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We live in an older home, and are aware that it is certainly not mouse-proof.

Every once in a while a pioneering mouse finds its way inside.  Sometimes it goes back outside and invites its relatives to join it in colonizing the place.  This seems to have been the case this summer.

Jim opened up the liquor closet a few weeks ago and surprised a mouse  squatting in the middle of the shelf.   What it thought it was going to do with all that scotch, gin, bourbon and assorted liqueurs is beyond me.   Maybe there was going to be a big party upstairs.

That particular mouse did not get to attend the putative festivities, since Jim immediately set one of the mouse traps, baiting it with some fine cheddar cheese.   The mouse departed this mortal plane later that night.   It was evident that there was probably another mouse in the house though, as the remainder of the cheese was gone when we checked the trap in the morning.

We re-set the trap and waited.   Apparently eating the remainder of the cheese with its dead relative close by was creepy enough that the mouse that did the deed was not anxious to return to the scene.   At any rate, the cheese got stale and no further mice were caught.  Hopeful, we decided that maybe we were wrong, and there weren’t any more mice.  Or that they had left for more salubrious climates.

Alas, it was not so.  A few days later, Jim opened one of the cooking utensil drawers and surprised another mouse, who squatted amidst the barbecue skewers, sieves, and steamer baskets looking up at Jim in great consternation.   Jim was startled as well, and slammed  the drawer closed.  The mouse departed, posthaste.

Mallory and Impy were of the opinion that it had taken up residence under the stove and the adjacent cabinet, and kept that area of the house staked out on a regular basis.  The mouse was cagey.

The other night, though, it was thirsty.   It takes a pretty bold mouse to use the cat’s water dish as its source of water, but this mouse was desperate.   We had gone to bed and things were more or less quiet.  The mouse was creeping across the dining room on its way to procure a drink when Jim felt a similar need.  He turned on the light, catching the mouse in the dead middle of the room.    Quickly, it darted under the couch.   We rounded up the cats and set them on the scent, but once again the mouse had managed to escape.  It did not stop once it was safe under the couch, but continued out the other side.  Apparently it found the baseboard heating unit to be a convenient refuge.

Things didn’t progress much on the mouse front for the next few days.   We were not so sanguine as to think it had moved on, though.

Last night it was wandering around up in the attic.    Suddenly, it made a misstep, and fell down inside the framework that supports the whole house fan.   Under the fan is a set of aluminum louvers that is about 30″ square.  When you turn on the giant fan that is in the attic, the suction is such that it pulls the louvers open.   We had been awakened by the thump and subsequent scrambling about of the mouse, arose from our bed and were standing under the fan and pondering what to do.   Mallory was fascinated, as she is fascinated by all the odd things that her people choose to do.

Jim poked the switch, the fan began to turn, and the louvers opened.  The mouse fell through the fan opening and landed on the carpet about six inches in front of Mallory.

Since she is blind, it took her a few seconds to get the scent of mouse and realize what had happened.  The mouse was squatting on the carpet, stunned by its fall from the attic.   I think it hoped that if it just stayed very still maybe no one would notice its dark grey mouse form on the white carpet.

“Ha!”  Mallory finally said, once the musky mouse scent reached her. “It’s raining mice!  What will they think of next?”

Unfortunately, the mouse was faster than she was, and escaped into the back bedroom.   We apprised Impy of the situation.  Once again, a baseboard heater provided refuge.  For the rest of the night Impy had the mouse pinned down.  Every once in a while we would hear the cat crashing into the metal base board heater when the mouse stuck its head out from its refuge, hoping that the coast was clear.

It is unknown at this point whether Impy succeeded in catching the mouse.   Stay tuned for further developments….

I walked the labyrinth this morning.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately; taking new rocks in, mostly.   Several years ago I joined the Labyrinth Society’s 365 Club.   The goal was to walk a labyrinth every day for a year.   I started out strong, but after about a month and a half I stopped doing it.   It seemed that what should have been a meaningful spiritual exercise was becoming rote and routine, and I didn’t really like that result.   So I stopped trying to make the 365 day goal.

Maybe I will try again this year.   I don’t know.

