a peek inside the fishbowl

21 Sep, 2016

The mystery of the lost marbles

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno|Misc. life

If you live in Ottawa you know it’s been a pretty long and hot summer. To that effect, I’ve been dutifully filling up our two bird baths with fresh water. I also added something new to the mix. Well, new-ish. I had this on the go last summer and thought I’d revisit the idea for our garden again.

I made a water dish for butterflies and bees:

Bug watering dish

But let’s be real here, all kinds of other bugs are invited as well. (We don’t discriminate!)

This bug-friendly water dish was a dinner plate in a former life, and a rather shallow one at that. I added marbles to improve access to the water, although when I think about it I have to confess they are really just for show because bugs don’t need to step on pretty marbles in order to fill their little mouthparts with water.

I did my best to keep it full all summer. I also kept an eye on it to make sure it wasn’t being used as a decorative mosquito nursery.

Having a bug watering dish is a pretty low-maintenance garden chore, as far as things go. I just sprinkle a bit of water into it while I’m watering the garden. That’s it.

So I was watering this dinner plate every other day and although I don’t know exactly how many marbles I had incorporated into this display, I knew that the plate was at least half full of marbles. Let’s say, for the argument’s sake, there may have been 40 marbles. So you can imagine my surprise when I looked down one day to see there was only ONE single marble remaining on the plate.

Marble mystery, part one

Not only was there only one marble left out of an estimated 40, it was one of the two largest marbles in the bunch.

I decided to do some detective work in order to get to the bottom of this. (What can I say, I’ve been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes.) First, I questioned the suspects my children. They probably thought I was crazy – and maybe I was – asking my teenage daughters if they did something with my marbles. I asked one kid, nada. It wasn’t her. She left for school. I asked the other kid about 10 minutes later and just as I was about to point out the lone marble on the dish I realized that it, too, was GONE.

I searched the immediate area. There were no marbles on the patio, none in the flower bed. They had evidently disappeared into thin air.

I racked my brain to think who could have possibly stolen my marbles. A crow? A squirrel? Something else? I couldn’t imagine a crow picking up that big glass (and presumably, slippery) marble in its beak.

I scrounged up three more marbles from elsewhere and dropped them on the plate. I was determined to catch the culprit. Alas, I have a job, so I could not monitor the yard as closely as I would have liked. The other marbles disappeared soon enough.

Fast forward to today. I went out there again to undertake a closer investigation of the area. That’s when I discovered this:

Marble mystery, update

Let me walk you through this.

“A” is the dinner plate. “B” is one of the three LURE marbles I put in the plate after the 40 had disappeared. As you can see, it’s partially buried under a plant. “C” is a chipmunk hole underneath a strawberry plant.

So what do you think? Who’s got my marbles?

9 Responses to "The mystery of the lost marbles"

1 | Claudette

September 22nd, 2016 at 10:20 am


I love mysteries!

I think it was a raccoon. :)

2 | joy

September 22nd, 2016 at 2:05 pm


this is hilarious!

3 | Corvidae

September 22nd, 2016 at 2:06 pm


Crow or raven. They collect bright shiny things.

4 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive MYSTERY SOLVED - a peek inside the fishbowl

October 21st, 2016 at 1:51 pm


[…] back I wrote a post about some lost marbles. To summarize: someone was taking them and I couldn’t figure out who. WELL. I can now say, […]

5 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Finding lost things - a peek inside the fishbowl

April 30th, 2017 at 4:49 pm


[…] best to encourage growth here and there. Want to know something funny? I’ve been finding my lost marbles and pretty stones, one at a time, every time I’m out in the garden. They’re almost […]

6 | Ar

July 12th, 2023 at 11:31 pm


Fast forward to 2023 where i just ever so randomly found a blue marble in my yard along the fenced/hidden side of my house
It is not often i even walk over there but i did for some reason and spotted it for NO reason lol.
I like mysterious spiritual things like that but i would have to believe it is any of the suggested backyard critters because we have a large amount of crows grackles bluejays and tons of squirrels. The odd chipmunk and raccoons of course.
The marble was so clean too!.. have to wonder, eh!

7 | Ar

July 12th, 2023 at 11:32 pm


replace each ? with an emoji of each said animal. LOL.

8 | Deborah Swanson

October 7th, 2023 at 7:00 pm


I have 2 dishes with marbles for the bees and they are on short poles. The marbles have completely disappeared from one of the dishes. No sign of the marbles. I can not figure out how they disappeared! My yard is completely private and no kids. I’m mystified!

9 | Gretchen Humphrey

March 17th, 2024 at 12:43 pm


I had a beautiful bee& birdbath filled with a solar fountain and dozens of antique marbles that were suddenly disappearing. At first I thought my young grandson was the culprit. Then I witnessed a jay steal a marble and fly off. He couldn’t get the large ones, thank goodness. I keep an eye out for them and found 3 in the garden yesterday. Many, many more are missing. Now I’ll use cheap glass blobs from the Dollar store.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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