Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mannerly Hummingbird

This morning, I was cussed out by a hummingbird.

Two weeks ago, I put out a hummingbird feeder.  It was an instant hit.  Within ten minutes, they were feeding.  Later, came the dive-bombing.  Turns out hummingbirds are highly territorial about their food sources and they do not like to share.

Naturally, I put up a second feeder.  The hummingbirds still chase each other and keep the cats amused,  But I’m pretty sure that a lot more hummingbirds are getting fed.

Oftentimes, I like to go outside and sit on the steps and watch the feeders.  But I let the hummingbird feeder get very low.  I was thinking about going inside and making more hummingbird food when one of them flew right in front of my face and stopped mid air.  He looked right at me, not two feet from my face.  Then he started to cuss me out.  I kid you not.  He was scolding me for letting the food supply get so low.  He was angry and he intended that I should know about it.

When hummingbirds swear, it is a little like having Tinkerbell yell at you.  You might not get the exact words, but there is no doubt she is upset.  Hummingbirds use different chirps, chips and squeees to get their points across.  And this one had a strong message: How dare you let this happen?   Get food NOW

Obediently, I turned around and went inside for more food.  After filling the feeder, a strange thing happened.  I sat down on the steps again, enjoying the early morning air and watching everyone eating, when the same little bird again flew right up to my face.  Again he chirped to me, but this time, I could swear he was saying ‘Thank You’.

Nice to have a mannerly hummingbird around.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Bird feeding, then and now

Undersea picture made entirely with polymer clay -- no paint whatsoever.
This Picture has nothing to do with the story,
 I'm just showing off

My mother was into industrial-strength bird feeding.  We had a small patio right out the window from where we ate and Mother turned the entire area into several different feeding stations.   All sorts of critters visited because we lived in the country.  We had raccoons and opossums, chip monks and squirrels, and even the occasional skunk.  But mostly, we had birds.

We had every sort of bird you can imagine.   We had the perennial sparrows, robins, doves, nuthatches, finches, flickers, whippoorwills, and dozens of others.   Once in a while we even had an Owl, although his presence tended to discourage the presence of others.

As a child, I used to go out and sit in the feeding area, often with peanuts or sunflower seeds in my open hands.  I would sit very still waiting for them to realize that I was safe.  I sat there for hours (At least it felt like hours to my child’s mind), just waiting.  And sometimes I would be gifted with a brave chip monk who would cautiously approach the hand.  Often he would test-bite my finger to see if I would pounce him (FYI, chip monk bites do not break the skin but they really HURT!).  I never did.  I would hardly move, so then he would take the peanuts and run away as fast as he could.  An occasional chickadee or sparrow would visit the sunflower seeds, but they did not peck to see if it was safe.  They just grabbed and flew.

(for a funny bird feeder story, check out " Papa and the Squirrels ", Dec 12, ’10) 

Lately it has occurred to me that now that I am pretty much bed-bound, it would be lovely to have a bird feeder.  I would have to move my desk away from the picture window and slide my bed in there, so this may be just another fantasy, but it’s worth thinking about.

In any case, now that I live surrounded by other humans, I would not have the same type of visitors that decorate my childhood memories.  We have no squirrels or chip monks here, certainly no opossums or skunks.   What we do have is stray dogs and cats (the economy, y’know).  And birds.  We still have birds.

I am hesitant to put out bird feeders because I suspect they would very quickly become cat feeders.  We do have a thriving and healthy colony of Ferrell cats.  And they also get hungry.  (Yes, I am thinking of joining the trap, neuter and release program)

About two weeks ago, I was looking through some of my boxes, when I came across a hummingbird feeder.  Now, I have never had any luck with hummingbird feeders, but I have noticed some hummingbirds here as they buzz about my blooming tree.  So I figured, What the Heck?

I looked up what to feed hummingbirds and how to make it (easy, peasy) and then did it.  I cleaned up the feeder, put in the hummingbird food and went outside to find a place to hang up the feeder where the cats would not be able to reach.  I found the perfect place, hanging from an awning, right outside my window.

