Ugly April Day

What an ugly, cold, miserable, windy, rainy day! (And I complain as one who had to be out in it, tagging trees, assembling traps, and as the lightning crackled and popped around us, hanging the purple box kites in trees.) Itʼs after 5:00 in the evening, dark as December (but maybe a pre-Saturnalian afternoon of about 3:20 CST).

In reality, although my partner and I were out and about today, we only put in perhaps two and a half hours. I know because I was at home, settling down to what I actually did do today, not long after 9:30 this morning. We only hung two traps (and thoroughly investigated one gridded four square miles completely to locate no usable ash tree, not even one). As we were trying to wrap up the northwestern quadrant of Clinton County, I donʼt think we even got much more than fifteen miles from home — but as I was the navigator, not the driver, I am not sure about the total miles driven.

I remain the active trapper, putting the sign on the tree (“Do not Disturb. USDA Ash Borer Project…”) and draping/tying a long visible ribbon of fluorescently bright tape nearby to mark the spot for future return visits to check the trapped bugs (or, as The Lovely One might say, “buggage”), assembling the cardboard contraption as the frigid winds howl gouts of rain right up my backside and into the opened rear hatch of the GOV, and with trap a-dangle at the end of the extended pole, attempting to ring a lofty but mostly horizontal branch with the “hanger.” (And successfully untangle the poleʼs hook from the hanger so as to retrieve the pole for future endeavors.) My partner is the mapping/paperwork/computer-file form-filler-outer. And she usually gets out to help hang the trap on the distant end of the pole before I lift it aloft for the savage winds to swoop and swerve.

But today, the gunshot pops of indiscriminate celestial electrical discharges (like an insane photographerʼs flash run randomly amok) followed by earthshaking, gut-rumbling and erratic double-stick snare drum rolls of omnipresent thunder were the straw. The one that broke… My partner called it a day even before I got that second trap in place (perhaps she took pity on the absolutely sodden — drenched from waist to foot  — and bumbling trap handler, me). So we turned right around and went straight back to Our Town, dropping me (and my extendable pole, requiring a painstaking cleansing of the infinitely glutinous goop and grass acquired from too intimate contact with the sticky sides of the traps — gluey to catch and hold the attracted bugs, of course) at home, where I spent my busy day not yet cleaning the pole (but soon — oh, yes, so very soon).

…just a sample

See, my work day was not shortened. Not this day. I had left training with two modules/lessons to complete. And exciting stuff it was, too (scored as utterly more enervating than Defensive Driving had been, significantly more soul-sapping than Visa-prepared lessons on utilization of the governmentʼs fleet cards  — blechh). I had to complete self-education from FEMA.* However, seven hours and two tests later, boy am I informed and approved on such arcana as NIMS, JFO, Incident Action Planning, ICP, Unity of Command, Span of Control, Staging Areas and Helispots, Operations/Logistics/Planning/Financial and Administration Sections, interoperability, Incident Management Teams, Emergency Management Assistance Compacts, resource analysis, Strike Forces, Transfer of Command Procedures, and… And you are not (to quote Mr.Chase, not of the loathed bank variety). Never, by the way, let anyone tell you the military has nothing to do with disaster relief…

And thatʼs how I spent my Tuesday. Online, staring at the big screen, stifling yawns, and forcing my attention to remain as riveted as humanly possible. Even as the rain deluged and rattled against the windows and the siding. And as the mere twenty traps — that we have successfully suspended — thrashed, terpsichored, and tumbled (and hopefully remained essentially in place in what I duly hope are indeed ash trees). But I should be/am now flawlessly FEMA certified (and I never realized before today that signing on to this seasonal job meant me volunteering to save, in my appropriate and delegated lowly role in the Chain of Command, the world in case of disaster).

So it goes. Tomorrowʼs forecast** to be a better day.

