Baby Hummingbirds Feeding

March 24, 2017

1.30 pm – back at the nest waiting for the mother hummingbird. Got the 500mm lens on the camera now. Checked my focus and exposure ten times. Been here 5 minutes. Saw hummingbirds flying here and there but not near the nest. When I arrived I saw a squirrel heading down the trunk of the tree. Did it find the nest? I suppose not, as the nest is intact. Much chirping in the area.

Waiting… waiting… saw two Hairy Woodpeckers and a Red Tailed Hawk. People pass by on the trail, but I just sit here. No one sees the nest, and I don’t point my camera at it.

1.50 pm – the mother has to come soon. How long can she stay away feeding herself? Hold on, she’s over there on a branch. I blink and she’s gone again. Where did she go? She’s on the nest! I missed her fly 15 feet in a blink. Camera up, start clicking.

mother arrives

feed baby #1

baby #1 fed, check around

time for #2 next

feeding baby #2

done and gone in a second

 

 

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Equinoctial Photographic Magazine

Today on the trail I met two chaps observing something through a huge 3′ telescopic lens. I stopped to chat, curious about what they were looking at. It was a hummingbird nest.

hummingbird nest

I looked but didn’t see it at first, thinking it must have been 100 feet away. But it wasn’t – it was close at hand right on top of a bare branch, exposed to the weather. The mother returned and flitted around for a minute or so before a lighting on the branch, whereupon she began feeding the babies. I could see wide open tiny yellowish beaks from where I stood, but there was no sound. The big camera began clicking away and I didn’t want to horn in while watching, so I waited until many pictures had been taken then raised my own camera and focused on the mother. She stopped feeding, looked up and flew away. I did get one picture of her, however.

hummingbird and nest

Not far from there I saw a squirrel lying unusually still.

squirrel at rest

The field nearby is full of daffodils.

daffodils

Going through the pictures from the last month I was struck by how much the weather has changed. In February we had plenty of snow.

Today when the sun came out it seemed like winter was long gone. Three days ago I saw a turtle, sunning.

People here are saying spring is a month later than normal.

red tailed hawk

flicker ground feeding

one of the “wild” cats that hang out in the park

a mouse, after the owl ate it

crocuses

hooded merganser

blue bug on the window

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Best of ’68

caravelle-transistorized-watch-ad-1968

In 1968 I was with my Dad wandering around on our summer holiday in Lake Placid. I hated the place. There was nothing to do but swim, walk around town, or take a boat out, all of them by myself. There were no kids my age except twits at figure skating camp, and they were a closed group. Beside, I was a hockey player and thought boys that figure skated were weird. Perhaps my Dad took pity on me, because for no reason we went into the jewellery shop and he bought me a Bulova Accutron. At the time it was the most accurate watch, and the one used on Apollo missions! I still have that watch, and it works fine, 49 years later. However, it takes a mercury battery, and they are obsolete. If you want a battery for an Accutron now you have to pay $12 plus shipping. As wonderful as the watch is, I’m not so keen that I’d spend $15 or more to run a watch for a year, after which it would need another battery, etc, etc. I have too many other watches to wear. Recently I picked up another one for $4 at a thrift shop:

Caravelle 1968 "transistorized"

Caravelle 1968 “transistorized”

Yep, the same watch as in the advert up top. Made in 1968 or thereabouts, this was the cheaper baby sister to the Accutron, and it has a Japanese made movement made by Citizen. This is a hybrid between a regular windup watch and an all electric one, having a complete movement minus power spring. Instead of a spring it has a tiny motor. The battery is a standard 1.5 volt affair, still available today. I opened the watch and removed the dead battery which may well have been the original one, since it had the name Caravelle engraved right on it! For $2 I got a pack of 5 alkaline cells, and installed one in the watch. At first it didn’t run, but that was due to the bottom of the cell shorting out against the innards. I put tape on the base of the battery and cut a small slot for the contact, then replaced it in the watch. It started up and has been keeping perfect time ever since. It ticks like a windup watch, too. The question is, which watch proved to be the better one in the long run?

