Safe Places to Sip

 

A few days ago while reading in the living room, movement caught my eye.  A hummingbird was sipping from the throats of the blue streptocarpus flowers dangling from a wall planter by the front door.  In and out of the funnel-shaped flowers he went, evidently enjoying each sip.

2016-08-01-best-streptocarpus

The last day of July, we spent the evening on the back deck by the pond with our son, John, enjoying the moderate temperature.  As dusk began, a hummingbird tanked up for the night, sipping its way around the mophead of scarlet bee-balm flowers, one tubular petal after another.  In the daytime, he usually takes only a sip or two . . . and then flies off.  Not last night.  Apparently, hummingbirds need to store enough energy to see them through the night when they remain in an almost stupor state.

2016-08-01-taken July 26-1hummer at bee balm

This morning, we finished our coffee on the back swing, reading one more chapter together in the book “Called Out” by Janet Boynes.  Lloyd saw a chickadee high up in the clump of false prairie sunflowers, safely sipping water from a chalice. If only I had the camera with me!  The large leaves enfold each other where they join onto the square stalk, forming a deep dimple or chalice.

At Cedar Hollow, the chickadees and other birds have several spots to drink from: a stone bird bath in both the front and back yards,  a rock basin in the back yard on the ground next to the steps, and, of course, the pond.  Loveliest of all, though, are the living chalices high up on the green flower stalks.  Can you see the water line near the base of the leaves on the stalk at the right?

2016-08-01-Chalice in false prairie sunflowers

2016-08-01-best close-up from top of chalice

Where do you slake your thirst these days?  With the horrendous, violent events occurring in rapid succession around the globe militarily, environmentally, and politically, have you felt the need of a fortifying drink in some safe place?

Years ago, when a Samaritan woman went for water at a well in Sychar, a Man at the well said He could give her living water.  In the conversation that followed, the identity of the Man became evident. She went back to the city and invited her people to come hear Him themselves. They came. Have you said what they said in John 4:40-42?

 

 

 

Hip, Hip, Hooray!!

When hanging up the freshly filled hummingbird feeder after breakfast, I saw two wrens flying around the Cedar Shake birdhouse on Black Pole Lane.  Does this mean that the dead wren found a few days ago may have been an intruder and not Lord Wren’s partner?  Let’s hope so.

Do you remember when we purchased a Smart car a few years ago that every chipmunk in the neighbourhood had to have a ride in it?  They didn’t exactly ask for one, but that summer, we caught 22 chipmunks in a cage, and taxied them out to their new country digs.

Last year, after Lloyd’s knee replacement, we didn’t resume our limo service.  And guess what?  We didn’t have to!

This morning, shortly after I saw this chipmunk . . . . .

2016-06-20-Chipmunk ready to eat something

. . . . . he was in hot pursuit of a trespassing chipmunk!  Ka-poosh!!  Did he chase him off in a hurry!  There won’t be 22 chipmunks around here this summer!  High-tailer, that’s his name,  has established his home somewhere under the Dutch windmill.  Woe betide any chipmunk who steps his foot inside of Cedar Hollow!  After securing the premises, High-tailer was as thirsty as a camel!

2016-06-20-chipmunk-3 drinks from rock basinHe must have been napping in his burrow when the resident Song Sparrow decided to take a bath in his rock basin, High-tailer’s basin, mind you.

2016-06-18-song Sparrow takes abath in rock basinNot everyone around Cedar Hollow gets all worked up, though.  Often as not, you’ll find Jeremy taking a snooze, dangling his fishing line in the pond.

2016-06-20b-three waterlilies and 1 bud

 

Deadly Terrorist Attack at Cedar Hollow

At 5:45 this morning, I was awakened by the melodious singing of one of our wrens.  A bit later, I heard a red squirrel chattering in its high, squeaky voice, and at the same time, a wren’s low, staccato chut-chut-chut-chut . . . the kind of scolding sound it makes if you walk too close to its home.

I went out right after breakfast to get some cultivating done in the flowerbeds surrounding the pond before the day got too hot.  On the gravel, I made a gruesome discovery.  Lying motionless . . .  dead . . . face down . . .  was a little brown wren!

Did I actually hear the terrorist attack taking place?  Was it the red squirrel?  Or was it one of those wretched trespassing cats???

When Lloyd buried its tiny body in the woods, he noted that one leg was missing.

We heard wren song now and then throughout the day, wondering how he/she could sing after such a tragic loss.  Or was he/she singing–going on line, so to speak–because that is its only way to attract another mate?

Well, the gangplank is up at Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane, and the nursery is furnished . . .  waiting.

2016-06-20-gangplank up & waiting

Question:  Is a wren more valuable than a sparrow?

Jesus speaks in Matthew 10:29-31 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

Stupendous reality.  I wasn’t the only one who saw the little wren on the ground.  God saw it!

