Baffling Squirrels: Squirrels 2, Lisa 0

This morning I am leaving soon to attend Mount Mary University’s Publishing Institute, where I very much look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I’ll be sure to write about the event tomorrow. In the meantime, here is an update in our quest to baffle squirrels away from a new bird feeder.

It took only three days for the squirrels to figure out how to get above the baffle (we haven’t seen them do it yet, but I have my theories). Next step: buy a taller shepherd hook. To be continued…

Categories Fun

Baffling Squirrels

Last year, we had a new window installed in our living room. This summer, while I contemplate what flowers will grace our front flower bed, I decided to start with a couple of bird feeders, now that we have such a clear view.

We have already ceded the first feeder to the squirrels (in truth, they are fun to watch, so I don’t mind).

The second feeder, however, I want to keep for the birds, if for no other reason than the squirrels tip it so much that most of the bird seed falls to the mulch below.

After searching online for “keeping squirrels away from bird feeders,” I learned that one can buy (or make) something called a squirrel baffle, designed to keep squirrels away from bird feeders attached to poles or shepherd hooks.


Our shepherd hook is too low for the baffle to work in theory, but I’m going to give it a try before buying a taller hook. Stay tuned…. (my money is on the squirrels)

This post is part of the #30PostsHathSept Blog Challenge. So many good posts from everyone… seven more days to go!

Lessons on Play from a Betta Fish

Recently I made a small change in my work that has resulted in an unexpected giant step in everyday enjoyment: I began to listen to music for a good chunk of the day, most of the time through headphones attached to my phone that also allow me to take hands-free calls.

I’m not sure when or why music had become an occasional treat, saved for the car or when I had nothing else to do, rather than an integral part of my life, but it had. Not until I was watching our betta fish this morning did I realize why music makes such a big difference. Music is a form of play.

Why Play Matters for Creativity

Consider what these creativity experts have to say about the importance of play:

Dan Pink, bestselling author: “The best way to get in touch with your inner child is to take it outside for some play. So go back to school… or at least, back to the playground. Visit a schoolyard, take a seat on a bench, and watch how the real kids play. See if some of their sense of wonder and curiosity penetrates your adult immune system.” (from A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World)

Tina Seelig, Stanford professor: “Simply put, when you play, you are having fun. When you have fun, you feel better about yourself and your work. And when you feel better, you are much more creative and deliver more.” (from InGenius: A Crash Course in Creativity)

Tim Brown, IDEO CEO and president: “Kids are more engaged with open possibilities…. when they come across something new, they’ll certainly ask, ‘What is it?’ Of course they will. But they’ll also ask, ‘What can I do with it?’ And you know, the more creative of them might get to a really interesting example. And this openness is the beginning of exploratory play.” (from his TED Talk “Tales of Creativity and Play“)

Lessons on Play from a Betta Fish

Fun doesn’t have to be complicated, and it can occur wherever we are. Here is a photo of our new betta fish’s heater. Notice the narrow space between the heater and the tank (and how Mr. Darcy, never missing a beat, is keen on figuring out what I am doing):

Aquarium Heater

Now watch how he uses that space to create his own playground. Round and round he goes, for several minutes at a time. I was lucky to be able to film a few seconds before he noticed my presence, which would have immediately broken the spell. (In case anyone is wondering, the Renoir card both gives him something to look at and hides his food jar so that he’s not constantly begging to be fed—bettas are smart fish!)

Music transforms my usual workspace into a similar playground, making everything else more fun and opening me to possibilities I wouldn’t normally notice.

Where and how do you find or create fun spaces in your workday?

Darcy’s Excellent Adventure (new betta in his new home)

And now for something completely different.

I tried to take a video of Darcy, our new betta fish (with whom I am already in love),  as soon as he was introduced into his tank, but not until the end did I realize that my phone was accidentally set to “time lapse.” The error was serendipitous as it  better illustrates his reaction: several minutes are collapsed to 35 seconds. This was immediately after I transferred him from a smaller bowl (and, before that, from a small pet store cubicle).

You will see that he explores every inch of his new home, both with excitement and, I think, as a form of patrolling for any predators or other lurking dangers (notice the frequent flaring). Because I wasn’t planning for a time-lapse video, I hand-held the phone, so it’s a bit shaky—hold on tight to whatever is close by! There is audio.

Making learning fun: Photo editing with Word 2013

Our family’s homeschooling experience taught me that the best way to learn something is to make it fun and meaningful, so when I wanted to get better at using Word 2013 to edit photos—see this Goodwill Community Foundation superb tutorial—I gave myself a project, something I think of as the Floyd Fotobomb Series.

Falling in Love with Floyd

Let me explain. Floyd is our betta fish. He is actually Floyd II (aka Floyd 2.0 aka Floyd Too), the successor to the original Pink Floyd, the betta that was my daughter-in-law’s while she was a college dorm R.A. When she and our son moved to Boston last year, the aging Floyd could not make the trip, so I cared for him until he died last fall.

By then I had grown quite fond of the little fish. Within a week I got Floyd II to keep the legacy alive and also learned how to keep a cycled five-gallon tankBetta splendens, also known as Siamese Fighting Fish, are as engaging and personable as they are beautiful. Floyd II loves to look at human faces, swishes his fins excitedly whenever one of us walks by his tank or even waves from across the room, and eats with the appreciative gusto of an adolescent boy. The video below from the International Betta Competition offers a glimpse into the world of this fascinating species.

Making Learning Fun and Meaningful (at any age)

How does this all relate to photo editing? Using the GCF tutorial and old-fashioned trial and error, I’ve been editing photos of Floyd II to include in various photos and images, mostly public domain art works or government photos, since those are easy to find online (FUN). Then I text the final creations to our son each morning as a daily form of connection (MEANING). Below are some of the results so far, from earliest to most recent, so that you can decide for yourselves if I am getting any better. Regardless of my eventual proficiency, I’m having a fish-load of fun.

Floyd Crossing the Delaware
Floyd Crossing the Delaware (photo via Wikimedia)
Fab Floyd
Fab Floyd (photo via Wikimedia)
Apollo 11
One Small Step for Floyd (photo via Wikimedia)
Floyd Pop
Floyd Pop (photo via Wikimedia)
Mad Fish
Mad Fish
Renoir Floyd
Sur la Terrasse avec Floyd (photo via Wikimedia)
Rainy Day Floyd
Rainy Day Floyd (photo via Wikimedia)