I do know that I have been very inspired by Twylla Alexander’s labyrinth journey.   She made a commitment to walk one labyrinth created by a woman in each of the 50 states.   She recently completed this journey, or at least the first part of it.  The second part is to write a book about it.   Her break in the journey turns out to be a pause to create her own labyrinth.  Many of the women whose labyrinths she walked are going to send her a rock for her labyrinth.

My labyrinth was one of the ones she chose, and her visit was special.   One of the results was to rekindle my relationship with my own labyrinth.   I also decided to refurbish the inner circle.    Today I was taking a couple of new denizens in, and while I was at it I took the rock I had chosen to send her along.   While I was making this pilgrimage, a sort of prose poem came to me.

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About Life’s Journey

Sometimes you walk alone; sometimes you have company.   Both ways are good.

Often there is a path for you to follow; but sometimes you have to create your own.   These both are valuable experiences.

Love is all around you; never forget that it is infinite.

When you are looking for answers, leave no stone unturned.

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You never know what is hidden on the other side of an interesting but not THAT remarkable rock.

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It is good to look at things from more than one angle.

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Always try to finish what you start; but be willing to be interrupted for beauty, friends, and rest.   Procrastination is not always a bad thing.

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Now, I have procrastinated long enough.   I must go dig my potatoes, and work on establishing order in the rain garden.

 

It has been a long slog, but the remodel of the inner circle of the labyrinth is finally complete.

The whole thing started only a week ago even though it feels like it was a month of Sundays.   As you may recall, the weed/grass situation vis-a-vis the special rocks in the inner circle was becoming impossible.   After due consideration, we decided that “something” needed to be done.   Neglecting many other projects, not the least of which is getting the Dragon’s Teeth re-situated and the rain garden weeded, I proceeded to dive headlong into the revamping of the inner circle.

Let no one think that this remodelling project was the only thing accomplished in the interim.   No massages were cancelled, and I kept the laundry done, the dog walked, the cats fed, and the garden watered and tended while all the following was going on.   And in addition, Jim went off to work for his final few days at the Commissary.

So, to recap, I began be removing the rocks from the inner circle.

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As soon as the land was cleared, I began digging a shallow ditch around the circle where all those rocks used to be.

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This process didn’t take nearly as long as I was afraid it would.   I spent a couple of afternoons on this phase.   It was quite ironic that I was already generating dirt that needed a place to live within literally hours of having moved the pile of dirt that was formed from just such projects in the past onto the root cellar.   However, that particular project resulted in some low places that needed fill, and so my labyrinth dirt went towards accomplishing that.

After the ditch was dug and leveled, I put a nice layer of road base into it.  Last Saturday morning, the day after his “last day of work”, Jim went off to Lowe’s and acquired rebar and quickcrete.   The rebar was cut to appropriate sized pieces, wired together, and placed in the ditch.

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It is propped up on nice little flat rocks so that the concrete will flow in and around under the rebar, thus making the resulting pour strong and stable.

Note the little cement mixer.   There is an amusing little story about that:   Lo these many years ago on a fine spring morning, my dear spouse looked at me and said, “I’m going to run some errands.”

This was no big surprise, errands are run on a regular basis around The Havens, but on this occasion he was gone a very long time.   Eventually, he returned home in a state of elevated mood and informed me he needed to take the truck off to pick up something he had purchased.  It seems that as he was driving past the Civic Center he saw a sign for a “Tool Sale” and decided to look in on this seductive event.

What had caught his roving eye was a small cement mixer, for which he promptly forked over a little more than $100.   I need not tell you that I had no concept of why it might be a good idea to have a cement mixer.   In all my childhood experience, whenever cement needed to be mixed, it was done with a shovel in a wheelbarrow, and whatever was good enough for my Daddy was good enough for me.

“No really,”  my spouse informed me with great pleasure and excitement.   “It’ll come in handy, you’ll see!”

It wasn’t that much money, didn’t make it impossible to pay our bills that month and he was so happy about it.   I didn’t give him a hard time.

I have to say that that cement mixer has never seen a year since when it was not used for some project or other.   He sure as heck was right about it coming in handy, and last Saturday was no exception!

