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Archive for June, 2009

I would never presume to call myself a bird watcher because I can’t identify different birds by their technical names, nor do I know their mating or migration habits.  But this summer, maybe because my balcony is directly across from the top of a mulberry tree and the fact that I have a good zoom camera, I’ve been drawn in to observe the life and habits of birds more than I ever have before in my life.  This particular tree seems to be sort of an avian U.N., where all the birds of every type in the neighborhood check in from time to time all during the day.  I like to look at the tree and its surroundings as a sort of microcosm of the bird world, which is replete with needs, drama, excitement and love, thus my new role as bird sociologist.

The birds come to the tree for many reasons, first and foremost, food.  Here is a shot of a beautiful bird with a polka dot cape taking a fast-food break.mulberry

Some like to choose a branch and simply meditate.  Here is beautiful little guy who is obviously a loner and has much to ponder.  Please note the subtle colors of his feathers.  It’s amazing to me how really different birds are from one another when you look closely!meditative bird

Some birds visit the Mulberry tree simply to strut their stuff.  This bird obviously has a Dracula thing going for him, fluffing his tail feathers like a long cape trailing behind him!dracula bird

Of course, from time to time an outsider sneaks onto the branches to steal food, such as this squirrel in his white jockey shorts!squirrel jockey shorts

And last, but not least, some come to the Mulberry tree to fall in love.  For these two, it was love at first sight.  They stayed this way for a good two or three minutes.  Finally, they flew off together to look for a room.  love

So, if you always thought that birds were just these mindless creatures flying around, you were wrong.  There’s a lot going on there, much more than I can cover in this simple post.  But, trust me, I’m sure I’ll have more to report later.  Meanwhile, you might just want to give birds a little more respect.  You know what I mean?  Just sayin’.

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A strange, but funny thing happened to me Friday and, since I’m as willing to laugh at myself as the next person, I decided to go ahead and share it with you.  pedometer

First of, let me explain that this summer I’ve been wearing a pedometer almost every day.  I don’t do it to achieve any set goal, but rather to be able to look at it at the end of the day to see how much distance I’ve covered.  It’s always good when I’ve felt like I’ve accomplished absolutely nothing, to check my pedometer and discover that at least I walked two to three miles!  I never liked the type that attach to your waistband, so I was delighted to find one on Amazon that was actually a “pocket pedometer.”  You simply slip it into your pocket and attach it to the edge of the pocket with a clip on the end of a little leash.

So Friday, after taking my friend Babs out for a birthday lunch, I got home and decided to change from jeans into a sundress because it was so hot.  However, once I had the dress on, I realized it had no pocket and thus no place to put my pedometer!  Well, I’d already clocked well over a mile on the pedometer and I wanted to finish out the day wearing it.  What to do?  What to do?

I finally decided as an experiment to slip it into the side of my underpants, hooking the little clip so it wouldn’t fall out.  This was a bit unconventional, I know, but I figured that as long as I was careful each time I went to the bathroom, it would work fine.  And it seemed to.

However, later in the evening, I was standing at the kitchen counter when a strange feeling came over me.  Suddenly I had an urge to have a beer, scratch wherever it itched and never ask for directions.  Where was this strange feeling coming from? Then I glanced down…only to behold a huge bulge in the front of my sundress, right between my legs!!!  Yipes!  I lifted the skirt of the dress and yes, you guessed it, the pedometer had worked it’s way to the front of my panties and had decided to stay there.  How very macho of it!  It was so awkward!  So unseemly!  I very quickly rectified the matter.

And then it occurred to me that men live with that feeling all the time! How very different the male experience must be, having to account for that “extra appendage” in everything they do.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I like men.  But, if given the choice, I’d always choose to be female.

Why?  Because…well, because…our apparatus is…well, you know, ever so much more, shall we say…“tidy?” Or at least, that’s how it seems to me.

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It’s official.  The unrelenting humidity is starting to slowly but surely melt my brain !  I’m serious.

The  Midwest has been hit by day after day of ninety-plus degree temperatures and humidity which is at what the experts call “dangerous levels.”  Throughout the city there have been numerous cases of heat exhaustion and several deaths already.  So when I say it has been sweltering, I’m not exaggerating.  Five minutes outside in this stuff and your clothes are wet.  Fifteen minutes and you start to feel nauseated.  Thirty, and you want to kill yourself…or someone else!   It’s scary.

I’m not good at this kind of weather.  I get cranky and snippy and lose all motivation.  I hate having to be shut inside with the curtains drawn and the air conditioning running constantly!  I start to feel like a little old mole woman!  So anyway, back to my melting brain.