And while you try to comprehend that, Jesus continues with these words, which reveal His omniscient mindfulness of you and me:

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

 

Sold!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That is definitely the wren’s motto.Try as he might, some pieces of lumber just refused to go into his building project, and fell to the ground.

2016-06-10-Y-shaped sticks are a real challenge

 Some choice bits of material were hand picked from beside the steps leading to the pond.

2016-06-10-foraging for twigs

After adding each plank to the gangplank or fetching a pillow or two for the nursery, Lord Wren paused on top of the house to sing!  Now, what would our world be like if construction workers paused frequently to belt out a song?  What if a policeman sang an aria while on the beat?  Mind you, if it was classical music, the streets might be cleared of ne’er do wells.

Lord Wren’s contracting efforts were not in vain.  On Saturday, June 11, Lady Wren arrived at Cedar Hollow.  She inspected the white house nearby, Chateau de la Gourde, but let him know at once that Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane was definitely her choice of residence this year.  See her on the fence?  Lord Wren quickly tacked up the SOLD sign!

2016-06-11-Lady Wren has chosen home

Today was the kind of windy, cold day when a bowl of chili would taste awfully good.  All kinds of birds thought so, too, and took their supper at the front yard feeder:  chickadees, a flock of gold finches, a rose-breasted grosbeak, a mourning dove, song sparrows, cardinals, and a nuthatch.  They are a congenial bunch.  You don’t hear any of them saying nasty things like, “Get your elbows off the table, buddy!”  They just share the diner with whoever flies in.  The wrens don’t join them, however.  They’re not interested in sitting in a pan to eat. They couldn’t sit still long enough, if they tried!  Supper must be FRESH, and caught on the wing!  Oh yes.
2016-06-13-Trio-gold finch, rose-breasted grosbeak, doveThe chipmunk ferrets out any seeds that chickadees accidentally drop as they carry their dinner to a branch on the nearby pear tree to hammer out the nutmeat.

2016-06-13-chipmunk

Housing Market is Hot!

The spring of 2016 see-sawed back and forth here at Cedar Hollow.  Winter itself had been reluctant to put in an appearance.  However, after all the white stuff had vanished, and the goldfinches had donned their summer jackets, winter decided to give it one last blast.  Whether they looked silly or not, the goldfinches were determined to dine at the snow mounded feeder in their summer apparel.

P1260963

Rose-breasted grosbeaks paid us a one-week visit during the third week of May.  It was hard to believe that their outfits had no resemblance to one another – certainly not that his and her look.  Their song is similar to that of the robin:  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Rose-breasted_Grosbeak/sounds

P1270030

The real estate market in Kitchener this spring is the hottest it’s been in years!  Ordinary houses, some obviously in need of repair, receive multiple offers, and sell almost immediately at prices exceeding the seller’s asking price.

Cedar Hollow is no exception.  This afternoon, Lord Wren looked like he would be putting offers in on two houses at the same time.

He is a funny little fellow.  He first put in an appearance on May 29th, but just long enough to warble, “I’m back!”  Like the last two summers, he spends the morning singing here and there in the neighbourhood, sometimes far away, sometimes nearby.  It’s enough to give one the jitters, hoping he won’t be coaxed into residing elsewhere.

And then, after four o’clock, Lord Wren shows up at Cedar Hollow.  Here he is sprucing up Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane:

P1270065After each installation, he renders a brief chorus.

P1270058

P1270066

Now, where on earth did that piece of railing go?

P1270063

“Say!  I wonder if Madam Wren might like the Château de la Gourde?  There’s no telling what tickles a lady’s fancy.  I better work on that, too.”

P1270095

“And if you think preparing multiple houses for my lady love’s inspection and her final selection is a breeze, you’ve got another think coming, buddy!

P1270097

At the end of the day, Lord Wren let the whole world know that he was definitely interested in Château de la Gourde, nailing his offer to its front door for all to see:

P1270103

Strange.  Lord Wren has completely ignored the Swiss Chalet on Walnut Avenue. For the past two summers, that is where he and Madam Wren raised their young ones.  Maybe they thought the red squirrel didn’t comply with the neighbourhood’s noise bylaw.

If Madam Wren chooses Château de la Gourde, it is closer to the deck swing, and will be easier to photograph.

(Over ten years ago, we planted bird gourd seeds in the back corner of the yard.  Lloyd built a wall trellis for them to climb on.  As their white flowers are pollinated by night-flying moths and insects, Lloyd went out by the light of the moon with a Q-tip and dutifully smudged pollen from one blossom to another, which resulted in several beautiful gourds.)

The song sparrow has witnessed the wren’s antics before at Cedar Hollow.  She nonchalantly prepared to refresh herself with an invigorating bath – not just once, mind you, but twice!

