Strange New Critters

As the week, I feel, so the summer. How can it be almost gone? Nevertheless it’s Saturday —and yesterday’s weather was a good taste of things to come. The weatherman has predicted rain for today, but rain in harvest is odious, so none of us will mind at all if it doesn’t come.

There are still a few hummingbirds with us; I saw two, possibly three, off and on yesterday. Last night I actually brought the juice inside so it wouldn’t be so cold for the tiny creatures if they came — spoiling them, I guess.

I waited until after dark to take down the feeder, but while I was still on the deck, two steps up from the ground, I noticed — a hummingbird?? — gathering nectar from the flowers in the three tubs just below me. I watched it zip from flower to flower, coming within a few feet of where I stood. I was rather dumbfounded to see a hummer foraging in the dark. Poor thing must be starving to be so bold!

The tiny bird, not much bigger than a dragonfly, whizzed among the petunia blossoms quite unmindful of my presence so I stepped down and took a better look. I’ve never before seen a hummingbird this small — nor noticed the cross-wise stripes on its back. Almost like a wasp. Wait a minute! This just can’t be a hummer!

So I called my husband to come see this odd creature, which zipped around us a few times as we stood there, then went back to the flower pots. Our cats were outside now, too, and it zipped almost by their noses. I had to chase Pookie away or he would have caught the clueless thing! Bob got a fair look, too, as it slurped nectar from the petunias and said it must be a moth of some kind.

So I Googled, “moth that looks like a hummingbird” and there really is such a thing: a hummingbird hawk moth. This photo from a Bug Guide post shows the exact creature.Hummingbird Moth, black and white, British Columbia, Canada - Sphinx perelegans

Learn something new every day! Here’s another article about it.

This morning I put out the juice again and an adult female hummer was at the feeder at 6am. I think the little guys have been gone for a few days already. How much longer until they’re all gone?

I wonder how you all will be spending your day, and this weekend? Not weekend-at-the-lake weather here; rather, this would be a good day to bake and warm up the house with oven scents. I’m still keying in my misc scribblings and other clipped-out items I’ve saved over the years. I’ve finally decided there’s nothing intrinsically sacred about the words, though; I can toss the poems that aren’t that great. Ditto with my own writing. I’ve been telling myself, “One of these days I’m going to polish all these writings.” Time to face the music.

Here’s one little “thought” I wrote a few years back, in the midst of another decluttering effort.

ACCUMULATION

A lifetime of knickknacks:
souvenirs, gifts from friends,
inherited from elderly aunts.
The accumulation filled
her space. There was barely room
for the stretcher when she died
while rearranging her stuff.

Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Free Food Always Draws A Crowd

Fandango’s word prompt : TREAT
Word of the Day prompt: BLOSSOM

What goes around comes around they say. If you treat something well, you’re generally treated to some interesting reactions. Around here we treat the hummingbirds well and they in turn treat us to amusing aerial displays.

I was treated to one at 6am this morning. I looked out our hall window to see if the three little hummers we’ve seen buzzing around were at the feeder. And I saw…wait a minute! There are four…no five!…buzzing around the feeder, getting in each other’s hair. Non-stop motion.

Have you ever tried counting hummingbirds while they’re darting up, down, and sideways trying to chase each other away from the food dish? I did manage to count six…and later I thought I saw a seventh hovering around. I did see four feeding at one time, but in a minute one would decide the place was too crowded and someone else had to leave. Right now. I can’t imagine how many calories they burned up just fussing at each other.

Their wings stirred up the air so much they ruffled the petals on the nearby hanging planter. A basket of petunias and some other smaller flowers hangs only about a metre away from the feeder and hummers harvest nectar from those blossoms, too. I try to choose flowers they’ll like but today’s hybrids don’t seem as juice-full as flowers used to be.

Unfortunately our feeder attracts wasps, too. They don’t get active until the sky is lighter but there seems to be one wasp that thinks this is HIS dinner plate and he’ll chase the hummingbirds away. He can’t be on both sides of the feeder at once, though, so the hummers will grab slurps from the other side while the wasp is nosing into the hole, trying to get his own swig.

I’m so thankful our air quality has improved overnight. For the last several days we’re had a smoky haze from fires in northern Alberta and BC; yesterday it was like a gray fog hanging over the land in spite of the high wind. The smell of smoke smell permeated everything; I even smelled it while sitting here in our office.

This morning another treat for me was turning on the computer and going through the collection of incoming e-mails from WordPress. I enjoyed reading new posts from other bloggers as well as comments on my posts. I wish I had more time to post the thoughts that pop into my head as I read, and to follow more faithfully, but there never seems to be time and I have priorities I must observe. Chronic problems for all of us! Plus, I sometimes get to following one track. Speaking of which…

I see Tree Top Haiku has another follower — and I am going to start posting there again. I have so many little verses scribbled on scraps here and there. I’ve considered just posting them all on this blog, but how many of my readers would like that? My husband once told me that haiku is in a class all its own and I definitely agreed, so I started Tree Top Haiku. Now I’d best end this chronic indecision and stick to that plan. 🙂

Once you start seeing and thinking in haiku, you see so many wherever you look. I even came up with one as I watched my hummingbirds. I’ve made it into a challenge: two lines are provided and you can suggest an ending if you like. If you’re interested, CLICK HERE.

