Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

It’s been a busy weekend.

Looking at houses we know we’ll never get, unless we promise our first-born child, and having the Grands sleepover! Bob measured the Love Bug on our wall and guess what? She’s tall enough to sit in a car without a child seat, but not quite old enough. It’s the age old story of being a pre-teen – wanting braces even though your teeth are straight. And the L’il Pumpkin told me he’ll be glad to be back in school so he can do harder math problems?!?!

Obviously, the red hair is the only thing he got from me.

But we’ve had a grand time grandparenting. The Bug helped me feed our ravenous birds and she also helped PopBob make ravioli! Her brother gave me a hand with the pesto, wanting to know exactly how a Cuisinart works. I mean I can barely work my vintage machine! Will he be an engineer or a chef? Only time will tell.

I’ve realized lately that my obsession with our sideyard birds is nothing new. We started our little family in the Berkshires on the edge of a wildlife sanctuary for birds called Canoe Meadows. We had Guinea Hens and Cardinals galore in our backyard. When we moved back to NJ, we had migrating waterfowl like Herons, Osprey and Egrets flying over our house on the Shrewsbury River. And of course when we built our small house in the Blue Ridge, it was alive with Woodpeckers!

Here in Nashville, in our city farmhouse, we have Mockingbirds, Cardinals, Wrens, lots of Mourning Doves, Finches, Bob Whites, and even a red-winged Blackbird. I’ve managed to also feed a few squirrels! In fact when we went glamping a few weeks ago, bird song was almost non-existent in the forest – it was too quiet. Here in the city, the symphony begins at 4 am, and never stops! It blends with construction noise and leaf blowers, it wiggles the leaves of our holly bushes.

Here we are already, mid-summer and six months into the Joe Biden Presidency. I’ve tried to extricate myself from the news cycle and read up on “what to do with a hundred zucchinis.” The Olympics have started, and we love to watch, but I’d rather just see the personal stories of the athletes. This one was homeless for two months, that one overcame depression. Today I watched the US women’s rowing crew team beat the Romanians. And I saw the small crowd at swimming cheer for “DR JILL BIDEN!”

I’m glad she is there in Tokyo, but maybe she could Zoom with Joe. She should tell him if we don’t pass the “For the People Act,” making it easier to register to vote, expanding mail-in voting, and making early voting the law of the land, we can say goodbye to our democracy. Should I repeat that, because it’s true.

“Should it become law, the legislation would effectively set a national floor on ballot access, requiring all federal elections to start with an identical set of rules. States and other federal jurisdictions could tweak them to provide more access, but not less. Some states like Colorado and Minnesota have rules that are more generous that the bill mandates; others, like Texas and Tennessee, make it much harder to register and vote than the bill envisions.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/us/politics/voting-rights-law.html

Since many Republicans are still addicted to Mr T, and they are enjoying restricting voting rights in many southern state legislators, the time to act is NOW.

Because if we can’t make voting our constitutional right and duty, if we can’t assure voters that their vote was counted, nothing else matters. Nothing. The GOP will keep a stranglehold on any progressive agenda, like gun violence. Even LGBTQ rights and Women’s rights, HUMAN Rights will suffer. Our planet will suffer! Do you want to go back to the good old bigoted days?

Tonight I made the famous mid-summer Triple P – Pesto Pasta Primavera, with my basil and Bob’s bounty. Zucchini, peppers, onions and peas, plus some asparagus from the store. We’re heading over to a friend’s house because life is starting to feel normal again. If only this crazy housing market could slow down!

Building Boba Fett!

Read Full Post »

When Bob and I first contemplated building our ‘not so big’ house in Virginia, I remember our builder telling us we could build with reinforced concrete instead of the usual stick construction. After all, with our view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, we could expect lots of wind and weather. Then he mentioned that it would be so air tight, you wouldn’t hear the birds.

Well, that would never do!

I called my upstairs office my aviary. I loved listening to the racket made by woodpeckers, and two owls calling to each other at sunset. “Whoo.” But I would never feed the birds because I didn’t want to attract bears. I enjoyed Mother Nature in real time: watching fox kits rolling along the grass; families of deer daintily strolling through trees, and two huge Pileated woodpeckers jack hammering a branch that had fallen in the driveway. My favorite sighting was a hummingbird who returned to the same flower every year, at about the same time.

There was plenty of forest for everyone to feast. It was like living inside a Disney movie, with bluebirds everywhere.

But 2020 being what it was, with the addition of a long number of days, below freezing and snow covered, I started throwing out nuts and bread for our poor city slicker birds. Soon enough, I was bringing home big bags of the most delectable bird seed and ordering a fancy, new feeder online. No bears to fear here. Now granted, our small side yard garden cannot compare with 14 acres of woods, but I’ve still managed to attract a diverse group of feathered friends.

Small wrens and finches cling easily to the bird feeder, but the bigger birds, like doves and robins, blue jays and cardinals prefer grazing. So every day I fill a bowl with seed and put out fresh water on a tree stump – the one that held the fairy house. A mockingbird can flit between the stump and the feeder, depending on traffic. And that is the view through my office window today; mourning doves displaying dominance along with an ingenious squirrel. The squirrel trumps everyone on the stump.

Am I becoming that old lady? The one who sits and stares out her window, if she’s not feeding a dozen cats; the one who runs out screaming in her nightgown at the squirrel gobbling all the goodies?

This morning I feel better about my latest obsession. The National Geographic published an article about why backyard birding is great for kids and adults. I was not surprised to read that having a bird feeder can actually contribute to our feeling of happiness.

But why are birds so important to nature’s biodiversity—and therefore your family’s potential happiness? For one thing, birds are an indicator species, meaning they basically function as a “check engine light” for biodiversity. When something is out of whack in nature, birds let us know—often by disappearing—because they need a healthy environment to survive. Of course, birds aren’t the only indicator, but since they’re found almost everywhere in the world and are easy to study, their presence—or absence—is a good way to measure the variety of life that research shows can boost mood.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/family/article/why-a-backyard-thats-for-the-birds-is-great-for-kids-too?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=social::src=twitter::cmp=editorial::add=tw20210430family-livingnearbirdsplanetpossible&sf245481661=1

You’ve heard about the canary in the coal mine. What sparked my empathy for our city birds was coming home one of those frosty winter days to see about ten doves lined up like good little grey soldiers on our porch. They spanned the length of our kitchen wall to capture some house heat and stay out of the wind. Of course they deserved a mourning dove diner on a tree stump!

It’s a diner and fly-in reality show every day.

We’ve created a city bird sanctuary in our sideyard, where birdsong competes with construction noise. And when it all goes quiet, I know danger is near… sure enough, our squirrel is sitting there on his hind legs stuffing his cheeks. Squirrels have to eat too.

Maybe I’m replacing the background sounds of a family. The Flapper used to tell me that some day I would miss those little feet running across a floor and the constant hum of children. She was right. Or maybe it just makes me smile whenever I see our bright red cardinal!

Read Full Post »

It’s that time of year again – a time to drag in the basil pots because an overnight frost could kill them. Bob covered the fledgling tomato plants with a sheet. Luckily, they all survived, so my famous tomato, basil and mozzarella summer salad is sure to be on our future menu!

Unlike gardening, Spring cleaning has never really been my thing. I remember my foster mom, Nell, taking down the ‘Venetian’ blinds and scrubbing them, one by one, in the bathtub.

Side Note: Did you know that window blinds were called ‘Venetian’ because they originated in Venice in 1794? I just had to Goggle because that’s an adjective that will date you!

Anyway, Daddy Jim would drag out the ladder to wash windows and clean the gutters. The Flapper actually changed drapes and slipcovers. I don’t recall any beating of rugs, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. When Bob and I were first married, I have a vague memory of changing my duvet cover with the seasons; but that fell by the wayside soon enough. In my mind, these pictures seem like an old black and white movie, the kind where the guy is always lighting two cigarettes.

Instead of cleaning, I held my breath and the ladder yesterday while Bob climbed up between two trees to hang a new bird feeder. This required a power drill and determination people. Later, it was fun watching the squirrel’s reconnaissance mission. We hung it far enough from the tree, plus it has a mechanism that shuts the whole tube down if a certain amount of weight lands on it, and it’s made out metal. No amount of chewing will release its seeds.