* And, demonstrably, in the training materials (not the tests) FEMA had an outright error, clearly contradicted by their own information. (I guess I am lucky that question was not on either test.) Details are available upon request…

** …and not “forecasted” — an irritating unlogism beloved of halfwit weather broadcasters and found today in the FEMA training materials.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Cold Day at Work

I got to see some supposedly pretty parts of Clinton County today. Unfortunately, I was driving and not observing the natural, rural wonders of eastern Iowa. I did notice one nice vista across a little pond toward some evergreens at an intersection. But since I was mostly driving on gravel roads in a still not-completely-familiar vehicle beneath icy and heavily overcast skies with a good wind (perhaps twenty miles per hour?) blowing its wild way around me, I mostly just studied the layers of excess gravel and the bare black muddy patches of road that would require special navigation. Furthermore, it was cold. I donʼt think we topped forty degrees Fahrenheit all day. And if the air officially got warmer than that, the forceful wind chilled things considerably back into the near-freezing range.

Our Iowa skies were definitely not this blue or clear today…

I worked the morning on my own, as my partner had a medical appointment before she could drive over to Our Town and register at one of our two chain motels (she wisely chose the one which is newer, larger and farther-from-my-house). She had recommended that, rather than pointlessly waiting for her to arrive, I should try to get a trap set (my first entirely on my own) at the local campground on the south end of town. I had checked it out on my way back in on Thursday and knew there were plenty of ash trees out there, some pretty tall and bare of branches until a long way up. I also figured I should contact city hall for formal permission before I just did my thing.

City Hall was quite agreeable, although they insisted they needed no more ash borer information cards or handouts, so I drove straight out to the campground and put up a trap. I had gotten pretty smooth (although I assume, from my partnerʼs perspective, painfully slow yet) assembling the purple cardboard contraption — awling a hole in each side flap through which to thread a plastic, self-locking tie strap; inserting the three prongs of the “spreader” on the top; dangling three bags of lure from the spreader; and then attaching a hook. Back at the office during training (lovely days of sun and pretty decent warmth, now just a bright, faded yearning in my soul), I had not been a star at hanging the assembled trap, using my forty- (?) foot, extendable pole. I got better last Thursday, but I still have trouble keeping the trapʼs hook on the hook at the end of the pole. And itʼs usually a struggle to get the trapʼs hook over a branch high up in a tree (being ashes, these trees have plenty of “junk” branches growing helter-skelter everywhere). However, I got my trap up at the campground and the necessary digital and paper records completed in pretty good time, so I set out to get more traps in the Maquoketa area up.

I actually did five traps before it was time to meet my partner and depart for southerly climes (one county south). Sadly, that number meant I averaged five per hour until noon.

We did better during the afternoon not-quite-five hours, positioning a dozen more — nearly a respectable number (I had heard at training that in the old eight-hour days some people could plan on getting fifteen traps up). It wasnʼt quite five hours because travel time counts, and we needed to get my GOV [see yesterdayʼs post/footnotes] parked by 5:30 (didnʼt quite do that well: mine wound up an eleven-hour day).

However, my first actually full day of work is finished, and I am not (utterly) dead or in (hideous) muscle pain. By my count I only have 192 more such days (or thereabouts) left…

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Just Like Starting Over

I turned in my hourly work record for the final six days of of my month-long substitute teaching tenure in what had once been my old job about 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Give it a few more days, and I will know just how much cash that extensive period of work will have earned me. (I hadn’t known until part way into the stint that a sub’s pay increases after a certain period of time. Really bright, aren’t I? Most workers investigate that kind of thing, monetary rewards and benefits and all, before starting a job.) I am looking forward to perhaps a thousand new dollars in my account overall.

The canines have all been safe hereabouts throughout March…

What I know already is what the job has cost me. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic (really just creating a monetary metaphor for contrast), but time lost can never be regained, and I don’t think I made the best use of what time the job left me during March. First, I spent time early on dreading the responsibility of returning (even temporarily) to that old (more than) fulltime job. I tried to rest up for those far-too-extended days (such as I mentioned in yesterday’s post), and that urge to have slept well before a huge day at school kept me in bed each morning when I could (and should) have been out for a run.

Yes. I haven’t really gotten any exercise since this month got going (as I never did). In particular, until this morning I haven’t done a daily run (with the normal excuses/revisions as actually just a slovenly and slothful slog — even slacker than a jog). And until a few hours after this post appears, I won’t know if I managed to drag my sorry behind from the warm bed today. (After all, I believed each evening as I retired that I was going to get up and get going the next predawn. And all month I never did.) After that immense and lazy gap, the first time out is going to feel exactly like the title of today’s post.

