Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In Which Things go Bump in the Night

As the days grow longer,
The cold grows stronger.
quoted by my Great Grandfather,
Nebraska farmer

Good Grief! I hope all words and no pictures don't make solb too dull an old girl! I've been approaching my problem from different angles. The good news is that, after a lot of routine maintenance and getting rid of all but my Microsoft toolbar, the efficiency of my computer has improved. Cable One has been out here at least three times in the last few months, but Owl, Tigger, Eeyore, and I are still experiencing slow Internet service and I think that's where my problem lies. Something needs to be fixed rather than patched up. I called asking to speak to the head person in dispatch, but she didn't return my call. I will try again today to discuss the on going problem with her. She can send a patch-it-up-again tech or a track-down-the problem-and-fix-it tech. She has a lot of power.

Like all Arizonians, I've been thrilled to have actual precipitation! But I seem to be getting maudlin with old age as I keep thinking about all the poor creatures trying to stay alive in the bitter cold.
Although there are a number of better roosting places here, including some old horse stalls, the peacock insists on sleeping totally exposed on the roof peak of the little guest house/empty rental in back. By dawn's early light, we peer out the kitchen window to see him painted frost white or encased in ice, enduring still.

The other night, we were side by side in our recliners watching a DVD of the set-in-Scotland series Hamish Macbeth (could any of us, when young ever imagine becoming such stereotypes?) , when it sounded as though someone was repeatedly trying to force open the side door of the house. E. put a finger to his lips and quietly padded into the bedroom returning with his pistol. In the near half century I've known him that's the first time I've ever seen him do that.
I followed close on his heels as he went to the door, flipped on the outside light, and peered out. Nobody. He opened the door and there were about five Javelina milling about under the bird feeder picking up spilled seed and knocking over nearby pots of plants.
We keep seed in one of those big plastic containers that doubles as a bench and I think they must have been rooting at that, banging it against the house. They looked pathetically hungry and sad, and it took a lot of will power on my part not to put food out for them. I know that feeding them now would bring them back in the summer to munch my tomatoes and flowers, so I resolutely turned my back on them, but still....
Ahh..right now, through my window, I see blue skies thinly hazed by swirling pinkish clouds. A new day's promise...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

“The same day I saw my first horror camp, I visited every nook and cranny. I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.”

- General Dwight D. Eisenhower

International Holocaust
Remembrance Day.
Through the years, I've read many accounts, about the systematic extermination of six million men, women, and children. One story that has always haunted me was the remembrance of a survivor who was hiding in the woods watching helplessly as Nazi soldiers exterminated people who were lined up alongside a deep pit. They were brought in by truck and unloaded, ordered to line up by their future grave and then shot so the bodies would fall into it. The man could do nothing to save them. He recounted the story of several people, obviously a family, man and wife, several children, along with an older man, obviously the Grandfather, who was holding a very young child.
As they where shoved into place, knowing full well their fate, the Grandfather kept speaking to the the little girl in a happy voice, and holding her so she looked directly into his smiling face, in an attempt to lull away any fear she was experiencing. This story has always haunted me and will always strike me as an uplifting example of the kindness and courage that is repeatedly demonstrated by ordinary people. I read this as a personal account in Readers Digest a very long time ago, so I can't reference it.
I realize that reviewing atrocity is never appealing, but time is passing and already denial that these terrible things ever happened is growing with each generation as it is distanced by time from well documented history. We don't like to think it could ever happen again, but going to The Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project , reading and scrolling through the pictures is a reminder that it did happen once...

Friday, January 25, 2008


I still can't get photos to upload. Yesterday I tried it on E's computer, got one to upload, and that was it. Nevertheless, I'm beginning to think my computer may have something to do with it all.

I popped in on Walking Prescott where Granny J has posted some wonderful Raven pictures, so I'm going to piggy-back on her pictures and tell you my Raven story.

When we first moved here, we could see a Raven's nest on the very-top of a huge pine tree behind what is now my Daughter Kanga's house, next door. The birds nested there for several years and we enjoyed watching them through binoculars as they raised their young.

This house is built on two levels. The upper floor being on street level in front and downstairs in the back, it's a walk out basement. One day, I was outside on the upper level when a Raven winged across the back at eye my level and close enough for me to identify the object in it's beak as a hamburger, bun and all. He flew in a straight line, then rose to deliver this tidbit to the nest. I was pretty much amazed at the time, partly because he could get his beak around a hamburger and partly because it was a hamburger, but now I know that different Ravens have different dumpsters staked out all over town. I think this must have been the Burger King Raven.

It was after this incident that my job took me out to drive thhrough deserted streets on a dawning Sunday morning. I was driving past the local High School just as a McDonald's bag dropped from the sky to land on the pavement in front of the car. Automatically, I swerved to avoid hitting it, thinking of course that, "Now that's pretty strange!"

The mystery was solved when, a short time later I retraced my route and saw several Ravens working on the bag. I thought of the way crows and other birds drop shell fish on rocks to break the shells open so they can get at the meat inside. I'm convinced the Ravens were trying that tactic to get into the contents of the bag.

It was a couple of years later when I sat in the car in the shade of some Cottonwood trees, in the High School parking lot waiting to pick up my Grandson. I had the three little girls with me, and when we'd exhausted the delights of BINGO and a few word games, I told them about the McDonald's bag Ravens and ventured the opinion that they must have been the McDonald's dumpster Ravens.

A few minutes later, we opted for some leg stretching. I stepped from the car, and hearing throaty Raven voices above me looked up into the trees. There were seven or eight Ravens, hopping about in the tree branches, and they were surrounded by McDonald's bags that had become trapped in the tree branches!

Now I'm wondering if they're still there. I'll let you know.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pictureless Tuesday..

Yesterday, I got my photo to upload. "OK, " I said happily to E., "I'm back in business!"
Then I noticed that I'd cropped the photo in a manner that displeased me, so I deleted it and gave it a proper cropping.
It refused to upload again! I'm still having no success.
Now here's the thing... I'm having some trouble sending email as well. It piles up in my outbox because, says windows, it can't contact the server. At some point, I try to send it and it all actually goes. Hmmmm could this be a Cable One problem and not a blogger or One Acre Wood Problem?

Enough whining! I'm off to take Owl to the Y! I'll keep working on it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Spot of Bother

I can't get Blogger to upload any photos! This is annoying in the extreme! It told me that I needed to allow pop ups so I've done that, but to no avail. Any helpful hints out there? I'm officially calling on Geeky-Granny and anyone else who can help me here

I haven't had time to post or do much reading lately, as my renter Tigger's Mom, the Scrabble Maven is here on her annual visit. We've been playing a marathon of games that I like to refer to as Scrabble Camp, and I do believe my game's improving! I've even won a few times, but TSM is known for throwing down a seven letter word or two just as your confidence builds.

I had a cute picture to upload of The Scrabble Maven and Tigger, but it will have to wait until my problem's solved. I tried yesterday, so I'm afraid it isn't going away by itself!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kiddie Pictures

I intended to post the last of my coming to Prescott story today, but have misplaced some of the pictures. Bother! That was typically Pooish of me! While I search them out, I hope you like these kiddie pictures as much as I do. Here they are folks... the future and hope of the free world, bless 'em!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Settling in Prescott

When my Mom brought me to Prescott, Arizona in the summer of 1947, the little town, then population 6,000, already had a reputation for clean air and had become a mecca for those with respiratory disease. Like the rest of the country, Prescott was still in the grip of post WWII euphoria, and all things seemed possible.

I hadn't wanted to move, preferring the stability of my Grandparents home in Nebraska. I was finally persuaded to a more positive attitude when a map of Prescott and the surrounding area showed a place called Skull Valley just a hop and skip away. I was, as most children of that era were, a huge fan of western movies and radio programs. I pictured a wide valley strewn with skulls and myself accumulating a huge collection that would include cowboys and Indians as well as cattle, horses and an assortment of wild critters. Well, that part was a disappointment, but the breathing made up for it.

Now this is a little embarrassing, at nine years of age, I should have made some mental note that my Mom's sister, my Aunt Doris, accompanied us on the train journey from Nebraska, but when I asked my Mom when she joined us here, she laughed and said that Doris had been with us all along. I suppose I had my nose in a book and my mind occupied by daydreams as usual.

We found Prescott to be a pretty town with wide streets, set around a Court House square where bands played in the gazebo on special occasions. The statue of Captain William, "Bucky" O'Neil who rode with Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders is still prominently displayed in front of the Court House.

This is pretty much the way Prescott looked the day we arrived

This is the way it had looked in an earlier time, and I include this photo because it's fun to see Prescott not only with horses and wagons on the street, but streetcars as well..
The little building with the pinkish awning in the lower left corner was a Pigley Wigley Market for many years and it was there that we bought groceries in the early days.

At first the sisters rented a little house, but after pooling their resources and borrowing some money from a brother, they went house hunting. They looked at what was available, a series of nice little houses on tidy little lots. Nothing suited them. Finally the Realtor said he'd exhausted the possibilities in their price range.
"I do have one more I can show you," he said, "but I can tell you right now, you won't like it."
It was August in Prescott in the middle of the rainy season, now called the Monsoon season. (This amuses me because now days there is so much less rain and the word monsoon somehow conjures up a mental image of a tropical downpour.)
The Realtor parked in front of a tiny white shack during a typical afternoon rainstorm, meaning the sky had opened and water was falling in buckets while lightening split the air and the earth shook from thunder. Water had turned the road into a muddy stream that rushed down, past the cabin, to join the churning waters of Butte Creek less than half a block down the road.
A huge pile of granite boulders studded by an occasional tall Ponderosa pine, rose behind the little dwelling and the closer lightening strikes sparked blue on the rock.
What I remember best is my Auntie Doris joyfully crying out, "This is it! This is the one!"
The Realtor was completely nonplussed!
The adults in my life, somewhat incredulously to my nine year old mind, continued to extol the virtues of this wonderful place even after they had been inside to see the one huge room with various pots and buckets set about to catch the leaks pouring through the roof, the step down "kitchen" with the dirt floor, the added on "bedroom" that was the length of the big room, about twenty feet, and about eight feet wide. And most significantly, what wasn't there at all...a bathroom!
Thus, the thirty-something sisters who were totally lacking in carpentry skills or experience, embarked on a period of extensive remodeling, while I learned to climb and jump from boulder to boulder trying to imitate a mountain goat. It was a good time. Next time I'll post pictures of the remodel.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Bird Feeder

I've been inspired by Old Man Lincoln at My Birds blog and by Olivia who has been posting some wonderful pictures, information, and quotes about the birds at her feeder in Germany, to post some pictures of some of the birds that come in to my feeder.
We've always fed the birds with cylinder shaped feeders at the top of tall posts very close to a huge old cypress tree. The birds like this, because they can fly into the protection of the tree to check everything out for safety before feeding.
One day, I remarked to Eeyore that I longed for a flat bottomed feeder closer to the living room window, so we could better observe the birds, and that maybe I could get some photos through the window. Down to his basement workshop he went, and before long, appeared with a flat bottomed feeder made from scrap wood, a piece of old plastic window screen and some chain. He hung it from a pole right outside the living room window, we put an assortment of seed, sunflower seed, peanuts, and Niger into it and it's been a circus ever since. The only problem is that the seed gets wet on the rainy and snowy days, so the next project may be some kind of roof. Wet or not, they still flock to it all though the other feeders are filled and they could choose those. We clean and fill it every day so any seed that escapes a hungry bird, (fat chance) won't spoil or sour.

I've been lurking behind the living room curtain trying to catch some pictures, and sometimes the birds see me and fly away in a flurry of fear, but they're soon back. Some see me and just go back to eating, like this little female finch. Note, I don't say what kind of female finch because I'm not sure at the moment.. they look very much alike. I thinnnnnk this is a female purple finch.

This little darling falls into the category of Dark Eyed Junco.

Here, a Spotted Towhee faces off with a female White Crowned Sparrow, while a Junco looks on. I simply can't get a good picture of the Towhee. He never stops moving.

The Purple Finch is a fairly recent visitor and here a trio of males seem to be enjoying the feast.

And who says birds are so different from people? Even when a bird has the feeder to itself, it can't resist checking out what's going on underneath. Could the birds picking up spilled seed on the ground be getting something better?

Is the grass greener down there? Or the seed tastier, as the case may be. Is this the same instinctual question that drove our ancestors to embark on tiny ships on fearsome seas or covered wagons headed into hostile territory looking for something better?
Or is my imagination running wild yet again?
I just got back from Changes in the Wind and laughed hard at her Cockatoo video posted on the tenth of January. If you have a minute and want to see an amazing bird, this is the place!
The kids are coming in today... what a good excuse to bake some cookies on this chilly morning!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On a Lighter Note..

This one's especially for Granny J, and don't miss Walking Prescott today! You'll never guess what she found on her roof!) Mary Beth, and Church Lady's son.. And if you're a cat lover, it's absolutely for you too:)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A Place for Every Species

To thee, thou Wedding-Guest !
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small ;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1772–1834

In my last post, I asked a question about the reinstatement of wolves into the Western United States. From the thoughtful answers, I think we all feel about the same. We love the wildness of wolves and feel there should be a place for them. But we don't know exactly how it will work, what with our own species ever expanding.

I've come to distrust the charitable organizations that purport to support wild creatures such as the wolf, then spend much of their budget on administration and much of it on lawyers who sue the forest service for this and that. I read that the Forest Service spends forty to fifty percent of its budget defending lawsuits. Who wins besides the lawyers?

I'd been happily sending donations off to these groups and feeling pretty virtuous about it too, until we had a forest fire here a few years ago. Many pine trees were left blackened and dead, but standing. In that state, they could only become tinder dry and hazardous, but once cut, could serve a purpose, if only as fire wood. Nevertheless, some anti-logging group based in Florida filed a suit to prevent the removal of the dead trees. It was short lived, and the removal progressed. But I'm sure it cost the Forest Service dollars that could have been better spent taking care of the forest and the creatures therein. Now there's a new issue and expense for the National Parks and National Forest Services to deal with. The big scale growing of marijuana by drug cartels!

Oh dear...........this post ran away from me! As you may guess by the illustrations, I was going to speak to the issue of animals and their rightful place among us. I got carried away by the perplexities of Forest care and truthfully, no one has ever got that right. From the moment Teddy Roosevelt wrote National Parks into existence, well meaning managers have made one mistake after another. We simply can't replace Mother Nature!

Noah Did His Best to save them all!

It must have been a great relief when the waters receded..

Thanks for bearing with me! Next time I'll try to stay on track.....

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fishing Wolf

Jan at Vinegar and Honey has posted the 'Bill of No Rights.' I think every American should read it and confirm in his or her own mind just what they expect and don't expect of We The People.

The bad news is that I never did find that photo! Was it a figment of my imagination? I don't know.. The good news is that I'm much further along in organizing all the wonderful old photos that my Mom and my cousins have given me lately.

My Mom has a couple of appointments today, and she's volunteered to take her three youngest Granddaughters and me to lunch. The girls have been here quite a bit during this holiday from school. They love to beat me at games..the word game Probe...Monotony...Do You Know as Much as a Fifth Grader? etc. We build a fire and sit around the old walnut table that belonged to my Great grandparents, their Great, great, great, Grandparents. They see some of the old pictures and listen to some old stories and grin like Cheshire cats when they beat me.

Here are some pictures that came to me via email. This is probably Alaska, but I guess it could be Yellowstone.. I looked for them on the web fearing I was infringing on someone's copyright, but couldn't find them. This Internet business is wonderful indeed.

I think I'll take a note from Church Lady and ask you a question..

How do you feel about the reintroduction of wolves the western United states?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Peacock update

I've been trying to get a photo of the peacock, now known as Raja, but he remains elusive! This picture is of a peacock just like him although Raja's tail is not quite that long. It has grown a good deal since he arrived in full molt, and I think it should be this long in a month or so.

He seemed more trusting for awhile and was coming up with the chickens when I went out to throw special treats, but something has frightened him back to his old elusive/reclusive ways.
He's great fun to watch though. About four-thirty in the afternoon, he strolls casually up to the back and stands carefully looking about. When he feels unobserved, and oblivious to us watching from the window, he lifts his wings and in a graceful sort of fly/hop lands on the crest of the little house in back. He spends about half an hour pacing about the roof craning his neck up and eying the pine trees that are close, but not close enough... Sometimes he settles down on the ridge of the roof, tucks his head under his wing, and sleeps the night away but sometimes he does another fly/hop up to our roof where he beds down at the highest point he can find.

I think he likes it here because it's as close to wild as he can be and still have peacock food and fresh water provided for him. E. has also found him perched in an old stall, out of the wind on a blustery day. He just doesn't trust it for the night..well, I have heard coyotes lately.

So much for resolutions..

I got up early yesterday intending to post. I resolved to post every day, right? Right....
Our Cable One service was out.
Remembering that my most important resolution was to remain positive, I decided to write overdue snail-mail-letters.

Firstly, I thought I'd write to my Uncle, my Mom's older brother who sent us a lovely Figi parcel of smoked turkey and ham. An overdue thank-you to a lovely man. Remembering that my Mom had mentioned he was reminiscing about the pet pig he'd had as a boy, I thought of a picture of him with that pig. I started looking...

I'm still looking.... I think he'd be very pleased to see that photo.. I know it's there somewhere in the boxes and envelopes and zip-lock sorta-sorted packages. It's there and I will find it.....gotta organize those pictures!