Of course I still feel obliged to feed the grazing birds like doves and cardinals, so not to worry, my kamikaze squirrel is never hungry. This morning I looked out my window to see his grey tail in my Portmeirion bowl of feed! Feeling lazy, or was it merely languishing… https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

I dragged myself over to Twitter to see what was trending and BAM! Mr T again???

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”

That face, that mouth, that repels me. Of course! It’s the one year anniversary of the previously twice impeached former president’s ridiculous news conference about how to get rid of Covid. I could almost smell the despair of his medical professionals. I think Dr Birx hit the road after that. But isn’t it too soon to laugh about the Clorox incident? I mean the Bride tells me that Covid is alive and thriving in Nashville, and The NYTimes says we are still at a “…very high risk” in Davidson County. People continue to die around the world due to this highly contagious virus, and we need to develop a vaccine for young children. So don’t let down your guard, continue to mask-up.

Remember when we used to wipe down and disinfect the mail? Now I need to find out if I should use bleach or vinegar to clean our brand/new/squirrel/proof bird feeder. Or maybe just dish soap?

My first loves:
Daddy Jim and my first dog

Read Full Post »

The birds are disappearing!

North America has lost a quarter of its bird population in the last 50 years! That’s a loss of nearly 3 Billion birds in just half a century, and according to the National Audubon study, it’s not the exotic types that are vanishing:

“…the most ubiquitous birds have been the hardest hit. “The common wisdom was that we’d see the rare and threatened species disappearing and the common, human-adapted ones taking over,” Rosenberg says. Instead, his team found that 90 percent of the missing birds came from just 12 families, and that they were all familiar, perchy, cheepy things such as sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, finches, larks, starlings, and swallows… It’s as if all birds are canaries, and the entire world their coal mine.”  https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/09/america-has-lost-quarter-its-birds-fifty-years/598318/

Now most of you know that I love birds. I used to feed them all the time until we moved to the mountains of Virginia and decided they had enough food in the wild and I didn’t need to attract bears to my backyard.

I’ve recently hung a hummingbird feeder on the urban farmhouse porch without much success, but I’ve been told by a friend they are currently migrating and I might have better luck luring those tiny, iridescent, super fast babies in the Spring. For now, we listen to mourning doves coo to each other in our garden.

When we lived in the Berkshire Mountains, and the kids were little, I’d have wild guinea hens under my feeder, and whole families of cardinals would romp around our home on the edge of an actual bird sanctuary. While Grandma Ada was collecting blue birds in all shapes and sizes, I started collecting glass cardinals as my lucky, totem bird.

Grandpa Hudson carved a cardinal into the top of our family totem pole when we moved back to New Jersey. And though I could hear them foraging in the early morning hours, I became a fan of the abundant shore birds I saw migrating over our swamp wetlands. Herons and egrets sailed like ships across our low-slung Rumson ranch house out to the river at daybreak and dusk.

Woodpeckers performed like precision drillers across our Virginia valley when we built a small house with a view of the Blue Ridge. Their rat-a-tat noise would ricochet between the ridges as they searched for food. One day I sat in my car for an hour watching two pileated woodpeckers attack a log in the driveway. We knew them by the singular way they would fly, as if their substantial heft made them descend a little bit with every wing stroke. They skipped across the sky.

I would never keep a bird in the house, in a cage. Don’t judge me, I just couldn’t.

Today, if you are walking out of school or work to protest our climate crisis I salute you! Because it’s a world-wide problem that is calling for some extraordinary solutions.

It’s not just about carbon – though we must address that. We are living comfortably with just one car, walking more isn’t just healthy for us, it’s helping the environment. But deforestation causes 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, equal to vehicular emissions. https://www.conservation.org/stories/11-climate-change-facts-you-need-to-know

It’s not just about the sea rising and glaciers melting – a significant reason for human migration. Where will Miami be in 10 years, or Sea Bright, NJ for that matter? In our Southern city, government has decided to pay property owners to move out of flood zones! Which is good, cause my grand dogs were swimming in their flooded basement when the Bride and Groom first moved here in 2010. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/06/climate/nashville-floods-buybacks.html

And it’s not just about the birds and the bees!

