Sunday, September 24, 2023

Dark Night of the Soul

 The bored Gods know I've been through some things and have had some dark times. This is one of those times.

On or about August 7, I got a call from the schedule director at my school. He told me I had been moved from freshmen to seniors for my entire school schedule. In 15 years I had never taught seniors. I have always made it abundantly clear that I like freshmen.

Not only do I have seniors, I have all the seniors who don't qualify for Honors or Advanced Placement. Our school also sends our best and brightest seniors to the junior college. So the seniors I have are mostly male and mostly cashed out already. I gave them a questionnaire about their reading habits (or lack thereof) and only one of 76 students reported liking to read.

Two teachers of seniors quit last spring. The only other teacher of seniors this year has all the Honors and Advanced Placement seniors. She is starting her sixth year, while I am starting my 15th.

Rarely does my reality match my anxieties about what might happen, but the first two and a half weeks of this school year are coming damn close. Students who flounder academically are more likely to act out. They are more likely to have poor attendance. And if they have perfected any skill, it's manipulating the system.

I have poured vast amounts of energy into engaging these students, and the best I can say is that they are not openly defiant. But I am dreading each and every morning and coming home exhausted every afternoon.

No worries! Only five more years to go after this one! [Sarcasm]

It's not clear who made the decision to put me in this position. The man who called me on August 7 blamed the woman upon whom I had already initiated banework. She, in turn, told me to my face that she had no hand in the schedule.  It could have been the principal himself. He only cares whether or not the students are wearing their uniforms and IDs, which is an easy ask with freshman but impossible with seniors.

I could have been placed with 76 students who hate school simply because I had success keeping my freshmen in their uniforms and IDs.

Or, more likely, it was yet another vindictive act from someone who bears me ill will and can lie with a straight face as well as any cheap politician.

Either way, I have ramped up my work for the union. Our steward has noted that the chronologically oldest teachers at both campuses have suddenly been given seniors for the first time.

Yes, I have initiated my banework, using multiple tactics.

The only consolation I have in this dark night of the soul is that I have so many great connections with the support staff in my building. I know all the janitors and security guards and enjoy warm, friendly relationships with them. They don't blink an eye if I ask them to unlock an office door or point out a parking space. This is my only blessing in the workplace just now.

I have so little energy at the end of the day that I can't even contemplate writing an amusing blog post. Best I've been able to do so far is drag myself to the gym to exercise, but I'm not sure how long that will last when it starts getting dark earlier.

Last week I took a plate of fresh scones and a pot of tea to Sisyphus, just to ask for a little good advice. He said I should go review The Exile and the Kingdom by Camus and adjust my enthusiasm to match my students'. Sounds like a plan.

Here's hoping this Equinox finds you in a patch of sunlight with a soft cat on your lap. Don't give up on "The Gods Are Bored." I'm a stubborn someone. I'll be back.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

How I Met My Anneland Neighbor: A Horror Story

 Trigger warning again from "The Gods Are Bored": The story you are about to read is pretty horrifying, especially since it's true. If you don't like to be scared, stop here.

The estimable Oscar Wilde once said, "When the Gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." Not gonna argue that one, Oscar. And I've met lots of Gods and Goddesses.

I bought a 4 acres of undeveloped, off-the-grid property in 2021. It's about a half mile from where my great-grandparents are buried, and it's all wooded. It was a longtime prayer I offered to the Gods, to let me have a little piece of ground in the land of my ancestors.

When I bought the property, my family (and some of you too) were worried about bears. There are bears around in those mountains, but I have only ever seen one in all my 64 years. I wasn't particularly worried about bears.

But I was worried about people.

My family in New Jersey found this baffling, especially when I said that the biggest problem I would have in the area was my New Jersey license plates. This observation met with wide ridicule in the bosom of the fam. Who looks at license plates? Ridiculous!

Hmmm. Not like I grew up in the mountains, and they didn't.

Anyway, just lately I went to Anneland for a long weekend. The weather turned out absolutely splendid. Instead of being hot and humid, it was breezy and cool, more like September than August. This allowed me to do some serious trailblazing to make it easier for me to get up and down the hills.

On Saturday evening, I parked my car where I could see it and decided to stay to star-gaze. The Perseids are sort of over, but the star-gazing is just fabulous on any given clear night in the mountains.

First I watched the sun set. Then I listened to the katydids as they geared up. The twilight was lovely, and the insect symphony was gorgeous.

Just as the sky was turning from deep blue to black, a big white pickup truck passed my car on the road. The truck drove really slow. It took me about five minutes to decide that I'd better scrap the star-gazing and mosey along. (I overnight in a nearby campground with cabins.)

I had just reached the car and had my hand on the door handle when a very tall man with a very large German shepherd emerged from my property, raging about "motherfuckin' New Jersey tags." I literally didn't even have time to hop in the car before he was in my face.

It was dark. He was drunk. The dog didn't bark.

I said, "Hey, hey, hey. I own this property, I bought it from Charla. Are you B*** P*****?"

(The said B.P. is the nearest neighbor, living off the grid and unseen across the road.)

He said, "What are these goddamn Jersey plates?"

I said, "I live in New Jersey, but I grew up around here." I then began to go down a list of all my relatives, living and dead, in the township. I dropped the names of my three second cousins that I was sure he knew.

He said, "What do you know about the fire ring up on the state land?"

I said, "Nothing, because it's not on my land, but I don't like it there. It's too small and surrounded by dry leaves - a forest fire waiting to happen."

Then I went back to the "Who's Who," and he began to confirm that he knew these people. The guy was blotto, but some of what I was saying began to filter through. And then, as drunken men in the backwoods will do, he began to tell me how the government was buying up all the land around there, and -- yes, this sounds like a conspiracy -- they had plans. That's why he was concerned about the New Jersey plates. "I took a picture of them when you was up on the state land," he said.


So in my most soothing voice, throwing in a little accent for good measure, I explained that my grandfather's farm got sold, and I just wanted a little piece of ground, and I was lucky to get this tract from Charla at a good price, and I had no plans to build anything on it, and he could hunt it to his heart's content.

At this point he introduced me to his dog, who sniffed me politely and let me pet her massive head.

But that's when it got really terrifying.

So convincing was I with the genealogy, the name-dropping, and the "pity poor me that I even have to live in New Jersey," that he got flirty. He wanted to know if I was married, and where my husband was. He wanted to know why I used my maiden name, which he reassuringly pronounced "Jawnson." As I answered these questions he began to address me as "milady" and started apologizing. He wanted to know how old I was, and when I told him he said I didn't sound that old (this whole conversation took place in pitch dark). I said he would know my age if he could actually see me, but I didn't open the car door or turn on my flashlight.

The nearest house to my property is about 150 yards away. And it's around a bend. Only about three cars use the road during an entire 24-hour period, so there was about a ten percent chance another driver would come by.

The convo continued, self keeping it light as possible, and it did run on, because the dude was in his cups in that effusive way that would put your hair on end if you were sitting in a crowded pub. Finally after about 20 minutes the tension was mostly diffused. Then I politely bade him good night, saying I had to phone up the husband at a certain time. With a few more "milady" and a "blessed be," he stepped aside. I got in my car and waved to him and his oddly benign dog as I pulled away.

I have never been more terrified in my life.

Safely ensconced in my tourist cabin, I mulled what to do as my heart rate very, very slowly came down from mortal peril to red alert. Then I decided. I couldn't let this man scare me off my land that I had waited so long to obtain. I had planned to go back to Anneland in the morning. I determined to enact that plan. To hold my ground, so to speak.

After a sleepless night I put on my big girl pants and went back to my land. I plopped in my folding chair and read my book. Sadly, instead of being soothed by the fabulous forest, I was on hyper alert, fully realizing that the Gods were punishing me by answering my prayers. But it was quiet, and I did a little more trail blazing, and then at about 2:45 I started back for my car, which was parked at a pull-off just beside my property that is on state forest land.

As soon as I got to my car I saw the white pickup truck coming. He must have been waiting for me, but he made it look like a coincidental encounter.

He stopped, rolled the window down, and said, "I'm sorry about the ruckus last night."

We shook hands and chatted a little bit about how he had Jawnsons in his family tree, and we were most definitely related somehow. I repeated pretty much the spiel I'd given him the night before, figuring he probably didn't remember much of it. The dog was in the passenger seat.

We chatted about 15 minutes, and I wish I could tell you that, in the sober light of a Sunday afternoon, he was a changed man.  Well, he wasn't combative, and he wasn't flirty, but he had way too much to say about government takeovers, and how the state police had violated his rights on more than one occasion. He inquired about my profession, and I told him about teaching at the Vo-Tech.

Chillingly, he asked, "Anyone in your family in the military?"

I replied emphatically in the negative.

After some parting pleasantries, he drove off and so did I, in opposite directions.

Did you ever notice that, when buying a house or a property, people will ask dozens of questions but never inquire about the neighbors -- what kind of people they are, and if there's ever been any problems with them? I sure didn't think of it when querying the property seller about the surroundings. She said merely that her brother lived off the grid, down over the hill, and that she didn't really talk to him. This family's surname is quite known and respected in the vicinity.

Call it a lapse, or wishful thinking. I just didn't account for a paranoid hermit just a few years younger than me. The mountains have always hosted people like this, but just as with everything else, the Internet has stoked a whole new level of anxiety.

The "ruckus" happened four days ago, and I still haven't recovered. I'll never be comfortable staying on my property after dark. And the bear spray Yellowdog Granny sent me will be in my pocket at all times.

It'll be like forest bathing with a snapping turtle in the tub.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Why I Hated the Barbie Movie


Oh boy, here comes that curmudgeon from "The Gods Are Bored," about to sneer and jeer at the summer's most iconic (and history's highest earning) movie. Trust me, though, this will not be a defense of Ken. Instead I feel like someone ought to point out the failure of imagination, the indefensible and incomprehensible messages about mothers and daughters, and about the autonomy of tweens in this troubling confection of a film.

What? Barbie is a failure of imagination? But Greta Gerwig! Nah, it's not Greta's fault. It's that big ol' Mattel, trying to be cute and boost the bottom line with more sales of a flagship product.

Let's start with the character Weird Barbie. Oh boy! This movie is going to explore the fact that some kids clip their Barbies' hair and bend them out of shape!

Oh brother.

Let me tell you about the Weird Barbies that dwelled in my home when one of my daughters was a tween and the other an impressionable stripling.

Oh yes, my tween daughter played with Barbies. Gosh, we had a bin of them.  We had:

*anorexic Barbie

*pathological tattooed Barbie

*drug addicted Barbie

*parkour Barbie with attendant injuries


*gender fluid Ken

One day I heard a lot of drama being performed in the living room, and when I investigated, these are the Barbies my daughter introduced me to. Now, I have lived long enough to know that nothing -- and I mean nothing about my lives or my children's lives -- is unique to our home. I'm 100% certain that other imaginative youngsters in other imaginative homes were playing with their too-skinny-too-cheerful dolls in the same manner.

See the dark turn this film takes if a director tackles the reality of this toy meant to be sold in the truckloads to enhance shareholder value? But wait, there's more.

In the film, our heroine Stereotypical Barbie becomes existential when her real-world owner starts entwining real-world thoughts with the toy. Okay, that's an interesting premise. Whoa, see above! But I have a deeper question. If Barbie's toy behavior is interwoven with her owner's behavior, what happens to

*naked thrift store Barbie hanging upside down in a plastic bag?

I'll leave that to you to ponder.

Let's move along.

In the opening sequence, listless young girls are seen playing with baby dolls, an activity that the narrator ensures us lacks all imagination and prepares the children for nothing but motherhood. As if motherhood in and of itself has no worth. Thank you, feminists of the 1960s and 1970s, for vilifying the human race's most important task, thereby providing the oligarchy with a workforce it could pay less and work harder while dumping children in daycare! And thank you, Barbie creator, for Supreme Court Barbie, as if every youthful beauty with a 26-inch waist can sit on our nation's highest court! You know what Barbie has never been in all her incarnations? A mom. And that is our nation's disgrace. But it does make rich men richer.

Ironically, the secondary hero of this film is a mom. This mom is sad because her tween daughter is dressing in grunge and separating from her, as all tweens do. The tween caught my attention more than the mom. For my money the best scene in the whole film is where Barbie, in all her blonde fake pinkness, introduces herself to the grungy teen and quickly gets showered with disdain and sent packing. I loved that! If there was a brief moment of verisimilitude in this film, that was it.

But as the film unfolds and the tween's mom becomes ascendant, the tween goes along for the ride and winds up pretty in pink, dancing and laughing with the Barbies. Friends, this was seriously offensive. Tween girl, you've got it all wrong, with your grunge and dirty hair! Get with the Mattel program! Here's a pink bolero jacket. Look how cute you are in it!

No. Just no. Grunge tween should have had the autonomy to tell Barbie and her mom that clothes don't matter. Thinking matters. Being yourself matters. And if your self loves dark shapeless clothing, you have the right to your choice. And you're a tween. It's natural to be seeking some distance from your parents and to make a statement about who you are.

Now it gets personal.

Barbie was created the year I was born. Of course I had one of these dolls by the time I was four. I didn't play with Barbie much. Her big tits and wasp waist bothered me. Also, she came clad in a swimsuit, and if you wanted her to be dressed you had to buy clothes. All my friends had better Barbie clothes than I did. So I ditched Barbie in favor of playing Vietnam War with the boys.

In the film we meet Barbie's creator, an actress who I just love who here plays against type as a gentle, struggling grandma who wanted to earn a living wage. Okay, Mattel. Whatever you say.


This gentle grandma creator gives Stereotypical Barbie the greatest gift - becoming human. And what does it mean to be human? Well, many of the images projected on the screen are of mothers loving and nurturing children. Very sweet indeed. But, Barbie? You were born in 1959. You are no longer the Maiden or the Mother. You're now a Crone. Welcome to being a 64-year-old woman! You are:

*hip replacement Barbie

*arthritis Barbie

*anxious mammogram Barbie

*chronic earache Barbie

*underpaid overworked bullied Barbie

*true existential crisis Barbie

*anxiety disorder Barbie


*OK Boomer Barbie

How do you like it so far?

The bottom line is that the Barbie movie was funded and produced by two companies, Universal Studios and Mattel, whose interests lie in market share. So they got a talented director to make a pretty film that takes shots at the patriarchy but certainly never addresses the problematic role Barbie has played in the lives of generations of young girls. I have to give credit to my own daughter for sinking her Barbies deep into the dark side of America, making them suffer the way so many American women do.

And by the way, that same daughter reversed an overdose on the streets of Philadelphia this weekend. The victim was a slender young girl who ran away as soon as she could stand.

Thursday, August 03, 2023

She Is the Storm

 Here at "The Gods Are Bored" we had a whopper of a storm a few weeks ago. For about 15 minutes all hell broke loose outside. The power flickered. Wind shook the house. Stuff started hitting the windows. Mr. J and I just looked at each other, one waiting for the other to be the first to sprint to the basement. Curiously, our phones didn't beep for a weather emergency.

There was no thunder or lightning. Just wind and rain. Then it passed as quickly as it had come.

Prior to the storm, I was grilling a few nice hotdogs outside. (It was the Fourth of July, now that I come to think of it.) I kept looking at the clouds, because they were roiling, in all sorts of dark and ominous patterns, with no discernable wind direction. Again no thunder or lightning. Just clouds acting weird. Just a scary sky.

Fast forward to the aftermath of this storm. My yard was strewn with big oak branches that had blown two blocks from the little park to the south. When I walked around to see the park, it lay in shambles. On the street neighboring mine, so many trees had been toppled that they lay 20 feet high all along the lane. Houses were damaged by falling trees all around. I don't know how Mr. J and I got lucky, with only branches to be rounded up.

This kind of weather event is called a "microburst." It only affected Haterfield and one other community. This meant that the next day, every tree service in the Delaware Valley arrived all at once to begin cleanup.

We've been hearing chain saws and wood chippers ever since. For a solid month. There is still work to do.

This is the second catastrophic microburst we've had around here in 3 years.

I wouldn't give that any more thought, except that John Beckett reports in his blog "Under the Ancient Oaks" that some people are hearing from a nameless Storm Goddess, and they don't know what to make of it. The only thing they're sure about was that this is a Goddess, and not a bored god like Huracan, who has a name.

Hindsight is 20-20, so I'm pretty sure now that this ancient Storm Goddess passed through my neighborhood. I would never have had the courage to invite Her in for tea and pie, but I wish I had at least gone out on the porch to hail Her.

The people hearing from this Storm Goddess are perplexed because She doesn't seem to be part of any historical pantheon. To this I say, why would She be? We only have the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the deities who have been praised and worshipped by the human race.

Ha ha! As luck has it, I have a shrine in my back yard that is dedicated expressly to all of these ancient and forgotten deities. So as I prepared my shrine for Lughnasadh, I tried to commune with this Storm Goddess.

