Squirrels Win, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

When it comes to endurance and the persistence of species, I’m pretty sure it’s the rodents who’ll triumph in the end.

One day a few autumns ago I was sitting at my desk writing when I heard a noise at the window.  You can tell I had to be quick with the camera — that inquiring nose is not quite in focus.

Squirrel looks in the upstairs window.

It wasn’t until later that I noticed all the upstairs window frames had bite marks on them.

I thought this was pretty cute until I investigated and saw the places where the window sills and the siding over the garage had been chewed up. See the holly next to the house? It’s history now, along with some overhanging tree branches. I expect the squirrels can get up the side of the house without any help, but why make the trip so easy?

The contractor who came to fix and paint insisted on installing a fake owl on the roof. “It’ll scare the squirrels away,” he said.

Fake roof-owl for scaring squirrels.

Would this look scare you away? (assuming you wanted to eat the house)

“Hah!” I said, “But OK, as long as you don’t put it in front.” The owl endures too, ‘watching’ from the roof of the back porch. And, to be fair, the squirrels haven’t eaten much siding lately, but then, there’s a vocal family of real owls just across the street, so maybe they’re helping too.

As for me, I’m still trying to persist in downsizing, but some days I’m short on endurance.

Wish me luck?


Meanwhile, here’s an owl serenade from my front yard:

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

A 1918 Time Capsule, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

Not long ago I came upon a mystery packet of photos and documents, including this 1918 photo. It’s 8 inches high, probably 4 foot long (ish), packed in a roll, and fragile. I was afraid to unroll the whole thing lest I damage it. It was, of course, in my basement. Here’s a detail:

Company 'B' S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS, 1918. The armistice came in November. I hope these soldiers didn't have to go.

Company ‘B’ S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS, 1918. The armistice came in November that year. I hope these soldiers didn’t have to go.

With this photo were two High School yearbooks from Kansas City MO, 1916 and 1920. At first I couldn’t imagine how these things came to be in a box with my stuff, then I found names on some accompanying documents and realized they were papers that belonged to the people who lived in my Kansas City house before I did. I bought the house from their estate.

We came to Georgia in a corporate move. I can only think that when the company sent movers to pack up the house, they were able to find some cubbyhole I never happened to run across when I lived there.

I’m sorry the photo has been rolled up and stored for decades, first in one house, then another, in what to photographs is likely a hostile environment. Still it’s an interesting picture, with the geometry of its composition — all those crossed legs on the front row — and its poignant glimpse into preparation for a long-ago war that caused such devastation. Here’s a look at a larger portion of the photo:

SATC Lawrence KS 1918

S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS 1918

 Something else occurred in the fall of 1918 that may have threatened some of these soldiers. The “Spanish Flu” epidemic of 1918 started that October, a deadly pandemic that killed more people than the war did. According to the article I’ve linked to below, the S.A.T.C barracks were used as makeshift hospitals.

This is as far as I unrolled the picture:

S.A.T.C. Lawrence KS 1918

S.A.T.C. was a precursor of R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corps)

My house’s former owners were Leonard and Elsie Rehard. I see on their marriage certificate that she was Elsie V. Walker. I don’t think they had children, but I don’t know for certain. There is an Elsie Walker as a Senior in the 1920 yearbook that was stored along with this photo. I didn’t see Mr Rehard in either book, but there were a couple of Walker boys. Perhaps Elsie had a brother among the soldiers.

I emailed the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka about the photo (they took Bob’s yearbooks), and I’m happy to say they wanted it. I’ve already mailed it out and it should arrive soon.  I’ll save the yearbooks for another post, but here’s a teaser…

The Overall Club - Northeast High School 1920

The Overall Club, Northeast High School, Kansas City MO, 1920

So glad the war is over — What do you think? Handsome, yes?

Related articles:

S.A.T.C. The Student Army Training Core at Lawrence Kansas

1918 flu: The grim reaper closes (Kansas University) campus.

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

Cleaning the Basement, Irony, Bad Puns, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

My adventures of late have been brave expeditions to the depths — of the basement.  It’s hard to imagine why I had these irons. Was I concerned about keeping my clothes pressed after the revolution, or maybe after the ‘pulse’?

