Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cloud 9


This summer evening, my friend and fellow blogger The Cajun and I took advantage of the buy one get one free offer at the Cloud 9 restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. Under normal circumstances, we would not dine at the Cloud 9 restaurant because the prices of their entrees are over our budget for dining out. Normally, I work at the Inn on Thursday nights and thus, not able to take advantage of the "buy one, get one free" offer of the Cloud 9 restaurant. However, this summer Thursday evening, the heavens aligned and we were able to dine together as friends at this delightful restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. The Cajun had baby back ribs that were advertised as "falling off the bone" which, indeed they did. I ordered a seared raspberry brie stuffed chicken breast. It was heaven. We obviously were not eating at Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans. The only downside was the bartender. Once before I stopped in the Cloud 9 restaurant/bar and left because I was being ignored by the bartender. Unfortunately, most of the gay bars/restaurants in Rehoboth are very cliquish. Unless you're a member of one of the many gay cliques, the bartenders tend to ignore strangers who wander into their sacrosanct area. One might as well be invisible. This is unfortunate. I'm in the hospitality business and I know that the first rule of my business is that you welcome all, especially first time visitors. I'm not asking for someone to fall all over me. All I'm asking for is to ask me what I would like for a drink. To recognize that I am in their establishment. I don't think that is asking for too much. Just to be waited on. Maybe a smile. In all my years of frequenting businesses that cater to a gay clientele, I have found that they are distinctly unfriendly to outsiders. The years I used to visit Provincetown, Massachusetts, I encountered this situation often. In fact, I was greeted with more warmth in straight owned establishments. For many years I tried to understand why so many gay people employed in the hospitality industry were so unfriendly to other gay people who wasn't part of their known cliques. I think their attitude is based in their own insecurity. That's a shame. They should just relax and welcome all people to their establishments, gay or straight. Not to toot my own horn, but I go out of the way to welcome all to my establishment where I work, gay or straight. That said, I did have a pleasant dinner with my friend, The Cajun. Our waitress was delighful (see picture in this blog). Obviously, she was not a gay man beset with insecurities.

Feed Me


That's what the baby blue bird is saying with that open mouth. This picture is from yesterday morning. As I open the front of the bluebird box, some of their mouths open ever so quietly, as compared to the noisy demands of the baby sparrows. I think the baby bluebirds are so quiet because they don't want to draw attention to themselves. They know that the only person who needs to know they're hungry are their Mom and Pop. I notice that some big birds land on top of their box during the day but they can't get in. I don't worry about other predators because the blue bird box is out in the open in my backyard and I am constantly monitoring it. I think Mom and Pop bluebird know that because they always leave on my approach to their nesting site. The baby bluebirds haven't opened their eyes yet. I about a week's time a fine down of feathers will appear on their little round bodies and then those big dark eyes will open for the first time to take in the wonders of life. The Purple Martins are long gone. I see where the sparrows are still chirping at the entrance to one of the Purple Martin apartment but I don't think he has any takers. I'm not bothering with the sparrows now. Before winter sets in, I'll give the Purple Martin house a good cleaning so they will be ready for the returning Purple Martins next spring. Today is going to be a busy day. Haircut this morning. Then a run down to Eastern Ornamental Gardens to buy a pink crepe myrtle (I have the perfect spot for it by the side of my house). Later, this afternoon, I'm meeting my friend The Cajun for a birthday dinner celebration at Cloud Nine restaurant in Rehoboth. He's already warned me that the food choices are limited for me, a non seafood eater. I know, I know. What am I doing living at a seaside resort and I don't like seafood? I don't even like crustaceans. However, I did see a few other dishes on the menu that appealed to me. I would try the strip steak but restaurants don't seem to want to fully cook steak. They think a pink, pulsating slab of meat if appealing. Not to me. I like my meat fully cooked. Thus, I will probably get the chicken pot pie or grilled chicken with pasta. Egads you say? Well, Sussex County is one of the major poultry processing areas of the country. Yesterday I saw truckload of chickens being hauled to their doom. Maybe I'll have one of those.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Little Piece of Heaven





A friend sent this one word reply this morning in an e-mail that I had sent to her yesterday in reference to how much we love living in southern Delaware.

"It's amazing how often our little piece of heaven changes with all the constraints of time, mellowed with appreciations of beauty."

Well said.

She and her husband are in the process of selling their house in Pennsylvania and moving to their lovely "Little Piece of Heaven" in Delaware. Like me, she and her husband decided that they had enough of the confiscatory taxes of Pennsylvania and the daily grind of just surviving in that lovely wooded state which means "Penn's Woods."