Thank you to Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old Swedish climate activist who saw what Parkland students did to mobilize gun reform after a massacre at their school. They started a revolution because gun violence in our country is an URGENT problem. And just look what they have started with AR-15 manufacturers, Colt suspended rifle production for civilians! : https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49766257

We also need to sign the Paris Agreement now. Greta asks us to listen to the scientists, because Climate Change should be a global, URGENT priority!

Republican tactics of denial, delay, and disinformation will no longer be tolerated. But don’t just walk out of school this morning – after your #ClimateStrike today students, register to vote if you will turn 18 by next November. Our birds and our fish and our future are depending on you.

IMG_1444

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Slapping a 25% tariff on American made motorcycles and pigs is just one repercussion of China’s knee-jerk reaction to the Clown Rodeo we call Mr T’s government. When are all his lawyers going to jump out of a tiny Smart Car and yell, “We’re fired!” at the top of their lungs?

Iowa, Michigan and Florida have some heavy thinking to do after POTUS’s latest missteps. Because it’s not just Harleys, but our auto industry and our delectable orange crop that may be impacted! But hey, the Market was sinking today, so maybe somebody is paying attention? Which is why I’d rather talk about The Year of the Bird! And in particular, one of my favorites, the Owl!

Some nights in VA, Bob and I would wake up to the sound of two owls hooting at each other from opposite ends of our property. The sound is like nothing you’ve ever heard, it’s not really a “hoot,” it’s more like a shrill announcement, “Look at me! I have the best tree available in the forest!” And it sounds more like “Who cooks for you?” I guess the way to a man’s heart is really through his…. http://www.audubon.org/news/learn-identify-five-owls-their-calls

If you’ve noticed these sounds at night this month, it’s because raptors (of which owls are a part) have been nesting early due to Climate Change. It’s so incredible to think of all the slight, small changes we have come to believe are the “New Normal.” Our semantics helps us devalue the incredible changes we’ve been experiencing…there are climate “deniers,” not delusional Republicans who value their shareholders more than they value their future progeny.

It takes a long time to raise a baby hawk or owl to the size at which it can fend for itself. Even though both parents are hunting for and feeding them, such large birds grow slowly. So by beginning to nest early, the hawks and owls fledge their young by the time spring arrives. This is just about the time young rodents and rabbits are leaving their nests in great numbers. The young birds, ‘though inexperienced in catching their own meals, have a lot of potential prey to make their hunting a bit easier and their survival more likely. 

But what about our young? Will our Great Grands have to learn to live in an entirely different climate? Or maybe a different planet? Will seasons disappear from certain continents? Will redheads become extinct because of the inevitable heat? My only hope is that the Blue Wave will actually wash ashore this November. I’ve done my best to register voters in TN, and I think the younger generation has figured out the shell game commonly known as politics.

While the Northeast braces for more snow, we here in Nashville are experimenting with a rather “normal” Spring. It’s been cold and rainy for days, which is wonderful when we think about those many days of 90+ degrees to come. We may need a Super Hero to save the day! As my L’il Pumpkin says, “I like it cold!” So do I baby, so do I.

IMG_2533

 

 

Read Full Post »

Is this the Year of the Dog, or the Year of the Bird? Last night, a gorgeous picture of a Boykin Spaniel popped up on my Instagram. Liver colored, with soulful eyes, droopy ears and curly fur, it looked just like my very first dog. She was the sweetest, most lovable creature ever, although maybe everyone’s first love takes on a special significance over time.

The Boykin’s photo was courtesy of a National Geographic photographer I’m following who is shooting a series called the #yearofthedogs. His name is Vincent J Musi, “…a trusted friend to animals everywhere.” He doesn’t just capture their distinct personalities, he tells you a little bit about his encounter – like how much the dog may have drooled, while noting that he’s also drooled back in the day. It’s a witty and wonderful start (or end) to any day!

Meanwhile, in the middle of my Monday, I found myself at the Animal Hospital with the Bride and Groom’s older dog, the much loved G-man. I just happened to be playing super heroes with our L’il Pumpkin when I noticed Mr G really digging into one of his paws. Upon closer inspection there was blood on his dew claw; so without further adieu, we headed to the Vet. At that point the Love Bug came home from school and wanted to keep us company.

