Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bird Ringing Demonstration

Because my good friend Sybil came out and helped ring our baby swallows, I have been made aware of what the British Trust for Ornithology or BTO does to track birds in the UK and Europe.

I found out there was a bird ringing demonstration at a local wildlife reserve.  It was a dry and bright Saturday morning and I went along with my camera and binoculars.

I was familiar with the basics of putting rings on birds.

Set up mist nets where you think birds will be
Mist net
Catch birds in a mist net and put the birds in a clean, cotton bag.  One bird per bag please

Coal Tit with next bird in a bag
Get blackbirds out of the mist net immediately as they can get their tongues caught in the nets and be double tangled.
Male Blackbird getting measured
2. Weigh them and measure wings. Try to determine sex and age.
Reed Warbler getting wings measured
3. Write all the information down
Male Chaffinch getting inspected
4. Put a numbered ring on the bird's leg and add that number to the information
Robin being documented
5. Let the bird go

I was there for over an hour watching them pluck birds from the nets, talking to other people and inspecting the area.  I had a good time.  The staff and volunteers at the reserve are charming.  You know what?  They know their birds too.

The club that rings birds was ringing the birds was separate from the reserve itself.  I have tried to convince them that they should come out to our place and ring the visitors to my feeders.  Turns out they are really busy and have plenty of gardens available.  My little birds are competing with the Bass Rock gannets and the puffins at Ailsa Craig.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Grandsons are perfect!

Grandmotherly pride has been restricted to social media for almost the last two years.  Highlights have seeped onto the blog when my exuberance overflows.  Today it bubbles over again.

Lennox who lives in Chicago is going to be two next month.  He will be two freaking years old on the 10th of March!  I sure wish I could be there to celebrate with him.

He has grown to be just exactly what I expected, extremely bright, gifted with just a dash of precociousness.  He is such a good-natured little guy and he charms all he meets.  He loves to sing and bend his family to his will.

Big help with cooking!
Lennox also loves to cook.  It is adorable to watch him sprinkle imaginary spices into what he is creating.

Jack, the Scottish grandchild follows with his second birthday in April.
Look at this cherub!  Those curls have wrapped right around my heart.

He is also quite advanced for his tender age.  Look, if you think I am going to be even slightly restrained when it comes to my grandchildren, guess again.

Jack has the most wonderful sense of fun and a tiny flair for drama has been poking through.  He is also showing signs of being a tidy and organised little child.

video
I am so very very happy that my life includes these two beautiful children.

The thing I discovered when I became a mother myself is how ferociously you love your child.  I discovered when the second child came along that love expands to fill the need.  You don't love your first child less because a second one has showed up, your ability to love grows to encompass the new child.  The genius thing is that it works over and over again.  I have yet to run out!

This is brilliant because it is going to need to grow again!
I am making this baby quilt for the grandchild that is expected to arrive in June!  Each child has had a quilt from Nana.   Lennox's mother selected the colours with me for this project.  I have finished the top and am now at the very long and involved process of hand quilting it all together.

There are loads of squares left over from this quilt and the two that I made before.  It was suggested that I make a Nana's quilt out of these.  That's a brilliant idea!  I think I'll be making up the blocks soon!  Here's the big question though. . . . when I do stop?  If I complete it and then "surprise" another is on the way. . . this child's quilt will not be in the Nana quilt.  I'll worry about that later.  I have sewing to do.


Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Record Collector

The Man of The Place is a committed vinyl junkie.  He has a large and diverse record collection that is the work of a lifetime.

It was obvious a few years ago that the shelves that he built in 1992 were no longer enough.  We had small stacks of records on the floor leaning against the shelves as there was no more room.
There used to be room, but over the years, that shelf space shrank.  To prevent records from being squished, an annex to the shelves was made.

As you can see, to the left there was a bit of space for the shelves to stretch out.

Now the shelf annex is done and the records are off the floor.  Look!  There's space!
This means that there doesn't have to be a lull in the acquisition of more records.  Not that there ever was.

Yesterday we found ourselves in Stirling dropping Polly off to have her knee fixed.  After saying goodbye to our dog we trundled to the centre of town and Europa Music.
The front of the store looks like every music store that I've been to before. In addition to CDs there are Beatles mugs, band t-shirts, bongs, etc.  The USP that draws my husband is the back room.
This back room is not the place to go if you are hunting for a specific album.  It is a place to flick through stacks and stacks of cool but unsorted records to find one that you don't have and have always wanted.

Here are a few action shots.

The 45s under one of the tables - Notice there is somebody's old 45s carrying case that was exclusively for Status Quo singles.
Over in the back is the World Music...stretch!
He has a recurring dream in which he is in a record store just like this.  A bit of a jumble and there are boxes of records that are undiscovered gems.
In this dream,  The Man of the Place gets a dusty box down and discovers a single with a picture sleeve.  It is REM doing a cover version of The Crusher by The Cramps.  At this point he is woken and the thrill of discovery swiftly changes to sadness.  It was all a dream and REM never did a cover of The Crusher. 

I asked if he liked having somebody in there with him.  This way he could have somebody with him when he finds a brilliant album "Look at this!  I used to have it, but the first wife kept it during the divorce." or if he preferred to be by himself.  

