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Eyes Right

Yes, slide your eyes to the right. To your left, you will find nothing but AWFUL SQUIRRELS.

To the right, you will see I am celebrating the fact that June is audiobook month. I like to listen to audiobooks, myself. It has been my ongoing delight to get to read the audio versions of my last four books.

It is a great and lasting pleasure, and those of you have supported this habit of mine by listening and buying and telling folks and saying so on the interwebs at the tweeter or the audible.com or WHERE EVER, well, I like you. Best. Let’s make out.

If you put your eyes right, you will see that I have for the VERY first time, audiobookread (totally a word) an audiobook that I did not personally write with my own mind and fingers. It was WEIRD and EXCITING to do.

It was like trying to ride around for five days inside Lydia Netzer’s brain truck, and Oh, beloveds, that is one freaked out, unstoppable, bald, autistic-genius, space-invading, murderous, robotic, secret-holding MOTHER of a truck. It has wings, and magic beans in the glove compartment, and I think something excitable is alive and rustling around down under the seat.

The book is SHINE SHINE SHINE, and I love it an inordinate amount. I tried my best to do it a modicum of justice when I was reading it. If you want to listen to the first chapter, you can, right now, for free, just by clicking on the beautiful picture of the audio book cover to the right. The link will only work in June because…say it with me. JUNE IS AUDIOBOOK MONTH.

SHINE SHINE SHINE launches July 17th.

You can pre-order the whole rest of the audiobook HERE.


Also HERE.

If you have an AUDIBLE DOT COM membership, you can DL it there and on the iTunes and suchlike places on July 17th.

If you prefer to read it quietly to yourself with your eyes, you can request it from your local Indie HERE, and PS supporting your local indies increases your overall sex appeal by 37%. True science. They can also hook you up with that audio version. JUST SAYING.

In unrelated news that has a lot more rodents in it, I got a birdfeeder. I put it in front of the shed in my backyard. It is on a pole. GUESS WHAT SQUIRRELS CAN RUN STRIGHT UP?
Did you guess poles?

It was poles.

I used to wonder about people with birdfeeders and all their DAMN SQUIRREL talk because, to me, back then, in my innocent halcyon pre-owning-a-bird-feeder years, I thought to myself, “OH, well, dummy, if you put food out of course the little squirrels will come and have a share. How silly if you to think otherwise. And squirrels are NICE and have fuzzy tales. Stand DOWN!”

HA. I see now I was naïve. Squirrels are AWFUL. I have a SWARM of huge ‘roid ragey overfed ones that begin swirling around my birdfeeder THE SECOND I FILL IT, like hairy sharks. Sometimes they hang from it with their bottoms dangling like rounded water droplets with their skinny heads and shoulders in the holes, chewing and chewing and chewing.

BUT the worst is when one gets on top and sticks his little arm in and SCOOPS AND SCOOPS AND SCOOPS, hurling and scattering all the feed out onto the grass where the sleek sharky swarm of OTHER squirrels and un-pole-climbing chipmunks wait to gobble it up in a feed-orgy of seed-licious narcissism.

Today the most beautiful cardinal in the history of EVER came by, and had to peck at the three little pieces left behind by the unending squirrelly predations. And I bet they had squirrel suck on them. Hmf.

I am thinking of buttering the pole? But then they would be all MMMM BUTTER and I would have a host of them standing around licking and licking and LICKING and I do not want to SEE that.

HOW DO I REPEL SQUIRRELS???? and PS do not forget to PRE ORDER THE AUDIOBOOK. It is the right thing to do.

39 comments to Eyes Right

  • brigitte

    Well, my sister’s ex-father-in-law used to murder them and hang them on little nooses in the area as a deterrent . . . but the still-living squirrels just go “Yay! More for ME!”

  • DebR

    Squirrels are just rats with a better wardrobe & PR department.

    You could ***try*** fastening a thingy to the pole…um, I don’t know what it’s called, but it sort of looks like a metal version of one of those collars they put on dogs post-surgery to keep them from chewing – you know what I mean? And the theory is that if you fasten it to the pole below the feeder that the rats….er…SQUIRRELS, that is…can’t get around it from below & will slide off if they try to jump on from above. I am skeptical. I have great faith in the ingenuity of squirrels who want to eat bird food and much less faith in the ingenuity of the inventors of squirrel-deterrent devices. But it’s an idea. 🙂

    I am currently smack-dab in the middle of reading an eGalley (sp??) of “Shine, Shine, Shine” and am greatly resenting having to put it down to do Real Life Stuff!! It is blowing my mind (in a good way!).

  • Not sure how it would work on squirrels, but my dad made something called a “chipper dipper” to eliminate chipmunks. I felt sad until I realized how many chipmunks were eating my entire garden — or rather eating half a tomato or strawberry at a time and leaving the other half just to taunt me — and how many deserved the righteous judgment of The Dipper.