Here’s the Accutron. It said waterproof, and it was – I swam with it for years. I wish I could get a cheap battery for it.

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Accutron 214, 1968

no stem, it's on the back

no stem, it’s on the back!

Which brings me to another recent piece of 1968 technology that lives on and on and on…

1968 Olympia SF

1968 Olympia SF

I took the shell off to clean and adjust this one. The automatic ribbon reversal mechanism on the right side was jamming so the ribbon would get taut at the end and not reverse. After some examination I saw the problem, and fixed it by filing off the point on the plate  attached to the ribbon flipper, so it no longer hit the arm it was supposed to push over and thereby flip ribbon direction. Aside from that I blew out the dust and gave it a spray of silicone lube. It’s from Britain, and has many fractions but no exclamation mark. How British – no exclamations… only stiff upper lips, hmmm? I get great results with Olympia portables (the baby ones) by using old mylar ribbons. I drop the spool onto one side and thread the ribbon onto the opposite spool without going through the flipper gates. Half the mylar will fill up one regular empty spool, after which it can be turned over and reused on the bottom section. I’ve tried mylar on some other typewriters and it doesn’t work well on every machine, but works perfectly on these.

mylar ribbon

mylar ribbon

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Filed under Technology, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Watches

Fiacre’s Fork

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We visited the garden last week to look again at the plot and think about what would have to be done to get it ready for planting. Margie said we needed a pitchfork. Then we got to talking about the patron saint of gardeners, St. Fiacre. He’s also the patron saint of taxi drivers from an odd twist of fate having to do with where taxis used to come from in Paris, near the Church of St. Fiacre. Fiacre was born in Ireland in the 9th century, and his brother and he both became saints. So we began joking about St. Fiacre, as if he might be listening.

Jokingly about divine intervention we hit a few thrifts but didn’t see one pitchfork, although I did see an alpine ice axe. As we left I noticed a man buying it. No serious mountaineer would trust his life to a used ice axe; that I am certain of, as I am also certain the man was therefore no serious mountaineer. That made me wonder what he was going to do with it. Maybe he had a garden and planned to use the cutting end to hoe at the earth? Was he too seeking a pitchfork?

We checked out two stores where they sold new pitchforks. The first was $25, but M thought it was very heavy. I held it in my hands and had a look at it. On the fork part was stamped the word ‘Austria’. The handle was oak, and very thick. It was heavy duty, for sure. Next door a garden shop had one for $60. The handle was oak, but stained. I looked at the fork and there was the word ‘Austria’ stamped into the steel. This is the same tool with some more varnish, I said, hanging it back on the wall. They’re both too heavy, Margie said. I want one that’s lighter, the sort I remember from long ago. We came home with a bag of seed potatoes and a garden gnome. Later, Margie went to another garden supplier that had another heavy pitchfork for $100.

She went off to sing with friends and I went out to do errands. I decided to go down to the big thrift shop that’s always open. I hadn’t been there in a week due to the snow we had here, so it was time for a look see anyhow. I walked down to the back and saw a large cardboard barrel in which there were some shovels. Then I saw a cultivator. Thinking that might do for turning up dirt I lifted it out of the barrel, and saw that it was $5. Not bad, I had one useful gardening tool. There were several shovels too, nice ones, but we didn’t need any, so I resisted purchasing a cheap shovel.

Then I had one last look, and saw a red D handle of something that I assumed was probably an edger. I grabbed that and lifted it up when to my delight I recognized the prongs of a pitchfork, just like the one that stood in the corner of my parents’ garage 50 years ago. True Temper was stamped on the shaft, which was oak, but much thinner than those we’d already seen and rejected. The fork itself was lighter, too, with tines chamfered to reduce weight and make it easier to plunge into soil. The whole thing was half the weight of the modern ones we’d seen. It was $6. I decided to look where the others had been stamped, and there I saw the word ‘Eire’. Ireland, birthplace of St. Fiacre. In honour of our good fortune we named the new gnome Fiacre.

