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Bits and Pieces, Need Your Christmas Memories
December 08, 2008

Hopefully you get this letter, as there seems to be some problems with some bounced mail.

It is important to put my address and others you want to keep on your white-list or mail list, other wise it may end up in the spam file of bounce all together.

Okay, to business at hand.

We have almost two weeks of Autumn left, or at least that is what the calendar tells me.

You wouldn't know it though, as winter has kicked in full time.

Cold temperatures and lots of snow (mostly from lake effect) has buried much of Michigan.

I've lived here all my life, and it still amazes me hor the Great Lakes play a major role in the weather.

Sometimes it is snowing while the sun is shining.

Saturday was almost blizzard like conditions.

Sunday was calm with some welcome sunshine.

I understand that much of North America is cooler than normal.

Oh well, you can't stop the weather from happening.

Still, I try to look at the positive side of it all.

It is part of Mother Nature's way of cleansing the earth.

Fresh snow can be attractive.

Certain birds like Northern cardinals really stand out in a white back ground.

Besides that, I get to bundle up like an eskimo, get to see my breath and go for my walk.

What more could a guy want :-)

Walks continue with Keet and Ziggy.

Now they wear sweaters and they don't like that.

They like to walk, but as soon as they see the sweaters, they hide.

Silly dogs.

It took a while, but the Ziglet got the hang of walking in tire tracks instead of wading in the snow.

If it is to nasty, I leave the little dogs behind and walk solo.

Yesterday, December 7th we remembered "Pearl Harbor Day."

A day that changed or altered history forever.

I don't like to use the term anniversary.

In my opinion, anniversaries are something we should celebrate with happiness or joy.

Can you really celebrate a tragic event?

Still, as time goes on, little is mentioned about this moment in history and that is sad.

Say, did you get a chance to see the moon and planets last week?

I hope so, it wont happen again until the year 2052.

Advent In The Home

"The Coming of the Light"

Advent season starts 4 Sundays before Christmas.

The first Sunday in Advent.

"The Promise of the Light."

This candle signifies the prophets hopes and prayers.

The second Sunday in Advent (Dec 7).

"The Light is Come."

This candles signifies the stable birthplace of the Christ Child.

The third Sunday (this coming Sunday).

"The Shepherds Find the Light."

This candle represents the good news the angels sang to all people.

Why must the season be so hectic?

Isn't there enough to do without adding on?

Some how, some where, I hope we can learn to slow down some and really enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.

Oh well................

I have a Sweet gum tree that refuses to drop all of its foliage.

That may make for a messy spring and some grass kill if the leaves manage to collect enough in one spot.

For you folks without snow, continue with your fall clean up and winterizing.

Us in the Great White North, well...............

Be sure to keep your bird feeders and feeding areas cleaned off as much as possible.

Try to offer fresh water as well.

It is more difficult for birds to find water as streams and ponds freeze over.

Sure they will eat snow, but eating cold snow strains the birds abilities to maintain proper body heat.

Birds need every bit of food and energy to survive another day and night.

Offering water will help out.

Bird feed is costly enough without buying pre mixed bags or containers.

If you offer a mixed blend, try mixing your own.

You can mix 5 to 10 pounds of Black oilers with one or two pounds of white Millet and about the same amount of cracked corn.

This mixture will make all your birds happy.

While oilers offer oil and protein, millet and corn offers starch that is turned into quick energy (like eating a candy bar).

They also contain certain vitamins and minerals birds need.

Be sure to toss some on the ground under some shrubs or near your feeders as well.

This keeps the ground feeders happy.

Now if Starlings are an issue, stick with straight sunflower seeds.

You keep hearing or reading from me that starlings can't crack open sunflower seeds and they can't.

Peanut feeders attract several different birds as well.

Did you know that in Great Britain, almost 75% of the households feed birds?

A majority of them offer peanuts.

Please, use unsalted peanuts.

Decorating trees for birds is a cute idea, but many birds will ignore your gestures and offerings.

Cranberries are to hard and bitter for most birds. Ideally, cranberries should be frozen and thawed a couple of times to bring out the sugars and soften them up.

Many birds ignore popped corn as well.

Are you going to make up some pine cones?

If you are collecting your own cones, bake or nuke them a short spell.

By doing this, the cone cooks and remains open.

Otherwise, raw or cold cones will shut tight.

Do place paper towels or something disposable under the cones, or you may have a pine sap mess to contend with.

Drill a small hole in the cone or find a way to run a wire or twine for a hanger.

Feel free to mix some cornmeal with your peanut butter and then fill the cone with peanut butter (plain or crunchy).

Be sure to leave the top or bottom of the cone plain ( a good inch or so).

Why so Ron?

By leaving the bottom or top plain, your birds have some sure footing or a place to grip.

Birds don't like slippery, greasy feet.

That's an accident waiting to happen.

Now you can roll or stuff your cones with any seeds or mixtures you have around.

You can also get a bit creative by using a grapefruit or orange half.

Scrape out the citrus fruit.

Poke a hole on each side and run some decorative yarn or twin through your holes and tie a know on each end to keep it in place.

