Friday, 29 May 2015

Big Town



The watery sun tempted me to strive for the big town today so placing several shiny shillings in my pocket I hurried of for the bus.  The journey was slightly longer than usual as the early twentieth century roads struggle to cope with twenty first century traffic, especially as Farmer Jones on his tractor or his wife on the Landrover doddle along the road with no sense of hurry about them.  On top of this the stupidity of speeding motorists who consider crashing into any oncoming traffic, motorbikes, cyclists or horses a sensible thing to do when all it does it kill one or two bend your car and cause massive hold ups for miles along the way beats me.  Today we only had a tractor or two hindering progress but come harvest time huge machines jump from field to field grabbing crops and annoying bus passengers.  
I made it however with only a few minutes delay and immediately sped for the charity shops, I, you see, was after a new summer type jacket on the cheap.   One such shop out of many investigated offered the perfect jacket!  A darkish gray corduroy jacket in immaculate condition.  One thing spoiled it all, it was one size too small!  I replaced it unwillingly and noted the 'half price' ticket reading £2:50.  I would gladly have paid £5!
The rest of them offered nothing for me and a rushed chase through the chain stores discovered only hugely expensive items near the mark and a disappointing array of summer apparel aimed at the colour blind and stupid!  How anyone could wear most of what was on offer let alone pay the price required had me heading back to then charity shops.  I note that 'Harris Tweed' jackets were available also in several shades, for a mere £195.  I could buy a house on Harris for that!
I returned to the crowds who walked slowly in front of me, turned right or left with no consideration, blocked the path while staring, gossiping, seeking directions or just lost in space.  With my usual grace I kicked them out the way.



Naturally the watery sun had left us with watery rain.  This pleased me no end so I climbed back on the bus, having been caught between two stops when it approached, and rested my now aching hulk on the top deck.  The timing was good as no kids were on this time.  Half term sees mum drag the brats onto buses to share the pleasure of their company.  I found sharing the pleasure easier when they stay at home.  Cogitating on the near miss with the jacket I pondered as to why jackets suitable for men of a certain age cannot be obtained these days.  Thousands of other types are available, like the one I was looking for last year and could not find, but cord jackets cannot be obtained outside of charity shops.  That's at least three times this has happened to me, good job I am not one to complain.


Lashing rain came down so hard at one point it began to leak through the roof of the bus.  Quite how it got in i could not see but the few of us up there managed to avoid it.  This is the end of May, just wait till 'Blooming June' arrives and then we will see rain!  
We turned off the road to trundle through a small addition to a small village. This comprises several streets of 1960's style houses, three or four different types on view, most of which featured large windows to let in light and all of which wore net curtains to keep it out!  I cringed at these little boxes.  These are in themselves nice wee houses right enough, probably nothing in themselves worth grumbling at, but it is the number of them, in all the streets, the sheer boring nature of developments like this make my skin crawl!  
Now I realise many have old folks wasting away their lives here, surely life has more to offer?  Others might have young families growing up in safety, but it's so boring!  This small, neat estate may well be safe, secure, and near to town but it would not suit me, or indeed most of us.  
I realise also that the lives behind the lace curtains may not be so quiet, wife swapping, demon worship, psychopathic killers, and would be accountants dwell in them thar places.  Several of the neighbours will not talk to one another, some are alcoholics, worse still some are train spotters whose anoracks can be seen drying out in the back gardens as we pass.  
I was glad the bus moved through without stopping, just in case one of this lot wished to get on!  The sight of proper houses dating back several hundred years, maybe more depending on the condition of the paint on the house, was a delight and heartening after the sheer boredom of such housing estates. 

No excitement tomorrow, just two cup finals to watch as I rest my bones.

