Archive for November, 2010

Terrific Tuesday

November 30, 2010

Up early this rainy Tuesday morning.  Looking forward to checking out the backyard to see the little birdies flying, singing .. all their lovely antics.. they are just so sweet.  And try to get some clearer pictures of the darling hummingbirds.

Today I am finally taking action on something I’ve been putting off for way too long.  My computer is just getting slower and slower .. yesterday I counted for a full minute while it slowly, painfully .. very very slowly … moved around a web site.  Wanting to update my system, but it’s not in the cards right now .. so I’m taking it to the computer doctor to make it better (as best it can be).  Magic Tech .. do your magic!

This morning .. I am not going to let procrastination take over .. I will render it powerless …. hope that’s not an idle thought .. we’ll see how that turns out.  

I’ll start out by making a “to do” list for today .. I’ll actually write this on paper and then I can reference it later to see how I did.  One thing for sure will go on the list …. go for a long walk!

During my walk yesterday, I’d pass by gardens and would imagine how I would landscape them .. noticed some businesses had very structured, no nonsense layouts … minimal upkeeping I imagine, but not very interesting.

I love flowing, unstructured areas that feature hardy perennials which attract birds & butterflies.   Like this year at Dakota Cafe, that incredible Pineapple Sage that grew in a gigantic fashion, became adorned with hundreds of red blossoms and attracted the most exquisite hummingbirds.  Sadly, the frost overcame this strong plant and it plain broke my hear to prune it down.  Curious to see if it will regrow in the spring, cause you just never know with plants.  

A good gardener needs to be strong and sensibly prune plants .. I’m learning to do this.  Like lavender .. I love to leave the blossoms till they are spent, in order that the bees get every last bit of nectar .. so I don’t always clip them when I should.  

I picture all the plants in our yard as just taking a little break in their growing cycle.  This is the time for them to relax, store up energy for the upcoming spring, when they will break out of their dormancy and wham … pow .. zing .. grow and flower!

I remember one cold frosty wintery afternoon last year .. looking out the kitchen window,  watching a woodpecker making his way along the ground at the base of an apple tree, pecking away at unseen bits of treasure.  Chickadees en masse in the trees and a few other birds I couldn’t identify (yet!)  How peaceful it is to watch these lovely uncomplicated creatures, in their element, full of song and chatter – totally oblivious of us and our world. 

Time to enjoy watching them again ..

Well, time to unplug this ole machine and travel over to the computer doctor.  Fingers crossed he’ll be able to make this little beastie work a bit smoother!!  I’d dearly love to walk over there, but since I’m not Hercules, I’ll take the car!


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Misty Monday

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November 29, 2010

The beginning of the week nearing the end of the month starts off on a rainy note.  

I see that the bird feeder in the backyard is quite the busy place this morning!   Still not sure that the hummingbird feeder has been visited yet.  I checked the flow of the syrup mixture and it’s flowing as it should be.

Today is the day that I’ve been putting off for way too long .. the “emptying of the cupboards” … drumroll, please.  I know that once I get started, I’ll be a human dynamo … faster than the speed of light .. energizing music going .. pots of Yorkshire tea .. then I’ll think .. why didn’t I just do this before. 

It takes way less time to do housework chores than it does to keep procrastinating    Using the mantra of  “tomorrow”  always seems to fit, somehow.

In the past, I’ve gone to the HGTV chatboards for encouragement, as I know very well that I am not alone!!   I’ve read some very humourous stories of procrastination!

Ah well …. on with the day!


Procrastination is a very subtle seductive energy .. just happened to glance out the window and saw a very chubby grey squirrel hunkered down at the bird feeder, gobbling up the sunflower seeds and narry a little chickadee in sight.

Yelling and clapping my hands together only pursuaded it to leap to a nearby tree to await my absence.  So I searched via dogpile.com for a method and means to discourage this little varmint.  Discovered that squirrels do attack birds nests and destroy eggs, so am not enamoured of them for this reason.  And they are wildlife, so they are free to wander like the birds do.  Suggestions are made that one can just build a squirrel feeder and fill it with peanuts & corn .. I visualize raccoons soon joining this party!  Then I see various products made to hang over the bird feeders .. dome shaped metal forms through which hangs a long rope or wire which is attached to the bird feeder, thus dissuading the physical access of the squirrel.

