Friday, April 25, 2014

She Flies Alone

I'd previously discovered it, tucked away off the hidden hill. 
I walked to the cemetery to cry, to cry until my eyes were dry.  Sitting alone on the bowed bench I read the names and dates of lives long ago spent, but no tears fell.  I wanted to cry, so I waited.  Sitting alone in the shade waiting allowed my eyes to wonder and my babbling brain to relax.  

There out of the corner of my eye I noticed large flapping wings swish down from a tree behind me, then land on top of a nearby fence facing away from me.  I couldn't help but follow it's path and gaze with my eyes.  Neither of us moved at that point.

I could tell from its head and sharp beak that it must have been some type of hawk.  Not a Red Tail Hawk from my prairie lands of Kansas, not a Swainson's Hawk that I'd identified at Prairie Dunes; to thin for a Barred Owl; but no name for that silent bird that perched so close.  I could see it's black or brown bands across the tail and hoped that with that much information I could later put a name to the bird.

Then a stark cry came from a limb overhead, over and over the bird above screamed, and I thought that there must be babies nearby or dinner for the hawk.  Still neither of us moved.  Suddenly, the crow above shot down over the trees in a right flank attack and dared the hawkish bird to fly.  At the same instance it seemed, another crow launched a frontal attacked, while I remained glued to the scene.  The hawk ruffled its feathers, as if annoyed.  

One more attack launched and still no movement from the perched bird except to turn it's head in an almost owl-like movement. More curious than ever I silently stood up to walk closer to this creature.  No more than two steps had I taken when the bird flapped its wings and leaped to a nearby tree. Backtracking to the bench I remembered I wanted to cry, but curiosity about the bird kept me occupied.  It must have known I needed a distraction today because it flew from the far tree on my right to a empty space only two rows from me in the cemetery.  I froze.  Right there in front of me and on no ones grave this bird looked me square in the face, ignored me, and began to preen itself while dancing a little two step to the right and then to the left. Laughter blurted from my chest causing the bird to stop its dance and honestly look at me with a scowling glare. The giggles continued quietly.  At last the bird flew away, circled once like a vulture and disappeared.

Delphiniums nibbled by bunnies. 
On the way home my eyes began to fill with tears, tears of frustrations. Turning the corner to home I noticed that Jack's pickup was gone. In a panic, the number to open the garage door left my worried mine (I carried no keys nor cell phone on the walk.).  Before the tears could really flow I noticed my newest plants, Delphiniums, (planted just last night!) were being eaten by a creature.  I sat down on the garden wall with a  sigh.  This time out of the corner of my left eye I saw ground movement--two tiny bunnies were living in our small raised garden in the front yard.  Oh, dear. Quietly, I walked around the raised brick wall to where the bunnies sat frozen in space, camouflaged beautifully.  Then I remembered the bunny hair and entrails I saw on my walk the other morning.   "I'm sorry," I whispered.

Nature lives its cycles, even in the confines of suburbia.  I walked away and clicked the front door.  Jack hadn't locked it.  I was home, then I remembered my bird and found it's description in Birds of Kansas Field Guide by Stan Tekiela.  The female Northern Harrier flew alone that day, and she gave me solace and the distraction that I needed.

PS.  A friend suggested I look up Cooper's Hawk.  That may be correct, but no matter which bird it was it made me smile and forget the day.  Just now noticed a male Goldfinch at the feeder, and I smiled again.  I think the creek or green belt near our house is allowing us to have such colorful and plentiful birds in our backyard, and that's a very good thing.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Caught in the ...

Blogger room closet.  Lucy is lurking.
Our new home in Norman presents quite a challenge for me.  Standing at 5'5" with a short arm reach means I need Jack around at all times to put things up high for storage, our bedroom closets and hallway cabinets have the same 9' ceiling as the rest of the house.  Since having Jack around isn't really a logical answer, we bought a two-step ladder which works very well in the kitchen, but for the closets I needed the paint ladder that has three steps, and is a little more wobbly than the two-stepper.  

This story really starts about fifteen years ago on a sunny day when Jack had parked the car near Main st and the railroad tracks with the plan to walk or jog really fast to be at the OU football game for kickoff.  The drive from Hutchinson had been longer and slower than we had anticipated.  Jack jumped out of the car, locked the doors and began walking toward the stadium.  I, at least, had the door open to the low sitting Thunderbird.  With both legs on the ground I proceeded to lift my numb butt up.  Then I took a step and suddenly, to quote my father, "I got a hitch in my get-a-long" and I couldn't move.  I stood there behind the car door watching my husband trek toward the stadium without me.  Laughing and crying at the same time I tried yelling, "Jack!"  He turned and waved, "Hurry."  "Hurry, my ass," I replied, "I can't move, yet."  Now I wasn't as mad as I was embarrassed and in pain.  At last I relaxed, and rubbed my left leg and butt muscles until they released the tension.  Then with the dignity of an aging athlete I walked slowly with a "Chester" limp toward Jack and the stadium.  The game began that day without us.

