Robbie Goes Missing…

Tuesday morning and no Robbie. Where was the little guy? There are so many dangers for a wayward robin. Could he have found another robin and stayed with her for company? That was a best case scenario and then the resident pessimist thought for too long and decided it was likely Robbie had flown into a window, by mistake. Gary was able to create some gory images for me. Robbie lying in the snow with his little neck at an impossible angle. blood oozing from his brave beak. It’s surprising how attached we were to the tough winter robin.

Robbie didn’t show Tuesday but yesterday he was back, staring through the window at us as though to say, “Where’s my breakfast?” We were quick to feed him but had to use mostly earthworms. Our Robbie is a bit of a gourmet and prefers meal worms. He ate the earthworms but not with the same relish he gobbles down the more palatable fare. Gary got him fresh meal worms yesterday and today is going to see if we can get him King worms. They’re much like the meal worms but come with more to a container. Fingers crossed Robbie will like them.

I was interrupted partway through this post by Robbie’s arrival. He sat in the mountain ash tree for a bit and then when he moved to the ornamental plum, I knew it was time. The new meal worms are strong and they squirmed in my hand straight from the fridge. How many should Robbie get? He’s been in the cold all night so I dole out 9. Before I can get back into the house he has wolfed them down and left.

Robbie’s new routine, now that he’s stronger, seems to be to drop in for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Then he flies off to do more interesting Robin stuff. I don’t mind. I’m glad he’s no longer missing and hope to see him about noon. He’s a lovable diversion in a prairie winter.

Robin? In winter?

It’s -34 or -35 today without considering wind chill. The sun is bright but it’s cold and in our front yard, there’s a robin, in winter, in Alberta. The poor little guy pecked a bit from an ornamental plum, frozen and desiccated, the only available food. Whether it’s climate change or an odd anomaly, he won’t survive without help. Robins like protein- bugs, grubs and more bugs.

We’ve fed wayward robins before. They like hamburger mixed with a little fruit and one winter Robbie and my husband, Gary, became good friends. He’d come to Gary’s whistle and was fairly tame. A female (who was more cautious) also took advantage of the food we’d set out, too.

This new outlier has just eaten 7 meal worms. Who has meal worms on hand, in case of robin emergencies? An ice fisherman. Meal worms last a very long time before pupating when they are kept in refrigeration. Yes, my downstairs beer fridge has harboured various types of legal, live bait. Gary had almost forgotten the meal worms but they were there and alive.

The robin looked at the apple and tiny bits of raw chicken I set out in the sun on my cutting board. He was interested (as were the sparrows) but too suspicious of something new to come down and investigate. Then Gary set out the meal worms that wiggled, catching the robin’s eye. Down he came and you can see him in the picture after eating the first three worms. Gary got four more and they disappeared in very short order. Mr. Robin sat on the cutting board in the sun, full and hopefully warming up.

The real test is later and then tonight. Meal worms will have been a huge change to whatever he’s been eating. We have fingers crossed that the switch isn’t too much of a shock to his digestive system. Even in this short time, we’re kind of attached to Robbie 2.0 and if he survives, we know where to get him live worms.

Hang in there, Alberta Robin. We’ll help you through winter and the temperatures in the minus thirties.

It’s cold…old time cold

here on the prairies and this week it’s set to get even colder. It’ll be like an old-time winter where your eyelashes, nose hairs, and then nostrils freeze together. It is nasty cold and there’s a wind chill to boot. I hope that the pine beetles can’t stand it.

I have been whining but then I remembered. Australia is on fire and people there have been killed, had to leave their homes, and have seen their countryside destroyed. Animals have fared even worse and though there are well meant attempts to save them, the majority have perished. Indonesia is flooding and people have been driven from their homes, lost everything, and died. In the Philippines, the Taal volcano is threatening with furious lightning in its towering ash column. Within hours or days, there will be a major eruption; people have been evacuated, the sky is full of ash, and there may be a tsunami. Manila’s airport has been shut down until it is safer.

In the United State, tornados, snow, sleet, and freezing rain have all been part of a nasty storm. Eleven people have lost their lives.