This is a gas iron. Can you imagine?

A gas powered iron.

What can I say? I used to like to buy weird, um, stuff in flea markets.

I found some pictures of this ‘Diamond’ gas iron that indicate it was sold in the 1930’s. That surprised me. I would have guessed it was older.

Speaking of older –

'Asbestos' sad irons

I don’t know where these came from. Sometimes I think things get into my basement through a warp in the space-time continuum.

Would you recognize them as irons? I checked eBay and I see these are called ‘sad irons’ —   :-(    I’m all for good grooming but I’m glad I don’t need to use these. (and by the way, the extras are so you can always have one that’s hot) I have so much respect for women of previous generations.

Flash of guilt: I just remembered, my mother used to iron my clothes for me when I was in school, back in the pre-permanent-press days. Second flash of guilt: I wonder if the treatment used on fabrics now is harmful to the environment? Maybe that’s one more good reason to just wear T-shirts and jeans.

I do have a useable iron. When I cleaned out the cabinet in the laundry room, I even found a spare, so I must have needed them once. These days that’s pretty silly, and so 20th century. I use an iron once a year at most, usually if I’ve unpacked and cleaned up vintage linens, or got out my grandmother’s napkins and table cloth for Dinner Club.

My not-quite modern steam iron

My not-so-new steam iron looks a little like a happy bug in this photo.

I didn’t make it to Dragon Con on Labor Day weekend this year. That may be only the second time this millennium that I’ve missed it. Still I have lots of photos from previous cons, so in honor of this bad pun iron-adventure post, here’s one more iron — Iron Man:

 What do you think of his costume – are you impressed? And what shall I do with my antique irons?

A little more about irons:



And of course, more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Tree Leaves, Art-Glass Leaves, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

The fray (n.) came while I was gone last week, a stormy struggle between wind and trees that left my yard and driveway littered with sticks, branches, and leaves.  Meanwhile I was out looking at leaves of another kind–

Carnival glass with a pattern of blue leaves

Carnival glass with a pattern of blue leaves.

Now that I’m home I’m spending my time cleaning the yard, so this is a lazy post, with me reaching back to last week to find something fit for the topic. (And by the way, thank you trees, for remaining vertical, and thank you neighbors, for calling to warn me there’d been a storm and everything was ok, just messy.)

My antique dealer cousins — aka ‘The Pickers’ – took me along on an afternoon trip to Rockport MO, where we stopped at 3 Korners Antiques, home of the motherload of carnival glass. I hadn’t paid much attention to carnival glass before, but seeing it en masse, I finally realized how gorgeous it can be. This shop was like a mini-museum.

Carnival glass case

(I’m beginning to see the light)

Carnival glass case

Carnival glass: lovely! But it’s all peacocks — where are the chickens?

But wait – I just found this carnival glass chicken pinboard!

All these peacocks and leafy Art Nouveau and arts-and-crafts motifs reminded me that I recently found my old term paper on Art Nouveau from an Independent Study section in art history, way back. And yes, it had been living undiscovered in one basement after another for the last few decades. A glance through showed me that I didn’t mention carnival glass at all.

Carnival glass peacocks

I don’t know anything about the difference between old and new glass, I just took pictures of what was accessible. And shiny.

Carnival glass peacocks

Could I, in my snooty days, have seen the iridescence and the luster and considered it budget Tiffany?

Labeled Lalique

Something besides carnival glass: these little cuties were purportedly Lalique.

I left the store empty-handed, being in the mode of look-don’t-buy (plus, did you see the $-signs?). Still, I’m glad I thought to take these photos. Meanwhile, I’m hoping for another afternoon out with The Pickers next time I’m in town. As for now, I’m back to the job of cleaning up after the fray.

What do you think — peacocks or chickens?

Related posts:

Now for a 21st century moment: Rockport MO was the first town in the US to be powered solely by wind turbines

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray


Flea-Market Finds, an extra post for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

I made a flea-market stop the day before I found real silhouettes at the wildlife refuge. I thought it would be a good spot for a photo scavenger-hunt, so I’m making an extra post this week with my results.

