The Importance of Zigging (vs) Zagging….

Posted by Posted in Cartoons & Jokes, Humor & Satire, Nature & Wildlife Posted on 19-12-2017

It has always been refreshing to me personally when I read something about a squirrel (aka Tree Rat) zigging when he should have been zagging….

The Christmas Bird….

Posted by Posted in Cartoons & Jokes, Holidays & Special Occasions, Humor & Satire, Nature & Wildlife Posted on 14-12-2017

Ran across this from some years back and thought you might enjoy. At any rate, it is my contribution to this year’s Christmas cheer…. 🙂

Roof Top & Gutter Gardening….

Posted by Posted in Complaints & Grievances, Humor & Satire, Nature & Wildlife Posted on 18-10-2017

Just a little observation of note from this past summer….

It came to my attention as I gazed around from my patio one morning this past summer that one of my neighbors must have planted their yearly tomato garden on the roof of their house. Needless to say this seemed extremely odd to me. But my initial observation concluded that it could not have been anything else. You can make your own judgement from the photos just below….

Then not long after I noticed a large apparent weed growing from my next door neighbors gutter. There were actually three or four of them along a stretch of gutter some thirty-feet long or so. These growing freaks of nature were not as alien to me as the previously noted tomato patch I discussed. They were simply the result of a gutter full of foreign material such as leaves, dirt, and acorns which had compacted themselves into the perfect medium to grow plants as reflected in the photo below….

While making these observations of my neighbors homes and perhaps some measure of neglect on their part in home landscaping I could not but gloat over my decision some years back to have the “Leaf Guard” gutter system installed on my home. A bit pricey but one of the best home investments I ever made.

Now before I give the impression that I am completely taken with myself, might I note that I did not have the “Leaf Guard” system installed on my patio roof since it did not lend itself to such a system. So the patio roof system was subject to the same invasion of foreign materials compatible for plant growth as any other open gutter.

So after due ridicule of my neighbors and their rooftop gardens I decided to step out into the backyard and look at my immaculate patio gutters just for one last ego boost regarding the subject. Expecting of course to see the results of a well-cared for gutter I was greeted by one of those green aliens of my own growing right in the center of my gutter….

It goes without saying that my pride had taken a huge hit, not to mention that over the next few days I would be working as time permitted to clean my own gutter out. Pretty much over the embarrassment now, I am proud to say I am no longer a card-carrying member of the local neighborhood roof gardening club. I ultimately of course concluded that these roof growing freaks of nature were simply the results of neglect on the part of my neighbors and unfortunately myself for not cleaning off their roofs nor cleaning out their gutters in a timely manner, thus avoiding the ridicule and embarrassment associated with such neglect. 🙁

The Tenderness of Motherhood….

Posted by Posted in Cartoons & Jokes, Humor & Satire, Nature & Wildlife Posted on 04-02-2017

Originally Published November 3, 2009

The tenderness of motherhood exists throughout the world we live and we humans, as well as our animal counterparts, seem to honor and exhibit that tenderness of motherhood in exemplary fashion. A tenderness that is exhibited whether it is…..

Motherhood 1On A Riverbank….

Motherhood 2In The Artic….

Motherhood 3On the African Serengeti….

Motherhood 4In the Oceans….

Motherhood 5In the Jungles of India


Motherhood 6At a City Park Near You

The Demise of the Plains Buffalo

Posted by Posted in General Information, Historical Places & Events, Nature & Wildlife Posted on 28-08-2016

The Bison Trail - 1908 - 2

Certainly most all of us have either read or heard tales of the demise of the huge herds of Bison that were so predominate and plentiful in the early 1800’s. I recently realized that I was certainly educated with regard to the referenced demise but possessed little to no perspective on its magnitude. That all changed when by happenstance I ran across the photograph shown below.

The Bison Demise - 02

The Bison Demise - 03I found that photo personally to be a stark kick in the behind, a reality check if you will. I had seen numerous drawings and paintings in the past such as the one just to the left depicting in some manner the demise of the numerous buffalo herds but apparently none of them had any real sobering effect at the time. I suspect, at least for me, that many drawings and paintings depicting such events border on entertainment rather than journalistic documentation such as the above photo with a mountain of buffalo skulls and horns.

As history informs us, as the 19th century was nearing its end the Bison population had been all but decimated. With a growing population of upwards of some 30 – 60 million at the beginning of the 19th century, by the late 1880\’s there were as few as 1000 left and the Great Plains buffalo was at the edge of extinction. William Hornaday, a noted conservationist of the times, estimated the total population of Bison in 1889 to be 85 free ranging, 200 in the Yellowstone National Park federal herd, 550 at Great Slave Lake in Canada and 200 in zoos and private herds. By 1902 there were only 23 buffalo estimated to be in the Yellowstone National Park herd and 700 in private herds.

I ran across a couple of other additional journalistic photographs that further added to the stark realization of the human inflicted tragedy that befell our subject animal. One can only ponder at what our forefathers were thinking as they plundered these herds. On the other had, history has certainly taught us that when there is a great bounty, there is likewise an accompanying of great waste.

The Bison Demise - 01

The second of the two photographs is noted as being taken in Dodge City, Kansas in 1878 at the Rath & Wright Buffalo Hide Yard showing an estimated 40,000 buffalo hides stacked in one location in their hide yard. And let me note that a larger view of the subject photos can be seen by clicking on them…

Rath & Wright\'s Buffalo Hide Yard in 1878 showing 40,000 buffalo hides - Dodge City, Kansas

It would have probably under normal circumstances never even crossed my mind as to the history and demise of the Great Plains buffalo. After all, I had seen the film “Dances with the Wolves” where there was one traumatic scene showing the waste left by white hunters in their quest for hides. But in reality that scene did not even scratch the surface of that crime against nature when viewed in these few photographs.

In closing I should note that the current North America estimated Bison population including Canada herds, the Yellowstone National Park herd, zoos and private herds is inclusive of approximately 500,000 buffalo. It took less than 100 years to decimate a population of between 30 – 60 million buffalo and over 100 years to bring that population back to only a half-million. 🙁

Chimney Swifts & Childhood Memories….

Posted by Posted in Biographical Scrapbooking, Nature & Wildlife Posted on 14-06-2016

Flying Chimney SwiftRecently while sitting on my patio and sipping on a cup of coffee I looked up into the sky above me and was quite startled at what I was seeing. Something that I realized in the moment I had not seen for many, many years. It was two unmistakably identifiable “Chimney Swifts” flying high above in the late spring sky. Their circling and unmistakable silhouettes brought back a flood of childhood memories. It also brought to light the fact that I had neither thought of nor missed their existence in my life for some sixty years. On this day however of making their re-acquaintance, they were there briefly, then gone and not seen since.

Back in the 40’s and 50’s on any given moment in the summertime you could look up in the southern skies of Arkansas and see varying numbers of the birds sailing the skies and pursuing their illusive insect prey. From early morn until late evening they were always there as their silhouettes peppered the summer skies.

Chimney swifts are probably not on anyone’s list of favorite birds. I can’t recall in recent memory ever seeing any report or wildlife documentary on television inclusive of any measure of information regarding the species. I suspect the bird’s lack of popularity is pretty much due to its overall secluded nature and nesting habits. After all, you will never, ever see one at your bird feeder or on a nearby tree branch bursting forth with beautiful song. They never land except to return to their roosts or nests which are almost always chimney type structures where they cling to the sides of the structure. They also congregate in these roosting areas much in the same manner as the familiar communal bat.

Chimney Swift In-Hand 02I have actually only ever seen one up close when a neighbor of ours back in my childhood days came over with one he had found outside in his driveway that had been hurt. Knowing that most people have never seen one up close and personal he brought it over for us all to take a gander. That would be my first and my last time to ever see one of the winged creatures up close and personal.

Chimney Swift RangeGiven my curiosity into my perceived disappearance of the Chimney Swift from my summer skies, it was only fitting that I do a little research on the subject. It was noted by one reputable source, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, that the species has suffered sharp declines in decades due to the disuse of chimneys across their summer breeding grounds. In 2010 it was noted that there threatened species category was elevated from “least concerned” to “near threatened”. Now that is nowhere near the ‘endangered’ category but nevertheless, does reflect significant decreases in the population. It was also noted in my research that large weather events such as hurricanes can have serious impacts on the populations living in their paths. The migration map noted on the left reflects the migration of these birds, the ‘blue’ shaded area in South America reflects their winter resident area while the ‘yellow’ shaded area in North America reflects their summer breeding grounds.

As I often these days find myself reflecting on the memories of days gone by, I could not forsake the memories of looking up and seeing these birds, always there in flight and simply a standard fixture to any summer day. So when I look up these days into that same old summer sky, I now ponder the stark realization that it too no longer reflects those remembered and cherished childhood days for those chimney swift silhouettes are no longer painted across my elderly sky.

Invasion of the Acorn Hoarders….

Posted by Posted in Automobiles, Biographical Scrapbooking, General Information, Nature & Wildlife, Photography Posted on 29-12-2015

It just doesn’t seem possible to me, at least at the moment, to relate the latest disconcerting and aggravating episode of life’s trials put upon me in any sort of condensed version. So I must bear the toil of ascribing this latest trial to you in some detail as it winds its seemingly never ending path while you, should you even dare, must tag along and endure what will surely seem to be a journalistic maze.