I wandered around the yard, looking through my gardening items .. played around with various items to hang over the feeder.  Nothing appeared to be suitable.  Then I noticed an old yellow frisbee .. and think that this will do the trick. Quickly, using a sharp knife, I punched two holes in the top middle section of the frisbee.  I ran yellow nylon rope through, knotted them on both sides of the frisbee, so it would stay near the top.  then I tied the balance of the rope to the bird feeder.

Now I had a cover over the feeder, about 2 feet of rope and I think this will work.  The feeder is a bit lopsided, but still works.  It takes about 10 minutes of quick check flights for the birds to deem that this feeder is ok. 

fingers crossed this contraption works.


Went for a very long walk this morning .. see how procrastination works?.  I had a choice of at least 6 directions I could have chosen (not fun for a Libra!).  Finally I decided not to decide and just let me feet take me wherever.

So I found myself crossing a main road, to a sidestreet, heading for the Goose.  Enroute I met Bruiser & his owner.  Bruiser turns out to be 14 years young and I sure would not have thought him much older than 5 or so.  I’m sure that B doesn’t go around all day spending valuable sniffing time on how old he is!   Maybe that’s a secret to a long happy life … don’t waste your valuable sniffing time on stuff like that!

On this lovely day, my ipod ran out of power, coincidentally enough, it ceased when I stopped to talk to Bruiser!

So, listening the cheerful chipper of birds .. along with the distant sounds of morning traffic, I meandered down the Goose.    Took a sidestep to a path leading to the Sanctuary, I absorbed the beauty of the grasses, lichens on the trees, interesting shaped branches emanating from huge, gnarly trees.   Feeling energized and creative from all this natural beauty.  Found myself approaching the floating dock and lo and behold, a pair of Mallard ducks were paddling along.  Tomorrow, I’m bringing my camera!!

Shopping … return trip via the Sanctuary.   Took a different path .. discovered a new wooden section with railings, well done!   Met a trio of ladies who were making their first ever visit to the wildlife sanctuary and I became the official photographer for them!  We had a little visit & a laugh and parted ways.

I then bumped into a young tiny little mop eared mix of a dog who was walking along with his dog dad.  Cute.  Along the Goose now, I passed a couple with their very elegant dog.  Wheaton Terrier, I ask?  Airdale, they said.  At this point the dog looked straight up at me with an expression that told me he wasn’t amused at all, being called a Wheaton.  Hmphf, the very idea, his eyes said!  I got the message and quickly disappeared via another path, heading in the direction of my neighbourhood.

Having reached the sidewalk, I look down at this couple with their dog .. made visual contact with the Airdale and sent him a quick smile!!  That was funny.

Finally home, I tiptoe quietly into the back yard and what do I see, but the hummingbird, hovering by the feeder!  I think he’s doing a taste test in the neighbourhood, comparing nectars.  Quick nip here and then he flies away.

Robins galore, happily pecking away .. chickadees!   ( I mean to say, that the robins are pecking away at the sunflowers… not .. at the chickadees!!!) And I do not see one squirrel!!!!

Brought my camera outside, excitedly snapped some pics, a little blurry, but still …….

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Simply Serene Sunday

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November 28, 2010

Wow, what an unexpectedly wonderfully, sunny day this was!!  Looking out the window this morning, I saw the lovely little sparrows/chickadees at the feeder in the back yard… couldn’t see any hummingbirds, though.  In the front yard, I saw 3 chubby little robins .. so lovely, where have you been all summer!!!

Today was a relaxing day ..we went to Dakota Cafe for a brunch.  I pruned out some frostbitten plants .. so sad … Pineapple Sage had broken branches, most likely from the recent snows.   Jen had installed a hummingbird feeder for the little visitors .. waiting for them to visit, and they will!  Pulled out some calendulas .. their root system was quite intense, must be due to the beautiful leaf mulch!

And then we went flying over the Cowichan valley .. did some circuits! 

Spent most of the day at the airport, that was great, took lots of photos.   Visited friends.  Came home, supper and then lazy evening .. it’s been a perfect day.

