Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

Red Polls.

It's been awhile now since these photos were taken...but, I didn't want to just archive them and forget about them...

These little guys are so cute with their little red caps.  They only come around in the wintery days... and, come in little groups and hang out for some hours.. or even days.  Flitting in and out to get some seeds.

It says they are members of the Finch family...but they have tiny "seed eating" beaks.





















Here is a Male House Finch sitting on the feeder with the little polls...you can see a huge beak in comparison.


These two are a different type ...   Hoary Red Polls I think because they are more white overall... especially whitish rumps ... smaller chin patch...



I like this one with the little guy coning in for a landing with his "wheels" up....

I'm thinking mainly Common Red Polls in this photo....but, I am not altogether sure.  Some females and some males...





I'm calling this a Mister....

and this is the Missus.....


Linking up with Stewart on Wild Bird Wednesday... pop on over to his blog to check out the other birding goodies...

just click on the badge below to be transported directly there....


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday



Finally I am almost back in the land of the living... coughing and blowing and my head still feels like a giant puffball... can't hear properly and can't smell a darn thing.  It's so easy not to bother eating when you can't smell anything interesting ...  lost several pounds.

That could be weight loss suggestion # 347... put a clothes peg on your nose.... if you can't smell it you can't taste it..so don't bother.  Perfect solution.

Haven't done much of anything ... zero energy and zero desire.... you know if I'm not baking or taking photos I am damn good and sick.

Today was the first day in two full weeks that I even wondered where my camera was.  Found it.

Managed to clean out the birdie bath... my crippled crow Mr. Limpy was the first to have a bath.  Then, a cute little Mr. Chirpy..aka House Finch showed up.  I didn't have time or inclination to take off the window screen..but, managed to click a few good ones of him splashing about.  I intentionally tried for the "action" shots.  Forget the ones where he was just standing there...although I did take a few for identification purposes later... and, missed the last one altogether as he flew straight off out of the water instead of the usual jump onto the rim to check things out.  The frame was empty.

Love the little 'stop action' looks at him and his bathing antics .... and such a sweet, dripping wet, little guy he was too.

Any suggestions as to how I can get larger photos in my blog?
You will have to click on to enlarge until I can figure out if it is possible.


Thanks to Betty Crow ...these are now larger...yaaaayyyy    silly me...so simple too.  However I did also have to make the page wider and somehow I managed to do that....yaaay me again.!   Somehow got my head around it all.































Linking up to Paying Ready Attention for Wild Bird Wednesday...check out lots of fun birds there.

Click on the image to be transported directly.















Monday, April 30, 2018

Mary Berry's Jaffa Cakes

It is so annoying when you can't find out for certain how some of the recipes are actually done.  Yes, you can always find out some of it...but, the fine details....not always.

Like, ..... how on earth do you get the chocolate on the top to look like Mary's?  It doesn't tell you other than to say you can spoon it on if you don't want to go to the trouble of getting it perfect.  Huh? Why the heck doesn't she say how she does it and let me make up my mind later as to whether I will do it her way or not?

Here is a pic of hers.... from the Great British Bake Off show... see how lovely the chocolate line is all around the little cake.  Note the great criss cross pattern they say should be there ... I've never seen a store bought version so don't really know what one should look like.    

To me, they almost look like they have been dipped in the chocolate...but, it hardly seems possible as the cake is quite flat and how would you grab the bottom and keep your fingers out of the chocolate? ..maybe a couple of skewers through the bottom of the cake? .. some other method? .. who knows?......  ...... anybody got any suggestions?                                                                  

Then, there are dozens of folks who have made them and put them out there ... and, most of them look like this.  I would probably be too embarrassed to show mine if they looked like this... but, I might.... just to let you know how difficult they were to get right.  There has to be a better way to get the chocolate on there and make it look tidy at the very least. 


I want to try Jaffa cakes some day soon... and want them to look nice.  





Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stitching again...

This little pincushion has been sitting around (everywhere in the house really) for months to over a year ...well, it must be over a year now...

Totally lost any creative mojo during the main basement area reno.. then we had water damage go from upstairs into the basement and ruin all the renovations we had just completed... then, got that repaired and refurbished and then...the stupid stove went on the fritz causing yet another renovation.  WE discovered that "no built in ovens are to be placed within 12 inches of the cooktop or damage can occur to wiring inside the built in oven"..  ...   so had to opt for a complete range, as we call them in this country ...  which meant we then had to have the granite counter top re-cut to accept a total stove instead of just a cooktop...