Her level of empathy is amazing for a 5 year old.

I’ll dispense with the gory details, Mr G is now wearing the cone of shame to keep him from tearing off his bandaged leg. The hardest part will be keeping the new puppy from trying to attack him, um play with him. Maybe I should visit our friend Robin’s pet store, “Come, Sit, Stay” to find Mr G a special treat?

What is it about dogs? Almost every picture I have of me as a child has me standing next to, or holding a dog. The Flapper’s first child, my half-sister Shirley, the one I never knew, used to raise Welsh Corgis. Of all the dogs in the AKC, I too chose Corgis to adore when my children were little, never knowing that Shirley felt the same way. German Shepherd dogs hold a special place in my heart, and let’s face it, ANY and ALL rescues, like Ms Bean and G-Man.

My niece Lynn breeds the regal Scottish Deerhound, a breed known for their sweet temperament. She’s in that category of Best in Show dogs, traveling the country with a plethora of hounds in the back seats. Come to think of it, Shirley’s daughter Karen loves to travel with her canine companions too! Hmm, now that’s a children’s book!

Every other dog you meet in Nashville is a Frenchie! I loved Musi’s photo of a French Bulldog named Larry, who is friendly in a “take over the world” kind of way. Y’all know my Francophile ways, so a Frenchie might just fit with us whenever and where ever the wind blows. Having one pup in a city townhouse is enough for now.

But I digress, because I was wondering about 2018 now that we are 3 months in, and it seems that this isn’t the Year of the Dog, even though I’m a dog addict. It’s the “Year of the Bird!”

“National Geographic, National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International, and more than 100 organizations join forces for 12 months of storytelling and science to examine how our changing environment is impacting birds around the globe.”

However, I wasn’t entirely wrong because according to the Chinese calendar 2018 is the Year of the Dog! Loosely translated we should all have “prosperous wealth.” I’m OK with that, because a house isn’t a home until it’s covered in fur. Maybe my next post will be about birds, and the way Ms Bean just plucked one out of the air!? Happy Birding everyone!

Awwww poor G-Man.

IMG_2497

 

Read Full Post »

April showers are nourishing all the perennials we just planted, but if you are a migratory bird looking to nest in Florida, you’d be plain out of luck. Wading birds like egrets and herons depend on fresh, clean water from rivers meeting the sea in estuaries on our coasts for their food supply, and scientists have been putting on waders to count their nests this time of year. Considering Mr T’s deep cuts to the EPA, this Audubon report is troubling:

The latest South Florida Wading Bird Report, which was published last week, offers signs of trouble for the birds and the places they live. During this nesting season, which ran from December 2015 to July 2016, surveyors were disappointed to find 26,676 nests total. That’s just one-third the number of nests tallied during 2009, one of the best nesting years in decades, and the lowest nest census since the 2007-2008 season. Of the indicator species, only two (Great Egrets and White Ibises) met their nest recovery goals. The only bird to show an above-average nesting season last year was the Roseate Spoonbill. http://www.audubon.org/news/floridas-wading-birds-had-terrible-breeding-season-last-year

We had a Great Blue Heron swoop over our Rumson garage every morning to fish in the Shrewsbury River. When you live so close to the ocean, you begin to notice the rise and fall of tidewater by the line of black silt on your Corgis’ short legs, which would sometimes cover their bellies. “Swamp Dogs” was our affectionate term for Toots and Blaze. My sister Kay was kind enough to immortalize that mother/son duo in a 1993 watercolor.

FullSizeRender
But it’s the long, stilt-like legs of Great Egrets that are helping them navigate the rising seawater levels due to Climate Change.

And now we have a circus/barker/climate/denier as the Leader of the Free World who would like to dismantle and disrupt the federal government, and return power to “the states.” I’ve always wondered why Republicans even pursue public service when they hate it so much! If any of you are still wondering about the loss of Arctic ice or if keeping that house your aunt left you on the Jersey Shore is a good idea, take a look at Leonardo diCaprio’s interactive global temperature map. It looks like there may be a quarter of Rumson left after the flood. Seriously.

