Want to make some magic in the back yard? Try adding some water!

Our birds, ourselves

Wilor  Bluege writes: “Looking out at our small back yard on the 15th of September, I noticed a couple of robins pecking at hard ground that had not seen rain for several days. I thought: ‘Let’s help those robins out by turning on the sprinkler for a few minutes, to soften the ground and bring up some nice juicy worms!’

 

“I set up the oscillating fan-shaped sprinkler under the large Norway maple in the center of the yard. With every sweep of its spray, the lovely sound of water hitting leaves made music so beguiling that it wasn’t 15 seconds before we had not just robins, but about nine other species of birds bathing in the spray!

“A dozen or more cedar waxwings that had been feasting for several days on the berries of the mountain ash out front were attracted by the sound and landed en masse on the twigs and branches of the maple, luxuriating in the ‘shower’ that had just been provided! Then the chickadees came and sat on the rose bush to bathe; a couple of downy woodpeckers darted through the spray and sat on the tree trunk and a branch where the water could hit them. Two hummingbirds zipped repeatedly through the spray as the sprinkler oscillated back and forth! Several chipping sparrows showed up, choosing individual, small divots in the lawn where water had collected and formed ‘bathtubs’ that fitted perfectly their diminutive size. Goldfinches took a break from feasting on the coneflower seeds and Swiss chard to bathe in the cracks of the sidewalk where some water had collected. (By the way, it turns out that goldfinches love a little Swiss chard ‘salad’ with their seeds! Who knew? So plant chard if you like having goldfinches around.) House finches that had not been seen for quite some time suddenly appeared, plus white-throated sparrows, and, of course, the usual customers, the ‘English’ house sparrows. The robins appreciated our efforts and stuck around to snag drowning worms, which were coming up to breathe.

“The sights and sounds, twittering and obvious gaiety were completely astonishing! It was mind-boggling, beyond anything we had ever experienced, to see all these different species bathing and ‘showering’ in the small, 25-feet-by-30-feet space of our back yard! Rather than turning off the sprinkler in 15 minutes, as I’d initially planned, I let the thing run for a half-hour, when all parties seemed to have had enough of the ‘spa’ treatment and began to depart, back to the mountain ash, back to the coneflowers and chard and back to foraging under leaf litter. But the experience for us was a one-of-a-kind, totally magical event for 30 bright-shining minutes of late-afternoon sun! At the peak of the seemingly miraculous event, there must have been upwards of 100 birds, comprising 10 species, in and out of our sprinkler!

“Sometimes all you need to do is add water!”

Our birds, ourselves
Pileated Woodpecker Division

Retired Teacher of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “We have had feeders for years and have enjoyed a variety of small birds. This one showed up yesterday and was quite a surprise.”

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BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Surprise the bird, in return, by pronouncing its name correctly! It almost never happens. That PIE-lee-ay-ted.

The highfalutin amusements

Honey Bee of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: “Since the hub of The Honest Man‘s and Honey Bee‘s home office (namely, the counter with the microwave, and the junk drawer with all of the bills and associated paperwork right below it) was getting rather messy, I decided to clean it up in honor of the coming holiday season.

“Stashed in the ‘deal with it later’ pile were many sweet cards given to me this summer on the occasion of a big-number birthday. One particular card came from a former pastor and his wife, and I’d had a hard time tossing it out. I knew they’d spent good money on it, and when I opened it, the lovely, mellow voice of Louis Armstrong would sing to me a refrain from the song ‘What a Wonderful World.’

“But now it was time to quit hanging on to these dear reminders. Thus, I started tossing them into the recycling bin. Knowing that the ‘singing card’ was not all paper, I ripped off the ‘singing’ part and threw it into the regular trash bin. The regular kitchen trash bin is an actual bin that tips out of the cabinet, and, when kind of full/heavy, slams back into closed position.

“So imagine The Honest Man‘s surprise this morning when, while dumping out old coffee grinds, the trash bin started emitting Louis’s voice! It caught me by surprise as well when the song started later on, when I was discarding something. Open, slam shut, ‘. . . and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.’ How hilarious is that?!

“I’ve been looking for an opportunity to throw things in there all morning. And that little mechanism, now all slopped up, is still going strong. What a wonderful world, indeed!”

Then & Now
12/7/1941 & 12/7/2016 Division

December 8 email from The Daughter of the Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My mother, The Gram With a Thousand Rules, recently shared her childhood memory of my Grandpa Jake coming back into the house after hearing the radio news of the Pearl Harbor attack. She talked about looking at the globe to see how far away Hawaii was and worrying about when they would be bombed in Minnesota.

“How interesting that, one day, her youngest progeny would call that faraway island her home.

“It was a story I heard many times growing up, but it felt far in the past. I am not sure I fully comprehended the impact and how it must have felt until 9/11.

“After I moved to Oahu, over a decade ago, I came to realize how much the Pearl Harbor attack influenced and changed my island home. The events feel more recent in the island collective. Millions of tourists visit the U.S.S. Arizona memorial every year. When our keiki (kids) were young, they would go there on school field trips. Whenever family and friends visit from the mainland, we always make sure to bring them to those hallowed waters.

