OOPS!!

OOPS1

This post is a compilation of a few funny incidents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I was lucky enough to be at the right place, at the right time, to take pictures of a little mischief by our furry friends … and, then I had an “oops” myself, as you’ll read later on.

Grady the gray squirrel from the ‘hood.

Well, what do you know – I was able to grab a few shots of the elusive Grady.  I went to the front door to see if it was light out yet, and there was Grady, timid soul that he is, waiting on the porch for his morning treat.  He didn’t even scamper away when I opened up the inside door and peered out the glass.  I put my finger up, (as if he understood “wait a minute”), and then I scurried down the hall to grab my camera.  I was bound and determined I would get some pictures of this little guy who shows up, grabs his peanuts to go and never leaves any shells.  I tossed out about eight peanuts and he zoomed right over to grab one and headed off to the city property where he promptly dug a hole and buried that peanut.

grady digging

Then he came back for another one, stealthily up the steps, looking up at me once, but he figured I wasn’t going to harm him, so he grabbed another peanut before disappearing down the steps again.

grady going down the stairs

This time he ran next door and next thing I knew, his front paws were digging furiously over there.  Well, it’s his call whether to eat ‘em or bury ‘em I guess.  He’s rather apprehensive, but he sure is cute.

grady in the front yard

I took a lot of pictures through the glass in the screen door and luckily it was a gray day so there was no reflection.  It appears that Grady has got this “grab-and-go” routine down to an art.  When the last peanut was gone, so was he.

grady eating

grady eating1

An update on the Council Point Park feast.

Meanwhile, on the picnic table down at Council Point Park, it is slim pickin’s since I laid out all their loot and goodies ten days ago.  Seeds are strewn everywhere – the picnic tables and concrete floor are covered.

At first, the procession to dine was orderly … a nibble here, a nibble there.  Then the squirrels began to wreak havoc with the set-up … the seed bells were knocked over on their sides, the Liberty Bell ended up on the floor, yielding a treasure trove of mixed seeds everywhere as it bounced onto the hard floor.  When I arrived Christmas Eve morning, one of the chunks of seed bars was on the floor – the other chunk was missing.  The two sunflower seed bells were half depleted and swimming in a sea of black oiler seed shells. All that is left in the foil pan now is spent sunflower seeds and all the white safflower seeds.  This is because the squirrels gorged themselves on what they liked the most.

So I moseyed along … after all there were other hungry squirrels to feed who likely hadn’t monopolized the seed treats.

On Christmas morning I arrived and saw squirrel activity on the top of the table, so I meandered over to investigate.

Aim high or go home.

It is the Christmas season and isn’t this the time for sharing the love, and the gifts?

I saw an enterprising squirrel take off with the seed bar … first he knocked it on the cement floor of the pavilion  where he lost a few chunks off it, but grabbed it and ran like the wind.  Off he went lugging this seed bar, which was admittedly a bit cumbersome, but I could imagine him thinking “no worries … I’ll just grab it in my front teeth and haul it up the tree” … well that was an idea that might have worked on paper, but he needed either a helper or to break the bar into smaller pieces.  He struggled to figure out how to get it to the top.  He put it at the other side of the tree so no passersby might take it and off he went, presumably to grab a friend.  Hope he was ready to spring for pizza and pop for any helpers for this big move.

Well, maybe I misinterpreted the holiday a bit, because next was a squirrel running off with the smaller, mostly dilapidated seed bell as fast as his four legs could carry him.  Curious, I followed to see where he was going with it.  He stopped at the first tree – was this his tree where his nest is located?  I glanced up and saw no nest up there, but up he went, clutching the seed bell between his front teeth as he scrambled up the trunk, and ran along a lower branch.  I kept watching him, but this time with the camera in hand.  He saw me watching him and began climbing higher and higher, and he glared at me at each level he reached, as if it was my fault he had to go through these machinations.  You’d think I was going to force him to spit it out for goodness sake!  I finally gave up pursuing him with the camera, just about the time he dropped it into the water.  I saw the little splash and his face registered disappointment.  Well, I kind of saw that coming since the branches of the tree jutted over the Creek embankment.  I felt badly for him – he looked at me again and I didn’t know if that meant it was my fault or maybe I’d like to go retrieve that treat for him?  All dejected, that squirrel came down the tree head first and peered into the water clearly intent on getting it back.  All he saw was his reflection,  so he finally gave up, had a drink of water and headed back up his tree.

I walked six miles on Christmas Day and since I drove to the Park, this amounted to three complete trips around the entire Park.  So, on my third time around, here we go again, another squirrel running for its life lugging the remaining black sunflower seed bell, and, when he stopped and looked at me, I have to admit he was wearing a really guilty look.  I looked at him and said “did I say anything?”  Now, my mom would say that you had a guilty conscience and knew you had done something wrong or you wouldn’t have that guilty look on your face.  This treat was way too big to handle and obviously he hadn’t a clue what to do with it except to round up the family to finish it on the spot.

