SATURDAY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I cannot help myself. There are birds, there is a camera, there are windows.

Incoming warbler and Hairy Woodpecker

And, I filled the feeder yesterday and I was curious to see if the birds sense that I had downgraded the mix from ultra super fancy to “value feeder.”

Painting of a Hairy Woodpecker
Hello, fans! I’m a warbler. Want to guess which warbler?

Answer? Not so you’d notice. I was actually at the window taking pictures of pocket watches and realized I was going to have to hold the watch and shoot with the other hand because the only spare surface near the window was now outside, my having dragged it there yesterday in my short but womanly attempt to get the bird feeder down to a level at which I could fill it.

Big bird, little birds
Delicious seeds!

I was so exhausted by the time I finished filling the feeder, I didn’t have the strength of character to drag the small table back inside. Also, it was raining, so it isn’t coming in until it dries off — whenever that might be.

The good side of a Hairy Woodpecker
A warbler and a woodpecker. Note the size difference!

And as I was putting away The Good Camera, I realized “Ooh, look, there’s a Hairy Woodpecker.” I’m pretty sure it is a Hairy Woodpecker because he seems to have a longer beak.

Looking up?
One Chickadee and two Warblers

If you weren’t clear on the size difference between the usual feeders at the unending trough, seeing the woodpeckers and warblers together on the feeder makes it really clear.

I got one with a warbler flying in for a quick nibble. Special!

Drawing – One Woodpecker

Until the woodpeckers stand next to each other, the best I can do it guess which is which. The only difference between a Hairy and a Downy is their overall size and beak length. A big Downy and a small Hairy look exactly the same. I’m not sure the difference isn’t some kind of internal birding joke.

I have decided the birds think our feeders are a trap. Because they up and fly off even just seeing me through the doors.

Three (the third is in the back) little birds

If they really think it’s a trap, they should eat less. They are definitely plump and perfect for stuffing. With a sprig of parsley.

I took pictures. It’s what I do.

TIME IN HAND: A SQUARE FOR BECKY B – Marilyn Armstrong

HOLDING TIME – A Square for Becky B

Time in your hand? I used to collect old pocket watches, but over the years, I’ve given many of them away to people who could afford to repair them.

It’s very hard to find anyone who can fix a watch these days.

It seems like clockmakers have disappeared along with buggy whip manufacturers. And also, buggies.

Elgin (Waltham) silver railroad pocket watch

I have two left I just couldn’t let go. The one showing here is a solid silver Elgin-Waltham railroad watch. Big, silver, heavy, it actually runs … but it needs a new crystal and I have no idea where to find one. So if anyone just happens to know a hobby watchmaker, let me know.

The railroad man’s watch

The only caretakers left are hobbyists. The “pros” change batteries. The people who “take care of watches” know nothing about them. If it doesn’t have a battery, they are lost.

I love the feel of a big, heavy pocket watch. This one feels so delicious in my hand, I didn’t want to put it away. I polished it up and put it in a pouch to keep it clean.

 

BIRDS OF MY WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

Nope, not part of a challenge. It’s merely that I have so many pictures of birds taken this week, I figure I ought to share them.

I have a new bird book. I broke my vow and ordered the long lens for my Olympus OMD — which cost more than the camera cost — but it’s the only game in town and I really need to use the camera that I can focus.

I don’t see a lot of squirrels in the feeder, but by the volume of disappearing food, I’m betting they get there, eat a lot, and disappear. Probably to take a long nap in a tall tree.

Can’t forget the squirrels!
Goldfinch waiting for his pals

In the course of this week, the various flocks of Goldfinch (Magnolia, American, et al) have totally taken over the feeder. They fly around it in flocks. Somehow, a few Tufted Titmouses, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and various woodpeckers drop by, but mostly … lots and lots of Goldfinch.

One mourning dove
A couple of birds. Face forward, please. I can’t tell what you are from your tail feathers!

Oh, and about the Juncos. I have a few that are so fat, I’m surprised they can still fly.

