Monday, May 8, 2017

Fighting for space - finches update

Those who have been following my blog for a while know that a couple of finches made a nest on my 11th-floor balcony. At the time I wrote that I wondered about the intelligence of birds since I have four cats.

A few days later I called those finches feathered engineers because the way they constructed the nest was nothing short of amazing. Every day they flew to and from with building materials and using just their beak they build a pine cone shaped nest.

Today I feel slightly different about them. Yes, the nest the finches built is remarkable, but if you ask me, those birds should have taken proper measurements.

As long as it was just eggs, the nest seemed big enough, but now that the birds have hatched it seems a little crowded. See for yourself …

Did you see the little guy on top? He’s about to fall out. That’s why I said that the finches should have taken proper measurements. Surely Mrs. Bird must have known that this nest would be too small for six little birds.

Another thing I wonder about is how these little birds can breathe. It’s all good and well for those on top, but the nest is cone shaped, which means that one of those birds is in the tip of the nest. How does he breathe with five of his siblings piled on top of him?

On the other hand, the one on the bottom is probably nice and warm, while those on top must be shivering. As you could see, the little birds have hardly any feathers, so they must be cold.

I wonder how this is all going to end. I hope none of them fall out because I would hate to see that.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

They've hatched - finches update

On April 4th I reported that a couple of finches had chosen my 11th-floor balcony to build a nest. Since then I have posted regular updates on the building of the nest and the number of eggs. First, there was one, then two, and eventually six.

Yesterday we heard a distinct squeaking. It wasn’t the familiar twittering of Mr. or Mrs. Bird, it was none melodic and much softer.
We suspected that the young ones had hatched, but going out on the balcony to take a look was out of the question. Mama was sitting on her nest and we didn’t want to frighten her.
This morning though mama took a break, or went in search for food, as she left the nest and took off. We took the opportunity to snap a picture. Aren’t they cute? Six little fuzzballs. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Do birds get bored - finches update

When someone exhibits great patience it’s often said that he has the patience of Job. You know who else has great patience? Birds.

Faithfull readers have undoubtedly been following my experience with a couple of finches who made their nest on my 11th-floor balcony. We’ve affectionally named them Mr. and Mrs. Bird.

After checking the place out for a couple of days, Mr. and Mrs. Bird got busy flying to and from with building materials and we’ve been taking pictures while the couple is away.
At first, we merely admired the nest, but one day we noticed an egg. A few days later there was a second egg, then a third and as of today there are six eggs.


Mrs. Bird sits on those eggs from early in the morning ‘till sundown. Just sitting there. I admire her patience. How does she do it? Doesn’t she get bored? There’s no TV to watch, no music to listen to, no computer the entertain her, she doesn’t even have a book to read. She just sits there. The only distraction she has is when Mr. Bird comes to visit two or three times a day to check on her.

Admittedly, from the 11th floor she has a nice view of the Toronto skyline, but how long can one look at a distant city without tiring of it? She also keeps an eye on our cats.

Mickey, Charlotte, Gabriel and Holly regularly go outside. They make no attempts to catch the birdie, but they do like looking at it and talking to it. A cat talking to a bird … that’s right, Mickey makes a variety of noises that sound like twittering.

We’ve often joked that Mick doesn’t stand a chance catching a bird. Not only do they see him coming a mile away, he can’t keep his mouth shut. Or is he perhaps speaking the language of birds and is he trying to confuse out feathered friends? Who knows. Either way, the cats look at the bird and the bird looks at them. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter + finches update

Happy Easter to all my faithful readers across the world.
Did the Easter bunny surprise you with any chocolate eggs? I certainly hope so.

A short while ago I saw a post on Facebook where a woman stated that she had received healthy snacks from the Easter bunny. Unless you’re a diabetic, which she is not, healthy snacks have no place at Easter. Not for adults and not for kids. Have you ever heard something so ridiculous? Healthy snacks for Easter … whatever next?

These health nuts are really pushing it too far. You can’t have this, you can’t have that, this is bad for you and that is bad for you and blah blah blah. Yet look at them … they are allergic to this and that, the wind blows and they get a cold and in general, their immune system is so weak that they get affected by all kinds of ailments.

Older generations in comparison are strong healthy individuals. They eat, drink and smoke and waltz through life without a care in the world. Just this morning I read that the oldest woman alive, born and raised in Italy, died at the age of 117. Do you think she ate healthy snacks? My guess is she never even heard of such a thing. And if she did, dismissed it with ‘queste sciocchezze’.

