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Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
9:17 pm - So You Wanna Be a Hero
I spent a long time watching birds in the back yard this afternoon. It was kind of a circus out there with a whole flock of starlings and their babies swarming the yard and juncos darting here and there and four baby squirrels doing crazy jumps all over the place and then I'd see these occasional little flashes of yellow. The birds around here aren't very colorful, so anything yellow is always exciting and it was clear I had some kind of warbler on my hands, but they were so small and they moved so fast and were flitting in and out of all the yellow-green spring foliage. Finally I got a chance to see the distinctive black cap on one of the males and I had my ID: a Wilson's warbler! They are very pretty little things and a bird that we've never seen in our yard before--always a score!



Today has also been a big day for birds hitting the windows. We have great big windows in our living room and I heard two window strikes during the time that the flock of starlings had taken over the yard, so I figured a couple of young birds learned an important lesson about glass. When I glanced out later, I saw no spots on the windows or bodies in the bushes, so I assume those encounters went well enough.

This evening, however, as dusk started creeping in, I heard another bird hit one of the windows. My first priority was to prevent the dog from charging out to confront the attacker--she's thinking this might be a new spin on people knocking on the door. I then went back to dishing up some rice pudding. Once I had my bowl of pudding, I decided to stroll out to the front windows with the dog to admire the wet green dusk and wish my headache wasn't getting worse as well as check to see if there was any evidence of the collision. And there was. Some bright yellow and black feathers were stuck to the window and I knew that one of the Wilson's had taken a hit. I did my best to scan the ground below the shrubs planted under the windows and I saw a flutter. It was too hard with the reflections in the glass and the fading light and the window screen to get a good look, so I went outside and there was a beautiful little male warbler, vivid as could be, still alive, with one of his wings stuck out to the side.

My next thought was, "Oh shit." I really didn't want to leave that bird under the bush to be eaten by something in the night (we had a sick jay in our yard one evening and the next morning there were chunks of it spread all over--nature took its course, but it was icky) if it was a case of wing, not brain, damage. I decided to draw from the experience I gained last summer rescuing baby flying squirrels and started to assemble the kit: a smallish box, paper towels to line it with, a cloth towel for covering the bird, a pair gloves for picking it up, etc. Then I marched back outside. The little bird was still alive and both wings were folded now. We looked at each other for a moment, and then to my surprise, it took off! It seemed initially a little unsteady, but after perching for a moment on the gutter, it flew away. Apparently the wing was not broken, as I had feared, and it was only stunned! So I went back inside and disassembled my small wildlife rescue kit. I hope its sudden reanimation was not just a temporary reprieve and that it has many more days of being a Wilson's warbler yet to come.

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010
6:34 pm - Thought
Have I ever mentioned that I love Golden Press's "Birds of North America" guidebook? I find it so satisfyingly finite. If I see a bird outside, I know that it will be in the book. We're not birders by any means in my family, but we do like to know what we're looking at, so we whip out the bird book fairly often. Changing our backyard from lawn to woodland has definitely upped the number of birds we see, which is nice, since that was one of the things we requested from the landscape architect. We don't put seed out because we seem to get rats every time we do, but our bird baths are incredibly popular, as is our grass-free ground surrounded by the protection of the cedars. The various thrushes especially liked rooting through the fallen leaves we left down for most of the winter and we had a flock of juncos that swarmed the yard every day at eleven o'clock. I'm looking forward to the summer when the birds have had their babies and our central bird bath becomes a training ground for the young birds to develop their drinking and bathing skills.

Anyway, today I saw a bird out in the yard that I'd never seen before. A careful study of the bird book revealed that the visitor is a Townsend's Solitaire. It was back in the yard again this evening, so hopefully it'll stay around. I also verified that the new type of chickadee we're seeing (in addition to the regular black-capped variety) is the chestnut-backed chickadee. The other day I saw a mountain chickadee at one of the feeders at Benny the Ancient Kitty's house. My fingers are crossed that we'll start seeing a few of those bathing in our yard. (According to the bird book, the Northwest is the only region where more than two varieties of chickadees may be seen in a given area. Just so you know.)

