Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Blahs!

     I got the winter blahs this year but [so far] at least not the winter blues [seasonal affective disorder] which for me requires the use of a special light in the mornings. I don't know why I haven't been afflicted by S.A.D. this winter [so far]. Maybe it is because I've been spending more time outdoors or maybe it's because physical exercise has now become a habit for me. I know one thing for damn sure-- this [temporary?] improvement is not due to my eating habits or my non-improving insomnia. 

     Hey. Even if the blues come back, I'm good with that. I'm happy not to be experiencing them right now. And I know what to do if they should impinge upon my little world this winter.

     The birds around me have been anything but blah. I've observed mixed flocks of chickadees plus in the backyard feeders along with some woodpeckers. The juncos continue to eat from the platform feeders and the crazy little titmice continue to occupy the tree and sing vigorously. The Canada geese are still flying overhead, heading south. I've observed several families of mallards at local creeks, including one family that was swimming in close proximity to a blue heron.  There have also been various hawks-- mainly kestrels-- hanging on tree branches stalking out dinner.

     The weather has been a bit trying. I don't object to snow. I don't care for freezing rain. So far we've had very little snow and way too much freezing rain this winter. The temperatures cycling twenty degrees or more on an almost daily basis is annoying to me but there is nothing much I can do about the weather here short of moving. 

     Here it is December and we have no snow base on the ground at all. Unless I want to pay to x-c ski or snowshoe through "groomed" trails with fake snow [and no, I don't], I will continue to have to use my boot or sneaker clad feet to ambulate through the woods. The dog wags her tail and makes excitement noises when it is snowing but she doesn't seem overly bothered by the lack of the fluffy stuff outside. She also hates ice and in that we are united.

sapphoq n friends

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Juncos Are Back!

     Several days ago, some juncos flew in with the resident chickadees and titmice. I was very happy to see them. I do miss them when they are gone for the summer. I guess the juncos 'round here didn't read the bird info about their species that says they are ground feeders.

     They have color variation according to geography and a sweet little call which can be viewed at

     I advocate keeping cats indoors. They like to eat birds. They can get hit by cars, have fights with other cats and maybe a few dogs, and sicken quicker from the stuff outside.  My cats are indoor cats. The two year old "kitten" makes noises at the crows outside while sitting on his window perch. He is not interested in the smaller birds.


     In my younger days, in my ignorance I allowed my cats to be indoor/outdoor cats. The cat hauling home a half-grown rabbit twice her size and bringing the live mouse inside to kill it finished me.

     I also advocate not allowing dogs to run loose unsupervised. Dogs can get hit by cars, attack deer and start eating them while still alive, and eat garbage. Some dogs will harass cats and people. A few will fight and bite. There is no excuse for a dog biting a human being, especially a child. Once you've heard a child scream in terror while being attacked by a loose dog, you will never forget it. I haven't.

     In some areas, a dog is allowed to be off-lead if he or she is under voice control. I take the time to obedience-train my dogs. I have called dogs off of deer, canada geese, and once a moose. A dog that is found running a deer can be shot on sight. I agree with this law. I saw a film showing dogs running a deer down and then starting to tear at her flesh while she was still alive.

     My dog is not allowed to roam around the neighborhood making a nuisance of herself and relieving herself on other people's property. The world is not your dog's toilet bowl. Just saying. 

     The dog is older now. I've caught her on the deck of the fenced in yard sleepily watching the birds in the tree eat from feeders and hop around.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

In The Woods October 25, 2014

     Sunny today with leaves falling. Old human and I set off for a romp in the woods.

     I was very happy to be in the woods. I waited for old human who wanted to take some pictures of an interesting brush pile.

     We saw some chickadees. They "cheeped" at us happily from the overhanging branches and then flew off. Up the trail a piece, we found a tree victim of a blow down with some interesting moss growing on it.

     We found a tree with a huge gall on it.

     We played in the woods. I felt good and moved well. 

     On the way back, we were greeted by the same chickadees we saw on the way in. We ran into some casual day trippers.

     And their dog.

      Heading back home, we came upon a garage sale with some interesting hand-painted pieces.

     We had a nice walk and ride in the car today.

                         ~ dictated by old dog to old human


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bird Feeders October 19, 2014

     I threw out some more un-shelled peanuts. Once again, a red-headed woodpecker stopped by. It flitted around the tree and left.

     I've also seen the long red-winged blackbird. He is without his grackle buddies who have all flown for the winter. I don't understand why he is not hanging with the rest of the red-wings along the creek by the wetlands in the neighborhood. At least he seems to be getting enough to eat. When he comes to the backyard, he is a ground feeder. He lands on the far branch of the mock cherry, looks around, and then flies down to the ground. On the ground, he moves around slowly, pecking at whatever leftovers are there. He never drinks from the various water sources in the yard nor does he ever stray more than ten feet from the tree.

     Those crazy titmice are still around. They continue to descend upon the cherry tree in small bunches. Now they are quieter than when the weather is warmer. They spend more time eating than flitting around. [A few weeks ago, it was the opposite.]

     Chickadees, blue jays, goldfinches, a  few red and purple finches, the mourning doves, and lots of house sparrows round out the list of the regulars. I'm waiting for the mixed flocks but so far not that.

    The weather is shifting. It is colder and the wind has kicked up. Canada geese have been flocking up and leaving. The kestrels continue to zoom around in great numbers overhead. Perhaps they are picking small songbirds from the air.

sapphoq n friends

Monday, October 13, 2014

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

     As the cold and winds settle in, more and more Canada geese depart for warmer climes. The hummers have wisely gotten out of here already. The grackles have all departed and that makes me a bit sad. I've enjoyed them immensely this year. The red winged blackbird, friend to grackles, showed up the other day alone. I felt badly for him. Probably worse than he felt for himself. Birds can and do have bird friends as well as bird enemies. I am not anthropomorphizing here. Bernd Heinrich has observed something akin to friendship among the ravens. 

     Other animals, like people, can also demonstrate something that looks very much like prejudice to my human eyes. My dog has long hated shih tzu dogs, going so far as to attempt to attack one during an obedience class. [I quickly squashed her action]. Conversely, she has been delirious with happiness upon meeting a husky. She shares some common ancestry with the huskies. Something inside her recognizes similar and different I am sure.

     It was probably some kind of evolutionary imperative that caused animals to band together, first into exclusionary tribes and much later into mixed flocks. It is not the individual that is sacrosanct. It is the species that must thrive. Modern humans tend to flock with those who have similar characteristics. Is it one of the phobias that cause this? (Homophobia, xenophobia...). I think it is the comfort that goes with recognition. If we are the insiders, then we cannot be cast out.

