I adore living in an older neighborhood with the established trees. It is so nice to have real shade and just looking at trees relaxes me. I love that most of the trees in our yard and in the neighborhood park are older than my parents and possibly my grandparents. One of the reasons I fell in love with Maryland was all the trees and it is so nice to have an area with trees in Illinois. I've read the studies about trees and how by just living near them can increase health and lower blood pressure. Until...the *squirrels*.
Now, I love squirrels just as much as the next gal. Who can resist their cute bushy tails and their little faces....those little faces which eat nuts on my porch and leave a mess in their wake (the pictures don't do them justice and this is after cleaning up). Those bushy tails which help them leap from branches to the roof and destroy our home. Grrrr. It is funny because the only reason squirrels have a better reputation than rats is the darn tail. Humans are suckers for a cute tail. I have turned into the crazy lady talking to the wildlife, shooing the squirrels (who don't seem to understand English, who knew?) off her property. I tried being nice and talking in the voice my kids use with squirrels, other animals, and younger children. You know the voice, "Please, squirrels, we enjoy you, but please don't eat on our porch or damage our property." It didn't work. I've tried stomping and yelling. It didn't work, but I did get some interesting looks from neighbors. I'm finding nuts hidden behind the pillows on our porch furniture and they really seem to like to sit at the porch table and leave the walnut casings behind. I really can't have them destroying the roof and getting into the attic. I've seen the destruction they can leave in their wake. I'm happy they find us so friendly, but they have to go. Internet search on discouraging squirrels.
Now I'm thinking of buying an owl or a hawk. In our old neighborhood (sans trees) we had rabbits. Rabbits were everywhere and ate anything you grew. We soon had a hawk move in close by and although it was tough explaining to the children about the hawk swooping down to "talk" to the rabbit and leaving nothing, but patches of fur behind. Yes, the hawk ate the rabbit, no we don't like to eat living beings, but it works for the hawk. There are so many rabbits it helps their population. Yes, I know the rabbits are individuals and that one with only fur left is probably not happy about giving up its life for the rest of rabbitkind. No the hawk is not bad, it has to eat to survive and isn't a vegetarian animal. Hey, look...over there....isn't that Bob the Builder?
Anyhoo, back to the squirrels (and by the way, we have our share of rabbits here to, but we haven't started a garden so you'll have to wait for that rant next spring). I need to find a way to co-exist without loosing my mind. I really hate cleaning up after them every morning and I really can't have them destroying things. If anyone has any humane ideas, let me know.
I went out to my backyard this morning to hang up laundry and after getting a slight concussion from the walnut being dropped on my head by my favorite squirrel buddy, I realized I haven't blogged about one of my favorite aspects of living in our neighborhood. Drying laundry outdoors. When we first moved in, we brought our washer (GE frontload, high capacity, gentle on the environment and our clothes...my favorite appliance in the house), but left the dryer because it was gas and we didn't have gas hookup in the kitchen (which is were the washer hookup is to Rob's dismay, but we will get into building a laundry room another day). We were happy to cut one more thing out of our lives which is bad for the environment, but I didn't have an outdoor line to hang clothes and it does get cold in Illinois in winter so I used the attic. It worked fine and I love my attic, but as spring came we didn't want the extra humidity in the house from drying clothes. My wonderful father designed the most elaborate plans for a clothes line I've ever seen (yes, he is a retired engineer and used to design dams so he is your man for extensive plans no matter what the project). My dad and Rob worked on the clothes line and although it is really not finished (especially in my dad's eyes), it is totally functional and I am able to hang two *large* loads or three normal sized loads of laundry at a time. Hanging the laundry has become a meditation time for me and I really like it. Once in a while, we've had a drying emergency when the weather has been to rainy or humid and used our neighbor's dryer, but for the most part I can't imagine ever needing one again. We have a privacy fence so no one has to look at us airing our dirty laundry (oh wait, it is actually clean, but no one needs to see our underwear unless they want to). In our old neighborhood the HOA (home owners association) did not allow for drying laundry outside. Hmphf! I was going to ban with another neighbor to try change the rule, but we moved instead. Anyway, I almost look forward to doing laundry now.
It is the little things in life which make me happy.
Oh, as a post script for those who really wanted to read something "dirty". I found out about this in my DailyGrist email (which I recommend for environmental news with a little humor) and couldn't help pass it along. Now you can recycle your used vibrators (yes, I know) and receive a discount on a new one. Only in Ameri...wait, it is in the UK. Still, it is a sign that going green is easier and easier. Ew!