Monday, October 29, 2012

The new bird feeder

About twenty years ago I happened upon a window bird feeder in a nature store. It was large, had six feeding posts, a mirrored back so the birds couldn't see us but we could see them, and stuck on the window. It was heavy but would only fall off under the assault of strong winds or two squirrels. We loved it.

But after many years of service, it wouldn't stick up any longer and was, quite frankly, a bit of an eyesore. I wasn't able to find a replacement so made do with two smaller stick-on-the-window units which one squirrel could take down with a flip of his tail. Not satisfactory at all.

Then, just a month ago, I found an adequate replacement. Though only four stations, it appeared to be much sturdier, so, longing for the days of active bird watching, I bought it.

It's been up a week and I haven't had any takers. What! It's getting cold outside! Aren't the birds hungry?

I thought back to our original feeder. It took two weeks for the birds to catch on. I was despairing of its placement. The window is about a half story off the ground, near bushes and a fence where birds could land and look over the situation. And that was precisely the problem I realized when driving home and seeing who could also look over the situation: our cat.

There she was, perched on the fence, not two feet away from the feeder, waiting. I gave her a stern talking-to and removed her to the house, showing her she could also keep watch from the inside through the mirrored back. Some time later, our first customer arrived and then it became a bird feeder frenzy. We saw bird species we'd never noted before.

And our long ago cat? She would observe, note in some kitty way which of the birds were susceptible to her abilities and bound out through the cat door to get her lunch or a plaything, whichever.

I haven't noted any cats around our new feeder, but I'll keep an eye out. After all, it's getting cold, and the feeder is loaded with sunflower seeds. Come and get it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Your walls become you

A friend has recently refurbished her study/guest room and I chanced to see it yesterday. The carpet is gone, replaced by wood flooring, the book shelves are being consolidated, the day bed has new quilt and pillows. The walls are painted a fresh green. So, I asked her, what are you going to put on the walls?

She covers her walls just as I do. Family photos, she was thinking, since this was the room the grandkids slept in. She'd run across some new ideas beyond the straight frame it and nail it up.

So I got to thinking about walls. It really bothers me to enter a house and find nothing on the walls. It's as if the owner's mind is blank also. I need action on walls; I need to walk up and study the contents in the frame or shadow box. I need to see YOU reflected in what you present to the world on your walls.

(As an aside, I'm not too fond of beige/off-white walls either unless you're trying to sell the place. Color. Please.)

I sometimes think I don't have another square inch to spare for something on the walls. The living room is pretty well spoken for; the den has room above the piano if I tried hard to balance. The kitchen? Oh, please, although I did manage to put one more above the doorway which I'd moved from the den and the piano when I finally gave into temptation and treated myself to a new painting by a favorite local artist. (That's another thing. I'm collecting local artists. Have a few to go.)

Currently, we're marching up the stairs with vacation mementos and photos. The Mediterranean starts it off and now Canada is beside it. I found old Canadian postcards of the places we'd been and put them in an arrangement. Really looks good. Our Aussie boxes are in the den.

So, fill your walls. Invite me over. Tell me the story. Let me learn about you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


In the wake of a death, it is expected the family will receive cards of condolence and notice of memorials. We are no different. Last week I received many cards, some with lovely handwritten notes, some just signed, all welcomed and treasured. This morning I received more than a handful of memorial acknowledgements for which I will gratefully write thank you notes.

I am amazed and softly surprised by some of the people who've sent cards. Friends that I know are having health or family issues have taken the time to remember a man they never met just because he was important to me.

I am humbled by their thoughtfulness.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Writing the obituary

Last week, when I felt Daddy wasn't going to live much longer, I started composing his obituary. Just the basics, born, X's for date of death, wives, children and grandchildren, a brief mention of how he spent his life.

Then he died and the time for serious composing was here. I thought I had a good one until I talked with one of the nurses who had taken care of him the last days.

She said, and especially for the Alzheimer's unit, how she wished that when the patients admitted, they came with pre-written obits. Perhaps, bio might be a better word, families shrinking from the idea of writing obituaries perhaps years in advance. But, she told me, so often she didn't find out the interesting things their patients had done until they died. How wonderful it would have been to know these things earlier, so they could be discussed and enjoyed.

Of a sudden, my obituary for Daddy was plain and uninteresting, unfocussed. I tweaked and tweaked and I think I made it far better.

Here's the link to the e-news article.

Today we said good-bye with remembrances and stories. Good-bye to a good man and a life that might not have always been easy, but it was memorable.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The missing smile

My father died over the weekend. He had made it to 90 and had suffered from Alzheimer's. This past little while he hasn't recognized me as anyone other than someone who wandered into his field of vision. He was strong as a bull and had a great constitution, the reasons no doubt he lived as long as he did.

And he had a great smile.

While I didn't need anyone to tell me that, it was the one thing that struck the nursing staff. When he stopped smiling at them, they went on alert.

"I miss his smile."

"There wasn't a smile for me."

"No smile. He doesn't feel good."

I'll miss his smile, too. The way his eyes crinkled when he did it. The laugh that often followed.

But I have an advantage over the nursing staff. Through the ingenuity of genetics, that smile slid through me to a son. Then it hid in my other son and popped out in his son.

I still have that smile and I know someone who, while no longer with us, would be very happy about it.