We started off the project with 15 bags of quick-crete.   This is basically concrete mix in an 80 pound bag.  We knew we would need more than that, but that was as much weight as Jim cared to put on our little pickup, and we figured after we got that poured we would have a pretty good idea of how much more mix we would need.  Laboriously, Jim moved each bag to the wheelbarrow and moved it to the mixer, then lifted it up and poured it in.   Adding water, the little mixer turned and turned and the concrete mixed up nicely.

Then Jim tilted the mixture and poured it into the trench, while I pushed it around with the hoe so it didn’t over flow.   While he went through that process again, I spent quality time with the trowel smoothing out the pour and agitating it to bring the fines to the top so we would have a nice surface.

Eventually, we got to the part of the circle where the bench and the pile of rocks was.   At that point, it was not possible to tilt the concrete directly into the trench.  We brought our mortar board out and poured it onto that.   From there, it was my job to shovel it into the trench and smooth it while Jim was mixing the next batch.   We came to the end of the 15 bags, and decided it was time to take a break.

We estimated that we had made it about 2/3 of the way around, and so we thought we would need 8 more bags.   Just for insurance, Jim decided to buy 9, figuring that if there was left over we would be putting it into the garden retaining walls in the next few days.  Jim took his break on the drive over to Lowe’s.   I forget what I did while he was gone, but it didn’t involve a lot of sitting around.

He got back with the second load, and we proceeded to pour some more.   It only took another couple of bags to get to the point where we could pour directly into the trench, much to my poor arm’s relief.   (For the record, my forearms are still sore from that little section of shoveling wet concrete.)

Ironically, our estimate was off.  It turned out we needed ONE more bag to complete the pour, and so off Jim went to procure that bag.   As he made the trip, I placed the direction rocks into the wet concrete and generally admired the job.   It seemed obvious in retrospect that we would need 25 bags to complete the job, because clearly it was going to take EXACTLY one ton of concrete to form the inner circle.   In short order, the buyer returned and we finished the job.

After we cleaned up our tools, I documented the finished circle, still wet and curing.

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One of the things I decided about this project was that I was going to document my rocks.   So, the following morning we set up a portrait studio over by the sauna, and I proceeded to transport all the special rocks to that location and shoot them individually, along with a tag that indicated where they were from.  Each photo was also assigned a number.

Here is an example of the result.

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It was during this process that I discovered that my ability to write numbers in order was impaired.   I have one rock whose number is 43.5 because I forgot to list it until I was far down the list.   I also found myself re-numbering rocks when I turned a page and read 117 as 111 and so labeled several rocks with the same identification number.   But I got it straightened out, and it was actually important because when I placed the special rocks back onto the circle I made a map of where they got put.

I am having the pictures printed out, and I will make a notebook with a page for each rock.   The page will list its number along with information on who procured it for me if it was a gift, and any little story that revolves around it.   That way, in the future, other people will be able to understand what is special about each rock without having to extract the information from me personally.   This also guards against any memory losses I might have.

As I was taking rocks off the labyrinth, I was gratified to be able to remember the details on most of them.   Despite that, there were several “Mystery Rocks” that turned up during the process.   I did not toss them out because of that.   My decision was to replace them back in the circle close to the location where they were unearthed.   Maybe in the future the clouds will clear and I will remember where they came from.

Anyway, it took me two days to get them all back into place, what with the mapping project and having to actually do massages for clients in between working on the project.

But this afternoon, I finished the job.   It really looks good.

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Here’s a close up of the North West end of the inner circle.

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Eventually, the concrete will weather a bit and not be so blindingly white.

I have to say that the whole project has made me realize just how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and strangers contributing rocks to the inner circle.   Without them, I wouldn’t have Antarctica, the bottom of Sydney Harbor, the Great Sandy Desert, or the floor of the Arctic Ocean.   I feel very honored indeed.

The only thing left to do is to create the notebook and redraw the map.

But first, I have to go walk Ruby.

 

Going solar

After wanting this for many, many years, we have finally made the step towards putting solar power to work for us here at The Havens.

This is not a commitment for those with no financial resources!   Even though the prices for solar panels have come down radically, and even though we will enjoy a tax rebate on the purchase of them, the initial cost just for the solar panels was right around $6,000.   Just recently the steel angle iron for the frames was purchased, to the tune of about $1300.   Next we have to pay the guy to construct the frames, doing the welding and drilling holes and I honestly don’t know what all else.   Then we have to figure out what kind of inverter we want, and order that.   Also on the way here are the storage batteries, another $2400.

Like all projects, there is an almost infinite regression that goes on in order to have the project done.   With this project, the first thing that had to be done is figure out where we wanted the solar farm to be installed.   Initially we thought we might put in in front of the vineyard.   But the city of Lebanon has a zoning ordinance that states no structures on a property should be closer to the street than the front of the house, although it is possible to get a variance.   Our house is so far from the street that it probably would be possible to get such a variance, but we were not really wanting to get into that sort of legal shenanigans if it wasn’t necessary.

Eventually, we decided that the right place for the solar panels would be out near the barn, just to the east of the root cellar.   Unfortunately there was a big pile of dirt out there which we constructed over the years as we removed dirt from various and sundry path and garden projects.   We called it “dill hill” because for several years we had a huge crop of dill volunteer on it.  So we needed to have the dirt pile moved, and since there was NEVER enough dirt on the root cellar we decided to have it moved there.

I don’t have a “before” before picture, which shows all the piles of wood and stuff that was in the way of accomplishing this feat.  But they had to be moved.  Also, before we put more dirt on the root cellar we had to build up the retaining walls on either side of the door.   We bought the retaining block, and with the help of a college student looking to earn money during the summer, piled them up properly.   He also helped move the wood piles, etc.

Then we had a guy come over here with a Cat skidsteer and move dirt.

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Here you see the beginning of this phase, and dill hill to the right.   The retaining walls in place.  That small pile of wood was not in the way, but I moved it to the wood shed today after the work was all done.

This is how it looks this morning, after the straw mulch was ground, spread and watered in.

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Notice the clump of asiatic lilies on the right side of the root cellar.   There also happens to be a fig over on the right side by the door.   It was purposely buried up to its neck, and hopefully this will not kill it.   Just in case it does, last week I laboriously dug several rooted sections out from its underskirts and heeled them in in the vegetable garden.   I am happy to report that all of the starts have survived and are starting to send up sprouts.   I found it endearing that our equipment operator carefully avoided the clump of lilies during the work, even though we told him that it would be find to crunch them down, that they would come up from their bulbs next year.

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Next to dill hill was a pile of manure that I purchased from a friend who is a dairy farmer several years ago.   I used some of it as mulch after I acquired it, but stopped using it as soon as I realized how infested with pigweed, smartweed, ragweed, lamb’s quarters, and I don’t know how many other undesirables it was.   We had our equipment operator spread that mess of nutritious weed supply thinly over the grass area in the savannah.   Since we mow that lawn, the weeds won’t matter as they will be mowed off before they can get big and make more weeds.   And I’m sure the grass and trees will appreciate the fertilizer.

The manure pile was full of locust, maple, elm and god knows what else kind of tree roots.   Those are now on the burn pile.

Next to the manure pile was a volunteer silver maple which we will cut down in the very near future.   It has to go, as it is in a location that shades the solar panels.   We needed to take it out anyway.   It was sick:  even though it was only about 8 years old, it was already forming a hollow trunk as it rotted out from the center.   We will also be removing volunteer catalpa red cedar trees, both of which are also sources of unwanted shade for the panels.

See what I mean about an infinite regression?

This next shot is documentation of what happens when you let poke grow without disturbing it.   That big branchy leggy mass is the root of a poke plant which lived on dill hill.   For the record, bear in mind that the piece of firewood next to it is 16 inches long.

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Good thing we had a piece of earth moving equipment to get it out of there.  It had roots that were every bit of 10 feet long.   Impressive.

Here is another part of the infinite regression.   This is our barn, picturesque and historical.   Although it looks somewhat the worse for wear on the outside, the inside structure is sound.   It has a certain charm lent to it by the fact that the rafters of the hay loft are oak which was steamed and bent to form the curve of the roof.

However, you can see there are certain problems.   The door on the left leads into a nightmare of left over pots from the garden, hickory that was supposed to become spindles for chairs but is now too dry and hard to use (shortly to join the firewood supply), glass in waiting for greenhouse construction.  It  turns out it is also prime ground hog habitat.   They are busy constructing a ground hog condominium utilizing the cement slab floor of Jim’s shop as a ceiling.   They are about to be evicted, as they neglected to sign a long term lease for use of the barn as a home.