My favorite Chickadee
Cutest house finch

Today, the feeder was pretty close to empty. My son has other stuff going on and I didn’t want to bother him, so I figured “How long can it take to fill a bird feeder?” Owen does it in two minutes.

Four Goldfinches (one is mostly behind the feeder)
Still flying, they grab a seed and go for the trees!

But you see, he’s well over six feet tall and I am just barely hitting five feet. I couldn’t reach the feeder. I dragged out something to stand on, but it was too tall and I was afraid I’d ruin my future by falling off the deck head first, so finally, I turned it sideways and stood crookedly on its legs. Not very comfortable — or steady.

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker
A lonely Nuthatch

And it turns out that this bird feeder holds five pounds of food. Maybe more. It’s a lot of food. A lot more food than you think. Like … tubs of it. Maybe that’s why the Juncos are so fat? Also, some of the Goldfinch look pretty well-rounded too.

The gallant Tufted Titmouse

Eventually, they will all just sit on my deck waiting for the goodies. Unable to fly. Just sitting like little, feathered cupcakes.

I think even the squirrels are bloated.

Is it possible that I am over-feeding my wild creatures?

And finally, just so you don’t think I’m delusional, this is a picture of my Pileated Woodpecker. It’s blurry, but I think it’s definitely that big woodpecker. I’m hoping one day, he’ll drop by and hang around long enough for me to take a picture that has … you know … edges.

No matter what they say on television, you cannot take a tiny piece of a picture, blow it up, and get a nice clear image. It doesn’t work.

WIRES – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Electric

I can hide in the woods and live without wi-fi. I wouldn’t like it, but I could do it. I could shudder with fear and use an outhouse. I would hate it, but I can (and have) done it. I can easily live without a cell phone, half-heartedly without a computer … but without electricity?

It is over.

Recently, I read (again, but in Audible with Garry), George R. Stewart’s immortal “Earth Abides.” I have heard some people say “Oh, the technology is so old.” Clearly, they missed the point of the story.

It simply doesn’t matter what your technology is, was, or might have become. When the power goes out, it’s finished.

The book was written in the late 1940s, but technology is barely mentioned except to point out how it is decaying, rusting, breaking. It doesn’t make any difference because when the electric failed, everything else went down the tubes.

Whether it’s wi-fi, television, boiler, or the pump which pushes the water from well to faucets, the bottom line is electricity.

Without it? It doesn’t matter how advanced you were. How many of us could fix a generator? Not the one in your house but a big one, like Hoover Dam? Or fix a fallen wire? Or even reconnect the power lines to our own houses?

In “Earth Abides,” in a single generation, all technology is gone from the earth. A very few cars drive, in the rare case where they can find one that has gas in it and hasn’t rusted to nothing. Weapons don’t work and no one remembers how to read. No one is even interested in reading. The author, a university academic, wants desperately to have readers so they can rediscover what has been lost, but in the end, only “Earth Abides.”

The last time our power went out, we were in the dark for little more than an hour and a half, but it felt like a lifetime. It reminded me — again — that no matter what we invent, no matter how clever we get with technology, in the end, it runs on power.

Until such time as Earth has a viable alternative to massive power generation, electricity is the end of the line for our technological structure.

It is something to think about.

FROM BUD TO BLOSSOM: TWO SQUARES FOR BECKY B AND A FLOWER FOR THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

From Bud to Blossom and Flower of the Day

The interval between the fullness of a bud and the opening of the blossom is a time for the season. The Christmas cactus continues to bloom and our time is cactus time!

As I watch the changing cactus, I realize that before there were clocks, there was the growth of the soil, the height of the corn, the flowing, and drying of waters. The movement of sun and moon as the seasons change.

This is all around us. Every breath we take is a tiny piece of our life.

The bud
The flower
Flower of the Day – FOTD – 12/14/2018

ROCKS, BOULDERS AND STONES IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Rocks, Boulders, Stones

We live on rocks. Rocks, roots, and shale — that’s what the area is made of. The reason our house is all the way over on the northeast edge of the property is there’s a rock the size of New Jersey in the middle of the property.