I just hope it is/was/will be this morning that felt just like starting over. The longer I put it off, the worse that new beginning is going to be.

One of these days (or months) I must sign up for the workout facility at the local hospital, too. I quit my membership in the local Y (the membership that I notoriously never used more than a handful of times), intending to shift my loyalties and improve my performance with the county health center this month. What with long days at school, that hasn’t happened. Yet.

And all too soon, I’ll be starting over in another way with a brand new summer job, as well. (At least that employment provides the personal benefit of working outdoors — even on rainy days — and providing the opportunity of plentiful exercise. Using my upper body for anything is going to feel altogether new all over again, too.)

Time to get started…

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Blizzardʼs End

The birds had consumed nearly the whole tube of seed in just over twenty-four hours.* Can you tell I am knee-deep in snow and still at least a foot off the ground? The feeder nearly touches the drifted snow!

Tuesday afternoon, February 1, the storm blew in like wind-driven fog, the flakes were falling that thick and fast. Janet got home from work about an hour early (although a little later than I would have preferred myself). However, she made it with only a few white-out moments. We hunkered down for Tuesday evening as the storm howled loudly and whipped incredible amounts of snow into our windows. We went to bed, lulled into unconsciousness by wind wailing and screaming outdoors.

Assuming she might call in, unable to make it to work on Wednesday morning, I had delayed my Wednesday morning alarm for an hour or two. The blizzard, after all, dumped fifteen inches of new snow on us that night. Janet got up a little later than normal to check the road conditions via phone and then leave her message at work. “Travel was not advised.” She returned to coziness, and we didnʼt arise until just after 8:00.

The city snowplow had come through perhaps an hour earlier, evidently moving fast as it had scattered snow and chunks fully halfway up our drive. I also discovered we had a vast, deep drift from our little porch all the way across the door of the garage (in fact, the drift actually covered the whole front of the house, but I was only interested in the part of it I would have to clear). I determined to start my day by shoveling us out. So I dressed myself in many layers, capped with my new white windbreaker, that Janet had given me for Christmas, on top and my thin snowmobile pants over my running tights below. I had found recently that both garments insulated me almost perfectly from wind and cold. I pulled my rubber boots on over my shoes before facing the blizzardʼs deposits.

The remains of the big snow dune… See what I am talking about? It was truly disheartening.

Just opening the garage door disheartened me. The drift was fully chest high (about four feet, swaying up about a half foot partway along) and nearly eight feet across.** But I valiantly got out my shovel and began trying to dig an opening in front of the entry door. I didnʼt do very well, merely hollowing out a tiny space that immediately filled with snow. I did attempt to shovel out a narrow lane across the front of the big garage door, but I couldnʼt keep any of this cleared space from gathering collapsed snow, so I determined to try the snowblower. When I opened the big garage door before starting it up, I found myself facing a wall of white. “Disheartened” may have been too jovial, too upbeat a word…

However, I did start the machine and push it out into the wall of snow, which immediately collapsed all around me and it. But I turned the blower sideways and, having closed the door, cleared that little alley between the garage and the drift, an alley that kept filling with snow that fell off the drift without apparently diminishing the drift itself whatsoever. I pushed the sucker through that snow again and again, without apparent success, merely maintaining my little passage before the door.

The Lovely One on the steps she cleared beside the big drift.

And then Janet appeared, decked out in her winter gear, ready to help! I had turned the corner at the far end of the drift, where it was only about a meter tall, and opened a collapsing lane out to the middle of the driveway along the eastern edge. I told her to take over the machine while I went back for my shovel to try and attack the big drift.

Every effort I made just saddened me because the snow was so thick and deep. But as she cleared the wind-scoured center of the driveway, and I kept pushing snow along my little curved alley between the garage door and the drift and around and out into the open area, and she moved on to reducing the considerable mess at the end of the drive, her success gave me some heart to keep at the immense snow dune. And by walking through the middle of the mass repeatedly (thank goodness for those new rubber galoshes!) and eventually pushing through with my shovel in that same spot and then repeating that process at other points in the drift, I slowly began to make progress, even as I frustrated her by pushing snow out where she had already cleared it. Meanwhile she challenged the blower, at the street-end of our drive, by attacking city-plowed mounds of snow that rose to six feet in height (not that she actually tried to snow-blow that deep a mound; the plowʼs tailings just built that high on the eastern side).

