Category Archives: Mysteries


We have finally identified the bird living in the birdhouse – it’s a house wren!   It took a while because she (I have no clue but I like to think of her as a her) hangs around near the birdhouse but is a little skittish about going in and out while we’re in the yard. I’m also not a whizz where bird identification is concerned.

She sings like crazy.  I’m not sure how birds do it; I’d need throat lozenges every night if I gave out as much as they do.  On Saturday, I was lounging about in the backyard and I thought I’d doublecheck my identification, just to make sure.  She was hanging about, singing her little heart out so I figured comparing her birdsong to bird calls on the internet would be interesting.  I opened the first website I found and hit play.

Her reaction was immediate.  She lit off her branch and came straight at me.  She didn’t get too close for comfort, but it was definitely a warning.  No other house wrens allowed in her yard.   I did it again on Sunday to see if it had just been a fluke.  No fluke.  She definitely did not want any competition and came at me again.  No more bird calls off the internet for me!

Any loud persistent folks in your life?

Cheese Poll

Photo credit: The Cricket Gallery

I do most of my “library-ing” at the Washburn Library.  It’s just 2 blocks away and it would be a lie if I said it was on the list of considerations when I bought this house.  I’m probably there twice a week.

Last week I needed a copy of something right away (for my other book club) and the closest copy was at the Southdale location.  At Southdale, all the library action begins on the second floor and as I came up the steps and rounded the corner, I encountered this table:

Apparently May is National Cheese month.  Who knew?  Anyway, it looks like they do a tally like this every month.  You choose a little paper slip and put it in the cylinder of your choice.  Not sure why they do this, but seemed like a bit of harmless fun.

I voted for Paneer because I love the underdog.

Did you have a favorite childhood cartoon? Or we can discuss cheese!

Is a Puzzlement

Doing some errands last week – had been raining all day.  Waiting for the left-turn arrow at an intersection, I noticed that on the berm between the street and the parking lot, the automatic sprinklers had turned on.

Thinking of all the technology we have these days (people on the moon, 3-d printing, chatbots, apps that can track your heartrate – the list goes on and one), why can’t they program automatic sprinklers to know when it’s raining?

Any absurdity bothering you this week?

Da Vinci Glow

Photo credit:  Forrest Boutin, Getty Images

Ever heard of a Da Vinci Glow?  I hadn’t… even with my dad’s interest is all thing astronomical!

It’s a real thing… It’s happens around sunset when a crescent moon is on the horizon, but the outline of a full moon is visible.  It’s called a DaVinci Glow because… wait for it… Leonardo was the one to hypothesize why it occurs.

The glow is caused by light reflecting off the Earth onto the moon.  Sounds weird, right.  Earthshine is light emitted by the Earth after the sun has gone down.  Because Earthshine is actually brighter than moonlight, the reflection “fills in” the crescent.

Although Da Vinci Glow is not rare, there are a few requirements.  It’s easier to see when there is a waxing or waning crescent during clear skies.  The fly in the ointment is that enough of the Earth needs to have cloud-cover to get the best view.  Apparently Earthshine is reflected more by the clouds of our planet than by the land or water. 

Since we have a waxing moon starting later this week, we’ll have the best chance of seeing the Da Vinci Glow this month!

Have you ever noticed this phenomenon?  Anything else in the night sky interest you these days?

Bookmark That!

Last week when I stopped at the library, I noticed a basket on the little table inside the door, filled with bookmarks.  A sign on the basket said “A Year’s Worth of Bookmakrs. Please take one.”   Turns out it was a collection of all the bookmarks found in returned books over the last year.  Apparently they do this every year; I must have just missed it before. 

There were a good 40 bookmarks in the basket and I was tempted to look through them all to see if any of them were mine.  I expect with the number of library books I borrow that one or two bookmarks might have found their way to the library!

I have a cannister on my dresser that is filled with my bookmarks.  I will always pick up a bookmark if one is being offered.  (Ask Chris, I have several of his!) One of my latest favorites is a cutout of Smokey the Bear that I got at the state fair last year. 

You’d think that with at least 25 bookmarks in my cannister that I wouldn’t need to take another one from the library basket.  Well, you’d be wrong, I flipped through them all and picked out a striking one from a publisher with brightly colored book spines on it!

Do you have bookmarks?  Do you have a place to keep your bookmarks?

Six Hours Down the Tube

Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you.  Yesterday, after listening to the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes song (thank you, Wes), I went out in search of the movie and found four of them. I watched them all so that you never have to. The first one (Attack) got terrible reviews but the cast and crew had their tongues stuck in their cheeks so firmly that it was hard not to warm up to the film.  I’m not even sure I can recount the plot (there just barely is one) but suffice it to say that tomatoes start killing people and are eventually overcome by a song named “Puberty Love”.  The movie is filled from beginning to end with sight gags, bad puns and atrocious over-acting.  I can understand why it has attained the status of “cult classic”. 

The second film in the series is Return of the Killer Tomatoes.  Two notable cast members stand out – John Astin as the mad scientist who supposedly was behind the killer tomato attacks in the first movie (although Astin was not in Attack).  The other is a very young George Clooney who plays a pizza jock who is also a bit of a horn dog.  Return, although made by the same crowd as Attack, takes itself more seriously which makes the movie not even remotely fun.

