Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Wishes

Well as you read this Christmas Day is past but I wanted to wish you a happy belated Christmas.

A bit of a hectic one here, but followed by a quiet week I hope.

Our Boxing Day tradition is to relax, we don't go out, we don't shop, we don't invite anyone in, we don't answer the phone, you get the idea........... I like to hang out in my pajamas for at least half the day...... reading, doing a favorite crossword and then starting a jigsaw puzzle. Mind in neutral........

I wanted to share a few pictures taken on Christmas Day, these ones taken of the outside activity.

There is a tradition of feeding the wild birds on Christmas day which I believe originated in Scandinavia. I like to feed the birds, especially in the winter, but bought a few extra treats this year.

A bag of peanuts in the shell is a favorite of Jays, so when the peanuts disappeared I thought maybe they were responsible. Apparently not:

Sizing them up

Sneaking in for the grab

Got one

Well maybe one more

I wonder, three, no maybe not

Missed that, well here's an encore:

Action shots.

And here's the athletic rascal with a taste for nuts, but he likes them from the feeder.

Finally who I expected. Here are the Bushtits enjoying the fruit/nut suet I put out.

Males have dark eyes, females golden eyes.

Thank you for stopping by, Happy Whimsy Wednesday and Happy Boxing Day (however you spend it).

Until next week......................

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Towhees the week before Christmas

Please excuse the play on "Twas the night before Christmas", I couldn't resist.

Beautiful natural colour inside and out these days. Inside the seasonal poinsettia, Christmas cactus, Amaryllis and Orchids and outside the show offs at the feeders. First the birds .......

I have been watching the Towhees recently, shy birds usually, but they have become more bold recently.

This is one of the Towhees (Rufus sided) that have been enjoying the nut feeder that I have recently purchased.

Bright red eyes,

Rufus sides,

and white under feathers on tail.

Here being showed off for the camera in an action shot.

Another look at those sides .............

Aren't I a looker?

Well aren't I!

Chickadees are fun to watch too.

Not quite as colourful, but lots of personality:

Getting quite chubby too!

Maybe a bit large for this feeder, and house lady take notice this feeder needs filling.

A bit blurry, but this is a shot of the hummingbird just before it buzzed me.

Christmas cactus, almost waiting until Christmas to flower.

Orchids are a year round favorite of mine.

And of course the seasonal Poinsettias.

And here is a painting that I have finished recently. It is a watercolour painting of scene from the Umbria region of Italy.

Best wishes to you all for peace, joy, friendship and good health,

Happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week ..........................

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Time to get cracking?

Well it is starting to look and sound like Christmas, so I thought I would explore a Christmas tradition.

Nutcrackers are a a favorite Christmas decoration, the Nutcracker Suite is often performed at this time of year; where and when did this tradition start?

 "Nutcrackers in the form of wooden carvings of a soldier, knight, king, or other profession have existed since at least the 15th century. These nutcrackers portray a person with a large mouth which the operator opens by lifting a lever in the back of the figurine. Originally one could insert a nut in the big-toothed mouth, press down and thereby crack the nut. Modern nutcrackers in this style serve mostly for decoration, mainly at Christmas time. The ballet The Nutcracker derives its name from this festive holiday decoration. Nutcrackers have long been a traditional symbol of Christmas. The original nutcrackers were first seen in Germany and were thought to have guardian-like properties because of their strong appearance."

 I have visited the Nutcracker museum in Leavenworth, Washington; a place filled with Nutcrackers of all sizes and styles.

 "The carving of nutcrackers—as well as of religious figures and of cribs—developed as a cottage industry in forested rural areas of Germany. The most famous nutcracker carvings come from Sonneberg in Thuringia (also a center of dollmaking) and from the Ore Mountains. Wood-carving usually provided the only income for the people living there. Today the travel industry supplements their income by bringing visitors to the remote areas."

"While the first nutcrackers were produced to more effectively and efficiently crack nuts, the first German nutcrackers as decorative pieces were developed somewhere between the late 1400s and early 1500s. Many of these early German nutcracker designs were in the shapes of animals, birds, and people."

"It was not until the late 1600s and early 1700s that German nutcrackers took on the personas of the kings, soldiers, church leaders, and policemen. As miners and villagers of the Erzgebirge region improved their carving and crafting skills, the German nutcrackers began developing into popular collectible pieces around the region and throughout Germany." 
"People enjoyed using the German nutcrackers that were shaped like the ruling and authoritative classes because it reduced them to the position of mere crackers of nuts rather than possessing any power over their individual freedoms." (

Nut crackers come in all shapes and sizes.

So how well do they work? This kind is quite effective.

This nutcracker works by rotating the device once the nut is inserted, interesting idea but not as effective as more traditional designs.

The nutcracker is more for decoration than function, I was not able to get it to work on a nut and didn't want to break it (the nutcracker not the nut).

This little nutcracker is way too small to be of use as a nutcracker.

Of course this method is quite effective, albeit a bit messy:

This is maybe a very early nutcracker, and still very effective too!

Nuts were a seasonal favorite when I was a kid. Mandarin oranges, whole nuts and pomegranates were Christmas season treats and still signal Christmas to me.

This week I painted a scene from a town in southern Italy. Several years ago we visited Puglia and while there visited the town of Alberobello, a small town in the province of Bari, which is famous for its trullo (plural trulli) houses.

Alberobella is a world heritage site famous for its trulli houses, which are built of stone without using mortar, the stones are just laid on top on one another. They are characterized by dome shaped roofs which are sometimes painted with pagan symbols.

The home could easily be disassembled for moving, also it is said that they could be disassembled to avoid paying taxes.

We visited on a bright sunny day, and it was both a beautiful site and a beautiful sight. This is a watercolour that I think I might call "Trulli Beautiful".

Well that's all for this week,  thanks for dropping by, happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week ...........