Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Robin Territory! – Part 2

July 5, 2020

To pick up from where I left off, a week ago, we haven’t seen the fledgling since!

I hear what I think are young robin chirps, and hope that’s our little fledgling, that he’s survived the various neighborhood threats – cats, dogs, raccoons, cars, fireworks (ha).

Meanwhile this past Wednesday, July 1, David and I were sitting on the patio, and spotted a robin with a worm dangling from its beak.

Wednesday, July 1

Where are you headed with that worm, Mr. Robin?

To the nest! The eggs have hatched!

Here I captured a video.

Hungry little buggers!  Now both parents are running themselves ragged, feeding their brood.

A robin flew down I thought, to scavenge for food, hey, see how hard they work!

Showing you how to bathe after a hard day’s work.

I’m guessing that the eggs hatched out on Tuesday, June 30, and (with some luck) they will fledge on July 12-14. They have to survive in the nest 7-9 more days. I check on them several times a day. There is danger lurking in the trees around us. You hear them first, the magpies. They are no songbird!  A cousin of the crow, they hover over you from high up in the trees making a loud distinctive ‘wock, wock, wock-a-wock’ noise. They are smart though, and it’s hard to capture a photo of them – they hear the front door open and off they fly … Here’s one in the yard across the street:

Magpie! I heard the ‘wock, wock, wock-a-wock’ first.

We also have a large murder of crows in our neighborhood. Murder? Yes, did you know a  group of crows is called a murder?

Met this murder of crows in a neighbor’s yard, July 3

As in, they murder hatchlings, or eat the eggs in the nest even before they hatch. Crows, ravens, magpies and blue jays are all members of the Corvidae family of birds – loud, rambunctious and very intelligent. Crows are among the smartest animals on the planet. Here is an interesting link about crows. They live all over the world, except for Antarctica. They will eat practically anything – road kill, frogs, snakes, mice, corn, human fast food – yeah, keep a strong grip on your next take-out order. According to the article they are actually very social and caring creatures.

U-huh. Tell that to a robin. We had a nest with fledglings last year – as the fledglings grew bigger they also chirped louder and disappeared from the nest, about the time I spotted three magpies on our deck. You tell me …

Yesterday was the 4th of July. Our local fireworks, parade, and other large group festivities were canceled due to Covid-19. So of course people all around us were shooting off their own illegal fireworks, sky high. Our neighborhood felt like a war zone. I worried about the robins, with the loud BOOMS!, screeches and flashes all around them, over several hours. We came inside, closed all our windows and were able to drift off to sleep. But what about the robins?

I checked on them this morning, and all is well. Whew! Mom and dad are busy as ever. I refreshed the water in the bird bath.

I suppose it being  Sunday, July 5, still the weekend of our Independence Day, our neighborhood will turn into a war zone again tonight. Okay, I’ll admit that we bought fireworks too. For sensitive ears, mind you. I wasn’t thinking of our back yard robins when I bought them, but I’m pretty sure, the robins didn’t mind them much. This one was our personal favorite, and, well, if you ever find yourself at a fireworks stand contemplating the ‘Sir dumps a lot’  firework and wondering what it does

here’s a video from beginning to end:

‘He’s like our dog. He just keeps pooping and pooping …’

Look carefully again, you will see a robin flying across the yard in the background. Those parents were keeping a close watch on things.

Although watching those pooping doggies in action may have made the robins wonder what size brains humans have to compel them to create such a ridiculous thing. I’m sure there’s a lot of things humans do that confuse and confound the robins.

All I know is, this human is channeling the robin’s spirit and energy the next time I take a bath.

Robin Territory!

June 28, 2020

I have a thing for the American robin. Sure, it’s a common bird of North America and who hasn’t seen a robin’s nest, a robin’s egg – a fledgling? Do you ever have a summer pass where you haven’t had robins foraging for food in your front yard? Discovered a nest?

They disappear in the fall and as winter passes into spring I start watching for the first sign of robins.They are a migratory bird, but some do stay through the winter, high up in the trees, hidden out of sight. I never see robins here in the winter months. It’s such a thrill when you first hear one in early spring and to experience that first sighting – which, this year, happened for us on March 17. The robin was high up in our May tree and I captured a photo of it from an upstairs window.

First robin sighting! March 17

We enjoyed sitting on our patio watching for the robins. One robin would perch on a high limb in our honey locust tree and break out into a sharp lilting song – as if announcing the official arrival of spring, yet a new season of hope and rebirth!

Or maybe to lay claim to his (or her) territory – to announce to the world that this robin has found a place to nest and raise a family, possibly two or three broods – in our back yard. (We are careful not to use any lawn chemicals or pesticides – I literally claw the pigweed out between the cracks in our brick walk, to avoid using Roundup.)

