Sunday, March 29, 2009

What if....

What if you were faced with a life-threatening illness and you had to make a decision (in a few short hours, possibly days) which would determine how long the remainder of your life might be? 
Would you know where to do go to get information?
Would you know if that information was reliable?
Would you know what the information-provider's agenda was?
This is what newly-diagnosed, critically ill individuals face and some face it alone, because they don't have partners in their life or because they don't have families or because the relatives are too far away or for some other reason.
I'm not offering up any kind of pity-party for anyone, but I am suggesting that as this fragile green earth spins faster and faster, we seem to have less and less time for our neighbors, acquaintances and even family.
Before I headed out West, I received a phone call from a neighbor to tell me that he and his wife were temporarily moving into "assisted living " quarters because of her cancer treatments and her care requirements which were beyond his capabilities. They have family living nearby and they have friends and neighbors like me. But clearly he wanted me to know that when I didn't see them around that they were open to having visitors in the new place. I was deeply touched and will certainly go and see them when I return.
And it brought home to me, in yet another way, that we are interconnected. That each smile, each touch, each effort made on behalf of another does have value.
So if you are reading this and you know someone who is facing a difficult time, perhaps you will be led to offer up some of your time to do something to ease their challenge. Not because someday you might be facing your own mountain, but because today is all we have... and what we give is our presentness... our being... and letting another living man or woman or child know that they have been seen or heard.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Arizona has spring, too

This morning I woke up to hear new bird sounds and a different smell in the air... it's the smell of the Sonoran desert warming up and in the spring the air here is also loaded with pollen as bees fly from flower to flower doing their work. My current eating program doesn't include any honey or I'd be down to the local health food store buying up some cactus honey to keep my allergies from acting up. But I don't live here anymore, so it's not worth the time it takes to overcome them. I'm just here for a seminar and will spend most of the time inside - unfortunately - poking my head out now and then to change the inside air for brief whiffs of the delicate aromas from outside.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring in my yard

   Look what just has blossomed in my yard this week! I didn't know what it was, but some Internet searching led me to the Trumpet Vine (Red) which has the potential to climb 35 ft. without a trellis. If you look closely you can see the pollen it's created as well as the pine pollen which is showing up everywhere - achoooo!
   Although this is supposed to be 'sweet-scented,' I was unable to discern much scent at all. To be fair, it is about 60 degrees outside and perhaps the flower needs to have some warmth and sunshine to be smelly. And it's kind of drizzly as well. 
   According to the description it can bloom all summer, so I'm curious why I didn't see it last year... not old enough? Some descriptions say it takes seven years to establish itself. Master Gardeners are invited to comment.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

As Above, So Below

Recently I was listening to a pastor who really, and I mean REALLY, knows The Bible. He was reminding the faithful that our Creator is with us always, and to prove the point he was delineating how we were created in His image... that there is a pattern to His Creation (us) based on 'threes.' Our bodies and the world around us are put together in 3's... (even the dots!) And the trinity/triangle is the strongest form. Our arms have three segments, our legs have three segments, the body itself is comprised of the head, trunk and extremities. The earth has a core, mantle and crust. An apple has a core, the fruit and the skin. Pastor T. said "Further, in The Bible, Moses received those tablets with 10 commandments... you have 10 fingers to remind you of them.  And if that's not enough, you have as a master gland, the pituitary which provides 10 different chemicals to keep you in balance. You are a living Bible... you have 33 vertebrae so you can walk and stand up straight to remind you of the life span of the Messiah..." As we enter the season when the Messiah was born, because he was born in Abib, the first month (God's time - not the calendar established by Pope Gregory), and if you haven't picked up The Bible recently, perhaps you will to find out how the Lord wants to use you for His purpose.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gone Too Soon

