the update on the cabin mouse is . . .

July 1st, 2014


there is no update on the mouse in the cabin. I haven’t been back to Roundrock since that last misadventure. And it’s not likely that I will be back there for at least two weeks.

I’m hoping there is an inconclusive update eventually. My hope is that I won’t open the cabin door and find the mattresses shredded and baby mice running through the mess. Or worse, find the mouse had gnawed a hole through the side of the cabin to get in and out with ease, inviting friends for parties and such. With luck, the poor mouse will have died of thirst (that’s luck?) and is tucked away in some dark spot. Maybe I’ll find the corpse some day. Maybe not.

But all of that will have to wait until I have the chance to return to my woods. Hang on.

latest report on the phoebe next

June 30th, 2014


After a two-week absence, we returned to Roundrock, fully expecting the phoebe to have been finished with her nest. You can see from the photo above that she had other plans.

But what are her plans, exactly? We first found her nest on the front of the cabin in early May, and it contained two eggs. On a subsequent visit two weeks later, the egg count had increased to five. Well, I want to be a good steward of my land, so I figured nature was following its course. Our next visit, more than a month later (!) showed only four eggs in the nest. That suggested to me that the earlier clutch of five eggs had been hatched and that the four were a new brood.

But what to make of the five eggs we found on our most recent visit. Could that be the second clutch with an extra egg added? Or is this a third clutch? Incubation usually takes a bit more than two weeks, so it’s possible that these five are merely the second clutch. Phoebes generally will produce two broods a year, and with our sporadic visits, it’s likely that our observations aren’t informed enuf to imagine a third brood.

While we were there on our last visit, momma phoebe flitted about in the trees before the cabin and even fluttered up under the porch a couple of times. That tells me the eggs are still viable and that she wanted to get back to them as soon as she could.

It may be several weeks before we find ourselves at Roundrock again. In that time, I think this second (or third) brood can be hatched and maybe even fledged. Maybe then we’ll have a little closure on this.

And maybe then I can finally decide if I should leave the nest in place — phoebes often use the same nest year after year — or take it down and clean the mud off the front of the cabin.


 Our original phoebe observation two years ago.

The first report on the phoebe nest this year.

The second report on the phoebe nest this year.

The third report on the phoebe nest this year.

Skywatch Friday ~ pine portrait

June 27th, 2014

sky pine

Last year about this time, something ate most of the needles on my pine trees. When we were at Roundrock nearly three weeks ago, it looked like the devastation was happening again. The needles were obviously thinned. I worried that by the time we returned two weeks later (last weekend), the trees would be denuded again.

I was happily surprised, though, to see that the needles were coming back. Perhaps the infestation wasn’t as bad this year. Or perhaps we’d seen the pines after the infestation was over and they were already coming back. You can see in the photo above how this pine looked at least a little bit decent.

mouse in the house

June 25th, 2014

1 nest

Well, the mouse-proof cabinet is going to show what it’s made of I fear. We left Roundrock last weekend with a mouse in the cabin. And this was a fifty percent improvement over what it was.

I’ve written here once or twice about how I use a large tarp to lay on the gravel near the cabin as a way to kill the grass and weeds growing there. I don’t want to use herbicides (at all) this close to the lake. And I don’t want scrub to grow in the area near the cabin and around the fire ring. So I’ve laid the tarp down over the stuff and secured it with planks of wood. This plan certainly worked well in the last two weeks. We had moved the tarp on our last visit to devastate another section of the gravel, and when peeked under it on our most recent visit two weeks later, the gravel was clear of the growth. You can make out the placement of the tarp in the photo below.


The area was clear of scrub but not clear of the nest you see at the top. Some critter (I suspect a mouse) had snuck under the tarp and built that comfy looking nest. In fact, that must have been such a good idea that the critter made two more nests nearby. They’re not easy to make out in this photo, but they run from the top left to the lower right, and they were very clearly nests.

3 nestsWell, I’m a nice guy, and I want to be a good steward of my land, so I don’t begrudge the mice their nests under the tarp. Of course, their nests suddenly became useless, but the tarp was merely moved to the other side of the fire ring, and they could have moved in over there if they wanted.

But they didn’t. They had larger ambitions.

Now, I can’t say for sure that mice built these nests, and even if they did, I can’t say for sure that they are the same mice that feature in the rest of this post, but I can see a certain irony in the possibility, so I’ll go with that.