After more than two hours, having blown away much of the mess at the end of the driveway and then my reductions of the huge drift and then trading me the snowblower as she decided to clear our front steps, The Lovely One realized she had begun to freeze her toes in her thin socks and tight boots. So she went inside while I remained outdoors, first blowing away what she hadnʼt dealt with at the end of the driveway and across the entire street in front of our drive and a big drift off the six-foot pile on the eastern end, and then switching back to my shovel to try to clear the edges of the drive all the way to the actual edges of the drive (or at least nearer the verge of concrete). All in all, the effort took us not quite four hours, but the drive was absolutely clear and so was a good space of the street in front of our house.

Yep, me again, this time in the street beyond the big six-foot pile of snow. See how nicely I shoveled clear the actual street?

I also got a little disheartened when I realized that the guy who plows the old folks home across the street had merely shoved all the snow from at least one of the drives straight across into our yard! Now our house really is secluded behind a privacy wall of snow that extends the whole front yard. (I should have taken a picture of that.) Janet theorized that he hadnʼt done so before because I was usually outdoors shoveling by the time he arrived in his truck to plow across the way.

Once I got inside, I found out about her toe issue, which after more than an hour after sheʼd gone inside had been resolved positively. We spent the rest of the day being quietly domestic indoors, taking seriously the advice broadcast on every station not to go out unless it was “absolutely necessary.” And we had a great pot of leftover chili from Sunday night to consume for supper!

The workout against the snow had been so exhausting that we both retired to bed by 9:00 PM. Although I read for a while, finishing The Swords of Lankhmar, sleep came deep and fast. We slept solidly and well as temperatures plunged to double digits below zero.

Janet got out for work successfully on Thursday morning, and I stayed home in the subzero day and eventually wrote this.

Thus endeth The Great Blizzard of 2011.

* Yes. Thatʼs me at the feeder. Janet got into having possession of the camera. What you see is my usual shoveling gear (minus the white windbreaker mentioned in todayʼs post). The colorfully reflective vest was purchased as running gear but seldom worn. I determined to wear it this year while shoveling to avoid being run down by jerks speeding toward the dead western end of our street.

** Or, looking at my picture, even wider across (although I am sure it narrowed somewhat on the far side of the drive, the eastern edge).

Click on any of the photos for greater detail and size.

Over 1350 words. So much for keeping these short this year.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

“Feed the Birds”

With a title alluding to Mary Poppins, evidently in a fine production as a Broadway musical right now (Janet had a friend attend with his family in December), what I am really writing about is, sigh, the big storm. Again…

(I will avoid the usual references to groundhogs trapped miserably in their burrows, particularly since I am writing the day before Groundhog Day. Weʼll let the link be our only acknowledgment of the “holiday.”) Heading toward noon on Tuesday, the storm is coming! All the TV stations seem to be altering their forecasts for the worse. Fun. I was hoping for the weatherpeople to have gotten overexcited, and I guess now that I hoped wrong.

The noon radar, Tuesday, February 1, from KWQC, channel 6 in Davenport — from their Facebook page.

Tuesday morning I scraped away less than two inches of snow from the first gust of frozen precipitation (this storm was supposed to arrive in two doses — a small one followed by the massive avalanche from heaven), including about half the street in front of the house. Of course the plow came through just after I had gotten out of all my winter outdoor clothes, even though I stalled a bit making the bed and doing a few other things inside. So I got redressed and cleared away what amazingly little had filled the very end of the drive and the gutter. (Are our city workers on the plows watching out for us this year? Thank you.)

The little gray-brown birdies eating (before I filled the feeder). Apologies for shooting through the screened window, but the little greedsters do scare so easily…

Then I spent the rest of the morning more or less just keeping up on the weather as the storm gradually encroached on eastern Iowa from the south and west. I read a little, I think a single chapter in The Swords of Lankhmar, checked e-mail and Facebook updates, looked at online radar repeatedly, kept e-mailing weather updates to The Lovely One, and listened to the wind howl past the house. I also watched the birds at the bird feeder.