I know this squirrel was watching the others pilfer the treats as he had an OMG look on his face.

omg - what happened here

Then he turned to me as if to say “Linda, do something!”

linda - do something

I’ve included a slideshow of the shenanigans of the three enterprising furry fellows:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Aim high but pay attention.

The entire time my feet are traveling along the perimeter path, my eyes are roving – up, down, left right.  It’s important to look down as I don’t want to end up going home with goose poop wedged between the ridges of my walking shoes, but at the same time I don’t want to miss nice shots overhead.  I was looking at some seagulls cruising precariously close to my head, hoping that there would be no white splats on my hat when I got home, when I heard a squirrel chattering from high above … he looked at me with a look of disdain for some reason – “what did I do to you I called out to him?”  He ran away, so I guess he not be one of the regulars, like here, where you get the pleading eyes and nuzzling up to the shoe to get your attention.

pleading

shoe 1

shoe 2

A sudden movement and the rustling of a branch got my attention and I looked up in the air again and there was a heron balanced precariously on a branch … I wondered how in the world I could have missed that heron – was he there a moment before?

heron1

Do I need stronger glasses?  I still had the camera in my hand so I focused on that heron and snapped his picture.  I dared to zoom in on him figuring any moment he’d catch sight of me and take off screaming like a banshee.  No, he didn’t see me … in fact he raised one foot … must have had sore feet, and stood there stork like, then planted both feet firmly on the branch gazing onto space,  Usually I see herons embedded amongst the dead and weather-beaten trees across the Creek, so the heron, with its pale plumage, blends right in.  But this was odd to see a heron up so high on a live tree.

heron2

After a dozen or so shots, I looked down and there were a couple more squirrels nuzzling my shoes.  OK, I sweet-talked and fed them, then back to walking … walking was definitively taking a hit if I continued with these photo ops.  I whirled around to get back on the trail and my gaze met the headlights and grille of Lincoln Park’s finest.

Well that was an OMG moment for sure … I would have liked to see the look on my face, which I’m sure the office captured on his dash cam, when I saw that vehicle.  That black SUV filled the entire walking path and I never heard it as I was so intent on getting that heron’s picture, and, for all I know, it might have been there when I was fiddling with the squirrel up in the tree as well.  If the LPPD has a blooper roll, I’m sure my wide-eyed look would make it there.

Well, I felt an apology, or at least a chuckle, was in order and I walked toward the driver side, and noted, as I approached, that the officer had already rolled down the window and was smiling.  I said “I’m sorry … I guess you know I never saw you!”  He say “yup, I knew that – did you get your shot?  I saw that heron fly away?”  I said “he’s really skittish if he is the same heron I see all the time … he bolts when he sees me.”  He laughed at that and I figured since I had the opportunity, I’d ask if there were any more coyote sightings.  He said “no” and I said that was good as there had been one on my street as well.  Well, I stepped aside so he could be on his way – the police often drive on the perimeter path to check out the Park for any suspicious activity … so, going forward when I aim high, I’ll take a look all around me first!

police

police1

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas Day

Be filled with wonder, be touched by peace.

~ Anonymous

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Family, friends and sweet memories.

Old typewriter and Santa Claus hat on desk

Only one more “sleep” until Santa arrives here in North America.  For some of my blogging pals, Santa has visited and left, like for John in Sweden, where Christmas is celebrated on December 24th.

Do you believe?

Christmas was so much more fun when you believed in Santa Claus.  The first time I saw the Jolly Old Elf, I was just 8 months old.  My parents took me downtown to Eaton’s or Simpsons in Toronto to get my picture taken with Santa.

First Christmas

When I was a little older, I’d get bundled up to go downtown with my father.  We’d make a day of it.  We’d watch the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade, visit all the animated displays in the storefront windows, then head over to see Santa Claus.

The visit with Santa was the most important stop of the day, because I had already written to him and I’d want to ensure he got my letter and would bring that coveted dolly or pram.  Here I am sitting in the Big Man’s chair while he was on break … yes, the anticipation for our visit was just killing me!

Santa Chair1.JPG

The last time I saw Santa Claus was Christmas 1985.  No, I wasn’t there to sit on his knee and ask for a dolly that time.  We had driven to Toronto to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday in mid-November.  A few weeks later, a concerned neighbor of hers contacted my mom and said “Minnie’s not looking too good, she’s so pale and seems weak – perhaps you and Linda should come over to see her at Christmas.”  My mom was surprised at this and said “we were just over there for her birthday.”  After she hung up, my mom called my grandmother and asked how she was feeling.  “I’m okay” was the answer.

But that phone call from the kindly neighbor was still worrisome.

I don’t like driving in Winter, and because I took the bus to school and work for decades, and now work from home, I’ve never had to sharpen my Winter driving skills.  However, Christmas 1985, according to the weatherman, was promised to be clear and dry with no snowstorms, so Mom called my grandmother and said “we’re coming for Christmas to see you” and off we went two days later.

Nanny at Christmas.jpg

It would be the last Christmas we spent with my grandmother as she passed away the following month.

