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Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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To the town of Moore, OK – Please accept my sincerest apologies for Wolf Blitzer. Did you see the part where he asked a young woman with her 18 month old if she thought God was with her on Monday because she had the guts to get out of her bathtub and get into her car and drive south, away from that tornado. And when she didn’t answer fast enough he kept pummeling her with this most important question, “Was God with you?” Finally, she smiled and said, “Well actually I’m an atheist.” Sorry Wolf, guess God didn’t run that twister into 2 elementary schools for kicks and giggles either.

This is what I was starting to write about on Monday night; not the sounds of a tornado and the bloviating sounds of carnivorous reporters. I was going to tell you about the sweet country sounds of Spring.

I have a beautiful sister, Kay, who has lived alone in NYC for far too long IMHO. When she visits me, the silence of the country is deafening. No taxis, no jackhammers (well there are the woodpeckers), no gun shots or calls for help. I take that back, we do have hunters shooting in the woods on occasion. No, really, she finds our little mountainous region a bit too serene for her taste. Not much to do, except maybe go to the Earlysville firemen’s spaghetti dinner, or the farmer’s “City” market in Cville. Well not anymore.

This morning I was helping Bob plant a few fig trees in the lower forty. By “helping” I mean I was directing and supervising and cleaning up. Our soil is Albemarle red clay, as hard as bricks and mixed in with flint rocks as big as baseballs. Added to that, I have a bum right shoulder. Lifting and hauling my beautiful little 20+ pounder Love Bug around the last couple of visits has taken its toll. Some physical therapist should invent the grandmother workout – prepare your body for the most lovely, intense physical labor ever! And Jane Fonda should NOT do the video. Here she is very proud of herself for pulling herself up in her crib after a nap! 264582_10200580364125708_198299485_n

Anyway, I was in the woods with Bob when I turned and saw these big, ugly, larvae-looking brown bugs clinging to a small evergreen. I dropped everything and insisted that Bob get his glasses and get a look at them. It’s happened. The cicadas are here!

I’ve been hearing about it on the news, every 17 years la de da. I really didn’t pay much attention, but sure enough, here it is in black and white: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/05/13/theyre-here-cicadas-are-emerging/

It’s been raining for days and the ground temperature must have just hit 65 degrees. Bob said, “Listen.” So I listened and screened out the  usual noises of tree frogs and crickets and those pesky woodpeckers and various birdsongs, and underneath it all was this whoosh. Whoose Whoose Whoose. It’s like I wanted the Rocker to come and record it, it was that good. It was like a helicopter getting ready to take off in the distance…it’s the cicadas…

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And that, coupled with the magnificent red cardinal who’s been banging his head against my guest bedroom windows for almost a week now, should put my sister at ease. His mate must be nesting nearby, and he’s telling that mirror reflection of himself to go take a hike. He sits on the sill, then will fly up, wings extended in glorious crimson and attack the window! It’s the territorial imperative at its finest. I thought about that for a second. We could really end all war if we could just get over this territorial thing.photo copy

So please Kay, come back to Virginia. We love you and want to see you.

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