Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Pie safes are beautiful, elegant, and practical pieces of furniture, designed to protect pies and other baked goods from insects and varmints. (They do not, however, protect against varmints that can actually open the doors and retrieve said pies, namely men and teenagers. But I digress.)

These lovely items are crafted from wood, with doors that contain small ventilation holes. Homemade versions often feature thin wire mesh over the door panels, while more high-end models, such as the one below, showcase handworked copper or tin door panels, with designs punched into the metal.

It's been said that many of these unique hand punched door panels were crafted up in the high north, during the bleakest days of winter, as a way to pass the time and avoid the ravages of cabin fever.

Which is why I may soon be starting my own pie safe making business.

It has been snowing for DAYS, people. DAYS. We have about a foot of snow on the ground right now, and it's STILL SNOWING. I haven't been out of the house since Sunday, and that was only because my kind and loving cousin came by with his tractor to plow out the driveway.

(Side note: Noel is in Texas. He got out of here on Saturday morning, hence he missed the brunt of this Apocalyptic Misery weather. Again. I am perhaps starting to take this personally. Just kidding, honey! Enjoy your tacos!)

So! What have I been doing with myself this week, seeing as I have no way of getting out of the house and no cable? And crappy internet so I can't download tv shows? And I can't take a walk because the windchill is SIX DEGREES and my Wellies are under the RV, which is buried in an avalanche right now?

I've been pacing. Oh, and reading, and knitting. And knitting. And....pacing.

And I fear going outside because of things like this:

The Icicle Of DOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!! Hanging by the kitchen window, this thing is about 5 feet long now. Scary!

However, despite my Oscar-worthy overdramatics, there are those who have it worse off than I do right now, namely the little birdies who need food and are cleaning out the bird feeder daily (thank you Camille, for the lovely feeder - the birds love it too!).

The porch has been popular among the Avian set.

We've been getting so many birds at the feeder when it snows, and when this weather started getting bad (Saturday late morning), the number of birds visiting our porch skyrocketed. I went out on Sunday to stock up on supplies (propane, food, cat treats (no mutiny forthcoming, hopefully!), and wine), I got a big bag of birdseed too. And it's a good thing! Noel filled the feeder up before he left on Saturday, and by Sunday it was empty again.

Well, the bird feeder seats about 3-4 smaller, community-minded birds. Or one fat territorial cardinal who is mean to the little chickadees. So I decided to make sure that everyone got a shot at the birdseed. I rifled through the drawer under the stove and found a muffin tin that was in the house when we moved in. I ain't usin' it for us, so might as well feed wildlife out of it. ;)

I put the new "feeder" on the wicker table on the porch, rethought it, and put some paper around it first.

The birds are happy. But the funniest aftermath?

The cats are going INSANE.

I call this one:

Portrait of Frustration

(Note how the cardinal is staring them down. Cue theme from The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.)

And this one:

Don't Fear The Reaper (He's Stuck Inside)

This is their newest favorite spot in the house. Loki loves to paw at the window, I throw yarn balls at him, he glares at me, then turns back and chirps at the birds. I wish I could get a video of this. It's hilarious. He stares at the birds, then his whole head starts vibrating, then this bizarre whimper/chirp/whistle sound comes out of his throat, and I crack up.

He thinks he's the Bird Whisperer. So far it hasn't worked.

Part of me wonders if this is cruel, to taunt them with birds that they can't get to. Then again, it's interesting for them, and hey - these are the cats who didn't want to chew pieces of roasted turkey at Thanksgiving. I seriously doubt they want to deal with actual BONES. Besides, apparently a lot of native songbirds are less common because of cats eating them. And Loki would probably try. Poe would chase, Loki would just wait for one to get tired and fall asleep near his paws.
Anyway, I've been so busy with my hectic Pacing/Eating/Knitting schedule, but graciously took some time to take pictures of some of the birds we've had around:


This has a pair of cardinals (male & female), and a chickadee:

We've had LOTS of cardinals, at one point 5 males & 4 females. Other birds we've seen:

Tufted Titmice
Purple Finch (too fast to get a pic though!)
White-Breasted Nuthatch
And several mystery birds, which after an hour online trying identify, remain a mystery.

(Another side note: ornithological website people? How about an idea? For a website designed to help people identify birds (who obviously don't know much about them, hence the need to ID them), try NOT organizing your photo galleries by Latin genus and species names. We don't know their names. Thus the need to try to ID them. With pictures. How about: Black Birds. Blue Birds. Red Birds. Brown Birds. Then a picture, then the name! See how easy that is?)

I took pictures of a few of them. The only one I didn't manage to photograph was a little bird about the shape & size of a sparrow, but black on his upper half and white on the lower half, like a black sparrow who sat in Wite-out. So scientific!

Here's one of them. Anyone have any ideas? It's about the size of a robin, maybe slightly smaller. Brown wings, black upper feathers, white tummy:

This is a woodpecker, a little guy, about the size of a titmouse. He's black & white striped, but has a red dot on the back of his neck. I didn't see any red anywhere else on him:

(Also, they may be females. Birds are one of those things I always assume are male).

We've had another visitor to the feeder, a very acrobatic squirrel.

I call him Elmer.

Even though I think Elmer may be a girl. Elmera?

Anyway, Elmer/Elmera has the amazing ability to eat upside down. The cats don't seem as interested in Elmer/Elmera maybe because he/she doesn't flutter around and make a scene. Just up the post, down to the feeder, crunch crunch crunch, back to the tree. All business. I was chasing Elmer/Elmera away from the feeder for a while, since squirrels ostensibly save up food for winter. But then it occurred to me:

Perhaps Elmer/Elmera just didn't plan for this harsh of a winter. Perhaps he/she is *gasp* a procrastinator! Perhaps he/she went through some kind of squirrely hardship this summer and fall, and was unable to gather what was necessary! Perhaps it was Squirrel Flu! Tree-ridden for weeks, Elmer/Elmera pinned his/her hopes on the generosity of the hairless mega-squirrels living in the big gray cave, to keep seeds out there for everyone to enjoy!

Thus Elmer/Elmera now has uninterrupted time on the feeder every day.

Well, the sun has gone down, the snow is still falling, and I have a fat kitty sitting on my lap (quite a feat, considering there's also a lap desk & computer on my lap - he's determined).

Time to get back to knitting! And pacing. If the snow doesn't stop soon, send the National Guard. Or the whisky St. Bernard. Actually send the St. Bernard first. Thanks!

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