Monday, June 27, 2016

Bird Watchers

Ray says I have made him soft.

This after he took a break from grilling on Saturday to give a baby bird a strawful of water.

The storm that blew in Thursday night took out a limb on our Bradford Pear tree. (I know, they are the devil for countless reasons.) When Ray woke me up Friday morning to say he was going to borrow a chainsaw that night to cut it up (a little too excitedly, by the way), I didn’t think much of it.

Until I saw this. Not quite the 'limb' I was expecting. 

Thankfully, it missed our tomato plants on its way down. (I don't think we can handle another year without tomatoes.)

Driveway tomatoes this year. Safe and sound. Whew.

Friday afternoon after we had some tree guys come out, we noticed two little baby birds had been un-nested and landed in the middle of our concrete driveway. They barely had feathers and didn’t look so great.

I told Ray not to touch them or get too close or the mom will abandon them. This is an old wives tale, it turns out. We now know this from Google as well as experience — while waiting to see what was going to happen, something happened. One of them died.

RIP baby bird. Sorry we didn’t do more for you sooner.

But after the first death, Ray declared the backyard a state of emergency in an effort to save the sole survivor. He was Googling, peeking around the back deck to check on it, and occasionally running the gauntlet of adult robins squawking at him whenever he’d get near the baby bird.

Momma bird was also frantically flying around with a worm in her mouth to feed him, so that was good. But even if he got fed, the poor guy was still lunch on a concrete platter for the wandering cats, raccoons and other predators that go through our backyard.

I asked Ray if maybe the mom couldn’t somehow lift him into the tree.

No, he said.

What about if she had a robin friend, and they each grabbed a leg and carried him?


Maybe she was devising some kind of pulley system to get him back up into the nest?

No? Okay fine.

Then how about we make him a ‘nest’ from a Gladware container and nail it to the tree? (And by ‘we,’ I meant Ray.)

So Ray donned some latex gloves, braved the angry robin-mom gauntlet that was now the baby bird state of emergency on Erie Avenue, and moved the little guy to the Gladware, adding some some torn-up pieces of paper towel for his ‘nest.’

You just can’t shut-off the genius switch at our household.

That is until later that evening when we realized my idea was basically the FEMA trailer of birdhouses. He was in full afternoon/evening sun with no shade in clear plastic box. Brilliant.

Plus, his mom had taken offense to the shredded paper towel and carried each and every bit of it over the fence and littered it onto the neighbor’s back patio.

(Lol. That robin-mom is a litter bug.)

So yesterday Ray built him a proper birdhouse and moved him under duress from the male robin, who Ray says ‘locked eyes with me and gave me the what-for. You should have heard the language he was using.

Now every few hours Ray comes and gives me a report.

‘The little guy is still alive.’
‘His mom is out there with worms for him.’
‘He’s still there, I saw him moving.’


Talk about a bird who wants to live. He got knocked out of his nest not by the storm, but by the tree trimmers, hit the concrete, baked in the sun and watched his brother die. Then he got stuffed into a plastic box which was hot enough to cook him, all before getting moved to a penthouse by a human with weird gloves on. Oh, but he did get some water by a strange man with a bendy straw when it was 90 degrees on Saturday.

Talk about a rough weekend. And an amazing story for his bird friends when he gets to kindergarten.

Already he looks so grown up. Before long he’ll be leaving the nest and going to pre-school, then first dates, then prom

But this is why Ray says I’ve made him soft.

‘Before I met you, I sure as hell wasn’t giving baby birds water through a straw or building them birdhouses.’


Then he adds, ‘It says here that only 30 percent of songbirds survive their first year of life. Our guy still has a long way to go. We’re not out of the woods yet.’

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Here You Come Again, And Here I Go

I figured my five days with Ray being out town this past week would be filled with books, boredom and a lot of front porch sitting while eating strawberry fruit bars.


He left Saturday afternoon and I haven’t gotten a moments rest.

