Wednesday, January 29, 2014


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From shoveling out to get the CoCoRaHS cylinder to melt some snow and get the water content.

The birdbath from yesterday’s Bluebird post after 6-7 inches of snow.

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See who came to get a drink today? Looks kinda deep to me! He shows up better when sitting on the frog’s head.

And, no, I have not seen any bluebirds today. I almost did not see any of my Buddhas either.

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Buddha in a blanket?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Here on the Eastern Shore they have a saying that if snow hangs around,


it is waiting for more. And with the temps in the 20s, I was preparing for the next snow today when I happened to glance out the kitchen window and thought I saw a bit of blue where I seldom see any blue…


Forgetting my chores, I looked around the back yard and could not believe my eyes. Scattered around the yard were well over a dozen bluebirds (and spouses) sitting in the bushes,


on various perches,


and even on St Fwankie’s head!


Try as I might, I could not get more than 5 or 6 bluebirds in any one picture frame.DSC_0535

So, I gave up since I had to go to work, but imagine my excitement when I came home and saw 11 of them and DSC_0505a few other little visitors gathered at the birdbath. For those of you who are new to my blog, that is a birdbath deicer in the water.

It is the most popular watering spot in town as it is the only unfrozen water out there. It is usually empty in the morning as the deer come to visit at night along with raccoons, possums, and the gray fox family.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter Storm Janus 1-22-14


Well, Winter Storm Janus blew in last night in a bad temper. Snow is one thing we all enjoy every once in a while, the high winds are another thing. Then, too, temperatures in the teens are a shock to our sensibilities around here. My camellias are frozen. Not nice, Mr. Weather! In truth, we had only 4 inches more or less – with the blowing it is hard to measure how much actually came down – but here on the Shore, 4 inches might as well be 4 feet. The phones started ringing at 6 AM with cancellations. The radio had been broadcasting nothing but cancellations since 5 AM, foregoing all other broadcasting except ABC News and Mike Huckabee and a couple funeral announcements. I mean, who needs to listen to advertising when you can’t get out of your driveway anyway, right?

One interesting comment by our announcer (and owner of the station) was to tell the Good Old Boys to stay off the road. “Yeah, I know,” he said, dropping his voice and adding the drawl of the uneducated, “I got 4 wheel drive, man, I can go anywhere. I am out here to help people who get stuck!” Then he paused for dramatic effect, “And you end up in the ditch with the rest of them causing more problems than you can ever could fix, blocking road clearing crews and even emergency vehicles. So stay the heck home and off the roads!” Of course, the bulk of the sales on days like this are – guess… go ahead… milk? No. Bread? No… Baby formula? Nope, not that either… beer. Well, if you can’t get to work what else is there to do? So, half of the 4 WD pick-ups in the ditch are drunk drivers anyway. Whoopee.

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OK, I digress… so what else is new? Anyway, here is the scene out my back door onto the carport which is protected on one side by the house, a little by the furnace room, and, of course, has a roof over it. Look at that snow, will ya? It was all the way up on the top step. See how it has drifted by the bottom step? I had to sweep off the steps to get to the snow shovels. I have 2 – one is an old aluminum shovel, one is plastic. This was an aluminum shovel type of snow because that is ice under there on the ground and on the concrete. My van was covered with almost as much snow as my truck that was sitting out in the yard.

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The greenhouses were struggling to stay above freezing with ice crystals on the doors. My little incandescent bulbs were working overtime keeping my bucket of bricks warm. I hoped none of them burn out during this below 20 weather. I would hate to open the doors to change a bulb!


It was not a ‘pretty’ snow. The high winds blew most of the snow off the branches. On the other hand, that kept things from snapping and coming down on power lines… unless the wind did it. The prayer flags got a good workout blowing so hard you couldn’t even tell if it was Sanskrit or Hebrew on them. But the early morning sun was pretty and a promise that things would thaw. Eventually. The daffodils have been up, some as much as 6 inches, but they were invisible this morning. In a good year, they bloom the end of February. I have a feeling they will wait until March this year. But, who knows?


The Buddha was wrapped in a nice blanket of white while St Fwankie kept an eye on the birdbath deicer. The little critters were very thankful for that tiny pool of not quite freezing water. However, I have a couple wrens and sparrows that have discovered the cat’s heated water dish and take an occasional drink out of that. I tried to get a shot of one of the little fellows last week when it was so cold hunkered down at the bottom of the door to the furnace room. When I opened the back door, he hopped out a ways, but went right back to the door after I shut the kitchen door once again. I think he is smarter than Spook who has abandoned his heated box now that Punkin is no longer there to defend him. Bless his heart. A friend renamed Spook last week calling him a kittidiot. I have to agree. He is such a scaredy-cat that it often applies.

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The new generator is here… but the inspector has not been here and I am on a long waiting list for the gas tank. I can only hope I don’t need it.

