Thursday, 26 February 2015

Winter Treats

As a sort of compensation for this bitterly cold winter, one should be extra liberal with the treats. And what could be more appropriate than popcorn made over the wood stove's embers and a good ol' cup of hot chocolate made from cocoa and of course local honey. (Can't get any more local than the bee hives in one's backyard.)

A sweet hot chocolate drink made with cocoa and honey.

When the firewood burns down to coals, out comes the old popcorn shaker.

Popped to perfection, the old fashioned way.

Ringo enjoys his daily bird seed treats while I'm treated to his exotic colours.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Willis Undergoes Surgery

Willis has a lovely and familiar voice that I've had the pleasure of listening to since I was a child. But in recent years, that voice has developed a handicap and now this old friend is in need of surgery.

Willis is an upright piano, manufactured by Willis & Co. Limited of Montreal and bought by my parents in 1929. In those pre-television days, parlor pianos were major hubs of entertainment and my family's piano was no exception. It kept a merry beat accompanied by violins and guitars. Music reigned! Then, years and decades glided past and Mom became elderly and passed away. Working lives away from home and other claims on our time left poor Willis neglected and all but forgotten. Moths, or some similarly destructive insect beasties (whose presence in the house I was totally unaware of) had munched their greedy way through much of the felts. All 88 hammer butt felts were consumed down to the glue. Each played note still held it's concert pitch but was accompanied by an unattractive 'click' as it's returning hammer came to rest on bare wood instead of a felt cushion.

So I've undertaken 'in-house' repairs. The action assembly rests on a surgical/kitchen table. Luckily for me, there is a piano parts dealer,, that not only ships the parts but also provides excellent videos on how to install them. And what better way to spend the remainder of this cold winter than to help an old friend regain his voice? 
The patient being disassembled for surgery.

Manufacturer's decal on the hammer rail.

There will be no meals taken on this table for awhile.

Hammer and jack removed for repair.

All thirty-eight treble dampers will receive new felts.

Eighty-eight keys. Two pin holes per key. Two bushings per hole. Very labour intensive.

Might as well replace the damaged ivory tops with new plastic replicas.

The insect damage inspires future use of moth ball packets. 

One hammer restored. Only eighty-seven more to go!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Fur Coat Weather

The past few days here are very cold and very dry. Harsh winds are making them seem even more severe. I don't own a fur coat but can appreciate how important they are to those who do.

On this very cold morning Reddy tucks her nose into her furry chest.

So many chores. Should I venture out?

Absolutely! My territory won't patrol itself!

Another of my real estate holdings.

Meanwhile, the feathered-set fuel themselves with cracked corn.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Daylight Exposure

At dawn this morning I saw the familiar silhouette of an Eastern Screech-owl on the perch of my north facing roost box. This is on the south side of my house and in a tree only about twenty feet from my window. As the sun rose, I expected the quite nocturnal little owl to dive for the inner privacy of the box. But it did not. Unusually, it stayed on the perch until the sun had completely risen, allowing my camera to capture him/her.

Dawn reveals a screech owl perched at my north facing roost box.

It is staying up past bedtime to watch little birds come to their feeders.

Watching raucous flocks of crows flying overhead.

We are having a stare contest. I hope mine was friendlier.

Little birds are getting pesky. Time to retreat to the inner sanctum.

Peace at last!

Eventually, my smaller backyard birds became just too much of a scolding nuisance so the pint sized but fierce hunter, which somewhat resembles a tabby kitten, retreated to the inside of the roost box for the day. Thanks for the photo op, little chum!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Pantry Surprise

This morning I watched as my backyard's red squirrel gingerly approached the entrance of an owl box she has been using as her pantry. Her body language told me she was not angry as was the case when a gray squirrel burgled her larder but rather she exhibited considerable trepidation. So I used my binoculars and sure enough, I recognized the familiar pattern of bars and spots on gray feathers that is a perfect mimic of tree bark. My Eastern Screech-owl was in the box. And no wonder it chose this rather cramped box instead of my other empty one. This one's entrance is leeward to today's strong and frigid northeast wind.

Yesterday Reddy checked her pantry and found nothing amiss.

Today her pantry is definitely off limits.

An Eastern screech owl enjoys the comforts of Reddy's pantry.

So thoughtful of Reddy to provide both bed and bedding.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Groundhog Day

Today, February 2nd, is known in these northern parts as Groundhog Day. Folklore states that if, on this day, a groundhog emerges from it's burrow to encounter sunshine, it will be frightened by it's own shadow and retreat back into it's den. This will indicate six more weeks of winter. But if the day is cloudy, no shadow will be cast and therefore the animal will not be alarmed and spring will come early.

Well, today is definitely cloudy. In fact we are having quite a cold, windy and stormy day. Any sane groundhog wouldn't even dream of venturing out in the first place. Hurray, it's an early spring for us! Maybe. We live in hope.