Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What old people get up to

How do you keep a plate of birdseed dry? When you're retired, you have lots of time to come up with solutions. 

Judging by the seed husks, at least some birds have found their way to my dangling, umbrella-sheltered seed dish. 

Meanwhile, John transforms an old futon frame into a new bookshelf.

John puts the final touches to his shelf.  Books to be added soon.

When you have lots of time and not much money coming in -- i.e. retirement -- you think differently. Why hire someone when you can do it yourself, however slowly? Why buy something new when you can jury-rig what you already have?

Mom and dad were in their 70s when they reroofed their big, high Surrey garage all on their own. Climbing? Ladders? Heavy tiles? Oh, mom said when I expressed concern, dad rigged up a pulley to get the tiles to the roof, so it was fine.

Similarly, when John and I decided this week we needed more shelves for our ever-expanding book collection, there was no question of hiring a carpenter. Or even buying wood. A futon frame John had discovered on a boulevard with a "free" sign last summer was just the thing. It split apart nicely into the components of a fine new bookshelf he built for the den in just two days. Even the paint that finished it off was left over from the last time he painted the room.

While John built the shelves, I was doing my own jury-rigging.  I wrote earlier about buying seed to feed the birds while ice and snow covered our back yard. A proper bird feeder was too expensive; I opted for aluminum pie plates placed on top of  our frozen birdbaths. But the cold spell dissolved Tuesday into torrents of rain, melting the birdbaths. Where to put the seed and how to keep it dry? I thought of dad's many ingenious inventions over the years -- the engine he affixed to a bicycle when Brian was young; the desk lamp he made for us girls when we desperately wanted such a thing. I searched my innards for some of  his ingenuity.

An umbrella, I thought. An umbrella in a tree. An umbrella in a tree with a plate of birdseed affixed to its handle.

Amazingly, it worked -- up to a point. The umbrella stayed snugly in the branches of the witch hazel; the plate stayed level; the seed stayed dry. But where were all the visitors who flocked to my open-concept bird feeders? It took awhile to figure out that birds spot food from the air. When they fly over my creation, all they'd see is a big burgundy blob.

A few have found my offering, though. There are some seed husks, and maybe there'll be more tomorrow. Some things take time. But in the meantime, John and I have a new bookshelf and a wonderfully ludicrous photograph of me and my contraption. We entertained ourselves. It was free. What more can retired folk wish for?

My cheap alternative to a bird feeder -- aluminum pie plates on a frozen bird bath. The rocks are to prevent heavier birds and squirrels from flipping the plates over.

Another view of my wonderful invention. The branches of the witch hazel hold the umbrella. The umbrella has a curved wooden handle  perfect for tying the seed tray onto. On the ground,  a plate of picked-through seeds I abandoned to the rain, the squirrels and whatever came along.

 A close-up of my ingenious device. I should patent this!

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