Monday, December 26, 2011

Week Before Christmas

There are many days in my life when I feel too busy, too tired, too something to go for a walk outside.  As I have said over and over again, I am always happy that I make it out once I am there.  It was a gray day, and I asked to be shown something amazing.  Being that it was a gray day, I doubted the scenery would be the "wow" that I was gifted that morning.  As I approached the frozen lake, I was drawn to the dusting of snow lightly covering the ice.  The way that the light was playing on the snow, it looked deep and 3 dimensional.  I realized that it looked like clouds look from an airplane window once you have risen above them.  The snow on the ice seemed to have movement even though the air was still.  I kept watching and the "clouds" kept moving and rolling.  This was some kind of wow!  
I thought immediately of this scene when I read my aunt Joann Cierniak's book "Where you Go Now Mon?" about her experience as a Peace Corps worker in Antigua in the early 1960's.  My favorite line from her book is  "...offering the ultimate physical and psychological comfort to anyone open, at least for a few hours, to living in the glory of Nature's Now."
"The glory of Nature's Now."  What a beautiful way to capture the idea that everything that nature offers is a one-time thing.  No two sunsets are alike, and nothing that you see will ever be duplicated in quite the same way.  Each moment is a gift meant to be enjoyed.  Pause, breathe, and take it in.  Savor "the glory of Nature's Now."  Enjoy this wonderful  cloud slide show from the National Geographic website.

Another Dear Friend

I have another dear friend who has become special to me for many reasons.  She is delightful, loves to smile and laugh, and shares a name with my beautiful grandmother.  "Mabel" loves the outdoors, birds, fresh air, and all that nature has to offer.  Presently she is cooped up in a double room not side by side as we would all hope, but split down the middle by a privacy curtain that is constantly drawn.  She cannot see outside unless she goes into the dining room, and she cannot manage that herself.  As I visit nursing homes, I am often scratching my head wondering who in the world designed them!  
Mabel and I have delightful visits.  She loves to laugh and tell me about growing up as part of a large  farm family.  She told me the other day that she and I are going to "do some big things together".   She would love to take a few road trips, but for now, I would love to find her some bird recordings and a way to play them in her room.  It would be so much more pleasant than the sound of blaring daytime tv that is her constant white noise.  
There are people in our lives that make us want to be great people and do great things.  Mabel is one of those people for me.  If I can't help her, she has fanned a flame in me that will not be extinguished until I can successfully help others like her.  To Mabel and me, being able to see what beauty mother nature creates every day should be seen and treasuredTo be able to crack a window in any weather and fill your lungs with fresh outside air, should be a basic right.  To watch birds at a feeder, or squirrels scrounge for food, would provide hours of enjoyment that tv never can.  
Once again, I remember touring Judy Berry's Lakeview Ranch .... I recently got a phone call from my nephew who had visited Lakeview, and he told me that he and his companion were moved to tears more than once.  Judy is working magic, and freely and lovingly shares all that she knows to whomever will listen.  She wants her concept of treating the elderly with dignity and love to expand and multiply exponentially!  I do too.   Last week I dedicated one of my morning walks to my friend Mabel and had a running dialog in my head about the beauty that was all around me and how alive I felt, so that I could remember to tell her everything.
I dedicate the photo of the rose-breasted grosbeak, Mabel's favorite bird, to her as well. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