I decided to get out of the house and run some errands, just to show the weather who’s  boss.  First I had to gas up the car.  That went fine – no sign of mental illness.  Then I stopped by the library – fine, no split with reality.  All that was left was a trip to Walgreen’s.  My list was short and I could foresee no problem.

Mascara –   √
Deodorant –  √
Acetaminophen –  √
Massive hot pink “Googly Ball” – HUH?

pink ball

And yet, somehow this ball made it into my basket.  Now true, it was marked down from $5.99 to a low, low clearance price of $2.49, but still…I needed it… why?  And yet, the minute I felt its squishy goodness, I knew that ball was coming home with me!  And, once I had it in the privacy of my own living room and began to bounce it around, guess what I discovered?  IT HAS FLASHING LIGHTS INSIDE!!!  I KID YOU NOT!!!

lit up ball

So here I am, a grown woman with responsibilities and (I thought) common sense, getting my love on with a squishy, hot pink googly ball!  What would make me do such a thing?  What makes me want to bounce it around and pretend it’s an alien of some sort?  Why does it make me smile?  Why do I want to name it?  Why did I NEED it?  Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you “the devil made me do it.”  That would be a lie…

the humidity did.

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little devilInspired by the weather where I live, I’ve been giving some thought as to what hell might be like.  I know there are descriptions in the Bible and other scholarly works, but we don’t really have any first-hand accounts, do we?  I’ve come up with three possibilities…

Hell could be being forced to spread tar on an interstate highway under the beating sun with humidity so thick and oppressive that the heat index is 110 degrees.  This is the kind of humidity that makes your clothes damp and sticky after the merest exposure and, before long, sweat is dripping from your forehead into your eyes faster than you can wipe it away.  Humidity like this crouches on your chest, making each breath an effort, and you can feel your movements get sluggish, as if you were struggling to swim through maple syrup.  And, any time you slow down, the foreman throws a blanket on your shoulders! Enduring this scenario every minute of every day forever would truly be hell.

Another version of hell (and one I can personally attest to,) is suffering through a toothache that, with each thundering throb, sends excruciating pain crashing through your entire body.  That alone is terrible enough.  But, true hell is having that toothache last unremittingly through the night.  This is the kind of toothache that even the “good” pain pills can’t touch.  It’s the kind that has you walking the floor in the small hours of the night, feeling totally wretched and alone in the world.  There is only you and the Pain.  It’s so bad that you find yourself sticking a fingernail hard into your gum, in the hope of drowning out one kind of pain with another.  You want to scream…you’re already crying.  Picture this going on for eternity and you have hell.

My original third thing was rather sad, but after re-reading the above, I’ve realized this whole post could turn into hell.  So I’ve decided to lighten it up a bit.  So, okay, how about this:

Hell is being stuck in a very small room with “It’s A Small World” playing on an endless loop in the background.  You are boxed in by people on all sides.  One is a grossly overweight sweaty man with serious body odor and sardine breath, who happens to be a close-talker.  Another is a woman who insists on sharing a scrapbook of when her son was a baby.  (He’s now a 28 year old balding bookkeeper in Poughkeepsie.) There’s a photo of every single step of his development and keepsakes such as his first tooth and his dried umbilical cord.  (“Go ahead!  Touch it!”) On your other side is a man with a very productive cough who never covers his mouth.  And, with every spasm, dandruff drifts from his head like snow.  There are twenty-five small children running manically around, periodically crashing into you, while a huge dog tries to bury his nose in your crotch when he isn’t drooling all over your feet.  Add to that a TV showing the “Smilin’ Bob” male enhancement commercial over and over and that, my friends, is my totally mind-blowing, fingernails-down-the-blackboard version of hell!

The possibility that any of these could be true is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow, just in case, if you know what I mean.  But maybe everybody’s version of hell would be different.  Care to give yours?  Feel free!  That’s what the comments are for!  I love it when you share!

Be good!

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Mom & CarShe was so young, just a girl really, at twenty-eight, but also a wife and a mother.  When she dolled herself up, she had  an old-school kind of glamour and loved vamping it up with red lipstick, flashy jewelry and exotic perfume.  When I’d watch her at her dressing table getting ready to go out, I remember thinking, “that’s how a princess would look.”

She had dancing eyes and a ready smile and had no trouble making friends, both men and women.  She liked being the life of the party, and oh, how she loved to dance!  When the music was playing, she couldn’t keep her feet still.  I remember her holding me in her arms and us doing the boogie-woogie around the kitchen.  She was so full of life and light.

