It’s been a busy week even though we are spending most of our time at home these days. We are trying to avoid exposure to Omicron because of Byron’s impaired immune system, and earlier in the week I found myself feeling quite blue about being so housebound. But then I started looking at how we are spending our at-home time and decided that we are actually spending our time very well and I have nothing to complain about! The photos above are of this busy week:
First of all, I read three books this week. Love in an English Garden, by Victoria Connelly, was a gentle read, a light romance with garden at the heart. Then, The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, was a powerful and beautifully written and illustrated story about the first slaves brought to America in 1619. I highly recommend it! And then, I listened to an audiobook of the first book in a new-to-me mystery series, Murder is Binding (a Booktown Mystery), by Lorna Barrett. It was fun.
We watched Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. It was an awesome production, and I thought it was very much like a film by Ingmar Bergman. That’s a high compliment!
I have been working each morning on my Spanish, using the app/program, Duolingo. I’m really enjoying the challenge, and am hoping to regain some of the Spanish I have lost over the years by not speaking it often enough.
And one last activity…Byron and I trapped and relocated a pesky squirrel that moved into our attic recently. This seems to happen almost every winter so we’ve become quite skilled at using our trap and taking these squirrels to a decent relocation spot.
Overall, a pretty interesting week. Feeling blue can definitely be part of this ongoing pandemic, but I am trying to make positive choices about how to spend my time and emotional energy.
We live on Cedar Street, and although I don’t know this for sure, I suspect the street was named because of our incredible Cedar tree that has been here for 100 years. The street was originally named something else, and I have no proof whatsoever that a change was made because our tree grew in such an amazing way. But it is unique and majestic, home to all kinds of wildlife, and worthy of having a street named after it, in my opinion.
Although reading books (and listening to audiobooks) is the favorite entertainment at our house, Byron and I are also avid birdwatchers. We have always enjoyed watching the birds that frequent our yard, no matter where we have lived. However, watching birds has become a major entertainment since we have been mostly housebound in the last few months while continuing our Covid precautions because of Byron’s impaired immune system, and because of our recent snowy and icy weather.
A few months ago, with our daughter’s help, we expanded our bird feeding station, added new platforms and a suet holder, bought a 40-lb box of Audubon bird seed at Costco, and put our binoculars and our favorite bird book in the drawer by the kitchen window. The birdwatching entertainment has been endless!
Our birdfeeding station
I’ve been keeping a list of the birds we’ve identified. There are two other birds that don’t show up at the feeders, but that we know are keeping close tabs on the entertainment below (the Great Horned Owl which we hear often in the early morning, and the Cooper’s Hawk that has taken two of our scrub jays in the last few years). And of course I must mentioned the squirrels that add even more drama and entertainment out our kitchen window.
Here’s a collage of the winter birds we’ve had visit our yard recently and keep us highly entertained by their endless antics. (Photos from the internet)
In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
~ Robert Wilson Lynd
Many of you live where you get a lot more snow than we have here this morning, but it’s unusual for us to see much white. So I was really excited when I awoke to a winter wonderland this morning! And we won’t be going anywhere today. After we shovel the snow off our sidewalks, we are just going to stay warm and cozy inside and spend the day reading!
illustration by Bee Johnson
Our house is the one on the right. Photo taken in 1912, we think.
Our neighborhood is called “Old Town.” The trees that shade our streets and houses are very old. The oaks that surround our next door neighbor’s house, and stand tall on our property line, are over 100 years old. Their shade is wonderful in the heat of the summer, but they drop tons of leaves in the Fall. (My neighbor rolled down his window as he drove past us the other day and called out, “Leafageddon, again!”) The sound of leaf blowers (which my husband hates) is deafening on the weekends. We use our big rakes, raking leaves the old-fashioned way, and despite an occasional blister, we enjoy the job. Once each month, October through December, the town’s leaf vacuum truck comes by and vacuums up the huge piles of leaves that are raked or blown to the curb. Watching for the vacuum truck has become a delightful Autumn ritual.
*Note: This post is from the archives of my old garden blog.
It’s a couple of days early to announce the arrival of Autumn, but I have photos that prove it is definitely here. For the last few days, it has been raining (really more like hailing) acorns! We live with 4 giant Oak trees on our east property line. They’re over 100 years old, and very tall. Each year, the acorns fall, but this year is the first we’ve experienced such a massive amount falling! I don’t know what it means, or if it’s just normal to have a year with a million acorns falling almost all at once, but it’s interesting! We hear one hit the roof, or the patio. They bounce and hit again. And then we hear another, and another. I refuse to go into the east side of our yard because one year I was hit by one of those falling acorns, right on the muscle between shoulder and neck, and it hurt like crazy and left a deep bruise that took a long time to heal. Hailing acorns…Autumn has most definitely arrived.