Well, sure enough, on May 21 we discovered a nest with at least 3 eggs. Yay!!

Discovered it May 21 – Yippee!

The female was roosting faithfully.

Look carefully and you will see her tail. Female robins build the nest and sit on the eggs.

Robins can produce 3 successful broods in one year, but only 40 per cent of nests successfully produce young. We were hopeful for this nest.

Then on Saturday, May 23, Memorial Day weekend hit. Literally. We woke up to snow on Saturday. And it kept snowing through the morning.

Our back yard, Saturday May 23

We felt like we were living a live scene from the Twilight Zone. I took a video of our back yard. (Notice on the patio table the bubbles we had been playing with the day before with our grandkids):

Nature delivered a cruel blow. Several branches of our blooming lilacs snapped from the weight of the snow

Good thing lilac limbs are flexible

and our front magnificent maple tree lost two large limbs. (Aren’t we used to this? Why don’t we own a chain saw?)

I checked on the robin’s nest. Can you see her tail?

She was faithfully roosting, and, yes, covered in snow. Poor thing.

By days end, though, the skies had cleared and the snow was melting away. And sadly, the nest was empty. Had the mother robin just given up? It was a vicious storm.

I read that 40% of robins’ nests successfully produce young. Tough odds! Would they try again?

Sure enough, on June 9 we discovered a new nest. The female was just finishing it when we discovered it.

New nest! June 9

We kept an eye on the nest for several days, but so far no roosting. Then this past Monday June 22, there she was – sitting on it. Dang! These robins are sneaky. The incubation period for eggs is about 14 days. Will we be hearing the peeps of hatchlings by … July 4th? Maybe. One can hope.

I checked on the nest yesterday – lookin’ good …

I was sitting on our patio when I started hearing what was surely the cries of a hungry robin fledgling, coming from the direction of the large spruce by the shed in our back yard. I wandered closer and, there it was perched on an outer branch about 5 feet off the ground, peeping away. I watched that little bird for a long while and captured some photos and videos. Here’s the first one:

Daddy takes charge

After the robins leave the nest, it’s the dad who takes over their care, feeds them for about two weeks, while they learn how to fly, groom, hunt for earthworms and ripe fruits, how to signal a cry of distress. It’s an extremely vulnerable time! Only 25% of fledged young survive until November. And from that point on, only about half the robins alive in any year will make it to the next year.

A lucky robin can live to be 14 years old, but robins live on average only 2 years in the wild.

Getting back to our little fledgling, he stood quietly for a good while, waiting for daddy to return. Magpies, cousins of the crows, were squawking nearby, and I’m sure this little one knows to keep quiet …

Well, until he got really hungry. Here comes daddy to the rescue.

Our daughter Megan and her friend Olivia were out on the patio with me now, witnessing this little fledgling. It turns out – it could fly – a bit – which I caught in the next video seconds after I took the last one.

I wasn’t sure exactly where it landed, but it was obviously in those tall bushes.

You can see the weather had turned blustery. Yeah, well that wind ushered in a 25-degree drop in temperature and pouring rain overnight, with much cooler weather forecasted to persist through today and tomorrow.

Haven’t even tried to find our little fledgling or checked on the robin’s nest today. I’m all bundled up in layers inside our house made of brick, with the heat blasting. Just glad I’m not a little fledgling, to be honest.

A little Easter Miracle during Covid-19

April 12, 2020

April, 2020 – Spring in southeast Idaho! We’re sheltering in place – David, Megan and I – doing a lot of puzzles at home. I make runs to the grocery store. We do venture out for long walks through our neighboring park, Tautphaus Park, weather permitting. We skipped our walk on April 2:

April 2, 2020

I know the fresh snow is beautiful – pristine! You just have to dress for it, right? Wrong. That much snow is flat out ugly this time of year. But yes, just wear your down parkas, pull up your boot straps and your hoods, don’t forget your gloves! Early spring in Idaho is just like winter. The highs in early April feel like the highs in February.

Then just like that the temperature sails up 20 degrees. You’re in the middle of your walk and you’re burning up in your jacket. You peel it off and tie it around your waist. This happened to us this past Tuesday, just five days after that snow storm. We were walking toward home in a big open area at Tautphaus Park, when I peeled off my jacket, then turned to Megan, grabbed and jerked her arms out of the sleeves of her winter jacket – whew! love it! Spring is here!

But when we got home Megan said, “Mom, my bracelet is gone.” Oh no! It must have come off with the coat! Suddenly in my mind, there has never been a bracelet more loved, more precious, than Megan’s bracelet. We had bought it at a flea market in Beacon, New York – last September – when we were visiting Adam and Meredith – Megan’s oldest brother and his wife. Oh what a wonderful trip that was – all those great memories embodied in that bracelet. Oh why had I been so careless? I loved that bracelet.

