American Robin Welcome Wagon

Two years ago, a pair of American Robins built a nest on top of the electric meter box near our front door. (See this post: The Endless Quest for Food.) Yesterday, a pair of robins were checking out the same location, but almost immediately afterward, a magpie landed on the meter. This seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of the robins. They haven’t returned.

The Car Guy and I remembered, though, that the previous robins had a great deal of difficulty building a nest on the narrow, smooth surface of the box. It seemed to us that it might be a good idea to mount a platform on top of the box that would make it easier for the robins to anchor their nest.

This is what The Car Guy came up with. Just to make it very clear to the magpie that this was for the robins, The Car Guy added the name of the intended occupants.

A wall, an electrical meter box, the robin platform – do you see anything else in this photo? I didn’t until I finished editing it and uploaded it. I’m kind of in the photo too! Can you see me?

Update: The robins started building a nest this morning!

Right Place, Right Time

Every now and then (but not if I’m in a line-up at the store) I’m in the Right Place at the Right Time! Here are three photos to illustrate what I mean.

In 2011, I wrote a post titled Lady’s Slipper Orchids – Surprise in the Ditch. At that time, the orchids were growing in a ditch – about a 5 minute walk from us. Not a great distance, but they were easy to overlook in the tall weeds and their blooming season was short. I only saw them once again after that.

A few days ago, I was very surprised to find the pretty yellow orchids again growing in the ditch –  but this time right at the end of our driveway!

It would have been easy to miss their yellow flowers, surrounded as they were by clumps of yellow dandelions. But, they must have whispered to me… “It’s your lucky day – we’re your  neighbours now!”

I’m a Canadian ‘Snowbird’ who spends part of the winter in the USA. Last winter I went to an Estate Sale at the house next to our Arizona home. One of the items for sale was an old sewing machine in a cabinet. I ignored it – I already had a sewing machine.

The next morning, after the sale had ended, the sewing machine had been moved out to the garage, en route to who knows where. The sales agent appealed to my thriftiness by pointing out that the machine, the cabinet and a box of sewing supplies could be mine for a mere $10. Sold!

Later, when I opened the box of supplies, I found this small Canadian Flag lapel pin nestled in with the bobbins and thread. I’ll never know why the elderly American woman who owned the machine had this lapel pin, but I do know that the pin whispered to me – “This sewing machine was meant for you!”

Here is the link to my story about the Great Horned Owl Family  that has been living in a tree near the front of our house. Though we have often seen the adult owls on our property and last year I briefly glimpsed a pair of owlets, it has been a once in a lifetime event to watch three owlets ‘branch’ and eventually fledge. The owl parents really did pick the right place and the right time for us!

Do you have a ‘Right Place – Right Time’ story to share?

 

I’d Rather Be… Here than There

March is a strange month.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations –

I’d rather be here where it is warm:

Warm and sunny Arizona

Than there where it is cold:

Cold and snowy Alberta

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is I’d Rather Be…

Where would you rather be?

Christmas Spirit Can’t Come too Early this Year

The World of Commerce starts promoting Christmas earlier and earlier each year, it seems. In Canada and the United States, the ‘Great Pumpkin’ products can be in one shopping aisle and ‘Jolly Old Saint Nick’ can be in the next. Personally, I don’t like the crass materialism of the season, and I really feel sorry for the Sales Associates in the stores. Imagine having to listen to the same Christmas music for almost 2 months!

This year, however, I’ve put up my small table top Christmas tree already. Every time I walk by it, I am cheered by the tiny white snowmen decorations that my daughter and I made over 18 years ago. At night the twinkly lights brighten that corner of the room. It is peaceful.

Christmas Tree with a crackly filter

I have several reasons for putting up this tree so early. First, it is a calming reminder that the final journey with a loved one is complete and they are now in a peaceful place.

Christmas Tree with Drawing filter

The tree is also a reminder that the greatest contribution I can give others right now is a smile. I painted smiles on all those little snowmen and their unfailing cheer is contagious! Mine should be too.