Pony Express Clock silhouette from the Jesse James Antique Mall

Pony Express Clock, complete with silhouette, from the Jesse James Antique Mall

 I still love to look, but even though it’s tempting, photos are my only acquisitions these days. Flea Markets and Antique Malls are also good stops for price-checking and research for what to do with my own stuff. Here’s my photo gallery of ready-made silhouettes from bygone days —  a hundred-year survey courtesy of the Jesse James Antique Mall in St. Joe MO, and W.D. Pickers, just up the road a piece in Platte City.

(If you click through to the website, you can hover over each image, or click on any one to enlarge it)

I’m beginning to think this may be the start of a new pinboard.

Do you have any antique silhouettes?

Related post:

The Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Lewis and Clark, Squaw Creek, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

When I took this silhouette photo I didn’t notice the heron had a companion.  Now I see there’s a turtle too, or is that an artfully contrived bump on a log?

Heron in silhouette, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Heron in silhouette, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

I nearly always stop by Squaw Creek when I’m visiting in the midwest. By the time I go back in the fall, there’ll be millions of migrating geese and other water fowl. When I went looking for more silhouettes this trip, these two plucky ducks offered themselves.

Ducks in silhouette, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Ducks in silhouette, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge

As for Lewis and Clark, I grew up watching for these signs. Our explorers are pointing north and west, but when it came time for my own private Corps of Discovery, my route lay east, and I never got to follow them. This sign is just down the road a piece from Squaw Creek.

Louis and Clark Trail sign

Lewis and Clark Trail sign — we were looking for Big Lake. It’s just over yonder.

Meanwhile, I haven’t given up on downsizing, I just took a few vacation days. And I did take along some homework…

Care for some light airplane reading?

Stuff - Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

Stuff – Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things


Related articles:

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Nearby wind farming as a threat to wildlife

Working Toward a More Sustainable Yard, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Here’s my back yard, all texture no mowing – notice I stayed back far enough so you can’t see the weeds (there are several, but weeds are green too so what’s wrong with that).

Back yard with groundcover and perennials.

Back yard ground cover and perennials — the wide angle shot makes it look bigger than it is.

Ajuga spreading in the back yard.

A better view of the ajuga, aka bugleweed. I like the way the black-eyed susans, phlox, and hellebores plant themselves.

There are some beautiful lawns in my neighborhood, and I know a smooth sward of grass is a lovely contrast with the texture of pine a islands’ flowers, shrubs, and trees, but grass is more than I can manage.

Bob tried to teach me to care for the grass, and after his death I soldiered on for a while in his honor. My heart wasn’t in it though. Fertilizing and watering seemed pointless when I knew I had to reseed twice a year because of the shade, plus it’s scary to read the warnings on the packages of lawn treatment chemicals and see what I’m releasing into the environment for the sake of a lawn that I don’t want to mow anyway. A few years of drought taught me that ground covers live when grass doesn’t, and I decided to just let the ajuga have at it. Here’s the back yard in the spring of 2013, with the ajuga blooming, and here’s my first post about it.

Ajuga blooming in the back yard, spring 2013

Ajuga blooming, April 2013

It’s spread quite a bit since then, though there’s still a patch toward the back where it hasn’t filled in yet. As the growth gets tighter there’s a lot less weeding.

I’m trying to attract more insects and pollinators, so was happy to see these guys wander into my viewfinder when I wanted a close up of the black-eyed susan’s seeds for texture.

An ant and a green bee on rudbeckia.

An ant and a bee meet on a black-eyed susan seed head.

As for the front yard, that’s been a less successful transition to a grass-less state, but I’m not giving up. I’ll keep the tale of the galloping ivy (I didn’t plant that) and the lackluster liriope for another post.

 The only downside to eliminating the grass is that my yard-work doesn’t fit well into what lawn maintenance companies do, so if I wanted to hire help, it’d be hard to find. Not to mention we’d probably have conflicting opinions on what’s a weed and what’s a wildflower.

So what’ll it be? Grass or ground cover?

Here’s more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture