Feeding the Birds in My Yard

While ago I stopped and stood very still, wet paint brush in hand, and watched three different and really cool birds at my feeders all at the same time. (I was close to a window in my studio, and the feeder is close to the house.) There was a goldfinch, a house finch and a warbler that I’m still trying to identify. I’ve seen three different kinds of warblers on the feeder today. They are eating bread crumbs and eating off of a block of stuff that I mixed up and put in the suet cage. They are also eating black oil sunflower seed. Sometimes I just need my very experienced friend to help me with these warblers. If they are not distinctive like the hooded warbler or the black-and-white warbler, I have to grab a book or two and read a lot.

The buff-bellied hummingbird came back this year! He showed up the last week of October. We assume it’s the same bird? He’s not banded or anything, so we can’t be positive, but he’s a welcome guest, that’s for sure. I think my husband wishes he would bring a friend; he said this bird is keeping our place a secret.

There are also blue jays, chickadees, titmice and sparrows out gathering groceries from my feeders today. A few years ago we rigged up a feeder system with PVC pipes, a toilet flange, and a piece of plywood about 12″x12″. We got the idea from my parents (who live down the street and share birds with us). It’s pretty easy to do. Use a  four-inch PVC pipe for the main post, drill holes through it to fit 2 pieces of one-inch PVC pipe crossways, one just above the other near the top, put a toilet flange on a square piece of plywood and set that on top. The flange fits into the top of the four-inch pipe. You will also need to drill a hole through the one-inch pipes near the ends. You can bend some wire into a hook shape and put it through the holes. This gives places to hang four different kinds of feeders or a combination of feeders and bird baths, plus a platform feeder. I found that the humming birds are too scared of all the other birds to be able to eat if I have their feeder on this contraption, so I put it several feet away by the kitchen window.

Here’s what I mix for the suet feeder in case you’d like to try this. You can also use this to make cup cakes for the birds.

One cup of lard

Two cups of chunky peanut butter

Five cups of cornmeal

Melt the lard and peanut butter together in a skillet over medium heat. When it’s melted, pour it into a mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and stir.

And when it comes to the dry stuff, I improvise from all the recipes I’ve seen. I put at least 5 cups of cornmeal, a handful, or maybe a little more, of whole wheat flour (doesn’t have to be whole wheat), a couple handfuls of quick cooking oatmeal, cut up raisins and/or cranberries. Sometimes I add a handful or so of mixed bird seed. I like a thick consistency and when I followed the recipe with only the first three ingredients, (and a few raisins – I can’t leave anything like I find it) they didn’t seem to like it as much. How do I know that? They didn’t swarm it like they usually do.

This recipe will make four squares for the cage or 14 cup cakes. To make the blocks, put the mixture in a 9 inch square pan. Refrigerate till it’s firm, then cut it into four squares. I freeze the extras. To make cup cakes, put the mixture in the liners in cup cake pans and put it in the fridge til it’s firm.

Don’t be afraid to try mixing your own suet. You can’t mess it up and even the one they didn’t swarm was more popular than the one from the store. I’ve had those hang there till they molded. They like homemade from scratch, so go for it.

Well, I guess I better get back to stuff I was doing. I just had to stop and tell you about the birds. You know…one of those warblers – the one with the soft wing bars – may be a pine warbler. They come to feeders in the winter and my book (Peterson Field Guides, Warblers) says they like bread crumbs, suet and sunflower seeds.

PCP Parkway

There is a street that I drive down to go almost anywhere when I leave my house. It’s four lanes wide and at least 40 mph of nuttiness. I call it PCP Parkway, and I’ve seen some crazy things on this street.

Last week we pulled up to a stop light and I wondered why the truck in front of me was so far back from the light? We were in the right lane and he was about four car lengths from the intersection, with only one car in front of him. There were three cars in the left lane.  When the light changed I noticed that the front wheels on the third car in the left lane were turned to the right like he was going to change lanes. He didn’t. He weaved into the right lane, then went back to the left, then back to the right as the car in front of him did the same stupid trick, except his timing was the opposite. I guess they think that makes them cool.  All three of these cars were staying really close to each other. I knew then why the fellow in front of me hung back. No one in either lane wanted to get near these nuts. When they came to a shopping center they all three turned into it.

That reminded me of the day I saw two cars come off a side street onto this street. I watched as one got on one side of the street and the other got on the other side, both going in the same direction. They began to do the weaving trick from one side of the street to the other, across four lanes, missing cars that were coming toward them. I was going in the same direction and I sure kept my distance.

