Crazy Night in an Writer’s Home

New Home for a Writer

We bought our home in August 2013, and while it’s not perfect, we are the second owners of a house built in 1964. We settled in and watched as the surrounding neighborhood slowly turned into a hot real estate market. In the dead of winter, I am serenaded by a sizable hoot owl from the greenbelt that runs long our entire backyard. It’s a beautiful sound, and I dare anyone to complain or do anything to deter it. This was the house I wanted to help me achieve my lifelong dream of being a writer.

All Writers need a Writing Cave


Black-capped Chickadee
Image by Amazing via Adobe

My office is a writer’s dream. A place I can work on my stories and blogs with all the stuff I need within arm’s reach. Sometimes I spend hours ‘in the zone.’ My cave allows me to putter with my plants and books while deep in thought. It has the added benefit of being a hideaway from my teenagers.  

Unlike most caves, through a sliding glass door, I have a spectacular view of the backyard which slopes down into the gully of a city-owned greenbelt. It’s a beautiful view that has, on several occasions, helped me set different story elements that you have read or will read in the future.

In the past year, I have slowly been adding and subtracting different bird feeders, finding the right ones to attract the various birds that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. I have watched as the winter has given way to spring, and I now see beautiful baby Chestnut-Backed Chickadees.

Fat Furry Attackers

racoon, rocket

Fat Furry Attacker

My feeders were raided by squirrels! The squirrels received their own feeder on the very edge of the upper deck. The chickadees found their plates full again, and the squirrels were happy. Along with my chickadees, robins, and other small birds, I have the pleasure to watch as four Stellar Jays come to enjoy my backyard, all at once, almost every day.

My next problem became the raccoon family! They decided the squirrel feeders made for a good dinner. Based on the size of the raccoon, he had been sneaking food for a while. Within hours everything came down and the poles were smeared with vaseline until I could find pole baffles. I did get a wildlife block and put it fifty feet away from the sliding glass door. Closer to the woods, as a way to lure the furry wildlife away and keep nature happy in different areas of my yard.

My Daily Entertainment

Stellar Jay
Image by aphoto7you via Adobe

My neighbor’s two cats, Cooper and Burr, consider my backyard their playground, the last stop before they scale their own fence to go to their home. Daily, I watch as they start their slow, calculated moves across the yard, making it right under the bushes under the bird feeders. I’m always ready to tap on the glass in a split-second if needed. Then with a rush of energy, they launch themselves, causing the flock to disperse in every direction.

They never catch a bird, but it’s cute to watch them try. It’s even more fun watching the Stellar Jays sitting high up and squawking in obvious displeasure and swoop over the felines’  heads as they try making it over the fence to their own safety. My neighbor says Cooper and Burr become the prey as the Stellar Jays now take turns dive-bombing the cats as they relax on the deck after a day of being out.

The Truth about the Big City

Our small neighborhood is old but is part of the Greater Seattle area. While I can boast a one-day delivery from Amazon, the housing boom is not as pleasing. I’ve watched thousands of square acres of old growth forest slowly disappears and retail and house center replace them. Three years ago, it was announced that a huge development was being built only two miles from my home, I knew it was only a matter of time. As someone who loves nature, I knew it would cause a ripple effect through my neighborhood, greenbelt, and the wildlife. The bear, coyote, and bobcat sightings became normal in our neighborhood Facebook groups or on, only a month after they started clearing the land. 

An Unexpected Nightly Visitor

When my dogs started going wild after midnight, I knew I had something under my deck. I figured the raccoons had come back, and this time, my dogs had caught the scent. My husband looked and saw nothing on the upper floor deck, but the dogs were in obvious territorial defense mode. Thinking that maybe I had left the slider door unlocked, I went to check. 

Not thinking, I gave my office slider door a jerk and flipped the outside light switch. Luckily, the slider had only given way a few inches. I found myself staring at a not too small but hefty black bear (Thank you, BearSmart for the confirmation) standing on his rear legs raiding my feeders, four feet away! Of course, not being of sound mind, I grabbed my phone with my camera before calling the rest of the family. I wanted to see him, but I didn’t think about it.

My husband arrived and started making loud noises to scare him. The bear was neither aggressive nor eager to go. He just pulled down the feeders and slowly lumbered across the yard, with all the feeders. He sniffed at the wildlife block and, turning his nose up, looked back at the stupid author smiling. The majesty of the beautiful bear left, but his lack of fear of humans was now a major concern.

Time to Clean Up the Mess and Make Changes

This morning we went to survey the damage. My bird feeders lay in a jumbled mess. It wasn’t the seed, but the suet cakes, I had replaced in the feeders, attracting my new nightly visitor. Of eight feeders, I now have three. I’m getting the usual tsk tsk comments from the neighborhood. With pride, I noticed a sizable number of comments condemning the booming housing market.

“We are in their yard, we should show respect!”

I have to order PredatorPee – Wolf Urine —a Southern woman never forgets her upbringing. I’ll do that for the next month or so. I know it will deter every animal, including the neighbor’s cats. But I know for the bear’s safety I will have to do this. Our state has a relocation policy for wildlife. If it is not scared of humans, then the priority will be to put it down—for the safety of the stupid humans that have raided their homes.  Now if you want a very interesting story you should read about the process of collecting that urine!

I haven’t heard my hoot owl since February and the construction crews returned to work.

Something to Think About

telecommuting, word cloud

I love the ability to write and deliver my work so easily with modern technology. The fact our forward march toward more technology causes the displacement of so much wildlife acreage is now becoming shameful.

Here is some information that could help us make better wildlife preservation.

A few days later and after some rain…

I risked putting up two bird feeders on the bottom of my deck and had out a tomato plant. This was the result.

After talking with the Department of Wildlife control for Washington state they said “Up with Thanksgiving – Down after Valentines” was the best rule.


By Shelly McGowan

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