My grandmother only had a few days to plan for our visit.  She would not be bustling around, especially as to food preparation, so …  it didn’t matter if we gave her a month’s notice, or a day’s notice, … we would either dine on pot roast or ham … most likely ham.  It was always a joke in our family that anyone going to visit Minnie could always count on a hug, a kiss and a ham sandwich.  There was always a ham in the fridge – as soon as you walked in the door, the kettle was filled to make a pot of tea and out came the ham and a loaf of bread and the sweet butter to soften up.  A few thick slices of ham, a dab of honey mustard and you were handed a sandwich, so you were all set.  In the sweets department, there was always a package or two of butter tarts, a Canadian staple, tucked away in the fridge.  It was always this way, whenever we visited my grandmother.  That Christmas, my mom would supply extra sweets, after she raided our cookie-filled canisters – we weren’t going to be home to eat them anyway.

Now, here’s the backstory

My grandmother grew up on a farm in Ariss, Ontario.  It was a rural town near the bigger city of Guelph.  She had eight siblings.  Through the years, my grandmother would recount how every Christmas Eve, a local farmer would dress up like Santa and go from farm to farm, distributing toys to all the kids.  Their parents had already visited “Santa” (a/k/a George Moro) in advance, with the wrapped presents for him to produce at his visit to their home.

That tradition continued long after my grandmother and her siblings moved out, married and started their own families.  They would return to the farm every year at Christmas and a much-older George Moro would still arrive bearing gifts.  My mom and grandmother both said it was a fond memory of their Christmases growing up and I even heard how my mom, once she got a little older, turned to George Moro one time and said “you’re not Santa; you’re George Moro!”  My grandmother rushed the precocious Pauline out of the room, and she got a lickin’ and when asked why she said such a thing, my mom simply said “I recognized his laced-up high boots and he always smells of liniment!”

That was one of those stories that was told, and retold over the years.  Many times I’d turn to my mother and grandmother and say “how come we never had a George Moro – you know … one of those kindly neighbors that dressed up like Santa and came to visit on Christmas Eve?  I feel I had a deprived childhood!”

Well, for Christmas 1985, my grandmother may not have done much in the meal preparation department, but she called in a few favors and arranged for a visit from Santa’s family on Christmas Eve.

Knock-knock.  Who’s there?

We had finished our Christmas Eve dinner and treats and were sitting in the living room complaining how stuffed we were, when a knock came at the door.  My grandmother sent me to answer it.  It was dark outside, so she warned me “Linda – don’t open the door unless you know who it is!”

The “knocker” was none other than Santa Claus, accompanied by his Missus and an Elf.

Hmm.

Forgetting all about safety, not to mention the fact that only women were in the house, and, without a care in the world, I flung open the door and said “well, c’mon in!”

Mistle whoa!

So, Santa and his sidekicks strolled into the living room.  My grandmother had her usual Christmas decorations up and I had indeed noticed a sprig or two of mistletoe.

Well, Santa honed right in on that mistletoe.

Linda and Santa.JPG

Good thing Mom or Mrs. Claus grabbed the pocket camera to get some pictures.

Santa and Elf

Linda Mom Santa and Elf.JPG

Nanny and Santa 1.JPG

Nanny and Santa.JPG

SANTA 1.jpg

So, there you see it – evidence of my first and last visit with Old Saint Nick.

But wait … there’s more!

I’ve got a moral dilemma.

So, last week I did a lengthy post about Christmas cookies past and present, while mentioning some of the cookies Mom baked every year. Well, I’ve been nibbling away on those Archway and Pepperidge Farm cookies, and this morning my good friend Ann Marie dropped off two plates of homemade Christmas goodies:  kolaches and candy cane cookies.

Cookies.jpg

Aah, candy cane cookies … long the staple of my childhood and beyond, and I had just written, even dreamed about, the sweet memories I attached to those candy cane cookies.  And here they were again, sitting there, just waiting for me to indulge in them!

So, here’s my dilemma.  Tonight before I go to bed … do I leave out a plate of the store-bought cookies, or do I leave Santa some of Ann Marie’s scrumptious treats?

I really hate to part with the good stuff, but he IS Santa after all.

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‘Twas the day before Christmas …

It’s Christmas Eve … tonight, while Santa circles the globe, visions of sugar-plums, (and peanuts for some of us), will be dancing in our heads. I will try and get another post in later today, but wanted to share this poem from last year since most of you were not following me then. Hope it gives you a smile.

WALKIN', WRITIN', WIT & WHIMSY

Christmas scene featuring red robins, santa and his reindeer.

‘Twas the day before Christmas and out in the street

Not a neighbor was stirring, they must all be beat.

The goody bags were packed with the utmost of care

In the hope the Park critters soon would be there.

The squirrels were nestled all snug in their nests

With visions of peanuts that soon they’d  be blessed.

And I, in my many layers and a warm woolen cap

Had just arrived at the Park for a long Winter lap.

As I set out on the path, I heard some songbird chatter

Then in an instant, all the Park critters around me did gather.

Because what to my wondering eyes should appear …

But a Park filled with critters dressed in holiday cheer.