I remember back in my day, my brother and I used to stand in front of the window on Easter morning, peering into the garden to spot any eggs. Armed with a plastic pot we would venture out and look under shrubs and behind trees to collect the eggs. There usually was quite a selection of white, brown and black ones for us kids, and a big, beautiful cellophane wrapped one for mom.

This morning I found an egg myself. Not a chocolate egg but an egg laid by Mrs. Finch. Regular readers might remember that a couple of finches built a nest on my balcony. I promised that I would follow up on the story so here it is … so far one egg in the nest.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Feathered engineers

A few days ago I reported that two finches had chosen a wrath on my balcony to make their nest. In the meantime, considerable progress has been made.

The work usually starts around 8:00 a.m. at which time the birds start flying to and from to get materials for their nest. At first, it was twigs and grasses, but now that the nest is built, Mrs. Finch is lining it with feathers.

I wonder where she gets those feathers. Does she use her own? Does the steal a few off Mr. Finch, or does she pluck them her unsuspecting feathered friends? Either way, the nest is looking good. See for yourself …

Considering Mrs. Finch only used her beak, this is just a magnificent piece of engineering.

How are the cats doing, you might wonder?

The poor things are tired. They are just pooped. While they were able to get some solid sleep during the day, now they get woken up every so often by the twittering of Mr. and Mrs. Finch. Whenever they hear the birds they wake up and go to the balcony to have a look.

But actually, I should put that in the past tense. While they’ve been active bird watchers all week, today their attention started to dwindle. They seem to realize that they can’t catch those birds, so why bother? At best, their ears prick up whenever the twittering starts, or they lazily open one eye.

Why would they want to catch such a small bird anyway? Take away the feathers and the bones and how much meat is on such a little finch, hardly any. It’s more of an appetizer than a meal, or worse, an amuse-bouche.

Either way, I think the cats will be glad when the building of the nest is finished. Then again, once completed Mrs. Finch will lay her eggs and sit on them practically 24/7, while Mr. Finch brings her food. And later still, once the little ones have hatched, they will start to twitter to be fed and generally to get mom’s attention.

Oh these poor cats. Maybe I should get them some earplugs.

Meanwhile, don't forget to donate to the Toronto Cat Rescue. Shelter cats need your help. Any amount is appreciated but donations of $20 or more receive a tax receipt.

Donations can be made to my PayPal address at:
or at

Monday, April 10, 2017

Wondering about the intelligence of birds

I’ve come to wonder about the intelligence of finches. A pair of them is making a nest on my balcony.

If my balcony were like any other balcony, I would say okay, it’s a perfectly nice spot for them, but it isn’t. I live on the 11th floor of a condo building with 192 units, which means 192 balconies. 20 of those balconies are fitted with netting, to keep pets and children safe.

This means that this pair of birds had 172 balconies to choose from to make their nest, but no, they apparently like a challenge because they choose my netting fitted balcony. They have found a way to get in and out and have been flying to and from a place where they get materials for their nest.

For a couple of days Mr. Finch came to check the place out first, then he brought Mrs. Finch and apparently she approved. They were twittering up a storm, pecking their way through the netting to take a closer look and since that day have been flying in and out to prepare a home for their expected little finches.

Why do I doubt their intelligence … because I have four cats! Two of them, Charlotte and Gabriel couldn’t care less about these tiny birds, but with the other two, Mickey and Holly, the birds have their full attention. They sit on the ledge of the balcony, waiting for the couple to visit, licking their lips in anticipation.

Do the birds care? Not at all. They land on the netting, move their heads sideways to look at the cats, and proceed to come inside anyway to land on this wrath, the place they’ve chosen to make a nest.

Why couldn’t they have gone someplace else? A place more easily accessible and without the threat of cats?

When I looked online there are several ways to attract finches, two of them, placing feeders in easily accessible places and providing them with a water bowl. I didn’t do either of these things, yet to me, the finches come.


Meanwhile, don't forget to donate to the Toronto Cat Rescue. Shelter cats need your help. Any amount is appreciated but donations of $20 or more receive a tax receipt.

Donations can be made to my PayPal address at:
or at

Friday, March 31, 2017

ISIS - Behind the mask - this might make your blood boil

Special Report Senior International Correspondent: Clarissa Ward

This story irks me on so many levels. If the Belgian government knows this guy is an ISIS terrorist, why don’t they pick him up and throw his ass in prison, or better yet, kill him. What are they waiting for? For him to kill a few innocent people?

Whenever something happens, the government expresses sympathy for the families of those killed in an attack. Sometimes they even acknowledge that the attacker was known to the authorities. So why let this guy walk around freely. Why not do something before he acts?

It also bothers me that he collects welfare checks. He is a 29-year-old healthy male for heaven sake. Does Islam forbid him to work? Of course not, there are plenty of Muslim people who have jobs. But why would he work if he gets money to do nothing.

His wife, no doubt, doesn’t work either, so she collects welfare too.

And they have a son, which he named after a terrorist and mass murderer. How could the government allow that? I give you one guess with what kind of mentality that kid will grow up. It is a terrorist in the making.

If they have one kid, others will no doubt follow, which means more child support cheques.

If this guy loves Syria so much, why doesn’t the government of Belgium ship him back there? Is he perhaps too chicken to live among his own kind? Oh wait, there he will have to work for a living, do without the handy welfare checks and forego child support.

The article concludes that he is currently serving 18 months for domestic abuse. So he’s a wife beater. Why prison? Get rid of him and do his wife and the country at large a favor.

Instead of holding a microphone in front of him and making him feel important, they should have held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Problem solved.

Do good things come in threes

They say good things come in threes. I tend to believe that.

When I opened my email account this morning I found a message from Constant Content informing me that one of my articles had sold. I’ve only been with them less than a month, and only have fourteen articles online, but so far three of them have sold.

A little while later a Fed-Ex courier knocked on the door and handed me a big package. I wondered about the content. I remembered ordering some pencils online, but this package was way too big for pencils. I also ordered a cat toy, but the package was too heavy for that.

When I opened the box, I saw that it was a Vileda spin mop. A few weeks ago, I took a floor cleaning survey. At the end of the survey, it was promised that I would receive a Vileda spin mop, that I was to try it and then I would receive another survey to note my findings. 

A free Vileda mop? …  yeah right. Those things cost in the region of $40. If 100 people took the survey that would mean that Vileda was to send out 100 free mops!

But it was true. Today the mop arrived. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks promising. No more bending and wringing out a wet mop. From a couple of videos, I watched you just stick the mop in the spinner, press a pedal with your foot, and the spinner gets rid of the excess water.

If good things really do come in threes, and two of them already happened, maybe I’ll win something with the Lotto tonight. I don’t mean a free ticket for 3 right numbers, or $10 with four right number. I mean REALLY win something. 

I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, don't forget to donate to the Toronto Cat Rescue. The fundraising Bowl-a-thon takes place next month on April 29th. Shelter cats need your help and any donation is welcome. Donations of $20 or more receive a tax receipt.

Donations can be made to my PayPal address at:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Colorists beware - Scam Alert

I don’t consider myself a particularly good colorist, but apparently, I’m good enough for someone to steal my work. And I’m not the only one.

Pictured above is a page from ‘Creative Haven – Creative Cats’, colored by Rachel Pinto. The seller took this picture and made it available on t-shirts, sweatshirt, mugs, or wall art. She did not ask Rachel’s permission, nor did she get permission from Marjorie Sarnat who drew the pages of the book, or the publishing house.

The seller promoted Rachel and my work on Facebook stating that this these colorings were available for a limited time only. Unfortunately for the seller, but fortunately for Rachel and me, the prices are rather steep. The cat book only costs $4,61 on, but the seller charges $15,99 for one finished coloring page, plus $5,99 for shipping.

Both Rachel and I have tried to reach the seller via Facebook but she doesn’t respond, other than with more promotional nonsense.

So we contacted the publisher and have made them aware of what this person is doing.

If you have colorings online, you could be her next victim.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Alia Aliia Nasyrova - aka the real Rapunzel

Yesterday the media ran a story on Alia Aliia Nasyrova, nicknamed ‘The Real Rapunzel’. Her hair apparently is 2 meters long and weigh approximately 2 kg.

While some people admired her commitment, others commented that it must be quite a burden living with such long and heavy hair, while others still were of the opinion that she should donate her hair to cancer patients.

This last statement makes me so mad. I was a cancer patient myself and if anyone had asked me if I would want someone to cut their hair to benefit me, I would have said … ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Let me say this though ...

Nobody can donate anything to a cancer patient. At best, someone can donate hair to a wig-making institution such as Locks of Love, and there it gets tricky.

A few years ago I heard that Locks of Love was a scam, that they sold the hair they received to Hollywood and Europe. I decided to get to the bottom of this claim and wrote to Locks of Love.

I received an email back in which the writer confirmed that this is true, the hair received does get sold.

The writer stated that 70% of all hair received was useless and got discarded. It was either too short or chemical treated. Hair that has been permed or color treated is unsuitable for wig making.

The writer stated that a lot of ponytails just don’t contain enough hair to make a wig and combining several ponytails is not an option.

The 30% that is useable gets sold to film studios in Hollywood and theaters in Europe. Where the money goes to is anyone's guess.

The writer went on to say that cancer patients never qualify for a wig donation on grounds that after their chemo treatment, their own hair grows back.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Are cats meteorologists

All winter I’ve been bragging about the mild temperatures in Toronto. We experienced a mild November, a pleasant December, January was not nearly as cold as expected, and February – usually the coldest month – was surprisingly warm. But now, now that we’re halfway in March, now we’re getting it.

For days now we’ve suffered freezing temperatures, with the wind chill often recording -20 or even -25. My winter coat, which I haven’t worn all winter, now comes out of the closet, along with ear warmers, gloves, and a scarf. That is, if I go outside because a few times now I’ve forfeited setting foot out the door.

Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to spring. Just six more days and the new season arrives and with it hopefully warmer weather.

As for now, Toronto – the whole of Ontario actually – is under a snow alert. There’s talk of inches and inches of snow. So far I haven’t seen anything. When I look outside I see that the balcony, the parking lot below and the surrounding fields are having a light dusting of the white stuff, but that’s it. Not 12 inches like expected, barely 2 millimeters.

A few weeks ago, it was the same when rain is expected. The weather report warned of heavy rainfall and flooding, but all Toronto experienced was a light drizzle.

These meteorologists constantly get it wrong. I don’t know what their job involves, but they don’t seem to be very good at it.

Now my cats, on the other hand, they have an excellent handle on the weather situation. If they’re grooming themselves and they wash behind their ears, rain is coming. I don’t know about other cats, but I can trust my lot.

Cat owners might be familiar with this. The cat licks her front paw and then wipes the paw back to front over her ear. If it’s a single wipe, there’s nothing to worry about, but if the paw goes over the ear two, three or even four times … then there’s definitely a chance of rain.

Perhaps the institute for weather predictions should fire their meteorologists and hire a couple of cats.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Contena - scamming freelance writers

As a professional freelancer, I constantly keep an eye out for new opportunities. So when I noticed a website called Contena, I was quick to apply.

I received the response that the website currently didn’t take on any new writers, but that I would be notified when there were vacancies. True to their word, a short time later I received a notification that Contena would be “opening its doors” to 50 new writers on February 28th at 12:00.
I had high hopes, kept myself available on February 28 and visited the site for registration as soon as I got the green light.

My hopes were smashed within seconds. To become a member of Contena, writers were required to make six payments of $97. I’m not in the habit of swearing, but on this occasion I thought … WTF!

I’m a member of two other freelance sites and they never asked me for a penny. On the contrary, they pay me.
No sooner had I said no to Contena’s offer, or I received an email …

“Earn $1,000 a month. You complete our course and use Contena to land one client. This client is willing to pay $100 per article and wants 3 articles week. Each article takes you about an hour to write.”

The next day another email …

·  You are making $100 / hour.
·  You are making an additional $1,200 / month.
·  You are working 12 hours a month.
As an experienced freelance writer, I didn’t believe a word of it and neither should you. If this were true, just about everyone who can string two sentences together would quit their job and become a freelance writer. No more getting out of bed at the crack of dawn, no more commuting, no more braving the elements, no more working for peanuts.
Cortena promises people who work only 12 hours a month to make $1,200. Can you image how much one would make if you were to apply yourself from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.!
This is all bogus of course. Clients don’t pay writers $100 for an article. Most clients offer 3 to 5 cents per word or $20 to $25 for a 500-word article.
Established writers might get as much as $50 for an article, but that is still a far cry from the $100 Cortena promises.
Cortena itself is doing very well though. Imagine if 50 writers fell for their scam, that is $97 x 6 x 50. That is $29,100 and all they had to do was set up a website, make some promises and then wait for unsuspecting, naive writers to fall for their scam.
Whoever visits the Contena website will see that they have plenty of jobs available, but all of them are bogus. Click on a link, any link, and you are forced to register and pay. After you've paid, the jobs disappear, supposedly taken by other writers. When I asked some to the point questions, I never heard from Kevin (the founder of the scam site) again.
If you’re a writer, far better to become a member of Constant Content or Crowd Content. You don’t have to pay a penny and you’ll have plenty work to keep you busy.