Who knows what she could have accomplished in this world or how many lives she could have touched?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know because she died fifty-one years ago today…

– never to realize her potential,

– never to see her little girl grow up to become a woman,

Mom & little Me

– never to be forgotten.

I miss you, Mom.

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Unfortunately, all the storms we’ve been having out my way have managed to wash a lot of the clouds away for too many days.  But, ever the optimist,  I have continued to do my “sky checks,” and have managed to come up with three for you today.

This first one is the most difficult to see.  It is a cranky old man yelling and waving his fist at someone.  His face is right in the middle of the sky and he has his mouth open.  He’s hunched over, if that helps.

old man

This next one is an alligator or else, the head of a very big dragon or dinosaur.  Whatever it is, it has dropped some drool, which is falling to earth.

alligator

And this final one is either a snail with a rather large nose, or else, another dragon (with wings.)  I see dragons everywhere!

dragon

And, for a little bonus for those of you who like to sleep late, here is what the moon looks like at 4:35 a.m. in the morning.

moon(Actually, I just wanted to see if I could get this picture with it being so dark outside!  Not bad, is it?)

Have a great weekend!

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statue ponderingLately we’ve been going through a series of very intense rainstorms, day and night.  They’re the type during which you have to turn on lights mid-morning because it’s so dark outside.  For some reason weather like that finds me musing over things more than usual.

For example, the morning after the storm, I noticed that the birds in my tree were emerging very cautiously, one by one, rather than indulging in their usual raucous sunrise gathering.  They were very quiet, constantly looking around, as if ready to dodge for shelter at the first sign of another downfall.  I wonder if the birds think it’s the end of the world each time the day turns black and thunder and lightning rip through the skies.  Or, are their brains too small for that?  Do they live their lives always ready to accept whatever’s next?  Maybe they’re smarter than I think.

Another thought I’ve had is that there are some lessons in life that you need to learn over and over.  One I’m remembering is: “You can’t ‘make’ someone behave as you wish they would.”  The fact is that people will disappoint you in life more times than you’d like.  So then you simply must decide if the good outweighs the bad.  You really can’t change people.  They have to want to change themselves.  The thing I’ve got to fight is to keep myself from turning cynical.

Another thought was whether people who have never lived alone have any real idea what it’s like and what it takes.  When I think of my circle of friends, I can only think of two who, like me, live alone rather than with a spouse or family member.  I’ve had many of my other friends say, “You’re so lucky that you don’t have to answer to anyone.”  And, they’re right, I am.  There are definitely many advantages to living alone, particularly if you have an independent nature.  You can do what you want when you want however you want.  You can piddle around all day without anyone asking, “whatcha doing?”  I love being able to follow my heart and inclinations without having to explain myself to anyone.

Having said that, there are moments, not often, but they’re there, when I feel a little too alone.  Maybe I’m not feeling well on a particular day and nobody knows and nobody cares.  Or it could just be that I’m feeling a little blue and could use a hug.  These kind of moments lead to my classic fear – “What if I fell down the stairs and gravely injured myself?  How long would it be before someone would notice I’m missing?”  Not exactly a comforting thought, but a fact of life for someone who lives alone.  People who always have someone there tend to take for granted the assurance that somebody will be there for them.  But, we who live solo lives are generally of a solid stock and we don’t often indulge that “what if.”  Nonetheless, I make a point of keeping up with those friends who are on their own.

And finally, I’ve lately found myself  asking the cliched question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  I have a dear friend whom it seems just can’t catch a break in life.  She’s someone who has a strong faith in God, a incredibly generous heart and the courage to dream big dreams.  When she left one job, she took a leap of faith to try to start her own business and came so close to succeeding.  But, the poor economy and a stack of bills forced to her to look for full-time employment.  She took a job which would have given her the opportunity to use her expertise in a certain field, only to discover too late that it was a case of “bait and switch.”  And now she’s stuck underemployed.  She fought breast cancer successfully only to be lately diagnosed with Lupus.  Where does it end? This is a woman of so many talents and such a lovely spirit and it’s all she can do to keep on keeping on.  Meanwhile I see all these Hollywood types who have never done an honest day’s work in their lives going on all the talk shows, exercising their giant egos and just getting richer and richer.  Where’s the justice?  I pray for my friend every single morning, but I just wish there was more I could do.

Anyway, the sun has finally come out again and despite all these ponderings and concerns, I know I’m lucky and I never stop giving thanks for all the ways I’ve been blessed.  I guess the best any of us can do is live life one moment at a time and make each one count.

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