Each day in my new Delaware home is a treasure. No matter what the weather, I treat each day as a gift. Today it is warm and humid. I'll go out to my backyard and change the water in my five bird baths. By the time I get back in, I'll probably be drenched with sweat. While I'm out "making the rounds", I'll check the bluebird house. The baby bluebird occupants should now have the beginnings of fine feathers on their naked bodies. Even the Bad News de jour (homeowners fees are going up) can't ruin this day for me. I have a friend who is considering moving from this area because he no longer feels involved in the community. I am sorry for him that his enjoyment of this area is dependent on having a long term relationship and being involved in volunteer activities, which he no longer feels welcomed because he isn't in a relationship. I guess different people look for different things where they live. I cannot apply my own level of needs and comfort to someone else. Of course financial requirements trump all. If one cannot support oneself down here, one must consider moving to a different area of the country where one is more financially secure. I'm fortunate that I am retired and have receive retirement income as well as Social Security. I work part-time at a job that I enjoy. The income earned from that part-time job enables be to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living. I hope my friend finds the peace, happiness and financial security he is looking for. As for me, I'm loving my little piece of heaven.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Appointment Made


Good news today. The Wilmington VA called to arrange an appointment for me to see their dermatology department. My appointment will be in August, much earlier than the dates available to me from the two local dermatology offices that would make appointments for me. The other two local dermatology offices told me there weren't accepting new patients. The woman who talked to me today from the VA cared and listened to me. That's why I like using the VA. Once you get past the Bush Administration imposed roadblocks and hurdles to using the VA, I actually have gotten the best medical care in my life from the VA system. The people who work for the VA are not motivated by money as is most of the private medical sector. With the VA I receive preventive medical care. I feel relieved that my problem will be looked at by caring people. I felt myself slipping into depression. The phone call from the VA today reversed that slide. Today turned out to be a good day.

Dermatologist?






Yesterday I discovered one of the few downsides living in the southern most county in Delaware. I needed to see a dermatologist to check a skin condition on the side of my neck. I have a history of actinic keratosis. While this is not cancerous, it could become cancerous. I have a history of skin cancer in my family. My next scheduled appointment with the VA in Wilmington is in November (I'm checked annually.) Now that I have Medicare Part B and AARP supplemental insurance I can choose any doctor that I want. At least that is the myth perpetuated by those who opposed government health care. Yesterday, I called the first of four dermatologists listed in the local phone book. The first dermatologist was not accepting new patients until October! The next two aren't accepting patients at all. The fourth office of the dermatologist told me that they weren't accepting new patients until September. Now remember, I live on the eastern coast of Delaware, in a beach resort area. NO DERMATOLOGISTS! Such is the state of health care in this country. So much for choosing your own doctor. Now I have a call into the VA. The VA provides excellent health care for me but I do have to jump through a lot of hoops and appointments take some time to keep because of the shortage of doctors at the VA. In a way, I'm glad I'm at the end of my life instead of starting out. I can remember back to the days of my childhood when doctors made house calls and medical expenses were affordable. While this country has made great advances in medical care it is not available to many of us, even people like me who have what amounts to double medical care.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Then There Were Four


This morning I checked the bluebird house and now there are four!

Naked and defenseless now, they will soon sprout feathers and open those big beaks for their daily feedings by Mom and Pop bluebird. All my other accomplishments in life pale to what I'm able to do for this pair of bluebird parents, give them a helping hand in raising their young. Sometimes the best things in life are truly free.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Baby Bluebirds





We have new baby bluebirds! I checked this morning first thing (as I always do). What I saw was four blue eggs. After returning from my Friday morning visit to the super WalMart in Milford, I checked again. Two new bluebirds! I'm hesitant to keep interfering with Mama and Papa bluebird in raising their young, but I have to check. The Purple Martins are gone. The sparrows have taken over their house. An occasional grackle swoops over by the bluebird house but they are quickly chased away by Mama and Papa bluebird. The other two bluebird houses remain empty. There are no other predator threats to the bluebirds on my property. This is the second year the bluebirds have raised their young in this particular bluebird box. Success!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gay Life in Southern Delaware




The dog days of summer are here already. Still, life is good here in the southern most county of Delaware, Sussex County. The August issue of Delaware today has an excellent article on the New Delawarean. That's me, a retiree from seeking refuge from the tax happy state of Pennsylvania. My school taxes were so high in Pennsylvania that I could no longer afford to live in that verdant state. In addition to the ever increasing school taxes, there were the other taxes like the state sales tax, country tax, and township tax. The tax burden left me no choice but to move to a tax friendlier state like Delaware. It was either Delaware or South Carolina (where my younger brother lives.) Another factor in my decision to move to Delaware, specifically the Rehoboth Beach area, is that it is a more inclusive community. What does "inclusive community" mean you ask? Gay friendly. I don't have to live in a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" environment down here. In Pennsylvania, my partner and I were accepted as long as we kept a low profile. We don't want to be "accepted." We just want to live like other people. We can do that here in southern Delaware. Ironically, we're not involved in the local gay community at all. We live in a neighborhood which is basically straight. There are three other gay couple in this neighborhood, one male and two females. The organized gay community in the Rehoboth Beach area is generally conceded to be Camp Rehoboth. Unfortunately, they operate more like a private exclusive club than an open "all inclusive" organization. Their main function seems to be fund raising to further perpetuate their survival, much the same as TV evangelical ministers are always raising funds to keep them on TV in order to raise more funds. This isn't knocking Camp Rehoboth or their purported function of "creating a more inclusive environment", but stating the reality of their primary function - raising funds. My partner and I are enjoying a comfortable retirement in Delaware without the benefit of Camp Rehoboth and their "sensistivity training" of local police officers. We're retirees just like any other retirees in our neighborhood, gay and straight. We buy groceries, pay our bills, mow our lawn, and have family issues just like any other family. Now that the dog days of summer are here, we're just trying to stay cool like the straight folks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Judy Checks The Bluebird Box



Yesterday, a friend of mine and her son stopped by to see the bluebird box in person. Four, perfect oval blue bird eggs were in the neat bluebird nest. Mom and Pop bluebird were nearby somewhere. They surely must know by now that I pose no harm to their nest. The Purple Martins have departed to where, I know not. I assume they will being to make their annual trek to Brazil where they will spend the winter. I have removed the tape from the entrances to the Purple Martin apartments. The sparrow immediately took up a position outside on of the entrances and started to chirp, advertising his availablity to make a family. So far no takers. Maybe it's too late in the season to start a new brood. I notice that my neighbor's Purple Martin house is also empty of Purple Martins. However, I do see the straw other junk sticking out of one of the doors, thus indicating a sparrow has already made a nest in one of the PM apartments. Grackles have been visiting most of the day today, dirtying up my birdbaths. For some reason, they like to go to the bathroom in the birdbaths. Later on, while I was out changing the water in the birdbaths, I heard a rustle at the base of one of the white pine trees that border my backyard behind the planters and birdbaths. A big, majestic Cooper's Hawk takes flight. I was wondering why there was so much commotion in the sky from the other grackles. As the hawk flew away, the much smaller birds harassed and dive bombed it. A few seconds later other grackles emerged from the base of the other white pines and flew away. Apparently the Law of Nature was taking its course until I interrupted it with my birdbath changing routine. Maybe that hawk will return and make that pesky sparrow his dinner.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cool Cat


This morning I took a ride to visit my longtime friend, Bob. He lives in the woods, near Georgetown, Delaware. Bob wasn't there but his faithful cat Stormy, was there perched on the banister, waiting for his master. I love cats. Unfortunately I don't have one because my life partner, Bill, doesn't like cats. Ironically, the only pet cat I ever had was a cat named "Bobby." My friend's name (the owner of Stormy) is Bob. Bobby (the cat) was a gray tabby cat that took up with me when I was about 10 years old. My family lived in a second floor apartment, above the offices of Gindy Manufacturing Company. The Gindy trailer manufacturing plant was located next to the building where we had an apartment. Bobby the cat just showed up one day. Apparently he was surviving my mousing in the plant. We hit it off right away. I don't remember how many years I had Bobby, but one day when I came home from school, Bobby wasn't there to greet me. I asked my Mother if she had seen him. She told me that my Father had taken him to the SPCA because Bobby was spraying the front door. Thus ended my one and only pet cat. Someday I will rescue a cat from the local animal shelter to make up for that injustice that happened so many years ago. The cat featured in this video is named "Stormy." He showed up one stormy night at my friend Bob's home. He was soaked to the skin. Bob took him in out of the storm and gave him sheltr in his home. The next morning Stormy's little sister showed up. She looks just like Stormy with more delicate features. Unfortunately, Stormy is a Top Cat. He is a little rough with his little sister so she isn't around too much. Bob suspects she has another home nearby. Bob used to have a mouse problem. He no longer has that problem. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any little birds around either. Maybe I can borrow Stormy to solve my sparrow problem. The Purple Martins have left their birdhouse. I covered all the entrances with masking tape so the sparrow couldn't get in. Would you know that those sparrows tried all day to get in? Their determination is amazing. I notice that they did make a nest in my neighbor's PM birdhouse. His Purple Martins have also taken off. I'll leave the tape on for a few more days. I don't know how long it takes for the message to get through their little pea brain. I do notice they haven't built any more nests in the bluebird boxes I cleaned out. They really seem intent on building their nest in the Purple Martin house. I wonder what the fascination is with that house since they gave up so easily on the other houses. Maybe they feel safer at that height. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to figure out they're not going to get in that bird house. The bluebird nest continues to do fine. The bluebird parents are very low key and don't seem to spend much time at their birdhouse but they do. I see them flitting back and forth in the backyard, reducing my insect population. Occasionally, one of the sparrows flies over towards their birdbox, but both bluebirds chase them away. I guess they've had enough of the bullying by the sparrows. Good for them. Other residents of my backyard are robins and catbirds. If I did have a cat, I probably wouldn't have many birds in my backyard. Unless if I had an inside cat. This last batch of baby bluebirds were out of their nest before they were ready to be on their own. Their parents had to feed them in the surround bushes for about a week. I sure would hate to see my puddy tat bringing home a baby bluebird in its mouth as a token of appreciation to me.

The Day After Part Two









Included are additional pictures I took this morning of the aftermath of tearing out the sparrows' nesting from my Purple Martin birdhouse. I tried to include it in my previous blog but apparently there is a problem with including a video and pictures in the same blog. The first picture is of the now empty Purple Martin birdhouse with the sparrow nesting at the base. The second picture shows the sparrow pair perched below the Purple Martin birdhouse after I tore their nesting out. The last picture shows their nesting, including one egg, at the base of the Purple Martin birdhouse. While this may seem like harsh measures to some who read this blog, it is not near as harsh as dead Purple Martin nestlings that had holes punched in their heads by these same sparrows. Sparrows are very resourceful. This is a wide open area here in coastal Delaware with many nooks and crevices for sparrows to make their nests. I don't how how long it will take the sparrows to understand that their choice of nesting will not work in this particular Purple Martin birdhouse. I've been told they are programmed to do what they do. Unfortunately they are a non-native species of bird that was introduced to this continent many years ago. Their introduction to the native bird species of this country has had devastating consequences for the native bird population. I may not be able to control this disaster but I can affect change in my own backyard habitat. In my area of southern Delaware, millions of chickens are hauled away daily to their doom. I feel for each and every chicken. I don't feel sorry for these sparrows who have to look for another home. Besides, the Purple Martins catch a lot more mosquitoes than the sparrows. Since I've had the Purple Martin birdhouse up (and also my adjoining neighbor), I have not had the mosquito problem I've had in previous years. I doubt that the sparrows are responsibile for the elimination of my mosquito problem. I think it is perhaps the Purple Martins who deserve credit. To show my thanks, I will continue to provide a sparrow free home for them.

The Day After

First thing I checked when I was up this morning was to look out my bedroom window to see the Purple Martin house. One of the doors to one of the PM apartments was off. Uh oh. Was it an Attack of the Furious Determined Sparrow? That PM apartment held baby PMs yesterday. I quickly dressed and walked through the wet grass to lower the PM birdhouse. No birds were in that apartment. I checked the other apartments. There were no birds in any of the other apartments. One of the apartments, that had baby PMs yesterday, only had some wet black feather remnants of its previous occupants. Then I discovered sparrow nesting in a different apartment. Ah ha. The Determined Sparrows finally got the message not to build their nest in the bottom front. Contrary to what some readers of this blog have told me, I think the message finally sunk in to their little pea brain not to build a nest in that apartment. However, they built it in another apartment. I tore it out. I put the nesting, along with one brown speckled sparrow egg, at the base of the PM birdhouse along with the previous nesting I tore out yesterday. There were no Purple Martins to be seen this morning. However, once I tore the sparrow nesting out, several Purple Martins returned. A short video is included which shows the sparrow couple perched on the roof of my house,chirping in my direction as if to question me as to why I keep tearing out their nesting. By the time this whole process is done, I may have enough straw to make a bale of hay. I'll save that and use it for my Halloween decorations.

Monday, July 14, 2008

House Sparrows Evicted





A new development with the Determined Sparrows. I have to look at this situation again.


Read this.

This morning, like every morning, when I got up I pulled the curtains back from one of my bedroom windows to see how the birds are doing in my backyard habitat. Immediately I saw that the Purple Martins were in distress. After dressing, shaving, and having breakfast I went out to my shed to get my gloves. I was going to lower the Purple Martin birdhouse and check out what was going on with the six apartments. As I approached the PM birdhouse, the male/female pair of Determined Sparrows darted out off of their perch at the base of the PM birdhouse. They act like they own the whole PM birdhouse and the Purple Martins are visitors at their pleasure. The Purple Martins dispersed as I lowered their birdhouse. The first three apartments I checked on the front contained baby Purple Martins in two of them. The third apartment was empty. Those must have been the new baby Purple Martins that have been testing their wings by soaring around their birdhouse the past week. I checked the back apartments. The Determined Sparrows have their nest in the bottom apartment. The top right apartment was still empty. This was the same apartment where I found two dead baby Purple Martins. The top apartment on the left had baby Purple Martins in the back. There were very quiet. Perhaps fearing the Determined Sparrows. I feel so bad for these birds. They have so much to fear where they should have no fear. Then I checked the bottom apartment. As I thought, it was crammed full of twigs, straw and bits of plastic trash. A typical house sparrow bird nest. I tore it all out and threw it in the cornfield near next to my backyard. As I threw our their nesting material I saw three house sparrow brown speckled eggs. I didn't care. Good riddance. I returned to the PM birdhouse and raised it up to it's previous height. The Purple Martins returned, much quieter than before. The Determined house sparrows also returned. Of course they checked their apartment first and, seeing no nesting material in it, flitted out on the perch and looked my way. The rest of the Purple Martins returned, this time much calmer. The Determined Sparrows continued to flit back and forth between their perch near the opening of their nest and my neighbor's tree. I guess they were looking for their nest. I went to the edge of my property and picked up what was left of their nest and placed it at the bottom of the Purple Martin birdhouse. Then I left. Later, as I was getting ready to meet friends in Lewes for lunch, I saw the pair of house sparrows checking out their nesting material at the bottom of the PM birdhouse. I also saw one of the sparrows exiting one of the Purple Martin apartments. They were probably checking for their eggs. I hope they're not going to kill any more of the Purple Martins babies that are nesting in their birdhouse. I realize that some who read this blog feel that I should provide space for the house sparrows but I have decided that I will not. There is plenty of space in other locations for them to build a bird nest. I will not permit them to build any more of their trashy bird nests in my birdhouses. To me, the house sparrows are like the neighborhood bully. They bully their way in and take what they want. I have had comments from other readers of my blog which encourage me to be a "good landlord" and get rid of these house sparrows, which are an invasive species. I'm coming to the point where I agree with these readers. I don't want to destroy them but if that is what is necessary, I may have to do that. Now I see why my Father kept a bee bee gun next to his cornfield. I remember all the times I used to chastise him for (what I perceived) was his cruelty towards the sparrows and starlings, now I see what he was trying to do. He was protecting the bluebird trail of bird boxes that surrounded his 2 acres of garden from the sparrows and starlings. He was successful. Eventually, the house sparrows figured out that it was useless to continue to try and build nests in his bluebird houses. I don't know how long it took him to convince them of that fact, but he did. I don't like to destroy any living thing but just as I am destroying the devastating onslaught of Japanese beetles that I have now, I will get rid of the house sparrows. Hopefully, but tearing out their nest enough times they will get the message.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Potpourri





First, as you can see by the blog picture of the day, my bluebird house now has four new eggs. The last batch had five, which I think was one too many. Four seems to fit nicely in the neat bluebird nest. Funny thing, I rarely see the momma bluebird around the nest. She's very low key. Unlike the Purple Martin condominium a few yards away. One of the Purple Martins has taken it upon him or herself to be the Head Purple Martin. Whenever I go out to my shed, which I have to pass by the Purple Martin condos, the Head Purple Martin dive bombs me with a loud "squawk!" That's all right, she's just protecting her babies.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, I want to bring you up to date on some older subjects that I written about in the past.


1) Sasha - the Russian housekeeper worker at the Inn where I work is doing fine. Since I work the evening shift, she is usually gone by the time I get in at 3 PM. However, last week our paths did overlap. She was just finishing up one of the courtyard rooms and passed by me at the front desk. She had a big smile on her face as she greeted me. She was very relaxed. The other housekeepers were in the kitchen. As Sasha entered the kitchen, I heardthem greet her. Apparently Sasha has been accepted and it shows in her demeanor. After the other housekeepers left for the day, Sasha was still in the kitchen. She was sitting at one of the little tables by the refrigerator, punching in a number on her cell phone. Seeing me, she asked "Can I call Russia? I clocked out." I said "Sure." She doesn't need my permission to call home. She was very polite to ask me though. After she made her call, she told me she was going to eat her lunch now. Again, sort of asking my permission. I noted that she was eating her lunch after she had clocked out whereas the other housekeepers eat while clocked in.


2) Wayne - my friend who I had the contretemps with a few months back. Our friendship is back on again (at least it is from my side). We're not doing Sunday dinner at the Purple Parrot now because of the influx of summer tourists. It's almost impossible to get a parking space in Rehoboth. The restaurant is crowded. Service is poor. We'll wait until the tourist leave then resume our regular Sunday night outings. Wayne is leaving for New Orleans this week to see friends he hasn't seen in almost 50 years. Yes, Wayne is VERY OLD.


3) I've started a new political blog called "Not a Ditto Head". Ditto head refers to those Rush Limbaugh lovers who nod their head and say "ditto" to everything that fat clown says. The presidential race is well underway and I just couldn't hold my views to myself any longer. However, I didn't want to sully up this blog with those views because they are offensive to so many of my friends and relatives (they are unenlightened obviously, forgive them).

4) The shocking thing that happened to me at work a few weeks back is still unresolved. I'm hoping it will go away on its own but I doubt it. I am not going to go into any more detail on that incident in this blog because it is a privacy issue. I only wrote about it because it upset me so much.

5) My Mom is coming down to visit us in August. I hope the visit will help her out of her depression. I think a change of scenery will be good for her. However, I have to get her out of her room and away from "The Price Is Right" and "O'Reilly" and to see the sights of Slower Lower Delaware. Maybe I can arrange for a guided tour through one of the local chicken processing plants.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crop Duster Part Deux




The other day, while I was out in my backyard gardening, I heard a plane flying low overhead. It was a crop duster, spraying the cornfields that border my backyard. Sensing another photo opportunity, I grabbed my digital camera and started to shoot away. I took several videos, trying for that interesting sequence to put on my daily blog. Standing in my backyard in the open, I reviewed the videos I took on my camera. As I was doing this, I heard the plane get louder. I looked up and saw the pilot fly directly over my head. I smelled something. Now I don't know if he sprayed me but I definitely smelled something and it wasn't roses. I think he gave me a little spritz of what he was spraying on the cornfields. Maybe there was a residue. Later, as I was talking to my neighbor Bob, he told me that he thought the pilot was hot dogging him while he was mowing his lawn so he give him the Finger. His wife came out and told Bob that the pilot was actually crop dusting the corn field that borders on his property. I think the pilot thought I was the one who gave him the Solitary Salute. Thus, I got a dose. I am now cootie free.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Baby Bluebird Rescue



Bill and I had just returned from shopping at the Super (Duper?) Walmart store in Georgetown this hot and humid summer morning. Bill headed down the outside entrance to our cellar. He wanted to get his paint to repaint the wooden post that holds our mailbox. Immediately he came back up and said to me "There's a bird in the stairwell, you better take care of it." Ron to the rescue! I took a peek over the railing down to the bottom of the stairs. Sure enough, there behind an old motor, that someday we will get around to taking to the recycling center, and a broom, were two black, scared to death eyes peering back at me. A baby bluebird had lost its way. Bill had told me that the mama bluebird was still feeding her babies even though they had left their nest a couple of weeks ago. Some or all of the baby bluebirds had taken up residence in the pine and holly trees that border my back yard. Apparently some of them aren't ready for prime time yet. Maybe their flying wings aren't ready yet. The baby bluebirds don't seem to develop as fast as the Determined Sparrow's offspring. The new young sparrows are long gone. Even the new baby Purple Martins are swooping and diving every day, testing their new wings. In fact, they've been dive bombing me almost every time I go out to the shed. Well, it was rescue time for this wayward baby bluebird that had lost its way. I went to the shed, dive bombed and screeched at all the way by about three Purple Martins, and got my gloves. I headed back to the stairwell, gloves in hand for a gentle rescue. I hoped that the baby bluebird wouldn't be thrashing around and break its wing or worse during this rescue attempt. I looked for Bill. My thought was to ask him to video tape the rescue. That would be interesting to show on my blog. But, no Bill. The rescue would have to be done, sans video. I quietly descended the cement stairs to the cellar to the discarded motor. Just around the corner of the motor, I could see one black eye looking at me. I moved my gloved hand to scoop the baby bird up. It gave a squawk and scooted to the other side of the stairwell, obviously petrified. I wish I could tell it I meant it no harm but was there to rescue it. Quickly, I gently closed my gloved hand around the trembling bird. It was quiet, with just its little dark head sticking out of my closed gloved hand. I ascended the stairs to the backyard and took it back to the pine and holly trees that border my backyard. I gently placed it down at the base of the holly tree, shaded by the weeds. It made no further sounds but did look up at me. The Purple Martins (or bluebirds - I couldn't' tell which in the blazing sun) were still dive bombing me with their screeching alarms calls. I left the baby bluebird at the base of the holly tree. When I got back I told Bill to keep an eye out for it when he mows the lawn later this afternoon. I'll go out a little later to see how it's doing. Hopefully, it's parents will continue to feed the poor little thing until he or she feels confident enough to try its flying wings again. An update on the bluebird box, it now has four bluebird eggs in its neat bluebird nest. One more perfectly oval blue bluebird egg to go. The baby bluebird I rescued today will soon have new brothers and sisters. And so it goes in Ron's Backyard Habitat.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Shy Bill





Bill and I were standing out by the garage earlier this evening, waiting for the daily evening thunderstorm that has become the norm around here. Barbara, our neighbor, came over to visit awhile. I had my camera so I thought it would be a good time to take a picture of Barbara and Bill for posterity. The video that you will view on this blog is funny because it shows how shy my partner is with women. The really funny thing is that most women love Bill. I don't get that kind of attention. What's up with that? I take a shower every night.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rainbow Over The Neighborhood






After a late afternoon thunderstorm yesterday, a beautiful rainbow appeared over my neighborhood. As much as I loved my home in Pennsylvania, I never saw a rainbow. That was because I lived in the middle of seven acres of woods. I decided I wanted to live out my years in an open area with a big sky. That is why I love my home site here in Delaware. I live on the coastal plain on the eastern side of the Coastal Highway (Route 1). I chose this location to build because it is not that far from Rehoboth Beach (six miles.) My home site does have some downsides. The wind is almost constant, and sometimes quite heavy. But I don't have to worry about a tree falling over on my driveway, blocking my entrance and egress from my home as happened so often at my Pennsylvania home. Also, the power doesn't go out near as often. In Pennsylvania, it only took a strong wind and the power went out, sometimes for hours and days. Located as I am only two miles from the Delaware Bay, there is very little snow. When there is snow, it is usually gone within a day or two. In Pennsylvania, the remnants of a heavy snow in December or January would stay on the ground until early spring, in April. There are many other good reasons why I moved to Delaware, one of the most important being that Delaware is tax friendly to seniors. In Pennsylvania I was literally being taxed out of existence by the ever increasing school taxes, county and township taxes. Delaware has a much more equitable tax base. Perhaps the best thing I like about living in Delaware are the wonderful neighbors that I now have. They are the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

Purple Martins Come In For a Landing

Something was distressing the Purple Martins this morning. Lately they have been quite boistrous with the new baby Purple Martins who have left their nest. However, this morning was different. They were all circling the house. Bill was out and noticed that a door was off of one of the apartments. Time for an intervention. I brought the Purple Martin house down. I looked in the now doorless apartment. What I saw were two dead Purple Martins that looked like they were ready to leave the nest. This apartment was on the same side as the Determined Sparrows' apartment. I thought now would be a good time to look at their nest because I suspected it might have dead baby sparrows. As is the case with sparrow nests, the compartment was almost full of nesting material; pieces of plastic trash as well as dried weeds. However, there were no baby sparrows, alive or dead. I'm now wondering if the Determined Sparrow even had eggs in that nest. Maybe they did and they hatched and I missed the whole thing. I carefully took out the dead Purple Martins and cleaned out their nest. I also cleaned out the Determined Sparrows' nest. It is just possibile they killed the Purple Martins because they couldn't get into their nest. After I cleaned out the nests and placed the metal door back on the one compartment, I raised the Purple Martin house back to its previous height. In a short while, all the Purple Martins swooped back in. They quickly check out the now empty compartment. The loud squawking was noticeabely diminished. Of course the Determined Sparrows came back immediately, along with the two dozen or so Purple Martins. The Determined Sparrows are undaunted to say the least. They landed on the bar below the house and looked my way as if to say "WTF?" I'll keep you all updated.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Crop Duster




This morning I was greeted by a yellow twin engine plane dive bombing my house. My neighbor, who was mowing his lawn, thought the pilot was hot dogging him so he give him the finger. My neighbor's wife quickly corrected him and told him that the pilot of the plane was crop dusting the corn field that adjoins our property. The video on this blog shows a bit of that. I'll post another video later which shows the pilot crop dusting me taking the video of him. No doubt that was his way of expressing appreciation of the One Finger Salute he received from my neighbor. Well, I don't have to worry about any corn worms now. I've been "dusted."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Fourth




Another year and the "Fourth" is here already. The "Fourth" refers to the Fourth of July celebration. Living near the resort community of Rehoboth Beach, the "Fourth" only means one thing.....stay out of Rehoboth! On Wednesday, on our way to lunch at Zorba's Restaurant on Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach, Bill and I noticed the deluge had begun. The "deluge" refers to the almost solid mass of vehicles descending on Rehoboth Beach and points south (Dewey Beach, Bethaney Beach and Ocean City, Maryland) on Route 1. We live six miles north on the east side of Route 1 in a Ryan Homes development called Covington Chase. I deliberately chose this location to avoid the summertime traffic headaches on Route 1. Wise choice. Each year I am reminded of my wisdom when I witness the wave after wave of cars, trucks and motorcycles heading south for fun in the sun. Located as I am on the east side of Route 1, I can witness but not participate in this annual ritual of the lemmings headlong rush to the resort towns on the Delmarva penisula. From now until well after Labor Day, downtown Rehoboth Beach is off limits to many of us year round residents. Parking, when you can find it, is expensive. Service at the restuarants, when you can find it, is sporadic at best. Since I'm not a beachgoer, there is no earthly reason for me to venture into the circus that is now downtown Rehoboth Beach. While I'm thankful for the revenue these summertime visitors leave in the area, thus supplying jobs for the locals, I'm still glad when summer is over and life can go back to normal. I am reminded of a Labor Day weekend many years ago when I vacationed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I overheard one of the waitstaff say in the restaurant, where friends and I were dining, say "Thank God this is the last weekend THEY are here and we can have our town back." At the time I thought "How rude." Now I understand. Oh I do understand.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Rose Is A Rose




How does the saying go? "A rose is a rose is a rose?" What does that mean? I don't know. Maybe it means "It is what it is." Perhaps I started this blog with a rose as a subject because I wanted an excuse to showoff my rose picture. Yes folks, that is a picture of took of one of my roses yesterday. Thus, there is no reason to change my opening song on this blog, "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You." For years and years I have attempted to grow roses with little success. Either they didn't grow or they were attacked by black spot and finished off by the Japanese beetles. Well, the Japanese beetles are in full force here this year. For the past week I've been picking them off and squashing them (not a pleasant task but necessary) on the brick base underneath my water faucet. It doesn't take too long until the ants take them away. I don't feel so bad now because the eco system is working. The rose pictured on this blog is a small rose bush tucked in between my larger Knockout Rose bush (under heavy attack by the Japanese beetles) and a pineapple sage bush on the other side of it. For some reason the Japanese beetles haven't attacked this rose. Maybe it's the color that doesn't attract them. The bright red Knockout roses draw the beetles like a matador's red cape attracts the raging bull. Some say Japanese beetles are attracted by the sweet aroma of the rose. I don't know about that because this rose has the delicate, heady, sweet smell reminiscent of a beautiful woman; gentle breezes caressing her smooth skin. The beauty of the rose is like the beauty of the woman (Hedy Lamarr) whose picture I have used in this blog. Timeless.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Anniversary


Today marks forty-four years to the date that I met my life partner, Bill. We count this day as our anniversary since our union is not recognized a legitimate by current law in these United States of America. Would we like to be officially married as is in the news these days with so many same sex couples? To be honest, we never thought much about it nor do we have a burning desire to perform a ceremony to show the world that we are a couple. We know that we are life partners and that is all that matters to us. Of course we would like the financial benefits and legal protections that heterosexual couples have benefited from since time immemorial. Over the years we have managed to make other arrangements that protect our assets should one of us die before the other. However, we have not been able to cover all situations but that is changing. Perhaps the most visible example of that happened recently when I had a medical emergency earlier this year. As I was being wheeled in the local emergency room, one of the attendants motioned to Bill, who was standing against a wall and asked "Who is that?" I said "My partner." She looked at him and, without hesitation said "Come on!" and motioned with her hand for him to follow us. As much pain as I was in (later I found out I was passing a kidney stone), I felt a lump in the throat with the realization that finally, Bill and I were being treated just like anyone else. We still have a long way to go in this country towards recognition and acceptance of same sex couples but this one instance proved that some small progress is being made. Bill's presence was never questioned again during the 4 1/2 hours I was in the emergency room. Perhaps this local emergency room's attitude towards same sex couples came about because of the large gay and lesbian older population of the Rehoboth Beach area. Inevitably, many of the older men and women who pass through their emergency room will be gay and lesbian. Perhaps the Powers That Be realized that life and living isn't reserved exclusively for heterosexual couples. Whatever the reason, it refreshing to see such small signs of progress towards recognition of same sex couples. A few months ago, when I reinvented this blog I vowed not to get on my soapbox (I'll get on my soapbox in separate blogs), but I am making an exception this time. Little did I imagine on that summer evening , forty-four years ago, when I met Bill at that center city bar on the corner of 15th and Spruce Streets, that one day we would be living as an openly gay couple in a family neighborhood. The sky hasn't fallen and straight couples haven't seen their marriages break up because we moved into the neighborhood. I cannot imagine what life will be like forty-four years from now. We won't know, but at least in our lifetime we have reason for celebration. Happy anniversary Bill.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

As The World Turns




How do you like that for a catchy title? Oh, you say it's already taken? Ah yes, a soap opera. Well, today was a good day. I had it all to myself and I did what pleased me. Early in the morning I decided to get my oil changed before the weekend Fourth of July rush. I use a garage on Route 1 towards Rehoboth Beach with the very original name of The Garage (no kidding, that's the name of the place). I like it because you go in first thing in the morning and it's first in, first served. The most it's ever taken me to get my car done is 45 minutes. Way better than the Subaru dealer I used to go to in Downingtown, PA, where I used to live. When I dropped my car off there, it was an all day deal. Also, The Garage is very honest. They will actually tell you that you DON'T need work. That you would be throwing your money away. I heard them say it again to another customer this morning. Now how is that for a novel approach? Actually, it is genius because I will keep going back to them because I trust them. They have never let me or my 105,000 mile, 1998 red Subaru Forester down yet. After I got the oil changed in my car, I decided to take a ride down to the card store to pick up a supply of sympathy cards. At my age, I have found it is good to have a supply on hand. Last year I had a half a dozen sympathy cards, they're all gone now. People are dropping like flies. I wanted to get a haircut but the barber was closed today. Tomorrow I'll check that out. Since my partner isn't speaking to me again (par for the course, I broke a rule by asking him to close the window so I could turn on the air conditioner to get the humidity out of the air). This too will pass (until I break another rule). So, I decided to visit my long time friend Bob Mc who lives in the woods near Georgetown. We are both celebrating the fact that today, July 1st, we now have Medicare coverage Part B and AARP supplemental insurance. We had to get this coverage after the near disaster I had last January 3rd when I had to visit the emergency room at Beebe Medical Center. I had a kidney stone attack (I didn't know that at the time, all I know is that I was in excruciating pain and I wanted it stopped immediately, even if they had to kill me). Coincidentally it happened when I was getting my oil changed at the same The Garage. My medical coverage is with the Veterans Administration in Wilmington. They wanted me to to to their emergency room but there was no way that was going to happen. The Wilmington VA is 81 miles away and I just could not imagine enduring the ever escalating pain that I was experiencing for the hour plus ride to the Wilmington VA Medical Center. To make a long story short, I visited the local emergency room at Beebe Hospital. They gave me pain killers (two pain killers actually, it was wonderful) and an MRI. They determined I was passing a kidney stone. They kept me for about four hours, monitoring my progress, then released me. I was weak, but that out of this world pain was gone. To describe what the pain was like imagine if someone kicked you in the family jewels, you had to urinate real bad but couldn't go, and, while this is going on, someone is stabbing you in the lower back with an ice pick. It wasn't pretty. I wasn't pretty either writhing in pain. A few weeks after this emergency I got the emergency room bill. Do you remember Wily Coyote and how his eyes would pop out of his head when he saw the Roadrunner zip by? My eyes must have popped out of my head when I saw that bill. I called the VA. They said they wouldn't pay it because "you decided to go there" (like I had a choice). Well, to make a long story short, after much back and forth with the VA and filling out forms, they did agree to pay part of the bill because I thought I was in a life threatening situation. Well, I did! In fact, I just wanted someone to put me out of my misery, that's how bad I was hurting. I would have confessed to being a terrorist, that's how bad I wanted the pain to stop. Water boarding is like bobbing for apples compared to passing a kidney stone. I dodged a bullet this time, but what would happen the next time I had an emergency? I could have a bill five times as big as this one. That's when I decided to get my own insurance coverage. That was back in February. It took all that time for it to become effective but I made it. I told my good friend Bob about my near miss of financial disaster. He is also a veteran. He is five years old than me. Chances are pretty good he will have an emergency in the future. So, he also decided to sign up for Medicare Part B and AARP supplemental insurance. We're covered now. Of course nothing will happen . We will both be in perfect health the next 30 or so years. Just like all those years I worked for a bank with fabulous health coverage; never once was I sick. In fact, I never got sick until I didn't have that fabulous coverage. I got sick when I didn't have a job but, thank goodness, I had the VA coverage. They've taken good care of me and Bob. But, they only have that one facility in Wilmington and if either one of us has an emergency, we would have to go there. God gave me a warning with that kidney stone passing on January 3rd. I listened.
Note: pictured is a lone catbird at the end of today, silhouetted against the setting sun from my backyard. I guess he had a busy day too.