Tag Archives: winter

#fmsphotoaday Day 12 #fms_text

I feel like I cheated for this one.  Everyone on Instagram seemed to be working with fonts and books.  I took a screenshot.

Today’s Photo Challenge:  Text


I thought it was clever but it may get me kicked out of the photo challenge.

Also today on Instagram…


I got out of my car and chased down this plastic bag this morning.  I thought I was doing the right thing, you know.  Saving the Earth, keeping our streets clean.  When I got back in my car I noticed that the bag’s logo was not that of a grocery store or a convenience chain.  No.  It was labeled:  Patient’s Belongings.  Oh.  Dear.  God.  What kind of cooties did I just come in contact with.  Bleh.  Oh no.  Oh no!  So much hand sanitizer, folks.



Residents of Virginia can thank me as the weather returns to normal over the next few days.  All our wacky weather has been a result of my winter flag still being out.  No worries!  Spring flag is flying now!

Tomorrow’s photo challenge:  Mirror



Ramblings of a Crazy Bird Lady

If you see me quietly staring out a window, either that of a building or a car, I’m likely looking for birds.  Right now there’s a few Canada geese flying over.  It’s barely light outside and they are already moving from the pond across the way down to the creek.  I stop and listen.  Do you know why they fly in V fomation?  It helps combat wind resistance and allows the flock to fly for longer distances.  The goose in the front serves as the leader and is victim to the most resistance.  The job is switched out as the goose gets tired.  All that honking?  It’s done by everyone but the leader.  The rest of the geese are cheering him on for taking the most difficult position.  In V formation the flock can easily see one another.  If someone falls behind because of injury or weakness, two other geese will drop back and land with the down bird.  Those two will stay with him until he recovers or dies.  They also pick a mate for life.  The Canada Goose tends to be a more loyal friend and partner than most humans.

Canada geese are truly my first bird love.  My grandfather had a flock of them when I was growing up.  They were a retired group of live decoys that belonged to my great uncle.  When most kids had puppies and kittens, I had Cheepy.  Cheepy was an orphan Canada goose that my father found wandering by himself.  To this day, I can still perfectly mimic a goose call.


Me and my Cheepy … many moons ago.

Even though they are my childhood favorites, I think they have made me a keen observer to the behavior of others.  Months ago, I stood at a window at work and watched a robin hopping around the parking lot.  “That’s the first robin I have seen in days.  It’s only a matter of time now.”  Winter came and the robins were all gone.  With the first day of March, I have seen them reappearing.  Spring is coming and they are getting back to their breeding grounds.  Speaking of breeding, isn’t it neat how the female robin sits on the nest at night while all the male robins gather together and roost in the trees?  It’s almost like all of the guys meeting for a beer after work.

I’ve seen the Carolina wren poking around my Camellia bushes.  Will the bushes be suitable for wren families again this year?  Yesterday I heard the first male singing his proud song at the top of the bald crepe myrtles.  That is how you differentiate your male and female Carolina wrens.  The females sing very modest songs, but those males you’ll find at the top of the tree, beak up and face to the sky singing as loud as he can go.

Another sure sign of spring is that the Goldfinches are getting testy.  As they begin to molt in late winter, this mild mannered bird seems to become less tolerant of others.  Each day is a little longer and the male finches are getting a bit brighter.  They are the only finch that molts.  They are also the strictest of vegetarians.  Which is why brown-headed cowbirds babies cannot survive in their care.


The American Goldfinch

What?  Why would there be brown-headed cowbirds in their care?  I’m so glad you asked!  It’s a sad story, but every time I tell it I am amazed over and over again how instinct works.  Brown-headed cowbirds are considered a parasitic bird.  A female brown-headed cowbird will lay up to three dozen eggs in one year… in other birds’ nest!  That’s right, they do not raise their own chicks.  They deposit them in nest that are unattended with busy parents who are out collecting food.  They sometimes knock out the eggs or hatchlings of the working parents to make room for their own.  The BHC eggs hatch faster than most other species of birds, therefor giving these chicks a head start and a better chance at thriving in the strangers’ nest.  Isn’t it amazing?  How does a bird that was abandoned by its mother the moment it was laid as an egg know to repeat the same process when it is of breeding age?  Instinct!  So frickin’ amazing!