Shortly after we did this work, we were walking back to the cabin porch (where the phoebe has her nest — hmmmm!) and Libby saw two mice scamper through the open door and into the cabin. This was not good. In all of the years that we’ve had the cabin, we’ve never seen any signs of mice in it. Bugs, yes. But no mice. That suddenly changed.

A pair of mice in our cabin! What could that lead to? There are peanuts and oatmeal in the mouse-proof cabinet (as well as sun bloc and other such potions), and I could imagine a mouse delighting in discovering these. If so, I’ll know the cabinet is not mouse proof. At the other end of the cabin are two beds with actual mattresses. If the mice liked living under a tarp, I expect they’d love living within a mattress. And if they were a pair, well, you know what would come next.

So we had to chase the mice out of the house. They ran along the base of the wall, and with Libby at one end and me at the other (wielding a broom), we managed to terrify one of them into a place where Libby could place a cup over it. She then carried it outside and let it go.

The other mouse was not as cooperative. We chased it back and forth along the wall. It got past us and took refuge under the mouse-proof cabinet. Libby went after it with a stick and flushed it out, but it continued to evade us. In all of the mayhem, the mouse managed to get to the opposite corner of the cabin and under the steel bedside cabinet we have there. And then behind the beds. And then back under the cabinet.

We eventually gave up. Two mice would be intolerable, but only one mouse (as long as it wasn’t a pregnant one) we could leave in the cabin until our return. As unkind as it sounds, I’m not too worried about this. There is no food outside of the mouse-proof cabinet, and there is certainly no water. If we take at least two weeks to get back out to the cabin, I think the problem will be solved by nature.

fishy nests

June 24th, 2014

fish nests

Yes, not the best picture I’ve ever posted. I took this shot from the porch of the cabin, so I was several hundred feet away. Still, I think you can make out what I’m intending here. Can you see those light colored circles in the water?

Those are spawning nests made by the random fish living in my lake at Roundrock. I had written about this same phenomenon last August in this post. What you see above are the nests still under the water.

I tried walking down to the shoreline, but the angle was bad and the glare of the sky reflected on the water make the shot impossible.

Later, when I was swimming in the lake, I walked over to this area, and I could see the nest sites more clearly, but of course I did not carry my camera with me then. Also, as I moved slowly through the shallow water, a cloud of silt follow me. (I’d stirred it up from the bottom as I walked.) When I stopped before the nests, the cloud of silt continued ahead and fell on the nests.

I don’t know if the eggs were laid or hatched by this time, but I suspect that the parent fish would have returned just as soon as I wandered off to clear away the settling silt.

The lake was up a couple of feet since our last visit two weeks before, but even that isn’t going to give these fish much time to get the business of hatching their fry done. Unless more rain falls in the area, this part of the lake will probably be dry by the time I return.


pestersome pine problems

June 23rd, 2014

glove pine

Are you sick yet of hearing about the troubles I’m having with my shortleaf pines at Roundrock. Well, I can tell you that I am sick of having those troubles.

We went to the woods on Saturday with two chores to do: to pick up the cot we keep out there for #3 Son and his wife to take on a trip, and to swim in the lake. We managed to do both, but we also poked around a little bit to see about this and that.

One of the things we did was stop at the pine planation on our way in. When we were last out there, the pines had shown signs of being eaten, presumably by the same pest that had denuded them last year about this time. They hadn’t lost all of their leaves two weeks ago (our last visit), but they looked well on the way there. So I drove up to the plantation with worry that I would once again see bare trees.

The pines had come back well after last year’s munch festival, but I worry that too many years in a row of this kind of abuse will eventually kill the trees altogether. Starting the pine plantation back in 2005 was one of the reasons I wanted to start this humble blog. I wanted to document their progress.

So my heart was heavy as I rounded the turn and pulled into the shade of the mighty oak to have a look-see. Fortunately, the pines actually looked much better. My hope is that the pest period is past, that whatever munching was going to take place this year is over and the pines can get back to doing what they do best, which is grow tall and thick so they’ll shade out the prairie grass and blackberries that are threatening to reclaim this corner of Roundrock.