P1270089

Click below to hear her songs:

htps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdaE7eaayKM

 

 

 

Peeping Through

Two days ago, Lloyd and I sat on the back deck licking ice cream cones.  The ice had melted from the edges of the pond, and the thin layer in the middle grew a bit thinner as the sun warmed our shoulders.  It was only March 9th!  Unheard of!

A pink knob of rhubarb took her first gulp of spring air today.

P1260886

Delphiniums planted from seed last spring near the wall by the sidewalk garden are eager to get going.  They’re determined to beat last year’s production of tall flower stocks.

P1260888

Before Mrs. Coon gets too busy with spring house cleaning, we hope to catch her in the wire cage I took out of the upper shed this afternoon.  It seems she evicted the skunk, and hung up her own shingle above the hole dug under the front corner of the shed.  As soon as we can relocate her, we’ll fill the cavern with rocks.  Hopefully Mr. Skunk will realize he’s not welcome at Cedar Hollow.  Sorry, old chap.

Winter at Last!  Arctic Blast!  Won’t last!

Factoring in the wind chill, tomorrow will feel like minus 32!  Lloyd and I will not be venturing out.  We’ll put the fireplace on and listen to Pastor Doug Searle on Bonaire.  www.bonaireibc.org.   Have you heard anyone with such a listenable style and original content?   John thoroughly enjoys attending this church.  He and the pastor often go scuba diving together.

Here in Kitchener, Ontario, November through January was practically winterless.  Without snow, the camera simply had nothing to do—only leafless trees and bare ground outside.  In fact, it sulked in the rocking chair by the window so long that its batteries ran down.

However, I scooped it up pretty fast this afternoon when I saw this:

P1260792

The hawk must surely have been hungry, as the next thing he did was hide in a low branch of the pear tree.   How he thought he could get out quickly enough from the thicket of branches to catch anything is beyond me.

P1260795

Maybe he also decided it wouldn’t work.  Soon he flew out and soared away.  I hope his GPS gets a short circuit!  I hope that he completely forgets how he got to this bit of bird sanctuary, don’t you?

Mr. Cardinal is a frequent visitor, brightening up Cedar Hollow whenever he comes by for lunch.  Normally a ground feeder, he has found the pan catches delicious sunflower seeds, and he doesn’t have to go about foraging.  Fast food at McDonalds!  Of course!

P1260824

3rd Winter on Bonaire.  Who’s Counting?

John’s car is once again parked in our driveway.  If winter decides to get serious during his February-March sojourn in the Caribbean Netherlands, we won’t have half as much driveway to clear! 

Jasmine, his social Tonkinese, is the cat in residence on the 11th floor of Queen’s Place, getting requests to go here and there for a visit by folks other than the two parties on that floor who volunteered to care for her during his absence. 

With the Canadian dollar dragging its boots, John realized he wouldn’t be eating in many restaurants this time around, but would have to resort to cooking.  I made up a booklet titled Bachelor’s Cookbook, with easy-to-fix recipes, many of which are family-sized, so he won’t have to cook every day. 

Friends found John a modern ground-floor unit at Stay and Dive.  It has a kitchenette, air conditioning, barbecue, small outdoor pool, and private front porch, and is located close to other dive shops and friends at TWR.  (John’s unit is the middle one.)

2016-01-31-Stay and Dive

His dive tanks awaited him, which were stored on the island . . . along with thrilling adventures in the incredibly beautiful waters of Bonaire!  Thrilling adventures also await those who dive vicariously with him. . .  by means of his blogs:

www.facebook.com/sirjohnamcdonald
or
www.twitter.com/johnapollos

Do ’em Proud!

Early December, I picked up two gift boxes of amaryllis bulbs.  Photos on the boxes promised luscious tropical blooms.  I could picture them already!

Before Christmas, I decided to pot them up.  Inside the first box, a grotesque stem of amaryllis stared back at me, scrunched inside its dark tomb.  White as chalk, the stem, of normal thickness, kinked sidewise as far as the box allowed, bud and all.  Carefully, I put the bulb in its pot, and tamped the packaged earth around, letting its shoulders stand free.  The disappointing sight was placed on the wide kitchen windowsill.

It was too late to change the stem’s horizontal posture into an upright one.  It would simply break.  In a few days, its bud began to open.  Sunlight soon brought pink colour to its cheeks!  It bravely continued on, opening three other buds, which now matched the beauty of the pink blooms on the box!  I’ll call this bulb Ama.

The bulb in the second box appeared normal, with a hopeful tip of green showing on its crown.  It caused no concern, and was duly potted up and watered, and set beside its deformed cousin. I’ll call this one Ryllis.

What was surprising was the energy and determination Ama displayed!  Shortly after being planted, she began to produce another stem.  Yes, she would uphold the pride of the amaryllis family, and, this time, she would not be pitied by anyone who saw her!  She would do ‘em proud! 

