Cold Start

comments: 82























The weather here has been absolutely freezing. Apparently we're just going to be hurled from one extreme condition (scorching) to another (freezing). I had the heat on last night, and the flannel sheets. I'm not really complaining (much) as this has been perfect knitting weather. All the knitters I know are surreptitiously knitting as fast as we can, trying to finish stuff to wear before the next heat wave. Because honestly, we need sweaters right now. And probably scarves. It's that cold.

Something really, really cool happened to me the other day. I came in from watering out back and I heard this very loud birdsong, and found that there was a chickadee sitting in the dining room. We don't have screens (or mosquitoes), but a bird has never flown into the house before. Birds have been in the house before, brought in in a state of mortal crisis by The Bee. But in this case, she, Old Lady Bee, was sleeping on a chair on the porch, literally right outside the window above which the bird was sitting and singing its heart out. She continued to sleep. The bird flew from curtain rod to pendant-lamp cord to picture moulding, singing and stopping to look around. He didn't seem in distress. My heart started racing a bit. I opened all of the windows as wide as they would go, and threw open the front door. I went outside and watered the front, hoping he would find his way out. I talked to my neighbor for about an hour, and we could hear him singing in there the whole time. A friend of his was flitting around outside, frantically calling for him, but he continued to sing his way around the dining room and didn't come out. I went back in and talked to him a bit. I really needed to come in and go to work (in the back of the house) and wanted to shut the front door. He did more flying from thing to thing. I stood still and talked, very quietly. He tilted his little head, listening. Suddenly he flew down to the lampshade on the entry table. I walked over very slowly and he stayed on the lampshade. I seriously could not believe it. I was two feet away. We stayed like that for minutes. I don't know how many minutes. I lifted my arm and held my finger out to him, moving a bit closer. He tilted his head again and sidestepped away. I stayed like that, with my arm out, until my arm started getting tired. Then I propped my other elbow on the entry table and started holding up my right arm with my left hand. We stood like this for a long time. Still, he didn't fly away. I inched my hand closer. I put my finger up to his feet, holding my breath. He was so small. He put one foot on my finger and then took it off. I kept my finger there. Suddenly he put both feet on my finger and started pecking at the tip of my finger. He was so light. He pecked at the tip of my finger some more. I was smiling hugely, afraid to breathe. Slowly I walked over to the open window, him on my finger, bobbing nervously, the whole time. When I got to the window and moved my arm outside he started to walk up my arm, toward me! I moved my arm further out the window, afraid he would fly off and back into the house! But then suddenly he was off, flying up into the sky.

It was, honestly, one of the most awesome, most amazing things that has ever happened to me in my whole life. It was so, so, so cool. I still cannot even believe it! It was so cool!

I forgot to say that at some point, Bridget did hear me talking and she came into the house through the door and started sauntering back and forth through the dining room. She knew something was going on but she couldn't figure out what, and she never saw the bird. She kept coming back into the room in mild confusion, like she thought she should definitely be involved in something. And she mostly just wanted to go back to bed. The old girl is seventeen years old this summer. She's mostly a wild cat. An old wild cat, now. She's never really sat on my lap, in seventeen years. That's not to say she hasn't been on my lap, but when she gets on my lap (once a year or so) we are both so totally freaked out that it's about as far from a lovely or relaxing experience for us both as it gets. She acts completely bewildered to have suddenly found herself on my lap. She skitters around on my legs as if her paws are on fire. I freeze in place, trying to avert my eyes lest I be caught looking at her (because she will punch you in the face faster than the speed of light if she catches you meeting her eye). It's like having a cross between a squirrel and a goblin for a pet. But she comes home every night, she loves us in her way, we love her in ours, Clover Meadow intelligently tries to give her wide berth (although occasionally she will walk up to Clover and try to head-moosh her, and Clover's entire body stiffens in terror, and we all hold our breath, too, until it's over), and Amelia screams like a banshee every time Bridget comes flying through the room like a fruit bat trying to get out of the light. Little Bee. Our little alley kitten. Doing pretty well for an old girl.