The next day, last Wednesday, I said, “Hey Megan, let’s go back and try to retrace our steps on that walk – see if we can find your bracelet.” (Okay, super long shot here, but what the heck, we have to try, right?) “Oh yes, I remember – first we passed that huge old tree with a raptor perched up high in it – then we turned on the street by the skate park past the huge cottonwood forest, then we walked diagonally across that wide open field by the fountain. Half way across that field, that’s where we got hot and pulled our jackets off.”

We were at the wide open area now, with our eyes scanning the ground in circles looking for a stretchy bracelet made of turquoise nuggets and silver beads. Uh-oh. Oops. There’s a guy hitting light golf balls right in our direction. Shoot! Well, lets zig-zag our way quickly toward him – he’ll just have to be patient with us while we look till we get to him.

Sadly, we didn’t find the bracelet. When we made it up to the golfer and his female friend I explained (from ten feet away, of course) our situation. That Megan had lost her bracelet here yesterday and thank you for being patient with us while we looked for it. He said, yes, he’s lost a lot of golf balls too. But he would keep a look out for the bracelet when he’s retrieving his balls. Yeah, sure. Oh, if you happen to find the bracelet, maybe just leave it at the base of that tree over there. He nodded.

Darn it! Oh well. Easy come, easy go. Well, not really, but I’m trying. The following day, Thursday, the three of us, David, Megan and I (and Rudy of course) repeated that walk we had done on Tuesday through Tautphaus Park- past that tree where the raptor was

Some kind of Raptor

(I had taken a picture of it on Tuesday.)

and the huge cottonwood forest

Tautphaus Park

Although, it seemed pretty futile at this point, finding the bracelet. It was a goner. We got all philosophical about it on the walk … “You know what?” I said. “We were lucky to have found that bracelet in the first place. It was really special. Likely made by an American Indian. The Great Spirit led us to it and now the Great Sprit has freed it back to the Universe – to anoint the life of another living creature.” “Yes.” said David. “Maybe a crow.”

“He picked the bracelet up in his beak and flew off with it to drop it in his nest as a bauble.”

“Or perhaps a squirrel. They are very busy this time of year.”

As sad as I am about losing that bracelet – don’t think I’d climb to the top of a tree to retrieve it from a squirrels’ nest.

We’re back at that huge field near the fountain where we took our coats off:

The three of us fanned out to scan a wider area, searched quite thoroughly, as we worked our way to the end of the field. Oh well. No go, Joe. It’s okay. Oh wait, let’s just check the base of that tree, can’t hurt …

What? Megan, come see!

What were the odds? It feels like a miracle!

Back at home we signed a thank you note.

Set it at the base of that tree right where we had found the bracelet.

The next day, Good Friday, we walked over to the park again. Was the note still there?

Megan! Come look!!

It’s an Easter Egg!

We brought it home. Washed the plastic egg with soap and water, of course, wiped it down with a disinfectant wipe, then set it out in the sun for the afternoon, take that, Covid-19!

As always Megan puts her bracelet on first thing every morning.

And Rudy keeps his eye on that wiley squirrel in our back yard,

April 11, 2020

who is expert at social distancing himself from Rudy.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Ol’ Man Winter Keeps Rolling Along

January 17, 2017

Ol’ man winter
That ol’ man winter
He don’t say nothing
But he must know something
Cause he just keeps rolling
He keeps rolling along

My theme song of late … I woke up yesterday singing the tune of Ol’ Man River, sung by Paul Robeson in the classic 1936 film version of Show Boat (substituting ‘winter’ for river). Winter in southeast Idaho is wearing to the bone with storm watches, snowfalls, incessant shoveling, a slight melting, then a deep freeze. Here I took a photo of our last snowfall a week ago:

9:07 AM. January 10, 2017

9:07 AM. January 10, 2017

We were wondering if the city had any money left in their coffers to plow our streets again. But then on Friday, a hopeful sign. Returning home late morning, I met a humongous city truck stuck crossways, spinning its back wheels on a thick sheet of ice. The snow had been plowed into an icy ridge down the center of the road, and they were now attempting to clear the ridge. Except, this one truck got stuck, blocking traffic in. I waited ten minutes watching the back wheels spin on the ice, while the driver attempted to rock the truck enough to break free. Finally another truck showed up, backed up to it and pulled it free.

Friday the 13th, 10:45 am, Hartert Dr., Idaho Falls

Friday the 13th,10:45 am, Hartert Dr., Idaho Falls

I started rolling again toward home, then caught up with the operation. Don’t follow too closely. They need an empty replacement for that dump truck ASAP!