Bienstock, Einstein & Fiacre

Bienstock, Einstein & Fiacre

By the way, it’s not really a pitchfork, it’s a garden fork. The devil carries a pitchfork. It’s probably stamped ‘Austria’.

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Irish potato fork

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www.Wine, Wallabies & Wombats

Quick quiz: what comes from Australia? Not what lives there, what leaves there! Can’t think of anything? Nor can I, except wine and souvenir boomerangs. If one were to look on the bottom of most every manufactured item in our house, I wager none of them would have the word Australia. So we were truly amazed when on Saturday, drifting through the thrift shop next to the Mediterranean grocery store (nothing from Australia in there to be sure), my wife picked up an unfamiliar looking tin cylinder with lids top and bottom. Fastened around the tin with a rubber band was a label bearing a recipe for nut loaf. The lids were embossed with the trade name “Willow” and the word Australia, as well as “NUT LOAF” and dimensions in m/m, Australian for millimetres.

Willow Nut Loaf 170 m/m x 80 m/m

Willow Nut Loaf 170 m/m x 80 m/m

A web search turned up the key to the mystery. Willow nut loaf tins were an Australian phenomenon, made to bake tiny nut loaves, usually two at a time according to the amount of ingredients in most recipes. The printed recipe on the paper was in fact wrong, as it didn’t have the necessary sugar but instead had walnuts listed twice. Never minding this, we baked a nut loaf following the web sourced instructions. Surprise – it was excellent; the recipe worked to perfection.

delicious nut loaf

delicious nut loaf

Sadly, the Willow Company no longer has a nut loaf tin among their many cooking tins. Perhaps this explains why this item is so rare, at least in these parts. Neither of us had ever seen or heard of a nut loaf tin, and that would necessarily include mothers and grandmothers, too, proof positive of its rarity. Good luck finding one; I further wager it will be another lifetime before one of these turns up in these parts, especially in like new condition. There are some for sale out there, so if you’re curious and collect unusual kitchenware, go for it. But don’t go to Australia; they don’t make them there anymore!

the lid(s)

the lid(s)

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The Caravan Royal

Hurry your highness, the peasants are revolting!

Early Royal Caravan

Early Royal Caravan

Royalty don’t travel in caravans, unless fleeing the country. However, that never stopped the use of the word Royal from being applied to caravans, or any other thing. Here’s yet another example:

Royal Caravan: the typewriter

Royal Caravan: the typewriter

I picked this up last week. It’s a variant of a fairly common typewriter known as the Adler or Triumph, Tippa or Contessa, and of course Royal Caravan. It types well and is full featured with basket shift and tabs. Royal typewriter had a previous version that was not portable, although they always call these things portables:

Royal Caravan as used by Bob Dylan

Royal Caravan as used by Bob Dylan in the 60’s

The term “Royal Caravan” does not return the typewriter very high on the search results unless you specify the word “typewriter” however. The most interesting Royal Caravans in my mind seem to be travel trailers – here’s the most well known example:

Buckingham Palace Collection

Buckingham Palace Collection

This one was presented to Prince Charles and Princess Ann in 1955 when they were short enough to get through the door. It’s a miniature version.

no peeking at the royal children please!

no peeking at the royal children please!

There are other Royal Caravans, too:

hotel in Indonesia

hotel in Indonesia

Here’s a famous user of the latest clone, presuming from the source that it is Kubrick typing on one of the yellow iterations of the Adler/Triumph/Royal/Tippa/Contessa/Caravan.

Kubrick I presume?

Kubrick I presume?

You will see many of these on Etsy for way too much, but it seems that yellow and orange are now popular retro-nostalgia colours!