What you see above is my attempt to right a leaning tree. During some ice storm last winter, this tree seemed to have fared worse than its neighbors. In fact, if you look closely at the trunk just below the repurposed glove you can see the bark worn away by an earlier attempt I had made with twine to upright the tree. (Yeah, I just made a verb out of an adjective. I’m a writer. I can do that.) I don’t know if this kind of girdling will hurt a shortleaf pine the way it would a deciduous tree. It doesn’t seem to have affected it, but I’ll be watchful in the decades to come.

The glove is my second attempt to upright the tree. The glove had worn through in one of the fingers a long time ago, a fact I continued to be reminded of every time I wore them to clear brush or turn hot logs in the fire. It was time to retire the gloves, so I put one on the fire and the other on a tree, first passing a rope through it — out the obliging hole in the finger. I’m hoping this padding will be more forgiving to the bark.

The tree is not fully vertical yet. My plan is to tighten the rope over time so that the roots aren’t wrenched by a single effort to make the change. We’ll see how well that idea works.

what is it?

June 18th, 2014

tail bone

Any guesses as to what this is? We found it in our forest on a recent ramble. There were several others just like it nearby. Its presence reminds me of this story.

Give up? Here’s another hint, also found nearby:

dillo shell

This is not the same one as I showed a couple of weeks ago. It may be that we just happened to stumble upon two or it may be that some predator has picked up the pace in my woods.

Vancouver USA Half Marathon 2014

June 17th, 2014


Vancouver USA Half

“Come to Portland for Father’s Day,” my son said. “We’ll run a half marathon together,” he said.

I have to confess that most of this run is lost to me in a blur of delirium, fatigue, rain-spotted glasses, and probably life-saving forgetfulness. But what a run it was! In many ways the best run of my life.

Libby and I had traveled to Portland where my son Adam and his wife, Nina, live for his graduation from residency into “official” doctorhood. (Adam rightly points out that he had been an official doctor since he entered residency, and this is true, but I’m casting about to find an easy way to express this latest gradation, and this is how his program director described it when she conducted the ceremony. Anyway, you get my intent. I hope.)

The ceremony was on Friday night. (Nina’s was the week before. Her parents had come up from LA for that, and our visits overlapped by a day, so we got to visit with them, which is always a warm and enriching time. Adam and Nina now begin fellowships in oncology; Adam’s will be in pediatric oncology.)

But that was on Friday night, and with that accomplished and behind us, the main event looming was the Vancouver USA Half Marathon on Sunday morning. If you read my post about the wicked, wicked Striker Life Half Marathon that I had barely survived two weeks before, you might have a sense of my anxiety going into this one. But I felt rested. I had prepared for this run as well as I knew how. I had experience and training. I had even driven most of the course with Adam and Libby the day before (which is always both a good and bad thing). I would be crossing the starting line with all of the mental toughness (and withering self doubt) I could muster. What was left but to lace up and face the thing?

And so we did on Sunday morning. Adam’s running buddy, Nate, picked us up about an hour and a half before the 9:00 a.m. start; Libby and Nina would make their way later to the chaotic finish area later to watch us come blazing in. I was dressed in the kit you see above. I had only picked up that green shirt the week before on National Running Day, and I knew when I saw it that I would be wearing it for this run. (You see my usual long-run gear there, but those three dots on the lower left are Advil in a small plastic bag. My doctor family members had strongly cautioned me against taking those in a potentially dehydrated state.)

Adam, Nate, and I got to the start about an hour early, and that gave me plenty of time to fret. The sky was overcast and the chance of rain had increased in the forecasts through the week. But having done some running in the rain in recent weeks, I wasn’t concerned about that. The temperature was in the mid-fifties, which left us a little cool as we milled about before the start, but I knew that would change as soon as I got my running engine started. We used the PortaPotties even though we didn’t need to. (This is pretty much standard running advice.) We wandered around the park where the expo was held. The local farmers market was across the street. Booths for both venues were waking up as we waited. Other runners and their support crews were gathering. Airplanes from the nearby Portland airport passed low overhead. The start/finish arch beckoned.

Eventually the time passed and we needed to get ourselves over to the starting corral. There were nearly 2,000 runners doing the half; the nearly 1,000 full marathon runners had started two hours before. We would be let go in three waves, and since Adam and Nate are faster runners than I, they milled up to the second wave. All of the usual formalities of a start were observed, and then the first wave soon took off to conquer the course. After ten minutes, the second wave was let fly. And ten minutes after that, my wave was underway.