There was just one occasion when the bird book appeared to fail us. Last summer my dad and I were sitting outside as the sun was setting and we saw a bird way up at the top of one of the conifers in a neighboring yard that had a very striking yellowish-orange breast. It didn't fit the description of any bird we could think of and so we fetched the bird book and the binoculars and spent the longest time trying to figure out what it was. Nothing in the book seemed to match up. It wasn't until the sun went down further and the bird finally stirred that we finally understood what we were looking at. It was a starling whose normally dark but iridescent feathers had been reflecting the color of the setting sun! (It WOULD be a starling, those junky things, that would fools us like that.) The bird book always comes through in the end.

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Friday, April 16th, 2010
1:13 pm - Stuff by Other People
Another fun website/blog with amusing graphics. Grammarians will appreciate the "Alot" bit, but I recommend the goose story for everyone. Be sure to watch the video!

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

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Sunday, December 6th, 2009
11:35 am - Art
I happen to really love the William Blake poem, "The Sick Rose," and have had bits of it stuck in my head lately, the first line in particular.

***

O rose, thou art sick:
The invisible worm
That flies in the night
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

***

I always think of "Black Magic" roses when I read it.



***

One day I will make a piece of art that does justice to the dark and gorgeous vision this poem conjures in my head.

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Sunday, October 18th, 2009
9:48 pm - Done
The week from hell has passed at last. I'm currently feeling far more cross than relieved. Tomorrow: all the things that I couldn't do last week.

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Monday, September 28th, 2009
10:11 pm - Panty Flash!
Courtesy of my friend Aaron.

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Friday, September 11th, 2009
10:58 pm - Obligatory
You've probably already seen this, but in case you haven't...

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Thursday, September 10th, 2009
5:21 pm - Popular Demand
Enough people wanted me to put this on YouTube that I went ahead and opened myself an account. So here it is for any of you who haven't seen it yet. (Yes, Hunter, it IS my dog, but I like to think I did a decent job of making it entertaining for everyone...)



Look out, world!

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Sunday, August 30th, 2009
3:04 pm - Fingers Crossed...
I actually managed to summon the courage to ask my parents if they would consider getting another dog. They have some strong doubts, but are considering it. My mom hates to say no to me. But I am required to make a compelling case. Am doing research.

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Saturday, August 29th, 2009
9:47 pm - Heartbreak
I really, really, really wish I could adopt this puppy. I met her at the Pit Bull Parade. She's six months old, sweet and petite, playful and friendly. She's up for adoption at the local Humane Society. I don't think getting a second dog is allowed, but wow, she has stolen my heart! This picture doesn't do justice to how lively and beautiful she is. I love her unique coloring--she has a gray nose to go with her gray eyes and the gray in her brindle! (And someone had the lack of imagination to name her "Brownie.") Be still, my heart!


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Friday, August 28th, 2009
11:07 am - Silly
I am devoting this entry to something nauseatingly cute: the songs I sing to my dog.

"There Once was a Dog Named Abbey" (often sung as a lead-in to "Abbey the Brindle Doggy")

"Abbey the Brindle Doggy" (sung to the tune of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer")

"Waggy Dog" (sung to the tune of Flight of the Conchords' "Leggy Blonde")

"If You're Abbey and You Know It, Wag Your Tail"

"Hello Abbey, Hello Boo-Boo"

"Don't Say Nothing Bad About My Abbey" (sung to the tune of "Don't Say Nothing Bad About My Baby")

"Abbey Abbey Brindle Gal" (sung to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star")

For the record, she loves it when I sing to her. Lyrics available upon request.