     Saturday October 11, 2014 was National Coming Out Day. As a bisexual atheist, I have experienced coming out on a personal and a media level. When a photographer caught a shot of me and a [now ex-] lover smooching in front of City Hall, I was at first a bit leery. That picture did make the paper. Nothing much happened because of it in my personal life. By time I had a soundbite on the evening news, I was "used to" these sorts of momentary spotlights. I was at work when I and my soundbite were flashed on the screen. My co-workers saw it too. None of them commented. Work that evening was super quiet.

     I am troubled when I read a letter posted on the bulletin board of a local (moderate) church exhorting women to "vote the bible." Some survey, according to the letter, has demonstrated that christian women do not vote. A campaign has been announced. Christian women, vote the bible. Vote for your candidates of faith. Here comes another figurative bloodbath.

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     When a corporation can declare itself a person and then go on to legally insert itself into decisions that ought to be left between a woman and her physician-- decisions that are informed by her faith or lack of faith perhaps, along with her personal circumstances and her health status-- there is something wrong. Abortion is a terrible tragedy. Yet, I recognize the necessity. When a fetus is not viable, it is the height of cruelty to inflict an organization's religious stance on the pregnant woman. She has her own spiritual advisers, perhaps. Leave her alone. Politicians, stay out of her vagina.

     When politicians vote according to their sincerely-held religious beliefs, there is also something wrong. The laws that the churched celebrate can also be the laws that deny minorities their own vision of spirituality. The Jewish woman-- whose religious tenets dictate that the life of the fetus is not equally or more important than her own sacred life-- loses out. It is a catholic proposition that we are entirely responsible for what others do with our shared resources and medical technology. I do not understand this sort of communal guilt. But I recognize it as something that adults had tried to instill into me as a teen (and failed).

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     When students are mocked for not having a religion in a public school setting and no teacher or administrator steps in, something is wrong. To say nothing is complicity. To join in is horror. Yet this scenario has happened with all too much frequency. Read Hemant Mehta if you don't believe me. The rights of the majority ought not to stamp out those of minorities.

     Minorities are the other, the stranger, the outsider. We have to fight for our place by the fire. Because my niece and her lover have to fight for basic recognition, I am involved in the movement to change state laws that do not acknowledge that two women can fall in love and raise a family. It is the height of immorality that allows a hospital to deny an adult access to his or her same-gendered partner in a time of crisis. It is a sham that allows another to deny a rape victim the morning after pill. It is horrifying that any work site which accepts public funding should even dare to discriminate against potential hires who have a state of being.

     Corporations are not people. Corporations that accept any sort of public monies ought to remember that the tax dollars of the faithless are part of the financial windfall. At the very least, we ought to rise up and collectively shout, "Hey, you're not the boss of me." Self-determination is something that all civilians ought to be able to have. Because our lives trump your grand corporate feelings.

sapphoq n friends

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Bird Feeders and Woods, October 4, 2014

     I had a surprise visitor twice last week-- a red-headed woodpecker on two separate afternoons-- at the feeders. Quite a beautiful bird. The red head [no, I know it wasn't a pileated. We have them regularly] was startling as was the sleekness of the black upper body, the wing patches, and the white lower body. He or she gave a call both times and ate a bit of corn before disappearing. The other birds around [including the hairy couple] did not appear to respond to the brief presence of the medium sized woodpecker. We used to have more of them here as I remember. Or perhaps they got better at hiding. I'm not sure which.

     I threw more whole unshelled peanuts out with the predictable response of joy from bunches of blue jays in the neighborhood. The one younger that appeared to initially have a "too small misshapen" head originally has filled out to be a beauty. The blue coloring on the head and neck appear to be darker than the other jays still. The head now appears to be right-sized to me.

     Shelled peanuts enticed some tufted titmice to examine the bucket that I put them in. One was especially flapping around with vigor. Other birds and the two younger squirrels [who are now grown with beautiful bushy tails] and one of the chipmunks partook of that feast.

     The usual suspects continue to hang in the yard-- three mourning doves on a fence this morning, one in the tree yesterday, chickadees galore, goldfinches, house sparrows, hairys, downys, two rock doves [to my annoyance but I let them be], but no more grackles. Canada geese fly overhead frequently, splitting before the snow. And kestrels continue in large numbers. A couple of unidentified [as of yet] sparrows also came along. I hope they come back so I can determine what they are.

     On a recent woodswalk, the humidity was so high that some of the embedded stones were sweating. Also, I did see black bear marks on one tree in particular. My guess from the size of the marks is that the bear is big. I did not smell bear however so perhaps that particular bear was just lumbering through. We do have them across the river on a regular basis though, and close enough to smell at times. Bears smell musty to me, like a cheap rundown motel room that hasn't been cleaned up in ages.

     I was relieved to find that the idio well-meaning person who had been leaving birdseed on a fallen tree trunk in the woods has quit. It was the kind of seed that mourning doves would prefer. At any rate, it certainly isn't necessary or wise to leave such a thing out.

     We've had humidity and misty rain and the leaves are about halfway through. Folks here like to "predict" how the winter is going to be. The most accurate way is the height of the beaver lodges but I haven't been near those of late.

          sapphoq and old dog friend

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bird News September 20, 2014


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     Kestrels have been out in abundance. I usually see one in a tree  once or twice a month, but lately I've seen bunches of them on the air currents daily. They are just all over. I saw a particularly handsome one [m, f-- who knows?] sailing over a small farm village today circling in for a landing. The kestrels have a characteristic way of holding their wings when drifting and a particular shape to their wings as well.

     Hairys and downies continue to grace the feeders. They like the sunflower kernels and the suet. If there are peanuts, they eat those too. The male hairy checked out our deck one night, working himself along the rails. I figure he was checking for wood bees. They've been much less in evidence since I painted over and taped a couple new wood bee holes. It seems to me like the hairies-- both the male and the female-- spend more time at the feeders than either one of the pair of downies. The downies pretty much seem to grab a few bites and go.

     The goldfinches have reverted out of their breeding colors. I can recognize them by their voice now along with how they approach and land at the sunflower kernel feeder. The house sparrows and the goldfinches had a squabble at the feeder one afternoon. One ambitious house sparrow tried to scare one of the hairys off the suet to no avail. The hairy puffed himself up and stood vertical with his wings slightly out from his body. The house sparrow left. The chickadees never seem to fight or squabble with any bird. They remain gregarious as usual and a few buzz me when I am sitting on the deck. One buzzed me the other day as I was filling the feeders.