On Wednesday we went to Saskatoon to do some shopping and I bought a second-hand Toshiba Tecra laptop. Bob is enthused about the speed (3 GHz) and has been checking out its capabilities (loaded with Windows 10.) I want to try doing some, too, but I was occupied with cooking some meals at the Villa (seniors’ residence) last week. No shifts this week, so I can try it out, too. It will be a treat to sit in the recliner and read my incoming e-mails. 🙂

Hope you’re all having a good weekend and enjoying this last month of summer.

A Mosquito’s Expectation

A mosquito and I
enjoy the evening air
both of us well fed.

It expects
I’ll stick around
for its continued dining
pleasure.
I know

it’s going to be thwarted.

It expects
life to hum along forever.
I know
how brief
life can be.

🙂

My response to today’s Word of the Day Challenge: EXPECTATION
This verse, initially a simple haiku, somehow sprouted branches.

 

Word Whirl

EXPOSURE

Bewildered bug, disturbed,
its black eyes processing
gigantic me squatting here
trembling in fear.

In dread of exposure
to its serried teeth,
its hairied, harried feet
gamboling on my anatomy,

and lest I contract
some rare disease
that leaves me limp
or straightens me in my bed,

I abandon my study
of entomology,
my general philosophy
of “live and let live,”
end its peaceful existence—
and compose this silly poem.

🙂

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Prompt words for today:
Daily Addictions: GIGANTIC
Word of the day: EXPOSURE
RAGTAG Community: SERRIED
Your Daily Word: GAMBOL
Fandango’s FOWC: CONTRACT
Scott’s Daily Prompt: STRAIGHTEN

Winter Has Its Blessings

Another “character-building” winter day is dawning here in Saskatchewan. Thermometers in the city of Saskatoon are showing -29C / -20F at 7 am with a bracing wind chill equal to -37 C/ -34 F. (Actually the wind is only 8 kms per hour, but at this temp it doesn’t take much wind to give you an invigorating bite if you think of standing around outdoors.) Forecast high today is -21C / -6.

My heart goes out in sympathy to folks who normally live on the street and I’m so thankful there are organizations like the Salvation Army and various street missions that open their doors to the homeless and give them a warm meal. And I’m thankful for my own warm home. It’s a great day to build something at my sewing machine.

During the past few weeks I’ve been going through some scribblings, keying poems and what-not into my computer so I can toss out some of my space-absorbing paper collection. Here’s one silly poem I’ve saved for an especially chilly winter day.

Yes, there are some advantages to a deep freeze.

Ode to a Prairie Pest

What can the use of a grasshopper be?
Not even one purpose occurs to me!
Do you think that God in his great wise ways
has a reason for you on hot summer days?

Or are you guys here to help us know
the blessings of the soft fluffy snow
and cold that freezes those little chins
to keep you from eating the grain in our bins?

So I’ll give thanks for snow a-crunching
that deadens the sound of insects munching.
And now that I think it’s grasshopper free,
how very beautiful heaven must be!

Books: Reed Ferguson, PI

This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies
The Reed Ferguson Mystery Series, Book 1

by Renee Pawlish
Click here to view on Amazon.com

Reed Ferguson has always wanted to be a Private Eye and it looks like he’s finally getting his chance. Thanks to an inheritance from his grandparents he’s opened an office and hung out his shingle. Being a devoted fan of Humphrey Bogart and noir detective movies he hangs up a poster of Bogie and Lauren Bacall, as they appeared in The Big Sleep, on his wall “as a sort of inspiration.”

Enter his first real customer: a woman with a missing husband. Peter Ghering disaappeared on a business trip and his wife, Amanda, claims she wants him found. But does she really? Reed has some serious doubts by the time he’s heard her story. An inner voice is telling him to fear this femme fatale, but it’s his first real case, his first serious crack at being a professional gumshoe.

At least he tried to be professional but he’s new to this game and his skills are pretty amateur. Long on bravado, short on forethought. To complicate matters, what starts out as a simple investigation opens up a writhing can of worms for the new Sam Slade wanna-be. The wife hasn’t been up-front with all the facts; she’s actually hired him to expose the women her husband’s been dallying with on his business trips. Little by little Reed uncovers a plot and subplot that would tax Philip Marlowe’s private eye skills.

What really happened to the successful businessman? What will happen to his wife, who wanted him to disappear so she could inherit? And what will happen to Reed if he continues to be involved in this case? Some late night visitors make it plain that they won’t tolerate his efforts to ferret out the truth.

A very well written, well edited book. The writer obviously knows her craft and has constructed a plot that will keep a reader up late at night trying to find out how this story ends. No erotic or immoral scenes in this book, but some off-color language.

I’ve read several books now by this same author and one thing I do like about them is the paucity of dead bodies. There are some, but in the books I’ve read Reed mostly engages in finding lost spouses, pets (The Maltese Felon), etc. In that sense these stories remind me of the Hardy Boys. So if you like a tamer “noir fiction,” tones of Bogie mixed with the wit of Peter Falk and the impulsive courage of Frank & Joe Hardy, you will probably like this series.

Personal Note:
Up late last night typing up this book review when, around midnight, I started to notice a skunk-ish aroma. It grew increasingly powerful, must have had a disagreement with some other critter very nearby so we spend a pretty restless night trying to escape the smell. And with the temp outside almost freezing, you don’t open windows to air things out. 🙂

We’re also besieged by box elder beetles, a.k.a. “maple bugs.” They summer outdoors and once cool weather comes, thousands of them crawl into houses and other warm places to spend the winter. We vacuum them up steadily but there are always a dozen more when we look again.

Burying my head under the covers last night, I was wishing the skunk odor would at least fumigate the bugs. 😦