For about three days after we installed the feeder we had no birds, but tiny gray-brown ones with white breasts (finches? sparrows?) started showing up between 8:00 and 10:00 each morning after that, enough of them, greedy little beggars, that I had to refill the feeder last Saturday. As I watched Tuesday morning, I realized I should fill the feeder again before the storm came in.

So around 11:00, having gotten dressed, I grabbed a two-cup measuring cup (along with my house key, money, losing lottery tickets and MegaMillions and PowerBall play sheets) and climbed into my new boots for a little hike around the house to the feeder. Once the bird-food supply had been replenished and the bag of seed returned to the garage, I trekked off, booted, for Fareway in order to buy some turkey bacon for BLTs someday and more losing lottery tickets (I just wish that money went straight to education like it used to in Iowa; that made my one-in-63,000,000 chance of winning riches reasonable or at least defensible). When I got back, I left the grocery sack in the garage and grabbed my shovel to scrape away what snow had drifted in since 6:00 in the morning (and it was a noticeable amount), figuring I had better be ready for the big blizzard to start in the afternoon.

This morning, Wednesday, I assume I have the snowblower out (in a few hours from the time this post appears) to redistribute, off our driveway and the street in front, the foot or more of new snow weʼre supposed to get last night. (This time delay between composition and posting is getting me a little confused as the snow hasnʼt even started yet, here, at noon on Tuesday, as I dictate.) And I assume Iʼll be going out several more times with blower or shovel to keep our driveway clear. The repetitious self-exhaustion in the winter wilderness is the reason I decided to post this bit of pointless diary, since I figure I wonʼt have much time to create something new (and better) for tomorrow.

Janetʼs planning to come home early from work on Tuesday; I donʼt know when for sure. At least she figured out a way to not get trapped in Dubuque overnight last night. The interesting development will be if she decides even to try to go today/Wednesday. I know most of the schools are seriously planning, unofficially so far, to be closed today. Unofficially, of course, in case the storm doesnʼt quite measure up to the forecast. Janet already had me cancel and reschedule our haircuts from Tuesday night to a little later in the week. Iʼm going to have the driveway cleared in case she wants to leave, but I donʼt think she should, if this mammoth invasion of winter wickedness measures up to its potential. And it doesnʼt sound now like itʼs going to fizzle.

Unfortunately the weather seems to be the only thing lately I have thoughts about, so itʼs the only thing I write about, so itʼs the only thing you have here to read about. Sorry about that.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Blizzard Warning

I figured I should have a post up for the first day of this new month, regardless how grim and gloomy this day and tomorrow are supposed to be. So as yesterday drew toward a 5:00 quitting time, I came up with a little something…

I spent Monday, when I wasn’t being idle, battening down the hatches in preparation for the Big Winter Storm on its way from the Southwest. The thing’s supposed to be worse to our south, but our forecast just keeps deteriorating — winter storm watch to winter storm warning to blizzard warning. Somehow between Monday evening and Wednesday afternoon, we are supposed to pick up (which is decidedly what I’m going to have to do) at least a foot of snow. Some models are saying “up to a foot,” and I would personally prefer to believe in them, especially in the lower and of that prediction.

On the other hand here in our non-idyllic portion of the great American Midwest, it never pays not to be prepared. So as soon as I dictate a few words to have some kind of post up early Tuesday morning (as the first storm winds down and the day hangs indecisively in suspense for the arrival of the second), I’m going to make sure our snowblower starts. I’m not sure my left elbow can stand pushing and tossing that much snow repeatedly for a day and a half, no matter how much I may need the exercise self-administering that elbow injury would involve.

Right now I’m not feeling too excited about life in the Midwest. Janet may or may not be able to get to work either today/Tuesday or tomorrow/Wednesday, or she may end up stranded in Dubuque this evening as the big blizzard dumps its white load all over us. I guess if she and I are separated overnight (I hope it’s not going to be longer), I could perhaps use the time to get some of the submissions I’ve been talking about lately actually printed, enveloped, postaged and ready to go. Alternatively, I could also do what I did on Monday, watch DVDs…

I had checked out from the library three Lord Peter Wimsey adaptations (not the old Ian Carmichael ones, but new ones, wihich I had missed on PBS, with Edward Petherbridge), and I spent Monday morning watching Strong Poison. It was good. I still have two more to see before I have to get them all returned. My exercise for Monday was walking that DVD back to the library and A Single Man, which we had rented for Saturday night, to the video store. Not much. I hope I do better battling the storm.

