Finally a fix!

Boomer and I have a mutually agreeable arrangement on chilly evenings; he keeps my lap warm and I massage his ears and neck until he reaches something like bunny nirvana and rolls softly aside onto the carpet. Then I can go back to whatever it was that I was trying to do with him stretched out beside me. Boomer is a big boy and takes up all of my lap and stretches almost to my ankles if the massage is good. Sometimes if we’re in a groove, I’ll look up to notice that my feet and his ears are pointing in the same direction.

I’m missing the days when I could let the bunnies roam around the house for play. Buddy was mostly scared of getting in trouble for being too near to them; little Luka is all mouth and danger to a bunny. So the bunnies have been kept in their separate room and I haven’t had much chance to take pics of them; hence the lack of mid-week bunny fixes lately. Finding the time to exercise a pup is challenging; finding time to exercise 5 rabbits also is impossible! Boomer and Sunshine get lots of time out (though they hardly exercise – the big lugs!) – it’s the little bunnies here that aren’t getting the attention lately that they’re used to.


A gift from the spring garden.

Cathy at Looking Up is sharing the nicest sort of meme on her blog and I thought it might be nice to play. The idea is that I’ll send along some little gift to the first three people that comment here, so long as you continue the giving by posting the same meme on your own blog. I’d like to think up some way for people who don’t have blogs of their own to play along, as it seems you all are always left out of the fun, so maybe I’ll dream something up for that possibility.

Cathy explains that the gift needn’t be of any real value, but should instead be motivated by the beauty of sharing some small part of yourself, or something you make with your hands, or grow in your garden.

Gratitude 11/13/07

I noticed the sad smiles of the nurses and the way they left us finally alone with him; the discarded socks; the empty lobby; the absence of any doctors.

I heard the silence of the useless machines; Sinatra singing about easy street; sirens wailing somewhere off in the darkness; the phone ringing too early, my brother apologizing for the hour, but “Come” he said; the rush of hot water on my heavy head.

I admired his grace and final acceptance; making it easy for us, for me, by not coming home to die; his concern always for someone else, someone worse off than he.

I was astonished by the snow in mid-November; by my brothers surprised faces that I should take my time in getting there; astonished that our last real talking had been about that damned car just a week earlier; that we would end this day scrutinizing his tuxedo and its cigarette burns.

I’d like to see that sunrise again, over the ocean, with the snow falling outside the window; him at the coffee pot or brooding over his computer; that light he kept in his eyes for me; his feet stamping and anger that used to frighten me so.

Most tender was Brian holding his hand and our laughter with the funeral director that afternoon writing his obituary; my friend Cathy standing off in the back, uncomfortable.

His quiet sleep was most wonderful, most deserved; seeing the men from his lodge that came out for him, so many that do this as routine; an end to the pills and eating cardboard; an end to the slow deterioration and loss of him.

I thought it was another setback, not the end. Really, I should have seen what was happening; his tears the day he left here; his fear at being alone in the world; his confusion of my life with another’s; his quietness; his surrender.

Mary Oliver fans probably recognize the format of her poem, “Gratitude”, borrowed here without any poetry. I had wanted to write something for my dad yesterday and couldn’t, but this poem helped me today to examine my memories of the day he died. Last year I had a little more fun remembering.

The long way home

“Or you could be the one who takes the long way home
Roll down your window, turn off your phone
See your life as a gift from the great unknown
And your task is to receive it
Tell your kid a story, hold your lover tight
Make a joyful noise, swim naked at night
Read a poem a day, call in well sometimes and
Laugh when they believe it”
–Mary Chapin Carpenter from “The Long Way Home”

I’m calling in well tonight.


Yes, my friends were surprised to see me at 7 on a Sunday morning. I’ve birded with these two for years, but lately have been very lazy about getting up early enough to do it. Of course I got to Sandy Hook late and missed seeing the day’s kestral at Plum Island, but the nice color the early sun brought to the marsh and their faces was enough.
It still looks like summer on the beach side of the Hook; the only giveaway to the morning chill was the fishermen in their wet suits. We pulled a few gannets from the ocean, but no loons yet.
We walked all morning, to North Pond and South Pond, Horseshoe Cove and the Fishing Beach. Off Gunnison (the nude beach,in case Susan is paying attention) we found a nice flock of sanderling and two black-bellied plovers. I should have known them by their size, but it was their fluting toor-a-lee, like a melancholy sea bluebird, that gave them away.
I don’t think I could ever tire of watching sanderlings and was glad to see such a large group huddled together against the wind. Have you ever seen sanderlings hop on one foot before the surf, rather than running like they normally do? Funny – that sight was my delight this morning!

I apologize for the odd shaped pics, but I had lens issues and had to do some serious cropping. Please do click on the pics for a (somewhat) better view.

The world is an orange

A visit to the beach at any time should be restful, but at sunset, for me, it’s often a time of rest without rest. I’m inclined to lie down in the dunes and read or to watch the sun go down between sleepy eyelids. But my thoughts are soon invaded by memories, by tiny moving clouds, by a trifling and dry rain – a shower of sand that itches behind my eyes. It’s a restless, poorly delineated time. I can’t concentrate on what I’ve read, the mosquitoes buzz, the sun is half friend, half foe. And if it rains, the water has an odd murmur that makes me uneasy because I can’t understand it. And a fog at the ocean brings the ghost of melancholy.