The lake has completely frozen over now, and it's covered with snow.  It is certainly beautiful.  The geese left early this week for open water somewhere.  I have been thrilled to find that the lake path was plowed after the snowfalls.  It makes walking so much easier.  I spent the first day after a new snowfall walking with my head down.  I love to look at the animal tracks in the snow.  It amazes me to know what normally travels down the same path in the months that there is no evidence left behind.  When I did raise my head to look around, it was stunning.  There was snow stuck to every branch of every tree in sight.  Pure beauty!  This week it has been pretty bitter cold and I'm back to walking with just my eyeballs exposed.  I'm sure that I may frighten people, but I do stay toasty warm.  I looked in my "eagle tree" this week, and knew that with the lake frozen over the chances of seeing her there were remote.  Twice in the last 3 days, I have seen another bird there.  I knew right away that it was smaller than the eagle, and it is much more timid.  An amazing red-tailed hawk has taken off as soon as I get near.  It's belly is such a creamy yellowish white, and it is so silently graceful.  I realized that when I saw the birds in the summer, I thought that their bellies were white, but against the snow, they turn such a warm buttery white. 
I feel so blessed to be able to get outside and experience nature, fresh air, and whatever else the weather brings each day. 
Enjoy your day wherever you are and whatever you are doing.  Decide to be joyful and spread the happiness to everyone you see.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Miraculous Mornings

I had the most interesting talk with a friend the other night.  We each take a daily walk.  She said that she begins the walk with a statement such as "God amaze me today."  I was speechless because I do the same thing with varied words..."Creator/God/Spirit show me something beautiful today." We are both blown away by the things that we see every time that we walk.  I will have others pass me on the path, and I will ask them breathlessly, "Did you see the eagle?"  They will just say no, shrug, and keep on going.  What I think is happening is that by speaking or thinking about our intention to be fully present in nature, we notice things that others miss.  We are passing the same things.  This week, I count myself truly blessed to have seen and heard some of the most beautiful things!  Yesterday, I saw the brilliant bright orange ball of the sun slowly rise over the barren tree tops and fill the sky with its glow.  I saw a huge doe on the path looking right at me.  I saw literally 100s of geese in the one open space on the ice-covered lake.  They were suddenly very noisy.  The first wave of them took flight and then others followed until there was one goose left swimming on the water.  I saw my eagle in flight across the ice.  She landed in a tree, ate something that she had caught, ignored the circling and cawing of the crows, and took off again across the lake.  I found her in her regular tree about 1/3 of the way down, and upon my arrival, she took off again.  To watch her gracefully fly across the lake was a wonder.

Tomorrow, set your intention to be amazed, to be a positive part of everyone's day, and to spread Joy!  You'll be fascinated with how wonderful your day is!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beautiful Birds

Oh but it was a chilly  morning.  We had ice on the ponds and ice along the shoreline on the lake.  I could feel exactly where the gap between my sock and my pant leg was as the biting wind did its best to chill me.  
Every morning when I walk, I look in the eagle tree for "my" eagle.  I haven't seen her in weeks, but I'm an optimist, so I keep looking.  I rounded the corner today and she was there!  Why is it that I'm always surprised when she literally takes my breath away?  I say she because it is one of the biggest eagles that I have ever gotten close to, including those at the National Eagle Center.  The female eagles are larger than the males, and because they are at the top of the food chain, they don't need the camouflage of drab coloring like many smaller birds.  She was so regal atop her perch.  I wondered if the ice brought her back to the lake.  At the eagle center they talked about the ice causing fish kill.  When the fish die and float to the top, it's a free lunch for the eagles.  There was a small muskrat on top of the ice, but the eagle seemed uninterested. The sun was out and was reflecting off of the lake, and I was surrounded by a stunning display of nature.  My day started magically, and I made sure to say thank you over and over for witnessing such beauty.  I am blessed.
Bless yourself now, or when you have 1-2 quiet minutes.  Treat yourself to this beautiful video that a friend sent me of starlings Starlings in flight .  It starts out a bit roughly but stick with it.  It is worth it.  It gives me chills of total amazement every time that I watch it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ever since my computer gasped its final breath, I have been taking my daily walk as if I would write a post about it when I got home.  I have found that I pay attention to things that may have just passed me right by in a different frame of mind.  In October, I listened as the grass changed from its gentle green swishing to the scraping of the brown ends as they crossed in the breezes.  The leaves on the dirt path were soft underfoot even though they were brightly colored yellow and red.  
The most wonderful thing happened to me last Friday.  As I was on my return loop of my walk, I flushed a huge dark bird.  I couldn't see what it was but I kept my eyes on the general area where it landed.  I thought that it was probably a crow, but something told me to pay attention and keep my eyes peeled.  As I neared the area where I thought it may have landed, I flushed it again, and it flew toward me before heading out over the lake.  "It" was a stunning great gray owl!  I have never seen an owl and it got close enough for me to see the rings around its face.  I was absolutely breathless, and rooted in one spot as I watched it fly away.  I had to ask myself if I had really just seen such a beautiful creature.  My cup was running over with gratitude for the magic of the day!

