Tuesday, December 13, 2011


One day I hope to understand my dilemma about Christmas. Not the original Christmas. The one we celebrate today in modern times.

Many people share my feelings about the Christmas of today. It starts now before October 31 and rolls right over us like Santa's sleigh through November and on into December.

My aversion of Christmas isn't just about the commercialism. While I love the lights and the beauty of the holiday, there is just something about the holiday that puts me in a grinchy mood.

Let's start with the tree. I do NOT like the bushy Douglas Fir trees that other members of my family prefer. I like a spindly Noble Fir. Each year no one remembers what my favorite tree is. I am not blaming any one person, because truth be told if it was that important to me I guess I should go get it myself.

But my reluctance to fall hard into Christmas comes from somewhere deeper: a darker place. Childhood disappointments? Regrets?

Favorite favorite memories from my entire life revolve around Christmas. My oldest daughter, Brenna, was born on December 11th. (I'd say the year but she's already pretty broken up about turning 27 this year.) I'll never forget the moment about 3 days after her birth, walking into the living room. Brenna was in the little crib next to the decorated, live, Noble Fir tree that we bought to later bury her placenta under.

The setting sun darkened the room but the glow of the Christmas tree radiated on my darling daughter. This was Christmas. A perfect gift given to me.

When in Papua New Guinea our Christmas' were perfect. We got to spend the entire morning in our own home. No running around to get ready to go to Grammy's house. A lovely, peaceful Christmas dinner later in the day with friends who shared our time in a far away place.

Memories...that is what the ads on TV tell us we should be creating. I regret the lack of memories I made with my family. Things I wished I'd done but didn't. And now it's too late. Christmas regrets.

I believe it is important to look at life from different perspectives. And that is how I choose to look at Christmas. I am blessed. Christmas isn't about things, it is about the gift of Jesus. The gift of life.

As a kindergarten teacher my class put on a play called "365 Days of Christmas." It is in that perspective of Christmas where I want to live.

And as you can see in the picture above I got the perfect tree this year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Puppy Love

I love my dogs. Everyday when I walk out the door to go to work I know I am going to miss them. Each one of them in their own unique way make me laugh, smile and be happy from the top of my head to the tip of my....tail. :)

This weekend I took them to the dog park in McMinnville. It's been several months since we visited there. From the moment we arrived I realized they remembered where we were. Roxy was much more confident and in fact was able to rustle around with some bigger dogs without going in for the kill. :)

As we entered the gate for the grassy area, Murphy's gait increased as the memory of where we were hit him square between his blind eyes. He ran off like a bat-out-of-hell with his bouncy running with a huge smile on his face. I wish I had a camera to capture their joy.

Roxy played ball for a while but mostly enjoyed all the new smells. Along with Fonzy she emptied her bladder in her attempt to cover every other dog's smell.

Three tuckered out dogs came home after being out of the house for more than two hours. Between the hour at the park, driving time and my stops at the store, they had a wonderful day outing.

The boys are much less agitated as we travel around and Roxy's confidence is evident. I know that our daily excursions to the Newberg Dog Park has been a big benefit to their overall level of security and lessoned their fear of the unknown.

I just wish I could bring them to work with me. :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Only Thing Consistent About Life

(Posted October 2, 2011 - began writing August 28.)

Several years ago George Fox decided to undergo an evaluation of employee's job descriptions. Each staff and administrator was required to complete a survey regarding their job. In preparation for this task we were asked to attend an information meeting. As an introduction to the meeting the Human Resources director asked "How many of you like change?"

I was the only one who raised my hand.

Change....it's something you can count on happening in life. Just when you think you have everything all figured out change comes knocking.

In my adult life I have embraced change. For me, change is like a gift. Something new in life that makes the day-to-day mundane....well, different. What's wrong with mixing it up a bit! :)

Even when the change is not good, it helps us to look at things differently. Change pushes us away from the perspective we've been accustomed to and gives us a new view.

I believe if we embrace the change, the new view, we will grow. Being stuck in the 'mud' is not something that excites me.

Wade has a new job. And he loves it. For the first time in many years he feels respected and valued for his experience and his degree.