It would seem critters of all sorts, sizes and family origins have perhaps been bewitched by the wicked Mother Nature of the East and set upon me to taunt, harass and just in general make life here in the neighborhood dark and miserable. It seems to have all begun summer before last….

Cardinal MessPerhaps you’ll might remember the persistent male Cardinal that spent the summer fighting the other male Cardinal he was seeing in my side view car mirror and making a mess of both my mirror and my car door (no pun intended). Well if you forgot note click on the photo just to the left or you can refresh your memory with all the gory details ‘here’.

I eventually resolved that critter crisis when this past September, unbeknownst to me, I was about to be besieged by yet more bewitched critters. It all started innocently enough with my clothes dryer. I went to dry some washed clothes one morning and when I turned on my dryer I heard quite a disconcerting rattling sound coming from the vicinity of my dryers vent hose. The sound only lasted for a couple of seconds and then everything sounded fine. Next time I did a wash and it was time to dry the clothes, same thing, a brief rattling sound coming from the dryer then everything was fine.

Well, if you’re like me disconcerting sounds from a clothes dryer tend to send up all sorts of red flags, the most serious of course is perhaps the potential fire danger from a malfunctioning dryer. So I finally called an appliance repair company who came out and after a brief examination could not find an issue but noted several acorns on my patio around the dryer vent and suggested that it might be some small critter using my vent hose as a place to hide his acorn stash and each time I turned on my dryer it would blow them out of the vent and on to my patio.

My dryer vent seemed too small for a squirrel to enter so I assumed it must be some sort of mouse or small rat. Then only a couple of nights later I had gotten up out of bed in the middle of the night to go tinkle and while standing there heard what sounded like gnawing just below where I was standing under the floor. That was very upsetting to me because I am almost fanatical about insuring that nothing can get inside my home’s crawl space from the outside. If the sound was indeed emanating from under the house whatever it was would have surely had to burrow from outside and then under the house foundation to get under the house.

Next morning after getting up I went outside and inspected the outside of the house near where I had heard the gnawing that night but saw no evidence at all of any burrowing or possible access for a critter to get under the house. But it is fall and there are lots of leaves everywhere, perhaps I could miss something. At any rate I broke out my stash of small mouse traps. That first day I set my first one on the patio along the side of the house near the opening to the dryer vent. Next morning, Walla….


Just to be sure there wasn’t more than one of those critters I set the mouse trap again but set this one on the other end of my patio near wear I had heard the gnawing and next morning, Walla….


After that second night I tallied up the score and I saw it as, Alan-2/Mice-0! And it is certainly worth noting that those results were confirmed as final. Just in case, I set a mouse trap under the house for a few days and caught nothing. Also there were no more rattling noises emanating from the dryer and that has remained so to date. So, problem resolved right? Wrong….

It was just like any other partially warm, sunny December day as I got in my car to head out for my weekly grocery shopping. As I was backing out of the drive I hit my windshield washer lever just to clean off my windshield a bit. “Uh oh, nothing but a whirring sound and no fluid coming out onto the windows. Well crap!” I thought to myself, “I’m out of washer fluid.” But that was okay because I knew I actually had a gallon or so in my storage room so I would just have to remember to refill the reservoir in the next day or two.

And so it was a few days later that I went out to take care of that little chore. After struggling to get the hood open on my Chrysler and getting one of those lovely blood spots I posted about a few days ago, I finally got the hood open. It was at that very moments that complete shock ensued when I got a look at what was under my hood. Every little crick and cranny under that hood had acorn shells piled in them, including bunches of them on top of the engine itself.

When I saw them in the little indentations and cubby holes on and around the engine it was a bit alarming. Fortunately my driving normally consists of little jaunts here or little jaunts there, but if I had driven the car long enough to really heat up that engine I’m not sure those things might not have caught fire. They looked like fresh kindling lying around everywhere but of course those literally on the engine themselves being the most disconcerting.

I inspected the compartment as best I could quite honestly expecting to find wires or hoses having been gnawed on or damaged. Fortunately there was no visible evidence of damage or of any sort of nest building, just tons of acorn shells. Oddly enough, there were no whole acorns at all, just bits and pieces of shells and the accompanying photographs will bear out.

So I got out my leaf blower and blew all the acorn remnants out from under my hood and when I finished things looked pretty normal to me. So I put up my leaf blower, closed the hood and got into the car to test the windshield washer just to make sure it was working again. Bad news! It still wasn’t working. I could hear the pump running but now washer coming out of the window sprayers.