Common Grackles, Red-Winged Blackbirds and a Brown-Headed Cowbird

With the coming of spring, I will be sad because I’ll see less and less of my Blue Jays until the desperation of next winter comes.  They generally only frequent my yard in the harshest times of winter.  There will be happy birds dining at all feeders until suddenly they hear the call of a red-tail hawk.  All the happy birds clear the feeders to avoid becoming someone’s lunch.  Quietly, one by one, seven Blue Jays come to the feeders.  Blue Jays are a non-confrontational bird and do not want to fight over a feeding spot.  They use their special skill, mimicking a red-tail hawk call, and clear the other birds out.  They quickly stuff their gullet and head on out before the others come back.

The chickadees are reprogramming their brains as we speak.  In the fall, the chickadee’s brain allows neurons to die which contain old information about their social flock and environment in their cute tiny brains.


The Tufted Titmouse

Soon we’ll be seeing Cardinals attacking themselves in the reflection of glass and car mirrors.  They are such determined defenders of their breeding grounds they will attack anything that looks like another cardinal.


Cardinal Crew

I could go on and on for hours about birds.  I love them and their behavior.  I haven’t even got a chance to go into pigeons and grackles!

I have learned to watch the birds for all the information I need about the weather.  Those weathermen don’t know anything with their fancy gadgets.  Watch the birds.  You’ll see when winter is truly coming and when to look for spring.  You’ll learn about loyalty and how to watch out and support your friends.  Call me a bird brain all you want, the birds I’ve known have been better friends than most people I’ve came across.

S/W Ver: 96.B0.0AR


The one and only, Pesto Pigeon.

That Four Letter S Word

In my mother’s house, we were allowed some cursing rights by the time we were teenagers.  And by cursing rights, I mean that we were pretty much allowed to use all of them … except that four letter S word.  That’s right, snow.Image

Local followers of my blog are sweating right now looking at that.  They are shivering in fear.  They are now desperately searching for their car keys and the only thought on their mind is, “I hope to God that there is still bread available at the grocery store.”  That is… if you can get to the store.  Even if you can get there, will it even be open!?!  Maybe there will be a gas station open!  They might have bread.  CALL THE NATIONAL GUARD, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!

This is a legitimate ESVA reaction to snow.  The schools may even be closed tomorrow.  My dog is refusing to go outside to pee.  This is a crisis situation.

If you react this way, it is because you yourself have experienced first hand the wrath of snow in an area that never gets much winter precipitation.  You have survived a situation that you would rather forget about.  I have most of my snow dislike being raised in a family where our income depended on pleasant weather.  We worked on the water and we farmed.   Bad weather = no money.  No money = you are having conch for dinner.  I can tell you  that no child eats conch because they like it.  That chewy leather-like flesh is only consumed out of bare lack of paycheck necessity.

In the recent years, I made my complete crossover to hating snow.  Christmas of 2010, I was enjoying dinner at my mom’s before heading back to work.  A few flakes began following from the sky.  My mother says, “Alright, who said the s word?”

I was living a TV-less, media free life.  Everyone knew that I had no way of knowing what was happening out in the big world.  Not even the weather was witnessed by these eyes.  So the fact that we were about to get pounded by blizzard like conditions in a generally snow free zone was news to me.  Had I known that everyone was buying up every loaf of bread in a fifty mile radius I would have got in on the action.  I actually hadn’t stocked up on any groceries.  I was planning on visiting my mom’s house for the next few days to enjoy leftovers.  I didn’t need any stinking groceries.

So the snow fell, and fell, and fell.  The winds picked up.  I watched from the window  and encouraged my geriatric dog of the time that I was sure it was going to stop.  I think he knew as well as I did, that blizzards are no place for seventy pound arthritic dogs who already need help up and down the porch steps.

The snow didn’t stop until it was knee-deep.

My car was stuck.  Most of my neighbors were out of town.  My boss was barely managing to pick me up for work.  He got stuck in his own driveway, my driveway and slid into a ditch where we desperately sat for hours waiting for a tow truck.  Snow plows were getting stuck, tractors were getting stuck, army tanks were getting stuck.

Okay, that last part about the army tanks was an exaggeration.

Did I mention I was in charge of feeding pigeons?

Less than five miles from my house, a flock of my orphan pigeons and other straggler pigeons live in a farming garage.  When the pigeons grew up, they chose the garage as their new home and luckily were warmly embraced by a staff that fed my slacker pigeons tacos, chips and cookies.  They had left my house of great pigeon nutrition to become ‘college’ pigeons.

The staff is off between Christmas and New Year’s.  Sure, I said.  No problem, I would be glad to feed the pigeons!  In twelve inches of snow, wind gust up to forty miles an hour and no sign of life in days.