It started Saturday evening when I decided to take my scooter out for a spin to charge the battery. I was cruising down Riverside Drive with the hot humid air blowing my day-glo green shirt behind me (safety first) when I remembered that Dolly was playing at Jack Casino.

I had tried to get tickets but got shut-out, so I figured I’d cruise by the casino and maybe listen to my idol sing a few songs. Probably starts at 8, I imagined.

Wrong again. 

When I found out she didn’t go on until 9, I debated leaving. I needed to eat, plus, I don’t like to drive my scooter at night. Safety first, like I said.

But then all reason when out the window when I found a food truck (jackpot!) and saw everyone lined up to get in to see her. 
Well... maybe I’ll just stay until she plays Jolene.

I was crossing Central Parkway on the Baby Blue Angel when I heard the first of that sweet country lilt of hers. I got so excited I found the first 'spot' where I could park — a non-spot in front of a fire hydrant in a no parking zone. 

We are outlaws, the Baby Blue Angel and me. 

'No Parking Anytime' AND a fire hydrant? Let me pull right in here.

I couldn’t see her through all the barriers Jack puts up to keep freeloaders like me from seeing the artists, but I could hear that angelic voice from heaven as clear as day.  

She sounds like she hasn't aged a day over 27, the age she was in 1973 when she recorded Jolene. 

Dolly... soo close, but soo far.

And then, third song in, I’m sitting on a bench across from the casino listening with 50 other freeloaders, when the unmistakable sorcery of Jolene’s chord progression starts. Chills went down my spine, I swear to you. And then I fell into into a music-induced trance for all 2 minutes and 45 seconds of the song.  

It was so much fun and I was having such a great time I thought I’d hang around until she played another song I really like. Since I really like all of them I figured I’d stay for another few songs and head home before it got too dark. It was already coming past dusk at this point and Ray was texting me from Las Vegas that I shouldn’t be riding home in the dark.

Look dude, I’m wearing a day-glo green shirt, I'm the safest thing on two wheels!

But in my head I was morbidly thinking: If it get squished by a car after seeing Dolly, would it be worth it? Not really, but I’m still pumped to be hearing Dolly tell the stories of her songs and sing them to us as though we’re the best audience she’s ever experienced.

About then the acoustic notes of Coat of Many Colors started and suddenly I imagined my life being as rich as it could be in my coat of many colors, tapping my feet on the wooden boards of my old Smoky Mountain front porch. 

Sure, I am almost 30 years younger than Dolly, I have never lived in Tennessee in my life and my momma couldn’t sew me a coat if I were freezing to death, but this is my daydream with Dolly and I’ll live it how I please.    

I heard Banks of the Ohio, Applejack, an American Pie medley, Islands in the Stream, 9 to 5, I Will Always Love You and Do I Ever Cross Your Mind. 

(Do I Ever Cross Your Mind, her staggeringly beautiful trio with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, was turned into some kind of a do-wop number with one of her bandmates. Meh, I didn’t love it.) 

The whole time I didn’t see even a wisp of her wig, but I know she was there. And it was quite nice honestly, sitting out in the grass across from the casino by myself, just listening to Dolly. Even Jupiter came out for the occasion.

Hello moon. Hello Jupiter.

And the Baby Blue Angel made a friend.

It probably goes without saying from here that I ended up staying for the whole show, darkness be damned. Besides, I keep a high-visibility jacket in my scooter and even though it won’t save my life, it did make me feel better about driving home at 11:30 at night.

Spoiler: I didn’t get hit by car or attacked by a rabid nighttime stray dog. 

The Baby Blue Angel and I sailed home without incident, but I can’t tell you how many times I nearly popped off that thing when I hit bumps or manholes too hard. (They’re impossible to see in the dark until you’re right up on them.)

So, so much for my big boring Saturday night with Ray being gone. I didn’t get to relax on Sunday either because I had a wedding shower to attend followed by another scooter ride with a friend. Between all my activities, plus feeding two cats, watering the flowers and starting a new book, I’ve barely had enough time to sit on the porch and eat fruit bars.

I don’t get any rest.