Guest Post by Paul Curran: From Squirrels to Space Travel

My friend Paul Curran has dropped by today with his weekly Cuppa post usually earmarked for Willow’s excellent blog on the other side of the big pond. Welcome from Canada, Paul. And I hope you are well in the U.K., Willow. My, this is an international Sunday. Without further prattle from me …

If We Were Having Coffee


Afternoon Tea in the Forest, By Cindy Grundsten

Paul Curran

Your Barista — Paul

Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today and I’m happy to be here once again. This week Willow is unable to access her internet so we’ll be meeting here at Mark Bialczak’s Little Bitty in Syracuse, New York. Please come in and go through to the backyard. Mark, his wife Karen and their pooch Ellie B have prepared a nice, comfy place for us outside on the newly mown lawn of the Little Bitty, so I can tend to your needs for a cuppa, and sweets. The weather today is here is hot at about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our worldwide readership and adult beverages for those who wish something stronger. We can relax with a cuppa and calorie-free electronic sweets while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. Ellie likes to be patted, so please indulge her when she greets you. How has your week been?

Things here in Ottawa have been quiet this week, it being July with August on the come with universities out for the summer and our illustrious Federal government offices emptied of vacationers. I rather enjoy the peace as I sit on the porch with a coffee soaking up the sun and watching the squirrels gamboling about in their usual frenzied manner. My room has a rear exit and a small deck where I can relax. This new room is located at the end of the block of apartments and because there is a considerable grade in back, there is a long set of stairs down to the parking lot (only four steps in the front though, which makes it easier for me to come and go). You would have laughed the other day. I was working at the computer, which faces the window and has the back door to my left — just inside my peripheral vision. I have a bungee cord rigged up to keep the door ajar on warm days and to provide a cross breeze with the window. There is a step down built into the door way so when the door is open it is about 6 inches above the deck.


Movement caught my eye so I turned toward the door to see what was happening and there was a big black fluffy squirrel tail twitching in the space between the door and the step. I looked a little closer and realized that the squirrel was on the other side of the door facing outward and surveying the parking lot from my deck. His tail had slipped under the door and was inside my room, expressing its concern with jerky animation. My chair squeaked as I turned and the tail disappeared. I peeked out the door just in time to see the back end of a squirrel disappearing down the stairs. Squirrels always bring a smile to my face.

Harper Lee

Would you like a refill of your beverage? Perhaps a piece of cake or a biscuit? Onto other exciting news … In the world of literature a second Harper Lee novel is being published this week. It was a manuscript written many years ago by the renowned writer of “To Kill A Mockingbird” – the winner of the Nobel Prize for Fiction in 1961. Ms. Lee, at 89, now lives in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where both novels are set. “Go Set A Watchman,” which predates TKAMB, sees Scout returning to her hometown as a young woman. It, too, addresses the racial issues of the time.

Although Monroeville is racially integrated with about 40 percent African-American and 50 percent Caucasian and the official narrative is that all is harmonious, the old-timers tell a different story. They point to the YMCA, where not a single black person can be seen – although they are officially welcome. In the other end of town, the local pool has only one white person amongst all the blacks. There are still some tensions there for sure – although it is much better than 50 years ago and hopefully it will be better still in another 50 years. (From the Globe and Mail

In the future

Artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in July 2015. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet? All our sweets are calorie-free so dig in and enjoy. Meanwhile back at the further reaches of the solar system, NASA has a probe called New Horizons, which will be doing a close-up look at Pluto and its moon, Charon, this Tuesday, July 14. This will be the very first time mankind has had a close look at Pluto. Charon is an unusual moon in that it is about 50 percent the size of Pluto and has an interesting reflective surface about which scientists would like more information. Voyager 2 had a close look at Neptune’s largest moon — Triton — a few years ago and found, to everyone’s surprise, an intricate landscape with geysers and a myriad of geological formations – mind you it was cold enough that nitrogen gas was present as frost. The hopes are high that Charon will likewise have interesting features.

That’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and pat Ellie B. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Mark, Karen and Ellie B for their invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Mark’s other posts while you’re here. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you for tea next week back at Willow’s.

50 thoughts on “Guest Post by Paul Curran: From Squirrels to Space Travel

  1. Paul, this was such a relaxing, enjoyable visit, it felt like we were really in the same room. Very well-written, to achieve that. Really enjoyed it.

    Since you wrote and posted this half a year ago (can it be THAT long since I was regularly posting on WP and reading the posts of others?), you’re reading this upon your return–the return that has brought relief to us all! Welcome back! Huge hug!!!
    ❤ ❤ ❤


  2. great post, great host. don’t know how i missed this, but glad i had a chance to read it. squirrels are really characters, aren’t they. i’m in a constant battle with them, when they make mischief on my little deck, eating flowers and knocking little candles off my ledge. i’m very excited to read harper lee’s new book and know there is a bit of controversy around it, but i love her style, so i’m pretty sure i’ll enjoy it.


    • Hi Beth! Wonderful to have you drop by and comment. Thank you kindly for the compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I too am interested in Lee’s new book. I hope your squirrels don’t cause too much damage. They can be little devils. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the two of you in one place! It was an exciting week with those 2 events happening! I haven’t read the new book yet, but have heard lots of scuttlebutt about it . . .
    Love the black squirrel – around here they are brown or grey, though I have seen the rare white ones a time or 2 🙂


    • Hi Sadie! Indeed it was an exciting week. I am honored that you dropped by = Mark was kind to host me this week. I really enjoy squirrels – although they can be a terrible pest if they get into the house. I love watching them chase each other around seemingly endlessly. Thanks for the visit and comment Sadie.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fun post, Paul!
    I recently moved my office down to the basement and my desk is level with windows that sit just above the ground. It’s not unusual for me to look up from my computer to find a furry friend peeking in on me. They drive my husband (and dog!) crazy, but it makes me happy to see them.
    And, thank you for the reminder on Harper Lee’s book this week. I’m off to order it right now!
    I hope you’re doing well, my friend. I’m always happy to find your words.
    And, BTW…Hello Mark! I’m getting caught up on my reading tonight – I’m going to see what you’ve been up to!!


