Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I think I would like... go around the world and just look at birds.

I have a friend who posts the most beautiful pictures of birds on Facebook...ever!  I've always thought the birds I've known since a child have been marvelously beautiful and have been happy with that. However, I now know there are some birds out there that I can't even begin to describe.

They are in shades of blues even Crayola can't come to design.  There are yellows of which even the sun is surely jealous.  Oh, and the reds range from creamy rose pedal to fire engine.  Then there are greens, orchids and oranges, too.  I imagine the Angels back in the day drawing up the designs for these creatures, then going to God and saying "Hey, Boss what do you think?"  Then God, working his magic deciding on the size, shape, final colors they should be and putting them exactly where in our world he thinks they will best survive.


We have the Banded Broadbill, Black-faced Dacnis, Silver-eared Mesia, White-winged Fairy Wren, Motmot and the Laughing Thrush.  Seriously these birds live around the world and I've never seen a one of them.  I want to, thank goodness someone has, otherwise I would not even know these creatures existed.  Then think about their names...White winged Fairy Wren; Laughing Thrush; obviously somebody thought the Wren looked like a Fairy (it kind of does) and that the Thrush must make a sound like laughter, how cool is that?

Sadly I have to ponder our feathered friends we carelessly allowed to become extinct, certain pigeons, ducks, woodpeckers, quails and probably the most famous the Dodo bird.  And, what about the California Condor, at least we are making an effort to help this species survive, hopefully it is not too late. Thankfully now there are various dedicated organizations making great strides in the effort to keep species all kinds alive.  I applaud them all.

But, I digress.  The point is, I can kind of take a trip around the world to see and enjoy these feathered friends because (like my friend) I joined (liked) a group called BIRDS Community that posts pictures of birds on Facebook.  I started my trip this morning, first stop Malaysia. I got to view my very first bird, (oooooh, aaaaaa) it is the beautiful female Banded Broadbill.  I wonder where I will be tomorrow?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

And, there it sat...

...on my lattice-work gate.

One day last week I was in my living room and glanced out one of the windows and saw a rather large, dark brown blob sitting on one of the posts of my lattice-work fencing closing off my patio.  "What the heck?" I thought.

I walked slowly, closer to the window and made out the shape of a rather large bird.  By now my curiosity had piqued and I walked up to the window.  There, about twenty feet away was a hawk.  He sat almost like a statue for quite a while, then began hopping about my lawn art and back again to the lattice-work post.  He made himself quite at home.  I watched in wonder, studying him closely, color, size, anything that might help me recognize what kind of hawk he was.

As I went to get one of my bird books I realized all the other birds that my neighbor feeds had become very quiet...not one single bird could be heard...'smart birdies' I think to myself.  By the time I got back to the window the hawk was sitting complacently on the post, turning its head ever alert for other bird activity...there was none.

I was glad the hawk felt so at home because it gave me the opportunity to study it quite closely.  I noticed it had bright yellow eyes, with black pupils.  Its chest was mottled white and sunny, warm tan and the tail was banded with broad dark brown stripes.  By comparing the bird with the pictures in my bird book I'm pretty sure this was a Cooper's Hawk, not just from the features, but also the size; the book stating the mature hawk is 14 to 20 inches in length.  This bird was definitely over the 14 inch size, but nowhere close to 20.  Therefore, because the coloring was so bright I figured this was probably a young male, more mature than a fledgling but by no means an adult.

As time went by I think once or twice it caught sight of me, but was not at all intimidated he simply sat or hopped about, patiently waiting for a meal... finally showed up.

All the birds remained quiet, when suddenly something flew into my peripheral vision, uh-oh. That hawk flew so quickly the tiny bird hardly had a chance to land on the ground before the hawk was upon it, and flew away with lunch.  So much for the survival of the fittest and the circle of life.

Several days later I saw my neighbor who feeds the birds and told her about the hawk.  She frequently allows her cats to sun on her deck and although I'm sure the hawk was not large enough or strong enough to carry one of her kitties off, it sure could inflict some damage in an encounter. However, poor birdies...there's not much she and I can do about them.