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And these last 2 shots are of my CoCoRaHS official precip cylinder – minus the inner core that stays in the house during freezing weather where it will measure the melted snow for water content.

I hope the storm was not a bad event for you and yours. Stay in, stay warm, stay safe!

Sunday, January 19, 2014



As many of you might remember, from time to time I have done tributes to folks I considered my heroes. I like to do them while the person is still here and not wait until they are not around to read it. Sometimes I like to do these posts with the person’s blessing. Jackie, while not being exactly uncooperative, basically ignored my begging for a picture to use on one such post. I could not find any picture where she was not one of a large group, and I did not want to use that group on a blog. Sadly, I had to wait until Jackie was no longer walking among us to get her picture… from the funeral home’s obituary. Jackie

I don’t remember when I first met Jackie… it just seems like she was always there… somewhere. I think actually the very first meeting was about a real estate transaction, trying to find a place for a friend to live… and there was just something about Jackie that made me remember her some years later when I began to run into her again and again. I think working with her in Hospice was the time I got to know her better. We shared a very difficult patient, I became frustrated and ready to walk away, Jackie became MY rock and mentor. This was back in the 70s. It was the beginning of a long mentorship.

Since Jackie is gone and can’t read this, I will speak more freely. Jackie was married for 53 years. After her husband passed, Jackie was like a reborn spirit. Free at last to pursue her own interests, she blossomed. (From the obituary: After her husband's death, Jackie moved to Accomac, VA, where she was known for changing the spiritual life of the shore through healing touch.) That special part of Jackie that had been mostly hidden for so many years by an extremely dominating man burst forth and the healer came thru. If you read the tributes on the funeral home’s tribute page, you will see that I was by far not her only admirer. She was a mentor to so many. Under Jackie’s teaching and others, I studied various forms of Healing Touch, eventually becoming certified, also. At the same time, I taught her healing practices used by one of my family members. I am so honored to say that when Jackie got sick, she would call me to come and “work” on her. Likewise, one Mother’s Day, maybe 15 years ago (?) I was taken to the hospital ER doubled over with abdominal pain that just did not want to go away. After 13 hours in the ER, they admitted me to the hospital. The next day, the anesthesiologist came to my room to give me my pre-surgery pep talk. I could not get a definite answer as to what they were going to do when they opened me up… “Oh, just look around a bit, see what is going on…” and the usual no dinner, no food, going to surgery at 8 AM… WHAT? Just to have a little look around?

He left the room. I had a friend call Jackie. When we had her on the phone, I told her to get down there immediately, told her what was going on, what the doc said, and we agreed no one was cutting me open if we could prevent it. It took Jackie a half an hour to drive those 25 miles. Jackie was about 80 years old at the time. She worked and worked, shifting my energies around, and the pain started to leave. After a couple hours, Jackie sat down to take a break, drink some water, catch her breath… I did mention she was 80 at the time?… and she started over again. Healing Touch is a very physically demanding activity. After a couple more hours, I was able to sit up with no pain, stand up with no pain, got myself dressed and checked myself out of the hospital. No knife for Jan!

Jackie was the first to go to the Monroe Institute. I soon followed. If you want to know more about Monroe, check their website. It is an amazing place with some amazing programs. If you have the skills to do this, it will change your life. It is not for everyone.

Jackie and I became partners in drumming, especially for healing. I gave her her first healing drum. Its name was Luke. I still have Luke, Jr. and use him only for special occasions. One of my favorite memories of Jackie drumming was one night when I had about 8 or 9 drummers here in my living room, we had been going at it for a good hour when Jackie’s drum went silent. Most of us drummed with our eyes closed, almost going into a trance like state of meditation, but yet with awareness to every other drum in the room… Luke was quiet. I opened my eyes and there was Jackie peeling off her sweat-shirt… and then she resumed drumming. I glanced around the room. A few others had noticed Luke was missing for a minute, we finished drumming with smiles on our faces as Jackie happily drummed away in her Playtex. I was reminded of the old Maidenform commercials – “I dreamt I was drumming in my Maidenform bra!” When we took a break, she looked around the room – we were all women – and said, “What? I got hot!” Drumming is a very physical as well as spiritual activity.

After Jackie moved to Iowa to work on her sister who had cancer, our drumming group seemed to have much less power. The spiritual chemistry had changed and all of us together could not begin to make up for that loss. It was just not the same. Funny how one or two people can make or break a group. When all of our own little group of like-minded folks drummed together, magic seemed to happen.

One belief (among many) that Jackie and I held in common was that it was important to give healing (or help of most any kind) away. Jackie set up a healing institute here on the shore. It basically made no money. Those who could pay did. If you couldn’t, you didn’t. The universe has a way of evening those things out. There Jackie practiced her Healing Touch and Reiki (she was a Reiki Master) much of it pro-bono. She brought in a wonderful acupuncturist who also did a lot of pro-bono work. He drove down from Salisbury to treat people at Jackie’s place a couple days a week. Some days the trip cost him far more than he made for his efforts. But Max realized, like Jackie, the more you give, the more you receive – and cash is not always the answer. Then Max remarried. His wife, also an acupuncturist, was more mercenary, and Max’s trips south came to an end. There is a long story there, but this is not the space for it. Suffice it to say, the more you give of yourself in compassionate ways, the happier you will be. That is the Law of the Universe.