    Oh and you can buy birdseed called “Hot Meats” that has coated the nutmeats in hot spiciness that is Party Chex Mix to the birds, and Montezuma’s awful revenge to the squirrels. I see it at Pike’s all the time.

  • Karen in Ohio

    Joss, there really are squirrel-proof feeders; my husband specializes in beauty shots for birdfeeder manufacturers, and we have dozens of feeders. There are several things you can do to keep those blasted little rodents out of your expensive seed:

    There are domes that fit above the feeder so squirrels can’t access the seed from above. They simply can’t hang on to anything and reach the seed at the same time. Squirrel baffle on the pole is also effective. It’s like a long, skinny black can with a hole in the end. The squirrel (or the raccoon, another birdseed pirate) cannot climb up the pole with one of these on. We’ve also used a Slinky, the metal kind, hung securely from just under the feeder. the squirrel get to the Slinky, it slides down and the squirrel is flung off. Warning: This is great entertainment.

    There are feeders that are brilliantly engineered to allow birds access to the seed, but when a larger animal, like a squirrel, steps onto the outside, the weight of its body causes the holes to slam shut. I understand this kind does not work with flying squirrels because they’re so tiny, but they are also much less common. Here’s a page with a lot of different kinds: http://www.duncraft.com/Squirrel-Proof-Bird-Feeders

    Another thing you can do is to make sure the feeder is not directly under or next to anything the squirrel can use to get to the feeder, like a tree, or a porch, or a fence. I am winging it here, but I think the effective distance is at least 7′. So look to a 7′ diameter all around the feeder, and 7′ above it in any direction. The rule is called 5-7-9, but I can’t remember which distance is which.

    I once watched a deer stride over to one of our feeders and literally suck the seed out of the little feed port. We raised it after that!

    Our friend George Harrison (no, sadly, not that one) and my husband put together a video about keeping squirrels out of feeders, if you’re interested: http://www.thebackyardbirdwatcher.com/Books/SW_DVD.html There’s a book, too, but the video is very amusing, and was used by NPR stations as a pledge incentive.

    Good luck. Seed is expensive, and those durn little rodents are obnoxious.

  • You can let the dogs out to harrass the squirrels but eventually the dogs go inside. If you are feeling meaner you can send out the evil Boggart to do his worst. I don’t have a squirrel problem because I have mighty hunting cats. Of course, I also don’t have birds at feeders because they are smart enough not to come into the cat-infested yard so that may defeat the purpose…

  • I haven’t seen one in real life, but these birdfeeders seem to be a bit more squirrel-proof than the one you bought: http://youtu.be/X8YZIhlWpS0

    I absolutely love watching squirrels get flung across the yard by a robot birdfeeder. I hope you will, too.

  • Kim

    Safflower seeds are hated by squirrels. 🙂

  • The boys and I finished 3 audio books on our road trip this week. I will check into Lydia’s for my Seattle trip.

  • Patricia

    I’m a person with many feeders (Birdville as we call it in my home). We buy for our poles a thing called a “baffle” — It is a long tube that hangs around the pole and moves. A rat with a bushy tail can’t get a good hold and falls A LOT! Quite fun.
    Also, looking at your placement, you want it to be about 6+ feet from trees and bushes that allow the squirrels to vault to the beloved feeder.
    Finally, you may choose to feed them elsewhere (they like corn) in hopes they will leave your feeders alone. This does not work in any manner other than making you feel like you are trying. You will only get fatter squirrels.
    Now, do you want to talk to me about my grackles? They clean me out faster than the squirrels…URGH.

  • kimberlyHdM

    My husband put a large rubber bell shaped anti-squirrel thingy on our bird feeder. No squirrels have yet conquered its olive expanse of non-clinginess. Be warned that our bird feeder now resembles a giant plunger…

  • I want a squirrel tossing robot bird feeder! Yah! We have four fat squirrels at a time on our feeder in Virginia. It’s one of those pipe looking feeders, and the squirrels will pop the top off and get inside it… if the feed level is low, they’ll get so far down in there that just their jaunty little tails are sticking out.

    Meanwhile we got ONE goldfinch. Feed an army of squirrels a barrel of food for one goldfinch sighting? Yeah, that’s stimulating the economy.

  • Jill W.

    I received an eGalley of Shine Shine Shine and just finished it this weekend. It was so very good. Those characters are still in my head. I loved it and have been recommending it all over the place.

  • Jill W.

    My daughter’s godfather has a thin rope tied to a corner of his very simple bird feeder, and for funsies, he sits on his deck, waits for a squirrel to board the feeder, and then yanks the rope, thus flipping the squirrel off the feeder, and laughs hysterically. Squirrel flippin’- good times.

