The Dark Creatures

Dark, Fluffy, and Very Playful

We seem to be dealing with our share of unique black creatures these days. Two weeks ago we found this black-and-white fluffy stray kitten on our doorstep. Bob had him to the vet on Saturday and he got his first shots. Lori, the vet, said Tuffy’s the most uniquely colored kitten she’s ever seen – and all the girls at the clinic thought he was adorable. 🙂 Lori’s never seen a cat with two-toned fur like his before. Tuffy’s back and leg fur is made up of black and white strands intermixxed, which gives him that hoar-frosted look. And his mostly-white ruff is so long it’s almost a cape around his neck.

The Odd Bird in the Flock

I have mentioned different times that we’re putting out bird seed and feeding a flock of sparrows that hang around – mostly in our Caraganas or in the woods on the east side of our trailer. A few different times I’ve noticed a rather large sparrow in the flock and one day I realized it wasn’t a sparrow at all. Not with a long tail like that. A closer look revealed that it was a red-wing blackbird. I don’t know why this bird decided to pass the winter hanging out with a flock of sparrows here on the chilly prairie. Was he injured or too weak to fly south with his own kin?

I’ve been keeping an eye out for him this week and today, using my binoculars, I was able to get a good look at this misfit. I have never in my life seen a blackbird quite like this one. He’s black for the most part, a black beak, too. But his upper back is kind of mottled or streaked with grey – which blackbirds never are. He has the curved wing markings of a red-wing, but they are white, or light grey. Perhaps this is the red-wing’s winter coloring, but we never see them in winter, so how can we know?

He hangs out with the stubby little English sparrows most of the time but appears to consider himself above them because he shoos them off if they get too much in his way. And he never comes to the feeder pole – at least I’ve never seen him at the feeder or on the ground below. Maybe when the weather gets colder he will? My first thought was that he won’t last; surely a blackbird can’t survive our winters. However, if the sparrows can survive, why shouldn’t he, too? Time will tell.

My Gobbling Google

I’ve had some issues with my cell phone lately – the G-mail has been gobbling up my plan’s bytes like teen boys at an eat-all-you-can buffet — and we can’t figure out why. One thing I have tried: I changed my settings and cancelled notifications so I’m not getting so many incoming e-mails with photos from other bloggers. I can rather check my Reader for new posts. I’ll see if this will make any difference this month. So if you’re inclined to post a lot of photos and you aren’t hearing as much from me, it’s because I’m not getting all your notifications right now.

One last thought — but quite important: I’d like to give a warm welcome to all my new followers. I’m not sure where everyone is finding my blog, but I see the numbers going up. 🙂 You’re all welcome to browse in the archives, read and comment on posts.

Wishing everyone a “Happy Hump Day” – as another blogger calls Wednesday, since it’s the middle of the week.

Cranes Again

Sandhill cranes again
as every autumn ever
float over our fields.
Exiles, always calling
their lost and lonely plaint.

Drifting, always searching
a place to rest, a scattering
of grain not gathered in.
Gleaning, always mourning,
like us, the coming chill.

Shadows of autumn
gliding, all too briefly,
over our land and gone.
We're left to mourn alone
the chilling, biting winds.
Image by ladymacbeth — Pixabay

A Snowy Stroll

Today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt is PEDESTRIAN

Like other PED- words like pedicure, pediform, and pedal, this word pertains to what you do with your feet. And today, in our part of the world, folks who are on foot outdoors are walking through snow.

man-1156619_640
Image by TanteTati — Pixabay

We had a wonderful week of spring; roads and sidewalks were bare and we enjoyed getting around outside. Our cats were delighted to explore parts of the yard that have been inaccessible all winter. Twice Angus brought his mouse-ly discoveries to our front step where he could dine at leisure.

But this morning we have another parting slap from winter and our cats are housebound. They waited at the door this morning to be let out as always and…er…no thanks. The mouse community is probably heaving a collective sigh of relief. 🙂

I went to the city yesterday—and am glad I did—because my hearing aid broke. It snapped off where the plastic tube joins the actual metal housing, and I was fearing it may not be fixable. (Thankfully it was!) I debated waiting until today, but, as I said, I’m glad I chose the nicer day to travel.

I wondered if the city streets would be empty, but no — I saw about a third of the usual traffic for that time of day. Which made it quite nice for a timid person like myself trying to merge onto normally crowded main arteries. I did see a few pedestrians, about a quarter of what we would usually see walking on the main street sidewalks. stopped at Walmart for groceries; again, the numbers were reduced to about a third of the usual shoppers.

En route, I saw a number of migrating birds, including about five flocks of Canada geese. Some of these were being pedestrians, strolling around the harvested fields, gleaning what they could. Many were floating on small snow-melt ponds. Three of the flocks were quite large, maybe 50–80 birds. So the birds haven’t changed their course in spite of the current human standstill.