I dragged out my camera and all their goodies in a flash

Because it appeared they were having a Christmastime bash.

As my Park pals joined me…

View original post 406 more words

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Season’s Eatings.

HEADER

I originally planned for this post to appear on December 25th.  I wanted to use Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s quote about the joy of Christmas bells, which goes like this:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men.

But Mother Nature interfered with my original plan, when off-and-on precipitation was scheduled from Friday through Christmas.  So, I had to implement a Plan “B” and distribute the goodies beforehand.

(The truth be told, I don’t think the critters noticed it was not yet Christmas.)

One day this past Spring I went to lovely Elizabeth Park in Trenton, and, though it was the first week in April, it was a very cold morning at only 24 degrees.  This is such a picturesque park and has something for everyone … a boardwalk along the Detroit River, a marina for boating, lots of ducks to delight in and a scenic perimeter path that encircles the Park.  There are even some odd-shaped exercise stations embedded right in the woodsy areas.

But something else caught my eye on that cold April morning … some nature lovers were giving treats to the critters.  First, a man and woman came along toting two large boules.  They quickly broke up this crusty bread and spread it over a picnic table. Immediately they had “takers” for their bread.  It was then I noticed the nearby feeding station for the birds.  There was a tree with many bird feeders and suet cakes hanging from the branches.  One bird feeder was swinging wildly since a squirrel, misappropriating the birdseed for its own use and benefit, tried to do a balancing act and scam seeds simultaneously.

As I admired this tranquil scene, I took some photos, which can be seen if you scroll to the bottom third of this post.

After I headed back to the walking path, I told myself I was going to do something special for the critters at Council Point Park this Winter and so I have done just that.  It’s been fun watching them enjoying their treats, though, as usual, I’m sure the birds were rarely lucky enough to get past the domineering squirrels and enjoy the sunflower seeds and birdseed I put out for them.

So, now I’ll recreate what I did for my feathered and furry pals at the Park.

Day #1.

Earlier this year, I bought a bag of safflower seeds for the cardinals at the Park.  I had hoped to lure more of these beautiful birds to the ground as I walked on the perimeter path.  Cardinals love safflower seeds but squirrels do not, so I had some method in my madness.  The only problem was, the cardinals preferred swooping down to grab a peanut on the walking path, right from under a squirrel’s nose.

So I still had most of the remaining safflower seeds.  I got a five-pound bag of nut and fruit seeds, a nut and fruit seed block and three seed bells.  Two of the seed bells were strictly black sunflower seeds and the third was comprised of mixed seeds.  I also bought two foil cookie sheets to pile all the goodies into.

all the seeds.jpg

A week ago today was beautiful, full of sunshine and very mild for December.  I decided to go ahead and take my goodies as rain was predicted the end of the week and some lingering precipitation into the weekend.  I wanted to monitor daily how the birds (who am I kidding here …) and the squirrels were enjoying their feast.

I chose the picnic table under the pavilion where my feathered and furry friends could see their treats, plus the goodies would remain dry under the big roof.  I divided and spread the seeds between the two trays, broke up the seed block in two so it was easier to munch on, then plunked the three seed bells into the trays of seeds.

1 food a

1 food b

Then I waited.

I saw a couple of squirrels watching me the entire time – believe me, nothing gets past the squirrels, especially when it comes to food.  I pointed at the table, and even threw a couple of peanuts onto the table as an incentive for them to try what I put out.

1 food add peanuts

But, the squirrels can be stubborn sometimes, and instead of them leaping right over to the treats, a couple of them came nosing around my shoes as if to demand “no, feed us down here – we’ll go check it out after you’re gone!”

I saw no birds or squirrels stepping up to the table, so I left to walk.  By the time I had completed the first loop and had to pass the pavilion area, the squirrels  had discovered their treats – oh, there would be no stopping them now!

I snapped a couple of pictures of those squirrels.

1 food

1 squirrel

Day #2.

The first thing I did when I arrived at Council Point Park Monday morning, was to check out the goodies I’d left the day before.  I was surprised that most of the food was intact, including the seed bells.  Mike, one of the other walkers, caught up with me on the trail and asked “did you do that – the birds were lovin’ it when I got here at 8:00?”  I told him that yes, I was Santa Claus, and said I was inspired by the set-up at Elizabeth Park and originally wanted to hang the seed bells from a tree, but decided against it.

Day #3.

When I arrived on Tuesday morning, the critters had really dug into the treats and clearly more than just one squirrel had discovered those goodies.  It made me smile, especially the way this squirrel, who you’ll recognize as Stubby, (the squirrel missing half his tail), insisted on sitting right in the tray of food – a little uncouth perhaps, but he was enjoying himself, and who am I to criticize his manners anyway?

3 stubby c

After he pretty much demolished one of the sunflower seed bells, he moved on to the seed bar.

3 stubby d

Day #4.