“Every fraction of a degree of global warming sets in motion sea level rise that will profoundly threaten coastal cities across the world,” explains Dr. Benjamin Strauss from Climate Central. “[Our map] shows the incredible stakes and urgency of our climate choices.”

https://www.beforetheflood.com/explore/the-crisis/sea-level-rise/

Now that you’ve put in your city, and the visual has sunk in and maybe you’ve “woke up” think about these cuts to the federal budget. Keep calling your legislators people, dig out your Wellies (English for waders or rain boots), and start looking for higher ground while planning your retirement

C8kFU7tXYAAEFwe

Read Full Post »

While eating a burger at Bob’s flying club last week, I happened to meet a young entrepreneur. Eric Walden was all decked out in a uniform, with wings on his shoulder and his cap. Then much to my surprise, I saw him again last night on the late night local news. The anchors’ hook was something like:

“Have you ever wanted to fly like the rich and famous?”

For the vast majority of people, commercial flights are the only option, but Albemarle County pilot Eric Walden is hoping to change that by making private flights an option for people who aren’t among the richest in the world.

“There’s a whole lot of other people that have the need and the desire to travel privately, but a lot of them don’t know that it’s available,” said Walden.       http://www.newsplex.com/content/news/New-Charter-Flight-Company-379228591.html?

With expectations high for more airport delays and missed connections this summer, I’d say he started the right business at the right time. Walden owns a turbo-prop Daher TBM 850 that can carry up to five passengers. He can fly higher and faster than Bob’s Piper Arrow, and if say five people wanted to split a ride to Nantucket, the price compares favorably with commercial tickets – AND there is no time lost waiting in TSA lines!

Walden has been flying for 25 years and comes from a long line of aviators; his great-grandfather first flew a monoplane in 1909. The name of his charter flight company is Little Hawk Logistics.

And speaking of birds, I’ve had a bluebird battering my windows lately. He, or she, is staying at the back of the house for the most part, on the first floor. One day I was using Bob’s computer to do some book editing, and between the bluebird knocking and the generator recycling itself, I could barely think! In researching this problem, it seems it is male birds fighting off their reflective rival, and once a female is attracted and a nest secured the window battering should stop. Unless it’s a cardinal?!

Here are some ways to prevent this behavior:

  • Decals or paper shapes placed inside or outside the window
  • Strips of tape, plastic or paper arranged in an irregular pattern
  • Soaping the outside of the windows either fully or in a pattern
  • Placing non-reflective screen outside the window 2-3 inches from the glass
  • Adding one-way transparent film or opaque plastic to windows
  • Repositioning an outdoor plant or flower basket to block the window view
  • Closing outside shades or blinds if possible

It’s another rainy day on the Blue Ridge. In fact the headline before the story on Little Hawk Logistics was, “Rain Fifteen out of Last Seventeen Days!” I guess I am not alone in feeling like mildew is spreading at my feet and rust is clogging up my joints.

So let’s dream for a moment about the sunny future of aviation this weekend. If you’re anything like my hubby, you will love this story out of Germany. It seems they are developing the Lilium Jet, a small helicopter-like plane for private use – think The Fifth Element! It will be to aviation what the Tesla is to the auto industry.

“The company’s aircraft concept promises flight without the flight infrastructure. It will require an open space of just 225 square metres — about the size of a typical back garden — to take off and land. The Lilium Jet can cruise as far as 500km (310mi) at a very brisk 400kph (248mph), and reach an altitude of 3km (9,900ft). And it recharges overnight from a standard household outlet.” http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20160512-the-flying-machine-in-your-back-garden

Here is the Love Bug preparing to go over her Checklist for departure to CHO!

IMG_1469

 

Read Full Post »

When we first heard about the German jet crashing into the French Alps, we were horrified. I asked Pilot Bob what could have happened? No need listening to all the speculation on cable news, when I have my very own pilot across from me at the dinner table.

He told me it must have been a sudden loss of cabin pressure. And when he talks, I listen. When the Piper Arrow gets above 9,000 ft, Bob whips out the oxygen and everything is fine. So I asked him, how long would you have to be sentient (yes that word just popped into my brain last night over Thai food) at 38,000 ft? How many minutes before one would pass out from lack of oxygen? “Fifteen seconds,” he said. The pilot would have fifteen seconds to grab an emergency back-up oxygen mask right next to his head in the cockpit. He added, “At 60,000 ft your blood would boil.” Thanks.

