Monthly Archives: June 2014

Close-up it becomes downright exotic.

Today on “As the Hummingbird Turns, um, Flies”

Until I started regularly putting out and tending a seasonal hummingbird feeder several years ago, I had no idea that these amazing little birds squeak. That’s right, they emit a sort of happy, squeaking sound at the feeder. Not all the time, but once in awhile. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an educational, ornithologically correct post, as I doubt you want to read that, and also I don’t really feel like looking up facts.

The squeaky noise sounds like their version of, “OH-MY-GOD-THIS-IS-SO-GOOD, HAPPY, HAPPY, MORE, MORE.” That’s pretty much what I too say about my food in human-speak. It’s really cute. Not what I say, what the birds say squeak. The source of their pleasure is straight, unadulterated sugar water – no wonder they fly around all hyped up. Who else gets that?! (Now that I think about it, if I looked into the matter, I’d probably find a sugar water controversy afoot somewhere online not unlike the low-key debate over regular bird feeding. But I’m not going to look.) Not only do they get sugar water, the concoction is supposed to be made extra strong at the beginning of the season in order to hook attract them. Although once they’ve found a open buffet, they’ll return in following years to the same location. Now that’s a GPS, baby.

Unfortunately, hummingbirds are not the only ones interested in sugar water. So besotted are ants with the sweet liquid, that a bunch of ’em will go right through the feeding ports into the cylinder. Not only are appetite-ruining ants swarming the outside, but dearly departed comrades (“We told them to just take one drink and step aside, but nooooo, they didn’t listen”) are floating inside. The hummingbirds are, reasonably, put off by this spectacle on their meal and shy away, which is probably just as well because I worry about them getting ants lodged in their tiny throats and choking. If birds choke. I tried various homemade foils, which didn’t work, so I caved and bought a rather ingenious ant moat (that’s not what the manufacturer calls it, but that’s what it is) that sits above the feeder and prevents the ant coalition from reaching it. Ants. Don’t. Swim.

Here’s the feeder and ant moat set-up: 
I don’t know why it has all those ports; I believe I saw two birds feeding nicely together at the same time precisely once (and that was probably only because the male wanted some hot lady hummingbird action that night). Far and away what do the magic birds do most of the time? Fight. Seems my lovely little friends are very territorial – doesn’t matter how much liquid chow is available – ain’t nobody else gonna have it. Mine, mine, mine. One bird, who apparently has had enough or isn’t hungry at the moment, will sometimes sit quietly in a nearby tree or shrub and wait for a competitor to approach the feeder and then fly in, all “I GOT YOU” and chase it off. “So what if I’m not playing with it right now. Any minute, I might want it.

Sometimes I feel like I should be able to teach them to share, as if I could convince the mini-birds of the silliness in their greedy ways. Near the end of the season, with hundreds if not thousands of miles of flight ahead of them, when you’d think they’d want to be carb-loading, their fighting seems especially ill-advised. By then, though, I can only offer a head-shaking, wry word: “You’re burning daylight, little bird. When you fall out of the sky from exhaustion somewhere over Texas, whose fault will that be?”

Short Thought 35 (retirement)

Some retired people start traveling. A lot spend more time with friends and family. Others take classes. Many get invested in hobbies. Quite a few devote their energies to volunteering. Some take up meddling.

My (too fanciful) imagination meets modern technology

I think one of these does...something.

I think one of these does…something.

I don’t want to live in the past, but I am frequently disoriented by modern technology. See, I’m a bit fanciful (for someone typically given to level-headedness as well as regular bouts of irreverence), so I tend to imagine impossible things. Some of it’s fairly mundane and commonplace, like momentarily thinking I can fast-forward through TV commercials, or rewind to catch a bit of dialogue or replay a juicy scene on an old TV set that features no bells, whistles, cables, or contracts. When I catch my mistake, I feel both disoriented and a bit put out, as if I’ve been tricked. But tricked by who?

I want blocking and other features to be available places they aren’t, such as places online which is kinda understandable, but also in walking-down-the-street real life scenarios, which is nonsensical. Before blocking, there was mere avoidance. Avoidance seems so yesterday! While I don’t wish anyone dead or anything dire like that (although I’m not above feeling if certain people went away and didn’t come back, I wouldn’t be sorry), I do wish at times that it was possible to block real-life individuals (some possibly dangerous, some merely irritating). I try to shake off such ideas, but can’t. The wires are crossed – my imagination merged onto the super highway and can’t find an exit.

These feelings are much like those few groggy seconds when I wake up from a flying dream and feel confused and then disappointed that flapping my arms and concentrating won’t allow me to take flight. The feeling soon passes: You can’t fly and that’s that, but it’ll still return another day and at some level, I remain put out, even though realistically there’s no one to be put out with.

I know I’m not alone in picking up a remote and spending minutes pushing every button and waving it around at an appliance it isn’t assigned to. Why isn’t it working? Are the batteries bad? Worse, I get urges to point remotes in situations they don’t apply, on things (and people) they don’t work on. Why can’t I point a remote and press mute to make a blowhard or someone spouting venom, stop talking? Or change channels to at least switch topics? My brain is telling my fingers to press buttons on phantom remotes. One of these days I may just slip right off and start pointing imaginary remotes at people.