Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Colds, Flu and Other Crud

This Winter I'm determined not to succumb to the prevailing Afflictions that go around. It's been difficult, and I've had some near misses. My secret to preventing these various ailments is available at your local WalMart! I tried something called ColdMD. It claims to increase your immune system resistance and speed recovery if you become ill. So far (knock on wood) it's worked for me. In addition, I bought Esberitox, a supercharged echinacea that you chew. Dr. Schulze (www.herbdoc.com) has some great remedies. What they lack in taste, they make up for in results. None of these are cheap, but compared to a visit to the doctor, an Rx, and a few days off work, they are not that expensive.

Critter Report

My menagerie has forced me to change my feeding habits. The squirrels broke my last feeder, so I finally bought one of the kind that closes when the squirrel gets on it. His weight causes little windows to descend over the seed ports. Pretty ingenious! It is a large feeder with three tubes, so it holds about 10 pounds of seeds. In the beginning, I was refilling it about every third day. Now that it's really cold and word has gotten out that I supplement the "regular" seed with all sorts of exotic seed, I'm filling it every day. Sometimes on the weekend, I fill it morning and afternoon! I'd begun to wonder if the squirrels had figured out some way to eat seeds without tripping the mechanism, but after watching...there are just LOTS of birds wanting to eat! I finally had to put the seed bins in the house. The squirrel had chewed a large hole in the Rubbermaid container and begun helping himself! Eventually I started putting out a plate of seeds and raw peanuts for the squirrels. At first, I thought that the squirrel just came multiple times each day to eat. But one day, I could tell that I'd seen two different squirrels. I was trying to figure out some way to mark them (I wanted to spray paint numbers on their backs!) so I could figure out how much food to leave. Just to be sure, I'd started doubling what I was putting out. Big mistake!!! Suddenly I had squirrel fights daily. They are fast and kind of mean and it was making me mad that one was being territorial and thinking it was all for him (of course, the trouble makers are male in my mind). So I had one of my "conversations" with the squirrels. I told them that if they couldn't get along, I'd quit feeding them. (I did this telepathically--and YES, I wonder about my state of mind!) The remarkable thing is that it worked! They seemed to figure out a feeding schedule. One squirrel will come for about 3-4 minutes, then jump off the deck into the tree and disappear. Within seconds, the next squirrel is there for his allotment of time and food. They are such fun to watch. I'm getting so I can identify them by their behavior (I'd still like little numbers on their backs!). The fence around the deck has a 6" gap between the deck and the first railing. I have a fake raccoon sitting there to hold down the rug. A couple of the squirrels will take their peanut and run next to the raccoon to eat their treat. They look like little garden statues. Another will just crawl into the dish and hold his peanut in his little paws. Yet another faces the sliding window and peers in while he eats. Sometimes he stands up on his back legs and stretches all directions to see into the house. I can be standing on the other side of the glass, but if I hold still--he doesn't mind. However, Loren can be in the next room, and if he coughs or sneezes, the squirrels and the birds take off fast. I haven't seen the chipmunk since autumn, so I don't know if he moved, died or is hibernating.


December was the kind of winter I enjoy. The temperatures were mostly in the 40's (high) and 20's (low). We had lots of sun and I was thinking, "this isn't so hard!" Then came January. It's been 20's (high) and single digit lows. We still have sunshine (thank goodness, or I'd be depressed as well as cold) but more wind. So, the temperature with the windchill is something I can't even think about. Now, the forecast for the beginning of February is for single digit highs!! With wind!!! Who knows what the lows will be. If it's going to be this cold, it doesn't matter if the sun shines or not. I'm depressed. I really don't like the cold. So what am I doing in Wisconsin? I keep telling myself to remember that we're required to endure Winter to enjoy Spring. Right now it doesn't seem like a great tradeoff, but I'll sing a different tune come April. And how is the weather in YOUR neck of the woods?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cheep, Cheap Cafe

The critters and birds provided lots of entertainment this summer.

We seem to have acquired a juvenile Raccoon. He arrives every night around midnight.
He grunts and woofs and shakes the tree. The first time I thought there must be a family, there was so
much ruckus and limb movement, but it's just one little guy. He perches in the tree, looks at us, and
then proceeds to try to eat anything he can get out of the bird feeders. I hesitate to feed him something
substantial, as I'm not looking to make him a regular. In fact, I want him to GO AWAY!

He came last night while I was sleeping, and broke one feeder and then tore both feeders out of the tree,
onto the ground, scattering seeds everywhere. I hustled down first thing this morning to sweep off the
porch of the woman beneath us. She has been complaining about the amount of seeds.
I explained about the raccoon and the fledgling birds, hoping she would soften. Time will tell.

