Reluctant Chicken Farmer revealed

When he’s not tending to his chickens or garden, or ranting about something or other, my brother Kevin moonlights as a computer geek.

Isn’t he cute?

We got together tonight so he could load PhotoShop onto my shiny new Mac, but there was a technical snafu, so that didn’t happen.

My computer geek brother brought home the Windows version of PS rather than the Mac version.

(rolling my eyes)

I took the opportunity to harass him some about not updating his blog in weeks. I helped my niece with her math homework. I got a tour of his new barn, but the chickens were already asleep.

Early-risers apparently.

Do you have a sibling with a skill that makes them your *go-to person* for something? What is it? Do they usually come through for you?


In addition to his computer skills, I can always count on Kev to keep me laughing.

Back among the living

I’ve been pretty out of it the last couple days… funny how not feeling well can so easily reduce one’s *to-do list* to the barest of essentials, things like:

finding the very softest spot on the pillow to lay my head

keeping the tips of my toes under a blanket; my upper body was alternately (maddeningly!) hot or cold, but those toes had better be covered!

dreaming up something (anything!) that would make my sore throat feel better… chocolate pudding (somewhat)… popsicles (didn’t last long enough)… warm saltwater (ick, but effective)… coffee (felt awful; you can imagine the state that had me in!)… chicken soup (nice, but the noodles felt like they were getting stuck way back in my throat)

TMI, I know.

Anyway… I was at the doc in a box place before they even opened on Saturday morning.

And back at the pharmacist on Sunday morning wondering if the darn antibiotics shouldn’t have me feeling at least a little bit better by now?

I have to be desperate before I’ll see a doctor. Once I’ve taken that risk, I expect to be rewarded with feeling better pretty quickly. Waiting on meds to work their magic is hard when you’ve hardly slept or ate or done anything without a small measure of pain for a few days.

Builds compassion for others who are genuinely sick though, I think.

I felt the first tinges of an appetite returning late last night and managed a whole bowl of cream of broccoli soup.

Then I slept like a zombie and this morning there was coffee again.


Today I’m aching to be out with my camera capturing more of that late summer light.

i’ve been

swooning over skimmers

contemplating colors for toenails

thinking about a perfect day

staring at a september sky from the shade of my very favorite lighthouse

reading books in bed

finding peace in the sweet lullaby of waves outside my window

flipping rocks to find nothing underneath but sun-warmed crickets and roly-poly bugs

feeling ridiculously happy

loving the way the late afternoon sun makes everything beautiful

marveling at the fall flight of osprey and eagles and peregrine falcons

contemplating colors for toenails

(over-thinking it, probably)

feeling thankful for monarch butterflies and the people who love them

wondering if forever means tomorrow, too

deciding now is what matters most

finding that places remembered have changed

falling in love again, anyway

dreaming of enough days to make up for lost time

enjoying the peculiar kitsch of the jersey shore

the sharing of it and the sand between our toes

indulging the last weekend of summer

cape may finally!

(i’ve been busy)

That sixth sense

Do you have it?


Maybe you call it intuition?

You know… that little tingle in the pit of your stomach… that something mysterious outside of normal perception?

I do, at least… I think it to be true. I hardly pay enough attention to it, to that part of myself that tries to warn me of something bad looming on the horizon, but I’m trying to learn to trust what my gut seems to sense, somehow.

Flaky and weird, yes, I know.

A most recent example… yesterday. Before the fire.

A routine home visit with a not so routine client of mine. Legally blind and bi-polar. She’s not particularly communicative. Odd, most people would say.

Thank heavens she wasn’t at home when the fire broke out.

She’s okay!

This is, after all, the type of thing that would have my name in the paper, under an ugly large-type block headline.

We did paperwork and then I did my inspection of her apartment. There’s a whole laundry list of things I’m to check for. Safety is foremost, but there’s also cleanliness. Just two things stood out: her stove didn’t work properly; two burners were dirty enough that they wouldn’t light and she needed to do a better job of cleaning up the bird seed her pet parakeets were throwing everywhere. I made a note on my report and suggested that she clean the stove and vacuum her carpets better.

Almost on my way out the door, I backtracked to check the smoke detectors. They’re high on my list, but often overlooked unless they’re chirping away annoyingly with a spent battery. Her smoke detector (one, only) seemed okay, but I couldn’t test it properly, even with a broom, because it was detached from the ceiling, for whatever reason. I tried like hell… even stood on my tiptoes, but couldn’t get leverage on the thing.