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Queen & Austerity



Yesterday saw the opening of Parliament, the UK parliament, the one that fiddles their expenses and housing allowances at Westminster.  This is one of those 'pomp and circumstance' days so beloved of tourists and 'Daily Mail' readers.  Here the aged outfits are brought out, the Lords, the Queens speech is always read out by her in the House of Lords, the Lords dress up in borrowed ermine and fill the chamber, ensuring they have signed in to get their £300 a day attendance money.  The parade through parliament, cries of "Hats off strangers" and other obscure aged ceremonial lead up to the Queen sitting on the throne where she is presented with the speech drawn up for her by the fawning smug David Cameron.  It is a wonder royals have not at this point in times past muttered a variety of comments regarding the content therein, it is clear they have not always agreed with them.  One would like to have been at the private meetings with between the queen and the mad Baroness Margaret Thatcher.  She did not exactly despise the woman but clearly indicated she disagreed with her in many ways, slapping her in public was probably going a bit beyond royal protocol however!  
The speech which is read is written on fancy parchment and contains details of all the present governments political chicanery for the coming session.  This wish list sometimes succeeds in turning into law, sometimes it fails.  As she reads it is important to watch how she resists turning up her nose at certain sections of the speech and where she turns with eyebrows raised and looks to the heavens.  This usually indicates a question has arisen in her mind.  The manner in which she spits on her hands and then rubs down her dress after shaking hands with the Prime Minister also indicates something according to royal watchers.  
An interesting picture came my way today.



This got me thinking, while the 'hat' is worth considerably more than the price quoted it has to be remembered that this speech is indeed about 'austerity.'  Chancellor George Osborne has decided to save some billions from the budget, mostly by robbing the poorest, while ignoring the £120 billion dodged tax that his friends take out of the country year by year.  A question then arises as to austerity and royalty.  Whether we require one or ought to be a republic is always an argument that can lead nowhere but as we have a monarchy should they not participate in austerity?  It is understood Charles has plans when he becomes King to reduce greatly the outgoings of the royal house.  This is not it appears going down well within the family.  Millions are spent by the royal house, much on the nations duties, launching ships, meeting dignitaries and hangers on, selling the nation abroad, opening supermarkets and selling programmes at football matches, all well and good for the nations traditions.  However other monarchs have cheaper programmes, less million pound houses and fewer holidays abroad, this Princess Beatrice, whoever she is, has had 15 already this year, could she not get a job at 'Poundland' or something?  Prince William, the next in line after Charles, the one with his mothers brain and a wife to match, he has three houses, each costing the nation millions and all having been done up for him at around three to four million pound a time!  Does he need three homes he does not use?  Interestingly I have just remembered, the staff in royal houses are not well paid, mostly gay, and threatened strike action recently because many were being dumped and thrown out of the house that goes with the job, a very caring employer is the queen!  
If a woman with a million pound hat can talk about austerity on TV I suggest she begins at home putting right her staff situation, selling off needless houses to rich Russians and Chinese who appear to buy anything that moves today as well as line the pockets of the Conservative Party, and then cut down all needless expenditure on that which the nation cannot afford. 
If we have 'food banks' the royals can have less holidays. 

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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Busy





Busy watching the UEFA Cup Final so you will have to make do 
with this poor picture of a wee flower.