The door to the right leads into Jim’s wood shop.

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This shop is the place where the inverter and the batteries are going to live.   Since batteries don’t really appreciate being frozen, and the inverter (a rather costly piece of electronics)  needs to live in shelter, the shop must be made weather tight and insulated.  Not the least of the necessities is a door that works!

But of course, before any work can be done on the room, all the stuff needs to come out of there.   As you can see, the fact that we have lived here and used the barn for 16 years has resulted in a massive accumulation of items ranging from nails and screws, to bee hive components, to a freezer that has been converted to a lagering cooler and sundry other brewing equipment, to a lathe that weighs enough that it takes two very strong men to move it.   An exhaustive inventory would probably make a fascinating document, but I have no idea what else is in there.   We are about to find out…

Clearing and repairing the barn is part of the infinite regression.

We are stimulating the economy in a big way, and progress towards actually having solar power tied to the grid and filling storage batteries for us to use, thereby eliminating the vast majority of our carbon footprint, is being made.

Stay tuned for future developments….

 

We built the labyrinth in 2001.   I have written several posts about that, but I think the description in this post is probably one of the better ones.

Don’t get me wrong, now, but when I conceived the idea of having a labyrinth on the place I really had no idea what I was getting into!   It really is a lot of work, especially when you realize the maintenance requirements.  If I had it to do over again, I might decide on a different plan of attack.   The outline in rocks was fairly easy to accomplish.   Keeping it so that people can walk the path is not so easy.

We mow the paths on a regular basis using a 21″ manual mower.   This is a size that is not all that popular here in the Midwest, where people tend to have acres of lawn to mow and do it on big John Deere riding lawnmowers.   I imagine if I lived in a city the little mower might be more readily available.   At any rate, we quickly learned that trying to weed eat the rock edges was tedious and ate up weed eater twine in a most impressive way.   So the labyrinth usually looks like this in the summer.

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Okay.   The bride and groom were a one-time phenomenon.

Believe it or not, there is a path in there, and if you start at the beginning you do indeed make it to the center without getting lost.  The labyrinth has many moods.

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So, take a moment to imagine the inner circle with that amount of plant material.  We tried weed eating it exactly once.   The special rocks flew around in a most impressive way and we decided that this was a losing proposition.  So, without some sort of grooming method my much vaunted special rocks would be invisible unless you excavated.  I admit to spending a certain amount of time each summer trimming back the weeds in the inner circle by hand so I can enjoy my trip around the world when I sit in the center of the labyrinth.  For a long time, with a lot of effort, it looked somewhat like this.

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As those of you who frequent the blog know, I have been really busy for the last couple of summers, going on cruises to Alaska, taking classes, meeting my new grandbaby, etc etc ad nauseum.   The inner circle languished un-groomed.

Another “problem” that arose was my aging brain started suffering memory lapses.  When I only had 10 or 15 special rocks, it was easy to remember where they were from.   When the numbers grew, identification began to get more haphazard.   One way I dealt with this was to take a portrait of each special rock as it came on the place, along with an identifying label.

Please don’t even ask me about the keyword project for the photos on the computer.   Finding the portraits of the special rocks is an exercise in determined scanning through the thousands of images I have.   I’m going to get to work on that keyword thing right away, just as soon as I finish scanning the 29,000+ slides my father took that I am supposed to be cataloguing.   All of a sudden, I am so tired I can’t even contemplate doing anything.   I think I will go sit on the couch and mutter for a while.

Okay, back to the subject at hand.  For several years I have been contemplating a change, hoping to figure out a way to keep the weeds from growing up amidst the rocks.   Consultation with the spouse resulted in a decision to completely revamp the inner circle.   I have removed all the rocks, assiduously identifying and labelling every single one of them, except for the complete mysteries which I have NO IDEA where they came from or who gave them to me.   Actually, there are quite a few of those, but not as many as you might think.  Next, I am digging a trench around the circle, which the spouse and our young laborer are going to fill with concrete.   Then I will replace the special rocks on the new concrete pad and then they will remain visible.

So, here is the project in mid-turmoil.   Notice all the little paper labels.

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The trench is 1/6 dug, and I really ought to be out working on that rather than sitting here at the computer.

However, I have a couple of little stories about the cataloguing that I have to tell.   I found the group of rocks that my SIL collected during her choir tour.   Luckily I had actually made portraits of them so I was able to tell Finland from Sweden from Russia.   There was a big mystery about what happened to Estonia, but it turned up over on the East rock later on.   I think it was one that got flung by the dog or a rabbit and when it was discovered out of place on the path while someone was mowing it got placed willy nilly on the circle.   I was glad to see it.

Another rock that disappeared was the cool pebble from Cape Town, which arrived with a fossilized kelp hold fast attached to it.   This weathered loose, so I blithely laid it back on the rock and put the rock on the circle.   During the course of this project, when I found the Cape Town rock’s companion, which came from Victoria Falls, I immediately wondered where the Cape Town rock was, as it was perched where I expected to find it.   I excavated through the weeds and grass, and did not find it.   Very disappointed, I finally gave up on it.  But when I was engaged in removing the base rocks, Cape Town turned up and … SO DID THE HOLD FAST FOSSIL.   Amazing.   Before I replace it on the circle I intend to use some sort of industrial glue to reattach the hold fast.

The third small rock missing in action was the River God’s ear stone.

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Ha!   It also turned up, in the middle of the path a few feet away from it’s proper location, upside down.   I found it when I was raking away the pile of hay that resulted from the scalping the grass got after all the rocks had been moved.

And so, all rocks are present and accounted for.   Now all I have to do is finish the trench.   And before I put the rocks back I am taking a portrait of each and every one of them, with their labels, and I will be printing this out for a notebook, which will include the information about who brought me the rock and where it is located on the inner circle.   Just in case something happens to me and the next proprietor of the labyrinth wants to know.

Man.   I need to get to work.

 

Somehow, to me the title of this post sounds like a fine title for a children’s book.   It would be a sort of “Goodnight Moon,” only about birds.

A few days ago I was gazing out my bathroom window at the Hosta Dell, as I am wont to do.   It is a view that particularly pleases me.  These shots were taken several years ago, but it looks much like this now, although the hostas have really filled in.

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Note the bird house on the left post of the pergola.   That is a wren house, and there is a pair of wrens that has “owned” it for several years.

Part of the reason I like to look out the bathroom window is I can watch and listen to the goings on without having my presence disturb the tenants.   It is quite amusing. The redbud on the other side of the fence is the vantage point where the male wren proclaims his territory.   The pergola and shrubs nearby are great hunting grounds for all sorts of bugs, as is the Hosta Dell itself.

A few days ago I heard all sorts of commotion going on out there, so I took a peek and discovered that the rock ridge has attracted a resident, an Eastern Chipmunk.   Although I have no idea what the sex of this rodent is, I shall refer to it as “he” for the purposes of this story.

Said chipmunk was over near the fence where there are rail road ties that keep the gravel of the rock garden from migrating under the fence and into the front yard.   The ties are pretty old and decrepit, and have lots of rot in the center, places where maple seeds and other edibles tend to collect.   So he was investigating the possibilities for breakfast and suffering through a proper dressing down from the Papa wren, who was bouncing along the top of the fence and generally making his displeasure known in no uncertain terms.

This intrigued me, as I could not see what danger a chipmunk could possibly pose to the wren family.   My amazement grew as I observed the wren take a couple of dive bomb runs at the chipmunk’s head.   He took cover in a crack in the railroad tie, and I settled in to watch the proceedings.   The wren was not deceived by the disappearance of the chipmunk, and sat on the fence proclaiming “You’re not fooling anyone, you know!”  Eventually the chipmunk stuck his head out and began looking for maple seeds, an activity I heartily endorse.  The more he eats the less there will be sprouting in my garden.  I wish he would eat cherry pits.

The wren was having none of it, however, and once again flew down intrepidly and pecked the hapless chipmunk on the head.   He gave up on breakfast and dashed across the rock garden to his front door, pursued by the wren.