The trucks roared through our neighborhood again on Saturday about midnight, shearing the matted snow off the icy rutted streets. They cleared driveway entrances too, lining them with mini snowy mountain ranges.

House across the street

House across the street

But it’s bitter cold, the snow isn’t melting, and the ice remains.

We hardly left the house this whole past weekend, except to pull the trash to the curb. Very carefully, mind you, since our driveway doubles as an ice skating rink:




We were out there last week trying to secure a safe path over the ice to our front door, using a combination of ice melt, leaves, tree branches, and finally, cat litter. I didn’t want the mailman or anyone else falling and breaking, who knows what, getting to our front door. First laid down some traction across our driveway from the neighbor’s house,


Then, tackled our front sidewalk. Our house faces north and this time of year, the sun hardly even hits it. Plus, the sidewalk has settled over the years… We had a few days of melting, which created a small skate pond right where you enter the sidewalk…


Anyway, turns out, the mailman wears crampons or some such set of spikes over his boots. Smart. We all need a pair of these…

Idaho Falls received 30 inches of snow between Dec 1 and Jan 10. The first 20 or so inches were cold and fluffy, but the top 8 inches were heavy and wet. So when we let Rudy out to go potty he’d head back into the house like a bouncing snowball. We carved out paths in the back yard for him, so he could roam, do his business, keep our place safe from strangers (bark) without romping through snow drifts.


Oh and run to the east fence to taunt our neighbors’ two big dogs, Einstein and Titan.

Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

Except, Titan and Einstein apparently took Rudy’s taunting so seriously, they broke through the fence and were now romping around in our back yard. Rudy went berserk. We let him out and there he was up to his head in snow drifts chasing after the big dogs. We ran them off. Rudy was back in, looking for a lap, covered in snow clods the size of cotton balls.

David knocked on the neighbor’s door to tell them about the fence. They propped a door against the hole on their side, there, problem solved!

David was hardly through explaining the fence situation to me when Rudy went berserk again. Titan was on our back deck! I let Rudy out – and watched them play. And make friends …

Titan and Rudy

Titan and Rudy


David went back and overhauled the fix on the fence. Secured the ‘patch’ on the hole with rope.

Problem solved ... for now...

Problem solved … for now…

Meanwhile, it turned bitter cold. And stayed cold. The snow isn’t melting much, but a hard crust has formed on the surface and Rudy can run atop the snow now like it’s bedrock.

Rudy rousing the neighbor dogs

Rudy rousing the neighbor dogs


I dunno how others are holding up. I will say the world just made it through Blue Monday, the third Monday of January, Jan. 16, which is considered the most depressing day of the year. Whoopee! Although there seems to have been no dearth of news in the local paper lately of people going off the deep end. We had two fatal shootings in our town just this past week. Whereas, I don’t recall in recent memory there even being a fatal shooting in this town. A week ago, after that last snow storm there was a domestic fight ending in an arrest of a woman who threw a gingerbread house and a vacuum at her boyfriend before cracking him over the head with an empty beer bottle.

Which caused me to ponder gingerbread houses. How DO you properly dispose of a Gingerbread house after the Holidays are over, considering all the work put into making it? I will say, that this Christmas I experienced the most wonderful gingerbread house of all, on display at the Museum of Idaho – at the exhibit I told you about in my previous blog. Here, I took a picture of it:


Beating the Winter Blahs

January 9, 2017

Okay, so the Holidays were over before you could say “I forgot to water the poinsettia.”


It’s a weird time of year, and I have to watch myself. First it’s the issue of getting in the Christmas spirit in the first place. Or not. “Not’ might in the long run be easier, because the higher your spirits during the Holidays, the deeper potential for despair. Whether you’re caught up in the frenzy of it all, shopping, bake-fests, parties, lunches, Christmas pageants, service projects, gift exchanges … or hold yourself apart from it, melancholy looms, ready to swoop in and envelop you at any time. So you have to take care of yourself, deploy strategies that preserve joy and peace of mind.

For example, just hearing the National News of late and listening to the incessant political talking heads can drive you insane. You need a diversion. Enter: Rudy … who is always either on my lap or lying next to me when we watch the news. Here he is, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” playing with his toy, Lamb Chop, while talk of the Russians and ISIS blares from the TV:

Then the insanely heightened security for the New Year’s celebration in Times Square…

Somehow he captures my feelings exactly.

The Museum of Idaho here in town offers a lovely free exhibit all through December to enliven your Christmas spirit.