My feeling, after some meditation, is that this Goddess comes to us from the end of the last Ice Age. She does not relate to any pantheon we have on record. She is not a Goddess of weather, but a Goddess of climate. She has been roused by the warming.

There must have been generations of Paleolithic people who watched their lands change right under them. Or who found their living space inundated by new or swollen rivers. My goodness, the whole Chesapeake Bay went from a river valley to a vast brackish expanse in just 7,000 years. There had to have been some cataclysmic moments in that.

I'm no mystic or seer. Have you noticed? I'm a humorist. But when I went to the Shrine of the Mists and started musing on this Storm Goddess, all I saw was the end of the Ice Age.

My take on this Storm Goddess? She doesn't like it hot. She is the Goddess of Climate.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

A Rant about Baseball

 This is "The Gods Are Bored," and I assure you, I love baseball. It's my favorite sport, because I am in constant awe that anyone could hit such a small ball, moving so fast, in such a way that it will fall somewhere in a field. It's amazing. And it's the only sphere (ha ha) of life where being 1/3 good at your job makes you a superstar.

As a child, I went to sleep listening to the Baltimore Orioles on the radio. My parents were Orioles fans, and they would put the game on at night. I can clearly remember wondering how all the players' names were spelled. Sure, Jim Palmer and Brooks and Frank Robinson, easy. But Andy Echebarran? Carl Yazstremski? Mike Cuellar? Woof.

The Orioles were great throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Then they got hot again in 1979, just in time for me to be living six blocks from the stadium through the summer. To sweeten the pot, the Orioles had a student ticket price of $1.75 for upper deck. Yes, the decimal point is in the right place.

I went to every home game that summer.

The way it worked was, I would walk down to the stadium, go to a ticket booth, show my student ID, get a paper ticket, and go to the turnstile. At the turnstile, one of many ushers would tear the ticket in half and give back the stub. Done! Find a seat. Sometimes I sat by myself, sometimes I had friends with me, and sometimes I sat in a section full of rowdies who, like me, went every night.

When I got home from a game, I would take a piece of scotch tape and tape the ticket stub to the wall in my apartment. I didn't start doing this until nearly mid-season, but I'm pretty sure I had more than 50 stubs on that wall.

Good times, good times.

But enough of the great bygone days. Let's look at a modern trip to the ballpark, shall we?

The Orioles were in Philadelphia for a three-game visit. Self, Fair, and Mr. J got seats for the 7/25/23 game, which cutely happened to be "Christmas in July." I am fully aware of how Philadelphia fans treat visiting teams and their fans, but I was determined to wear my bright orange Orioles Hawaiian shirt that The Heir had trash-picked from West Philly. More about that in a moment.

Mr. J purchased the tickets, lower deck on the third base side. They cost $60 apiece, with another $20 for guaranteed parking near the third base entrance. The cost alone is jaw-dropping. But to make matters worse, I had to download an app to access a QR code that was my ticket. Ponder this. Go ahead, I'll give you a moment.

This is Philadelphia, so of course I got trash-talked before even getting within spitting distance of the ballpark. But the Orioles are hot at the moment, and Baltimore is only 100 miles from Philly, so I had plenty of fellow fans in orange to commiserate with. (Mr. J wore neutral colors and Fair, a fan of all things Philadelphia, was decked in home team colors.)

When we got to the entry kiosk, I didn't know how to hold my phone so the stadium could scan the code. Fair had to do it for me. And oh yes, before that step we had to go through a security checkpoint that took an X-ray of the contents of our purses.

Finally in the stadium, $200 out of pocket, and one "go back to Baltimore" so far.

Reader, have you been in one of these modern ballparks? They are as loud as the halls of Hell. It isn't fans cheering, it's the jumbo-trons. DANG you cannot hear the person sitting next to you! (Which, given that I was surrounded by Phillies fans, might have been a good thing.)

Mr. J and I had been determined to eat an early dinner before we went to the ballpark. But one thing led to another, and we didn't. The worst place in the world to be hungry is a modern baseball park. The food is dreadful, and you have to take a second mortgage to purchase it. No exaggeration: a bottle of water is five bucks. I don't know what Mr. J spent on the inedible sandwiches he bought for us, but he tells me they don't take cash at the food stands. Lord love ten thousand fruit flies! I'll bet he paid more for the food and beverages we consumed during that game than we did for the half bushel of large, fat crabs from TL Morris Seafood last week.

