Why isn’t that hairy woodpecker moving? Is it dead?

Our birds, ourselves

The Original Robyn From Maplewood: “Golfer Guy Mike and I have been feeding birds by way of feeders on our elevated deck for a couple of years now. We realize that in some circles, this activity qualifies us for geezer-hood, but we’re OK with that, having been called much worse in our respective seven decades.


“On the last Saturday of October, Mike was looking at the feeders and called me over. There was one hairy woodpecker hanging upside-down on the suet feeder. (We hang the suet perpendicular to the ground to keep the bigger birds away from it.) This was not unusual, except that the woodpecker was still as death. Nothing was moving — he had completely locked up. We honestly thought he was dead until about two minutes in, when we saw his head move slightly. A couple of seconds later, he took off into our tree.

“Since there were no other birds around before, during and after this episode, we thought there might be a predator bird in the area. Boy, were we right! About five minutes after the woodpecker sought refuge, a gorgeous peregrine falcon arrived and sat on our deck rail for about 15 seconds. I didn’t move to get the camera because I didn’t want to miss a second of this unexpected visit (or scare it away). What a beautiful bird, and what a special moment for us.”

Our pets, ourselves

The Happy Medium writes: “Subject: Guess who came to dinner.

“My sister and I had just opened our home to Marta, a Maine Coon kitten from the farm. We taught her the manners of the house: Don’t tear the curtains. Stay off the counters. Use the litter box. Don’t claw the davenport. You get the picture. We thought we were doing a fine job raising Marta, until . . .

“One evening our two nephews, their wives and children came to dinner. Each family had cats and were giving considerable attention to Marta. She loved this and stayed close as we seated ourselves at the table — beautifully set, I might add, with a roast beef entree and all the trimmings.

“When everyone was seated and ready for the prayer, out of nowhere came a furry form — Marta leaped straight up from the floor, landed on the beef roast with all four legs flailed out, ready to capture this aromatic treasure.

“Everyone looked with wide-eyed amazement at her audacity and agility, and I saw her determination to eat the entire roast in one gulp. After staring for two seconds, I snatched her from her captive target, my beautiful beef roast.

“I laughed nervously, and they laughed hilariously, saying it was perfectly OK to serve the meat, as they didn’t think the cat had touched it that much. So, after putting Marta in a secure place upstairs, I made a feeble motion of brushing off the roast, saying the prayer and passing the food.”

The Permanent Family Record
Plus: Our times

Lawyergirl of St. Paul writes: “Mom was in long-term care for a few years before her house was sold. A few days before Halloween, the last year she owned the house, I bought Halloween candy and brought it to her house. When my sister saw the candy, knowing I wasn’t available on Halloween, she told me that there was no need to bring candy because she’d be visiting Mom and wouldn’t be at the house to hand it out. I left it in the pantry.

“A few days after Halloween, my sister told me that she had, indeed, visited Mom on Halloween and reported that while she was there, Mom started talking about Halloween, the number of trick-or-treaters in past years, wondering how many there would be this year . . . and, much to my sister’s surprise, sent her to the house to hand out candy, just as I had expected.

“Once again, ‘cultural appropriation’ is being cited as a reason not to wear costumes that people might find offensive. Because people are so easily offended, there’s no end to what someone might find offensive. The obvious solution is not to care about who might take offense and wear the costume you want to wear.

“Bring back the Melting Pot.”

Now & Then

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Do you think the kiddies who can hardly wait to go trick-or-treating are put off by the constant barrage of weather predictions? For days, all the weather guys and gals on TV gave us giant doses of the hour-by-hour temps and precipitation for Oct. 31st. I know these meteorologists love bad weather, as it gives them their chance to get our attention, and one can see their excitement grow hourly.

“We had fewer kiddies coming to the door — and the number has gone down, mostly because it’s now an older neighborhood.

“When we came here in ’64, suburbs were pretty safe for kids: They could wait for the school bus by themselves, play outside even after dark, and we’d never think of some ‘creep’ lurking about. Now, all are shepherded to the school bus, or driven to school by a parent. We have Nine Mile Creek in our neighborhood, just a couple of blocks away — a huge place for kids to build forts, lose Dad’s tools down there, and come home, wet to the
knees quite often. If we had ‘lurkers’ back then, I never heard about it.