He thanked me for my sensitivity but this flipping through records activity is really best done alone.  

I took the three that had already been selected up through to the front of the shop.  I told the staff that these were for the vinyl junkie in the back room and that if or when he surfaced, I wouldn't be far away having my lunch.  It felt like record collector day care.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Good Insulation!

We had snow last night. This afternoon when coming back from work we were delighted to see so much snow still on the roof.

Having looked out the window this morning, we still have loads of snow up there.

This means - we have the right amount of insulation!

I love living here.  The few snowy days that we get remind me that we are very very fortunate! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Personal Uniform

When it comes to winter clothing, I have developed a uniform.  Long sleeved black turtle neck sweater and jeans.  I wear this almost every day.  If it is colder than normal, I will add an additional sweater.  If I'm going out, I put on some lipstick, put in earrings add a scarf and I'm good to go.

Last month, Henry asked if I wanted to go clothes shopping. Perhaps he was worried that I had been wearing the same thing for a bit.  I took pains to reassure him that I have more than one black turtle-neck sweater and wasn't wearing the same garment every day.  I'm actually okay for clothes.  I have plenty.  In fact, I have more than I need. Because I have decided on a regular winter wardrobe, there are a lot of winter clothes that may never see the light of day again.  They'll be going into the local charity shop drop box soon.

The summer wardrobe is much more colourful as I have not formulated an opinion on summer clothes yet.  Despite wearing black a lot in the winter, I adore colour. Wearing bright orange in the summer makes me happy even if it isn't flattering.

I never made a conscience decision to just wear black turtle-necks.  It just grew over time.  Now years on, I have four or five  (I think...I've never counted).  Knowing what I am going to wear every day, takes the guess work and trauma out of getting dressed.  If one gets dirty while cooking or if I slop something on my front, I just change into a clean one and keep going.

I realised last week that Steve Jobs also did this and delving deeper there are others/  It does just release you from so much of what the fashion industry throws at a person. Find what you like, get a bunch of them and just wear that.  If you like it and are convinced that it is a flattering garment then . . . . then nuts to everything else.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Birds Birds Birds

When I first started this blog many years ago, I wrote a list of the bird visitors to the place.

Here is the list for 2014

Chaffinch - most common and frequent visitor to the garden
female chaffinch

Blue tit
Coal tit
coal tit
Robin
Dunnock
Great Tit

Blackbird
Greenfinch
green finch

Goldfinch
Bullfinch
Pheasant
male pheasant

Siskin
male Siskin

Redpoll
House sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Tree sparrows

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Tree creeper
Nuthatch
Brambling
Wood warbler
Wood pigeon
Stock dove
Crow
Jackdaw
Buzzard
Swallow
Swift
Pied wagtail
Grey wagtail
Wren
Starling
Collared dove
Jay
Jay

Tawny owl
Barn owl
Heron
Barnacle goose
Curlew
Cuckoo 

trio of red sqirrels
 We also had visits from red squirrels.  I love them too!

 We've had an increase in the number of birds and an increase in the wildlife. We do miss the thrushes. The Mistle thrush and Song thrush have not been here in a bit and the lapwing that used to be in the field has not come back.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

New Baby - New Tree

In March and April of 2013, I became a grandmother to two exquisite children.  Lennox and Jack.  They are the delights of my life!  I adore being a grandmother.

When my daughters-in-law told me that they were expecting and that our family was going to grow, then and there I made a decision.  No advice!  I was going to trust them to raise their own children.

Even though my own children are grown, I still get advice on how to raise them.   I can't remember any unasked for advice being helpful.  This unsolicited advice also smelled of criticism.  So I am not going to go down that road.

If I don't give advice, I certainly will never criticize!  Laura and Medea are loving, smart and sensible mothers.  They are both amazing parents.  I am so thrilled that my grandchildren have such wonderful beginnings in life. If they want my input, they know they can ask.  In the meantime, I'm going to keep my damn mouth closed.

I feel my job as Nana is to provide support, encouragement, gifts and love.  The hard part is down to the parents.

When the boys were born, an apple tree was planted on their behalf in the garden.  It follows a tradition that began when George was tiny and we planted a walnut tree for him.  I planted two Bramley's Seedling apple trees in celebration of the safe arrival of the grandsons.   I already had a James Grieve and a Discovery apple tree.  Both of those varieties are pollinators for the Bramley.  The Bramley cooking apple needs two pollinators to grow fruit  So now, I've got the set.  See how it all works out?

Four apple trees is plenty for any private garden.  I've got two trees that grow eating apples and two trees that grow cooking apples.  We're set for apple trees.  Maybe one year, We'll have too many apples!   I also have a Victoria plum tree that is coming along slowly.  I bought it at the supermarket one year . . . It's still alive and fruiting so it can stay.

I also have a cherry tree.  It has been sickly and not right ever since we planted it almost 18 years ago.  We have never eaten a single damned cherry from this tree and every year, I say I am going to cut it down and plant something else.  That may happen now.   I need the room.  I have to plant another tree!  My eldest son and his wife are expecting child number two in June.  Yipee! More babies to love!

After getting rid of the blighted cherry tree, I will be prepare the ground for the next tree.