Peanut Butter And…

…syrup. Not again?

On the plus side, I used up only two pounds of red currants — one bagful — and eight bags remain in the deep-freeze.

Took me three days this year to pick the darlings. The bushes love my backyard and progenize their little heads off, and since these currants aren’t native, the birds don’t eat them. So I pick them. And pick them. And pick them.

The few times I’ve tried making jelly, I got syrup instead. So today I found myself lamenting, “Three times a bridesmaid” more than once. Obviously that’s nonsense, I can always try again.

And again. And again. And again. And…

But I have faith that one of these days I will be SOOO proud of myself! That marvelous day, I will have eight lovely jars of jewel-like jelly to give away to all my friends.

Because by that time, I’ll be so sick of red currants I won’t eat a bite.

Ina’s jelly bag hung over the ceramic pour-spout bowl Angela gave us for our wedding attached to my applesauce-sieve framework by kitchen pins Gillian gave me for Christmas. It’s a community thing. Photo by me on my iNonPhone.

Then Beauty Comes

In February of 1880, writer and wallpaper designer William Morris gave a lecture to the Birmingham Society of Arts and School of Design. He gave the crowd assembled there a perfectly worded piece of excellent advice:

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Many of our possessions are either beautiful or useful. Our dogs are beautiful. Our sports bras are useful.

Some things are both useful and beautiful. Now that I’ve painted them peach, our formerly green, truly useful livingroom walls are also a joy to look at.

And then there are things that are firmly in the useful category, until suddenly beauty comes to them, if only momentarily. Our green plastic garbage can with the black plastic lid migrates from the garage to our back porch every winter. Last March its lid was swathed in floral swirls of frost, and I snapped a picture before they melted.

Keep your eyes and mind open. Hallow the moments.

A Shelter For Theo

Theo Freeze, despite having only one hand, loved the outdoors.

You could find him hanging on a corner at any time of the day, always happy just to chill out and discuss the weather with you. “Cold, eh?” was his trademark greeting.

The secret to Theo’s confidence was his partner and sole supporter, Al Luminum. Theo knew that Al would always be around, no matter what.

But one tragic winter, Al lost it. Always a yielding personality, Al got increasingly bent out of shape, and then lost his grip altogether.

Suddenly, Theo was homeless. He spent weeks face-down in mourning, oblivious to all the acquaintances he had made over the years.

One of those friends, fortunately, was housebuilder Woody Ply. Woody contacted roofer Sid R Shake, and the pair got in touch with Jay Bee of Habitat for Thermomity. Plans were drawn up. Materials materialized.

Now Theo is back on his corner. Though still missing Al, who never recovered from his metal breakdown and left no forwarding address, Theo has a renewed faith in the kindness of others.

And he’s once again eager to discuss the weather.

Yard Birds

Journal entries.

November 17, 2018. 05:57. 20cm of snow showed up unbidden yesterday, yuck. But — ! Chickadees, White-throated Sparrows, Nuthatches, Pigeons, Mourning Doves, Cardinals, Goldfinches — and an Evening Grosbeak! It sat quietly in the maple above the feeder, watching the other birds, and then flew off. I didn’t even know what it was, but was able to identify it by its bright yellow bill, and its colours as it flew past the upstairs window where I stood enjoying the scene.

November 18. 06:32. A Fox Sparrow at the bird feeder yesterday! And a pair of crows. 11:30. And a Junco today.

November 21. 06:03. So, my list of bird-feeder visitors: 1. Chickadees. 2. Red-breasted Nuthatches. 3. Goldfinches. 4. Purple Finches. 5. White-throated Sparrows. These can all fit through the bars of the feeder, although the White-throats are just as happy on the ground.

6. Juncos. 7. Pigeons. 8. Mourning Doves. 9. Fox Sparrows. 10. Cardinals. 11. Crows. These ones all eat on the ground. 12. An Evening Grosbeak. Dunno if it ate anything before I saw it.

13:00. 13. An American Tree Sparrow. The white wing bar is visible from the upstairs window without binoculars. It moves quickly over the ground and is smaller than the White-throats, who in turn are smaller than the Fox Sparrows.

November 22. 12:24. 14. House Finch! Pink on forehead, bib, and bottom, otherwise sparrow-coloured.

January 10, 2019. 05:15. 15. A Pine Siskin, my first ever, at the feeder yesterday! A bundle of streaks with Goldfinch-like wing bars and a notched tail. It wouldn’t sit still, one moment on the tray, the next clinging to the cylinder, eating, eating, eating seed after seed. When I looked up information later, I learned that Pine Siskins can stuff a tenth of their body weight into their crop to nibble on during the night; so it wasn’t eating, it was just grocery shopping when I saw it.