Sunday, November 30, 2014

Still missing them.

With Time

by Callie Sanders Thornton
"The pain will go away, with time"
"It won't be so bad, after awhile"
So say these friends of mine...
But they have never lost a child....
The pain will never go away
Yet it softens some, with time
My children are gone, it hurts to say
I'll never be "just fine"
Tho another year has come and gone
I hold your memories in my heart
They dance there, as if to song
From that I know I'll never part
As time goes by year after year
And the pain begins to soften
I know that it's alright to tear
And live with my memories, more often.....

                            Sweet dreams my sweet boys.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Woodpecker......what next?

A couple of weeks ago I heard a tap, tap, tapping coming from above the window in the kitchen.
It was quite loud and I thought it was a squirrel buggering about.
I went outside but couldn't see anything.
The next day the same thing was happening so this time I crept out and there, up high on the wooden siding of the house, pecking away like a jack hammer was a woodpecker.
A lot like the one above.
I, rather ridiculously on reflection, called out such nonsense as, "Go away." and "Get down from there."
The woodpecker didn't seem at all intimidated by my bellowing and carried on pecking.
He has made three holes so far.

I forgot about it until it started again when Philip was home.
It can be heard all over the house when he gets going.
Philip went out and chased him away, then he came back, Philip chased him away, then he came back.......and on and on.

After looking it up on the interwebs we were reliably informed that in the winter, with snow (and there is always snow here) and ice, the woodpeckers resort to attacking houses with wooden siding in their search for food.
They are hungry.   The advice is to feed them.  Preferably with suet blocks containing insects.
Great......another mouth to feed.
So, out we went and bought a couple of suet blocks and a feeder to put them in.
$20 well spent we hoped.

Philip hung it in the tree next to the house and back came the woodpecker - to the house, not the feeder.
Philip chased him away.  This time he just sat in the tree and squawked back at Philip.
He did not touch the suet block.
But, the squirrels did.  The next morning the feeder was lying under the tree in the snow but it had not a scrap of suet block left in it.
I replaced the block and have now hung it from a pole.
I have also now learned that all that info about how the woodpeckers are hungry and searching for food was a load of rubbish.
No...they are not looking for food.  They are looking for a bit of 'slap and tickle'.
They are advertising themselves to any passing lady woodpeckers and also stating clearly that this is their territory.
I don't feel so sorry for the little bugger now I know he isn't starving but simply singing the "song of his people" in the hope of a bit of nookie.

Yesterday I noticed one of the squirrels seemed to be hiding by the fence.
I then saw the red tail hawk in the tree.  I don't like him.

I know he is beautiful etc but I hate it when he takes one of the doves, squirrels or chipmunks.
I also know he has to eat but I wish he would go somewhere else to do it.

So, I went out and chased him away.  As he flapped slowly away I am sure I heard the squirrel give a sigh of relief.
I was telling Philip about the hawk when he came home and he said,  "Couldn't you have pointed out the woodpecker to him?"
That was rather mean wasn't it?

Monday, November 24, 2014


Saw this when we were shopping at the weekend.
We didn't buy it as it would soon be covered by snow but isn't it wonderful?
Perfect for me.
It has a Santa hat on and its wings flap.
Trouble is we get high winds at times as well as snow.  With this sort of outside decoration the snow collects on it and then the wind tries to blow it over.
We would be able to stake it down, we have to with everything else, but those wings would soon be broken after trying to flap weighed down by snow.
The stuff we have at the moment is like this.

This was last year.
We have bought more stuff now.....sigh.....well you can never have enough can you?
But, we try to get stuff that the wind will blow through.

On Saturday we put the lights all over the house (we got new ones as we didn't think much of these ones) and also over the new fence and the fir trees in the garden.
We were going to put the Santa, sleighs, reindeer etc out yesterday but the weather was too awful.

Thursday is Thanksgiving and Philip is off work.  It isn't meant to snow (so they say) on Thursday so we are hoping to do them in the morning.

Lily having a cuddle with Philip.

This evening we are supposed to be taking Tootsie to the vet for her rabies shot.
It is looking a bit dodgy though.
It is blowing a blizzard outside.  The snow is horizontal.
Philip has to get back from Chicago (an hour and a half drive normally) this could take considerably longer so he might not be home in time.
I shall just have to wait and see.  He will let me know if traffic is slow and I will call them.
And finally -

I have started putting the indoor decorations out.
I do start early as it takes rather a long time.
Every year this comes out.
Glenn made it for me when he was at school and proudly brought it home.
It is, obviously, a candle holder.
When he gave it to me we found that it wouldn't stand up.  This was mainly because it only had two legs and they were different lengths.
Not to be thwarted I turned it upside down and found that a candle fitted into it perfectly this way.
The legs acting as the holder.
This saved any tears of disappointment.
I love my candle holder.  It has 'special needs' and there is nothing wrong with that.
I also love to embellish it every year and I know that there is no one else with one anything like it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A bit chilly.

Tootsie.   She is convinced that she does actually fit in that box.
We have to take her to the vet on Monday for her rabies shot.
We are more concerned about how the vet will tell us off because she is too fat.
She is very 'solid' but he will say it is fat.
Oh well....

Here we see Bubba underneath Looby Loo.
She loves him.
He is doing pretty well at the moment (actually on my lap as I try to type, with his head on my hand).  He is around 17 years old and a bit bemused at times, but mainly ok.
I do have to check him if he is asleep for a long time.......just to see if he is still breathing.
We can't bear the thought of losing him.  That is the one bad thing about having pets.

Outside Christmas decorations & lights are already going up here.
We shall have to do ours this weekend as it is forecast to be slightly milder than the sub zero, arctic conditions we have been experiencing.   The arctic tundra will be back in place on Monday.

Now the snow is back (did it ever leave?) Merv is busily preparing his hole.
He is a happy little Merv again.
I noticed that all the snow poles are in place now.  No, I didn't know what they were until I moved here to the North Face of the Eiger, I mean Milwaukee.
They are long sticks that are put at intervals along the road so you can tell where the curb is under 4+ feet of snow.
They are also put next to fire hydrants so they can be located when they are completely buried.
I have learned lots of things about snow since I have lived here.

I have started putting out some of my indoor Christmas ornaments.
I took all the regular ones down from the living room and dining room and put them away.
Now I am gradually replacing them with the Christmas stuff.  
It actually doesn't seem more than a few weeks since I did it all last time.
Next Thursday will be Thanksgiving.  November is flying past.
I do enjoy the run up to Christmas but this year it seems more like a gallop up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter Drawers On........Again

Took this photo of this guy in our garden this morning.
I think we are so fortunate to have a pair of Cardinals living here with us.
The female is a dull brown colour but the male is so beautiful, with his bright red plumage.

 It shows up so brightly against our snow.
Yes, we have snow already.
You can see it in the tree in the second photo.   It is still extremely cold and I am enjoying my time wrapped in a blankie.

We did go out shopping on Saturday though.  We were looking for all things "Frozen" not in the garden.
Our budget is limited (supposedly) to $25.
We had a bit of a find and we bought it immediately.
Apart from the fact that the gifts have to be wrapped and handed in on Dec 3rd (which isn't that far away), we guessed that if we didn't buy it now, then it wouldn't be around later.
Here it is.

A scooter.
A 'Frozen' scooter.
A 'Frozen' scooter for $19.97. !!!!
I think the little girl we are sponsoring will go nuts over this.
This also meant we had enough money to buy something to go with it, which we did.
A set of books, crayons, stickers, light up thingie ........all 'Frozen'.......for about $14.
Well, we didn't go much over the limit.
This is the perfect pressie in the circumstances.  We are always aware not to buy anything that needs batteries as even if we supply some to start off with, it is unlikely the family will be able to afford any more.  Then the gift is useless.
Here is her letter :-

I am rather impressed with her writing skills at age 7.
Being poor doesn't mean you are not intelligent.

I did look at the Easy Bake ovens.  I don't think we have them in the UK but they have been around over here for years.  They cook using just a light bulb.  I imagine it would be a high wattage light bulb.
UK Health and Safety would have a fit.
We could have bought one for a little over the budget but, and it is a BIG BUT, they cook little cakes, not using a regular recipe but special little packets of stuff you buy.
The little packets I found were all over $5 each.
Now, I doubt whether this family would be able to afford to keep buying these.  That would make this present useless too.
I love the little drawings she has put on the letter and I am really impressed that she says, "I would like...", rather than, "I want."

I am so chuffed that we found something that she doesn't need batteries for, is adjustable and, I think, she will really like.
I wish I could be there when they open their presents from Father Christmas......sigh.......

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Well I eventually made the decision to unfriend someone I know.
I rarely do this.  Very rarely actually.
But, I asked Glenn to look on her page and tell me if he could see anything other than stupid Family Farm stuff.
He looked and told me all the things he could see, which was a lot more than I could.
This made it clear I was being restricted.
I don't see the point of that.   If you don't want someone to see your posts then you really can't be friends with my opinion.
So, I 'unfriended' her.
If she ever decides she would like to be friends with me again, she can let me know.

We had some brilliant news yesterday.
Some people may recall that we take part in a charity event every Christmas involving really poor kids.
Philip's company team up with a school in a very deprived area to make sure the kids get at least one present.
Every child writes a letter to Santa and those of us who take part are given one of these letters.  We then shop for gifts on the child's list.
For the last few years we have had boys.  I love little boys but it is nice to buy for a girl sometimes.
Well, this year we did get a girl.   She is only 7 and I received her letter to Santa yesterday.
It seems she would like almost everything to do with Frozen.
I have never seen it, nor am I likely to.  I think there is singing in it.   Not my cup of tea at all.
Anyway, we shall have to start looking for things she would like.
She did put an iphone on her list too but I think Father Christmas might not have any of those.
How does a 7 year old even know about iphones?  
I expect I am out of touch and they all probably know about them before they can crawl.

