Monday, May 04, 2020

Dawn Chorus...

International Dawn Chorus Day: May 3, 2020 

Birds love a quiet daybreak, unfettered by noise pollution. With less traffic, bird song carries further through the air. And that's precisely the idea! It's all about being "heard".  

Deforestation is another reason birds move on to other locales. The forest creates a sort of "sound window" for song and chatter to glide onward to other birds. Needless to say, birds love a good sound window.   

Many will leave the city for quieter grounds, to a place where other birds can clearly discern their important messages. Messages like, "I've got food;" "I have a spiffy nest;" "Where are you?;" "I'm over here;" "My song is quite lovely;" "No, MY song is quite lovely;" "You're pretty;" "You're pretty too". 

Or something like that. 

International Dawn Chorus Day is always the first Sunday in May. The commemoration began in England in 1984, set forth by the Urban Wildlife Trust. It has since spread throughout the world. Birders and non-birders alike, are encouraged to step out an hour or so before day break to witness the symphony. 

But you don't have wait for Dawn Chorus Day, or feel as if you missed it, to revel in the chorus. Any spring or early summer morning will do. Oh, and be sure and come back at nightfall, when the birds sing and chitter-chatter a raucous "nighty-night."  

"I thought it was a diamond drop . . . but now I see it's not, not, not."  --a morning bird 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Conversation

Ah, once again, the sheep are by firelight and involved in The Conversation. It's their fourth, or fifth year to gather on a silver-plated platter. ;)

If you have visited my home over the last month, you are probably aware of the sheep. Because at
some point, I usually direct my guests to the platter. No doubt there are a few (discreetly) raised eyebrows when I start talking about The Conversation. And maybe some sideways glances. But okay, okay, we all know what I do for a living.


My sheep have been around the barn a time or two or three. Paper mâché, felted, S&P shakers, porcelain, crowned, ceramic, woolen. It's all about diversity. And there is always an impostor—a wannabe sheep—a poser. Did you find him? He's cute.

Anyhoo, the conversation continues for however long it takes to sort through the year. Sometimes, it's a long-winded convo. Lots to discuss. I suspect this year it will be especially winded, contemplative, pensive.

So, how'd we do, sheep? With our 365? Were our days kind enough, sterling enough, thoughtful enough? Did we offer our best, our brightest light? Did we rise to the (humane) occasion?

Sheep, did we solve anything?

It's quiet.

So. That's the thing with the sheep on the silver platter . . . and The Conversation.

Happy New Year, my friends.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Meeting Patricia Polacco.

I had the good fortune of making a wish on Patricia Polacco's meteorite a few years ago. And I betcha my face looked a lot like this little girl's. Adults have BIG wishes too!

I felt different after making that wish on that smooth chunk of iron. Determined. Sure. Resilient.

Later that day, I was asked by the school's staff if I wouldn't mind driving Ms Patricia Polacco to the airport. Ummm. Yeah.

Instead of the airport though, she asked me to drop her off at Denver Jewish where her daughter worked at the time. Our conversation idled on the most important things in our lives... our families and storytelling.

I didn't ask to touch the meteorite again, instead I looked her in the eyes, grabbed her hand and shook it. And that's when I made... another wish.    

Monday, June 09, 2014

Here today. Going, going, gone tomorrow.

Yes, the house came down a tiny blonde brick house reduced to a pile of twisted window frames and 70-year-old two by fours. Long ago, the house sat on what use to be a dairy farm. As did all the houses around here. But the lay of the land has changed since that last quart of cream. Now, all of our homes sit on the upside of a hill, with nary a cow in sight, aside from the concrete one in my backyard. 

The backhoe has finished demolition — there are no real remnants of family life at their address on  Cherry Street, where Maria and Gregory once made their home. 

They’re both gone now. Really gone. Maria and Gregory Barlowsky, our Ukranian neighbors. But it wasn’t THAT long ago when they were (t)here, cooking up a storm of borsch or potato pancakes, tending their “estate”, next door to us, speaking Russian or some hybrid dialect combining Russian and Ukrainian. Ever hear a heated argument in Russkrainian? We have. A few.

Maria and Gregory came to America from the Ukraine some years after surviving WW2 and a brutal concentration camp. They came (wounded) HERE to Colorado with two children, hope, trust, and a few pennies. Gregory came without a left arm, apparently the victim of bomb shrapnel. Maria came with an abhorrence for vinegar, apparently the Nazi concentration camp substituted vinegar for water. 

Without a college education, they worked long grueling hours saving their money in hopes of buying the American dream. In the 1970’s, they purchased a humble brick home at 4th and Fillmore and lived quietly for five years. But Gregory was offered a “much-ah betta” job as a deliveryman for a pharmacy in South Denver. So, they sold their Fillmore home and moved southward.

