RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Flowers

Excerpts from a Hummingbird Book I Wrote

 

Several years ago after spending countless hours (years) with my Little Winged Ones and reading anything I could get my hands on for information and then taking notes as I surveyed, scrutinized, examined and study them from every aspect one could… I decided to write a little book about the Little Winged Ones. 

I actually wrote the book backwards, doing the conclusion with all the information about them from migration to habitats, the flowers they liked, what kind of water sources they liked to you name it.  I was writing down everything that I saw, heard and read.  I found it quite exhilarating… as much so as the little hummingbirds themselves. 

I am now doing the illustrations for the little book.  I am having a blast doing each one.  I do not care how long it takes me, the time I put into the little book is very precious to me.  In the end whether I sale one copy or give them away it means little to the measure of pleasure they have given me.

The title of the little book is Midnight Nectar… this comes from a special part of this poem that I wrote… the hummingbird characters and personalities are what help set the title.  I do hope that each one of you enjoys the excerpts from the poem and a little from the books conclusions of as much information that I thought a reader would want and could enjoy, for those that asked for me to share sorry it took me so long….

 

Midnight Nectar  

The Little Winged Ones

 

 

I watch in wonderment at the little wings ones, the hummingbird’s flight of play.  Flashing the colors of their gorget, they cast beams of color like a prism in sunrays.  You see them flitting here and there, their iridescence feathers glowing, bright, shimmering, and radiating a mixture of colors as they dart from place to place…

 

The sight of each little winged ones impressive plumage is eye-catching as they put it on display.  All their colors of rufus, greens and blues, purple, and even copper are all blended and fused to see as they captivate.   Gold and orange, and reds dispersed in many different hues its contrast the identity enabler and too by their size and shapes…

 

They flash each their metallic colors as they put on a show, which is entertaining, sometimes comical as they engage with one another in as many ways.  They make musical notes from the exhilarated speed of their little wings with a constant whirling and hovering here, and their flights of speed so swift , look and see it is high, ever so high over there, each  its own everywhere…

 

Watch as the little winged ones ascend high out of sight then rapidly plummets with a “peep” as it promptly levels off just above the ground, then flies away, bright and smart and oh so quick on their uptake.  Amazing acts these little winged ones, what a show as they try to assert, contend, and outperform on a dare, which one will succeed, they are all very competitive…

All this takes lots of nectar the sweet juices is their food, their fuel.  Sit and watch as they linger at their chosen flowers all of pure raw flavor.   Sipping nectar for their flights and their games of play, watch it now as it makes the chase; it tags, and then it quickly flies away…

 

The hummingbirds I write about are those that spend spring, summer and the part of autumn here in the Pacific Northwest.  Four species that call our home theirs for part of the year are the Anna’s, Allen’s, Rufus, and the littlest of all the Calliope’s.  A few of the Anna’s Hummingbirds live here at Hummingbird Hollow year round.  They are very adaptive at surviving the winters that can get very cold, here in Washington State where the temperature can sometimes be in the 20’s degrees and at times a lot colder.  To survive the night, they fluff up their feathers and adjust their thermostats, decreasing their body temperatures by half and reducing their heart rate which can range can be up to 1260 beats per minute.  Their high body temperature of…

 

I observed for the first time several years ago a new, performance that was put on by a hummingbird during the hottest part of the summer.  The lawns were all golden brown from lack of rain.  While I was relaxing in the shade, I watched a hummingbird land on a slight slope where the wild grass was dried and the blades were all laying one on top of another on the ground.  The hummingbird landed and then commenced to lie down and settled on its belly in the dried grass as it spread it wings wide on both sides.  It laid there sunning itself for a long period time.  I was not only surprised but it intrigued me so.  I had never to date read anything on this behavior.  I thought maybe it was a fluke, but again I was thrilled to watch and scrutinize this same behavior on several occasions over the years after the fact of what seems to be a routine occurrence…

The little hummers never bore me, quite the opposite.  My interest and need to know more has never diminished, if anything I am like a sponge and try to gather and saturate my mind with as much information as I can.   I never tire of watching and studying them; I am thrilled beyond words at their courage to face anything head on.    They entertained me with all their antics and their pure stamina, with their staying power to weather any storm, and their determination in all of their actions.  They have never let me down.  This information is from the four species that live here at Hummingbird Hallow…