As you can imagine I wasn’t happy about that outcome but I was happy about finding out about my acorn hoarders thus averting which may have caused a serious engine fire at some point. So for the moment that in itself might have been better in the short term that repairing the windshield washer.

But now my attention turned to my favorite little car, my Geo Metro which is parked right next to my Chrysler. I thought that surely it had also fallen victim to the critter hoarders. As expected, opening the hood on the Geo did in fact reveal the deeds of their apparent numerous visits. Yet more acorn shells tucked here and there once again in every crick and cranny. When I found this mess under the hood of my Chrysler I failed to get any photographs of the deed but that wasn’t the case this time. Below are photos of the Geo engine compartment and as usual, be sure to click on image to enlarge….

Geo Engine Compartment - 02

Geo Engine Compartment - 04
Geo Engine Compartment - 03

My detective work to date has not produced any real satisfying results as to the origin of the acorn shells. In trying to decide whether it was squirrels or rats I thought the ‘poop’ configuration might give me a solid clue. Well as luck would have it, the poop configuration for rats and squirrels is all but identical. And it is quite evident in the above photographs since there are definite ‘poop’ samples available for viewing.

As far as how my windshield washer malfunction plays into all this, well I went to my local auto repair station shortly thereafter and after opening my hood and searching out the washer hose path the service technician almost immediately found a small severed washer hose. He trimmed the two severed ends, slipped on a small length of shrink-tubing and I was back in business. And…. it only cost me $10.

So… obviously I will have to remain vigilant and be on the lookout for any further developments regarding this matter. I could put some hope in the possibility that the two rats/mice that I did send to their demise just might be the culprits behind this deed as well, time will tell I suppose. 🙁

The Week in Photography….

Posted by Posted in Food & Cooking, General Information, Nature & Wildlife, Photography Posted on 21-10-2015

I don’t get in as much photography as I use to unfortunately. Goodness, even that statement implies I’m doing at least some but no, not really. If a subject is just begging to be captured in a photo, happens to fall into my lap so to speak and the camera is handy I may actually get up off my ass and try my luck at taking some measure of a photograph, but nothing like I use to do.

Last week while sitting on my patio a very large grasshopper made his appearance on one of my landscape timbers right in front of me. A rather handsome specimen I thought, assuming that you even like grasshoppers, so I begrudgingly got out of my chair to go get my camera with little hope the grasshopper would even be there when I returned. But alas, upon my return there he was and he seemed quite willing to strut his stuff for the camera….

Grasshopper 01(Click to Enlarge)

Grasshopper 02(Click to Enlarge)

Then this past weekend when supper time rolled around I declared it “chicken night”. I decided to cook up a small batch of my extra crispy, extra greasy, famous chicken wings. Not normally being one associated with the many food photographers that seem to inhabit our planet, I just could not help myself when I took a look at my famous chicken wings lying on that plate so off I went in pursuit of the camera. A few minutes later the photographic deed was done and then it was time to express my sincerest condolences to those chicken wings and put them out of their misery!

Big Bro’s Extra Crispy Chicken Wings(Click to Enlarge)

And there you have it, this week in photography as seen through the eyes of a very lazy photographer. Not impressed? Well, I’m not sure I am either but sometimes you just have to give it your best shot (no pun intended) and move on with some hope better times lie ahead. 🙂

My Resident Female…. Up close and personal!

Posted by Posted in Backyard Birding, Nature & Wildlife, Photography Posted on 03-09-2015

I have been spending some time lately trying to improve my photographic skills when it comes to photographing hummingbirds. My recent posting showing a bit of jousting between a Ruby-Throated male and female at my feeder seemed sufficient enough to display the action but lacked the ‘pop’ I like to see in a photograph.

In pursuit of that goal here are a couple of photos I took a couple of days ago of the female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird who is the favorite of my summer visitors this year. Since I don’t have but a few regular visitors anyway, it is fairly easy to keep up with who’s who.

By the way, if you look at the enlarged versions of the photos you can actually see bits of pollen on top of her head apparently gathered from a recent visit to a flower, especially in the second one. Thought that was sort of cool….

Hummer 07(Click to Enlarge)

Hummer 08(Click to Enlarge)

And with regard to storms and falling trees….

Posted by Posted in Nature & Wildlife, News & Current Events Posted on 29-05-2015

I suppose that everyone who may live in storm prone areas and also has trees in their yards does at some point worry about one of them falling on their home during a high winds event. Could not help but notice in the newspaper recently a published photo which showed what one unfortunate local resident had to deal with when it came to fallen trees due to storms in their area….

Hot Springs Arkansas - Wind Storm & Trees

Now granted, when most of us think about a tree falling on our homes I doubt if many, if any, ever entertain the thought of six trees falling on their home!