Of course, I’ve seen a race or two. And it’s not all gangsters, or gangster wannabes who do the crazy things. Impatience will destroy a car. My youngest son and I were coming home from the grocery store one day. There were several cars and a van traveling in the opposite direction from us, and a Viper in back kept changing lanes trying to get around the slower ones. The car in the right lane was turning right and the impatient Viper driver gunned it when he went around them. What he couldn’t see was a van in the left lane that had stopped to turn left. Just when everyone was about to clear out and he wouldn’t have had any slow drivers in front of him, he crashed into the back of the van. The impact shoved the van forward and we could see what happened to the car. The hood of that Viper popped open and we watched parts fly out. It really did look like it came apart in slow mo. There were two people in the van. (One had a broken tooth and the other broke a finger.) My son was sickened by what we saw. He said, “That guy just destroyed that car! How come God gave that guy a Viper? He destroyed it! If God gave me a Viper, I’d take care of it; I wouldn’t tear it up!” (He was about 19 years old and still getting used the fact that life isn’t fair by our standards.) The Viper driver was dressed in his office work clothes – looked like he had been to lunch at the Country Club. Some of his friends who passed by saw the mess and stopped to check on him.

There are several houses on PCP Parkway that have fenced yards and fences get knocked down regularly. Some of them even have metal posts in the ground to stop wayward drivers from tearing down the fence, but it’s not always effective. They can knock those posts down, too.

Back in January of this year, a car with three people in it hit the curb and ran through a chain link fence in one yard and then took down a wooden fence in the next yard. There was a man who was walking on the side of the road and they also ran over him and killed him. There were two people in the front seat who both ran away. The guy in the back seat crawled out a window and said he didn’t know who had been driving. He had been drinking and smoking PCP. The car was reported stolen.

Any time I think about going someplace just for the fun of it, I think about having to drive down this stupid street that I call PCP Parkway.

Something We Ought to All Agree On

I like to get my news from a variety of sources. I don’t want to be anyone’s malleable mushy little mouth with no brain. So – I check out the liberal and the conservative. And in the process, I notice that even though we have different views – I never completely agree with either one – I do find that I can stand right next to either one in solid agreement on some things. I wonder if Naomi Wolf – who I admire for her intellect and courage, and Gordon Robertson – who I love as a brother in Christ – were to sit down and have a conversation about WikiLeaks…well, would they agree on anything?

Naomi Wolf said the court determined during the trial of Daniel Ellsburg that it’s not illegal to print classified material. He gave something called the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times back in 1971, and the government freaked out. It all had to do with Vietnam and how congress had been lied to and of course, the public had been lied to as well. The court said the person or persons who print the material have not broken any laws. The one in trouble would be the one who stole the classified material – not the one who received and published it. The court said the benefit to the public was greater than the risk to the government.

Gordon Robertson said (700 Club, 12/10/2010) the State Department has been rumored to be behind the companies (PayPal, Amazon, MasterCard, Visa) not doing business with WikiLeaks and if they are, it might be because they know a court case would be risky for them. They stand a good chance of losing because of the precedent set in the Daniel Ellsberg case. If they can shut off funding to WikiLeaks, they can shut down WikiLeaks without a trial, which besides they would probably lose, would be very complicated since Julian Assange is not a US citizen. Besides all this, Gordon Robertson pointed out that whether the decision to not do business with WikiLeaks comes from the government, or from the companies, it’s all being done without a trial and only because the government – or whoever – doesn’t like Julian Assange’s ideas.

I think a conversation between them would show agreement on one thing for sure. Both Naomi Wolf and Gordon Robertson have said that this is how societies shut down. They control the sharing of ideas and information. On this, they agree. Gordon went on to talk about how the cash flow, which is all electronic and not actually cash, is cut off. This is a way of controlling who can buy and sell based on a person’s ideas and beliefs. If you are familiar with his interpretation of Revelation, you can see where he is going with this.

If you have been upset with Julian Assange, I think your outrage is misplaced. The one who broke the law is the one who gave the information out. (And how on earth did a Private (!) get this stuff? Is he somebody’s fall guy? If the private who is accused did this, did he have enough brains to know what he was doing?) The ones we ought to be really upset with are those in the government who hide things from us that they don’t want us to know because they shouldn’t be doing those things. Like we have been secretly bombing Yemen. Like our State Department seems to have helped in a cover up of some disgusting activity that one of our contractors was involved in over in Afghanistan. And then there are the juicy little comments some of our diplomats made about world leaders. Haven’t people learned that if you don’t want it to be repeated, you don’t put it in print in any way, shape or form? Apparently not.

Well, it seems to me that liberals and conservatives ought to be in agreement here. (I wouldn’t expect this of the neo ones of either view in government or newstainment – that would jeopardize their power. I’m talking about you and me – regular everyday US citizens.) To restrain someone in any way because you don’t like what they have said or thought is a very dangerous road to travel. Naomi Wolf and Gordon Robertson can agree on that. And I agree with both of them. Can you?