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Scrumptious Saturday

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November 27, 2010

Up early this lovely no-snow, no-rain Saturday morning.  Pulling aside the kitchen curtains, I see the pale pinky remnants of a peach sunrise …. what a lovely sight.   Birds chirping happily around the bird feeder.  Yesterday I re-located the hummingbird feeder, placed it on the same arbour as the feeder.  Will go out later to see if little hummingbird is happy with that.

Today is major recycle day, finally can take items for recycling that aren’t included in the bluebox:  batteries; electronics; styrofoam; plastic bags; coffee bags; pet food bags (everything meticulously cleaned).

Channel surfing this morning, while looking through the TC .. watched Cowboy Country for a bit.  Interesting portion of the show showed a young woman who painted the most exquisite paintings of horses .. and these paintings were so full of life and the majestic power of these noble magnificent animals, their eyes were alive and sparkling.   Every year she sells her paintings at the Calgary Stampede and every year there is a lineup and the paintings are immediately sold.  She is a self taught painter, has not taken lessons.  She advised that practise is the key.  I saw the proof.  I believe.  How inspiring is that.  A belief in oneself and hard, steady work.  Success.

Reminds me, I was watching some Hollywood biz show recently “whateverhappenedto” and there was a section on a young actress who played the role of a doctor for a few years .. then she evolved and through her hard work, now is a successful producer, a leader.  She also had some wise words about life  .. she firmly believes that we are born to do a specific type of work.  We proceed with our lives, working to pay the bills.   Then, eventually, the opportunity arises to do your life’s work.  That resonated with me.  Now I have the chance to live my dream to garden full-time .. all day .. every day.   And write.  (except when I have to do housework, 😦  … ha ha)

Yesterday, bought a flat of Sunrype apple juice (in tetra packs) .. we quickly demolished one (heated in microwave with cinnamon sticks) in 2 + mugs … delicious.  Ingredients show only:  apple juice & vitamin C.  Sale is over today, so plan to pick up another flat today.  A nice variation of a hot drink in this weather and tastes so yummy.   Think I’ll heat up some in the slow cooker or on the stove for the evening.  Then maybe some popcorn.

In the meantime, time to exercise, load up the car, zip around town .. back to check on the birdies.   Who knows .. might even do some of that dreaded housework .. wait, I’ll play some energizing world music, then I can drag out the vacuum ..

Anyways .. first things first … and so this Saturday begins.

And a one and a two and a stretch, stretch, stretch.  Ow.


actually enjoyed doing my Callanetics (Calnan Pinckney, marvelous lady, awesome)  Didn’t take long.  Felt more energized.

Dashed outside, drove to the recycle depot, only $17 for a large load of recyclable.  This Pacific Mobile Depot has grown so well in the past few years .. I look forward to going there.  And great to see all the volunteers helping out.  A few months  ago my dh & myself went there.  I wore an old plastic Space Cadet helmet in the lineup, grumpies in the lineups didn’t appreciate my humour but he and I had a great laugh.  One of the young kids promptly put on the helmet and they were having a great time.  Of course, no camera with me at the time.

I was looking for writing podcasts on i-tunes a few days ago .. visited the Smithsonian site .. where they have fun games to try out and the site emphasizes the positivity of playing and being silly.  Adults too!  How it improves creativity and is empowering .. discoveries can be made by playing.  I am going to play more.

Did my shopping.  More apple juice, today is the last day of that sale.  Organic chicken broth, picked up a case of that, on sale .. good till Sept/11.  I always look for expiry dates on food items now.

Grocery shopping is fun … bumping into the same people, having a conversation on cooking methods.  Discussing merits of various types of food.  All fun.

Filled up my car, home and put everything away.  Beautiful sunny day … so enjoyable.

Now, on to dishes, make wonton and other items, to surprise my dh when he comes home from work later. Look, dear …. supper is ready and I didn’t burn anything tonight!!


The day turned sunny in the afternoon, so, of course – I had to go outside.  Watched the birds flying around the trees in the yard, feeding at the station.  Hummingbird not yet attracted to the feeder!  Beautiful afternoon.

Noted that the garlic is still growing beneath the hay mulch ( I want to get 2 more bales from Woodwynn Farms .. beautiful hay!)

And see that the semipurven babies are still growing, looking forward to the spring.  🙂

Cooked.  Played.  Watched.  Lovely.   Almost a summer day .. 🙂

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No More Snow Friday!!

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November 26, 2010

Looking out the windows at a slightly overcast day.  Yesterday’s snow has turned to todays slush.

I see that the little birdies have discovered the bird feeder .. they look so sweet, some perching on top of the garden LV arbour .. others pecking away at the sunflower seeds scattered along the gardens snowy surface, still more climbing the little gravel mountain.

Still haven’t noticed any hummingbirds at the feeder .. maybe I’ll change the location today … see if that makes a difference.

Looking forward to a long walk this morning, then .. will see what exciting things will happen today!

Notice that the Christmas sale flyers have started padding up the newspapers .. especially since last weekend.  Being retired and on a budget, I really don’t need to buy much right now.  I would only be buying “nice to haves” instead of “need to have” .. so that’s a good feeling.   I’m working hard to clear up my debt, so that’s where I’m focusing right now.  I’ve heard of people who have gone on extreme budgets, for a period of time .. only buying absolute necessities.

Funny, that is the way that our family grew up, we didn’t have much, but we sure weren’t aware of it!    In my later years, I gradually slipped into the habit of “I’ve just got to have this!” or “omg, it’s on sale, I’ll buy 3” or “this (stained glass/sewing/clogging/fiddle) hobby is so fascinating, I simply must buy everything pertaining to it!”

Now I find that I have way more than enough items to work on, I don’t need to buy much of anything for awhile.  I can create funky beaded items, sew up a storm, make a muslin pattern for my little red Echo’s seats so I can zip up some covers.  I have a full library of gardening books to refer to.  Thanks to the sewing expositions held in Victoria over the years, I also have kits for a beaded purse that I bought years ago, this is the year to make that one!  Pattern to make braided hats .. fabric is all cut out!   Ideas on writing short little stories.  Pattern for making doggie coats.

Soap making recipes .. I’d really like to get back into that, using herbs from my garden.  This time around, I’ll use a stirrer attached to the drill when I mix the solution together.  I remember years ago, I used to collect scallop shells from a restaurant, scrub them, let them dry in the sun.  I’d then make my soaps, using chocolate moulds .. let them age.  Then I’d arrange the soaps in the shells, wrap them in clear wrap and sell them.   I was energized when a rep for a hotel chain requested some samples.  Darned life got in the way, and I didn’t have the time to follow through on that.  Still, it was a fun experience.

I remember years of crafting .. creating 10 types of potpourri.  I’d mix them all up in huge containers, adding the scented oils to the orris root powder, let them age a bit.  Then I’d fill up large gallon jars .. label them … sell by scoop at craft sales.  Same with the 4 stovetop spices & moth repellant.

And 4 types of dream pillows.  First I’d purchase the fabric, cut out and sew little pillow cases.  Fill them with one of the dream mixtures, sew the ends.   Encase them in plastic bags & label added.  They were sweet.   Same with the scented drawer fresheners.  First, cut out the squares, sew 3 sides, fill with the herbal mixture, sew the ends.  Pile 3 together and then the final touch was the coordinating ribbon, tying the cushions together, ending with a bow.

And of course, 4 bath herbal mixtures.  I’d purchase the gauzy muslin, then I got into the assembly line process of cutting out the bags, sew them up with my serger, and finished by sewing a channel at the top to encase the string that would form the loop.

Had designs for labels for everything made up  and printed.   Business cards for my little business.  It was fun, lots of work.  Would I do that now?  Probably!  🙂

Then there were the tiny little car fresheners.  I found some terrific patterned fabric, showing miniature flour sacks, etc.  I’d painstakenly cut out the designs, sew 3 sides together, turn out, fill with fleecing & scented oil.  Attached a loop of string for hanging, and finish sewing.  Tiny tiny work!

And the dried flowers!  First the excitement of finding german statice plants, growing and harvesting the arcing white flowered stems.   The globe amaranths, drooping reddish flower groupings, the everlastings.  Wiring and wrapping the stems with green florist tape.  Creating wreaths of grapevines.  Decorating with moss & flowers.  That was so much fun.

Of all the creative endeavours that I’ve done in the past, making soap still interests me.  Sewing creatively also.  Fiddling.  Clogging.  yikes ….


Went on a lovely long walk on the Goose.  Again, I was the sole person walking along, all the commuters have gone their way, there would be a quiet time before lunchtime traffic.

Took photos along the way …. realize I have to play around with macros and focus.  There are a number of paths in the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary … I took one and followed it down to the floating dock to look for any geese that might be swimming by.  Surprise, the lake had actually frozen over during our cold spell .. noticed that it was mostly thawed out now.  Saw a huge flock of seagulls having a little party out on the water.

Talked with a young Sanctuary volunteer … he loves the sanctuary and so decided to volunteer, to walk the paths, collect any garbage (can you believe that people go to such an incredibly beautiful oasis and leave garbage!).   What a great little guy … a great role model for others.

Left and wandered along one path, not sure where it would take me … to a shortcut to the Goose or to the nature sanctuary???  At one point, I decided to take another adjoining path and found myself at the Goose again.  Such a beautiful place.  I haven’t really walked along here for a long time, as dogs weren’t allowed, and rightly so (although I noticed big paw prints along the paths, tsk tsk tsk).  Time to rediscover the incredible beauty of Swan Lake again.


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Snowy, snowy, snowy Thursday!

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November 25, 2010

Up bright and early today…. opened the door to see the wondrous world of falling snow .. quite a thick snowfall, actually.  Weather predicts a change to rain this afternoon .. so will try to take some photos while it’s here!

Wondering if the birds have discovered the sunflower seeds?  And if little Hummer has found the nectar made yesterday.  Today I’ll search for the beautiful blue hummingbird feeder that my dh gave me a few years ago.  Handmade glass .. so delicate.

Spent some time looking through Youtube, viewing Woodwynn Farms videos .. amazing place and amazing people.  I sure look forward to volunteering there in the garden areas.  Watched the safety video … I fill all requirements for gardening outside!

I especially was interested in the volunteers sharing meals .. wow .. this looks great, this is an unexpected bonus !!!  I aim to pick up some meal preparation tips there.  The food looks beautiful, especially the salads with the elegant sprouts presentation.  Myself, I love grains, legumes and hope to learn more ways to cook them.  I anticipate learning more about vegetable gardening, since my forte has been in herbs, perennials.  Except for my summer attempt of growing luffas from seed (next spring I’ll use my new heating mat!!!) and the purchase of some squash, pumpkin & tomato plants (didn’t get much of a harvest) .. I’ve not really planted vegetables.

Years ago, my dh & myself, not knowing anything about gardening, put in a vegetable garden, or so we thought.  We planted long long rows of lettuce & carrot seeds.  Some potato tubers.   We watered and we tended the crops.  Had to ask a neighbour at one point “excuse me, is this a weed or a vegetable?”.. turns out they were all weeds.  The seeds didn’t grow that well, we had a few tiny carrots.  I dug up the potatoes too soon, they were mostly green.  So I have lots to learn in that department … and look forward to that.

Plan to continue working away in my craft room, rediscovering past treasures that I’d packed away.  Organize paperwork.  Look through more gardening books.

Yesterday, looking throught some books on attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, birds … took note that birds need to have grit in order to digest their food, and there was a suggestion to add crumbled eggshells on a side plate, to assist them in doing this.  So I’ll do that today!

Yesterday, after all my running around getting sugar, making the hummingbird nectar, playing in the yard, organizing inside .. I realized that it was time to prepare supper!  I had all the ingredients ready to prepare the Gnudi and also banana bread .. what to do, what to do!

Decided to make the banana bread, using the last of the maple syrup that I’d brought back from Ontario a few years ago.    And to make the Gnudi tomorrow (which is today!)  The banana bread was delicious and filled the house with the beautiful scent of baking .. terrific on such a cold day. 

Prepared yam fries, tossed with olive oil and dry thyme .. delicious!!  Think there are enough for tonight also .. if not, then it’s time for another walkies in the snow.  

Looking at my lovely painting of the happy little bear, gentle eyes, looking at a butterfly … I remember the many happy talks shared with Gloria and Marco … watching them lovingly create so many works of art daily.   All of their paintings reflected such a love of nature .. the colours are all so rich … each one is a setting of a happy world.   I look forward to seeing them next summer .. either at the Swartz Bay terminal or down at the Causeway.  We’ll compare notes on growing garlic!!!  Marco & I would get into detailed discussions on growing methods & Gloria just rolled her eyes in mock exasperation .. we had fun!