    • Hey Mama! It is an honor to have you drop by. That is so funny that your window is at squirrel level. Ha! I hope they don’t see you as a big nut and try to cart you away and hide you. Ha! We’d be forced to come and find where they had stashed you away. My understanding is that you are just a wee bit of a thing and could be easily carried by a few squirrels. Ha! We once had neighbors in a semi-detached who were at war with the local squirrels. When they were away on VaKay I bought some realistic plastic squirrels for installation in their trees. Ha!

      Anyway, thanks again for popping by Mama – it is such a pleasure to see you here. Please drop b y again. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Bill! Thanks for dropping by. Most of the squirrels around here are black as well, although we do get the odd grey one. They can be devilish little buggers but I enjoy watching them – so much energy and indignation. Ha! I used to work with a gentleman named Frank. He was a force of nature himself – we celebrated his 80th birthday at work and he was still in everyday working 50 hours a week. Anyway, Frank had a great sense of self-deprecating humor and he loved to tell the story of how, at the young and foolish age of 75, he declared war on the squirrels in his yard. Frank was a great bird-lover and he could not keep the squirrels out of his bird-feeders. He bought some humane traps and busied himself catching squirrels and re-locating them to a park about 15 miles away. To hear Frank tell it, he had caught 47 squirrels and still had the same number in his back yard. At was at this point that he began to notice that he was catching the same squirrels over and over. Ha! Apparently they were eating his bait, going for a short vacation, and then coming back for more. Frank eventually gave up and claimed he was now a much wiser 80.

      Great having you by for a visit Bill. Thank You.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Good Morning, Paul and Mark, Enjoyed your post. As a huge TKAMB fan, I was planning to pre-order Lee’s new book, but hesitated. Now, I will get it, but the reaction to the new version of Atticus has me wondering ? It is reported that this book was marketed before Mockingbird, and was rejected by publishers. It shows a now-racist Atticus, mingling with KKK, protesting civil rights legislation. Not sure I want to tarnish that long-standing heroic image. Just thinking out loud. ☺


    • Hi Merrill! Thanks so much for dropping by. Yeah, that post was all over the place- literally Ha! I did have fun writing it – to have two such academic landmarks occurring this week – the visit to Pluto and a new Harper Lee book – is rare. We are surrounded by bad news so often that I figured an all positive post would be a nice change. Besides, it was a relatively violence free week in the world – “relative” being the key word.

      Please drop by again.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Paul, what a great blog, a squirrel visitor and a smart black one too, black squirrels are rare over here but they are not un heard of! I am with you they always raise a smile! I missed you post last week as somehow wordpress must of unfollowed me fom Mark.. but I have rectified that now!! So all things being equal we will be back here next week!!
    I wonder what Go set a watchman will be like….. interesting! …. Hey Mark, Karen and Ellie B thank you for hosting Paul


    • Willow! Awesome you are back! So great to see you back in England again. I understand you had an amazing trip down the Rhine. Yeah, WP unfollowed me from Mark a few months ago as well and I had to get caught up. I did miss last week’s post though, dialysis did not happen and I was not feeling well. I went to dialysis and they couldn’t get a needle into the venous (it is rare but happens) so I packed it in when they hit a nerve (literally) , also a rare and uncommon event these days..

      Yes, Harper Lee’s new novel sounds like it will be as good as TKAMB. I too am looking forward to reading it.

      Thanks again for the visit – I am honored that such a world traveler reads my little post.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Willow. By the way, Paul was a little under the weather last week so he skipped his Cuppa post. I was glad to have him out in the yard today, though! 🙂 I hardly want to see him go back to your place next week. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes he is a brilliant guest and always so interesting. I am very grateful to you for hosting him . l only discovered that wordpress had in it’s wisdom un followed me from your blog anyway I have rectified that now. Paul told me he was unwell last week let’s hope he stays well now. Thanks again. xxx

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Well, I must say that I am impressed that you can be in both Syracuse, NY and Ottawa AT THE SAME TIME! How do you do that?

    Good thing that squirrel didn’t get in – they may be cute outside, but they’re destructive little beasts inside. I saw one on my roof a few weeks back, and I made hubby go out immediately and cut the tree branches back away from the house. I’ve been having enough household problems without adding squirrel damage to the mix.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi CM! Thanks so much for the visit. Did you get your sink yet? Ha! (I know – too personal – Ha!) Yep, squirrels inside are not good. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never had that problem, but I know people who have and it isn’t pretty. And yet, I wouldn’t want a hippo inside either and can still admire its majesty in the wild. :O Same with squirrels.

      I am magical and can be many places at once – I thought you knew that. Ha!

      Have a great week CM!


  8. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee: Ships, Rivers and Returns | willowdot21

  9. Good morning! Thank you very much Mark for posting this humble missive. It’s great to be over here visiting and I hope all is well with you, your family and readers.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you very much Mama. Ha! It is the very first time in my life Mama that my hair has been long enough to tie back. It started as a lark, but I rather like it and my pic gets a lot of positive feedback. I think I will keep the look and see if it brings on a new career. It is too funny as the look stirs up some very interesting responses out in the world. 😀 Great to hear from you – don’t be a stranger.

        Liked by 1 person

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