And then the news this morning. I could barely drink my coffee. Somehow it was better to think that Germanwings Airbus flight 4U 9525 dropped out of the sky, one minute after reaching its cruising altitude, due to some mechanical difficulty. But listening to the French Prosecutor, visibly shaken, putting his head in his hands, tell us that this was a deliberate descent by the co-pilot, left me feeling sick. He locked the cockpit door. He manually took over auto-pilot to begin the descent. He continued breathing and never answered his radio or the ramming on the door by his senior pilot.

So naturally, I called Grandma Ada. http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/mar/26/germanwings-plane-crash-investigation-press-conference-live-updates-4u9525

And Ada told me a story. Yesterday she went to her gym, and she spoke with a Hasidic woman about the fire in Brooklyn that took the lives of seven children in an Orthodox Jewish family. This is an ancient question; why do bad things happen to good people? The woman didn’t really answer, she kindly took Ada’s hand, and told her we need to do more mitzvahs – more good deeds, more acts of loving kindness.

Maybe that helps some, but either this co-pilot was psychotic and suicidal or he was a terrorist; either way this is a mass murder. If it turns out that the ‘interruption’ in the co-pilot’s training was due to a trip to Yemen, or some other terrorist training camp, I feel myself turning into a hawk. Forgiveness is not a word in my vocabulary at the moment.

Still, despite the headline-grabbing nature of airline crashes – especially mysterious cases like Flight 4U 9525 that were cruising along at high altitude – flying remains easily the safest form of travel ever created. A professor at MIT last year calculated the risk of a passenger dying in an airliner crash as 1 in 45 million. By way of comparison, the National Safety Council puts your lifetime odds of dying as a pedal cyclist at “merely” 1 in 4,982.   http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielreed/2015/03/24/germanwings-airplanes-flying-at-high-cruising-altitudes-rarely-crash/

If you need to chill out after a morning of bad news, may I suggest you click on to the nest of a bald eagle in PA. Two eggs were  spotted this Valentine’s Day and you can see her feeding her baby hatchlings in live stream!! http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1592549&mode=2

Hanover PA nest

Hanover PA nest

Read Full Post »

It’s not everyday that my whole family gets to walk around NYC, on a holiday weekend, when anyone with a car has long since left this piece of the Apple. The Bride thought the city looked beautiful in its abandoned state: an older woman was slowly pushing her small dog in a fancy pram; decorated, horse-drawn carriages were lined up in front of the Plaza waiting for tourists who never came; and out on Sue’s upper-East side terrace, where she had planted 35 tomatoes in painters’ tubs, a nest of baby birds was singing to us. It’s one of those strange, paradoxical moments in time. In the midst of grief, sitting shiva in the middle of this concrete canyon, we realize there is still beauty.

And that’s probably what we are meant to do, reflect on my cousin’s life through our own lens. Someone said she wasn’t a political person, but I knew better. Because around Ada’s kitchen table we let our political hair down, and Sue was always in the middle of the fray, leading the conversation. Maybe with her NYC realtor/colleagues she didn’t voice her opinions, but her family and close friends knew she had the heart of a liberal. Which is why my conversation with the cabby of my taxi on the way to Penn Station was apropos.

He was from Africa. He spoke French “officially.” He got his BA from Baruch College in the Flatiron District and was going to get his masters soon. Just as soon as he gets his green card…

And to wake up at home this morning and hear all about President Obama’s meeting with Gov Perry in TX and speculation about Obama’s decision not to have a “photo-op” holding refugee children at the border yesterday made me feel sick. Particularly when I saw Perry quickly swivel his chair out of sight as the CNN camera started rolling at that meeting with the POTUS. God forbid he should be seen like Gov Chris Christie – embracing our President. Of course Perry would like a picture of Obama holding children he is “…about to deport” as one commentator said.

Because to a politician, it’s appearances that count. And the optics of immigration isn’t very pretty.

My cabby told me there is a French saying about things you may want in life. Bit by bit, the bird builds her nest.

Father and Daughter in NYC

Father and Daughter in NYC

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: