Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where to start?

What an amazing ten days we enjoyed at the Biggest Birding Festival in America.  We arrived May 3 on Lake Erie, a few miles east of Toledo and set up our site at Maumee Bay State Park.  I couldn't wait to register for the festival, learn the schedule, and get the directions to Magee Marsh
boardwalk, the focal point of the bird watching..
Our site during a clearing after a rain shower

Tent of welcome as one approaches the boardwalk east entrance

We were all set and ready for the first birding day on Saturday.  Never could I have imagined the intense grouping of birds in the area.  When birds are migrating many factors influence their success.  In this area, as the birds approach from the south they see the large expanse of Lake Erie - sixty miles across - and "drop" into this special seven-acre woods to rest and eat and strengthen for the next step in the journey.  Birders can walk along the boardwalk and see the amazing birds that are moving through the area.  One of the guides explained to me that the warblers seem to arrive in three major waves. We were there for two of the waves.

Small part of the thousands that visited during the week

The first day on the boardwalk was so exciting when I had sightings of five warblers I had never seen before.  Living near the woods in Maine had given me warbler experiences throughout the years but I had never seen the Bay-Breasted, the Cape May, the Cerulean, the Golden-Winged or the Mourning.
These are part of the thirty different warblers I got to see in that 10 day period.

Cape May Warbler

Bay Breasted Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

Golden-Winged Warbler

The above photos of the warblers came from the Internet but I captured a few of some of the other species also.

Resting Trumpeter Swan.  Neck is stained by iron in water.

American Woodcock

Baby Great Horned Owl peeking out of nest

Baltimore Oriole

Blackburnian Warbler

Black-Throated Green Warbler

Needless to say that after 108 species, 30 warblers, and 14 life birds (those I saw for the first time) in ten days I was filled with such joy and happiness and "birding" energy.  The gratitude I feel for my wonderful partner who encouraged me to take this trip and who accompanied me up and down the boardwalk, is without measure.  She also bought me new tee-shirts covered with birds and gave me cards each day celebrating this special time.  This area will always hold a special place in my heart reminding me of several things:  the great diversity and magic of nature, the joy of sharing our passions with the one we love, and the message in the song "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."

Spring is everywhere! Take time to smell the roses, and to listen to the bird songs around you!

Friday, May 3, 2013

From Florida to Ohio

This will be a quick catch-up since we have traveled from Mom's in Wildwood, Florida and now sit only fifty miles from Maumee Bay State Park, on Lake Erie in northern Ohio awaiting the start of the Warbler Festival.  This ten-day birding experience is my birthday present from Latona.  How did she know?

Getting here has been lots of fun, too.  We drove 200-250 miles each day and made it a goal to stop and visit a special place of interest along the way.   I had a "bird present" each day ( in addition to the cardinals and bluebirds) that included a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Brown Thrasher, Red-Headed Woodpecker, Western Kingbird, Prothonotary Warbler, Scarlet Tanager and yesterday, several Baltimore Orioles.

From Wildwood, we drove to a state park in southern Georgia, and spent three days there so we could visit Plains, the birthplace and hometown of Jimmy Carter, our 39th president.

Red-Headed Woodpecker

The sign to the historic site in the high school and note brother
Billy's gas station in the background. 
The small railroad depot that was his campaign headquarters.

We visited Plains on Sunday April 28, and learned a lot about Jimmy and Rosalynn although we missed seeing them after church that day.  He was in town and does visit with people who come to see him after he teaches Sunday School.  Our interest was also peaked to learn more about Amy, and read some internet articles about her past political endeavors.  How much we had forgotten!

We also ate peanuts, marveled at the red dirt, and observed the orchards/groves of orderly pecan trees.
The state parks in Georgia were beautiful, well-maintained, friendly and give a 20% discount for any senior.  All of this added to the joy of our time in Georgia.

Off to Tennessee for our next stay at the Bledsoe Creek State Park, and a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.  We hit the timing just right, and had a chance to see the Patsy Cline exhibit that will be replaced in early June.  Much of our focus was on another of Latona's favorites, Loretta Lynn.

Our site beside the stream. Park filled with deer... 

and three special friends.  We always saw them walking, feeding
or swimming in this order.

Our next adventure moving north was a stay in Kentucky and a drive through some of the famous horse country around Lexington,  We again stayed at a state park and visited Abraham Lincoln's birthplace.  It is situated on Sinking Spring Farm where the family first settled.  The land was beautiful and in addition to the historic site, it afforded us some good looks at May Apples (old friends from the Appalachian Trail) and at the Scarlet Tanager.

This little spot was where we ate a wonderful breakfast.
One of those places too good to pass up.  Sweet people to go with
the delicious food.

Steps to visit the cabin replica. Each one is to signify
a year of his life.

He was born on the hill where this sits and the model
is believed to represent the original.

Scarlet Tanager looking away.

Blooming May Apple

In a few hours, we will be setting up our site for ten days at the warbler festival and await the wonders of all the colors and songs of the birds.  Hopefully, we will have some pictures of these delightful creatures to share on the next blog.  (There really is so much to share and I'm sorry it is quick and sketchy.)

By the way, seventy years old isn't too bad!  Happy trails.  Love and hugs and good health to each of you from the Daicey Duo.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Latona and I have only a few days left with my mom and stepdad.  We feel happy that they will continue independent living for a bit longer.  With the use of a local taxi company they will have the transportation they need, and a home health care agency will provide weekly check-ups.