Melt some lard, suet or unsalted grease.

Mix in your choice of nuts and seeds.

As the mixture cools and begins to thicken, scoop some into your hollowed out orange or grapefruit halves.

Give them some heaping helpings.

Be sure to keep the twine and rims free of the grease.

Now you have a couple of decorative yet practical treats for your feathered friends.

Winter Migration

Yes, winter migration.

This past week I spotted a flock of Snow geese heading south.

A bit late for Snow geese I thought.

But, it reminded me.....................

Migration is an on going thing.

It seems like some species of bird(s) is coming or going all the time.

Winter migration is mostly water fowl.

Ducks, geese, swans, loons and several water birds.

Even seagulls.

They wont migrate unless they have to.

Sure some will head out early, but around here, the Mallard ducks and Canada geese will stay until there waterways freeze and food sources are buried in snow and ice.

As long as there is food and water, many of them stay right here.

This was the case a couple years ago when we had a mild winter.

Even a couple of Great blue herons and Belted kingfishers wintered over because many of the waterways remained open.

Robins, Eastern bluebirds and others will remain until they are forced to migrate to find food.

Not to mention eagles and osprey.

When waterways freeze, these large birds of prey head out to find open water for fishing purposes.

Winter migration may be a couple thousand miles or a couple hundred miles.

Some years, irruptions happen with certain bird species and they seem to migrate in gret numbers.

Common redpolls, Red-breasted nuthatches, Pine siskens and even Snowy owls irruptor migrate when food sources are lacking.

Last year was a very busy irruptive year, you may not see certain species this winter.

Even then, some hardy souls will remain throughout winter or migrate in short stages. By this I mean only as far as they have to or until they must move again to find food.

A county down from where I live is a large State Game area.

As many as 20,000 geese and ducks will winter here.

Now, if the stinking starlings would migrate to somewhere and stay I could like that.

Three or four years ago we had a Christmas letter where readers had a chance to share some Christmas moments.

Something special about Christmas past or Traditions that are carried on today.

Though some of you are still here, readers come and go so this will be new for you.

It gives you a opportunity to get involved, or share some moments.

It was a big hit then and hopefully it will be now as well.


You need to participate.

Here are a couple examples from me.

As kids, I felt we had the best Christmas.

Santa was special around our house.

When he came, presents came unwrapped and set up ready for business.

For weeks, we would practice our routine.

We would find every crack and creak in the floor and avoid that spot when the big moment came.

We would get up in the middle of the night to see what Santa had given us.

There were some years when we must've been pretty good kids, as there would be a train set up or a race track and all the Tonka construction equipment and so on.

Stockings were always filled and placed by each kid's gift or gifts.

With eight kids in the house, things would be pretty cramped, but what a joy.

We would stay up playing with stuff until it was time to wake up mom and dad. Then it was time for round two.

Tradition always had the tree lit so there was light to see by.

Years later, mom said she would lay in bed with a huge smile and dad would get irritated by it all.

Keeping the tree lit over Christmas eve into Christmas is a tradition that carried on in my household.

Sad to say, Santa's visits were different (some things you can't change when you get married)

Ay least some of my brothers and my sister were able to continue the traditions.

I'm not sure where the traditions started or came from, but our Santa was the coolest.

With all of this, mom always made sure we knew why we had Christmas and the real meaning of the celebration.

I could go on with more, but you get the idea.

I would like for you, to give me a brief descriptionn or moments on something special about Christmas.

Childhood memories like decorating the tree or baking cookies.

Was it a tradition to pick out a tree and cut it down?

Did you go out caroling or participate in Christmas plays?

Going to your grandparents.

Anything memorable you can think of.

Traditions past or present.

Let's make this Christmas letter (in 2 weeks) something special we can all share and be a part of.

You may be surprised when someone brings up something you did but forgot about.

What I need from you is a short paragraph or two.

Be sure to send me your FIRST NAME, State or Province and City you live in or near.

You've got two weeks to get that to me.

Come on, let's have some fun.

Well, it's time to fly.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

This week make it two thouhts.

If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.

Isaac Newton (1642-1727) English Scientist

"Be Still and Know that I AM GOD."

Psalm 46:10

This may not be what Sir Isaac Newton had in mind, but what better way to practice patience or work on patient attention than to be still and know he is the GREAT I AM.

Be patient and feel his presence all around you.

Feel him in the vastness of his universe.

In the intricate details of each unique snowflake.

From the simplest single cell life forms.

To the most complex life forms, human beings.


You and me.

BE STILL..................

Can you imagine the patience God must have for us.

That is love and grace that know no bounds my friend.

A couple of things we all could practice more of I'm sure.

Be patient..........

And discover.......

Be still...........

And know...........

He is God..........

What else is there?

If that doesn't make you smile, then you better check you pulse.

Tis the season to smile.

Smile my friends and share them with the world.

What easier thing to give and to share than a smile.

Your smiles may lead to something special.

Your smiles may lead to someone special or in need.

Share your smiles, it is a start.


Until next time my friend.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers. Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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