“I have included a painting I made several years ago of the view inside the memorial, looking up to the sky and our flag.

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“It captures how I feel every time I take the ferry across from the museum and set foot on the concrete memorial that embraces the remains of the sunken battleship, with so many young military men entombed inside her hull.

“Yesterday morning, the planes flew overhead at 7:55 a.m., the same time the first wave of 360 Japanese attack bombers came on that fateful December 7th. Every year, a group of fighters fly from the north shore (my family and I live in the middle of the island, along the fighters’ path) straight down to Pearl Harbor, then perform the missing-man formation. Neighbors and tourists all seem to stop what they are doing and watch. It hits me every single year.

“This year is even more meaningful than most, because it is the 75th anniversary. I attended a documentary movie premiere this past Sunday at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island. It was held in a hangar that still has bullet holes from the strafing planes. The ceremony was attended by four of the five surviving soldiers of Pearl Harbor. The oldest veteran was 104 years old and said it still feels like yesterday. We were able to greet them, to thank them for their service and for honoring those who were lost that infamous day.

“I have also included a photo of the Arizona memorial, taken from the ferry heading towards it.

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“Mahalo/Thank you.”

‘Tis the season! (responsorial)

Booklady:BB’s recipe for Mandarin Duet salad reminded me of the two traditional salads which accompanied festive meals in my youth. Alas, they have disappeared from family tables since the passing of my mother. It turns out I was probably the only one who liked them. Both came from the old Betty Crocker cookbook.

“The first was ‘Sunshine Salad,’ a tasty combination of lemon Jell-O, grated carrots and pineapple tidbits. I know there were additional ingredients, but since my cookbook currently resides in Hayward, an hour away (long story), I’ll have to guess at the rest of it. This concoction, according to my dad, was ‘Carrot Paring Salad.’ [Bulletin Board interrupts: Here’s “Grandma’s Sunshine Salad,” at http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/grandmas_sunshine_salad/.]

“The second was called, I believe, ‘Pacific Lime Mold.’ It, too was a Jell-O salad, with walnuts, cottage cheese, pineapple tidbits, Miracle Whip and a bit of horseradish tenderly mixed into lime Jell-O. [We found a recipe for Pacific Lime Mold in the blog called “Maybe We Shouldn’t Be Eating This: A blog about culinary trainwrecks and other curiosities.”] I loved it. My dad dubbed that one ‘Should I or Did I?’ It pretty much ruined the dish for the rest of the family.”

AlsoPollyanna: “Pleased to see the recipe for Jell-O & sherbet fruit salad/dessert in today’s Bulletin Board. My family has enjoyed it for about 30 years, but we didn’t know it had a name.

“WARNING: Do not attempt with lime Jell-O and whole-berry canned cranberry sauce. We like both ingredients and thought it would be a festive addition to our CHRISTmas holiday table, but the end result looked like barf, so we flushed it without tasting .

“Wishing all my Bulletin Board friends the merriest of CHRISTmases.”

‘Tis the season!
Plus: See world (Photography Division)

Aggie Girl: “This weekend, I opened a brand-new string of LED Christmas lights. Now that they are on one of my trees, I think they may have been taken over by a demon. You see, part of the lights flash. Not all of the lights — it appears only blue and green lights flash, while the yellow and red stay lit. Except . . . not all the blue and green ones flash, either — some of them stay on as well. There appears to be no rhyme or reason. To keep it from driving me crazy, I decided it must be demons.

“On a completely unrelated note, I thought the rest of BB might enjoy this picture of lightning.

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“It was taken in Hill City, South Dakota, this summer. Great location to spend some time for those who enjoy nature in all its glory.”

Oopp’s!

Twitty of Como: “Subject: The apostrophe distribution thing, or, everyone’s a copy editor.

“There’s a big poster in the window of the nearby Golden Arches outlet that I’ve been staring at for a few weeks now during lulls in conversation and coffee. It says: ‘Three no’s you can say yes to . . . ‘

“It refers to their claim of no additives, no preservatives, no added coloring in the products they sell, but I can never get my head past the seemingly misplaced apostrophe. Maybe it’s just me.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Walt of Wayzata (possibly among others) would be disappointed in us if we failed to note that “Maybe it’s just me” should be “Maybe it’s just I.” (Snort!)

And as for “no’s”: Since the word should be “noes,” and since one of the functions of the apostrophe is to stand in for a missing letter or letters, “no’s” is … potentially acceptable (even if the sign-maker had no clue of its defensibility!).

But we’re with you, Twitty. “No’s” is wrong!

Out of the mouths of babes

The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill: “The Queen Mother brought the F-Bomb a little lucky charm a few years ago and told him that it would keep him safe.

“He looked at it and said: ‘I don’t need one of those. I’m a fast runner.’ ”

Band Name of the Day: The Demon Flashes

Website of the Day: Louis Armstrong sings “What a Wonderful World.”

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