The stadium was packed. The fans were loud. The Phillies either trailed or tied until the bottom of the ninth, when they got two outs and then scored and won the game. This exhibit about sums it up.


About all I can say is, my shirt is the tits.

I wish I could say I'm done with live baseball for all time, but I already have a ticket to another game in late August. This ticket only cost $40, but then I bought a plus-one for Mr. J, so oh boy. It's possible for us to use mass transit to get to the ballpark, which will maybe save us a whopping $10. But I am going to be like Persephone in Hades and not let a morsel of food or drink pass my lips while there.

Just think of it. I saw a whole damn season of home games in 1979 for less than one game in 2023. And I had something to tape on the wall when I got home.

About the only thing that's stayed the same is my devotion to the Baltimore Orioles. What a great team. Go Birds!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Annie's Helpful Guide to Hiking Steep Mountains When You're Past Your Prime

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Hard to admit, yes it is, but I am past my prime. And for those of you striplings who say, "Age is a mindset, not a number," well. You must still be young. Age isn't a number, but it's a reality.

I may be past my prime, but I'm nowhere near dotage. This means that the urge to dance, hike, and otherwise carry on is still an itch that can be scratched.

Hiking is one of those pastimes that come with an unfortunate drawback. The drawback is, if the hike is worth taking, it's going to be steep, rocky, or both. Take my word on this. I live close to the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and the hikes there are soft, level, and devoid of rocks. They are also boring as a Methodist tithing sermon. Pine trees, pine trees, and more pine trees. With an oak or ten thousand thrown in for variety.

I'm just back from beautiful Anneland, and the hiking there is middling interesting.


As you can see from the helpful exhibit, the mountains in the region of Anneland are not terribly tall. But any mountain is steep when you start climbing it.

I have been frustrated with my inability to climb mountains for the past three years. But this year I figured out a hack. It will drive the striplings nuts, but for me it works!

Here are the steps:

1. When the hiking gets steep and/or rocky, proceed thirty paces, looking only at the few paces right in front of you, then rest. 

2. Do not look ahead at the trail in front of you while resting, except to confirm the next blaze. Look back at what you have accomplished.

3. If, after 30 paces you feel like you can go farther, go ahead. Stop when you run out of breath or see a cute mushroom or find a stand of wild raspberries.

4. In the summertime, go hiking early. It's too hot in the middle and end of the day.

Now you, too, can be a successful (if slow as hell) hiker!

One final piece of free advice: It's never a good idea to hike alone. However, if you do, be sure to let two different people know what trails you'll be on and when you plan to be back. When you get back, call both people to check in. This is what I did on my last visit to Anneland, and by this means I was able to conquer the nearest steep trail.

All the blessings of the bored Gods to you! Let me know about your hiking. It's a great way to spend a morning.

Monday, July 17, 2023

A Chirpin' and A Cheepin' Y'all

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm just off the surreal adventure of driving back to New Jersey from Anneland. The first 40 miles are country roads with epic vistas and no cars in either direction. The last 40 miles are frenetic, bumper-to-bumper freeways leading into the center of Philadelphia. Whoosh! Like entering another dimension.

When I visit Anneland (I will have photos in a future installment), I frequent the local eateries. One of the things I like to do, sitting alone over a steamy plate of sausage gravy and biscuits, is evesdrop on the conversations around me. I don't do this out of nosiness, but rather because the peoples' country accents are such music to my ears. I lost my rural accent long ago, but I love hearing it coming from other folks.

But here's something I bet you didn't know. Wild birds have regional accents too! Can you believe it? It's true. After hearing it with my own ears, I asked Dr. Google. Yep, so true.

The spoiled and pampered blue jays in my New Jersey wildlife refuge -- the ones that get fresh peanuts in the shell every morning -- make a soft peep peep. The blue jays out on Anneland, scrawny and peanut-deprived, have a hoarser pip pip and a throatier caw. The cardinals in NJ say TWEET pow pow pow. The same call near Anneland is GECK o.

One bird that has the good sense to boycott suburban New Jersey is the eastern towhee. For my money, this is a great bird. It really brings back my happiest youthful days to hear the towhees calling one another as evening falls. They say Drink your TEA. 

I guess if they lived in New Jersey they would say Wanna BEER?

I had lots of fun adventures. More soon!