Helen of Marlowe's Blog

Spring Cleaning

Posted in "North Carolina", NC, Winston-Salem by helenofmarlowe on March 19, 2012

Spring is starting early this year, and I’m late with my spring chores. With the tutoring and advice of our friend Susan, I’m cleaning out our three bluebird houses.   This starts with getting over my reluctance to remove the abandoned nest — I kept putting it off for fear that the little wren families might return and find their homes demolished.  Susan assured me that once they have gone, they will not return.

One of our three bluebird houses

With my bent towards anthropomorphizing I objected – what a waste! Why build a new home every year when last year’s is still sitting pretty on a good foundation?   Susan would have none of that, and we moved on to the lessons about a mild soapy solution in a spray bottle.

So far, we’ve had only wrens in our bluebird houses.  I like wrens just fine and don’t want to run them off, but I’m hoping for bluebirds this year.

We have nesting red-tailed hawks in our woods, and I love to watch the crows and hawks in their daily power struggles.  Summer evenings, we hear the lovely flute-like songs of the wood thrush, and the tweeting and singing of the towhees.  Each summer the thrush reminds me of Robert Browning’s 

Home Thoughts, From Abroad

That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!

The fluting song of the wood thrush is, indeed, the musical sound that I look forward to every summer.  The towhee comes in a close second.

Towhee in the redbud tree in the front yard

We have lots of songbirds at our feeders.  So far this spring, it’s mostly chickadees and titmice.  I like to sit on the porch in the rocking chair with my camera and a book.  I scatter safflower seeds along the porch rail.  The birds have become so used to me over the years that they will come quite close.   When the birds come to the rail, I shoot ’em.   They used to be frightened off by the camera, fleeing when I lift it, but they don’t mind the camera any more.  And I never use a flash when shooting birds.  They are accustomed to seeing my husband and me  most evenings, each of us in our own favorite rocker, like Dagwood and Blondie, each with our books and drinks of choice.  The birds  don’t usually come after dark, but here’s a cardinal taking the safflower seeds that I’ve sprinkled along the rails, caught just lifting his wings.

Male cardinal taking safflower seeds from the rail

Being a woman who knows what’s important, Susan hasn’t spent a lot of time grappling with computers.  But she would like to create a blog for her upcoming road trip to the north, as she follows the  spring, and the bird migrations.  She’ll be writing her blog on her ipad.

Since Susan gives me lessons on how to live (though she doesn’t do it on purpose, and unless she reads this she won’t know that she does) I will give her simple lessons on how to make machines obey commands — remembering the important lesson that if your computer isn’t doing what you want it to do, it’s probably doing what you told it to do instead.  The lessons will be simple, because I don’t know very much, but the people who know more than I do are always incredibly generous with their time and knowledge, and it’s good to occasionally be able to give back.

This has been practice.    I have  trouble in wordpress getting pictures to line up as I want them to.  Getting the text to wrap.  Sometimes I’ll put a photo where I want it,  but then as I type, the type pushes the photo down the page.  Anchor, that’s what I want.   I must learn to anchor the photos.  And padding, to get more space around the photos.

I do occasionally figure all this out.  For example,  the blog I wrote last May when we had a pigeon on our roof. I did get several photos to stay put, but, like the photos that drift, the lessons I learn seldom stay put.  So I have to learn over again.  I once thought the Copy a Post tab would allow me to use the same format and just change the words.  She could simply take my Pigeon post, copy it, and change the words and pictures to her own.  Sounds good in theory, but in practice, when I click Copy a Post, it simply opens  a new edit screen.  We’ll work it out, and reading Susan’s blog will be a treat.

I hope this year we will get bluebirds.

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