Hummingbirds need twice their weight in water every day.  They will drink the dew collected in leaves, or on grass and flowers.  Customary water sources such as birdbaths and in ground mini ponds and Koi Gardens will have to be specially adapted for the needs of the hummingbirds.  The hummingbirds and songbirds require very shallow water for drinking and bathing.  They do not like more than an inch and would prefer even less than that.  The birdbaths and such that we provide for other birds will need to be adapted for the little birds use.  You can add rocks, or you can lay a layer of sand for the correct water depth needed, even too use some small pebbles so they can enjoy and make use of your different water sources.   If need they will use the birdbaths and such but on a limited basic, by letting the tips of their wings dip in the water as they drop down and whiz across the water.   They two will dip their bills in for a quick drink.  Keep the birdbaths clean and give them fresh water every day during the hot summer months.  Here in the northwest even though we get lots of rain, I clean the birdbaths every day.  You want them sterile, you do not want them to pass on any disease(s) to each other and too there are many other birds that use the same water sources.  If you decide to put out feeders for the birds, be sure to keep them sterile, keep nectar fresh and put out only enough seeds for a few hours, we add to the feeders we use a couple of times a day.   Do not use any chemicals of any kind at any time… 

They love to play in the mist from water fountains. They will all join in and chase after one another and the mist drops.  There is much enjoyment to be had if you just take the time to watch them in all their energetic and enthusiastic high-spirited flights of play.  Always chasing one another, raindrops, water mist from fountains, even water from lawn and garden hoses (they love it when you are watering and do not mind that you are right there holding the hose.)  Remember to watch them playing chase with the snowflakes in the wintertime.  They seem never to exhaust their energies in whatever, they find to amuse themselves…

I hope you enjoyed the excerpts that I have chosen.  The book has not been edited at this point, if anyone knows a good book editor let me know… I need one bad….

(All of the photos I picked for this post are of Female Rufus Hummingbirds.)

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Life Springs from Decay

When I took this picture it reminded me of the decline in autumn as everything goes to sleep for the rebirth of spring.  Seeing the spring blossoms of the Vinca plant through the decayed leaf too brought these words to life…

Words from William B. Tappan: From ‘Beauty in the Grave’

And look upon the laughing earth,

Where spring in careless play

Puts forth its fairest blossoms, but

To deck them with decay.

I went on one of my walkabout today… in the woods just outside our home.  Ninnie went along: I do not know why she did not keep me company!  The last few days she has been so camera-shy… letting me know that I have enough pictures of her already.  I got a few shots: there is nothing clever about anyone of them.  She moves so fast it is hard to adjust the camera in time.  In one she thinks she has concealed herself atop a fallen tree.  She did invest some time exploring another log that had a nice hole…. one our red fox would use.

 

I guess she did conceal herself!

She would not look at me…

She is on the run… no pictures please!

A good fox hole!

We found a little color in the woods…

One of my garden orbs, it was a crackled clear glass orb, but with the sunlight adding depth I decided to see what I could do with my digital photography… it to me now looks like earth!

 Can now see one of my garden bunnies with the snow melted!

One of the Crocus in full bloom! Finally!

Asparagus Pizza… Yearning for Spring

Decided that spring could not get here soon enough… but a little spring for dinner would be perfect.  A spring pizza was in order.  The crust was easy… I bought pizza dough at  Central Market already made for me.  I wanted dinner to be  very easy and it was!  Put a little hollandaise sauce on and threw on some veggies…  steamed spinach (pat between paper towels to get as much moisture out,) about 1/2 cup of steamed (partially done…) brussel sprout leaves, some cherry tomatoes, few thin slices of onion and the first asparagus (partially steamed) of the year and it was so delicious… added some different cheeses and a few herbs and she was ready before we knew it.

I was starved and kept peeking into the oven…

It was finally done!

Look at it, all the blends tasted so delicious!

I want spring to come so bad… I have been going through some of my photos that I have taken in my gardens for several seasons.  I am going to share a few of the flower photographs over the next weeks… the real signatures of the summer months with you.  Maybe just maybe it will quicken the approach of the season?