Shoulds vs. Get Tos

I tend to be a person who has a lot of shoulds in her life.  I have begun to adopt more get tos in my life.  About a month ago I left all of the cleaning, yard work and other busy things and drove to Interstate Park in Wisconsin.  I spent the afternoon with my extended family who happened to be camping there.  I was rewarded with a fantastic day, breath-taking scenery, and great memories.  Sometimes, I am truly amazed at all of the fantastic parks, trails, and scenery that are so close.  This was a day that I felt so very fortunate to have left all of my shoulds behind.  I won't remember that the house wasn't dusted, but this and other pictures will be with me for years to come!  Get out and enjoy what surrounds you.  Breathe in the wonder and beauty of nature!  You'll be so glad that you did.

A Dear Friend Gone but not Forgotten

There are rare times in hospice when I get to spend many months with a patient.  There are also times when I really connect with a patient.  "Marge" was just such a patient.  I met her for the first time on her birthday.  I should have known then, that this was going to be a special relationship.  I saw Marge every week from February until late October.  She had a health scare early in the summer and I sneaked in some extra visits with her.  I would just sit and hold her hand with my eyes closed.  She said that it felt comforting just to know that she wasn't alone.  On good days we would talk about her late husband, their travels, the war (WWII), her boys, my boys, and flowers.  She loved all of those things so much, and we laughed and cried countless times.  She was a special lady, who always had a smile and a wink for me upon arrival and departure.  Sadly she passed away at the end of October.  I already miss  her, and mourn the loss of such a dear friend in my life.  I feel so blessed to get to work in hospice and feel doubly blessed that hospice brought me this wonderful friend Marge. 

National Eagle Center Wabasha MN

Well, my laptop died and with it all of my log ins and information.  I haven't posted in ages.  It was paralyzing but I prevailed!
Last weekend I took a drive South on beautiful highway 61 to Wabasha MN.  I visited the National Eagle Center there and spent several hours trying to take in as much information as possible about this stunning creature! I asked a stranger to take my photo with a live eagle.  This is Harriet.  She was injured when she was leaving the nest, and she cannot fly.  She weighs about 20 lbs and is very friendly since she has spent most of her life at the Center.  It was a magical day for me to bond with a bird that has always seemed so rare and powerful to me.  I found it worth every bit of the 2.5 hour drive, and I plan to go back this winter to see the population swell outside where the Mississippi stays open all winter.  The eagles ride the ice floes and feed off of dead fish that rise with the currents.  What a great day!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Awesome weather

I had a great walk with my hubby today.  He had a rare day off and we made the most of it.  We walked around the lake, now lush and green with leaves and branches hanging across our path.  It was pretty sticky, but still a lovely day.  We checked on the progress of 2 properties that had their buckthorn removed.  Now the other non-invasive species have a fighting chance for survival.  It totally changed the landscape.  It is a lot of work to get rid of the buckthorn in  an area, but the pay back is enormous.   Later in the day, we were driving down a dirt road and we spied a Great Egret perched in a tree right next to the road.  I haven't seen that too many times in my life.  In the blink of an eye, we spotted a male belted Kingfisher on a fence overlooking a stream.
It's amazing what one can see when we slow down to look around us!

