Mabel and Gus (maybe it’s a duck)

For several years two mallard ducks have come to my bird feeders each Spring for early morning or pre-dusk meals.  It took a while to learn their names, but this year – finally – Mabel and Gus!  When I see them under the feeders, I feel ridiculously happy.  Gus will usually keep watch while Mabel enthusiastically scoops up mixed feed the sparrows and squirrels have scattered.  Eventually Gus will eat but he and Mabel are cautious and likely to lift off for no reason apparent to me. After they eat, they head over to the street to see if there is any water in the gutters – the past few days there has been plenty.

Last year I noticed that Mabel tends to determine how long the visits last – at some point she would walk away from the feeders and shake her head vigorously.  Gus would quickly move toward her and shake his head in the same fashion.  Next, both would shake their heads in unison and suddenly take flight (I observed this many times last Spring).  I looked for information about duck communication on the Internet, but came up empty on the subject.  Whatever it means, it is sure nice to have them back!

(The pink flamingo is an extra that my neighbor included at the feeder.  Mabel seemed puzzled by but interested in it).  Please excuse the poor photo quality – it’s hard to get pics of skittish ducks using a phone camera from inside a house through a window screen.

Indiana Spring

loving cows

Northwest Indiana is mainly pancake-flat with some gently rolling hills tucked around corners waiting to surprise. Driving a twisting road recently admiring the freshly-turned, neatly manicured fields which will transform into seas of corn stalks in just a few months, I was swept away by the beauty of Spring in the Great Lakes region.

Decorative grasses and a windbreak alongside a white frame farmhouse bent sensuously to gusty winds; forsythia bushes, untouched by pruning shears, were dancing flames. My car window was open and a pasture filled with black-speckled bovine exuded the earthy aroma of manure and sweet hay.  Red-winged blackbirds dotted fence posts and mallards tilted with a wind wall to reach a blue pond sparkling in a farmyard. First blooms on trees and shrubs along the road, shades of red, purple, delicate pink and white, provided a sudden splash of color relieving Winter’s grays and browns.

The spring-soft air tousled my hair and reminded me once again why people fall in love this time of year.

(originally published on on 4/16/2011 – edited for this publication)

Combat Zone


                     roger hargreaves

(originally published on on 3/28/2011 and edited for this publication)

The word toddlers worldwide choose not to acknowledge was uttered in the wake of countless attempts by an ungainly two-year-old girl with a tangle of brown curls covering her head to wreak havoc on the living room and all it’s occupants.


Mommy had spoken!

With a stomp of her foot and a severely down-turned lower lip, Little Miss Scary blew a gust of upset and unhappiness out nostrils clotted with ropey, greenish-yellow snot.  With results no decongestant can produce, a lumpy spray of gunk exited her nose holes and speckled the sleeve of her mother’s blouse and the side of mommy’s made up face.  Spying me, Scary made a move toward my perch on the edge of a too-soft, stained sofa, sizing me up as she approached.  While it was likely that much of the nasty congealed contents of her snout had already been purged, I was regretting my decision not to don a HazMat suit before heading out for my work day.

Scary stopped just short of me, tilting her head back as if to take aim.  Her nostrils appeared to pulsate with her desire to share her discontent.  Taking in a big breath, she expelled it forcefully out her nose.  Two things happened.  I quickly moved my things and as much of myself as possible out of the line of fire and Little Miss’s lower face was covered by what burst forth from her nose.  She had a look of triumph on her face when she leveled her head again to meet my gaze, nose goo hanging from her chin.

Relieved not to have been slimed by nasal mucus, I looked her square in the face, smiled and continued my conversation with her mother.

(reason #213 for not missing this job)