Granted, the rhythm of our life has changed. Especially for him. He doesn't have the freedom to hit the park and play his guitar in the afternoons. The time we now have together is primarily on the weekends. But he isn't distracted by his job, nor does he hop down to the office for a couple hours.

I am thankful beyond words for the change in Wade's life right now. And even though we are walking to the rhythm of a new drummer, I am liking the new moves.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Half way through and the end is in sight

Summer. The month on the calendar says it has arrived. It is July after all. Yet the clouds in the sky and the temperatures say otherwise. The Pacific Northwest as had one of the oddest summers on record. And while I'd like a little more sun for my lovely tomatos I won't complain. No floods, tornados or hail. It is all about perspective.

Summer. It's a time for vacations and reunions of all sorts: the family and high school kind, trips to visit family and perhaps along the way find a place where summer has arrived.

One of the disadvantages of working at a college is that time is measured. Semesters come and go with the seasons. We are constantly reminded of where we are in the semester, just in case we forget. Which we never do. My co-workers, rightly so, can't wait for each semester to come to an end with hopes that the next one will have less stress. The issues that come up vary and the ebb and flow of working with young adults can be rather draining.

Especially in student life.

Typically summer is the only time most of my co-workers take off for vacation. This summer all three of my bosses have been gone at the same time. Silly them. :) In their absence I've had a long list of tasks to complete. Half way through the summer I am 97% complete with my list. I can leave on vacation without any looming tasks keeping me from having fun!

I will say that it is nice when summer is here. Plans to get something accomplished rarely go unmet. I catch up on the donkey work that seems to get put at the bottom of the pile.

I have the luxury of a window view so my cubicle gets plenty of sun, whenever it decides to rear it's pretty little head. Clouds, wind, birds, bugs...they all make their way past my view.

When I come back from vacation in August I'll be running. All three bosses will be back and I'll be scurrying around getting ready for the retreat and then, the start of the school year.

But it will still be summer, right? I'd love to take another trip to the beach with the dogs. We had so much fun that last time. I plan to make a journey with Roxy (and maybe Wade) up to visit Kalie in Seattle sometime in August. So maybe I am a little premature in thinking that my summer vacation is over once I get back from San Diego.

But I can see it. The end of summer. It hits me right in the face everytime I take a phone call from a student or parent. Things are ramping up here in the office. August will end with the beginning of school.

And that's the way it goes each year, leaving us with memories of summer that left us before it really began.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

....Only when I laugh

Life hurts. So do accidents.

Monday morning, just as I was getting ready to dry my hair and get to work, the phone rang. On the other end was Brenna, my oldest daughter who still lives in town. Surprisingly the was calmly telling me that she'd been in a serious car accident. Leaving my hair to dry in the wind and clothed myself and hopped in my car to rescue my baby.

There wasn't much I could do. She was standing at the scene trying to gather her wits. Her car was totaled. The other car that t-boned her only lost the license plate.

Due to the accident up the road a few blocks, two of three lanes of traffic had come to a stand still. The drivers in those two lanes waved her across. Cautiously she inched her way across the road, looking for any cars coming up that third lane, a turn lane. When she didn't see anything she went all the way and bam! The driver admitted that he wasn't looking at traffic cause he was watching the police lights up ahead.

When the dust and car parts settle it's Brenna's fault. She's got insurance but the final settlement is yet to be determined. My heart aches for her and the loss of her first safe, new car.

Her body is sore and she is under treatment of a chiropractor. Both her neck and hip is aching....but she says they only hurt when she laughs, or cries.

Accident number two came when one of the fledgling red tail hawks miscalculated and more than likely crash landed, injuring one of its legs.

I discovered this incident on Facebook when I saw someone had posted a news story complete with video of the police officer that found and rescued the young bird from Oak and Broadway. The poor thing was so scared it didn't even bother trying to fly away and easily walked into a large box for transportation to the Dove Lewis Animal Hospital. I am sure that the young bird of prey is now in the hands of the Audubon Society. Whether it will be released back into the wild is yet to be determined.

