Squirrelly in the Winter–WE SURRENDER!

The squirrel became too demanding.  Before my husband could get the second feeder back up and filled, the squirrel expressed his displeasure by peeing on the window again.  Water once again washed the rodent urine away and the feeder was put back up.

Squirrel feeding from second feeder

It lasted two days.

Squirrel knocked the feeder upside down

The squirrel  managed to turn the feeder upside down and hanging by one suction cup.  All of the food fell to the ground.

feeder without top

Again the squirrel expressed his displeasure by peeing on the window.  The second feeder fell to the ground and broke.

My husband says “That’s it!”  No more.”

I guess that ground food is not good enough for our squirrel because there are still several seeds lying in the dirtSeeds on the ground.jpg.

prickly gum ballLast evening, when I went outside to look at the broken feeder lying in the dirt, something hit me from behind.  Something (or some squirrel) had dislodged a prickly gumball, which bounced off my backside.

Squirrels -2

Feeders- 0.

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From Scraps to Stories

How do writers (including bloggers) keep coming up with ideas? This guest post by Ann McGrath, offers a simple, yet effective way to catch some of those inspirations.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

A guest post by Anne McGrath

Memories are slippery to hold. Many of what I suspect were my most brilliant story ideas were written on bits of paper too small to keep track of. The tiny notes ended up in the wash, returned in library books, or illegible.

Not any more.

For the past two years I’ve used a deceptively simple system to collect the seeds for stories. My ideas are in a central, easy-to-access place, and the method is enjoyable, helps me pull up things I’d otherwise forget, and is much easier than keeping a detailed journal. I was introduced to the system by novelist Matthew Dicks when I attended his storytelling workshop. As we made up stories on the spot, it was abundantly clear that Matt, a twenty-eight-time Moth StorySLAM winner, had an endless supply of tales to tell. We all wanted to know his secret and he…

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Wreaths across America-2017

Wreaths across America--solider.jpg“I’m an American” by Rick Charette– The theme for this year’s Wreaths Across America

I’m an American. Yes, I am.
I love my country. I love my land.
With you and me together, we each play a part.
We can make a difference with love in our hearts. 

We are many. We are one.
We are shining in the sun.
We’re united standing tall.
With liberty and justice for all.
I’m an American. Yes, I am.
I hold the world’s future here in my hands.
Gonna sing and shout it! It’s great to be free. 
Every single person has dignity

I’m an American. Yes, I am.
I promise that I will do what I can.
I’ll stand up for freedom. Live my life without fear
Going to make a better world, I know we’ll persevere.

Wreaths Across America --ArlingtonWreaths Across America is an annual event.  “Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as over 1,200 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad.

From the website:

Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, was a 12 year old paper boy for the Bangor Daily News when he won a trip to Washington D.C. His first trip to our nation’s capital was one he would never forget, and Arlington National Cemetery made an especially indelible impression on him. This experience followed him throughout his life and successful career, reminding him that his good fortune was due, in large part, to the values of this nation and the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

In 1992, Worcester Wreath found themselves with a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. Remembering his boyhood experience at Arlington, Worcester realized he had an opportunity to honor our country’s veterans. With the aid of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, arrangements were made for the wreaths to be placed at Arlington in one of the older sections of the cemetery that had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year.

As the wreaths are laid on each grave site, the name of the  person is said aloud.  In this way, not only is the person’s service honored, the person is also remembered.

Wreaths across America--crowds

Seeing volunteers (military and civilian) lay wreaths on the graves is a very moving experience.  People gather out in the cold (sometimes in the snow) to carefully place a lovely red ribboned, green wreath against each tombstone.  As they do this, they say the name on the headstone  out loud and thank them for their service, before moving on to the next grave. Wreaths across America--snow

 

At Arlington Cemetery, these wreaths have a military precision to them as they are laid on each grave site–so many that they cover the rolling hills.  At Ft. Rosecrans, in San Diego (the second largest cemetery) there are not as many wreaths to cover each grave and  many of the graves face the sparkling blue Pacific. If a cemetery can look festive, the green wreaths in the bright sunlight can somehow pull it off.

How can we help?  You can sponsor a wreath, volunteer to place wreaths in a national cemetery near you (there are over 1200 through out the U.S. and others on foreign sois), recommend a location near you, offer trucking or corporate support.

On National Wreaths Across America Day each December, volunteers place wreaths on individual veterans’ graves in over 1,200 locations throughout the U.S., with ceremonies at sea, and at each of the national cemeteries on foreign soil, or donate to a local fundraising group.

This year, the wreath convoy has already left Maine for Arlington.  The wreaths will be laid at Arlington, this Saturday, 16 December.  It’s not too late to volunteer, if you are in the area and would like to participate.

Have you ever participated in laying a Christmas wreath on a grave site?  Join in the conversation and share your thoughts/experiences with us.

 

Squirrelly in the Winter–This Time It’s Personal!

Last summer my husband bought a bird feeder–the kind that attaches to a window with three rubber suction cups so you can watch the birds as they eat the seeds from the tray.    Even after he moved it from the back kitchen window to the living room window in front, no one seemed interested.