Museum of Idaho, Idaho Falls

Museum of Idaho, Idaho Falls

It’s called the ‘Olde Fashioned Christmas and Winter Festival” and it’s free. The exhibit is sponsored by a local music store, Chesbro Music. Enjoy live Holiday musical performances by local musicians, while you browse through a huge array of Christmas themed displays, nativities, Santas and Saint Nicks. These displays belong to private local citizens loaning their collections for this exhibit. As you walk in the door, you are greeted with a Charlie Brown Christmas.


Then some rather hip Santas:




There are all kinds of nativity sets, from all over the world. This nativity set is knitted. Man, that’s a lot of work. I won’t be knitting a nativity set in my lifetime:


A separate room housed gingerbread houses, some quite elaborate:



And miniature rooms, that hail back to the Olde Fashioned Christmases. See the rocking horse? This room transports me back to my childhood Christmases in the fifties. Boy was that a more innocent time!


I visited the museum with Megan once before Christmas, when an accomplished pianist was playing Christmas carols. We visited again on the last day of the exhibit, New Year’s Eve ( with a case of the blah’s). Music filled the air as we opened the door. A local group, the “Wild Potatoes” were performing. This Celtic jig really perked me up! I took a video. It might just perk you up too!

Oh wait. But Christmas is long gone now isn’t it? It went faster than you can say, “I stripped the tree, wrapped it like a corpse and shoved it out the back sliding door”


It’s the New Year now. I still need strategies to keep my spirits afloat. I’m not making any more New Year’s resolutions until a cure is found for menopausal belly fat. Turns out, I learned on the internet, women over 45 have fat storage menopausal molecules that are immune against sit-ups and crunches. I’m done with those long joint-wrecking workouts, too. There must be some way you can burn belly fat while you sleep. Sleep longer? I’ll research that on the internet too, till I find the answer. I would also like to find some fat burning breakfast recipes that include pancakes.

Anyway, good thing we have Rudy around. I like to corner and lecture him. It makes me feel better. Like today. “You bad boy. Why can’t you be more of a help around here? Get out there and help shovel! Make yourself useful, you filthy animal!”


Yes, YOU!!

Well, that about puts a wrap on the Holiday season. Before you could say “Where’s the person I’m supposed to kiss?” we were well into the New Year. The exterior Christmas lights went out in unison along our street that used to be lit up like a star. It’s a death star now, well, except for our end of the street. I’ve not been motivated to go out front and turn off the timers, although David might think its the least I could do, since he’s doing all the shoveling.

6:05 pm - Sunday, January 8, 2017

6:05 pm – Sunday, January 8, 2017

It still looks like Christmas, doesn’t it? The Abominable Snowman just won’t go away. Guess I should start helping David shovel, lest I become the filthy animal.

It just keeps snowing here in southeast Idaho.

Winter Storms Wreak Holiday Havoc

January 6, 2017

The year 2017 blew in like the Abominable Snowman in southeast Idaho. The storms started for us about 10 days before Christmas.

Which, admittedly, the first major storm was magical. It whipped me out of my doldrums into the Christmas spirit

Our back yard, December 17, 2016

Our back yard, December 17, 2016

Let’s hang the stars in our upper story windows!


Poinsettias in the kitchen!


String the lights!

The 8 am, December 19th sunrise is surreal. Snow clings frigidly to every branch and limb.



But the real whopper of a storm hit on Christmas Day. Santy Claus had barely filled the stockings, scooted back up the chimney, and taken off on his sleigh when…


to our wondering ears we hear the scrape, scrape, scraping of a shovel. And who out of the dawning twilight should appear? David, with his frosty hair and jolly ol’ belly (just kidding, honey) …. shoveling.

8 am Christmas morn

8 am Christmas morn

With Rudy as his helpful reindeer

Let me in!

Let me in!

We open presents. Rudy is the youngest, so he goes first:


David shovels again about 11 am.


The snow starts piling up again…

1 o'clock PM!

1 o’clock PM!

Then David helps the neighbors, who are stuck (while I’m preoccupied with spying, alerting him as to the goings-on in the neighborhood, and taking photos, oh, and making Christmas dinner…)


Can’t you hear the whirring of the mixer? Wait a minute! That sounds like snowblowers. It’s our neighbors…



We don’t own a snowblower. Our trusty metal scoop will do. Uh, if you scoop the snow in shifts, after every couple of inches, before it gets too heavy. And, if you have extra strapping bodies to help during a blizzard. Like our son, Ben!

 Ben shovels us out

Ben shovels us out


Luckily, Ben and his girlfriend Rhonda are here from Boulder, Colorado, to spend Christmas with us. (Apparently, it’s still 50 degrees back in Boulder…)

So yeah. Idaho Falls was snowed in on Christmas. Our invited dinner guests cancelled on account of they couldn’t get out of their driveways either.

David was pretty tired by evening.

The thinker

The thinker

The neighbor was at it again…


Then night fell…


The city got busy plowing the streets, first, shoving huge mounds of snow into tall ridges down the median.