In Iowa, Jackie’s energies were spent getting her sister well again. Once that was accomplished, Jackie looked for a space to teach and practice her Healing skills. She continued to teach and practice well into her 90s, still doing as many as 100 treatments a week, most pro-bono, up to the age of 95. Sadly Jackie fell, and that put a serious crimp in her career as body movement became a bit more limited. I guess one is allowed to slow down a bit once they are into their 90s. I get aggravated with myself that I have slowed down so early… my best role models kept going long after 70! In fact, some of them just got going when they reached their 70s, reaching their peak of productivity while in their 80’s.

I am often asking people to do Gratitude lists, that is Gratitude with a capital G… sometimes I also do a list of people that I feel blessed to have known. Now it is true, everyone is your teacher – even your worst enemy – they are there to teach you something. But not everyone is your mentor. Not everyone is a good role model. And I know it sounds dumb to be past the mid-point of one’s life and still look for and have role models, but we all probably do. Choose wisely. I have had some awesome people in my life. Think of your list, who is in your top 5 or 10? Besides your family members, who has been there for you – I mean really there… not some hero in a movie or jock smashing his brains out on some distant field. Who has taught you to heal, not hurt? Who has taught you about saving lives, giving selflessly rather than trying to get all you can get, have stuff to show off to the world. Who has been your model for compassion, forgiveness, kindness? How many people can you even put on this list? I am so blessed because I have a good list, and Jackie is at the top of it. I do miss her.

Sunday, January 05, 2014


Blog the sound of a thousand wings

Once you’ve made it to 70, one thinks that perhaps they have seen it all, experienced it all, yet I am amazed almost on a daily basis by things I discover in the world around me… amazing things right here in my little corner – I don’t have to travel to Egypt or China or get stranded in Antarctica to be surprised. Nope, all I have to do is step outside at the right moment in time and something is there to make me go, “OOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo.” I did not come inside to grab my camera, I doubt it would have shown much anyway that would have made a good picture, plus, I was sure it would all have been over in a matter of a couple seconds. Wrong on that count! As it was cold outside and I was not wearing a jacket, hat or gloves… I had just stepped out to put down some old left over cat food – someone will eat it and be glad for it…

And I heard a sound like suddenly it was raining, or maybe a sudden cloud of sleet hitting the leaves of the holly trees and magnolias or maybe the roof… but no, I was standing out in the open and there wasn’t even a breeze stirring. I looked around for the source of the noise – wind in the leaves? No, no wind… what? And my peripheral vision told me to look up as a black cloud, a noisy black cloud flew over my land. I won’t say over my head as the birds covered at least 2 acres, maybe more… so many wings beating the cold air… there were hundreds of birds.

No, I was wrong again. As I stood there (getting a bit chilly now as the seconds passed by) the stream of birds did not stop. The number seemed smaller for a few seconds, perhaps only a few hundred passing over about an acre, the sound of their wings grew very faint, then just as suddenly came this great beating of a thousand tiny wings in the air as the cloud of birds grew huge once again. I stood out there for a couple minutes amazed at the seemingly endless stream of birds heading south. It is kind of late in the season for birds to still be migrating, but there they were, thousands, not hundreds, in large groups, then a more narrow band, then spreading out in a dense cloud once again.

I was getting kind of cold standing out there in my jeans and ‘jammie’ tops, which fortunately this time of year includes an over-sized thermal shirt over a long sleeved T shirt. (I have a need to sleep with my arms on top of the blankets – go figure.) So, it was getting a bit nippy. There was a third huge rush of wings then the seemingly never ending flock sort of migrated to the east where they just became a shadow visible thru the tree tops. OK, I was cold. I headed in to the house. I bet from the sky the line of birds had to have covered at least a mile.

There have been times when I have seen huge clouds of birds shape shifting up and down back and forth in the distance… maybe these were organizational flights to teach the youngsters how to stick with the crowd, I dunno… but that cloud of birds has never flown right over my house before – not with me standing out in the yard on a super quiet morning. I know some flocks have been so large they actually showed up on radar! I am used to flocks of geese flying over, but they are noisy. These little fellows were not making a peep. I guess they saw the weather forecast and were getting out of Dodge! I worry about the robins that winter over here. I hope they had enough sense to go a bit further south, too.

i borrowed a shot off the web of a smaller cloud of starlings. starlings

Have you ever heard the sound of thousands of tiny wings beating the air above your head? Isn’t it amazing? How lucky to have chosen that moment to clean up the old cat food.