     There have been individual song sparrow, fox sparrow, and chippy [chipping sparrow] this summer but no white-throats or white-heads. Less sparrows in general at the backyard feeders it seems this year. The grackles still come around and several habitually ring the bell near one of the platform feeders. I've discovered that grackles and crows will peck at bits of the pregnant onion plant hanging in a pot on the choke cherry tree. A cedar waxwing flew in one day and ate a cherry before darting off again. Migrating or checking it out, who knows? Some years ago, I did get to witness a line of cedar waxwings passing cherries along. That was kind of neat.

     When I throw un-shelled raw peanuts in the garden and in the platform feeder, all of the blue jays in the neighborhood descend upon the yard to carry the peanuts away one by one. A few will crack one open on a nearby tree branch [usually the aspen or the oak] but soon they also carry them away. They hold the un-shelled peanut by one end as they fly off.

     Today I tried some sliced [leftover] almonds on the ground. Within a minute, one of the squirrels came dashing along the fence. He dove down the mock cherry tree and into the scattered almonds without hesitation. Maybe he'd had them before. Or maybe squirrels have an acute sense of smell. I don't really know. Another squirrel also came along and promptly began eating the almonds also. A mourning dove toppled out of the cherry tree, acting very startled. I don't know why. It was a younger dove with dark tail and a few outside white underlying feathers. It ignored the squirrels and the almonds and went over to the corn and black sunflower seeds. The two younger blue jays-- and a new third that I didn't recognize-- landed in the tree. They hopped to the ground and quickly ate some of the almonds before flying away again. They also hopped rather than walked along the ground so I suspect that blue jays don't spend a lot of time ground feeding. Walking on the ground is more practical and birds that are habitual ground feeders have evolved to walk rather than hop. Flickers-- and one of the ones in the neighborhood finally dropped in-- are woodpeckers which are evolving to become ground birds. Two chipmunks each took over a platform to munch on the corn and seeds. They did not appear to be interested at all in the almond slices.

     At a nearby park the other day with a creek running through it [not the usual park with the creek where I spotted the yellow warbler once] there was a flock of Canada geese. The old dog drank from the water but did not want to go swimming so I didn't make her. Up the creek was a fine great blue heron, some mallards, and some blacks [ducks] or black-mallard crosses. Mallards are notorious for mating with other species of ducks, particularly blacks. The mallards/blacks were dabbling when something I couldn't see must have startled them. They swam en masse to the other shore. A lone duck swam up behind the group, with only his neck and head on the surface of the water. Then he dove and disappeared from my sight totally. I don't think it was a male mallard. (They are dabblers and don't swim underwater much if at all). But I didn't get enough field marks to be able to even guess at the species. A kingfisher determinedly flew up the creek and landed in a treetop to go fishing. We walked up the side of the creek a bit and flushed a solitary muskrat. The muskrat lodge was on the opposite side from where we were. The muskrat set off in that direction but soon went underwater.

     The lone red-winged blackbird comes less and less. Perhaps he has finally figured out that he is a red-wing and not a grackle like his grackle buddies. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Bird Feeder News September 7, 2014

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     The ruby throated hummers are still around but not in so many numbers. I do like them quite a bit. When they buzz me, they sound like miniature motors.

     The band of tufted titmice have been back several times [when I was in the yard]. They spend more time flying around and chattering than they do eating.

     After an absence, the solitary red winged blackbird came back once with a few of his grackle buddies. But no missus in sight.

     I've been watching some immatures learn how to balance on and around the feeders-- they flap their wings-- and sometimes waiting on limbs demanding that one parent or the other drop seeds into their mouths. A small female purple finch was struggling with the feeders a couple of weeks ago. She would sit on the tray of the safflower feeder. A persistent chickadee would come by and eat at the same one. The baby would fly up the tree in fright. The chickadee would also fly away but then would come back as the baby settled back on the feeder. This happened several times. Then the baby allowed the chickadee to feed on the same feeder nearby. The purple finch immature came back today with a male purple finch in tow. He was younger also and was beautifully colored.

     A male downy has been a frequent visitor, hanging upside down from the peanut feeder and leaving very quickly with his prize. The two hairys that come by stay longer. One of the regular mourning doves got a bit annoyed with the male hairy. I don't know why. The dove flew right into the hairy as he was clinging to the sunflower kernel feeder and then dropped back to the ground. I've never seen a dove do anything like that before. The hairy immediately left. It was a bit curious for sure.

     The grackles continue in large numbers as do the chickadees and goldfinches. I've watched several goldfinches swinging off of a hoop as well as from an old-fashioned long-handled bird feeder hanger. None of the other birds in the yard use the swinging hoop. Must be a goldfinch thing. Some of the goldfinches are losing their breeding colors at a faster rate than some of the other ones. I'd say it's about 50 - 50 but don't quote me on that one.

     The six or seven house sparrows that hang in the top of the small pine tree in front of my house have been making the trip back for sunflower kernels. They seem to have claimed part of the tree limb for their own. When they feed, they squabble a bit among themselves and sometimes with the goldfinches as well.

     A pileated came to the tree directly behind the backyard once and then quickly left. A yellow-shafted flicker that I've observed in the neighborhood has finally come to visit the backyard but did not stay long. I've seen the flicker chasing larger birds in the field up from the house. Seems like there used to be more of them around.

     The three regular blue jays still come. Now there are two younger jays that come separately from the three. The two jays are a bit darker about the head. One of them looked a bit like he[?] needed to grow into his body. His head was so small that at first I thought he [?, who knows?] was deformed. I added unshelled peanuts this week. All of the blue jays were delighted and they frequently call [not the alarm call, the other one] when coming in to feed on them.

     Tonight, the dog almost had a tussle with a skunk. [The town is full of skunks of both the human and the four-footed variety]. The skunk was rooting around on the ground near the feeders. The dog went over and barked at him [?]. The skunk waddled off into some nearby undergrowth and sprayed a tiny bit. But not enough to douse the dog. I was glad of that. The cats are better behaved in the bathtub than the dog ever was.

     I will note here that any cats that I have are kept as indoor cats only. Period. There is one neighborhood cat that has a range of at least a half mile. He [?] climbs trees to wait for birds. I don't believe he is a stray as he is well-fed. I figure the birds are a dietary supplement for him. Besides fast cars, cats running loose can and do get into fights and other sorts of trouble. I know some people think that the idea of foxes eating cats has no basis in reality. I'm on the opposite side of that one. There's an island in the middle of nowhere in Maine that has both foxes and cats. Folks who live there swear that the foxes do stalk the cats. 

     We've got foxes-- gray and red both, skunks, possums, raccoon, woodchuck, coyote, several kinds of rabbit, beaver, shrews, deer, jumping mice, wild turkeys and some very large very fast hawks in the neighborhood. Add to that a bunch of feral cats along with some domestic cats and dogs whose owners are irresponsible. Things aren't exactly crowded here. For a city, that's quite a bit of wildlife.

