Monday, October 29, 2007

Dad Laughs and Smiles


Visions of the mountains in Autumn color on 81 North, a visit to the Severn River, and views of blue sky and birds were thwarted by heavy rain this weekend. Our seven-hour drive to Maryland took nine hours on Friday but we didn't complain. We left Charlotte early Friday morning in heavy rain and it continued through Saturday morning in Maryland. Several inches soaked the region and that's a blessing, as the foliage is shiny and clean and has raised up to blue sky.


I tried.

Dad was sleeping in his bed on Friday and the sight of us standing before him made his eyes twinkle. He knew who stood before him but names come slowly… Earlier in the week, his younger sisters brought him rich chocolates wrapped in foil and other sweets for his 82nd birthday. I don’t know how he managed to consume the entire gift but by the time my brother and his family arrived, Dad was violently sick from overindulging. I opted to send balloons – a more reasonable gift for a man who doesn’t care about or understand moderation. Before we left him on Friday, I asked him if he needed or wanted anything since I would be back on Saturday.

“How about bringing me some chocolates?”

Yeah, right, Dad. I brought him a Hershey bar and offered him only one bite.

There was a bittersweet moment on our leaving a little while later. Dad told Michael how proud he was of him and on our way out of his room, he said to us in his weakened voice, “I love you…I love you…I love you…” I held back tears on the way to the car.


Saturday was a good day. We arrived to find him with others congregated in the hallway near the nurses' station, but he wasn’t socializing as he normally would. Instead, his chin was slumped on his chest - snoring. We wheeled him all around the facility and found a nice spot to sit and talk for a long time. I helped him with his lunch, making him wait for the vanilla ice cream cup until he finished the chicken. It's not easy finding subjects to engage him in conversation but it went quite well. I loved hearing his belly laugh.

When I think there is little left of him, he proves me wrong. Throughout his entire life, there is a question we could always count on him asking. Always interested in the cost of things, he’d inquire, “What did you give for that?”


He was admiring my camera and commented, “That’s a fancy camera you have there. What did you give for that?”

Michael and I exchanged glances and howled. Dad is Dad, no doubt.

My plans to show him photos went awry when my photo printer refused to cooperate. He enjoyed the photos stored on my camera so I am going to work on a photo album for him as a Christmas gift. Large photos with large captions. He’ll love it as much as I will enjoy creating it!

We were busy on Saturday visiting my brother and his family, Mom’s grave, and spending time with our dear friends in Severna Park who opened their house to us for the weekend. We had a great time with them including a terrific dinner in downtown Baltimore at a restaurant in Canton called Mama’s on the Half Shell for a Maryland seafood fix. Later we went to a wild Halloween party which contributed to an ugly early morning wake-up call for our trip home on Sunday morning.


Our friends are building a magnificent new house on the Magothy River. I can only dream


of a view like this.

They have a beautiful yard in their current home but birds don’t visit. If I offered them a feeder, they would probably refuse. Without birds, I focused on floating leaves after the rains.


Oops. Michael met a Maryland Trooper on the way home. Now we are even. I met one in Virginia a year ago. Troopers love out-of-state drivers.


Homecoming is sweet. Their feeders needed filling

and they waited for me.

I sorted laundry into two piles and found Chloe in the dining room with a pair of my panties dangling from her mouth. She was delighted with her prize.

A tug of war began.

Bella won the war but quickly surrendered to the chief. I do not tolerate broken elastic on brand new panties.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Melancholy in Maryland


Complete silence on the walking trail is creepy. Perhaps it’s too dry to hear birds going about their business…odd not to hear a Cardinal deep in the woods or squawking crows overhead. My walking pace quickened and I thought about a lot of things. I’ll be seeing Dad in a couple of days.


Only flying insects got my attention.

Some trees didn’t make it through the summer. I took a blurry photo of a Blue Jay on this same tree last March. My father resented Blue Jays because of their unmerciful attacks on his cats. The memory of him trying to guard them under the maple tree in the back yard made me smile.

