Thursday, November 16th, 2023

Black-capped chickadees are one of my favorite birds because they are just adorable. While I’ve heard them frequently throughout the years in forest preserves and even our neighborhood, I’ve rarely ever seen one. Not only are they pretty tiny (4-6 inches), but they are very fast. Now that we have a feeder, they’ve recently started visiting us. We had our first visitor on Saturday, in fact, and I was able to snag this really nice photo of it.

This morning I spotted two chickadees at the feeder which made me so happy! Since then they’ve been coming by every hour or so. They like the suet I put up, but will also grab the black oil sunflower seeds and fly off to crack them open in a tree. Unlike the sparrows, finches, and mourning doves, they will not eat at the feeder. I guess they prefer their privacy.

Besides how cute they are, I love their distinctive little chirps, because I know they’re there before I even see them. Wookie, however, doesn’t like their vocalizations for some reason, and she gets huffy when she hears them. I told her to leave my little bird buddies alone.

Another creature we’ve never seen, not even once in this neighborhood, is the Eastern chipmunk, so imagine my delight when I spotted one under the feeder on November 6th. I’ve not seen one since, but I think I heard one further away from the house when walking Wookie earlier today. They retreat to underground burrows for the winter, so I suspect it was gathering sustenance and we might not see another one until spring.

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Thursday, November 02nd, 2023

I casually mentioned back in September that I bought a pair of hiking boots at Bass Pro Shop. I wasn’t entirely sure about them at first, because they come up higher than I’m used to, but now that I’ve been wearing them on hikes for a month, I can confidently say I love them. Not only do they match the outfits I typically wear, they keep my feet warm, and I don’t have to worry if the grass I’m walking through is wet because they are waterproof. That was an issue when I was just wearing plain sneakers on our excursions.

I paid $80 for mine, but noticed they are currently on sale for only $60 because of course they are. $80 still isn’t a bad price, though.

RedHead Overland II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots for Ladies

My only concern is whether they might make my feet too warm come next summer. Time will tell.

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Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

10/01 (Sun) – Picked up some mums for $6 each at Meijer. Only got two this year – orange and “purple”, which really ended up being more of a magenta color. Between my neglect, the squirrels, and the cold weather, they didn’t do well this year. I think next year I will get one orange one and leave it at that.

Later in the day I added a new bird to my life list – a Belted Kingfisher!

10/02 (Mon) – Had a very unpleasant experience at Dollar Tree where the cashier shoveled some candy into her mouth, practically licking her palm, right before fingering my merchandise. Gross!

10/03 (Tue) – Got freaked out by the cans of Wookie’s wet food I had recently purchased. Luckily it was just a weather related thing that had made the fat rise to the top and congeal and it wasn’t spoiled. I did end up exchanging the unopened cans with new ones though.

10/04 (Wed) – Decorated for Halloween inside

10/07 (Sat) – Bought a 50 lb bag of black oil sunflower seeds at Menards and set up a hanging platform feeder in the hopes to draw in birds. The squirrels have been relentless trying to get into it, but it’s also attracted sparrows and house finches, as well as two woodpeckers thus far. The dark-eyed juncos won’t go inside it, but they do hop around underneath looking for scraps.

Had to end our 30 day streak of not needing to run the HVAC at all and turn on the heat. It was good while it lasted!

10/08 (Sun) – Finally saw warblers at the arboretum!

10/10 (Tue) – Was washing my hands in the kitchen sink when I spotted a red-tailed hawk in the tree right behind our house. For a split second I thought it was an owl, but it was exciting nonetheless. Luckily I’ve been keeping my camera on the dining room table so I was able to quickly grab it and take a ton of shots before it flew off. Our new patio door is so nice and clear. I never would have been able to get good shots through the old one.

10/12 (Thu) – Picked up a new delicious dip from Costco – Buffalo Style Chicken by Good Foods.

10/13 (Fri) – Tried McDonald’s new limited time sweet & spicy jam. It’s delicious! It’s just flavored corn syrup, though, so I probably won’t get it again anytime soon.

10/14 (Sat) – Went to Trader Joe’s for the first time in quite awhile and went a bit crazy. We’re really loving sautéing peppers with cubed potatoes for breakfast, amongst other things.

10/17 (Wed)Great horned owls in the backyard.

10/22 (Sun) – Toured 8 Halloween decorated homes in Carol Stream. We decided to forgo the Gallery of Ghoulish Homes Tour in St. Charles this year. It’s a lot of driving that we were just not up to, especially with how much energy we expend during the day hiking forest preserves.

10/25 (Wed) – The neighbor in the building perpendicular to ours finally turned off his patio light for the first time in weeks. It is so bright at night and since I’ve yet to choose a blackout shade for our new windows, the drapes I have up were not stopping it from making the room rather bright. My sleep seems to be improved since he turned it off.

Also found out Bibibop will soon be opening a location way closer to our home than the one we go to in Oak Brook. Yay!

