Sunday, May 21, 2023

Let's Do It Again!

 Yesterday, a small bird flew in through the open conservatory window. This afternoon, it was warm in there again--it gets quite warm fairly quickly and it won't be long before I have to keep the doors closed to keep the heat in there instead of where I am. For now, though, opening the window is enough to keep it pleasant, so around midday, I opened the window, but not as wide as I had it yesterday. This evening, the bird flew back in, sat at a window and chirped. I opened a different window; he flew at it and chirped, then doubled back to the other window. I tried to explain that his chosen window does not open. He gave up and flew at the open window, bumping into it on his way out and leaving a few tiny feathers behind him. I checked to make sure he wasn't on the ground dazed or hurt, but there was no sign of him. I guess I will have to just close the doors when it gets warm in there from now on. It's a shame, because it's a lovely space to sit and stitch, but when it's hot it's unusable. On the other hand, I can't have this bird flying in every day! 

The issue with the conservatory windows is that there is no deep window well. The walls here are very thick, with a foot or so on either side of the windows, so they can be opened and still not sticking out into the air. A bird would have to fly into the window well and under the window to get in. But the conservatory just juts out from the main dwelling and is elevated, so it's in the flight path. Plus, it's on the riverside and the birds like to hang out in a tree that hangs over the river. Maybe this is a young bird who is trying to get his bearings. In any case, while he is very cute, I hope this is his last indoor visit!

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Briefly, a Terrified Visitor

 We were sitting quietly this afternoon, each absorbed in the books we're reading and listening to the pitter-patter of the rain, when we heard a weird noise. I looked up and just caught sight of a wee bird zooming across the small conservatory. I had one of the two openable windows ajar and the little guy must've flown in through the available space--screens aren't really a thing here and windows come in all different configurations. These are tall and swing open from the bottom with hinges on top. Anyway, the bird was clearly terrified, chirping and flying at all the windows trying to get back out. 

Fortunately, I was able to get myself into the conservatory and close the doors behind me before he flew anywhere else in here--it would've been harder to get him out in that case. I was talking to him quietly as though he could understand me 😂 as I walked over to the open window and opened it out as far as I could. The bird flew at the other window that opens and perched there so I slowly walked around the table, expecting him to take off as I got closer. He waited there as I grabbed the handle, turned it, and tried to push the window open, but they tend to stick a bit and then he got scared again and started hopping to the other side. He sat on the edge of a plant that was on the shelf in front of the other open window, realized he could get out, and flew away, heading straight to the tree that hangs over the river, chirping all the time. I watched the leaves rustle and could see him moving around once or twice, but then things settled down. I closed both windows and went back to my book. All's well that ends well!

Friday, May 19, 2023

Yummy Sunflower Spread

 A while back I watched this video and knew I wanted to make the sunflower spread she demonstrates (after the crackers, which I might try sometime, too). Today was the day to try it for the first time and it won't be the last. It's delicious! I made it like she did with the same herbs and dried veg, and I will happily make it like that again, but I also want to try a version with cumin, coriander, garlic, and maybe jalapeno. I like more spice than Bill does, so I sprinkled some crushed red chilli flakes on mine when we had it spread on toast for lunch today. I also added some broccoli sprouts.
Tomorrow we'll probably add some cucumber, radish, and tomato. In addition to toast, this would also be excellent on crackers, rolls, in wraps, or as a dip for veggies. 

Here's the video (and here's the link if that doesn't work--there are subtitles available. I'm not vegan, although I did try it once and became ill with almost daily migraines. I do really like this channel, though because she has some really interesting ideas that are useful to me. Being very much an improv cook, I like to collect ideas to adapt for my own use.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Oh No!

 We walked by the charity shop this afternoon and I saw the signs in the window--they're closing. This is a bummer! I know others feel the same. They're not closing by choice and hope to find new premises. For the next week or two, they're still located in the small front room of a house on Main St. It's been for sale ever since we came here for the first time last summer and we later found out that the owner was letting them have the charity shop there rent-free, which was really nice. But now it seems like maybe someone bought the place (not sure) and they have to move.

We've bought a few useful things there, but mostly it was our local bookshop. They had an excellent selection of books, some the usual charity shop finds, but also lots of books that were not what we usually see. It was several months after we moved here that I finally walked out one day without a book. Before that I always found at least one whenever I went in. Now they're trying to get rid of stuff, so the books are even cheaper. We came home with 7 more over the last couple of days--one for Bill and six for me. This bunch included some old Penguin books.

I had never heard of the author/book on the right but I took it because it was a classic. It sounded like non-fiction and when I got home and looked it up I discovered that it is, so I'm very happy with that. I've read some Lessing, but not any of these short novels. I've read some of the Father Brown stories and listened to some dramatizations, but I'm thrilled to have the book. 

Now we hope the charity shop can find a new place to set up shop. In the meantime, we're in no danger of running out of reading material anytime soon. Or anytime within the next few years. 😉

Tuesday, May 16, 2023


 Now that it's not getting cold at night, I'm using the conservatory as a sort of greenhouse. I've got trays of micro-greens growing in there, along with some new succulents that I'm growing from parts of larger plants. I've moved our cacti in there, too. I re-potted a couple of them that had been sharing a pot for years, but which they outgrew. I wondered how they'd do, but there have been no ill effects. In fact, one of them is blooming again this year. It looks like it's wearing a little cap. I was looking at the blooms and they're kind of interesting the way there are little flowers within the flowers.
On the kitchen counter I have my sprouts sprouting. I'm a big fan of leaves and at this time of year I eat a lot of salads, so I'm happy to have the micro-greens and sprouts. I also use them instead of lettuce in wraps and on sandwiches. I have mustard, pea shoots, and cress growing in the conservatory, along with garlic chives. I have scallions growing on the kitchen windowsill. The sprouts are broccoli (on the left) and a mix of radish, fenugreek, Chinese cabbage, and some other things. I also grow alfalfa--it really takes off and has a neutral taste. I usually do three kinds at a time for a nice mix of flavours.
Since summer and I don't get on well, gardening isn't really my thing. But I do like plants and I love having fresh food that is delicious, extremely nutritious, and easy to grow in a small space, there to be picked and added to meals all year. Yum!