I love talking with artistic people .. sharing the passion and energy of a craft, ideas, thoughts.  There were 3 painters that I used to chat with, each  with their own unique style.  All were incredibly patient, hardworking, passionate about their art.   They view the world with special insight and translate that view into amazing worlds .. sharing with us this magical interpretation via the finished paintings.  I’ve taken acrylic and painting classes .. and so  I am humbled by the apparent ease with which they create these worlds on canvas and paper.  I’d like to paint little mystical faery type images .. hey .. I’ve located my paint supplies.   I’ll play around this afternoon! 


DH & I went for a long walk in the snow .. had lunch at Tim H’s … had the french onion soup.   Coincidentally, I was later watching Jamie Olivers cooking show .  I love the garden section, where he’s outside, gathering items from the garden and then prepares everything outside & uses an outdoor brick oven, sigh. 

Today he’s talking about the alium family!! Chopped up an amazing array of dishes, using a variety of onions, shallots & GARLIC!!!  I’m going to grow onions & shallots this year!  Anyway, for the garlic, he quickly chops off the ends, leaving a bit of the stem on.  Then he simply slices the whole head of garlic into halves or thirds, without removing the silvery skins .. so incredibly natural and beautiful!  And he made English onion soup!   So I’ll be trying that also.  He chopped up a variety of globe onions.   For a finishing touch, he added shaven bits of cheese and sage leaves, dripping with a bit of olive oil and not sure if he also added b/vinegar also.   I’ll have to search for this show online.

He also prepared a potato dish, peeled, sectionned and parboiled the potatoes, added the sliced shallots, onions, garlic, chopped rosemary, olive oil, lots of (cheap) b/vinegar .. mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

 Outside to check on the bird feeder .. no takers yet .. spread some sunflower seeds on the ground .. used the birdcaller .. birds flocked around and little hummer .. but they are either not hungry or ???

Played around with my camera, discovering some macro and focusing abilities… this is fun.


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Wickedly snowy Wednesday ( a bit)

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November 24, 2010

Today, up real early .. saw the sky, not very promising, overcast, cloudy.  Light snow that continued for awhile.

No rushing around for me, today, and that is still a treat!  Quickly perused the TC, noted an interesting recipe for Gnudi, noted the ingredients, made a shopping list.  Garbed for outside and there I went.

Went for a walk, did some shopping.  Picked up the ricotta cheese, ground nutmeg & cornmeal  (for the recipe) and I have all the rest.  Walked home .. felt great … not to be driving anywhere.

Today I really focused on organizing my gardening books .. I counted, well over 100.  I organized into sections:  Herbal (with an H!) landscaping; structual; plus others.   Really enjoyed this opportunity to actually see and look through the books I’ve been accumulating over the years.  I relish the thought of spending the winter opening these treasures, making copious notes, organizing information, planning the spring in my business of small garden landscaping.  At last, at last! 

Discovered some craft treasures, realized that “today” is “someday” and framed some Ikea prints that I’ve been saving “for awhile, till someday” and they look fantastic!  Even found some tiny needlepoint designs that I’ve done over the years, and mounted them on glass also!

At one point during the day, I went downstairs to look for a hook to hang one of my treasured artistic pictures of a happy walking bear (from Gloria & Marco!!!) … while looking for a hook, I discovered my bird whistle .. so I went outside!  No sooner had I started turning the whistle, than I saw about 10 little birds suddenly swoop into the yard, into the trees.  Then 2 hummingbirds!  Realized that, although I had filled the birdfeeder with black sunflower seeds, I had neglected to fill the hummingbird feeder!

Then I spent an hour looking for a hummingbird feeder!  Found one!  Then I went to make the syrup (one part white sugar to 4 parts water, bring to a boil… to kill any mold, cool and can refrigerate).  Discovered that we did not have any white sugar at all!  Syrup is not good.  So I trudged down to 7/11, paid way too much for a little package of white cubed sugar (that’s all they had).  And trudged home.

I made a mixture of the sugar and water.  Brought to a boil.  Cooled.  Once that was done, I filled the feeder and placed outside on a branch.

Played the whistle again.   Again, yard filled with birds.  I know it takes awhile for them to discover the seeds and the syrup .. so patience.

Inside, normal housework .. followed by a wonderful few hours of looking through my books, ideas formulating, dreaming of the coming spring!



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