One of the teens had injured its leg prior to the three leaving the nest this past week. Everyone following the raptor cam was concerned about it. How would the leg injury affect his fledgling activities? Days prior to his leaving the nest the leg seemed to mend and allow him to fly away with his siblings.

However, all of the birds were now out of our sight. Unless we were physically downtown Portland we would not know what the birds were up to. Local folks posted updates on Facebook, but none of us had any control or would be able to assist the juveniles in any way.

Thankfully, the bird rescue was recorded by the local news station, KGW, and we were able to see for ourselves that the bird was injured, same leg as the one injured in the nest. (Today the Audubon Society messaged me that the bird is okay and being watched by their expert staff at the rehabilitation center.)

It's hard for people to watch real life unfold before their eyes. There are no guarantees that these birds will survive beyond their first year of life. In fact, it is almost a miracle that the three hawks survived till now! Death or severe injury could have befallen them prior to their leaving the nest and certainly is a great possibility from here on out.

We cannot keep these birds from harm.

I cannot keep my kids from harm...unless I plan to keep them in a bubble for the rest of their lives, which would be completely miserable.

To live in this world we must accept that bad things happen. That is a part of life. Keeping the bad things at bay is not living. Some of life's most exciting adventures come to us when situations run amuck. :)

The pain and agony of defeat comes with thrill and adventure....if you choose to look at it that way.

Learning also happens. I bet Brenna will NEVER cross a road in that same manner again.

And there are funny memories of this incident for Brenna. Certainly not then, maybe not now... but soon. I did get after Officer J. Fair! He kept doggin' Brenna to get a tow truck to get her car out of the way. The 3rd time I told him to back off. Yes I did.

We will also remember the 'dude' that hit her. What a gem. He admitted he wasn't paying attention to the road. And yet it is Brenna's fault. A lesson to learn.

Pain, heartache and disappointment hurt. But only when I laugh.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fly Away

When my children were small I pretty much lived in the moment. Together we made it through one day after another doing the things that families should do when their children are young. Watching the kids play, dance, sing and quarrel with one another, teaching them how to play, work and love. Through each phase of development I embraced the moment and enjoyed them right where they were. Many of these moments are recorded on video. I am so thankful that we have "Kalie can't dance" forever etched on DVD along with many hours of music, song, dance and just plain silliness.

Not once do I remember thinking about how my life would change when my children 'flew the coop.' Thinking about having an empty nest was not something that occurred to me when my children were young. It's not like I wanted them to always be with me but I just never imagined my life without them living in my home with me.

This spring some of my time has been consumed with watching two eagle nests and one red-tail hawk nest. The red-tail hawks nest has been the most rewarding because I have been actively watching since the eggs were laid. Also, since the nest is located in Portland, last weekend Wade and I went searching for the nest. A well placed camera angle gave me a clue to its whereabouts when a local business appeared on my computer screen.

From the moment the first chick hatched the drama of life and death has played out for anyone interested to see. This is 'reality T.V. at its finest! :)

The mother hawk laid four eggs. Each day through the cold early spring I watched mom and dad take turns keeping those eggs warm. Then as predicted by the Audubon Society moderator of the site, the female began turning her eggs in preparation for hatching.

During the nesting period plastic bags would appear in the nest. Their presence really bothered some people but there was nothing we could do. Speculation arose as to weather it blew up there (15 stories? not likely) or did the parents bring it to the nest?

The first chick hatched a few days before the other two. (The fourth egg never did hatch and would become a marker for us to compare the growth of the chicks.)

That first chick was strong and confident.

Once the three chicks had all hatched that plastic bag was used by the mother to protect the two small chicks from their oldest sibling. He was a mean and vicious creature! About day 5 after they hatched every time the mother got up that oldest chick would peck the young two siblings. It was so violent I couldn't watch! Others on the site felt the same way.

But then one afternoon I watched the mother get up off the chicks and she pulled that plastic bag over the two smaller chicks. The oldest sibling looked for his prey but they were not to be found. They were safely hidden from view. Momma to the rescue!!! Soon, the violence stopped and the chicks all got a long fine.