It took them almost ten minutes to find the feeder.  These beautiful aerial acrobats, dancing in front of my window.  Breath-taking.  I was entranced.
But the cats kept coming around.  No the hummingbirds were just fine, the cats couldn’t reach them.  
The cats, however would look longingly at my home, at the gate.  Some time ago, I put out a dish and added a dripper to it so the animals could get water (I live in high desert country, so it gets warmish here).  The cats found the water and used it.  So I decided to add a little cat food (dry cat food.  I am cheap – and poor).  That was less than a week ago and already I can identify at least three cats that come on a regular basis.

So now I have a feeding area, a little different than my Mother’s, but the idea is the same.  I feed them and in return, I get to watch them.

A fair trade.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Saga Update 7/22/13

I have spent a fair amount of my downtime this week fantasizing about different ways to arrange this room. For those of you who come in late, I now live in a single room, and share the bathroom, kitchen and laundry with my roommate.   The Saga is about me trying to get this one room looking good and feeling comfortable.

As anyone who has ever known me IRL, you know that I live with boxes.  Boxes of books.  Boxes of art supplies.  Boxes of finished art that I don’t know what to do with.  And then there are boxes of just plain Stuff.  Recently, I counted over 100 boxes that I need to look into and decide what to do with them.

Now, boxes do not add to my comfort level.  In fact they stress me out.   They are not beautiful and are less than useful – except that they hold my stuff.  But I have too much stuff.  I don’t need all this stuff.

Recently, I have been exploring the tiny house movement ( It’s about living green.   It’s about leaving a rather small footprint on the Earth.  It’s about saving money and not having to work many, many hours at a job just to pay the mortgage.  It’s about freedom from materialism.   It’s about not having to spend a lot of time and money cleaning and taking care of the place where you live.   It’s about being in charge of your own life and not having things (and paying for them) rule you.

Sounds great, yes?  Well easier said than done.  Some of those folks in the Tiny House Movement live in homes that are less than 100 square feet!   Yup, the entire home.  100 square feet.  In fact, 84 square feet seems to be a very popular size for a Tiny Home.    Me?  I have around 280 square feet in my room, so I ought to be able to do something cool with it.  And remember, for me, that does Not include the Bathroom, kitchen or laundry.

But although I want a small place (and a lot less stuff), I do like to rearrange things – often.  Since AD (after disability), I have had to cut way back on lots of things I used to do.  Like rearranging everything.  I still want to be able to do it, but not quite as often, perhaps.  Because I like to re-arrange things, built-ins are problematic.  And built-ins are the lifeblood of the tiny house movement.

Meantime, I have too much stuff to even move around in here, much less re-arrange.  So my Saga is an on-going struggle to pare down belongings to just what I need and love. 

Wish me luck.

Friday, July 19, 2013

When I was a child, I had no real idea of what I wanted to do with my life.  I had no plans to become a movie star or a great musician.  I enjoyed acting at the local theater, but didn't think I would like the way it worked when you were trying to get paid for it.

I did know one thing that, for sure, I wanted in my life: a screen door.

I wanted an old fashioned screen door, the one with the spring on it, so that it BANGed loudly and drove me crazy with all the kids and animals coming and going at will.

In one way, I never got my wish.  I made choices that meant no kids in my life (except for foster kids) and after collage, I never again lived in the country (sadness), so no chickens or pigs or goats in my life.

Now, I am old (older than I ever thought possible when I was a child) and I am disabled enough so that I spend most of my life in bed.   But much to my surprise, I kinda have finally gotten my wish.

Murray guarding Paulie Paul(who was recovering from an injury)

I live in one room in a mobile home that has a large front porch and a fenced in yard.  I also live with three cats and four dogs.  There is no way I could constantly be getting up to let them out and in again, so I installed a 'pet door' in the wall, going out to the porch.

Fred, looking expectant.
And just now, I realized that the pet door bangs, just a little, whenever a dog or cat comes or goes.  And somehow I find that very comforting, to be the one they come home to, the one who they cuddle with and know they are safe with.  I cherish their trust.  And I am a part of their lives, voluntarily on both sides.   I am Blessed with someone to love.

The door just Banged again.

 Fred enjoying the dog park.

I really want to thank whoever it is that invented the pet door.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Once is not enough

I had the strangest dream the other night.  I dreamed that Jesus planned a break out from Heaven.

I don’t remember why or who was with Him, though there were multitudes of Angels by His side.  I remember watching as the walls of Heaven fell, and the light from Heaven streamed out and went with them as the escapees left.

When I awoke, I started thinking about that whole idea.   Why would Jesus want to leave Heaven?  If He did, would He have to break out or would He just be able to walk out the gates?

So I came up with a scenario:

Jesus was sitting up in Heaven, looking down at humankind.  Humans were trying to live good lives, but things were not going well.  There was war, but no peacemakers.   There was famine, but no one coming to their aid.  There was sickness and suffering, but no one to hold a weakened hand or cool a fevered brow.    Humans were hurting one another, hurting other animals, plants and even the planet itself.

Jesus was horrified.   Whatever happened to Love?  Whatever happened to Forgiveness?  Whatever happened to all the love and joy that each human was born with?  Jesus wondered if maybe He should return to earth one more time.  

And Jesus cried out to His Father.

God the Father heard Jesus and was pained.  Once was enough!  God was simply not ready to see Jesus die on the cross again.  Too hurtful.

But, Jesus said, what if the cross was not involved? 

No, no, cried God, Humans will always persecute the righteous!  Always, they will be martyred!

I really don’t agree, said Jesus.  You see, what shows the Way is not pain, but Joy.  What if this time, Humans learn that Children of God can be identified by their Love, by their Peace, by the way in which they treat others and themselves?

I forbid it!  Cried God!  I cannot take the chance!

So Jesus went back to watching earth for a while.  But Jesus simply could not handle the pain humankind was causing itself, so He called to His followers in heaven.  Together, they prayed for the wisdom, to know what was the right thing to do.

And the answer came, in a still small voice:

One visit to Earth was obviously not enough.  But even if He went back to Earth again, it would not be enough.  The world had become too complex and large.     
Then Jesus understood.

The last time he came to earth, he had suffered greatly and folks remembered that.  In fact, many had come to believe that the way to Heaven was through suffering.  But they missed the true message altogether.  

What if, instead of martyrs, what was needed were those who would express joy and laughter and fairness?  What if instead of one individual, there were angels everywhere, in every country, in every time, in every family, to show the way?

 What was needed was to flood the earth with wise, caring souls.  Not just one life, or two, but a throng, so that each person would know at least one angel, maybe more.

Jesus asked the angels for volunteers to go back and help humans learn to be loving and caring.   Thousands signed up, willing to take the long path to earth.

And Again Jesus cried to His Father. 

Father, I beg of you, let us go unto the earth and spread your love.

God sighed and then looked at the great multitude of Angels at the side of Jesus.  They cannot return to earth unless they no longer remember that they are Angels, God said, Their mission must be accomplished because of their own free will, not merely because you wish it.  

Then God said, the gates of Heaven are not wide enough to let all of you through, you will have to break down the walls.

Joyfully, Jesus and the Angels broke through the Walls of Heaven to give the earth a hundred thousand enlightened souls to show the way.  As they flew off, Jesus turned and cried to the Father “Father, Bless us and may we Bring you the Glory of Human souls full of love and peace and Joy.

And as Jesus left, God looked on in trepidation,  but because of His Great Love for Jesus and all Humankind,  God sent the Light of Heaven to accompany all the Brave Souls who would return to earth.

And so it is, that a hundred thousand brave souls came to earth that we might all entertain Angels unaware. 

