Monday, December 20, 2010

Lard logs for the hangers on

I really like having birds around the house during the winter months. I pay them back in feed supplements for adding spectacular colour and vitality to the somewhat desert like conditions here as we cross the winter solstice.

In my over thinking way, I have developed some ideas of which there may be no merit. I like to feed most birds at a rate that is less than possible. Less is more. I could just be lazy. I use oil seeds where the larger sunflower seeds seem to sell better. I use a mixture in my lard logs that's much more dense in grains than the birds would prefer.

They still hound the feed sources and I feel like it's less like a binge and more closely related to the work they do in the wild to eke out a living.

I began providing these lard logs to keep the downy and hairy wood peckers from cleaning out the oil seed hopper as they searched for the odd seed there that was unshelled. They could and would regularly dump eighteen litres of seed on the ground inside twenty four hours. If there are no wood peckers pestering that feeder it will last a few weeks in peak season. More frequent maintenance on anything here is not what I'm trying to encourage.

One more reason I can enjoy the winter months.

Net bag lard log bird feeder. I sometimes use onion bags or fruit bags. This year I've tried winding wire into the mix to leave it more available to the birds, but that's not perfected yet.


Oil seed sunflower hopper feeder with a Chickadee and Nuthatch in attendance


Hairy woodpecker. Great company while doing the dishes



Hairy and Downy wood peckers


Sunday, December 5, 2010

But it's so cold! Not.

I heard someone suggest recently that there is no cold weather, only inappropriate clothing. I'm a fan of winter.

This weekend was spectacular for weather. It began with the first of the seasons Arctic high pressure domes settling in and driving the temperatures slightly below seasonal norms and driving the clouds away. The weekend was so very beautiful. The moon wasn't in the way of the deep darkness at night so the stars were on display very well.

I'm fortunate to have excuses to be outside often during a day. There is something to be said for frequency. Wind is not a welcome partner in my love of winter, but we had very little of that this weekend. What we got, appeared to be the lake effect. This provided a constant dusting of fresh fluffy light snow that didn't really amount to much. Utterly gorgeous!

It was a day to ski, or skate in light clothing, rosy cheeked and brimming with vitality. The natural ice isn't quite ready for my skates though. Or maybe just stand there and catch snow flakes on the tongue. Quiet, gentle... peace.

Three sets of random company stopped by today, two loads of laundry, watched a bit of football, stripped a triple chime clock and got it hand cleaned and ready for a bath.

Played some guitar and sang the upper harmony on this little gem that I'm very enthusiastic about just now. Such grace. I've never sung harmony before and I was surprised at how good it sounded and felt. Manon wants to learn this song too so I'm likely going to get to practise a lot more of that type of singing. I'm not sad about that at all.

This will be the third song I've learned this fall. That's some kind of record I'm sure. I think I'm panicking just thinking about Manon leaving me all alone to play by myself again.

On Saturday morning I saw a fantastic sun column. It was short and wide, ending in a thin cloud bank just above the horizon. It was a brilliant orange/red. Gifts for a guy filled with gratitude just now. It's a wonderful place to be.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wikileaks and mandolins

Wikileaks is coming out of the closet and into the mainstream more every day it seems. I read a lot. I think it takes a lot of reading to formulate informed opinion. Fortunately in the last 12 months or so I've managed to digest more novels than I have in a long time and that tends to lighten my view of the world. Or at least I hope it does. I really enjoy reading for pleasure. No fall knitting yet. Sad face.

I thought this piece was insightful and useful in balancing what might not occur to one if only main stream media outlets are being heard on the topic of Wikileaks. For a guy with the attention span of a gnat, I know others will be quicker to leave this type of information behind. I'm a supporter of the efforts of Wikileaks and any other checks and balances imposing themselves on the rich and powerful.

I'm surrounded by a culture of fear and I think the threats are as much from within as outside our borders. At the very least, these are very interesting times to live in, especially if you're a curious sort like I am.

I've left this place dormant this fall as I attend to my shop and the back log of work there. I tend to completely drop the ball through the summer and enjoy family, friends and the great out doors while the warm weather persists. This summer was a fine example, but the shop was in shambles and once again I do my business no favours by ignoring the needs of my clients and placing my own luxuries ahead of them. There must be balance here somewhere, but it very often eludes me.

So the shop is almost civil now and in the last couple of weekends I've managed to assemble an old mandolin. It was a gift from friends that celebrate a good purge of worldly belongings once in a while. I happened to be standing in the right place at the right time.


Like most of my conservation work I've learned to do as little as possible, preferring to leave history in full view. Functionally it's a passable playing experience, but I fear the structure is not up to the stress of those four double courses. I'm in love with the tone of the thing. The instrument if full of holes, literally and creaks and moans as it is tuned up, but it's so giving and open. A brilliant bit of folk art and a wonderful example about how it's not always all about the new and shiny things that are most valuable. I'm very grateful to have had opportunity to meet this old gentleman.

I've been shopping already, but will have to wait until the new year to pull the pin I think. I've narrowed the wish list to this one that seems to suit me well enough.

Next on the list is to remake my electric guitar. I've got a five way switch, some two position control knobs and a spiffy new single coil pick up to add to the two humbuckers already in place. This should create many, many new tone options for the hopelessly curious.


So many buttons, so little time.