Bugged me. That feeling, you know, the one in the pit of your stomach…

First thing this morning my intention was to call that landlord and get him out there to fix the darn stove and smoke detector…

Before I even sat down at my desk, the phone was ringing.

As usual.

A detective from the AP police department. There had been a fire… paper was used to ignite a burner (and discarded carelessly in the trash.)

My client had wandered out to the store after cooking lunch without realizing there was a fire brewing in her trash bin.


A neighbor heard the smoke detector going off, though. Called the fire department.

My client’s ok. Her birds aren’t. My name won’t be in the paper, at least.

Check your smoke detectors! Every month!

Photos from Jasper Knob overlooking Ishpeming Michigan. For any of you rock-heads, Jasper Knob is a bald-topped hill composed entirely of jaspilite (banded hematite and jasper).

You can’t get there from here without a lot of trouble

Click to see the full mess!

All along the route
their patience waned
as the roads turned sandier
down to the Jersey shore
when back ways could not avoid
the open bridge
as one slow thin mast
would paralyze the day
and our front-seating it
pushing crowding forward
“not there yet!”
then racing
who’d see the ocean first
pushing towards its vastness
our young lives stretched out
in unending summer
and in one shell
its mystery

“Before the Parkway” by Jerome Leary

The Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge, a 1240 foot drawbridge that spans the Shrewsbury River, is being replaced with a fixed-span bridge that will rise some 30 feet higher than its predecessor.

Gone will be the occasion to put the car in park and step out for twenty minutes while the bridge is open to watch the sailboats go by underneath. Gone will be that instant of panic when the light on the drawbridge turns from green to yellow to red and you wonder if you should chance it before the bells and gates descend to make you twenty minutes late for wherever it is you’re meant to be on the other side of the crossing. Gone will be the convenient excuse of the bridge being up. Gone will be the pause on a summer day.

In the meantime, we have this mess of cranes and a crazy maze to navigate the way from here to there. I can’t help but be discombobulated by the change.

Are drawbridges in your neck of the woods being replaced, too? Will you miss them?

Birds at Rocky Point

Susan and Seamus came to their first-ever birdwalk without a pair of binoculars between them. As Field Trip Chairperson, I’m supposed to be prepared for this inevitable oversight on the part of the beginning birder with spare bins to loan out, should anyone need a pair.

Of course I always forget the box of loaner bins that’s buried in a closet somewhere. Luckily someone else in our little group had an extra pair to share. Beginners are such fun and really make these walks for me. They’re enthusiastic about every bird and are curious about everything. I think I’m so used to birding with people that know more than me that it’s nice to feel like an expert once in a while.

We birded in the rain, but did pretty well considering the lousy weather. Rocky Point has an interesting history as a coastal defense site and the views on a sunny day can be dramatic. This morning, the ocean and the river and the sky were all gunmetal gray.

The shrubby fields around Battery Lewis held the expected redstarts and cat birds, a baltimore oriole and lots of vocal carolina wrens, plus some massing tree swallows and a lone chimney swift overhead. We had a nice look at a Peregrine and a couple Osprey, too.

Down at the fishing pier at Black Fish Cove, we found a yellowlegs and a couple oystercatchers, plus a very wet and cranky-looking red tail perched along the river.

Our species count for the couple hour walk was only 35, but for these beginners willing to be out in the rain, each was a small, wet joy.

MCAS field trip

Monmouth County Audubon’s first Fall field trip is this Saturday at 9 am at the Rocky Point section of Hartshorne Woods.

I’m not sure that we can expect to see very many birds, but I think this is the best time of the year to be out looking for them! The nights are getting chilly, beach plums are ripening, dog-day cicadas are in full chorus and goldenrods, boneset, and asters are in bloom.

If you’re in the neighborhood, why not join us!

Know bones?

Out at Sandy Hook the other day, among the clamshells and bits of drift washed ashore, we found this part of a skull that I imagine belonged to a bird. It’s a duck’s bill, I think.

I’m not really even sure which way is up, but the bottom (pictured, I think) has an interesting texture, almost coral-like, that I imagine has happened since the bill was attached to anything living.

I checked in my Bird Tracks and Sign book, which has a section on skulls, but didn’t find anything to help me beyond the guess that it’s a duck’s bill.

Anyone know of a good online reference?