Several times each day food was brought into the nest. Most of the time the carcass was still and death had taken place in the air or at the time of the attack. Once I saw slight movement on a rat that was brought. The diet of the city birds was mostly pigeons and rats. The chicks all ate with great enthusiasm, each taking turns as the mother or father ripped small pieces of flesh to feed their young.

At first the three chicks stayed smack dead center in the nest. They didn't venture far from the safety they knew from birth. But soon, one by one, they began to wander out towards the edge of the nest, but well away from the edge of the railed staircase. Our moderator assured those who were fearful of their falling out of the nest that although it could happen, it was very unlikely.

In the same way it was exciting to see how the parents taught them to rip their food apart. As the blood feathers appeared and the white downy feathers gave way to the brown fledgling feathers, the parents would bring their meals to them and leave it in the nest. Gradually the parents had been weaning them from being fed by the parents and the chicks were expected to eat the meat themselves. It started gradually: First the parents would feed half the rat and then leave the remaining carcass for the chicks to figure out what to do. As you might imagine it was the oldest who showed the way for its younger siblings.

Eventually the chicks, starting with the oldest, began to practice flapping their wings. One by one they worked to stretch their wings in preparation for the day that we all know would come. Even though there was a bitter-sweet acknowledgement of the facts, I encouraged them when I saw them flap their wings. I cheered them on and felt a sense of pride for them.

Life in the nest atop the 15 story building must have been grand. But as all children must (or should) do, the day was approaching when one day it would be time to venture out on their own. I knew that one day I would log onto that web cam and the chicks would be gone. That day has come.

Yesterday I logged onto the site and the two younger chicks had left the nest area. Their older (and meaner) sibling has been absent from camera view for 4 days. If we were to go to Portland today we would likely find them in nearby trees or buildings, but they are no longer confined to the nest...their wings have strengthened and they have the freedom to fly wherever they care to go.

For a time they will follow mom and dad around and at least once a day ask them for food. For a awhile the parents will oblige. However at some point mom and dad will stop feeding them and force the 'teens' to start hunting the plentiful bounty of food on their own. And they will.

That's the way it is with human children. For a time we do everything for them. And then seemingly one day they want to fly by themselves. (Or drive in a car with a boy.) :)

I always have the memories of the past to warm my heart, and videos to remind me when my mind fails me. The best part of my parenting life now is watching them live the lives we tried to prepare them for. Tears of pride well when I hear stories of their lives now, whether they are delivering babies or teaching young men to live independently or flying (alone) to New York or participating in jury duty.

Although they are not all living in the nest, I don't have to look very far to see them flying around the trees and buildings, living and loving as I hoped they would.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mommy, what do you want to be when you grow up?

I am never quite sure about mother's day. Somehow the celebration of it feels forced. While everyone has a mother, not everyone has a mom.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want to tell my mom how much I love her or appreciate her. But I find it awfully presumptuous to think that everyone wants to honor or celebrate the person who brought them into this world.

Knowing that my mom doesn't get on Facebook, nor does she know how to get to this blog, I can safely write that while I love my mother and appreciate all that she has done for me and my family, our relationship has not been what I had hopes for. Enough said.

When I became a mother I am pretty certain that I remember looking deeply into Brenna's sleepy eyes while rocking her to sleep, whispering promises of what kind of mother I would be. I would be nothing like my own mom. In my profound and glorious wisdom I would improve greatly those areas that drove my own mother and myself apart.

Often I wonder if my mom ever made me promises of being a better mother than HER mom was to her!

Alas, over the years I found myself saying some of the crazy things my mom would say to me or grab the girls' arms and shake them when they misbehaved. Guilt and shame gushed into my heart washing away all my good intentions.

As the kids and I got older I saw glimmers of hope in my behavior as I worked to change the patterns developed. Conversations with Brenna and Kalie often prompted me to rethink my parenting style. Wade's influences too gave me courage to look at teaching, discipline and my reactions to situations from a new perspective.

Sure, there are plenty of awful memories of fights and arguments, times when I completely acted irrational and lost all sense of my grown up self. (Remember when I announced that you girls could do you own laundry from now on? It was right after you gripped about what we were having for dinner.)