These many years later I found myself on the third rung of a ladder and head high up in the closet.  My system was to move stacks of books up a shelf at a time bending too the right and lifting, over and over, and up and up. At last I was ready to fill the very top shelves with books and items I wouldn't need much (so why did I even keep them?).  As I strained to lift a small pile of books I felt a pinch and a tug in my right butt cheek.  "Please let that be Jack pinching me, " I pleaded with my body.  The pain continued and spread upwards and downwards causing me to release the books in hand.  "!!!! & !!!!!" rushed from my mouth.  Hollering for help 9' up in a back room closet is not effective, but Lucy did try to jump or climb the ladder to help me, causing the wobbly ladder to wobble even more.

Now breathless with fear of falling, I grabbed the ladder with one hand and my right butt cheek with the other.  Then I rubbed and dug frantically only to bang my head on the book shelf.  Not only was I ready to cry at that moment, but a new problem developed:  I had to tinkle. There is no way to do the tinkle dance when the body is caught in a muscle cramp.  Slowly, the pain began to subside just as a warm trickle ran down my legs.  Laughter in a small closet echoes, followed by the desperate sounds of snorting.

With knees quaking but bent I held on tight to the ladder and crawled down to the floor, then promptly laid down.  Lucy's love licks only added to the hysterics of the moment. When she brought me her tennis ball to throw, I took it from her mouth and immediately rolled over and placed the tennis ball under my right butt cheek. After twenty minutes of tennis ball therapy, the knots were nearly gone.  I slowly walked down the hallway that day, took a hot shower, a nap, and then went out for dinner. Now I'm wondering, if this is the pain associated with the 60's then what will the 70's, 80's, and 90's bring? More stories, I hope.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Discovering Surprises

A little over a week ago I sat down in our new home, starred at the piles of
My Blue Blogger room
boxes and cried. The tears were a blessing as they washed away my sadness from moving away from my close friends, but somehow the cleansing opened my heart and my eyes to a new stage in our lives and in our marriage.  Jack and I found adventure in every turn on the busy streets of Norman.  Since the kitchen was boxed and hidden from me for a few days we found a variety of restaurants and grocery stores.  We've made daily trips to Lowe's and Home Depot for something simple.  We are slowly learning our way around a town where Jack grew up, and where I spent 17 years of teaching.  The times and the town of Norman, Ok have changed dramatically since we left in 1996, but all for the better.

Della's tiny books
It took me a couple of days of unpacking before I began to look forward to the tasks at hand. Very quickly I discovered that every box was full of surprises: I found a tiny leather bound hand sized book with only a passage from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.  How appropriate the first lines were, considering I'd been awake that day since 4am:

       "Wake, for the Sun, who scattered into flight 
         The Stars before him from the Field of Night..."

What a delight to sit on the floor and read through a pile of tiny leather bound books that my Aunt Della had owned.  She, too, found these words precious to her long before I came into this world.  Then I read from my favorite book The Prophet by Gibran.  The inscription read: Merry Xmas, from Lillian and Bill, Dec. 25, 1960.  Randomly picking pages to read in books like the Prophet bring their own surprises:  Speak to us of Prayer...When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet.

The Pro, Johnie F. Stapp
Unpacking dad was even funnier because the silly doll truly is a replica of my father, The Pro.  My father died in 1989 six weeks after my mother.  I have carried them with me not just in my heart, but in my moves and in my boxes even now.  When I uncovered Dad yesterday I pulled up a pile of newspaper and there he was sitting comfortably in a box with pillows, glassware, and golf books (it was a random moment of packing).  I laughed, then pulled him out and found an empty corner in the living room for him to sit and watch the chaos around him grow. 

This morning I found my squeaky mouse mixed in with a scattering of glassware, puppets, and teacher collectibles. Naturally, I picked up the little mouse and squeaked it, only to have Lucy dash into the blue blogger room, and attempt to rescue me from the beastly mouse.  I laughed.  

I'm down to a few manageable boxes, then we will ponder our collections of artwork, golf books and trophies, glassware, and what nots.  In time each piece will find a new home, either under our roof or someone else's.  My mantra for this move remains:  In life and in words...Less is More...Usually the most concise way is the most elegant.