End of an Era

Good afternoon, everyone.

Here I stand on the tail-tip of August, looking into September and watching the odd yellow leaf drift down. I should write one more blog post before the month is up. Call it a farewell to summer.

I can hardly believe that it’s almost September and the hummingbirds are still with us! Yesterday there was only one, but we’re seeing two around this morning. But then, the nights have been warmer than they often are, so maybe less of a warning to them that it’s time to head south. I do enjoy seeing the little scrappers and will miss them. A couple of orioles were here at our feeder last week, but they’ve obviously left already.

I don’t know just why I’ve been so lazy about writing and posting this month. I’ve got lots of things I want to write about, but for some reason writing hasn’t happened much this summer. A few days ago I got a hinting sort of e-mail from Word Press, something about maintaining an upbeat blog and faithful readers by posting regularly. It offered a few suggestions for things to write about. I’ve gotten this before, and wonder if they have a little widget in their system that automatically fires this e-mail off to slackers? “Blip. This person hasn’t posted for a week. Send reminder. Ping.”

In today’s lingo you’d say I have “time management issues.” I’ve been doing some online genealogical research this past week, plus some sewing, reading, bird-watching. We took a day last week to visit a sort-of relative in Regina, and took our granddaughters along to visit the natural history museum there. That trip led me to dig into the Forsyth genealogy; though I’m not a Forsyth myself I call them cousins. The uncle and aunt who raised me, whom I called Mom & Dad since I was a toddler, were Fred & Myrtle Forsyth. Grandpa Forsyth, an orphaned young miner from Glasgow, Scotland, came to Canada in 1902.

I’m feeling a general lack of energy lately and intend to make some changes health-wise this coming month. I just read an article on Pocket about a lady who decided to drink a gallon of water every day and how it helped her general well being. Click here to read. I do have a big glass of water first thing every morning, as I have to take my thyroid med…so that’s one positive. But mainly I need to establish some inflexible writing habits. Perhaps commit to following one of the many daily prompts?

One day I was on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary site and happened on lists of words that first appeared in print back in… and there were a number of dates. I was quite surprised at all the modern-sounding words that were around already in the 1600s. Here are some from 1650:

additive,   bizarre
demagogue,  empower/ment
infatuation,  instantaneous
microscope,  non-compliance
plausibility,  ostracize
self-deception,  witticism

Even as early as 1550 you might call someone over-scrupulous, a good communicator, a people-pleaser, or a blockhead. You could commend the duke’s epicurian tastes or complain about hazardous waste in the village, fill out a ballot or send your little Goldilocks to public school, where he may complain about the brutality of his caliginous teacher.

Modern English has been around a long time!

Little Pilgrim

but how will you know
where the sweet flowers grow
my little pilgrim

Hummer.GeorgeB2
       GeorgeB2 – Pixabay

August 24th and the female hummingbirds are still here, definitely three, maybe even four. They’re making frequent trips to feeders, tanking up — if peewees like this can tank up.  I think of the long journey ahead of them and wonder where all they will stop en route. Have they travelled this route before? Do they know where to find the best rest stops, flower beds and feeders on their route? Will they return to our yard next June?

Here on the Saskatchewan plains the grain fields have been turning golden blond in the warm sunshine these past few weeks. I imagine some farmers would be out swathing today if the weather looked promising, but we’ve just had a day of rain and a few sprinkles this morning. Weather the farmers don’t want to see while their precious heads of grain are still in the fields.

 

Skirmishes

On these cool-ish mornings I watch from my doorway as the hummers come to the two feeders I’ve set up. There appear to be about four juvies, though who can count such fast-moving flight artists.

I don’t know why they make hummingbird feeders with more than three holes. Perhaps in the land where they were designed, hummers know how to peacefully co-exist, but in our yard they behave much like humans. One feeder, one bird. If any other shows up, he or she is immediately urged to leave. Sometimes a few siblings can drink at the same feeder for a time, but mainly it seems to be, “This is mine. You beat it!”

Last summer I decided to hang a second feeder about a metre over and a metre lower than the main one. Occasionally I will see a bird at each, but more often the bird at the upper feeder will drive away the one wanting to light on the lower feeder. Sigh…

one hummingbird two feeders eight options zero tolerance

A few times this morning an oriole has come to the feeder to get his breakfast, so the syrup has gone down fast. I’m serving up a richer brew these days: 1 part sugar; 3 parts water. I’ve read they need more calories during migration — and that time will be coming soon. Though they be feisty little things, I hate to see them go.

I have a number of tubs of flowers on the step underneath the feeders, and planted two of them with red nicotiana this spring, thinking they’d appeal to hummers. As I observe, the hummers pretty much ignore the nicotiana blooms and seem to love my salvia and reddish-orange lantana blossoms. Duly noted for next spring. 🙂