Where's my next left?

Where’s my next left?

Then they suck the giant snow ridges up into a fleet of dump trucks and haul it all away. (To where, I wonder?)


Whoopee! By evening on Dec 27 the massive snow removal convoy comes roaring through our neighborhood.



As you can see, it’s still snowing. The snow removal crews work around the clock to plow all the streets. It’s an amazing feat, probably has already nearly bankrupted the city snow removal budget. No matter. The weather is clear today. Clear with a low of minus 23 and a high of 0. (Originally I thought it was minus 12 to a high of 5!)

So yeah, the snow isn’t melting. I took a photo of our front yard early this afternoon.


And the forecast? Snow flurries for the next five days.

Oh well. As I write this a severe winter storm is pummeling the southeastern USA from Texas to Virginia, affecting over 60 million people, stalling airports, stranding motorists, bringing as much as 9 inches of snow in parts of North Carolina. Read all about it in today’s USA Today. Well, that is, if you don’t live anywhere in America where there hasn’t been snow and can’t relate at all to the phenomenon of the Abominable Snowman that’s been tramping across America, ringing in the New Year…

O’ Christmas Tree!

December 3, 2015

Christmas season is upon us! Every year I vow to make it simpler, put up fewer decorations and lights (do nothing, David says). How about we get rid of stuff this year? Downsize the tree? I’m loving those new pencil shaped pre-lit artificial trees that will fit in any corner. Just put it up, slap a few bulbs on it, and be done!

But no. We always get a live tree, usually an 8-footer, and that’s what we did again this year. It about breaks David’s back hauling it into the house (thank you, honey) and it drops about 3000 needles just putting it up. This year I was going to replace the glittery garland, but I didn’t. We have glitter everywhere too. Even in our bed. I brushed glitter off my forehead this morning.

We have no shortage of ornaments, either. And I LOVE our ornaments – I think every person entering our home should spend 5 minutes looking at our tree and I should hear them audibly ‘ooo-ing!’ and ‘ahhh-ing!’ over our precious ornaments. No? Phssft. Okay, so our tree theme is ‘hodgepodge.’ No fancy bows or ribbons. But I have saved nearly every ornament we collected over the past 40 years. I have no idea where some of them came from, but many of them our kids made in grade school.

The first ornament I ever collected is Angel mouse.

A common household rodent in angel dress?  Are you kidding?

A common household rodent in angel dress? Are you kidding?

My mother gave this one to me when she first opened her Boutique /Antique store in 1973. She was selling mice as well as trapping them in the old refurbished Crowley School Building, or maybe she was trapping them, adorning them with Christmas trappings and then selling them!

We lived in Sweden for four years in the 1980’s – so our tree has a Scandinavian touch. The first thing you do is pull out the Swedish flags


String garlands of flags over the tree. Swedish and Norwegian flags for us, since we had also visited Norway and had close Norwegian and Swedish friends.


Scandinavian ornaments include straw, yarn, or crystal goats, pigs, Tomtes, birds, stars – well, I’ll just show you some of our mix of ornaments:




Straw  Jule Goat

Straw Jule Goat



Santa riding across the world on a pig?

Santa riding across the world on a pig?

This next ornament is in a category all its own, the category of “almost been tossed, like, every time it comes out of the box” because it’s just so, uh, I dunno

Ugly but adorable?

Ugly but adorable?

Given to Aaron by his first piano teacher, Mrs. Dutch.

Moving right along now, to the ones our kids made in grade school…

Megan's hand

Megan’s hand

How many ways can you make Rudolph? Trace your hand onto a piece of sandpaper and cut it out! Or attach his nose and antlers to a lightbulb…

Has Rudolph been into the egg nog?

Has Rudolph been into the egg nog?

I have about 4 of these green-nosed Rudolphs. – they were practice ones for when I led a group of kids through this Christmas ornament activity. Megan’s girl scout troop? Can’t remember, but I marvel at any teacher’s willingness and ability to organize and lead the average class of 25-32 grade school children through one of these craft activities.

Ben made several ornaments in third grade, with his teacher, Mrs. Sisty. Don’t know how she pulled it off, but Ben came home with this precious angel,


and a reindeer

How has the dog missed the treat hanging on the tree all these years?

How has the dog missed the treat hanging on the tree all these years?

Dog Rudy is oblivious to this treat. Maybe he needs his sniffer checked.