“Now, just the weather forecast is enough to keep the kidlets home. Thirty-degree temps would not have kept my kids inside, and saying ‘It’s too cold’ to someone ready to make a huge haul of candy in just a couple of hours of scrounging would never have kept them home.

“So, these children who rang our bell? They were dressed warmly, carried huge bags for their loot, and seemed to have either a parent or an older and bigger kid to oversee them. One ‘leader’ was a bit old for carrying a bag! He had the beginnings of a beard: thin hair, straggly-looking, on his chin. Passing out candy to all, I said: ‘When you have a beard already, I think you are too old for this!’ But I did give him a Milky Way for his pillowcase.

“Now, I know our leftover candy is in the freezer, but will that keep it safe? No way!”

Keeping your eyes open
And: CAUTION! Words at Play!

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Fall colors.

“Dale Lewis, a local artist, started welding stainless-steel sculptures a few years ago and has placed many of them around our area. This one is in a little park area near the intersection of 132nd Street East & Lock Boulevard on the northern outskirts of Hastings, Minnesota.


“It is the first one I’ve seen that he has painted, and I rather like the Harlequin coat it is wearing. Some might like the polished-steel look better, but if so, I think they are being hippo-critical.”

Where in the world are we?

Vertically Challenged: “Our New York daughter sent me this today. They’re selling these for their daughter’s dance class.


“They come from ‘the far reaches of cold, crisp Northern Minnesota.'”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We’ve never thought of Northern Minnesota as “crisp.” Don’t know how you’d tell, one way or the other!

Where we live (responsorial)

The Puppysitter: “Subject: Responding to Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff about the Twine Ball in Darwin.

“I was born and raised in Litchfield, a long time ago. We had lots of relatives in Minneapolis, so drove Highway 12 more often than I can count. This was before the Twine Ball was moved to the gazebo in Darwin, so we’d see it on Mr. Johnson’s property as we drove by. We certainly had no idea that it would become known — truly — worldwide and become the symbol of a town of fewer than 400 residents.”

Keeping your eyes open

Grandma Paula writes: “During the month of October, there were some spectacular sunsets — and for a change, on October 25 I was in the right place at the right time! I was downtown Hudson, with only my phone camera, so I rushed up to Birkmose Park, the perfect spot overlooking the St. Croix River and the I-94 bridge, and managed to capture these photographs before the sun set.”



Could be verse!

Tim Torkildson: “From the New York Times: ‘Noise pollution has been a growing problem in the oceans and other large bodies of water for decades. Commercial shipping, oil exploration, recreation and even scientific research are all raising the decibel levels within marine habitats, adding to naturally occurring rackets like earthquakes, crashing waves and tidal changes. And because sound travels farther in water than air, each new source has an outsize effect.’

“The ocean is a noisy place for oysters and seahorses;
“The sardines never get to hear the coral’s fine discourses.
“What with ships that churn the waves with deafening commotion,
“The mermaids now need hearing aids deep down within the ocean.

“The sharks and eels are so annoyed at such incessant drilling,
“They plough the sandy bottoms with their heads — like rototilling.
“The song of whales is drowned by scuba divers’ bubbly chatter,
“And scientific submarines cause jellyfish to shatter.

“The starfish fall; the shrimp go limp; the blowfish is deflated —
“Even bottom feeders are becoming nauseated.
“To stop the din I recommend we fill the seven seas
“With soundproofing material — such as Velveeta cheese!”


Or: The highfalutin bemusements

Elvis writes: “Elvis was paying this month’s credit-card bills. He’s pretty snazzy with doing it all online. He got to thinking about cyber-security and the way that each card company acknowledges his payment:

“One card gives a payment confirmation code that is one letter followed by four digits.

“The next card’s confirmation code is 10 digits long.

“The next is nine digits long.

“And then there is the ​last ​one, which is: letter number letter letter letter dash number number letter number letter.

“There is enough variance in these four cards and formats that it got his brain wondering about how strong is strong enough? There have been news reports that the protocols for good passwords were all wrong, and of course once that big credit reporting company got hacked, all bets seem to be off. So why even bother with a confirmation code at all?

“Just wondering.”

Band Name of the Day: Limp Shrimp

Website of the Day: Dale Lewis



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