Physical Pain vs. Spiritual Pain

I just visited with one of my amazing patients yesterday.  I was struck by her honesty and candor.  When I was there I asked if she was in any pain.  She was not.  In hospice, the goal is for the patients to be as pain free as possible.  
I had just spent 90 minutes at an in-service dealing with physical vs. spiritual pain.  The premise was that if a patient has unresolved spiritual pain, it can manifest in physical symptoms, or it can be misunderstood by the patient and/or caregivers as physical pain.  Often the result is medication.  
What my dear friend and I got to is that she is frightened.  She knows that she is in hospice, and that her time is limited.  What she was wondering about was if her new declined state would be the new status quo or if she was in a downward spiral.  I spent some very treasured time just listening to her concerns and letting her cry while we held hands.  Then we talked about what it might mean if this was the "new her" or if things were going to decline. 
It was an important moment for me.  I realized that upon initially asking her if she was in pain, both of us were thinking of the physical pain that she is asked about countless times each day.  What she needed to come to grips with and let out was the spiritual pain of the uncertainty that she was feeling.  That took some time and talking to uncover.  So often, the care-givers are rushed due to their mountainous work load, and they don't have the time to just sit and talk.  
My wish for everyone, patient and care-giver, is that there is someone in their lives who can just come and sit.  Sometimes, the patient is in need of a good listener and hand-holder, and sometimes that is the need of the care-giver. 
A dear, dear friend of mine just lost her father to cancer.  She ran herself ragged between her family in one town, and her parent's home in a town 4 hours away.  She didn't know how long any of them had.  She shared with me, the hours that she laid in bed with her father.  They just talked, or looked at photos, or even watched bad daytime tv together.  She told me that the memories from that time are among her most precious. I don't know if she remembers how many loads of laundry she did, or how many bedpans she emptied, but she has crystal clarity of the times when the two of them were just quietly together.  It gave them time to talk about her father's hopes, fears, and the mark that he left on this earth and in the heart of everyone who knew him.  What an amazing gift!
Pay attention to the spiritual care of the family.  Find the help that makes it possible to "just be" sometimes, and see what comes up for exploration or release. It is the ultimate gift!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mystery Solved

Well, I have been scratching my head at the lack of blooming plants in my back gardens.  Upon closer inspection over the weekend, I saw that the top of my phlox had been eaten.  I wondered if the pesky rabbits were to blame.  This morning I was sitting on my screen porch writing in my journal when the cats went to high alert.  I looked up to see what had gotten their attention.  A doe and two fawn were ambling across my back yard on their way to the woods.  It was amazing to see, and it helped me to solve the mystery of the chewed up plants! 

Last night while chatting with neighbors, one reported that there had been a coyote sighting less than a mile away.  Sometimes I forget that we really are out in the country.  It reminded me that years ago a friend was telling me about a coyote pack that was roaming a suburb.  Small children had to be supervised when outside, and pets that were leashed or in electric fencing were in danger.  The dogs were confined to the invisible fence or leash, but the coyotes were not, and they used that to their advantage while hunting.  It feels a bit like Wild Kingdom around here lately.

I did have a great bird sighting over the 4th.  I was on the Lake Woebegon trail up near St. John's University when I spotted a red bird dart by.  I realized that it wasn't a cardinal because the wings were black.  I looked it up and sure enough, it was a Scarlet Tanager.  I have only seen two of those in my life time.  We were roller blading on the trail and trying to find another wonder- a crop of wild lady slippper that was blooming.  We had to make two trips to find it, and it was almost spent.  The heat of the weekend had faded what must have been amazing blooms! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Home for Sale - Ready to Show in Record Time!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my family has decided to move after 10 years in our current home.  It got me to thinking about people who are in a similar situation, or are having to clear out the home of a parent of loved one.  
Getting the home market-ready can be very straight forward.  Here are a few steps that I found really helpful!
  1. Brighten up any high traffic or damaged areas with a fresh coat of paint.
  2. Get rid of knick-knacks, family photos, valuables, and clutter.
  3. Remove excess furniture.  People have to envision their belongings in empty spots.
  4. Call a foundation such as the Epilepsy or Lupus foundation to donate items that are no longer needed, or consider holding an estate or garage sale.
  5. Rent a storage space for excess:  mowers, furniture, off season clothing etc...
  6. Wash windows and screens and do a deep cleaning.
  7. If you have more than one bathroom, consider using just one.  It makes cleaning a snap!
  8. Brighten up the entry with a new welcome mat.
  9. Play soft music, classical or jazz during showings or open houses.
  10. Neutralize all odors:  food, pet, perfume, etc.  We often can't smell things that we're used to.  Bring in a trusted friend and ask them to be honest about what they smell. 
  11. Wait to put the property on the market until you can be fully behind selling it.  If you can't easily resonate with the sale, get professional help to discover what you are holding on to by holding the property.  With your positive energy working for you, it will sell in a snap!