And now it’s time, heigh ho heigh ho, to get outside and shovel some snow.

Has anyone noticed that, true for once to my word, I have been revising the layout on last yearʼs posts? Weʼre “up-to-date,” so to speak, through todayʼs date a year ago. Check it out if you wish.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Stuff, some serious

I begin more than a little distracted and preoccupied today. One of our good friends (and one of my favorite former students) has had life take a bad turn when accidentally her husband suffered a long fall at work on Friday. I only know about the incident from Facebook, but my heart is torn with worry and concern, and we wish her and him all our very best. Sometimes life is simply not fair. Many times.

Mark Twain, as students in American Literature/Advanced Composition and English III (including Carrie) got to hear in a biographical video for many years, once remarked in the wake of his daughter Susyʼs unfortunate death, “We were robbed of our greatest treasure, our lovely Susy in the midst of her blooming talents and personal graces. You want me to believe it is a judicious, a charitable God that runs this world. Why, I could run it better myself.” In the face of far too many events, I find myself chiming agreement with Clemensʼs dire judgment. (And I am absolutely uncertain just how much I feel apologetic whatsoever to my conservative and evangelical or otherwise convinced and devout readers for this expression of my exasperated and powerful doubts.) At least, Teagan and his fellow worker live. We must hope for the best, and I do.

I got online, not expecting to learn bad news, about two oʼclock Sunday afternoon. Janet had left to take a two-hour burlesque workshop, about which she was very excited (as were a good number of other people in her Zumba class). Perhaps Iʼll feel like writing about that once I know more about it. Right now, as I write, she is still gone learning to shake her tassels. And my heart is still stone.

Earlier in the day, we were just having an ordinary Sunday at home — doing laundry, reading a newspaper, conversing, vaguely planning possible meals for the week, drinking coffee… About noon, she suggested perhaps we head outside and go to Theisenʼs for some rubber boots. I have talked for at least three winters about wanting some rubber galoshes, and I suppose she figured it was finally time to shut me up. After all I could have gone on my own any day, but I never had. So we drove the mile to the store and looked around. I tried on size tens and then size nines, wondering if I wanted boots or the ten-dollar-cheaper shoe-sized galoshes. I went for the more expensive boots, size nine.

See colored text

As we were heading toward the checkout lanes, she brought up another long-mentioned idea — a bird feeder. In this case the idea is one sheʼs talked about for a long time. So we headed across the store to the aisle where she could see wooden combination birdhouses/feeders (for far more money than we intended to spend). They also had a selection of tubular plastic feeders with multiple perches, which we examined and from which we selected a model. Then we had to determine which bird feed to buy, not easy as none of the bags explained very much for utter, complete novices like ourselves, but we eventually made a choice about what to feed the birds we hoped to see and headed to finally check out.

Since the boots were still the most expensive item by a long ways, I got to buy everything. And once we got home, the boots came in handy for the very first time as I stomped through the snow to hang our new feeder from the fruit tree in the back. I remembered reading that birds like some sense of shelter or cover when feeding, so I decided to hang it from the tree rather than from the convenient hooks on the otherwise unused clothesline poles at either end of our decrepit rear patio. The job wasnʼt even hard, the little piece of cotton rope — dyed green many years ago for the Andrew spring play, “Jack and the Beanstalk” — having been cut, pretty much uncalculated, to exactly the length I needed (although I don’t know how I did that; I just grabbed the full length of rope and cut off a few inches to use).

So now the feeder hangs in the tree waiting for birds we havenʼt seen yet this winter to arrive and eat. I hope they enjoy it. Something might as well get some pleasure from this sunny day.

Not much of a post, I admit, but I write distractedly, most of my thoughts having been driven far away from such lighthearted and simple matters. Please send whatever positive energy in which you may believe to the benefit of Teagan Rouse. And best wishes, Teagan and Carrie. You are both in my heart.

Attempting to take a photo for this post, I discover The Lovely One seems to have carried the camera along to her workshop. Our new bird feeder looks much like this image I found googling. Ours has a metal wire rectangular hanger at the top rather than the plastic loop shown.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A