I had already altered the birdfeeders to discourage our chipmunk. He's a little one, and I think he's
made his home in my woodpile. It's entertaining to set out a pile of black sunflower seeds and watch him
imitate a vacuum as he hoovers a teaspoon full at a time into his cheeks. He'll use his little paw to stuff the
last one in, and away he goes. He'll come back until the pile is gone. Then one day I watched him jump
into the tree and run up the branch to the bird feeder. He was laying in the tray, scooping seeds into his
mouth, and onto the ground. I had to take the trays off. Now the birds have to use the perch, and spill
quite a bit of seed. Oh well. More sweeping to keep the peace I suppose.

Several of the birds that use our feeders reproduced and I'm watching the fledgling blue jays grow
their head feathers. They were so comical looking. Adult size bodies, and tiny little pin heads!
They cry and squak something awful. Mom and Dad have quit tending to their needs, and the pair
of adolescents let me know when the food supply has dwindled.

The Cardinals had two successful nestings. The first batch produced a male and a female. They are both
smaller than the adults, and are just starting to grow their crest. The second batch produced at least one male,
that is just starting to get his red feathers. It took me awhile to figure out what he was, but now I want to coax
him into my hand and make him my pet. Loren tells me to dream on!

As the season begins to change we're getting more of a variety of birds. We had a pair of downy woodpeckers,
that gave the balcony a little rat-a-tat-tat after they ate. It sounded just like Woody Woodpecker.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Inner Growth

This year has been a period of intense inner awareness. I've been lucky to have the BigGuy (Loren) to share it with, as I'm not sure that either of us would have survived the process alone. Just this morning I realized that what our partnership gives to me (to us) is the freedom to pursue my interests, knowing that I have a sounding board, an anchor, and a safety net. It's not something I take lightly. Take for granted, Yes! But when all is said and done, I'm grateful and truly blessed in this marriage.

It would take reams of paper to try to describe what we have discovered, practiced and begun perfecting, and then I'm not sure that most people would understand much less believe it. It's real for me. Some days I wish I'd never happened onto this particular information as it comes with quite a bit of struggle, some physical discomfort, and requires intense concentration to equalize it. As I don't see it going away, we'll keep trying to find more ways to work with it. I'm reminded that when I began learning my meditation, it took me 3 years to own it and make it my own.

Wisconsin has played its part in this process. I was experiencing these energies in California, but it wasn't until we moved to WI with all it's space and relative quiet that I began identifying it. It was BG (BigGuy, pronounced BEEG) that tried changing it, healing it. Because we didn't have many ties in WI, we had the time and energy to take on this "task" and once begun, I think we have to see it through. And now that I've grown accustomed to the Great Outdoors, I can't see living in a big city again.

Writing this, I realize that I truly love Wisconsin. I'm glad I have the chance to experience Nature in this setting. I also realize that I'm getting itchy feet. The Wanderlust is setting in, and I want to see more! Not just more WI, but more USA. My favorite occupation is driving through the countryside on lightly traveled roads. I prefer country roads and scenery to freeways and billboards. Yes, you have to drive slower and stop more often, but that's part of the charm. When we're on a road where the trees nearly meet overhead, or the stream in right next to the road, I feel such a deep contentment. It feeds my soul. Soul Food takes on a whole new meaning!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Simple Abundance

When you begin a new month, skip to the end of that month and read the "Joyful Simplicities" for the month. Otherwise you'll read them at the end of the month and it will be too late to participate.

Beginning Now....

It's said that "Time flies when you're having a good time"--so apparently I'm having a GREAT time, because I'm continually wondering how the year passed so quickly!

Our lives have changed, rearranged and settled into new patterns that closely resemble the old patterns. Sometimes it seems like the same old- same old, but it's actually the new and improved in the same old package. Maybe I should use the old marketing trick of bright, new packaging!

Which would be interesting with my current face. I've begun avoiding mirrors. It's difficult to come to terms with the face that looks back at me. The wrinkles I can deal with. They are my honor badge. (badges!!) I earned these wrinkles living an interesting life!! But 50+ years of gravity cannot be overcome, and I find not only my face, but my body drooping in ways that I'd previously ascribed to OLD people! Guess that's me! I find myself wishing that I'd begun standing on my head for a few hours every day of my life!

They say "You're only as old as you feel" and I suppose it's true. Problem is, I began describing myself as having an OLD soul some time ago. At the time, it seemed profound. Now I wonder if it only hastened the process of the inner reflecting the outer. Hey! Makes sense to me. So, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Actually, the freedom that has come with an aging body has been tremendous. I'd not realized how much mental chatter and effort I was putting into appearances. Suddenly I've accepted myself as I am (which was harder than it sounds) and my attitude is take me or leave me--it's all the same to me. After spending a lifetime of refusing to leave the house without my hair arranged, some color on my face and matching clothes, I've done a complete 180. One day I found myself at the grocery store with no face paint, bed head and clothes that not only didn't match, they actually clashed! After I finished laughing at my reflection in the store door, I realized It was one of my finer moments!!

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