Okay, well, should probably put a wrap on this. But not until I share a couple more ornaments in the “Don’t know from where or whom they came, or when they blessed us with their presence” category – this first one – of two attack chipmunks emerging from a snowy pine cone


One of them clearly rabid…

And lastly, this gem:

candle ornament gone awry

candle ornament gone awry

A wreath with a very erect hot element rising up through its center. One assumes it’s a candle? That one always gets hung, uh, secured on a branch, at the back of the tree. You know, in case some house visitor actually stops and spends a few minutes looking at our tree.  This ornament likely would solicit some ‘ewwwww’s’ and ‘aaaah’s.’

‘Tis the Season

November 13, 2015

Jack-o-lantern faces grow moldy, collapse
Lose all their delightfulness
And get tossed in the trash.

Ghosts of leaves impregnate the walks


Heaps and heaps of fallen leaves
are raked and bagged,
guarded by Rudy


They’re soon to be hauled away.

Shadows grow long – hey, get to work!

No, stay very still, Jody

No, stay very still, Jody

Flowers freeze and wilt to a moldy gray

Come on! I'm still gorgeous

Come on! I’m still gorgeous

Give them a jerk!

Dull November skies


Open up and stream their warm sunny brilliance.


Hopeful November!

Uh, yea, so when did you notice that first reminder in TV ads that Christmas is coming? … That subtle jingle behind dancing snowflakes, then the red bullseye from Target. Laughing couples on a snowy hillside wearing red scarves, climbing into a shiny car, subliminally coaxing you, Buy a new car for Christmas!

What’s with the incessant media blitz about this year’s extended Black Friday deals? Hear ye! Did you know? November: the Black month of discounts! Ten days of Black Friday deals now begin on Sunday! Which Sunday? Huh? Turn on the radio, don’t wander astray, Black Friday deals start today!

Black month of discounts? Ahem.

Does that spark joy?

Barely a spark.  'Oh joy'

Barely a spark. ‘Oh joy’

I’m ranting to David about the onslaught of Christmas advertising and merchandise, once again, barely into November. Except this year the major retailers have upped their game with their incessant carrot-in-shoppers’-faces with their advertising of Black November deals –

Can we please find some refuge from constant reminders that the season to spend, spend, spend (!!) is here – “Black November?”

Christmas is best ignored, David advises me nonchalantly. Give it a rest, Jody. After all, it’s only November 12! Okay. I can go with that. We settle in for a little Thursday night Football – who’s playing? Oh the New York Jets vs. the Buffalo Bills. Cool, New York rivals!




What’s with their outfits?


A bunch of sparring elves. Directly from the North Pole?

Thoughts of Christmas will not be sidelined

Uh, unless you’re colorblind. Which was, in reality, problematic for many fans trying to figure out which team had the ball. (Problematic for colorblind players, as well?) Ha! Who would have thought?

Okay. Cool. Teams spreading a little Christmas spirit here. It’s a stretch, but I’m going with it, I said to myself last night during the game.

Then today I visited David at his office, and couldn’t resist capturing the photo for ‘November’ on his Calendar.

Racing toward 
Turkey Day

Racing toward Turkey Day

Yeah. I’m settling in with this image for the rest of November.

Turkeys running for their lives? you ask.

Hey, those are Sandhill Cranes. Brings a little peace to the fray.

Childhood Easter Accoutrements and Other Stuff

April 22, 2014

Easter has come and gone but not without my recalling memories from childhood of my family dressing up for church on Easter Sunday. It was no small feat with a family of eight children – 4 boys and 4 girls. I was nestled smack dab in the middle of the 4 boys – so my parents had 2 girls, 2 boys, then me, then 2 boys, then the youngest was a girl. It’s an ordeal just describing the number of kids, gender birth order, etc. well, just imagine the ordeal of getting us all ready for Easter Sunday Church Service. Of course, we were never on time, and so that was also a huge ordeal – the ten of us blowing in the doors with the Service in full session, cramming ourselves into already crowded pews. We were never on time to church, period, per my recollection, save the one Sunday morning that both my dad and my older sister, Steph, unbeknownst to each other, set the kitchen clock forward 10 minutes. That Sunday we arrived to service right on the button, and it seemed a miracle (who says miracles don’t happen in church?).

So this past Sunday I was amused to find our paper delivery man had slept in – like, by four hours to my calculation, since our Sunday paper didn’t arrive till 11 AM. I guess that’s what triggered my childhood memories of Easter. Lateness. Anyway, I emailed my sister Steph, wishing her a Happy Easter, and reminisced about our large family trying to pull off church with the girls in their stiff white hats with the brims piled high with pink and yellow silk flowers, white gloves, and the weather was usually terrible – so our hats would blow off our heads and halfway across the lawn as soon as we stepped out the front door. Steph replied back, “Mom always took so seriously getting us our accoutrements for Easter. I remember how much I loved that little ‘muff’ – that fluffy white contraption you could tuck your hands into to keep warm.”

The muff!

