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Meanwhile, at Home...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Readers will no doubt wonder what was happening with Chet Baker while we were away. Well, Chet was taken in by Michelle, who works at Bird Watcher's Digest, and her husband Ryan. Michelle is a consumer of Chet Baker's Facebook posts and already had some idea what she was in for by taking him home. She actually offered!

This is the first photo Michelle texted to me, of Chet checking out his new digs. Something in his eyes made me cry.  Going for a week without my doggeh does that anyway. But I knew he was going to do fine.

Chet posted:
I knew it was coming. Mether took me to Daddeh's office and left me with Miss Michelle who loves me. I love her, too. Mether told me I would stay with Miss Michelle. I jumped up on her lap and stayed there when Mether turned around and left. Miss Michelle just sent this picture to Mether. I know it will make her cry but I am fine and enjoying my little vacation. I will go into the Bird Watcher's Digest office every weekday with Miss Michelle and see lots of friends and even my Aunt Pokey Springer there. I will be fine.

And he was fine. He adopted Ryan as his very own and made Ryan tickle him all the time. The first night, he slept in his own bed, and after that he crawled under the kivers with his hosts.

There is something in his eyes that tells me he knows everything.  He knows his picture is being taken; he probably knows it's going to be sent to me, and he sends me a message with his eyes. "I am a little sad, but I am happy, too. I miss you but I like it here. Just do what you have to do and come get me as soon as you get back." 

Cryptic coloration in a resting Boston terrier.

Michelle wants to know why Chet always sleeps butt to head. I wish I knew the answer. But he does. She said he ate all his dinner after the first night of fasting. She said he loved his walks and loved to tear up junk mail and cardboard. She said he wouldn't poop in their neat yard but asked to be taken down the street to the woods. These are all things I already knew, but it was sweet to hear.

She also said he emanates a lot. Mmm-hmmm. See sleeping arrangement, above. Phew.

Despite this, Michelle reported that, although she and Ryan are dying to get a dog, they are now worried that any dog they get won't measure up to Chet Baker. "He's just so good." Words to make Mether's heart glow. I assured her that no matter what kind of dog they end up with, they will love it unreservedly. But did acknowledge that he is a very, very good dog.

While we were enjoying Texas sunshine, a mourning cloak tried to hibernate on the windowsill amongst my orchids. I don't know how it got there, but when I found it it played dead.

This butterfly overwinters as an adult, wedging itself into bark crevices. I was fascinated by its fur coat. You see that in moths, but not many butterflies. Butterfly fur. Now you've seen it.

It takes two million of them to make a decent coat, though. Tedious.

Bird Watcher's Digest's Managing Editor Kyle Carlson, an avid birder who's working on a stupendous Washington County year list, came out a couple of times to fill our feeders. On November 14, I walked into the studio and saw this: 

which purely stopped my heart. Five evening grosbeaks decorated the mulberry by the feeder. 

They ate for about five minutes, whirled off to the north and that's all she wrote. Sigh. I would so love to host them for more than a moment. It's an irruption year for winter finches, and I can only hope that the snows of January bring them back. Even with sunflower seed going for $26.99 for 40 lb. Ouch. I attribute this rare sighting to Kyle's provisioning. I only wish he'd seen them. He needs that bird for his list!

Another rarity in the mulberry: a brown creeper! The only North American representative of the Old World Certhiidae, this gorgeous little fairy hitches in a spiral twist up the trunk of a tree, flies down to the base of the next tree, and does it all over again. It's got a strong, spiny rachis on the two central tail feathers, and delicate translucent toenails like grappling hooks. A slender decurved bill works like a forceps to extract dormant insects and larvae from bark crevices. I found myself wondering what it might do with a mourning cloak...

I would eat it. And then it wouldn't have to play dead.


You know I love seeing you, Chet Bacon, and I know you are so pleased to have mether home. For once she has eclipsed your post with her birds-birds I would love to see one day. A lovely Brown creeper in it's understated elegance, and the equally exciting Evening Grosbeaks. Along with you there, how would she ever want to leave?

Kathy in Delray Beach

Always enjoy your posts. Twenty or more years ago, I had a friend who lived in northeast Texas, very near to Shreveport, Louisiana. One year he had a huge flock of evening grosbeaks that stayed for several weeks. He was feeding them 50 - 100 pounds of food each month and hired a kid to come feed them a few times when he had to leave.

His feeder looked a lot like Bill's. Made from an entire sheet of plywood.

And brown creeper! I think I've only seen them a couple of times in the last two decades. Another bird on the decline. So glad you help others learn about these wonderful creatures.

As usual, the best thing I read online all day. Your blog, Chet's FB page, your books--they just make my heart glad and remind me that dispite all the negative things going on in the world, there is so much beauty and love as well--and a lot of it going on in a little corner of Ohio.

Birdfeed is much cheaper than taking a family of four to a movie twenty miles away and buying some snacks like some people do. Just think about how many hours 40 pounds of feed lasts compared to $25+ spent on a night out.

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