I’d had some problems with my running watch earlier in the week. On Wednesday it took forever to capture a satellite signal, and on my run then it reported that I had run a 2:67 mile. (I’m still waiting on the designated sports authorities to recognize my record-breaking achievement there!) And so I worried that my watch would go wonky for this run. I had done a factory reset of it two days before, but without knowing the reason for its erratic performance (getting wet from my rainy runs? a larger-than-normal solar flare that week?) I worried that it would fail me once again on this run. I did have to try twice to grab some satellites, but seconds before I crossed the starting mat, it did find the signals it needed and I managed to press the START button simultaneous to crossing the mat.

And I was off, elbow to elbow with hundreds of other runners. My ultimate goal was, of course, to finish the half upright. But I had a secondary goal, which was to run at least nine miles without stopping or walking. If I did, that would be the longest continuous distance I had ever gone without taking a break.

Unfortunately, the first three miles of this course were a gradual uphill. “Gradual” makes it sound manageable. “Three miles” makes it sound horrible. A lot of runners I know like hills because they make them tougher. But toughness doesn’t come through ease. Three miles of uphill were going to be a challenge for me, especially since the first mile of any run is the worst as my engine warms and my mental toughness battles with my self preservation. (I’ve become a believer in warm-up runs, but with 13.1 miles to deal with, I had decided to hold on to all of my energy and spend it on the actual course, the first couple of miles serving as whatever warm up I would get.)

And yet, I accomplished those first three miles, through some commercial and residential sections of Vancouver, without too much struggle. Mostly I told myself that I had a long way to go and that I couldn’t flame out so pathetically early, but I also kept reminding myself of my nine-mile personal goal. And, of course, once I crested that three mile climb, I had a nice, long stretch of comparatively flat and even downhill running before me.

Vancouver, Washington is a pretty town, or at least the course they selected for us took us through the finer parts. I ran past nicely kept homes, past all kinds of businesses, past lovely parks and community gardens, and along scrupulously clean streets. Part of the course took us into the Fort Vancouver historic site, which had a welcomed downhill stretch past old and well-maintained homes and barracks and beside open meadows that were like parks themselves. Very nice for finishing off the first third of the run.

And I was feeling good. My lungs had gotten over their initial shock at being asked to work so hard (which I knew they would). My legs felt fine, as though they still had a lot of miles in them. Mentally I was doing well, still hopeful that I would hit my nine-mile goal.

But then three things happened.

In the elevation map for the course, there is a spike where we had to pretty much climb a hill, run along its crest for a short distance, and then run down the opposite side. (You see that gradual climb to mile three. The wicked spike. And the nasty hill right before the finish.)


Having driven the course the day before, I knew I was approaching the spike. It came as a physical challenge so close to my nine-mile personal goal that I felt sure the running gods had done so deliberately to test my faith. I had a long argument with myself as I ascended that spike, saying that I couldn’t stop, that I had to grind up it and not give in. Plenty of other runners were walking up this hill, and that is considered an honorable strategy for managing the rigors of distance running. But as you know, I have no honor. I told myself I had to run up that entire spike or be a quitter forever.

But the spike itself was only one of the challenges I faced at that point. A second was that the thick blanket of clouds overhead decided then that that was a perfect place to begin sending down a mist. I was warm enuf by then, so the mist didn’t make me feel cold, but it did make the pavement below my feet feel slick. Not slippery but slick. I could feel a change in mechanics as I pushed off from each footfall. It was not profoundly different or challenging, but I was only about halfway finished with the run, and now I had this to manage as well.

The third challenge, the worst challenge, was that my left knee was beginning to hurt. Right on time. In two of my past half marathons, my left knee began to hurt at about mile 6, and it was a sign that my IT Band on that leg had had enuf. When that had happened those two times, the only relief I got was to take a walk break. This. Was. Bad. I still had about three miles to go in order to achieve my personal goal (and much farther to finish), and with the rain and the climb, I really feared that I wasn’t going to make it.

(As bad as that Striker Life Half was, my IT Band had not acted up then. That course was flat, and I suspect it was the various hills I had to climb — and descend — on the others that affected my knee.)