Monday, May 15, 2023

And Now For a Brief Intermission

 At the moment, we are enjoying a brief intermission from the daily concert we are treated to all day and every day. We've heard the tune before in other places we've lived, but never has the singer been this persistent and dedicated. After doing some googling and listening to various bird songs, we've decided that it's a Eurasian collared dove singing, 'hoo-HOO-hoo' all day long. 

Once or twice s/he has been singing away on a tree branch hanging over the river, but mostly the song comes from somewhere back there:
Other birds, of species unknown to us, sometimes join the chorus and sometimes take advantage of the dove song intermissions to have the airwaves all to themselves. Today we had some stereo sound, because instead of coming only from behind us, there was another dove singing to a slightly different beat coming from in front of us with the other birds singing backup. Maybe it's jazz, which always sounds to me like people playing whatever they feel like, whether it goes together or not.

In any case, our longest resident dove has been out there singing at 6 am (sometimes earlier) for weeks. When I get up 3 or more hours later, the same song is still being sung. Lunch is accompanied by the dove. Dinner, likewise. And for the after-dinner entertainment--you guessed it--dove song. For a few days it seemed like s/he was winding down and getting tired, only singing for a couple hours each day, but today s/he is starting a new week off with renewed enthusiasm and energy and has been singing all day. It seems so quiet when the singing stops.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Blue Machine How the Ocean Shapes Our World by Helen Czerski

 Blue Machine: How the Ocean Shapes Our World
by Helen Czerski
Published by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Torva
ISBN 9781911709107

In this fascinating, informative, utterly readable and extremely enjoyable book, Helen Czerski takes us on an exploration of the oceans--the 'blue machine' that we rely on to live, whether we know it or not. Czerski takes a holistic approach. She is interested in the science of the oceans--how they work, the lives of the creatures who live there, the geography and plant life of the oceans and more. That's not all, though--she also investigates how the oceans impact humans, even those living far away. Oceans have shaped history, human cultures, lifestyles, and our habitat and they continue to do so. She states, " The patterns that influence civilizations--weather, resources, culture--are often a consequence of the patterns that the ocean engine generates." (p 45) 

In the book, Czerski does a fabulous job of tying all these strands together in a well-written narrative. In each chapter, she writes a bit about her own Scientific fieldwork experiences relevant to the topic at hand. She provides data, but in a very accessible way--you don't need to have a science background to read, enjoy, and benefit from this book. She talks to specialists in specific areas of study and she tells stories based on the research, which is an excellent way to connect with readers. I experienced several 'wow' moments as I was reading and more than once, I stopped to read passages aloud to my husband. 

This is the second book by Helen Czerski that I've read and both were excellent. I will not hesitate to read any of her future work--I highly recommend this author.

I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for a review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

This Ragged Grace by Octavia Bright

 This Ragged Grace by Octavia Bright
ISBN 9781838857462
Published June 1, 2023 by Canongate

Octavia Bright was trying to run away. She was trying to run away from herself. She had various strategies for doing this. She drifted into graduate school in order to run away from making big decisions about which direction to take. And she drank--she drank a lot. While drunk, she engaged in behaviour that was embarrassing at best and nearly fatal at worst--and that's the stuff she could remember. At some point, she realised she needed help and availed of the medical and mental health services available at her university and started on a journey towards herself via recovery. It was often painful and scary, but she took solace in words, her research into the art of Louise Bourgeois and others, her reading of philosophy and spiritual ideas, all of which she shares with the reader. She felt drawn to the sea and spent time there, aiding in her recovery. She was learning a new way of being in the world, but also in her own skin.

About two years into this journey, some odd behaviours of her father, with whom she was very close, were explained when he was diagnosed with dementia. As she learned how to accept and discover the changes in and relationship with herself, she also had to learn to navigate the same with her father. 

This memoir covers seven years in the author's life. During these seven years, her world turned upside down in many ways and by the end of this time, everyone's world had turned upside down as COVID raced around the world. It's a beautiful book and although it might not seem like it on the surface, an uplifting one as well. We all go through really terrible times in our lives and we have to learn how to accept what is, draw on our strengths, and move through them, finding inspiration and courage from wherever we can. Her descriptions of her life while drunk were sometimes harrowing, and her father's slow decline was heartbreaking, but her discovery of inner resources and strengths that she did not know she had was powerful and beautifully communicated. I would definitely read more by this author.

I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for a review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Attention Grabbers and Quietly Beautiful

 We spent the day with a dear friend today. When we were walking to meet him, I was enjoying the sight of many beautiful flowers, but these really took my breath away.
Bill commented that these look like fabric--I agree--there were some red and yellow ones, too, but these grabbed my attention--love the colour

There was no missing these in a sidewalk planter--could see them from a distance

Before we left, the postman delivered a book I'd been eagerly awaiting and when I opened the package, I was immediately smitten with the cover art, which is called Lotus Flower from Pond and is a brush painting in the Gongbi style by Yue Juan. There is a Buddhist saying which I love and remind myself of often--no mud, no lotus. I think this painting is absolutely gorgeous.
I read the preface before we left and brought the book with me thinking I might read the introduction on the bus, but I didn't. I'm pretty tired now so won't start it tonight, either. Something to look forward to!

It was a nice day and very productive. I hope the same is true for you!