As kids, a day at the beach meant simply, radiantly, freedom. The adults napped or chatted in their beach chairs high above the tideline. It was our time and kids aren’t afraid of the sun. Half-naked, free, oblivious we ran beneath the sun and in and out of the waves like sea creatures. We carried on, stepping on broken seashells, the evil shards waiting among innocent clam shells to pierce our bare feet. The distant dunes full of beach plum and the marsh behind, always the marsh and the bay. Something was always lost in our flight there: a sandal or some small toy. Something that we couldn’t go back to look for because we were afraid of repeating the adventure to get there. The marsh grasses were crushed underfoot because the dog was following us, panting with his tongue hanging out and his eyes full of tiny sparks of gold. The neighborhood boys with their jars filled with jellyfish, bottlecaps, found treasures.

Friendship is a great discovery at eight, at nine, at eleven. Larry, the one with the gaps in his teeth. Will and his copper hair sticking up over his ears. Maria with her big round eyes. Lisa, Toni, Greg, John. So many names, the bay behind the marsh, and the sea:

“What is the sea like?”

And we would spread open our arms:

“The sea is…”

The sudden laughter, the punches and jabs. Something pulled from the muck slipped in our unskilled hands, the shirt was lost.

“What is the world like?”

“The world is like an orange…”

The afternoon was coming to an end and the fear was beginning: the lost sandals, the drenched clothes, the scratched knees.

Now, at the beach, I almost don’t even think. Voices come to my ears, and even on a fall afternoon there is a distant warmth on my skin, a strong and fresh fragrance on the wind:

“The world is an orange…”


My idea tonight, to mark the passing of two years of blogging, was to select a favorite post from each of the past twelve months. Reading through the archives this evening I found I couldn’t possibly do that, as some months were so full of wonderful things and others full of sadness of some sort or another, and other months were filled with posts but empty of any real thoughtfulness… and how do I choose among them for a favorite?

Being easier on myself, and not so much in the mood for making all those links, I thought instead I’d post just twelve favorite photos from the past year, but I can’t even seem to do that. Most of the photos I share here are so essentially tied to the mood of the posts that I can’t really separate them.

I can say that my enjoyment in blogging hasn’t diminished, although my enthusiasm has waned from time to time. I’m still glad you come around for a visit now and again and hope you’ll continue to share your friendship here with me. I do wonder what we’ll dream up to ramble on about in this next year.

In the neighborhood

Vicki at A Mark on My Wall likes to refer to the people in her blogroll as her *neighborhood* and I’m stealing her jargon to point out some interesting posts you may have missed.

I don’t know about you, but when I decide to peruse another’s blogroll, I tend to start at the top and may never find my way down to the very bottom of the list. Because my list is alphabetical, I worry that you may be missing out on some fantastic blogs.

Way down at the end of the alphabet is Whorled Leaves, the nature reading blog I contribute to. We’ve been pretty quiet of late, but I have to suggest a book to the group in another month or two and would love some ideas from you all of a few good, nature-inspired books for our group to read and blog about together.

Walking the Berkshires is written by Tim, a friend at Whorled Leaves, and he recently wrote about a walk in the November woods that I found very beautiful. He’s starting a new blog carnival that he’s calling Cabinet of Curiosities to showcase the oddities in your attic. Tim’s blog is great fun for the history buff and I can also imagine Donna enjoying his occasional tales of his time spent in Africa.

Dave at Via Negativa recently wrote about a golden eagle that dropped into his family’s property in Pennsylvania. Check out the curve of those talons in the opening photo – spectacular! Dave stops by here from time to time and of late has been leaving haiku comments on the blogs he favors. Gotta love a poet!

FC at Pure Florida writes about all things…. well… Florida and this post momentarily (mostly that opening photo) made me think he had paid a visit to NJ. I love visiting his blog for the chance to read about *our* birds that have gone away, plus he finds the best things on his adventures.

Did you catch the current issue of the Festival of the Trees at Windywillow? (Scroll down as the there are two posts for this issue). The deadline for the December issue is the 29th of November. Submission guidelines can be found at the festival’s homepage.

Lastly, I’m obliged to mention that Mike at 10,000 Birds has a book giveaway offer for Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide which he reviewed here. Stop by to read the giveaway rules.

Whew – it’s a busy neighborhood!

Send mittens

I’m working on a theory and need you to play along with me here. Given my history with phone issues, I think there must be some sort of conspiracy at work in my life: I’m convinced that all the phone companies are out to get me, even the cell phone companies.


Why can’t I sit on my couch and make a call on my cell phone? Should I really have to drive or walk halfway to the next town to be able to hear the person I’m talking to? How is that fair?

So tell me. How many bars do you have at home? Do I maybe need to switch providers (again) and hope for better service? Cave in and pay AT+T for long distance to avoid shivering in the cold this winter? Give up my faraway friends?

Do tell. And send mittens.