The fourth day I sweetened the pot a little by adding some peanuts to the mix.  I knew they’d go over big with the cardinals and jays if they could get past the guardians of the gates, er … the squirrels, who were hogging the goodies.  The peanuts were mine.  I bought a can of cocktail peanuts for the holidays, and, just like my friends the squirrels, I could not keep my paws out of the peanuts, so I brought them along before I did any further damage to myself.  (After all, I still have all the Christmas cookies to get through.)

4 food a

4 food b

They were gone by the time I finished walking and headed for home.

Day #5.

Seeds were scattered all over the place  by Thursday – what a mess if it was in the backyard.  Clearly all the treats were a hit and my guess is the squirrels are gorging themselves after they beg for peanuts on the path like they are starving – we walkers are such suckers!  I approached the pavilion area, with all that food, and a squirrel came down the tree headfirst, clearly with peanuts on his mind!

got peanuts.jpg

Day #6.

Well, I didn’t make it down to the Park for Day #6 because we had a steady rain on Friday morning and I stayed tucked inside the house.

Day #7.

Well their treats are disappearing fast.

7 food

Gee, I wonder why?

7 squirrels

Many of the walkers have enjoyed watching the antics as well.  Some people had estimated that the food would last well into the new year, but I’m not so sure about that – more like through Christmas Day.  Next week I’ll give you one update.  I am going to put out some more suet throughout the Winter.  But meanwhile …

The Ecorse Creek … the eatin’ is good here too!

There was more food enjoyed than just these seed treats at my favorite nature nook.  Remember when I mentioned the other day how I glean information about Council Point Park from other people who walk there at other times?  For several weeks, we’ve had seagulls swarming around overhead.  I wondered why, and even mentioned it to a few of the other walkers.  Even more interesting to me, was the fact that what seagulls weren’t buzzing and swooping overhead, were sitting on the surface of the water, much like a duck, goose or swan would sit.  I’d never seen seagulls do that before.

seagull soloseagulls many1

Last Sunday I was studying the movements of Harry the Heron who was fishing in the Ecorse Creek.  I stood like a statue, lest he should see me and bolt, and I had my camera poised to capture him getting a fish.  My persistence was rewarded when Harry landed one and I caught him in the act.

heron

Considering he was across the Creek, and I was balanced precariously on a slippery slope trying to get the photo through a tangle of skinny branches and reeds, I was happy how the photo turned out.  While I stood there gazing at this heron, a trio of walkers came over to see what had piqued my interest.  They told me two other herons were at other places in the Park – three herons in one day … that had to be a record!

The next morning I positioned myself at the Creek embankment once again, as I noted that Harry the Heron was in fishing mode.  Another walker saw me standing there and I described how Harry had grabbed that fish in his beak and gulped it down in a heartbeat.  I even detailed how I saw the fish wiggling around as it went “down the hatch”.  Oh my!  I was told the herons and seagulls are in hog heaven because the shad are running.  Because inquiring minds want to know, I said “I guess a shad is a fish?”  He nodded yes, and said they were running like crazy and he saw them in groups, thick in the water, earlier in the week.  So, I learned something about shad and why the herons and seagulls were so active at the Creek – they are still hanging around as of this morning, so the shad must still be there.  Yesterday I saw a guy fishing for them off the cement landing.  I think you’d need to catch a lot of those little shad to make a fish fry, but maybe he was going to supplement his dinner with Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks, you think?

I am happy I did these treats for my feathered and furry friends.  In an ideal world, the birds and squirrels would sit side-by-side and share these treats, and the scene would resemble a Christmas card from National Wildlife Federation, so in my mind’s eye this is what really happens while I am not there to see it. 🙂

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It takes a village …

christmas-village-1

Over the years I’ve shared several stories about my work life … like my first real job, slinging hash at Carters Hamburgers, the small diner where I worked throughout my college years.  How I loved that place and everyone associated with it … especially my manager Erdie Pugh and his wife Ann.

A few years ago, upon learning about the untimely passing of the one and only mentor in my work life, Jerry Apoian, I waxed nostalgic about our time together at Young & Rubicam advertising agency.

And, recently I told you about mean Old Biddy Burgess, who stiffed me out of my money for raking all her leaves … it was “payback time” for her when my father fixed this dilemma for me.

But there was one more job I had, and I saved this tale for Christmastime.

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I had many little jobs in the neighborhood, like pulling weeds, raking leaves or shoveling snow, but none of those jobs had any meaning like the hours I spent working for an elderly widow around the corner.  I went over to see Mrs. Moss every Saturday morning.  I would dust all her collectibles, including her most-prized possession, a beautiful Christmas village, complete with a train which traveled around the entire village.  Through the years, she and her late husband had collected many village buildings, figurines of the town residents, trees and bushes, even cats and dogs running out in the street.  The entire village and train encompassed a large portion of her finished basement and was left up year round since it was way too burdensome to try to tuck away out of sight.  It was truly exquisite when the basement lights were dimmed, or shut off, and the display was lit up.

christmas-village-2

Mrs. Moss was quite elderly and could no longer go up and down the basement stairs, so, after I raked her leaves one day, she asked if I would be interested in another job since she had no family to help with this dusting task.  My job entailed dusting the entire village downstairs, as well as her fine porcelain collectibles that were placed on shelves in her curio cabinets in the living room and bedroom.   She said it would take about an hour to do this chore and asked me if $0.50 would be an adequate sum for me?  (Please remember this was circa 1967 or so and $0.50 was my going rate for all the little jobs I did.)  I said “yes” and Mrs. Moss suggested I get permission from my parents to come into her house to do the dusting and my parents were fine with it.