10/28 (Sat) – Finally saw a Great Horned Owl thanks to a new friend I made who frequents many of the same spots we do. She was kind enough to meet up with us at a local forest preserve and show us where it and its mate like to roost.

10/29 (Sun) – Jolted awake at 12:30 am by someone popping off fireworks. Why are people so inconsiderate?!? Lately if I wake up in the middle of the night I cannot go back to sleep easily. I was up for an hour and a half after that. Thanks, shitty neighbor.

10/31 (Tue) – Got a group of 10 trick-or-treaters at 4:30 pm and not a single kid after that. Joe had run to Target on his way home from work to buy another bag of candy that we never ended up needing. We later returned it and learned they have to throw all returned candy in the trash, so we won’t get freaked out next year and if for some crazy reason we run out of candy we’ll just turn off the light. The kids were really psyched about the microwave popcorn we gave out with the candy. One kid exclaimed “yay, movie night!” and it was adorable.

(Costco sells their Kirkland brand popcorn for $15 and you get 44 bags. It’s a steal, and way more popcorn than we can ever eat before it expires.)

Enjoyed the following movies and series in October:

Meg 2: The Trench – I hadn’t heard good things about this movie, but I’ll watch anything with Jason Statham in it. Well, I’m glad I did because this was so funny! I’m not sure if it was meant to be, but you couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the plot.

Spree – Kurt Kunkle is a rideshare driver who has figured out a deadly plan to go viral. Kept our attention and had some good laughs too.

Sprung – Not sure how I missed hearing about this comedy, but I’m liking it. Stars the two actors who played the parents in Raising Hope and has that kind of humor.

Totally Killer – Back To The Future meets horror comedy. Yes please!

Kath & Kim – A New Zealand based sitcom that should have had more seasons. “Look at me, look at me,”.

Haunted Mansion (2023) – This updated version was done quite well. I prefer it to the Eddie Murphy one.

Deadstream – I plan to watch this every spooky season. A YouTuber decides to spend a night alone in an abandoned house that’s said to be haunted and live stream it. He has cameras in other rooms as well and interacts with his viewers as things go down. It was both scary and funny. There were jump-scares, one of which made us scream, and scenes so ridiculous we were in tears.

Strays – This movie, along with Barbie and Deadstream, all came in at the library at the same time. I assumed Barbie would be the breakout star, but it was the worst (although still enjoyable), and this was the funniest. I’m usually not a fan of the CGI talking dog schtick, but here it just works. It’s vulgar and not meant for kids, and people who get offended by cursing and poop jokes won’t like it, but I thought it was fun and plan to watch it again.

The Fall of the House of Usher – If you liked The Haunting of Hill House or The Haunting of Bly Manor, you’ll love this since they’re all created by Mike Flanagan and star many of the same actors.

Slotherhouse – This is labeled a horror comedy but it’s less horror than it is comedy. It is hilarious because of its ridiculousness. A killer sloth that can drive a car and has a social media account? Ok! Definitely watching this one again.

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Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Last night something exciting happened – I added a Great Horned Owl to my life list. Best of all, it was right behind our house!!!

Joe and I were upstairs shortly before 9 pm getting ready for bed when we both heard what sounded like hooting. We rushed to the bedroom, opened the window, and sure enough, it was two owls calling to each other, and they sounded very close.

I ran downstairs, threw on my coat, hat, and new hiking boots, grabbed my phone, and flew out back to see if I could locate them.

I pinpointed their location to a particular pine tree, but the flashlight on my phone wasn’t cutting it, so I couldn’t actually see them. I rushed back to the house where Joe was waiting with a bright flashlight. I was able to use it to find one of the owls who was way at the top of the tree looking around.

I could only get a crappy phone video of it. This is a still from that.

It stopped calling once I spotted it, so unfortunately by the time Joe was able to come outside to hold the flashlight for me, it was gone. I had wanted to see if I could get a photo of it but it wasn’t meant to be. I never actually saw the second owl, but it sounded like it was in the same tree somewhere.

We had planned to go to bed early but I was so hyped up afterwards that I didn’t feel sleepy until midnight. Totally worth it, though! I hope they come back soon! I have heard Great Horned owls behind the house before, usually in the winter. Maybe I’ll get lucky and see one during the daytime so I can photograph it.

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Tuesday, October 03rd, 2023

Sunday (10/01) started with a trip to this little pond tucked behind a FedEx facility of some sort. A local photographer had tipped me off to a Kingfisher that spends time back there. I had checked the pond twice before without success, although one of those times it was there, just not in a spot I could photograph it. This time it kept flying away whenever we got close, but I did get a zoomed in shot.

I hope to get better photos in the future.

After a stop at Armstrong Park, where we didn’t see much, we did some grocery shopping at Meijer and I got some mums for the patio. I only bought two this year – one orange and one purple.

We later stopped at Target to get the latest COVID vaccine. Other than a sore arm for a day, didn’t experience any side effects with this one. I’m happy to get one every 6-12 months if it means preventing long-term health issues. We do annual flu shots, so why not? I cannot understand why so many people make such a big deal about the COVID vaccine.

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