Meanwhile, the normal bulb, Ryllis, sent up healthy looking leaves, long, tapered green ones.

Daily, I rotated both flower pots.

Altogether, Ama displayed five full-sized blossoms atop her second stem!

P1260749

Ryllis has been a flop, literally.  Twice, some of her gangly leaves flopped over, and had to be cut off, leaving her now with one leaf and no flower stem. She’ll end up in the green bin, that’s what.

POST-IT notes

Through the archway to the back yard, you’ll notice the clusters of orange berries on the fire thorn shrub.  Although it has grown steadily over the years, hiding the ugly gas pipe and meter, this is the first decent display of berries it has been able to hang onto.  The chipmunk must be slipping, or perhaps he has developed an allergy to them!

P1260680

Leaves from neighbouring maples and from the English walnut behind us float serenely on the pond’s surface in contrast to the water beetles skating along like beginners in their jerky stop-and-go fashion.

-

But look!  What are these maple Post-it notes on our neighbour’s fence?  What are their messages?

P1260674

  • Have you got the snow tires on?
  • Who is going to help get the lawn furniture into the storage shed?
  • Do you have the gas-oil mixture ready for the snow thrower?
  • Where is the de-icer for the sidewalk and driveway?
  • Got the snow shovels out?
  • Have you found your winter boots yet? You know you put them somewhere.
  • It’s time to bring out the warm, long-sleeved clothes and coats and to pack the summer things away.

Ah, such Post-it notes only land on Canadian fences, or where non-tropical climates prevail.  The changing seasons do make a lot of work, but never mind.  We can ball up sheets of newspaper onto the fireplace grate, add some kindling, and lay on two or three logs.  The mere scrape of a match lights it, bringing forth its crackling, scented companionship on the first snowy night, radiating a cozy warmth like nothing else as ever-changing tongues of orange flames curl upward, flickering and dancing about, some with sapphire blue at their base, some with white tips.

Waning Winter

2015-03-11

Remember when our popsicles were icicles?

P1250845

Lloyd shot the cedar falls outside of our bedroom window.  Why, we could go into business with all of these popsicles!

P1250843

While John is on Bonaire for a 9-week vacation, we are taking care of Jasmine.  Our appointment with a vet happened on a day Jasmine would rather forget.  Bundled up in my mother’s soft afghan, it was snowing ‘cats and dogs’ when we left the house.  Can’t you just hear Jasmine singing “O what a beautiful morning . . . everything’s going my way!”

P1250838

The vet gave her a thorough checkup, and prescribed drops to clear up what may have been an allergy that caused matter to form in her eyes.  Heading out of the Doon Hospital, hail was pounding down fast and furiously!

2015-03-11-Jasmine

This whole week has been ideal for the flow of maple sap.  Each night the temperature dips below zero, and then climbs up into the plus range during the day.  It’s wondrous to realize that the tall, bare maples are busy working on their two-month preparations for their spring fashion show.  They usually aim to flaunt their green finery before the 24th of May.

I was busy all day in the studio, painting the background of the stallions.  With the window open a bit, sounds of the outdoors came in. Crows flapped out of the woods, announcing that it was high time they picked up twigs and got started on their nests.  Cardinals whistled, not full throttle, mind you.  They don’t want anyone to know that they might be slightly off key, not having whistled a single note during the long Arctic-like winter.

 

 

 

 

Ever been encouraged by spooks? – 2014-11-03

Gentle rains seemed to come so easily this fall, almost daily, in fact.  On the last day of October, a robin rested momentarily in the pear tree where he had been showering in the rain, fluttering his wings about as if he were in a bird bath.  Refreshed, he was soon off to catch up with his kith and kin, headed for the distant  southlands.

Robin in pear tree

The previous Hallowe’en, I received my “tricks” at Cambridge Memorial Hospital, having my thyroid removed that morning.  Our porch light wasn’t turned on for the little trick-or- treaters as my husband and son were up visiting me in the hospital, making sure I had enough ice chips to suck on.

This year, our porch light was on once again, welcoming the neighbourhood children.  We took turns answering the doorbell.  As I handed out bags of potato chips and chocolate bars, a couple of boys around ten said, “We like your bushes!” (hedge circling the front yard).  “Happy Hallowe’en!” they chorused as they headed down the cobblestone walk.  On another of my turns at the door, a witch about twelve years old, said, “I like your wallpaper!”  Whoever heard of witches liking pretty things?

By 7:30, our stores of candy were depleted.   Off went the porch light, and on went a sense of gratitude for the unusual encouragement we had experienced.  I don’t think any of the trick-or-treaters, short or tall, forgot to say Thank you either.

The temperature went up to eleven this afternoon, making it an ideal time to bury some miracles around Cedar Hollow.  One thing is sure, they won’t stay buried.  Their hiding place will be exposed  come spring!

Bulbs of a dozen red tulips were pushed gently into a bed dug six inches deep beside the pond.  An inch of soil was sprinkled over their pointy noses, and then a piece of wire mesh was pressed carefully down before filling up their bed with soil.  Hopefully the wire mesh will put the wild moving company from the adjacent woods out of a job, and the tulips will bloom next spring . . .  where they were planted.  Don’t squirrels know that a clump of tulips is a lovely thing . . . but a single tulip popping up in the woods or in the middle of the lawn looks, well, kind of stupid?

White narcissus with pink trumpets and blue hyacinths were put into the sidewalk garden, all of them preparing to pull out of the black earth heavenly scents next May.  How?

Narcissus bulbs in hole

Five white snow drops were moved to a new location.  Their tiny heaters will baffle us once again as they melt their way through icy snow in early April.  Crocuses will unfurl soon after, splashing pure gold about, coaxing skinny bees to come get the energy drink they have prepared just for them.

 

He, she, they got their wings! – August 15, 2014

All was quiet around Cedar Hollow today, too quiet.  When I did some weeding and dead-heading, there was no action around the Swiss Chalet.  I turned off the falls to listen.  No cheeping for food.

Aug.15-14-Cedar Hollow

The winds chased white clouds across the blue sky, and waved the black walnut tree’s boughs back and forth.

P1250207

There was no use asking the tired little fisher boy if he knew where the wrens were.  He was fast asleep.

P1250205

During an afternoon break on the swing, the garden clock’s hands moved along ten minutes, 15, 20, with still no flash of brown wings to be seen.

After supper, Mr. McD and I spent some time on the swing, with the camera at the ready.  Judging by the fairly wide beak of little Duke Wren the 1st, I thought it would be another whole week before their departure.

The previous overnight temperatures were so low that Mr. McD and I hauled out our winter sleepwear and turned on the furnace.  Did the little wrens perhaps die of pneumonia? Did a cat catch their parents?  Oh such dreadful thoughts.

But then, remembering back to the baby cardinals last year, they left the nest just wearing blue pin feathers!   We couldn’t believe they were ready, but leave it they did.

Let’s think positively now.  Last night, both Lord and Lady Wren were making trips to the nest at an accelerated pace – it seemed to be every few minutes.  They must have been preparing the youngsters for flight tests they planned to hold at the crack of dawn.    

Bounce the Hummer came by and sat on the clothesline for several minutes, which was most unusual for him to do.

P1250201 I think he tried to tell me not to worry . . . that the young wrens got their wings this morning . . . and flew off into the wide, wonderful world!

Why didn’t I ask him how many there were?  Was it he, she, or they who graduated from Cedar Hollow’s flight school?  Just look at its impeccable runways!

P1250210 If he, she, they swing by to show me his, her, their diplomas, I’ll try my best to get their photograph.  That’s a promise!

And so concludes the tale of . . . A Summer at Cedar Hollow.

(Hopefully, in the future, this little tale will be available in e-book form and paperback.  Now I’ll go back to what I was supposed to be doing in the first place . . . blog on the progress of my current painting, THE BLAIR STONE ARCH.  Stay tuned.)

You keep the covers on! – August 14, 2014

The song sparrow says it all as she tests the water with her toe.  “It’s too cold for me!” 

P1250181

I took her picture while sitting on the lawn swing wearing a hooded jacket and sipping on a cup of hot chocolate!  Br-r-r-r!  The temperature only reached  16, and the winds gusted up to 50 kph, swinging the Swiss Chalet up and down and rocking it from side to side.  It truly was a Rock-a-bye baby in the treetops kind of day! 

But family duties must be taken care of no matter how abnormal the weather is.  Father Wren delivers some hot oatmeal porridge to little Duke Wren the 1st.  That should warm him up!

Aug.14-14-Father to son

“Now, you keep the covers on,” reminds Lady Wren before she exits.  “I don’t want you catching a cold.  Remember, Mrs. McD personally knit these afghans for you darlings.”

P1250164

Well, I mustn’t take that much credit . . . but I did plant the flowers and hostas around Cedar Hollow.  Lady Wren found a wilted hosta leaf or two that were just the right size to use as soft coverlets for her babies.  You know, of course, that there’s no fireplace in the Swiss Chalet, so layering is the thing to do.

The prairie-sunset-false-sunflowers were playing peekaboo today by the Cedar Shake birdhouse on Black Pole Lane!

P1250171

Buzz the Bumblebee doesn’t let a chill wind stop him.  No, Sir!  He’ll work the cone flowers until the backpacks on his legs are full and running over!

P1250188

After supper, who should visit Cedar Hollow but Bar Code, the Red headed Woodpecker!  He managed to squeeze into the front-yard bird feeder far enough to get a toothsome black-oil sunflower seed.  He prefers to unwrap his meal on the tree trunk. 

P1250193

A young female cardinal, a nuthatch, and a pair of goldfinches also came in to pick up their bedtime snacks!

Introducing you to little Duke Wren the 1st – August 13, 2014

Top o’ the morning from the tiger lily quintet! 

P1250120

Cedar Hollow received an abundance of rain last night, warm rain.  Drippity-splashity-sploosh!

By noon, the flowers had pretty much dried their frocks.  The two young start-ups in the prairie-sunset-false sunflower family have opened their first-ever blooms.  Below is a close-up of one of their happy parents:

P1250116

I turned off the waterfalls near noon to listen to the chatter coming from the Swiss Chalet.  This youngster answered the door when I climbed the knoll and knocked. His parents were out foraging, or else I would have been torpedoed!

Aug.12-14-baby wren near entrance

Compare Duke Wren the 1st’s wide beak with that of his parent below.

Aug.12-14-Adult wren's pointed beak

Never mind.  The fresh, organic diet he gobbles up will bring about major changes to it in a very short time!  Remember how quickly the baby robin’s big rubbery beak changed?

I wonder if the little duke is remembering to flutter his wings?

Larger portions are simply contagious! August 11, 2014

Who should venture into Cedar Hollow but a Yellow Swallowtail – a guest we have been anticipating for some time!

Aug.11-14-Yellow Swallowtail

Yellow is my favourite colour!  I have never seen a baby goldfinch before, have you?  He doesn’t have his black chapeau yet, but that will come.

Aug.11-14-Goldfinch baby

Lord and Lady Wren have been working their wings off!  The nestlings’ appetites are hard to satisfy!   Can you see the big larva Lord Wren has brought to the dinner table?  Looks like the youngsters have caught onto the larger portions all the restaurants are advertising these days.  It’s contagious, that’s what!

Aug.11-14-Wren w. lg. worm

“Keep your bibs on,” Father Wren says.  “I’ll be back in a jiffy!” 

Aug.11-14-Lord Wren

The song sparrow seems to have her eye on the Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane.  She certainly has her nerve, as the wrens have scolded her repeatedly, but she knows a good piece of real estate when she sees it.

P1250066

She has tried out the view from the hoop lookout . . .

Aug.1-14-WTSparrow-approves

. . . as well tested the waters in the bird bath.  Every convenience at Cedar Hollow! 

Aug.11-14-bathing

Before supper, she was in the pan below the bird feeder in the front yard, nibbling on some broken bits of sunflower seeds.  Excellent  cafeteria!

Mr. McD actually saw an airplane accident this morning!  Lord and Lady Wren crashed into each other as they came in for a landing at the Swiss Chalet.  As I said before, we could sure use an air traffic controller at Cedar Hollow!  But . . . we didn’t have to call 911.  They revved their engines in opposite directions, and were soon back, taxying in fast food, and emptying the potty chamber in between runs.  I wonder if they’d like a bit of Tiger Balm to rub on their aching joints?

Lately when the parents arrive on the front porch of the Swiss Chalet, they quiver their wings and tail.  What’s this all about?  Are they encouraging their youngsters to try flying?  Is it Flight School’s Take-off 101 or something?

Out with the old, in with the new – August 9, 2014

Cedar Hollow had the last of its cedar hedging trimmed this morning.  After John severed the cord . . . we hauled out another extension cord and soldiered on.  When Mr. McD connects the end on again, we won’t miss the few feet of length we lost.  I made myself more useful by holding the cord out and away from the electric hedge clippers as John worked.  He has a good eye for getting things as  straight as an arrow.

You wanted to see the seeds of the tiger lily, didn’t you?  Now, why didn’t you just say so?  One can’t help but feel sorry, looking at the tiger lily’s brave leaves riddled by mean, selfish, disrespectful old bugs.  They should be hauled up on the carpet and charged with vandalism and defacement of property, that’s what!     

P1240909

The song sparrow is thirsty.  “Mind if I have a drink?” she seems to say.

P1240964

How could we say no?  She had better clear out of here fast, though.  Lord Wren has seen this trespasser.

P1240916

He signalled for backup.  In another instant, he and Lady Wren swooped full speed after the sparrow like a pair of fighter jets!!

But everyone isn’t on high alert at Cedar Hollow. 

The bumblebee patiently gathered nectar and pollen from the feathery spikes of astilbe.  I do love the little hum he makes.  See him on the right-hand stalk?

P1240950

Where is his home anyway?  Years ago, I stumbled upon pollen pots of a bumble bee in the grass beside a post – beautiful, soft, cream-coloured little crocks. 

In the late afternoon, a bird in the woods was making a one-syllable call repeatedly, somewhat like a robin does at times.  Nextdoor, the Rottweiler hurried up the knoll expectantly.  Did he think it was little Pipinka calling him?

Around supper time, we got a phone call to say that my new computer was ready for pickup.  As we headed home with it stowed in the cargo area of the Smart car (barely got it in), I commented to Mr. McD that it felt kind of similar to when we brought a newborn baby home from the hospital – the scary reality of caring for it from that moment on begins to set in with each mile.  

Why do computer companies have to keep changing things anyway?  Are they a cantankerous bunch, or what?  You just get comfortable with the system you have, and then they come out with a new-fangled next model.  You hang onto your old one like a favourite slipper with a hole in the toe . . . and then it conks out on you!  It’s not fair, I tell you.  Well, I’d be driving a Model-T with a mindset like this now, wouldn’t I?  

Cedar Hollow needs an air traffic controller! – August 8, 2014

There was tidying up going on in Cedar Hollow on the inside and on the outside!  Mr. McD Moved the old computer monitor out of the office, and removed a shelf that had held the big Dell tower.  That led to rearranging other things, installing hooks to hang some of them on, doing some rewiring to make power bars more accessible. 

He got a kick out of phoning John and asking how many monitors he had.  When he answered “Two,” his Dad replied:  “Oh you poor thing.  I don’t know how I could live with less than three!”  (He had just hooked up my old monitor to his network, and is also able to switch over to the flat-screen TV as a monitor.)  John realized his Dad had relished preparing this arrogant question all afternoon . . . hardly able to wait for him to get home from work to spring it on him.

Meanwhile, I was busy trying to find the top of my desk, getting ready for the wireless computer.  All sorts of pieces of paper stashed here and there had to be filed appropriately or in the round file.  The old scanner was given a spot high up in a storage area where it could be brought back if a  slide needed to be preserved —   not one of those things that make you squeal out loud when you slip down it, no.  I mean the 35mm kind of of a thing.  Maybe you are too young to make sense out of what I’m saying.  Never mind.  Just check it out on Google.

With technology ever changing, how do we keep up with it?  What do you do with cassettes that were treasured not very long ago, and now just collect dust?  That BIG SORTING JOB will have to be done later.  Ever catch yourself saying something like that?  I’ve got good intentions.  You wouldn’t doubt that for a minute now, would you? 

Outdoors, Lord and Lady Wren were going at quite a pace, and doing some tidying up of their own.  They came and went so fast, they were practically a blur!

Aug. 8-14-wren on way out

Several times I saw one of them fly out of the Swiss Chalet with a potty chamber filled to the brim!  They wouldn’t think of just tossing its contents out the door.  No way!  They winged the white cargo into the neighbour’s yard.  Free fertilizer!  Well, I think it’s free.  I couldn’t see from the swing whether they pecked at the neighbour’s door and handed them a bill or not, but that’s none of my business.

What the two of them really need is an air traffic controller.  It looked like they collided several times, arriving at the same instant, pushing in behind the other, or madly reversing and sitting on the clothesline while the other fed the demanding nestlings.  Why don’t they ease up on the throttle a bit when they see their mate heading for the entrance?  There doesn’t seem to be a YIELD SIGN anywhere in the walnut’s boughs!  What a state of affairs!

Around four o’clock, the nestlings had settled down for a nap.  All was quiet, beautifully quiet.  We turned off the falls to listen to the quietness.  Lady Wren spent some time preening on the wooden rail by the Prairie Sunset False Sunflowers.  She was partly hidden from view by its big leaves. 

Aug. 8-14-PSFSunflowers

Close by, the tiger lilies are splashing their namesake’s colours about.  I love their brown velvet slippers!  Have you seen the shiny black balls attached to their stem?  Plant one, and you’ll have tigers in your garden, too! 

Aug. 8-14-tiger lilies-3

The cucumber vine, whose leaves are as rough as sandpaper on their underside, furnished us with delicious sandwiches yesterday.  Can you see a little cuc in the making?

P1240891

The crickets have begun singing, but sort of pianissimo so far.  Somehow they immediately remind us that mellow fall is just around the corner.  The sounds won’t be pianissimo in Fergus this week-end.  The Scottish Highland Games are on with the skirl of the bagpipes . . . the very music that sends chills down Mr. McD’s spine!  Yes, Sir!

But he wasn’t digging for worms – August 7, 2014

Whenever we go out to the lawn swing, the camera comes along.

Click!

I thought Mr. B was digging worms for Pipinka by his back fence.

Aug.7-14-Oto digs1024

 As he began heading toward his house, he saw us, and broke the bad news.

“Pipinka died at two this morning.”

I could not believe my ears!