So every Saturday, I would walk over to her house and, while I worked, we’d talk about many subjects, and they often revolved around her life as a young girl at my age.  Mrs. Moss gave me an outlandishly large feather duster to accomplish the dusting task.  I had never seen one of these before and told her my mom and grandmother used old flannel sheets they had cut up and hemmed to do their dusting.

After this chore was finished, she’d serve us tea from an ornate silver teapot.  We’d sip that tea in bone china teacups and my mom would send along baked goodies for us have with our tea.  We sat on high-backed chairs with velveteen cushions, and on sunny days, the sunlight would stream through lacy curtains that hung in the huge bay windows.  I remember thinking how her hair was snow-white and she had high cheekbones with skin that was a pale pink.

When I was ready to go home, I’d leave with two quarters in my pocket, destined for buying 45s, a “Tiger Beat” magazine about all the bubblegum music idols, or “Teaberry” and “Black Jack” chewing gum.

About a month or so into my gig, my mom took me aside and said I needed to do the right thing and just do the dusting for Mrs. Moss for free because this was the neighborly thing to do, just like your father shovels the walk for the older folks in the neighborhood, or we take a plateful of goodies to them at Christmastime.  I said “but …” and she interrupted me by saying “your father and I will give you the money that you would get from Mrs. Moss – do this for us, because she is a lonely lady who likes the company and probably really could do the work herself – just imagine how you would feel to be old and alone in the world.”

So was I going to press for my parents to hand me fifty cents after that little lecture?

The next week I went to see Mrs. Moss, toting treats like usual, and when I was done with my work, she handed me the money and I said “no, Mrs. Moss, you keep it – I enjoy your company very much.”  She tried a couple of times to press the two quarters into my hand and I told her I had to leave and head home for dinner and skipped out the front door.  I told my parents that she persisted and I resisted.

The next Saturday I went to her home and knocked on the door as usual.  There was no answer.  She usually anticipated my arrival and was prompt in answering my knock.  I went around the house to use another door, but there was no response there either.

I tried knocking again, and finally gave up and went home and told my parents.  We didn’t have a phone number for her, so my mom dragged out the White Pages.  Her number was evidently unlisted, or perhaps Moss was not her real name?

I went back the next day to no avail.

I even stopped by after school a few times.  I knocked, but no one came to the door.

Next, my mom searched the obituary notices – nothing; it was as if she vanished without a clue.  Did she take a tumble and end up in the hospital, or a nursing home?  Mom said not to go back and call at the door anymore.

I never knew what happened to this kind lady and I guess I never will.

The loss of the wisdom imparted by Mrs. Moss was felt and I missed our Saturday morning get-togethers.  I remember I felt all grown up and worldly, sipping tea from that English bone-china teacup served from a beautiful silver teapot.

I believe in holding onto the memories that you hold precious and bringing them out and dusting them off every so often so that you can appreciate them all the more.

[Images of Christmas village by Jill Wellington from Pixabay]

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A little Friday frivolity.

friday

TGIF!  For many of us, since Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, we will enjoy a four-day holiday.  Sadly, our time off will pass far too quickly!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve collected some photos and stories and I’m going to combine them into one big blog post.

The Winter Solstice has arrived.

Today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year and the first day of Winter, my least-favorite season.  I remember when I still worked on site, it was depressing to leave for work in the dark and arrive home in the dark.  But, starting tomorrow, we’ll gain a mere second to our day as we crawl slowly toward those longer warm and sunshiny days that we all crave so much.  My favorite meteorologist did an article today retracting that promise of an El Nino, or very mild Winter, that he originally crowed about back in early October.  Well, I’m no climatologist, nor am I a meteorologist, but after we had a hard freeze in late September, a very cold October and sleet, snow and ice in early November, I didn’t think El Nino would be happening for us.  The new consensus is we will have warmer temps until mid-January, then colder and stormier weather for the last half of the Winter.  I hope Parker and his pals remember where they hid all their peanuts in case the walking days are scarce.  The jury is still out on whether we will have a white Christmas and I’m 100% fine if those snowflakes don’t arrive.  Yes I know “Bah Humbug Linda” … I hear you.

You sir deserve a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking!