All the quotes about life ending too soon don't really provide much solace to those who are either facing it or the family and friends who grieve the loss of their beloved. News of the surprising and sudden death of the talented actress Natasha Richardson reminded me of how much I had enjoyed her gifts in the movies she performed in.
And as a skier myself, I fully acknowledge the risk of the sport. I have lost ski friends in 'freak' accidents on the slopes. And yet I was blessed to have survived it... and to ski again and again. I worked with the Ski Patrol one winter and saw the many ways that the human body could be damaged - whether novice or expert.
Young and talented, loving and lovely, it causes us all to stop and wonder "Why?" And so often the media is quick to jump on "If only..." scenarios which serve no good use except as barn doors for the departing horses. Perhaps the fall itself was an indicator of something going awry, not that that fall caused the injury... and perhaps there are no comforting answers to be given to the family - any family - who has to say goodbye too early to a loved one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day 2009

When I was growing up in NH, there was a man called "Pat" who came into my life. He was an Irishman and by the time I knew him, he was already in his 50's, and yet he seemed ageless to me. He taught me how to raise chickens, to watch the skies for the weather and to garden. He used to sing while he was gardening, and thus I learned many of the Irish songs I enjoy today. He was gentle and loving, and so sweet-natured that for a long time I thought March 17th was the day he was being honored. Even though I found out later in school that it was a day for the man who drove out the snakes from Ireland, I still honor my "St. Pat" on this day. And now, all these many years later, I have discovered that there probably never were any snakes in Ireland (so no need to drive them out) and that there are likely several promulgators of the Catholic mission who might have been identified as "Patrick," for me this day is about a man who lived an honorable life and who taught me to do the same.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Update on the mystery baby birds

In case anyone cares, the mystery of the two baby birds on the ledge of my porch (posted picture on Feb. 27) has been solved by the Ornithological Detectives from Cornell's Ornithology department. They were positively identified as Carolina Wrens. You can learn more about this lively little bird species by clicking on the link I've provided. And I am also shamelessly promoting their magazine which helps support all the work they do to provide education and protection of bird habitat. One of the 'songs' for this bird is duplicated on that site and it sounds more like a squeaky wheel on an old shopping cart than anything else. But I didn't know this is another species that mates for life.
This morning in my yard cleanup I found a tiny little white egg that had been recently discarded for the hatchling to get free. It was not a wren egg as I discovered on the Cornell site. I'm guessing it might be from the Cardinal family.

What I wished I'd seen...

My next-door neighbor sent me this picture from a friend of hers, "Lyn," who lives further south (and closer to the launch pad) than we do. It confirmed for both of us that what we saw (even if it was too small to get a photo) was indeed Discovery. I'm glad I went on the NASA site to listen to their radio transmissions until they did the fire-up to go out of orbit and into space to catch up with the Space Station. There is another evening launch in May, if it goes as scheduled, and I think I will make the effort to get closer so I can enjoy the bragging rights of having "been there," at least once.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"We're go for that!"

So I wasn't able to make another trip to the Space Coast to see Discovery (STS-119) launch this evening, but my neighbors and I went to the top of the street and were able to see a wee streak across the sky after it launched and at 7:53:00 (EDT) we saw the booster rocket come off and begin its fall back to earth, to be consumed by the atmosphere. (This photo is from NASA's coverage of the launch.)
As I am writing this I am listening to the crew talking to Mission Control Houston as they complete their first orbit of the earth, preparing for the next phase - to catch up to the Space Station to deliver their payload of solar arrays. Some people don't find this particularly fascinating, but I worked on the Apollo Project (now you know for sure I'm over 60!) and specifically on the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). Some years ago I had the great opportunity to take my son to the Kennedy Space Center and show him the Saturn V rocket booster that put Apollo into space. Even I was surprised at how large it was, in spite of the number of times I'd put together materials and specification sheets. That's a really interesting journey to take with children and grandchildren. The additional family link to all of this is that my father's business was also participating in the "space race" of the 60's, which I didn't find out until after I'd left the project to have my first child. And with that child in my lap we watched the lunar landing... that I played a very small part (on the molecular scale, I'd estimate) in helping to make happen.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today is not the beach day I hoped for...

My plans were to head off for a beach day - imagining it to be like the one shown here, from a previous trip to Sarasota. But it is cool, cloudy and there's every likelihood there will be rain later. So, my plans will change. I'm not sure how or where I will end up today, but I'm taking my camera and will share the adventure later.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bernie goes to jail

   I am not a big follower of all the news... catch bits and pieces, here and there. But when I heard about this Giga-bite Scambag,  (photo to right) I had to follow the outcome. Yesterday a woman,  about my age, was on one of the news channels telling her story about losing everything - a life of working and saving, along with her now-deceased husband's work and savings - because her investment counselor put it all with Medoff... and by the way, that investment counselor should be punished as well!!! She said Dec. 11 will be as memorable for her as Sept. 11 since it was the day she found out she was destitute at the hands of this thief.
   And yet Mrs. Madoff and the kids should be allowed to keep all their worldly goods, acquired by their sanctimonious and insensitive father? NOT! Strip them too - take it all to auction, divvy up those ill-gotten gains among the many who lost it all. Let Mrs. M wander the streets in slippers and rags and tatters with a sign strung about her neck with a string saying, "I once was found and now I've lost it all to Bernie."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I feel almost like a drug dealer....

I have "turned on a friend," to blogging! She's very excited now and almost couldn't wait for me to leave so she could get right into it. She's got some great information and needed a way to get it out, so I hope this will help her. In a few days she will be fully operational and I will give you a link to go and read her tips on how to improve your skin care regimen, what products really work and which ones are a waste of time and money. She's not selling anything but offering up important tricks about looking good in the skin we're in!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Flower Show Cancelled

When I was growing up, I had an older woman who cared for me. The story was that she was "not quite right," and had been forced to have surgery so she would never have children of her own. I guess her parents thought - back in the 1920's - that she wouldn't be capable of caring for her own children. This wonderful woman loved me as if I were her own and was better than my own mother at the job. Every year about this time, she would ask my parents for time off and she would tell me several times in advance, "I am going to the flower show. I will be back." And when she returned, she would tell me about all the wonderful flowers she had seen. I believe she went with other folks from our small NE town and it was always a trip she enjoyed completely. I thought about her today when I heard that the New England Flower Show was cancelled, after 137 (!!) years, due to the economy. If it managed to be produced during the depression, then we are in worse shape than I realized....

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Savings?

What exactly is saved by "Daylight Savings?" It's not a bank where I can go and get more of it if I get overdrawn. I cannot borrow on the account. I cannot deposit anything. And why did the Powers That Be decide we have to start doing it earlier and later than ever before? Is the earth shifting on its axis and they don't want us to see the changes and think we won't discover that change by forcing us to get up earlier and encouraging us to go to bed later? Who knows?

On another subject, my friends from O'Brien, Florida dropped in today to show me their latest acquisition... Bingo Birdie!!  Bingo is a cockatiel, and will potentially live more than two decades - that could be a lot of fun as they can also mimic sounds and sometimes will talk. Just a baby bird, hand-fed, he was already very comfortable on hands and shoulders. They were excited about getting him, but my big African Grey was sitting outside when they arrived and he was jealous!! Normally Tabou welcomes them, but this time he was acting sulky and actually tried to bite my friend's husband's finger - something he's never done before with him.

Do It Anyway

The two-box cold is pretty much over. (Two boxes refers to the number of tissue boxes required to get through it.) But as I was checking various blogs I realized that many of us are 'out there,' speaking our minds to whomever cares to read/listen. To all the bloggers, this song is for you:
It's a lovely day here in Florida, and I am blessed to be healthy once again.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Not only flighty subjects....

   Today I had to get my car serviced and I was sitting working on a slide show about Alligator Lake (previously mentioned) and this fellow came in to sit and wait. He was so uncomfortable that he kept getting up and looking at things; incredibly restless. I said, "Would you like to see the slide show I just finished putting together?"
    He was stunned and came over to sit next to me and watch my little presentation. Afterwards he said, "Can you send something like that to someone?" I said, "Sure." He gave me his e-mail address. He actually didn't see it as the final product (with the music added) so I am curious what his reaction will be.
   Later I realized that in this busy world of ours, we really don't take enough time to "BE" with our fellow travelers face-to-face. We send messages, call, text, blog, but do we touch enough?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Family ACCIPITRIDAE are my neighbors...

   Refers to the formal name of the bird I was trying to identify. I was pointed to a website about hawks and found out that my recent visitor was a Red-Tailed Hawk, and my guess that it was a juvenile was probably correct. If you click on the link, you can hear their call... I get to hear it pretty regularly without doing that. I looked for it today, but only heard the cries off in the distance. Perhaps the hunting wasn't all that great - it was pretty cold all day.
   So it is not the Osprey, which sort of de-mystifies the whole event a little, but doesn't take away from the rapture of the raptor... sorry, readers -I couldn't resist.
   Tomorrow I have errands to run and will take my camera down by the lake to see what it going on in that neighborhood. I think the ducks are hatching now. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ollie, Ollie, Osprey...?

   If it got up over 40 degrees today, I never knew it... I stayed 
inside working on becoming germ-free and making sure this cold didn't do to me what it's done to so many - gone into the lungs. About lunchtime I decided to go into my office (15 or 16 steps away) and actually got some work done for awhile. When my son showed up, he plunked himself down and then gasped,"Mom, lookit!" When I followed his pointing finger, I saw this lovely young raptor, an Osprey-looking bird perched on a limb about 200 yards away. I carefully moved and went to get my camera. Here is what we saw....        According to my limited research, it is a juvenile, but on closer looks at the photos, I am not certain it is of the Osprey family. I really need to have someone with more experience evaluate the shots. At any rate, the youngster stayed on the limb for quite awhile, preening its feathers and watching us watching it. My son left after the bird flew off and called me when he got home. "Mom, you might not believe this, but that bird is sitting in the tree right outside my house and it is screeching!" I could actually hear the noise through the phone. Same bird? He only lives about 4 miles from me.... so it could be.
   What adds to the wonderful mystery of this story is that back in the fall, we were biking around the local Lake Dupont and came upon a downed Osprey (this really was one) in shock. No one wanted to abandon it to dogs or mischievous humans, so my son and I were nominated as "bird people" to get it into a transport cage (because I have one at home for my Gray) and get it to a rescue group the next day. Although we tried to find someone to take it that evening, no one was available. So I brought it to my house and covered the cage (I don't have a garage.) and checked on it once or twice until about 1 a.m. I went inside and woke up at 5, but the bird had died.
   I was desolate. I followed all the guidelines for rescue (don't give it any water or food, protect it, etc.) but the truck that hit it, had done it's damage. The bird never cried out when we moved it from the road to the transport cage, and never cried out when I approached the cage later that night. Now what? I have a 25 pound bird to deal with. Not your little parakeet.
I called Florida Fish & Game and someone there said, "Just dump it. We don't want it." It deserved better than being pitched in the garbage.
   A few of my Native American friends were interested in having some feathers, but had no ideas of what to do. So I found a place in my garden that the ground was soft enough to dig in, and I got some cedar chips. I laid a bed of cedar chips, put the bird on top of them, sprinkled some more on top and lit my sage incense wand. Walking quietly in a circle around the spot, I urged Grandfather to take the spirit of this bird with Him, and to let it soar. I asked forgiveness of the man who drove off without stopping his truck and forgiveness of all of us who tried to rescue it.
   When I was at peace with myself about it, I piled the dirt on top and around and then found some leaves to put under some more cedar chips. I set the leaves on fire and watched the chips burn down. When the fire went out, I put more dirt on the spot and added some heavy branches to keep animals away. 
   Today's visitor was sitting on a branch almost on top of the spot where the Osprey is buried.

Monday, March 2, 2009


   Here is a view of the marsh the SideTrackers group visited. It looked more exotic in person.  Today I am still recovering from the cold. It is probably a cold derived from germs I received from a small child, but it was curious how it 'blossomed' almost immediately after I got home from the hike. I spent most of yesterday wishing I'd had a bucket I could attach under my nose and today my head is all stuffed up. I'm drinking lots of water, eating good natural foods and taking every opportunity to use this as an excuse to be pitiful.
   Actually as I have a SIL with Multiple Myeloma and I follow a number of blogs from men and women who are challenged by this disease, my momentary dis-ease is nothing compared to the issues presented by MM. Compared to the various roller-coaster rides they are on, my cold really is pitiful and I am, too, for even making the comparison.