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Thursday, August 20th, 2009
10:27 pm - Quickie
This has NOTHING to do with any of the fabulous things I will report tomorrow, but thought I would duly note that today I saw a kid dressed as an honest-to-god old school punk--the mohawk, the ripped wife-beater with some punk slogan scrawled on it in black marker, the tight black jeans, and big tall pair of Doc Marten boots--and I realized that it's been a long time since I saw someone wearing a pair of Docs. I was happy to see them.





I spent many of my teen years lusting after Doc Marten boots and the very first thing I did after we got back from moving my sister into her dorm room LA right before my senior year was go to Hot Topic and buy a pair of 14-eye boots. Not the 8-eye ones, like some of my friends had, but the 14's. And they were too uncomfortable to wear--the leather bent around the ankles and would rub my skin raw within minutes--but I have never been sorry for a moment that I spent $147 to obtain them. It's been enough, all these years, to own a pair, to own a no-holds-barred kick-ass pair of tall Docs and I hope there are young girls dreaming about them somewhere still.

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
8:52 pm - Up?
Since I last posted, I have...

...taken a nap, applied for a job as a dog walker, been slightly miffed by the message left by the headache clinic nurse, eaten a really good vegetarian BLT with home-grown tomatoes, and made significant strides toward the purchase of a car.

Trends point upward. I intend to sleep tonight.

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
3:55 pm - More Baby (Squirrel) Pictures
Well, the latest wee one has been dropped off at the wildlife rehabilitation center where he's been reunited with his sister. They said she's doing well. I was pleased to see that this little guy was a lot feistier after being in his little nest in the box--he had been easy to pick up when he was out in the yard, offering virtually no struggle at all, but he did some vigorous kicking and boxing when I peeled back the towels to see how he was doing (and snap a few more photos) before his journey to PAWS. And I was VERY excited to see that his eyes were starting to open!



Baby on his back, the preferred position for teeny-weeny baby squirrels, it seems.



Look at his tiny little rodent teeth!



With a little adjustment to the photo, you can see that the eye is starting to open!

I'm quite paranoid now, scanning the backyard every few minutes. At PAWS they said mother might have been killed and now the babies are creeping out of the nest because they're hungry, or it may have been a poorly constructed nest and the babies are simply falling out, or crows or other squirrels might be tearing apart the nest. Flying squirrels generally have litters of 2-5, so there may be more on the way... I'm ready to save them all!

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11:32 am - It's Raining Baby Squirrels!
I found another baby flying squirrel in the yard just a minute ago! I'm not sure if they're falling out of the nest or what, but I don't think this is supposed happen! I was looking out the kitchen window while drinking a glass of water and spotted something small and furry out in the dirt and thought, uh oh, I know what THAT is! I dug the squirrel transporting box out of the trash, grabbed some gloves, towels, and my camera, and now Twisp II (I had decided that IF I had kept the first one, I would have named it Twisp) is wrapped up and on the heating pad in the garage and I've put in a call to get ride out to PAWS this afternoon. Poor babies! I went back outside and looked very carefully under the trees to see if there were any others that I might have missed (with Abbey watching through the screen door and clearly thinking, what ARE you doing?) and didn't see anything else, but I'm not putting the box back in the trash this time!

A few pictures of this little one:








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Sunday, August 16th, 2009
12:41 pm - Small, Helpless Baby Animal
Any and all of yesterday's nonactivities and sole activity (a 2+ hour drive in the evening--very nice!) were instantly forgotten when we discovered the baby squirrel on the patio around dusk last night. We believe Momma Squirrel dropped the baby and ran when Ab barked at her from the back door--because Abbey DID bark at something and the next time my dad walked past the back door he spotted something funny on the patio... (We had actually been on rat alert--my mom had seen one strolling across the deck in the morning and my dad put traps down--and caught a juvenile squirrel shortly after we saw the baby, which left a nasty taste in our mouths.) We left the baby where it was, in fetal squirrel position, hoping that it might get picked up again, but by bedtime it was still curled up on the stones, so I did some squirrel rescue research and my dad put on his yard gloves and put the little fella in a shoebox I'd filled with towels (though not before baby tried to make a run for it--not too shabby for someone whose eyes aren't even open yet). I paused on my way to putting the box in the garage to fold back the towel to show my mom and he made a run for it, diving out of the box and under the love seat! We all just about had a heart attack, since Ab was standing right there, wondering what I was doing with the box, and the NPR's "Squirrel Cop" story came to mind, but once my mom had taken the dog upstairs, my dad and I lifted the love seat and snatched the little rodent and put the lid on! I put the box on a heating pad, as recommended, and then we all worried about him all night. One of the websites said that a mother squirrel will not retrieve a baby that she's lost just before night falls, but will check again in the morning, so my dad set an alarm to get up first thing to put the baby--nestled in the box with the lid off--back where we found it. By the time we got up, it was still there, and while a squirrel did come down in the yard, it didn't venture near the patio. I moved the box out closer to the big Douglas-fir by the back fence which is the main squirrel apartment around here, but no one claimed baby. So after breakfast I called the wildlife center at PAWS and they said they'd take him, no problem. Here's a picture of the wee one:



We were very surprised and delighted to be informed by the worker at the center that what we had was not just a baby squirrel, but a baby FLYING squirrel! We didn't even know we HAD flying squirrels around here. They're nocturnal, so I suppose that's why. But how cool is that? I guess it looked like a little bat when the worker transfered it out of the box we brought it in. The baby had seemed like it had some very pretty markings and some loose skin, but we'd never seen a baby squirrel before, so assumed it was par for the course. I pulled up some pictures of adult flying squirrels and you can instantly see the similarities in the markings.



So THAT was exciting and we're all very relieved that it had a happy ending, that we didn't accidentally kill the baby and that it will get to grow up, and to learn that we have flying squirrels in our neighborhood in the process!

I'm also pleased to report that my migraine is much better, just at whisper level today, so that I've been able to handle all the excitement. My parents are off at a Mariners' game this afternoon, so it's nap time for me now. I'm crossing my fingers that the headache is on its way out...

Here's the other picture I took of the baby, the shadows adjusted so that you can see the face. I didn't want to stress or harm him by moving him around just so I could get a better photo op, so this little peek is what you get. I would have liked to gotten a picture with his little ears and tail, though!

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Thursday, August 13th, 2009
7:13 pm - Girls with Guitars
Here's the promised video. See what it took to be in an all-girl teenage rock band in the 90's, from the guitars and effects pedals to the silver lipstick and photo shoots. (Also, you can see what I looked like in junior high when I had longer hair and wore all baggy clothes...)



Unfortunately, all the files for this video were too large to upload except for this tiny cell phone version and it isn't much to look at. If you really want to see it, give me your email and I'll link you to a larger version on my Facebook page.

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Sunday, August 9th, 2009
12:32 pm - Midnight vs. Midday
At 12:30 last night, with my skin aching and a seam of prickling, burning migraine pain running across my brain, I totally had this entry all formulated, but was too drugged to get up and write it. We'll see if I can still muster some of the magic twelve hours later.

Eh, nope. Maybe some other time.

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Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
12:06 pm - Return
I'm back. Had lovely trip right up until my first real migraine in three years struck. Am still recovering. Just picked up the pup from camp. Whirling licking panting tornado of joy! Lots of mouse photos at my aunt's, dinner with cousins, new walker for grandpa, lunch with Guy, a brief appearance at the big family dinner (20 of 'em) despite migraine, etc., etc. Now it's time for another nap!

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Saturday, July 25th, 2009
4:33 pm - Killers!
Check out my seriously wicked new shoes, complete with 4.25" mirrored stiletto heels! Look out world, I'm ready to walk all over you!



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