This past Wednesday was bitter cold and very frosty out.  Jack Frost left his etchings on every blade of grass and the Ecorse Creek had a film of ice over most of it.  This caused some consternation with the geese as they veered to avoid the thin veil of ice and I watched them playing follow the leader along the Creek bank.   This picture shows a couple of the geese and you can see where the ice ends.

geese along the shoreline.jpg

For some reason, we’ve had a gaggle of geese at the Park that number at least fifty all week.  They’ve been grazing on the grass in a large group and not bothering any of the walkers as they gather in the area I call “the donut” as it is in the middle of the walking loop.  Consequently, there is no hissing or wing-flapping at the walkers, but one of the Canada geese got in a snit about something and took it out on what I believe was his mate.  I’ve seen this before – everything is hunky dory and suddenly the gander will turn to its mate or companion and just start hissing for no reason.  This goose kept it up and the other goose just watched him as if to say “ho hum, have your hissy fit –Santa will leave you a lump of coal for Christmas.”  Watch the sequence of pictures … they are hissterical.

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Holiday monikers … and then some.

Everyone knows who Santa Claus is, whether he goes by the name of Santa, the Jolly Old Elf, St. Nick or Kris Kringle.  Yup, the big guy in red goes by several monikers, just like I do when walking at the Park.  More and more I’ve lost my identity of “Linda” because many of the other walkers refer to me as “The Peanut Lady” or “The Camera Lady” … well, I can’t complain about being slapped with either of those monikers.  I have said in the past that I imagine the squirrels see me and there are tiny squeaks of delight, akin to those you’d hear by Alvin and the Chipmunks, as they whisper to one another “Linda’s here!”  I wrote a post one time about how we walkers refer to one another – most of the walkers either arrive with a friend or they walk alone.  Since we don’t always know one another’s names, we are “the guy in the green van”, “the fellow who takes his shirt off when it’s hot”, “the pole walker”, “the rollerblader” … and so on, so being Mr. Peanut’s sidekick is not so bad.  And I always have my camera in hand while I am doling out peanuts and walking.

I’ll be watching you.

The squirrels have a good thing going these days because there are even more walkers feeding them after seeing me interacting with Parker and his buddies.  Those squirrels are relentless in their quest for peanuts.  Basically, it is not just me who is a squirrel magnet, though Parker will run over to see me as soon as he sees the whites of my eyes and start nuzzling my shoe tops.  The other squirrels caught on to those actions too –now we have a passel of imposters!  But, I oblige them nonetheless.  For the squirrels, we walkers are treated like any port in a storm – we can’t take it personally though.  They equate all humans with peanuts, so they scurry to pose on haunches with endearing looks.  So we are all suckers for the squirrels … they are savvy and I am sure that when Mama squirrels teach their young ‘uns how to survive,  the #1 part of the learning process is “how to beg for peanuts” and the follow-up would be “how to keep the peanuts coming, once you’ve got those humans wrapped around your little paw”.

squirrel

You’ll recall I have fallen under the spell of Grady, the gray squirrel who hangs around my house.  I threw him a few peanuts one morning on the way home from my walk when he was sitting on the sidewalk, and yup, we have become fast friends, except for one small detail.  The only difference between Grady and the Park squirrels is that Grady usually shows up when I’m not there, except the one time I was out running errands and forgot to put peanuts out before I left.  I returned home to find Grady waiting on the porch, with arms crossed, tapping his foot and a look on his face that wavered between mad and sad.  So now, I fulfill my obligations for the little squirrel I’ve taken under my wing, and I place five or six peanuts in the same spot every morning, and they have been snatched up by the time I return from my walk, no questions asked.  I even reached my arm out the front door this morning, in the pouring rain, to toss out some peanuts for him.  He is a grab-and-go kinda guy, who doesn’t even leave the peanut shells.  Grady is such a polite little squirrel, but one day he’ll slip up and I can get a close-up picture of him.  I first saw this little gray squirrel in the backyard  in mid-November when I was taking pictures of the snow-covered roses.  He was inquisitive and came down the tree to get a better look at me.

grady2

I got these pictures of him, though blurry, and, since I am never without peanuts in my coat pocket, I tossed him a couple but he ran the other way.

grady3

I’m thinking about the song by The Police, “Every Breath You Take”” when I get to the Park some days.  Yup, the squirrels are there eyeing me.

squirrel eyes

But the other critters are watching too – like the geese.

goose looking at me

And then there are the cardinals.  They watch from their perch high up in the tree – “oh there she is, I’ll just swoop down and grab me a peanut when the squirrel isn’t looking.”  They study my every move, and this particular cardinal sat in a low branch of a tree staring straight at me for about five minutes– it was a little unnerving, and I couldn’t resist taking his picture as he was so close to where I was standing.  Maybe I should  add “The Cardinal Whisperer” to my string of names?

cardinal looking at me.jpg

P.S.  Sometimes the Park wildlife are content to have better subjects to study, like the male and female mallards making goo-goo eyes at one another.

ducks goo goo eyes.jpg

People I’ve met along the way

I really like when the other walkers at Council Point Park come rushing over to tell me to check out something, like the Great Blue Heron …

heron mike.jpg

… or the pair of Black Ducks that have landed on the Ecorse Creek and are sitting there relaxing and preening.  I took some pictures of those Black Ducks, a real rarity at our little Park.

black duck.jpg

I enjoy chitchatting with the other walkers who notice things about this Park that I miss as they walk at all different times and I usually walk in the morning only.  I like the mornings at my favorite nature nook as it is quieter there … often the only sound is nature … the ducks quacking, the geese honking and sometimes they fly so low I swear I can hear their wings flapping.  Even the heron’s horrible screeching sound is Mother Nature at her finest.  Sometimes the other walkers and I compare notes and last Sunday there were four of us gazing at Harry the Great Blue Heron who was entertaining us with his fishing prowess.  He was catching and downing fish much to our fascination.