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Tuesday Repose



Repose it is indeed as after a busy morning I need to place my blubber filled hulk into a chair and do nothing that taxes the intellect.  This I hear you cry should not take too much bother, and I find myself unable to disagree with that opinion at this moment in time.  
In this neck of the woods it is half term holiday and the schoolkids are filling the streets.  They also filled the museum this morning as we put on little happenings for them.  When I arrived I had not realised this was half term week, I thought it was next week, so I had to prepare for the crowds.  This would have been easier had my colleague turned up but he also was off this week, indeed two others were also leaving me at one end and her who must be obeyed at the other.
The shortage of materials means we must limit the numbers of kids, many have booked themselves in, most have previously paid, but as always others turn up on the day and we hope somebody drops out.  So while several happy mums and kids went through to the event (making volcanoes indeed!) I was met with several who were disappointed.  Hard hearted folks just say 'Too bad' but I felt rotten for the kids as they were a wee bit down, as were mum and a dad or two.  However as the sun shone for once many who bought the whole week ticket (£5 a session or £7 for a whole weeks events) did not bother to turn up, or indeed tell us they were not coming as some of them usually do, so I could send all my disappointed down to the other end.
The stress is killing!
The folks were good about this on the whole but one or two were peeved.  Once they got down there, cutting and pasting, filling and painting, making mess and having fun (mums and dads covered in paint also) they were all delighted and no complaints received.  Most will be back tomorrow!  
The exploding volcanoes (don't ask me how) were used last year and as popular then as now.  The kids thought it great and most took them home.  
Add to this the other customers passing through, the impossibility of leaving the front when I needed to several times, and shop customers actually spending money I found no time through the day to weary.  But I was weary at the end.  By the time I left after helping clear up, more paint on tables than on volcanoes, all was quiet.  How do teachers cope?  How do mums cope I wonder?  I canny mind what it was like to have kids running around, that was so long ago, and in the days of yore I had energy.  In fact several grans and granddads were in today being led by the nose by children.  The men especially were on a lead!  They will be delighted when the week is over!
Now, back to WW2...



Monday, 25 May 2015

Laurel & Hardy





It is said that one or two Laurel & Hardy films are to be seen in UK cinemas sometime during this year.  I should think so too!  In spite of their age they are masterpieces of comedy, featuring many tricks learnt in Music Hall and Vaudeville.  Some call it mere slapstick yet the greatest UK comedy moment the people chose was a piece of slapstick from 'Only Fools and Horses.'  What is funny, if done well, is always funny. The films appear slow to us today but remember they had to do the same film several times, in a variety of languages! French, German and I think Italian.  No dubbing them so they just remade it each time reading idiot boards.  A Class Act!


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Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Literate Evening




'Ware Tomato Juice
An accident happened to my brother Jim
When somebody threw a tomato at him ---
Tomatoes are juicy and don't hurt the skin,
But this one was specially packed in a tin.

**********
Mary had a little lamb
Her father killed it dead
And now it goes to school with her
Between two lumps of bread.

**********

The rain it raineth on the just
and on the unjust fella.
But mostly on the just because
The unjust steals, the justs umbrella.

**********

Responsibility 

‘Tis easy enough to be twenty-one:
‘Tis easy enough to marry;
But when you try both games at once
‘Tis a bloody big load to carry.

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 Here lies the body of Emily White,
She signalled left and then turned right.

 *********

 Here lie the bones of Elizabeth Charlotte
Born a virgin, died a harlot.
She was aye a virgin at seventeen
A remarkable thing in Aberdeen.

*********

Erected to the memory of
John Macfarlane

Drowned in the waters of Leith
By a few affectionate friends.

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"Ozymandias"
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Percy Byshe Shelley
 
*********

 The elephant is a bonnie bird.
    It flits from bough to bough.
    It makes its nest in a rhubarb tree
    And whistles like a cow.   

********

Elegy in a Country Churchyard

    THE men that worked for England
    They have their graves at home:
    And birds and bees of England
    About the cross can roam.

    But they that fought for England,
    Following a falling star,
    Alas, alas for England
    They have their graves afar.

    And they that rule in England,
    In stately conclave met,
    Alas, alas for England
    They have no graves as yet.

 G. K. Chesterton




Friday, 22 May 2015

A Spectacle at the Museum



This morning I trudged round to Specsavers to collect the new glasses.  An attractive and efficient young blonde lass ensured both pairs were the correct ones and that they fitted correctly.  She also resisted somewhat too willingly my invitation to 'do my ironing,' not the first woman in this town to react this way.  
The one pair are for outside, these are good and also react to sunlight.  Now this appears to be somewhat needless in the UK but I find myself screwing my eyes up on those occasions when the sun does shine.  Naturally the dim gray lenses make me look a bit like Roy Orbison (ask your mum kids).  The other pair are more difficult.  I can see perfectly up to six inches from my nose, after that it fails somewhat.  I have glasses for the laptop but when looking at the TV or other side of the room I can see poorly.  There fore I wanted a third pair for in between.  This is however not allowed these days in case I use them for driving!  Pah!  So I got 'varifocal' lenses which in theory allow me to see the laptop and the other side of the mess that is my home.  I am not sure I like them.  To see properly the eye must hit exactly on the spot of the lens, in real life this is difficult.  We will give it a go and  see what we can see, or not see as is the case.  
Never, since I got my first pair of glasses when about twelve years old have I ever got them right!  I do manage to make a right er, spectacle of myself in opticians.  What appears right at the time appears not quite right later.  Bah!  The staff were good however, a huge number appear to work there and the service is good so I cannot complain.  The actual optician, or whatever name they go under now, was an excellent lass, very competent, vary helpful and knew her stuff.  It is always me that wonders if I did the right thing.  Now I feel the word 'Bifocal' should have come to mind when being examined, that might have been a better idea.  "Shut the gate, the horse has bolted!"


The order came through the other day to report at eleven sharp to the museum today on pain of death, at least.  Knowing my masters and having seen glimpses of strange and savage medieval punishment instruments stored therein I dutifully obeyed.  The purpose was to have a group photograph taken in connection with an upcoming event.  This event I tried to avoid but a quick Chinese burn from the boss enabled me to willingly accept the invitation.  Therefore I arrived in good time, spoke kindly to one another also on the premises and sought out the woman in charge.  Naturally something went wrong.  The photographer was arriving from the local newspaper, except he was based fifteen miles away.  Naturally he was called to something else and a feeble excuse was given us.  As I headed for the door I was lassoed back and forced to work checking the preliminary panels for the exhibition, this at least was worth while as I found two spelling mistakes.  The foto I did not wish to be in however.  It is one thing to take pictures, another to take pictures of people but I see my role as in the background where I belong, preferably in a cupboard in the corner.  However we must be pictured for publicity she cries!  Publicity is not something I seek, I mean what if the police see it for a start?  No, no, let me hide and put the lassies forward.  No luck, Miss Bossy Boots found the museum camera and, after three attempts, managed to obtain a picture she things good enough for the paper.  I had turned round but a sharp elbow brought me back into the picture so to speak.  Thereafter it was back to the panels and searching for mistakes.  No more indeed and they do look very good I say!  
Eventually I was freed by the simple expedient of slipping out the back door when the back was turned.  At home I discovered I had another long note to add to what I was (badly) working on so I made the decision to have lunch and fall asleep.
I chose wisely I say.

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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Diary Study



Most of today has been spent in the war.  I was reading through a diary we have been given to take out the specific local items.  The writer spent his time during the war on cal as one who attended bomb incidents salvaging people and items and making good buildings where possible.  He had a reasonably busy time on occasions.  The above is the result of one of two large bombs, possibly parachute mines, which arrived near ten one night.  Huge damage, three killed.  The diary details incidents he attended, most regarding the work required to put roofs back on and suchlike, but references to daily life give an inkling of what it was like to live through those days.  
Having read through and selected my bits I have just merged them with what notes I had of the official 'incident reports.'  Therefore when he mentions an air raid I can sometimes add what actually happened. Often the result was bombs on open fields or reasonably safe areas.  Still the fact that every so often a plane or planes might pass over when you slept could be waring on the nerves.  
Add to this the encroaching rationing of daily items, the limits of freedom, work forced upon the individual, and what in fact was a dictatorial state until the war was won, all these things add up after a few years.
Diaries, when you are allowed to read them, give an interesting insight into the writer.  His personality comes through and his opinions appear even when these are not being forced upon us due to space. I think I could like him!  As I wander around town I now consider the repairs that must have been his work.  Few would realise when looking at some houses how damaged they were during the conflict, they appear fit and proper now.  This man can consider he done well by his fellow man.
Now I am wondering what to do with this.  Should I make it into an item and write it up?  Does the boss wish me to leave it with her?  I do not know, neither does she!  So I leave it for now and will find out tomorrow as I have been ordered to report for something or other.   

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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A Foreign Army



We had a Roman Army marching through the playground today.  Led by a Centurion who bullied the troops, marched them around, forced them to drill, and even made them defend a barrage from violent teachers!  
They all appeared happy enough!  
This is part of the school curriculum which now takes a longer view of history than before.  Kids have to learn about Romans, Anglo Saxons and Victorians as well as more modern history.  Actually I think they also have to learn about the Normans and medieval times also surely!  Scots history, a more accurate view of the world, is decided in Scotland and will already give a better view of the world, just look at me!    
This was our first Roman teaching day, the Auxiliary Soldier was magnificent.  The kids on parade were full of smiles and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.  This is an excellent way in which to educate kids on the days of long ago.  When they are happy they learn, when miserable they forget the good things.  This lot will remember today.


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Monday, 18 May 2015

Quick Moving People




Busy day today.  Reading, writing, and messing about with the tiles on the bathroom floor.  In doing that I managed to set the radiator valve leaking (don't ask) and now it will not stop gently dripping every so often.  I ache everywhere and worse will arrive tomorrow when I struggle stiff necked to the museum.  Bah!
However I just came across this wonderful piece of filming.  Professionally done and well worth a look!  Part two follows on from part one.  Very good indeed!

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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Busy Sunday



I didn't see much of this today.  Apparently there was a lot of it about but I could not see much of it.  As I slouched down the road to St Paul's I noticed it in between dodging the Sunday drivers.  It was there above me but as the cold wind was on my back and I was hurrying slowly along I did not take time to look.  If I look up I note someone always removes the pavement from beneath me or sticks a kerbstone in front of me and then enjoys the sight of my prone body flattened on the pavement.  On the way back after a jolly good morning I met the gale force wind and again avoided looking up and catching frostbite.  So that was the closest to seeing blue sky all day.
The reason was simple, football!
As I microwaved a healthy dinner of something or other I set up to watch the English Conference play-off.  However some Italian stuff showing a feeble A.C. Milan came first, how the mighty have fallen, and then the English game.  However at three thirty I had to leave these big galloots kicking lumpsout of one another and move to Ibrox where Rangers and Queen of the South played football almost as it ought to be played.  The almost arises because Rangers won which has depressed Scottish football fans everywhere.  Gallant Queens lost in spite of their talents.
So the next game arrived within minutes just leaving me time to cook my tea and settle down for Alloa v Forfar Athletic.  For years the term 'Athletic' has been a bit of a joke around Forfar but no longer, leading three one from the first leg all they had to do was stop Alloa scoring.  They failed and lost four three on aggregate.  However I enjoyed watching it as they slugged it out in the rain over Clackmannanshire, indeed so enjoyable was this that even Wullie Collum as referee could not do anything wrong, his decisions were correct in my view and that is a shock!  He is not known as 'Gollum' for nothing!


So now all has finished I look out the window and high above the clouds were gathering for the rain that promises to cover us all week.  So I saw the blue sky at last.  Naturally as I write this it has gone and darkness creeps towards us as the sun dips below the horizon and the clouds join together to form one large gray cloud.  
As I look to the filthy gray sheets that once were white when I put them on the bed all those days ago, or is that weeks, I note that Australia will be heralding the dawn in the next hour or so.  How typical of them to wish to be first at the bar!  
A couple I knew went to China in 1935 as missionaries right in the middle of the country.  To contact home somewhere in south London a letter would have to be sent.  This would travel by boat for around a month arriving at the destination somewhat crumpled.  The contents would be digested (by this I mean read, not eaten), understood and answered.  The answer would board ship, probably at London or Southampton docks, and cruise its way slowly back to Chinaland.  Within two months, or maybe three communication would have been achieved!  Marco Polo would have been happy!
Today a phone call from the middle of China, if not interrupted by the secret police, would bring two people together in minutes.  An email would inform over vast distances, and some use 'Skype' for face to face contact over the same distances, how the world for us has changed and improved!  I never cease to marvel that contact is so easy today.  Rich folks travel these distances within twenty four hours, not months, however I still take an hour and a half to get fifteen miles into the big towns by bus!

Australia are you there?  USA are you there?  Operator, operator, I've been cut off!


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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Saturday Reading



I find myself entranced at the moment by peoples experiences growing up during the war.  For the exhibition, whenever it is ready, the lass interviewed several locals and I am reading through the transcripts in an attempt to aid deciding what should be broadcast to the public.  Headphones will be provided for the public to listen to the peoples experiences and these are intriguing.
Obviously they were children at the time of varying ages and the greater world was outside their ken but the war touched them in various ways.  There was the loss of dad to the war perhaps, taking part as a young man in the Home Guard ('Dad's Army') or simply living under the flightpath of an airfield checking the numbers of the returning bombers and wondering about the ones that were missing.  John of course was always adventurous, that is why he and other kids ran to an unexploded land mine, one dropped by parachute, and shared some of the parachute between them.  Dad was not so keen and John was informed of his mistake.  Parachute  bombs could cause huge damage for a large area around.  
Memories fade with time, as some of you will be well aware, what was I saying...anyway memories fade in time but the gist of the experience does not.  Emotions remain, especially when noise from explosions is great also, fear aiding memory then right enough, and the emotion often remains long after exact memory has departed.  Double checking does show how much of memory is correct even when exact details were not clear at the time.  Specific events can never be forgotten, such as a plane low over the houses shooting and killing passersby, or the long wait at the station for dad to return on leave and he does not come, that remains fresh in some.  
The impression given by some is that war for kids was boring in that trips away were not allowed, sweets and food was in short supply and dad was often away from home, mum too sometimes, otherwise it was a lot of fun!  The kids had adventures, parties from Americans at the airfields, chewing gum aplenty, and fun with things dropped from service personnel, often things they should not have touched!  Children can have fun with a cardboard box if need be and war, if they are fed well enough, will not stop that.  

The sun shines tonight, the kids are enjoying Saturday pleasures at home, well fed and wrapped up in some television rubbish no doubt.  However in far flung parts of the globe other children suffer war and we no little, and care less, about them.  They hunger and thirst while bombs drop, although if fed they will find fun somewhere.  It is too easy to forget the troubles elsewhere when our sun shines. 

Seven transcripts read, each takes almost half an hour and the time flies by but not when I have football to watch!  I am so glad the season will be over soon, I need a rest!  Seven to read and half way through.  Quite how these folks have made it into their eighties and nineties I know not.  On the other hand I suspect some of these will make it into the hundreds yet!


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Friday, 15 May 2015

Friday Reading



Little happened today.  This was because I woke up asleep.  Until I had my siesta later in the day the mind did not work.  Then I had to saunter to the museum to pick up the reading material for the WW2 exhibition.  This will be all about the town during the war so I now have to read through all the missives from those who have recorded their memories for us.  I have six of them here to read through and this with several football matches to watch this weekend! Time is so short! 
One of our men has appeared in the 'Daily Mail' of all things.   
During the war he was evacuated to a village close by.  There he was left and lost touch with his mother. He blamed this on her having eleven kids and no money.  Edmonton in north London at the time was not a wealthy area and feeding the kids was a problem.  The 'Daily Mail' story gives the tale of how he got in touch with some distant relatives recently, the first contact since the war, and this explained much about how he was left in Essex.  
He himself handled things well and successfully lived out his life, writing a book on his adventures, and is very happily married to a lovely wife.  Dumped he may have been but he has done well, a cheery good man to meet.  

My attempts to catch a picture of the birds on the feeder has been hard work. For one thing the Starlings still annoy me, one just flew in the window instead of going the other way, bounced off the front window and squawked his way back out off the kitchen.  This has happened in the past with young birds, not adults. It must have been a she.  At least I know know a Robin has also joined the feeder queue but refuses to let me take a picture.  Standing hiding behind the fridge holding a camera for hours is not much fun I can tell you!    

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