We may even be one of those Angels.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Today I get to teach. Twice a week, I leave my house (if I am well enough) and today is one of those days, because I get to teach at the local Art Center. I have a small class of 2, both adults. And I get to share my love of polymer with them. I do love teaching. I love the look on people’s faces when they see what they can do. I love the moment when they see what they have created. I love the excitement that comes from these moments. Plus (I am fortunate), I only teach things I personally am excited about: polymer, Zentangles and Personal Spiritual Explorations (I was a minister, after all) A long time ago, someone asked me “what are three most important jobs in the world?” For me, the answers were easy: 1) Being a reasonably good parent. (This is self explanatory. No one is a perfect parent, but most of us try our best) 2) Being a teacher (knowledge needs to be passed on to the next generation, or else we, as a species will stagnate and die) 3) Garbage collection (I was in NYC when they had the big garbage strike.) So, I wonder, what would be the next three most important jobs in the world? ortant Jobs.

Today I get to teach.

Twice a week, I leave my house (if I am well enough) and today is one of those days, because I get to teach at the local Art Center.  I have a small class of 2, both adults.  And I get to share my love of polymer with them.

I do love teaching.  I love the look on people’s faces when they see what they can do.  I love the moment when they see what they have created.  I love the excitement that comes from these moments.  Plus (I am fortunate),  I only teach things I personally am excited about: polymer, Zentangles and Personal Spiritual Explorations (I was a minister, after all)

A long time ago, someone asked me “what are three most important jobs in the world?”  For me, the answers were easy:

1)    Being a reasonably good parent.  (This is self explanatory.  No one is a perfect parent, but most of us try our best)
2)   Being a teacher (knowledge needs to be passed on to the next generation, or else we, as a species will stagnate and die)
3)   Garbage collection  (I was in NYC when they had the big garbage strike.)

So, I wonder, what would be the next three most important jobs in the world?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Almost every morning I awaken to the sound of purring in my ear and the feel of several small warm bodies cuddling up next to me.  With my eyes still closed, I think a heartfelt “Thank you” to whatever Powers That Be.  I cannot even imagine living without animals to love.  

I tried it once.  When I left my ex, he kept the animals.  I had my new apartment all to myself.  It was wonderful!   No animals to clean up after, no one to feed and water, no fur on my clothes, no cat toys or dog chews littering the floors. 

I lasted almost 3 weeks.

(If you want to read the story of how I began acquiring my new family, read the March posting, 2011 of this blog.)  Franklin was the first.  He still has a special hold on my heart.  As I type this, he is peacefully snoring on my quilt.  I never knew that cats snored, until Franklin.  My other cats and dogs each have their own personalities, likes and dislikes.  We each have our quirks, but we tend to all get along pretty well.

Although I love telling stories about my animals, what I am thinking of just now is what they give us.

Like most (if not all) humans, I need Love in my life.  I need to have someone other than myself to think about, to care about.   My definition of Hell is when you have all these gifts, all this love to give – and no one wants it.   That is one reason why human beings are social animals.  We need someone to give to.   And that is a Good Thing.  Love is not something to be restricted to just our own species.  With animals, caring is very pure: they do not care if you have money or status.  They judge solely on how we treat them, personally.  

This is very liberating – and somewhat disconcerting.  If I were to win an Oscar, for instance, my dog would not care, my cat would not be impressed.  But if I were to sit down and just pay attention to them, to play or pet or just talk, they would be delighted.
For critters, everything  is personal.  Humans try to distance themselves and pretend that certain things don’t matter or don’t pertain to them.  The famous gangster-movie phrase “It’s just business” has no meaning to any animal – nor should it.  Only very foolish humans will accept that excuse, because it is all personal.  Life is personal.   Animals know this and we can learn from them.

Someone once asked me “How do you know when an animal loves you?  How do you know if it’s just that they want to treat you well so that you will continue to feed them?”  I would ask the same thing of myself.  Did I love my parents just because they fed me and kept me safe?  Certainly that had something to do with it, but I would hope there was more to it than just that.