“He started to go downhill in the early afternoon.  Didn’t want to eat; just kind of flopped around; didn’t go to the perch in his box.  Then the dysentery began and never stopped.” 

“He seemed to be doing so well yesterday morning,”  I said. 

“It might have been some toxins on the worms I bought,” Mr. B said.  “My dog  felt bad, too.  She groaned.”

I expressed my admiration for the excellent care he had taken of Pipinka, both he and his mother.  I just couldn’t believe how quickly the dysentery took him.  The robin-like chirps he made yesterday would never mature into heavenly robin rhapsodies.  He would never arrive from the southlands to herald the beginning of Canadian spring.  We would never know if Pipinka would come back to his adopted family after a sojourn in Florida.

Good bye, little Pipinka.  I’ll treasure the memory of seeing you fall asleep, cradled in our neighbour’s hands.  You certainly were a good judge of people.

On a happier note, other sounds were increasing in volume in Cedar Hollow, coming from the vicinity of the Swiss Chalet.  The wrens’ youngsters are becoming more boisterous each day, and their appetites have increased as well.

Aug. 8-14-Wren on porch

But the morning was to bring us more bad news . . . . . . 

My faithful old computer conked out, and simply could not be revived.  Like the little robin, it just flopped around.  It was so impossibly slow . . . that I resorted to darning socks while waiting for it to do the next thing!   Why, I was so desperate, I even vacuumed out the dust clogging up some vents in the computer!

Our son dropped over right after work. He said that the all-blue screen I saw yesterday is often referred to as “blue death,” indicating  that the computer’s demise is imminent.  

The three of us headed over to Best Buy.  Fortunately, we were served by an older, experienced salesman.  Rare experience.  John and his Dad reviewed and compared specs on different models,  and I ended up with a 23-inch touch-screen wireless by Hewlett Packard.   When I paint in the studio now, I won’t have to drag a large cable along to view photos on the monitor.  

Somewhat like Apple, the Hewlett Packard’s computer is embedded around the edges of the monitor, so there is no need for a large tower.  The Geeks (that’s what they call themselves; I’m not being rude), will transfer data into the new machine.  John recommended that I purchase a HELP SERVICE for a year, one with 24-hour staff.  He knows all too well how awfully impatient his mother is when it comes to technical things.

When they were talking about how fast the new computer would be, Mr. McD asked, “How will I get my socks darned now?”  Do you have any idea?

 – – – – – – –

This blog has come to you courtesy of Mr. McD’s computer.  

 

Whose afraid of the big bad . . . ? August 6, 2014

Opening this old shed is giving me the heebeejeebies, the double heebeejeebies! 

Aug. 6-14-tree frog, green-1024-yellow inside legs

Note the bi-coloured stockings this prankster wears.  The latest fashion!

I didn’t close the doors completely as I was planning on doing some yard work.  A few minutes later, I took out the hoe, and . . . PLOP!  A grey tree frog had been sleeping on top of the blade of the hoe!  How was I to know he’d pick such a crazy place for a bed?

Help!  It’s raining tree frogs in Cedar Hollow, and it wasn’t even in the forecast!  I’ll be a wreck if they don’t soon find a more sensible place  to spend the night! 

aug. 6-14-tree frog, grey

While weeding near the bird bath, I heard the baby wrens cheeping for more breakfast.  Lord and Lady Wren were quick on the wing, let me tell you, filling their youngsters’ orders as fast as they could.

“Now where is Lord Wren?  I could have sworn he was right behind in my tailwind.”

Aug. 6-14-wren looks over-1024-shoulder

Our neighbour’s son brought out Pipinka to show me his progress.  Mr. B is as good at caring for him as his mother, who is now in Europe on vacation.  I’m sure the first thing she asks whenever she phones is . . . How is Pipinka doing? 

Aug. 6-14-Pipinka-1024

I would say Pipinka’s tail is only about an inch long, wouldn’t you?  How quickly his wing and back feathers are growing.  You don’t see much fuzz sticking out between them anywhere.  The former rubbery, wide beak looks quite proper now.  And what long toe nails!  Pipinka was chirping very robin-like as he sat in Mr. B’s hand while we chatted over the fence.   When he dozed, it was the bottom eyelids that moved up to shut his eyes! 

The Rottweiler wanted to see Pipinka, too.  Mr. B lowered his hand.  The huge black dog took a  sniff.  That’s all he wanted was a sniff . . . and his nose told him everything he wanted to know.    “Yes, the speckled bird, the tiny member of my family, is doing just fine!”

I asked Mr. B if he had thought of banding Pipinka. 

“If he comes back and comes to us, we’ll know it’s Pipinka.  No other robin would do that.” 

Sensible Mr. B.

In the afternoon, Mr. McD took this photo of an adult robin bathing.  How many days do you think it will be before Pipinka looks like this?

Aug. 6-14-robin bath-1024