The rocky shores of Cape Ann were (are) famous for shipwrecks
Stones under the dam

The guy who built this house (and a lot of others along this road) was not a great planner. Rather than moving the construction further forward on the lot (it’s 2.5 acres so land isn’t the problem) or further back — both of which areas are flatter and has fewer boulders — he pushed the house all the way to the northeast edge of the property line.

Superstition mountains are nothing but rocks
The rocky edge of the Blackstone River. With Great Blue Heron.

Over the property line.

On the neighbor’s property.

With faded green by the stone bridge over the Blackstone River
Stone steps into the river

Which later required a property exchange, a dozen years after the original building was erected.

My personal favorite rocks
Our garden wall composed of giant, lichen-covered stones from deep in our woods

The funny part was because our buildings are so far apart, it took a decade for anyone to notice this house was actually half on the neighbor’s land. Ah, life in the country!

 

BONNIE IS HOME FROM THE SALON – Marilyn Armstrong

I know the dogs are a total mess when I stop taking pictures of them. The Duke tends to look good most of the time, but both Scottish terriers get seriously grubby. They love dirt. They long for filth.

Garry and Bonnie

Terriers — dogs of the earth — love to dig. They love to roll in the dirt they dug and the hole they made. Our front yard — any part of it that isn’t entirely rocky — looks like a missile testing site.

Classic beard!

They race outside and bury their faces in the mud. We brought Bonnie home from “The Bark Ark” where they trimmed her down to something dog-shaped (she needs to lose a few pounds), put a Christmas style bandanna on her and home we came.

I said: “We should take her picture right away — before she’s dirty again.”

Bonnie with Garry

Garry agreed and went directly to the back deck — from which every last bird departed as we arrived. You’d think they’d figure out by now we aren’t planning to eat them for dinner. Never mind.

I had to go inside and get The Good Camera. By the time  (a minute later) I was back on the deck, Bonnie was rolling her face around on the deck and had managed to add a few sticks, twigs, and dead leaves to her beautiful trim.

Sketch portrait of a beautifully groomed Bonnie

I dusted her off, told Garry to please hold her so I could take pictures. She’s short even by my standards. When she’s on the deck, the only way to get her picture would be for me to lie flat and hope she cooperates. That didn’t seem likely. Anyway, getting up from lying flat on the deck didn’t seem like my best idea of the day.

More handsome Bonnie. They actually groomed her like a Scottish Terrier. No puffs on her tail!

Now I have pictures. For Bonnie, this is as good as it gets. And I think we’ve found a new groomer. The price is the same, but they are miles closer to us and don’t have quite the same attitude that they are doing us a favor by grooming the dogs. They are groomers. They are supposed to groom dogs.

Of course, they haven’t met Gibbs or The Duke yet.


A note on local groomers:

Most of them don’t seem to have any idea what a pure-bred dog should look like when groomed. Let’s assume that half the dogs they groom are pure-bred, but aren’t going to be shown (because people who are showing dogs do their own grooming).

It’s hard to show how dark she really is. This is pretty close.

You would think that the groomers would buy a book about dogs and look at the pictures, thereby getting an idea of what this particular dog should look like, wouldn’t you? Even if they aren’t going into a show ring, every breed has some kind of standard.

I’ve gotten my dogs back with puffy tails. With eyebrows and beards shaved off. With tufted ears.

Good grief! A Scottish Terrier with tufted ears and a puffy tail is a travesty.

Two!

These people actually knew what I meant when I said: “Face Scotty, shave everything else down because all that long  hair does is collect more dirt.” They knew exactly what to do … AND because I explained that Bonnie’s eyes are bad and need constant treatment, they trimmed her eyebrows so that they look “Scotty,” but are leaving enough of her face clear so it will be easy to treat her. I appreciate that.

This is the “show ring” version. Most of us skip all the skirts because it’s just more dirt.

Sometimes, when she’s really in her final grubby stage, I have trouble finding her eyes. I know they are there. But where?