The granite cutting was a disaster, and the opening is not the size we need, it is slightly larger and still not square, but you can't make a hole smaller once it is cut.  The guy who installed the range finally managed to make it sit as squarely in the opening as he could and it looks okay.  Not perfect, as it could have been if the granite guys had known their stuff ...but, okay.  Oh, and, the first range had Convection fans that were not working, so we had to order a second stove... which has now been installed and is working great.

This is the type of thing that goes on all the time around here.... or so it would seem.  Thirty plus years of renovations have taken their toll methinks.... if I never have to lift a finger to do or even to oversee anybody else "doing" things round here.... it won't be too soon for me.  I'm so done with renovating.

So, there you have it... and, now ...

Got the last embroidery stitches done on it finally ..or thought I had.. stitched it up around almost the whole thing leaving a small opening to turn it through..I am used to small turning openings from doing the little bears...and, got it turned with no difficulty.  However, I don't like how that corner doily bit opens up so deep under it after all...so now I need to do some little stitches to hold it down at almost halfway into it.  That will be a bit tricky as I need to begin and end and, also stitch, on the inside and outside the already turned pillow.  Darn it.  Oh, well, it must be done.

Here it is so far...  this is the part of the little corner of doily that I don't want to lift quite so deep into it if you know what I mean.  Part way will be enough for me.

















































Here it is next to a completed one from ages ago when I took Karen's class.
















Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

I have no idea what she is really... but, she seemed to be hanging out with a little Red Poll who I think was injured or sick.  He sat on the same branch for ages one day ... and, she seemed to come and go to check on him.

She looks to me like she could be a finch...perhaps a House Finch... but, she is definitely not a Red Poll.... that is a finch beak, not the tiny one of a poll...

What do you think?  Anything about her give you a perfect read?  Click to see her even "closer up"...


Here is a photo of a male House Finch in the foreground on the feeder .... with some Red Polls in the background... not the same beak shape at all.  


And, if you have never been to Stewart's blog, Paying Ready Attention  ... please do go sometime just to have a look.  This week he is celebrating his 300th week of hosting the link for people to share their stories and photos of birds from all over the world.  How about sharing one of your birdie photos? 

Just click on this link photo below to be magically transported to Stewart's blog  ...  





Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

Finally, a Blue Jay came and hung out long enough for me to get a photo or two... yes, I have managed to get one or two in the past...but with great difficulty.

"They" (whoever they are) say that Jays are notoriously cheeky and fearless and brave and all the rest of it ...but, in my experience...they are skittish, nervous and don't stand still long enough for anybody to get a good picture of them.  Well, by anybody, of course I mean me.  It's ridiculous.  I read all the time about how everybody has them all over the place and can get close to them and they all have great photos to show and everything ...not me.  Not around here.

But, today I have a some to show you...and, I'm pretty darned happy with them.  This morning I saw two of them looking around in the Korean Lilac and, decided they were trying to break off tiny twigs... must be building a nest nearby.  Man, this is popular nesting territory ... and, not for all the good and pretty birds either.

Mr. and Mrs. Limpy have been dive bombed by a little, scary hawk the past few days every time they try to get onto our patio.  The hawk must have a nest nearby and is just protecting it...I can't see it wanting to kill a great big crow....they are smaller than the crow for heaven's sake.  Must just be a crazy "Mother-to-Be"... you know how they can get.  Size matters not.

I have no clue if this jay is male or female...all I know is.... it is beautiful.

















Almost like it was posing it hopped off the top of the bird feeder pole and onto the snowy wall.  Turned the other side.... so cute...

















And, then... much to my delight and surprise ...turned directly to look at me!



















Click on any photo to enlarge and see him closer ...and, head over to Stewarts blog to see tons more lovely birds and some really great photography... some of those guys.... wow.....

Click on this to go there ...







Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Arrrghhhh@#! April in Canada

Maybe "Spring" will never happen around here this year.  Well, it won't for sure.  How can it at this late date?  By the time we get any warmth and the 6 inches of ice on the roof melts or the snow goes off the lawns....it will be summer.  We should be used to it I guess.  We often jump straight out of ski jackets into shorts.  It is supposed to get up to +16C by next week.  There is absolutely no sense buying anything related to spring clothes...just wait a week or two and ..it'll be summer.  And, good and hot ... by July it will be +30C.  Ridiculous.

But, this happened yet again two days ago.. I had to keep going out to knock off the wet, clingy snow.  The poor little guys were having a hard time shifting it to find a seed.













Nobody was more ticked than my two crows... huddled against the wind and snow.  Missus wondered why she flew all the way home from the southern states for this (apparently they go as far as Kansas or Oklahoma..wonder which one she goes to??)  Limpy just sat there ...  not saying a word.....he put up with it all winter because he has a bad wing and can't fly south.  I bet they were both saying some unkind things about Mother Nature.  If crows think to do that.  I know I was.

See them up in the tree? ... click on to get a bit nearer to them if you like.   I wish I could get close enough to pet them.  So far, they will only come into the patio and they still stay about 6 feet or so away if I stay out there.  They prefer it if I come inside while they tidy up.














Look at that.... snowing so much I thought it was about mid December, not nearly the last week or two in April.....sigh..................................................













I got ticked and even turned on the Christmas lights that are still decorating the little Korean Lilac... can't even get near enough to it to get them off yet...why not turn them on?  the neighbours had a laugh.  I got a few emails.... and, yes.... my neighbour played along.  She turned on hers as well...still on her two little trees in front.






Friday, March 30, 2018

Limpy survived another winter !!

Some of you may remember my little story about a wounded crow that showed up in our yard in April 2015.  His one wing was almost dragging on the ground and he had a bad leg.  Poor guy was in a bad way.

I put out some food for him and he flopped over to get it and had a drink in my bird bath and hung around.....

Later, I noticed that he took food into a tree across the street and climbed up the branches like they were steps... hopping and flapping and managing to get up pretty high.... and then, sort of sailed across to the nearest tree without even having to really fly.  He and the missus had built a nest there... and for weeks he did that to help feed her .. he worked like a poor, crippled Trojan for weeks.  I almost cried to watch it.  And, I was damned if I would let him down...I put out food whenever he was on the ground.  It was my job.

He would sail down again to our yard and get some more ...as often as I would go out and give him some more goodies.  He recuperated quite a bit and the wing got stronger...he was able to fly short distances if he got scared or felt threatened.   His lady came down every so often and shared some food or visited with him and they sat together on the lawn or in the big tree across the street.

In the fall... she and the "kids" talked to him a lot in the Poplar... and maybe he even tried to go a short distance with them...but, in the end.... they left.  He was unable to go with them.  Later I noticed another smaller crippled crow would show up with him from time to time and then... when the snows came...they disappeared.  I didn't see him for months.  I read up on crows and discovered that they migrate to Kansas or Oklahoma from here in Canada.  Wow....that is a long way south of us.

The cripples and misfits have to stay and hang together during the winter if they can't fly south.  I had no idea if he would last the winter...it gets down to -35C and 40C  around here .... with plenty of snow... this year we still have 4 feet out there ....... but lo and behold... that first spring he showed up in the Poplar across the street...looking pretty darn good... and just hanging out.  I didn't realize for 3 days that he was just waiting for his lady.  Then, she and a few young crows showed up.. and he brought them all down onto the front sidewalk to show his family off and I tossed out some goodies and they all hopped around gathering up things.  They hung around for a day and then... seemed to disappear.

Later I noticed the two of them flying around, gathering twigs and building just down the street.  Apparently they don't use the same nest a second time..they make new ones but in close proximity to the old one.

So, this is the 3rd spring he has shown up and waited patiently for his lifelong mate to show up from her migration trip.  He was here at the beginning of the week... ... hanging out...waiting for his special lady.  I got a bit worried that this year she wasn't coming...but she showed up the other day... whew!

Last year some big usurper crow and his long legged woman set up camp in the tree across our back alley... I call him the Back Alley Crow... and he bullies poor Limpy.  Because he is crippled I guess.   So, poor Limpy and the Missus had to move further toward the golf course... and build there.   They managed to raise some more babies in spite of the ongoing dive bombings from the Bullies... and, they don't come to the yard much... as a matter of fact...I only got to hear him calling me from the tree every so often last year and sometimes when I went golfing...he hopped over to me to share my peanut butter sandwich.  He even recognizes me out of context.  Crows are soooo smart.

He was sitting on a big snowdrift in the front yard for several days til the bully came home from holidays...but, now... he only sneaks in on occasion.   It was such fun to see him peeking into the front window and sliding down the snowbank to get his little bits of chicken and snacks for the few days ...but, I miss him now as he has had to move a bit further away due to the antics of the bully.  If only I could tell them apart before I see my guy on the ground...I could toss things at the wrong "guy" ...but, I can't tell for sure til I see his funny 'hopping' gait ....


The first day I heard and saw him...last week... through the blinds... couldn't  believe he was there sitting on top of the huge four foot snowbank.






   






Here is the size of the snowbanks still around...


He soon had a little trail of footprints up and down the bank...













He had a few days of fun before the other bully crow showed up ... just ahead of his little lady, and then... they had to spend more time out of the front yard than in it.  He still shows up and lands on the privacy fence or the snow bank just to say hi and see if I sprint out with some bits of pork or chicken or some bit of something for him to carry off.
Limpy is a lot of fun.
















Here he is the spring of 2016 ...April.... peeking in the window when he showed up after being with the local group all winter... checking if I still lived here and wondering if I remembered I was supposed to toss out some snacks.  Cheeky boy!  Now each spring I look for him as much as he checks on me.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

Last week I was going to post my photos of 'plain but pretty' House Sparrows as some other bird photographer called them.

Then I saw Brian King's images of House Sparrows and man... they were so beautiful.... I thought...hmmm....    I dunno.... mine are not that great in comparison.

But, then I thought....Hey !! just a darn minute..... this is not a competition..... it is just fun.

It's lots of fun just seeing other peoples amazing, beautiful, interesting, or just plain funny birds.  I used to laugh out loud at Dave's photos.  He used to post the butts of birds... as a matter of fact...that is the name of his blog... Birds from Behind  .....   ... as that is mostly what we get trying to take photos of birds anyway.  They jump out of the frame at the least opportune time.  Sometimes we get a wing... a part of a foot...a butt....sometimes we get lucky on a first 'click'...sometimes you never get what you are trying for..... you get the idea.

Anyway... after all of that...I give you my lovely little House Sparrows.   My sister and I have decided they are kinda like us.  Our Dad used to tell us we were "homely"... miserable old shit.... our Mom used to tell us he meant "homey" to try to make us think he wasn't just rude.  It's okay... maybe we are sort of middle of the road looking;  even if one of his 3 girls was runner up to Miss Dominion of Canada one year ... .. feisty and fun .... and, on a good day, sort of cute.   I'll take that.

Click on any photo to see it larger ...



Female House Sparrow

Male House Sparrow

Female House Sparrow


Male House Sparrow


Female House Sparrow

Female House Sparrow

So cute... looking right at me and demanding I take her 'best side' ....



Linking up to Stewart's blog at Paying Ready Attention  .... where there are lots of lovely birdies to see ...





Monday, March 5, 2018

Winter in Canada

Another blast of winter around these parts over the weekend.... hours more of shovelling.  The piles are getting so high it's almost impossible for me to toss a shovel full up that high..and, when I do..it comes rolling back down to the bottom again.

When I visited my sister on her little farm, she taught me how to pile manure.. for making compost.  I decided I had to do it that way or it wasn't going to work.   Once it gets too high and pointy, it just doesn't work.  The horse poop balls come rolling right back onto your boots.

So, I had to push the shovel back and forth over the top of the pile of snow just like we used the pitch forks to do with the pile of poo ...flatten it out a bit and then..I could pile on more.  Then...more shovelling it back and forth...my arm was killing me by then.... so I could throw on more.  In the end...the piles are still 5 feet high..but, at least now they are also almost 4 feet across so I can still get a bit more on top.  If I could get out onto the middle of the lawn I could rake or shovel a bit more off the top towards the middle of the lawn and get them down a bit more...but, it is 4 feet deep on the lawn... I'm only 5 feet tall...forget it.  The sun is shining today... maybe some will melt... hahah yeh, right...it is only -12C..so maybe not yet....

I got a bit crazy and turned on the Christmas lights...which I have been unable to get off that bush,  seeing as that snow is pretty deep ...I was leaving them til it melted a bit more... now it snowed a lot more!

Click on the picture to see it larger so you can see details and see how deep things are.  I even had to make boot holes about a foot up my pile in order to step up to toss more snow on.  I had to shovel out the rather large patio because I have some morons coming on Tuesday to take away our granite slab to try to fix the ridiculous cutting mess they made of it last week.  Of course, this was after they assured us they do this all the time.  Liars.  I have no idea what is next if they can't fix their screw up.  As usual, for us...just one more bloody disaster after another with every.single.renovation we have ever done.  We were done with renovations remember? ? ... ..but, then..the oven conked out and we decided to replace it with a range because it was never supposed to be that close to a stove top .. a minimum of 12 inches apparently is even code and necessary so as not to cause damage to appliances underneath the stovetop.   No inspectors... no salesmen (of course) ...no installers...nobody ... ..nobody told us that 5 years ago when we did the last big reno.  We only noticed a teensy tiny line of print on some obscure size charts of the oven when we were measuring for the new range.  So had to have granite re-cut to accommodate it.  Don't believe anybody for a second when they say they do this all the time.   And, if you are one of the lucky ones who has actually had it done and got a great job?... good for you.