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Hello Hillsboro: Tough time of year for nutty neighbors
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I happen to be one of those silly animal lovers who worry about them, especially the wild ones who have no comfy couch, or even a warm blanket to curl up on when the wind is howling and the temperature is diving. Not even a heated home to call home!

Since we currently have two spoiled but very appreciative dogs in the family, I have appointed myself as the unofficial guardian of about a half dozen squirrels and a small number of birds who know a good sanctuary when they see one, and have decided to skip the long flight to Florida this winter.

Of course, they are birds who were probably laughed at by the others who tipped their wings good-bye during takeoff.

They may be a bit slow, but they’re smart enough to realize the value of a caretaker who keeps seed in the feeder all winter and uses a screwdriver to scrape up the mess that settles on the standing area after a feeding frenzy.

The visiting birds are fun to watch and the surprisingly astute squirrels amaze me. You can almost set your watch by the time of day that the tree-hugging little rodents check out the regular peanut stations that seem to magically restore themselves, shells and all.

Secretly watching from a backyard picture window, I am amazed at how hard they work chewing off the shells, licking the exterior of the nut found inside, and quickly carrying it in their cheeks back to where ‘home’ is located. Some of them come from two or three backyards away and, of course, they are ever watchful for enemies. The feeding stations are  placed very close to a convenient tree especially for quick escapes!

I think most of my squirrel concerns can be traced back to an incident in my teen years involving my older brother who saw himself as a “Great White Hunter” trapped in suburban Chicago.

He had a huge backyard that was filled with a variety of vegetable gardens and also served as a cafeteria for small animals and birds. He was always engaged in battle with these little foes who happily helped themselves to the pick of the day.

One day I was out in the yard with his youngest daughter, Jeannie, who was about six or seven years old.

After spying from a window, the Great White Hunter came out a back door armed with a BB gun and angered by a squirrel grabbing some dessert on a bird feeder. He took aim and popped the squirrel in the butt, igniting two simultaneous actions….a shocked, but uninjured, squirrel leaping for a tree and a crying little girl who thought she had witnessed a murder.

Rich tried to muffle a laugh and loudly said to her, “He shouldn’t be stealing food from the birds!” Forever to her credit, she stopped crying and trumped him big-time: “Maybe he thought it was a squirrel feeder,” she answered.

That incident branded a thought into my brain forever…Always check your audience before you spank a squirrel!


The annual Hillsboro High School (HHS) Alumni Basketball Tournament is this Saturday, and “old,” I mean “former,” Tigers have been practicing their dunks for weeks.

There are 10 teams signed up, seven in the Open Competition Division, and three consisting of “Legends” stars, complete with a case of Ben-Gay. Do they still make that stuff?

Games will be played in both the high school and the elementary school gymnasiums all day, augmented by plenty of delicious refreshments and other fun amusements and fundraisers.

All profits will go toward the Hillsboro Boys Basketball Club.

Organizer Brian Hora will present special awards to the Tiger basketball stars who scored 1,000 points during their HHS careers. There are only six of them, so save your loudest cheers for that special presentation!