These are just the major on-going “natural” disasters and they make a system of cold Arctic air seem tame. This morning, it was -37 C or colder, depending on the source of the information. It is cold but we are lucky enough that with some caution, it isn’t life threatening.

Kudos to the workers who keep things more or less normal for the rest of us. The police, the electrical workers, the first responders, the firefighters, the oil and gas workers, the farmers (their livestock need more care than ever.) They make this stretch of real cold just an inconvenience.

By Monday, it’s warmer again. It has been just a week but it’s been a long one. I’m not whining, just observing…stay warm.

There Are Always Glitches.

I recently treated myself to a new iPad, planning to use it, I confess, for scrolling, for writing, and viewing cute dog videos. Because it was expensive, (Apple products are), I thought I would get it set up by a professional at an Apple Store.

When I approached the technician, I made the mistake of saying I had purchased the iPad from Best Buy.

“O,” he said. “We don’t do that for products not purchased at an Apple Store.”

My first impulse was to “go off” on him but then I realized he was busy and an employee at the bottom of the food chain who didn’t make policies.

Instead, I said, ‘What??!! I’m going to phone Steve Jobs…”

“On her ouija board,” interrupted my son who was with me.

With his help and my own iPhone, setting the new device up was easy, although it did involve a little of the obsessive-compulsive, on my part.

My daughter gave me the keyboard I requested for Christmas. Today I wanted to send the Pages document I had written to my PC to print. The old version of the word processing program used to convert the document to Word, no issues. (I should mention I’m cheap and didn’t buy a wifi enabled printer.) Not so, the new Pages.

Particular frustration ensued when the pop-up message announcing the end of support for my Word 2010 in October 2020. Now I will have to buy an subscription (to the tune of $79 annually) if I want to used Word. Gah. I have a lot of my “treasured” writing in Word so I have to open the mothy wallet.

I’m waiting to see what other “surprises” are in store. I do like the iPad and I like Word. I just didn’t expect to do things myself or to buy Office 365. It’s a new Year.

After Midnight

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I get up, pour a small glass of milk and sit in the chair by the front room window. It gives me a fine view of the street, the flashing lights at the railway crossing and occasionally, a vehicle heading home. I like to imagine they’ve been somewhere having fun. On rare nights, I even see a pedestrian, head down, and hurrying home, away from the dark.

Last night, I went to bed as usual and as can happen, I tossed and turned for an hour before getting up. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that glass of wine, or the After Eight mints, or the butter tart and it’s likely the baked beans for supper weren’t the best choice. I got my milk and went to stare out at the night. Nothing stirred. People must have been tired from Christmas festivities or stresses. Not even a train showed up.

Then, the best surprise. The prairie hare, aka a jackrabbit, hopped across the street and onto the lawn. We’d seen his tracks earlier but here he was, in the flesh. It was too dark for me to attempt a picture, but he was startling white except for his ears and despite his earlier visits was skittish. I don’t think he could see me sitting, looking out at him, but several times he stared in my direction. He stopped under the ornamental plum tree we planted in memory of my mum. Perhaps some of the plums were a snack, although I didn’t see him eat and soon he moved over to sit in the shelter of an old mogul pine. He, too, sat and peered into the night. After a few minutes, he hopped across the snow and onto the street where he sat and sniffed the car tracks. Headlights from the avenue frightened him and he bounded away. The last I saw of him was his tail as he disappeared under trees across the street.

Insomnia, even mild insomnia, is an annoyance. No one enjoys tossing and turning as sleep evades them even when they’re tired. Last night, though, I almost enjoyed it. If I had been snoring snugly in my bed, I’d never have seen my visiting hare. Tonight- no wine and no snacks. Who knows what I’ll miss?

"tis the Season of Giving…

but what to give? The perennial problem. This year I broke it to my adult kids that once again, there would be no new car, no mortgage paid in full, and no yacht. I just want to get them a concrete expression of what they mean to me.

It’s no different for friends EXCEPT that the budget restraint is even greater. I guess I’ll have to find efficiencies. I want something that expresses how I appreciate their support and friendship.

