<![CDATA[Skwirlboi - Blog]]>Mon, 22 Jan 2018 03:50:01 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[White Squirrels of Olney, Illlinois — The Musical]]>Fri, 20 Apr 2012 20:39:49 GMThttp://skwirlboi.com/1/post/2012/04/white-squirrels-of-olney-illlinois-the-musical.htmlPicture
Poster by JWT
We were driving down the mean streets of Chicago, Mrs. Skwirlboi and I. Suddenly, through the gray urban landscape, I beheld the visage a huge white squirrel poster. Hanging in a bus stop shelter, nonetheless.

We circled back and, sure enough there was a poster with the headline, White Squirrel Town. The image was a large white squirrel clutching an acorn like a football. The squirrel had green knees and a subhead read, "Where squirrels have nothing to fear except those stubborn grass stains." I immediately had a larcenous thought: "I gotta get me one of them." However, being fond of my freedom, I chose not to act.

We passed this poster many times and I always lamented that it was hanging in a dingy bus shelter when it could just as easily be hanging in my dingy Squirrel Cave. Unbeknownst to me, Mrs. Skwirlboi was already using her formidable investigative powers to track one down for my birthday.

First she called the county building in Olney and spoke to  Belinda Henton. She explained to Belinda that I was a great fan of squirrels, enough so that I wrote an annual Christmas Squirrel song in lieu of sending cards. Belinda told MS that the poster was designed as part of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism by JWT, formerly J. Walter Thompson, a huge ad agency.

MS called JWT and spoke to Julie Wisniewski, the ad exec for the Tourism account. MS conveyed to Ms. Wisniewski how great she thought the posters were and that they were a testament to a great account team. Ms. Wisniewsi sent us a few poster samples, the Olney poster included. And these were not just cheapo posters printed on the back of big pizza boxes. No, these were beautiful 4-color prints on a thoughtfully chosen heavy paper stock. Suitable for framing, as they say.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled when Mrs. Skwirlboi gave me the poster for my birthday. (The other 2 posters were not squirrel-related, but equally beautiful in their own rights.) However, to your great misfortune, the story doesn't end there.  

The Musical Angle.

A few weeks later I received a mysterious email from a retired Olney police officer. He'd heard of my Christmas songs (who hasn't?) and asked if I'd be interested in writing a song about the Olney squirrels. He was now a photographer and was compiling a DVD of his squirrel photos to which my song would serve as the soundtrack. He'd then sell the DVD's and give me a cut of the loot. I was honored that he would choose me over the plethora of other Squirrel-themed Christmas songwriters, and a few months later I wrote and recorded "The White Squirrels of Olney".  I told him it wasn't necessary to pay me because I was doing it for The Cause, and sat back awaiting instant fame.


Now, I'd like to tell you that the song went viral and shot to the top of the charts, and that I now have a diamond-studded grill, but then you'd never believe another word coming out of Skwirlboi's keyboard. However, the retired officer-turned-photographer did present the song to the Olney City Council, and it was officially pronounced the Official Olney Theme Song. They sent me a beautiful certificate, which, to moi, is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Maybe third. Anyway, I framed and hung it proudly in my Squirrel Cave, where It's a source of great pride to me and makes me feel like a veritable Francis Scott Key.

So now that I've got the song I figure the musical is the next logical move. If I can only figure out how to get squirrels to slow-dance.

Listen to this squirrel masterpiece.

<![CDATA[How to Build a Tree House for Squirrels]]>Fri, 13 Apr 2012 01:29:32 GMThttp://skwirlboi.com/1/post/2012/04/how-to-build-a-tree-house-for-squirrels.html
If you’re like Skwirlboi, you like nothing more than banging a few pieces of wood together to build a tree home for wayward squirrels. There are tons of plans for these “nesting boxes” online. I’ve put together a plan for one that seems to satisfy even the most persnickety squirrel. Purists might disagree, but I’ve found that any old wood that can withstand the elements will do, except anything toxic. Squirrels tend to gnaw on their homes. Who doesn’t? 

I shred cheapo polyester fleece throws and put them in as a house-warming present, but you don’t have to. Squirrels will pack them with whatever bedding’s available — leaves, twigs, newspaper, bedroom suites, etc. It warms the old ticker to see a squirrel feverishly running up and down a tree with great bales of leaves in its jaws. They look so excited about furnishing their new digs!

Most plans call for a hinged top so you can occasionally clean out the house. I stopped adding this feature for two reasons. 1) Too high. You should hang your house at least 10' off the ground — preferably more. This is an inconvenient height for cleaning and I already have enough trouble cleaning my own house at ground level. 2) Squirrels run a tight ship. I've changed out old squirrel houses and have always found them to be very clean and tidy. I wish they'd do my house.

I like to place the entrance in the forward part of the house in order to keep  out less-agile, would-be predators. Also, a hallway that requires an immediate sharp turn on entry keeps out the elements and predators, but this isn’t absolutely necessary.

I've found that squirrels start moving in within a week of putting the house up. They seem to have no trouble figuring out what this contraption is. They'll treat it like any other homeowner would. You'll often see them lounging on top, flat on their bellies with arms and legs extended, looking like squirrel rugs. Mrs. Skwirlboi calls this "rugging", which is the perfect term for it.

I don't know exactly how the squirrels determine who gets to live in the house. Sometimes you get one, sometimes two or three. After a few months you're likely to see some teeny squirrels clumsily trying to maneuver the entrance to the house. They try to act like the big squirrels but fail miserably. They'll miss their marks when jumping, wrestle with sticks or each other, and cause general mayhem. A lot like their human counterparts, I suppose.

Alrighty then — time to start building. I hope this helps!

<![CDATA[My website is up and running! Yay! Ok, well...sort of.]]>Mon, 19 Mar 2012 00:50:05 GMThttp://skwirlboi.com/1/post/2012/03/my-website-is-up-and-running-yay.htmlPicture
To celebrate the launch of Norbert and the Elusive Acorns, I'm creating a bunch of free kid's activity items that should be fun for kids. And maybe keep them busy for 15 minutes or so ;-]

They'll be located in the Coloring & Activity Pages section, there will be:
  • Coloring pages in PDF format that you can print for the kids to color.
  • Official Norbert sticker pages for kids to print. Just print onto sticker paper and cut them out.
  • Later on, we'll be adding more coloring pages and activities like mazes, connect-the-dots, and puzzles.
Now go have some fun eh?!
<![CDATA[Well, “Norbert and the Elusive Acorns” is just about ready to go up on Amazon!]]>Mon, 19 Mar 2012 00:29:13 GMThttp://skwirlboi.com/1/post/2012/03/first-post.htmlPicture
Getting an ebook onto Amazon is easier said than done, especially if it's a children's book with lots of illustrations and poems. Norbert has been in the works for two years now and thanks to some great techy folks, it's finally almost there! 

While I'm waiting on the publishing end of things, I want to give a shout out to a very important person who made this happen:

Liza, my editor and most enthusiastic cheerleader. She's also my sister and a writer, hi sis! ;-)

Well, I really hope your kids enjoy Norbert's escapades and I hope you do as well. Thanks for reading!