Nature lovers abound at other parks as well.  When I visited the five different Parks two weekends ago, I met some nice people, besides the couple who were the subject of the feeding frenzy with the ducks tale.

For instance, there was this fisherman at Lake Erie Metropark.  He was leaning over the water, as he dropped his line from a wooden overhang in the marshland area of the Cherry Island Trail.

fisherman.jpg

Like me, you see how he was bundled up on that very cold morning, when the temperature and wind-chill hovered around 15 degrees.  In this part of the marsh, the current was stronger and the water was not frozen.  “Catch anything?” I asked him as I approached where he stood.  “Nope” was the answer, and then he added “I just came here to get away in nature for a while” and he winked at me.  We stood together companionably for a few minutes, saying nothing, admiring the drab scenery, dried reeds, or the many Phragmites plants with their feathery seed pods waving in the wind in the background, and, in the foreground, many mallards silently slipped in and out of the those dried reeds as they paddled in the cold water.

ducks in and out of reeds.jpg

It was quite peaceful until we heard a noise.  I’d been at the Park for about three hours by then and I’d heard that same noise and figured it was someone shooting off firecrackers.  As if he read my mind, this gentleman chuckled and said “these mallards are smart because they stay here at this Park so the hunters can’t shoot ‘em.”  I responded “those are gunshots?”  He nodded his head slowly, pointed and said “they’re hunting over at Point Mouillee, just 5 ½ miles down the road.”  I felt kind of dumb mistaking firecrackers for gunshots and told him I thought duck hunting season was over.  He said not until the end of the year.  We chitchatted, and he asked if saw the gaggle of geese, 100 strong, that were near Cove Point.  I told him I, too, was captivated by the sight  and we both saw them as we pulled into the parking lot.  I went over to take a picture as they literally carpeted the frosty grass.  I couldn’t get the entire group of them in one photo.

geese aplenty at lake erie

geese bunch at lake erie

There were many sunken spots in the grass where water had collected and frozen, and the geese walked gingerly on the ice, trying not to let their webbed feet go out from beneath them … I know that feeling geese, I take baby steps on the ice too sometimes!

geese walking gingerly

We chitchatted a little more and I told him I saw the “seven swans a swimming” from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” …

7 swans swimming.jpg

He said he was sorry he missed them because he was likely studying the water for fish nibbling at the end of his line.  We said our goodbyes and I hiked back to my car, thinking how nice it was to be out and about and meeting other nature lovers like myself.

I then drove to Elizabeth Park where I saw the couple feeding the ducks.  You have already read about that sweet story.  I kept walking, enjoying the sun, though no warmth was coming my way from that bright orb.  As I walked toward the big footbridge, something sparkly caught my eye … I honed in on all that twinkling to find a bride standing near the base of the bridge.

BRIDEA

Her gown had rhinestones or sequins and the sun’s rays caught them.  There she was on this very cold day wearing a white stole and carrying her bridal bouquet.  From afar, I watched as the photographer and his assistant fiddled with her stole and flowers, then took a lot of shots, then gently removed her stole from her shoulders.  I seized that moment to walk closer to the action, just as her new husband joined her.

BRIDE C

I called out my congratulations and told them after all these rainy Saturdays, they were blessed to have sunny, albeit cold, weather for their wedding day.  They agreed with me.  A pair of groomsmen ran over and asked me to take their photos as well … well, okay … I did and then they scurried across the footbridge to a bus that awaited the wedding party.

BRIDEC

BRIDED

The next day, at Heritage Park I arrived very early in the morning and the shallower portions of Coan Lake were frozen solid.  The mallards huddled together for warmth, their webbed feet planted solidly on the ice.  I’m going to do a separate post about that Park and the beautiful mallards, but it was at Heritage Park where I met Shelley and Beauregard.

shelley and bo

They were walking around the historical part of the village and I just had to ask, (because I am nosy), … “what kind of dog is that?”

beginning

And that is how I met this pair.  Beauregard (or “Bo” for short) is a breed called a Bouvier, and he was full of energy.  I asked if I could take his picture and this was the best I could do as he was like a whirling dervish … always in motion.  So you’ll excuse the fact that I cut his ears out of this one picture, but it is an up-close photo of his face so I used it anyway.

bo

bo1

Shelley and I lingered on the pathway as we chatted about how we enjoyed walking in this Park.  Bo was straining at the bit, anxious to get going on his walk, so we decided to just walk around the entire Park together and continue our chat.

I didn’t plan to make this post so long, but it seems I had pictures to share, stories to tell, and, you wouldn’t have read this entire post if you didn’t enjoy reading about nature … so I’ll leave you with this quote:

 One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”

~ William Shakespeare

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