I told Andy I don't think I've ever taken a picture of Clover that more accurately captures her than the one above. Sweetest heart ever. Drives me insane on a daily basis. But I love her so much. Dear love. That face.

I've been ridiculously busy. Andy had the week off and I've just been working, working, working. I drafted a skirt pattern for you. And bought half of the remaining inventory from a quilt shop that closed in the '90s. Not even kidding. More on both of these things soon. New quilt kits coming! Next week! They're really pretty. I can't wait.


Melissa L says: June 13, 2017 at 05:37 PM

The Bird Whisperer! Seriously, that is wonderful and amazing. What a thrill.
Love seeing and hearing about your sweet pets; your descriptions of The Bee always make me laugh - she's such a character. And my gracious, your girl is a real young lady now. How time flies.
Now I'm gonna go eat some hot soup and put on my sheepskin slippers. June in Portland - ah yes.

I loved this post! Between describing your cat as something "between a squirrel and a goblin" and the total look of consternation on Clover's face, it's all totally enchanting. You guys have the best family!!

Have you read "Living Like Weasels" by Annie Dillard? Your encounter with the bird reminded me of it immediately.

I hope the skirt pattern is for that skirt that's hanging up - because I would love to make that skirt :)

I hope the skirt comes in plus sizes. . .

Love that little ballerina!

Your bird experience had me picturing you as Snow White singing merrily away with a sweet little bird on her finger!

Last year a chipmunk got into our house. I walked into the family room and there he sat on the back of a chair. He lived in our house several days because we couldn't trick him to leave! I discovered he had made a little home behind the pillow shams in our guest bedroom. Chippy helped himself to some little pellets of food from our dog's bowl and squirreled (or should I say chipmunked) them away in a little pile behind the pillows. At first I was mesmerized and thought he was cute, but after awhile I was just mad that he wouldn't leave. We finally had to trap him and he met his demise. Chippy is now in chipmunk heaven where his cheeks are stuffed with dog food forever!🐿

I later learned if a chipmunk is causing problems and you live trap him, you must release him two miles away. Otherwise he will find his way back!

Hi Alicia
What a cute story. I can only imagine the thrill of connecting with a wild bird like that. We use dto have budgies when I was a child, and I can still remember the feel of their little feet clamming around my tiny pointing finger. It is a very special feeling. Thanks for sharing this precious moment.


I was holding my breath while you rescued the bird! Our kitten cat brought a pigeon in through the cat flap once. It was still alive. There was no way I was going to have that perching on my finger.
Another time a trapped starling made a terrible mess as it flew around the room I'm sitting in now. I had forgotten that until I read your post. Well done for achieving such a Zen outcome.

joelle butcher says: June 14, 2017 at 02:32 AM

I'm new to your blog and I absolutely adore your photos. They are so beautiful and real and peaceful. Thank you so much for sharing them and your stories. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Elizabeth says: June 14, 2017 at 03:26 AM

Your bird story made me smile and gasp out loud! What an amazing experience! And then reading about The Bee had me laughing. Animals are so fascinating - such unique individuals, each of them!

So excited to hear more about your huge fabric purchase and new quilt kits! Thank you, as always, for brightening my day with your lovely photos and words.

Yvonne Abdul says: June 14, 2017 at 03:41 AM

I just wanted to thank you for mentioning in a previous post that you were reading a book by Janelle Brown, "All we ever wanted was everything". I have now read this book and really enjoyed it, so I am now reading "This is where we live" by the same author which, in my opinion, is just as good. I am a lifelong reader but recently found it difficult to get into reading anything, starting then stopping and starting something new. Your recommendation has got me out of this fug. Thank you.
From an avid reader of your blog in the U.K.