I remember that ‘muff’. It was a white tube, maybe 12″ long, 7″ wide, made of fake rabbit fur. Lined with satin. You stick your hands into each end where they can nestle in and keep warm. I wore it on Easter one year and it must have been a hand-me-down from Susie and Steph – because I can’t imagine (1) mom buying two muffs and (2) any girl wearing a muff more than once. You shove your hands into the muff which renders your hands completely useless – you’re now a double-hand amputee – I can’t imagine even wearing the muff in the car, are you kidding? While sitting next to your brothers? You need your hands to defend yourself. What, do you bop your brothers over the head with the muff when they start picking on you? Then they grab the muff and play keep-away, tossing it over your head in the back seat, you madly groping the air trying to get it back. I must have worn it on my forearm, actually – what a pain-in-the butt accoutrement. Yeah, you don your hat and muff and walk out the front door – your hat blows off – so what do you do with the muff when you shed it to chase after your hat, whilst trying to keep from getting your patent leather shoes all muddied too?

Even ‘Barbie’ had a muff as a fashion accessory. I Googled it just in case your’re skeptical – here is the link -(Hey, maybe I’d like to buy a muff for Barbie, you know, if I still had one …) My Barbies from childhood had zits, boobs punctured with needles, bitten off toes, singed hair, and were usually found naked, compliments of my brothers. If any of my Barbies had a muff it was probably last seen wrapped around one of the kitchen knives. Or maybe affixed over the end of the dog’s tail. One of my friend’s Barbie’s had a muff, for sure. I distinctly remember it. Except I don’t know how you would play with a Barbie wearing a muff. You shove the muff up on her forearm, bind her hands together, then slide it back over her bound hands. Then you jump her up and down in her stilletos, stiff-legged since her legs don’t bend. What else would you do with her? Move her around so her pony tail flies up and down. You certainly wouldn’t put her behind the wheel of her new Ferrari.

Well, since anyone under the age of 55 will not likely associate the word “muff” with a female fashion accoutrement that hails from the early sixties (specifically worn at Easter) and the Victorian era of history – I will clarify the term using the dictionary – which gives you four definitions: (1) (noun)- “A warm tubular covering for the hands” (2) (noun)- (Sports) “Dropping the ball” (3) (verb) – “fail to catch, as of a ball” (4) (verb) – “make a mess of, destroy, or ruin”.

Well, then if you Google ‘muff’ you will find a fifth definition that arose from “That 70’s Show” – Apparently, ‘muff’ has became slang for ‘vagina.’ That figures. And I suppose anyone reading this who is under the age of 50 (and every male over the age of 10?) already knows this.

“Muff.” Well, it does have a colorful history. For me, anyway.


January 26, 2011


Hey! So what’s this ugly lit up piece of crap Christmas tree doing on your blog? (You might ask.) It’s nearly February!

It’s our Christmas tree, whatdoyathink?

All right, so I’m behind. I was going to write a Christmas blog. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t write it. Then it was January. January. Who wants to write a freakin’ blog about January? I tried to get inspired with some topic to write about.

Like, BLUE MONDAY. January 17, 2011. I’m serious. Some psychologist in England dubbed it the saddest day of the year 2011. This link will tell you all about it. You don’t want to read the link? No? Uh-huh. January.

January 17 was dubbed the saddest day of the year because it was a Monday (Blaahhhahhhh), and you likely had to drive on snowy roads, and probably shovel snow, and freeze your touche, and the dog doesn’t want to poo poo outside (I added that one), or else the dog jumps on your bed and pukes on your pillow (which actually happened to me on Sad Tuesday, the day after Blue Monday). Then there’s the unpaid Holiday bills and failed New Year’s resolutions.

It sucks!

Anyway, that about wraps up January. It’s been snowing here about every day. So it’s pretty. And it still looks like Christmas.



Okay, so I had to slip a couple of pictures in that I was going to use on my Christmas blog.

This is one of my personal favorites:


David and Rudy, after Christmas dinner. Sated.


And this one was taken of Rudy in January, after he’d gotten his hair cut.

He was supposed come home as our skinny, fru-fru, bunny boy, poodle dog after his visit to the groomer’s, but he had turned into a little ‘fatso’.

My pants don’t fit right either. Thank goodness for low rise jeans with spandex.


I backed out of our garage this morning. Then I parked the car, climbed out, and took this picture.


Because it looked like Christmas.

I turned around and took a photo of the trees behind me, in our back yard:


The glittery lights are gone, but I’m pretty sure if you were to walk really quietly to those giant spruce trees, and peer up into the tops of them, you would spot some tiny little Tomtes with long white beards and red stocking caps resting up there, looking out over the neighborhood.

And if I let it, today might just be the happiest day of the year.