                                 ~sapphoq and friends 

p.s. I was at the river today but duck migration was not in evidence. The water was fairly high for this time of year. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bird Feeder News: August 19, 2014

     The bird feeders in the backyard have been especially busy the last three days. I continue to have every goldfinch in the neighborhood visiting. And the grackles. [One neighbor commented on the large number of "blackbirds" around. I let it go. He wasn't asking for my help in learning how to distinguish blackbirds from grackles]. And the red finches, the house sparrows, the three blue jays [all happy with the addition of a feeder containing peanuts], the mourning doves, some hummers, a nuthatch, and the usual assortment of black-capped chickadees. The male red-wing blackbird has not been here. I figure he finally found true love with a female of his own kind.

     I haven't seen the red-bellied woodpecker lately at the feeder but the hairy has brought along her mate. A set of exasperated house finch parents had a fledgling reluctant to fend for herself[?] at the feeders. She follows them around squawking her head off. A pair of tufted titmouse had a baby in tow who also squawked but he[? who knows really] appeared to be willing to learn what to do.

     A few black-capped chickadees showed up a couple of days ago with the three tufted titmouse in tow. Yesterday, a bunch of tufted titmouse flew in and pretty much invaded the feeders all at once. They were happily flitting around all over the tree. The tree was singing with them. Noisy little birds, darlings who chattered much more than they ate. They seemed to be having a grand time. They made me laugh. Today too, they came but in smaller bunches. 

     Some brown-headed cowbirds have showed up along with the grackles. I was able to concentrate on sharpening up my identification skills. The brown heads are a giveaway. The tails, I compared with grackle tails in order to cement the differences in my head. They stand differently than the grackles too.

     To my utter delight, I've had first one chippy  and now two who are ground-feeding. They make little "chip" sounds as they eat, and fly.

     Yesterday I watched a huge gray striped cat climb an oak tree behind us. People, cats outdoors become killing machines. Your cats [and mine] are much safer indoors away from birds, traffic, and diseases. Just saying.

                         sapphoq n feathered buddies

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bird Feeder News: August 13, 2014

     The ruby-throated hummers continue to flock around the feeders and wildflower blossoms in the backyard. I have seen the pine siskin and red crossbill once since the last report. The red-winged blackbird was present during the later part of last week but not this week so far. I hope he's figured out that those grackle buddies of his are not looking to feather his nest. Also absent this week so far has been the red-bellied woodpecker.

     The chickadees and gold finches continue in abundance along with the grackles. I've had up to twenty grackles at one time in the yard. Several grackles wait for their turn at the platform feeders on a hook from which hangs a bell. The bell rings when they land on the hook. None of them have reacted in fear. One of the grackles was startled when he flew into one of the wind chimes along the fence. He came to a quick stop and then resumed his flight to visit the neighbor's yard. 

     The chickadees brought along one nuthatch yesterday. The chickadees are rather sociable little things and they buzz me all the time. When I filled up one of the platform feeders the other day, they continued their feeding from the hanging feeders and did not bother to fly off.

     I have spotted a male goldfinch swinging off of the loop I have hanging up for that purpose. I don't know if it the same male goldfinch who is doing the swinging or not. It is never one of the female goldfinches.

     I watched some young house sparrows attempt to maintain their balance while feeding from the hanging sunflower kernel feeder. They much have been newly fledged [from the pine! tree] because they were doing the excessive wing-flapping that I have watched other young ones do.

     Rounding out the crew is a female hairy woodpecker, a pair of purple finches, the morning doves, and an increase in numbers [since last week] of red finches.

     The gray squirrel that dominates one of the platform feeders continues to do so. He makes noises and chases other squirrels away when he is feeding. He has allowed a smaller red squirrel to feed from "his" feeder this week, along with one of the three regular blue jays and one of the regular chipmunks.

     The swallows continue to occupy airspace but do not visit my backyard. I have seen them lining up along the telephone poles in the countryside this past Saturday.

     I did see a hawk-like bird today on a tree in the neighborhood but was unable to get an identification.

sapphoq n feathered friends 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Bird Feeder News August 6, 2014

     Over the last two days, I've had pine siskin and red crossbill visit the feeders. The pine siskin is a spunky fella with a hoarse voice. I spotted something small and brownish. First general impression was of finch-like behavior, a bit more nervous and shy than the usual drop-in at the feeders. Once he opened his mouth, I knew. It was that raspy "zipper" call that gave him away. He called while feeding and flitting back and forth between his chosen feeder and the middle branches of the tree. 

     His buddy the red crossbill was a bit less nervous, having already been to the feeders. The crossbill ate quietly, picking the seeds out and not having to fly into the tree to crack the seeds open. I suspect it was the chickadees who led them to the backyard. 

     Within walking distance are fields, woods, a couple of parks, a creek, and some wetlands. That siskins and crossbills would live nearby was not a surprise. I wasn't expecting them to show up. Both are irruptive. With the surrounding environs, they didn't have to travel very far. I didn't recognize any females although they could have been present. 

     One female hairy woodpecker came briefly to the feeder the other day. She was very pretty-- if such as adjective is not out of place in describing a wild bird-- and stayed for only a minute before flying away.

     The red-bellied woodpecker has become a regular. I've spied it between two and four times a day eating from the sunflower kernel feeder. These three visitors have caused me to wonder what is going on in the woods. Either the food supplies there are not what they usually are [summer has been rainy and late this year] or perhaps the presence of two aggressive dogs living near the woods have forced them to look for food in places where the pooches are not able to go. [Our yard is fenced in]. The presence of our aging dog-- who does not chase birds, only squirrels-- did not seem to bother these three visitors.

     Over the last couple of summers, there has been a gradual increase in our population of red squirrels and younger red x gray squirrel crosses. [Reports are that they can and do interbreed]. The tails of the reds are less bushy than those of the grays. The reds are also bolder, daring to use the deck railings as a pathway to one of the trees. Staring at them gets them to turn around. I really do not want any squirrels so close to me that I can touch them. They are wild and deserve to stay that way.

     I haven't seen the crow that was buzzing me but the male red-wing blackbird continues to hang with some of the local grackles. He flies in with a bunch of them. The grackles mostly concentrate on the corn while the red-wing eats from the sunflower kernels and the suet. The grackles will sample other things as well, but the corn mixture [which includes pumpkin seeds and peanuts] seems to be their favorite. I've watched quite a few grackles hop down from the platform feeders with corn kernels in their bills. They are confident birds. When the sun is out, their bluish-black feathers shine. I now have an underfeather-- a very small one about the size of a pinky nail-- which also glistens a pretty bluish color in the sun.

     The cast of regulars continue to show up: chickadees, nuthatches, mourning doves, a pair of purple finches, some house finches, tons of goldfinches [who are now eating the safflower seeds again along with the sunflower kernels], and of course the grackles. Swallows continue to fly overhead. Starlings have been absent from the yard. Perhaps the grackles discourage them, I don't know.

     I've been studying the way that some of the birds land and how the ones that land in a tree get down to the feeders or the ground. I've also been noting who is wary of who and which bird species appear to be buddies. This is something that has been impossible for me to figure in the woods. I suspect this could be spotted in the nearby parks as well. Truthfully, I prefer the woods and the fields to more civilized places but dog and I do go to the parks sometimes.

     Dog likes to sniff out frogs near and in the creek. [We have our own captive-bred frogs in tanks at home]. She snuffles through the bolt holes in the winter and hunts frogs at her feet while standing in the creek. She doesn't chase them ever but seems to enjoy watching them swim around. A well-behaved and trained dog is a pleasure. Taking the time to teach a dog how to behave is its own reward for both human and dog. This one has not been a deterrent to birding at all. She is not allowed to chase or harass any of the animals around us. [And yes, I pick up her poop!].

          ~sapphoq and friends

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Birds at the Feeders and in the Park News: end of July

     At the feeders in the backyard this week, grackles plus the one male red wing blackbird that hangs out with them continue to abound after a curious absence of maybe a fortnight. The chickadees show up several times a day. I saw one chickadee today that was a bit larger than the rest of them. Looked that way to me anyways. Much to my amazement, I have several chickadees crowding around the safflower seeds and the goldfinches have dominated the sunflower kernels. Earlier this spring, this was exactly the opposite. The grackles of course will eat from any feeder that they want to when not grabbing at the corn and nuts in the two platform feeders. The red-bellied woodpecker continues to show up for sunflower kernels several times a day. Mourning doves, house sparrows, a purple finch and a [red] house finch, a few ruby-throated hummers, and the three regular blue jays round out the list of regulars. Yesterday morning, a female hairy woodpecker came to sample the sunflower kernels. And one crow continues to be among the birds that regularly buzz me when the dog and I are relaxing on the deck.

     Yes, I also bird off the property. We have lots of woods and fields around here. Of note, in a creek that runs through some woods and a park there was an immature little green heron just standing in the middle of some mud flats. It took an experimental hop and then just stood there motionless for at least twenty minutes. Much to my amazement, I spied a sandpiper scurrying up and down in the water near the mud flats [where the immature little green heron was]. I never thought about sandpipers being this far inland. I did not get a close enough look to be able to identify which kind of sandpiper. I did catch the yellow legs clearly and some suggestion of spots along the top half of the sandpiper but that was all. Gis: for sure a sandpiper. Other than that, I cannot say. I saw a blue heron flying along the creek further down.

     The next day along the same creek there was a yellow warbler flitting through a thicket of trees. Very fast little birds. Easy to miss.

     A pretty good couple of days I think.

sapphoq n friends

Sunday, July 20, 2014


     You tug at the pant legs of your expensive jeans so they hang just so over your fashionable boots just so. "Let's get this over with," you say to them with a grimace. Your beau squeezes your shoulder and reaches for your hand. You wince. That hurts, he thinks. He remembers to hide his pain. One older brother checks the car door locks. He doesn't care for the neighborhood. The other-- younger-- stands in the driveway, hands pushed deep into his pockets. "Yeah, get 'er done," he mumbles. He wants to get back to the hotel and the stash in his suitcase. 

     The four of you walk up the driveway and onto the ramp. "New paint job," the concerned brother says. The doper brother is staring about the grounds and the foundation plants. It's a grand house. If he owned all of this, he'd be sure to put in a locked greenhouse way in the back. You know his fantasies well. You glare at him, "Forget it," you say. "You'll never be able to afford this." He flips you the bird when he thinks you aren't looking.

     One of the workers responds to the doorbell and ushers all of you inside. Your overly-applied perfume hangs like sticky fog, not even dissipating in the breeze.  It is good enough. I grab my tools from the back shed and go to work on your shiny automobile. You deserve this. The job is completed in less than a minute. Excellent.

     I crouch behind the bush just under the drawing room window on the far side of the house. I can hear you perfectly. Not so much your words. Those skid around me, vacant and unfeeling. It is your tone of voice that dances around the room clearly and then flings itself with abandon out to my hiding place. A nearby squirrel chatters. He chases another one to a sickly oak. Up and around they go in a crazy zigzag.

     Your beau-- I allow myself a moment to feel sorry for him-- does not realize that he is second fiddle to your swollen false ego. He has often speculated on who his competition for your affection might be. He has hacked into your computer [your first cat's name as a password] and hunted through your addresses. One suspect turned out to be a cousin living in Chicago. Another a much loved gay friend.

     Your grandfather, usually lost to his dementia, is having a clear day. Your beau goes off to find the men's room. "He's not marriage material," he tells you plainly. "Oh grandpa, what do you know?" 

     "Where's your respect?" your younger brother whispers to you. You kick him in the shin. He winces but says nothing further. Grandpa is dying and he doesn't want to upset him. "A gambler," your older brother nods knowingly for Grandpa's benefit but not yours. You glare at him. Screw this, you tell yourself. Your beau returns. "Gotta go Gramps," you say as you bend down to kiss his papery skin. You drag your bodyguards away.

     Your older brother starts the car.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


     Old dog and I went off into the woods today. Some of the trails are grown in a bit, primarily with jewel weed. The roots are close to the surface so they were easy to pull out as we meandered along. More problematic is the grass. Grass in the woods-- who'd a thunk it? Bits of the trails were muddy from the recent rainstorms but that didn't really bother me. A couple of new blow-downs were in evidence from the high winds that we've been having of late.

     Dog trotted along happily. Her rear is a bit weaker these days. In addition to the arthritis in her lower back and right rear hock, I am suspecting a neurological condition. I hope not. Even the best of dogs die. I hope that she will pass on [or be put down] before she becomes incontinent of stool. Stool incontinence plus a bad rear yields something that robs a dog of her dignity. And she is too good for that. I will miss her when she goes. I was hoping to get her to the first snowfall-- she loves snow-- or at least til sometime in the fall. And I don't know if I will be able to.

     Dad is dying too. 


sapphoq n friends says: Oh I know some smart ass will say something meaningless like, "We are all dying." The thing is that some of us are dying at a faster clip than the rest of us. Dad is in hospice. That's a pretty good indication that he doesn't have much time left. The old dog is getting weaker.
     I will love both my dad and my dog for as long as my memory will last.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bird Feeder News: July 12, 2014

Chickadees and grackles continue to predominate at the feeders, along with the same three blue jays, a pair of mourning doves, a pair of cardinals and a single younger male cardinal, grackles and the one red-winged blackbird who continues to hang with a few of those grackles, and a few nuthatches.

     I can identify which of the three blue jays are visiting based on their facial markings, although they do tend to fly in as a loose trio most often. The one with the most gray about his face and neck drank from one of the water pans that is hidden by some wildflowers this evening. I was surprised by this as the blue jays will feed out in the open at the feeders closest to the back porch. None of the trio have presented as shy or hesitant. There are several water dishes available and I just would not have figured on him using that particular one.

     A crow came to visit me twice this week, much to my astonishment. I must have passed muster both times. The crow studied me from a perch on the nearby cherry tree and then flew off at a leisurely pace.

     The five or six house sparrows [a.k.a. English sparrows] who hang out in one of the smaller pine trees also stop in to feed along with a few goldfinches, house finches, and purple finches. Folks tend not to care for the house sparrows much but they don't bother me.

     I like the grackles too. They seem to be intelligent to me. I suspect that they hang with particular other grackles [and the one male red-winged blackbird] but that is only a guess. I do not have the means or knowledge to verify or to disprove that notion. One grackle delighted me last night by plowing into the water of the shallow dish on the ground and then taking a "bath." He used his beak to throw water on his back several times. He shook himself off and then flew to a branch to preen himself. The grackles seem to favor the shallow water dish on the ground for drinking but that was the first grackle bath that I was privileged to watch.

     Tonight something landed in an upper section of the tall oak and remained stationary for a good five minutes. I followed him as he flew down to the cherry tree and then crouched on a branch walking until he reached the long feeder and the sunflower kernels. He perched there with no difficulty and ate. I heard him use a soft call. He flew back up to the oak tree, drummed for a short bit, and then took off in a south-easterly direction. It was, no doubt, a male red-bellied woodpecker. The bird books say they will visit a feeder in winter. I have not found a reference to them visiting a feeder in the summer. But this one did.

     He may have ventured out from the woods. Or he may have been knocked about by one of the almost nightly storms we have been having. I did not see a mate or any other red-bellies around the area. Admittedly one could have flown to the oak and hid there. [Or not]. I was thrilled to see the male red-bellied in my backyard. The absence of a female did not detract from my happiness.

     Notably missing from my backyard this week/this summer have been starlings and swallows, flickers, and both white throats and white caps [sparrows]. The fox and the song [sparrows] that I saw last month have also not returned. The starlings, swallows, and flickers are all in abundance in the neighborhood. No starlings in my backyard I find to be curious. They certainly hung out here last year. I don't know what changed. Perhaps the boisterous grackles prevent the starlings from wanting to re-acquaint themselves with my backyard this year. The starlings are in the neighbors' yards though. I'm not complaining. Just saying is all.

     Swallows have never hung in the yard here and I've seen one of the neighborhood flickers in my yard only once ever since I've been here. That the other sparrows have not been around this July perhaps is related to breeding or weather conditions or something else. I think the sparrows are declining in numbers here in general but I am not for sure on that. We certainly have had a wet summer with lots of thunderstorms and high winds-- and some hail ranging in size from peas to meatballs. The summer has been so wet in fact that I haven't had to water the gardens at all, and have only had to water the plants in pots outdoors twice.

     The storms alternating with intense heat have been remarkable, not necessarily in a happy happy way. Perhaps some of the birds are also dismayed with the weather, who knows? Just because they don't use words does not mean that they can't notice weather patterns, identify other individual bird "friends and foes," and think. 

     Human beings have made assumptions that those other animals without words don't have well-developed cognitive processes. Me, I've watched birds as well as the resident squirrels and chipmunks [yes I can identify a few of those individually too] use the environment as tools to solve simple problems. Countless chickadees have used the blunt end of a forsythia bush to pry black sunflower seeds from their shells. A few have also used a rock for the same purpose. The squirrels are skilled acrobats who easily defeat any sort of "defense against the squirrels" bird feeders and baffles. The chipmunks have taken to storing corn kernels in the one compost bin which features a chipmunk-size hole. I can't leave out the one male red-winged blackbird who hangs out with some grackles daily in my backyard. He flies in with them and leaves with them. From these events I've witnessed informal evidence of what may be the deliberate usage of tools, solving problems, and identifying which grackles are in an odd group of peers.

     The birds and chipmunks and squirrels-- and indeed my own dog, cats, and frogs-- are much better at being birds and chipmunks and squirrels [and dogs, cats, frogs] than I ever could be. I don't have the same set of skills that any of them do. My dog can smell every individual blade of grass in an area where she is roaming [with my direct supervision and under voice control always]. I can't do that. Even when leaving out stuff that is accounted for by instinct, there is other stuff they do that give me the idea that thinking is involved. We humans don't have the monopoly on intelligent behavior. To proclaim that we do ignores the observations of well-respected naturalists like Bernd Heinrich. 

     sapphoq n friends



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20, 2014 at the Bird Feeder

     There are now two families of house sparrows in residence-- one family in a small pine tree and the other near the top of a large oak. I've seen the chippy [chipping sparrow] over the past two weeks and yes, we still have a male red-wing blackbird who thinks he is a grackle. Hopefully he will figure it out before too long. 

     The mourning doves are nesting, goldfinches still all over the backyard tree, and the usual chickadees/ nuthatches/ juncos remain in force. We had two surprise visitors this afternoon. 

     I heard the "me-ow" before I saw him; a male [I think a male although there is no way of telling without instruments of torture] gray catbird. He was finely mustached and flitting about the tree cautiously. Ignoring the bird feeders as befitting his species, he issued several plaintive cries and then landed on the hook supporting one of the hummingbird feeders. He drank sugar-water from the reservoir [astonishing!] but rejected all of the other water available for drinking in the yard. He flew back into the leaves when his mate flew in. I could see his rusty coloration under his tail feathers. His mate did not come out of the thicket of leaves. The male attempted to drink from another hummingbird feeder and then both flew off. The couple came back twice after that and inspected various branches of the tree.

     The tree is some sort of sour cherry-- not the edible to humans kind-- which the birds seem to fancy. We also have a garlic patch and several other planted areas. One end holds the wildflowers and red bee balm and a bush whose name I've forgotten for the moment. The other end features lilacs, a few random tulips, ferns, several kinds of berries, and a spice bush. The gray cat birds must have found the plantings to be satisfactory else they never would have ventured into the tree. 

     The bees are out full force. My hovers are indeed back and so are the wasps and yellow jackets and a few honey bees. We don't subscribe to any sort of treatment for the grass. It grows as it will and when we mow it all down, it looks fairly green. The "grass" no longer qualifies as a common lawn. We have wild violets and other things intermingled with it. We don't use chemicals or even fertilizer. The grass and plantings all grow or not and that is the way of it. The humans have allergies and the dog is old and I like my grass to be varied and free from the foul crap that our neighbors pay to have sprayed on their more typical lawns. 

     In the neighborhood, folks tend to leave their little yellow placards up for several twenty-four hours in hopes I suspect of keeping dogs from pooping on their lawns. The chemical stuff smells nasty. I feel like gagging when I come across fresh applications on our walks. The crap in the chemical spray used binds with the proteins that are naturally present in the pads of dogs. Yes, a dog can die from that.

     Living in the modern world, all of us are to some degree or another "at war" with nature. Nature does not give a rat's ass for the likes of us. The wild things which to overgrow the artificial boundaries that we have set and reclaim what was theirs long before we ever got here. While walking tonight along the edge of a field that has an unruly collection of trees and bushes and scrub, I noted two eyes reflecting the light from my LED-hat back to me. The animal was crouched at the bottom of a tree. I figured it for a mouse or rodent of some sort [or a small kitten???]. I also figured that the animal did not want to meet the dog and I. So we kept going.

sapphoq n friends.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bird Feeder News

     Of late, the bird feeders have hosted juncos, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmouse, nuthatches-- one took a clump of dog hair from a pile to the nesting site, grackles, one crazed adolescent red wing blackbird, three blue jays, a yearling pair of cardinals, and the mourning doves that multiply in the yard from year to year. Several years ago, we hosted three mourning doves regularly-- a couple plus a younger female. Last year we had eight. Now we have about twenty of them. I've seen one chippy [a chipping sparrow] and one fox [sparrow] and several house sparrows. There is a stray starling but so far he hasn't invited any of his buddies along. If you are mourning a lack of goldfinches, they are all in our tree along with a pair of house finches [red finches]. We have a ton of goldfinches right now.  

     I was thrilled last year when a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks stopped by to eat from the feeder. Also cool and unexpected was the presence of a male goshawk who perched on an old fence post. He flew like a blue streak when he left. One night several years ago I happened upon a barred owl clutching a mouse. I think he was as startled to see me as I was to see him.

     Today a pair of white crown sparrows happened by. (We have a regular crop of white throats [sparrows] who prefer the brush in the side yard but I haven't seen them lately). Seeing the white crowns was quite a treat. Both attacked the leaf cover with vigor in search of seeds that other birds threw around along with creepy crawlies I suspect. One sat smack in the middle of the forsythia bush to rest.

     The dog used to vigorously protest the presence of mourning doves and was given to chasing them away when she was younger. She has made her peace with them and allows them to perch on the railing of the deck while she is taking a snooze less than two feet away. She still will chase the squirrels. Most of the squirrels will leap off of the tree branches into the neighboring yards to get away. We have one who for the past two years insists upon going to ground. He runs down the tree trunk and then makes his escape under the fence. The dog leaves the chipmunks alone though.

     In the neighborhood there are deer, wild turkeys, turkey vultures, raccoon, fox-- both silver and red, shrews, blue and little green herons, skunk, and possum. I've seen all of those around, just not in the yard.

                       ~ sapphoq and birdy friends 


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Creepy Informants

Creepy informants
in my mailbox
thinking I'm someone
that I am not.

You ask me for info.
I have nothing to say.
I don't even tell you
to have a good day.

I didn't do it.
Go find someone who did.
I know nothing 'bout nothing.
I'm just a kid.

Turncoats and snitches
wanting info.
Agents undercover
you really blow.

Your insinuations
don't bother me.
All your assumptions
show stupidity.

I didn't do it.
Go find someone who did.
I know nothing 'bout nothing.
I'm just a kid.

Monday, March 31, 2014

To Professional Whistleblowers

To Professional Whistleblowers,

Since you so willingly post the names and birth dates of the accused as well as the allegations and charges under which you arranged their arrests, I don't understand why you do not publish the results of your prosecutions of all of the accused. The media appears to draw their information from your press releases. The public deserves to know the disposition of your cases.

     Have you succeeded in sending any of the accused to prison?

     Have any of the accused been sentenced to jail time?
     Have any of the accused been sentenced to probation?

     Have any of the accused been allowed to plea bargain?

     What were the results in each and every case?

Until such a time as you publish the legal results that your special prosecutors obtain in court, your grandstanding about your effectiveness at your job of protecting the heretofore "unprotected" is not worth the paper that it is printed on.

sapphoq n friends

Monday, March 10, 2014


     Socks. She had over twenty of them. Not in the sense of "We're all socks here." No. Pathetic socks. Socks that tweeted to each other. Carried on whole conversations. Complimented each other as they collectively bashed in the figurative heads of Those Who Dared To Disagree.

     Those Who Dared To Disagree were especially troublesome to her. She valued her cheer-leading squad-- the few she had found-- and verbally assaulted Those Who Dared To Disagree. She flung around her favorite word at them. See here. Take that. Pedophile. Or sometimes, Paedophile.

     Just as in real life, she ran after anyone she thought she could suck into her web of deceit. Anyone who didn't respond or didn't jump on her bandwagon became her target. And there were many of those. She claimed that they were trolls on the payroll. 

     Trolls on the payroll were vicious and nasty things. They were Those Who Dared To Disagree. They had committed the ultimate sin. They deserved her hatred. They were hideous. She despised them. 

     She was a pathetic woman with pathetic socks who held pathetic conversations and tweeted pathetic links to her pathetic writing. She thought she had it going on. Go figure.

                       ~ sapphoq, a troll on the payroll? ~

Please credit this "story" to sapphoq if you reproduce this in any media, although I don't know why you would want to reproduce this anywhere.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Revenge

   The Cold Slut, formerly of Philadelphia, was dead. She left her sister-- The Warmed Over Slut, a.k.a. Berta Knumknutz Malifer-- one cat. Berta was not crazy about cats, particularly this cat. She had gone to the house to retrieve the monster. The thing spat at her and pissed on her fine hosiery as she struggled to stuff it into the cat carry box.

The thing's name was Puffkin. Why on earth would my sister name it 'Puffkin,' Berta thought. Puffkin let out a huge yowl and farted. He [for it was definitely a male; his huge testicles were evidence] braced four massive paws against the sides of the box. He hissed mightily. Just goes to show that Men Are Pigs, Berta groaned inwardly. All Men Are Pigs. And this is the Pig Planet.

When the brackish fumes parted, Berta saw that Puffkin was now inside the box and purring. Damn personality-disordered cat. Just like my dead sister.

Berta slid the door closed. She lifted the carry box-- shit, Puffkin was heavy-- and hauled it out to her waiting car. She slid the box into the front passenger seat and lamely fastened the seat belt around her uh, prize. She had to hurry. She was expected the next day at her job. She was the C.E.O. of Needy People Day Care.

It was a job that she hated. All day and every day, needy people crowded her and shouted their horrid histories at her. Even the presence of a shrimpy assistant did not help. She lived, breathed, and ate needy people. Yet, Berta's holy and pure soul was full of goodness. She was zealous about her charges on the outside. She hated them with a passion inside her head but she kept those thoughts to herself.

Berta swerved into the cruising lane of the Penna Pike. She hated this road. She hated the cat. She hated her job and her life. She also hated her dentist. He was a man. And All Men Are Pigs. There were no women dentists within an hour of her crappy little town. With the price of gas these days, she had to make do with his alien sausage fingers rooting around in her mouth. She wanted to bash him. Mustn't think about that now.

Berta turned on the radio. I don't like you. Berta turned to stare at the cat in the box. She wasn't used to hearing voices since the crazy hippy acid days when she was young and pretending to be cool. A fifty-three footer rumbled by, nearly cutting her off. Berta jerked her eyes back onto the road and away from her dastardly passenger. I hate you. There it was again.

Berta raised the radio volume and started singing with the pop tune.  "I don't love you since you ate my pet frog's legs," she sang. She pretended that she was in Nashville getting discovered. Her hooters were the equals of Dolly's after all. Why shouldn't she have been carried away into the fame that she was supposed to have? Die! This last was screamed, causing a man in a small boxy car next to her to turn around and flip her the finger. 

"Will you just shut up?" Berta yelled. Make me, came the sinister reply. Berta punched at the radio. Two men were talking about the Illuminati coming to take over the earth. She didn't much care for conspiracy theories-- she was an oh so sensible give away the barn democrat-- but she left it on. Puffkin had settled down into the back of the box for a nap. Anything was better than listening to his snarky monologue while driving. Psychotic feline.

Finally, Berta saw her exit. She flew off the Pike and hurled her stupid car into the parking lot of her fancy smancy apartment building. She told her family back home that she lived in a condo but no one was fooled. Feed me. Berta struggled to extract the box from the car and carried it into the apartment building. A rumble and another fart.

Once inside the apartment, Berta let the cat out of the box. Puffkin explored the edges, left a calling card into the litter box she had set up for him, and then sashayed into the kitchen. Feed me. Feed me. Feed me.

"Oh alright," Berta said. "Here." She dumped some wet food into one saucer and dry into another. She set both down next to a fresh bowl of water. "I hope you're satisfied." Whatever. Warmed Over Slut. He grinned and laughed heartily.

Berta walked into the living room. She flopped onto her favorite and only easy chair. The remote was on the tasteful little table next to her. She clicked on the teevee. The Men Are Pigs channel had another all day marathon movie session. The movies were always about how women were abused by men. She settled down into a story about how a man had horribly murdered a woman. It was satisfying. She forgot about the menace in her kitchen.

Suddenly, a crash. Berta shook her glazed over eyes back into focus. That stupid smelly thing was sitting on her chest. Human. You are a piece of work. Berta was afraid. Why oh why didn't she just take Puffkin to the no-kill shelter? Or refused her dead sister's gift? The cat kneaded her stomach with sharpened claws. He turned around, shoving his butt up to her mouth. Instantly, she understood. His fangs popped out and he began to feed.

                          ~ sapphoq n "friends" yeah right ~

Please credit story to sapphoq if you reproduce this in any media, although I don't know why you would want to reproduce this anywhere.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ala-Pup Meeting

Sirius The Kitten: Welcome to the We Are Wonderful Group of Ala-Pup. My name is Sirius.

Bramble The Cat: Bramble.

Blondie The Dog: Blondie. Hey, why do you get to chair, Sirius? This is an Ala-Pup meeting. It's not an Ala-Kitty meeting.

Sirius The Kitten: Excuse me please. The dog is out of order. You'll get your turn, Blondie. Now go lay down over there and shut up.

Blondie The Dog: You're bossy. 

Sirius The Kitten: The Preamble. Ala-Pup is an organization set up to help four-footeds understand and care for their two-footeds properly. We put the fun back into dysfunctional. We help other four-footed to properly manage their two-footeds.

These are the steps of Ala-Pup:
1.   We admitted that our two-footeds were puzzling and not responding to our training very well, making our lives screwed up.
2.   We decided that putting in extra effort and helping each other to brainstorm led to better results than we had achieved on our own.
3.   We started attending meetings of Ala-Pup.
4.   We made a list of the assets and liabilities of our two-footeds.
5.   We shared our list at the local Ala-Pup meeting and got suggestions on how to improve our two-footeds.
6.   We committed to a training schedule, whether our two-footeds agreed or not.
7.   We continued to train our two-footeds regardless of what they said about it.
8.   We examined the results of our training efforts monthly.
9.   We revised our training programs as needed.
10.  We promptly admitted to each other our exasperation so that we would not take it out on our poor dumber two-footeds.
11.  We praised our two-footeds whenever they deserved it.
12.  We carried the message of Ala-Pup to other four-footeds who wanted happier lives with their two-footeds.

To qualify: My name is Sirius. I was dumped into a shelter as a baby where some nice women fussed over me and took care of me as best they could. One day, a couple adopted me and brought me home. There was an older cat there and a dog. They were sad because their younger kitty companion had died unexpectedly.

During the first month, I was called upon to be a crying rag for one of the two-footeds in particular. I found the local Ala-Pup meeting and committed to training the two-footeds that we share our home with. I saw results. There was a drastic increase in play time and toys. I was impressed.

During my second month, I had settled in nicely and began training the dog. I am still here. Ala-Pup helps me to keep the two-footeds under control. A happy cat makes for happy dogs and happy two-footeds. Thank-you.

Anyone have a topic for discussion? 

Blondie The Dog: This is an Ala-Pup meeting. I should be the chair, not you Sirius.

Sirius The Kitten: No one? Very well then. Let's--

Bramble The Cat: Whatever. Can we get on with it? It's almost time for my nap.

Blondie The Dog: Dammit Sirius.

Sirius The Kitten: A-hem. That's quite enough. Let's talk about how to counter resentments in our two-footeds and our doggie companions. Bramble, will you start please? 

c 2014 and beyond. This bad skit may be reproduced as long as you give credit to 
   sapphoq for its' origin.