It’s been six months since I’ve been actively posting here. Below I explain some reasons for my absence.
In the months since I’ve given any time for myself to take pictures, I’ve passed on a couple of opportunities to accompany the museum team into the field, as I need to focus on my plan to sell my home and take an extended trip in the RV. I have both upgrades to the RV in mind and upgrades to the house. I have help from friends and family on the house, but the RV upgrades are mine alone to tackle.
RV upgrades include adding insulation, rooftop storage, a ladder system (to access storage), plumbing modifications, adding solar panels as window awnings, and most complex; a motorized lift to carry my Folbot kayak onto the roof. There are other upgrades as well, but the lift project is by far the most complex and probably deserves a chapter of its own.
The upgrades to the house I feel are justified if I don’t want to leave a pile of money behind when I leave. Over the years I’ve invested heavily in the house infrastructure (roof, solar, tile floors, windows, solar tube lights, solar spa heat to name a few). Additionally, I’ve taken on structural repairs to the house (inside and out) and to the large deck in the back of the house and its foundation.
The only part of the house I neglected during my tenure as custodian of my two acre property, has been the master bed and bath. This part of the house dreadfully needed upgrading. aside from the ancient carpeting and unfinished plumbing, the construction employed during my mom’s ownership was substandard and presented an obstacle to a proper presentation of the house. The look was “fixer-upper” and since the property sale is my key to effective retirement, and all the other upgrades I’ve done over the years would be wasted. The outcome of the work now underway should maximize the value in a real estate market that is now peaking (time to sell, if ever). We’ve removed all the sketchy construction and replaced it with proper framing, which opens up the space and results in a luxurious presentation. Where this area of the house was the shabbiest, it now is the most attractive.
Not using contractors for all this work has several advantages. First, the work is not being done haphazardly, and we’ve been able to make design choices as we demolished the old work, that maximizes utility and aesthetics. A major complaint people have with contractors is time management concerns; when the contractor has multiple jobs, crews get shifted around often to the point of adding days or weeks to the construction. Another problem is “change orders”. As walls get opened up, construction challenges get revealed that cause the cost of construction to soar. Our solutions evolved as we explored the problems and adapted our design to fit the situation effectively.
About four months ago I moved out of the house and into my RV. This allowed us to tear down the old and replace with the new. It also put me in touch with the “livability” issues in living in a small RV on a daily basis. My nephew Chris has been amazing throughout this process. His construction skill sets have given me the confidence to make some otherwise bold choices. I struggle somewhat with the idea he refuses payment and hope someday to find a method to repay his efforts. My neighbor/friend Bob has worked with me for many years and though I do pay for his time, his constant, steady push on projects has proven invaluable.
I’ve been photographing yardbirds for over a week during breaks in my projects. I think I need to process and post to my blog. I’ve been processing the image data as I go, so the raw files are already prepped. The living room desktop has not yet had the Photoshop plugins installed, but it’s high time I did so.
My recent attention to my yardbirds began when an Anna’s Hummingbird built a nest in my patio in a location visible from my living room. I set up my tripod and my biggest lens on the patio 15 feet from the nest with a wireless system that allowed me to take pictures from inside the house and where my presence would not draw attention to the young mom. When she shifted her routine from bringing in nesting material and sitting still on the nest, I assumed she was on eggs. When I observed her bringing in food, I assumed her eggs had hatched. A few days later the babies were big enough to stretch their heads above the rim of the nest. Unfortunately two days after the last images I captured, the neighborhood crows spotted the nest after possibly hearing the babies beg for food. In a blink of an eye the babies were eaten. My nephew witnessed the disaster, but it happened so fast he wasn’t able to do anything about it.
In the days since the depredation I’ve decided I needed to break from my routine getting ready to sell my home of the past 60 years and once again enjoy the birds in my yard. When I was very young, my dad tasked me and my brother to help him dig out a pond among the giant boulders in the front yard. The pond evolved over the past decades and one modification I’ve enjoyed is the bird bath waterfall that brings in birds all year long. Especially entertaining are the hummingbirds that enjoy the final spillway that drops the water back into the pond below. Sometimes (but not that often) these feisty little demons give up their defensive behaviours and settle in for a group bath and drink.
Anna’s hummingbirds are most common at my house, but Allen’s, Costa’s and Black-Chinned Hummingbirds will sometimes show up. The list of birds I’ve seen bathing and drinking at the shallow concrete bowl that pours out to the waterfall is long and includes Acorn, Nuttall’s, Downey and Northern Flicker Woodpeckers; Cooper’s, Red-Tailed and Red-Shouldered Hawks; Yellow-Rumped, Townsend’s, Orange-Crowned, Yellow Warblers; many sparrows; House and Lesser “Gold” Finches are regular attendants Crows and ravens have exploited the water for bathing and drinking. Tanagers, orioles, nuthatches, grosbeaks, buntings, wrens, bushtits, titmice, kinglets, vireos, flycatchers and sparrows can be counted among the birds who have visited this water source.