Christmas Tree with a liquefy filter

Even my friends on Facebook have been infected by the outrage and anger that is so prevalent in many parts of the world. Compromise, understanding and sharing don’t seem to be objectives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Christmas Season this year moved people into the spirit of goodwill and giving, and somehow, magically, they just got stuck there?!

Windows – Watching a Fall Snow Storm

snow storm
A lacy pattern of ice on the window.

The first snow storm of the winter season, except it is supposed to be Fall…

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!
But furnace heat is delightful.
With the roads closed we can’t go,
Stop the wind, stop the cold, stop the snow!
– Margy, with help from the Christmas Carol ‘Let it Snow’ –

Photo altered in Topaz Studio with a crackly overlay and enhanced colours.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Windows (again).

Has the weather been unseasonably anything in your part of the world in the past few months?

Sad, Silent Coffee Machine

Eldest daughter and her family have been staying with us, on and off, for the past month.  This has not created any space continuum inconvenience to The Car Guy and I – The Red House is more than large enough (because it is the same house we raised a squabble of teens in). Two extra adults and two teenagers  – we left it to them to jostle for prime real estate to set up their internet command stations.

Our kitchen is spacious. It is more than capable of handling the extra cooks. The biggest difference was that the fridge filled and emptied on a daily, rather than weekly basis. Oh, and the dishwasher was often pressed into service twice a day.

But the workhorse, no, the single most essential appliance in the house, was the Coffee Machine. These people are fueled by liquid caffeine.

This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion… From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination’s orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink – for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.
– Honoré de Balzac, The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee –

Yesterday morning, The Car Guy and a very full Jeep transported the Daughter and her family to the airport to catch the first flight of many. They are starting a ten month, round the world adventure. (You can follow their journey at Daily Creatives.)

This morning it is eerily quiet and cold here at The Red House. The Coffee Machine hasn’t even been turned on, so after I photographed it I added the message I expect it would want to send to the coffee drinkers who have left it behind.

 coffee maker

The fridge door has only opened twice. The stack of dishes on the counter is hardly noticeable. The bathrooms are unoccupied – there is no water running. There are no voices chatting, no tap, tap, tap on multiple keyboards.

The weather has suddenly turned, and after months of dry heat, it is raining. Yesterday it was still summer. Today it is fall.

Missing the family, but life goes on…
Looking on the bright side, the Internet is a lot faster now that only two of us are connected…

 

Muskrat – Reshaping the Banks of Their Watery World

Alberta water

One evening I watched some Muskrats ‘working like beavers’ at a friends farm. The muskrat is a largish rodent that looks like a stocky rat. It seems harmless enough, but has the ability to reshape the banks of any body of water it decides to call home. In this photo, you can see a cut in the bank where one of its underground dens has perhaps collapsed. If they dug bank burrows under the windmill on the other side of the dugout, it might eventually cause a big problem!

Alberta Water
Muskrats primarily eat a wide variety of plants. This pair were transporting sweet clover – doesn’t it almost looked like a bridal bouquet!?

I really was disappointed when I downloaded my muskrat photos and looked at them on my computer. The early evening light wasn’t optimal for capturing detail with a zoom lens. I fancied the photos up with a few filters, but all in all, I’d say they are good examples of what ELJAYGEE calls  Second Best Shots

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Elemental.

Ghost – A Satisfying Day at the ‘Gamma Dogs’ House

We recently became ‘Grandparents’ to a puppy, though the term ‘puppy’ seems odd for a dog that never was very small and is growing really quickly. Our daughter and her husband are taking their puppy, Ghost, to puppy classes and are making good progress in establishing themselves as the ‘Alpha Dogs’! This training is quickly forgotten, however, in the excitement of a day here at our rural Red House. We joke that I am so far down in the dog’s ‘hierarchy of obedience’ alphabet that I am the ‘Gamma Dog’.


“so many smells. i wonder if any of them are dog approved food.  ‘alpha dog lady’ didn’t like the dead gopher. i found here last week.”

“sniffing, running, digging, rolling.  i need. a bowl of water!”

“and I’m done. someone carry me to the car.”

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Satisfaction.

Are you a dog owner? Or – do you just enjoy a dog when it visits, then get to send it home with the owners?