  • Nephew Dan

    Bullets and or pellets are the best squirrel repellant. With training and accuracy they work 100% of the time. Bullets/pellets are what I use do defend the bird feeders on the compound. Have same get his bb gun from papa.

  • elizabeth

    what Kim said.
    I love squirrels but don’t feel obligated to feed them. They scoop out all the millet to get to the sunflower seeds in the usual mixed feed. Once I switched to safflower seeds, no squirrels. More cardinals. Win-win.

  • BB guns work nicely. It is sometimes my Southern entertainment on a Friday night. Squirrels are a menace, and I shan’t be sorry for injuring them. Plus I also have a very large squirrel-hunting cat that eats the heads FIRST.

    I keep obsessively checking my library to see if they have Shine Shine Shine on audio yet listed, so I can get first in line. I cannot wait to hear it!!!!

  • Tequila Cookie Chris

    Mix your seed with red pepper flakes, and don’t be stingy. The birds don’t care, but the rats do not like it. It might not work on all of them, but it certainly upped our bird/ downed our rats visits to the feeder.

  • Orson Scott Card had a weekly newspaper column where he reviews lots of things. Last year he reviewed his bird feeders. He seems to share your view on the squirrels…

  • ebethnyc

    Squirrels are evil. But at least they didn’t take down the pole like the bear eating out of my aunt’s birdfeeder. (She had been warned though, not by the bear but the anti-bear humans.)

    I don’t know if this will help keep the squirrels away, but I think these felt feeders are SOOO cute (see all varieties at bottom of the page) it’s worth a try. (Perhaps you could hang from really light limbs that squirrels can’t hang on to?)
    http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/felt-birdhouse-mushroom And it’s a great company; for every purchase they donate $ to a charity you get to choose (from a few pre-selected options).

  • Califia

    My grandfather had this squirrel problem with pecan trees in his back yard so he rigged up a contraption that electrocuted them as they ran up the tree! He’d throw them over the back fence into the American River. He also sat on his deck and shot them.

  • I adored the video, Dave, especially the rat who crawled down from on top and ended up spinning around by its hind legs before flying. Needed a laugh today.

    We had a gigantic horse chestnut tree in front of the place I used to live. From the time the stupid chestnuts started to ripen until the first hard freeze the darn rats left the (very thick and spiny) shells all over the concrete steps and walkways. In the spring you’d have to pull out the mini-trees before mowing the lawn, because the rats couldn’t remember where they buried the nuts.

  • Jessica (the celt)

    Completely off-topic: How did I never notice your linky love to Deanna Raybourn before? I wish I had, because I just discovered her a few months ago. Felicia Day’s Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, which I have caught for one episode only, was talking about the first book in the Lady Julia Grey series. Woe was they, because they were lamenting that it didn’t live up to their expectations in the “vaginal fantasy” portion. This intrigued me more, so I picked it up…and then devoured the whole series in a week. Yum.

    I have an eGalley of the book, too, and am eating it in slow bites. This isn’t the kind of book you devour ravenously, as you really need to taste each character separately, detect the ingredients that go into them. It’s delectable.

    For the squirrels, if you want some fun, get that little squirrel-deterrent feeder that spins them around and flings them off the feeder (without losing any of your birdseed).

  • rams

    Glad others were here before me — safflower seed. Honest.

  • Karyn

    My dad got a humane trap and moved all his squirrels away. One by one they all relocated to their new colony at the Richmond refinery… (Chevron employees: you’re welcome! Aren’t they cute?)

    Also, LOVE your audiobooks. A Grown Up Kind of Pretty is the first of yours that I’ve actually “read” myself; have listened to all the rest. Can’t wait to get the audio for that one too 🙂 (Although reading a Real Book was also cool – it came to London with me last month)

  • I like the Droll Yankee bird feeders. They look like fun! I have three children under the age of 10 who live in my house and play all over the outside parts covered in grass with their horde of friends (because my house seems to be THE place to be for the under 10 set in my neighborhood. No clue why). That large mass of children keeps the squirrels away, and any other type of anything I might WANT to look at including, but not limited to birds, bunnies, lizards, frogs, garden spiders. So I have none of the above mentioned issues.

    I get my audiobooks from audibledotcom. I will be buying Shine Shine Shine from them because YOU are reading it. It could be “The Phonebook You Recycled Without Opening” by Bell South read by Joshilyn Jackson and I would SO. BE. THERE. I have been checking audibledotcom periodically for her book to no avail, but now I know. July 17!

  • Rdselman

    My advice…buy a pellate gun.