My hill tactic is to stop taking in the scenery and just look at the pavement before my feet. I pull my cap down so the bill is close to my eyes, and then all I can see is a few feet ahead. Hills and impossible distances don’t seem so bad then; I’m in the moment only, and I manage. So that’s what I did. I narrowed my focus and ground up the hill, doing little more than a fast walking pace. But run on I did.

And then, after an unending grind I was at the top. I knew this because I could feel the change in my legs and lungs. I looked up and saw a course monitor directing us to the road that would then take us down the other side of the spike. A lot of runners like to open up on a downhill stretch, increasing their pace and glorying in the ease of the running. With the slick pavement, and the intermittent mist-turning-to-actual-rain, and with my aching (and increasingly aching) knee, which was sending pain up the outside of my leg, I was not going to start running faster. In fact, running down a hill is usually just as pain inducing for me as running up one, especially with my IT Band in full-on protest.

But I had two things in my favor. I was approaching my nine-mile personal goal still alive, and I had those three Advil in the tiny back pocket of my skimpy running shorts. I had been faithfully hitting all of the water stations, and I had been eating my GU energy gels according to my schedule (miles 2 and 4, and then at miles 8 and 10). I didn’t think I was dehydrated enuf that the Advil would take out my kidneys. So if it came to that, I would dry swallow them and grind on.

It was tough. I had to do some serious self talk to get myself to mile 9 without taking a much needed break. I had to be harsh with myself. I’m surprised that my self could withstand my self. And yet, when I did reach mile 9 without having stopped or walked, when I took a moment to give myself a congratulations, I found that I was still running. I didn’t take this permitted opportunity to stop or to walk. I just kept going.

I was not myself by then, though. I think something approaching actual delirium was descending upon me. I was running with a group of people, and I grew familiar with the colors of their shirts, their bobbing pony tails, the brand of their shoes (it’s a runner thing). But then I would look up, seemingly moments later, and find myself among a completely different group of runners. How did that happen? One woman kept passing me. When the fog cleared briefly, I asked her how that was possible, and she confessed that she was stopping/walking a lot by that point. Apparently I was passing her too. Along here one of the people on the sidelines looked directly at me and said “You can do this, Fred!” Something about her words didn’t seem right. Then I remembered that my name was printed on my bib, and I literally looked down at it to see if Fred was my name. (Turned out it’s not.) My left hand kept striking some annoying thing as I ran. I had no idea what that was and I had to watch one time to see. My hand was striking my hip. I could feel it in my hand and in my hip, but I was not making the connection in my head. Along this stretch the course took us along a promenade beside the awe-inspiring Columbia River. Some part of me knew this and thought I should take in the view, but though I tried, it was lost on me. The rain was coming down then. My legs seemed to be operating on their own will. I’d lost interest in the distance reported by my watch. I was in a bad place.

But I was running. And the pain in my knee was abating. And somewhere around mile 11 I knew that I was going to finish the entire half marathon distance at a run.

In that elevation map above you can see the slight climb near the end. This was back inside the Fort Vancouver Historic Site. I met this hill with renewed determination because I knew I was going to run the whole damned thing. Dammit! This climb was not particularly difficult, though I suspect it was because I could no longer feel anything. I was shot. I had the fuel to keep going, and I had the delirium to allow my to ignore reality, but my body was in bad shape. I did know that much at this point. But it was a good, bad shape. I had earned this bad shape. I could be proud of this bad shape. I could relish this bad shape, knowing that it came from effort and accomplishment. And I could chuckle a little because this hill happened to pass close to the stretch we ran when we first entered the Fort at around mile 4. And over there, at mile 4, were a pair of runners still on the outward bound path. Nearly two hours behind me but apparently determined to do it too.

I don’t know much about the last couple of miles. We re-entered downtown Vancouver. The sideline crowds picked up a bit, though this late in the run they had thinned. I was running through tall buildings again. The course turned and one woman told me the end was near. (I tried to figure out the implications of her words.) I dug deep and found some energy to finish well. I picked up my pace. I threw my head back and opened my mouth wide to catch as much oxygen as I could. I ignored reality and begged my legs to keep going. I don’t know if my knee was still hurting then or not. I think I may have been passing people. I think the rain had stopped. And with about a half mile left, I heard my son Adam cheering me from the sideline. He had come out to meet me and run on the sidewalk beside me to the finish. I may have waved to him. I think I did. I was giving it all I had. I was so close to finishing the half marathon at a run the whole way that it was all I could think of. If it was even thinking I was doing by then.