Time and age become my friend as the memories of all my mistakes fade into the past and only the good memories are clearly seen in my mind's eye.

Yet guilt and regrets are hard to shake, and they often rear their ugly heads to remind you that you really aren't much better than anyone else.

Growing up is a never ending process. At least it shouldn't be. I am still a mom, but my roles have changed. I can't, try as I might, control my children. They are now all old enough to take care of themselves and in fact do a pretty good job of it.

So what kind of mom do I want to be, now that I am all grown up?

I want to be the kind of mom that encourages her children.

I want to be the kind of mom that speak truth and love, sprinkled of course with humor.

I want to be the kind of mom that my kids still want to call and tell me their joys, hurts, pains, sadness and hopes.

I want to be the kind of mom that prays for her kids.

I want to be the kind of mom that marvels at the adults her kids are becoming.

I want to be the kind of mom whose kids call her blessed. Because I am.

Thank you, Brenna, Kalie and Jesse: for being such amazing and wonderful children.

Happy Mother's Day! I love you!

Oh yah, and I really would like one more medium sized to large wind-chime.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life and Death...then choose life

As you may know I've been watching a couple of 'wildlife' cameras: One red-tailed hawk in Portland, and two eagle cameras. Live animal cams are much more interesting than watching 'Jersey Shore' or any other so called reality TV. You can't get more real than unscripted wildlife!

This fact hit several thousand people on Tuesday, April 26 when the female pair of bald eagles raising three chicks in Norfolk, Virginia's Botanical Garden was struck and killed by a plane getting ready to land at the airport. News coverage continues daily after the mother eagle was identified by wildlife staff experts at the park.

Yesterday afternoon over 11,000 viewers expressed their shock and grief at the loss of this eagle who raised 18 chicks, all surviving their first flight from the nest. The couple had 9 years together, raising a family each year before the watchful eye of devoted followers including many children in classrooms.

I can't find this quote, but I remember hearing it several times throughout my life, pertaining to the violent nature of wildlife. If we think that humans are brutal to their own kind, then just watch some of the stuff that happens in the wilderness.

And yet, as I navigate my way to the news website that hosts the camera, there are links to news reports about human tragedy:

~ Afghan officer opens fire, kills 9 Americans

~ Storms kill 11 in the south

~ Terror reigns in Syrian City

~ Nun stuck in elevator for 4 days

~ 190 killed by violent tornados in the south

Well, you get the picture. Death and destruction are happening all around us. And while a part of me mourns the loss of this magnificent animal the fact that people are suffering is not lost on me.

Humans connect with the actions and lives of animals. Perhaps some of the viewers wish their parents had cared for them as faithfully as the eagle couple cared for their young.

On the eagle cam blog people posted questions and comments like: "When do you think the father eagle will stop grieving." To which the wildlife expert replied "Eagles don't feel emotions in the same way that humans do."

Animal lovers tend to anthropomorphism when describing animal emotions. Although I am guilty of this as well, I have to chuckle when I read on the eagle cam blog about people feeling bad for the male eagle as he no longer has a mate nor his babies. The staff at the Norfolk Botanical Garden decided to remove the chicks to a wildlife rehabilitation center as they feared the male wouldn't be able to provide enough food for his three growing eaglets. While the decision to remove them is controversial, I believe that the decision for life was made.

In the cycle of life and death comes the reality that life is fragile. Accidents happen cutting life short, forever changing the lives of the people involved.

The eaglets, while not bound for certain death if left in the nest, now face a different future void of the kind of parenting that will give them the tools they need to make it in the wild. It's got to be complicated. But again, with the 'benefit' of technology we humans are given a birds eye view to the circle of life in the wild. The daily activities can't be scripted. The horrors of life played out before an audience on a live camera.

The same can be said for humanity. The random brutality of a tornado that took the lives of over 190 people last night give me pause. Human lives mingled with animal lives in that destructive force of nature.

With my passion for animals I have to work to keep humanity in the forefront of my concern. For I know that the brutality that befalls the animals that God created pales in comparison to the brutality that is inflicted upon those made in the image of God.

“Nature is not human hearted.” says Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu.

"Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man." Stewart Udall

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Big Day for Bird Watching

At 6:15 am (Pacific Standard Time) the process for banding the eaglets in Virgina began. What an amazing process. Best part of the day for me were these still close-ups of the babies. What a treat to see them up close without the camera swaying!

Here's the link to the website: http://www.wvec.com/marketplace/microsite-content/eagle-cam.html

Then, this early afternoon the Redtail Hawk chicks (at least two of them) hatched in Portland.

Imagine...this miracle is happening all over the world right now...spring is bringing forth its bounty and because of technology we get to see it! WOW!

(Below are two pictures taken by the Norfolk Botanical Gardens staff during the banding today. Look at their talons!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

And then the sun came to play

Birds singing in the cold but sunny backyard, squirrels searching for the remains of yesterday's nuts, and the sun....promising a full day of its rays brings a smile to every ones face.

Such is the life in the Pacific Northwest.

No complaining, just observing. We've had a fairly mild winter compared to the folks east of us. No windstorms, hail or tsunamis. But nonetheless, the sun is a welcome accompaniment to our days.

Even now as the puffy clouds roll into the sky it's a welcome change to the blanket of clouds that we've all gotten accustomed to over the last several months.

So as long as we can, look up and feel the warmth on your face. Sunday it will likely be rain drops splashing in your eyes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No Laughing Matter

(About the Photos - a stock photo of a Peregrine and the picture I took of the wounded bird in the floor of my car.)

Monday morning, March 7, 2011, started with me driving Fonzy to Carlton to have his stitches removed. But what happened along the way to Carlton made the rest of the day surreal.

Traveling along Hwy 240 in the morning at 8:15 am one must be alert. Travelers who obey the speed limit will be passed by cars in a hurry.

About 200 feet past Williamson Road I saw something small standing by the side of the road. Releasing my foot from the gas pedal I slowed down and saw a Peregrine falcon wobbling on the edge of the pavement.

With Wade's wise words ringing in my ears (Don't kill yourself trying to save an animal.) I made my way to the first driveway where I could safely turn around.

My mind was racing with plans as how to safely capture him without getting injured. They have sharp talons and beaks, and even though my intentions were honorable, he wouldn't know that.

As I approached the bird's location another car was speeding along. As the car approached the birds location the bird began to walk into the road.

Screaming for the bird to stop the car's momentum caught the bird and whirled it back onto the gravel where the bird lay still. Turning around at Williamson Rd. I inched myself back to the scene and saw this beautiful bird laying very still.

It was obvious from what I first saw that this bird had been injured. By what I was not sure. But the final blow surely came at the hands of that unsuspecting (and rather dull) driver.

Determining that death was certain, I made my way to my destination, Carlton Veterinary Clinic.

As I drove I thought of my friend at George Fox University, Don Powers. I was pretty certain that he could find a use for this bird and that perhaps it's death could be used to educate the students in his classes.

I called Don's assistant, Jane Sweet. She returned my call while I was in the vet's office, affirming my assumption that Don would like the bird.

Now my mission was not a rescue mission but rather a, what do they call it? Recovery mission.

I made my way into Williamson Road where road workers were setting up shop. I turned around and put my car on the side of the road. Gathering a few newspapers that happened to be in my car, I made my way to the lifeless bird.

As I got closer I realized that death had not made it's final sting. This gallant fellow was breathing. "You're alive!" Tears came to my eyes as I reached down with my hands, letting the newspapers fall to into the ditch. I carefully picked him up and made my way back to my car.

The remaining newspapers that were on the floor of the passenger seat served as a resting place. I took one of the pages and laid it over the top of his body to provide a barrier to the light and my presence.

Recovery mission urgently becomes a rescue mission. My first thought...where do I take a federally protected bird of prey?

I called Jane Sweet. She became my ally in this quest.

Two of the veterinary offices she called (not the one in Carlton) in Newberg were unhelpful. While Jane was on the phone with her calls I was calling 411 to call the Fish and Game department in Salem. After several recorded messages I finally left one.

My next call was to Newberg-Dundee Police - NOT 911 - but the business office.

Finally a helpful person gave me the phone number for the Audobon Society in Portland.