I shall probably make up another gift as a spare.  There must be kids that are off sick when the letters are written or something.  So, I think I will wrap something up and write what age/gender the gift will be suitable for then they can give it out to whoever needs it.
I wouldn't like to think any are left out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Perfect Polly

Technology.......whatever delights will they think of  next.

This must be one of the saddest things I have seen.   I hope that no one buys one of these for someone as a Christmas gift........ever.

Speaking of Christmas, and do I speak of much else, I have been making the Christmas puds today.
Oh bloody hell, I had forgotten how long it takes just to get the ingredients ready.
There are so many of them.
I follow an a traditional recipe that my mum used.
It calls for, among other things, treacle, carrot, apple, nuts, fruit, brandy and stout.
I measure (mostly) everything but my mum never did.
She used to make them for all her sisters too.  Famed for her puds she was.
I doubt that mine are up to her standards but they are not bad at all.
Once you have all your ingredients (and the ones above are only about half of them) measured etc, then you basically bung it all in and mix it up.
But, then you have to prepare the basins, cover & seal them properly and finally steam them for 6 hours.  Yup......6 hours.
What a pallaver.
I almost bought some when I was in the UK recently but then I wondered what customs would make of them (they can be picky).  I didn't want to be stopped and searched over a Christmas Pud.
Anyway, homemade are so much nicer than the shop bought ones.
Well, they'd better be after all this mucking about.

Friends on Facebook.
I recently went through my friends list and removed several.
There were people on there I didn't know at all.  I couldn't even figure out how some had got there.
Lately I have noticed that even some I do know, and know very well, and have known for years are being a bit "off".
One, I am pretty sure, has put me on 'restricted'.  For those not in the facebook family, this means you can't see what they are posting or anything that is going on with them.
I am pretty sure that is what has happened .......unless all she ever does now is play Family Farm, because that is all I can see.
What is the point of that?
If you don't want me to see your postings then surely we are not friends.  So, why should I keep you on my friends list?
I will give it a couple of days and if Family Farm is still the only thing to show I will conclude that we are no longer friends.
Also, another one is being a bit 'iffy' too.   He might have to go.   That will be a shame as I have known him for a very long time but I am tired of being ignored.

Funny really, a few years ago we never worried about friends on facebook.  For all that it is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with those a long way away, it also seems to make me a bit more sensitive.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Another course.

I have finished my Paleobiology course.
I must admit I really enjoyed this one and finished it early.  Very early.
Unlike the other online courses I have taken, this one gave the whole 12 weeks of lectures and tests right at the start so that you can work at your own pace.
Had I not enjoyed it I wouldn't have whizzed through it so quickly.
I won't get results though until around Christmas.

I am having fun, mostly, with these online courses.  I have found though, that they do vary in quality and quantity.
The first one I did, which was on archaeology, was very structured and very well thought out.
It was run by Brown University in Boston (which is an 'ivy league' uni) and now I have done others, it really showed.
The professor was excellent.  The lectures were entertaining, the tests were quite challenging and the essays were rather intense.  Plus, you had to submit a completed test and essay every week.
As it was my first go, I thought they were all like this.
They are not.

The next one was one on animal behaviour.  I really thought I would love this.  I did not.
It was run by an Aussie university and was, to be honest, something of a shambles.
There were lots of problems with the content of lectures, typos, notes, peer reviews (not my favourite) and even giving tests on subjects and information that hadn't yet been covered in the lectures.
Peer reviews........hmmmmmmm.   They would be ok if everyone would just play nice.  Unfortunately some people get carried away with power and are harsh or even quite nasty to each other.
I, personally, am not comfortable in marking someone else's work in a subject that I am only just learning about myself.
So, because we are doing this for fun and it is free, I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and mark them accordingly. Also, there are people doing these courses for whom English is not their first language so that should always be taken into account.
Only once did I take a mark off of someone and that was because he or she had done a rubbish essay that was only a few words when it was supposed to be at least 850 - very little effort at all really.
I then felt really bad about it.

This last one, paleobiology, was run by a Canadian uni.
It has been extremely informative.  It is not just about dinosaurs but the actual biology of them.  I found this so interesting.  I thought, as probably most people do, that I knew a fair amount about them.  It seems I knew nothing but I know a bloody sight more now.

I have already signed up for one starting in the new year.  Astrobiology I think that is.  I won't do another before then as I have a lot of Christmas prep to do in the run up and this takes up a lot of my time.
Speaking of which, I am going to cook the Christmas cake this afternoon.   I have been preparing the cake tins.  I make little ones to give as gifts too.
Preparing the cake tins takes longer than making the cake.
I expect I will do the pudding in a few days.    
That will be another little job taken care of.