Tag Archives: turkey

I Was Asked For A Ho Ho


Santa, students and Mrs. Claus at MMU.

It was Christmas Eve, in the morning, and I was at the gym. A janitor who chats with me now and then came up and said, “can you say ho, ho, ho?”

Well, I have, now and then. I was a mall Santa when I was in graduate school, and had minor Santa gigs this Christmas season at Mount Mercy University.

I hope your Christmas was fine. Mine was good. I’m still munching on the plethora of chocolates available due to that day (who knew the birth of a poor Palestinian refugee 20 centuries ago would be so good for candy sales?). I got and gave several nice gifts—my wife decided it was the year of the gnome for me, and I am quite fond of both the gnome coffee mug she found, and the figurine of a T Rex devouring gnomes that will no doubt grace either my office or my gardens.

For her, I mostly gave gifts related to a new three-season room we added to the house—pictures to hang there, a clock and a radio. We’ve got to have some NPR and KMRY in that room.

Christmas Day itself was a bit odd due to weather—we don’t often have thunderstorms on Christmas Day. Note to our new president: The Chinese did not invent global warming. Trust me on that, please.


Granddaughter in Christmas cat mask.

Anyway, besides the odd rainstorm, it was a great day. There were enough grandchildren running around to cause a constant Christmas cacophony, which is the way it should be. We got to Skype with the daughter and grandchildren in England, and my wife chatted with our California son. Turkey was cooked and eaten, a bottle of wine opened and consumed.

It was, in short, a fine holiday. I hope yours was filled with fun and family, if you celebrate Christmas, and if you don’t, I hope you have some fun family day around this time anyway. To celebrate the season, here are a few more Christmas lights I made pictures of.

I’ve always liked Christmas, although I’m happy to report I’m slowly growing out of the habit of waking at 5 a.m. on that day. This year, I slept in. Until about 6:30.


Santa filter glasses turn Christmas lights into these images.


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The Big Birds Distract From the Sandbox Rebuild

Four of  the six boards we bought--four to become new sandbox sides, two to provide some seating areas.

Four of the six boards we bought–four to become new sandbox sides, two to provide some seating areas. A fifth board is leaning against the sandbox in the background.

We had a busy weekend—a mini family reunion Saturday because my youngest daughter was in town to buy a new car that is a Taurus but not quite because it’s a Mercury and gray according to its legal description, but sort of blue and sort of green and sort of sparkly—one of those new car colors that would make it a great crime car because nobody could describe the color and nobody would see it and call it “gray.”

And today was bike ride day for my spouse and I, as well as shop at Menards and Home Depot. We were buying lumber and lag bolts and gloves for a project.

Basically, the sandbox I installed about 10 years ago is starting to fall apart because time and termites and wet have eroded the timbers used as the borders of the sandbox. My solution is to basically encase the old sandbox in a new one of roughly the same construction (10 years is 10 years, after all), but add benches on the sides.

I started the actual work around 6 in the evening. Early on, I was distracted when there was a loud sort of cheeping, and a shadow—a very big shadow—passed overhead. Something heavy landed in the big maple at the top of our backyard hill, and I found myself in a close encounter with the neighborhood hawk.

He or she has been around all summer, but we mainly spot the big bird of prey at a distance hanging out in the woods behind our house. This was a much more personal inspection, and I can’t help but think the child of dinosaurs just wondered what that big pink child of rats was up to.

He (me) was up to gathering the wood, digging trenches around the old sandbox, putting the new timbers in place, trimming them where needed (we bought all 10-foot lengths, the sandbox is 10 by 8, but I needed extra length so that the new frame would totally encase the old, so I cut two 10-foot lengths down to 8 and 4 inches or so). I was glad to have a power saw.

Mr. or Ms. Hawk didn’t stick around long and headed west after a few minutes of inspection.

An Iowa hawk eyes me as I work on the sandbox.

An Iowa hawk eyes me as I work on the sandbox.