Nancy, a volunteer, agreed to meet me in King City for the exchange.

Although she suggested that I put 'Perry' in a box, I couldn't find one so I settled on a large towel. I dropped Fonzy off at home, grabbed the towel, and headed out to King City.

When I gave him to Nancy the brave bird was still alive. The rest of the day was a blur as I couldn't get this animal out of my mind.

As promised, Nancy phoned later that afternoon with an update. Sadly, our little fellow passed away soon after arriving in the parking lot of the rehabilitation center in North Portland. Nancy indicated that a post-mortem exam would be performed to determine cause of death. Again the tears came, softly. If only I had been able to rescue him before the car hit him.

Around 5 pm I received a call from someone else at the Audobon Society. The results from the exam were in. Not only did the bird have several injuries from blunt force trauma (the car) but he had also been shot. Murdered. Senselessly killed by someone. A human.

I am pretty sure that most of you don't even know what a Peregrine Falcon is! Read this!

This afternoon I received a call from an officer with the Fish and Game department. Since Peregrines are federal protected, this bird's death becomes a legal issue.

Peregrines are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

If we find the person(s) who shot this bird they could face a fine of $100,000.00 and up to six months in jail.

With my 'critical incident response training' from work I was ready to give this officer details. Time of day, exact location, state of the bird prior to the car hitting it, geographic area and who lived in the area (Oakhurst Farms) that might have seen or heard something.

In my minds eye I see this beautiful creature soar and dive. I see him flying high and catching a thermal as he hoovers over the trees and fields looking for food. His love and care for his mate and young as he brings food back to the nest.

has a huge investment in this lovely animal.

I keep in mind that humans too are murdered and mistreated all over the world. This fact keeps me looking at this bird's demise in perspective. The fact remains that many humans do not value life.

I believe that God is the creator of human and animal kind. God made me to care about both. I can't help it.

Perhaps heaven will be a place where we all can enjoy rather than destroy God's creation.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Each Time Somone Shows That They Care

My parents didn't hire many babysitters while I was young. At least I don't have any recollections of that one special babysitter. But if they did I am sure I would have wanted Mary Poppins to walk through the door with that spoonful of sugar and umbrella in hand.

Mary Poppins was iconic in so many ways. She embodies the characteristics I hold dear: Compassion, strength, sense-of-humor, musicality, and purpose.

In fact, of any Disney film (besides 'The Little Mermaid') it is the songs of this classic story that still ring within my heart, soul and mind. The list of songs alone takes me back to a time of youthful bliss:
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, I Love to Laugh, Let's Go Fly a Kite, to name a few. One of the songs Stay Awake, inspired me to create a bed time song for my own children, simply titled by my children, "The Wonderful Song."

Mary's whole persona is summed up in the song Jolly Holiday:

Oh, it's a jolly 'oliday with Mary Mary makes your 'eart so light! When the day is gray and ordinary Mary makes the sun shine bright! Oh, 'appiness is bloomin' all around 'er The daffodils are smilin' at the dove When Mary 'olds your 'and you feel so grand Your 'eart starts beatin' like a big brass band It's a jolly 'oliday with Mary No wonder that it's Mary that we love!

The songs, many accompanied with Dick Van Dyke's splendid Cockney accent, reverberate to this day with a hopeful, blissful emotion that carried it's young fans to another place and time. Like so many parents, Jane and Michael's were preoccupied with life outside the home. Although set in a different time period, many of the 50's and 60's moms and dads mimicked the rolls of that of the Bank's parents.

Somehow, without even knowing it, I listened to the LP of this movie (remember, this was all pre-VHS era) to escape into a place where not only did I identify with Banks children, but dreamed too that a Mary would come into my life and sing away all my sadness.

Thinking back to my youth, I clearly remember the effect of walking into my 4th grade classroom for the first time to meet the 'new teacher.' Miss Wildman had shoulder length, dark brown hair, a cute button nose, a smile that showed she cared and I was pretty sure she had a jar of sugar in her drawer. I was immediately in love with her.

Empathy and compassion are the two words that describe my memories of that year. Miss Wildman was without a doubt the grade school teacher that evokes the most emotion from me even now as I approach the golden years of my life. Miss Wildman was my Mary Poppins.

