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Gwin Paden: Eating with birds, helping bees and a call for members

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Posted: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 12:00 am

I had lunch with a junco today! I was at the kitchen counter and she was dining al fresco in the bird feeder under a lacy parasol of white dogwood blossoms. We didn’t speak — the kitchen window was in the way — but we sort of nodded at each other before beginning to eat.

This was one of the few juncos I’ve seen this spring. There have been a number of purple grosbeaks (why are they called purple when their coloring is fuchsia pink?), sparrows and a finch or two, but that’s it — except for the ever-present blue jay. There was a whole flock of cedar waxwings about three weeks ago who wouldn’t approach the feeder because Gardener John and I were sitting on the nearby porch steps talking, so they sat in the hawthorne tree and yelled at us until they got tired and went off. I was sorry — I love cedar waxwings.

This spring has brought some delightful surprises. The Siberian iris which have not bloomed for several years are four feet high and ruling in brilliant purple over their neighbors. And the New Zealand dogwood which John gave me a number of years ago has, for the first time, put out the little green blossoms it’s supposed to. Tulips and regular iris have been flaunting themselves, and I’ve had better luck with pansies than I’ve ever had. I’m not asking questions; I’m just enjoying!

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Friends of the Earth have put out a promotion about saving bees, which are vital to pollinating crops of all kinds, and which have been decimated by some sort of disease. They are asking everybody to ask the local stores that sell gardening supplies not to carry products containing neonicotinoids — and a number of popular brands do — because these chemicals kill bees.

Among the lengthy list of blossoming plants which will attract bees are aster, black-eyed Susan, currant, huckleberry, goldenrod, Oregon grape, penstemon, purple coneflower, rhododendron, sunflower, and willow. There are also a number of wildflowers listed. We all should plant at least some of these and help out one of our most valuable species. Check out BeeAction.org.

***

One of Lodi’s older and most contributory organizations is on the verge of having to give up its charter because of the lack of members — and younger ones. I’m talking about the American Legion Auxiliary, which has supported the Legion and its projects even while carrying on some important ones of its own, such as Girls’ State, a vital program for local high school junior girls.

Every year, one candidate and two alternates are chosen from Lodi, Tokay and Bear Creek high schools to go for a week to Claremont to learn about how our government works. Room and board is $400 per person, provided by the Auxiliary. The girls have to provide their own transportation.

Other projects include sales of red poppies during Poppy Week, funds from which go toward food supplies for veterans’ canteens at both Livermore and French Camp, and raising funds for poinsettias which Legion members deliver to veteran shut-ins. Auxiliary members also serve lunch at LOEL Center on the first Monday of every month.

The Auxiliary to American Legion Lodi Post 22 began a few years after the Post, which was established in 1922, and really came into its own after World War II, when wives of returning servicemen wanted to see that these men’s needs were met. Nowadays, membership is open to wives, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, nieces and adopted daughters of veterans.

There are only five active members (out of 44) of the auxiliary now, and they are in their 70s and 80s. Clearly, there is a need for younger women related to veterans to come on board and help keep this worthy group going. There are so many veterans now who need all the help they can get. Call the Legion office at 209-368-1420 to sign up. You’ll be glad you did.

***

Safety note: Keep your bicycles safely out of street sight in your garage. I had a friend who had two bikes stolen in just few minutes when her husband left the garage door open and went in the house to get something. Fortunately, she had the registration numbers written down. These numbers make the bikes easier for the police to find.

Second note: When putting a new registration sticker on your car’s rear license plate, be sure to peel off all old stickers and, when the new sticker is on, make two crossing diagonal cuts in it with a sharp knife. Anyone trying to peel it off will have a hard time coming away with just a quarter of it.

***

And two to end with: I am thankful for my shadow which watches me work because it means that I am out in the sunshine. — Nancy J. Carmody

God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. — Forward Day by Day

Gwin Paden has lived in Lodi since 1957. She served in the Women’s Army Corps, worked for local newspapers, and taught English at Lodi High School and San Joaquin Delta College.

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