Monday, April 28, 2014

Our Own Bluebirds of Happiness

In California, Fred and I owned a little two ounce ball of fluff--a cockatiel. She was yellow and her name was Crash due to her most ungraceful landings on the floor. When we left El Cajon, we gave Crash to a friend who loved cockatiels and would take good care of our bird.

In Garner, NC we no longer own a pet bird, but we have some very special bird friends. There’s a bluebird and his wife that have started a nest in our birdhouse placed outside the kitchen window

where we can observe them.

The only bluebirds I’d ever seen were in Disney movies. It seems Cinderella and Snow White were young enough and agile enough to pop out of bed in the morning with a song on their lips. Their songs attracted bluebirds who flew in to help them dress. I have yet to train our bluebirds to help me dress, maybe it’s because I don’t pop out of bed with a song on my lips. It’s more like a creaky crawl with a groan.

We also have a bright red cardinal that comes to our bird feeder in the backyard but I’ve yet to be able to photograph him.  He gets jitterish and disappears as soon as I get my camera in hand. But the bright red against the green forest is stunning.

Since this column is supposed to be about writing, and since I want to promote my latest book, let me give you a brief snippet from Willard Manor that mentions birds.

Chapter Twelve
Ruth and Esther were in the back yard, their mouths and apron pockets full of clothespins. The wind snapped the wrinkles out of the white sheets that hung on the line stretching from the apple tree to a maple tree. While hanging pillowcases, a loud ruckus interrupted the soothing sounds of birds chirping and honeybees buzzing. Esther turned toward the sound. “Good land! What on earth could be making that racket?" They walked around to the front yard and found Henry and Benjamin standing in front of a black automobile, both men grinning from ear to ear.

Benjamin looked at Esther. “What do you think, old girl? Do you like it? This is a brand new 1908 Model T Ford automobile!”

“Well I never!” sputtered Esther. “Who would have thought that we’d actually own an automobile in our lifetime?"

“Come around here,” said Benjamin, “Take a look at these headlights, solid brass they are, just like the side lamps, the horn…”

“My, my,” crooned Esther, “and just smell those leather seats!”

Ruth ran her hand lovingly over the car. “Can we go for a ride?"

Henry hugged her. “Wonderful idea! Let’s get the boys and go into town for ice cream."

Ruth and Esther removed their aprons, adjusted their long skirts and climbed into the back seat. By sitting close together, they had room on the back seat for Samuel and Thomas. Henry turned the crank while Benjamin started up the car, then Henry jumped in the front passenger seat.

Driving into town, the Willards and Wilburns wore smiles that couldn’t be wiped off. At the ice cream shop, customers in the store and passersby on the street stopped to stare at the automobile and ask questions about it. Benjamin and Henry became instant local celebrities as they proudly showed off their new Model T. They had entered a new era and style of living and were moving up in the world.
Quote of the Day:  Praise to thee, my Lord, for all thy creatures.  St. Francis of Assisi.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Nature - Up Close and Personal

Since moving to North Carolina we've learned that the weathermen here have a lot more work to do than the ones in San Diego.  About all a San Diego weather reporter has to say is, “Overcast in the morning, high in the mid seventies by afternoon.”  Day after day after boring day.  

Here, outside Raleigh, every day is different and the weathermen are kept on their toes. And surprisingly, they pretty much nail it every time.  If they say it’s going to start snowing at noon, by gum you’d better be prepared for snow at noon.  (We found that out the hard way.) 

Last Saturday night, we got an up close and personal look at the job the weathermen do in this area.  Fred and I were playing Yahtzee at the dining room table when my cell phone went off like a siren, warming us of a tornado alert.  Almost instantly, my daughter texted me that a tornado just went by their house in Lillington and was headed our way.  We turned on the TV and sat mesmerized by the accurate, street by street description of where the tornado was, every step of the way.  When it  got to the intersection of I-40 and I-42, we knew it was six miles away.  Then it got to I-42 and Benson Road - four miles away.  Then it was at Benson and 1010-a mile away.  By now, we were in our “safe place” as we’d been told to do which, for us, was our bathroom.  We kept the door open so we could look down the hall at the TV.  Pretty soon we heard that the tornado was a few streets over and on its way north to Raleigh so we went back to the dining room.  I must confess it was scary but exciting at the same time.  My first tornado alert!  The tornado did touch down at one place in Garner but not much, if any, damage was done.  We’re very thankful that we and my daughter and her family came through unscathed.  I have to say that the weathermen really work for their pay here.  

This Saturday Fred and I got up close and personal with four does that walked into our front yard then wandered around to our backyard and stayed around for an hour or so.  We threw bread out to them and they happily ate it.  We were able to sit in our rocking chairs on the back porch and watch them and take pictures of them.  They seemed to be in no hurry to leave; certainly we were in no hurry to see them leave.  After a while a fifth one joined them; none of them seemed particularly threatened by us.

Living in North Carolina keeps life interesting.  Now that the good weather is back, we’re loving it here.

Quote of the Day:  In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.  Aristotle