Friday, March 27, 2009


    In my normal spring ritual, I have just now come in from my gardens, having pruned back my roses, japonicas and clematis.
    And now on the rail of my deck I see another sign of spring--a pair of phoebes. The phoebe's a sociable bird, the first to be tagged by humans for study. It's plumage is gray; it wags its tail; it sings a fine song; and it's more than comfortable around humans. And as I later was told they mate for life.
This is the second pair of phoebes to nest here since we moved into their neighborhood 17 years ago.      I made friends with the first pair the day I moved in. Whenever I sat on my deck, the phoebes would fly to the rail and spend some time near my chair, singing their sprightly song.
     They returned here from their winter hiatus each year, setting up housekeeping in the same nest in the rafters of my lower deck, and I'd enjoy their company all summer, every summer.
     About five years ago in the fall, about the time they'd be leaving for the south, Mama Phoebe--apparently deceived by the reflection of sky and trees in the glass--flew hard against my window and fell dead to the floor of my deck. Papa flew to the rail and watched her for hours, sitting motionless, as if he were waiting for her to awake. He returned again each morning, perching very still on the rail, watching her body.
     One evening later in the week, I found him dead in my gardens below; he had apparently fallen from his sentinel spot on the deckrail.
     I buried them together in a quiet corner of the garden, and through ensuing years I didn't see another phoebe on my property until today.
     The arrival of this new phoebe family is a happy event for R.A.T., your Rose About Town. I hope they will accept our company and stay around. I promise to keep my windows dirty enough so they can tell they are windows.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


In a small but significant way, my husband Bob is back in the building business, recession or not.
For two years, a pair of Carolina wrens have tried to raise their brood on our front porch, and for two years they've failed. The first year, they built their nest in a basket of greenery on top of the decorative milk can. My dog tipped it over, and the result was catastrophic. The next year, they built their nest in the pine wreath over the door; the nest didn't survive our exits and entries through that door.
Yesterday, we noticed they're trying to establish a nest in a pot of plants at the edge of the porch; that's entirely too close to the nose of a certain curious dog.
Bob immediately researched the specific requirements for a wren's nest and began right away on that project. Today he'll install it near the corner of the porch, which seems to be an attractive location in the eyes of the wrens. It will be prudently perched out of the reach of our dog's nosy nose.
We feel we've done our civic duty for this pair of formerly homeless birds who have been trying so hard to socialize and raise their broods around us. We hope they'll love their new home; we'll do our best to be good neighbors to them.
R.A.T. (Rose About Town), along with her very own Bob the Builder, will be waiting for birdsong.
She's also wondering... Do you suppose zoning and building permits will soon be required for this?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Among Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata's many science experiments aboard the space shuttle is his heroic testing of anti-stink, anti-bacterial, anti-sweat, anti-irritating, body-insulating UNDERWEAR! (The guys who developed UnderArmor exercise attire may want to keep an eye on this).
Wakata is trying to see how long he can wear his special under-britches before they start to stink. The experimental under-clothing, called J-Ware, has been designed to absorb water, kill bacteria, and also insulate the body and dry quickly. The underwear is seamless too, to reduce any chance of irritating the intrepid space hero's tender skin.
Apparently it does all of the above, because as I post this blog today, I hear that he has successfully worn those underpants comfortably for a week... with no discernible odor, sweat, wetness, germiness or rash.
The shuttle was obviously a perfect spot to test the clothing, since laundromats are not available in outer space.
Do you think this might do the same thing to his image that adult diapers did for aging movie starlet June Allison? Ah, the pains and perils of being permanently type-cast.

Your blogger R.A.T. (Rose About Town) will have a different attitude now as she and her dog watch the night sky carefully when the shuttle is scheduled to pass overhead.