Visiting my Dad causes emotions to surface that I’m not happy about. I can’t describe my upcoming visit as a feeling of dread, actually. It’s more like feeling sadly apprehensive. Twelve years of seeing him either sit in a wheelchair or lay in his bed is so painful and it doesn’t get easier. A year has passed since he moved to the nursing home… my God, I wish there was a better life for him.

Each time I sit with him, I look at his palsied, stiff hands and dream of putting my hand on his as an invitation to magically get up and dance to some funky beat – to get up and swing each other around like we used to, snapping our fingers and laughing. It's been so long...

As I walked yesterday through the dry, warm fields and woods, I thought about things I might say or show him that would brighten his day. He’s not much of a conversationalist, with standard replies of No, Yes, or Thank You. It makes for awkward visits, really. Often, his comments sound like gibberish. I smile widely and nod as my reply, even if my heart is breaking.


He always loved to take car rides and never hesitated to stop and see something new or unusual. Maybe I inherited his compulsive trait, as he would stop the car to see a Great Blue Heron like I did last February.


Yesterday, I saw a cat sitting vigilantly in the same spot, like the Heron did six months ago. (Click to enlarge these photos.)

While Mom was hospitalized I cared for Dad occasionally. He was impressed with my vacuum cleaning ability and called me a “white tornado”. For this upcoming visit, I think I’ll print out this post and show & tell him some things about me that he doesn’t know. Dad loves the arts. He sang often, played the piano and guitar, and loved to draw. He might like my photos, at least for a moment or two.

He hasn’t met the dogs so I’ll tell him a few stories

about how old Chloe still likes to flush chipmunks,

and feast on chunks of red clay.

He might giggle when I tell him how wonderfully sweet and dimwitted Bella is

and how Mr. Biggins worries about everything under the sun.

I sure hope this photo of Bam-Bam doesn’t scare him.

He might say, “What’s a Cedar Waxwing?”
Dad probably won’t understand my blog or my interest in photographing nature and


my short stories might cause him to doze. But I’ll be there to wish him sweet dreams.


Update: It's raining!


Please say a prayer for Lynne at Hasty Brook’s Mom who is in critical condition after suffering a fall earlier this week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Loved Ones Who Don't Get It, and the Awards

Part I: They laugh at me.


When she walked onto the back deck and saw me on my knees, balancing myself on pond rock with backside up, she laughed out loud. Why does my daughter think it’s so funny to see me weeding the pond? I had just finished pulling enough water hyacinths, lettuce plants, and parrot feather to fill four paper grocery bags. Precious plants, they are, but too invasive. Yes, it’s odd seeing me wrapped in six-foot long parrot feather roots, but it’s worth the work.

In a few weeks, I’ll be doing it all over again. I’ll need to wear my waders and if I’m lucky, I’ll emerge with snails in the pockets.

Then my husband joined her on the deck. The two of them think they’re a comedy team. HA. HA. They laugh at my passion/hobby and pretty much agree I’m an eccentric about the birds, bugs, and everything else that interests me. They just... don’t... get... it... but won’t admit to being intrigued. Really. They giggled like crazy when my husband said, “Hey, if the house was on fire and I was sleeping, she would save her camera from the flames before she’d save me!” Now, that’s a ridiculous statement but there might be some truth in it. I’d call the dogs while grabbing my camera on the way to save his life. OK?

According to them, I’m responsible for the pigeon poop on the neighbor’s rooftop across the way. Well, I had news for them. I asked them if they had looked at our roof yet! Honestly, they do understand that the birds are thirsty during the drought but they also wonder why I have so many feeders. I didn’t waste my time on any lessons for them. Three words out of my mouth made them guffaw and I couldn’t help but laugh, too.


I asked them to be quiet and whisper for a few minutes while I tiptoed inside the house to get my camera. I explained that the Mockingbird was ready for a bath and they are bold enough to do it while I take pictures. Well, I should not have said a word. Before I could tiptoe back outside, camera ready, they stomped their feet and clapped their hands. Not funny.


Poor thing. I could have captured armpit washing.

The thought crossed my mind to pick up a bag of wet, stringy parrot feather and fling it on them. And I mean vigorously fling it! What a photo opportunity that would have been for this blog and I would have had the last laugh. We had fun at my expense. I know I’m a bit weird and I’m still giggling about it.

