The Dirty Window

What appears here to be a dirty window is in fact a dirty window. And it’s going to stay dirty. Because it’s covered in pug spittle. Peanut’s pug spittle. For years and years, when Joel was close to being back at the house, we’d coordinate the timing of when I’d hold Peanut up to look…

JUST Egg for Boxed Cake Mix – My Results

How many eggs JUST Egg cake recipe JUST Egg substitute eggs cake mix JUST Egg replace egg cake …these were along the lines of what I’d been searching for last weekend when I could no longer wait to make a vanilla-flavored, vanilla-frosted confetti cake mix purchased a few weeks ago. The dairy-free mix called for…

On Grief and a Shelter Dog

There wasn’t one day in the six months after Peanut had passed that I was not consumed by grief. I didn’t care about anything and had little motivation to do much at all. When I wasn’t working, I’d grab Peanut’s blanket that still held her scent, lie down with it somewhere, and cry myself to…

Ciega Blind Opossum

To The Guy Who Drove Over the Injured Opossum

Unlike with people, there is no emergency system in place for injured wild animals; no expectation that help will be on the way as soon as someone notices your accident and dire need for medical care. Unfortunately, unavoidable collisions with animals happen all the time and many animals don’t die upon impact even when the…

Joel Arden Peanut Zich Family Portrait

Peanut Was Here

Joel started a bedtime routine with Peanut many years ago. He’d place her on her bed, pat her lovingly, tell her she was a good girl (whether or not she had been that day), reminded her of how much we love her, and to have sweet dreams. It made her perky little ears and forehead…

Grackle Catches Sibling Eating Suet

A Season of KinderGrackle

Common Grackles aren’t a common bird at our feeders, so when at least one started making regular appearances around our deck, it caught my attention. Since I already make a habit of watching birds out the kitchen window, I couldn’t help but lock on the unique behavior of suet-dunking from one of the Grackles. When…

Twelve-Year Pugiversary

Joel and I were seconds away from meeting the dog that was advertised for sale in the local paper. As soon as Joel opened the door to the apartment complex, a then two-and-a-half-year-old Peanut* came trotting from around the corner of an open door and down the hall. “CLOSETHEDOORSHE’SESCAPING!” I yelled. Joel replied, “She’s fine, she’s not…

raccoon after intake June 2015

The Raccoon Rode Shotgun

A growing desire to get some food I can’t get at the local grocery store trumped my antipathy of getting into traffic and shopping with the masses on the afternoon of Sunday, June 7th. Reluctantly, I set out for my 16-mile journey. About twenty minutes into my half hour trip, I noticed a soggy little…

Peanut in the potty tent

The Tent-tacular Outdoor Potty Tent

November 2019: I’ve posted new photos at the bottom since we constructed the original Potty Tent a few years ago. We did have to get a new tent for Peanut and were able to reuse the sides. Before Penelope’s first winter in Chicago, we decided to spring for a temporary shed that we could reuse.…

Rhapsody in Bluebird

My very productive afternoon of house cleaning came to a screeching halt when I happened upon this: We get Eastern Bluebirds from time to time zipping across the yard but it’s not common at all to witness them just hanging out on the deck. Clean or watch pretty birds? Clean or watch pretty birds? Let…

Cardinal Couple Courtship Male Feeding Female

Birdie Went a-Courtin’

Love; Exciting and New I was typing away at my computer when some unusually boisterous tweeting outside the office window grabbed my attention. There on the deck was a male house finch energetically bowing, curtsying, flashing some tail, and singing up a storm while a lady perched opposite him looked on. Because I had a mouthful of…

Dishpan Talons

It finally dawned on me why the birds dart away more often than not when I start to wash dishes at the sink. No dishpan talons for me! I am so sorry little friends! It never occurred to me that it must be confusing that the same nice lady who provides you with a bounty…

Birds in Their Holiday Finery

What makes a bird lover’s holiday merry and bright? Why, feathered friends conveniently cloaked in colors befitting of the season of course! Surely these winged lovelies could coax even the most obstinate scrooge into chirping out a holiday tune or two:  Australian King Parrot Santa honey, there’s one more thing I really do need…the seed.…

Reptiles Tip the Scales (A Feather-Free Post)

Earlier this month, the wildlife rehabilitation center held its 2nd annual Wild about Wildlife fundraiser. As a not-for-profit organization, the center requires support and donations from the public in order to “keep the lights on.” More than just keeping the lights on, it costs money to have extra staff on hand through the busy season,…

A Bird Crush On: American Goldfinch

Once I start my regular volunteer shifts at the wildlife rehabilitation center, my Saturdays get rather birdy which is exactly how I like it. While I’ve had a lot of fun this year caring for many feathered friends, I have to say that my crush for the season must go to the American Goldfinch. The…

A 30 Year Old Dream Comes True

As many times as I stared into those cool blue peepers on paper, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think they would stare back at me.  It was the end of my birthday weekend extravaganza, and Joel and I were finishing up dinner at a restaurant. I spent the past few days doing…

Adventures in Aging Canine Physical Rehabilitation

Our sassy little senior has swagger! Unfortunately a bit too much swagger… We noticed that Peanut had a slightly awkward gait shortly after she joined our family when she was just two years old. As a pup, it made her more impossibly precious. Now? Not so much. The misalignment has progressed over time and has…

Free as a Bird

My article as published in “Snitch’s Scoops” distributed by the Fox Valley Wildlife Center. Perhaps because it was the first bird to fascinate me as a child, I was instantly enchanted with a sparsely-feathered cardinal nestling that checked in to the center during my shift. Not only was it late in the season to receive…

Support Birds in the Mediterranean

I have been preparing to post a story about my recent visit to The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and put my personal spin on the ancient Egyptian artifact exhibit that showcased the omnipresence of birds in their culture. I wanted to share in picture and story what I found to be intriguing,…

Bird Pops are the Tops!

Observing the sweetness of a papa house finch tenderly feeding his little princess got me thinking about bird dads. What a convenient time for a special Father’s Day post! Even before their little ones hatch, bird dads are almost always on the job tending to mom and the nest. For altricial species, dad’s job can…

Swallows on Parade

I had caught about a minute’s worth of little dark masses rapidly swarming about the sky in my peripheral before finally looking out the window to see what was going on. There was a substantial number of barn swallows on parade. Hark! Dost this swarming of aerial emissaries warn us of a menace that lurks…

Easy DIY Dog Ramp

An acquaintance recently told me that her special-needs dog was having a hard time getting on and off the couch because jumping was difficult. She wasn’t familiar with dog ramps, so I told her about the low-cost DIY dog ramp we created to help ease Peanut’s travel up and down from “her spot” on the couch. The…

The Dogged Battle of Frosty Paws

I was supposed to be enjoying a TV show with the mister but my mind was elsewhere. I was thinking about Peanut, our 11-year-old pug, and our ongoing dilemma of how to make going potty outside in the wintertime easier on all of us. Because our little gal insists on finding the perfect spot on…

My Kind of Courtship!

Unlike some species of mammals that have season-specific courtship cycles, this particular mammal exhibits courtship behaviors all year long. It is just past the first day of winter in the Midwest where creatures dare to brave the cold and biting winds, yet here we’ve captured the male enticing the female out of their warm nest.…