Long time no Post

Well, I could hardly believe it when I logged into my blog this morning.  I haven't posted in almost one month.  Life has been lived full steam ahead.  
Western Painted Turtle
We are still walking every morning, and now the lake path is surrounded by greenery and flowering shrubs as well as wildflowers.  The goslings are getting big, and the turtles are laying eggs everywhere!  I found a huge snapping turtle in my back yard last week, and we are several blocks from water.  We watched a painted turtle laying eggs in a hole it had dug right next to the path.
Two days ago, the lake was magical!  I was walking alone and didn't see anyone else on my trek.  There was a fog rolling across the lake while a light mist fell.  It was stunning.  I felt so fortunate to be out in nature. 
My days have been filled with regular life in addition to visiting a family member in the hospital.  He had a planned surgery, but it was pretty major, and he ended up spending 10 days in the hospital before moving to a nursing home for transitional care. 
I have been working several jobs since my last posting.  I have started cleaning for a few clients, I planned and worked an estate sale, and I helped run a funeral luncheon in someone's home.
In the midst of all of this activity, my family decided to sell our home of 10 years and move to the country.  I had to do some interior painting and some landscape work.   I have found some great tips to be ready for showings in record time.  I will make a separate post for that.  
I am hoping that we are in a routine now, and that I can start to post regularly again.  I miss seeing the world through the eyes of someone who wants to share its beauty with everyone!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rainy then Perfect!

Last Saturday I walked with a friend in the rain and wind.  After 90 minutes, I'm not sure that there was a dry spot on either one of us.  Neither one of us cared though, because the alternative was to watch the weather from under a blanket eating chocolates.  It felt so wonderful to be so invigorated, even if we were soaked!
Fast forward to today, Monday.  My hubby and I walked under unbelievable sunshine.  A male rose breasted Grosbeak greeted us on the path.  He just perched and looked at me while I looked at him.  They are quite stunning, but I've always thought quite shy, until today.  At our blessings pause point, we were both so thankful for such an unbelievable day, and that we got to be out in it literally soaking it up and savoring it.  It was a treat. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Goslings Have Hatched

I had a rare treat today and got outside to walk at lunchtime.  I walked down to a different section of the lake and was so delighted that I did.  I saw 3 pair of Canadian geese and each pair had goslings trailing behind them.  One couple had 5, one had 4, and one had 3.  I will keep watch over the next several weeks, but I imagine that a few will be lost to the hawks and the eagles in the area.  It's a sad reality but a very natural part of the cycle of natureIt sure was fun today to see the downy little chicks; it put a big smile on my face.  On the way home I saw 2 male mallards and one female perched on the neighbor's roof.  It seems like  a very odd place to hang out.  I wondered if they were planning on staying there or if they just liked the view from their perch. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Oriole

Baltimore Oriole from National Geographic
It's funny to me how the arrival and sighting of different birds throughout the season evoke certain happy feelings.  This morning I heard an oriole before I saw it.  I had thought that I heard one's throaty call yesterday at my home.  Sure enough, I spotted the delightful bright orange of the Baltimore oriole who was singing in the tree top. I love seeing their unique hanging nests in the trees in the fall when the leaves disappear.  They are amazingly engineered.  It's getting harder and harder to find the birds as the trees continue to leaf out.  I am already needing more patience to see my little feathered friends.  We're enjoying another warm day with storms and then sun.  Spring is so lovely!