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Detective Story

True detective brings you a tale of mistaken identity…

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The Community Garden Plot

We live in a town house with a tiny yard, if you can call it a yard, with a grand total of twelve square feet of garden, in which we have three hosta plants. Other gardening happens in a few pots of herbs and annuals that Margie takes care of every summer. Seeing as how Margie is thinking ahead to the day when she’ll have more time for gardening, in other words – the day she retires from her job – she’s been thinking about getting a plot at a community garden. Terry has had one of these for five years, and every summer we go over a few times to have a look and a picnic on occasion. It’s close by, a five minute drive at most, and is one of hundreds of plots that form a large farm like garden nestled in a lovely vale through which the creek that flows out of our lake here runs on its way to the ocean.

Thinking it would be a good idea to get her name on the waiting list, which she knew to be long enough that it usually took some years to get a plot, Margie called them two years ago and put her name down. She expected it might be up to five years before a plot came up, so she was surprised when a friend told her that they got a plot not long after they signed up. Then several days ago she got a call that there were two plots available. She contacted the man who takes care of new members, and arranged to go select a plot after work. He told her his address and added that he lived across from the gardens.

I picked Margie up at 3 pm and we set off for the gardens. When we got to the corner of the street where we always turned to visit Terry’s plot, Margie said this wasn’t the name of the street on which the man lived. Thinking it must be the next street over we drove down to the parking lot and took out our map, hoping to find said street close by. The name of the street was familiar but we couldn’t remember where it was exactly. Then we saw that it was not close by at all. Yet the man had said he lived across from the gardens, hadn’t he? Yes, he said that, Margie reiterated. Off we went up the main road about a half mile to the street. We were looking at numbers now, watching for his house when we noticed that on the right side of this street there was what looked to be a community garden, judging by a multitude of small plots.

Thinking this was a satellite segment of the gardens Terry’s plot belonged to, we parked and went to the door. We were expected, and the man got his coat on as we made small talk. Margie said that she had no idea this section of the garden existed, recounting how we thought the plot was to have been back at the site where we’d just been. He looked at us quizzically and informed us they were unrelated, distinct organizations. I looked at Margie, who looked at me, and we both laughed, but not too loud. Her name had been on the wrong list for two years. That explained how it was the person she knew had got a plot at the other garden before Margie, but now it was too late to do anything about that.

We inspected the two plots and selected one further from the road. It had a water spigot close by, and the plot gets full sun all day long in summer, good for a vegetable garden. Back at the house Margie duly signed forms, and then it was time to pay. The cost turned out to be less than one third of the other, and the plot to be only half as large; both facts to our advantage. Terry’s plot, at 1200 square feet, has always been too large to fully utilize, and this one will be more than enough at 500. The setting is not quite as idyllic as expected, but the purpose is more about growing vegetables, less about admiring scenery.

There is a compost bin and a worn out storage box on site. Vestiges of Swiss chard are here and there, waiting to be pulled out come spring, along with a variety of other green things left over from last summer. On the parking lot is a large pile of leaves left by the city for use as mulch and future compost. Off to one side are several small sheds, inside of which are lawnmowers and various tools. Beside one shed a number of wheelbarrows are stacked up and wrapped in a chain. The chain has no lock, but serves to deter casual theft of wheelbarrows by pranksters. The entire hillside is deserted now in winter, a patchwork of rectangles covered with dirt, tarps, box frames and dead plants.

Membership in the garden cost $10, and is for life. This entitles members to discounts at local garden supply houses. In a few months we will be selecting seeds and preparing the ground. Margie has already declared her intention to have peas, for which I will be required to build a trellis or two. However, we will not be able to transplant any of the grape vines that Terry has. He transferred his plot to a friend, since he will no longer be using it. We gave him some grape plants a few years ago, and they are just now beginning to spread and establish themselves. Perhaps cuttings from those will root and we will have our own grapevines one day. The good thing is the garden is no further from home than the one we were expecting, so we can drop in and give the plants water in a matter of minutes. Amazingly, we were informed that this garden hasn’t got a deer problem. Like us, the deer had no idea there was a garden here, which is why they all go to the other community garden, where for two years Margie mistakenly thought her name was on the waiting list.

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