Another Duke’s Mixture

A Duke’s Mixture blog is one containing a few totally unrelated items, so please bear with me.

Unrelated item # 1:

This morning while getting dressed on the bench in the closet, I saw a genuine antique staring back at me through the sides of our plastic sewing kit. In that moment, the thought that occurred to me is this: A GenZ’er and probably most Millennials wouldn’t have the foggiest notion of what that is.

And what was that ancient item? My mother’s darning knob. The frame for Evie’s pedal-powered Singer Sewing Machine had four drawers. One was for spools of thread and bobbins, one for scissors, measuring tape, and pin cushions, one for buttons, and one for the darning knob.

I remember my mother sitting at the kitchen table and using the darning knob to repair my father’s socks. Does anybody repair socks anymore? No, we simply toss them. People who endured the Great Depression didn’t toss anything if it could be fixed.

And that’s when I remembered one other thing about my mother’s sewing equipment. Her darning needle was so much bigger than all the other ones, it stuck out of her pin cushion like a sore thumb.

Unrelated item # 2:

A week or so ago I wrote about finding a baby bird stranded on the pool deck. I moved him out of the sun and into a shady spot. I also put down some bird seed and made sure there was readily available water nearby.

For the first day or two he scurried out of my way as I passed while doing my steps. A couple of days later, he could flap his way up into the raised flower beds. A day or so after that he made it as far as the bird feeders in the lower branches of the trees, but I could also see that without fully grown tail feathers he wasn’t very adept at flying.

We feed birds. We have a couple of seed containers as well as a couple of suet stations. What I started noticing is that, whenever I passed by the bird feeding tree, all the other birds would go zooming off, but Mr. Short-Tail, as I have come to call him, stayed put. He’d watch me go by, but he wouldn’t leave.

This past Sunday I was sitting on the porch when I realized both of the suet containers were empty. When I went out to fill them, he sat on the other one watching me. As soon as I filled the first one, he jumped over to it and stayed there while I filled the second one from only a foot or two away.

That’s when I dialed up my cell phone’s camera app. The photo you see here was taken from all of six inches away, and Mr. Short-Tail didn’t move a muscle.

After the photo shoot, I noticed that he stayed right where he was—on top of the suet container. In the past, I had seen bigger birds chasing him away. This time, he puffed up his wings and told them in no uncertain terms, “This is MY suet.”

The little guy’s flight pattern is still a bit wonky, but I’m sure it’ll improve as his tail feathers get longer.

In the meantime, I can tell you that, although I’m no wildlife photographer, this one really made me happy.

Semi-related item #3:

After sending out the first post on Mr. Short-Tail, someone sent me a note calling me a “tree hugger.” I’m not sure I qualify since the bird in question isn’t a northern spotted owl. .

However, later on, as I sat thinking about that comment, these words came to mind:

“I’m not a tree hugger
Or a tree hugger’s son …”

Which immediately brought me back to a tongue twister I learned in back in college.

I’m not a fig plucker
Or a fig plucker’s son
But I’ll pluck figs
‘Till the fig plucker comes.

Try saying that one three times in a hurry. If that doesn’t end up making you giggle, I don’t know what will.

PS. I understand that when photos are included, some folks can’t see them. If that happens, just send me a note at, and I’ll send them via email.