I went out to enjoy the garden a bit this morning, and found this. Searching the web suggests that it's evidence that the tree's a snackbar for Sapsuckers, and in this area, probably Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. So now my two bigger pine trees are sporting pie tins. (Fortunately, I had some pie tins with pre-cut holes from a restaurant that has long closed down here, so I could just string through the holes.)
Just in case you were wondering, I tasted the pine sap (because if birds like it, maybe it's yummy). It's not yummy. And it has a sort of aftertaste. It's not worse than mildly unpleasant tasting, either, though. I also called a friend to check, and the current stuff on dealing with tree wounds are to leave them be and let the tree's evolved, erm, habits? do their thing. (It's weird to think of trees having habits, but you know, the ways trees have evolved to deal with wounds and stupid Sapsuckers.)
While I was tying on the pie tins, I got the call that what needed to be done today with my Mom had been done, and went as well as it could have, which is very good news indeed. Now we wait and hope for the best, while the people closer do the taking care of her part.
Thanks for all your kind and thoughtful words, everyone. I haven't asked to speak to the doctor, mostly because he's already talking to my Mom, my Aunt, and my Uncle (who's a retired doctor, as it happens). I don't think I have anything to add to decision-making, so I don't see why the doctor should need to explain things to me, and maybe my brother in addition. Were I needing to make decisions, then I would, for sure, ask for explanations in order to make good decisions.
I think what irritates me most about the Sapsucker issue is that I haven't seen even one in the yard. It would only be fair, if they're going to eat off my trees, that they let me see them, right? Meanwhile, the tree is busy with it's second pine cone! The first did it's thing last year, and now there's a new one growing.
Spring seems to have arrived. I saw the first Oriole on Friday afternoon, and got a couple of pictures yesterday. I interrupted this one on the orange, and it gave me the old stink eye for a bit while it waited for me to leave.
There's also a little Eastern Phoebe (I think) hanging about the yard, chowing down, and very occasionally posing for a photo. (I'm sort of proud of this picture, by the way since it's mostly in pretty good focus.)