Our little family didn’t arrive next door until the late 1990’s. I recall the two of them standing at the front door, hours before Two Men and a Truck had even pulled away, Maria in a babushka, Gregory gesturing “welcome!” with an arm that wasn’t there. They introduced themselves with a bag of cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets. Every day for the next two weeks they brought homegrown vegetables to our doorstep, hanging them on a doorknob if we weren’t home. 

Gregory never allowed his disability to deter homeownership. He enthusiastically mowed, clipped, trimmed, wheelbarreled and gardened. And Maria did everything Gregory did, plus all the cooking and cleaning. She always said they made a good team, but I secretly thought she was the real super hero of the family.

Or angel.  

Maria told of an angry young man with a bandaged body during 1940’s Europe. She was intrigued the moment she saw him at the camp. Anger and resentment dripped off of this man, she said, who's buttons were never buttoned correctly. One day she watched from afar as he struggled, one-handed, to button his shirt, expletives flying. Little did Gregory know a sixteen-year-old angel was approaching. Maria took hold of his lapel and began buttoning each one into place. She smiled, then walked away without saying a word. After that, she said Gregory was a changed man with all his buttons in a row. It seemed her small kindness squeegeed and swabbed up all his disappointment and rage, replacing them with compassion. 

The two were together ever since then. 

Today though, it is as if no particle of their beings was ever there. The structure, the house, their home, is no more. My mind has to squint to remember how it all laid out. It’s even hard pressed to find leftovers of Gregory’s buzz cut lawn beneath the rubble. But it’s there, I think, somewhere, for a few more hours, before the backhoe scrapes it clean.

Maria and Gregory Barlowsky lived an abundant life on Cherry Street. Of course their grown children remember. Their children will always remember!  But, next door . . . I'll be remembering too.

Monday, May 12, 2014

An Unordinary List

Let’s move the month of May forward with a list! 

Oh-how I like lists. I inherited that trait from my mother. She is the empress of lists. Mom keeps a pen near her steady supply of plain white paper note pads from Walgreens. There, she jots down all the important stuff in her life: grocery lists, birthday party and holiday to-do’s, (down to the minute) thoughts, grievances, affirmations, reminders, sketches, praise, telephone numbers… 

But for me, I beat and plunk out my lists using these square plastic apple keys. (I think they’re plastic. Maybe their some kind of hybrid. It doesn't matter.)

May. Day Twelve. In perpetual motion (✓s mark the accomplishments.):

Look behind you now and then. But keep the pace moving forward, girl. 

Stones and sticks (yes) might trip you up now and again. Occasionally pick one up and examine. 

Investigate the hunches between your thoughts, the ones slightly to the left of your imagination. (✓)

Drink something mildly sweet. And OK, creamy and chocolatey. (✓)

Watch a funny youtube of dogs or kids doing ridiculous things. (✓)

Inquire about a local art/illustration class. 

Watch the (darn) snow melt off of the trees and bushes. (✓) Tomorrow the mess will all be gone. 

Lavish over a perfect pink grapefruit. (✓) Said grapefruit wants to know you thoroughly enjoyed every lip smacking bite. (✓)

Take every fleeting opportunity to hold a pup and tell her she/he is nonpareil. (✓) They like that. 

Friday, May 02, 2014

"21" boats and a wish.


April is over. 

The second to last day of April came with a "21" boat salute, just as Annie was turning 21-years-old. Imagine that! 

We launched my baby girl into a good future. The best future. The only future. She was surrounded by family, food, candlelight, laughter, song, toasts, gifts. Love doesn’t get any more “white light” than that. 

A regatta of life-long admirers will always have her back. Tried and true. Thick and thin. Good to know. Hmmm? 

A tabletop of seashells, fishing nets, sand, hurricane lamps, rope, and those "21" boats — it was all about that nautical launch... into a sublime tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to my love. May there always be a tailwind when you need it most.   

Thursday, March 20, 2014


The Tumbleweed Came Back
Tumbleweed invasion... some times, real life finds authenticity in story books.

A Colorado town is being usurped by a flood of tumbleweeds, as reported in The Huffington Post. See the footage here. It's quite an issue for this community near Colorado Springs, but I couldn't help but see the parallel, (or mirror) to  THE TUMBLEWEED CAME BACK! 

"The tumbleweeds came back, the VERY next day...
Even more came back, they just wouldn't stay away!"

I can just see Granny and the kids skulking through the streets with a pitch fork and (good?) intentions.

I hope to learn how this besieged town digs their way out of this calamity. More at 10. I hope.