Hearing of your special encounter with the little birdie made me think of this footage I watched recently. It's a vlog of a young girl who has encounters with a beautiful squirrel who allows himself to be stroked and there is film of a bird eating of of the girl's hand. All in a beautiful woods in Finland, its a lovely thing to see.

Having a little birdie hop of your finger is so cute. Many years ago I used to hold my finger along-side my little pet budgie's tummy and he used to hop on and it was such a nice thing. How wonderful that a wild bird gave you such a privilege.

Looking forward to your new creative plans unfolding.

Nancy Mosley says: June 14, 2017 at 04:34 AM

Sounds like God gave you a very special moment with a bird because we've had birds in our home twice before and they are always panicked. I would never dream of one allowing you to not only approach it but it get on your hand and arm that way. My oldest son would have loved that as his dream would be to be an Ornithologist. Can't believe you are freezing there - we are in a heatwave in the Midwest. 🙂

Lynn Marie says: June 14, 2017 at 05:14 AM

We must have kindred spirit animals! We had a cat for 17 years that merely lived at our house. He would bite you if you petted him and came and sent as he pleased--his name was appropriately "Sassy Cat". ☺ We also have a Cardigan Corgi--same color as yours that goes by the name of Vanessa--she is a living cartoon character. Love your blog as usual and can't wait to hear the rest of the story on your upcoming projects. Have a lovely summer.

Michele Holmes says: June 14, 2017 at 05:24 AM

We had a Pembroke Welsh Corgi ("Maggie Maypearl") for 13 wonderful years - I know what you mean about your Clover. Corgis are the sweetest, sassiest and most tenacious fur-kids on the planet! They have hearts of gold, but ALWAYS have to have the last word on anything and everything.

The bird story is fantastic. We live in the country and there are birds all around and a little bird nest on our front porch, but they swoop and dive when we go outside to distract us from their babies. It's as if the little bird in your house knew you. Amazing!

We had a chickadee just outside our kitchen door this morning. I read your bird encounter to my six year old daughter. We both smiled all the way through. Thank you for sharing! (I want to know about your skirts!)

Anna Gerard says: June 14, 2017 at 06:57 AM

That is such a special experience. So sweet.
What is that skirt pattern???

Oh such a cool experience with the little bird! I laughed so much at the description of Ms. Bee on your laptop. Punch you in the face! lol And your sweet puppers. I love that pic so much!

*lap!!!! :D

Gretchen says: June 14, 2017 at 08:33 AM

Oh how I love your posts. Your pictures, your words. Your funny stories. They help me through hard days. Thank you SO much! <3

As I was reading, I could hear that chickadee call. We have them in our yard and I think in a nesting box we put up. They are the sweetest birds! Once I had a hummingbird sit on my finger for a few minutes. Its little toes were like strands of black thread. An event you'll remember, always. Thanks for telling us about it.

It's been in the 90's here in the Chicago 'burbs already. And you know how we have to have screens here. Wanna come back? ;-) VERY cool experience with the chickadee. Like something in a dream.

Wow, what a beautiful story! I love that bird, trusting you like that. It must have had a message for you.
It also made me think of the first episode of Good Witch!

Absolutely loved your birdie story! So cool and really super AMAZING actually!! No one would believe it! Also loved the story of your semi wild cat. Boy, do I know the feeling! I have 2 cats, one purebred (she can seriously do NO wrong) and one rescue who even tho I got him as a kitten refuses to sit on my lap but will head butt me and swish his tail in my face on the sofa ALL night long if I let him. But whoa to me if I actually try to pick him up!! And I won't even get into how I have a beautiful little house that I try to keep pristine and I walk in at night after work to the smell of you-know-what! And since he's male and Miss Perfect is female I know for sure who the offender is. I actually think Mr. Moron is afraid to go down the basement to the litter box because the A/C running SCARES him. Oh, the absolute garbage we put up with to keep these rascals in our homes. We're the nutty ones!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at