Great book about surviving loss

Good Samaritan Society-Stillwater will host Begin Here author
Local author Kat Reed will give a presentation on her book, Begin Here: Helping Survivors Manage on Friday, May 13th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Her workbook guides survivors through the seemingly overwhelming practical and necessary tasks that remain after a death, from residential to financial to personal.  The guide/toolkit is based on her own experiences after her mom's death. Discovering the lack of resources available to help her and her predominantly deaf dad with these tasks, Reed researched and investigated solutions to the practical matters for herself. In turn, she self-published her user-friendly book in 2009 as a way to ease this burden for other survivors. This is a free presentation. Copies of the book will be available for sale.

This sounds like a great resource and a great presentation!
This announcement was in the Stillwater chamber newsletter today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Simply Glorious

What a day.  I actually walked today in short sleeves!  It was a wonderful day to be out in nature in Minnesota.  The birds were singing and everyone who we passed was smiling and had a spring in their stepAll of the trees have leaves opening and the countryside is greening.  If you can't get outside, open a window and breathe the wonderful fresh air! 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rainy Monday

We walked in the pouring rain this morning.  There wasn't any real break from it, and the lightening and thunder were amazing.  We had to peel our wet duds off on the porch, and they left puddles of water as they dried.  It looks like we will have some mild temps this week.  Did I really see 80 degrees in the forecast?  If the rabbits had not eaten all of my tulips and left some green leaves, they may actually have opened this week.  I must admit that rabbits are not my favorite critter because of the damage that they do to my plants and bushes.  I have learned to plant some things that they like to give them something to eat, so they will leave the things I care about alone.  I was cleaning out my gardens all weekend, and I can tell you that we needed this rain.  Things were quite dry.  This will really green things up, and the maple leaves that are just now open, should grow quite a bit this week.  I also saw that the birch have really come alive.  Enjoy!

Let's Go Fishing

I love having helpers all over the place.  My hubby was at Walmart over the weekend and he saw a group out front raising money.  He stopped to hear what they had to say, and told me later, he couldn't figure out why he stayed to listen to the whole thing and chat with them.  Suddenly he realized that I needed the resource to pass on through my blog.
Let's Go Fishing is a free program, and according to their website  "Let's Go Fishing of Minnesota is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals through fishing and boating excursions that strengthen communities, build relationships and create memories."
Here's the link to their great site:
Let's Go Fishing 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Get outside!

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
 James Matthew Barrie

Just a quick post....what a perfect day.  If there is any way that you can get outside for a walk, a 5 minute break, digging in the dirt, a phone conversation or a picnic lunch on a park bench...Go For It.  The day is beckoning.  Get out and soak it up!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Patience and Patients

As a highlight of my week last week, one of my long term hospice patients with dementia was alert and lucid. When I introduced him to someone new, he shook their hand and greeted them.  Then he and I shook hands and he didn't let go of mine.  I sat right down on his bed, and we talked a bit about his past as a scientist for 3M. I asked him if he was the kind of scientist who worked on paper, or if he did cool things in a lab and got to do experiments.   He was glowing when he told me that he remembered that he wore a lab coat every day.  He was full of smiles and little bits of information, and after almost an hour I gently extracted my hand and left to give him time to rest.  
I went to a different home to see another patient and ended up feeding him "lunch".  Pureed lasagna and beans didn't look good to me and didn't seem to taste good to him, but we cooperated enough to get some down.  After lunch, the sun was shining brightly, so I wheeled him out onto the patio and into the fabulous sunshine.  It was a bit cool, but he and I stayed outside and sat holding hands. He closed his eyes and fell asleep in the sunshine, with the fresh air filling his old lungs.  He was so peaceful, and I swore that if he could speak he'd have said "Aaah, this feels so fantastic!" I wondered when he had last been wheeled outside.
There are days when I feel so ineffective as a volunteer and days when we are all in sync.  This hospice day was one of the best that I have ever had.  I felt so very blessed!