  • We have a platform type bird feeder that the squirrels used to practically live in. We moved it so it was far enough away from any trees or other “high ground” and installed a squirrel baffle on the pole. The baffle is a long tube that the pole is inserted through, slid high enough that they can’t jump over it. When they try to climb the pole they find themselves inside the tube, unable to pass. No more squirrels!

  • elizabeth

    Grandma, birder extraordinaire, moved to The Home just over a year ago, and was allowed to put in a flower garden. We put in bird-feeders for her– I watched multiple youtube videos and ultimately found one that worked on Amazon. The squirrels come get whatever falls beneath the feeder, but can’t get any out of the feeder itself. I can’t access my account at the moment… but will find it for you.

    Grandpa, RIP, performed taxidermy on a squirrel and displayed him in the window beneath the birdfeeder. Don’t know if it helped, but it made him feel better.

  • Reine

    Joshilyn, most bodacious writer, if you were to read toilet paper I would listen. I will order the audiobook right now. xo

  • Becky

    DebR was right early on; they’re called baffles. But mostly, you need to go to a great bird supply store (they are usually independently-owned so they need our support) and talk to them about it. We tried lots of tricks before we found a store where they know all about squirrels and gave us good advice. The only thing that really works is to physically bar them from being able to get to it, and the people who work at the store can tell you how. Greasing the pole will be funny to watch for a while, but they will eat it and so will rats. Ugh.

  • Becky

    True, squirrels don’t like safflower seed, and the birds will eat it. It’s not their favorite thing, though. The millet has little nutrition, and the birds don’t much like it. They usually throw it out onto the ground. It is cheaper, in the long run, to buy sunflower seeds once you get the squirrel problem controlled.

  • In Missouri, doves and cardinals especially seem to like safflower seed, and the squirrels GORGE on it. They will basically eat whatever’s available and then eye you grimly through the kitchen window, trying to work out whether a squirrel-sized, squirrel-powered battering ram would gain them access to your grilled cheese sandwich.

    If you have a Wild Birds Unlimited store nearby, they are a wonderful source of really good seed, great advice, and squirrel-proof feeders. We use ones like this: http://shop.wbu.com/products/category/Squirrel+Proof+Feeders/567. and they work like a champ at keeping squirrels off the feeders.

  • Kirsten

    The only thing that has worked for me is the metal dog-collar thingy, but make sure your feeder isn’t close to anything the squirrels can climb on, then FLING themselves onto the pole, above the squirrel deflector. My sister swears by Flaming Squirrel Sauce (which evokes all kinds of crazy visuals). You add it to the seeds.
    I discovered you by your audio books (5-hour daily round-trip for work). Your reading is fantastic, I’m sure you did this other book justice. I will be checking it out soon.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    My dad used the dome thing described in many of the above comments. He put it on the pole, but then the squirrels would fling themselves at the feeder, so you have to make sure it is far enough away from tree branches. I can’t believe what those squirrels go through to get bird seed! It must be like “squirrel crack” or something.

  • I totally love your reading voice Joshilyn! If I ever get to meet you, we will make out for sure! I can’t wait to check out “Shine, Shine, Shine”

    I used to have a bird feeder but, besides birds, it brought squirrels, rabbits, mice, snakes and coyotes. I just could not deal with food-chain display in my backyard so I took it down.

    Are you a horrible photographer or did you blur the faces to protect the innocent?

  • Lol…um neither. I took it with my phone through a window

  • I vote for a gun. Squirrels do not deserve to live. Nasty tomato-stealing vermin.

  • Both varieties of squirrels in my area (grey and red) love safflower seeds. They aren’t supposed to, but they do. They were also drinking all the nectar in the hummingbird and oriole feeders.

    Yesterday, visiting my husband’s uncle–the sort of bird lover who constructs 60 bluebird houses, plants them all round the town, and in nesting season monitors every single one–I noticed that he had a vinyl LP suspended above his hanging feeder, about 8 or 10 inches above the feeder. My husband was asking about squirrels.

    “I don’t have a problem with them,” said the uncle.

    We returned home to find, as usual, all the safflower and all the nectar removed from our feeders. Not by the birds.

    So, this morning I went through the LP collection and took out several that I’d purchased on compact disc. I suspended them over the feeders and filled the feeders.

    And proceeded to enjoy the bafflement of a series of squirrels.

    Am I ready to declare victory? Not at all. But for the time being I have protected my massive investment in safflower seed, which grows ever more expensive, and I ensured that the hummingbirds, orioles, grosbeaks, finches, chickadees, titmouses, jays, and other feathered friends were able to dine unmolested.

    It might look sort of funny, but as far as we’re concerned it’s appropriate, since my spouse was a dj back in the days of vinyl records. Also, we live in the middle of nowhere and we’re the only people who can see the record albums. (One of them warped in the heat, but it still deterred the squirrels!)