Mom loves to "go" so this change will be harder on her than Chick, but she is also very pragmatic and will do what needs to be done.  We have marveled at her statements about just walking to the grocery store if necessary since it is over a mile away.  When we start feeling like wimps we just say "remember MOM"!

As always, we have been given many "jewels" over the past few weeks.  Our bird gifts have included Bluebirds and the Swallow Tailed Kite.  These are all in mom's neighborhood along with Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Sandhill Cranes and Red Shouldered Hawks.

This pic from Cornell Ornithological Lab Webpage
The community called The Villages is expanding and is creating a new section near mom's.  It is called Brownwood and has a western theme for all the building completed so far.  At the entrance they have added some sculpture that we stopped to see.

For us, exciting things have often been happening at the state park mentioned earlier where we go for our daily walk (usually).  The other day we saw that the Magnolias had started to bloom and some water lily pads captured memories of the previous evening rain.

But perhaps the "jewels" we cherish the most happen to us as we travel what we hope is the intentional path we have chosen.  This leads me to a few stories.  We have visited a neighborhood pub in the afternoon while Mom has her nap and were quickly adopted by a new friend.  Our shared times have been nourishing, and we already look forward to reconnecting next year.  Thank you.

We also had to have a visit to a body shop (nothing serious just some rust from the Keys) and had a conversation with a gentleman who wanted to talk with us about his daughter.  She had been seriously abused by a boyfriend and had chosen a female partner.  He talked about his initial struggle but his overwhelming joy at seeing her happiness.  He believed God's love had won out in her life. Thank you.

My last little anecdote happened in the supermarket.  I was about three people back in the line and was observing the two people at the register.  The one appeared to be the daughter, while the older one, who appeared to be the mother, was looking around restlessly and chattering to herself.  While we waited, a thirty-looking black woman entered the store and walked toward an aisle about 50 feet from where we all stood.  The older woman started yelling "youngin, youngin."  The younger woman heard her calling, spun on her heels and made a straight line to the voice she recognized.  She was immediately wrapped in the older one's arms, and after hugs and kisses, they parted with smiles spread across both faces.  The gentleman ahead of me turned to say that the older woman had been a teacher and had taught every kid in this town for the past forty-five years.  This one was one of hers. Thank you.

I have been reminded of all the "youngins" I have been privileged to teach, work with, and see go on their way in their own life.  To each of them I send out a loving shout-out and a special hug! Thank you.

And thank you to all the jewels in our lives.  We can feel your love and support wherever we go.

I am excited to share that I will pass the seventy-year mark before I write again.  Their are so many things to say as I pass this special milepost.  My heart is full and grateful for my wonderful life partner and all we share, my daughter and family, my birth family, my adopted children and families, friends, friends, friends, good health, and memories of the experiences that have made my life full and blessed.  In every way, and to everyone, THANK YOU!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Time with Mom and Chick

After a sweet, and always encouraging visit with Pat and Jean in their new home, we started to prepare for our visit with Mom and Chick.  Life was about to take a new turn for them.

We arrived the Tuesday before Easter, and enjoyed getting back to life in the adult community where they currently reside.  The pond near the clubhouse has a lovely fountain, a screened in sitting spot, a few alligators,  and some snakes that slither around.  A hot tub near the pool also gives us an evening soak which is a nice treat.

What we soon would learn was that Chick was required to surrender his driver's license. Mom hadn't driven for several years due to symptoms of glaucoma, so all of a sudden here goes independence and the ability to do what needs to be done for independent life.  No more shopping trips, doctor's appointments and even lunch at Wendy's without hiring someone or accessing senior services.

They are both amazing, and happily have been able to live as they have wanted for over ninety years.  So here goes another steep learning curve for all of us.

Questions we started to deal with:  What about the car and the signed lease? Will they take it back?  Do they need a new place to live and what will be helpful?  Is it time for Assisted Living?  What can they afford? Will a new place take the cat? Can we find a place in the Villages which would allow golf cart transportation? What are the other options for transportation?  How about home health care?  What about veteran benefits and other health insurance policies? And in all of it, what is comfortable for them?

I feel like I can honestly report that we are working well together so far, and that Mom and Chick are able to say what they feel okay about and what not.  Each day we make some progress. We have also been building a relationship with his son and wife that is very helpful for us all.

Latona and I go for a daily visit to our state park that is only a few miles away and get in a 1-2 mile walk and have a chance to confront some new wildlife adventure.

WE love the Live Oaks and the Spanish Moss in the wind

Part of the pathway

Warmer weather is starting to bring out the snakes which we haven't seen here before. The turtle appeared to have been laying eggs judging by the loose dirt around her tail and back feet.

If all goes as we hope, and Mom and Chick are comfortable and safe, we plan to leave here in several weeks and will head to northern Ohio for a special warbler festival, and then on to Pennsylvania and New Jersey for visits with my siblings.  (Always fun times)

Thank you for your interest in our "doings" as well as the health of our "beings".

More to come ...   please keep sending good energy and helpful prayers for Mom and Chick as they negotiate the next steps of their journey.  I am grateful not only to have my mother for all of these almost seventy years of my life, but to have a mother with such courage, strength, and a stubborn will for a positive life.