Day 1: acorns gathered
Day 2: more acorns gathered
Total haul as of today!
A couple of our Oak trees
What is Orange?
Orange is a tiger lily,
A feather from
The wildest color you can name.
In a sunset that
Shocks the sky.
Orange is brave
Orange is bold
Orange is zip
Orange is dash
The brightest stripe
In a Roman sash.
Orange is an orange
Also a mango.
Orange is the music
Of the tango.
Orange is the fur
Of the fiery fox,
The brightest crayon
In the box.
And in the fall
When the leaves are turning
Orange is the smell
Of a bonfire burning.
by: Mary O’Neil, from Hailstones and Halibut Bones
We live in a condominium complex called “Springtree.” It’s a small complex with a variety of units — some townhouses, some ramblers — and the grounds are just beautiful. I took a walk this week and took photos so I could share with you some of the spring blossoms and flowers that are out.
This week truly has been one of those crazy weeks. It started badly but ended well, and I’m just happy the weekend is finally here. Bright and early on Monday morning I dropped my husband off at the bus stop, came home and put a load of clothes in the washing machine downstairs. A very short time later, I heard the smoke alarm go off in the wash room!
I grabbed my cell phone, then hurried downstairs to investigate and found wispy smoke in the family room, which is right next to the wash room. I figured the problem must be the washing machine, so I yanked out the plug, checked for flames or the source of the smoke, and called 911 all at the same time.
The Kirkland firefighters arrived in less that 5 minutes, checked everything out very thoroughly, and reported that the motor on the washing machine must have burned out. They were so kind and reassuring, and told me I did everything RIGHT: had a working smoke alarm, pulled the plug on the washing machine which stopped the problem from getting any worse, and called for help. They set up their big fans and blew the smoke out of the downstairs, and then told me I’d need to take that load of clothes to the laundromat so all our underwear (of course it was a load of underwear) wouldn’t smell like smoke! We were so lucky! No fire, no smoke damage, just a scary way to start the week!!
The rest of the week has been filled with shopping for a new washer (and dryer), and with being at home for the delivery and installation, and with trying to catch up with what seems like massive amounts of laundry that had to wait for the new machine! All this around my husband’s deadline at work, and trying to teach and meet my own report card deadline at school. But that’s okay because all ended well. I have nothing to complain about.
Here’s the little gem that arrived at our house on Thursday afternoon, and that we already love and appreciate. And I am so looking forward to a quiet weekend with time to read and visit your blogs, and perhaps get caught up on the laundry.
You were right, Bookfool! Can’t trust those birdies! Your comment on my Monday morning “Bird Song” post was so prophetic!
“I’m thinking one shouldn’t trust the birdies because we keep creeping up to the 70’s and then it drops right back down to the 30’s.”
Here we are this morning, with a late-start for school due to snow and slippery roads! Spring ain’t here yet! Darn it.
Photo by Lee Karney, from the Washington DC Library,
courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Library System
I never listen to the Groundhog’s predictions of when Spring will come. For me, the sign of hope is always when I hear the first morning bird song of the season. I heard it this morning after months and months of dark, cold winter and morning silence in the woods outside my house! And it triggered a memory of a little song from my very early childhood: “Spring is coming! How do I know? A little Robin told me so!”
MAIN ROADS: Wet, but clear of ice and snow.
SIDE ROADS: Terrible, but the ice is starting to melt!
CABIN FEVER? — Subsiding!
Thanks to all of you for your calls and comments on being snowbound in the Seattle area. For those of you that live far away, an explanation: the Seattle area is very hilly and doesn’t usually get much snow or ice, so we don’t have a lot of snow-removing equipment, and we don’t use salt on our roads because it is considered to be very bad for our sensitive wetlands and marine life. So when we get a major storm like this one, we usually just wait a day or two and it all melts and the beautiful winter green returns. However, every once in a while (like in 1990, again in 1996, and like this year), we get hit by a really mean storm, with either deep snow or terrible winds, or both. And then we’re in trouble with terrible road conditions and/or no power due to toppled trees. No fun!
B and I live at the top of a hill, and the main road down the hill has been closed for days. It’s open and clear now. However, the ice on our street will take a couple of days of serious melting to clear, and has been treacherous for walking as well as for driving. A few of our neighbors with 4-wheel drive SUVs have braved the roads in the last week, and we watched them from the window and decided not to even try it. We’ve enjoyed our snowbound activities, and our wintery walks, but it was awfully good to get out this morning and go to the grocery store. And, of course, we stopped at Starbucks (which had the longest line we’ve ever seen there) on the way home.
And I promise to get back to book reviewing soon!