It's a Beautiful Day

Rue Anemone by Sarah
Rain, sun, cold nights, warm days, more rain and more sun.  This morning was stunning; it was warm and threatening rain.  I played it safe and wore my rain pants, which I happily didn't need.  Just as we rounded the corner and the whole lake came into view, I noticed two dark shapes in a tree right next to the path.  We halted and caught our breath when we realized that the shapes were 2 mature bald eagles perched in the tree-top.  We stood for a minute or so and then started walking towards them.  When we got right under the tree, I was looking almost straight up at the eagles, and one of them was looking straight down at me.  We were pretty curious about each other.  I was glad we took the time to stare at them, because on our return trip, they had both flown off.  I did see another happy sight along the woodland path:  the Rue Anemone is blooming.  The delicate green leaves with small pink flowers push up through the dead leaves and bob their small heads in the slightest breeze.  We almost missed their gleeful little spring welcome.   "I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden."  ~Ruth Stout

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hard to keep smiling with snowfall

Ok, enough is enough.  Sunday the wind chill was 20 degrees - May 1st for those of you paying attention.  I know, Spring is pushing through and I survived (with a smile) by thinking happy thoughts.  Thank goodness because earlier today there was snow accumulation - gasp!  According to the weatherman, Paul Douglas, we should see high 60s Tuesday and maybe 70 before the end of the week!  I am counting the minutes.  On our walk this morning, bundled again in winter duds, we saw some beautiful tree swallows excitedly flying and then perching on nearby branches.  They have a way of lining up end to end on the branch  that is so cozy.  They would land and perfectly space 7 or 8 birds wide on one branch, and 5 or 6 wide on a smaller branch. Soon the little tree looked like it was alive with giant buds.  They would all perch and then flit off, giving us a treat with their iridescent blue back feathers shimmering in the light!  Then the whole process would be repeated.  We stood and watched them for a long time.  It was just too amazing to rush past. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Cedar Waxwings Return

photo by Jupiter Saturn
Spring continues to spring forth.  The bright red buds on the maple trees are getting fatter day by day, and the soft yellow-green buds of the willows have opened into tiny leavesWe can rest assured that even with the wacky snowfall as recently as yesterday, Spring continues to creep into our lives.  This morning on our walk, we saw a big group of gray birds flitting in the trees next to the path.  I almost kept on walking, but something told me to stop and pay attention. There were two or three beautiful cedar waxwings within six feet of us and probably 15-20 in the nearby trees.  We just stood and looked at each other from our prospective perches.  For me, the arrival of the waxwings means that spring is undeniable.  They aren't hearty like the first robins; they wait until the warm weather is really here before they take up residence.  I feel as if they have brought true spring with them.  Make sure to get out and soak up some spring sunshine, and take a minute to notice the beautiful spring emerging all around!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mother Nature sure is fickle.  My friend and I walked among raindrops and snowflakes this morning, and the wind was harsh once more.  We saw the most amazing thing.  Across the lake a large flock of small birds, possibly chickadees or juncos, was resting on a downed tree hanging over the water.  Several birds of the same species were flying in ovals next to the group and singing a happy song.  All at once, the whole group took flight and swooped around in a completely synchronized dance, and then returned to rest on the tree.  We watched them do this several times.  My friend commented that it appeared by their choreography that they were moving with one shared brain.  The beauty and wonder of it left me breathless.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cleansing Rain

This morning it was in the 40s and raining like crazy.  My friend and I dressed head to toe in rain gear, and within minutes, the whipping rain reminded us that we both need to waterproof our boots again.  There was such a beautiful solitude this morning amid the falling rain.  
Google image
It wasn't a big surprise that we didn't pass anyone along the lake path.  This is our first heavy rain since winter, and it has been a dry spring.  Everything felt dirty and dusty until this morning.  We stopped on our return loop to bless the cleansing rain.   We chose to let it wash away any discomfort or negative emotion that we had been holding.  It felt so wonderful to let everything go and breathe deeply the fresh clean air of renewal. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You are Perfect