As fall turned to winter, a few birds may have come by, but a squirrel found it and fell in love.  He would climb the dogwood in front of the house,  jump onto the small plastic tray and chow down.  He would cling to the screen on the side window while balancing his front paws on the plastic tray.

Squirrel at bird feeder

I discovered him having lunch one afternoon as I was finishing my own lunch.  I went over to the window and tapped at him.  He stopped chewing long enough to give me one of those teen-aged what do you want, looks of disdain.

When I tapped more forcefully, he sprang back from the tray and had all four paws hooked on the screen.  He then let lose a stream of squirrel pee down my window and two dusty paw prints on the glass behind the screen.

When my  husband returned, he threw a bucket of water on the squirrel pee, cleansing it from the window.  He then relocated the squirrel feeder further away  to the middle of the glass.  We hoped that it would make it more difficult for the squirrel to reach the glass.

The squirrel was able to reach the feeder again, but this time he dislodged it.  I can only hope he tumbled to the sidewalk with the feeder, which broke on impact.  (I don’t think the squirrel was impacted at all.)

My husband purchased a second feeder, attached with two suction cups.  The second  feeder was cylindrical in shape, with a red plastic top.

The afternoon after my husband put the new feeder up, the squirrel was back.  He somehow managed to lose the red plastic top.  I searched all around the ground, but it was nowhere to be found.  (Did he put it in his pocket or chew it to bits without leaving bits of red plastic strewn around?)

Today, after the first squirrel finished  chowing down, a second squirrel came for a visit.  This second squirrel lacked the refined technique of the first squirrel and tipped the feeder sideways so that all of the seeds fell to the ground.  At that point, my husband removed the now empty feeder and brought it into the house.  The future of the feeder remains to be seen.

Squirrel one and Squirrel two

Motto of the story:  Don’t get too greedy and be careful who you invite to share you food.  Protect your sources.

Yankee Doodling with History

United States mapI don’t know if other nation’s teach their history as if it began when the country was founded or discovered, but in the United States,  American history is taught at the expense of world ( or least European history.)  My apologies to our Native Americans, whose history has been so often over looked–especially when we say the Columbus “discovered” the Western Hemisphere in 1492.

Christopher ColumbusWhy did Columbus “discover” the New World in 1492?  Why not 1491 or earlier?  The Reconquista of the Iberian peninsula (driving out the Moors or the Islamists) began in 711 and was finally completed in 1492.  Queen Isabella had told Columbus that she would not be able to finance his expeditions until Spain was once again a Christian nation.

French and Indian WarThe French and Indian War was actually only one part of the Seven Years War (1756-1763).  Although the French and Indian War took place on what was then the
American  and Canadian frontiers.  The Seven Years War also took place in Europe, West Africa, India, the Philippines and other parts of the Americas.

War of 1812 was actually a by-product of the Napoleonic Wars, which were a series of wars between 1803 and 1815.  America was affected by both British and French sanctions against the United States during the wars.

World War I was fought in Europe from 1914-1918.  The United States did not enter into the War until 1917.

World War 1 Trench

World War II was fought from September 1939 through September 1945.  The United States did not enter the War until after Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

The Vietnam  ConWorld War II map'flict (1955-1975) was also known as the Second Indo-china War.  (The First Indo-China War ranged from 1945 when the Japanese surrendered through 1954 when the French were defeated by Dien Bien Phu.)

 

 

Seeing and Believing in Helsinki

One of my concerns is how we (especially women) become invisible as we age. This captivating travel piece addresses a similar issue as Bespoke traveler explores Helsinki in the rain.

Bespoke Traveler

I enjoy being invisible in a new place. It helps me adjust to unfamiliar customs. It prevents me from seeming like a neophyte while I reconnoiter the roads. It keeps me safe. Sometimes, though, going unnoticed works to my disadvantage. I was in line at a cafeteria style restaurant in Helsinki, Finland. It was lunchtime and the spacious hall was crowded with avid customers. I was hungry. I waited in line for a slice of pizza because it had the shortest queue. A tall drooping man transfixed by his smartphone cut me off to stand in front. I did not say anything. He received his food and clomped away. Even though I was next, the serving lady spun to the cross-armed woman behind me and asked her what she wanted. They exchanged pleasantries along with a slab of sausage and cheese. When the purchaser departed, the attendant turned to…

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Dear Muse

This writer even used a library. (I like that part.) Her search for her muse rings true-even for people who blog.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

mulloyBy Marla Mulloy

Write a letter to your muse, my writer friend said, in answer to my sad, self-loathing, whine about the writing life.  So I did.  I was mad.

Dear Muse,

I haven’t heard from you for a long time.  I wonder, are you having a nice time on your little holiday?  You must be having a holiday; you are certainly not paying any attention to me.  Perhaps you are on a beach somewhere in the sun, reading something that someone has actually written?  Or maybe you are simply watching people cavort in the sand or wander by the ice cream store, bored silly by my procrastination and delusion.   I realize I wasn’t the easiest charge you’ve had.  I realize I was hard to motivate, boring to watch.  Most likely, you are in my living room sitting in that chair that I placed near the small table where I…

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Coming to Ft. Belvoir: The Army Museum

National Museum of the ArmyThe National Museum  of the United States Army is being built on Ft. Belvoir, south of Washington, DC in Fairfax County.  From the website:

The National Museum of the United States Army will serve as the capstone of the Army Museum Enterprise and provide the only comprehensive portrayal of Army history and traditions.  The National Army Museum will celebrate the selfless service and sacrifice of over 30 million men and women who have worn the Army uniform since 1775.  The Museum will be a technological marvel incorporating the latest advances in museum exhibits while providing advanced educational opportunities that will capture the attention of visitors old and young.  As the Army’s national landmark, the Museum will honor United States Soldiers – past, present, and future – and provide an interactive educational experience explaining the Army’s role in creating and defending our nation, as well as the Army’s social initiatives and contributions for more than 240 years.

The National Army Museum will be located on over 80 acres at Fort Belvoir, VA, less than 30 minutes south of our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C.  The main building will be approximately 186,000 square feet and display selections from over 15,000 pieces from the Army Art Collection and 30,000 artifacts, documents, and images.  The vast majority of these rare and priceless artifacts have never been seen by the American people. Projected opening is sometime in 2019.

Hitlet Painting 1911The Army Art Collection has also been housed at Ft. Belvoir. “The Army’s conservation warehouse includes works by Norman Rockwell, ordinary soldiers, enemy combatants, and even Adolf Hitler’s watercolors. The collection program began during World War I when the Army dispatched eight “combat artists” to roam the battlefield and record firsthand the experience of    the average soldier.”                                                                                          Hitler’s watercolor, 1911

The 2014 movie, Monuments Men, traced some of the soldiers in World War II that were given “the task of finding and saving pieces of art and other culturally important items before Nazis destroy or steal them, during World War II.”  Saved paintings include the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

There have been Armed Forces combat artists since World War I, including Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.

VietnamCombatArtOverTherebyStephenHRandallCATVII1968.JPG

Combat Art Overthere (Vietnam) by Stephen H. Randall

 

 

 

Merry, Marry, Mary

Did you make merry last night in this politically correct world may be almost as problematic as the question,  did you make Mary last night?  Did you get married last night is a different form of the word and may be less problematic, depending upon who asks the question.

Merry (adjective) – cheerful and lively; season or occasion characterized by festivity and rejoicing; a slightly good-humored drunk

In_My_Merry_Oldsmobile_1

Marry (verb) – to join or enter into marriage; to cause to meet or combine, to splice the ends of a line together without increasing their girth

Mary  (name) – Frequent biblical name, the most famous is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. In Hebrew it means wished for child, rebellion, bitter.

Merry is virtually an onomatopoeia word.  You can almost hear the jingle bells ring when saying the word out loud.  Just think of Carol of the Bells.

“Mary, let’s make merry,”  he said.

“Not until after you marry me,” she replied. “A girl can’t be too careful.”

You should not marry oysters with red wine, they are better with a crisp white like sauvignon blanc.  However, you can marry the mooring lines that you use to tie up the oyster boat.  If you have profitable catch, then you can become merry with your profits.


Colton: How does a sheep say “Merry Christmas”?
Tammi: How?
Colton: “Fleece Navidad!”

What is your favorite thing to ride on the Merry-go-round?merry go round

God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, Let Nothing You Dismay (you would probably be too drunk recognize it anyways…)

merry gentlemen

Merry and Pippin where two of the hobbits in Lord of the Rings

merry and pippin hobbits

 

Sleeping with the Books

The homeless have been a public library fixture for several decades.  When I was an intern at San Diego Public Library in the 1970s, we had the polite fiction that as long as a person fell asleep with an open book in from of him or her, they were allowed to sleep as long as the library was open.  Any of our patrons might doze off while reading a less than stimulating book.

In academic libraries, college students are notorious for falling asleep after or while pulling all-nighters during exam week.  I have even known academic library staff to fall asleep in the library because it was easier than finding their way home.

Gladstone portrait.jpgSo imagine a library in Wales, where the public has been welcome to sleep with books since 1906. Four time British Prime Minister, William  Gladstone wanted his  personal collection of 32,000 volumes to remain in Wales after his death.  With the aid of his daughter and his valet, he relocated 20,000 books to their current location and shelved them in a catalog system that he created.  The library is open to the public.

Gladstone's library.jpg

Guests can stay in the reading rooms until 10 pm.  They may then take almost any book, many with Gladstone’s notes and annotations, to one of the 26 private sleeping rooms.

book and bed japanIn an unrelated note, there is a B&B (book and bed) hostel in Tokyo where people can sleep in beds located within the bookshelves. “The flagship location, Ikebukuro in Tokyo, has a whopping 3,200 books on its shelves and space for up to 5,000. (Sort of reminds us of this tiny British town that has more books than people.) The other three locations in Tokyo and Kyoto have wide collections too, with at least 1,500 volumes to choose from. Most of the books are in English or are guidebooks about Japan, but some of the titles are in Japanese, too. No matter what your tastes, you’re sure to “have a book day,” as Book and Bed Tokyo says.”