I wonder if anyone else receives eye-rolling like I do.

Part II: The rewards are great.

Delia at "Beginning to Bird" awarded me a Blogging Star award. Wow. She calls herself a beginning birder but she is far more than that. Delia knows her birds and actually ventures out and finds them with real birding equipment! I admire her adventurous spirit. Stop by her blog and enjoy her travels. Delia has met Julie Zickefoose on a field trip. She inspires me to get out of my back yard. Thanks, Delia!

Toni at "A Spattering" awarded me a Joyful Creative Award. Maybe Toni hasn’t been visiting me long enough to know I’m not always so joyful. You need to visit her blog. She’s a fantastic artist! I recently spent an hour looking at her artwork on Flickr that made my jaw hang open in awe. Toni's artwork needs framing in my home. Thank you, Toni!

See my blogroll on the left sidebar? There are so many wonderful people listed there and they all deserve an award.

Cheers to everyone!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Only a Sprinkle

My lightheartedness is on hold today.


A light rain shower surprised me on my way to work.

Fleeting panic.

I had not used my windshield wipers in the new car I bought eight weeks ago. Sitting in a traffic back-up saved me while I fiddled with the control.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a puddle, especially one in the shape of a heart. A Carolina Wren bathed and splashed there for a while.

We received .25 inch of rain today.

Stage Four of water the restriction is being planned.

Outdoor watering will be prohibited unless it is life-sustaining.

There will be indoor water rationing. We’ll be monitored on gallons used.

A warm and dry winter is predicted.

Every time I open the faucet, I think about it.

I’m a hand washer.

School children need to continue washing their hands.

Disease is threatening.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but frankly, I’m frightened.


The clouds began to clear before sunset and the breeze cooled us down.

I opened the windows and could hear dry leaves rustling and skipping across the street.


A few minutes later, the sun cast a warm glow,

then soon illuminated the clouds with its bright golden effects.

It sank lower and cast deeper shades.

The weekend will be cool and delightful.

Let’s pray for a predicted storm due next week. We need to be soaked for a few days. With that said, I’ve done enough talking about the weather on Mary’s View. I’m reminding myself that others in this world have suffered, and are now suffering, through far worse disasters.


Good night. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Silly Dogs and a Lifer!


Mary, the wanna-be ant-type blogger, is sitting here wondering what to say. It’s the worst day of grasshopper-type posting.

The early morning smelled like rain and looked like rain, but we ended up dry, sunny, and hot after a promising forecast. See the Wren’s shadow?

There was a thirty-minute window of time in which I had to watch the birds tonight and they snubbed their noses at me.


A Red-bellied Woodpecker hammered on the hawk perch and I was tickled to know I recognized its sound.

Without bird follies, I walked around my dry earth to give praise to some hard core survivors.



A very pointy bug :o)


Wearing fresh lipstick this morning, I gave both Chloe and Bella a kiss between their eyes before I left for work. There are days when I want to change back into my PJs to snuggle and snore beside them when the skies are dark and cloudy.


Before I kissed Bella, she was about ready to sink into a sofa pillow. She was trying to watch “Good mornin’ Merica” on TV. They like to watch Regis and Kelly while I’m gone and they know I’m due home while they have one eye open on Oprah.

My challenge today was to have them sit side by side for a photograph of my lipstick kiss between their eyes.


“Bella sit. Chloe sit. Together.”
Not happening. I even held a slice of cheese over my head. No go.


“Bella come closer.”
No go.


“Will you stop squirming and listen to me, Bell?”

“Chloe, STOP jumping! Let me wash your mud-caked face. You have very large ears.”

I gave up.

Before the shadows fell long beyond the feeders, I saw an odd bird. I could have taken a great close-up of it if dear Chloe had not sprinted nearby. It must have been a juvenile because it didn't mind me approaching. I never dreamed I would see a lifer today! I hope it stays for a while.


Juvenile Brown-Headed Spinch. Yes!

Rain is on the way from the south. Sock it to me.