A Zen Saying:  Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.  T reminded me as I was talking about spring…  he was thinking out loud about the grass would need mowing!

I will start with my favorite the hydrangea… they seem so complex to me.  As a child I thought of them as big snowballs… now they have so many varieties… my favorite is called the ‘Sea Breeze.’  Is she not lovely?  And who could not resist the daisy? I hope you enjoy my garden pictures and I have included our little raccoon that makes regular visits I call him  ‘Robber’….

Digital pictures I did of my bleeding hearts… how many like digital art… I am still deciding!

In My Absence

 

I have been absent for a couple of weeks now.  It has been a good couple of weeks; I have taken a vacation from extreme pain that has been muted just a bit from a new pain medication.   One that does not change my personality, for some a personality change in me might be good, but for me I like living as natural as possible.

The new pain meds did not come without any strings attached; I have been diagnosed with a rare condition and with it come added chronic acute pain, as if the other pain were not enough (I wonder is this how Job felt, just so you know I do not question the whys, I just try to live my life as normal as possible.)  However with the new med patches for the pain some things have changed a little for me and have added a little extra excitement to my life.  As most with pain would attest it is nice to have any relief no matter how little the let off is.

It is a true blessing in disguise, if that can be?  But it has allowed me to do a few things that I love.  Pain can take a lot of one’s energy… I put the new blessing to work for me in an entertaining way.  Lots of walks, taking pictures lots of pictures… they will follow, I have lots of Photoshop work to do and just have not taken the time to do so (normally I Photoshop all my pictures as they are downloaded… I learned years ago putting it off is a mess and that I might not get to all of the shots.)  For right now… I want to go with the sun and have some fun.

So sitting at my computer has been put on the back burner for now so to speak.   I have still been doing my foodie and writing stuff… I actually have several new recipes and have gotten some wonderful shots and I even have most of the posts ready to be posted, it’s just taking the time to do so.  I will be uploading in batches I think, hopefully starting today.

You know when you are put in the position that I have been in for what seems a life time it is such a wonderful reprieve (from pain) and it opens so many doors that have been shut for a long time.  Yes I have to be careful to not overdue and I have to say I am doing a pretty good job of it.  I have had my moments that I have lagged behind and have re-experienced the heavy feeling of my body bogging me down (doing and trying to do too much,) but just enough to remind me to take a careful balance in what I am doing.  It does not take much of a hint; I could have used this self-knowledge of do’s and don’ts a long time ago!  I will admit I am stubborn headed (nothing was going to slow me down or keep me from doing what I wanted) and I could have saved myself a lot of grief along the way in my life.  But… it is never too early or late to learn…

I do read my emails each morning and have enjoyed all the posts that I follow; I will be commenting soon… there so many new things you all have shared and I love letting you know what they mean to me.  I know what it means to hear from those souls that take the time to visit, read and then comment.  It tells each of us that what we are doing is appreciated and too I find I learn so much in each of your comments and I know you do too in return.

Male Rufus Hummingbird – Showing His Colors

One thing I learned a long time ago in facing pain and illness, to try my best to look past it and find all the blessings in my life.  Those blessings are what keep me going, they give me the strength and peace I need, that we all need, to live each day to the fullest, no matter what obstruction (and we all have them)  that is put before each one of us.

Red Berry Elder Berries – One of the birds favorites!

I count each of my readers as a true blessing, major blessings, in my life.  It does not matter if you are a regular visitor, an anonymous reader or one that comments sharing your insight, giving each of us a smile, making us think or giving us a jolly laugh… who could have known the wonderful friendships one could make from sharing some words, recipes, and photos…  In many ways this blog has changed much in my life… it has made me a better soul, opened my eyes… dared me to look and to share, it has given me the strength needed to let others read my words and your reciprocation in return can never be measured… with it comes true understanding… yours.   Hope you enjoy these pictures!

I’ll be back soon and one of these days I will be up to date, I hope each of your summers are going as good as mine, if so none of us could ask for anything more…   Give me lots of sun and fun….