As a child, I was prone to creating illnesses in an effort to keep from going to school. (I compensated for this with my children by giving them plenty of 'excused absences' for mental health days.) After a while, they didn't believe my cries of wolf. When my parents sent me to school with the mumps, it was Miss Wildman that rescued me with a phone call to my mom to come pick me up, as it was obvious my throat was swollen.

Children need compassion in their lives. Growing up is hard to do. Compassion is one of the most important gifts we can give to our children: to all mankind for that matter. Life can be hard.

When I sat down to write today I was focused on the 25 or so birds that were feeding in my backyard. Typically when I 'bird watch' from my kitchen window a song rolls through my mind: You guessed it. Feed the Birds.

We've had new visitors to our backyard eatery, two migratory birds: the Townsend's Warbler and the White Throated Sparrow, which kind of looks like a Black-Throated Gray Warbler. This time of year is so much fun as the local birds mix it up with the visitors. The cold-arctic blast ushers in a first row seat to the ever changing cast of the stage.

Most of the drama is kept to a minimum. Occasionally the resident Harris Hawk makes an appearance. Silence is the clue to his arrival. Only once has tragedy struck when the remanents
of a Dove appeared on my front walkway. (See my Facebook photo album "Murder on Oxford."

As I sit hear writing I noticed that the songs of the singers in my backyard had stopped. I got up just in time to see the large wing span of a hawk flying overhead. Everyone flew for cover. As soon as the danger had passed the birds came back and the singing resumed. I love nature.

Feeding the birds is an expense my sweet husband allows, without guilt: he enjoys the show too. We have a joked about the Spotted Towhee that Wade declared spotting. To an untrained eye they look a lot like Robins.

He did see a Towhee, at least I know they are around. Just saw one today. You have been verified, Wade. :)

For our 25 wedding anniversary Wade and I traveled for 10 days to England and Scotland. We had two lovely days in London. While we didn't have much time we had to pick our sites to visit with great care. Top on my list was St. Paul's cathedral so I could feed the birds, and sing the song. As we neared the beautiful stone structure we were soon keenly aware that my dreams were going to be dashed by the sights and sounds of construction. The closest I could get was across the street from the steps of St. Paul. There was no bird woman with bags full of crumbs nor were their birds nor were there any birds filling the skies.

At the time it was a bitter disappointment for me. Although Wade urged me to stand as close as I could to the steps, it was far from what I imagined. My mood was foul and the song was lost in the honking and squawking made by humans, not birds.

Aside from all that, this story is about compassion. As you weave through these lines you will find elements compassion Mary Poppins, the Bird Woman of the song, my husband, and the simple act of buying bird seed and nuts for those feathered visitors in my backyard.

All of these are examples of what I believe God wants us to have for each other. Feeding the poor, helping the helpless, a kind word during troubled times, encouragement for the faint of heart.

Sometimes it is easier to shower compassion upon the animal creatures who share this tiny planet with us humans. I've heard it said that you can tell if someone has compassion for humankind by the way their treat animals. The opposite is true as well.

When my son Jesse was 3 years old, it was obvious that he had the gift of compassion. It was evidenced by so many examples, even as a young child. An incident at church one Sunday it forever etched in my mind. At the time we attended a large church. Jesse was standing next to Wade and I as we waited for the previous service to exit. All of a sudden Jesse began to cry. In his darling little voice he exclaimed that he felt bad for that little girl. Looking at the direction he was pointing I saw a little girl, not much older that Jesse, who's mom was bend over kissing the little girls finger. Jesse escaped my grasp and went over to her where he stared at her. I walked the few steps over to where the three stood and heard the mom explain to Jesse that the little girl got her finger shut in the door. I knew then by my little boys reaction that compassion would be something that came easy to him. Still true to this day.

I usually have a point to these ramblings. Here it is.

We all need to help each other along the way in life. All the social network options makes this pretty easy as opportunities to emote are readily available.

Look around you. See the people in your life who need a bag of compassion. Unlike the bird woman's crumbs, giving compassion is free.