Killer Tomatoes Strike Back.  John Astin is also back, this time trying to gain control of the world using brainwashing and thought control.  Rick Rockwell plays the main character and the only redeeming thing about him is the wild assortment of Zumba pants he wears throughout.  Oh – and the tomatoes get faces in this one.  I will admit there is one very funny scene in which the bad tomatoes and Astin attempt to make a BLT with the female lead instead of slices of tomato.

Killer Tomatoes Eat France is thankfully the last of the series.  This time John Astin escapes from prison and tries to take over the world by re-creating the French Revolution and proclaiming his minion Igor as King.  Why this would result in world domination is never made clear.  The most noteworthy thing about this one is that the tomatoes have gotten seriously ugly with bad teeth, the occasional eye patch and tongues (ick) and finally after all this time, they finally have the power of speech. There is one monster fire-breathing tomato but he/she doesn’t get much film time.  Too bad.

I’m not recommending that anybody else waste their time watching any of these except maybe the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – if it’s cold out and you have an hour or so with nothing else planned.  The others?  Don’t even bother.  They took a fun quirky idea and ran it straight into the ground.

Tell me about your favorite tomato dish!

A Bit Corny

YA made popcorn on Sunday.  She always dumps it into one of our big yellow bowls which she carries around with her until she is finished.  Most of the time she brings the bowl into my room and offers me some.

On Sunday, she was shaking the bowl as she picked out a few pieces for me and the sound made me think she had a lot of un-popped kernels.  I asked her if she had a lot of old maids and she looked at me as if I had frogs jumping out of my ears. 

She did not know that the un-popped corns were called old maids.  In fact, upon further discussion it turns out that she also did not know that old maid was a derogatory term used for unmarried women.  While it’s probably a good thing that old maids is fading from our consciousness, it took me by surprise.  There is so much that I consider common knowledge that just isn’t anymore.

How do you like your corn?  Air-popped, kettle, plain or buttered?  Creamed?

Bad to Good?

The first real day of gardening for me includes attacking my creeping charlie.  While I was working, I remembered the Godzilla comparison I wrote about a couple of years ago.  But since getting rid of creeping Charlie is a good thing in my world, how could I be Godzilla, a horrible, scary, destructive monster.

I was thinking through all the Godzilla movies (yes, I’ve seen them all, even the Matthew Broderick) and it occurred to me that in the Japanese films, Godzilla went through a “nice-ification” over the years.  In a few of the movies, Godzilla actually comes to the rescue by fighting off worse monsters (Mothra, Ghidorah, Gigan, Megalon, etc.)   When Godzilla became a father in Son of Godzilla, he really mellowed.

This is a more common occurrence than you realize.  I can think of a lot of characters who morph from the bad guys to good guys.  M.A.S.H. is the best example; although Frank Burns never redeemed himself, Colonel Blake started off as a lame head of the unit before he sobered up and became beloved of this staff, then Charles started off as a pain-in-the-patoot and gradually became just one of the guys.  Diagnosis Murder had a string of hospital administrators who started out as impediments and eventually became supporters of Dr. Sloan.  Hamilton Berger, the DA on the first Perry Mason series eventually toned down his attitude and even asked Perry to represent a friend of his at one point.  Lots of long-standing series went through this.

I’m glad I can still be Godzilla in my creeping Charlie battles without feeling guilty for destroying Tokyo!

Any bad guys that you actually like? Or morphed into someone you could like?

Greening of … the Twin Cities

As of Sunday morning, I am re-retired!  Although I’m doing a few hours a week of finish-up, my programs ran last Friday and Saturday and were a big hit, so I’m done.  Phew.

I knew before I went to bed Saturday night that one of my treats to myself would be a trip to Gertens.  YA and I got most of our plantings already (we’re big Bachmans supporters) but there were just a couple of things we still needed.  I slept in, had a late breakfast and then headed out.  I knew that it would be crowded; it was a gorgeous morning and the first nice weekend day we’ve had to far this “spring”.  And I was correct, it was very crowded; even the overflower parking lot across the street was full, with folks waiting for others to leave in order to snag their parking spot.  It felt as if everybody in the Twin Cities was there shopping.  All 12 outdoor cashier kiosks were open with lines at each one and the place was crawling with customers and employees.  I saw at least four different young men retrieving carts from all over the place.

I only needed plants for 3 baskets, including Dragonwing Begonias (which I adore) and I also wanted to check out raspberry canes.  The winter was not good to our canes and I thought I’d get a pot to fill in a sparse spot.

As you can see from the photo, I came away with much more than I intended.  A pretty yellow peony, a beautiful dark purple iris and two dual-color dianthus jumped onto my cart while I was pushing it around.  And the raspberry canes looked good, so got three pots instead of one.  I texted YA to say I shouldn’t be allowed to go to Gertens by myself!

Any places you are too tempted by to go by yourself?


Several years ago, YA came home with an unpainted plywood birdhouse; I don’t even remember where she found it.  It sat for a couple of years before she dragged out some of my paints and made cheery design in bright colors.  Then it sat for a couple more years until I put a layer of marine varnish on the outside of it and finally hung it up in the backyard. 

I only hung it up for decoration but was amazed last week to see that there are birds using it!  Assuming there are or might be baby birds; I’m terrified of what might happen if baby birds end up in the yard during their in-flight training.  So far I’ve been searching the back of the yard for any signs of life before letting Guinevere out.  

Never have I ever had birds in a birdhouse to contend with.  I’m happy but anxious.

Any advice?