For the life of me, I could not understand what was the big deal about the chipmunk.  It wasn’t a cat, or anything I perceived as predatory.   Curious, I repaired to Google and looked up chipmunks.   Suddenly it all became clear.   The chipmunk, eater of seeds and other vegetarian sorts of things, is not so innocent.   It turns out they are opportunistic predators and will eat bird eggs and fledglings if they are convenient.   They have been observed to climb trees to get to nests of eggs.

Suddenly the wren’s attitude did not seem quite so odd.   The wren is a very small bird, and the fledglings would make a tasty morsel for  a hungry chipmunk.

Wrens ARE very small, and one year I observed a blue jay attempting to eat a freshly fledged wrenlet.   It was only because I intervened and liberated the chick from the jaws of death (literally) that his nefarious plan was foiled.

I suppose this post could be entitled “Wrens do not like much of anybody” as pretty much everyone is a potential predator when you are that small.  I have been keeping my eye on the wrens for a couple of weeks.  I have been listening to the chicks get louder and more demanding as the days go by, and I was hoping to catch the fledging.

Today was the magic day:  They fledged this afternoon.   No wonder it was so loud in that bird box.   The proud wren parents managed to raise up FIVE little wrens.   I discovered them in the snowball bush at the far end of the stroll garden (far from where the chipmunk lives!).   All five of them were grouped in a nice organized troop on one branch.  Of course I did not have my camera, so I ran to get it.

Mama wren is no dummy.   She saw me looking at her kids and knew the jig was up.   By the time I got back to the location with the camera, she had started marshaling them in a different direction.   There were still three in the snowball bush, but they were moving away fast, urgently directed towards safety by their mama.   However, I did manage to get a great shot of one of them in the snowball bush.

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One of his siblings had ensconced itself in the clematis.

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Another one was in the beach plum bush, but that picture was very blurry due to the fact that the wind was blowing and the little bird was not still enough for a good shot in the shadows.

But another one of the chicks got very excited by the whole thing and flew over the fence into the forsythia by the pond.   Immediately the parents went ballistic, telling it that it was too far away and it should just get it’s little butt back over to the group.   Obediently, he returned from his foray and perched on the fence, where I got a delightful portrait.   “What are you looking at?”  he seems to be saying.  “My mother told me not to associate with strangers, you should go away.”

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The mother wren seconded his sentiments, emphatically.   So I left them to it.

In other news, the second round of robin babies have hit the ground.   I had a new heuchera to plant, and I had sat the pot out under the pergola to await my attentions while I gave a couple of massages.   When I returned to my chore, I reached down to grab the pot and discovered that while I was gone it had been graced with an inhabitant.  Again, I ran off for the camera.   Can you see it?

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How about now?

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That bird child was the noisiest little bugger!   I scooped him up to put him on the spirea bush while I dealt with transplanting the heuchera, and the screeching that the little bird put up was impressive.

“I’m being molested, kidnapped, help! help! help!”  was the burden of his extremely loud complaints.

I expected his parents to come to his aid, but what I did not expect was every male robin in the yard.  They ALL came over and started yelling at me.   There were at least five male robins, a female (probably the baby’s mother).  Even more surprising was that  a gold finch and both wrens gave me what for right along with the robins.  Avian solidarity, I guess.

I put my head down and planted my plant, and then got the heck out of Dodge while my eyes were still in my head.

Life at The Havens is never dull!

Just this morning I posted this:

Out there is where the pipe vine grows. I planted it as a food supply for the pipevine swallowtail, in the fond hope that one would happen upon it and start a colony, but so far they have not shown up. I may be located too far from their usual habitat. But I love the vine anyway. Right now it is covered with little “dutchmen’s pipes”.

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Well, I am happy to be proved wrong.

I was just out on the other side of the fence transplanting a spiderwort that had volunteered in the Stroll Garden.   While I was out there I took it upon myself to remove an oak tree that was volunteering as well as the ten thousandth mulberry, also volunteering.

I was making my way through the jungle toward the burn pile with my trophies when I noticed a caterpillar dining on the pipevine.    Of course, I had to take a picture so I could identify it.

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Yes children!   That is the larva of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.   There are other places on the vine showing evidence of happy diners.   I could not be more excited.

It just proves my point once again:   IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME.

HUZZAH!

 

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