Cat TV, or, Who Said Pigs Don’t Fly?

Last year after much hemming and hawing, we purchased a bird feeder. (We are slow roasts, as I may have explained before. Rather ent-like in that way, we rarely do anything hasty.) This spring I decided it would look cool in the front yard, so that’s where I put it. A neighbor informed us that bird feeders aren’t allowed in the front yard, as per our neighborhood covenants. *sigh* I looked up the statute in question, and the feeders are not prohibited, but a resident is supposed to obtain approval from the HOA before installing one.

Operating on the premise that forgiveness is easier than permission, I have left it there. It’s out of seed anyway, because the last bag John bought, “Finch Supreme” (it’s kind of like a caramel pecan hot fudge sundae, only for birds, and healthier) was not non-germinating. Meaning, I have a bunch’o little green sproutlings in the rocks under the feeder. Another neighbor told me not to use weed-b-gon on the sproutlings because of the birds. The birds who liked this feeder best was a family of house finches that live, well, in our house. Or at least a little hole in the eaves or where the fascia board meets the brick…bascially in a little corner. Please pardon my shameful lack of construction vocabulary.

One reason I wanted to hang the feeder in the front is because I understand that the life of an indoor cat affords precious few opportunities for entertainment. At its current location, Gloria is able to sit in the front window and keep all manner of watches on the comings and goings of finches and sparrows. (Side note: a sparrow is not a chickadee. You don’t have to get yourself locked out of your house with your field guide to birds because your son was fooling around with the door lock while you investigated and then had to use a neighbor’s phone to call your husband to take an hour off work to come and unlock the stupid door. You likely don’t have chickadees, because they make too pretty of a sound, and you’d recognize it. Sparrows are cute too, though, and I am proud of you for not even losing your cool one bit at being locked out).

Now, however, the front feeder hangs empty and the cat has resumed her summer nap rerun schedule.

But! For my birthday, one of my clever friends gave me another feeder, and a bag of black oil sunflower seeds! This feeder is very cool, it looks like a lantern. We hung it in the back tree. I was concerned about squirrels, but I haven’t seen many of them lately (plague? it’s going around, you know). Apparently black oil sunflower is like a steak dinner followed by a caramel pecan hot fudge sundae, and you don’t even have to do the dishes. This bag does not say “non germinating” either, but I don’t care. The grass in the back yard is so poor, and it’s in a shady spot to boot, that I don’t think anything could grow in it. Plus, from the looks of it, there won’t be any seeds left to germinate. I have been finding shells all over the place.

We hung it up on Friday, and refilled it Monday night, and already it’s empty again. Our neighbors also have several feeders.

Who said pigs don’t fly?

It’s interesting, though. There is a definite pecking order here. Grackles are punks, both at the feeder and the birdbath. They try to scare all the smaller birds away. The doves, finches, sparrows and starlings all share pretty well. Worst of all is the downy woodpecker. He will even squawk at the grackle. Today he hogged the feeder while about twenty other birds were on the ground pulling up the seeds. We haven’t seen the robins lately, not sure where they went. It’s too bad, because I like Mr. Robin. He is cool with just the right amount of attitude. I speculate that because their nest got blown out of the tree in earlier storms (twice!) they may have had to relocate.

As I type this, a grackle is out there squawking at the empty feeder. Worse than a toddler at snack time.

And no, I am not concerned about wood peckers. I have a secret hope they or the squirrels will kill the big tree, so we’ll have to remove it, and will get more sunlight for the garden, and can plant a cherry tree or chokecherry bush or something better than a stupid water sucking, shoot sending, aphid attracting cottonwood.

It’s a tough call, though, because where would I hang the feeder if the cottonwood were gone? I’m sure not willing to share cherries or elderberries with the avian crowd. I can buy sour cherries but for the price of some seeds you can have cheap Cat TV. No long term contracts, no satellite required.

Who said pigs don

More hope


That, my friends, is a picture of hope. Okay, in truth it’s a picture of my Early Girl tomato plant. Oh, but the hope it instills in me…and maybe you can see the yucky dirt we have, even after it’s been amended three times in two years. The bricks are there to stop all the water from rushing down out of Tomato Valley. And yes, Kira, I applied mulch today–grass clippings! I was too lazy to save eggshells for the holes so I just sprinkled on some dolomite lime and mixed it in with my new Garden Claw Gold. Love the Garden Claw. My neighbor loves it too, and now she’s glad I won’t be asking to borrow hers every other weekend.


