The Ballast Has Shifted


storm at sea

Ballast in the hold

shifted as  waves

beat against the sides,

the vessel listed.

Winds rose

waves pummeling

ever harder.

The vessel groaned

as the ballast shifted further

up the starboard side.

Ceaseless storms broadsided

the vessel which

floundered in the maelstrom.

Without a firm hand

on the wheel,

swirling winds and currents

decided her track.

Sickness stalked the vessel.

Equipment failed.

The crew mutinied.

Winds of change

blew against the sides


the ballast in the hold.

The vessel groaned

righting itself.

Mr. Christian smiled.

The ship of state sailed on.

Reblog: Walking from Harvesting Hecate

Andrea Stephenson, a librarian in the UK, has written the blog I wished I had had the eloquence to write.  She loves walking in nature; it grounds her.  She expresses how it might feel if she were not white.

English Woods

From her post (not the beginning)

I take it for granted that I can walk where I want to walk without needing to have an explanation. I take it for granted that I belong in this space, that I belong in nature and should have a relationship with it. When I walk, I draw on memory, history, past and present to find my place in the world. Very occasionally I’ve felt vulnerable, as a woman alone, but in general I don’t think twice about my safety. Somehow I feel no harm will come to me among nature.

To read more click here.

What Would Hoover Think?: Another Attempt to Slow Down Enterprising Squirrels

Since we moved to Central Virginia,  we have had an ongoing struggle making our bird feeder more squirrel proof.  We are on our third feeder and the squirrels have outwitted us every step of the way.

Jean Marie Oliviere sent me a link to the Ninja Warrior  Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.  Mark Rober put a lot of thought and effort into building his squirrel proof feeder and documenting the success or lack  thereof of his attempts.

If you enjoy watching cheeky tree rats  engage in a battle of wits with humans, then you will love the four squirrels in this Building A Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.


Grandbirdie update–Where Have All the Birdies Gone?

From the Audobon site on Carolina Wrens.

Incubation is by female only, 12-16 days; male may feed female during incubation. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 12-14 days after hatching. 2 broods per year, or 3 in south.
We should have realized last week when the birds were not squawking or moving and what I think was a grown bird in the nest that something was not right.
When  Bob went to water the fuchsia, no bird flew out of the nest and we heard no chirps from baby birds demanding to be fed.  By now we should have seen baby bird exercising their wings,  in preparation of fledging.
When Bob took the plant down, the nest was empty.
Grandbirdies--The Nest is empy

I really hope that we were not part of the problem. The plant is thriving. Maybe the Carolina Wrens will try a second clutch in that same plant.

Fuschia plant where the nest is.

Grandbirdie Update

When we watered the Fuschia last Sunday, I had another opportunity to check up on our grandbirdies.  They are continuing to thrive and their parents are so busy gathering food for these growing, ravenous creatures they seem to hardly ever be on the nest. (I think there may have been a parent in the nest because of the feathers but I can not tell for sure. Would the babies have started sprouting feathers this early?)  So far as we can tell, the babies are still not to the sitting up and chirping for food level, but I think that will happen shortly.

Baby birds getting some feathers 20200516

Why the Moon Gave Me a Smiley Face

It’s probably a once in a lifetime event but today I exceeded any expectations that I ever had about views.  It generated over 9,000 views but only 26 likes and 11 comments.

Smley FAce stats

I think people were hoping to actually see where and how they would find the smiley face moon which would have been caused by a crescent moon mouth with eyes by Jupiter and Venus.  Such a phenomenon is called an occultation.

smiley face moon

Unfortunately, the planets did not align correctly and were located in different parts of the heavens.

It might have been exactly what we needed to cheer us up during a pandemic.

What do you think?

Will there Be a Smiley Face Moon on May 16?

On May 7, I heard Phlash Phelps on Sirius  Sixties on 6 talk about Venus, Jupiter, and the crescent moon forming a smiley face in the night sky.   I have found Phlash to normally be correct when he shares tidbits of information with us so I was intrigued.

I was looking for a picture to see what this smiley face might look like.

smiley face moon

Were the heavens giving a pandemic weary Earth a reason to look up and smile back?

It’s claimed that on May 16, 2020, Venus, Jupiter and a crescent Moon will align and look like a smiling face looking down on us, that it’s a “quite a rare astronomical phenomenon” and that it’s called an occultation.

According to James Carter at Forbes, the planets are in different parts of the sky and will not be a position to form the predicted smiley face.  So this is fake news.



May 13 is National Frog Jumping Day

The  holiday began after Mark Twain wrote the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,

From the National Day Calendar

In 1865, Mark Twain published his first short story, Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog. Later, he changed the name and published it as The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  This same story also had a third title, The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

The current frog jumping record was set in 1986 by Rosie the Ribeter, who jumped 21 feet, 5-3/4 inches.

Mark Twain’s story about a pet frog named Dan’l Webster and a casual competition between two men betting on whose frog jumps higher, is the origin of National Frog Jumping Day. The annual Frog Jumping Contest, which began in 1849 in Calaveras County, California is also an origin of this holiday. The international counterpart of this celebration is February 19.frog

Mother’s Day–Granbirdies update

We had to water the fucshia plant this afternoon.  Since the mother bird did not fly out of the nest, we used the opportunity to take the plant down and look into the nest.

All four eggs have hatched!  The babies are naked and not yet making any sound, but they can sure open their mouths when they think food may be approaching.

Hungry baby bird waiting to be fed

We are guessing that Mama was out making a food run.

We look forward to hearing the chirping of hungry birds soon.

When the Quills Point Inward


leaf-cactus spine

In this time of inside out

when before has vanished

and next is still a mirage,

my prickly defenses reverse

to poke me into things

I now have time to confront.

Contemplation, mindfulness,

errant thoughts chunnel on

a schedule of their own

with or without my bidding.

The landscape

is shape-shifting

as the next me

coalesces, forms

and reforms

into whatever


it will take.

Carmel sunset over Point Lobos

We’re Expecting Grandbirdies

Two years ago, we had a pair of Carolina Wrens build a nest in our hanging plant.  They had four babies and we had the opportunity to view the the baby birds  fledge  one afternoon while we were sitting on the back porch.  The largest one flew the most distance, the youngest one barely cleared the porch railing before landing on the ground.  The parents immediately checked out each baby bird upon landing.  We think that the three most developed may have lived.

We had no nests built in our hanging plant  last summer.   This year we put up a fushia in a hanging pot and I noticed a bird fly out of the plant when I watered it two days ago.  Today, my husband saw the bird exit again.  He got the plant down off the hanger and we discovered a nest with four eggs in it.