I continued my slow work. About an hour later, I suppose it was around 7:30, my wife came home and noticed a loud stirring in the ash trees behind the fence. It could have been the hawk, but a few minutes later, after Audrey left to run an errand (fetch me drill bits, actually), I heard fussing again, and this time it was two wild turkeys engaged in some dispute.

They were a lot louder than the hawk. Not quite as big—still big birds—but much noisier.

I’ve heard of distraught turkeys occasionally abusing humans, so when one landed in the oak 10 feet over my head, I loudly encouraged it to move on and festively waived my hammer at it. It took the hint.

Turkey in a tree, in some territorial dispute with another turkey.

Turkey in a tree, in some territorial dispute with another turkey.

Anyway, I sized the boards, dug holes for them, put them in place and then lag bolted the corners together. I got all the corners pinned with one bolt each when my wife arrived back from a quick trip to a daughter’s to get back borrowed drill bits, and with the help of pilot holes, the pace of lag bolt installation picked up.

Me installing a lag bolt at a corner. Yes, the gap closed after the bolt entered the second board and was tightened.

Me installing a lag bolt at a corner. Yes, the gap closed after the bolt entered the second board and was tightened.

I didn’t finish the whole project by 9 p.m. when I called time due to darkness. I still have two boards to measure, cut and install as seating areas on the side of the new sandbox, but that should go fairly quickly. I would say the project is 80 percent done, and the new sandbox is mostly installed.

All in all, I don’t think I did too badly for several hours of work that started fairly late. I’m sure a person who is more handy with tools may have finished, but I am what I am, and “handy” is not in this writer’s self description.

Still, the sandbox sides are done and will hold for another 10 years, I think, which is good because the sandbox was originally installed mostly for the good of my youngest son, who turns 21 tomorrow. But, now, the sandbox sees heavy use by grandchildren.

The plastic pails and shovel has been passed to a new generation. And dinosaurs are among the most popular toys in the sandbox, so maybe having the biggest of the neighborhood dinosaurs stop by on inspection tours was only appropriate.

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The Lunch Break For A Tree Rodent

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My diet today is pretty set—pie for breakfast, cold turkey sandwich for lunch followed by pie for desert, maybe some warm leftovers for supper. Such is it always the day after turkey day.

I don’t mind the wake of Thanksgiving Day—in fact, I am such a lover of the after-Thanksgiving cold turkey sandwich that I consider this to be probably the best food day of the year.

Anyway, I was a good boy and went to the gym this morning-which is unarguably a good thing, considering my eating plans. Before getting dressed, I chanced to look outside and saw this tree rodent dining on my crab apples.

It was a cold day, as you can see from his or her fluffy fur and tail. I have long enjoyed watching squirrels. They were always “there” when I was growing up in Clinton Iowa, a fun animal to watch. Once, when digging for some random reason, I found a skull in my backyard, and my father identified it as a squirrel skull.

It made me really sad to think that a squirrel had died.

Now, as an adult gardener, I must admit squirrel death doesn’t have quite the same tragic feel to it. When I find one of those tree rats digging for my flower bulbs, I do have less than charitable thoughts. And when we lived in Missouri, there was a family of tree rodents living in our attic that we waged a mighty campaign to oust. I don’t know for sure we succeeded. They have teeth that are prodigious in their gnawing ability. And they attack bird feeders, too. So I have lots of reasons not to like squirrels.

Yet, they are far less destructive than the Satan of the garden that hops along with its darn cottony tail and long ears. I would rather have 20 squirrels than one rabbit.

So, I will suffer the squirrel. Let him or her eat. He or she needs the calories on this cold, windy day. So, I’ll fix me a turkey sandwich and watch out my window. I just saw a cardinal in a bare lilac bush, but was downloading squirrel images, so I didn’t try to shoot it. Feed on, tree rodent. I bet my lunch tastes better than yours.

Nov. 28 update:  On Sunday, I saw a neighborhood squirrel, possibly the same one, eating in a pear tree right next to my home office window.  Closer images are on this Facebook gallery.

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