Above we have a Brandywine Tomato plant. It’s some kind of heirloom, maybe Amish…but I liked the cool name. Which came first, the river in Middle Earth or the tomato variety? I am only planting these two plants, because we joined a CSA this year and I’m waiting to find out what kind of tomato output we’ll get from them. I am through with cherry tomatoes. Done, I tell you. All the work of a regular tomato plant and just silly little tomatoes that don’t seem to yield much flavor. Next year if I get my act together sooner, I might order some funky heirloom seeds and put in a few more plants. The truth is, my biggest use of tomatoes is for green tomato mincemeat. Ah, but it’s much too early to hope for that now.


“Plant a zucchini,” they said. “It’s the one thing you can’t mess up,” I was told. Ha! So here we have another picture of hope, and evidence that gardeners are not insane…at least this one. Given that a popular definition (thanks to Thos. Jefferson) for insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result, I am here to tell you I am not insane about gardening. This zucchini is in a different, sunnier spot than last year. I think that’s what did it in last year, not enough sun. We have a huge cottonwood tree hogging up most of the water and sunlight in our back yard, so even though I have space, I don’t have ideal vegetable growing conditions. My friend and fellow CSA member Helen warns me that we’ll be getting tons of zucchini, but I’ll believe it when I see it. One can only hope!


Here again, more proof. This watermelon is planted in the same spot as last year, but it’s a different variety…smaller with a shorter growing span (sugarbaby sweets). There were two watermelon plants last weekend, but an early hail storm destroyed one of them. Better now than in August, methinks.


And here, my daughter’s attempt to be a gardener. It’s chamomile, which she planted from seed. Interesting how her enthusiasm waned as soon as they were planted. She put popsickle stick markers in everything but hasn’t even labeled them yet. Luckily she knows that these are chamomile and not the basil.

This year, I have accomplished (well, I’ve attempted) something I’ve wanted to do for about ten years now. Yes, I’m a slow roast. Finally I have some forget-me-nots in for the girl (and my mother) and some sweet williams in for the boy. Forget-me-nots are perennials but you can grow them in pots! Sweet williams are biennial so I probably won’t get flowers until next year. But good things come to those who wait. And hope.

One of those coincidences, that’s not really a coincidence

Because I don’t believe in coincidences, after all.

The other night, John and I were watching The Emperor’s Club which is one of my favorite movies. It makes me wish I had learned Greek better, and Latin, and reminds me of (at least) one reason I chose to homeschool. Plus, there are cool soundbites from learned Classical philosophers. The one that struck me the other night, though, was Heraclitus: “A man’s character is his destiny.”

Heraclitus is my favorite pre-Socratic philosopher. Much of what he wrote survived only in fragments, and indeed his sayings are numbered such. It’s astonishing to me that these things have survived at all. (Side note: I recently finished A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas Basbanes, about the history of collecting books. Fascinating. I recommend it.)

Okay. So, in this movie there is a character who is a total moral failure. His teacher finally realizes that it’s not surprise that the student is so, after all, a man’s character is his destiny. You might say, a leopard can’t change his spots. Or I’ve heard Maya Angelou say, if someone shows you who they are, believe them. It’s pretty much all the same thing, only Heraclitus is more eloquent.

I started to wonder, though, is that really true? Is our character our destiny? And then it came back to me, something I’d read on Bonovox not too long ago, where he quoted St. John Chrysostom: that the only thing we can take with us to the great hereafter are the virtues we have acquired while we were on earth. Insofar as we have acquired mercy or patience or love, that is what we will take with us. (Forgive my awful paraphrase). So! Do you see it? Those virtues are indeed our character, and they are indeed our destiny.

I was explaining my thoughts to John and he said maybe St. John C was talking about this passage in 1 Corinthians, and he reads me 1 Cor. 3:9-17. That was the epistle reading for Sunday, but I didn’t know it at the time (because I have been a slacker). The funny thing is, neither did he. It was a complete coincidence! Or was it?

Of course not!

orthodox epistemology

“A true philosopher is one who perceives in created things their spiritual Cause, or who knows created things through knowing their Cause, having attained a direct, unmediated faith, and a union with God that transcends the intellect. He does not simply learn about divine things, but actually experiences them.”
– Saint Gregory of Sinai

Would that I knew that ca. 1991.

It’s here! I can’t believe it either.

Glory to God in the Highest! Our family is being chrismated next Sunday, Sept. 4. We’re all sponsored. Can’t say that we are all prepared, because really, how could we be? But if excitement, trepidation or nervousness has anything to do with it, we’re covered.

We would welcome your prayers!