"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

Mother Theresa

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Rare Treat

I had a nice walk in the sunshine over the weekend and decided to bring my binoculars.  What a nice surprise to discover that the small brown looking ducks across the lake was really a pair of hooded mergansers.  It was stunning to watch the male roll his head forward and back, changing the shape of the white spot on his head.  I just sat on the shore of the lake and watched the birds pass me by.  
Photo by Bill Schmoker
This morning on our return loop, I looked up into a tree right along the path where the eagles like to perch.  Sure enough, I saw a huge dark shape with a white head.  We were wondering  if the eagle might take flight as we approached.  They are known as a sign of wisdom, and I think it knew that we were no threat so far below, on foot, and just curious.  What a sight to behold.  My friend commented that he is always surprised at just how huge the eagles are up close.  What a blessing that we not only noticed the eagle, but that our crisp vision enabled us to see the amazing creature clearly.  We just stopped and breathed in our blessings today.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Reaching for the Stars Came to Be

Do you ever wonder how someone started a business, how they got the idea, and how it all came together?  I wrote about my experience for our church newsletter.  Here is the link, and the article is on page 5.  Look for the heading "Body Spirit Connection". 

What will they remember?

Yesterday during my rounds, I was visiting with a man that suffers from advanced dementia.  I like to draw people into the moment with questions that may be easy to answer.  I found a photo of "Bob" and his wife.  Bob was in an army uniform, so we talked a bit about that.  He was a Staff Sargent in WWII.  I asked about his wife.  He was able to tell me her name which was nice.  I had a hunch and asked him if she like to sing.  I watched a light turn on for him.  He told me that she did indeed like to sing.  I asked if she sang around the house.  He got a little cloudy then and said that he didn't remember her singing around the house.  I asked if she sang in a choir.  Bob got a sparkle in his eye, became excited as he found the memory, and told me that she belonged to the church choir and loved to sing.  It was a wonderful moment for both of us. 

Google images
This is one of the many reasons that I love working in hospice.  It puts me in touch with what really matters over and over again.  I left wondering... if my friends and family only had a limited memory, what might they remember about me?  Life is full of little things that leave lasting impressions.  I made a new vow to LIVE, LOVE, and LAUGH more often.  That's what memories are made of.


Scaup from Google Images
Wood ducks from Google Images
Where did our warm sunny spring run off to?  We added layers again this morning to fight the nasty wind coming across the lake.  We were glad to be bundled.  Each morning we scare off two pair of wood ducks.  They are so beautiful.  On our return trip today we also flushed out a very cautious Scaup.  It was too far away to get an exact match on the species but it was quite a sight to watch it take off across the water.  Like the loon yesterday, the white underside of the Scaup was almost blindingly white.  After a winter of washed out color and a spring still brown, the bright plumage of the migrating birds is a rare treat! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Abundant Wild Life

Loon and baby from National Geographic
Our walk this morning was chilly.  The wind hasn't gotten the memo that it is now spring.  As we neared the lake we were greeted by a calling Kingfisher.  I had forgotten that they are quite large - a fact that my friend pointed out to me.  We rounded the first corner and when the lake came into view, so did a heartwarming site - our first loon sighting of 2011!   They really are spectacularly beautiful birds.  Their white breasts are almost blinding against the deep black of their feathers.  Welcome back loons.  Now we will be lulled into deep sleep by their haunting calls echoing across the lake.  Even nights "in town" are transformed instantly to relaxing summer nights at the lake when the melodic cries of the loon reach us.  Aaaahhhhh.

Numerology of 9

I had posted in March, that I saw 9 eagles flying right over my house.  My great friend Robin just sent me the numerology for the number 9:

You said you had nine eagles flying over your house...9-symbolizes completion, ending of the old and the eagles symbolize great power/soaring spiritual self/ freedom to be used wisely/accepting responsibility/taking care of one's own needs.