This was a wonderful experience...well except for the lunch thingy...because I love all things nature and I'd never had the pleasure of seeing a hawk so 'up close and personal',  I'm thankful for the honor and privilege.  I can't help but wonder if the hawk will return, on one hand I would love that...on the other...poor birdie.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Something to ponder

This morning while I was reading I came across this sentence; "In an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made."  I found that statement to be quite profound and that got me to thinking in what way was I wonderfully made?  I had to go back to my beginning, a l-o-n-g time ago.  It was true, I was wonderfully made.  When I was born I had ten fingers and ten toes, each one had a tiny fingernail.  I've been told I had very little hair and that what I did have was blond and not easy to see. I'm sure my mother was reassured it would eventually be 'see-able'.  As I grew I was reasonably healthy, except for my tonsils which eventually had to come out, thereafter I seldom had much about which to complain.

As time moved on I found it was indeed awe-inspiring that I managed to escape any serious damage from injury I succeeded to inflicted upon myself...not that I didn't try.  Considering the flying leaps I used to take from the family swing and the bent fingers I permanently have from having mush balls bounce off the tips of my middle fingers. And, I've broken one of my little toes, have bits of gravel still embedded in my left knee from falling off a bicycle and scars from run-ins with blackberry brambles.

I've received bonks on my head from open cupboard doors and kitchen counters from leaning over to close to said counters.  I've sprained ankles and wrists and cracked a couple of ribs from a horrible cough that would simply not go away.  Oh, and occasionally, painfully, I've pinched fingers in various objects.  I think you'll agree I've definitely not been kind to my awe-inspiring body.

However, how great is it that it is wonderfully made?  I've actually survived all of the above with very little physical evidence of the havoc I have inflicted upon myself.  I think it is fantastic my body has been made to regenerate and heal itself, and except for a little first-aid, my body has done all the work all by itself...face it...that is wonderful.  And, yes I definitely find that to be awe-inspiring, although I didn't give that the respect I should have over the years simply because it took till this morning for a simple 'awe-inspiring' sentence to call that to my attention.

I've no idea what the future holds for my awe-inspiring, wonderfully made body, I just hope I treat it better than I have in the past.  I'm going to try to be more careful in physical activities and not try to do foolish things.  I'm going to try to keep off my excess weight and be more careful about what I eat (hopefully).  I'm going to try to get more sleep, keep my mind active and set aside time for myself.

In the end I want to be able to look back and ask, "Hey body, did I do you proud?"

"Oh, and thanks for an awe-inspiring, wonderful life."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dutch Bros

Okay, I know I've been behind on many things, and Dutch Bros has been one of those things.  I've been a fan of and visitor to Starbucks for years and years so I'm not really THAT far behind the times. And, I'd heard of Dutch Bros and have seen their little kiosks around but never had the opportunity to go to one until several weeks back. I'd been told I would not be disappointed and believe me I was not.  I had a great coffee drink, and I was told their fruit smoothies were likewise fantastic.

Yesterday my granddaughter came to spend the day and she suggested we go to McDonald's for lunch because there is a Dutch Bros kiosk halfway between McDonald's and where I live.  Her thinking was, we could eat but not drink while having lunch and then stop at Dutch Bros on the way home for some smoothies. have to consider...we were walking...wanting to go through a drive-through which in itself a very unusual thing to do.  So, there we stood next to the building while a customer in a vehicle was being served; all the while I'm hoping another vehicle would not pull in behind us. One did not.

It was finally our turn, one of the girls asked what we wanted and I said six smoothies in different flavors. She seemed astounded, but the team worked together and in a jiffy our order was complete.  I could tell she was curious as to what I was going to do with all the smoothies so I explained I was going to attempt an experiment and freeze the smoothies then use them as 'desserts'.  I also told her if it worked I would be back to do this all over again.  I think we might have been the best sale of their day.

When we got home my granddaughter and I each had a smoothie as we watch a movie.

After my granddaughter left I went to the kitchen and pulled the remaining smoothies out of the refrigerator, pried off the tops, then took a spoon and mixed the whipped cream in with the rest of the fruity part of the smoothies. Finally, I sat them in the freezer and hoped for the best.

This morning I checked the freezer and discovered the smoothies froze without the cream separating and rising to the top.  Curious I took one out and scraped a spoon across the top of it. The consistency was harder than sherbet, but still very tasty, however, I think rather than treating it as an ice cream treat I'm simply going to set the smoothie on a counter for about half an hour, and slowly drink it as it was intended. I like this idea especially with summer on the way.

Oh, Frankie just had a terrific thought...she wonders what a shot of vodka or my favorite whiskey would do for this tasty treat...hmmm...oh yes, I'm...we're...going to like this summer treat.  Thanks Dutch Bros.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


I hated school.  I know, that's a terrible thing to confess, and sets a bad example for all the grand-kids and great-grand-kids in my life. Most certainly I should never, ever admit this to them or any other kid I happen to come across sitting for hours at a dining-room table trying to get through the evening's homework.  But...I do...and sometimes with graphic illustrations making faces and disgusting noises.  I not only tell them I hated school, I show them my report cards that I've saved all these years that prove I was a C-D-F generally all-around lousy student.

My mother knew I hated school, but she insisted she paid taxes so that I could have a 'free' education and I was going to go to school. No, she would not allow me to play hookey and no I could not pretend to be ill. I had to go to school...."it was a law".  So, I went trudging through snow, sleet and hail (just like the postman used to he has a truck) five days a week to the bus stop blocks away.  There has never a student so thrilled to get a diploma and walk out of school for the very last time than myself.

However, here's the thing.  Now that I am not 'required' to learn, I love learning.  Seldom a day goes by that I am not learning something new. I think sometimes learning, like love, is wasted on the young.  We don't really appreciate either until we are older and WISER.  So, most days I can be found my nose buried in a book, or thumbing through my 'big book' dictionary, or researching something on the wonderful Internet. I have been known to explore the universe or to look at the most tiny insect under a magnifying glass.  I often wish I had a microscope.

I enjoy taking on-line educational classes.  I've taken 13 so far, dabbling in writing, law and even beginning French.  I keep checking in with Auburn University that has numerous six week classes in a multitude of courses.  They are quite reasonable in cost which is fantastic for someone on a limited budget.  True, they are pass/no pass classes and you don't actually get 'credits' toward college degree, still they look pretty good on a resume.  And, they are fun times, fun times.

But I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is, that there is hope for any mediocre student, who dislikes a structured classroom.  Being 'self-taught' can be a brilliant way to become educated, and as you excel in the things you enjoy you will find the knowledge attained stays with you.  I've discovered as I've moved through life and my interests have changed my wanting to learn has given me knowledge in a multitude of subjects I'd have otherwise missed.  Considering the age in which we live, there are no boundaries to learning, the box we build for ourselves and wanting to stay safely inside its walls is the only thing that keeps us from further educating ourselves.

The thing is, even the youngest child expects something to 'happen' every day, and thereby learn from that 'happening'.  Happenings never stop no matter what your age so GO, EXPLORE, and ask...Who, what, when, where and why?  You will be amazed at what you will learn.

The above does not mean that you should not attend is a privilege...and a diploma or GED is helpful no matter what course you chose to take in life.  You don't have to like or necessarily enjoy school...but stick with it...then get out there...and educate yourself in the things you love and enjoy.
Remember, start where you are, with what you have; then go make something of it. NEVER BE SATISFIED!

Monday, May 9, 2016

I'm disgusted with myself

I've been trying so hard to stay on track with my writing. No joke, I really REALLY have.  I think about it every single day.  I talk it over with Muse all the time.  Frankly, I fear she is about ready to repack her bags and take off for parts unknown, so I've got to get a handle on this.

Yesterday she grabbed me by the arm, dragged me into the office and pulled open the drawer that is filled with old and unfinished fiction I have done over the years.  Some, I did while attending writing seminars and some are from online classes or books with writing exercises in them.  Muse then suggested I start by posting some of those...hmmm...perhaps that's a good idea.

So, here I go.

The lesson was to create a beginning to a short story, so this has no must imagine one for yourselves.

                                                            The Elevator

“The elevator lurched fell rapidly, and then jerked to a stomach churning stop.  Everything went black. It seemed like an eternity until the lights dimly flickered and came back on.

An older Nun in traditional habit stood in one corner hands folded under her apron and she was almost whispering.  I think she might have been praying.

A tired, weary looking young woman holding an infant knelt to hug and reassure her whimpering little boy.

A tall man in a black, hand tailored suit looked angry and annoyed.  He glanced nervously at his watch, moved his briefcase to his other hand and rolled his eyes at nothing in particular.

However, it was the boy with the half bald head and earring-ed nose that piqued my interest.  It was hard to tell if he was amused or concerned.  He took a pocket knife from his jacket pocket and began to dig at his nails.

Oh shit, I thought, ain't this a fine kettle of fish.”

(There you have it, who are these people and how long will these people be trapped in this elevator?  Where were they going?  Will someone take charge?  Will emotions boil over?  Will something bad happen?  It is up to you to fill in the blanks.)

Hey, this might be fun.