I knew that Christmas Day, a Saturday, I had left them with an impressive amount of pigeon food and several pans of water.  Anyone who has lived a life of pigeons knows that the word ‘pig’ is in their name for a good reason.  These damn birds will gorge themselves silly!  I pep talked myself through Sunday, through Monday, but by Tuesday I was worried about pigeon cannibalism.  My dad, calling from sunny Florida, insisted that they were probably fine.  “Mel, those pigeons aren’t stupid.  If they get hungry, they know where you live.  Pesto will lead that whole flock over to your house.”  Yes, I named a pigeon Pesto.

I couldn’t take it anymore.  I loaded up a backpack with water, pigeon seed and my cell phone.  I layered out the wazoo.  I put on my Road ID bike bracelet for identification.  I kissed my dog good-bye and headed out.

“Not so bad.  I can do this.  People pay money to hike in such conditions.  Walk in the snow laden park!”  I cut across an open field because I was sure it was save me time.  So sure that I forgot about the ditch and the miracle of wind to fill that thing up full to the brim with snow.  There was only one word that can sum up the feeling when you fall into a death snow trap.


I began to ‘tread water’ in the snow, only digging myself deeper.  That damn stuff was like quicksand.  I felt desperately for the edge of the ditch, gripping it with all of the strength of my hands.  “Oh, if someone would just drive by!”  At that moment a state truck came by, obviously way to busy to stare at the ditches for stranded idiots who decided to cut across the field.  “Maybe I should have been more specific.”  I was certainly going to starve to death and die.  My dog, my cat, those pigeons, they were going to starve and die.  I would never be found because I would surely first be discovered by a starving wild animal and devoured in entirety.  I finally wiggled and crawled my way to the road.  I found my feet again and continued to walk towards the pigeons’ home.

A nearby church had a gathering of cars in the parking lot.  People were waiting for the road to be reopened.  The one lane circus had been stopped for an incoming ambulance, which I can sadly report was not ordered for my ditch incident.  As I closed in on the church, I could hear someone calling my name.  It was my friends Toot and Andy.

Could they identify me by my walk?  Did the recognize my coat?  Or was it when they saw someone backpacking in the carnage of the snowstorm we had been left with they thought, “Oh, that can only be one moron”?

They were able to drive me another mile closer to my goal.  The road that branched off the main drag had a drift of snow that stood well above my head.  They let me out and apologized that they couldn’t take me any further.  I was okay with it though, I was that much closer.

I climbed the embankment and swore I could see Africa from the top.  As I was about to yell, “I’m on top of the world!”, I saw a Subaru Baja on the other side desperately trying to turn around.  I stumbled down the snow mountain and they were obviously shocked to see life coming from the main drag.

The man rolled down the window, “Do you need a ride?”

Now, I generally do not recommend hitchhiking with strangers.  This was a weather catastrophe though and all bets are off in these circumstances.  I took the lift.

As I situated myself in the passenger seat, the man began to ease along the snowy road.  “Where are you heading?  You don’t live down here do you?”

“Oh, no.”  This, ladies and gentleman, is where I should have kept my flipping mouth shut.  Let this be a lesson.  Of all the things I could have said:  I’m house sitting, I’m lost, I’m a prostitute and I have a date.  Anything but the truth.  “This summer, I raised orphan pigeons.  First it started with Pesto.  He was a single and is a blue check.  Quite rare for this area they say.  Next came Charlotte Elisabeth.  Now that Charlotte, she is crazy.  Never took to me being her mother and is a fricking lunatic because I had to force feed her peas and corn right until she  would eat on her own.  That pigeon always looks the she is scared shitless that someone is going to stuff some sort of defrosted frozen vegetable down her gullet.  Then there’s the twins, Gus and Jules.  Short for Augustine and Julien after Catholic saints, but also to represent that they were born around the end of July or beginning of August.”

The man realized that he had picked up a complete lunatic and could not wait to dump me back out into the winter weather.  I don’t think he even waved back when I yelled, “Thanks!”

I made it inside the shed and the scene was nearly that of The Birds.  Wings flapped crazily from the ceiling rafters.  They quickly gathered around feeding stations to stuff themselves like ticks.  After cooing over everyone and filling water bowls, I headed back out into the snow and successfully made it home.

So every time I see a flurry starting up, I worry.  Will the power go out?  Is there enough food in the pantries?  Will someone be there to feed the pigeons seed or burritos?  Will that man ever pick up a hitchhiker again?


*See the super proud one in the middle who knows how to pose for the camera?  That is my Pesto.  The blue bar off to the side eating by herself that is suspicously eyeing the crowd, that is the crazy Charlotte Elisabeth.  The two snuggled close to each other, eating side by side… Gus and Jules.