Petit Fours for Easter

Petit Fours

Spring is in the air and this is the time of year when all things that have been dormant come back to life in full color.  What beautiful colors we see in the flowers, the blossomed trees and shrubbery.  Where ever you look there is such splendor.

Easter is the most sacred holiday of Christians; in fact it is what I consider the holiest day in our faith.  Easter is truly a day of new beginnings.  It is a day to celebrate life, but not just life, but everlasting life.  With my commitment in my faith, it gives me hope, through Jesus; we get to live, live for eternity. It was at this time that Jesus died on the cross; the blood He shed has cleaned me of my sins, the same for all Christians and those that accept Him into their lives as Lord and Savior.  He was buried and rose again three days later, thereby giving everlasting life for all of us who believe in Him.

I went out and picked some of my flowers growing in my gardens to put in several rooms in my home.  It brings such joy to me to see and smell them.  I try to keep cut flowers in my home throughout the season.  They not only add color, but it brings cheers to the room that they grace.   I had a few flowers left over that I used for the pictures of the Petit Fours.

I have wanted to make Petit Fours for some time now and finally decided to just do it.  I have made them before; but I want to make them without pre-made sugar flowers.  Why did I put it off, I am not talented with the pastry bag.  I have artistic abilities but cannot use a pastry bag.  I am a perfectionist and it is hard for me to make something when the flowers that grace them are not as pretty as the real thing, what a sore site when I am trying to put borders on something.   I have looked into it and there will be classes in decorating with the pastry bag this fall and I will be the first one on the list, it is about time that I took the time to learn how to hold and use a pastry bag.

For these petit fours I used a ‘Sara Lee’ all butter pound cake (the only time I use a pre-made cake.)  For those that do not know where to get them they are in the frozen section at the market.  I let it thaw just a little while on the counter before I slice it into 1 inch wide slices that I then cut my 1” squares and circles.  I do not bother to cut the top and sides off.  When I made the slices I laid them flat and used my inch cutters to cut them out around the top, sides and bottom.  It was a lot less work, one of the reasons I did not make my own pound cake.

Once I have all my petit cakes cut, I make sure there are no crumbs left on them and I then put them into the freezer on a jelly roll pan, it is easier to work with them frozen and when you pour the glaze on it seems to set up quicker.

Petit Four Icing/Glaze:

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups of confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use the clear if you can find it, if not I used the regular this time it does keep it from being a white glaze…
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • Food coloring, (optional)  I used Ateco Spectrum Food Gel Paste

To Prepare Icing:

Combine all icing ingredients in the top of a double boiler.  Heat all the ingredients over boiling water until the glaze is noticeable lukewarm, whisking constantly.  Once it is heated I take the pan off the water and set aside and quickly get the cake out of the freezer and place the cakes directly on my cooling rack with a jelly roll pan underneath to catch the dripping of the excess glaze from the little cakes as I glaze them.

I use a small ladle filled with glaze and I hover over each petit fours and as I start to pour glaze onto the cake and I use a circular motion while hovering over the little cake until it is covered.   Once I have them all glazed once I do it again.  Then I take the glaze that has settled into the jelly roll pan (make sure there are no cake crumbs in the glaze) and if it is still warm (if not I put it over the hot water for a just a bit and it heats up real fast, whisk it while it heats) I do the same thing for the third time.  It gives them a nice luster look.

I let them dry for several hours before adding the flowers and trims, but this time I put them in a box with lid to finish them tomorrow.  Do not refrigerate, it will make the glaze sticky and I have been told grainy too.

I had left over buttercream frosting in the freezer that I thawed out and then beat it good, I divided it into four different bowls and then I tinted it with pink, purple, blue, and yellow and put each color into its own pastry bag.   I have made the petit fours before several times and always used the already made sugar flowers however this time I did not buy any pre-made flowers to force myself into using the pastry bag.  I did simple little flower on each of the petit fours.

They have nice color, but I cannot wait for the decorating classes so I can be confident in what I am doing.  There has to be an easier way for someone too who has medical problems that cause the hands to shake and jerk, hopefully.

These were a lot better than they looked.  It was a wonderful Easter, filled with food that was exceptional delicious with lots of leftovers.  Happy Easter to all….

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