What I notice is that my animals trust me.  And trust is a very good place to start when you are thinking about love.

All this and so much more the animals have taught me.  I wonder, what have the animals taught you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Yet another New Beginning

As you can tell, it has been some time since I posted here.  Like many of you, I have gotten swept up in my life and have been somewhat daunted at all I am trying to accomplish.

Today I want to talk about 'the Vision thing'.

I just finished reading Sandy Steen Bartholomew's blog about her  struggles with finding her vision.  She is very open and I recommend the blog ( .  It led me to rethink my own vision for my life.  I will share one quote with you from her blog that I find to be very true.  Ready?

"Dissatisfaction and discouragement are not caused by the absence of things but the absence of vision."

It seems to me that those of us who want a vision for our lives have created a strange situation for ourselves.  When we create a vision, we sometimes work on making that vision come through.  But the very act of working on a vision changes the situation, so we have to go back and re-vision our lives.  Plus, there is the normal change of simply living that happens to all of us.  Suddenly, we find that either the vision has been accomplished or it does not work for us any more

So we are constantly re-visioning.  And it can be frustrating   I don't know about you, but I have not lived up to all my goals by any means.  I have had to discard thousands of dreams and move on.  Most of my beautiful dreams stayed in the dream world.  I've had to realize that having unfulfilled goals are not always a bad thing -- it is possible that they are simply the result of a being very creative person.

I know that it would not be humanly possible to do all the things I have wanted to do with my life -- even Biblical folks did not live long enough to accomplish all I want to do.  So I have had to pick and choose what is most important to me.  And even just that cannot all be done by one mere human.  So I re-negotiate with life.

Most of my life I wasted.  I kept on waiting for 'something' to happen.  I wasn't sure what, but something.  I did do a few things, but mainly I floated along with life, not really directing it.  I had no vision, not really.

Oh, there things I wanted to do, but I would constantly come up to obstacles and I would be discouraged.  I stopped trying.

Then one day I put my foot down and said "I'm doing it."  And I did.  It cost me plenty.  It cost my dearly beloved husband (With whom I am still friends, thank heavens), time with my dear foster granddaughter, stalwart friends and a paid-for home.  I lost a lot to follow my dream, but I loved my new life.  I think I made a difference in the lives of many others, a difference for the better.  I was able to enjoy it for about 7 years before I got hit with my disability.  Then, of course,  I had to re-think my life -- again.

So much has changed.  I used to have lots of people in my life.  Now, not so much.  I had a job that fulfilled me, helped others and brought in a nice amount of money.  Now, not so much.  (By American standards, I live in poverty.)  I used to be able to do just about anything and was constantly busy trying to get everything done.  Now, not so much.  It's somewhat difficult to form a new vision when you are not familiar with your own life and it's realities.

I am in my third year of the disability.  I have changed a great deal.  I am calmer.  I have time to think things through.  Because I can seldom leave the house, I don't have to rush around any more.  I love that part.  Not rushing is wonderful.  I can listen to the birds waking up in the morning.  My dogs and cats love it that I am home all the time.

And strangely enough, for the most part, I am happy.  This is definitely the happiest part of my life.  My needs are few.  I currently live in almost 250 square feet of space, not counting the kitchen, bathroom and laundry which I share with a roommate.   I keep to myself for the most part.  I have three very good phone friends, the internet, Roku for my TV and as much artwork as I can manage.  I even have a women's group that I can go to once a week if I am up to it.

Life is good.

But what about the re-visioning thing?  That I need to work on.  Do I want to try and finished the novel that is 2/3 done?  How can I help more with animal rescue?  What sort of artwork do I want to do?  Do I want to continue to try and teach art?   What sort of writing do I want to do?   How can I work on my Social Justice issues to help them become real? How can I most make a positive impact on the lives of others?

I don't know.  I don't have the answers.  I do know that for some of us, it is very important to have a vision, even if that vision keeps on changing.  I'm working on mine.

If you would care to leave a comment, I would love to hear about your visions for yourself.