And then I rounded the last turn and saw the finish arch ahead. The most beautiful thing in my tightly focused world then.

I crossed the mats. I remember turning off my watch. I ran out my speed. And then, apparently, I staggered once again. Adam reported that three or four volunteers hurried over to me, and I can remember one man holding me around the shoulders to keep me up. Someone shoved a cup of water into my hand. And then someone put this thing around my neck:

bling Vancouver


Evidently I had run/staggered past the medals and the young woman had to run up to me to give it to me. That was nice. After a few minutes, and after telling the man holding me upright several times that I was okay, I began to feel my self returning to my body. I wandered in some direction that I thought was toward the exit, and there was Libby on the other side of the fence. She was joined moments later by Nina and then Adam. And they all said, “Well?”

I didn’t understand at first, but then I realized they wanted to know if I had run my best half. Oh yeah, that. So I looked at the numbers my watch reported, knowing that I didn’t remember the exact time of my best half so far. But the time I had run this one was so much better that I didn’t need the exact times. It looked like I had bested my best by six minutes! (Later confirmation showed nearly a six minute gain. That’s huge for this kind of thing. At least within my abilities.)

So I got a PR. And then we staggered to the rehydration area in the park at the start/finish. My bib got me a free entry and a free beverage at the craft beer festival being held there.

It was a big day and a big deal for me. And without hesitation, I told myself it was time to find another half marathon to run.

further update on the phoebe nest

June 16th, 2014

phoebe nest

So, as you know, the ongoing drama of the phoebe nest on the front of the cabin has been the subject of a couple of posts here at Roundrock Journal. Here is my first post. And here is my second.

We gave momma phoebe nearly a month to hatch her clutch of eggs and fledge her brood before we returned. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we finally came back to the cabin. Perhaps a nest full of fuzzy chicks, demanding food from me. Or maybe the five eggs that were there had been abandoned and stunk horribly. What I found, however, was certainly not what I expected.

Momma phoebe had apparently successfully hatched her clutch of eggs. Furthermore, they were apparently airborne since there were no chicks in the nest. What was in the nest you can see below:

phoebe 2nd clutch

It seems that the phoebe had laid a second clutch of eggs. (Sorry about the quality of the photo. I blame my camera, of course.) I can’t say for certain that these aren’t just four remaining eggs from the earlier five, but I think they’re not. A phoebe will hatch her eggs within about 16 days. Those earlier five had nearly twice that long to be incubated. And since one is “missing” with no sign of a broken shell, I think momma phoebe had cleaned her nest, and thus could have cleaned out five broken shells.

But the biggest reason I think these are fresh eggs is that momma phoebe was on the nest when we arrived and stayed close by in the tree branches before the cabin, scolding us as we went about our business on our last trip.

So it will be a couple more weeks before we can return to Roundrock. (As you read this, I’m in Portland, Oregon — KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD — and with any luck will have yet another half marathon medal to add to my collection.) Momma phoebe will have had two weeks to sit on her nest before we disturb her again. (And we might have given her even longer except that we need to retrieve something from the cabin as soon as we can. Not sure the tenses all worked together in that last sentence.) So I expect I’ll have yet another update for you soon.


June 11th, 2014


To understand this little vignette, you might want to go back to this post. The whitish ring you see is not a donut or even an emaciated bagel but the wooden backing for one of the seeded ornaments in that other post I linked back to.

I had noticed that the ornament had fallen from the tree, but I didn’t step off the porch to search for it on the ground below. Later, though, when I had some business off the west side of the porch, which you can see in this post, I saw the ring on the ground before the pipe and realized what I was seeing.

Evidently some critter had collected the ring and carried back to the end of this pipe, likely with the intent of taking it into the pipe and keeping it as provender. About thirty feet separate the tree where the ornament hung and the end of the pipe, so that seems like an ambitious job. But the diameter of the ring exceeded that of the pipe and the little critter’s plans were frustrated. I’m not sure how much food that ring would provide. The ring itself is made of wood. Most of the seed that had been glued to it is long gone. Is it the glue the critter would eat?

Regardless, this pretty much confirms my suspicion that a critter does actually live in that pipe. Now, of course, I’m tempted to leave small offerings of nuts outside the critter’s front door.