Google knows everything, right? So I thought I’d look for inexpensive, thoughtful gift suggestions for women. What is the first suggestion? An Instapot. Who are they kidding? That’s not a gift. It might be something that makes meal preparation a little easier. You know what makes it really easy? A gift card to a restaurant. I didn’t go much farther on the list before I came to an Airfryer. Really? I hoped we’d advanced past the little woman in the 50s who looked great, cooked great, and was plain great for her man. Ugh.

Tasteful red for the Holiday giving.

Google stuff for men? Guess what socks and shorts aren’t on the list. Fun stuff is. Collectibles for movie and gaming fans. A Water-proof Build a Fire Kit for the outdoorsmen. I didn’t notice hedge clippers or snow shovels as likely to be popular. Before I sound misandristic, I like most men but for gift sugestions, they come out ahead.

I wasn’t kiddiing about the Fire Building Kit

So what will my friends get as tokens of my appreciation? I’m not sure. I guess I’ll need to get a little creative and hope that they feel a little of the value I place on our relationship. O, and laughs. I’ll try to provide more laughs.

May your Christmas Season be one of joy.

Remembrance Day, 2019

When my mother died, I inherited her pictures and other treasures. Yesterday as I was reorganizing some of her things, I took a closer look at the pamphlet The Battle of Britain. Its subtitle is An Air Ministry Account of the Great Days from 8th August -31st October 1940. Inside the front page is a quote from Prime Minister Winston Churchill which includes the famous line, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

The Battle of Britain included four phases, The Beginning, Attack on Inland Aerodromes, London vs. Goring, and finally Luftwaffe in Retreat. My mother’s experience was in the third stage. By this time, she had moved to live with her sister in the greater London area. They didn’t move into shelters during raids, but had been provided with a table-like bit of ‘furniture’ that could be unfolded to hide under. I very much doubt there was much protection.

Overhead, sometimes more than six miles up, the battle raged. It was so far up that ‘only a pattern of white vapour trails leisurely changing form and shape, traced by a number of tiny specks scintillating like diamonds in the splendid sunlight. From very far away there broke out from time to time a chatter against the duller sound of engines. Yet had not that chatter broken out, that remote sound would have changed first to a roar and then a fierce shriek, punctuated by the crash of heavy bombs, as bomber after bomber unloaded its cargo.”

The Battle of Britain was fought in the daytime skies, not by night. Escorted by Messerschmitt fighters, bombers by the hundred approached the English coastline. Defense depended on coastal watchers spotting the high flying groups of attackers. Once seen, squadrons of Spitfires scrambled to meet the hundreds of incoming bombers. Pilots were young and acted without fear. A single British pilot coming upon a German squadron would challenge and attack , no matter how outnumbered.

It was Hitler’s chance to win the war. Only Britain stood to stop the German war machine which had already overrun Poland, France, and countries in between. Goring could taste victory.

Yet, October 31st, the daytime bombing runs were abandoned. 2,375 German aircraft were known to have been destroyed in daylight. The Royal Air Force had prevailed against superior numbers and many attacks. The bombing continued but by night only.

I think the night raids were more frightening for Mum. They did hear the shrieks and the crash of bombs. At night there was no way for the feisty Spitfire squadrons to intercept the bombers.

Mum, after the Battle of Britain when Dad was in England on leave.

Dad enlisted in the Army the 15th of September, 1939. He served in North Africa and I believe that’s where he was during the Battle of Britain. Later he fought through Italy France and Belgium. I am not sure of the details or even broad outlines of his service. He didn’t talk about his war years although they had a profound influence on his life. I can’t help but remember how he sent a telegram to Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau during the FLQ crisis. Part of it, as I recall, was a offer to come and fight if necessary. “There are still some of us WW11 veterans around.”

Here he is in Italy. Mum’s handwriting identifies the ountry.

Dad was discharged from the Army on the 14th of September, 1945 in Calgary.

Mum and Dad were married July 11, 1945 and she became one of the estimated 48,000 Canadian war brides. They settled to farm back in Hope Valley, Alberta where Dad was from. I was born April 8, 1947.

Dad’s Statement of Service in the Canadian Armed Forces.