb onto that snow-covered boxwood bush, so he looked at me and I quipped “well, now you’ll have to get your feet wet for these Bud.”  After a moment’s hesitation, there he was, a flash of blue in the gray sky, once again making three trips, perhaps taking them home for the family.  I lingered in the cold to watch him, then demonstrated I had no more peanuts by turning the bag inside out.  He looked dubious, but then flew away.

Today, the snow was flying and I took a breather in the backyard after I saw the blue jay in the same spot.  I swear this savvy bird looked right at my coat pocket as if to insinuate I was holding out on him.  Of course I was packing peanuts in my pocket, so I lined up three on the ledge and another three in the snow just like before, then told him “a peanut for your thoughts my fine feathered friend but I gotta fly now.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as one by one they disappeared, then so did he, just as I was kicking the snow off the shovel and my boots to go into the house.

I wish I’d taken pictures of our little interaction, but it was snowing so heavily I didn’t want to risk taking the camera outside.  But, I am sure this bird is one of many that used to frequent my neighbor Marge’s back deck where she always plied them with treats every morning so she could watch the feeding frenzy from her kitchen window or door wall and take photos of them.

a

I wonder if this is the same jay that I interacted with today?

b

I know he’ll be waiting on me tomorrow when I go outside, his newly discovered benefactor and dispenser of peanuts.  Shh – don’t tell the squirrels I’m sharing their goodies!

[Image of fire and ice by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay]

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Tuesday Musings.

close up planner page

The weatherman told us that Winter is flexing its muscles.  That’s an interesting way to describe the onslaught of snow we’ve received this first week of February.

Old Man Winter is not the only one flexing its muscles.  I fear I’m already looking like Popeye the Sailor Man, that cartoon character from my youth who was always touting his big biceps.  As to me, it’s been three mornings in a row shoveling show, plus tomorrow and Friday, it appears shoveling snow will be my morning agenda as well.

I guess if you have to endure tonight’s 2-3 inch snowfall, you might as well get a giggle over it, as you see in this chart from Click On Detroit’s meteorologist Paul Gross:

02-06-18 snow meter

For the past three years, I’ve had this “deal” going with my next-door neighbor … I shovel the snow for both our houses all Winter long, and he cuts the lawn for both properties in the growing season.  I’m no math whiz, but I know that you cut the lawn more times than you shovel the snow … um, most years anyway.   The last two Winters have been mild with not too much snow, but this year we’ve been slammed.  My property (and especially the driveway) is half the size of his.  So, you now know why I said grrr to the Groundhog’s prognostication – it wasn’t just about putting a halt to my walking regimen.

The hardest working muscle in your body is the heart.  Good thing my ticker is in good shape, so I can continue to shovel my way through February, a/k/a National Heart Month.

Heart disease runs in my family though, and my grandmother and eight of her nine siblings, succumbed to heart disease.  My mom had a heart arrhythmia.  I hope that giving up red meat three years ago and walking 1,050 miles in 2017 thus makes me heart smart and healthy for a long time.

As to this perpetual snow, I was perplexed that our City’s schools were all closed yesterday.  We ended up getting 5 inches of snow on Sunday, so most of the schools in Michigan closed Monday.  I don’t think we ever got a snow day at junior high or high school – ever!  It was a 2.2 mile round trip daily trudge from my house to those two schools, which were side by side.  I really don’t want to be one of those people that says “when I was your age …” BUT, we didn’t get any breaks when it snowed back in the day.  While my parents never gave me the lecture about walking five miles uphill to a one-room schoolhouse, they insisted that walking to school in the snow would build character, keep me from getting chubby and put roses in my cheeks.  I accepted their logic and now, all these years later, I realize they were spot-on.

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